20 December 2007

The Symphonies of Agony

It's the end of the year. We all know that. And so does every music/arts publication on the globe. A lot of these "End Of The Year" lists come from trusted and reliable source. Sources like Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, New York Times and the list goes on. What's funny is the subjectivity behind all of it. Where one list (Spin) has Rilo Kiley's "Under the Blacklights" at number 40 of 40, Rolling Stone lists it at a surprising No. 8.

I know there's a lot of different criteria being used to mark albums as best of the year, but I would hope to think that we could see a little more consistency. Now let me qualify that. The lists, as a whole, have a lot of the same albums in their overall list. Most - if not all - of the albums (I would have to say) are the best of the year, but the orders are completely screwed. I'm not sure if some of the list makers truly feel that number 1 is the best of the year or if the list is just an overall compilation of the year's best in no particular order.

It seems to me that there's so much inconsistency. And am I crazy to think that it's so wrong for Rolling Stone to have put Linkin Park, Britney Spears, Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5 on their list? But enough about all that. As usual here are a list of what I feel are the Best of the Year. Unlike most lists, mine will be in no particular order.

Radiohead - "In Rainbows"
Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible"
Against Me - "New Wave"
Bright Eyes - "Cassadaga"
The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
Feist - "The Reminder"
Justice - "t"
Sigur Ros - "Heif/Hvarm"

Now some albums that may not be the 10 best of the year, but ones that I've certainly enjoyed:

As Cities Burn - "Come Now Sleep"
Interpol - "Our Love To Admire"
Travis - "The Boy With No Name"
The Receiving End of Sirens - "The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi"
Ryan Adams - "Easy Tiger"
Minus the Bear - "Planet of Ice"

Oh and the list goes on. I will probably be out of commission for a few days, but will be ringing in 2008 with a bang. Not literally, though.

19 December 2007

I see it

The votes are in and it's a landslide. I could not be more thrilled about Congress stepping up to really make auto makers make some freaking changes and soon. The vote, 314-100, will now go directly to the White House for approval on making all cars have an MPG rating of 35mpg by 2020.

Congress is making sense on something right now and that's a breath of fresh air. I have full confidence in the White House to approve this and, even though auto makers will be pissy about it, I feel that they'll see this as a good thing as well.

Now the oil men. They might raise a couple of fists about this. And it leads me to wonder what the motivation for the 100 nay-sayers was to try to prevent this from passing. Connection to Exxon? Vested interest in international oil? Who knows, but it smells rotten and I'm so glad to see them get shot down.

14 December 2007

Time on our hands

So, it happened. The Mitchell Report came to us in a 300 plus page binder to list the testimonies, back medical records, financial reports and much more of dozens of MLB players who have knowingly used steroids during their time as an MLB player.

I am a bucket full of mixed emotions about this. First I'm glad that light is finally shed on all of this. As I've mentioned in the past, I've always believed that sports should have a "one strike" policy when it comes to drugs, criminal activity and/or performance enhancing drugs. I feel that it would keep every sport more pure. I feel like it's great moment as other sports will start taking notice of what Baseball is doing. This is good. It really is.

But, I must say that I hated seeing some of my childhood favorites on the list. Wally Joyner? Even though he admitted to taking steroids only a couple of times before stopping forever, it breaks my heart. Roger Clemens, Benito Santiago. Man, that breaks my heart to see.

I guess there are going to be a lot of asterisks besides players names in the Hall of Fame.

All in all, it's a great day for the sport and for sports in general, but a sad day to see the truth of it all.

13 December 2007

Get Up, Get Out, or Get Gone

A long standing point of frustration in my life: The Hummer. Formerly known as Hummer, Hum V and currently known as the the H2 and H3 vehicle.

I do not apologize if I offend any Hummer owners by saying that I am absolutely disgusted at your vehicle. It's gratuitous, irresponsible and well, just plain ugly. If you're curious as to exactly why I hate these vehicles here is a few reasons:

The H2 is the ultimate poseur vehicle. It has the chassis of a Chevy Tahoe and a body that looks like the original Hummer; i.e. it's a Chevy Tahoe in disguise.

The H2 is a gas guzzler. Because it has a gross vehicle weight rating over 8500 lbs, the US government does not require it to meet federal fuel efficiency regulations. Hummer isn't even required to publish its fuel economy (owners indicate that they get around 10 mpg for normal use). So while our brothers and sisters are off in the Middle East risking their lives to secure America's fossil fuel future, H2 drivers are pissing away our "spoils of victory" during each trip to the grocery store.

The H2 is a polluter. Based on G.M.'s optimistic claim that it gets13 mpg, an H2 will produce 3.4 metric tons of carbon emissions in a typical year, nearly double that of G.M.'s Chevrolet Malibu sedan.

The H2 is a tax loophole. Under the current tax laws, business owners can deduct nearly half the cost of their H2s. If you are in the highest tax bracket, that's a tax savings of nearly $10,000! The government rewards you more savings for buying an H2 than you'd get for buying an electric car.

**MY source for this was FUH2 and a source for GM vehicles.

If I have a vote my vote is to get all vehicles with less than 30mpg off the road and if you must create SUVs and the like, make them highly more fuel efficient. We have the technology to do it. And it would be nice to see the congressional vote to have all vehicles have a 35mpg by the year 2015. That'd be nice.

11 December 2007

In Another World

I was a fan of the first season of The Discovery Channel show Man vs. Wild. Host Bear Grylls would allow himself to be lost in the most remote places on this planet to show us his adventure and survival as he sought a way to civilization and safety. In the French Alps, Alaskan wilderness, South Pacific Islands and many other places Bear would walk, swim and climb his way out of every situation that faced him. He would sometimes intentionally put himself in perilous situation to show us, the viewer, the proper way to handle that situation if ever faced with it. He would hunt and kill his own meals, eat whatever he could and do all of it with a flint, a knife and a water bottle. It was fantastic.

The second season of Man vs. Wild has just began airing on Discovery and it's fantastic. In a nice change from the first season, Bear not only find himself so remote in places like the Patagonia Mountains and the Sahara Desert, but he mixes things up a bit by spending time with people native to those areas to learn and experience their lives in these beautiful, but treacherous areas. There's never a dull moment.

Now, recently Bear came under some scrutiny about how he handled certain situations while filming the first season of the show. Some claimed that he had assistance with catching animals, having lodging prepared for him and receiving help with assembling rafts and huts. All of this was kind of silly, because not only is this entertainment, but if you click the link above to Bear's biography you will see that he is more of a man and holds more accomplishments in his 35 years than many of us combined.

I guess all this to say that if you don't watch the show, you should. I know many people who watch it aren't even interested in the outdoors or survival, but still enjoy this show. And also it's appropriate to give respect where respect is due.

10 December 2007

A call

There's not really much you can do in the midst of such an inexplicable tragedy. Two Colorado Springs churches were attacked yesterday and people killed. Just a hope and a prayer for peace and understanding in the city of Colorado Springs and comfort for those dealing with the pain of loss.

Fourteen Years

Looks like little Mikey Vick finally got the word. Twenty three months sentence. Granted, Vicky will only serve six of those at most, but it's about flipping time our justice system worked well when dealing with a celebrity.

I'll let posts about Ron Mexico lay to rest. We've seen this through to the end and I'm glad that I've found this ending up with a favorable result.

Dog fighting is bad.

04 December 2007


Ok here goes. Last night was the season finale of the NBC show Heroes. This was a show that arrived late last year and many viewers were very leery about how it was going to turn out. Many people thought it was going to be an X-Men rip-off. Others thought is was just going to be a cheesy show that only comic book nerds were going to enjoy. The show, however, surprised viewers and critics alike. It was great. The storyline was interesting. The development of characters was fun and relate-able. The conflict of good vs. evil was what most viewers want out of a show that tells of the lives of people with super powers.

I've mentioned this before, but it was the sleeper hit of last year. Not one episode was boring or lacked good story or characters.

The second season has been the biggest drag. The new characters were completely lame. The "conflict" was good vs. better. Not good vs. evil, like the first season so strongly told. The stories and sub-plots were boring and dragged on for more episodes than anyone needed. Even the show's creator issued a public apologized for the lack of a good show this season.

Needless to say, the second season did not impress me and, at times, bored me. Like I typically do with shows where I have a connection to its characters and story, I held out hope that the season would end on a high note. This was not the case.

The season finale was a let down. The characters the show had been hyping to kill off, were completely inconsequential and will not affect the large part of the story. They character I wished they would kill off the most simply flew away to the tears of his angry and vindictive cheerleader girlfriend.

The show left us with a glimpse of the third season which will be titled "Villains." I am still holding out a little hope for the third season to come back strong. The fact that the creator knows the show's been weak will hopefully inspire them to really push the limits to find greatness again. We'll have to wait till 2008 to find out, so I'll put this one to bed for some time.

03 December 2007

White Tooth Man

PTL is all I have to say about the responsible voters in Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez was making a major push to vote "Yes" to amend their constitution, allowing him to be elected President as long as he wishes to run - an amendment similar to the ones made to the Cuban constitution allowing Castro to remain in power so long. This amendment, among others, apparently did not fly with the Venezuelan citizens and for that I am thankful.

Chávez is slightly (if not completely) maniacal and extremely power hungry. Not to mention he hates so many other countries and national leaders, yet neglects to be diplomatic enough to respond to requests for international meetings to discuss resolving the issues of his ire.

Chávez does, however, love Sean Penn. They met a couple of months ago to talk about their shared hate for the US and George Bush. I could go on about this for some time, but I'll refrain.

Let's just leave it at the fact that I am proud of Venezuela for speaking their voice in a vote (that was un-constitutional in itelf) to not change their national constitution.

We don't know

This weekend I had the pleasure of viewing Before The Devil Knows You're Dead at the famous Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. Like many of the great movies around (or that I've seen recently) this film covers a particularly heavy topic: family betrayal and deceit.

The movie, however dark and completely depressing, is fantastic. The acting, the music and cinematography all play so perfectly in the entire script. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play perfectly as brothers conspiring to knock off their parent's jewelry store in order to collect on an insurance policy and get out of financial trouble.

The actions of these brothers and their father are extremely tough to wrap my head around, but at the end of the day, I am so happy that I saw this movie and would recommend it to anyone who likes anything good. I wouldn't be surprised if some good accolades come to this film.