A kosher Elvis sandwich

Elvis Presley was known for many things including a peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich. I just made a kosher version of it. Take two slices of challah, a healthy schmear of peanut butter, three strips of bacon, cut off the tip of the banana, and feel guilty for eating it.

What is love?

Love is a willingness to lose anything for someone who means everything while expecting nothing.

That is the love that scores the greatest dramas and the mightiest epics. We sing songs of that love and write poems about that love. Every time that someone dies for that kind of love, a little bit of evil dies too. That is how Christ loves us. That is how we should love each other.


Just Say NO to Trolls

A preacher friend of mine sent me a link to a beautiful Christian music video.  When I got done watching it, I noticed a link to this video of Carrie Underwood singing “How Great Thou Art” with Vince Gill.

It was a blessing to watch.  I started writing a nice comment about the video.  Below it, I glanced at a comment from some bitter poop of a supposed Christian that goes by the screen name of atterolevad.

there has been a contemporary christian music industry since the 60′ with many styles including rock. these brave christian ministers have come up against foolishness condeming them for there style of music even though they walk the talk . meanwhile carrie underwood sings about getting revenge if her man ever cheats, while other country singers talk about honky tonk ba donka donk, one more drinking song, whos bed has your boots been under..ect. christian values….I think not.

I had to say something.

For my Christian brethren who don’t think the same artist can sing Jesus Take the Wheel, Before He Cheats, & How Great Thou Art; get a life. This woman is willing to risk popularity & record sales by being very open about her faith. How many risks have YOU taken to proclaim your faith?

Fortunately, God’s grace protects us, even when we strike out in revenge, or, perish the thought, have a drink. The world has much ugliness in it. I suspect that Carrie was telling a story, not writing an autobiography. Just remember, if you are never in the midst of the world, you can’t reach the world. Carrie Underwood has a greater impact on the world by being a Country musician that sings some Gospel than a Gospel musician that sings some Country.

That wasn’t enough.  I was really ticked off at this atterolevad knucklehead so I started doing some research.  In 2009, he/she/it put up a page on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/atterolevad) with a video from this group, the Global Information Network (GIN).  The video was narrated by some kook with a really bad German accent. For ten minutes, he rambled on about how an exclusive membership in GIN, a “club only for affluent, like-minded people” that could help you to raise $10,000 in one day, eliminate bad credit, get a second passport, learn about UFOs, make huge winnings playing baccarat and betting on horse races, attract cars, lovers, and good health, read minds, predict the future, and be healed from almost every disease.  This made me think of a couple of things:

  1. Clearly, GIN couldn’t heal atterolevad’s inability to use the English language.
  2. Since when are Christians interested in mind reading, UFOs, and  being involved in exclusive clubs that wallow in “filthy lucre.”
  3. Doesn’t atterolevad have anything better to do than making stupid comments and promoting cult-like MLM schemes?
  4. How am I allowing myself to get sucked into this insipid discussion?

Then I Googled “atterolevad.”  What I saw was a series of incoherent rants that I can only describe as a cacophony of moronic blather.  atterolevad is what we in interactive chatting call a “troll.”  In fairy tales, trolls are hideous creatures that fear the daylight, hide under bridges, pop up to snatch unsuspecting children from the bridge, and then eat them.  In chat, a troll sits and waits for a spot in a discussion to go on a stupid diatribe, rile people up, and then disappear.

I am writing this for a reason.  atterolevad is a sad little troll.  These trolls tend to suck people, myself included, into their little black pools of putrid ooze.  We waste our time trying to reason with them.  They don’t listen.  Unless you make replies that agree with them 100% they vomit their ignorance upon you and leave you covered in sticky cubes of ochre stupidity.  When we engage them, we might as well go to a theater, wait in line, jump out of the line just before we can buy a ticket, return to the end of the line, and repeat this until the theater closes.  We will have accomplished the same with either activity.

My advice, just say no to trolls.


I have a very eclectic taste in music. One thing that helps me to expand my musical palette is what I call “chaining.” Chaining is easy. Go to YouTube and find a video of an artist you like. Play it and look at the recommendations on the right side for the screen. Pick one totally on the basis of your whims. Maybe a video is from a different artist performing the same song. It could be another song from the same artist. You might just find something cool looking in the thumbnail. Whatever it is, just go for it.

This Is how I came across The Yoshida Brothers, Buckethead, Epica, Ben Harper, and a dozen more. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day and you get to expand your musical horizons while surfing.

Give it a try and post back here with something that you discovered and a rundown of how you got there. It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon without the bacon.

Desireé Bassett

I first saw video of Desireé Bassett about three years ago. She had great mechanics as a guitarist and clearly practiced a lot. Her voice was somewhat flat and it was hard to get any much emotion from her. In the three years since, she has clearly grown in her skills, probably through more hard work and some really excellent coaching, particularly with her vocals. I have seen her with people like Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, and the Marshall Tucker Band. The video below was taken in March 2011 on the Boston Legends Tour. The lady has skills.

Desireé has now established herself in Rock music. She has been named as the lead guitarist for Cirque du Soleil’s, Michael Jackson, The Immortal World Tour.  I wonder if this isn’t somewhat of a passing of the touch since Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist for his last scheduled tour, was Orianthi Panagaris (orianthi.com), herself a world-class musician.

I’ve grown so weary of seeing semi-talented teens being pushed as real musicians. Desireé Bassett, at 18, is a real rock star. It is refreshing. There is hope for the future of the genre.


I love action movies.  If that is a genre you appreciate and you enjoyed the Bourne movies, you MUST see Hanna.  I sat unmoving from start to finish.  Not only was the action intense and creative, it was backed by a soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers that is without peer.  The last time I heard a score that was this perfect a match for the movie was Stewart Copeland’s score for Rumble Fish (1983).  The score was as essential a part of the dialog as anything spoken. Close your eyes and hear the screeching violins of Hitchcock’s The Birds and Psycho.  The violins spoke.  Copeland spoke.  The Chemical Brothers spoke.  Just go to http://hannathemovie.com, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and you’ll understand.

Until this movie, I thought the best action movie teenager was Chloë Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass.  Saoirse Ronan, who plays Hanna, has no equal at this point in time.  You can take the best of Jaden Smith in the Karate Kid remake and combine it with Chloë and it will still not compare to the raw action prowess of Saoirse Ronan.  She is as effortless in her role as Matt Damon is at his best playing Jason Bourne.  Her face is amazing.  You may have seen her before.  She played Susie in the The Lovely Bones.  This ain’t Susie unless Susie learned how to kick some SERIOUS ass.

Accents, accents, accents.  Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are Aussies.  Ronan is Irish.  None of them sound remotely like the way they speak in real life.  I’m Jewish and I can’t do Jackie Mason.  These three were unbelievable.

I was never a huge Eric Bana fan but he did a really great job.  He was helped by some really exceptional fight choreography that made him fight like a man of his age and size and not some 18-year-old wu-shu wire-artist.

Cate Blanchett is Cate Blanchett.  She was as far into her character as I’ve ever seen her.  IMHO, she took some serious Clarice Starling lessons from Jodie Foster, but hey, if you’re going to borrow, well then borrow from the best.

There was also some very creepy/surreal scenery/underplot/characterization that I won’t touch because I’d hate to spoil it.  Let’s just say that if you liked some of the bizarre-ness of Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange along with some of the off-to-the-side characters in Blade Runner, you’ll get really jazzed over Hanna.

One other thing that I saw, that is becoming a recurring trend, was the lack of R-rated content.  There was no gratuitous gore, sex, or language.  In my mind, that is a big plus.  I Am Number Four also did an exceptional job of being an action/sci-fi hit without bimbos, bowels, or blue speech.  I am a big fan of this approach.  Hanna proves you can do action/adventure with a PG-13 rating.  Bravo to Focus Pictures!  Let’s see more like this.

Expand your musical palette

When I was a kid, we were always forced to try new things.  The rule of thumb was, “try it, if you don’t like it, you can spit it in a napkin.”  It wasn’t always thrilling, but on occasion I’d come across something great.  The goal of that exercise was to expand our palettes.  I believe we should do the same thing with music.  IMHO, a life without music is like a life without color, taste, texture, and smell.

Years ago, my oldest daughter Beth began to work on helping me expand my musical palette.  She started by teaching me the difference between Rap and Hip-Hop.  Kanye West was the first Hip-Hop artist she shared with me.  She also turned me on to Norah Jones and John Mayer.  Beth’s cousin, Tim Walsh, introduced me to the Utah Saints and Moby.  This has gone on for years (although I have not, much to my sorrow, heard from Tim in a long while).  I chew on offerings from Beth, some I enjoy and others, I spit out.  It has gotten to the point where I even introduce her to stuff, although 80% of the time she tells me, “Dad, I’ve been listening to that for years.”  Her other response is “Dad, you wouldn’t let me listen to that when I was a kid and now you like it?”

Something else that Beth turned me on to is Pandora.  There are plenty of Internet radio stations out there, but Pandora does something better than I have seen others do.  Like other stations, you can give it an artist and it will build a radio station for you.  Pandora’s selections are great and unlike their competitors, Pandora dips into some really old and obscure material.  It is not unusual to hear a scratchy vinyl record that has been digitized for Internet play.  Pandora also has this thing it calls “The Music Genome Project.”  If you look at the track information panel in Pandora, it will tell you why, according to the Music Genome Project, the track is in your mix.

Pandora also provides a way for me to expand my own palette.  I create a channel with an artist I like and then I listen to the associated artists.  When I hear an artist I like, I make a station for that artist and repeat the process.  Each new station introduces me to artists I have never heard.  I started this process with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and it has introduced me to artists like Ben Harper, G. Love, Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Adele, The Black Keys, the White Stripes, and Sara Bareilles to name a few.  I am an old-time techno-guy, having started with listening to Kraftwerk in the 1970’s.  That led to my affinity for the Blue Man Group.  I made a Blue Man Group station and through that I discovered The Yoshida Brothers, The Crystal Method, and a host of others.  You can go on this palette expanding journey and never get to the end.

The best thing is, you can have Pandora for free.  It runs on everything I own including my Blu-Ray player, my iPhone, my Kronos Android tablet, and my various Windows-based computers.  If you like it and you don’t like the commercials, shell out $36 a year and get commercial-free radio.



The Yoshida Brothers

Anyone that knows me knows that I love fusion and world music. When I first heard Béla Fleck and the Flecktones with their fusion of jazz and bluegrass, I was totally blown away. The other day, I was listening to my Blue Man Group channel on Pandora and I heard this really crazy fusion of prog rock, heavy percussion, jazz, and a Japanese genre called “Tsugaru-jamisen.” If you have ever watched a Japanese martial arts film, you may have heard Tsugaru-jamisen. The predominant instrument is the shamisen. A shamisen is a three stringed banjo-like instrument that produces a twangy percussive sound because it is played with a heavy plectrum called a “bachi” that is used to both pluck the strings and thump on the skin of the shamisen. It’s like Béla Fleck having grown up in northern Japan.

Let me give you an idea of the level of their crazy world-music fusion. As I am writing this, I am listening to the album “Yoshida Brothers II” for the first time. I don’t have liner notes, but here is a sampling of some of the instruments I think I’m hearing. On the track called Kagero, is Flamenco guitar playing counterpoint with the shamisen, tablas, and violin. Yuunagi has harp, piano, bells, and a variety of percussion toys like you would see in Neal Peart’s drum kit. The song Indigo, has a Hammond B-3, baritone and tenor saxes, electric piano, drum kit, electric guitar, bass guitar, and possibly a Mellotron.

As I listen more, I’ll gush more.