Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sigh... you know he's right

Paul Krugman in his NY Time Blog yesterday (here):

The Iraq-Austerity Connection

Chris Hayes has a very good piece about the parallels between the current elite enthusiasm for fiscal austerity and the march to war in Iraq. I’d been thinking the same thing, and actually thought I had written about it; but as far as I can tell I never quite did.

Let me rub a little salt in the wound: if the Iraq parallel is any guide, even after everything has gone wrong, and the US economy has slid into a deflationary trap; even after most people concede that austerity was a mistake; still, only those who went along with the mistake will be considered “serious”, while those who argued strenuously against a disastrous course of action that “everyone” supported will continue to be considered flaky and unreliable.

Quote of the day

(h\t Glenn Greenwald via Twitter)

"I think our biggest failure collectively has been our failure to stop the ripoff of the middle class by the economic elite of this country, and this is not just something that happened because of the forces of the market."--Rep. David Obey (D–WI)
Mother Jones (here) has this quote from a Fiscal Times article (here) about the retiring Obey (Chair of the House Appropriations Committee), understandably titled "David Obey: I Leave More Discontented Than I Started" (that means he's been paying attention).

I realized a few weeks ago that the US is shifting to a 2-class economy and many in the middle class are obliviously working to make this happen. They're called Tea Party members.

Happy Birthday Phyllis Diller


A pioneer for women in comedy, I have a lot of respect for her ability to make a 50+ year career on tired jokes about her looks and her wacky husband Fang. Even if she's not your cup of tea, you know she worked for her fame, unlike a Kardashian or a Hills person.

No EGOT credentials, but there's still a chance for her voice work on Family Guy.

Song of the Day: "Love and Anger"

Nada Surf takes on one of my favorite Kate Bush songs (honestly) on their If I Had a Hi-Fi covers album.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pretty data says so much

(h\t I Love Charts)

The Root, an online magazine I'd never heard of until seeing this lovely graphic, did a breakdown of the music industry with an article called "The Music Industry's Funny Money" (here). The old music industry of 1994, that is, the one that record labels are trying desperately to keep in place (and perhaps that first pie chart will tell you why).

(Click image to embiggen.)

It's a pretty frank breakdown of some of the mundane aspects of the relationship between label and musician like:
Free goods: In essence, "free goods" are a roundabout way for labels to discount records so stores will be more inclined to buy them. So rather than sell Best Buy 100,000 records at the regular wholesale price, the label will sell them 100,000 records for the price of 85,000. The artist is then paid for the 85,000 CDs, not the actual 100,000 sold to the retailer.
Some of my old friends who used to have record label jobs told me the details on "clean copies"--after the introduction of SoundScan, record sales reporting was based on actual scanner data (once it was based on sales figures given by phone to publications like Billboard--and those figures could be manipulated by working the retailers for a more favorable figure, and hey, here are some backstage passes to that concert). "Clean copies" were basically copies of a CD that could be scanned as sold with not cost to the retailer.

And it's very important that the industry does this because you the music buyer will only buy things that you think are popular based on their reported sales figures, right? It's the same stupidity that has the top 5 movies reported diligently every Sunday night (and revised by Tuesday), because you'd never think of seeing a movie based on your own interest or its reviews. Popular only, thank you. Gosh, it makes me wonder how I can pick a beverage without knowing what the top 5 soft drinks are. Or soup, which soup should I eat?

Anyway, aside from the minor quibble of reversing the relative sizes of those 2 pie charts (to really give the scale of what's being kept from the musicians), the other thing that's worth considering are 2 things:

  1. Major label record companies have their own distribution system, so a label like Sony or Warner Bros. is keeping 87% of its retail sales price from newer artists.
  2. A big chunk of the 63% the labels hold back are for things like printing and packaging. Things that are done in their internal profit centers at a non-competitive rate. I have a sneaking suspicion there's a corporate shell game going on where the most profitable part of a record label ends up being the division that shrink wraps the final product.
I like the pie chart, and it speaks to an earlier rant (here). And musicians who don't get the the new digital distribution model gives them as much power as they've ever had are missing a huge change to control their own destiny. Sure, you might not get your video played on MTV, but unless you've had bad insomnia, you probably haven't seen a video on MTV in a decade.

Song of the Day: "Fast Car, Slow Traffic"

One of two songs to feature Bruce Foxton on Paul Weller's new Waking Up the Nation CD--their first time working together since dissolving The Jam in 1982. I love that this song is 2 minutes long.
 PAUL WELLER - Fast Car, Slow Traffic by Quimera

Call me a cab, you crumb

That's the quote Randall always did when he did his Barbara Stanwyck imitation. I have no sense of how accurate he sounded, nor what movie that's from (I've googled, but feel free), but it stays with you, something like that.

Oh yeah, and it's Barbara Stanwyck's birthday.

She started in show business as a Ziegfeld Girl, and worked on stage before launching a very successful movie career. She set the mold for American film noir femme fatales (femmes fatale?) with roles in Double Indemnity, The Lady Eve and  Sorry, Wrong Number.

She was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara, and in 1944 was the highest paid woman in the US. She received 4 Oscar nominations, and ultimately got an Honorary Oscar along with tribute awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press, the AFI, and the LA Film Critics.

Miss Barbara Stanwyck (not sure why she had that prefix) starred as the matriarch of a ranch on The Big Valley, (an attempt by someone to take advantage of the popularity of Bonanza). Running from 1965 to 1969, Stanwyck somewhat controversially refused to play the character as frail, and she may be one of the first powerful females on television.


Stanwyck has 3 Emmys, one for an early series, one for Big Valley, and one for The Thorn Birds. She did not, however, get an award for her most memorable performance, as Antonia Blake in the Charlie's Angels episode "Toni's Boys" (1980). In an unbelievable coincidence, Toni and Charlie are old colleagues and she, too, runs a private detective agency. But her staff is 3 young men. What are the odds?


Nor did she get any love for her work on The Colbys. Which I never actually watched, despite its shear camp value.

Now someone figure out where that quote is from.

Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace. (You too Randall.)

Backwards and in high heels

It's said the Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels. Dancing Backwards in High Heels is the name of a new(ish) musical about her life. It had a production at Florida State University's ASOLO Theatre back in May, presumably as park of its initial workshops.



Rogers won an Oscar for Kitty Foley and probably deserves better than this clip to commemorate her birthday.


Okay, here's a more traditional piece with Fred.


Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Linda Ronstadt

If you listen to her earnestly, you have to admit her voice is remarkable. Aside from the image of her on rollerskates on that album cover, this is a woman with one of the clearest (thank you Chris Wilson) voices in pop music--modifiers are unnecessarily limiting; she's worked in rock, pop, traditional pop, country, folk, Latin, light opera/musical theater, and children's music (so far).

Here's a sampling:





Her 10 Grammys and 17 more nominations span multiple categories in 10 areas (she has not yet been nominated in an R&B, rap, Native American or Hawaiian music category... or jazz). She won an Emmy in 1989 for Individual Performance, singing music from Canciones de Mi Padre in an episode of Great Performances. She was nominated for a Tony for Pirates of Penzance (with Rex Smith, bitches, you are old!!!) in 1981. She has no Oscar nominations, but she's performed at least one nominated song ("Somewhere Out There")--there are probably more, but I just realized the time.


She sings the Plow King jingle ("let it ring!") in English AND in Spanish in The Simpsons and I can't embed it!!!! Curse you, vile copyright enforcement. Click here to hear, and when the burp starts, close it.

In summary: we love Linda Ronstadt.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Let's Get Lost"

Bat for Lashes with Beck from the Eclipse soundtrack (its third SotD entry, after Muse and Metric). I'm sure I use the words "haunting" and "moody" way too much when I write about music, so I won't use those here. My it sure is sunny this morning... enjoy.
Let's Get Lost by planned_obsolescence

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And now for something completely different

From Boing Boing, how we (the US Federal Government) subsidize fossil fuels (here). Traditional fossil fuels receive $5 for every $1 spent on traditional renewable sources (bottom left compared to top right).

Remember this if we ever get the BP oil disaster under control (hey, did that cap work?)...
(Click image to embiggen.)

Holy shit it's Michael Steele!!!!

Right?

A little Digby helps put things into perspective

Yesterday (here) I was angry about something. Something about the economy, and the people who complain about the super high taxes and OMG the deficit, that ginormous deficit that came out of NOWHERE all of a sudden now that a top secret Kenyan is usurping the Presidency.

Esteemed blogger Digby (here) has another pretty line graph and some thoughtful words (click image to embiggen):
Corporations have been able to restore their profitability in the midst of the worst economy in generations even though sales levels are still below those before the recession began. When employers are able to recover their profits many years before their employees can even hope to attain the income and employment levels they had prior to recession’s devastation, economic policy is clearly skewed in favor of corporations and not workers.

















Well maybe they are skewed in favor of the corporations, but don't people understand that profits are hardly even worth having if people have to pay taxes on them? It's like a slap in the face, especially when bloggers are being so rude to them and all. CEOs have feelings too --- they put their Armani slacks on one leg at a time, just like you do. So while they may be making money hand over fist, they feel unloved and unappreciated. Those people running out of benefits should walk a mile in those CEOs' Prada slip-ons and see what real suffering is. I think they'd learn a thing or two.
The best part was a recap of someone from the Heritage Institute claiming that people are moving to New York state look for work to take advantage of 2 years worth of benefits. Despite the reality that your unemployment benefits are ALWAYS linked to the state where benefits initiated, regardless of where you move.

Dumbass (Heritage dude, not Digby... she's supercool).

Happy Birthday Harry Dean Stanton

Alien, Repo Man, and Paris, Texas. Okay, and Pretty in Pink. And Red Dawn, but that is it (btw, when is that remake out?). Greatness made greater by HDS. Okay, not Red Dawn (I mean, he's in it, he doesn't detract, but he's not a WOLVERINES now is he?).

You know what, let's focus on Travis in Paris, Texas. Director Wim Wenders won the Golden Palm for directing at the Cannes Film Festival. The screenplay is by Sam Shepard (who was originally slated for the role) based on a story by L.M. Kit Carson.

The band Travis take their name from the movie.

The band Texas take their name from the movie.

Kurt Cobain loved this movie. Okay, Kurt Cobain also married Courtney Love, so maybe we'll skip over this item.

The movie inspired U2's The Joshua Tree.

The movie is great, but I cannot stay awake through it from start to finish. The music, by Ry Cooder (based on a Blind Willie Johnson song), is haunting and somber and beautiful. And really quite relaxing.

The movie's pace is deliberate (some might call it "slow" or "plodding" or "ohmygodfastforward"). If you've seen Transformers, it's like that movie's negative image.



It's not set in Paris, Texas (which has rolling hills and lots of pine trees). The wasteland of a desert is West Texas. The finale is Dallas (or was it Houston?). Paris is the fantasy. The ideal.

Stanton is literally a man adrift in the desert, missing for years with no sense of who he is or where he's from. With the help of his brother (Dean Stockwell), he tries to find out what happened to his wife, his family.

It's probably cheating to include this scene out of context, but the torture Stanton carries is impressive and quiet and feels real. I think it's Kinksi's best work, but I've never watched Tess.


So there you go, Paris, Texas. Next year for HDS's birthday we'll do Alien (since last year it was Repo Man).

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Kissed It"

Another track from Macy Gray's The Sellout, this one features the musical stylings of Velvet Revolver (sigh... really? they're still a thing? has Scott Weiland met Courtney Love yet?). Well, regardless of who her "session musicians" (cough) are, here's Macy getting my funk on for me.
  Kissed It (Feat. Velvet Revolver) - Macy Gray by shiftdc1

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For fans of the Nazi Channel

(h\t Eric)

Someone's blog entry (here) reviewing a show on The History Channel (Becky calls it The Nazi Channel) called "World War II"--funny shit, here's a sample:
Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he's not only Prime Minister, he's not only a brilliant military commander, he's not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he's also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he's supposed to be the hero, but it's not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.

I can laugh because I wasn't around

I have an area in my house that I call the butler's pantry--it's a small hallway between the living room and the kitchen, and I have no other name for it even though I don't have a butler. Well, there's Clark, but he's more dog nanny than butler (although his nickname is Mr. French, I'm pretty sure he got that for other reasons).

And I have a dog, Midge, that is freaked out by fireworks, gun shots, and thunder (and similar loud noises). When she hears these noises, she wants to hide in her panic room--and her panic room is pretty much any place nearby that she decides will accommodate her Rubenesque frame (like, say, between the top of my head and the wall when I'm trying to sleep).

Clark was in the kitchen when suddenly there was weird movement behind him in the butler's pantry.

He was out when she went into panic mode, so there's no telling what did it. And just so you know, it was totally clean and organized until she got in there. Totally.

Eventually I might have a dog that's relatively normal. Rebel had issues. Midge has issues. Willy has issues with my shoes and sandals and flip flops. Gracie, I guess she's the normal one... aside from eating poop; yep, the most normal one eats poop.

Hooray for dogs.

Happy Birthday Norman Cook, part 4: Fatboy Slim

As Fatboy Slim, Norman is the only Housemartin with EGOT credentials--a Grammy for Short Form Video for "Weapons of Choice." It's an annoying quirk that the award goes to the "artist" (in this case Fatboy Slim and Bootsy Collins) and the director, but not to the supremely talented Christopher Walken.


The video for "Praise You" won 3 MTV Video Music Awards (including Best Choreography), and Kanye West did not interrupt a single one of those acceptance speeches. Its budget was $800, and was shot without any permits or permission.  



Hmmm, wasn't this featured in a TV commercial?


Ideally for "Rockafella Skank" I would use a scene from Friends, one of the early seasons, where Ross is hosting a party and playing this and doing the white guy head bob trying to look cool. Or the official video. Since neither is available to embed, here are 3 guys who make me feel a little bit better about myself.


And so concludes a day of Norman Cook. Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday Norman Cook, part 3: The Housemartins

Ah 1986, London 0, Hull 4, such a great debut. The year ends with their first #1, a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Caravan of Love." Then Norm leaves the band. The band eventually becomes The Beautiful South, and several albums later I stop caring. I'm not sure why, although PD Heaton becoming a colossal dick might have something to do with it. I will have to check out Dave Hemingway's recent solo album. Here's that last hit with Norman...

The post-Bush scorched earth economy

[NOTE: I started this earlier today, but wasn't able to give this much time since I was at work and needed to actually work--which I generally do, by the way, but if I see a quick opportunity for a post I take it. This deserved more thought and, frankly, anger. This very graphic is on screen as I sit down to watch Countdown, so hopefully I'm only part of the chorus today.]

(h\t Daily Kos)

If you, or someone you know, is complaining about the deficit, the looming expiration of the George W. Bush (war criminal) tax cuts for the wealthy, unemployment benefits or stimulus money, do not talk to me. The Bush era did more to fuck this country's economy over than any other 8 years ever, EVER.

This graph from The Atlantic (here) tells you a lot about the state of the economy. So Sharron Angle, pay some fucking attention--people out of work and looking for jobs outnumber available jobs by more than 3 to 1. When you factor in people who have given up even looking for work, it's a gap of about 14 million.













Anyone who thinks people are unemployed because they want to enjoy the lavish lifestyle that unemployed benefits offer are annoying idiots. Anyone who says that these people are lazy because there are jobs out there needs to shut the fuck up and never say anything about anything to anyone anywhere ever again.

"You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesn’t pay as much."--Sharron Angle
Sharron Angle, that means you. The easily-manipulated group of racists who decided to work against their own best interests to oppose the black guy in the Oval Office (aka the Tea Party) that gives you quasi-legitimacy as the official Republican candidate for Senate from Nevada should be ashamed of you.

I am fucking tired of people who don't actually give economics a serious thought whining about the deficit. Why do we have a deficit? Because George W. Bush, the war criminal, flushed away more than a trillion dollar surplus through tax cuts that heavily favored the ultra wealthy and 2 wars that never were appropriately budgeted for. It is unprecedented in American history to receive tax cuts DURING a war, and yet it happened under Bush. Every time I hear a Republican smack talking Obama about how he needs to remember we're in a war (Liz fucking Cheney) I wonder why they didn't remind Bush about that when he was cutting taxes. Grrrr, I am mad as hell right now.

So our country is broke down from Bush. We are in some serious shit right now. The best way out is from massive government programs.  A "new deal" that hires 500,000 Americans tomorrow to get them weatherizing old homes for this winter--less energy demand in the winter means lower energy costs for everyone. Subsidies for back to school supplies for kids of unemployed parents (summer just started here, but I know back to school is looming down south, and that shit's not cheap). An infusion of cash into suffering public transportation systems, and bring every bridge in this country up to current safety standards. Open centers that train young adults for daycare work while offering free or low-cost daycare. Hire 100,000 Americans to start cleaning up the BP oil disaster.

Worried about the deficit? Tough shit, the time to worry about that was around 2004. Build a time machine and go complain.

But here's your chance for some philosophical integrity: when the temporary Bush tax cuts expire, don't complain. They are contributing to the deficit and you know how much you hate that. Oh, and those temporary tax cuts were only supposed to be temporary.

And they resulted in NO FUCKING JOBS. So don't EVER AGAIN say that tax cuts will spur new jobs. You have a decade of evidence to the contrary so shut the fuck up.

If you are out of work and complain about the expiration of these tax cuts, you are stupid. If you aren't working, you aren't paying (many) taxes, so you won't be hurt. What are the wealthy doing for you that you don't want them to pay their fair share again?

If you make enough money to be affected by the expiration of these tax cuts and object, you are selfish, pure and simple. Seriously, the people who complain about their taxes today are selfish. Many of these are the same people who romanticize about the 1950s, when tax rates were 2-3 times higher. What the fuck?

And do not give me any of that libertarianism bullshit. The BP oil disaster and the fucking financial meltdown are great examples of how, when markets are deregulated, bad things happen. Oil clean-up technology has NOT advanced any since Exxon Valdez despite constant industry deregulation. But according to Ayn Rand some fucking genius should have revolutionized that industry and would be king of the world. Instead we're pouring toxic chemicals in the water to hide the oil. Same as we did before.

Democrats in Congress continue to flail around trying to make compromises to get an extension to unemployment benefits. If you are out of work, go sit in your Congressperson's office. Just go sit. Maybe while you're there ask them how their staff size has changed over the last 5 years--you think they've suffered the same dynamics real business has?

I don't know if any of this made any sense but quit fucking bitching about the deficit unless you are Paul Krugman and have been waving the red flag since 2001... he's exempt.

Fuck.

Happy Birthday Norman Cook, part 2: Brighton Port Authority (BPA)

I don't understand Norman's penchant for pseudonyms (a word I apparently can't spell), but I think it's charming. Perhaps he's avoiding contractual obligations to record labels, perhaps he's making his Wikipedia entry excessively confusing, as long as the end product is great music, I don't care.

And so far, it's been good music. Last year he released an album as BPA, and made song of the day with the Iggy Pop-sung track "He's Frank (Slight Return)." In the interest of spotlighting different music here's a fantastic track with Emmy the Great, "Seattle":


Ashley Beedle provides the vocals on "Should I Stay or Should I Blow":


More birthday fun soon...

Oh snap! Parody and commentary edition!

Sherry Vine uses Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" to go after some closeted politicians. And Aaron Schock thought he dealt with all those rumors by burning that belt... oops.

Song of the Day: "When She Passed By"

I have been enthusiastic about Here Lies Love since I got it last week--it's loaded with a fantastic set of tracks. I haven't listened to it sequentially, and something tells me that following the blueprint will pay off. If you haven't been paying attention, HLL is a concept album (soon to be a musical production) about the life of Imelda Marcos (and the more I read about her, the more I understand why she would be an excellent subject; her quotes include "Filipinos want beauty. I have to look beautiful so that the poor Filipinos will have a star to look at from their slums"). The album is from David Byrne and BIRTHDAY BOY NORMAN COOK (working as Fatboy Slim), and this track features the vocals of Allison Moorer (an Oscar nominee about 12 years ago for one of the songs people had never heard and when it gets performed, so they go make popcorn--also she's Shelby Lynne's sister or something).

HLL is set in nightclubs around the world in the disco era of the late 70s and early 80s, but this track has an entirely different feel from most of the music. And therein reinforces the genius at work behind this album. When it first played on my morning commute the other day, I thought it was an Indigo Girls song I hadn't heard before.

Eric and I talked about the singers yesterday. I'd been wanting to make a point that there was no one "super famous" like Christina Aguillera or Fergie, and he wondered why Annie Lennox wasn't on here. The voices are so nicely paired with each song that I feel like they cherry picked singers, going for quality over name recognition--it would be great to know if they approached singers who said no, or if they really thought of Moorer specifically for this track, because she rocks this shit. So much that I'll be looking for her earlier albums at the library.


The Norman Cook birthday celebration continues soon...

Happy Birthday Norman Cook, part 1: Beats International

OMFG I love Norman Cook. Love. Like Bea Arthur love.

Why?

Because the dude turned Billy Bragg into a dance artist!

Groove on this, Norman's first post-Housemartins release, as Beats International, sampling the guitar intro to "Levi Stubbs' Tears" and featuring vocals from Billy as well.


Beats International had a bigger hit with "Dub Be Good to Me" (if you can count any non-Billy Bragg dance track as a hit... I mean, really, I guess you can). This track samples The Clash's "Guns of Brixton" and borrows lyrics from The S.O.S. Band's "Just be Good to Me," and it was jam hot (I'm not sure to what temperature one must cook jam, but apparently it's very hot).


Our celebration of the multifaceted gem that is Norman Cook, and his birthday, continues soon...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Cheyenne Jackson

I now know 3 people who call themselves Cheyenne's biggest fans. But since only one of them has been stalking him for a full decade now, I think John can feel safe with the crown (for now--have you made him any macaroni art recently?). Here's Cheyenne in his non-Tony nominated role in the really-fucking-brilliant-all-things-considered Xanadu (the Broadway musical, not the nightmarish movie; Douglas Carter Beane you deserved, I don't know, a Pulitzer Prize for that adaptation).


Happy birthday dude! Rock on! And say hi to your stalkers for me. Some of them never even email these days...

Happy Birthday Richard Simmons

Because why the fuck not?


Happy birthday dude! Rock on! And do not change a thing... ever.

Song of the Day: "Another Love (Tanqueray)"

A couple of publicity-types have added my blog to their email lists based on my including their clients' songs as a SotD. I've gotten some offers to conduct interviews and receive preview copies of albums--all with musicians I've never heard of--so I pass.

The minute someone wants to hook me up with Nona Hendryx, Roddy Frame or Liza Minelli (what, it would be a train wreck!) we can talk. Until then, I do occasionally give a listen, and sometimes someone makes it to the much coveted "song of the day" (SotD) title.

Such is the journey of an artist called everyBoy. Don't know much, it appears that everyBoy is a single person, and a male. Is he representative of the common youth in the way "everyman" is a proxy in literature?

God I hope not, if only because that portends that I will be getting another 70 million emails from publicity-types in the near future. I'm too busy with my inheritances and lotteries (here) to read all of them, so that is an overwhelming thought.

The prominent comparisons made at his website (here) are to Bob Dylan and George Harrison, which are awfully auspicious. But, never once did I see the names Ray Lamontagne or Neutral Milk Hotel (listen to the guitar--also that's why I like the song).

Regardless, they sent, I listened, and now I present all y'all with everyBoy's first SotD.

Two headlines on "Don't Ask/Don't Tell"

Both are Twitter accounts I follow regularly. See if you can identify which one is from The Onion and which one isn't:
  • "Pentagon Spends $4.4 Million to Test Troops' Gaydar"
  • "Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Paves Way For Gay Sex Right On Battlefield, Opponents Fantasize"
The first headline is from esteemed statistician/polling expert/sports numbers prognosticator dude (as far as I'm concerned, he established himself using amazing multivariate models around MLB teams), Nate Silver at his Five Thirty Eight (the number of votes in the Electoral College) blog (here). It regards a survey of active duty troops regarding their feelings about a possible repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell"--I ranted about the survey last week (here).

Nate took an opportunity to read and critique the survey. While the survey asks if the service member currently serves with someone he/she believes to be homosexual, he notes that there is no follow-up   about how the sexuality of that presumably closeted service member impacts troop morale or unit readiness... or if it even does.

He also points out the absence of a question to get an understanding of how troops are basing their knowledge of said homosexuality:

You might think Solider Q is homosexual if...


[Definitive evidence]
-- You've had sex with Soldier Q.
-- Soldier Q has told you that he's gay.
-- Soldier Q identifies as gay on his facebook or MySpace profile.
-- You find gay pornography that seems to belong to Soldier Q.
-- You find what seems be a love letter from a same-sex partner in Soldier Q's possession.
-- You're pretty sure that Soldier Q made a pass at you.
-- Soldier P claims that Soldier Q made a pass at him.
-- Soldier P claims that he saw Soldier Q walking into a gay bar on shore leave.
-- Soldier P tells you that "everyone knows" that Soldier Q is gay.
-- Soldier Q has a number of close gay friends.
-- Soldier Q listens to music that is popular with gay people.
-- Soldier Q likes to tell homoerotic jokes.
-- Soldier Q has some pretty effeminate mannerisms.
-- Soldier Q just seems a little bit peculiar.
[Dubious evidence]
I left 2 comments (although the second doesn't seem to have taken), the first of which is in earnest:
Nate's illustrative spectrum of possible evidence for thinking a soldier is gay omits the fairly definitive: "complains almost obsessively about GAYS IN THE MILITARY." (See also: Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Mitch McConnell)
My second, much funnier comment points out that the intro to that list sounds an awful lot like a stand-up comedy routine ("if he spends more on designer underwear in one month than you do on clothes in one year, you might be serving with a homosexual" or "if you've heard him call 8 different people his 'girlfriend' but not one of 'em was a girl" or, I don't know, something something mud flaps on truck something something lesbian (you can work that one up for me, thanks)).

Oh, and it's quaint that "because you've had sex with Soldier Q" is on that list, because I can tell you, after having had sex with Soldier Q (not his real name), he does NOT think he's gay. In fact, he doesn't even think of himself as bisexual. So, you know, factor that one in kids.

The second headline is from the always brilliant The Onion (here):
"We're sending our soldiers out there with a mission, and that mission is to protect this country," said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), one of many conservative politicians who staunchly oppose the change. "If this is repealed, what's to stop all-night sex romps from breaking out while U.S. servicemen are hiding in a bunker, or crawling around an irrigation ditch bathed only by the light of the moon, or, say, the dozens of other situations I've already thought through in elaborate detail?"
"We can't allow this to happen," Gohmert added as beads of sweat collected on his brow. "It's wrong. Sweaty male sex—no matter how erotic and uninhibited—is so wrong and so, so naughty."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rant of the day

(h\t Bill in Exile)

The music business of 1994 is failing. Failed.

But their inability to grapple with changes to a variety of market factors is their undoing. It's easy to make the recent drop in CD sales about illegal file sharing (in fact it's more attributable to saturation of back catalog CD purchases--folks had finally gotten all the old music they were ever going to re-purchase on CD by like 1998) and labels are now quick to smack down any seeming copyright infringement at fan websites and on the youtube.

In another world, record labels WANT radio stations to play their songs. They WANT club DJs to play their songs. They WANT people to request their music. They WANT record store employees to make big creative displays promoting their products.

But if you take a song for which there is no music video, and create a music video of just the record's printed label with the song accompanying it, so that people can find it on youtube, the record labels (the companies, not the printed label) knock that shit off faster than you can say "whatever happened to travel agents?" (another industry challenged by the internet).

Here's a rant from someone a little more engaged in the whole scene than I am,  but it's clear that record labels are failing fast. And all they can think to do is fight this thing called the internet, instead of harnessing its amazing powers (many of which are non-pornographic I am told). Of course, that makes sense since justifying their own existence (in terms of the ridiculous percent of a record's sale they keep before paying the artist [for an artist's first 7 albums--if they're lucky enough to end that 7-album streak on a high note, they get a much better contract for the next 7]) is a lot easier when there are all kinds of pressing, printing, assembly and shipping logistics to account for. Uploading files to a server for paid download is remarkably easy.

Quote of the day

(h\t Towleroad)

"The rights of a minority should never be subjected to the tyranny of the majority and this is exactly what the governor is suggesting. Imagine if a voter referendum had been applied to past issues in history. Congress would not have been able to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court would not have been able to overturn state bans on interracial marriage in 1967."--Hawaii Star-Ledger editorial today (here)

The editorial is in response to Gov. Linda Lingle's (R,HI) veto of a same sex civil unions bill (the "colored water fountains" of relationship recognition!). And Lingle didn't veto the bill because it's an offense to citizens who aren't afforded equal protections (which would be possibly be a legitimate reason).

No, Lingle vetoed it for a litany of conflicting and ultimately stupid reasons:
  • A brother can't marry a sister (this might have been germane had this been a marriage bill, but it's not)
  • First cousins can't marry in Hawaii (which is actually untrue, if they are of the opposite sex they can get married and divorced and remarried)
  • The act of creating these same-sex colored water fountains civil unions is so significant that it should not be done by the Hawaii legislature (as the Hawaii Constitution requires) but by the general electorate of the state. The legislature was obligated to take this step.

Happy Birthday Suzanne Vega

"That line is the horizon.
We watch the wind and set the sail,
but save ourselves when all omens
point to fail."

I've loved her since her first album, but I never liked "Luka." Or the DNA remix of "Tom's Diner." It's tough to have an artist you really hold in high esteem associated with, um, hits I guess.

I remember watching her promote her first album way back when, on Atlanta's local music television station, Channel 69. The VJ called her Susan Vega. She wasn't thrilled to be there. They played "Marlena on the Wall." I like the song but I'm jumping forward. Between her first and second albums was a song on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack--Joe Jackson played piano on "Left of Center" and it seems like such a more likely pop hit than "Luka" that, to this day, I am confused.


Her fourth album, 99.9F° was produced by Mitchell Froom, whom she would marry shortly after. The album has a uniquely electronic sound for Vega, and seemed to coincide nicely with the surge in popularity of industrial music, buoying her sales a little. I don't know whether or not "In Liverpool" struck a chord with me on my initial listenings, but Chris Wilson pointed the song out later that year, and I went back to listen specifically to the song. He's right (he usually is about music)--the song, you know what, just listen.


Her Nine Objects of Desire album featured "Caramel" which was used in The Truth About Cats and Dogs and Closer.


Vega divorced Froom after NOoD, and that break-up fueled some of her best song-writing, culminating in Songs in Red and Gray, her best album to date. But it was released on Sept. 25, 2001, so you might imagine that we were all pre-occupied with other stuff besides new music. I remember reading in interview with Vega who said she felt like her performing a metaphorical song like "Widow's Walk" when so many widows were created on September 11 was wrong. I guess she got over it enough to perform it on whichever of Craig Kilborn's shows this was.


Vega has 1 Grammy award, for art direction, for her Days of Open Hand release. She's one of an array of great songwriters who have been awarded Grammys for designing their album art. (Hey, it counts.)

I leave you with another track from Songs in Red and Gray, her 30-ish years later rejoinder to Rod Stewart, "(I'll Never Be Your) Maggie May."


Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Here Lies Love"

The title track from David Byrne & Fatboy Slims concept album about Imelda Marcos--it opens the album and features Florence Welch of Florence + the Machines on vocals. They got some fantastic vocal talents to contribute to this album--it feels like they cherry picked each vocalist, and by the end of this song, you'll see what I mean.
01 - Here Lies Love by jinp6301