Song Lyric Sunday 1/29/17 – Reggae Inna Summertime

So this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is to post a song celebrating the sun. Well it just so happens that I was listening to a band my stepdad turned me onto way back in the day (when I was a little kid) and it was like “this is perfect.”

Reggae is a style of music I dabble into from now and then. I do appreciate it for what it is and there are several songs in the genre I like. Alas, the group that really got me liking reggae back when I was a kid was a group named Big Mountain. Their general upbeat style and happy lyrics are very attractive in their own right (compare to the normally depressing music I listen to, go figure) and I had a couple of choices when it came to the sun, but this one I felt closest matched the theme.

Here then is the song “Reggae Inna Summertime” by Big Mountain:

Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime

Glad to say goodbye to the clouds
Open up and let the sunshine thru

You know we’ve got so much work to be doing
It’s been a long and heavy winter
Seems so hard to keep a good vibe

Reggae inna summertime
We’ll be escaping in the sweet sunshine, yes I
Reggae inna summertime
Nothing could be sweeter than the level of the vibe, oh no

The days are getting longer
Flowers are blooming, the air’s getting warmer
I know soon it will be time for the dance to start
Reggae, she gonna party underneath the stars

Reggae inna summertime
We’ll be escaping in the sweet sunshine, yes I
Reggae inna summertime
Nothing could be sweeter than the level of the vibe, oh no

Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime (sweet, sweet music)
Reggae inna summertime (whoa, na-na)
Reggae inna summertime

Glad to say goodbye to the clouds
Open up and let the sunshine thru

You know we’ve got so much work to be doing
It’s been a long and heavy winter
Seems so hard to keep a good vibe

Reggae inna summertime
We’ll be escaping in the sweet sunshine, yes I
Reggae inna summertime
Nothing could be sweeter than the level of the vibe, oh no

Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime (whoa na-na)
Reggae inna summertime
Reggae inna summertime (got the, got the music)

Reggae inna summertime (whoa, cha-cha)
Reggae inna summertime (sweet, sweet music)
Reggae inna summertime (whoa, na-na)
Reggae inna summertime
Yes, I…
Source: Lyrics transcribed (as accurately as possible) by me as there were no reliable lyrics to copy/paste.

As an added bonus, here’s a Spanish version of the song as well. Alas, don’t ask me to transcribe it. That would be hopeless. I know some Spanish but not enough to make an accurate transcription!

Well that’s a wrap for this week. Hope you enjoyed my typically unusual or obscure interpretation of the theme. I know, I’m weird. Take it for what it’s worth.

Fitting In and Having a Purpose

Admittedly, it is very difficult for those of us on the autism spectrum to “fit in” with any group. We’re always outsiders and often times subject to harsh ridicule, bullying and other nonsense because of our oddities, be it from school classmates, coworkers and sometimes even our own families. Whether it’s because these individuals are uneducated about the condition itself or whatever, it can be hard.

Places I “fit in” are few and far between but one group I’ve always fit in with has been my change ringing group locally and everywhere else. It’s like wherever I go I’m welcomed with open arms and loved. They overlook my oddities (and even my atheism – something slightly surprising when it comes to an activity normally associated with churches) and are just happy to have someone to ring with.

This was highlighted by a recent NPR story where I was interviewed about my local change ringing tower. The story that was written was a very good one and I got to talk a little about the various aspects of ringing and what I love about it. This has actually drawn up a fair amount of interest from the locals and those abroad and enough to really light a fire within the parish to restore our bells.

Which brings me to another point, having a purpose. I’m an existential nihilist in a way that I think there’s no objective purpose in life. We have to make our own and for the longest time I felt as though I had none. Being excluded from my dream job (and many other social activities) due to my condition I always felt my life was going to be nothing more than a cesspool of catastrophe and stupid bullshit. Now that I have a project that I’m practically spearheading I finally think I have some purpose and even if I accomplish nothing else noteworthy in this life I’ll at least have left my own mark in the community and will have some semblance of a legacy. That means a lot.

It’s nice to not feel worthless for a change. It’s nice to feel appreciated. It’s nice to get some fucking recognition and a chance to show what I can do. Such opportunities are few and far between for people like me.

If you wish to read the story, here you go:

Anyway, just random ponderings for today.

Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 1/25/17

Welcome to beer and cigar review Wednesday, our weekly look at any notable beers and cigars I’ve had over the past week and a special toast to Robert Burns who would have been  258 years old today. 😛

This week might not feature the usual just high-brow stuff but we’ve got some good stuff for you nonetheless. Let’s dive right in shall we?

Starting with the beer reviews:

Sam Adams Nitro IPA

Samuel Adams/Boston Beer introduced a three beers in nitro cans last year: a wheat ale, an IPA and a coffee stout. This is the IPA and it weighs in at 7.5% ABV and a deceptively high 100 IBU. Taking a look at it, it had the characteristics you’d expect from a nitro beer while being all its own.

Pours with the classic surge and settle appearance. Body settles into a bright yellow-orange color and the head sits down to about 1″ high and sticks around and leaves all kinds of lacing on the glass. Sharp, hoppy aroma of grapefruit and floral notes with the faintest tone of yeast. Big but smooth flavors of pale malt, yeast, piney and grapefruity hops. Not as bitter as the IBU would let on. Alcohol masked. Thick and creamy body, typical of nitro. Also chuggable as most nitro beers.

Though this drank more like a straight-up American Pale Ale as opposed to an American IPA, it was enjoyable, smooth and satisfying. My understanding is this beer is discontinued but I hope they bring it back. I really dug it, despite being for all intents and purposes a “mass produced” beer. Rating: 4/5.

Robert Earl Keen Front Porch Amber Ale

This beer hales from Pedernales brewing company in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is an American Amber Ale weighing in a diminutive 5.0% ABV and an unspecified IBU rating. This was an “out-of-curiosity” purchase on my part.

Pours a classic amber ale color of a clear red-orange. Thin 1/2″ of head that dissipates quickly into a small ring. Faint aromas of grain and a touch of sweetness. Bready, yeasty flavor with a touch of caramel malt and a delicate tea-like bitterness. Light in body and sharp carbonation. Easily chuggable and not filling.

Though not my favorite style or beer, it was pleasing enough. More of a refreshing beer or a session beer that you could easily kill several of after yardwork or at the race track. Light enough to have several but still has good flavor. Rating: 3.5/5.

And now for this week’s cigar reviews, we have a couple of variations of The Nub by Oliva. Both measure in at 4″ x 60 ring gauge and feature Nicaraguan long filler and Ecuadorian wrapper. I’d reviewed the maduro version prior and loved it so I figured I’d try a couple of others.

Nub 460 Connecticut

First light revealed a fairly loose draw (not at all surprising given the ring gauge) which produced plentiful mild/medium bodied smoke. The draw flavor was a slightly sweet cream and the retrohale featured a soft, zingy woody note. The flavors were consistent from start to finish, lasting about 50 minutes before the smoke got too hot for my liking so a good burn time for such a short stick.

Perfect construction and a razor-sharp burn not requiring any touch-ups. Though not the boldest cigar nor the most complex this was a great Connecticut blend. Went beautifully with a cup of coffee and had no detectable nicotine strength. Rating: 3.5/5.

Nub 460 Habano

First light revealed a perfect draw producing a high volume of medium bodied smoke. Flavors of toasted bread and a hit of generic sugar sweetness. Retrohale revealed an aged tobacco mustiness. Into the first third the toasted notes stay but the must and sweetness meld together into a caramel. Identical draw, finish and retrohale. Flavors remained consistent through the entire length of the cigar but melding together more getting closer to the end. First hot/acrid draw comes at 50 minutes, again a good burn time for a short stick.

Good construction with an acceptable burn for the ring gauge, requiring a couple of small touchups. Mild/medium nicotine strength, just barely enough to let you know it’s there. Smooth and tasty, just wish the flavors were a bit more intense. Rating: 4/5.

Thus concludes review Wednesday. Have you tried any of these? What did you think?

Song Lyric Sunday 1/22/17 – A Boy Named Sue

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme is a song about forgiveness. Well, as I’m not religious at all and it seems most songs centered around this theme are hymns and such of the Christian religion, well, my options seemed rather limited.

So I thought for awhile and then as I was thinking of my own name (which is mostly considered a female name) and how I used to lament being given a more feminine as opposed to masculine name, this song came to mind and I’m like “ah, perfect.” It’s a bit rough but when it comes down to it, it’s a great take on the theme.

So therefore I present to you Shel Silverstein’s timeless poem “A Boy Named Sue” as brought to life by the late, legendary Johnny Cash.

My daddy left home when I was three 
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me 
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. 
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid 
But the meanest thing that he ever did 
Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.” 

Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke 
And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk, 
It seems I had to fight my whole life through. 
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red 
And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head, 
I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named “Sue.” 

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean, 
My fist got hard and my wits got keen, 
I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame. 
But I made a vow to the moon and stars 
That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars 
And kill that man who gave me that awful name. 

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July 
And I just hit town and my throat was dry, 
I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew. 
At an old saloon on a street of mud, 
There at a table, dealing stud, 
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me “Sue.” 

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad 
From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had, 
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye. 
He was big and bent and gray and old, 
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold 
And I said: “My name is ‘Sue!’ How do you do! 
Now your gonna die!!” 

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes 
And he went down, but to my surprise, 
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear. 
But I busted a chair right across his teeth 
And we crashed through the wall and into the street 
Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer. 

I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men 
But I really can’t remember when, 
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile. 
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss, 
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first, 
He stood there lookin’ at me and I saw him smile. 

And he said: “Son, this world is rough 
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough 
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along. 
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye 
I knew you’d have to get tough or die 
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.” 

He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight 
And I know you hate me, and you got the right 
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do. 
But ya ought to thank me, before I die, 
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye 
Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you “Sue.'” 

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun 
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son, 
And I came away with a different point of view. 
And I think about him, now and then, 
Every time I try and every time I win, 
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him 
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

And that’s a wrap for this week. Hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks Helen for doing Song Lyric Sunday. It’s always a ton of fun!

First Piercings!!!

So I’ve been getting tattoos since January of last year; amassed 5 last year and I’m having my next one sketched up right now, but it’s pretty obvious I couldn’t just stop there. As they say one thing leads to another and I started toying with the idea of doing piercings. Well, the deed is done!

Of course, earlobes were the obvious place to start as by far they are the easiest. Of course, these are better as they were done professionally with a hollow needle as opposed to that stupid gun they use at Walmart and shit (the needle gives a cleaner piercing and a better end result). I just had my good friend and local tattoo artist (who’s done 4 of my 5 tattoos and is about to do another on me) do the piercings and while things didn’t go completely smoothly as she was out of practice, we still got them done and they look good. Went with the standard 14 gauge; a bit thicker than a gun piercing but better quality so worth it. Pain level was about on par with a blood draw in my opinion.

So what’s next? Probably a 2nd earlobe piercing in each but not for awhile. I imagine the next ones will go smoother but oh well, it wasn’t bad enough to put me off.

At any rate, I’m feeling accomplished. Might not feel any “cooler” but I do feel like I’m beginning to find myself and assert my bodily autonomy a bit more. As I come out of my shell, that’s good for me anyway.

As they say, onto the next ones!

I’m Scared, You’re Scared, We’re All Scared…

So about 14 hours from now, Donald John Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. If I was saying that I wasn’t scared I’d be lying out of my teeth. I’m absolutely petrified.

Please note I did not support Hillary Clinton either. I have no use for her either quite frankly. I voted for the Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. The bottom line is we had no good choices this cycle, but I will say Hillary scared me somewhat less. Donald (and the rest of the GOP) I find absolutely terrifying.

I’m scared as a person with a disability. We’ve seen what “The Donald” thinks about people with disabilities. We’ve all seen that video with him mocking that one disabled reporter. I wonder what he would think of me? Would he mock my involuntary hand flapping? My allergy-induced postnasal drip near constant throat clearing? What?

I’m scared as a bisexual person. I am currently single but if I find the right person to fall in love with it could be with either sex. Will same-sex marriage still be legal if/when that happens or will we be back to the subjugation of same-sex couples? I also fear that, according to VP-Elect Mike Pence’s position, we will have taxpayer funding of ex-gay “therapy” as he instituted in his home state. Truly scary.

I’m scared as an atheist. As the GOP takes control will we return to de-facto theocracy? Will the state law in Texas (and other states) officially banning atheists from holding public office be reinstated? I also fear for non-Christians of a variety of persuasion (especially Muslims – anyone with half a brain knows most of them are peaceful and moral people).

I’m male, but I fear for my female friends. Will their right to make decisions regarding their own body with the professional advice of a medical doctor  (including whether or not to terminate a pregnancy) still be intact or will ultra-conservative Trump appointees overturn Roe v. Wade?

I fear for my friends who stand to lose their health insurance. I wasn’t a supporter of the ACA as it seems to me to be an overreach to mandate people purchase health insurance but for fuck’s sake please have a replacement plan in place before you repeal it.

I fear for my friends who are of racial minorities and have already been experiencing violence at the hands of the white supremacists who have been reinvigorated by the election of The Donald.

I fear for those who are terminally ill and have chosen to die with dignity. Will the GOP seek a federal ban on physician assisted suicide?

I’m scared. You should be scared. We should all be scared. You’d be crazy not to be scared. And I don’t know as though I even want to continue. Maybe I should ignore my semicolon and “check out” before this shitstorm even begins.

I’ve done my best, but not even these words can express the level of fear I have right now. And I think I’m justified in my fears.

Beer Review Wednesday 1/18/17

Welcome to beer review Wednesday. Yes, it’s normally beer and cigar review Wednesday but it got cold here and I’m not about to freeze my pasty white ass off just to smoke a cigar and I 100% refuse to smoke in my house or my car. I can’t stand the smell of stale smoke.

All that aside, we’ve got some good beer to review today, so let’s just jump right in.

Avery Hog Heaven

This dry-hopped barleywine from Avery brewing in Boulder, Colorado will put you in “hog heaven” for sure with its 9.2% ABV and over-the-top 104 IBUs. Avery was also kind enough to supply gravity numbers – 1.085 original gravity (20.5 Plato) and a final gravity of 1.016 (4 Plato).

Pours a hazy (unfiltered?) red-orange color with a thin ring of head that sticks around to the last drink and leaves some lacing on the glass. Floral, citrusy aroma up front with undertones of alcohol and caramel malt. Backbone flavors of fruity esters, caramel malt and a light syrup which gives way to a surprisingly not overbearing sharp finish consisting of grapefruit, lemon and pine. A  Moderate alcohol burn on the way down. Thick bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly rough drinking so a good sipper.

Though not the most complex barleywine out there, this was a more than ample beer that I was able to enjoy on a nice cold day. Like most beers in the category, it sticks to your ribs and warms your bones. Good stuff. Rating: 4.25/5.

Stone Delicious IPA

Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, California) and the American IPA style just kind of go hand-in-hand. Stone is notorious for their big, flavorful hop-bombs and this version of their famed IPAs are no exception. Weighing in at 7.7% ABV and 75 IBU this “low gluten” IPA blurs the line between just a regular IPA and a Double and it is mighty tasty.

Pours a hazy goldenrod color with a 1/2″ head that recedes to a thin ring. Moderate lacing is left on the glass. Aroma consists of a big blast of citrus and floral hops. Complex hop-forward citrusy  flavor consisting of orange and grapefruit with a sharp lemony finish. The backbone is a subdued slightly sweet and yeasty bread. Alcohol hidden. Medium in body and high in carbonation. Surprisingly smooth for the style and very easy drinking.

This beer might be low gluten but it definitely is neither low on flavor nor is it really a low calorie beer (still weighing in at 250/bottle). Overall a deliciously refreshing IPA that easily pleases. Rating: 4/5.

Yes, I Want a Cure…

…and that does NOT make me intolerant, self-hating or any of a number of other things I’ve recently been accused of being.

As my blog has started gaining momentum, not surprisingly I have gotten my fair share of critics. That’s to be expected as none of us are immune to criticism. I’m perfectly OK with that. Constructive criticism and healthy debate are good things as they cause you to re-examine your own stances with new information and you can either refute the counterpoint or accept the new findings. I’m fine with that. However, what I’ve been recently accused of is unacceptable.

Some folks (who I am assuming are fellow spectrumites) have either commented me or sent me private messages accusing me of a number of wild things. Some have accused me of being intolerant, some self-hating and even some have claimed that I’m faking it in order to parody autism! I’m not going to name names because I’m better than that but I will say all of these accusations are pure and utter bullshit.

My desire for a cure has to do with one thing and one thing only: my dream career. As the FAA does not tolerate autism spectrum disorders for medical clearance to fly, a cure would mean I could live my dreams. Ideally the FAA would revise their guidelines and evaluate us individually but that’s a pipe dream and that ain’t ever going to happen. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s just reality. The potential rewards for me personally would grossly outweigh any potential negative effects (including loss of heightened intelligence or even loss of life).

Please note this is my own assessment and as a Libertarian I am not about forcing anything on anyone. If your perception of your autism is that it’s a benefit to you and that you don’t want to be cured that’s cool with me. I will love and accept you either way. You should weigh the potential reward vs. the potential risks for yourself and make a decision based on your own desires.

I guess what I’m trying to say is please don’t try to put words into my mouth or speak for me. I know many of you regurgitate that old line “Autism speaks doesn’t speak for me.” If they don’t then fine. Perhaps they should change their name in light of that (even though as a general rule I do support the cause). Oh yeah, that leads me to another thing – since I have a tattoo that was a fundraiser for that particular charity I’m told I’m a sellout among other things. Not cool, people.

At the end of the day, I respect your choices and feelings concerning the topic. I only ask for respect in return. Thank you.

100 Followers Q&A Answer

So to mark 100 followers, I opened up a Q&A session. I only got one question but that’s OK, I’ll answer any more questions I get in the comments because just one is a bit boring.

Rachel over at Illuminated Literation asked, “If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?”

That’s an easy one: Australia, hands down. I have a couple of reasons for this. First off, with the year-round hot Australian climate men’s short shorts never really went completely by the wayside so I could at least wear them and not get looked at (too) strangely. Also, being a former British colony there is a strong change ringing presence there and the standard of ringing is generally very high (rivaling that of England and vastly superior to North America). I can deal with the inherent risks of living there (venomous/dangerous animals) for these benefits. If only their immigration standards weren’t so stringent!

Anyway, there you go. Anymore questions for me, anyone? Ask away.

Song Lyric Sunday 1/15/17 – Pale Shelter

Yes, I know what so many of you are probably thinking, “ANOTHER Tears for Fears song?!?!?!?” Well yes, another one indeed.

This week’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday is to post a song about the parent/child relationship. Now, “Pale Shelter” might seem like an awfully weird choice to apply to that relationship but when it comes to the story of my life, I think it fits perfectly.

First off, I am adamantly childfree so I can’t post anything from the perspective of a parent as I do not have, nor do I ever want, children. It’s just not the right life choice for me. However, my relationship with my own parents closely mirrors the theme of this song (manipulation and gaslighting). See, my biological parents divorced before I was even born. I’ve never actually met my biological father, but my mother used to always talk shit about him and whatnot. Then my stepfather comes into the picture and doubles down on that. They painted the picture that my biological father was a deadbeat and a piece of shit and I didn’t know anything different so I believed them.

Then one day, when I was a senior in college, my half-sister (whom I didn’t even know existed at the time) messaged me on MySpace (yes, this happened that long ago for those who remember MySpace) and introduced her to me as such. I always knew it was a possibility I had half-siblings, but now it was confirmed. Then a bit later, for the first time I spoke to my biological father. It was a difficult thing for me to ask, but I asked him why he did what he did. He then proceeded to tell me his version of events and he also sent me the documentation to back his story up. For 21 years my mother and stepfather outright lied to me and manipulated me into irrationally hating my biological father.

I really tried to develop a relationship with both my half-sister and biological father but I was unfortunately never able to. Due to irreconcilable differences we’ve stopped talking and I think my biological father has probably since passed away. Alas, learning this new information irreparably damaged my relationship with my mother and stepfather. We still get along and we’ve made amends, but there is still some anger and resentment over it from my perspective.

In addition, I received an all out lack of love from my mother and stepfather. They were very ill-equipped to deal with a special needs child and thus I was the victim of physical abuse as well. The only person in the household growing up who actually loved and cared for me was my great-grandmother, and this is a huge reason I have her memorialized on my body in the form of a tattoo.

These are the reasons I chose this song. Written by Roland Orzabal (the band’s main songwriter) it really seems vague enough it can refer to any kind of relationship in which one is manipulated or gaslit (be it romantic, parent/child or otherwise). This is one of the group’s older songs (1982) and was featured on their debut album The Hurting.

How can I be sure?
When your intrusion is my illusion
How can I be sure
When all the time you changed my mind
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don’t give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don’t give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

How can I be sure
For all you say you keep me waiting
How can I be sure
When all you do is see me through
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don’t give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don’t give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

I’ve been here before
There is no why, no need to try
I thought you had it all
I’m calling you, I’m calling you
I ask for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don’t give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don’t give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

You don’t give me love
You don’t give me love

You don’t give me love
You don’t give me love

You don’t give me love
You don’t give me love

Wow, sorry this turned into such a long Song Lyric Sunday post. Please forgive me and also forgive me for being a bit of a Danny Downer. This was just a tough subject for me is all.