January 31, 2009

Timing and Diversity

Category: Current Events — Cranky @

Some people have asked me why I don’t write much about the economic situation right now, while everything is collapsing. Well, when I wrote about it before, it wasn’t really well known that these problems were coming. Now you can’t turn on the news or open a newspaper without being swamped in dire tidings. Everybody can see the collapse in their retirement savings.

I’m not a reporter, and the reporters are finally on it (although I think they still don’t understand just how bad it’s going to get). So unless I have a point to make that I think isn’t being made, I’ll just leave the topic alone.

I’ll say this, though. I watched an interview with Steve Forbes, head of the Forbes media group, in which he predicts recovery in the second half of 2009, and recommends the abolishment of “mark to market”. How can a man so “connected” be such a tool? During the interview I actually thought, “This guy’s a fool.”

Anyway, on to some kind of point that I hope isn’t making the rounds.

Barack Obama becomes the first black president. That’s great. Hillary Clinton fought for the same seat, nearly becoming the first female president, and that’s great too. Johanna Sigurdardottir was just sworn in as Iceland’s first female prime minister, and also their first gay one. These are great times for diversity.

It’s just a damn shame they’re inheriting problems so vast that they may well be unsolvable, save through complete economic collapse and a very long rebuilding process. I would much rather these historic appointments had occurred during times of prosperity. It’s a shame to see the leadership terms of a black men and a gay woman buried in problems mostly caused by rich white men.

If, however, they manage to pull their respective planes out of the nosedive before the crash, they will be able to outgrow their current labels. History might speak of, “Barack Obama, the man who rescued the United States from economic collapse.” Being black might be a footnote instead of a defining characteristic.

That would be the best possible situation. I don’t believe it’s the most likely.


January 30, 2009

Just One For The Rest Of Your Life? Hardly.

Category: Life — Cranky @

I play guitar often these days. In fact, I play at least an hour a day lately. It’s one of the great joys in my life. However, each night I’m faced with a dilemma. Who do I invite to the dance?

My Epiphone Iommi G400 is an easy date. She’s an evil piece of darkness with a fantastically long neck that houses a full 24 frets, and her strings are thin and mounted so low that I don’t understand why she doesn’t buzz like a beehive. Thick, chunky frets are inlaid with old Sabbath-style celtic crosses. She’s not delicate… she rumbles like a freight train, thanks to her classic humbucker pickups. There’s no precision to be had here. It’s rock or die, and she’ll take the abuse and like it.

My Peavey Wolfgang SE, on the other hand, is just the opposite. She’s a precisely built guitar with a very short neck, no tone control at all, and she’s built like a tank with sustain for days. The strings are highly mounted and thick, leaving plenty of room for careful playing at the cost of forgiveness. She demands to be played properly, or not at all.

Next is my Ibanez Artcore AF-125 Custom. She’s truly beautiful with her quilted maple finish and semi-hollow body, and she plays like a quiet dream. For blues or jazz she’s my go-to girl, with her silky smooth fret board, sublime sound, and strings that are nearly acoustic in weight. I can get lost in her tone for hours at a time.

When it’s time to turn down the volume, my Alvarez PD85SCAV acoustic is up to bat. She’s got a solid spruce top with satin antique violin finish, and her tone is subtle and beautiful. She doesn’t handle changes in humidity well, and she requires constant fine-tuning. She’s high maintenance, but worth it.

Sometimes you have to get down and dirty, and I have a bass guitar for just such an occasion. My Spector NS2000 Q4 is an amber baby with the ability to be subtle and precise, or to bring down the house, depending on my mood. She’ll do well either picked or fingered (ahem), and she holds her tuning like a gem.

Finally, my love-in-absentee, my National 6-string electric, a guitar so rare it’s impossible to find a reference to it online. She is away being restored at the moment, but when she returns I’ll rediscover the guitar that has been around me for 28 years.

I’m swimming in hot babes. It’s good to be me.


January 21, 2009

The Downside of Desensitization

Category: Humour — Cranky @

Lately I’ve been watching a television series produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. The show isn’t important, but the introduction is. After all, it features Leo the Lion in his iconic double-growl pose. At first my cats didn’t like that growl at all. They would jump up and run out of the room, driven by some deep, instinctual understanding that a predator was making that sound. Now, several dozen episodes in, my cats have adjusted, and they don’t give it a second thought.

On Friday I have a fellow coming in to do a minor repair to the flooring in my new condo. What if he doesn’t see the “pets inside” sign? It’s conceivable that he might leave the door open for a few minutes. Quietly my cats might sneak through the door, down the stairs, and under the wrought iron security door. Undoubtedly this man owns a truck, and my cats might silently wait, slipping into the vehicle when he comes down.

From there he might drive to the airport to pick up his cousin, who, after a brief stint in a U.S. prison, might be ready to rejoin society. Upon arrival, Thelma and Louise (the aforementioned felines) might steal their way through the facility, winding up in the baggage hold of an intercontinental flight destined for France. After a stop for some cream, wine, and cigarettes, they might catch a connecting flight to Africa.

They might get off the plane, and run straight into the nearest jungle. A growl nearby should drive them to panic, but no – they ignore it completely, and BAM! They’re eaten by a lion. It’d be my fault.

These things keep me awake at night.