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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Voice Of Reason

Finally, a voice of reason in this debate about guns and the violence in Mexico. From this article:

Sen. Kerry Makes Push For Tighter Gun Control

Note what El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza has to say:

"The rhetoric has been escalated and exaggerated."

A voice of reason! Kerry is falling into the Obama "never let a crisis go to waste" mantra. Thank goodness for logical people like Mr. Esparza as well as Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

Maybe Kerry should go to the Mexican border and throw his military metals into Mexico.

Illogical Conclusions By The Clueless Obama Administration - Gun Control Edition

The Obama administration is clueless. They prove that on a daily basis. Obama one minute: "We don't want to run General Motors." Obama the next minute: "Oh, Rick Wagoner, you're fired." This guy is rewriting the definition of hypocrite.

But their "cluelessness" is no where more apparent than in their talking points regarding Mexican drug cartels and gun control. First, it is absolutely ludicrous to try and link those two issues. Secondly, the ludicrous level becomes intolerable when you start hearing how the administration is trying to link the two.

First, read this ABC News article:
Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban

To start there is this:

""As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," (Attorney General Eric) Holder told reporters."


Huh? Obama said there would be a few gun-related changes he would like to make during the campaign? According to Sportsmen for Obama, he told the Wall Street Journal last September the following:

"“Even if I want to take them away, I don’t have the votes in Congress,’’ he said."

An Obama lie? No way. I know folks, he if full of them. And what he said last year while campaigning is turning out to be vastly different than his actions in office on almost every issue.

But there is more from the ABC News article:

"Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border."

So now it is obvious what they are trying to do. They are equating drug violence in Mexico with gun rights in the United States. I guess we can now blame The Netherlands, where marijuana is legal, for the drug problems here in the United States. Or maybe we can blame our drunk driving problems on Ethiopia's lenient DUI laws. It is ludicrous to say that we are to blame for Mexico's drug violence.

Dear Mexico, please do a better job at controlling your drug cartels. Thank you. Signed, The United States.

But it gets better. From the article:

"A State Department travel warning issued Feb. 20, 2009, reflected government concerns about the violence.

"Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the warning said."


Someone needs to tell Mr. Holder, and the Obama administration, that automatic weapons and grenades are already illegal in the United States! The Mexicans either aren't getting them from here (probable) or there is a large black market in the United States for automatic weapons and grenades (less probable). This black market would have to be so large that even illegals from Mexico could come over, make the necessary contacts, buy them in mass, then smuggle them back across the border.

Does anyone else think this is a ludicrous conclusion to draw? Surely people aren't so stupid to fall for this.

Further, think of the lack of logic that goes into what the administration is now trying to push. Mexican drug cartels are now armed with ILLEGAL automatic weapons and ILLEGAL grenades. So they are going to fight that by banning more weapons! If the drug cartels can already get illegal weapons, making even more weapons illegal will not do a thing to prevent this.

That is like saying that since some people illegally acquire dynamite, we are going to make firecrackers illegal. Or to combat cocaine use we are going to make Tylenol a controlled substance. Illogical? You bet, but it is the same logic the Obama administration is employing here.

The article continues:

""I think closing the gun show loophole, the banning of cop-killer bullets and I also think that making the assault weapons ban permanent, would be something that would be permitted under Heller," Holder said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Washington, D.C. v. Heller, which asserted the Second Amendment as an individual's right to own a weapon."

So we go from Obama trying to convince us that our guns were safe if he were to being elected, to a litany of new gun control measures he will now seek after being elected. And people wonder why some don't trust this guy? Further, he is playing on old fears and misnomers (gun show loophole, cop-killer bullets, assault weapons) to push this agenda. Not that anyone should be surprised considering that his motto seems to be "never let a crisis go wasted".

Obama is a liar, we know that. But you would think he would have waited a year or two on this issue in order to make it less obvious.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Monica Conyers

A couple of weeks ago she called into a local radio SPORTS talk show. And she showed more of her true colors:

Monica Conyers as told by Valenti and Foster on 97.1 The Ticket

This woman is a menace.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poem Time Again

Cost Of Freedom

Freedom isn't free.
Cliché.
Langston says
Fear.
Compromise.
Bring the opposite of freedom.

Freedom has a cost.
Today.
Langston says
Tired.
Hearing.
Tomorrow let things be as they are.

Are we willing?
To pay.
Are we willing?
To say.
Listen to Langston
Plant freedom.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Liberals = Hypocrites? SHOCKING

I stumbled across this video while doing some political reading this morning:



Absolutely amazing. It is hard to fathom the sheer hypocrisy from those on the left. I remember the days leading up to the inauguration of George W. Bush, and the insults and bashing that liberals had already started hurdling at the then president-elect. 8 years later we conservatives were told to temper our criticism, to give the "new president a chance". Rush Limbaugh was skewered in the media for hoping Obama's liberal agenda fails. I was personally told that it was unfair to bash a president before he took office.

Who are these liberal yahoos kidding? Are they serious? Have they forgotten their behavior from 8 years ago? Surely they are not trying to claim the moral high ground on this topic.

Here are a sampling of things I heard personally before Bush took office:

"He stole the election."

"He is stupid!"

"He wants to force his religious beliefs on us."

"I hope he is killed."

Here is an example of the how President Bush was handled by the media while still "president-elect":

Warnings by President-Elect (Bush) On Economy Worry Democrats


Notice this part: "Mr. Bush appeared to be emphasizing the threat of a possible recession, meanwhile, as a way to lay political blame for future problems on the administration of President Bill Clinton."

See what they did here? They made a claim but no where in the article is there a single quote by Bush to back this up. In fact, the article actually says that Bush didn't comment! "In his meeting Tuesday with Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton said he thought a recession — which economists define as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth — was unlikely. Mr. Bush declined to comment."

Contrast that with nary a peep from the mainstream media about the 2,000 point drop that occurred between Obama's election and his first month in office. If not for conservative talk radio and blogs no one would have even mentioned it.

Further, look at how the media handled the definition of recession in the above quote. Now compared that to the media's handling of the definition of a recession in late 2007, coincidentally timed with the run-up to the presidential campaign:

It's official: We're in a recession

The most interesting part is here: "The usual indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country's gross domestic product.

NBER however defines a recession as a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators.”"

Hmm, where was that alternate definition in Clinton's final year in office?

Also, here is another recent example of the difference in how the media handles Obama compared to how they handled Bush:

Bush Blunders, Media Thunders - Obama Stumbles, Media Mumbles

And finally, Obama uses Special Olympians to bash his own bowling game on Leno:



Where was the media outrage? How about this:

Arlen Grossman: Obama's Special Olympics remark not hurtful

Interesting quote: "My thoughts were completely different: "Hey, that's funny," I thought. "This guy has a sense of humor.""

By the way, that quote is from a supposed special education teacher? Do you think he would be saying that if Bush had been the one to make the comment?

Liberal bias in the media is nothing new. You need to look no further than Dan Rather making up memos to bash Bush for evidence of bias. The fact that the media is so unabashed about their bias is what galls me. Yet Obama has the audacity to bash Fox News, the only unbiased news source we have right now, for being biased because they actual criticize him when he is worthy of the criticism.

I am not sure I can take 4 more years of this stuff.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Must Have Albums - #8

- Vulgar Display Of Power - Pantera
Released: February 25, 1992










#8 I have to admit to arriving late to the table on this one. By time I was introduced to this album by my cousin Greg, it was October of 1992. The rest of Pantera-nation had already had 8 months to digest this masterpiece of metal before I even had heard of the band, one of the greatest metal bands in history. I was specifically introduced to the song "This Love" and immediately fell in love with that song.

My cousin was away at school, and I went down to Arkansas to visit him. I had only been there a short time when he started telling me about this great song by a "new" band. (Well, they were new to us anyway.) The song was "This Love". We listened to that song several times over the course of my visit, and that song was emblazoned on my brain by time I left. We did dabble in a few of the other songs on this masterpiece that weekend, but always returned back to "This Love".

I bought a copy of VDOP shortly after returning home. And from the opening guitar riff of "Mouth For War" I was even further hooked. The Pantera bug had bitten me and infected me badly, and I, as well as my neck muscles, would never be the same. You might think I am joking but it is nearly impossible to listen to VDOP without bobbing your head, tapping your foot, and/or outright banging your head. I have also found that listening to VDOP while driving is hazardous to every other driver on the road. It is nearly impossible not to drive fast and aggressively while listening to VDOP.

There really is not a weak song on this entire release. Pantera was on top of their game for this album, as well as its predecessor Cowboys From Hell. They also struck metal gold with their follow-up album Far Beyond Driven. After that the magic began to fade. Not that subsequent albums weren't good, just that they didn't approach the same level of metal genius that these three did. Unfortunately the band eventually couldn't coexist any longer and they went their separate ways.

It would be wrong not mention "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's fate when discussing Pantera. As most people know he was murdered on stage in Columbus, OH while performing with his band Damageplan, that also featured his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. He was murdered by an enraged Pantera fan, a mentally unstable fan that couldn't deal with the break-up of Pantera. The insane fan blamed Darrell for the band's break-up and that supposedly caused him to do what he did. Enough about that.

The late Darrell Abbott was an incredible guitarist. He was always underrated, and it is just now post-mortem that he is receiving his due for the impact and influence he has had in the metal genre. He was inventive, experimental, and truly had a unique style and sound. His brother Vinnie was Pantera's drummer and Vinnie is an incredibly gifted drummer. Some of the beats he pounded out left you shaking your head (in between banging it!). Rex Brown was the band's accomplished bassist. Phil Anselmo was the band's lead singer and gave the band much of its attitude and personality.

That personality was one of aggression, and angst, and anger. I have begun in recent years to refer to Pantera as Anger Metal. This anger and aggression is what made Pantera's music go. There was unmistakable anger and aggression in their sound, even without Anselmo's angry vocals. The lyrical content was often angry as well, and it was the blend of all three of these elements that made Pantera unique. VDOP embodied that more than any other of their albums and that is why it is a must have. If there was one album you'd want someone to hear to get the gist of Pantera, Vulgar is it.

Unfortunately some of the lyrical content is such that you can't listen to it in mixed company. Including one song whose title can't even be repeated. As I've grown older I have grown more sensitive to that kind of thing, as I don't remember having a huge problem with it 16 years ago. I say unfortunately because the music is so good, the writing, production and mixing is so good, that it would be great to listen to this more often.

Anger Metal at its absolute best is what VDOP is all about. Pantera hit a home-run, check that, a grand-slam with this release. As good as this release is the band's live shows were even better. The raw energy from the stage was always palpable. It is a shame that they can never be reunited to recapture that magic. But at least we have Vulgar Display Of Power to fall back on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monica Conyers: "African-American people cannot be racists"

It is high time I've done a post on Monica Conyers. For those outside of the Detroit area, she is the President of the Detroit City Council. She is also the wife of John Conyers who is a sitting United States Representative from Detroit. To sum Monica up listen to this podcast from a local Detroit radio program:

Monica Conyers as told by Deminski and Doyle

She interjects race into almost every issue. She has called the acting mayor of Detroit, Ken Cockrel, "Shrek". She has as much class as a rock, yet she continues to keep her job. If this doesn't speak to the ignorance of voters in the city of Detroit then nothing does.

Check out her wikipedia entry:

Monica Conyers as told by wikipedia.org

And people wonder why Detroit is considered a joke of a city to the rest of the nation.

Here is my open letter to Mrs. Conyers:

Dear Monica,

For the sake of people that live in Detroit, of people that live in the Detroit area, of your husband, of your fellow council members, and the good of the city of Detroit itself, please just SHUT-UP!

Thank you,

Lonewolfarcher

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America -- A Final Night with George W. Bush"

Flipping through channels last Saturday night I came across this show on HBO and was immediately intrigued. First, I have always liked Will Ferrell. Call it a weakness or a guilty pleasure, or whatever. Second, I think George W. Bush was the right man for the presidency for what happened on 9/11/2001, and the aftermath that followed. Third, I wondered how badly of a Bush-bash this thing would turn into.

A couple of qualifications. Number one, I only caught about the last half hour of the show. And number two, I only meant to leave it on for a few minutes because I figured it was only going to infuriate me. One other note: we only have HBO because the cable company gave it to us free as part of our special pricing. We have all R-rated content blocked from viewing unless a pin number is entered. I will not pay for HBO because I really don't want it in my house, though the HBO Family channel does have some decent content.

As it turns out I ended up watching the rest of the show. I was actually impressed by one part of the show, disappointed in many aspects, and in the end it was exactly what I expected it would be.

First, for the part that impressed me. When Ferrell went into the war on Iraq, he actually did it seriously and gave President Bush credit for the gravity of the decision to go into Iraq. He showed the emotion Bush must feel in thinking about the men and women of the armed services that gave their lives in the war. He asked for a moment of silence for them as well as the "hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians" killed in the war. (This number I take issue with but Ferrell is a Hollywood actor so it was to be expected.)

That Ferrell didn't just bash Bush on the war and realized that Bush, like any other president, wouldn't send our troops into harm's way without realizing the danger they would face, and the sacrifices they would make impressed me. Ferrell, at least in the small part of the show I saw, never got into the politics of Iraq and whether or not it was the right thing to do, just that Bush took the decision seriously. For that I give Ferrell credit.

This was then immediately followed by a bit where Bush receives a call from former Bush appointee and head of FEMA Michael Brown. During the call, where we only hear Bush's side of the conversation, the two engage in reminiscing about Hurricane Katrina and FEMA's bungling in the aftermath of that natural disaster. The point seemed obvious: while Bush took using military force seriously, he was less concerned with the nation's poor in the south that were affected by Katrina. While it infuriated me that Ferrell would try to make this comparison, it was to be expected when you think about it in context.

Throughout the part of the show that I watched it seemed that the overall theme was that George W. Bush was a well meaning buffoon that stumbled and bumbled his way through eight years in office. Again, this is to be expected obviously, but Ferrell chose to ignore the fact that Bush was improperly maligned by the extreme left-wing media, and liberals in Hollywood, for his entire time in office. And that, in actuality, Bush was a very good president.

Like him or not, you knew where Bush stood and he didn't shy away from tough problems. He stayed true to his personal beliefs, even sometimes to the chagrin of conservatives. (Read: prescription drug Medicare benefit.) To see him treated in such a cavalier manner is disappointing.

What really galls me is that we will never see this kind of thing for Obama. Obama's first 60 days have been a disaster of epic proportions. The left-wing media continues to give him a pass by blaming everything on Bush, and making LUDICROUS parallels between 9/11 and an economic recession. The late-night shows and political comedy shows won't even joke about Obama. And that isn't from lack of material, he has provided them plenty. It just another sign of the bias in the media today.

The sad reality is that I already miss President Bush. And I think the number of people that miss him grows everyday and will continue to grow as Obama continues to ruin the nation we love.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poem

Anti-War

Necessary evil.
This goes without saying.
Or
so it should.
To be anti-war is to be.
To be anti-warrior is to be the opposite of right.
Liberal.
Wrong.

Who isn't?
This goes without saying.
Or
so it should.
To understand necessity is to be the opposite of left.
To understand necessity is to be the opposite of wrong.
Conservative.
Right.

Stand against evil.
This goes without saying.
Or
so it should.
To go to war to stand against evil is to be the opposite of left.
To go to war to stand against evil is to be the opposite of wrong.
Conservative.
Right.

Nobody wants it.
This goes without saying.
Or
so it should.
To be anti-war is to be.
To be anti-war regardless is to be the opposite of right.
Liberal.
Wrong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Give Me Back My 60 watt Bulbs!!!

The other day I went to Lowe's with a co-worker, and we noticed a package of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) at the register. "Those are the best light bulbs!" he exclaimed.

I need to explain a little about this coworker. He is the kind of guy that would sacrifice his health to save a buck. He doesn't care that CFLs are inferior in many ways to incandescent (old-fashioned) light bulbs. All he knows is that the estimated energy savings is $5/year per light bulb you replace with a CFL.

I explained to him that my wife and I found CFLs insufficient. First of all, we don't like the light they give off. It is a pale, dull, opaque hued light that, quite frankly, hurts the eyes. Secondly, there is a latency to turning them on and the bulb actually coming on. I have turned on a light fixture using a CFL before, and turned it off again thinking the fixture was broken, or that the bulb was dead. Also, if you break a CFL you have to call in a HAZMAT team to have it cleaned up. And finally, when CFLs do go bad you can't dispose of them easily. By easily I mean you can't just chuck CFLs into the garbage the way you can with incandescent bulbs because CFLs contain mercury. So recycling is the only option, and some communities charge you for recycling hazardous materials like CFLs. Also, more and more communities are making it a felony (okay I exaggerate but they are making it illegal) to dispose of CFLs in the trash.

When I pointed all of this out to my coworker, he was unmoved in his devotion to CFLs. He repeated "Those are the best light bulbs!" So basically he will settle for an inferior product if it means saving a few bucks. I, on the other hand, would prefer the quality of light I have become accustom to, and am willing to pay the additional $5/year per bulb. If I do my math right that is about $130/year in my house, though I don't run all of the bulbs in my house all of the time. Still if it costs me $11/month to see properly in my own house then I believe that is a small price to pay. Not to mention it would cost at least that much to replace all of my incandescent bulbs with CFLs. And yes I know they last 10 years, compared to 1-2 years for an incandescent bulb.

And that brings me to my next point. This encounter with my close-minded coworker (isn't it ironic that it would be me he'd call close-minded because I am unwilling to switch, even though I have weighed the options and based my decision on more than money!) made me remember something that just happened to me recently.

At my house we go through about 6-8 incandescent light bulbs a year. That is about how many burn out and need replacing in an average year. Most of the bulbs in my house are 60 watt bulbs. I have found that 60 watt bulbs throw off the right amount of light for most uses in both single bulb fixtures that are at or near ground level, as well as dual bulb fixtures on the ceiling. The only exceptions to this rule are the two 40 watt bulbs used in the fixture hanging over the dining room table, and the two 100 watts bulbs in the ceiling fixture in the office (my wife insists on more light to be able to work in the office at night). So I usually buy two 4 bulb packages of 60 watt bulbs per year. Every other year I need to buy 40 watt bulbs and/or 100 watt bulbs.

We were in need of new 60 watt bulbs, so on a recent shopping trip I stopped into the bulb aisle at the local retailer to stock up. To my dismay I couldn't find the old familiar 40, 60, 75, and 100 watt bulbs. Instead they had been replaced with 34, 52, 67, and 90 watt bulbs respectively. That's right, not only is the government outlawing incandescent bulbs in a few years, but now it seems we are being forced into different wattage bulbs ahead of the illegalization of the old, trusty, incandescent bulb.

But this is where the story takes an ironic turn. You see, even though they want us to replace our 40 watt bulbs with 34s, and our 60 watt bulbs with 52s, and our 75 watt bulbs with 67s, and our 100 watt bulbs with 90s, what they don't tell you is that these bulbs will not provide the same amount of light as the higher wattage bulbs they are replacing. These "energy-saving" bulbs are misnamed and should really be called "inferior light producing" bulbs. So what is going to happen? Well, as a consumer I am going to replace my 40 watt bulbs with 52s. And my 60 watt bulbs with 67s. And my 75 watt bulbs with 90s. They've got me on the 100 watt bulbs, but still the net effect is going to be that I am going to use MORE energy, not less energy, to light my house! That is the exact opposite effect than what they were trying to accomplish.

It reminds me of low-flow toilets. It seemed like a good idea at the time to mandate low-flow toilets in all new construction. What the geniuses failed to realize is that people started flushing 2 and 3 times per usage. If a low-flow toilet used 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 2 gallons for a standard toilet, flushing twice per use caused a 1.2 gallon water usage increase per trip to bathroom! Of course they now argue that low-flow toilets are much better than they used to be, but I still find it necessary to flush more than once quite often, so I'd argue that water usage is roughly the same with these "high-efficiency" commodes compared to the older toilets.

Environmentalists just don't seem to be very bright. They'll jump on any "save the environment" bandwagon no matter how illogical it turns out to be. All I know is that now I'll have a house full of 67 watt bulbs instead of 60 watt bulbs, because in the end I still need to see.

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Must Have Albums - #9


- To Hell With The Devil - Stryper
Released: October 24, 1986
















#9 It was early 1987 before I ever even discovered this album, and then only because the song "Calling On You" started getting played during MTV's phone in request show "Dial MTV". Many videos that normally would have only been shown sporadically became MTV standards due to this show, and "Calling On You" was one of them. Little did I know I would strike 80s metal gold by picking up this album after seeing that video.

To be fair, To Hell With The Devil may not even be Stryper's best album. 1985's Soldiers Under Command has a rawer sound. 1988's In God We Trust has a more polished sound, some even called it "poppish". Both those albums have some excellent songs, and I think from beginning to end, SUC is probably the strongest. But it was THWTD that put Stryper on the map, and that is the Stryper album I would say you have to have.

THWTD has elements of both SUC and IGWT. It is a perfect marriage of the two styles found on those two releases. THWTD took a distinct direction toward becoming more mainstream, as was the course of most metal acts. Most metal acts released hard releases early in their careers, and then with subsequent releases went more commercial in an effort to garner radio and video play. Power ballads also became common in the genre after the success of Night Ranger's "Sister Christian", and Stryper followed suit with two power ballads on THWTD.

Much has been made about Stryper's Christian theme. Christian metal it was dubbed, and Stryper remains the most commercially successful of all the Christian metal bands. There are many reasons for that, I believe, but at the root of that is the quality of the music. Well-written, played, recorded, and produced, no one could ever accuse the band of lacking talent. Michael Sweet is one of the most gifted vocalists rock music has ever seen. Robert Sweet is in league with other rock drummers, like Lars Ulrich and Rod Morganstein. Oz Fox is a very underrated guitarist.

The songs are first-rate. "Calling On You" is probably the most commercially acceptable, though "Honestly" is a great power-ballad that did well for the band. "Free" did well too although it was more of a video hit than a radio hit. All of the cuts are very listenable, catchy and, well, metal.

I was immediately drawn to the prospects of Christian metal once I realized that Stryper were a Christian metal band. Having always loved guitar oriented music, and being a Christian since the age of eleven, the marriage of Christian themes and rock music struck an immediate chord with me. I had always gravitated to the more clean cut bands, like Night Ranger, anyway. I was put off by some of the themes found in metal music, and what some of the songs in the genre were about. My parents weren't fond of my like of metal to begin with, so I had to be careful what songs they overheard from many of the bands I listened to.

That wasn't an issue with Stryper. Their message was positive. They were grounded in their faith and that came through loud and clear in their music. They weren't afraid to mention "God" in their music, nor did they shy away from espousing their Christian beliefs. This was refreshing in a genre of music that sometimes seemed Satanic at worst, and immorally heathen at best.

Stryper was smart about their music however. Some of their music, though based in Christian themes, could also stand alone as secular if the listener so chose. "Calling On You" is a perfect example of this. On the surface it could be taken as a love song, as in the listener is calling on the love of their life. The Christian listener could recognize the theme found in the song, but the non-Christian could interpret it in their own way.

Much like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis with their works of fiction, Stryper masterfully used their subtlety so that their music could reach a broader audience. But they still made no doubt of their music's Christian roots to their Christian fans by including the verse from whence they draw their name on all of their albums: Isaiah 53:5. They also were notorious for throwing Stryper jacketed Bibles into the crowd at their live shows.

Musically they were sound. Their message was positive instead of immoral and negative. Their image was clean, and while they looked like musicians, they weren't quite as extreme as other bands in the genre with make-up and tattoos. For 1986's To Hell With The Devil, and 1988's In God We Trust they were able to strike metal gold and become the biggest Christian metal band ever.

Unfortunately, 1990's Against The Law didn't use the same formula and the band saw their popularity wane. They broke up shortly afterward. Michael Sweet went on to have a solid solo Christian rock career, and Stryper reformed a few years ago and put out another studio album. It was a little too modern for this listener's taste, but the chance to see them perform many of their songs from the 80s live again was a welcomed development.

All in all, To Hell With The Devil is a must have album because the music is incredible, and the message is inspirational.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Hey look, the first robin of spring!"......SPLAT!


It is always an exciting thing to see the first robin of spring. So we were excited last night on the way to midweek Bible study to see a robin off the side of the road in a field. He was happily hopping along, presumably hunting for food.

I pointed him out to my wife and daughter, "Hey look" I said as I pointed to him on our right, "the first robin of spring!" The word "spring" was just rolling off my tongue when inexplicably the robin took off in flight. He flew right in front of our car!

The jet-stream of air our car was pushing caused him to fly up towards the windshield. I thought we had missed him until my wife pointed out the feathers stuck to the metal antenna of our car. When we stopped at a light, several feathers were blown off the car, I believe he struck not only the antenna but the side-view mirror.

We were in shock. The first robin of spring and we killed it. I got a stern reprimand from my 5 year-old daughter despite repeated defense arguments about traveling at 50 mph and not being able to do anything about it. She wasn't buying it.

So if spring comes late this year you can blame me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Attack On Life

I was going to do another post today, but with the recent moves by the Obama administration against life, I've been thinking about this amazing picture. I remember seeing this almost 10 years ago for the first time, and the tears it brought to my eyes. I still well up when I see or think about it. How anyone could support a politician that is pro-abortion is beyond me, especially those that claim to be Christians. Yes, I am saying that it impossible in my eyes to be a Democrat and a Christian. If that upsets you look internally, I am sticking to my opinion.
(For those that don't know, this picture is of a 21 week-old fetus holding the hand of a surgeon that was doing a procedure.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lilliann

So here it is Sunday night. I have purposely avoided all news this weekend in order to decompress from the daily bad news. After a day of worship (we faithfully attend Sunday School, morning and evening worship every Sunday), I am now laying in bed with my daughter Lilliann. She asked to lay with me a few minutes and I said "of course!". So here we lay on a wonderful Sunday night watching Dragon Tales on Sprout. Thomas is on next, then Noddy.

Life is good..............

First Bow Buck


I said back last October that I would at a later date document in more detail my taking of a six-pointer on opening day of bow season. Well here it is March already and I still haven't done it, so I will take this opportunity to do so.

I arrived up to the hunting area at about 6am last Oct. 1st. It was still dark as we made our way to our stands. I had chosen the stand we call The Sniper Slayer. This stand had become our hottest stand and we had seen more deer while in that stand the previous season than the rest of the stands combined. So I settled in on this cool fall Michigan morning. It was about 40 degrees and was only going up to about 50 for a high.

Surprisingly we didn't see many deer. I had one come through about 60 yards away that I could barely see through the brush. It was headed in the direction of Don's stand, but he never saw it. That was the only action I had that morning. Don got blanked. We headed in about noon, and took a break.

We decided to head back out about 2pm. Since it was October first, that meant we'd have about 5 hours of hunting before dark. Unfortunately, much like that morning there was little to no action. We were beginning to wonder if the no baiting rule the DNR had enacted just a couple of weeks before the season was taking a toll on the deer traffic we were used to.

In fact, the only action I had was when a hawk tried to land on the platform of my hunting stand! He flew right into my left leg. Not knowing what happened he then flew to a branch about 10 feet in front of me and turned to see what he had encountered. When I reached for my cellphone to tell Don what just happened, the hawk took off like a shot bullet, bouncing off branches as it went. You know your camo pattern is effective when a hawk can't even see you.

About 5:15pm a saw a cat headed my way. This was a stray that Don and his family had taken in, and it had a bit of a wild streak. Since there was nothing going on I called Don and joked about shooting the cat. He wasn't as amused with my jokes as I was, so we hung up. No sooner had I put the phone away then I saw a deer in almost the exact same spot as I had seen the one that morning. 60 yards away, same trail headed towards Don's stand. Except this time when it got just a little to the west of me (the stand I am in is facing east), it turned toward me.

The freezer was empty as we had gone through all of the venison from the small doe I had taken the previous season. So I got ready in case this doe gave me a shot. When she got about 45 yards away, she stopped. Took several looks at something behind me, and slowly turned and went back to the other trail. I thought she had busted me, though she hadn't seen me.

She was no sooner out of my vision when I heard directly under me something crunching in the leaves. It was a small doe walking straight out from under me. Behind her was a big doe! And behind her a button buck. I slowly stood up, put my release on my string loop. When the big doe was 25 yards away she stopped. I drew back, hoping she'd present me with a shot. But then she continued on the same path, straight out away from me. No shot, so I let down.

I was just processing what had happened, how without bait there was no reason for them to stop, when all of the sudden I heard something else coming from behind me. I turned my head just in time to see another deer heading down the hill behind me, and it was a buck! I could only see 4 points, but since I had never taken a buck with my bow I wasn't going to pass him up if he gave me a shot.

Unfortunately for him he was a little more to my right, headed parallel to the path the other deer had taken. This meant I would have a shot. As I watched him come down the hill he threw his head back and grunted once at the deer that had just passed. I picked out a shooting lane, and drew. I waited for him to enter the shooting lane, and then for his shoulder to clear the shooting pin on my sight. As soon as it did I let fly with the arrow. I saw the arrow go in behind his shoulder, and the fletched end sticking out. I saw him kick once and crash off on in the same direction he as headed. Then I thought I heard him go down and thrash around on the other side of the swamp from where I was hunting.

I called Don, he told me to sit tight. If it wasn't a perfect shot we didn't want to push him and cause him to run again. About 15 minutes later it start to rain lightly and I was afraid to lose the blood trail in the rain, so I called Don. He headed over and arrived at my stand about 10 minutes later. I got down and showed him where the buck had been when I shot it. We found blood immediately. And lots of it. As we followed the trail, more blood. More blood than Don had ever seen (and he has hunted for years).

I found two pieces of my arrow as we followed the trail. The broad head had come out the far side of the buck right through its far shoulder, and hadn't passed through because the shoulder is such a tough joint. My arrow had been sticking out both sides of him and he had broken each end of the arrow off on trees.

It turns out he only went about 25 yards after I shot him. The broad head did its job, and the shot placement was excellent. The blades sliced through the top of his heart, he lived only about 2 minutes after I shot him. Turns out he was a 6 pointer, not a 4 like I had thought when I shot him. Don and I dragged him out, I field dressed him, and there I had my first bow buck!

It was a good season as I added a big doe with my bow on Nov. 14th, then two more smaller does on Nov. 16th, both of the latter with shotgun. So the freezer is stocked with venison and the family has been enjoying the meat in all sorts of dishes ever since.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

10 Must Have Albums - #10

- Eat 'Em And Smile - David Lee Roth
Released: July 7, 1986
















#10 This album will always be memorable to me because the video for the first single, "Yankee Rose", was released so much earlier than the album. Most of us that were fans of David's were already intimately familiar with that song by time the album was released. I have always thought of this album as the Van Halen album after 1984. To me this sounded more like Van Halen than 5150, the actual Van Halen release from the same year. 5150 on the other hand was more of another Sammy Hagar solo album.

The fact that Van Halen had split the year before was still fresh in everyone's minds in 1986. When the video for "Yankee Rose" was released most of the people I knew drew to David's side in the split. Until then most people had been kind of lost as to who to blame for the break-up, but almost no one that considered themselves a Van Halen fan was over it. I don't remember exactly when Yankee Rose was released as a single, but I know it seemed like months between its release and the album's release. In hindsight one has to wonder if Roth released the song so earlier to one up Van Halen's release of 5150, and their first single from that album "Why Can't This Be Love" in March of 1986.

Most of us seized on "Yankee Rose" as a typical Van Halen song, while "Why Can't This Be Love" struck most of us as more of a solo Hagar song. Still, both albums were commercially successful. But it was Eat 'Em And Smile that stood out to me. There were other albums released that year that I listened to (some make this list!), but Roth's was defining because of the drama that was Van Halen in 1985 and 1986.

It wasn't until recently that I found out that "Yankee Rose" was written about the Statue of Liberty. Looking back it was so obvious with all of the references to Americana in that song. 1986 was also the year on July 4th of the big unveiling of the renovated Statue of Liberty, and Roth's vocals make several references to that as well. Even the release of the album on July 7th, which was the Monday after the 4th of July holiday weekend, seems to pay homage to the SOL, and all things American.

To put this album in context, the summer of 1986 was the summer before my senior year in high school. Ronald Reagan was in his second term as president. America had reclaimed its place in the 80s as the premier power in the world after the awful, scandalous 70s, and the cultural changes of the 60s. The 80s were about pride, fun, enjoying life, and patriotism. Eat 'Em And Smile was definitive in these themes, and as such really resonated with someone like myself.

"Yankee Rose" was only the beginning of that though, as the other singles ("That's Life", "Tobacco Road", "Goin Crazy") were also very upbeat fun-loving songs. Roth had always brought a splash of variety to Van Halen, and that was evident in this solo effort as well. Songs like "That's Life" and "I'm Easy" hearkened back to Van Halen songs like "Happy Trails" or "Ice Cream Man", and showed that Roth was not afraid to mix it up. Ironically, nothing as adventurous would ever be produced by Van Halen after Roth's departure.

David Lee Roth has always been known as the ultimate frontman. When most rock fans think of a frontman, Roth comes to mind. (I've always wondered if his ability to "steal the show" wasn't want got him kicked out of Van Halen.) His showmanship never seemed to be put away whether live in concert, in music videos, or even being interviewed. Roth just had the ability to shine in all situations, and that was off-putting for some people. I always admired it though, and would list Roth as the all time greatest frontman in rock history.

The rest of Roth's band on Eat 'Em And Smile were accomplished musicians. Comprised of Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Greg Bissonette on drums. Vai has always been considered a world class guitarist and he owes most of his fame today to the fact that he played with Roth, following in the footsteps of Edward Van Halen. Vai would go on after his stint with Roth to a successful solo career. Sheehan would find commercial success with the band Mr. Big. Bissonette has built a career on being a big name session drummer, playing on several successful projects.

It was Vai though that helped propel Eat 'Em And Smile. What Van Halen failed to realize is that the vocals are what identify a band's sound more than anything else. While it could be successfully argued that Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai's guitar style are vastly different, in the end to the casual listener guitar is guitar. But vocal sounds are so unique that Roth's solo work sounded more like Van Halen than Van Halen did with Sammy Hagar's vocals. This caused Van Halen fans to split into two camps: those that identified more closely with Roth's vocals (the largest of the two camps) and those that were Eddie Van Halen loyalists. The latter remains rabid in their defense of Van Halen's merry-go-round of vocalists in the years since the split with Roth, while those that sided with Roth have mellowed in that stance over the years.

Still, Eat 'Em and Smile remains as a timeless classic that defined an era of Van Halen. Roth unfortunately could never recapture the magic on subsequent releases, but that doesn't diminish the fact that he struck gold with this release. From the forming of his band, to the writing, recording, and producing of the music, to the music videos and concert tour, Roth was hitting on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Van Halen pulled out of making music videos in an effort to let the music stand on its own. In the end Van Halen's huge popularity was able withstand the mistakes of the Van Halen brothers, while Roth was still able to carve out his own following.

The singles from EEAS were all catchy and fun, but the entire album was a bright spot. "Shy Boy" was one of the most musically complex songs on the release, and a favorite to fans that have more depth than just listening to the hits. "Elephant Gun", "Big Trouble", and "Bump And Grind" are also excellent cuts that keep the listener engaged. Roth's signature has always been to mix it up though, and "Ladies' Nite In Buffalo?" has that quality. While not as musically adventurous as the lounge songs "I'm Easy" and "That's Life", "Ladies' Nite In Buffalo?" is stylistically stretching, but pulled off perfectlyl. Most fans wrote it off as filler on first listen, but it becomes a bright spot with additional listens.

Whether you are a Roth fan, Van Halen fan, or both, Eat 'Em and Smile is a must have. It still takes me back to 1986 to pull that album out and listen to it. It's running time of 30 minutes and 39 seconds was also indicative of the time-period, because albums have grown in length since the mid-80s. But EEAS is short, enjoyable, and very listenable. In 1986 it was all about having fun, and EEAS perfectly captures that.

Friday, March 06, 2009

10 Must Have Albums - Honorable Mention

As I compiled the list, I came up with 15 albums, too many for a top 10 obviously. So here are the honorable mentions, the 5 must haves that didn't make it into the top 10. I don't go into as much depth on these as I will on the top 10, but these need to be shared:

- Open Up and Say... Ahh! - Poison
Released May 21, 1988

This album's release was at the start of the summer of 1988, which was a big summer for this list. My friends and I seized on this album from the minute we heard the first single "Nothin But A Good Time". Of course, the biggest hit from this album was "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", a song that resonated with a few of us that summer due to lost loves. This album was in heavy rotation as my buddies and I drove around that summer and did summertime stuff. It was a defining album for that moment in my life. I had been a fan of the band since their first album, but this album established them as legitimate musicians as opposed to "guys that looked like girls that played some catchy songs."

- Slave To The Grind - Skid Row
Released June 11, 1991

From the first time I heard Sebastian Bach sing "Youth Gone Wild" off of Skid's first self-titled album, I was hooked by this band. But it wasn't until they released this album that they blew me away. This album literally blew me away. I had heard the single "Monkey Business" prior to the release of this album, and the song was hard driving like nothing off their first album. So when I picked this up the day it was released, and each tune was just as hard and heavy as the previous, I was floored. I remember now the band saying they set out to make a harder record, something that is opposite of most bands that tended to mellow with each release. Skids managed to do just that, and it makes this album a must-have.

- Operation: Mindcrime - Queensryche
Released May 3, 1988

Another "summer of 88" favorite, this album is just solid from beginning to end. I had never listened to a "concept" album before, and it never really interested me. But as I listened to this album, and each song was so solidly written, recorded and produced, I got drawn into the storyline. As I have aged the themes of that storyline have lost their luster, but as an 18 year-old when it came out this was right in my wheelhouse. I still listen to this album today and enjoy it, and I remember seeing Queensryche play it live in its entirety in the early 90s.

- Trixter - Trixter
Released May 29, 1990

There are some bands that are underrated and never get their due. Trixter is one such band. This album hit at the right time: I had just turned 20 and their music just registered with me. "Only Young Once" in particular, since I felt as if I was transitioning from one phase of life (teens) to another (early adulthood). I defy anyone to listen to this album more than once and not get drawn into the catchiness of these songs. "One In A Million" will always be one of my all time favorite songs. But all of these are enjoyable, and though I had this on cassette originally, I wouldn't have skipped a single track even if I had originally owned this on CD. Their second and last studio recording, "Hear!", got lost in the grunge movement's music industry take-over, but this album is timeless.

- Pride - White Lion
Released June 21, 1987

How this isn't in my top 10 I have no idea. From the fall of 1987 through the spring of 1988 I listened to this album almost exclusively. In fact, a buddy of mine banned this from his car in the spring of 88 because all of them were sick of the album. (They also hated that as every song came on I would announce: "OH! This is my favorite song!") This band is also underrated, and were actually more popular for their next album "Big Game", which wasn't as good in my opinion. Their first album "Fight To Survive" was outstanding, though hard to find. "Pride" though is the album that is a must have. Every song (all my favorites!) is outstanding. And the range of songwriting is better than a lot of bands in the genre. From the acoustic and touching "When The Children Cry", to the poppish "Wait", and to less known cuts like "Don't Give Up" and "Lady Of The Valley", the songs have variety and are all catchy.

Overall, any guitar-oriented rock fans should have these 5 albums in their collection. If you were a child of the 80s, or early 90s, and enjoyed this genre, you should own these albums. All are enjoyable, underrated, and timeless.

10 Must Have Albums, And Why

I have decided to start a new series. These top 10, top 100 lists are flying all over the interent so I decided to throw my hat into the ring. I am going to compile my list of 10 must-have albums, and then count them down. Part of the reason for this is that there is an entire genre of music that was vital in the coming of age of many us, but that gets widely ignored by the music industry. So this will be my small way of doing my part for some of the albums that defined who I was back in the day.

#10 to follow shortly.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Congratulations Spartans

Just a quick entry to congratulate Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans on their winning the outright Big Ten Men's Basketball Championship. They have been close almost every year and just never could seem to get over the hump. This year they did it! And with a game at home left with Purdue they have a chance to run away with the conference.

So, great job guys! Way to go.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Say It Ain't So John Cusack

During this last election John Cusack became the latest in a long line of my favorite actors to disappoint me with their personal politics. While I was disappointed I wasn't outraged because I have sort of come to expect this from Hollywood's elite.

Hollywood actors' liberal personal politics make no sense to me. It has become a huge bandwagon and those in Hollywood can't help themselves but to jump on. It is rooted some where in their guilt. Whether it is white-guilt, money-guilt, fame-guilt, or just plain old guilt-guilt, the Hollywood set just seem powerless to the draw of modern American liberalism.

So John Cusack decides to speak out regarding his far-left political leanings while promoting a movie. With Cusack jetting across the country waxing political in support of Obama I decided to not see the film, whatever film he was promoting.

This is why Cusack and other actors should just keep their mouths shut regarding politics, because in the end it hurts their product's appeal. When George Clooney made a joke about Charleton Heston's diagnosis of Alzheimer's I vowed right then to never watch another Clooney movie. When Spike Lee said Heston should be shot I decided to never support another Lee joint again. All this hate because Heston believed in the 2nd amendment and was President of the NRA.

By way of comparison, look how conservative actors (all 3 of them) stay quiet on the subject of politics. True they kind of have to in order to not be ostracized by the extreme liberal industry they work for, but it is refreshing to see. I don't watch films because of the politics of someone that made the movie, I watch them because I enjoy films. I don't like actors to spout off politically even when I agree with the actor's views. Plus they do not run the risk of alienating those that disagree with them.

Furthermore they come across as hypocritical. When Matt Damon questioned Sarah Palin's intelligence because she may believe in the Bibilical account of creation I had to laugh. Matt Damon? The college drop-out? Questioning the intelligence of a self-made woman that has elevated her self to running the largest state in the nation? Matt must think that because he once played a genius on screen (Good Will Hunting) that he really is a genius.

I know Hollywood types feel guilty for their station in life, but they jeopardize that station by making their personal politics known. I have my own list of blacklisted actors, I refuse to pay for, rent, watch, or in any way support any film or TV show they are a part of. When Matt Damon and Ben Affleck can shut their stupid mouths and go on with their careers of pretending to be other people, maybe they can come back off that list.

George Clooney and Spike Lee have no hope of that ever happening.