Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Death tries to break, but all in vain.
To have, to love, and then to part
Is the greatest sorrow of one's heart.
The years may wipe out many things
But some they wipe out never.
Like memories of those happy times
When we were all together.
- Author Unknown
Missing you very much today, my friend.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death! What's that--a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first, get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old-age home.
You get kicked out when you're too young.
You get a gold watch.
You go to work.
You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school.
You go to grade school.
You become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities.
You become a little baby, you go back into the womb.
You spend your last nine months floating.
.......and you finish off as an orgasm!
- George Carlin
Comrades, with a heavy heart I must report the death of another American great. Mr. George Carlin has left the building. Bought the farm. Told his last fart joke. Blasphemed his last deity. Or, as the man himself (a committed Frisbeetarian) would say, his frisbee's up on the roof and it ain't coming down. You can cross him out of your address books. Just wait 6 weeks first. (Another favorite hobby of his.)
I'm keeping this light, because that's what George did. (I would never say "that's what he would have wanted," because he would have skinned me alive and fed me to the Jesus-freaks if I did.) In fact, I'm reticent to even use a cliché like "Rest in Peace" because he'd have questioned that too ("How the hell else is someone supposed to rest??? Excitedly???")
That's what he did: questioned things. He examined, dissected, deconstructed, learned and of course, mocked. He could identify the most amazing discoveries in the most inane of topics:
- "Why is the man (or woman) who invests all your money called a broker?"
- "If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?"
- "If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted?"
- "What if there were no hypothetical questions?"
So George, although it pains me to write this, we'll miss you, but we'll leave that frisbee on the roof, right where it is. It was some throw that got it up there, that's for sure.
To all the rest of you, I leave you with the closest thing to a blessing that George would ever voice:
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.
Here's a few more words of wisdom from the man himself:
On the Seven Words You can Never Say on Television:
Friday, June 13, 2008
I'm truly at a loss for words. I'll never forget watching Tim report the news and opinions of the world during the 2000 election, the tragedy of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, the entire epic of the Iraq war, and most recently, the 2008 primary campaign. He was, in my eyes, the pinnacle of what a news journalist should be: informed, intuitive, patient and persistent. I learned more about the world by watching Tim Russert explain it to me.
I'm truly upset by this news - the world has suffered a great loss this evening.
Here is a nice tribute that NBC put together for Tim, which barely scratches the surface of this absolute titan:
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I haven't written in a while. I've been busy, distracted and otherwise occupied. But on the evening of such auspicious news, I'll make an exception.
Nice work, America. On to November!
PS - Please enjoy this old timey number from another fellow American:
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I'll just say that our president apparently has so little to do and is so completely out to lunch, he has resorted to loaning himself out for cameos on shitty TV game shows.
That's our president. He looks like Jambi from Peewee's Playhouse for god's sake!!!
Every time I think he's reached a new level of idiocy, he continues to lower the bar. Good grief. I'm actually starting to miss Karl Rove - say what you will about ol' Turd Blossom, this kind of shit would never have happened on his dime. (He prefers other forms of pageantry, of course.)
What's on schedule for next week, an appearance on Gossip Girl??? OMFG!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Even when this war makes headlines every day, it can all have a tendency to blur together. So please, take a look at the toll this war has taken on our country and the world, and keep these numbers in mind in considering your candidate this year.
And if these figures don't get your blood boiling enough, perhaps you could click this link and read more about the situation from a far more ignorant and malevolent perspective: "Five years on, Bush says no regrets on Iraq war."
REMINDER: IT'S AN ELECTION YEAR!
The Cost to Our Forces in Iraq
The Cost to Our Military Readiness
The Cost to Our National Security
- 1,188: Number of global terrorist incidents from January - September 11th, 2001. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]
- 5,188: Number of global terrorist incidents in from January- September 11th, 2006. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]
- 30: Percent increase in violence in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007. [Reuters, 10/15/07]
- 21: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2001. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]
- 139: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2006, with an additional increase of 69 percent as of November 2007. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]
- 30: Percent of Afghanistan controlled by the Afghan Government according to DNI Mike McConnell. [Associated Press, 2/27/08]
- 2,380: Days since September 11th, 2001 that Osama Bin Laden has been at-large.
The Cost of Funding the War in Iraq
- $50-60 Billion: Bush Administration's pre-war estimates of the cost of the war. [New York Times, 12/31/02]
- $12 Billion: Direct cost per month of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
- $526 Billion: Amount of money already appropriated by Congress for the War in Iraq. [CRS, 2/22/08]
- $3 Trillion: Total estimated cost of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
- $5 Trillion - $7 Trillion: Total cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounting for continued military operations, growing debt and interest payments and continuing health care and counseling costs for veterans. [McClatchy, 2/27/08]
- 160: Percent that the cost of the Iraq War has increased from 2004 to 2008. [CRS Report, 2/22/08]
The Cost to Iraqis and Journalists
- 8,000: Number of Iraqi military and police killed since June 2003. [Brookings Institute, Iraq Index, March 13, 2008]
- 82,000-89,000: Estimate of Iraqi civilians casualties from violence since the beginning of the Iraq War. [Iraq Body Count]
- 4.5 Million: Number of Iraqi refugees both inside and outside the country. [Washington Post, 3/17/08]
- 61: Percent of Iraqis that believe the U.S. military presence makes the security situation in Iraq worse. [Agence France-Presse, 3/17/08]
- 127: Number of journalists killed in Iraq since March 2003. [Committee to Protect Journalists]
Economic Costs of War in Iraq
- $33.51: Cost of a barrel of oil in March 2003. [Energy Information Administration]
- $105.68: Cost of a barrel of oil on March 17, 2008. [NYMEX]
U.S. Troops and Contractors in Iraq
- 132,000: Number of U.S. troops in Iraq in January 2007, before President Bush's escalation. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]
- 155,000: Number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]
- 140,000: Number of U.S. troops projected to be in Iraq in July 2008. [Associated Press, 2/26/08]
- 35,000: Number of private security contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]
- 180,000: Number of private contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]
Progress Towards Political Reconciliation Made By Iraqis
- 3: Number out of 18 Bush Administration Benchmarks Met by Iraqi Government As of January 24, 2008. [Center for American Progress, 1/24/08]
- 18: Number of provinces President Bush said would be secured by Iraqis as of November 2007. [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]
- 8: Number of provinces actually secured by Iraqis as of January 2008. [NPR, 1/7/08]
Bush-Republican Intransigence on Staying the Course in Iraq
- 8: Number of times a majority of the Senate has voted to change course in Iraq.
- 7: Number of times Bush Republicans in Congress have blocked changing course in Iraq.
- 1: Number of vetoes issued by the White House over changing course in Iraq.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.
If nothing else, this digital barf bag of a blog has probably conveyed one thing: I am an unapologetic Elliott Smith fan. Do a search in the field above if you need evidence of that fact.
Well, recently, one of my favorite online music dealers, Aural Exploits (do click the link and pay them a visit), offered a reissue of Elliott's classic (and previously out of print) albums XO and Figure 8. Aural Exploits is offering both albums on limited edition (500 only!) colored vinyl.
As you might imagine, I pounced on that deal like a feral beast. And now, I'm happy to report, the sexy items in the image below are hurrying on their way to my house. And so, for a brief moment in a weary world, life is good.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Let me ask you this - if ol' Gerry was so innocent, would the Wu-Tang Clan have written lyrics about her? I think not. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one instance when the Wu-Tang used improper judgement. The lyrics in question:
"I gamed Ella,
The bitch caught a Fitz like Gerald-ine Ferraro
Who’s full of sorrow, cuz the hoe didn’t win
But the sun will still come out tomorrow…"
- The Gza
Well, one good rant deserves another. And as many of you know, ain't nobody in the business that can rant like my boy Keith "The Doberman" Olbermann. Honestly, sometimes the guy seems just a pinstripe suit and a silk tie away from turning into Macho Man Randy Savage. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Watch him serve Hillary for not responding to Ferraro better and sooner. And old Geraldine gets some choice words herself :
Monday, March 10, 2008
Take a look at some great coverage of the finale:
- The New York Times
- The Baltimore Sun (perhaps a bit prickly about how they were portrayed this season)
- The Onion AV Club (and a separate interview with creator David Simon HERE)
- Time Magazine (a colletive op-ed from the Wire writing team, calling for some good old fashioned American dissent in response to the drug war's impact on the US prison system)
Also, for more backstory on this excellent program, please see my previous post about it. I can't recommend a TV show more - buy, rent or steal these DVDs if you have to! It's a show that simply shouldn't be missed.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Let me see... I guess we're fighting the satellite there, so we don't have to fight it here? Because, as everyone knows, if you don't eradicate a satellite while you have the chance, it will follow you home. Question: can we use waterboarding on a satellite?
In all honesty, why do I have the sneaking suspicion that perhaps it's not a Michael Bay-worthy film premise that is causing us to blow this thing up, but perhaps something else? An idea that wasn't cooked up by the mind of a 13 year old?
Oh wait - incoming message:
... the decision to shoot it down was taken by the President, George W Bush, after being told its re-entry could cause deaths.Aha!
However, some experts believe the risk is minimal and that the US wants to test out its missile-defence system.Aha-Aha!
The satellite is also carrying militarily-sensitive imaging sensors which the US would not want to fall into the wrong hands. It is impossible to predict where the satellite will land until it enters the atmosphere.
I rest my case. The quote above is unedited - it appeared exactly in that sequence in the article in the UK Telegraph. The simple combination of W wanting to blow it up, paired with the possibility of testing our blow-stuff-up capabilities and the very simple concept of it potentially having technology and information on it that we wouldn't want to share... well, as Tony Soprano once said, "You don't need a gynecologist to know which way the wind blows." Indeed, Tony.
We sure cracked that case, didn't we Encyclopedia Brown?!
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
For the first time in years, there really is a lot to consider and the candidates are actually interesting and complex. And the possibility that a woman or a person of color could take the job is enough to get me giddy. What a huge moment in time this is!
Obama is obviously the easiest to like. Sure, his experience isn't as extensive as his competitors, but in all fairness, that's probably to his credit! He hasn't been around long enough to get chewed up and repackaged in the political process. He's really bringing hope to people this year, like I've never seen before. What he lacks in history, he more than compensates for in energy and passion. He is the personfiication of a breath of fresh air, after the septic stench we've been breathing for almost eight years. I think he could do the job, with aplomb. But as an African-American, can he really get elected in this country? The skeptic in me wonders. But at his best moments, Obama makes my skepticism evaporate.
Hillary, we all know her. I think everyone has a good idea of what to expect from Hillary, and I don't think there's any mystery as to why some folks hate that and others love it. With Hillary, you don't get the same squeaky clean reputation as Obama, but you do get experience. She's been a senator for several years now and she was no slouch as a First Lady either. The question people need to ask is whether or not they want another Clinton in the White House again. That's a black and white issue almost (no pun intended, seriously). She also faces a similar problem to Obama, although not quite: is America ready to elect a woman to office? I'd like to think we are.
Hell, even John McCain isn't so bad. There are a few things I like about him. First of all, his experience is exemplary. He's been serving this country so long, both in the military and politically. And his military record and story is amazing - in fact it's unassailable, and as such, there's really no need to discuss it. Second, he stands as a reminder that a Republican doesn't have to be a crazy right wing bible hugger! Yes, it's true. He's certainly more conservative than a Democrat, but he's not nearly as conservative as the Bushies. Praise Allah. Even if McCain won the final election, it would still be a marked improvement on the kind of Republican we've come to know in recent years.
Mike Huckabee? Well, he is a more positive persona than Bush, but that's hardly a soaring accomplishment. Truth is, he's still a right wing bible hugger. I just can't get behind a leader whose priorities are oriented that way - he doesn't even believe in evolution! I think we've had enough of that "intelligent" thinking, thanks very much.
Romney, well, all I can say about him is he's no Mike Huckabee.
To be perfectly honest, I don't really care who anyone out there is planning to vote for, but there are two undeniable truths on the campaign trail this year:
1. I know everyone from Puff Daddy to your grandma is telling yout his, but it's true: Your vote counts. There are choices this year, there are gray areas, pros and cons for each candidate. And consequences - CONSEQUENCES! Now more than I can ever recall, it's important to get the vote out. I would like to believe that history would not repeat itself and we wouldn't get stuck with another person like the moron we've had for the last seven years, but... if W has taught me anything, it's that mediocrity always stands a chance in this country. So please vote. Please register to vote. Please help to ensure something better comes along.
2. All issues, politics, etc. aside - this guy is one hell of a public speaker! Can you blame people for getting excited about him???
Friday, January 25, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
It's kind of a modern day musical about an Irish street busker and a Czech woman he meets that helps him take his music to the next level. It's really touching and beautifully filmed. And the music is fantastic. It stars Glen Hansard and a woman named Marketa Irglova. Glen is the lead singer and songwriter for the Irish band The Frames.
Highly recommended. Check out the trailer.
Here's a clip of one of the songs from the film. It's called "Falling Slowly."
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Remember the long-winded, morose post I did about Season 5 of the Wire? About the collapse of the media and its role in society? Well, in a delcious dose of reality, check out the memo below, which was sent around internally at The Associated Press this week.
Yes, the Associated Press, the most expansive newswire in the world. The one that dictates a significant portion of the coverage you see in any newspaper or online news site.
Here's how they describe themselves on their own site:
"The Associated Press is the backbone of the world's information system serving thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television and online customers with coverage in all media and news in all formats. It is the largest and oldest news organization in the world, serving as a source of news, photos, graphics, audio and video.AP's mission is to be the essential global news network, providing distinctive news services of the highest quality, reliability and objectivity with reports that are accurate, balanced and informed."Yeah, that sounds really nice.
Now take a look at this Holy Horseshit, which was circulated to AP staff this week by Assistant Chief Frank S. Baker:
The end is nigh, my friends.
Look out next week when Reuters issues a tell-all exposé on Hannah Montana, whoever the fuck that is. (The way things are going, I'm sure I'll know who she is soon enough.)
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Well, it's a great name for anything, really. And fucking best of all, this is actually the goddamn album cover!
Wow, this is so great! And it's not even my birthday. It looks like something from Dave Attell's imagination. I know this is early out of the gates, but I'm thinking this is a strong contender for the best idea of 2008.
If anyone needs me for the next 12 months, I'll be over there in the corner, quietly giggling and peeing my pants.
But really, like most things, it's R. Kelly's fault.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
And in this dour spirit, I find it no surprise whatsoever that my favorite show on television is The Wire.
If you're reading this now, I hope this is not the first time you have heard of this show. If so, I'm sorry, because you've missed out on some fantastic writing, acting and dedication to the craft of storytelling. But if you've never heard of the show, I'm not surprised. The Wire has been plagued with low audience figures since it was first conceived (such is the plight of many intelligent programs). The audience it does retain, however, is a rabid group of similarly addicted viewers like myself.
The micro view of The Wire is that it is a modern crime drama, depicting the two sides of the drug war in America. You see the story unfold from both the police perspective and the criminal perspective. And there are "good guys" and "bad guys" on both sides, for certain. It doesn't paint a very pretty picture of the world - there are drug dealers who you actually find yourself rooting for and there are police officers that embody the worst qualities humanity has to offer. And there are thousands of gray areas in between of course. It's not the prettiest picture, but it is a compelling one.
The macro view... well, that's where things get really dark.
In its essence, The Wire is really the story of the decline of civilization - or, at least, American civilization. It tells the tale of political, municipal, administrative corruption that occurs in surround sound at all times. These forces align to create a block that prevents progress, discourages independent thinking and alienates both the working class and civilians in general. This confluence of negative forces perpetuates societal norms and dysfunction that extends to both the street-level drug game and the political powers at the highest level of government.
Just give me a second to catch my breath here.... phew.
The Wire has illustrated this systematic degradation on a variety of intertwining levels:
Season 1 exposed the street-level impact of the drug trade, as well as the bureaucratic webs that even the most dedicated of police officers have to negotiate in order to do good police work. Often, both systems work profoundly against their own workforce.
Season 2 shed light on the death of the working class. These are the people that once comprised the "salt of the earth" and did the work that made industry and modern civilization happen. In this case, it is shown as dockworkers. Men and women who start with honest intentions, but eventually are drawn into the tangled webs of criminal activity and survivalist behavior. In other words, they mimic similar patterns to the cop/criminal structure exposed in Season 1.
Season 3 again goes back to a street level perspective, but with a keen focus on how street-level issues impact the political game. Here we see the genesis of a political campaign striving for a "new day" in Baltimore. Guess what? It never happens. When one police captain takes the initiative to legalize drugs or as he states it "elects to ignore them," even the best of political intentions wash away in the fray, for the sake of self-preservation.
Season 4, perhaps the most unnerving of all so far, incorporates all the levels of the story so far - the cops, the criminals, the politicians and then extends the story to a new audience: the next generation. Or, in other words, it examines the failure of the education system, which does its part to perpetuate the continued divergence and struggles among the various factions of society.
Season 5 purports to add yet another level of noise to the story: the media.
Speaking of Season 5, it officially begins this Sunday, January 6th. I had the opportunity to watch the season premiere and it did not disappoint. If you have never seen the Wire, and you've read this far, I invite you to check it out this season, because it is the final season. Rather than ramble on into oblivion, the powers behind The Wire have elected to bow out gracefully, after telling a gritty, compelling and truly inspiring story, completely on its own terms.
I know the description above probably doesn't sound like much of a fun time, but I promise you, once you've sunk your teeth into this show, you won't be able to stay away. It's absolutely enthralling. And as the original slogan for the show suggested, I would agree: Listen Carefully.
The Wire airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.
For the uninitiated, or the simply curious, following are a few links that may be of interest:
An overview on the series from creator David Simon.
A series of videos from a talk David Simon Gave at Loyola University in Baltimore.
An excellent story on the Wire from The New Yorker.
And last, but certainly not least, just to show that all of this does have a sense of humor from time to time, here is a clip of one of the best scenes from the entire series. Detectives Bunk and McNulty investigate a crime scene and identify the method in which a shooting victim was attacked: