Thursday, December 30, 2004

The glory boys

Good-bye Brian and Luke, you’ll be missed.

“Memory is untouchable - It keeps such bitter distance
And silence is a photograph - A still and stone reminder
And in time we fade
Left in only recollection
Holding on is the hardest thing to do,
When everything is so out of touch
And nothing really means that much
When words don’t last beyond our lips
And promises are barriers
This same reflection, a portrait of contempt
A faded story book it’s pages over read,
Oh well, I’ll have plenty of memories to hold me when I’m gone
And if the pen permits I think I’ll write a few more songs
Cause nothing brings me back the way those old ones do...
It’s tried and true
So on and so forth, it’s so hard to see
We all fall down eventually
To bones - To graves - To history
And change won’t change a thing
A subtle keepsake
Our triumphs and our tears
Find innocence betrayed by fact and ignorance instilled...
And so
This one’s for the boys back home I hope you’re all alright
A childhood remembered in a song against the night
Embers on the wind, we were a spark of hope and pride
In the journey to find somewhere to ignite
For times we shared I give to you
The only words I know to say
You’re every part a part of me,
Amazing what a name can mean.
It’s a friend who knows you in this terminal unknown...
I’m coming home.”

- Bueno, “Glory Boys”

Saturday, December 18, 2004


What a divide for my hoops teams:
The Suns have the league's best record and lead everybody in scoring.
The Wildcats manage to win at Marquette but score just 48 points, the lowest in a win since Lute came to town.
The Suns have all five pistons working together, the 'Cats are lucky most games it seems to have one functioning piston.
For the Suns, the most I can ask is an injury-free season, 'cause little else looks to derail a run deep into the playoffs.
For the Wildcats, at least the focus on defense and rebounding will overcome some weaknesses of the past.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Late or never, you make the call

I’m pretty damn far behind here, but a couple of albums from this year I got recently are just outstanding.

Green Day’s American Idiot has got to be one of the absolute most dead-on recordings in terms of capturing the cultural and political climate in the United States this year (Steve Earle’s The Revolution Starts Now also does quite well).
For one thing, the album is remarkably ambitious in its scope. The “rock opera” and “concept album” tags are so misused in general and I hate to throw trite cliches at an album I’ve really been enjoying. Let’s just say it’s a centrally themed statement on modern life a la (dare I say it?) Darkness on the Edge of Town or OK Computer.
They don’t have the bombast or the urgency of the Clash, don’t level the sharp attacks of Rage Against the Machine, nor can the neo punkers muster the righteous anger of Bad Religion, but Green Day is nobody’s little brother. American Idiot is intelligent, poignant and musically remarkable considering the band has never rated too highly outside the high school set. For godsakes, they burst onto the scene with an album called Dookie and paved a rather regretable road that brought Blink 182, among much, much worse.
When it’s all said and done, I’d say American Idiot will be remembered as one of the top several albums of this year at worst, and an undeniable classic at best.

The Killers’ Hot Fuss is simply fun. It’s catchy, festive, loud and arrogant. It’s a drunken swagger, just like the Las Vegas it comes from. (Hell, for all I know they’re really from the Henderson suburbs, but equating them with the Strip just seems to make more sense.)
It’s 80s rock all over again, there’s no doubt to that, but what a brilliant swirl they make of it. Like Ryan Adams Rock N Roll (an underrated ball of fun in its own right), the album is practically a track-by-track game of name-the-influence, which in the wrong hands is piss-poor. But they’re songsmiths who know how to both dress like their heroes and be themselves at the same time.
The lyrics can get ridiculous, and it’s hard to tell at times whether they’re tongue-in-cheek or just kinda stupid, but the focus is really just the catchy tunes.
The Killers may be a flash in the pan act. With such a winning debut I actually care, but I really hope not.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And the winner is...

Mr. Chair takes the prize with the all-too-predictable U2.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Since and the In Between

Since the November Debacle, when the 10 p.m. news rocked my stomach with the same sinking feeling as the final buzzer of 2001’s NCAA basketball championship, I’ve more or less resolved to force politics into one of the furthest back closets of my mind.
I half hoped that in doing so I’d stumble across something in one of those closets to bring out and immediately throw into the lineup. Like benching politics in favor of say, science fiction, in the batting order of my mind and time.
Didn’t happen. While I did more or less cut politics almost cold turkey, nothing slid in right away to fill that void. No old interests bubbled up anew. No past curiosities reasserting themselves, nothing. Or more specifically no one thing. I’ve wrapped myself up in photography more, I’ve opened my ears to more music, but they’re just fragments of interests in the place of the monolith of the November election.
And it’s been really strange. I’ve been scattered these past six weeks. It’s a better sensation than constantly furious, but there’s little in the way of solace and even less in the way of any worthwhile pursuit. And that scattered-ness has certainly had an impact on my writing. I haven’t yet really felt comfortable switching away from the opinion, the argument, and back into the storytelling. But it’s coming.
I’ve enjoyed long stretches of highways with trees and highways with cholla. I’ve been surrounded and embraced by some of the best rock ‘n’ roll music there is. I’ve seen some remarkable films, particularly one chronicling Warren Zevon’s final months. I’ve concocted a supreme mix cd. I’ve drank beer late into the night, laughing on porches with old friends visiting from out of town.
They’re stories and they’re feelings, and they’re not the slightest bit political.
There’s a horizon now that holds with it more travel, more old friends. It holds family and hope, good food and new toys. The weather is chill and projects are taking hold.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


So I emailed a bunch of people reminding them to watch Bob Dylan's 60 Minutes interview Sunday and some people now think I'm compelled to comment on the interview. So here goes.
Dylan seems to be offering very little in terms of separating Bob Dylan the man from Bob Dylan the character, which is hardly surprising. He never looked like he enjoyed the interview, which begs the question why he agreed to it in the first place. It's not like his publicist prodded him into it. When your author is Bob Dylan and the subject is himself, traditional promotion hardly seems like it would matter.
Aside from Dylan's guarded, if not strange, demeanor and the feeling that he never really opened himself up at all, the interview was actually quite good. What was more revealing than his answers for the most part was Ed Bradley's unrestrained glee at the interview. He mentioned in the lead-in how he's always wanted to interview Dylan and it was evident. More importantly, as the interview progressed, he seemed to become thrilled at the conservation itself. I wonder how much the editing played a role in shaping the interview. There were a lot of cuts to historical voice-over shite and it would have been nice to see what was trimmed from the actual interview.
The most compelling part of the whole thing was Dylan's description of how some of his best songs seemed to be written almost by magic. At some level, genius or greatness simply is. You can disect an artist in so many ways, but the very fact that some simply have a greatness beyond others is unexplainable.
I wasn't really surprised or impressed by anything in the 15-minute segment. He certainly won't win any new fans just because of the interview. But the character of Bob Dylan, if not the man himself, is so wrapped up in mystery that some mumbles and a dour expression are expected from a television interview.

Talkin' Ponderosa Highway Blues

I just finished up the new biannual mix:
Talkin' Ponderosa Highway Blues

Steve Earle - The Seeker
Gin Blossoms - Keli Richards
Social Distortion - Don't Take Me For Granted
Fountains of Wayne - No Better Place
Dan Bern - Black Tornado
Wilco - Company in My Back
Big Star - September Gurls
Elvis Costello - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
Talking Heads - This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Modest Mouse - One Chance
Shins - Fighting in a Sack
Drive-by Truckers - (Something's Got to) Give Pretty Soon
Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money
Goshon - No More Wasted Nights
M Doughty - Madeleine and Nine
Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
Bob Dylan - Boots of Spanish Leather
The Band and the Staples - The Weight
Solomon Burke - Diamond in Your Mind
Ray Charles - Baby Don't You Cry
Roberta Flack - Hey, That's No Way to Say Good-Bye

This one follows Momentary Fires.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Play it again, Sam

We're all wrong. Rolling Stone has copped out once again with one of those "Weren't the 60s and 70s great" best of covers: The 500 Greatest Songs.
At least Dylan took the top slot (and 14, 59, 68, 106, 185, 190, 203, 230, 332, 364 and 404)

But screw it, let's play again. Repeat your guess if you'd like. Winner gets... well, nothing, though I 'spose I could buy somebody a beer or something.
But wasn't it fun? Hells yeah, so let's do it again!

Who will be on the cover of the next Rolling Stone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cover of the Rolling Stone

Who’s it gonna be? C’mon, you pop-culture freaks, indie-rock snobs, movie junkies and the like, think ya know? Well, who’s it gonna be?
In a game that never quite got off the ground, some folks and I tried getting together a little lottery a couple years back. The simple premise: who will be on the cover of the next Rolling Stone. I think George got one right once and the gig just sorta fizzled out.
But since it’s such an immediately fascinating notion, I’ll bring it back right here. Not as a contest sort of thing, ‘cause I don’t feel like administering it, but just for discussion (and argument!):
Who will be on the next Rolling Stone cover (current one is Eminem)?

post your answer in the comments

Friday, November 12, 2004

President war-monger and the freedom of speech

This just about says it all about the state of the country and the world today:
Bob Dylan's Masters of War is a hard-hitting, anti-war song produced more than 20 years before any current Boulder High School student was born.
More than 40 years after its release, the song has been resurrected at Boulder High with huge and confusing repercussions that prompted Secret Service agents to pay the campus a visit Thursday.
Some students and parents apparently let the Secret Service and talk-radio stations know they were unhappy with the plan of a trio of students to do a poetry reading of the song, accompanied by background music, according to Ron Cabrera, the school's principal.
Rumors were rampant that during an audition and rehearsal for today's talent show, the students changed Dylan's powerful last verse at the end of the song to say that they hoped that President Bush was going to die.
The last verse begins: "And I hope that you die; And your death'll come soon."
Secret Service agents interviewed Cabrera on Thursday to determine what all the uproar was about and whether any threats were being made against the president's life.
"They were following up and doing their due diligence," Cabrera said of the agents' visit. "They had been receiving calls from the community and, in the course of the talk show, felt like they had heard (the students) inciting physical harm to the president."

Are the sedition acts coming back with the draft?
"Masters of War" is about the most fitting song anybody could be listening to these days. And remember, those who do not learn from the past...
U.S. Soldiers killed in Iraq: 1,170
UK and other "coalition" soldiers killed in Iraq: 146
U.S. Military wounded: 8,458
Iraqi civilian deaths: at least 14,304

To another year of good reading...

If you're a Catfish Vegas reader who doesn't already stay up to date on the adventures of Kip Rudolph Chair, by all means go check out Mr. Chair, who entered his second year of blogging today. The Life in a Dormant Volcanoe series is riveting.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

... I heard you seen a little rain

Off soon to see Richard Buckner at Congress. To reprise me feelings heading up to his last local show in February, Hey there thunderhead.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dan Bern and 89A

Flagstaff = mandatory.
I've learned that over the last few years. I’ve had enough great times in Flagstaff that I just can’t stay away for too long. There's a vibe so unlike the desert, it clears the head remarkably.
And what better reason to brave the getting-cold Northland than a Dan Bern show (seriously check out the Web site, there's lots of sound clips and lyrics for the curious). It’s a shame this guy is so damn far under the radar, but political-humor neo-folk for some reason just isn’t in high demand. But c’mon, anyone who calls his band the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy has a lot up his sleeve.

Saturday began by swinging through Mesa to pick up Z, then off north. A cup of coffee and some walking around Downtown, then off to Flag Brew for beers, dinner and Game 1. We met up with Stu LeBlanc and his pal and headed to the show.

Two openers were medium- to low-level open mic guitar duos. Then Dan Bern hit the stage, just a guitar and harmonica. I had no idea what to expect, the only albums I really know are full-band, folk-rock affairs. But what a hell of a show.

He opened with a Woody Guthrie tune and then got political. Much of the show drew from his new album, heavily influenced by the 2004 presidential race. The songs were topical, but avoided the usual trite traps and are actually poignant as hell, and hella funny.

One song ran through the glorious first days of a Dan Bern presidency - statehood for Cuba and Mexico on day one, a ban on gasoline engines for day two, collective farms for the third day, all the troops come home on the fifth day, the death penalty is gone on day six, legalized pot on day seven, free universal health care on the eighth day, giving more dough to public schools on day nine, and day 10 it became legal to marry anyone you want. Funny on so many levels, the song parallels the creation myths with their wide-sweeping daily pronouncements, and the grand presidential 100-day agenda.

Then there’s the soldier’s lament with it’s heart-tugging chorus: “ But who do you think will push my chair / After the parade is over.”

Just one song from my favorite, New American Language, leaving off too damn many gems, I thought, but that’s all I could muster in the way of a complaint.

But we did get the classic “Tiger Woods,” with half-shock opening line of “I got big balls, big ol’ balls.”

I’m not even sure where all those songs come from, but the show was phenomenal. Bern closed with the all-too-simple singalong: “Bush Must Be Defeated.”

From there Z and I met up with my cousin and headed off to the Mogollon Brewing Company and the Mad I, Flagstaff favs that finished the ruination.

Sunday’s return journey took the stunning 89A south of Flagstaff, down from the Mogollon Rim to Sedona, then through the magic redland to the erie Jerome, a curious near ghost town clinging to the side of Mingus Mountain. Switchbacks galore and a European-style village, it’s just another example of Arizona’s remarkable strangeness.

Hello champs

Too bad they had to sweep, I was hoping for a lot of Halloween night drama. One hell of a postseason and it just kinda flashed out in the Series. Oh well, the last three Series were great and this one didn't hurt the fans at all.
It was a wacky game one, but dominating is the only way to put the last three games.
"We know we're idiots, we know we're cowboys, but we know we're world champtions." - Johnny Damon.
Way to go, Curt. Congratulations, Manny.
Next year, time for the Cubs...

On matters concerning a blood-red moon, Titan and honest-to-goodness hobbits

On Wednesday, science reared up and declared in no uncertain terms that it absolutely kicks ass. More ass than me, more ass than Peter Jackson, and damnit, science kicks more ass than all sorts of gods.
Just when baseball and politics were dominating the news, taking up everybody’s precious day-to-day brain space, here comes science out of nowhere, swooping in to smack everbody in the back of the collective head and say, “We found proof of hobbits!
The most significant evolutionary find in decades, at least, is amazing. Read the whole article, and search out more. A primitive halfling that may have even lived in trees? Man, doesn't science kick ass?
And while it was two decades of research and a seven-year space flight in the making, overnight we learned more about Saturn’s largest moon Titan than ever before. Perhaps an evolutionary cousin of Earth, Titan is larger than Mercury and the only known moon with an atmosphere. And we sent a spaceship to fly within 750 miles of it, snapping pictures of unprecedented detail all the while. Freaking amazing (Science kicks ass!).
Oh, and the lunar eclipse was captivating, an eerily beautiful site that seemed either otherwordly or ancient.

Science kicks ass.

Hootie at Tiger's wedding was bad enough.

What the hell idiot let Scott Stapp sing at the World Series? Seriously. This is a big fucking problem. That guy sucks, royally.
Donna Summer was bad enough, but at least she might faintly be considered a legend, of some sort. Creed is one of the most undeserving bands to ever record a song. They're hideous.
And some schmuck at Major League Baseball (or Fox, or the Cardinals) hired that guy to sing?
No, no, no... They shouldn't even sing "God Bless America" at ballgames anyway, let alone hire some no talent ass-clown to do it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Herky-jerky, methed-out neo-vaudeville

I caught this curious indie combo down at Congress last night - the Fiery Furnaces. In one of the rare shows I’ve caught without ever having heard the band, I was neither disappointed or impressed.
All I can say is that somebody needs to reign in this trend of massively hyped NYC indie bands.
This year’s Blueberry Boat got an obscenely high 9.6 rating from the inexplicably pretentious indie reviewers at Pitchforkmedia. That follows an 8.4 for their 2003 album Gallowsbird's Bark.
What I saw was a herky-jerky, methed-out neo vaudeville quartet.
There was the cute-enough lead singer (apparently Eleanor Friedberger) in a hipster feminist retro black dress, the floppy hipster haired bassist and guitarist and a drummer so spastic the Animal comparisons sprung to mind immediately.
All in all though, an unimpressive live band. The barely played for an hour, and didn’t seem to think music needed to be segmented into songs.
It was just this non-stop speed-up/slow-down routine; a few measures of crunchy guitar chords followed by electronic keyboard screeches, repeat.
What words I did catch were intriguing, seeming like a halfway stream of consciousness chant that could only be filled with deep about the hip urban existence.
The melodies were fun, when they existed. reviewers range from being “spellbound and giddy with pleasure” to saying the band is “even more pretentious than Radiohead; even less musical than Gwar.”
I guess the Fiery Furnaces are a specific, if not acquired, taste.
Then again, I was listening to clean-cut folkie John Stewart, he of the ballad “California Bloodlines,” in my car yesterday, which means I can’t possibly be cool enough to “get” the Fiery Furnaces.
An album would be worth a listen, I’m sure, but even at $6 I don’t reckon I’ll check them out live again.
There’s simply too much else going on, even just this next week in this desert outpost.
Calexico tomorrow, Dan Bern in Flagstaff Saturday, Rilo Kiley Tuesday...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Tiger Woods is nothing more than a rich dork

Purely speculation here, but if I were to marry a gorgeous Swedish model, I would not have Hootie and the Blowfish play. Never. The lowest I’d possibly go would be Rod Stewart.
C’mon, how lame is golf? The most popular figure in the game’s history, the pinnacle of coolness on the links, and his wedding features the world-renowned talents of ... Hootie?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The other side of the equinox

Somewhere other than the Sonoran Desert, leaves are probably changing colors (and shit).
Here, it's dipped below 90 (most days).
Still, that equinox thing is over and it's fall dammit (or autumn for whoever the hell says that). And in the fall all sorts of people decide it's time to release new albums (and in recent years, various hot-ticket DVD items).
So here's what to expect as the days grow shorter:

Elliott Smith - From a Basement on a Hill (which apparently offers few clues to his death).
I'd probably rank this as the most-anticipated. What a strange story this singer made for himself. I'd just gotten into his stuff when he played a solo-acoustic gig in Tempe, mumbling something about how his band's bus didn't make it. His stoned, barely competent slacker persona as a complete contrast with his amazing performance. Like Zevon and Cash last year, posthumous equals intrigue.

Johnny Cash - American Five
I doubt there's much surprising here, but we'll see he songs he selects to cover - always the most exciting part of his American recordings and damn near always stunning.

Will Beck continue his yo-yo style and come back with a zany dance album? Truthfully, I hope so. Sea Chance was great, but his talen lies so much more with the upbeat music.

Social Distortion - Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll
What about the drugs? I've heard a live version of "Don't Take Me For Granted" and it's great. Critiques of this song are off base: Mike Ness has always been heartfelt and honest in his lyrics, so this isn't new, he's just never had a best friend's death to write about.

Tom Waits - Real Gone
If "The Day After Tomorrow" from Future Soundtrack for America is any indication, Tom Waits again proves he's among the best there ever was.

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Eh. We'll see. Honestly, I don't expect much. Their last one was good-not-great, and they've released enough of those. I'd love to hear a turn back to Achtung-style stuff, but we'll see whether ego will let them go there.

Green Day - American Idiot
It's apparently already out, and while I'm curious, I'm obviously not that curious.

R.E.M. - Around the Sun
I lost interest after Automatic for the People. Still, it might be worth a look...

There's also the interesting Pavement and Clash re-issues, a star-packed Warren Zevon tribute,
and some promising hip-hop releases from Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Nas, Ludacris and the Black-Eyed Peas

It looks like I've already missed fall releases by Drive By Truckers, Old 97s and Rilo Kiley...

What I will not be listening to: System of a Down, Gwen Stefani, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Good Charlotte, various other shite.

Any other albums to look out for?

Down the stretch

It's a damn shame my D'Backs (and yes, there's a bit of hesitancy in that proclamation) tanked their season so damn long ago, but as we close in on October there's excitement galore in baseball:
Playoff hunt - Between division and wild card chases, six American League teams and seven over in the National League are realistically thinking about the playoffs. Of course, from my point of view, playoff spots are much more frequently lost than won, so we'll see who doesn't blow it.
Bonds - Spectacular. Again. It's time to put a mercy rule on the NL MVP award and let Adrian Beltre walk home with the honor.
Redbirds Row - As if Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds weren't enough, they can still count on an aging-but-deadly Larry Walker and an above .300 Tony Womack.
Ichiro - Are you kidding me? Hitting .374, eight hits away from the Major League single-season record, with plenty of games left. This may be the most interesting aspect of the rest of the season.
Shilling - It's a shame he won't take the Cy Young now that he's finally free of pitching in the same league as Randy Johnson. But I'd love to see Curt in the playoffs again.
Johnson - Randy has pitched better than anybody in the majors this year (again) but will not see the playoffs or anything resembling the Cy Young. This is the price of that 2001 Series win and it's a damn shame.
Whither D.C.? - Are the collective known as Major League Baseball owners so incompetent they can't even figure out how to move the Expos franchise out of Montreal? It's not like they didn't know this was coming.
Hillenbrand - Yes, it's extremely unremarkable, but the brightest bat in Arizona's lineup is still hitting above .300 (though at .302, a couple bad games can knock him down yet.)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Another project

Sufficient months have passed since I finished collecting Five Favorite Songs from more than 100 people, so what the hell, it's time for a new music endeavor, and another call for help.

One disc, 20 (or so) songs, the best, most distinctive covers of Bob Dylan songs out there.
The idea is to bring together songs that were so remarkably and uniquely done that the artist or band doing the cover truly came to own the song.
I'd like to avoid the absolute most famous ones, but it's hard to imagine a disc of such nature would leave out Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower.
Still, as you folks make suggestions, focus on the rarer tunes: Clancy Brothers - When the Ship Comes In and Echo & the Bunnymen - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Now, I know there are Web sites out there that list covers (like here), but the point of soliciting suggestions is to get recommendations, personal favorites.

To join in, simply email or comment with any suggestions ya got.

Friday, September 10, 2004


It's a few days late, but I just wanted to mention that I spent Monday listening to socialist anthems, courtesy of Billy Bragg.

'We come in peace' they said
'To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
Al people one
We come in peace -
The order came to cut them down

Outstanding. A loud, one-man sing along in the car makes up for having to work that day... 'course I got the last two Saturdays off in exchange so there's little complaint there.

The reason for this post is simple.
To tie the song to current politics is easy in my mind. The messages of peace, freedom, courage and the idea of the Earth as a "common treasury for all" are true to me, ideals at the core of my person, built by honest, noble, unmaterialistic parents who instilled an open mind, which reads and gives things careful thought.
The vile, power-stained, power-hungry minds of the Bush administration know none of this. It's riches and favors for them and their friends, shit for the rest. It may not be by "theft and murder" that they have 'ruled' but their crimes are nonetheless severe - outright lies, almost unfathomable secrecy and the idea that God is guiding their hand in war.

And in recent cd purchases, we're (not) surprisingly turning political:

"livin' in the motherfuckin' USA"


"Yeah, I believe the war is wrong
I don't believe that nations can be steered
Lead the world with smarts and compassion
By example, not coercion, force or fear"

Damn simple and damn right.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Randy Johnson is the best pitcher in baseball

It's the top of the eighth now and the D'Backs are down 1-0 so it looks like another spectacular performance will be wasted - again. (end of the eighth, after an arrogant, stupid batter thought his single was worth two bases).
But this lanky dominator has just blown away another team. He struck out 15, his fourth straight double-digit strike out game. His previous three starts, two losses and a win, were 11, 14 and 14. Four times this year he struck out 14 or more in a game.
His season ERA is 2.71 and opponents are hitting just .189 against him - both tops in the league.
Of course, The D'Backs have scored less than a run a game on average over his past five starts.
If the D'Backs had even a faint notion of what it takes to score runs, Johnson would have 20 wins already, entering September with a good shot at 25 or 26.
He's leading the league in ERA, strikouts, walks and hits per innings pitched, and second in innings pitched, complete games, and tragically, losses.
Only three pitchers in the league have thrown more pitches than Randy.
(Arizona scores on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, so Randy's not stuck with a loss. Still, that a no decision is all that stands to reflect such a great performance should be a crime.)
He won four Cy Young awards in a row, and while he won't this year, he certainly should.

(And, just because it's such a delightful notion, I thought I'd mention the Devils, I mean Yankees, lost 22-0.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

50,000 bottles of beer on the wall...

This story seems to be missing the point: The beer thieves aren't looking to sell their 50,000 bottles of beer, they'll be drinking it. I'm sure it won't take more than a few parties to finish it all off. Still, though, I'd get sick of drinking nothing but Moosehead...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Science 1, Meth 0

Take that tweakers!
Meth Cooks May Be Caught Pink-Handed
WICHITA, Kan. Aug. 21, 2004 — It may fall a shade shy of catching thieves red-handed, but for farmers fed up with methamphetamine cooks filching their fertilizer, staining them pink will do just fine.
Assuming you can discourage thieves you cannot easily catch, a new product called GloTell which is added to tanks of anhydrous ammonia will not only besmirch the hands of those who touch the fertilizer, but leaves its mark on anyone who snorts or shoots the end product.
How freakin' awesome is this... It's like a big screw you to the cretins who steal fertilizer to get high (which in itself is patently absurd).
I'd like to nominate this for the most creative use of science award.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The expert speaks again Or The shame of rarely posting...

Lordy, lordy, Catfish needs to get a-postin’ more.

Busy times lately... no longer able to blame much on moving either, that was three weeks ago.
Been kickin’ it on the new (old?) porch with the General and DJJ, good times all around. The new quote book is getting really foul really quickly, which is again good times all around.
As far as my self-proclaimed blogging topics, though, not too much has grabbed me to write about in particular, so let’s go on a general trip through music, politics, humor, sports and beer.

Music, well, the shows dry up here in the summer and I backed off my interest in seeing the Flatlanders because it’s just real hard to get a Saturday off work. As for new music that’s really grabbed me, well it’s still Modest Mouse and Wilco and Doughty, so no real change over the past few months anyway. With the move I’ve been throwing in some old favorites, picking cds at random off the shelf and delving deep once again into old mixes made by friends... but none of that really seemed all too exciting.

Politics are certainly heating up, but at this point in time there’s little that bears commenting on. I thought about posting on the news that the income gap grew tremendously over the past 20 years, or that the tax burden has shifted from the wealthy to the middle class during Bush’s presidency, or the launch of re-written overtime rules designed to fuck over workers, but all that shit is too depressing. I thought about posting about the disgusting Swift Boat Vets group and they’re blatant, though maddeningly effective, lies, but that’s too disgusting. I thought about posting on the real root of the Kerry campaign’s over-reliance on the Vietnam hero theme and how the incumbent is by nature doing nothing but playing defense against the incumbent, even while the incumbent’s record is piss poor, but that’s over my head really in the whole grand scheme of political analyses.

As for humor, I have been watching a lot more comedy of late, but I can’t just get away with saying the Chapelle’s Show, Reno 911 and Mr. Show are freaking hilarious. I covered Dodgeball, and Harold and Kumar really just fails to make the cut (not enough weed in a weed comedy).

These days are terrible time for sports, as far as I’m concerned. The D’backs are so far in the damn cellar I’ve stopped even peeking at the box scores. The playoff race is still too far away to reall start heating up. The mildly exciting NBA trade fury is over with, preseason NFL is an enormous crock and try as I might, I can’t give much of a damn about anything in the Olympics other than the long, high and triple jumps. And of course those are shown on the TV for a cumulative five minutes, so is it really worthwhile?

The Olympic competition (to be fair, the Olympics as televised) are such a bummer because it starts with such a great notion - athletes from nations across the world gathering to compete athletically. If that’s the case, why is it so damn boring? The “featured” competitions are always swimming and diving and gymnastics (or the winter counterpart of figure skating) and they just bore the hell out of me. Yeah, it’s incredible how some people can make their bodies do such weird flipping and shit, but anything that depends on a subjective scoring system bothers me. I’m not saying any more these days that they’re not sports (too argumentative), but they depend on some story line and it’s just fake to me. Swimming, well, it’s just a bunch of people swimming and it’s hard to tell who is who, so, well, blah.
But, as a former triple jumper myself (he says, arrogantly), I love that triple jump. And the sprints and a good deal else of track & field. Pretty much all of it but the really long distance events. But the television just ruins it.
So there. That’s the Olympics. And sport.

And beer, it’s your best friend, you drink a lot of it.

Thank you for playing,

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Simplistic nonsense as a badge of honor?

So how does a female (apparently) Asian (apparently) journalist get really famous? By unexpectely pandering to the legion of hacks dominated by white middle-aged men. “Look,” they say, “Now we’re right because one of them thinks so too!”
And her books, the latest one a drool-inducing wet dream for xenophobes nation-wide called “In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror” just sail off the shelves.
Just as her blonde, thinks-she’s-pretty counterpart has done, Michelle Malkin carved her niche by bucking conventional wisdom and giving the Roscoe P. Coltrane crowd a like-thinking supporter, seemingly from the other side.
And boy does Malkin rake her fellow minority journalists over the coals. Oh man, what self-respecting Asian woman could possibly agree with her life-long liberal ideals any more after Malkin shows her the true way? The stupid white men really are right! Who would have guessed?

Anyway, without further mockery, here’s Malkin’s “media diversity test,” with her statements in bold and my replies following:

1. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life.
In just a few elections, I’ve managed to vote Democrat, Republican and Green. Why can’t I make up my mind? Why am I so wishy-washy? Damned independent voter, learning about candidates and selecting the best one for the job. C’mon. Voting a straight party ticket is stupid. We need more independent voters not less. I may not agree with a lot of Jim Kolbe’s positions, but as one of the House’s leading experts in international trade south of the border, shouldn’t he remain office precisely because of his valuable experience?
2. I think my taxes are too high.
My taxes are fine, yours are probably too low. Nyah, nyah. The debate on taxes here is nothing more than a dumbed-down debate on government spending priorities. If you don’t support a certain government program, say Medicare, you’re sure to believe your taxes are too high. But what about the out-of-control pork barrel spending, reaching new heights at the hands of “fiscal conservative” Republican “leaders?” Nobody should really bitch about too-high taxes until this is reigned in.
3. I supported Bill Clinton's impeachment.
What a colossal waste of government time and money, serving as nothing more than an enormous distraction. And it was obvious from the start.
4. I voted for President Bush in 2000.
I’m pretty sure Malkin voted for Governor Bush in 2000, but then again that pre-ordained attitude is telling in right-wing pundits. My own vote in the 2000 presidential election went to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, in hopes of giving the Green Party a permanent slot on Arizona’s ballot. Whoops.
5. I am a gun owner.
I do not own a gun. I do not want to own a gun. I don’t have a problem with anyone who does own a gun, so long as he or she understands it is a potentially deadly weapon and treats it as such. I grew up in the forest with friends who hunted every year, friends who shared venison burgers and deer jerky. I’ve talked with people who have had loved ones murdered by a handgun. This is not a simple issue, not five words simple.
6. I support school voucher programs.
I have yet to hear a convincing argument in favor of voucher programs. Aren’t Malkin’s taxes already too high? Why does she want an entirely new government program? Maybe she would support giving adequate funding to public schools, giving adequate pay to teachers, working on programs to encourage new college graduates to enter teaching, and encouraging experienced teachers to stay and lend their expertise to newer teachers. Maybe not...
7. I oppose condom distribution in public schools.
If demystifying sex through education, rather than demonizing sex through religion indoctrination, can reduce teen pregnancies and halt the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, who loses here?
8. I oppose bilingual education.
I think everybody should be bilingual. It’s a damn shame I’m not. Why discourage people from enriching themselves by learning another language. What Malkin probably means here is that little Mexican children should not speak Spanish in school, but that’s just a guess. That is an incredibly gray area. There have been certain successes shown by English immersion programs, but what is possibly accomplished by encouraging people to abandon their roots and culture?
9. I oppose gay marriage.
I can’t fathom why anybody would give a damn about who marries who. What baffles me even further is the crowd pushing against this is the states rights, no government intrusion, personal freedom conservative crowd. That the constitution should be amended for discriminatory purposes is one of the scariest proposals I could imagine. And never in this “defense of marriage” push is it ever really mentioned how gay nuptials will destroy families, etc.
10. I want Social Security privatized.
I want Social Security, period, but that’s not going to happen. So what I’d really like is for Americans as a society to support those who spent their lives educating and protecting people, toiling away in factories or hospitals or courtrooms, those who built the foundation for today’s society, and not abandon them now for a “free-market” experiment.
11. I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense.
I believe security in airports is common sense. I believe racial profiling in general is built on hatred and vastly unsophisticated assumptions, effectually criminalizing skin color.
12. I shop at Wal-Mart.
I avoid Wal-Mart at all costs. Still, it seems that’s not even possible. Why can’t their employees unionize? Why aren’t they paid a living wage? If there were one Walton heir, he or she would be the richest person in the world, far and away. As it stands now, Waltons occupy five of the top 10 slots. Shopping at Wal-Mart accomplishes nothing more than making these people richer at the expense of their underpaid employees.
13. I enjoy talk radio.
I enjoy music, but I have caught an occasional “Prairie Home Companion” episode. If I may read between the lines for a moment, I think Malkin seems to be saying she enjoys listening to the Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage crowd, whose reactionary rants serve to do little more than enforce in the simple-minded notions of arrogance, racism, sexism and discrimination.
14. I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase "undocumented person" for "illegal alien."
I am annoyed at twisting semantics to apply hateful, dehumanizing labels to people who want nothing more than a job, and are willing to risk their lives in pursuit of back-breaking manual labor I would never want to do. I’m especially annoyed at the letters-to-the-editor standby of “What part of illegal don’t they understand?” Illegal immigration is a stunningly complex issue and any attempts at solving problems associated with it must first acknowledge that.
15. I do not believe the phrase "a chink in the armor" is offensive.
I don’t care.
16. I eat meat.
I eat meat. I eat a great many things. I love cheese especially, though I’m not too big on sweets. I drink plenty of water and sometimes even take vitamins. What’s the point of this?
17. I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.
I thought O.J. Simpson was incredible in Naked Gun. Beyond that, I didn’t for a moment follow that media circus of a trial, though from what I understand a great many people believe the evidence of the case indicates he murdered his wife and that other guy. So?
18. I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured.
Bullshit. I’m calling bullshit here. Actually cheered? No way. Maybe she felt a great surge of near-orgasmic joy, or felt like cheering, but actually clapped and whistled and stuff? Bullshit. Myself, I pretty much said ‘Huh, they got him. Let me read that.’ Oh, then I completely changed my mind and started considering the war an unmitigated success. Not!
19. I cry when I hear "Proud To Be an American" by Lee Greenwood.
That song sucks my ass. That guy is a no-talent ass clown. I also can’t stand “God Bless America” or that song about putting a boot up somebody’s ass. But I think Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful” is as good as it gets. And I think the national anthem of the United States should be “This Land is Your Land,” so I guess it more or less equals out somewhere.
20. I don't believe The New York Times.
Really? None of it? Not even the temperature listing or the Yankees box scores? Wow, distrust runs deep in this one. Malkin’s all-or-nothing take on the Times does little more than indicate how narrow minded the arguments about the “liberal media” really are. The New York Times is widely considered the best newspaper in the United States, if not the best English language paper or best paper in the world for that matter. Sure it has it’s problems. I still find it hard to believe that nobody on the national desk called bullshit on some of Jayson Blair’s nonsense. But then again, WMD existence was reported as hard fact in the Times for months longer than it should have been. Bottom line is it’s a newspaper with thousands of reporters and editors, covering the biggest city in the country. To outright not believe it sounds childish and simple-minded, but hey, Malkin herself seems to think that’s good enough for a conservative pundit, so who’s to argue?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Future Soundtrack for America

The track listing for this album looks incredible.
I heard Mike Doughty's track earlier this summer at Solar Culture and if that sets the bar, these songs will be passionate, thoughtful, literate rock, pop and folk tunes across the board. A great bunch of titles.
Set for an Aug. 17 release, here's the listing:
  1. OK Go : This Will Be Our Year
  2. David Byrne : Ain't Got So Far To Go
  3. Jimmy Eat World : Game of Pricks (BBC evening session)
  4. Death Cab For Cutie : This Temporary Life
  5. Blink-182 : I Miss You (James Guthrie mix)
  6. Mike Doughty : Move On
  7. Ben Kweller : Jerry Falwell Destroyed Earth
  8. Sleater-Kinney : Off With Your Head
  9. R.E.M. : Final Straw (MoveOn mix)
  10. Bright Eyes : Going for the Gold (live)
  11. The Long Winters : The Commander Thinks Aloud (future mix)
  12. of The Black Eyed Peas : Money
  13. They Might Be Giants : Tippecanoe And Tyler Too
  14. Clem Snide : The Ballad of David Icke
  15. Yeah Yeah Yeahs : Date With the Night (live)
  16. Fountains of Wayne : Everything's Ruined (acoustic)
  17. Nada Surf : Your Legs Grow
  18. The Flaming Lips : Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (live on the BBC)
  19. Old 97's : Northern Line
  20. Laura Cantrell : Sam Stone
  21. Tom Waits : Day After Tomorrow
  22. Elliott Smith : A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free
Also available, now or soon, Rock Against Bush, Steve Earle's The Revolution Starts Now (Aug. 24) and Green Day's American Idiot (Sept. 21), among what I'm sure are many others...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bruce on Nightline

To follow on the last post, Ted devoted Wednesday's program to the "star-studded gallery of musicians" on the Vote for Change tour and the "heady mix of entertainment and politics."
Excerpts from the Bruce interview:
TED KOPPEL: Bruce, let me put it very bluntly ... Who the hell is Bruce Springsteen to tell anybody how to vote?
This is my favorite question.
I thought it would be.
First of all, I don't even tell anybody anything. You know, you ask people to think about things together, you know.
Second of all, it's an interesting question that seems to only be asked of musicians and artists, for some reason, you know. If you're a lobbyist in Washington, you're a business guy. Well, shut up and do business. Stay out of public policy, you know. Nobody complains about that. These big corporations, right, you influence the government your way, right? Labor unions influence the government their way. Farmers influence the government their way, right?
Artists write, and sing, and think, and this is how we get to put our two cents in, and we do it right in front of people, not in secret meetings behind closed doors. We let people know what we think….
I don't know if people go to musicians for their politics. I doubt that they do, you know, but you can rally people to think on serious issues together, and that's what we're trying to do.
This is clearly not the way you felt most of your professional life. Most of your professional life you have very carefully — you've spoken out about a lot of issues …. But you've never gone partisan on us, at least not that, not that I was aware of.
Well, I've always felt I was partisan to a set of ideals, and that was my job, you know, whether it was economic justice, transparent government, how do we treat our weakest citizens, say, in foreign policy, when did we decide that it's all right to risk the lives of our very bravest young men and women? You know, I've written about these things for 25 years.
I stayed a step away from partisan politics because I felt it was always important to have an independent voice. I wanted my fans to feel like they could trust that …
You build up credibility, and you build it up for a reason, you know, over a long period of time, and hopefully we've built up that credibility with our audience. And I have an audience that's Democrats, Republicans and everything else, you know. And I think there comes a time when you feel, all right, I've built this up, and it's time to spend some of this.
And I think it's one of the most critical elections of my adult life, certainly. Very basic questions of American identity are at issue: who we are, what do we stand for, when do we fight ....
I want to say basically I feel that, as a nation over the past four years, we've drifted away from I think very mainstream American values. I think that in the question having large tax cuts for the richest one percent. Hey, that's great, you know [for] corporate bigwigs, wealthy, well-to-do guitar players, but we've also watched services get cut, after-school programs for people that need it the most, we've watched rollback on environmental regulations, and a foreign policy that I think put at risk the lives of the very bravest young men and women under what ended up to be discredited circumstances.
What I do believe is I believe that John Kerry and John Edwards — I don't think they have all the answers, but right now for the problems we have, I haven't seen anybody who does ….
I want to know whether you think this is going to hurt you …. It's a lot of concerts, a lot of cities. And to put it bluntly — it's a late night broadcast — you're going to piss a lot of people off.
Oh, yeah.
That's for sure. We who are about to be lambasted, salute you, you know?
Is it going to hit you hard? ...
... I think you have a bond with your audience, and it's very particular because you've put your fingerprints on their imagination. It's really intimate. We've done it for a long time ….
I think for a percentage of my audience, this may feel like a severance of that bond, you know. But basically I feel like the relationship is more complicated than that, you know, that we're one, but we're not the same, you know ….
Basically, I would hope that I'm going to clarify some of the things that I stand for, and that clarification enriches my relationship with all parts of my life. I welcome everybody to our show, and I would always want everybody to feel, you know, to always feel welcome.
I must be prescient or something...

Overall the message is finally sinking in to a lot of people: This election has big stakes. Have a stake in your damn future and put a stop to this terrible administration.

Rock 'n' roll, it's about time

Atta boy, Bruce:
Bruce Springsteen is excited to announce his participation in the Vote for Change concert tour. Between October 1 and October 8, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform at five Vote for Change concerts, sharing the bill with R.E.M., and Bright Eyes with a special appearance by John Fogerty (see dates below).
Vote for Change is a loose coalition of musicians brought together by a single idea—the need to make a change in the direction of our country. We share a belief that this is the most important election of our lifetime. We are fighting for a government that is open, rational, just and progressive.
"I felt like I couldn't have written the music I've written, and been on stage singing about the things that I've sung about for the last twenty five years and not take part in this particular election," said Bruce Springsteen.
Artists participating in Vote for Change have merged their energies and talents to focus on states that are expected to have the closest race in the presidential election this fall. This unprecedented effort will include approximately 34 shows in 28 cities in 9 battleground states over the course of a week.
These concerts will feature Babyface, Jackson Browne, Bright Eyes, Dave Matthews Band, Death Cab for Cutie, the Dixie Chicks, John Fogerty, Ben Harper, Jurassic 5, Keb' Mo', John Mellencamp, My Morning Jacket, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and more. These and other artists will appear on separate bills on the same night in selected cities around several battleground states.
Get ready for more right wing nonsense about entertainers shutting up and entertaining and staying the heck out of politics.
Face it, the list is full of honorable, charitable folks who have been peace activists and led various social charges, some for decades.
Artists who stand up for their society should be praised, or at the very least not chastised for speaking their minds.
I can only hope they'll change a few minds along the way.
Bruce's inclusion here is especially noteworthy. He spent his artistic career tied to his blue-colar roots - not as some badge of honor to be thrown about as defense for buying a new mansion, but in a far more substantial way.
Nearly every song the Boss has ever written is an artistic exploration of one of the most central American experiences: the hopes and dreams, failures and struggles, truly the lives, of the blue collar folks and the working poor. They're songs about people and experiences, hot summer teenage nights, first cars and first loves. Songs about reckless youth, and its consequences. Songs about factories closing and divorce, tears from wrinkled eyes. Songs that touch a nerve with so many, many people that rock 'n' roll star, or songwriter, don't even come close to describing him. Hero might be the best way to describe him, or idol perhaps.
Last week's Democratic convention thrust him into the political arena once again as Kerry walked out to "No Surrender." Twenty years ago a rather clueless Ronald Reagan had mined the same album and for some strange reason decided "Born in the USA" was an anthem in support of his re-election campaign.
That the plight of the disillusioned, forgotten and discarded Vietnam veterans could be coopted for the same trickle-down bullshit that in part put them in such dire straits is absurd enough to have discouraged Bruce from any public statements forever.
But there he was just weeks after Sept. 11, leading the nation's healing effort with the stark, uplifting "My City of Ruins," a song itself written about his deteriorating hometown. "Rise up," sang Bruce, gospel-style, in perhaps the most pure, unpoliticized message anyone has ever had about one of America's darkest days. It wasn't about rallying around the flag, or the president, I think most people were simply rallying around the idea of America as one community, a united people.
And Bruce gave popular music's first solid, thoughtful examination of the aftermath a year later. This was no boot up anyone's ass, no tear-jerk (and knee-jerk) country ballad.
Aptly titled, The Rising gave thoughtful Americans one man's depiction of the changed landscape, the "Empty Sky," but was at its heart and core mostly an artwork rooted in themes and messages of healing, redemption, love and peace.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush was marching to war in Iraq, confident that the changed landscape as he saw it gave him the right to launch an ill-advised, ill-planned, widely opposed war against a soverign nation, under premises described most charitably as dubious, and worse (though far more accurately) as outright lies.
It's only fitting that Bruce, whose fans are so numerous and devoted that the Boss could sell out any venue in the world, step up now. Bruce represents that silent majority of Americans who hate politics because it's an awful festering mess of egos and back-scratching, scandal and stunning ineptitude. If people want a leader, they must be sorely disappointed with Bush.
It's not as simple as Bruce saying he doesn't want Bush in office again. If it were that it would simply show how shallow mass American culture has sunk.
Take Bruce's statement as an urging from an old, trusted friend, because that's who he is. For 30 years he's just been someone who could brilliantly distill the common experiences of so many people into profound thoughts on the nature of life far greater than any individual. This isn't some celebrity endorsement, this is advice from an American hero and I hope it catches like wildfire.
Closed minded right-wing criticism is enough to affect upstart chicks from Texas, but I'd be damned if there's a more widely trusted voice in America than Bruce Springsteen.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

"Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!"

It's unfortunate that the crowd chanting for the Democratic presidential nominee starts sounding like the crowd at a Jerry Springer show...

My main (congress) man

Raul Grijalva, possessor of the only pushbroom mustache in Congress and representative of one of this country’s largest and most Hispanic congressional districts, officially nominates John Edwards for vice president:
Four years ago, we were promised compassion in the White House. That promise has been broken. Compassion means making environmental standards stronger not weaker. Compassion means putting the well-being of our people and our public lands above the profits of corporations. Compassion means being straight with the American people about the justification for war and honoring our troops with the truth. Compassion means investing in our children's future, not tax cuts for millionaires...
The current administration has successfully divided our country and this is one division too many. One broken promise is one too many. One child left behind is one too many. One senior citizen without support and comfort is one too many...
John Edwards is a man who understands that two Americas is one too many and there is no better man I know to unite us once again. As vice president, John Edwards will provide our nation new leadership, with optimism and direction, not selfish pride and favoritism, a common ground view of America -- where the "American dream" thrives. A dream that recognizes the fundamental purpose of our government is to hand over a better, stronger nation to our children. The election is about that dream.

Not the best speech and not the best speaker, but Grijalva did a good job of tying together some of the campaign’s criticisms of Bush and the solutions offered by the Kerry/Edwards ticket. Bush is not compassionate, he is not a uniter. Edwards, on the other hand will do away with the divisive “Two Americas” and build the foundation for a brighter future for every citizen of this country.
I've talked with Grijalva several times and found him nothing short of a true advocate for the least well-off of his constituents, a staunch defender of the environment and personal freedoms. He's no rising star, no bright Democratic future, but Grijalva just may be making a few more waves than he ever counted on... not a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Future...

Barack Obama is freakin' awesome:
If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one...

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
The first time I've seen the man speak, but damn if he isn't an orator on the order of King. He will be in the Senate and it wouldn't be the slightest surprise to me if one day my vote for president went for Obama...
A shame Janet was basically awful... the speech reads well, but Gov. is just not much of a public speaker.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Good-bye, Cotton

Cotton Fitzsimmons dies at 72.
One of the most positive figures in all of sports, Cotton was a coach, a voice on the radio and an enthusiastic basketball spirit.
Before Paul Westphal, Charles Barkley and AWA set everybody on fire, Cotton led the Suns as KJ, Thunder Dan, Hornacek and Chambo just kept getting better each year.
The Cotton Express. What a guy.

Episode III

Maybe it's just the last stand of a guy who spent childhood fascinated by a galaxy far, far away, but I still have to keep at least a bit of hope alive that Lucas will actually finish his prequal trilogy with a good film.
After enduring two of the most madeningly lame movies in history, I want a good one.
I want Revenge of the Sith to kick some serious, serious ass.
In what obviously will be the single darkest movie of the six, Anakin will turn Darth, and I'm actually rather pleased at the title. Although it may seem like a ploy to just select a word with such dark, vile connotations, 'Revenge' actually goes back to the original title for "Return of the Jedi." And directly mentioning the order of the Sith seems to be an indication that the film will explain some of the mythology behind the dark side Jedi.
Eh... who knows really.
Lucas has a terrible track record for the prequals so far, but I'd really like this last one to abandon all the mundane dialogue, over reliance on special effects, piss-poor acting, thin story lines and general created-to-please-focus-groups feel and re-establish the Star Wars world that captivated me so much so long ago.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

No run support...

The Diamondbacks have scored a total of 24 runs in the recent 10-game losing streak. Diamondbacks have given up 61 runs in that stretch. Whew. Please score some runs and finish this season somewhere better than the worst team in baseball. Please.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Boss

Just in case there was any doubt that Springsteen is one of the coolest people alive...

Springsteen delivers on promise to artist
Musician plays guitar, shares time with area teen

A great story, a great rock n’ roller, a great American.

What’s a more presidential trait than ‘pulsating rhythm’

There’s a growing buzz about John Kerry’s teenage garage band, the Electras.
Head over to Kerry Rocks for a listen, and to read the liner notes. My favorite is this gem:
“John Kerry, electric bass, is a resident of Oslo, Norway, and the producer of a pulsating rhythm that lends tremendous force to all the members.”

A 'rotten' bio

I know his biography is fairly widely known, but for those interested in learning just a bit more about our rather illustrious commander in chief, check out this bio, courtesy of There’s plenty to chuckle at here.
It touches on his days at Yale: “And besides, George had become acclimated to simply coasting through life. Experience taught him that there was no problem that couldn't be solved with a little money, or a couple of well-placed phone calls from his father.”
His military service: “After he just sort of wandered away from military service, Bush's partying lifestyle resumed with a vengeance and it continued to cause him trouble.”
His days as a drunk: “Bush continued his life of hard drinking and was finally arrested for drunk driving in October 1976, this time with his teenaged sister Dorothy in the car. But it would be another decade before he finally realized that alcohol was a problem for him.”
His working career: “George was given a fat wad of stock options and a $120,000 annual salary, but no actual work to do.”
His presidential campaign: “Regardless of Cheney's qualifications, world leaders -- especially the Europeans -- were flabbergasted by the Republican party's nominee for President.”
The election: “And since Bush was ahead of Gore by a pussy hair, the election officials appointed by brother Jeb made every effort to declare the contest over before the Democrats could do anything to change it.”
His campaign contributors: “So when George claimed to have nothing but hazy recollections of Mr. Lay, he wasn't exactly being forthright. Or loyal, for that matter. But that's just what happens when one of your closest friends turns out to be a crook.”
His goals: “George gave an interview to the BBC in November 1999 which laid out his plans for his father's antagonist during the Gulf War.”
And then there’s a nice collection of quotes:
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier... just so long as I'm the dictator."
"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
“The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at those laws, and that might provide comfort for you.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

‘There’s a warnin’ sign on the road ahead’

I’ll never listen to “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” the same way again.
It’s the perfect song to close out Fahrenheit 9/11, a film that’s thoughful, measured and powerful. But rather than enraged, I left the theater energized. A sold-out Sunday matinee that not only ended to great applause but was occasionally interrupted by cheers, my experience of F9/11 was definitely a communal one. And in that is the message: there’s cohesion in the opposition.
Aside from the most minor specifics, the facts in the film are nothing new to a news junkie. I don’t think Moore broke any ground aside from running a string through Bush’s past and his administration’s push for war.
As always, Moore plays the facts his own way, but he is no more guilty of misrepresentation or egregious spin than the Bush administration and their monkey boys over at Fox News.
There’s nothing anti-American or un-patriotic here, and I didn’t even think there’s much in the film worth being upset about, even for the staunchest Bush supporter.
All in all the film was a bit more tame than I expected. Moore’s documentary is really no more forceful than the average column by Molly Ivins or Paul Krugman. It had none of the sneer of “Masters of War,” none of the blatant dislike found in lines like “Idiot son of an asshole.”
The conservative critiques of F9/11 I’ve read have been horrendously off point. Their position on Bush’s leadership is nicely summed up in Moore’s film by none other than the world renowned intellectual, Britney Spears: “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that.”
Did those who give implicit, unquestioning trust to our so-called “War President” ever question our “Greatest Economic Period in U.S. History President?”
This “support the president” crap from conservatives is the lamest line ever. Don’t put blinders on. Search out the truth, dammit, because you’re sure as hell not getting it from the Bush administration.
All in all, F9/11 boils down to real questions that need real answers.
Why is the United States engaged in a war in Iraq? Why are minority soldiers dying at the greatest rates? Why did Bush just sit there with little kids when told the nation was under attack? How did a businessman universally considered incompetent at best rise to lead the greatest nation in the world?
In the end, nobody walks out with any more answers. Instead the only question that now matters is crystal clear: How soon can we remove that man from office?

‘The good times are killing me’

Good times, great weekend.
From Fahrenheit 9/11 to Mike Doughty, from Coffee and Cigarettes to the Gourds.
Top to bottom great.

More detailed posts to come...

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Online goofery

I don't have the faintest idea what this is, but it's hilarious.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Michael Powell, get your hands off my airwaves

This couldn’t be better news

New FCC media rules blocked
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court refused Thursday to allow loosened federal rules on media ownership to take effect, dealing a blow to large broadcasters like News Corp. and Tribune Co. looking to extend their reach.
"The Commission has not sufficiently justified its particular chosen numerical limits for local television ownership, local radio ownership, and cross-ownership of media within local markets," said the 218-page opinion by the appellate court in Philadelphia.
Opponents who waged a grass-roots campaign against the rules cheered the court's decision, saying it would now provide an opportunity to write rules that would slow industry consolidation.

Yes this is a crucial presidential election. Yes soldiers die every day in Iraq. Yes our dependence on foreign oil is frightening.
But I think media consolidation is potentially the largest single issue facing the American public precisely because it disrupts, degrades and mutates the very flow of information.
I’m just stunned that this hasn’t received bigger play, both in mainstream press and television and in the blog world. The hometown morning daily had it burried below the fold in the business page. Sure it’s business, but this is A1 material.

Those 70s Tunes

The uber-snobs over at Pitchforkmedia have published their list of the Top 100 albums of the 1970s. And honestly, music geekery and snobbery rarely is this fascinating. This is a much more respectable list than the ones Rolling Stone have been tossing out lately (including their shameful declaration of Sgt. Pepper’s as the best album of all time, which along with a Beatles-bloated top 10 reveals just how lame they are).
Just check out the top 10:
10. Brian Eno - Another Green World
9. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
8. Gang of Four - Entertainment!
7. Led Zeppelin - IV
6. Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express
5. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
4. Sly & The Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On
3. Television - Marquee Moon
2. The Clash - London Calling
1. David Bowie - Low

Alls I can say is thank god Bob Dylan came out on top of Kraftwerk. Otherwise I think I’d abandon Pitchforkmedia forever.
Others that jumped out at me: The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street at 11, the Modern Lovers at 40, Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True at 37, Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon at 70, and Randy Newman - Sail Away at 79.
You can also scan the lists of each writer and see that Blood on the Tracks and Dark Side of the Moon each come out on top twice.
It’s interesting to note who they consider “casualties” that didn’t make the cut: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Black Sabbath, Queen, Nina Simone, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Elton John and Willie Nelson, among many others.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


There are still some bugs to work out, but I'd like to invite anybody reading Catfish Vegas presents... on over to The Time & Space Lounge.
Joining myself in this endeavor are a crack team of writers, comics, former journalists, and various wandering souls, searching for who knows what.
The subject matter may be scattered, but I can guarantee each post is a nugget of tasty goodness.
The cast reads like the A Team, or Superfriends, or Oceans 11, or some other world class group of highly trained specialists, working to save the world or steal a shit ton of cash.
You all know Catfish Vegas, owner of sage wisdom, an almost psychic connection with the outer world. Then there's Mr. Chair, the nimble burglar whose feline quickness is matched only by his strength of rhetoric. And George Chomberson, a chef of stunning talent and razor wit. And Z, whose blindness only serves to enhance his other senses to superhuman levels. And other recruits are soon to follow.
Yes folks, The Time & Space Lounge is here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Detroit wins, convincingly. The only close game of the series involved a near-miracle three.
I'm absolutely thrilled the Lakers went down. Now if somebody can keep the Yankees out of the Series, I'll have survived the entire year without watching one of my most hated teams attain success. Excellent.
Two notes on the series: Kevin Garnett may have become the NBA's premiere player this year, but Ben Wallace is an absolute WARRIOR. And he may have been impressive in only one game, but damn it if Luke Walton isn't really starting to show what he can do.

“Inevitable consequence”

I have a hard time taking the pledge of allegiance debate too seriously. “Under God” doesn’t bother me any more than “In God We Trust” does, or opening Congress with a prayer. Sure, it probably shouldn’t be there (and wasn’t at one point), but I chalk that up to tradition more than anything else. Christmas is a federal holiday just because it’s a day that’s always been celebrated, not because we’re all Christians.
The whole “Under God” pledge argument seems to be one of those insignificant issues that certain people pick in a cause to make their point.
It’s all about noise, not results.
It’s no surprise the Supreme Court took the easy way out and decided they could not hear the case because the father doesn’t have custody.
But buried at the bottom of a concurring opinion, Sandra Day O’Connor made what may be the clearest statement about the whole mess:
Certain ceremonial references to God and religion in our Nation are the inevitable consequence of the religious history that gave birth to our founding principles of liberty.

Translation: It’s not good or bad, right or wrong. It’s there and it will be, so get over it and worry about things that really matter. Stop making noise and start getting results.
Some might say that O’Connor (whose hand I shook, years ago as a child dragged by his mother to see a famous historical figure) leaves the door open here for Ray Moore styled histrionics and evangical rape of common sense. Other than simply doubting it, I’d say that it is in explicit denial of such. The opinion recognizes that a nation founded by white protestants will, even hundreds of years later, inevitably hold on to little quirks here and there. Let’s not fight out every single one, it says, but worry about the big ones that actually matter.
I call it the pragmatic interpretation.

Catfish returns...

From a sold-out night game at Wrigley against the Cardinals (Cubs Win! - although the only reason I was rooting for the home team was to avoid a bunch of pissed off Cubs fans the rest of the nights) to Bennett’s Smut 'n Eggs in Madison, we’ll call the P-town and Midwest adventures a smashing success.
Watching the blood-red moon rise over a ridge in Highland Pines outside of Prescott, a fabulous Shins show, world class late night comedy at Chicago’s Improv Olympic, later night brats, frisbee golf and a dip in the pool on a muggy Madison afternoon, and of course, the Essen Haus. Plenty of beer and almost enough sleep. Wonderful head-clearing, soul-enriching adventure. Long talks with old friends. New sights, sounds and tastes.
Next up: The West Coast again, just as soon as I can swing it.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Roaming the Midwest

All right folks, Catfish is headin' out for a while. First it's off to P-Town for a couple days, then jettin' back for the Shins show, then off to Chicago and Madison for for visitin' Z-Jiggy and Ro-Dogg.
Keep it fresh and I'll be back wit ya on the 15th.


With a D’Backs-Dodgers contest on in the background and my thoughts naturally turning to baseball, I thought I’d chat for a while about the game.
I grew up loving every aspect of baseball. I was a card-collecting, catch-playing, game-watching fanatic. I’d have All-Star game at-bats in my head, while tossing rocks in the air and hitting them with a battered aluminum bat. I knew stats so minute they barely existed. Never artistic, I tried my hand at water-colors and sketching players, with little sucess (Roger Clemens unfortunately and unintentionally looked a lot like Kirby Puckett). I had the T-shirt of every World Series winner, stretching over nearly a decade.
The best, though, was winning the Little League championship. Eleven years old and that moment will always stack up among my best. I never made an All-Star team, and by the time I was 13, playing on a big field, my skills didn’t stack up so well. I was a runt, basically, and my eyesight started going right about the same time the other kids started throwing curveballs. I couldn’t hit, just field.
I quit playing at 15 and worked two summers scorekeeping and umpiring. My last game was behind the plate at the city championship, when I decided I hated the parents who took the game more seriously than their sons, who took the loss hard but still loved having played the game.
I was a Dodgers fan from the time I knew baseball. My grandma loved Mickey Hatcher and Tommy Lasorda. We traded cards and the grandfolks took me to Dodger Stadium for birthdays. I devoured books about the Dodgers, memorized their history from a videotape. In college I watched Stand By Me on video, taped from the television, and jumped up - goose-bumped and near tears - when one of the commercials had Orel Hershiser proclaiming he was going to Disneyland. Kirk Gibson’s heroic, mythical homerun still gives me the chills.
That 1988 series was the best, but 1995’s divsion title and 1996’s wild card still fired me up. I was amazed at the string of rookies to win the league’s top prize - Karros, Piazza, Mondesi, Nomo and Hollandsworth. I’ve seen them all play. I spent my 18th birthday at Dodger Stadium, on the downswing from a fanatic to a fan, but still thrilled to be at Chavez Ravine.
Like any teenager who doesn’t play anymore, baseball started meaning less and less to me. Denny’s, coffee and Letty Hanna mattered more. Calculus, English and newspaper classes took more time. We camped in the woods, drinking cheap beer.
For years I’d catch the Series, maybe. I saw McGwire’s 62nd on TV, but I stopped caring for the Dodgers. I don’t think I even noticed how they changed. But a bit of research shows that in just over three months, everything I’d come to hate about baseball had torn apart the only team I’d ever loved.
The O’Malley family sold the team to Fox Entertainment Group, aka News Corp. on March 19, 1998. That was travesty enough, and I didn’t then know anything about Rupert Murdock. The Piazza trade followed in May. And in June, Bill Russell - infielder extraordinaire and the man who was Lassorda’s heir, just the third manager since 1954 - was fired.
I didn’t revolt; I just stopped giving a damn. The strike in 1994 didn’t lose me; growing up did.
The Diamondbacks started in 1998. I was thrilled when Major League Baseball announced the franchise, but I was more or less indifferent when they started. It was cool, I suppose, to have a home team, but expansion clubs always suck and I wasn’t too impressed with the purple-turquoise combination. I followed the team a bit when they signed Randy Johnson (who along with Tony Gwynn was one of the few players I could still root for, no matter what). Then the 2001 season took off and I went with it. The playoff run was stunning. The Series had every single element necessary for greatness. I think I missed watching just a single inning.
Leaping from my chair after Gonzo’s limp single brought a week of anxiety to an amazing close, I felt practically the same thing I did as an 11-year-old shortstop jumping on teammates after we won the city. We won. WE. WON!
Maybe it was simply victory that relaunched my love for the game. Maybe I just had to have a reason to care again.
Paul LoDuca just squeaked a homer into the left-field bullpen off Casey Fossum to take a 4-2 lead and I gritted my teeth. Because this is going to be a long year. Because we’re on a three-game winning streak. Because I care.
Televised baseball and box scores are one thing. All-Star Game voting and webgems are one thing. Winning streaks and minor league call ups are one thing.
But the real baseball is walking into the park, heading straight across the concourse to get that first glimpse of the field. The real baseball captures you - sends your mind back in time. The real baseball surrounds you with sights, sounds and memories of everything about the game that’s ever made you smile, or wince. The real baseball is a game, not a sport, or a business.
The real baseball, strangely enough, is Field of Dreams. It’s The Rookie and Major League. It’s a pissed-off James Earl Jones calming down to announce “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.” It’s a Cinderella story and yeah, even Randy Newman and Wesley Snipes get to play.
Two years ago on a road trip I was lucky enough to catch games in Anaheim and Denver. I cheered with friends and spit sunflower seed shells. In Denver we sat in the first row out in the left-field corner. You know the spot, where all the foul balls go. We knew that, but no balls ever came near. So I heckled a bit. I couldn’t tell you who won the games, but I want to go back to both parks. Coors Field is as friendly as baseball’s past and Edison, fittingly, is filled with pure energy.
I saw a D’Backs game last month - inside the BOB, with the air-conditioning vents overhead only slightly obscuring the sounds of the ballpark. They nearly got shut out by the Expos, managing only a weak sacrifice fly and stranding the bases loaded in one inning. But I walked in and paid homage to the World Series trophy. I took off my cap and placed it over my heart, staring at Brenley’s lineup card, Randy’s uniform and crouching down, marveled at Gonzo’s bat and the game ball that he hit just far enough, sending Jay Bell home. I actually teared up, and I left the ballpark happy.
I went to the Sidewinders Monday, taking in the cool desert night and Sonoran sunset as much as the game. But in a minor league game, rooting for a team that’s sent all its stars 100 miles north to the bigs, I’ll be damned if I wasn’t standing for the last half inning, cursing the third base umpire who cost us the tying run and nearly holding my breath as a weak grounder ended a bases-loaded threat.
That’s baseball.
I may get to see a game at Wrigley next week. And the BOB is just up the road. My grandma died in March, but I bet I can talk my grandpa into a game. And I want to see the new San Diego park soon. And San Francisco and Denver and Anaheim and Seattle. And I can’t wait to get back to Dodger Stadium.

Cinema crap

I've already marvelled at Shrek 2, and while it will hit the big screen, a Michael Moore documentary doesn't truly count in the slate of summer movies.
Aside fro that, I challenge anybody out there to convince me to go see any movie that doesn't end in "man" this summer (Spider-Man 2, Anchorman).
Global warming changing the world in a matter of seconds? Futuristic cop Will Smith battling evil robots? Another surprise ending from the increasingly bad M. Night whatever? Kate Hudson in a movie that looks so awful it downright destroys her Almost Famous karma? Another Tom Cruise action flick? Lame, pointless remakes? Yet another Ben Stiller comedy? Wayans in drag and whiteface?
This slate of summer cinema looks like absolute worthless crap. Hollywood's wasteland off season (late winter, spring) offered much better fare with the Ladykillers, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Kill Bill vol. 2.
I guess I'll have to take solace in the Dukes of Hazzard and Northern Exposure dvds.

A zoning dispute turns zany

Every now and then a news story comes along that ranks with the most unusual things I have ever heard. Today we turn to Colorado, where an armed man in a fortified bulldozer has been going on a rampage.
What the hell?
A muffler shop owner reportedly angry at local government over a zoning dispute tore through town Friday in an armored bulldozer, smashing buildings and firing shots as police tried to stop the slow-motion rampage.

This guy sounds like an absolute nut. But apparently it's not out of the norm in small-town Colorado:
The scene was reminiscent of a 1998 rampage in Alma, another town in the Colorado Rockies. Authorities said Tom Leask shot a man to death, then used a town-owned front-end loader to heavily damage the post office, fire department, water department and town hall.

Have fun in your new home state Spills...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Looks like a good summer

On the horizon...

Friday, Ron Sexsmith at Plush (sadly I’ll be out of town)
Sunday, Calexico and Tortise at Club Congress (sadly I’ll be out of town)
Monday, the Shins at the Rialto
June 24, the Decemberists at Plush
June 27, Soul Coughing’s Mike Doughty at Solar Culture
June 28, The gourds at Plush
July 1, Reverend Horton Heat at City Limits
July 10, Mum at Solar Culture
July 23, Broken Social Scene at Club Congress
Aug. 7 the Flatlanders at City Limits
plus a handful of Greyhound Soul shows throughout

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In the world of sex...

It's been a busy day...

Woman gives birth using 21-year-old sperm

Ark. couple has 15th child, may have more

Washington university cancels annual Pornfest

Sex blogger: I played safe

No longer sweatin'

In all fairness, I ought to update the Richard Simmons uber-scandal.
Arrested at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport in March, the exercise guru (well, not really, but who's splittin' hairs?) is now free and clear.
PHOENIX - A Phoenix city court judge has dismissed an assault charge against exercise guru Richard Simmons stemming from a March incident at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in which he allegedly slapped an ultimate cage fighter across the face.
The cage wrestler, identified as Christopher Farney, agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge against Simmons, according to court documents filed May 19. The court records did not indicate why Farney agreed to the dismissal. Simmons, the outlandish 55-year-old known for his nationally distributed exercise videos, was accused of slapping the 6-foot-2, 250-pound athlete after the man reportedly made a derogatory remark about Simmons as they waited to board a flight on March 24.

I wish the cage fighter would have hit back. It would have been such a better story:
Excercise super-guru Richard Simmons was seriously injured at Sky Harbor Airport after starting a fight with an ultimate cage fighter...
I never did hear if David Letterman picked up on the story...

Fun with music

Here’s a tracklist for the new biannual mix, entitled “Momentary Fires,” which follows “Drunken Saints” and “The Time & Space Lounge”

Wilco - At Least That's What You Said
David Cross interlude “Answer Your Telephone”
Steely Dan - Godwhacker
Shins - Kissing the Lipless
Modest Mouse - Float On
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers - Americano!
Chango Malo - F*ing Wheathins
Ryan Adams - Burning Photographs
Badly Drawn Boy - You Were Right
Decemberists - Billy Liar
Okkervil River - Blanket and Crib
Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I See a Darkness
Dan Bern - New American Language
Mike Doughty - Looks
Bob Dylan - To Ramona
Lyle Lovett - If I Had a Boat
Flatlanders - Goin' Away
John Prine - Your Flag Decals Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
Al Perry - Dreaming
Sammy Kershaw - Honky Tonk America

“Momentary Fires” follows “Drunken Saints” and “The Time & Space Lounge,” if anyone cares.