Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The talk of the town.

Oh music, my music. I basically love your friggin' guts. Nuts and guts. Gutters, too. Music is best that can be listened to in gutters, or by gutters, or behind shutters, or in closets.

I used to have this really great closet in Michigan. I kept all kinds of stuff in it. Baseball cards. Comic books. Hats. Old G.I. Joes. Free pens and pencils. Milk crates. Lots of other stuff, too.

But not music. That went on the dresser. All of it on the dresser. I don't have a dresser anymore. I lost that dresser. I lost my computer, too, and all 20,000 songs along with it. Except I have the computer in a box in my apartment. I can't say the same for the dresser. But at least with the computer-in-a-box, I can set things to rest on it. My dresser is firewood now. Or maybe worse. Maybe it's still sitting in my old room in Wisconsin, empty and sad and lonely and confused why it didn't move with me or David or my parents. I'm sorry dresser. I'm sorry computer. If it makes you feel any better, you have not been replaced.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Music. Andy tagged me. Music-tagged me. Web-tagged me. Blog-bagged me. On this fake computer (not the Potter boy, mind you, but a PC) I use at work, there are some 2381 songs from which to choose from. Here are the rules:

1. scan through your itunes or cd library. refamiliarize yourself with the nooks and crannies of your musical options.
2. identify five categories — genres, if you will — of music. these should be as obscure and finely-articulated as you’d like. feel free to use modifiers liberally.
3. nominate — select, really — a “perfect song” for each category. include a link for each song to something (the amazon page for the CD, or the artist’s website, or whatever).
4. ideally, some of the songs will be nominally obscure, or, at least, not completely mainstream and overplayed. no need to tell us all about songs we all know!

So here are five, five songs I like, five songs I lurve. Five songs for campfires and fireflies and flying with wings as eagles. Take that Chris Tomlin! I would kill you at writing worship songs! I know some Coldplay! I know some U2! I owned the first Delirious LP before any of the others! I knew Hungry back when it was a Vineyard secret! I have not only built a treehouse, but the Holy Ghost parties there with John Wimber all the time!

Note: Like Andy, I will use my terribly-tagged iTunes genres. Which is exactly how I like my genre tags in the first place.

1. Taken from Alt.Pop, Long Lost Brother from Over the Rhine's Ohio. (How else do you categorize Karen and Linford?) This song literally got me through my Montana year like hell on hind's feet. Thought you'd be further along by now? Believe brother, down to the letter. OtR stripped down to their post-Good-Dog-Bad-Dog-era basics, all piano and slide guitar glory. Glory! Someone get me a puddin' pop!

2. Taken from Folk, We All Know from Devendra Banhart's Nino Rojo. Smiles to faces, faces to arses, arses to animals, dancing so. Like I said, this is why DB brings smiles to my faces, and makes my clavicles shakeses. He is like smiling. He is smiling. Issa, Queen of the snake people couldn't have said it better. Play that ticker-tape-guitar! It's a parade at the end of the world! It's the earth's end and time is like nothing! It's only track 3! Error! Error! Cannot compute!

3. Taken from Hip-Hop, The Only One from Ghetto Pop Life by Danger Mouse & Jemini. Boom-di-yada! Up in the facility! The faculty can't take it! My faculties can't task it! Multitask? Like a miracle! Break this down. Take this down. Jemini and his friend D-A-N-G-E-R-M-O-U-S-E! Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Wreck yourself before you let yourself never hear this towering tune. Leave this page right now. Install Soulseek. Download this song. Checkmate.

4. Taken from Indie, Bros by Panda Bear from Person Pitch. Like OtR, I don't know what to call this. Better than blood pumping through my veins seemed a bit much. So many repetitions! So many sweet harmonies! So many sallow sounds! Sounds Familiar? Like family? Biking across Europe? Hiking across Sudan? Su-don't! Listen to this instead! Bristle with thistle! Shamrock with Panda Bamrock! Again and again and again and again. Do not forget. Again and again and again and again. Rinse. Repeat. Again and again and again and again. Twice daily, after flossing, and before bed. Or always. The eternal flame of the Seven Wood Club shines for really long periods of time!

5. Taken from Young God (because I believe it really is a genre unto itself) Dylan, Pt. 2 by Akron/Family & The Angels of Light, from their self-titled sort-of split cd. Lots of freaky guitar! Lot of creaky vocals! Lots of ru-ru-rillie-a-ru! I found what I'm looking for boys! This freaking song! This reeking song! Blonde on blonde on blonde on blonde! Bound for Singapore! Round the ring once more! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I hear Jesus and the Angels calling me home! Pedro just swore! Now that's more like it!


p.s. I tag Jake and Paco. Jake because he downloaded alot of new music and needs to share his opinions. And Paco because he never writes full blogs on the Haven.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dr. Evil Now Corporate CEO of Viacom, Daily Show Fights Back

And now for some funniness. I caught a web clip of comedian Demetri Martin on the Daily Show the other day, in which he attempts to explain the Viacom/Google row over the proliferation of Viacom's media content on Google-owned YouTube. In short, YouTube has a policy of removing copy-written material when asked. However, for Viacom, that's not enough. They want Google to head off Viacom's material before it's even posted. And now Viacom is suing Google for a billion dollars for failure to do that. That's right, one billion dollars.

Of course, this will probably never make it to court. Viacom knows that. But by upping the ante so quickly, they force Google into a defensive position should an out-of-court legal settlement take place. No doubt YouTube profits from the web traffic brought to its site due to Viacom-owned shows on Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. But Viacom profits, too, as it brings increased consumer awareness for its brands and products. However, Viacom wants a slice of the advertising pie that Google brings in via YouTube. Ergo, sue their pants off.

Now back to the funny. This last week on the Daily Show, Demetri Martin attempted to explain the Viacom/Google suit for Viacom's Daily Show customers. The video is below and it's pretty funny. At one point, Martin even addresses those viewers who are watching him on YouTube. What's even funnier, though, is that I first caught this video via TV Squad courtesy of YouTube. A day later, the video has been removed. The vid below is courtesy of Comedy Central, which is the way Viacom wants it.

Well, in addition to that one billion dollars.

Monday, March 19, 2007

On War

Tomorrow marks the 4th anniversary of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Four years and two days ago, I was in Haiti of all places, taking part in service project over spring break. I sat huddled around a radio in Phil and Lonnie Murphy's house, with a dozen other students, listening to President Bush address the nation (and in our case, the world). In that address he made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that the United States was ready to invade Iraq in 48 hours unless Saddam Hussein left the country. He didn't. And three days later, while I was tagging along on a medical clinic somewhere in the Plaine de l'Artibonite east of Port-au-Prince, my nation attacked another nation. I missed the whole thing, until the very next day when we stumbled into the Hotel Montana (not kidding, it really exists) and caught the first images via CNN. We were at war.

It was surreal. I remember Phil being very concerned that Muslims worldwide would view the invasion as a holy war -- Christianity against Islam. I remember our group being divided, between our evangelical love of George W. Bush and our reticence to see America at war. Listening to the president on a transistor radio hundreds of miles from home, it almost felt like we were watching the whole thing from the outside. Viewing those first pictures of war four days later didn't do much to bridge the divide. While we were hanging out with orphans and missionary kids and AIDS patients, our country was blowing people up half a world away. On the flight back, we had to adjust to the fact that we were returning to a campus and a nation where we'd be completely out of the loop. We had to adjust to the fact that when we left, Iraq was just another pesky player in the Axis of Evil, but when we returned, we were bombing the shit out of 'em, throttles wide open, all the way to Baghdad.

I remember two conversations in particular between coming home and Bush's speech from the USS Abraham Lincoln in which he declared an "end of major combat." One with a friend of mine who was initially opposed to the invasion, but who couldn't help cheering along with the Iraqis as the tore down big fucking statues of Saddam Hussein. In those moments, he could see the good we were doing, even though he disagreed with the means whereby which we were doing it. And another conversation in the RichLynn library, with another friend who asked me what I thought of it all. And I, choosing my words oh-so-carefully, trying to express how even though I thought our eagerness to invade before all other avenues were exhausted was hubris in the first degree, I couldn't help feeling that the Iraqi people were better off with Saddam out of the way, ready to start a new life and a new country with freedoms they had only dreamed of.

Four years later I'm driving to Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers in Rutland, Vermont when I see a crowd of 30 or 40 people lined up along the highway, protesting that very same war. And it's so confusing. And maddening. Not to mention disheartening. And infuriating. At this point, I don't think most people even understand what the hell is going on in Iraq. The first war we fought was over by the end of 2003. Then the Insurgency -- but since the 2005 elections, even that has become overshadowed by something more insidious. No longer do terrorists, foreign or domestic, account for the majority of violence in Iraq. A recent Pentagon report puts most of the bloodshed firmly in the hands of sectarian violence, that is to say, acts of violence between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority who held power under Saddam. And all that stands between these two groups and all out civil war, the scale of which could lead to genocide not seen since Rwanda, is the U.S. military.

The fact of the matter is, we're no longer fighting for democracy or liberty or oil or freedom from the terrorists. We're holding back a torrent of violence that certain Sunnis and certain Shiites wish to unleash upon each other, regardless of our presence or non-presence. That's not to say that all Iraqis are ready for civil war. Many just want to provide for their families and live in peace. But I'm sure there were plenty of people who felt like that in Virginia and Illinois and Kansas come 1861.

However, once that kind of war starts, it's impossible to avoid picking sides.

So that's that. I have no great love for our current president or his administration. I have no respect for men who lead our nation to war based on fudged data, half-truths and outright lies. But this so-called "surge" is really our last hope. If it doesn't work, expect this country (Democrat and Republican) to resign itself to its fate, and leave the Iraqis to their own devices. But do not, under any circumstances, expect peace to follow. Expect the violence to continue. Expect the death-toll to rise. And expect us to watch in shame and horror, followed by a number of years of second-guessing and misplaced guilt.

What kind of peace is that?

This war was no Vietnam. But expect the aftermath, should we withdraw now, to be just as devastating.

I don't like this war. I don't like how we were mislead in March of 2003. I don't like how it's been handled ever since. I don't like having my high school friends fight it while I hang out with elementary kids in Vermont. I don't like how a generation of our best and brightest are sacrificing their lives for aims that are about as clear as mud. But we're the bull. And we leveled the china shop. And if don't pick up the pieces, who the hell will?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Hates Frank Miller

Iran condemns Hollywood war epic (BBC)

So Iran is upset over the portrayal of Persians in Frank Miller' s 300, claiming that after the Iranian revolution in 1979, "Hollywood and cultural authorities in the US initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture."

If Ahmadinejad knew who Miller was at all, he'd understand that the purpose of this film isn't to "plunder" and "insult" Iran, but to show lots of well-oiled bodies killing and being killed in as graphic and stylish a way as possible. With some T&A thrown in for good measure. This is a film for 14-year-old boys of all ages. Plain and simple.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


If NPR and the New York Times are reporting it, it's gotta be news.

Captain America is dead. Of course, we cynics know that comic book death is a fleeting death, but still, for the time being, Steve Rogers is one very dead super hero. The NY Times gives us a genuine obituary, while Morning Edition's report brings interviews with Ed Brubaker (the current writer of Captain America), Joe Simon (the co-creator of the character), and Stan Lee, who revitalized the character in the 1960s. Naturally, there's buzz just about everywhere else, but those two reports cut to the heart of the Steve Rogers/Captain America mythos, and do it pretty classy, too.

Joe Simon's quote, that we need Cap now more than ever, sort of sums up my feelings on the matter. And I think Marvel Comics realizes that, too. So it gives you hope, that when yet another super hero comes back from the dead, maybe this time, it'll actually mean something.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Starbucks Hates Africans!

Okay, that's not really true. I just like typing scandalous headlines. But it is true that Starbucks make millions, perhaps billions, exploiting coffee growers across our fair blue-green planet, and must be stopped at all costs, up to, and including, dumping coffee from the cup into the trash because even when you ask for "room for cream" they still give you way too much coffee and not enough room for cream. Oh yeah, I'm a damn-hell-ass rebel.

But seriously, if we can, Starbucks is making truckloads of money off of Ethiopian beans, using the nation of Ethiopia as a selling point, and Ethiopia, naturally, wants a piece of the action. Starbucks would probably acquiesce, were Ethiopia not asking for such a huge chunk of said action. Country vs. Company! Oh yeah!

To be fair, Starbucks is a huge buyer of Fair Trade coffee, and that's dandy. But Fair Trade growers are still at the mercy of the buyer. They don't demand a price. They get the "fair" value only if they can find someone nice enough to buy it. Were Ethiopian farmers (or more accurately, the nation) allowed to trademark coffee exports that specifically come from their nation, they could set the price for buyers to use their trademarked beans.

Of course, Starbucks' lawyers don't see it that way. And that's what this'll come down to. The lawyers of the Starbucktopia vs. Ethiopia, which placed 170th out of 177 countries in a recent UN ranking of human development. That doesn't necessarily mean Ethiopians can't afford a good lawyer for themselves, it just means that their farmers need a leg up in the market. Fair Trade? That's nice. But owning the name of the coffee you sweat and toil over? That's fair.

p.s. FYI, those are coffee cherries above, what the coffee bean looks like before being dried and roasted. You learn something new every day! Go tell your friends! Start a revolution!