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    Saturday, January 26, 2008

    You Are Now Free To Roam About The Country Between Chicago And Baltimore

    The thing I like best about Southwest Airlines isn't the frequent flights, or the low fares - it's the apparently radical notion that a one-way fare should be half the price of a round-trip fare. Too bad I need to go into Midway to catch a flight, but that little half-price one-way fare thing makes it cheaper to fly Southwest, even with the overnight trip to Chicago and back, then to fly any airline out of Cedar Rapids.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Some Programming Notes

    I've got a review of Rage Theatrics' Hero Stories up at the Iowa City Theatre Blog. You can read it here.

    By the way, the byline on that review is my real name. I've never really kept it hidden here, though I haven't really broadcast it either. So anyway, I'm David. Not Dave. Certainly not Davey. Just David.

    Pleased to meet you all.


    More campaign commercial fun from the King of Soul, Rudy Guiliani

    (The jokes below will only be funny if you listen to the background music for the commercial.)

    Only Rudy will push for a catastrophe fund! Only Rudy will stand up to the insurance companies! Only Rudy will make sweet, sweet love to you like you deserve, baby!

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    I Give! I Surrender!

    Okay snow, you won. I concede. You can stop now.

    Oh, I think I've fought a good fight. We were at a draw for a long time, but I have to admit that this latest snowfall is it. Good job. Nicely played.

    What? You're not going to stop? Another 3-5 inches today, snow this coming Friday as well as next Sunday and Monday? You bastard!


    You bastard...

    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    RIP Bobby Fischer

    No, I didn't know the man. In fact, I only bring it up as an excuse to run a clip from one of my favorite films, Searching For Bobby Fischer.

    I first discovered the film when I was working at That's Rentertainment. (A local video store chain for the non-resident readers, though they have since closed up shop.) One of the things you find as a video store clerk is that you very seldom get to watch a movie all the way through. There are always distractions. People come in, shelves need to be restocked, windows need washed. That sort of thing.

    So you develop a library of movies, movies you know so well that you can walk away at any point and come back later and know exactly where you are and what is going on. (Concert films were also perfect for this purpose.) I had such films as Strictly Ballroom (I need to post on that some day), Joe Vs. The Volcano (ditto), and Searching For Bobby Fischer.

    Searching For Bobby Fischer is an incredible film. It's perfectly cast and beautifully acted. In many ways it's a sports film, but it's also a film about fathers and sons, about teaching and learning, about growing older and growing up. Here's the final scene, where our hero Josh (you'll quickly figure out which character that is) is facing the top player in his age group for the national title of his age group. Look for Joe Mantegna and Nancy Allen as Josh's parents and Lawrence Fishburne and Ben Kingsley as his two chess teachers with drastically different styles.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    You Tube Fun - Ryan Adams on Letterman Edition

    You know, I'm sorry I didn't get to the Costello/Dylan concert last fall. But I deeply, deeply regret not going to see Ryan Adams at the Union. That was the show I really wanted to see, and I skipped it. The man is a genius.


    Everybody Knows

    New York, New York

    (and the original New York, New York video, shot September 7, 2001- they thought about scraping the video because the towers played such a prominent role in the staging of the video, but decided to go with it anyway as a tribute to the city)

    You Tube Fun - Nellie McKay Edition

    Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video for Identity Theft, which I'm coming to look at as the best song of 2007.


    The Dog Song


    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Things You Don't Expect Rachel Ray To Say

    "Once you're done, your balls will taste both sweet and spicy."

    "You need a small bowl like this for the dipping sauce for your balls."

    "Your balls will be a big hit at parties."

    "Or just serve your balls on a nice bed of stir-fry vegetables."

    "Hold on a second while I take a quick look at these balls."

    "Don't mess with your balls a lot; just let them hang out."

    Deep Thought For The Day

    It's tough to think about what you have when all you can focus on is what you've lost.

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    Police Charge Man Hit By Train With Vandalism

    From the Press-Citizen:

    Iowa City Police filed charges Thursday against an Iowa City man who was struck by a train in September.

    Officers found Shane Michael Stange, 20, under the lead engine of the train when they arrived at the scene Sept. 9. After being extracted, Stange allegedly told officers he had fallen asleep on the tracks when walking home. However, crew members from the train said that when they spotted Stange lying on the tracks, they sounded their horn and he looked up but refused to move. The 9,200-ton train had to make an emergency stop but still struck Stange, causing minor injuries.

    Police said Stange had a strong odor of alcohol and slurred his speech when officers spoke to him about the incident. Stange was not charged at the time and instead was taken to the hospital for treatment. On Dec. 17, an officer involved with the incident completed charges for public intoxication and seventh-degree railroad vandalism and a warrant was issued.
    (Emphasis added.)

    Okay. I get the public intox. But vandalism? Because he didn't move when he heard the train whistle?

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    The People Have Spoken - The Bastards

    The title of this post is one of my favorite political quotes. It was supposedly uttered by the losing candidate in a California state senate primary. It's probably the most honestly-felt post-election speech ever spoken.

    It amazes me how, right after your candidate loses, your opinion of the winning candidate goes down a little. I dislike Obama a lot more right now than I did on caucus night. I think at that point I still hoped Edwards would win it. I'm not sure why - maybe I thought there would be some state-wide mass epiphanic moment where tens of thousands of caucus-goers suddenly slapped their foreheads with their palms and said "I can't believe I'm buying this crap!" Needless to say, that didn't happen.

    As I said in my pre-caucus post, the older I get, the more I self-identify as a progressive. Edwards remains the only major candidate in the race pushing a progressive agenda. But I also self-identify as someone who is pretty sophisticated politically. I've worked for campaigns, I've been a member of the county central Democratic committee, I've been a precinct chair (in which capacity I ran several caucuses), and I've been a county and state convention delegate. This isn't my first time at the rodeo.

    As a result, words like "hope" and "change" are meaningless to me unless there is something underneath them that demonstrates that what the candidate is offering is truly "change", truly a cause for "hope". And as much as Obama slings around the words "change" and "hope", what's underneath his words is nothing but failed retread positions, luke-warm half-measures, and Republican talking points.

    Obama speaks of change, but he doesn't really offer change on a substantive level. His language and his delivery are designed to make hearts flutter, but all he offers is the same failed crap centrist Democrats have been offering for the past decade. To the extent that anything he says and proposes is actually progressive, it's because Edwards has forced Obama (as he forced Clinton) to say and propose things that are progressive.

    Let's get specific. Look at health care. Obama's plan doesn't go as far towards ensuring universal coverage as the Edwards plan or even the Clinton plan. Yes, Edwards and Clinton mandate universal coverage, but they also include subsidies to help low-income families purchase insurance (as does Obama), and the level of subsidies proposed by Edwards and Clinton are significantly higher than the level of subsidies proposed by Obama. (For more, see Krugman here.) I'm going to pull over Krugman's conclusion because, well, he's Krugman, and a far better writer and a far better economic thinker than I'm ever going to be.

    Mr. Obama’s health plan is weaker than those of his Democratic rivals, but it’s infinitely superior to, say, what Rudy Giuliani has been proposing. My main concern right now is with Mr. Obama’s rhetoric: by echoing the talking points of those who oppose any form of universal health care, he’s making the task of any future president who tries to deliver universal care considerably more difficult.

    That, to me, is the biggest problem. Not that the Obama healthcare plan isn't as good as the Edwards plan or the Clinton plan, but that rather than debate the substance of the approaches, Obama chose to attack Edwards and Clinton with Republican anti-universal health care talking points.

    But wait! There's more!

    I’d add, however, a further concern: the debate over mandates has reinforced the uncomfortable sense among some health reformers that Mr. Obama just isn’t that serious about achieving universal care — that he introduced a plan because he had to, but that every time there’s a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less.

    I'd say the right-wing pandering is a result of that "every time there's a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less" thing. Because it isn't just a smattering of right-wing pandering - it's a whole host of right-wing pandering. There's the "Social Security is in crisis and needs fixing" statements (it isn't and it doesn't), the diss of trial lawyers, the diss of Gore and Kerry, and perhaps most telling, the Donnie McClurkin incident, something he has never adequately explained. (Probably because the explanation would have to be "I was falling way behind in South Carolina, and the only way I could stop the bleeding was to quietly play the gay-bashing card.")

    I understand why Obama is running to the right of Clinton and Edwards. He has to - he has no chance of winning if he comes across as the most radical of the candidates. Sadly, the state of the racial dialogue in this country still hasn't advanced far enough to allow Obama to come across as an angry candidate. A sense of anger would sway me most to his side, but I know it would drive a lot more people away. So I get that. I do.

    But I cannot support a candidate based on the candidate's personality alone. I keep coming back to an Atrios post from early December. It's brief - I'll use it in it's entirety:

    Shorter Candidates

    Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

    Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

    Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

    That, to me, captures the three perfectly. The Obama argument seems to be that the force of his personality alone will be enough to bring about change. And I'm not discounting the value that force of personality can have. But there are limits to what force of personality can accomplish.

    JFK was as powerful a personality as any U.S. President. But was JFK actually an effective President? Most of the major pieces of social legislation that were passed in the 60s passed under LBJ, not JFK. Yes, many of them were proposed by JFK. But they stalled in Congress, and didn't get passed until LBJ, an experienced Senate trader, took office.

    Gridlock is a big buzzword for a lot of people. Obama is supposedly going to break gridlock by using the force of his personality to reach out to Republicans. But the problem isn't that Democrats haven't tried reaching out to Republicans - hell, the current Senate and House majority leaders have bent over backwards to Republicans.

    Harry Reid has gone so far as to agree not to bring any legislation to the Senate floor unless there are 60 votes in favor of the legislation. Think about that. The constitution requires a simple majority for passage of most legislation, but Reid has agreed not to bring something to the floor unless it already has a filibuster proof majority. The Republicans in the Senate not only haven't had to filibuster to block legislation - they haven't even had to threaten to filibuster. That's not reaching out to Republicans, that's dropping your pants and bending over for Republicans.

    We have gridlock because one party, the Republicans, wants gridlock. We have gridlock because one party, the Republicans, agree with Bush advisor Grover Norquist that bipartisanship is another name for date rape. We have gridlock becasue the Republicans know they are out of ideas of their own, and just want to prevent the Democrats from enacting any of their ideas. Obama's personality will not change any of that. The only way to break the current gridlock is to elect more Democrats, especially a Democratic President who knows we have to fight to make things happen.

    We don't need another centrist Democrat. We don't need another middle-of-the-road Democrat. We need to recognize the truth of what Jim Hightower once said in another of my favorite political quotes - "The only thing in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

    Because we are going to have to fight. This coming election is going to be the ugliest Presidential election in my lifetime. This is the last gasp of the current Republican party, and they are going to do whatever they can, to whomever they have to, to hold onto the Presidency. The Republicans know they can't win on the merits, so they are going to attempt to absolutely destroy as a person whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be.

    (Brief digression. You hate to give any credence to the lunatic fringers who think Bush/Cheney will stage a coup to remain President, but is it really so hard to think a coup is something the current administration would reject out of hand? Indeed, the main reason I think a coup unlikely is not that the administration wouldn't attempt it, it's that the U.S. military establishment is going to be as happy to see the Bush presidency end as the majority of the country will be. You can't pull off a coup, at least not one that lasts more than a day, if the military doesn't support it.)

    You know, it would be nice if we could all sit around the campfire, hold hands, sing Kum-ba-yah, and bring about change. It would also be nice if the lottery ticket I purchased this afternoon wins tonight. But the odds of either of those things happening are pretty much the same: slim and none, and slim just left town. We are going to have a bloody, vicious fight on our hands, and I don't know that Obama is up for it.

    Like I said previously, if Obama is the nominee, he has my vote and not in some "I guess I can hold my nose and vote for him" kind of way. He'll have my enthusiastic support. But I'm not ready to make nice right now, and I wish like hell he felt the same way.

    And with that, let's close with the Dixie Chicks.

    Deep Thought For The Day

    With your kids, you can sit them down and try to explain why certain things they do are wrong as well as what the appropriate future behavior should be. With your dogs, you're pretty much reduced to saying "bad" over and over.

    But hey, how can I stay mad at those faces?

    Clemens, Petitte Asked to Speak to Congress

    Well, that's more fun than a shot in the ass.

    You Tube Fun: Funky Female Singers Edition

    Jill Sobule

    Lisa Loeb

    Liz Phair (NSFW)

    Thursday, January 03, 2008


    Is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long, long time. What a great parody ad.

    What? This is real? Seriously?

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Fun With Commercials

    Saw a very bizarre commercial this evening. It opens with six older men in a shack, a band of some sort, playing a song. It didn't register at first, but after a few lyrics I knew it was Viva Las Vegas. Well, the bastardized version of Viva Las Vegas that Viagra is using as it's theme song. Six guys, singing the praises of Viagra, without a woman in sight. In fact, there weren't any women that appeared at any time in the commercial. Just six men, singing the praises of Viagra.

    Not that there's anything wrong with it...

    The Announcement You've All Been Waiting For

    Barring Al Gore jumping into the race sometime in the next 22 hours, I'll be caucusing tomorrow evening for John Edwards. (Mitt, I could be per$uaded to caucu$ for you.)

    It's a fairly easy decision for me. The older I get, the more I self-identify as progressive, and Edwards is the only one of the top three candidates who is pushing a progressive agenda. As to the other main two, Obama very obviously crafts his message to appeal to progressives, but a close inspection reveals that not only is his agenda not progressive, it actually incorporates many Republican talking points. (Not to mention the cult of personality that is developing around him.) Clinton is too much of the consummate inside politician for my tastes, not to mention that a Clinton win would mean we had at least twenty-four years where our President had one of two last names. There's something about that fact that grates on me. Oh, I gladly vote for either in the general if they are the nominee. But right now, I can side with the person I most want. So Edwards it is.

    You Tube Fun - Things You Don't Expect To Hear In Places You Don't Expect To Hear Them Edition

    So I'm walking through Wal-Mart this morning before work, stopping in to get a quick breakfast tv dinner and to check out the toy department. The tune on the Muzak seemed vaguely familiar, though I was unable to recognize it a first. The more I listened, the more I realized I did know it. It was the Galaxy Song.

    This Galaxy Song

    Though it wasn't Python. I googled later and found out the Clint Black recorded the song, which was what was playing at Wal-Mart, though with a rather significant change at the end. Where Python ends with "There's bugger all down here on the earth" the Clint Black version ends with "We're cheated out of it down here on the earth." I truly hope to hear this next time, performed by Toby Keith

    Or maybe this by Martina McBride

    Special Bonus Video