Saturday, October 30, 2004

It's for your own good: Mosh

I previously mentioned Eminem's mosh. If you haven't watched it, do it already, doofus.

Seriously, it's refreshing to see an artist that's still relevant speak out so articulately, yet in a compelling way.

But don't take my word for it, check out the story on NPR and Slate's Meghan O'Rourke has her take on the video, including why it came out so late in the game.

Friday, October 29, 2004

2004's Scariest Halloween Costumes

This is fantastic: 2004's Scariest Halloween Costumes or, get your kids interested in politics early!

Holy crap

I was on my way to work Thursday when I saw a bunch of fire trucks, cop cars and choppers flying overhead, but didn't know what was going on. Now I know.

Driver loses control, hits mourners, pregnant woman (Gothamist)

Good lord. I'm glad I didn't see it happen, and even gladder that everyone is in stable condition, even the pregnant woman.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

So about that Fever Pitch remake

Earlier today: Congrats to Red Sox, not so much to Jimmy Fallon

So I was wondering about that Fever Pitch adaptation with the Red Sox and Jimmy Fallon.

"You think that hot dog was big? Wait till I show you..."
From Tuesday's Boston Globe:
Word outta Fenway Park is that Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon and the Farrelly Brothers will be back in the old ballyard after the baseball season to reshoot the end of "Fever Pitch'' because nobody - not even Hollywood - could have scripted a finale like the one the Red Sox wrote this year!

"In the script, the Red Sox don't win, but now all of a sudden, what happens if they do win?'' Bobby Farrelly told us. "There's been some tweaking. The writers are burning the midnight oil...

"The script implies that it's not one of their best years,'' Farrelly said. "We didn't know they were going to make a historic comeback against the Yankees.''

So, because the script has been altered, the stars have to go back and do some retakes with different lines...

And today
"Fever'' director Peter Farrelly worked the phones all day to get a camera crew as well as Drew and her co-star Jimmy Fallon to the Gateway City.

"We've got them celebrating on the field,'' he said. "It's the end of the movie. And what an ending it was. This is like the aliens made contact. It's something we've thought about for a long time, but never thought was possible...

"We've always been lucky but this is the luckiest we've ever been - to be involved with this thing at this time,'' Bobby Farrelly told the Track.

 "Actually, our only discernable talent is luck.''

This just in: "pimp" means "cool"

It's important sometimes to take a step back from the blogosphere and catch up on the latest trends with the help of the traditional media.

Pimp 'n' ho Halloween costumes the latest craze, even with teens

Congrats to Red Sox, not so much to Jimmy Fallon

Always a huge fan of Bill Simmons' The Sports Guy columns, and last night's World Series Game 4 diary was pretty special.

I really don't care about baseball or Boston, but it's been great watching them, just having fun, overcoming history and the Yankees.

Now, Red Sox fans aren't the only beneficiaries of the breaking of the curse. Fever Pitch, an American remake of a British film of the same name, which in turn is a fictional adaptation of an excellent memoir by Nick Hornby, chronicling his obsession with a hapless English soccer team, Arsenal.

For the American adaptation, the Boston Red Sox were chosen to replace the similarly hapless (well, at the time anyway - they are the defending Premiership champions) Arsenal. The only problem - the book ends with Arsenal winning the league title on the last day of the season, against all odds, in the dying seconds, away against the most glamorous English club of the 70s and the 80s, Liverpool. Hornby goes on to find peace and perspective, thanks in no small parts to the championship.

Well, the Farrelly Brothers shot the ballpark scenes at actual Red Sox games, but they obviously didn't count on the Sox beating the Yankees.

So maybe they can re-jiggy the film to include the 2004 World Series? We'll see. But the TV audience did catch Jimmy Fallon, the star of the film, rushing the field after the final out. Hmmm.

The frickin' Economist endorse Kerry

America's next president (The Economist)

I gotta say, this surprised me a bit. The last few months, they have criticized (should that be criticised?) Bush and the administration over the culture of secrecy and handling of intel, but otherwise have been pretty favorable, from the Iraq war to No Child Left Behind.

The endorsement of Kerry is far from enthusiastic, but the disomfort with Bush is obvious.

Some excerpts:

The biggest issue against Bush, for The Economist, was the prison abuse scandals.
The biggest mistake, though, was one that will haunt America for years to come. It lay in dealing with prisoners-of-war by sending hundreds of them to the American base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, putting them in a legal limbo, outside the Geneva conventions and outside America's own legal system...
Today, Guantánamo Bay offers constant evidence of America's hypocrisy, evidence that is disturbing for those who sympathise with it, cause-affirming for those who hate it. This administration, which claims to be fighting for justice, the rule of law and liberty, is incarcerating hundreds of people, whether innocent or guilty, without trial or access to legal representation.

And of course, the lack of planning for winning the peace in Iraq:
Invading Iraq was not a mistake. Although the intelligence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction has been shown to have been flimsy and, with hindsight, wrong, Saddam's record of deception in the 12 years since the first Gulf war meant that it was right not to give him the benefit of the doubt...
But changing the regime so incompetently was a huge mistake. By having far too few soldiers to provide security and by failing to pay Saddam's remnant army, a task that was always going to be long and hard has been made much, much harder. Such incompetence is no mere detail: thousands of Iraqis have died as a result and hundreds of American soldiers.

The endorsement of Kerry is not without reservations, of course.
...Mr Kerry has shaped many of his positions to contrast himself with the incumbent. That is par for the course. What is more disconcerting, however, is the way those positions have oscillated, even as the facts behind them have stayed the same. In the American system... presidents should primarily be chosen for their character, their qualities of leadership, for how they might be expected to deal with the crises that may confront them, abroad or at home. Oscillation, even during an election campaign, is a worrying sign.

But The Economist likes Kerry because, unlike Bush, he is a conservative:
[Kerry's] record and instincts are as a fiscal conservative, suggesting that he would rightly see future federal budget deficits as a threat... His only big spending plan, on health care, would probably be killed by a Republican Congress.

And the flip flop charge:
His voting record implies he is a vacillator, but that may be unfair, given the technical nature of many Senate votes. His oscillations this year imply that he is more of a ruthless opportunist. His military record suggests he can certainly be decisive when he has to be and his post-Vietnam campaign showed determination. His reputation for political comebacks and as a strong finisher in elections also indicates a degree of willpower that his flip-flopping otherwise belies.

And Iraq:
[Kerry] has been forthright about the need to win in Iraq, rather than simply to get out, and will stand a chance of making a fresh start in the Israel-Palestine conflict... After three necessarily tumultuous and transformative years, this is a time for consolidation, for discipline and for repairing America's moral and practical authority. Furthermore, as Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him, given a viable alternative.

Great read overall. And if you're wondering why exactly a British mag is endorsing a US presidential candidate,
The Economist's weekly sales in the United States are about 450,000 copies, which is three times our British sale and roughly 45% of our worldwide total.

Eminem's "Mosh"

Watch video here

Yeah, he's a little late to the game, but it is nice to see him use his fame to speak out. I have mixed feelings out Em, but I do like him better when he's "Eminem" rather than playing "Slim Shady" or going after pop stars.

His most compelling work has always been when he puts on his (semi) serious hat - "Way I Am", "Lose Yourself", "White America" and now "Mosh".

Brush with fame

I took a cab from midtown to Chelsea today. The cabbie's name was Carlos Valderrama. I told him, "I see you cut your hair." profile

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Trifecta+1 of political links

I can't believe how political I've gotten in the past few months. I'm not an angry person - yeah, I'm a cynical asshole, but I'm not angry. I'm a happy cynic.

Both conservatives and liberals piss me off. I can't wait for the stupid election and the subsequent challenges to be over so I can go back to talking about boogers and Lindsay Lohan's breast implant scars.

With that said, a couple of links courtesy of Pete and a cool looking short film.

Colin Powell to Taiwan: "You and your thriving democracy are dead to me" (Yahoo News)

"There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy. End communicatioins. Beep." -- Sec of State Colin Powell

Okay, here's how the US-China-Taiwan triangle works. The US has always had a wink-wink relationship with Taiwan. China is like the wife that the US keeps around because she's the boss's daughter and needs to stay married to get promoted.

Taiwan is the girl US screws on the side and pays for her apartment and dance school tuition - Taiwan knows US won't invite her to parties or to meet the family, but can count on US to be there in time of need.

Powell's statement is basically the US saying to Taiwan's face "I love my wife, the sex is great and I'm never leaving her for you. And you smell." Nothing Taiwan didn't know already, but not the smartest thing to say either - at best, it makes everyone uncomfortable.

Bush flip flops on gay marriage (Yahoo News)
Seriously, who is he fooling? Is it worth pissing off the base? So this should be a non-issue, now that Bush and Kerry are nearly identical on their position on gay marriage.

Personally, I really don't see a difference between a marriage and a civil union. It's just that one gets religion involved. What we should do is have the government issue civil union license to any couple, same sex or otherwise, and if they want to get "married", find a church that will do the ceremony. No biggie.

But how would the radical right score political points at the expense of gays if we did that?

Getting Through To The President (Gothamist)
Pretty cool looking. They set up cameras in front of pay phones at Washington Square Park, gave quarters to New Yorkers and had them call the White House comment line.

Finally, Tale of Two Cities said pretty much what I've wanted to say about the rag that's not fit to pick up your dog's poo, NY Post.

Okay I lied, I'm mentioning Ashlee again

But this was worth breaking my promise to dear readers.
iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition

Joe Simpson: happily oblivious. Or is he?

I swear, this is the last time I mention Ashlee Simpson. I promise.

Ashlee Simpson's Dad Says Her Credibility Intact (Yahoo)

"I was definitely surprised by (the reaction) because she didn't expose a boob, she wasn't doing drugs, she isn't anorexic and she didn't get married in Vegas," Simpson said during Billboard magazine's What Teens Want conference.

He explained that the singer has acid reflux, which affects the vocal cords, and was ordered by her doctor not to sing live that night...

"I don't think this will hurt her credibility with kids; they won't care," he said, because they have already gotten to know his daughters through their MTV reality shows, "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" and "The Ashlee Simpson Show."

Sadly, I think he's right.

Speaking of reality shows, Joe is fresh out of daughters, but that won't stop him from pimping more manufactured pop stars on TV:
Joe Simpson: "Songs don't matter" (NY Times via
Not to worry, Mr. Simpson has a plan: he wants to find a new child and turn him or her into a star. Of course, in order to find the right talented youngster, Mr. Simpson would need to hold nationwide auditions. And of course, the entire process would have to be turned into a reality television series, so Mr. Simpson has started pitching television and music executives on the idea.


Why you too should believe in Bush, you non-believer

Why I believe in our president

Count me in. Vive la devolution.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Beautiful Day - if you have $350 to drop on an iPod

U2 edition iPod

Purdy cool looking, don't you think?

Apple also announced iPod Photo with a color screen. I may get this next year. I'm happy with my old school 2003 iPod for now though.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Piling on - additional ado about Ashlee

10/24: Ashlee Simpson is my schadenfreude

Simpson Dad Blames Acid Reflux for Gaffe (Yahoo News)
Ashlee's dad/manager/preacher says the backing track was used only because Ashlee had acid reflux disease that made her voice hoarse.
More from Papa Simpson:
"Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television," Joe Simpson told Ryan Seacrest on Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM. "No one wants to hear that."

He insisted it would be Ashlee's live voice alone during her appearance on NBC's "Radio Music Awards" Monday night.

And he said she's never used the extra help onstage before...

The incident exposed what many consider an obvious secret: that some singers who appear onstage aren't singing live at all, or at least have their voices augmented by backing tracks.

"Every artist that I now in this business has had vocal problems at some time — from Celine on down," said Joe Simpson, also father of Jessica Simpson (news). "So you've got to do what you've got to do."

He said it was his decision to use the tapes when it became apparent that acid reflux disease had swollen Ashlee's vocal chords. After consulting Wayne Newton (news)'s doctor, she received a cortisone shot to get her ready for the "Radio Music Awards," he said.

It was the band's drummer who pushed the wrong button onstage, he said.

Yes, it's still the band's fault.

Meanwhile, from tale of two cities, irony or synchronicity?

Now, I do feel a bit sympathetic (but only a teeny weeny bit) for young Ashlee. After all, she's just a dumb teen who's been forced into showbiz by her father, and she obviously has no idea what to do on stage other than follow instructions.

And she will be singled out, fairly or not, for being the girl who lip synched on SNL when so many other artists use pre-recorded backup vocals and still maintain their cred. The bulk of the blame goes to Joe Simpson, for creating this caricature of a musician, for Universal Vivendi for the incestuous relationship between Geffen Music and NBC, and to Lorne Michael for booking crap, if popular, acts for the sake of ratings.

Finally, again from ToTC, was it part of a vast right wing conspiracy?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ashlee Simpson is my schadenfreude

Some events - 9/11, JFK's assasination, the Challenger disaster, etc - we all remember watching it happen, or hearing about it. We remember where we were, what we were doing when it happened. This may or may not be one of them - Ashlee Simpson getting caught red handed with a vocal track - for the wrong song.

NEW YORK - Singer Ashlee Simpson's "extra help" may have been exposed when a "Saturday Night Live" audience heard her voice — singing the wrong song — while she held a microphone at her waist.

Her record company blamed a computer glitch and she blamed her band for Sunday morning's incident, which cut off her planned performance of the song "Autobiography" on the network comedy show.

Simpson had performed her hit single "Pieces of Me" without incident earlier in the show. When she came back a second time, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again.

She looked momentarily confused as the band plowed ahead with the song and the vocal was quickly silenced.

Simpson made some exaggerated hopping dance moves, then walked off the stage 35 seconds into the performance. NBC quickly cut to a commercial.

Contemporary Insanity has video of the incident and her blaming the band during closing credits.

Now, I don't think it's that big a deal for three reasons.
1. She isn't the first, and won't be the last, pop singer to lip synch during a TV performance, but read on for more on this.
2. I think she actually sang, and the vocal track was just there for support - for more on that, read on for the excerpt from
3. Her fan base probably doesn't care. People who care don't listen to Ashlee Simpson.

That said, I still think it's crappy. I don't care about lip synched performances per se. A lot of pop artists have vocal tracks because they do high-intensity choregraphed moves on stage, and it's impossible to lose breath and sing at the same time. Yeah, it is a bit disingenuous, but it's show business.

But Ashlee doesn't do choreographed moves. She stands on stage and hugs the mic (or hop in place when things get hairy). She is in no danger of losing her breath. Her entire claim to fame in being the younger, less attractive, smaller breasted sister of another pop singer, who herself had barely a career until she played a dumb blonde on Newlyweds. Her voice isn't special, even with the help of studio magic. How much worse could her voice be without a (backing) vocal track?

Blogcritics has a good take on it:
I saw the first song and she clearly did sing it live. When you can hear breathing, volume variability as a real person moves around and the mike varies in position relative to her mouth, and the musicality of vocals vary throughout the performance - ie, she hit some notes better than others - so this isn't really about lipsyncing at all. The recorded vocal track was support, backup, not the primary lead.

Clearly for the second song the sound engineer screwed up and played the wrong backing track, which included the backing vocals. The band started playing along, she just didn't know what the hell to do, because SHE HAD ALREADY DONE THIS SONG. She sort of danced around, tried to say/sing something, then gave up and walked off camera.

The sin wasn't that THE GREAT INDESCRETION OF LIPSYNCING ON SNL WAS REVEALED. All that was revealed is that she was using a backing track to go along with the live band and lead vocals; her sin was that she didn't just take control, stop the band, tell the sound engineer to turn off the freaking backing track, and tell everyone to start over again. that is what a seasoned performer, a professional, would have done. She could have simply started singing the correct song and the band would have joined in one way or another. She let the system and technology control her rather than she controlling it.

What he said.

Random thought for the night

When people replace their factory installed car horn with a musical horn, why is it always "Dixie"? Why do people get musical horns anyway? Are they more effective at warning other drivers? Getting their carpool to hurry their ass down to the car? And why do I get the urge to hum the rest of "Dixie"? Am I a closet Confederate? Must be my North Carolina upbringing.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Fun with Site Meter

How one person Googled their way to my blog
Referring URL:
Search Engine:
Search Words: japanese bitches

Friday, October 22, 2004

Down for the count

Not much posting this weekend, I'm sure.

The backlight on my iBook went out yesterday and ended up spending a couple of hours at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in SoHo. So yeah, my warranty expired back in August so this could cost a couple of dollars.

Here's the thing about SoHo - it's been take over by an army of poncho wearers. I hope this stops before too long.

Also, I'm working on a new blog, Daily Schadenfreude. Well, the name and address will change before too long, since DailyKos has a section under the same name. Bastards. I'll keep y'all posted.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

More schadenfreude

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Dear Limey Asshole

Last week, The Guardian of the UK launched a letter writing campaign targeted at the hotly contested Clark County of Ohio, as the results of November's election affects not only the United States, but also the rest of the world.

Below is a typical American response:



More reactions from to the Guardian's Clark County project

Verizon is stupid too. Okay, not stupid but greedy, probably.

tripping over Verizon's waste (cityrag)

I was thinking the same thing - who the hell uses the yellow pages anyway? For one thing, with so many frickin' businesses in NYC (and hundreds within walking distance for most Manhattanites), these bigass directories aren't all that helpful, with or without the internet.

The reason for printing so many copies is simple - it's all about selling advertising space. And by printing a huge fucking number of them, they can inflate the circulation figures and charge more per sq in. Bastards.

It wouldn't be the first time. NYC is removing public phones after realizing they're getting installed for the ad revenue, not because anyone needs it.

What rhymes with schadenfreude? More ado about Sinclair

Previously on Sinclair Broadcasting: Oct 11, Oct 15

Yesterday, stock in Sinclair Broadcasting Group went in free-fall mode and at one point hit a 52 week low at 6.12 a stock, the lowest point since February 2001.

Sinclair's stock over the past 52 weeks:

The last 5 days:

Not surprisingly, Sinclair issued a press release announcing they won't be showing the film, but will instead show an hour-long news program which includes clips from the anti-Kerry hit piece.

Rather than admit it was wrong, it blamed the damn liberal media and complained that "the company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the viles nature". Like "holocaust deniers"?

Naturally, shareholders weren't too happy.
(From NY Times)
A group of shareholders, represented by the prominent lawyer William S. Lerach, announced it would file suit against Sinclair's management, charging it with damaging the company financially by pursuing the partisan political interests of its owners and with insider trading.

Alan G. Hevesi, the New York state comptroller and the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which owns more than 250,000 shares of Sinclair stock, wrote a letter to David D. Smith, Sinclair's chief executive, detailing his concerns about what he called "recent actions that have brought a great deal of publicity to our company." Mr. Hevesi also demanded that Mr. Smith explain why critics who have accused the company of pursuing "partisan political views" rather than "protecting shareholder value" are wrong.

Oh, and allegations of insider trading too! Yay!

Sinclair stock is rebounding today on the heel of yesteday's announcement, but it seems like they just gave themselves more plausible deniability by not explicityly showing the documentary. Still, it's nice to see a grassroots movement have visible, even if limited, success.

Anti-Kerry film producer accused of libel (Yahoo News)
How fair is Sinclair's doctrine? - Is John Kerry entitled to avenge his Stolen Honor? (Slate)
Uncivil War - Stolen Honor rewrites the history of Vietnam War (Slate)
A summary on the whole Sinclair hullaballoo (Daily Kos)

Non-political post: Lower East Side dining - 'Inoteca

So Maureen and I decided that last night was our de facto anniversary. Yay us.

Anyway, I've been meaning to go to 'Inoteca for a while, and figured this would be a good time to go as ever, even if Maureen did say she was willing to settle for congee.

Loved it. Had the chicken cacciatore, she had the eggplant lasagna. The wine was good - I'd be willing to go back just for wine. Great selection and the waitress was super helpful.

Also, fantastic episode of Scrubs last night.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

3 stories in 1 - U2+new iPod+Apple Event= black 60 GB photo-viewer U2 edition iPod?

60 GB Color Screen Photo iPod?
Mac Rumors: Apple iPod and U2 Event
Black U2 iPod?

Yeah, I'm a nerd and I'm excited.

Previously, a black iPod appeared in the form of a Jaguar X-Type giveaway earlier this year, but it wasn't all that good looking.

Things that I own that I'm pretty happy about - The Criterion Collection: The Royal Tenenbaums

The Criterion Collection: The Royal Tenenbaums

So I bought this a couple of weeks back because I saw it on sale for $16.99 and couldn't resist it. I love Wes Anderson's work - well, I thought Bottle Rocket was a tad bit overrated, but I still liked it - and he seems to get better with each work (and I'm excited about The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, naturally).

I thought the acting was fantastic, and Anderson created this wonderful New York-like world with such attention to detail, but simultaneously drew it with a broad stroke with little regard for the trivial.

But let's get to the DVD set.
    Double Disc Set includes:
  • Special slipcase/box packaging featuring Richard Avedon's cast photo, plus cover artwork by Eric Anderson

  • New widescreen digital transfer, supervised by director Wes Anderson and enhanced for widescreen televisions

  • Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks

  • Commentary by Wes Anderson

  • With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, featuring Wes Anderson

  • Exclusive video interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and Danny Glover

  • Outtakes

  • The Peter Bradley Show, featuring interviews with additional cast members

  • The Art of the Movie: Young Richie's murals and paintings, still photographs by set photographer James Hamilton, book and magazine covers, Studio 360 radio segment on painter Miguel Calderón, and storyboards

  • Theatrical trailers

  • Collectible insert including Eric Anderson's drawings

  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

So yeah, I love it. Watched it this weekend, remembered why I liked it so much the first time around. And I have a much better appreciation for Royal Tenenbaum and Buckley the dog.

I haven't gotten to the extra features disc yet, but the booklet with Eric Anderson's drawings are great.

Speaking of badass DVDs, the first season of Arrested Development is coming out this Tuesday.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm not a baseball fan but..

At the beginning of the 13th inning in Yankees vs Red Sox, the stadium PA is playing Journey's Don't Stop Believin' (iTunes).

That's awesome. That is all.

Marc Almond to car: "Sometimes I feel I've got to / Run away, I've got to / Get away / From the pain that you drive into the heart of me"

Yahoo! News - Soft Cell Singer Hospitalized After Crash

Tasteless joking aside, it does sound serious and I wish him a complete and speedy recovery.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Yay or nay: Red Hook Ikea?

Curbed: Red Hook Ikea Plan: Ja, Baby, Ja!

Um, yeah, I'm a bit behind on this, but I have mixed feelings. Yeah, it's great that an Ikea's opening in the five boroughs, not too far from my current place. And it's nice there's both boat and bus shuttle service there, but I don't know if my life will improve all that much.

I imagine it would take about the same time to get there as it does now to Elizabeth, NJ on the free shuttle from Port Authority Bus Terminal. Plus, NJ has one advantage that Brooklyn can never match - 3% sales tax.

We shall see.

In no-Red Hook Ikea news:
Ikea gives commuters pillows in massive promotion, no reports of hot Swedish lesbian pillowfights on trains however.

Blatant plagiarism: from this week's issue of the Onion

The Onion | Dog Experiences Best Day Of His Life For 400th Consecutive Day
SANTEE, CA—Family dog Loki experienced the best day of his life for the 400th straight day Monday, the black Labrador retriever reported. "I got to go outside! I got to sniff the bush!" Loki said, wagging excitedly. "I saw a squirrel and I barked at it and it ran up the tree! Then I came back inside, and the smoky-smelling tall man let me have a little piece of bacon and then I drank from the toilet!" Loki will experience the best day of his life once again tomorrow, when he digs a hole, chews on a slipper, and almost catches his tail.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Che And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Caught The Motorcycle Diaries last night. Fantastic flick. First - the scenery. I could've watched this movie with the sound off, because I don't think there's a way to make the South American countryside look ugly. From the Andes to the Amazon, the nature is so grand, so diverse. And I just loved the Guevara's-eye-view, the landscape shot, but with the vibration of the motorcycle or a pickup truck.

I can't say enough about Gael Garcia Bernal. Now, I think the craft of acting is overrated for the most part. Yes, I do think there are good actors, bad actors and great actors. But it's really up to the director to bring it up - have you see J.Lo in Out Of Sight? I don't think much of her as an actress, yet Soderbergh managed to bring out some convincing acting out of her.

But Bernal, like very few actors, has a natural screen presence. He can speak without saying a word, and he can command a shot by simply being on camera. He just has those deep, expressive dark eyes, an easy smile that can quickly turn into a thoughtful stare. Is this the most homoerotic paragraph I have ever written? Probably not.

Props should also go to Rodrigo De La Serna, the Sancho Panco to Guevara's Don Quixote. I figured he would simply be the comic foil to the handsome, intellectual Bernal, but his character goes through a transformation as well (albeit not as remarkable as Guevara's) and De La Serna plays it well.

It was clearly written, adapted and directed by people who love and worship Che Guevara, and yes, it did get a bit sentimental at times, but never enough to get annoying. The film ran the risk of depicting Guevara as a saint, but presented enough of the dark side that will eventually manifest in Comandante Che. The shots of the indigenous people and the lepers were done with care, but without pity or being patronizing.

I definitely recommend The Motorcycle Diaries, no matter what your politics are. It's less a biography of Che as it is a love letter to South America and youthful idealism.

- Trailer
- Reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official Site

Watch this now and thank me later III: Jon Stewart, my hero

Stewart on Crossfire (Aaron Swartz: The Weblog)

Jon Stewart sticks it to the host of CNN's Crossfire.
STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...

STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?

CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago. You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

Excellent stuff. Though I wonder if Stewart will ever be booked on any of the "hard hitting" news shows on the cable news networks.

Video and audio files of the broadcast are also available here (Contemporary Insanity)

Watch this now and thank me later II: Bush 1994 vs Bush 2004

Did you notice how Bush fumbling and stumbling through the debates, and wonder how he won three straight elections? I did too.

Well, he wasn't like that 10 years ago (4.4mb .mov file)

Friday, October 15, 2004

FCC es muy stupido

Or, Much Ado About Sinclair Broadcasting

Yahoo! News - FCC Chief Says Cannot Block Anti-Kerry Show
"Don't look to us to block the airing of the program," FCC Chairman Michael Powell told reporters. "There is no rule that I'm aware of that would allow the commission, nor would it be prudent, to prevent the airing of programing

Um, you have heard of the equal time rule, yes?

So Mikey, you'll go after Janet Jackson's boobs, Howard Stern and some silly Fox reality show, but you won't go after this blatant abuse of the public airwaves. I hope he relizes what a horrible precendent this sets - basically, there's no more distinction between journalism and smear jobs. Now, the Swift Boat fuckers no longer have to buy air time - their negative ad can be classified as "news".

Please, please, please help send a message to Sinclair by contacting advertisers and asking them to pull commercials from Sinclair stations. Because Sinclair isn't going to do it, and FCC decided it has no teeth.

Out: original ideas/In: rehashing 80s TV shows

Seriously, is there a single 80s TV show that hasn't been optioned yet?

Miami Vice
Dukes of Hazzard

An event I won't be participating in this weekend - Beer on the Pier!

Beer on the Pier!

Yeah, for $35, you can, er, sample as many beer as you can until midnight or fall into the Hudson. But the last week hasn't been the kindest on my health, so I won't be attending. Extremely unfortunate, but I'm not sure if I can drink 7+ beer and still enjoy myself.

Maybe next year.

Bastards! $84 for a 30-day Metrocard?

Gothamist: Unlimited Monthly Metrocards Face 20% Increase

This is seriously ridonculous. When I came to NY in June 2001, a monthly Metrocard set me back $63, it went up to $70 last year, and it is now set to go up to $84.

If you calculate it per-ride, it's not so bad, since at $1.50-per-ride, a $63 card required 21 round trips to pay for itself. It increased to $70 last year, but the cost of single fare card went up to $2 so the card now only needed 17.5 round trips to pay for itself. At $84, it's actually going back up to 21 rides.

Still, it's a $21 increase in 2 years, and the service is only getting worse.
Gothamist understands that it costs a lot of money to run and maintain the subways and buses. And even though we question the leadership, we do know that Albany hasn't been helping the MTA for the past few years. The fact that NY State isn't helping the MTA makes Gothamist crazy, because NYC's economy (and the MTA literally helps move it) does make New York State a political force. Yeah, yeah, there are upstate industries, but nothing like NYC. So, Governor Pataki, if you want Gothamist to take you seriously (and you're doing a crap job of that now), help out the MTA.

Watch this now and thank me later: frontline: the choice 2004 on PBS

frontline: the choice 2004 | PBS

I only caught about 30 minutes of this, but I will watch this in its entirety this weekend. A great, evenhanded portrait of both George Bush and John Kerry - pretty amazing stuff.

You get to see Dubya when he was still smooth and articulate, and John O'Neill emerge as the Lex Luthor to Kerry's Superman (or Baby Gerald the Arch-Nemesis with a unibrow to Kerry's Maggie Simpson).

Watch this. I command you.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Debate 3 Wrap Up

I meant to do this last night, but got lazy. Forgive me. Or not. I don't care.

As always, I acknowledge my leftist leanings, but is there any doubt that Kerry won, if not overwhelmingly? Coming in, Kerry had to shred the perception that he didn't stick to his issues and he was campaign solely as an anti-Bush with medals from Vietnam. I think he did exactly that, though that's something he should have done at the DNC.
Bush, on the other hand, was left looking aimless, throwing "liberal from Massachusets" ad hominem at Kerry and wedging in No Child Left Behind at every opportunity.

The most telling was his responses to questions about unemployment and the minimum wage. In each case, he dodges the question and spends almost his entire allotted time talking about No Child Left Behind - a program that is widely ridiculed by educators.

But the worst moment for Bush came in the very first question:
Kerry:Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?"
He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

Bush: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

But of course, Bush did say "I truly am not that concerned about him", when asked about Osama Bin Laden.

Bush could have simply ignored it, or at worst, said "Well, I misspoke and it came out wrong" and it would have been a non-story. But thanks to some TV magic, the networks are playing that old remark back to back with his denial. Now, he comes out looking like a President who not only doesn't care about fighting the terrorists, but then tries to cover his ass.
And Chris Suellentrop of Slate agrees with me.

Now, we have three weeks to go on the trail. Kerry's made up the post-RNC deficit. We'll see how this plays out.

  • ABC viewer poll calls it a tie at 42-41, but the audience was split 38% Republican, 30% Democrat and 28% independent. More encouraging for Kerry, the independents voted 42-35 in favor of Kerry, beyond the margin of error

  • CNN snap poll went 52-39 in favor of Kerry, well beyond the margin of error.

  • CBS poll of uncommitted voters howed 39% thought Kerry won, while 36% thought it was a tie.

- Transcript Part 1/Part 2
- Memo to Kerry: Attack Already, Geez. (The Village Voice)
- Let Them Eat Education: Is "No Child Left Behind" Bush's answer to everything? (Slate)
- Grand Slam: Kerry crushes Bush in third debate (Slate)
- Gay vs Too Straight!: Tie goes to Bush (Slate)

- To both Bush & Kerry: you are not comedians. Kerry, nice try with "Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country" but really, you don't have the delivery. And George, "In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about -- oh, nevermind." was just pathetic.

- What's with Bush's smirking?

- Is anyone else disturbed AND amused when a politician vows "I will hunt them down"?

- Kerry did get something close to a soundbite with "You can't legislate my faith on (american citizens)"

- Did Bush actually say he was going to work with Canada to get a flu vaccine? (Yes he did) Isn't he worried that the vaccine looks like it is from Canada; it might be from a Third World?

- And did Bush actually call the US healthcare system "the envy of the world"? (Yeah)

- And kinda funny to see him taking credit for shutting the flu vaccine factory down.

- "98 times"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Yay! Mexican Restaurant Tour!

Mexican Cultural Institute of New York
New York's best Mexican restuarants will be serving three-course lunches for $20 and three-course dinners for $30 (beverage, tax and gratuity not included).
More than 50 special culinary events will take place daily at select restaurants.

Participaing restaurants
Calendar of events

My interest is piqued. Quite piqued.

10/13/2004 - Links bitches, links - closet iPod users, Bill O'Reilly and his vibrators, Franz Ferdinand

- iPod Users Go Into the Closet(Wired)
"He gets on the subway, being very independent and a maverick, which is what New Yorkers like to do, and he sees another guy across the car wearing black headphones. And this guy pulls out an iPod to adjust the volume. My friend catches himself giving this guy the look, the I've-got-an-iPod-too wink."

- Jacko angry at Eminem(Wired)
See, I'd like to see a fight break out between them. But I do feel bad for Michael. Being a public figure must really really suck.

- The cutthroat world of 3rd grade soccer(NY Times)

- Everyone's favorite Fox News anchor knows a lot about vibrators, getting sued for sexual harrassment (Gawker)

- A week late on this one, but Franz Ferdinand and Dan the Automator collaborating? Very cool. (NME)

2004 Presidential Debates - Round 3

So the countdown has begun... some time ago, I'm sure.

- NPR Coverage

- What Poll and Registration Numbers Don't Reveal (WaPo)
A longish, but good piece about how it's hard to quantify how the new registrants will vote in key states.

- Election Scorecard (Slate)
Bush winning 270 (169 solid, 101 close) to Kerry's 268 (167 solid, 101 close)
Analysis Oct. 13: Could it get any closer? Wisconsin shifts to Kerry;Iowa shifts to Bush. Kerry continues to hold Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Bottom line: Kerry wins if 1) he takes New Hampshire (tied in the latest poll, Bush led in the previous one) or 2) Colorado passes the ballot measure to split its EVs by percentage of the statewide vote. Maine splits only two of its four EVs by congressional district, so if Bush loses there, he can salvage one EV at best, putting him at 271. That means that Kerry, with just a third of the statewide vote in Colorado, would take back 3 EVs and the presidency--but only if the ballot measure holds up in court. Summary: If current polls hold, it's Florida all over again.
I'm not impartial by any means of course, but I'm really digging the math game.

- How To Watch Tonight's Debate (Slate)
You're feeling guilty. Tonight's the last presidential debate, and it's all about domestic policy, and you still haven't mastered the details of John Kerry's health care plan or President Bush's Social Security privatization plan. Well, I have a little secret for you. It doesn't matter!

- Millionaires for Bush, Billionaires for Kerry (Slate)
On Wall Street, veterans speak of "f***-you money": the nice round figure a guy needs to set himself up for life, buy (and decorate) multiple residences, create trust funds for kids, and still have enough cash to buy expensive toys and pursue new business ventures. At a certain point—somewhere north of $10 million—wealth may become "f*** you and f*** you, Republicans" money. This is the kind of cash that George Soros, Warren Buffett, Peter Lewis, and the 200 business leaders who endorsed Kerry possess. People with such sums don't need to worry about how income or capital gains taxes affect their daily lives. Raise 'em, lower 'em, who cares? They're still going to be disgustingly rich. And so they are free to devote their attention—and resources—to other areas: the environment, education, foreign policy, the Supreme Court, social issues, stem-cell research, the war on drugs, whatever. And it seems that for many of the truly wealthy, focusing on those other issues leads them to favor Kerry over Bush.

- We've Got Hard Questions - Let's pretend that we can get some real answers, especially from Bush (the Village Voice)

- - A relative oldie, but a goodie: Why Did James Baker Turn Bush Into Nixon (NY Times)
It was Mr. Baker's job to negotiate the 32-page debate agreement with Vernon Jordan, representing the Kerry camp, and by all accounts, the Bush campaign got almost everything it wanted. Yet as we now know, every Bush stipulation backfired, from the identically sized podiums that made the 5-foot-11 president look as if he needed a booster stool, to the flashing "Time's up!" lights that emphasized Mr. Kerry's uncharacteristic brevity and Mr. Bush's need to run out the clock by repeating stock phrases ad infinitum and ad absurdum.

The most revealing Baker error, though, was to insist that the first debate be about the president's purported strong suit, foreign affairs, instead of domestic policy. Did no one anticipate the likelihood that Iraq might once again explode that day, as it has on so many recent others? Insurgent attacks have gone from a daily average of 6 in May 2003 to as high as 87 in August. And so, as Adam Nagourney of The Times reported, "In the hours leading up to the debate, television images of aides to Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry were mixed with images of corpses and bloody children from Baghdad," on a day when some 35 Iraqi children were slaughtered by car bombs. With this montage grinding away in the media mix, Mr. Kerry probably could have gotten away with even more inconsistent positions about the war than he did that night.

Mr. Baker isn't responsible for the other split-screen visuals that undid Mr. Bush on Sept. 30: the reaction shots during the debate itself. They were forbidden by the 32-page agreement. But earlier that week, the networks, including Fox News, publicly announced they would violate that rule. The Bush campaign has since said that the president knew this was coming, but if so, that makes his lack of self-discipline seem all the more self-destructive, or perhaps out of touch. He couldn't have provided a better out-take promo for the DVD release of "Fahrenheit 9/11" had Michael Moore been directing it himself.

- Strikeout - Kerry blows the second debate (Slate)

- Me on Round 1 and the Undercard.

- Finally, no time to edit the drinking game, but you can still play it. Just ignore the foreign policy stuff.

Republicans Hate Democracy: Part 3

Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed (KLAS TV - Las Vegas, NV)
Two former [Voter Outreach for America] workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Now, I realize election fraud happens on both sides and that 99.9% of GOPers wouldn't resort to such tactics. But really, this has to disturb the hell out of you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

All Your Shah Are Belong To Us

Current Reading: All The Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer
I've only just started reading this, but I recommend this book with vigor. Basic story - US staged overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran in 1953 and placed the Shah in power to protect British oil interests. Fast forward to 1979, Iranians still remember the overthrow, fundamendalist Islam is popular with the masses, revolutioin, Shah replaced by Ayatollah. The Islamic Revolution spurs similar Islam Fundamentalist movements across the region, combined with the US-backed Islamic fighters in Afghanistan, etc etc.

It's been a fascinating read so far, great insight into the influence of Islam, particularly the Shi'ite sect, on the Iranian mindset and the heritage of the past Persian civilizations. But for me, it's interesting to just see how we see the effects of decisions made 60, 70 years ago in today's politics. Good stuff.

Well, good morning!

Do I really need to come up with a caption for this?

10/12/04 - Pictures!

I really don't have any relevance for these pictures. Most of them anyway.

Xenophobia is the new irony.

Union Square reminds me of my old college campus, but without the basketball players.

I'll miss these protest t-shirts.

And buttons.

This is the view from my rooftop. I don't take advantage of this enough - I love that the Empire State and/or the Chrysler are visible from practically anywhere in Manhattan from Midtown south.

Orchard Street getting ready for filming of Law & Order:SVU (via taleoftwocities)

Lastly, yet another men's clothing store on Orchard St below Delancey:

Monday, October 11, 2004

10/11/2004 - Links bitches, links - Bush thinks America would be better off if Kerry and Saddam were in power

- Microsoft making friends everywhere, calls me and other iPod users "Thieves" (MacMinute)
Well, I guess it's technically true, since I did steal Microsoft Office.

- I'm not sure how to feel about the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler combo on SNL's Weekend Update. I like both comedians and Fey has always been a strong writer, but I'm not sure if Poehler's fit for the role. She's more of a crazy, wacky character comedian rather than a deadpan reader. We'll see - it's not like there was anyone better to take the seat vacated by the great, great Jimmy Fallon.

- This link is so so ridiculously addictive. I can't stop watching. Please help me: Badger Badger Badger

- Me likey links about my neighborhood:
LES's Other New Hotel (Curbed)
Orchard St Undies / secret LES grocery store (Cityrag)

- "Hang Time" fans rejoice, charges against Anthony Anderson dismissed (Yahoo)

- 60 GB Color Screen Photo iPod (MacRumors)
60GB? EH. Color screen? Hmmm. Photo iPod? Yes please.

- In the interest of fairness, I will acknowledge that Michael Moore did give away undies and ramen noodles for vote pledges. I hope you're happy now. Reeps suppressing voter registrations, airing partisan film on public airwaves sans commercials vs Dems giving away gag gifts. Hmmm. (Yahoo News)

- Finally, Bush loves Saddam and Kerry: Bushism of the Day (Slate)

Yahoo! News - Dems Oppose Plan to Air Anti-Kerry Film

Yahoo! News - Dems Oppose Plan to Air Anti-Kerry Film

So how does airing this blatantly partisan piece (visit this link for more about the film's FCC implications and the "journalist" who produced the film) not violate the equal time rule?
"Would [Democrats] suggest that our reporting a car bomb in Iraq is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign? Would they suggest that our reporting on job losses is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign?" he said. "It's the news. It is what it is. We're reporting the news."

Oh. Right.

Too see if your local affiliate may be showing this piece, visit the Sinclair Broadcasting home page, and politely inform them that they should worry about their FCC license.

Gothamist: Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking Author

Gothamist: Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking Author

I'm still pissed out myself for missing Augusten Burroughs' book signing/free cocktail last week at the SoHo Bloomingdale. His memoirs, Running With Scissors and Dry are ridiculously dark and funny.
For those aspiring writers lacking in magical thinking, do you have any advice on how to be a writer? Do you think that's something that can be taught or learned, or are you just born with it?

You do not have to be "born" with "it." You do need to have a passion. You need to want to be a writer and it's best if you really enjoy writing. But you can hate writing or dislike writing and still be a writer. But it's best if you enjoy it. And you should read, like I said before, as many good books as you can. Don't read junky books, trash. Limit yourself to one "beach read" per season, I think. And then read really good works by smart, literate authors. On all topics. Stretch yourself. And believe me, this is advice I take myself. I didn't even read a book until I was 24, so think of that and get inspired. The other thing, write every day. Even if you only write for ten minutes. You do that every day and in a year, you'll have quite the Word Collection. And some of those words are bound to be in an order you like. In other words, you'll have some good stuff.

But the number-one most important thing, and the reason you want to write every day, is because you must be honest. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, demand of yourself ruthless honesty. This means, accurate descriptions of feelings and thoughts and the environment. True, true, true, this is what you want to achieve. Something that rings, as I say, the bell of truth. Know, too, that writing isn't something you need to study in college or graduate school or anywhere. Think of Elizabeth Berg. She's a perfect example. Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors and did she go to Iowa and get a fancy degree? No, she did not. She was an R.N. And she wasn't seventeen when she published her first novel, either. My last piece of advice is to never, never give up. No matter how poor the odds may appear. If it's something you really want, then you must never, ever let go of the vision, the dream. And this, really, IS Magical Thinking.

See, I need to follow this advice.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Drink motherfucker, drink - the 2004 Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Print this post, photocopy and distribute. Buy alcohol. Tune into the debate.

Take a drink for any occurence of the following:

  • Either candidate
    Plugs his website
    Misspeaks (note: faulty facts does not apply)
    Mentions his family
    Mentions opponent's family
    Asserts opponent is against No Child Left Behind
    Responds, but does not answer question
    Goes back to a previous question
    Physically gestures toward opponent
    Confuses Saddam with Osama
    "I feel your pain" or variation
    Employs anecdote
    "Do you want a President who..."

  • Bush:
    Cites recent job growth
    "We're making progress"
    Pauses for two Mississippis or more
    Asserts Kerry voted for tax increase 98 times
    Bush blames cost of health care on frivolous law suits
    "hard work"
    "mixed messages"
    "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time"
    Asserts new Medicare prescription plan makes drugs more affordable
    Describes Allawi or Karzai as "brave" and/or "courageous"
    Dismisses Kerry's plan saying it "won't work" without providing further detail
    Mentions Chalabi by mistake
    Clarifies that he does not question Kerry's patriotism
    Contradicts commission findings on Iraq's WMD/terrorism ties

  • Kerry:
    I have always said"
    "One position"
    "I have a plan"
    "Hope is on the way"
    "More in July than in June, more in August than in July, more in September than in August" or variation
    "Tora Bora"
    "$200 billion"
    "Sworn enemies"
    Asserts new Medicare prescription plan makes drugs less affordable
    "the American people deserve better"
    "Afghan warlords"
    "first president to lose jobs in 70 years/Herbert Hooever"
    Compares Hallburton to Enron
    Mentions his Vietnam service unsolicited

  • Questioner from the audience:
    Plaid shirt
    Non-issue question
    Gushes while addressing candidate
    Interrupted by moderator

Thanks to the good people of BigSoccer for your help.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Undercard - thoughts on the Vice Presidential Debate

You know, the idea of calling winners and losers in debate is a bit silly, especially when you're as partial as I am. That said, Cheney looked far better. No, not to the extent Kerry pummeled Bush, but Cheney came out the winner of the debate.

I should be clear, Edwards came swinging and landed some punches. We were treated to the unintentional comedy of Cheney accusing JE of using off-shore subsidiaries to evade taxes. He went after Cheney's congressional records and Halliburton's association with Lybia and Iran. He pointed out some, if not the most damning, of Bush/Cheney inconsistencies and mistakes. And like Bush on Thursday night, Cheney found himself speechless at times and refused to rebut on several points Edwards made.

But the debate had a nasty streak that favors Cheney, and for that more than anything else, Cheney won the night. Cheney came in needing to rally the GOP base to counter the collective depression the Bush supporters felt following last Thursday night's debate.

It didn't matter that Bush/Cheney pulled funding from No Child Left Behind or that Cheney was splitting hairs when he questioned Edwards' "90% of casualties number." It doesn't even matter that the voting public will (hopefully) call him on the distortions. He took the debate to a dark place where Edwards wasn't completely comfortable.

I imagine the Republican base feels re-energized as I did following Thursday night's debate, and that's exactly what they needed.

On the other hand, Edwards made some key points that Kerry can build on in later debates. Edwards got some neat soundbites in - now, this is an area where Edwards is much better at than Kerry. He is much more adept at boiling concepts into short, simple terms. I suppose that reflects each man's background, Kerry the Senate veteran and Edwards the trial lawyer. Just to name one:
"[Bush] ran in 2000 as a uniter & not a divider. have you ever seen Congress or America more divided?"

It should be noted that, at least to me, Cheney was debating Edwards, while Edwards spoke to the audience. So Cheney won the debate, but Edwards didn't lose because he wasn't playing to win.

    A few things:
  • Cheney urged the audience to log on to at the start of the debate. Now, click on that lick. Hilarious. Of course, the site he wanted you to go to was

  • NBC's Truth Squad went all The Daily Show on us and headed their segment with Cheney's denial that he ever connected Saddam with 9/11, followed by his appearance on Meet The Press where he explicitly named Iraq as the origin of the 9/11 terrorists. Smirk.

  • No mention of "hard work" or "mixed messages".

  • God, I love the Cheney Scowl. I hate the man, but boy is he scary when he breaks out the sneer!

  • When the hell is Kerry going to nail that $87 billion softball that Bush/Cheney keeps lobbing up. Hopefully sometime soon.

  • Is there anything the Bush Administration isn't "making progress" on?

  • Did Cheney make a new euphemism for white people - "the majority population"?

  • JE, is it that hard to avoid mentioning Kerry's name? You are two distinct individuals! You have distinct personalities! You are not one person!

  • "A long resume does not equal good judgement." That could be thrown at both Cheney and Kerry, can't it?

  • Do Democrats have a grooming school for future presidential candidates where they teach hand gestures? Edwards was seriously channeling Clinton with the hand motions and the thumbs. Will Barack Obama be employing hand gestures 4-8 years from now?

  • On the other hand, Cheney could use a few lessons in body language. He covered the mic for extended periods while speaking, and fidgeting. I mentioned in my Thursday night post that Bush had some horrible body language. Do they not practice?

  • After watching Cheney at workm is anyone surprised that his daughter isn't too fond of dudes?

Okay, that's it for tonight. I may have more tomorrow. Bye bye.

EDIT - 10/6/04 1:40 AM
So I thought Edwards wouldn't sway any independents, but I may be wrong. According to a CBS poll of undecided voters, 41% thought Edwards did better, compared to just 28% for Cheney. I'm mildly surprised. Then again, I believe that Cheney's goal was to reinvogorate the base and stop the bleeding, not necessarily to win undecided voters. For him, it was more important to appeal to the right, while Edwards spoke to the undecideds.

EDIT - 10/6/04 2:04 AM
Couple of links from Slate, Fred Kaplan who chides Golden Boy for not calling out Cheney's distortions and Mickey Kaus who similarly points out mistakes and missed opportunities, but for both sides.

Okay, it's getting late. Good night for real.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I ♥ I ♥ Huckabees, The New Yorker Festival, pickles

- Caught I ♥ Huckabees tonight. Incredibly funny stuff. Fantastic acting from Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, etc. Just hilarious.

- My inner snob was waiting for this: The New Yorker Festival, Fashion Week for unattractive people who read. I went to see Nicole Krauss and Salman Rushdie read from their yet unpublished novels. I actually haven't read anything by Rushdie, but I will now.

- On our way back from the reading, we were detoured, as Orchard St between Grand and Broome, a couple of blocks up from my place, was blocked off for filming of a Law & Order: SVU episode. Oh, the perils of living in New York.

- But it's also nice to run into an unexpected street fair, such as this morning, as the aformentioned Orchard St block was occupied by the 4th Annual International Pickle Day.

- Nice little piece from The New York Times on surprising relative ease of cycling in NYC: Spin City

- Also from NYT, on one of my most frequently visited spots in NYC, Union Square: The Site of Many a Protest Incites One Itself

- Finally from NYT, Sentencing Tops Justices' Agenda as Term Begins.

- You remember how I previously wrote:
Bush on the other hand came off uninterested, almost annoyed to be there...

And what about the podium? That huge box only emphasized the size difference between the two candidates. The worst was the split-screen shot, which showed the top of Bush's podium several inches past Kerry's. It didn't help that Kerry stood straight while Bush was hunched over at certain points.
Well, The Village Voice gets into it more: See Bush Twitch

- Colorado University removes Rick Reilly from its list of notable alumni for having the decency and the nutsack to criticize its recruiting practice. (

- All hail Ichiro (

Friday, October 01, 2004

10/1/04 - Links bitches, links - Happy October, bitches!

Let's get the weekend started already.

- Chelsea vs Liverpool (BBC)
Liverpool hasn't won at Stamford Bridge since... forever. I think LFC has been winless at Chelsea since the final match of the Double season in 1986. In any case, we need to come out with a few points, and our away form has been shaky. Huge match.

- Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers(ESPN)
A huge game for the Panthers as well, vs the division rivals Falcons and Michael Vick. Woo.

- Shaq to Kobe: "I'm not the one buying love." (ESPN)

- The Daily Show is good for your brain (The Daily Show Blog)

- NY Wiki
The NYC edition of Wikipedia. I might be visiting this site quite often.

- Daydreaming About Dean (Slate)
I know I know, I could've been a little more timely, given Kerry's performance in the debate. But I still do pine for Dean.

- Dan Rather Death Watch 2004: Now Serving Grilled Anchors & Execs (Gawker)
Off with their heads! Yay!

- Stem Cell Debate Hits Senate (Wired)
I really hope Kerry goes after Bush on this issue. The stem cell research ban has to be the most ass backwards non-Iraq related policy in quite some time.

- George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy (The Village Voice)
Of course not. He's a Yale-educated son of a New England aristocrat.

Finally, am I the only person who finds it weird to see The Blue Man Group (whose live show is excellent, btw) on a commercial for Intel. Probably. But it is odd when you consider that the group depends on Apple Power Macs to power its shows. Moby, who creates his music on an Apple Powerbook, has done a commercial for Intel as well. Can't they find musicians that use Intel-based products? Am I a total fucking nerd?

oops - The OC, Arrested Development and Greg the Bunny

I meant to mention this in the Weekend Catchup entry, but I couldn't find a way to segue it in.

Well, here goes. It's not enough that Rupert Murdoch is spreading his message of hate and corporate tyranny through his various media outlets. He is now trying to bankrupt me with a trifecta of DVD releases of Fox TV shows before Christmas.I don't watch that much TV, but I'm a sucker for fun, smart, well written shows (Scrubs for one), and the above three shows are (or was, in the case of Greg The Bunny) must-see.

The OC boxed set looks especially tasty, with 7 discs, including one on the music of The OC. And yeah, the music. I hardly listen to radio any more, because as I told someone this weekend, my taste in music is simply better than the rest of the world's, or at least the hacks at ClearChannel or Infinity. But music in car commercials and The OC, I pay attention, because they always manage to uncover unknown or up and coming artists making great, but unpretentious, music.

So if you celebrate Christmas and you want to be my Santa Claus, the above 3 DVD titles are placed squarely on my wish list (also, Zach Braff has confirmed that a Scrubs DVD is inevitable and they're trying to get one out before the end of the year, though not before Touchstone and NBC finish haggling).

Thoughts on the Bush-Kerry Debate Round 1

In the past few weeks, I've been really unhappy with the performance of the John Kerry campaign. They are the 2004 version of Marcia Clark/Chris Darden. He came into a can't-lose situation and actually lost points. The DNC should've been a knockout punch. Instead, he wasted the time talking about his war record, and failed to either present a clear, coherent platform or shed the flip flopper label.

This morning, I feel much better. I may not be the most impartial observer, but is there any doubt that Kerry came out on top?

He conquered a major weakness, the tendency to be longwinded (though I suppose the 120/90 second time limit left him no choice). He didn't completely squash the flip-flop label, but he did address it, and I sense that he's waiting for Round 2 to really tackle it. Foreign policy is Bush's forte, and Kerry needed to get in a few solid punches - and he did.
Kerry's biggest victory was making it clear that he had a plan for victory/peace that was different from Bush's, and he managed to derive his plan from what he pointed out as Bush's failures in the buildup to the war in Iraq.

Bush on the other hand came off uninterested, almost annoyed to be there. He failed to address Kerry's most notable indictment, not putting enough resources to find Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora. How did he not have a resonse for that? He had to know it was coming. He refused to acknowledge that not only is Iraq a mess, but it's getting worse by the week (or so the numbers suggest). His repeated defense that "it's hard work" came off hollow, especially considering his failure to outline any plan beyond staying the course. Kerry came out prepared, he was aggressive, and put on a professional presentation. Save for a few clever comments, Bush looked ill-prepared and was on the defense for the most part - ironic that his main point was that the best defense is a good offense.

And what about the podium? That huge box only emphasized the size difference between the two candidates. The worst was the split-screen shot, which showed the top of Bush's podium several inches past Kerry's. It didn't help that Kerry stood straight while Bush was hunched over at certain points. Didn't they go through intense negotiations for this kind of stuff?

No knockout punch from either side, but Kerry landed a few big ones. And the USA Today poll immediately following the debate shows viewers got the same impression.

  • 53% of respondents thought Kerry did a better job, compared to 37% for Bush.

  • 46% had a more favorable opinion of Kerry after the debate, compared to 21% for Bush. 62% answered that their opinion of Bush has not changed much, compared to 41% for Kerry.

  • After the debate 43% thought Kerry would better handle the situation in Iraq. Bush's numbers remain unchanged at 54%

  • The biggest surprise though, is that 60% thought Kerry expressed himself more clearly, compared to 32% for Bush.

All in all, Kerry has to consider this a win, especially the last item above. Kerry's weakness was being able to speak to the voters, and he overcame it. Bush's numbers remained stable, but the candidates are fighting over undecided voters. Kerry won't be able to take votes from voters who already support Bush, and vice versa.

No, I'm still not completely thrilled with Kerry (I think Dean would have made a better opponent, and I'm not the only one). I still think he's part f what's wrong with the Democratic Party (I should, and I will write an entry about to my politics and social philosophies before long). But he came to Coral Gables needing to convince undecided voters that he had a plan and that he could speak to the constituents - he did exactly that. One down, two to go.