Holy crap! Spy Stuffs.

Just read this article in the LA Times which reveals that the fella who penetrated deep into an American CIA compound last week and detonated a bomb, killing 8 intelligence officials was a double-agent. Turns out he was a triple agent, I guess.

It's just a weird thing, living in this new world. When I was a kid, we also heard about spies from time to time. We knew that it was a dangerous gig, but slightly glamorous. But, we also understood that there were special rules to it.

Spy Rule 1
When you spy on your country and get caught, they give you a trial and then maybe execute you.

Spy Rule 2
When you spy for your country and get caught, they give you a trial, throw you in jail for a long time, and eventually swap you for some other spy.

Naturally, there was also the threat of being killed during the commission of the act. You might be shot while running away, and of course you'd get beaten up from time to time. Not the safest job, but it had a certain gentility to it.

The Cold War had an etiquette. The Russians and Americans were happy to have this nasty stalemate that typically killed its victims in the third world, or rather had its victims kill each other, keeping our hands clean. Even certain atrocities had a beautiful cleverness to them, such as the Siberian Pipeline Explosion of 1982, which used technological jujitsu to trick the Russians into their own destruction. Even if the story isn't true, it serves to exemplify the type of murder and mayhem we were willing to accept during that era.

We were all afraid of a real war in the 80s. In fact, we all believed in a thing called "Mutually Assured Destruction," and all of us kids grew up believing that with virtually no notice, life on Earth could end, and us with it.

We had cool things like the Doomsday Clock which predicted how long, metaphorically, until we were all goners. In my mind's eye, we were always at 11:55 or later on that thing.

So, with all this weight behind us, why does the modern world seem so much scarier? I distinctly remember being 8 or 9 years old and hearing constantly about the real probability of complete human extinction. They told us that nothing could be done about it. Our parents were helpless to prevent it. We had songs like "Party at Ground Zero" and "Russians" alternately making light and heavy of the situation. Each and every one of us who grew up in the 80s lived day-to-day with this fear in our minds. But, it wasn't a time filled with all this weirdness.

Maybe it was the idea that we'd all go down together, instead of living to watch our friends suffer and die. Or worse, being the unlucky bastard who did the suffering and the dying.

The Cold War, maybe, was a time of black and white, life and death, and here we are living in all these shades of gray. It's harder to handle, I suppose, but it's something that we need to put in perspective.

To paraphrase Stalin, I guess 8 deaths in Afghanistan is a tragedy, and the end of the world is just a statistic.

Offering Choco-Pie to the dead

I recently wrote about my love of Orion Choco-Pie, a product so filled with chocolatey, marshmallowy goodness that it deserved both a picture and a video.

yet another picture of choco-pie

But, the more I thought about it, the weirder that video started to seem. At first, it was just the general creepiness of using the memory of dead relatives to influence snack food sales. Then, it was the hijacking of Filial Piety to sell junk food. And, then, it hit me. There's something even worse.

dead korean grandpa

As any American kid can tell you, the proof of Santa's visit is the fact that the cookies and milk you left out the night before are now gone. Clearly, the old fat guy ate them while he came by, right?

With Asian kids, or really any group of people who leave food offerings to the dead, the proof that the dead receive your gifts is the fact that they shrivel up and disappear. For some people, it's oranges and tangerines, which whither, becoming an order of magnitude smaller than they once were. For others, it's sake or soju or whiskey, or even a 40oz poured into the yard. The point is, over time, it's no longer there.

offerings left for the dead - notice no choco-pie here

But, I have a feeling that a box of Choco-Pie will pretty much outlive the girl in the commercial. It's got a sealed outer box, individually-wrapped foil packages, and then air-tight chocolate magic protecting the tasty tasty cake and marshmallow wonder that is Choco-Pie.

End of year mouth-keeping

Now that they year is over, blogger Dan Warp has a list of words and phrases that you need to stop using this year. I am guilty of too many of them, and I know it has to change. Thanks for making it so obvious.

My only argument is with his willingness to allow "That's what she said" until 2011. That was annoying 15 years ago, and it's even more so, now. Everything else, though, is spot-on.

After reading it, I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth, but still, I'd call it the Best. Article. Ever.

Michael Scott in the office
I really don't care what she said.

I really love Choco-Pie

About 6 months ago, I went to the first annual Korean BBQ Festival in K-town. The crowds were a bit much, but I did manage to get some good food. However, the highlight of the day was the eating contest.

Everyone figured that the contest would involve eating tofu, or bulgogi or, most likely, kimchi. But, all were surprised when the secret item was Orion Choco-Pie, which, it turns out, is wildly popular in Korea and therefore equally valid.

I did not participate, but, due to free samples, I acquired a life-long love of Choco-Pie. I found them on sale yesterday for 1.99 for a 12-pack, so I plan on eating them until I'm sick today.

Check out this awesome video. When I eat a Choco-Pie, I never think about dead relatives. That would really harsh my mellow. But, I do become as happy as a little girl.

Bluesy song for New Year's Eve

Sitting around the house and put this song together. Feel free to talk smack about it. I don't care, because I don't have any delusions of being talented.

Chords are mostly barres around fret 5, but you can play it however you like. You can play these as opens, but it won't sound right.

Amin, Dmin (or D7 when I mess up), G7, E.

If anyone has any advice on how to record better, I'd love to hear it. Right now, I use Live, with the Line 6 KB37 as my analog-to-digital converter. The guitar sounds great through PodFarm or GearBox, but when I pipe it into Live, it sounds like shit.

Holy crap! Lots of free music downloads from Amoeba.

Just a heads-up. There is now a cool music download section at Amoeba where you can get lots of great stuff for free-fifty-free.

Don't say I never gave you anything.

Thanks, Amoebas.

I can't play like Johnny Marr

So, I spent about a half-hour learning "There is a light that never goes out" on the guitar, and when my special lady came home, I played it for her and she didn't recognize it.

That in mind, I figured that I must really suck at playing it, so I shouldn't post a recorded version of it.

Sorry, no new song today, but here is a picture of Johnny Marr looking cool.

Oh, a bit of trivia: In French, the phrase "J'en ai marre" means "I've had it up to here" and is generally accompanied with the same hand gesture we use in English.

Also, apparently it's a song by former French Jailbait Queen, Alizee.

The Sea Urchin is watching you.

According to scientists at Duke University, the entire body of a sea urchin is covered in light-sensitive molecules that let them see, sorta. This is vaguely interesting, because I used to play AD&D, and it reminds of this critter called a beholder. Please, examine the similarities.
Beholder picture stolen from Scott Fischer Art and Illustration

Sea Urchin picture stolen from Hawaiian photographer Brady Oshiro.

Awesome picture my friend drew during pub trivia

So, it was pretty rad that we got 2nd place in pub triv, which means we got to split 15 bucks 9 ways. But, even cooler was when one of our crew drew this awesome holiday picture. Enjoy. I'll give him a caption if he wants one, but maybe he could do without having his name attached to this masterpiece.

And a shout-out to our local: Robin Hood British Pub, North Hollywood, CA.

Quick loop with chords stolen from Manu Chao

A very quick and dirty recording of 3 chords I really like, and if I don't write them down, I'll forget them.

Some site says these are the chords for Clandestino. I'm not sure that's true, but it might be. Who knows? At any rate, they're fairly easy barres.

F#m:244222
Bm:224432
F#7/C7:243422

The poly at the end really makes the song. It just drips sadness. Anyone know where I can find a list of polychord fingerings? It takes me 5 minutes to figure out how to make one on paper, and by the time I'm done, I've forgotten the other chords in the song.

** New version uploaded **