Monday, October 31, 2011

Technologically limping along

I need a new laptop or netbook. I have been without either of these for some months now. It is an annoyance not having them. Yes, at one time I had both and a few months ago rendered both of them pretty much inoperable at the same time. It was a rather stupid accident which occurred as a result of a random and rapid demonstration of frustrated anger. I'm fortunate that I still have regular access to computers and the intarweebs but the absence of mobility and convenience of my portables is starting to bug me just a bit. I use the work computers but they suck. I have a desktop at home and my fiance also has an Mac laptop so I'm not completely unconnected. Oh yeah, and I have my PS3 and my iPhone but I miss my laptops! What was that you asked? Oh, HOW did I render them inoperable? Well... There was this table in the living room. My fiance and I were having a disagreement. I was getting rather upset and frustrated and slammed my fists on the table, as men are wont to do in arguments (I'm not saying that this is acceptable behaviour, but it happens). However, my tangled mind forgot that the table had a glass top. I know, you're asking, "how could you not realize it was a glass top?" Well, there was a cover over the table that's why. And angry mind ignores rational mind when its riled up, so I'm sure rational mind was saying, "Don't hit the damn table. It might break. Your computers are on it and it's a long way down to the floor." (It was a rather high table.) But with the cover over it the table LOOKED solid and since angry mind was all pumped up rational mind could not be heard over angry mind screaming, "Hulk smash!!" Fists rose up and slammed down with a satisfying bang, then a millisecond later, CRASH! That glass wasn't cheap thin glass either. I'm not bragging. It was thick glass. I realized this as I picked up the shards and sharp chunks of it. And to put some minds at ease, my fiance found this male display of anger amusing. She laughed which actually diffused the whole situation. We were going to get rid of the table anyway. But I felt like a complete stupid ass, partly because I lost it for a second and broke the table, but mostly because my computers were on the damn thing when I did. Oh well. So, now I'm stuck to sucky work computers, an old desktop I had to clean up that still limps along, and a mac that I don't really like.

Lesson: Control your temper. There is always a negative consequence to succumbing to anger. I'm still working on it. Have been since I was a kid. I'm getting better.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Top 5 Dead Or Alive

The list every rap fan has. The most debated and argued over. I'm sure some fights have started and friendships have ended over certain lists. For the longest time my list has been comprised of the top Emcees from my youth. I realize that is no longer a fair comparison for today's conversation on who's the nicest in the game. I'm an old school cat. My list was strictly Emcees, no rappers. Shit, my current list is still Emcees but I'm saying. For those not in the know let me make this distinction clear: All Emcees are rappers but not all rappers are Emcees. I'm an east coast Hip Hop head but also a huge admirer of music of all kinds, so I'm not limited to my region of growth, though I was when I was younger when it came to rap music. I've since grown and have a huge appreciation of rap from all regions around the world, as long as it's good, I'm good. I'm big on lyrics and lyricism and intelligence so most pop-rap is crap-rap to me. Hey, I told you I'm old school. I'm from the era when rap was NOT mainstream and the damn U.S. government was having Senate meetings and such to try and shut rap down. Yeah. Youngin's today have know idea about that!

Anyways, to my lists. Yes that's plural. I don't just have a T5DoA list because there are just too many excellent emcees out there. The kulture and it's music has expanded so much since it's beginnings that 5 is just not realistic. Let's start with my original list:

Big Daddy Kane
MC Lyte
Chuck D

Obvious why this is my list, right? Also completely unfair to modern emcees and rappers to make comparisons to them, right. Each of these cats is truly a GOD MC now. Also they each can still kill the mic and still produce music today. They are for all intents and purposes above the ranking. Also those I think are above the ranking are: L. L. Cool J, The Fresh Prince Will Smith, Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Q-Tip, Guru, and Queen Latifah. I feel I'm missing someone but I'm writing this off the dome so forgive me.

So, that's the GOD MC list. Next I think I'll make a list of the Legendary MC's which are right below GOD status but almost there and just above the running for the t5doa list.

Pharoahe Monch
Black Thought
Ghostface Killa
Method Man
Busta Rhymes
Heavy D
Chubb Rock

I'll leave it at ten. Honorable mentions here for Biggie, Pac, and Big Pun since, you know, they're gone.
Now the next list is current cats that have been out for a while. Still hot and making moves in some ways but not youngin's anymore. Legendary or damn near, at least to me.

Mos Def
Talib Kweli
Kanye West
Nas (I'm not a huge fan or admirer but respect is given.)
Snoop Doggy Dog
DMX (Not current but dude took the game for a few years and held it in a chokehold. Huge fan)
Ludacris (Hugely underrated!)
Andre 3000
Big Boi
Royce da 5'9"
RZA (As a producer he's above this ranking but this is strictly emceeing right now.)
Missy Elliot
Freddie Foxxx aka. Bumpy Knuckles

Again I know I'm missing some more but this is good for now. Next is cats that have been in the game for a while but are recently making a buzz and younger cats that have been out for a minute.

Sean Price (Ruck from Heltah Skeltah. Been on his solo thing for a few now and he's MAD NICE!)
Jean Grae (Viciously nice! Very very few are messing with Jeanie-Jean lyrically!!!)
Lupe Fiasco
Naledge (from Kidz in the Hall)
Black Milk
Lil' Wayne (He started so damn young! He should be one up but I'm still putting him here. Sleep or hate if you want, shorty can spit.)
Fat Joe (Scoff if you want but few Emcees have consistently improved over time like Joey Crack!)
Joell Ortiz
Joe Budden
Crooked I
Immortal Technique
50 Cent
Beanie Sigel
Pusha T (one half of the Clipse. He's spittin' hard right now!)

There are more but you get the drift. Now onto the new jacks. I don't really keep up with many 'cause I am probably officially an old head as far as Hip-Hop and rap music is concerned. I try and keep my ears open for what's nice by my standards. Here you go.

J. Cole (His 'official' studio album is on the cusp of dropping but the mixtapes and guest shots show shorty is nice lyrically. The proof is he got signed by Jay. Looking forward to the album.)
Drake (I'm back and forth with this kid but he's nice. I think J. Cole is better but he's cool.)
Nicki Minaj (She. Can. Spit. )
Cory Gunz (He's been around for a minute and probably would have blown up a while ago if his father wasn't screwing up his business. Kind of sorry for a father to be so obviously jelly of his son's talent. Check the show 'Son of a Gun' to see what I mean. But he's down with Weezy's click now so I can't wait for his official studio album debut. He is nice on the mic!)
Diggy Simmons (Who saw that coming?! Shorty got skills! 2nd generation stand up!)

There's a bunch of new jacks out there signed and making music but, again, I'm not really current with them. I know the names, i.e.: Whiz Kalifa, Yelawolf, Wale, Kid Cudi, Cyhi the Prince, etc. but I haven't heard enough from them to be impressed.

SO, these are my humble opinions on the T5DoA discussions. But if you must have a list of five I'll give you my current 5 favorites:

Royce da 5'9"
Pharoahe Monch
Sean Price

These cats are on heavy rotation on my Zune (yeah ZUNE!) at all times, and on backup duty on my iphone when the Zune runs out of juice.

If you want to comment go for it. I look forward to the ranting and raving!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I met John Scalzi

Yes, I actually found myself in the presence of the Scalzorc and lived to tell the tale. [Click on that link for awesomeness.] ;-) Seriously, a few weeks ago I went to a reading at the NYPL where Mr. Scalzi, along with Cat Valente, Lev Grossman, and Scott Westerfeld, were giving readings. This occasion was the NYPL's effort to support those who write and enjoy Speculative Fiction. The event was titled, Speculating on Fiction. Isn't that wonderfully telling? These authors all happened to be on book signing tours for their respective new releases. I've been an admirer of Mr. Scalzi's for some time now. Just recently became aware of Cat and knew Lev and Scott by name only. Cat had a really cool publicity promotion for her new book where she wrote some small essay type tales that dealt with her new book which were posted on several of the websites of the venues she stopped at along her tour. I read them all in sequence. They were pretty cool and they worked 'cause I bought the book. However, the main draw for me for this shindig was John. I've been a follower of his online shenanigans, mostly documented here. What I like most about John is not only is he an excellent writer of many things but he also is a huge fan and proponent of SF and intelligence. He showcases other writers on Whatever along with his thoughts, journeys, and insights. Cool dude. And he is a proud Geek! And a very entertaining one as well. For his reading at the NYPL gathering he decided to read a short little tale he wrote as an April Fool's joke for the world. He regaled us with the tale of how the whole thing came about. (I will not reiterate it here for it is well documented on Whatever here.) Then he read us this most epic of epic beginnings the likes of which fantasy has never seen nor will it ever again! Also of note was that he was pretty much hoarse and yet he still gave an excellent performance. And it was a performance, not a reading. This guy is super animated in a good way, he loves what he does and it shows. I like that. He was on tour for Fuzzy Nation, which I bought and will read very soon, and I also bought Cat's new book, "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" and Lev's, "The Magicians". The Magicians came out last year and Lev is touring for the sequel The Magician King but I figured since I was just being introduced to his work I'd start with the first one. All the readings were wonderful and all of the books were signed by the authors so I am a happy Dragun. Oh and look:

That is John Scalzi next to the Awesome Afro!

(Note the dark background. The NYPL was closing on us and they weren't playing! They shut off the lights in the middle of the meet and greet. Good thing the flash was working! I got my pic and my signatures so I'm good. I'll meet him again.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting things back together. And an awesomely stupid crash.

Hello again friends. I know. I'm so inconsistent. I'm working on it. Finally went back to Aikido last Wednesday. Damn it felt good to be in the dojo again. It's been almost two years since I'd been on the mats and I've missed it the whole time but life must be dealt with and some things must suffer sometimes. I've been through a lot since then but I'm getting back on track and slowly building my focus. I will not be taking a hiatus from Aikido like that again any time soon. Along with school that is another focus of mine. Next targets are my writing and getting my money earning capabilities sharp. This job shit is just not going to cut it for much longer.

Anyways, I wanted to write about my day today, well, yesterday. Sunday morning. Woke up to a rather heated disagreement with my lady, whom will be referred to as Pixie from now on. She went to work and I just tried to calm myself and chill. She calls after a while. She forgot her socks and could I please bring them. Yup, no problem. She doesn't work that far from where we live, so, I decide to ride over there on her bike. Her bike is better than mine, lighter, faster, and more expensive. Riding downhill I let my concentration wander. How, were you wondering? WELL! Let me tell you. I realized that the volume was too low on my Zune and decided to turn it up. I looked down for only a second but that's all it takes. I looked up at the coming intersection and saw the light was yellow and realized I should slow down before I got there. This was an intelligent decision since I was moving fast and couldn't tell if there were cars waiting at the opposing lights. However, this super-efficient bike I was on was way more responsive than my way cheaper and much heavier mountain bike. So, I hit the brake for the rear tire and it starts to slew sideways, the bike begins to shake and wobble. My brain says, "Hey stupid, put your other hand on the fucking handle bars and control this shit!" But see, even though that was another very intelligent decision it also came a bit too late. I was really coasting, downhill remember, and by the time my Zune filled hand barely touched the handle bar it was already way too late. So, with this super-efficient, speedy, and expensive machine wobbling exponentially out of control between my legs, I try and control the fall somehow. We will now defer to my brain's take on the resulting event(The speed of thought is an amazing thing.): "You dumb fuck. Oh shit. We're going down. This shit is going to hurt bad. REALLY BAD!! Try not to get tangled in the bike. I can't jump clear. Oh shit, I'm going to hit that car. Turn the wheel, damnit, don't hit the car with the wheel dead on! Goodohshitthisisgonna..." BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Aaaauuuggghh...." Then I laugh hysterically at myself as several witnesses to my colossal fuck up ask me if I'm okay. I hit that car hard. I tell them all, "Yeah, I'm alright," and I look to make sure I didn't damage the car, then check the bike, then feel the pain. Jacked up my left knee and my whole upper left torso, which is unfortunately an area that has been previously damaged rather seriously. However, self assessment revealed that I wasn't broken, so, I composed myself, just a tad bit shaken, and continue on my delivery of socks.

Delivery made, Pixie happy, I make my way home. Shower, clean and patch my knee and make my way to Aikido!! I still went for two reasons. 1: I said I would make it and I honor my word. Sunday's are a relatively new addition to the schedule and attendance is the determiner of Sunday classes. 2: I have just rededicated myself to the pursuit of Aikido and nothing is getting in the way of that. Not even very recent minor injuries. The only pain I felt was my knee, because it really did get hurt. I think the pedal rammed against it, or more accurately my knee jammed against the pedal and tore it up a bit. But aside from that, class was awesome. The two black belts there, Steve and Jesse, did me the honor of going over all of the basic moves I learned so long ago and a few more that would most likely show up on my next test. I was immensely humbled and pleased. I really like Aikido.

My knee is sore and my left shoulder and down the back on my left side is not quite killing me but it hurts. I'm good though. Aikido tonight. I'll be ready. That was most of my day. Met Pixie as she got off work, we went home, talked, I crashed, she made dinner and woke me up in time to eat and go to work. I like my life. It could be better and it will be but it really could be a lot worse. Enjoy your life my friends. This one my be your best.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I saw KODO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Pharoahe Monch!!! for my Bornday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(This is late but I had to finish it.)

So, here's the deal. I've been a fan of the music group/Drum troupe KODO since 1995. They've been around a bit longer than that but that's when they jumped on my radar. They're awesomeness stood out to me in a film full of awesomeness titled, 'The Hunted'. This was a modern film dealing with a samurai/ninja feud with a gaijin thrown in the middle.

I LOVE THIS MOVIE! And in this awesome movie is an awesome scene in which KODO is playing a live performance in the park. And they are playing a piece which to this day is still my favorite, Irodori.

(A different performance of the same piece.)

Pure awesomeness! [I know I keep using that word. However, it does mean what I think it means. Trust me. ;-)] So, after witnessing that awesomeness I HAD to 'hunt' (hee hee) down the score/soundtrack to this movie. And what do I find?!!! Not only did KODO have that piece in the film that they performed live but their music WAS the score of the film. I must say it again. PURE AWESOMENESS!!!! So, needless to say, I've been a fan since, tracking down albums and getting new ones as they are released over the years. Now I've always wanted to see them perform live but they do world tours periodically. Oh, it is understood that they're Japanese right? Okay, just making sure. Oh, and they're style of music is centered on the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko? They're based on Sado Island in Japan. The name KODO means two things: 1 Heartbeat and 2 Children of the Drum. How awesome is that?! Anyway to learn more about them visit their website here.

SO, they were touring the States again this year and near my Bornday, so I said, I AM GOING! I'd only ever seen them perform on video and this was an opportunity I couldn't miss. Especially for my Bornday!! One word: AWESOMENESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are few things as awesome and satisfying as watching people perform fully focused on what they are doing. I am a huge admirer of live performance and just love watching people who love what they do and are fully dedicated and focused on it. To watch Flow is simply amazing and the KODO players at Lincoln Center that night were Flowing and on point! I was glowing for days after that. Shit, I'm still glowing from the memory!

A few days later, MORE AWSOMENESS!!! I go see Pharoahe Monch, a most prolific, intelligent, and excellent Emcee! He had just recently released his new album W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) and was having an album release concert. I had already been listening to the album for a few days so I was ready! The album is pure awesomeness justincaseyouwerewondering. Opening the show was a new kid on Duck Down from New Zealand, I can't remember his name. Then Skyzoo came out and tore the damn stage down! Kid is mad nice on the mic and he knows how to rock a crowd. Needs way more shine than a lot of the punks out today. Anyways, BOOM!, it's Pharoahe time! Pharoahe is mad nice!!!! The album is tight, stage presence is tight, DJ and backup singers are tight! The show was off da hook! Had special guests bless the stage, Immortal Technique (Mad nice!), The Ghost Styles P (D-Block!!! mad nice!), E-40 was in the house just to pay respect to Monch, and of course JEAN GRAE(supa-dupa mad nice!!!!!)!!!!!!! I had a great time. Of course Pharoahe closed the show with one of the biggest club bangaz in rap/Hip-Hop: Simon Says! C'mon son! Everyone in the spot was jumpin' and hollerin' along! I didn't have no voice after that show, which is the way it's supposed to be.

(The first video from W.A.R. Awesome!)

The day after my Bornday I hung out with my bestabuddy, my spirit-brother, David. We went to a whiskey bar called The Whiskey Ward. They have an entire menu of single malt whiskeys, and other things as well. But we were there for the single malts and boy did we partake! Great time.

This is one of the more awesome Bornday year's I've had. [Here's pictures!] Two awesome concerts with my Pixie and hanging with my best friend. Few things are better. Enjoy yourselves!