Monday, November 17, 2008

Looks like we're gonna get that Dr. Pepper after all.

I didn't believe it would happen. I was for sure it was a marketing stunt tied to a product that would never, ever see the light of day. But now we're six days away from the release of Guns N Roses' fifth original studio album, Chinese Democracy, and all I can say is "holy crap." That and "man, that Dr. Pepper is gonna taste so sweet."

For those of you who don't know, back in March soft drink company Dr. Pepper made an announcement to that it would give a free can of its product to everyone in America (except, and this is for serious, ex-guitarists Slash and Buckethead) if Chinese Democracy actually managed to come out at any point in 2008. For a record that's been in the works for 14 years, it seemed like Dr. Pepper was making a pretty safe bet, writing a check it would never have to cash.

(if you want to read the original news release, it's here).

I didn't even flinch when I found out in August that a track from this supposed new album was going to be on Rock Band 2. After all, one song done does not an album make, and Axl had already released a new song for the End of Days soundtrack in 1999.

But then a few weeks ago something fairly jarring happened... was promoting that Chinese Democracy had an honest-to-God release date of November 23, 2008. And then about a week later iTunes was reporting the same thing, and it began to pre-sell digital copies of the album with a full track list up and the title track available for instant download. And all of a sudden it looked like my cynicism was misplaced... 2008 would usher in Chinese Democracy, after all.

And then my cynicism turned elsewhere, to that article on that my friend Vince had pointed me to more than half a year ago. And I thought, "there's no way Dr. Pepper is going to make good on this. What are the odds?"

Well, I'd say they're pretty good. Check this out.

In short: on November 23, anyone who wants to can go to the Dr. Pepper website, enter some personal information, and get a coupon for a free can of Dr. P. The coupon will arrive in 4-6 weeks and will expire in February 2009.

So this is pretty good news, I'd say. New GNR by the end of the week (that's this Sunday!), and a free soft drink in the next couple of months. Not bad atall. And incase you're wondering... I like the new Guns song in Rock Band 2. It is a little industrial-sounding, sure, but it's got a really catchy chorus and some sweet guitar action at the end. But don't take my word for it...

(it should be noted that I don't play this song in the game a lot, at least not on guitar, because that riff is hard, man!)

So yes, I am eagerly awaiting this album. I love GNR's first four studio efforts and while I'm not so deluded as to think this will live up to their best work, I'm certainly not going to count it out before I've heard the thing.

Couple that with new releases from The Killers and Bang Camaro later the same week and this is a really exciting week in music for me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My roommate made this at Baker's Square tonight

and it was so awesome that I felt it was necessary to share.

Here's his Halloween costume, in possibly the best picture to ever be on Facebook:

(he's Rorshach, not, as some have suggested, "the skinny white kid in the hoody," which of course is still a super-popular costume)

And for good measure, here's another picture from my phone, taken at the Halloween party I went to after my friend Laura thought it would be hilarious to put scotch tape around my friend Dwight's face. And of course it was:

If you're having a bad day, just stare long and hard at these bad boys.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Man, I am SO glad Obama won the presidency.

Now I won't feel silly for wearing this shirt for at least four more years.


... Actually, you know what... I was gonna leave this post as a joke but fuck it. I'm gonna be serious for a second.

The shirt above, while awesome, is also incredibly apt. Artist Alex Ross knew exactly what he was doing when he cast Barack Obama in a (the?) classic Superman pose. See, to people like me and Alex Ross Superman stands for one thing above all else--hope (don't believe me? Read his Kingdom Come). And following Obama's campaign and watching his amazing acceptance speech just now, it is incredibly clear that above all else this is what Barack Obama stands for too--hope that we can elevate ourselves out of our economic and social drudgery and move ourselves ever closer to the perfect America we all feel we can be. There is one key difference between Superman and Obama, of course--while Superman can only inspire change, Obama can actually affect it as well. He kid about it in his campaign but I kind of feel like it's true--it seems that we have a version of Kal-El as our president for at least the next four years.

On an interesting related note, at the end of the Obama rally in Chicago's Grant Park, after the President-Elect and his VP's families came out to greet the crowd, I heard a familiar song coming over the TV through the park's PA system. It was "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen, off The Boss' post-9/11 album of the same name. If you read my blog regularly or know me, you'll know that Springsteen is one of my favorite musical artists. I never really made the connection before but, just like Superman and just like Barack Obama, what Springsteen seems to care about most is hope. Sure many of his songs are full of tragic characters and situations, but anyone really familiar with his body of work will know that almost every one of his songs is about getting out, getting away from that tragedy... rising above it, if you will. My very politically active friend Craig (who actually worked on Obama's state senate campaign at the beginning of his career) told me that his favorite Springsteen lines are from the song "Badlands" (my favorite Bruce song, FYI) and it's this bridge:

For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside
That it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive
I wanna find one face that ain't lookin' through me
I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these badlands

I think what we have done tonight, America, is elect the man who is going to do that (metaphorical) spitting. We'll come on up for the rising, we'll save the world from threats both at home and abroad. We've elected the spirits of Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen of Long Branch, New Jersey, and of Clark Kent of Krypton and Smallville, Kansas. We've elected Barack Obama, and at least for one night the nation's got an injection of hope that it so desperately needs. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Me am voting for John McCain!

Him am what best for our country!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting is important.

This much should be obvious, yet to many people it is not. A quick check of statistics online shows that turnout for the 2004 presidential election was just a little better than 60%; this was up about 6% from 2000, but frankly, it is still not nearly good enough.

Now I'm sure that in the past few days you've heard a lot of people going about how crucial it is for everyone to get their asses out of bed and make a choice tomorrow. Unfortunately I am going to join their numbers for a brief moment, with a couple arguments for why I feel it is necessary that every US citizen who is able visits a polling place tomorrow.

In a nutshell, the crux of my argument is this: Democracy does not work without the consent of the governed. The dictionary definition of democracy is "government by the people," after all. How well is our democracy performing, then, when only 60% of those who are able to have a voice exercise it? Democracy can only reach its theoretical fullness when 100% of those governed are doing the governing, right? This is the only sure way to garauntee that the will of the majority of the people is heard. And this seems a small, small price to pay for what should be the most fair form of government. And how hard is it to go vote, really? It takes maybe 20-30 minutes out of your day... you might look at it as just another form of paying taxes, by which I mean that it requires a necessary (and in this case small!) sacrifice on your part to keep society running the way it should, which hopefully is in the best interest of everybody (the difference here is that this tax takes your time instead of your money). I think it is interesting, in fact, that paying taxes is enforced harshly by almost everyone in power while it seems that only some in power care about voting... but that is a topic for another time.

Of course we're talking about hundreds of millions of people here, and I think that always leads people to think "who cares if I vote, there are plenty of other people who will vote like I do, so what I have to say won't end up mattering." Of course examining this statement even a little shows that this is a logical fallacy (thus, those professing it are fallases... get it?!). See, this is a bad way of thinking because it assumes that you're the only person thinking that way. After all, to be honest, there are very few elections I can imagine where one vote would determine the entire outcome (shitty Kelsey Grammer movies notwithstanding). But the problem is that many, many people think this way, and then the issue becomes not about one vote but about, say, one-hundred million (ala 2004). It should go without saying that those one-hundred million votes could have (and I think you could reasonably argue would have) drastically altered the outcome of the election and the future of our country. Kind of makes thinking that your vote doesn't matter look kind of silly, huh?

I would be remiss if I did not consider, however, that there are some people who truly feel that their best choice on election day is to not vote at all... and I don't mean because they'd rather sleep in, or go home early and watch TV, or anything like that, but because they do not have faith in any of the candidates and wish to, in a way, opt-out of being governed. This is a symbolic gesture, of course, not a literal one, but I will concede that this is a perfectly valid reason not to vote if my generous readers will concede that most people make this choice out of laziness, not out of conviction. But if you, my friends, truly do not support any candidates up for election this year, it is your right as a citizen in a democracy to not vote for them. Similarly, to re-visit this analogy, it is your right as a citizen in a democracy not to pay taxes. Henry David Thoreau famously opted to not pay them, as did Wesley Snipes. There are punishments for that, yes, but you still must recognize that it is your right to not consent to being governed, just as it is the government's right to take the approrpriate action for said lack of consent. The issues that blossom out of your feeling like you do not want to be governed are myriad and complex and I couldn't possibly talk about them here, but it is still important to recognize that this is valid stance to take on election day.

Of course this whole time I've been talking from a very idealized, almost theoretical standpoint, both about the idea and process of voting and about how democracy is actually run. The last few elections in particular have been plagued with accusations of voter fraud and other such illicit conduct, and these are things that would not happen in an ideal situation. However, only crazy conspiracy theorists think that our situation is absolutely hopeless and that we can't do anything, and I am not one of those people. I refuse to believe that there are 10 filthy rich men in an underground bunker somewhere who have already decided who the next president shall be based on the almighty dollar... no sir, the only Illuminati I believe in consists of representatives of all of the Marvel Universe's super-teams (and besides, this theory that money governs all would fail to explain, among other things, the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter). I truly believe, and maybe this is stupid of me, that it will be us, the common man and woman, who will decide tomorrow who runs our country for the next 2-6 years. To think otherwise is probably not supportable, and probably the result of laziness.

Now, because this was such a serious post, I'd like to end by sharing a couple video clips I really love from an episode of South Park. This is one of the few episodes that I do not agree with philosophically; however, it is damn funny.

Now... vote or die, motherfuckers.