Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Random Ten

To celebrate the first anniversary of my shameless appropriation of the Friday Random Ten, I thought I'd skip the usual selection from the Hall of Album Cover Horrors and instead present one of my favorite doctored photos of all time.

Lee Harvey, you are a madman. When you stole that cow? And your friend tried to make it with the cow? I want to party with you, cowboy. The two of us together, forget it.

Alright, time for the random ten. Bring. It. On.

1. Bobby Bland, "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" -- A nice slow-burning bit of soul. I never understood why Bobby kept the Bland surname, since his music is far from it. Maybe he was just trying to be all ironical. 7/10

2. Beck, "Emergency Exit" -- As sad as it is that Beck has succumbed to the Church of Scientology and vowed to do war with the subatomic Thetan aliens living inside all of us, the man can still churn out some outstanding tunes. I thought the Guero album was one of his best yet, and this is a solid song off it. 7/10

3. Cal Tjader, "Soul Sauce (Fila Brazillia Remix)" -- I tend to enjoy the songs churned out by the Verve Remixed project, but this take on Tjader's vibes-laden jam gets a little too synthy at times. Still, the original song is quite good, and no amount of remixing can ruin it. 6/10

4. Hard 'n' Phirm, "Rodeohead" -- Just a typical, tongue-in-cheek bluegrass medley of Radiohead songs here. Nothing unusual at all. Move along. 6/10

5. The Allman Brothers, "Jessica" -- I know this is a classic bit of classic rock, but the opening piano rumble always reminds me of the Charlie Brown theme music. Don't know why, but it does. Add that to the fact that we're looking at a seven-minute guitar ramble, and well, you've lost me. 5/10

6. San Francisco Seals, "Baby Blue" -- As both of our regular readers know, I have a soft spot for interesting covers of rock standards. And Barbara Manning's take on this Badfinger classic surely fits the bill. Well played. 8/10

7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "I Was Made to Love Her" -- Well, like I said above, cover songs are my secret shame. This is a live recording from the BBC sessions, a nicely controlled but quite rocking rendition of the Stevie Wonder hit. Sadly, it's just an instrumental, but a damn hell good one. 7/10

8. Rufus, "Tell Me Something Good" -- Hot damn. Chaka Khan delivering sultry lyrics over a wah-wah guitar that came straight from a porn flick. It really doesn't get much cooler than this. 10/10

9. The 6ths, "In The City In The Rain" -- The 6ths are one of Stephin Merritt's many many many side projects, the one where he brings in outside vocalists to sing his tunes. This one features Lou Barlow, and he slides right into the melancholy pop vibe of Merritt's music really well. 9/10

10. John Lee Hooker, "Think Twice Before You Go" -- Now that's a damn nice finish. This song's just a bit over two minutes long, and yet it's so action-packed with sharp bits of Chicago guitar and harmonica that you'd swear it was two and a half minutes. At least. 9/10

After a weak opening, I finished out strong with a whopping 7.4 average. That may very well be the highest I've scored in a while. I'd check on the past scores but, well, I'm a lazy, lazy man.

Let's see what you've got. Open up your iWhatever, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that stumble forth. If you're feeling judgmental, go ahead and render a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

(Thanks to a Perfectly Cromulent Blog for rerunning the Oswald photo. Damn, Jack Ruby is a killer on guitar!)

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Nice to see that the Lieberman campaign has aroused, uh, strong feelings among union folks in Connecticut.

(Thanks to Firedoglake for passing along the love.)

Dipstick Diplomacy

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of catching some of President Bush's press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi.

It's always nice to see the president try out his patented I-Think-You're-Retarded speaking style before a foreign audience -- you never know if he's going to speak even more slowly and loudly, like a tourist outside the Colosseum asking where's the nearest Pizza Hut. And on this occassion, the master of verbal disaster surely didn't disappoint.

Here are some of the highlights of the high-powered exchange between the Leader of the Free World and one of our most important allies:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to thank you for opening your markets to U.S. beef. I think the Japanese people are going to like the taste of U.S. beef. As a matter of fact, I had a good slice of beef last night, and you told me you did, as well, and you look like you're feeling pretty good. (Laughter.)


PRESIDENT BUSH: .... I also talked about one of the most touching moments of my presidency, when the mom of the abducted daughter came to the Oval Office and talked to me about what it was like to have a young daughter abducted by the North Koreans. And it really broke my heart. I told the Prime Minister it was -- it was a moving moment for me. I just could not imagine what it would be like to have somebody have taken, you know, my daughter -- one of my daughters -- and never be able to see her again. And the woman showed such great courage, Mr. Prime Minister, when she came and shared her story with me. It took everything I could not to weep, listening to her.


PRESIDENT BUSH: All in all, it was a visit that I knew was going to be a good one because I know the man; I know what he's like: he's a good thinker, he's a strategic thinker, he's a clear speaker. And, plus, as you all know, it's become quite well-known that we're going to visit Graceland tomorrow. He's an Elvis fan. Laura and I gave him a jukebox as a gift, and I can't -- what was the first song you put on? It wasn't "Hound Dog," it was --

PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You."

PRESIDENT BUSH: See, he loves Elvis, and I couldn't think of a better way to honor my friend by going to Graceland. But it also sends a signal about how close our relationship is.
There you have it. Beef is tasty, missing little girls make us cry, and Elvis music is cool. Great. The President of the United States of America has exactly the same likes and dislikes as my 8-year-old niece.

You'd think a wordly, intelligent man like Koizumi would hate having to converse at that level. But I guess given the history of Japanese prime ministers and U.S. presidents named Bush, he's probably just thrilled that Dubya didn't throw up in his lap.


In a stunning move, the U.S. Supreme Court -- yes, we still have one of those -- delivered a ruling today that actually limits the administration's activities at its outsourced operations in scenic Guantanamo Bay. The Washington Post has the goods:
The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions are unconstitutional.

In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized under U.S. law or the Geneva Conventions. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in the case, called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recused himself from the case.

The ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court decision in which Roberts had participated, represented a defeat for President Bush, who had ordered military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. About 450 detainees captured in the war on terrorism are currently held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Well, it's nice to know that there are some limits to the god-like powers that President Superbush granted to himself. He can't just declare people to be "enemy combatants" instead of prisoners of war, he can't deny them the right to counsel, and he can't do an end-run around the Constitution by subjecting them to military tribunals.

Sadly, the conservative core -- Scalia, Thomas and Alito -- thought all of this was just fine. (And, in a stirring footnote to his dissent, Scalia not only supported the awesomeness of the president, but also recommended that he build a golden throne out of the bones of his vanquished enemies. Just a thought, but a stylish one at that.) Chief Justice Roberts would've been right alongside these three, but his earlier support for Bush in this case forced a recusal this time around.

I don't know about the rest of you, but the idea that the Court could be so closely divided on something that seems so basic to American principles of law is really creepy. I think I'll be sending Justice Stevens some heart-healthy Cheerios this week, as well as a warning to steer clear of any creme brulée.

But as the Post continues, the decision was close because it strikes directly at the Dear Leader approach of this administration:
The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned:

# The power of Congress and the executive to strip the federal courts and the Supreme Court of jurisdiction.

# The authority of the executive to lock up individuals under claims of wartime power, without benefit of traditional protections such as a jury trial, the right to cross-examine one's accusers and the right to judicial appeal.

# The applicability of international treaties -- specifically the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war -- to the government's treatment of those it deems "enemy combatants."
So this would seem to be a clear rebuff to the Bush administration's belief that its branch is the ultimate decider in all things, and Congress and the courts can just cram it with walnuts.

Of course, it may take a while for that message to sink in. The president is speaking live on CNN right now, and promises to mull over the decision -- "once I've been fully briefed," he said -- and then his folks will work with Congress to implement it. Maybe.

I've got to go. The president is talking about how important democracy is. Really, it sounds fantastic.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pickle Phobia

Just when you thought we'd struck the bottom of the barrel in teary-eyed talk-show moments, Maury Povich proudly breaks through the bottom of the barrel. Specifically, the pickle barrel.

Stupid Like a Fox

As part of our continuing effort to bring you the latest news within three or four days of when it happened -- maybe a full week, tops -- I'd like to direct your attention to Sen. Carl Levin's appearance on "Fox and Friends."

I know most of you have already seen this on the internets, or at least the small bit that closed out last night's "Daily Show," but it's really worth watching the whole thing. Crooks & Liars has the full segment, and it beautifully shows why News Corp's morning show has a name more appropriate for a children's program. Ridiculous.

What John Kerry Should've Done

VA's got a senate election this fall; George Allen (R-dude ranch) is being challenged by Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. Allen's hired the Swiftboaters from '04 to do the same thing to Webb (the man voted w/ Bush 97% of the time, what do you expect?).

One problem: Jim Webb ain't no John Kerry.

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning. Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards. George Felix Allen Jr. needs to apologize to Jim Webb and to all men and women who have served our nation," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said.

On Tuesday, George Felix Allen Jr. and his campaign issued a press release in which the Allen campaign, through Wadhams, implied that Webb's position in support of the Free Speech Amendment to the U.S. Constitution amounted to a political act and not a defense of our Constitution, which Webb fought for and for which he was highly decorated. George Felix Allen Jr. did not serve.

"While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada. People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield," Jarding said.

"Weak-kneed attacks by cowards." Now THAT's a knife!

(That craven Swiftboating requires this kind of response is obvious in hindsight, but not so obvious when it first happened to Kerry. I really don't fault Kerry and his peeps for not responding this way, but I do love to see Webb knocking it out of the park.)
From Kos.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Greatest Stories Ever Told

I'm happy to announce that this here blog had its first anniversary earlier this week. However, in a moment that reflects poorly on all of our husbandry, the four of us completely forgot the anniversary. So consider this post a belated and much-unneeded attempt to mark the ignominious occasion.

Here are some of our better efforts. Which, upon further review, is very very sad.

Great Moments in Compassionate Conservatism: The Bush team's magnificent handling of Katrina.
Family Values: A nice trip through the Bush family dynasty.
Justice Denied: The short, sad story of Harriet Miers.
Taste the Golden Spray: The Democrats' image problems.
Speak Up: A prescient preview of the State of the Union address.
Manliness, GOP Style: Sen. Ted Stevens takes his balls and goes home.
In Memoriam: The passing and politicization of Coretta Scott King.
Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another: Thoughts on the rubber-stamp Republicans.
Congressional Overlook: More of the same, with an explanation of the Whittington Principle.
Runaway DeLay: A teary farewell to our favorite douchebag.
Gay Panic: It's an election year, Republicans, so roll out the Homobasher 3000!
Foreign Affairs:
Flypaper: Examining the unquestioned brilliance of the Bush team's we're-fightin'-'em-thar-so-we-don't-hafta-fight-'em-here strategery.
Jong-Il Communications: StudioDave solves the North Korean crisis.
Tortured Logic: Remember when we were the good guys?
Stickerhawks: Sen. Santorum insists that bumper stickers are the highest sacrifice of a patriot.
Pundit Bashing:
Communication Breakdown: Our office "dead pool" on which CNN personality would snap first.
The Return of Lucky Ducky: Reviewing the Doughy Pantload's thoughts on Katrina.
Real Adventures in Bizarro Land: An alternate reality comic book starring Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy as freedom fighters in a land dominated by P.C. thugs.
Cranky Old Man: The President Smells Like Mustard: A tribute to Dean Broder.
The Atlanta Hawks Suck: The pithy title says it all.
Maddening: A heartfelt valentine to John Madden.
The Shroud of Turin: Hey, remember the Winter Olympics? Me neither.
Stupor Bowl: The conservatives get all culture-warry about the big game.
And Now There's a Beach Ball on the Field... and The Shatnerizing of Soccer: Our very own Point-Counterpoint on the World Cup.
Culture and Shit:
Worst. Films. Ever.
You're Making My Tombstone!: Dick Clark, way past his prime time.
Science?! We Don't Need No Stinkin' Science!: The magical world of Intelligent Design.
Who Would Jesus Assassinate?: Deep Thoughts from Pat Robertson.
Altar Call: The conversion of John McCain.
Fuck Off and Die: The faith-based war on science.
Real-Life Adventures:
They Can Take Our Lives, But They'll Never Take Our Freedom: True tales of a gas station men's room.
You Can Hardly See Them Nipples: True tales of overweight porn stars in Vegas.
Say "Hello" to My Little Friend: A classic in embedded reporting.
Embedded Reporter #2: Baptist Church Pool Update
Old Stand-Bys:
The very first Friday Random Ten at this site.
My favorite Caption Contest of all time.
Link Dump:
The Old Negro Space Program
How to Become a Republican
Yacht Rock
Ask a Republican
So many memories. So much wasted time.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Network Neutrality for Dummies

There is an issue bubbling quietly in Washington called "Network Neutrality." Network Neutrality was initially raised as a telecommunications policy (stay awake, it will get better) to ensure that the big phone companies won't disrupt the current internet business model consumers and internet companies have operated under for the last 10 years.

Now, several things are going on with the internet. (1) at&t wants to return its former stature - something which Congress "in theory" tried to dissuade for the last 20 some odd years, (2) local telco's are losing big margin local phone lines (mostly to their own wireless companies - but at lower margins *sob*), (3) the phone companies want to get into the cable business. Maybe they will build it, maybe they will buy it. Who knows....

Let's just say - they would really appreciate it if the government just minded its own business (flag burning and gay marriage blocking).

So - does the phone company really care about network neutrality? No. I just don't think so.

What, what, what you say? All this lobbying, advertising, and fascinating CSPAN2 testimony coverage - for nothing?

Yes. You see if their real goal is to control costs they would prevent peer to peer traffic (old school Napster) or Newsgroups. It comprises about 33% of their current bandwidth (sometimes over 50%). It is easy (and cheap) to lock at the switch level. A simple on / off if you will.

If they wanted to simply make money, they could raise prices on access or buy up those pesky competitors who are selling business access at low prices. They can then raise prices to those pesky businesses.

So the telcos continue to threaten to clamp down on network access control and prioritize bandwidth based on dynamic consumer demands. But its not quite as simple as it sounds. It would require an enormous investment in systems to control the access, to manage it (without breaking it), and bill it. And even then - there is no promise they could even make their investment back. There is always cable for the consumers. So, they have a multiple billion dollar investment with no promise of a return.

You see, its a lot easier to get the GOP Congress to pass some laws ensured to leave you alone. Now you can get back to focusing on telling people why they should pay you $35 or more for 125 year old technology. Nice work if you can get it....

Caption Contest

Now that Norbizness has exposed our role in the vast left-wing caption conspiracy -- we're the ones responsible for bringing the au gratin potatoes to the pot luck dinners -- it only seems right that we make another offering to the snark gods.

Here's one ripe for the mocking. Have at it!

Sweet Zombie Jesus!

I was planning on seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" anyway, but hearing Gore tell Bender that he plays "a streetwise pimp ... with a hybrid pimpmobile" is really whetting my appetite.

(Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the tip.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Random Ten

I don't know if it's the Champale talking, but I think I could just get lost in Jim Post's eyes for days. He's just so damn dreamy.

What with the water-sculpted physique,the carefully-cultivated porn mustache, and the patented puppy-dog staredown from the Alan Alda School for Sensitive Men, he's the poster boy for the plague of singer-songwriters who ravaged this country's music charts and suburban Turtle Records throughout the late 1970s. At the time, it just seemed like harmless fun. We didn't know this was going to lead to the Christopher Cross tragedy of 1980. In retrospect, it seems like a tragic folly. But who could resist that 'stache?

If I can tear myself away from Jim's watery come-hither stare, it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Here goes:

1. King Floyd, "Woman Don't Go Astray" -- A fairly standard R&B tune from the man who's best known for "Groove Me." This isn't quite as good, but not exactly bad. Eh. 5/10

2. Moby, "Porcelain" -- While I liked the tracks on the Play album that made use of the old Alan Lomax field recordings of folk songs in the South, the more standard Mobyish stuff like this song never really did it for me. 6/10

3. Common featuring Laetitia Sadier, "New Wave" -- I never would've dreamed of pairing the Stereolab vocalist with Common, but this works extremely well. The hiphop verses are standard, but the chorus that Sadier builds is phenomenal. 10/10

4. Clarence Reid, "Master Piece" -- A nice bit of soul strutting from Oliver Wang's Soul Sides compilation. If you're into soul and aren't checking out his blog on a regular basis, you're missing out on goodies like this one. Go. 8/10

5. Junior Varisty KM, "You're Fabulous!" -- Brilliant drum 'n' bass work from San Francisco's Kenric McDowell. Catchy as hell. 10/10

6. Earth, Wind and Fire, "Mighty Mighty" -- A mediocre tune from the '70s supergroup. In recognition of that, and in honor of Jim Post, I'm going to give his radio rivals a middling grade. 7/10

7. Radiohead, "Motion Picture Soundtrack" -- I know some fans were iffy about the mellow electronica of Kid A, but I love that album. A nice, slow, lush one here. 8/10

8. Link Wray and the Wraymen, "Rumble Mambo" -- The original "Rumble" was Link's biggest and most notorious hit, an instrumental that somehow managed to get banned in some American cities because its title supposedly referred to gang violence. While that song's great, the mambo variation isn't. 4/10

9. The Replacements, "Androgynous" -- This is the one 'Mats song that I can always remember clearly from the concerts of theirs I've seen. It's not that it's my favorite, but this was always the time where the crowd calmed down and drunkenly sang along. Never a disappointment. 8/10

10. The Stonecutters, "We Do!" -- The Simpsons' classic tribute to the Freemasons. "Who keeps down the electric car? Who made Steve Guttenberg a star? We do, we do!" This song and more, all available for your listening and downloading pleasure from this site. Have fun. 6/10

Alright, that gives me a perfect 7.0 score on the coolness scales. Apparently, I'm just barely passing. I can't remember if that's cool or not.

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own FRTs, with or without a coolness audit, in the comments below.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stupid Real Estate

For those of us who were actually looking forward to a life entrenched in the middle class, this kind of thing is really really really depressing.
Middle-class neighborhoods, long regarded as incubators for the American dream, are losing ground in cities across the country, shrinking at more than twice the rate of the middle class itself. In their place, poor and rich neighborhoods are both on the rise, as cities and suburbs have become increasingly segregated by income, according to a Brookings Institution study released Thursday. It found that as a share of all urban and suburban neighborhoods, middle-income neighborhoods in the nation's 100 largest metro areas have declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000.
The article is even more depressing than this excerpt, citing numerous other bits of evidence supporting this trend. Boo.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Postcards From The Edge

Greetings friends.

Studiodave back in effect. So much to say so little time. Here's some observations:

"The Newsroom" - Favorite New TV Show. A Canadian show with 3 years under its belt. Picture "The Office"" meets "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with a critical edge of news and politics. Atlanta's PBS shows it in reruns on Friday nights so check your local listings. If you can't find it, rent or buy it. I will refund the costs 120% if you don't love it.

"Taking the Long Way" - Dixie Chicks. I'm sure this album is not as good as I think - but it is amazing. The Rick Rubin produced work has a little bit of everything. I had heard it spun that it was more of an Eagles sound, but I don't hear it. What I do hear is a damn gutsy album where people say what they believe, stand up for it, and tell you they'd do it again. Kind of a "Bring it on" statement with some actually backbone. I proudly bought the album and enjoyed the sneer of the gum smacking soccer mom behind me.

The Atlanta Braves - This is as painful as it gets. I have nothing else to say.

Mixed Feelings about NBA Finals

So the NBA finals ended last night, with the Miami Heat whooping the Dallas Mavericks. I didn't really have a dog in this fight (I'm a Zards man), but I found myself gravitating towards the Mavs. Their style of play is up tempo and fun, and they have the most entertaining of all sports owners, Mark Cuban.

But then I thought about Hitler. I know, the moment you mention Hitler you've lost the debate, but I don't mean live Hitler, I mean dead Hitler.

The Mavs undisputed superstar is Dirk Nowitzky, a 7-footer with the shooting skills of a small guy. Really great player, and from all I've seen, a very decent person. The Heat have two bigtime players, but Shaquille O'Neal is the star. So I'm thinking, you've got the big blond German guy on one team and the big black American guy on the other team. 1936 Olympics, anyone?

Live Hitler was all about how his German runner was going to put Jesse Owens to shame, forever proving the superiority of the Aryan race. That didn't work out, so he invaded Poland. How do you think dead Hitler feels about this year's NBA finals? Despite the fact that Dirk and the rest of Germany (and the world) have utterly repudiated live Hitler's theories, I think dead Hitler was thinking "Rematch, baby!" And after the Heat lost the first 2 games faster than France could surrender to live Hitler, it looked like dead Hitler was going to get his way.

You can see the quandry I was in. I liked the Mavs, but I really didn't like the idea of rooting for the same team as dead Hitler. So about halfway through the series I went with Miami, and Miami beat dead Hitler's chosen team worse than Owens beat that runner back in '36. I hope dead Hitler was spinning in his grave.

But I want to show a little love to the Mavs, so let me pass on this morsel Mark Cuban wrote on his own blog about answering questions from the press.
Last night in the locker room after we lost in overtime to the heat. I was asked by reporters to answer some questions. I told them i would if they asked good questions and didnt ask the same cliche’d questions they had asked after other
games. It was interesting how quiet everyone got. then someone asked “Is this your worst loss ever”. What the fuck kind of question is that ? Is this for a VH1 special ? “Worst Losses Ever ?” If it was, then maybe it was a decent question. Otherwise, how do you answer that question…Let me think. Well we have never been to the finals before, and this is our most recent finals lost. The 3rd in a row. So that could make it the Mavs worst ever... The reality is that it would be a waste of both of our time if i gave him the “this was a tough one” answer, and a waste of my time to really think about it.
He's sayin' what I'm thinkin'! Lordy do I hate postgame interviews.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

MacGyver + Beer =

The only German I know is "Eine bier, bitte." I can't read anything on this website, but I think I'd get along with the proprietors of this blog pretty well. I will never complain about being stranded without a bottle opener again. (via

As an aside, does anyone else call a bottle opener a "church key?" Not sure if this is a regional thing or a family thing.

Best Pickup Line Ever

How sweaty is your hometown, baby?
Four Virginia cities are on a deodorant-maker's list of the 100 sweatiest cities in the United States. . . . Scientists at Proctor and Gamble, which makes Old Spice deodorant, compiled the list. They based it on computer models that predict the amount of sweat a person of average height and weight would produce walking around for an hour in the average high temperatures during June, July and August of 2005 for each city.
Oh yeah, that's sexy. And once you've got the lass' attention, you seal the deal with this bit of trivia: "The scientists said that the population of Phoenix could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with sweat in less than three hours."

Click the link above to see if your town made the top 100 (I clock in at a manly 32).

(Hat tip to Mrs. T, who would take way more than three hours to fill a pool with sweat.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Spain to secede from the US

While watching the Spain/Tunesia World Cup match, they panned the crowd after a goal by Spain. There in the middle of the waving Spanish flags was a rebel flag: the Stars and Bars in all of her glory. They showed this section of the crowd more than once, so I know I wasn't hallucinating. Can anyone come up with an explanation for this?

The Shatnerizing of Soccer

The other day, Otto laid out a pretty good case for soccer being just as appealing as any of our big sports, and I agree with most of what he has to say. However, that doesn’t mean I’m painting my face and attaching kooky flags to my car. As with most stuff for our generation, the big soccer show gives me neither highs nor lows. Sure, I can easily get sucked into a meaningless game, like I did with France v. Korea yesterday, but I can just as easily get sucked into “Under Siege” (like I also did yesterday). In fact, watching Steven Segal take back the U.S.S. Missouri from that bastard traitor Gary Busey helped crystallize what it is about the World Cup that I’m not liking. Bad acting.

It's one thing when it’s Segal doing the bad acting, because you pretty much know what he’s going for. There’s the determined stare (foreshadowing many neck breakings), the disillusioned/betrayed stare (followed by Theisman-esque knee shatterings), the angry stare (lethal head butts on the way), and the Mona Lisa smile (aw yeah, he’s about to score!). There’s also the helpful background music, which further refines just how intense his next roundhouse kick is going to be.

Soccer players are clearly almost as tough as Segal, but the second one of them goes down, get ready for a serious Oscar (the award, not the grouch) moment. They take their acts so far that you worry they really might be hurt this time, even though the last 87 times they were faking it. I like a good flop as much as the next guy -- Vlade Divac could pull a flop that really made ya think. But the way these guys overdo it is just too much. They roll around on the ground, the medics bring out that scary stretcher with all the neck support straps, and you just know the guy’s career is over. Their agony is so intense it transcends human experience -- until the ref blows a whistle, and then they pop right back up. Oh, the good ones keep pretending to be hurt, limping and grimacing and such, but you know they were fine and just wanted to stop play for whatever reason.

This is annoying. If there’s going to be a stoppage, it better be worth it. All soccer has going for it is the no-time-out thing, so they should quit ruining that. There’s also the tease factor. Don’t get me worked up to see some blood and guts if you’ve just got a little headache. That makes me resent you, just like all those women who wouldn’t go out with me.

A less important (and far less Steven Segal-related) issue: the smallest mistake looks like the world’s dumbest kick. I really do appreciate how skilled the players are, but 90% of the shots look hideously off. They spend five minutes carefully pushing the ball up the field, passing and heading and all that good stuff, they cross it to the guy in the middle, and he launches it 20 feet above the goal. Or he kicks it right into the goalie’s hands. Or knees it to a gaggle of 5 defenders. I know these guys are the best in the world, but it just looks so bad when they miss. I really don’t know how they can fix this -- maybe a giant backboard?

So that’s me and soccer. You guys got any thoughts? Favorite game from the weekend? (CZ v. Ghana for me, definitely.) What’s your take on those women who wouldn’t date me -- they’re losers, right? Right?

P.S. Almost forgot -- the in-studio anchor types for ABC/ESPN we saw before games and at half time included 2 former U.S. players, Alexi Lalas and some other guy. Were they the suckiest sucks who ever sucked, or what?

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Thanks to the fine people of Firedoglake, I finally had a chance to watch Joe Lieberman's pathetically sad new attack ad against Ned Lamont.

It's even worse than I'd assumed. After months of arguing that Lamont is the tool of "far-left nuts," now they're implying that he's a Republican stalking horse for that evil political mastermind, Lowell Weicker. Or Yogi Bear. Who knows? I can't really wrap my head around the subtle, nuanced metaphors of the ad.

Check it out for yourself.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Girl Drink Drunk

Well, I can't keep looking at that picture of Sen. Rick "Man-on-Poodle" Santorum any longer.

Since the weekend is almost upon us, I think I'd drop another classic Kids in the Hall sketch to get you in the mood. "Girl Drink Drunk." Enjoy.

Caption Contest

While over at Firedoglake, I came across this photo of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Faaaaaabulous!) and knew it was my moral duty to use it for a caption contest.

So have at him.

Friday Random Ten

I'm not really sure this album cover needs much discussion. I just wanted to share.

Alright, let's do this thing:

1. Gnarls Barkley, "Go-Go Gadget Gospel" -- Gnarls Barkley is the latest effort from serial collaborator Danger Mouse. In this incarnation, he joins forces with Cee-Lo to do battle against the forces of something or other. This is a nice piece of high-energy gospel-hiphop. Hard to describe, but it works. 9/10

2. R.E.M., "Leave" -- From my favorite R.E.M. album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Nice, but hey did a sparer version for the brilliant soundtrack of a horrible movie, A Life Less Ordinary, which I do believe I prefer. 6/10

3. Jane's Addiction, "Summertime Rolls" -- Back in college, I briefly (and badly) played bass guitar in a (worse) band. When I told StudioDave I'd taken up the bass, he asked if I could play this song like a friend of his could. When I had to say no, I felt like a fraud. A bass-playing fraud. 6/10

4. Tortoise, "It's All Around You" -- A fairly unimpressive instrumental. Feh. 3/10

5. Mark Robinson, "Perks and Presents (remix)" -- Some slow and stripped-down indie pop from the former frontman of Unrest. I've never heard the original, so I'm not sure how this is a remix. Not sure I need to know, either. 5/10

6. Neutral Milk Hotel, "The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1" -- Despite the too-precious song title, this is a nice little bit of alternative pop. Easy to see why this band's on Merge Records. Great stuff. 10/10

7. Dead Kennedys, "Viva Las Vegas" -- This comes from the soundtrack for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and thus starts off with a nice sample of Johnny Depp channeling Hunter S. Thompson. Quite fitting. 8/10

8. Magnetic Fields, "Two Characters in Search of a Country Song" -- Well, speaking of Merge .... A great, twangy number from Charm of the Highway Strip. Damn, I love this album. 10/10

9. Undisputed Truth, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" -- It's hard to top the Temptations version, but this one comes close. mixing in female voices with the men works well. Hard to believe a song so sad could be so funky. 7/10

10. Muddy Waters, "Got My Mojo Working" -- Ah, way to stick the landing. Some typically scorching Chicago blues from the greatest bluesman ever. This comes off the incredibly strong Chess collection. Box sets are normally a gamble. (As a comedian once put it, it basically boils down to thinking: "I own nothing by Toto. I want to own everything by Toto.") This one was worth it. 9/10

Alright, that gives me a perfectly respectable 7.3 average for the day. After a string of FRTs in the 6 range, the Little iPod Who Could is slowly creeping up in the rankings.

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own random ten in the comments below. And if you damn well feel like it, throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well. (Coolness Self Auditing 101 rules available here.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Because they're weenies?"

Via Kevin Drum, there’s a well-done piece in the Washington Monthly entitled “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern” (I took my shot at answering this in the post’s title). It makes imminently clear that the last few years of crapulent governance were not a fluke but a predictable result of conservatism:
. . . like all politicians, conservatives, once in office, find themselves under constant pressure from constituents to use government to improve their lives. This puts conservatives in the awkward position of managing government agencies whose missions—indeed, whose very existence—they believe to be illegitimate. Contemporary conservatism is a walking contradiction. Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference, expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government.
This isn’t the first time someone’s pointed this out, but this guy does the best job yet of explaining it and supporting it with evidence.

But don’t toss my “weenies” theory out the window just yet. More evidence rolls in everyday for that baby.


Through the grace of God -- and a well-connected, earthly friend -- the lovely Malibu Stacy and I had the pleasure of seeing Radiohead live in concert at Madison Square Garden last night.

The last time I saw them was a legendary show at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, outdoors on a nice summer night with the Statue of Liberty in the background. That's a hard one to top, but this show came damn close.

It was in the theater at MSG, which seats maybe 4,000-5,000 people and thus had a really intimate feel. We had very good seats, the seventh row behind the standing-room general admission crowd, just off center. (How good were the seats? Natalie Portman was in the row behind us. Suck on that, Queen Amadala.)

Alright, onto the show. First, I hate it when music bloggers ignore the opening acts. (Yes, this is normally warranted. I'm reminded of a classic David Letterman Top Ten List about exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where one of them was "Get the Hell Offstage!: A Tribute to Opening Bands.") So let me address the brilliance of the Black Keys. You've definitely heard them before, since their "Have Love Will Travel" has been used in a Nissan ad and other tunes popped up elsewhere. A great grunge-blues two piece, sort of like the White Stripes, but a little more gutteral with the vocals, which is how I likes 'em. They played a short, tight set, maybe a half hour and then scampered off. Wish they'd been able to play longer, and hope to get to see them do a full set soon.

Radiohead came on about 9:10. In what must have been a very difficult stage effect, their arrival was accompanied by huge plumes of funny-smelling smoke coming from a number of different sources hidden in the crowd. Really impressive. It made me a little light-headed, though. As a group, the band seemed really excited to be there -- especially Thom Yorke, who's clearly grown into the role of lead singer and frontman, a role that didn't seem to fit him earlier in their career.

They played for about an hour-and-a-half, probably two dozen songs and two encores. Perhaps a third of the songs were ones off the forthcoming album, and they all sounded great. "15 Steps" and "Videotape" were especially good. They mixed in a number of songs from the last couple of albums, too, including "Everything in Its Right Place," "Idioteque," "National Anthem," "Myxomatosis," "2+2=5," "I Might Be Wrong," etc. A few old classics, like a brilliant version of "Paranoid Android," an asskicking "Just," and a simply beautiful rendition of "No Surprises," too.

I'm sure the full set list and mp3s will be available in the music blogosphere soon, compiled by someone with a greater attention to detail than me. But if you'd rather not wait, you can download recent concerts of theirs in Amsterdam, Boston, and Toronto. The sound quality is fairly good, and all the set lists a bit different. Collect all three!

In the meantime, stay tuned for Part Three of my ongoing series on getting people to envy me. First, I told you about the new HDTV we bought, and now I've reported on the Radiohead show. Tomorrow, I'll reveal the secret identity of my wife Malibu Stacy -- she's really the entire squad of the Miami Heat Dancers!

(Photo stolen shamelessly from Stereogum's post on the previous night's show. Thanks to Brad R. of Sadly, No! for a couple of the concert links.)

Update: I'm told the links for the Boston show have expired. All the more reason to hurry up and download the other two before they're gone as well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"You Wrap It Up, I'll Start Bringing In the Pennies"

Well, after much debate and deliberation, Malibu Stacy and I just bit the bullet and purchased a new 42" plasma HDTV. If you like to watch your TV -- and I mean, really like to watch your TV -- this is the way for you. Trust me, pally.

If you've never been transfixed by the Hypnotoad-like powers of HDTV, you really don't know what you're missing. The wider screen, of course, adds a lot to the equation, but it's really more about quality than quantity. The picture is so crisp that I can actually discern the razor-thin dividing lines between our celebrity couples -- Tomkat, Brangelia, Czechoslovakia, etc.

And for sporting events, it's absolutely breathtaking. I watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night, and I could actually see the individual oil droplets on Pat Riley's hair. And Mark Cuban seemed so lifelike I could've spat on him.

Sure, there are dangers in the HDTV. For one thing, I've discovered that some people -- my local news anchors, David Letterman, etc. -- might not be ready for their extreme close-up. And, for another, there's a very good chance that I could develop bed sores sitting on my couch for the next month of World Cup action. (Seriously, what's a guy got to do to get turned around here?) But I'm willing to take those risks.

Don't believe me? Check out this great ad for the Sony Bravia. Very cool imagery, with Jose Gonzalez providing musical support.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Caption Contest

Time for another caption contest folks.

This time we're bringing you the entire Administration That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Feel free to have at the whole gang, or select your targets.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"And Now There's a Beach Ball on the Field, and the Ball Boys Are Arguing About Who's Gonna Go Get It"

Well, I realize that the aftermath of a 3-0 depantsing of the U.S. at the hands of the Czech Republic is probably not the best time for this post, but what the hell. Here goes.

For those of you in a coma or, worse, the Republican Party, the greatest sporting event on the planet is now underway -- the FIFA World Cup. Now, while I love the game tremendously, I realize that many of my fellow countrymen tend to view soccer as something that's as gripping and enjoyable as a John Tesh concert.

The chief excuse for American apathy about the game is, quite simply, "it's boring." This is such a classic, lazy complaint. And, to some extent, hypocritical. The same sports fans who can rhapsodize about a "pitcher's duel" in baseball or a "defensive showdown" in football are generally the same ones who tend to whine about how soccer's boring.

I mean, baseball's so boring they actually give the fans a break late in the game. I'm pretty sure it's part of the Geneva Conventions that crowds can only be forced to watch Chipper Jones scratch himself like a bassett hound for two hours in a row without reprieve. There's a reason so much beer is on sale at the stadiums.

And as much as I love pro football, it's a game of constant interruptions, timeouts, measurements, instant replays, and huddles. DirecTV's NFL package has a function where they they edit the games, cutting out all the stoppages and showing every single play, hike to whistle. Without fail, they manage to trim the three-hour NFL broadcasts down to 20-30 minutes. No offense, but if you can trim 5/6 of the telecast away and still preserve every single play, then maybe it's this country that has the boring variety of football.

And that's not even mentioning some of the other things that some Americans consider a non-boring sport. NASCAR is essentially rednecks making left turns for three straight hours. World's Fastest Oil Change is a pathetic entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, not something for onlookers to cheer for. Golf? Christ, even the announcers are talking in a hushed voice. It’s got all the fun and spontaneity of the Brezhnev funeral, with the fashion sense of the snob frat from "Animal House." My God, we have people who consider bowling and billiards and bass fishing to be gripping sports, but soccer? Oh no.

I think most Americans just haven't been exposed to the game at its highest form. The prevalence of youth soccer in this country might actually work against its spread, as most suburban parents have now associated the sport with the image of a pack of 9-year-olds playing in the dirt and mobbing the ball. Yeah, if I'd grown up only watching Pop Warner Football, I'd probably not want to watch the pro game either.

Other people complain about low-scoring games. (Maybe if we scored in base seven like American football, it would seem more important. You know, 14-7 instead of 2-1?) What these people miss is the fact that a low score is also a close score. A team down 1-0 has a shot to come back and win or tie. Hell, just this morning, Australia was down 1-0 for the first eighty minutes of the game, and then rocketed in goals -- not once, not twice, but thrice! -- against Japan for a 3-1 smackdown in the last ten.

Again, compare that to U.S. sports. I can't count the number of Monday Night Football games where Al Michaels has had to joke about how only the gamblers are still watching because the Colts ran up the score 28-0 in the first half, the starters were rested midway through the 4th Q, and it's all over but the crying.

I think the boredom complaints come from the fact that so many Americans don't understand that there's actually much more to the game than the goals. So much of the play rests on innovation and spur-of-the-moment adjustments. It's a game that requires, from players and fans alike, attentiveness and an appreciation for small details -- passes, assists, even single touches -- that may not exactly work in a country known for its short attention sp... Hey, what's that?

Think soccer's boring? Watch the Brazil game tomorrow. Or hell, just stick with your original plan to watch an Ernest movie on the SuperStation and then look for sparkly stuff in the parking lot. Your loss.

Update: For reasons that should be obvious to those of you with reading comprehension skills, I changed the title from a soccer-mocking Simpsons quote to a baseball-mocking Simpsons quote.

Update 2.0: Apparently, I got the math in the "base seven" joke wrong. I'm not going to fix it in the text because, frankly, I don't want to stick the landing on that kind of joke. Fumbling that reference is like being a little too tall for the nerd ride.

Another Immigration Issue

I was hanging out with my best friend, television, this weekend, and events conspired to cause me to have a thought. The first event was our good friend Tom DeLay giving his goodbye speech to congress . Yeah, I teared up too. The second was a soccer game between Iran and Mexico. I figured with what we can all agree are the US's two mortalest enemies in one place, something awful was going to happen. Lo and behold, none of the Iranians tried to blow up anything, and none of the Mexicans tried to sneak across any borders. It was like they bore no resemblance to the Iranians and Mexicans we hear so much about from John Gibson and Lou Dobbs. I guess there's always an exception (or 22).

Anyway, with all those cheering (and therefore scary) Mexicans and the DeLay thing swirling in my head/television, it occurred to me that we have another immigration problem that our so-called MSM has been ignoring (the MS more so than the M). I'm talking about politician immigrants. I don't mean folks who come here to seek political asylum from their crazy home country (like Sweden), I mean politicians who are elected to congress but then decide to hang around the metro DC area after their term(s) has expired. Sometimes they get a sweet gig with an industry they were regulating 15 minutes ago, sometimes they have put down roots here, sometimes they just don't want to go home to their backwater town.

Please go home. Please. Now.

You are politicians, and now you are explicitly for hire. Do you think I want you ruining my gov't from the outside even worse than you did from the inside? Do you think I want my kids growing up with your kids? Do you think I want to stand behind you in line at the Starbucks while you abuse the servers for putting too much cream in your latte?

And believe me, this ain't partisan. You wanna guess where Tom Daschle lives now? I'll give you a clue: it ain't anywhere near the state he represented for all those years. Don't even get me started on pantloads like Billy Tauzin or Rick Santorum - that guy moved his whole danged family here, while his "home" in PA is only a couple hours away. How much you want to bet he stays right there in Leesburg, VA, after he loses his election this fall?

Now that I've acheived a high level of chemo-electric activity in the indignance region of my brain, stimulating me to ever higher levels of pleasure with myself and disgust for the rest of you, you're probably wondering, what can we do about this immigration problem?

Simple. If you are elected to congress, you must return to your home district after you're done serving. For 5 years, at least. After that you can move back to DC if you want, but trust me. We don't want you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Daddy Drank

It's a bit of a busy weekend, what with all the sitting around watching the World Cup and all. So to fill the blogging void, here's one of my all-time favorite Kids in the Hall sketches. Enjoy.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday Random Ten

This is a cover I've used before, but given the Republican plan to flog the No Gays Allowed constitutional amendment, it seemed like a fitting selection.

In fact, given Sen. Rick Santorum's obsession with "man-on-dog" sex, I'm surprised something off this album didn't make the National Review's list of the Top 50 Conservative Songs. Maybe they're more interested in Sen. John Cornyn's "man-on-box-turtle" perversions these days. Who knows? Who cares?

Anyway, the appearance of Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Preserve can only mean that it's time once again for the Friday Random Ten. Let's do this thing.

1. Dilated Peoples, "You Can't Hide, You Can't Run" -- A nice little hiphop strutter from Dilated Peoples. This is off the 20/20 album which, sadly and surprisingly, features absolutely zero work by Barbara Walters. Still, some solid work. 8/10

2. Hal Kemp and His Orchestra, "With Plenty of Money and You" -- This is nowhere near as smoking as the Tony Bennett and Count Basie collaboration of a couple decades later. In fact, it's so mellow it seems like Hal's doing the vocals from beneath a pile of cold, hard, heavy cash. 4/10

3. Raymond Wong, "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" -- This is, for all intents and purposes, the theme music to Kung Fu Hustle. If you've seen the film, this plays through the very cool scene with the introduction of the Ax Gang. Nicely sinister. 6/10

4. King Curtis and the Kingpins, "Whole Lotta Love" -- An R&B cover of the Zepplin classic. Which is only fitting, since that song was a cover of several earlier blues and rock tunes, especially Muddy Waters' brilliant "You Need Love." Not too bad, though there are moments where it seems a little Muzaky. 7/10

5. Johnny Cash, "Orange Blossom Special" -- One of the three thousand railroad songs by the Man in Black. This is actually a bit of a disappointment, a fairly conventional country number with a harmonica front and center. Eh. 5/10

6. James Brown, "Sweet Little Baby Boy" -- Every Christmas during his prime, JB would put out a single to celebrate the season. Some of them are hilariously funky ("Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto") but this is actually a sweet number with strings and some soulful lyrics. 7/10

7. Jose Gonzalez, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" -- As pre-eminent as Sam Beam has been with the acoustic covers, Jose Gonzalez is even better. He's done phenomenal versions of "Heartbeats," "Teardrop" and others, but this is a masterpiece. He's playing a free show here at Central Park's Summer Stage, and to say I'm excited about it is the king of all understatements. 10/10

8. Pavement, "Here" -- A nice slow track from Slanted and Enchanted, their first and, in my opinion, best album. 7/10

9. Buck Owens, "Waiting in Your Welfare Line" -- How can you not love a country classic that begins with the line, "I got the hunnnnn-gries for your love"? One of my favorite tunes by the boy from Bakersfield, a sweet, off-kilter ballad. Great stuff. 9/10

10. The Doors, "Strange Days (Thievery Corporation Remix)" -- This is an absolutely brilliant remix of a classic rock standard. I can't for the life of me remember where i found this, but I'm glad I did. The music is entirely new, but Morrison's vocals seem to be tailor-made for it. Or perhaps vice versa. Whatever. 9/10

Alright, that gives me an even 7.0 average. After weeks and weeks of coolness audits in the 6.0 range, it's nice to finally break through to a Gentleman's C. If only I were, in fact, a gentleman.

I'm sure the rest of you yahoos can do better than that. Assuming that Blogger isn't buggered again today, please feel free to drop your own FRTs in the comments below.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kids these days

Sometimes I weep for the future.
College life isn't just about drinking beer. In a rare instance, Apple Computer Inc.'s iconic iPod music player surpassed beer drinking as the most "in" thing among undergraduate college students, according to the latest biannual market research study by Ridgewood, N.J.-based Student Monitor.
This year, drinking beer and, a social networking Web site, were tied for second most popular, with 71 percent of the students identifying them as "in."

I hate to say it, but what this generation needs is good beer war.


After much anticipation, the 2006 World Cup is set to begin tomorrow.

In order to whet your appetite, here are a couple video montages from YouTube. (Please note: The visuals are amazing, but the music is a little too Eurotrashy for my tastes. Proceed with the mute button handy.)

First, an amazing set of clips highlighting the skills of Ronaldinho, the best player in the game today.

Second, a montage of the Brazilian team, the reigning champions and the odds-on favorites to win again.

Last, but certainly not least, a nice set of highlights from Team USA.

The U.S. has a really tough road ahead of them, with a placement in the Group of Death alongside powerhouses like Italy and the Czech Republic, and it's a real possibility they might not advance out of the first round. Of course, that's what it looked like last time, too, and they stunned the world with an impressive run.

If I were any more pumped for the Cup, I'd probably stroke out from pure joy.

Q: What do terrorists do when they run out of cars?

A: Donkey bomb
Security forces thwarted a bombing in a southern Afghan town by capturing a donkey laden with explosives and a man who was plotting to blow up the animal in a rebel attack, a government spokesman said Thursday.

Blow your mind

This is too cool.

Good Freakin' Riddance

Sicko jackass terrorist Abu Zarqawi got a cap busted in his ass.
[U.S. Gen.] Casey said Zarqawi's identify was confirmed by "fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars."His statement was met by applause among Iraqi reporters assembled in a briefing room. The announcement, which was confirmed by a Website linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq, was also met by celebratory gunfire in the streets of Baghdad.
If I had an M-16, I'd be shooting it into the air right now too.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Film Forum

It's been awhile since I've thrilled the world with my latest Netflix rentals, so I thought I might as well share the love once again.

Wattstax (1973): This is a legendary concert film, recording a huge concert marking the anniversary of the 1965 Watts riots in L.A. It features stellar performances by Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, the Dramatics, and many more. The music clips are phenomenal and quite revealing -- I had no idea the Bar Kays hailed from the third moon of Saturn, for instance -- but the highlight of the film are the interviews with black Angelenos that intersperse the music cuts. Richard Pryor has some very funny improv bits there, but the guy who floored me was Ted Lange. Just a few years before he became the grinning, advice-shilling bartender to middle-class white couples on The Love Boat, he was sittin' around rappin' about all the jive-ass shit that The Man was doin'. Hysterical.

Paradise Now (2005): Justly nominated for a slew of awards last year, this film tells the story of the paths taken by two would-be suicide bombers from the Palestinian Territory. This isn't the simplistic "pro-bomber" film that many on the right made it out to be, but rather a more nuanced approach. In the end, the film raises a lot of questions about the fundamental problems with the West Bank occupation and the futility of terrorist resistance against it in equal measure. The visuals are starkly beautiful, and the acting by all the leads solid. Quite nice.

Network (1976): I must have watched this classic film a half dozen times by now, and it just gets better every time. The script by Paddy Chayevsky and direction by Sidney Lumet are both fantastic, but the acting really steals the show. William Holden, Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch are all brilliant in the leads, while Ned Beatty and Robert Duvall give stellar turns in supporting roles. (Beatty's messianic boardroom speech to Finch may be one of the greatest moments in the history of film.) The only thing that makes the film sour a little is the fact that so much of what they satirized about the lowest common denominator instincts of the corporate media have now come true, and then some.

That's it for me lately -- some of us work for a living, dammit! -- but throw your thoughts about these films, or whatever else you've been watching lately, down in the comments.

Gay Panic

In honor of yesterday's celebration of the Day of the Beast, the Republican Party unveiled their 2006 campaign strategy, a nice mishmash of hate and divisiveness that will surely please their Dark Lord. (No, I'm not talking about Cheney.)

The first step was a classic bit of Republican fearmongering, the constitutional amendment against gay marriage. As we all know, the Constitution is currently suffering from a surplus of rights, responsibilities and rules for good governance, and it's high time we cram some good old fashioned discrimination and hatred into it.

Thankfully, we have a new batch of small-government conservatives who are more than happy to get the federal government into the marriage business. While I think Sen. Rick Santorum's bill concerning the regulation of DJ playlists for wedding receptions -- the "No Parking on the Dance Floor Act of 2006" -- is unnecessary, I do applaud Sen. Wayne Allard's efforts to outsource the construction and maintenance of our nation's wedding cakes to Halliburton. With new pieces of legislation like these, we can finally rest easy knowing that Big Brother is cuddled up with us in our bedrooms every single night. But not in a gay way.

Tragically, it seems that the cornerstone of the new Global War on Fabulousness has failed to win enough votes in the Senate.
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, dealing an embarrassing defeat to President Bush and Republicans who hoped to use the measure to energize conservative voters on Election Day.

Supporters knew they wouldn't achieve the two-thirds vote needed to approve a constitutional amendment, but they had predicted a gain in votes over the last time the issue came up, in 2004. Instead, they lost one vote for the amendment in a procedural test tally that ended up 49-48.

"We were hoping to get over 50 percent, but that didn't happen today," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., one of the amendment's supporters. "Eventually, Congress is going to have to catch up to the wisdom of the American people or the American people will change Congress for the better."

"We're not going to stop until marriage between a man and a woman is protected," said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
Well, clearly, our straight marriages are in jeopardy. Just the other night, Malibu Stacy and I were out having a lovely marital dinner when we were brutally assaulted by the sight of two middle-aged men in a loving, longterm relationship -- and they were, with God as my witness, holding hands! (I apologize if you're eating lunch as you read about such an unspeakable horror.) At the time, I was so overwhelmed by the spiteful viciousness of their gay love that I almost divorced my wife on the spot and ran off with our waitress Julia. Luckily, Julia hadn't brought my steak yet, so I bit down and stuck with the marriage. But, boy, it was close.

Given the very real, not-at-all-politically-motivated crisis confronting us, the abject failure of the No Gays Allowed Act of 2006 was, of course, a tragic blow to the brave men who will let nothing -- and I mean nothing, not even their first or second ex-wives -- stand in the way of their defense of marriage.

Luckily, their colleagues in the House of Representatives will soon take up the Holy Cause again. To be sure, the old Defenders of Marriage -- Bob Barr (two divorces), Newt Gingrich (two divorces and an affair), Bob Livingston (affair), and Henry Hyde ("youthful indiscretions" in his 40s) -- are no longer manning the ramparts. But Majority Leader John Boehner (R-No Giggling) is set to take up the good fight soon enough. Godspeed, you hatemonger. Godspeed.

Until the next vote, the fight is being waged on the airwaves. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out Bill Bennett's appearance on The Daily Show last night. I think we can all agree that Bennett took a bit of a gamble in going on the show, but he acquitted himself well:
Stewart: So why not encourage gay people to join in in that family arrangement if that is what provides stability to a society?

Bennett: Well I think if people are already members of families...

Stewart: What? (almost spitting out his drink)

Bennett: They're sons and they're daughters..

Stewart: So that's where the buck stops, that's the gay ceiling.

Bennett: Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart: I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.
With Bill Bennett standing guard against the assault on traditional values and, of course, watching out for a chance to take the Hard Eight on a new roller, I think we can all sleep the sleep of angels. Straight angels.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

And the march of evil continues...

I lack the words to describe the unspeakable horror of this montage of Rosie O'Donnell acting like a retarded person. You'll just have to watch for yourself. But do it quickly, because a just God won't let this sin stand for long.

Save Me, Jeebus!

As long as we're observing today's Beelzebubbapalooza, I thought you'd like to know that the scoreboard is currently reading Lions 1, Christians 0:
KIEV (Reuters) - A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.

"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.

"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."
I'm no theologian, but I've got to think the "if he exists" part was where he went wrong. God saves the faithful, but the agnostics can apparently cram it with walnuts.


According to the calendar, today is 06/06/06 -- the Day of the Beast.

Now, I'm sure there's some sort of ominous significance here if you're the kind of person who would suffer through all 48 installments of the Left Behind series or who believes that the Virgin Mary would manifest herself in an oil stain down at the Jiffy Lube. But I'm having a hard time getting worked up about it.

Instead, in honor of Thrillhous and His Minions, I'd like to propose that we honor this day in a dignified and proper way, celebrating it as the National Day of Slayer.

(Warning: There's sound at that link. Oh, brother, you'd better believe there's sound.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Advice to the Graduates

If you haven't read the full text of Stephen Colbert's graduation address at Knox College, do yourself a favor and take a look.

Here's a sample of the truthiness:
... when you enter the workforce, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-porous borders. Now I know you’re all going to say, “Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.” Yes, but here’s the thing—it’s built now. I think it was finished in the mid-70s sometime. At this point it’s a touch-up and repair job. But thankfully Congress is acting and soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem to Spansih, the next thing you know, they’ll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.

So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. That may not be enough—maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It’s time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls.

Fooled Again

Over at the American Prospect, Charles Pierce has an absolutely beautiful response to the National Review's list of the top 50 conservative rock songs.

I took a swing at the same list in this post, but after reading Pierce's perfect snark, I would hereby like my comments stricken from the record and replaced with a teary-eyed salute to his greatness. Take this sample:
Consider, for example, the bowline that [NR's John] Miller makes of himself over “Sympathy For The Devil,” checking in at No. 3, and described as “The Screwtape Letters of rock,” possibly because it has the word “devil” in its title, which would make the Duke basketball team The Screwtape Letters of next year’s NCAA tournament. “The devil,” Miller says, “is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism.” First of all, no kidding. “Sweetheart,” says John Milton in the Beyond, “get me rewrite!”
Trust me on this one. Go.

(Thanks to TBogg for finding this.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Caption Contest

It's been a busy weekend, but there's always time for a caption contest.

Here's a nice shot of the Incredible Shrinking President. Have at him.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Yes, friends, at long last, you can enjoy the soothing experience of a New York City taxi ride from the comfort of your own home. No longer will you have to pretend to need a ride to Grand Central in order to get all the latest full-throated, half-brained opinions on the Yankees, the Knicks, and, of course, the CIA agents who are using gamma radiation to control the pigeon population in Battery Park.

I can't imagine this album was a big seller when it came out back in the '50. "Hey, ma! An album of cabbie wisdom! I wonder if this has that rare ethnic slur we heard on 48th Street? I sure hope it has that authentic cabbie smell of cherry air freshener, b.o., and slow-simmering rage!" Sure, maybe if it was a couple decades later and this guy were on the cover instead. Now that's an album I'd buy.

Speaking of homespun New York wisdom, it's time for me to dispense with yet another Friday Random Ten. Here goes:

1. Ike and Tina Turner, "River Deep, Mountain High" -- One of the better songs from this dysfunctional duo. If you listen closely, you can hear Ike keeping time by beating a backup singer with his Italian loafers. 8/10

2. Lou Reed, "Romeo Had Juliette" -- Most of Reed's solo work doesn't really do it for me, but the New York album was a welcome surprise. I remember getting a copy of this in high school, loving it, and working my way backward into the Velvet Underground years from there. Still works for me. 7/10

3. R.E.M., "Leaving New York" -- Huh. Start off with the NYC cabbie jokes, and two of the first three songs are NYC related. I've always loved R.E.M., but I've been forced to admit that the band really lost a step with the departure of drummer Bill Berry a few albums ago. Everything since then has just been a little flat. This song isn't exactly bad, but it's not exactly great either. 5/10

4. Dizzy Gillespie, "Manteca (Funky Lowlives Remix)" -- I swear I heard this during the Nacho Libre previews the other day. An odd choice for a film about a Mexican wrestler, since the most prominent lyric is "I'll never go back to Georgia!" But this is a great tune, and an inspired remix. 10/10

5. De La Soul, "Peas Porridge Hot" -- Although I love De La Soul is Dead, this is one of the more uninspired songs on the album, with some craptacular skit material intruding throughout and a subpar rhythm to boot. Eh. 4/10

6. Kolar Goi, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Computer" -- Although the title might suggest a nice electronica reworking of Ennio Morricone's genius work, this is really just a cacophonous waste. I'm reminded of a classic SNL sketch, in which Phil Hartman's Sinatra explained that he couldn't understand a word being spoken by Chris Rock's Luther Campbell: "I got nothin' here. Just pops and clicks." 3/10

7. The Whatnauts, "Why Can't People Be Colors Too?" -- A great bit of early '70s funk from a completely forgotten band. If that doesn't spike the Cool-o-Meter, then it's time to check the batteries. 10/10

8. The Posies, "Second Time Around" -- I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever listened to this track. And it might just be the last. 3/10

9. Brownie McGhee, "Anna Mae" -- Some great, late '50s blues from a legend. It's rare to hear McGhee without his longtime partner Sonny Terry right by his side, but here we have it. What the song lacks in inspiration, it more than makes up for it in energy. 7/10

10. Gilberto Gil, "Bat Macumba" -- This is a great example of what the kids down Latin America way would call "tropicália," a Brazilian blend of bossanova, American rock, African folk, and Portuguese fado. Apparently, the Brazilian government actually considered the music a threat to their regime in the late '60s. All I know is, this is scorching stuff. 10/10

Man, I was all over the place today. Three perfect tens, and I still wound up with yet another 6.7 average. In honor of the forthcoming, creepy remake of The Omen, I'll just round that down to a 6.66 and be done with it.

Alright, let's see what you've got. Drop your own random ten in the comments below. Remember, the coolness self-audit is optional, as is the Satan worshipping. Hail Sagan!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Black Helicoptors

I've been trying my darndest to come up with some kind of great joke about this article, but I just can't top the words coming out of Wayne LaPierre's mouth.
Duku Paul does not know how many people he has killed. Though still young, he is a veteran of one of West Africa's nastiest civil wars. For more than a decade, he helped to burn, loot and bloody his homeland, Liberia. Then, in 2003, the United Nations, with American backing, brought peace. Bangladeshi blue helmets took Mr Paul's gun and gave him $300. Interviewed last year, he said he was sorry that he ever became a soldier, and that he wanted to get back to school.

Mr Paul was enrolled in what the UN calls a “disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration” programme. The world body is keen to promote such programmes wherever appropriate. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the lobby for American gun-lovers, does not like the sound of that.

“So, after we are disarmed, the UN wants us demobilised and reintegrated. I can hear it now: ‘Step right this way for your reprogramming, sir. Once we confiscate your guns, we can demobilise your aggressive instincts and reintegrate you into civil society.’ No thanks,” shudders Wayne LaPierre, the indefatigable executive vice-president of the NRA.

Why does the UN want to take away Americans' guns? Because it is a club of governments, some of which want to “strip opposition forces of the means to challenge their authority,” argues Mr LaPierre.


For a truly all-embracing threat, however, the UN is hard to beat. Mr LaPierre predicts that the “global war on guns” will boost the NRA's membership from 4m to 8m, and reduce Hillary Clinton's chances of becoming president in 2008. This last point is crucial. The UN, whatever its evil aims, is hardly in a position to push Uncle Sam around. To disarm Americans, it would need Congress on its side, plus an American president willing to sign an anti-gun treaty and appoint Supreme Court justices willing to rule it constitutional.

Mr LaPierre anticipates that some people might find this far-fetched. “I can hear some readers now: ‘Oh, Wayne's just over-reacting’,” he writes. But that is what they want you to believe. “Just how sure is the United Nations that it can take your guns?” he asks. His answer: “The UN chose the Fourth of July to hold its global gun ban summit on American soil!”

Mission Accomplished!

Although there was a flurry of elevated terror alert warnings in New York and Washington a couple years ago -- a spasm of paranoia that suddenly and mysteriously ended in early November 2004 for some reason -- it now seems that those two cities are finally in the clear!

The Washington Post -- I'm pretty sure that's a weekly newspaper from a small American town in, uh, Virginia? -- has this report:
The Department of Homeland Security yesterday slashed anti-terrorism money for Washington and New York, part of an immediately controversial decision to reduce grant funds for major urban areas in the Northeast while providing more to mid-size cities from Jacksonville to Sacramento.

The announcement that the two cities targeted on Sept. 11, 2001, would suffer 40 percent reductions in urban security funds prompted outrage from lawmakers and local officials in both areas, who questioned the wisdom of cutting funds so deeply for cities widely recognized as prime terrorist targets. The decision came less than five months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff unveiled changes in the grants plan intended to focus funding on areas facing the gravest risk of attack.
Yes, as we all know, the terrorists would like nothing more than to get their hands on the infidel fashion sense of Jacksonvillians, or perhaps strike at America's much-beloved Golden State Warriors. (Seriously, Jacksonville?!? I spent a month there one weekend. We should try to lure the terrorists there as punishment.)

Actually, if you take a closer look at how DHS allocated the money, these decisions make perfect sense:
New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.
Christ, you'd have to be an idiot to think that there was anything significant in New York for the terrorists to want to hit. There are obviously no landmarks, no financial institutions, no media conglomerates, nothing like that. Furthermore, the city clearly has no pride of place in American culture. Seriously, can you think of one song about New York? Or one TV show that was set in New York? I know I can't! If they ever attacked New York, I bet you'd have to tell most Americans what state it's in.

And Washington? Pfft. Don't even get me started on that backwoods hillbillytown. Down there in Maryland, or Alabama, or whatever piddly little state it's in, they probably don't even have shoes, much less targets worthy of terrorism. Sheesh.

Anyway, thank the Lord that our intelligent and wise leaders in the Nation's Capitol -- which is located in Sacramento, of course -- have finally decided to spread the money around wisely. Sure, we all knew that the metropolis of Tiptonville, TN, was flush with Homeland Security cash, but what about North Haverbrook or Ogdenville? And what about Brockway? The Dairy Queen out on Route 12 is just beggin' to get hit, and the volunteer fire department only has sixteen Hazmat suits! God help the handful of people there if al-Qaeda can find it on a map and then attack!

Meanwhile, those people who live in New York and Washington? Welcome to Threat Level Oscar.

Old Man: Scantily Clad Underage Girl Made Him Do It

Mrs. Thrillhous passed this delightful article on to me this morning.
HAUSER (AP) — Well, she LOOKED 21 anyway, maybe older, and what’s more the clerk at the small store in this Coos County town says he was much distracted by what he called the young lady’s scanty attire. So distracted, he said, that he didn’t see the “Minor until 2007’’ stamped on her driver’s license. She got the six-pack, and store owner David Cardwell got a $1,320 fine. The clerk had to pay $750. Rather than pay, Cardwell says, he will take the alternative and close the store for a week. . . . His clerk had been stung by an Oregon Liquor Control Commission decoy sent to test for underage sales.
As the wife said, at least this guy's name is appropriate.

Then I got to thinking, what a classy guy this is. His employee is so busy looking at some girl's bazongas that he doesn't do his job, and the store owner blames the girl? I don't like to get to religious around here, but has my boy Cardwell read Genesis? Does he know what God thinks of guys who try to blame women for their own lack of self control?

Note that while he defends his employee against this libidinous harlot (he says later in the article that he'd never let his daughter leave the house dressed like that - yeah, and no teenagers ever change their appearance after they're out the door), there's no indication he's going to pay the guy's $750 fine. He's just going to close up shop - depriving his employees of their source of income.

On top of all that, I am annoyed by this guy's sense of entitlement. A liquor license is not a right (which the liquor commission notes in this other report on the incident), and if this guy can't handle ID'ing cute girls, he should turn in his liquor license.