How metal \m/ can a crib be? How rebellious can a crib be? How “I wanna rock!” can a crib be?
Imagine the most metal \m/, rebellious, and “I wanna rock!” baby crib you can and then go track down down the new Metallica album cover and see how you did.
Obviously Rock Gods can do no wrong. So I have no fear of them putting out bad music. Remember, I even own and enjoy Lulu.
But I’m sitting here in my home studio/office where I have a Master of Puppets T-Shirt draped over a lamp to get the lighting right. Hands holding puppet strings over a cemetery just feels right. Every time.
I like that they’re actually going with what they feel like doing. They’re old and they have time to reflect on why they have done what they’ve done. Childhood is a tremendous influence. I get it. But I want to record here that there are elements that must be there for rock to be rock.
Hammer? Blood? Cemetery? Electric chair? Lady Justice? Blackness? Auto-body shops? Random fluids? Fists? Coffins? Life-like, damaged prostitute torsos? Glitchy photos?
All these seem pretty darn uniform to me. My inner scholar labels them as within the same semantic domain.
I’m just glad we’re all mature enough to not be dissuaded by a “miss”.
On Art and On Health Insurance Costs
These two have nothing to do with each other, so don’t spend any time searching for the connection. Art and Health Insurance Costs have nothing to do with each other. They’re just both on my mind and I’ve been meaning to write about them for some time.
The reason to write about Health Insurance Costs is because I finally know the answer to my long unanswered question, “How does it work?” I usually ask this question when the person taking my money says the word “only”. And the HR folks seem to always say, “You only pay…”
While I haven’t ever googled anything like what I’m about to share, part of the reason for that lack of searching is that I wouldn’t even know how to ask the question. Experience was the way for me to “search it up”.
My company tells me that I can choose between an HSA or whatever the other, more traditional plan is called. Neither the acronyms, nor the explanations of benefits made a difference to me, and the paycheck deduction is near identical. I chose HSA.
Long story short: the HSA costs me (family man) something like $230/paycheck no matter if I go to a doctor or not.
But there’s a $3,000 deductible.
So that means that if you happen to go to the doc, whatever the number the letter in the mail gives you after figuring out what was “covered”—pay attention—must be paid. So if you go and owe $3,000, you’re now paying, over one year (26 paychecks) $345/paycheck ($230+$115). (Luckily, most places don’t charge interest on these year long payment plans—luckily for them, I mean…)
To restate that, if you need to spend your full deductible, you go from paying $460 a month to $690 a month!
Now, once the deductible is met, there is an “out of pocket max”. For my plan, this is—for any one us—$6,875/year. For the entire family it is $8,000. (Don’t quote me on these numbers. They’re close. Who would have them memorized? I have better things to do.)
Again, once some one (1) member gets bills for $6,875, which is only $3,875 more than the “deductible”, the new paycheck-ly cost of the plan is…(total of $3,875 / 26 added to $345)…$494/paycheck! Put plainly, we’re up to $1,000 a month!
If we get bills to the tune of the family out-of-pocket max, that’s an addition of $1,125 (over the course of 26 checks) or a grand total of $537/paycheck!
In short, before all the medical bills become “covered” (natural sense of the word) by my health insurance, I have to contribute $1,100/month or so, or the initial $230 x 26, plus $8,000, for a grand total of $13,980!
I’m not sure the word “covered” really means anything at this point. Maybe we’re “covered” in the sense that a year of mortgage payments “cover” our heads all year.
“What’s your mortgage?” Next time someone asks, tell the truth. Add up both the mortgage and the health insurance.
Now you know. And no one ever had explained it to me before. So I wrote it down today.
Next, unrelatedly, let’s talk about Art. I just listened to a podcast on the philosophy of Art and a super intriguing idea was planted in my mind. The idea? All Art as “work song”.
I like this idea so much, it gives me so much joy, that I’m infecting you with this idea now. Is Art itself merely “work song” for our lives, comprehensively? If so, what does that mean? If not, how is genuine “work song” (like “I’ve been working on the railroad” sung by actual railroad workers while they work on the railroad to pass the time away…) different than Art?
Fascinating to consider. On the one hand, if all Art is work song, that paints a pretty depressing vision of life on Earth—as in, life is so bad we have to sing to get through it. But I don’t see why it has to. I like singing and I like working and I like singing while working. Just did it the other day. Was chatting movies on the leg home and belted out, “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying”. (Name that tune?) Made the crew chatty and made me smile.
As for me, I’m undecided as of yet. But I’m leaning towards siding with the “all Art is work song” crowd. What do you think?
Because Reading the Wall Street Journal for Free Feels Naughty — A Return to Beauty
Why do I always leap at the chance to read Peggy Noonan? Because she’s published by the Wall Street Journal. For my whole life that publication has been elevated as more valuable than all others. Simply put: it had better writing. But I would never pay for it. No way. It wasn’t that good. And I knew that if I did pay, then the guilty pleasure of sneaking in some articles at hotels or the gym locker room would have died.
But I’m tired these days. It’s still great writing. But reason matters to me too. And in Noonan’s Bogus Dispute op-ed of today she writes, “But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.” And later, “On top of all that, the outcome was moderate: for all the strife and stress of recent years, the split decision amounted to a reassertion of centrism.”
These two statements cannot be defended as reasoned conclusions. I’m not saying they are illogical. I’m talking about Reason, Locke style. Fear and worry have no place in a reasoned life. We are never right to worry. Never.
As for the second statement, it’s not only unreasoned, it is also false. Since when do polar opposites added together amount to centrism? Centrism amounts to centrism.
Noonan seems to think that conservatives can be abstracted up to a state-of-being similar to mere energy. And then she asks us to place that energy on one side of an equation where progressives are on the other side, similarly abstracted. Then, if anyone can even follow this mental gymnastic, she asks us to see that the result-announcing equal sign is the USA. (Or maybe the Flag.) Fortunately, she is wrong.
If Ms. Noonan wants us to ‘go abstract’, here’s how it would work. Conservatives abstract to, say, 70 million, and are added to progressives, -78 million, and the result as any fourth grader knows is not zero (or balance), but negative eight million (70,000,000 + -78,000,000 = -8,000,000). Or, concretely, a progressive President.
Life is not math, though. It is art. And the great thing, for optimists like me, is that even when there are less colors (freedom), art can still be beautiful. And that’s all that’s happened here. A few or perhaps even many colors are disappearing. So I, for one, look forward to the new restrictions, the new boundaries from which to make my masterpiece. But, then, I never did understand abstract art.
Review of Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan
It’s not a movie. Sure, in the technical sense it is a motion picture, but just now, while at Soopers when I saw the bluray for sale, it hit me. Dunkirk is not a movie. These type of missteps are expected, of course, from the truly creative human, of which Nolan is surely one. But he stepped out of his lane and tried to fool us, rather than just release it at Art House Cinemas or Fine Art Cinemas, the place where it belongs. And that move should cause him to feel some slight twinge of shame. We’re not mindless suckers, Mr. Nolan. We just like stories and are illiterate.
Whew, glad I got that one figured out.
Today my pizza delivery adventures took me (on a delivery) to a hospital with an automated, high-tech, and brisk revolving door. *I think* this sign is supposed to warn parents that the unmanned, potentially lethal object (UPLO) may not “see” children as surely as it does us big people.
But I also couldn’t help notice that this sign looks like the famous scene from the Sistene Chapel–if viewed through the eyes of the pizza-loving, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo.
Buy It Today! It’s Just Us, Daddy, by Pete Deakon and Illustrated by Kaelyn Williams is on sale now
You read that correctly. The long awaited illustrated children’s book is finally for sale on Amazon. Buy it by clicking here. Or here. Or here. You can also click here.
I plan on giving it to Glenn of Glenn Hates Books at the end of next week. Please don’t let his review (as awesome as it will be) be the first/only one posted.
Is Buried Within The Sequel To Brokeback Mountain?
The biggest reason you should know the answer is “no” is that the book isn’t topping any best seller list.
Lesson learned, okay? After seeing The Divorce and Doom of Simon Pastor not sell, I figured this whole writing books thing was going to be about doing it my way. So I asked my friend, the same one who drew Simon’s cover, to do an oil painting this time. He told me, “Sure, but I don’t usually work with oil.” I replied, “I don’t normally write books. Let’s stretch ourselves.”
I happen to think the painting is great. But I can also admit that formatting it for the book cover took away a little bit, okay a lot, of the greatness. What I will never admit is that two men hugging in a forest are necessarily having sex together that night. Yet nearly everyone that I have talked to in person, not to mention Glenn and one other blogger on his review, have expressed that they expected Buried Within to have something to do with gay men or Brokeback Mountain based on the book cover.
What I really want to say to you all is thank you. For a long time I have feared that it would come out that I’m homophobic. What with my fundamental Christian upbringing, my military background, my having been married and having a child, my love of Michael Mann and Tom Cruise, I mean all these things are classic symptoms of homophobia. But then I heard these rumblings about the book cover and felt an immense swelling of pride. It really is a sign of the times, I think, that you think I have it in me to write a story centered on two gay men. (It also seems like you would prefer to read that book ((which is itself fascinating to me–and noted)) over a simple story of male friendship.)
So thank you.
But, unfortunately for my bank account, Buried Within is an exploration into a pair of men’s hearts that reveals a love that transcends sexuality. It is not about burying anything within anybody–forest or no forest.
Now take your mouse or finger and click here to buy the book. Pick up my other two while you’re there. Do it out of pity. Do it out of the acute feeling of guilt you should have for judging a book by its cover. But do it in any case. And remember, buying a book doesn’t mean you have to read it, neither do you need a Kindle to buy the Kindle version for the low, low price of $1.99.
Free Day At The Art Museum
“Pete, I think that that was the line.”
“There are so many couples here.”
“We’re the cutest couple in this place,” say two teenage girls loud enough for 1995 to hear after taking a selfie.
A flock of college students approach a twenty foot tall stack of folded quilts. To the agreement of the rest, one female righteously asserts, “They should give these to the homeless.”
“I don’t think I’m a museum person.”
“I mean it’s alright, but I’m not that intrigued or even empathetic to the artwork. I don’t get most of it. I saw that Picasso piece. I was impressed that I was actually looking at a Picasso. Really, though, all I know is he cut off his ear.”
“He was insane.”
“Right. I will say this though. You and I, and H-, we’re walking around here, looking around. When you see something you like, you walk away, and I don’t think twice. I’ve been doing the same. H- too. Then we find each other and move on. It’s a very nice pace. But I’ve never seen couples do that. Have you been watching the guy’s faces as they follow their women around? Art is a very individual thing, no?”
“I have. Did you see that one, the dude with that smokin’ redhead by where we had H- dancing to the African drums? He looked miserable.”
“Oh my god. George. Read that first sentence over there.”
George turns and reads about Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Trade Canoe for Don Quixote piece.
Indian canoes were used on the river highways for thousands of years, but after the Great Invasion, they were also used by trappers, traders and U.S. government agents.
His head quickly retreats an inch in disbelief before turning to Pete.
“I know. Great Invasion. How does that get published? Just stick to drawing lady.”
“I wonder how far she’ll get before she realizes you’re not next to her.”
“I don’t know. She’s been doing it all day.”
Pete quickens his pace to keep H- in sight.
“Little girl! Little girl! Where’s your pare-”
“Sir, you need to stay in the same room as your child. You don’t know how many kids we lose here.”
Arpicembalo Che Fa Il Piano E Il Forte
“Large keyboard instrument that produces soft and loud (Barron 95).”
At seven feet long, six hundred seventy pounds, and taller than a toddler, it demands attention. But for a few aesthetic nuances, there is purpose in every handcrafted stationary and moving part. Equally beautiful and functional, the black behemoth exemplifies creativity. Neither do its origins disappoint. Cristofori’s problem was monotony. The harpsichord produced one sound. The strings were plucked. No matter how hard or soft the musician pressed down on the keys, the resultant volume was the same. But life’s spark would not let the matter rest. He sought both soft and loud, and henceforth created a new connection to the Infinite.
Mystifying in its identical name, the keyboard these words are typed on sits atop a wooden table in a room whose walls and closed blinds seem inclined to constantly advance inward. The piano keeps them at bay. Its weight symbolizes its persistence to preserve its place in this world.
The words begin to grow short. The afternoon advances. The man approaches confidently, if lazily. As he steps around the bench, his body brushes against the hanging blinds. He pulls his hand up short of the light switch. As if unable to contain a joyful secret, the swinging blinds reveal the sun is shining. He opens them and smiles.
There is nothing, I mean nothing, that compares to playing the piano in the light of the sun.
*Barron, James. Piano: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand. New York: Times, 2006. Print.