I decided to add in all of my songs with ‘Black’ in the title, which only got me seven more.  Some great stuff in here from some of my favorite albums.  No U2, Pink Floyd or Marillion, strangely enough.

“Black & White” is my favorite Sarah McLachlan song.  Surfacing came out at a very interesting time in my life, and the lyrics have stuck with me ever since.   “Black Blade” is one of my favorites by BÖC, and was written by author Michael Moorcock (who also wrote my all-time favorite BÖC song, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”).  My first introduction to Moorcock was a roundabout way, coming from the anthology “Tales of the White Wolf,” a collection of stories about Moorcock’s iconic character Elric of Melnibone by a host of authors.  I was attracted to the book mainly because of the cover art, by Gerald Brom, one of my favorite artists.  Brom did a lot of D&D covers, and I was quite the D&D geek.  Wait, did I say ‘was’?

Once I found the collection of Elric stories, I was hooked.  Everyone loves an anti-hero.  The real fun is understanding all of the various homages to Elric in other fantasy.  There are plenty.

Other songs high on my list are “Black Lodge” (and the creepy video starring Jenna Elfman) and “The Lady Wore Black,” from a time when Queensrÿche was still awesome – the time before Chris Degarmo was still in the band.

Black” – The Birthday MassacreElrice of Melnibone
Black” – Pearl Jam
Black & White” – Sarah McLachlan
Black Blade” – Blue Öyster Cult
Black-Dove (January)” – Tori Amos
Black-Eyed” – Placebo
Black Friday Rule” – Flogging Molly
Black Gold” – Soul Asylum
Black Lodge” – Anthrax
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” – Santana
Black Milk” – Massive Attack
Black Poison Blood” – Kill Hannah
Black Velvet Band” – Dropkick Murphys
Black Velvet Band” – The Dubliners

Bleed Black” – AFI
“Buried in Your Black Heart” – Burden Brothers
The Cold Black Key” – Azam Ali
Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver” – Blue Öyster Cult
The Lady Wore Black” – Queensrÿche
The Red and the Black” – Blue Öyster Cult
See You In Black” – Blue Öyster Cult

Next week, I go blue!  Wait, not that kind of blue.  I mean songs with Blue in the title.

Is it safe to come out now?

Back just before the election (October 26th, to be exact), one of my favorite political cartoonists, Matt Bors, published this cartoon:

Drone Out The Critics

Matt was running a Kickstarter to raise money for an upcoming book at the time, and one of the donors, someone he considered a friend, retracted his $250 donation and cut off contact over this.  $250 is a big chunk of change to fork over for a book.  It’s also a big chunk of change to take back over an opinion, especially when you consider that Matt was no stranger to taking Obama to task for drone warfare.

Now that we’ve established that, according to the Democratic base, criticizing Obama was off-limits in the run-up to the election (not to mention strongly frowned-upon for the entirety of the past four years), when is it acceptable?  Now that we no longer have to worry about electing or re-electing the first Black president (or any of the other insane justifications I’ve heard), can we criticize him for what his administration has done?

Back in 2008, I put a lot of thought into the candidate I was backing from among the initially crowded Democratic field.  I examined my priorities and weighed them against the stated positions of the candidates, and came up with Bill Richardson, who agreed with all of my deal-breakers except capital punishment.  He dropped out early, so I shifted to John Edwards who agreed with me slightly less than than Richardson. Once Edwards bowed out, I grudgingly moved my support to Obama.  I did not donate to the campaign, and I did not volunteer for the campaign.  I voted for him, but I wasn’t going any further than that.

Fast-forward to 2012, by which time I was so disgusted with the administration that I refused to repeat that vote (I voted for Jill Stein).  I had a host of reasons – Indefinite detention, drone warfare, milquetoast healthcare “reform,” repeated capitulation in the face of an increasingly shrill and out-of-touch minority, especially when he had the mandate and numbers to quash their obstruction, and the ever-increasing seizure of power by the executive.  When I voted for Obama in 2008, there was one thing that made it all OK – he was a Constitutional scholar, a professor who intimately understood the document and promised to return to its precepts after the eight years of shredding it took.  That lasted all of a few months.  Nearly all of the Bush-era abuses of Constitutional authority remained, and a number were expanded.  I was not about to vote in favor of that.

Now, I was told by many people (including my State Senator, who described my position as “masturbatory”) that a vote for “Not Obama” was exactly the same as a vote for Romney.  I viewed this as the height of flawed logic.  I understand that we’re kind of stuck with our first-past-the-post system, but that doesn’t put the onus on me to vote for one of the two major parties simply based on a blind taste test, especially when there were three other parties on the ballot.  The onus is on those parties themselves to make themselves palatable.  Just because one party took positions favorable to rape and murder is not enough, should not be enough, to compel me to vote for the other party – which, incidentally, itself took a favorable position on murder, as long as the murderees were brown and in other countries.

So, getting back to the question – is it safe to come out now?  Can I openly criticize the President and his horrifying policies, or is that setting up Democrats for failure in 2014 and 2016?  And if not, will it ever be safe to express an opinion out of lockstep with the party and not be branded as a country-destroying lunatic by people I who might otherwise agree with me if the President doing these things was a Republican?

Be Beautiful

Seemed like a good start for B.  I’ve got 5 different versions of “Beautiful Day” (Album, 2 live, 2 remix), which is not even close to the most versions I have of one song (10 different versions of “Elevation” seems to be leading right now).  Yes, I have the vast majority of every song that U2 ever recorded.
“Beaujolais Day” by Marillion is a B-side from Clutching At Straws, and features the guitar solo from “Hotel Hobbies”.  Kind of look into the work in progress of an album.

“Beautiful Girl” was on the first mix-CD I made for my wife, just before we started going out.  Both of Poe’s albums are high on my list of favorites, and it’s a real shame how she was shafted by her label.

I have no idea what’s up with the Sailor Moon clips on the Burden Brothers track.  You may recognize the voice of the lead singer as Vaden Todd Lewis from Toadies.

“Be Like Jim” – Pop Bomb
“Be My Light” – Majid Derakhshani
“Be Thou My Vision” – Edison’s Children
Beach Sequence” – Passengers
Beat ‘Em Up” – Blue Öyster Cult
Beat On The Brat” – U2
Beaujolais Day” – Marillion
Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera
Beautiful” – Creed
Beautiful” – Marillion
Beautiful” – Tapping the Vein (The Damage)
Beautiful” – Tapping the Vein (Undone)
Beautiful Day” – U2
Beautiful Day” – U2 (Live from Slane Castle)
Beautiful Day” – U2 (Live in Zagreb from U22)
Beautiful Day” – U2 (Quincey Remix)
Beautiful Day” – U2 (The Perfecto Mix)
Beautiful Day Without You” – Röyksopp
Beautiful Disease” – Anger of the Lamb
Beautiful Girl” – Poe
Beautiful Night” – Burden Brothers
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” – Lady Gaga

I apologize for the Creed.  I was young and dumb once, too.

Gazing at a sea of stars: Astronomy to Ave Maris Stella

A long list, but chock full of good stuff.  Pink Floyd always seems to find their way into these lists, this time with like fifteen solid hours of music in two songs.  OK, maybe not fifteen, but close well over 40 minutes.

Starting with my first “hard rock”/prog rock love, Blue Öyster Cult, through Floyd and Marillion, and even hitting some Barry Manilow before finishing with This Ascension, who were a gothic/ethereal outfit from San Francisco who I was introduced to by the same person that got me hooked on BÖC.  1991’s Light and Shade is my favorite of their albums

Astronomy” – Blue Öyster Cult
Astronomy” (from A Long Day’s Night) – Blue Öyster Cult
Astronomy Domine” (Piper at the Gates of Dawn) – Pink Floyd
Astronomy Domine” (Ummagumma) – Pink Floyd
Astronomy Domine” (Pulse) – Pink Floyd
“Asylum Satellite #1” – Marillion
Asylum Satellite #1” (Live) – Marillion
“At All” – Gary Billings
At The Heart Of It All” – Nine Inch Nails
ATF Theme” – Toadies
Atlantic City” – Bruce Springsteen
Atom Heart Mother” – Pink Floyd
Atomic Punk” – Van Halen
Attack” – System of a Down
ATWA” – System of a Down
August Rain” – This Ascension
Auld Lang Syne” – Ann Wilson
Avaze Shoushtari” – Masha Vahdat
“Ave Maria” – Luciano Pavarotti
Ave Maria” – Barry Manilow
Ave Maris Stella” – This Ascension

Hooray Sportspuck!

Hooray Sportspuck!

I’m a pretty crazy hockey fan.  I take my hockey obsession to the nerd level, analyzing numbers, watching stats, and basically getting technical on every aspect of the game.  They say that jocks are just sports nerds, but I’m not a jock.  I’m just a hockey nerd.  The NHL season is days away from starting, after almost being cancelled for the second time in seven years.  That’s right, for those of you who don’t follow sports, the National Hockey League has had three work stoppages in the past 18 years, one of which cost them the 2004-2005 season.  All three of those work stoppages have been lockouts, which is fundamentally different from strikes. In a lockout, the owners try to hold the players over a barrel and demand concessions.  In a strike, the players do the opposite.  I’m supportive of strikes, not so much of lockouts.

Now, people start to get weird when discussing labor disputes where the laborers in question have an average salary that starts with 6 figures and goes up from there.  I can understand why people like to describe them as “millionaires arguing with billionaires over money.”  The economics are still the same: The owners, after making record sums of money, demanded salary and benefits concessions from the players.  In the 2004-2005 lockout, the league, citing economic hardships (of which there certainly were), forced the players into a 24%, off-the-top pay cut on every contract.  The previous CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) had players making 76% of all league revenues.  The 2005 CBA dropped this number to 57%.  Last September, the League’s initial bargaining offer dropped that further to 45%.  Let me reiterate: The NHL wanted to drop the player’s share of the revenue from over 3/4 to under 1/2 in the span of seven years.  That’s a pretty sizable pay cut, even when you consider that the league made $3 billion last year, a record high.  Understandably, the players said “no thank you.”

This dance continued for over four months before the two sides brokered an agreement.  This included federal mediators, secret meetings, and the announcement of a deal by the Player’s Association that was cut short by a phone call from the League as the press conference was happening.  It ranged from the comical to the frustrating, but a central theme throughout seemed to be that the League had no desire to bargain fairly, or even ‘bargain’ at all.  They wanted what was in their initial offer, and they were going to get it.

They didn’t get it.

Commissioner Gary Bettman declared that a 5-year contract cap was the “hill we’re going to die on,” and they wound up with a 7-8 year cap.  Granted, that’s lower than the complete lack of a cap (with some 15-year contracts floating around) that had been before, but to resort to battlefield terminology was just ludicrous.  Players started with 50% of revenues, showing a complete willingness to bargain from the outset.  In the end, the players managed to fend off the worst of the League’s demands.  The real problem, however, goes unaddressed.  The owners are a fractious group, with about 10 teams making the bulk of the revenue and steadfastly refusing to share it.  In the 90s, the League, bolstered by the star-studded success of the Los Angeles Kings, decided to expand into markets that one doesn’t associate with ice hockey.  Teams sprung up in Florida, Georgia, and, Tennessee, and a few teams moved from Northern climes to Arizona, North Carolina and Texas.  Nearly all of those teams have struggled financially, some even after winning the Stanley Cup.  Additionally, more established teams were still struggling to make ends meet, and the League as a whole was loosing money.  In 2004, the owners had no intention of discussing revenue sharing, which is a staple in other leagues.  A rising tide lifts all ships, as they say, and the strong support the weak to ensure a robust league.  The NHL owners don’t seem to have grasped that, because they steadfastly refused any concept of revenue sharing this time around.  The negotiations essentially boiled down to thirty different owners trying to screw each other and the players.

The new CBA is for 10 years with an opt-out after 8, so there’s a good chance we’ll be back to this madness in 2021.  I’m one of those suckers that will keep rolling back in regardless, so I’m just happy they’ll be back to the ice on Saturday.  I’m just scared that they’ve done even more damage to the sport’s perception, which they cannot afford.

But hey, sportspuck is back!

Again to Alive

Special occasions aside, I figured I’d start close to the beginning of the alphabet.  Some gems in here!  I’ve seen Tapping the Vein live about 60 times, back when they were still playing the Philly scene.

I had all of the singles from Achtung Baby on tape, and wore them out playing them over and over for months.  Alex Descends Into Hell was one of the sleeper b-sides, not quite connected to anything else, but definitely in the experimental vein of the album.

And finally, I’ve linked to my favorite remix of Alejandro, just for my wife.

Again” – Tapping the Vein
Agent Orange” – Tori Amos
Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” – Van Halen
Air” – Ben Folds Five
Airships” – VNV Nation
“Al Jorn Triana” – Estampie
Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” – Pink Floyd
Alchemy Mondays” – Voltaire
Alejandro” – Lady Gaga
Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk / Korova #1” – U2
Alex Kidd” – This Ascension
Alive” – Pearl Jam

New Year’s Day to Night

I apologize for the lapse.  Winter vacation affords me a lot of time, which I generally use to stay the heck away from the computer.

In honor of it being a new year, and hopefully better than the last, we’re going to party all day. There’s a lot of U2 (and even more Irish) in this short list.

Screenshot from the music video to New Year's Day

New Year’s Day” – U2
New Year’s Day (Live from Red Rocks)” – U2
New Year’s Day (Live from Slaine Castle)” – U2
New York” – U2
The Newry Highway Man” – The Dubliners
“Nickel to the Stone” – Kacy Crowley
The Night” – Voltaire
“Night And Day (All World Mix)” – U2
Night And Day (Steel String Mix)” – U2
Night And Day (Twilight Remix)” – U2
“Night And Day (Youth’s Remix)” – U2
Night Courtyard” – Mists of Avalon Soundtrack
“Night Fire Dance” – Luciano Pavoratti and Andreas Vollenweider
A Night of Love” – Mists of Avalon Soundtrack
Night Ride Across the Caucasus” – Loreena McKennitt
“Night Riders (b00l3 Remix)” – Stromkern
The Night Visiting Song” – The Dubliners