CALLING IT A YEAR, FOLKS (A Metapost)

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2016-badLet’s just cut right to the chase, here: 2016 was a trying year. I’m not saying it was a bad year, per se; here we are, a bit less than two months to go, and looking back there seems to have been enough bummers to send even the most sunny smile-wearing optimist into a downward spiral of existential quandary.

Mentally picturing that last part I wrote just put a smile on my face. Excuse me for a bit while I regain my composure.

2016-good

There we go. Where were we, now? Oh, right.

I’m gonna call it a year right now, folks. I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of November. And no, I assure you it has nothing to do with any “Post-Halloween Depression”. It hasn’t been that bad this year, as a matter of fact. It’s just that, given the recent happenings in the ongoing dramady that is my life, I thought it prudent to take the rest of the year off to regroup, deal with the fallout that’s happening right now, and try and look forward to the near future. Namely, next year.

Without going into detail, there was another death in the family on Halloween night itself. As of this writing, tomorrow (November 5th) is the funeral. Then there’s the beginning of the period of the year I like to refer to as the “Holiday Clusterbomb”, which is always a stressful time, regardless of how much I try to not get involved with this superficial time of the year.

I’m just tired right now. I need to try and get things reorganized, especially with my writing, and get some kind of rhythm back on. Writing and posting on this blog, along with producing sessions of NECRO SHOCK RADIO have been my few outlets of creative joy in my life, something I haven’t been able to get back to as much as I’d like.

So, until the beginning of 2017 in a couple of months, I’m going to take the time to recoup a bit. Focus on finally finishing up the backlog of articles and reviews I’ve started but put on hold for whatever reason, then scheduling in advance for next year. Work on getting some Sessions of NSR in the can. Mind you, there will still be your periodic post here and there in the remaining weeks of 2016, mostly reviews of the new theatrical movie releases (there’s Doctor Strange, and also Rogue One with the Exalted Geeks on the docket) and the yearly OBLIGATORY YEAR END REVIEW post I try and get out on December 31st-ish. But for the time being, please excuse the proverbial radio silence from here on out.

If I’m still alive by the end of the year, I shall emerge again in 2017. Have a happy something-or-other, my wonderful freaks. And please disregard all the blood.

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On Worship Music…

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raise your sword to the power of metalIs there an unwritten rule that says that Christian music played before the actual service begins has to be of the emo-drenched acoustic variety? Maybe playing music to put you to sleep with helps to make the worship band seem exciting by contrast. Like having a local band open up for the national touring band. Or something. Point is, listening to this gives the unintentional impression that Christians have been de-nutted, that once you give your life to the risen Savior, you must now listen to and play sominex-style troubadours. Probably why I enjoy metal so much. Metal is the music of awesome, the perfect style befitting my warrior soul. When storming the darkness on a daily basis, I’d rather have Horde’s Hellig Usvart or Frost Like Ashes’ Tophet blaring as the soundtrack, rather than wuss music. Then again, that’s just my opinion. Not a very popular one, I realize, but again…bite me…

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Slacker Radio & Old Man Problems…

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downloadThe way Slacker Radio chooses songs for their “stations” make no bloody sense whatsoever. I wanted a good industrial mix, so I typed “Nine Inch Nails” in the search engine, and it brought up “Head Like A Hole” off of Pretty Hate Machine. Good start. So I settle back, take in the song on my headphones, curious as to what was going to come up next. Instead of an industrial-flavored mix, the next song was a Deftones song. A Deftones song. So I utilize my skip option. The next artist is – Soundgarden. Feh. Okay, I figure they were going for the “alternative” angle. So I type in “Ministry”. They bring up and play “Halloween Everyday”. Interesting choice, but okay. I can dig it. Song ends, and the next band is…Pantera? A-whaaaa? How is Pantera even a logical choice to follow early 80s electronic mope rock? I just…there is no rhyme or reason to the whole thing.

Never had that problem with Last FM. Only, to play the stations on my mobile device, I need to pay for the premium service or something. Jerks. When I need my fix I need my fix. At least their comedy and METAL stations are decent.

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Jimmy John’s Is Offensive…to one guy…enjoy your sammich…

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Jimmy John's Is Offensive...to one guy...enjoy your sammich...Keeping up with my brain droppings is a day-to-day shifting thing. Most of the time, I spend a lot of thought, mulling over what to say, and how to say it. Mostly jotting stuff down in a spiral notebook I always have with me. Think of a topic, let my mind run roughshod for a while, try to sweep things into a manageable pile for the posting. This process could take hours, days, sometimes weeks to squeeze into a manageable brain dropping. And sometimes – it’s rare, but it happens – something drops into my proverbial lap out of nowhere, begging to be given the ol’ blog treatment. Something that, when it happens, it causes me to raise my arms and shout, “I am SO BLOGGING THIS!”

This is one of those blog posts.

See, for those of you not in the know, I used to work at a Jimmy John’s in the town of Fremont in Eastern Nebraska. Jimmy John’s, as you may or may not know, has some of the more quirky commercials out there. It’s important that you know that, trust me. Today at work, we received a call from a guy who wished to speak to the manager. So I handed the phone to our illustrious GM, and over the course of the call the looks on his face were rather…interesting. To say the very least. After he hung up, he burst into giggles, then repeated what he went through.

Seems this particular gentleman was sitting at home, watching his television, minding his own business and having a jolly good time, when on came a Jimmy John’s commercial that he described as “All in Chinese and not translated to English”, and because of this, he was offended. To the point of no longer patronizing Jimmy John’s. Ever. Again. No, seriously, he meant it. Oh, and he also wanted my boss to pass this grievance on to the Corporate Offices.

Now, since I don’t have network television (I was one of the few who never got into the whole Digital Converter Box thing when analog TV went bye-bye last year, nor do I have cable / satellite, and probably never will), I rarely get to see any of the commercials that air for the Sandwich Juggernaut that I proudly toil for. However, I am willing to bet that, instead of Chinese, the gentleman probably meant Japanese. Mainly because, when you’re going for quirky advertising, you don’t get much more quirky than Japan. And as such, he was probably subjected to THIS COMMERCIAL HERE, as a cursory search on YouTube provided.

Truthfully, the only way I can see anyone being offended by this commercial is at the end, where the JJ logo uses “Engrish”. But, no, the offensiveness of the commercial, according to the guy calling the store, was because it wasn’t translated into English. Or, I’m just speculating here, used subtitles. Possibly to understand what they were saying. Because, as he also pointed out to our store’s long-suffering GM, we translate stuff for the illegal immigrants, but not for us proper English talkers. I’m just guessing that’s how he worded it, there. Blogger Exaggeration License.

A more politically minded individual would probably expound on this, either in a Conservative or Liberal standpoint. Heck, I’m pretty sure in some places in the great Blogosphere that we dwell in, this particular individual in my neck of the woods would probably be lauded as a hero of American values taking a stand for what’s right. Or, on the other side of the coin, a perfect example of how shallow and intellectually vapid these hateful Midwest dwellers are. Or something. Eh, I’m not political. I use satire and sarcasm on everything I think is absurd, political, religious, sociological, and all points in-between. And that includes this little incident that happened at my Jimmy John’s store. There’s nothing deep, nothing allegorical, nothing profound, really, about this particular Brain Dropping here. Just wanted to share, is all.

So, I thank you, sir, for bringing a smile to my and my coworkers’ face. And friends, if you really want to feel better about your own lives, co’mon down to Fremont, Nebraska some time for a brief visit, and experience the uniqueness that is Fremont, Nebraska. And before you leave, stop by Jimmy John’s, and say “hi” to the poor saps that still work there…

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Nevermind The 20 Year Anniversary

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Nevermind The 20 Year Anniversary

Back in August of 2012, I bought a copy of the Omaha World-Herald, the local daily newspaper here where your Uncle NecRo dwells. I normally don’t buy the Omaha World-Herald. Like a lot of wired heads like myself, I get much of my news from the World Wide Inter-webs, along with my much needed comics fix. But, while getting my morning allotment of caffeine at the gas station that morning, the upper left-hand corner of this long-time printed rag had a picture of Kurt Cobain, deceased singer / guitarist of Nirvana (in case you’ve forgotten), with the sub-headline “The Band That Rocked The Music World” advertising the story for the Living Section.

“Great,” I immediately thought. “More media wankering over this over-rated band.” Bad enough I had to associate with coworkers – most of whom weren’t even born when Nevermind was released back in 1991 – practically worshiping at the worm-eaten feet of this dead rock star, throwing hissy fits when even the most trivial of critical disparagement are made of the band, to say nothing of Kurt Cobain himself.

So I bought the paper, to read the articles. Blame my addiction to pop culture trivia. This time it only cost me 75 cents. And it came with comics.

This particular article – titled The Band That Changed The Course Of Modern Music, in all caps, which had the effect of making it hard to keep my just-consumed waffles settled – dealt with the 20 year anniversary of the release of Nevermind, the album that broke the band from relative obscurity to pop stardom. As expected, the pieces gushed about how awe-inspiring the album was, the genius of the band, and how its release basically changed music forever. The article did, however, stop short of saying how Nevermind ushered in a Utopian peace, bringing together everyone in the world and doing away with war, famine and the Republican party [citation needed].

It sounds like I have nothing but contempt for Nirvana and that album. I don’t. Matter of fact, I consider it a good rock album, with decent songs – mostly I gravitate to the non-single cuts. What I don’t understand is how this is lauded as the big “savior of rock” album, more so than, say, Jane’s Addiction. Jane’s Addiction took what Nirvana did, and did it better years before Nevermind was recorded.

The first to break the so-called Seattle music scene? Hardly. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains all had major label debuts long before Nirvana. Sure, the successful sales of Nevermind helped boost the awareness of the others, but it may have had more to do with marketability than artistic exposure.

Ushered in the “alternative rock revolution”? Again, no. Since the dawn of rock music, there’s always been bands and artists that have shirked the accepted norm and produced music that was off the beaten path. Every generation has that alternative band that has had at least a modicum of mainstream exposure. For me, in the 1980s, one of those was R. E. M.’s Green album.

No, the only thing I can think of to explain the massive popularity of Nirvana and their big breakthrough with Nevermind is that, what it boils down to is that it was there at the right place at the right time. 1991 was definitely a year of paradigm shifts, at least in the music landscape. The whole hair rock and slick pop of that time was played out, and along comes this scruffy band of misfits with a different take on rock n’ roll. Nevermind was, as a friend of mine pointed out after reading the rough draft of this little blog post of mine, a zeitgeist. A general shift in music sensibilities. Something different from the tired norm.

So, happy anniversary, Nevermind. I’m probably not going to buy the box set re-release, but I do have the album on MP3 ripped from my now-missing copy. So, maybe I’ll listen to that once or twice. Otherwise, to all of you out there who consider Nevermind on-par with, say, Rubber Soul by The Beatles, well…enjoy it immensely…

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Remembering the Great Junk Food Wars of 2012…

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Remembering the Great Junk Food Wars of 2012...It’s been a few years now, I believe, since this amusing set of circumstances started. I can’t recall whether it was the Oreo cookie that fired the first shot, or the Chick-Fil-A chain of fast food chicken sammiches, but the Great Cold War of the Early 21st Century is still going pretty…strong? Is that the correct word to use? Maybe it’s my lack of actually caring either way, but I don’t know if people are still being polarized about whatever stigma they assign to what. And up to now, I’ve been successful in maintaining my distance, my neutrality if you will, and take all these goings on in with the same and equal amount of critical satire this whole farce is leading up to.

And quite frankly, I don’t feel the need to weigh in. To take sides as explicitly as everyone seems to think we all should. I’m usually weary of anything that the media decides is what they’re going to saturate all of us with, and this whole thing is no different.

You might be saying to yourself there, “Hey, aren’t you a Christian, Uncle NecRo? Shouldn’t you be siding with the Chick-Fil-A crowd?” And if you’re saying that out loud, chances are you look rather ridiculous, so please stop. Yes, I am a Christian. Gave my life to Christ Jesus in 1989, came out of the closet as a Christian in 1992 (to borrow a phrase from the gay community, there…you can have our rainbows, if we can at least use some of your stuff, okay?), and have been unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever since. I’m not perfect by any means, but that’s another blog post for another day. Just wanted to make sure we’re very very clear on this point before I continue on with the ramblings.

Also…must resist urge to quote from Animaniacs…harder than it looks…

Quite frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re boycotting Chick-Fil-A, and giving all of your time and money to either KFC, Popeye’s, or whatever else chicken chain is out there. Is El Pollo Loco still a thing? Anyway, I also don’t care if you’ve sworn off of Oreo cookies, opting instead to waste your money on those nasty Oreo knock-off brands that aren’t even close to being an Oreo, but apparently are good enough to feed your children in every Vacation Bible School in America, along with copious amounts of watered-down “orange drink”. And I’m sure I just triggered a bunch of childhood acid flashbacks there. You’re welcome.

This isn’t my first rodeo, peeps. I recall waaaaaaay back to my childhood, when my church was passing around a petition to keep The Last Temptation Of Christ from being played at the Fremont cinemas. That’s Fremont, Nebraska to those of you who’ve never stepped foot outside of California, there (I hear it’s nice). And yes, I admit I got caught up in that whole “Boycott Disney” thing in the 1990s. Par for the course. Time and temperament has given me more of a stay back and watch how this all plays out mentality about these things. And why is that?

Because I really have better things to do than give in to guilt and manipulation into causes that I really don’t think are that effective to begin with. Look at the image I decided to use up there. You can clicky-click on it to make it larger and read. See that? I think it’s way too easy for us American Christians, and Americans in general, to be caught up in caught up in causes that, while noble in origin, the execution of which leaves something to be desired. That’s why we have idiotic things like “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” (you can thank Mike Huckabee for that; fortunately, I didn’t get the memo), and the much more amusing-sounding “Suck Face With The Same Gender In Front Of A Chick-Fil-A Day” (I totally made the name up, but it actually was a thing, I swear).

I’ve decided a long while back that trying to be a good influence and positive male role model for my nephews was far more important. I find myself concerned more for serving others, which grows year by year, as imperfect a servant I am. I’m far more concerned with my own sinful wretch of a self, which is the result of the Holy Spirit growing closer, and clinging to the Grace that GOD gave us all through Christ Jesus. I am definitely far more concerned about letting my friends, associates and family members (and enemies, though I have no idea who they are) who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and whatever else I’m forgetting on account of the caffeine finally beginning to wear off, know that, not only is it possible for us to disagree entirely with each other concerning this and still respect and love each other, but even if you curse me, seek to destroy me, beat me down and never ever give your own life to Christ Jesus yourself, I will still serve you unconditionally, because the Holy Spirit within me compels me to do so. I have no choice in the matter. Believe me, I’ve tried to find ways out of it.

So, believe me when I say, I probably will never eat at a Chick-Fil-A again any time soon. Not because of some shallow political posturing, but because KFC is way more METAL than any chicken shop out there.

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Some early morning ranting coming your way…

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Some early morning ranting coming your way……that above image is something that I saw on the back of a car the other day on my way to work. Right in front of me. I forget the make and model of the car, and really that’s not that important. Usually I see bumper stickers, buttons and shirts like these and get maybe a chuckle out of ‘em. I have a live and let live policy when it comes to sloganeering like this. This is still the America I love, and that means freedom of speech all the way, baby, no matter how much I disagree with it. Besides, it’s not like we Christians have a corner on cheesy bumper sticker theology. It may seem like it, to be honest, but we don’t. They’re everywhere, from all walks of life. Personally, I’ve moved on from having such kitsch define my faith, but I remember when it did. Everyone goes through such a phase, methinks, in their journey of life.

No, what set my teeth on edge seeing this rather pretentious slogan adorning the back end of this vehicle was that, once again, Jesus was regulated to a means to an end. This is speculation on my part, but it seems to me that most of those who would have this kind of thing usually don’t have anything to do with Jesus, until it would suit their purposes. Again, nothing new. Even the Disciples themselves didn’t understand Jesus’ purpose here on Earth beyond a means to their personal ends. So, like a lot of things I’ve come to find after twenty-six years of following my Lord and Savior, seeing this happening today doesn’t surprise me.

No, I would suspect that the so-called “real Jesus” espoused on the bumper sticker there is merely a Convenient Jesus. One you can trot out of the dusty attic of your hollow idealistic philosophies when He suits you. Someone you really don’t need to believe in; no, this Jesus will NEVER make you confront your own sinful nature! You don’t need to do anything as silly as repent, or even believe in a GOD. No, This Jesus is there only to put an exclamation point to your own self-righteous and shallow indignation. More than likely to divert attention that you’re a sad, hypocritical wretch like I was, in desperate need of salvation and forgiveness. But no, that won’t do for your ego, right?

Deep breaths, here. I pray that the individual driving that car does discover the Real Jesus. The Jesus that’s beyond all of our politics, who was GOD made flesh to dwell among all of us, who said things like “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” The Real Jesus who wishes that not one would perish, but would come to know Salvation through his sacrifice on the cross. The Real Jesus that was resurrected three days later after our own sin nailed him to that ancient pagan torture and death device to make him suffer and die for having the audacity to love us.

The Real Jesus forgives you, for you know not what you do.

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