September 29, 2005

Holy... (!)

Read this! The whole thing!

This is the definition of righteous anger:

Your party has set aflame the entire political landscape, and now, once burned, you warn sternly from the branches of a burnt-out tree about "playing with fire". You used the ashes of one of the great liberal cities of America, New York City, as war paint for your own sick, racist dreams. You shudder at a burning flag, yet are willing to snip-and-cut basic tenets of the Constitution as needed or convenient.

And now, you're outraged, not by any of the rest of it, not by anything that has come before, but because a few prominent Republican faces have -- shock of shocks -- been indicted in probes that have spanned years of investigation, and interrogation, and deposition. That, you say, represents the underpinnings of a civil war.

Thank you Hunter.

A little background reading:

DeLay is indicted, leaves post:

Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the House and one of the most powerful legislators on Capitol Hill, stepped down from his post as majority leader yesterday, after a state grand jury indicted him on a charge of criminal conspiracy. The grand jurors alleged that he and two associates had funneled corporate campaign contributions through the Republican National Committee and a political action committee connected to DeLay.

Frists' HCA Now Under Investigation by SEC

Federal prosecutors and the [SEC] ... are probing [Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist's sale of stock in HCA, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that grew into the nation's largest for-profit health care chain.

[...]

Documents show that while HCA insiders were selling millions of dollars of their own stock this year, they were also painting an upbeat picture of the company's outlook for investors.

Things are looking bad for the Republicans. And therefore, looking good for our country.

Posted by smit2174 at 9:04 PM

September 28, 2005

The new 10-spot

Check these kickin' new Hamiltons, yo.

Hooray for the red, yellow and orange! Those are the colors featured on the newly redesigned $10 bill, the third currency denomination to add splashes of color to the traditional green of U.S. currency.

Some 800 million of the new bills will be put into circulation starting early next year in the government's latest effort to stay ahead of tech-savvy counterfeiters.

''The craftsmanship that goes into our currency is unmatched anywhere in the world. So is our commitment to safeguarding that currency,'' said Treasury Secretary John Snow, who participated in an unveiling ceremony on Ellis Island in the New York harbor.

Looks like those of us wit' da cash will be gettin' flashy wid it come 2006, son!

Posted by smit2174 at 6:32 PM

September 27, 2005

A sad day...

One of my high school classmates, Pat Kycia, drowned last weekend in the Red River in Moorhead. I didn't know him too well, but he was a friend of a friend. I feel so bad for everyone who knew Pat, especially his closest friends and family. My sympathies go out to them.

From the Pioneer Press (registration required)...

MOORHEAD, Minn. - A body found Tuesday in the Red River was believed to be that of a missing Minnesota State University Moorhead student.

Patrick Kycia, 19, of Stillwater, had been seen last in the early-morning hours on Friday at a fraternity party.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, police Lt. Bob Larson said. The body was to be taken to Ramsey County for identification, but the clothing, physical description and items found in the man's pockets led police to believe it was Kycia.

One of Kycia's friends, Ricky Sayarath, said Kycia drank a lot of whiskey at a Phi Sigma Kappa house party.

"Guys just kept giving him shots," said Sayarath, who was at the party. "He must have been pretty drunk."

Kycia's wallet - with cash and bank cards still in it - was found about three blocks south of the fraternity house. Police said Monday night that a shoe found in the Red River matches a description of the shoes Kycia was wearing when he went missing.

[...]

Just very sad, all around. Police say they don't suspect foul play, and, while I don't know the details of the investigation, this kind of thing seems to happen all too often: college students drowning on river campuses, usually after parties. I hope this doesn't seem insensitive, because I feel really bad for him, but hopefully this is a wake-up call for people that they need to keep themselves safe, especially when there is alcohol involved.

Posted by smit2174 at 11:58 AM

September 22, 2005

More Beck, courtesy of the good ol' Daily

Still no setlist for Monday on beck.com, (I'll keep checking) but there is a new review in the Minnesota Daily...

from which I shamelessly ripped off these pictures:

It's kind of nice to be able to see what Beck actually looked like on Monday night, because we couldn't really see too much detail from our vantage point in the balcony. What with the hat and all. And, damn, Beck shaves less than I do!

Posted by smit2174 at 10:47 PM

September 21, 2005

Billboard: Drowning in the Bathtub

Activists rented a truck whose cab was flanked by two twin billboards, featuring Field Marshal [Grover] Norquist's famous quote juxtaposed with an image of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - a drowned New Orleans. Appropriately, at 8:45 this morning Working Assets parked the truck in front of the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, an essential part of Norquist's New Right brigade, and the meeting place for that weekly breakfast strategy session of rightist revolutionaries.

More here.

Posted by smit2174 at 6:58 PM

September 20, 2005

Jeb Bush, Chinese Mystic/Wacko; or, Those Crazy Republicans, part 1

"Umm... yeah... I'll have what he's having."

Last week, after “more than an hour of solemn ceremony” swearing in Rep. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as House speaker, Gov. Jeb Bush stepped to the podium to tell “a short story about ‘unleashing Chang,’ his ‘mystical warrior’ friend.”

Follow the white rabbit...

Posted by smit2174 at 9:45 PM

Beck concert 9/19

Melissa and I, along with two Nicks (actually three if you count the Nick that gave us a ride-- but he had a floor seat) and Nick's (which one?) girlfriend Erin made the pilgrimage to Roy Wilkins Auditorium last night to see Beck. I saw him when he played the same venue in 2003, and it was the best concert I've ever been to. So I had high expectations going in. While I personally don't think it was as good as last time, Beck still put on a great show.

The opening act (I didn't catch the guy's name) was kind of bizarre. He gave new meaning to the term "one man band." Any description of him has to start with his appearance: He had long hair, nearly reaching to his waist, which he constantly brushed back from his eyes in cliched rock-star fashion. Also, he was wearing a kilt.

The guy had fashioned a musical suit of armor, with electronic drum pads attached to a breastplate and other drum sensors attached to his boots. He stomped his feet and beat his chest (not kidding) to lay down a rock beat. Strapped to either side of his waist was a keyboard/keytar. He used his right hand to play "bass" while his left hand played heavy-metal power chords. Somehow, he also used his mouth to "play" guitar solos with the help of some electronic device. He played AC-DC covers "Back in Black" and "Highway to Hell," along with a few stupidly catchy originals. Sample chorus: "I'm gonna party while the world gets blown away," touchingly and poetically describing his contingency plan for nuclear catastrophe.

After a long delay— well, long enough for Melissa and I to share a $4.00 chemical brew dubiously labeled “Diet Coke,” and for her to have to pee—Beck’s band finally emerged from behind the curtain. There were probably 7 or 8 people in the band. They included two full drum sets, a conga player, a “video DJ” who projected images onto a backlit screen, and a guy whose only purpose seemed to be to dance around stage while the band played—he shook the titular “Black Tambourine” on the set opener and rocked a Radio Raheem-style boombox on a hard-rocking version of “Where It’s At” as another giant boombox descended from the ceiling on cables (an epic moment, to be sure.)

The setlist was pretty diverse, but skewed heavily towards selections from Guero. Some of the songs from the new record benefited from a live treatment, especially the “Loser-”redux-wannabe “Hell Yes,” which grows tedious in its recorded form but gained energy in Beck’s live interpretation. Two mellower tracks, “Broken Drum” and “Emergency Exit,” also sounded great live, and “Que Onda Guero” bounced with furious, silly energy.

However, at the beginning of the show, I was beginning to fear that the concert might not be as great as I’d hoped. I was disappointed with the early medley that included too-brief snippets of “Nicotine and Gravy” and “Hollywood Freaks,” as well as a couple of others. A cool rendition of “Girl” turned annoying because of some crappy sound engineering, as a pounding, repetitious keyboard drowned out the rest of the song. In a few songs, the presence of so much percussive firepower seemed to clutter and confuse the music. I preferred the smaller, tighter setup (only 3 or 4 guys) of the 2003 concert, but I grudgingly concurred with Nick S.’s assessment—the songs on Guero have a lot going on, so a bigger band is needed. But I really don’t think that every person was needed on every song.

However, things soon got better. Highlights of the show for me were a cool version of “Sissyneck”—probably the best track on Odelay—with Beck playing slide guitar, and a masterful performance of “Ramshackle,” its acoustic quietude Sea Changed with heavier beats, spacey electric guitar and pulsing synths. I also enjoyed “Nobody’s Fault But My Own,” with Beck on accordion, backed by foot stomps and hand claps from his band. The solo set in the middle was good, too, with Beck loosely picking out some of his softer tunes such as “Guess I’m Doing Fine” on electric guitar. It also included a sweet solo version of “Debra” that morphed into a loving tribute to R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” saga.

The deafening applause at the end of the band’s set brought them back out for a high-octane encore of “E-Pro” and a funky, stretched-out “Mixed Bizness.” Beck invited a couple dozen fans onstage to dance with him, and the stage shook from the drunken getting-down. When the extended jam (Beck: “Take it higher!” Fans: “Higher!”) of “Mixed Bizness” ended, the crowd stood once again, craving a second encore, but it was not to be. We went home with warm fuzzies in our bellies and a healthy optimism for the Decemberists concert on October 21st.

See also:
Star Tribune review

Posted by smit2174 at 7:35 PM

September 18, 2005

Also,


Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good

The best album cover. Ever.

Posted by smit2174 at 1:10 PM

New releases


Neil Young - Prairie Wind

Comes out September 27... begin the countdown! Get your pre-orders in on Amazon!


Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow

I've been listening to this album on Rhapsody a lot since it came out last week. It is amazing. I'm not exactly sure why this music classifies as "freak-folk" (the term the critics are using these days), because there is nothing "freaky" about it. Banhart plays excellent acoustic-based folk with a few electric touches. A few of the songs are in Spanish, since Banhart is a native Venezuelan. He reminds me a lot of a less-depressed Nick Drake or a sweeter-voiced Leonard Cohen. Also, you've gotta love the cover. I think I'm going to have to buy it soon.

Also, the new Sufjan and the new Sigur Ros are on the way from Amazon, as is the Silversun Pickups' Pikul EP. And the Beck concert is tomorrow! And I'm getting Decemberists tickets SOON!

Posted by smit2174 at 12:00 PM

September 15, 2005

Presidential Potty Break

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

What a fascinating historical document. I really think they need to get ahold of it and put it in the Smithsonian, right next to George Washington's teeth. Or possibly in the ExxonMobil George W. Bush Presidential Library, next to the flight suit and My Pet Goat.

Thanks to first draft.

Posted by smit2174 at 6:38 PM

September 13, 2005

Rock the vote... yeah, I'm just that awesome

Just got back from voting in the Minneapolis primary election. Apparently I was the 4th (!) person from Middlebrook to vote today, 1 hour before the polls close. Great turnout. I really think the University needs to do a better job of letting people know about elections, and where to vote. I'm in friggin' UDFL, and I didn't even know about the primary until yesterday. So how is the other 95% of the population, that isn't involved in political organizations, supposed to know?

The Daily did a pretty good job of covering the primaries, but their list of "places to vote" is worse than useless. It makes it seem like you can vote at any of the places listed in your Ward, but really you have to vote in the right precinct. I tried to vote at Coffman, but they wouldn't let me because I live in Middlebrook and thus am in a different precinct. Unfortunately, the workers there couldn't tell me where exactly I should vote. I ended up having to look it up on the Secretary of State website.

I think the University needs to:
a) Make election information readily available-- even an email a week before the election and the day of would go a long way towards getting the word out.
b) Provide accurate information as to where each of the dorms vote. I think it's great that the Superblock can vote right there, but what about the rest of us?
c) Provide transportation or bus routes to off-campus voting sites. I didn't mind walking 0.8 miles to my polling place, but for some people, it's just not worth the trouble.

Anyway, I voted for this guy:

R.T. Rybak. What a guy. Wish him well!

P.S. Psst. I also voted for this guy. Consider it a protest vote.

Posted by smit2174 at 7:36 PM

September 5, 2005

Surreal moment

One band I have adored for quite a while is the Icelandic band Sigur Ros. I got into them because I heard that they sounded like Radiohead. I have kind of grown tired of Radiohead, but I still love Sigur Ros. Their music is great because it is so emotionally and musically satisfying, and, since I don't speak Icelandic, unencumbered by the meanings of the lyrics.

Anyway, I just had an experience that proves that an event doesn't have to be big or important or life-affirming/-altering to be surreal. I was listening to the new Sigur Ros single, called "Saeglopur" from their album (which comes out in ONE WEEK!) Takk, while simultaneously reading articles about and looking at the pictures from the horrific disaster in New Orleans. The combination of the words, images, and music produced a wave of emotion that can only be described as surreal. I was at once saddened by the vast tragedy of it all, brimming with rage that much of this destruction was totally preventable, and yet, strangely, filled with hope that everything will someday get put back together. I suddenly seemed to understand the song completely, though I didn't understand a word.

Posted by smit2174 at 9:05 PM