Saturday, August 30, 2008

What?

John McCain has picked a female running mate. Sarah Palin,who up until this point has apparently been the CEO of a fruit stand in a remote Alaskan fishing village. Randall and I were discussing this in the morning, and I thought he would pick Joe Lieberman and go centrist. Or perhaps Mitt Romney, to fortify the ol' base. But it appears that McCain wants to go after those bizarrely disenfranchised Hillary Clinton Democratic voters. And that leaves me with a conundrum. McCain apparently doesn't really know this woman too well. None of us really do. Apparently she was once runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, was a point guard on the basketball team, married her high school sweetheart, and was a sometime Alaskan sports reporter. She is also pro-drilling, doesn't believe that global warming is man-made, and wants to take polar bears off the endangered species list. So this was clearly politically motivated. And that makes me think - clearly McCain was, politically, desperate for a woman to run with him. And this woman, who is completely unknown, is...the best the Republican party has to offer?

I understand not wanting Condoleeza Rice. Distancing himself from the Bush administration is paramount. But really. Are there no other Republican women with any kind of experience who might have made a better choice? This is kind of like Stephen Harper making Rona Ambrose his deputy prime minister. I mean, she's useless, but she's kinda hot and has a fondness for Ayn Rand...

Canadians, however, seem so distracted by American politics that we're not paying attention much here at home. The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democratic nomination last night was masterful, powerful, and magnetic. At the same time here in Canada, the top story was about a truck driver in Maple Ridge who crashed into a sushi restaurant. It seems as though Stephen Harper's crackdown on his party has produced an effect in this country where people learn nothing about the government, and so they stop paying attention to the government. And Randall this morning ends up being one of about seventy-four people nationwide who is aware of the fact that Stephen Harper is about to do something that at best is a reckless and shocking about-face, and at worst is illegal. After forcing through his bill that made sure election dates are fixed (our next fixed date is in late 2009), he wants to force an election now. A year early. Which is the exact opposite of the LAW he created himself.

The idea here is that this LAW doesn't apply to minority governments. Right. And the government can call an election if it can no longer function properly. And, at the comittee level, Harper has made absolutely sure that the government can't function properly. Which makes him the equivalent of that kid who makes his own rules when you play four-square, and then starts losing anyway, so he makes more rules. And then he's still losing, so he no longer wants to play, but everyone else still wants to be in the game, and they won't move on to play wall-ball, so he sits down in his square and refuses to participate, until the other kids get irritated and finally give in and move on to wall-ball.

Up until now, he has pushed for the election by brazenly pushing Stephane Dion around. Which, frankly, is painful to watch. Dion is a brilliant, smart man, but he has to stop getting sucked into this garbage. Here's Harper, daring Dion to call an election. And laughing in his face when he doesn't do it. And calling him a sissy for it. Of course, Harper wants Dion to call the election, because he wants an election. And that way he wouldn't have to break his own law. Again, this is schoolyard-bully stuff. This is that kid who cries during baseball games, gets nosebleeds every recess just by going outside, who gets picked last in dodgeball, and then goes home and bullies the neighbour's kids, just because he can. It's really disturbing to watch this guy work.

And that's another reason we're all watching American politics and paying less attention to our own. Who wants to watch Stephen Harper talk, ever? Or Stephane Dion? Or Layton or Elizabeth May or John Baird? You watch Barack Obama and you are captivated by his speaking ability. You watch John Baird for two minutes and wonder if he eats human flesh. You watch Dion for two minutes and you lapse into a coma. You watch Layton for thirty seconds and change channels because who cares? And you watch Stephen Harper and you wish you could have gone to high school with him to punch him in the neck when he was in grade 12 and shoving grade 9 kids into lockers. Why can't we elect someone who is actually capable of holding national interest for more than twelve minutes? Are these people not out there at all? Perhaps in Canada they don't go into politics because we need our leaders to put the most bland face possible out to the world. Perhaps if no one notices us then no one will call us out. And perhaps if no one cares what we say, then they won't notice that we are highjacking our own laws for our own political gain. And come this fall, when we get another election, we get to choose between four candidates. An irrelevant one, a more irrelevant one, a dweeb and a douche.

Hopefully something interesting will be going on in America at that time. Maybe that way Canada will be distracted, and we'll get that coveted 9 percent voter turnout we seem so anxious to achieve. In the meantime, John McCain has apparently recognized the fact that he won't win - throwing this bizarre hail mary before the actual process begins. So from now until our own election, we can just watch Obama speeches and forget that our own leaders have, combined, the charisma of his left ear.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lyrical mastery...in celebration of AC/DC

AC/DC does, after all, have it right. While I bemoan their lyric machine and it's fifty-five word vocabulary, it ensures one thing. The songs that are spit out by this gigantic Batmanesque Lyricometer are going to rock. When the only words you can choose from are "fight", "fire", "balls", "rock N roll", "power", "the", "and", "is" and "ain't", you have no choice but to come up with a rockin' good time. AC/DC understands that simplicity is the key to kicking ass through music. Perhaps the best example of this is the antithesis of AC/DC's Lyricometer, the Rush Lyricoplasmatronicalmeter. A brief list of words used in Rush songs and titles, as sent to me by our music director, Steve Colwill: "malignant", "narcissism", "refuge", "elevation", "solace", "benevolent", "empty vessels", "moral compass", "willows", "weathered", "elemental", "spindrift", "pantoum", and...so many others. (By the way - if yuo go to www.allthelyrics.com, an online compilation of all musical lyrics available to the world, you will find that about half the lyrics to Rush songs are "unavailable at the artist's request". I guess Rush wants to keep certain portions of it's Lyricoplasmatronicalmeter under Top Secret status.)

As the lyrics of an artist are a window into their soul, one can only surmise that AC/DC are suffering from a constant barrage of Rock N Roll Fighting Fire, and that Rush suffer from Malignant Narcissism. Simplicity is the key to a great rock tune, (CCR, AC/DC, etcetera). And if lyricism is to be respected and appreciated, simple words usually convey more powerful messages (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, etcetera). I wouldn't have even mentioned this had I not met a wonderful young lady, Christina from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, last night at a golf tournament. She was saying that her boyfriend, a giant Rush fan, complained that we at CHEZ 106 played "Roll The Bones" to celebrate Alex Lifeson's birthday yesterday. He felt "Roll The Bones" was the worst Rush song ever. I suggested that perhaps "The Rest Of Their Catalogue" could give "Roll The Bones" a run for it's money. But she told me he was talking about a video for Roll The Bones where a skeleton rapped in the middle of the song. And I said that was ridiculous. Even a band as pretentious as Rush couldn't possibly do something like that...

I had to look it up. Some things on the internet have the capacity to ruin your life. Like that one cup thing. And this video will not ruin your life. But it might make you very, very sad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ARlP_sJTv4

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AC/DC

Things are hitting a fever pitch for AC/DC's new album. In our studio, we have received almost two calls that were buzzing with excitement over the unveilling of the latest track in the catalogue of the world's most conisistent band. Tomorrow, on the Doc And Woody show, at 7:35, we will be playing Rock And Roll Train, the debut single from the newest album, Black Ice. Hopefully the other songs will be rolled out, one at a time, so that we can hear everything by the time Black Ice is released in October. I, for one, can't wait to hear Rock And Roll Bus, Black Rock and Roll, Ice On The Train, Black Train, Rock And Roll Black Ice Bus, She Likes Rock And Roll, Big Jack, She Dreams of Jack, and Rock N Roll Dreams. (Three of those titles are on the new album. Try to guess which ones!)

AC/DC, you see, has a machine. Sort of like the one Batman had in the old Adam West series. And this machine has a forty-word vocabulary. So when the band needs 15 song titles for their newest album, they hit the "TITLE" button fifteen times. And end up with fifteen new song titles that are a combination of between two and six of those forty words. They have a similar machine for their lyrics, one with a fifty-five word vocabulary. Much like the official Webster's dictionary, new words are added every year. This year, the boys in AC/DC threw in two new words - "wheels" and "spoiling". Which should add a tremendous amount of diversity to their lyrical output. Doc has been going on about how AC/DC may not be terribly lyrically interesting, and that they may not have the most original song titles, but that they have some of the greatest riffs in the history of rock music. And he is right. AC/DC has three of the greatest riffs in the history of rock music. Expect to hear them all on Jack Dreams in the Train of Rock And Roll, and Spoiling For Wheels.

Woody pointed out that the little piece of Rock And Roll Train that we've heard so far sounds a lot like You Shook Me All Night Long. Which means it also sounds a lot like Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution. Which means it sounds a lot like AC/DC. So far so good. I hope it does sound like AC/DC. I love AC/DC. They are truly the most consistent band of all time, having made the same album twelve times with varying results. At the very least you know what you're going to get. I certainly hope they tour through Ottawa, because I want to see them again. I saw them at SARSfest in Toronto, and it was an amazing show. I expect they will put on the exact same show in Ottawa, were they to come, and I am all about seeing it again.

I am also very excited to pick up this newest album. Mostly because I simply love going to Wal-Mart. There will be nothing quite as exciting as fighting my way through hundreds of irritated shoppers, becoming discouraged at not being able to find the CD section, eating some poorly prepared McDonalds, fighting my way back through the crowd, and finally emerging triumphantly with my brand-new AC/DC compact disc along with the toilet paper, the towel rack, the car air freshener and the 99 cent DVDs of the Jack Benny show that I just couldn't pass up as I fought my way to the exits. I will then throw my suburban purchases in the back seat of my car, fight my way through the plastic wrapping, and raise my Rock N Roll Black Ice Jack Dreams Fightin' Flag high as I leave the Wal-Mart parking lot and crank the AC/DC as loud as possible, with my windows down, on my way back home. When I get home, the CD will be on track three, Rock N Roll Rain Dreams, and my neighbours will say - hey, I love AC/DC! No one will ask me if it's the NEW AC/DC, because no one will be able to tell. And I will smile smugly to myself, as I will be the only one who knows this is new.

And so begins the downfall of music. The major music retailers in the world now, in terms of CDs, are the Wal-Marts and Best Buys of the world. And they are now the exclusive purveyors of the music we already know and love. AC/DC will make an album that is exactly like every other AC/DC album. And as such, it will rock, it will be loud, it will feature massive guitar riffs, it will be lots of fun, and it will feature a total of fifty-five words. And now we know not only what the song titles will be, and how it will sound, but where exactly we can get it. At the same place we get all the rest of our music. Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart, slowly, is reducing the size of it's CD section. Not enough people purchasing their CDs, you see. And so eventually, the music section of Wal-Mart, two years from now, will feature only four CDs at a time. The newest AC/DC, the newest Eagles, the newest Def Leppard, and whatever other artists have signed an exclusivity deal.

Before long, the only CDs we will be able to purchase at all will be these four CDs, and when people get tired of Def Leppard continuing to suck, the Eagles going country, and Miley Cyrus, all that will be left will be AC/DC. And we will have two choices in music - either the AC/DC albums we know and love and their uniform sound, or the three hundred thousand other musical artists in the world who will have their songs available on iTunes. With a uniform sound. And we will listen to those tracks on our iPods in our iCars as we drive to Wal-Mart for our Kung Fu Panda themed tooth brushes and our Wall-E sponsored car chamois. So long, music. It's been fun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A thought on a commercial.

This commercial has been bugging me, and I ended up discussing it with Adam, one of our sales guys, yesterday. There's a new Blue Light billboard up near our office, and of course the sales folk love to discuss new advertising. This all led to a discussion about that commercial where the foreign guy in the speedo with the blond hair-helmet gets duped into leaving some pool party with the promise of some schnitzel by a guy in shades and a Bud Light suit. And this bothers me. If I had a pool, and I were throwing a pool party, I would welcome that guy with open arms! A European guy in a speedo, with helmet-hair? This guy is adding much-needed humour, personality, and cultural diversity to my party. Why would I trick him into leaving? And if the ladies were worried about him, then I don't want them at my party either. You know who wouldn't be welcome at my pool party? The freaky weirdo who showed up in a full-on Bud Light costume. That guy gets booted from my backyard.