June 29, 2005

Zap on War

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Zap Brannigan from Futurama, addressing the troops:

Soldier: "Why is this godforsaken planet worth dying for?"

Zap: "Don't ask me, you're the one who's going to be dying."

Fry: "Uh, just so we'll know - who's the enemy?"

Zap: "A valid question. We know nothing about their language, their history, or what they look like, but we can assume this: They stand for everything we don't stand for. Also, they told me you guys look like dorks."

Calling in Sick

So I can build my own enigma machine.

June 28, 2005

Curioser and Curioser

"Because of the clout of Alaska's congressional delegation, namely Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and US Sen. Ted Stevens, little national debate has occurred over the necessity for the rural transportation projects in Alaska compared to other highway needs in far more populous regions of the Lower 48.

"Alaska, population 630,000 gets $6 in subsidies for every $1 it pays to the federal treasury - making it the most heavily subsidized state in the country."

June 27, 2005

Do Not Listen to Beatles

Without referring to these detailed notes. Took this guy 8 years or so to put these together...

From the Mouths of Babes

The smart kid in my office says The Arcade Fire are good. They are currently sharing the stage with David Byrne, and apparently holding their own. Bossa Nova Punk, eh? Or Bonopunk for short...

June 26, 2005

Punging Lars

Just a brief explanation of the CDs received by the Laird today and the Sea Lord sometime this week.

In the blue case, a pundge mix, as discussed here, here, and here.

In the orange case, a CD reconstructing, as best as possible, a set I DJ'd for a friend recently under the most unusual circumstances. It was 2 a.m. on a Saturday night when the phone rang. An old friend, still big in the clubs, had an emergency - they'd brought in some Swedish techno-monkey, and he was making a hash of the scene. After lecturing my friend briefly - I'm a family man, I won't always be there for him - I slipped out of the bedroom, pulled my hidden crate of 12s out of the back closet, and jumped in a cab.

When I got there, it was worse than I'd thought. It looked like the aftermath of a medusa attack. The only discernible motion was DJ Lars (not his real name) bobbing his head to a mix that was somewhere between Kraftwerk and a grandfather clock. Well, that's unfair, there was some melodic thing going on - sort of an "oooob...oooob..." - perhaps inspired by walrus calls of his native land. The saddest cases were the kids who had taken drugs, only to discover that even the finest mind-altering substances could not shield them from the monotonous mediocrity of the nordic mix-monster.

In these situations, as with treatment of cardiac arrest, there is no time for half measures. In the cab I had thought perhaps a bit of Martine Girault to restore clarity, possibly some gentle rebalancing from the Jose Padilla ouevre (as discussed here). But on surveying the scene I realized there was no time for preliminaries. I unholstered my Adam F, my David Holmes, my Groove Armada, and let fly.

Fortunately, this musical defibrillation had the intended effect. Soon the vibe was restored, dancing resumed, and a sense of rhythmic celebration returned to the room. And thanks to a clever sign switch, DJ Lars ended up in the back alley, pounding on the locked emergency exit.

Interestingly, I have shared this experience with several people who questioned certain aspects of my account. I assure you, it is not difficult for a gifted amateur to play this game, as documented on this BBC documentary.

June 25, 2005

Wishing the Pistons Better Luck Next Year

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On Custer Day

  • "All during June 1876, events and Custer's own mistakes conspired against him. Experience in the plains wars indicated that the problem in fighting the Indians was not so much defeating them as it was getting them to stand and fight at all. This was one of Custer's major worries. Moreover, he had been led to believe by the Bureau of Indian Affairs not to expect more than 800 hostile braves; in fact he was probably confronted by over 4,000. Finally, he was not aware that many of his future foes were armed with Winchester repeating carbines, whereas his own men were equipped with single-shot Springfields. Thus of the three major aspects of military intelligence - the number of the enemy, their willingness to fight, and their armament - Custer was ignorant and unprepared." - Bruce Rosenberg, Custer and the Epic of Defeat
  • You probably knew that Crazy Horse was an important commander at Little Big Horn, repelling Reno's attack and then counterattacking and wiping out Custer's detachment. (Custer's commanding officer wrote this report to his superiors.) But Crazy Horse almost bagged another Army force in a well-organized ambush a week before, and in any event prevented it from reinforcing Custer. He also played a key role in the Fetterman Fight, the second worst whipping the Army took in the Indian wars.
  • And a brief moment of respect for Red Cloud, the only Indian commander to win a war against the U.S. Army, a decade before Little Big Horn.

June 24, 2005

Did I Mention All This Music Sucks?

So tonite I sit down to listen to some Dashboard Confessional, a reasonably new band, which the kids love. The best song I've found so far is a cover of an old REM song, Drive. Well, not exactly a cover, since Michael Stipe sings. It's good. However this reviewer points out that the song owes a lot to David Essex's Rock On, which might actually be better...and we're back in 1973 again.

Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Flash: Everything is Normal

Daily News Headline: No Cement Shortage in Alaska.

And in other Alaska News:

Fairbanks Tsunami-Free

Intense Pressure of Celebrity Culture, Looking Perfect Not Daunting Citizens of Chikaloon

Anchorage Music Scene Not The Rage

Muldoon Total Lack of Artists Community Not Being Forced Out of Trendy Loft Spaces

Alaska Women Not Begging for Dates

Another Walmart Not Not Built

Oil Lobbyists Definitely Not Going Anywhere

Breakup Did Not Fail to Reveal Copious Poo

New Anti-Missile System Does Not Stop Missiles

Wasilla Fails to Clinch Total Crystal Meth Consumption Record

University of Alaska Does Not Win Nobel Prize in Anything Again

Speeding Pickup Did Not See Family of German Tourists

June 23, 2005

First Sea Lord Notes: Trafalgar 200 Year Anniversary

Highlights of the day– Tuesday 28th June 2005

Trafalgar 200


Her Majesty The Queen commences her formal review of the International Fleet off Southsea
17:30Air Display starts
18:00Tall ships position for battle
19:00First part of the show begins/td>
19:30Nelson joins his Fleet
21:20Let battle commence
22:10Firework finale
22:30Grand lighting of the Fleet

23:00 Mixing of The Grog (- Add on my authority - FSL)

Your participation is requested and required.

Spoofing the Times

Maybe what set me off was watching the movie Hype! on cable the other night. If you haven't seen it, it's an excellent documentary of the Seattle grunge scene. It was made in 1996, late enough that everyone knew it was over, but soon enough after that memories were still reasonably fresh.

Anyway, I learned for the first time from this movie that an article I had read in the New York Times about grunge-speak, long ago, was a brilliant prank.

This Reading Demonstrates an Understanding of Party Doctrine

Superman: Red Son arrived in the mail today, and I devoured it like a bag of Fritos. It's real, real good. Good plot, good myth, good art, even good jokes:

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Everyone must read it. Dissent is treason. Guardian review is here.

ColdPlay: Putting Rock Deeper in the Muck-Fulled Graves

If you missed it, EVEN the New York Times -that welding tip of hepness- hates Coldplay.

I proudly assert that Seattle, if not the source anymore, is still the Ref of rock - that shit don't play here.

June 22, 2005

Punish the Deadbeat Cancer Patients

Without comment, here are two recent developments:

Harvard study finds about 1/2 of U.S bankruptcies are due to medical expenses.

Compassionately conservative Congress passes tougher bankruptcy law.

Oops, Missed Another Decade

In 1992 I realized I'd missed the 80's and did a major project to identify great music of the era. I found both of the songs and put them on a mix tape. This project has since been superceded by the superb GTA: Vice City soundtrack.

Sooo...the Sea Lord makes a good point. There has been great music recorded in, say, the last ten years, I just haven't heard much of it. Three trends have ensured that most of it has escaped my attention:
  • Narrowcasting - the New York Times Magazine, in its review of Beck's Sea Change pointed out that the album could have been another Sergeant Pepper or Nevermind, but that the mass distribution system that helped create the popularity of those albums is extinct. (I never listened to the album because why pay to be depressed?) Today music is pushed out to niches, designed by marketers for particular demographics, making it harder for people to find good (as opposed to demographically suitable) music. As result, I get force-fed crap from Wilco that looks right, sounds right, fits my needs, and, upon closer inspection, sucks. Green Day's going-through-the-motions Boulevard of Broken Dreams can go in that box as well.
  • The End of Art as We Know It - Old people have been saying this since Glen Miller's plane crashed, but most of the music these kids listen to is crap. I mean in the past five years it's just freaking garbage. I'm up for the Shock of the New, and all I get is pimpin' and posin' and sweatsuits and lame dance routines (I'm seeing better pop dancing on Hong Kong TV for God's sake).
  • The screaming of small children drowns out most of the music in my household anyway.

So I'm doing what I did in the late 80's - submerging in retro. Slim and Slam, JJ Cale, American Analog Set (founded in 1994, they are now almost a nostalgia act) now dominate my playlists, punctuated by occasional old favorites.

So, to frame the question as precisely as possible: what music of the past ten years has been overlooked, that could be regarded by sophisticates like ourselves as real good? Stuff that would be the equivalent of the Pixies' Cactus or Big Black's Kerosene back in the day.

One I would recommend to all is Gospel Plough from the Screaming Trees' critically acclaimed final album Dust (1996). (Thanks to First Sea Lord for the tip.)

I can spare a kind word for The Postal Service. I was going to spare another for Pulp, but they've been around since 1978, which sort of returns us to the original premise.

First person to mention Coldplay or OK Computer gets a mysterious package in the mail from a reclusive friend of mine in Idaho.

June 21, 2005

My Faith In Humanity is Restored

Thanks to this list.

You Know You're A Lousy President When...

J.J. Cale, one of the most laid-back people in the country, writes a protest song about you. Without further ado, here are the lyrics to The Problem:

Have you heard the news that's goin' round here
The man in charge has got to go
Cause he dances round the problem - boy
And the problem is the man in charge you know
Now, the young knows what I'm talking 'bout
It's a con in the old man's game
The man in charge he don't know what he's doing
He don't know the world has changed
Power seems to be so far up
The man on the street ain't got a clue
The high top cats running your life
Thinks the problem is me and you
Born in a time that has gone by
The old tell the young what to do
Have you heard the news that's goin' round here
The problem is the man in charge of you
The problem is the man in charge of you
Power seems to be so far up
The man on the street ain't got a clue
The high top cats running your life
Thinks the problem is me and you
Have you heard the news that's goin' round here
The man in charge has to go
The man in charge has got to go

The Lair Recommends: Batman Begins

I didn't think I'd live to see it. They actually made a good Batman movie. I'm shocked, and pleasantly stunned.

They hired a director who could direct. Actors who could act. Writers who could write. Amazing what happens when the Hollywood crap-machine lends their audience even teensiest bit of respect. No...wait: it was a film. There was no product placement! (Unless you count Wayne Industries.)

June 19, 2005

Has Anyone Seen This?

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From Superman: Red Son.

June 18, 2005

With MST Gone We Have to Find Our Own Bad Movies

Tonite's Sci-Fi world premiere movie, Hammerhead, is awesomely bad. It has all the things a bad movie needs to be enjoyable - a remote island laboratory, an over-the-top supervillain, a genetic freak monster, a plucky team of scientists (including hot babes) willing to risk all, and terrible acting, scriptwriting and special effects. William Forsythe plays his role competently, and Jeffrey Combs does a terrific job - really, Ed Wood-ian- of playing the evil scientist in his jungle lab.

See it if you can, it is a delight.

Up Down and Through Archery

My first, arrow-munching experiment today in 3-d Archery was a resounding entertainment success, if not an especial threat to the targets in question.

For $10 at Kenmore Gun Ranges, you get a field archery range, and a nice rough up and down trail through the woods with bag targets above, beyond and below you at a large variety of ranges. It took me an hour and half to walk through shooting- the wildish, dell dodging trail was stacked with creeks, trees, foilage, even a few birds nervous from random fire from the gun range; the trail by itself was a decent little hike, designed to get you to shoot up, down, through trees, behind them, and off-balance. Unused to adjusting to rapidly shifting ranges and angles, my black and yellow arrows landed in stumps, mud, and on rare occassions in actual muddy bag targets with pictures of bears and elk on them, at ranges from around 30 to 70 yards. The idea is to vary the target as much as possible- it was loads of fun to walk around and shoot things, watching the arrow arc through the trees and occassionally stick in them, where the longbow's advantage comes into play - I discovered you can reach the arrow almost 12 feet off the ground and wobble it out.

I like my traditional longbow choice more and more - it's all about instinctive shooting and well suited for this sort of thing, particularly because it's so light while you're bushwhacking looking for your last arrow.

The slight nervousness you feel is from the fact that it's a little hard to tell if someone is behind you shooting accidently at the huge fern you're searching through, and of course the constant gunfire. But the latter wasn't as a bad as you might think.

My only suggested improvement - 15th century French calvary targets.

June 17, 2005

In the 21st Century...

...cancer won't be cured,
computers will be slow, buggy, and impossible to secure,
serious space travel will be a memory from the 70's...

but you'll be amazed at the shoes (if you're invited and can afford them).

First Sea Lord Blindly Recommends: "Grizzly Man"

Timothy Treadwell and the grizzly bears of the Alaskan wilderness. Photo credit: Timothy Treadwell

Today's Special

Great german art movie director Werner Herzog (!), best known as the man behind Fitzcaraldo, finally gets to Alaska in Grizzly Man, a documentary on the life and death as bear dinner of Tim Treadwell, the man obsessed by bears who lived among them for many years - in the sense of petting wild bears, setting up tents in the middle of their trails, and eventually screaming for his girlfriend to hit the bear that was eating him with a frying pan, the only defense he permitted himself and the direct result of which was that she ended up as desert.

Composed of new interviews and lots of old footage, Herzog himself narrates the movie. Herzog's perspective is that "the common denominators of the universe are chaos, hostility and murder," which is at the very least distinct from Treadwell, who was seeking communality with hungry bears. But even considering the incredible amount of ditzy trouble Treadwell went to to actually get eaten, he was a genuine advocate for our fellow hairy grumpy creatures; every time Alaska Fish and Game comes up with some new helicopter borne brown bear machine-gunning rule, I fall more and more on Treadwell's sweet and softly deluded side.

I missed it at the Seattle International Film Festival, but if it doesn't show in Anchorage soon someone is missing a golden opportunity to rent out a theater. The very bearish critics in Seattle gave in an unambigious "A."

Girls Got Downing Street Memo

In the assorted dust-ups over the Downing Street memo that with the political weakening of Bush are growing into a proper hoo-hah, I wonder why we didn't even mention it here, except indirectly, and whether those reasons are shared by nerf-spined editors or are another creature entirely.

Here, I think we all assumed that it was pretty well established that the Adminstration made shit up to go to war, (or MASUTOGOTOW) a part of the fabric of unnecessary to state truisms, like CG is somewhat unsatisfying or Paul Lynde was gay. It would be, like Dr. Jerkoff in Flesh Gordon, saying with a deep breath "good- there's oxygen on this planet. "

With relentless, witty left wing ranting, fact revealing, and unapologetic assaults on our opponents' manhoods (or what I like to call, The Way) , the media are reporting how amazing it was they didn't report on it. This may have happened under direct White House pressure on media organizations, who have caved like a coal mine propped up with Barbie dolls- that, not the original treasonous, cynical lying about war and peace and the death of tens of thousands, is likely to be the scandal.

And here is where Bush's anemic polls come into play. There's blood in the water, and the media do not miss a shark feeding. They have been cowards, and they may try to prove their challenged courage by pouncing on weakness.

June 16, 2005

Noted With Interest

"Over the last ten years the first lesson in my course on Music and the Moving Image has begun with an well-tried commutation trick. I have attempted to focus attention, as tangibly as possible, on music’s ability to bring about radical changes in our interpretation of the images it accompanies. This old trick consists of playing the same thirty-second sequence three times in succession, first with no music, to establish the visual sequence of events, then with the music written expressly for the sequence, and finally with music of contrasting character. It is worth describing this procedure in a little detail in order to concretise music’s power in influencing our interpretation of concurrent events. That power is both manifest and elusive, and it is necessary to identify this contradiction if we wish to address the question of manipulation in relation to music and the moving image.1

"The musical commutation trick I play uses the title sequences from the original series of the British TV soap Emmerdale Farm (Hatch 1972).2 This footage consists almost entirely of one single, slow, smooth helicopter pan, shot from a few hundred feet in the air looking right and diagonally downwards. This visually legato pan takes the viewer from right to left over rolling green hills, over irregularly and ‘organically’ shaped fields bordered with stone walls (Yorkshire Dales in northern England); it continues, all in the same take, over a small village nestling in the valley, its houses built in grey stone, its churchyard flanked by large, round leafy trees (not winter). In the mid distance of the same helicopter sweep, a small car moves slowly, also left to right, past the village green. A final soft fade, the only edit in the thirty-second sequence, points the viewer towards a grey-stone farmhouse and farmyard set against a green hillside.

"The original music for these sequences, Tony Hatch’s Emmerdale Farm theme (1972), belongs unquestionably to the same basic European tradition of pastoral music as do ‘Dawn’ from Grieg’s Per Gynt, or the idyllic herding section in Rossini’s William Tell overture, or the pastoral symphony in Händel’s Messiah. Like those pieces, the Emmerdale Farm signature is in 6/8 time and performed at a leisurely pace ( = 72). The title music’s legato e cantabile oboe tune, which moves mainly in quavers, and whose individual phrases span an octave, is, with the exception of short suspensions that are immediately resolved, accompanied by piano arpeggios reminiscent of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.3 The circle-of-fifths progressions heard in the piano part are padded out by a full string orchestra playing held chords.4 The pastoral sphere of connotation was recognised from the music on other occasions when it was played without visual accompaniment to respondents unable to identify the piece. Asked to write down the most likely scenario for this music, almost all of them provided one of the following associations: country(side), British, romantic, melancholy, nostalgia.5

"The music of contrasting character which replaces the pastoral music in the third viewing of the same visual sequences is a ten-second phrase, repeated three times from the AC/DC song Girls Got Rhythm. The effect is immediate and dramatic. My students leap from their chairs and dance uncontrollably as the undeniable power of the Scots/Australian power pop geniuses circumvents their cerebra and mainlines primordial rhythms into their basal ganglia. In moments, the pastoral scene is transformed into a Celtic bacchanal..."

(Modesty prevents me from quoting further.)

Free Money In Washington

Yes, I know it seems like evil spam, but the actual State of Washington has a seachable database for abandoned property - the design of which allows you to search on behalf of friends who, Eric, might have free money coming to them. (The site was referred from the Seattle PI, and you MAIL the request in).

Great IM Messages in History #1

Napoleanjesuis1: I am coming home in three days.
Josephine237: ?!?! :D
Napoleanjesuis1: Don't wash ;)

HNelson34: England Orders Every Man to Do His Duty
trflgarfleet: <]:l
*Expects* (sorry)

TheDesertFox: but we must release the panzers, immediately!!
Fuhrer1: wait til morning k?
TheDesertFox: But sir!
Fuhrer1: /}:^=(

June 15, 2005

Felt to FBI: PWNED!!!

Felt led the FBI Deep Throat investigations. "No sign of him here, sir!"

"At one point, Felt officially met with Woodward in what appears to have been a move to cover himself..."

June 14, 2005

That Was a Quick 25 Years

Airplane! is 25 years old. And still the funniest movie (and, since happiness is the best of all emotions, therefore the greatest movie) I have ever seen.

In a flashback to happier  --  and sandier  --  times, Hagerty bonds with Robert Hays.

I wish some of them pompous academic types would explain why Airplane! is so great (sorry, the Greek subtitles angle is sewn up - get your own thesis topic). Some of my pet theories about the movie:
  • It's very postmodern - practically everything in it is a parody of something else.
  • The reason the plot works so well, creating a scaffolding for the jokes, is that they stole the script lock-stock-and-barrel from Zero Hour.
  • The casting of well-known washed-up character actors, playing their insane roles straight. As ROGER EBERT points out, "it was able to exploit our associations with its stars, particularly Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack and Peter Graves. They played against their own images as only they could."
  • The deconstruction of the scripted roles - the outing of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my favorite, with Lloyd Bridges' exposure as a glue-sniffing freak running a close second.
God I love that movie. It remains the only movie that made me literally roll in the aisles. It pushed the limits when there were still limits to push. It was very topical when it was made, yet ages well, perhaps because it had a deeper existential point - life stinks, without humor we are nothing. I laugh, therefore I am.

And no, I'll never get over Macho Grande.

JP Morgan Fined $2.2 Billion

...for its role in the Enron scandal. And every single executive involved must give back his salary and bonus for the time period in question, and is barred from the industry for a period of five years.

Ha ha, just kidding, they get to keep all the money and keep working. Sometimes I crack myself up.

June 13, 2005

Slow News Day

Wanting to contribute but lacking a single drop of creative juice, I crib the following from FAIR: (note shooting fish in barrel follows)

Cable news networks are devoting significant time to covering Natalee Holloway, an Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba. But the most popular cable host has urged the media to exercise some caution.

On June 9, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly explained, "As you may know, we do not speculate here on 'The Factor.' We have no idea what happened to Natalee or why she left the bar with some Aruban men. I've heard some irresponsible media speculate about that, and it makes me angry."

For those who have been following O'Reilly's coverage of the case, this must have been puzzling. If not "speculation," what would O'Reilly call the following statements he has made about the Holloway case?

"Looks like she's dead because the five people, two arrested, three interviewed, are all shady characters." (6/6/05)

"I think this was a straight abduction scene. OK? Was she probably -- she went to a Boyz II Men concert before she went to the bar, where she danced and partied. All right? Then she indeed and everybody saw her leave with a couple of guys. Now after that is when I-- obviously, she got into trouble." (6/6/05)

"But to me, I mean, a woman like this, 18 years old, we know her background, doesn't have sex with three guys she doesn't know. I mean, that doesn't happen." (6/6/05)

O'REILLY: And that, unfortunately, leaves me to believe that this poor woman, the chances of her being alive right now are not strong....She's at the bottom of the ocean.

DeLONG(retired FBI agent and guest on show): That's what's got me worried.

O'REILLY: She's at the bottom of the ocean.

DeLONG: It's not looking good.

"I think one of these sleazy thugs will flip. And we'll probably have this solved at the end of the week -- by the end of the week." (6/6/05)

O'REILLY: You have a long history investigating murder. A girl gone this long?

PATRICK J. BROSNAN (Former New York City homicide detective): It smells very bad. 240 hours. Where is she? It's a small island.

O'REILLY: It's either she's held captive someplace, because there is that sex trade in the Caribbean. So there is a possibility that they didn't do that. But if you don't have a body, if they threw the body in the ocean, and there are a lot of sharks, you know.

This sort of speculation is nothing new to O'Reilly. When the story of "runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks became a cable news sensation, O'Reilly announced (4/29/05): "It's got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job.... She just wouldn't bolt and not tell anybody." As it turned out, of course, that's just what Wilbanks did.

And O'Reilly has "speculated" about far more important matters as well. Shortly after the September 11 attacks (9/14/01), he declared: "Saddam Hussein... I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing. I believe that you're going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped this happen." No evidence to back up this speculation has since emerged.

And before the invasion of Iraq, O'Reilly repeatedly speculated about how long military operations would take. "I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week," he challenged one guest (1/29/03).

On another show, O'Reilly asserted, "Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there's no question that it will." When his guest countered that the war was "going to go on for months," O'Reilly retorted: "There's no way. There's absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it's maybe hours. They're going to fold like that" (2/10/03).

(some emphasis added by your Secretary)

If you have nothing better to do, like smashing small bugs, consider sending a Cleveland steamer to the assbag at: oreilly@foxnews.com

June 12, 2005

The Laird Recommends: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

M. and I went to see Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room in a theater on Saturday. Very good, very interesting, and very thought provoking. Thoughts like, "Who committed the biggest crime?" And, "Was this inevitable?" Also, "How can I get my hands around the necks of the California electricty traders?

Meth Lab Incident Maps


Interesting Documentary

This explains a lot (need Quicktime).

It is by this man, who is bucking for the Nobel Prize for abusive comedy.

The Electorate Clears Its Throat

"Would you say Congress is mostly cheats and liars?" 65% say "well, duh."

Speaking of adorable kittens: KITTENWAR!

as in Kittenwar.com!

While Toby is currently king of the hill, you'll note that he is a relative newcomer when compared with grizzled vets like Hobbes (with Tucker) and "Stretch"

Only time will tell if he has the staying power to remain king of the hill...

The Curious History of Alaska Punk Rock, Post-Sex Crimes

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The sad, oddly heroic, always doomed tale of desperate Alaskans , (part II here) trying to make a punk rock scene in Anchorage from '83 on; in this instance, by punk rock, of course we mean anything at all that was trying something slightly original in small rock combos. This included my own granola-grit band, the Disastronauts, the classic Skate Death, the metal band Hyperthermia, the ubitquitous TS Scream and Hopskotch, and the lone escapees - the Drunk Poets, who left and were marginally successful. In essence, there was one band of each type of 90's music, and everybody shared the same bills, which in some ways, is exactly how it should be. There were O'D's, murders, crossovers with classical musicians and politicians, evaporating clubs struggling to last weeks, a paucity of women, and a lot of overpriced beer.

Imagine hauling a 70lb amp over an ice-encrusted broken stairs in 15 below to practice in a trailer home, convincing your metalhead drummer to knock off the double bass kit, getting ready to play in an ex-steakhouse that just lost its lease and didn't care anymore, all to avoid seeing yet another set of Top 40 covers with $5 Buds, and you get the idea.

June 11, 2005

Not Microsoft's Finest Hour

Users of the [Chinese] joint-venture portal, formally launched last month, have been blocked from using a range of potentially sensitive words to label personal websites they create using its free online blog service, MSN Spaces.

Attempts to input words in Chinese such as "democracy" prompted an error message from the site: "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech from this item." Other phrases banned included the Chinese for "demonstration", "democratic movement" and "Taiwan independence".

June 10, 2005

Bush Finds the Suck Spot

We'll have to take our schaudenfreudes where we find them- the record 55% disapproval, 43% (!) approval of Bush helps.

And Still There Are Doubters

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Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: The Bronx Cheer Bombadier

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It had been as wonderful a night as you can have in East Greenland in Spring. I was dizzy with Dardenella, who had hopped the secret long-range gyrocopter with me for the Trans Atlantic flight to Hendon air base. That was a cold flight, so cold her nipples probably arrived several seconds before we did.

Probably why I let my guard down. Churchill himself had called- that is, called me a brainless hedgehog buggerer, and demanded that I be held accountable for single-handedly ruining the cruiser HMS Hammerblowwith a straw and a box of uranium powder that clearly should not have been left lying around labeled "confectionary sugar." How was I to know that our impromptu repairs to the radium-powered robotic torso of fake-FDR would lead us to the Hammerblow instead of home to Heidelberg?

But right then the in-transit "Sweaty" Stacks And His Flinging Fardrops band was making The Fatty Arbuckle Memorial Air Force Base and Greater Nuuk swing, and when they played "Ol' Groat's Man-Frog Boogie," in A minor, I twirled Dardenella so hard she snapped the Town Quonset's baleen wainscotting with her Mary Janes. I eventually convinced an ingenuous Des Moines Air Corps captain that the decanter of Hennesey was actually fermented walrus vomit, a famous local beverage, and it was free booze till curfew, when a moon-faced MP armed with a harpoon cannon pulled us out of the photo booth at a peculiarly awkward moment when I was arguably flossing with her garter belt.

Snug at the hotel, or by some standards, moth eaten seal fur hut, I stuffed Dardenella in the down comforter, and then I put her to bed.

"Darling, don't ever leave me, " she cooed, like the famous besmitten water yak of Beruit.
"I'll be back to love you momentarily," I replied logically.

Since it was a strictly no-smoking hut, I slammed the flap and stepped outside into the gentle blizzard for a quick pipe of Captain Beemish's Old Tar-Yarn. In the stiff Nor' Easter, the acrid smoke rose and zipped away like an unstable electron with antisocial tendencies.

"Who on earth is reroofing at this time of night?" asked Dardenella.
"No one, Mentholyptus Drops. Go to sleep."

Through the darky dark and blowing snow and sleeting sleet, I noticed a lurking shape lumber in and out a view. Danger! I picked up an ancient whale gun and as I was cramming shot, marbles, razors, dried marmets and some 1937 cupcakes into the barrel a thud thudded on my temple like a Stanley Steamer over a pet gerbil named Larry.

This was the first time I was hit by an aria- an old wax cylinder, which is softer than vinyl, but it was filled with lead, which is heavier. Pain. Darkness. Darkness like a black box of black velvet soaked in pitch and dropped into an underground lake in an abandoned coal mine in a particularly uneducated part of West Virginia.

I woke up zipped inesacapably in an army sleeping bag in a Kayak cutting quitely through the smooth, deadly Arctic water, surprised to see Herman Goering paddling. No, it was Moon-face, the 320 lb MP, wearing an unusual combination of light blue sealskin parka and swastika armband. The Sergeant was a filthy Heinie! And just ahead a Dornier Flying Boat idled ominously in the grabby, pushy, surly, pokey cold. I naturally had a tiny specialty .45, so small it was actually wider than it was long in my wool socks, but it might has well have been on the moon, and as the bag got wetter and colder it got smaller and smaller, so that I felt like a big soggy kidnapped cold wet apple worm being delivered to the Red-breasted Robin of death.

There was one option, riskier than pleasing an excitable floozy in the Buffalo nitroglicerin factory with a 1.5 hp electric massager: I could wriggle in the kayak hole like Josephine Baker for a free box of opium and try to tip Moon-Face out into the deadly North Atlantic. I worked back and forth in my sleeping bag, rocking the boat with my elbows trapped inside the musty down -

"Hey," yelled Moon-Face. "No! Mein Gott in Schnitzel!"

The kayak tipped hard and there was a crack through thin ice and a distinct BLOOOP, like a someone dropped a Wells-Fargo safe in a vat of creme broule. The armband floated up with extra poignancy to the surface of the inky black sea, along with a small plastic duck he kept for company. It finally disappeared, fading into black with a fatalistic squeek.

BRRRAPRPRPRPRPRAP! Automatic weapons fire from the Dornier! Holes and Feathers! The rifle fire ripped through my bag at all kinds of points and the feathers floated in the sky - but nothing hit me, save a couple of rounds grazing my scalp and pouring sticky hot blood on the inside of the fluffy bag, which was still wedged tight in the hole with me flopping around like landed swordfish hopped up on Venezualan Bungo weed. I then realized that a skin kayak was not usually armored against fuzzy bunnies, let alone the newly chattering 20mm cannon, and as growing flurry of feathers hid me, the kayak was sinking faster than Jack Benny's hopes of getting lucky in Stalingrad.

The Dornier started turning into the wind, back towards me, satisfied I was doomed, and there dragging behind was the trailing antenna and my chance, if I could somehow grab it. I got an arm through a feathery cannon hole and searched the kayak - and, in tremendous luck, I found a 25, 000 foot roll of telegraph wire. Apparantly, from the brochure in the bow, Moon-Face Heinie was laying cable literally for once, to the secret German meterological station out on Disagreeable Oyster Point.

The Dornier passed, engines taxiing, it's wake alone ready to swamp what little of me was still above water. I made an sudden roll to the right and managed to grab the antenna dragging in the water with my teeth, and made a one-handed Fisherman's Bend, or was it a Washerwoman's Dalliance? to the telegraph wire, tying down the other end to the painter.

Several minutes later, I was clearly the world sea speed holder for small skin canoes as I skimmed the waves at 137 mph with the Dornier high ahead at about 7000 feet. In this way I also set several trans-Atlantic records that have generally gone unrecognized, and 16 hours later I let the line go, skimming my way neatly into Brest Harbor, as the suddenly unburdened Dornier rose up too quickly, stalled, and spun in, finally crashing into Francois' Boulangerie D'Obsene, scattering titty cakes and penis-shaped eclairs high into the air. This created enough of a distraction for me to alight softly on the beach and begin running away, but the sleeping bag zipper was still stuck and I was eventually captured by a recuperating 15th Panzer division accountant whose legs had been amputated after a experimental hydrogen-powered calculator explosion, and were replaced with roller skates. Embarassing. Soon, I was in the hands of the SS, and at the sight of the " SS Quality Assurance Customer Service Questionairre" passed out cold, exhausted, but not before accidently stabbing myself in the leg with the pen.


It was a sound, familiar and ugly. By now, I knew it well. No one forgets the sound of being pounded in the head with a complete RCA cylinder copy of Wagner's Ring cycle, featuring Helga Clauswitz with Austro-Hungarian State Orchestra at Der Swankinmeister Opera House in Vienna in 1917. It's just that this time, as I looked down, I was becoming dimly aware -between blows in C minor- that I was in the bomb-bay of a Heinkel 177 strapped to a 5oolb HE bomb looking over what must be lower Manhattan in the evening, because I could also smell Newark. This partly explained my dizzyness, and that there was no plane, blimp, gyrocopter or plump downy goose between me and the questionable mercies of the East River.

A humorless Luft-Kraut gave me a look that was the curiously precise opposite of pleasant. He waved a sinister greeting with a black fingerless glove, by which I mean he had no fingers, and made to pull a red lever that, though I couldn't read Hun, most certainly did not say "Candy Corn Dispenser."

"How does it feel to know that your whole life has led up to this moment, as merely another munition for Third Reich?"

Before I could reply, a tall, black haired cookie with a Louise Brooks haircut, a yard long cigarette holder made out of a leopard tibia decorated with Disney characters, black fingernails an inch long and wearing a form-fitting black jacket and black leather boots so high they were technically guilty of statutory rape in 42 states, smacked me in the neck with another yet pompous aria. She was a looker, all right, the kind of tomato that's usually the last thing you ever see.

"Some clowns pay for this sort of thing, Toots, and here the Luftwaffe's giving it away." I burbled. This would have been more bitterly witty if my broken teeth bits hadn't muffed up the delivery, making "Luftwaffe giving it away" sound more "Let's Alfalfa sitting lady," a phrase I had actually heard once in a bar in Winnipeg.

"And now I must offer you my regrets," said the humorless hatchet faced fascist fly boy.

Then Cookie kicked me in the ribs, spiked me in the throat with her heel, squirted me with a soda bottle and gave me an Indian burn. Finally she bent down to sarcastically kiss me on the head and said one of the most welcome sentences I've ever heard.

Cookie leaned over me andwhispered "Darling Brain, there's a parachute taped to the underside of the bomb. A parachute! You have a chance if..."

"Farewell, Dr. Brain!"

And now I was being sent return mail to Amerika on the biggest bomb since Gone With the Wind II: The Reconstruction Era. I looked at the officer with his corpsy white hovering over the red handle of my doom. "Do you expect me to talk?"

"Talk?" He paused, looked a little confused, inspected a thick set of paperwork on a clipboard marked "SS" in large, weirdly cartoony letters. "Errr...Excuse me...," he said, grabbing an intercom handset for an abrupt conversation. He whipped out a pencil and went over a checklist, and looked up, crestfallen.

"I am...zis is most embarassing....we have a had something of a bureaucratic error, and it has now come to my attention zat no one has marked off 'interogated throughly' on the list. I must apologize"

I looked down at Empire State through the night clouds. "Not at all. Happens all the time."

"Ah here it is! Under ze 'Emergency Exceptions for Amerikanzer Detective Scum.'"

He tripped the lever without ceremony, and I was falling faster then Belgian Endive futures in October '29, the airstream whacking me like a Norwegian whacking whale. I could just see Cookie pointing vigorously to the left, and the big bomber veered off north into the night, while I had a date of infamy with the Big Apple.

I was able to wriggle my wrist out of the ropes - I could just reach my right jacket pocket. A knife! She'd slipped it to me like a picture of The Uterus in Hygine class. I promised myself to look Cookie up after the war.. Then I fumbled around with the knife, and dropped it, 25,000 feet over the best hot pastrami on the Lower East Side.

Fortunately, I was falling at the time, and I was able to reach out and get it back. As New York was getting noticeably closer and the warhead was screaming, I sawed myself free, reached around the bomb and found the parachute pack. A note was attached: "Dear Mack - Hope this works! - Love, Liebchen, " signed with a little heart and smiley face. Who was this dame? I struggled to get the pack on, and with about 2000 feet left managed it and pulled the ripcord, watching the bomb fall away in front of me - a new problem, as it occured to me I was about to parachute into a huge explosion.

But a gust caught it and it hit the East River. No force known to man could explode the East River, except itself, and the muck swallowed the monster like a fallen Catholic girl with a penis-shaped eclair. Then I heard the second monstrous BLOOOOP! I'd heard that week, and floated gently down to Clinton Street, smelling the pastrami of freedom.


Farewell Mrs. Robinson

Anne Bancroft was so hot. I'm told she appeared in other films, too.

And Now the Actual News For Adorable Kittens

Mario the cat

Our kittens are facing a dire threat: the washing machine.

1. 10 Minutes of Terror.
2. Shaken, and Spun.
3. Kiss of Life.
4. The Old Dryer Abandonment.

Ally the kittenShawn Wright, 18, is charged with animal cruelty

Who tried - but failed - to feed whom to an Alligator?

Man Charged in Kitten Tossing

And Finally-

The Cat As Artist.

No one chased around a mouse, or ate any of those tasty little bits of tuna, yum, yum.

It's Just This Sort of Thing Won't Go Over Well in The Bellevue Family Court

A Bellevue, WA Mr. Mom kidnaps his kids from actual Mom and tries to abscond with them to Iran, saying that they would be better off dead than growing up in the corruption of America. Intercepted in Amsterdam, his public defender is working on release, while the prosecutor explains that the literal translation of the Farsi does seem a bit harsh.

June 09, 2005

The Dots of Happiness

What are these? These are the dots of happiness. The dots. Of Happiness.
They appear at art shows when all your paintings sell,

rent out

or are held for sale.

Like tonight. 4 paintings, 4 dots.


"I'm Gonna Get Der Furher Sure as Shootin

IRON CANDY is the (honorific) title of a blog I set up just for presenting REBAR FOR TOOTSIE ROLLS on a single weblog. IronCandy.blogspot.com. It contains the complete intermittent adventures of Dr. Max Marion Brain in his relentless pursuit of the atomic nazi robot problem.

And now, to get you in the mood, here are the complete lyrics of the song "I'll get Der Furher, Sure as Shooting," By "Slim" Johnny Bond in the 1943 Cowboy Nazi spy ring epic "Cowboy Commandos."

"I'm Gonna Get der Führer, Sure as Shootin'"

I'm gonna get der Führer, sure as shootin',
With my rootin' tootin' .45, I swear.
We'd get our man without much tally hootin'.
So old pickle puss, I'm warning you, beware.

With a noose around his head,
And his body full of lead,
I'll deliver him as dead as dead can be.
I'm gonna get der Führer, sure as shootin',
And that ought to make a hero out of me.

I'm gonna get der Führer, sure as shootin'.
When we cowpokes go out huntin' we don't stop.
I'll send his band of bandits all a scootin',
And make a clean up of the filthy lot.

My lariat I'll twine
Around that silly swine,
And I'll spank the Nazi Heinie*, wait and see.
I'm gonna get der Führer, sure as shootin',
And that ought to make a hero out of me.

Stand By For the Draft

Don't worry, it will be small at first.

"The shortfalls have led to speculation that the government might be forced to reinstitute the draft. There is little support for that in Congress, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ruled it out, saying the all-volunteer force has proven the wisdom of discontinuing the draft in 1973."

June 08, 2005

Warhol Foundation Sues Thai Artists for Copying Warhol's Copies of Pop Imagery Which Were Actually Painted By His Female Assistant after 1963

The title says it all - it's a serious Warholian moment.

What would Picasso do? (WWPD?)

Climate: Repeatedly Prevaricating Lying Liars

Know-nothing evil phillistine Bush clown #312B simply makes shit up about climate change and edits it into key government report, but at least it's documented, here in the NYT.

One may be forgiven for hoping the extinct Tasmanian tiger is found alive, brought to Washington and then rips this oil goon's face off.

 Posted by Hello

June 07, 2005

Sculpture and Painting

Sara 9 and Sculpture, Installation View

First Sea Lord is Displeased

There appear to be more distressing reports of innocent fellows lost at sea being ignored by other vessels, abandoned to senseless weeks of fear and suffering. I needn't be forced to remind you that it is the immemorial custom of the Service, as well as seamen everywhere, to rescue their brother sailors in distress!

-First Sea Lord

June 06, 2005

Hack the World War!

Well, since everyone's talking about panzers all of a sudden, I thought I'd bring you up to date on Panzer General 2, the game that wouldn't die. I may have mentioned that the game ceased commercial production in the late 90's, and its developer went bankrupt.

And then something weird happened - people started hacking it. An anonymous programmer called "007" (presumably part of the original development team) started fixing the bugs and adding new features, and another ("008") continued the work. Internet forums appeared.

Someone figured out the map structure, and suddenly there were hundreds of gorgeous new maps. People wrote scenarios for China, India, Guadalcanal, the Aleutians, and any other place there was a battle, real or imagined (e.g., Knoxville).

And they started hacking they equipment files. They corrected typos in the original game data. A German military guy completely rewrote the equipment file - his "Waffenkammer" file added hundreds of new units and brought existing units closer to their historical levels (and, amusingly, made the Americans much weaker). He added new nationalities: Italians, Greeks, Ethiopians, Hungarians - you name it. There are almost as many nationalities doing development now - the Poles, for example, have their own website (sponsored by the state airline).

Then they started writing new campaigns. Steve Brown has become the Shakespeare of Panzer General 2 campaigns, creating games that are far more challenging that the originals (notably his murderous Pacific USMC campaign), and providing history lessons as well (the experience of the Indian 5th Division 1940-46). They are so hard: I won most of the OEM scenarios on the first try - I have never won a Steve Brown scenario on the first try.

So this weekend I made the big switch. I'd been playing with the Waffenkammer equipment file, but decided to switch to AdlerKorps (2000+ units). Mein Gott! This file has everything. It includes the most obscure units (was Slovokia in the war?!). Infantry units evolve as the war progresses.

It's been painful. I had Waffenkammer dialed - its creator was obviously an infantryman and infantry units were extremely powerful. I found I could win the first five or so German scenarios (Spain, Poland, Finland, Norway, France) without any tanks at all. Try that with AdlerKorps and you'll be running back to Berlin before you can say "hostile overrun attack."

The game is once again transformed - there are several dozen campaigns that have been written for AdlerKorps. Can't wait to try the Bulgarian one: "Tsar Boris III has charged you, General Stanchev, with the important task of leading our mobile corps, centered around the 1st Rapid Division, in our struggle to make Bulgaria a great power of the Balkans again."

Somehow, someday, this thing will be played out.

Then I'll download the Napoleonic campaign, and off we'll go again.

Grahn Gets Back to His Roots

After several weeks of not posting panzers and babes, Lennard Grahn today shrugs and says "why ruin a good thing?" Someone's gotta do it Lennard, keep up the good work.

Let Fly!

As Russell Crowe hurls the phone this morning, the Washington State GOP BS Case seeking to have the gubernatorial election tossed is dealt a mortal blow, and I want to again extend my thanks to comrades near and far for the extra effort in November. The State Supreme Court will get the case, but their previous rulings don't give the GOP anything but chump hope.

I should note that one of the first direct results - a long overdue raise in higher education funding after 5 years of cuts. Thank you particularly.

Martian Hotel Lobby Painting

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There was a paper recently linking the hyperromantic landscapes of the mid 19th century American West and the false color glories of the Hubble images, both speaking to shared reverence, and as propaganda for further exploration.

This Spirit rover image of Mars is beautiful- with a sky color unusual on earth (except for sandstorm skies) , and a deep, deep distance implied to the right, with the clairity of a thin atmosphere, and although the distant values are muddier, there is no "bluing." (I think this is a near true-color image).

These are tremendous optics and images - well done. I wonder whether the highlight on the hill in the foreground is from a sort of flash.

If the robots are going to explore other planets, they'd better bring back photos.

June 04, 2005

The Other Elvis

I hate the man. Successful in multiple musical genres, popular, respected by the intelligentsia, and, just to rub it in: superb taste in women...

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Hiccups: The Bollenbach Manouver

After a two-month study, the author is pleased to announce in this peer-reviewed journal a possible new cure for the hiccups.

At the first sign of hiccups, the volunteer in our study asked himself to place his thumb directly on the windpipe at the suprasternal notch (the collarbone notch), and hold with steady but light pressure. This is followed with a breathing and slight burping exercise. In our study, the effect is almost instantaneous and highly effective, and the hiccups do not recur.

The procendure is as follows:

1. Find the suprasternal notch (the collarbone notch) at the base of the throat with your thumb.

2. Apply light but steady pressure with the thumbtip directly to your windpipe at the suprasternal notch. You should feel the pressure but the sensation should not be in any way unpleasant. Keep breathing steadily.

3. Now, while maintaining thumb pressure, try to burp a small volume of air that feels like it is trapped in your upper throat. You can feel that this is very different from burping from your stomach. You may have to do this twice, until there seems to be no air bubble.

4. After this small upper throat burp, maintain thumb pressure for a further 5 or so seconds; breath steadily and evenly for this time.

5. Release thumb pressure and keep breathing evenly. That should do it.

The results of this procedure were so successful for our study subject that a small scientific double-blind study may be warranted, testing this procedure against traditional cures and a control.

Any results you can report would be most welcome.

June 03, 2005


Any of you people who can interweb right properly got a way to feed Today's Tomorrows Headlines to a box on the side?

Would I Lie to You?

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This morning I re-read The Cat in the Hat to my juvenile delinquent son (he is on Double-Secret Daycare Probation). It is a very cool book. In fact it is the only children's book I have seen where the primary character lies repeatedly to the kids.

Instance #1 - "My tricks are not bad" he says, before torturing a fish and doing a crazy juggling act that creates an enormous mess. By ridiculing and harassing his only credible critic, he anticipates modern political practice by twenty or thirty years.

Instance #2 - "These things are good things" he says, before Thing #1 and Thing #2 run amok, destroying the house with their games.

Then, after utterly destroying the house, he magically puts things right, and mother never knows that anything was wrong.

Is that a subversive message or what? There is no way this book would be greenlighted today.

Coming Up: Curious George and the colonial experience.

June 02, 2005

I Did Not Know That

IMUS: We’re talking with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein here on the IMUS IN THE MORNING program. It’s nine minutes before the hour.

Back to this-your relationship with him over the past 30 years, and before he lapsed into these stages of apparently dementia, how-and you may have told me this, but bear with me. How did he feel about all of this, all of these years?

WOODWARD: Well, that’s what-that’s the story we’re going to tell, because it’s got some surprising twists and turns. Just, you know, as a matter of public record, Nixon testified at Mark Felt’s trial when he was indicted for authorizing break-ins at the homes of family members of the weather (ph) underground. The irony of that.

When Felt was convicted, he was pardoned by none other than Ronald Reagan. So there’s a whole three-decade story here.

Apparently, I Was the Last to Get the Message

Top-selling bands in U.S. history, ranked by cumulative sales, according to the RIA:
  1. The Beatles
  2. Led Zeppelin
  3. Pink Floyd
  4. The Eagles
  5. AC/DC
Just yesterday, before I saw this, I was thinking I have no desire to see an AC/DC concert. To me a great concert band can't just rock - there must be a range of material, a creative ability to take the audience on a journey and deliver a multifaceted experience that enriches us as humans. And three of bands I thought were particularly good at this appear at the top of the list.

The Eagles suck.

But, given the question 'what band would you like to see, live in their prime' I came up with three other bands that I would prefer to any of the above (except the Beatles, who I don't think can be touched in this category). In order:
  1. Sam and Dave - The original Blues Brothers. They played rockers, R&B, ballads, had two voices for the price of one, and a dozen costume changes per show.
  2. Talking Heads - The 'Stop Making Sense' is pretty definitive.
  3. Tom Petty - A musician friend who has been to more concerts than any three of us combined says the greatest show he ever saw was Tom Petty at the Fillmore in 1999.
Honorable Mention to The Rolling Stones - Give the devil his due: few groups could both rock and play a ballad like the Stones. And few have produced so many good songs across a broad range of styles. With so many choices, how do they choose the songs for their shows? (Step 1: Omit 'Emotional Rescue'. But then what?)
Am I forgetting someone? I keep thinking I'm forgetting someone...?

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Just to Refresh Your Memory

Mitchell: Well, Pat Buchanan said, repeatedly, in interviews in the last 24 hours, that Mark Felt was a traitor and that he was responsible for the loss of Vietnam and the, “holocaust in Cambodia,” because by bringing down Richard Nixon...

Bradlee: Mark Felt was?

Mitchell: That Mark Felt, by bringing down Richard Nixon cost this country Vietnam and Cambodia.

Bradlee: Well, that's wrong on so many levels. I mean, Richard Nixon brought down Richard Nixon. There wasn't anybody else involved.

And I must say that the tape, the Nixon tape about Mark Felt, just fascinates me. The first thing he says is, “Is he a Jew?” What the hell does that have to do with it?

Mitchell: Which turned out not to be true but...

Bradlee: No.

Mitchell: It was their false conclusion in any case.

Bradlee: But actually, Haldeman told him that he wasn't — yeah. Haldeman said he was a Catholic and that's not true either, I understand.

June 01, 2005

When is a Novelty Act Not a Novelty Act?

When it's sold out a year ahead of time. Such is the case with bluegrass AC/DC cover band Hayseed Dixie. As far as I'm concerned, their 'Back in Black' is better than the original, and their 'Hell's Bells' is in the running.

Like Richard Cheese, they have a studied refusal to ever admit that it's all a put-on. But they are musically much more accomplished than Cheese or other parody/cover bands. Their arrangements and soloes are often richer and more complex than the originals. AC/DC had them play the closing party for a recent tour, which reflects well on all concerned.

Hayseed Dixie is available on iTunes, and you can sample some of their lesser works (e.g., 'Walk This Way' and 'My Best Friend's Girl') here.