27 February 2007

NMT: 27 FEB 07 The Feeling --- Twelve Stops & Home

This isn't the review yet, but it's coming, and you really don't want to know why this will be late, cause if I told you then you'd complain about TMI, but let's just say that the words 'watery' and 'stool' would figure prominently in the explanation.

I've Got More Power Than I Thought

Just noticed that the Wiki for the Spirit Awards more accurately reflects the location where they are held now.

I'm not going to say my post had anything to do with it, but . . .

Of course, if you read my past post, you'll think I'm the one who doesn't know what the hell they're talking about rather than the collective authors of that Wiki.

Now, speaking of Wikis, the Wiki for Santa Monica oddly doesn't mention the politics of this town. I think many people know about its reputation as one of the most "progressive" communities in the country, and the moniker "People's Republic of Santa Monica" doesn't appear at all (at the link, a good article on some of that phenomenon from Kevin Roderick), nor a reference to rent control (a Cato report at the link on how rent control tends to achieve the exact opposite of the intended goal, namely creating plentiful, cheap and fair housing) and all the controversies swirling around that practice. Also missing is a reference to Harry Shearer's term for the place, "Home of the Homeless", as a matter of fact, the rather significant homeless population hereabouts isn't mentioned at all.

Passing strange, that omission.

Words Fail

I have no words to describe my disgust at the reactions to the recent attack in Bagram.

Michelle Malkin does a good job of rounding up stuff.

It's vile, dark, twisted, and I suppose wonderful that we live in a society free enough where these insane people feel free to spout their venom.

Each one of them should spend one day unprotected in the exercise yard at GTMO and see how well they're treated by those wonderful folks they seem to support and have far more sympathy for than their own elected leaders.

Are there folks out there dreaming of a President Pelosi and plotting ways to make it happen?

(given the Democratic Party's unwillingness to step up to the plate and begin impeachment hearings (which I'm for as it would expose their empty rhetoric and lies as empty rhetoric and lies, start the hearings immediately, I say), that leaves the bloodier method as the only option)

Also, I doubt Taliban remnants/Al Qaeda knew in advance that Cheney was there, they just 'spun' the attack as a direct attack on the Vice President as a way to make themselves seem more together and threatening than they really are.

Much of the press will most likely help the Taliban with their spin, though. It was yet another attack by Muslim extremist that succeeded in killing or maiming mostly Muslims. Despite being perceived as being on a genocidal mission to wipe Islam from the face of the planet (as some would have you believe), our military has been severely outpaced in the killing of Muslims when compared to Al Qaeda and other extremists groups.

26 February 2007

Slightly Random Helen Mirren-centric Thoughts Subsequent to the Oscar Telecast

Do you think her husband, director Taylor Hackford, ever asked her to stay in her Queen Elizabeth II drag for a little, 'late night fun'?

Don't you find it a touch strange that they've never worked together?

Is their marriage in trouble?

(Best Actresses do not have a good record of staying with the men they were with after winning Best Actress, Reese, Hillary, Nicole, Halle, Gwenyth, and I think even Charlize dumped or were dumped by the guys they were with at the time of their most recent accolade)

And I didn't know her father was a Russian noble, her birth name kicks ass, Ilyena Vasilevna Mironov.

25 February 2007

Have I Run Out of Ideas . . .,

No, not just yet, but I think instead of doing the hard work of thinking and composing those thoughts into coherent units, I'll point to others who have been doing a fine job of it lately.

Callimachus has an excellent and ongoing series regarding post war Germany (I, II, III, IV), and its similarities (and dissimilarities) to our current experiences in Iraq, read it, you'll likely learn something. I don't link to Done With Mirrors often enough, it's not that they both don't have a lot to say, but I assume for some reason that the small set of readers here maintains a one to one relationship with readers over there. If you're picturing a venn diagram (and why wouldn't you be?), I'd be that small dot being utterly consumed by Done With Mirrors' impressive oval.

Speaking of excellent series, Victoria banged out a nice series of posts (start from the bottom, and work your way up (and no, that's not some sort of veiled sexual reference on how to best handle a Brazilian women, though come to think of it, probably not a bad suggestion)) regarding Rio's Carnival. It's an annual event in Rio, and it's an annual event on the blogosphere. It would be preferable to be at the actual Carnival, no doubt, but Victoria's recaps make for a solid second best.

Victor David Hanson revisits his Mexifornia, and finds that he was more prescient than he could have ever imagined back when he wrote it.

If you missed the Oscars, count yourself amongst the lucky. If you want to know what happened, just read the Fug Girls 'liveblog' that they posted for New York Magazine.

Tammy Bruce lets the unnamed anonymous generals mentioned in this Times of London piece have it. There will be a Grant who will step up, if a Grant is what is needed (plus the article makes it seem like the entire US military will rise up and kill Pres. Bush if he orders an attack on Iran, whereas most likely this story is just 4-5 career paper pushers (and partisan Democrats) are trying to embarrass the President). Folks with high level clearance and access to classified documents should refrain from being anonymous sources. I don't care who's president at the time, it's a disgusting, cowardly tactic that is only ever done for political reasons and generally weakens trust and security and I can't remember a single time when it's been an honest and true example of 'whistleblowing'.

Just noticed this resembles a "You Ain't Wrong" post like I used to do back in the day (but without the gimmick).

Speaking of Ain't Wrong, folks who said that 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour was really, really bad, They Ain't Wrong (unwatchable, but the new Malkin/Powers thing, not so bad, and Red Eye is surprisingly not bad, but not quite good just yet).

Now I know why I don't do these posts anymore, it makes more sense to turn something like this into 7 separate posts rather than one. Plus digging up all those links is a pain, I really need to be better about saving permalinks of interesting articles as I read them.

21 February 2007

But Only a Little Excessive

I find clowns deeply irritating but surely lethal force is a little excessive.

I have to agree with that, being a clown is offensive, but it's not a capital offense, and it's not like I suffer from this, or anything.

Speaking of clowns, Shakes the Clown really is "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies", and should be immediately added to your netflix queue if you haven't seen it before.

Maybe Bill Should Adopt Britney

(via Drudge on both counts)

Maybe Bill should adopt Britney.

I know she's already an adult, and mother of two, but she hasn't ever really acted like an adult, and seems disinterested in mothering at the moment.

Plus, judging from that article, Mr. Gates seems like an engaged and attentive parent despite leading a pretty busy and productive life himself.

I like how he turned the comments into an ad for Vista's parental control features as well as XBox 360's engrossing game for 'children of all ages' Viva Pinata.

But back to Bill and Britney, girl needs help, one day in and out sessions at pricey rehab centers aren't going to cut it. She needs to grow up, but before she grows up, maybe she needs to be a kid first, and I don't think she got the opportunity to ever be a kid thanks to the mommy/manager she was unfortunate enough to have been born to.

Never cared for her in any way (her music was always pretty bad), but I can care for her as a human being, she's an unfolding tragedy headed to some real dark territory if something doesn't happen soon.

So if Bill Gates adopted her, and her two sons, I think maybe she'd learn what it's like for someone to tell her, "NO!" and mean it. She needs structure, reason and firmness, all things that she seems to have lacked for awhile now.

And next time you get lice in your extensions, call up these good folks (bet they'd love to get a celebrity endorsement) don't go grabbing some stylist's shears while they're not looking.

PS: I've been loving Vista so far, there's been a few hiccups along the way (a few drivers still don't exist, but everything still works), but it does provide a better desktop environment than Windows XP, and on the Premium edition, the Media Center coupled with an ATI TV Wonder 650 card (both HD OTA and NTSC tuners built in) rocks.

20 February 2007

Metaphor That Tells You Far More About the Author's Viewing Habits Than You'd Ever Want to Know

Buried within this epic lengthed Bill Simmons, Page 2 over at ESPN.com is this nugget

To LeBron James, who coasted through the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday and played the All-Star Game with the uplifting, charismatic intensity of a female porn star trying to break one of those "most male partners in one afternoon" records. Could we end up putting him in the "Too Much, Too Soon" Pantheon some day? Will he become the basketball version of Eddie Murphy, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and every other celeb who became famous too quickly and eventually burned out?

Thanks for that mental image, fella, appreciate it (bolding was my, doing, by the way).

Also, howdy neighbor!, Bill Simmons' driving distance to Vegas is pretty similar to my own, so I suspect he resides somewhere on the westside.

NMT: 20 FEB 07 Ojos De Brujo --- Techari

Ojos De Brujo --- Techari

[update: 21 Feb 07, 3:20pm, Just realized I flipped my usual of order of things, to make it clear, the band's name is Ojos De Brujo (ODB for short, though there is only one 'real' ODB, god rest his soul), and this most recent album is Techari, sorry if anyone was confused]

There's a bit of witchery going on in this brew. It's an unusual mix of a wide variety of influences and flamenco (the flamenco influence is strong in almost every track, but the added elements vary widely from track to track). It doesn't always work, but it doesn't fail to entertain, even when it's slightly off. Has to be heard to be understood, I think.

1) Color
Horns, and fat bass line don't mix all that well with flamenco rhythms. It's not bad, but it's just a bit messy in parts.

2) Sultans De Merkaillo
A more straight forward Flamenco style treatment, with some turntable scratching thrown in for accent. A much better marriage of hip-hop elements and flamenco than the first song. This I like.

3) Todo Tiende
This song makes a more explicit connection between flamenco and its Arabic/Indian roots. Has an interesting bhangra beat, mixed with traditional style flamenco vocals, mixed with rap en espanol. That's a lot of different meats in the same stew. It works just the same, barely.

4) Runali
Normally I comment on the lyricism of a song, but my Spanish is too rusty, and rapped Spanish doesn't make it easier to follow the meaning of a song, so I can only focus on song structure and execution. Luckily this song is strong in all those areas. This song has some lyrics in English, but they're mostly meaningless, more rap+flamenco, the flamenco is stronger than the rap on this song, but the rap doesn't destroy the other part (doesn't add a whole lot, though).

5) El comfort No Reconforta
The rapstyle on this album sounds a lot more like Mexican roqenespanol acts than Spanish, but most Mexican bands don't look to flamenco and Arabic music to set their raps within. It's an interesting marriage of styles.

6) Tanguillos Marineros
Pretty straight forward flamenco, a touch too much like any other flamenco you might here, not bad, but not great.

7) Silencio
This is pretty good song. Another more or less flamenco-ish song, with a jungle-ish break in the middle just to shake things up. It works pretty well.

8) No Somos Maquinas
The musicianship on this album is excellent throughout, it really shines on this track.

9) Bailaores
Befitting the title, it's hard not to tap your feet and get the itch to get up and do a bit of dancing yourself to this song.

10) Corre Lola Corre
Of course you knew there'd be a reggae tinged song in here somewhere, didn't you? Well this is it, doesn't work for me, it's by the numbers reggaeness doesn't cut it.

11) Feedback
A marriage between flamenco and traditional Indian sounds. Those two worlds aren't so far apart, and it's all surrounded by a bit of a fusion jazz thing going on with the guitar and melody. In this case, all those flavors make for a tasty stew.

12) Piedra Vs. Tanques
More good stuff, another meeting of roqenespanol with flamenco, works just fine.

13) Respira
This is one of the better tracks on the album, it's got a sexy little whisper, some interesting syncopation (I'm a sucker for properly executed off-beatness), and has the proper mix of modern sounds with traditional vocal methods.

14) Nana
Straight up, no fooling flamenco guitar kicks off this track. After all that precedes, you know to expect the song to head somewhere else, and you'd be mostly wrong. It's pretty much a straight flamenco song ( . . . . . . . followed by nearly a minute of silence and some Indian style vocalizing at the very end, didn't think folks still put in 'hidden bonus tracks' in this iPod era).

I liked it, liked it quite a bit, though when I first listened, thought the vocals were a bit too nasally, but this is flamenco singing, there's no such thing as too nasally.

Ballot Stuffing, TheNMN, and Blogrolls

Its time for some serious ballot stuffing. The King of YouTube, aka TheNMN (found his blog, finally), posted a new video (above), and he's looking for suggestions for HNIC '07.

The poll already includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (three cheers for originalism!!)amongst the possibilities, and I say he ought to win (though Gary Coleman makes a very strong second choice).

Also, I'm linking and blogrolling his blog. He's been blogging for a year, says many things with which I disagree with vehemently, but says them in an entertaining way. I prefer blogs that say things I don't like well over blogs that say things I agree with poorly. But that's just me. I understand the political stance he's taking by calling himself The New Millenium N***a, but it's a stance I don't agree with.

I am one of those people who if given the position of HNIC would ban the use of the term that begins with "N".

I blame my grandma, she was born on a sharecropper farm in Hope Arkansas. She was mostly black (her mother was part Cherokee, had long straight hair that she always wished had made it into her gene set), was the most dignified, sweet, honest and strong person you would ever likely to meet. And would never, ever allow anyone within ear shot of her to get away with using that word.

I don't understand folks being comfortable with that word, yet TheNMN refers to himself as such, and seems to be pretty cogent and self aware (if leaning towards the Marxist, we all can't be perfect).

But back to the ballot stuffing, Justice Thomas needs to be the HNIC '07, so go and rock the vote.

On a side note, I've been tweaking the blogroll some, expanding and subtracting, mostly it reflects my daily reads, except where it doesn't. Also, new blogger makes that stuff too easy, so tweaking becomes addictive.

19 February 2007

A Modest Proposal on Stemming Global Warming

There is no greater existential threat faced by mankind of the magnitude of man-made Global Warming.

Within years, sea levels are likely to rise by feet, and by the middle of this century, expect sea levels to rise by meters, not centimeters.

I know it's true, I've seen it in an award winning film touted by the world's most important person.

Obviously, everyone should do everything they can on a personal level to limit their carbon emissions. I myself hold my breath for up to a minute at least five times a day as a way of trying to help improve my personal 'carbon footprint'.

But holding our breaths, and stamping our feet, no matter how convincingly and sincerely we do this in the developed west, won't offset the great Gaia destroying potential that could be unleashed should prosperity levels continue to rise in India and China.

One unfortunate side effect of prosperity is increased energy demand and consumption. Until scientists perfect solar power constructed from purely organic, non-toxic, non-genetically modified, and sustainable compounds using skilled union artisans to construct said power cells, there is no source of power generation that shouldn't be opposed with phenomenal and fanatical vehemence. For example, coal, if anything in this postmodern world could still be described as evil, coal would be it, petroleum, see coal, nuclear power, it's too industrial to be trusted, accidents are sure to happen, and then the whole world is doomed, windmills, they are inefficient and kill birds, tidal harnesses, they harm views and are unproven, hydroelectric, they destroy the fisheries of migrating fish, and are also aesthetically undesirable, biodiesel, it shows promise, but it's too much like petroleum to be trusted.

So in other words, there is no way to generate electricity without exacerbating the problem, so on a global basis we must find an acceptable manner at reducing demand now and in the foreseeable future. It's for the good of all humanity, and the survival of the very planet depends on it.

My modest proposal for solving this intractable problem?


We must direct intensive espionage efforts at both the Chinese and Indian governments and provoke those two nations into a war. It's the planet's only hope. Once these two behemoths start sending wave and wave of their own citizens to death in a long war against each other, the problems caused by man-made emissions will disappear. I wish we lived in a world where we could encourage these people to become more prosperous, and more free, but unfortunately, that's not the world we live in. The world we live in is one where people can't be trusted, and they must be fought as a disease that infects the purity of Gaia.

Don't let recent reports of increased dialogue between these countries dissuade us from doing what is needed. No matter how much it may seem as if these countries would be crazy to attack each other, it must be the top priority of anyone interested in saving this planet to make this conflict happen, ASAP.

As an added benefit of this conflict, given both countries have access to nuclear bombs, there should be at the endgame of their conflict a nuclear exchange. If they manage to create just enough of a Nuclear Winter to counterbalance the ongoing Global Warming, then their sacrifice of a billion or so souls between the two countries should help rectify the precarious position we see ourselves in with regards to Global Warming.

It's a modest proposal, I admit, but one that all the world governments should turn their attention to, and make this happen.

There will be hardships outside of India and China, tech calls will go unanswered, Wal-Mart shelves will be harder to fill with product, but we live in dire times, and everyone must expect somebody else to shoulder an onerous burden, if we are to save our poor sick Gaia.

I get no pleasure out of suggesting that the world community conspire in the slaughter of over a billion people, but no other alternative suggested could possibly be effective in rectifying this dire, dangerous, and existentially threatening dilemma we are faced with.

Now That's A Punchline

When I read today's Sally Forth, I thought to myself, "Self, it seems unlikely that Wikipedia would have an entry for "raging kegger", it would be far more appropriate to search for that term in the not family newspaper appropriate Urban Dictionary"

But, somebody realized the problem, and rectified the situation.

(I hope this stays up, I should probably screen cap the page)

That Restaurant is at the corner of "Dead German Philosopher Tosser" and "Dead North Korean Dictator Tosser" Avenues

A reflection upon street names in Mozambique.

Which really shouldn't be a surprise considering their flag still has the image of star, a hoe, a book (which isn't little and red, thankfully) and an AK-47.


The imaginary Fabulous Place Holders album, Post Pending, that I've been enjoying for the past week but didn't create a proper review for (but the imaginary review that I didn't post is brilliant), will shortly be replaced by a review of an actual album that was actually released last week.

It's a good one, too, so check back to that post, and enjoy my insights into some good sounds.

In other blog news, I've decided to recommit myself to the notion of 'proposals', and will try harder to craft a new one on a nearly weekly basis.

It's been too long, and there are still so many problems that require crazy ideas to fix them, so expect to see some in the future on topics as diverse as the Venezuelan economy, PS3 marketing, the presidential primary season, the best methods for removing navel lint, the proper use of the US Navy, and global warming (some of those might be fake, afterall there's nothing that needs to be fixed in the Venezuelan economy that Chavez isn't already doing, right?)

I'm still open to others sending in their own 'proposals' which I will add to my own list, but that's probably wishful thinking until I build significant traffic.

18 February 2007

More NBA All Star Stuff

Siegried and Roy?!?

(good thing Tim Hardaway wasn't there, he would have passed out from the vapors)

A Wayne Newton robot?!?

(seriously, I don't think that was an actual Wayne Newton, just some sort of plastic/machine hybrid made to appear as if it were a Wayne Newton)

(it moved OK, but the lip-syncing was off, they'll have to fix that for the 2.0 model)

This is not the way to begin a basketball game.

Usually the All-Star game is the least interesting aspect of All-Star Weekend.

The 3-point shoot out is the highlight for me, Kapono shot lights out this time.

To Edit, Or Not To Edit, That Is The Question

Tis it nobler to edit an error you find on a Wiki Page, or are somethings not worth bothering about.

The page in question, the (surprisingly) sparse Wiki regarding the Independent Spirit Awards. The error, they list the event as being held in Los Angeles, California, whereas for as long as I can remember the event has been held in Santa Monica.

I know to those outside of the region, most folks would see that as a distinction without a difference, but the two places aren't interchangeable.

Speaking of the Spirit Awards, noticed that only Platoon was honored with both their Best Picture nod, and the Oscar. So if Little Miss Sunshine wins on Saturday, expect it to be passed by on Sunday.

The lovely and talented Sarah Silverman hosts the show for the second time this year, for those with cable it can be watched live on IFC 2pm PST, or on tape delay (and with profanity deleted) on AMC 10pm. Previously the lovely and talented John Waters had hosting duties, but Sarah didn't do a bad job last year, and she's on a roll lately, so expect good things (along with plenty of profanity and probably some Boooosh bashing thrown in).

The films they're honoring look mostly unwatchable. 'Indie film' is just a codeword for 'dysfunctional families and or people do dysfunctional things in mostly depressing ways shot with a hand held camera'.

Hopefully Pan's Labyrinth wins their Best Picture, it would be the second foreign language pic to do so (and that film deserved a Best Picture nod from the Academy as well).

Also, I've never thought it a good idea to gather a bunch of high profile folks in a tent on the beach, but that's just my imagination getting the best of me (to elaborate further might give the wrong folks dangerous ideas).

17 February 2007

I Wonder . . .

What would the first half of 1943 have looked like had the Republicans in loyal opposition to a wartime Democratic president behaved in a manner similar to the current crop of Congress Critters?

Equally worth exploring, what would our media have done with the events of Jan-Jun 1943 on the various fronts of WWII.

Counter-factuals can never be proven wrong, or right, that's why they are useless, fun, uninformative, thought-provoking, contradictory, and a way at exploring deeper truths that are difficult to reach any other way.

That's probably a project with someone with a deeper memory and expertise with regards to the actual events of that time period.

But daily posts, using the historical record, and then retelling them as they happen, from the perspective of a war-hating press and a second guessing, micro-managing Congress, would probably hold many lessons for today.

In many ways, the WWII was already over by mid 1943, and just beginning by then as well. There were no more major wins for the Axis after that time period, though many more battles and casualties to come, with hundreds of thousands of American soldiers meeting their deaths in the next two years.

You could argue all the US lives and treasure spent after mid-1943 was largely unecessary as Germany and Japan no longer could be considered capable of projecting a threat directly to American soil by June of 1943. By that time, Germany had ground to a halt on their Eastern Front, the Japanese Navy had been all but destroyed and Guadacanal had been captured and North Africa was well on its way to being a lost cause for the Axis powers.

This is all from the standpoint of purely American interests. Had the US quit then, and left Europeans to pick up the mess. The Final Solution would have been even more complete, Japan would have entrenched themselves and solidified their hold on their initial land grabs, and if the German collapse had continued after an early American withdrawal, then the power vacuum would have spread Soviet Communism across the entire continent. Plus depending who you believe, both Germany and Japan were working on atomic weapons programs, and given the time, and the breathing room an isolationist inspired American withdrawal would afford, might have been successful.

Those would have been dire consequences for the globe, and for America, but at least, no further lives would have been 'wasted' in a "European" or "Pacific" War that when it comes down to it, was mainly about oil (if we had sold oil to Japan and Germany and stayed completely neutral, they likely would have left us alone, we were the Saudi Arabia of the day from their perspective).

Imagine someone like Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, Sen. Biden, or god forbid Rep. Kucinich making their bleating noises back then. History would look back at them with mighty scorn.

Other bloggers have done "D-Day" (can't find a working link to it anymore, but here's an announcement regarding that particular project) from the modern perspective to humorous effect, but I think early 1943 would be more instructive.

Of course, Victor David Hanson already took a similar concept, ran with it, and scored a touchdown, but I think a more specific treatment, highlighting what similar actions by our current politicians would have sounded like and looked like to the enemy back then, would be a worthy project now.

Irasshaimase!!! いらっしゃいませ

Ate at Ramen-Ya (despite what the silhouette on their logo suggests, the waitstaff do not wear those ridiculous Japanese ' French Maid' style uniforms, mores the pity), had to get some pig in me for the pending Year of the Boar.

Their Tan Men is excellent. One thing I noticed, unless you are noticeably Asian, you will not be greeted with the customary 'Irasshaimase!!!' (three exclamation points are needed to express the enthusiasm and volume with which this phrase is put out there).

Is that discriminatory?

(of course it is, by definition, the hostess is 'discriminating' which guests would be pleased, and or expectant for a traditional greeting, and which could care less and might possibly be confused by what the hell she is shouting at them)

So even though, I probably knew as much Japanese as quite a few of the 'Japanese looking' patrons within the establishment, I wasn't greeted with the obligatory honor and deference. The neighborhood surrounding Ramen-Ya is predominately Nissei and Sansei (2nd or 3rd and beyond generation) Japanese, but the food there has a good enough reputation that folks visiting directly from Japan also eat there, so you'll see multi-generation Asian families with no Japanese speakers, white guys reading Manga (in Japanese, and usually with their straight from Japan girlfriend in the latest Japanese slutwear), and Japanese tourists/students all slurping up huge heaping bowls of noodles (and these bowls are massive, I mean, really, really huge).

I'll live, and continue to patronize that establishment (did I mention their Tan Men is really, really good?).

What struck me today (besides the warm rays of a near 90F degree day while waiting for a table) was catching out of the corner of my eye an elderly Japanese man eating his noodles with a fork. He was in a wheelchair, out with what appeared to be son, granddaughter and wife, and he had a happy smile on his face, but the way he spoke (in Japanese) sounded like he was suffering from some age related dementia. Seems like giving up the chopsticks and using a fork for your noodles would be a traumatic moment, a bit of a defeat. But then, he seemed happy, so that's all that matters. Bewilderment tends to be more bewildering to those around the bewildered then the bewildered themselves.

If There's A Queen, Why Not a King?

(via Classical Values)

The above video about the Duke Lacrosse Team Alleged Rape Case is pretty good stuff. His other videos up at YouTube are pretty solid, too.

Even though he seems pretty new to this 'vlogging' thing, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the new "King of YouTube" would be TheNMN.

Dude's pretty damn funny. Dude's got some pretty fine braids. Dude's got some decent production values. Dude's got a pretty interesting outlook. Dude might be a bit of a commie, but dude can't be perfect. Dude needs to lose the 'thinking room' gimmick, though.

(dare I do it? dare I call him the "a" word? I know better than that)

He's a very different kind of "vlogger" than Kat Dennnings, but what he does, he does well, and say something like the muched maligned (but yet to air) Fox 1/2 Hour News Hour or the soon to be renamed Red Eye would do well to hire him as their 'non-token lefty minority'. He could do sort of an anti-Andy Rooney 90 second bit at the end of each episode.

I'm sure he'd be reluctant to work for FNC, but steady paychecks have a way of convincing folks of the necessity of offering diverse viewpoints in unusual venues.

A Suggestion for the NBA

Retool the Rookie v. Sophomore contest on All Star Weekend to a Rookie & Sophomore contest.

Instead of splitting up the teams 1st year versus 2nd year, do it by Conference and make it an East v. West affair like the big boys play.

The Sophomores clearly have a huge advantage in experience, and because the Rookies get thumped each year, they are motivated to do some payback on the next crop of Rookies for their own pasting at the hands of the previous crop.

This year's thumping was an historic 155-114 massacre, even by meaningless exhibition game standards, that's pretty embarrassing.

And if I were Phil Jackson, I'd be a little upset by how many minutes Farmar and Bynum played, they seemed like they were on the court far too long.

Also, my money's on Charles, he may be large, but he's also a lot younger than Dick Bavetta (and yes, I'm going to watch this, are you crazy? How could you miss this?). I checked Bodog.com, and the 67 year old Bavetta is the prohibitive favorite, the maximum you can bet is only $100, though. $100 on Bavetta will net you a measly $133, while putting $100 on the Chuckster will get you back $315. That has to be a misprint, right? Makes me (almost) want to open up a Bodog account, risk the wrath of the federal government (Bodog has questionable legal footing to operate in the United States) and put my money on The Round Mound of Getting Up and Down the Court and Beating a 67 Year Old Man in a Foot Race.

UPDATE: 17 FEB 07, 9:09pm

I know I should have placed that $100 bet. Easy money to be made, and I left it to sit. Charles won easily, even crossed the finish line running backwards (and then promptly fell on his round mound of ass). But after catching his breath, during the ceremony offering up the $50,000 check to Boys & Girls Club, Charles proved once again why he's the best personality working in any venue on TV, he offered up this quip, "That's two hands of blackjack".

(the joke was all in the delivery, his timing was perfect)

He's Too Busy Saving the Planet to Be Bothered WIth a Piddling Little Job Like "President"

"Gore was the US negotiator for the international Kyoto Protocol that set global goals on emission of so-called greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. The protocol was agreed in 1997 and took effect in February 2005, but Bush refused to ratify it, citing its high economic cost and the fact that China and India, the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases after the United States were, as developing nations, not bound by it. "

Hey, folks, hate to tell y'all, but it wasn't Bush who "refused to ratify it", it never came to a vote in the Senate for ratification (who's constitutional responsibility is treaty ratification, with the addition of a presidential signature). While Vice-President Gore was negotiating our economic surrender, the Senate passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution refusing to participate in any scheme that doesn't include developing nations. Was the vote close? Was it just those nasty Republicans holding out? If you don't know the answers to those questions, then you've been believing everything you read (95-0 against Kyoto was the result, in case you don't remember).

Also, since 1997, the United States has done much better than Western Europe at reducing the rate of increase in carbon emissions, even while having a more robust economy. The only way the EU can claim meeting Kyoto as a whole is by pushing the origination dates for measurement back to 1990 and incorporating their formerly Eastern Bloc members in the calculations. Given the past polluting habits of Warsaw Pact nations, it was natural for those nations to see vast improvements over short time periods.

Not only is Kyoto dubious in its likely effect (given that any 'carbon' savings in the developed world would be dwarved by 'carbon' increases in China and India as they prosper), but the game was rigged from the very start to punish the United States and institute a new global bureaucracy (led by the Europeans, naturally) of 'carbon police' who would go about punishing anybody not meeting their rather arbitrary standards.

The United States has acted better on the environment than the various scolds hating on us. Furthermore, excluding the 2.4 billion folks in India and China who are playing catch-up in terms of energy consumption (again Canada and India have roughly energy use parity, while China's per capita access to kWh is miniscule).

Pres. Clinton did the right thing in ignoring this idiotic, ineffective, and hypocritical new push by Eurocrats to impose a new set of penalties on countries that don't jump through their hoops. Vice-President Gore did an awful job at pushing for a workable agreement and framework that would recognize the realities of the situation. His 'signature' on the Protocol is just an empty gesture from an empty headed politician (how many other Vice-Presidents went around signing Protocols/Treaties?).

Grrrrr, Arrgggggh.

This crap makes me pre-verbal. The wiki on this is surprisingly fair-minded, I guess the Kyoto Protocol is so ridiculous that they can't help but expose it's hypocrisy.

But, mainly I'm a little sick of wire services like the Agence France Press not only pushing their agenda through a purported 'hard news' story, but getting their facts wrong in the process.

You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

If this was the greatest, most dire threat to mankind since we first rubbed sticks together and harnessed fire, you'd think that candidate Gore would have made it central to his 2000 presidential campaign. Instead he ran away from his self-created image of "Al Gore, Savior of the Planet, Great Gleaner of All That's Green, and Portentious Potentate of Pollution Preventing Policy".

At least the AFP admitted in the article that he was defeated in the 2000 election, that's progress.

16 February 2007


Indomitable spirit, or a touch of the crazies? You decide.

The Top Ten Reasons To Expect The Fourth Installment of the 'Indiana Jones Adventures' to be Awful

To pick up and amplify on a comment Icepick left on this post, figured I'd expand it to a full blown Top Ten List.

The Top Ten Reasons why Indiana Jones IV Will Rape Your Childhood Memories and Leave an Awful Taste in Your Mouth Just Like the Star Wars 'Prequels'

#10 - Short Round won't be involved (wait, wrong list, that's a reason that it will be good)
#9 - Harrison Ford is like 134 years old (to be fair he's only 64, but that's still pretty old to be cracking a whip)
#8 - Story idea from Jeff Nathanson (already covered in the previous post, but remember, this film sprung forth from the mind that also brought you Rush Hour 2, Rush Hour 3, Speed 2, and The Terminal)
#7 - Did I mention Harrison Ford is way too old for this 'stuff'?
#6 - Liam Neeson as Abraham Lincoln? (Whoops, wrong list, that's from the list of why the Spielberg directed Lincoln project will suck balls)
#5 - Presumably, Indy won't have the Nazis to kick around anymore (Nazis made the better Indy villians than crazed Thugees, given that they'll have to push the timeline forward to the mid to late 50s at the earliest to account for Indy's aged condition, that leaves made up villians, or Commies, and given Spielberg's track record of late, I bet either the villians will be made up, or even worse, eeeevil American Businessman trying to exploit some native tribes and use some terrible ancient device that could lead to 'ultimate' power)
#4 - Seriously, have you seen Spielberg's last 3 films? (Munich, an awful, plodding, and morally corrupt 'serious social statement picture?', War of the Worlds, awful, plodding, and morally corrupt 'popcorn movie?', The Terminal, awful, plodding, and morally corrupt 'romantic dramedy?')
#3 - (see below . . . )
# 2 - (. . . keep looking . . . )
# 1 - That's right, this reason is so important and grave that it occupies the very top three spots on this countdown. This is the most overwhelming and fear inducing connection this film has. Two simple words, GEORGE LUCAS.

Yet, like a fool, I'll be there opening weekend, if not opening midnight showing. Lemming that I am (Hey, however bad it will be, it's still INDY IV!!!)

15 February 2007

The Course Tiger Can't Tame

Nissan Open started today. I'm not all that intimate with the actual Riviera course (though used to eat that thing up on the old Links golf game, an updated fan-created Riviera course can be found here, for those still rocking the old Links 2001/2003 golf games).

Tiger's never won at Riviera, his very first PGA Tour event at the age of sixteen was a sponsors exemption for the Nissan Open (then still the LA Open, I think). He's skipping the tournament this week.

It's considered one of the premiere golf courses in the world, and has hosted its share of US Opens.

It's the only course where Tiger has competed more than 4 times in which he's failed to win. That's pretty remarkable in a sport where most players win a handful of tournaments at most and even the very elite players feel lucky to win a couple dozen tournaments in their lifetime.

I expect Tiger will tame this course at some point in his career, though if he never does, that will be a distinction that will add considerably to the legend of this course.

(did he duck this course to keep his PGA Tour win streak alive?)

My only personal experience at the Riviera Country Club was attending my Senior Prom there (not a golfer, or a person you'll likely to find at any country club, so not my cup of tea).

I Normally Hate Biopics . . .

. . . and I doubt this upcoming project will change my perception of the genre.

(Girl, you know it's true)

Just to remind you why this is such a bad idea, go ahead and play the clip below.

Also, all you ever need to know about the Grammys, this act received (and had to return) A Best New Artist Grammy in 1990

Predictions for casting, Chris Tucker will play one of these fools.

(The writer/director also wrote Rush Hour 2 and the long delayed Rush Hour 3, as well as the less awful Catch Me If You Can, so I guess that means the other actor will be Leo DiCaprio (that boy can play anybody))

(Perusing Jeff Nathanson's IMDB, he's written two truly awful scripts (Speed 2 and The Terminal), but somehow is listed as the Story credit for Indy IV, that really, really scares me)

14 February 2007

No Love for St. Cyril and St. Methodius?

Turns out, more than one Saint gets time each day.

February 14th has an impressive list of Saints attached to it.

But that's not why I'm posting, I just find it very appropriate that among his many patronages, St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of Greeting Card Manufacturers.

(somebody has to be, I guess)

As far as Cyril and Methodius go, they were brothers, and founders of the Catholic Church in Slavonic lands, how many other brothers are both Saints?

(and wouldn't it suck to be one of the other non-saintly siblings?)

Also, show some love for the Maronites, February 14th is also the day for St. Maron.

Los Angeles Isn't in the United States . . .

. . . let me explain.

Look at the top ten shows in the local market (and local viewer totals) as reported by the LA Times (and compiled by Nielsen Market Research) for Feb 5-11, sorry no link, you'll have to take my word that these numbers appeared in the print edition (probably they're prohibited from listing them online by Nielsen, but seems like 'fair use' to me, so I say go ahead and sue me).

Since they've started counting Spanish speaking households, shows in Spanish frequently dominate the top ten.

Let's do a countdown of the top ten.

#10 La Fea Mas Bella (Wed) 935,000 viewers (75th National)
You may think that sounds similar to Ugly Betty, and you'd be right. The original that started it all was Betty La Fea, this latest version is the Mexican version (Betty La Fea is Colombian). This isn't a sequel, it's a Mexican-ized reimagining of the original show, cause it turns out, Colombia and Mexico, two seperate countries and cultures, who knew? This show has been on air locally for many months, and always appears near the top of local ratings (it's also interesting to note the relative 'ugliness' of the various Bettys, they're all really, really hot actresses when not in 'Betty' drag (and even in 'Betty' drag sometimes) want proof, visit this Spanish language web page and scroll down).

#9 House 943,000 viewers (4th national)
Meh, never liked the show. Hugh Laurie is much more interesting (and funny) when he's speaking in his native British.

#8 American Idol (Wed) 1,036,000 viewers (2nd national)
The last of the 'lousy' Idols, this was billed from the start as the worst of the worst and the freakiest of the freaky. Really no compelling reason to watch when it's sold like that, yet people aplenty watched indeed.

#7 La Fea Mas Bella (Thu) 1,083,000 viewers (77th national)
Nothing more to say, a local phenomenon (and nationally, not so much).

#6 La Fea Mas Bella (Mon) 1,120,000 viewers (71st national)
Ditto above

#5 Grey's Anatomy 1,164,000 viewers (3rd national)
Another show where the popularity of said show utterly escapes me. Isn't this just another bad doctor show with lots of random hook-ups?

#4 La Fea Mas Bella (Tue) 1,167,000 (72nd national)
More Mexican Betty. Also, in case you didn't know, La Fea Mas Bella runs Lunes a Viernes a las Ocho en Canal 34 en Los Angeles! (so that means Friday's episode failed to make the top ten, guess Friday's are still for partying)

#3 USA v Mexico soccer match 1,192,000 (73rd national)
Bet you didn't even know that USA and Mexico had a game last Wednesday. I sure didn't. It was a lousy friendly even, it didn't count for anything, yet over 1 million (Spanish speaking) Angelinos tuned in to watch two teams with mediocre prospects in international competitions. Part of why this match may have been watched was, first, it wasn't here, it was in Phoenix, when they play here it sells out, but Team USA chooses to wisely bypass Los Angeles, cause it's foolish to give up your home field advantage (Mexico's the home team as far as local soccer fans ar concerned). Second, the brand new Mexican coach, Hugo Sanchez (that's Sanchez, my boy, I said Sanchez, not Chavez) was talking up the Mexican team, and they promised to reverse years of dominance at the hands of the US squad. National pride was at stake in this game, and the results were the same as most of their recent matches, a 2-0 domination by Team USA (Woohoo!).
P.S.: I still don't care.

#2 Grammy Awards 1,233,000 viewers (6th national)
Avoiding Idol helped boost the Grammy ratings. They still sucked, though. One of the most unwatchable annual events on television (though I can't say for sure, all I caught was the 'in memoriam' montage). Interesting to note that it did better locally than in the rest of the country. It's an awards show, for coastal audiences, awarded by coastal voters, with awards given to bands most likely only appealing to coastal audiences (case in point, the reviled by actual Country Music fans, Dixie Chicks).

#1 American Idol (Tue) 1,348,000 viewers (1st national)
The Idol juggernaut continues. Nothing else to say really.

Local viewing habits are interesting, though.

Bet you didn't expect to see a soccer friendly in the top 5 of a major American television market.

I sure didn't expect to see that match in there (which was the main excuse I gave myself for creating this post).

The Obligatory Valentine's Day Post . . .

A Fearless Weather Prediction

February 25th is still 11 days away, but I think I can readily make a prediction for the local temperature that day.

It's going to be cold, historically, cold.

World Savior Al "Manbearpig" Gore will be in town to pick up his Oscar (nearly a foregone conclusion), and as the Gore effect on local temperatures seems to be a true and predictable phenomenon, I'm going to say right now that the all time lowest maximum temperature will be tested for that day.

According to this chart, the coldest high temperature for Feb 25th was recorded in 1937 and was 51 degrees. As far as the lowest minimum temp, you have to go all the way back to 1890 and 35 degrees.

Will both be broken that same day?

My money's on a daytime high of 43 degrees (cause you know, he should have been the 43rd President), and a night time low of 36 degrees, just missing the record.

So let this be a warning to actresses, do not look at that slinky, silky, sheer number, you'll be sorry if you chose something like that for the big day.

And if you do brave the frigid air, at least make sure you have your 'headlight' situation firmly in control.

(unless you want your 'pokies' to stand out, you'll certainly get plenty of coverage should that be the case)

As Al Gore would say, EXCELSIOR!

Suggestion for Tim Blair (or Glenn Reynolds, or Classical Values, or any other site that's made fun of this who get real traffic), a betting pool (for entertainment purposes, naturally) on how cold it will be here in Los Angeles for Oscar night.

UPDATE: 15 FEB 07, 8:43am

Hello Tim Blair readers! Just checked the 10 day forecast for the 90028 zipcode, where the Kodak Theater is located, and the prospects for Gore Related Coldening look grim.

The forecast only goes to Feb 24th, but for that day it's predicted to be 66/46 and sunny.

I still hold out hope for daytime high temps in the 40s, and if there's a 20 degree drop in temps just as Mr. Freeze comes to town, then we'll know his mojo is for real.

(I know our Governor played Mr. Freeze in a really, really awful movie, but for now former Vice President Al Gore is the *real* Mr. Freeze)

Another Post Where I Ride the Coattails of Somebody Famous . . .

Another Tuesday passed, and another Tuesday Trivia was emailed. Here are my guesses. I haven't read the email yet (been busy), so let's peruse together (then I'll embellish with links to 'research' conducted in the aftermath). Once again, I won't quote the whole question, except for the ungoogleable #7 question.

Tuesday Trivia XXXIII (and 1/3?)

1. Oh, come on Ken, ask a hard one. The key to knowing the answer to this would be obvious. This website casts doubt on the popular narrative regarding the well known experiment (and I'd be remiss in my blogging duties if I didn't link this Annotated Mythbusters post).

2. I should know my Macbeth, but I don't, but I know what my guess is. Was it right? Woohoo! or that other exclamation, that is the question . . . (D'oh! would be the answer).

3. This also seems like something that should come to mind, and after googling I'll be ashamed of myself for not thinking of it. I was right, after googling I'm ashamed. I'm not ashamed, that's truly trivial trivia. Not that that's a bad thing, it's truly interesting trivial trivia.

4. Well, I know what I'd say if I got it wrong, I use the catchphrase often enough during Football season (and it's not Woohoo!). (Was there ever any doubt? Though from an orthographic standpoint, I guess I should include the ' more often.)

5. Hmmm, that's a poser, easily googleable, but as far as knowing whether or not Sao Paulo, Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur would be the way to go, I'm not sure. I'm going with Kuala Lumpur. Google shows the way as to my correctitude. I listed the two top cities out of my three guesses but my guess wasn't either of them, and turns out not even in the Southern Hemisphere (by 3 degrees). The right guess would be the first one listed.

6. That seems easy, though I don't know the dude's first name, just his last, I assume that would be enough for credit. And as far as using a Zagat guide, I think they're baloney. (Tim for the record)

7. The interesting question. This time it's all about movies

What unusual distinction is shared by these movies? Beauty and the Beast (1991), Curse of the Cat People, King Kong (1933), Little Miss Sunshine, The Matrix, Mister Roberts, Singin' in the Rain, Stairway to Heaven.

Ouch, what the hell? I can't even begin to guess as to what the connection might be. Possibly an Academy thing, but not sure if Curse of the Cat People (which was a great film that had little to do with the first Cat People) had any nominations (pretty sure the others did). Possibly this might have something to do with films adapted from material that isn't obvious what the original source was. But a single sentence summation of what that similarity between those films would be escapes me.

As far as last week's number 7, I'd say it 'came to me in a dream' but that'd be a lie (though ironically, it would also be the answer).

Post google musings are in red.

3 certainties, and 3 correct answers total (which would mean 2 wrong (but educated) guesses, and one where I couldn't even come up with a good guess).

The #7 question from this week will haunt me. I know, I know it, I just don't know what it is that I know that is trying to pop to the surface of my thoughts.

I'm a 'Green Journalist' and Didn't Even Know It

The blogosphere is a strange place, perusing my sitemeter I noticed a link from Green Living Magazine, a Toronto based group of concerned citizens (to my post (with an update, just in case I get any visitors from there) about the Grammys and their choices in vehicles).

I'm #14 on Tuesday, February 13th's links for EcoFashion.

Yes, my mind is blown as well.

I don't know, if I were Canadian, I'd be all for global warming.

First, Canada has the world's largest reserve of fresh water (Russia might make an argument against that claim, but they've polluted so much of what they have, that I doubt anyone would buy what they might be able to sell), and if the dire predictions about global warming are true, then fresh water will be a sought after commodity, more so than even oil today.

Second, wouldn't the Frozen North benefit from being the slightly less Frozen North?

Their Western Provinces would supplant our Great Plains as 'world's breadbasket' (again only if the worst of the worst projections are true).

Also, on top of that, by any calculation you want to make, on a per capita basis, Canadians are the least green folks on the planet.

They use more electricity per person, more oil per person, and therefore have the largest 'carbon footprint' on a per person basis of any other nationality on the planet (including us here in the USA!). At just over 16,000 kWh per person (Americans consume slightly over a piddling (compared to Canadians) 12,000 kWh per person), that nation of around 33M folks consumes nearly as much electricity as India with 1B folks (522 B kWh in Canada compared to 587 B kWh in India, the whole list of electrity consumption ranked top to bottom, here) And like the USA, they get little of their power from the only truly green and currently technically feasible energy source that can be adapted to a variety of locations, and that's nuclear power (I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the greenest green is the green glow of nuclear energy). Granted, Canadians get some power from clean hydro-electric sources, but hydro-electric energy doesn't come without its own host of environmental costs as well (dams are hell on fisheries no matter how you set them up). But to put it in perspective, Canadians are just .5% of the world's population, but Canada uses 3.2% of the world's energy consumption.

Way to go, Canada!

Hope I didn't make you concerned Canadians faint away with the vapors with this post, though while passed out, you should at least be exhaling slightly less CO2 than normal, so consider that my contribution to limiting the damage done by runaway global warming.

But It Played So Well In the Room . . .

Whether it was Sen. Kerry's 'botched joke', or Sen. Lott's 'botched joke', or Sen. Allen's 'botched joke', Gov. Dean's 'scream' or Sen. Obama 'misspeaking', I see one common thread between all these incidents.

They played well in the room they were in, and only became controversial after others heard what was originally said.

An old habit of politicians has been to speak one thing to one group of supporters, and say nearly the opposite to another group.

The YouTube/Blogosphere age makes that not only impossible, but foolhardy.

That these men were capable of formulating the ideas that were present in their heads to cause these 'mistakes' suggests that none of the above examples were perfectly innocent and honest mistakes.

Rather, they were calculated political moves meant to strengthen support within the approving group of supporters, compatriots or fellow travellers.

A rule of thumb all politicians should follow from now on, always assume (and I mean always, even when speaking in small groups and presumptively not mic'd like Sen. Biden's 'articulate' comment), that you are being recorded, and that the audience you are in front of is made up of your best friends and your worst enemies at every moment of every day.

Just food for thought (also, that kind of scrutiny is not something any sane person without a touch a large dose of megalomania would ever subject themselves to).

As far as Sen. Obama goes, I seriously doubt 'wasted' was a misstatement, he meant what he said and said what he meant at the time he said it before an adoring crowd at Iowa State University. Having cultivated the aura of a careful wordsmith up to this point (and having the head of Harvard Law Review credentials to prove it), it's hard for anyone but avid supporters to swallow this nonsense. On top of that, the 'wasted' line fits in perfectly with the rest of what he was saying, and is logically consistent with the tact his attack on the President was taking.

I'd still be disgusted with his words, but he'd earn more respect if he stood by them (and I could say the same with Sen. Kerry, Sen. Lott, Sen. Biden, but Sen. Allen not so much, that was just stupid, and as far as Gov. Dean, he's nuts and it was easy to portray him as such, if it hadn't have been the 'scream' it would have been something else).

Go Suns!

Have I given up on my beloved Lakers?

No, but they haven't won a game since my last post on them, so let's talk about how terrific those Phoenix Suns are.

(you know, the old trick about talking about a kicker's perfect PAT attempt streak just before an important kick, just so he'll miss)

The Suns are running away with the Pacific Division, the Lakers not only look incapable of catching the Suns, but capable of slipping out of the 6 seed, so they'd have to face either the Suns or the Mavericks in the first round of the NBA's 'real' season.

The Suns have piled up some impressive win streaks this season, and enjoy an insurmountable ten game lead in the Pacific Division.

Dallas is having an excellent year, as well, so it seems unlikely that they'll get the 1 seed throughout the playoffs, but being #2 isn't bad.

They have a sufficiently secure spot in the upper half of the playoff draw that they can limit the minutes of their top players over March and early April and not effect their positioning adversely.

Steve Nash needs to be 100% for Phoenix to succeed when it counts, and he will be. Another 2 versus 7 match up against the Lakers could be real interesting come playoff time, though.

As it turns out, all the teams likely to be in the bottom 3 spots of the Western Conference playoff draw present match-up problems.

If they get a healthy Lakers team in the first round again, watch out. That will be an epic 7 game series whichever team wins.

If they get Denver, AI and Melo ought to be able to have figured out how to play with each other by then, and having AI force Nash to play defense, will limit his effectiveness on offense.

If they get the Clippers, they've been inconsistent this year, but they have the talent, size, and strength to beat any other team in the league over a 7 game series, but only if they conquer the mental lapses and lack of fire that have plagued them all season.

So Phoenix's reward for an excellent regular season will likely be a very difficult first round match-up against a team with equally athletic and versatile but stronger players whose main disadvantage will be not playing alongside the greatest facilitator in the game today.

Will Nash be enough to get this team deep into the playoffs?

Will their opponent be able to exploit Phoenix's lack of defense?

Will Nash be 100%?

Will Nash be robbed of an MVP this year because of 2 less deserving awards previously?

Won't know until April.

13 February 2007

NMT: 13 FEB 07 Lucinda Williams --- West

NMT: 13 FEB 07 The Fabulous Place Holders --- Post Pending

That's not the name of a new band (but if a band does decide to adopt that name, I want a 'thanks' in the credits), just me trying to acknowledge that New Music Tuesday will happen this week, just slightly late.

UPDATE: 19 FEB 07, 10:45am

Here's the real music post (I preserved the title and text from the original place holder post above), as you can see by the changed title, the artist delivering a new release this week is Lucinda Williams. She's been around awhile, but I was never a fan of hers personally. I was aware of her as a presence on that alt-country alt-folk alt-blues style scene, but nothing I heard of hers ever grabbed me.

But her latest album, West, grabs me, and it grabs me hard.

Her voice is sung through a throat that sounds worn, well lived in, and roughly used. Her attitude goes beyond world-weary and enters the darker edges of Leonard Cohen territory.

The musicianship and production on this album are top shelf, and suit the stories she tells, perfectly.

This is a great melding of voice, song style, singing style, lyrics, and music. Anyone of those elements could have detracted from the whole, but in this case, each contributes to the whole in a synergistic manner.

Good, good stuff, this.

On to the tracks.

1) Are You Alright?
This is as sweet little song. It's countrified, a bit lazy, slightly hazy, and her voice on this song sets the tone for all that follows. It's a tired voice, worn, worried, and more than a bit sad. She won't win any contests for vocal clarity and prettiness, but songs like this would be lessened by a 'pretty' voice (see Norah Jones latest album for that).

2) Mama You Sweet
The missing verb makes this song hum. Mama You are Sweet would have been less interesting, honest. Well written, well crafted, well performed. Lyrically dense, maybe just a bit obtuse, but delivered with humor and conviction. It's a playful performance on all accounts (but this song isn't a joke)

3) Learning How to Live
Possibly the most straight forward "country" song in this album. This song could be picked up and prettified by some sweet young thing and get radio play. But years from now, when the sweet young thing's version is thought of as the 'real' version, some folks will hear this version and realize how this song had been meant to be sung.

4) Fancy Funeral
All about setting priorities. A fairly traditionally composed and arranged country/blues lament with some pretty guitar work holding it all together. Nice stuff.

5) Unsuffer Me
This is more in the contemporary artsy blues category than country. Her vocals are more intentionally 'individual' on this song. Plus it has strings, can't not have strings in a song like this. Reminds me of mid career Concrete Blonde, and that's not a bad thing.

6) Everything Has Changed
This is a a solidly folky tune. Heartbreakingly simple, straightforward and affecting. No gimmicks offered, and no gimmicks needed. Just a simple musical backdrop, a 'lived-in' vocal performance, and meaningful lyrics. Ask for more at your peril.

7) Come On
After a very straight forward folksy tune, she brings a bit of double-entendre silliness. It doesn't not work, though. It's an OK song, if a bit gimmicky. It's one of those, 'screw you ex-lover, you were a jerk, and you weren't even very good in bed' songs, that are a staple for women in rock/blues/rap/country/pop/opera/tango/soul music (almost every genre produces these songs, except kiddie music, and I'd be seriously worried about the 'children's music' artist who put one of these songs on their album). But any song with the line, "The effort wasn't even concerted" has to be respected, if not loved.

8) Where Is My Love
If you were wondering whether or not to get this album, this is probably the track you should listen to. Either her vocal performance here will put you off completely, or intrigue you. To say that she has her own vocal style would be putting it mildly. I love it on this song, but I could understand being off put by it at the same time. It's a straight forward bluesy song that goes where you'd expect a song so entitled to go. But just cause it's expected, doesn't mean it's boringly predictable. It's a torch song, essentially, and it's lovely (in my opinion).

9) Rescue
An interesting song, with sleepily delivered vocals and a quietly insistent musical presence. The lyrics might be a bit ridiculous, or they might be really profound, I haven't decided yet. You can't get to profound without going through ridiculous, though (same with sublime, the suburb known as sublime is completely surrounded by the metropolis known as silly)

10) What If
Another more or less countrified offering. This song is solidly within the metropolis of Silly, but it makes enough forays into sublime, that it works because of the silliness, not in spite of its inherent lyrical silliness. It's inspired silliness, and a nice song (yet darker than I make it sound).

11) Wrap My Head Around That
If you are one of those "I only buy songs a la carte" type folks, then this would be the song to buy. First, it's loooooong, you'll get more bang for your $1.49 at iTunes (or whatever the going rate is, I don't have an iPod, or iTunes on my computer presently). Secondly, it's a brilliant song with so many layers as to defy description (but I'll make an attempt). Rhythmically this song is pretty interesting, there's a nice unexpected syncopation going on. On top of that, there's some 'white girl' rapping going on in the vocal delivery (in that early 80s, singing-talking sort of way, which is really from the same source as rap, the talking blues, but because rap is such a dominate idiom it's hard not to hear it as a 'rap' even though it isn't). The lyrics keep on going, and are solid and fascinating, her delivery of these worlds are perfect, and the bass line just keeps driving this whole thing forward as it takes all these twists and turns. On top of it all, they have some fun with the production of the sounds and vocals and go away from the more 'organic' sound of the rest of the album and go in for a full on 'producers having fun with all those shiny knobs' sort of epic. This is a dense, rich and fun experience, superficially simple, but with a lot of depth under the surface.

12) Words
The album closes with a more straight forward folky song. Its pretty, slight, but gets the job done. Strong song lyrically, it's a fine song.

13) West
As befitting a song called, "West" it's a lazy, western style ballad. Where this excels is in her delivery, the lyrics, and the unhurried simplicity of the music. Doesn't try to be more than it is, and that makes it all the more effective. Solid way to close, a fantastic album. Buy it already, you dolts.

Probably the best album I've heard this year, this will be sticking with me awhile, which is part of why I delayed reviewing it. This album requires some digestion before attempting to spit up an impression of it. This album doesn't lend itself to a snap judgement or quick description. She's a fascinating artist, doing what she does in a way that sounds assured, knowing, and confident.

12 February 2007

"At this time, there is no official confirmation that Royal has also promised free ponies to all French children who asked for them."

Even the French may not be dumb enough to elect this Marxist Royal (in America we'd call her a Quarter Pounder Marxist, with Cheese)

(her main opponent leads in most polls)

Sarkozy is pro-law enforcement, pro-American, and pro-business, that would be a nice change of pace coming from La France should he win in May.

Here's hoping.

And the video below isn't completely unrelated, somehow (and yes it's from Pulp Fiction, so profanity warning is obligatory)

Viciously Heteronormative Speculation From Slate

I thought Slate was more progressive than that.

Naturally, with the recent "news" regarding certain entanglements some astronauts have found themselves in, the question of SPACE SEX has arisen.

Slate tries to answer this question.

My question, as a reliably lefty hang out, how could Slate be so heteronormative as to not even entertain the notion that sex in space could happen in any manner other than between a man and a woman?

(and given the lengthy stays some astronauts and cosmonauts have enjoyed, the likelihood that 'self loving' has occured seems high, yet the Slate article doesn't speculate along those lines, either)

There's Hope For THis Civilization, Yet . . .

(found via Kotaku)

Some things give pause to the fears of decline. Such as this one,

I have renewed hope in our culture (and I'm sure Kumanoko is frolicking in Hamster Heaven as we speak).

The Decline of Western Civilization, Part CXIV

The 114th installment in the ongoing series, "Decline of Western Civilization"

$34,195,434 this weekend at the domestic box office for the above spectacle, biggest opening (by far) of the year.
Black men in transvestite fat-suited drag is big business. (example I & II, example III & IV, example V & VI)

I blame the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

(if this Yeats poem can be about that, then so can this)

Really, if there was any sign needed that we are indeed something dire is 'slouching towards Bedlam', then I think the success of this film has to be one of the foretold portents.

10 February 2007

Let Me Have a Word With All You Casting Directors Out There

Everyone else, you can choose to ignore this post if you want, this is aimed directly at casting directors (I know you're out there, somewhere).

The Queen of YouTube has graced us with another production.

It requires some knowledge of her recent backstory (part I, part II) to comprehend all the meaning (and scars can be sexy, so don't worry Ms. Dennings).

But my main point in posting this (other than linking yet another fun video from the Queen) is that she's clearly showing that she has the acting chops to play, "that crazed psycho-ex-girlfriend who won't leave alone the lead hunk and is like totally going to go all 'fatal attraction' on the other lead female in the picture who should be cast as somebody blonder and more 'wholesome' to set up the whole contrast between the women thing that Hollywood producers feel is so necessary for good filmmaking".

You know there's at least 11 pictures in development right now that require a young woman of Ms. Dennings talents, so get to casting her in the one that's not total crap.

You'll thank me when that film opens HUGE.

(and seriously, all you sick puppies who keep googling (yahooing in this case) for certain measurements (the latest), get a life folks, I still don't know, and as I said before, why would I share that info were it the case that I did know?)

And because it seems appropriate, here's a little Maria McKee YouTubeage

"And Throughout the Dinner Teri Leaned Over and Whispered Sweet Nothings in Georgie's Ear . . ."

That part above, that was my embellishment, but it's only a slight embroidery job on my part.

The Daily Mail really goes the distance in trying to create the impression that there's something more to this than meets the eye.

Slimy, limey, bastards.

I Lack the Required Audacity and Presumptuousness (and Funding)

Unfortunately, though this is the first Presidential election cycle for which I'm constitutionally eligible, I have to regretfully announce that I won't be seeking the nomination of either major party, of any of the minor parties, or making up a party of my own.

But, don't despair, 2012 isn't that far away (though I doubt I'll be ready for that, either).

OK, here's my semi-official, mostly immodest announcement.

I will seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 run at President.

After 8 glorious, prosperous and victorious years under President Giuliani, the nation will be ready for my brand of leadership (conservatives won't be completely happy with his 3 appointments to the Supreme Court, but you can't win them all, right?)

If you wish to send some seed money my way, just make the checks out to CASH.

It's Not Theft, It's Homage . . .

The Althouse post here, regarding Sen. Obama's launch of his presidential campaign.

My response:

XWL said...
I find Sen. Obama's timing curious.There's a big meeting in Jamestown organized by Tavis Smiley entitled, "State of the Black Union 2007" (presented by Wells Fargo).It's been on C-SPAN for the past few hours, seems like Sen. Obama is conspicuous in his absence.And what about his logo suggests a sunrise and not a sunset?(and isn't all this a bit style over substance-ish, which could be seen as a summary of Sen. Obama's career thus far?)If by some odd chance Sen. Obama were elected President (and not Vice-President, which seems to be the real goal behind his 'audacious' bid for the presidency), it might not be a disaster for the country, but it would be a complete disaster for the race-pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.For a person like him to achieve prominence without their help exposes them as being powerless, petty creeps and demagogues.
7:23 PM

Simon's follow-up:

Simon said...
XWL - genius. I'm borrowing that, if you don't mind.
7:38 PM

(as if I could ignore when someone notices my genius)

(and I agree with his post whole-heartedly, naturally)

And if you read the labels for this post, you'll see my other description of the junior Senator from Illinois.

(which is the other way to interpret Sen. Obama's logo)

So if I sold the T-Shirt below on cafepress . . . .,

fair use or copyright infringement?

Eco-Chic Didn't Last Long . . .

. . . at least in the music industry.

Because I know people who know stuff, I can tell you that big black Escalades are once again in high demand amongst local companies that rent out such vehicles.

There's a whole subset of the car rental industry hereabouts that handles luxury cars from top of the line Ferraris to the most outrageously 'pimped out' SUVs.

During awards season, they get real busy, a lot of folks fly in from NYC, and want to travel in luxury while tooling around L.A.. Also, there aren't a whole lot of quality hotel rooms in Downtown (yet, there are some massive projects in the pipeline that will change that), so the folks arriving for the Grammy's are most likely staying in either Beverly Hills or Santa Monica.

For the Oscars, there will be some uptick in Prius demand, no doubt (and yes, those are rentable hereabouts as well), especially with Gore being annointed as the prophet of our age during the ceremonies. Of the people that expect you to drive around in less car than you may want, know that few of them use their green econo-boxes as their sole mode of transport and will rent these buckets to arrive at events where big SUVs might be seen as obscene.

I'm no fan of SUVs personally, and I believe it was short-sighted and stupid policy when the government instituted the rule set that made building these things more desirable and profitable for car companies.

All those years of huge profits have dried up for GM and Ford (the biggest beneficiary of the less stringent 'truck' standards compared to 'car' standards, during the SUVs' hey-day). At the peak of the Navigator craze, Ford spent about $11,000 to make them and sold them wholesale at about $40,000. They went from making obscene per unit profits on hot sellers, to losing more money than any company in US history last quarter.

But with all that said, gasoline is the best fuel on many levels for powering cars, and folks should make the choices that make sense for themselves on an individual basis. Dreams of Hydrogen fuel cells, or full plug-in cars, are just that dreams, and if you study the numbers (as Popular Mechanics has done), don't make sense from both a cost and pollution stand point (with the cavaet that plug-in would be great, but only if we got most of our power from nuclear power instead of coal and natural gas as we do now).

But back to the original point, I'm glad folks will be rolling to the Grammys in big black Escalades, it's the American Way.

Do it with pride.

(also, this post should contain tons of links, but it's a lazy Saturday, so just pretend the links are there, you can find the PopMech article I refer to pretty easily your own damn self, and as far as the sorry state of Ford and the ridiculous profits they made in the 90s, that's pretty well documented, also)

UPDATE (14 FEB 07 4:15pm)

Welcome (?!?) Green Living Magazine visitors, stay around, or read this recent post, or these old post. Think of it as a cardiovascular work out (as your blood pressure may rise a bit).

Also, I know y'all probably just did a search for terms like 'eco-chic' and figurd this piece would fit in, but you may want to try and read what folks have to say before linking them, just a suggestion, don't want to seem ungrateful for the linkage.

Thanks for the link, next time I swig a Labatt's Blue, you'll be in my thoughts.

09 February 2007

Ilya Somin Reveals Just What Kind of Geek He Is . . .

He's a Buffy geek.

(not that there's anything wrong with that)

(the Buffyverse is probably the deepest most philosophically interesting and dense fictional universe in popular culture)

(no really, I mean it)

(Firefly might have come close, but hasn't had the time or episodes to flesh it out)

(For those thinking, 'what about Star Trek', Star Trek is for wimps)

(For those thinking, 'what about Star Wars', you must be joking?)

(For those thinking, 'what about Groo the Wanderer', you have me there, that stuff is brilliant)

Does This News Warm Your Cockles?

This news has my cockles all toasty.

08 February 2007

Beware of Gurus Offering Solutions That Cost Them Nothing (and Somebody Else Dearly)

Steve Jobs is the latest guru offering up a solution to a perceived problem, that would cost his company absolutely nothing.

Given that iTunes doesn't own the rights to any of the music they provide, just manages the digital rights management, to suggest to content providers to offer up everything free of those restrictions costs Apple Corp. very little.

What would be more impressive coming from Steve Jobs would be to open up iTunes to non-Apple players media players. I'd believe in his commitment to a better consumer experience with digital entertainment if he instead offered to provide, for free, firmware and software upgrades to rival players.

If Apple wanted to, they could let Microsoft Zune users, Creative Zen users, Toshiba Gigabeat users, and all the other countless rival devices, use of DRM managed iTunes content. They could pay to have their software engineers write the code to make this bit of translation happen (it's possible there are hardware limitations involved that can't be easily overcome, but I doubt it, there are no rival AAC players, not for technical reasons, but because Apple doesn't believe in licensing their tech out to anybody else, they've historically been the least 'open source' company of all the big hardware/software firms, even worse than the reviled Microsoft).

I doubt any of their rivals would refuse entry into the large user base of iTunes customers, and presumably, if ease of use for consumers is the goal, then this would please consumers as well as the content providers (given DRM would remain).

Edgar Bronfman of Warner already rejected this idea presented by Jobs, and given Doug Morris' campaign against something as mostly harmless as YouTube, we could imagine that Universal won't be on board anytime soon.

So instead of trying to get other folks to give stuff away for free that they feel is against their motivated self interest, why won't Mr. Jobs take one for the team and offer up something of perceived value for Apple (their monopoly on iTunes users) and let their competitors at their customers and their customers at their competitors.

If the Apple branded players are so clearly superior, then they'll have nothing to fear, and by doing this move unilaterally, it will put pressure on Microsoft to do something similar with their DRM'd content on a reciprocal basis.

If my URGE subscription also gave me access to iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster and Zune Marketplace, and vice versa, then I think the market for these sort of services would skyrocket. Also, instead of competing on exclusivity, they'd compete on price and service, and isn't that where the competition should take place?

It would be better for everyone, content providers, consumers, and hardware makers alike. The devices are smart enough, and computers fast enough to make all these competing formats work seamlessly on each other's systems, it's only a matter of having the will to make it happen.

It will take a big player like Apple to make a unilateral move, one that would seem to be a sacrifice of their own market share at first, to cause the floodgates to open.

UPDATE: (09 FEB 07, 6:26pm)

Bill offers up some good criticism (and factual corrections) to my rant in the comments. Also, if someone on a webpage run by Rolling Stone (via slashdot, where there's a bit of cognitive dissonance going on regarding M$FT not being the evil-est corporation in the world) sort of agrees with me, then I'm probably on the wrong track.

Let me sum up my ownself, shorter version of above, "I hate Steve Jobs".

And speaking of anti-Apple rants, this one by Charlie Booker printed in The Guardian this week, is incandescent with rage, snark, and British goodness.

When something needs a good slagging off, it's hard to find a writer outside of Britain who can do a better job at the slagging.

Most likely audio devices already on the market couldn't be retroactively made compatible with all services, that I acknowledge readily, but Apple's talk of tearing down DRM for everyone is most likely a response to Euroweenie governments possible efforts in forcing Apple to open up their DRM unilaterally (Eurocrats hate successful companies, no success comes without some sort of evil monopoly according to a dedicated Eurocrat).