Monday, February 27, 2006
MirrorMask (This Ain’t a Review)
I have a flight out at 6:45 tomorrow morning, so I’m finishing up a few projects, packing my bags, making sure I have all of the important paperwork and such for the presentation, and watching MirrorMask. I’m not sure yet if it’s a good movie or not, but I will say this, it is an utterly gorgeous movie. The visuals, the soft, flickering look, and the ghostly dream world are all so beautiful that I don’t actually care if it’s good or not. The make-up, the music, the titles, and even the young actress who plays the title role (Helena) are all so perfect that flaws in plot and dialog are easily forgiven.
I’m loving it.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Because Nobody is Guilty, Apparently (No Matter What the Tape Says)
I read the story yesterday on my lunch break and was appalled. I see the story this morning on Drudge, and I’m just getting angrier.
Brian Hooks, William Ammons, and Thomas Daugherty decided to go out and attack homeless people with bats and golf clubs (and shooting them with paintball guns during the beatings). The precise role that each of the boys took in the beatings is unclear, but the fact that they did, indeed, attack defenseless men is unquestioned. Neither is it in question that they made this same decision at least three times on the same night, possibly in five other reported attacks. This was no one time event spurred on by a chance encounter with someone; this was a crime that was repeated, that they sought out opportunity to commit.
What is also not in question is that one of the men died as a direct result of the attack. Norris Gaynor was sleeping on a park bench when these boys viciously beat him. He didn’t survive.
These are brutal, vicious assaults for no other reason that the personal gratification of these little cowards. ‘Cause, you know, it takes a real man to attack a sleeping homeless guy with nothing other than a baseball bat.
And then the lawyers step in and prove that I could never, ever be a lawyer. I could never, ever defend any of these boys.
Doesn’t it seem like something is missing from this? Let’s try it this way.
See, context is everything. These boys aren’t deserving of our sympathy, although they are deserving of the full force of Florida’s law.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
American Idol: Feb. 22
So, is there actually a male talent that doesn’t suck on this show? Seriously.
I missed the first few vocals, and Chris Daughtry did a fair impression of Bon Jovi (as if that were a good thing), but to this point in the evening everyone else has been some combination of mediocre and miserable.
Kevin Coval’s whiny voice is painful to experience. Sway’s falsetto is impressive, but his vocals were mostly messy and overdone. Bucky Covington was, perhaps, the worst of the bunch. While his song choice wasn’t bad (even if predictable), he sounded forced and off key most of the way through.
And then Gedeon came along and sang “Shout”, which hasn’t got much in the way of vocal difficulty. Sure, it was fun--it was even a good performance--but it didn’t really prove much. I felt a big “so what” at the end of the thing, personally. As annoying as he is, I have to admit that at least I didn’t feel like voting against him when he was done.
While I tend to think that American Idol is a wild celebration of the merely decent, the tepid, the conventional, and the unexceptional, this group of guys seems to be underperforming tremendously. Both Paula and Randy keep saying kind things about these guys, but it all really boils down to this: it would be hard imagining any of these guys setting the world on fire with their singing careers.
To be fair (and to update the post), Elliott Yamin sounded good and put on a good performance. That was probably the performance of the evening (even if it was Stevie Wonder). Even Simon said nice things.
As for Ace Young, I can’t stand his nasal voice or his general lack of manliness. And, damnit, die creepy soulful gaze, die.
Very lastly, I had forgotten about Taylor Hicks. I love this guy, I love his voice, and I hope like hell that he stays on the show for a long time to come. Vote Taylor Hicks.
Update: Now that’s a mighty good question. Mighty good.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
American Idol: Feb. 21
To everyone looking for intelligent commentary on the day’s events, I would like to apologize. Instead I’m giving you American Idol.
Mandisa Hundley has a big presence and a big voice (and that’s not a sly reference to Simon’s “bigger stage” comment). She’s impressive even when she isn’t at her best.
In reference to Kellie Pickler’s interview and performance. Firstly, I’m impressed how she played both the “poor me” card (reminding us of her dad and all of her personal struggles) and the “I’m available” card (in telling us that she doesn’t have a love life). So, she gets the horny boy and weepy women vote all in just a few minutes.
Honestly, she really does seem like a nice and relatively genuine person--and it would be hard to overstate the “damn she’s hot” portion--but she’s also one of the least talented singers. She doesn’t hold her notes well, she can’t seem to get past her nerves, and she has a sort of small presence. I don’t think she’ll make it very far.
Unless I’m underestimating the horny boy vote.
Becky O’Donohue will definitely compete for the horny boy voice. Yet, there is nothing about her singing that has appealed to me throughout the competition--she’s a grade “A” karaoke singer, but not much more. She also seems like one of the most forced and contrived personalities still in the competition. There’s nothing that I like about her performance, her voice, or her personality. But naked pictures could go a long way in changing my mind.
Get a load of Ayla Brown, though. I like her aggressive sports-star attitude and there seems to be very little artifice in her. I don’t think she’s a great vocalist; in fact, when she goes for the higher notes, she tends to yell more than sing. Still, she’s a step up from Becky and she has a few good moments. She wins me with her personality (although I don’t expect her to be anywhere close to the final six or eight).
Of course, I also get a kick out of the fact that she’s about a foot taller than Ryan Seacrest.
Memo to President Bush
Re: Port Security
It’s definitely a brouhaha. Possibly even a full-blown tumult.
Anyway, as much as it pains anyone to admit to being wrong, there are times to back away from a position (refer to earlier memos re: Harriet Miers). This is one of those times. If you have any difficulty in discerning the fact, let this little note close the deal:
Mr. Bush, when former President Carter supports your decisions on anything to do with national security, you may want to re-evaluate your position. In fact, in reference to foreign policy and national security, the last thing you should want is comfortable from the man we American’s lovingly know as the Lover of Dictators, the Architect of Malaise, and the Most Self-Righteous Man This Side of Kanye West. Seriously, even the Clintons have their moments of clarity, but similar claims about Carter are much harder to support.
David J (TBFKAZ)
Update: For what it’s worth--and all cheap shots at Carter, Kanye West, and the Clintons aside--I have to admit that I’m very much in agreement with Will Collier on this whole issue.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Meme, Bash, Miller
The Post in Three Parts.
Tag me for a meme, will you? Well here are the 7 Songs That I Can’t (For the Life of Me, Damnit) Get Out of My Mildly Hung-Over Head.
Who shall I tag with this meme? The first seven people to respond to this post are tagged with the virus and will be treated accordingly. But your lists better not disappoint me or I’ll pelt you with used New Kids on the Block CDs so that everyone can see your shame. And the little lumpy marks on your head from the sharp corners of the CD holders.
Now, if you want the rules, you’ll have to go to link above (and then you’ll see the English Guy’s list, which is worth the trip all by itself). I also encourage players to subtly change the rules--like any good virus, a good meme should mutate a little bit along the way.
The Bash? Well…
Which is to say, a relatively tame gathering. I blame it on the frigid temperatures and the poor planning and publicizing on my part. Which just means that we’ll have to start planning the Big Summer Bash sometime soon just to give people enough time to make plans.
And save extra money for shots…
On a slightly different note, the Libercontrarian is back in the fold. I was actually a little surprised to see him since he hadn’t RSVP’d and it looked as if he might have abandoned the blogging world, which would have been a huge disappointment to me. He’s one of the most reliable conversation starters at the meetings and a hell of a nice guy, too. I hope that I’ll be able to go out with Wadcutter, Jed, Publicola, and Libercontrarian on a shoot some time soon.
About Bode Miller, in reference to “Fifth Place, Disqualified, Did Not Finish.”
All the noise about Miller before the Winter Olympics can’t help but leave me feeling pretty let down by Miller’s mediocrity. I don’t follow skiing, and I realize he still has chances to score a medal, but he has been tremendously underwhelming, hasn’t he?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I would like to say a very public thanks to Rae for the wonderful gift that she sent me. I am now listening to Chopin: Préludes & Sonata No. 2. Gorgeous.
My musical tastes are pretty wide, but one of the things that has been a constant since I was young is that I love piano. It’s such a deeply resonant sound, so versatile, and so demanding that it becomes--in the hands of someone talented--an emotional instrument. That isn’t to say that a violin or a cello can’t be just as involving, and an acoustic guitar can bring me to life like almost nothing else, but piano is still my first musical love.
Thank you, Rae. This was a perfect gift to wake up to on a Wednesday.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Holding the Music Hostage
There I was driving into work this morning, listening to Chopin and wondering when it was that I grew so attached to classical music. It’s a nice way to relax when the traffic is making more than a little bit cranky.
In the middle of the piece--directly in the middle of the piece--a woman’s voice came over the music asking me to send money to KVOD. She explained how important classical music was, how it needed a safe home on our radio dials, and how the best way to keep classical music on public radio is for me to send in some cash. Apparently, she was suffering under the delusion that if she kept the music hostage I would be inclined to send money to free the music from her irritating voice-over.
I would suggest a better strategy: do the begging after the music, not during. The only thing that she pushed me to do was put in a Lanegan-related CD--and to download Chopin’s Nocturne for Piano in C# Minor.
Don’t hold my music hostage, lady. I get cranky.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash v. 5.0
Saturday, February 18
6 PM ‘til Really Really Late
2220 Blake Street
It isn’t just the conversation, the friends, and the beer that makes a Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash special. It’s also the chance to loudly sing 70’s TV show theme songs at the end of the night and loudly debate whether The Warriors was a brilliant movie or a bit of cinematic history best forgotten.
This year’s first Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash will be held Saturday, February 18, at the Breckenridge Brewery. We’ll be starting at 6 pm and going until they forcibly remove us from the premises. All bloggers and readers are welcome to attend.
If you haven’t yet RSVP’d, please let us know that you’re coming.
I Don’t Quite…
...Know what to think of this. Except why can’t a person take a cast iron skillet onto a plane? Is someone afraid that the plane will be hijacked with a skillet? Or is it just that the person exceeded their baggage allowance and had to leave the kitchenware behind?
But, yes, “fencing” does seem like the right word. To think that some people actually go to jail for that kind of activity.
Robert Mugabe’s Deception
It might be a good idea if we could possibly imagine that it was a sincere gesture of understanding. That is, understanding that the land grab policies, the redistribution of seized land to political allies, and a failed attempt at addressing the racial problems of the past have ruined Zimbabwe. That is, a sincere reach for a solution that could help the nation crawl from the ruins.
It might be funny if it weren’t too little and too late to salvage a collapsed economy or save the lives of the people who will go hungry or stave off the terrifying inflation that has left Zimbabwe’s own money almost completely worthless.
When leases were offered before--when land was purchased after the revolution with legal guarantees of ownership--those leases were disregarded as soon as it was in Mugabe’s best interest to dive into a land redistribution program. Sadly, there might be more than a few farmers who return from abroad when the promise of legal protection is extended to them. They will rebuild, they will turn fallow fields into fruitful fields, and they will invest themselves in the rich land once again.
Sooner or later, Mugabe, or his successor, will rip that land away, leaving the farmers with no protection when the squatters come to drive them off the land.
Of course, I could be wrong, but would it be wise to trust a leader of a country who happily manipulates the courts, the votes, and the constitution to maintain his power? A man who has lied so often before and shown a willingness to put his own political needs above the needs of Zimbabwe’s citizens?
This is a desperate move from a man who has watched his dying. It must be doubly disturbing to realize that his policies dug the grave (if, indeed, he does reach that realization--the power of a dictator to rationalize his own actions and find blame in others is never to be underestimated).
At the end of the story, one gentleman seems to embody my own cynical view of this policy change.
Sure, it would be hilarious if it weren’t another act in an ongoing tragedy.
For further reading:
This bearer cheque will buy you a single bottle of beer in Zimbabwe. But read the post to find out how many of them it would take to fill your car with gas.
Yet, inaction would lead to the slow starvation of a country, the potential for armed violence as the political situation grows less stable, and the exodus of even more of Zimbabwe’s able workers. The ideal solution would come from the citizens of Zimbabwe with help from her neighbors, but that isn’t a likely scenario.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I’m Not Sayin’. I’m Just Sayin’.
Watching American Idol and trying to connect to a server via WebDAV only it ain’t freakin’ working.
Saw Brokeback Mountain this weekend and thought it was beautiful. Maybe slightly overdone, maybe slightly long, but gorgeous cinematography, an amazing performance from Heath Ledger, some incredibly sad and touching moments, and all done with that light touch that Ang Lee brings to his best movies. I loved it (although I still don’t buy into the “it was so brave of them” talk).
If I were to be completely honest, I would have to admit that a few of the scenes did make me feel a little squeamish. Two guys kissing is no big deal, but the intimacy shown in Brokeback’s few love scenes was a very different thing. It wasn’t jokey or overdone--it was just a tragic love story with two male leads.
The most tragic part of the movie, though, seemed to be the damage done to the wives, and my misty moments were reserved mostly for them.
Now, tying it all together, while watching American Idol, I have to wonder just how many gay cowboys there are out there. I’m not sayin’ that anyone is gay, because I don’t have any inside information, I’m just sayin’…
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Job Search Advice
I feel pretty good about my recent job search. The hunt didn’t last long and the offer that I took was a good one. In all honesty, I was terrified about the search--the questions about qualifications and resume made me wonder if I would have to settle for significantly less than I had been making at my last job.
As these things go, this job search went beautifully.
It didn’t hurt to have friends passing me job leads and clients ordering enough work that I really won’t even miss the paycheck that I missed (if you take my meaning). My health care coverage will extend until I have coverage with the new company, I have a few extra dollars still coming in to help smooth the bumps, and I’m actually excited about tackling some of my new job responsibilities.
Here comes the advice portion.
I registered at both CareerBuilder and Monster, creating resumes and job search profiles. It was definitely useful; during that three week span, I must have applied for about 10 positions from these sources. I also checked Craigslist’s local listings on a daily basis with somewhat mixed results. There were jobs popping up, but they weren’t regular and most of the ads were specifying a pretty low rate of pay. I think that most of the Craigslist leads would have been more helpful to me if I were just starting my career.
I even set up a special Gmail account just for the job search. That kept the ResurrectionSong domain out of the picture (I don’t need my writing or my politics to make it harder for me to land a job) and kept my search more organized.
And then I got an email from Don O, irregular contributor to ResurrectionSong. He suggested I check out Indeed.com--and that’s where I eventually found the lead for my current position. Indeed pulls listings from Monster, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, and more. The job I applied for was posted on some odd board where I am guessing their exposure was less than if the job had been posted at Monster--that meant I was a name in a less crowded field instead of getting lost in with the rest.
Indeed’s interface is Google’s interface, so the whole thing is familiar and easy, and the job sites it searches are extensive.
If you’re looking for a job, I still think that there is value in registering with sites like Monster, but using Indeed to search listings is highly suggested. It’s a great service.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
P.S. Angry Muslims, Please Don’t Burn My House Down
That’s the last line of Shawn Macomber’s post today, and I’m still trying to decide whether it’s funny or not. I remember when Macomber wrote his Koran story last year, and I still agree with every word of it--but in this war of cultures between Islamic extremists and the West, how funny is that postscript when Danish cartoonists are hiding and embassies are burning? When Christians are being killed because of those cartoons?
I wrote a long post tying Macomber’s current post and article to Jeff G’s lengthy post (and series of links) along with a really bad joke. I might polish it up and push it out sometime, but in case I don’t I wanted y’all to take a look at those articles.
Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash: All The Cool Kids Will Be There
Feb. 18th 2006, 6 pm
Pass the word to help make this a great bash.
You don’t have to have a blog to come, and you don’t have to have a blog to RSVP. Commenters and lurkers are encouraged to come by and meet up with some of the most opinionated, intelligent, interesting drunk people in the Rocky Mountains. Likewise, everyone is welcome regardless of political affiliation, blogging style, favorite football team, or height.
I’ll be updating names on the list regularly and will post graphics for the event in the next day or two.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Surrounded by Pajamas
Interestingly, I just got an accidental Pajamas Media-lanche.
Or something like that.
Which is kind of cool. And which I’m pretty sure I owe a note of thanks to Ed Driscoll (who is tied with Steve Green for best-dressed Rocky Mountain Blogger Basher of all time). Thanks, Ed!
The Best Thing Kevin Smith Ever Did
I might have shared this before, but it’s worth repeating: I loved Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but pretty much everything after that was just varying degrees of disappointing. Except for An Evening with Kevin Smith.
His double DVD of Q&A sessions across America reveals Smith as a smart, charismatic, quick-witted, funny man with a ton of great stories. Of course, he’s also offensive, foul-mouthed, and completely willing to call people out by name (Tim Burton takes a few big hits, for instance).
I’m watching it while I’m downloading Verdi’s Nabucco and contemplating the graphics for Blogger Bash Version Whichever and thinking that I should really really be working on one of the freelance projects that I’ve got going.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
McNabb is Wrong
I’ve always liked Donovan McNabb and I don’t like Terrell Owens (and I really hope that all the talk about TO coming to the Denver Broncos doesn’t end up with TO in Broncos’ blue and predominantly orange), but today the balance shifted a little. McNabb’s reach for the race card in his feud with TO was unconscionable.
Yeah, wow. “Black-on-black crime.” Because God forbid that one black man criticizes another black man while saying something nice about a white man.
It happens that I questioned Owens’ statement, too, but not because of any obsession with skin color. I just wondered whether Favre was still at a place in his career where he could be that much of a difference maker. It never crossed my mind that this could be made into a racial issue--which just proves my lack of imagination in that arena, I suppose.
I would sincerely hope that decision-makers in the NFL don’t fill positions based on race. Winning championships isn’t compatible with monochromatic rosters.
McNabb’s statement just makes him look like an ass, which, when it’s entrenched in a story involving Terrell Owens, is quite a trick. How often does TO end up looking like the good guy in a news story?
Health Care: No Answers Here
Scott Kirwin asks: How is fire protection - a recognized public good today (it always wasn’t) - different than health care - which we currently do not recognize as a public good?
Here’s one difference: providing more fire protection will not cause more fires whereas providing more health protection will cause more people to regularly use that “free” benefit. That is, people won’t call to report fires just because they have protection, although people will go see a doctor more often for increasingly minor complaints the better their health coverage is.
The government isn’t--or shouldn’t be--in the business of simply providing benefits because it sounds like a good idea. Nationalized, universal health care would be so tremendously expensive that it would require a massive tax hike to fund--a tax hike that would stunt economic growth and would likely still fall short of the actual cost of the entitlement.
Here’s another difference: while pretty much all fires can cause a danger to the community at large, not all health issues are community issues. Your broken bone, your migraines, your non-communicable health issues aren’t my problem. Scott makes it sound like every health care issue is a public one when that simply isn’t true.
Is there a health care crisis? Yep. But proportionally America spends more on health care than it has at any time in history. The better coverage they have, the more often they go to the doctor, the more drugs they take, and the more expensive the technology they use to help diagnose problems. Shifting the cost from health care providers to the government won’t reduce that cost (in fact, it will drastically increase expenditures as each dollar filters through a massive bureaucracy) it will just put it on another part of the ledger.
Private companies will breath a sigh of relief because they will no longer have to deal with the constant health care cost increases. Until they see that extra tax hit them every quarter and each and every American sees that extra tax hit them with every paycheck.
So the crisis isn’t in the number of dollars spent on health care, the crisis is in consumer expectations on those dollars spent. Everyone thinks that they are entitled to their pills (no matter how much they cost companies to research and develop) for a five-dollar co-pay. Everyone thinks they are entitled to visit a highly educated and trained doctor for a co pay less than they are willing to spend on Jiffy Lube’s “Best” oil change.
These aren’t necessarily insurance issues. Pills are planned expenses and so are a lot of doctor visits. Your yearly check-up isn’t something you need to be insured against in the same way that your radiator coolant flush and transmission service aren’t things you need to be insured against. Yet no one is lobbying for nationalized car care insurance so that you never have to pay more than a $20 co pay whenever you rack up another 50,000 miles on the car.
I admit, health care is a more complex thing than car care and potentially wildly more expensive. That doesn’t magically make it the same kind of public interest as fire and police departments or a standing military. Our health care system is failing us precisely because we haven’t come to the right solution that balances the “insurance” aspect with the fact that planned expenses increase faster when people have no incentive to control costs.
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