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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My favorite/best tunes of 2010

While compiling the list, I realized that I never bought/downloaded two of these ten songs. I have to list these two even though I did not like them enough to buy them because this woman is easily one of the best pop songwriters this year and, compared to her contemporaries, she seems most likely to have a long and varied career instead of just being a fad or known for being outrageous

Teenage Dream

Yeah, the above video is a little cornball, but it's a song that reflects her upbringing. The best writers write what they know.

Here are the other eight tunes which were made popular and/or released in 2010. First, the not-so-surprising:

Disturbed "Another Way To Die" -- The first single from their latest album, it's the rare Disturbed tune that does NOT feature singer David Draiman's signature growl. It's also got the most political lyrics Disturbed have ever written. The video is disturbing (no pun intended) while not featuring the band members directly.

Three Days Grace "Break" -- Only 8 lines of verse and just over 3 minutes, I have been playing this song for the entire year and am still not sick of it. I almost sang it at one of my church's fundraisers, but I just couldn't find the notes Adam sings in the chorus, even after buying the sheet music. Fortunately, I have as long as I need to find those notes and that odd sing/shout voice.

Linkin Park "The Catalyst" -- It's not the best song on the album; however, it was the first single from "A Thousand Suns". The album will have several more singles/videos through 2011 to enjoy and the album is one of those rare albums that really should be listed start to finish now and then instead of shuffling the tunes. This album best captures Chester's rock singing, Mike's hip-hop/pop sensibility (and showcases the vocal lessons he took in the last couple of years) and DJ Joseph Hahn ("Blackout" is something, I would imagine, could only be managed onstage by Mr. Hahn using everything he has to perform it)

From the "hmm . . that's interesting" list:

Gorillaz "On Melancholy Hill" -- The rare Gorillaz tune that doesn't feature a guest rapper and/or guest singer on "Plastic Beach". The video has to show up as a Best Video nominee at the penultimate music awards show whose nominees will be announced next week -- it rivals "Feel Good, Inc."

Eminem ft. Rhianna "Love The Way You Lie" -- It's not Eminem's usual introspection wrapped in violent word choice that grabbed me -- it was Rhianna's way of icily oozing out the chorus. Her choice of interpretation tells more about her struggles with domestic violence than perhaps she intended. Beautiful and chilling all at once.

Maroon 5 "Misery" -- Nice to have a pop band that plays actual instruments back on the scene after a many-year absence. Still can't listen to it without tapping some part of my body to the beat.

Cee-Lo "F**k You" -- Yeah, there's a clean version of the song called "Forget You". Forget it. This is a rare pop song that has earned the right to use the F-word that rhymes with truck as it just works better with the rest of the lyrics. Also, it's just great that a terrific singer who clearly grew up listening to Al Green and Marvin Gaye is doing as well as he is.

Finally, the song that may make your jaw drop:

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings "Better Things" -- OK, so 2010 was as good a year for hard rock as it was for classic soul/R&B sounds for me. Here's a fun, live-version of the song. Great singer, great band and it's well worth your time exploring your favorite audio or video posting site finding other cuts from their albums.

Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow and, if you buy any/all of these songs, the holidays will be a little bit better. Or, at least you can throw on the earbuds/headphones and crank it up when the family arguments begin ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Everything old is new again

I know I have received this e-mail before. This e-mail was dated yesterday from "Amy Smith" with an AOL e-mail address as a "reply-to" address. It's quick to become a classic "scam" e-mail.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pointer to employers for November 10, 2010

Here's a job listing I found while pouring over job listing e-mails earlier today:

There are a couple of good things about this posting:

I could forward my resume through the job listing website -- I did not have to apply through a third-party website.
The pay seemed reasonable given the job description.

My advice, unsolicited though it is, would be to avoid having someone who is not proficient in writing in English create and post job openings. I have read quite a few postings using the syntax in the above advertisement that, when I read a new one written in the same style, my first thought is "Scam!".

That said, with 12.5% unemployment in my state and me being without the second job, I sent my resume in using the job posting website, not the employer's website. I also removed my physical address and home phone number. I'll post a reply, if I get one, from this mystery company. Until then, here was how the job looked from the e-mail I received. And, yes, each Customer Care Representative position listed points back to the same job description above.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Christian, hard-rocking gay man

While this blog was always intended to be filled with posts under a pseudonym (Metalhead39), the use of a pseudonym does not make the person I am any less real. My first and last name has no bearing on the story, though I can say I never experienced hatred, name-calling nor any sort of physical or emotional abuse because of my ethnicity and gender. I wrote this post as a way to give some teenager or 'tween' someone to identify with, especially in light of multiple suicides successfully committed by several boys in recent weeks.

The first time I spoke the phrase "I'm gay" to anyone happened when I was 18 years old. If that was the beginning of the story, this would take a lot less time to write. Within months of my official coming out, I met others who identified as gay or lesbian. I have known maybe one or two bi-sexual people and only know male-to-female transgendered people (though I may well know female-to-male transgendered people and they have not 'outed' themselves to me yet).

The story starts in the mid 1970's when I started Kindergarten in Wyoming. Within my first year at elementary school, I knew I was different from other boys. When on the playground, I sought out the company of and preferred playing with girls. Though thin through my college years, I was always the slowest runner, only played one season of soccer and, except for the typical child's outdoor games, avoided joining any sports organization until college, when I rediscovered my love of bowling.

I was skipped a grade ahead from 2nd to 3rd grade. This made me the youngest and the shortest child in every class until puberty started early in 9th grade. Growing to six feet tall shut a lot of mouths!

I did reasonably well in school, though soon learned that being extra smart led to being singled out. As much as any parent wants the most educational challenges for their bright children, children seek to keep their peers at their level. I first learned the power of teasing and bullying somewhere in 2nd grade and it started with bullying from girls. Yes, that fits a stereotype for a boy who is destined to grow up gay; however, I did not know the stereotype existed as a child.

I cannot recall the first time I heard the word "faggot" pointed at me. I cannot even recall how many times I was called "faggot", "fairy", "queer", or any of the other derogatory words for gay. I also cannot recall the number of times I returned the insult with the very same word ("faggot", "fairy", "homo", etc.) or how those whom I insulted felt as I tried using words to defend myself. High school and, especially junior high where the bullying was most intense, was over 25 years ago. I have long since accepted apologies from those who offered them to me for the way I was treated. I have also offered apologies for those to whom I redirected that rage, anger, confusion and self-hatred and I pray that those who needed to hear an apology from me took it as sincere. All of the negative feelings I had as a 'tween' and a teenager rose up as quickly in me as a grade-school volcano lava flow as I followed news of these multiple suicides.

When puberty started, I would fantasize as I explored my ever-changing body about what sex would be like with someone. The fantasies, try as I might to shape them, always involved only men.

The only gay men I ever knew were those few guys at school who were very effeminate. Even though they were in school, they never came out to me. In the mid-eighties, the Internet was something that was 'nerds-only' and consisted of Windows/DOS computer language screens with squaking modems connecting nerds to a network of bulletin boards. No FaceBook, Twitter or a search engine into which I could search for "gay". Not even a way to find other gay teens in the state or country was available to me.

Even if electronic communication was possible back then, I still could not identify myself as gay because:
  1. My high school years were spent living in a very conservative part of the country.
  2. I tried dressing in women's clothes one time to see if I felt more comfortable. I only wound up feeling more confused and swearing to myself I would never do any such thing again. The clothing never permitted me to express a different side of myself because that side never existed.
  3. While I was never a big sports fan, I never enjoyed the typical girl games/activities.
  4. While I could appreciate and sometimes enjoy groups like Duran Duran, Culture Club and the Pet Shop Boys, I was (and always shall be) a devoted metalhead. On my very first radio played The Who, Aerosmith, Steve Miller and Led Zeppelin. My uncle got me into Rush and I formed a special connection with all things heavy metal/hard rock.
  5. I was very comfortable (and still am somewhat) referring to people as "dude"
  6. For the most part, my speaking voice was mid-range for a guy. No lisp and/or high-pitched, fast-talking feminine-like patter came out of my mouth. Once I came out, I began exploring that part of the culture and, now and then, let the "grrrrl" tone of voice come out.
A few months after I came out, I started going to Sunday evening youth group meetings at the county's Gay & Lesbian center. While there were plenty of effeminate men sashaying about, I also met men who were more masculine than many of the straight men I knew as well as those who "picked and chose" their likes and dislikes without regard to the stereotypical gender roles.

I had thought plenty of times as a teenager of killing myself. Blessedly, I never formed a plan to do this. I could not imagine any method of suicide that did not involve pain, stealing something illicit to complete the act or some way of doing the deed and not having my mother be racked with pain for the years to follow. At times, it was a minute-by-minute decision to not kill myself fueled only by my greater fear of causing my mother psychological harm from which she might never have recovered.

I never spoke with a therapist/psychologist and/or psychiatrist as a child. I knew of no "peer" of mine nor a teacher or other trusted adult to whom I could visit and figure out someway of reconciling my burgeoning sexuality with my personality. The only person I knew who would have accepted me even as a mess of confusion lived clear across the country.

I even have a Bible, given to me as a child, in which I underlined and highlighted passages which purport to talk about homosexuality as a sin. It was not until my early twenties that I learned many of those passages were translated only after choosing one interpretation of the original text as it best fit the popular culture (and, in some cases, the reigning King) of the times. Before then, however, I had resigned myself to the same mantra many LGBTQ people did regarding their own religion: if I am destined to be damned to Hell upon my death, I will make my life on this earth as best as possible until my final breath.

To any gay, lesbian, bi-, trans or queer/questioning youth reading this post, my message is that I, like your gay brothers, lesbian sisters, fellow bi-'s and the trans community, know deep in my heart that your emotional battles are waged day to day, hour to hour and even minute to minute while you are convinced you are the only combatant in a war where everyone else has declared themselves your enemy.

When those feelings surface -- write them down, post them on your blog (anonymous, if you like), find any adult whom you trust will listen and speak to them, paint a picture, write a song, take a walk, eat an apple, send a postcard to PostSecret or even play with the family pet. Dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, frogs and birds are never judgmental and only offer unconditional love, even if it's just in the form of curling themselves around you.

You are even welcome to reply to this post. I always have a link to The Trevor Project, which runs a 24 hour, 7 day a week help line with a toll-free number so that phone number won't appear on your parents' phone bill.

I don't want to lose one more child/young adult to a bully, even if you have become your own worst bully.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seth Walsh, California Teen Who Endured Gay Taunts, Commits Suicide

If you see yourself in this teenager's story, please seek help as soon as possible. Here's a good place to start: http://www.thetrevorproject.org.

I am grateful to have made it through my teen years with all of the taunting, having forgiven my taunters. These stories, though, still bring tears to my eyes.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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