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Archive for August, 2012

My Favorite Albums

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 31, 2012

My favorite albums of all time

Greatest hits-type collections don’t count, and I know I missed some good albums, but here are my top 90.

1 Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
2 Boston – Boston
3 Queen – The Game
4 The Cars – The Cars
5 Depeche Mode – Violator
6 Type O Negative – October Rust
7 Jeff Beck – Wired
8 The Cure – Pornography
9 REM – Document
10 Rush – Moving Pictures
11 David Bowie – Let’s Dance
12 The Cult – Love
13 Dead Can Dance – Into The Labyrinth
14 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
15 Queen – A Night At The Opera
16 Queen – News of the World
17 Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
18 Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
19 Ministry – The Land Of Rape And Honey
20 Jethro Tull – Aqualung
21 Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking
22 Lovespirals – Windblown Kiss
23 Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
24 My Dying Bride – The Angel And The Dark River
25 Manufacture – Terrorvision
26 AC/DC – Back in Black
27 Asia – Asia
28 Faith & the Muse – Elyria
29 Evanescence – Fallen
30 The Sisters Of Mercy – Floodland
31 Dead Can Dance – Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
32 Love Spirals Downwards – Ardor
33 Lovespirals – Free & Easy
34 Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
35 REM – Life’s Rich Pageant
36 Single Gun Theory – Like Stars In My Hands
37 Styx – The Grand Illusion
38 Journey – Infinity
39 Journey – Escape
40 Disturbed – The Sickness
41 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
42 Queen – Sheer Heart Attack
43 The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
44 Nine Inch Nails – Broken
45 Meat Beat Manifesto – Armed Audio Warfare
46 Deee-Lite – World Clique
47 INXS – Kick
48 Front 242 – Front By Front
49 Chick Corea – Light As a Feather
50 Moev – Yeah, Whatever
51 The Cure – Disintegration
52 Bauhaus – In The Flat Field
53 My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult – Confessions of A Knife
54 Marilyn Manson – The Golden Age Of Grotesque
55 Skinny Puppy – Rabies
56 Manufacture – Voice of World Control
57 Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
58 London After Midnight – Psycho Magnet
59 Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mother’s Milk
60 Love And Rockets – Love & Rockets
61 The Cult – Beyond Good And Evil
62 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
63 Dead Can Dance – Aion
64 Peter Murphy – Deep
65 The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
66 Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair
67 U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
68 The Church – Starfish
69 Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
70 Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
71 Sinead O’Connor – The Lion And The Cobra
72 Shinedown – The Sound of Madness
73 Rush – Clockwork Angels
74 Magic Sound Fabric – Uplift Drift
75 Love Spirals Downwards – Ever
76 Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes
77 The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat
78 The Cars – Heartbeat City
79 Van Halen – 1984
80 U2 – The Joshua Tree
81 The Cult – Sonic Temple
82 Jeff Beck – Blow By Blow
83 ZZ Top – Eliminator
84 Zero One – Prototype 2
85 Styx – Paradise Theater
86 Linkin Park – Meteora
87 Rush – Hemispheres
88 Zero One – Psy-Fi
89 Staind – Break The Cycle
90 3 Doors Down – Away From the Sun

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Digging Psybient Tunes

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 29, 2012

Lately, I (and my fiance as well) have been getting into a new-to-me/us form of music commonly called “psybient,” or psychedelic ambient. It’s basically a form of electronica also often called “chill out” music. Maybe you’re already familiar with it. I wasn’t.

I don’t know how I discovered psybient music. I was wandering around iTunes looking for some good ambient music to relax and go to sleep to when I came across several bands, and some of them sounded pretty good! Among these were Magic Sound Fabric, Zero One, Daksha, and Blue Stone. According to Wikipedia, “psybient is far more focused on creating a vast soundscape that can be experienced over the length of an album, focusing less on beatmatching and allowing for a myriad of tempo changes.” It’s almost completely instrumental, and it’s typically comprised of gentle grooves, although sometimes you get a song that’s nearly techno. Also, these groups are usually the project of just one person, although sometimes there are apparently some collaborations.

While still searching around using these groups as launching boards, I discovered another cool group — Carbon Based Lifeforms. CBL is a great psybient band produced on a French label called Ultimae Records. This label produces nothing but psybient music, some really good stuff. Some of the bands from this label that I’ve gotten into lately include Solar Fields, Cell, Aes Dana, Asura (really good!), Jaia, and my favorite, H.U.V.A. Network, a collaboration between Solar Fields and Aes Dana. It’s got a trance-like quality, a solid base beat, an ethereal sense to it, and it’s wonderful to relax to. Some non-Ultimae bands I’ve been listening to include Ott, Pitch Black, and Phutureprimitive.

Psybient music, or music that formed it, started back in the 1990s. One of the originators of this type of music was The Orb, known for their song, “Little Fluffy Clouds.” Other bands started creating similar music, and soon there was chillout, psydub, trance, ambient electronica, and now psybient. I’ve really enjoyed my foray into this musical world. If you want to kick back and relax to some mellow tunes, consider checking some of the bands I’ve mentioned out. You might be surprised with what you find!

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Future In-Laws Visit

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 28, 2012

This past weekend, my fiance and I hosted her parents who were visiting from Maryland for the first time since she moved down to Chattanooga one year ago. It was an exciting time, especially for her. I get along well with her parents, and they seem to like me too, so it was good to see them also.

They flew into Atlanta and drove up from there. They stayed at the Mayor’s Mansion Inn Bed & Breakfast near the UTC campus. It was quite plush. I was pretty impressed with the place. Nice B&B. As Gretchen worked all day Friday, and I was busy too, and as her parents had had a long travel day, we decided just to have dinner out Friday night. We went to the Terminal Brewhouse, where we had sandwiches and microbrews. I had a nice dark oatmeal stout. It was quite good. Afterwards, we walked next door to the Chattanooga Choo Choo and wandered around before returning to the B&B for an early bedtime.

Saturday morning, we brought them to our house so they can see where we live. They seemed to like our house and our neighborhood pretty well. They also got along with their new “grandcats,” Henry and Toby. We ate lunch at our house and then we headed out. Our first stop was the Georgia Winery. They give you eight free tastings, so Gretchen and I loaded up. Unfortunately, her parents didn’t seem too impressed. They use a muscadine grape to make their wines and it’s quite sweet, so it really wasn’t to their liking. Pity. Thus, we didn’t stay too long. We bought a bottle of wine and took off. Our next stop was Chattanooga’s famous Rock City, where you can see seven states at one time from the top of Lookout Mountain. We all had a good time there and the sights were good. We even got to see a birds of prey show complete with falcons, hawks, and an eagle. After that, it was late in the afternoon, so we took them back to their B&B and headed home to change. Why? My parents were on their way over because Saturday night, it was time for both sets of parents to meet for the first time. Xanax time. Seriously, I was pretty nervous. My parents are very religious and don’t drink, while Gretchen’s parents are not at all religious and do enjoy a beverage with their meals. I was nervous. We decided to go to a new place we’d never been before — Niko’s Southside Grille — a Greek place with a Southern flair. It was pretty nice. I had Greek fish and chips. It was so so. The cod was too dry. The Greek yogurt-based sauce was fairly decent though. Everyone got along well and both sets of parents complemented Gretchen and me as a couple, which was nice. After it was all over, we parted ways, and Gretchen and I went home and had a glass of wine.

Sunday morning, Gretchen’s parents came over to our place and we left shortly after to go visit Chester Frost Park to show them the beach Gretchen enjoys so much. We didn’t stay there too long, and soon after, we made it to Panera Bread for a light lunch. Man, was that place packed! I had a turkey and swiss sandwich. The others didn’t eat too much. After we left Panera, we stopped by Gretchen’s office to show them where she worked, and we then headed over to McKay Books, a huge used bookstore (along with CDs, DVDs, games, and more). We shopped for awhile, but I was the one who bought the most. I got eight books for $17, including two Philip K. Dick novels. It was a massive bargain! When we were done there, we parted ways to take a nap because none of us had slept well. Later that night, Gretchen and I picked her parents up and we went to The Blue Plate for dinner. Gretchen and I love that place because it’s so eclectic, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s on the Tennessee River downtown. Nice area. I had a margarita with Patron with dinner, while her parents had microbrews. When we were done, we went back to the B&B and sat on the veranda, talking. It was quite relaxing and we had a good time. That is, until the mosquitoes started swarming. We then said hasty goodbyes and we went home, thankful for a good weekend. Yesterday morning, her parents drove back down to Atlanta and flew back to Baltimore. A good time was had by all. We probably won’t see them again until the wedding, which we’re hoping will be next April. It was nice for them to see Gretchen in her new life, her new environment, what she does and where she does it. Now we’re all on the same page when we’re talking. It’s a good thing.

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A Review of Crossing Myself

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 21, 2012

Crossing Myself: A Story of Spiritual RebirthCrossing Myself: A Story of Spiritual Rebirth by Greg Garrett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book came strongly recommended to me by my fiance and after finishing it last night, we briefly discussed it. It’s not a bad book, but I also can’t say I was too impressed. The book centers around a crisis in the author’s life — he tried to commit suicide five years prior to writing this book. He focuses a lot on that and everything that comes out of it. My problem is simple. His suicide “attempt” wasn’t really an attempt. He stood in a traffic median in the middle of the night and contemplated stepping in front of an imagined oncoming truck for some two to 10 minutes before walking away. That, to me, is not a suicide “attempt.” It’s merely a thought and it doesn’t merit a book. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I’ve had my own demons to wrestle with and I know people who have actually gone through with suicide attempts and I’ve had people in my life who succeeded in their suicide attempts. THEIR stories need to be told, not some wannabe suicider who doesn’t even try.

I also found the author, Greg Garrett, to be fairly unlikeable as a person. At least he’s honest about himself though. He went through several failed marriages, drank, had a vicious temper, was allegedly battling depression, yet was somehow holding down a tenured teaching gig at Baylor University. I never figured out how he landed that job. He had kids, but I don’t think he was a great father, and he essentially admits to traumatizing his youngest by his nasty fights with an ex.

The kicker is, this guy is in seminary (although since this book was written a few years ago, I assume he’s out by now). He is in training to become an Episcopalian priest. While working at a Baptist school.

Here’s where I did identify with the author and why I’m raising my rating to three stars instead of two — he grew up a fundie with the fear of hell drilled into him on a near-daily basis, with regular alter calls, revivals, and the like. Huh, sounds like my childhood. And like me, he left the church and gave it up. I can identify a lot. What frustrated me a great deal about this book, though, was he never explains how he came to go to an Episcopalian church and how it “saved” him and turned his life around. Nowhere is that found. I, too, have had a bit of a spiritual rebirth and am active in an Episcopalian church of my own, something that would have been unthinkable in my upbringing. After all, those people weren’t “real” Christians and were going to hell. How did Garrett come to this point in his life?

Another problem I had with this book was that he comes across as somewhat of a spiritual advisor — or so it seems to me — but his life is royally messed up, even after he is re-“saved.” He’s forever calling his minister telling him he thinks he’s going to do something bad to himself to hurt himself. What a pansy! Geez, just swallow those pills and be done with it. OK, I say that somewhat frivolously, or I mean to at least, but it’s hard for me to take Garrett and this book too seriously when at his worst, he’s not that bad, and at his best, he’s not that great. He’s rather mediocre; why does he merit a book? My fiance will probably be disappointed with this review, because his alternative ways of viewing Christianity jive with hers (and with me too, to a degree), but I just can’t help feeling like this book ultimately fails in its mission, and that’s an unfortunate thing indeed.

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A Review of Everything Must Change

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 16, 2012

Everything Must ChangeEverything Must Change by Brian D. McLaren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tend to like Brian McLaren books and this one had potential. Unfortunately, I think it ultimately falls short of its goal, which is to educate us to an alternative way of acting with and within the world, in a God-centered fashion according to the principles of Jesus — his radical teachings being given as framework from which to start from.

McLaren does an interesting comparison between the conventional church and the emerging church early on. In asking why Jesus was important, he writes of the conventional view:

“Jesus came to solve the problem of ‘original sin,’ meaning that he helps qualified individuals not to be sent to hell for their sin or imperfection. In a sense, Jesus saves these people from God, or more specifically, from the righteous wrath of God, which sinful human beings deserve because they have not perfectly fulfilled God’s just expectations, expressed in God’s moral laws.”

He contrasts this with the emerging view:

“Through his life and teaching, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he inserted into human history a seed of grace, truth, and hope that can never be defeated.” This liberation from the fear of death is “a free gift they receive as an expression of God’s grace and love.”

Again, a conventional view contrast:

“The conventional view is very familiar to many of us; it is frequently defined as ‘orthodoxy’ and any departure from it as ‘heresy.’ … the purpose of Jesus was to provide a way for at least a few individuals to escape the eternal conscious torment of everlasting damnation.”

Wow. I’ve read McLaren before, so I know his views on the subject, but his view of the emerging church still resonates with me: “God’s concern is more holistic or integral, seeing individual and society, soul and body, life and afterlife, humanity and the rest of creation as being inseparably related…. God cares about ALL [my emphasis] people.”

McLaren writes that we in the world are trapped in a “suicide machine” devised by and of nearly everything in the world, even seeming polar opposites, such as liberals/conservatives, Democrats/Republicans, etc. He gives an interesting example of how one can compare and contrast the right’s obsession with abortion to the left’s obsession with global warming, in terms of how such things are sought, presented, dealt with, etc. That was an interesting component of the book.

Where the book fails me, though, is in its solutions to the problems outlined. McLaren asks us to believe 1) we live in a societal system or machine; 2) the system goes suicidal when driven by a destructive framing; 3) Jesus saw these dynamics at work in his day and proposed in word and deed a new alternative; and 4) Jesus’ creative and transforming framing story invited people to change the world by disbelieving old framing stories and believing a new one.

OK. I get the part about destructive framings. We’re all duped, manipulated, serving the wrong overseers, etc. I get it. What I don’t get are McLaren’s solutions. He doesn’t seem to offer any, at least anything tangible. He writes of a vague personal action, followed by a vague community action, followed by a vague public action, followed by a vague global action. Apparently, if we all act in a manner Jesus taught us to act, big things will change in a big way. Forgive my cynicism, but that sort of hippie idealism isn’t “new” or emerging — it’s unrealistic and unlikely. The world just isn’t going to change simply because some people start donating more of their time and money to worthy causes. Yin and yang. For every good, there is evil. I don’t see a way out. Of course, as an emerging Christian author, McLaren argues for heaven on earth, here and now, as opposed to some obscure future afterlife. That always sounds good to me, but how it’s actually accomplished is always a little vague for me at the same time. If we’re to experience heaven now, here on earth, what happens to our souls — assuming they exist — when we die? I’ve never had that adequately explained to me by an emerging Christian author, even Rob Bell.

So, pretty decent book, but mid-level material. Not overly thought provoking. Not a huge call to action, in my mind. Good read, stuff to contemplate, maybe some material that’s quite valid, but overall, perhaps a futile effort, and that’s sad.

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It’s Been a Year!

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 15, 2012

Today is the one year anniversary of when my then-girlfriend (now fiance) and I moved into our house to start our new life together. We had been dating long distance for some time, but I started looking for a place for us to live last June, with the intention of Gretchen moving down from Baltimore to join me when I found a place. Fortunately, my parents helped me locate our house. It’s a one story, ranch style house that’s got about 2,000 square feet, hardwood floors through most of the house, a huge kitchen with the longest island I’ve ever seen, and an even bigger den. Monstrously huge. Three beds, two baths, and a backyard patio to boot. All for a nice financial arrangement. So, we signed up and my parents and I went up to Maryland to rescue Gretchen and move her down to Tennessee.

On move in day, we unloaded Gretchen’s truck with the help of a friend. It wasn’t too hard; she didn’t bring too much with her. It was a bit of a tiring day though, so when everyone had left, we got some Arby’s to go, came back to our new home, opened a bottle of wine and dug in. That empty bottle of wine (a Biltmore Riesling) is still on the mantel over the fireplace in the den.

Two days later, we moved my stuff out of storage and into the house with the help of a moving company. I had a lot more stuff, and the house started filling up. We had to put some 80 boxes of my stuff in the garage. Over the course of the fall and winter, I’d gradually go through the boxes, keeping some, throwing much away, repacking some so that now there are about 20 boxes left stored in the garage and room to park.

Gretchen and I slept pretty well that first night — we were tired. I woke with a pain in my back though from her bed — a new bed for me, one I wasn’t used to. A hard mattress. It took a long time for me to get used to that mattress.

We started unpacking right away and got most of the house unpacked rather quickly. Fortunately, we had just enough storage for most things, so it went well. We set up our new 46″ HDTV in our huge den and it looked great there. I know, I know — we could have gotten a 60″ or bigger. Didn’t want one. Surely 46″ is big enough, don’t you think? My last TV was a 42″ one. I like the one we bought.

I’ve always lived with nice and interesting neighbors around me, so I waited for new neighbors to drop by to welcome us to the neighborhood — a large residential neighborhood. I waited a long time. No one ever came by. I’m still shocked by that. To this day, I’ve spoken twice to the crazy woman to our left, not at all to the couple on our right, and a few times with the people across the street when I’ve gone over to be friendly. The other disappointing part of living here is the noise. We hear trains, planes, and lots of noisy cars cutting through the neighborhood, stereos blaring. It’s truly annoying, but I try not to let it get to me.

This time last year, I had just undergone a surgery just like the one I had this past Monday, and I was in considerable pain for another affliction. My dad had to come over to mow our yard; I couldn’t do it. Gretchen also had to shoulder a large part of the load. I couldn’t bend over at all. I finally had surgery for that last December.

During our year here, we’ve celebrated Halloween and Christmas together, with my parents coming over to join us, and we’ve enjoyed watching sports on TV, going for walks in the neighborhood, riding our bikes on a trail nearby, going shopping together, reading together, eating our meals together — with our two cats, Henry and Toby, we’re a little happy family.

I’m so grateful for this last year. The preceding year had been hellish for me for several reasons, and for Gretchen too. We have spent the last year helping one another heal. We’ve enjoyed this year, we enjoy our time together, and we look forward to a lifetime spent together. We’re quite fortunate. I love my fiance.

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A Review of Pohl’s Gateway

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 14, 2012

GatewayGateway by Frederik Pohl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frederik Pohl’s Gateway is a sci fi classic, winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as others. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for some time. And I’ve got to say that upon finishing it, I have some mixed feelings. I think the book, on the whole, was decent, a good read, etc., but there were some very unlikeable things about the book as well.

I’ll start with the protagonist, Robinette Broadhead. “Bob” is a first class, egocentric, shallow, oversexed, wussie jerk/asshole and it was really hard for me to like him. He spends the novel being a pansy for fear of flying out on dangerous missions from Gateway, a place formerly colonized by a long-gone alien species called the Heechee. (Who came up with that name anyway? It’s never explained, and that bugged me throughout the novel.) He has a crap job on earth, wins the lottery, goes to Gateway to find his fortune, as “prospectors” flying leftover Heechee ships that no one knows how they work go out to various locales to try and hit it big by finding Heechee materials and winning large cash awards from the Corporation in charge. Broadhead goes there, gets flight training, but doesn’t go out. He’s too scared. Instead he spends his time wandering around, getting drunk, high, and laid (this book is from the ’70s), until he starts running out of cash and is forced to go out on a mission, which is a failure. He develops a relationship with Klara, which doesn’t stop him from having sex with everyone else, but their fights are borderline stupid, and they’re both too scared to go out on missions. OK, missions are dangerous, but isn’t that why you are on Gateway — to face dangers in the hope of striking it rich?

The format of the book is interesting. Every other chapter is of a current day Broadhead session with his AI shrink, Sigfrid. During these sessions, Bob pouts, screams, shouts, insults the computer, tries to manipulate his shrink, doesn’t relay important facts, and is an unlikeable character altogether. The good part of these scenes is they are very instrumental toward the end to unraveling a couple of major secrets the book is building toward in its climax. And I would have to say the climax is partially good. There are a couple of surprises — big ones — that make it worth reading the book through. That said, there are quite a few dry patches in the book, just boring pages following each other into more boredom. I could have used a little more space missions and a little less gratuitous sex. (The other chapters are the tale leading up to his psychological sessions told in chronological order.)

Parts of the book feel a little dated too, although that’s surely a curse for most sci fi books. The psychotherapy, especially, that Broadhead undergoes feels dated. And the science component of the book, dealing with light speed and light years and all that, doesn’t feel quite right. But Pohl’s not a scientist and I’m not either, so I’ll not quibble about that.

I’d have to say I cautiously recommend this book, in large part due to its giant reputation. I’m glad I finally read it and even though it took me forever to make it through its 313 pages due to my growing bored repeatedly, I’m glad I did. That said, I doubt I’ll ever read it again, and I’m reluctant to pick up one of the Heechee sequels. I’m giving this book four out of five stars — barely.

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A Review of Dangerous Visions

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 12, 2012

Dangerous VisionsDangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read a number of reviews of this book and most rave about its importance and the quality of writing. I’m not quite at that point, personally. I thought the book was tremendously uneven, with some strong material being short shafted by some weak, boring, and stupid works. Most seemed to be one or the other; few were middling.

Ellison is the ultimate narcissist and is quite taken with himself as editor and writer, and with the stories he solicited from his favorite sci fi writers. He argues it’s quite possibly the most important book of its type, indeed of any type, and he beats the reader into submission by constantly praising each author in his intros to their stories, in his introduction to the book, in his non-stop shameless self-promotions. That really grated on my nerves after awhile.

Ellison strove to produce an anthology of truly “dangerous” speculative fiction stories — shock stories, if you will, and to a certain degree, it’s possible he succeeds. Indeed, the book starts out pretty strongly (following a truly weak introductory story by Lester del Rey) with an absolutely brutal, punch-to-the-gut story by Robert Silverberg called “Flies.” Promising. Following are excellent stories by a couple of personal favorites — Frederik Pohl and Phillip K Dick, both deservedly notable. Ellison himself contributes a good story as a futuristic Jack the Ripper sequel to a Robert Bloch piece. I thought, however, the long piece by Philip Jose Farmer was fairly boring and quite rambling. Larry Niven contributes a piece after Dick’s story, but then the “dangerous” component of the book begins to crumble — unless you think that Theodore Sturgeon’s “If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?” is dangerous. After all, what starts out as an interesting space opera-type story devolves sadly into a ’60s-era philosophical argument in favor of incest. I’m not joking. I wish I was.

Poul Anderson’s “Eutopia” is bland, boring, and weak. Larry Eisenberg and Henry Selsar’s contributions are too short and just boring. What happened to the shock value of the stories? Keith Laumer’s “Test to Destruction” is about a man who uses superior willpower to overpower alien mind control, only to fall victim to its power it can provide him, in a thoroughly predictable twist at the end of the story. Roger Zelazny contributes one of his better stories, but considering I think him to be awfully overrated, it’s not that impressive, frankly. The book tries to end with a shock story, but it, too, bored me.

When I bought the book, I had heard and read of it over and over again, so I was excited. After getting past the first story, I started delving into some exciting stuff. If I had stopped there, I would have given this book five stars. Even when I made myself finish this tome, I wanted to give it at least four, but I just can’t do that. Sturgeon’s incest story alone merits a three star review at best. I’m not even horrifically offended at the topic of incest — just how the story was used to justify it in our society. It was beyond stupid. It was appalling. I’m not terribly pleased with this book, and despite what Harlan Ellison thinks (and he thinks a lot of himself and this book), I don’t think it’s all that. Three stars.

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My Favorite Songs

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 5, 2012

I decided to create a list of my favorite songs. The list kept growing until it reached its current number of 240 songs. These are largely in order of preference, although it was hard to make a decision on some of these. Feel free to read through them and comment. Also, I’m sure I left some good songs out, so feel free to recommend songs you feel should have made the list. Cheers!

My Favorite Songs of All Time

1. Sanvean – Lisa Gerrard

2. Stigmata – Ministry

3. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails

4. Cantara – Dead Can Dance

5. Tom Sawyer – Rush

6. Wanting – Moev

7. More Than a Feeling – Boston

8. Cars – Gary Numan

9. Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen

10. Tin Omen – Skinny Puppy

11. Blue Wind – Jeff Beck

12. Lucretia My Reflection – The Sisters of Mercy

13. American Dreaming – Dead Can Dance

14. Groove Is In the Heart – Deee-Lite

15. Down With The Sickness – Disturbed

16. Do You Fear For Your Child – My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

17. With a Little Luck – Wings

18. We Will Rock You – Queen

19. Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones

20. Come Sail Away – Styx

21. The One I Love – REM

22. Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine

23. Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd

24. Knock Me Down – Red Hot Chili Peppers

25. Wish – Nine Inch Nails

26. Policy of Truth – Depeche Mode

27. Black Sun – Dead Can Dance

28. Pornography – The Cure

29. Phoenix – The Cult

30. Good Times Roll – The Cars

31. Whip It – Devo

32. Sail On – The Commodores

33. Led Boots – Jeff Beck

34. The Trauma Coil – Faith & the Muse

35. Bring Me to Life – Evanescence

36. People Get Ready – Jeff Beck

37. Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

38. Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones

39. Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

40. Dominion/ Mother Russia – The Sisters of Mercy

41. Panama – Van Halen

42. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

43. Black No. 1 – Type O Negative

44. Shout – Tears for Fears

45. The Trees – Rush

46. Begin the Begin – REM

47. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne

48. Control I’m Here – Nitzer Ebb

49. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

50. Let’s Groove – Earth, Wind & Fire

51. Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode

52. Fashion – David Bowie

53. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Beatles

54. My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars

55. 25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago

56. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

57. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Beatles

58. Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

59. Don’t Look Back – Boston

60. Double Vision – Foreigner

61. Wheel In The Sky – Journey

62. Detroit Rock City – KISS

63. The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson

64. So What – Ministry

65. Virus – KMFDM

66. Flashback – Ministry

67. More & Faster – KMFDM

68. Space Truckin’ – Deep Purple

69. Ball Of Confusion – Love & Rockets

70. As the End Draws Near – Manufacture

71. Lightning Man – Nitzer Ebb

72. Terrible Lie – Nine Inch Nails

73. Let’s Dance – Queen & David Bowie

74. Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers

75. I Want Your (Hands On Me) – Sinead O’Connor

76. Peek-A-Boo – Siouxsie & the Banshees

77. My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend – Type O Negative

78. Go! – Tones On Tail

79. Got Me Under Pressure – ZZ Top

80. Honeybabysweetiedoll – Van Halen

81. Dirt – Death In Vegas

82. Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers

83. EST (Trip To The Moon) – Alien Sex Fiend

84. Headhunter – Front 242

85. Are We Ourselves? – The Fixx

86. Desire (Come and Get It) – Gene Loves Jezebel

87. Welcome to Paradise – Front 242

88. We Got the Beat – The Go-Go’s

89. It’s My Life – Talk Talk

90. Hyperactive – Thomas Dolby

91. Biting My Nails – Renegade Soundwave

92. Ridin’ the Storm Out – REO Speedwagon

93. Trouble Me – 10,000 Maniacs

94. Act I (Duettino) – Leo Delibes

95. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash

96. Levitation Groove – Magic Sound Fabric

97. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

98. Suite Madame Blue – Styx

99. Cold As Ice – Foreigner

100. Feeling That Way – Journey

101. Jane – Jefferson Starship

102. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

103. Wish I Could – Norah Jones

104. Oh So Long – Lovespirals

105. Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross

106. Free & Easy – Lovespirals

107. The Carnival Is Over – Dead Can Dance

108. The Mummer’s Dance – Loreena McKennitt

109. Sentimental Journey – Esquivel

110. Brain Damage – Pink Floyd

111. Saltarello – Dead Can Dance

112. You’re Everything – Chick Corea

113. Mr. Wendal – Arrested Development

114. Silly Love Songs – Wings

115. All Night Long – Peter Murphy

116. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd

117. Losing My Religion – REM

118. Freewill – Rush

119. From A Million Miles – Single Gun Theory

120. Lovesong – The Cure

121. When Love Comes to Town – U2

122. Hold the Line – Toto

123. When Doves Cry – Prince

124. Lucky Star – Madonna

125. No New Tale To Tell – Love & Rockets

126. Fascination Street – The Cure

127. Love Shack – The B-52’s

128. The Globe – Big Audio Dynamite

129. People Are People – Depeche Mode

130. One Thing Leads to Another – The Fixx

131. Poison Arrow – ABC

132. Time Again – Asia

133. Let’s Dance – David Bowie

134. The Reflex – Duran Duran

135. Synchronicity 2 – The Police

136. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

137. Gardening At Night – REM

138. Sanctify Yourself – Simple Minds

139. The Lovecats – The Cure

140. She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby

141. Rock Lobster – The B-52’s

142. Le Freak – Chic

143. September – Earth, Wind & Fire

144. Into the Groove – Madonna

145. Genocide – Meat Beat Manifesto

146. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before – The Smiths

147. Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz

148. Telegram Sam – Bauhaus

149. Rockit – Herbie Hancock

150. Guns In The Sky – INXS

151. Cross Eyed Mary – Jethro Tull

152. Juke Box Hero – Foreigner

153. Smoke On the Water – Deep Purple

154. Back In Black – AC/DC

155. Paranoid – Black Sabbath

156. Sheer Heart Attack – Queen

157. Flying High Again – Ozzy Osbourne

158. Your Shameful Heaven – My Dying Bride

159. This Is the New S**t – Marilyn Manson

160. Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin

161. My Own Summer (Shove It) – Deftones

162. Christian Woman – Type O Negative

163. The Choke – Skinny Puppy

164. More – The Sisters of Mercy

165. Bitch – The Rolling Stones

166. Stainless Steel Providers – Revolting Cocks

167. Down Rodeo – Rage Against The Machine

168. A Measured Response – Manufacture

169. After The Flesh – My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

170. Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin

171. Head Like a Hole – Nine Inch Nails

172. Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC

173.  I’m Afraid of Americans – David Bowie

174. Mountain Song – Jane’s Addiction

175. Cry Of Mankind – My Dying Bride

176. Another Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2 – Pink Floyd

177. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones

178. I’m In Love With My Car – Queen

179. Live And Let Die – Wings

180. Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull

181. Barrel Of A Gun – Depeche Mode

182. Bullet the Blue Sky – U2

183. Runnin’ with the Devil – Van Halen

184. Sound of Madness – Shinedown

185. Wake Up – Rage Against The Machine

186. Fire Woman – The Cult

187. Upside Down – Diana Ross

188. Celebration – Kool & The Gang

189. Borderline – Madonna

190. And This Is What The Devil Does – My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

191. Been Caught Stealing – Jane’s Addiction

192. What I Like About You – The Romantics

193. Vertigo – U2

194. Hot With Fleas – Severed Heads

195. Cuts You Up – Peter Murphy

196. Right Here Right Now – Jesus Jones

197. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash

198. Hot Hot Hot!!! – The Cure

199. My Sharona – The Knack

200. This Corrosion – The Sisters of Mercy

201. Stone In Love – Journey

202. Hot Blooded – Foreigner

203. Renegade – Styx

204. Don’t Come Around Here No More – Tom Petty

205. Bigmouth Strikes Again – The Smiths

206. Die With Me – Type O Negative

207. Dead Souls – Nine Inch Nails

208. Burn – The Cure

209. Clubbed To Death – Rob Dougan

210. Let Me Entertain You – Queen

211. Where It’s At – Beck

212. Fight the Power – Public Enemy

213. F—Tha Police – NWA

214. Jahya – Skinny Puppy

215. Orange Crush – REM

216. Reptile – The Church

217. Ticking Time Bomb – Tackhead

218. Greater Reward – Severed Heads

219. What You Need – INXS

220. Pinhead – Ramones

221. Beck’s Bolero – Jeff Beck

222. Subdivisions – Rush

223. Have a Cigar – Pink Floyd

224. Alive and Kicking – Simple Minds

225. Call Me – Blondie

226. A View to a Kill – Duran Duran

227. Because The Night – 10,000 Maniacs

228. Burnt Flowers Fallen – Type O Negative

229. Smothered Hope – Skinny Puppy

230. Mother Goose – Jethro Tull

231. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

232. Finest Worksong – REM

233. Cemetry Gates – The Smiths

234. I Will Follow – U2

235. Outside – Staind

236. Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

237. YYZ – Rush

238. Learning To Fly – Pink Floyd

239. Bungle In the Jungle – Jethro Tull

240. Eat For Two – 10,000 Maniacs

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My Upcoming Surgery

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 3, 2012

Last year I had five surgeries covering all sorts of things. The one in December was the worst, the hardest. It took me 10 weeks to recover from that one. Well, I have another one coming up now, 10 days from today. It’s actually not a difficult procedure and is done in an outpatient surgery center, but because of what’s involved, I get nervous. It will be my third time to have this procedure done. It’s called a Gasserian Ganglion Block, or a nerve block. I suffer from Trigeminal Neuralgia, which some people consider to be the most painful condition known. It’s alternate name is “the suicide disease.” The pain is remarkably intense. Indescribable. There’s only one surgery that cures it. It’s called an MVD surgery — a brain surgery which can be lethal and is avoided by most neurosurgeons. The others are all “band aid” approach surgeries — temporary pain blockers. How long can they be effective? That’s the question.

I had my first nerve block last May and was head/facial pain free for 18 days. I underwent another in August. This time, the results were better and with one exception, I made it to October pain-free. Since then, I have had greater and greater instances of head/facial pain attacks, with some 19 occurring to me over the past two months. Almost no medications help, although I have tried many. The strongest dose of Percocet can calm it, but usually you have to take several, and then you suffer from what I call a Percocet hangover the next day. Still, it’s better than the alternative.

One thing that concerns me is not all of my pain I’ve been experiencing has been standard TN-type pain. So will this procedure take care of all of the pain, or just some of it? I met with my pain management specialist two days ago and he thinks the TN is triggering the other pain and that this nerve block should be totally effective. If not, it’s another MRI with contrast.

Speaking of the procedure, they give you anesthesia and put you to sleep. Then they insert a long needle through your cheek up into a skull cavity where part of the trigeminal nerve is located. Upon reaching it, it’s my understanding that they basically electrocute the hell out of it, before withdrawing the needle and later waking you up. It’s a bit iffy when you’re talking about messing around with the largest nerve in the brain and doing damage to it, but there you have it. It doesn’t sound overly difficult and it’s not really bloody or anything, but it is a bit tricky and it calls for precision on the part of the surgeon.

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