Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Here’s wishing you and yours all the best in 2010. May you find happiness, health, and opportunity.

For the curious, blogging resumes next week. For the incurious, well, it still resumes next week, but you probably won’t much notice.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flashes of Zomby: 2009 Had Great Music, Pt 1

Joe Henry’s thrillingly good, Blood from Stars, probably went unnoticed by, well, nearly everyone. It shouldn’t have; it’s an eclectic romp that touches on so many styles and themes that it’s hard to describe. What sticks, though, is the poetry of his lyrics as they twist through little stories.

A wonderfully talented artist.

Flashes of Zomby: Adults in the White House Edition

I miss Ronald Reagan. I miss a seriousness of purpose that doesn’t seem to me to be a put-on. I miss, as Driscoll notes, a President who quotes Chesterton.

If I may, Chesterton has another quote that might well fit our day: “We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera.”

Since I can’t really help myself, I have to add one more. You might find this timely as well: “When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.”

Flashes of Zomby: The Ben Nelson Edition

Quit kicking the dog, indeed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Flashes of Zomby: The Bad Holiday Music Edition

What the hell was Neil Diamond thinking with “Cherry Cherry Christmas?” That, in all its self-referential glory, may well be the worst, the cheesiest, and the most painful of all contrived Christmas pop songs.

I’d much rather listen to Bill Nighy (as the hilarious aging rock star, Billy Mack in the movie Love Actually) singing his “festering turd of a record.” For those who haven’t seen it, in a desperate attempt to make a little more money and get his name back in the headlines, Billy Mack records a version of “Love is All Around” that is written specially for Christmas. Even Mack can’t like it, but his refreshing honesty strikes a chord with listeners and he ends up being the number one Christmas album of the season. Fun stuff.

But I doubt that Neil will have the guts to tell us that his own stunt-record to look to the camera and say, “This is shit, isn’t it?”

Yes, yes, Mr. Nighy, it is shit. But it’s still better than “Cherry Cherry Christmas.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So You THink You Can Dance Meets Avatar: The, Damnit, I’m Trying to be Nice Edition (Updated)

The polite view--and, I’m really trying to be polite here--of the singing of the Avatar theme song (I’m not sure if that’s the actual name of the song* or not, but roll with me)--is that:

A- The songwriter was having an off however the hell long it took for him or her to write the song.

B- The singer was had a cold and it made her sound like a sniffly walrus.

C- The seamstress was a blind charity case with substance abuse issues.

Because, to be honest, that dress was the best part of the worst performance of a hideous song that I’ve seen on national TV since William Hung had his too many minutes of entirely unearned fame.

* And, since I can’t help myself, that would be Leona Lewis singing “I See You.” Which does nothing to change my opinion of the song or the performance. I sounded like someone wanted to almost re-write that painfully irritating Celine Dion song from Titanic,** but both song and singer were lesser talents.

** “My Heart Will Go On.” And, yes, I had to look that up, too. God, I’m pathetic. I even listened to the thing to make sure it was the song I was thinking of. People, I torture myself for your enlightenment. And I’m not talking any wussy waterboarding, here, I’m talking listening to freakin’ Celine Dion. Thank yous in the form of cash are entirely acceptable.

Update: Why does Adam Lambert have a giant poopy on his shoulder? His song, aside from being less nauseating than “I See You,” was so blandly pedestrian as to make me wish for more boy-on-boy smooching and assorted, simulated naughtiness. At least he was interesting when he was being offensive.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Okay, One Other Thing: Senator Lieberman, Litmus Tests, and the Occasional Reference to Nazism

Does anyone else find it irritating (or funny--I can’t really decide) to think that Sen. Lieberman may well get what he wants and the Democrat’s health care reform plan may well go forward. And then Republicans will be just as mad at Joe as the Democrats are right now.

I like Joe and have often thought of him as one of the more principled politicians in DC. That might seem like a low bar or a backhanded compliment, but it’s not; I like Joe. But…

Joe isn’t a Republican, Joe isn’t a small government guy, and Joe will get behind reform that most Republicans and conservatives won’t necessarily right. He is a truly moderate Democrat--seemingly rare these days--and regardless of his official party affiliation, a Democrat he will always remain. If the Dem leadership strips away enough of the big, new stuff, Joe may well sign off. The danger for us on the right isn’t just that the reforms won’t be the ones that we want, but that it will be the foot in the door for the reforms that the progressive really do want. A first step on the long path to a single payer, fully socialized health care system that most on the right consider both morally and fiscally unacceptable.

My friends on the left might wonder at that “moral” bit, but, trust me, for folks on the right it is a moral question as much as anything else. It’s just a different moral question than y’all might ask.

Anyway, we’re singing Joe’s praises right now, but he may well be our Brutus. If so, I hope that we treat him with a little more respect than his former allies on the left who were mocking Republicans for the very suggestion that there should be a litmus test for accepting party money, but who turned on Joe like rabid chipmunks (irritating, but not quite fatal) when he refused to hold the line on some of their favored plans. The value of a Republican litmus test is worthy of debate, but the claim that Republicans are using Nazi tactics is purely disgusting.

From that link, we get this little gem:

The last time we saw a political party demand ideological purity was Berlin 1933. It did not end well.

Firstly, his analysis and comparison is suspect. Secondly, if the Democrats don’t demand ideological purity, someone explain to me what happened to Joe Lieberman the last time he was up for election and what is happening to Joe now that he isn’t falling in lock-step with the folks who stabbed him in the back to begin with. The demand for loyalty from a politician that they’ve been kicking around in really nasty ways for the last few years is a little confusing.

“The Christmas Song,” Raveonettes and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Scott Weiland

If you’ve never heard the Raveonettes, you’re missing a treat. Think fifties pop rock with a little Jesus & Mary Chain and a latter-day punk aesthetic--and, in this case, singing a Christmas tune. And if you like this one, check out their romping fun tune, “Beat City,” which is all sorts of socially unacceptable at loud volumes.

Scott Weiland is also all sorts of socially unacceptable. His drug problems probably keep him off the really good Christmas party lists because, let’s be honest, no one wants to invite the guy who ends up peeing on the fake tree in the corner. Aside from that, though, there’s the fact that Stone Temple Pilots sort of sucked. Still, he sounds almost pretty singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and he just barely earns himself a mention on my rather random list of Christmas tunes.

Now, if you want something more substantial, you’ll have to check out my comment on Ed Driscoll’s site. I’m getting ready to start my new job tomorrow (and, yes, I’m here in Irwindale wishing I’d brought more clothes) and that’s all the room I have for the world of blogginess tonight.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiger Woods and Gatorade’s Missed Advertising Opportunity

Tiger Woods - Proposed Gatorade Ad

And you thought I was going to skip the Tiger Woods scandal.


Update: Okay, at least Sama thought it was funny. (And, yes, that was the sound of me whining. Irritating, isn’t it?)

Update II: More Twittering love from Mr. Lady, which has precisely nothing to do with nookenfreude. Just sayin’.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nookenfreude. Sounds Naughty.

Kindle. Probably not.

Nook. Probably not. Especially after reading the review at the link--although I’m a little disappointed. Some of the features (wireless, for example) sounded pretty nice.

No, if I’m going to be spending that much money on this kind of device, I’m holding out for the rumored Apple tablet. I find the rumors very compelling.

But it will never sound as naughty as Nookenfreude.

“Blue Christmas,” The Load Levelers

Tonight’s song, “Blue Christmas” done psychobilly style, is just about the fun. It’s goofy, it’s fast, and it sounds like the Hatfield and McCoys got together for a hoedown over too many eggnogs. Which, if that doesn’t sound good to you, you might want to skip this one.

Just sayin’.

And after that note, here’s a little classic Bill Cosby. Now, I’m not going to lie: this isn’t my favorite Cosby bit, but it does fit the season.

None of which should detract from an article that y’all really should be reading today. Quin Hillyer’s warning about the erosion of property rights is just as important as any other fight that conservatives and libertarians should be paying attention to right now.

The unfortunate erosion of property rights has occurred despite a huge public backlash in the past several years against the Kelo v. New London decision in 2005. That was the Supreme Court case in which a Connecticut town successfully seized private property not just for public use, but also for private development surrounding new offices for the Pfizer Inc. drug corporation. (The destruction of that Connecticut neighborhood became all the more painful when Pfizer announced Nov. 9 that it would leave New London anyway, taking away the 1,400 jobs that were supposed to be the project’s main benefit.)

And, yes, he does tie it in to this week’s EPA carbon dioxide ruling. I find myself wondering if citizens outside the hyper-politicized crowd that I travel in have noticed the incredibly far-reaching effects that the EPA decision will have in this country? Sometimes I want to close my eyes to the politics for a while. Fighting the same fights year after year after year gets seriously tiring. For that matter, it doesn’t seem healthy to be surrounded by outrage all the time--and, in blogging, finding the latest outrage really is a good bit of the game, isn’t it?

But damned if our political and bureaucratic classes don’t need as much oversight as all of us can provide and outrageous behavior is about as well-hidden as Tiger Woods’ entire harem of hussies.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

“Little Drummer Boy,” Ray Charles

Ray Charles sings one of my favorite versions of “Little Drummer Boy"--complete with slide guitar, brass, and a really great vibe.

You know you love it.

None of which explains why our friends in Britain are imposing a 50% special tax on bankers’ bonuses. What irritates most about this (and do read the comments at the linked article) is the raw popularity of this kind of move. Class warfare like this is neither good business (in trying to punish these people, it fairly encourages work-arounds to maintain the pay schedule and avoid the extra taxes--achieving precisely neither of the stated goals) nor is it good ethics (it is not simply unfair, but injurious that a person face confiscatory and capricious taxes of this nature simply because of his or her chosen field).

The British government on Wednesday said banks would pay a one-time, 50% tax on bonuses worth more than 25,000 pounds ($40,700) in an effort to encourage banks to rebuild their capital bases and continue lending to individuals and businesses.

David Wessel reports on results from a panel dissussion on international regulation, along with Sir Andrew Crockett, Dame Clara Furse and Fichard Gnodde at the Future of Finance conference.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling delivered the blow in his annual pre-budget report, which also laid out the government’s plans to cut the deficit over the next four years.

Darling said he was giving banks, which have all benefited directly or indirectly from massive government aid, a choice.

“They can use their profits to build up their capital base. But if they insist on paying substantial rewards, I am determined to claw money back for the taxpayer,” he said.

You won’t see too many people crying for those bankers; the portrait of the banker is the fat cat who profits on the labors of the little people, so who cares about them? The principle is worth supporting, though: no citizen should live in fear of an arbitrary tax being levied against them because they chose the wrong job.

What do I know, though? I’m just some marketing guy who trusts that the government won’t come along and crush me with new taxes, regulations, and fees for such whimsical reasons. Which might just be another way of saying “sucker.”

Sunday, December 06, 2009

“Silent Night,” Charles Brown and “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” James Brown

Here’s a different, jazzier take on “Silent Night” from the great Charles Brown, who has a fine voice and an even better hand with the piano.

And then a groovy James Brown number just because it’s fun.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

“The Angel Gabriel,” Salisbury Cathedral Choir and Orchestra

Here’s one for the traditionalists out there. “The Angel Gabriel” (also known as “Gabriel’s Message,” which is how Sting recorded it for one of those late eighties MTV Christmas albums) is an ethereal, gentle thing when sung by a proper choir. This happens to be one of the prettiest versions I’ve heard.

Moya Brennan does a lovely version, too. I would suggest avoiding the Jars of Clay “Gabriel’s Message,” but it might just be my general aversion to the band more than a specific complaint.

For what it’s worth.

Rest in Peace, Tim “Barrel Man” McKernan (Updated)

For longtime Broncos fans like me, today is a sad, sad day. Tim McKernan, probably the best known Broncos fan, passed away. It wasn’t a surprise--he had given interviews about a month ago and it was obvious that he was dying--but he was, by all accounts, a really good guy and a fixture in my Broncos related memories for about three decades.

Tim McKernan, better known to Denver Broncos fans and the nation as the Barrel Man, died of lung failure at his home in suburban Denver. He was 69.

McKernan began wearing a barrel, cowboy hat and little else to Broncos games in 1977 after a bet with his brother. The former United Airlines mechanic made a $10 bet that he could get on TV if he wore a barrel to the game. Guess what? He won the bet.

He quickly became a fan favorite and missed only four games from 1967 until this season. McKernan retired the barrel during 2007 as health issues caught up with him.

I’m hoping that the Broncos organization takes a big step and adds McKernan to the Broncos Ring of Fame not just for McKernan’s sake, but as a great symbol of the passion and dedication of all Broncos fans. I can’t think of anyone else who could possibly fill that role as well as the Barrel Man.

Sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mr. McKernan, and big thanks for all of the memories. Rest.

Read the story. And more here.

Update: Drew Litton has a nice post for Barrel Man, too.

I’m Pretty Sure I Have Approval Now…

Now that I’m pretty sure I’m clear to post Christmas music, I’m going to totally get carried away with my newfound power. Strange, fun, wicked, and beautiful songs are coming your way thanks to Apple’s impulse buy, Lala.com, and my own personal taste for Christmas oddities.

This one is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re one of those people who ever sat and wondered what it would sound like if Judas Priest ever took a shot at “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel,” here’s a taste of Rob Halford’s latest, Winter Songs. You’ll never have to wonder again.

If you were curious, I’m really enjoying Lala.com. For those of you new to the site, the deal is that it lets you listen one time to the full song and then lets you listen to 30 second snippets. You can purchase ten cent “web songs” or you can download music for .89. Similar to the original MP3.com (with one very significant difference, though, which saved it from being sued out of existence), it also lets you upload your own music and stream it through their online interface. Nifty service, fair pricing, and fun. That said, I had heard that it was bleeding money and didn’t see any turn-around soon. Apple probably got it fairly cheap.

I wonder what they’ll will do with it?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Is it Time Yet?

I mean, it’s after Thanksgiving. It’s December.

Do I have license to play Christmas music now? If so, here’s an awfully happy opening salvo: Richard Ruskin and John Fahey playing “Oh Holy Night” from Fahey’s album, The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Soli Christmas Album.



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