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Monday, July 31, 2006

Pepared for Cuba’s Future?

Now might be an excellent time to consider Cuba’s future. How well has Castro prepared the power structure for his demise? Will there be an opportunity for elections and a bloodless passage of one of the Soviet Union’s last living relics? With too much overt intervention will the United States push more of Central and South America into the sphere of Chavez? Will too little pressure waste an opportunity for change?

The central question is, “What would the world look like without Fidel Castro?”

Imagine. And, if it needs to be said, the blog to be watching will be Val’s; you know how close this is to him.

Update: I tend to think that a celebration is a little premature, but it’s hard to fault the enthusiasm...

And while we’re at it, Drumwaster’s Rants catches the DU’ers in something both predictable and hilarious.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mel Gibson: Anti-Semite?

When Drudge reported Mel Gibson’s arrest for a DUI the other day, I responded, “So the hell what?” The same response I have whenever a celebrity or politician is caught doing something like that. It’s not that it doesn’t matter; just like any other citizen, they deserve to pay the consequences for their mistakes. But when joe Warehouse worker gets caught driving drunk, he doesn’t see his name on the front page of newspapers or on the internet for everyone to see.

It just seems a bit much for me to care about.

But if this report of what Gibson was saying is accurate, then his career is well (and appropriately) screwed. Want to bet that Apocalypto tanks because of this? It was already a tough sell, but this could incite a serious backlash.

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”

The report paints, even outside of the nasty anti-Semitism, a seriously ugly portrait of the drunken star. He’s abusive, angry, and pathetic.

This isn’t one of those incidents that an actor can easily recover from; this is one of those things that loses friends, business partners, and audience. Aside from that, it shows a side of Gibson that deserves all the scorn we can muster.

Read the rest.

Update: The Ace view. The Malkin view.

Update 2: Mel issues a speedy public apology. Combined with the controversy around Passion of the Christ, though, and the truly hateful things that he said, I can’t imagine that forgiveness will come that easy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

100 Doses: A Long-Term Cure for American Idol, Part 2

Resurrecting this post seemed appropriate after the graphic in the previous post.

I don’t know what ingredients build a great song, but I do have my opinions about some songs that I consider to be great. And, one by one, I’m going to share 100 of those songs. They won’t be in any particular order (and Mark Lanegan might be a little over-represented), but they will be accompanied by MP3s and the reasons that I think the songs are so brilliant.

Some of the songs will be familiar, although popularity is no quick gauge of virtue.

Think of this as a cure for American Idol. A group of songs that make up a hell of a playlist with songs that you’ll hate and songs that you’ll love and a little bit of musical exploration for the class. The only two rules are that the songs have to have a prominent vocal, can’t be a cover of another artist’s music, and that I think that they are so damned good that they are worth sharing.

Dean Carter - “Jailhouse Rock”

I’m going to violate my own rule about cover songs because, after much thought, I decided that it was my freakin’ game and I could change the rules if I wanted to. Anyway, my original “two rules” were actually three rules which leaves me believing that I must have meant that the entries had to meet two out of three of the rules to qualify for inclusion. It’s a comfortable lie and I’m sticking to it.

You have all heard “Jailhouse Rock”; it’s as familiar as comfy jeans. What you probably haven’t heard is the terrifying psycho-billy rock version by Dean Carter, and almost nothing I can say will prepare you for it. It’s a jumble of styles, influences, instruments, and noise. The thing moves along at 100 miles an hour, bouncing off the walls like its gone completely out of control. It’s shocking and just plain weird.

Then there’s the demented buzz saw guitar solo dead in the middle of the song that must have been wild to see live. The man is a maniac who, while staying completely faithful to the thing, manages to utterly destroy the song. In a good way.

If you don’t like music that is loud, fast, and unpredictable, then you sure as hell won’t like this. If you don’t like stuff that is under produced, uneven, and hard, then just skip right past. For everyone else, this is a fun trip. Every time the crew on American Idol talks about their token “rock” singers, I think back to songs like this--the aural equivalent of teen rebellion.

Like teen rebellion, Dean Carter’s version of “Jailhouse Rock” is probably as useless, inexpert, and contentious as it is energetic, boisterous, and breathtaking. Sometimes, isn’t it fun to just go fast and hard for nothing but the joy of the moment?

And that’s Dean Carter’s “Jailhouse Rock.” (File will be removed early Saturday. Right click to download to your hard drive.)

The Previous Posts

100 - Mark Lanegan, “Judas Touch”

If Clinton Were Still President…

...You know we’d be hearing about a request for a Presidential lap dance.


Katherine McPhee and Pres Clinton

Not that I’d blame the guy. Can I get a hubba hubba?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Still, and Undeniably, a Tragedy

I offer this with only my post title as commentary.

The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a “shield” to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.

Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post—which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces—was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.
[...]
“What I can tell you is this,” he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. “We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.

“The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity.”

Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.

“What that means is, in plain English, ‘We’ve got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces),” he said.

Read the rest.

(h/t Talking Points Memo.)

Another Damned, Evil Post

What? You expected me to call it “Damned, Evil-palooza”? I think not.

But here’s a selection of Damned, Evil things for the day.

Cheaters. What a tremendous disappointment (if true).
Sun. And its evil, murderous ways.
Terrorists. Although, how this qualifies as a new position for al Qaida somehow eludes me.
Journey detractors. You know that deep inside their little Journey detracting souls, they secretly love the catchy tunes, the unique voice, and the, ummm, artistic 80’s videos.
Ashley Lelie, Okay, maybe not actually evil, but I have a hard time understanding why this incosistent, underperforming wide reciever is complaining. I actually find myself hoping that he is traded soon for someone with consistency and a better work ethic.
Naked sculpture haters in Loveland. There truly is a difference between pornography and art. Nude representations of the human body aren’t necessarily obscene or indecent (although a nude representation of my body is pretty much automagically both) The question shouldn’t be, “How prude can we be?” The question should be, “Is this art of a quality for our public spaces?” No one has asked me, but I would say that it is. I wouldn’t say that I find it particularly attractive or original--it seems derivative and even typical to me in a competent kind of way. But it most certainly isn’t obscene in a way that a typical American would understand the term.
Saddam Hussein. And I say hang him. Don’t grant him that last moment of satisfaction.
Oil prices. See: Damned Evil Terrorists above for part of the reason, Damned Evil Speculators (not listed) for another part, and the irrational fear that we’re running out of the stuff for the biggest chunk of the equation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Blogger Bash Drunken Moment Preview, The First in a Series

You don’t want to miss this Blogger Bash Moment, Do You?

I love you, man. No, sheeriouslee, I mean it, I mean I’m trying to have a sheerious you know, thing, you know?

Dude, I think the waitress wants me…

Prepare for Blogger Bash with These Four Easy Steps

  1. RSVP. We want to know that you’re coming.
  2. Mark the date on your calendar. If you forget, you’ll regret missing the opportunity to socialize with some of the smartest, funniest, and, darnit, downright sexiest writers in Colorado.
  3. Invite some friends. You know, to drive you home after the festivities. Only don’t tell them that or they might not come.
  4. Start practicing your drinking technique. There will be shots.

Update: Which has nothing to do with Terri Nunn. But, c’mon, I still have a crush on Terri Nunn. Hey, if you were looking for real content, you could always read this post. I’m still pretty fond of that piece.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Holy Sleeplessness! No Wonder I’m Stupid…

It’s my girlfriend’s fault...

Update: Which has nothing to do with a Steve Green sighting, but this still seems like a good time to mention that he has been seen. Which is nice.

Update: None of which explains the lack of dating intelligence on this cat. Hilarious story, but wrong. So wrong. (H/T The Corner)

Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 5.5: The Very Official Announcement

Blogger Bash is coming. Can you smell the shots?

Important Update: The Minturn in no longer the Minturn, regardless of what the Web site says. It is now The Moon Time Bar.

After much hard thought, many drinks, and more than a small dose of procrastination, Andy and I are pleased to present:


Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 5.5

Friday, August 25, 2006
Minturn Saloon Moon Time Bar
Pseudo-Centrally Located
846 Broadway | Denver, Colorado


Open to bloggers, commenters, significant others, and random passers-by. You can expect to talk about politics, music, movies, and ruminations on the meaning of “Centrally Located” while drinking all the booze your credit card can buy.

RSVP here or at Andy’s joint and we’ll keep a running list of the attendees.

For more information about the Minturn.
Check out Google Maps to find the quickest path to the bar.




Party People
  • David. Me. The End.
  • Andy. Your other host for the evening.
  • Matt. The once and future blogger.
  • Roger Fraley. Who will be there, darnit.
  • Shannon wishes she could come. But she can’t. Which is what she gets for running away to Canada.
  • Off Colfax. Who always shows up right when everyone else is drunk. Which means he sits there, pointing at us and laughing most of the night. Which, if I could remember it clearly, would probably hurt my feelings something fierce.
  • Publicola. Who will be on the roof smoking the night away in the most centrally-located seat he can find.
  • Angie. Keep your fingers crossed.
  • Goyishekop.
  • Jiggity. He’s buying the shots this time, I hear.
  • Charlie. Who isn’t quite older than dirt. Yet.
  • Jed. The vocal voice urging party unity. Or, wait, that’s not quite right.
  • Rae. The far-traveling blogger and long-time buddy (and proof that hot chicks blog).
  • Darren. Who always brings big, loud conversational aids.
  • Wheels. Who will be moving his blogs to new digs soon.
  • Cutter. That’s Doctor Cutter, if you please.
  • Stacy. And her brand new blog location.
  • David Aitken. Because he now realizes that we really are the cool kids and that he should have shown up last time.
  • Sin from Bleeding Right is coming because he knows we might be able to con the bartender into playing some good music.
  • Robert will, hopefully, refrain from creatively destroying anything during the bash.

Bad Joke! Bad! Bad!

Seriously. The punchline is a groaner.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shocking and, Definitely, Odd

I had always thought that Jeralyn Merrit of TalkLeft was about as far to the left as a person can run without going completely over the horizon. I mean that in a nice way. What is shocking, and, yes, exceptionally surprising, is that she is taking it on the chin on her site for a post about Israel’s military actions that didn’t blame the conflict on Israel. To be fair, most of the commentary is of the polite variety (none of the Protein Wisdom v/ Insane University Professor variety drama)--but there is definitely some snark amidst the “violence never solved anything” naive grade school talk.

Israel is not randomly bombing civilians.

No..they’re just randomly killing them with bombs. See the big difference?

They’re not being bombed, they’re just dying from explosives dropped/shot from the air. That makes it ALL OK...Thanks TL.

Two notes:

Firstly, violence, as Heinlein pointed out, has been a tremendous force for solving problems throughout human history. In fact, some problems can only be handled with some level of violence--and for those unwilling to face that truth, violence will usually solve their problems, too. Just not in the way that they may ultimately be comfortable with. An obvious example: if violence weren’t used to thwart Japan’s plans for regional domination in World War II, what would the Pacific rim look like today?

Unyielding violence on one side of an argument must be met with reasoned, purposeful violence to be diminished. Terrorists don’t stop being terrorists just because we renounce our militaristic ways; they just gain ground when we refuse to push back. Israel is in a position where pushing back is, in my mind, the only reasonable option. That is neither antagonistic nor is it anti-Islamic. Anyone reading through the archives of this site could find that I favor a two state solution, that I had hoped that the “roadmap to peace” would actually wind its way to its stated destination, that I don’t hate Muslims, that I don’t think that Israel is above reproach, or that I favor military action where it isn’t necessary.

But I do support Israel’s right to defend herself, I so support Israel’s right to exist, I do wonder how Muslims can continue to support the nihilistic goals of Hamas and Hezbollah, and I do believe that there are times when war is necessary. 

Secondly, my boss (the VP of this and that for the company I work for) considers herself to be a Buddhist. She considers herself to be a pacifist and made some of the funniest imaginable faces when I told her that I was a moderate Republican. Of course, the faces she made were even more interesting when she noticed the tattoos and found out about the oddly placed piercing, but that’s another story entirely. The point is this: when Israel was bringing troops up to the Lebanese border, even my boss was supportive of their military action. Even she recognized that Israel was fighting for her existence and that there was no one left for the Israelis to negotiate with.

This woman (who was opposed to American military action in Iraq, seems pretty iffy America having gone into Afghanistan, and who hates George Bush with the kind of passion that I reserve for, say, Michael Moore) bordered on bloodthirsty in her feelings about the Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Somehow, that seems worth noting to me.

Read the post.

Things Occasionally Pondered That Might Bring About a “Hmmm” Response, Part 1

Disproportionate Force. Disproportionate Force. I’m getting a little tired of hearing about Israel’s use of EU-critiqued “Disproportionate Force.”

Can’t we talk about Islamic terrorists’ tendencies toward Disproportionate Use of Suicide Bombs to Blow Non-Military Shit Up Around the Globe Because Not Everyone Believes in God in Precisely the Same Way that They Do? I mean, seriously, that’s far more interesting to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am heartbroken over the civilian casualties on both side of the conflict, but that doesn’t remove the military and political necessity of minimizing the risk from Hezbollah. The damned shame of it is that this military action may not do enough to curtail the flood of money, weapons, and support from outside of Lebanon. That is, Iran and Syria will still send bodies, money, munitions, and intelligence to continue not only in the harassment of Israel but also the destabilization of the region.

So, yeah, let’s ditch the talk about Israel’s use of Disproportionate Force and instead come up with some creative solutions to completely destroy the military capability of Hezbollah, minimize the military and political power of Iran and Syria, and help Lebanon rebuild from what has been (to be blunt) a really shitty couple of decades.

Update:

Because it’s worth sharing, I bring this quote from The New Republic:

First of all, Israel is responding not just to those recent killings but to a long string of attacks since it withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. The kidnapping was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Second, as the Israeli government rightly points out, no country operates on the principle of responding to aggression with no more force than was originally used against it. During World War II, Germany sunk a lot of American ships and declared war on us, and in return we flattened its cities, killed or captured hundreds of thousands of its solders and occupied its land. That was hardly a proportionate response.

Now, it is true that Israel’s counteroffensive has taken the lives of several hundred Lebanese civilians (many entirely innocent, others who sheltered Hezbollah rockets) and displaced perhaps half a million more. Every innocent death is a tragedy.

But the brutal fact is that civilian deaths are Hezbollah’s strongest weapon. As Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, once said: “We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.”

Read the rest. (free registration might be required)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Mildly Disappointing Weekend

Friday afternoon I received a call from a certain person in California who had been given my number by Steve Green. The call was to ask if I would cover the Democratic Leadership Council’s meeting this weekend here in Denver--a flattering request, considering the source. I said yes and was told that the media rep would contact me with details about my press pass.

Now, I realized that if this did pull together, I would owe my girlfriend some super-sized apologies. We had plans this week that I was ready to ditch in hopes that covering the DLC conference would rejuvenate my political blogging.

The response, unfortunately, was that the DLC couldn’t accommodate a request for a press pass. Damn the luck.

I didn’t want to go to the conference as an enemy infiltrator; I wanted to go as someone genuinely curious about the moderate portion of the Democratic Party. I wanted to get a better understanding of their vision for America’s future and our security--and to see if the left was ready to take a serious role in our national political conversation again. This isn’t a mix of Kos supporters and other “progressive” leftists looking to hijack the party; in theory, this is the part of the party that has the potential to appeal to a country that is less than enthralled with current leadership.

But, again, how serious are they about the important issues (national security and the economic and pragmatic mess of Social Security)? Much of the left’s message--even outside the realm of the hard left--could be boiled down to something into a less-than-cogent anti-Bush sentiment. The Democrats have a huge opportunity to take back political control of the United States over the next few years, but they won’t do it with people like Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean. Whether they understand it or not, on a national level, their hopes are more with Hillary Clinton and the struggling Lieberman--people that non-activist citizens can see as being reasonable on national security and offering a real option to the Republicans’ economic and social policies.

Some of the complaints about Republican leadership doesn’t seem reasonable to me, but that is neither relevant when it comes to public opinion nor is it to say that the GOP has provided the level of leadership that I had hoped for six years ago.

I’m terrifically disappointed that I wasn’t able to come up with a way to attend the conference, but I’ll be watching the proceedings from the sidelines over the next few days. These could well be the people who will be setting the tone for how our country deals with the war on Islamic terrorists, immigration, taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and all the other issues that drive my political interests.

Friday, July 21, 2006

God Bless the Cheerleaders

I think that pretty much says it all.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clearing a Hurdle of Sorts

At this very moment, I am typing out this entry on a slightly used Mac Mini (while a brand new Dell sits on the floor behind me just waiting to find a home). I am sitting in my g-phrase’s house, hooked into my (finally) transferred cable account after having set up a wireless network so that I can go on to try to finish off a little work tonight.

There are a number of significant things in this post:

1- I love my newish Mac Mini. The attractive, small form factor was big in my decision-making process.

2- For all practical purposes, I seem to have moved in with my girlfriend.

3- Now that I don’t have to count on someone else’s wireless account being up, I might have the opportunity to post more regularly. Of course, the extra work load is still an issue…

4- The Dell will be her computer once I have a place to set it up. It was a bribe from a new credit card company for transferring a rather large sum of money from other cards and on to theirs.

Anyway, it’s been an ugly-expensive month and now I’m facing the need to buy upgraded graphics packages to handle files that clients have been spending. Have you priced a brand-new installation of Adobe’s Creative Suite 2 recently? And then added in a brand new license for Flash? Ouch. So, yeah, if anyone has spare licenses for all the above, feel free to send a package my way.

Heheh. Kidding.

Sort of.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mark Lanegan News (You’ve Been Waiting for it, Haven’t You?)

The Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan and Ballad Of The Broken Seas has been nominated for the Mercury music prize (which is a kind of big deal if you happen to be from the UK). For the record, Lanegan is only eligible for this UK-only award because he collaborated with the twee--and cute as hell--Campbell.

I have mixed feelings on this honor (and being shortlisted for the award is an honor for the two). I don’t think it’s Lanegan’s best work and I wish that he were being recognized for something like Field Songs or Whiskey for the Holy Ghost--either of which ranks at the top of my all time favorites. This is also an honor that recognizes Campbell far more than Lanegan, and rightly so. She wrote and produced the grand majority of the material on the disc, bringing her particular musical vision to life.

That said, Lanegan’s voice shines on songs like “False Husband” and “Revolver” is something approximating brilliant. For that matter, the 70’s honkeytonk feel of “The Circus is Leaving Town” is surprisingly good for something that seems to be based on a long-running cliche. His voice is rich, full, and soothing--special.

So, congratulations to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan and here’s hoping that they win the prize.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (The Ten Point Review)

1- Having read the reviews, my expectations were low. This freed me to enjoy the diminished pleasures of the sequel. This is hardly a recommendation.

2- Sequels are tough business and it’s the rare movie that either equals or betters what came before. Dead Man’s Chest doesn’t make the grade, but that’s not such a surprise. Matching the energy and freshness of the original would have been damned near impossible.

3- Imagine, if you will, that the Coen brothers decided to do a sequel to O Brother, Where Art Thou? Imagine trying to match the joy of first hearing George Clooney’s hilarious hayseed with intellectual pretensions or just the sheer surprise of seeing the film for the first time. It would be foolish to try to match the experience and unlikely to succeed.

4- Dead Man’s Chest is something like that; in the first POTC, discovering Captain Jack Sparrow for the first time is a thrill. The jokes are spot on, the action flows perfectly, and the characters are great. A sequel was almost destined to fail because Jack Sparrow is now a familiar quantity. What seemed so new in the first movie now is old hat.

5- Which isn’t to say that it had to fail as much as it did. The first two thirds move too slow and the jokes just don’t connect. There are a few funny moments, but not enough to make up for the slow motion plot.

6- And at about two and a half hours, it’s just too damned long.

7- The last third almost redeems the thing, though, with funnier moments, more fluid action, and a plot that finally starts to pull together. It’s too thin to support the weight of the whole movie, but it leaves you with some warm and fuzzy feelings.

8- Some of the creature effects are astounding. Davey Jones’ crew of sailors is a hell of a sight. They’ve taken on the characteristics of sea creatures and the ocean with results that are almost distracting and always arresting. Brilliant work.

9- I still want to be a pirate. Rum jokes make me giggle.

10- One of the few sequels to rise to the level of its predecessor was Empire Strikes Back. In most ways, I would consider it to be a better movie than Star Wars, although, if pressed, I would name Star Wars as my favorite of the series. The same principle applies to movies as to sex: there is nothing like the excitement of a new discovery. The stuff that follows may be, ahem, technically better, but the first time is special. It’s also telling that George Lucas simply couldn’t make the rest of the sequels match even the level of Empire.

Bonus Point- Which is a lot of words to say just a few things: Dead Man’s Chest is merely a decent movie that doesn’t compare particularly well to Pirates. I still enjoyed it, though, and look forward to watching the third movie--but my expectations won’t be particularly high. And that’s the curse of the big budget sequel.

Concise and Correct

I’m sure you’ve heard or read about this, but just in case: Bush gets to the heart of Israel’s escalating conflict in a way that is, well, damned near perfect:

...[T]hing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.

There are times I love this guy.

Read the transcript.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Supporting Israel

Fellow Denver dwellers, RG Combs points to something that you might be interested in.


We Are One
with
The People of Israel

Denver Jewish Community
ISRAEL SOLIDARITY GATHERING

this Sunday evening

JULY 16th 6:30 – 7:30 pm
BMH-BJ Sanctuary
560 S. Monaco Parkway

Bring your family, bring your friends

Please pass this vital information on to your contact list

Bring all who are concerned about Israel


I’ll be there.

I’m Special

You have to dig just a little ways in this post to find out why I’m special. But I am special.

Believe it.

Seriously.

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