Monthly Archives: December 2012

Have You Ever Written A Song?

I have.  Quite a few actually.  Including one magnum opus.  Alas, it was only in my dreams, though.  It is a very strange sensation writing a song in one’s sleep.  There is this clarity to those dreams that goes well beyond the clarity one normally feels in dream time.

Last night, I wrote a catchy pop song.  The refrain was a refrain that people would find themselves humming as they go about their day.  The verses were poignant and moving.  And the bridge, oh, the bridge!  It was a soaring homage to hope and remembrance.  Ok, there actually wasn’t a bridge that I recall, but since I was getting all melodramatic I thought I’d continue for a while.

Like all dreams, there was this moment of absolute recall as I transitioned from asleep to awake.  And like all dreams, as I bit down into that most succulent looking dish, it turns to ashes in my mouth and all is forgotten.

I have a love/hate relationship with dreams.  Mostly love.  But I hate the losing of the dream.  The greatest invention of all time will be the device that can translate dreams into words and images and sound.  Get cracking neurophysicists!  I have dreams to recall!

Book Review: Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writings by Neal Stephenson

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 2/5 stars

In which Neal Stephenson all but apologizes for compiling this book.

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Movie Review: Les Miserables

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 2/5 stars

“Les Miserables”?  This movie should have been called “More Miserables”!  And in which I learn that I have as much talent as Russel Crow for being in a musical.

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The World Has Gone Crazy

Say there was a mass shooting in which scores of children were killed.  What would be your immediate reaction?  Go out and buy as many assault weapons as possible, of course!

There is such a demand for assault weapons and bullets right now that almost every store in the U.S. is sold out of them.  This is not entirely surprising given that there is a decent portion of the population that is of a certain mindset that the government is going to come get them.

There are a few other things in play here, though.  First, Obama was just re-elected.  Gun sales skyrocketed the first time he was elected because everyone thought he would take away their guns.  And he totally did if you consider expanding gun rights taking away guns.  Now, with his re-election, gun sales were already climbing before Sandy Hook happened.  And he’s totally going to take away guns this time.  He was just waiting for a massacre like Sandy Hook to happen to give him an excuse to take away our guns.

At least there’s real talk this time about doing SOMETHING about guns to fuel this Black Friday-like mad dash to get guns.  Even though all it is is talk.  So at least it’s somewhat understandable this time around.

What absolutely baffles me, though, is that people are rushing to buy body armor as well.  Is that the way that people actually think the country is headed?  You must wear body armor at all times to avoid being shot?  Or is this more a “the government is going to come get us any moment now” purchase?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, guess what else is being sold in larger quantities than ever.  Bulletproof backpacks for children.  Here, Johnny, take your bulletproof backpack to school.  You can use it to rush the shooter and take him out!  Of course, I don’t think that’s what the purchasers of said backpacks have in mind.  They think the backpacks will protect the kid as he flees the shooter.  Because kids always have their backpacks with them in school and they’re totally not stored in their lockers during the day.  Oh, wait, it’s the opposite of that, isn’t it?


Last night, I had one of my recurring dreams.  Well, nightmare really.  I don’t have this dream very often and I have no idea if it actually means anything, but it’s a really interesting experience.  I am probably the only person in the world that enjoys nightmares.

I’m not sure, but there may be a sleep paralysis component to this nightmare.  In it, I am always sleeping in bed when I feel a force holding me down.  When I try to get up, I can only move so much.  I can raise my hands, but only so far before they hit an invisible barrier.  I can push against that barrier with all my might, but it does not budge.  It doesn’t really feel like a barrier, though.  It feels more like a presence.  My cat, Lindy, tries to help me, but she runs into the barrier as well.  I get to see her in some very strange poses in mid air as she fights against the presence.  When I had a dog, he would try and fail to help me against the presence.  The dream continues like this until I wake up.

I also had a dream last night that my mom was part of some elaborate “Ocean’s Eleven” type heist.  I happened to run into her in a parking garage just as she was trying to escape from said heist.  For no good reason, I started running away with her until we ran into the SWAT team at the entrance to the garage.  We then ran back to my car and hid in there.  A SWAT guy with a shotgun noticed us in the car and pushed the car back into a steeply sloping pit that was, for whatever reason, located in the parking garage.  The rest of the dream was me trying to gain control of the car as we’re descending quite quickly down into this pit of the unknown.  Then I wake up.

What Is Your Dream Job?

No, not the job you wish you had instead of your boring, dead end job.  When you dream at night, do you ever dream that you have a strange job?

Last night, I was a buyer for a convenience store in a very trendy location across the street from some really weird looking art deco high rises.  I was instructed to go to the warehouse and purchase some unique items that would sell well for this area.  When I asked for further instructions on what I should buy and how much, I was told that it’s my job to know this and to get out there and do it.

So I head out to the warehouse which is both really close by and incredibly far away in a way that is only possible in dreams and it’s this huge building surrounded by similar huge buildings.  Inside, it’s like the warehouse at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with giant shelving units stretching to the ceiling and disappearing into the fog in the distance.  The shelves are almost exclusively filled with these weird crystalline statues of various shapes and sizes.  I decide to buy a few different versions of the crystalline statues and bring them back to the store.

It was at this time that a song came into my head and I started singing it.  I can’t remember what the song was anymore, but it was a pretty popular one.  It was just the refrain over and over again.  The dream switched gears after that to things that I can only capture wisps of.  For instance, I’m pretty sure that at one point I was being led into battle by some famous actor.

I need to find a better dream job.

Top Ten Worst Christmas Songs

If you go out anywhere, you have undoubtedly been subject to more than your fair share of Christmas songs.  Everyone seems to play Christmas songs for the month prior to Christmas.  Everyone.  Most songs are mediocre, some are good, a lot are bad.  Here are my ten worst Christmas songs in no particular order.

  1. Do They Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid 1984 – What do you get when you get 80’s rockers to make a really condescending song with crappy synth and strange bells.  Yes, that’s exactly what Africans who don’t celebrate Christmas want, to know it’s Christmas.
  2. Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney – Acid.  That is the only excuse I can think of for poor Paul.  He must have been tripping on acid.  Simply wanting to blow my brains out after listening to this song.
  3. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy – Ok, I will admit to liking this filth as a child.  And it does have a certain charm to it.  But egads, this did not age well at all.  I mostly want to scratch my ears out when this song comes on.
  4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey – Again, at least it’s a clever song.  Clever does not equate to good, though.  My cousin is sure to inflict this abortion of a song upon us every Christmas Eve.  She secretly hates us all.  Or, I guess, not so secretly.
  5. Last Christmas – Wham! – Entry number two for George Michael. He was also in Band Aid 1984.  If you need further proof that he hates Christmas, you must also disbelieve evolution.  All the proof is there, you just need to open your eyes.
  6. Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey – Lou Monte – It’s not racist because it’s sung by an Italian.  This song validates every Jersey Shore stereotype.  No, the two have nothing to do with each other, but this song is bad enough to denigrate an entire nationality.
  7. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jimmy Boyd – Ignore the fact that this is a pretty creepy song in general.  Ok, that’s really hard to ignore.  Let’s just assume that Santa is actually the kid’s dad.  The kid doesn’t seem terribly surprised that mommy is kissing someone else, just that it’s Santa Claus.  Maybe the kid should ask for a paternity test for Christmas.  And the voice!  Ugh, the voice!
  8. Christmas Shoes – Newsong – I’m pretty sure this song is about a grifter child getting a mark to buy him a new pair of Michael Jordans.  Prepared speech, dying mom, all the signs are there.  But let’s assume momma is dying.  This song is Christian mercy at its best.  Buy a kid a useless pair of shoes to make yourself feel better instead of inquiring more about what is wrong with momma.  If the kid’s poor, momma probably just needs a visit to the doctor.  You’re probably against universal healthcare too, aren’t you?
  9. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – Melissa Lynn – All I want for Christmas is to never hear this song again.
  10. I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard – This has to be a joke.  If your goal, Wizzard, was to make people never want to celebrate Christmas again, mission accomplished.  Paul McCartney may have been on acid when he crated Wonderful Christmas Time, but these guys must have been mixing multiple drugs to come up with this abomination.  And whoever allowed their children in the same room as Wizzard must really be bad parents.

Why Does It Feel So Good When Someone Touches You?

No, not in THAT way.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  Well, that way too, but stay focused here.

Have you ever given yourself a neck massage or head massage or a foot massage?  It feels pretty good.  It’s a decent way to work out tension and loosen up.  But when someone else does it, it feels amazing!  There is something in our DNA that requires us to seek out physical contact.

And it’s not just humans.  Anyone that  has a pet knows that animals are the same.  I could pet my cat for hours and she will just sit and purr all day long.  And when I’m not petting her, she can often be found plopped down next to me with her back against my leg and literally straddling my arm.

The mere act of physical contact has been proven to lessen pain and reduce stress in most individuals.  I think that’s why so many people think that things like chiropractic work even though there has been tons of studies that it doesn’t work any better than placebo.  The needles do nothing.  There was a study that I can’t find the link for now that had half the people get normal chiropractic therapy and the other half someone pretending to put needles in random areas of the body and the results were exactly the same!  The human contact and social interaction with an individual willing to listen to your problems performs the miracles.

I’m sure that it has something to do with endorphins being released from contact or some such neurological cause, but does it really matter?  It feels good and it makes others feel good (when consentual).  So reach out and consentually touch some today!

Ahhh, Nothing To Do For Two Whole Weeks

Besides familial commitments and a party or two, I have absolutely nothing to do for two weeks.  It’s a good feeling.  Not that my life can, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered difficult, but I cannot describe how much I’ve been looking forward to this.

Everyone should have two weeks a year of doing absolutely nothing.  Not vacation.  Just nothing.  What would you fill the time with?  Me?  I plan on a little merry making, a little reading, a little gaming, and a whole lot of vegetating.

Blog post in which I complain about going stir crazy in five…four…three…two…one.

What Is Your Historical Tax Rate

I have been waiting for someone to come up with this for a long time now.  Finally, here it is!  You can enter in your current salary and see what percent you would pay in taxes for every year between 1913 and 2012.

There are a few things I would like to point out.  First, look at how much higher the tax rates for top earners has been historically.  During those vastly higher times, there were major economic booms.  This is really all the evidence you need to expose the lies of those that say we need lower taxes on the highest earners in order to grow the economy.  There is no correlation between taxes on high earners and economic growth.  None.

Second, the tax rates in 1982 look very attractive.  This is the year that Ronald Reagan cut taxes.  Yet Republicans can’t even get behind a Democratic proposal that makes tax rates even lower than that for high income earners and much higher than that for low income earners.  Republicans today are determined to inflict as much pain on the lowest earners as possible.  All in the name of Shared Sacrifice.