Thursday, September 30, 2004

'nuff said... Posted by Hello

SORRY FRODO, YOU'RE TOO LATE...  Posted by Hello

Kerry Did a Good Job

My wife and I saw and heard a number of things we liked in tonight's presidential debate.

1. Kerry said it's one thing to be certain, but it's another thing to be "too certain" about important issues... effectively demonstrating that Bush is inflexible.

2. Kerry got Bush flustered a number of times. Bush wanted to interrupt a lot more that Kerry did. Kerry actually looked like he was enjoying the debate, taking notes and smiling during times when Bush was speaking.

3. Bush had to rely on overuse of particular phrases such as "it's hard work". He would become silent or frustrated, then resort to the usual cliches.

4. Kerry only had to mention Vietnam two or three times, and when he did so... it was effective.

5. Kerry is a far superior candidate to Al Gore when it comes to being articulate and persuasive in a debate.

6. Kerry drove home the point about how it was Osama Bin Laden who attacked our country, and how it wasn't Iraq.

7. Kerry made Bush visibly angry by recalling the first Gulf War, in which George Sr. didn't move on to Baghdad because the U.S. didn't have an exit strategy for a prolonged war. This effectively made the point that Dubya is not even as good a president as his dad, who was pretty pathetic, in my opinion.

8. Kerry put Bush on the defensive for more than half of the debate. Dubya's uneasiness was demonstrated by the way in which he turned the "Texas accent thing" on and off. He tried to get the "swagger" going and it didn't really happen. Bush appeared meek and inarticulate more than he appeared macho.

9. Kerry wanted to deal directly with North Korea in a bilateral manner. Bush, almost gleeful, claimed this would leave China and other nations of that region out of the picture. Kerry calmly reminded Bush that simply by the proximity of those nations to North Korea they would not be excluded. He wants us to take the lead, but we won't be excluding anyone.

10. Kerry took advantage of his opportunity to clear up the silly "flip-flop" accusations. He came across as being determined and decisive.

11. Kerry clearly beat Bush in style, as he was articulate but not to the point of using words that were too big, or language that average people couldn't understand.

12. Kerry gave a good picture of what he would do with Iraq. Bush? He basically said he would keep it going over there, no matter what. Kerry brought up the point that Bush really doesn't have an exit strategy, evidenced by the U.S. building at least a dozen permanent military bases in Iraq.

13. Kerry continually emphasized that we have to deal with our allies on a daily basis, and that we need to regain the respect we had from the rest of the world prior to the current war.

14. Kerry pointed out that to the world, it looks like we are in Iraq for the oil... especially when that's what we are mostly protecting there!

15. Kerry wisely brought up the realization that we ought to help out in the effort to stop nuclear weapons by stopping our own testing and production! What a concept! Glad to hear him say it.

16. Kerry seemed natural. He was animated enough to shake off the "wooden" tag, and he spoke concisely enough that people shouldn't have considered him "boring". I thought Bush had nothing new to say... his cliches made HIM seem "wooden" and "boring". Touche!!

thanks to

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

ADVENTURE! Posted by Hello

It Takes a Worried Man, To Sing a Worried Song...

This has been a prolific day on the blog. I need to stop now, and go to bed. But hey, I'm worried about the debates! Politics seems to be so much more about style than substance nowadays when it comes to things like this.

My worry is that Bush will spout his usual sound-bytes such as "We're fighting the war on terror in Iraq so we don't have to fight it here in America", "We won't let Europe make our foreign policy", "We need strong, decisive leadership", etc. He will put on his faux-Texas accent and get the swagger going, leaning forward and smirking as he makes his point with short sentences and monosyllabic words, portraying himself as the kind of macho hero America needs in such dangerous times. Karl Rove will have trained him well.

Kerry? I'm afraid he will launch into lengthy, rational, intelligent discourses which leave the listeners who have been numbed by Dubya's simplicity saying "Huh?" and "What did Kerry just say?" I feel sad that I find myself worried that Kerry may come across as sounding too intelligent... and it's sad that he may well have what many will consider a "poor" debate performance because he sounds too intelligent when discussing issues.

I have no doubt Kerry will be a passionate participant in the debates, and that he will make Bush look foolish once their statements are examined after the debates are over.

Will others view things this way? Will people in this country warm up to someone who says things which make good sense, but who doesn't have as much personality or "everyman" appeal as his opponent? (Even when the "everyman" thing is unadulterated b.s.?)

I'm almost afraid to watch the debates and find out...

The Profound Wisdom of Jay Leno

I think Jay Leno is a profoundly intelligent man. Sorry I went all OCD on you, dear readers... there are about 35 observations... but read his quotes, and see what you think!

"A new poll says that if the election were held today, both John Kerry and John Edwards would beat President Bush by double digit margins. The White House is so worried about this, they're now thinking of moving up the capture of Osama Bin Laden to next month."

"Is it me or is Bush going everywhere Kerry goes? So far in the past week, President Bush has followed John Kerry to Davenport, Iowa; New Mexico; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; and he follows him to Portland, Oregon. The only place he never followed John Kerry was Vietnam."

"Rumors have restarted that the Republican ticket will not be Bush-Cheney. But today those rumors were put to rest when Cheney said, 'No, I'm keeping him on the ticket.'"

"A Newsweek poll said if the election were held today, John Kerry would beat Bush 49 percent to 46 percent. And today, President Bush called Newsweek magazine a threat to world peace."

"Monday on NBC Bush said about the war on terrorism, 'I don't think we can win it.' And yesterday he said at a rally, 'We will win it." John Kerry is furious. Now Bush is beating him on flip-flopping. Hey, that was his issue."

"Republicans are now saying that Dan Rather should lose his job because he misled the country with bogus information. Which is odd because the Democrats are saying the exact same thing about President Bush."

"President Bush said yesterday it doesn't make any sense to raise taxes on the rich because rich people can figure out how to dodge taxes. Then Dick Cheney said 'Shut up! You're ruining everything.'"

"Have you noticed how the Republicans and Democrats try to copy each other at their conventions. Like at the Democratic convention John Kerry's daughter told a story about how he once gave CPR to her hamster. At the Republican convention the Bush girls are going to tell a story about how when their hamster was bad, their dad built them a little electric chair."

"The L.A. Times reports that al Qaeda terrorists have been traced to Iran, and President Bush is talking tough. In fact he said he will attack the minute he has evidence his approval rating is under 45 percent."

"Imagine if they delay the election. This could mean that Bush would be the longest serving president never to get elected." — on reports that the election may be delayed in the event of a terrorist attack

"Bush fell off his bike while mountain biking on his ranch over the weekend. He hit a rough spot in the trail. There's a switch — the environment hurting Bush."

"You know what really makes this embarrassing? The other day the president said the leaders in Iraq are 'ready to take off the training wheels.' That's what he said, 'take off the training wheels.' Then he goes out and falls off his bicycle. And they wonder why the rest of the world doesn't take us seriously."

"President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are scheduled to testify before the 9/11 commission. I guess right now they're finalizing the seating arrangements. Should Bush sit on Cheney's right knee or his left knee?"

"President Bush earned $400,000 for his job as president last year. That's not really that much for being president when you think about it. But President Bush, he doesn't do it for the money, he does it for the eight months of vacation every year."

"The other night, President Bush's press conference was pre-empted by 'American Idol.' You know the difference between President Bush and 'American Idol?' See, on 'American Idol,' the one with the most votes wins."

"They said that President Bush's war in Iraq has cost the former Spanish Prime Minister his job. So President Bush isn't losing American jobs anymore, he's branching out to other countries."

"President Bush went out touting his economic record in Ohio last week. Now this is a state that lost 225,000 jobs since Bush took office. You know, if Bush wants to tout his record, he should do it somewhere where the Bush economy has actually created jobs, like India, or Thailand, or China."

"President Bush says he has just one question for the American voters, 'Is the rich person you're working for better off now than they were four years ago?'"

"President Bush was in Los Angeles yesterday where he announced his new campaign theme — 'Safer, Stronger, and Tested.' Isn't that a condom ad?"

"Some sad news, President Bush's lapdog passed away. Gee, I didn't even know Tony Blair was sick?"

"The Democrats say that President Bush doesn't have an exit strategy for Iraq. Of course he does. If things don't go well, he exits in November."

"President Bush is now focusing on jobs. I think the one job he's focusing most on is his own. The White House is now backtracking from its prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. this year. They say they were off by roughly 2.6 million jobs."

"President Bush said he was 'troubled' by gay people getting married in San Francisco. He said on important issues like this the people should make the decision, not judges. Unless of course we're choosing a president, then he prefers judges."

"It was reported in the paper that President Bush received a 'warm reception' from the Daytona 500 drivers. Well sure, the drivers had never met anyone who was sponsored by more oil companies than they were."=

"In his annual economic report to Congress President Bush said that the transfer of American jobs overseas is actually part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time. So basically, losing your job to someone else can be a good thing. Of course we'll see how he feels about that in November."

"The White House has now released military documents that they say prove George Bush met his requirements for the National Guard. Big deal, we've got documents that prove Al Gore won the election."

"Bush did have an explanation, he said he did go to Alabama but when he didn't find weapons of mass destruction, he went back to Texas."

"President Bush stopped off at a bass pro fishing store to pick up a fishing reel, some line and some rubber worms. He's going to disappear and go fishing. So he must think he's back in the National Guard."

"Critics are now saying that his dad got him out of going to Vietnam. However, his dad did get him to go to Iraq."

"President Bush released his new $2.4 trillion federal budget. It has two parts: smoke and mirrors."

"As you know President Bush gave his State of the Union Address, interrupted 70 times by applause and 45 times by really big words."

"President Bush said that our kids must be taught how to read. He said if his aides never learned to read, they'd never be able to tell him what's in the newspapers every day."

"President Bush said that American workers will need new skills to get the new jobs in the 21st century. Some of the skills they're going to need are Spanish, Chinese, Korean, because that's where the jobs went. Who better than Bush as an example of what can happen when you take a job without any training."

"President Bush announced a major new plan for the United States to put a man on the moon, which would be a really big story if this were 1962. Bush said he didn't remember anything about the 60's — I guess he wasn't lying."

Thanks to Posted by Hello

The PRECIOUSSSS... The PRECIOUSSSS... Posted by Hello






I Read It On The Internet, So It Has To Be True! He's FRENCH!!!

Just how sleazy is the GOP? Just check out a couple of these links, and you will get a good idea.,1,1037261.story?coll=la-home-politics (scroll down) (go to "Endorsements" and click on "France")

Saturday, September 25, 2004

IT's ABOUT TIME!!! Posted by Hello

Friday, September 24, 2004

Entertaining Lightbulb Joke

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a light bulb??

The Answer is EIGHT:

1. one to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced

2. one to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb,

3. one to attack and question the integrity of former administration members who admit that the light bulb burned out,

4. one to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb,

5. one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs,

6. one to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton industries one million dollars for a light bulb,

7. one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the lightbulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag,

8. and finally one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Oregon Coast is a wonderful place! Posted by Hello

Standard Deviation: The Legend Begins

I know what can happen when people from work get together and form a band, because I was involved in such an effort about ten years ago. We had the school speech therapist (me) on bass guitar and vocals, the school diagnostician on drums, and the school P.E. teacher on lead guitar. I didn't play bass prior to this band; the guitarist and drummer cornered me one day and told me "You're the bass player." It didn't take long to learn the bass, and learning it was a blast! Our band didn't have a name, and we practiced during our lunch breaks in a beat-up single-wide the school used as a machine shop of sorts. Our best number was probably "Boom Boom Mancini" by Warren Zevon, although we did good versions of "Dirty Weapons" by Killer Dwarfs and "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy.

It is with this experience that I will relate, in coming posts, the history of a band from my town. This band is called Standard Deviation. I will tell you about their humble beginnings in northeast Oregon, and their subsequent meteoric rise to fame. Stay tuned!

Work Worries

This is from an e-mail I recently sent to J. Marquis of .

A local "watchdog" committee has exposed all kinds of fraud and wrongdoing among the top administrators at the local Education Services District (ESD), the place where I work. Administrator #1, the fellow who has been managing our "alternative education" programs in La Grande and around the state (we have numerous branches) has apparently been monkeying with the numbers which get reported to the state regarding average daily student membership. The state gives out funds for each student reported. There has been misreporting of student numbers by #1 and his assistant to the tune of at least $400K, all Oregon taxpayers' money. That's not the worst of it... there was a state audit that revealed those abuses, and listed page after page of other corrupt practices including misspending of $750K per year!

The guy I did my school administrative practicum under, I'll call him #2, may have been skimming money from the ESD for years. He retired several years ago, but since then has been on a special contract as a "consultant", to the tune of $96K a year. He doesn't even live in this area anymore, from what I gather... The FBI is in on the investigations now.

None of this means I will be losing my job, at least not yet. The local school district contracts some special ed services through our ESD, including speech therapists (like me) and diagnosticians (people who do intelligence testing on students.) If I do get a "pink slip" it could be due to our ESD not being able to afford to pay us anymore after having to pay restitution to the state of Oregon for monies owed back... and the local school district would then most likely hire me and the other speech therapists, along with the diagnosticians.

Needless to say, the school district is furious with the ESD and may seek to terminate its services contract ASAP. If I do get hired as a school district employee, it will chop out around $400 a month from my take-home pay, possibly necessitating me working up to a month out-of-town next summer for an on-call speech therapy agency to make up for lost wages (the school district contract is stingy compared to the ESD contract I'm currently on.)

During the past week, the local watchdog group succeeded in getting rid of #1 and his assistant, #2, and the ESD superintendent. The group is also trying to get some ESD board members recalled. Their group includes a number of people who used to work for the ESD and who have axes to grind, mostly with #2. #2 had some affairs which involved committee members, and there been some expensive sexual harrassment settlements. The board members should probably be gotten rid of as well, either for knowingly approving of the ESD administrators' illegal moves, or for being ignorant of what was going on.

As I see it, the problem now is that the watchdog group plans to run their own candidates in an election once they get the board positions vacated through the recall... and then who knows what they will do next... once foaming-at-the-mouth types get a taste of power, things can get really ugly. I fear they may go after our ESD employee contract, or start attacking individual employees. SO... I'm pretty anxious to take the monthly pay cut and sign on with the local school district, and get off the sinking ship.

What I'm hoping for is for our ESD to be assimilated by another ESD based 50 miles from here. That ESD has a good reputation, and I wouldn't take such a pay cut. Any way one looks at all this, it's a damned shame... because it's the kids we serve that suffer the most. And I don't think I should be sweating about this a whole lot. When I think about how many people in our country are unemployed... I'm just glad I still have a job. While I still have one, I will continue to enjoy it as I have for the last 15 years.

Very Long MoveOn.Org-Based Post

I thoroughly enjoyed the e-mail I received from this morning. Here are excerpts from it, with my comments interspersed.

"Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) is calling on Bush to level with us, by releasing the report, formally called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), to the public. Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has read the NIE, and he thinks we all should see it too. "

I would LOVE to see this report. What American with an inquiring mind wouldn't? Or, if one had the chance to read it, who wouldn't want to make changes based on the findings of experts? I can think of one person who wouldn't... and he is currently squatting in the White House. Some minds want nothing to do with evidence which runs counter to their ideology.

I think it's good that other Republicans are beginning to get impatient with the Iraq situation. More from the e-mail message:

"Senator Chuck Hagel (NE), a Republican, says: 'The worst thing we can do is hold ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we're winning. Right now, we are not winning. Things are getting worse.' 'The fact is, we're in trouble. We're in deep trouble in Iraq.' "

Hagel is a pretty important Senator. He also is, interestingly enough, on the board of directors of one of the companies which manufactures the new computerized voting machines...

"Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also supports releasing the NIE (report) and says: 'We made serious mistakes right after the initial successes by not having enough troops there on the ground, by allowing the looting, by not securing the borders.' "

I don't think McCain has much credibility after he was beaten up by Bush in 2000 and then has been out campaigning for the guy this year. (Does this make McCain a "flip-flopper"? Heeheehee) Just the same, McCain is prominent and influential, and a lot of Republicans look up to him.

"Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), says 'he believes the situation in Iraq is going to get worse before it gets better, adding that he believes the administration has done a 'poor job of implementing and adjusting at times.' He also says 'We do not need to paint a rosy scenario for the American people' "

Wasn't Graham one of the self-righteous group of guys who tried to impeach Clinton? All you Clinton-haters out there... listen up! That's your boy Lindsey talking!

"Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) says it's 'exasperating for anybody to look at this from any vantage point.'

I doubt Lugar has ever said much with which I would agree, because I think he is crazy... but I think he makes a good point here! The e-mail article continues...

"Those are Republicans talking. Here's what the generals and national security experts are saying, in a terrific recent piece in the UK's Guardian newspaper:

"Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, said: 'Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost.' He adds: 'Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends.'

Maybe Bush should listen more closely to people in the military. Of course, that is a world foreign to him.

"Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, [said]: 'The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options.... The priorities are just all wrong.' "

"Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: 'I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true...' "

If there is a ray of light, it may in fact be the headlamp of an oncoming train...

"W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute -- and the top expert on Iraq there -- said: 'I don't think that you can kill the insurgency'... 'The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed'... 'Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators.' "

"General Odom [also] said: 'This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies...'"

Thanks, Dubya.

Odom comtinues: "'I've never seen [tensions] so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster.'"

Thanks, Dumsfeld.

"Just as important are the opinions of those whose loved ones are serving in Iraq, like Martha Jo McCarthy, whose husband is on National Guard duty there. She says:
'Everyone supports the troops, and I know they're doing a phenomenal job over there, not only fighting but building schools and digging wells. But supporting the troops has to mean something more than putting yellow-ribbon magnets on your car and praying they come home safely.'
'I read the casualty Web site every day and ask myself, Do I feel safer here? No. I don't think we can win this war through arrogance. Arrogance is different from strength. Strength requires wisdom, and I think we need to change from arrogance to solid strength.' "

Those may be the wisest words I have read yet on this subject...

"Join Senator Graham now in calling on President Bush to face the facts and level with us, by releasing the CIA's report, at:

I think I'll participate in this one. I have an inquiring mind, and I want to know the truth. I believe most Americans are in the same boat.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Check Out This New Truck!!!

Just what our country needs:

What a thing of beauty. It's bigger than a Hummer, and it gets all of SEVEN miles on a gallon of diesel fuel! The maker says it's designed for businesses, i.e. for contractors, and with a price tag of over $90K not many people will be able to afford it... but I would bet we will begin to see a good number of these on our highways during the next few years.

One of these days they'll come up with a vehicle that gets NEGATIVE miles per gallon. How would that work? Would it only have one gear (reverse)?

I believe that designing and marketing vehicles like this one puts the whole country in reverse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Dizzy Gillespie, Move Over!

Hmmm. It will probably be more like "Dizzy Gillespie, roll over in your grave"...

I stumbled onto an old, unclaimed trumpet that was in a lost-and-found where I work. The thing had been there for a couple of years, and nobody had ever stepped forward to say "Mine!" So, I was told to make it disappear if I wanted it. It's an Olds Ambassador model, circa 1970. Lots of the enamel is worn off, and there is no mouthpiece, but mouthpieces only cost $15-$20... and all the valves appear to be just fine! I estimate the worth of the instrument in its current condition to be about $50. I can get a decent sound on a brass instrument, but I know no fingerings, thus I know no notes. Where to begin? Probably with an instruction book. Once I learn some notes I can take on guys like Dizzy, Satchmo, Wynton Marsalis, etc.

I also bought my own saxophone mouthpiece to use with my daughter's alto sax. I play clarinets (regular, alto and bass), so I figure that saxophone shouldn't be too difficult to learn. During college I borrowed a friend's alto sax and taught myself some scales and arpeggios. I got to where I could play some melody lines by ear, and my sound was improving daily until my friend needed his instrument back. That ended that... Now, 25 years later I'm ready to give the sax another go.

Which instrument should I start on first, the trumpet or the alto sax? I had a thought: why not see if the mouthpiece to one instrument fits on the other, and go from there?

When I eventually release my first CD, "Various Miseries", I will be sure that both the sax and the trumpet appear in one of the songs. It will be brutal, but what the heck!

The CD is one I have been working on at home, using my digital 8-channel recorder. I will be playing and singing all the parts, and just about all the music will be original. It should provide you, the listeners, with a truly miserable experience! Heh heh heh!

Gee Daddy, is God really a Republican?

The following items are from this article: It’s a good read. Check out these quotes and ask yourself if any of this scares you, even just a little.

“I believe God wants me to be president.” - George W. Bush

"I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President." - George W. Bush

"I think that God picked the right man at the right time for the right purpose." - popular Christian broadcaster Janet Parshall

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of America did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." – General William “Jerry” Boykin

"If I'd won that election in 1992, my oldest son would not be president of the United States of America. I think the Lord works in mysterious ways." – former president George H. W. Bush

Time magazine reported re. 9/11: "Privately, Bush talked of being chosen by the grace of God to lead at that moment."

I add this: a letter-writer to the Oregonian recently said something to the effect of "We used to call people who say they talk to God 'delusional'. Now we call them 'President.'" Heh...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Band Review: Guided By Voices

I have been a fan of Guided By Voices since 1996, when I heard their CD "Alien Lanes". This CD is a "low-fi" home recording, made on a 4-track recorder... It features tape hiss, some fuzzy sounds, and some songs which sound incomplete... but I view it as a work of art. It's something like 41 minutes long, but there are 28 songs. Many of the songs clock in at under two minutes, with the shortest ("Hit") at 17 seconds! The band rocks out on many of the cuts, the lyrics are poetic and imaginative, the titles are amusing, and Robert Pollard has A TRUE GIFT for creating melodies that can stick with a listener for days!

The main man of this band has always been Pollard. He was an athlete in college, throwing a no-hitter for Wright State's baseball team. He went on to become a teacher, and I believe he was teaching fourth grade when he decided to give up that day job for the life of a rock and roller. While the band lineups have changed frequently, Pollard remains the constant, the bandmaster. He plays some guitar here and there, but his primary job is lyricist and songwriter. When Pollard writes songs, he comes up with a strange title first, then writes the song!

Early Guided By Voices is contained in the box set titled... "Box"! The five CDs represent the first four GbV albums, plus an extra disc of "extras" called "King Shit and the Golden Boys". This last CD stands alone as a great GbV album.

The early "classic" GbV lineup (including Tobin Sprout on guitar) produced the acclaimed low-fi masterpieces "Vampire On Titus", "Propeller", "Bee Thousand" and "Alien Lanes" in the early to mid-90's, along with the EPs "Fast Japanese Spin Cycle" and "The Grand Hour". The musicians, frequently fueled by alcohol, produced many accidental moments of greatness. For example, on "Alien Lanes" the song "Ex-Supermodel" features the sound of a friend passed out on Pollard's couch, snoring noisily. There are also some songs which bring to mind the sounds of British Invasion bands and early 70's rock. Pollard has a decent vocal range, and his reedy voice makes his words and melodies come to life.

The band cleaned up their sound a bit with "Under The Bushes Under The Stars", which proved to be the last album by the "classic" lineup. This disc has higher production values but continues the band's tradition of memorable songs. An EP disc called "Sunfish Holy Breakfast was also released around this time, and it contains some fine melodies. At this point, Pollard decided to record with the band Cobre Verde backing him, and touring as Guided By Voices. Their CD "Mag Earwhig!" continued the trend toward cleaner-sounding music, and introduced guitarist Doug Gillard to GbV fans.

The band made further advances up the musical evolutionary ladder with "Do The Collapse". Until this time, GbV had recorded a string of CDs for independent label Matador. This time, they signed on with another indie label, TVT, and hired Ric Ocasek (formerly of The Cars) to produce. Cobre Verde was no longer in the picture, but Gillard remained to play guitar. The new band lineup had a tight, muscular sound on record. Their sound was almost slick in quality, and "Do The Collapse" is truly a magnificent piece of melodic rock ear candy. One single from this disc, "Hold On Hope" is abstractly anthemic, with a grand, stately feeling. The leadoff cut "Teenage FBI" features nice guitarwork and great vocal harmonies. Gillard's guitar shines on "Surgical Focus", "Mushroom Art" and "Wormhole". The rest of the band fleshes out the sound with layers of guitars, vocals and keyboards. A second TVT disc, "Isolation Drills", continued in the same vein with a different producer, but in my opinion it does not have the warmth of "Do The Collapse". Nonetheless, it includes a lot of great melodic hooks, good lyrics, excellent singing and wonderful guitarwork.

Guided By Voices went back home to Matador for "Universal Truths and Cycles", which contains some "low-fi" moments for old-school GbV fans, alongside some more-produced cuts such as "Back To The Lake" and the hard-rocking "Skin Parade". "Earthquake Glue" is more of the same, and it prompted one reviewer to say it sounded like "The Who on steroids". I believe that reviewer was correct, as many moments on "Earthquake Glue" do evoke images of Keith Moon and Pete Townshend. This disc contains a wonderful pop single "Best of Jill Hives". "The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet" is a 10-song EP CD that features cuts not used on "Universal Truths" and "Earthquake Glue". For a bunch of "extra" cuts, there are some gems here, particulary the singalong/drinkalong anthem "Beg For a Wheelbarrow" and the sophisticated "Dig Through My Window", replete with strings.

Robert Pollard released many interesting solo CDs during this time, including a personal favorite of mine, "Not In My Air Force", as well as "Waved Out!" and "Kid Marine". He recorded a great CD with Doug Gillard called "Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department"; this one ranks with just about any GbV disc in quality of material. Gillard did just about all the playing, Pollard did the singing and writing. The pair has recorded another CD as "Lifeguards", but I have not yet heard it. Pollard reunited with old-school GbV bandmate Tobin Sprout for a couple of CDs as Airport 5. "Tower In The Fountain Of Sparks" is the better of the two, as the songs are more cohesive, while I think "Life Begins Here" sounds like a collection of "extras".

The recent box set "Hardcore UFO's" contains several CDs, including the GbV best-of disc "Human Amusements At Hourly Rates". This CD is available individually or as part of the box set, and it is a great introduction to this great band. Other discs contain B-sides, rarities and great unknown cuts such as the enigmatic acoustic-guitar rocker "My Thoughts Are a Gas". The box also includes the DVD "Watch Me Jumpstart", a film about GbV by Clay Tarver.

I only got to see this wonderful band one time, at La Luna in Portland, Oregon. Pollard is a dynamic performer, twirling his microphone, doing high leg kicks. He also likes to drink beers as he performs. I watched him fire a can of Bud into a crowd: it was a fastball, thrown underhand, probably at about 50 mph. Luckily it didn't hit anyone. This happened several more times during the evening, as the band played on and Pollard continued to drink. Seeing him perform, I was able to understand why alcohol is mentioned fairly often in his lyrics. (I wasn't able to figure out why he also frequently refers to airplanes.)

Sadly, Guided By Voices is coming to an end. They recently released "Half Smiles Of The Decomposed", which I haven't heard yet but plan to acquire soon. Their last performance is (I believe) scheduled for Chicago this New Year's Eve. Of course Pollard will continue to record solo material, but things just won't be the same for us GbV fans.

The Best of Guided By Voices: Human Amusements At Hourly Rates (try this one first)
Do The Collapse
Alien Lanes
Bee Thousand
Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Not In My Air Force (Robert Pollard solo)
Sunfish Holy Breakfast

Annual Hearing Screenings

In my work as a speech-language therapist in public schools, I am required to look at the ears of kids in Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, and Fifth Grade in all three of my schools. This involves looking into the ears with an otoscope (a hand-held flashlight like doctors use), doing an impedance test (a small tube is placed in the student's ear, air moves from the tube to the eardrum and back into the tube, which is connected to a machine that measures the student's middle ear function) and a puretone test ("Raise your hand when you hear the beep in the headphones!")

Looking in all those ears means viewing lots and lots of cerumen (the fancy name for earwax). For example, today I looked in the ears of 98 students... that means 196 ear canals altogether. I can tell you, it's enough to make me swear off eating caramel for weeks, let alone eating browned crumble-top desserts. I work with other therapists, and we help out at each others' schools to expedite the screenings. At each school we always select "The Cerumen King" and "The Cerumen Queen", that is, those students with the most amusingly grotesque wax... Some of us are very easily and strangely amused, eh.

When the kids listen to the beeps in the headphones, we are seeing if they can hear pure tones at different frequencies and different volume levels. A jet plane taking off is something like 110 decibels (dB). Normal ears are able to hear puretones at 20 dB or less, which is pretty quiet. The frequencies at which people hear speech sounds are 1000 Hertz (Hz), 2000 Hz, and 4000 Hz. Quiet speech sounds like "TH" and "F" are more in the higher frequency range of 6000 Hz, and we test at 8000 Hz to see if the kids are able to hear high-pitched background noises such as the hum of a flourescent light or the chirping of birds. Probably from playing in a rock band, I am beginning to lose hearing at 6000 and 8000 Hz in my left ear. At those frequencies, I don't hear sounds until they are presented at around 50 dB... time for me to get some musicians' earplugs.

Anyway, today I was testing a fifth-grade student who had heard all the sounds and passed his screening. He was a nice guy and we had been joking prior to me placing the headphones over his ears. At the very end, I told him "Just one more set of beeps. You might have a hard time hearing these next ones." I then turned up the dB level to 80, and pressed the button which sent the beeps into his headphones... the sound wasn't loud enough to hurt his ears, but it did make him jump! After I took off the headphones, I looked him in the eye and said "Can you hear me now?" You should have seen him raise his eyebrows... and them burst out into laughter! Kids are so much fun, and I love getting them to laugh!

As Bugs Bunny would say: "Ain't I a stinkah?" 8-)>

Karl Rove up to more tricks?

I don't know about this idea a friend of mine has: the papers which turned up recently indicating more AWOL behavior from Dubya during his National Guard years actually WERE forgeries... but ones approved by Karl Rove and leaked to CBS by Rove or one of his operatives. Is Rove really that devious? Some believe he has already been behind both the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame and the Swift Boat Veterans ads. After thinking about this for a bit, I have to say it really wouldn't surprise me if Rove did something underhanded to make the president's opponents look like liars. He has been doing things like this for the past 20+ years.

I don't believe Karl Rove has an equal in the Democratic party when it comes to the Department of Dirty Tricks. As long as the GOP has Rove giving advice and setting up more sly schemes, the Republicans will always be one step ahead of the Democrats... and playing "catch-up" is not often an easy thing.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Sean Hannity exposed

The Center for American Progress has a good article containing examples of lies Sean Hannity has told to the American people. I give this guy one thing: he's consistent. Check it out:

Words of "Wisdom" from Ann Coulter

I'm awfully glad this person doesn't speak for the majority of Americans... let alone for most conservatives. Please bear with me, this is a LONG blogpost. I will be the first to admit I should have broken it up into installments... Enjoy these quotes, if you can!

"[Clinton] masturbates in the sinks."---Rivera Live 8/2/99

"It seems President George Bush has imposed an innovative series of workplace rules at the White House. Staffers have been instructed to be on time, practice common courtesy and dress appropriately. (This probably spells an end to the crack pipes on the White House Christmas tree, too.)"

"Clinton's big initiatives during his first year in office consisted of: (1) trying to socialize the nation's health care, and (2) attempting to turn the U.S. armed forces into a homosexual focus group."

"If you don't hate Clinton and the people who labored to keep him in office, you don't love your country."---George, 7/99

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."---Politically Incorrect, 2/26/01

"I think we had enough laws about the turn-of-the-century. We don't need any more." Asked how far back would she go to repeal laws, she replied, "Well, before the New Deal...[The Emancipation Proclamation] would be a good start."---Politically Incorrect 5/7/97

"It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 - except Goldwater in '64 - the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted." - [9] (,3605,956452,00.html) 17 May 2003

"If those kids had been carrying guns they would have gunned down this one [child] gunman. ... Don't pray. Learn to use guns."---Politically Incorrect, 12/18/97

"The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet--it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view." - from her column "Oil Good; Democrats bad" ( 12 October 2000

"God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"---Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

To a disabled Vietnam vet: "People like you caused us to lose that war."---MSNBC

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."

"If they have the one innocent person who has ever to be put to death this century out of over 7,000, you probably will get a good movie deal out of it."---MSNBC 7/27/97

"I think, on the basis of the recent Supreme Court ruling that we can't execute the retarded, American journalists commit mass murder without facing the ultimate penalty," Ms. Coulter told me. "I think they are retarded. I'm trying to communicate to the American people and I have to work through a retarded person!"

The "backbone of the Democratic Party" is a "typical fat, implacable welfare recipient"---syndicated column 10/29/99

"Democrats never talk about believing in something; they talk about simulating belief in something. Americans believe in this crazy God crap that we don't, so how do we hoodwink them into believing we believe in God? It's part of the casual contempt Democrats have for the views of normal people." - from article "The Jesus Thing".

"What is arresting is the Democrats' fantastic habit of openly talking about how they plan to fake out the American people. The Democrats candidly say: How do we make sure the Americans don't know what we're really thinking? Let's get a Southerner, let's talk about Jesus, let's talk about NASCAR – white Southern guys seem to like that. Let's see ... If we could get a general on the ticket, Americans will forget how much we hate the military and long to see America humiliated." - from article "The Jesus Thing".

"The only Democrats who go to church regularly are the ones who plan to run for president someday and are preparing in advance to fake a belief in God. "

"If liberal propaganda didn't work, it would be impossible to comprehend bimbo starlets and uneducated slobs attacking the intelligence of the man who won the Cold War."

"Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now." - Talking Ann Coulter doll, Conservative Book Service ( (from Slander, pp. 5-6; published June 2002)

"Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant."

"Liberals become indignant when you question their patriotism, but simultaneously work overtime to give terrorists a cushion for the next attack and laugh at dumb Americans who love their country and hate the enemy."

"While the form of treachery varies slightly from case to case, liberals always manage to take the position that most undermines American security."

"The Episcopals don't demand much in the way of actual religious belief. They have girl priests, gay priests, gay bishops, gay marriages -- it's much like The New York Times editorial board. They acknowledge the Ten Commandments -- or "Moses' talking points" -- but hasten to add that they're not exactly "carved in stone." - from column "The Jesus Thing" ( 7 January 2004

"Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity (as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of 'kill everyone who doesn't smell bad and doesn't answer to the name Mohammed')". - from her column (at ( March 2004

"It's always so comforting when Muslims cite the precise verse from the Quran that tells them killing is wrong. Don't all empathetic human beings understand that instinctively? What if they lost their Quran that day and couldn't remember?" (Ann Coulter in "My Name Is Adolf", 9/11/2002)

"The only beef Enron employees have with top management is that management did not inform employees of the collapse in time to allow them to get in on the swindle. If Enron executives had shouted, "Head for the hills!" the employees might have had time to sucker other Americans into buying wildly over-inflated Enron stock. Just because your boss is a criminal doesn't make you a hero."

"My track record is pretty good on predictions."---Rivera Live 12/8/98

"I think [Whitewater]'s going to prevent the First Lady from running for Senate."---Rivera Live 3/12/99

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Blues

Well I wake up every morning
Right about 7:07
If the numbers don't add up to 7 or if they aren't divisible by 7
I might not go to heaven
I got the blues... I got the OCD blues
I got them from my worried mind
Right down to my symmetrical shoes

Every night before I go to bed
I make sure the doors are locked
I do it 10 or 20 times
What's that, you say you're shocked?
I got the blues... I got them OCD blues
I got them from my ragged nails
Right down to my worried shoes

I still have bags full of receipts
From 1988
I don't know when I'll need them
So I save them just in case
I got the blues... I got them OCD blues
I got them from my jam-packed closets
Right down to my shakin' shoes

Some people wash their hands
A hundred times a day
Some people just won't talk because
They're afraid of what they'll say
I got the blues... I got them OCD blues
I got them from my worried mind
Right down to my unbidden mental images of morbid things and hoarding of useless stuff and checking doorlocks/windows repeatedly and number rituals and superstitious behaviors and ceaselessly worried shoes

IQ? Does it matter in November?

In the event of a Bush win in November, I think there are enough Senate races in doubt that if the Democrats can at least gain control of the Senate, we might not have to see wacko Supreme Court nominations, drilling in the ANWR, etc. I agree that the hardcore red states are mostly a lost cause. Places like Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, for example... we all know who is going to carry those states anyway. Here are an interesting couple of paragraphs from the Washington Spectator newsletter:

"Off the radar of all pundits is a little-known, least-selling 2002 study that may very well best describe what the 2004 presidential electorate is thinking - or isn't. In "The US And The Wealth Of Nations" authors Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen conclude that, for complex reasons, the average brainpower of a nation ultimately dtermines its economic strength. The citizens of China, Japan and Korea have been shown to have a higher average IQ than Americans. The analysts' breakdown of our various states reveals the status of American minds in 2000.

"With an IQ of 100 being the average, the top seven states were: Connecticut (113), Massachusetts and New Jersey (111), New York (109), Rhode Island (107), Hawaii (106) and Maryland (105). They all voted for Gore. The bottom seven states were: Mississippi (85), Utah and Idaho (87), South Carolina and Wyoming (89), South Dakota and Oklahoma (90). They all voted for Bush."

Who knows if that is even true or not, but hey... if it is, it sure explains a lot of things.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Band Review: Chavez

I discovered this band by listening to one of their cuts on a Matador Records sampler CD set "Everything's Nice". That song was "Flight '96" from the "Ride The Fader" CD, and it totally turned me on to this band.

This music is often noisy, loud, like bombs going off... sometimes the guitars sound dissonant, and you wonder where the music is going next. Yet, all of its elements fit together perfectly. Listening to Chavez is like deep-sea diving into a world of unseen wonders. Your mind is taken into new musical places, your brain tickled by each new layer of guitar texture you hear.

Get into your car, put this in your CD player, put the top down and go for a fast drive on a sunny day. This will be your reward!


I think the "Pentagram Ring" EP CD is worth owning for the title cut alone. The overall guitar work of Matt Sweeney and Clay Tarver is swirling and dense, and every note played serves a purpose, which must be to tear your mind into various pieces. (A friend of mine described the music of My Bloody Valentine that way.) When you get it back together, you want more! (And sadly, like MBV, this band put out far too little music...)

Like their Matador labelmates Guided By Voices during the mid-90's, Chavez produced music that contains many "earworms"... that is, the musical stuff that gets in your head and stays in there for days. Some of Chavez's music is reminiscent of Guided By Voices re. the vocals, vocal harmonies and melodies, but this has a more beefed-up instrumental sound with some incredible rough-edged, churning guitar textures and solos.

If you can find this, buy it... don't miss out!


CHAVEZ put out a second full-length CD, "GONE GLIMMERING", which contains the song "Pentagram Ring". I may mention this CD in a future post... it's also very, very good.

As a matter of fact, Matador Records has an excellent artist roster, including New Pornographers, Interpol, Guided By Voices, Chavez, Liz Phair's early material, the techno/trance Burger/Ink, Khan, some of Mogwai's albums, and many others. Their catalog is worth exploring!

CD Review: Elbow - "Cast of Thousands"

This innovative band explores new territory on this album. I find the listening experience to be just as rewarding as their first CD "Asleep In The Back", but not as jarring. This is a smoother ride, and there are a couple of songs that are actually faster than mid-tempo ("Not a Job", "Fallen Angel"). The additions of a choir on two songs ("Ribcage", "Grace Under Pressure") and a brass section on "Lay Down Your Cross" create an expanded sound but doesn't seem pompous or cause the band to lose anything... rather, it creates yet another new feel. "Fugitive Motel" is a sad, beautifully arranged ballad which presses hard on the buttons of loneliness.

Besides these outstanding cuts, there are other great moments on this CD. Vocal harmonies are used to a very pleasing effect in many cuts; "Switching Off", "Crawling With Idiot" and "Whisper Grass" come to mind. While some are comparing the style of this CD to Peter Gabriel, I also find myself hearing things reminiscent of Pink Floyd, i.e. the drum and piano intro on "Whisper Grass" (this cut also contains some wonderful groaning/crying bursts of psychedelic guitar...)

I am very impressed with this band's inventiveness and willingness to try new things. "Asleep In The Back" is a great CD, so is this one. While this newer one may sound more accessible than the first one, the band does not lose much of what made their first disc great: Guy Garvey's understated, angelic voice; the lyrics which come from somewhere in the recesses of the mind and take the listener there; the rhythms and textures one will never hear on American mainstream radio; the nods to such greats as Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, and the patience and restraint exhibited in the arrangements... It's all here. Buy this CD, turn the lights down, sit back and enjoy!

Movies: "Cannibal! The Musical"

People will either love or hate this movie. If you don't like lowbrow humor with occasional blood, steer clear. If you love "bad on purpose" films, and whether you love or loathe musicals, this one is for you.

Trey Parker has taken a true and disgusting story of cannibalism in Colorado in the 1870's... and set it to music! Many potential viewers will shy away from such an odd concept, dismissing it out of hand without seeing the film. This is a shame, as they will be missing one of the best "worst" films ever.

"Cannibal!" has all the good and bad qualities of a musical, wrapped up together in a wonderfully silly, messy package. If you aren't careful, the songs are catchy enough to stay in your head for days. (Just try getting the "Trappers' Song" out of your mind once you've heard it!) The characters tend to start singing for no apparent reason, and most of the songs have a cheerful musical feel... despite their somewhat morbid or offbeat lyrics! In one scene, a recently-dead character even threatens to sing while his companions contemplate whether or not to eat him! There is choreography, in this case executed in a painfully amateurish (yet charming) manner... the "tap dance" in "Let's Build a Snowman" is not to be missed!

The acting and production has a "gee-whiz" feel, and it is very apparent that this movie was lots of fun to make. The costumes and effects, including the fake beards, fake blood/organs and fake frostbite, are hilarious. So is the fake gore in the opening sequence... simply wonderful stuff! The color on the DVD is atrocious, looking like the treatment from a 1950's color western. Through all this, it becomes apparent that Parker has an obvious love of films and of film history, as this movie satirizes many conventions of American musicals made 40-50 years ago.

While I enjoyed Parker's role as the lead character Alferd Packer, I think Matt Stone and Dian Bachar also turn in fine performances in this film. For those of you who have seen "Baseketball" and loved Bachar's role in that movie, he also shines in "Cannibal!". He has a lesser role here, but his talents are used to great advantage. Stone's role here (as a near-total doofus), is delightfully over-the-top at times...

Trey Parker seems to show a certain amount of comic genius in most things he does. This movie is no exception. There is a lot more to Parker than "South Park", and if you love his smart-ass sense of the absurd, you will love "Cannibal! The Musical"!

Books: "Holy Blood, Holy Grail"

I found this book to be highly informative but found that it read like a history text at times. What made that o.k. for me is that I know so little about the period of history from the time of Christ up until about 1400. Reading the book in little spurts here and there, I finally finished it, and while not wholly satisfied, I found it to be wonderfully mysterious and thought-provoking.

I don't believe anyone will go to hell for reading this book or for considering some of the authors' theories as actually being possible. For those of you who are the kind of believers who believe your faith becomes stronger through questioning, this will provide fodder for just such a path. For those who are skeptics or agnostics, this book will point up the fact that so little is really known today about what happened so long ago, and that "I don't know and you don't know either" could be a more accurate historical statement about the way things were 2,000 years ago than how history is portrayed in the Bible or other early historical documents.

The authors seem to tend toward what appears to be wild speculation at times, but at one point in the book, I began to think they were simply finding too many coincidences, and that it would not be unreasonable to think that some of what they posit could well be true.

If you are of the mindset that "anything is possible", the authors create a sense of wonder about a very mysterious time in our world's history. Read the book, and take some time to wonder.

SHRILL o' BILE-LY Posted by Hello

GOOD CARTOON Posted by Hello

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Friday, September 03, 2004

"The Hand Out"

a poem by Snave, arranged by Martin Klammer

Dripping with sweat
Their soiled white undershirts exposed armpits exploding with hair
Hamburger buns heated on a filthy grill
Slathered with oily liquid via basting brushes.

Our stomachs full of afternoon junk food--
red vines, candy bars and chocolates
We ate our dinner anyway.

My head was out the window
The wind icy through my hair
I puked my guts out
The pain forced a tear or two.
I heard anguished cries from those on my side of the bus.

Weeks later on the Bus of Infamy
Windows not cleaned
Food fragments glued to the window
Bits of hamburger, lettuce, licorice rope,
you name it.