February 2008 Archives

Friday Random Top 10

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I went to a Timberwolves game this past week. Al Jefferson needs to learn how to box out. Here’s your Friday Random Top 10:

1. Moods for Moderns – Elvis Costello
2. My Back Pages – Bob Dylan
3. Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Suede
4. Ooh Las Vegas – Gram Parsons
5. The Gash – The Flaming Lips
6. Good Lovin’ – Grateful Dead
7. You Won’t See Me – The Beatles
8. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 – Luther Wright and the Wrongs
9. Shot in the Arm – Wilco
10. De Clare Guerre Nucleaine – The Hives

For a limited time only at Starbucks: Deep Cuts a 10-song CD of lesser-played songs from your favorite artists. Act now, or you may only hear these songs on your I-Pod’s shuffle feature.

What’s your top 10?

New Ballpark Perspective

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Over at Minnpost.com David Brauer has an enlightening slideshow demonstrating some of the features of the new Twins ballpark. What is really interesting is a comparison of the seats in the Metrodome v. seats in the new ballpark. Here's the link.

Of course there are features we all know about and have seen in newer ballparks such as open concourses, more restrooms, seats that actually face the field, and a gigantic color scoreboard. What’s more, from these slides you can see that the lower bowl seats will be much lower than the lower deck of the Metrodome. However, because of the club seats and suites, the last rows of the upper deck will actually be slightly higher. (Which plays right into the concerns Spycake brought up last week with this post). Less rows, however, so easier to get to the rest rooms or the concourses. Interesting note: The “tiara? of lights that will surround the ballpark is actually higher than the roof of the dome!

Anyway, I am excited and can’t believe that in two years from now we will be literally weeks away from the first outdoor Twins game in a generation. The ballpark looks like it will be gorgeous. Also, even thought it was frustrating waiting so long, I think the wait has ensured that we are getting a ballpark that is baseball focused. In the early part of this decade there were a number of new ballparks that opened that didn’t put baseball first. Instead the teams felt like they had to add other features or artificial quirks to their ballparks. I’m thinking of the amusement park in Detroit and the “hill? in Houston. Fortunately the pendulum has swung the other way for the Twins. No forced and artificial “retro? look. No quirky features meant to evoke the Green Monster or Ivy-strewn fences, no artificial or retractable roofs hulking over the site. Just a clean, simple design, with modern features; place to soak in the sun, sit back, and watch a baseball game.

What do you think of the design?

Pawlenty Gets Vetoed

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So finally after three tries the State Legislature finally overrides Governor Pawlenty’s veto of a transportation funding bill. Funny how the deaths of 13 people and the need for one 300 million dollar bridge can shake up party loyalties.

Word from St. Paul is that the Governor is pissed and I’ve heard a lot from Republicans about their “concern? for hard workin’ families and how the gas tax will impact their wallets. Funny no concern about how hard working families are stuck in inadequate roads, having to spend more and more time in their cars or buses to get to and from work. Where’s that concern? Where’s the concern that we are falling behind economically (read jobs) because our infrastructure is literally collapsing?

Actually I think T-Paw’s peevishness is related to two items. First is his Veep standing. One of his positives in the eyes of Republicans is that he had controlled spending and taxes in a pretty Democratic state. It’s one thing to do it in Oklahoma but to do that in Minnesota. Looks good on the GOP resume.

But more importantly I think the Republicans know that in the end an extra $50 or so a year for gas is not really that big of deal for most if not all families and if we get a better infrastructure system out of it, all the better. That really goes against what the Republicans are trying to sell us. People ARE willing to spend more as long as they get something out of it. If the Republicans lose that argument, they have very, very little to run on.

Finally I think a shout out is deserved for the Twins ballpark funding plan. First, how come no one is complaining that there is no referendum for the increase in the sales tax to pay for transportation improvements? I thought that was a big deal? Second the ballpark deal demonstrated that politicians could raise the sales tax with no blowback at the ballot box. No surprise a year or so after the Twins were able to raise $$$ through the sale tax that politicians are coming back to the sales tax to pay for transportation and open space improvements.

Academy Award Thoughts

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I was quite happy that Diablo Cody won for best screenplay. Michael Clayton was good but Juno was great. It was all screenplay. Plus not too many times you see an Academy Award winner with a smoking tattoo. Finally I thought her opening line "What is happening?" was about as honest a statement that was stated all night.

Those three nominated songs from Enchanted were just wretched. I would have barfed if one of those won. I am very happy that Falling Slowly won. The way that song was presented and filmed in Once is very well done. You just see Glen Hansard’s soul opening up as they play that song. One of the great movie scenes from the past year.

No surprise about Daniel Day Lewis. Although I thought his role was just Bill the Butcher moved forward in time 50 years. The last two minutes of that movie were such a buzz kill although “I drink your milkshake? is a line that will life in infamy.

I haven’t seen No Country for Old Men because I’m not sure I want to deal with all that violence plus I heard it’s another movie with a non-ending. It sounds like the Coen’s were deserving of their awards and Ethan Coen's acceptance "speeches" were just hilarious.

That French woman who won for Best Actress was absolutely stunning. Tilda Swinton was very funny and that red hair was just shocking. Not sure if there was anything else that really stood out.

What did you think of the Oscars?

Friday Random Top 10

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I just love how Cindy McCain has called her husband"a man of great character." She then went on to say that she and their children "know he would never have done anything to disappoint not only our family but ... our country." Funny coming from the woman with whom John McCain was having an affair with that basically broke up his first marriage.

Here's the Top 10:

1. How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead
2. When I Come Around - Green Day
3. You're a Soldier - Husker Du
4. Run On - Elvis Presley
5. Aspiration - Yung Wu
6. Wild Cats of Kilkenny - The Pogues
7. You Don't Know My Mind - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
8. Just Like Anyone - Soul Asylum
9. Down My Block - Trip Shakespeare
10. Marching Bands of Manhatten - Death Cab for Cutie

I like this list. Just think if you were in your car this block of 10 songs came on the radio? Nice. What's your top 10?

Sweet (Ballpark) Suites

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Jay Weiner at Minnpost.com has an article up on the suites in the new Twins ballpark. Now Jay has been following the saga of stadium building in the Twin Cities for a long time but I thougt the slant of his article was a little too hysterical.

Basically it looks like the suites are going to be beautiful (see picture above). Nice cabinetry, plenty of flatscreen tvs, leather chairs, good sitelines, granite countertops, etc. The article has an attitude that this is a bad thing, maybe a sniff of ati-elitism going on. My take is who cares? I don't have enough $$$ for a suite but if others do and the Twins can sell them, that means they won't be looking to take as much out of my pocket when I go to the game.

It looks like the Twins have committments on 44 of the 55 planned suites. At $90,000 to $200,000 a year, that's not too bad. That's 44x$90,000 to $200,000 that I won't have to cough up. Who knows, maybe the Twins will be able to afford Delmon Young's next $150 million contract!

Bottom line is I want this ballpark to be top notch. I want it to be a beautiful place to watch Major League Baseball outdoors. If some corporate suits want to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilige, all the power to 'em. Just get me a ballpark I can be proud of.

The Great Abyss

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We are mired in the great abyss right now. It’s great that Spring Training is starting but that’s more like a tease, a marker that we have to hit before it can actually be Spring. In the meantime we wait for the NHL and NBA playoffs (and then wait forever until they end); March Madness is a couple of weeks away; nothing happening in football. In Minnesota it’s even worse as the T-Wolves, Gopher hoops, and Gopher Hockey should all end in a whimper, not a bang. The Wild will be going to the playoffs but no one thinks they are in the league of Detroit, Dallas, or Anaheim. Is English Premier League soccer is going on?

These last two weeks of February can really be a chore. Too cold to do anything outside. Not much happening inside as this is also the dead zone for movies and albums. Also most musical acts stay clear of Minnesota during this time too so good luck finding a concert to hit up. Heck, after Tuesday there isn’t a presidential primary until March 4th, so we’ll be going over the same stale political issues for the next two weeks as well.

What are you doing to stay sane? I’m torn between converting old home videos to DVD and taking a lot of naps. Got any ideas?

Friday Random Top 10

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Down in Wabasha a 5th Grade Catholic School teacher was summarily fired because she got pregnant and isn’t married. The Principle and the Priest trotted out a sheet of paper that the teacher signed saying that basically she will be a morally upstanding person. Apparently pre-marital, procreating sex goes against that paper she signed.

My nephew goes to this school and I know a little more than what’s been in the paper or on the news. The school community is really torn up about this. Teachers are going to quit, some families are going to leave the school, and a young single mom-to-be will have no means to support her coming child. Now the Priest and principle are well within their rights to fire the teacher. But is it right? What kind of pre-natal care will this child now get? How will this young mother be able to raise a child without health insurance or money for rent, groceries and diapers?

Sometimes it seems like our leaders and institutions are more worried about the theory or principles behind their actions than the how those principles are carried out in the real world. It’s why there is so much cynicism these days. Don’t you wish you could go up to the Priest and Principle and say “how can you be pro-life when you are going to deny a mother the means to make sure she has a healthy baby?? I would then follow up by asking “In this time of Lent, when we read and study the Beatitudes in our Masses, how can you act in such a manner that is contrary to Jesus’ teachings?? I wouldn’t hold my breath for a decent answer.

With that, here’s this week’s top 10:

1. Whiskey Marijuana (live) – Supersuckers
2. Black Wave – The Shins
3. I Can’t Get Next To You – Al Green
4. Watch Your Step – Elvis Costello
5. Ornithology – Bud Powell
6. Just – Radiohead
7. Family Tree – Loretta Lynn
8. Ballad of a Thin Man – Bob Dylan
9. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Cowboy Junkies
10. My Best Was Never Good Enough – Bruce Springsteen

What’s your Top 10?

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

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Nothing brightens up the dregs of Winter in February like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Guys can take their favorite sports magazine and check out the latest swimsuit fashions and exotic travel locations and dream of warmer weather that is at least three months away. The fact that there are shapely models in the swimsuits is an added bonus.

This year Sports Illustrated placed all of its Swimsuit issue photos online with easy-to-navigate links to photos by model and local. In addition there are videos and content that is not available in the magazine. These photos are available to all, no need to subscribe to SI, sign-up for anything, etc.

It’s obvious that Sports Illustrated gets the internet. Many magazines and some newspapers still try to limit their online content to subscribers and “premium service? payers. Obviously they are worried that if it’s on the internets for free, no one will buy their magazine. This is short sighted and foolish. First magazines have what is called portability: you can bring it anywhere. Although it is becoming much easier to lug notebook computers around, it will never be as convenient as a magazine. More importantly, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue will be on newsstands for a month, the online content for much longer than that. If you check out the SI link, there is a lot of advertisement on the site as well. By not charging for the content, Sports Illustrated is ensuring that a lot more eyes will see those ads, and that is where the money is on the web.

The lesson here is that the internet is not going anywhere and is only going to be more omnipresent in the future. Content providers need to embrace the internet, use it to increase brand awareness of their publication and to drive eyeballs to their site and on-line advertisers. If you fight digital distribution of your product, you will end up like the music industry, becoming irrelevant to a large part of the culture-consuming population.

Potomac Primary Sweep

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Wow. Most thought that Obama would sweep the primary states of Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. But to win by nearly 30 points in Virginia and Marland, 50 points in DC? Only the most wild-eyed Obama supporter would have suggested that. Clinton is clearly on the ropes and needs something to quickly change the dynamic of this race.

What has to get the Hillary supporters nervous is that in Virginia and Maryland Obama won constituencies that previously belonged to Clinton, including those making less than $50,000, older people, and Latinos. I read something interesting last night that suggested that lower income and lesser educated voters tend to process election information much later than highly educated, higher income people. Therefore, the lower income people, who have been the backbone of Clinton’s support, first voted for Clinton but as they become better acquainted with Obama, his share of that vote will go up. Not sure if this is true or not but if it is, Clinton is in big trouble. The Wisconsin results next Tuesday will be another test of this theory.

Also in Obama’s speech last night he turned his focus to John McCain as if Obama was the presumptive nominee and is looking ahead to the November election. Of course there is always the danger of looking too far ahead but a Obama-McCain back-and-forth could shunt Clinton to the sidelines. However, the McCain people couldn’t have been too pleased when the news channels went from Obama’s speech to McCain’s. Obama was animated, inspiring, the crowd behind him was a mix of young and old, black and white, men and women. McCain’s speech was somnambular and behind him were a bunch of old white fossils, including Senator John Warner who looked like they just picked up from the morgue. Talk about the future v. the past.

Finally I know it’s not valid to compare primary vote counts to general election vote counts but Tuesday’s results once again shows a definite “enthusiasm gap? between the democrats and republicans. Democrats received twice as many votes as republicans in a bedrock (but changing) red state like Virginia. Obama received more votes than all the republican votes combined and Clinton received a 100,000 more votes than McCain. If the Democrats can keep their supporters this charged up, we are looking at some big wins come November.

U2 is Everywhere

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Last week I posted a review of the U2-3D movie which I thought was really cool. I didn't mention that I went to the movie with Shane of Greet Machine and after the movie we heard the song Zooropa on The Current.

This past weekend I went to the movie again with the family. We all thought it was a blast. Also on Cities 97 on the way home we heard One Tree Hill by U2. Shane ended up going to the movie again on Sunday with his family and he tells me he heard Pride (In the Name of Love) by U2 on the radio on his way home.

Now I think that is pretty freaky. I see three possibilities:

U2 is so radio-friendly that you are bound to hear them on at least one radio station in any 30-minute period. We could have been going to see Meet the Spartans three different times and would have heard a U2 song on the way home.

Radio stations know when the movie lets out and purposefully program a U2 song 10-30 minutes after the show to cement a bond between the movie goer and the radio station.

Movie goers are so full of the Holy Bono Spirit that the psycho-spitural energy generated causes radio DJ's to unthinkingly program a U2 song.

What's your theory?

Friday Random Top 10

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O.k. O.k. So Timmy Brewster can recruit. Rating services rank the Gopher's incoming football class from 16 to 25. Now let's see if he can coach!! This week's top 10:

1. In the Jungle - The Hives
2. Strawberry Fields Forever - Jim Sturges
3. Can't Seem To Make You Mine - Alex Chilton
4. I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats
5. You Make Me Feel So Young - Frank Sinatra
6. Shake Shake Shake Your Booty - K.C. & The Sunshine Band
7. Holiday Song - Pixies
8. St. Swithin's Day - Billy Bragg
9. Delta 88 - X
10. New England - Jonathan Richman

Wow! Now that's what I call a divese list. Not sure what to make of that. what's your top 10?

Super Tuesday Wrap-up

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If I was a true blogger, I would have had my analysis of the Super Tuesday results posted bright and early Wednesday morning. Alas Thursday lunch is the best I can do. With Mitt Romney dropping out today, it’s more than apparent that McCain is going to be the Republican nominee. Careful what you wish for Republicans… you just might get it.

Also obviously the democratic results were a mixed bag with the vote and delegate totals fractions of a percentage apart from each other. Obama won more states, Clinton won bigger states. What this means is that the two candidates are basically tied. However Obama has the perceived momentum as not even a month ago Clinton was ahead everywhere. That’s not the case now. Also the February states favors Obama. We should see a slow but steady pulling away from Clinton between now and early March. Finally there are a couple of really big, important states at the tail end of this process: Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Right now Clinton looks like she is ahead in those states. I think Obama has to show that he can win a big state in order to close the deal.

I also wanted to point out vote totals and party enthusiasm. In Minnesota, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by over 3-1 in caucus participation. If you don’t think that scares the bejesus out of Senator Coleman, you’re not paying attention. What’s real interesting is that D’s outvoted R’s in almost every state on Tuesday, including some staunchly red states like Tennessee (100,000 more D’s than R’s), Georgia and even Oklahoma! Obama got 75,000 more votes than Huckabee in Alabama and Obama got more votes than McCain in Oklahoma. Republican strategists looked at these numbers and just cringe. Explains why we are seeing so many retirements on that side of the aisle.

I think Obama v. McCain would be a landslide of epic proportions. I also think Clinton would beat McCain but with a little more blood, sweat, and tears shed along the way. Don’t get caught up in the number crunching that Obama doesn’t do as well with Latinos as Clinton; Clinton doesn’t do as well with white men as Obama, etc. For the most part Democrats are happy with either candidate and will gladly and enthusiastically vote for either candidate this coming November.

What’s your take?

Music and Memory

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Over the past year I’ve been hitting the library hard, listening to CD’s that I don't own. It’s a lot cheaper than buying CD’s and I am able to experiment with bands I’ve always been interested in but not willing to invest the $$$ and going back and re-visiting albums I always loved but never converted from LP to CD.

Recently I accomplished the latter by tracking down Graham Parker’s Squeezing out the Sparks and Like This by The dBs. Both were albums that I loved in the early to mid-eighties. (Graham Parker even earlier). Both albums were full of hook-filled pop songs that for some reason got classified in the “punk rock? or “new wave? genre. Both albums are critically acclaimed but not huge sellers (Squeezing Out the Sparks is 335 on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums). I never got either album on CD and I would say it’s been over 20 years since I heard Like This and probably closer to 25 years since I’ve heard Squeezing Out the Sparks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song on The Current, movie soundtrack or Wendy’s commercial either.

What I found interesting is that even though it’s been more than 20 years since I heard these songs, I knew them note-for-note as if I had listened to them every day! I knew exactly the chorus, the beat, the hooks, and what the next song would be. It got me thinking about music and memory and how our brains can remember some things quite easily and others, not so much. I think if I looked at a text book or course syllabus from a college class I took at the same time I was listening to these albums, much of it would seem like new.

I did a little research on music and memory and found out that music definitely helps with memory. Research has indicated that simple melodies get “stuck? in our heads easier than more complex ones. Evolutionary biologists theorized that simpler tunes helped the ancient profession of the bard sing and remember oral histories. It has been shown that the more predictable the tune, the easier it is to get stuck in the head. When subjects are asked to remember a song in their heads, the same parts of the brains light up except fainter and the primary auditory cortex is not activated as much. In fact there is an interesting anecdote of a woman with chronic dementia who could not remember integral portions of her life such her place of birth, her place of residence for the majority of her life, or if she had had a short career singing on the radio. Despite this extreme dotage, she could remember every song she had sang perfectly!

Just when I was all smug in my music and memory research I came across another example that threw everything back into the mixer. The band Buffalo Tom was in town this weekend and although I didn’t go, it was a band I always kind of liked. I remember an early song by the band called Birdbrain which I thought was really cool. I’ve always meant to track down that song because I thought it was so good and would lament when KOUM or The Current would play a Buffalo Tom song but not that song. So anyway, the visit to First Avenue finally motivated me to hit the library looking for some Buffalo Tom music. I picked out a greatest hits type album and immediately found Birdbrain. Talk about your disappointment. It was not at all how I remembered it and couldn’t believe I’ve pined for that song over so many years. Just shows how sometimes your memory can deceive you.

Anyway, any songs out there you thought you liked but after hearing it you don’t know why?

U2 in 3D!!!

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I was lucky enough to have the good folks at reviellemag.com provide for me a ticket to the new U2 Concert movie. It’s playing at the I-MAX theater at the Minnesota Zoo and has the added feature of being in 3D. In one word it was dazzling.

The music of course was great. The movie was filmed during U2’s Vertigo tour and was taken during their stretch in South America. Although the tour was in support of the How to Build an Atomic Bomb album, the movie showcased U2’s hits and only included a few songs from HTBAAB. (See Song list below) The I-MAX sound system was great although I wish it was even louder to get more of the concert feel.

The 3D effects really added to the film. Fortunately there were no spears or other objects thrown at the audience to get them to duck. The best way I could describe it is that the 3D effects gave “volume? to what you saw. Many times it seemed like the viewer was on stage standing next to Bono or The Edge. During the song Where the Streets Have No Name, the 3D effects made the audience appear to pulsate on screen. During Sunday Bloody Sunday when Bono is singing “wipe your tears away? he is walking toward the camera (also the viewer) with an outstretched hand, ready to wipe your tears. It was amazing. It was by far the coolest concert film experience I’ve ever had.

A lot has been written about U2 and the religious basis of their music, something they’ve downplayed over the past 10-15 years. But during some of their more “inspirational? songs I truly felt that this band was just oozing the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to explain but watching U2 perform really feels like a religious experience. During the song With or Without You there were shots of the audience facing the stage with outstretched arms as if they were receiving some sort of personal salvation. The Billy Graham himself probably hasn't saved as many souls in one sitting as Bono did in Argentina.

Anyway a great film and I would encourage all to pay the I-MAX premium to see it. I might take the whole family before it leaves on February 10th.

Song List
1. "Vertigo"
2. "Beautiful Day"
3. "New Year's Day"
4. "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"
5. "Love and Peace or Else"
6. "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
7. "Bullet the Blue Sky"
8. "Miss Sarajevo" / Reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
9. "Pride (In the Name of Love)"
10. "Where the Streets Have No Name"
11. "One"
12. "The Fly"
13. "With or Without You"
14. "Yahweh

Friday Random Top 10

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O.k. I’m back off the ledge… I’ve recalibrated my meds…. I’m in the acceptance stage of Johan Santana’s leaving the Twins for the Mets. I don’t mind trading Santana: He was going to be too expensive for the Twins and he wanted the big stage. But 4 minor leaguers!!?? And not Martinez?!! Two, maybe three of these guys have to be solid contributing players in the next couple of years for the Twins to consider this trade a success. Makes me pine for 2010 and a new stadium even more. These next two years may be grim in the HHH Metrodome.

Well there I feel better already. Here’s this week’s top 10:

1. We’re Desperate - X (no this isn’t about the Twins, although it could be)
2. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
3. Oh Very Young – Cat Stevens (See number 1 above)
4. Powerline (live) – Husker Du
5. Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat) – The Detroit Cobras
6. My Love is a Flower – Jonathan Richman
7. Chemistry Set – Suburbs
8. Bird on a Wire – Leonard Cohen
9. Barely Legal – The Strokes
10. Altar Boy – Tom Waits

Fun list, maybe I could be a DJ for The Current. What’s your top ten?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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