Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, finals are finally over and I am becoming reacquainted with my wife. It turns out that we have a lot in common. It's nice to be able to actually spend intervals longer than thirty minutes at a time with her and Auri. Auri can now have "fun" with two full time playmates. Auri likes to say "fun" a lot now. It's funny. Besides spending time with the fam., I can also actually pick up the guitar again. I plan on trying to write a couple new songs over the break and record at least two new ones. We'll see though. I can also actually read the news again. What's all this about a recession and corporate bailouts? Ha... I will have to start tackling the mountain of reading for next semester soon though. But for at least a few days, that will be out of sight and out of mind. For right now I'm just going to be a pie cooling on a window sill.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Eye of the Storm

Law School finals are upon me. If I make it out alive, you may hear from me again...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Upbeat: Documentary on Utah Ska

If you went to high school in the 90’s, you most likely heard of the musical phenomenon that was Ska music. Especially if you lived in Utah. Have you ever wondered what Ska music is, where it came from, and why it ended up in Utah of all places? Well, the answer to these pressing questions have been answered once and for all in my good friend Brandon Smith’s new documentary, “the Upbeat,” which is now out on DVD.
Very few modern music genres can boast as interesting a history as Ska music can. And the history of the music is really quite complex and so most attempts to tell its story are usually gross misrepresentations. However, The Upbeat manages to do a very good characterization of the music while at the same time managing to explain how and why it has ended up in divers places such as Utah.
The Upbeat tells the story of the music’s journey from the Island of Jamaica in the 60s, to Great Britain in the 70s, to the United States in the 80s , and finally to Utah in the 90s. The back-story of the documentary is fantastic and is fully supported by some of the biggest names in the music that have spanned the years, including Fredrick “Toots” Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals, “Buster Blood Vessel” of Bad Manners, Rob “Bucket” Hingley of the Toasters, and Victor Ruggierro and Dave Hillyard of the Slackers. What is also impressive about these interviews is that they represent all the eras of the music starting with Toots Hibbert from the Jamaican era. The way the documentary ties the story of Ska music itself into Utah’s experience with it was one of the better crafted elements of the film.
I don’t think the purpose of this documentary was merely meant to be a “puff piece” on Ska and Utah, and the documentary’s assessment of the Utah’s experience with music shows that.
The documentary tells the story of how Utah went from being one of the biggest boomtowns for Ska music in the United States to being one of the biggest ghost towns for the music in the United States. The film contrasts what made Ska so popular and trendy in the 90s with what Makes Ska so meaningful today that some are willing to keep the music moving forward despite the fact that its no longer popular and trendy. This includes personal interviews with most of Utah’s biggest 1990’s Ska bands like My Man Friday and Stretch Armstrong and today’s ever faithful leftovers from the 90s that just couldn’t give up the faith, like 2 1/2 White Guys, Fews and Two, and the Upstarts.
The other interesting theme the documentary develops is the “traditional” vs. “third wave” divide in Ska. That is, the debate between those that would rather keep the music pure and reflective of the original Jamaican sound and those that want to modify or modernize it, yet still call it Ska. You probably know where I come down in that debate, and I am quoted in the film in that regard.
Yes, I am in the film. I am actually kind of a substantial part of it. I feel kind of silly admitting this since I am writing this blog on the film and I’m sure that it most likely sounds like a great deal of self-promotion. Not to mention the fact that my critique is obviously biased. However, bias aside, I sincerely thought Brandon did a great job on the film. I’m just glad someone did a documentary on the subject. It’s so nostalgic for me, but I think anyone watching this film would enjoy it, especially if you already enjoy documentary films.
Incidentally, if you are interested in getting a copy, you can go to this link and order one. Along with the DVD comes a Utah Ska compilation CD comprised of several bands from over the years.

Stretch Armstrong

My Man Friday

Me, my friend Ben, and some other people we used to see at shows up in Salt Lake. The kid taking the picture was the kid that we knew best, and obviously he's not in the picture. Look at that goofy smile of mine. What was I doing?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Ups and Downs

Well, although I have many enormous concerns about the direction the country is headed with an Obama Presidency , I nonetheless want to send an indirect "congratulations" his way. What he has accomplished truly was no small feat; And although I disagree with his policies, except for his policy on trade, I think it is a positive thing that we have elected our first black president. If for no other reason, I think think the prospect that a new sense of patriotism might be imbued within much of our country is at lease a positive thing. My hope is that love of country will be more prevalent in the hearts of those that were perhaps cynical before.
I do have at least one solid reason to celebrate however. Proposition 8 passed! The people of our state spoke and chose to define their moral culture as one that values traditional marriage above other consensual relationships. There is nothing unjust about this. This is how republics work. Remember, the constitution leaves matters of morality to the states. It is a "reserved power." Citizens of each state have the right to decide what their moral culture should be, what they value, and what they feel will bring the best calculated results to their state. It is also important to remember that rights given to one group often effect the rights of another group. Giving gay couples the right to marry would infringe upon other's rights to live in a society free from the consequences they would see occurring from gay marriage. It would infringe upon the rights of parents not to have their children be taught in schools that gay marriage is morally equivalent to traditional marriage. It would infringe upon tax payer's rights to withhold their tax dollars from being used to manage a new institution. It would also effect the rights of those that wish to preserve the Christian values that have been preserved in our country for 400 years. After all, Christian values are what our nation was developed upon. In the eyes of many, divergence from those values is an infringement upon the right to preserve those values. Where such conflict of rights exists, it is nearly always best to allow a fair election to decide the conflict between the conflicting rights. That is what we have done here.
The one thing that I must admit that I was completely let down on was that my candidate did not win the election. I was totally sure that Chuck Baldwin had it in the bag. What you haven't heard of him? If you haven't, he was the candidate for the Constitution Party. Given the state of things, it just may be the party that I may put my support behind, even though I have not followed a political party for a number of years and have remained an independent conservative. Maybe next election eh?

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Something to Vote for"

In this election year it is no secret that I do not have a candidate—a depressing prospect for someone like me. However, there is one issue that I can feel good about voting for. As many of you know, we have Proposition 8 up for vote here in California, which in essence will amend the California Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The first and obvious reason for supporting this initiative is a matter of religion. Many of you know that I am a Latter Day Saint, and the President of our Church (the Prophet) has been very explicit in directing that the saints out here are to be promoting the proposition and campaigning on its behalf.
However, while my religious beliefs may inform me that gay marriage is immoral, there are several additional reasons why I believe that Proposition 8 is not only right morally, but why I believe that it is vital to the preservation of our republic.
Like I’m sure each of you have done, I too have contemplated long and hard about the argument that denying gay couples the right to marry is an unfair violation of equal rights. This argument is compelling, but I argue that there are far too many other serious considerations that outweigh this seeming injustice. Over the next couple of weeks I will post a few different reasons for this assertion, of which this post is the first.

Reason #1: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Like President Lincoln said at another seminal moment in American history, when he quoted Christ, a house divided against itself cannot stand. The preservation of any civilization depends on a common culture. An essential element in culture is what is defined by its people to be moral and immoral. Civilizations that disagree on these matters often suffer disarray or end in war.
These divisions creeping among us do not unify us, nor will they. As President Lincoln predicted of slavery, the country would remain divided until one side or the other won. Such a dichotomy of values cannot live in harmony. This is not to say that we are “intolerant” of one another. Most of us that disagree with gay marriage know gay people and get along with them just fine. We disagree, and do so respectfully, yet at the end of the day we disagree. Disagreements might be manageable on an individual level, but when it comes time to write out national and state budgets, to draw up national and state laws, and to decide matters of peace and war, the value of a unified body politic cannot be overstated.
This country is facing a dilemma. The question has become which we value more, “diversity” or “unity.” I am not proposing a Harry Potter like prophesy where “either can live while the other survives.” The fact is, our nation has always enjoyed a healthy amount of diversity. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants—immigrants that have at times brought competing values. But it has always been our highest aspiration to maintain a sense of national unity. It was for this reason that the congress placed the phrase E pluribus unum, Latin for "Out of Many, One," on our national seal in 1782. Diversity has always had its place as long as our diversity did not disrupt our national unity. However, there is a difference between “diversity” and just plain deviation or defiance. What I am proposing is that if we choose to value diversity over the values that have so long unified us as a nation, the classic American values of Christianity, free enterprise, small government, and checks and balances, we will cease to be a unified country and will be forced to face the consequences that follow.
A few weeks ago I got a hold of a “Yes on 8” poster and put it up in our apartment window. By the very next day our neighbors had put up several homemade signs in protest to ours, urging to “vote NO on 8.” Since then, they have replaced their homemade signs with proper manufactured ones. They read: “Equality for All: Vote No on 8.” It is really quite intersting--Next door neighbors at such odds. It has left me to ponder. We have to ask ourselves, is the right for gay couples to marry really more important than the unity of our nation? Are we truly prepared to declare “Equality for All” , “Unity for None?”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mission Statement

This being my first post, I suppose it is appropriate establish what I intend to do with this blog-a mission statement of sorts. 
Since myspace is obviously played out, and blogs seem to be the way of the future, I guess it's as good a time as any to jump on the blog train.  Really though, my myspace page is dedicated to music, which I will still discuss here as well, but I  want to be able to post on a variety of topics. This  may vary from film to religion to my everyday family life.  
A common topic, however, will be politics...oops...I lost you right there didn't I?  Well, hopfully I can talk you into coming back despite this. Here goes. Yes, yes, my politics are conservative. Sean Hannity you say?  No...  I should warn you from the outset that I do not subscribe to pop-culture politics, so if you're expecting to read a regurgitation of what Rush Limbah said, you may not be interested.  However, you may be even more certain that the content will in no way reflect the ever scheming liberal media cartel.  I would like to consider myself an independent thinker who just can't help having a conservitive mind.  
I may not be the best up to date blogger. I am so busy in school that I hardly have time for anything, but I promise to make a valiant effort in posting when ever I can.  
very warmest regards
-Andy Fackrell-