Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's Talk -- About Josh Hamilton

Hey readers!  You might have noticed a few (okay, several) changes here in my little blog world.  That's because I'm moving my blog into a new direction.  Not to say I won't be putting random tidbits of my life in here, because it is my journal of sorts.  But it's going to be more about events out in the world that make me want to talk.  So -- welcome to the first official entry of my blog now called "Joe Talk."

Let's talk about Josh Hamilton, slugger and possible gold glover outfielder, and possible MVP of the 2010 AL West Champion Texas Rangers.  Why talk about a celebrity athelete you may wonder?  Well -- because unlike any other athelete I've ever heard or followed, Josh is real.  He's a real man, with real struggles, real dark days, and unbelievable real triumphs.  And I believe he's a true role model for what he did during the Rangers' celebration of their first division title in 11 years.

Quick background -- Josh was a rising star in baseball with Tampa Bay until drugs and alcohol derailed his career.  Unlike many, Josh found the strength, both inside of himself as well as from up above, to get off the path of addiction and ruin.  Instead of hiding from this dark past, he wears it on his sleeve.  He tries, every where he goes, to let young people know of the extreme dangers of drugs and alcohol addiciton, that they are real, a disease, and one not to dabble with.

So why am I impressed with Mr. Hamilton?  When pro athletes celebrate, for whatever reason, it involves shaking up bottles of champagne and beer and pouring it all over each other.  I don't get it, but it's their thing.  We all knew this, and Josh knew it too.  Instead of risking the temptation, he avoided it all together by quickly changing in a trainer's room and leaving the club house.  He did get to celebrate with his teammates on the field, but he needed to leave the temptation behind.

And what did he go do instead of tempting himself?  He went and talked about his faith along with other players from the Oakland A's to a crowd of fans that gathered.  He made a promise to them to do it, and he did.  And he didn't think it'd be right to show up smelling of alcohol or cigars, even though he didn't partake.

Show me another professional athlete that can walk away from temptation like Josh.  He's fallen off the wagon before, and instead of hiding or lying, he acknowledged it outright.  Everytime this man does something, I gain more and more respect and admiration for him.  He's not an MVP b/c of his playing ability in my book, he's an MVP for what he's done in his life.  It's not just about the success for him, but also about his struggles.  He's real, and you have to respect it.

Hats off to Josh Hamilton -- definitely someone you want to talk about with your kids.  Whether you believe in God or not (even though I do), he can teach young people more than just how to play ball, he can teach one of the toughest lessons in life.  The lesson he teaches is how to pick yourself up when you are at the lowest of lows and to turn it around.  And there's not many more qualified to teach it . . .

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Music Industry's Idea of a Sequel

I find it funny when people want to pass judgement on you b/c of the music you like to listen to.  I always love it when you get "dissed" for not listening to stuff that is considered "deep" or "meaningful."  Whatever -- I'm a top 40 kinda guy and I like it!  I'll take Gaga, Beyonce', Justin, or Mariah over some unknown flannel punk band that crawled out from a rock to sing a song about injustice to squirrels any day of the week.

Yeah -- I like my music a little bubblegum, and to have a groove.  which brings me to the music industry's idea of a sequel -- it's called the sample.  A sample (for those that don't know) is when one song takes part (or all) of the melody of another song and they loop it into the beat or melody of the new single. 

I love the fact that people get really mad that this goes on -- b/c it's really a safe bet.  You take a cute tune from way back when and jazz it up with your song, and seriously, it's a sequel to the first song.  That old song get's new life.  And in an industry that is littered with one hit wonders, you'd be surprised how many of those song writers are still reaping a royalty check off that one hit they had.

I did some quick research on some of my favorite songs and here are the samples they use:
  • Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" samples a huge Dutch club hit called "Dominator" by Human Resource
  • Mariah's "Fantasy" (both versions) samples the melody from Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love"
  • Ke$ha's new single "Take It Off" actually samples a REALLY old song titled "Streets of Cairo" -- it's over 100 years old!!
  • Christina Aguilera's "Candyman" borrows most of it's melody from The Andrews Sisters WWII smash "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" -- she even pays tribute to them in the video when there's three of her singing
  • My favorite Janet song "Someone to Call my Lover" borrows the guitar opening from America's "Ventura Highway"
  • Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop the Music" takes the melody and some lyrics from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"  (most of her songs have samples, btw)
  • Rap borrows VERY heavily, and Nelly's first smash hit "Country Grammar" ironically borrows it's melody from a popular kids song "Roller Coaster"
  • "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child steals the guitar riff from Stevie Nicks' "Seventeen" -- she loved it so much she plays the guitar in the video in the beginning for them
  • Finally, and interestingly enough, Timbaland's "The Way I Are" actually samples another rap song, Salt-n-Pepa's smash "Push It"
Like I said, I did very little research and came up with these examples, and most songs today do contain samples.  However, one popular myth is that it's the artist's who borrows the sample.  In reality -- it's the PRODUCER of the track that borrows -- so unless the artist is involved in all aspects of the track production, they might not have had any say so at all.

The only controversial (and you can say unintentional, but I don't believe so) sampling to occur was on Beyonce's "Halo" and Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone".  Both songs were written by One Republic's frontman Ryan Tedder.  Yeah -- that did get a bit ugly . . .

So -- in case you were curious -- I'm a fan of Top 40, sampling, and bubblegum pop.  Oh yeah baby . . .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm Over Skulls

So over the skull shirts, but
he is a completely different story
Okay, so I love fashion, right?  I mean, what gay guy doesn't??  My best friend loves it so much that she's turned into a pseudo-celebrity with her very own style blog (Click to read her style blog).  I love clothes shopping . . . so you get it.  Guy on the go, loves to shop, his bff is a style guru . . .

So I feel that I'm somewhat qualified to make the following statement -- enough with the human skulls on everything design motif.  I'm just kinda over the macabre designs.  It's only so long that you can beat me up side the head with skulls before I just think it must be halloween stuff on sale or something . . .

Don't get me wrong . . . I have a pair of Ed Hardy sneaks (with skulls on them of course), and a blinged out shirt with I kid you not -- a silver shiny bedazzled skull on it.  It's not that it's bad, but it's just being put on EVERYTHING and it kinda kills off the novelty.  Not every piece of clothing should have a reference to a skull.  I even saw a shirt at Baby Gap with skulls all over it . . . y'all . . . that is NOT appropriate wear for a baby or toddler!  A baby boy should be wearing something with trucks, footballs, or surfing on it . . . (well if it was my baby boy he'd be in a solid v-neck tee and plaid shorts . . . just sayin)

It just is starting to seem weird to me to wear a bunch of clothing with ornately decorated skulls on it.  I feel the skull should be more of an accent, not a center piece (unless I feel like wearing my bedazzled skull shirt, that is).

So, officially speaking -- I'm over skulls.  Thank goodness the fall lines coming out are incorporating stripes, argyles, and solids . . . a return to preppy patterns is definitely NOT a bad thing in my book . . . Just so ya know . . .