Saturday, December 30, 2006

YouTube War: Surge Edition

Oh, Thers, you poor benighted dope, you have no idea.

And now, a can of whoopass.

Note: I have a weird weakness for this film, but it's not my fault. I was its demographic. And I was 12 in 1978.

Note 2: doesn't Mr. Mustard's driver slightly resemble The Kenosha Kid?

SO This Is Why.....

Sophie loves Josh:
"Bush administration officials" are telling CNN that Saddam Hussein will be hanged this weekend. Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam's treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation have been. Bush administration officials are the ones who leak the news about the time of the execution. One key reason we know Saddam's about to be executed is that he's about to be transferred from US to Iraqi custody, which tells you a lot. And, of course, the verdict in his trial gets timed to coincide with the US elections.

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Nicely put. The bloodthirstiness, as though this actually means something, is horrifying to behold.


YouTube Wars

So I hear over at Atrios that the YouTube Wars are back on. Take that, loosers!

Take THAT!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Celebrity Death Match 2007

The Kenosha Kid has tagged me with a meme of his own devising: more fun than a lot of them.

2007 Celebrity Dead Pool
The recent deaths of Gerald Ford and James Brown inspire this post: A Celebrity Dead Pool for 2007. Since it's my game, here are the rules:

1. Pick ten celebrities who you think will die in from 1/1/07 to 1/1/08
2. You aren't allowed to murder the celebrity.
2. Saddam Hussein doesn't count.
3. The point system works like this: you get one point for every year UNDER the age of 90 that the celebrity dies at. Anyone over 90 gets negative points.
4. Whoever gets the most points, wins.
5. I am tagging Dependable Renegade, Power Pop, Multi Medium, Whiskey Fire, Dohiyi Mir. Everyone else is welcome to play too. Post your picks on your blog or in comments here, and I will announce the winner in 2008.

His selections are:

My picks:
1. Lindsay Lohan
2. Andy Rooney
3. Gary Busey
4. Mickey Rourke
5. Bobby Brown
6. Robert Downey Jr.
7. Natasha Lyonne
8. Nancy Reagan
9. Michelle Rodriguez
10. Fifty Cent

Now, he's invented this game, and he does not say that we aren't allowed to duplicate, but I'll add that as a friendly amendment. I happen to agree with him re: Nancy Reagan, Natasha Lyonne, and Gary Busey, however. (Old age, drugs, motorcycle accident, though that hardly need be said.) I'm not very good at this sort of thing, since I only get celebrity gossip once it filters through to The Soup, but here goes...

My choices:
1. Jimmy Osmond
2. Andy Griffith (Matlock has to go sometime)
3. Henry Kissinger (probably just wishful thinking, though)
4. Neil Young
5. Colin Farrell (hooker)
6. Whitney Houston
7. David Crosby
8. James Baker (small plane crash)
9. Heather Mills
10. Angela Lansbury

This is about the hat, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One More Christmas Post

...and I promise I'll stop. No idea why I've been so into it this year: I'm generally not, really. But this year I wanted to bake and decorate and wrap presents and crap. Weird.

Anyway, with 2007 looming, we have some work to do, people. I'm going to be out of town for a few days, but here's some stuff to keep you going.

(Happy Xmas Kyoko
Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Xmas


Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Babyblogging: Yuletide Edition

Note to self: It is impossible to get four children nicely dressed and take a decent picture of them.

Rat bastards.

A brief quiet moment of cuddling. Of course, not shod, and not everyone is here.

And people ask me: "Why is your tree only decorated on top?"

The best of a bad lot.

Rosie makes a bid for freedom... she can handle some personal, err, grooming.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


You know, blogger, it's not really fair to lock up the Crack Den without giving us a chance to prepare. I will need:

One room, which you will not leave. Three buckets, one for feces, one for urine, one for vomitus. A television. Six cans of mushroom soup, ten cans of tomato soup. Ice cream, to be drunk cold. Tranqilizers. Pornography.

I'm gonna end up digging in a toilet for a link to First Draft at this point.

Sweet! I found my morphine!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Babyblogging: Random Recreation

Rosie plays in what is supposed to be a drop of blood. Those are, err, blood cells.

SP demonstrates his mad pulling-up skillz.

Triceratops skull!
(It's resin, but so cool.)

They have a wicked cool model train at this place, partly fixed, partly moveable.

I'm going to dress the whole tribe and take a fab Christmas picture, so check back!

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Speaking of Southeast Asia, I got a note from Aidil Rusli of the superfab Malaysian powerpop band Couple.

I've got some really great news and I really need your help now!! Couple has been chosen to be in the final round of Rolling Stone (USA) magazine's Best Bands on Myspace contest.

Right now the Rolling Stone magazine staff has chosen us to be one of the top 5 bands of the day.

What we need you to do is to ask all your friends to go to the link below and vote for Couple by leaving a comment saying how much they like the song "Now That I Can See" and Couple:

Hope you can spread this email/news around and get as many people as possible to vote for us!! It's Rolling Stone magazine!!

Thanks so much for helping!!


You vote by going to the bottom of the comment thread and adding your vote. Couple seems to be doing really well.

And, because I'm not a congressional whip, I'll tell you what I'm asking you to vote for:

I've posted it before, but it's always worth another watch/listen. Now head on over and show Aidil some love.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Those Lost at Sea and Never Found: A Review


All you need to know, really.

So I'm watching this HBO docudrama, Tsunami: The Aftermath. Now I know a bit about this subject. It's part of my broader interest in Southeast Asia, I've worked with relief organizations, and it really is just an interesting topic. I've watched a number of films about the disaster of 26 December 2004, and am currently trying to write a presentation to explain the tsunami to kids without scaring the shit out of them. That ought to be a challenge.

So I guess I'm coming at this from a bit of a different direction than your average viewer. But still...

I guess we all have our pet peeves: mine is what I call The Heart of Darkness Syndrome. There are two kinds of colonial texts: one focuses on the tragedies of colonialism on the native population via the experiences of the indigenous peoples themselves, the other focuses on a Westerner, changed by the colonial experience, just sort of watching the tragedy unfold in front of him.* In this latter form, indigenous peoples are set dressing, like the groaning forms in Conrad: they're there, but this is the story of two white guys, and don't you forget it.
"They were dying slowly--it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now-- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were then allowed to crawl away and rest. These moribund shapes were free as air--and nearly as thin. I began to distinguish the gleam of the eyes under the trees. Then, glancing down, I saw a face near my hand. The black bones reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree, and slowly the eyelids rose and the sunken eyes looked up at me, enormous and vacant, a kind of blind, white flicker in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly. The man seemed young-- almost a boy--but you know with them it's hard to tell. I found nothing else to do but to offer him one of my good Swede's ship's biscuits I had in my pocket. The fingers closed slowly on it and held--there was no other movement and no other glance. He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck--Why? Where did he get it? Was it a badge--an ornament--a charm-- a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all connected with it? It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the seas.

For comparison, consider the fully formed and complex figures of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

In Tsunami: The Aftermath, the quarter million or so dead and missing South and Southeast Asians are reduced to a waiter helping Europeans find each other, some mean cops, and a helpful photographer/cultural guide in the mode of The Year of Living Dangerously or The Killing Fields. I sort of knew I was in trouble when I saw that the film was set at a fictional resort in Thailand: Thailand got a lot more coverage than some places harder hit, because of the resorts and the large number of Westerners there. But its casualties were relatively modest, comparatively speaking. For every person dead or missing in Thailand, 30 were dead or missing in Indonesia. But, you know, they didn't snorkel or speak English, so who cares?

Wacky Buddhist, but teh hot.

There is one point, in episode two, where the Thai photographer rails at Tim Roth for sending a picture of a dead body to the wire services. "Even though you come here for holidays and you drop your tabs on the beach, and love the food, yeah? ... It'll slide us right back into the Third World, and that's fine for you. You're not Thai." But it's a brief reminder of whose tragedy this is in a sea of European faces, and even that is couched in what is--according to the structure of the film--some wacky Buddhist idea that burning bodies is okay. And it's the Western bodies which are in question anyway.

I mean shit, more orangutans died than Westerners. Feh.

This was a horrible, an almost unimaginable, humanitarian crisis. But it was not primarily a crisis of people on vacation.

If you have to buy a gift for the person who has everything, consider donating money to these people in their name: they do great work.

*Pretty much always "him," though you do have your Beyond Rangoons and such for balance.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

If I Had a Million Dollars

...and were a woman of leisure, there's all kind of stuff I could do that would be too fun for words.

For example, I could follow this band:

All Things Considered, December 13, 2006 · One of the most consistently popular bands in Nashville does not play country music, has no lead singer and doesn't plan to release an album. Instead, the Long Players perform classic albums, from beginning to end, before a live audience with all-star guest vocalists. Their shows have become a sensation in Music City.

The core of the band is Bill Lloyd (of the 1980s act Foster and Lloyd), Gary Tallent (who has played with Bruce Springsteen), and John Deaderick (Dixie Chicks, James Taylor).

And for singers, they band has used many, from Allison Moorer when they did Neil Young's After the Gold Rush to Kim Richey and others for Sergeant Pepper's.

Adrian Belew was part of the Blonde on Blonde show -- with special guests Al Kooper and Charlie McCoy, who backed Bob Dylan on the original.

The Long Players also have performed The Pretenders' self-titled album; The Band's second album; and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True.

Listen to the whole thing: I was sort of dazed driving home after a root canal and a faculty meeting (toss-up as to which was more painful) and I heard the words "power pop" on NPR. "National Public Fucking Radio is talking about power pop?!?" I said out loud, speaking only to the fast food bags and unpaid parking tickets on the floor of my car.

Steve Allen plays guitar, and the lead singers are an impressive list of who's who in both country and pop music. Lloyd (always terrific) has a list on his website of every gig they've played so far, who sang what, and where they donated the proceeds. Mark Volman, Doug Powell, Brad Jones, Robert Reynolds, Marshall Crenshaw, Walter Egan, Steve Forbert..... holy christ on a cracker, it's an astounding list.

I would soooooooo sit in the front row for every gig for this band. Jeffraham Prestonian would let me sleep on his couch, wouldn't you, Jeff? Shit, it's only 14 hours. Each way.

UPDATE: Inspired, I treated myself to Lloyd's terrific "Set to Pop" album on my way to work today. What a gem. My fave is "Trampoline," hands down the best song ever written about manic depression.

God Bless our daily bread,
Coffee and dramamine.
God bless our ups and downs.
Goddamn the trampoline.

Rings true. Great mouth harp, too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Book Meme

I found this over at watertiger's new digs, and though she didn't exactly tag me, I'm kind of book-y, so I'll do this:
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people.

Okay, so here goes:
"Yes, I, my master, Honored Lord Bupati," said my mouth, and like a machine my hands were raised in obeisance for the umpteenth time and my heart cursed for I don't know how many times now.
"You! Why have you come only now?" his voice emerged more clearly from his throat, which was suffering the end of a bout of influenza.

The book is the classic This Earth of Mankind by the late Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, whose life story is fascinating: raised in Java, worked for, then against, the Japanese in WWII, then joined the resistance against the Dutch, then became a leading light in the new nation of Indonesia. Slapped in jail by Suharto, narrated his four volume epic to his fellow prisoners before being granted writing materials. Finally released to house arrest, then altogether. Died this spring.

I won't tag anyone either, but I'm curious to know what you're reading.

Monday, December 11, 2006



And I have to spend money on presents for other people. Bah humbug.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dixie Chix: Back On Top

Digby notes that the Dixie Chicks have been nominated for five Grammys.

The Dixie Chicks took the slings and arrows that were meant for all of us who were speaking out against Bush in that dark time four years ago when he was considered by many people in this country to be more of a religious figure than a politician. It was an ugly period and the Chicks were a profile in courage for refusing to back down. In fact they got their backs up when people started writing them death threats for daring to speak their minds and stood even taller. That's patriotism.

Good for the grammys for embracing them. And as a resident of Los Angeles, I couldn't be more proud to call them an LA band.

Fuck off, wingnuts.

A PowerPop Book Review

I recently received Jeff Murphy's new book Birth of a Band, the Record Deal, and the Making of "Present Tense." Now, regular readers know that I am obsessed with this band, though not in an unhealthy, costume-wearing sort of way. And so, with one thing and another, I've done a fair amount of reading over the years about the Present Tense sessions and what happened there. I've also got a spotty email acquaintanceship with Murphy himself, so I've seen some of these stories before.

But it's nice to have them collected between two covers.

Shoes are that most unusual of bands, a group of friends who just decided to play together. Beloved by critics and music afficianados, they were perhaps the worst-marketed band on the planet. For example: when Present Tense was released in 1979, Elektra released FOUR--count them, four--singles in six weeks. Three of them had the same B-side. I would love to know what marketing genius came up with that plan.

Similarly, as Murphy notes here, the same four tunes were made into not-very-good videos in 1979. When MTV premiered, they were nonetheless placed in heavy rotation, because there was fuck-all else to play. But this created a slight resurgence which Shoes, who were just finishing their second album, Tongue Twister, could have capitalized on easily with new, better videos. In other words, the world was reminded just how good PT had been in the days before TT came out. But Elektra assured them that MTV was "a flash in the pan," and was not forthcoming with any more money for videos, which were becoming increasingly sophisticated and expensive.

It's a goddamn crime.

In any case, if you're a Shoes fan, you'll like this book. There's some nice rare photos and great stories (including the full story about how Richard Branson tried to kill Skip Meyer), and for the real wonky musician types, some discussion about guitars and effects and techniques. (My favorite was the amp-in-the-loo, but your mileage may vary.) It appears to be a complete DIY operation: in my humble opinion, Murphy could have used a good proofreader, but then I tend to obsess about that sort of thing. I'd also like to see some reflections from John and Gary about the issues Jeff outlines here, but hey, a girl can't have everything.

Order Birth of a Band, the Record Deal, and the Making of "Present Tense." here.

Powerpopulist has more.

Sorry, Folks

Many apologies for the exended silence: it's been A Week. I have a number of posts brewing, including a book review of Jeff Murphy's new book and another Albums You Need posting, but it won't be until at least later today.

If anyone wants to help me do my grading, feel free. I've also just finished a wicked cool powerpoint on orangutans, which I'm delivering at a science museum this weekend.

Soon, I swear.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Humble Request

It's something of a joke in the blogosphere that Thers and I have a huge brood of children, the numbers of which vary from the hundreds to the thousands. (It's actually 4: The Teen, The 7YO, Rosie, and SP.) I cheerfully accept my ethnic responsibilities: four is a large family now, even if it isn't the seven I was raised with, nor the seventeen of my oldest friend's father's family. (One room, back in Ireland, no twins.) So at 4, we're relative pikers.

One reason families are smaller now is that it costs so much more to raise them, and like most Americans, we stumble from paycheck to paycheck. (The glamorous life of an adjunct instructor isn't really what you'd think, unfortunately.)

Thus, I announce the Liberal Mountain Christmas Fund. I know that by far my most popular feature is Babyblogging, so if you'd like to see SP in some snazzy new duds or Rosie with a real babydoll, it would help to throw a few bucks our way. (See Paypal button to the right.)

Many thanks to all our friends in the blogosphere, and peace and humptiness forever!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Donita & Jane: Part 2

Another fabulous podcast from Donita and Jane. Hear Jane talk about dogs, Paris Hilton, and her boyfriend, Sid Brown.

(IIRC, Jane was also dating Terry when they cowrote "Our Lips Are Sealed.")

(Dave, curious about what you think about Paris's people turning down Jane's "bubblegum punk" compositions for Paris.)

Friday Babyblogging: Vacation

We were away last week visiting the fab metropolis from whence my handle comes, and the grandparents and many many many cousins who reside there. Some photos:

Just before we left, the 7YO appeared in a play about the water cycle.

He is "Snow." (Not Tony Snow, we fervently hope and pray.)

He makes faces at his mother.

And menaces his brother with an evil candy machine ninja.

(SP is now both crawling and cruising along the furniture: I think he's going to walk early.)

With cousin Taylor, who, though a scant week older than SP, is closer to Rosie in size. I like the stair-step effect here.

(I found out that Taylor's nanny makes more than I do, which depressed the hell out of me for a couple of days.)


Thursday, November 30, 2006


Hey, SteveAudio got to see the Barenaked Ladies! No fair!

Look, every band and musician has their own Kool-Aid drinkers, the rabid devotees who jumped on the bandwagon early, likely for good reason: the music spoke to them.

For these guys, I have to confess I thought of them mostly as a novelty band, and certainly they have a wicked sense of humor which they're not afraid to display. But there's more, so much more to these guys than "One Week" and some of the other funny tunes. The word that keeps coming into my mind is "competence".

Pam suggested that that was 'damning with faint praise'. But it's really not. It means they are good at every aspect of what they do. These guys have listened to a lot of music, from '50s through now, and have remembered everything they ever heard. They write hard rocking pieces that might have been written by AC/DC, followed by power ballads that Journey would have written and recorded if they were, you know, actually good.

And the thing is, they do it without irony or ego, just with talent. There's no pompousness or posing, except in fun. Thus, they skewer many of the bands they quote, by doing similar music stylings, but in an earnest manner.

He posts some good videos, too.

I became aware of The Barenaked Ladies accidentally, myself. They did a Saturday morning musical interlude in, oh, 1993 or so, in which Ed Robertson was dressed as some sort of shiny alien, singing about how it's okay to be different. I had a toddler; it wormed its way into my consciousness. Thers brought actual albums into the house, and we've been fans ever since. "If I Had a Million Dollars" is a fave of the 7YO, who likes to focus on the monkey content. But I've never seen them live.

But they ask that we post a user-submitted video, and you know I'm all about that crap.

And one for Rosie & the 7YO, that their Aunt Jenny found:


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TMBG Makes Christmas Shopping Easy!

In my inbox:
"Hi everybody! Operator Dot here, writing you from safe inside the TMBG secured e-commerce site. I'd like to pull you away from your turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches long enough to tell you about the new TMBG Holiday Bundles available right now at

Check out the savings-packed bundles - there's sure to be one perfect gift for someone (or two or three someones) on your holiday gift list. We can deliver for Christmas via FedEx til Dec. 20th, but we'd suggest getting your orders in now for delivery via UPS because you save a lot in shipping. Discover the holiday magic at our super-easy website- the first 500 Holiday Bundle orders get a special surprise from the TMBG warehouse!

All year long TMBG has been ponying up the bandwidth for their podcast and while we know it's not exactly public radio, that stuff ain't free. If you dig it, I encourage you to show it by purchasing the official podcast benefit shirt.

We also are pretty gosh dang sure that, with DVDs, CDs and a bedtime book (along with pencils and refrigerator magnets), They Might Be Giants has the perfect gift for the kid crawling around your world. Go to the kids' stuff page at or check out the kid bundle below!

Love, Operator Dot"

New Stuff Bundle

Choice of Anteater shirt or girly No shirt + IO hat: $35. You save $10!
Add Venue Songs DVD and CD 2-disc set for $15 more!

Good Cheer Bundle
Venue Songs DVD and CD 2-disc set, Holidayland CD, Snowman sweatshirt, choice of t-shirt: $65. You save $20!

MySpace Bundle
Venue Songs DVD and CD 2-disc set, Holidayland CD, choice of Spine or User's Guide cd, Snowman sweatshirt, choice of t-shirt, choice of Gigantic or Direct From Brooklyn DVD: $100. You save $29!

Elf Bundle
ABC DVD, Bed book, choice of No! or ABC cd, choice of kid t-shirt: $50. You save $10!

Baby Elf Bundle
ABC DVD, Bed book, choice of No! or ABC cd, choice of No romper or Puppet onesie:$50. You save $10!

Hey, it's better than shopping.

She's Baaaaaaack!

Altmouse is one of the greatest parody sites on the internet, taking functionally retarded law professor Ann Althouse to the cleaners. Partly, it works because it's so close to what she actually says.

I am above all intrablogicological blogging blogger blogblogwars, as my loyal commenters know. It is only the partisanship of others that causes me to constantly be involved in blog-fights. After all, if everyone would simply agree with me, as they should because my opinions are nonpartisan, then they would have no cause to disagree with what I say. Why is this so hard for them to understand?

Besides, I hate the tawdry, childish namecalling that can so often characterize the blogosphere, the kind of silly namecalling that poisonous little putrid partisan toads like Glenn Greenwald delight in. He writes so badly! His sentences can be very long and are full of many different words. How duh of him!

A helpful note to Professor Althouse: Don't take on Glenn Greenwald. You will live to regret it. Glenn is smart and hardly ever blogs about American Idol or America's Top Model or his own nose hair. (That's one way you can tell.)*

TRex gives another rundown here.

And I quite like the term "Christianist," myself. It works, and that's all a coinage needs to do. Thanks, Sully.

* I blog about completely shallow things, but I make no claims to do anything else, nor do I appear on CNN or Fox as some sort of expert.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Donita and Jane

(I'll be catching up over the next few days, both here and at work: posting will be erratic, but is likely to be heavy at times.)

It's a bit weird when one's childhood idols show up, just a few steps removed from oneself, when you realize that you don't need anything like seven degrees to get to them. That's how I felt listening to Donita Sparks' podcast this week. I loved Jane Weidlin. Loved, loved, LOVED Jane. I am small and dark haired and was, in my day, sort of hoppy and perky: Jane was a model for me (as was Clare Grogan, both in Altered Images and in Gregory's Girl).There are pics of me on this very blog with my Weidlin-inspired gamine haircut in the early 80's (but no, I will not post those of my poodle perm, which is also her fault), and a story of one of my very first concerts, to see the Go-gos, is here.

Last Friday, Donita put up a podcast of a fun conversation with Jane:
Jane didn't really want to have an "interview" so she came over to my place for a couple of beers, and I got some questions in anyway. In fact we blabbed so much that I'm making this Podcast "conversation" a two part-er. This episode includes topics such as punk rock backlash, fat pets, political candidates, Nashville backlash, and masturbation slang.

We also devised a CONTEST exclusively for the Firedoglake community. You'll hear more about this in the Podcast but the Cliff Notes version for the technically challenged is this…

Contest Question: What is the common thread between Jane Wiedlin and Donita Sparks? (and it's not professional). The most accurate or most creative answer in the comments section will win. I will announce the winner in next week's podcast, Part 2 with Jane Wiedlin.

(Dave will be delighted to hear about The Po-gos project, assuming he hasn't already.)

I'm always a bit shy at FDL, though Jane Hamsher once told me I was funny. They seem so much more serious than we Atriots. Not Kos serious, just more serious than us. Maybe it's because they get on TV more often (don't get me wrong: I think that's a Very Good Thing: I like Christy's stuff particularly--damn, that woman is smart.

I missed this when it happened, being out of town, but I'll be sure to post next week's.

If my SEA lit folks actually make it here, they can entertain themselves with this.

And Atrios continues on his Kinks kick, which is good.

UPDATE: Kid C reminds me how much I love this song.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Light (well, lighter) posting for a couple of days while I travel.

But Hecate, my favoritist witch ever, has given me a present. Yay!

Besos, babies!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

OT: My Next Project

Doug, a commenter at Eschaton linked to this fantabulous site, which I find really fascinating, for some reason. Maybe I need to build one.

I found this musty handbook from 1962 in a pile of similarly musty magazines and articles in a booth at the Inman Park Arts Festival several years back. The illustrated cover was what initially caught my eye but then I glanced at the large bold lettering at the top and I immediately put it in my "to buy" pile. The cover is classic: your average white American family enjoying life as best as they can after an atomic attack. What I love the most about it is that Mom is in her day dress, apron and all, preparing dinner, and Dad is relaxing in his jacket, smoking a pipe, having just finished reading the liner notes to something by the Ray Coniff Singers, probably. I didn't even take a gander at what was inside until later at home. Most of what you'll find in the handbook is pretty standard construction "how-to's" -- it could've been sold at a Home Depot if they had them back then. In the table of contents you'll find chapter headings with titles like: "How You Can Survive a Nuclear War", "Build a Shelter Now", "Stock Up Now", "Have a Plan of Action Now", "While You Are in Shelter", "Evacuation", etc. This one was interesting: "Guerrilla Warfare", with the tagline, "It'll be done by the people who survive with equipment that survives." The chapter is filled with then-impressive photos of military weapons and vehicles: jets, tanks, missiles, and the like.

I especially liked this picture, which Ward calls "The Loneliest Man in the World," opining that, "Me thinks this was wishful thinking on his part for installing three beds, don't you agree?"

This is how I picture Thers's Uncle Dave, who was supposed to have gold hidden in his Flushing electronics shop, but really just had old canned food and broken electronics, stored against the day when Michael Richards' Favorite Minority were supposed to come marching up Northern Boulevard and target such shops for attack. He also had many, many publications from the John Birch Society, which probably won't surprise you at all.

I hope Spike sees this; it's just his sort of thing.

And a thematic video!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another New Blog!

Jeremy at Fingertips hipped me to this terrific site!

Power Pop Lovers

A sample:
The obscurity of Jane Aire & The Belvederes is a glaring exception to this rule, and fans of early new wave owe it to themselves to hunt down the band's sole LP. Jane Aire, like Chrissie Hynde, was a native of Akron, Ohio (an early punk/new wave breeding ground), who traveled to England to seek her musical fortune. Her sojourn resulted in a handful of singles but only one LP, her Liam Sternberg-produced eponymous 1979 debut (Virgin UK).

To modern ears, the album may sound too polished; in truth, it's closer to power pop than punk. But, the performances are spirited and the songs (many written by Sternberg) are memorable. Jane Aire's voice is a big, impressive instrument, and she uses it unabashedly, unaffectedly, and unpretentiously in a way few female singers do anymore. When she digs into rockers like "Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache" or ballads like "Duke Of Love," she very nearly jumps out of the speakers and into your lap.

Jane Aire & The Belvederes has never appeared on CD, but, one of Jane Aire's early, non-LP singles, "Yankee Wheels" (not a particularly outstanding song) appears on the Stiff Records Box Set. The Belvederes, by the way, were, in fact, the Edge - a group in their own right. Their lineup included future Culture Club drummer (and Boy George paramour) Jon Moss, and they released a couple of records under their own name.

The famous Kirsty MacColl (R.I.P.) and the not so famous Rachel Sweet are contributing with backing vocals here to a great effect.

You know I love this. Consider yourself blogrolled.

And this site blogrolls another: Power Pop Action! My Spanish only allows me to find bathrooms and libraries; yours may be better.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Risking death (seriously), we drove through a torrential downpour Thursday night to attend The Daily Show: Ten F%#$ing Years! We hooked up with watertiger and NTodd, the latter of whom was cranky about the fact that we were late because of afforementioned downpour. (watertiger will be here after Monday.)

It was something of an odd show, going back and forth between music and comedy, most of which was, well, not that funny. Only two comedians were explicitly political, John Hodgman, who made Renee Magritte jokes, and John Oliver, who's been my new fave correspondent for a while now. I love Sam Bee, but based on the beginning and the end of her routine, going to the can in the middle was a wise choice.

(And I will not name the Daily Show correspondent whose drug habits were being loudly discussed by a woman in the ladies room on a cell phone. But it was funny. "Did ***** give Brenda her pot back? She's at the bar!")

Musically, it was equally uneven. I sort of got to like the opening act: a metal band in powdered wigs called The Upper Crust, though Thers and I got into quite a little debate about whether they were Regency or Georgian. Our companions were quite amused by this, I gather.

I dunno, I think they need a schtick.

After a comedy interval, Clem Snide came on. I think he was sort of wrong for the venue, plus he kept talking about setting things on fire, which was disturbing. Another comedy interval was followed by The Mountain Goats, who were okay, but again, not quite right for the venue. Their set picked up a lot when Jon from Superchunk came out to drum for them. however.

And finally, ascending around midnight, was Superchunk. It's been a while since they played, but they were surprisingly tight. (Jim had a cranky guitar which would not stay in tune, so that slowed things down a bit.) But they were just wonderful, energetic and fun and rocking.

And Thers found this, which was transcendent. (It was the last song.)

More at the Village Voice:
All night, there was a sort of weird clash between people who were there to see the bands and the people there for Daily Show-related reasons. It meant that the conversational din in the venue was absurdly loud during both the bands and the between-set comedy bits from the show's cast members, which ranged from really funny to not really all that funny. Jon Stewart wasn't there; his involvement was limited to a video introducing headliners Superchunk. Instead, most of the show's current correspondents came out to do different bit. My favorite was probably former correspondent Ed Helms, who came out with two other guys and played a totally straight-faced old-timey bluegrass song before introducing the guy from the Jersey fake-metal band Satanicide, who came out to yowl a power-ballad bluegrass cover of "My Heart Will Go On," which sounded sort of amazing. People shut up for that part, at least.

That part was pretty cool, I have to admit.

Anyway, a fine evening, and the rain had ended by the time we headed out, so it was all good, eventually. NTodd even got some pics. **mwah!**

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Babyblogging: SCIENCE!

Due to flash-flooding in our area last night, the kids were off school today. We ended up at a local science museum, where much fun was had by all.

This was an all-recycled-object craft area. I have no idea what exactly he built, but it was complicated.

Rosie was quite enamored of both the spinning marble toys and the various water tables.

They even had a special area for nonwalking babies, and a bin for toys they stuck in their mouths. SP is perambulating pretty well now, if slowly and imprecisely.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This is So Cool

Jeez, my kid gets Broome Bituminous. That hardly seems fair.

Rockers to sponsor under-10 team

The team runs out to Motorhead's Ace of Spades

A Lincoln boys football team have won a sponsorship coup with a difference after striking a deal with heavy metal band Motorhead.

The Greenbank under-10s B team have the internationally renowned band's name on their shirts along with the band's motif - a skull named Snaggletooth.

The North Hykeham team also run out to the band's famous Ace of Spades track.

Team manager Gary Weight said the deal came about as he used to know lead singer Lemmy.

As a somewhat reluctant soccer mom, I'll admit it: I am sooooo jealous.

UPDATE: How did I miss this thing? (h/t Tom - 大肚腩)

Separated at Birth?

With apologies to SPY, which I read for its whole run, pretty much.

Dick Cheney and Tik Tok?

I blame Comandante Agi, a commenter of watertiger's, who noted: Is Cheney asleep again? Time to wind his pacemaker again...

One difference: Tik Tok has more hair. And more organic parts.

On The Biz

The NYTimes profiles an indie film called "Before the Music Dies."
Maybe you’ve seen the trailer. A guy in a cheap suit jacket, brandishing a big microphone, approaches some unsuspecting young women after a concert. He is making a documentary, allegedly. His manner is naïve, but the questions he asks are plainly insulting. Still, the women are kind enough to play along. He says something weird about bra-burning. They respond politely. Nice.

But this isn’t that fake documentary “Borat.” It’s a real documentary, or at any rate an earnest one: “Before the Music Dies.” The interviewer, eager to make a point about the idiocy of popular music, has found these enthusiastic young women outside an Ashlee Simpson concert. He asks them if they are familiar with Bob Dylan. (At least a few of them aren’t.) He explains Mr. Dylan’s appeal, or tries to: “He used to inspire people to, like, drive to Washington and burn their bras.” Apparently Ms. Simpson has no such incendiary effect. Case closed.

“Before the Music Dies” is the work of a couple of concerned music fans, Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen, who set out to document the decline of “raw, undeniable talent,” as Mr. Shapter puts it, “the kind that doesn’t seem to be around as much in these days of instant pop stars.” The satellite radio network XM is broadcasting the film as an audio documentary. (For more information, visit And the film is touring the country in do-it-yourself style; it is being shown in clubs, at colleges, and in private homes; tomorrow night a guy named Ryan in Minneapolis is inviting people over to watch it.

In the end, author Kalefa Sanneh doesn't really think the film succeeds, but as someone who ruminates amateurishly over the nature of the music business, it might be worth seeing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Babyblogging: Partay!

Thers has been working on a big project, which means that I've had lots of "quality time" with the offspring lately. A photo record (and working on youtubing Rosie's dancing, which is truly hysterical) follows.

Root beer! Man, she's getting grown-up looking.

I like seven, don't get me wrong. But I'll be happy when climbing the furniture isn't his first goal.

We're thinking of getting him a drool bucket, a la Miles Copperthwaite.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Videoblogging: Lullaby Edition

This is one of my kids' favorite lullabies. Seriously.

I didn't even know there was a video.

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

I'm astounded by the kindness and generosity of my friends. Courtesy of Eli, I received CDR of this impossible-to-get album:

As for the eponymous group itself, Bram Tchaikovsky was born Peter Bramall on November 10, 1950, in Lincolnshire, England. He started playing guitar in his teens and was already in a group by the mid-1960's. In the 1970's he formed the All-Time Heroes, with James Roper playing bass, Majo playing keyboards, and Keith Line playing drums. They recorded some demos and also landed themselves a spot supporting Man on tour, but by this time they had become Roper. They changed their name again, reverting to a shorter version of their first name, Heroes, and put out a cover version of Bruce Springsteen's "Growing Up".

Bram originally auditioned for the Motors in February, 1977, and although he failed the first audition he was soon taken on, thus ending the career of Heroes. In 1978, while Andy McMaster and Nick Garvey had the Motors idling while they wrote songs, Tchaikovsky formed Battleaxe with Micky Broadbent playing bass/guitar/keyboards and Keith Boyce (formerly of Heavy Metal) playing drums. They put out a Garvey-produced single, "Sarah Smiles", on the Criminal label before signing to Radar. "Sarah Smiles" would later appear on their first album.

Now known simply by the name of their leader (whose split from the Motors was permanent, but apparently amicable), Bram Tchaikovsky set about recording Strange Man Changed Man in November and December, 1978, and January, 1979, at the Pebble Beach and Basing St. Studios. Mike Oldfield joined them to play tubular bells on the track, "Girl Of My Dreams", which broke into the US Top 40. Co-producer Garvey provided some backing vocals and the bass on "Lady from the USA", while former Heroes sideman Roper took some of the photographs for the album cover. Peter Ker and the members of Bram Tchaikovsky co-produced the album with Garvey.

Wow. I am just speechless. Thanks, sweetheart.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rock the House: John Hall

It would be remiss of me not to note that the 110th Congress will have a number of interesting firsts: first female speaker, first Muslim member, and first 70's pop star.

John Hall wasn't supposed to win: he did it with very little support from the people who are supposed to support such things. (I'm talking to you, Rahm Emmanuel.) As the lead singer of Orleans, he made his mark in mid-70's soft rock. He's a longtime supporter of renewable energy, and was a primary mover in the group MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) in the late 70's. He's a guy with a sense of humor. He went on the Colbert Report as a candidate, once the Congressional Republicans stopped talking to SC. He's a smart local politician with good instincts. Maybe he got washed in by the Blue Tsunami, maybe people just liked the idea of a rock star congressman. In any case, he beat an incumbent in a race that wasn't even on the radar for a lot of people, and we here at PowerPop congratulate him.

And he still sings.

Now. How do we get Rick Nielsen to run?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Babyblogging: Testing, Testing, Testing


Our fabulous California relatives sent us their old digital camera. Apparently, these things are supposed to focus. Who knew? Anyway, just some preliminary tests.

For the Boy

...who's having a rough couple of days. His favorite.

Many thanks to Powerpopulist for finding this one.

(And look for Babyblogging later: we got a new camera, courtesy of Uncle Dennis!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Thanks!

To NTodd, who sent me a sweet gift for the big Four-Oh: two classics, and a book I've seen around but not had a chance to read yet.

I love this record. When I was about nine, I knew every word to every song, which is a little creepy, if you think about it, what with "Nowhere Man" and "Run for Your Life" on here. I think my older bros were just trying to screw me up. It might surprise people to hear this, but I really didn't have this on CD. NTodd notes on the gift slip that it's the best Beatles' album, in his opinion, "the first one to show Harrison to be the real star." I'd tweak that definition a little, but there's no question that this is the fulfillment of the Revolver promise. It is also my favorite Beatles record, for what it's worth.

This record hardly needs props from me. It's important because it fundamentally changed what rock was deemed able to achieve. It's not so much that any one song is perfect or profound (although a decent argument could be made for "A Day in the Life"), but that it's a tapestry of voices, of snapshots. Truly an astounding accomplishment. The most recent record I can think of which achieved anything remotely resembling it is probably Green Day's American Idiot.

I am really looking forward to reading this book.

Thanks, sweetcheeks! *mwah!*

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Videoblogging: Our House

Our mum, she's so houseproud.
Nothing ever slows her down and a mess is not allowed.

UPDATE: There is no song "Our Senate": I checked.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Just do it.

The Trolleyvoxx
, via Atrios

Just one of the ":Have You Had Enough" commercials, this one from Minnesota. That's the Maxwell-Mosher band there, former members of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. They hung out with a giddy-as-a-schoolgirl TRex the other night.

I haven't actually had the stomach to watch this video for two years and five days, exactly.And this morning I wanted to. Huh. Where did I leave my hoodie?

Scout reminds us of another reason today is important.

And a classic for the kidz. Let's show him some Tough Love: children need boundaries.

(Improbably, The Move's "Vote for Me" does not have a Youtube presence. But I looked!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Babyblogging: BEARS!

Someone call Stephen Colbert!






Powerpopulist contuinues to be delightful. CHeck out this recent post on The Cavedogs, and if you're giving my bud ekim a hard time, kindly permit me to kick your ass.

Happy Birthday!

To the late, great Gram Parsons! From allmusic:
Around the time the International Submarine Band dissolved, Parsons met Chris Hillman, the bassist for the Byrds. At that time, the Byrds were rebuilding their lineup and Hillman recommended to the band's leader, Roger McGuinn, that Parsons join the band. By the spring of 1968, Parsons had become a member of the Byrds and he was largely responsible for the group's shift towards country music with their album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Originally, the album was going to feature Parsons' lead vocals, but he was still contractually obligated to LHI, so his voice had to be stripped from the record.

Gram Parsons only spent a few months with the Byrds, leaving the band in the fall of 1968 because he refused to accompany them on a tour of South Africa, allegedly because he opposed apartheid. Chris Hillman left the band shortly after him and the duo formed the Flying Burrito Brothers in late 1968.
By the summer of 1972, he was prepared to enter the studio to record his first solo album. Parsons had assembled a band -- which included Harris, guitarist James Burton, bassist Rick Grech, Barry Tashian, Glen D. Hardin, and Ronnie Tutt -- and had asked Merle Haggard to produce the album. After meeting Parsons, Haggard turned the offer down, and Parsons chose Haggard's engineer, Hugh Davis, as the album's producer. The resulting album, G.P., was released late in 1972 to good reviews but poor sales.

Following the release of G.P., Parsons embarked on a small tour with his backing band, the Fallen Angels. After the tour was completed, they entered the studio to record his second album, Grievous Angel. The album was completed toward the end of the summer. A few weeks after the sessions, Parsons went on a vacation near the Joshua Tree National Monument in California. He spent most of his time there consuming drugs and alcohol. On September 19, 1973, he overdosed on morphine and tequila, and was rushed to the Yucca Valley Hospital; he was pronounced dead on arrival. According to the funeral plans, his body was to be flown back to New Orleans for a burial. However, Parsons' road manager stole the body after the funeral and carried it back out to the Joshua Tree desert, where he cremated the body. Phil Kaufman revealed that the cremation had been Parsons' wish. Kaufman could not be convicted for stealing the body, but he was arrested for stealing and burning the coffin.

RIP, my almost-birthday-buddy.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Many Thanks!

to the divine watertiger, who has sent me a birthday present.


And Keith's shattering comment this week.

Punk Republicans

I loves me some James Wolcott:

I feel the Republican Party has misinterpreted the punk ethos. In the last week or so there's been a rash of news items--punks and rashes seem to go together--about Republican candidates and their droogies trying to do the blitzkreig bop on wives, gal pals, and political foes alike. You've got John Sweeney (upstate New York) accused of throttling his wife during a domestic disturbance, real Sid and Nancy at the Chelsea Hotel behavior. You've got Don Sherwood, accused of whupping on his mistress. You've got that alleged bout of Greco-creepo wrestling in Las Vegas starring Congressman Jim Gibbons. You've got Congressional battleaxe Barbara Cubin going all Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? on a libertarian in a wheelchair. Not even Lydia Lunch in her foulest moods ever went that far.

And then there's Senator George Allen of Virginia, who may dress like a phony cowboy, but behaves like Rat Scabies, without any of Rat's compensating charm. It is no secret that Allen likes to spit, which might appear to put him smack in the middle of the germy tradition of punk. Questioned about his projectile saliva dispersal, Allen's goon squad manhandled a modest truthseeker like Hell's Angels descending on a hippie at Altamont.
In his very entertaining and instructive memoir New York Rocker, former Blondie member Gary Valentine observed that the scum chucking at CBGB's didn't start until the arrival of the Dead Boys, led by singer Stiv Bators lapped up his own vomit,* received a blowjob on stage, and peed into the bartender's work helmet, though obviously not all the same time. Valentine: "To me they were the first sign of the mental dry rot that would arrive in full with UK bands like the Damned." The scene got darker and gnarlier, the poets pushed out by the poseurs.

Republican poseurs such as Allen and the aspiring stranglers in his party are mimicking this late decadent phase of punk, not its early sonic idealism and adventure. I just hope one of them doesn't overdo the rough stuff and leave a dead body behind in the hotel room some night. Let Sid and Nancy be a cautionary tale to those Republican lawmakers looking to go a couple rounds with the next woman within fondling range.

And this was *before* we knew about the meth and gay hookers! Hoo boy! (h/t res ipsa loquitur)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No Surprise.

It will suprise no one that I love this movie.

Haven't seen it in years though--on to Netflix!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In My Inbox

Just received:

Hello, SHOES fans!

This email is sent to inform you of a new book I've written about the early years of our band, SHOES. It's called, "Birth of A Band, The Record Deal and the Making of "Present Tense".

This book chronicles the band's origin and experiences in those early years with over 60 full-color photos and includes a "behind the scenes" peek at how the band signed their major label deal and recorded their debut album, "Present Tense" while in England.

It features personal photos from the studio sessions and exploits as well as anecdotes and personal recollections.

This 70 page, 8-1/2" x 11" book is available after November 1, 2006 for $20, plus $3 shipping and handling from Black Vinyl Records. You can go to ourwebsite at; and click on "Shoes" and "News" to read more or go to;
to order.

Thanks for your support through the years!


Jeff Murphy/SHOES

Interesting. I do have a birthday coming up....

Babyblogging: More Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween! Our party the other night was at the local children's museum: here's some more pics.

A pretty little puppy goes shopping in the pretend grocery store.

Where a monkey works checkout.

Meanwhile, a duckling attempts to eat some keys.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Things You Learn on the Internets

....and you know, honestly, I could have gone my whole life without knowing this, but apparently Rush Limbaugh was born with a tail.

NTodd quotes Slate noting that "Last year, Limbaugh, who used a tailbone defect to get out of the Vietnam draft, accused a Democratic candidate of having served in Iraq 'to pad the resume'." But commenter Interrobang corrects the record.
Rush didn't get deferred from Vietnam because of a "tailbone defect," he had a pilonidal cyst, which is a hair-filled sinus on the skin over the coccyx. The problem is entirely within the skin, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the tailbone itself.

So I looked this thing up (can you tell I'm procrastinating? I have a paper to write.) and it turns out that a pilonidal cyst is a little hairy thing located about here:

Ergo, a tail.

It actually explains a few things, including his being in league with Satan.