Known Johnson

August 31, 2004

Song of the day: Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:36 pm

When Tool’s Lateralus came out a few years back, there was much talk about how intense it was going to be, how it was going to be all about building tension and sudden release. I ran out and scarfed up a copy shortly after the stores opened the day it was released, then drove across town to see my parents – a 40 minute drive that gave me an opportunity to hear about half of the album each way. Midway through my journey, I stopped to get a drink at a convenience store, pausing the CD as I shut off my truck. When I got back in, I unpaused it, accidently fumbling against a few buttons on the interface of my CD player, but was soon bathed in the atmospheric intro to the song “Parabola,” the cleverly titled “Parabol.”

As “Parabol” played, it would cycle through some gently strummed guitar with singer Maynard James Keenan on top for about two minutes, and then a heavily distorted guitar would swell in from silence – and then stop, jumping right back to the gently strummed guitar. “Man,” I thought, about 5 minutes into this, “they weren’t kidding when they said ‘tension and release.'” This was some intense stuff – I just knew any moment now that swelling guitar was going to break into a driving, pounding, scraping rhythm. But it never did – it was just tension and tension and tension, the only release being a mild one at the end of that guitar swell. Being a big fan of ambient music, I was used to Eno pulling stuff like this, but this wasn’t Eno, it was Tool – there has to be a payoff here somewhere, right?

By the time I got to my parents house, I’d been listening to this song for a good 12 minutes or so, patiently waiting for that payoff, and certain I would most likely choose to skip this very long, very minimalist track in the future. And then when I hit pause again moments before removing the CD, a thought occured to me – did I hit a button back there at the Circle K? I looked over the interface and immediately spied the problem. Unwittingly, I’d placed the just-starting track 6, “Parabol,” on repeat, and had been listening to a simple two minute intro far longer than Tool ever intended. Repeat unpushed, “Parabol” flowed seamlessly into “Parabola,” but that intro track was never the same to me again. Forever spoiled by 12 minutes of “what could have been,” the payoff of even a great track like “Parabola” just couldn’t match up to my expectations. I felt gypped, and the band wasn’t even at fault.

That’s what’s funny about Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” from one of his final albums, Hard Again. For five and a half minutes, the song is all about building tension, utilizing a very familiar, very oft-repeated blues vamp over which Waters croons to an unknown woman about how manly he really is. The song grows in intensity, the band banging out the head over and over and over, but each pass adding energy, striking chords and drums and keys harder and harder and harder, and you know at some point Muddy’s going to break into a steaming solo. This tension builds and builds, grows more intense, and the initial impression I had was “Just how are they going to pull this off? How can they possibly match the steam they’ve built up with something even heavier and harder?” The answer? They don’t. Waters and band simply end the tune. Having reached a peak that was unsurpassable, the band just stops, knowing there’s no way they can top what they’ve already done. Lucky for us, the sounds of the studio are kept intact on the album and we’re greeted with the whoops and hollers of a bunch of guys who’ve just poured out every bit of energy they had – cries of relief. The payoff is no payoff. And it’s quite a payoff.

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No sale

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:11 pm

I got a call at work today from some telemarketer trying to tell me that you called him and said I’d like to talk to him about insurance. I asked him what my wife’s name was and he said, “She left a message and didn’t leave her name but said you’re interested in talking to me about this insurance coverage.”

I said, “No she didn’t. I talk to my wife all the time and I know she didn’t talk to you.”

“No, sir, she called about noon.”

“You’re lying. I don’t appreciate being lied to.” Then I hung up on him. I would have loved to just go off on him, but, you know, I actually have work to do.

The thing I wonder is, are there really people out there who fall for this? Is there anyone out there that believes his or her spouse would actually have, completely randomly and without any notice whatsoever, referred an insurance salesman to them?

Motopsychos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:56 pm

My video du jour.

Allegiance

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:26 pm

I know loyalty to a product – there are those who won’t fly on Airbus planes because they prefer Boeing aircraft, or that whole Pepsi/Coke thing, things like that. It has a price – you have to give up the ambiguity in some parts of your life to stick to your guns like that. I often wonder if those who proudly display the insignia of one brand or company feel a particular need to remain true to that company. Who hasn’t noticed the Jack in the Box antenna balls? When I see them, I wonder if the owners of cars with those flying high feel conspicuous going to competing fast-food (sorry, “quick cuisine”) restaurants. Will the owners, of, say, a Wendy’s, know where your true allegiance lies and know that no matter how excellently they prepare your meal, you will still stand firm by your belief in Jack in the Box as the One True Restaurant?

August 30, 2004

Map for the truly lost

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:05 pm

I’m looking for the lowest gas prices around using the very handy Phoenix Gas Prices site (you may have one for your state, check on the site for links to others) and found a QuikTrip gas station that I know is fairly close by, but I don’t know specifically where it is. I clicked the “Find” feature next to it and am greeted not with a map but a listing of all of the gas stations listed under QuikTrip. As I search through the many available I find one that appears to be it so I click “View Map” next to it. What do I get? A message that says “Could Not Geocode Your Request. Here’s a Map of the United States.” Check it out for yourself. It’s like they’re saying, “Well, we don’t know specifically where that address is, but it’s somewhere in here. Navigate for yourself.”

Low sodium mystery

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 6:09 am

I am drinking a Diet Coke and just now noticed, after many many years of staring at this same can, a strange discrepancy. Let’s check the nutrition facts: serving size is one can, 12 fluid ounces. No calories, fat, carbs, protein, but 40 mg of sodium. Above the Nutrition Facts label it says “VERY LOW SODIUM, 35 mg or less per 240 ml. (8 fl. oz.)” That’s 35 mg (or less) per 8 ounces, not per serving, which is 12 ounces. Yet somehow there’s only 40 mg for the entire can. “35 mg or less” sodium is pretty vague in this instance, for if the 40 mg the label lists is correct, there’s approximately 26.6 mg of sodium per 8 ounces of soda. Why would Coca Cola not want to advertise that instead? Can it vary 8.4 mg upwards in one can and not in others, so they have to cover their asses? It is a mystery!

Yes, I am this bored on a Monday morning.

August 29, 2004

Prescott

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:09 pm

After I bought my new tires yesterday, Alissa and I drove up to Prescott. Being nearly equally distant in mileage as it is in elevation, it is also an environmental midpoint between our home, deserty Phoenix and the naturally pine-scent of Flagstaff. It’s just a little old town with little old buildings and even a town square that always seems to be the center of activity. Being relatively close to the new-age weirdo center that is Sedona, you’re just as likely to find bookstores filled with self-help, feel-good books as you are a geniune saloon. We really had no idea what to do there – it was simply an escape from the heat and boredom of Phoenix, so we grabbed an early dinner at some local bar/restaurant that ended up serving some really great food – I wish I could remember the name, and feel a little bad because not only would I eat there again, I’d recommend it to others who want good general non-ethnic type foodstuff. Oh well. Next time I’ll make a note of it.

In our driving around finding something to eat and something to do, we drove past a lake, but hunger had taken control so we took care of our need first. We drove back and even though I snapped off a good dozen or so shots, only one is worth showing here:

The name of the lake? No idea either. You can see that I wasn’t really up on paying attention to details yesterday. As before, next time I will make a note of it.

I did, however, pay close enough attention to discover the presence of what surely must be evidence of aliens planting faces in geologic formations:

August 28, 2004

Olympic frolicking

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:50 pm

I take it back, with regards to my plea for the Olympics to end. In light of the thrilling, enthralling competition that is on right now, I can’t imagine why I would think the Olympics coverage had bottomed out. The competition in question? Rhythmic gymnastics. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! That is the stuff, man!

How is this a sport of any kind? It’s dancing with accessories, that’s all. There is no way I can seriously consider this a sport. They’re coordinated, yes, they . . . move well, I guess. But sport? No. This is even less a sport than golf or pool, which are at least games. This rhythmic “gymnastics” is just synchronized frolicking, and as everyone knows, frolicking does not count as sport (I think it’s more just “folly,” isn’t it?)

As one of the commentators said, “They take rhythmic gymnastics very seriously in Russia.” Yeah, they take everything real seriously in Russia. That doesn’t mean I have to.

Strange fact about the human body

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:19 pm

Your requirement to pee will increase the closer to home you get, culminating in a feverish, burning need that becomes unbearable in the last few steps to the toilet . . . and then ultimately you won’t be able to pee at all and it will take five minutes to do what, just moments before, you were sure was going to explosively happen involuntarily.

August 27, 2004

Various and sundry, vol. 487.3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:08 pm

I have just eaten a bunch of the worst carrots I’ve ever eaten, ever. These were bitter, giving me that kind of back-of-mouth stinging sensation that Mother Nature gave us to make sure we don’t eat nasty things that might hurt us. Only these carrots are not dangerous, so I soldiered on. Where oh where are the good carrots lately, the ones with the the slightly sweet taste I prefer? Because I seem to have picked up a lot of these wincingly gross carrots the past few weeks.

I will be sad to see one of my favorite monthy-visit sites go away. The Plug is on it’s second-to-last issue, and it’s just as entertaining as ever. This month features a massive elimination round between candy. Although I balk at the mixing of sugary candy with chocolate candy, it is a superior piece of weirdness (think Sweettarts vs. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – you just can’t compare things like that. They should be split – one sugary candy reigns supreme over all others while one chocolatey candy reigns supreme over all others of its ilk. One of each, that’s all I’m saying, that’s what’s fair.) Anyway, clicky-linky and check out the site. There’s a couple years of good fun to look back on, but a particular favorite is a recent piece, Those Medley Kids, wherein the Plug himself anonymously and mysteriously serenades a friend’s coworker through her voicemail with a slew of Phil Collins hits. Speakers are required to experience the real fun.

I get to buy new tires this weekend. I didn’t realize until not too long ago that buying tires isn’t really all that fun of an experience, despite how much fun it was to have new tires as a teenager. It’s the “buy” aspect of the “have” that is so bothersome. It’s just no fun to buy new tires because now I realize how much they cost and how many other preferable things I could spend the money on, or actually how preferable it would be to just not spend the money at all. I liken it to buying tools or computer equipment – I need it but there’s no real joyful benefit you get out of it like buying a book or a CD. I guess reducing the level of insanity induced by constantly vibrating, loudly woo-wooing tires counts as “joyful benefit” in some eyes, but dammit it’s just not all that exciting.

We have officially hit the bottom of the summer movie market, what with a tough decision being forced between seeing Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2, or The Brown Bunny, all of which were released today, the best choice is “stay home.” If you haven’t seen it, I suggest partaking of Garden State. It’s a joyous, beautiful little movie with a great soundtrack, not to mention it’s not Alien Vs. Predator, plus it has Natalie Portman. If you can’t find joy in looking at Natalie Portman . . . well, maybe you should see Alien Vs. Predator instead. I contend that Zach Braff made this movie solely so he could get to kiss Natalie Portman a bunch of times.

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