Friday, December 31, 2004

The Only Blasted 2004 Albums I Own

Joining the fray in picking my “Top 10 Albums of 2004” became a much easier task when I discovered that I only had ten albums in my collection that fit the onerous criteria of having actually been released in 2004. Apparently, I’ve been so busy catching up on albums I missed in my squandered youth that I’ve completely abandoned new music.

Sure, I could have included albums I don’t actually own in my list, but if I don’t own them, I don’t know them well enough to say a damn thing about them. (Heck, I don’t know enough about some of the ones I do own to say a damn thing about them.) And I could have ignored the proscribed criteria and come up with some of my own, like “Top 10 Albums I Translated into French in 2004” or “Top 10 Albums of My 2004 Red Sox Soundtrack,” but I’m a sucker for tradition.

So, here goes. My “Top 10 Albums of 2004,” more affectionately known as “The Only Blasted 2004 Albums I Own.” And, yes, they are in order of “musical excellence,” which roughly translates to “ability to please Sarah in sundry and utterly random ways.”

Example 1. 50 Foot WaveS/T
For those who know me, this is a supremely obvious pick. Well, I’m sorry. But I don’t have it in my blood to put anybody above Kristin Hersh. Call it Ocean State prejudice. Call it irrational love. I don’t care. This six song masterful debut rocks from the opening wrenching guitar chords of “Bug” to the reverb closing of “Dog Days.” Come on, the opening lyrics to “Clara Bow” are “I didn’t use you/but I wish I had/I never liked you/but I wish I did” and Hersh’s bitching about “another stupid summer” is part of a perfectly jerky chorus that keeps you off balance and entranced. And if there’s a better song than “Long Painting” to shriek along to while bobbing your head and jumping up and down, well, I haven’t heard it yet. Plus, Hersh, Rob Ahlers, and Bernard Georges cater to the people. Their show in April at First Ave. was all about the music; Hersh barely said hello. No unnecessary banter, no breaks between tunes, just straight punk rock for the kids. The Catholic Church just might regain my respect if they ever canonize this woman. [That’s a joke, y’all, the respect is gone forever.]

Example 2. The ButchiesMake Yr Life
So, given my KH bias, you can consider the Butchies’ fourth album to actually be my number one selection for 2004. I have a ridiculous amount of memories associated with this band – and this album in particular – and I was only introduced to them in April of this year. They played in DC the night before the March for Choice – a show I kick myself daily for not attending. After the March, I returned to Minneapolis and was invited to their upcoming May 9th show at the Dinkytowner Cafe while I was in the process of buying 50 Foot Wave concert tickets. Clearly, it was destiny. Of course, they rocked that little Mpls venue to death, complete with Howard the Duck/Melissa York antics and Kaia looking all hot and stuff. I bought Make Yr Life (and a very spiffy pin) that very night and never looked back.

Oh, but there’s an album to discuss too. Does anyone do pop rock better than the Butchies? “Send Me You” could stand as the quintessential missing-my-lover/ wanna-be-with-her/ him-all-the-time love song. And I could listen to the verse that happens right around the 1:00 mark of “Second Guess” over and over: “...but you’re not like the rest/you’re not the fucking rest/you’re not like anything/ i’ve ever seen...” God, and what happens at the 2:00 mark is even better. Trust me. “She’s so Lovely” is another superb devotional ditty that makes you really not want to believe Kaia when she sings “Grab my hand baby/I just wanna talk...” [Emphasis mine.] Oh, but wait, she wouldn’t be “talking” with you anyway. “Everything + Everywhere” is blatant and beauteous flirtation and their cover of the Outfield’s “Your Love” is perfect in its whispered slowness. When are they coming to DC again?

Example 3. Rufus WainwrightWant Two
One of the few men who will appear on this list, Rufus Wainwright quite frankly just makes me happy. I know a few Rufus fans who have grown bored or disillusioned with his recent output, but I’m continuously impressed and pleased. I could fall asleep to the gorgeous “Agnus Dei” every night (which, perhaps, isn’t the best recommendation for a song) and then wake up to “The One You Love” every morning: “I’m singing ‘Oh, Jerusalem oh, Jerusalem/See what he’s picked up in the park’/Let’s fuck this awful art party/Want you to make love to me and only to me in the dark.” While I can’t decide if “Peach Trees” is pretty or boring, and if “Little Sister” is a cute or ridiculous tribute, “The Art Teacher” and “This Love Affair” are two amazingly beautiful songs. While most critics probably harp on the meaning of “Gay Messiah,” I prefer to just sit back and smile at it. “Old Whore’s Diet” completely blows me away and is a perfectly epic, crescendo-to-diminuendo way to end Rufus’ fourth oeuvre. [Pardon the use of the word “oeuvre,” but you know it fits Rufus and what he does.] And if the album wasn’t satisfying enough, there’s a full-length concert DVD included that is also, oh, wonderful.

Example 4. The SoviettesLP II
I don’t know much about the Soviettes’ punkstory – they’re another recent addition to my musical collection. But I do know that this Minnesota group provides super fun shows and sing-able, dynamic songs on their albums, particularly on LP II. The call-and-response gimmick works to perfection in “Pass the Flashlight.” “Goes Down Easy” is a tune many drinkers will understand. The opening bars of “Angel A” are painfully naked, but work well with the song’s tale of disappointment. “There’s a Banana in My Ear” earns them a “liberal rocker” gold star. Ditto for “Winning is for Losers.” “Love Song” is too awesome to explain. I have no idea what the hell “Come on Bokkie” is about, but it works. At an average of a little over 100 seconds a track, these 14 songs bring quick and hard pleasure.

Example 5. The ReputationTo Force a Fate
As mentioned previously, Elizabeth Elmore is well on her way to solidifying herself as a younger, childless, and less guttural Kristin Hersh. Less guttural, but her songs certainly have the same bitter, “Tar Kissers” element to them. Take, for instance, the awesomely fun “Bottle Rocket Battles”: “it was once before you noticed and twice before i cared/three times and we’d both had it for the year.” And “Face It” is a great song directed at plenty of people I know, especially in DC: “go join the neophytes and haunts/philistines and dilettantes/the new Elmer Gantrys in one feverish race to the bottom/it’s what you wanted/ it’s what we’re all doing here.” I love “Senseless Day,” if only for the talk about burying everything in sleep. Sounds like my ideal world. But my favorite track is “The Ugliness Kicking Around” because it’s another one of those epic, unnecessarily long-and-drawn-out songs that always seem to appeal to me. [After letting a friend borrow kd lang’s Ingenue album, she accused me of liking “overly dramatic” music. Rufus and Mandy Patinkin ... yeah, guilty as charged.] To Force a Fate has been firmly integrated into my regular CD playlist.

Example 6. Le TigreThis Island
Given a longer period of ownership, it’s possible that this album could have earned a higher spot on my list. But, I don’t know it very well yet, so it’ll have to rest easy at #6. I enjoy fun albums that you don’t need to pay attention to – this is certainly one of them. You can focus in on the lyrics if you want, but it’s definitely not necessary. “Seconds” is one of the many anti-tributes to G.W. Bushies to have come out in the past four years, and it’s probably one of the more caustic ones: “Your dad’s money’s too base to mention/His coattails are looking worn/You’ve had a nice ride that’s for sure/Better thank your brain-dead clientele/For all the money that you’ll spend in hell/You make me sick.” Other highlights: a brash “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo,” the spacey “T.K.O.” and the hysterical butch anthem “Viz.” I’ll agree with the Washington Post critic who said that the political collage “New Kicks” was unnecessary. Oh yeah, and did I mention the irresistible cover of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited”? That song alone is worth the price of the album. Lucky for us, there are 12 other tracks.

Example 7. Drive-By TruckersThe Dirty South
I’ve seen 7 out of the 10 bands on this list live. In terms of putting on the best overall live show, Drive-By Truckers lapped every single one of them – a couple times over. [Yes, they were even better than 50 Foot Wave. As far as being meaningful and all that crap, the L’~ show wins hands down, but DBT’s 3-plus hours of near non-stop quality performing were something I’ve never before witnessed.] I bought The Dirty South because I felt I owed the band more than the price I paid for the concert ticket, and I was curious if I could get into a country-ish record. Well, the experiment kind of worked. I genuinely like the album. I’m just never in the mood to listen to it. Patterson Hood’s “Puttin’ People on the Moon” is a ridiculously awesome song. Mike Cooley’s a genius, evidenced by “Daddy’s Cup,” among others. I could do without most of Jason Isbell’s tracks – “Danko/Manuel” is an exception, “Never Gonna Change” is certainly not. I guess I’m glad I own the album, but my ears would never know it.

Example 8. Dropkick MurphysTessie
The Red Sox won the World Series. The Red Sox won the World Series. The Red Sox won the World Series. The Red Sox won the World Series.
“Don’t blame us if we ever doubt you/You know we couldn’t live without you/Boston you are the only only only...”

Example 9. EllisEvidence of Joy
Ellis, much like Rufus, knows how to make a gal happy. Seeing her live and witnessing her self-conscious stage presence, goofy laughter, adorable telling of anecdotes, and sweet voice is an experience I hope to have again some day. But, after receiving my personally autographed, pre-ordered copy of Evidence of Joy, I’m not sure those things come across so well on a live album. [Or maybe they don’t always come across well in person either; an audience member does tell her - and I'm paraphrasing here - to "shut up already and just sing."] The songs are of usual Ellis quality (interpret as you will), but when interspersed with her banter and laughter and audience noise, her act is less charming and music less enjoyable. Still, I love her and there are some great songs on the album. Among them, a reprise of Bobby Llama’s “Angel,” a sincere “Lovesong,” and a fine rendition of “Sacred,” a song that really never fails. “I’ve Gotta Thing for You” is a new and experimental tune that is hysterical – but only the first couple times you hear it. Surprisingly,even after those first couple times it still stands up as a high quality track. But, if I want to reminisce about my Minnesota days, I’m definitely more likely to pop in Ellis’ earlier Soft Day or Tigers Above, Tigers Below than Evidence.

Example 10. Go Betty GoWorst Enemy (EP)
Pretty basic punk by four talented womyn. Not overwhelming, but worth listening to every now and then. Especially the last track, “C’mon.” Hopefully, they’ll figure out a way to distinguish themselves from similar groups (like the Soviettes have expertly done) by the time they make a full-length.

Resolution #1 for 2005: When I go to buy new music, actually buy new music.

No, strike that. The past year has seen me add an amazing number of "new" bands and a fair number of oldy-but-oh-so-goody albums to my collection. (Five must-haves by the Pixies being pretty good examples of what I mean). So, if I end up with a similarly lame Top 10 list next year, it’ll only be because I was too busy continuing my musical late blooming to investigate what those modern kids are up to.

[P.S. Does the trade mean 2005 will not see Pedro and Manny featured on a Mighty Mighty Bosstones album? At least we still have V-Tek around to sing with Aerosmith...]

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Ship Is Listing

While I have composed my own "Top 10 Albums of 2004" manifesto, it is not yet ready to be revealed. I plan to make it all fancy for you, which requires borrowing a housemate's computer and spending a couple hours finding appropriate links and pics. Thus, I will have it up tomorrow.

But, to start the drumroll, I offer several lists that have already been posted.

Here's a hint: Some of the albums on my list are on some of these lists too.

Another hint: Absolutely none of these lists mention my #1, even the ones that name 100 albums.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Chemical Imbalance

From a recent New York Times article:

Taking the destabilizing effects of sugar to an extreme is the tunnel-of-fudge cake. "It is so deadly, you can't believe how deadly it is," she said. "We are deliberately doing a cake with way too much sugar."

Sugar, she explained, binds to the flour proteins, preventing them from forming the structural lattice. "Glutenin runs off with sugar," Ms. Corriher said. "Gliadin runs off with sugar, and you don't get much gluten."

When baked, the outer portions reach a high enough temperature that they harden, but the cooler inner part remains soft and gooey.

"We've eaten a whole cake, the two of us," Ms. Corriher said.

Her husband interjected, "Over a period of time."

"It was a very brief period of time," Ms. Corriher said.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bucolic Panorama

For a building that is less than overwhelming in its size, the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, SC is currently home to an impressive number of worth-the-$7-entrance-fee exhibitions.

Moving to the head of the class is William Dunlap's Panorama of the American Landscape and a small sample of Dunlap's other works (including Dear Head Into Infinity, below).

Dunlap's treatment of war is unique and powerful. It's too bad plenty of people probably walk into the room, take a quick glance around, and promptly walk out of the room (which I did see happen). As with that of Van Gogh, Dunlap's work is most rewarding when you stand smack dab up against the painting and look intently at the purposeful paint lumps, subtly hidden words and numbers, and seemingly arbitrary patches of canvas.

Other treats at the Gibbes include their permanent collection of miniature period rooms and some fascinating works by Linda Fantuzzo and Manning Williams. [Registration required for the Fantuzzo/Williams article.]

All that said, who thought the Museum's "Size Matters" promotion was a good idea?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Moral Majoridon and Senataur

Click the pic to see a horror movie.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Football Dream Come True

Congrats to Maribel Dominguez on her recent signing with Celaya, a men's soccer team in Mexico's second highest league. Maybe she'll be to Mexican girls who want to play futbol what Manon Rheaume was to Canadian girls who wanted to be "hockeyeuses."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to sandwich-board myself with these posters and take my fury to the streets, but I certainly understand the sentiments underlying the Christmas Resistance Movement.

But if you are going to buy presents this holla! day season, you might as well Buy Blue.

Monday, December 13, 2004

And This Dog, Language

My hair, as already mentioned, is standing on end, and no setting lotion there, which could force it to firm up again. No firmness in myself either. Not on me, not in me. When one’s on the sidelines, one always has to be ready to jump a bit and then another bit to the side, into the empty space, which is right next to the sidelines. And the sidelines have brought their sideline pitfall along with them, it’s ready at any time, it gapes wide, to lure one even further out. Luring out is luring in. Please, I don’t want to lose sight now of the way, which I’m not on. I would so like to describe it honestly and above all truly and accurately...

...And this dog, language, which is supposed to protect me, that’s why I have him, after all, is now snapping at my heels. My protector wants to bite me. My only protector against being described, language, which, conversely, exists to describe something else, that I am not - that is why I cover so much paper - my only protector is turning against me. Perhaps I only keep him at all, so that he, while pretending to protect me, pounces on me. Because I sought protection in writing, this being on my way, language, which in motion, in speaking, appeared to be a safe shelter, turns against me. No wonder. I mistrusted it immediately, after all. What kind of camouflage is that, which exists, not to make one invisible, but ever more distinct?
--Elfriede Jelinek during her Nobel Lecture

Dear Lord, please tell me this lecture on the life of a writer made more sense when delivered in German...

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Kicking High

There are very few people as mesmerizing on stage as Kristin Hersh. [For those of y'all who want to see for yourself, she's playing some solo dates and some shows with 50 Foot Wave in the coming weeks.] But let me tell you this. Elizabeth Elmore of the Reputation is well on her way to evoking the same guitar-grinding, dominant womyn rock star sensibility that has thrilled so many Hersh fans, and I'm grateful for having been introduced to her discography.

The Reputation's show at Black Cat on Thursday was full of high energy and fast music, all buoyed by Elmore's sweet-but-tough vocals and nose-to-the-grindstone guitar work. The other band members did more than their fair share of contributing to the energy and tone of the show, but it was obvious who the star is here. Elmore's self-deprecating banter and beer guzzling further endeared her to me, especially when she forgot some lyrics, lost her guitar (briefly) to a power surge, and then quipped that it was their last show of a two and a half month tour, but that it must have seemed to the audience like their first. Nope, not at all.

This group knows how to play together on stage - and in the studio, as evidenced by their new album "To Force a Fate". [I've heard some tracks from their s/t debut, and it's more of the same greatness.] Though Elmore seems a bit bitter about the circumstances of Sarge's break-up, "not my choice - for the record," she's moved on to another respectable and crowd-pleasing ensemble. Let's hope Elmore rocks on in whatever form she chooses for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Of Cannoli and Hornets

Two books that are more than satisfactory for entertaining oneself on 4-hour bus rides:

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
- An entertaining series of essays on a range of subjects: performing as a combination tuba/bells player in a high school marching band; driving lessons with Ira Glass; love affairs by mix tape; the Trail of Tears; her dad and his cannon; visiting Disney World as a cynical adult; and, yes, cannoli. Better than her buddy Sedaris.

Black Hornet by James Sallis
-Sallis' Lew Griffin series must draw the inevitable comparisons to Walter Mosley and his Easy Rawlins novels, and if it does, that's a shame and lazy book reviewing. These characters, both fascinating, intelligent, and likeable despite their flaws, are remarkably different, as are the authors' styles and angles of attack. Sallis is much more overtly political and knows how to divert from the current action to allow Griffin to offer up anecdotes from his past and/or future. [Um, was that just comparing the two?] Check out an excerpt from the first chapter. Good stuff.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Each time I peruse the CDs at Revolution Records, I'm intrigued by a used copy of Northern State's All City album. I've never bought it because somehow the cover picture led me to believe that it would be a feeble attempt at hip hop. Perhaps I was turned off by the fact that one of them was wearing a pink one of those long sleeveless shirts that is tight on top and wide on the bottom. (Check out the album cover to see what I mean. Plus she's wearing flip-flops.)

I admit that's a lame excuse not to be a CD in support of a female hip hop group, but there you go. After reading an interview with N.S. in this issue of Bitch, however, I'm beginning to think I was guilty of succumbing to immature superficiality and that I should scoop up their album the next time I visit Revolution, if I'm lucky enough to still find it there. With assistance from producers like Cypress Hills' Muggs and the Roots' ?uestlove, as well as a guest performance by Har Mar Superstar [yup, that's him in the above pic], the album may be a surefire hit. Has anyone heard it?


Check out the new Women Teaching in the Sciences website, co-hosted by Women's Prerogative and the National Women's Law Center. They only evaluate science faculty at some of the big research universities, but the results are telling nonetheless. Read the entire report or check out how your favorite school stands on the main website.

Here are the results for the U. of Minnesota:

Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 17% (2 out of 12)

Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 10% (4 out of 39)

Civil Engineering
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 13% (4 out of 31)

Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 3% (2 out of 69)

Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 3% (2 out of 68)

Chemical Engineering
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 6% (2 out of 35)

Computer Science
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 10% (3 out of 30)

Mechanical Engineering
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 10% (4 out of 41)

Electrical Engineering
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 10% (1 out of 10)

Biological Sciences
Percentage of Professors Who Are Women 26% (33 out of 125)



Maureen Dowd's op/ed on the white male network news anchor paradigm raises some interesting points. I think she shot herself in the foot by ending her otherwise decent column with her ridiculous friend's comment:
Women like to read books about men and go to movies about men. But men don't like to read books about women or go to movies about women. The only way this is going to change is if women refuse to watch men. And the problem is, women like watching men.


Finally, read some of the absurdities that are being taught as part of "abstinence-only" curriculum around the country in an article from today's Washington Post.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Long Voyage Home

Roger Angell's latest article in the New Yorker on the Sox' World Series win gave me chills. My favorite line was his description of Varitek shoving his catcher's mitt into Jeter's "famous phiz." [Thanks to Eli over at Expecting Rain for the heads up play.]

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Shameless Consumerism

If I had all the money in the world to supplement my already ridiculous T-shirt collection, I would begin with the following purchases (after ending poverty, of course)...

[OK, I actually did just purchase this one, but come on! Also check out the awesome video for "Clara Bow."]

Believe you me, I could have kept on going for hours...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Eye Candy

There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible.
They are glued to their computers, wearing out the “refresh” button on the Secretary of State’s Web site, creating color-coded spreadsheets to predict the outcome, and generally obsessing over every twist and turn in the ballot count.

Where secular-type liberals and centrists go wrong is in categorizing religion as a form of "irrationality," akin to spirituality, sports mania and emotion generally. They fail to see that the current "Christianization" of red-state America bears no resemblance to the Great Revival of the early nineteenth century, an ecstatic movement that filled the fields of Virginia with the rolling, shrieking and jerking bodies of the revived. In contrast, today's right-leaning Christian churches represent a coldly Calvinist tradition in which even speaking in tongues, if it occurs at all, has been increasingly routinized and restricted to the pastor. What these churches have to offer, in addition to intangibles like eternal salvation, is concrete, material assistance. They have become an alternative welfare state, whose support rests not only on "faith" but also on the loyalty of the grateful recipients.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Take from the Poor to Give to the, uh, Poor

It is not very shocking that a Chicago Sun-Times article reports:

Connecticut ranks first when it comes to making money -- but joins New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island at the bottom of an annual index of charitable giving. The Catalogue for Philanthropy's 2004 Generosity Index showed Mississippi -- the nation's poorest state -- as the nation's most giving state for the eighth straight year. It was followed by Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee.

Anyone who has done any canvassing door-to-door can vouch for the fact that the giving percentage in poor neighborhoods is much higher than that of wealthy (or even middle class) neighborhoods. While one $60 contribution from a wealthy donor may more than equal ten $5 contributions from poor donors, which would you rather have? [OK, maybe some of you would say the $60, but you obviously know nothing about organizing...]

The only thing that makes me curious, after looking at the list of leading "generous" states, is how much of this Southern charity is going to support evangelical churches? Hmmm...maybe generosity isn't such a good thing.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Crypto-strength Randomness

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

RIP: No School Foster-Glocester!

As if today weren't already depressing enough. Goodbye, Salty.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Night o' Poetry and Queer Optimism

Who needs little costumed runts hopped up on candy when you can spend your Halloween night with queer (*hot*) feminist artist-activist Alix Olson?

Last night at Black Cat, Olson (accompanied on guitar by Pamela Means) put on a high-energy, election-inspired performance. Charging onto the stage with similarly rainbowed-out boa and 80s rock wig, Olson declared she was dressed for All Hallows Eve - a pagan holiday that she felt justified in celebrating - as a "Queer Optimist." Combined with stunningly red pants, a belt featuring a Bush-on-a-dollar-bill buckle, and stickers covering clothes and bare arms, Olson's optimism-infused outfit almost had me convinced that those of us pulling for Kerry had nothing to worry about - almost.

Declaring herself in the "Anybody but Bush, Left with Kerry" camp, Olson repeatedly made reference to the necessity of voting "Skeletor" into the White House (or would that be into Snake Mountain?). Olson's strategy: get Kerry into office and then work on moving him to the left, cultivate other lefty/socialist candidates, and fight to get a multi-party system (good luck). She explained her choice of belt buckle (which placed Bush oh-so-close to her crotch) as an attempt to remind him of her reproductive rights. Seeing as how she was forced to strip off the belt mid-set, she resignedly declared that the President must not be interested in such things.

In addition to witty political banter, Olson also delivered in her spoken word part of the show. Personally, I was thrilled that she included the rad crush song "Unsteady Things," as well as the beautifully sad break up piece "8x10," both found on her sophomore release Independence Meal. Luckily for the audience, she did the hilarious "Cute for a Girl" from her debut album, which is a song for Catholic school girls just waiting to come out. Her set also included some moving tributes to her parents and the "Womyn Before," during which she encouraged a shy audience to yell out the names of their own heroines. [To be fair, the D.C. audience - while surprisingly much smaller - was braver on this front than the crowd at a show I saw in Minneapolis.] I've heard so much about "Armpit Hair [Mammally Factual]" that I was hoping she would perform it; but, no.

All in all, an entertaining show that alternated between hilarious bouts of Olson-brand sarcasm and moments of the audience's mesmerized disbelief at the sheer talent this woman possesses.

Never before have I wanted to celebrate any aspect of the He-Man saga, but after seeing Olson, all I can say is "Go Skeletor!"

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sheer Bliss

To all of those who know and appreciate the meaning of Red Soxiness*, I can only hope that last night you had a hand to reciprocate your high-five; lips to accept your kiss; arms waiting to embrace you in a hug; ears to hear the blasting of celebratory car horns; cameras and VCRs to record the moment; a Sam Adams to swig while watching your team swarm the field; and a heart that swelled as much as mine.

*Much thanks to Judy for introducing me to this rad term.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Pre-Game Warm-Up

  1. Dan Shaughnessy on the Sox connecting generations - Yes, it is true - I have been communicating with select people more frequently than usual due to Sox excitement. I just wish he had included "grandmother" in the list of possible relatives that the Sox remind you of...
  2. Ex-teammates host Garciaparra love-in - The unofficial "26th Man" called up Varitek and Nixon to wish them luck. You've gotta feel bad for him, missing out on this trip to the World Series by a couple of months.
  3. Current teammates (and coaches) host Pedro love-in - I'll admit, I'm nervous about his start tonight. I don't care about his woeful batting stats; I just want the man to pitch well. And for Francona to yank him as soon as he reaches the dreaded midnight-hour, coach-into-a-pumpkin 100-pitch mark.
  4. Everyone participates in a Keith Foulke love-in - And deservedly so.
  5. A comment on the newly realized Red Sox Planet - Does that mean there are no Yankees fans in Paris or Bangkok? I doubt it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Brief Respite

Since you have no baseball scores to check, go look at the rest of Mikhaela Blake Reid's political cartoons and her blog. [NOTE: Click on cartoon for a larger, easier-to-read image.]

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Don't Call It a Comeback

OK, call it a comeback.

So, what's it going to be? A repeat of the '67 matchup? A Massachusetts v. Texas duel to mirror the election? (Would that make Roger Clemens the Zell Miller of the Series?) The Cards and Astros will decide it for us tonight.

Not to be a pompous jerk or anything, but I invite you to go back and read the last paragraph of my post yesterday. The man - and this team - certainly did not disappoint.

Game 1 of the World Series to be played at Fenway Park Saturday night. A pronouncement too long in coming, but one I will savor for a mighty long time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Ultimate Red Sock

I was really excited when I first received this poem as a forward; upon further examination, I see that it's actually quite bad. I think the author was just using the poem as a vessel for showing the world that he knows MacGyver's first name. Am I posting it anyway? Yes, of course.

From The Boston Globe's website:

Ode to a bloody sock
There once was a bloody sock,
Attached to the end of the BoSox rock.
Our man Curt Schilling is the ultimate gamer,
Angus MacGyver must be a Red Sox trainer.
The first time Fox zoomed in on Curt’s shoe,
That’s no magic sneaker … and what’s seeping through?
Then came the bloody sock.

Oh bloody sock, oh bloody sock,
Call ESPN Classic because we have to talk.
Schill the Thrill denied common sense,
And now Game 7, could this get more intense?

One game, 27 outs, and on to the show,
Slapping balls out of gloves is an MLB no-no.
But as we watched the blood seep out of our rock,
We also witnessed the birth of the Boston Red Sock.
-Chris Rattey, The Lighter Side

Other links to check out:
Catching up with Spaceman Bill Lee
Who needs sleep?
Bottoms up for Bellhorn
A-rod a bigger villain in one swipe
Get your own Red Sox rally cards
No surprise to these Sox
He pitched his ass off (for real, check this site out!)

Whatever tonight's conclusion, this has been one amazing series. It's Damon's night, I swear!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Give That Man a Hug

To celebrate the absolute absurdity and beauty of baseball, vote for your favorite Sox hairstyle.

Obviously Johnny Damon is in a rough spot right now. But, I'm glad to see he still has a sense of humor about it all:

"It's awful," Damon said. "I'm having the worst series of my life right now. But you know what, maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Maybe it will turn around real good. Not getting that bunt down, most of Boston wanted to have me hung -- and I wanted to help them out."

Maybe scoring the winning run last night will give him the jump start he needs. Or maybe it'll be the sweet hug from Dougie Mientkiewicz. Either way, my confidence in Damon is as high as ever - he will come through for them.

And the work of Tim Wakefield and Terry Francona certainly deserves this spotlight. I'm not sure who told David Ortiz he should steal second last night (was it Francona or Big Papi himself?), but I still maintain it was a brilliant, unexpected move. The man was safe.

Some birthday analysis for you: Yesterday was Doug Mirabelli's birthday and today is Keith Foulke's. Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek were born exactly two years apart. Dave Roberts was born the day after Manny Ramirez in the same year - 1972. Don't tell me this all doesn't mean something.

One more quote from Roger Angell's The Summer Game (with some necessary modifications):

Reasonable hope cannot be constructed out of such a sad pile of feathers [the '67 Sox], but the lifelong Red Sox fan is not a reasonable woman. In her is the perpetual memory of a dozen seasons when the best of hopes went for nothing, so why is she not to believe that the worst of prospects may suddenly reward her fealty?...I have studied the diehard Boston fan for many summers. I have seen the tiny, mineral-hard gleam of hope in her eye as she pumps gas under the blighted elms of a New Hampshire village or sells a pair of moccasins to a tourist in the balsam-smelling dimness of her Down East store, listening the while to the unceasing ribbon of bad news by radio from Fenway Park. Inside her head, I am sure, there is a perpetual accompanying broadcast of painful and maddening import - a lifetime's amalgam of ill-digested sports headlines, between-innings commercials, and Fenway Park bleacher cries... (pp. 174-75).

...of "We believe!"

Friday, October 15, 2004

"More Met than Yankee in every one of us..."

Some fantastic quotes from Roger Angell's The Summer Game:

Over the years, many of [the Yankees'] followers have come to watch them with the stolidity, the smugness, and the arrogance of holders of large blocks of blue-chip stocks. These fans expect no less than perfection. They coolly accept the late-inning rally, the winning homer, as only their due. They are apt to take defeat with ill grace, and they treat their stars as though they were executives hired to protect their interests. During a slump or losing streak, these capitalists are quick and shrill with their complaints: "They ought to damn well do better than this, considering what they're being paid!"

Suddenly the Mets fans made sense to me. What we were witnessing was precisely the opposite of the kind of rooting that goes on across the river. This was the losing cheer, the gallant yell for a good try - antimatter to the sounds of Yankee Stadium. This was a new recognition that perfection is admirable but a trifle inhuman, and that a stumbling kind of semi-success can be much more warming. Most of all, perhaps, these exultant yells for the Mets were also yells for ourselves, and came from a wry, half-understood recognition that there is more Met than Yankee in every one of us. I knew for whom that foghorn blew; it blew for me. (pp. 51-52, 1972 edition)

I realized that her affair with the Giants was a true love match and that she had adopted her mate's flaws as her own. (p. 89)

Baseball is a commercial venture, but it is one of such perfect equipoise that millions of us every year can still unembarrassedly surrender ourselves to its unique and absorbing joys. The ability to find beauty and involvement in artificial commercial constructions is essential to most of us in the modern world; it is the life-giving naivete. But naivete is not gullibility; and those who persistently alter baseball for their quick and selfish purposes will find, I believe, that they are the owners of teams without a following and of a sport devoid of passion. (p. 113)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Welcome to the Jungle

I have a personal policy against making predictions about Red Sox playoff escapades, or ticking off the list of Red Sox advantages or disadvantages in playoff match-ups. The following people, apparently, do not follow the same policy:

And I'm sure there are many more floating around the web. Here's what I say: Sit back and enjoy and try not to beat up your housemates or curl into a fetal position and cry like last year. [Well, at least that's what I'm continously telling myself.] Hot damn, I'm excited!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Televised Microcosm of the Problem

Gwen Ifill: But in particular, I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic? [Ok, let's see if these boys can deal with an intelligent question about a serious issue facing black women in the U.S.]

Cheney: some parts of the help in the international effort...I have not heard those numbers with respect to African- American women. I was not aware that it was -- that they're in epidemic there... [Hey - no one told me there was still a domestic HIV/AIDS problem - and certainly not one affecting women of color! Why don't I know this? Aren't I the vice president?]

Edwards: Well, first, with respect to what's happening in Africa and Russia and in other places around the world...The AIDS epidemic in Africa...the people of Africa... [Der...]

Ifill: OK, we'll move on. [Thanks, boys, for proving me right about your complete ignorance of a fucking serious domestic issue.]

I've seen that some other people (space waitress and alas are a couple) have already commented on the completely shameful breakdown by the Cheney/Edwards monster on this question. No, we don't expect them to be experts on every single policy issue, but they should have some general awareness of what's going on with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their own country!

Some quick and dirty stats from a Kaiser Family Foundation 2003 fact sheet:
  • In 1986, women comprised 7% of newly reported AIDS cases; by 2001 that number had increased to 26%.
  • African American women comprise 12% of the U.S. female population, but represent 64% of new HIV infections among all women.
  • Latinas comprise 13% of the U.S. female population, but represent 18% of new HIV infections among all women.
  • In 2001, among the U.S. teenage population (ages 13-19), girls accounted for 57% of all new reported HIV infections.

Frankly, I don't know how Ms. Ifill kept her temper as well as she did after this pitiful performance. I wasn't impressed with everything she had to offer, but this question was original and phenomenal and needed to be asked. It's a given that none of the other moderators would have come close to asking such an insightful question about an important issue specifically facing women of color in the U.S. today. Now will someone tie these guys to a chair and educate them?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Friday, October 01, 2004

Take Me to the Dirty South

While the blogosphere is rightfully focused on last night’s debate – go Kerry! – with this post I break from the expected topic to finally report on my most recent Earth-shattering, booty-shaking concert experience: the seemingly never-ending performance by the Drive-By Truckers at 9:30 last Friday night.

First, let’s just say that the opening act, Allison Moorer and her band, were less than enjoyable. Too loud and too boring. And goddamn it all if her website isn’t the most annoying thing to happen to me today. At least she seems to be doing some decent stuff politically.

After recovering from a post-Moorer retch in the bathroom (I swear to God), I rejoined Eli in eager anticipation of the DBT set. [Completely unnecessary detail: I was totally rejuvenated by my heave in the loo, which Eli coined my “boot and rally.” The feeling I had upon leaving the restroom strongly reminded me of my childhood, which seems, in my recollection at least, to have been one continuous “boot and rally.”]

I had heard from Mark that DBT put on one spectacular live show, which had apparently converted more than one skeptical DBT novice. Well, having heard only a few of their tracks, and not being of the type to like “Southern rock bands” (whatever that means), I certainly fit into the skeptic category. But, dear Lord, was I converted.

DBT opened with a rocking rendition of Puttin’ People on the Moon and never looked back. Spurred on by an obviously hardcore DBT-lovin’ crowd, the band played inexhaustibly for almost three hours straight. [I say “almost” because they did leave the stage for about five minutes after 2.25 hours before coming back for a remarkable .75 hour encore.]

Highlights for me included DBT playing the two songs with which I’m most familiar – Marry Me and Let There Be Rock – and being able to watch the quiet awesomeness of singer/guitarist Mike Cooley. (Click here for a quick-and-dirty bio of each band member.) It’s so obvious that this band enjoys playing music together and their excitement and happiness completely infected the crowd. I imagine this infectious giddiness is present at most every show they put on and that it is one of the primary reasons for their loyal fan base. It just feels so good to listen to their music and watch them perform.

The absolute low point occurred fairly early on in the set when Patterson Hood turned the show over to the young one, Jason Isbell, for three straight songs, including the heartbreakingly awful Never Gonna Change. The energy in the crowd noticeably diminished and eyes started to wander from the stage to the ceiling, to the walls, to the drunk woman dancing in the balcony – essentially to anywhere but on the band. Thankfully, Isbell’s songs that came later in the set were better divided and, actually, were much better than these three. And by the end of the show, I was so entranced by the band and their stamina that I hardly remembered this brief period of blandness.

Another comment from Eli – the boy is so clever with the words – was that the show seemed like a “war of attrition.” Indeed, we were not leaving that venue until the band had left the stage for good, no matter how sore our feet felt or how often our knees were buckling. This show was one I’ll remember for a long time and one of the few that I’ve felt left me indebted to the performers. I’m going to have to buy at least one album now, because whatever tiny portion of the $15 ticket price went to the band was certainly below their deserved pay. Especially given the fact that it was their 18th night of performing like this in a row!

A couple final notes:

  • I usually go to indie rock or pop punk or womyn-dominated concerts. If men are present at these shows, they’re generally painfully thin (and therefore their physical presence is hardly noticeable) or they’re overly sensitive to the politics of space. Well, that was not the case for the DBT audience. Perhaps it was my fault for standing by the bar, but I have never been jostled by so many beer-thirsty brutes the size of pro-football linebackers at a show in my life. I also noticed much more leering at the females at this show than at most I’ve been to. I don’t doubt that such scoping-out goes on at all concerts, but emo-boys are certainly more discreet.
  • Patterson Hood’s urging of the audience to register to vote, followed by a partisan declaration about getting Bush out of office because “life’s too short to be playing with this fucking shit,” was fantastic. Most of the crowd roared in approval, but seeing a few Republicans shake their heads in disgust was super amusing.
  • Before you think I’d like just about any ol’ band that can play an energetic show for three hours and make me feel good while doing so, let me say that DBT have the musical skills to merit a performance of this length. They have three (well, maybe 2.5) talented singer/songwriters, three excellent guitarists that can alternately rock or strum as needed, and a drum-and-bass team that, while not overwhelmingly amazing, is certainly a dynamic force. Yeah, quality stuff.
  • This hard-working and gifted band is still on the road, so check out their tour dates to see if they’re going to be in your neighborhood. And then buy a ticket and a comfy lawn chair, and prepare to be thoroughly entertained for hours by one of the best rock bands in existence. Yup, you heard me right. Told ya I was converted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Good Old U.S. of Gay

A rather humorous site that shows the ridiculous nature of anti-gay rhetoric, in the context of the election.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

An Imperfect Diamond

I love baseball - a lot. In fact, I love baseball more than most things in this world (obvious exceptions being family, friends, my cat, etc.). At this point, I may even love baseball more than men's professional tennis since the Humble Master of that sport, Pete Sampras, made his graceful exit.

There are an infinite number of things to love about baseball:
  • the fun lingo (balks, bang-bang play, can of corn, Mendoza line, painting the black, on the screws, basket catch - the list goes on...)
  • the endless, unnecessary, mind-numbingly in-depth statistics
  • the unique angles of every individual MLB stadium
  • the excitement felt during a developing no-hitter or perfect game
  • the sheer number of games MLB teams play each year, with most of them demonstrating heart through the end of the season, even when they have no shot of making the playoffs
  • that ball that bounced off of Jose Canseco's head into the stands that one time (wish it had happened more)
  • ...again, the list could go on forever
And baseball has offered some truly beautiful and agonizing moments (the four that follow are, obviously, personal recollections of sheer joy or defeat):
But, you know what? I also hate baseball. And the closing innings of today's Red Sox/Yankees game was the perfect incarnation of all the repulsive aspects of the game. No, the petty disputes didn't devolve into another raucus brawl (mostly due to the responsible and effective work of the umpiring crew), but it was disturbingly vile nonetheless.

Apparently, Lofton had exchanged words with Mientkiewicz at first base earlier in the game, so Astacio felt the childish need to throw at Kenny. He missed once, feigned that he was a REAL baseball player for one more pitch, then repeated his first unsuccessful plunking attempt. He was tossed - and deservedly so. Both teams received warnings. Fast forward to the bottom of the inning - Dave Roberts is nearly drilled in the skull by Halsey's first pitch of the half inning. Benches clear, Halsey and Torre are ejected - again deservedly so.

If you were watching the game on ESPN2, you heard the utterly inane commentary by a couple dweebs, whose names are escaping my memory, following these events. These aforementioned dweebs essentially implied that this ugliness was simply a "part of the game." (They may have moderated that claim with the adjective "unfortunate.") They also implied that baseball fans should expect this type of macho, eye-for-an-eye retribution bullshit.

Well, I'm sorry, but no. Throwing a ball 90 miles per hour at someone's head was never in the minds of early players of various incarnations of this beautiful sport. I've never read the entire MLB rulebook, but I will pledge allegiance forever to the Evil Empire that is the Yankees if there is a byline somewhere stipulating that it is perfectly acceptable behavior for a pitcher to nail an opposing hitter if he feels this player has committed some small affront against one of his teammates or himself. The MLB playing field is home to too many amazing feats of athleticism to also be home to such a "you-stole-my-cookie-so-now-I-throw-a-Lego-at-you" attitude.

The fact that this attitude all-too-often prevails does not, my dear baseball commentators, solidify it as "part of the game." As journalists, they should be ashamed to sanction the asinine behavior of individual idiots by normalizing it in such a way. They tarnish the sport and look like fools while doing it. (To be fair, these two particular commentators aren't the sole targets of this rant; I hear commentators make the argument about pitchers needing to "protect" their teammates or "defend their team's honor" by throwing at the opposing team all of the time. And you know what? Those guys are idiots too.)

If the Sox and Yankees do end up meeting in the 2004 ALCS - and my hope is for nothing else in the world - all signs point to this intense and awesome rivalry resulting in another brawl. Will baseball fans expect it? Yes. Should they have to? God, no.

I'm not sure when this brute, troglodyte mentality became so prevalent in the game - or maybe I'm wrong and it's always been there - but it is not part of the baseball game that I know and love that leads to tears and screams of alternately joy and agony; that captivates entire cities during certain series or playoff games; that inspires millions of boys and girls around the world to pester their parents for their first baseball mitts. No. This behavior is the result of players' kneejerk reactions to tense situations that are based on the arcane cultural expectations about the proper demonstration of masculine loyalty through violence. I'm guessing this shit makes a lot of honorable baseball players roll over in their graves, and it absolutely makes me want to vomit to see such a thing of beauty made ugly by a bunch of guys striving to fit into society's male cookie cutter. least the Sox won. The game wasn't a complete waste.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Vote Your (Red) Conscience

Minnesota favorites The Soviettes are in the running for Punk Radio Cast's Top 40 Sunday Count Down. Your vote could make the difference. They're currently in 18th place, so take advantage of the one daily vote you're allowed to push 'em up a little higher. Come on, give the kids some love.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Around the Horn

  • I can't believe this is my first post to mention either Kristin Hersh or Throwing Muses, yet my archives shamefully reveal that to be the case. My motivation for today's post was the discovery of this interview with Kristin (at Junkmedia) about the music industry and her new band, 50 Foot Wave. She has some awesome insights into the money-grubbingness of the biz, due to her own Muses financially-challenged experiences, and also continues to surprise (well, me, at least) with her unrelenting attraction to the domestic life. [NOTE: If the links to the ThrowingMusic website don't work, you may have to navigate around it yourself to see the bios for KH, TM, and 50'~. All apologies, but, really, how lazy are you?]

  • Check out New Patriot, an exciting new site created by a group of leftist Minnesota bloggers, where the posting's already been fast and furious three days into its existence.

  • And, given my post title, there's got to be a baseball story included, so celebrate with me now the most recent Red Sox victory over Oakland.

Friday, September 03, 2004

A Glass Shield

After spouting about the disastrous conclusion to the Kobe Bryant trial to my friends and housemates for a couple days now, I decided it would be worthwhile to back up my wild-eyed, teeth-gnashing, fear-inspiring orations with some actual knowledge of Rape Shield Laws.

Before I get into the policy wonk discussion, though, let me make something clear. I don't claim to know whether or not Bryant is guilty or innocent of the rape charges. That, my friends, is not the point. The point is that the woman who filed the charges should have been guaranteed fair treatment under Colorado's Rape Shield Law, which entitles her to some privacy and protection regarding unearthing her past sexual history.

Due to some reprehensible failings of the judicial system, the accuser was not, in fact, protected. Her name and past sexual history were not only discussed in court, but they were also "inadvertently" released to the media and made fodder for anyone who damn well wanted to discuss it.

This unconscionable behavior led one rape victim advocate to state, "I feel like we have stepped back in time 30 years, back to a time when confidentiality was not guaranteed and when the victim's sex life was up for scrutiny."

Indeed, a 2003 summary of Rape Shield Laws by the American Prosecutors Research Institute indicates that, on the face of it, Colorado's law wasn't all bad. According to the actual text of Colorado's law, (also courtesy of an APRI compilation of Rape Shield Laws):

(1) Evidence of specific instances of the victim's or a witness' prior or subsequent sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim's or a witness' sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim's or a witness' sexual conduct shall be presumed to be irrelevant except:
(a) Evidence of the victim's or witness' prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the actor;
(b) Evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were or were not committed by the defendant.

While we can get into debates over how point (a) creates complications for women who wish to make rape charges against their husbands, I don't want to debate that point now. What's really shocking to me, and what completes the full mocking of the law by the defense attorneys, is that Bryant's accuser was forced to discuss her sexual history during a period that covered up to a year before she said she was raped. Obviously, any of those sexual encounters would not have been relevant to semen or other evidence of sexual intercourse from the day of or the day after the alleged rape. And, as far as I know, the woman was not claiming that the alleged rape resulted in a pregnancy or an STD, so what the f**k?

And let's not even get into how her name was "leaked" and how she will forever be known as dear Kobe's accuser.

So this is what an apparently "strong" rape shield law will get you - the opportunity to be internationally known as the woman who accused a beloved, talented athlete, as well as the - lucky you! - chance to describe in detail every sexual encounter you've had in the past year. I can't even imagine how rape victims who live in, say, Kentucky and Louisiana, feel. Their states' laws allow evidence to be regarded as admissible if "the probative value of the evidence outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice." What sweet language to describe a process in which, more likely than not, a man is going to decide the balance between "probative value" and "unfair prejudice."

If you don't believe there's an institutional bias against women in the legal system, then I strongly suggest you read Martha Chamallas' Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory. Or, just pick up your local newspaper and read about the outcome of the Bryant trial.

Or about the already nauseating discussions taking place in the media about the new accusations against William Kennedy Smith. Yeah, you just try to explain to a patriarchal legal system how you can be raped by a man and then have a consensual sexual relationship with him following the rape. I'm not admitting there's an absolute logic in the actions of a woman who would behave in such a way, but who are we to decide what is regarded as logical to any other person? And, as far as I understand it, the legal system isn't the arbiter of who's-more-logical-in-their-behavior award contests. Courts are supposed to uphold the law, and it is clear that the Colorado courts failed miserably. Don't hold your breath for Illinois' to perform any better.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"It's obviously embarrassing."

And pretty freakin' cool. 22-0. Isn't that a football score? Not that I'm feeling all confident about the Division, or even the Wild Card, but this loss made me very, very happy.

Worst loss in Yankees history!

And Dan Shaughnessy on last night's Bronx dive and what it means for the Sox.

Friday, August 27, 2004

My Favorite Gambit - Crescendo

Yes, there is in fact a National Rock Paper Scissors Championship taking place in DC this weekend. So, brush up on these gambits and head on down to DC9 tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Continuation of the Live Girls Series

I can't personally vouch for Michelle Tea's collection of stories, Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, since I haven't read it yet, but I bet it's damn good.

[I wonder how many people will link to this post after googling "live girls"...]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Falling in Love with Texas_Charmer2000

Take this NARAL quiz to see which scary neo-conservative freak is your Mr./Ms. Wrong.

Monday, August 23, 2004

No Room for Poverty

"In the midst of the Presidential election and a potentially divisive political climate, we have an excellent chance to unite the nation and work together to eradicate poverty. Our feeling is that poverty is no one's fault but everyone's fight and, to that end, we encourage the presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, to support our rally and agree to convene a White House Conference on American Poverty."

-Derrick Span, national president of Community Action Partnership

Friday, August 20, 2004

Oui, ils sont des toxicos

Yes, yes, last night's show at the Black Cat featuring Les Sans Culottes and Asobi Seksu was fun and entertaining - and the music was fine and dandy too. In lieu of an attempt at constructive analysis of their sets, here are five highlights from the evening:

  1. A pre-set slice of vegan carrot cake from Food for Thought, a cute veggie-friendly café housed at the Black Cat. The perfect amount of thinly sliced carrot shreds and a satisfyingly dense batter sandwiched between sweetened-with-sucrose frosting. Combined with a bite of Jon's vegan blueberry pie and a previous experience with their vegan chocolate cake, the carrot concoction convinced me of this place's dessert genius.
  2. While Yuki is clearly the lead stage presence in Asobi Seksu, I was more intrigued by James Hanna on vocals and guitar and Keith Hopkin on drums (see #3). Hanna's laid-back vocal stylings were used infrequently, but oh so effectively. Plus, the boy looked like he should be rocking out alone in his basement to Black Sabbath rather than almost-fronting a bilingual pop-rock band, which made me smile.
  3. Keith Hopkin - I've always been fascinated by drummers and Hopkin certainly did not disappoint. He stared at his kit so intently, you'd think he had some sheet music taped to his snare. Also, his arm antics and open-mouthed gleeful expressions reminded me of a high school friend's drumming personality, which was a pleasant memory.
  4. Cal d'hommage - my favorite member of the underwear-less ensemble. Again prone to hokey, I'm-having-so-much-fun facial expressions, Cal was an entertaining and dynamic guitarist - with a nice striped sailor shirt and impish smile to boot.
  5. LSC's great cover of "Ces bottes (sont fait pour marcher)" - ["These boots (are made for walking)" for you non-francophiles]. I still have Nancy's voice running through my head.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Axis of Eve

Ahhh...sheer irreverance for a very worthy cause. I love it.

Support the Axis of Eve here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Humor's Edge

Last year I watched an excellent documentary on the various depictions of Geraldine Ferraro in editorial cartoons during her VP candidacy in 1984 - Running Mate: Gender and Politics in the Editorial Cartoons. The film also discussed the implications of having an appallingly low number of women editorial cartoonists on the content and slant of most editorial newspaper pages around the country.

Luckily, there are some fantastic women cartoonists who are seeking to overcome the masculinist tradition of their profession, including Ann Telnaes, whose works are currently being shown in a Library of Congress exhibit. Some of my favorites in the exhibit:

And especially this one: We Reject Legalizing Same Sex Unions--

Additionally, Telnaes and five other women cartoonists collaborate on Six Chix, a syndicated cartoon for which each woman contributes a strip for her respective day of the week. While some styles and topic areas of several of the cartoonists are certainly more interesting than the others, it is a unique venture nonetheless.

And just for kicks, you can check out the National Cartoonists Society's Women's Cartoon Index.

One last note: Signe Wilkinson, who is not part of Six Chix, is another awesome female political cartoonist and provides some excellent insight and analysis as an interviewee in the Running Mate documentary. She also offers an opinion on the state of women and cartooning here.

So here's a call for any woman with greater artistic skills than my own [which essentially consist of drawing spirals and making collages] to grab some materials and start some paper and ink Bush-bashing.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Womyn's Music 101

A great article from Z Mag on women, feminism, and music. From the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival to Righteous Babe Records to The Butchies and Mr. Lady, the article provides a stellar summary of what some pretty freaking cool women have been up to while intersecting the worlds of rock-and-roll and feminism.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A Relationship Between the Eye and the Heart

I don't know much about photography, but I do know that the recent death of Henri Cartier-Bresson is a loss for all who admire and study art and photography.

Being a sucker for black and white pictures of Paris, I'm drawn to his photos for purely uninformed, basic, aesthetic reasons. Though I am also frequently struck and impressed by the seemingly spontaneous nature of his photos - see "Behind the Gare St. Lazare" below.

I was fortunate enough to see a 2000 exhibit of another photographic legend - Brassaï - at Le Centre Pompidou, a building which is a work of art in its own right. His images, including "Brouillard, Avenue L'Observatoire" [below], simply define Paris at night.

I'm not sure who would have come out on top if Cartier-Bresson had had a tête-à-tête with Brassaï, but one thing is certain - their combined portfolios present an amazing photographic history of Paris during a certain era.

A Wheelchair for Little Draggin' Bear

Yet another fun cat link. How dare they publish this story without a picture?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Pass the Flashlight; There's a Banana in My Ear

OK - I don't really need a flashlight to unearth a banana from my ear canal. Those are just the names of two tracks from the latest super-kinetic release from Minneapolis woman-led punk band The Soviettes - who I was lucky enough to see in concert at Black Cat last night.

Now, the first time I saw the Soviettes was a month and a half ago at First Ave. in Minneapolis, when my move to DC was impending in a frighteningly in-my-face way. Needless to say, I not only enjoyed their set that night, but they also became one of the symbols of the whole transition thing I was going through. So, the fact that they came to DC to play a show made the nice little circle semi-complete.

Following up an energetic and entertaining set by The Loved Ones [click here for a review of a June show TLO played at Black Cat that suits last night's show to a tee], the Soviettes rocked a small, but devoted, crowd of fans. [Apparently half of whom have lived in Minneapolis at some point, judging from the "woohoo"'s that followed Susy's announcement that they were a band from that city.]

The music was as intensely fun as at the First Ave. show - highlights included my current fave "Matt's Song," as well as some raucus cuts from their new album: "Ten," "Angel A," "Channel X," and "Don't Say No." One of the coolest aspects of this band is that everyone genuinely gets into the act; or, as they say on both full-length CDs, "everybody sings." Some of the songs that induced the greatest amount of floor-stomping and head-shaking were the ones that featured a call-and-response between one band member and the rest. For example, "Ten," which entails most of the band screaming out digits while one singer provides a list of 10 very particular reasons to love someone. And "Pass the Flashlight," which is a classic gals-answering-the-guy tune, was incredibly fun live. The track off of Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1, "Paranoia! Cha-cha-cha," also energized the crowd.

I was so pumped, I bought LP and LP II and have been listening to them all day at work, though at sinfully low volumes so as to not disturb less punk-loving co-workers. The albums are great and contain songs about politics ("There's a Banana in My Ear" and "Winning Is for Losers"), the media ("Channel X" and "The Land of Clear Blue Radio"), and love ("Matt's Song," "Love Song," "Tonight") that are effective and remarkably subtle and un-cheesy. Oh yeah, and super rockin' and fun.

Another positive aspect - all four 'Ettes seemed to be enjoying themselves and played two extra songs to please some rowdy, happy fans. And if you're interested in their bodily reactions to playing such an amped-up set, let's just say there was less need for sweat-wicking than at the First Ave. show, especially Sturgeon, who had redefined the meaning of *sweaty* in Minneapolis on June 13th.

My three housemates enjoyed the show, but I have to admit it was less fun being with folks who had never heard the music before, and at least one of whom is hesitant about listening to anything harder than Sleater-Kinney, than being with a real fan, as was the case with the First Ave. show. Which is why the circle was only semi-completed.

Taking words from "Her Neon Heart":
In the city, people live.
They take in all she has
To give, and breathing
Out they breathe life
In - So the cycle starts

While this is true, it's becoming increasingly clear that each city has its own unique cycle, and seeing a band that hails from one locale won't exactly transport you there. Though you'll come close.

Gallo Unfair

Check out the new website dedicated to the cause of Gallo of Sonoma workers who have been working without a labor contract for nine months now. Not only is it informative, but the site also has an amusing animated parody of Matt and Gina Gallo.

Oh, hey, and while you're in the mood for reading about justice-seekers, check out this article about environmental [in]justice with respect to impoverished neighborhoods.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Mum's the Word

Everything you ever wanted to know about the flow here.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Positions I Like

Last night I headed to DC9 to check out two bands with which I am not at all familiar - Essex Green and The Ladybug Transistor.  Due to the unfortunate late start of the entire show, I missed TLT completely and only saw the first two songs of EG's set.  Which turned out okay by me because EG was utterly morose throughout the entire setting up process, as well as during the first two songs that I stuck around for. 

Now, I'm not necessarily saying they're not an enjoyable band - from seeing them perform two songs (without their regular drummer to boot), it would be unfair of me to make that claim.  I just got the impression that they were not a happy crew last night and that it would not have been an all too pleasant experience to see them go through the motions of a performance.

Especially after seeing a surprisingly fantastic local band - The Positions!!!  They were actually happy and seemed to be enjoying each other's company and - hey! - the fact that they're in a band together!  They created a really great vibe and Nicole Stoops's voice was perfect for the classic pop sound provided by the rest of the cast.  The addition of Chris Guryan's trombone topped it all off nicely.  [Or was that my Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale that provided the happiness?]