Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sick Bastard

Shooting up a Unitarian church in the name of demented Christian fundamentalism?

An unemployed truck driver seething over liberalism told police he opened fire in a church last year because it harbored gays and multiracial families and he hoped others would follow his example.

Prosecutors opened their case file Thursday on Jim David Adkisson, 58, who pleaded guilty a month ago to killing two people and wounding six others at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. The file includes interviews with investigators and a suicide note Adkisson left in his car.
“They just glory (in) these weirdos and sickos and homos,” he said in an interview recorded by investigators.

He also railed against the Unitarian Church: “That ain’t a church, that’s a damned cult,” Adkisson said.

The Knoxville church said in a statement Thursday that the congregation was still healing and that many hoped Adkisson would also “be healed of whatever motivated his actions.”

Adkisson walked into the church, pulled a sawed-off shotgun from a guitar case and fired into a congregation of about 230 people watching a children’s musical performance.

I suppose that’s Godly behavior if you’re an adherent of the Fred Phelps Church of the Inbred, Homophobic, Asshole, but for the rest of us it more resembles the real face of evil in the world.

Phelps, his followers, and bastards like Adkisson are going to have a lot to answer if God really does exist.

Read the story.

When Does it Start Getting Better? (Updated)

With all apologies to Perot, that huge sucking sound that you hear is tax money being sucked out of the next generation’s pockets to pay for our excesses. Which hardly seems like a fair trade, especially when the increasingly incomprehensibly-sized stimulus packages (tell me, seriously, can you even imagine one trillion dollars?) don’t seem to be having their desired effects.

Damit, I knew I left a definition of insanity here somewhere…

The prevailing belief in Majority Democratic Washington is that the way to improve the economy is not to increase production and productivity, but rather to borrow trillions out of the economy and let it trickle back in through government spending.

I’m starting to get the feeling that this is going to be a long and tiring four years--and hoping that Republicans can make strong inroads in the midterm elections.

Anyway, read the rest of that NRO post above. It has an interesting idea (a “zero cost” stimulus package) from a couple Republican representatives that has almost zero chance of being implemented. Instead we’ll get the big government double down that will put us even deeper in the hole.

Update: While my imagination may have come short, some folks have done a good job of explaining and showing us precisely what one trillion dollars might actually look like if it were converted into real money. Check it out. Thanks, Nathan!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol, March 11 2009: Who Does America Hate?

Well, to be honest, I’m not so fond of Kanye West, but that’s not going to tell us who got the boot this week, is it? And it won’t tell us the super-secret twist that they were all squirrelly about yesterday, either.

Luckily for us, the twist is the first thing they’re talking about, and it’s precisely what I thought it might be: a change to the way that eliminations work. This year, the judges can save one singer from elimination--it can happen only one time and it has to be unanimous. I think that the real effect of this rule change will be to minimize the effect of the wrong bettors--those folks who vote for losers in hopes of keeping the show more entertaining by lowering the level of talent. I don’t know how much of a factor that is in the show anymore since the kinds of geeks who enjoy that game have probably moved on to some other anti-social behavior.

(For the record, I’m frequently a wrong bettor when I play craps. I have no qualms with betting against the roller.)

I wish the judges could use their extra-magic vote to save me from the pain of the group singing. But it can’t…

Now, back to Survivor: Hollywood. Now, where the hell did I leave my torch?

Disappointing Aside: RSong is not the number one search result for “Scott Macintyre Art Garfunkel.” Which is terribly surprising.

Did America get it right?

Jasmine and Megan are the first duo to be punished by Ryan Seacrest’s slow reading skills. Megan stays, Jasmine goes, and America gets this choice right--unless the judges play spoiler. Unfortunately, this means another trip through her painful reading of “I’ll be There” complete with pitch problems and lackluster performance. Which they don’t. Which they won’t. Thank God.

I would like to know why America didn’t vote Kanye West off the show, though.

Disturbing Aside: Does anyone else get the feeling that the brownshirt revivalist Putin Youth don’t indicate a warm and loving relationship between Russia and, you know, the rest of the world? Because, no joke, this kind of stuff worries the hell out of me. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it…

Nashi ("Ours") is the “largest of a handful of youth movements created by Mr. Putin’s Kremlin to fight for the hearts and minds of Russia’s young people in schools, on the airwaves and, if necessary, on the streets,” according to the New York Times.

Yeah, scary monsters.

Anyway, back to Alexis, who happens to be on TV right now. Hubba and hubba again.

Anoop Dogg and Jorge are victim pair number two. I don’t actually remember anyone talking about Art Garfunkel’s kid, which just proves that I should probably be paying more attention.

Now, before the pain for the pained pair is over, Kelly Clarkson is singing something about “My Life Would Suck Without Booze,” which may not be the most poetic line, but it sounds sincere. What? Is that the sound of me projecting yet again?

Jorge goes home and Anoop gets the reprieve. I’m not sure that Anoop deserved it, but I’m not surprised, either. As I said, his cuddliness saved him. It’s a shame for Jorge, though.

And, now, let’s switch over to the Nuggets where Darling Girl is attending the game with a friend of ours while I spend some more quality time with Xcode--which, in my limited view of such things, is a wonderful programming environment. It’s almost making learning Objective C into something fun for me.


High Rollers

Will congress double down on a bad bet?

Seems like a bad idea to me. But, then, I wasn’t a big fan of the last big bet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ain’t Exactly True

A few days ago, I wrote the post about John Cramer, Guinness, and the fight against new taxes and bad economic policy. One of the friends of this blog (specific names are being left out of this as no permission was granted to share this conversation) wrote to one of his representatives about this very issue. What he received in response was a missive from la la land--a note about how even in these rough times a tax increase can be a necessary and good thing.

Before going forward, I have to say this unequivocally: in an economic climate like this, punishing the successful, the creative, the investors, and the very people and organizations that provide jobs and opportunities for Americans by raising their taxes is foolish. Raising taxes in ways that hurt the working class and limit their ability to make purchases is just as misguided. That some of the taxes that have been floated (especially raising or eliminating the Social Security tax cap) would move tremendous amounts of capital from the private sector to the US government to be used to offset the excesses of a dubious stimulus package makes me cringe. If the ultimate goal is to cripple the private sector, then this should definitely do the trick.

And that much of those tax increases are done for such high-minded reasons doesn’t change the fact that they will be harmful--and it irritates me that our elected officials continue to trot out one cause after another in an attempt to convince me that these things that will drag our economy down will actually act in some miraculous fashion to solve our current woes. They won’t, the money will be wasted, and the bureaucratic structures built to support the new and expanded programs will only suck more and more money out of the private sector, distort economic realities, and make it harder for companies (especially the small companies) to do business. None of that is good for jobs or our current crop of economic failures.

What we are talking about here--a small, new tax on alcohol--isn’t big in the context of our larger economic problems or even in the context of most states’ budgetary shortfalls. It feels like a little thing, but in taxes and budgets, a bunch of little things sooner or later add up to some really big numbers. In this case, those numbers just mean more drag on the economy and the possibility of job losses and failing businesses.

So when Mr. Representative trots out the public good by noting that the state pays for the sins of alcohol consumption and that new taxes will help defray those costs, I find myself feeling that little itch behind my ears that tells me that someone’s lying.

For instance, the Guinness site notes--and, in a depressing display of cynicism, I do believe the Guinness site to be a touch more honest than the typical US Senator or Representative--that taxes on beer and wine currently amount to 41% of the beverage’s retail price and that 59% of the cost of spirits (that booze to you and me) is in taxes. That figure on spirits is roughly supported by this article from US News & World Report, and my guess is that unraveling the trail of fees and taxes on every barrel, bottle, or glass of booze would be a tricky task, indeed. Point being, though, that I think most people would agree that if a compensatory tax were needed for losses incurred by government agencies for their constituents’ overindulgince in alcohol, that tax is already being paid.

Alcohol, like cigarettes, is a great target of opportunity, though. It’s easy to demonize and some puritanical folks are more than willing to buy into any argument that starts with, “Let’s talk about the evils of alcohol...” Unfortunately for the taxers, the public attitude towards drinking isn’t nearly as solidified as the public attitude towards Big Tobacco and recent attempts to raise taxes on alcohol continue to fail. Americans, bless us, still love to tip the bottle on occasion and don’t see the need to make the cost of our drinking any more onerous that it might already be.

So, no, sir, no new taxes for us.

I will, however, say that this particular representative deserves some level of credit for his response. My own emails and letters to my senators and representatives are rarely answered by anything other than form letters or form emails. Sometimes they even ignore in totality the subject of my letters. This gentleman not only answered the substance of the original message, but he gave his phone number in return and gave a reason (a reason I didn’t like, admittedly, but a reason) for his support of those new taxes. Good for him for at least engaging his constituents instead of simply ignoring the stuff he doesn’t like.

H/T to The Source

American Idol, March 10 2009: I’ve Totally Lost That Loving Feeling

The Top 13 (aka, The Odd Mix of Nearly Worthy and Potentially Marketable Singing Hopefuls), will now plead their case to the people of America. “Please let me be a millionaire,” they say, “Please love me.”

I don’t. Not mostly, anyway. There are a handful of these folks who I think have the potential to hold my attention for more than a few minutes at a time. Unfortunately, with the theme tonight--the music of Michael Jackson--I wonder if the group will be able to hold my attention for the whole evening.

Not that I would be opposed to hearing the long version of “Thriller.” ‘Cause that was kind of awesome.

Lil Rounds, who sounds like the rejected and rotund character from a James Bond movie, decided to sing “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Which I hate. Of course, the number of Michael Jackson songs that I like could probably be counted on one hand with a few fingers left over for happy fun gesturing. Lil sounds fine, although the backup singers are doing what they can to undermine the song with a tissue-thin performance. It’s a good start to the show--her performance is strong, she held the audience, and she sang well. The judges, of course, love her like Fat Bastard loves KFC. Nicely done, although Paula heard angels at some point during the performance and makes us all wonder, once again, precisely what kind of drugs she’s mixing with her vodka. Simon reality checks the horrid outfit.

Can Scott “Art Garfunkel” Macintyre sing well enough to warrant his place in the show? I don’t think so unless you happen to be looking for the next light rock contemporary Christian pop star. Which I’m not. “Keep the Faith"--a song that I don’t know--is a good fit for his ambitions if they do happen to be somewhere down that particular path, though. The audience loves him with the love of a thousand sexless pre-teen idiots. The judges love him for his magical instrument. Or maybe that was just Paula. She has a strong love of many folks’ instruments, though. Simon says an accidental truth: “It’s fine being artistic, just not on this show.”

Good Lord, that might be more honesty than people can handle.

Randy thought it was good but not great. Which seems fair.

It would take a massive effort of will to dislike Danny Gokey. “PYT.” Good God, this is like slow torture for me. On the good side, Danny actually attacks the song with vigor and his surprisingly gruff voice. I still don’t like the song, but I still do like him, and I don’t mind so much when he sings it--and Darling Girl has a strange crush on him. Paula tells him, almost tearfully, to take it all in. I’m not sure what “it” is, but she’s very excited. Simon digs him with mad man love for his vocals, but things the overexcited dancing was hideous. Randy loved him even more. And Paula 2 (who, yeah, I know) says something, too. Which I ignore because I’m still trying to figure out if I should be jealous about Darling G’s newest love.

Michael Sarver, the nation’s favorite roughneck, is likable as hell, too. Michael Jackson wouldn’t seem like a natural fit for this guy, but he does the song ("You Are Not Alone") with something resembling not too horrible. Pitchy at points, not perfect, but not horrible, either. One of the “big” moments was almost painful, but the beginning was actually kind of pretty. Simon is right, he’s not even close to the best singer in the group. The judges are kind to him, but maybe more than he deserves. Randy called him one of the best of the night which simply isn’t true.

Still like the guy, though, and hope he sticks around for a bit.

Can Jasmine Murray stay in the show? She’s one of the folks who didn’t deserve the trip, so I’m rather hoping she doesn’t. And her performance tonight--all pitch problems and lackluster performance--doesn’t do much to change my mind. She has a potentially pretty voice, but her control isn’t quite there. She could use a few years of practice to smooth out the rough bits before being sold to the public. Paula actually said something smart with her faint praise and Simon’s lukewarm response is spot on. I really don’t think she’s worth the roster spot.

Useless Aside: Because I happen to love Nathan Fillion, I watched last night’s premier of Castle, and thought it was funny as hell. He’s got the rogue persona down to an art form and his relationship with both the detective and with his daughter made it a fun ride. Hope is sticks around longer than Firefly.

Kris Allen still seems like an afterthought to me. Marginally competent, reasonably cute, and hardly worth the pixels it will take to write this sentence. As I said last week: whatever. There is no doubt that the audience like him, though, in a big, bad, ugly way. Kara (okay, fine, I’ll use her real name) wants us to love him as much as she does, Paula says something horribly confusing, Simon gives him a mediocre review, and Randy gets all tongue tied in his short response. If I were cynical--and I am--I would say that they want the guy on the show purely because they feel that he has the potential to be a big seller of musical pablum to the pre-teen market.

There’s a little more talent and something to be found in Alison Iraheta, and it doesn’t hurt that she chooses a song that I’ve never heard. The sixteen year old digs into the song with her coarse voice and doesn’t once let a person like me think that this song has anything at all to do with Michael Jackson. She looks like a refugee from the eighties in her Pat Benatar gear, but that just means she’ll sell well to Reagan-era nostalgics like me.

The judges like her, too, although I don’t listen to them because Darling Girl has just make white chocolate, macadamia nut cookies. Which smell awesome.

Anoop Dogg barely deserved his place on the show, although I won’t complain too much since DG thinks he’s second only to Danny in the all-important likability department. I, of course, like that he and his parents embody the immigrant’s dream of America and because he chose “Beat It.” Hell, he even started with that little not-so-animalistic grunts like Michael Jackson did in the original. Which, I’m sure makes him all the more cute to the girls.

For that matter, he seems about as tough as MJ, too. The only thing that was missing was dancing, pimped out gang members to really bring out the campy fun of the original. Because, let’s be honest, there’s not much funnier than MJ playing the part of a badass.

The vocals may not have been the most original, but it was fun. Paula thinks it was a little worse than that. Simon breaks out the “k” word and says it was a little stupid--a bad impersonation of MJ. Randy hits him hard, too, for the lack of originality. Kara agrees, too. Simon goes so far as to say that he regrets making Anoop the extra contestant.

Ouch. Anoop Dogg could be in trouble, but I imagine that his basic, cuddly core will save the day.

Jorge Nuñez surprises me every time I hear his voice, and I mean that in a reasonably good way. Which isn’t to say that I would be buying one of his albums, but I think he’s a good bit better than a few of the others on the show and is a solid performer. I don’t think he can win the show, but he’s solid. The judges aren’t digging him tonight, though, even to the point that Paula broke out the not-quite-niceness and Simon said he was “corny and out of his depth.” Ouch.

Apparently I’m wrong about this one…

She’s adorable and she dances funny, but damned if I don’t have serious love for Megan. “Rockin’ Robin” might have been a horrible song choice, but she’s cute, she’s lively, she can sing, she’s playful, and she’s not afraid to be goofy in public. And, again, I dig the ink. Simon didn’t like it although he still wants to do naughty things to her.

I might have been projecting a bit there, so, yeah, sorry about that…

I think it was a bad song choice, too, but don’t care because I’m still thinking about voting for her.

I really like Adam Lambert most of the time, but I’m not sure about him tonight. His voice is still one of the standouts and he seems more comfortable in front of the audience than nearly any of the rest. But he seems even more effeminate than Michael Jackson, which is impressive. Paula makes him cry. Well, almost, anyway. The judges very obviously want him to have a good shot at winning, which I understand since this guy is ready to be packaged and sold.

Am I officially done with the show for the night? Do I even care what Matt Giraud does? I was hoping to maintain focus until Alexis showed up, but I’m already starting to feel it slipping away…

I like Alexis Grace’s voice and hope that she’ll be in the show ‘til close to the end. “Dirty Dianna” seems an odd choice at first, but damned if she doesn’t kick it out with aggressive vocals and a sexy performance. Kara says she’s a “naughty girl and I liked it.” Which might be what I was thinking, too--and which might lead to a less-than-critical eye (and ear) on her performance.

Whew. That was a long show.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Calling the Geek Hordes

I’ve just watched Steve Wozniak on Dancing with the Stars--and it was pretty much like my own stumbling dance moves. There wasn’t much pretty about it, but the Woz had a great attitude, put forth 100% effort, and looked like he was having a great time. And the entertainment value of having Woz on Dancing with the Stars is undeniable--far more valuable than watching an aging Denise Richards tearing up over imagined offenses--so, geek hordes, call and vote for the big guy.

For the Record, The Very Mildly Cranky Edition

Spring forward sucks.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guinness and Jim Cramer are Singing the Same Song (At Least for Now)

As most of you know--you’ve seen the video, I’m sure--Jim Cramer had harsh words for the White House and Obama’s decisions on the economy and how those decisions are destroying wealth in the nation. I’d say that’s undeniable: from a collapse in the stock market and housing prices that could take decades to recover and the very real possibility of inflation around the corner that will render even conservative savers’ nest eggs with tremendously less real buying power than they had just a few years ago, the wealth of millions of Americans has been brutally depleted over the last few months. These are simple facts and one wouldn’t think that they would invite much of a serious rebuttal.

The White House, though, did what it could to diminish Cramer’s words--the words of a man who has admitted to voting for Obama, for believing in Obama’s overall agenda, and for having donated money to Democratic causes in the past. In fact, in no way is Cramer removing himself from the left, but embracing a more measured approach than the administration’s headlong rush to implement sweeping changes on a very short schedule.

“I’m not entirely sure what he’s pointing to to make some of the statements,” Gibbs said about my point that President Obama’s budget may be one of the great wealth destroyers of all time. “And you can go back and look at any number of statements he’s made in the past about the economy and wonder where some of the backup for those are, too.”

Huh? Backup? Look at the incredible decline in the stock market, in all indices, since the inauguration of the president, with the drop accelerating when the budget plan came to light because of the massive fear and indecision the document sowed: Raising taxes on the eve of what could be a second Great Depression, destroying the profits in healthcare companies (one of the few areas still robust in the economy), tinkering with the mortgage deduction at a time when U.S. house price depreciation is behind much of the world’s morass and certainly the devastation affecting our banks, and pushing an aggressive cap and trade program that could raise the price of energy for millions of people.

The market’s the effect; much of what the president is fighting for is the cause. The market’s signal can’t be ignored. It’s too palpable, too predictive to be ignored, despite the prattle that the market’s predicted far more recessions than we have.

[...]Obama has undeniably made things worse by creating an atmosphere of fear and panic rather than an atmosphere of calm and hope. He’s done it by pushing a huge amount of change at a very perilous moment, by seeking to demonize the entire banking system and by raising taxes for those making more than $250,000 at the exact time when we need them to spend and build new businesses, and by revoking deductions for funds to charity that help eliminate the excess supply of homes.

We had a banking crisis coming into this regime, but now every area is in crisis. Each day is worse than the previous one for this miserable economy and while Obama’s champions cite the stimulus plan, it’s really just a hodgepodge of old Democratic pork and will not create nearly as many manufacturing or service jobs as we hoped. China’s stimulus plan is the model; ours is the parody.

Cramer sounds like he’s speaking sense to me. He has a clear-eyed view of the state of our economy and it doesn’t take a prophet to see the damage coming from some of the misguided policy and tax choices Obama’s administration is working to implement. Cramer is speaking good sense.

And he continues to make sense even when he’s championing things that I would fight in the future:

To be totally out of the closet, I actually embrace every part of Obama’s agenda, right down to the increase on personal taxes and the mortgage deduction. I am a fierce environmentalist who has donated multiple acres to the state of New Jersey to keep forever wild. I believe in cap and trade. I favor playing hardball with drug companies that hold up the U.S. government with me-too products.
But these are issues that we have no time for now, on the verge of a second Great Depression. This is an agenda that must be held back for better times. It is an agenda that at this moment is radical vs. what is called for.

Some of the arguments we have--we on the right with you on the left--can come later when the country is healthy again. Some of those arguments (about what constitutes a “fair” tax rate for whatever passes as wealthy, for example) are luxuries that we can’t afford when we’re just trying to pay the bills. Increasing taxes on the individuals and companies that keep the rest of us employed and paying our bills isn’t going to help. Increasing taxes on the folks who can invest in the new businesses, products, and ideas that fuel our economy isn’t going to help. Huge spending plans that don’t address the real needs of the country--filled with ridiculous earmarks from both parties--are luxuries that we can’t afford when we need to recover a safe climate for businesses to grow and for jobs to be created. Cramer understands that and vows to fight back against the Democrats when their policies will take our country in the wrong direction.

[Would it, then, be safe to say that he hopes that Obama fails in implementing those harmful policies? Or would that be painting him with too Limbaughian of a brush?]

It’s not just Cramer, though. Obviously, investors have no faith that Obama’s plans will create a secure environment for business to flourish. The market’s fall is broken by only occasional spots where bargain seekers buy in and quickly sell off--that downward trend is astonishing. Terrifying.

Which brings me to the Guinness. I like Guinness; it’s tasty beer. I’m on a mailing list where Guinness sends me notes about upcoming boozing events and opportunities to try some of the other alcoholic beverages produced or imported by Diagio North America. I mostly ignore these invitations because, frankly, I don’t need anyone encouraging me to drink. I do just fine on my own. Today’s message caught my eye, though: Guinness Needs Your Help.

God knows I’m willing to help Guinness in a time of need. Here’s what they had to say:

Hi Zombyboy,

As someone who enjoys great brands such as Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard or Sterling Vineyards wines, you are a member of the Diageo family. As a member of our family, you need to be aware that in the coming months, lawmakers will be proposing tax increases that will put jobs in your community at risk and raise the cost of your favorite drink.

There’s a real price to pay when elected officials misguidedly try to replenish state budgets with regressive taxes that will hit us at a time when we are already being hit hard enough economically. These taxes will cause people like bartenders, waiters, waitresses and other folks who work hard every day in our community restaurants and hotels to lose their jobs. In fact, the last time they raised taxes on alcohol, $1.3 billion in wages were lost, while 98,000 people found themselves out of work.

Hardly sounds fair, does it?

It’s time to SAY NO to higher taxes that will put jobs at risk and raise prices on the people who can afford it the least. CLICK HERE to join the fight against irresponsible and regressive taxes.

Together, we can protect our jobs, our livelihoods, and the right to responsibly enjoy a drink.


Guy L. Smith
Executive Vice President
Diageo North America

This is all in support of AxeTaxesNotJobs.com--an effort by Diageo to encourage people to contact their representatives and ask that they act responsibly to help right America’s economy. I doubt very seriously that Diageo wants to be seen as a politically activist company in much the same way that I doubt that Cramer wants to be seen as someone fighting against a popular president or the long-term agenda that he actually believes in. But both are being moved by circumstance to actions that they wouldn’t normally take: standing athwart bad economic policies yelling, “Stop!”

A crisis like this is bound to make some strange bedfellows. An painful economic crisis has--through what can only be seen as poor leadership and shortsighted policies in our political class, but especially in our White House--become something much worse: the potential for a second Great Depression. The potential for crippling unemployment and economic implosion. Good policies can help us avoid that fate, but bad policies--those that Cramer and Guinness fight against and that Limbaugh hopes will fail--will push us right down that hole.

These are scary times and we all need to do what we can to head off a complete economic disaster. We can get back to arguing over the other stuff later.

Since I have borrowed so liberally from Cramer (and please do read the whole thing--it’s insightful stuff), I am going to dip into the well once more to give a good leftist the last word and to encourage you to add your voice to his:

So I will fight the fight against that agenda. I will stand up for what I believe and for what I have always believed: Every person has a right to be rich in this country and I want to help them get there. And when they get there, if times are good, we can have them give back or pay higher taxes. Until they get there, I don’t want them shackled or scared or paralyzed. That’s what I see now.

If that makes me an enemy of the White House, then call me a general of an army that Obama may not even know exists—tens of millions of people who live in fear of having no money saved when they need it and who get poorer by the day.

Read the rest of Jim Cramer’s article.

Because I Need to Remind Myself Occasionally…

Even on a day like today, when I’m in the mood that I’m in, and when the world seems to have gone absolutely insane, there is beauty.

Which is a really good reason to keep “Film is Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny” on the RSS reader.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Some Call it a Miracle. But Not in a Good Way.

Aston Martin makes a car that I don’t want.

I never thought it could happen; every Aston Martin that I’ve ever seen is a car that I want to drive or want to own. Every single one of them right up until now.

Aston Martin’s newest Lagonda, a resurrected name for a strange and awkward crossover vehicle, is blunt, ungainly, and unattractive. It is, in fact, the anti-Aston.

American Idol, March 4 2009: Someone’s Crying

Okay, so did America choose right? In putting Lil Rounds through to the next round, that’s a certainty. In fact, that makes it a good start to the night.

And in rejecting Arianna, they continued a good trend. It’s a shame for the kid, but she’ll be able to come back in the future when she’s better prepared. Taylor could have gone through and it wouldn’t have upset me in any big way, but she was most certainly not a standout--she was merely serviceable. Which was still better than most folks, but not particularly inspirational.

Alex Wagner-Trugman didn’t deserve a trip through, either, and I don’t think he needs to keep trying this particular career path. Nice kid, but I don’t see this being his future.

Now, America got it wrong when Scott MacIntyre was sent through. He simply wasn’t one of the best last night and it means that one of the other two worthy performances will miss out on this opportunity. I expected it, though, when the judges were so effusive with their praise. I feel a bit of a jerk for saying it, but as nice a guy and as great a story as it is, he just ain’t that good.

I was happy seeing Nathaniel and Kristen both going home. Neither of them performed well last night and neither of them deserved to continue.

Same could be said for Von Smith and Felicia, although I can’t help but think that Felicia has potential.

The bad thing is that I had hoped that both Jorge and Ju’not would be going through--I thought that both of them deserved to go through. I thought that both of them were significantly better than MacIntyre and both of them had a better chance of winning the show. I won’t complain that Jorge made it through; of the two he was at least fractionally better. But damned if Ju’not didn’t deserve to keep going tonight.

SAmerica gets it two-thirds right, which is about all you can expect when you consider how many Milli Vanilli and New Kids on the Block albums have been sold in this country (and that’s not even factoring in the unfathomable continuing popularity of “Rock Lobster").

So, yeah, about that wild card round…

Your competitors will be:

Von Smith? Wow. What a mediocre choice.

Jasmine Murray. Good call.

Ricky Braddy. Honestly, I don’t even remember the guy.

Megan Joy Corkrey. Which doesn’t hurt my feelings any. At all.

Tatiana. Freakin’ whores. Idiot whores. Bastards. I hate you, American Idol. What a fucking joke.

Matt Giraud. What the hell ever. Tatiana?

Jesse Langseth. This is actually a really good choice and I think she has a great chance of going through. But, still, screw you, American Idol.

Anoop Desai. I wouldn’t have chosen him, but it will make my girlfriend happy.

I still think that Ju’not, at very least, deserved the shot over a handful of these folks.

I Don’t Get It, Part 2

What the hell is wrong with these folks?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Idol, March 3 2009: The Does it Get Better Than Last Week Edition?

Von Smith: Carefully not yelling, he seems like an awfully nice guy. As girl says, I wish he were a better singer, though. Yelling or not, this kid really isn’t worth noticing for anything other than his pleasant personality and giant, gaping mouth. Seriously, when he really opens that thing up, he looks like a freakin’ mutant. Whateverish regardless of what the judges thought. SImon says the guy reminds him of Clay Aiken, which I can’t think of as a particularly wonderful thing.

And we already have our first commercial break…

Taylor Vaifanua: Hey, that dress makes her look pregnant and those shiny pants make her look like she’s wearing shiny pants. Which is a poor combination. She sounds decent enough, though, which is probably more than good enough to get through to the next round if the competition from the last few weeks is any indicator. The judges don’t like her so much, though, which I can’t completely blame them for, but it confuses me as to why they liked karaoke singer number one so much.

Alex Wagner-Trugman: The dorky one has been bulking up with very short sets of low weight. Funny guy--something about him strikes me as much smarter than most of the other contestants. I dig Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues”, but brings a little too much of a high school vibe and a tendency to oversing. It’s a strange combination of an undertalented guy overreaching in a big way. I have a hard time seeing this guy going through. The judges aren’t overly kind, either.

Ariana Afsar: What is it with the tough-to-type names this year? I mean, why isn’t there a Dave Jones or something easy? This youngster singing “Winner Take All,” one of Abba’s many hits, just makes me giggle. It doesn’t have to suck, but it does. I mean, she has a decent enough voice, the song could have been good for her, but she does a horrible job of singing the song, tries to stylize it a bit too much, and somehow managed to get out of time with the band. Not good at all. Worst of the night.

Darling girl asks, “Where are the vocal coaches? Seventeen year olds need vocal coaches.” Yeah, someone should have stopped her from this misstep.

Useless Aside: I’ve come to the conclusion that our dog, sweet and cute as she is, is both lazy and insubordinate.

Ju’not Joyner: He had one of the cutest little kids that we’ve ever seen on this show, so he obviously deserved to go through. Or something like that. “Hey There Delilah” isn’t one of my favorite songs, but I like it when he sings it. It isn’t nearly as whiny and stalkerish when he’s singing it. He isn’t a great singer, so there are a few rough spots, but it’s still a sweet little song and one of the only decent moments of the night thus far. I do wish he were just a bit of a better singer, though. The judges like him and I think the voters will, too.

Kristen MacNamara: The karaoke host seems to be running a serious brain deficit. Hasn’t Obama set forth a stimulus package for people like her? Unfortunately she’s a decent singer in a goofy, lounge act, over-done karaoke way. Which is to say I just don’t dig her singing (not her voice, but her singing) and she’ll probably be around for a while. The judges are a bit iffy on her, though, which gives me some hope for a Kristen MacNamara-free future.

Nathaniel Marshall: Too much crying, too many headbands, too much drama queen. I want him to go away purely because his personality is hideous. Choosing a Meatloaf song is kind of ballsy, though, so I have to give credit for the gutsy maneuver. Notably, I wouldn’t do anything for love, but I’d probably do that. Who knows? He actually sounds pretty good, though.

Darling girl believes that he has the gay vote, the drama queen vote, but not the hysterical pre-teen vote or the “wish he was my gay best friend” vote. According to her he isn’t cool enough of cute enough to pull in all of those crucial demographics. I think she’s probably right.

My Blog Aside: I’m a first page search result for “Government involvement/baking collapsed.” Because, apparently, ResurrectionSong is a repository of knowledge about the terrors of half-baked, government-sponsored brownies.

Felicia Barton: She’s cute. Really cute. She has a good voice, although maybe not quite as good as she thinks because parts of Alicia Keye’s song “No One” come out well and other bits come out just this side of painful. It was an uneven performance. Judges were mostly positive.

Darling girl thinks that this might be Paula’s One True Disciple.

Scott McIntyre: He does a kick-ass Art Garfunkel impression (that’s a visual thing not a vocal thing). Anyway, he has an inoffensive voice for the most part, but he sounds all sorts of bad tonight. Off key, breathless, pushing--man, I’d rather listen to Bruce Hornsby. I honestly think that the judges are being nice to him because having a blind guy make it a through will be good for ratings; that’s the only reason I can think that they weren’t far more critical of his pitiful performance. He seems a nice enough guy, but that was quite bad.

Shocking Aside: Speaking of the dog, she doesn’t like Tuvan throat singing. At least, she doesn’t like it when I’m the one doing the Tuvan throat singing. Weird dog.

Other Reality TV Aside: Jason Mesnick, that guy from The Bachelor is a real dick. Of course, the show is a bundle of idiocy, but still…

Kendall Beard: Who the heck are you and why should I care? Okay, so she’s pleasingly cute, she doesn’t sing in a horrifically bad manner, and she seems a decent enough sort. But I’m bored now. Quite bored.

Jorge Nuñez: Jorge was good--big voice, big personality, and totally not my style. Which isn’t a knock against him, just noting the fact. The judges like him, too, especially Paula who loves him with the love of a thousand mindless drones. If he doesn’t go through it’s solely because America is filled with racists.

Or something of that nature.

Lil Rounds: Okay, that was nice, even after adjusting for the goofy name and the yelly bit at the end. Yeah, if America doesn’t vote for Rounds it’s solely because America’s tweenagers are racists.

Or something of that nature.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Broncos Who Need to Grow Up a Bit: Quarterback Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler needs to grow up a little.

Football is a business and sometimes people get traded--especially when there are sweeping changes in coaching staff, systems, and personnel. Acting as if he’s untouchable, as if the world revolves around him and his still-uneven skills, is just another sign of the kind of immaturity that is unlikely to lead to a championship ring in the near future.

Cutler told The Post he feels his relationship with McDaniels has “taken a few steps backward.”

“I don’t know if the relationship is irreconcilably broken,” Cook said. “But I know that as much as he’s meant to the organization and that ballclub, if there were attempts to trade him, then I think Jay Cutler is 100 percent right to be more than just a little bit miffed.”

Cutler is 17-20 with no playoff appearances since supplanting Jake Plummer late in the 2006 season, and he’s known for his petulant, moody personality in his dealings with teammates and the media alike.

“There’s an awful lot of smoke for there not to be a fire,” Cook said. “If they were in fact trying to trade Jay Cutler, then I think that’s a situation that’s going to cause a very serious problem for the organization.

“If they weren’t, maybe he forgives and forgets. But if they were, that’s going to be a very difficult situation to repair.”

He’s a quarterback with tremendous potential, but he really needs to understand his role in the organization--that of a highly skilled, important, and valued employee who can either be a leader of men or a petulant boy when things don’t go his way--so that he can become a more productive member. I love watching him play and I still think he has the skill to bring the Broncos to a championship some day, but more and more I find myself wondering if he’s really just a Jeff George-like figure that will be mostly forgotten when his career has ended.

NFL careers are short. Even the long tenures don’t often have more than a few close brushes with national championships (which is one of the reasons I still marvel at John Elway’s five Super Bowl starts), and if Cutler can’t find a way to start leading his team to playoffs, the truth is that the team might be better off with someone who shows less physical talent and more leadership ability.

Just sayin’.

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