(Click the hand for a very cool New Year's greeting created by friends of ours)
December 30, 2005
So, apparently my self-imposed semi-retirement (see post below) jumped the gun, just a hair. I came home last night and found the latest issue of McSweeney's in the mail and it included a free DVD called Wolphin*: a "DVD Magazine of Unseen Things." The concept of this quarterly DVD offering is to showcase "short films, documentaries, animation and instructional videos that have not, for whatever reason, found wide release."
"Issue" No. 1 includes a film written and starring Miranda July; an excerpt from David O. Russell's Iraq War I documentary, Soldier's Pay; a Turkish sitcom; comedian Patton Oswalt staring into the camera for "five or so minutes" and the so-called "lost" Al Gore Documentary by Spike Jonze. As the Wolphin's editor says, "It may seem like a sweet, simple study of a loving American family, but in our opinion, Jonze's short film could have changed the world."
So, for those of you feeling wistful about what could have been...for those of you who know in your hearts that our country deserves better...and for those of you who won't/can't shell out the dough to subscribe to Wolphin, I present to you the Untitled Al Gore Documentary (with a brief glimpse of Mr. Oswalt). Happy New Year.
*Wholphin: A "cross between a whale (Pseudorca crassidens) and a dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)."
December 29, 2005
It's been an incredibly long and tiring year, filled with scandals, incompetency, ridiculousness, horrors and general malaise. Just a small sampling:
Scooter LibbyI, myself, have come down with a severe case of Scandal Fatigue and I've decided to give this blogging thing a break for a little while. How long is hard to say. Blogging is surprisingly addictive so it's quite possible I'll jump back into the fray as soon as the muse hits me over the head. But in the meantime, I'll leave you in the good hands of John, Atrios, Jane, Digby, TBogg and The Rude Pundit (the last two should cover all your snark needs).
Randy “Duke” Cunningham
Hurricane Katrina/Michael Brown/FEMA/DHS
The Iraq War
Fake News Stories in Iraq
The War on Christmas
Social Security Reform
Bernard Kerik (Dec. ’04)
The Bankruptcy Bill
and, perhaps the topper (since supposedly making our country safer is what got The Big Turd Sandwich reelected), The 9/11 Commission's Final Grades
(Click to enlarge)
Here's to a 2006 that will make us once again feel proud to be Americans.
P.S. - For a great, non-political diversion, check out the Top 50 Videos of 2005, courtesy of DoCopenhagen. Thanks to the ever-diligent Freakgirl for finding this.
December 27, 2005
December 26, 2005
Former Marine and United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter smacks down everyone's favorite neocon apologist lush, Christopher Hitchens:
"This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," (Ritter) said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American."
December 24, 2005
December 23, 2005
Oh yeah, Bubbledonia:
US President George W. Bush called 2005 "a good year for the American people..."
"This has been a year of strong progress toward a freer, more peaceful world and a prosperous America," he said.
Reporters tried, unsuccessfully, to penetrate Bush's bubble with microphones.
December 22, 2005
Is traditional Holiday music setting your teeth on edge? Are you contemplating strolling into a Wal-Mart to buy a rifle with a scope in order to let your entire town know how you're feeling? Well, check that thought, Bucko. Krup is here with some Holiday cheer that should help set things right with your world:
Now through December 28th, I will be your host for Six Degrees Traveler Radio's Second Annual Holiday Music Spectacular. That's right, two solid, commercial free hours of seriously good Holiday music, featuring:Click my "War on The War on Christmas" banner above to listen to the show via live365.com or click the Six Degrees Records logo below to go to iTunes where you'll find the show under the Electronica and/or Eclectic categories. And did I mention it's FREE?The Ventures, Pearl Jam, Mocean Worker, John Lennon, Polyphonic Spree, Kiki & Herb, Macy Gray, Death Cab for Cutie, Tom Waits, R.E.M. and much, much more! With special guests Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Sedaris, Pee Wee Herman and The Simpsons!! Plus, a very special message of peace, love & understanding from the so-called Leader of the Free World!!!
Burritos Happy Holidays!
P.S. And don't forget to listen to my personal favorite songs of 2005.
(Note: The views expressed in this blog and on the show do not necessarily reflect those of Six Degrees Records & Traveller Radio. All complaints should be directed -- aw, screw it. Who are you to complain about free music?)
December 21, 2005
and we already have our first review:
"Some of the music is quite amusing but I'm very disappointed that O Tannenbaum failed to make the playlist. That song always reminds me of our little sing-a-longs from my Hitler Youth days:O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit..."
-Pope Benedict XVI
December 20, 2005
December 19, 2005
December 18, 2005
As usual, Digby nails it:
"The president is asserting a new interpretation of the constitution and unless this country makes it very, very clear that we will not stand for it, we are in deep trouble. This won't happen unless the media does its job and tells the country the truth:The president broke the law, admitted it and says that he will continue to do so. He did this because he believes that the president has the right to break any law he chooses in his capacity as commander in chief.Does that sound like America?"
December 16, 2005
December 15, 2005
Part One, Part Two
When I was growing up, before the heady days of FM Radio, I had four major sources that contributed to my musical education:
01) My father’s vast collection of Big Band, Jazz, Show Tunes, Frank Sinatra and Novelty Records (one of my personal childhood favorites, Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," was perfect for running around the house like an idiot); 02) My two older brothers’ combined record collection (the usual suspects: Beatles, Stones, Iron Butterfly); 03) Sixties TV (Ed Sullivan, Hulllabaloo, Where the Action Is and Happening (both featuring Paul Revere & the Raiders), American Bandstand; and 04) WABC-AM, New York.
The last one perhaps had the most profound and perverse affect on my musical tastes. Back in the sixties, Top 40 radio was unbelievably eclectic. Just take a look at this list from 1965:
1. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
2. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), Four Tops
3. Wooly Bully, Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs
4. My Girl, Temptations
5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Righteous Brothers
6. Downtown, Petula Clark
7. Help!, The Beatles
8. Can't You Hear My Heartbeat, Herman's Hermits
9. Crying In The Chapel, Elvis Presley
10. You Were On My Mind, We Five
11. I Got You Babe, Sonny and Cher
12. Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter, Herman's Hermits
13. The Birds And The Bees, Jewel Aikens
14. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Mel Carter
15. Shotgun, Jr. Walker and The All Stars
16. Help Me, Rhonda, Beach Boys
17. This Diamond Ring, Gary Lewis and The Playboys
18. The "In" Crowd, Ramsey Lewis Trio
19. King Of The Road, Roger Miller
20. Stop! In The Name Of Love, Supremes
21. Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
22. Silhouettes, Herman's Hermits
23. I'll Never Find Another You, Seekers
24. Cara, Mia, Jay and The Americans
25. Mr. Tambourine Man, Byrds
26. Cast Your Fate To The Wind, Sounds Orchestral
27. Yes, I'm Ready, Barbara Mason
28. What's New Pussycat?, Tom Jones
29. Eve Of Destruction, Barry McGuire
30. Hang On Sloopy, McCoys
31. Ticket To Ride, The Beatles
32. Red Roses For A Blue Lady, Bert Kaempfert and His Orch.
33. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, James Brown and The Famous Flames
34. Game Of Love, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders
35. The Name Game, Shirley Ellis
36. I Know A Place, Petula Clark
37. Back In My Arms Again, Supremes
38. Baby I'm Yours, Barbara Lewis
39. The Jolly Green Giant, Kingsmen
40. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Patti Page
Could you imagine hearing so many great songs on one commerical radio station these days? It’s an almost perfect collection of pop songs (with very few exceptions). In contrast, take a look at the crap on this chart from 2003:
1. YEAH!, USHER FEATURING LUDACRIS & LIL' JON
2. THIS LOVE, MAROON 5
3. THE REASON, HOOBASTANK
4. WITH YOU, JESSICA SIMPSON
5. LEAVE(GET OUT), JOJO
6. TOXIC, BRITNEY SPEARS
7. MY IMMORTAL, EVANESCENCE
8. THE WAY YOU MOVE, OUTKAST FEATURING SLEEPY BROWN
10. PIECES OF ME, ASHLEE SIMPSON
11. BURN, USHER
12. MEANT TO LIVE, SWITCHFOOT
13. HEY YA!, OUTKAST
14. NUMB, LINKIN PARK
15. SHE WILL BE LOVED, MAROON 5
16. NAUGHTY GIRL, BEYONCE
17. MY HAPPY ENDING, AVRIL LAVIGNE
18, I DON'T WANNA KNOW, MARIO WINANS FEATURING ENYA & P. DIDDY
19. DIP IT LOW, CHRISTINA MILIAN FEATURING FABOLOUS
20. HERE WITHOUT YOU, 3 DOORS DOWN
21. TIPSY, J-KWON
22. TURN ME ON, KEVIN LYTTLE FEATURING SPRAGGA BENZ
23. HEY MAMA, BLACK EYED PEAS
24. LET'S GET IT STARTED, BLACK EYED PEAS
25. IF I AIN'T GOT YOU, ALICIA KEYS
26. ON THE WAY DOWN, RYAN CABRERA
27. MOVE YA BODY, NINA SKY FEATURING JABBA
28. SUGA SUGA, BABY BASH
29. EVERYTIME, BRITNEY SPEARS
30. IT'S MY LIFE, NO DOUBT
31. DON'T TELL ME, AVRIL LAVIGNE
32. ONE THING, FINGER ELEVEN
33. PERFECT, SIMPLE PLAN
34. ROSES, OUTKAST
35. MY BAND, D12 FEATURING EMINEM
36. BREAKAWAY, KELLY CLARKSON
37. GOODIES, CIARA FEATURING PETEY PABLO
38. THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST, SHERYL CROW
39. ONE CALL AWAY, CHINGY FEATURING J. WEAV
Yes, I’m sure people will be listening to Hoobastank, Maroon 5 and Switchfoot 40 years from now (well, maybe some people will be forced to at Gitmo).
Of course the sixties didn't have a monopoly on good music. There’s been plenty of great music over the years; you just never hear it on commercial radio anymore (unless you have satellite radio). That’s been the motivation for my Number Ones That Never Were series (see lefthand sidebar): In a perfect world, bands on the margins would be enjoying boffo record sales and people from Jabip would be singing their songs instead of “Hey Ya” (which admittedly was a fun song…the first 5,000 times I heard it).
This year, I’m presenting a Number Ones That Never Were: Best of 2005 Edition. One of the greatest things about WABC was that every year around this time they would countdown the top 100 songs of the year. I was addicted to these countdowns and would take my trusty AM radio everywhere I went so I wouldn’t miss a song (and yes, I did have a Sony Cube Radio like the one above. I also had an AM radio shaped like a baseball and one shaped like a football).
I mentioned before that WABC had both a profound and perverse effect on my musical tastes: Profound because it taught me that Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, James Brown, The Temptations, Sam the Sham and The Beach Boys could all co-exist; perverse because that same world could also include Petula Clark, Bert Kaempfert, Roger Miller and Patti Page (and I use the term perverse with love).
So, if you click on the links below the fabulous Sony Cube, you’ll hear my profound and perverse version of what I think commercial radio should have sounded like this year. Enjoy!
(Caveat: Not all of these songs actually came out in 2005. However, all of them came to my attention this year so I have no qualms about cheating. And it's not like I'm illegally spying on Americans or anything.)
In the sequel, instead of zombies, another real-live Iraq war vet (Paul Hackett of Ohio being the first) throws down the gauntlet and runs against a Republican hack:
An Iraq war veteran on Wednesday announced that he will run against U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, saying he's unhappy with President Bush's handling of the conflict.More like him please...
Andrew Horne, 44, said Northup has been a staunch supporter of Bush's Iraq policy and has "become nothing but a rubber stamp" for her fellow Republican.
Horne, a Louisville attorney who returned home from Iraq last spring after a seven-month stint, said he didn't see any progress in making Iraq more secure.
"It became a realization that we are less safe than we were, not more safe," said Horne, who as a Marine Reserve officer spent months working with Iraqi security forces and helping with reconstruction and humanitarian efforts.
December 14, 2005
As some of you may know, I "work" in the television industry. Today, I'm producing a promo for a great show called "Later...with Jools Holland" which airs on the music channel Rave HD, which is available on Dish Network through their Voom Pak (which, I believe, is watched by about 3 people). In addition to live, in-studio performances by 5 or 6 guests per week, "Later" also features interviews with some of the bands. I just watched an interview with New Order in which Jools asked if the band had any advice for young bands just starting out.
(Some background before the punchline for the musically impaired: New Order is comprised of Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris who used to be in the band Joy Division until their lead singer, Ian Curtis, hung himself. And now back to our regularly scheduled post...)
Bass player Peter Hook's advice? "Keep your eye on your lead singer."
Pictured: Ian Curtis (left), Peter Hook at Ian Curtis' gravesite (right)
Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets.Look, I'm happy to do my part to kill Christmas but I promise it will always be in good taste (well, at least it won't involve blood). And for the record: I'm not related to Joel (there's a "c" in my last name).
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Krupnik explained that his family thought it would be a fun way to make a comment about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.
"It is a religious holiday, but they have turned it into a business. And it shouldn't be," he said. "We didn't put it up to offend anybody. It was just something that came out of our imagination."
Click the pic to watch Sarah Silverman rock the house on Comedy Central's Last Laugh 2005. (Warning: this clip is rumored to have made The Rude Pundit blush).
December 13, 2005
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday that he does not live "in a bubble" and that he is well aware of what is going on outside the White House, rejecting critics' claims that he is out of touch with public opinion.
"I don't feel in a bubble," Bush said in an interview on "NBC Nightly News."
"I feel like I'm getting really good advice from very capable people, and that people from all walks of life have informed me and informed those who advise me. And I feel very comfortable that I'm very aware of what's going on," Bush said...
Asked how much television news and newspapers he regularly consumes, Bush moved to dispel a myth that grew a few years ago after he told an interviewer that he does not read newspapers.
"Every morning I look at the newspaper," Bush told NBC. "I can't say I've read every single article in the newspaper. But, I definitely know what's in the news."
"Occasionally, I watch television. I don't want to hurt your feelings. But it's occasionally," Bush said jokingly.
"But I'm very aware of what's in the news. I'm aware because I see clips. I see summaries," he said. Bush added that staffers also brief him daily on what's brewing on domestic and international issues.
"Frankly, it is probably part of my own fault for needling people, but it's a myth to think I don't know what's going on," Bush said. "And it's a myth to think that I'm not aware that there (are) opinions that don't agree with mine. Because I'm fully aware of that."
December 12, 2005
December 11, 2005
December 09, 2005
Torture: When You Absolutely Need To Obtain False Information:
The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.
The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.
Look everybody! It's the Paris Hilton Christmas Shrine, created by 39-year-old designer Joe Moretti who was arrested last year for trespassing on Martha Stewart's property in Maine.
"If it's offending anyone, I apologize," Moretti said in a telephone interview Thursday.Oh I don't see how it could possibly offend anyone Joe. Nice work.
December 08, 2005
Sarah Silverman has a little chat with Santa and joins the "War on Christmas" with her new video, Give The Jew Girl Toys.
You can watch it here. (Warning: It contains the word "penis")
Playwright and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter dissects American foreign policy:
"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," Mr. Pinter said. "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."Yep, THIS sure is comforting:
Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love."
He returned to the theme of language as an obscurer of reality, saying that American leaders use it to anesthetize the public. "It's a scintillating stratagem," Mr. Pinter said. "Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable."
Although Bush administration officials have denied that they transfer terrorism suspects to countries where they are likely to be abused, a classified memorandum described in a court case indicates that the Pentagon has considered sending a captured militant abroad to be interrogated under threat of torture.
The classified memo is summarized — its actual contents are blacked out — in a petition filed by attorneys for Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad, a detainee held by the Pentagon at its Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility.
The March 17, 2004, Defense Department memo indicated that American officials were frustrated in trying to obtain information from Ahmad, according to the description of the classified memo in the court petition. The officials suggested sending Ahmad to an unspecified foreign country that employed torture in order to increase chances of extracting information from him, according to the petition's description of the memo.
What's that you said Condi? I don't think I heard you correctly...
"It is against U.S. law to be involved in torture or conspiracy to commit torture," Ms. Rice said. "And it is also against U.S. international obligations."
December 06, 2005
"And if you don't like my answer, I'm gonna fly down there and rip your freakin' eyes out."
QUESTION: By your silence on the underlying question of whether the secret (CIA torture) sites actually exist this morning, many people will conclude that they do or that, if the answer was no, that you would have said so or someone would have said so by now. Do you think that your taking this -- sort of taking it to the Europeans, as you did this morning, will be sufficient or will the questions continue?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, whether -- whatever the answer is, I wouldn't comment because whether or not we engage in certain activities is a matter of classification because they're intelligence activities, so it wouldn't matter what the answer is; I wouldn't comment. And people should understand that. I assume other countries don't comment on intelligence activities and we're not going to comment on intelligence activities. I'm not going to compromise intelligence activities that have a chance to save lives and therefore no one should assume that a yes or no answer would have been made whether or not we were engaging in activities of this kind.
"Sure, we all want what's best for our kids, but let's face the truth: not every child can grow up to be Einstein! At The Baby Bush Toy Company, we offer an exciting range of products for the resoundingly average child."More Baby Bush Toys can be found here.
"Indeed, the most important reason for our involvement in Iraq -- despite the costs -- and they’re considerable -- is often overlooked. It is not only about building democracy, although democracies tend to be peaceful and prosperous and are in and of themselves good things to be sure. And it’s not only about reopening Iraqi schools, hospitals or rebuilding infrastructure, though they are proceeding apace and these things are desirable and ultimately essential to stability in that country.Rummy also tried to prove how well we're doing in Iraq by sort of quoting "a distinguished academician":
But, simply put, defeating extremist aspirations in Iraq is essential to protecting the lives of the American people."
"I don’t have the exact quote so I won’t name him, (but he) said something to the effect that the situation in Iraq is terrible, and it’s never been better."Go USA! Rah, Rah, Rah!
Stephen Pizzo at AlterNet has the only reasonable explanation for the lunacy that comes out of Rummy's mouth: He truly is mad, as in he's fucking MENTAL:
Don got so nutty during his weekly news conference last week that Joint Chiefs head, General Pace, had to reel him in; not once, but twice. The first time was when Pace used the accepted term, "insurgents," to describe the indigenous fighters in Iraq.
Rumsfeld interrupted, waving both hands over his head, to announce that over the weekend he had had an epiphany. We've been using the wrong term entirely to describe the Iraqis killing our troops over there, he pronounced from on high. They are not "insurgents," they are "Enemies of the Legally Elected Iraqi Government," or EOLEIGs. (Guess we know now why Donald never made it as a corporate jingle writer.)
Now ask yourself, what kind of person but a nut, would make such a pronouncement at a time when American kids are being blown up by the dozen each week? And to do so with such pompous grandiosity, on TV, and to cynical, hard-boiled reporters! Only a madman, a person so deeply confused in his own mind that he thinks his absurd ruling actually is contributing to a solution.
December 05, 2005
But in case you haven't heard:
A Texas judge dismissed part of a criminal indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Monday, but upheld other charges that will put the powerful Republican lawmaker on trial for money laundering.You knew something was gonna wipe that smile off his face...