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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chicks and Dudes

Charles: I can't believe she is on a date.
Zach: i' m sorry
Zach: i can't believe it's not butter


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Roller Coaster Virginity

Belmont Park’s New Beach Blaster Touches Writer’s No-No Spot.

The safety harness is one of those over-the-top, strap-you-in, this-is-all-that-stands-between-you-and-flying-through-the-air-into-the-cotton-candy-vendor types. Prior to being clamped down, it blocked my direct line of sight. Upon gazing downward, only the toothpick legs of three pre-teen girls dangled, too short to even touch the bottom of the ride that was about to hurdle all of us through the air. They seemed giddy. What were they thinking of me, or at least what they saw—some hairy Jewish legs long enough to be firmly planted on the solid Earth below? Pedophile? Perhaps. At the very least, someone Mom told us to stay away from--the lonely roller coaster rider.
Prior to Friday’s trip to Belmont Park, the punctuation mark at the end of Pacific Beach, marking the beginning of the man-made monstrosity that is Mission Beach--I was a roller coaster virgin. Despite growing up near Santa Cruz’s famed Beach Boardwalk (a larger, and less sanitary version of Belmont Park) and a smattering of Northern California amusement parks, the experience of riding a rollercoaster eluded me. Much like heroine and bondage, any benefit to be gained from roller coasters always seemed…well…too much trouble. There are certain activities one is suppose to experience at certain ages. Drinking? 16ish. Rollercoasters? 12, I’d say. But what happens when you are 21? You can’t very well go for the first time at that point—you should keep the streak alive, making your lack of experience a point of uniqueness and eccentricity.
Belmont Park is certainly worth the trip. Smelling of an ideal carnival (cotton candy and popcorn, with workers who are friendly and freshly bathed, unlike those I recall from my youth) it is a delightful, truly family friendly park open to all. While rides cost between three and five dollars, the games and treats are a nice change from the beach it borders. Re-opened by the same folks who run the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in 1990, Belmont has since added more rides for the older set to go along with its famed Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster. The machine chosen to end my streak of amusement chastity was the Beach Blaster (insert pithy sex joke here). Opened as of May 27th, the ride was described as “unfinished” by Belmont’s General Manager, Wendy Craine. “Unfinished”, I informed her, is an unfortunate choice of adjectives for a rollercoaster—I would not drive an unfinished car, nor fly on an unfinished plane. She assured me all of the important aspects of the ride were in fact finished—the cosmetic touches were all that was lacking. Seeming more upstanding than your run of the mill carnie, I careless placed my life in the hands of her newly purchased ride, ready to do what it may to me after I was strapped into her unfinished machine of doom.
What happened next is, literally a blur. Not exactly a roller coaster, imagine your body as a cantaloupe placed in a plastic supermarket bag. Then swing the bag around in circles, being careless about the direction or speed, and certainly the cantaloupe. That is the Beach Blaster. I contend I am no longer a roller coaster virgin. While I may not have had the typical, missionary style, classic first time experience, certainly I left something at the Beach Blaster last Friday—and if I were you, I certainly wouldn’t sit in the seat three in from the right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No One Likes a Dirty Hipster

Finally, thankfully, the hipster generation is over. The end really began with their adoption of the trucker hat--such an absurd, obnoxious, over the top symbol of cool was just too much of a reach. Yet the last gasp of those trying-to-hard lost youth rambling about Brooklyn drinking 2 Pabst Blue Ribbons a night was Conor Oberst, aka "Bright Eyes". He made every music publication cover in one week, had the #1 and #2 single, and was the basket into which the hipsters put all of their eggs. They thought they had their Dylan, finally a voice for their (quickly) aging generation, a group that was approaching 28, that age when one needs to find a job and a life. Parading around playing dress-up and bar hopping was no longer acceptable--the kids had their chance and they failed. No political, social or cultural icon or product emerged from their insular world, except perhaps a growing rift between urban youth and the rural Oberst, however, represented of them who made it big and--or so they thought--would legitimize their society (which, by the way, is now 40% off at Urban Outfitters).

Few stars in recent memory burned out as fast as Bright Eyes. His albums, with titles as absurd as, "Bowl of Oranges", were emo ad absurdum. It had no reason to be taken seriously as a political statement--Oberst's political diddies were little more than whiny repetitions of liberal insults. Most importantly, Oberst and his music were the culmination of the hipster's biggest flaw--the inability to laugh at one's self. Rarely does one here a hipster jokingly insult another, indeed doing so would really hurt their feelings and would warrant another session of therapy. This is not a knock against therapy--certainly many of the finest cultural icons could have benefitted from quite a bit of it. No, it is a knock against the hipster's choice to be self indulgent, to discuss not just one's emotions but one's problems with the world, to (as Oberst does) yell, "I have problems!" and expect pity from others.

What my generation--a bit younger than the hipsters and hopefully wiser--will be remembered is yet another incarnation of the critic. Jaded by both the greed of the roaring 90's and the "anti-greed" of the hipsters (who in fact lived with the safety net of Daddy's credit card--while not a trust fund, at least base security in case shit really did hit the fan) we question conservatives and liberals, rich and poor, lazy and ambitious alike. Our spokesman is Jon Stewart and his ilk--a man who hipsters applaud for his liberalism while we applaud for his humor. And, unlike the hipsters, as Stewart grows more serious so do we. Finally I feel inclined to give the Brooklyn set their so desired pity--they never had such a cultural barometer to mock them, to tell them their trucker hats or vintage t-shirts were absurd and silly. No, they never had anyone to tell them to get a clue, and the result was their society spiralling ever downward into the world of the absurdly self indulgent. The closest thing they had was Ashton Kutcher, and they still didn't learn they need to marry rich.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Used to Smoke and Drink and Dance the Hootchie Coo...

This would be a hoot if it wasn't so damn heart-breaking. A man has an affair with a Portland woman, resulting in her pregnancy. He immediately breaks off the relationship because it certainly will affect his career. The child has severe medical problems, and while he receives housing and living expenses from his job, his own personal salary is minimal--thus, he is ordered to pay the woman a mere $300 a month--as she is unemployed, this amount does not cover the expense of raising a child, let alone one with medical issues. He has no obligation, according to the court, to find other, more gainful employment to support his offspring, and his employer refuses to assist the woman because of her irresponsibility in failing to properly use "birth control". This last point would be appaling, and certainly is something one would expect a church whose official stance against birth control to find objectional. Unless, of course, the employer making the argument was the Roman Catholic Church and its employee was a priest quickly moving up the church hierarchy.

Refusing to even provide the child with the same health insurance offered to the father-priest, the mother, Stephanie Collopy, is forced to live in dire poverty and care for a constantly sick son. The church, again, has shown its true colors as a bureaucratic, hypocritical organization whose mantra is little more than preserving moral superiority and protecting the images of its employees through cover-ups. The dead beat dad/priest, Arturo Uribe, is pastor of a parish with more than 4,000 members and an average weekly collection of over $12,000--little of which goes to care for the man's child. Uribe pays nothing to Collopy--indeed, his special he-man-woman-hater-esqu club, The Redemptionists, pay the measely court-ordered $300 per month. How can such a man wake up each day and claim to serve a higher power, without providing for and accepting the consequences of his own actions? If God's work begins at home, a man who has abandon his (and those who facilitate his continued hypocritical employment) certainly has a special place reserved for him.

LA Times Article: Priest and Son, Bound by Poverty.

Contact St. Mary's Church of Whittier, Uribe's parish, here.
Big ups to The Band for the post's title--a good mockery of the savers of souls found on their Moondog Matinee Album.


Christian Edited Family Friendly Movies. Make sure your speakers are up to listen to the lady talking about Hollywood's evil agenda to indoctrinate your children. They claim "No Gore", and I signed up just to see exactly what scenes were left in The Passion of the Christ. While their ad says, "No offense Hollywood, but we control the content," I suspect the original version stated, "Oh Snap Harvey Weinstein! What now that Rene Zelwegger's funbags aren't in this movie, bitch?!" OK, maybe they left out the "bitch" part. But you get the point.

Make sure to listen closely, as "It's All The Jew's Fault" is subliminally whispered by Charlton Heston in the background--I missed it the first time.

Anything But LA

Another of today's LA Times op-ed pieces blasts San Diego for resisting admitting its place as a major urban center by actually paying attention to politics. While I disagree with the Times piece--it really is politics that got us into this mess (if city councilmen hadn't caved to union interests and taken bribes from strip club owners...) and the Times gives little explanation as to how politics can get us out of it. The article provides an interesting history of San Diego as an urban center none the less, although hopefull by 'growing up' America's finest city doesn't turn into...well...Los Angeles...
"San Diego Must Grow Up" says LA Times

Steve Erie: Holla At Your Boy

UCSD Poli Sci department's own Steve Erie has a delightful piece ripping the San Diego political debacle in today's LA Times. Holla.
Steve Erie's LA Times Op-Ed.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Prarie Home Companion

Nostalgia is far too intoxicating to be invoked lightly. Feelings of loss and sadness for things past (or, perhaps, things we never actually knew) always accompany what reassurance it offers. Garrison Kiellor's Prarie Home Companion seems to be morphing into a show more concerned with its past than its present, replaying tired bits that are neither timely nor funny--an entity laden with nostalgia yet short on the with and humor that made it great. As the NY Times reports, Kiellor is creating a semi-autobiogrpahical film about a failing public radio show, directed by Robert Altman. Certainly if Prairie Home Companion is having trouble with ratings it is not a lack of old white people--those seem to be at an all-time high. Rather, the show feels old--the music is still good, so are the sound effects--something is missing. Call it the corporatization of Lake Wobegon.

Lake Wobegon--the fictional home town of Kiellor--is a place "where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." Each week Kiellor offers the News from Lake Wobegon, including the latest happenings of the Whippets Baseball team, Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery and Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Parish. Unlike the nostalgic towns recently portrayed--the ones most recently in those black and white Visa commercials in which everything ends up just hunky doory and before that that the better than expected film Pleasantville--things go humorously awry in Lake Wobegon. The Whippets lose, snow mobiles topple, yet the emotions evoked--compassion, family, and most of all a sense of home (certainly a cliched description and one which does not do Kieler's Wobegon justice)--are the same.

It can be argued the death of Lake Wobegon began September 30th 1998. Albany Jaycees, a Minnesotan with far too much time, designed the Lake Wobegon Trails, 46 miles worth of them. Many have gone in search of Lake Wobegon, but the charm and magic of Kiellor's hamlet resides in its ephermal existence--what's the point of the end of the rainbow if we can go hike through it anytime we please? Yet Jaycees' best of intentions created the Wobegon Trails that day, giving a physicality and all that comes with it to Kiellor's world. Debates about snow mobile paths, rules, governing bodies, and funding ensued. Perhaps to blame Jaycees is the end of an attempt to find a scapegoat--how much does naming a park or a town or a field of poppies "Oz" really detract from the movie? These efforts aren't even for commercial gain--indeed, creating public trails probably produced some sort of social good.

The Lake Wobegon Trails, Kiellor's movie and the overall tone of Prairie Home Companion are indicative of a show whose time has passed. They each are manifestations--by Jaycee, Altman, and Kiellor himself--Prairie Home Companion's new role as a show which was, and a show upon which these individuals now reflect. They turned it into a piece of nostalgia, rather than a vehicle which humor was derived from nostalgia. Lake Wobegon was a place that existed, yet we knew this funny land could not be reached--it had its problems, but they were only the humorous kind. The Whippets may have lost, but at least they didn't have to deal with snow mobile regulatory committees.

Saturday's Song of the Day

Unlike those who adhere to dogma or party talking points, I am quite certain many of my beliefs are wrong. Unfortunately, I just don't know which ones yet. That said, Lucero is the greatest band in the world, so today's Saturday Song of the Day is Drink Till We're Gone off their self titled album from a few years back.
Life is short, in spite of your plans, so tell the girls they're pretty while you can. One day they're gone and all you got left are some empty bottles and an old country song that plays on and on.

SD Citybeat Review
Albums Here
Lucero Lyrics

I Got Soul but I'm Not a Soldier...

To the left, you see a picture of Geraldo Rivera. As I embark upon my new career as a journalist, I aspire to achieve the reputation for integrity and honesty which Mr. Rivera has and to grow a mustache of Chelsea proportions. It's a very slow news day.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Laurel and Hardy are at it again

With the president playing the straight man and Barbara (the old one) reeling in the laughs, this unstoppable comedic force hit Atlanta today to punch up support for Bush's "Senior" security plan. With such lines as, "She's still telling me what to do," and she's, "my favorite senior citizen," the duo had the crowd in stiches. Things really went down hill though as Barbara approached the rope line, immediately morphing into He Who Has No Name and devoured the fetus of a pregnant woman in the front row.

Article Here

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Buy Your Own Continent!

Check out this ridiculous project being developed off the coast of Dubai. A creation of Al Nakheel Properties, this massive $1.8 billion endeavour is designed to be a mini replica of the actual earth composed of hundreds of tiny islands. These islands are soon to be available for private purchase and if your bankroll looks something like P. Diddy's, you might be able to pick up your very own Bangladesh. While wildlife activists are enraged at the amount of damage to flora and fauna that the project is causing, most people don't seem to care because of how freaking cool it looks.

At least they're not in prison...

Sudanese thugs working for the nation's despotic president roughed up Andrea Mitchell and her camera crew, as well as members of Condi Rice's entourage during the Secretary of State's visit to the country today. Not to compare Patrick Fitzgerald to the Sudanese president's security forces, but at least Mitchell won't be spending the evening as someones bitch.

Reinforcing Stereotypes...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

MegaConference Update

Jerry Falwell has done it again. As we speak, literally tens of people are attending his "2005 Creation Mega-Conference". The point of the Mega-Conference, you ask? Could it be another forum for Falwell to blame the queers for 9/11? Or perhaps he is using the podium to hope for the end of public schools, and the goal of turning all public schools into Christian institutions? Could he be arguing AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuals and a society that "tolerates" them? No, this time Jerry rounded up a few quacks--two with actual PhD's in biology (and one with a PhD in molecular genetics) who are shilling for "creationism" and "intelligent design".

Before we get too far, it should be noted, religion's cool by me. Whatever gets you through the night, I say. Alas, these folks take things a bit to far. The whole "everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus burning in the fiery pits of hell" talk is a total bummer--for me Satan's Lava Land is understandable--maybe even for my family--but for Ghandi? You're telling me Eric Rudolph, murderer of innocent folks in Atlanta and abortion doctors alike, is going to be getting a suite at the Bellagio in the Sky, and Sandy Koufax is going to be exposed to massive amounts of UV Radiation? I'll take even a Godless world over that, thank you very much.

While Falwell and his gang of religious zealots attack affirmative action, he and David Horowitz are attempting to apply the practice to the arena of ideas. So few actual scientist buy this nonsense, yet Falwell still feels his ideas--deemed unqualified by all but two or three scientists in the world--should receive equal time in schools. I truly wanted to attend the conference, but unfortunately JetBlue doesn't Lynchburg (LYNCHBURG?), Virginia.

Now, onto our color coded chart. Here are some folks watching some sort of presentation at the Creationist MegaConference. Using technology even John Madden would be envious of, between the white folks in red (sleeping), white folks in green (probably sleeping), white folks in yellow (looking at God knows what), and white folks in light blue (look at those mustaches!), there don't seem to be too many eyes actually analysizing the arguments of the presenter. What...these people just digest and regurgitate what they are being told? It blows the mind.

Virginity Pays

Earlier posts this week expressed views critical of politicians--to put it mildly. Sometimes, though, a politician or two gets it right. Ugandan MP Sulaiman Madada is offering any girl who maintains her virginity until the completion of secondary education a full scholarship to University. Granted, Sulaiman (we're on a first name basis) could have offered the same deal to girls without being a politician, but it is an impressive decision none the less.
Reuters Aticle


Nic Harcourt has done it again. Harcourt hosts the finest music program in the country, Sounds Eclectic, on KCRW public radio Los Angeles. This week Deadman performed a fantstic live set on his show, Deadman, a trio from Texas whose songs range from country ballads to that which can only be described as a bluesy indie rock. The vocals of Steven and Sherilyn Collins complete each other. Sherilynn's voice is high and beautiful, yet lacking--a Loretta Lynn or even Dolly Parton grit is missing. Steven's singing is also too simple, and while he can usually make songs good, without Sherilynn the tunes are largely generic and easy to pass over.

Don't confuse Deadman with Theory of a Deadman--the latter is a shitty grunge rock band that showed up too late to capitalize on the early 90's Seattle scene. On the contrary, Deadman's blues/folk fusion and alt-country musings offer a mature addition to the alt-country scene.

Deadman's One Little Indian Site

Sounds Eclectic

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ukraine by the Sea

Next Tuesday San Diego chooses a new mayor, and maybe this time they'll get it right. Considering the city chose Dick Murphy (aka, America's Worst Mayor) TWICE, they can't do much worse. Toni Atkins is the city's current mayor after Murphy resigned due to sucking, and Michael Zucchet was found guilty of taking a bribe from a strip club owner. At present, Donna Frye (above) will get a plurality and go to a November run-off against former police chief Jerry Sanders, where Sanders will have the upper hand in both endorsements (San Diego Union Tribune, SD's attorney general Bonnie Dumanis, most business orgs). Make all the Yushchenko jokes you want, here's to hoping Frye can win this thing a week from today and end this nonsense.

John Roberts. Boooooooring.

Bush seems to have made the perfect choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. John Roberts is respected by nearly every Democrat and Republican in Washington, and his track record is both limited and flawless--giving little ammunition to Harry Reid and company. Although it seems he will destroy abortion rights, he will do it using outstanding prose and rhetorical flair only a Harvard/Harvard Law education can provide. Unlike a more controversial pick (here's looking to you Roy Moore), unless John Roberts Borked an intern (should I say 'Thomased'?) the confirmation hearings are going to be a real snoozefest.

Center for American Progress

This is a continuation of yesterday's post about John Podesta's appearance on Meet the Press and his organization, the Center for American Progress. Podesta, who took the job of running Clinton's White House during the Lewinsky scandal, is using his Center for American Progress to bring the "CrossFire" concept of debate--yelling, lying, and general hackery--to universities across the country. Who exactly is to blame for starting this type of discourse is of little concern--whether Sean Hannity or Paul Begala was the first to make outrageous, headline grabbing claims with little to no evidence gives neither the moral high ground. That said, Podesta is going to absurd lengths to give his effort credibility. Campuses are historically liberal, yet they are at least arenas where discourse and dialogue can occur. Even if the debates on campuses are slanted left, evidence and logic trump blind adherence to the party line. Podesta, however, is doing his best to change that. Sure, versions of his efforts exist on the right and are no better--Young America Foundation, the Reagan Ranch, etc. all encourage faith over questioning, allegiance over reason. Yet these groups are marginalized by their inability to be effectual on campuses--they operate primarily off-campus, organizing brainwashing retreats where students can hear Ann Coulter and Hannity rant about the topic of the day. On the contrary, Podesta aims to bring the destructive and detrimental Washington political tone to campuses, under the guise of combating conservative political movements which are sweeping American campuses.

Let's dissect that last statement. If Podesta granted the fact that liberal political views were prominent on university campuses, his efforts would be seen for what they are--an attempt to breed a legion of frothing partisan hacks. Rather, by claiming he is reacting to a rising tide of conservative activism on campus he can claim to merely be combating something conservatives started--using the "He Started It" logic. The real problem here is that Podesta is not an academic--he has no interest in furthering the aims or ideals of the academia. He wishes to twist it for his own political advantage. These same critiques can be aimed at conservative organizations doing the same thing, yet the efforts of the Center for American Progress are especially worrisome because of the gullibility of undergraduates. Conservatives are limited in their ability to create a partisan atmosphere on campus because of the countervailing liberal slant of universities. Parading as intellectuals, Podesta and his ilk are attempting to use the movements built by great professors who happen to be liberal for political gain, turning students into partisans and increasing the already deafening tone of hackish rants into which political discourse has devolved. His colleagues on the right and left wish to turn the ivory tower into another version of some cable channel "debate show", in which students must pick their team and then regurgitate the party line. No matter how liberal, no professor of mine ever encouraged an endeavor so obviously detrimental to the academic process.

Donald Rumsfeld still has a job.

Another friendly reminder from Head East: Donald Rumsfeld is still the secretary of defense.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Mayoral Gong Show

San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy was elected last November and, without any legal pressure or scandal-laden reason, he said resigned in March. While he royally fucked the city by under funding (along with the city council) the city's pension plan and played some cute games with how the November ballots were counted, his reason for retiring can be summed up as being tired of being called the 'worst mayor in the country', as numerous news outlets dubbed him. He resigned Friday, and City Councilman Michael Zucchet took over as acting mayor until the special election later this month. Zucchet lasted approximately 5 hours in office, until he was FOUND GUILTY OF ACCEPTING BRIBES FROM A STRIP CLUB. Let me repeat that. HE WAS MAYOR FOR FIVE HOURS AND THEN FOUND GUILTY OF ACCEPTING BRIBES FROM A STRIP CLUB. Along with Councilman Ralph Inzunza who was convicted of 12 felony counts, Zucchet was convicted of 9 felony counts and will resign. The new mayor is still unknown, and the process for choosing one seems to be rather complicated as no one planned for a mayor resigning because he is a screw-up, then another guy being found guilty of taking bribes from a strip club owner all in the span of one business day. If this nonsense fails to give credence to my last post, I'm not sure what will.

SD UT Article

AP's assessment

Podesta Mehlman and Rove, Oh My!

I was hoping to post some humorous rant about the ESPY Awards, my Saturday evening on the town with some friends from high school San Francisco, or the Ying-Yang Twins new album…ok, maybe not the Ying Yang Twins’ new album (although I’ve only heard good things from NPR about United States of Atlanta). Yet the appearance of John Podesta and Ken Melman on Meet the Press yesterday was simply too unbelievable and nauseating to ignore. It’s Scott McClellan’s job to make shit up, and frankly you’ve got to feel sorry for the little guy after he was lied to by Karl Rove (‘Oh, no Scotty, I never would mention the name of a political enemy’s wife to discredit his accurate and truthful findings which contradicted the nonsense Condi and I cooked up in Dick’s bunker to invade Iraq’). But GOP Chair Mehlman’s litany of absurd distortions--from claiming of course if the roles were reversed and someone in the Clinton admin would have pulled a Rove and leaked a CIA operative’s name, the GOP certainly would not be calling for their resignation, to stating Scott McClellan would really love to reporters but because he’s a great American he simply won’t comment on an ongoing investigation—were sickening to the point of being impressive. The best part of the interview occurred when Russert pinned Mehlman after Kenny stated his complete confidence in the government’s special prosecutor investigating the leak, John Fitzgerald. Russert inquired as to whether, due to his complete confidence in Fitzgerald, Mehlman would back any indictments or charges Fitzgerald files. Mehlman’s response was comic—despite a line of questioning that could not be more direct, he failed to provide Russert with a straight answer. This is the man who runs the party which dominates every branch of government—thankfully, Russert made him look like a fool. If such intellectual and inquisitional domination could be backed by the same coercive force the Bush administration may exercise, we would be in much better shape.

My lack of political affiliation stems from a deep distrust of politicians—all politicians. If I do not appreciate a friend, significant other, parent, teacher, or boss telling me what to do under coercive threat, a stranger who desires taking away such freedoms is usually little more than a thief. Mehlman and Podesta personified this perfectly—they wield great power and somehow are of a high social standing garnering respect, yet unlike actual politicians they didn’t even have to gain public trust (as misguided as it often is) through a democratic vote. Mehlman’s legacy is still unknown, as the outcome in Iraq and the recovering American economy may color the Bush presidency in a positive light. Yet if his performance on Meet the Press is any indication, his future holds—at best—a Begala-esque turn on Crossfire. John Podesta certainly fared much better than Mehlman simply due his ability to attack rather than defend the egregious actions of Karl Rove. Podesta, however, was the wrong man to go on the offensive about the “character” of one who lies—and certainly looked out of place making accusations about Rove lacking “honor” because he is not stepping down from his post. Podesta currently runs the liberal Center for American Progress, a group whose focus recently has turned to increasing Liberalism (not liberalism) on campus. This may seem absurd--anyone who has spent anytime on a college campus, regardless of their political affiliation, knows the ivory tower is, for better or worse, a bastion of liberal thought. Every professor I had at UC San Diego was notably liberal, yet it is important to note this did not affect any of their teaching performances. A Bush joke here or there was the worst of it--even in political science and political theory however, not once did I encounter a professor hostile to more conservative political view despite each and every professor I took courses from being very liberal. Indeed, the attempts of the Center for American Progress to radicalize campus politics and churn out partisan hacks in the Podesta/Begala mold is more detrimental to higher education than a few conservative professors--a lack of free thought and adherence to the party line cannot be more beneficial for students than the thought of hearing a Nancy Pelosi joke once in a while.

Podesta’s other claim to fame is overseeing the Clinton white house in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal, and his continued service after Clinton’s amazing testimony (“that depends on what your definition of is is.”) shows his acceptance to leech off the teat of the American public as chief of staff for a man for whom truth is always malleable and—often—an allergen. Podesta’s comments on Meet the Press, especially calling for Rove’s resignation, rang hollow coming from a man whose professional relationship truth is at best tenuous. Remaining in the employment of a team leader at Wal-Mart who is a liar and a womanizer is understandable, as the employee has a family of five to feed. I do not know the immediate and material concern—other than a lust for and love of power—which would cause Mr. Podesta to remain in the employment of such a man such as Bill Clinton.

Critics may charge such a view of politics—and politicians—is naive. Living in California—and exclusively metropolitan areas—federal policy decisions have little impact upon my life, thus a critical view of politics as a profession is a convenience not afforded to many in America. Federal policies certainly reverberate to local levels, and politicians—especially those in the executive branch—receive Bennifer-like media coverage. Somehow their exploits are deemed more intellectual than those of Paris Hilton, yet rewarding friends and bashing enemies seems as praiseworthy—and significantly less stimulating—than creating a home-made porn.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ray Lamontage Article

A few weeks back I did an interview with Ray Lamontagne, a fantastic sing/songwriter who's album Trouble is one of the best and most original works to come out in the past year. For those who missed it in the CityBeat, see below.

A New England Story-Teller for a New Generation
By Charles Dahan

Ray Lamontagne built a cabin in the backwoods of Maine while working in a shoe factory, mired in a deep, life questioning depression. He awoke to Stephen Still’s, “Treetop Flier” one morning five years ago and without any musical experience decided to become folk singer, trained only by listening to the great American songwriters of the 1960’s and 70’s. He made a demo, a record label bidding war ensued, and produced the most beautiful record of the past nine months. Lamontagne describes the process of becoming a musician as simply, “Actively listen[ing] to records. Music never played a big part in my life up until that point. I didn’t just drop anything and start singing I just kept records. Slowly over a period of about four years or so I started writing my own songs, until about ’99 when I made my own set of demos. It was gradual…I always liked to draw, to sketch from life and so on. I didn’t have much of an artistic outlet really.”
Released last September, Lamontagne’s “Trouble” is largely personal and primarily the album of a storyteller versed more in life than crafting musical hits—the narrative is never compromised for the sake of making a more marketable song. Working with Ethan Johns—producer, performer of countless instruments, and engineer for Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Leona Naess, The Jayhawks and Counting Crows—Lamontage created an album that is unlike anything of the past few years. Rolling Stone’s description of him as a ‘backwoods Van Morrison’ is close—he certainly evokes the same heart-felt, folksy feeling with acoustic instrumentation and succinct personal lyrics often presented as a dialogue. Yet Lamontagne says he never listened to a Morrison record until after his album was completed, and “Trouble” is much more intimate than any of Morrison’s albums. Lamontagne is not protected by the whaling, all-out vocals that leave one awed by Morrison’s vocal range and talent. Where Morrison blows you away with the power of his voice, Lamontagne shows vulnerability and pulls the listener in with vocals that are often almost a whisper. Van’s best albums—“Moondance” and “His Band and the Street Choir” of 1970 and ’71 respectively—offer songs which are reminiscent of gospel hymns, blasting the pain and suffering of life out of his body. Lamontagne invites you to listen to him read his diary—although he does so tentatively, as he isn’t sure about the whole endeavor. Performing is a way for Lamontagne to breathe life into his tales, the natural culmination of nurturing his musical and writing talent. “I just got to a point where singing in my bedroom on my porch wasn’t enough. I needed an audience to make the songs real. Even then, I never thought about being able to make a living at it—even more than that I felt like I needed to do it…Singing is just therapeutic. It just gets that stuff inside trying to kill you, it gets it all out.”
The album’s first single of the same name received radio play earlier this year, but its lyrics were certainly the tamest and its melody the most consumer friendly. The song—a generic lament—did not show the greatness of Lamontagne. While he sounds more vocally confident and the song “Trouble” is more refined than the others on the album (although with the impeccable team assembled to ensure the album’s success, there are few if any miscues) it lacks the intimacy found on songs such as “Burn”. A near perfect expression of watching an ex-lover in the arms of another, Lamontagne’s “Burn” tells us that, “To see you now with him/is just making me mad/Oh so kiss him again/just to prove to me that you can/and I will stand here and burn in my skin.” Such a statement is emotionless—yet through a mere description of events, Lamontagne separates himself from the modern emo-crap as a true storyteller in the tradition of Dylan and Stephen Stills.
A collaboration with Nickel Creek’s Sara Watson produces the album’s climax, ‘Hannah’, blending the life experiences and pain of Lamontagne with the youthful exuberance and technical brilliance of Watson. A tale of courtship, ‘Hannah’ is the most complete story Lamontagne tells, chronicling both the biography of the woman he is pursuing and the personal demons he will abandon if she does come to him. Like most of Lamontagne’s brief career, the collaboration with Watson seems to be more than chance. “It was just a fluke. We were deep at night working on the record and Sara and her brother have a monthly thing at Largo in LA…We went down and listened to them play and went up and played a couple songs. As we were leaving I said to Ethan, ‘Why don’t we see if Sara wants to come in tomorrow and try something.’ He ran back in and came back out and said she’d be there at 10 o’clock and that was it. She showed up and it was really just very spur of the moment—she’s so quick it didn’t take any time at all. I don’t like to do anymore than two or three takes and sat down and did it quickly. She’s so talented…as a musician she’s just amazing.” “Trouble” is the best album this reviewer has heard all year, matching beautiful, personal lyrics with Lamontagne’s intimate voice and Johns’ amazing knack for making the albums of great songwriters both accessible ensures the deep, dark places Lamontagne takes us are balanced by hope and triumph.
The ability to pick nearly everyone he works with—from producers to his label—has created a rare positive relationship between artist and record company. Lamontagne has been on the road—leaving his family and his beloved Maine—nearly constantly for the past year. “I started touring six months before the record came out, on my own just driving myself around, getting myself to the plane and the hotel. We haven’t really stopped since then. There will be a break of a week, sometimes two weeks, but I’ve been touring pretty steady since last May.” Lamontagne will complete his solo tour—which includes a July 16th performance at the House of Blues in downtown San Diego—in August, and will open for Dave Matthews Band later this month.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Longs. Worst Wingman Ever.

Today, I officially declare my hatred for the Longs Drugstore franchise. Let me explain. This morning I decided to go buy some deodorant since I had ran out two weeks ago and was using Febreeze on my underarms to mask the offensive smell. So I was casually strolling down the hygiene aisle deciding if it was worth it to pay an extra dollar for Right Guard's odor-fighting power capsules that I think are really just misplaced green sprinkles. Suddenly I ran into one of Long's little signs they put up near sale items saying "Need it?" which I used to kind of appreciate. Typically I'd be walking down an aisle and would see "Need it?" next to a bar of soap and I'd usually go, "Hmm. Yes, I do need some soap. Some soap would be quite nice". So as an unemployed 21-year old male who can barely operate a microwave, I was grateful for the friendly reminder that I did need amenities like shampoo and contact solution. However, today the line was crossed. After passing the deodorants I looked up and saw a "Need it?" sign pointing to a box of condoms. Well as someone who never has sex, I was a little angry about this sign. Not only did that smug little sign remind me that I am not getting any, it also made me buy an extra box of kleenex and a bottle of Jergens. Simply, I feel that such a sign simply mocks the customer and provides an overall unenjoyable shopping experience. Unless of course I did need those condoms. Then I surely would've given that little grey sign a high five. I may have even bought it a beer.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

News: Alt Weekly Thursday--7.14.05

It's Alt-Weekly Thursday, so the actual news will be brief.
NY Times reports many grandparents are funding the lives of their children and grandkids. The rest of us are forced to steal Nana's teeth and hock them on eBay.

LA Times reports the Governator received $8 mil over the past 5 years from health and fitness magazines, and--completely coincidentally--vetoed a bill that would regulate supplement use in California. The leader of this fine state used steroids in the past, and he's doing fine so what's the big deal?

Oh, and everyone's looking for the ringleader behind the suicide attacks in Britain. Here's to hoping they actually get the guy and not go all Farenheit 451 on us.

The Best of the Alt-Weekly Papers for 7.14.05-7.21.05

Let's start with the mandatory plug for theSan Diego City Beat. OK, now onto matters of less import:

Seattle's The Stranger reports a the city's planned monorail is in trouble. 27 people are worried about this problem, primarily those who were planning to use the direct "Space Needle-to-Space Mountain" route. That joke was poor--my apologies.

Also in The Stranger, a
review of a new Foucault biography. We're glad these guys know their reader base--obnoxious, caffine addicted later 20-somethings who didn't get into grad school.

The Cleveland Free Times has nothing of note. Except, of course, for the
hottest alt-weekly T-Shirt model ever.
Cleveland does indeed rock.

Detroit MetroTimes features
Bikers for Jesus.Apparently no one told them they have to keep up the 'I Found Jesus' act after they are granted parole.

SF Weekly also has a Jesus article, this one not as interesting but certainly more pithy. SF Weekly also wrote the Surfjan Stevens piece I should have written, considering he's playing in San Diego Friday.

More of the best of the alt-weeklies updated throughout the day. Did we miss something? Send your recommendation to us (headeastyoungman@gmail.com)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wednesday 7.13.05 News

Oh say that you'll be true and never leave me blue Suzie Q

UPDATE (10:30AM) The National Hockey League will have a season. Canada.com rejoices.

The Brits arrested one man and declared four others died in last week's suicide attacks. The Post (story linked) gives the most details, stating the bombers were British citizens of Pakistani desce ntand the arrested man is a relative of one of the bombers. Everyone fronts with the Rove-gate--the White House continues to stonewall reporters (see the Scott McClellan coverage below)in briefings and--through Rove's attorney--claim that the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. Stating Rove only said, "Joe Wilson's Wife" and not "Valerie Plame" seems to be the best legal argument Rove's attorney can come up with...The LA Times puts the Rove atop their website, detailing how Rove held reporters hands as they wrote stories, and in the case of Matt Cooper Rove was attempting to discredit Joe Wilson by stating his trip was only given to him due to his wife's position in the CIA, not punish Wilson and Plame for their insubordination. Whichever the case, it's doubtful Rove will be seeing the wrong side of a minimum security federal pen anytime soon. Now onto the locals...

Houston Chronicle (77/94, T-storms) The Chronicle leads with the damage done to the Spaceshuttle Discovery, to launch today, due to Hurrican Dennis. Some windows were broken, but apparently no one at NASA is too concerned. After seeing what happened to the Columbia when a styrofoam egg crate fell off the side, I wouldn't be headed up in some Chevy Nova the boys down in Florida tied a rocket engine to and put some duct tape and plywood over the windows. Kylie O'Connor keeps a blog over at the Chronicle, and this weeks "You know your a Houstonian" includes all of the jokes about Houston I'd rather not make. Except you know you're a Houstonian because you fail to see the irony in Halliburton providing the medical care for your lung cancer.

Orlando Sentinel (79, T-Storms) Along with their own (more detailed) account of this afternoon's
the Sentinel tells us a British girl went into cardiac arrest after riding Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Sentinel states, The ride, which opened in 1994, simulates five minutes in an elevator gone haywire. Passengers ride in an elevator car that shoots up toward the top of a tower, then plunges back to earth in drops as steep as 13 stories. Sounds like a blast. Another job well done to the folks at Disney, especially as they receive the very first walk-of-fame star for a business(LA Times). It is now illegal to chain a dog outside in Orange County, Florida from 9am-5pm, after a dog killed a 4 year old girl last year. On a brighter note (although not from the Sentinel) a great story about Florida Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis' embrace of being a role-model. Counter that with Charles Barkley or Gary Sheffield's recent remarks and it's truly refreshing.

Birmingham Post-Herald: While the folks at the Post-Herald don't have a weather section, they are still psyched about Auburn's undefeated college football season. Yet another reason I'm pleased UC San Diego doesn't engage in such nonsense--at least the bureaucrats at UCSD got something right. The paper leads with Hurrican Dennis clean-up. Things go downhill from there--the second story is the worst written column I've ever read. Either this guy knows the editor or he's calling it in. Some gems from the article of sports columnist, Scott Adamson, about sports he doesn't like include, I don't give a rip about the Tour de France. Don't care if Lance Armstrong wins his seventh straight title, don't care if he quits midway through the event and elopes with Sheryl Crow. Both a poet and a humorist, apparently Mr. Adamson is. Another you say? I haven't watched a tennis match in 20 years, and only pay attention to the highlights when they involve Maria Sharapova...The point is, there are many of us who write sports and talk sports who — on occasion — don't have a lot of interest in what we're writing and talking about. We'll be professional enough to make you think we care, even though in our heart of hearts we don't. Maybe a lot of people don't like tennis or cycling, but to waste newsprint telling us you don't enjoy these events is rather...well...dumb...

Press-Herald of Portland, Maine (61, Overcast): The Press-Herald is one of my favorites--very dedicated local coverage, a clean website, and good writing. A bill to force ships to slow down in certain areas to protect whales appears headed for defeat. 21 Mainers are off for Iraq Finally, Maine gives $8 million to deaf students abused at the Baxter School for the Deaf Abusing deaf kids? That's a type of hardcore only Maine can handle.

The American League won the MLB All-Star game for the 8th straight year, despite the fact the Oakland A's rep Justin Duchscherer did not have the opportunity to pitch. Despite the fact the olympics ousted baseball and softball, an international competition has been organized and will begin March 3rd, involving 16 nations over 18 days. Gary Sheffield, as stated earlier, will play the Grinch in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it...

Drudge is reporting the CIA is investing heavily in Pixlogic--based in our tiny, sleepy hometown (Los Altos, CA)--which claims to have a software which recognize people in a crowd. Wait, actually it, "Does a reasonable job of matching people that sort of look alike." And that's from the company's CEO--really a strong endorsement for your product buddy. Now Emmanual Lewis will NEVER get out from under Gary Coleman's shadow.

This company needs two things: a better product and a publicist. At this rate one would expect Deep Blue Something (Who could forget their hit, 'Breakfast At Tiffany's as the apex of the non-committal 90's--"And I said "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?/She said 'I think I remember the film'/And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it/And I said 'Well, that's the one thing we've got'") is working as Pixlogic's PR firm.

Poker: Totally Not Cool

If you're still playing poker, please move to the back of the bus with the other Dungeons and Dragons dorks. I have nothing against the game--certainly it's something to do when every Magic Card shop in town is closed and your mom's Subaru Outback is on the fritz. But come on, this World Series of Poker nonsense is a bit much to handle. Nothing is less exciting to watch, because these people simply have little to nothing to lose. Rounders was great because if Matt Damon didn't win the hand against John Malkovich, Ed Norton was going to get castrated by some Russian thugs. If these dorks lose, they may have to go back to their job selling washer and dryer combos at Sears and analyzing Fantasy Football statistics on weekends, but not much else.

Most of the folks in Las Vegas this weekend were amateurs--those who had played very few actual tournaments and mostly on the internet. That's right...on the internet. Please see earlier point regarding Dungeons and Dragons. Regardless of how much money you make playing online poker, your social status does not improve by stating, "I just made a bunch of money playing online poker." As a new poker website's ads state, "Reason #15 to play online poker: Chicks Dig the Bluff." The ad includes a very sleazy looking guy in a $10 shiny collared shirt and cheap black suit who can only be described as 'greasy'--exactly what one would expect from a "cool" fellow who plays poker. "Chicks", if you "dig" this man--especially for his ability to win money in an online chat room after betting a large sum behind a duece/seven unsuited--please contact me immediately and tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Duchscher has left the building.

The All-Star game this year was very disappointing. Although fan favorite Miguel Tejada hit a homer, our hometown rep Justin Duchscherer did not get a chance to pitch. The middle reliever is having a very good season (perhaps not All-Star quality, but oh well). I ordered his All-Star jersey on eBay, making the irony even stronger. Brian Fuentes, Jason Isringhausen, Billy Wagner and Cesar Izturis did not get into the game for the NL, and Danys Baez, along with Duchscherer, did not appear for the AL. The AL won its 8th consecutive All-Star game (not including the 2002 tie), giving the American League representative home field advantage in the world series.

By the way, Mariah Carey's clothes fell off earlier today. Apparently she took the title of her latest LP, "The Emancipation of Mimi", a little too seriously. (Ba dum ching)

Not on our wishlist...

Reading this afternoon's NY Times style column, regarding Louis XIV's ability to still dictate fashion, I was given the opportunity to purchase this lovely turtleneck. If anyone knows exactly when turtlenecks were "in"...let alone one with the Times logo (for $30 + S&H no less), please let me know. Granted, my wardrobe isn't exactly something to boast about so this could be a step up.

Tuesday 7.12.05 News

UPDATE: (10AM PT)After a wolf (yes, a wolf) delayed the start of the 10th stage of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong decided he'd like to wear the yellow jersey now and pulled away to open a 38 second lead. Unbelievable. You almost feel bad for the French--the most popular sporting event in their nation has been monopolized by a Texan for the past 7 years, and we here in the states hardly blink. Unless, of course, we can be trendy by wearing a yellow bracelet. If he really isn't juicing--as all of the French claim--we are witnessing the most remarkable sports story of our time.
Another reason they hate us...

"Just about a year ago, I set out on the road. Seeking my fame and fortune, looking for a pot of gold. Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you know the tune. Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again"

The most interesting development is the Times leading with an all-out assault on Karl Rove and the administration regarding the Plame scandal. With regular NYT front-pager Judith Miller in jail, the paper of record put Richard Stevenson--just back from covering the G8--on the case of turning the 2 year old Joe Wilson debacle into a full-blown scandal. It seems Bush is a day late in announcing his supreme court nomination--certainly doing so yesterday would have moved the story (and what appears to be Rove's career) from above the fold. He didn't and now, at least in the Times (with most other papers sure to follow) the momentum he gained from the G8 summit and his solidarity with Blair after the London attacks is sure to slip. See the WH Press Corp's tar and feathering of Scott McClellan below (he sure is now Ari). Everyone fronts with the Brit's disclosure that military style explosives were used in last Friday's attacks, and the death toll from the bombings reached 51 as of this morning. The LA Times leads with the news that WellPoint, the nation's largest medical insurer, will cover all procedures deemend necessary by a physician. What, exactly, a doctor can diagnose in under 5 minutes is unclear, but at least its a start. In an interesting sports story reported by the LA Times, Major League Baseball will hold an international tournament in 2006, after being snubbed (along with softball) by the olympics for the 2008 games as was announced last week. Now onto the local news in today's Pacific Northwest edition...

Seattle Times (Cloudy, 66): Three climbers died in the North Cascade mountain range, and one other was injured after a rock slide. The three survivors--two uninjured--were helicoptered out of the region. To women were shot to death on Washington's I-5 after an apparent case of road rage. Oh, and a Seattle priest was removed by the Vatican after touching little boys. With news like this, no wonder Seattlites don't care enough about Karl Rove ruining the 1st amendment to put it on the front page.

Idaho Statesman (Clear, 86) A beautiful day in Boise. Florists report rising gas prices are hurting their business. A scary man (apparently the Statesman's "Outdoor" columnist) reports on unpaved roads. Someone shot a guy in Meridian, Idaho. The deceased asked police not press charges, as he is pleased to be out of Meridian, Idaho.

Dillon Tribune (Dillon, Montana: Clear, 88) Ah, Beaverhead County, it has been too long. I love any newspaper which lists "Obituaries" more prominently than "News". That said, the paper combines the two as it leads with The Dillon Hantavirus Epidemic. Four people have contracted mice-borne hantavirus in Beaverhead county. Nothing kills tourism like hantavirus.

Vancouver Sun (Partly Sunny, 20 Degrees Celcius?!?) I visited Vancouver in March and their newspapers simply have nothing to report. It's amazing--no murders, no rapes, nothing. Some crazy congresswoman--or their version of such a person--set a plastic W. figurine ablaze, and that was their version of Watergate. It's the complete opposite of Los Angeles--which means it's heaven. A trashwar seems imminent in southern British Columbia as no one seems to want to build a new dump. As my high school history teacher would say, "This is a case of NIMBY". Old Mr. S also use to say, "Shut up kids" when no one was talking, but he was a crazy old bat to begin with. In this case though, he'd be right (on both accounts)--a new landfill site can't get approval, and it looks like things are going to get stinky in Vancouver. Hey, guys, what about Nunavut?

And that's your news--have a good one, we'll be back with updates this afternoon. For those of you in Seattle, read one of the better Onion articles of late. The Onion was in a rut, regurgitating Bush (and its own) jokes for a while, but this story of a hamster and a remote control truck is superb. Don't forget to watch the MLB All-Star game tonight from Comerica Park.

Monday, July 11, 2005

WH Press Corp has Judy's Back

Of all the folks in Washington, the White House Press Corp is not the most intimidating bunch. At the very least, I wouldn't want them to be my posse in a fight against some of those nasty K Street interns...I mean the guys those nasty K Street interns have their daddies buy them...anyway, since Karl Rove got greedy and opened his mouth and lied to everyone (including WH Spokesman Scott McClellan) the press corp is doing a mighty fine job of defending Judith Miller's honor. I would pepper this column with "Carl Cameron in the Hizzouse" references, but I feel the WHPC hasn't quite obtained that level of legitimacy. Well, at least since Helen Thomas left.
You almost feel sorry for Scott, considering I always stood by the "don't shoot the messanger" credo. But at times like these, the WH Press Corp will take a public flogging of just about anyone above no public flogging at all. The most riveting CSPAN footage you'll see in a while here, courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

October 10th 2003: "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. Those individuals [Rove and Scooter Libby] assured me they were not involved."
July 11th 2005: "I appreciate your question...I will not comment on an ongoing criminal investigation..."

"We made a decision we weren't going to comment on it [the criminal investigation] while it is ongoing"

"This question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation."

"I appreciate the question John...The way to be most helpful is not to comment on it while it's an ongoing investigation"

"David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation."

Wow. No one likes Judith Miller, considering she botched the pre-war intelligence worse than any other reporter save Jeff Gannon, but it sure is nice to see reporters find the reproductive organs of their choice and do their jobs.

Countdown to Resignation

Finally, Karl Rove's blind political calculations--and the fact he is simply too wrapped up in the game--looks like it will cost him his job. President Bush--through Scott McClellan--pledged to fire anyone who leaded the name of a CIA Operative to the press. Whoops. Seems as though that fellow is his best bud and campaign guru Karl Rove. I forgot to put up the Tucker Carlson Countdown to McEnroe-d clock, so let's put the over under on Carlson at 4 months (the MSNBC ad blitz for The Situation with Tucker Carlson is really unprecidented--I saw full column ads everywhere from the NY Times to Slate to ESPN...) and Rove at 4 weeks. Place your wages now, either of these two hacks may expire any moment. No bother--they'll go earn millions starting a consulting firm with Jack Abramoff or receiving their own show on Fox, a la G. Gordon Liddy, Ollie North, etc.

By the way--and I know I promised not to use this blog to exact revenge or act on personal vendettas--but I'm boycotting Subway. Today I received change for a $10, when I gave the young man a $20. After vigorous debate, I still received a foot long Sweet Onion Chicken Teryaki sandwich for $18. I guess that Jared guy lost all the weight by having Subway steal his money so he couldn't afford to eat.

'Roids? Bobby Abreu don't need no stinking Roids!

I just watched Bobby Abreu absolutely destroy the previous Home Run Derby single round record. The original mark was set by Miguel Tejada with 15 hr. Abreu, who is repping his home land of Venezuela managed to hit 24 home runs to start out the competition, one of which was 517 ft, the second longest in derby history. He absolutely punished the ball the entire round. You can imagine how much pressure was on Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder Jason Bay who followed up Abreu's crowd-pleasing performance. How did he respond to this pressure? By hitting zero home runs of course. Go Canada.

Bitter Bertrand

Today, Paris Mayor Bertrand Belanoe denounced England's winning bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, citing Blair's criticism of other nations in competition for the Games. While I realize that the Olympics and England's recent terrorist attacks are seperate topics, but isn't a little insensitive for France to be whining about this right now? Granted, hosting the Olympics is a major boon to any nation's economy and world status but England just suffered a fighteningly well-coordinated terrorist attack leaving its citizens sticken with horror and fear. To me, France's petty complaint is kind of like complaining how your neighbor drives a new BMW convertible even though his daughter is in drug rehab and his wife just left him for a Calvin Klein underwear model. Well that's actually a pretty bad example but you get my point. It's just in poor taste and not put in the proper perspective.

MSNBC's Sinking Ship: The SS Tucker Carlson.

MSNBC is anchoring its summer late-night line-up with Tucker Carlson. We last saw this bow-tied partisan hack being slapped around by Jon Stewart on Crossfire--canceled soon thereafter. Though Carlson attempts to be more intellectual than Sean Hannity and the rest of the far right attack hounds, he is merely more smug. The set on "The Situation with Tucker Carlson" is nearly identical (yet better lit) than HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Tucker sits around with three panelists discussing the issues of the day, but unlike Maher he completely lacks any comedic timing. Indeed, all of Carlson's attempts at humor fall flat--they are either mean-spirited jabs or throw-away lines he clearly walked in the room with. Further, unlike Fox News' shows, Carlson suffers from the need to be taken seriously. O'Reilly and Hannity are very comfortable in their own roles--perhaps they're acting, perhaps they lie, but at least seem to have little desire to continue receiving invites to Washington cocktail parties.

MSNBC just seems to keep getting its target audience wrong. With the exception of Chris Matthews (and the sublime--but terribly misused--Keith Olbermann) the seems to be confused about the direction it wishes to go in. CNN is tackling more hard news stories, CNBC--since dropping John McEnroe and pinning its talk-show hopes on the caffine-junkie Jim Cramer--is accepting its place as a finance channel, and Fox News has perfected hard right-infotainment. MSNBC, however, has light fluff news stories and commentators such as Carlson who are light on both entertainment and intellectual brain-power.

Monday 7.11.05 News--Hurricanes, NASA and Karl's Big Mouth

There's a place up ahead and I'm going, just as fast as my feet can walk. Come away, come away if you're going. Leave this sinking ship behind"

Everyone puts Hurricane Dennis above the fold, with USA Today and the LA Times making it the lead. The Chicago Tribune and San Diego Union-Trib use the angle of NASA's Discovery space shuttle launch as the lead, and the fact NASA is launching despite the hellfire which God is raining down upon Florida. Everyone also fronts with the Brit's complete lack of any leads in catching last week's bombers, and the fact they are now soliciting the help of other European law enforcement agencies. The NY Times puts Dennis second, while leading with a great story on the decline in part-time military forces being deployed full-time in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's nice of the adminstration to give those boys a few months off before they start the Autumn Iranian campaign.

Carl's Jr. made a stir earlier last month with their Paris Hilton ad for the new Spicy Six Dollar Burger. A Karl of a different sort used his big mouth to out Valerie Plame. Let's see if Bill O'Reilly makes as big a deal out of Rove's destruction of the First Amendment as he did about seeing the hotel hieress in a one-piece. Now onto the real news...or at least what our friends over at Hearst like to tell us...

San Francisco Chronicle: The Chron has Dennis second, making the negative impact of the sale of pets on Craigslist the lead story. The article discusses "casual breeding"--folks who let their dogs run wily nily with little concern for their well being or the 'quality' of the off-spring--as a new profit source for folks who sell the pups on the Craigslist, the popular internet classifieds directory (most popular in San Francisco for its 'Casual Encounters' section, facilitating adults to run wily nily in the streets of SF). The Chroncle is now posting a "culture blog" on its website--a collection of not-so-pithy comments by folks far too old to be keeping blogs (One is 32!?!) I have yet to find anything of particular interest, as it is neither as shallow as Gawker, newsworthy as Drudge nor slutty as Wonkette. Really, it's just a collection of ramblings and completely useless cultural observations, but that's just my opinion.

New York Times: Only in our third day and already I've resorted to including stories from the Times. I couldn't resist including links to the Times' story about truffle hunting and the World Series of Poker. No one covers arts and culture stories two years too late like the Times.

Cedar Rapids Gazette: Website down. Shocking.

Charlotte Observer:Everyone's a little less antsy in Charlotte now that Hurrican Dennis touched down and is losing steam. Be sure to check out the Observer's fantastic Party Pictures from the past weekend--so stunning words would only detract from their greatness. Almost forgot--the Observer's offering a great weekend getaway at Tweetsie's Railroad Themepark. Riders in the Sky will be performing next week--well, the ones who aren't dead yet anyway.

This week's song lyrics: Creedence, just for you Karl.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

All-Star Baseball

The all-star game of our national pastime is steadily approaching and this year's event welcomes a number of talented new faces among the crowd. Yet these youngbloods take up roster spaces, and thus there are some perennial favorites that will be absent from this year's festivities. Pretending that I somehow have baseball credibility beyond winning my Yahoo Fantasy League last year, I am going to weigh in on who I believe was snubbed from the All-Star Team and which players undeservedly landed roster spots.

Top 3 All-Star Snubs

Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies - I picked Helton as a top snub merely because each team is required to send at least one player to the All-Star Game (even the lowly Rockies). Granted he's having a terrible year by anybody's standards, but who wants to go to the All-Star game to see Brian Fuentes? Who the hell is Brian Fuentes anyway? He sounds like he should be a member of a boy band rather than an all-star.

2. Wily Mo Peña, Cincinnati Reds - My reason for picking Wily is pretty much because his name is fun to say. He's definitley one of those guys you would refer to by stating his full name 3 times in a row as fast as you can. But seriously, his statistics are better than Shea Hillenbrand's who is not even the Toronto Blue Jays' mandatory all-star delegate. Plus, I learned how to put that squiggly crap on the n in Peña while writing about him.

3. Ricky Henderson, San Diego Surf Dawgs - He may not even be in the major leagues, but anybody who refers to themselves in the third person is an all-star in my book.

Top 3 Worst All-Star Selections

1. Kenny Rogers, Texas Rangers - Yes, Mr. Rogers is having the year of his life and probably deserves to be on the all-star team based on statistics alone. But this guy is nuts. In short, he recently attacked a cameraman simply for filming him while stretching before a game. You can check out the link to hear the whole story. Plus in general he is just a washed-up hick who is a few racist comments away from becoming the next John Rocker. On a more serious note, I feel that if a black player had pulled the same stunt, there'd be a lot more uproar over this. Perhaps enough uproar to rescind a spot on the all-star team. I'm hoping that Carl Everett helps me prove this point one day.

2. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners - Ichiro's numbers aren't horrible but as an outfielder, the talent pool is too deep to justify him being on the team. My only consolation is that he's not a starter as Japanese voters only spent 23 hours online each day voting for him this year.

3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees - Once again the media favorite somehow found his way onto the All-StarTeam. Wait...Derek Jeter didn't make the All-Star team? Wow. I guess fans started to realize that all those opinion pieces on why Jeter has the "intangibles" that make him such a great player are a load of crap. Now if only Xhibit signs with MTV for another 8 years of Pimp My Ride my life will be complete.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

Lately all I can find myself thinking about is how I am going to make a lot of money in a short amount of time without any sort hard work or excessive start-up capital. The idea of building a fortune through prudent buy and hold investing and 30+ years of climbing the corporate ladder only to find myself 65 years old and living in Fort Lauderdale with a bald head and a Buick LeSabre just doesn't appeal to me. I want the money now so I can blow it on sports cars, plasma screens and a drug habit I hope to develop in the near future.

So far I haven't really come up with any worthwhile ideas though. I tried developing a betting system for roulette in which I could vary my bets in a way to overcome the house advantage. As an example, let me explain to you a well-known roulette betting system, the Martingale. In the Martingale you bet a minumum amount and proceed to double it each time you lose. Once you win you return to your minimum bet. In theory it works because odds are you're not going to get 100 reds in a row if you're betting on black. However, the system has its obvious problems. First of all, even if your initial bet is $1, after 7 straight losses (yes it happens) you're forced to bet $64 bucks just to win one dollar. Call me a wuss, but I just can't do that knowing that if I lose again I have to bet $128 the next time. Additionally, most casinos have table maximums of $200 meaning that after your seventh bet while starting with an initial wager of $2, (you'd be hard-pressed to find a casino with a $1 minimum for an even-money bet in roulette) you can no longer double your bet to follow the system.

So, I thought I could come up with a betting system that thousands of people with PhDs in mathematics and statistics have somehow overlooked. After a few trials with a random number generator my system turned out to be profitable. Needless to say, I was excited. I started to lavish the idea of giving out business cards that read, "Zachary Keats - Professional Roulette Player". Yet as you can probably guess from the fact that I'm writing a blog entry at 1:30 am rather than doing 150 in my ferrari with 4 girls from the new Fat Joe video in my backseat, further trials of my system proved unprofitable. Highly unprofitable. You'd have made more money if you blindly placed your wagers on the table and were betting with Pringles as opposed to real casino chips. So I'm back to the drawing board in terms of coming up with a get rich quick scheme. There is one benefit of my failure though. Because I live a good 8 hour drive from Vegas, even if I was to play roulette for a living I'd have to do it online. And what could be less exciting than playing online roulette? Part of the reason people spend billions of dollars a year on gambling is because they want to be in a casino and feel the thrill of playing a game of chance in an exciting environment. With online roulette, the suspense is shot as you wait for a pixelated little grey speck to land in a slot that a random number generator (neglecting probable corruption on the online casino's part) determines as a sound file of people applauding rings through your headphones. But if you think that's bad, imagine playing online craps. Instead of having some hot blonde in a cocktail dress at your side wishing you luck, you can have your computer fan blow on your dice. Score.

Anyways, if any of you out there have a good way for me to make a lot of money very quickly that does not involve selling herbal supplements out of the trunk of my car then holler at your boy.

Editor's Note: It's "holla", not "holler". Get it right next time Zach or we'll lose our blogging street cred.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Crash: A Review

I just saw Crash, and boy what a downer. Shootings, death, racism, corruption--really an all around bad time had by all. I'd like to say here was some light at the end of the tunnel, some hopeful message of perseverance or something gained from the movie, but any such attempt was simply overshadowed by the sheer onslaught of jarring and depressing images and storylines. The point to all of the violence, sadness and loss perhaps was lost on me--there was no purpose to it, no reason, only terrible things happening to what seem to be otherwise hopeful people. Ludicris' performance can only be described as a surprise--he certainly makes Bill O'Reilly's comments about his rap music seem...well..absurd. Clearly he is more intelligent and deep as a performer than his musical stylings (including the memorable, "Move, Bitch, Get out the way") illustrate. Other than that, however, the only thing keeping me from leaving was the hope that some message, some point would be made. Alas, things only became more and more heinous as the film progressed.

The movie's setting--interdependence in an otherwise isolated city (Los Angeles)--is not even resonate at the moment. With my own family merely an amalgamation of individuals in far flung reaches of the country (Nashville, San Francisco and San Diego), I certainly hoped the film would provide some solace for those who are indeed alone. Alas, the movie's turning point--a young girl's magical and invisible cloak prevents a bullet from killing her and her father--relies on the necessity of a higher, external power to which me must appeal for hope. The meaning of this is lacking with the real tragedy that is constantly falling throughout the rest of the film--as if we are suppose to be satisfied about the story of an individual who, fate would have it, missed work yesterday and thus was not killed in the attack on London.

Crash’s themes of racial intolerance are interesting, but ultimately left unresolved. In some ways, one does not expect the film to 'resolve' any issue of the magnitude of racism, but at least offering a tool or path which we may help us with such problems is certainly assumed when a movie graphically shows us the tragedies that result when we act upon such irrational beliefs. In the end, however, we are left watching a black character look black children playing around a burning car in which a white police officer shot and killed a black teenage boy. Spike Lee's film 25th Hour--is a much better testament to race relations than Crash, with one of the most memorable monologues in film presented near the end by Ed Norton. 25th hour offers us a better place to hope for, one in which we may escape the misery and tragedy of everyday life that Crash presents in its most extreme form. Certainly Crash succeeds in its attempt to show us pain and loss at its most severe. Yet it reaches too far attempting to show the irony of individuals of different races both being reliant on one another and hating each other for arbitrary factors. Story lines such as a needless molestation, a heroine-addicted mother, and the insertion of Tony Danza all are all terribly underdeveloped--in the former, a no back-story is given of the perpetrator except his admission of being an "asshole". The audience is left only with vignettes of calamity, evoking sufficient anguish but without any message of salvation (Earthly, anyway) to soothe the grief.

I Hate the Olympics

Baseball and softball were eliminated from the Olympics today, placing the final nail in the coffin of my interest in the games. Zach and I were talking last night, during which I divulged the fact I really hate the olympics. I don't object to nonsensical flag waving, blindly cheering someone merely because they share your homeland. It isn't even the fact the American basketball team failed to capture the gold (or silver) in Athens. Perhaps it is that we as Americans have so little riding on the games--oh, you mean we failed to capture a medal in curling (one of the few sports I do find amusing enough to tune into)? Hrm...well we did defeat the USSR and the Nazis over here in real life, so suddenly I am not all that disappointed. No, it's purely that they're...boring. The athletes are, for the most part, competing against themselves--how far can you jump, how fast can you swim, etc. Individual sports just never did it for me, and the fact they are all amateurs leaves me with little to cheer for--who are the heroes and the villians? I always thought Yankees fans had less fun, and the olympics certainly prove it.

Indeed, the fact is that the world's best don't take the games seriously, so why should I? The world's most famous athletes--Barry Bonds, Shaq, Michael Schumacher and Tiger Woods--don't bother showing up (the latter two aren't even invited) so why should I change the channel from MTV's 24 Hour Room Raiders Marathon? The olympics are not even the biggest showcase for Futbol, the world's most popular sport. Now that baseball and softball--the former of which is incredibly competitive and one of the only sports in which Latin American countries truly have a chance. By the way Ms. Jenny Finch, if you need to make other plans for 2012, you're more than welcome to crash the futon in my graduate student dorm.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Estimates put the dead between 33-40, injured at about 700. Blair--despite an eloquent speech--watched his G8 agenda of global warming and aid to Africa go down the tubes. Apparently no one cares about the fact it will be hot in 4382 when busses are blowing up.

Blair attacks extreme Islam.


Blair just finished addressing the world, his finest quote concluded the speech.

"Our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never
succeed to destroy what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world."

Holy Fucking Shit

For once news breaks at 3:00AM Pacific Time. As you're already aware, busses and subway cars are blowing up at the moment in London. The attacks started over three hours ago but were blamed upon a power outage. It's now clear that is not the case.
Confirmed at this hour are 8 dead, 90 injured.
Here are the latest stories:
Fox Coverage
CNN Coverage

Thursday News Roundup

Little Kim is in Jail, Boston teenagers can get the morning after pill without a prescription, and the trial of the San Diego councilmen who took bribes from a strip club owner concludes. It's your daily dose, as of 1:30AM ET. Here are the headlines from our five daily papers:

San Diego Union Tribune: Leads with the SEC widening its investigation of San Diego City Hall's pension scandal. In brief, the city underfunded its pension plans (with some not-so-lawful help from union leaders) and now is on the verge of bankruptcy. Mayor Dick Murphy, elected last November, announced his resignation and an election will be held later this month to determine his successor--most likely former write-in candidate Donna Frye. Also in America's Finest City, the UT reports closing arguments will take place today in the case of two city councilmen who received bribes (ok, 'alledgedly received bribes') from a strip club owner to let strippers touch patrons (though not the bad touch).

Boston Globe: A bill allowing women to obtain the morning after pill without a prescription is headed to Governor Romney's desk. Insert joke about heavy Massachusettes alcohol consumption here. It also seems to be raining a lot in the state.

Detroit Free Press: Leads with Lee Iacocca's return to Chrystler as a spokesman. Also, Ford Motor plans to match GM's recently successful employee discount for all promotion, which boosted GM's sales over 40%.

SF Chronicle: In their continuing attempt to be a national paper, the Chronicle leads with Paris' loss to London as host of the 2012 olympic games. Why anyone in San Francisco cares is unclear. The paper puts a story about the California budget compromises also up top, but fails to actually mention any specific changes this time around and/or their political implications.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: The Journal Sentinal, Wisconsin's oldest business, leads with two stories vying for title as "least interesting headline of the year". These new fangled "cell phones" apparently have hit it big up there in Wisconsin, and everyone is amazed by their ability to text messages to a giant screen at concerts. Most popular, "Im trahsed". In an actual local story, the city's plan to convert the old Pabst Brewery into "PabstCity" is delayed but headed for approval. Wow...an entertainment complex in a brewery...yet another reason 7/11 never should have stopped selling hard liquor...

Thursday Music News...
...New Weezer album is fantastic. While it ruins my snooty rock critic facade, their MTV hit "Beverly Hills" is definitely one of the best singles of the past month--with lines like, 'Preppy girls never looked at me, why should they, I ain't nobody got nothin in my pocket' it certainly sums up the sentiments of those close enough to West LA to see the gorgeous people but who are warned to keep their fingerprints off the glass...

...With Grokster history, and most file-sharing programs soon to follow, go spend the $50 and get unlimited downloads for a year from Yahoo's new Unlimited Music service. Even if you don't pay for music already (you goddamn thief), the $5/month is well worth the convenience. A lack of supported devices (now limited to a few from Creative and the Dell Jukebox line) potentially is an argument to wait a few months, but for anyone who listens to music on their computer the service is well worth the price...

...Bad day in court for the hip hop world. First, Notorious BIG's murder case ended in a mistrial--LAPD will have to write a check after screwing up the case bigtime. Second, former Biggy groupy and mistress Little Kim was found guilty of perjury and will spend 366 days behind bars. Thank God the streets are safe again...

...Sale at Banana Republic! There's a party in our pants, and Banana Republic is to blame. With such steals as linen shirts for $20, does anyone have a choice but to become a metrosexual?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Judy Does the Perp Walk

//Duke Cunningham was given a check for at least $400,000 by a defense contractor to whom he awarded federal contracts and has (and will) receive little more than a slap on the wrist. Judith Miller refused to tell a grand jury the name of a source for a story she never wrote and will spend the next four months in prison. Creedence puts it best:It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son. It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one. Some folks are born silver spoon in hand, lord don’t they help themselves. But when the taxman come to the door, the house looks like a rummage sale.

//Matt Cooper--as previously discussed--will look like a rat (even though his source apparently released him from their agreement of confidentiality) and testify before the grand jury.

//London also will be hosting the 2012 olympics, beating out New York City. See Ray Ratto's story on why we don't care.

Rickey Henderson Naked

Check out SDCityBeat.com or pick up a copy of the CityBeat to see a fine coverpiece by yours truly about the San Diego Surf Dawgs and the new independent Golden Baseball League. For the ladies, a romantic tale of my encounter with Rickey Henderson in the shower.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Holy News Batman!

So here's a first--the SD Union-Trib actually decided to cover the biggest scandal in SD politics...and only a week late (I mean that as a compliment). The UT put our bud Duke Cunningham receiving a few hundred grand (numbers differ--at least $400k, but more likely $700k) through selling his home for an inflated value to one of the nation's largest defense contractors above the fold. He also happens to reside on the contractor's boat-rent free--when in DC. Duke's been wrapping himself in the flag recently, defending the government's treatment of prisoners at Gitmo and being an all around shmucks. Bets are he'll weasel out of this one just as Delay did down in Texas, but that's of course because it's just a liberal sham.