Jason’s Jukebox: Soul Asylum

soul asylum

In 1992, Soul Asylum released their breakthrough album, Grave Dancer’s Union, beginning a brief brush with fame. But in reality, the band started in 1981, eleven years prior. In 2016, they released their newest album, Change of Fortune. I figured this would be a good time to look at the history of the band so far.

The current line-up is:

  • Dave Pirner: vocals, guitar
  • Michael Bland: drums, backing vocals
  • Winston Roye: bass, backing vocals
  • Ryan Smith: lead guitar, backing vocals

clarence

Say What You Will Clarence…Karl Sold the Truck (1984)**

Singles: “Walking”, “Happy”, “Religiavsion”

This was the first of three albums on the Twin/Tone label. The “Karl” in the album’s title is Karl Mueller, the band’s first bassist. It has a rather rough sound, and is kind of meh.

Best Tracks: “Dragging Me Down”, “Religiavision”, “Broken Glass”

made

Made to Be Broken (1986)**

Singles: “Never Really Been”, “Tied to the Tracks”, “Made to Be Broken”

1986 was quite a busy year for Soul Asylum, as they released three albums, one of which was cassette only, and will not be covered in this article.

Best Tracks: “Never Really Been”, “Tied to the Tracks”, “Long Way Home”

while you

While You Were Out (1986) ***

Singles: “Crashing Down”, “Lap of Luxury”, “Never Too Soon”, “The Judge”

This marked the end of the Twin/Tone era. “The Judge” was covered by the Wildhearts and “Closer to the Stars” by Automatic 7.

Best tracks: “Crashing Down”, “The Judge”, “Sun Don’t Shine”, “Closer to the Stars”

hang time

Hang Time (1988) ***

Singles: “Marionette”, “Little Too Clean”, “Cartoon”

This was the band’s major label debut, this time with A&M records. Dan Murphy temporarily joined the band with this album.

Best tracks: “Little Too Clean”, “Cartoon”, “Endless Farewell”, “Marionette”

clam dip

Clam Dip and Other Delights (1989) * (EP)

The title of this EP is actually a parody of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream & Other Delights, a nod to their record label’s founder, Herb Alpert.

Best Tracks: “Chains”, “P-9”

and the horse

And the Horse They Rode in On (1990) ****

Singles: “Brand New Shine”, “Easy Street”, “Veil of Tears”, “Nice Guys (Don’t Get Paid)”

Their final album with A&M, and one of their best overall.

Best Tracks: “Veil of Tears”, “Something Out of Nothing”, “Easy Street”, “Be On Your Way”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Soul Asylum”

Bookworm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

cursed childYears ago, I reviewed all seven of the original Harry Potter books on this site. Last year, two new stories were added to the mythos, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and a prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s only right that I review these on this page as well. Since I just finished it, I’ll start with Cursed Child.

Cursed Child is actually published as a play rather than a novel. I realize that using the script as my source for this review may not be the best way to review a play, but I probably might not get to see an actual performance, so here we are. Oh, and spoilers from here on out. You’ve been warned.

Let’s start with what I like. The story starts by replaying the epilogue from Death Hallows. It is now 19 years later.  Hermione works for the Ministry of Magic. Ron has taken over Fred and George’s joke shop. (since one of the twins died in the last book, in case you don’t recall.) The story mostly focuses on Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco Malfoy.

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The Fictional Spectrum: Data

dataIn 1987, Gene Roddenberry took a big gamble.  He created a spin-off of his cult classic TV series Star Trek, but without Kirk, Spock, or anyone else from the original crew.  Instead, a whole new crew was created, in order to better comment on the changing social climate of the 80’s and inspire a whole new generation. One character on this show that I came to identify with the most was Data, an android portrayed by Brent Spiner.

Designed by Dr. Noonian Soong (who was also portrayed by Spiner), Data was meant to be as close to humans as possible. He lacked emotions because Soong was unable to implement the same microchip he’d given to his “older brother” Lore. (also played by Spiner). Considering that Lore turned to evil because of his emotions, perhaps it’s just as well.

Data has many characteristics that aspies exhibit.  He has a tendency to info-dump and will often ramble until told to stop. He has a highly intelligent, even creative mind. This is evident in his deductive reasoning, causing him to admire Sherlock Holmes. (the show was unable to use this admiration much due to the character still being under copyright) He has interests in various fields, but escpecially those pertaining to science. He will even focus on a task to the exclusion of all else.

Data is also socially awkward. He often takes things literally, especially idioms. He cannot read body language, and has often been deceived not just by Lore, but also by people he thinks he can trust. He is also incapable of lying, but is forced to go against this protocol in the episode “Clues”, when a paranoid alien race attacks the ship. He often has a hard time understanding humor. In fact, what makes him such an entertaining person for me is that he often doesn’t realize how funny he actually is. (That changed in the movies when Geordi activates his emotion chip. I didn’t care for this development as it led to many forced humorous moments that just weren’t as natural as when he didn’t realize how funny he was)

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One Faith, Many Paths: Trevor Justin Gawthorne

trevor

This month for my “One Faith, Many Paths” project, I decided to interview one of the members of my Autistic Christians group on FB. Here’s Trevor Gawthorne from Down Under!

1. How old were you when you became Christian? When I was 16. I got bullied a lot over it.

2. What was your childhood like? It was all right. Most of it was decent. Eight years old was the last time I remember it being good.

3.When were you diagnosed with autism? Did you receive any help? I was diagnosed at 6 with autism and ADHD.

4. What is your current job? Unemployed.

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Celebrating 40 Years of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

jedi

Return of the Jedi was meant to be the end of an era. For the most stubborn of the Star Wars fans, it is the end, as some want to pretend the prequels never happened. It is the conclusion to Luke’s journey and the closing of an epic tale.

This is my favorite movie in the entire saga, yes, including the prequels. While I admire the risk taken by revealing that Darth Vader is in fact Anakin Skywaler, to me Jedi is better because it is the next step. Having a big reveal is one thing. What is an even bigger risk is going forward with that reveal and letting it alter the course of the story.

There are drastic changes as a result of the story. Lando Carlrissian, a former friend of Han Solo, has now joined the Rebellion. Apparently in the time between Jedi and Empire, Lando wanted to make amends for sacrificing Solo for the sake of allowing Cloud City to remain neutral. Seeing his friend encased in carbonite causes him to realize he cannot sit idly by and hope that someday the Empire will be overthrown.  He spent the last half of the movie helping Leia to escape Cloud City. He takes the next step in his atonement and joins the rebellion.

Han Solo is no longer neutral either. There were hints early on that Solo wanted to join the rebellion like the rest of the heroes. However, he couldn’t as long as Jabba the Hutt was alive and threatening his life. He’d be endangering his friends because every bounty hunter would be gunning for him. But when Leia murders Jabba, that threat is lifted and now Solo can be the hero he was meant to be.

Yoda is now close to death when Luke meets him once more. The once courageous and eccentric mentor is now no longer needed and he faces death with dignity, as Obi-Wan Kenobi did before him. But before he passes away, he tells Luke the truth. Obi-Wan explains that they did not keep the truth from Luke because they felt he could not handle it, but because they didn’t want him to make the same mistake Anakin did. Even if he is doing a good thing by confronting Vader, if he lets his emotions cloud his judgement, it will be all the more easier for the Emperor to manipulate him. And he almost succeeds.

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Film Freak: Fantastic Planet

fantastic planet

I’m a lover of animation and surrealism, and I learned of one of the best examples of both from a friend, Fantastic Planet. (or as it’s titled in its original language, La Planéte Sauvage, literally “The Wild Planet) It was released in 1973 and is based on the is based on the 1957 novel Oms en série by Stefan Wul.

The animation is reminiscent of the kind used in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It’s nice to look at. There is some nudity here and there, so I wouldn’t recommend it for children. Plus, it’s pretty disturbing.

The story takes place on an alien world. The opening scene right away shows us how nightmarish this world is. A woman is seen running and carrying her baby. She is stopped by giant blue hands. One picks her up and she drops the child. She is dropped to her death, and then we meet the aliens, the Draags. These are blue-skinned aliens who live in prosperity. The humans–which they call Oms–have it worse. They are kept as pets and some of the Draags regard them as vermin. They look at the humans like a scientist would look at a mouse. A curiosity for experiment and entertainment for children, but not much else.

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One Faith, Many Paths: Lamar Hardwick

lamar hardwick

For my latest interview as part of my “One Faith, Many Paths” project, I’m interviewing Lamar Hardwick, an autistic pastor in Lagrange, Georgia at New Community Church. Their website can be reached here: http://www.ncclagrange.com/contact-us

1. What was your childhood like?

My father was in the military so I grew up traveling around the world. We moved every 3 years and sometimes we lived outside the country. I spent a few years living in Germany when I was in elementary school. My father was also a minister, so we grew up going to church every Sunday. As a child, I rarely understood my peers. While I had a few friends, I don’t remember having really strong friendships because we moved so often.  I have three siblings, but I was always the quiet one and spent most of my time alone reading books.

2. When were you diagnosed autistic?

I was diagnosed in 2014, when I was 36 years old.

3. What made you decide to become a preacher?

In 2001, after graduating college I began to sense a calling from God to dedicate my life to serving the church.  At that time, I was becoming regularly involved in my church and I had a sense of fulfillment in the work that I was doing.  It took me nearly a year to understand exactly what my calling was, but by that time I was sure that God had called me to become a preacher.

4. Does being autistic present a challenge in your profession and in interacting in your congregation?

In some ways being autistic does present challenges for me because I have to spend extended amounts of time around larger crowds and it can sometimes become overwhelming to me.  Autism can also present a challenge when communicating with people because I often don’t read social cues and body language very well.  There have been times when people misinterpret things I say or vice versa.  Now that everyone in my church understands me better, they know that the best way to communicate with me is to be direct and to expect me to be direct as well.

5. I’ve often seen autistics who are either disdainful of Christianity or atheist. What reason do you think may cause this?

I think there are many reasons for this and most of the reasons that non-autistics are atheist is the same reasons that many autistics are atheists.  I think that most people who are atheist base their beliefs on a negative life experience that they believe cannot be reconciled with the existence of God.  Autistics tend to be very literal, so this can even provoke a stronger resistance to the idea of God. The problem with most people who come to the conclusion that God does not exist is that they are basing their rationale on very limited existence as well as a very subjective point of view. Most people don’t believe in God or have a disdain for Christianity because God doesn’t cooperate with them, but lack of cooperation doesn’t necessarily disprove that someone does not exist.

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