Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Top 10 Reasons Why George W. Bush is Responsible for My Drunken State

10. He immediately invoked a true American hero, Coretta Scott King.

9. He severely altered my understanding of world geography -- is the world really only composed of the United States and the Middle East?

8. I'm extremely nervous now that terrorists like bin Laden may "seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world" or "murder children in Beslan." Boy, that bin Laden sure gets around!

7. I have to re-think my whole life philosophy, as I always thought there was peace and honor in retreat.

6. I am wracking my brain trying to identify the "appropriate members of Congress."

5. He made me fucking scared about U.S. dependency on natural resources from other countries, especially from the Middle East. But, see, I thought in 2003 our fair nation was responsible for 20 percent of the world's production of natural gas. I'd tell you the most current figures for crude oil too, but that page seems to be conveniently absent from the online PDF version of the Statistical Abstract. You'll have to be satisfied with the 2000 figure, when the U.S. was third in the world in crude oil production.

4. I hadn't realized we were only allowing immigrants into the U.S. to take shitty jobs that "real" American's didn't want. Now I have to shift my support away from immigrants' rights to drivers licenses, public education, and welfare benefits.

3. He appears to consider the existence of 45.8 million uninsured Americans to be an adequate "meeting the responsibility" of providing health care for the poor and the elderly. Especially when 24.3 percent of people with incomes below $25,000 were uninsured, I fail to see how Americans are meeting said responsibility. Get me a drink.

2. He credits the reduction in abortions in this country to "support for abstinence and adoption," when every sensible person knows that abstinence-only education is a farce that is harmful to teens' sexuality. The Guttmacher Institute (and Henry Waxman) have demonstrated the falsity of information that is meted out by the nation's most popular abstinence programs. Uh, maybe the decline in abortions is due to more responsible use of birth control, or perhaps to the horrendous lack of abortion providers in certain parts of the country? (Yeah, only 13 percent of counties in the United States are home to doctors who provide abortion services.)

1. My ears will never recover from hearing Bush utter the word "rostrum." Vaguely sexual, vaguely school-marmish, it disturbed me to no end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ring Around the Collar

I usually find Jacob Reitan's "Faith in Action" columns in Lavender hokey and boring. But his recent interview with Father Bob Pierson -- the priest who resigned his position as Campus Minister at St. John's University following the Vatican's pronouncement on gay priests -- was actually quite interesting, though mostly due to Pierson's logical responses.

I don’t think that it is healthy for young men, or young women for that matter, to run away from their sexuality. My concern would be that if people start doing that to embrace their sense of religious vocation, we are going to end up with lots of unhealthy celibates, because they are not dealing with their sexuality properly.

Nice that Pierson's finally becoming disillusioned with the Church's approach to sexuality. Wonder why the Church's approach to women didn't get to him first.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bigger than Roe

As if Alito's potential (and likely) threat to Roe v Wade weren't enough to make any feminist squirm, his other prior decisions demonstrate that he is a threat to much more than women's right to bear -- or not to bear -- tykes. He has proven to be less than supportive of race and sex discrimination claims on the job (Sheridan v E.I. Dupont De Nemours and Company; Bray v. Marriott Hotels); and apparently isn't so fond of the FMLA (Chittister v Department of Community and Economic Development). See the National Women's Law Center Alito Report for the full sordid details.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sufjan and M.I.A. Be Damned

In writing last year’s Top 10 Albums, I claimed, “I don’t have it in my blood to put anybody above Kristin Hersh.” Well, this year’s list proves that my blood has been slightly tainted over the past year: two albums actually out-ranked 50 Foot Wave’s 2005 release Golden Ocean. And they weren't Sufjan Stevens and M.I.A.

1. Martha WainwrightS/T
Martha’s long been lost in the crowd that is her talented family. Singing back-up for Rufus and the McGarrigles aren’t bad gigs, sure, but her B.M.F.A. EP and sporadic one-woman performances at Rufus shows indicated that she was after something more. With this debut full-length, she went out and snatched the spotlight by the ovaries. It’s been pointed out that some of her lyrics need work. I agree. But even with some lackluster wordsmithing, this is still the best album released in 2005. From the beautiful songwriting of “Far Away” and “Who Was I Kidding?” to the searing bite of “Factory” and “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole,” this album fucking rules. Little bro’s gonna have to pull a big one out of his hat to top his sis next go 'round.

2. Sleater-KinneyThe Woods
Am I biased towards The Woods because this is the first S-K album that I’ve purchased within even a year of its release date? Am I biased towards it because I finally saw them live this year and nearly exploded with excitement and love afterwards? Is that why I rank it so high despite bizarrely widespread distaste for the “direction the band has taken”? Hell no, I ain’t biased towards anything. The Woods is rocking - coming through stereo speakers or live in concert - and that shouldn’t scare anyone off. Blast the album, sing along with Carrie to “Modern Girl,” and be happy. I know I am.

3. 50 Foot WaveGolden Ocean
Ah, the inevitable Kristin Hersh appearance. Infinitely re-playable for sure, but Golden Ocean’s basically a simmering expansion of last year’s six-song EP, which is why I couldn’t rank it higher. Still, “Long Painting” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard and the rest of the album is blisteringly punky with Kristin’s unmistakable voice topping everything off.

4. The Go! TeamThunder, Lightning, Strike
Technically a 2004 release, but an expanded version was released in the U.S. in 2005, so I’m keeping it in. Pure, unadulterated dance-joy. For more, check out my earlier review.

5. Antony and the JohnsonsI Am a Bird Now
Like Macy Gray’s voice, Antony’s is one that either grates on your nerves or makes you praise whichever sperm and egg came together to help mold those vocal chords. Obviously, I belong to the sperm-and-egg-praising group. Filled with stellar guest appearances (including Lou Reed and Mr. Wainwright, yet again), Antony leaves no doubt as to whose album it really is. Special thanks to Hot Doorknobs for letting me borrow it initially. Thankfully, I now have my own copy, so I don’t have to travel to Brooklyn to listen to it.

6. Detroit CobrasBaby
One of the most fun live bands around (see #7 for another one), this album is great at communicating their live energy and sass. “I Wanna Holler,” “It’s Raining,” and “The Real Thing” are particularly fantastic. And stick around for the attached Seven Easy Pieces EP featuring the rambunctious “99 and a Half Just Won’t Do.”

7. Old Time Relijun2012
This album kicks off with two heart-stopping tracks -- "Chemical Factory" and "Los Angeles" -- and only gives you a couple songs thereafter that are tame (or ridiculous) enough to get it started again. Those there being filled with saxophonic squawks and mouth organ dilly-dallying. Skip those, love the rest.

8. Kate and Anna McGarrigleThe McGarrigle Christmas Hour
What, a Christmas album? Damn straight. Now that the presents have been opened, I’ve tucked this one back on the shelf. But guaranteed in mid-January I’ll be pulling it out again so I can hear the beautiful opening track, “Seven Joys of Mary,” or Martha’s fantastically bitter “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” Extra cheers for the traditional French carol medley, “Il est né/ça bergers,” which brought back some bizarre pew-seated memories. And never have I enjoyed “Blue Christmas” more than Chaim Tannenbaum’s (??) version.

9. Juliana HatfieldMade in China
Boy, does the title of this album's opening track aptly describe Juliana -- "New Waif." She is certainly scarily tiny now. But she still knows how to elicit some big sound out of that guitar of hers. Not my favorite album of the year (right, it's #9, see), but I definitely dig it. Especially "What Do I Care": "What the fuck?/It's a miracle I'm even here" and "My Pet Lion": "I got tricks to keep me in line...Like sitting on my hands." Is there something you're trying to tell us, Juliana?

10. The FallFall Heads Roll
No, this isn’t just a dutiful nod to Mark’s favorite band. This album truly is great. Well, at least it definitely has some great tunes ("Pacifying Joint" and "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" for sure), with a minimum amount of Mark E Smith squealing, and a maximum amount of his rad lyrics and sneers. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy his swaggering nonchalance throughout "Ride Away"? "Uh hey hey!"

Honorable mentions: The SoviettesLP III; The Hold SteadySeparation Sunday; The PositionsBliss. And a special congrats to Rufus Wainwright who appears on three of these albums, none of which are his. That’s gotta be worth something.

Happy New Year's, y'all.