Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Fortress California

America the Free. America the Brave.

Words I've been hearing ad nauseum for damn near three decades now.

Americans have been bred with an ideal that individualism is sacred. That everybody is a snowflake, unique and entitled. Heck, that creed is basically stated in the "America Dream." Rags to Riches. Every single person in this country deserves to be rich and famous.

Nowhere is this more prominent than my home state of Sunny Sunny Golden California.

This is the home of Hollywood and get rich quick schemes. Hundreds of thousands of people migrate here every year for their shot at the brass ring.

Why? Because it's promised to us. Eddie Izzard said it best, and I'm paraphrasing, America pursues happiness. With a shotgun.

I was born in this country therefore I should and will receive housing, money, happiness, love, etc.

In other words, we are a selfish country.

One of the reasons Communism was so vilified in this country was that it put the needs of the many in front of the needs of you. Americans can not even begin to wrap their heads around that concept.

We ask proudly, what can my country do for me?

I've lived on both coasts for a long time. Eighteen years in California and eleven in West Virginia. My wife and I have been thinking about home ownership and looking at websites for both California homes and Pennsylvania homes, one big difference is readily apparent.

California homes are surrounded by steel.

Fencing, walls, gates, window bars. If I were to take a medieval knight and stick him in Los Angeles he would ask when the Huns were attacking.

This entire state is populated by people who live the American Dream by making sure every one else stays the fuck away.

In perhaps unrelated news California is more crime ridden, poverty stricken, drug laden, and lacking in all areas of education. In all ways that socioeconomic status is determined California reigns king.

I blame the fences.

If I don't have to face my neighbor it's easier to step over a bum, to turn a blind eye to crime, and to formulate negative stereotypes.

The protection of the individual is harming the collective.

Or maybe I'm just too much of a liberal now a days.

California is supposed to be the weird state. Full of hippies, actors, and gays. Yet we don't allow a significant part of the population the same rights as the majority. Why?

This fortress California.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Once more back in the Monkey Cage

The subject is a direct quote from, I assume Bill Gould. Bill is the bass player of my favorite band of all time...Faith No More.

My choice in music has always been schizophrenic to say the least. I listen to Sinatra, Outkast, Guns N Roses, Slayer, Johnny Cash, etc all in the same day. One band, only one in my life has given me everything I love at once.

Faith No More's catalog is an iPod Shuffle.

And they broke up over 11 years ago.

And BA "Finger on the Pulse of America" Boucher just found out they announced reunion tour plans in February.

So, yeah, I'm a little happy today.

And finally the single greatest video put out after a band broke up ever:

Monday, May 18, 2009

I, Surprised

It really is George Lucas' fault.

Full disclosure: I am a Star WARS nerd. I love it.

Star Trek, at least The Original Series, has never been on my radar. My dad loved it and that made it old man stuff. He took me to the movies and I have fond memories of Wrath of Khan, but to me, Khan can not hold Empire's jockstrap.

Empire Strikes Back might the world's perfect film for a seven year old. Action, adventure, comedy, hot girl, dashing heroes. The works. Return of the Jedi I liked better but what kid can resist Ewoks?

Star Trek didn't really have a lot of that. It had politics (yawn), diplomacy (zzzzz), really bad acting, and Tribbles.

What's a kid to do right?

So I spent near three decades on this planet proclaiming Star Wars over Star Trek, and was willing to fight to nerd death on the merits.

And then Lucas released the Prequels.

I'm not saying they are bad movies that weakened a franchise. It's more that they are bad movies that weakened mankind.

The only thing that kept me on the Star Wars train after Episode I was, and I quote myself in 1999, "At least that was Undiscovered Country."

If that reference eludes you it is merely to state this: The worst of Star Wars was never as bad as the worst of Star Trek.

That is until 2009.

I saw Star Trek, the new one, on Saturday. Amidst the action, comedy, special effects, and amazing performances I realized something, this was f'ing cool.

There's a scene where Spock is going to teleport to Vulcan to save his parents, before he beams down, he crouches so that he can immediately sprint. That was cool.

Spock! Spock is cool!

I honest started getting upset at the end of the film when the plot was starting to wrap itself up. I wanted more!

I can honestly say that I never thought I'd live in an age where I want another Star Trek movie and Star Wars needs to be retired.

So after seeing Star Trek I went home, I looked to the stars and felt a convulsing through my body


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Few Thoughts on the Information Superhighway

Damn, internet you are good.

I was born in 1980. Not too long ago, but long enough ago that we all thought dayglo shorts and shirts that changed color around your armpits were the wave of the future. Turns out we were very wrong.

I think back to my grandparents who heard about life on the other side of the globe through a radio. There view of the world was still in their own head. Words like exotic, mystery, magical were how they pictured Cambodia, India, The Far East.

My parents' generation had television. Pictures of the world broad casted in almost real time. They used words like expansive, panoramic, horrific, war torn to describe Everest, Outer Space, and Vietnam.

My generation has the internet. Instantaneous information about anything you wish to learn about, at your fingertips. Soldiers can Twitter and up date their Facebook from the front lines. To describe Detriot, Outer Mongolia, Space we use words like LOL, UR FAGZZZ!!!, and I can has Sri Lanka?

We have created the foreign, seen the strange, and now are desensitized to it's mystery.

The internet has given us access to the entire world, and we rickrolled it.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the internet can be a place of positivity.

A couple of days ago I posted a piece about a local radio personality that came down with brain cancer. I was pretty bummed out and sent some well wishes their way.

The in turn responded by reading the piece and took time out of their understandably busy schedule and thanked me personally. They didn't have to do that but it's amazing that a few hundred poorly edited words on some bargain basement blog like this could help in some tiny insignificant way.

As the internet increasingly makes us an insular country. A mass of young people shutting out the world to proclaim EPIC FAILS on others anonymously, it is humbling to me to be able to spend just a moment near a stream of intimacy and closeness that happens too too little.

I don't mean to brag or seem as though as I have some lightning touch of speech craft. And I hope I don't come off as name dropping or arrogant.

If anything Bryan Bishop and Christie Clough have humbled me beyond words.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blog Review:// An Inconvenient Tumor

For the past three years, and two with my wife, I/we had a morning ritual.

Wake up after making several attempts at deals with the devil. Breakfast, caffeine, play with puppies, shower, etc.

Then on the drive to work and for the rest of the morning we listened to the Adam Carolla Morning Show on 97.1 Free Fm.

Adam Carolla as you may know from Loveline and The Man Show is an extremely gifted complainer and generally funny guy that eased my wife and I into a stressful work day.

Adam started his radio days on the KROQ and subsequently Mtv show Loveline. Behind the screens they hired a young fat kid named Bryan Bishop. The world of radio I've been told is a hive of villainy. A festering cave of back stabbing and malcontents. Adam Carolla does not suffer fools and had a revolving door of backstage employees. Bryan Bishop however, was a sweet kid who worked hard and always always had a smile on his face.

When Howard Stern left terrestrial radio and went to satellite, Carolla took his place in 17 markets across the country. Doing the morning show meant Adam had to quit Loveline and when he left he specifically picked the very best, most responsible, and stand up staffers. Bryan Bishop, now thin, was the first to be hired.

The first year of the show was bumpy and the ratings were all over the place. Bald Bryan, as Bishop was nicknamed, moved around the staff in many different jobs until he proved to Adam that he had lightning fast reflexes on a sound board and was able to record, splice, and playback clips almost instantaneously.

97.1 Free Fm fired most of the on air staff after the first year and saddled Adam Carolla with Danny Bonaduce as a sidekick. Curiously though Bald Bryan became an on air talent as well. His job was to stand in the booth with the cast and punctuate Adam's ideas and points with often hilarious clips or Bryan's own sarcastic optimism.

Adam jockeyed for Bryan to make pay as an on air talent with CBS radio, 97.1's parent company, to no avail. He was just a tech. Carolla refused to believe that hard work should go unrewarded and paid Bryan out of his pocket to make up the difference in his salary.

After the second year, CBS radio rightly removed Bonaduce from the cast. Carolla and company never seemed to click with Danny's alpha male bravado. Bald Bryan was firmly placed into the sidekick chair and never let it go.

A few months ago, with the country in the economic toilet and radio even further in the sewer, 97.1 flipped formats from talk radio to Top 40. This action lead to the firing of every single person on the station. Bald Bryan was without a job.

Adam Carolla started a daily free podcast on iTunes. An hour or so a day recorded in his home or office with a menagerie of guests. Bald Bryan has been on the show before and the May 13th episode seemed another opportunity for Bishop to entertain his fans.

However, thirty seconds into the episode you learn that Bryan has inoperable brain cancer.

I wrote the very brief history of Bald Bryan above off the top of my head and for a good reason. I spent five hours plus every morning for three years with Carolla and his band of misfits. I heard Bryan's fledgling voice grow into a confident personality. In a very real way, Bryan became one of the biggest stars in Los Angeles radio. He was the bright eyed, optimist giving a small path of sanity through Carolla's hilarious but mostly crazy rants. Bryan was the anchor.

I feel as though I know him. And that is a bit of hyperbole but think about the relationships in your life. Who do you talk to in a frank and open way for 25+ hours a week. I don't even have that much time with my wife Monday to Friday.

I have to admit I was teary eyed this morning listening to Bryan regale the listeners, his friends, his fans with the struggles he and his fiance have been going through for the last couple of weeks.

During the podcast Bryan plugged his blog, There isn't much there right now but he does implore everyone to click over to his fiance's blog, An Inconvenient Tumor.

And here is where the review starts. But this isn't really a review as much as a long winded endorsement.

Christie soon to be Bishop is an open and frank individual. She is also terrified and optimistic in the face of what might be every single couple's greatest fear. Two weeks ago she was planning a wedding, now she is taking the greatest love of her life to a radiation clinic.

The blog is touching, heart warming, and generally positive while at the same time slightly horrifying.

My heart can not go out enough for her and Bryan.

I think the most we all can do is go to her blog and leave some well wishes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Review://Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella

My grandfather has multiple sclerosis. He's had it for as long as I've been alive. I am the first grandchild, I am the first of a generation who has only known him as a diagnosis.

I hear stories all the time about how funny he was and what a party animal he was. I didn't get to see any of the adventures of "Larry the Lech."

I spent an entire childhood surrounded by good natured family members giving my grandmother looks of pity. Whispers everywhere.

As I grow older I realize that he isn't a disease he is a man. So I wasn't there for the wild parties, I do get to be around his sense of humor and he's eternal optimism. He's had the disease for close to forty years, a decade longer than any doctor gave him. He smiles all the time and until recently was still begging me to take him to Vegas and some girly shows.

The man is crippled and my grandmother still gets pissed at him for being too much of a flirt.

An anecdote on how he turns everything positive: He almost got arrested for shoplifting twenty years ago. His excuse? "Who's going to finger the guy in the wheelchair?"

My grandfather isn't doing so good anymore. For the last few years we've all seen the progression. Something however keeps him bright eyed and optimistic. Some force, some magical hand guides him to blue skies and sunsets.

That magic is baseball.

As an American boy or girl, no matter your socioeconomic status, baseball exists. Somehow someway it gets on your radar and is always there. When I was younger I hated sports. Wouldn't play them or follow them.

However, I knew who Babe Ruth was. Gehrig, DiMaggio, Lasorda, Pete Rose, Marge Schott all fought for space in my brain against Lincoln, Washington, Revere, Jefferson.

Some names transcend the sports page and become part of the weave of America itself.

My grandfather believes in the Boys of Summer. The worst of his illness always comes after the world series and his eyes and thoughts are never sharper than on opening day.

For him I started to watch baseball as a teenager and pay attention at least to the pennant races. Which because we live in Southern California meant my grandfather and I had to live and die with the Dodgers.

Baseball has changed over the years. Night games, Designated Hitters, In Field Flies, Humongous Salaries, and Steroids. Purists believe that the game has been perverted, strayed from the course. Threads loosened from the fabric of baseball and America.

For very few however, there is still a magic. My grandfather fights the battle inside his neurons everyday so that he can see the Dodgers win it all someday. There is a calm and healing wave from the crack of the bats and slap of the gloves.

At the beginning of every season I look forward to watching games and following the sport. By the third week, I'm bored of baseball again. In all fairness I am a football fan and baseball is way to slow.

To get excited about the season around March or April I pick up any book written by WP Kinsella.

Kinsella's voice is the voice of time. His narrative flow is a direct link to the glory days of Tinkers to Evers to Chance right to Manny Ramirez's 50 game suspension for steroids.

I am in love with his style.

Kinsella consistently makes you smile when reading a particular phrasing or description. He writes with the same magic that makes baseball so very important.

Shoeless Joe or as you probably know it, Field of Dreams is a novel based on the short story "Shoeless Joe Jackson comes to Iowa."

It is a love story. A romance. A story of fulfillment.

Ray Kinsella, the protagonist, is in love with three things: His wife, Baseball, and Iowa. Each are mysteries to Ray. Gordian Knot's of puzzles, hope, and heartbeats.

We all know the basic plot of the book/film so I won't bore you with a recant. However, if you've never heard of the book, James Earl Jones' character is actually JD Salinger in the book. The actual guy not someone based on him.

The book was written in the eighties about a survivor of the sixties who is in love with a baseball legend from the twenties. Yet every word, description and anecdote is as timeless as a double play.

The book is written it what appears to be broad strokes. Sentence to sentence you are being moved along the life of Ray Kinsella. I think the first paragraph covers over three years of Ray's life. However, when you look closer tiny little details pop up every time I read the book.

So I read it around this time every year. Every year I make the same pledge: Watch more baseball and call my father.

But mostly to remain another witness to the ever steady connection of baseball.

This isn't so much as a review as a chance to write about how a simple book could wrap it's arms around me and give me faith. Faith in baseball, faith in hope, faith in themagic.

As a grandson of a man dying of MS this book and the great god baseball helps me to realize how a man with MS lives with a smile on his face and the smell of the grass in his nose.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend Update://A Bunch of Mothers

Among other things, this weekend was chopped full of action and adventure concerning...your mom.

That was lame.

Great weekend in the Boucher camp. The wife and I work a lot and so when we get 48 blissful hours together we tend to pack as much couple time in over the weekend as to make up for the time apart during the week. Consequently, Monday mornings are a bit stressful as we are in desperate need for more sleep.

I wouldn't change it for the world though.

On to the countdown!

May 9, 2009:// As I was driving to rescue the wife from the clutches of the demon lord Work, I was hit about the face and ears with a radio commercial promising a cloying premise.

Attend with starry eyed optimism the opening of a Swedish furniture establishment and select few will earn free credit with yon edifice.

So Sarah and I hightailed it to IKEA at 6.30 AM. Let me repeat that 6.30 AM on a Saturday. The first 1000 people through the door gets a scratcher which is worth anywhere from $10-$1000 of credit in the store.

at 6.30 we were in the upper 200's of people in line. Probably 1900 people were there when the doors opened.

Victory for the Bouchers!

We got $35 total though. So that was kind of cool.

Our Saturday pretty much was shot after that because we didn't get home until 2.00pm.

So nappy nap time.

We did find time to take the dogs to the dog park. Charlie is continuing her plan to become the strangest dog on the planet.

I am a dog person. I really am. I love their world view. Simplistic and stark. Cats annoy me.

May 10, 2009:// What do you get the mother who has everything?

Towering resentment.

I really feel bad for my wife sometimes. She is a quirky, beautiful and charming individual. She has chutzpah or personality if you will. I have never introduced her to someone who didn't immediately fall in love with her.

So I marry her because everything she is, I want to have around me all the time.

I in turn repay her with giving her the most over the top cliched bitch of a Mother-in-Law on the planet.

It's so deliberate we can't help but laugh.

So we made the obligatory trip to the mighty metropolis of San Bernardino, CA to see my grandmother and aunts. And by proximity, visit with Her.

You know that feeling of when your car is sliding into the car in front of it? Your brakes are engaged but you just can't get the car to stop. There's a pulsing in your lower spine, your heart is retreating, your mouth just drys and flecks of spittle are your only attempts at a scream?

That's dinner with my mom, only times a thousand and full of Jewish guilt.

Sorry Sarah, you really got the raw end of this marriage.

Throw in laundry and grocery shopping and you got an almost perfect weekend.

I give it three and a half screaming mothers out of 5

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Game Review://Today I Die

Office jobs are horrible. Wasted hours plugging away at meaningless jobs. Our forefathers built countries. Turn forest into skyscrapers.

I write emails.

Sad really.

Actually very sad. I sit in a cubicle beside a big bay window. Outside I see the California sun beating. Glory.

I sit in greys, every slipping second closer to obscurity.

But the one benefit of an office job, compared to the construction farmer, is that I can't waste my company's time and money but farting around on the internet.

Where do you think I do this blog?

But the other side of the coin is that the internet is a collective of evil. Digital disgust.

Anonymity brings out the demon in people.

So it's nice to be shown little lights. A few brief seconds of care and love. Positivity in an increasingly darkened world. Today referred me over to Daniel Benmergui's "Today I Die."

A short game that involves changing the text around from "dead world full of shades, Today I die." to something much more elegant and uplifting.

Sometimes the simplest acts have the greatest impact.

My work day is ending but the lingering aftereffects of this stinking job will stay here for today.

After you play check out his other games. All short and have the underlying sense of positivity.
It's really quite refreshing.

I can't wait for work tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Movie Review://Timecrimes

Timecrimes, or Los Cronocrimenes, is a Spanish language indie darling that my wife and I just got around to watching last night.

As with Let the Right One In it's becoming readily apparent that the best writers in film are not American.

Timecrimes is a very elegant and nuanced attempt at a science fiction cliche that is as old as HG Well's disco shoes.

The film looks like it costs $5 dollars and only has four people in it, but the director Nacho Vigalondo (who also plays a character) gets so much out of the budget that you will never notice.

Timecrimes is one of the best science fiction films I've seen in a long time, might be best ever.

Hector is moving in to a new home with his wife. When she leaves to go the the market, Hector does some peeping with his binoculars and catches a young lass stripping.

Hector, reacts as most men, he tries to get a better look. When there are too many trees in the way, he takes a hike into the woods. He finds the girl, naked and unconscious. While trying to see if she is ok, Hector is stabbed by some guy covered in bandages with a pair of scissors.

Hector flees to an abandoned complex. He finds a walkie talkie and some guy helps Hector escape to a silo. The young man inside (Nacho Vigalondo) says the best place to hide is this tank with a lid.

Big mistake, Hector wakes up an hour and a half in the Past. The young man ( lists him as El Joven (The Youth) says he needs to just wait and after an hour and a half he can go home, the Hector in the past will disappear.

Hector from the future decides that he can't wait and he needs to go home. Every single decision he makes from this point brings tragedy to his life in the future.

I won't say anything more at this point.

There are so many twists in this movie that it would seem hard to follow, but the absence of special effects and side plots or too many people on camera, simplify the world. Everything is a tidy complexity. Everything is wonderful.

The main character, Hector, is played wonderfully by Karra Elejande. Hector is a clumsy fool in the beginning of the film and transforms into a wounded hero. He is the anchor of the film.

Timecrimes rates a 86% on

I give it 100%

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On Tattoos and Male Girlfriends

So I got a tattoo. Hooray.

That's a big decision and I assume you would agree.

What the hell do I want to be branded with for the rest of my life? How do you explain to your great grandchildren that blob on your forearm used to be a sexy hula girl?

So though I've been enamored of tattooing for awhile, I just never felt passionate enough about anything to carry around with me for the rest of my life.

Things change, interests change, personalities change. If I got a tat everytime I was absolutely in love with something my body would be covered in Michael Jackson tattoos or GI Joe or The Golden Girls.

Think on your own life. What has been constant throughout all the cities you've lived and all the people you known? What can you honestly draw a straight line from this moment to moments in the past and moments in the future.

Most people would say their spouse. And I am that person, yet, my wife and I are very superstitious and one of the strongest curses in the world is the tattooing of a significant others' names.

So for me, the major constant in my life is and always has been music. Underneath this buttoned up exterior beats the heart of a bass player.

I've been doing it for around 15 years now. And I've been making money at it for 13 or so. Not great money, but enough to say that I am and was a professional musician.

Over the years I've played as a session guy, a fill in dude, and founder of bands. I've worn different hats and changed my playing style four or five times.

So I thought a bass clef is a fitting brand.

I currently am not in a band. And I've been in and out of bands for over a decade. Why? If I love it so much why am I always bouncing around.

Because, dear reader, I'm not cut out for multiple girlfriends.

Being in a band at the beginning is great. It's also just like a relationship. You do everything together, you swap stories, call each other late at night. Instead of sex, you jam.

Everything is perfect.

Until one day, those little personality quirks begin to build and build until you realize you've surrounded yourself with assholes.

In my advancing age I get to the point a little too fast.

But after some healing time and soul searching, I start to get an itch in my soul. Then I start slumming around Guitar shops, chatting up local players. Flirting. Sometimes I score a one night stand/jam. Other times I get a call back. Sometimes we jam everyday for weeks and flame out.

The last few bands I've been in I've been married. So I have a divided loyalty. It's like 99-1 for my wife, just so you know. I don't have such a keen yearning anymore. And while my wife thinks that's sad, I couldn't be happier. There's only so much relationship Brandon I can dole out and I'd rather save it all for her.

So my tattoo is a tribute for that ocean of boys that I've left behind.



PS. These are just some of the bands I can remember being in

BB & MM (my rap group in 7th grade)
Gutter Horse
The Mountain
Negative 1
Red Delta Orchestra
Three Sheets to the Wind
American Standard
The Lazarus Effect

Monday, May 04, 2009

One Last Birthday Post

New Month, New Look, New Attitude

Brandon History Month is in the books for another year. While it's fun and a good exercise to try to be creative every morning at 8.00 AM, it is rather silly.

I'm known as a sort of clown, but I think it was a bit much.

So, to bring in the new year I got a more streamlined design and the posts are going to be a bit more content heavy as opposed to the quantity over quality mindset as of late.

Not all links work at this moment so please hang in there.

A great thing about blogger is that every time you change your template you lose your blog lists, if I forgot to add you back on let me know.