Friday, August 31, 2007

So Very Synchronous

My two posts from this morning were about the 2008 presidential race, and a band that features Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Now supposing, just supposing, you could take those two posts, melt them in a saucepan, mix them together, then reconstitute the mixture and put it on the internet. What would you have?

You might have something that looks a lot like this site. Yep, it looks like he's running again!

Imagine if he were to get elected. In just over twenty years, we will have gone from a shining city on a hill to the man on the silver mountain. Ronnie, can you spell it all out for us?

What is he trying to tell us in this song?

I'm a wheel, I'm a wheel
I can roll, I can feel
And you can't stop me turning

He's willing to change his mind on critical issues as he sees fit, even if it goes against sentiment reflected in the opinion polls.

Cause I'm the sun, I'm the sun

He advocates alternative energy sources, such as solar power.

I can move, I can run
But you'll never stop me burning

He encourages physical fitness by exercising, including jogging, which burns off body fat.

Come down with fire retaliation, in the event of any further terrorist attacks on America.

Lift my spirit higher

All Dio supporters should have a cheerful attitude about things, and that makes him happy!

Someone's screaming my name

He's aware that there will always be criticism of his policies, no matter what, but he will continue to support everyone's right to free speech.

Come and make me holy again

...because the religious vote should not be taken for granted on either side.

I'm the man on the silver mountain

The USA will enjoy a surplus under Dio (literally under him).

I'm the man on the silver mountain

Because he would rather raise America on a mountain of silver than impale it on a cross of gold.

I'm the day, I'm the day
I can show you the way

He'll give frequent daytime press conferences and speeches -- sorry if they preempt your game shows and soap operas.

And look, I'm right beside you

Because, as president, Dio will stand for ALL Americans, and not just those who voted for him.

I'm the night, I'm the night
I'm the dark and the light

Dio will take a more active role than any Commander-In-Chief in our nation's history. He'll be the Special Ops president, his infra-red goggles always at the ready!

With eyes that see inside you

Though he may use more high-tech methods for Airport Security. Would you rather be x-rayed or strip searched?

And so on. Fred Thompson ought to declare soon. If he doesn't, Dio is going to steal away his base.

It Goes On And On And On...It's Heaven and Hell

The other day, I learned that my local record store (a place called The Exchange) is offering the new Heaven & Hell live video and audio releases for obscenely low prices until September 2. The CD is $9.99, while the DVD is only $6.66 (ha!).

It's always fun when one of your favorite bands gets back together after a long separation, and the version of Black Sabbath that my friends and I called "Dio's Sabbath" is no exception. Sometimes it's hard to listen to a once-great vocalist in his sixties; by that time, years of stretching the chords (as well as, quite often, excessive drinking and smoking) have taken their toll on the performer. Not so with Ronnie James Dio. The man (on the silver mountain) sounds top-notch in this performance, which was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in NYC several months ago. The rest of the band (Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice) have not lost a step either. Listen to a live performance of Black Sabbath in 1982, or in 1992, and compare it with this recording of H&H from 2007. There's almost no way to tell the difference.

These remarkably affordable recordings almost make up for the fact that the Heaven & Hell tour doesn't seem to be stopping anywhere near Pittsburgh. Fair enough -- now that I have them, I'm going to play the hell out of them!

Here's a different show from the World Tour, with lots more crowd noise than an official release:

GOP Bloggers Can Shove Their Straw Poll Up Their Collective Ass

You know, Ron Paul is not perfect. Don't expect me to go nuts like many of his internet supporters and harass anyone who dares criticize him. He's not that important. I do like him as a politician, though, and that's not something I am wont to say about most political creatures. I wish there were more like him in Congress. There would be more deliberation, more debate, more discussion about what's best for the country within the bounds of the Constitution, instead of the customary "will this help me get re-elected?" nonsense that defines government these days.

Do I want him for my President? I'm not sure. If he's on the ballot come next Spring, I'll vote for him, but Pennsylvania has such a late primary that the Republican nomination is always decided by the time Election Day rolls around in May. My presidential primary vote is just for kicks. Why else would I have voted for Gary Bauer in 2000?

Anyway, it's too early for me to make a firm decision right now. I could change my mind half a dozen times between now and next Spring.

One thing that's clear about Ron Paul right now is that he is a declared candidate for the Republican nomination. He participates in the debates, he has a solid base of support around the country, and he even receives a modest amount of news coverage. But you wouldn't know that if you attempted to take the latest 2008 GOP Primary Straw Poll at GOP Bloggers.

I'm not going to bother posting the poll here. I passed the first time I became aware of it back in February. It was obvious to me then what a bunch of tools GOP Bloggers is, and it's even more obvious now. I decided to put the poll on my site in March, and again in April, even though Ron Paul still wasn't included. The tools finally gave in and allowed us the privilege of selecting (or ignoring) Ron Paul as we saw fit when they re-ran the poll in May.

Now, here it is, three months later, and the tools have decided to drop Ron Paul from their worthless straw poll because of some internet shenanigans perpetrated by some of Dr. Paul's more zealous supporters. Fine. That's their prerogative. It's not important. They even acknowledge that theirs is not a scientific poll. But look -- if you're going to run a poll of presidential candidates, then offer the names of those who have declared and are actually in the running. Not everyone who supports, or leans, Ron Paul is a troll or a spammer.

This is why I rarely blog politics anymore. It's difficult to take my own side seriously when this sort of thing goes on.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Uncool Album Cover

This is the cover of the classic album that I've been listening to this afternoon:

It's an unusual picture. The five members of the band who recorded the album and toured in support of it are depicted in unique artistic form. It's not the best album cover art I've ever seen, yet it is not the worst either. One this I can say with conviction is that it is certainly the hairiest album cover pic I've ever seen. The music, by Blackmore and Co., makes up for this odd sketchwork.

Plus, it has Ronnie James Dio. You can't go wrong with Dio.

The picture still bothers me, though. I can't help wondering if someone, somewhere, go this tattooed on his back. And that makes the image even more disturbing.

It's enough to make me want to go listen to Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow.

Bean There, Gonna Do It Again

Frankly, I don't care what Barry Paris says in his review of the "Mr. Bean's Holiday" movie. There is no way that anything featuring Mr. Bean, or starring Rowan Atkinson, can NOT be funny.

Besides, Mr. Paris's review jumped the shark when he essentially admits, in the very first paragraph, that he doesn't particularly like or understand Mr. Bean anyway. Great way to review a movie, P-G. Send someone with a prejudice against the subject matter to review a film. Brilliant.

This remarkably negative review makes me want to see the movie more than I already did.

Death In The Tardis

Imagine my shock when I saw this sentence fragment floating at the head of an article on the Psychosis-Gazette's newly redesigned web site yesterday:

Good luck trying to catch him and lock him up. He's a very difficult man to keep up with.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What I Did On My Vacation

Earlier this month I took a week off from work, as I usually do during early August. I though about the placed I could go. I could take the family camping at a state park here in Pennsylvania. I could take them on a trip to Minnesota, as I did two years ago. I could take them to Washington, DC, as I did two years before that.

My car had other ideas. The ABS light on the dashboard is both blessing and curse; nice to know that something is wrong, but why the mystery? We weren't going to take a chance on a breakdown, so we stayed home. I'll get the car looked at, as soon as I figure out how I'm going to pay for it.

Even as a family man slowly approaching middle age, I retain a touch of wanderlust from my younger days. So, one day early that week, I took a drive to Steubenville, Ohio. It's not a vacation destination; I was visiting the courthouse to study old records. (Yeah, that's what I do for kicks on my day off.) As I headed west on US 22, the thought occurred to me: I have to drive across a bridge. This was going to be my first bridge crossing since the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis. I hadn't been to Steubenville for a few years, since a friend of mine lived there in the 1990s. The US 22 bridge over the river is, as my friend described it back in 1992, "a really cool looking ultra-modern suspension bridge". This is the bridge that I used to get to my friend's old house a few miles north of the city. It is not the bridge that one takes to get to downtown Steubenville.

The most direct route to the heart of the city of Steubenville lies a bit farther south down the river. You drive a couple of miles on West Virginia Rte. 2 and make a right at the next light onto the Market Street Bridge, which takes you right into the heart of the downtown. The US 22 bridge isn't old enough to drink or vote. The Market Street Bridge is over 100 years old. It seems sturdy enough, being constructed from steel (as you'd expect in this area with all of its steel mills), though it does have its fair share of rust. By "fair share", I mean that I'm glad I did not make physical contact with the girders for fear of contracting tetanus.

Even worse than the rust was the road surface, or lack thereof. I'm sure the old bridge is safe enough, being made of steel and all, but there is no pavement of any kind at the bottom. You drop a penny out the window, it doesn't stop until after it hits the water. Nevertheless, I felt safe. It didn't seem like the kind of bridge that was going to collapse under the weight of my minivan.

That afternoon, I scooted over to Butler, PA. I had to cross the Ohio River again, though at a more distant point upriver. This time I felt a little more skittish. The I-79 bridge is the kind of bridge that's so high that you don't feel like you're on a bridge unless you start thinking about it. Believe me, I was thinking about it: The Minnesota bridge was an interstate! My life is at stake!

I hadn't had such irrationally paranoid thoughts since September 2001.

Still, it's a nice bridge, and I wasn't consumed with thoughts of rust, nor of dust or lust. All I wanted to do was get to the other side. And so I did. Then I wanted to return the same way. I did that, too.

Bottom line? I like bridges. They have character. They're mostly safe. Statistically, the chances of being on a bridge that suddenly collapses into the river are microscopic. I can't get very far around here without needing to drive over a bridge.

If, someday, I'm on a bridge that happens to fall into the river while I'm on it, well, que sera sera.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Advocates Genocide?

Technically, you could call it that. Maybe. If they really want to get rid of the evil life forms.

Minnesota Nightmare

Sometimes, when I'm driving my vehicle across a bridge, I start wondering about what I would do if the bridge suddenly collapsed. Safety is frequently on my mind, probably because I have children. I foresee the possibility of something bad happening in almost everything I do or see and consider the worst case scenario, even if nothing is wrong. How do I protect the kids if something bad happens? I've traveled over bridges thousands of times in almost 40 years of life. Why do I wonder whether I'm going to end up in the river below?

Well, because it really can happen, as it did in the Twin Cities yesterday. This is about the most horrifying thing I've seen since September 2001. The Minnesota bridge collapse hits a little close to home, since I have both close and distant relatives in the area, as well as a number of friends whose acquaintance I have made since I discovered blogging a few years back. I hope my friends and relations up there are alright.

Kudos to the heroes, both authorized first responders as well as the ordinary people who felt the need to help, for their actions on the scene. That was the American spirit in action.

This sort of tragedy could happen anywhere, including here in Pittsburgh. Let's hope it never does.

(Minnesota blog coverage here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Where's Mitch?)