Friday, June 30, 2006

Top Ten Albums of the 1990s

This is in my opinion, in order:

#1 Sublime "40 ozs. to Freedom" A reggae-punk fusion cover-filled masterpiece. Oh how good it is! Everything Sublime recorded was awesome, even the stuff that stunk.

#2 Weezer "Pinkerton" Rarely have I identified more with lyrics, even though some of them did not echo anything in my own life. Of course "Blue" is amazing too.

# 3 Pearl Jam "10" Come on this album kicks so much butt you can't possibly object to its place on this list. The lyrics to "Black" are enough to make a man cry, and "Alive" is just creepy awesome. Imagine your mom looking at you and seeing your dead father and wanting you sexually. THAT's CREEPY.

#4 Pearl Jam "Vs." Another amazing album, originally to be called Lenin vs. McCarthy, but for some reason they shortened it. I think the lyrics to "Glorified G" are the second most misunderstood lyrics of all time after Toto's "Africa." "Vitology" was equally good.

#5 Alice in Chains "Unplugged" Not a true album, but my goodness this album can be listened to time and again and it rarely gets old.

#6 Squirrel Nut Zippers "Hot" I wasn't all that into swing, but I saw these guys in concert three times, including once at the fabulous Roxy, and they could play anything and I would just be standing there listening in awe. Incidently, Paul Dunn was right, the banjo player was a girl not a transexual--she's given birth. I would've sworn she was a man. Seriously.

#7 Stone Temple Pilots "Purple" Every song on this one makes me want to sing along. Some of them get my dander up, one of them was the intro to MTV News for years. The hidden track is awesome. I still listen to this one all the time. "Core" was also an excellent album

#8 Maná "¿Dónde jugarán los niños?" Si no hablan español, pues apréndanlo. Este album está lleno de éxitos y de canciones menospreciadas, pero todas son excelentes. Me encanta la rabia del cantador de "Me vale" y el video de "Como te deseo" es memorable: Fher bailando en la playa con cientos de mujeres. "Amor de misa me estás quemando/duermo en la capilla que no agaunto más." La ansiedad de querer amar sin poder hacerlo capturado entre las líneas de una canción.

#9 311 "Music" Perfection. Amazing still. Too bad they've gonna all crazy amber energy hippie on us. Also, "Grassroots" "311" and "Transistor" were great in the 1990s.

#10 Barenaked Ladies "Stunt" Everyone knows "Chickity China the Chinese Chicken" but the rest of the album is awesome, funny, witty, and soothing. The only song I don't like is "Alcohol."

Honorable mention:

Wyclef Jean "The Carnival"

"Beastie Boys "Hello Nasty"

"White Zombie "Astrocreep 3000"

Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" "Cherub Rock" is awesome!

Tool "Aenima" This album is so dark

3rd Eye Bling "Self-titled"

Matchbox 20

Green Day "Nimrod" Underappreciated good rocknroll album

REM "New adventures in hi-fi"

Radiohead "The Bends" and all their albums

Eros Ramazzotti "Todo Historias" Just great stuff.

Some old underrated albums: The Refreshments, Neutral Milk Hotel, Weezer, & Collective Soul

Insomnia on a Friday.........So there's nothing new here, but these are some albums that I feel didn't get as much appreciation when they came out that they deserve. In no particular order.

#1 The Refreshments "Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy" (1996). Unless you lived outside the USA in 1996 you remember the song called "Banditos" that had lyrics like Give your id card to the border guard/cause your alias says that you're Jean-Luc Picard/of the United Federation of Planets/cause he won't speak English anyway. None of their other songs made it to airplay, but this album is really good. I bought it for the one song, but then fate intervened. I had never really given the rest of it a listen, but at 99X's Big Day Out concert in 1996, the Butthole Surfers' (a band I LOATHE) equipment was shipped to Orlando instead of Atlanta, so they gave up the main stage to the Refreshments that were scheduled to go on the secondary stage. They played this album and I loved it. I rarely enjoy seeing a band live until I know some of their songs. It takes me a couple of listens to even enjoy a new album (with a few rare exceptions). I remember a hellish ride from Newnan to Acworth with Paul Dunn when he made me listen to Live's "Mental Jewelry" and I didn't know any of the songs. I thought I was going to die. I like the album now, but at the time I didn't....anyway. This Refreshments disc is fun and in a key that suits my voice so I can sing along without sounding all that bad. The songs are about peace, love, understanding, good times, and peace again. Check it out for a pick-me-up. It can currently be had for $2.45 on Sadly this band is no longer together, but two of its members joined with remnants of the Gin Blossoms to form Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers--a critically acclaimed band that I've never listened to.....yet.

#2 Neutral Milk Hotel "On Avery Island" (1996) I had never ever heard of these guys until 2001 when my little sister begged me to listen. I hated it. It sounded unpolished and grainy. A couple of years later she challenged me to listen to them again. Again I refused, only this time I downloaded a song called "Aeroplane over the sea" and I liked it. So, when she gave this album to me as a birthday present, I put it in while I was writing a paper. Today I have to say that it is one of the best albums of the 1990s and the low-fi graininess is on purpose. I only wish this band would get back together, because the two albums they left us aren't enough. This is a total gem, and the lyrics are just poetic enough where you can follow what they are saying, but not so esoteric that only a select few will know what the hell they are singing about. If I had to buy any album on this list to listen to, and I wanted to hear some sad sounding songs that would make me feel better even though I was sad and the songs were sad (think Elton John "Sad Songs Say So Much"), I would buy this one. No doubt about it. The band's name sucks. Stupid name, great music.

#3 Collective Soul "Disciplined Breakdown" (1997) After 1995's self-titled blockbuster, most people expected another amazing album from the Stockbridge, Georgia Roland clan. I heard another album of solid hits. Not as many people did. I still think this is their best album. Every song is awesome. I understand the lyrics. Paul Dunn and I went and saw them at the Roxy in Atlanta on tour in support of this album (Darlahood opened) and it is still one of the three best concerts I've ever been to in my life. The Roxy is a perfect concert venue. Tim Boisvery and Laurel Heap and I went saw them on this same tour at the Saltair Pavilion out by the Great Salt Lake after I moved to Provo. The sound system sucked, but the band was awesome. Mickelle and I have been to see them 2 or 3 times since we've been married--including last June at the House of Blues here in New Orleans (check my archives for a review of the show). If you want a great album that didn't get the attention their first two did, buy this one. has it for 75¢. It's worth ten times that.

# Weezer "Pinkerton" This is the second best album of the 1990's (IMHO). Everyone knows the first Weezer album (Blue) and the three big hits off it. Pinkerton had zero hits, but every song on there makes you FEEL the music. Every song corresponds to a part of Madame Butterfly. The song follows the scenes of the opera and each song applies to the listener as well. It starts out with a song improbably titled "Tired of Sex" and ends with a whispered sollozo about a dead butterfly in a mayonnaise jar. A damned masterpiece that sings about everything from a guy falling in love with a lesbian and hoping that she might be a little straight, to a fan letter from Japan and the love that he feels for her "So far away," to the scream of how a beautiful girl could possibly love him, "What could you possibly see/in little three chord me?" Ahhhh Pinkerton will remain the jewel in Weezer's crown forever. And if Paul Dunn doesn't like Weezer, I feel bad for him. He doesn't know what he's missing.

Give them a try if you want something "new."

True Grit - The Attempt on Teddy Roosevelt's Life

Time Magazine decided to run an edition dedicated to Teddy Roosevelt, long one of my favorite presidents, this week. As I was reading one of the articles this morning, I came across something about him that leaves me in awe of his courage, personality, pain threshold, and politicking skills.,9171,1207791-3,00.html (that's the 3rd page of the article)

" While Taft vacationed and Wilson gave as few speeches as possible, Roosevelt raced up the East Coast and down, across the South and into the Midwest. In Milwaukee, Wis., on Oct. 14, as he stood in an open car to salute a cheering crowd, a man a few feet away drew a revolver and fired, hitting Roosevelt in the chest and knocking him back into the car seat.

"Three Presidents had been assassinated in T.R.'s lifetime, and he had long ago prepared himself for such a moment. He put his fingers to his lips, saw that he was not bleeding from the mouth and concluded that the bullet had not perforated a lung. The bullet, slowed by the contents of his breast pocket--a steel eyeglass case and a copy of the speech he was about to give--had lodged in a rib. He insisted on proceeding to an auditorium where a crowd of 10,000 was waiting for him. In full command of his political instincts, he showed the audience his bloodstained shirt and said, "I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a bull moose." Roosevelt spoke for 90 minutes, then consented to go to a hospital."

Holy smokes, he was a political genius! If he had done this in today's mass media world, he could've invaded Switzerland and still been elected. Thing is, no one would do this nowadays, and the Secret Service wouldn't let him do it either. If I were shot, I would be cowering in fear in some fortress hospital. Giving a stump speech with a bloodstain and a bullet in a rib is a Jack Bauer or Jack Bristow moment. Men like this don't exist anymore. Alas, Babylon.

Is there anything I can do?

You have to be a complete moron to do this, in broad daylight; with the door open; in public; at all.

I feel bad for both of them. And yet, I don't.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bass tards

Yeah, it seems fishy, but they didn't just do it for the halibut, they won a $30k boat.

"Yeah, honey, I know we spent $60k on the boat, truck, and trailer, but at current market prices for bass, that whole get up will pay for itself in 20 years."

That's a great line. It takes someone of low moral fiber to cheat to win a charity tournament. Maybe they'll get cancer since it was a Walk For Life event.

I used to put mud in my aluminum cans that I would take for recycling. That still bothers my conscience, and it's been 20 years and a baptism since. Nex thing you know people will be getting bass to swallow weights for the tourney weigh-ins.

The love of money is the root of all evil. Pride too. They go hand in hand.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In Defense of Soccer as It Is

My fantasy baseball buddy, Craig Pettit, posted a rant about the World Cup on our fantasy baseball league message board the other day. I just wanted to refute all of his post.

Here it is:

I have honestly tried to "get into" this World Cup thing, but the more I try, the more ridiculous this sport becomes painfully obvious. There are many things that need to change in this game to make it a real sport.

--Whoa Craig, sweeping indictments don't become you. "Real sport" is highly subjective. Leave that to Bryant Gumbel.

First, there must be some rule against having 9 guys in the box defendingyour goal. It's no wonder you see "own goals" when you just have a mob of 20 in front of the net and who knows who the ball will bounce off of.

--That's the risk in crowding the box, sometimes your own player scores a goal for the opponent. Andres Escobar found out the hard way that own goals cost more than the game. There is a lot more organization in that "mob" than you realize. Try playing soccer with adults some time and you'll be amazed at how much planning, play running, and work goes into goal box situations. It's really hard.

Next, they need to take the referee out of the game. In a sport where one goal 99% of the time is the game, you can't have a referee's poor judgment give teams goals or unexplainably kick guys out of games. I have seen it countless times in the tournament where a referee's poor decision cost the game. If this is the greatest event in the world and teams have ransomed their countries to compete in it, how can you have a single man destroy your country. (See Australia v. Italy See Ghana vs. USA, USA vs. Italy, etc.) These guys need some witness protection program after the Cup or they won't survive.

--How can you take the ref out of a game? Impossible. Witness the Portugal vs. Netherlands game to see what happens when the ref "takes himself" out of the game. That ref lost total control of the game and wound up booking 16 times. One thing I can say about FIFA, is that unlike crappy refs in major US sports, THAT ref will NOT be ref-ing another World Cup game--guaranteed. I would like to see a one time instant-replay challenge available, with the caveat that if on review the call stands, then that team loses a player for the remainder of the half. Bad calls happen in every sport. Just ask Mark Cuban. Ask Ron Gant (Kent Hrbek). Ask Georgia Tech (5th down anyone? Colorado: Yes, please!).

Finally, how stupid is it that games in the "greatest event in the world" are decided by penalty kicks rather than playing out the normal course of the game. After playing 120 minutes of great competitive soccer and then have your fate decided by 5 free kicks is stupidest thing I have ever seen. That would be like the NBA having a free throw contest to decide the NBA Championship rather than continuing into overtime. Or, the NFL having a no rush field goal contest to decide the Super Bowl! The game is setup to be played a certain way and it should end the same way.

--I agree with you on this point. Penalty kicks are a ridiculous way to end a game. Brazil would've won the 1994 World Cup regardless of the penalty kicks because they were in better shape. Italy's Roberto Baggio was getting leg cramps while running. Brazil would've won without the penales.

It's no wonder the USA cannot compete in this "sport", we're to smart to invest in this ridiculous venture.

--This is jingoistic and doesn't merit a response, but I will anyway. We don't invest in soccer because we have three other amazing sports that we prefer. We don't need to dominate soccer. We can try our best, but I don't think we'll ever perform on the world stage because not enough of our best athletes play soccer. Rich kids are the ones that play soccer in this country, which is the exact opposite of the rest of the world. If the entire populace ever started playing, then we could advance, but Brazil will continue to dominate because they enjoy the game. Americans always looked pissed off in international competitions, while the Brazilians and the Argentines are smiling while trying and failing time and again. I kind of like that we aren't the best at soccer.

The celebrations in soccer are so exciting and over-the-top precisely because it takes so damned long to score that when someone finally does, the feeling is daresay, orgasmic. I agree that 0-0 games are not that exciting to Americans, but compare them to a 1-0 shut out and you can appreciate the beauty inherent in the world's most played sport.

I only watch soccer during the World Cup. The only sport I watch regularly is baseball.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What's Cruel and Unusual? Punishment, apparently.

Back in pre-Revolutionary America "cruel and unusual punishment" meant the rack and burning at the stake... in more recent rulings it has been taken to mean the absence of cable television and denial of sex-change operations, or just overcrowding in the prisons.
--Tom Clancy

The Eighth Amendment says: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Capital punishment literally means to lose one's head. When the Constitution was ratified, 1787, cruel and unusual punishment meant drawing and quartering, the rack, soaking someone's feet in salt water for two days and then letting a goat lick the skin off them. That is cruel.

Worrying whether someone feels pain when they are being executed is absurd. Death is always accompanied by some form of pain. Hanging and firing squad executions were standard forms of execution when our country was founded and they were not banned, nor did our forefathers consider banning them. Now we have a "placid" execution that where we worry whether the person feels pain or not when they are unconscious, and whether a dyslexic doctor can "understand the numbers." A doctor, dyslexic or not, can prescribe a medicine, otherwise, he wouldn't be a doctor. Judas Priest!

This judge obviously wants to end the penalty and is using any hitch he can to unravel 200 years of capital law. The Supreme Court needs to rule, once and for all, what constitutes "Cruel and Unusual" and declare that any further challenges to the law will be pointless. Why revisit time and again what the Constitution allows?

Nowadays, we no longer make inmates work "at hard labor" during their incarcerations. We pay them to do things, like wash their own clothes and cook their own meals. The XIIIth Amendment says the following: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

To me that means that people convicted of crimes can be forced to work in involuntary servitude while they're "Gone Til November." Chain gangs no longer exist, truly, in our country, and I think that's a good thing. The risks and expense of actually chaining people together are too great. But, I do think that labor camps could be created where the prisoners could be forced to work to offset the expense of their incarceration. These camps could teach inmates skills (construction, automotive repair, agriculture) that they could use when the term of their punishment has ended. I do not think that the Maricopa County, Arizona system of forcing them to live in tents in the desert is as effective as they want you to believe. It is cheap and not fun, and that is the main benefit. However, I am thinking more towards solutions for felons in prison rather than people in county jails.

Apparently punishment is considered cruel and unusual today.

I highly recommend reading Cornell's VIIIth Amendment annotations page for a history of interpretation of this tricky phrase:

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of Liberty abused to licentiousness. -- George Washington

Aequo animo poenam, qui meruere, ferant

Monday, June 26, 2006

Just take a moment to have a fit once in a while

Bulldog's scoreless inning streak stopped at 14 days. It wasn't broken with a hit, so much as a base on balls.

I'm just glad to get on base....any base.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jack Can Hear

So Jack had originally failed his hearing test in the hospital, but we took him to see an Audiologist yesterday and he can hear just fine--something already confirmed by me obsessively making loud noises (clapping, yelling, dropping things, slamming doors) to see if he would startle or not. Funny how I couldn't convince myself that he could hear no matter how many times I scared the ever-loving snot out of him. It took an audiologist 3 minutes to determine that he could hear, and now I'm not trying to independently verify her findings. There are reasons that the Williams clan are not scientists.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Benefits of Obesity (Yes, there are a few)

Let me go on record as saying that I do not want to be fat. I am on a diet and trying to lose weight. However, instead of complaining about being fat while I am still fat, I will look on some of the positives.

We all know about the risks of obesity which are legion: diabetes, heart disease, GOUT, etc. They are not fun, in fact they are scary and the reason why I am motivated to lose weight (and not just so Paul Dunn will lose another $10 bet to me). However, those who have never been as heavy as I am may not know some of the perks, so to speak, of being large.

#1 As I've said in previous posts, I always have had to work harder than most to win a girl's affection. I had to be smooth to even get a date. I hope that being heavy gave me a sense of "jolly" self-deprecation that endeared others towards me--imagine how prideful I would be if I were skinny. Until I got married, I don't think a day of my life went by where someone would look at me and say, "You have the most gorgeous eyes," or "¡Ay! ¡Qué ojos!" A lady one day in the parking lot at Kroger (I worked there) told me I had "bedroom eyes" which sent my 18 year old brain pouring through endless scenarios. But, as I've said before, it's a good thing the ladies didn't find me as attractive as I do them, because I'd be celebrating the birth of my 20th child this week rather than my second. I'm not one for excellent self-control of consumption.

#2 When I approach a door that has a bar at waist level that you must push to open, I do not need to use my hands.

#3 When I hold little kids, they have an automatic seat. Last night, Mickelle brought Jack to me at 5:30 AM. I laid him down on my belly as I sat in the recliner, and with a pillow under each arm to act as a fence against his wiggling, I went to sleep. He dozed for 3 hours atop my belly, the most responsive and constantly warm (babies love warmth) tempur-pedic mattress on earth. The belly responds his every move with a jiggle that acts like a rocker. There is no finer baby bed than a fat man's stomach.

#4 I can hide up to four cans of Coca-Cola under my belly and still walk without any hint of what I'm concealing. If I were a different kind of man, I would be the perfect person to smuggle drugs into concerts, because no one has ever dared lift up my roll to frisk me there.

#5 When Gove Allen and I move his trailer, I can stand on the back wheel and counter balance the whole trailer. No need for a brace with me on the wheelwell.

#6 When I was a kid, no one would ever call me over for Red Rover. My team always, and I do mean ALWAYS, won.

#7 Yeah that's about it. Do everything you can to be healthy. The benefits do not outweigh (rimshot) the risks.

The first photo is of me with Mike and Kristen Lindsey's baby girl named Gretchen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

From the mouths of babes

Marley: Mommy, can brother Jack stay with us tonight?
Mommy: Jack is gonna stay with us....forever!!

Yes, he has a touch of jaundice, and the doctor is on top of it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Babies and Crying

No, this post isn't about how much Jack cries and how annoying it is. Babies at his age only cry if they are wet, hungry, or want to be held. It's something like a puzzle that you have to figure out, and when you do, you get the peace of silence.

No, this post is about me crying; I rarely cry. Not because I'm some kind of stern hero type, but because I don't like the physiological changes that happen to my body when I cry. That pressure that builds up, that sob in the back of your throat...all things that I don't like feeling. When people cry in church when they bear their testimonies, I usually have to look away. I dislike crying so much that it makes me feel bad for others when they cry. Incidently I have the same reaction to embarrassing situations. I usually have to look away during any episode of Frasier because I hate to see the awkwardness that he so often finds himself in.

So, given that I dislike crying, I'll tell you that there are two types of crying. There's the cry at the end of Schindler's List when he breaks down and starts saying that he could've gotten 5 more people for his car, or 2 more for his ring. Those are uncomfortable tears. There are the tears that come from getting kicked so hard in the groin by your daughter jumping on you that all you can do is cry. Then there are tears of joy, those tears that come at moments when you don't know why you are crying, but you're not sad. I get them when I watch Field of Dreams, when Ray Kinsella's dad shows up and they have a game of catch (I shall write another post one day about my Spring Break 1992 to Dyersburg, Iowa and the Field of Dreams movie site); I get them when I see Red and Andy reunited on the beach at the end of the Shawshank Redemption; I got them when the Braves became the 1995 World Series Champions (Dodgers Suck!), and I've gotten them both times I've seen my children being cleaned up after birth. I don't think it will happen to me, but it does. When I saw Jack, lying on the table, crying from the cold, the shock, and the terror of being born, I started crying. They were tears of joy, born perhaps of the love I already feel for him (it was at the moment I saw him that I became convinced that I could love an adopted child as much as my own) and a little of the unspoken terror that comes from knowing that I have created the one thing in life capable of causing me more pain than anything else there is. No, these were tears of joy and wonder. I don't usually cry when I look at my children now. Sometimes I get choked up when I have to punish Marley, or when I see other kids be mean to her (and Oh! How I want to spare her the agony of peer pressure!), but my tears are limited.

I'll never forget those painless tears that flow each time I see my newborn child.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

For unto us a child is born; unto us, a son is given!

So last night Mickelle and I were getting ready to go to a late movie to see Nacho Libre. While I was in the shower getting ready, Marley comes running into the bathroom, "Momma's water just broke." So we get into the car and go to Touro Hospital on Prytania St in New Orleans. Nine hours later, John McLarty Williams IV, "Jack", was born at 5:14 CDT in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.

He weighed 7 lbs. 2.3 ozs. and was 20 inches long. His head, true to Williams' form, is 14 1/4" in diameter. He was delivered by a Dr. Sporl and nurse Yvette Lector, both of whom are wonderfully courteous, professional, and muy simpáticas. Mickelle performed like a pro and is grateful for the epidural's invention. No complications. He's healthy and cries like a pitiful little thing. He was 10 days early according to the doctors.

Here's a 40 meg movie of Jack when he's about two minutes old. It's a big file, so it'll take awhile to download. Thanks to Uncle Tim for hosting the file.
Enjoy the photos! If this page takes took long to load, you can browse them at