Saturday, January 09, 2010

Best Music of 2009

I wasn't planning on posting a best-of 2009 list (and in fact have been focusing on my much more long-winded best-of-the-decade list) but Matt inspired me to do so. As he says, 2009 was a much better year music-wise than 2008 (though I'd hesitate to call it "amazing"), and anyway, I can never shy away from a good music discussion.

Attentive readers (if such still exist for this probably-long-left-for-dead blog) may recall that I attempted to begin a clearly overly ambitious new habit of posting quarterly music reviews. These readers may have further noticed that the idea quickly fell by the wayside. But oh well, time to make amends, so here we go.

First, let's get the downer stuff out of the way: any music year is bound to have a few disappointments, and this one was no exception. My biggest disappointment of the year was either the new People in Planes, which sadly abandoned the meandering atmosphere of 2006's number 2 album in favor of a more radio-ready sound, or Our Lady Peace, who continued the fall from grace that began with 2002's Gravity (sometimes I wonder if it's mere nostalgia that makes Clumsy and Happiness seem so much better to me). Blue October's Approaching Normal has also diminished somewhat in my initial estimation, but only because I continue to marvel at how good Consent and Foiled were. The Dead Weather album (another side project from Jack White) was also generally poor, but I didn't have super-high expectations as I figured no one can score hits with three different projects.

Next, I'd be remiss to not call out some of my favorite songs of the year that do not appear on my top 10 albums. In no particular order (or rather, alphabetical order):

- A.C. Newman, "Prophets"
- Anberlin, "Feel Good Drag"
- Animal Collective, "My Girls"
- Arctic Monkeys, "Cornerstone"
- Julian Casablancas, "11th Dimension"
- Cymbals Eat Guitars, "And the Hazy Sea"
- Franz Ferdinand, "No You Girls"
- Friendly Foes, "Get Yr Shit Together"
- Green Day, "21st Century Breakdown"
- Grizzly Bear, "Two Weeks"
- The Lonely Island, "I'm on a Boat" (the obvious song of the year)
- Manchester Orchestra, "Tony the Tiger"
- Metric, "Help I'm Alive"
- Phoenix, "1901"
- Silversun Pickups, "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone"
- U2, "Magnificent"
- Vertical Horizon, "The Middle Ground"
- White Rabbits, "Percussion Gun"
- Woods, "Rain On"

And finally, the top albums of the year. I have adhered to the quarterly review strategy of shortening my usual diatribes and letting the recommended tracks speak for themselves. If I weren't lazy, I'd provide links, but I am, so just head to Lala and find them yourself.

Honorable mentions:
- A.C. Newman, Get Guilty
- Comet Gain, Broken Record Prayers
- Cymbals Eat Guitars, Why There Are Mountains
- Iron & Wine, Around the Well
- Manchester Orchestra, Mean Everything to Nothing
- U2, No Line on the Horizon
- Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs

And, without further ado about nothing, the top 10:

10. The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
Not much to say that wasn't already said in the aforementioned quarter 1 music review. If you're not a Decemberists fan by now, you've either been living in a cave or it's just not your thing, either of which is okay. Otherwise, you already own and love this album.
Recommended tracks: "Won't Want for Love", "The Wanting Comes in Waves", "The Rake's Song".

9. Alice in Chains, Black Gives Way to Blue
A pleasant surprise from one of my favorite long dormant 90s alternative bands. New lead singer William DuVall can never fill Layne Staley's shoes but sounds close enough that it's easy to forget. Sticking with what they're good at, AiC throws dense heavy rockers at you, occasionally mixing in acoustic numbers and surprising dynamic shifts, and closing with the elegiac title track paying tribute to Staley (and featuring Elton John on piano!). It sounds just like the sort of album they would have recorded if they'd never taken a break.
Recommended tracks: "Your Decision", "A Looking in View", "Take Her Out".

8. Pearl Jam, Backspacer
Speaking of my favorite 90s alternative bands, here's a second consecutive winner from the artists formerly known as Mookie Blaylock. Dialing up the raw energy even more than its eponymous predecessor (and dialing back the righteous indignation, perhaps a reflection of the new presidential administration), this collection of songs is short and to the point, and as a result the band sounds tighter, hookier, and more relaxed than I think I've ever heard them.
Recommended tracks: "The Fixer", "Just Breathe", "Force of Nature".

7. Built to Spill, There Is No Enemy
Built to Spill released new material this year, so there was never much doubt it would show up on this list. These guys have never steered me wrong, and here they balance rockers with more dreamy, laid-back songs to create an excellent melange of guitar-driven pop, complete with Doug Martsch's trademark wandering, thoughtful lyrics.
Recommended tracks: "Hindsight", "Life's a Dream", "Done".

6. The Airborne Toxic Event, The Airborne Toxic Event
I found this album less than a week after finishing Don DeLillo's excellent novel White Noise, so I picked it up on a whim. And it's awesome. Just the right album at this stage of my life, capturing perfectly the premature nostalgia for the past, uncertainty about the present, and cautious hope for the future that being in your late-20s is all about.
Recommended tracks: "Wishing Well", "Gasoline", "Sometime After Midnight".

5. Japandroids, Post-Nothing
I'm usually not a fan of that noisy post-rock sound, so this album really caught me off guard. Deceptively catchy and surprisingly easy to sing along to once you unearth the vocals, it's not for everybody (of course, what that I listen to is?), but it's one of my favorite surprises of the year.
Recommended tracks: "Young Hearts Spark Fire", "Heart Sweats", "I Quit Girls".

4. The Thermals, Now We Can See
It's rare to find an album that can be this catchy and fun while also dealing with the complex issue of human mortality. Some of the most infectious music of the year, it practically dares you not to be humming it afterward.
Recommended tracks: "Now We Can See", "When I Was Afraid", "Liquid In Liquid Out".

3. The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hometowns
Hmm, a nostalgic album that consistently evokes that feeling that we've left behind the places where we truly feel at home, be they geographical, emotional, or merely the arms of someone we love? Sign me up. The pervasive sense of loss and regret is offset by some of the most gorgeous melodies of the year.
Recommended tracks: "Don't Haunt This Place", "Drain the Blood", "Edmonton".

2. Dinosaur Jr., Farm
Picking up right where my 2007 #2 album Beyond left off, here's another set of pensive lyrics and incredible guitar heroics with a pulsing rhythm section as background. Would that every late 80s-early 90s band could suddenly return from a 15-20 year break without missing a beat.
Recommended tracks: "I Want You To Know", "Plans", "Said the People", "See You".

1. Army Navy, Army Navy
AllMusic says this album was released in 2008, but it was eligible for Pitchfork's best-of-2009 readers' poll and I first heard it this year anyway, so screw it. When I was listening to this album at the beginning of this year, I loved it but figured it was of-the-moment and would fade over time. And yet I kept coming back for more all year long. With its ability to put you in a good mood without being twee or resorting to novelty songs, this is a shining example of sunny, fuzzy guitar pop at its best.
Recommended tracks: "Saints", "Sleight of Hand", "Ignite", "In the Lime".

Stay tuned. As mentioned above, I have aspirations to revive this blog in grand fashion with best-of music and movie lists encompassing the entire decade. Because after all, Americans love lists. A more general review of the decade that just passed is also in the works.

And by the way, Happy New Decade!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In which Mike's head explodes

From the "things you never thought would happen" department, Washington Post op-ed columnist Michael Gerson and Radley Balko just agreed on something. So, yeah. Whee.

Also, many of the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, including Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and (shudder) Sarah Palin, apparently disdain what is an essential and underused (and often as not misused) component of our justice system (and also one of the few executive powers granted by the Constitution, not to be confused with the numerous illegitimate executive powers that have been increasingly assumed in recent years). Good to know.

"Who gave who the right?
Who took mine away?
What a sight, what a sound
What a way to bring people down
What a way to bring me down"
- Built to Spill, Out of Site

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Brief baseball predictions

(Yeah, I gave up on the whole song-lyrics-as-post-titles thing. So what?)

It's that most wonderful time of the year again, with football season coming into full bloom and baseball season entering its heyday. Of course, the Redskins seem to have absorbed large amounts of suck this year, the Braves missed out on the postseason for the third year in a row, and the Rays' occasional signs of life this year were too frequently interrupted by profound mediocrity. But hey, beggars can't be choosers right?

So, even though historically my MLB playoff predictions are ridiculously, horrendously wrong, I offer the following because, well, why not?

Tonight's One-Game Playoff:
Tigers defeat Twins. (Okay, this is mainly wishful thinking on my part, largely due to 18-year-old grudges. More likely, this victory will go to the Twins, having baseball's greatest home-field advantage in the Metrodome. Either way, as we'll see very shortly, it's a don't-care.)

Yankees defeat Twins/Tigers, 3-0. (I mean, seriously. C'mon!)
Angels defeat Red Sox, 3-2.

Rockies defeat Phillies, 3-1. (Again, wishful thinking, but Rockies are hot and Phils are not.)
Cardinals defeat Dodgers, 3-0. (Pujols >> Manny.)

Angels defeat Yankees, 4-2. (Going way out on a limb here.)

Cardinals defeat Rockies, 4-3. (This should be a good series.)

World Series:
Angels defeat Cardinals, 4-2.

Now, let's tune in and see how amazingly bad these predictions turn out to be.

"It's not a miracle we needed
No I wouldn't let you think so"
- Phoenix, 1901

(This is the song that was playing as I completed this post. 1901 is also the year of the first World Series. How cool is that?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Praying for Pavement to get back together..."

Well, you can stop praying, Matt Berninger (or rather the girl in "So Far Around the Bend"), because apparently it's happening.

Hmm, it's been a while since I've been to New York. Maybe I need to make a special trip...

SPIN posted their dream set list for this event, which I have no major disagreements with, except that it's missing "Shady Lane", "Trigger Cut", and "Major Leagues" at a minimum. Perhaps they could replace the second performance of "Stop Breathin'", awesome though it may be, with one of those :).

(Yes, I realize no one but me even cares about this. But hey, I had to break the blogging hiatus somehow. Hoping to get back to my previous rate, or maybe better, with more album reviews, political rants, general silliness, and maybe a few new songs.)

"I am the only one searching for you
And if I get caught then the search is through"
- Pavement, Frontwards

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Y'all don't know what it's like being male, middle class, and white..."

Wanted to provide a small rain to alleviate the current blogging drought by linking to an interesting article by Eugene Robinson regarding the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation and the fallacious notion that only minorities have "identities" whereas white guys don't. Basically, the point is that everyone approaches any legal issue with our own prejudices based on a unique set of life experiences, and each Justice must put forth an effort to overcome those biases and interpret law through the impartial eyes of the U.S. Constitution. It's a fair point. And while I remain somewhat skeptical of Sotomayor's now-infamous "wise Latina woman" statement, right now I'm willing to accept her explanation, especially since she's been answering most questions in a manner that largely reflects my own perspective. So far.

UPDATE: This has nothing to do with anything, but it's hilarious.

"Injustice is my middle name
You don't need to change
Your future's with us"
- Tokyo Police Club, Your English is Good

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Rock the Casbah..."

It's been entirely too long since I last posted, and much has happened, with probably the most important thing being the election, protests, and violent retaliation in Iran. So far, Radley Balko has best summarized my feelings about the goings-on.

We may never know with 100 percent certainty whether the election was fixed, though it sure seems that way. But one thing we sure as hell know now, the Iranian government’s reaction to those protesting the results has shown it to be wholly and morally illegitimate.

In an odd way, this feels to me vaguely akin to how folks must have felt in the 1960s, watching the Civil Rights and Vietnam War protesters march through the streets. And similar to the footage of the Viet Cong prisoner being summarily executed, we have the woman they're calling Neda, shot to death, bleeding out on the pavement. (You must watch it; my eyes will never be the same and still haven't evacuated all their tears.)

And what to do, as Americans thousands of miles away? As George Will says, "The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward the regime is." (Thankfully Will is ever the pragmatic and not partisan conservative.) Certainly the people know we are not fans of the Iranian regime, but is that enough? Should they not also be aware that we support their, indeed any, stands for freedom and justice? Hopefully they are. But how do we stand with them while maintaining our own national interests? Should those interests even be a factor when standing up to oppression? (I don't see how they could not.) Above all, is there anything we can do to end the violence?

There are more questions than answers, but one thing is for certain: Iran, and the world, will never be the same.

(There is of course the lingering question, not directly related to the incidents in Iran, of whether we Americans would still have the drive, the motivation, the chutzpah to stand up to governmental oppression. Seems to me these days we tend to shout best with the printed word, to gather in support by posting links across blogs. Which is all well and good, I suppose, but I think it would be nice to march for once.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

"At times like these, it's obvious..."

Yep. Couldn't have said it better myself. (H/T: Jacob.)

Let the arguments begin in the comments section (assuming anyone still visits this rarely-updated POS blog). And please, though I'm aware of Godwin's Law, don't compare anyone to Hitler. Jeff has an excellent post as to why.

"Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
Throw up your arms into the sky,
When it's time to live and let die"
- Green Day, 21 Guns

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I guess she spent her last quarter randomly..." - Music of 2009 Q1

In lieu of my usual end-of-year musical summaries, which are always a lot to take in, I am hoping to start a new trend of quarterly music summaries. (Admittedly, I'm already a month behind on this one.) The goal is to minimize the amount of reading material while maximizing the potential for those who spot something intriguing or something they were iffy on to discover a great album (or avoid a not-so-great one).

Discerning readers will immediately notice that not all of these albums came out in 2009 Q1. The list is more intended to capture my listening experience these first three months, rather than highlight new music only.

And yes, I think in quarterly terms now. I guess the corporate world has officially taken me over.


  • Army Navy, Army Navy - sunny, fuzzy guitar pop that's infectious as hell. Nothing overly remarkable, but I can't stop listening.
    Recommended tracks: "Dark as Days", "Sleight of Hand", "In the Lime".
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love - it's the Decemberists and it's a concept album. What else do you need to know? Why don't you have this yet?
    Recommended tracks: "Won't Want for Love", "The Wanting Comes in Waves", "The Rake's Song".
  • The National, The National - re-release of their debut album. Not as spectacular as Boxer or Alligator but that's a lot to expect.
    Recommended tracks: "The Perfect Song", "American Mary", "Theory of the Crows".
  • NODZZZ, NODZZZ - lo-fi garage rock for the ADD. I'm not sure there's a song here over three minutes, but they're all catchy and leave you wanting more.
    Recommended tracks: "Is She There, "In the City", "I Can't Wait".
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon - on a par with ATYCLB and way beyond HTDAAB, U2 fan extraordinaire Bill Gates described it as a journey through U2's entire evolution as a band.
    Recommended tracks: "Magnificent", "Moment of Surrender", "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight".

Decent But Unremarkable:

  • Blue October, Approaching Normal - lacks the raw power of Consent or the heart and variety of Foiled. But it's still Blue, so there's enough quality for a few spins.
    Recommended tracks: "Kangaroo Cry", "Dirt Room".
  • Cut Off Your Hands, You & I - completely adequate Brit pop-rock, but nothing more.
    Recommended tracks: "Turn Cold", "Heartbreak".
  • Dark Was the Night - solid compilation of the quieter side of indie rock. Sometimes too quiet, but oh well. No surprise my favorite songs here are from bands I love already.
    Recommended tracks: "So Far Around the Bend" (the National), "Well Alright" (Spoon).
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - more of what you'd expect from the assassinated archduke of Austria. Better than their second, close to their first.
    Recommended tracks: "No You Girls", "What She Came For".
  • The Lonely Island, Incredibad - a hip hop/R&B/comedy album from the same talented humor group that brings us SNL's Digital Shorts. Hilarious stuff, but doesn't invite lots of additional listens.
    Recommended tracks (and videos): "I'm On a Boat", "Lazy Sunday".
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - if the Cure met My Bloody Valentine in a bar, this would probably be the bastard child.
    Recommended tracks: "This Love is Fucking Right", "Come Saturday".
  • A.C. Newman, Get Guilty - second album from the driving force behind the New Pornographers. You'll miss their harmonies and Neko, but not the great melodies.
    Recommended tracks: "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer", "All of My Days and All of My Days Off".
  • Bruce Springsteen, Working on a Dream - Bruce and the E Street Band doing what they've always done, but it feels like it was better 20 years ago (or even on 2007's Magic). For die-hard devotees only.
    Recommended tracks: "Working on a Dream", "The Wrestler".

Stay Away From:

  • Glasvegas - I can't say there's not quality music here, and a few songs ("Geraldine", "Go Square Go") will garner repeat listens, but other tracks turn me off of this album.
  • The Shaky Hands, Lunglight - listened once, was very "meh" about it, so I never returned.

Potential highlights of 2009 Q2 include: the Hold Steady, the Thermals, Crystal Antlers, Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie (EP), Green Day, White Rabbits, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear, Wilco (may it be better than their last), Dead Weather (Ben, you've probably never heard of them, but they feature Jack White on drums), Sonic Youth, Rock Plaza Central, Dinosaur Jr., Third Eye Blind, the Lemonheads, Sunset Rubdown, and theoretically Five Dollar Friend. Yep, lots of upcoming music folks. Get excited!

"I never try to find you
I hope you don't remember me
I hope you're not alone"
- the National, The Perfect Song

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"What do you want me to say?"

Wow, way to guilt trip me Post. Yeesh.

Did it ever occur to anyone that if people, government and corporations, were acting fiscally responsible in the first place, none of this would have happened? Sigh...

(Just watch, now I'm probably gonna lose my job tomorrow for having the audacity of claiming I have job security and fiscal responsibility.)

On another note, I'd like to request a moment of blog silence for the 32 Hokies that died two years ago today.


And that's all I have to say about that. As Jeff said, "What is it about April, anyway?"

"Tonight bright stars are shining for you
Oceans and full moons, deep midnight blue"
- Sun Kil Moon, Tonight the Sky

(Bonus points to anyone who gets why that lyric suddenly occurred to me.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

"I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere..."

Looks like I'm starting a tradition of sharing semi-profound but more accurately subversive thoughts on Good Friday. Last year, I took issue with the very concept of Christians calling the day Christ died "good" (even though ultimately its outcome was). This year I want to talk about Judas (Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus, not Thaddeus, who was unfairly maligned by his namesake). For 2000 years, the name Judas has been synonymous with ultimate betrayal. And rightfully so. But something occurred to me about a while back: if Judas hadn't betrayed Jesus, would Christianity even exist? Wasn't it essential to the salvation of mankind that Jesus be crucified by the Romans, that at that moment he could absorb the sins of all mankind, that by a belief in him they might be saved? And if this is true, does Judas, traitor though he may be, not ultimately play a positive role in these proceedings?

Then of course there's the theory (seen in the Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ, and apparently borne out in the Gospel of Judas and elsewhere) that Judas was in fact Jesus's dearest friend, and that Jesus asked him to bear the burden of being the one who betrays him. It's an interesting concept, one that at least bears consideration today.

But anyway, Christians, enjoy (?) your Good Friday. (What do people generally do on Good Friday anyway? Growing up, I don't recall doing anything in particular. Oh well.)

"Judas ain't the only one
Who couldn't live with what he'd done
But if he hadn't, would you still be saved?"
- the Ultimate Self-Indulgence, My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma

Friday, April 03, 2009

"Freedom no longer frees you..."

Some news fragments courtesy of The Agitator.

Fledgling democracy Iraq has decided to exercise the apparent will of the people by executing gays.

Meanwhile, established democracy the United States of America attempts to reenact Kafka's "The Trial".

Incidentally, where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?

(In lighter news, I hope to have a Q1 music review up some time soon. Stay tuned.)

"And you said go to hell
And then I did"
- Deep Ella, I Don't Care

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"You must have been so high..."

I agree, President Obama: legalizing marijuana is not a good strategy to grow our economy. No, legalizing marijuana is a good strategy to: relieve stress on our crowded prisons, reduce police corruption and urban violence, focus law enforcement attention on more egregious crimes, and promote individual freedom of choice. And, oh, by the way, we could also turn the billions of dollars wasted enforcing this unjust law into billions of dollars in tax revenue, which might help the economy just a little bit. Even if that's dead last on the list of reasons, and it is for me, it's still a better reason than any I've heard to keep it illegal. And instead you dismiss the notion out of hand.

I know people who voted for you, President Obama, based on the assumption that, even if you would not necessarily push for marijuana legalization or decriminalization, you would adopt a reasoned approach to the idea. None of those people do drugs. The fact that you dismiss their questions and concerns with a pretty lame joke about their assumed recreational habits is shameful and disturbing. I hope the incomprehensible laughter was worth it.

Radley Balko has more, including that apparently that whole "calling off medical marijuana raids" thing was utter bullshite.

In the meantime, President Obama, I would like to know this: why should other people be penalized for doing something that you yourself admitted to illegally doing in the past?

"We are broken, we are bitter, we're the problem,
We're the Politicians
Watching for our sky to get torn apart"
- Switchfoot, Politicians

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"What have you done Mark David Chapman?"

...well, apparently you didn't kill John Lennon!

According to a van I drove by on US 19 this morning, John Lennon was killed by ... wait for it ... Stephen King.

This white van seemed very intent on spreading the word to the masses, what with the black lettering covering it saying "Stephen King Killed John Lennon" and pointing to its website, which I won't dignify with naming or linking to. So just in case anyone doubted there are some seriously crazy people in this world, there you have it. (Now I know why they call US 19 the most dangerous road in America.)

Speculation as to what Stephen King's motive could have possibly been, as well as why he would have then apparently hired a guy named Mark David Chapman to stand over Lennon's body reading from The Catcher in the Rye until he was apprehended, may be placed in the comments.

"Instant karma's gonna get you..."
- John Lennon, Instant Karma

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Sticks and stones, baby, break your bones..."

Okay, first things first: I don't believe the President of the United States belongs on a late-night talk show. Period. This belief has nothing to do with these shows' propensity for telling jokes many would consider "off-color" (and many others, including myself, generally just consider "unfunny"). It's simply that I like to believe that POTUS has better things to do with his/her time than appear on late-night TV shows. I certainly have better things to do with my time than watch them. Like read. Or sleep.

That having been said, the aspect of President Obama's "Tonight Show" appearance last night that most people are and will be focusing on is not the fact that he should be leading the nation rather than yukking it up with Jay Leno, but rather the Special Olympics gaffe, which I am going to rather uncreatively dub "Specialgate" (I also considered "Gutterballgate" since the comment was related to Obama's poor bowling skills).

The first I heard of it was on Facebook when Ploeger asked the amusing question, "Who loaded the "Special Olympics" comment in the teleprompter?" The comments on the status dismissed it as "an offhand remark" but also pointed out that Dubya would have been flayed alive for such a remark. (Ploeger's retorts to these comments were that the President is supposed to be a reflection of American ideals and if those ideals include making fun of the disabled well then that's just sad, which is true, and that Dubya probably would have mispronounced "Special Olympics", which is untrue but amusing.) (Also, I don't ever recall President Bush making a late-night TV appearance during his term of office, probably because, and this will likely be the only time I ever say this, he has more sense than that.) Ahem, anyway: both points are valid and probably merit discussion.

First off, to Obama's credit, he seems to have immediately recognized the inappropriateness of the comment and called Tim (Corporal? Lieutenant?) Shriver to apologize and further extend an olive branch by inviting Special Olympians to the White House. Is it enough? I don't know. I'd be curious to hear Aaron's thoughts... (Perhaps a good time to end the blogging hiatus, Turtle? Hmm? :)

Anyway, credit having been given where credit is due, on to the discussion: while I do not buy into the whole "liberal media" conspiracy B.S. spouted by many conservatives (notably Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign), I do acknowledge they are generally at least slightly left-of-center. So it's pretty hard to argue that the media wouldn't have been pretty merciless with George W. Bush here. (I will be extremely curious, for example, how Jon Stewart handles this on Monday's "Daily Show". Certainly he would have eviscerated Dubya in similar circumstances. As a side note, here's an interesting article about Stewart I got from, as usual, Jacob.) It will be interesting to see how they handle it in general. Personally, I predict that FOX News will begin calling for impeachment, CNN (particularly leading candidate for devil incarnate Nancy Grace) will discuss how the comments relate to the latest missing attractive white girl, and MSNBC will proclaim that Obama made the statement to draw attention to such a wonderful cause and then take a commercial break while Chris Matthews cleans his shorts. Again.

As to the comment that it was an offhand remark, a failed attempt at casual humor, it's pretty clear that this is the case. What's more troubling is what that means. Who among us can say we've never cracked a "short bus" joke? Hell, I've callously referred to handicapped parking spots as "cripple spots". In my mind, I defend this as my own personal retaliation against the modern, overly politically corrected parlance, but is this really an excuse? People I care about use handicapped spots. What is the cause of such insensitivity? Is it a symptom of a larger national tendency or is it merely human nature? Or am I just making too big a deal out of it?

Ultimately, the incident will - and probably should - fall by the wayside. There are more important things to worry about. Which does beg the question of why I just spent a ridiculous rambling post talking about it. Yeah, well. Shut up.

P.S. As a follow-up to a previous post: Yay! (H/T: The Agitator.)

"Believe me when I call and I say
The next girl that I love wont be a saint"
- Army Navy, Saints

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"These are just words, and words are okay..."

As someone who performed the descriptively-named role of "Son" in the Steve Martin-penned play "WASP" in college, this story of defiance in the face of censorship puts a rather large smile on my face. (H/T: Jacob.) Not much to say about it, other than Steve Martin is awesome.

Side note: our performance of the play is memorable for many reasons, including: a) it's where I first met Zhubin; b)
it earned Jeff the nickname "the guy with the laugh due to his noticeable enjoyment of our performance; and c) set construction caused me missing the second half of the Vanderbilt-Kentucky game that year, the only football game I ever missed a single minute of while attending Vandy. (We ran to Vandy-Barnard to watch the final heartbreaking minutes of the game on TV, which if memory serves involved Zhubin swearing a lot. That game kept us from bowl eligibility in 1999. I can't help but believe that if I had been there it would have been different. Oh well, it just made this year's Music City Bowl that much sweeter. In other news, my God, that was 1999!)

"And if I forget you I'll have nobody left to forget
I guess that's what assholes get"
- the National, Theory of the Crows

Friday, March 13, 2009

"And so all over creation the culture of death became a celebrated rule of law..."

Some states are apparently considering doing away with the death penalty because it costs too much. Though I usually do involve it at some point, cost tends to fall pretty much at the bottom of my arguments against the death penalty, shortly after: it fails as a deterrent, the judicial system is not infallible (i.e., there's always a risk of executing an innocent), and, of course, Hammurabi died a looooong effing time ago. But still, the ends justify the reasoning behind achieving them.

(H/T: The Agitator.)

I'm betting absolutely no one will get the song reference in this post's title. Prove me wrong, children. Prove me wrong. (More people will get that reference.)

"Go to sleep now, you little fool
You'll not feel the drowning"
- the Decemberists, The Island

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Hey! Don't come around here no more..."

You have no idea how immensely glad I am to see the Washington Redskins on this list. Knowing owner Daniel Snyder's propensity to throw money at all the wrong places, I was afraid we'd be first in line for T.O. once he became available. Sometimes I love being wrong. Given how T.O., despite his immense on-field talents, has proven to be a plague to just about every team he's ever joined, I'm not entirely sure who would want him.

(Incidentally, though we overpaid for him, I'm still pleased that Albert Haynesworth will be shredding the grounds at the Fed this year -- he may not be $100 million formidable, but he's still pretty damn formidable.)

"I cherish with fondness the day before I met you"
- Los Campesinos!, My Year in Lists

"Going down to the swamp..."

I haven't commented much on Vandy's basketball season, largely because there hasn't been much to comment on, but I felt like last night's victory over #11 LSU merited a "VANDY! VANDY! OH HELL YEAH!" Hopefully this keeps whatever meager tournament chances we have alive.

Better yet, the old Slant mates Banecker and Collazzi were there cheering the Dores on. Apparently Collazzi wore a Freije jersey, which is just awesome.

"Oh God, do not deny her
It's not if I believe in love
But if love believes in me"
- U2, Moment of Surrender

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Gimmee some salt, gimmee some salt, gimmee gimmee gimmee..."

When I first saw this article about "Christian salt", my first thought was that it must come from Lot's wife. Just thought I would share that with y'all. (Seriously, are there people who don't think that when they hear the phrase "Christian salt"?)

(H/T: Jacob)

Update: I swear I posted this before FARK made the same joke.

Literature quote of the day:
"And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.
      So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Sometimes I wanna get you low..."

Hey, let's appease Muslims while pissing off short Christians!

So what, now people like myself aren't afforded any sort of spiritual guidance without help of a stepstool or ladder? And you wonder why we become agnostics...

Not to mention, the children! Won't someone please think of the children?

(H/T: Jacob, as usual.)

"I had a drink the other day
Opinions were like kittens, I was giving them away"
- Modest Mouse, Out of Gas

Friday, February 13, 2009

"There's nothing you can know that isn't known..."

It amazes me that we actually needed an academic study to figure this out. I mean, honestly, I don't know of any men who are anything less than blatantly obvious about being attracted to a woman, even when they think they are being subtle. FARK put it best: "First sign a man is interested in sex: he is awake." Further, I think we can all agree that women are pretty much impossible to read.

On the other hand, it's good to know we men have evolved at least a little bit.

Anyway, that's your obligatory Maybe Next Year Day post for 2009. Enjoy!

"Only a real man can be a lover
If he had hands to lend us all over
We celebrate our sense of each other
We have a lot to give one another"
- Sufjan Stevens, The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts