Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Musings

Keith Marler has wrought his wintery man-grief upon our roadways. The Memphis Tigers worked the MSU Spartans like Monica Belucci in a Paris subway. Everything is sadness. Let's muse.

Recently caught the film "In the Valley of Elah". It was all well and good, though it devolves into rote police procedural toward the end. That said, I wonder when Iraq War veterans are going to begin challenging the assertion that all soldiers are meth-addicted psychopaths who drown their pets.

I understand that war is hard, and filmmakers are quick to blame it all on their perception of the senselessness of the war, but Hollywood's treatment of our armed servicemen is condescending and insulting. If you perceive me as a person who cannot discern the difference between my only son and an enemy combtant, I could care less about how you derived your conclusion.
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I stand corrected: Barack Obama did give, generously, of his time and money from 2000-2004. It's just that he was too noble to take a tax deduction for it. There is no reason to question this assertion, as his followers certainly are not. Everything about Obama is fantastic and hopeful. I'm embarrassed to even have brought it up.

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Boom!

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Has anyone seen lolcats? Aren't they awesome and funny. I iz in your refriger8or, eatin you cheezburger. Ha, ha, ha... So fun. I'm going to only blog about this from now on.

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So Melodyne, a software company that makes pitch correction software, has invented a technology that can tune a chord. In other words, if you play a collection of varying pitches onto the same track, the software can discern each individual note, and your producer can monkey with the pitch, volume, timbre of that one note. In the past, ProTools and its contemporaries could only handle one pitch per track.

What does this mean for music? Well, given that there is no longer any concrete incentive to get things right, bands will be able to record tracks much more quickly. Timbaland and other star producers can assign the rote pitch correction to lackeys, and essentially rewrite the material once a rought cut is made, exhibit absolute control over the product (get ready for auto-tuned acoustic guitar action) and generally churn out more product. So all pop music will sounds the same.

Your neighbor's garage band will produce a recorded product that is essentially indistinguishable from a seasoned pro group utilizing the same producer. The only variable will be how much lackey time a band can afford to pay for. In the near future, every Minnesota band will be from Wayzata. I can't wait. Thank you, Melodyne.

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And don't get me started on what this means for a cappella. Oh, you weren't? Yeah, probably not, huh?


I will vanquish you Marler!

Um, for the weather, not for Melodyne, which would be absurd.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hopeface McScrooge

Recently, Obama made a shrewd political move. This stands to reason, as one could argue that Barack Obama is, himself, a shrewd political move. Obama's campaign released he and Michelle's tax returns, and almost immediately called on the other candidates to do the same, as though they were suddenly evasive for not having done so in accordance with Obama's timeline.

This clever rouse diverted attention from the most glaring feature of Obama's tax returns. Between the years of 2000-2004, the Obamas gave less than one percent of their dual six-figure incomes to charity. Now, what Obama gives to charity is his business. There is no legal requirement to give to the poor.

But shouldn't someone who spent a considerable portion of his insipid book yammering about the importance of God, the Bible and his church have, I dunno... Obeyed God and the Bible by giving to his church? Shouldn't someone who touts Christ's vision for restoring justice to the poor put his money where his mouth is, especially before asking the same of the American people?

Let's this in perspective. In spite of the fact that we were victims of a mortgage scam, a lawsuit, knee surgery and job loss, my wife and I managed to give more last year than the Obamas gave in four years combined. And I assure you we don't make $250k per year. A number of my friends have made comparable financial sacrifices.

This again would be completely fine if Barack Obama were not proposing to engage in fireside chats to address the need for "social justice" (a bastardized term if ever there was one). It might not be noteworthy were it not part of a larger trend. In both real dollars and in proportion to income, Conservatives give substantially more then liberals.

Naturally, liberals are dismissive of this fact, and charity in general. Religious Democrat party consultant Jim Wallis decries participation in food shelves as canned compassion, while lauding attempts to create social justice in the voting booth. Other's dismiss conservative charity as simply offerings in the church basket. Obama, on the other hand, gives to the Congressional Black Caucus. Altruism at it's finest. Save the whales, good. Save the soul, bad.

But there remains an inherent hypocrisy in leveraging compassion to advance a political agenda when one does not otherwise exhibit that same compassion. If one believes that government ought to provide for the poor by redistributing income from the wealthy, and he or she happens to be wealthy yourself, there is no tenable reason to withhold charity.

Before I come off as a pompous ass (too late?), I should note that a number of my friends have made similar financial sacrifices. You know what we don't do? Slap preachy bumper stickers on our cars and hold contrived race conversations over lemon-herb chicken. As is the case with many conservatives, we give out of obedience to the God Barack Obama pretends to worship.

Canned compassion indeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wanna get high?

Hey, American College Students... Do you quimby? Do you rock the circuit? Do you knick the knee?

You wanna get high?




Hey, don't worry. I'm a chill guy. It's part of growing up, getting just straight up high with bloggers. You will appreciate this time you have with me, American College Students.

Alright, that's the academic spirit. I think this will be fun. We can do all the crazy things that American College Students almost certainly do. Smashing windows. Prank-calling hair salons. Division I sports.

Let's huff some Hemingway (I think you know what I mean, American College Students) go to the student center and spill coffee all over the ping-pong table!


Wow. I have to admit I did not expect a predominantly Asian turnout for this. But that's what being an America College Students is about, right? I'm learning so much about myself... And I'm totally fried. This is the best of both worlds.

This is wonderful. I think I may attend Bennington College in the fall. It will be $39,000 well spent.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Musings

It's Monday and the Spartans are still in the tourney. Good enough for me, let's hate on stuff...

Apparently, I am not the only one who things Barack Obama would be better as a dessert.



They wanted to introduce a flavor for Jeremiah Wright as well, but "fruitcake flambe" didn't focus group well. This is a coup for Obama, though. What better way to reach overweight white women while they're feeling guilty and sad?

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I don't normally plug other blogs (I like to think I render them obsolete), but do visit Garfield Minus Garfield if you have the time. It's appeal is both readily apparent and difficult to articulate, so I'll leave you to it, except to say that I think it reveals something about Jim Davis' talent.

Embedded in his three-frame cliches is a genuinely funny, desperately sad character. It is the need for a punchline, combined with an antiquated concept of wit, that so often drives the strip into the doldrums. Underneath the genre, we find a lonely, dystopic, vision of humanity that is brutally funny. Take away the cute cat, and there is something decidedly not okay about the whole thing.

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Speaking of Hopeface (as I will often be caught doing over the next several months), his campaign in some rather non-post-political behavior this weekend. First, an Obama advisor said that Hillary is a flawed person who lacks the character to serve in the White House. Another compared Bill Clinton to Joseph McCarthy. Nice.

Meanwhile, Obama is just a nice man who attends a screwy church for political reasons and lies about it. And those are his positive traits... Glass houses, people.

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Kwame Kilpatrick, the lowlife mayor of Detroit, has finally been arrested for one of his many crimes. None of that is half is depressing as the fact that he proposed to sell city parks in order to settle a lawsuit against him. What is interesting is that Kilpatrick, elected at age 31, was once considered a fresh face for Detroit. He was a bit of an unknown quantity, but offered a can-do message of hope. Then, when his reputation was on the line, he played the race card.

He doesn't remind me of anyone, and we cannot learn a lesson from his example that might be applied to other scenarios. No we can't.

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Sports rant. I am tired of college basketball games ending with one player simply running into the lane, crashing into bodies, and earning a foul. This isn't the fifth grade. End sports rant.

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Headline on the torch lighting ceremony, which was disrupted by protesters upset with China's copious record of human rights transgressions. "Protesters mar Torch Lighting". Really? They marred it? Would they ever say that about, say, the protesters who are sure to descend upon the Republican convention?

Liu Qi, the Beijing games chief, had this to say.

"The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world,"

Um, yeah, that's why they wanted to keep it from being lit.

"It is always sad to see such a ceremony disrupted," International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge told reporters.

It is? And what a name, Jacques Rogge. Sounds like the name of a thief is one of thsoe cheesy 1970s diamond-heist movies. No, Mr. Rogge, what is sad is that your committee chose a country that murders its own people to host the Olympic games. Sad doesn't begin to cover it.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Marital nihilism in the 21st century

Khris: Kevman make it in OK?

Kevin: I almost hit a pole.

Khris. That’s no good. I forgot I haven't spent my birthday money yet. I don't recall buying anything new for myself yet. I should still have my $100 to spend on me.

Kevin: I never spent my money either.

Khris: Yes you did. You went to movies and bought tennis shoes.


Kevin: I have $145 left, I think.


Khris: No, you got $100 for your birthday not $200. You bought shoes and went to at least three movies.


Kevin: It is tough to contend with these details. I think I have $200.


Khris: No! We each got $100 for our birthdays. The money I deposited included money for a gift for us together and that was the vaccum. I got $100 for my birthday. They would not give you more than me.


Kevin: That can’t be true. We never bought a vacuum.


Khris: I am getting it this weekend. My mom wrote the check out to me and I deposited in our account. I remeber what she said it was for - the amts broken down. I will ask her again today if you'd like. I am right.


Kevin: Sounds like shady accounting. Besides, I never saw any movies.


Khris: If you want me to dig up old movie tickets, you probably have them around the house. I am correct.


Kevin: I thought we were pooling our birthday money to buy a rare kitten.


Khris: As long as it’s not hairless.


Kevin: Didn’t you see Barack Obama’s speech? We are transcending hair, I think, as a nation. Can I have $6?


Khris: Maybe the Easter Bunny will bring you money. You also bought clothes.


Kevin: I don’t have any clothes.


Khris: You have some, but I agree you could use more.


Kevin: Now is the time for t-shirts with clowns on them!


Khris: What will your co-workers think?


Kevin: That I appreciate clowns ironically. So my hopes rest now with an apocryphal rabbit? Any chance he will bring me cave-aged cheese?


Khris: Depends on where the bunny shops.


Kevin: The rabbit is hellbound.


Khris: Calm down. the easter bunny is nice. He is no relation to the ones that eat your garden.

Kevin:



Khris: Now that's one scary rabbit.

Kevin: This is what I've been trying to tell you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hopeface McRace

So, now that I have had the chance to digest Obama’s speech, which his supporters are literally calling the greatest speech ever given on race (thus demonstrating the limits of their own capacity for perspective), I offer my obligatory thoughts.

More than anything, the speech was extremely long. At 5,000 words, the thing reads like a treatise, minus any sort of details that might constitute a treatise. The speech was generally received very favorably, which stands to reason insofar as it said nothing that anyone could conceivably deny. Race has been a problem, and continues to be, but it’s gotten better, and Obama is multi-racial. Got it.

Headlines cite the allegedly blunt nature of the speech. It was not a blunt speech, for were it so, it would have offended some. Unless you are Geraldine Ferraro (you reap what you sow, lady) or Obama’s (deceased) grandmother, you walked away from that speech inspired.

Barack Obama’s possesses the valuable ability to cast banalities as “straight talk”. Obama asks us to applaud his political courage for refusing to let this issue “fade into the woodwork”, as though any politically aware person thinks that was an option. He honestly reflects that slavery once divided this nation, as though that particular piece of information forcing anyone to re-evaluate their sense of history.

When McCain helmed the “Straight Talk Express” in 2000, he offered quite a few banalities, yes, but also some fierce rhetoric, codified by action, with very real political consequences. It cost him endorsements and, absurdly, commenced a lavish tongue-bathing upon a certain moderate Mormon. McCain will lose votes because of his straight talk. Compared to McCain, Obama is as blunt as a plastic bag. I can’t wait to see what SNL does with this.

The real genius of Obama’s speech, however, was that he managed to turn a political negative into an opportunity to discuss race. By addressing the obscene rhetoric of a fruitcake (while carefully pretending he knew nothing about it), Obama provided a platform to interject racial reconciliation into the Democratic primary. As an added bonus, he gets to pretend that Reagan conservatives are standing in the way.

This was a brilliant coup. If this race is about reconciliation, how can a racial hybrid possibly lose? But wait a minute. One week ago, weren’t Americans worried about things like, I dunno, war and the economy? On March 1, who woke up thinking “wow, race relations are really not where I’d hoped they’d be”.

Indeed, the objection to Wright had nothing whatsoever to do with race. The most disturbing tirade, in which Wright asked God to damn America days after 9/11, was more about allegiance to Israel. Wright could have been a giant emu and the issue would have stuck. Wright’s appeals are scary because they are, essentially, all we know about Obama. Such is the life of a candidate without a platform.

And, guess what? We don’t know anything more about him now. In 5,000 words, Obama failed to provide one concrete solution to his proposed race problem (other than, of course, to elect him). He advanced no policy, and failed to even articulate what HE thinks about race in this country. Even those who were quick to praise him could only muster vague platitudes about his statesmanship.

What is a statesman? Is it a people pleaser? Obama is certainly that. If that is the case, America will need more than a statesman to navigate this country through a recession and a war against an enemy that would like to see us all beheaded. What we need is a leader. If these 5,000 words are any indication, Barack Obama is not one.

Reading and watching this speech, I was reminded that there is a reason why politicians are the way they are. Obama has challenged America in the way Americans love to be challenged, with unequivocal agreement and an appeal to their own brilliance. In doing so, he has solved a crisis of his own invention.

For one who fancies himself to be post-political, Obama has proven himself to be best of breed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama the Speech Mythologist

Moments from now, Barack Obama is going to give what his campaign calls a “major” speech about race. A curious choice of words. Does Obama generally offer trifling speeches? Well, he does, but is that what his campaign wants to convey? His campaign, which (for all intents and purposes) began with his shining moment at the 2004 convention, has been an attempt to skip from major moment to major moment. In the interim, he is losing the ground war.

The hope, for Obama supporters, is that people will embrace the idea of Obama. This is not an entirely unreasonable request. The presidency, adorned by a cavalcade of advisors as it is, could be said to be an abstraction in itself. In this narrative, Obama would he a salve for partisan wounds, while experienced handlers would make the decisions.

Clearly, his appeal is not about ideology. He is a liberal, but that’s a secret (shhhh). It is not about policy, as Hillary has shown herself to grasp issues that Obama cannot. No, it is about the concept of President galvanizing a country that is struggling through a perceived leadership crisis.

And so we have the candidate Obama, remaining mysterious, playing the race card as necessary, cutting briefings short… Creating an IDEA of himself, carefully crafted and buffeted by ample campaign coffers. Gliding from big moment (the 2004 convention) to big moment (fainting college students, literal and figurative) to…

And this is Obama’s problem. Prior to the pseudo-Tuesday elections that delivered Ohio and Texas for Hillary, the Obama campaign sent a press release calling on a then-reeling Clinton to drop out, should she lose both states. Clearly, the goal was to set up Obama for a big victory speech, delivering the final nail to the Clintonian coffin.

Only, polls indicated that Hillary was leading in both of the states, and Obama’s campaign unintentionally magnified her victory by rendering Ohio and Texas primary results as a referendum on the nominee.

Fair enough. Everyone drinks the Kool-aid once in a while, and when it comes to Kool-Aid, Barack Obama might as well be the gigantic pitcher bursting through the wall. Seriously, the dude could have ended the entire Republic of Guyana, were he so inclined. But what next?

Well, Jeremiah Wright was next. As skeletons in the closet go, Wright is no biggie. Race-baiting snake oil salesman are a dime a dozen in the Democratic party. But absent any tangible evidence of his presidential fortitude, the story has lingered. As day-to-day reality begins to bristle against the narrative Obama, he cannot redirect the discussion to policy or ideology, lest he play into the hands of his opponent.

Instead, and in a desperate attempt to keep his sheen, Obama has resorted to fibbing a bit, pretending he knew nothing about Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary remarks (he wasn’t in church those days). All politicians fib, of course, but when you are trying to be post-political…

And so he is ready to give a “major” speech on race. Ostensibly, this is a golden opportunity for Obama to have a moment while discussing his most compelling attribute. He is black, and he will have the spotlight to tell everyone why that is important, and how that makes him uniquely suited to bridge the gap illuminated by Wright’s disturbing rhetoric.

But moments aren’t what they used to be. Unlike, say, Nixon’s famous “Checkers” speech, Obama will not be speaking in monologue. Television viewers will be treated to a host of commentary by various pundits. His success will be measure against expectations (which are, you know, “major”). Others will watch video clips embedded into their political blogs of choice, while still others will view it on Youtube, with easy reference to Wright’s original remarks, in case they need a refresher.

But if anyone call pull Checkers out of his ass, it is probably Obama. His stated goal, to provide context and clarity to Wright’s remarks, is unachievable. Wright’s words are beyond the pale, period. But he can make himself a sympathetic victim, torn between cultures and upbringings, able to understand both sides, yadda, yadda.

If he does, he will stem the tide of negative press, and resurrect the Obama myth. But America isn’t going to elect Zeus. This isn’t the depression, and Obama can’t hide his wheelchairs forever. Whatever Obama says tonight, rest assured that it will be calculated, focus-grouped, and almost entirely untrue.

At what point does the idea simply become a lie?


Update: He delivered his speech, first unequivocally condemning the remarks, then proceeding to equivocate, then blaming white people. Supporters will gobble up the sunshine, and point to Obama's reference to the Consitution as proof he understands policy matters. I suspect that those alienated from his campaign will remain so.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Musings

It’s Monday. Garfield hates Mondays! He’s such a cynical cat. I just can’t get enough. I love him… Let’s roll…

So I guess Hopeface isn’t quite the messiah other people thought he was, eh? Good on his campaign for getting Jeremiah Wright out of the way early. This extended primary season is helping him in that he can expunge his demons and blame them all on Hillary. Nonetheless, I am overjoyed that Midwestern moderates are getting a whiff of Jeremiah’s race peddling hysterics, and I hope they all take the time to breathe in Trinity’s church’s black panther theology.

Here’s hoping they take a peek into the UCC as well. The United Church of Christ is to Christianity as pigs are to frisbees.

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I read on CNN that some parents are sending their kids to potty school. Apparently, some children are some afraid of the toilet that they refuse to go. What? Don’t kids make fun of each other anymore? When I was in kindergarten, pooping your pants made you a loser, and being afraid of the toilet wasn’t the way to get in the winner’s circle.

A bunch of rich kids going to school because they refuse to use the bathroom. How positively French.

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News report from Detroit:

“Detroit police resumed their search for more bodies on Sunday, and tried to calm the nerves of area residents, after the remains of four people were discovered on Detroit's west side.”

How did that go down? “Ladies and gentleman, there is nothing to worry about. This is just Detroit.” They should just rename the city “Thunderdome”. Two men enter, none find job, one man steals other man’s car, one man leave.

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Gunshots ring out like a bell! For the second time in as many seasons, people were shooting at each other in my neighborhood on Saturday. There were no fatalities, about which I am torn. On one hand, I would just as soon have the bullets hit their desired target. On the other hand, that’s bad pub for my neighborhood. So here is my offer to the hoodrats of Shingle Creek. Leave the bodies behind my garage, and I’ll deposit them in Columbia Heights. Deal?

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R.T. Rybak would be the perfect mayor for Detroit, by the way. And, compared to Kwame Kilpatrick (take a minute and read up on that lowlife, if you have the chance, and then do take the time to vote Republican), he would actually be a modest improvement. If he needs to find lesbians to hire, he can always go across the bridge to Ontario, and I’m sure Cranbrook would accept his kids with open arms.

Kilpatrick can go lead Benton Harbor or something. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before they find that dude’s body in a landfill anyway. Where does Michigan find these people?

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Well, that got a bit macabre toward the end, eh? Blame the drunken Irishmen in me. He's feeling his oats... Toodles!




Friday, March 14, 2008

Top Ten Fridays: Dinosaurs

Now it is time to list the best dinosaurs.

10. Pterodactyl - Fyahhhhh!

9. Stegosaurus - Don't mess with this guy.

8. Apatosaurus - The quiet racist

7. Brontosaurus - The aging hippie

6. Gigantosaurus - The gay braggart

5. Supersaurus - Were these things named by preschoolers?

4. T-Rex - The noble savage

3. Unicorn

2. Iguanadon - The "if I had to make love to a dinosaur, I'd make love to this dinosaur" dinosaur.

1. Jurassic Park - Boom!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

California Homeschoolin'

California Teachers Unions are lauding a decision by the appellate court to abrogate the rights of parents in that state to home school their children. See, California law is vague on the question of whether parents may instruct their own children, so the judges did what judges tend to do in these situations... They made their own damn law.

“What’s best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher,” said A.J. Duffy, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles. Duffy failed to cite any evidence for his assertion, though what evidence could he cite when he represents a school district in which only one third of students can read at their grade level. The district also recently pissed away $13.5 million on a faulty payroll system.

Months ago I predicted that liberals, flush with electoral victory, would indulge some of their more extreme sentiments. However, their previous efforts to ban homeschooling (by way of Hillary, who opined that homeschooling was tantamount to child abuse) were met with such animosity, and had an effect so opposite to their intended purpose, that I considered the matter settled. I thought they might refocus their government-knows-best instinct on the issue of (for example) corporal punishment.

And they may yet do so. The home-schooling issue is an inconvenient albatross for a variety of reasons. First, the Democratic candidates (particularly Obama, who has yet to make his bones with the unions) are forced to carry water on this issue. Second, after Hillary's attacks in the early 1990s, a strong network of homeschooling associations developed that remain to this day.

There really isn't any reasonable argument as to why parents may not home school their children. Every statistic in the world demonstrates that home-schooled children substantially outperform their public school counterparts. There are those who claim that home-schooling can stunt a child's social acumen, but most people are antisocial and unpleasant anyway and, besides, since when is it the governments job to legislate socialization?

If John McCain is looking for an opportunity to make peace with social conservatives, he should certainly rise to the occasion here. This is one of the few issues that unites social conservatives, libertarians and moderates alike. Hopeface will be forced to smile and nod and offer preening excuses about how everyone cares about children, and that people in this country have a beautiful rainbow of ideas and charter schools are awesome and blah, blah, blah.

See, nobody thinks public schools are awesome. Even those middle-school parents who happen to live in strong school districts recognize (particulary in light of the foreclosure boom) that circumstances change, and they may someday want the option to home-school. It is the wealthy, those who can continually afford private school (think R.T. Rybak), employing ivory tower reasoning to restrict educational choice.

But it is important that conservatives DO make hay out of these issues. They give lie to the notion that progressives are family friendly, but that isn't sufficient. We must continually make the case as to why it is important to BE family friendly, lest the homeschooling battle become a salvo in a larger war.

The values movement began to unravel because the stakes became relatively minimal. Opponents were able to reduce social conservatism to abortion and gay marriage, and only one of those issue incites any sort of passion on the part of the electorate. But those are two battles in a broader fight for family autonomy.

A.J. Duffy and his band of rabid zealots need to pay for their rhetoric, or we can expect more of the same from their ilk. If the much maligned culture war was at a stalemate, the California courts just sent the game into overtime. Game on, then.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salvia Will Kill Your Soul

Whilst meandering about my web portal of choice, I noticed a headline I read as "scientists fear saliva could become next marijuana." Overjoyed on behalf of drummers everywhere, I clicked the link to find that, salvia, a natural herb not produced by any sort of gland, is responsible for the hysteria. The article is a veritable hoot. Selected excerpts with my responses below.

salvia is being targeted by lawmakers concerned that the inexpensive and easy-to-obtain plant could become the next marijuana.

Which, if they ban it, and spend billions of dollars prosecuting its use, will be precisely the case.

Eight states have already placed restrictions on salvia, and 16 others, including Florida, are considering a ban or have previously.

I want to live in one of the states that had previously considered it, but where cooler heads prevailed. Maybe, they'd say something like:

"As soon as we make one drug illegal, kids start looking around for other drugs they can buy legally. This is just the next one,"
Exactly... Oh, wait...

said Florida state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, who has introduced a bill to make possession of salvia a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

So the fact that kids will just find another easy, legal drug to use is an argument for attaching a prison sentence to its use? Is Florida now located in Thailand?

Some say legislators are overreacting to a minor problem, but no one disputes that the plant impairs judgment and the ability to drive.

In that case, Minnesotans will be unable to purchase it on Sundays for some reason, except in restaurants.

Called nicknames like Sally-D, Magic Mint and Diviner's Sage,

Gayest drug nicknames ever. I'm guessing most users just call it salvia, but that those who advocate a ban needed nicknames to scare parents into hysterical acquiescence. Why? Read on.

Unlike hallucinogens like LSD or PCP, however, salvia's effects last for a shorter time, generally up to an hour.
In other words, it lasts about 15 minutes.

Nancy: I think your son might be using Salvia

Roberta: What's salvia?

Nancy: It is an herb that will alter his state of consciousness for a few minutes.

Roberta: Sounds like video games.

Nancy: They call it Sally-D!

Roberta: What!? (Puts gun in mouth, pulls trigger)

No known deaths have been attributed to salvia's use, but it was listed as a factor in one Delaware teen's suicide two years ago. According to reports, the autopsy found no traces of the drug in his system, but the medical examiner listed it as a contributing cause.

His friends call him Salvia Plath... Ba-dum, bum. Other contributing factors in his suicide were a Subway BMT, his 1993 Honda, Republicans in general, and jazz choir practice.

"Parents, I would say, are pretty clueless," said Jonathan Appel an assistant professor of psychology and criminal justice at Tiffin University...
Thank you for your contribution, Jonathan. An assistant professor at Tiffin University is now the foremost expert on parenting and drug abuse in America? That explains a lot.

Mike Strain, Louisiana's Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner and former legislator, helped his state in 2005 become the first to make salvia illegal

I'm glad the forestry commissioner is calling the shots in Lousiana.

"I got some hostile e-mails from people who sold these products," Strain said. "You don't make everybody happy when you outlaw drugs. You save one child and it's worth it."

Yeah, 2005 was a banner year for saving lives in Louisiana. On one hand, a hurricane destroyed our largest city while we weren't paying attention. On the other hand, we band a harmless herb, so it all works out. Pass the Corn Pops.

And in some cases the extract comes in flavors including apple, strawberry and spearmint.

Tagline: Taste the rainbow, then see the rainbow.

Web sites such as Salviadragon.com tout the product with images like a waterfall and rainbow and include testimonials like "It might sound far fetched, but I experience immortality."

Note to Salviadragon.com, people are trying to ban your source of revenue. Take this testimonial off your website, for crying out loud.

Among those who believe the commotion over the drug is overblown is Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Yet another credible source for this story. Did Rick Doblin go to Bennington?

Doblin said salvia isn't "a party drug," "tastes terrible" and is "not going to be extremely popular."
Whereas crack tastes great, I hear. Besides, Sally-D now comes in zesty apple!

Florida state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, whose committee plans to study the salvia bill Tuesday, said the drug should be criminalized.

Glad to see she took time to form an opinion on the issue before studying it. I wonder what the study will conclude??? I'd seriously consider fetching some salvia and reviewing it on my blog, but I can't imagine how Minnesota would not be one of the first eight states to ban it. We legalized oral sex less than a decade age. We're the Georgia of the north, minus Christianity and economic growth.

But yes, let's all pray that somehow our nation can avert this non-crisis. Did I mention that we have prescription drugs in our water supply! BIRD FLUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Musings

Monday, or another, I’m gonna find ya… Hell, I’m gonna gitcha-gitcha-gitcha-gitcha if you aren’t careful. Let’s muse.



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Scientists have detected the presence of prescription drugs in our drinking water. I will simply ignore all reasonable explanations for why this is so, and demand that my elected officials spend copious amounts of money to combat what is obviously a life-threatening problem. I hope to God that every presidential candidate has something to say about this.

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So the girl in Hillary’s famous 3 am ad is now eighteen, and supports Barack Obama. The high school Senior appeared on morning TV to inform the world of her support, saying that that “What I don't like about the ad is its fear-mongering,” and that she prefers “I really prefer Obama's message of looking forward to a bright future.”

At first I scoffed at such a trite endorsement from a prototypical blonde (never mind that she accidentally made Hillary’s point). But then I realized, wait, these are Obama’s talking points. Almost verbatim. The campaign is just trotting her out Obama literally talks like an eighteen year-old girl. I can forgive a teeny-bopper for being good looking and dumb, but I don’t need the prom queen telling me who I should vote for, thanks.

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Belated restaurant recommendation… I recently paid a visit to Los Andes, which is just East of Fujiya on Lake St. The surroundings aren’t much but the food is grand, and the empanadas are to die for. I had goat and tripe on the same platter, so if you’re thinking Arby’s, maybe look elsewhere… Feel me?

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In an effort to conform reality to the pages of The Onion, the Catholic church has released a list of new sins. Among the sins are pollution and economic injustice. Fair enough, but um, what about the whole thing with altar boys. To paraphrase the gun lobbyists, shouldn’t they be more concerned about enforcing the sins they already have? Just sayin’.

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Last, and probably least, when did Ted Danson begin to resemble Gary Busey?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Top Ten Fridays: Sandwiches


Now it is time to review Twin Cities sandwiches. Am I missing something? Recommend it and maybe I'll review on Monday.


10. Steak Sandwich – Monte Carlo

A tasty cut of filet is the centerpiece of this (possibly self-attributed) Minneapolis classic. Monte Carlo itself is a nice, fancy joint with outstanding outdoor seating the generally tends to be available. That’s enough to get you on the top ten. On the downside, this is pretty much what you get when you order that (substantially more expensive) Filet entrée.

9. Banh Mi – Jasmine Deli

The semi-famous Eat Street hole in the wall serves tasty Vietnamese-style sandwiches for (very) cheap. They’re also some of the tastiest, with shredded pork, or whatever meat you choose, and all the right spices. As an added bonus, the parking lot is a stellar place to buy drugs!

8. Veggie Burger – The Times

The only veggie burger that you would order by choice. With a bowl of wild rice soup, it is a staple at this underrated Northeast joint.

7. Monte Cristo – Bennigans

Sandwich goes in. Sandwich comes out. All in a matter of 2-3 hours. This delicacy cum physiological experiment deep-fries a club sandwich, coats it in sugar, and gives you jelly for dipping. Bennigans is a chain, but isn’t this the sort of thing that chains should actually do well? This dish distinguishes Bennigans from the other “Greenies” (Applebees, Chilis, Bennigans and Houlihans and, regionally, Green Mill).

6. The Bread – Giuseppes

This curious, assuredly-not-profitable Italian joint in New Brighton delivers a basket of free bread stuffed with salami, pepperoni and cheese. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like bringing out a basket of free sandwiches. That’s how you get on my blog. Also, the food is pretty good, in a “let’s move away from an Olive Garden paradigm” sort of way.

5. The Maylsack – Mayslacks

More than a pound that has been stewed in garlicky juices forever. Plus, Mayslacks is hardcore Northeast, the only place in Minneapolis where you can get beat up by white people.

4. Juicy Lucy – Matt’s Bar

They have an ongoing rivalry with the 5-8 Club as to who was the first to “invent” the concept of putting cheese inside of burger. Cute. What’s more interesting is that this sandwich can burn you. What’s better is that it’s cheap, Matt’s is comfy, and the servers are friendly and bring you beer when you ask for it.

3. Kramarczuk – Ukrainian Sausage sandwich

Cafeteria style dining with Ukrainian flair! All of the sausages at Kramarczuk are pretty damn incredible, and if you aren’t adding sauerkraut, the truth is not in you. For added fun, throw some of the ubiquitous kettle chips on top for a Kroomunchy experience, or as they say in Eastern Europe, “get in the car! Your new life begins now!”

2. Hamburger – the 5-8 Club

They lose the Juicy Lucy battle, in my view, but they win the war. The original, Cedar Ave. location is the most fun place to eat a burger (your wall candy does not impress me, Fuddruckers) with great outdoor seating, solid burgers, and those onion straw things. Oh, and the beer is cheap, and they have become famous for their 2 for 1 coupons.

1. Manny’s Special – Manny’s Tortas

Before they opened a full-on restaurant East of Hiawatha, Manny’s was operating out of a window at Mercado Central, and it was the best thing about living in an undesirable section of Rybak’s Minneapolis. They start with French bread (?), then pile on all manner of protein, steak, ham, eggs, avocado, sometimes bacon… It’s like when you say “special” they just fry up everything they’ve got, and throw it on there. It’s greasy, huge, and awesome, which also describes the Mercado.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Memo to The Current

Dear Current,

The banjo and the accordion are altogether fine and pleasant instruments. However, you might be surprised to learn that their is a veritable cornucopia of compelling music that has been created without their use. Some, in fact, do not even feature a mandolin. As the only radio station in Minnesota where one might have the potential to find relevant, non-payola music, I would encourage you to explore these possibilities.

If you are interested, I would be happy to provide specifics. In the interim, might I point you in the direction of a hybrid genre I call "every-category-of-music-that-isn't-kitchy-folk-or-absurd-jazz-fusion", but you should also consider visiting the "albums-that-people-other-than-aging-hippies-might-actually-purchase" section of your local record store.

For your consideration.

Sincerely,

A Fan

P.S. That's enough Rod Stewart, thanks.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

R.I.P. Brett Favre

Brett Favre (1969-2008)


As many of you know, Brett Favre succumbed to esophogeal cancer in his home on Monday Night. He was accompanied by friends and family. May he rest in peace.


(update: I am informed the Brett Favre remains alive and well. Why are half the people in my office wearing sackcloth and beating their thighs?)

(second update: I am informed the Brett Favre was famous for having been a star player on a professional football team that is popular locally, but has recently retired. I will provide details as I learn them.)


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Monday Musings

Only Minnesotans could be happy to see rain, but we are. Let's do this...

Obama has played his race card! In response to his endorsement by anti-Semitic screwball Louis Farrakhan, Obama waffled, got attacked by Hillary and Republicans (and just about anyone else not drinking the Koolaid). So his peeps pointed to the comments of some radio shock jock in Cincinatti and, boom, everything is racist.

I said before that Obama had one more use of the card after the Biden affair, and he would prefer not to have used it before the nomination was squared away. But he needed to shut down the Farrakhan talk, and this has the added benefit of pre-empting criticisms of his UCC "black liberation" non-church. We now must all assume that he was raised in a wholesome midwestern church devoted to civil rights. Yep, nothing behind that particular curtain.

Of course maybe Obama can unite Jew-haters and Jews with his impassioned rhetoric. But history has shown those two groups to be a poor match, to say the least.

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The Democratic response was to tie McCain to John Hagee. Yes, that's a great response to rumors of anti-semitism, tie John McCain to a pastor known for his bitter hatred of anti-Semitism. I'm sure every voter is going to do the extensive research into the nature of dispensationalist theology necessary to nuance their opinion.

But yes, Hagee called the Catholic Church a whore. Meanie him. But let me ask this, would you let your son become an altar boy? Seriously, people trust the Catholic Church the way they trust their mortgage brokers. But the message to Jews? McCain's your man.

Which, of course, he is.

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So now that it's March, can GM quit it with that dischordant techno-version of "hail to the chief" during every single commercial break? It's President's Day, not Ramadan. Has any single ad generated so much animosity toward a featured brand?

Also, I didn't realize Saturn was a GM vehicle. That's like discovering your neighbor is part of a militia. You might still have him over for barbecues, but your gonna keep your distance, you know?

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Faced with a growing number of vacant properties due to foreclosure, City Councilman (and Rybak clone) Gary Schiff has proposed instituting a $6,000 annual fee for vacant properties. The fee is assessed to the property itself, meaning that any foreclosure property will essentially increase in price by at least $6,000.

Gary Schiff is a bimbo, so I doubt he has taken the time to think this through. More likely he has seen a problem, and proposed a fine to solve it. That's as far as he got. He is also seen as an heir apparent to brokeback mayor R.T. Rybak to lead Minneapolis. Does anyone else get the impression that Minneapolis' streak of being a desirable city in which to live is quickly coming o an end. Charlotte, anyone?

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Tonight is Steve Guttenberg's Dancing With the Stars debut. I don't watch the show, but I now have my favorite. That, folks, is what we call kismet. I am watching every episode until he is gone. Dance, dance you beautiful bastard.

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