Yellow Lightning

Just a short (~2 pages printed) story I wrote for my mom for Mother’s Day.

“Mom! I’m going with Rob to his house to get supplies!”
Mrs. Conway looked up from her desk. The clock said 11:30.
“Danny, come in here.”
“But Mom, I hafta hurry!,” he yelled back.
“Hurry where?,” she asked as she walked down the hall, only to find him in his Sunday clothes standing in the half-open front door.
“Close that door until we finish talking. It’s almost lunchtime, and where do you think you are going dressed like that?”
“Rob’s mom is makin’ lunch, we’re opening a lemonade stand. Gotta dress nice for the customers.”
Mrs. Conway rolled her eyes. “Okay, go on. But please don’t you mess up those nice clothes.”
“I won’t Mom. Don’t worry,” Danny trailed off as he shot out the door, leaving it open.
Faye Conway sighed as she closed the door. She called Rob’s mother Carol to make sure Danny would be home for supper.

Danny and Rob took their “power lunch” of bologna sandwiches and milk to the back stoop where they had already laid out their supplies.
“We need a good name, first thing. Something to catch the eye of investors,” Rob explained.
“And a logo and a slogan,” Danny said as he chewed the sandwich. “Gotta have a good slogan that sticks in their mind.”
The two sat and ate, brainstorming for the perfect name. Finally, they found it as they finished lunch.

Rob took the dishes in, and set to work on getting the lemonade ready, along with the ice and cups. Meanwhile, Danny got to work drawing up the sign and the logo. They agreed to work on proposals for a slogan and set it down when they got done.

Two hours later Rob was laughing as he plopped down on the back stoop. He looked at the sign.
“Yellow Lightning(TM)” the sign on the top, next to a bright lightning bolt hitting a big wet glass of lemonade with a lemon sticking out the top.
“It really looks great Danny,” Rob said. “What did you think up for the slogan?”
“Well I thought with the lightning, we could use ‘It’s so sweet it’ll shock your feet.'”
Rob frowned. “I don’t think people want to think of their feet when they think of lemonade. The best one I have is ‘Take a minute in the sunshine with Yellow Lightning.'”
The two thought it over, and spat out some new ideas they came across before they arrived at ‘Yellow Lightning — Something to wash those storm clouds down.’
Danny italicized it on the sign below the logo and name, and Rob loaded up the wagon.

Down at the corner Jeff, Will, Cameron, Beth, and George were already waiting for them.
“What took you so long?,” George asked them. “It’s already four. You guys missed the busiest part of the day.”
Danny looked over at Rob and smiled.
“Well you’ll have plenty of time tomorrow and every day if you win the auction. But before all that, my colleague would like to say something.”
Rob jumped on top of the wagon. He quickly pretended to straighten his clip-on tie.
“As I’m sure you all know, you get out of a business what you put in. But everyone knows that. What you need is an edge. An image. You’re not just selling the product. You’re selling you. An image of yourself.
“What we have for you is a name, a sign, and the recipe. Sure, it’s late in the day, but I’ll show you all, right now. Behold the power of…Yellow Lightning.”

Rob and Danny set up the wagon as a table, the sign in front. The next ten cars that stopped, they offered a free cup. Each of them bought a second, and some a third cup, for fifty cents.
The group of potential buyers was amazed.

“That concludes the demo. But we’d like to give each of you a free glass before the bidding starts,” Rob said. He handed each of the children a cup of lemonade.
“We will open—,” Danny started. He stopped himself and jumped up on the wagon. He began again. “We’ll start the bidding at $35.”
“None of us got that kind of money,” George protested.
“Well maybe we shouldn’t do it as a regular auction then. If you guys pool the money you got, become partners like Rob and I did, we can negotiate it. Like my associate has said, you get out what you put in.”

The group moved to the side and huddled together. George walked back over to Rob and Danny.
“We’ll give you $40.”
Rob looked up slowly to George’s eyes.
“$50.”
George glanced back at the other children.
“$45, that’s fair.”
Danny shook his head. “We made over $8 in just half an hour, not even at the peak! You said so. You guys would make that back in less than a week. Maybe even one day if it’s hot enough.”
George relented.
“Okay, $50.”

Rob handed George the sign, along with a slip of paper that had the recipe on it. Danny packed up the wagon.

It was only five when Danny got home.
“I figured you’d stay out there until Dad had to come get you, Danny,” Mrs. Conway said. “The way you were when you left I was sure you had the blood of a businessman in you.”
Danny smiled at his mom. “We sold the business,” he told her. “I made $29.”
“Wow. All in an afternoon, honey? You are a businessman. Who did you sell it to?”
“The other kids bought us out. They saw how much money we were making. It’s a good thing though. That market is getting tough.”
“Why do you say that, son?”
“Rob’s dad was all out of vodka.”

A Word on Audio

If you make a video or audio clip and put it on the internet for general consumption, please make sure there are two channels of audio if it’s stereo.

Why? Because it’s very fucking unsettling to listen to stereo audio that only has either the left or right channel through headphones.

It gives the sensation of being deaf in one ear. You hear fine in one ear, and nothing but some static in the other. The logical conclusion for the brain to make is “hey, something is preventing my hearing in the other ear and I don’t like it.”

I can understand. You use speakers. You can hear one-channel stereo audio from both ears when it comes out of a speaker, because the sound is not directed only to one ear. Maybe most people use speakers. But I don’t, and some other people don’t, and it’s a completely trivial and simple thing to mirror the channel you have over both channels so that I don’t go crazy when I view your video clip.

Thanks.

Google Video redux

Just thought I’d throw this out there. If you’re reluctant to bother changing your useragent, you can get download links for google video (as well as Youtube and several dozen other sites) formatted for you simply by entering the URL into the form provided on this Video Downloader 2.0 page. They also offer a firefox extension.

Los Estados Unidos

Call me crazy, but I think people should sing the National Anthem in the language they identify with. Time and again I hear this rhetorical nonsense about assimilation of culture. I listen dumbfounded at the postured and imbecilic words of the leaders and fellow citizens over the debate about immigration.

It’s entirely inevitable that some of the culture will combine and become homogenized; that said, the entire concept of culture is very dear to us all. To threaten a man’s culture is to threaten his very essence in most cases. You gape your mouth at the violent backlash over what you consider to be mere cartoons, a mere expression of free speech. Yet you also gape your mouth and clench your fist at the notion of someone burning your flag in protest; a flag you are quick to remind many sacrificed their lives for.

And then you requite the imposition that immigrants will remain only through the justification it would be too costly and even then impossible to fulfill the wish to remove all of the illegal aliens.

No, nein, nyet. Unless you are a First Nationer, you have to admit to being here illegally. Grant yourself amnesty, but grant amnesty for those that are here under good faith to work. The criminals are not of one citizenship and legal status. The illegal Mexican worker is in most ways helping, and ought not be taxed at those wages even if they were to be taxed. The legal citizen CEOs are far more damaging in their reckless choices to lie, cheat, and steal for their stock prices.

Until we recognize that making something illegal has never once made it go away, and until we actually try to come up with an elegant solution rather than a rash backlash, we will continue to suffer by our own hands.

So, to me, if a Hispanic American wishes to celebrate their cultural identity through song, and in doing so establish a new cultural identity that embraces the new land of these United States, I will gladly listen, learn, and sing along. The rest of you can shove your fingers firmly in your ears and refuse to acknowledge that this is not a gesture of disrespect, but one of friendship and kinship.

10,000 Days

From a poignant tribute to Maynard’s mother to railing against television, messages of hope and indictments of man’s great crimes culiminate to form the latest Tool record.

As Tool is my favorite band I’ll do my best to keep this review brief. The album really speaks for itself.

The album contains very classical elements, including influences of 1960s & 1970s rock & roll (including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd), as well as the influences of Jazz & Blues. These are found alongside the “progressive rock” sound Tool is known for, and the two sounds transit seamlessly between one another.

Part of the motive for Keenan’s vocal stylings are revealed in the two-song tribute to his mother Judith Marie Keenan (“Wings for Marie (Pt 1)” and “10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)”). In the latter, a mention is made to the gift his mother passed on to him, which seems to indicate a large role Keenan’s mother played in his development of his voice.

Each song on the record hits hard in its own way.

Loving rememberance for his mother and dispisement of superficial Christians who would attend her funeral are brought out in “Wings for Maire” and “10,000 Days.”

The human tendency toward being swept up in illusions and habits in “Vicarious,” as well as the two-part “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann),” and “Rosetta Stoned.” The last even gives claim to the doom of man under a particular ailment.

“Vicarious” may fit the bill for “radio friendly,” as I don’t listen to the radio enough to make that determination. It seems odd to me, however, for a song as anti-television as it to be deemed such. It details the commercialization of tragedy via the media, to turn us all into their vehicles of profit.

“Rosetta Stoned” and its introduction “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)” are a story about a man on an acid trip who finds himself in the hospital still coming down. The medical personnel ask him what has happened, and he reveals the strange journey he has been through to be told the horrible fate man has in store for himself, except he has forgotten.

“The Pot” and “Right in Two” reveal the predatory, self-righteous nature of man in his quest for dominance. Musically, both are candidates for protest songs of Vietnam, transformed into a modern climate.

“Jambi” and “Intension” walk a line between hope and malevolence.

Finally, “Lipan Conjuring” and “Viginti Tres” confound us in their abstract, fragmented natures. The former is a First Nations track of chanting and drums, while the latter is a bizarre soundscape in the vein of “(-) ions.”

Anyway, as I said I’ve kept it short. I may add more if I feel it necessary, or alternatively write up my in-depth interpretations at a later date.