Devin the Dude's 10 Best Weed Songs

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Photo by Rizoh
Devin the Dude at Warehouse Live, 2011
If the guy in front of you on Interstate 69 is driving a little slower than usual this weekend, feel free to blame it on 4/20, the international stoner holiday that gives smokers a ready-made excuse to wake up late and do what they were almost certainly going to do anyway on Easter Sunday. Try not to judge them too harshly -- somebody is going to have to eat all of those Peeps.

Even if you aren't a fan of blazing up, though (WTF?!), tonight you can at least celebrate the return of Devin the Dude, H-Town's reddest-eyed underground rap legend, to the stage at Warehouse Live. While the adoration of marijuana is hardly novel in hip-hop, the Dude stays higher than most, cramming his tunes full of more reefer references than your average stoner imagines he perceives in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

That probably sounds terrible and insipid, but Devin is such a talented and unique voice that he makes weed sound even better than it actually is. It's our belief, in fact, that the tactical deployment of his music will be the key to the eventual decriminalization of the delightful drug right here in Greg Abbott's Texas.

Don't believe us? Then indulge us. Hell, indulge yourself: Light up a blunt, kick off your shoes and celebrate this holiday weekend by enjoying the Dude's ten best odes to the herb. And just in case you're feeling a little anxious about the whole idea, please know that exhaling into a toilet-paper roll stuffed with dryer sheets totally works.


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For No. 42: Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Bob Sandberg via the Library of Congress
While most of us are off sweating our taxes today, there is at least one cause for celebration. Today is Jackie Robinson Day, celebrating the anniversary of Robinson's first taking a major-league baseball field with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As the first African-American MLB player, Robinson blazed a trail that ended 80 years of segregation in the sport and paved the way for generations of gifted athletes.

Since 2004, it's become an annual tradition to honor the man who in many ways most defined the true national pastime, embodying as he did both skill undeniable and the place of freedom and equality that America is supposed to represent in ballparks across the nation. This year, for instance, Historic Dodgertown will host an exhibition game, and each player at tonight's Astros-Royals game at Minute Maid Park will wear Robinson's jersey number, 42. That number has become symbolic of the movement towards equality in professional sports, and has been retired at every MLB park. So honor No. 42, here's a playlist of songs about the one and only Jackie Robinson.


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Cashing In On Christmas: Five Shameless Holiday Songs

Categories: Weird Holidays

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I love watching people whine and moan about how commercial Christmas has become. Become? It's been this way for longer than anyone now has been alive! Sure, there's church, and family, and great movies with warm lessons, and stuff like that. There are also presents.

Loads of them! There's big piles of bright stuff under trees. Once a year splurges on things you may desire but not ordinarily have the means for. There's that feeling of handing off to a loved one an expression of your affection measured in both dollars and your willingness to machete your way through soccer moms to get it rung up.

So today I thought that I'd celebrate the sheer material glee of the holiday with unabashed joy using my five favorite commercial Christmas songs.


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Happy Birthday Raymond Chandler: Five Songs For the Master of Mystery

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Raymond Chandler was responsible for some of the greatest detective stories ever penned by an American writer. That image you have of a hard-boiled, hard-drinking gum shoe in a fedora surrounded my crime, mystery, beautiful women, and danger? That is all Chandler and his most famous creation Philip Marlowe.

Chandler was damn near his own character sometimes. After failing as both journalist and poet, he eventually became a vice-president at Dabney Oil Syndicate. He was making lots of money, but the company only put up with his drinking, disappearances, habit of getting cozy with the female employees, and the occasional threat of suicide before they canned him after just one year in the position.

Unemployment drove Chandler into the arms of pulp-fiction writing, and he never looked back, leaving us with a host of novels that are some of the greatest reads you could ever hope for, full of larger-than-life stories and intrigue that you can't get anywhere else, and many of which went on to be adapted into equally beloved films.

Chandler's work has also influenced more than a few musicians, and today we celebrate them in thanks for all the wonderful tales like The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely that he left us.


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Happy Birthday Christian Science! 5 Musicians of the Faith

Categories: Weird Holidays

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On this day in 1821 was born the founder of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy. She was a girl in poor health who began to see faults in the religious teachings of predestination and original sin. This led her to a worship more centered on God's love, which caused a rift in her extremely religious family. Prayer supposedly cured any number of ailments that Eddy suffered in her life, though the psychosomatic nature of many of them is sometimes called into question.

Nonetheless, she went on to publish the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875, which is the central text of the Christian Science faith. Today the sect has as many as 400,000 adherents. Its central tenets, as laid out by Eddy, are that the Bible has been misinterpreted. Eddy held that spiritual reality is the only reality, and that matter and things like sickness are mere illusions to be overcome through worship.

This aspect has led to criticism of the church when people refuse to seek medical care for themselves and in some cases for their children, which in the past has led to some deaths and even arrests for manslaughter. A dwindling congregation has led to a movement by church officials to seek a less stringent view of medicine in recent years.

And then, any musicians have been brought up or converted to Christian Science. Such as...

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Perry Mason: Five Songs for a Legal Legend

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Today is the birthday of one Erle Stanley Gardner, with whose name you may or may not be all that familiar. Undoubtedly you know his most famous creation, defense attorney Perry Mason, star of prose, radio, and screen.

Gardner was suspended from law school because he spent all his time boxing, but eventually taught himself enough law to pass the California Bar. He was a good lawyer, but the law bored him; all he lived for was trial drama and trial psychology. This began to manifest itself in contributing stories to pulp magazines, and the birth of Mason in more than 80 short stories and novels. His work made him one of the most widely-read authors of the time.

Mason's dedication to helping clients framed for murder and outing the true culprit has inspired many people, including several musicians who have paid homage to him in their songs. Today's playlist is dedicated to them, and to the author's happy memory of being enthralled at "Case of the Sinister Spirit."


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Five Songs for the Dog Days of Summer

Categories: Weird Holidays

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If you couldn't tell from the thermometer, last week marked the official start to what are known as the Dog Days of Summer. The common belief is that the season gets its name from the theory that rabid dogs were more common in these hot months than in other times of the year. This is false. Dogs don't get rabies in the hottest part of summer any more than any other time of the year.

The actual origin is much cooler. It harkens all the way back to Ancient Rome, where the days were known as diēs caniculārē, and revolved around the star Sirius. Back then the days started when Sirius and the sun would rise in the sky at the same time, which no longer happens because the Earth's rotation axis has changed. That's how old the saying is.

According to Brady's Clavis Calendaria, the Dog Days were a time when "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."

It's a hot, mad time, and more than a few musicians have alluded to that in song. Here's your playlist for the burning days to come.


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Happy Bikini Day! Five Songs For Your Two-Piece

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Sonlam
The 2012 Bikini Contest Finals at Scout Bar in Houston
It was on this day in 1946 that the bikini first went on sale after a debut at an outdoor fashion show in Paris. Going to the beach has never been the same since.

The bikini has a very interesting history. Its inventor was a French automobile engineer named Louis Réard who also ran a clothing store with his mother, and got involved with a rival who said that they would produce the world's smallest bathing suit.

Réard revolutionized the bathing industry with his two-piece design using only 30 square inches of fabric. No model would dare wear the revealing garment in public, so he was forced to use a nude dancer. He called it the bikini after the Bikini Atoll, where the nuclear weapons were tested in World War II, believing that the shock from it's introduction would be similar to the shock of the bombings in Japan.

He was sort of right. The bathing suit was a huge hit, and he received more than 50,000 fan letters for its invention. These days, bikini sales are an almost $1 billion a year industry, and more than a few musicians have paid tribute to the iconic and sexy garment. Today we salute the best of those.


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Mayor Parker Honors Project Armageddon's Alexis Hollada With a Day

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Project Armageddon's lead singer and bassist Alexis Hollada is having, for want of a less enthusiastic term, a pretty fucking great year. She's the first transgendered woman to be nominated for a Houston Press Music Award in the Best Female Vocals category, and the band as a whole is up for Best Metal as well.

They were also recently invited to participate in the Midi Musical Festival in Shanghai this October, and are currently working on raising the money to make the trip.

Oh, and Friday, as declared by the mayor herself, is Alexis Hollada Day! The proclamation reads...

REWIND:

I Tried to Explain Transgender Doom Metal to My Three-Year-Old


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Happy Birthday, Richard Garfield! A Magic: The Gathering Playlist

Categories: Weird Holidays

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Today I'd like to say happy 50th birthday to the man that made my teenage years so thoroughly enjoyable. Richard Garfield is the man behind the combat collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, and it would not be remiss to say I was completely obsessed with it.

The direct descendant of President James A. Garfield got into Dungeons & Dragons at a young age. He'd already designed his first game himself by the age of 13. While still a mathematical grad student at University of Pennsylvania, he tried shopping around a game called RoboRally. What he ended up doing was crafting a fast-paced, minimal equipment card game aimed at tournament convention play at the personal bequest of Wizard of the Coast's Peter Adkison.

The rest is history. Magic: The Gathering remains an incredibly popular game, not to mention a really excellent set of spin-off books that brings their expansive stories to life. I haven't played much since the Ravnica set due to a combination of low funds and no time, but I check in on the happenings every now and again just to see what's there when I eventually head back. Thanks for the good time, Mr. Garfield. This playlist is for you.

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