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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Greed, Greed, Greed--The New Indulgence for Sale(A New Nicsperiment Rant)

The other night I was flipping channels, and I saw a TV minister talking to an enormous, cheering, call-and-response chanting crowd. The minister was talking about God's will for our lives. Right on, I think, God's will is where you want to be. Then this minister gets to the body of his message and says this:
"You can't do anything unless you have abundant finances. You can't do God's will if you don't have an abundance of money!"
"WTF!" I yell at the TV. "Tell that to Mother Teresa!"
A few days later, as I was driving through Baker, Louisiana, or as I like to call it, Church Alley, I saw a giant church billboard in the front of a huge church that said:
COME THIS MONTH AND RECEIVE A FINANCIAL BLESSING! And under that:
MONTH OF MIRACLES!
The rub is that you must give these churches large sums of your own money to stir "God"'s financial pot up to a boil.
This reminds me of the middle ages.
Remember when the Catholic Church used to sell individuals indulgences to shorten those
individuals' stay in Purgatory? Of course you don't, because that was 500 years ago, but you probably know your history.
Well, the idea of Purgatory has pretty much been rejected. Real life is the stand-in for Purgatory now. Everyone is waiting on their ship to set sail and take them out of here.
But if you pay a certain church enough money, you can get out of this doldrum-heavy hellhole and transcend to a place where you will have all your earthly desires.
I say to you again:
WTF?
How did it come to this?...
Well, obviously, I am hinting in my title that it hasn't come to this, but it has been like this for a long time.
People don't like waiting around. We want what we want, and we want it now. The thing is,(truthful cliche ahead) what we want is usually not very good for us.
Thus, it seems like The Church is neglecting its duties and going after a big tempting pipe-dream.
Where does the Bible say that God wants us to have a gazillion dollars?
Methinks that selfish ministers and some deceived non-selfish ministers are tapping into the basest of human desires: power. The problem is that this abundance BS is seeping into the entire church conscienceness and bastardizing our theology. Instead of "Give all you have to the poor" we are trying to "Get all we can so we won't be poor."
And what this obviously all comes down to is:
What can God do for me?
Not, "What can I do for God?" or even, "What should I do for God?" but "How can I use God?" "What things can I do to get God to make me rich?"
I don't even feel like I need to explain to Christians why this is wrong. If you've read the Bible, even glanced over it, you see that the love of money is "slightly" looked down upon. Gee whiz. It happens over and over again.
I mentioned this in my post: Two Problems with the American Church.
I mean, how common sense is this?
God wants us to love one another. He wants us to love our neighbor as ourself. He wants us to love our enemies. He wants us to store up our treasure in heaven, not on Earth.
Why is The Church preaching that the goal of the church is to become wealthy?
How much more do we need than what we already have?
How much will be enough for us?
Shouldn't The Church take a note from our founder, Jesus Christ, and follow His teachings to do the best with what we are given? I mean, if we are pleasing God, and for some reason we need a trillion dollars, He will give it to us, but dollars are not the currency of The Church. Dollars are the currency of America, the currency of The World. The currency of The Church is supposed to be Love.
And now, someone, please, please, please, tell me I am wrong. Tell me I am wrong if you disagree with me. If you agree with me, you can tell me that, too, but if you don't, give me one instance in the Bible that tells us to store up our treasure on Earth. Tell me why any of this abundance theology is important to the Christian Church, and why it is not a harmful distraction to our true goals. Do you remember what those true goals are?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Scientology Drama/My Apologies to Zach Braff

In the last few weeks this blog has been getting many hits from all over the world. Like, insane amounts of hits.
"My, aren't I awesome," I thought.
Using sitemeter.com, I suddenly realized how I was getting so many hits. Apparently, if one were to type in the phrase "Scientology Beliefs" into most search engines a few weeks ago, the Nicsperiment would come up in the top ten, and for a short while, number one.
Apparently, this was because of my "Just another reason to find Scientology absolutely ridiculous" post from last November, which recapped South Park's then just aired "Trapped in the Closet" episode.
Finally, I have fallen down on the search engine lists, but I am still getting beaucoup hits from people interested in Scientologists' beliefs. CRAZY!
Well, if you've been following popculture news lately, you have seen the recent drama over Issac Hayes("Chef", Musical Genius)'s departure from South Park, reportedly due to South Parks' "religious intolerance and bigotry". The South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, hit back by saying that Hayes was only leaving because the show made fun of Scientology, his religion, and that he had been fine with cashing checks while making fun of other religions. Stone and Parker then issued a hillarious indictment against Scientology, pledging to disrupt their plans to "save the world".
Now there is news that Hayes had a stroke three months ago, and someone else is making these statements in his name, and also news that Hayes loves South Park and would never have made that decision and that statement. Granted, this news came from Fox "News", so who knows where it is coming from, but the whole thing is really up in the air and confusing right now.
Last night marked South Park's 10th season premiere, which was, as usual, right on topic. The episode, titled "Return of Chef!", skewered recent events, with Chef returning to South Park from travels with the Super Adventure Club (SAC). Now, Chef, who once wanted nothing more than to make sweet, sweet love to women, wants to make sweet, sweet love to children.
That's right. The Super Adventure Club is actually a group of men who travel the world molesting children, and they have brainwashed Chef into joining them.
Chef is still voiced by Hayes, but all of his dialogue is taken from previous episodes, which is pretty disturbing and pretty funny.
The children eventually de-brainwash Chef, but SAC won't take this for an outcome and hypnotizes Chef again. Chef ultimately decides to leave South Park for good, but is immediately killed in a way I don't want to spoil.
At his funeral, which is surprisingly sad (I thought I was going to tear up for reasons I will list further down), Kyle (I think it was Kyle. I can't remember. Maybe it was Stan. It doesn't matter) says, "We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains." And I am mad at that fruity little club.
I really like Issac Hayes' music. For some reason I saw the movie "Shaft" at a ridiculously young age. I have frequently referred to Hayes as "the man." I have his Ultimate Issac Hayes boxed set. So, I highly suspect that we should be mad at "that fruity little club for scrambling his brains." In my opinion, I don't think Hayes left South Park. I really think someone else made the decision for him. It is my utmost hope that Hayes rehabilitates from his stroke, comes out to say that he never made those comments about South Park, rejoins the show, and ditches Scientology. I do not like Scientology. While I am a Christian, I deeply respect others' beliefs (as most Christians around the world actually do), as long as I do not find those beliefs to be harmful (and any casual reader of this blog knows I am just as critical to certain Christian's "beliefs" that I find harmful). I find Scientologists' beliefs to be harmful.
Want a new Wikipedia link?
Yeah, you do!
Here is the one to L.Ron Hubbard. Want to follow this man's "teachings"? Scientology really pisses me off. Why do Scientologists have to act like little bitches all the time? Why can't they take it when they are criticized? You see Kirstie Alley's letter to Rolling Stone magazine after RS's expose? You hear about Tom Cruise reportedly keeping South Park's "Trapped in the Closet" episode out of Europe?
If Scientologists don't have anything to hide, why are they acting like paranoid-schizo maniacs? As a Christian, I am not worried about the coming "DaVinci Code" movie because I know the movie and book are bullshit. I am not going to write the movie company producing it and call them "intolerant bigots". I'm a man. People are going to disagree with what I believe.
Magoo!
And on to matters where I do not piss off thousands of whiny little pussies, let me issue an open letter of apology to Zach Braff.
_____________________
Dear Zach Braff,
Zach Braff, I have always liked you as a media figure. I enjoy the program you star in, Scrubs, and I enjoy your performance in that program.
When I heard of a new film you were writing, directing, and staring in, Garden State, I was surprised and a little apprehensive to hear it being described as this generation's The Graduate. After an initial viewing of the film, I was disappointed. While I enjoyed aspects of the film, I made it widely known that I found it to be nihilistic and empty.
Well, after watching the film again recently, I must say that I was wrong, wrong, wrong, in assessing your film as such. Your film is not nihilistic or hopeless. While I do not think Garden State is this generation's Graduate (and I doubt we will have one--and anyway, I don't think you were going for that. It's not your fault people compared the two films as such), and do not think that Garden State is a great film, I think that it is a good film, refreshing to watch, hopeful in outlook, and an admirable first effort. I think you did a good job of crafting an original romantic-comedy/coming of age film, and I seriously look forward to any other films you make. You are quite good in Scrubs, and there are many times I empathize with your character, which is not only due to the show's writing, but also to your performance. I am sorry that I initially came out so aggresively against your film. I was an asshole. You did a good job.
Sincerely,
Nicholas

If anyone can get this to Braff for me, please due so. Also, if anyone knows where I can go to "Paranthesis Overuser's Anonymous" (POA), please let me know.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spamming My Own Blog

I have two new tracks at myspace.com/nicholasloup that I am quite proud of. They are the first tracks I have posted that I have not only performed myself, but also mixed and recorded. Enjoy...?
Anyway, I realize that in the last month I have posted a travelogue, a video link, a concert review, and this.
So, some of you might be saying, "HEY! Where are the old school Nicsperiment rants!?"
Well, I definately have some brewing up. The deal is, I have been so uncharacteristically easy-going and happy these last few months, not much has been pissing me off.
There are a few things, though, so stay tuned for that.
Tentative rants include:

Are liberals and conservatives both insane?

Why can't I just be gay? Apparently my life would be perfect. and
Syrup? Food, or menace?

Get ready...?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sigur Ros, Verizon Wireless Theater, Houston, Texas, 2-25-06

Houston is a strange place. The world basically ends after Houston and doesn't pick up again until L.A. Well, not really. Taking I-10 West, one will eventually hit San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, and Phoenix, but these are just desert outposts in the middle of what may as well be another planet. Houston is the end of civilization. Beyond is desert. If you've seen the 13th Floor (which ain't too great a film), the road out of Houston is the road out of the created world. So Houston would seem to be a great place for Icelandic band, Sigur Ros, to play.
The theater district of Houston has no coffee shops. Anyone you meet there will tell you that they do, but when you ask where, they will say, "I don't know. I'm sure there's one here somewhere." They can't tell you exactly where because these coffee shops do not exist. Looking back, I'm glad my trio of terror could not find a coffee shop, because coffee makes humans urinate, and urinating in the Verizon Wireless Theater is illegal except in designated areas from which the stage cannot be viewed.
Anima, the Icelandic string quartet (who also play strings on Sigur Ros' albums) opened up the show. Thus began one of the most confusing 45-minute clusters of time in my life.
Anima plays weird little elf lullabies, but I don't understand exactly how. The four girls ran back and forth to various stringed instruments setting loops, but their most important tool appeared to be the laptop controlling everything. I suspect this laptop is evil.
Anima played oboe, cello, violin, guitar, slide guitar, champagne glasses (by hovering hands over them) and a saw (a sharp tool used to cut down trees) among other things. Though their music was enjoyable, everyone came to see Sigur Ros, and there was quite a layer of antsiness in the air once Anima's set hit the 30-minute mark.
Thankfully, Sigur Ros and Anima shared some of the same equipment/Sigur Ros equipment didn't get in the way of Anima's set because, once Anima got out of the way, Sigur Ros wasted little time getting on the stage.
Before SigurRos began their first song, Glosoli, a silk screen stretched out, obfuscating the audience's view of the the stage. I spit that word out like a peanut butter sandwich.
At this moment (when the silk screen stretched out, not when I said 'obfuscating'), the two-hour audio/visual orgasm known as Sigur Ros' live show began.
To get a decent idea of the first ten minutes of the show, a click here may help.
Sigur Ros roared through Glosili, lights blasting their shadows all over the screen, then the silk was rolled back and the view of the band made clear--a reveal that proved indeed humans, or at least beings in the guise of humans, were playing the music coming from the stage.
Singer/guitar player Jonsi then launched into a guitar solo played with a violin bow, stripping the paint off the walls, and then the band slid into fan favorite Ny Batteri.
After an hour and a half of aural bliss (I never get tired of the term "aural bliss". I could say it all day), Sigur Ros left the stage. And that was it.
No, I'm just kidding. The band then came back out for an encore.
When I heard the first note of Untitled Eight from the ( ) album, I was immediately disappointed because I knew this would have to be their last song. If you've heard this song, you know why I knew it was going to be their last song. There were songs I wanted to hear that were not played, as is the nature of any concert experience.
However, the bands rendition of Untitled Eight washed any bad taste out of my mouth.
This track, usually nine minutes of buildup and three minutes of ridiculously satisfying catharsis, was stretched to its absolute limit and became all the stronger for it. The band stretched the song out for seemingly twenty minutes, building and building until all air had left the room. I drum on my knees, and I thought I was going to break them. The band took nearly fifteen minutes to reach the awaited sonic explosion that closes the song, and once the fuse hit the powder, Sigur Ros held the audience to the sweet, sweet fire as long as possible. Jonsi pushed his voice to limit. He is more than capable to hit the notes he does on the albums-in fact, there were times during this song and throughout the show that he surpassed them. When Sigur Ros finally hit the final crashing note, the audience exploded to its feet. I've never seen that kind of reaction from an audience. I've been to many concerts, seen many big concerts on television, been to huge rowdy religious events, been to sold-out college footballs games played by championship teams, and beaten Zelda for the Super Nintendo, but I've never seen a reaction of such fierce gratitude from an audience.
At that exact moment in time, Sigur Ros could have commanded the audience to do anything, and the audience would have done it. It is quite good that, at least for now, Sigur Ros is using their powers for good.
If they go bad, Iceland may take over the world.

If you even remotely enjoy the music this band creates and have the opportunity, I would suggest attending one of their shows. Tickets are inexpensive (under $30 before Ticketmaster fees, if you can pick them up before they sell out).

For those interested in the setlist, I can't give you the exact order, but I can remember every song they played:

From Agaeis Byrjun
:
Ny Batteri
Olsen Olsen
Avalon (pre-recorded)

From ( )
Untitled Six (A huge surprise, considering it was not played at the November Iceland show, but a welcome one, as this song was a definite highlight)
Untitled Eight


From Takk
Takk...
Glosoli
Hoppipolla
Meo Blodnasir
Saeglopur
Gong
Andvari
Svo Hljott
Heysatan

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'll Kill Your Dog for Fun, So Don't Push Me

NOTE: NBC HAS TAKEN IT DOWN, BUT POSTED IT ON THEIR OWN SITE, SO I HAVE CHANGED THE LINK AGAIN. STILL, I HATE NBC.
Last night on SNL, Natalie Portman delivered the rap I have been wanting to hear for years.
You will most probably love or hate this video.
WARNING: Tons of bleeped profanities, bodily function gestures, and nerds.
Check it out before NBC gets wind and takes it down. I dislike them.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Return of the Mack

I am back from Houston. I will do a write up of the show as soon as I have the time.
Until then, I must make a confession.
I am feeling very guilty for something.
I have been laughing my bloody head off for about three weeks to this video
and I haven't posted it here.
This minute and twenty-two seconds rivals "Lazy Sunday"
It will make your life better.