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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

American Idol: The Spoiling it for People in the Wrong Time Zone Edition

It should have been Jason Castro going home tonight, but it wasn’t going to be. Before the show started I gave darling girl my guess and my guess proved correct: both girls in the bottom two and I’ll have to live a Brookeless existence from now on.

While Archuleta and Castro become more annoying as the show goes on, Brooke was a consistently warm presence on the show. Unfortunately, she hadn’t had a really good night in a few weeks and, on the strength of last night’s performance, she deserved to be in the bottom two (Jason just deserved the boot for being even worse).

We’ll miss her.

Against all odds, I must say that AI has produced a minor miracle: a singer whose songs I might well buy in the future. David Cook could well find a place in my digital record collection someday--I just hope that they don’t saddle him one of the terrifyingly bland singles that they make them sing at the end of every season.

Premature predictions going forward: Castro goes next week, Syesha goes the following week, and Cook wins. Of course, that might be underestimating the hordes of tweens who will vote twenty times each--hordes that might tip the balance in Archuleta’s favor.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blogger Bash Stuff Upcoming

Or, as Andy says, “You Will Be Hearing of Drinks and Rumors of Drunks.”

Big news. Big bash. But the form of all that bigness is just starting to take shape.

Seriously, though. Big. Big-gantuan, in fact.

AmericanIdol:TheGoodLordThey’reGoingFastEdition

Man. Slow down. Let us enjoy the songs. I like Neil Diamond.

But…

In the spirit of the show, we’ll just get through this post as quick as possible.

Jason Castro: blah. David Cook: a’ight. Brooke White: not so much. David Archuletta: begone foul youth of doom. Syesha: pretty good.

Randy: yep. Paula: put down the drink. Simon: harsh, but not too far off.

Jason Casto: you suck. Randy didn’t like it, Paula didn’t like it, Simon didn’t like it.

David Cook: decent, but not great. Smart in a way to take on songs that no one knows, though, since it gives him leeway to make break away from any comparisons to Diamond. On the other hand, he loses points because people can’t sing along and say, “I love that song” in a moment of musical rediscovery.

Randy: love it. Paula: again filled with pride. For some reason. Simon: loved it.

Brooke: Good stuff. Very fitting song for her in vocal style and mood. Of course, it’s probably my favorite Neil Diamond song, so I’m biased. The truth is, as the girl says, it was a little too short to go anywhere. Truth.

Randy: liked it. Paula: filled with empty words. Simon: still hated the first song, but the second was good.

David Archuletta: good God, no. Seriously painful to listen to him warbling--uncomfortably--"Coming to America.” And I think he hit puberty somewhere in the middle of the song. It felt a lot like being at a high school graduation ceremony. In a bad way.

Randy: you’re in the zone. Paula: I love your little, innocent self. But not in a naughty teacher sort of way. Well, not entirely, anyway. Simon: smart choice of song (I agree--still hated it, though).

Syesha: it was okay, I suppose. Alright. Decent. Whatever. I liked the first one better. Maybe it was better in person.

Randy: lovin’ it. Paula: lovin’ you. Simon: lovin’ that the show is over for the night.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Resources for Africa Obsessives (Like Me)

In just about a month, the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) will begin with the aim of focusing on “high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.” This might not sound particularly sexy, but coordinating aid efforts on concrete goals and principles, finding ways to encourage African “ownership” of development and solutions, and encouraging international donors to become real partners in development is a set of goals near to my heart.

That the TICAD conferences are organized by the UN (admittedly, not my favorite nor my most trusted institution) doesn’t lessen my hope that it continues to bring us closer to a prosperous set of stable, liberal, independent nations that contribute heartily to the world community.

The UN University has a site devoted to tracking interesting stories related to African development on a page within their site. Set up in a blog format, it’s a great resource for those of use who believe that Africa really can be, as TICAD believes, the “Continent of Hope and Opportunity.”

Check out the site and, if you feel so inspired, leave your critique on their site here. I’ve promised one of the organizers that I would both publicize it and offer up my critique and suggestions. I would like to be able to offer more than my own small suggestions, though--and since I’m pretty sure that the smartest people in the world read my site (I mean, they would, wouldn’t they?), I would ask for their insight.

Has Anyone Else Noticed…

...How much Reverend Wright seems to hate Obama?

Can there be any other explanation for Wright’s willingness to keep a negative story alive? He has basically written the script for Republicans and told the world that Obama was being a typical, duplicitous politician who only pretended to distance himself from the Rev. Wright’s more outrageous statements?

If Wright cared about Obama’s bid for president, he might find it expedient to keep a low profile for a bit.

Not that I’m complaining.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Movie Stuff Both Good and Bad

The original WarGames--with a predictable, not particularly bright plot offset by the incredible charisma of young Matthew Broderick --will always be a guilty pleasure of mine. If I come across it while surfing channels late at night, I’ll stop and enjoy the little blast of eighties Cold War nostalgia that I also get from the likes of Red Dawn. It isn’t a good movie in the same way as, say, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it still makes me smile.

But a remake (with an even dumber plot plopped on an apparently no-charisma zone) probably won’t be making anyone’s nostalgia tour two decades from now. Which might be why it’s skipping the theaters and going direct to video where only the plainly foolish might be suckered into watching the thing.

Yet again I feel surrounded by seas of stupid. You can see the trailer for the abomination at the link.

On the plus side, when we went to see the slight but funny Forgetting Sarah Marshall (with all of its surprising and unfortunate male frontal nudity), I saw trailers for movies that I absolutely cannot wait to see. Steve Carell was born to play Maxwell Smart--which might seem a small thing to be born for, but if it’s as funny as the original TV show, Get Smart will be one of the funniest movies I will have seen in years. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian looks to be a worthy followup to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Lastly, a new version of The Hulk, with no connection to what shall forever be known as Ang Lee’s worst film, with Edward Norton is coming up, too, and it looks much more fun than the last movie. It doesn’t hurt that Norton, apparently, contributed some of the writing. Between that and Robert Downey, Jr’s turn as Iron Man, I have to think that there is some good comic book action coming to theaters this year.

Anyway, the message is this: don’t see War Games: The Dead Code, but look forward to some fun, dumb eye candy while the Democrats continue to work hard at making presidential politics a real brutal contact sport.

And if you’re looking for more raunchy comedy from the Judd Apatow machine, Forgetting Sarah Marshall will have you laughing and, true to form, has some touchingly real moments about how men and women screw up their relationships. It’s a joyously vulgar thing and, for all the talk of bravery for movies like Crash and Brokeback Mountain, Jason Segel showed true bravery in his willingness to bare himself in so many (often disturbing) ways and top it off by singing a portion of a melodramatic rock opera about Dracula’s desire to be loved. That’s courage, my friends.

Let us all, who have attended Rocky Mountain Blogger Bashes, give thanks that I am not a particularly courageous man.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Unsupported Statements of the Day (Which I Still Happen to Believe Quite Strongly), Pt. 1

In no way did Wesley Snipes deserve a three year sentence for misdemeanor charges of failure to file his taxes--and a piss poor way of saying thanks for the $5,000,000 in checks that he handed over before sentencing in an effort to show that not only had he learned his lesson, but that he had a newfound willingness to pony up.

As a bonus, I’m also pretty leery of government agents and agencies when they are looking to prosecute harshly in an effort to send a message to the rest of us. That is, quite baldly, a threat. Honestly, I don’t mind “We think it sends a real message” when it’s in the form of high explosives dropped in the laps of terrorists or long sentences doled out to murderers. This doesn’t quite qualify, though, does it?

It’s extremely rare to see a criminal prosecution like this (and remember that Snipes was acquitted of the harshest of the charges) and the prosecution admits to using Snipes’ celebrity to make a point to the rest of us--essentially delivering a different standard of justice to Snipes than I would have faced if I had made the same exceptionally bad decisions as the actor. It rankles when celebrities are given a free pass for stupid (and occasionally criminal) behavior; it’s no less wrong when celebrities are unfairly made into legal targets because of their social standing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Album Day (Or: Fighting the Power of My Damned, Evil MP3 Player)

My MP3 player (a second generation iPod Nano) has done good things for my music listening habits. On the positive side, in place of the stacks of CDs that I used to keep in my car and office, I now have a mini library of music wherever I go that I can easily change and which holds enough music to match nearly my many moods and tastes.

On the negative side, I rarely listen to albums anymore. Unless it’s a new purchase, my favorite tracks get picked and placed with others to create some wonderful mixes, but the cohesive pleasure of listening to a great album from front to back is mostly gone. So, today I’m reacquainting myself with my favorite albums while I’m working.

Not that I don’t enjoy the playlists that I create--because, I’m here to tell you, I am the playlist king--but I know that there are hundreds of songs that I haven’t listened to in some time because they don’t easily fit into any of the playlists that I make. Like Screaming Trees’ “Look at You” from the first album on my list, Dust. It’s a gorgeous love song, but I haven’t heard it in quite some time.

The point being, since I doubt that I’m alone in the near abandonment of listening regularly to albums, you’re invited to play along and rediscover your own favorite albums. If you do play along, though, I’d love it if you would let me know what you’re listening to--it might give me some ideas for my own rediscoveries.

First up for me, as I noted, is Dust--the Trees’ last album is a wonderful little rocker. Not great, perhaps, but with some brilliant moments.

Update: This is list of albums thus far.

  1. Dust, by Screaming Trees
  2. Consider the Birds by Woven Hand
  3. Definitive Collection, Disc 1, by Alan Parsons Project
  4. Pet Sounds by Beach Boys
  5. Sex, Love and Rock n’ Roll by Social Distortion
  6. Deliverance by Corrosion of Conformity
  7. Acadie by Daniel Lanois

And definitely look in the extended entry for some worthy suggestions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What am I Gonna Do?

To help the cause, I plan to petition MacDonalds to bring back the McDLT in the double-wide, non-biodegradable, ozone depleting styrofoam container. I aim to keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold.

God Bless the Porn

Update: Very kindly linked by Ted Bronson, who takes Broun to task in no uncertain terms. Rightly so.

I’m not a person who believes that there is anything wrong with a little healthy porn and, while I won’t be publishing pictures of nekkid ladies here on ResurrectionSong, I’ve seen a centerfold or two in my life. Which is why this bugs me no end:

Concerned that the military is selling pornography in exchange stores in spite of a ban, one lawmaker has introduced a bill to clean up the matter.

“Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit,” said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., unveiling his House bill April 16.

His Military Honor and Decency Act would amend a provision of the 1997 Defense Authorization Act that banned sales of “sexually explicit material” on military bases.

The new language would “close existing loopholes” in regulations to bring the military “into compliance with the intent of the 1997 law,” Broun said.

“Allowing sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes, feeding a base addiction, eroding the family as the primary building block of society, and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad,” Broun said.

Firstly, I’d like to see some proof of his assertions of harm. Second, it’s nice of him to be working so hard to be protecting Military Honor and Decency, but I’m thinking that our men and women in uniform do a pretty good job of that themselves. Third, if those men and women who are serving our country in various capacities throughout the world want to relax with a few aesthetically pleasing pictures of nekkid folks, is that really such a crime?

The answer is no, of course. It might be a sin (I’ll leave that up to individuals to decide), but it most certainly isn’t a crime.

So, Congressman Broun, perhaps you could find something better to do with your time. Might I suggest bowling?

With a tip of the hat to Stuttaford.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coming Back for More

I’ve been ridiculously busy these last few weeks between a Russian language publication, a few little freelance jobs, and my normal social and professional obligations. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t missed. Which won’t stop me from jumping back into the pool because, frankly, I need to get a few thoughts off my chest.

Like, who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to question the tax free pension a Vietnam vet gets from the many injuries that he sustained in service to our country? Most especially when those injuries came when he was tortured as a POW?

Apparently the LA Times thinks its a good idea when the vet in question is running for President of the United States. They think it’s a good idea to insinuate that either he doesn’t deserve it because he’s really not all that disabled or, if he was wounded so severely, then he might not be physically capable of serving as president.

The fact that he is legally designated with a disability pension may raise further questions.

“It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve,” said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.

If McCain can hike across the Grand Canyon, then why should he be getting disability payments from the government that are tax-exempt, Schriebman asked.

McCain shattered his knee and broke both arms when he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967.

In his autobiographies, McCain said that his knee still bothered him in cold weather and that he was unable to raise his hands above his shoulders.

See? Big fucking pool of stupid.

Firstly, he earned every penny of that pension in service to his country and I doubt very seriously that most Americans (we try to treat our vets well) will take the LA Times’ lead on this issue. I do not personally know the full extent of McCain’s injuries, but I do know that the military doesn’t just hand out 100%, tax free disabilities to everyone who gets a splinter. The injuries that he sustained had to have been severe.

Secondly, the office of the presidency is physically demanding--but not in the way that requires a guy who can run marathons in the morning before breakfast. As an example, and regardless of what anyone who thinks of FDR, he was exceptionally effective in acting as president with serious physical handicaps. I think McCain, even at his admittedly advanced age, can handle the stress.

And you know what else I don’t care about? His temper. I like that he gets pissed. I like that he isn’t always calm and level--there are things worth getting a little riled about.

As this political season continues (and, good Lord, can they possibly draw out the campaigning any longer? Will the next presidential campaign start before this one has even ended?) I find myself growing angrier. I’m tired of all the promises, the empty rhetoric, and the fact that none of the candidates will do the one thing that I really, really want: leave me the hell alone.

You know what else is making me cranky right now? Douglas Bruce is an ass, of that there is no doubt; but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have the right to finish his statements about immigrants and a guest worker program being debated. To be sure, a guest worker program designed to bring in agricultural workers from our neighbor to the south isn’t a program designed to bring in college educated, highly skilled workers with literary ambitions. Our need for a guest worker program, whichever side of the argument you might take, is well worth debating, and, regardless of his insensitive statements, Bruce has a right to take part in that debate.

State Representative Douglas Bruce made the remark during a debate on the Statehouse floor. Lawmakers had been discussing a bill designed to ease a shortage of farm workers in Colorado.

Bruce was ordered to leave the podium immediately after the remark. But he says he knew exactly what he was saying.

And, anyway, adult literacy rates in Mexico are quite high, though, so “illiterate peasants” may have been factually wrong.

It would appear that he won’t be censured for his words--which is as it should be. I understand why so many people are upset, but he didn’t do anything illegal or unethical. He was merely being a bit of a jerk. Voters have ways of dealing with bad, non-criminal behavior in their elected representatives. That is also as it should be.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Just a Little Random

12 is the Magic Number.
The Avs won the series 4-2 after scoring first in every game and only giving up a first period goal in one game. The Wild were often more aggressive--they pushed the play, the got shots on goal, they hit hard and often. But the Avs had better goaltending, made more of their scoring opportunities, blocked more shots, and never seemed to lose their composure--something that the Wild couldn’t say after racking up over 100 minutes of penalty time in game 4.

Great series. I hope the next one is just as exciting (and blessed with the same happy ending for Avs fans).

Congratulations to Danica.
It’s nice to see that she is both hot and talented. I’d been wondering a little about the talented part.

Danica Patrick became the first female winner in IndyCar history Sunday, taking the Indy Japan 300 after the top contenders were forced to pit for fuel in the final laps.

Patrick finished 5.8594 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Helio Castroneves on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval after leader Scott Dixon pitted with five laps left and Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan came in a lap later.

MacUpdate Promo looks pretty good.
For Mac OS X users, the MacUpdate promo looks like a better bundle of applications than the current MacHeist Bundle. Of course, that’s assuming that they reach the target sales goal and actually release all of the applications to they buyers. There are a few useful applications in it that I’d been thinking about buying, so I’ll be ponying up for the bundle.

Oprah is a pusher.
I try to stay nice on the subject of Oprah since there is much to admire. Her charities have done real good in the world, she’s risen to become one of the most powerful people in American entertainment, and the girl likes her enough to subscribe to her magazine. For that matter, she’s got all the business savvy that Donald Trump wishes he had--and he has the bankruptcy filings to prove it.

Anyway, where my admiration stops is right at the edge of her social and political commentary--commentary that leans less on thinking and more on feeling. That is doubly so when she’s pushing a self-help title of the nature of The Secret. Her new business venture with Eckhart Tolle, though, makes her seem more like a huckster than a reputable businessperson.

Disappointing isn’t a big enough word.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Interview (Updated)

It starts out with this:

So, judged by your resume, you do not appear to be a right-wing reactionary moonlighting as an oil company stooge. How did a good soldier in the fight for environmental justice wind up in the company of such personae non gratae in your chosen field?

Then it goes on to talk about climate change and the politics of denial.

It’s a quick read, and, while Lawrence Solomon comes off sounding a little brusque, it’s intriguing enough that I’ll be picking up his book, The Deniers.

Check it out.

Update: Craig (who has been writing up a freakin’ storm) pointed out an article that made me cranky. Surprised me a little bit, too.

Colorado Avalanche v/ Minnesota Wild: Game 5

Three of five games have gone into overtime. Colorado has scored the first goal in every game. Four out of five games ended with a 3-2 score. The Wild’s poor showing in game 4 notwithstanding--the only game where one team has really pushed around the other, and the only game where one team has almost completely lost its composure--the series between the Wild and the Avalanche has been a tremendously even match.

And Colorado is winning the series against the higher ranked Wild by 3-2 with the next game coming up here in Denver on Saturday. For fans of hockey, this has got to be the best series going right now.

The Wild seem to have a slightly stronger, slightly faster team, and most certainly a more physical style of play. The Avs have had outstanding goaltending from Jose Theodore, they’ve shown amazing depth in talent, and a gritty resilience that has served them well when the puck isn’t going their way. The players have made big plays when they need to with Sakic, Forsberg, Wolski, and Brunett all scoring 5 points in five games--and Milan Hejduk isn’t far behind with four points in those games. The Wild are proving to be a damned good team; the Avs are proving to be just a little bit better.

And I would love to know how many shots have been blocked by Avs defensemen.

That isn’t to say that the Avs will win the series. With games this tight, it could still go Minnesota’s way. What I can say, though, is that the moves that the Avs made in the last off-season and at the trade deadline this year have paid big dividends.

Darling girl still isn’t feeling the excitement, but for me this is one of the best times of the year. Especially when the Colorado Avalanche are making a return to the post-season form that made them such a powerful team in the nineties.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Here’s to the Responsible Ones

My buddy Mark called me a sucker the other day, and I couldn’t help but agree with him. See, girl and I would like to move into a new house, but the sad truth is that our current home would be near impossible to sell without losing money--significant amounts of money. But we aren’t going to abandon our house and we aren’t looking to the government to make our mortgage payments for us. We aren’t whining about not being able to make payments because she bought a place that wasn’t beyond her means, that didn’t have painful terms, and that didn’t require a lender to get playful in qualifying her.

All of which sounds pretty good (specifically, pretty responsible) to me. If the government goes on to bailout the idiots who signed loans for houses that they couldn’t afford and the companies who wrote those loans without much regard to buyers’ abilities to repay the loans, that’s a massive, tax-payer funded gift to the people who weren’t being responsible with their decisions. Which makes me--doing my best to do things the right way, yet potentially paying the way for those who weren’t so scrupulous--a sucker.

The markets don’t always choose right, I know, but tell me this doesn’t warm the cockles of your little capitalist heart.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. rallied Wednesday, gaining as first-quarter profit fell a smaller-than-forecast 11% amid signs that the lender employed relatively strict lending standards.

See, Wells Fargo apparently had responsible lending standards that minimized risk in the face of market downturns.

Indeed, Chief Executive John Stumpf said on a Wednesday morning conference call that the first quarter of 2008 “was one of the best we’ve ever had for our mortgage business”—a marked contrast to other banks beating a hasty retreat out of the mortgage market after a year full of billion-dollar write-downs.

Here’s to Wells Fargo for exhibiting fiscal responsibility and reaping the rewards.

Read the story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Sympathies

All I can do is offer my sympathies.

I don’t know why the decision went the way that it did, but I do know that it was a horrible decision.

I still owe you, buddy, but this doesn’t seem like the right time to write that particular post.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I’m Little Mr. Goody Two Shoes

People who know me in the real world--and my penchant for dropping the f-bomb with appalling regularity--will be shocked by this.

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

Of course, I consider the blog to be polite company--which means little to no cussing.

Of course, now I have this urge to write the most obscene post ever. Gosh dangit.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wild v/ Avalanche, Game 2: Just an Observation

I have no idea who will win this game or this series. These teams are remarkably well matched.

But…

Given the Christmasy red and green uniforms, does anyone else look at the Wild and see a bunch of angry elves on ice? Or is that just me?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Little Things Make Me Laugh.

And, no, that’s not what she said.

Anyway, a friend just sent me an email that cracked me up. I can’t attribute the thoughts to anyone in particular, but thought y’all might enjoy it, anyway.

The Constitution - They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq.  Why don’t we just give them ours?  It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and we’re not using it anymore.

The Ten Commandments - The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse is this: You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’, ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’, and ‘Thou Shalt Not Lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians.  It creates a hostile work environment.

Now, stop giggling and go back to work. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Go Avs!

Game 1 of the Wild - Avalanche series was a monster. It had big hits, amazing goaltending, beautiful shots, fast skating, a late penalty shot, and overtime. It also had, most importantly, a victory by the Colorado Avalanche in a very unfriendly building. Joe Sakic hit the game winner in overtime--which is about as right as a game can end.

Credit Jose Theodore for keeping the Avs in the game early--and to the whole team for playing an intense, exhilarating game.

It was physical, fast, and exciting as hell. This is going to be a great series. The Avs got the first win, but the Wild were solid all year and aren’t the kind of team that’s going to roll over and play dead.

The only bad part of the night was the injury--it looked like a concussion--to Wild player Mark Parrish who went hard into the boards and never got back into the game. Hope he’s okay and hope he’s back to play in the next game.

If you’re a hockey fan, this was amazing; if you’re not a hockey fan, this is the stuff that could convert you.

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