Monthly Archives: December 2016

@Doc's Best CDs of 2016 List

2016 was an odd year for music. But at least Bowie left us a masterpiece on his way out the door.

David Bowie - BLACKSTAR

David Bowie – BLACKSTAR

If I were doing my year-end ratings and reviews the way I used to I have no idea what I’d make of 2016. It started horribly, with David Bowie, one of the most influential geniuses in rock history, releasing Blackstar and then dying almost immediately. He was followed, in short order, by a lot of other people, including Prince, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Sharon Jones and 2/3 of ELP.

So it seemed like every good new release was tempered, to a degree, by the fact that the Reaper was taking more than his share. Which meant, I think, that I never got into my usual new music groove.

Regardless, 2016 did present us with some wonderful sounds across a range of genres. Read more

Remembering 2016: the year when everyone died

No, famous people won’t stop dying on January 1. But we lost too many bright lights this year and we hope that 2017 will be better. Here’s a list of noteworthy people who died in 2016.

For the past several months a lot of us have been saying we can’t wait for this damned year to be over.

2016 gave us the worst election season I can remember, and every ten minutes or so another beloved artist would die, it seemed. Any year that gives us Donald Trump and takes Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince in return has done more damage than some decades.

No, people aren’t going to stop dying at the stroke of midnight tomorrow. Read more

New Years Resolutions, pt 2: support is a two-way street

I have always supported independent artists, but that support has not often been reciprocated. This bothers me.

Part 2 of a series

support_independent_artists_invitation-r6303469af3264b2a811939c475b2c50f_zk9yi_324[Caveat: I’ll apologize in advance if this one sounds a little bitchy. That isn’t my intent, but I know people don’t always hear what I think I’m saying.]

Ever since we started this blog in 2007, and really for a good number of years before that via different media, I have done all I could to support the efforts of artists I found worthy, especially the seemingly numberless independent artists out there who are being all kinds of brilliant without much help from mainstream media or the industry institutions that dominate the areas in which they work. Music, visual arts, photography, literature, you name it – if you’re like me you run across a lot of fantastic creative work, and if you’re like me you want everyone else to appreciate it as much as you do. Read more

New Year Resolutions, pt 1: aim high and shoot straight

new-years-resolutionsI resolve to be more honest and direct in confronting ignorance and hatred.

Part 1 of a series

When I was a little boy, my grandparents read me the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30). They had a particularly Southern Baptist working class interpretation of what it meant. If you had a gift, the Lord intended you to use it to make the world a better place. If you didn’t, it was a sin and the gift might be taken from you.

“You’re smart,” they said to me. “God means you to use your brain to help others.”

Whether because my ego liked the idea of being smart or because I was innately concerned about other people’s well being, the lesson never left me.

When I got older and started my career, I developed a reputation among those I worked with as a guy who was honest. Read more

ALL OF THE ABOVE: The REAL reason(s) Clinton lost the election

Analyzing Clinton’s loss: can we PLEASE let go of our compulsive binary either/or thinking?

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-womenEver since the stunning outcome of the election several weeks ago we have been subjected to one analysis after another as to why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Dozens and Dozens. Hell, make that hundreds and hundreds, probably. I’m seeing more of these stories in my Facebook feed these days than I am pictures of cute kittens. Telling us what happened and how it happened has become a whole new industry, it seems.

Some of these stories are insightful. Some tell us what we already know, although the authors often try and package their reasoning as something more original than it is. And some aren’t helpful at all. But it seems like the one thing each author has in common is a need to cast his or her reason as the reason. Read more

WTF is the NC GOP up to with the attempted “Bathroom Bill” repeal?

The people who passed HB2 now want to unpass it because they hate teh queers, love the money and fear the people.

[Note: Please forgive the snark in this post. I’m in one of those moods, but despite the tone this is a wholly factual analysis.]

The yahoos who run my native state of North Carolina have been a marvel to watch in recent months. Their latest act was to convene another of their dread “special sessions” for the purpose of repealing the state’s infamously discriminatory HB2 – the “bathroom law.”

Of course, things fell apart. If you’d like a self-serving blow-by-blow from one of the perps, I highly recommend the narrative from NC District 41 (that’s Lincolnton, I believe) Senator Jeff Tarte. If you can’t stomach that, here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

  • Charlotte passes ordinance to outlaw discrimination against LGBT citizens
  • Republican lawmakers pass HB2, which makes it illegal to interfere with civil rights violations against gays, lesbians and transgender citizens
  • The world shuns NC, costing it untold millions of dollars
  • Now, on the way out the door, Gov. “One-Term” Pat McCrory decides to repeal the law
  • However, the repeal fails because apparently it was predicated on Charlotte repealing the ordinance that started the legislative ball rolling in the first place

So, what’s the GOP’s motivation here? Read more

The darkest song ever sung: "Coventry Carol" (Saturday Video Roundup)

Remembering the blackest moment of the entire nativity cycle is an odd way to celebrate.

For a couple weeks now I have been assembling my “Dark Christmas Melancholy” playlist, a process I described in a post a few days ago.

While I have listened to (and sung) a lot of holiday music through the years, my little project introduced me to a classic that somehow I had never encountered before, the English traditional “Coventry Carol.” This version, by Darkwave artists Nox Arcana, is by far my favorite for the way in which it captures the interwoven beauty and horror of the Massacre of the Innocents story.

Read more

Boulder, Colorado Bureau of Investigation planning new DNA analysis in JonBenet Ramsey case

Can new procedures tell us who killed the child pageant queen? Were there multiple murderers?

JonBenet Ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey

According to NBC News, “new DNA testing is planned in the unsolved murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.”

The news was first reported by NBC affiliate KUSA in Denver, Colorado, and by the Boulder Daily Camera. The two news outlets did a joint investigation in October which pointed to a variety of potential flaws in the interpretation of the DNA evidence in the case.

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett confirmed in a statement to NBC News Wednesday that his office had met with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which he said will be conducting “some further testing of the DNA evidence in the Ramsey case, as well as other cold case homicides and pending investigations,” in a new lab with new testing procedures.

There is now doubt as to the conclusions reached by former Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy in her 2008 letter clearing the family. Specifically: Read more

A dark holiday playlist – and one man's melancholy war with childhood

There is beauty in the darkness. This is all I have ever known.

Beauty doesn’t work the same for me as it does for most people. I first started realizing this in Mr. Booth’s (excuse me, Dr. Booth’s) English V class at Ledford High School in 1978 and 1979. I remember two moments distinctly. First, we read “The Eve of St. Agnes,” by Keats. I recall being overwhelmed by a) its darkness, and b) its beauty. This was not a traditional sunny pastoral. It’s a poem of the night, one of mystery and compelling seductive splendor.

Later we read Tennyson’s equally marvelous “The Lady of Shalott.” Again, I was struck by the way in which beauty was interwoven with dark, even sinister themes.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of my reactions to these masterworks, but something was afoot, and when I started writing poetry on my own (as long as we’re on the subject of darkness and doom) it began with a piece called “Octoberfaust,” which I tried to infuse with as much mystery and passionate nocturne as I could muster.

Of course, looking back, my melancholy aesthetic didn’t begin in high school. Read more

A new, improved college football playoff system: how it works and why

Here are your 8 tournament teams if we had a sensible college playoff system.

The NCAA Football Selection Committee today will issue its final rankings, and in doing so they face some tough choices about who gets to play for the national title. This is because NCAAF, unlike every other sport, doesn’t allow everyone with a claim to settle it on the field. It isn’t enough to win your games (and some years, your conference), you have to win a PR battle.

The NCAA has been stumbling from one corrupt system to another for years. You just wish they were making more progress, don’t you? Read more