Known Johnson

July 27, 2006

Axis of weavil

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:32 pm
  • I apparently never drive alone, for I always have a copilot. Spider is my copilot. Yes, my truck has a semi-permanent passenger in the form of a small black spider, which I noticed running frantically across my dashboard on the way home from work last night. I tried to grab a napkin from the glovebox, but wasn’t fast enough to nab the eight-legged little dude before he tucked himself up into the molding on the driver’s side A pillar. How it got in there in the first place, I don’t know. I’m really hoping it’s a male, because if it’s a female, then I have to worry that maybe it’s hidden a little sac of baby spiders somewhere in the truck just waiting to be hatched . . . and I just can’t handle that.
  • After a couple of months of eating Cars-promotional boxes of Frosted Flakes (Of Corn©, as the box insists on telling you, as opposed to “Of Skin©” or “Of Scabs©,” I suppose,) we have now gotten three of the blue car, one of the “Git-r-done” guy-voiced tow truck, and just today Alissa retrieved a police car from a new box. Those aren’t very good odds. Of five boxes, we should have gotten more than three different automotive choices represented. We’ve been buying these boxes in particular not because we wanted the toy (well, okay, given the choice of two identically priced boxes, I’ll take the one with the toy, but that’s just logical) but because they’ve been on sale cheaper than the other boxes of Frosted Flakes (Of Corn©, naturally.) Buy what’s cheap. But I’ve been trying to figure out why there are so damned many of these boxes that they need to be on these closeout prices. My hypothesis as to why these boxes are so heavily discounted and the other, non-Cars related Frost Flakes (you know, Of Corn©) boxes are not so cheap: Basically, kids got sick of seeing the same damned blue car come out of every box and demanded a different, more rewarding cereal experience, and I don’t blame them, because dammit, that’s disappointing, and I’m 33. I’m not even going to play with the things and I think that sucks.
  • I refuse to believe that chocolate is a trigger for my migraines, despite having had three separate migraines happen within hours of eating chocolate. I love chocolate. I’m like an alcoholic for chocolate. I keep telling myself, “I have to try chocolate again, because it might have been something else that set off a migraine,” but deep down I’m pretty sure it was chocolate that did it. It makes me very sad, but it sure does explain a lot – until a few months ago, there was barely a day that went by that I didn’t eat some chocolate (hey, chocolate’s got those healthy antioxidants!) But I also had nearly daily migraines too . . . yes, I know I’m in denial. There’s always white chocolate, but that’s not really chocolate. White chocolate is like chocolate’s jealous cousin. She’s not as luscious and just isn’t the first one you invite to the party.
  • I am off of work tomorrow and it is a grand thing indeed. I’m burning up a week’s worth of vacation time that I don’t have any use for and would otherwise lose to the dreaded Fiscal Year Rollover which will occur as of August 31. Use it or lose it, basically (it becomes sick leave, which I can obviously only use if I or Alissa and/or Amanda are sick.) So I’ll be figuring out the best way to take the remaining four days after this – one Friday a week, or a couple days over a couple of weeks, or . . . ? I’ll tell you, I’m leaning toward four three-day weekends in a row right now. Doesn’t that sound real
    nice?

    • Except next Friday I won’t be taking off because we have this cool thing at work where we’re going to a local indoor kart race track for a day of fun and racing. I mean, come on, how many times do you get to do something ridiculously stupid during work hours and have it be approved by management? I have to take advantage of that.
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July 24, 2006

Overlooked Alternatives: new released for July 25, 2006

Filed under: Music,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 10:16 pm

There’s some cool stuff this week. How can you not find something intriguing this week? If you can’t find something you just have to have, well, you’re just not looking hard enough, or maybe you don’t read English, or maybe you’re blind – but then you wouldn’t be reading this, either, in which case this is totally pointless. But then maybe you have one of those Braille translation machines, or someone is reading this to you, in which case you probably are excited about something coming out afterall. This is all beside the point, however.

Tom Petty – Highway Companion: After stumbling along with a few albums that just didn’t quite hit the mark, Petty is back with another strong album of amiable, yet strangely infective tunes in the vein of Full Moon Fever its close sound-alike cousin, Into the Great Wide Open. Blogcritics’ Nik Durga has a very favorable review that sums it up better than I can in this small space. Check it out thusly.

Michael Brook – RockPaperScissors: I fell in love with Michael Brook’s sound before I even knew it was Michael Brook’s sound, and so did millions of other listeners – only they still aren’t aware it’s his sound they’re in love with. No, what they think of as the sound that made U2’s the Edge so distinctive, that chiming, endlessly ringing guitar heard on songs from The Joshua Tree, is really a sound that Michael Brook invented with his “infinite guitar,” a special guitar he built utilizing a slew of secret electronics that sustained notes and created that great chiming sound, and he gave one to his friend The Edge. But if you listen to Brook’s small solo catalog, you’ll hear that sound throughout, and I’m sure many people who happened upon his music by mistake probably thought “Hey, this guy’s totally ripping off U2.”

Brook isn’t upset, apparently, as he has maintained his fine name by producing some of the finest albums in world music over the past two decades, not to mention playing on many of them himself, but his solo career has taken a backseat to all this production work. After some 14 years of delay, he’s finally releasing another solo album, and Blogcritics’ David R. Perry was lucky enough to score an early copy in order to tell you all about it.

Voivod – Katorz:Voivod earned a permanent place in my heart when I was a teenager and stumbled upon their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” from 1989’s Nothingface. It’s one of the few times when the cover is still as powerful as the original, and in some cases preferable. They actually managed the feat few others do – they made the cover their own song. Their own material was even more original. And often weirder.

When Jason Newsted “left” Metallica years ago, he joined forces with Voivod. In a brilliant move, he got himself back to a band who were still as involved in the art of music as they were when they started, not to mention a band that was still hungry to make an impact. But when Denis “Piggy” D’Amour died last year from colon cancer, it seemed impossible that Voivod, who had released only one album with Newsted on bass, could carry on – until it was revealed that D’Amour had recorded all of his guitar parts into a laptop for safe keeping. The band was able to assemble the album out of what he left behind, and the rumor is that he left so much material that there is another album’s worth of content ready to go. But after that . . . well, maybe it’s good that Newsted’s got that Rockstar: Supernova thing going on, huh?

Paul Weller – Catch-Flame! Live at London Alexandra Palace: You can make as many arguments as you want that Taylor Hicks is some kind of soulful genius, but the fact remains that Paul Weller’s got the goods and he’s been delivering them for a long time. It might not have been evident in the Jam’s material, but beginning with the Style Council, and especially in his solo material, Weller has been dripping with soul for decades. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely soulful, honest, and earnest musician in the past two decades plying this genre.

And finally, in 2006, we get a live album out of the guy and it covers all of his career.

James Dean Bradfield – The Great Western: The amazing voice of England’s Manic Street Preachers is going to have a hard time selling this album in the states, just like the Preachers have a hard time selling their wares here, too – something made obvious by the fact that there’s no release in sight for the US for this solo album from him here, so buying import is the only option. It’s unfortunate – 1994’s Holy Bible is a fantastic album that should have been a tremendous hit in the US, but it was shuffled under the rug when the band’s guitarist went missing and the label got cold feet (and is now presumed dead,) not sure what to do with such a touchy situation.

There aren’t too many surprises in store on this album – Bradfield seems to steer the creative decisions of the band anyway, from the sounds of this solo album. If you like what the Manics preach, you’re probably safe picking up a copy.

How can it possibly be the end of July already?

Dream report

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:00 am

Betty White and I agreed that a rolling pin used to stop up a bathtub was hilarious (so much so, in fact, that I actually ended up waking myself up laughing.) Our bathroom companions, however, another old woman and a old man (neither one a star of a popular 80s TV show,) neither found the rolling pin bathtub stop humorous nor did they understand its function, which made Betty White and I laugh all the more harder.

Don’t ask me to explain why I was spending time in the bathroom while Betty White and other elderly folk prepared for baths, please. I’d rather not know myself.

July 23, 2006

Just born . . .

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:53 pm

It’s another new site! Yep, head on over to Strange Machines and you’ll see my new home – but fear not, I’m not leaving here! Strange Machines is where you can read, if you dare, about the details of me building models. I swear, it’s not as boring as it sounds. I’m not building these things right out of the box. These are highly detailed, highly customized things. Up right now is the very beginning of a model of my current inanimate hero, Discovery, and I expect it will be occupying my free time for the next many months. I am an absolute stickler for detail with it comes to anything having to do with the space shuttle system, so don’t expect to see a quick build. I promise I’ll do what I can to make it interesting – this is the space shuttle we’re talking about, so I have a lot to say.

This is also a cool chance to try out WordPress’ free blog-hosting site, WordPress.com. So far I’m really impressed. It has the latest WordPress installed, which I do not, and I really like it. I’m going to have to update my site here soon. And that’s basically why I went with a hosted blog – I don’t really want to bother with any of the behind-the-scenese hosting crap right now. If I could, I’d switch this site over to WordPress.com, too, but I have too much invested here now. Oh well. Anyway, go check it out – if you want to leave comments, you have to sign up with WordPress, but you don’t have to sign up to get a blog, it’s only to post comments.

5 7/8 Sense

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 12:10 am

Alright, I admit it, watching anything on the ABC Family channel is lame, but I got stopped while channel-surfing tonight because The Sixth Sense was on and neither Alissa nor I had seen it since it was in theaters. This is what happens when baby goes to bed – the parents veg on the couch in a most potatoey way.

As we were watching, it occured to me that I really don’t remember how the movie ended. And if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know the ending, stop reading now – you are hereby forewarned, because I’m giving it all away in about three words now. When he finds out in the end he’s dead, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what happens next. I know he goes home, sees his wife, and figures it out there, but then . . . what?

Well, thanks to ABC Family channel, I still don’t know! Why? Because those assholes cut the damned movie off after he figures it all out, tells his wife how much he loves her and how in the morning everything will be different, ending the movie abruptly on a shot of the TV on which she had been watching some of their wedding-night video footage. A split second later a miniature version of the credits roll in hyper speed as the rest of the screen is taken up by ABC Family channel-related spam. So if anyone cares to fill me in on the end, please do so in the comments – I know he goes back to see the kid, and there’s a light on the stairs and someone comes to take him up to the light, but I don’t know who and how it happens exactly. I need closure, people. I guess closure isn’t a specialty at ABC Family.

We both thought it was funny that future OC anorexia goddess Mischa Barton played the little girl whose mother eventually killed her by poisoning her food. As I told Alissa, it appears that Mischa may have learned her fear of food in this movie. Now that’s method acting.

We also thought it was humorous that such an intense film was on ABC Family. What followed it? Why that old family favorite, Lethal Weapon! “C’mon, hon, get the kids! It’s time for that movie about a pair cops, one of which pretty much has a suicidal death wish, who fight drug smugglers!”

July 19, 2006

Rules regarding gum

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:52 pm

These are pretty simple, but I’ve had to devise these rules after finding gum spread all over the floor mats of my truck. Luckily, the floor mats are rubber and thus easier to clean with some bug & tar remover, but still, I don’t cherish the thought of cleaning someone else’s saliva-saturated semi-food items from anything I own.

Places where gum belongs:

  1. In the wrapper
  2. In the mouth
  3. In the garbage

Anywhere else than these three places, unless you are an official artist making an official artistic statement that does not involve me stepping into it and tracking it all over the damned place, is unacceptable, and if I find it and find out who is responsible, it will be grounds for beheading.

July 18, 2006

Discovery comes home

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:38 pm
Discovery comes home

Another picture-perfect landing.

Just like last year’s Discovery flight, this year’s was another amazing period of activity for space-flight lovers because it was another heavily documented event. There are multiple camera angles to view of just about every major part of the flight, especially launch, where we were able to see footage via NASA TV from just about every camera that NASA has trained on the shuttle – and it’s a lot of video cameras.

And then there are really special things that happened only on this flight that no one has ever seen before, and the footage is available for anyone to see, such as this 12 minute video of a camera mounted on the right solid rocket booster (SRB), which is meant to watch for debris falling from the tank and (hopefully not) striking the shuttle, but really just provides people like me a thrillingly geeky view of a shuttle launch that has never been witnessed before – nor ever before in such complete form.

The video begins about one minute prior to launch. The first thing you’ll see, after orienting yourself (you’re looking down the SRB toward the launch pad, and Discovery‘s right wing is in view,) is the water-suppression system begin to spray beneath the shuttle’s main engines shortly before they ignite. This happens about 45 seconds into the video. Water is sprayed to help dampen sound a bit – I’m really not sure how much this could possibly help (the SRBs also have their own water-suppression system of sprayers and also balloons behind them, but you can’t see them in this video.) (And nevermind the “smoke” you see billowing lightly beneath the orbiter- that’s just liquid oxygen venting from the main engines. It never stops while the external tank is fueled.)

Launch (at 1:00) is shockingly quick – with no audio cues, it’s actually surprising how fast it happens. The tension of the countdown seems to slow time, but here, with no visual or audio to give away what’s going on, you only get a moment to see the orbiter lurch forward as the main engines ignite, then the SRBs ignite and the stack jumps off the pad.

Enjoy the view for the next two minutes as Discovery climbs higher and higher. At 3:00 in the video, the SRBs jettison as they have exhausted their fuel. If you look real close at 3:12, you can see Discovery and the external tank already far off in the distance. (And that big bright white light is obviously the sun.)

Four the next few minutes, the camera watches as the SRB tumbles end over end until it finally splashes down at 7:34. (And, no, nothing goes wrong just before splashdown – the SRB nozzle is ejected from the rocket body. What you see are parts being blown away from the pyrotechnic charge that helps loosen the two sections.) If you’re really bored, or mesmerized, you can watch the SRB bob in the ocean for the next 5 minutes of the video – but for most of us, the good stuff is over.

Not quite as exciting, but still pretty damn cool, is watching the forward-facing right SRB camera footage, which has been edited to strictly the two minutes from launch to separation. This is where we get to see one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in the entire shuttle program – a clear picture of the shuttle, in space, attached to the external tank, zooming away from the SRBs. We’ve never gotten to see anything like this before:

Forgive me if I sound like a complete dork, but this is the kind of thing that thrills me – you have to understand that I’ve been following this for 25 years of my 33 years. In one year’s time, I’ve seen things that have never been available to anyone outside of NASA. But at least I’m not the only one that feels this way, because there’s even a book put together specifically about last year’s mission to document all those amazing photos that were taken. If you’re as geeky about this stuff as I am, you owe it to yourself to order a copy – it’s dirt-cheap at $11. This is heaven for people like me.

July 17, 2006

The migraine report

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:28 pm

Tuesday is my first follow-up with my neurologist, two months after my first visit and after two months of daily migraine-fightin’ (the drug I take for my migraines which begins in “Top” and ends in “amax,” written this way because of damn bots spamming my comments) doses. You may have noticed a lack of migraine posts here lately and that’s a good thing: things have calmed down considerably. They’re not gone completely, but they’re pretty manageable and I’ve gone from feeling like I have a headache every single day to having a mild migraine every couple of weeks – and it sometimes only happens in response to me experimenting with foods to see if anything causes problems.

So far it seems like cheddar cheese and, sadly (really sadly) chocolate may be permanently off my menu – the few times either have entered my body, my brain has sought revenge on me overnight and even throughout the next day. Why the migraines wait until 1 or 2 am to strike, I don’t know, but I can now trace damn near every horrible night’s sleep back to eating something I now know I really shouldn’t have eaten. Avoiding these things seems to help me immensely.

Another very strange thing that I noticed is that if I have an intense craving for anything, watch out. Cravings are part of the “prodrome” phase of migraines, which can happen from mere hours to many days before the aura, if you happen to get them (and I sometimes do.) I’d never paid attention to this trait, but in doing some research last week stumbled upon some reading about the prodrome phase that really clicked with an incident a couple weeks back where I absolutely had to have potato chips – not wanted, not desired, NEEDED. I got the chips, ate them at an incredible rate, and then a few days later found myself suffering a migraine. I would never have made the connection, but it’s interesting to note that since then, and before then, I had absolutely no desire for potato chips whatsoever – nor any other food item. Pretty weird stuff.

As for side-effects, they really aren’t so bad: I don’t find myself as forgetful as many say the drug’s users are – but I do have to pay very close attention to things and make notes for myself. It’s in situations where I have to think quickly where I find myself at a loss. Sometimes words simply won’t form, or I forget a well-known fact like my PIN number, but I just have to calm myself a moment and it comes to me. Maybe it gets worse with higher doses, I don’t know.

As for the bad taste of soda, I’ve found that regular Diet Coke just hasn’t come back to tasting even close to normal. I hardly drink it at all now where I was a fiend before. I have found that, if it’s available, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke tastes much better, but it’s Diet Pepsi that is most preferrable. All soda still tastes flat, unfortunately, but at least Diet Pepsi doesn’t taste like chemicals like Diet Coke does (and Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi is even better – but much harder to find in fountains.)

One plus tied in with this taste thing that happens to work out okay for me is that chocolate, my nemesis as I explained above, just doesn’t taste as heavenly as it used to, so I don’t have a whole lot of incentive to eat it.

One thing the doctor’s got to take care of: sleeping. Apparently it’s pretty normal, but I have a lot of nights where I just don’t sleep very well. When I’m really exhausted, I’m fine, but if I’m not, I wake up, and then it seems like my brain was right in the middle of a dream, and I spend the next unknown amount of time watching colors swirl in my vision as thought spin wildly out of control in my head. I’ve trained myself to stop this by chanting in my head the word “sleep” over and over while trying to envision blackness, but sometimes I just can’t seem to fight it – and then I spend who knows how long staring at a vortex of muted colors. It can make for some awful nights.

I drink water like crazy – all to ward off kidney stones because the drug dehydrates you. Water gets old real quick, let me tell you. And I love water, but I love taste. I have found that Propel’s flavored water is really good – the Mandarin Orange in particular – and it’s a good thing to have because it’s got all those “vital electrolytes” that this drug’s users are urged to get back in their systems (which are flushed out from drinking so much water.) I miss soda, however.

The best side-effect of all, however, is on my appetite. I’d read about its appetite-suppression abilities, and from what I understand it’s just that the drug happens to work in all areas of the brain that control “want” – so it’s used for drug addicts, alcoholics, and other people with behavioral problems in addition to migraine and epilepsy sufferers. I can confirm that appetite suppression aspect – in two months on the drug, without lifting so much as a finger in the way of exercise, I’ve dropped nearly 15 pounds just because I don’t eat as much nor do I want to eat as much. It won’t last forever, however, and I fear that I may have hit the peak of my loss because I haven’t really budged much in a couple weeks – but I also won’t gain it back unless I really work at it. Luckily, I simply don’t want all the stuff that would put it back on, and hopefully when the doctor ups my dosage (as he suggested would likely happen when I first saw him) I may start losing again. Regardless, of course, the main thing is that the seemingly neverending world of headaches I lived in seems to be drifting away bit by bit – but it sure won’t hurt to drop some of this excess weight while I’m at it!

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for July 18, 2006

Filed under: Music,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 9:38 pm

Bruce Cockburn – Life Short Call Now: There are a lot of politically driven musicians in rock music, but there are very few who really make me feel that the issues are really personal to them, rather than just being hot-button topics they can use to garner more attention for themselves. Cockburn is one of those rare instances and it’s because he writes the songs as stories, rather than talking down to listeners, or imploring listeners to take action. Instead, Cockburn invites listeners into his songs with intricate details and observations, sometimes wry, sometimes shocking, but always thought-provoking, and he keeps them coming back because he never paints the entire picture for them, either – you gotta come back and fill in the details yourself. And that’s why I’m always excited to see another Cockburn album of new music listed – that, and his fantastic guitar skills (and always amazing band – this time he is augmented on some album tracks by an orchestra.)

Golden Smog – Another Fine Day: Wilco is supposedly working on a new album right now, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at leader Jeff Tweedy’s discography. Just a few months back he released Born Again In The USA with Loose Fur (comprised of fellow Wilco-ite Glenn Kotche and producer Jim O’Rourke) and now he’s got this project, the fourth album by alt-country collective Golden Smog, on which he contributes playing to six tracks and writing to two. Also features Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and Dan Murphy of Soul Asylum.

Helmet – Monochrome: After 2004’s disasterously bad comeback album, Size Matters, I’m not really sure there’s much of a market for Helmet. However, this album should fare slight better – the band brought engineer Wharton Teirs back into the fold (as producer this time) to capture some of the old magic and, in a way, they did.

Monochrome harkens back to the chugging stop-start rhythms that attracted us to them in the first place What’s missing is just need – do we really need more of this when they did it so perfectly on Strap It On and Meantime? The biggest issue is the most prominent one – Page Hamilton’s vocals are not what they used to be, and instead of the bark, we instead get a pinched, nasal whine. It’s distracting and ultimately the exact opposite image that Helmet should be projecting.

XTC – Apple Box: For die-hards only, that’s for sure. XTC repackages it’s two most recent albums, Apple Venus and Wasp Star, with one disc of demos for each album, both of which have already been released separately, in a box with a special 64 page book with all of the lyrics, special artwork, and the one (well, two) bonus being the inclusion of a card with a code enabling the owner to download two brand new XTC songs. If you somehow are a die-hard XTC fan and haven’t bought all these discs yet, now’s the time to do so. Otherwise, save your money for Andy Partridge’s Fuzzy Warbles demos sets – they’re much more enlightening.

The Format – Dog Problems: I overlooked this one last week, but feel compelled to give it some attention this week because these are some home-town boys, and I very rarely feel much desire to hype Phoenix-based bands because I have yet to hear one besides Megadeth that I think is particularly special. Suffice it to say, these guys are special, and one look at the credits of who is involved on this album should say as much: ex-Jellyfish Roger Manning Jr. and producer Steve MacDonald (of Redd Kross,) and those names should give you a pretty good idea where The Format are, musically. If it doesn’t, think late 60s psych-pop, with hints of the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the like. That isn’t to say they’re generic – that’s why I’m pointing them out, afterall. I also point them out because Best Buy has them featured this week for $7.99, so if you’re looking for something that’s not only fun but actually intelligent fun, this is the time to take a chance.

July 13, 2006

The week in review!

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:04 pm

Or something like that.

First off, let’s congratulate my wife on reaching the last day at her job tomorrow (Friday, I mean, for anyone not reading this Thursday night.) She’s moving on from a job that kept her from doing what she’s been wanting to do to one where she can finally take advantage of the skills she is naturally blessed with, which is editing. And believe me, she loves editing – she edits this site for grammar errors without me even having to ask, just sending me a quick email from work or telling me as we go to bed what I misspelled or misspoke, and she regularly entertains me the injustices of inadequate editing from which our local newspaper suffers, which are many and frequent.

Come Monday, she starts a brand new job doing something she actually loves in a field where she actually has a chance to grow and develop. I’m so happy for her and so proud of her – it’s a hard field to get into. Finding an entry-level position seems to be almost impossible – it’s the typical joke: companies want people with experience, but of course no one can get experience because companies won’t hire them. But opportunity knocked and Alissa opened the door.

What’s been fun the past week is that Alissa’s soon-to-be ex-employer actually fought hard to keep her, fighting so well that she actually accepted a really significant counter offer from them, only to have the new job counter-counter-offer with an ever better offer, which she finally accepted as the final choice.

Amanda’s got four teeth coming in on top . . . at the same time. She’s got a goofy little grin right now that consists of the two bottom teeth that have come in quite a bit, then one tooth on top that’s popped all the way through the gums, then three others on top in varying states of emergence. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be, so it probably explains the many mornings of 5am wake-ups and days of cranky, restless behavior.

As for me, well, my week’s not been as exciting, save for that whole Taylor Hicks thing which has been extremely entertaining. Head on over to Blogcritics to read the, as of this writing, 128 comments in response to it. I definitely touched a nerve, I can say that much. Unfortunately, most of the commenters don’t really seem to have much of a grasp of what I was really writing about, illustrating that either their high school English classes failed entirely in teaching what I consider to be one of the most important things people need to learn in order to get through life in modern times, Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal, or blind allegiance to entertainers has elevated itself to an alarming level where no one is allowed to suggest that maybe they’re being overhyped and that – gasp! – someone might not like them. Disagreement, apparently, is simply not allowed when the Soul Patrol is on duty.

I also find it alarming that many seem to consider Taylor Hicks to be it, overlooking the countless musicians who have been struggling and working hard, too, out there on bars’ stages, recording music with the bits of cash they can scrape together, who would never consider doing something as crass and soulless as American Idol to get somewhere with their careers. And that’s not even including the successful names I’m sure most aren’t even aware of. I’m pretty sure if Hicks fans actually knew about someone like, say, Paul Weller, they’d never be able to stomach an instant of Hicks’ gutless soul after hearing what Weller can do with the genre (and if you’re willing to try, I suggest Wild Wood and/or Stanley Road as starting points.)

But what do I know? I’ve only heard many thousands of albums and only spend nearly all my free time reading about and pretty much living and breathing music. I’m obviously not qualified enough to make a judgment on the quality of Taylor Hicks’ music yet. Maybe when I’ve heard, say, 10,000 albums I’ll be trustworthy enough to make a call on Hicks. As it stands, by my estimates, I’ve probably only heard 5,000 albums in the past 20 years. I’m practically a rookie, really. But someday . . .

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