Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Hey! With 2009 little just hours away I just want to wish everyone reading this a Happy New Year and hope you all have a great 2009.

As for New Years Resolutions and the like, I don't really have any and I'm cautious about the next year. While I hope 2009 is better than 2008, I also hoped for a better 2008 last year and things all went downhill in ways you don't want to know about. Thus, while I'm trying not to be too down about things, I am approaching things with a lot of caution.

Tomorrow is another year (it's always weird to say that). Hope all is well with everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quasi Unexpected Holiday Music Recap

I know this is really cutting things to the bone here, but I realize I need to get this in now or it won't get done. This entry will highlight a few holiday music records: a unique disc released for a small time each year but not normally available. This time there's three that we want to let you in on. One I'm sure you know about but the other two I feel need some attention. Let's start with the most known one first.

Stephen Colbert and Friends - "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All soundtrack" download

This is basically what the title implies. The soundtrack to the Colbert Report host's recent Christmas Special. Musically, this varies from the lounge/standards of Colbert's "Another Christmas Song" to guest appearances by Toby Keith ("Have I Got A Present For You," which is amusing when just audio but funny as shit when watched), Feist ("PLease Be Patient") and several duets (including one with Jon Stewart called "Can I Interest You In Hannukah") as well as a group singalong of (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" (Keith's appearance on this song is something I can honestly say I never thought would happen). While those unfamiliar with Colbert and his work might not get this, Colbert fans will love it. Snarky, tongue in cheek, and funny as hell. Only available on itunes but worth it.

(Comedy Central)

Destructors 666 - "Bah Humbug" CDEP

This band has been making an impression here at TTWN HQ (or whatever passes for it) for a while now, so imagine our surprise when this Christmas EP appeared. As you may have guessed, this is tear down the walls punk rock delivered with lots of aggro guitars and a tongue and cheek approach. Starting with "Just Another Christmas Song" (no, not the one Colbert did) on, this is a more sarcastic take on the season that's sometimes humorous, sometimes confrontational (one song is titled "Merry Christmas & Fuck Off), as well as a cover of Fear's early 80s classic "Fuck Xmas" for good measure. Straight ahead and loud, this is a great CD to listen to for a little relief from the usual drama that unfortunately occure this time of year for many of us. Well worth getting for next Holiday season (I checked the band's website and I don't know if they have it, but you can definitely find it on itunes).


Gentleman Auction House Christmas In Love CDEP

In our holiday music wrapup comes this EP from Gentleman Auction House. A brief collection of originals songs (with one or two exceptions), the band's layered power pop sound fits in this setting as tight hooks and clean harmonies mesh with a blend of synthesizers and guitars for a vibe between the old chestnuts and the more personal tales of love, relationships about to fall apart et al during this time of year What emerges though is a more somber take on the holiday as trying to move on from a breakup et al is the more prominent than any of the forced happiness that the media tries to get us to march lockstep to this time of year. While Holiday traditionalists and those not into poppier stuff might not enjoy it, this is an entertaining little disc that at least puts the season into context.


I hope this helps you in finding some new music for holiday cheer in its own unique way.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Does Rick Warren Have A Role In This Too?

Yes, like many people, I was taken aback by President Obama wanting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration (why are we having clergy at these things anyway, but I digress), creating a possible slap in he face between Warren's support for Prop 8 (which banned gay marriages in CA) and the people in the LGBT community that helped him get in office. While some said that Prop 8 wouldn't cancel those already married, it looks like we spoke too soon. Now they're trying to nullify already existing marriages. While I sincerely hope that Rev. Warren isn't involved with this, why do I have a feeling he wouldn't oppose it

This is problematic for one huge reason: it gives the state the power to decide which marriages are allowed to exist. If this is allowed, then what lies ahead? Would interracial marriages be next? Would the far right try to stop companies from allowing benefits to non married couples? Supporters of Prop 8 and similar foolish bills and laws claims marriage is supported in the Bible. However, while many of these people claim to be social conservatives who want less government intrusion when it comes to personal issues they want the state to play God.

Just frustrating. Hopefully we get our heads on straight and move forward from this step back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why I'll Miss Moral Orel

I don't normally do posts about things like TV shows but this is a case where I had to make an exception. I just hope I did justice to what I wanted to get across.

This Thursday will mark the last episode of the TV show Moral Orel, thus marking the end of one of the more bizarre shows to appear on US television and, in some ways, one of the more surprising. The story of Orel (hence the title), a deeply religious 12 year old who wants to do good but misinterprets the somewhat skewed messages given by his family (especially his father Clay, who seems more interested in using his belt than actually teaching his son), school, and church and ends up getting in trouble. While the show has one of those people tend to either love or hate, there is a reason I'll miss the show.

Is it the show's ability to make fun of topics some would consider taboo? There might be some of that. In the shows run Orel's misunderstandings of rules and lessons has led him to raise the dead, get addicted to crack, and unintentionally become a pimp among other things. While I admit sometimes I don't get the direction a certain episode takes, it's been one of those journeys where a stop motion animation show can show us a window on the society at large. But that's not the reason I'll miss Moral Orel.

The real reason I'll miss Moral Orel is simple: the show is probably the most accurate warning shot of what society would be like if the conservative Christian right really controlled everything. The town of Moralton in the show is a place where religion and rules reign supreme and the appearance of piety (in this town the librarian actually burns the books herself) seems more important than what's inside. While the adults in the show appear to be content, they more often than not want to pass the buck (especially when it comes to Orel's quest for advice and help) and then often not realizing their role in what got Orel into trouble in the first place. It's also telling for the show that the character of Stephanie, owner of Moralton's only sex shop, is the one adult that's actually worth a damn, treating Orel with a certain amount of respect and concern, as opposed to the other adults who just brush him off, more concern with their own problems than providing even a remote resemblance of social guidance. With this last season, we learn some of the reasons why the adults around Orel are the way they are and, in a way, how they seem to pass on the mistakes done to them onto the next generation (especially Orel), taking the show on a darker turn, but one that actually added a context to the show other than the feel you're watching an episode of Davy and Goliath gone horribly worng.

In the last couple decades, there's been a lot of talk about a culture war. Social conservatives like to believe that if we can erase the upheaval the social movements of the 1960s helped to create, then things would be more peaceful and orderly, creating a world that's safer and better, especially with the church taking a major role in everyone's life. While this seems like a nice theory, the reality of this society would most likely be exactly like Moralton.

Here's hoping (and to doing what we can) to ensure society never gets to that point. R.I.P. Moral Orel - you will be missed.