Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Death (Metal) of Summer

Son One--age 16--has always liked a wide array of music genres (hmmm, I wonder why?), some of which I prefer him to keep between him and the iPod headset. Yes, I've become that mother. The laundry-doing one who, after folding the seventeenth black t-shirt sporting some variant of horned beast and a reference to the underworld in gothic font, wonders if she ought to hold a Bic lighter aloft: We salute you, oh Dark Lord.

So I was skeptical of Son One's Death Metal recommendation yesterday. That stuff is a bit, um, after my era. I don't always get it. It's...it's...too loud. Sometimes, okay? Sometimes.

This time, however, Son One appears to have broken through my biases.

I present to you Children of Bodom, also known as Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala of Finland, playing the Summer movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons on their guitars.

Be impressed and amazed. I was.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Obama Menace!

Lee's latest. And it's awesome, as you'd expect--enjoy and share.

Happy Sunday (and Happy Almost-Hallowe'en, and last-week-of-the-Best-Election-Season-Evah, and pre-Día de los Muertos/All Saints Day, and Nearly Guy Fawkes Day) everyone.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Morning Awesome*

Via the supremely hip NB, friend and fellow ex-pat. NB's blog Life Elsewhere is a must-visit for music lovers, especially those who hail from the Seattle area, where NB's radio shows, back in the day, were the stuff of legend.

* Post title shamelessly borrowed from Bob Cesca.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Frank: Easy Meat; Paris, 1980

Things I loved hearing on this gray October Friday:

- "Miss, can I please see your ID for that wine?"

- Hey Deb, Dave of Zencomix made
a comic* for you.
Cheers, Michael Hussey

- "Mama, let me know when you post this week's Friday Frank...oh, and I found your keys."

Today's Friday Frank--a long one, with lots of signature changes and a gorgeous solo--is dedicated, then, to Dave, Son Two, and the lovely (if terribly myopic) checkout guy at Publix.

Bon Weekend, everyone.


* I'll post the whole strip if and when Dave gives me permission.

Sarah's Hard Rock Candy

This song, by Peg Seeger (with a little help from her friends), is definitely what you'd call a ditty, and it's great, lighthearted fun--just what the doctor ordered at the end of a stressful week, I think.

(H/T to jacqueline, with thanks)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Keith Olbermann on (Un-)Real Americans

I missed this exceptional Special Comment last night, so I'm thrilled to find it in my In box today, courtesy of Truthout.

But first, a small Special Comment of my own:

Thank you, Mr. Olbermann, for once again bringing out your famous angry edge: when one is attacking the three-headed monster--say hello to racism, fearmongering, and new-millennium-McCarthyism!--that is the current incarnation of the McCain campaign, only the very sharpest weapons will suffice.


Okay, here's the transcript:

KO: I have frequently insisted I would never turn the platform of the Special Comment into a regular feature. But as these last two weeks of this extraordinary, and extraordinarily disturbing, presidential campaign project out in front of us, I fear I may have to temporarily amend that presumption.

I hope it will be otherwise, but I suspect this will be the first of nightly pieces, most shorter than this until further notice. And thus a Special Comment tonight about the last five days of the divisive, ugly, paranoid bleatings of this Presidential race, culminating in the sliming of Colin Powell for his endorsement of Sen. Obama.

There was once a very prominent sportswriter named Dick Young whose work, with ever-increasing frequency, became peppered with references to "my America."

"I can't believe this is happening in My America;" "We do not tolerate these people in My America;" "This man does not belong in my America." His America gradually revealed itself.

Insular. Isolationist. Backwards-looking. Mindlessly flag-waving. Racist. No second chances. A million rules, but only for the other guy. Dick Young died in 1987, but he has been re-born in the presidential campaign as it has unfolded since last Thursday night.

In that time, Gov. Sarah Palin, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Rush Limbaugh, have revealed that there is a measurable portion of this country that is not interested in that which the vast majority view as democracy or equality or opportunity. They want only control and they want the rest of us, symbolically, perhaps physically out.

Gov. Palin:

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.," you told a fund-raiser in North Carolina last Thursday, to kick off this orgy of condescending elitism.

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Governor, your prejudice is overwhelming. It is not just "pockets" of this country that are "pro-America" Governor. America is "pro-America. "And the "Real America" of yours, Governor, is where people at your rallies shout threats of violence, against other Americans, and you say nothing about them or to them.

What you are seeing is not patriotism, Governor. What has surrounded you since your nomination, has been the echoing shout of mob rule. Indeed, that shout has echoed to Minnesota, where the next day an unstable Congresswoman named Michele Bachmann added to the ugly cry.

"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose' like that."

For nearly two years, Ms. Bachmann, who made her first political bones by keeping the movie "Aladdin" from being shown at a Minnesota Charter School because she thought it promoted paganism and witchcraft, has had a seat in the government of this nation, a seat from which she has spewed the most implausible, hateful, narrow-minded garbage imaginable.

Well, Congresswoman, you have gotten that "expose'" you wanted, have you not? Though not perhaps in the way you imagined.

Since giving voice to your remarkable delusion that there are members of Congress who are "anti-America," and the extraordinary tap-dance of sleaze and innuendo about Sen. Obama which followed, the challenger for your house Seat, Elwyn Tinklenberg, has been inundated by donations - $7,000 in the three days after you spoke.

Because the America you perceive, Congresswoman with its goblins and ghosts and vast unseen hordes of traitors and fellow travelers and Senators who won't ban "Aladdin" exists only in your head, and in the heads of the others who must rationalize the failures in their own lives and of their own policies as somebody else's fault as a conspiracy to deny them an America of exclusionism and religious orthodoxy and prejudice, about which they must accuse, and murmur, and shout threats, and cleave the nation into pro-America and anti-America."

And back it comes to the McCain campaign.

And Sen. McCain's talking head, Ms. Pfotenhauer, who on this very network Saturday, and seemingly without the slightest idea that dismissive prejudice dripped from every word, analyzed the race in Virginia.

"I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," she said. "But the rest of the state, 'real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."

Again, a toxic message. The parts of the country that agree with Nancy Pfotenhauer are real; the others, not. Ms. Pfotenhauer, why not go the distance on this one? It was Sen. McCain's own brother who called that part of Virginia nearest Washington "communist country."

Cut to the chase, Madam. No matter the intended comic hyperbole of Joe McCain. This is the point-isn't it? Leave out the real meaning of "Communism," Madam, Joe McCain reduced it to a buzz-word; it has no more true definition right now than does "Socialism," or the phrase "a man who sees America like you and I see America."

It's about us and them. The pro and the anti. Never mind, Madam, that the bi-secting of this country you would happily inspire, means taking a tiny crack in a dam and not repairing it but burrowing into it.

It is not enough that Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama might differ. One must be real and the other false. One must be pro-America and the other anti. Go back and, as your boss Rick Davis said today, "re-think," Mr. McCain's insistence not to drag the sorry bones of Jeremiah Wright into this campaign. And whatever you do, Ms. Pfotenhauer, allow no one enough time to think about the widening crack in the dam.

And now all of this comes together to attack Colin Powell. "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race," writes Rush Limbaugh, the grand wizard of this school of reactionary non-thought.

"OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with." It is not conceivable that Powell might reject McCain for the politics of hate and character assassination, or just for policy.

In the closed, sweaty world of the blind allegiances of Limbaugh, one of "us" who endorses one of "them," must be doing so for some other blind allegiance, like the color of skin.

The answer to this primordial muck, must be addressed to one man only. Sen. McCain, where are you? I disagree with you on virtually every major point of policy and practice. And yet I do not think you "anti-America." I would not hesitate to join you in time of crisis in defense of this country. Fortunately you did not echo this chorus of base hatred. But neither have you repudiated it.

What is "pro-America", Senator? Is it pro-America to call a man a racist because he endorses a different candidate? Senator, you have based your campaign on many premises, but the foremost (and the most nearly admirable) of all of them, have been the pitches about "reaching across the aisle," and putting, as your ubiquitous banners reed, "country first."

So when Colin Powell endorses your opponent, you say nothing as your supporters and proxies paint him in this "Anti-America" frame and place him in Gov. Palin's un-real America. Sen. McCain, did not Gen. Powell just "reach across the aisle?" Did he not, in his own mind at least, "put country first?" Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to, if not applaud, then at least quiet those in your half of our fractured political equation?

Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to say "enough" to Republican smears without end? Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to insist that, win or lose, you will not be party to a campaign that devolves into hatred and prejudice and divisiveness? And Sen. McCain, if it is not your responsibility, whose is it?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nice Way to Elevate the Discourse, Republicans

David Frum got his conservative knickers in a twist on Rachel's show the other night, whining that liberals, what with all their on-point sarcasm and humor, were just as bad as his fellow rabid rightwingers calling out racist slurs and death threats at huge public rallies. Then, after insulting his gracious host, Frum called for elevating the discourse. He then went on to lie, in an NRO post, about the circumstances surrounding his appearance on the show in the first place. And oh yes, he complained--falsely (surprise)--that Keith Olbermann had called John McCain a Nazi.

Back to the elevating-the-discourse thing: clearly wealthy Republican fundraisers are taking Frum's supercilious "Let's Be Better!" suggestion to heart, ensuring that all rumor-mongering and hate speech henceforth would emanate from the party's elite and contain properly-spelled slurs and, when possible, the best grammar and clearest syntax they could muster.

To wit: the Tampa Tribune reports that longtime, high-level Tampa Republican fundraiser Al Austin recently sent out a blast e-mail--to numerous political contacts--that featured a joke about Barack Obama being assassinated. Michael Hussey, founder of the Tampa blog Pushing Rope (to which I sometimes contribute) and a friend of this blog, reports to me that he has personally confirmed the e-mail story's veracity with a reputable source. (Hussey has also published the original e-mail, if you can stomach it.)

From the Tribune piece:

The joke concerns a group of schoolchildren discussing the definition of “tragedy” as opposed to “great loss” or “accident.” The punch line comes when one child says that if an airplane carrying Obama and his wife, Michelle, “was struck by a ‘friendly fire’ missile and blown to smithereens,” the event might be a tragedy “because it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss, and it probably wouldn’t be an accident either.”

Austin acknowledged sending the e-mail to his list of political contacts but said he forwarded it without fully reading it and didn’t know what it said. That list included at least two reporters.

According to the forwarding history on the e-mail, it had gone through at least two other individuals before being sent to Austin on Tuesday.

Austin, a prominent real estate developer long known as one of the state’s leading Republican campaign fundraisers, has served in recent years as finance chairman for both the national and state Republican parties.

For his part, Austin said he made a mistake in sending the e-mail, and further, that he wouldn’t knowingly have circulated it, which begs the question: Does someone else have the password to Austin's private e-mail account? Perhaps he just confused Forward All with Delete.

Certainly Austin has proven, yet again, that as with so many of these rich and powerful wingnut assholes, not only are they full-on racists, losers, and imbeciles--they're also terrible liars.

Also at Cogitamus.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John Cleese on "The Funniest Palin"

The incomparable John Cleese hits the nail (and parrot!) squarely on the head in his comments about Republican V.P.-nominee Sarah Palin.

(H/T oddjob)

David Frum: Witty, Sarcastic Wiberals Make Fun of My Fwends and Hurt My Feelings

You know, when your party--a party that, I might add, put into office the Worst President in American History With Whom You'd Like to Have a Non-Alcoholic Beer; led the lie-ridden battle cry to invade a sovereign nation; drained the Treasury and drove us into the current record-breaking, staggering debt; assaulted the Constitution at every turn...oh, you know the drill--anyway, when your party, which has veered so far from the core values of true, capital-C Conservatism with its borrow-spend-deregulate-obliterate mentality, is finally exposed for the crony-and-lobbyist-filled sham it actually is, and your top two office-seekers are exposed for the race-baiting, lying charlatans they are, you really have no right (so to speak) to attack the Left.

No right whatsoever, David Frum.

And try as you may to work that old equivalency meme--"Wah wah wah...why can't we elevate the discourse...wah wah wah...the Left's sarcastic, unserious commentary based on fact is just as bad as our V.P.-nominee calling the Democratic Presidential nominee a terrorist and whipping up a crowd of violent thugs to the point where they yell out assassination threats while she stands there and does nothing"--I'm afraid you are not going to get that rubbish to fly, sir.

And throwing it at our brilliant, talented, ten-times-more-intelligent-than-you Rachel Maddow is not going to win friends or influence anyone, either.

Watch the video of last night's show and see this disgraceful human being for yourself. Mad props to the über-professional Rachel for keeping her cool and responding appropriately (to put it mildly).

UPDATE: Mr. Frum blames his interview crankiness on jet-lag and then takes a sarcastic (!) swipe at liberals who e-mailed him because they correctly refer to Rachel as Dr.--not Ms.--Maddow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday Saturday Frank: Welcome to The United States; With Ensemble Modern, 1992

This was one of FZ's last appearances on stage, conducting Ensemble Modern in a rousing rendition of his witty Welcome to the United States.

As someone who appreciates all of Frank Zappa's musical incarnations--the comedy songs, the guitar albums, and the classical creations alike--I loved this piece for its deliberate overlapping of genres and its gentle (and not-so-gentle) jabs at the risible pompousness of the INS--an agency that, in name at least, exists no longer, having been absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security after You Know What.

Forgive the light posting these past couple of weeks, by the way--a combination of family events, school-related matters, viruses, cat mutinies, car-in-the-shop days, teenager angst, domestic chaos, stock market anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, and a nasty art-class-related Exacto-knife wound (sustained by Son Two, not me) have kept me from sitting down and actually writing anything of length or substance. I'll be back, older and wiser, shortly. There is, after all, an election going on, right?!

Bon Weekend, everyone.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

"For Thoose Joe Sixpacks Out There Playin' a Drinkin' Game at Home: Maverick!"

Sometimes, by 11:30 on Saturday nights, I'm already in dreamland--and I'm a serious night person, which should tell you something about the life-altering properties of Having Children. Other times, I'm distracted or busy or even (gasp) out painting the town blue (no, I haven't converted any of the die-hard 19%-ers I know--not yet--but I'm working on it.) Since we're not yet dialed-in with a Tivo setup out here, I'm sooooooo glad (sorry!) that there's YouTube embeddable video at NBC: Tina Fey knocked another one out of the park here. And Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill is hands-down brilliant. Enjoy! this before it gets pulled.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Frank: The Mammy Anthem; Bolzano, Italy, 1982

The picture quality and sound aren't quite what you'd hope for, but Frank's extended guitar solo makes this one worth watching over and over. Honestly, I'd never seen it before today, when I happened to be musing on the events of this past couple of weeks, wondering what Frank would think about it all.

Strike that: I already know what he'd think because he told us as much a long time ago. What would Frank do about it, though?

Make art seems as good an answer as any.

Bon Weekend, everyone.

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Babies For Barack

[Adorableness warning]

As someone who's been there, done that (having babies, I mean, not running for the office of President), may I just say--again--how genuinely warm and real a human being Barack Obama is. And as far as being a loving and devoted Dad, something you've undoubtedly read over and over by now? Well, observe how he mirrors the babies' various expressions and how he engages the babies and manages to ignore the crowds and cameras in order to connect with the actual person within all these fierce little creatures. And he makes face after goofy face, too, while doing that intuitive swaying thing* I recognize and remember all too well.

You know, I was rather mother-cat-like with my babies--I had to fight the urge to swipe them back from the arms of their own pediatrician--but I'd have trusted Senator Obama to hold any of my newborns: besides the fact that he's supremely natural with the wee bairns and has an obvious ability to charm them, he clearly knows to extend his index and middle fingers to support that heavy little bobble-head they tend to have when very tiny.


This very sweet Ramones-accompanied piece goes out to my wonderful Queen Mum.

Also at Cogitamus.

* Here's Part Two, which has movie footage--lots of kissing, hugging, and swaying--along with the still shots: