On Wargazing (and Janet Jackson’s boobies)

We here in Launch Day headquarters, when we’re not cooling ourselves with luxury fans and sending congratulatory memos to each other about the quality of coffee in our breakroom, like to keep up on current events. Every once in a while, we wargaze. (I just made that word “wargaze” up. It means, like, “gaze,” at wars, such as the sort-of-war going on in the fictitious country of Afghanistan that apparently the Russians invented in the 80’s to test drive their tanks through.)

Test Drive Tanks

That’s a picture of what you get when you google “russian tanks in afghanistan.”

The sort-of-war’s commanders — that’d be the “suits,” or “executives,” for those of you more versed in corporate lingo than in the oft confusing jargon of sort-of-war — have been encouraging their “boys” to not blow things up unless they absolutely have to.

That comes from the combat geniuses at the Washington Post via this article, which is about another article that’s running in the publication of those other combat geniuses, Rolling Stone (there’s your music tie-in, rock slaves…). The Rolling Stone article has gotten the guy running the sort-of-war, General So-and-So, in trouble with The Man for saying unflattering things about Obama and Joe Biden (The Man and The Man’s Man), two dudes whose expertise on running sort-of-wars is indisputable.

So now the White House has paged General So-and-So to come talk to them about the comments, and it may or may not cost the man running the sort-of-war in Afghanistan his job.

Can I just take a pause here and ask when … precisely when … did the content of rock magazines start literally shaping the running of America’s sort-of-wars? Why are generals appearing in Rolling Stone in the first place, (btw what he says is cold stone fascinating) while there’s a sort-of-war going on, talking smack about politicians? Is this a recruiting technique? And don’t the members of America’s ruling class have more important things to do than read Rolling Stone? Apparently not. Maybe going to sort-of-war is precisely the kind of thing they do to fill that insufferable gap between issues of Rolling Stone and Penthouse. Maybe the whole Afghanistanian thing could be over if Rolling Stone would just go daily.

Here’s a quote from the Washington Post that jumped out at me:

One soldier at the outpost showed … a written directive instructing troops to “patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourself with lethal force.”

Granted, its from the Washington Post, but let’s pretend it’s somehow true, and came from an officer. I’d have a hard time getting my head around that one. “Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourself with lethal force.” Like – the mall, for example? People rarely have to defend themselves with lethal force at the mall. The boys could patrol there, and might also enjoy watching the puppies in the window of the pet store.

Or – Starbucks. I know for a fact I’ve never had to defend myself with lethal force there. The boys (and girls, cuz lets face it gender equality is priority number one here at Launch Day headquarters) could relax in the air conditioning, and sip a mocha caramel frappasomething to get themselves amped up to get like totally unlethal.

Nonlethal Puppies

Here’s a picture of the type of store one might find at the mall where lethal force has rarely — if ever — been required. It would be safe to patrol here.

I wonder what the servicemen think of such orders — “Hey fellas, try to stick to the areas where you’re not gonna get shot at.” I mean, yeah, HELL yeah that’s what I’d be doing, but they’re not supposed to make it official, right? Still technically a war? You can’t ship a guy to Afghanistan, stick him in a tank, and then tell him to drive around but not get shot at. That’s just not … fair. Don’t the commanders historically say things like, “Go get ‘em, guys,” and the warriors kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out? Or has this changed from a war into some sort of sick, budget padding, vote garnering media event with too many ulterior motives to count — a sort-of-war — that we’ve come to basically accept as a fact of life, something happening “over there,” that we have no control over? It’s tough to know these days what’s real and what’s concocted by our keepers, more or less literally at the expense of the great unwashed’s (that’d be us) lives. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference anymore. That’s why I try to spend most of my time watching “Friends” reruns. Maybe it’s both a just cause and a cash cow, w/ our keepers cramming us dead and alive into one end of the cow, and pulling enormous taxpayer dollars out of the other end, but all in the name of something really important so we don’t feel quite so vacuous about the dead.

Anyways it’s just this sort of thing that always make me enjoy getting my serious sort-of-war news straight from the serious, no-nonsense journalistic folks at Rolling Stone, the same earnest keepers of America’s rich reporting traditions who every once in a while can set their bongs down long enough to also feature those other perennial (not perineal) newsmakers, Janet Jackson’s boobies.

Janet Jackson's Boobies

Janet Jackson's Boobies

Thanks, Rolling Stone, I can’t wait to read the story. You continue to do everything you can to flush America down the toilet so you can feel smug and make a few bucks. Y’know, that’s only cool when _I_ do it.

Meet the Wavves. Also – the Weezerdex

Fat Possum is a fascinating little label, best known (by me at least) for being the current home of the Black Keys. My crackerjack wikipedia skillz tell me the label’s based in Mississippi, & they (the label) got started by seeking out and signing the local blues talent. Big shock, right? A label that signs local talent? Whatever. It’s Mississippi, it’s blues, and I think that’s cool. They had a fancy music critic on board that helped them weed through the “talent” to find the good stuff. Like I said, that was all blues stuff. Now, I’m not sure what the label’s current drill is, as they seem to have branched out a bit from MIssissippi blues, but they have another band on roster called The Wavves. Wavves is/are fronted by a fella named Nathan Williams, and are California based (san diego, los angeles). They have a happening punk rock / surf sound /artnoise thing going on. Below is a cool video into the recording of their latest record at a Mississippi studio called “Sweet Tea.” Note the Fender Mustang. I’m a sucker for insider studio stuff like this. If the embed doesn’t work, click here to watch.

WAVVES @ SWEET TEA from Pete Ohs on Vimeo.

I’d also like to introduce a statistic I’m lovingly calling the Weezerdex. I wrote a valuable utility that fetches a band’s number of myspace friends, and divides it by Weezer’s number of myspace friends. The result gives you an idea of the band’s, um, “fame,” compared to Weezer’s. The Wavves register a 2.4 on the Weezerdex. That means they’ve got about 2.4% the number of myspace friends that Weezer has. (14,231 vs 570,852). Statisticians of the world: you’re welcome.

The Band: Wavves
Label: Fat Possum
Located: Southern California
Weezerdex: 2.4
last.fm/music/wavves, myspace.com/wavves

Btw – you can download the Wavves’ MP3 featured in that video here.

This game thing called “Rock Band”

I’ve never played the video game called “Rock Band.” I’m not even sure what it is entirely. It seems, to my eye — my old, out-of-date, ever-striving-towards-fullfillment eye which has long been jaundiced yellow by the grim realities of daily survival Survivor … wait I forget what I was saying. Oh yes – It seems like “Rock Band” the game is basically a souped-up version of “Dance Dance Revolution,” which I’ve mastered of course, I mean duh who doesn’t love Dance Dance Revolution.

Then there’s “Guitar Hero”, which, unlike Dance Dance Revolution and Rock Band, has those weird, uncomfortable TV ads featuring various male celebrities in their underwear playing with their toys. Those ads alone are enough to send me scurrying.

Anyways, I’m going to have to consult my 10-year-old on what this Rock Band thing is and why all the kids today are so pumped about it. Recent headlines announce that White Stripes, The Cure, and those timeless denizens of rockville Night Ranger (Sister Christian!) , as well as the Doors, and Jimi Hendrix (<respectful moment of Jimi silence> …. thank you) and countless others are in it. Oh and Metric, too, who let’s face it are downright catchy.

Here’s the announcement from game maker Harmonix –

We’re trying to draw the player in, and allow them the opportunity to develop skillz.

Because you KNOW skills is spelled with a ‘z’ in that quote.

The company making this thing is called Harmonix. No relation apparently to these guys, the pedal makers that used to be “old” but now are “vintage”?

Big Muff

Do yourself a favor. Go get Rock Band. I’m told there’s even a “Craigs List” easter egg in there somewhere where your life force gets sucked out of you while you look for a drummer.

Rock local

As many of you know, I never leave my house. Ensconced comfortably in the ivory towers of Launch Day headquarters, I watch — much as a benevolent dictator would — from on high as the common folk go about their daily business. In other words, I stalk a lot on facebook and youtube.

I do enjoy, occasionally, when diapers are in order, sitters arranged, payments made, logistics handled — a night out. Not one of those fake nights out, either, where you unwrap your food at McBurger’s and then plunk down 25 smackers to watch McMovie at McTheater. I mean an actual night out, one that involves interacting with humanity, connecting with local whatever, rocking the night away, with pretty lass (Mrs. Launch Day aka “trophy wife”) tucked under wing.

So every once in a while, that night out will be spent at one of a handful of stunning local music venues, close enough that I literally ride by bicycle past them daily. For some reason that tickles me to no end … me, my bicycle, a flower behind my ear, an invisible friend riding on my handlebars, riding past the same venues that may be entertaining us later that evening, or month, or year … hosting stellar artists, all for my entertainment pleasure, in more or less my back yard.

It’s all local, all good.

And this is the build up to my main point … 20 dollar ticketmaster service fees. By staying local, I never have to pay them. I roll up to the window on my way home, help my invisible friend off the handlebars, pop into the box office, buy my tickets, and skirt merrily on my way, nary a care in the world.

So I was shocked to peek in on tickets to see an artist at the Nokia, and boom there’s twenty dollars in Ticketmaster service fees. Wha? It feels downright violating. Tickets are only $25 bucks … “only,” ahem … and the service fees are $20. I remember the “old days,” when we complained bitterly about two dollar ticketmaster service fees. Clearly Ticketmaster is doing something wrong … I mean surely they should be getting at least as much as the face value of the ticket. If I’d pay 20, I’d pay 21, right? And if I’d pay 21, I’d pay 22, right? All the way up to 25. And beyond. They offer such a valuable service, too, which I may not be able to think of right now off the top of my head, but no doubt it’s indispensible. I mean no way could venues figure out how to sell something as complex as a ticket by themselves.

So, pphbt. No thanks.

I’ll stay local. I see coming up on the calendar … No Age, Thrice, The National, Dirty Projectors. Pretty incredible.

I know, I know. You’ve never heard of any of those bands. Trust me – each awesome, in it’s own way.

On Cubicles and Girls on Boats

We here at Launch Day headquarters — when we’re not busy shopping at Kohl’s, and being serious artists — like to “keep in touch,” as they say, with current events. By “keep in touch,” of course, we mean eavesdrop on our cubicle neighbors’ — or, “cubiceighbors” — conversations. Yes even at Launch Day we have cubicles. They’re just so DAMN CONVENIENT. How better can you place skilled workers into a managed, clean work environment and give them personal spaces to hang pictures of Pink Floyd and their 1.8 step-children that they’ve inherited for a few years along with their third marriage? You just wouldn’t be able to do it. Celebrate the half walls of tweed, peeps. Celebrate.

I forget what I was saying. Current events. Ah yes. Little Abby so-and-so, at the stripling age of sweet 16, is sailing her little boat around the world. In hurricane season, apparently. She got stuck. Which is great, because now it gives leering, middle aged news-site editors a perfectly acceptable reason to publish many enormous close-up shots (and videos!) of an extremely underage little dish in her swim trunks. God bless the news media and their black little lonely hearts. Whatever sells, right? That’s my motto, too!

I liked what her dad had to say regarding the suggestions that his daughter’s undertaking is dangerous. Let’s check in with Miss Abby so-and-so’s pop, who eats danger for breakfast and has personally crapped turds that are bigger and smarter than me –

“Sailing and life in general is dangerous. Teenagers drive cars. Does that mean teenagers shouldn’t drive a car?” Laurence Sunderland told the AP. “I think people who hold that opinion have lost their zeal for life. They’re living in a cotton-wool tunnel to make everything safe.”

Ah yes, our safe little cotton-wool tunnels. Soaks up zeal for life, 100% guaranteed! God bless you, sir. God bless you.

So people, let’s all take a lesson from today’s current events. Throw back the comfy blanky of your cotton-wool tunnel, spring from bed, spritz on your bottle of Zeal For Life, and do something downright snazzy. See how you feel later. Some of you, like little Abby so-and-so, might end up capsized in the Indian ocean with rescue fishing boats chugging towards you in a mere matter of days. Others of you might fail. Report back. You have your assignment.