Tuesday, June 8, 2010

800 AD - Charlemagne Bows to Dr Love

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, it’s a major event today. This is my 800th post!!! Yeah!!! I know, holy crap, right? I’ve been doing this thing for over three years now…and I was worried that I was going to get bored with it from day one. Take THAT, OCD!!! Let’s see, news… Ugh… I’ve been outdoors playing basketball more, basically just shooting hoops but apparently there’s some good pickup game action in Incline Village on Wednesday nights (yes, when I have softball) so we’ll see. If I’m a reserve next game, I may just kindly excuse myself to go play ball elsewhere. I’m sure they’d understand. They have my support. I’d just rather meet people & play ball than sit on the bench & drink beer. So yeah, that’s really about it. May have a date this weekend (fingers crossed) but I’ll believe it when I see it. Single moms have their priorities…and I respect that completely. I’m just saying. Do you know what I’m saying? “Yes, I know what you’re saying. You don’t have to keep asking.” Sorry, just remembering an episode of South Park. My mind wanders. So yeah…eight hundred posts on this thing. Woot!!! Not only that…but I found out yesterday that I inspired a friend of mine to start her own recently. What? Who? Well, I also told her that I wouldn’t “link it up” until she was satisfied with the layout and everything…so to be continued.

My dad & stepmom are coming to visit in a few weeks for 4th of July week. They’ve finally started firming up their plans, so they’ll be spending a few nights with me in Truckee, then over to my stepsisters (and the grandkids) in Carson City for the weekend, then they want ALL OF US to go to San Francisco & the ocean for a night, then back to Carson until they fly out. Sounds like a nice trip, right? Well, how about a few weekends after that, my mom & my aunt Pat will be coming to visit. It’s the weekend that kicks off the Tahoe Music Festival too…and there’s a Wine Walk. For those who don’t know, a Wine Walk is basically where you pay twenty bucks for a wine glass…and then a few dozen wineries offer you their prize stock in hopes that you’ll purchase a bottle or two or their fermented grape juice…but basically, it’s an all-you-can-drink waltz through the mountain village listening to live music. Sounds awesome, right? Yeah…so $teve’s got visitors soon. Can’t wait. Oh…and Beerfest is July 10th. Come on, come all, get drunk. Well, I guess without further ado, here’s some news…

Chinese Fire Drill – Okay, this has nothing to do with fires…but it’s about safety standards in China, so it’s kinda related. Foxconn International Holdings, the Chinese company that makes iPhones, will no longer pay compensation to families of employees who kill themselves to discourage further suicides, China's Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. Why? A LOT of people have been killing themselves at work the past few months. Xinhua cited posters in Foxconn's Shenzhen complex as saying the company had "concrete evidence" that some of its employees who killed themselves in a recent spate of suicides had done so in order to win compensation money for their families. Most of the victims' families received more than 100,000 yuan ($14,640), Xinhua said. "The act is wrong. Life is precious. To prevent such tragedies, Foxconn is to cease releasing compensation other than that provided by law," Xinhua quoted the poster as saying. Foxconn is owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, which has announced two wage rises in the past two weeks for workers at the sprawling plant in Shenzhen, where some 400,000 staff assemble iPhones and other gadgets. Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou, Taiwan's richest man, also told shareholders on Tuesday he would limit overtime at plants in China to no more than three hours a day. There you go, crisis averted. Glad that’s over with. What? Oh, that may not be the best way to curb the tendency of overworked employees to leap to their deaths? Whatever, man. I need my iPhone… and cheap.

Funeral Crashers – Unfortunately, not an off-putting sequel to “Wedding Crashers” but a real story. A New Zealand funeral home has stepped in to stop a fake mourner who was attending up to four funerals a week to stock up on food, even filling up Tupperware containers to take home, according to media reports. Harbour City Funeral Home director Danny Langstraat told local newspaper The Dominion Post that the "grim eater" appeared at up to four funerals a week in March and April to enjoy the finger food but clearly did not know the deceased. The funeral company grew so concerned that it took a photograph of the man, thought to be aged in his 40s, and distributed the picture to its branches. "Certainly he had a backpack with some Tupperware containers so when people weren't looking, he was stocking up," Langstraat told the newspaper. He said the man was "always very quiet and polite, and did as the rest of the mourners did in paying his respects." Langstraat said the man stopped coming after one staff member took him aside and told him he could come to funerals but could not take food home with him. Funeral Directors Association president Tony Garing told the newspaper that such cases happened in the industry occasionally but it was difficult to stop people from coming or call their behavior theft because funerals were usually public events. Besides, it’s not like he’s using grief (the ultimate aphrodisiac) to sleep with mourners, just get some free nibbles…and he even paid his respects. Heck, I’ve been invited to funerals where I did less than that. Okay, maybe not…just at a few weddings…but still. Heck, it’s not even like there’s an open bar to take advantage of at a funeral. By the way, I’ve told y’all that I want a Jazz Funeral with an open bar, right? Okay, just so it’s noted.

Now it’s time for another first on this blog, since it is the occasion of the 800th post. You all should know by now…that I like music. “Really?” Really. As I’m sure EVERYBODY does. That’s one reason I like to ask on a first date, “Do you like music?” just to see what kind of reaction I get. “Seriously? Did you just ask me IF I like music? Not what kind I like?” “Hey, if you want another Cosmo, you’d better chill the f**k out.” Yeah, that’s me seriously. I would do that. Anyway, I talked about a few mix tapes a few years back…and I’ve had a few concert reviews including Al Green, Birthquake, Smokey Robinson, Zepperella, Incubus, the Bacon Brothers, Ingrid Michelson and more…but I’ve realized that I’ve never really done a Music List, similar in fashion to my 50+ Movie Lists (which I realize I haven’t done in a while either). Why? Well, because I don’t feel like it’s my field of expertise that I’m completely updated & opinionated about like movies. Music, at least to me, because of it typically being 3-5 minutes long, is a lot more about the sensation that you get hearing the music. It’s more significantly tied to a particular event in your life, like a high school dance, or a road trip with your friends & family, or a broken heart, or a concert that you went to, or a loved one singing it to you as a child, or your first time doing karaoke, or for some reason every time you hear that song you get an awkward erection remembering a past make-out session (damn you Elton John). Sure, we all have movies that we love & saw a million times as kids…but yeah, it’s completely different mediums. Also, there are very few artists (especially in the last 20 years) that I listen to on a regular basis. Seriously? Would you want to know what I think about Elvis? The Beatles? Kajagoogoo? Biz Markie? Nat King Cole? Didn’t think so. Either you like them, or you don’t. And I couldn’t really do songs on a list like this. I’d have to go with the albums, an artist compilation or work…and Greatest Hits don’t count. So yeah, that’s why I haven’t done one yet…but I thought I’d do something different today…so deal with it & let me know what you think. Here we are…

$teve’s 1st Music List

Jay-Z Albums – Pretty much my idol when it comes to a true success story built on hard times and now… UGH!!! We’ve all done things we’re not too proud of to get by (granted I’ve never had to shoot and/or directly sell crack to anybody) but with perseverance, confidence in our abilities, work ethic & a lot of swagger, you too can become rise from the Marcy Projects to a hip-hop mogul / part owner of the Nets / fashion designer / vodka distiller / club owner like S. Carter. Since I was a teenager, I don’t know, his music just always seemed to speak to me in a way. I mean… the man has won two $tevies the past three years. There’s only a select few amazing people out there that can claim that. Is he an incredible singer? Hell no. Can he play the guitar? I don’t believe he’s even held one before. Can he even set up his own beats? Probably not. But the man has charisma, a magnificent ability to tell stories, share life-earned lessons & enough hustle for all y’all. F**k, the man is with Beyonce & looks like some kind of camel hybrid. Enough said.

Medal Winners

Gold – The Blueprint (2001) – Probably the most infamous record release date of all time (9-11-01) but this was the album that not only took Jay-Z from a rapper with a few hits and a lot of street cred to an ICON…but it also launched the careers of producers like Swiss Beatz (Alicia Keys baby daddy) & then little-known Kanye West. Basically it’s just a solid hour of some of the greatest, realest hip-hop music ever created, hence why Vibe gave it 5 Mics…and it’s currently in my CD player. Hit singles include “H to the Izzo”, “Girls Girls Girls (and the remix)”, “Song Cry” and others…but really it’s the whole album that can just be appreciated as a singular work. Also a claim to fame, probably the single greatest diss track of all time, “The Takeover” set to the Doors “Five to One” which pretty much destroyed the reputations (and therefore careers) of Nas & Mobb Deep. Oh…and there’s the track “Renegade” with him & Slim Shady collaborating. Seriously, check it out. The albums “Blueprint 2” (2002) & “Blueprint 3” (2009) are pretty good too. If you wanna check them all out, just stop by my apartment.

Silver – The Black Album (2003) – The first Farewell album…of I’m sure plenty more to come. This was supposed to be Jigga riding off into the sunset with the Number One Spot, a big share of Def Jam & Beyonce under his arm…until he realized that he could make a sh*t load of money still. This album had a lot of tracks produced by Pharrell Williams & Rick Rubin including classics like “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, “Change Clothes” and the greatest ringtone to ever have for a call that you don’t want to take, “99 Problems.” It runs the gamut of club hits to street ballads and is just a pretty great album throughout. I also kinda liked the album where he collaborated with Linkin Park on a few of these tracks…but yeah, you can pass on that if you want.

Bronze – Life & Times of Shawn Carter: Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life (1998) – Who would’ve ever thought that sampling a track from “Annie” would turn you into a huge rap star? Well, it did for this guy. Also, having a big club hit from the “Rush Hour” soundtrack with “Can I Get A…” and a few big videos back when MTV played videos made this album his first HUGE multi-platinum release…and with good reason. Volume 1 & Volume 3 were also great albums…but Volume 2 gets the spot because of this white boy from Utah rollin’ around town in a firecracker red ’85 Camaro singing “Money Ain’t A Thang” and remixing “Money, Cash, Hoes” into “Assets, Currency, Women” for no particular reason other than it amuses me.

Suggestion – Reasonable Doubt (1997) – The first solo album took him from a guy on a few of his buddy Biggie’s tracks into his own fulfilling the promise “Multi before I die!” The most popular track was “Ain’t No N***a” with Foxy Brown which was on the Nutty Professor soundtrack but there’s a lot of other great tracks here too. Oddly enough, I think this one is currently in my CD player at home for when I want to chillax to “Feelin’ It” or “Dead Presidents” and the like while cooking some dinner or cleaning up the apartment. Another suggestion, since this is my blog, is the album “Best of Both Worlds” (2000) which is an entire CD of collaborations with THE R. Kelly. You all know how I love R. Kelly, even though…he may be a little insane. It’s good to know that somebody else out there has no problem with singing every single word that comes out of his mouth. Anyway, it’s THE hip-hop mogul and THE R. in R&B together and…it’s an interesting collection. Some tracks are right on, some are a little forced, but you know me. I love Jay-Z. I love R. Kelly. It’s like the first time peanut butter slipped its way into the chocolate factory (another great R. Kelly album), pure bliss. I still find myself at random times singing “The Power of the P-U-*-*-Y” and “Your Body.” You know what? While you’re at it, just listen to “American Gangster” & “Roc La Familia” too. It think I’ve mentioned just about all of the albums now at least in passing. You’re welcome.

Flush It – Kingdom Come (2006) – Funny story about this one. Jay-Z retired with the Black Album a few years earlier, realized that he could make a lot of money still, and released this album. That’s not the funny part. About two months after I bought it, I lent it to a neighbor…and never saw them again. I haven’t repurchased this album…and I don’t feel too bad about it. It’s not that it was a horrible album or anything, because it still had its moments. I just…can only really remember one track off it…and it was that one “Show Me What You Got” that started out with the “Rump Shaker” riff…and the music video had Dale Earnhardt Jr & Danica Patrick…and it was on a beer commercial. There were also a few collaborations with John Legend, Usher, Ne-Yo and the guy from Coldplay who’s married to Gwyneth Paltrow…but overall, it just seemed to be all about the money that he had made…and I just wasn’t feeling it like the others. Not the best way to come out of retirement. We all make mistakes though…and let’s face it, I’m not going to sell as many records on my finest day as he does on his worst, so who am I to judge? Oh yeah, my blog.

Future Watch – MTV Unplugged (2001) – I just never saw the point to listening to this album because…it’s a rap album… unplugged. If I have all the other albums, why would I want to hear the same stuff again without the background music? I know, it’s probably got some African drums and maybe Earth Wind & Fire playing the accompaniment to “Big Pimpin’” or something but… it just never appealed to me. However, realizing that it’s the only album I don’t have, maybe I should at least give it a listen. I may be pleasantly surprised. Also, I’m sure he’ll keep releasing albums until it’s no longer profitable…and then he’ll just have to settle for making money off anyone from Rihanna to Beanie Siegel to LeBron James. Oh, did I give away that he’s going to the Nets? Shoot. Sorry, LeBron. Anyway, that’s my first music list. Leave your comments where I can see them.

And that’ll do it for this 800th installment of my blog. I hope that you all enjoyed it. Join me tomorrow…when I tell you of news that I just received that will probably have a pretty major impact on the next few months…and even more so after the next few months. Intrigued? You know you are. But it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, go out and do something fun. It’s a gorgeous day (probably) and you’ve been hanging around your computer too much anyway. Go get some fresh air & spend time with a loved one or two. You’ve earned it. You’re awesome. Have a great day everybody!!!

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