Wednesday, July 30, 2008

X-Files Re-enforces all We Are Afraid to Believe

X-Files Re-Enforces all We Are Afraid to Believe
by Michael Bernard
for The Corner News

Mystery, wrapped in intrigue, sprinkled in enigma. David "Red Shoe" Duchovney makes his long anticipated return to the franchise and was worth the wait. Sure, Agent Dugget replaced Mulder at some vague point in the last season. We never accepted that. In fact, the only last season episodes I have ever watched was with my best friend Tuesday, during a marathon on FX we could not ignore.

As usual, Mrs "I didn't get inseminated by Aliens or be put in a coma by them" Dana Scully is here as always to be the cynic. Apparently I missed the part where Mulder returned from the dead and/or aliens. I saw one episode during that storied Tuesday Marathon where Mulder came back and died again.

The long established dynamic of conflict between our dual protagonists is ever-present.
Apparently, Scully has moved on. Mulder is still chasing phantoms. A mysterious plot develops, and Mulder and Scully are, as common in this mythology, caught in the middle. Religious overtones overwhelm, as the well-known poster in Mulder's office admits, We are left wanting to believe.

What kind of God would kill us all? Maybe the one everyone is searching for.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harvest Moon and Heat Lightning

Harvest Moon and Heat Lightning

Tonight I sit on the stairs, watching the harvest moon rise dark red into the night sky and growing waves of lightning swelling and approaching. I have in my hands no less than a miracle I luckily bartered for the day before, a wireless PDA, and am absorbing right now the enormity of how awesome it is to be able to be outside, with a device smaller than a wallet, and instantaneously be able to create and publish literature. What we now take as commonplace would have been magic just one lifetime ago. I hear thunder approaching and know now the lightning is not harmless as first imagined.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cacti Saves The Day

Cacti Saves The Day
by Michael Bernard
for The Corner News
Published July, 16, 2008.

"It began with a phone call," Cacti's front man explained as my small party excitedly awaited the music's beginning, "Whoever was supposed to play tonight cancelled and as luck would have it, I know the guys who work up here and they recommended us."

Luck was on the side of the crowd, however, as we were all immediately grooving with Cacti's Medeski, Martin, and Wood influenced blend of acid jazz. The ambiance was pure coffee house, although the Ale House is much better known for it's selection of unique brews. Cacti is a five-piece band featuring, in addition to the usual guitar, bass, second guitar and percussionist a saxophonist, which is the first indication the casual observer may have that they are in store for something special.

"I'm not too familiar with this type of music," C.K. of Montgomery said in between songs, "but I really like it. All the musicians seem really talented, but the drummer is my favorite. I'm kinda partial to drummers, however..."

Even though it would seem that the most recognized formula for dance music these days would be hip-hop or techno, members of the audience were compelled into dancing to the vibe flowing forth from Cacti's versatile musical stylings almost from the first beat.

"It's really just a lot of fun to get to play in front of people who are enjoying the music as much as we are," Cacti's lead guitarist mused in between numbers, "I hope we get to do this again, with advance billing even."

I have no doubt that we can look forward to hearing Cacti again around Auburn very soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Slavery Tastes Better

Slavery Tastes Better

The first indication I had that it was Saturday was the fact that it was no longer Friday, that, or else the sun had stayed up for a very very long time. I was leaning toward Saturday, but Sunday was not entirely out of the question as well. Binge drinking is weird like that. Time no longer progresses predictably or in a linear fashion. A good many of us binge drinkers are, in fact, with hazy brain, trying to solve the secrets of time travel, if only so that we can go back in time and see all the things we can't remember doing over the years.

The first person I talked to after being released back into the wild was Solara, who I had tried to call from inside and who I wanted to let know I was alright. I had in fact only needed her help in communicating to my various employers my whereabouts and prognosis for the near-term future. Having been otherwise unable to discuss this simple matter to Solara directly I feared that she had possibly gone off the deep end trying to assist me in my apparent time of need. We talked for a second and the subject of my getting the last remnants of my stuff that Solara had held on to for me since we lost the house came up and we agreed to get together at some time friday.

Friday began with my talking with my editor and finding that there were two assignments still available for me at this late point so I determined that I would try and go to the one that evening, and failing that I would no problem be able to go to the one Saturday night. Quite elated I then went as planned to the gas station for cigarettes, and being in the sort of mood that comes upon a gonzo journalist when fortune turns her head to our creative endeavors, got a twelve pack of Natural Ice, my beer of choice. If the opportunity to go to the assignment on Friday panned out--such as another fortuneful ride from my friend Daniel the Music Guru--I wanted to already be drunk so that I wouldn't spend my entire income derived from going on the assignment on the beers necessary to get it accomplished. The average person may wonder, why drink at all?, but the only reasonable answer to that question is the question posed by all of us in professional journalism, that being, what point is there in doing anything if you can't do it drunk or high or both?. No matter, our reputation is still better than astronauts.

Dinky sent me a text message early friday morning with the picture of a side of a Uhaul and a "Did You Know" on the side that said something along the lines of (paraphrasing) "Did you know that scientists monitor solar wind, changes in solar activity, and the electromagnetic troposphere to predict weather on our own planet. For more information about Space Weather go to UHaul(dot)com." Dinky then added the words, "I guess N.A.S.A. is no longer the authority." Just after I purchased my cigarettes I looked on the back, where the Camel Bucks used to be, and there I found this tremendous kernal of information.

To which I added the postscript, "Slavery Tastes Better". Once I got started on the Natural Ice's I don't remember a whole lot else about friday, except that at some reasonable time in the mid-evening Solara tried to call me to make good on our pact as far as transfer of my belongings but I was already so intoxicated I knew it would not be in my best interest to try and see Solara (or anyone else).

I woke up confused Saturday, mildly, eventually putting together the story of how I ended up back in my bed, and happy to find out no out-of-ordinary drunken madness had taken place the night before. There was talk that I had stayed up until five in the morning giggling, every once in a while stopping long enough to say "Coach" or "C.K.", but I am not sure what to make of such speculation. Friends were coming to visit us from Montgomery, and I wasn't sure if it was someone I knew already or not, but luckily I had enough beers left over from the night before (mysteriously I had reupped on beer at some point)so be good and drunk well before noon. I wanted to make sure and be completely ready for my assignment to report on the band and atmosphere that night at the Olde Auburn Ale House, one of my favorite places in Auburn ever since the time I spent living in the Heart of Auburn and walking to the Ale House to get blasted drunk every day for two months.

And that's when I met him.

C.K. (you can't see the "X's" he has drawn on his own hands, indicating his "Straight-Edge" leanings.)

C.K. is not like your regular person. You know. The type that has a father and maybe both parents or maybe no dad at all, probably has a career or something and maybe a girlfriend and a dog. No, C.K. is nothing like that. C.K. stands for "Coach's Kid". This is the closest we have come in all of our travels to actually meeting the illustrious and mysterious Coach! I was very dismayed and intrigued to learn that C.K. is very much a straight-edge, Jesus-Freaking, Sober good time having guy. He doesn't drink, smoke, or smoke. As soon as C.K. and his girl from Montgomery showed up we went to the grocery store, where I was able to reup on corn dogs, french fries, and more beer (seemed like a good idea to go ahead and get that taken care of just in case). A gambling debt was paid off to me on arrival back home in the form of a bottle of Evan Williams (uh oh), and Wii bowling ensued.

Later in the evening, long after my ability to focus or remember my assignment had passed, C.K. reminded me about my assignment, so the three of us, C.K., his girl from Montgomery, and I went to the Ale House where the scheduled band had already cancelled and we were confronted with the meager prospect of a fill-in band, which I wasn't sure either nullified my assignment or not. I was excited after talking with the lead singer and learned they cited Medeski, Martin, and Wood as influences. Disappointment followed, however, when I was not allowed to drink inside the Ale House (my I.D. was confiscated after my latest brush with Uncle Sam), but I was able to take the following pictures of dancing girls and guitar playing that look eerily like the mental state I was in at this point. My notes on the names of the band members, what I remember to be the band's myspace address, and C.K.'s personal contact information was on a napkin I later spilt a beer on and then our dog ate so my subsequent article lacked these details.

Girls Dancing to Cacti.

Not Sure.

A guitarist for Cacti

My favorite picture, reminiscent of Charles Peterson's famous photography of the band Nirvana.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Beauty Curse

The Beauty Curse

It hovers there
grasped by our senses shallow
and swallowed deep percieved
with dangers lurking sweet serene
beyond all we know we can hold
Vortex Spinning Gravity
no safe harbor home
havens all seem to slip in time
to own is to lie
no permanence to hold
no endeavor so foolish
so bold
a path towards fulfilled Desire
Imperial Fantasy
Eternally Fated Misery

WallKill Valley Times Article

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Off The Wagon Rocks The Capitol Sunday Night

Off The Wagon Rocks The Capitol Sunday Night
by Michael Bernard
For The Corner News
Published July 9, 2008

In the very shadow of the Alabama Capitol building, Off The Wagon hosted another in their long line of musical showcases sunday evening. Featuring Veil of Maya, A Life Once Lost, and Emmure in support each's new album, the music was hard and heavy.

Veil of Maya of Chicago, Illinois, began the night with their powerful riffs and gutteral vocals, and it was apparent to all that this was going to be a special concert. Off The Wagon was nearing capacity before the end of Veil of Maya's set, and I was among the many who felt like Veil of Maya had a chance to steal the entire show. Veil of Maya's new album, The Common Man's Collapse, is currently available via special release at Hot Topic.

"We've been around for about four years," Brandon, Veil of Maya's vocalist, said, "We were signed to Sumerian in September and have been on tour non-stop since November. It's really been a blast to be all around the country with all the other acts."

"This is our second show in Montgomery," Marc, Veil of Maya's guitarist, said, "The fans have been really supportive here and we look forward to coming back again."

Next up was A Life Once Lost of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in addition to the blistering music, additional lighting and stage effects added to their adrenaline fueled performance. The Tony Danza TapDance Extravaganza was scheduled to play next, but they were unfortunately unable to perform.

Also facing their own challenges, concert headliner Emmure suffered the loss of lead singer Frankie for the night and the stand-in, who presumably is a member of the band's technical team, did a remarkably spot-on performance of Emmure's set mix of hits and songs off of the new album, The Respect Issue.

"This is one of the better venues in Montgomery," Joey Keith of Auburn said after the performance, "It's all ages and just the right size to get you close to the band."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama's Relatives Are Not Enough To Convince Me

Barack Hussein Obama's Relatives Are Not Enough To Convince Me
for 24-Hours of Propaganda

Over the course of the last year of Political Coverage I have been berated with a cacophony of presumed "relatives" of Barack Obama, the now-official Democratic Presidential Nominee.

--Obama and Wild Bill Hickok are sixth cousins, six-times removed. Their common ancestor is Thomas Blossom, who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1629 from Leiden, Holland. Obama’s 4th great-grandfather, Jacob Dunham, was 6th cousins with Wild Bill. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann, is also a Dunham. Wild Bill Hickok is the famous Old-West outlaw gambler and lawman implicated in many cold blooded murders.

--distant cousins with at least seven other former U.S. presidents, including President George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Franklin Pierce and James Madison. As we may remember, the Bush's are also closely related to every European monarch on and off the throne and has kinship with every member of Britain’s royal family, the House of Windsor.

--related to Robert E. Lee, who was a general during the Civil War.

--counts Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill as a cousin

--Brad Pitt, famous actor, philanthropist and spouse of Angelina Jolie.

All of the above STILL doesn't make him any more qualified to be President than the Junior Senator from Illinois he is to begin with. McCain shed blood for this country in a foreign war, was a POW, and has been involved in Government Service every since.

George W. Bush should have been lesson enough for us to learn that we need to be careful in our presidential choice. Can we afford to take another young, inexperienced hot-shot? Or do we need a man who has spent his entire life in Public Service?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Waverly Brings Out The Crowds Over Weekend

Waverly Brings Out The Crowds Over Weekend
by Michael Bernard
For The Corner News
published July 2, 2008

Photo by
Mississippi John Doude played acoustic and slide guitar showcasing his country/blues sound in Waverly last weekend.

“I’ve always wondered about this place,” said Emma Keller of Auburn after being asked if it was her first time to Standard Deluxe. “As long as I’ve been in Auburn I have asked so many people where they got the cute shirt they were wearing and it seems like they are always telling me Standard Deluxe.”

Standard Deluxe, and its 15 years of sought after work in uniquely designed overprint T-shirts and silkscreen posters, may be Waverly, Alabama’s best kept secret.

But what brought the ever growing crowd to normally sleepy Waverly Saturday night was the most recent in Standard Deluxe’s concert performances.

Watermelon and other goodies were available immediately after entering the door, and from the opening strums of Mississippi John Doude’s guitar and beat of his bass drum, it was immediate to all that the all ages fun was just beginning.

“I am really pleasantly surprised at the turnout tonight,” Doude said just before he took the stage. “I come from a place just like this, McCool, Miss., and you really would have a hard time finding a crowd this big coming to anything out there.”

Doude showed great musical range as he switched from playing his acoustic guitar to playing slide, and the energy and outlaw-vibe only intensified.

“Now we are having fun!” Doude exclaimed as he switched from the acoustic to the electric guitar and finished his set with a flurry of deep and energetic blues songs.

Next, despite electrical difficulties that delayed and then halted mid-stream their second song, Blue Mountain of Oxford, Miss., took the stage and their stylized blend of blues and other influences picked up right where Mississippi John Doude left off. At times a listener may be reminded of such diverse bands as Mudhoney all the way to Pink Floyd in just a few bars of music, and the crowd was enchanted with the musical adventure unfolding in the Alabama night.
Auburn’s own Dirtnap took the stage for the finale performance and provided one of their best performances in memory. The sizeable crowd, of a few hundred people, never stopped flowing in as the night progressed. For the many who had made their first pilgrimage to Waverly this night, excited about the next installment.