Friday, December 30, 2005

The Fox is guarding the hen house

At one point early on in The West Wing John Spencer's character Leo McGarry was outed as a recovering alcoholic to the press. When the intern that leaked the information attempts to resign Leo refuses to accept it and tells her that she was doing what she thought was right. (I don't remember this episode, but I've been told about it - so pardon if my retelling is off).

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

Home for the holidays

I had to wonder why every year I seem to like New Year's Eve more than Christmas and last night I figured out why - New Year's Eve is for friends and Christmas is for family. As much as I beat myself up for not spending enough time with them, last night I was reminded why that is.

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

Best Albums of 2005

What better reason to have a blog than to create 2005 Best of Lists? Note Coldplay’s X&Y is left off because they refuse to get better. It’s not that the CD isn’t a good CD – it is. It’s that there are too many bands doing what they do and doing it better. I’ve included 4 of them on my list below.

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema – From the first song this is the catchiest CD of the year. Careful – hooks all over the place.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. The Decemberists – Picaresque – Quirky and excellent. I heard this album in January and it has sort of faded for me – still a standout.

  15. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm – Another 80’s sounding band. Not the bad 80’s stuff. Good and catchy.

  16. Adam Richman - Patience and Science – Infectious. Maybe not the most substantial release of the year, but fun to listen to.

  17. Sundayrunners – Sundayrunners – No one talks about this CD at all and that makes me think they need better marketing. Call me.

Working can get you fired

Great article on Yahoo about a Chicago workplace consultancy that has put together a list of workplace horrors. In a year when my former employer fired my friend Ryan without warning for comments he made on his blog. I'm glad to see that there are people out there willing to call out idiotic management decisions.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Snack attack Motherf@$&%er

If you haven't seen the SNL music video Lazy Sunday starring Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg then please do yourself a favor and watch it. This may be the funniest video this year.

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

Sad commentary

Yesterday I loved the intelligent design ruling that came down during the day and couldn't wait to turn on the news to hear more - the fake news that is, the Daily Show. How disappointed was I that it was a repeat? It's telling that the best commentary comes from a fake news source.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Eugene Levy bites it too?

I like Eugene Levy. He was brilliant in A Mighty Wind and I even liked in the first American Pie. But he consistently in the worst movies - as mentioned before Cheaper by the Dozen 1 and 2, The Man, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd and maybe the worst of them all - Bringing Down the House. So why am I surprised to see him in American Pie Presents: Band Camp? Straight to DVD is always a good sign for a movie.

Well he's laughing - all the way to the bank in his Mercedes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

RIP: John Spencer and Richard Prior

So sad to hear John Spencer of The West Wing passed away today. At 58 he was way too young. He was always a favorite actor of mine from his days on LA Law. I was looking forward to Vice President McGary. I wonder how they will address it.

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.

Fiona Apple in Philly (Tower Theater)

Last week Friday I was luck to see Fiona Apple at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. She ran through most if not all of the songs from Extraordinary Machine and When the Pawn... and the hits from her debut Tidal. I love the fact that there all these young people there listening to what has to be considered a throwback singer. It's almost as if she's a jazz singer but not quite.

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.

For Sale: Xbox 360 - $19,000

I wonder if anyone would buy it?

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.

Friggin morons.

Steve Martin blows the big one

I've railed about the fact that it seems that every movie made is a sequel, tv show redux, or a book made into a movie. The original screenplay is a lost art. Case in point - Cheaper by the Dozen 2 - this movie apparently sucked the big one - still there's a sequel? How many bad movies do Steve Martin and Eugene Levy have to make? These fuckers are making movies just for the check.

How about having a modicum of self-respect guys.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Amazing Race: Family Edition over - THANK GOD!

In the words of the Weavers - THANK THE LORD! (those that watch The Amazing Race understand).

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.

Justice vs. Vengeance

First off I won't argue that Stanley "Tookie" Williams was redeemed, evil, or any point in between. That is not my point here. I don't know whether or not he did what he was convicted of. I don't know if he deserved clemency. I'm not even sure what guidelines there are (or if there even are guidelines) to grant clemency.

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.
It's a shame that our country aims to be a beacon to the rest of the world but can be so far outside the accepted practices of a civilized society. We argue against China's human rights abuses. Invade Iraq to remove a rogue dictator from leadership. But when it comes to our own policies we don't have the strength or guts to end the unjustness of the 19th century system we employ.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Really Bad Santa Banner

A friend sent me this banner for busted tees. It's profane and probably sacrilegious - and funny in a very, very bad way. I laugh knowing a lump of coal is coming.

(I only report the news, I don't make it)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Things I don't understand about women #12,659

So today I decided to buy a pretzel, I'm 3rd in line, and the woman at the front is paying her $2.08 but is holding up the line to find that 8 cents exact change. In the time it took her to find the exact change, the cashier rang up the 2nd person and myself.

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

The loss of privacy

Nothing is more scary that corporate america having access to every piece of info on you as the following video from the ACLU shows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Sorry about the extended absence. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my girlfriend's parents in Phoenix (mid-70 degree temps as opposed to mid-30's). Phoenix's slogan: A strip mall on every block. I couldn't live in Phoenix for the simple fact that everything looks the same. Thank god the streets are numbered or else it would be way to easy to get lost.

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.?)

No confidence

You've got to love a country where the leaders can be voted out by a no confidence vote. How can we get a parlimentary style government here in the U.S. My Canadien friends: I envy you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What hell am I in? Eagles vs. Cowboys hell

Very rarely do I give in to my urge to post about sports. I did not post about the Terrell Owens situation. I didn't post about my beloved but enigmatic Phillies missing the playoffs yet again. I haven't even posted about the Sixers and their five game winning streak. Monday night's football was just too much for me to ignore.

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.
I could go on forever on this. The game on Monday is about the most devastated a regular season game has ever left me. It put a nail in the coffin on the Eagles' season which means another team season without a championship for Philadelphia. This makes 88 team seasons without a championship.

What in the world did we do to deserve this hell?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Top Artists of the week - 11/13/2005

My top 10 artists for the week of 11/6-13

  1. Michael Penn
  2. Calexico
  3. Sufjan Stevens
  4. Broken Social Scene
  5. Mull Historical Society
  6. The Rosebuds
  7. Ambulance LTD
  8. Franz Ferdinand
  9. Danger Doom
  10. Spoon
Compiled by Audioscrobbler

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The comic stylings of Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson is at it again. If you haven't heard - Dover, PA, the town that has made news because of its "Intelligent Design" addition to science classes, voted out 8 of the 9 school board members that supported the addition.

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.

A picture worth 1000 words

I promised Merujo that I'd post this picture. It's at the Metroplex in Conshy and if you can't tell why it's funny - read it out loud.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Grenades do what?

There used to be a Darwin Awards email that would make the rounds every year and this has got to be a leading candidate this year. My favorite part and quote of the year winner "It was not clear why the grenade exploded." Uhm - it's a fucking grenade - I'm just guessing that that is what they are designed to do. Also when I hear 2 youths I'm thinking 8 or 9 years old; at 19 and 20 maybe it should have said "Two morons aged 19 and 20..." As my mom would say "They should have known better"

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

West Wing "The Debate"

I just read this post on Television Without Pity and to a tee it sums up my thoughts about last night's West Wing episode:

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

Top Artists of the week

Here are the top 10 artists of my last week as tabulated by a cool little program called Audioscrobbler.
  1. Ambulance LTD
  2. Elliott Smith
  3. Spoon
  4. Johnny Cash
  5. The Rosebuds
  6. Calexico
  7. Mull Historical Society
  8. Franz Ferdinand
  9. Jennifer Trynin
  10. Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Friday, November 04, 2005

Amazing new November 2005 Playlist

So yesterday I was putzing around eMusic and downloaded the best sounding playlist I've heard in awhile. All of the music sounds so good together and one of the cd's is among the best I've heard this year.

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).

Proof that Republicans are blind and Texans dumb

A quote from jesusland and an article on Dubya's poor approval ratings:

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

New Music October 2005

From Spencer's iPod, here are some of the highlights of the last few months. I go through so much music monthly that it's hard to keep track. So here a few I like and a couple I don't.

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.

What exactly is Plan C?

Public transit in Philadelphia has a plan A and plan b. Plan A would be subways, trolleys, and buses - all on strike. Plan B would be the regional rail system since their workers belong to a different union. Well tonight was the worse case scenario - the regional rails suffered a power outage at rush hour. And to answer the question, there is no plan C.

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.

Another quote of the year candidate

This is a recent quote from Tom Delay's attorney in reference to the Abramoff scandal.

"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?

Pennsylvania Legislature sees the light

And that light was unemployment if they didn't change their ways.

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

Scarlito's way

More on Judge Samuel Alito from an article in Salon Magazine

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

Thank you very much can I have another?

Here we go - Samuel Alito is the new Supreme Court nominee and I told you so. He is so much like Antoine Scalia that he is referred to as "Scalito".

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

We'll miss you Harriet

So now Harriet Miers is gone and let me say that the only reason democrats should be happy is that this is another example of the poor decision making of this administration but we can't get too happy because whomever Bushy picks to replace Miers will be worse.

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 of the day

(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

Harry Potter - Goblet of Radiohead

I can't believe I'm about to say this - but I actually might want the Harry Potter soundtrack. Members of Radiohead appear in the movie on the soundtrack.

I tell everyone what to do

Apparently a market research study found that I am the most likely to create and spread computer generated media over the web. (This article may apply to iPod owners in general).

Never realized how common I am.

"A Million Ways" video

Saw this video for the band OK Go on Best Week Ever and loved it. Worth the bandwidth to watch.

Play the video in Window Media

Play the video in Quicktime

(or just go to the OK Go Website)

My 100th post

What a worthy way to use my 100th post but to wish a Happy 30th birthday to my girlfriend Kristen.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I want it that way - video

Two chinese students doing their take on the Backstreet Boys "I want it that way". This is funny as all hell.

Click here for video

What ever happened to an inside voice?

So yesterday I had to go up to New York City for work and I forgot my ipod in my car. No big deal - I could sleep on the way up and on the way back work. I never realized how necessary to my sanity my ipod is on Amtrak. I can't believe how many people are talking on their phones. Now I don't really mind that too much - people have work to do. BUT there was one woman behind me that talked and laughed at top volume for half the trip. Who does this? What ever happened to someone having an "inside voice"? And being that I could hear her entire conversation, I know that what she had to say of importance should have lasted 2 minutes - no longer. I pictured the person on the other end clawing their eyes out.

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.
And for those of us that are overly sensitive to this - bring your ipod.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lost without Lost

Three weeks until another Lost? Dang it. Not sure what I learned from tonight's Lost, but they're now using promos like ER - "The one episode that everyone will be talking about".

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.

Three weeks.

Homeless on $8.5 million a year

So a week ago I was wondering what would be the quote of the year. Thought that George Bush might have it locked up until today. The NBA recently instituted a dress code. Not a bad dress code - no ties or button down shirts - just no hip-hop clothing for team business. Makes sense. Of course the prima donna basketball players have no understanding of reality. Even so - watch out Brownie, the following quote by Denver Nuggets forward Marcus Camby is going to the top of the list. In response to the dress code Camby said: "I don't see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes,''
$8.5 million a year doesn't go as far as I thought (I'll let you know after I win the Powerball tonight).

More on Harriet Miers

What did I say?

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.

The Roots - free concert in Philadelphia

Tomorrow night the Roots will play a free concert here in Philly. Also on the bill is Fishbone (apparently they're still around). If you're interested click here to get a ticket. If you're simply in town and not interested I would suggest avoiding the city hall area.

(No word on the free Air Supply concert)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How desperate do you have to be

This is a French "sex worker" protesting the criminalization of the sex industry and for equal rights.

All right. OK. No comment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A thought on Harriet Miers

We all know how shrewd the republicans are. And I hate to be Oliver Stone on this but couldn't all of this republican criticism be a ruse? Seriously - so many democrats like her simply because the republicans don't. Wouldn't it be a smart strategy to bring in a staunch anti-abortion candidate and then convince your allies to attack her hoping that the conservative attack itself convinces democrats to vote for her?

Just saying that no one should get excited until we actually hear her beliefs (assuming we ever do).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Quote of the year

So I was wondering what the quote of the year might be. I've loved the P-diddy quote where he said that he was simply going to be called diddy "because the 'P' was getting between me and my fans." But will there be a better quote than "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."?

Any ideas? Post your quotes as a comment.

Virtual voodoo doll

Here's a shout out to the fucker that took my umbrella from the umbrella stand on Saturday night. I'm sure you figured "Hey - I forgot my umbrella, who's to know if I take someone elses?" Assclown. I guess I could have taken someone elses - but then I couldn't complain.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My Peanut's character

Here's my Peanut's character. Is it me or does Schroeder look like Chris Martin?

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, October 06, 2005

1,000 songs in your pocket

Oh what the iPod has done. 1,000 songs in your pocket (or in my case 3,300 and counting) seemed like such a great thing - and it is, but it has permanently changed the way I listen to and how much I enjoy music.

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 Penn in Philadelphia

Michael Penn played the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia this past Monday, October 3rd. Here are a few pics from the night...

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

The Amazing Race: Family Edition

The following is from an article previewing The Amazing Race: Family Edition:

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.

Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine

Since I had a bootleg of the original version of Fiona Apple's recently released Extraordinary Machine, I anticipated listening to the two together. I have only listened to the album once but I can say this - the two versions are very different. The same songs - just produced with a different hand.

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

"Next blog" of the week

I can't believe I hit the next blog button and got an actual blog (no porn or insurance site). Check out the site for Little Levi Fox and his proud parents.

Friday, September 30, 2005


What a great movie. I've never seen the TV show (Firefly) and I didn't miss a beat watching the movie. It is everything a movie like this should be: fun and action packed, funny, and believe it or not - smart. A lot of movies in this genre try too hard and get bogged down in mindless drivel (Star Wars) but Joss Whedon does a good job keeping it simple. And for anyone that misses Buffy you should see this movie. Whedon threw in a kick-ass Buffy-like scene just for us.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

When creatives attack

This is what happens when the creatives get ahold of your picture:

Bush letter to Kanye West

Dubya is attempting to make up with Kanye.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The best day ever

I'm sorry for this blog being so political at times. My new music review is coming soon, BUT - as my girlfriend said, it's like Christmas in July.

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:


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

Michael Brown: "hey, maybe it's OJ's fault"

So today Michael Brown blamed the governor, mayor, media, Office of Homeland Security, Santa Claus, and a variety of corpses for the failures of the government post Hurricane Katrina. Now yes, he is technically correct that there is blame to go all around, but what kind of leader steps in, says " I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it" and then proceeds to lay blame at others feet. He's a Bush style leader - it's never your fault even in view of overwhelming evidence otherwise. Brown: "My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown said. What a fucking cop-out - that's how you answer interview questions: "My biggest fault is working to hard."

My friend Grace summed it up: "the enitre band of thugs known as Republicans is the biggest bunch of pussies I have ever seen"

George Bush is the Lord of War

Funny picture of a billboard at Mission and Duboce in San Fransisco. Saw this on Adrants.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Macintosh and Yahoo (mac owners get the shaft)

Yahoo and Google are all that's left of the portal wars of the late 90's. I use Yahoo all the time because of its breadth of service. There is almost nothing online that Yahoo doesn't provide. It galls me that they don't pay any attention to Mac owners. How do they hate us? Let me count the ways:

  • 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).
You would think that Yahoo would go a long way to provide cross-platform support since it chips away at an advantage that Microsoft has. I'm not asking that Yahoo do as much for mac users as they do for windows owners, but they have a long way to go to be considered mac-friendly. By simply providing support to Firefox for all of their features, mac owners would be able to access more features.

Friday, September 23, 2005

We can all sleep now

Tyra Banks' breasts are real! Now we can all turn back to coverage of the supreme court votes and Hurricane Rita.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


So yes - I'm one of those that opens public bathroom doors with a paper towel. After reading this post about a study into how many people wash their hands - 25% of men don't. It's the simpliest step to staying healthy the article says.

Jesus Christ folks. Where do you have to go that you can't wash your fucking hands for 20 seconds?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Birthday to me

So today I turn either a old 28 or a young 37.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Brownie resigns

Michael Brown resigned today and has gone back to the actual dog and pony show as opposed to the literal one he's run for the past few years. If I had just waited two seconds to post my previous message. Of course Michael Brown should have been a per hour laborer.

Check CNN.

Don't you love the Bush admin?

So in the middle of the night, FEMA corrected Michael Brown's bio. As if no one would know. It was a "clerical typing error". Of course. Some poor, per hour laborer lost their job over this for sure.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Love Letter to Condoleeza Rice

My friend Grace sent this to me. Love Letter to Condi.

Funny as freakin' hell.

P.S. She scares me.

Katrina - The Movie

I was just watching ABC's World News Tonight and in it there was a interesting interview with the head of the FEMA employee union. In it he described how the President and Congress were warned of the impending doom because dollars and focus have been shifted away from natural disasters.

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

Recommended reading: Why FEMA failed

Here is a great article from Salon titled Why FEMA Failed. It describes how FEMA has been changed by the Bush Administration in light of 9/11.

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

Oh Kanye - hire a speech writer

I've finally seen the entire video of Kanye West's rant on Friday night's charity concert. I wish West's statement had been a bit more eloquent, well thought out, and less emotional than he was because for the most part, I agree with it.

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

Donate money for Hurricane Relief

Those displaced by Hurrican Katarina need your help. Donate now.

The American Red Cross

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"Enough about me - what do you think about me"

So a few complicated points I have to make in regards to Hurricane Katrina and the reaction and coverage of it.

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

T.O.'s Secret

Went to the Eagles Charity Carnival and we noticed something interesting in Terrell Owens locker.

Strong enough for a man, used for a winy-assed millionaire.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Music snobs unite

I am a self-professed music snob. My girlfriend Kristen accuses me of this all the time (generally when I cringe at something playing on her iPod). So when a friend sent me this article I sat reading it and nodding my head. It's a long read, but worth it.


by Michael Crowley

Post date: 08.24.05
Issue date: 09.05.05

Since 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

Milk does a wallet bad

This from the misplaced priorities department: the Florida Marlins baseball team has suspended a batboy for 6 games because he accepted a dare from pitcher Brad Penny to drink a gallon of milk in under an hour without throwing up. This in a league where Rafael Palmeiro just received a 10 game suspension for steriods.

It's about time that baseball address the serious backroom milk chugging going on in its league.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Music August 2005

So many morons running their mouths this month, I've forgotten to actually post about music. Here's what I've been listening to this month with initial impressions.

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.

Your poor, tired, and crazies

So I keep thinking about this Pat Robertson thing and have one more thing to say: if there's any doubt why the rest of the world hates us, it's found here. This is a man that owns his own network. Millions of people listen to him. He has hundreds of millions of dollars at his disposal, yet he's one house short of a block. People outside of the U.S. must look at us and laugh.

Of course we elect the village idiot as president if we listen respect and listen to the court jester.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Maybe Pat Robertson should die

I can say that because honestly, I'm not religious. But when a so-called religious leader such as Pat Robertson calls for an assassination of another human being it is so hypocritical that I just laugh. These "people" have being essentially praying for liberal Supreme Court justices to die so that they can be filled with fascists like themselves.

(Apply these comments to the death penalty)

The lovable RIAA

So two weeks ago I took on illegal downloaders. In that post I spoke specifically to the ethics of taking something for free that you rightfully should pay for. What makes this issue so hard to argue at times is the total lack of sympathy that anyone can feel for the RIAA. Their total lack of disregard for the public impression of themselves or the artists and labels that they purportedly represent makes it impossible to defend them.

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


Has anyone seen the Andy Milonakis show? It's this weird sketch comedy featuring Milonakis, a 29 year-old man that basically plays a goofy 12 year-old. I have two thoughts.

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Fiona Apple News - Extraordinary Machine

Fiona Apple's next cd Extraordinary Machine will be released soon; I've heard as soon as this Tuesday on iTunes. Here's an interesting story from the Chicago Tribune.

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

A post for the guys

My friend Ryan has a hilarious post on his blog that describes the many different types of cleavage. Ladies - don't get offended - it's funny (and pretty much true).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Whoa it's getting cold

I've just realized that I'm a dinasour.

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

My unpopular view on piracy

OK - technology is what it is, and it is very easy to make a copy of a cd from a friend, from P2P networks, etc. That said - just because it's easy, doesn't make it right. When I pass a supermarket after closing and I see plants sitting outside, I don't grab one and put it in the trunk of the car. I could, but I don't. If you walked onto a car dealer's lot, and found no one was looking, the keys were in all the ignitions, would you drive off the lot in a car? I'm sure some would say yes, but I think most would say no. So why is the stealing of music and movies any different?

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.


Apologies are owed to Mark McGwire

This past St. Patrick's day, former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, sat in front of congress to discuss steroid use in major league baseball. When asked about his personal experience McGwire chose to essentially plead the 5th. The fact is McGwire didn't tell us the truth, but he also didn't lie to us. But the media and baseball fans everywhere threw McGwire under the bus. They said he wasn't "forthcoming". Reporters said they wouldn't vote him into the Hall of Fame. McGwire was disgraced.

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

Where can I get one of these?

The worlds ugliest dog. I thought it was fake until I started reading the site. The dog would scare little children.

Robert Novak video

If you haven't seen the Robert Novak video you have to see it. Carvelle must have laughed all night about it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Finally finished Harry Potter

Click on comments to read my thoughts. SPOILERS ALERT!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Michael Penn's cd out today - FINALLY!

It's been a five year wait, but it has been worth it. Michael Penn's new cd Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 has been released and is now sitting at a store near you. May I recommend that you scoot over to Borders where the purchase comes with a bonus disc of Michael's soundtrack work.

The bonus disc is entitled Cinemascope -- A Sampler of Incidental Music Recorded for the Screen in Stereo.

1. Down By The Riverside
2. Infidelity
3. Girls Go
4. Harry Called
5. Pool Ballet
6. Theme
7. Alex
8. Nice Turkey
9. Arcade
10. Phyrogiants

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"

Washington Times Review: Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947

Here's a link to the review of Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 (subscription required)

Michael Penn's light, heavy rock

By Scott Galupo
August 2, 2005

Michael Penn
Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947
Mimeograph/spinART Records

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.

New music: John Doe and Bob Mould

I just picked up two cd's from eMusic (click the banner to the left there, sign up, get 50 downloads for free) that are really good - Bob Mould's Body of Song and John Doe's Forever Hasn't Happened Yet. I think these might be two of the best cd's I've heard this year.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Still not finished Harry Potter

I haven't read anyone's blog. I won't pick up last week's Entertainment Weekly with Harry Potter on the front. I'm so afraid of the ending being given away but I haven't had extra time to read it.

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


So in our great state (said with great sarcasm) of Pennsylvania - the state that foists upon the country Rick Santorum, we have another wonderful scandal causing a stir. It all started when the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted themselves a pay raise. Not just a small pay raise but a 16 to 34% pay raise. This is an a state that has a minimum wage that is $5.15. Well at least our state has the right mind to make sure that lawmakers can't vote themselves a pay raise in the same term; so good, right? Wrong. They got around this rule by allowing the pay raise to essentially go into effect now through something called "unvouchered receipts", which basically means that you can pay for your bikini wax this way and no one will know because you don't have to submit a receipt. Very sneaky huh?

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

sorry - it's been hectic

I haven't had a lot of time for updates between updating Michael Penn's site, the heat and the accompanying death of our air conditioning - my blog has been feeling a bit neglected.

I'll be getting back to a better schedule soon.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Stuff blowed up real good

Saw Michael Bay's new movie The Island Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Alright, it's not the best movie, it's not trying to be. First off - Ewan and Scarlett - something for everyone. Djimon Honusou is very good in his role too - he has an action hero career ahead of him. I think if it weren't for McGregor, Johansson, and Honusou this movie would probably have been unwatchable.

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

Michael Penn on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Michael Penn will appear on the Jay Leno show on August 4th, 2 days after the release of his CD Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947.

New Music - July 2005

Wow - I'm late on this. Here's what's in my new music folder for this month:

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

More on the wacky Santorum

If you want more proof that Santorum is wacky you need to read this article. You may have to subscribe so here are some quotes from the article:

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.