Friday, March 24, 2006


I'm ambivalent about Devotchka. Sometimes I really like, sometimes I think it's gimmicky. Here are three songs (not the three I would choose if I had a choice, but); hear what you think:

They're often compared to The Decembrists, which I can hear (in the way I find gimmicky). What band they remind me of is the dearly departed Cousteau, who I loved. Click on "Talking to Myself" off *Sirena.* Holy heartbeat, I love that song.

Trembling Blue Stars

Paul Westerberg!!!!!

New Built to Spill (the link is to an older song) to be released April 11!!!
The Law is Me
"When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

"Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

"In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Here's the speech a Democrat needs to make: This president feels that he is incapable of protecting the United States from threats to its national security within the rule of law. He feels that his only recourse is to break the law to protect the country. He admits he cannot protect the country within the law by deliberately choosing to ignore the law. In effect, he is saying: this country is weakened by the application of its laws.

Even if we allowed that there may be emergency instances when laws may need superceding in extraordinary circumstances - which is still debatable - what evidence gathered from anything this administration has done gives anyone confidence that such a decision could be made competently, dispassionately, honestly, and without an eye on the administration's top priority of maximizing political advantage for it and its clients?

He can not do the job within the law: why would anyone think he could do the job outside the law? He has skewed all his policies within the law to first and foremost benefit his own political fortune and the advancement of the fortunes of his supporters: why would anyone think he would not first and foremost operate outside the law for the very same reasons?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Piano Lessons

by William Matthews

Sometimes the music is locked
in the earth's body, matter-
of-fact, transforming itself.

So our work could seem useless,
even tautological, as if music
were weather, as if there were never

practice, finger-oil on the keys,
dust in the curtains like the silence
that hates music, parents

to disappoint, small frauds the teacher is paid
to endure but endures for her own
reasons. But the garbled, ill-

believed hymns rise from the piano
on payments. And any God I care for
rakes them in and loves them,

though I don't want to hear
the jokes God makes to love them
unless I be one of those jokes.

4-1 (and the one was a fluke)

I took yesterday afternoon off to watch, between a dentist appointment and picking up Planet, the Deutschland-USA friendly from Frankfort. After a decent first half, in which the US was outclassed if not outscored, KA-BOOM!

Can we puh-leeze end the Jimmy Conrad on the backline, Eddie Johnson on the frontline experiment? Conrad sucks on Kansas City's backline, (how he was named Defender of the Year in MLS 2005 dismays me) and there's a reason FCD traded Johnson and his me-complex to Kansas City. Most revealing moment on Johnson (who missed a sitter, albeit by a great Oliver Kahn save): on the fluke goal, when Johnson collided with Kahn and the ball bounced untouched through both into German goal, Johnson lifted his hands to take claim for the goal.

Ching sucked on front line too. Twellman never got a chance to play - I wonder if Arena was giving Johnson and Ching a chance to play themselves on or off (OFF!) or whether Arena just doesn't believe Twellman has it.

This isn't a clarion signal that US won't advance through group play this June. They were playing without many of their Euro-based pros and some US-based players (Donovan especially) were out with knacks. The German team was far fitter than the MLS players on US (whose domestic season starts weekend after next). But the difference in technical skills between the Germans and Americans was shocking. Even more shocking is how the Germans physically beat the crap out of the Americans. And this was a German team who just got blasted by Italy, which just happens to be in the US' round robin group. Oy. A clear wake-up and warning.

Outrage is the Cure for Outrage Fatigue

Not experiencing the adrenal rush of beating up on Ben Domenech? Karl Rove blames the President's poll woes on "external events" like the war in Iraq and White House plants Nagourney and Bumiller let it go unremarked in NYT? Bush planning new offensive in war in Iraq, a frontal assault on his critics*, the cowardly Democrats and terrorist-supporting press? Having trouble summoning up anger that the everyday criminalities and inanities of this administration doesn't summon up anger?

Well, read this headline:

I have one thing to say to Roger Figgety Daltrey and Pete Figgety Townshend: John Entwistle and Keith Moon are still figgety dead, and there can not be a Who without the greatest rhythm section in the history of rock music.

I can stand Roger Figgety Daltrey whoring himself out as an "actor" on a crappy TV shows (which I can avoid). I can take Pete Townshend selling his entire figgety catalogue to any advertising agency with enough shiny pennies (though I can't always avoid the commercials). I can take (though I wouldn't pay to see, or watch for free) Roger Figgery Daltrey (born 1944) standing open-shirted, twirling the mic around his head like a lasso; I can take (though I wouldn't pay to see, or watch for free) Pete Figgety Townshend (born 1945), wax in his deaf ears, windmilling his guitar. What I cannot take is the two of them lassoing and windmilling under a Who banner or putting out new music as The Who if Keith Moon and John Entwistle are still dead.

Ba'al, next thing you know, the surviving members of Queen will go out and hire a hack singer like Paul Rodgers (who feels like making love, bad company that he is) to replace Freddy Mercury.

*"I saw the rushes the other day when the Republican National Committee released the text of a radio ad and Bush held a hastily called press conference. The revamped story line is WATITH (the “war against terrorists inside the homeland”) and it will feature Bush not as Top Gun, but as Top Gumshoe: a mix of Eliot Ness, J. Edgar Hoover and Agent Jack Bauer."

Monday, March 20, 2006

With less than two weeks before the opener against Red Bull New York* the starting line-up seems to be:

Prideaux or Namoff/Erpen/Boswell



This was the line-up against said Red Bull (nee Metroscum) this past Saturday night in a United 1-0 victory in preseason. Adu played the whole game, Walker came in for Filomeno in the only substitution of real note.

I like it. DCU needs to see what they have in Filomeno, and Walker is best coming off the bench around 70 minutes when his speed would be most effective against tired defenders. Adu needs to play - though Gros has played well on the left, Adu's a natural lefty and has to be there. Biggest question is Boswell (who scored that breathtaking header vs Chelsea last summer to give DCU a brief lead): does he have enough speed to play a flank defender in 3-5-2? If he does, if the defense stays organized, good things may happen.

*Yes, Red Bull New York sounds whorish, but this is soccer in America: if a major corporation with a major hot commodity wants to put its name on a MLS soccer team in the country's biggest market, you let them. Joyfully.
Coming Soon

At some point this administration's defenders will need to seek out a different scapegoat for the bloody havoc and unmitigated failure of the war they unleashed in Iraq than the tired old corpses of the press and Cindy and Liberals and terrorists. Needing to blame someone, sooner or later they will inevitably begin to blame the Iraqi people themselves. As a gesture of kindness, let me present to the Iraqi people the proper etiquette for responding to upcoming charges that it's their fault their citizens are dying in ghastly numbers:

May I suggest:
Dear President Bush, we are so sorry if your destruction of our country, your torturing of our citizens, and the civil war your combination of hubris, avarice, and incompetence has delivered unto our country has caused you any inconvenience. But more, we sincerely apologize if it seems to you that we do not appreciate all that you have done for our country. Believe us, we do.
Don't worry about the sarcasm. He won't get it. And they're gonna blame you anywhichway.
Duh, Sherlock
In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too.The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests.
What's not in the piece are the bullies who prey upon the insecure, beating them up for lunch money, pressuring them to do the bullies homework. The bullies become conservatives too - some even become Secretary of Defence and Vice President, and sometimes, if they think it suits their purpose, the bullies even let an insecure whiny geek become President.

Yep, that's a major part of the conservative coalition: Bullies and those who need bullying. Just like in elementary school, just like in junior high. But you knew that.