Friday, August 31, 2007


How Political Psychology Explains Bush's Ghastly Success.

Their first experiment was published in 1989. To test the hypothesis that recognition of mortality evokes "worldview defense"--their term for the range of emotions, from intolerance to religi- osity to a preference for law and order, that they believe thoughts of death can trigger--they assembled 22 Tucson municipal court judges. They told the judges they wanted to test the relationship between personality traits and bail decisions, but, for one group, they inserted in the middle of the personality questionnaire two exercises meant to evoke awareness of their mortality. One asked the judges to "briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you"; the other required them to "jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you physically as you die and once you are physically dead." They then asked the judges to set bail in the hypothetical case of a prostitute whom the prosecutor claimed was a flight risk. The judges who did the mortality exercises set an average bail of $455. The control group that did not do the exercises set it at an average of $50. The psychologists knew they were onto something.

That's All It Takes?

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • dead (5x)
  • ass (3x)
  • shit (1x)
I kind of figured I'd get an "R", but that's all it found objectionable? I guess it's a good thing it doesn't rate for actual content.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Fire, Titties, Midgets, and Grannies: Clutch In Huntington!!!

I’ve seen Clutch live twice before last night; both times in Charleston in a little club, jam-packed with sweaty people, all enjoying the hell out of the show, but nothing really memorable has happened at either show. Last night’s performance in Huntington was very different. Maybe it’s because my girlfriend went with me to see her first Clutch show. I don’t know. But something was in the air.

Before going in, one bum, sitting awkwardly against a tree between the line to get into the club and the street asked everyone who passed by for change. No big deal. Nothing odd about that at all, really. Then another bum got in line and began chatting up the guys a few people back from us. The most memorable lines:

“You know what the worst thing about waking up today was?”

“Um, no?” replied the hesitant, but curious and slightly amused music geek.

“Waking up in jail.” Accompanied by a long exhalation of fetid breath.

“Um, yeah. That sucks,” replied the now edging away from the bum and no longer slightly amused music geek.

Once inside, things were pretty cool. The place was huge, the drinks weren’t too terribly expensive (for a concert night), and the band souvenirs were moderately priced (20 bucks for a t-shirt is much better than the 40 bucks Tool wanted a few weeks ago). I ran into a former student, and current friend (although I haven’t heard from him in probably a year). We chatted about comics for a bit and then my girlfriend and I got some drinks and went to check out the first opening band.

Backyard Tire Fire was their name, and at first they seemed pretty cool. However, after a song or two it became obvious that they really weren’t that cool. It was southern flavored “blues-rock” from central Illinois, and there wasn’t much variety to it. They might have been okay as just a regular bar band somewhere, but we were there to see Clutch, and I wanted something more creative from the openers.

Anyway, once they were finished, girlfriend and I went back into the bar portion of the club where it was cooler, with good air flow and lots of room. That was when we saw the cute midget girl. Although to be honest, we’d seen her earlier, but it had just been a glimpse as she made her way through the crowd past us. I thought that surely someone hadn’t brought their kid with them, but you could get in if you were under 18 if your parents took you, so you never know.

But it wasn’t a child; it was a cute midget girl with a lot of tattoos. She seemed cool and was hanging around with some friends, so I continued to watch the fans wander back in forth around us. There was a predominantly overweight, bearded, and ponytailed contingent that made up the majority of Clutch fans (from my experience, anyway). Since I’m also bearded, ponytailed, and working on a nice gut, I felt at home and considered getting a group together to discuss hair care and how to keep our ponytails from tangling. Because I was amusing myself with thoughts of asking guys what conditioners they used, I missed the cute, tattooed midget wrapping herself around a guy’s leg and humping it to great comedic effect.

But I did see a guy with the tiny, birth-defect arm, so I didn’t miss out on all the cool stuff between acts.

The second act, we didn’t even go back in to watch, since it was really hot in there and we could hear them just fine from where we were. They are called Year Long Disaster and I saw them open for Clutch last year in Charleston. They’re pretty good, with a lot of interesting variety in their songs. I liked them.

Then it was time for Clutch. We grabbed another couple of beers and situated ourselves near the soundboard, where we figured there wouldn’t be much traffic, but we were so wrong as to defy belief. People bumped their ways by us through the whole show, which was really annoying at first, but then I decided to just try to change my attitude and enjoy it as part of what makes a Clutch show a Clutch show (if that makes any sense). It was kind of communal in that way, as even though people were squeezing past us, the vast majority of them were polite, excusing themselves with at most a pat on the shoulder to let you know they were passing. (There were a couple of people who just kind of charged though, but they were pretty large and you could see them coming and get out of their way – until they came back from behind us, anyway.) However, I must admit, I was glad the preppie, fratboy guy in front of me (with his sunglasses up on top of his head, no less), kept his distance.

Simply put, Clutch kicked ass. It was the best show I’ve seen them put on. The set list was like a greatest hits compilation, and they played “Shogun Named Marcus”, “El Jefe Speaks”, “Animal Farm”, "The House That Peterbilt", “Easy Breeze”, “Hoodoo Operator”, “Rats”, “Burning Beard”, "(In the Wake of) The Swollen Goat", "Red Horse Rainbow", "Gravel Road", “You Can’t Stop Progress/Power Player”, “The Devil & Me”, “Child of the City”, “Black Umbrella”, and “Electric Worry/One Eyed Dollar” (I’m probably missing others, too). It was during “Electric Worry” that the show went from being just a great show to one that would burn itself into my memory for, I’m sure, years to come.

As the song was getting going, I felt a hand on my back. This was nothing unusual, as I’d mentioned, except for that fact that it lingered for a moment. Then it touched my ponytail. Thinking “what the hell?” to myself, I looked around to see no one there. Then I looked down (and no, it wasn’t the midget), and saw a thin girl with a lot of long blond hair, bent double. She then straightened up, flinging her hair up and around in pure stripper mode. She was drunker than anyone I’d seen drunk in a looooong time and dancing like she was ready to mount whoever got in her way. It was the kind of drunk where she was probably going to wake up the next morning in a bathtub wondering why she was covered in semen.

She used my arm as a stripper pole a couple of times, much to the amusement of a guy who looked just like Matt Pinfield. He had the biggest grin I’d ever seen. This was probably his best show ever, too. When I wasn’t interested in dancing with her, she shifted around to “Matt”, thrashing him with her hair before spinning around and rubbing her ass against him. Without question, it was now his best show ever.

I tried to enjoy the show, but kept stealing glances to see what was going on next. After a few moments with “Matt”, she moved around to give some attention to a tall, lean, music-nerd looking guy. He seemed friendly and reminded me of a guy I went to school with and haven’t heard from in years. He also got the butt-rub, lapdance routine, and seemed not to know what to do. It was kind of funny, and Matt was laughing mightily.

The next time I glanced around, she had fixed her eyes on someone behind me, and slowly slid her shirt up to reveal her titties. Mine are bigger. Most of the guys at the show had bigger boobs, to be honest, but beggars can’t be choosers, and all that. My girlfriend missed the titties, which I think makes up for me missing the midget girl leg-humping. I tried to get a little more distance between us then, because usually once the titties come out, vomiting is sure to follow.

The next time I glanced around, she was gone. “Matt Pinfield” and Music-Nerd were laughing together and “Matt” did a disturbing reenactment of the ass rub lapdance moves on Music-Nerd. He also seemed disturbed. But “Matt” kept laughing. It was, of course, the best show he’d ever seen. Turns out, according to Music-Nerd, drunk girl had bent over to do another of her dazzling hair flips and bashed her skull against the metal railing (where “Matt” and MN were leaning). She looked like she was going to pass out and stumbled off through the crowd, probably to go throw up somewhere.

Then, on the other side of the room, I saw a light. There was a guy standing on the bar holding a bottle with flames leaping out. My first thought was “Molotov cocktail! Oh shit!”, but then he started motioning like he was about to do something amazing. And then he breathed fire out over the heads of the crowd (most of whom, I’m sure, had no idea he was there or about to spew flames over their ponytails). He followed the first burst of flame with another quick blast and then jumped back down behind the bar. I’m pretty sure that the entire bottle was engulfed in flames at that point, but there were no shrieking “I’m on fire” noises from the bar, so I guess he was ok. My girlfriend missed this too, not being able to interpret my “Look over there! Fire!!” gestures.

Also, at some point earlier, a woman who was somewhere between 50 and 60, along with her mom, passed us from the depths of the crowd. They were both dressed as if they were going to the mall on Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if the heat just got the old lady, or if she’d been kicked or landed on by a crowd surfer. Regardless, the younger old woman helped her out and then moments later was back cutting through the crowd to get back into the throng.

The show ended with Clutch coming out for an encore and playing “Big News I & II” (!!!) with an extended jam in the middle. After bobbing around in the sea of bodies for almost two hours, we were drenched in sweat (most of it not our own) as if we’d been dipped in actual waters. Oddly enough, none of the people around us were especially smelly, with most of them actually smelling of perfume or soap! Amazing! It really was the best show I’ve ever been to. Not only was the band in prime form, playing most of my favorite songs from their entire catalog, but the overall experience was one I’ll never forget. Our ears were so cottony and ringy after the show we could barely hear a different bum ask for change as we left around 12:30. And all for only 20 bucks per ticket.