Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Interview with Lorrie Moore

I'm reading—and loving!—Lorrie Moore's Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? right now. Her mastery of dialogue, her deep understanding of awkwardness, her with and humor never cease to blow me over page after page. I'll forever envy Nate for studying with her in Madison.

Here's a nice little interview with the editor of The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus, about her latest novel, A Gate at the Stairs...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ø≈ → ≈Ø

Remembering Vic Chesnutt: 1964–2009







Vic Chesnutt died on Christmas day in Athens, GA. He left behind a solid body of work that reveals with heartbreaking honesty—and, often, comic clarity—the most daunting melancholia (with which he was all too familiar), but also the tremendous wonders of life. He had a vital perspective and a singular voice that transcended an understandable cynicism. As his friend Michael Stipe said, "We have lost one of our great ones."


Monday, December 21, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Shagged by a rare parrot"


Learning from Leaves

Here's another fascinating report from our friend Lauren Sommer for Quest Radio in California.

"At UC Berkeley, scientists studying how to feed our growing need for energy have turned to a surprising source. As Lauren Sommer reports, researchers there are trying to produce the next generation of green power by mimicking something every weekend gardener works to clean up."


QUEST on KQED Public Media.

Learn more HERE.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Order Live in NYC in 1981

I was just about three months old when these videos were recorded. Ian Curtis had died a year and a half earlier.







There are more at the wonderful self-titled magazine site! (Thanks for the tip, Shannon!)

Kudos to Cecil Bothwell and his "Solemn Affirmation"

This story is encouraging in that an atheist was elected to public office; it is discouraging because of...well, watch for yourself...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The octopus found a coconut, he used it like a tool...




This coconut-carrying octopus off the coast of Indonesia is the first invertebrate in which such intelligent tool use has been observed. Read about the discovery of this surprising behavior here.
"Tool use was once thought to be an exclusively human skill, but this behaviour has now been observed in a growing list of primates, mammals and birds.

The researchers say their study suggests that these coconut-grabbing octopuses should now be added to these ranks.
"


National Geographic has another good article on the clever cephalopods.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"It's sentimental I know..."

On the heels of that big post about religion, here's a clever (and surprisingly poignant) Christmas song from British/Australian comedian Tim Minchin, which offers a nice humanistic alternative to the vapid sentimentality and "dodgy" lyrics of most of the Christmas repertoire...though I do, along with Minchin, quite like the songs. He even references Dawkins, and has some lines about everything from the tax-exempt status of churches to moral absolutism! Ultimately, though, it's a song about family. It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it...



Here are the lyrics to "White Wine in the Sun" (aka "The Christmas Song") by Tim Minchin:
I really like Christmas
It's sentimental I know
But I just really like it

I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu
To be honest

And yes I have all of the usual objections to consumerism
To the commercialization of an ancient religion
To the westernization of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I'm looking forward to Christmas
Though I'm not expecting
A visit from Jesus

I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don't go in for ancient wisdom
I dont believe just cos ideas are tenacious
It means that they're worthy

I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy

And yes I have all of the usual objections to the miseducation
Of children who in tax-exempt institutions are taught to externalize blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right or wrong
But I quite like the songs

I'm not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks, and chocolates
Is just fine by me

Cos I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You'll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school

And you won't understand
But you will learn some day
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people
Who'll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl
When you're twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself 9000 miles from home
You’ll know whatever comes
Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun

Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters
Your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins
And me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun

Darling when Christmas comes
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Waiting for you
Waiting...

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental I know

And as an added treat for the holidays, here's another gem from this new discovery of mine:

Plantastic! (Stinky Gingko Trees)

Gingko Biloba from Jeffrey Man on Vimeo.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Some thoughts regarding religion, and two songs...



A Song

Let's begin with a song. It's a good one....
Some Thoughts Regarding Religion

I'll be moving to Greenpoint soon, so I thought I'd share some thoughts that have been swimming around my head since reading some lectures by a Polish novelist and playwright...


Witold Gombrowicz, in encapsulating Marxist philosophy, said that "the profound and unique meaning of religion is quite simply to transfer justice to another world," thereby deeming it unnecessary in this one. This is one way that organized, institutional religions have come to exploit people, particularly those less fortunate. By subjecting a group of people to a "moral" ideological order, especially a metaphysical one proclaimed to be handed down from unseen (but assuredly existent) powers, appears expressively designed, as Gobrowicz says, to "[maintain] the right of ownership and [impose] bourgeois morality on the proletariat... to mystify and to keep the slave in his bondage."

What is interesting (or, at least one thing that's curious) is that one of the most dominant religious institutions—one certainly prone to allegations of exploitation and manipulative control of the masses—Christianity was founded by exploited slaves rebelling against a dominant regime. These hypocrisies are well-understood, as is the corruptive influence of ideological authority.

What I find odd here is the irony of the "moral relativism" slurs so often thrown by the faithful at non-believers. Without a god, they argue, humans are cast adrift in ethical ambiguity with no way to determine right from wrong. The implication here, which I find pretty horrendous, is that religious folks make ethical decisions guided purely by rules. We don't need to get into the trouble with selective and ever-evolving interpretations of religious texts (once held up to justify slavery, for instance; then conveniently reinterpreted to disavow inequality). More importantly, I think, this line of thinking treats human beings as pretty pathetic and infantile when it comes to our capacity for rationality, reason, empathy, and compassion.

Moral Relativism is predicated on the proposition that there are no simple, objective, absolute truths when it comes to morality. It advances the notion that a moral judgement requires an understanding of context. It also involves an acknowledgement of exceptions to strict black/white rules of conduct (listen to THIS for a good example) and the recognition of grey areas between the moral extremes of obvious right and wrong rarely observed with the idealistic clarity of children's cartoons. There are definite difficulties with Moral or Cultural Relativism, however. For instance, if we must accept cultural contexts as the backgrounds against which we assess ethical dilemmas, there is a hurdle in our way toward arriving at objective agreements about certain acts that we deem unjust. The subjugation of women in certain societies, for instance...

I'm definitely glossing over relativism here, so feel free to elaborate or argue with my summary...



What I'm unclear about is how the faithful claim a moral high-ground when it comes to their stance against Moral Relativism.

Why is it implied that an atheist by essence must be a moral relativist? Why would blind obedience to a metaphysical ideology (however shifting and progressive) bring one closer to objective ethical truths than humanistic reason?

Richard Dawkins has some good points regarding this issue. He is a strident atheist but also a harsh critic of Moral Relativism. He believes in objective, attainable ethics. He explains that cultural differences on ethical issues are surpassable, and that a common, humanistic morality is a realistic and essential goal. And religion is not likely to be the path toward this universal morality. If a man simply chooses not to kill because he is told that he will be punished if he does, then his is a flimsy morality.

Acknowledging cultural differences is not necessarily the same as accepting them as justifications for inequality or injustice. In fact, most of the cultural and societal structures that foster and perpetuate exploitation, repression, genocide, and other unethical atrocities are, like religion, concerned primarily (even if unknowingly) with maintaining power. To me, the notion of an afterlife—whether it's the heaven beyond the pearly gates for Christians or Houri for Muslims—is inevitably detrimental to (demands for and obligations to) justice and equality on this shared earth on which we presently find ourselves.

I'm throwing these thoughts out pretty haphazardly, so hopefully you will chime in. Please tell me what you think. Or, better yet, argue with me.



Another Song

To end things on a lighter note, here's a song I'm listening to right now...


By Its Cover: New Nabokov Editions

Art director John Gall was tasked with designing a series of covers for the new editions of 18 of Vladimir Nabokov's seminal works, to coincide with the release of his unfinished (and controversially published) final novel, The Original of Laura. Gall gathered an impressive roster of designers to help with the project, and cleverly chose to give the series consistency by honoring Nabokov's passion for lepidopterology.

From Gall:
Nabokov was a passionate butterfly collector, a theme that has cropped up on some of his past covers. My idea was also a play on this concept. Each cover consists of a photograph of a specimen box, the kind used by collectors like Nabokov to display insects. Each box would be filled with paper, ephemera, and insect pins, selected to somehow evoke the book's content. And to make it more interesting for readers — and less daunting for me — I thought it would be fun to ask a group of talented designers to help create the boxes.

Among those he asked were esteemed book designer Chip Kidd, author and McSweeney's main-man Dave Eggers, Pentagram designer Michael Bierut, and Appetite Engineers head honcho Martin Venezky.

Here are a few of our favorites:


(clockwise from top left: Speak, Memory by Michael Bierut; Pale Fire by Stephen Doyle; Glory by Martin Venezky; ; The Eye by John Gall; King, Queen, Knave by Peter Mendelsund; The Gift by Rodrigo Corral)


You can see the entire series HERE.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To be fair, Kristian Matsson is pretty tall.



NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts are consistently good. This one, by The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson), is as straightforward and bare as they come, and after a year of listening to a lot of really solid rock albums, this feels really refreshing and right somehow.

"What Is Love?"

Man in a Chicken suit plays "What is Love" on Pianica from Ring Mod on Vimeo.

∆ … ∆

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Planisphere

I have a review of the brand-new John Ashbery collection in the latest issue of The L Magazine. You can read the unabridged version HERE.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rotating Kitchen



The Rotating Kitchen by Zeger Reyers is part of the exhibition Eating the Universe at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in Germany. It began rotating last Friday and will continue through February 28th, 2010.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I, Too, Would Like a Panda



From Marianne Moore's essay "Feeling and Precision" (1944):

"Voltaire objected to those who said in enigmas what others had said naturally, and we agree; yet we must have the courage of our peculiarities. What would become of Ogden Nash, his benign vocabulary and fearless rhymes, if he wrote only in accordance with the principles set forth by our manuals of composition?

I love the Baby Giant Panda
I'd welcome one to my veranda.
I never worry, wondering maybe
Whether it isn't Giant Baby;
I leave such matters to the scientists—
The Giant Baby—and Baby Giantists.
I simply want a veranda, and a
Giant Baby Giant Panda.

This, it seems to me, is not so far removed from George Wither's motto: "I grow and wither both together.""


"The Last Horse on the Sand"

Let's start December off right with some Dirty Three, a band that despite hailing from the warm isle of convicts has always conveyed wintry climes to my ears. This ditty, recorded in a hotel room at ATP NY, features the esteemed Nick Cave on keys!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Greenberg

This movie has some things I love (LCD Soundsystem, inflated dancing tube-people, affable misanthropy), some things I'm not sure whether I love or am annoyed by (Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, sage-like friends with accents), and some things I don't have much of an opinion about one way or the other (Ben Stiller, Starbucks jokes, overcoming generational divides). Given all that, I think I want to see it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Apple Books is Going Rogue!



Remember way back before the '08 election, when this sort of turned into political blog with loads of anti-Palin posts? Well, now it might seem like since our guy won, we've returned to quiet apathy, but that's not the case at all... I suppose we felt like that was a particular time when we should add our voices to chaotic chorus of political debate. It's not that we've lost sight of Sarah, although we have tried to shun her from our consciousness. It's becoming difficult again, these days, but we've willfully avoided making any mention of her... However, this is worth sharing...

Perhaps our favorite bookstore in the country, Green Apple Books in San Francisco, is doing something clever and meaningful in reaction to Palin's popular new tome. From their blog:
"With all due to respect to the Republicans who were as overjoyed as I was (for different reasons, of course) by Sarah Palin's nomination to the McCain ticket last year, Green Apple is donating 100% of the profits from sales of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue: An American Life to the Alaska Wildlife Alliance."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cat Found!!!





Lambchop Perform "Give It" > "Once In A Lifetime" Live at XX Merge



This is how Lambchop closed out their set at the Merge 20th Anniversary shindig. The label will release a CD of the full set, including video, on November 17.



Live at XX Merge:

01 Introduction (Jon Wurster)
02 I Will Drive Slowly
03 The New Cobweb Summer
04 Grumpus
05 Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr.
06 What Else Could It Be?
07 Joke (Tony Crow)
08 National Talk Like a Pirate Day
09 Hey, Where's Your Girl?
10 Your Fucking Sunny Day
11 Up With People
12 Give It

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Poem for the Day



November 3
by Richard Brautigan

I'm sitting in a cafe,
drinking a Coke.

A fly is sleeping
on a paper napkin.

I have to wake him up,
so I can wipe my glasses.

There's a pretty girl
I want to look at.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In love...

I posted this a while back, but oh well, you can never have your heart broken too many times...

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Flirted With You All My Life"



It's taking me a little while to really get into the new Vic Chesnutt record, At The Cut. Unlike his previous collaboration with the Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Silver Mount Zion folks and Guy Picciotto (Fugazi)—2007's North Star Deserter—the record ends up sounding to my ears as less than the sum of the contributors' parts. Where that first Constellation record saw the backing musicians sparingly supply Chesnutt's songs with a cinematic grandeur, this one has moments in which the elements feel at odds. Chesnutt's striking vulnerability at times feels stifled or obscured by the weight of the other players' embellishments and crescendoes. Part of what makes Chesnutt's best songs so powerful is his deft entwining of anguish and humor; and despite my love for the Godspeed contingent, I never took that apocolyptic crew for real appreciators of humor or irony.

A few songs on At the Cut work marvelously, though, and "Flirted With You All My Life," in particular, is a pure Chesnutt gem, as heartbreaking yet ultimately comforting as any of his best work. If you've ever lost someone close or grappled with suicide, the lyrics are sure to hit home. The conflation of death and romance is handled so exquisitely. I'd say it ranks up there with Johnny Cash's rendition of Trent Reznor's "Hurt" as far as glimpses into the heart of human mortality go. But this is maybe even more poignant because the words—and fears and feelings—are very much Chesnutt's own. And yet, they are ours as well...

"Flirted With You All My Life"



I flirted with you all my life
Even kissed you once or twice
And to this day I swear it was nice
But clearly I was not ready

When you touched a friend of mine
I thought I would lose my mind
But I found out with time that
Really I was not ready

[Purchase At the Cut HERE.]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Voice Acting (Ray Fenwick vs. Me)

Those closest to me are familiar with my truest aspiration: to put to use and share with the world my vast array of character voices. I've long been building up my stable of vocalizations, preparing for a fulfilling career passionately giving voice to cartoon characters, narrating television advertisements, reciting audio books, maybe doing some puppetry here and there... I'm on my way.

But it looks like I'll have some competition...



Here, for your listening pleasure, is a brief (but hopefully illuminating) glimpse at my own voice acting endeavors (assisted here by the similarly chameleon-larynxed NLB)... Turn the volume down before you press play (trust me)...

video

(I may need to work a tad on controlling the hysterical laughter that involuntarily erupts from the sheer joy of practicing my craft, my calling.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Pigeon Lady

Once, when I was a boy, my mother and I went to City Hall to protest a plan to poison the pigeons around Wilkes-Barre's Public Square. We sat beside a woman who brought along a friend of hers—a friend who probably had more to lose in the debate than anyone else in the room. She had a pigeon in her bag. The woman stood when it was her turn, introduced her feathered friend, and spoke passionately about the inhumanity of what was being proposed. I don't recall her exact words, but I do remember the fervor with which she testified on the birds' behalf. She was known around town as The Pigeon Lady.

New York City apparently has its own Pigeon Lady, and the superb Revel in New York video series includes an interesting profile of her...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Photo of the Day: Hikers


hikers | multnomah falls visitor center, or | by nicole

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hannes Coetzee - Amazing Tea Spoon Slide Guitar!



From Wikipedia:
Hannes Coetzee (born 1944) is a guitarist from the Karoo region in South Africa. Born in 1944, he is mainly known for his unique playing technique using a spoon in his mouth to play slide guitar. This playing technique is called optel and knyp. Coetzee reached a broader audience when David Kramer's documentary Karoo Kitaar Blues was released in 2003.

Don't You Wish This Were Your Life?

This Girls album (Album) totally deserves all the hype; it's phenomenal!

10/5/09 - Stuff We're Listening To

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - White Lunar Alice Coltrane - Huntington Ashram Monastery Pastels/Tenniscoats - Two Sunsets
Judee Sill - Heart Food Girls - Album Fever Ray - s/t
Galaxie 500 - This Is Our Music Ducktails - Landscapes Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis



"The Mother"




White Lunar, a collection of Cave and Ellis's soundtrack collaborations, is out now. It's breathtaking. Order it HERE.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"All My Friends Are Funeral Singers" (New Califone!)



Several years ago, some friends and I saw Califone play a small gallery/loft show in Brooklyn. The light was just right, the crowd was eager, the band seemed relaxed and excited to be playing together.

If I remember correctly, it was their first show in a while, and the mood was that of a warm reunion. Percussionist Ben Massarella sent his musical saw singing across the hardwood floors and through the crowded, candlelit space. The audience went from eager to entranced. A seated and sheepish Tim Rutili was the furthest thing from a band-leader or frontman. He seemed more interested in getting swept up along with the crowd in the mounting swells and little cacophonies, throwing out fractured chords and embellishments from his Casio as the rest of the band knitted blankets of sound around his whiskey-drenched, half-narrative/half-dadaist lyrics. Jim Becker switched between banjo and fiddle, both perfectly aching. Joe Adamik's cymbals were bowed and brushed...

It was one of the most memorable shows I've ever been to. I'll stop trying to capture the memory in words. Needless to say, it further solidified Califone as one of my favorite bands.

And joy of all joys, they are about to follow up 2006's excellent Roots & Crowns with All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (scheduled for release on October 6, 2009 on Dead Oceans).

The (sort of) title track is reliably fantastic. I was mentioning to someone recently that I think one of the few common threads throughout all the art I love is subtlety, and Califone are definitely masters when it comes to reserved, unassuming beauty.

Here, take a listen...

Califone :: "Funeral Singers"




After the show, we strolled the streets of Brooklyn with the saw still singing in our ears and came across a family of raccoons, moseying leisurely along under the diffuse light of city street lamps. It was perfect.

You can Pre-Order All My Friends Are Funeral Singers HERE.

Here is the trailer for the companion feature-length film of the same name...

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers Trailer from Califone on Vimeo.


Here is the album's tracklist:
1. Giving Away the Bride
2. Polish Girls
3. 1928
4. Funeral Singers
5. SNAKE'S TOOTH = PROTECTION AGAINST FEVER AND LUCK IN GAMBLING
6. Buñuel
7. Ape-like
8. A WISH MADE WHILE BURNING ONIONS WILL COME TRUE
9. Evidence
10. Alice Marble Gray
11. Salt
12. Krill
13. SEVEN, FOURTEEN, OR TWENTY-ONE KNOTS
14. Better Angels
15. Lunar H.

And here are some tour dates:
October 10-11 Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL*
October 13 Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh, PA*
October 14 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH*
October 15 Mohawk Place Buffalo, NY
October 16 Cornell Cinema Ithaca, NY*
October 17 Ukrainian Federation Montreal, QC*
October 18 The Monkey House Winooski, VT
October 20 Iron Horse Music Hall Northampton, MA*
October 21 Space Portland, ME*
October 22 Brattle Theater Cambridge, MA*
October 23 92Y Tribeca New York, NY* (tickets)
October 24 World Café Live Philadelphia, PA
October 25 Rock and Roll Hotel Washington, DC
October 26 The Southern Charlottesville, VA*
October 27 The Earl Atlanta, GA
October 28 WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham, AL*
October 29 The Basement Nashville, TN
October 30 Bear's Place Bloomington, IN*
* - denotes a film performance

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spindler: The Monkey with 2 Mamas and a Papa



In an effort to prevent the inheritance of incurable genetic diseases, scientists have produced four baby primates each containing DNA from three parents. The technique is designed to allow mothers with genetic diseases to bear healthy offspring. Healthy DNA is taken from the sick mother's fertilized egg cell and transferred into a disease-free donor female's egg. Thus, two mothers.

The procedure could eradicate forms of epilepsy, heart disease, and blindness caused by mutations in the mitochondrial DNA passed from mother to offspring.

However, the research has already ignited a controversy.

Spindler, the macaque above, has three siblings: Mito, Tracker, and Spindy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't you "top 5" me.

Mount Eerie (aka Phil Elverum)
(photo of Phil Elvrum by Wheat Würtzburger)    

At some point the inevitable top 5 lists are pried out of you by your friends and frenemies; amongst those the most feared is the "top 5 favorite albums." How can you possibly narrow it down to 5? How can you be totally honest and still impress them with your impeccable taste?

The Microphones - The Glow Pt. 2When asked that question, one of the albums that always pops into my head is The Microphone's The Glow Pt. 2. Not only is it pretty much a masterpiece, you hear something new every time you listen to it (turntable required for the full experience).

The Microphones evolved into Mount Eerie, and Phil Elv(e)rum & co.'s new effort, Wind's Poem, is now in contention to take over as Elv(e)rum's definitive work. While Wind's Poem is much less assuming than the earlier masterpiece, it's overall more cohesive than The Glow Pt. 2, and hauntingly beautiful to boot.

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem

There's also an overt nod to Twin Peaks in the song "Between Two Mysteries," which I know is on your "top 5 television shows" list, right?

Mount Eerie — "Between Two Mysteries"




You can purchase the album directly from P.W. Elverum & Sun! Or HERE.

We ♥ Barney Frank

He is the first elected official I've heard in this "debate" who knows how to respond to idiocy...



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Last Abortion Doctor



hey hey! finally, i'm making good on my promise to post something on ysc. i'm a total rookie, so bear with.

i wanted to share not only my total fear of capital letters, but—serious now—this really incredible
article about doctor warren hern, from right in my backyard of boulder, colorado. i've had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of dr. hern on a few occassions and i have had the very good fortune to hear him speak several times.

there are some times in your personal experience when you meet someone and from the first time, you just know there is something special about them. difficult to describe, but if you have felt it, you know what i'm talking about. no matter how short your meeting is, they've left some kind of unexplainable, indelible mark on your psyche. that is how it is when you meet dr. hern. and from what i've heard about dr. tiller, he had that kind of effect as well.

anyway, this (gorgeously written) article from esquire is about dr. warren hern. i thought i admired him before i read it... now i am sure he is a hero. you should read it too and understand why his work is so fundamental.


The Last Abortion Doctor

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pastels/ Tenniscoats: "Vivid Youth"

I predict this will be my favorite album of the year...



You can pre-order the album HERE.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Tigers Jaw!

Tigers Jaw - Spirit Desire
Our friends Tigers Jaw—Scranton's best!—just put out a lovely new EP called Spirit Desire on fledgling label Tiny Engines, and it is spilling over with the same exuberant hooks and infectious vitality they've been honing since their superbly lo-fi debut, Tigers Jaw Belong to the Dead, on Summersteps a few years ago (take a listen to "Jet Alone" from that release). They keep evolving and surprising me with each new tune I hear. I can't even tell you how much I love these kids.

Take a listen to whole EP right here!



Download the title track, "Spirit Desire"!

Buy the EP HERE!!!!

You Can Get It If You Really Want



Here's what I'm listening to right now. It's just too good not to share it with all of you!



(download)

I think I've posted this photo before, but I love it so much I want to post it again...




You should definitely own this whole record if you don't already. I'd say it's the best of the many collections of Dekker's music that I've heard. Get it HERE.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lies and the Sad, Sad People Who Tell Them



As you may have heard, there is a big debate brewing around the proposed health care overhaul bill. And, of course, there are heaps of misinformation out there—forwarded from your "libertarian" great uncle, shouted at the progressively rowdier town hall meetings being held by lawmakers throughout the nation, and spilling from the lip-sticked/pit-bull(shit) mouth of the former Alaskan governor. Yes, that's right, if you were hoping to finally forget about that pathetic historical footnote, think again.

Sarah Palin apparently got that email from your great uncle, too, and before she had a chance to pick up "all o' them" newspapers to check the facts, the former Republican vice presidential candidate made a post on her Facebook page titled "Statement on the Current Health Care Debate" (yes, seriously). In the post, she refers to Obama's "death panel," which she states could—in Obama's usual commie/fascist fashion—deem certain elderly or handicapped individuals unworthy of health care. Here's the full quote:
"And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Wow. That is evil! Except...well...it isn't actually based in any semblance of reality.

If the former basketball star and beauty queen had any time in her hectic schedule—between all the fishing, ironic-fashion-statement-making, inhumane hunting, and job-quitting—to, I don't know, maybe actually read the legislation before taking her fear-mongering to the trusted forum of Facebook, she might have realized that the health care plan includes nothing nearly so devious. In fact, the provision she was (probably) referring to would simply authorize Medicare to compensate doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care. If the patient wishes! To be clear: the government will not start killing our grandparents if they can't do jumping jacks.

The Associated Press did some fact-checking, and here are some questions/answers about the controversy/conspiracy-theory:
Q: Does the health care legislation bill promote "mercy killing," or euthanasia?
A: No.

Q: Then what's all the fuss about?
A: A provision in the House bill written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill, and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort.
The sessions would be covered every five years, more frequently if someone is gravely ill.

Q: Is anything required?
Monsignor Charles Fahey, 76, a Catholic priest who is chairman of the board of the National Council on Aging, a nonprofit service and advocacy group, says no.
"We have to make decisions that are deliberative about our health care at every moment," Fahey said. "What I have said is that if I cannot say another prayer, if I cannot give or get another hug, and if I cannot have another martini — then let me go."

Q: Does the bill advocate assisted suicide?
A: No. It would block funds for counseling that presents suicide or assisted suicide as an option.

Q: Who supports the provision?
A: The American Medical Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Consumers Union are among the groups supporting the provision. AARP, the seniors' lobby, is taking out print advertisements this week that label as false the claim that the legislation will empower the government to take over life-and-death decisions from individuals.

Q: Should the federal government be getting involved with living wills and end-of-life questions — decisions that are highly personal and really difficult?
A: It already is.
The government requires hospitals to ask adult patients if they have a living will, or "advance directive." If the patient doesn't have one, and wants one, the hospital has to provide assistance. The mandate on hospitals was instituted during a Republican administration, in 1992, under President George H.W. Bush.

Q: How does a living will work, and how is it different from a health care proxy?
A: A living will — also called an advance directive — spells out a patient's wishes if he or she becomes incapacitated. Often people say they don't want to be kept alive on breathing machines if their condition is terminal and irreversible.
A health care proxy empowers another person to make medical decisions should the patient become incapacitated.
There's also a power-of-attorney, which authorizes another person to make financial decisions for someone who is incapacitated.
Such legal documents have become standard estate-planning tools in the last twenty years.

Q: Would the health overhaul legislation change the way people now deal with making end-of-life decisions?
A: It very well could.
Supporters of the provision say the main consequence would be to formally bring doctors into a discussion that now takes place mainly among family members and lawyers.
"When you execute a legal document with your lawyer, it ends up in your files and in the lawyer's files," said John Rother, a senior policy and strategy adviser for AARP. "Unless the doctor is part of this discussion, it's unlikely that your wishes will be respected. The doctor will be the one involved in any decisions."
The American Medical Association says involving doctors is simple common sense.
"There has been a lot of misinformation about the advance care planning provisions in the bill," AMA President Dr. James Rohack said in a statement. "It's plain, old-fashioned medical care."

Q: So why are some people upset?
A: Some social conservatives say stronger language is needed to protect seniors from being pressured into signing away their rights to medical treatment in a moment of depression or despair.
The National Right to Life Committee opposes the provision as written.
"I'm not aware of 'death panels' in the bill," said David O'Steen, executive director of the group. "I'm not aware of anything that says you will be hauled before a government bureaucrat. But we are concerned ... it doesn't take a lot to push a vulnerable person — perhaps unwittingly — to give up their right to life-sustaining treatment."

OK. So, the lesson to be learned: don't believe every email you get from your crazy uncle or every Facebook post by Sarah Palin.

Please speak up to all the bullshit. Reply to those emails your relatives forward you with your educated rebuttals. It's sad, really, because many of those decrying the bill as socialist or whatever are actually those who would benefit most from it, and it is merely bad information that allows their judgment to remain so clouded by fear and to be manipulated by special interests who greedily want the status quo to remain in place, making the rich richer while devastating families with insane health care costs and a system-for-profit that negates basic humanity and compassion.

To learn more of the truth about the health care bill, visit this new site set up by the White House to counter all the fictitious claims about the plan.