April 2008 Archives

Why I Buy Books

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I have had friendly debates with Shane over at Greet Machine about buying books versus taking them out from the library. Shane works for the Library and as you can imagine, is a strong advocate for using libraries to fulfill your book reading needs. His argument, and it’s a good one, is why pay for a book when you can easily get it from a library? Furthermore, given the ease by which you can now look for library books on-line and have them delivered to your nearest library, the days of rifling through musty old stacks is long gone.

While acknowledging that Shane makes a strong case, (in fact I currently have 5 books out from three different libraries) I am still a book buyer. One, I am a notorious book re-reader and I love to go back to books I’ve read to re-read them whole or just chapters, passages even. Many times I will come across an item that reminded me of something I’ve read in a book I own and I need to revisit. Also, let’s face it, books in a book case look good in your living room and nothing says “hey look how smart I am? than bookcases overflowing with books. Finally there is something about pulling out a book to make your point in a discussion or argument or handing a book over to some one to enlighten them on a subject they are interested in.

I am reminded of this lately by a series of Nick Coleman articles in the Star Tribune. Last week, Nick Coleman wrote an article about Eric Sevareid, a Minnesota native who was recently commemorated by a stamp. Although a famous journalist, Sevareid first became known to Minnesotans as a teenager who, with a friend, paddled a canoe over 2000 miles from Fort Snelling to the Hudson Bay in 1930. He wrote about the trip in a book called Canoeing with the Cree and this book is the touchstone for any Minnesotan who is interested in canoeing, camping or roughing it in the great north woods. As Coleman wrote in his column, the book can be found “on the bookshelf in a lot of cabins and in the imaginations of Minnesotans.? This book and Sevareid’s adventures have literally thrilled boys (and girls) for generations. What is really interesting is that the book clearly still resonates today as Coleman followed up the original column with one this week about two boys who, having read the book in 7th grade, decided to recreate the trip. They graduated early from high school and started their journey this past Monday.

Canoeing with the Cree’s place in Minnesota life represents the greatest reason for owning books: The ability to say to your mom/dad/sister/ brother/son/daughter/spouse/friend “I loved this book and I think you will too, here’s a copy.? It’s that shared experience that binds us tighter, says to us, “we may have differences but we have a lot in common too.? Sure you can do that with a library book but a library book lacks that permanence, it limits the ability of the book recipient to one day pass the book on to another, to further the connection.

Prince or Miley?

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Sure I could use this space to talk about the “sexy? Miley Cirus pics and the need to tart her up to transition the billion dollar Miley brand to one that appeals to teens and moves her away from pre-teens, but that would be puerile. Or I could mention that now Hilary Clinton has offered the economically questionable idea for a gas tax holiday and is now so desperate that she’s willing to offer crass policy initiatives that appeal to base instincts but actually do more harm to the American public than good. But I’m sick of politics. Heck I could even rave about Jared Allen but that would mean I would have to talk about the Vikings.

Instead, in these days of lame cultural irrelevancy, it is still good to know that Prince once again demonstrated that, if he stays away from the weird stuff, can pretty much blow the rest of us away with his ability to rock. In case you weren’t there or didn’t see the reviews, Prince absolutely tore up Coachella on Sunday night. It was a two hour set that included a 20-minute show with Morris Day and The Time, a bunch of hits, a cover of Creep, and of course an earth shattering rendition of Purple Rain. Much like he did at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, “Prince reigned supreme? and gave the rest us of hope that maybe, just maybe, rock and roll is still alive and can provide transcendence. Well that or at least a good time for a couple of hours.

You Tube has a couple of videos of the show but most of them have the sound removed. Prince’s version of Creep is still available and is below. The camera work is pretty bad but the sound is great. Also at about the 5:45 mark, Prince tears into an amazing guitar solo. Worth it just for that.


Depressing

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Let’s review:

The Weather has been horrible. Cold, wet, cold, cloudy, miserable, cold. Except for a few days April has been an extension of March and March was an extension of February. When or when are going to have a proper Spring?

Road Construction. With bridges closing daily, Interstate 35 under construction, Lyndale Avenue soon to be torn up, residents of SW Minneapolis will soon need helicopters to get around. With gas at around $3.50 why are we driving anyway?

Twins. Even worse than expected. Losing 10-0 to the Rangers!?! Pitching is becoming more and more disappointing, Liriano is no way ready. Except for a Morneau, hitting has been lousy, defense too. I was hoping for 78 wins, I’m thinking that 70 wins might be more likely.

Movies and Music. When was the last time a decent movie came out or a good album? I don’t think I’ve seen a movie since February. I don’t think I have heard anything released in 2008 that is worth keeping, haven’t seen a show all year either.

Politics. Obama can’t seem to seal the deal and Clinton is more than willing to tear down Obama to get elected this year or in 2012. Voter fatigue has officially set in.

Anything good happening out there? I need to know.

Friday Random Top 10

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For my class Monsters, Robots, and Cyborgs, I am writing a 10-page research paper on the Cloverfield Monster and representations of 9/11 in cinema. Do you know of any academic journal articles that have looked at this same issue? If so, let me know.

Here’s this week’s Top 10:

1. Whip It – Devo
2. Teenage Depression – Eddie & the Hot Rods
3. I Can’t Stand It – The Underbeats
4. Long Black Veil – Johnny Cash
5. A Punch Up at a Wedding – Radiohead
6. Alcohol and Pills – Fred Eaglesmith
7. Oh, Me – Nirvana
8. Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies
9. Thank the Lord for the Nightime – Neil Diamond
10. Have You Ever Been Lonely – Patsy Cline

Whoa, after getting my “new wave hits of 70’s? on, this list gets pretty dark pretty fast. Even thanking the Lord for the nighttime feels sinister amidst Long Black Veil and Have You Ever Been Lonely.

What’s your Top 10?

Another Bridge Closed

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Further evidence of Republican dis-investment in the State came to light today as Hennepin Co. announced that the Lowry Avenue Bridge will be closed (the 2nd bridge in a month over the Mississippi River). I guess we should take comfort in the fact that the State is closing bridges before we get this again:

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If the I-35 bridge wasn't proof enough, clearly the lack of $$$ for transportation improvements is coming home to roost. I think we should have Governor Pawlenty, former Legislator Phil Krinkie, and members of the Taxpayers League drive over the Highway 61 bridge in Hastings every day as punishment.

Pope Benedict XVI Visit

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Three years ago Catholics were heartbroken when “The People’s Pope? John Paul II died after a long and successful Papacy and was a few weeks later replaced by Bavaria’s Cardinal Ratzinger. Elderly, conservative, dour, the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI promised to be short and uninspiring. Modern Catholics hoped that Pope Benedict XVI would be a transitory figure slotted between the populist John Paul II and some future, younger, worldly (hopefully liberal) Pope.

In those three years, however, Pope Benedict XVI has proven not to be at least not so dour. Of course he is still elderly, and basically conservative, but his genuinely pleasant demeanor has come through in spades. This was particularly evident in Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the United States where Benedict won over the faithful with public masses at Nationals and Yankee Stadiums, visits with Church sexual abuse and 9/11 victims, and visits to a Synagogue and Mosque.

The Press even tried to get the Pope to weigh in on such hot-to-trot social issues such as homosexuality, but Benedict wouldn’t take the bait, claiming to only want to talk about the sins related to the Priest sexual abuse scandal, but not linking the issue to homosexuality as some anti-Church conservatives always like to do.

All-in-all a successful visit, and probably the only one we’ll get during this Pope’s lifetime. I think most Catholics were impressed with what they saw and probably have a gentler attitude about Pope Benedict XVI and his Papacy.

Friday Random Top 10

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Replacements first four albums remastered plus 20 unreleased demos and outtakes coming out Tuesday. Are you buying them or not? I’m on the fence. Here is this week’s Top 10:

1. UFO – Dudley and the Doo-Rytes
2. Blood & Roses – The Smithereens
3. Sand in my Joints – Wire
4. And your Bird Can Sing – The Beatles
5. Senses Working Overtime – XTC
6. Why Can’t I Be You? – The Cure
7. My Name is Jonas – Weezer
8. Skyway – The Replacements
9. House of Cards – Radiohead
10. Nobody’s Lonesome for Me – Hank Williams

Nice list again. That XTC song is one of my faves and would be one that I would put on my early 1980’s life soundtrack. Apparently John Lennon hated Bird Can Sing, but I think it’s a great song. Then again, what do I know?

What’s your Top 10?

AndyYou thought the McCain Girls were bad....

Just think, what if you were a Microsoft Sales Rep with the task of trying to get your customers to "upgrade" to Vista. Sales, kinda slow aren't they? We'll maybe you need a motivational video. Not only a motivational video but one with by a Bruce Springsteen imitator. Think that would help you move Vista off the shelves? Well then, straight from the Microsoft Corporate office... Mr Microsoft Vista Sales Rep this one is for you...

T-Wolves Season Mercifully Over!

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Well the Timberwolves season came to a merciful end last night with a fun overtime win over the just as lousy Milwaukee Bucks. No one had a lot of hope for this season, only that it was setting a foundation for future glory. So what did we learn:

• Al Jefferson can be an elite player. He obviously knows how to score, now let’s improve that defense. Also the team needs to play him at power forward not center.

• Ryan Gomes can be a dependable NBA player, Randy Foye has some shimmy to him as well. Sebestain Telfair is a decent back-up point guard. Hopefully the Wolves can keep all three with decent contracts (I’m looking at you Sebestain Telfair).

• Corey Brewer has good defense but needs to bulk up. I am not convinced those skinny legs can support a bigger body. While the consensus best player at the number 7 pick, Brewer was a disappointment this year. Hopefully with some bulk and experience he can improve.

• How Marco Jaric ever was able to get that huge contract, I’ll never know. He has no touch around the basket and takes away much more than he adds to the court. No sure if Doleac can play defense. Mad Dog while lots of heart has no game. McCants is a head case that sometimes can play, Craig Smith is a center in a small forward’s body. Goodbye Greg Buckner, Chris Richard and especially Antawn Walker.

The biggest problem facing the Wolves (well beside the fact that McHale is still running the team) is that they play in the Western Conference where it takes 50 wins just to be a 8 seed. Even if they double their wins next year, they might miss the playoffs. Hopefully they get Derek Rose in the draft (not Beasely he overlaps with Jefferson too much). But more importantly they get another player who can contribute, is not a head case, and fills a need – of which the Wolves have in abundance. Oh and if the Wolves draft Ray Hibbard I’m going to shoot myself in the head.

What do you think about the Wolves season/future?

John McCain Fails Econ 101

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Senator John McCain has proposed that we have a gas tax holiday over the summer. By saving 18.4 cents per gallon, the Senator seems to think that it would help the economy. But let's look a little closer:

1. No federal excise tax on gasoline would encourage consumption, meaning more demand on gasoline. My Econ 101 prof (Walter Heller btw) told me when demand goes up, costs go up.

2. Since we don't produce a whole lot of oil in this country, then we would need to import more oil. Doesn't seem right to add more $$$ to places like Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran does it?

3. The federal excise tax on gas goes for things like roads and bridges. I seem to remember that we have a huge need to build and repair our roads and bridges. Plus it's people who build and repair roads and bridges, how will those JOBS be replaced?

We know Senator McCain has stated that he's not a great economics mind -- I guess he wasn't kidding. Me thinks this proposal has more to do with making a quick, popular-on-its-face statement and not a serious policy proposal. Can't wait for more "straight talk" from the Senator.

Don't believe me? Check out what this conservative economist blogger thinks.

The Feelies - Back Together!!?

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Did you feel that? A slight tremor in the space-time continuum was experienced over the last few days as thousands of 40-something former music hipsters heard the news that the original line-up of The Feelies were going to play once again. This being 2008, the announcement came on the Feelies’ MySpace page:

The Feelies, the legendary and influential rock band, will reunite to perform at Battery Park in NYC on July 4th, opening for Sonic Youth. The classic Feelies lineup of Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Brenda Sauter, and Stanley Demeski will perform their first show since 1991. Formed in Haledon NJ in 1976, The Feelies released 4 albums- including their critically acclaimed and influential debut Crazy Rhythms, which was voted 49 in the top 100 albums of the 1980s by Rolling Stone magazine and chosen by Spin Magazine as 49 of the best alternative records of all time.

This weekend guys all over the country were asking the wife: “Honey, how about NYC for 4th of July? It’s been years since we’ve been to the City and the kids are old enough to really get the City’s vibe. Plus doesn’t your Uncle Carl live on Long Island? We haven’t seen him since the wedding.?

The Feelies were one of those “Indie Bands? that existed long before the term was even invented and had a near cult like following, meaning they didn’t sell a lot of albums. After releasing 4 very cool albums and a couple of off-shoot albums that were near classic (Yung Wu – Shore Leave), they broke up after one of their band members had a nervous breakdown and went to work at Disney World (true story look it up). Now after years of rumors of getting back together, Yung Wu back in the Studio(!) And Glen Mercer releasing a solo album, the Holy Grail – a reunion show – is now official. If there is an actual tour, look for mid-life crisis' and crying in the streets, or at least a bunch of guys seeing if that paisley shirt in the back of the closet still fits. (Of course we all know the wife threw it out long ago).

Friday Random Top 10

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An inch of slush on the ground, the North Dakota Fighting Englestads annual choke in the Frozen Four, Timberwolves battling for more ping-pong balls, and potholes big enough to swallow a Kia mean only one thing: It’s Spring! Here is this week’s top 10:

1. Crazy Baby – The Blasters
2. Apology Song – The Decemberists
3. Abraham – Jack Kerouac
4. Police Story – Black Flag
5. I’m Lucky – Joan Armatrading
6. Something – The Beatles
7. Men 2nd – Wire
8. Bad Days – The Flaming Lips
9. High Time – Paul Westerberg
10. Tall Dark Stranger – Buck Owens

I like this list. If you listen closely to Crazy Baby, you can hear a dog bark in the background about 2/3 of the way through – to the beat no less! Apology Song is the greatest “I am sorry your bike got stolen? song ever written and there’s nothing like a little Buck Owens to kick off your Friday morning!

What’s your top 10?

Frack' ya! BSG Rocks!

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Tell someone you’re into Battlestar Gallactica and you get one of three responses:

1. Geez, what a geek!
2. Cool, I loved that show in the 70’s!
3. A knowing nod and then a 20-minute discussion on the nature of the Cylon’s.

If you’re in the second group, I am sorry but we’re not talking about the cheesy 70’s show starring Lorne Green that tried to piggy back on all things Star Wars. We talking about the current series on the Sci-Fi channel that is smart, sexy, with plenty of whiz-bang for geeks and heady philosophy for… I guess geeks.

As with any good sci-fi, BSG works because it’s more than just a bunch a guys flying around space fighting robots. When I told my son that it’s about humans who created a race of robots that turned around and tried to eliminate mankind he said “oh that’s original.? But it is original. Even though they all but wiped out mankind, the Cylons are by no means evil in a black and white sense and many times as compared to the humans, they are down right sympathetic.

The robots are monotheists who believe in a God quite similar to our own and the humans are Greek and Roman-like polytheists. There is a lot of religious back and forth between the two races. Think of the Cylons as religious fundamentalists, worshiping a definitely Old Testament God. In addition, Season 3 had many parallels to this Country’s situation in Iraq with again the Cylon’s playing the part of the Americans and humans the suicide-bombing insurgents. Don’t get me wrong, not all humans are bad and not all Cylons are well-intentioned, they are all multi-faceted. Oh and some of the Cylons are in humanoid form so you (and them) don't necessarily know they are/were Cylons.

Season 4, which started last week, is promised to be the last season and we are told that all the story lines will be wrapped-up. Unlike say The X Files where the mythological back story got so convoluted that the writers could never tie up the loose ends, BSG’s mythology is relatively simple: The Gods that the humans worship have been scattered from an Eden called “Earth? and the humans are desperately trying to find it before they are destroyed by the Cylons. So yes, the BSG humans are our ancestors. Of course that’s a gross simiplification, but it will do for now.

So anyway if you like sci-fi or just plain good story-telling with that makes you think a little bit, BSG might be for you. Plus you have lots of eye candy to look at regardless if you fancy the guys or gals. Finally any tv show that can introduce a new swear word – frack – and use it just like you think it should be used, is ok in my book.

Anyone else watch BSG? What do you think?

Here’s a link to Entertainment Weekly’s all things BSG, Be sure to check out the 15 things you have to know about BSG. That will get you caught up real fast.

McCain Girls - They're Back!!

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I know you were waiting for the next installment, don't worry, they don't disappoint...

We get It - TPaw doesn't like transit

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Do you see a pattern here:

Central Corridor LRT -- $70,000,000
High Speed Rail St. Paul to Chicago -- $4,000,000
Southeast Express -- $500,000
Bottineau Corridor Transitway - $500,000
1-94 Corridor Transitway - $750,000
I-494 Corridor Transitway - $500,000
Red Rock Corridor Transitway - $500,000
Robert Street Corridor Transitway - $500,000
Rush Line Corridor Transitway - $500,000
Southwest Corridor Transitway - $500,000

Those are all the transit projects line item vetoed by Governor Pawlenty yesterday. What I don't understand is that the Hiawatha Corridor has been considered a nice success. Ridership is higher than anticipated by the doom and gloomers (I'm looking at you Tax Payers League) and with gas soon to reach $4.00 a gallon, public transit is going to become a more important component of a multi-modal transportation system that should include resources for cars, buses, trains, bikes, and walking. By vetoing money for transit we are going to keep the Minneapolis-St. Paul area mired in lousy highways and greenhouse gas-spewing automobiles. For a Republican who is generally on the good side of global warming issues, I am surprised by T-Paw's total lack of support of any future public transit for the State of Minnesota.

Nice example of leadership, you'll go far in Washington, D.C.

Friday Random Top 10

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Wow, 40 years since MLK assassination. You wonder whether MLK would be thrilled or disappointed that it’s taken until 2008 to have credible black candidate for President. It’s hard to say, I don’t think anyone ever asked him the question.

Battlestar Gallactica final season starts to tonight, more next week on that momentous occasion.

R.E.M. has a new album out, which actually sounds good. I might have to check it out.

Finally after a long, long winter I played catch for the first time yesterday. After about 20 throws, my arm actually felt pretty good. Couldn’t get my sinker working yet, need more work.

Justin Morneau, umm, now that the Canucks have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, maybe you could start thinking about getting a hit or two. Just sayin.

After a two week hiatus due to I-Pod troubles, I am back with a random top 10.

1. Johnny Strikes Up the Band – Warren Zevon
2. Flamenco Sketches – Miles Davis
3. Midnight Blues – Detroit Cobras
4. Restless Summer – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
5. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
6. Eat to the Beat – Blondie
7. Wrecking Now – Guided by Voices
8. People Have the Power – Patti Smith
9. Sugar Mountain – Neil Young
10. Anthrax - Gang of Four

I’m really embarrassed by that Queen song. Otherwise looks like I had kind of a rockin’ 70’s vibe going with that list (even if some of the songs were recorded much later).

What’s your top 10?

Mekons, Greil Marcus, and Mary Lucia

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Last Friday I went to the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul to attend The Current's Fakebook session with author Greil Marcus and the historic band Mekons. Although it was a Friday night and the Wild were playing at the X, I still was able to get a free on-street parking spot about a block from the Fitz, which in a nutshell describes St. Paul.

Peter Scholtes at the City Pages has a review of the event here which is pretty damn good so I won't repeat but he says (also check out the cool pics by Daniel Corrigan). Mary Lucia also has a comment at the end of the post, which adds some nice background.

Here are some additional thoughts:

I was taken in by the age of the audience. At 45, I was probably on the young side of the median age which surprised me. Were these oldsters here for Greil Marcus? patrons of the Fitz? Mekons fans? If 50 is the age cohort for the Current, they might be in trouble.

Mary Lucia is a gas. The Scholtes post has a couple of good pics of her. She has a rapier wit, even making (slight) fun of GM's glasses in her introduction. She also changed her boots between interviews going from cowboy boots to knee-high black boots. Nice touch.

Griel Marcus can be maddening. Sometimes his books blow me away, as he can be a fantastic writer. Othertimes he is so oblique it feels as though he's taking a jackhammer to make his point. These traits were on exhibit Friday night.

Finally the Mekons were oh so cool. They truly are a treasure. Sally Timms voice is angelic and she has the dry British wit down to a T. Jon Langford is a hoot and the spiritual leader of the band. I wished they had played Memphis, Egypt but other than that no complaints.

All and all a very enjoyable evening.

My Favorite Musical Artist

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From time to time I want to use this blog to talk about certain artists that have really spoken to me. Who’s talent and body of work make me glad to be alive. Of course, like hopefully many readers of this blog, Mariah Carey will always top that list.

Mariah Carey made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.

Able to hit eight octaves with her voice, Carey has demonstrated it’s not so much the song as the voice that is important. Glamorous, multi-ethnic, omni-talented as a successful recording, film and TV career has demonstrated, Mariah Carey is well positioned to continue to be a 21st Century mega-star. But not only is she talented, she is smart and has her head on straight. There is strong evidence that Mariah Carey could taken on Bono-status as a champion of middle class debt relief, or the use of compact florescent light bulbs.

The ying to Bob Dylan’s yang. The Sigfried to Johnny Cash’s Roy. The Penn to Paul Westerberg’s Teller. Mariah Carey is one of those artists who’s talent, grace, and beauty will always move me.

Who’s your favorite artist?

About this Archive

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

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