Saturday, February 18, 2006


Work sucks. Colds suck. Here's some stuff:

When I go back for another degree in a few years - once Planet breaks out of orbit - I'm thinking linguistics. I'm generally far more interested in discourse analysis than grammar or morphology or phonetics, but things like this on Thursday's All Things Considered deeply fascinate me.

Friday's Fresh Air with Terry Gross has snippets of different interviews and in-studio performances of Richard Thompson in recognition of the new box set.

Contemplate this:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Letter

by Anthony Hecht

I have been wondering
What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
It is certainly not me.
But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
Blood knows what it knows.
It talks to itself all night, like a sliding moonlit sea.

Of course, it is talking of you.
At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights,
The sun plants one lithe foot
On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
Its warm Arabian nights,
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heart-root.

Who shall, of course, be nameless.
Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
As I'm sure you have, too.
Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver. My dearest, the clear unquaried blue

Of those depths is all but blinding.
You may remember that once you brought my boys
Two little woolly birds.
Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

There is not much else to tell.
One tries one's best to continue as before,
Doing some little good.
But I would have you know that all is not well
With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

The real story, as I and many have suggested, is not that Dick Cheney shot someone in a hunting accident but that he shot someone in a hunting accident and did what comes naturally to a those with pretensions of omnipotence: cover-up, blame shift, diminishing the apparent significance of the event, cowardly hiding. That there is absolutely no reason for any sentient on the planet to believe a single word of any of the explanations offered by Cheney or anyone in his administration means that nothing has changed: there was no reason to believe anything they say about anything before the accident, none after, making the incident emblematic more than revelatory.

I do want to get in one more entry on the event itself.

Is there anything wussier than the most powerful man on the planet, along with other incredibly powerful men and women, drunk on their omnipotence, hatching plans to cement their omnipotence, dressing up like Elmer Fudd, and celebrating it all by kablooming with shotguns at point blank range animals and birds trotted up before them like metal bears on a revolving track at a carnival? They couldn't shoot skeets? Critters have to die? That won't even be eaten? Skeets, metal targets? How does one prove one's power to decide life and death with clay frisbees and tin bears?

I don't understand the lure of dressing in camo, dousing yourself in whatever deer hunters douse themselves in, hiking deep into the woods, perching stock still in a tree stand for hours, shooting a deer, dressing it, carrying it out, eating it, but I do understand there is a significant difference between that and massacring trapped animals for giggles. The first is hunting, the second is killing.

And it's the killing that gives Cheney - and his colleagues, and everyone else who does this - his thrill. Killing for killing's sake. Such a manly man. Such power he wields. Such a coward. Such a despicable effing wussy.
Snippets (or, Don't Even Begin to Think the Media Gets It Yet)

Peppered? People peppered by buckshot don't spend days in ICU. People peppered by buckshot don't have lead wedged near and into their heart.

? Damn shame Katrina damaged the oil industry, yes?

Democracy? Well, only if Bushco's side wins. Just like America.

And, in case you missed it, The Daily Show on Peppergate

Stewart: Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Corddry: Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Whittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face.

Stewart: But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?

Corddry: Jon, in a post-9/11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.

Stewart: That's horrible.

Corddry: Look, the mere fact that we're even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know "how" we're hunting them. I'm sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little "covey" of theirs.

Stewart: I'm not sure birds can laugh, Rob.

Corddry: Well, whatever it is they do -- coo -- they're cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

The first single off the upcoming new album by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

A review of the new album in the latest New Yorker (hey, from same, a new short story by Haruki Murakami!) Salon previews the anticipation on the new album here, ending with a snide slap at the new single.

There are two cuts off the YYYs' debut Fever to Tell, "Maps" and "Y Control" that are brilliant, anthemic. Three more cuts are almost brilliant. The rest are merely good. I'm extremely curious, extremely anxious, to hear the entire new album (to be released 3/28).

They have the potential to be huge. They have the potential to match the music with the hype, the music with the look. They could be vital, they could be important. They could be one brilliant album, accidental and flukish, and make their big money on residual flash and marketing. They could be huge and undeserving. I'm excited about this album to hear what will the YYY will become, a band of significant musical weight or a band self-derivative and famous by hype.

And I think it apparent that many listeners of indie are dearly hoping that the album kicks ass. The complete lack of buzz over the new Strokes album, which is neither weaker or stronger than the first, makes me wonder if the recording industry's craven lust for imitation has already burned out the lanky boy band line of Franz Ferdinands and Kaiser Chiefs and Interpol and, most toxic of all, The Killers. Sensitive songwriters, the Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens and Iron and Wine and Joseph Arthur and the still dead, still overrated Elliott Smith - ageing, ageing. There's a new Radiohead allegedly on tap, but if it's *Kid A* x 3, old. With the success of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, expect a gaggle of bands riffing on Talking Heads circa More Songs About Buildings and Food. If the YYY release a great album, a FRESH album, with cuts that carry the summer, it could energize a sagging toward moribund indie scene. That the album seems to be getting more press before its release than most albums get after is a sign of desperate hope.

The single is OK. The New Yorker review is positive. I'm almost always disappointed in albums that follow albums I love, in albums I anticipate this much. I suspect this is hardly unique in listeners, and I suspect whatever hopes and fears I have for the new album is magnified a thousand-fold by the musicians themselves. I don't think it's hyperbolic to assert the potential importance of the new YYYs' album. I don't think it's hyperbolic to assert its potential dudness. I'm hopeful. I'm worried. I'm girding myself to be fair.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Just Because It's Easy Doesn't Mean It's Not Apt

Dick Cheney doesn't hunt, not in the traditional sense. He pays money to companies that cater to his bloodlust by raising birds and animals for easy slaughter. No doubt, he puts on his camoflage duds (his with a VP crest on the breast?), and sincerely imagines that he's hunting, but no, he's not. And then, in this controlled shooting gallery, where guile, skill, ingenuity, agility are not required for funfilled massacre, Cheney still manages to screw up.

Yes, it is an easy metaphor to make: the man who proclaimed that Americans would be welcomed as heroes in Iraq, who announced that the Iraqi insurgency was in it's last throes, and has been the primary driving force behind the war in Iraq, is the same man who pays money to have birds raised for slaughter flushed on command for him to shoot at point blank range and instead of killing the birds he also shoots another hunter. The incompetence, the shotgun bravado of the coward, the employment of caged quails or enlisted footsoldiers to provide fodder for his Great Man ambitions, his first instinct to squelch news of his mistakes, his second to blame others for his mistakes: it's easy, but too apt to ignore, the parallels, to make this shooting a perfect metaphor for the worldview, the character, the pattern behavior, and the pathetic and dangerous flaws of Dick Cheney.