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Book Review “Into Thin Air”

Posted by bmac on June 21, 2008

After reading Jon Krakauers book about Chris McCandless “Into The Wild”, I tought I’d check out his next book, “Into Thin Air” about the deadliest single day in the history of Mt. Everest, May 10 1996, told from his perspective, as a member of one of the ill-fated expeditions that day.

Climbing Everest has become a business. The routes up the mountain have been narrowed down to a science to the extent that even inexperienced climbers can make a summit attempt, with the help of guides, and Sherpas. If you can cough up $65 grand, and are in decent physical condition, there are “Adventure Teams” that will all but drag your ass up to the highest point on planet Earth.

The really hard part however, is getting down, and Everest is littered with the frozen corpses of climbers who stood on top of the world, only to collapse on the descent, at which point, they are left for dead, because carrying them down the mountain is impossible, even for the masterful Sherpas. Climbers routinely trudge right by dead or dying “clients” overtaken by “Summit Fever,” who refused to turn around at the alotted time, because the summit was in reach.

This is what’s fascinating about this book. Climbing Everest is a three month process, as climbers have to acclimate to the altitude, to be able to make the final push to the summit, and by the time they’ve gotten to where they can make that push, the clock is ticking against their survival in the extreme cold and thin air. The summit of Everest is the halfway point of a 15-20 hour day of extreme conditions, after months of depriving their bodies of precious oxygen, and living in miserable conditions on the mountain.

This is where it gets ugly, and where things went wrong for Krakauers group, and several other expiditions that day in 1996. Many of the guides feel a responsibility to summit their clients who’ve paid so much to stand atop this mountain, and against their better judgement, will continue on to the summit well past the pre-arranged turn around time, and some clients just will not stop, (summit fever).

Krakauer takes us through the three month process, and the harrowing final two days spent in a deadly storm in the “Death Zone,” as his fellow climbers were dying or near death, stranded on the mountain without oxygen or shelter.

Fascinating stuff, riveting from beginning to end, and here’s the article Krakauer wrote for Outside magazine shortly after his return from Everest, which he expanded on for the book.

Check it out, it’s a great read. This particular incident has been exremely controversial, and here’s an interesting ten-year follow up from Outside.

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Posted in Pop Culture, Slow News day | 22 Comments »

One More Quick Movie Review

Posted by bmac on May 29, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I rented this with that slew of crap, and just got to it last night. This made up for all that shit. I loved it. I think this is a love/hate kinda movie, like P.T. Andersons other love it or hate it film, “Magnolia,” which I HATED. Although I will say it contained the absolute best performance of Tom Cruise’s entire career.

P.T. Anderson seems to have a way of getting great performances out of unlikely actors, like Cruise, or Burt Reynolds who was awesome in “Boogie Nights,” the only other Anderson film I like love. “Boogie Nights” also contained the best, most realistic depiction of dudes “tweaking” ever committed to film.

There’s not a great story in “There Will be Blood”, and the ending sucks, but Daniel Day Lewis kept me riveted for 2 1/2 hours. I could have watched 2 1/2 MORE hours of him being Daniel Plainview. He acted his face off. He deserved that Oscar, and then some. Friggen awesome.

I’m glad I didn’t really know anything about this movie other than Lewis winning the Oscar, because you just can’t tell where it’s going, right up until the end, and I love that. Lewis was so great, I didn’t even feel ripped off by the crappy ending.

Posted in Pop Culture, Slow News day | 9 Comments »

Movie Reviews

Posted by bmac on May 27, 2008

In between UFC, drinking and BBQ’s this weekend, I watched a few movies, and damn, was I disappointed. I realized why I almost never rent movies anymore, because they all suck. Have movies always been this bad? And yes, they’re old, and I’m really glad I didn’t see them in a theater.

First up: Cloverfield

It’s all been said about this film, but I would add, that a ptoentially really awesome concept was totally blown. I hate to see such a cool idea turn into something so utterly pointless. Big monster wrecks New York, they nuke it, the end. Does anybody have any imagination anymore? It literally was Godzilla shot with a video camera. Obviously, this entire film was made around a concept for a kick ass trailer.

Well, they succeeded, it was a kick ass trailer.

Speaking of lack of imagination, I had high hopes for:

National Treasure 2: Book of National Treasure One

Fuck, can these guys even try? Another gigantic underground cavern with oil trenches just waiting 200 years for Nic Cage to touch his torch to and light the place up revealing an amazing lost city of gold? A precarious balancing act on another rickety old thing above another super deep hole? Why even go to the expense of re-filming it?

I just don’t get how with a movie this big, that cost as much as this cost, that they couldn’t get a kick ass script. Couldn’t they throw around enough money to get an amazing writer? When they spent 90 billion dollars to start production of this thing, didn’t anyone say, “Ummm……isn’t this a weak version of the same movie with the oil trenches and over the top treasure, but way less believable and corny?” Anyone?

What are they gonna do for National Treasure 3, find Atlantis in the basement of the Washington Monument? They pretty much can’t make one now that wouldn’t be ridiculously asinine. Ruined what could have been a really cool franchise by waaaay over doing it. Once again, Hollywood totally misreads the public. The cool thing about the first National Treasure, was all the clues, not the big stunts, or action sequences.

Finally, Alien Vs Predator-Requiem

Somebody should be killed for making this. The first one was marginally entertaining, but this was an abortion. Again, I just don’t know how something this horrible gets made. There’s nobody to root for in this movie. How does a script this bad get filmed? With good effects and everything? No story, no hero, they kill fucking babies in this nightmare for Gods sake. It was beyond offensive, and I’m pissed that I somehow contributed to it’s existence.

Ok, so if you haven’t seen these, ummm…SPOILER ALERT!! THEY SUCK!!!

Posted in I'm Pissed, Rant, Slow News day | 22 Comments »

The Really Cool, Spy “Numbers Stations” ……For Spies

Posted by bmac on May 23, 2008

I’ve posted about these before, but I got nothin’ to bitch about today, and it’s Friday, so let’s have some fun with:

The Spooky Numbers Stations.

I love these things. Most of you are probably aware of these, but if you’re not, here’s a Wiki definition of these shortwave spy stations, which were discovered in the 70’s, when short wave radios became popular, and people started to find these bizarre broadcasts that seemed to make no sense. Some of them had been on the air since as far back as WWI.

They generally broadcast voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a radio alphabet), tunes or Morse code.

The voices that can be heard on these stations are often mechanically generated. They are in a wide variety of languages, and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used.

They’re also incredibly spooky sounding, and for some reason, many of them use music, like tinkly music box music, which just adds to the creepiness. Or tinkly music box music with a little girls voice reading numbers in a foreign language, which when combined with the static of shortwave, makes the hair on your arms stand up. Some horror movies have used these things as background to add a disturbing element you can’t quite put your finger on.

Check out this one, called “The Swedish Rhapsody”, but listen to the whole thing, because it gets creepier as you go. This is the one with the little girls voice, and the creepy tinkle music.

This one here, is just fucking disturbing.

Here’s one with just numbers.

This one inspired the title of the band Wilco’s album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”

I always picture a spy with a little radio sitting in some dank foreign basement with like a candle on the table, as evil Russian spies are closing in on him, listening to this message and writing it down on a piece of paper he’s gonna eat later when they catch up to him. I also wonder how these messages are translated, and by that I mean, what could 1,5,8,4,2,7, possibly mean? How much information could be in those numbers?

Many of these stayed on the air for 20-40 years, which makes me wonder if the spy ever got it, or was captured.

Even weirder, was that little girls voice and tinkly music an order to kill someone? Did that sequence of numbers lead to one, or many deaths? My simple mind reels with the possibilities.

The other really cool thing about these, and why they’re still in use today, is that these codes are 100% unbreakable. The spy and his handler were (are) the only two people that have the code, known as a “One time pad.” A spy almost anywhere in the world without the use of a trackable phone, could simply pick up a widely available shortwave radio, and receive messages from his handler.

If you’re really man enough, listen to a bunch of these, late at night, in the dark, by yourself.

It’s spooky cause it’s true.

Interesting fact: In the U.K., it’s illegal to listen to them on a radio.

Posted in Slow News day, Weird | 61 Comments »

A Little Music For The Weekend

Posted by bmac on May 17, 2008

In an effort to totally confuse readers of this blog, I like to feature music that I really like, which usually tends to be by musicians and artists that radically rage against everything I believe in, right in front of a hard-core political post. Keeps it interesting I think. Plus, I just can’t muster up anything interesting on current events today, so with that give you:

My favorite band from the 90’s, Sublime. I loved these guys, mostly because they just didn’t give a fuck. They were ugly, they almost never wore shirts, even though they were pretty chubby, and their dogs went with them everywhere, including onstage. I dig that.

They were notorious for bad live shows, as the singer, Bradley Nowell (RIP) was usually drunk, but their records were great. One of their albums, “40oz. To Freedom” is one of my all time favorites, and I think it cost about 200 bucks to make. It’s one of those albums I just never get tired of. Every song is about drinking and drugs, or getting thrown out of places for drinking and drugs, and there’s lots of references to guns and dogs and jail.

This song, “Doin’ Time” from their breakthrough album “Sublime” is a very cool take on Gershwins “Summertime.” Bradley Nowell was already dead when this album came out and this video was made, but his beloved dog, Lou, was still kickin’, and appears in the video. I saw them live once, and sure enough, Lou Dog was right there on stage with them. I wish I wasn’t as drunk as I was when I saw them, (about 13 years ago) but I didn’t know Brad would be dead within the year.

Interesting factoid: A Sublime tribute band called “Badfish,” has played to more people, and made more money than the real Sublime ever did in their entire career.

Posted in Music, Slow News day | Leave a Comment »

Mahoney Heads

Posted by bmac on May 12, 2008

Man, nothing is remotely interesting lately. Is it just me? I’m bored to tears with politics, pop culture is blah, I don’t know, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here, and look what I found in the disgusting muck:

Internet Skank Tila Tequila Gets A Book Deal.

This is a hard one for me to understand. Not that she has a book, but why anyone is interested in this chick at all. Even by stripper standards, she’s a total skank. Seriously, if you think this chick is hot, they must love you at the discount topless bar.

She’s got a weird square jaw, a tiny mouth, giant eyes, and a really bad boob job. She sorta looks like an alien. An annoying alien with bad boobs. She’s just “off”, like a couple of chromosomes got mixed up during the hotness “quickening” before she was born.

We used to call these girls “Mahoney Heads.” That basically means, they kinda could be hot under the most ideal circumstances, like great lighting, just the right amount of Jagermiester, being 2 A.M.,  and standing next to a fat girl. They have an Ok body and hair, but the face is just……wrong. They also usually have a ridiculous amount of perfume, or body spray on, which should always be a big red flag.

Maybe it’s because she is so gross, that guys think she’s attainable. That must be it. Maybe there’s like three million dudes out there that think being her MySpace friend is the fast track to winning her undying skank love.

My favorite line from the article:

“The world cannot get enough of Tila Tequila,”

Mahoney Heads rejoice! Your time has come! Your Mohono-siah is here!

 

Posted in Celebutard, Pop Culture, Slow News day | 14 Comments »

A Little Music For The Weekend-Jeff Buckley

Posted by bmac on May 3, 2008

No, I’m not gay.

But I dig this guy. Don’t let the effemenite looking male model-esque YouTube freeze put you off, this dude was a genius. I say was, because if you don’t know, Jeff Buckley is no longer with us. He died in 1997.

Most people know Jeff Buckley from his brilliant cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” but Jeff was a brilliant songwriter in his own right, as well a an amazing musician. This is kind of an obscure Buckley song, from his second, never finished album, “My Sweetheart The Drunk.”

If you dig music that’s just a little quirky, but beautiful, ala Radiohead,or Chris Cornells’ solo stuff, you’ll love Jeff Buckley. He’s also got that kind of mysterious artist thing going for him, that is so sorely lacking in the MySpace/Facebook era of knowing every single fucking stupid detail about rock stars lives.

He was a very secretive dude, the son of severely troubled singer Tim Buckley, loathed the press, and even died under mysterious circumstances. How can you not love that?

In the absolute septic tank full of shit that passes for music these days, please enjoy a breath of fresh air from a brilliant artist that was only at the beginning of his career when he tragically passed away, leaving us all to suffer the indignity of having our ears assaulted by the likes of Chris Doughtry.

Posted in Music, Slow News day | 2 Comments »

I Too, Have Received A Tag

Posted by bmac on April 10, 2008

The lovely Nice Deb has tagged me with the “six word meme”. I totally suck at this type of stuff, but hey, I’ll give it a shot.

When I was a kid here in Vegas, we all had dirt bikes, because back then, there was a whole lot of empty desert to ride around in. Not so much anymore. Kids in Vegas these days do other stuff, like shoot each other.

There was a guy that lived on my street that was a little older than my friends and I, and he was a pro Moto-Cross rider. He won a lot, and never seemed to get hurt. We’d always ask him how he did it, and he would always say: “When in doubt, just gas it.

Actually he said “When in doubt, gas it” but that’s only five words, so I’m taking a little poetic license to make it work. As a rider, it got me out of a lot of hairy situations, and that phrase has served me well over the years in other situations when I was nervous.

Not sure if that qualifies as a “meme” but in the spirit of fun, I tried.

So there you go. Now I gotta tag five people…..hmmmm….how about:

Steamboat McGoo

eddiebear

Cuffy Meigs

Ummm…I know that’s only three, but I don’t feel like I know anyone that hasn’t already been tagged well enough to tag. And I can’t tag group blogs, so that exempts the Hostages.

At the very least, shoot them some hits.

Posted in moron bloggers, Slow News day | 14 Comments »

Divorce: Hip Hop Edition

Posted by bmac on March 27, 2008

Kind of a slow news day, so I was checking out Breitbart’s entertainment news, and I ran across a few interesting things, one of which was “rap mogul” Russell Simmons is getting divorced, after a seven year marriage. I hate to feel happy about someone else’s pain, but in this case, I think I’ll make an exception. From what I understand, Russells’s wife, a former model, is a raving bitch, who spends his money with reckless abandon, while pretending to be a mogul herself because he gave her the baby clothes division of his clothing line.

I happened to catch Russell and his wife’s episode of “Cribs” a while back, and for starters, I had no clue Russell Simmons made the kind of money he does, but he’s doing really well. They had probably the most ostentatious, pretentious, over-the-top, ridiculous “Crib” I have ever seen. Plus, it was 49,000 square ft. For two people, and a couple kids. Have you ever been in a 49,000 square ft house? Ten families of four could live in a 49,000 square ft house, and never see each other. Here, see for yourself.

Here’s Mrs. Simmons, looking fabulous (with a maid in the background)

baby.jpg

How he thought this bitch wasn’t gonna clean his clock is beyond me. Not very-mogul like, Russell. She also tried to run from the police, and got arrested for possession of marijuana.

k_simmons.jpg

I half expect Tyra Banks and Miss J. to critique this mugshot, it’s so fucking fabulous.

How Russell ever made any money in the first place is a mystery to me, judging by his decision making skills displayed in his choice of wife.

BTW, you’ve probably seen Russell on the O’Rielly Factor, he’s a frequent guest, always brought in to defend Hip Hop Culture, and he’s really active in the Rock the Vote campaign.

Posted in Celebutard, Good Luck With That, Slow News day | Leave a Comment »

Hi, I’m In Los Angeles

Posted by bmac on March 6, 2008

Just thought it would be fun to post something from out of state. I’m in L.A. at a FedEx Kinkos, getting charged a quarter a minute! Suddenly it seems like I should have something REALLY important to say, but alas, I don’t. I will have some pics of some very cool architecture tomorrow though.

Posted in Slow News day | 8 Comments »