Friday, December 30, 2005
This is a great story to lead into the Bush administration's response to the recent spying scandal. First there's the refusal to talk about it, then it was defiantly acknowledged, then my favorite is Dick Cheney saying "Especially in the day and age we live in the President of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy." He is essentially saying that the President acted with powers he should have. Is that not illegal?
So ok - there is a grey area here. Something that probably should be looked into. And today it is announced that the Justice department will be investigating the leak of the alleged unconstitutional acts of the Bush Administration. Going back to The West Wing, that story displayed a remarkable amount of character. Fictional character - but character none the less. If there are illegal acts going on in the White House it is the responsibility of the press and the officials that are entrusted with running this country to admit the wrong doing, address it, and then move on.
"Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both during the 1970s, served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area," Cheney told reporters traveling with him on Air Force Two. It is funny that Cheney brings up the checks and balances that were instituted after the Watergate scandal as if they were a bad thing. The reason we need the checks and balances are to prevent rogue administrations running amuck.
Why is it that republican administrations are unable to live within the guidelines set by the constitution?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Last night I decided to visit my parents house because it was the last day that my brother and his family would be in town - I see them once every couple of years or so, so it was the polite thing to do. The TV was on and so began the search for something that everyone could watch - not too violent, not too sappy, etc. It seemed we struck gold when the 3rd installment of Harry Potter was beginning. At this point my jesus-freak half-brother stated that Harry Potter is what's wrong with this country. My brother is sort of like the father from Douglas Coupland's book Hey Nostradamus!, claustrophobically devout. He believes that Harry Potter and its "devil worship" is the bible to too many kids. To the defense of the rest of my family, we all argued against him commenting on the many evils this world has endured in the name of some god. How many clan members put the hood over their head with one hand because they have a bible in the other?
Any way, the argument quieted down when my brother provided the next nugget of wisdom: the other problem with this country are the gays. For me, all of the mirth and frivolity of the holiday weekend came to an abrupt end. No sense arguing with this level of close-mindedness.
No matter how much you love your family, you didn't choose them. At times it becomes hard to believe that you could even be related. No better support for the argument that we are as much a product of our peers as our family.
Either that or my brother was simply born an ass. Either way I'm glad the long holiday weekend is over.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
My top 6 are essentially interchangeable as far as my rankings go, but this was my best stab.
Note – The Sufjan Stevens, The New Pornographers, Aimee Mann, Spoon, David Mead, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Adam Richman, Bloc Party, and Sundayrunners albums are all available on eMusic.
- Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine - I combine the version released on the internet and the version released officially as one giant extraordinary cd. Some of the songs are better on the leaked version (“Better Version of Me” for instance) and some are better on the official version (“Thymps” as an example). Either way this is a second straight masterwork for Fiona.
- Sleater-Kinney - The Woods - This album is the most inaccessible on my list – if you don’t like SK, then you don’t. Their harmonies are discordant; their chords are crunchy and noisy. But this album manages to do so and make songs that are catchy as all hell.
- Michael Penn - Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947 – This is one of the more layered releases for me this year. While I liked it when I first listened to it, it didn’t hold me the way his last two releases did. To say it grew on me is an understatement. As literate as any Penn release – it takes serious listening to truly hear everything that’s being said.
- Kanye West - Late Registration – The man dissed the president and then went on to sell 2 million CDs. The song that I’ll remember from 2006 and a rap album that is a complete listen.
- Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise – I was afraid of this CD when I first read reviews, but it is epic. It is not folky – but it will appeal to those there. It’s not rocking, but the production will appeal to those that like indie rock.
- The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema – From the first song this is the catchiest CD of the year. Careful – hooks all over the place.
- Doves - Some Cities – Example #1 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). So many great songs on this album that I shake my head when I listen to it.
- Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm – Doesn’t hit me the way Bachelor No. 2 or I’m With Stupid did, but I find myself humming songs from TFA all the time.
- Spoon - Gimme Fiction – Example #2 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). If this band was British I bet everyone would know their names.
- Death Cab for Cutie – Plans – Example #3 of a band better than Coldplay (in 2005). The O.C. cred scared me away. They’re more substantial than that.
- David Mead - Wherever You Are – This 5 song EP would be top 10 if it weren’t 5 songs. That said – I like this release better than Indiana.
- Elbow - Leaders of the Free World – Final example of a band better than Coldplay in 2005. I think this may rate higher as I listen to it more, but I just got it.
- Arcade Fire – Funeral – More of the 80’s redux but done with more competence than style. Ignored in the revival of the 80’s sound but to me they’ve done the best at creating their own sound as opposed to rehashing others.
- The Decemberists – Picaresque – Quirky and excellent. I heard this album in January and it has sort of faded for me – still a standout.
- Bloc Party - Silent Alarm – Another 80’s sounding band. Not the bad 80’s stuff. Good and catchy.
- Adam Richman - Patience and Science – Infectious. Maybe not the most substantial release of the year, but fun to listen to.
- Sundayrunners – Sundayrunners – No one talks about this CD at all and that makes me think they need better marketing. Call me.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Note: Lazy Sunday has been removed because NBC is run by douchebags. Sorry - the video is available for $1.99 on iTunes or for free on the crap NBC website (as long as you're running Window's IE).
Lazy Sunday on iTunes
Merry Christmas Motherf@$&%er's!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Well he's laughing - all the way to the bank in his Mercedes.
Friday, December 16, 2005
In my malaise I didn't give props to Richard Prior last week. Richard Prior made it cool to curse. Thank you Richard - I wouldn't be able to get through a day without your contributions.
I never have great "special guest stories" (I did run into Warren Zevon once at a Freedy Johnston concert - had a conversation with him and didn't know who he was until Freedy called him up on stage) but ?uestlove of the Roots joined Fiona for a couple of songs including my fave "Limp". Those are the the things that make attending concerts priceless.
She was so good, I wish I had seen both shows last week. Of course then I would have to of put up with concert goers two days in a row and that may be too much to ask.
Just a little hint to any moron that buys an Xbox for anything more than list - in six months Xbox 360s will be like assholes, everyone will have one. In a year or so the price will drop - they always do. Add to that the new Playstation and Nintendo machines are on the way and you have to wonder why anyone would pay $1,000 for one of these machines.
How about having a modicum of self-respect guys.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
First off - I love the Linzes, am happy they won, but in no way would they have competed in a normal race. They made too many mistakes and only their tenacity brought them through. That said - they're were one of the most likeable groups they've ever had on TAR. As for the Weavers - well for one hour each week I had someone I hated more than Dubya. The fact that they were in the final three and were as universally loathed as they were made for some tense TV watching in this house.
The final three teams were so lackluster that the end was welcome. The end of TAR 7 was so fulfilling and suspensful, I was hoped that this race would propel TAR to even greater races. Oh well.
The Amazing Race 9 is coming in February. Let's hope that the producers get back to good old fashion racing (you know where people do things, some people fall behind, some get ahead, etc.) If so I can put this sorry race to the far reaches of my mind.
I've never supported the death penalty for the plain fact that it is impossible to support it. Here are my beliefs re:the death penalty and why it needs to be abolished.
- If someone close to me were to be murdered - I'm pretty sure I'd want those responsible to be wiped off this planet. Maybe I would have the strength to forgive - but if I didn't it probably would be understood that my response was emotional. This would be a base, human response. I've always thought that the government should be in the business of negating the base responses of it's people. The government does this all the time - for example, most people would rather not pay taxes (base human response), but the government collects them anyway. I want my leaders to be rational; doing the right thing even if it is opposed to the popular thing.
- There are all sorts of arguments about the fairness of the death penalty and to me it boils down to this: if there is any subjectivity involved then there is always going to be room for bias. The only way to get rid of that bias is to give everyone that commits murder the death penalty - no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degrees - just death. No death penalty for the scary black man and then 20 to life for the cute mom who just had a bad day - death for both. That would make it fair wouldn't it?
- The justice system is inherently unjust. If you have the money to do so, you can make all sorts of charges disappear including murder. O.J. Simpson did. Claus Von Bulow too. Money buys the best defense and without money you get what you pay for.
- People make mistakes. I've made them, you've made them, but most importantly prosecutors, police, lawyers, and witnesses make them. The Innocence Project has successfully had 164 prisoners exonerated most often because of mistaken identity. And with the justice system loathe to admit mistakes, I am 100% certain that there have been innocent men and women executed. With the sometimes sad history of the justice system in this country - the fact that we continue to use a penalty for which there is no turning back from is amazing.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
What is the fascination with exact change? I never walk around with change - when I come home every evening, I empty whatever change I have into a jar, in 10 months I have $200 found money.
So here's a request - stop holding up the line trying to find rogue pennies.
(This post was written to a 70/30 seriousness-to-sarcasm scale)
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
P.S. Being that getting from Philly to Phoenix generally requires flying - my question is when did flying become so bargain basement? US (Sc)Air is essentially Greyhound with wings. They pack you in like sardines, don't give you food even on extended flights. I read some place where even pillows might become a thing of the past.
I don't know about you, but it worries me when airlines start pinching pennies (does this saying mean anything to those outside the U.S.?)
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I've been in a deep state of denial for 2 days now. The Eagles couldn't have lost that way. Two touchdowns in a 21 second span to lose the game. Here are my thoughts post the game:
- Anyone who knows me knows that I have gone out of my way to support Donovan McNabb. He's been treated shabbily by the fans in Philadelphia from the day he was drafted. That said, if he were to retire today his legacy would be one of throwing interceptions at the worst possible time. I can't continue to ignore this. He has gone from being the next incarnation of Brett Favre to being the next Vinny Testaverde. Here are examples of his bad timing
- Throwing an interception to end our last gasp versus St. Louis in the 2001 NFC Championship Game
- Throwing an interception to end another last gasp versus Tampa Bay in the 2002 NFC Championship Game
- Sunday Night football this year versus Washington throwing an interception to end the game while driving to win it
- And finally Monday night's interception versus the Cowboys where just holding on to the ball means you win the game
- Andy Reid made a gutless call to kick a field goal from the 3 to make the score 20-7. He should have run the ball 4 straight times and if they didn't get the TD, Dallas would have gotten the ball at no better than the 3 yard line. In a season where Tampa coach John Gruden and Kansas City Coach Dick Vermeil made decisions to go for winning touchdowns with no time left on the clock, Reid's decision here shows no confidence in either the defense or offense. Weak.
- Too many people are ignoring the Eagle's defense in assigning blame. Allowing the Cowboys to score in under 40 seconds by going into the "prevent" defense is the same thing that got former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator fired when his defense allowed the Eagles to convert a 4 and 26 and lose a playoff game as a result.
- Andy Reid needed to play coach and remove Donovan McNabb after the interception. If he hadn't gone back in, and Mike McMahon was given the ball with more time, they could have gone ahead. As it was, he gave Mcnabb one more drive when he was obviously hurt. Mcnabb is never going to pull himself from a game.
What in the world did we do to deserve this hell?
Monday, November 14, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Well now Pat Robertson has warned that Dover will suffer god's wrath for rejecting god from their town. A friend of mine said that Christians can be the least Christ-like people you'd want to meet. This is a great example.
On related note - I got a chuckle falling asleep to South Park last night and then waking up to find out that the 700 Club is on the same station in the morning. Seems like this station needs to pick a side. Anyway South Park is more intelligent that Pat Roberston on their worst day.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Here's the story:
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - A hand grenade being used instead of a ball in a game of catch exploded early on Saturday killing three youths in this Bosnian town, police and news agencies said.
Two youths aged 19 and 20, one of them from neighboring Croatia, were killed instantly while a 20-year-old woman died on her way to hospital, police said. Her sister was slightly injured but two other youths suffered serious injuries.
The blast occurred at 2:00 a.m. in the western town of Novi Grad at a place in the town center frequented by youngsters. Police said an inquiry was under way and declined further comment. It was not clear why the grenade exploded.
ONASA news agency quoted witnesses as saying the youths tossed the hand grenade to each other before it exploded in the hands of one of them.
Bosnia is awash with illegal weapons left over from the 1992-95 war and tragic incidents are frequent despite several successful campaigns by international peacekeepers and police to get people to hand over illegal weapons.
Click here to read on Yahoo
Monday, November 07, 2005
I really wanted to like this episode, if only because I like seeing people try new things from time to time, and a live episode always strikes me as intriguing.
In this regard, one reason for the "scrap-the-rules-let's-have-a-real-debate" thing (aside from whatever dramatic impact it is presumed to have) is to make the episode at least a little more visually interesting: it lets the characters interrupt each other, walk around the stage, etc. Can you imagine how boring this would have been if Smits and Alda had just stood at their podiums and given two-minute sound bites, per the original rules?
That said, I still found this pretty boring. My main complaint was that it did nothing to advance any story line in the show. You could re-watch the entire season, leaving this one out, and not skip a beat. I was waiting for one of the candidates to make The Major Gaffe That Changes The Course of the Campaign, or something like that...but no.
I have previously speculated that there is one team of writers for the campaign episodes and another for the White House episodes, and that the two do not seem to be in very close communication. Well, there must have been a third team for this episode. Last week there was a major campaign issue over abortion; right in the midst of this flap the candidates suddenly schedule a televised debate and the subject doesn't even come up??? Hello? Are any of the writers actually watching the show?
This is exactly how I felt. I was hoping something would happen that would actually have an impact on the storylines - but they didn't mention abortion, they didn't mention the CIA leak, etc. Watching paint dry. I stayed up to watch this after my Eagles got schlacked and then this disappointment.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
- Ambulance LTD
- Elliott Smith
- Johnny Cash
- The Rosebuds
- Mull Historical Society
- Franz Ferdinand
- Jennifer Trynin
- Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Friday, November 04, 2005
Ambulance LTD - LP - I have never heard of Ambulance LTD but this CD is awesome.
Bloc Party - EP - Two songs that fit right in
Calexico - Feast of Wire - I think I like this better than the Iron and Wine/Calexico CD released this year (an amazing CD in it's own right)
Matson Jones - Matson Jones - Kind of described in the Sleater-Kinney vein with no guitars just two cellos and a rhythm section
Mull Historical Society - Us - In the same vein as Arcade Fire or the Decemberists but I think more accessible
The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors - this is another best of 2005 CD. To me they remind me of a more accessible My Bloody Valentine with a touch of Pixies.
Spoon - Girls Can Tell - I think I like this better than their last two releases.
It's weird for me to go on a download spree like this and not make one mistake. In addition to sounding good - some of them are scary good.
And all of this is available on eMusic. Seriously. Click the banner to the left (I get paid apparently).
Four in five Republicans still back the president.
"I think he's done a wonderful job," said Gloria Bloecher, a Republican from Sherman, Texas. "He's done wonderful things for the economy. He rescued people who needed help in Iraq — it was the Christian thing to do. I still trust his people and the people he picks for the Supreme Court."
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (4 stars out of 5) - Sounds epic. Lush. Good for unwinding with headphones on.
Echo and the Bunnymen - Siberia (2 stars) - Sounds good but the lyrics are too simple and straightforward. Never listened to them and this cd isn't going to convince to go back and try more. (emusic)
Iron and Wine/Calexico - In the Reins (4 stars) - Short but sweet. Maybe a little too quiet at times but definitely one of the best of 2005. (emusic)
Kanye West - Late Registration (5 stars) - Oh Kanye - get a speech writer. But your CD is the shit and the best of the year.
A Girl Called Eddy - A Girl Called Eddy (1 star) - Boring. Someone who's opinion I trust recommended this because they remind him of Aimee Mann. Please. Aimee compositions are as interesting as her lyrics. Lyrics about love lost will probably put you to sleep unless the music accompanying works with the words.
Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (4 stars) - Some of the productions improve on Jon Brion's version. Some don't. If they had kept a couple of songs untouched, this cd would have rivaled 1999's When the Pawn... As it stands it has to settle for one of the best cds of 2005. A suggestion - pick up the Jon Brion version if you can - it makes for an interesting compare and contrast.
Speaking of Apple, I just purchased tickets to see her at the Tower Theater her in Philadelphia on December 8. $43 and a whopping $11 in Ticketmaster (ticketbastard) service charges. What a fucking rip-off. What a great business - no competition and no threat from the government because those that spend the most with you have no political clout.
The members of TWU 234 are holding the public hostage. Strikes should be aimed at hurting management and shareholders. With SEPTA the strike is aimed at hurting the riding public. And why are they striking? They want free health insurance. Most people I know pay for health insurance (at least here in the states). They say their health insurance isn't free - they have to pay co-pays - WHO DOESN'T? And then I see their workers hamming it up for news cameras when I'm stuck trying to get home. It's plain disgusting.
Now mind you SEPTA as an agency is not without blame. They are the most expensive transit agency in the country and yet their service is horrible. Breakdowns are common. Trains run on limited schedules. Much of their equipment is well past its prime.
It's time for the governor to step in, take the leverage used by holding the public hostage away, and force each side to negotiate.
"Tom DeLay conducts himself consistent with the highest standards of conduct and he mandated the same for his staff," Cullen said
Uhm - ok. How much is this guy getting paid?
I have written in this blog about the Pennsylvania legislature giving themselves an exorbitant raise and then skirting the state constitution by taking the raises early through unvouchered expenses. Well a funny thing happened. For 4 months the citizens of this good (not great) state pestered and cajoled until last night the entire raise was repealed.
Sometimes it's amazing that we can still have an effect when our representatives are reminded that they need us to keep their jobs.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Liberals, for their part, have a nominee with a documented record opposing some of the country's most popular legal principles. In his 15-year career as a judge, Alito has argued unsuccessfully for a law that required women to notify their spouses before they had an abortion. He ruled that the federal government does not have the right to regulate the sale of machine guns. He tried to limit the application of a federal law requiring employers to offer maternity, paternity and sick leave for their workers. He showed little sympathy for death row inmates who are denied effective lawyers. "Liberals are quietly delighted by a nominee who has the ability to unite all of the groups in opposition," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. "Not since Bob Bork have you had a nominee who has the ability to coalesce all these groups."
Monday, October 31, 2005
I am praying that this too blows up in Dubya's face - further damaging his party and his lame duck presidency. The best thing that could happen to the U.S. is George Bush becoming lame duck a year into his final term.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Our only hope is that he tries to go too far right and even the moderate republicans can't vote for the nominee.
One can hope.
(George Bush joke - kind of redundant isn't it?)
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE Who says a pilot isn't in control
George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are flying on Air Force
One. The President looks at the Vice President, chuckles, and says, "You
know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out the window right now and make
somebody very happy."
The Vice President shrugs and says, "Well, I could throw 10 $100 bills
out the window and make 10 people very happy."
Not to be outdone, the Secretary of Defense says, "Well, then, I could
throw 100 $10 bills out the window and make a hundred people very
The pilot rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, "Such arrogant asses
back there. Hell, I could throw the three of them out the window and
make 56 million people really happy."
Monday, October 24, 2005
Friday, October 21, 2005
Cell phone tips for the train:
- Put your phone on vibrate - I don't need to hear the polyphonic version of Livin' La Vida Loca
- Turn down your volume - hearing "Mommy wommy loves you" 28 times at top volume is enough to send anyone over the edge
- Keep it short - remember when cell phones came with 30 minutes a month? Act like it.
- Oh and I will come over the seat if you even think of using speakerphone.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I read a story about the Fox show Prison Break where the executive producer Paul Scheuring has the first two years mapped out. I am trusting that that is the same case for Lost.
$8.5 million a year doesn't go as far as I thought (I'll let you know after I win the Powerball tonight).
Apparently Harriet Meirs is a card carrying anti-abortionist. George Bush blindly moves forward with his agenda disregarding how our country feels. Someone in Congress needs to stand up to him. He is blatently attempting to inflict his views on us regardless of how we feel.
We did this to ourselves. Allowing the corrupt and righteous to take over this country is the fault of the voters.
(No word on the free Air Supply concert)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Just saying that no one should get excited until we actually hear her beliefs (assuming we ever do).
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Any ideas? Post your quotes as a comment.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I've had enough - Give me more!
Every month I download 90 songs from eMusic. I probably buy on average another 2-3 albums per month. Then there are the free MP3s you can get everywhere. I think I’ve reached my breaking point. I thought about the music that I had purchased over the past month and with over 7 albums worth, I had not one coherent thought about any of them. I have impressions, but no overwhelming feeling for them.
When Radiohead’s OK Computer was released in 1997 – it was a seminal moment for me and my music listening career (don't laugh - career is a good choice of words for it). To this day I believe it is the best album I have ever heard. The first time I heard it, I got goose bumps. I proceeded to play it so often that to this day it’s as familiar as my family or friends. It is one of the last great albums that for me that is an album and not a bunch of songs.
One day while walking through the city listening to Green Day's American Idiot I realized that it is as good an album as I had heard in years. A classic even. What surprised me is that it took me so long to figure this out. I had had the album for 10 months. I realized that the problem is that now listen to so much music, that it all doesn't have the impact that it once had. Music has become a commodity. Nothing is special anymore and goose bumps are rare.
Music critics often review a cd on one or two listens. That's where I am now. Every month I have 10-15 new albums in my queue. I realize now that I've probably missed some classic because I didn't give it enough time. Proof is when I thought about my top 20 favorite albums - 16 of them were produced prior to 1999. Now part of that is because that is when I was first discovering the music I now listen to, but I think the other part of it desensitization.
So a fleeting thought passed through my head - stop the influx. Yeah, that's a great idea. Stop the influx. But it's like crack - once you've had a taste - you can't go back. How did I live without 300+ cds at my disposal at any given moment.
A discman? 12 songs in my pocket? The dark ages.
Michael's voice was in rare form - last few times I've seen him weren't ideal conditions. This time - perfect. There were some welcome additions on this tour - first off Buddy Judge - Michael seemed much more at ease with Buddy on stage. Also a few great adds to the playlist such as Try and Bucket Brigade.
Michael on stage
Buddy Judge on stage
Michael singing an autograph
Michael, me and my girlfriend Kristen after the show
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
One of the first thing that hits you is the diversity of the casting. The producers, including Jerry Bruckheimer found a winning formula from the beginning, pulling on the diversity of the nation. What makes a couple? Man-woman? Man-man? Father-son? Siblings? Every year, they try to cast all the possibilities, knowing that each one provides a different dramatic energy to the show. Too many reality show contestants look and feel exactly the same.I've been watching The Amazing Race for 3 races now and the first thing that I saw immediately in the family edition or Amazing Race 8 is a total lack of diversity in the cast. 10 families from all across the United States and this is what I can tell by the Amazing Race - the U.S. is 90% white and 10% black. If you're not in this segment you apparently don't exist. Of course the black family is named "The Black Family" - I kid you not. It's actually a good thing they're gone because it was getting uncomfortable hearing the announcer saying "and here's the Black family". I won't even mention that 2 of the last 3 races were won by black couples. Maybe that's the problem?
For a show that could have a broad definition of family the fact there are no lesbian, gay, Hispanic, Asian, middle eastern or anything else but white families is simply disappointing.
My first impression is that I miss some of the quirkiness of the original. This version seems to have a lot more going on in it - more instruments, sounds, effects. The original seemed simpler. It may just take me getting used to it.
One note - I downloaded the original, and paid for the release version; that's the way it should be.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tom Delay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe
I take great relish in saying to anyone that voted for George Bush and his band of thugs:
I TOLD YOU SO!
First the Michael Brown debacle, then the hijacking of the supreme court, and now this. I am too pessimistic to think that most Republicans will care that their representatives are so thuggish - but I can still smile and say:
I told you so.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
My friend Grace summed it up: "the enitre band of thugs known as Republicans is the biggest bunch of pussies I have ever seen"
Sunday, September 25, 2005
- Yahoo Messenger hasn't been updated in years. While AOL and MSN upgrade their product often for the Mac, Yahoo has abandoned the Mac version. None of the new features available on the Windows version are available on the Mac version: stealth settings, animated emoticons, launch player, environments, etc. None of these are available for Mac users. Hint: use the excellent IM client Adium as a replacement; it replaces MSN Messenger, AOL, Jabber, and others.
- Launchcast, Yahoo's music station only supports no Mac browsers. If Yahoo would provide support to mozilla browsers like Firefox it would cover up a lot of problems, but most of their products run only in Windows IE.
- With Stattracker for fantasy football, the new version only runs on Windows IE. All other users pay the same amount of money and get the "classic" version. (If you're not clear, classic means that Yahoo is too cheap to provide service to anyone else than windows owners).
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Jesus Christ folks. Where do you have to go that you can't wash your fucking hands for 20 seconds?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
That's when I realized the last week has played out like every script for pretty much every natural disaster movie ever. Idiot leader warned. Idiot leader ignores or doesn't pay enough attention to warning. Disaster and mayhem ensue.
Think about it - Day After Tomorrow: Dennis Quaid warns a very Cheney like Vice President about the changing world climate, to be ignored - everyone dies. Volcano: Anne Heche warns city officials that their city is about to be decimated by a volcano - again, the scientists win. Dante's Peak, you get the idea.
So next time you're watching a disaster movie and you say to yourselves "Our leaders aren't that stupid"...
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
One has to wonder if the terrorists have won? Because of 9/11 we have reduced our preparedness for natural disasters even though they are guaranteed to happen. More people will probably die from Hurricane Katrina than from the Twin Towers attack and a lot of those deaths may have been avoidable.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It is universally accepted that the United States, state of Lousiana, and city of New Orleans were not prepared for Katrina. While West put the blamed racism, I think that his assessment puts too much focus on race and not enough on class. I don't think that the govermnet let people die intentionally. I do think that the lack of preparation is because a poorer area like New Orleans does not get the attention or dollars needed to solve the problems that ail them. We knew this would happen some day but no one did a thing. Don't tell me there wasn't money. The government decided to spend its money elsewhere. Elsewhere means places like Alaska where $941 million in pet highway projects such as a mile- long bridge serving 50 residents and costing $223 million. What would that money have done forthe Levee situation in Lousiana?
The rich can pick up the phone and demand that something be done. They can actually reach their congressmen and senators and get a response; poor people can't do this and therefore rely on their local representatives to demand their fare share.
Part of the problem are the assumptions that were made prior to the hurricane. The city was evacuated; every man and woman for themselves, but if you're poor and don't own a car how do you leave? And once you leave, where do you go? How do you afford it? There have been stories of price gouging by hotels as well as the gas prices doing what they've done. How can the poor afford it? Those of us that make a living wage don't concern ourselves with these types of issues.
My point is that every government dollar we waste in this country on fabulous sports stadiums, keeping military bases open that aren't needed, raising politician salaries is a dollar that is taken away from the people that need the money the most.
Kanye West sounded like a madman. Because of this, I fear that the point he was trying to make will be dismissed. It shouldn't be lost. We as a country failed these people. They were forgotten and we could have done better. We had a choice and the question is why didn't we make the correct one?
Friday, September 02, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
How come every local news report has to have the local spin of the hurricane? "How will it affect our weather?" or local people trapped type of coverage. Are we so self-absorbed that we cannot comprehend human tragedy and suffering without it directly relating to ourselves? This is why I can't stand the local news in the United States (I'm assuming that elsewhere it's better, but who cares - here it stinks). They are not worried about the news just the ratings, and all their stories are designed to grab ratings.
If you do decide to watch the local news - you will surely see stories about the gas prices and the spike. (Again, we must do stories on how it affects everyone else). I am disgusted with speculation and profiteering. The stories say that the oil companies are "worried"; this is corporate speak for "time to make more money". Nothing sells like crisis and fear especially in corporate America. The cost of gas that is currently at your gas station shouldn't cost anymore than it did yesterday but yet the cost did go up drastically overnight as if it is pumped directly from New Orleans . I'm sure there is a relationship, but for gas that will get to our pumps in a month. Of course this is true about all of gas prices ever since 9/11. The oil companies have found the best marketing tool ever.
All this takes away though from what everyone in the affected area is experiencing. The man to the left is not upset at the loss of life in the south - no he's angry at the loss of dollars in his account. (I love seeing the pictures of the angry stock traders in their $1,000 suits until I realize that their only recourse to replace the money lost this week is to screw the normal person).
How about this? If the extra money that is being charged this week finds its way to the people that have lost their lives, homes, possessions, or jobs - I won't complain. Something tells me that isn't going to happen.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
by Michael Crowley
Post date: 08.24.05
Issue date: 09.05.05
ince the dawn of rock, there have been individuals, usually young men, of argumentative tendencies who have lorded their encyclopedic musical knowledge over others." So states the introduction of the recent Rock Snob's Dictionary, compiled by David Kamp and Steven Daly. I like to believe I'm not the insufferable dweeb suggested by this definition. Certainly, much of the dictionary's obscure trivia (former Television bassist Richard Hell is now a novelist; Norwegian death metal stars actually murder one another) is news to me. But I do place an unusual, perhaps irrational, value on rock music. I take considerable pride in my huge collection and carefully refined taste. And I consider bad rock taste--or, worse, no rock taste at all--clear evidence of a fallow soul. I am, in other words, a certified Rock Snob. But I fear that Rock Snobs are in grave danger. We are being ruined by the iPod.
While the term "Rock Snob" has a pejorative ring, the label also implies real social advantages. The Rock Snob presides as a musical wise man to whom friends and relatives turn for opinions and recommendations; he can judiciously distribute access to various rare and exotic prizes in his collection. "Oh my God, where did you find this?" are a Rock Snob's favorite words to hear. His highest calling is the creation of lovingly compiled mix CDs designed to dazzle their recipients with a blend of erudition, obscurity, and pure melodic dolomite. Recently, I unearthed a little-known cover of the gentle Gram Parsons country classic "Hickory Wind," bellowed out by Bob Mould and Vic Chestnutt, which moved two different friends to tears. It was Rock Snob bliss.
In some ways, then, the iPod revolution is a Rock Snob's dream. Now, nearly all rock music is easily and almost instantly attainable, either via our friends' computers or through online file-sharing networks. "Music swapping" on a mass scale allows my music collection to grow larger and faster than I'd ever imagined. And I can now summon any rare track from the online ether.
But there's a dark side to the iPod era. Snobbery subsists on exclusivity. And the ownership of a huge and eclectic music collection has become ordinary. Thanks to the iPod, and digital music generally, anyone can milk various friends, acquaintances, and the Internet to quickly build a glorious 10,000-song collection. Adding insult to injury, this process often comes directly at the Rock Snob's expense. We are suddenly plagued by musical parasites. For instance, a friend of middling taste recently leeched 700 songs from my computer. He offered his own library in return, but it wasn't much. Never mind my vague sense that he should pay me some money. In Rock Snob terms, I was a Boston Brahmin and he was a Beverly Hillbilly--one who certainly hadn't earned that highly obscure album of AC/DC songs performed as tender acoustic ballads but was sure to go bragging to all his friends about it. Even worse was the girlfriend to whom I gave an iPod. She promptly plugged it into my computer and was soon holding in her hand a duplicate version of my 5,000-song library--a library that had taken some 20 years, thousands of dollars, and about as many hours to accumulate. She'd downloaded it all within five minutes. And, a few months later, she was gone, taking my intimate musical DNA with her.
I'm not alone in these frustrations. "Even for a recovering Rock Snob, such as myself," Steven Daly told me, "it's a little disturbing to hear a civilian music fan boast that he has the complete set of Trojan reggae box-sets on his iPod sitting alongside 9,000 other tracks that he probably neither needs nor deserves." It's true: Even if music leeches don't fully appreciate, or even listen to, some of the gems they so effortlessly acquire, we resent them anyway. One friend even confessed to me in an e-mail that "I have been known to strip the iTunes song information off mix CDs just to keep the Knowledge secret."
But resistance is futile. Even the Rock Snob's habitat, the record shop, is under siege. Say farewell to places like Championship Vinyl, the archetypal record store featured in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. "The shop smells of stale smoke, damp, and plastic dust-covers, and it's narrow and dingy and overcrowded, partly because that's what I wanted--this is what record shops should look like," explains Hornby's proprietor, Rob. Like great used bookstores, the Championship Vinyls of the world are destinations where the browsing and people-watching is half the fun. (A certain kind of young man will forever cling to the fantasy of meeting his soul mate as they simultaneously reach for the same early-era Superchunk disc.) Equally gratifying is the hunt for elusive albums in a store's musty bins, a quest that demands time, persistence, and cunning, and whose serendipitous payoffs are nearly as rewarding as the music itself. Speaking of book-collecting, the philosopher Walter Benjamin spoke of "the thrill of acquisition." But, when everything's instantly available online, the thrill is gone.
Benjamin also savored the physical element of building a collection--gazing at his trophies, reminiscing about where he acquired them, unfurling memories from his ownership. "The most profound enchantment for the collector is the locking of individual items within a magic circle in which they are fixed," he said. But there's nothing magic about a formless digital file. I even find myself nostalgic for the tape-trading culture of Grateful Dead fans--generally scorned in the Rock Snob world--who used to drive for hours in their VW vans to swap bootleg concert tapes. My older brother still has a set of bootleg tapes he copied from a friend some 20 years ago during a California bike trip. Having survived global travels from Thailand to Mexico, the tapes have acquired an almost totemic quality in his mind. I feel the same way about certain old CDs, whose cases have become pleasantly scuffed and weathered during travels through multiple dorm rooms and city apartments but still smile out at me from their shelves like old friends. Soon our collections will be all ones and zeroes stored deep in hard drives, instantly transferable and completely unsatisfying as possessions. And we Rock Snobs will have become as obsolete as CDs themselves.Michael Crowley is a senior editor at TNR.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
It's about time that baseball address the serious backroom milk chugging going on in its league.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Bob Mould - Body of Song (3 out 5) Kind of an incomplete CD for me. Some of the songs work well, where too many fall flat. Some of the songs are just too produced. That said - still some killer songs. (emusic)
John Doe - Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (3.5 stars) I'm not familiar with Doe's work from X so forgive me. This CD was a pleasant surprise. Lots of great guest appearances (Neko Case and Kristin Hersh among others). Bluesy and rocking. (emusic)
Juliana Hatfield - Made In China (TBD) Just got this one. (emusic)
Laura Cantrall - Humming by the Flowered Vine (1 star) I'm still trying to give this one more of a chance. But I keep falling asleep. (emusic)
Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright (TBD) So far so good (iTunes)
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (2 stars) - Well it's not horrible...
New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (5 stars) - This could change as I just got this yesterday. But it's one of those rare cds that hits it right away. I have yet to hear a bad song and most are just fucking awesome. (emusic)
Surfjan Stevens - Illinoise (4 stars) - Another rating that could change. I need to sit and listen to this one. But I'm very impressed so far. (emusic)
Sundayrunners - Sundayrunners (3.5 stars) - I want to give it more, but I need to listen more. They remind me of Turin Brakes. The songs are very catchy - I hope not too much so. Ask me again in a month.
The Von Bondies - Lack of Communication (4 stars) - So much better than the White Stripes. Maybe that's why Jack White kicked lead singer Jason Stollsteimer's ass. Fun, old school, bluesy rock. (emusic)
As you can see, a very good month for eMusic. The New Pornographers, Surfjan Stevens, and Von Bondies cds would be worth signing up for. If you click the banner to the left and do so, I get paid. No pressure, but I haven't bought shoes in weeks.
Of course we elect the village idiot as president if we listen respect and listen to the court jester.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
(Apply these comments to the death penalty)
What made me decide to write this at this point was a recent article about a woman who is being sued by the RIAA for downloads made through her ISP account. The woman states that neither her nor her children set up the KaZaA account through which songs were being shared but rather by a visiting friend . The RIAA has a policy that regardless of the transgressor, it is the owner of the ISP that is responsible – and this policy is apparently no questions asked. They basically bully these people into submission even though they don't have a case. Aren't there bigger problems in this world to deal with other than people stealing copies of R. Kelley's Trapped in the Closet?
Since the RIAA’s position on digital music is so extreme at times they’ve essentially made everyone Robin Hood to their Sheriff of Nottingham. (Before you start thinking yourself as Robin Hood – taking music to fill your $300 iPod does not make you Robin Hood, it makes you a thief). It wasn’t until recently that the RIAA even agreed that it is legal to copy CD’s that you’ve purchased to your own digital devices. It is near impossible to comply to the rules so why not just ignore them all together?
The labels aren’t any better. A bunch of fat, rich, men who complain about the money that they aren’t making – even though they continue to make money, just not enough of it. The labels eventual solution will be to copy-protect everything (as they did with the Foo-Fighters recent cd). This only treats the actual buyer as a criminal.
The good thing is that the longer the RIAA fights against technology - the more irrelavent they become. Every week there's something new more advanced. The more unreasonable they are, the more they are ignored.
Isn't it about time the RIAA and the labels decide to figure out a way to actually co-exist with technology?
Monday, August 22, 2005
- Is it weird for a 29 year-old man to be so wrapped into a 12 year-old character? I mean, once I learned how old he was, I started to think he was less funny and more creepy.
- How is this show 30 minutes long? At about 4 minutes, I'm wondering if a another episode of Hogan Knows Best is on VH1.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I have to say that I am a bit annoyed that it seems as if original producer Jon Brion was thrown under the bus by Apple. For all the work he did on this album and the previous cd - he deserves more loyalty. Anyway, she tends to be a bit freaky.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
My post about stealing music has led to a lot of conversation and what I'm realizing is that I'm the only one that really believes I should pay for music. What's worse is that it's to the point where I look silly for buying music. My post was really about the ethics and morality of the issue as opposed to any belief that the theft is justified because the music industry on a whole is unsympathetic (they are).
The woman I sit next to at work said "ethics are so 90's". Our sense of morality and ethics are so flexible as to serve no true purpose. Everything can be explained away so that we can sleep at night.
What is scary is where we will be 5, 10, 20 years from now?
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I do think that the ability to listen to a cd prior to purchasing is a great thing, so if copying is done for that reason, awesome. But too many people never purchase a cd - ever. Some are proud of this. If you chose to do this, that's cool - but don't fool yourself into saying you're fighting the establishment or some other bullshit argument; it's theft, pure and simple.
At this same congressional hearing Baltimore Oriole first baseman Rafael Palmeiro defiantly told congress that he had never taken performance enhancing drugs "period". The same media and baseball fans pointed to Palmeiro's testimony as a shining example of what McGwire should have said. This past week Palmeiro was suspended when steriods were found in his system. I'm pretty sure that Palmeiro didn't come up with the idea to take steroids all of a sudden in the past month at the age of 40. It is likely that he lied to us in March. Big surprise.
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Our culture is one that prefers and expects a good lie when cornered. My girlfriend always says it's basically the idea of "respect me enough to lie to me". This is wrong. If someone decides that to avoid lying, it's best to not speak at all, we should respect that decision.
I have no proof that Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, and Rafael Palmeiro didn't lie on that day in March, but I know for a fact that Mark McGwire didn't. While McGwire didn't deserve praise for what he did, at least he deserved our respect.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The bonus disc is entitled Cinemascope -- A Sampler of Incidental Music Recorded for the Screen in Stereo.
1. Down By The Riverside
3. Girls Go
4. Harry Called
5. Pool Ballet
8. Nice Turkey
Tracks 1,6, and 9 from the film "The Comedians of Comedy"
Tracks 2,3,7,8, and 10 from th film "Melvin Goes to Dinner"
Tracks 4 and 5 from the film "The Anniversary Party"
Michael Penn's light, heavy rock
By Scott Galupo
August 2, 2005
Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947
The first scene in "Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947," Michael Penn's sketch of a concept album, is of a G.I. returning home from World War II, weary, defeated and dislocated: "I'm the walking wounded/I'd say it to your face/but I can't find my place," Mr. Penn sings in "Walter Reed," named for the famous Army hospital (soon to go on the chopping block in the next round of military base closures).
The soldier's lament might as well be Mr. Penn's, though to a far less life-threatening extent. The singer-songwriter is both a one-hit wonder ("No Myth," from 1989's "March") and, for a small but devoted following, a continual favorite and an industry veteran. Yet this brother of a famous actor (Sean) and husband of a more successful singer-songwriter (Aimee Mann) has had trouble staying on his feet in the music business, trading blows with a major label that, he said, refused to free him from a contract while also prohibiting him from putting out new music.
Taking a page out of Miss Mann's do-it-yourself playbook, Mr. Penn formed his own imprint, Mimeograph Records, for the release of "Mr. Hollywood," his first LP in five years. It's a typically crafty and modestly successful work from Mr. Penn, who continues in the vein of Beatles pop-rock and Dylan-style intellectualism.
Don't let the "concept album" bugaboo scare you: Most of the songs here are personal meditations or story-song narratives; politics and history are kept abstractly on the margins. For instance, it takes some effort to trace the steps of the song "18 September," a minute-and-a-half of aquatic noise and engine hum. A scan of Mr. Penn's breezy liner notes and a Google search reveals Sept. 18 as the date of the passage of the National Security Act and the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947. That task having been completed, it takes a left-leaning disposition to take this for something ominous.
Mr. Penn sees 1947 as a very important year for all sorts of cultural-historical reasons, some of them sinister. There's the partitioning of Palestine, the double-super-secret mind-control experiments of Project Paperclip and the Hollywood blacklist, which ensnared Mr. Penn's father, the actor-director Leo Penn.
On a lighter note, Mr. Penn pays tribute to the invention of the transistor radio in another brief instrumental, "The Transistor," a bright, tense piece of string music that Mr. Penn may have pocketed from one of his movie scores. The final concept-y interlude, "The Television Set Waltz," heralds the arrival of TV broadcasting on the West Coast.
Basically, the Smithsonian stuff has nothing to do with the meat of the album -- yearning, literate folk-pop tunes such as "Pretending," "A Bad Sign," "O.K." and "(P.S.) Millionaire" and thumping, mid-tempo rock fare such as "Room 712, the Apache" and "On Automatic," on which the customarily distressed Mr. Penn allows that "things are looking up in the meantime."
The latter song is a sweet reward to the listener, who, if he's a fan of Mr. Penn's, has had to wait half a decade for 10 proper pop songs littered loosely inside a schema that tries to blend popular history with conspiratorial gravity.
"Mr. Hollywood" is either the most subtly intelligent work of 2005 or the sign of a singer-songwriter with too much time on his hands.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
I usually only read on my train ride into and back from the office, but I have to finish this book this weekend.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Well some lawmakers decided to oppose the pay raise because apparently being a slimy good for nothing thief is not a requirement for being in the General Assembly. Some have decided to forgo the raise even. Well House Minority leader stripped 15 Democrats of leadership positions last week - and yes, all 15 voted against the raise.
Must be nice to control your paycheck and any criticism of it. I'll be calling my reps on Monday - if you want to find out more check the following links:
Philadelphia Inquirer Article
Pennsylvania Clean Sweep
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
The Island is this year's Speed - fun, loud, cute stars and all that good stuff; mindless entertainment. A friend of mine complained that it was silly - well it wasn't supposed to be an Oscar contender. This is faint praise, but this was Michael Bay's best movie (of course Armageddon is among my all-time most hated films).
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Man-Made - Teenage Fanclub
Live at Noe Valley Ministry - Kristin Hersh - really good show, she was in rare form (I was there). This is an official bootleg on emusic to make it even better
Shake the Sheets - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Going Somewhere - Colin Hay
Wherever you are - David Mead
Ex Hex - Mary Timoney
Love is Red - David Poe
What Became of the Libertines - The Libertines
I really like the David Mead cd otherwise nothing earth shattering this month. (that is asides from the new Harry Potter!)
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Santorum goes after working mothers for leaving the home (radical feminists made them do it), defends the home-schooling of his children by calling public education an "aberration," and places blame for the manifold ills of the world squarely at the feet of... guess who? Yep, the Liberals.
Liberals favor "no-fault freedom," Santorum writes. In turn, this has led to "the debasement of women, mental illness, and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, causing infertility, cancer, even death."
I believe in plain old freedom. Everything comes with a cost and guess what, so does freedom. The implication with all this is that free will is evil, and what is scary is what Rick Sanctimonious would have as an alternative.
And a great closing line:
Santorum's people have a stock response to criticism of his wilder comments: Rick is an honest, bright guy who speaks his mind. So there.
I agree. Judging from his recent comments, I'd say that Rick Santorum has one of the finest minds of the 13th century.