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Friday, January 30, 2009

One last post for January

I have been so neglectful of this blog. It's very sad. I know I've complained in the past of "not having enough time to write." That's only part of the problem, the other part is that when I'm on the computer, I usually waste entirely too much time on Facebook, spend way too much time reading the latest gossip and barroom chatter on the MSU Spartan fan sites, or just generally goof around too much aimlessly surfing the net. Darn it, I should be taking time to satisfy my legions of fans!

I'll just take this time to write about some random things:

Tomorrow, my wife and I are actually going to a grown-up movie for the first time since we saw "The Dark Knight" in, oh my gosh, July? Since then, I've been on a steady diet of kids' movies. I've seen all three of the talking dog movies ("Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "Bolt," and "Hotel for Dogs"), and others including "The Tale of Despereaux," and "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa." (For what it's worth, "Despereaux" almost put me to sleep. My favorite of those I mentioned, for pure entertainment value, is probably "Madagascar 2." However, tomorrow evening we'll be seeing "Slumdog Millionaire." Since it may be my only opportunity to see an adult-oriented film in the theater for who-knows-how-long, I may as well see the one that is getting all the hype and winning all the awards. To be honest, I think I'd rather see "The Wrestler," but I've got to see if "Slumdog Millionaire" is worth all the acclaim it has received. If I'm sufficiently motivated to do so, I'll give a full report in here tomorrow night.

If I may return to the subject of Facebook. I wrote a little about my addiction to it a few months ago in here, but didn't really go in depth. I think I check my profile at least three times per day. Frequently, it's the first thing I do when I get home from work. That's completely insane and I wish there was some sort of twelve-step program to end the madness. Facebook has its own unspoken, unwritten protocol that I've been trying to master since I created my profile back in August. "Friend requesting" is sort of a dance--kind of like asking someone out on a date. Should you talk them up a little before taking the plunge? Right now I'm struggling with a sense of unpopularity because nobody has "tagged" me in this silly "25 things about me" thing that has been going around. I'm thinking, "what, nobody wants to know 25 things about me?" Totally ridiculous, I know. In a weird way, Facebook has only brought forward all the insecurities and need to be popular that I felt as a teenager. I should be way too old to care about that crap anymore.

Ugh, it's 12:30 at night now, and I'm feeling the need to either go to bed or waste time on Facebook. So long for now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

I don't even know how to begin, and I know whatever I say will end up sounding trite. What an amazing, historic, and emotional day. I was reminded of Martin Luther King's "I've Been To the Mountaintop" speech, the one he delivered in Memphis the day prior to his assassination. It's the King speech that has always stirred the most emotion in me, even more than the much more lauded "I Have a Dream" speech. Near the end, in the part that always makes me teary-eyed, King says:

"I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!"

I always have believed that the "we" in "we, as a people" could apply as much to whites as blacks. Perhaps whites just didn't realize that they needed to make it to the promised land.

Well, I'd say that if the United States didn't finally make it into the Promised Land today, the country at least made it to the outskirts of town.

Many people have commented on the irony of Obama being sworn in as the United State's first African-American president the day after the Martin Luther King holiday.

I watched the inauguration in the lobby of the library in which I work, in dowtown Lansing, Michigan. I watched alongside library patrons, most of whom were African-American, and several of my library co-workers. One library patron took a few pictures of the TV screen with her camera. I had the sense that some of our library patrons watching the inauguration finally feel engaged in the American political process for the first time in their lives.

(I will add more detail regarding my inauguration experience later, but wanted to get this out there now while the memory is still fresh).

I will admit that I was teary-eyed throughout the entire inauguration, as I was on election night when it was clear Obama had won.

Let's not kid ourselves, the road will be difficult and Obama's honeymoon won't last long. But I feel confident and optimistic for our country's future, and I haven't felt that way in a long time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

R.I.P. Ron "Rock Action" Asheton


While I was perusing Facebook, I noticed one of my Facebook friends had updated his status with "Rest in Peace Ron Asheton--punk is now dead." That was the first I'd heard of the Stooges' guitarist's death. Sad news, indeed. (One may make the argument that punk was already dead, but that's a matter for another post).

I don't have any personal memories of Ron Asheton, since I'm too young to remember him in his heyday and never saw him play live, but I love the Stooges. They were one of the best things to ever emerge from the State of Michigan. A product of the greasy, blue collar industrial Michigan, expressing their frustration in their loud-ass nasty primitive music. Truly one of the first punk bands before anyone had come up with a name for it. For a true appreciation of what a great guitarist Ron Asheton, go no further than the first two Stooges albums, particularly their second one, Fun House. It's the aural equivalent of an auto factory churning out cars. It sounds like the rust belt Midwest on tunes like "Down on the Street," "Loose," and "TV Eye."

Surely, Iggy was the focal point of the Stooges, but Ron Asheton's playing was integral to the band's sound.  
Besides being a great musician, Ron seemed like just an overall cool guy. I read this quote in the Detroit Free Press, which gives one some insight into the unpretentiousness of Ron Asheton, "When I was a young guy coming up, going to the Grande Ballroom every weekend, I got to see my heroes play. Jeff Beck, the Who, everyone. I didn’t want to be a fanboy, but I’d stand there and wait — ‘I just want to say hi, this was great.’ I saw them walk by me with blank stares like they were zombies. I said to myself, you know, if I ever make it, I’ve got at least one minute for everybody who wants to say something. So I talk to people, and that’s what’s exciting now.”

Anyway, thank you Ron Asheton for your mean sludgy guitar playing that has given me pleasure for so many years. Hope you're in Heaven jamming with Dave Alexander, Rob Tyner and Sonic Smith.

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's official: the Big Ten stinks

I have always been an adament defender of the Big Ten in all sports. I'm a Midwest guy, born and reared in Michigan. I've spent my entire life in the Great Lakes state and, I must admit, attended Michigan State as much for its membership in the Big Ten Conference as for its academics. (All right, all you wisenheimers laughing about "Michigan State academics," shut your yaps. It's a darned fine land grant institution!). But this year, I have to say, the Big Ten was horrible in football. Northwestern hung with Missouri before losing in overtime (props to the Wildcats for pushing the Tigers to the limit in that game--just didn't have enough to win), Minnesota is blown out by Kansas (I could see that one coming), and my beloved Michigan State Spartans were simply over matched by the Georgia Bulldogs. The biggest surprise of New Year's Day was the way Penn State was pushed around in the USC Invitational...er, I mean the Rose Bowl. Let's not mince words here, USC flat-out kicked Penn State's ass. Now, some of that may be attributable to the fact that the game was in California, in USC's backyard--in short, a veritable home game for USC. I do wonder if the result may have been a bit different if the Trojans had to play the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, in frigid weather in front of Penn State's maniacal fans. Who knows? The fact is that the Trojans rolled the Lions.

Thankfully, Iowa was able to beat a weak South Carolina team for the Big Ten's sole bowl victory. Now it's up to Ohio State to salvage some dignity for the Big Ten, but I find it hard to believe that the Buckeyes will be competitive with Texas. Looks like this year, the Big Ten is just a slight notch better than the Mid-American Conference.

I wonder if this is just a bump in the road for the Big Ten, or if this is the way things will be in college football for the foreseeable future. It seems like all the best football players now are in the SEC, Big 12, and Pac-10. I really wonder if this will ever change.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I'm getting too old for this New Year's stuff. Last night, we went to a friend's house for New Year's Eve and I had the hardest time staying awake until midnight. After the ball came down, we finally headed home from Lansing to Okemos at about 1 o'clock in the morning. I really hate driving in the hour or so immediately following the New Year, as I'm paranoid of police and drunk drivers on the road. (I had only had two beers and a half-glass of champagne, but am always terrified that some Dudley Do-Right will pull me over for some silly reason). I was greatly relieved when we finally pulled into our safe driveway.

Moving on to other matters. A few minutes ago, I watched Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Chris Fowler give their pre-game "analysis" of the Capital One Bowl. As I should have expected, from their overview of the game one would assume that the only team playing was Georgia. I acknowledge that Michigan State is the underdog in this game, but I really felt like throwing a shoe at the TV listening to those guys. It just might make my YEAR if MSU could beat Georgia.

That's all for now. I think I'll watch some sports now.