April 11, 2008

The Weeklies #31

The Weekly Small Appliance Replacement. My alarm clock. Sadly, I didn't replace it with a vacant place on my night stand. Instead, I swapped out the old alarm clock which, when set to "buzz" doesn't buzz but plays country music and Pink Floyd songs at full volume, with a new alarm clock that actually does the buzzing thing quite well.

The Weekly Great Way To Spend Your Money. DonorsChoose.org. Yep, saw it on The Colbert Report and though the little donation-powered poll he's running was pretty cool. Check it out.

The Weekly Reads. Last week I read one novel by John Lescroart. This week I tackled another. Betrayal to be precise. The verdict? Meh. I liked the story - guy goes to fight in Iraq, gets tangled up with a bad contractor who screws with his life after the soldier gets injured and is presumed dead - but the construction of the story felt a little off to me. It's delivered sequentially in parts making the story seem very choppy. I don't know the solution but then I didn't pay myself $20 to write the book.

The Weekly Music. Last week I joked that REM's Accelerate was a masterpiece. I say joked because I hadn't yet listened to it. Turns out I wasn't too far off. This is honestly the first REM album I've truly enjoyed since Automatic For The People (which I maintain is one of the truly great albums of the 20th century). Accelerate is gritty, hard, full of insightful observations and music. Less original is Joe Satriani's Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock. One day back in the mid 80's I bought two albums that changed the way I look at music. The first was Led Zeppelin's Coda (admittedly the worst Zeppelin album to start out with) and the second was Joe Satriani's Surfing With the Alien. Satriani was one of the pioneers of guitar-driven hard rock. His output has remained steady but unfortunately, of late, there isn't much original about it any more. Pieces of this latest album feel like they could have been recorded back in the 80's while other parts of the album are just plain silly. Still, there are enough gems here to make me happy. And Satch's guitar playing is still top-notch.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Did you see who one of McCain's leading contenders for the VP spot on his ticket is? Condi Rice. If that happens, and Old Man McCain actually wins, the volumes of schadenfreude that will be written will be written about us having to put up with The Bush Era Part III.

The Not So Hypothetical Question. China is hosting the Olympics. Since the Olympic flame began traveling around the world, it's been mobbed by protesters and, from time to time, extinguished. With its history of human rights violations and virtual imprisonment of Tibet, should China be allowed to host the Olympics? If so, should the Olympics be boycotted?

The Weekly Post Script. You rock. Thank you all for the kind words yesterday. I needed them and appreciated them.

Posted by Chris at April 11, 2008 7:50 AM

In regards to the question about China... I think Boycotting is a sexist term. What about the girls? Huh?

Posted by: william at April 11, 2008 7:14 AM

On the alarm clock...I started using an iPod Alarm Clock about 2 years ago. I'm in love with it. When the first one broke down due to getting SOAKED during a torrential downpour while I was waiting on a flight out of here to another fob...I was lost for the 2 weeks it took me to get a new one. Long Live Functioning Alarm Clocks!

Wait...I don't want them to live long. I want to retire and make my own schedule and have to use it only on special occasions!

RE: The Weekly Hypothetical

I don't understand why China is hosting the olympics. I think that not just the spectators need to boycott it, but I think the athletes (no matter how bad they want to be in the Olympics) need to stand up and say "HELL NO - WE WON'T GO!"

Hope this weekend is more refreshing for all 4 of you. *hugs to all*

Posted by: Holly Selden at April 11, 2008 7:18 AM

I'm not sure how China got the Olympics anyway! I can only guess that somebody got paid off!
And the alarm clock thing? Is Beth still speaking to you? Country music! Ick!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 11, 2008 8:07 AM

A black woman VP. Dude, you can't say the Republicans aren't playing the race and gender cards and staying in pace with the Democrats. Amazing ... maybe it will get them some votes.


Posted by: Edge at April 11, 2008 8:10 AM

I like country music :P Well, most of it.
Anyway, you know how Greece is like the birthplace of democracy? China must just be where it goes to die. It really doesn't sit well with me for them to "have" the Olympics.
On the plus side, we get them next ;) (Except I'm already tired of hearing about "Vancouver 2010!")

Posted by: Heather at April 11, 2008 8:18 AM

ICK! McCain is a million and I will cry like Hillary if he is president.

Also, should you really be talking about boycotting your homeland? Or are you Japanese, I can't remmember?

Posted by: Mymilabean at April 11, 2008 8:46 AM

You're welcome. Hope you're feeling better and that the weekend will be good to you.

Ways to help - have you seen this? It's easy, fun, and free.


Olympics. Part of me says give them the finger. The other part hearkens back to 1936, Munich, Hitler, and Jesse Owens. We kicked butt and all Hitler could do was sit there and watch.

I don't know. I do believe if we don't find ways to communicate with each other, we're all doomed.

Posted by: ann adams at April 11, 2008 8:58 AM

Hang in there Chris. We all go through rough patches. You'll get through it. Just take it very easy on yourself for a few days.

Thinking of you.

Posted by: Susan at April 11, 2008 9:02 AM

I've found that having my alarm set to the music that I absolutely detest makes me get up faster.... The buzzing? I can't take it. Somehow it gets incorporated into my dreams and I hear things like, "10 seconds to maximum safe distance." and I wake up all panicked. Ha!

I don't know about China. I really don't. But if McCain gets elected, I think I might have to move to another country.

Posted by: k8 at April 11, 2008 9:35 AM

I'm conflicted about the Olympics in China but I keep coming back to the fact that change has to start somewhere. I don't know. It's too much to think about at 7:30 in the morning.

Hope the weekend treats you better than the last five days have! Chin up, my friend.

By the by, smoking ass!

Posted by: pea at April 11, 2008 9:47 AM

The Weekly Small Appliance Replacement:
The buzz feature is a must for me to wake up, if I ever accidently change it to the music feature in teh morning when it goes off I just incorporate whatever song is playing into my dream and keep on snoozing.

The Weekly Music:
I could not agree with you more anout REM and their Automatic For The People album. Simply brilliant. I will have to get the new one now that I have heard your take on it.

The Not So Hypothetical Question:
Maybe I am worng here but I don't see hwta the big deal is about the Olyimpics being held in China. I know that they have done some really effed up shit over there, but have we not? Indians? Slaves? Want to talk about human rights violations? I am not so sure that we are in a position to judge.

Those are my humble oppinions. Have a great day and weekend!

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 11, 2008 9:49 AM

They shouldn't be hosting the olympics, but now that they are, they shouldn't be boycotted, either. There are people who have spent their lives training for what may be a single shot at the olympics and a boycott means that they get robbed of that chance so a government can prove a point about their morality. I do see the point behind a boycott, but don't think it makes as much of an impact on the country being boycotted as it does on the people who are restricted from competing.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at April 11, 2008 10:02 AM

China -- where running over protesters with tansk isn't a problem any more. (Now we execute them and sell their kidneys.)

I guess, it's online with awarding the Olympics to the USSR in the '80s. Should their be a boycott. Well, it would have been best had the IOC made a better choice of sites. I think country boycotts are unlikely at this stage. Should there be? Yes.

I read that a number of marathon runners are refusing to run in Beijing because of the pollution. (I can't remember which ones.) That says something no? And is a huge embarassment to the Chinese.

Posted by: Nat at April 11, 2008 10:04 AM

I dunno, but let's change the hypothetical perspective:

You live in Switzerland, so hypothetically you're neutral, but... no, silly, you have an opinion.

The United States is slotted to host the Olympics.

(Insert thoughts about our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq here.)

Should the US Olympics be boycotted?

Posted by: Poppy at April 11, 2008 10:10 AM

I think that question should have been answered 12 years ago or whenever it was that they won the bid and started building huge stadiums. Those athletes train their whole lives for this... and they don't have a say in where the Olympics will be.

Yes, the Olympics should continue as planned and hell no, they should not be boycotted (as a country). The Olympics are bigger than any one country. It is quite possibly the only unifying thing we have in this entire world. Let's not fuck it up.

What would be awesome is to have Bush say, "I will root for our wonderful athletes and wish them well, but I will not attend an event in a country that persecutes peacefully protesting monks." Of course, he's a giant douche and doesn't have the character or gonads to say or do such a thing.

Posted by: Brad at April 11, 2008 10:21 AM

I think it's sad that the /spirit/ of the Olympics is being tarnished by China's gross neglect of, well, everyone. The Olympics are about hope and unity and triumph, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any of those things in China (or coming out of China -- they're supplying arms to the Sudanese government, for fuck's sake -- but then again, so did we...). I fully agree with what Brad said:

//What would be awesome is to have Bush say, "I will root for our wonderful athletes and wish them well, but I will not attend an event in a country that persecutes peacefully protesting monks."//

As for alarm clocks, I have to set my cell phone alarm because my regular alarm occasionally doesn't go off. When it does, I am lulled awake by the dulcet tones of NPR.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at April 11, 2008 10:34 AM

Alarm clocks suck whether they play music, chirping bird or buzzing... I HATE THEM!

Have a nice weekend!

Posted by: Christina at April 11, 2008 10:40 AM

I really don't give two figs about the Olympics themselves - don't watch them or really care who wins. However, I don't think it's right for a country like China to reap the benefits of hosting such a world-wide event; they shouldn't get the economic benefit or the international goodwill that comes from the honor of hosting. I know that all the athletes work very hard to get to the Olympics but this matter goes beyond sports and I do think that they should be boycotted by all the free nations of the world. In the scheme of things, what is more important - a sporting event or human rights?

Posted by: Donna at April 11, 2008 10:41 AM

Well, the dalai lama is currently staying right outside my front door. So, I've been thinking a lot about this.

While China is doing bad things and things that (most) people don't agree with...I think the Olympics are bigger then that. It's about the athletics and what they've spent their entire lives preparing for. The Olympics represent peace. They don't represent the country where they are being hosted.

I hate to admit this, but last night I finished my first ever vampire novel. Reading it made me feel dirty.

This morning I started a new book about a man that built schools for kids in Pakistan. I hope reading it washes away all the vampire guilt.

(While typing this comment my iPod, set at "random", started to play a George Strait song. "Dude, where in the hell did I get a Straight CD to put on my iPod?!" Gag.)

Posted by: Isabel at April 11, 2008 10:48 AM

We are boycotting them. Well, my husband says we are. I am just simply not watching them. I could not care less. I'm far more concerned with the 2010 Olympics. We are saving our money to leave Vancouver for the two weeks. I think we'll leave the country entirely. Which isn't hard. The border is less than 30 mins away after all.

Posted by: jodi at April 11, 2008 10:52 AM

I've always been suprised by the number of very talented guitarists that don't put out solo work or good solo work. The list is pretty long:

Eddie Van Halen
Johnny Marr
Steve Morse

Is it because their talent is limited to the guitar? Good technicians but not very creative? Is it because they can't sing? The latter has never held back jazz artists. Who knows?

Have a good weekend!

Posted by: Johnny Smoke at April 11, 2008 11:55 AM

I have to switch my alarm clock quite often - otherwise, like others have posted - I just incorporate it into my dream. One day it's country, the next it's the buzzer, this morning I woke up to En Vogue. Ah, instant flashbacks.

I can't boycott the Olympics. Can't do it. And I have to agree . . . as an American, I really shouldn't throw stones . . .

Here is hoping you have a great weekend.

Posted by: Mindy at April 11, 2008 12:18 PM

I have heard others state that if China didn't have the Olympics, Tibet wouldn't be in the spot light. So is it possible that the increased publicity on china could make a difference for the people of Tibet ? I hope so !

Posted by: Heather at April 11, 2008 2:07 PM

Ann, thank for the free rice site. Pretty cool. At first I thought it was going to be parody of Condi Rice, but it turned out to be something better. Save the World while you Wordsmith.

Posted by: Johnny Smoke at April 11, 2008 3:03 PM

Our cats decided that they will be our alarm clock. No kidding. One of them figured out that our "french door" handles just need to be pulled down. So we had kittens waking us up 1.25 hours before the alarm went off. Given I was expecting 5 whole hours of sleep, I'm a little out of it...

Big hugs to you and the family. The Boy and I are thinking of you all.

Posted by: alektra at April 11, 2008 3:13 PM

Chris, I meant to send this earlier when I read your line about reviewing the REM album. 2 Points.

1. You're not the only one that does this: http://www.foliomag.com/2008/do-you-actually-have-listen-album-review-it

2. You actually admit to listening to the Black Crowes - your main page. See ya!

Posted by: Johnny "Street Smart" Smoke at April 11, 2008 4:17 PM

and thank you for your kind words. and um. we really arent that ugly. i just picked awful pictures for ..fun! yes. :D

Posted by: Cri at April 11, 2008 4:42 PM

Well, juvenile point indeed, but don't most of our house's host their products. If people really felt this strongly about China they should go out of their way to not purchase anything made in China. That being said, it is almost impossible to do, I tried it and gave up, call me a quitter. But like most Americans I take the easy route, Boycott the Olympics, yeah!!!! Take hours of extra time researching products including but not limited to food, clothing, all household products, furniture, games, game boys blah blah, well, that would be inconvenient, so I will hold a sigh saying boycott the Olympics instead.

Posted by: Shannon at April 11, 2008 5:20 PM

I still marvel at how much you can manage to read with your schedule.

As for the China question, it amazes me that they were even awarded the Olympics in the first place.

Posted by: Mandy Lou at April 11, 2008 9:17 PM

Hey, let's boycott the Olympics and make all those poor kids who've busted their asses for the last 2, 4, 6 years pay for our sins. Like many have said here.. if you want to make a point refuse to buy Chinese. Go out of your fucking way to do it but don't punish the athletes. Instead show some restraint.

Posted by: Johnny "Jaded" Smoke at April 11, 2008 10:49 PM

Re: China hosting the Olympics -- I don't think they should have been picked to host in the first place. And despite my not being much of a protester, I do not think we should go.

Posted by: coolchick at April 12, 2008 4:59 PM

Wow, REM brings me back. I saw Peter Buck a few months ago when he came on stage to play with Patti Smith. He lives in Seattle and looked so old. Too bad he got divorced and the Crocdile Cafe closed, bummer!

Posted by: Kim at April 12, 2008 11:20 PM

Dude, you forgot the great weekly thing to do with your kids - the ART AUCTION FOR EARTH DAY!!!

And I am *praying* McCain picks Condi. It will be THE AWESOMEST.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at April 13, 2008 11:17 AM

I've been trying to figure out the whole Olympic/Tibet fiasco. I don't understand it at all. Probably because I haven't had a night's sleep in 6 months.... Must look into it, though....

Posted by: Haley-O at April 13, 2008 12:39 PM

I think we should let the Olympics go ahead in China. With all those athletes and press and hangers-on in the country, reporting and talking about stuff and communicating with the rest of the world, it is going to be nigh on impossible for the Chinese government to maintain control on who films what and who says what during the Olympics. They have already had their request for the internet access to be restricted turned down. It could get really, really interesting.

Posted by: Loth at April 14, 2008 5:05 AM