Monday, September 12, 2005
The Long Forgotten (A Quick Return)
The Long Forgotten, Shawn Macomber’s band, got a quick mention in the religious journal In Trust. (You’ll need to scroll down to nearly the bottom of the page to see the article.) The mention comes solely because of The Long Forgotten’s album title, “Divinity School Dropout"--which, if I were to be honest, just seems a tiny bit odd.
I’m guessing that there won’t be a spike in sales for The Long Forgotten.
Anyway, as a side-effect, I got mentioned in In Trust, too as “an appreciative blogging music reviewer.” Unfortunately, they only seem to have noticed the Blogcritics version of my review---unfortunate because you would think that “ResurrectionSong” would have been a more natural place for them to link their article.
Ah, well. At least it’s another step on the road to world domination for Macomber’s band.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Denver Broncos v/ Miami Dolphins, II
The story of the game for the Denver Broncos:
1- A defense that was left hanging out to dry by the Broncos offense. By the third quarter, the defense had lost the will to tackle because they had been out on the field for far too long. The offense couldn’t put together sustained drives--for that matter, the offense had a hell of a time just coming up with first downs.
2- Injuries. Mike Anderson and Champ Bailey both went out early--and it didn’t stop there. A defense that was already wilting looked mortally wounded as the secondary was reduced to backups and rookies.
3- Dropped passes. Plummer’s passing wasn’t particularly sharp throughout the game, but there were far too many dropped passes in vital situations--moments where the ball was in a receiver’s hands and just fell to the ground. In fact, Shanahan’s Gumpian brain-dead moment came after a receiver dropped a ball in the end zone. If the receiver had caught the ball, it would have meant a Denver lead and Shanahan being saved from his own decision making.
4- Bad execution. The Broncos looked lethargic and weak all day. The Dolphins D played better than expected, but the Broncos’ offense made it easy for them.
5- Bad coaching. Enough said in that previous post.
Writing this with over ten minutes left in the game, the Broncos could still win. But they sure as hell wouldn’t have earned the win.
The story of the game, no matter the outcome, is that the Broncos were outplayed, unprepared, and simply bad on a day where they should have been right in the game.
Denver Broncos v/ Miami Dolphins
Mike Shanahan has completely lost his mind. With a 4th and goal from the two yard line, down 6-0, Shanahan has the team go for the touchdown. The running game isn’t clicking, the passing game is nearly non-existent, and, of course, the 4th down attempt fails.
Horrible decision to make midway through the second quarter.
Denver could still win this game because Dolphin is uneven, but this was Shanahan’s coaching at its absolute worst.
Update: Funny enough, on their next possession, Denver has to settle for a Jason Elam field goal--three points that would have tied the game up if Shanahan had made a better decision just a few minutes earlier.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Could Germany’s Prime Minister Schröder be likened to our own former President Carter? That is, a man with high ideals who mismanaged a nation to the brink of a serious crisis of both economy and temper? Schröder has certainly overseen his country’s dismal economic performance, diminishing influence in international politics, and drift into a sort of national lassitude.
Could Schröder’s opponent, Angela Merkel, be a sort of Reaganesque figure bringing a renewal to Germany? If this article is any indicator, we’re going to find out.
German discontent with Schröder has been growing for some time, and if this is a good indicator that he’s started to lose the progressive vote, then we’ll be seeing new leadership in Germany soon.
The biggest positive for Germany is that, like America under Carter, the essential ingredients for strength and success still exist. As Schaefer (the author of the linked article) notes, “[Germany] still has an extremely efficient infrastructure, highly-skilled workforce, world-class innovation and rich natural resources.”
Hopefully, like Reagan, Merkel has the skill, the will, and vision to bring Germany back from its lethargy. It’s starting to look like she’ll have the opportunity.
DVD Review: Monster-in-Law
My expectations for Monster-in-Law were exceptionally low, and yet, miraculously, this dog failed to clear that speed bump of a hurdle.
If Hollywood is still in the midst of whining about theater revenues and declining ticket sales, that movies like this are handed to the public as “entertainment” should be all the explanation needed to describe the reasons that people aren’t as excited to pay the high ticket prices (and even higher--on the verge of ridiculous--concessions prices). Not only is Monster-in-Law completely lacking in originality, but the whole thing is lifeless and dull with just a handful of chuckles to smooth the way.
As the mother who is disturbingly involved in her son’s life, Jane Fonda plays a tense, disturbed, and unlikable character. At least she makes an effort, though. Most of the rest of the cast just sleepwalks through their scenes. And where did people get the idea that Jennifer Lopez could play a believable “every girl?” I’m sorry, but she carries her personality and all of her press into every role she plays. She isn’t one of those gifted actresses that can play a role where you manage to forget the star behind the role: she’s just J-Lo.
And for the record, she’s not as nearly as beautiful as she’s been sold and not nearly as talented. Sorry, but I just don’t see it.
For that matter, precisely what woman would want to marry a man as spineless as Michael Vartan’s wimpy little mama’s boy? Sure, he’s attractive, intelligent, educated, and wealthy, but he’s a 35-year-old man who allows his mother to run his life. That any woman would find him good marriage material is a concept that completely escapes me.
So, every cliché, every typical modern movie convention, and every stock character possible is trotted out to fill out the slender, shallow plot. We even get a predictable happy ending with a well-orchestrated stab at an emotional bonding moment between Jane and J-Lo.
A boring, pitiful little mess.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Wow. Rational Thoughts in a Public Setting.
Why the Democrats Need Katrina
Update: More on this same subject.
Playing the race card seems to be the left’s most important agenda in reference to hurricane Katrina. That is, instead of an honest critique of what went right and what went wrong, people like Howard Dean are just running around metaphorically crying out, “Hey, look, it’s a dead person! And he’s black! And look over there--it’s a displaced citizen in distress with a hungry child (but certainly not a refugee, because that’s just racist), and she’s black! Wow, there sure are a lot of black people affected by this tragedy. Hey, had you noticed all the black people around here? I mean, really, that’s a whole hell of a lot of black people.”
Damn, the focus on race is really starting to disturb me. It’s downright creepy.
Of course, the Democrats are creating a very specific kind of a tragedy--one in which the Republicans are to blame for:
Why does the blame need to be placed on Republicans instead of questioning why the Governor of the state was so indecisive and lax in her early response? Or why the mayor of New Orleans failed to do more to evacuate the poor in his own city? Without a doubt, there is a good sense that FEMA and DHS will come under well-deserved scrutiny when all is said and done, but the best way to avoid this tragedy would have been to be more proactive in evacuating the region. That’s an activity that falls to the local government, not the Federal government.
In fact, the Feds are doing precisely what they are supposed to: helping clean up the mess and acting as a sort of societal safety net to ensure that our economy takes as small a hit as possible, that the health risks are reduced, and that we save and help as many people as possible in the aftermath.
But that doesn’t sell tickets, does it?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
See, I want to share somewhat randomly. From now on, I’m going to share only song number 9 from my favorite CDs. Why? So that you get to hear a song that may not be my absolute favorite from a CD--but if that CD is as good as I imagine it to be, then the song should still hold up to scrutiny.
Call it a test, really, to reveal whether my favorite CDs are as good as I think they are.
First up is song number 9 from my favorite Mark Lanegan disc, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. Whiskey is one of those CDs that has the power to change your life when you hear it--or, at least, it had the power to change my life. It dragged me into a world where music could be rough edged, harsh, painful, and beautiful all at the same time--and where a song that feels hard as iron wasn’t the loudest song on the disc.
It kind of comes across as a punk statement set to a mishmash of blues, country, and rock with just a dash of jazz thrown in for effect (and, truly, just a dash). But you won’t find too many songs more aggressive and combative than a song like “Borracho” with its menacing drums and Lanegan’s growling, sandstone delivery of lines like “to you who never need, fuck yourselves: I need some more room to breathe.” That the middle third devolves into a frenzy of noisy guitar while the martial beat continues on in the background just props up the feeling that the things is purposefully distant--unfriendly, even.
By the time you get to “Shooting Gallery,” the ninth song, you’ve already been through the country song “House a Home,” the twin nightmares of “Kingdoms of Rain” and “Riding the Nightingale,” the lunatic delusion of “Carnival,” and the anti-hymn “El Sol.”
It’s a hell of a ride, but you miss a lot if you don’t pay attention.
“Shooting Gallery” is one of those rough edged songs. The opening is awkward and the song develops slowly, but suddenly you realize that it managed to worm itself into your mind, that you are singing or humming along, and that, damn, this guy is good. The voice, the music, the lyrics, the tone of the whole thing is just perfect--if perfect could possibly mean broken and even a little bit lonely.
“Look my hands are stained/ I was washin’ ‘em in the water/ well the water fell away...”
The religious imagery in his albums is impossible to miss as is the seeming belief that there can’t be a happy ending for someone like him.
With that verbose introduction, here’s song number 9 from Whiskey for the Holy Ghost.
Enjoy the song and then consider buying the album. It’s worth it.
Shooting Gallery. (Right click and download link to disk--otherwise the mp3 will open in a separate browser window.)
Football Thoughts Heading Into the Season
1. Doesn’t John Lynch look like a caricature of a 40’s era version of Superman? I think it has something to do with the jaw.
2. Doesn’t Jake Plummer look like a caricature of a 70’s era stoner? I think it has something to do with the hair.
3. Everyone thinks that the Broncos’ defensive problems were related to bad pass coverage last year. I disagree: the problem was a weakened pass rush. Hopefully the return of Trevor Pryce will help the situation.
4. This should be Shanahan’s make or break year. It’s been a little too long that the Broncos have been visiting the playoffs without any happy results.
5. Which is a shame for him because it looks like the other teams in the AFC West got a little better a little faster than the Broncs. They could find themselves struggling in a competitive division.
6. How does the season work out for the Saints? They aren’t a team that I normally care about, but your heart just has to go out to them in the same way that it goes out to all the people who have had their lives disrupted by Katrina.
Sure, their salaries will make it easier for them in some ways, but they lost homes and photo albums and keepsakes and peace of mind just like everyone else. They have to figure out where to live and how to rebuild their worlds just live everyone else.
There’s nothing easy about that, even with the big paycheck.
7. The Broncos go 9-7 on the season. They aren’t a bad team, but you can count on some bad things happening: a key injury, a bad luck moment, or a few games where players just don’t show up. They’ll show enough promise to break fans’ hearts by the end of their season.
8. Which is still miles better than the Colorado Rockies have managed in years.
9. Is there a team in the league with more depth at running back than the Broncos? Anderson, Bell, and Dayne could be a killer trio this year.
10. I hope my pessimism is misplaced. I try to be honest about “my” team’s shortfalls, but I still bleed predominantly orange and blue. Go Broncos!
Vincent Carroll’s “On Point” column today made my morning just a little brighter. Its three parts come together to tell one story quite nicely: declaiming the rush to price controls, questioning why high gas prices are a good thing only when they are the result of government mandate, and finally a look at the “addictive” nature of our cars.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Okay, here it is:
I bought a copy of In Good Company today. I never thought I would buy a movie staring Topher Grace (not that there’s anything wrong with the guy, but, well, he’s still Red’s kid from That 70’s Show), but this one is actually good. It has a moral, it has a heart, it has a compelling story, and it has Dennis Quaid, one of my favorite actors.
I’m not sure I would call it great art, exactly, but it’s a damned good movie.
So why am I unhappy at this moment?
I bought the full screen version. Stupid me.
He’ll Always be Maynard G. Krebs to Me
Bob Denver has passed away after 70 years of life. Of course, he’ll be best remembered as Gilligan (and that’s not a bad thing), but he’ll always be beatnik Maynard G. Krebs to me. His role on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was utterly hilarious, and, frankly, the show was better than Gilligan’s Island, too.
Here’s thanks to Bob Denver for giving us so much laughter. We’ll miss you, little buddy.
Update: I’m telling you, everyone is sad to see Gilligan go.
Good Reading on Katrina’s Political Aftermath
Shawn Macomber has an article on NRO today about the political reaction to Katrina:
The bolded bit is from me just because I wish more people would be having that same thought.
Anyway, the article is well worth the time to read and the comments on Shawn’s site promise to be quite interesting as well.
Update: This is worth reading, too.
Monday, September 05, 2005
But I Didn’t
I was going to comment on how funny it was that Dani Newsum, a blogger for the Denver Post and former civil rights attorney, suggested that Republicans get their news from Democratic Underground instead of some unnamed right wing comic strips. Then I realized that it wasn’t particularly funny, especially given the vitriol that Newsum brings to the Post’s blog on a regular basis. Her opinion of the people that constitute the Republican party probably comes from somewhere to the left of Michael Moore.
Similarly, I was going to comment on Oliver Willis’ assertion that Republicans are “unfeeling entities.” But he isn’t very funny, either, when you get to his “Yes, I understand it was “just niggers” who had to die and be drowned” comment--which manufactures the quote and racial slur that I haven’t heard a single Republican (and certainly not any member of the Bush administration) utter. Could it be that he’s just making it up? Could it be that the right-leaning people in this country are part of the massive flood of aid that are doing what they can (along with their left-leaning friends) to help people left destitute, injured, and broken by the hurricane?
It’s a nasty attack on the character of Republicans that comes from nowhere but Oliver’s ugly mind.
I was going to comment on how amazing it is that people have somehow come to the conclusion that the government--from the local level to the Federal level--should have been able to prevent the hurricane damage and should have rounded up all the stranded, injured, and lost within the first 48 hours after the hurricane passed. Might as well ask Santa Claus to come and scoop up all the good little citizens (hey, he’s got the list and he might as well use it), depositing them in shelters around the US.
I mean, it makes as much sense as the assumption that the government, facing looters, flooding, ruined roads, gas leaks, fires, and growing health concerns could miraculously evacuate people throughout the region within just a few days.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m pretty sure that there will end up being some good reason for criticism of the handling of the event. But we aren’t even close to the point where people can make rational critiques of what was, after all, one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the United States. Most of the criticism that I’ve seen so far is of the emotional kind: the government should have done something.
There’s a pretty distinct lack of thought as to what that “something” should have been, though.
The noise to information ratio right now is in a pretty unhappy place. That may be the biggest failing of the blogging movement: the immediate analysis (and, in particular, the emotional analysis) isn’t always the best analysis. The best usually comes when the crisis is over and people can look at choices and reactions in context.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t intelligent things being said right now, but they are being lost in the noise generated by things like Oliver’s “just niggers” commentary and Steve Sailer’s black folks have “poorer native judgement” commentary--each just as offensive as the other from my point of view.
Of course, that emotional response has its good side, too: the amazing response to calls for charity and care. What an amazing response it has been.
So, I never got around to writing what I intended to write today; I wrote this instead. I had intended to add something useful to the conversation, but I’m afraid I didn’t.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Kanye West: No Class, Egotistical Jerk
In a moment when he should have been thanking people for their generosity, asking people to do even more, and, in general, being appreciative of the fact that people from around the world are rising to the task that hurricane Katrina left us, Kanye West instead chose to say some seriously nasty, unfounded things:
Paranoid delusions from a man who once declared that AIDS was man made and sent to Africa to infect blacks. Instead of praising the declaration of intolerance for violent looters and criminals--and shooting them isn’t being done as some kind of a “let’s hunt black folks” weekend away for the troops--is simply a way to protect other citizens. In fact, it might even have the effect of protecting black people.
Could the response have been better? Sure. Although it would be safer to say that the preparation could have been better--that governors and mayors, in particular, might have been able to do more to protect their citizens.
But honest critique is a long way from a ranting racializing of an event that isn’t at all about skin color. I can honestly say that I haven’t heard about a single American who was reaching for their checkbooks and suddenly said, “Oh, hell, this might go to help some black people. Can’t have that.”
I can demonstrate reliably some people who have decided that they won’t donate to help because a) those are people that might have voted for President Bush, and b) they don’t think they should bail Bush out since the entire disaster is so obviously his fault. Nature and inadequate levees had nothing to do with it. So, who ends up looking sick in this? Bush and all the people who, regardless of valid criticism, are doing their best to help fix a horrible situation or people so fixated on Bush that they can’t see through to the reality: we’re all doing our best and we don’t see this as an issue of race.
The message to Kanye West (and everyone who agrees with him) is this: don’t make a bad situation worse by spouting out irrational nonsense. Pitch in and help along with the rest of us.
To that end, I don’t exactly join in Jeff’s call to invite “the conversation it’s been too afraid to have for 30 years”--or, at least, not quite yet. Let’s get the relief effort underway and make sure everyone is safe.
The truth is, though, that maybe it is about time to have that conversation on a national level--to face all the accusations of crack being a drug planted by the CIA in black communities and call that kind of paranoid fantasy for the bullshit that it is. Maybe it’s also time to acknowledge that racism is still a problem in the US, but that we’ve made and will continue to make headway against racism in all forms--including racist, institutionalized preferential programs that punish people based on skin color.
But before we get to that, let’s take care of cleaning up after Katrina.
One of my biggest fears in life--and, generally speaking, one of my most irrational--is to die during an asthma attack. To slowly drown in an ocean of breathable air while the panic sets in and the muscles of my chest tense up like stone around my lungs; even if I could breathe, the fear would keep me from drawing a breath.
It’s an irrational fear because few things can set of a serious attack, and, most reliable, is animal dander. So, if I stay away from dogs and cats and horses and bunnies, I very rarely have asthma attacks. Almost never, in fact.
So, I’m house-sitting for a friend with three dogs which accounts for my sleeplessness, the asthma attack, and my anger at my treacherous body.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Phone + iPod
I think most technophiles have probably already heard that Apple worked with Motorola to create an iPod cell phone. It had been rumored to being close to release for quite some time, in fact, and the biggest question might have been how, precisely, the business model was going to work.
If you want the vague, rumored details about the phone, check this out.
I have a different question, though: who wants one of these things? I don’t and I certainly wouldn’t switch plans to a new carrier just to get one.
Now, I’m no anti-tech kind of a guy, I just happen to believe that items built for narrow purposes generally work better than items that shove all sorts of functionality into one little box. Even if the technology allows it, the design and interface limitations conspire to make the thing less useful.
Example? Well, a camera phone still functions as a damned fine camera, but as a camera I haven’t seen one yet that can take a picture that I could use in print design.
The iPod phone will work just fine (although I wonder exactly how they’ll move away from the somewhat iconic round control button) as an mp3 player--it will play music, it will store music, it will make phone calls. These things should all be able to coexist reasonably well with each other. But, whereas my Shuffle makes a great workout buddy--it’s small, light, hangs from a cord around my neck, has almost nothing on it that could actually break, and is priced low enough that it almost (almost) feels disposable.
The phone, on the other hand, will probably be expensive, have a ton of bits that could break, isn’t something that I want dangling around my neck during a workout, and won’t be nearly as small. OK, so then how about comparing it to the larger, more breakable iPod? That comparison doesn’t work well, either, because the full sized iPod (and the Minis for that matter) hold tons more music--the new phones will only hold 512 megs or 1 gig, the same as a Shuffle.
My cell phones lead a rough life--they get lost, tossed around, knocked from car seats (grr), and generally abused. When I recently had mine replaced, I went for cheap, low tech, and, like my Shuffle, something that wouldn’t feel like much of a loss if it went boom. I don’t want one of these new phones and I’m wondering who does? Is the market really clamoring for something like this? Will it really extend the iPod brand successfully?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Take Back Control
This conversation at Protein Wisdom makes an interesting discussion in light of the self-destructive looting and violence after the hurricane.
Ideally, rescue workers wouldn’t be shot at, vehicles wouldn’t be hijacked, and people would understand that working against the restoration of order is working against their own safety. But that isn’t what’s happening.
Instead, looting electronics and taking potshots at helicopters is making a tragedy even worse. Aside from enraging me--aside from being the most disappointed I’ve ever been by the behavior of our own in a time of crisis--this has lead me to a few thoughts:
1. This is a powerful argument for planning, for private ownership of weaponry to ensure safety when the government can’t, and for making local community plans for disaster preparedness.
2. Here’s where Jeff comes in: he says what I’ve been thinking, only he says it far better than I could manage:
Humans are cooperative creatures because our level of cooperation gives us a huge advantage over every other animal on the planet--and it allows us to face Mother Nature, giving us a fighting chance to survive most everything that she throws at us. The government that we choose is the construct that expresses our cooperation and gives it a framework for operation not by supplanting individual responsibility, but by supplementing it.
We aren’t talking about common looters or even common criminals, though: we’re talking about people who are actively working against the effort to aid and rescue other citizens. Women, children, the elderly, the sick, the absolute least and most needy. They are adversaries of our civilization in the foulest way imaginable.
With the reports of violence and rape coming from New Orleans, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the city was screwed long before the hurricane came through. After all, these people were there before the storm, and it isn’t the storm that warped their values so much that the anarchy and danger of the aftermath could be seen as a positive thing. The revel in what sounds worse than anything out of Lord of the Flies is made even more maddening by the idea that some of the survivors seem to be bent on destroying whatever the storm left behind--including the social and legal structures that the lawful people are doing their best to support.
It doesn’t seem like hyperbole to suggest that this is the worst natural disaster in the history of our nation. The ripples through the economy are going to be severe and painful and the cost to clean up (much less rebuild) will be tremendous. It’s best that we went to it; that means taking back control of the city.
Send in the troops to restore order, save the survivors, and help begin the clean up.
In Katrina’s Aftermath: Help Find the Missing
From World Wide Rant:
If you are looking for information or if you have information that will help, World Wide Rant is a good place to start. Andy will also be posting links to other sites offering the same service.
If there seems to be more need, I’ll open up rsong to help. For now, it would seem that the higher traffic sites would be better suited to help.
Another useful place for information is a site that is blogging the aftermath from New Orleans. The situation sounds even worse that I could have imagined. Thanks to Patrick, friend and former blogger, for pointing me to the site.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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