Monday, October 31, 2005

Thoughts on Miers Withdrawal (Just a Tiny Bit Late)

I wrote this while sitting in an airport Friday afternoon.

Miers did the honorable thing and the good thing; I can’t believe that she was likely to pass congressional scrutiny, I don’t believe that she was particularly well-qualified for the position, and I do believe that she would have been a negative to President Bush’s legacy. People would not watch her on the court and be disposed to remember Bush’s judicial nominees well; and, honestly, when it comes to his judicial picks, this would have been an unhappy quirk of fate.

That is, he’s done well with nominations to this point both by putting forth people who were qualified, moderate conservatives with the intellectual background to give them legitimacy where they serve.

I expect the next choice—even if it does make the expected bow to Supreme Court gender quotas—to be much better.

Looking back on this, I can’t help but be pleased with Bush’s do-over pick. I won’t say that I’m happy he didn’t pick a woman for the seat, but I can say that I’m happy he didn’t make an obvious quota pick. Obvious and exceptional qualification is the thing, not the gender or the skin pigment.

Amazing how a few days makes a post out outdated; our news cycle is ridiculously quick anymore. In fact, there are times that I think it runs a little too fast, giving us too much of an opportunity to react from the gut instead of the brain.

But what do I know? I’m just some former bartender…

Andy’s All Old and Stuff

Happy Birthday, Andy.

Now, dance for my pleasure.

Reid is Obviously Confused

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned that a nomination of Alito, or any other candidates too far to the right, could run into trouble.

“This is not one of the names I’ve suggested to the president,” Reid said yesterday of Alito on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“In fact, I’ve done the opposite,” he said. “I think it would create a lot of problems.”

Harry Reid is obviously confused on the issue, so I’m going to clear something up for him: this is not his nomination to make. He doesn’t get to choose.

The reality is that the Democrats believe that they should dictate a Republican choice for the Supreme Court--which is to say, they believe that losing the Presidential election shouldn’t mean that they actually allow President Bush to exercise his Presidential prerogatives. Alito might not be the guy that they would choose, but that only makes sense. If Kerry had won the election, I’m guessing that he wouldn’t have chosen a nominee that would sit entirely well with me, either.

So, Mr. Reid, prove that he isn’t qualified for the position or prove that he has some deficiency that would keep him from serving the country well. Failing that, I expect Alito to be a Supreme Court justice regardless of your philosophical differences.

How Do You Spell Filibuster?


I will be surprised if the Democrats don’t filibuster this choice, triggering the fight over the GOP “nuclear option.” The abortion litmus test will be too strong for the left to resist, as will the fact that he is neither a woman nor a minority, yet Alito’s qualifications are definitely a big step up from Miers.

It’ll be a year-end brawl that either energizes or completely exhausts the GOP. Bush already has a tough year ahead and he’s picking a fight that he could quite possibly lose (which isn’t to say that it’s a fight worth avoiding). Should be interesting.

Update: This post of reactions from the left kind of goes to prove the point, doesn’t it? For that matter, I think this post from Randy Thomas will be typical of the right: a cautious, quiet optimism. Okay, maybe not entirely quiet...

Kindly linked by The English Guy (who has a set of good links to browse).

Creepy, Sepulchral Music for Kids

I was checking out the news section of One Whiskey, a Mark Lanegan fan site, hoping to find the release date for the Lanegan-Isobel Campbell album, when I found instead that my favorite musician will be on a CD meant for kids. The guy who makes a living singing about heroin, booze, junkies, burial shrouds, and death is going to perform something called “Sneakers” for Sandra Boynton’s book/CD set, Dog Train.

Presumably, it will be a sing-along.

Sheer curiosity means that I’ll own the thing. You have to sit back and wonder precisely how this happened, though.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

So, Here I Am…

A- Somebody changed all the clocks while I wasn’t looking. Which would have been so cool if I had known in time to get an extra hour of sleep.

B- Number one on my Christmas List of Things Somebody Might Actually Buy Me (Which, Therefore, Excludes Things Like Aston Martins, Harems, and Sharks with Frickin’ Lasers on Their Heads):

3 discs with never-before-seen footage, 40 episodes handpicked by creator Mike Judge, including original uncut versions, plus music videos and more.

It’s the fact that they’re including the music videos that really gets me happy.

C- I’m trying hard to pretend that the “Yeah, it was great to be on vacation, but it’s so nice to be back home” BS is something other than BS. But it’s not. It’s just a big ol’ load of BS. All things considered, I’d rather still be on vacation.

D- I have exactly three trillion and four emails to get through, so if I don’t respond to something you sent me while I was gone, it’s just because I haven’t quite gotten through all of those emails quite yet. Trust me, I’ll get through them all soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Late Night Reading

It’s late night, and I’ve just finished packing and printing out my boarding passes for tomorrow’s flight. I settled in to read a little before going to sleep, and the reading material of choice is The Atlantic. Even though the magazine seems to be drifting further to the left, I tend to find a lot worth enjoying in its pages. The food articles are wonderful, in particular, as are the book reviews.

I like the book reviews because the trend toward the bloodthirsty. Blunt, economical with words, and often right on the mark. Here’s the ending for the review of Raising Boys Without Men.

Someday American women may realize that the great achievement of civilization wasn’t Erica Jong’s zipless fuck of yesteryear. It was convincing men that they had an obligation to contain their sexual energies within marriage and to support--economically and emotionally--the children they created in that marriage. You go, June Cleaver!

Priceless and perfect.

Now, back to reading…

Matthew Modine’s Full Metal Jacket Diary

For 80s movie fans, this ranks right up there with the new Warriors video game. Have you seen Private Joker’s newly released book yet?

“The stainless steel–covered book—each one laser-etched with a serial number—should become a collector’s item for fans of the legendary director.” --According to Publishers Weekly

I’d have to agree.

Mmmmm….Pilsner: A Bedtime Beer Story

Despite fighting a head cold for the past few days, I decided it was finally time to have a beer last night. And, it was a good one--a PilsnerUrquell.

The best part was the little story on the back of the bottle and the beer’s claim to be “The Original Pilsner,” first brewed in the town of PLZEN, CZECH Republic. Sadly, it doesn’t mention the individual brewmaster of this worthy accomplishment, but it goes like this:

Pilsner Urquell is Truly Original
Before 1842 Beers Were Often Dark And Cloudy, Until Our Visionary Brewmaster In Pilsen, Czech Created The World’s First Golden Beer. This Revolutionary Breakthrough Delivered An Intensely Rewarding Taste And The Original Golden Pilsner Beer. 

Here’s to PilsnerUrquell and it’s great brand.  I don’t know whether it was the cold or the fact that I hadn’t had a beer in four days, but this company has put it all together to create a great customer experience. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Befuddling Headlines:  “Some Europeans Aren’t Fans of Halloween”

File this story in the “No Shit, Sherlock” file.  Shouldn’t the story also mention that some Americans don’t like Halloween either?  I’m not one of those people, so this story is particularly irritating to me.  It just serves as a reminder that we’re on the cusp of daily stories about how insensitive the celebration and expression of Christmas can be.  Get ready, but first let’s mock the Halloween-phobes.  The last two things my children are thinking about as they anxiously await Halloween are Satan and Hell, but the increasing popularity of the holiday in Europe is another opportunity to bash the U.S. for its influence in the world.  Except for capitalists that can sell more merchandise around the world, I don’t think too many people in America care whether other countries join in or not. Personally, for example, I think it’s a little creepy when Japanese kids go crazy over Levi jeans. Well, until the Christmas bashing begins, or until another evil Harry Potter book comes out, this is what we get. 

Monday, October 24, 2005

ZombyBoy Versus the Hurricane

Today’s coverage of Hurricane Wilma slamming Florida won’t include the courageous story of ZombyBoy and the G-Phrase trying to take a freakin’ vacation there this week. We’re more likely to hear celebrity soundbites about how President Bush doesn’t like retired Jewish people from New York or exiled Cubans, or else he would have stopped this natural disaster from hitting Florida. Or, how about DNC conspiracy theories that the Bush government was behind the bombs in Baghdad this morning to draw our attention away from Hurricane Wilma and Florida.

Anyway, back to my heroic tale about a graphic designer just trying to celebrate a vacation. Despite the warnings that he and the hurricane were going to intersect on one of Mother Nature’s busiest highways of natural disasters today, ZombyBoy bravely boarded his plane Saturday and left the safety of his Mile-High Home in Denver for a little fun on the wind-swept, rain-soaked beaches of Florida’s west coastline.  Of course, he also had a little fun planned at Mickey’s place as well, so here’s to shorter lines at DisneyWorld and my heartfelt wishes that ZB is still managing to enjoy his much deserved vacation, even if it’s in the midst of one of nature’s major sneezes.

Please be sure to comment on ZB’s vacation-planning abilities and encourage him to write a first-hand account upon his return next weekend. 

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Evil That iTunes Does (And the Hideous Strength of Late Night Purchasing Power)

It’s late at night, my mind wanders, and my will is weak. The iTunes Music Store now sells video downloads, and I find myself wondering if the videos for a-ha’s “Take on Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on TV” are available. They aren’t.

I find myself wondering if there are any Screaming Trees videos available. Life is wonderful.

I am now the happy owner of four Screaming Trees videos (priced at $1.99 each) and feeling giddy as a school boy on his first date. See, I’ve always wanted to be able to buy videos for songs that I grew up with. I want to see Billy Idol’s well-practiced sneer on “White Wedding” and the killer animation from a-ha’s “Take on Me.” I want to watch the disturbing Alice in Chains video for “Man in the Box.”

Growing up with an MTV that constantly played videos gave so many of those songs a visual connection that was nearly as strong as (and in some cases, probably stronger than) the aural connection--and Apple just tapped into a long held desire on my part to be able to see those videos again.

Apple has once again found a way to take money from my pocket.

Vote for Pedro?

Trust me, I would like nothing more than to vote for Pedro, but I’m just not sure we share the same values. I mean, where does Pedro stand on eminent domain and tax policy? Would Pedro bow to European interests or would he risk alienating our European allies to pursue an aggressive war on terror? Would Pedro continue the business as usual attitude in the war on drugs or would his administration quietly change enforcement policies? Would he be tough on illegal immigration while streamlining the legal immigration process?

Vote Pedro

Would he work to solve our Social Security problems with a fiscally sane set of solutions or would he prefer to offer short term solutions, passing the buck to some future president? And, where does he stand on the all important issue of equitable distribution of tater tots?

I would like to vote for Pedro. He’s a good guy, but what are his credentials? Pedro is a great guy, but he’s just too much of a question mark for us to take the risk, and I’m not just going to sit back and take Napoleon’s word on the nomination.

Oh, and what was Pedro running for, anyway?

If I Had The Time: I Would Definitely Talk About This

Good for Joan Rivers.

I mean, seriously, good for Joan Rivers.

When Darcus Howe slyly accused her of racism (”...since black offends Joan..."), slyly took shots at her, he probably expected that she would shrug it off instead of calling him on the outrageous statement.

Absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

If I Had the Time: I’d Talk About How Freakin’ Funny This Is

This had me giggling loudly.

HOMER:  (to himself) Mmmmm.  Kahk.

Which is A) Funnier when you say it out loud, and B) Funniest if you understand the context.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

If I Had the Time: I’d Talk About Snakes…

...On a Plane.

Of course, I’d probably also tell you how lucky my fellow cube dwellers are. I mean, how often do you get to sit next to a guy who plays Corrosion of Conformity’s “Deliverance” right next to Johnny Cash’s “Where We’ll Never Grow Old?”

Lucky, I tell you.

I might also tell you about Publicola’s growing fame. But that would probably take a few thousand words of agreement, disagreement, and questions. It would be a worthy conversation, but it really would take more time than I have.

Maybe when I get back from vacation…

Best Wishes and Prayers

Remember to keep Andy and Andy’s wife in your thoughts this week. He certainly has my best wishes and prayers since, Godless heathen that he may be, the world would still a better place with a World Wide Runt, Part 2.

If I Had the Time: The Electable Gore

If I had the time, I would definitely have to discuss a recent article in The New Republic that seems to support the idea that Al Gore is “more electable” than Hillary Clinton.

But the logic of the Gore candidacy is that, unlike other Democrats, he could attack Hillary as both out of step on the war and unelectable come November. If he runs for president he would be the only candidate in either party who instantly passes the post-9/11 threshold on national security issues. Hillary’s credible case that as first lady she engaged in diplomacy and was treated abroad like a world leader would be dwarfed by Gore’s eight-year record as vice president sitting on the National Security Council.

And Gore might be the only Democrat who can solve a vexing issue facing the party: How does a candidate establish a reputation for toughness on national security while simultaneously criticizing the war? Gore supported the Gulf War and, in most Clinton administration battles over the use of force, he took the more hawkish position. He is the party’s only credible antiwar hawk.

First, while there were people who supported John Kerry on his own merits, there is no doubt in my mind that a large portion of the activist left supported Kerry only because they believed he was “electable"--that is, he would be the man who would save them from another term with Bush in office. Falling into the trap of merely gauging electability instead of relying on strong messages and idea would probably spell failure for whomever Democrats run against the GOP.

Second, the idea that Gore has credibility on any subject is a stretch. Sure, he has some resume padding in that direction, but in the years since his loss, he has been preaching only to the hard, activist left on issues ranging from the environment to the war. He has no standing with moderates and I don’t know anyone in that camp who considers him to have a credible voice in respect to the war on terror. Hillary Clinton, as hated as she is by some and as affeted as she seems to be in positioning herself for a presidential campaign, seemingly has a better reputation with moderates.

Third, Gore’s bearded years are a goldmine for the kind of ads that run during election years. Without resorting to really nasty tricks, Gore’s image would be of a bearded, lost outsider with no feeling for what the rest of the country has been most concerned about. The images and speeches may play well with the Howard Dean/Wesley Clark supporters, but Iowa and Ohio will reject him out of hand.

So, yeah, if I had time, I would beg the Democrats to put their support behind a man who couldn’t ride economic prosperity and general (if slightly misplaced) national optimism to his own presidency. Focus on the “electability” of a man who has grown even more out of touch with Main Street instead of developing messages and leadership that can sway a majority of Americans to vote Democrat.

The party of Pelosi and Dean seems to be bent on suicide in the face of a Republican breakdown.

If I Had the Time: Lizz Wright

The last few days have been a clichéd flurry of activity as I try to get work done before my upcoming vacation. While I’m looking forward to the flight out Saturday, finishing up a little rush work for one client and trying to finish up a more difficult (and poorly estimated (damn me)) job has left me wishing I had just a few more days to get ready to go. All the work has left little time for writing, and most of my best writing has been reserved for a handful of comments on a few other sites.

So, starting now and ending some time Friday, I’m going to be sharing the things that I would be sharing if only I had a little more time to write.

First on the list is Lizz Wright and her newish album, Dreaming Wide Awake.

If I had time, I’d tell you about my accidental discovery of Wright. I was searching the iTunes Music Store for new music from Joe Henry and came across one of his songs being covered by Lizz Wright. Since Henry isn’t all that well known, and since the song is one of my favorites, I had to delay my search and give Wright a quick, judgmental listen.

I was rewarded by one of the finest voices I’ve heard in a long time. While her version of Henry’s “Stop” isn’t quite as lively or addictive as the original, it was more than enough to let me know that I wanted to hear more--and it confirmed her good taste in music. Dreaming wouldn’t make my short list for best of the year, though. A few of the songs (like the title song and “Without You") drift into the sort of banal easy listening that James Taylor would approve of and I find excruciatingly boring.

But the good stuff is transcendent. Her voice is full and sultry, completely unlike the whiny, thin things that pass for much of R&B these days. Wright’s sound is controlled and classic, usually without sacrificing the vitality of the song in the process--that is, it’s exceptional but not bland or over studied.

So, yeah, if I had time, I would tell you that “Hit the Ground” is one of the most gorgeous songs I’ve ever heard and that, as soon as I heard it, I was seduced into buying the complete album. Her take on “Stop” and, very surprisingly, “Old Man” may not be as good as the original, but there is something addictive about her vocals and style that keep me going back to take another listen. “I’m Confessin’” is about as sweet a song as I can handle, but it will deservedly find itself on some chick flick soundtrack where the lovers find themselves dancing at a black tie function, where love is idyllic and wonderful, and the major plot complication has yet to be revealed. That last bit might not sound like a good thing, and, in honesty, I’m not sure that it is. I keep listening to the song, though.

And maybe that’s the thing: Lizz Wright is about as seductive, vocally, as anyone I’ve ever heard sing.

I wish the album were as perfect as her voice, though; that all the songs were classics just waiting to be heard. Unfortunately, her voice often rises far above her material, making this a mixed bag for me. This is sweet, sexy, beautiful, and good where her voice just begs for great. Still, this is worth a listen for your quieter moments and your long, lazy winter nights cuddled up with someone special.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Reason to Love the G-Phrase

I’m sure that if I were to take the time to make a comprehensive list, there would be thousands of reasons to love the g-phrase. Her good points are legion, her quirks cute, and her bad qualities--well, does she really have any bad qualities? Aside from bad taste in bloggers, that is?

Anyway, this isn’t about all or her good qualities, this is about one of her good qualities: she digs Screaming Trees.

When we were driving home from watching a particularly underwhelming laser light show thingy at Gates Planetarium at the museum here in Denver and listening to the Trees’ Dust, she was doing the cute little head bob with the cute little smile, singing along occasionally. When “Dying Days” came on, though, she really started getting into the song. Adorable, no?

Keep in mind that “Dying Days” is a freakin’ great song. It starts with an acoustic guitar and light keyboard while Lanegan sings quietly and suddenly Barrett Martin’s drums and the electric guitars kick in. If you pay attention, you’ll notice the almost soul-flavored keyboards swerving along in the background as the song keeps building in intensity and Lanegan attacks the vocals with passion.

Seriously good rock.

Not only does the g-phrase get into the song while we’re in the car, but she continues to sing snippets of the song randomly for a few hours.

Yeah, I’ll probably keep her.


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