April 17th, 2007

the one with your name on it

You people don't know how lucky you are

I had originally prepared a big, huge long post on this subject, but I had a lot of freelance stuff to do last night and this morning I'm too tired, so unless it turns out to be a slow day at work, you might be spared tons of alienating jive from me. But, in précis:

Almost everyone on either side of the gun control debate who has made any kind of public statement about this delightfully divisive topic since the mass shooting at VA Tech yesterday morning has been wrong. Completely, profoundly wrong or subtly and deceptively wrong, depending on what it is they were saying, but wrong just the same. And, as time goes on and both the pro- and anti-gun control forces adopt "no more VA Techs" as a slogan, they are liable to get even wronger. Side 'A' is wrong that more gun control would have prevented this massacre; they are wrong that this signals any kind of proof of the necessity of gun control; they are wrong that this is a watershed moment in gun control history; they are wrong that this happened 'because of' guns; and they are wrong to suggest that this could not have been prevented with the aid of guns. Side 'B' is wrong that the shooting points to the need for less gun control; they are wrong that guns have nothing to do with it; they are wrong that a widely armed citizenry results in fewer deaths; they are wrong that relaxed gun laws would result in an end to school shootings; and they are wrong in blaming this on already-existing gun laws. The president was unbelievably wrong to include a big, obvious and incredibly off-key note about the need to preserve gun ownership in his first public statement after the killings, even if he really meant it, and people who are putting the blame for this on guns are as completely and totally wrong as the people putting the blame for it on video games, gangsta rap, or, I dunno, girls wearing belly shirts. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

And, since the gun control debate is the most highly charged, divisive, irrational issue going, since the voices dominating both sides of the argument tend to be the most extreme and unwilling to compromise, it's not going to get any less wrong. My ex once told me that one of the problems she had with Democrats in the abortion debate was that, since they had staked out the extreme argument ("abortions for all!") in opposition to the opposite extreme coming from the right ("no abortions for anyone!"), they tended to alienate any reasonable voices coming from the space in between ("abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!"); and boy, that's trebly true for gun control. The idea that we should have an earnest, realistic and rational debate over how many guns we're willing to tolerate under what conditions -- and, to be perfectly blunt, how many gun deaths under what circumstance we're willing to accept as a number we can live with -- will get you called a blood-soaked redneck by one side and a Nazi predator by the other, with the end result being that we live in a nation whose gun laws are even more of a dysfunctional, loophole-filled hash than its tax laws.

So, to recap: YOU'RE ALL WRONG. The end.
i got all the money

Air Leonard

I have decided that I would like to get married. To someone who is the heir to a large aviation, aeronautics, or airline fortune. Don't worry: I would not only be marrying you for the money. I would also be marrying you for the lifestyle, social status, attention, and political power that comes with the money, and for the free plane trips. Also possibly for sex.

So, are any of you ladies the heir to a large aviation, aeronautics, or airline fortune? And also single, or willing to get divorced immediately? Let me know! Kiss kiss.
i can't hear you

This is for all my hip-hop heads

While everyone else is one post up arguing about firearms, let's discuss something that has absolutely nothing to do with guns: RAP MUSIC!

I need suggestions for a music feature I'm working on. What I'm looking for is feedback on covers/interpretations of hip-hop & rap songs by non-hip-hop musicians, good and bad. What are some covers of rap songs by non-rappers you like, and why do you like them? What are some covers of rap songs by non-rappers you hate, and why do you hate them?

Examples:

GOOD
Firehose's cover of "She Watch Channel Zero?!?" by Public Enemy -- Watt's arrangement and musicianship is fantastic; vocal interpretation is skillfully done; the band clearly loves the original work.

System of a Down's cover of "Shame on a Nigga" by the Wu-Tang Clan -- participation of the RZA takes a bit of the edge off of a bunch of white guys using the N-word; song rocks like a box of cocks.

The Gourds' covers of "Gin & Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg & "No Diggetty" by Blackstreet -- while there's a mild taint of co-option, the arrangements are clever, the approach is funny, and the band seems to have a genuine affection for the original material.

BAD
Anthrax's cover of "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy -- despite participation of PE, song seems out of place in their canon; not nearly as rockin' as it should be (attributable to the fact that Slayer rocks much harder than Anthrax); seems gimmicky.

Alanis Morrissette's cover of "My Humps" by the Black-Eyed Peas -- cover of song I hate by band I hate by different performer I hate who sings it in a style I hate just means five times the hate.

Duran Duran's cover of "911 is a Joke" by Public Enemy -- sucks.

Nina Gordon's cover of "Straight Outta Compton" -- absolutely reeks of cultural co-option and not a slight whiff of racism; features rich, priveleged white woman from tony Chicago neighborhood singing a song written by impoverished inner-city hoodlums; sung in that wispy white-girl "I'm going to cry" voice that I don't even like when it's a non-rap song; does not feature awesome G-funk production by Dr. Dre.

Okay, NOW YOU!
space geek

Let's pretend that I didn't accidentally delete my geek filter, and that this post is on it.

So, okay, role-playing games. I used to love them, but barring the sudden acquisition of friends, I will probably never play them again. Still and all, I maintain a sort of intellectual curiosity about them.

I was always a mark for TSR stuff; dance with the horse that brung ya was my o.p., and the fact that I never role-played very much, especially given that I was always more into the story, character and concept than the boring nuts and bolts of rules, mitigated the fact that I couldn't be bothered to find any better games. But one thing that always confused me was the runaway success of White Wolf.

Sure, they had neat ideas and all, and their books were absolutely crammed with dense mythology for the sci-fi/fantasy nerds who liked that sort of thing. And who doesn't like to see their RPG sourcebooks hipped up with Southern Death Cult lyrics? But aside from the overall way-too-self-impressed goth feel of the books, I could never penetrate the dense layers of neologism that made the rules impossible to figure out.

Anyway, the other day, I was at a big chain bookstore and one of their new-edition books happened to catch my eye, so I took a look. Now, my big question is this: is their fanbase so devoted -- I mean, way more marked out than the TSR/WotC zombies are supposed to be -- that they'll just buy anything with the WW imprint on it? Or am I missing something? Because I don't see how they could ever get any new customers, since, looking at the front and back covers and first, oh, ten or twelve pages, there is absolutely no way to tell what any of their books are actually about.

Come on, man. There's artsy, attractive design, and that's great, but utility and user-friendliness has to enter the picture at some stage. I must have flipped through half a dozen of these books and I didn't have the slightest clue what the subject of any of them was meant to be.