Monday, March 31, 2008

 

Mamet Outrows Liberalism



Writer and director David Mamet has done some brilliant work over the years. He's the playwrite/screenwriter behind one of my favorite films, 1992's Glengarry Glen Ross. Even some of his lesser efforts, such as Spartan (from 2004) haven't been bad films. Now he's written something ... an essay for the Village Voice ... that might be his best work yet!

What follows are a few favorite selections from Mamet's essay, entitled Why I Am No Longer A Brain-Dead Liberal:

Here, Mamet writes about an instance when he became aware that he'd left liberalism behind as he and his wife listened to NPR in their car:
" I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been — rather charmingly, I thought — referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."


On abandoning the principle liberal conceit:

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.


I think my favorite passage in the whole essay is when Mamet mentions some of the writers who've influenced his thinking as of late ... and he calls Thomas Sowell "our greatest contemporary philosopher." YES! As a blogger who's refered to Sowell as "the smartest commentator on America today" and as "America's greatest living thinker," I literally laughed with delight at that line. Sowell is a genius; his work infinitely readable, enjoyable and enlightening. If more people read him we'd have far fewer "brain dead liberals" in the world today.

PS - I've always assumed that Mamet had a bit of a conservative streak, given his participation in the writing of Wag The Dog, easily the sharpest piece of satire to lampoon the Clinton administration that I've ever seen:

Hoffman: This President will be a hero. He brought peace.

De Niro: But there hasn't been a war!

Hoffman: All the greater accomplishment.


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Saturday, March 29, 2008

 

Guilty As Charged



I saw this tonight, posted at a forum and ... uh, well ... yeah, that's pretty much me.



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Friday, March 28, 2008

 

Highway Shooting Update



Police have arrested a suspect in yesterday's shootings in the vicinity of I-64 near Charlottesville in Virginia:
He is identified as 19-year-old Slade Woodson of Afton. Superintendent Colonel Steven Flaherty said at a Charlottesville news conference today that Woodson was arrested at about 5 a.m. near Crozet at a residence called Yonder Hill Farm.

Flaherty said there were five people at one of two homes on the property. He said a man there opened fire on police as they served a search warrant at 4:48 a.m., and police returned fire, wounding the armed man.

I watched the press conference on TV earlier and Flaherty said that Woodson isn't the only suspect in the shootings. Hopefully there will be further arrests today ... and hopefully these will be the right guys.

"Slade Woodson" is a fairly unusual name, so I Googled it. The only thing I saw was that the kid had been a fairly successful high school athlete (here, here and here). Colonel Flaherty said that police "were familiar" with Woodson prior to this morning's arrest.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

 

Bad Ol' Bigfoot



OK, this is a new one on me. A perv who's been arrested is trying a new spin on the "poor little criminal" defense. This guy isn't just claiming that he was abused in his past. He's claiming that he was abused by bigfoot.


Just like I'm sure most folks reacted, my first reaction was "Yeah, right." But then I did a little research and now I'm not as confident. Bigfoot has been accused of misconduct in the past:


And like most celebrities, Bigfoot's deep pockets have kept him out of trouble in the past:


Plus, I've noticed that he spends an unusual amount of time with other peoples' kids:


But the most damning piece of evidence against Bigfoot that I've found is this closer examination of the famous Patterson film:



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Regional, National and International





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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

 

News N' Roses





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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

 

Boycott? BOYcott? Who you callin' "BOY?"



I mentioned recently that I generally think most boycotts are stupid. Case in point:

I have a Google Gadget that gives me updates from Snopes, so I see their new items while they're fresh. Like this one from today, an item that has my head spinning from it's stupidity.

Snopes has verified that Arizona brand tea company has changed the label for one of it's products because some people thought that it was racially insensitive. Snopes sited an e-mail that has been circulating to indicate the perspective of those who were offended by the product's label:

Read this as a Proud Black person and forward this to every Black Person you know!

My name is LaMar McGowan and today was the first day of my life were I Felt like less of a Black Man! When did Slavery become marketable? I'm Calling for a nation wide Boycott on a drink company named "Arizona" Which has a variety of flavors, I myself have bought a number of their drinks, but on 11/30 I bought my last one. Their is someone in the marketing dept. who told someone on the board that "We can degrade Black People and make money at the same time" and the board member agreed! Every Black person from the south knows how good it felt on those hot southern days to have a tall glass of sweet tea.

"Arizona" has a flavor known as "Southern Style Sweet Tea" but if you Look closely on the front of the can their is a picture of a Plantation!

Yes I said a Plantation, with a white couple on the porch and a Black woman Dress like Aunt Jamama walking away from the house. When did Slavery become marketable?

My Grandfather was 100 years old before he passed in 2004 and that Picture reminds me of his very few but painful story's not a hot southern day with a cool refreshing glass of sweet tea. So stop buying any drinks from this company! Stand up and let your voice be heard & overload their lines.
1-800-832-3775

And here's an image of the offending label, with detail:



I suppose that it's possible to look at that image and see the portrait of racism described above. I suppose it's also possible to look for shapes in the clouds and find racism if you're self-programed to look for racism everywhere and in everything. But when I look at that picture I don't see an image of slavery and plantation life. I see three people with indistinct features and a house in the Southern Gothic style of architecture.

As far as the supposed "Black woman Dress like Aunt Jamama walking away from the house" (sic), what I see is more like a white woman dressed in a fancy, old-fashioned dress and a bonnet. And I think the distinction is clear:


Heck, even Aunt Jemima doesn't look like that Aunt Jemima anymore. They updated her image a long time ago:

Let's wake up and be honest, shall we? There are really only two kinds of racism that are still publicly acceptable and marketable. That's racism toward southern whites and racism toward conservative blacks. The idea that the Arizona tea company would try to market a product with a really racially offensive image is just dumb. Nobody could take this seriously, right?

Well, I looked around the net and found a few opinions about the Arizona tea "scandal." Here are a few of the two extreme reactions...

From a Yahoo! 360 blogger:

Friends, as we approach the annual celebration of MLK Day, along with Barack Obama’s historic run for the White House, let’s not loose sight of how close we really are to the good old days of the past. It’s clearly not another internet hoax when a major national brand decides to release a new product featuring an image of the good Old South, with a happy slave on it. Yes, how far have we really come in 2008?

His post about the "racist tea packaging" got all kinds of comments, from
I'VE NEVER DRINK THEIR BRAND OF SOUTHERN STYLE TEA YET, I'VE SEEN IT IN THE STORES OVER THE YEARS,BUT I HAVE DRINKED THERE GREEN TEA, BUT I LIKE LIPTONS BETTER! BUT I'M TRULY A LEMONAID DRINKER, SO ARIZONIA WILL NOT GET NOTHING FROM ME! GOOD LOOKING OUT!

To a more thoughtful response like
I am a proud black woman and I think for our people to take this to the extent to banning this company because of a picture that I have yet to see that is described is not very smart. I could understand if the company had a limp body hanging from a tree, then I can understand a few hot heads.

And lest my fellow redneck crackers think that all black people are buying into this "scandal," let me present an opinion from the Black Voices website:
There's nothing wrong with addressing racism in any form and lord knows it's still very prevalent, but at the same time, people shouldn't jump to boycott something as ambiguous as the alleged color of a woman on a can at least without digging deeper.

And a poll at that website shows that most of it's readers apparently think this is silly, too:


So what's the moral to the story? How did the Arizona tea company respond? You're gonna love this. From the Arizona website:

We want to thank everyone who took the time to share with us their concerns about the packaging of our Southern Style Sweet Tea. The dialogue helped us to understand the problem and move forward to correct it. Although it was never our intention for the Sweet Tea label to offend any of our customers, we understand the change in label design was needed. We have commissioned an artist to totally redesign all of the Southern Style labels, and are already in the final stages of implementing the first phase of the changeover. The new artwork will appear first on our can line and next on our glass and plastic bottles.

Southern Style tea has been one of our most popular drinks over the past five years or so. People of all walks of life enjoy this and many of our other products, and we do not ever want to alienate any of them. We hope you like our new design and will continue to support the AriZona brand.

Thank you.

Ah, yes. Corporate and political ass-kissers give in to raving race-baiters every time. And that, my friends, is what keeps racism alive and well in America in 2008.

I'd write more but, for some reason, I'm craving pancakes.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

 

Democrats Spin, Spin, Spin



As a conservative, I do find some humor in the hubris as the Democrats spin towards the upcoming disaster in Denver.

It's hard to know ... in fact, it's hard to care ... what impact Pastorgate has had on Barack Obama in the polls. You can pretty much search Google News with any result in mind and find date from some source to support your own beliefs about how the controversy has effected the Senator.

USA Today has Obama slightly ahead of Hillary, other sources call the same numbers a tie. Jim Geraghty at NR looks at some of the poll numbers and scratches his head:
First, 82 percent of respondents are aware of "the situation regarding Sen. Barack Obama's church pastor and the past public remarks he has made," and somehow, 83 percent are aware of "Obama's speech on Tuesday, in which he addressed the issue of his pastor." (Okay, who's the one percent who knew about the speech but not the 'situation'?)

Asked of all voters, "taking all this into account, are you more likely or less likely to support Obama for president" — 20 percent more likely, 49 percent less likely, 27 percent about the same.

Among those who answered that they were "aware" to the first two questions, 19 percent said they were more likely to support Obama, 52 percent said they were less likely, and 27 percent the same.

Among whites, the "less likely" answer came from 51.3 percent. Among blacks, it was 56.2 percent. (!) Among Hispanics, 54.5 percent. (The sub-sample sizes for blacks and Hispanics were 85 and 46, so it's possible that maybe it's too small a sample to get a really good reading on these demographics)...

Is it possible that some folks don't want to admit to a pollster that Obama's speech made them less likely to support him?

Emphasis in the last paragraph was mine. And it's a very good question. As Victor David Hanson points out, Obama's supposed recovery speech actually made things worse in the eyes of many people:

The more the pundits gushed about the speech, the more the average Americans thought, “Wait a minute — did he just say what I thought he said?” It’s not lost on Joe Q. Public that Obama justified Wright’s racism by offering us a “landmark” speech on race that:

(1) Compared Wright’s felony to the misdemeanors of his grandmother, Geraldine Ferraro, the Reagan Coalition, corporate culture, and the kitchen sink.

(2) Established the precedent that context excuses everything, in the sense that what good a Wright did (or an Imus did) in the past outweighs any racist outburst of the present.

(3) Claimed that the voice of the oppressed is not to be judged by the same rules of censure as the dominant majority that has no similar claim on victim status.

What is happening, ever so slowly, is that the public is beginning to realize that it knows even less after the speech than it did before about what exactly Obama knew (and when) about Wright’s racism and hatred.


And the more we learn about Obama's "church," the harder it is to see it as a church. This is, after all, an organization that printed an Israel-bashing article from Hamas in it's bulletin. Of course, Obama says he didn't know about that, either.

Is there anything that goes on at Trinity United that Barack Obama does know about? And if not, why does he call it his church?

Not that anyone in the MSM is gonna put that question to him. The MSM is, by and large, doing everything they can to help Obama spin his way out of this mess.

I thought that passportgate would provide the distraction that Obama needed to try to get past the Jeremiah Wright controversy, but it's hard to deny that the passport scandal was a political fart in a wind tunnel. Oddly, the CEO of the company that employees the contractor who peeked at Obama's passport is an Obama consultant. It still strikes me as dumb to allow contractors access to that kind of information, but seems undeniable that the guy was just a snoop and not a GOP black-opps agent.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Democratic divide, Hillary Clinton finds herself trying to spin her way out of one more lie:
Hillary Clinton's campaign acknowledged today that she may have misspoken when she described a harrowing visit to Bosnia while first lady.

"I remember landing under sniper fire," she said last week as she sought to burnish her commander-in-chief credentials. "There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

Really? Landing under sniper fire? Running with your head down? Let's see, does any video exist of your visit to Bosnia? Oh, there is video? Let's look at it, shall we?

What is it with Democrats and lying? Can they breathe without lying? And do they have to do so much of it while campaigning (remember Christmas in Cambodia?), making it all so transparent?

Jeez, what a national embarrassment the Democratic party is ... and has always been. I agree with Bob Parks that America is more than ready for a black and/or female President. But I also agree with him that there's no way that President will be a Democrat. The Democratic party's history precludes that possibility:



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Saturday, March 22, 2008

 

Dogs Do Windows



Cleaning windows on the first warm day of spring is always a lot of fun. Especially when the dogs help.


Man, the winter was really hard on my lawn and bushes.


Thanks for the assist, Chester.

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Movie Review: The Mist



Synopsis

A bad storm brings a super-spooky mist across the lake. The residents of Anytown, USA end up trapped in a grocery store as unspeakable, huge monsters come out of the mist, looking for people to eat.

Pros:


Cons:


Generally:

two on a five scale. Just watch Shawshank again.

Extended Review:

The Mist is the kind of loose, undemanding b-movie that allows your mind plenty of time to wander while you're watching it. My mind wandered, and I ended up asking myself questions like, for instance, why is it that when a guy catches on fire in a movie, he'll always run around, flailing his arms, setting other things on fire as he goes? Doesn't anybody stop, drop and roll like they taught us in school?

And why is it that when nefarious government scientists open a portal to another world, it's always a far worse world than ours? Why can't our world be the worse one for a change? Why can't the other world be a lovely, blissful Eden full of beautiful creatures that come into our world and teach us how to cure cancer, play piano and make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich?

I even had time to wonder about the physics that allow an insect to walk on a glass window. How would that process be effected if the insect were twenty-five pounds or so? Would the sheet of glass have to be extraordinarily thick for it to work?

I read the short Stephen King novel that The Mist is based on some twenty years ago, and I remember enjoying it. I remember thinking that it was like a comic book without graphic art. It wasn't "literature," it was bubblegum for the brain, and pretty good bubblegum at that. The movie isn't nearly as good as the source material, and that's a shame since it comes with a pretty good pedigree.

This film stars Thomas Jane and Andre Braugher, actors who've done work I've enjoyed in the past. Then there's Marcia Gay Harden, who's been nominated for two Oscars and won one of them. Frank Darabont scripted and directed The Mist, and he's done great work bringing Stephen King to the screen in the past. The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are both wonderful films and each of them rises above the sum of it's parts. Unfortunately, this time out, the movie gets bogged down by it's own lesser elements.

Sometimes b-grade sci-fi can transcend the genre and end up fun and thoughtful. This isn't one of those instances. The Mist is stocked full of standard b-movie devices; characters that are clichés, predictable plot elements and special effects that don't quite deliver the chills they aim for. The actors all perform as well as the script will allow and the direction is fine, it's just that this movie never quite got going and ended up taking two hours to not go much of anywhere.

A bit more about those cliched characters: I was really surprised to realize that Marcia Gay Harden was in this movie. Doesn't she usually do headier stuff, movies designed to provoke critics into using words like "lyrical" and "atmospheric?" Yeah, she does. So how'd she end up in a sci-fi b-movie? Well, turns out that her character is one of those cartoon Christians. The kind that Hollywood loves to shove down our throat as examples of what they think all Christians are. As though everyone who doesn't embrace abortion on demand is a Westboro Baptist congregant. By the time the movie was over I'd become convinced that Harden took the part so she could get paid to show her contempt for religion in general.

You know, now that I think about it, King might have some kind of fixation on religious women. Carrie's mom was a self-righteous nutball, too. So was the mother of Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone. Maybe King had one hell of a mean Sunday School teacher when he was a kid.

The worst thing about The Mist, though, is it's ending. King's original story had a real humdinger of an ending, sorta like the end of The Birds, but to the tenth power, scale-wise. This version of the story, however, continues past the point where King ended his version. Now we're handed an ending that's supposed to be ironic and powerful but simply comes off like a vulgar joke. I call BS on that.

No, The Mist isn't a terrible film, and Jane and Braugher were both fine in their roles. Some of the special effects were OK, although most fell flat, and I did have a couple of genuine jumps during scarier scenes. But ultimately this mist evaporated, leaving nothing behind but a disappointing residue.

Trailer:



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Friday, March 21, 2008

 

I'll Pass



We had ravioli for dinner tonight. It was tasty. But Willow, who raises hell whenever she's served anything that isn't in nugget-form, insisted that it was the "grossest thing ever."

That's right, a child who turns her nose up at ravioli. Couldn't you just box her ears?

Instead of doing that, we got on the subject of some of the foods that are far nastier than ravioli. As usual, the internet proved a valuable resource. Here are some of the culinary nightmare's we've just read about:

So, see? Ravioli really isn't all that bad. Hell, spoiled ravioli sounds pretty good right now.

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Passportgate



So the passport files of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain have been breached by a state-department employee and/or employees:
There were three breaches in recent weeks involving the files of Sen. Barack Obama, at least one involving Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, and one involving Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he said.

The breaches involving Obama and McCain were by three contractors, two of whom were dismissed and the other disciplined. The incident involving Clinton was a training mistake, McCormack said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today apologized to Obama for three State Department contractors who delved into his passport file in recent weeks.

Somebody screwed up.

It looks like at least one incident here was frivolous, a trainee was allowed to wander beyond the limits that should be imposed on a new hire. The others, involving contractors, were probably simple matters of snooping for the sake of snooping. Corrections need to be made.

Of course, the leftists are spinning like crazy, focusing on the passport files of Obama and Hillary and, of course, not noticing that somebody peeked at McCain's passport files, too. And there are plenty of reminders of how the first Bush administration peeked at Bill Clinton's passport files back in the early '90's, and insinuations that this kind of peeking must be a Bush family thing.

And, of course, it's all BS.

Democrats need to remember that the real champ of file pilfering and record plundering is Billary Clinton.

Lest we forget this story from 1996:
TO hear President Clinton tell it, it was "all an innocent bureaucratic snafu," this seamy saga of the White House gaining access to confidential Federal Bureau of Investigation files on prominent Republicans -- files it had no business seeing. "I'm sorry that it occurred," Mr. Clinton said.

Or this one from 1993:
The State Department has begun an internal investigation into why a Clinton Administration official ordered the retrieval of sensitive personnel files of Bush Administration appointees and how that material was given to The Washington Post.

And, oh, yeah ... Billary's Whitewater mess, which was never resolved but just seemed to somehow fall down the memory hole:


My favorite two quotes from that YouTube clip are when Bill says that his administration is the most ethical ever (and he said it with a straight face, no less) ... and when he slips up and says how he really feels; that people shouldn't be allowed to raise questions and erode his authority. Classic Clinton.

So who stands to gain from Passportgate? Oh, clearly Obama. Nobody else. Billary can't successfully spin this because everyone knows how corrupt, dishonest and flat-out incompetent they are. Besides, their supporters have been abandoning them like rats from a sinking ship. McCain doesn't stand to gain anything; he'll do the responsible thing, I bet. He'll say something like "Somebody screwed up. I hope this is corrected so it can't happen again."

That leaves Obama.

The only person with a political dog in this fight is Obama. And he'll use this distraction as his way out of the Jeremiah Wright mess. Just you wait and see.

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Volver and Delicious Cleavages



Again, like last night, I logged on with the intentions of writing a movie review ... and, again, it ain't gonna happen.

Tonight we watched Volver, and I enjoyed it. It was quite unlike anything I've seen before. Penelope Cruz did some great work in the main role, and she was beautiful, besides. Click here and check out her visage on the movie's official poster and packaging ... like a young Sophia Loren, only prettier. She really was outstanding in the film.

But my enjoyment of this Spanish-language film was hampered, even ruined at times, by some odd subtitles. Did I write odd? Downright friggin' weird is probably a better way to describe it. And the fact that the story itself is pretty weird only heightened my confusion.

For instance, at one point, Penelope Cruz's character sings a song that is apparently called Volver. The lyrics to which oughta give the viewer an idea of the significance of the movie's title. But for some reason, the words of the song weren't included in the subtitles. It was a nice song, it sounded pretty, it clearly included the word "Volver," and I'd have liked to know what it was all about. So I was distracted and a little frustrated by that.

So rather than write the movie review I'd wanted to write, I've been fruitlessly looking around the net for a translation of the lyrics, although I can't be sure what the song is called in Spanish. A guy ought not have to do this kind of thing after the fact in order to better feel that he enjoyed a movie.

I've put the disc in the PC to show you some of what I'm talking about ...At another point in the movie, Penelope's character (who is running a restaurant) complements her barmaid on her drink-mixing skills:

To which the barmaid responds:


I, uh... well, OK. I think I know what you mean, and I might even agree, but ... uh ... what?

I don't think that's technically incorrect translating ... but it sure is a bit odd.

It's not as odd, of course, as the infamous Chinese bootleg subtitles for Star Wars:

But it was a bit off-putting, nonetheless.

Anyway, once I got past the subtitle issue and just tried to enjoy the movie, I did enjoy it. Now, it is an odd movie. It's very strange. The story involves attempted rape and murder and someone who may or may not be a ghost. And it's one of those movies that features a number of heroic and/or sympathetic female characters and a pack of lecherous, disgusting male characters. And I think I mentioned the subtitle issue.

But, in spite of all that, the movie is more good than bad. Cinematically, it's really very good. All the critics I had heard were right about two things: Penelope Cruz turns in an outstanding performance, and the movie's visual pallet is beautiful.

And Penelope makes for some dang nice eye-candy, besides.

So see Volver if you're in the mood for something a bit odd with no likable male characters and some weird subtitles. If I were gonna write a full-on review, I'd probably give it three out of four stars.

Trailer for Volver:



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Thursday, March 20, 2008

 

Obama Watch: Primaries And Prejudice



God, I'm loving this.

You know how Obama is always saying that if he were President he'd reject the kind of hardline tactics that George Bush has used and, instead, sit down and talk with the foreign leaders that oppose us?

Well, we're getting a taste of his sit down and talk policy as his campaign takes a hardline stance regarding Michigan's disputed early primary:
If Michigan lawmakers don't pass a plan for a new Democratic primary by Thursday, then the state's 157 delegates might not have a say in selecting their party's presidential nominee...

A top Michigan Democrat expressed frustration Wednesday with Obama for not embracing the state's proposal.

"The Obama people are blocking it in the Legislature," said the Democratic source, who has not backed either candidate.

The source also said negotiators repeatedly and unsuccessfully have reached out to the campaign for input and cooperation.

The source said that Obama's campaign has been asked to craft an alternative or to meet with the Clinton camp to work out an acceptable compromise, but that those requests have been met with silence.

Wake up, Obama-Zombies. Your candidate is just one more politician.

I also like how he's taking the poor-little-me position now regarding Jeremiah Wright:
"In some ways, this controversy has actually shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than some of the other conventional candidates," the Illinois senator told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Is it just me or is that a subtle play of the race card?

God, I feel so stupid! Little more than two months ago I was blogging about how much I liked the guy! What was I thinking?? He's just one more politician, one more been-there-done-that-liberal, just one more fake.

In short, he's just one more Clinton.

Speaking of Clintons, Hillary really wants control of those early primary votes, but there's no reason to believe that re-votes will help her:

As the Democratic imbroglio continues over what to do about the out-of-bounds Michigan and Florida primaries, a recent poll offers a reminder of how tantalizing a true, fully engaged faceoff between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in those two states would be.

The survey, sponsored in part by the St. Petersburg Times, asked Floridians a number of questions -- some strictly local -- on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But the one that caught our interest focused on the two Democratic presidential candidates. It found Clinton ahead, with 46%, but Obama within shouting distance, at 37%.

Even more intriguing, 16% said they were undecided -- meaning an aggressive, persuasive campaign could make all the difference in determining a victor.

Also, the figures represent slippage for Clinton since she won Florida's Jan. 29 primary -- the one the Democratic National Committee ruled wouldn't count and the one that, as a result, preceded without the candidates actually pitching for support. In that contest, she received 50% of the vote, to 33% for Obama and 14% for John Edwards (still an active candidate at the time).


If nothing else, this whole debacle is really giving the nation a a chance to see what these two are all about.

Meanwhile, John McCain is behaving like ... well, like a President:
Republican John McCain spent Wednesday in Israel, where he toured a war-battered town.

McCain said he understands Israel’s tough response to Palestinian rocket fire, adding that there is no point in negotiating with the Gaza Strip’s Islamic Hamas regime.

His visit is billed as routine congressional business, although the trip appeared aimed at burnishing McCain’s leadership credentials and courting Jewish voters for the November election. McCain told reporters that because he was on a congressional fact-finding tour, it was not the time to discuss his campaign.

Still, in an interview in the Jerusalem Post, McCain said he would “personally be engaged” in peace talks if elected and “give it my highest priority.”


It's all pretty funny; and the punchline is that no matter how irresponsible, transparent and empty both Clinton and Obama clearly are at this point, there are still enough stupid people in America to give either of them a damn good shot at the White House.

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Idi Amin, Coffee and Coca Cola



I've just watched The Last King Of Scotland and thought it was very good. My intentions when I logged on were to write a review of the film, but first I decided to read about Amin a bit and I ended up finding a short documentary on YouTube that captivating me.

So, in short, I won't be reviewing The Last King Of Scotland just now, other than to say that the movie was a bit too long and I found some of the violence to be very hard to watch, but I felt that Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy both gave performances that were strong and compelling. I suppose I'd give the movie three and a half out of four possible stars and recommend it to film-buffs, modern-history-buffs and Forest Whitaker fans ... with that qualifier that, yes, it is a bit long and, yes, it has some disturbing violence.

Anyway, the three YouTube clips that make up the short documentary that I enjoyed:




On a personal note: I'm a huge fan of imported gourmet coffee. Kenyan coffee, for instance, is a favorite of mine. I enjoy Tanzanian Peabery, too. During the documentary, when the narrative mentioned Amin's control of the Ugandan coffee trade, I thought about my taste in coffee and the imported beans I buy. By buying the coffee, am I doing more good than bad or more bad than good? I can't help but wonder about the role my purchases play in African economies and lives. I looked around on the net and read a bit more specifically about that topic, but you know how it is. Every bit of information you find is spun one way or another by someone with an agenda.

Typically, the word "boycott" never crosses my lips. I think boycotts are silly. I will occasionally make an effort, though, to avoid certain purchases for moral reasons. I've become aware, for instance, of the role that gum arabic plays in the stability of a murderous regime in Darfur. (Read this) No, I'm not suggesting a boycott. But I will admit that I've lost my taste for Coca Cola lately.

Of course, gum arabic is in everything for soft drinks to shoes ... sigh. It's complicated.

So, anyway, what I'm saying is that I really hope I don't stumble across a reason to stop drinking my African coffee!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

 

Obama Watch: He WAS Or He WASN'T?



The other day I posted a link to the NewsMax website, referencing Ronald Kessler's claim that Obama was, in fact, in the pews at Trinity United when Jeremiah Wright gave one of his hate speeches about America. Apparently the Obama campaign has been able to prove that Obama was not there on the date in question. The NewsMax story now contains a clarification to the effect that Kessler got the date wrong, but that he is certain he remembers seeing Obama at the church during one of Wright's hateful "sermons." Nonetheless, Kessler's credibility on the issue is severely damaged.

It appears that Kessler printed his account of the sermon without sufficient research and without being sure of his own memory. What we're left with now is a writer claiming "I'm sure I saw Obama there on SOME occasion," which is something else altogether. Kessler has made himself, NewsMax, and each of us who linked to his story look bad. I'm glad I tried to qualify my link slightly by writing that evidence had come to light to indicate that Obama was lying, rather than dogmatically proclaiming Obama to certainly be a big liar.

In a fairly funny sidenote, Scott at Spitball Politics chose to link to my post, only to have Patrick (apparently the guy in charge of the blog) strike out the entry and post details about Kessler's gaffe. Patrick went on to write:
...and yes, Scott used a CONSERVATIVE BLOG as his ht on this. Something akin to placing an anti-environment lobby-monger like Dirk Kempthorne to head the Dept of Interior.

So apparently all conservative blogs are unreliable, simply based on the conservative perspective of the author. I'm glad I hadn't gotten around to blogrolling Spitball, I'd intended to as a courtesy to Scott. I do, however, encourage you to read Patrick's stuff if you're in the market for unequivocal generalities about conservative blogs. Meanwhile, this is my second and last reference to that particular blog (although the comments section at SouthCon remains fair game for anyone).

More opinion on the issue: it's rare that I agree with Pat Buchanan, his brand of conservatism always strikes me as rather unconservative. He usually seems like an extremist to me. But I do agree with much of his take on the Obama/Wright flap:
What is exceptional is that Wright is the spiritual father of Barack Obama, the pastor, teacher and mentor who brought Barack into the church, married him and Michelle, baptized their children and has been a confidant to the man who would be America's president.

For 20 years, Barack has attended Wright's church, listened to his weekly sermons, entertained him in his home. Yet, says Barack, he never heard any racist rants at church, nor was he aware that Wright held so poisoned a view of his country.

Sorry, that is not credible. Wright is a famous preacher in black America, and Barack's denial he was aware of his views marks him down either as a dissembler or a man so obtuse he ought not be a security guard at Wal-Mart, let alone president of the United States.

It is easy now to understand why Michelle Obama, before Barack began to win, had never once been proud of her country. Who could be proud of the America that lives in the malignant imagination of the Rev. Wright?

Exactly. And speaking of Michelle Obama, it occurred to me when I heard the recording of her own clarification of her remarks about America ... one of the things that she said was that opportunities were available to her when she was a child that aren't available to kids today, and she was now proud to see America working to get those opportunities back.

Hmmm. Michelle Obama and I are about the same age. Which means that she, like me, grew up in Ronald Reagan's America. So I agree with her, we really did have more opportunities when she was a child. You know, I do have to admit that I like it when the Obamas directly or indirectly praise Reagan.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

 

Junk Dump ... Still More Junk



I took the online Asshole Rating Test and apparently I'm not a total asshole:


Of course, I could be deluding myself. Find out if you're deluding yourself, too, by taking the test.




I'd really like to include links so I could credit the sources of the rest of these, but I can't. You know how it goes; you see a funny image, right click and save, and then you can't remember where you found it.

Anyway...



A sex change we can believe in.






I just happened to stumble across this picture of Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz and man he's looking rough these days. I thought that was Bruce Vilanch at first.







Sometimes what nature does with snow is waaaaayyy cooler than anything we could do with it ourselves. Take one propane grill, add snow, let some of it melt and hey-presto! Storm Trooper Skull Thing!







"What you are trying to do worked. Do you want to try again or give up?" Must be a Windows Vista thing.





NO, wait, THIS is DEFINITELY a Vista message. If something worked right, there MUST have been an error.




Beware the Argentine Gnome!



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Monday, March 17, 2008

 

Wright Isn't Going Away; The Clintons Scramble, Ramble



Just a video-recap from What's-His-Name's show, in case you haven't heard any of Jeremiah Wright's controversial remarks:

That's Jeremiah Wright, the "preacher" who has been a close adviser of Barack Obama's. This is the "preacher" who presided at Obama's church, who married Barack and his wife, who baptized their children. I'm qualifying the word "preacher" because it sounds to me like he's more of a politician and a troublemaker than an actual "preacher." He sounds like the flaming-leftist version of Pat Robertson.

Obama has claimed to denounce "Reverend" Wright's ugliest examples of hate-speech, and he's claimed that he wasn't in the pews when those remarks were made. But evidence is coming to light that indicates that Obama is lying about that:

Contrary to Senator Barack Obama’s claim that he never heard his pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. preach hatred of America, Obama was in the pews last July 22 when the minister blamed the “white arrogance” of America’s Caucasian majority for the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks...

If Obama’s claims are true that he was completely unaware that Wright’s trademark preaching style at the Trinity United Church of Christ has targeted “white” America and Israel, he would have been one of the few people in Chicago to be so uninformed. Wright’s reputation for spewing hate is well known.

In fact, Obama was present in the South Side Chicago church on July 22 last year when Jim Davis, a freelance correspondent for Newsmax, attended services along with Obama.

Oprah Winfrey is often sited as another member of Wright's congregation... but it turns out that Oprah had sense enough to get out of that scene some years ago:
Obama’s most famous celebrity backer, Oprah Winfrey began attending Wright’s church in 1984. Last year, Newsmax magazine reported that Winfrey abruptly stopped attending years ago, and suggested that she did so to distance herself from Wright’s inflammatory rhetoric. She soon found herself a target of Wright, who excoriated her for having broken with “traditional faith.”

It's not surprising that Obama lied about sitting in the pews and quietly taking in Wright's hate-speech. But it was a mistake. He could have said something like "Reverend Wright has often made me uncomfortable and I'm glad for this chance to do what I should have done long ago..." It would have been a great opportunity to make a clean public break from this hate-monger. Obama chose not to take it.

It's no wonder that this scandal has really been the first thing to damage Obama's standing in the polls. Obama has even gone as far as claiming that Wright's views don't even fairly represent the views of the average church member. As though we can't see all those people screaming with excitement in those videos.

And, hey, God knows I'm conservative when it comes to Church services. I'm Catholic. I like classic liturgy, classical music, restraint, submission, contemplation. So maybe it's simply a matter of personal taste that makes me wonder how in the world you can call that romper-room scene a "church service" anyway. You got a preacher screaming and cursing and a bunch of people jumping around like lunatics? Come on. That's church? And don't tell me it's a race thing, either, because I've sat in Mass with blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, etc, and I've never once seen anyone jumping around like a crackhead. It's a matter of reverence. Reverence just isn't a factor when "Reverend" Wright "preaches."

Obama keeps referring to Wright as something like an "old uncle" who often says things that he doesn't agree with. That makes sense, too. We all know what it's like to have family members that say crazy stuff. But we're stuck with them; they're family. Obama wants us to feel some empathy for his situation. There's a problem here, though: Wright is not a member of Obama's family. He is not an old uncle. He's an associate, a guy Obama chose to have a close relationship with. That doesn't display very good judgment on the candidate's part.

Obama is planning to deal with this crisis by doing what he does best: making a speech. I'll be interested to see how well he can talk his way out of this. This is a PR nightmare. His whole campaign is about PR and nothing else. Wow, what a mess.




I suppose Hillary is sick of being out of the headlines. These past few days of Obama/Wright mania have to have been hard on her. So she's back to saying dogmatic stuff like that the Iraq war is a war that America "cannot win."

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is going out of his way to make it clear that he hasn't said anything bad about Barack Obama. And of course he hasn't. The only person Bill Clinton ever talks about is himself:


Meanwhile, John McCain hasn't been in the news much lately. Which is fine. With Jeremiah Wright and Bill Clinton out there giving us all reasons to vote for the Arizona Senator, McCain can afford to lay low for a while.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

 

Obama Watch: Barack Renounces Wright's Hate Speech



Obama has fairly forcefully rejected Jeremiah Wright's most hateful remarks:
"I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies," Obama said. "I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Reverend Wright that are at issue."


Good. That's what I thought he should do, and he's done it and I give him credit for it.

I stumbled across this today ... and if Wright had me scratching my head, this guy has my head spinning while I scratch it:


Various bits and pieces of what that guy had to say just keep swirling in my head: "Your health is in my mouth! Egg shell soup! Big breasts! Obama is a long-legged mack daddy! Piss in a boot!"

WTF???!?

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Friday, March 14, 2008

 

Obama Watch: More On The Jeremiah Wright Connection



OK, I ought not have done it, simply because I was better off not knowing ... but I looked into Obama's church a little more, mostly just by watching videos from Hot Air. (I'd already learned some about the topic yesterday.)

The "preacher" at Obama's Church, the Trinity United Church Of Christ, is Jeremiah Wright ... and Jeremiah Wright is a raving nutcase:


This is a guy who thinks that America is ruled by the KKK, who blames America for 9/11, and who has shouted "God damn America" during his sermons. Sermons? Call 'em sermons if you want, I call them venomous tirades.

As of right now, Reverend Wright is apparently out and Trinity United has a new senior minister, a guy named Otis Moss. Moss seems, based on this one video, to be much saner than the "Reverend Doctor" Jeremiah Wright:


Of course, it probably isn't very hard to come off as saner than Jeremiah Wright.

Obama named his book, The Audacity Of Home, after a phrase from one of Wright's "sermons." Nonetheless, Obama has dismissed his connection to Jeremiah Wright and says that he thinks of Wright as an old uncle who sometimes says things that he doesn't agree with.

But here's the thing: With his radical ideas and his hatred of America, Jeremiah Wright is darn-near as bad as Fred Phelps and his infamous band of lunatics at the Westboro Baptist "Church.".

If John McCain ... or any other politician, for that matter ... turned out to be a member of the Fred Phelps congregation, how would most Americans react if he simply called Phelps an old uncle who sometimes says things he doesn't agree with?

Get real.

Phelps is a nutcase. Jeremiah Wright is, too. Anyone who wants to be President of the United States ought to have the balls to strongly denounce this kind of hate-speech. Instead, Obama defends Wright and is inspired to title his book after one of Wright's phrases.

What's wrong with this picture? Is it a race thing? Why are we giving Obama a pass on this?? Damn, people, pay attention! Going around saying the words "hope" and "change" over and over again doesn't constitute leadership. You gotta look deeper than that.

I think I'll start a new feature here at SouthCon: Obama Watch. The more I learn about this slick, smooth-talking "hope" peddler, the more he scares me.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

 

What's UP With THAT?





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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

 

Death Metal Doggie



Mosh it up, Rover.



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A New Genre For Rambo



Stallone is already thinking about the next Rambo movie. But he tells a Swedish newspaper that, for the next film, Rambo will find himself in a new film genre:
"I would like to take Rambo to another genre, experiment a little with the character. It would definitely not be another war movie.

"I can't go any further with that than what I've already done. What it's going to be like, I'm not going to reveal at this point. But I'm already halfway though writing the manuscript."

Wow! What an idea! Take the survivalist warrior and force him to hack, kill and slash his way through a totally foreign film landscape! I like the concept. And I have a few ideas about exactly what Stallone might have in mind for the next Rambo film.

Comic Buddy Movie

Pair Rambo up with Ben Stiller, have them forced to run some kind of business together; lovable, goofy underdogs who succeed in spite of being total opposites who're always at each other's throats. Maybe the justification would be that John Rambo has to come back to America to take care of his long-lost cousin, Eugene Rambo. So he reluctantly leaves his mud hut and boards a plane for America. Stiller could play Eugene, the sickly, nerdy owner of ... say, a struggling bakery. Just imagine the hijinks with Stallone and Stiller in the kitchen together, baking donuts or biscuits or something. It would be the kind of thing that Lucy and Ethel used to get into ... only funnier because it involves Rambo! And Ben Stiller! I see in my head a madcap scene that ends with both of them covered with flour and Stallone holding a machete to Stiller's throat. HA HA! Then at the end a big company offers to buy Rambo's recipe for Jungle Buns (or something) and they end up with enough money to save the bakery. Yay!

Ethnic Chick Flick

OK, how about this ... Angela Bassett plays an independent, strong, successful woman who gets tired of all the irresponsible, weak, unsuccessful men in the ethnic dating pool. So she goes to Africa and, surprisingly, meets an American male who's living alone and reclusive in the jungle. As Angela and Rambo get to know each other, a real friendship blossoms ... but Angela can't live in the mud with Rambo, so he returns to metropolitan New York with Angela. Rambo gets in touch with his ethnic feminine side as he meets Angela's sassy, ethnic female friends and learns about their trials and tribulations, heartaches, relationships, loves and laughs, etc. There'll be a scene shot with steady-cam ... slow, turning shots around the faces of the principles ... wherein all the characters sit around in their pajamas in the living room and tell stories while an Al Green song plays in the background. Then Rambo hunts down and kills each of the men who's broken the hearts of his newfound friends.

Legal Thriller

Rambo gets sued by the villages near the jungle where he lives ... because he's been peeing in the nearby stream and polluted the local water supply. So he hires a crackerjack attorney, played by George Clooney, to represent him. Clooney's character takes the case for fame, but has a significant personal change as he comes to believe that his client really is innocent. The lawyer character displays his dedication to the case in scenes wherein he writes case notes and reads legal briefs in his underwear, covered with mud in the jungle. An unexpected plot twist reveals that the only reason that Rambo's pee was toxic is because of the toxic fruit he'd been eating from local trees ... fruit that had been poisoned by an irresponsible corporation co-owned by the Vatican and the President of the United States. One centerpiece action scene involves Rambo successfully busting into the Vatican with Clooney so that his attorney can get a deposition from the Pope. Clooney is killed in the process, forcing Rambo to represent himself at the trial. The movie ends with a tense, dramatic scene as Rambo cross-examines the President of the United States from the witness stand.

Romantic Comedy

He's a rugged, isolated survivalist who lives alone in the jungle. She's the spoiled big-city reporter who's sent by her newspaper to interview him. She's also Meg Ryan. Meg's reporter character travels to the jungles of (far away place) to get her interview, only to get abandoned in the mud by crooked locals who promise to take her to meet Rambo and then steal her money and sneak away. In one tense scene, Meg is crying in the rain under a tree when a menacing figure approaches from the shadows. Dramatic music builds, but then the dark figure turns out to be Rambo, the very man Meg has been looking for. He rescues her but refuses to grant her an interview, instead insisting he'll take her to the nearest metro area so she can go home. But as they trek through the jungle, Meg discovers resolve that she never knew she had and Rambo gets in touch with feelings he'd forgotten. Along the way there are comic misadventures involving poison ivy and a group of mischievous monkeys. The tables are turned during another tense scene wherein Meg saves Rambo's life from a huge (some kind of animal). Neither of them reveals their feelings to the other, although it's obvious to the audience that they've fallen in love. When they get to the metro area Meg appears to get on the plane home and Rambo retreats to the bar to drown his sorrows ... but as the plane pulls out it reveals Meg still standing there on the tarmac. They rush together and embrace, the music swells, one of the monkeys steals Rambo's survival knife out of his back pocket, fade to black.

You know, as stupid as those ideas are, I really probably should copyright them.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

 

Philanthropist Donates 200 Human Kidneys To Hospital



I don't usually post these kinds of "feel good" stories ... but this one gave me a very special feeling on the insides:

God bless you, Mr. Anonymous Philanthropist. And God bless us all, every onion.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

 

The Liberal Kind Of Fascism



I haven't (yet) read Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, but it was recently capsulized in an issue of National Review, and I found the article both entertaining and fascinating.

The book isn't the kind of emotional smear that we Conservatives have gotten used to whenever the word fascism is used by liberals. If you oppose abortion, favor private gun ownership, or simply can't figure out how the words "gay" and "marriage" are supposed to be used in the same sentence, the liberals typically can't go two minutes of conversation without calling you a fascist. Goldberg's book isn't that kind of rhetorical hyperbole. It's an in depth, historical examination of the links between the fascism of Europe of the '30's and '40's and the liberalism of America today.

And there are a great many links. The two ideologies are, in fact, of one mind in many ways ... and there are a great many connections.

If you're interested, here are a couple of interesting articles on the book and the topic. It's really pretty cool to see the fascist skeletons hauled out of liberalism's closet this way.



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Saturday, March 08, 2008

 

Ew?



The Hardees down the road has a new burger on the menu ... but it doesn't seem like even they find it very appetizing.

I dunno ... a Jalapeno burger sounds pretty good to me. They must know something about it that I don't.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

 

Penn and Teller on Conspiracy Theories



Hat tip to Brooke, who linked to one of the videos below in a comment at Cube's blog.

Penn and Teller's Bullshit! is a darn good show. I don't always agree with the perspectives that Penn and Teller share on their program, but they always make their points extremely well and usually come up with rock-solid arguments.

Here's an instance where I do agree with them. Conspiracy theories are total bullshit. There are no alien corpses in Roswell ... The moon landing was not faked ... JFK was not assassinated by a cabal of Cubans, FBI agents and military-industrial-complex goons ... and, most importantly, 9/11 was NOT a government conspiracy. And (I do not make this statement lightly) if you disagree with any of that, then you are probably a f*&^%g moron.

The three YouTube videos below comprise the entire episode of Bullshit! that was dedicated to shooting down conspiracy theories. Especially the 9/11 troofers. The language is often harsh, but in this instance, I think that's appropriate.

Penn sums it all up pretty succinctly: The same government that couldn't successfully cover up a break-in in a DC hotel could NEVER manage to cover up any of the crazy crap that the conspiracy theorists believe.

Watch. Learn. Think. Remember. Don't be a f*@$%g moron.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


And hey, for what it's worth, here's what I think: People don't believe in God anymore. They just don't. Something like ... what, 80% of Americans ... claim to be Christian? The claim is nominal. People don't got to Church, don't pray, and really don't think much about God. But we're still hardwired to believe in something bigger than us. So people believe in an all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipresent government that really controls everything. Sure, these conspiracy theories seem silly to most of us, but it's a lot easier to swallow than the notion of a loving God. Right?

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

 

Links and Links





That's all for now. Have a great weekend.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

 

New Nine Inch Nails Is (At Least Partly) Free



Nine Inch Nails has finished a new album, an all-instrumental effort called Ghosts: I-IV, and the band is giving some of the music away for free over the internet.

You can download the first quarter of the album for free at the NIN homepage, and if you like it, you can buy the whole thing for just five bucks.

According to Trent Reznor, the musician who basically is Nine Inch Nails, this album is a direct result of his having finished his last recording contract. From Billboard.com:
"I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point," says Reznor, who collaborated on the music with Alan Moulder, Atticus Ross, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione. "This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective -- dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference."

Demand for the free/cheap music has been tremendous, causing the NIN webservers to crawl to a halt as fans download the project. Reznor says he's trying to get more servers up to meet the demand ... meanwhile, if you check around, you'll find other places to download the free content.
I'm downloading the free tracks now and look forward to giving them a listen.

In my opinion, Reznor has done some brilliant work in the past. The NIN album The Fragile is easily the creative high-watermark of the industrial rock era. Almost ten years later, The Fragile holds up as a highly entertaining and compelling listening experience. However, more recent NIN efforts have been fair to lackluster, with last year's Year Zero ultimately turning out to be a real disappointment.

I'm glad to have a chance to hear a sizable chunk of NIN's new material before I commit a dime of my own money to it.

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