Friday, March 28, 2008

U.S. Immigration Dept: "Sorry Mr. Alva, we'll get this fixed right away..."

Well, well... After reading my brilliant and scathing post regarding the need to expedite citizenship for immigrants serving in our military, the INS fast tracked the Marine featured in the article, Cpl. Mario Ramos-Villalta.

“Man, after Tony oops! I’m sorry, please don’t hurt me… I mean, when Mr. Alva made this case wildly known on his blog Intravenus De Milo I knew we’d have to act quickly to rectify this blatant instance of injustice before he inflicted serious ass kickery on the whole of our department”, Melvin G. Essfive whimpered from the seat of his shitty cubicle in random government build somewhere in Washington DC.

"I am an American," Cpl. Ramos-Villalta said with a smile, moments after his paperwork cleared. "It means a lot to me after so many years and two combat deployments, I finally get it, being an American. We are happy about it." He added, "It's all thanks to Intravenus De Milo (and CNN) -- my news coming out, my story. That helped me out a lot," he said, referring to a story about his plight run March 20 on the famed blog site.

In all seriousness, I am extremely proud to have this guy COMPLETELY on our side and hope they make it right for all the others waiting on citizenship. Nobody deserves it more.

All cats should look like this...

For C-Cup and Mathdude...

Alright, I’ll get this over with at great risk of dragging the upstanding and esteemed world of blogging into the MySpace/Facebook gutter.

8 Things I’m Passionate About (in order)

College Football
Hating new music

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die (in no order)

Take my family to Normandy France
Pay off my house
Record a song that I am not embarrassed to play for other people
Be able to eat as much NY pizza as I want and not get fat(ter)
Shoot a round under 90
Play guitar marginally well
See my kid graduate from West Point (okay, any college will be fine)
Live in Garrison NY

8 Things I Often Say (as I’m told)

“I’m tellin’ ya…”
“Katie, finish your dinner!”
“Yoko Ono/ Björk: two astronomical sized swirling vortex’s of vapid suckiness, or just a couple of mildly annoying mop squeezers? Discuss…”

8 Books I Read Recently

In Cold Blood
CREEM: America's Only Rock 'N' Roll Magazine Retrospective
The Alphabet Of Manliness
Behind the Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits
Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader
Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon
Conversations with Tom Petty

8 Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over*

Tumblin’ Dice – Rolling Stones
I Got The Blues – Rolling Stones
Small Town Spree – Peter Case
Tin Pan Alley – Stevie Ray Vaughn
Castle’s Made of Sand – Jimi Hendrix
Us & Them – Pink Floyd
Something Big – Tom Petty
S.A.T.O. – Ozzy Osbourne (the original recording, not the shitty one that Sharon had Bob Daisly and Lee Kerslake’s tracks replaced with by other dudes)

*There are many more, but these off the top of my head...

8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends

Our shared history
Our shared & diverse love of music
Our shared love of sports
Their sense of humor
Their tolerance
Their talent
Their loyalty

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

IDM is two years old!!!

Yep, not only do I turn forty-four years old today, but two short years ago I decided to enlighten the world with my rants and clever musings. If you look at my archives list you'll notice a post from July 2004, but that would be Hillary/Obamaish since, while clever and well written as most of my stuff usually is, it was a blogging false start. This weekend, my brother Mathdude is coming down and with my wife and friends in tow will be heading to the Mike Doughty show at the Variety Playhouse. It will be DaKine!

I have no idea why I decided to start blogging on my birthday but am glad I made the leap. My youngest sister and frequent commentor Coolmomma called last night to say she had a similar false start herself yesterday. I told her to throw all caution to the wind and let it fly. It's quite a liberating experience really.

Anyway, thanks for tuning in and keep those cards and letters coming.
No se apoye contra la puerta!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Gaunlet Circa 1978...


In reading the Bruce Logan interview, I was in awe of the fact that Bruce failed to even recognize any of the Dogtown Boys. But the most unbelievable thing was Bruce's ignorance to the fact that Dogtown skaters are the best all-around skaters, and definitely the most radical and heaviest in the world. It's been a week since we read it, but we haven't stopped laughing in our mental preparation to retaliation to this unprovoked understatement. Alva, Biniak, and Adams aren't the only rad skaters in town. In fact, if this magazine were to print an article on all the heavy skaters in D-Town, they wouldn't have any room for the advertisements unless they doubled its size. not only is down south equipment fonk, junk, and bonk, and all other words ending on ooonck, but they can't even ride it. In Dogtown, we ride the radically inspired homegrown Dogtown skate designed by myself and Wes Humpston. It is the strongest, lightest, and most common skate on the coping. It also doesn't cramp our style. Could that be the answer? In closing, I'd like to say to all down-souther's, put your money where your big mouths are in a pool and bowl-riding contest for money. Pools and bowls are real skatin', and will tell more answers than a freestyle trick goon-test.

Dogtown's #1!!!

Jim "Reddogg" Muir
Santa Monica, California
-1978 Skateboarder Magazine Letter To The Editor-

Friday, March 21, 2008

Taking a bite of the apple...

It’s always cool to share a kinship with an artist and it’s easier to dive deep into their music when you know a bit about their background and history. Two years ago, Fred Wilson sent over a track called ‘Grey Ghost’ and asked whether it might be a reference to a housing area at West Point, New York where we all grew up. As it turned out, it did indeed and the reason was that the author of that song, Mike Doughty, also happened to live there for a while. My sister filled in the rest; she had met him at an elementary school reunion, mentioned that there was this guy that was in this band called Soul Coughing, and had asked if I’d ever heard of them. I had, but wasn’t really a fan.

I picked up a copy of Mike’s ‘Haughty Melodic’ LP as a result fully expecting to discover that I’d already heard the best song on the album and it would then forever afterwards take up space in the CD rack. What I discovered instead was a fantastic collection of well crafted and catchy tunes complimented by witty, insightful, and honest lyrical prose. The production (by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson who reprises the roll on the new album) was so good that I didn’t even notice it. It’s been a favorite in our house ever since (my fav “White Lexus” and “Tremendous Brunettes”).

Mike’s latest, ‘Golden Delicious’ simply picks up from there. What a relief… ‘Haughty Melodic’ was so good front to back that it’s tough not to brace for the next one to be something less. The best thing about Mike, his band, and his records (the last two at least) is his honesty. This record like the last is free from excessive overdubs and production tricks which leaves the largely organic instruments to sound the way they’re supposed to. There is intentional space left between all components that’s really quite refreshing, evocative of say, Peter Case’s first two solo works compared to his last five records. Mike knows who is: an Army brat who grew up neither upper, middle, or lower class, but in the strange in-between worlds of a career military family moving every three years to exotic and not so exotic places. Our friendships seemingly fleeting to others, yet in actuality strong and enduring due to the common bond created by a nomadic youth. It forces you to develop a jaded sense of humor to deal with all the tearful departures. It makes us a fearless bunch to a large degree.

All this shows up on Mike’s record. When he’s lost for words, he simply substitutes jibber and it works, because why make shit it up and force it. I love the diversity of the grooves too. It’s tough to pigeon hole his style. He can craft a pop sing along as good as any of the masters past and present (“27 Jennifer’s” will surely show up on the charts), but he can make you dance too (“I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing” and “Put it Down”). He’ll put it all out there as he does with the indulgent mash up “More Bacon Than The Pan Can Handle” and then go dark and introspective on the brilliant “I Got the Drop on You” and trippy rainy day sounding “Wednesday”. Many songwriters will write songs that get discarded or recorded by others if they don’t fit into their own record label defined “sound” or “image”. Mike simply tosses them on table and says “here you are, I don’t care, and neither should you”. He likes what he likes and I like that. It reminds me of a friend of mine whom I admire a lot.

And what about ‘Fort Hood’, Mike’s mid tempo ode to our soldiers in harms way? He addressed the song on his blog after hearing that it’s gone viral amongst the troops…

“The first verse is about guilt. That I can go about my daily life without thinking of the violence and the fear in Iraq, and the sacrifice people are making over there.

The first part of the second verse is about frustration with political pissing matches, instead of unity among our elected representatives to serve these guys. The second half is about how the war haunts me; how I see dudes in uniform in airports and wonder what's going on in their heads, what they've witnessed."

Some may call it a protest song and move on, but given our common up bringing I’d say it’s a call out to everyone to not forget there is a war going on, and regardless of what one might think about it justifications our troops deserve our best.

It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve enjoyed a album of new music from the first track to the last so quickly, one that you never hit the skip button on (well, since ‘Haughty Melodic’ that is). It reminds me of more furtile times in the music biz that are long gone. It’s more than a facination with the fact that someone from my hometown has made good in the music biz. No, I’m quite sure it’s the fact that Golden Delicious is great record even if Mike had been the son of a bear trapper and grew up in Saskatchewan Canada.

For a sample, click the player in the margin and as always let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The curse of bureaucracy...

I fully understand the need for certain bureaucracy. It’s essential to operating a lawful society despite it's seeming uselessness and the often headache inducing frustrations it inspires whether it’s responding to a manufacturer's multi-million dollar Request For Proposal, or simply applying for a drivers license.

I am a professional bureaucrat by trade (an awesome one at that!) and am more than a little familiar with Six Sigma, TQM, and other quality related programs, but for the life of me I cannot understand why this process has to take so long. If ever there was a group more worthy to cut to the head of the line it is the immigrant who lawfully comes to this country, enlists in our armed services, and serves in combat. Considering the scrutiny and level of paperwork required to join the armed services in this day and age, I can't believe that it takes more than a couple of months to clear a soldier for citizenship especially one who has followed our already onerous immigration process to the satisfaction of INS let alone the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

My admiration for this special group of soldier is beyond words and we absolutely owe them an expedited path to citizenship. Lance Cpl. Mario Ramos-Villalta has served two tours in Iraq, was wounded, received a Purple Heart, and is heading over to Afghanistan for a third combat tour. This guy and all the others in the same predicament deserve our absolute best. For christ sakes let’s fix this and avoid anymore posthumous citizenship grants.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In the spirit of the day...

(click the player in the right margin to hear it)

Lough Erne's Shore
by Andy Irvine & Paul Brady

One morning as I went a-fowling
Bright Phoebus adorning the plain
It was down by the shores of Lough Erne
I met with a beautiful dame

Her voice was so sweet and so pleasing
These beautiful notes she did sing
The innocent fowl of the forest
Their loving to her they did bring

It being the first time I met her
My heart it did leap with surprise
I thought that she could be nor mortal
But an angel that fell from the skies

Her hair it hung down in gold tresses
Her skin was as white as the snow
Her cheeks were as red as the roses
That bloom along Lough Erne's shore

When I heard that my love was eloping
These words unto her I did say
Oh, take me to your habitation
For cupid has led me astray

All my life I will keep the commandments
They say that it is the best plan
Young maidens who yield to men's pleasures
The scriptures do say they are wrong

Oh, Mary don't accuse me of weakness
All treachery I do disown
I will make you a lady of honor
If with me this night you'll come home

Had I all the wealth of great Alladin
His gold and his jewels what's more
I would part with them all for to win you
And live along Lough Erne's shore

Holy shit this is funny...

If anybody has ever had to present a proposal in front of engineers, this is a spot on example of a typical experience...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cats in the cradle...

UPDATE: She got this Hanna Montana outfit as a gift and wore it this morning to school along with the additude.

Today is my little girls sixth birthday. What can a proud papa say that hasn't been said before. Yes, I mourn the loss of our once little squirmy butter bean, who has now been replaced by someone who pesters me nightly to see if the History Channel has posted another episode of "The Universe" series on our cable companies On-Demand menu. The little girl who would drag me back to the staircase to play with all her dolls which she had meticulously laid out in anticipation of my arrival home from work. She's a big girl now. She reads far ahead of her class and it's now difficult for her mother and I to conduct "secret" conversations around her anymore since she is so smart and picks up everything.

My wife said the phone rang a few weeks ago and Katie happened to answer it. She stood for a minute with the phone in her ear and then starting reciting the characteristics of a black hole. "Well, at the end of a stars life, gravity collapses it into a hole and the gravity is so strong that nothing can escape its pull not even light etc...". She hung up the phone and when her mother asked her what that was all about she said, "Uncle Chuck wanted me to tell Caroline what a black hole was, she's studying them in high school". I stand in awe of her. All credit is due my wife who is hands down the greatest mom in the world.

Happy 6th birthday Katie. My love for you is beyond the size of the universe itself.

Taking the piss...

Thanks to Jackson's bro for this...

I strongly support drilling Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, along with pressing on with alternative energy to get ourselves out of business with ALL the ME oil nations as quickly as possible, but the other point that this guy makes so brilliantly is EXACTLY how incredibly stupid Europe has become when it comes to appeasement and their slavery to political correctness. He refrains from counting us Americans amongst these fools, but I won't. We're just as bad at recognizing a global threat like this.

Wake up people...

Mrs. Alva can never complain about my library visits again...

They must have had some great reading material in there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New family member...

After finally getting past an overwelming amount of scrutiny by the animal rescue league, The Alva's were informed that we would be getting a home visit Saturday with "Molly", the little Doxie Mrs. Alva's been pining for the last several weeks. She checked the website Friday to see what was going on after a few weeks of no news, and when she pulled up Molly's picture it read, "Adoption Pending". She immediately picked up the phone to give the rescue folks a piece of her mind for adopting out "her" dog, when the voice on the other line informed her that it was us who were getting this dog. The visit went well and she is now ours to keep.

So far so good. The little thing got wimpery when my wife took Katie to school this morning, but otherwise it's as if she has always been with us. Sunday we spent working in the yard, and Molly helped by laying like a side of beef on the warm river rock gravel and sleeping.

Amazingly, our two cats could really care less about sharing the house with this wienner dog. They'll hiss at her occasionally, but I think they were more concerned about having to share their food ration with her and once they knew that it wasn't going to be the case they said, "no big deal".

So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Molly...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tony gets his God on...

So Tuesday night I get a last minute call from my main man Thunder Thumbs who’s an accomplished bass player, father of two, and long time friend. He’s got an extra seat to Jesus Christ Superstar at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center since his wife had to bail for another commitment. Now, it’s worth noting that I stay as far away from Cobb County as I possibly can. After all, this is the very Georgia County where the school board actually voted to put stickers in high school science text books claiming that there are viable alternative theories to evolution. “JCS, just so happens to be the only musical production that I like” I told him, “I’m in.” Good thing I went.

I’d actually previously seen a stage production of JCS back in 2002 when the always thoughtful and lovely Mrs. Alva surprised me with tickets for my birthday. That production had Carl Anderson reprising his role of Judas Iscariot and Sebastian Bach was to play the role of the big man himself. Turned out that the former Skid Row front man pitched a drunken fuss and got himself booted from the show in Cleveland prior to the troupe’s arrival at the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta. Didn’t matter, the understudy was fantastic and Carl was unbelievable. It was a great production with a huge cast. Not being a big theatre guy, I assumed that Tuesday nights show would be somewhat similar in grandeur since Ted Neely, who played the role of Jesus in the 1973 Norman Jewison film would be starring. On top of that, I discovered that Living Color front man Cory Glover was to play the role of Judas.

While there were very minor signs of opening night bugs, it was truly a great performance. The production was drastically scaled back in comparison to the 2002 show I saw, but as I said, I’m not really a fan of the theatre anyway. I really care only about the music and the music in fact rocked! Thunder Thumbs played the Doubting Thomas (heh) during our pre-show beers in the lobby, stating emphatically that the nearly 65 year-old Neely would be unable to crank out those wailing screams as he did in the film over three decades ago (think “Get out!” during the money changers in the temple scene). How wrong he was about that. The dude VERY MUCH still has the pipes. Glover kicked major ass as Judas and I have to admit that I felt a little uncomfortable sitting in a Cobb County Georgia theatre while a black man hung from a noose during Judas’s epic suicide scene. I also thought that the Rev. Nelson redneck army might be in full force since the play’s script focuses on a human Jesus and takes a somewhat sympathetic view of Judas’s plight, but it didn’t happen much to my relief.

Director Dallett Norris’s took very few liberties with the script, but his King Herod scene (“You are the Christ, yes the great Jesus Christ, prove to me that you’re no fool, walk across my swimming pool…”) was entertaining and genuinely funny. The music was masterfully performed by six guys that made it sound like triple that number (I’m always amazed at how these touring Broadway bands do that). The score was true to the original film/sound track which I was grateful for since it’s that fucking good to begin with.

All in all, it was more of a Jesus Christ Superstar concert vs. a musical play, but like I said before, that’s fine with me. Hearing Ted Neely and Cory Glover rip through all those great tunes is plenty enough rocking for me. If the show passes through your town don’t miss it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Last Alva sister off the market...

Much to the dismay of single men all over the Piedmont Region of Georgia and beyond, my sister Lisa was proposed to Sunday evening by her main man Mr. Merv Sweeting. The ring was discovered by my sister inside the butter dish during dinner, and as she opened it, Merv got down on one knee and popped the question. This would have been a hell of a lot more romantic if he wasn't sitting at my parents dinner table with a bunch of other family gazing at the whole spectacle. No matter. They called Mrs. Alva and I who were away at Mrs. Alva's family reunion in Gulf Port MS and we were delighted to hear the news. She of course replied "yes", and a November wedding is planned.

It is good to have another man in the mix down here and I can only extend my best wishes to the happy couple.