Not The Next Sir Alex Ferguson

How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man. Practice.

How do I get to the Premier League? Tactics, man. Tactics.

I needed a hobby so I made a Steam account. My friend and former bandmate Matt has a game on Steam called A Robot Named Fight that I recommend you check out. I don’t have the game myself because Matt has the nerve to charge for money for it and spending money is for suckers but if you’re into that sort of thing I strongly suggest you give it to him.

I downloaded a free game titled Soccer Manager. It is a competitor to the more-famous Football Manager series. Football Manager is the Madden NFL of international soccer only more so because masses of young men (mostly British) have thrown the best years of their lives away on this annual series.

In both games, you pick a team and see them through their season, their transfers, their tournament games, friendlies and whatnot. Do you want to run a fourth-tier British team? NOW YOU CAN and that’s part of the appeal for a player to try to manage a club from the lower ranks of association football all the way to the top division. Consequently, you can also do such a terrible job that the club chairman fires you before you do any more damage. It’s an extended multi-season head coach mode. You pick the players, the formation, the tactics and you let the computer do the work.

The difference between Soccer Manager and Football Manager is that FM costs about $50 USD and that’s not a sound investment for me. Soccer Manager costs me nothing but time and I have plenty of that. FM costs money but has more detail and allows you to do more, but that’s not what I need at this early phase.

I enjoy the sport of soccer but I sure as hell don’t understand tactics. The transfer window is beyond my comprehension. It’s hard for me to get too frustrated about losing games when I admittedly have no clue in the world.

You can see why it would be foolish for me to spend $50 on a game I would in all likelihood be terrible at. Maybe if I get better at SM, I will consider promoting myself to the next level and actually paying for a FM.

From time to time I will write about my progress or lack thereof. For this new venture, I have picked the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (as MLS lacks a promotion/relegation system so I can’t screw it up so bad they get kicked out of the league).

I apologize to Chicago Fire fans in advance.

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Queen in the 80s, Part 1: The Game

A series talking about that era of Queen music that most fans tend to avoid, the years between 1979 and 1990, when the band raised their international profile while making music less significant than their ’70s output.

Our first entry is 1980’s The Game, the band’s eighth album and the first to include synthesizers after seven years and albums bearing proud declarations that “nobody played synthesizer”. It was also the first Queen album to be recorded digitally and part of that is probably due to new producer Reinhold Mack, who would continue to work with the band through 1986’s A Kind Of Magic.

The band ran two sets of sessions, the first during the summer of 1979 (pre-Mercury moustache) which produced guitarist Brian May’s power ballad “Save Me” and their first #1 song in the US, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. The next set of sessions, from February to May 1980 (post-Mercury mustache), provided bassist John Deacon’s “Another One Bites The Dust”, the other Queen song to go #1 in the US.

Synthesizers open the album with the fade up to Freddie’s “Play The Game”, one of the best tracks on a very good album. Mercury also contributes the aforementioned “Crazy Little Thing” and an off-beat number titled “Don’t Try Suicide”  with lyrics “Nobody’s worth it, nobody cares, you’re just gonna hate it, nobody gives a damn!”

If “Don’t Try Suicide” was Freddie’s way of seeing how many times he could put the word “suicide” in a Queen song (nineteen, smashing the previous record of once in “Death On Two Legs” from A Night At The Opera), fair play to him.

Warning: Do not play “Don’t Try Suicide” to a suicidal person. It rarely helps.

Drummer Roger Taylor comes through with two tracks, the new-wavish “Coming Soon” and the Cars-esque “Rock It (Prime Jive)” which features Roger on vocals after an brief intro by Freddie. The worst point on the album is Roger singing “you really think they like to rock in space? Well, I don’t know! What do you know?” This is followed immediately a bleep-bloop synth that wants to sound like Devo but sounds more like Synthesizer Patel on “Look Around You”.

I am now imagining the Cars playing “Coming Soon” and Devo playing “Rock It” and I can’t believe these songs turned out this well. Credit to the band for a vital performance on songs that couldn’t even make it as B-sides.

John Deacon’s other contribution to The Game is “Need Your Loving Tonight”, a breezy bit of power-pop not unlike Taylor’s songs except that Deacon actually knew how to write songs so there you go.

Brian May sad songs are nothing like Freddie Mercury sad songs. With Freddie, you get high drama, tension, desperation, peaks and valleys. With Brian, a sad song is just sad and especially if Brian sings lead like this album’s “Sail Away Sweet Sister”. Past examples include “Leaving Home Aint Easy” from Jazz and “All Dead, All Dead” before that from News Of The World.

Mercury adds vocals to the bridge of “Sail Away” and sings lead on Brian’s “Save Me” which livens it up a bit. Confusingly, Brian also writes “Dragon Attack”, which is as funky as he ever got and features a rare John Deacon bass solo.

The first half of The Game is front loaded with their US singles, with “Dragon Attack” being the lone exception. The “no synthesizers” rule is broken sparingly on “Play The Game” but not until “Rock It” opens the second half do the synths take over. It should be noted that during the 1980 sessions, the band (mostly May) worked on the Flash Gordon soundtrack which is mostly synths and it was inevitable that there would be a bit of crossover.

The Game is one of the band’s finest albums, a collection of smash singles and good album tracks. The new engineer/producer Mack seems to be working well, as is the new digital recording and the synths. Enjoy this brief moment of restraint from Queen because from here on out it gets heavy on synths and at times downright embarrassing.

In part two, we will skip the Flash Gordon soundtrack and look at the band’s second most ill-conceived venture, 1982’s Hot Space.

 

requiem for a bastard

I groggily turned on the TV this morning, channel on MSNBC. Kept it there long enough to see what is the main story of the day. We are in a dumpster time and I can’t focus on the news long enough. Take it like a shot of whiskey.

This morning’s shot  was the revelation of Paul Ryan’s resignation from his position as Speaker of the House. Ryan will finish his term in January but will not seek reelection. So it is time to consider his place in Congressional history.

At the tender age of twenty-eight, Ryan was elected to his first term as a Wisconsin republican in 1998. He had not yet married Janna Little, the mother of his three children.

If you run for Congress before the age of thirty as a republican, you may have significant problems.

I don’t want to be tiptoe around him and I don’t have to. This man has a proven track record of confidence masking incompetence. Paul Ryan has a yacht’s worth of confidence in regards to his own ability. In the position of Speaker, he could barely get anything done unless it was detrimental to humanity. This self-promoting deficit hawk with a plan to get the budget under control blew up the deficit so badly that the United States is currently masturbating on webcam for Chaturbate tokens just to make some spare scratch.

I can’t get it out of my head how this guy sees people like me as a drain on society. Me, the guy on Medicaid and Medicare and on benefits. Me, the disabled guy. The person who needs SNAP. So its in his interest to take an axe to programs he and his loved ones don’t need and won’t use.

If you calculate his annual salary, his pension and his effect on the public via policy, there is no one in America who has been a bigger drain on the taxpayer than Paul Ryan himself, with the exception of the First Family.

He promoted himself as the one who could solve the country’s deficit problem. republicans’ first choice when trimming budgets is to go after social program, to go after the poorest citizens who need these programs. It would be justice to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest instead while deescalating our international military actions. However, poor people who are burned out on war don’t have a lobby as powerful as Lockheed-Martin or Amazon so to hell with them.

When history is written, there will be many people who have written odes and condemnations of the current Speaker. One of them should at least be done by someone currently affected by his policies. Let me make it clear: Paul Ryan was callous and wasn’t even strong enough to be the bully. He was the bully’s friend, the smaller shit-kid who laughed while the big bully pushed your head in the toilet.

If there was any justice in this world, Paul Ryan’s body would be hung from meathooks on a high pole but media polarization has become so terrible that partisan politics has become Us Vs. Them, where our team is never wrong and there team is never right. There are people who would vote for a dog if it ran as a democrat and people who would vote for a puddle of parking lot rainwater if it was republican. And it is this lack of objectivity that allowed Paul Ryan to flourish for way too long.

Paul Ryan was a cartoon villain and I pity his family for having to spend more time with him after January.

The GERD

Wrestlemania weekend came and went and I binged on it. I watched too much wrestling and I ate too much food. Never even made it to New Orleans, the host for this year’s Mania.

My stomach hurts like a bastard because I had too many snacks. The GERD hit me like a flash and I felt like I was back in the bad old days. I have to stop watching wrestling. It is killing me.

Let’s talk about wrestling. Wrestlemania was a typical WWE dish with more wrestling than one could require. It was a seven-hour show. I should have been intoxicated. There’s no other way to watch seven straight hours of wrestling.

I would like to take a moment to make a list of wrestling bros that are good for drinking beer with in a parking lot.

John Cena. Total bro. 10/10. Spent the first two matches of Wrestlemania in the crowd watching the show. Absolutely would drink beer in the parking lot before and after the show.

Daisuke Sekimoto. Big Japan bro. Totally the kind of guy who you can get baked and eat popcorn with while staring off into nowhere before snapping out of it to arm wrestle on the bed of a truck.

Nick Gage. MDK. Totally loves us and will completely beat the shit out of anybody who talks shit about him therefore we don’t. Drink beer in the parking lot and if somebody starts some shit turn around so you can plausibly tell the cops you didn’t see anything.

Rusev. Another WWE bro. If he grills out, even better.

Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook bro. Not a wrestler. Totally harvesting our personal data to use against us. 11/10 would drink beer in the parking lot before hitting him in the stomach.

Ray Davies. Kinks songwriter/singer. Former WWE Intercontinental champion. Would drink lager in the parking lot while taking medication. Wrote “You Really Got Me” which is pretty good but no John Cena theme song.

Alice Cooper. 1/10 WOULD NOT DRINK BEER WITH. Addict in recovery, sober since the 80’s. Appeared at Wrestlemania III. Would talk to him about Jesus Christ Superstar while drinking bottled water.

Kerry Kenney-Silver. Not a bro. Trudy from “Reno 911”. Best woman bro to drink parking lot beer with (except possibly Kate Bush).

Twitter. Great social media app. Would party with 10/10 24/7/364. Rockin’ out like a bad mofo. Co-wrote most of the great rap hits of the last fifteen years.

I’m A Bipolar Bitch

We live in a cruel and unimaginative society.

Go to the Wikipedia category for “People with bipolar disorder”. It’s a mindblower. Some of them are brilliant, some are fuckups and some are both.

You will see how bipolar disorder does not discriminate by race or gender. Many of them died long before we gained a better understanding of this disorder. Some of them committed suicide.

Fifty years from now, our sons and daughters will look back on this age gobsmacked at how underdeveloped we are. How much we self-medicate for our pain and suffering. We smoke and drink and get high and self-medicate and we stay at home and we drink tea and meditate and we walk and exercise and we take our medicine and we try to deal with it and work through it and some of us make it but some people don’t.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Can you see the bipolar around a person? Is it anything like gaydar, whatever that is? Can you tell just by looking?

Do you ever get paranoid or are you resigned to the difficulty that comes with life?