Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Numero Trois?

First Bergman, now Antonioni...if I'm Jean-Luc Godard, I'm praying (yeah yeah as if he prays) I don't come down with the sniffles.

The Art House in Heaven is having one wonderful retrospective with surprise guests, though. And one part of the 1960s is really over, as if the late 1970s and the mega-marketing, synchronous pre-packaged delivery of film the total entertainment extravaganza--it's not just a movie, it's an action figure at Burger King!--didn't kill all that.


Rudy Can Fail

I might take Rudy Giuliani seriously if he said things that proved he actually thought before he spoke.

Stumping in Iowa he managed to come off like a high school student chewing his pencil to a nub while facing the SAT. First, there are these brilliant lines about health care, and why the government shouldn't be part of it (not sure what he thinks about Medicaid and Medicare, then, either):

He likened the health care industry to that of plasma televisions, saying that if the federal government had required all Americans to own a plasma TV and paid for those who couldn’t afford it, lower quality televisions would cost upwards of $15,000 today, instead of higher quality ones now being available for only $2,000.

“The free market operated, lots of consumers got into the market, they bought TVs, and manufacturers realized that if they reduced the price they’d get more customers,” Giuliani said. “How do you get health care providers to start thinking that way? The only way you do it is to have 70 million customers bring the price down and the quality up.”

After all, you can't live without a plasma TV. Those requiring health care aren't customers buying a product, Rudy--they're getting something we all need, for if you aren't healthy, eventually you aren't. Period. Despite what society might say, I can make it to a ripe old age without a 42" flat screen on which to watch the latest news about Lindsay Lohan. Meanwhile the insurance companies, in our current poorly functioning, inefficient system, have us with our hands on our knees and they aren't doing prostate checks.

And don't tell me health care shouldn't be a right. First, if you're all so religious, you're supposed to care about other people. I missed the part where Jesus/Allah/Jehovah/Buddha/FSM said, "Sink or swim, losers." Second, just think about it selfishly, if appealing to your altruism doesn't work (hey, I feel altruistic towards others without a religiously imposed moral system, what's your problem?). Do you want tons of sick folks surrounding you? Do you want to have to pay for their more drastic emergency care because they aren't insured and don't get to prevent ill-health in the first place? I guess you want to be sure there's something that separates you from the hoi polloi. Once upon a time the rich were pale as the poor worked in the fields; then the rich had tans as the poor worked in factories; now the rich have health, and the poor be damned.

Unfortunately for Giuliani, his inability to reason extends beyond economics and health care to global security.

Citing past examples of conflict where the United Nations had not been a driving force for peace, Giuliani said the organization was often “irrelevant” to international conflicts that it was intended to handle.

“We’ve got to be realistic about the U.N. – it’s a place to go talk,” he said. “It’s not a place you’re likely to go to solve really serious problems.”

After all, no serious problem was ever solved by talking. Can't get along with your wife, Rudy? Divorce her. Can't deal with a foreign nation? Bomb it. How manly and decisive and utterly stupid of you.

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That Drummer Sure Looks Familiar

Before Neko Case was a New Pornographer she was an old-time power-popper. The things You Tube teaches you.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fun Phair

This song popped up on the mixed tape I was playing into work today. She was really good once, you know.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Somehow I Refrained from a Tea-bagging Joke

Originally uploaded by littlebiddle

Gunther didn't know why, but ever since moving into the new house he always felt a bit steamed. He wanted to just bag it, but he couldn't help but spout off. At least the rent wasn't steep.

Random Flickr-blogging explained.


String Me Up for This One

Originally uploaded by _Gary_

Remember July 30 is "Gender Neutral Day"--this is a persondolin.


My Ass Is Dragon

Originally uploaded by Lawrence OP

OK, maybe St., George got de-sainted because the dragon doesn't look bigger than Bart's pet python on tonight's episode of The Simpsons, which anyway had Santa's Little Helper acting like a scent-hound and not a sighthound, so what do comics know.


Salty Bean Fumble

How can I beat the title of the song with something I might come up with? Plus this will be the only time this blog will have video of a guy with two instruments in his mouth at once.

To think Simon Jeffes of Penguin Cafe Orchestra also did the Sex Pistols strings (think Sid's "My Way").

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (7) -- Giving Us the Eyeball

OK, the Residents are usually weird even to me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

This Entry Got Canned

This post isn't here (TM, Coyote Mercury): Nancy Silverton and I meet somewhere else on the internets.


Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (6) - America Is Waiting

Well, we're waiting now more than in 1981, methinks.

Brian Eno is one of the few folks in music who deserves the devalued term genius, and bringing along David Byrne for the ride only helps.

Edward Muybridge Wins a Bet

For Dog Blog Friday: If you cast 2 shadows it's ok to be blurry.


Friday Random Ten

Stereolab "Motoroller Scalatron" Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Moe Tucker "Blue, All the Way to Canada" I Spent a Week There the Other Night
Los Lobos "Oh Yeah" This Time
Salif Keita "Moussoldu" Moffou
Elvis Costello "Hidden Charms" Kojak Variety
Beck "Hollywood Freaks" Midnite Vultures
Kate Bush "Between a Man and a Woman" The Sensual World
Neil Young "Buffalo Springfield Again" Silver & Gold
Uncle Dave Macon "Buddy Won't You Roll Down the Line" Anthology of American Folk Music
Elvis Presley "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')" (Alternate) The Sun Sessions CD


Les Negresses Vertes "Zobi La Mouche" Mlah

It's not a random ten without the Anthology of American Folk Music. Not too many brilliant cuts (ok, the Los Lobos, Neil Young, and Les Negresses Vertes are very very good cuts), but lots of fine artists. And, surprisingly, iTunes coughed up The Pogues (the Irish Les Negresses Vertes) after Les Negresses Vertes (the French Pogues), but that's a bonus bonus.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going to Bat for Guano

This Friday would have been the 91st birthday of Keenan Wynn, who, alas, passed away in 1986 and therefore did not quite live as long as the time it takes to say his whole full name: Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn. A character actor who appeared in everything, ranging form Nashville to Son of Flubber, he's probably best remembered as Colonel "Bat" Guano in Dr. Strangelove. He's the one with the hand-grenades flapping like misformed mammaries, trying to figure out what has happened at Burpleson Airforce Base and accusing Capt. Lionel Mandrake of leading a "mutiny of preverts" (now that's a mutiny on the bounty). When Mandrake makes him fire into a Coca-Cola vending machine to get change to call the president (pay phones are so quaint, aren't they?), he replies: "if you don't get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what's gonna happen to you? You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company." Then he gets sprayed in the face, so there's a money shot and everything, but that's capitalism for you, orgasming at the apocalypse.

It's all funnier in the movie.


Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (5) -- Reich Rocks!

The joys of Music for 18 Musicians are hard to describe--like watching light play across the ocean. If you're patient, you will be transformed. Here's only 5 of the full 56 minutes. I never realized how much concentration goes into this music until I watched these folks do it live.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bush Prevents "Commuter" Traffic

Washington, DC -- President Bush today commuted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sentence for perjuring himself while testifying to the Senate yesterday. Bush said, "I realize that Gonzales has not been convicted of perjury yet -- he hasn't even been indicted for it. But I figured I could save the country the pain of his trial and the money, too. Why wait around to subvert justice and ignore the rule of law when you can be a leader of the free world? And my plan is to keep free all of my friends, no matter their criminal activities. They have suffered enough doing what I tell them.

"Now leave me alone so that I can get back to vetoing bills that might lead to medical cures, bring an end to the war in Iraq, and provide health insurance for 4 million of American children."

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Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (4) -- I Love the Sound of Philip Glass

I never quite got Philip Glass until I saw Twyla Tharp's troupe dance to it and now his music is all beautiful movement to me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (3) -- Sonic Geology

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic--especially when Roger Miller was part of the group--did some incredible chamber rock, and this video weirds their oddness up a tad.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fast Finger Fun

This is lots of fun, and proves why I'd never be a major leaguer--you sure have to react fast! The good news is if you keep at it, and respond at .17 seconds, you can hit a homerun.

Thank god the program doesn't toss in an occasional 65 mph slurve to screw up your timing.


Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (2) -- Canada under Wraps

To some this might be weird, to me it's a pop song. I even saw Nash the Slash a good 25 years ago in the old 930 Club in DC.

The Sky Was Cobol Blue

Originally uploaded by jgSantaRosa

Gunther definitely knew he was a geek upon realizing that even on vacation he saw computer code in the clouds.

Random Flickr-blogging explained.


Bad Dog

Originally uploaded by Loony Lance

The Fire Department had to let Spotsy go once they realized he was actually throwing logs onto blazes.


INOTBB's Spike TV Homage

Originally uploaded by ACC/TC

And this beauty over here comes with rack and panty steering....


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Avant to Catch You Off Garde Week (1) -- Peachy Kino!

Guy Maddin is a mad genius, and so this short seems to make a good transition from movie week to avant garde week. BTW, the music here is "Time, forward!" by Georgy Vasilevich Sviridov.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Movie Music Week (7) - Drum, Set, Impossible to Match

"Ball of Fire" is one delightful film and also contains this gem with Gene Krupa. Be sure to stick it out to the end.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush Finds Out How Most of America Feels

While CNN reports

Vice President Dick Cheney will serve as acting president briefly Saturday while President Bush is anesthetized for a routine colonoscopy, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Friday.

it fails to report whether Snow made air-quotes with his fingers around the word "acting." This event also proves that while you can be President with your head up your ass, you can't be with a camera up your ass.


Movie Music Week (6)--The Return of the Man Band

Hope you enjoy this clever parody of more bands than you'd care to think about it. It's the opening scene from the short "Being in Sync." For more details, see the link at right.

It's Not the Length of the Leg, It's What You Do with It

For Dog Blog Friday: The basset never knew what lapped him.


Friday Random Ten

Tarika Sammy "Fanaon'ny Ankizy" A World Out of Time - Madagascar
Adrian Belew "Men in Helicopters" Young Lions
Steve Earle "I Remember You" Jerusalem
Breaux Freres "Home Sweet Home" Anthology of American Folk Music
Zachary Richard "Au bord de lac bijou" Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
Trevor Pinnock, J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 Variatio 4 a 1 Clav., Goldberg Variations
The Temptations, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" An Introduction to the Motown Elite 9000 Series
John & Mary, "Your Return" The Weedkiller's Daughter
They Might Be Giants, "Rhythm Section Want Ad" They Might Be Giants
Alex Chilton, "Trouble Don't Last" High Priest

Carolina Tar Heels, "Peg & Awl" Anthology of American Folk Music

I feel like I need to have my maw full o' chaw for this one but you can't get much more random than the Goldberg Variations butted up against "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."


Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Press Isn't Right or Left, It's Just Wrong

Here's a headline that gets it all wrong, or perhaps all right. Today's LA Times announces "Bush gets a breather on war debate." (Note: This headline was hard to find on-line, so maybe someone in editorial woke up.)

After all, it's all about Bush. And if anyone needs a breather in this "war debate" (if you ask me there's no debate--it's an occupation taking place during a civil war), it's poor W. US soldiers, Iraqi civilians, meh. Don't they know they are mere commas to the all-powerful, unitary executive?


Tell Me If This Mega-Hurts

Although it might be worth pointing out how in 1968 Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" became the 1st heavy metal song to hit the charts, coming in at #117, #118 (the drum solo), and #119, we have to instead talk about a pioneer who helped make radio happen in the first place, at least if he wasn't a failure. Dentist Mahlon Loomis grew up wanting to be an elf working for Santa, but even though he lived in Virginia there is no Santa Claus, so he instead turned to a toothy profession. He thought it might be fun to ask people to rinse from a great distance, so attempted to communicate wirelessly through the atmosphere, which sounds like a wordy way to say charades. Between 1866 and 1873 he transmitted telegraphic messages a distance of 18 miles--as the crow flies, if hermit Henderson wouldn't shoot the crow out of the sky and make crow pie--between the tops of Cohocton Mountain and Beorse Deer Mountain, Virginia. Clearly if Loomis wanted to be a serious and famous inventor he would have chosen hills with names easier to spell, but what do you expect from someone named Mahlon Loomis. Heck, you can't even mispronounce his name into a kind of pasta, so how could he be remembered as the father of radio? Indeed, all he managed to do was move a kite via remote control, as it were, which makes him the patron saint of RC dweebs. Loomis sold his patent, and a goodly amount of dental anesthetic, to his neighbor farmer Lush Brimbaugh, who adapted the invention and soon had a group of kiteheads who bobbed mindlessly in the wind at his remote control command.


Movie Music Week (5) -- Ain't That a Kick in the Head

I felt remiss, posting from "The Band Wagon" and leaving out Cyd Charisse and the best legs of all-time. So here she is from "It's Always Fair Weather" doing a number probably based on Jane Russell's much more campy one with the US Olympic team in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" from two years prior. (Alas, no one has posted that clip on YouTube.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

George Sloshes Suds, Mets Paddle Pods

Sorry the blog hasn't been a hotbed of hilarity or even posting the past few days, but I have an excuse, as we drove down to San Diego Monday night and just got back today. Yes, that means that I saw the Mets beat the Padres last night, thanks to tickets given to me for my birthday way back in March by my sister-in-law and her s.o. So I have to thank them for fine seats down the leftfield line and apologize for the Mets beating their team (here's hoping we make it up to San Diego fans by sweeping the Dodgers in LA this weekend).

Some random notes from the trip:
  • Being retired will be lots of fun someday if I ever have the opportunity. Midday Tuesday prior to the game we hit the Stone Bistro, where beer is discounted during the day, and got to sit in a lovely, very uncrowded garden and enjoy a Vertical Epic 07.07.07 draft. It's one of their annual fun beers, with a touch of spice and some rich flavors. I want me some more, please.
  • On the way to the game we had dinner at O'Brien's, because you can't have too much beery goodness in San Diego, where the streets are paved with beer. O'Brien's bill themselves "the hoppiest place on earth" as they always feature wonderful stuff on tap, and then you get it and sit in these odd, large green pleather chairs with wheels and try not to roll by the guys playing darts. The food is good, if not upscale a bit, but who cares when you're drinking Alesmith's Summer Yulesmith and Alpine's Pure Hoppiness? Six of us had dinner and beers and with the tip it came to $90. It was tempting to just stay there and watch the game on TV.
  • But we did go to Petco, and despite a pitching match-up of El Duque v. Jake Peavy, the Mets prevailed 7-0. It's good to see the Mets win, and I'm on at least a 4 game winning streak with live attendance. Makes me think I should try to get to see them this weekend in LA, too.
  • El Duque is just too cool. The high socks, the higher leg kick, the 66 mph curveball. The only person who could hit him was Adrian Gonzalez. To top it off, he hit a single and stole second base, and he's over 40. He was worth the price of admission himself.
  • I want to believe in Lastings Milledge, if nothing else than for his name, but in general I like rooting for the young guys (see my fantasy team filled with Lincecums and Chris B. Youngs and Corey Harts). He looks the part--he's just solid out there in left. But Peavy schooled him twice in key at-bats, getting him to fish for sliders after he couldn't quite catch up to the mid-90s hitter Peavy has. It's ok to get struck out by the best pitcher in the NL, but to fall for the same "trick" twice makes me a bit nervous.
  • Many Mets fans crammed into Petco, which was good as I seemed relatively sedate, especially when compared to the group that taunted tortured Milton Bradley endlessly, even starting a "Choke your wife, Milton, choke your wife" chant.
  • You can get Stone Pale Ale at Petco. I did.

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Movie Music Week (4) - Three Times the Fun

One more reason to dump that AFI top 100 films list--it's never bothered to include the sublime "The Band Wagon." Here's some silly from that sublime.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Movie Music Week (3)--Dance, Dance, Dance

An amazing sequence from "Hellzapoppin'." One of the dancers in this clip, Frankie Manning, is still dancing. I'm tired just watching it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fear and Hatred Keep the Republic(an) Strong

Last week I pointed out how disappointing it is that the Daily Sound has chosen to go "all right wing, all the time" with its syndicated columnist spot on its fledgling op-ed pages. In particular running Robert Novak depressed me, given he should be in jail for treason--after all, he outed a U.S. spy (and thereby helped ruin our intelligence work on Iran's nuclear capability, not that that matters--after all, if we really know what they're doing then it's harder to lie about it and start a war with them).

Of course, it's not like the Sound is alone in giving Novak a platform, for here's a quote from Novak on Press the Meat yesterday:

Republicans are very pessimistic about 2008. When you talk to them off the record, they don't see how they can win this thing. And then they think for a minute, and only the Democratic Party, with everything in their favor, would say that, "OK, this is the year either to have a woman or an African-American to break precedent, to do things the country has never done before." And it gives the Republicans hope.

Ah, those hopeful Republicans--banking on America being sexist and racist.


Putting the Crazy in Dance Craze

Originally uploaded by michielvw

"It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-AAAAA," just not while wearing those shorts.

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.


Sometimes a Banana Is Just a Sausage

Originally uploaded by LLSnow

It finally hit Chef Jacques that even the dollop of whipped cream wouldn't help sell the chocolate-covered bloodwurst crepe.


Movie Music Week (2): A Band Apart, A Dance Together

Godard through the 60s--what else can you say?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Movie Music Week (1): I Can't Stand the Quiet

Hal Hartley's own soundtracks (which he writes as Ned Rifle) are great, but he also knows how to use others' music really well. And if you don't know what other film he's based this moment from "Simple Men" on, you'll find out tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pure Pop for Crooning People

I couldn't very well do a week of pure pop titles and leave Nick Lowe out, now could I. This one should be a standard.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pure Pop for Missing Aviatrices

Great song that manages to reference my favorite passage in "Madame Bovary" and William Randolph Hearst in three-and-a-half-minutes. Hooray Handsome Family!

Friday Random Ten

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings "My Dear Someone" Down from the Mountain: Live Concert Performances by the Artists & Musicians of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Pink Martini "Everywhere" Hey Eugene!
Mazzy Star "By My Angel" She Hangs Brightly
Seam "Little Chang, Big City" The Pace Is Glacial
Ed's Redeeming Qualities "Closed Mondays" At the Fish & Game Club
Weston "Feet" A Real-Life Story of Teenage Rebellion
Meesiaen "Intermede" Quatuor pour la fin du temps
The Pogues "Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six" If I Should Fall from Grace with God
Amy Rigby "Don't Ever Change" Til the Wheels Fall Off
New Order "Perfect Kiss" Substance


King Kong "Scooba Dooba Diver" Funny Farm

Secret theme for the day is bands that former student and surely still cool guy (are you out there!) Mike Schlossberg turned me onto--Seam, Weston, King Kong. And we just heard J Church on the iPod during dinner. Takes me back to 1994. If you don't know these bands, look them up. (Start with The Problem with Me by Seam.)

And you're all welcome to play along and leave your randomness in the comments.


Here's Seaweed in Your Face

For Dog Blog Friday: It's all fun until someone loses an eye when someone else lashes him with seaweed.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where the Heck Was It Thursdays

As fine blogger James says over at Coyote Mercury, this post isn't here. But if you want to read about Clay Bowen, first "cheftestant" to pack his knives on Top Chef season 3, who just happens to work at Santa Barbara's University Club, you can do that over on the Independent website. (Thanks for those great photos, Paul.)


Stop, Hey, What's that Sound

I want the Daily Sound to succeed as much as anybody (well, not as much as the investors, but you know what I mean), but has anyone else noticed the trend in syndicated columns they've been running on their new opinion page?

July 5 we get Robert Novak, a man who should be in jail for publishing the information about Valerie Plame.

July 10 we get John Stossel. FAIR says a typical Stossel report/article features "anecdotes presented as fact, lopsided sourcing, constant editorializing and the exclusion of information that would challenge its premise."

Today we get Linda Chavez. She infamously called John Kerry a "communist apologist" during the 2004 election and when she ran for the Senate in 1986 she continually called her unmarried opponent Barbara Mikulski a "San Francisco-style Democrat" who should come out of her liberal closet.

Sure, run conservatives if you want, although it sure would be nice to have some balance every now and then. But can't you folks find conservatives who aren't despicable?

OK, I'm not sure who that would be either.


Pure Pop for 90s People Looking 80s

That Dog's "Retreat from the Sun" is a power-pop joy and this cut is maybe the 4th best song on the disc. Plus I figured I owed you something better to look at after Crocus Behemoth yesterday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How Happy I'd Be with Either of You If the Two of You Left Me Alone

Poor businesses. They would be so much easier to run if only they didn't have to have employees.

At least that's the message we seem to get pretty much everywhere these days. For instance Major League Baseball seems insistent on reminding us as often as possible that baseball had a steroid problem despite having a strong drug testing program now that few of its athletes are failing. Of course much of that is the Bonds Problem, for Barry is pretty much a jerk whether he took steroids or not so it's easy to want to hate him as he approaches Aaron's homerun record. Instead of grinning and bearing it, instead of celebrating the moment--Commisioner Beelze-Bud might not even be there--, they make a huge hand-wringing deal of it. As if we aren't all smart enough to know his record will come in an age of medical wonder, just as Aaron's came in an age of greenies, and Ruth's records were originally set when you couldn't play if you were green, brown, or yellow. People can know these things on their own without asterisks.

Here's what Joe Sheehan said on the Baseball Prospectus website [it's behind the pay wall, but they are worth subscribing to] a couple weeks ago about the Giambi brouhaha that sums up what's particularly dumb about all of this:

Forcing Jason Giambi to talk to the Mitchell Commission under threat of suspension as an act of retribution for Giambi’s pointing out the obvious does what, exactly, to eradicate the use of PEDs by baseball players? The takeaways here are:
  • The commissioner’s office is desperate to sustain the illusion that no one other than players knew about PED use.
  • The commissioner’s office is desperate to buoy the image of the Mitchell Commission.
  • The commissioner’s office is desperate to win the PR battle, even if that means reverting to a confrontational relationship with players and taking positions that will be impossible to defend in front of a third party.


I’ll say it again: the Mitchell Commission needs to be disbanded, because it can’t do anything positive for the game of baseball. All it does is keep alive a story that should have been ended by the implementation of professional sports’ most stringent drug-testing and punishment policy.

I think Sheehan doesn't just give enough credit to the owners' (and remember, the commish was an owner and serves at their pleasure) distrust of their employees, who, after all, make a very lucrative living playing a game. On some level all of the steroid scandal is merely a battlefield upon which owners express their condescension towards their charges.

But it's not just players who tend to be disliked by management. One of the most mystifying elements of the News-Press saga here in Santa Barbara is Wendy McCaw's nearly pathological views about journalism itself. Much of this in her case is she probably doesn't like to have anyone tell her what to do and she feels her money should insulate her from having to listen to anyone from which she doesn't want to hear. In her latest screed written to Lou Cannon McCaw said:

Today the hue and cry of "journalistic ethics" by your journalist elite, rather than being the noble words you assert, instead have become little more than the chant of an ancient priesthood long discarded by their former flock, our readers. Newspaper owners now realize these elitists were simply trying to preserve their caste which provided them with the sinecure of full employment without responsibility. The reading public knows this, as exemplified by the recent PBS Frontline documentary* referenced in my prior letter. The PBS series evidences the distrust the public has today for your formerly sacred "journalists." It does not trust them for the very reason I deemed it necessary to take action to ensure that the news was reported fairly and accurately: Your brand of reporters write what they want, when they want. That is not good journalism. That is not in keeping with the tenants [sic] of fairness and integrity. Simply put, that is the reason changes were needed at the News-Press.

The good news for McCaw is she's got what she's wanted--a newspaper without any journalists. Of course she doesn't realize that a real reporter doesn't feel beholden to an owner or an ideology but a belief that truth must out. That's where the whole public trust idea of journalism comes into play, but she can't be bothered with that. Instead she's out to market her product by saying anyone who would create it for her sucks. It's like calling your best players drug addicts.

Instead McCaw and Bud Selig and who knows how many other employers (is the UC negotiating a contract with anyone right now?) could all learn a thing or two from a wise column written by Roy Peter Clark on Poynteronline today. Here's a few excerpts, but it's worth reading the whole thing:

Managers of news organizations are forced more often these days to tell the Big Lie.

It goes something like this: "By making these changes, we think the Daily Blank will be a better paper. It will be leaner, more efficient, and will focus more on what our local readers say they need." In other words, they are going to lay off or buy out some of their best people to meet profit margins. The Big Lie is that this will make for a better paper.


Think for a moment of how many journalists' expectations of what a good career should look like have crashed into a wall of diminishing resources and technological change.

"A good storyteller," argues [screenwriting coach Robert] McKee, "describes what it's like to deal with these opposing forces, calling on the protagonist to dig deeper, work with scarce resources, make difficult decisions, take action despite risks, and ultimately discover the truth."


Now think of all the inciting incidents that have shaken the stability of the news business: layoffs, buyouts, cutbacks, declining circulation, loss of classified advertising, increase in the cost of paper, the sale and dismemberment of Knight Ridder, Murdoch lurking in the wings of The Wall Street Journal, the loss of prestige and threats to credibility, and on and on and on.

What do we do with all that bad news? If we followed McKee's advice, we'd start telling each other and the world outside stories of how good journalists did great work against all odds.

It's not just an issue of focusing on the positive. But if employers could get over this sense that employees are just a necessary evil maybe we could all do more than just get along.

*I couldn't pass up how this Frontline documentary doesn't really do what McCaw says it does, too. You can go read the entire transcript of all 4 shows if you'd like. What she jumps on is a teaser quote at the beginning of each episode (maybe that's as much as she watched)--"The public has a terrific disdain for the press"--but a lot of that disdain is because of things like the press's inability to see through all the lies the Bush White House put out about Iraq before the war. I doubt anyone in Santa Barbara holds Jerry Roberts accountable for Judith Miller.

Indeed, looking at that transcript it's interesting that McCaw fails to quote lines like:

JOHN CARROLL: A typical newspaper makes a 20 percent operating margin. That's roughly double what the typical Fortune 500 company makes. People think of this as a poor, washed-up old business. It's not. It makes tons of money.

LOWELL BERGMAN: So what's the rationale behind that? I don't understand. I mean, why do you have to cut costs when you're making hundreds of millions of dollars?

JOHN CARROLL: Because you have to make more every year than you made the last year in order to keep the shareholders happy. And so even if you made barrels full of money one year, you've got to make more than that the next year.

And McCaw doesn't even have shareholders.

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Pure Pop for Pere Ubu-ists

David Thomas is one wonderfully weird guy. Alas, that's Eric Drew Feldman and not Allan Ravenstine on synthesizer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Science Is for Those Who Don't Have the Strength of Their Convictions

In 2002 Dave Kopel and Timothy Wheeler wrote in the National Review:

Testosterone is in again. Witness the ascent of Dr. Richard Carmona, the true-to-life hero nominated by President Bush for the post of surgeon general and recently confirmed, unanimously, by the Senate. Our new surgeon general displays the manly virtue of courage that our nation has again learned to admire since we went to war. The confirmation process reflects our rediscovered consensus that real men aren't afraid to use force — even deadly force — when necessary to protect a woman from a violent predator.

It seems that when Carmona was a police officer who shot and killed a suspect in a hostage situation, so the National Review can only stand up and cheer.

Because Dr. Carmona was carrying a gun and knew how to use it, a violent criminal died, and two or more innocent women and men survived. By the moral calculus of most people, this would seem a very good result. Had Dr. Carmona "done no harm" to the harmful predator, then the innocent hostage would have been assaulted and perhaps murdered. The killer might have gone to murder his ex-girlfriend, as well as any peace officers (Carmona included) who attempted to interfere. To be explicit: A dead male violent predator is a better public-health result than several innocent women and men brutalized, severely injured, and possibly murdered.

As Dean Curran's [of Emory College] denunciation of the life-saving Dr. Carmona highlights, "public health" is, in some hands, increasingly becoming an instrument of moral intolerance, rather than of genuine public health.

So you have to wonder how Kopel and his National Review crew feel today when Carmona announced:

Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried. The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party.

Seems Carmona claims the Bush White House muzzled him. Now if BushCo can't keep former Green Beret and SWAT team members on its side, who is left supporting them?

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Pure Pop for Swede People

The Shout Out Louds will be down in LA next week midweek and I am old. Makes me want to shout out loud.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Decemberists in July, July!

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists limns that age when all we know of the world comes through words (it's a decidedly pre-television, perhaps even pre-film world). Romance is Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights, childhood adversity overcome is Dickens, thrills and chills are sea tales cobbled together from the more active moments of Melville and Richard Henry Dana. Odd words themselves, like palanquin or fontanel, sat and dissolved on the tongue like the Eucharist of a church of something bigger we might belong to. All of that, for those of us who had this period of life, and are now long past it, and can see through it, only makes the ache of the group's swooning songs more palpable--for we feel for the characters in them (there are always characters in them) and for our own lost loser teen selves that once just felt so damn much.

Therefore the pairing of the Decemberists with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl this past Saturday night was more or less destined to happen. The show didn't disappoint, as the group played from throughout its catalog, even surprising with all 18 minutes of The Tain, a recording put out on a CD EP that is based on Irish mythology and might be what would happen if Seamus Heaney fronted a rock band (you know he'd love to sing the lines: "she's a salty little pisser / with your cock in her kisser / but now she's a will of her own").

Perhaps the epitome of the evening was "We Both Go Down Together," which seemed even more fated with the full orchestral push. It was practically too lush, not that the recorded version of the song lacks for dramatics (those descending piano chords of doom, that "exotic" gypsy violin), but with so much oomph you can't help but get washed along. Of course, that's the song's great trick, for Meloy's narrator is far from a sweetie; perhaps no date rape has been more excused/elided than the one in the lines "I laid you down in the grass of a clearing /You wept but your soul was willing." And I haven't even got into the class issues the song sneaks in, although you'd never guess there'd be room with all the free floating emotion accessed in a string-swept actualization of the cliche "I love you to death." In a word: complex.

There was a bit less room for the group's usual sense of humor given the arrangements meant the musical tains [sic] had to run on time. Meloy did advise, "If you ever get a rock band, try to play the Hollywood Bowl; this is really cool. They do have an open mic night here, don't they?" He also asked us to indulge him and all hold up our cell phones and that gave us the visual money shot to match the gorgeous music--each person his or her own brilliant blue star.

Opening act Band of Horses comes off a bit like Drive-By U-Haulers: They've got the three guitar attack but they use it for mass more than interplay or virtuosity. They're good, but still not quite more than the sum of their The Band filtered through alterna-80s influences.

Middle act Andrew Bird, however, awed with his ability to make up for not playing with the Phil by being a one-man orchestra all by himself. On any given song at any given moment he might be playing guitar or violin or mini-xylophone, singing, or whistling (he's a championship whistler, so can make like a theremin just with his lips). He was accompanied by a drummer/keyboardist and bassist/guitarist yet got an even fuller sound by fooling with loops like a latter-day Frippertronics master, thereby layering violin parts and keeping his shoeless feet busy at his pedals. All the action set his charmingly nervous songs of angst and apocalypse into better relief, if not release.

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We Fall but Our Blogs Are Flying!

I'll get to that review, I promise, but in the meantime you can watch some of the performance yourselves. Our seats were much better, but you have to love the video of a video moments on this clip.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Living Like a Hollywood

Gorgeous version of one of my favorite John Cale songs that will set up a review of the Decemberists with the LA Phil (strings!) at the Hollywood Bowl (practically Hollywood and Vine!!)I'm going to post at some point tonight.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

One Short Film about Glenn Gould

One of my favorite biographical films with a killer soundtrack.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bonnie Raitt, Eat Your Heart Out

Thought we might need to get a bit spiritual heading into the weekend. Some holy spirit guitar never hurts.

Friday Random Ten

Billy Bragg & Wilco "Black Wind Blowing" Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2
Victoria Williams "Vieux Amis" Swing the Statue
The Handsome Family "Snowball" The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides
Paul Revere & the Raiders "Steppin' Out" Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds "Abattoir Blues" Abattoir Blues
Dizzy Gillespie "Pickin' the Cabbage" Ken Burns Jazz: Dizzy Gillespie
The Originals "Good Lovin Is Just a Dime Away" Heaven Must Have Sent You: The Holland/Dozier/Holland Story
Morcheeba "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" Fragments of Freedom
Jonathan Richman "Higher Power" I, Jonathan
Lucinda Williams "Essence" Essence


Pixies "Blown Away" Bossanova

Random is the key word. But that JoJo cut is on one of our tapes for our wedding. And anyone who jokes about the Lucinda Williams' on our honeymoon tape gets punched out.


A Toothsome Grin

For Dog Blog Friday: Every once in a while Nigel seems to be auditioning for a role as a vampire in Buffy. We can't bring ourselves to tell him the show's no longer on the air.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Want to Hear You Blog Like a Pig

Friday is the 70th birthday of Ned Beatty, who broke into film when Crazy Mountain Man broke into his bottom. Sure enough, his career could only go up from there, no doubt making him squeal with joy. I bet you can imagine how that sounds. Rarely the lead, Beatty has been the sound bottom of the bill for many fine films ("Nashville") and some I'm sure he wished he left behind ("1941"). But somehow that first appearance in "Deliverance" has colored all his films--like a bad Burt Reynolds toupee, it's hard to stop thinking about it. Except for his magnificent turn as Arthur Jensen in "Network," when he gets to be god, who is a salesman of course (we are made in his image, after all).

A Summer Meme from Under the Floorboards

Barry Adamson looks as cool as he plays--what a terrifically broad, elastic bass sound. As for Howard DeVoto, I'll never forget one live show years ago in DC when he said something odd, an audience member shouted out, "You're joking, Howard," and he instantly sneered, "I never joke."

Summer YouTubes Don't Mean a Thing

Last year INTOBB ran a daily summer feature and I've been thinking about doing one again this year, too, so much so that the fireworks is spent and retail is setting up back to school sales already. Still, in an effort to believe it's never too late (like, say, to try to stop global warming? I want to be hopeful here, folks), I thought it might be fun to put up a YouTube find of the day, something I assume most of you might not have known about. Based on responses to my Random Ten, that shouldn't be too hard if YouTube cooperates.

Entry #1 (or 2, if you count yesterday's XTC) up in a bit.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Liberty Be a Lady Tonight

TBogg has us covered with X/Doe/Alvin and "Fourth of July" and perhaps the even more apt "See How We Are," so let's celebrate the 4th by climbing the torso of Liberty!

How young they were!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Portrait of Dorian McCaw

It's seeming more and more possible that Wendy McCaw uses the same older, more flattering photo of her younger self because she's actually stuck in a time warp. Perhaps hoping to short circuit a broadcast on Los Angeles' KCRW's "The Politics of Culture" today with Lou Cannon and Jerry Roberts (everyone invited from the News-Press declined), she instead offered up over 2200 words on line (and a shorter version in print). And she meant it so much she didn't even hide it behind the pay wall.

Now, one could go through this line by line (pretty much word by word) and pick it apart, but we all have lives and better things to do like dishes, or vacuuming, or nodding off to bad TV. Suffice to say it offers lines that must make Stanford cringe unless their blonde alum writes hefty enough checks. For instance:

You [the rant is addressed to Lou Cannon] assert you are beholden to no union, yet your words mimic the antics of a Union with the gravest history of corruption in its campaign against the News-Press and me as its owner.

OK, I can put up with the inconsistent capitalization of union, but how do words mimic antics? And while she wants, as always, to drag Jimmy Hoffa back kicking and screaming from the Meadowlands or wherever he's buried when discussing the Teamsters, note how that history of corruption immediately connects with a campaign against the N-P? And, of course, poor poor pitiful Wendy.

It's also striking to note her disdain for journalism itself (well, at least journalists--remember, she's an animal lover, not a lover of humanity), a very odd position to take if you actually own a newspaper. I mean, you don't hear the president of ABC say how horrible television is. But instead, she writes things like this:

The world has passed you by. Young people today no longer wear watches, no longer read newspapers, no longer watch TV news.

Here's hoping whatever folks she can still get to work for the shell that was the News-Press can understand how much youth culture is monolithic and stereotypical and more or less dreamed up by someone like Grandpa Simpson.

But separate from her inability to write a sentence, carry on a logical argument, avoid strawmen, and actually have some sense of the real world (no, not the Real World, dearie), there's this--she actually has the nerve to say to Cannon:

I challenge you to state a single legitimate agency "inquiry" that has found we violated a journalistic standard. None exists. It is simply more evidence why certain journalists today have committed a grave disservice to the public they claim to serve.

And, in her entire 2200+ word piece, four words never appear: National Labor Relations Board. It's as if none of the hearings, none of the past year, happened (well, they didn't get reported in the N-P so I guess they didn't). The NLRB isn't a legitimate agency? Maybe McCaw is only accountable to the mysterious fourth branch of US government run by Dick Cheney.

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LIbby Commutation, Liberals Sentenced for Life

Here's one more for the "now exactly why do you think the news media is leftwing?" file. At the end of her analysis of the Libby commutation, the LA Times' Janet Hook writes:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who at one recent candidate forum dodged the question of whether she believed Libby should be pardoned, made plain that Democrats would not let GOP candidates forget the issue.

"Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent," said Clinton, whose husband ended his presidency by granting a spate of pardons that stirred controversy.

"This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice," she said.

I'm no huge Hillary fan (way too moderate--or is that "triangulate"?--for me, plus it might be nice to have someone not a Bush or Clinton in the White House unless we're really hoping for a monarchy), but these graphs are just unfair. What does it matter what her husband did? Did she make those decisions? Either this means we're to think that Bill was just a tool for Hillary all those years or that Hillary will be a tool for Bill if she gets elected president. Neither seems likely with two such strong personalities.

Finally, as many have pointed out, Libby wasn't pardoned. Bush said, "Yeah, he's guilty, but I don't think he needs to suffer for that." And don't tell me that the fine won't come out of the $5 million raised for his defense. As for his hurt reputation, my guess is Ben Stein and Ken Starr are probably picking out an ocean-view office for him at Pepperdine about now.

Or maybe we should start a pool about how fast and where Libby will wind up. Get the date and school/think tank correct, and you win the White House's butt-smirched copy of the Constitution.

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Bush the Libby-rator (Rhymes with Traitor)

So BushCo has decided to learn lessons from Ulysses S. Grant, and I don't mean President Grant and his corrupt administration. I mean Grant the general. Grant managed to do what someone like McClellan never pulled off -- never retreat. Take a whomping, lots dead, but they had massive casualties too. Attack again. Move forward. Never admit to wrongdoing, to even considering any decision could be a mistake. It makes for ugly war and ugly politics.

Kung Fu Monkey sums it up best, what the Libby commutation means (hat tip Smitty):

Our representatives -- and to a great degree we as a culture -- are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man's corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty ... dammmnnnn.

We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying "You don't have the
balls to take down a government. You don't have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don't. What's beyond that abyss -- what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation -- terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way."

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Lose Lieberman

I've discovered a way for the Democrats to show they have a tiny bit of spine--stop letting Joe Lieberman caucus with them. On ABC's This Week Lieberman (of the Lieberman for Lieberman party) said, "Democratic candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards oppose the Iraq war out of deference to 'vested interest groups within the left.'"

OK, first what's a vested interest group? One that's been around long enough it can collect retirement? Sadly the peace movement might someday be vested, given this opinion that the Iraq War must rival the 100 Years War someday (since it's just like Korea, except for the part where Korea is two countries and we're there to prevent an attack over a border and there's no sectarian violence that kills scores weekly).

Second, when will the press point out how out of touch people are when they make such claims? So much for George Snuffalufagus being a lefty--he can't even be a moderate and ask probing questions. Here's a CBS poll released just last Friday:

More Americans than ever before, 77 percent, say the war is going badly, up from 66 percent just two months ago. Nearly half, 47 percent, say it's going very badly.

While the springtime surge in U.S. troops to Iraq is now complete, more Americans than ever are calling for U.S. forces to withdraw. Sixty-six percent say the number of U.S. troops in Iraq should be decreased, including 40 percent who want all U.S. troops removed.

Three-quarters of Americans are an interest group? Clearly they're a group more interested in reality and trying to end bloodshed than Lieberman is. I think the Dems should cut him loose. Let him go caucus with the Republicans and watch as he loses any power, for the Republicans will have no use for him. And if you can't do it, if you want to say he does represent what your party represents, well that tells us something, doesn't it.


Sunday, July 01, 2007


Originally uploaded by PabsV

Ramon Pupkin the famous kitten juggler takes a bow. Now if he could only get booked somewhere besides his apartment.

It's been a year that Tom and the gang have done random Flickr-blogging, so we were supposed to go through our archive and repost something (they call this the clip show on tv).

This was about my 5th attempt, and no one got it then, so I'd run it up the flagpole of the internets one more time.


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