This American Life – LIVE

Tomorrow night This American Life, public radio show turned Showtime series, is hosting a live event that will be simulcast into movie theaters across the country – much like the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts their Live in HD series. I’m not 100% sure of what to expect, but I know it will be entertaining!

I realize I may be one of the few people in this area that is actually excited about this event. My wonderful wife, who has never even listened to the program, surprisingly agreed to go with me without so much as a flinch. I bought our tickets in advance over a week ago. But I still fear a repeat of our U23D experience – being the only two people in the theater…

I guess you know where I will be tomorrow!

Conservatively Liberal

I listened to an interview this morning with John Moe, the author of Conservatize Me; A Lifelong Lefty’s Attempt to Love God, Guns, Reagan, and Toby Keith – which of course made want to rush out & buy the book immediately!

But it also made me wonder; what am I? Synonyms for “liberal” include open-minded and broad-minded. I like to think of myself as being very open minded. But maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m just as closed minded as everyone else, just centered in a different school of thought. I have very little patience or tolerance when it comes to ideas that I don’t prescribe to. Which by definition would be very closed minded, wouldn’t it? As an example, I believe that gay people and couples should have the same rights and privileges that I, a straight white dude, enjoy. But if you disagree or think differently, I think you’re just dead wrong, homophobic & closed-minded. I don’t want to hear your argument. You’re not going to change my mind anyway… How closed-minded can I be?

According to WordNet, a Liberal is: “1. a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties [ant: conservative] 2. a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets. Progress? Reform? Civil Liberties? You bet your ass I’m a Liberal! But I’m not even going to pretend that I understand self-regulating markets, or economic theory in general for that matter. But, in big broad general terms, as many understand it, there are many things about me that most people would consider pretty darn conservative. So, in general, I am capable of contradicting myself.

But then again, maybe we all are. Perhaps both schools of thought have been so diluted that we all kind of blend and mingle into one. Take the presidential candidates for example; McCain considered switching to Democrat a while back and many of his ideas contradict and even anger some of the more staunch Republicans. Obama made these statements, “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America” and “We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.”

Maybe I’m just sick and tired of labels and brands and people trying to squeeze my beliefs, ideals, religion, and politics into too small of a box.

Maybe I’m tired of the walls and barriers that divide us and keep us from being a unified, cohesive nation – and world.

Or maybe I’m just me. Conservatively liberal me.

Embarrassed Montana

She\'s embarrassed by Leibovitz pictures but not by Hannah Montana? Seriously?

#1: When Annie Leibovitz is taking your picture, and asks you to take your clothes off, what exactly do you expect?

#2: By causing a ruckus & exclaiming embarrassment, you are only bringing more attention to the photos than there would’ve been otherwise. Or maybe that was their plan… hmmmmm…

#3: I realize that I am a terrible person, and I am certainly not the Cyrus family’s target audience, but I for one am much more offended by their utter lack of acting talent than by these pictures.

Friday Five – Nation Songs

This week we’re going international with songs that reference the names of specific Nations in the title. So without further ado;

Back in the U.S.S.R. – The Beatles, (Nations that are now defunct still count!)

Mexican radio – Wall of Voodoo, (while memories of Night Tracks come rushing back.)

The Flowers of Guatemala – R.E.M., (A fantastic song from Life’s Rich Pageant – one of my favorite of their albums.)

France – Keb’ Mo’, (The video is pretty bad – but the song is fun!)

Coming to America – Neil Diamond, (I am forever doomed to remember “Saving Silverman” every time I hear Neil Diamond.)

And I want to apologize – but I had to include this one; it’s Monty Python with a moving tribute to Finland

What’s on the iPod?

The New Pornographers – Live from SoHo

The New Pornographers have released a live album, available exclusively from iTunes, that was recorded at the Apple Store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in December of 2007. TNP was a bit of an acquired taste for me. I had been a Neko Case fan for a few years when a friend gave me copies of Challengers (2007) and Mass Romantic (2000). I can’t say I loved them at first listen. There were a few catchy songs, but nothing that really reached out and grabbed me. Three or four listens later though, and I couldn’t get many of the songs out of my head. Which, not coincidentally, has been true of some of my favorite artists (like PJ Harvey).

TNP is hard to categorize. They are an eclectic group made up of seven, sometimes eight, members of other bands, kind of like an indie super group of sorts. The most recognizable names in the group are alt country sweetheart Neko Case and Destoyer front man Dan Bejar. Together they make some really odd power pop music, which doesn’t sound like it would be very good, but it is! It really really is!

I have to admit, some of the songs are actually better and more enjoyable in the live set than they are on the studio albums, especially All the Old Showstoppers. And one of the standout tracks has to be their cover of ELO’s “rock and roll classic” Don’t Bring Me Down, which you can see from their appearance on French TV HERE (sans the lovely Ms. Case unfortunately).

Overall, it’s a very good live album. Well produced & the sound quality is great. My only complaint is that it’s too short, just eleven tracks, with a few obvious deletions. (No Myriad Harbour ? Seriously?) But that’s alright. It’s still totally worth the download!

Monday Miscellany

Cashing In

It cracks me up sometimes to what extremes people will go to make a buck on pretty much anything – even Pope Visit 2008!

The Unasked Question

The people on pharmaceutical commercials just keep telling consumers to ask their doctors a very important question. A question that I’m pretty sure nobody has ever asked a doctor… ever. But I could be wrong.

“Before taking (unnamed product), ask your doctor if you’re healthy enough for sexual activity.”

Keep On Shakin’

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, as of right now we have experienced 22 aftershocks since Friday’s earthquake. Most of which were too small to notice this far away. It’s just an amazing phenomenon that has our region captivated – and Californians laughing hysterically at us.

Shake & Bake

When the 4.0 gave us a shake in the wee hours this morning, I said, “You think maybe we should get in a doorway or something.” To which my wife responded, “I think you’re a little late.” Oh well. Better late than never, right?

Car Shopping

We spent Saturday, as we have spent several days over the last month or so, shopping around for a new car. Both of our vehicles are paid off and the SUV is just starting to wear out. I drive my truck more often, around 60 miles a day, it’s also a year older, but for whatever reason, it’s holding up much better than the buggy (that’s how we refer to it). So we’ve been shopping. And I hate car shopping. Or more specifically, I hate car salesmen.

It’s a little harder this time because, for the first time, we don’t really know what we want. Always before we’ve had a clear idea of the exact vehicle we were after. This time has been mostly shopping around, giving everyone an equal chance to earn our business. It has been a learning experience. But now I want very much for it to be over & done with. I’m just ready to sign something & drive something home. The wife is much more patient with that kind of stuff than me, so I’m more than happy to let her do most of the talking. In fact, I noticed Saturday that every time a salesperson asks a question, I just turn my head & look at her with this goofy, “what should I say” look on my face. A look that, I’m sure she would agree, she has seen hundreds of thousands of times in our ten years together.

Friday Five – Shake That Thing

At around 4:40am this morning my wife & I were awakened by the rattle of windows & wall hangings around our bed. At first we thought it might just be a strong gust of wind. Turns out our area was hit with the strongest earthquake we’ve had in decades. It was a 5.2 magnitude quake centered in West Salem, IL – which is only around 65-70 miles north-east of us.

We saw no damage or anything this morning. Our cat slept through it & our dog didn’t start howling until it was over. (So much for animals warning you before it hits!) So, as far as I know, we’re all ok.

But instead of following Art’s lead as usual, my Friday Five today is inspired by the quake! Art’s was too hard this morning anyway! ;)

All Shook UpElvis Presley, you knew that one was coming, right?

ShakeOtis Redding, I love this song with all my heart. There’s nothing like a little Otis to get you going in the morning.

I Feel The Earth MoveCarole King, another obvious choice. My lovely wife likes Carole King – so this one is for her.

New MadridUncle Tupelo, I know this quake wasn’t on the New Madrid Fault, but it’s still a good reference! (Thanks to Neal who put that one in my head this morning!)

And for good measure:

If that don’t make you bob your head, nothing will!

(Sorry Willie, I couldn’t find a decent link for Delbert McClinton’s Standing on Shaky Ground!)

Games for Non-Gamers

This game has been kicking my butt for three days so far this week! It’s just a simple on-line flash game where you have to move a small shape, usually a circle, across the screen to a flag by drawing 2-D shapes which obey the laws of physics in the fewest number of shapes. It is problem solving at its most frustrating – yet somehow fist-pumpingly gratifying when it works. It’s a lot like Crayon Physics if you’ve ever played that. But I like the fact that this is just a little flash game – nothing to install that will bog your computer down, just a cookie that remembers your scores.

Three lunch periods and five breaks later, I’ve finally got each level down to single-digits, most in 4 or less. Now my mouse-hand hurts…

Warning: if you enjoy problem solving, this thing is like on-line crack! Instantly addictive. Play at your own risk.

Plugged-In Papacy

I heard a story on the news this morning about Benedict XVI’s first US visit since being named Pope. They said that he is truly the first 21st Century Pope because he has 4 email addresses & an iPod. (Pretty good qualifications I guess.) But it made me wonder; What’s on the Pope’s iPod? (I know, they said it was loaded with classical music & programs from the radio station that gave it to him, but I’m pretty sure we can come up with a much better playlist, can’t we?)

Thanks to David Gibson’s Beliefnet Blog, “Benedictions” for the picture.

  • Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
  • Old Crow Medicine Show – Fall on my Knees
  • Mike & the Mechanics – All I need is a Miracle
  • George Michael – Faith
  • Journey – Open Arms

Help me out!