Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Democratic Party

There's a lot of jibber-jabber today in Washington about "civility." Moscow Mitch today was bemoaning something he called "partisan paralysis." House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said today that impeachment efforts were "divisive." And, the USA Toady published this today: Divided we fall? Americans see our angry political debate as 'a big problem'

Republicans have so far pushed the idea that the impeachment proceedings are due to Democratic butthurt that a reporter (from Sinclair Broadcasting, of course) today asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi today if she "hates" the preznit.

She didn't like that very much.

So I can tell you one thing I think needs to happen in order to pierce a little spit-hole into the divisive nature of American politics. It is a simple thing to be done, and it could be done by an entire political faction all at once, and it would create a wealth of good will in the American political discussions.

Attention, Republicans: Stop calling it the "Democrat Party."

If you're not aware, the phenomenon is even laid out at Wikiepedia: "Democrat Party is an epithet for the Democratic Party in the United States, used in a disparaging fashion by the party's opponents. While historical usage includes non-hostile appearances, the term has grown in its negative use since the 1940s, in particular by members of the Republican Party—in party platforms, partisan speeches, and press releases—as well as by conservative commentators.[1]"

Using "Democrat" where "Democratic" would be preferred is a bullying tactic. It is not grammatical. And this practice alone is divisive on its face. So long as Republicans continue to employ this incorrect usage time after time, it will be difficult to leave divisiveness behind toward a more effective democratic republic.

One can dream.

Speaking of divisiveness, Republicans are outraged that impeachment witness, law scholar Pamela Karlan dared to invoke young Barron Trump's name as an example/mild joke. Here is what she said, as reported by Vox:

"Contrary to what President Trump says, Article Two [of the Constitution] does not give [Trump] the power to do anything he wants. And I’ll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he cannot make him a baron.”

Karlan later apologized, after Republican shit their pants over this. Rep. Matt Gaetz yelled at Karlan for daring to invoke Barron's name Barron's name.

I want to remind everyone that John McCain once stood up at a dinner and said this, attempting a joke: “Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father.” Chelsea Clinton was 18 years old at the time.

This was not that.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Lame New Talking Point from Rand Paul

So, it turns out that Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, is full of shit.

Paul appeared this morning on Meet the Press, where Chuck Todd asked him about Rudy Giuliani's involvement in this Ukraine jazz and if he found it disturbing. Paul, of course, automatically went to "but...but...the Democrats."

Rand repeated a stupid charge by the Preznit and told Todd: "Everybody is going after President Trump. Someone needs to actually, in an objective way, evaluate a letter from four Democrats that said to Ukraine, if you don’t keep investigating Trump, we will reconsider our bipartisan support for aid. That’s a threat and that’s the same kind of stuff they’re accusing Trump of."

Here is the letter. It does not mention foreign aid. It does ask three questions regarding Ukraine's then-reported involvement in the Mueller probe.

The letter was signed by three senators: Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Richard Durbin of Illinois, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee; and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who also sits on Judiciary. This was three senators, acting within the proper context of their committee assignments to inquire about possible obstruction of justice.

The current Preznit is accused of strong-arming a foreign head of state into backing an investigation into his own political opponent and primary frontrunner.

It is not the same thing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Let's Hear Now From Fox News Viewer Eileen Eulich

Fox News reduced to segments quoting anti-Clinton Twitter bot named Hugh Janus (BoingBoing)

Wherin your inner eye should spy pneumatic feathered masterpiece or mild-mannered dragon, don't regret the mess you'll get when jetting out and leaving spread madly vetted minarettes.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Your Tax Dollars At Work

There was a Monday in July when Rochester residents went about their days to a tragic story. A three-year-old boy died at a Tim Hortons restaurant downtown. If you've spent any time in downtown Rochester, you know exactly where that Tim Horton's store is, it's the one in front of the Price-Rite that seems like it's just in the way. The toddler's mother had taken the kid to work with her. Police were called at 10:56 a.m. on July 15 about a missing child. He was found a few minutes later, having fallen into a poorly-guarded grease trap outside. From all accounts, it was a harrowing event. According to the Democrat and Chronicle:

Witnesses removed the child from the grease trap and administered CPR until first responders arrived. Employees were seen crying outside and consoling each other after the child was taken away by ambulance.

Today, it was reported that Monroe County had swept 2,500 businesses in the area for grease trap safety checks. Four were found not to have been covered properly, and the county worked with those businesses to remediate those problems. The county currently has no regulations regarding these gizmos, but new legislation has been forwarded at the county level. A public hearing will be held to talk about that proposal on September 10 at the Monroe County Legislature at 6:45 p.m.

In July 2019, the public of Monroe County was alerted to a deadly problem in a startling way. The government acted immediately and swiftly, eliciting the cooperation of two thousand five hundred businesses in a month and is already acting to ensure this emergency action is not merely singular, to ensure that going forward, this previously overlooked problem will not recur, and that another Tenitia Cullum will not have to lose another child to an uncovered grease trap in Monroe County again.

I cannot imagine the "free-market" solution that would have acted so swiftly and so decisively in reaction to this shocking tragedy. And yet, there are some who would think that our government overreached and that, somehow, supply and demand would have done a much better job.

Kudos to our Republican County Manager for her bold leadership and for grabbing the government reigns to quickly address this issue. Perhaps free-market solutions can wait around for another urgent matter to address.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Good Eats: The Return

I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me that Alton Brown is back to his roots. This man taught me how to cook well. Here is the first episode, courtesy of Cooking Channel, on YouTube. Chicken parmesan, ya'll.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Linux Spelled Backwards is xunil

On this date in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. It was 37 pages long.
In Other News

Monday, August 12, 2019

Not To Put Too Fine a Point On It

"I don't think he's a white nationalist, but I think that the white nationalists think the he's a white nationalist, and that's even more troubling." (South Carolina Republigoat Mark Sanford on Hardball tonight)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Quentin Tarantino is one sick bastard.

I am about to write about a movie that is currently in the theaters, called Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I have seen the movie, and I am about to write about the movie. This means reading the following may not behoove you if you have not seen said movie and intend to. Requisite spoiler alert handled. Get on with yer bad self.

I don't know about you, but the first thing that tickled me about Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" was an unabashed, non-masked appropriation of the Wilhelm scream.

It is the first hint to its audience of what this film is: It is, on the whole, Tarantino's mash note, his Lloyd Dobbler with boom-box raised above his head scene, his rose petals sprinkled over the bed and chocolate covered strawberries to Hollywood.

And it is this in multitudes. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt play, respectively, an early-'60s western series actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman Cliff Booth, now in 1969 when America's love for shows like Gunsmoke and The Rifleman are fading. Dalton is being wooed for Italian spaghetti westerns and resists, though his current spate of jobs is guest-starring as the heavy on the remaining shoot-em-ups on television. It is within this context that Tarantino gets to create a mini-western within his film, a phrase that is challenging, frustrating, doubtful, and in the end victoriously redemptive for Dalton.

Tarantino, as you might know, is a master at mis-direction. His movies pull quarters out of your ears and put the card you picked into your own pocket. There is a macguffin in Hollywood but it's not a fucking briefcase. It's the Manson murders and what Tarantino is going to do with them. Is he going to do what I had expected and create a vengeance motive? Or would he dare to once again change a huge story's ending, as he did in Showing results for Inglourious Basterds and to some extent in Django Unchained?

Well, as Tarantino bashes you over the head with near the film's end, THE MOVIE IS CALLED ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. It's named like a fairy tale. What do you think happens?

What happens in the end is yet another Tarantino vengeance fantasy. For most of the film, harsh violence is more whispered than it is shown. Until the end. Until the end. Holy forking shirtballs, until the end. But, as in Basterds and Django, it is a bizarre pop-culture catharsis. Unlike those films, the violence is depicted in a way that unscrews the lid completely. You will see a person's face as a mangled, bloody stub. It may help you feel better that the person portrayed is Patricia Krenwinkel, one of the Manson Helter Skelter clan.

My Dad and I agreed that this would somehow via butterfly effect have been a better world had Tarantino's story played out, had two washed up Hollywood boys thwarted the most infamous Hollywood murder ever, had Sharon Tate been allowed to carry her pregnancy to term, or even, what the hell, had Jay Sebring not been shot, kicked in the face, and stabbed to death at age 36.

Somehow, Tarantino's rewriting of these events is incredibly uplifting.

Once upon a time. The most fucked up fairy tale I've ever seen.

P.S. Margaret Qualley has impossibly beautiful legs. There, I said it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Shit in 'Purple Rain' that Doesn't Make Sense

The film Purple Rain makes soooooooooo much more sense if you assume that the mother is dead and is a ghost haunting his father.

I don't see another way to explain the profound level of derangement that Francis L. exhibits throughout the film, all the way to his attempted suicide (or suicide? the film isn't clear on this) near the end. I mean, Francis' uttered complaints toward his wife (played respectively by Clarence Williams III—better known to you perhaps as Linc Hays—and Olga Karlatos) are random and weird, mainly he seems to think she runs around on him and that she doesn't keep a clean house. His lines, according to the screenplay, are: "Listen to me! You come home when I say come home! You've got no business in the streets!" and then "You do what I say, do you hear me?! You've got to keep this place clean! You here, no place else!"

The derangement of Francis L. and his wife (unnamed in the film so far as I can tell)—to the point that I prefer watching the film with the assumption that she is actually a dead person—is but one of the things regarding this film that I often comment don't make any sense. I've commented often enough that my Mom asked me today, well, if it's such a bad movie, then why do you watch it?

This week, I spun it up on the old DVD machine because it was released 35 years ago July 27. So to some extent, I watch it regularly because of nostalgia. Because its music was life-altering for me. Because it is the vehicle that propelled Prince into orbit. Because the performance footage is still some of the best ever filmed. Because Prince died three years ago and I'll never forget.

That doesn't mean the story itself makes any sense at all.

Here are the items that stuck out to me as I enjoyed the film last night:

  • The Kid is ALWAYS late to rehearsal.
  • Apollonia is from NEW ORLEANS? NEW ORLEANS? And she's come to Minneapolis to make it? MINNEAPOLIS? Who is she, Mary Tyler Moore?
  • The Kid never speaks to Morris. Not once.
  • Francis L tells the kid that he has all of his music in his head. "I don't write them down," he says. "I don't have to. That's the difference between you and me." We never see The Kid notate any music anywhere in the movie. Nowhere. The Kid never puts pen to paper anywhere in the movie, not even to sign a check, much less to create a music manuscript.
  • Billy Sparks, proprietor at First Avenue, has three acts and don’t need four, so one of ya’ll has got to go. What would you do in his position? I’d tell you that doesn’t make any fucking sense. A music venue needs many many many acts playing to keep the audience showing up. This is why bands tour. I’d invite bands from other towns to come in and play at your club, man, rather than trying to make your house bands compete so they can go from four to three so you can have a smaller take in the end. That is a business model that does not make sense.
  • The film "Purple Rain" spends 21 seconds watching Apollonia applying for a job. 21 seconds. Why not extend the scene and let's watch her fill out her W-2s.
  • The Kid is a terrible kisser.
  • The Kid attacks shelves and shelves of home preserves. THESE PEOPLE HAD TIME TO GARDEN? WHEN? WHEN?
  • "I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain." Then maybe let's cool down on the bitch-slapping your girlfriend, Kid.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

While The City Sleeps

Trump's Latest Racist Comments Included Calling A Majority Black Area A "Disgusting Rat And Rodent Infested Mess" (Buzzfeed)

You may even disagree that Trump's comments are racist in tone. I think it is more difficult to agree that the President of the United States should be using the Bully Pulpit to attack and denigrate a specific congressional district just because he has a disagreement with its duly-elected representative. This is disgusting.


Friday, July 26, 2019

This Is Even Weirder Than You Think It Is

As it often happens, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow went the extra mile last night on reporting an ongoing story. I mean, you all have heard by now about the doctored presidential seal and how hilarious that was, yeah?

Rachel had the b-roll for the event itself, which was something called "Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action," which she refers to as a "right-wing youth group," which, if yinz know your history at all, is a rather terrifying turn of words as it stands. Anyway, you can go watch Maddow's treatment of this story here.

So, watching the thing, it occurred to me that another story got missed. Have a look:

Now, bear in mind, this entire introduction is astonishingly stupid. I keep saying that Trump does stuff like a guy who's a six-year-old who thinks that's what the Presidency is—the July 4 spectacle being the most prominent example. This AV nightmare also reflects that; it's a dark, militaristic nightmare of a piece meant to make this small idiot feel like Thor. But checkout the screen capture above.

Trump has emblazoned his name in huge red letters on top of the relatively tiny (un-fake) presidential seal.

We can be fairly sure this violates the official style guidelines on use of the seal, and we can be even more sure that this is an abomination. It elevates the man above the office. It is gauche and shitty. And it certainly tells you everything you need to know about how this asshole perceives the office and his role in it.

One of the largest problems with the Trump presidency is that he neither understands nor respects the office. I have never seen a clearer visual representation of this truth.

Digby sez: "The people need to keep up the pressure on their representatives. They are all going home for the August recess and they will be available to their constituents. If you have the ability to go and see them or contact their local offices to demand an impeachment inquiry, now is the time to do it."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My mon Mueller don't shiv

Sometimes I find these on the Internet. Here's what was in Light, New and Breakout Rotation on MTV the week of June 8, 1985.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Stay High

Hi. Britanny Howard has come out with a thing, and it is just as good as you'd expect. She's magical.

Bonus preview audio:

Album drops Sept. 20.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

It's 'Democratic'

I have been a "cord cutter" for a long time. In its last iteration, my entertainment system relied on an over-the-air antenna and a Tivo with perhaps one or two streaming services. I have also been a big fan of a service called YouTube TV, which not only provides streaming but also offers live television and a sort of hybrid DVR/streaming service that works extremely well. That was as far off the grid as I could stand, and I enjoyed it.

But then my building cut a deal with Spectrum to put 100/100 Internet in our building with cable television. And I thought great, it'll save me $60 a month that I was spending on Internet. I hadn't, of course, calculated that once I had the service, I'd want DVR and premium channels as well. The package includes HBO, Showtime, Cooking Channel, and -- surprisingly to me the one that I am watching the most these days -- Turner Classic Movies.

Lately in the mornings I try to put C-SPAN at least in the background, but there's no Congress this week, so it's been MSNBC instead. As such, I caught something on Joy Reid's "A.M. Joy" yesterday that may make her show a weekend staple for me. It was fabulous.

Essentially, Reid had among her panel a person identified as a "Republican strategist." And this person referred to something called the "Democrat Party."


And, apparently, it's not the first time. Here she is correcting a guest previously:

Everyone should do this. Everyone. Chris Matthews should. Rachel Maddow should. Thom Hartmann should (I believe I've heard him do this, in fact). Chuck Todd should. Nancy Pelosi should. Everyone who gives even a teeny tiny shit about the Democratic Party should take the time to correct this linguistic idiocy, each and every time.

It was a bit on the nose, too, that as I watched this happen yesterday, they were talking about Rep. Justin Amash's recent announcement that he is leaving the Republican Party while complaining about factional tribalism in American politics.

Because how can we possibly restore more civility to our civic matters when one of our major political parties regularly employs a known bullying technique of disparaging the opposition by withdrawing the respect to even call it by its proper name?

How can we even talk to each other when you insist on "Democrat Party?"


Dear Punditry: Do more than correct these troglodytes. Call them out. Ask them why they do it. Make them explain it. Shame the fuck out of them. Because every time a Democrat hears "Democrat Party" and blinks their eyes and allows it to shoot into the Jet Stream, it is a pinprick of a victory that your opponent did not earn. You know it's bullying. You know it's a flaming bag of shit on your porch.

Put a stop to it.

Be like Joy.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Cold Turkey

Maybe I'm just anthropomorphizing, but I think that turkey is in a panic.

Just in the time it took me to walk to my car, I've seen the bird dart across the parking lot a few times. He's pecking at the grass in front of the apartment, which is farther than I'd ever seen him venture before. The he darts back to the now razor-thing treeline and waits there as if any hiding there is possible.

I do not give this bird a week to live, and I feel bad about it, and there is nothing I can do.

I noticed the turkey maybe a month ago. He had a buddy as well, but this guy was clearly the grand-daddy, large enough that he made this human a little nervous. Turkeys are goofy-looking, but I would not put it past a full-grown one to be able to peck a person to at least some sort of treatable injury. I know this first-hand from the summer my family tried to raise a flock of them. They like to climb, and they like to peck.

One of the nicest amenities of my apartment has been this lush wooded area that has been my view. Well, about a month or so ago, capitalism began the process of taking that away from me. I'd hear them as early as 7 a.m. ripping trees out over there. Last week, I got back from a week out of town, and sure enough, they'd finished that stage of the project. Now only a faint treeline exists between my property and several acres of newly uncovered dirt where there used to be trees.

I've seen deer, I've heard foxes, and I've seen these turkeys, not to mention other wildlife. This was quite an active scene. I can't imagine how many birds alone had their entire ways of life disrupted because Sam Mustache needed to build a new industrial park. And this turkey. This poor panicked turkey. Were that I could take him in for a while. Have him crash on my futon until he gets back on his feet.

"In a truly good economy, helping the ducks cross the road safely would be a well-paying job." (A.B. Pryor)
So this guy is my new favorite YouTube car guy.

Isn't he wacky?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Peter, if Nicole calls, be suspicious!

Since my Dear Old Dad brought it up in the comments, it gives me an excuse to recall this beautiful, beautiful moment. I watched this live on television as it happened. It was glorious.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Anything Else, Robin?

It's a strange phenomena, one that usually happens when, as this morning, I wake up early (7 a.m. this morning) and then return to bed for a bit more sleep, putting on The Howard Stern Show to lull me.

What happens is, the show enters my dreams. So I'm dreaming I'm hanging out with Howard, Robin, Fred, and Bababooey. This morning, I dreamed we were all around a big table, and Howard was presenting weird food to the rest of us. And, for some reason, I thought of what I thought was a very funny joke.

"Passover Junior!" I exclaimed.

Do not ask me to explain the joke. In my dream, it was hilarious.

But here's the thing about when this happens: When I'm dreaming the show, I don't have a voice.

Because while the dream is going on, the Show that's playing on the radio is driving the dream. I'm seeing Howard and the gang in my dream and I'm there with them, but their conversation is coming from the radio, which does not interact with the me in my dream.

This morning, my reaction was to repeat the joke, louder.


Then the dreaming me crossed my arms.

And then I woke up.

Archived Comment from Tim Pryor: Bababooie to y’all!

Saturday, April 27, 2019


"This is for why I wasn't born like my brother, handsome and tall"

This line, from the previously mentioned song "Lady Cab Driver," likely refers to Prince's half-brother Duane Nelson, who in their high school days was on the basketball and football teams and actually became related to Prince when he was 14 and his father remarried. Ronin Ro writes that people in high school always felt Duane had Prince's back. Duane would later go on to head up security at Paisley Park but would later become estranged. He died in 2013. More on Nelson at that time from the famous C.J.

Apologies for the random fact. I've picked up Ro's Inside the Music and the Masks again. And you might imagine how excited I am by the Prince news that a new release is forthcoming in June. Yeah, well, I'm not, and I don't think I'm the only Prince fan who is somewhat underwhelmed.

So when Prince gave an artist a song, he would hand them a tape. He would have done at least most of the tracks, the rhythm, the melodies, and the vocals. He pretty much expected the artist to deliver the track as originally conceived. Sometimes, as was the case for "A Love Bizarre," for example, Prince's guide vocals stayed on the track.

June's upcoming release is those.

So, let's recap. Since April 2016, they have released a deluxe Purple Rain, with many extras but no real effort to produce it; two best-of collections; Piano and a Microphone 1983, which is basically demos and sound checks; and now Originals, which is a buncha more demos.

Folks: If The Vault doesn't exist, just say so, okay?

The HitnRun phases are a perfectly great place to close out the catalog. They are wonderful recordings that I would place anywhere in the Prince universe regarding their excellence. He even seems to say a nonchalant "goodbye" at the end of Phase Two's last track, "Big City." It's rather perfect. Just close the catalog and admit that there are no more Prince albums.

By the way, there is a pile of material Prince fans are clamoring for. Release the out-of-print Jill Jones. Release The Family. Release Dez Dickerson's album. Release a deluxe Parade and include the 10-inch Mountains. Release a deluxe ATWIAD and include the 10-inch "Raspberry Beret."

I mean not to get too negative, but I don't really need Prince's recording of "Dear Michaelangelo," "Sex Shooter," "Manic Monday," or "The Glamorous Life." And I have never cared and never will that he wrote a song for Kenny Rogers, so the "You're My Love" demo isn't high on my list, either. Mainly, though, I think this release delivers Prince fans a message: The Vault is a myth. There are no new Prince albums, and nor are there creative, innovative people in charge right now of whatever is there.

I don't reckon I'll be dashing over to the wrecka stow for this one.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Will You Accept My Tears To Pay The Fare?

I got my first copy of Prince's 1999 album accidentally.

See, when I was a kid, they had this brilliant sales tactic called a "record club." So you signed up, and then if you didn't cancel an order, they sent you the record anyway. This was a brilliant selling tactic that probably should have been illegal. But as a result, one of the albums I ended up with was weird and purple and had a penis on it.

Face it. That "1" in 1999 is a phallus. It just is. Let's move on.

I had a bias at the time, I have to admit. I mean I was what, 14? And I didn't like this boom-boom music. So I accepted the record, but I didn't listen to it, for a while. I just didn't. Until, one day, I did. I think it's because "Delirious" was on the radio. I got it out and listened to it.

And this song came on.

It was called "Lady Cab Driver."

There is a drum beat, and Prince calling for a taxi. Funky guitar and bass. Then Prince regaling the "lady cab driver" and engaging her in light conversation but then begging her for relief via escape.

Then there are the clock-chimes and the water-blow noises. And the part where he's f*ing that broad and giving her the what-for.

And what's with that flute-synth sound ?

And then the traffic noises continue and we fade into "All The Critics Love You In New York"

and I

was instantly a Prince fan

and I always will be

U no what I'm talkin' about.


The eighth performance in the film Sign O' The Times is a drum solo by Sheila E. The "E" stands for "Escavedo." Her father is Pete Escovedo, a renowned percussionist in his own right. Tito Puente was her godfather, and she is also auntie to a young lady you may have heard of called "Nicole Ritchie." Sheila was romantically involved with Prince at one time and, I was stunned to learn, was also in a thing at one time with Carlos Santana. Yeah.

Her album, "In The Glamorous Life" was always one of my very favorite Prince albums.

But there is a moment in the middle of her drum solo I think about often, because it shows her to be one of the most terrifying drummers out there. During the solo, Sheila gets rid of her sticks and starts beating the cymbals with her hands.

I have never seen another drummer do this. To my knowledge, Mick Fleetwood never did this, nor did John Bonham, nor even Stumpy Joe Childs. This is a move it took a girl drummer to do. She is the fiercest drummer ever and don't ever forget it.


Prince didn't merely record albums. He forged worlds. And for a while, one could look forward to entering one of these worlds pretty much annually. I've spent a good amount of time at Paisley Park (it's in your heart), and at Christopher Tracy's Parade. I've been talking stuff in the Violent Room, and I have kept Vicky waiting. I was of the New Power Generation and wanted to change the world.

And, I have most certainly spent a lot of time experiencing a religious epiphany known as "Lovesexy."

It was three years ago on a Thursday. I had taken April 22 off of work to drive to my Grandma's house for her birthday with my Dad. I had taken a break to peek at my phone, and there were reports of a body found in Chanhassen. Later reports confirmed the body belonged to Prince. He had been found slumped over in an elevator, which I immediately found to have been horribly poetic.

Punch a higher floor.

Strangely, that weekend, I had to explain Prince to my 92-year-old grandmother. To explain to her how widely admired was the Dude Extraordinaire, I broke out the big comparison. What was it like, I asked her, when you lost Glenn Miller?

I watched Purple Rain every night for a week once I returned. I have since re-written it in my head because it is not a good movie. I have also since purchased and digested Art Official Age, PlectrumElectrum, and Hit and Run Phases One and Two. These, his last released works, would all sit comfortably next to anything he had ever done; they are that good, which I find to be the largest shame of his end. I think he was ready to unleash at least another decade's worth of music on us.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mary Don't You Weep

With the litany of production credits that trails at the end of the "new" Aretha Franklin film Amazing Grace, it is an astonishing miracle that the film exists as it does, completely unadulterated. There is a brief text crawl that introduces the film, explaining why this rare and exceptional performance occurred, and then you are allowed to simply watch. There are no self-aggrandizing interviews, such as in The Last Waltz, for example. Nobody talks about what's happening or attempts to shine light on the events. You just get to watch. And that is wonderful.

Franklin is brilliant as expected, but you're also treated to one of the finest call-and-response partners there is, James Cleveland; not to mention the Southern California Community Choir. As Mr. Cleveland points out to the audience at one point, the project could have just been another studio effort by Franklin, but that the point of recording at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church is to get audience reaction on the record, as well.

And hey. Mick Jagger and his friend Charlie Watts are in the audience as well. Because of course they are.

The film, captured on 16 mm film by filmmaker Sydney Pollack, could not originally be released because of a technical screw-up that prevented audio synchronization. Later techniques fixed this problem, but, I was sad to learn, Franklin sued to keep it from being screened. That's a shame because it's a film that shows her as a mighty powerful presence.

Amazing Grace is a joy for a music nerd like me. The only problems I had with it are that it made me want so badly to be in the room and that made this non-believer want to find a black Baptist church and sign up. Have you ever been to one of those services? I have. One of those might make Bob Ingersoll a believer.

Seriously, though: Amazing Grace is one of those things you will regret not having seen in the theater. It is a beautiful document, treated carefully and honorably by its caretakers. What a wonderful thing to get to experience.

Sunday, March 10, 2019


"As a Republican, I just marvel how Democrats trip over their own shoelaces on this. We have President Trump tweet that the communist economy of North Korea, under the dynamic leadership of its dictatorial leader could achieve unprecedented economic growth; the president routinely picks favorites among companies; he is erecting tariffs walls, which are taxes on American exporters, and Democrats can't figure out how to defend a market economy with social insurance programs? And let this guy claim the mantel of being the champion of free enterprise? Really?" (David Frum on Face the Nation today)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Now, the Real Shit

Since I've now covered that ground, it's time to deal with the real shit: The 2020 race has begun, good people. And I have to say, and this might surprise some folks who know me pretty well--it is entirely possible that, in 2020, I may be feeling the Bern'. Understand, please, that I was a real Hillary girl in 2016, and that to a large extent, this was somewhat to the genuine annoyance of some close to me, I'm sure. My go-to line was "Have I mentioned yet that I cannot wait to vote for Hillary Clinton?" There was a point to all that. You know, when it came to Hillary, people talked about an "enthusiasm gap." They'd talk about going to vote for her wit' holding their noses. I can't see voting for her, I heard--she just has too much baggage. And this was all from Democrats. My point, was that one could insist on fueling the "enthusiasm gap," or one could choose get get excited about voting for a mightily-qualified, glass-ceiling shattering, first-time Planned Parenthood endorsed candidate. The "enthusiasm gap" isn't a thing. It's you. And I am one who thinks that the Sanders campaign contributed to the Trump victory in 2016, that he stayed in the race far after he was mathematically cooked, and that he spent his time and effort shit-talking the process itself, doing everything he could to undermine the presumptive nominee's credibility until he finally, and I think begrudgingly, endorsed her in July. I absolutely think that Sanders played a role in our current regime under our own little President Baltar, and I think anyone who dismisses this out-of-hand hasn't really done the math. Not that I defend the Clinton camp like Tuukka Rask stops hockey pucks. I can't. Mistakes were made. Hubris did ensue. The candidate leaned too hard on "look at this braying jackass" rather than so much on "I am a really great broad." She chose a horrible running mate who added no energy to the campaign (can't even remember his name, can you?)

But stopping short at "she didn't win because she was a shitty candidate" just doesn't do it. Not when she actually won by more than 3 million votes. Not when the FBI chief dropped a flaming bag of poop on the door on Oct. 28. Not when Vladimir Putin was literally feeding people the weirdest talking points about our girl ever and actively organizing within the American electoral process.

Or, as FiveThirtyEight put it:

Campaigns probably don't have that much impact in presidential elections. Clinton's campaign made some tactical errors but these likely weren't enough to cost her the electoral college, especially given that she lost states such as Pennsylvania and Florida where she had campaigned extensively.

But I am a voter who tends to reset. I tend to whoosh the slate clean, as I did in 2012 to support Clinton, who I despised after 2008, after she fought and hung on, seemingly threatening a big D win and a vital one at that. (The truth is, Hillary had a far more valid argument for staying in than Bernie did--the math in that race was actually darned close, and it was not out of the realm of possibility considering the potential pull of unpledged delegates.)

I believe in starting over. And, my friends, you cannot deny the fundraising numbers. Bernie Sanders does not apparently suffer an "enthusiasm gap."

There is, in fact, only one candidate so far I wish would walk the plank. The way I see it, Barry, this is the time to let these people woo me. And Bernie comes at this from a more powerful position than before. So I might be woo'd, indeed. However, I think that Kamala Harris broad has some pretty good skills as well.

We'll just see how this goes.

Aren't you glad this one wasn't about shitting?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What Is Wrong With People

So, this is a post about shitting. Specifically, about me shitting. So, if you don't want to read about me shitting or about shitting generally, you may just move on.

I usually shit every day at 4:30 right after my day at work. It's just when it happens, and getting it done before my admittedly short drive home just makes the drive a happier experience. I could wait because my home is literally less than a mile away from where I work. But that's a longer distance if you've gone eight hours without shitting. Plus, it makes it possible to run errands on the way home, which I would not want to attempt without shitting before leaving the work-job. I generally despise shitting in a public restroom, but this just seems to be better strategic move and better logistically. Plus that time seems to be a fairly low-volume time for the men's in the front. So: I leave my stuff at my desk, I clock out, I go shit, I wash my hands, then I go get my stuff and leave. It works. Usually.

Except today, I had to shit at lunchtime, which is usually about 2 p.m. I mean, you know. HAD to.

So I clocked out and made my way to the front head. I was in luck. It was completely empty. I made my way to my favorite stall (the one where rolling out the TP sounds like a TARDIS engine), prepped, and sat. Now this was going to be a particularly farty shit. There is no denying this. I knew it. I even gave an initial courtesy flush during the initial run. And bear in mind my position: The handicapped stall is to my right and there are at least four other stalls to my left. I am literally the only shitter in the room.

So I'm executing this ladylike shit of mine, and a guy walks in. And he doesn't hesitate. His gait has no pause, no pondering, no decisions in it, no weighing out values and societal norms. He hears the farting shitting mess in my stall and decides yeah man. I wanna sit in the stall next to that. And, he does. He enters the stall right next to me, despite his embarrassing wealth of choices farther way, and he preps up, sits down, and proceeds to blow his nose.

I'm appalled. I'm taken aback, and I'm certainly feeling shy. What the living fuck? Dude had a fat luxury of many stalls away from me, and his choice is to have a poop buddy? I thought about introducing myself, maybe going for daps under the wall, hey man, how's it hangin, that kind of thing. Instead, I wanted to sit next to this? You got it, pal.

I gave it everything I had. No courtesy flushing. No shyness. I just exhausted every bit of supply I had, as quickly, as noisily, and as mercilessly as I possibly could. Then I finished my ablutions and went my merry way.

But. Seriously people. There are rules. I think it's in the Constitution somewhere.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On The Basis of Sects

"Well, if that’s how you think you want to spend your time.” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg's initial response to her nephew Daniel Stiepleman when he pitched her the idea of making a movie based on the first case she ever argued with her late husband Marty)

So, Sunday my Uncle Hat and I saw a movie. He is here for family business and also for a bit of fun here in Rochester New York. And there are some movies he ain't seen. So we have been going to some movies.

Today we saw On The Basis Of Sex, the new biopic of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Enjoyed it well. I am glad to note that RBG herself finds the portrayal to be mostly accurate, largely because she was profoundly involved in the project. And it is a fine film, though I did find myself going over the laundry list that most biopics seem obligated to tick off. This film does everything you anticipate it to do. Here's her first day at Harvard, where the professor calls on two men before being placed into a force to call on Ginsburg, whose answer is far superior. Here's her fighting with the chauvinistic dean. Here's how she found her landmark case. Blah blah blah. Check, check, check.

Fortunately, this movie does it well. Really well. No Oscar love for this thing--not even Original Screenplay, Academy? Really? Oh, well. Perhaps there's too much RBG power in the nominations with the two nominations of the documentary of that particular honorific. But it is a fine film. A little rote, but well done.

Anyways, since I'm writing movies today, let's for my own reference most of all list all the Oscar-nominated films I've seen...and, go: A Star Is Born, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Vice.

Wow. I've really got some work to do.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Dilly Dilly

You know your life is weird when a Bud Light commercial on the television causes consternation to you. But hey. That's how I roll.

So a Bud Light commercial ran during the Superb Owl that criticized rival beers for using corn syrup. This advertising claim is a disingenuous mess.

Making beer goes like this: You make a sugar soup, and you add seasoning to the soup. You then add a living organism that eats sugar and burps carbon dioxide and alcohol, and you wait. Now, while I don't think corn syrup is among the finest ingredients a beer maker can include in a recipe, it's all just sugar to the yeast. The point being that using a grain syrup in the brewing process is a completely fine practice -- in fact, most home-brewed beverage start with a hot stock pot full of water and a big can of grain syrup. Only the nerdiest home zymurgists steep their own grains. Without pre-fab grain syrup, hobbyist brewers would be fewer and further between, by far.

One of the nicest beers I ever made was a Canadian ale recipe. I made it once, many, many years ago, and I still remember it, because it was sublime. And it called for rice syrup. Why? Because it's "Canadian" ale, which means it is a bit boozier. Rice syrup does little to affect flavor, but because it is pure sugar, it boosts the alcohol content. This is called adding an ingredient as an "adjunct." There are many reasons a brewer might choose one form of sugar over another, but the point is that no matter what form, what we are talking about is not the same thing as, say, adding high-fructose corn syrup to your grapefruit juice cocktail drink thing. It's not like these people are making the beer and then mixing it with corn syrup. The sugar is converted in the process.

Anyway, I ain't the only one talking about this. This person wrote an equally obsessive rant about it. And they also wrote about it at Food & Wine.

I mean, I think the reason this touched a nerve is because it's so blatantly stupid, and we've got enough of that to go around these days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mostly Cloudy Day

Upcoming Album Releases
Jan. 18
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared by Deerhunter
Mint by Alice Merton
The Unseen In Between by Steve Gunn
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (Atlantic review)
Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers (NPR feature)
Assume Form by James Blake

Jan. 25
Feral Roots by Rival Sons

Feb. 1 Gallipoli by Beirut
Encore by The Specials

Feb. 15 Triage by Methyl Ethel

March 8
There Will Be No Intermission by Amanda Palmer

April 26
In The End by The Cranberries (Rolling Stone article)

Jan. 17
Grey's Anatomy

Other Upcoming Events
Feb. 7
Michael Cohen to testify before Congressional committee.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Time to Answer Back

Dear editors everywhere: The letter "a" with an acute accent has an ALT code of 0225. This means if you go to your keyboard and press the "ALT" button and then press "0-2-2-5," the symbol "á" will appear.

This is going to become important because Julián Castro has just announced that he is running for president.

Now, that leads to an obvious question: Why in the wide wide world of sports does the name Julián require the accent? Well, let's see. His name ends in the letter "n." This means that by regular rules of pronunciation in Spanish, the emphasis would be on the second to last syllable. So, without the accent, the man's name is Ju-LEE-an. And that just doesn't sound right.

I for one am glad that the name Julián Castro requires an accent because it's not potentially bothersome enough to Trump voters for me that his last name is "Castro."

I mean I say that tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time, I am struck by an overwhelming feeling that it's important for the Democratic party to nominate a brown person and/or a female person in 2020.

Because I think that all of this needs to be answered.

All of this. You know, don't you, that Trump's first major platform plank was an attack on our neighbors south of Tejas, right? I mean, first he presented his erection about the crowd's size. Then, he rattled through ISIS, China, and Japan. And then he laid the cornerstone:

When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

The first thing Trump attacked was our neighbors to the south. And he continued to be his Donald Trump self, bludgeoning people of color, people who speak Spanish, both, and women. He insulted Carly Fiorina's appearance. He associated anchor Megyn Kelly with blood. He has repeatedly chased down Sen. Elizabeth Warren with an insult club called "Pocahontas." He has separated children from their families and still maintains concentrations camps for those children, based solely on those peoples' legitimate quest for asylum in the United States and because they are brown people. He said that a judge ruled against him due to the judge's Mexican heritage. He referenced some nations as "shithole countries." He pardoned Joe Arpaio. He made a major issue of American citizens, also known as "football players," for legitimately protesting the state of race relations in the United States. He asked reporter April Ryan to establish a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus for him because she was a black woman who asked him about the Congressional Black Caucus.

And then there was Charlottesville. Remember Charlottesville? "On both sides?" Really?

As I think of the Democratic primary process and as talented, smart people begin to toss their hats in, I have to think at this point that we have a chance to answer all of this, a chance to clap back, a chance to raise a fist and to declare ENOUGH!

Yes, Julián Castro's name requires an accent. So, I believe, does the Democratic nomination process.

Friday, January 11, 2019

After All

Did you ever get the feeling that music has gotten away from you? How many SNL musical guests have you watched and wondered when music became so irrelevant, so much flash, so much backing tape? Have yinz crazed a new record that isn't Cardi B but that isn't country music talked over snaps either?

Hi. Rob Baird here. I gotcha.

Seriously. Baird's new album, After All, released today, is real music. Highly recommended.

Upcoming Album Releases
Jan. 18 Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared by Deerhunter
Mint by Alice Merton
The Unseen In Between by Steve Gunn
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten
Jan. 25 Feral Roots by Rival Sons
Feb. 1 Gallipoli by Beirut
March 8 There Will Be No Intermission Amanda Palmer

Jan. 17 Grey's Anatomy

Other Upcoming Events
Feb. 7 Michael Cohen to testify before Congressional committee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

This Wins The Internet Today

(Replete with comments on Reddit)

Upcoming Album Releases
Jan. 11 After All by Rob Baird
You Tell Me
Jan. 18 Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared by Deerhunter
Mint by Alice Merton
The Unseen In Between by Steve Gunn
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten
Jan. 25 Feral Roots by Rival Sons
Feb. 1 Gallipoli by Beirut
March 8 There Will Be No Intermission Amanda Palmer

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

I think the most astonishing thing about 2018 was that Childish Gambino dropped "This Is America" all the way back in May, and not much changed. I found that work to be so astonishing, so direct, so urgent that I half expected it to plunge a sword into the planet and cause a massive ripple of awareness planet-wide. But instead it dried up and blew away just like the Charles Atlas bully said, just like everything does.

It is 2019 now for 26 minutes, and I am watching the entertainment on the ABC. The first music I heard in 2019 was a live performance by somebody named Post Malone. There was no band, not even a group of stand-ins pretending to be a band, just him, just this guy saying these things into a microphone as if he's singing. Now this other chick is on the TV lip-syncing something into a microphone. And the weird part to me is that all the kids in the audience know all the words to all of these songs, and they're singing along like she's singing "Free Bird." Okay wait, I figured it out. The one on my TV right now is somebody named Camila Cabello, and she is singing her new hit single, "I'll Never Be The Same."

I sure am glad I don't have to like that shitty music. There's enough good music that I don't have to know all the words to Post Malone songs and Camila Cabello songs.

Well, nothing to do but toast with a shot of Jager and go to sleep. I gotta work tomorrow. Yes, that's right. I'm one of the suckers working New Year's Day. Woot.

He's Such A Charmer Oh No