Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Power Trio Solo

In the response threads to the Music Meme, Rush has been subjected to lots of love and inclusion and some derision. I can see the love/hate thing there with Geddy Lee's voice or if one suffers from a debilitating lack of appreciation for musicianship, but you just cannot deny the awesomeness of this...

Eleven-Year-Old Girl Plays Rush's YYZ



Via Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome Blog (which, btw, it is).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Am I a bad person...

...because I have no idea who Randy Pausch is?

Seriously. I never heard of the guy until I saw a few bloggers note his passing. I didn't think too much about it until my mom pointed it out in the paper today.

--

I just did "a Google" and now I know who he is. No, I'm not a bad person, but I probably need to branch out and read something besides twoglasses.com and political and baseball blogs once in a while...

Noted Without Comment (for now)

Quote of the Day

So American electors have to choose between two candidates: one who doesn't know the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims, but it doesn't matter because he plans to pick fights with both. The other doesn't stand tall in defence of chlorinated chickens.

James Wimberly in response to this "on the other hand..." story from the oh-so-liberal media.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Venn-detta

Slate.com has a chart that illustrates the different people involved in the Bush Administrations scandals crimes. It's more clever and cute than actually revealing or engrossing, but it does point out the common thread in all of them—Alberto Gonzalez.

It does, however, omit the one circle I would lay across the whole diagram...the complicity of the Democratic Congress.

Reading Assignment

Josh Marshall is so dead-on, I don't know how to cut his post down for a blockquote. Here's the whole thing...
AN OMINOUS GROWTH
In the post immediately below I referred to Obama's audition for the role of 'head of state/commander-in-chief'. And as a potential wartime president and in the rhetorical universe we're now living in, this CINC test is inevitable and important for Obama to pass. But we should not forget how novel and in many ways pernicious the elevation of this term is.

At some points during the Republican primary campaign especially, CINC was being used almost as a synonym for president -- much as we might substitute 'chief executive' for president. And the growing use of the term in this sense is an effective barometer of the progressive militarization of our concept of the presidency and our government itself.

We see it here in its semantic form but we can observe its concrete effect in the Bush administration's claims of almost absolute presidential power well outside of war-fighting -- almost as if the president is a kind of warlord simultaneously directing the military and the civilian governments with similar fiat powers.

We need to re-familiarize ourselves with the fact that the point of the constitution's explicitly giving the president the title of commander-in-chief was not to make him into a quasi-military figure. It was precisely the opposite -- to create no doubt that the armed forces answered not to a chief of staff or senior general or even a Secretary of Defense (originally, Secretaries of War and Navy) but to a civilian elected officeholder who operates with the constrained and limited power of that world rather than the unbound authority of military command.

We've gotten the relationship seriously out of whack.

--Josh Marshall

Word.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Lifetime of Music—Year By Year

Not a blog meme, but something sent to me via email, but it's tailor-made for blogging and passing along...

Start at the wikipedia page of the year of your birth, and pick the best (or your favorite) album from each year you've been alive.

1968Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones
1969Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
1970Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
1971Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones
1972Exile on Main St. - The Rolling Stones
1973Countdown to Ecstasy - Steely Dan
1974Feats Don't Fail Me Now - Little Feat
1975Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan
19762112 - Rush
1977Seconds Out (live) - Genesis
1978Van Halen - Van Halen (debut)
1979London Calling - The Clash
1980Peter Gabriel(Melting) - Peter Gabriel
1981Moving Pictures - Rush
1982Three Sides Live – Genesis
1983Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan
1984Couldn't Stand the Weather - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
1985The Firm - The Firm
1986Graceland - Paul Simon
1987The Joshua Tree - U2
1988It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
1989Let Love Rule - Lenny Kravitz
1990Shake Your Money Maker - The Black Crowes (debut)

Man, some of those were really tough—1969, 1976 and 1978 were standout years. My selections were based heavily on longevity and my current opinion over my feelings at the time—in some cases I was uninitiated to (Feat, SRV) or even disliked (Kravitz) the album I now select as a favorite.

It's late and stopping right before the upheaval of my taste in the 90s seems like a good place to call it a night... to be continued...

UPDATE: Back at it...

1991Nevermind - Nirvana
I have avoided ties thusfar, and to keep that streak alive, I will give Nevermind the edge over Pearl Jam's Ten by a scruffy beard hair.

Quite possibly the greatest year in the history of music, 1991 was a watershed moment for me. During my years in college, and immediately after, I became addicted to hi-fi, bought CDs by the dozens hundreds, and essentially re-lived the previous decades of rock anew via expensive stereo. I suddenly have a real job and money, I turn around and there is just fantastic album after fantastic album coming out from countless new or breaking artists in genres of music unknown to me or previously non-existent. Not to mention comebacks from established acts...Here's just a taste of what 1991 had to offer:

Gish - The Smashing Pumpkins
Badmotorfinger - Soundgarden
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Achtung Baby - U2
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Out of Time - R.E.M.

Are you fucking kidding me? Most of those would have won in any other year.

1992Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
That's a total upset! But, looking at the list, it's the one that stands apart. Most of the also-rans had other great years and albums besides their 1992 releases, but this was absolutely the peak for Amos, and a big album for me. (Truth be told, dada's Puzzle would win if it made wikipedia's list.)

While perhaps not as revolutionary as the previous year, 1992 was every bit as strong. Check it out...
The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion - The Black Crowes
Copper Blue - Sugar
Core - Stone Temple Pilots
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
Dirt - Alice in Chains

1993Siamese Dream - The Smashing Pumpkins
Moved back to NY, and was in full WDRE-mode. This was really the year of the chick rock for me...Liz Phair, Breeders, Belly, etc.

The early '90s is really when I was in my musical "nirvana." I was making even more money and living in NY, going to concerts all the time, and the radio was just kicking ass. That said, I'm going to try and rein it in and bring these entries back down to one.

1994Throwing Copper - Live
1995The Bends - Radiohead
This should probably be Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball, but I can't find it on the list...
1996Odelay - Beck
1997The Colour and the Shape - Foo Fighters
1998Gentleman's Blues - Cracker

NOTE: The stuff I like is still good, but much of it is falling shy of wikipedia's lists—there is a lot of crap in there now. Many of the early nineties greats have fallen apart by now...

1999The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner - Ben Folds Five
2000All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2
After the tough choices faced in the nineties, 2000 was shockingly weak. I went up and own the list repeatedly looking for an album that even approached the stature of the previous years. It wasn't there. Ultimately, it was between mediocre Elliott Smith and mediocre U2...

2001Comfort Eagle - Cake
Even weaker than 2000.

2002One by One - Foo Fighters
The fact that their label tried to spike Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot should tell why these are the years I stopped listening to anything but NPR...

2003Elephant - The White Stripes
Awesome album, but I didn't find it until years later...still in my music sabbatical it would seem. This wiki list is shit.

2004—Fucking garbage. There are only a handful on this list I would even play never mind call "favorite or best." I'll give it to U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, I guess. I am really disgruntled right now.

2005Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes
Ah, redemption. This album single-handedly yanked me from my music coma. Props to Mrs F for making me check it out. Otherwise I might still be wandering in the desert. It's why I worship at the alter of Jack White. I owe him. Big time.

2006Broken Boy Soldiers - The Raconteurs (see above)

2007Because of the Times - Kings of Leon

And as if there was any doubt...

2008—Consolers
of the Lonely—The Raconteurs
Asserting itself as an all-time great album. I can't get enough of it. Don;t think I've gone more than a day or two without playing some of it.

Phew. Not sure if that was fun or torture, but there it is.

(Mike, Toast, Smitty, Fridge, Angelos, Rickey and the rest of you should take this opportunity to get crackin'. Rob, I expect yours in the comments.)

"Did I Say 'Surge?'"

After completely botching and/or lying about the timeframe of "the surge" in Iraq, McCain tires a new tack...



Got that?

"Surge" no longer refers to a "surge" in the number of troops by tens of thousands...McCain is pretty much trying to pretend that "surge" is short for "CounterinSURGEncy."

As an aside, he looks so fucking old in these videoes, it's creepy.

High Hopes


I just purchased $150 worth of paint, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to test this stuff out.

I don't fuck around when I paint—I take it seriously. I do a good job (if I say so myself) and I have high expectations. I am a long-time user/believer in Behr™ paint from Home Depot. Over the years I have used and tried them all—Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Lowes, etc. Behr has most consistently given me the results I want at a reasonable price, and the flexibility afforded by the store hours of Home Depot versus a pro paint shop that closes at 5 is a HUGE factor.

Our new (old) house is in good shape, and the guy we bought if from had pretty good taste, but we are going to need to re-paint every room sooner or later. That's a LOT of paint, and that means a LOT of off-gassing chemicals and such, and I'm not too big on making my kids soak that shit in.

Like everything else these days, there is a movement towards "green" paint products. I've seen print ads for Mythic™ paint and been intrigued...Then, when I went to Lowes and Home Depot over the last week or two, I noticed other paints glomming onto the environmental bandwagon. But I've done my meticulous internet over-research, and I am going all-in with Mythic.

It's more expensive, but not prohibitively so, and I had to drive 15 miles out of town to get it...but I like everything I read about it, I'm a sucker for the retro-styling and good design, and I want to reward a company striving for environmental responsibility.

First on the agenda is the girl's bedroom, then the hallway. I will follow-up with a full review.

UPDATE: Just to be clear—$150 is for a gallon of eggshell enamel for the walls, a gallon of primer, a gallon of ceiling paint, and a quart of semi-gloss for the trim. This paint is NOT $150 a can.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Badass of the Week: Jennifer from Charter

Everybody bitches about the phone and cable company (see Cole, John re: Comcast) and nobody like a good rant better than yours truly. With each repetitive information input, or boneheaded service rep i was forced to deal with, I was composing my post to throw my gasoline onto that blogosphere-wide fire...

After over ninety minutes (over two evenings) of absolutely atrocious phone service trying to establish phone and internet service with Charter Communications in the new house, I finally lucked into connecting to the patron saint of customer service, Jennifer.

I told her about my previous phone fiascoes and she assured me she would take care of everything, and even took my number in case we were disconnected for any reason. After a somewhat slow—but extremely thorough—phone call, I was left with exactly what I want, when i want it, and with a pretty good fucking phone number to boot!

So, once the order was complete, Jennifer asked me if I had any questions...

"Yes, I need your name and a way to tell somebody how helpful you were."

She gave me her supervisor's name and email address—this is what I wrote:

Ms. (Manager),

I am writing to let you know that I received excellent and thorough service from Jennifer this evening. I had spent over an hour on the phone with several different Charter representatives who were all uninformed or unable to help me with what, to me, should have been a simple order for new phone and high-speed internet service. In some cases I was told phone service was unavailable to me, once I was told to confirm availability myself by calling a different number (?!?) and twice I was told service was available, but could not be established until a previous homeowner completed his disconnection by being present at the address (that he no longer controls or has access to) NEXT MONTH for a physical disconnect!

Jennifer was quick to confirm that all services were indeed available, despite the conflicting information in your system, and that I could establish my service at the soonest available appointment—which is the day after tomorrow—not August 1, as I had been told previously.

Had Jennifer not been able to properly provide service to me, I was going to look at alternatives for the services I need and you would have lost a customer before you ever had me.

I hope that by providing my confirmation number (###############) you can access the recorded service calls in reference to my account and hear the excellent service provided by Jennifer in contrast to the horrendous, inaccurate, and unhelpful calls I had previously.

Hopefully this will contribute to better service for me and other customers in the future.

Thank you,
Mr. Furious
Asheville, NC


Rock on, Jennifer!

As for the fucktards in sales, scheduling, billing and whoever the fuck else jerked me around...I hope Jennifer gets promoted and comes around personally to fire each of you in my honor.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To Do List

Gotta start watching this show...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hello From Asheville!


Well, we did it. The Family Furious has officially cut ties with Ann Arbor with the sale of our house this morning, and by tomorrow night we will be the proud owners of a new (old) bungalow in West Asheville, North Carolina.

It has been an absolutely in-freaking-sane couple weeks, but it will all be back to normal soon,

Hopefully.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to Become Batman...in 12 Years Or So

In the throes of the move, so no time for blogging...Here's something cool via Andrew Sullivan: Scientific American interviews a guy who researched what it would take to become like The Dark Knight...

Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist--But Not for Long

I cannot wait for this movie.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reading Assignment

I remember reading Charles P Pierce's Obama article in Esquire when it first came out—but, it was probably hurriedly, while in the library or something, and I didn't really absorb it.

So, I was doing some design research the other day in the library in Charleston, and I photocopied the article along with lots of other stuff from an array of well-designed magazines. I intended to re-read the piece, so I copied the whole thing...

I read it on the flight back to Michigan today, and I was positively blown away. No, not because I'm an Obama guy. After all, the piece does not extol Obama, nor is it really even about him. It is about us as a country. And it is fucking phenomenal.

Pierce is a great writer—always has been. Sports, politics, humor, whatever. He's one of the best. But this article isn't just the best political article I've read lately, it's probably the best writing I've read in years, period.

I don't know how I missed it the first time. Probably because my Obamania at the time was temporarily suppressing my cynicism...

The piece is simultaneously exhilarating and disillusioning in its brutally honest assessment of the state of politics in America.

The Cynic and Senator Obama.

Too good to excerpt. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shaking off the rust...

Since "both" of you have probably been wondering why nothing's been happening on the blog all week, I suppose I'll give an update...

I started a new job.

Out of state. In fact, this week I've actually been at the corporate HQ, which is out of state from the new state. So the last few weeks have been consumed by travel and preparing to relocate the family from Michigan to Asheville, North Carolina. That has entailed selling and buying houses, and the all-consuming task of packing. And packing. And getting rid of stuff. Then packing some more...

Since I arrived in Charleston on Monday, I've been relived of those duties in the evening, but I just haven't been feeling the blogging...I've been reading 'em, and have probably even been to each of your blogs—but I'm just a bit burnt out on the whole thing. So, I haven't been commenting in my usual haunts, and I really haven't felt like sitting down and working through a big post here.

I'm sure I'll snap out of it—I enjoy ranting too much, and there's far too much fuel for it out there—but I've been sequestered from my normal immersion in all things politics, baseball, etc.

There's a tv in my room, but I haven't turned it on. I've spent no NPR time in the car, but the biggest single thing hampering me? My new job requires that I actually, um, work?

What the fuck is that shit?

So, quickly, here are some things that have been rattling around in my head this week:

1. I'm pissed at Obama on FISA, but I recognize he had no choice. Clearly (to me) the Dems in "command" wanted—no, needed—the immunity as badly as Bush. And they aren't handing any reins over to Obama without some serious CYA maneuvering—this was the price for his ascension.

2. I have never before lived in a state without a bottle/can deposit, and I have actually forgotten that not everyone does that...What the fuck is the matter with the rest of you people? Get your shit together and...Recycle. Your. Fucking. Cans!

3. This year the A.L. will lose the All Star Game.

4. People in the South ARE more friendly.

5. My car got an astonishing 28 mpg on one leg of this trip—on the highway. It is back to it's gluttonous ways around town again.

6. Starbucks iced coffee is pretty good. Starbucks hot coffee still sucks.

7. A big-ass G5 tower is not a laptop. But I've still been taking it "home" every night and gotten very adept at hooking it all up in less than a minute.

8. Did the internet abandon italics?
None of them showed up in this post, and they seem to missing everywhere else, too.

9. iPhones. Mrs F and I are strongly considering getting iPhones when we move to replace our current cells.. and, no, we won;t be waiting in line tomorrow like a jackass to do that.

10. I'm beat. I am going to bed and possible get 8 actual hours of sleep.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Badass of the Week: 41-year-old German Man

Man rips head from Hitler wax figure
Sat Jul 5, 8:08 AM ET

BERLIN (Reuters) - A man tore the head from a controversial waxwork figure of Adolf Hitler on the opening day of Berlin's Madame Tussauds museum, police said.

Just minutes after the museum opened, the 41-year-old German man pushed aside two security men guarding the exhibit.

"Then he went over to the figure and ripped off the head," a police spokesman said.

The man tore off the head in protest at the exhibit, the spokesman added. The police were alerted and arrested the man, who did not resist. He was later released though he remained under investigation for assault and damaging property.

That guy rules. And the fucking morons running that museum are dicks.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Opposite of Change

Somehow this Onion story made it into the US News & World Report...
GOP Envisions Gephardt as Possible Obama Running Mate
By Paul Bedard Wed Jul 2, 12:56 PM ET

Republican strategists trying to game Sen. Barack Obama's choice for a running mate are focusing more and more on the possibility that he might pick former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, a friend of labor and blue-collar workers. "Gephardt is the one we're most afraid of," said a key GOP strategist and Bush ally.

Gephardt has run for the presidency and scored well among the types of voters Obama is trying to reach out to--lower and middle-class workers, laborers, and minorities. Another strategist said that Gephardt presents a friendly face of liberalism that would be hard to attack. He also has a deep well of support among House Democrats, who they believe would rally around an Obama-Gephardt ticket, especially the allies of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

I cannot think of a worse potential running mate than this flesh-haired, two-time Presidential loser who reeks of the 80s and the decline of unions. This is the lead asshole who went behind the party's back to broker the deal with Bush that launched the Iraq War—yeah, I'm sure he's at the top of Obama's list. Nobody personifies the feckless, failed Democratic Party of the hopefully soon-to-be past, more than Dick Gephardt.

Put it this way. If Barack Obama were to select Dick Fucking Gephardt as his VP, the first thing I do—after I pick myself up off the floor—is weep. For a few days. Then, I figure out some way to get my donation money back. After that, I'd take my family to Canada and mourn for my country.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Rock on, General

Clark's NOT backing down on his completely accurate, innocuous and totally defensible statement. Doesn't this guy know how to be a Democrat?
There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.

John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

Fucking-A right, General. You're too good for the Democrats at this moment. Hold on. Hopefully the rest of the party—starting with Obama—will grow a pair and join you.