Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Paris - Sonic Jihad
David Bazan - Fewer Moving Parts
Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere - Heartbreak and Duct Tape
Starflyer 59 - Leave Here a Stranger
Mustard - Eureka Grande
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Location: Illinois, United States

The peaches, apples, plums and pears are guarded by ferocious bears.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

30 September 2005

Friday Comics Blogging

29 September 2005

What's Going On?

Could someone please confirm for me that I haven't stumbled through a portal onto a parallel earth? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted on campaign finance charges and has temporarily stood down from his position. The Securities and Exchange Commission is formally investigating a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Bush's popularity is still hovering between 35 and 40. The media is starting to realize that it's impossible for Al Qaeda to have as many #2 leaders as the Bush administration claims its captured or killed. Seriously, am I going to wake up tomorrow to find this has all been a dream?

27 September 2005

Banned Books Week

So it's Banned Books Week, the American Library Association sponsored celebration of intellectual freedom. Censorship is one of my pet peeves, so I'm all about anything like this. Go hug a librarian, then check out a few of these, the most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000, and read them in front of someone who tried to keep you from doing so:

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

And while you're add it, head to Peace Fire, which you can use to disable Internet filtering software. And stop by Project Censored, which tracks the top news stories each year that don't make it through the corporate media's filters.

23 September 2005

Friday Comics Blogging

Of 13th Century Poets and Hollywood Conspiracies

A little while ago, The Daily Missive posted about the influence of the 13th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri, famous for his epic The Divine Comedy. The Daily Missive ended his post by noting:

Dante is regarded by many as the Greatest Writer of all time. Perhaps it is impossible to judge such a thing, but the great T.S. Eliot said the following: 'Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them, there is no third.'

Unfortunately Dante is forgotten in the modern art world in places like Hollywood. We still see re-makes of Shakespearean plays, but nothing of Dante. This is because Dante was an extremely devout, conservative Christian, and in today's art world that is not allowed.
Anyone who has been hanging around here for a while probably knows that I disagreed with that. I posted a comment saying:

Shakespeare was a Christian, too, and his worldview was very much a Christian one. I don't think Hollywood ignores Dante because he was a devout Christian. It probably has more to do with a perception that there wouldn't be any money in adapting his work.
In classic ping pong fashion, Missive responded by saying:

1.) You say:

"Shakespeare was a Christian, too, and his worldview was very much a Christian one."

It is true that Shakespeare was a Christian and growing up in a Christian world influenced him greatly. However, all the Shakespeare plays that get attention by the modern art world, both Hollywood and Broadway, are plays that have nothing to due with Christianity or Christian ethics. A play like Romeo and Juliet is a love story first, for instance. If Christian themes are introduced by Hollywood or Broadway in a Shakespeare re-make it is always marginalized and not given much attention.

2.) You say:

"I don't think Hollywood ignores Dante because he was a devout Christian. It probably has more to do with a perception that there wouldn't be any money in adapting his work."

I think there are more sinister mechanisms at work here, Kevin. "The Passion of The Christ" by Mel Gibson, for instance, proved that a story based on Christianity can rock the box office. It was the highest selling "R" rated movie of all time. Yet Mel Gibson could not get anyone in Hollywood to distribute his film.

Just based on "The Passion" alone any Hollywood producer or production company surely sees that there is money is making Christian movies. And Dante would be a big hit. He is still translated to this day by many academics and every time a college has a course on Dante that course fills up very quickly.
Rather than post a mile-long response to that, I thought it better to just return the serve here. Plus my browser ate my comment when I tried to post it, prompting me to swear under my breath for the rest of the day.

Anyways, not surprisingly, I disagree again, for several reasons.

First, I don't think we should dismiss the Christian themes of Romeo and Juliet. Yes, Romeo and Juliet is a love story. But many Christians read the book of Song of Songs as a metaphor for God's love for his people. I don't necessarily buy that interpretation because I think it's just a convenient way for Christians to avoid dealing with the issue of sex. But if that reading applies to an erotic love poem like Song of Songs, it surely also applies to a love story like Romeo and Juliet. Also, we can read Romeo and Juliet as a treatise against revenge, impulsive behavior, and suicide. Surely those are also Christian themes to some degree.

I also don't think it's fair to say that Hollywood, Broadway, etc., ignore Shakespeare's other plays. A quick glance at the Internet Movie Database shows that at least 69 adaptations of Shakespeare's work have been produced or are in the works since 2000. Admittedly not all have been in this country or from Hollywood's ilk. But many have. And it's quite a diverse mix, everything from Twelfth Night to Othello to A Midsummer Night's Dream to Macbeth to Hamlet to The Merchant of Venice.

But the bottom line, I think, is that the plays of Shakespeare's that are adapted are done so because they are well known. People know Romeo and Juliet. They know Macbeth and Hamlet and Julius Ceasar. Those are the plays that are read in high school and college classrooms all across the country. So it makes sense that those are the works that will be revived. And it makes sense that you'll rarely, if ever, see The Two Noble Kinsmen, Coriolanus, or Pericles, Prince of Tyre onscreen or on the stage.

Likewise, let's face facts. Dante may have been an amazing writer. He may have been an important and influential writer. But how much Dante is read today? I was an English major. I read four Shakespare plays in high school, and that wasn't in AP English courses. I took two Shakespeare courses in college, in which I read well over a dozen Shakespeare plays. I can vaguely remember reading a few brief excerpts from Dante in high school. But his work certainly wasn't studied at length. Dante didn't pop up at all in college. Perhaps that's my unique experience. But I sincerely doubt it. So if Dante isn't studied in school, if the average adult in the United States isn't familiar with Dante, why would Hollywood go out on a limb to adapt his work?

As for The Passion, yes, Gibson's movie was snubbed. But the distribution issues occurred before the film made a lot of money. Gibson's film was also a foreign language film with a largely unknown cast. Originally it was rumored that the film wouldn't even have subtitles. Gibson and Jesus may both carry a lot of moneymaking clout. But I'm not sure they carry that much. Fahrenheit 9/11 also had a very difficult time finding its way to the screen. So perhaps Hollywood is more concerned with avoiding controversy and boycotts? If so, again, we're not really dealing with a bias against Christianity. We're dealing with investors who want large return and little risk.

There's a danger, I think, in assuming that there's some conspiracy to hold Christians down. Do some people not like Christians? Absolutely, just like there are some people who don't like Jews, gays, women, Mexicans, and so on. But I don't think there's some sinister plot to keep Christians down. That seems not only unfounded, but also a bit narcissistic.


All right, so I'm posting again after a bit of a hiatus. I'm hanging out in Tennessee, staying with my mom and stepdad, missing my wife, completing a freelance assignment, and reading a lot. Tonight I'm going to see The High Score and Senryu, two bands whose stuff you should purchase immediately, if not sooner.

In the meantime, Frankie left a comment to which I've been meaning to reply. Part of me feels like it's a little pointless now, given that there's a new hurricane to worry about, one which is touching the lives of a few people who I know (including Stephanie, whose mom is, last I heard, still in Houston, and who would probably appreciate your prayers, if you're the sort of person who does that). But Frankie bothered to leave a lengthy comment and I've neglected responding for long enough, so the least I can do is address his concerns.

While I certainly don't agree with Bush on the war or many other issues, I'm not sure I understand why Bush is to blame for the whole situation in New Orleans. A cursory reading of the news seems to indicate that he declared a state of emergency the day before the levee broke. The problem was that federal assistance can't be used unless the state authorizes it. If Bush chose to send troops in without the State's consent, that would be considered illegal. The governor refused to authorize it until after the levee broke & New Orleans was flooded. While some of the funds were diverted for a war I don't agree with, it also seems that the money Louisiana did receive was misused & not spent on storm preparation.

I don't believe I've ever suggested that Bush is to blame for the whole situation in New Orleans. I think he deserves blame for a lot of things that have to do with Katrina. But I certainly think there are plenty of local and state leaders who didn't have their shit together. That goes without saying, or it should.

That said, I don't know if I agree with that cursory reading of the news. A non-partisan Congressional report has found that "...it would appear that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. (p.11)" If Louisiana did what was necessary, the question becomes where were the requested funds and why weren't they delivered in time?

Furthermore, if those who are blaming the governor of Louisiana, particularly Republicans, are so convinced of this, then why did 54 Republicans in the Senate kill Sen. Hillary Clinton's attempts to establish an independent, bipartisan panel to investigate what went wrong? Furthermore, Bush is the man who nominated Michael Brown to the head of FEMA, a man whose resume was filled with lies and who was not in any way qualified for the position. That also makes Bush very culpable for the pisspoor federal response. And that's ignoring Bush failing to return from vacation, and his refusal to curtail Iraq spending or tax cuts for the wealthy to help repair the destruction.

I almost deleted the two following questions from this post as I do not intend to sound sarcastic or offend you Kevin. I chose to leave them as I think they bring out a valid point. They are not intended to offend in anyway:

1. Will you also be posting cartoons depicting human suffering & blaming local & state officials who squandered the money & failed to accept federal assistance until it was too late?
2. What about cartoons depicting murders & rapists running around the streets while police officers drive their city-issued cars to other states?

No offense taken. I'm quite the smartass, and I'm prepared to take what I dish out. I haven't seen any cartoons blaming local and state officials or any depicting police officers leaving the state.

Like you, I do not agree with much that the current administration does, but that doesn't mean it is to blame for all the problems in New Orleans as well. There were breakdowns on every level. It seems that maybe your frustration with the Bush administration is tinting the way you are viewing the New Orleans issue. If I am wrong, please let me know. Maybe I'm missing something here! And please do not take offense at this comment as that is certainly not the intent.

As I've already said, I do think there were breakdowns on every level. But I think this is a failure of leadership from the top down. As I've noted already, this proves that, despite four years of preparation for another round of terrorist attacks, this President does not have his shit together. He has told us over and over that he would, and that he would keep us safe. Now we have confirmation that his words are empty and hollow.

On the brighter side, I'm really encouraged by all the reports coming out about Kingdom people assisting those who have been displaced!

Me too. Thanks for stopping by, Frankie.

18 September 2005

Out Like A Fat Kid In Dodge Ball (Again)

So I'm in Tennessee for a couple of weeks. I might be updating. I might not. I'm not sure. Depends on if I can successfully get around the evils of dial up. Responses to comments may also take a while. Welcome to the two or three new people who have been hanging out here lately. You know who you are. Argue amongst yourselves until I return. Or whatever it is you crazy kids do.

17 September 2005

Saturday Comics Blogging

Cleaning out my Katrina closet...

11 September 2005

Four Years Later

You can probably remember a few years ago when professional wrestling was incredibly popular (I mean the WWE and NWA-TNA style wrestling, not the fake college stuff). Back then wrestling was becoming a prime time phenomenon, with a new emphasis on soap opera storylines, extreme violence, and plenty of T & A thrown in for good measure. During that time the WWF (now known as the WWE) was getting a lot of criticism, sparked in part by a death or two caused by children acting out what they saw (exactly where their parents were each week remains a mystery).

Anyways, at some point during that time period ESPN did an hour-long piece looking into the controversy. It was an incredibly one-sided bit of interviews which criticised the wrestling industry for its excesses. But ESPN failed to disclose something to its viewers, namely that ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney. You may be thinking, "So what?" Well, at the time WWE Raw and WCW Monday Nitro were giving ABC's Monday Night Football one hell of a run for its money in both ratings and advertising dollars. In other words, ESPN's one-sided "journalism" probably had little to do with informing you and a lot to do with trying to piss you off in order to revive Monday Night Football's falling ratings.

That's what journalism has become in this country. Don't get me wrong, ESPN isn't exactly a bastion of journalistic prowess. So let's take things a little closer to home. General Electric, for example, owns NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC, which makes up a lot of the nightly news that we see in this country. General Electric also happens to do a lot of work with industrial systems, aircraft engines, power systems, plastics, transportation systems, and the like. General Electric is making a lot of money off the current occupation in Iraq. You cannot separate those things from each other. General Electric has a tremendous financial interest in our military remaining in Iraq. So why is it that we should trust what General Electric-owned news outlets have to say about the war in Iraq? These networks have a vested financial interest in colouring the news in ways that will increase its bottom line. Is that paranoid? Perhaps a bit. But money, not love, is what makes the world go 'round.

I say all that to say this: in the past four years, the news media in this country has failed us time and time again. Since September 11 a combination of a many things, including blind patriotism, careerism, and sheer greed, has sidetracked the corporate news industry from doing its job. Though the tide has been turning in the past year or so, it is still rare that we hear alternative voices from outside the U.S. news bubble. It's one reason that I find blogs, foreign news, and alternative media sources so important. When news is propaganda, we owe it to ourselves to turn elsewhere in finding out what's going on in the world.

On the anniversary of 9/11, I feel it's important, more than ever, not to be self-absorbed Americans. Was it terrible that 3,000 people lost their lives four years ago? Absolutely. But this is a drop in the bucket compared to what goes on in other countries every day, whether it be in Africa or the Middle East. The news media here rarely gives us those voices. But those are the voices we need to hear.

Riverbend from Baghdad Burning is one of my favourite bloggers. She's a 20-something woman from Iraq living in Baghdad. Her voice is desperately needed in this country to help us cut through the bullshit and remember that we are killing real people, innocent people, in Iraq every day. Our tax dollars are on the bombs and bullets killing Iraqis. And we should remember that every single day.

The following is Riverbend's take on the anniversary of September 11:

“What is it?” I asked, looking at the screen. The images were chaotic. It was a big city, there was smoke or dust and people running across the screen, some screaming, others crying and the rest with astounded looks on their faces. They looked slightly like E., my brother, as he stood staring at the television, gaping. There was someone speaking in the background- in English- and there was a voiceover in Arabic. I can’t remember what was being said; the images on the tv screen are all I remember. Confusion. Havoc.

And then they showed it again. The Twin Towers- New York… a small something came flying out of the side of the screen and it crashed into one of them. I gasped audibly and E. just shook his head, “That’s nothing… wait…” I made my way towards the couch while keeping my eyes locked on the television. There was some more chaos, shocked expressions, another plane and the towers- they began to crumble. They began to fall. They disappeared into an enormous fog of smoke and dust.

I sucked in my breath and I couldn’t exhale that moment. I just sat there- paralyzed-watching the screen. A part of me was saying, “It’s a joke. It’s Hollywood.” But it was just too real. The fear was too genuine. The incoherent voices in the background were too tinged with confusion and terror.

The silence in the living room was broken with the clatter of the remote control on the floor. It had slipped out of E.’s fingers and I jumped nervously, watching the batteries from the remote roll away on the ground.

“But… who? How? What was it? A plane? How???”

E. shook his head and looked at me in awe. We continued watching the television, looking for answers to dozens of questions. Within the hour we had learned that it wasn’t some horrid mistake or miscalculation. It was intentional. It was a major act of terror.

Al-Qaeda was just a vague name back then. Iraqis were concerned with their own problems and fears. We were coping with the sanctions and the fact that life seemed to stand still every few years for an American air raid. We didn’t have the problem of Muslim fundamentalists- that was a concern for neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

I remember almost immediately, Western media began conjecturing on which Islamic group it could have been. I remember hoping it wasn’t Muslims or Arabs. I remember feeling that way not just because of the thousands of victims, but because I sensed that we’d suffer in Iraq. We’d be made to suffer for something we weren’t responsible for.

E. looked at me wide-eyed that day and asked the inevitable question, “How long do you think before they bomb us?”

“But it wasn’t us. It can’t be us…” I rationalized.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s all they need.”

And it was true. It began with Afghanistan and then it was Iraq. We began preparing for it almost immediately. The price of the dollar rose as people began stocking up on flour, rice, sugar and other commodities.

For several weeks it was all anyone could talk about. We discussed it in schools and universities. We talked about it in work places and restaurants. The attitudes differed. There was never joy or happiness, but in several cases there was a sort of grim satisfaction. Some Iraqis believed that America had brought this upon itself. This is what you get when you meddle in world affairs. This is what you get when starve populations. This is what you get when you give unabashed support to occupying countries like Israel, and corrupt tyrants like the Saudi royals.

Most Iraqis, though, felt pity. The images for the next weeks of Americans running in terror, of the frantic searches under the rubble for relatives and friends left us shaking our heads in empathy. The destruction was all too familiar. The reports of Americans fearing the sound of airplanes had us nodding our heads with understanding and a sort of familiarity- you’d want to reach out to one of them and say, “It’s ok- the fear eventually subsides. We know how it is- your government does this (to us) every few years.”

It has been four years today. How does it feel four years later?
For the 3,000 victims in America, more than 100,000 have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands of others are being detained for interrogation and torture. Our homes have been raided, our cities are constantly being bombed and Iraq has fallen back decades, and for several years to come we will suffer under the influence of the extremism we didn't know prior to the war.

As I write this, Tel Afar, a small place north of Mosul, is being bombed. Dozens of people are going to be buried under their homes in the dead of the night. Their water and electricity have been cut off for days. It doesn’t seem to matter much though because they don’t live in a wonderful skyscraper in a glamorous city. They are, quite simply, farmers and herders not worth a second thought.

Four years later and the War on Terror (or is it the War of Terror?) has been won:

Al-Qaeda – 3,000
America – 100,000+


10 September 2005

Saturday Comics Blogging

09 September 2005

Katrina Notes

There are a couple of more things about Katrina worth noting. The first is that it appears that President Bush has issued an executive order to suspend the minimum wage in the recovery area. Sounds mighty suspicious to me.

The second is that the FEMA is doing all it can to block reporters from taking photos of those killed by the hurricane. Supposedly they want to show respect for the dead, but it's more likely they're covering their asses after such colossal failure. Most likely the media will comply because U.S. journalists generally do not have spines. Fortunately Americablog has hired a correspondent. You can read his dispatches there. Or check out What Really Happened for a small gallery. (There are some dead bodies, nothing particularly graphic, but if that's the sort of thing bothers you, you might want to pass.)

08 September 2005

Relief Auction

Pedro the Lion/Headphones/Soft Drugs members David Bazan and TW Walsh have an auction up to help raise money for those affected by Katrina. All proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. The bidding is for a whole stash of Pedro The Lion, Headphones and TW Walsh CDs, LPs, posters, and other promotional items. David Bazan and TW Walsh will even autograph the items for you if you come out on top. Bidding started at $100.

You’ll get these items:

Pedro The Lion - It's Hard To Find A Friend - CD
Pedro The Lion - The Only Reason I Feel Secure - CD
Pedro The Lion - Progress - CD
Pedro The Lion - Winners Never Quit - CD
Pedro The Lion - Control - CD
Pedro The Lion - Achilles Heel - CD
Pedro The Lion - Christmas 2003 7" single
Headphones - CD
Headphones - LP
Headphones - t-shirt
Pedro The Lion - t-shirt
Pedro The Lion - Tour Poster Winter 2004
Pedro The Lion - Tour Poster Spring 2003
TW Walsh - Blue Laws - CD
TW Walsh - How We Spend Our Days - CD
Winners Never Quit - layout press sheet, unfolded poster
Control - layout press sheet, poster press sheet
Achilles Heel - layout press sheet, unfolded poster

Go bid. It's for a good cause and you'll get hours of amazing music.

07 September 2005

Compassionate Conservatism

Every once in a while I'll read something that at first glance appears to be brilliant satire. Then I'll realise that, no, the writer actually believes that. Today I came across Shipwrecks, a blog that brings us "news & views through red-tinted lenses."

Yeah, that's an understatement. Chew on this for a while. Then, if you think he's as off the mark as I do, be sure to head over to his site and raise his blood pressure a bit with your "woolly headed liberal" thinking:

What you may not realize, is that this country has allowed a vast number of Spanish speakers to live here, legally, and illegally. Most do not speak English, or speak it poorly. To accommodate this influx, we have to adapt to using their language. That's right, we are adapting. We pay for putting signs up in Spanish, we pay for translators, we pay for Spanish speaking customer service. It does not benefit us as English speakers does it? Remember this is an English speaking country. Immigrants are welcomed here, but it is not for us to be assimilated into their language or culture. They should learn English. They must learn English. It is utter stupidity for us to pamper a minority that has no wish to become American.

How far would you get in Mexico without speaking Spanish? Not far outside the tourist resorts, and the Mexicans aren't going to go out of their way to accommodate your love of English. It's their country anyway, so they can do as they please. So what's wrong with this country encouraging immigrants to speak our language, and not accommodating their languages? They come of their own free will, if they don't realize we speak another language here, then they are dumber than dumb.

What we have developing is not a bi-lingual minority, it is a mono-lingual minority. To communicate with them, we must speak Spanish. No big deal say our liberal friends. But is it fair for us to learn and speak a foreign language, and Spanish is foreign in the majority of States, when these foreigners make little attempt to learn and speak English. Fair's fair.

Now it's not as if we go out of our way to cater to other immigrant languages, Spanish has played winner takes all. If you are still with me, maybe you might realize one big thing: Spanish is not going to fade away. It is getting stronger, as the Hispanic community becomes larger and larger. The larger the Hispanic community is, the more arrogant it will become in demanding the side by side use of Spanish and English. Everything will have to be translated, just for their benefit, not yours. Maybe it will go further than that. Maybe in the near future some cities as they become majority Hispanic, they will cease to use English at all. Now wouldn't that be nice.
The comments section is pretty scary, too. Notes NYGirl:

Isn't it crazy, most comapnies also have to create seperate Spanish speaking positions to accomodate these things.

Those who refuse to assimilate should have their visa revoked. There should be a mandatory english test after two years in the country & those who fail should be deported.
God, it's such a burden being white and priviliged.

06 September 2005

Help Is On The Way

This story pretty much says it all. Disgraceful. (Hat tip: Americablog):

A trio of Duke University sophomores say they drove to New Orleans late last week, posed as journalists to slip inside the hurricane-soaked city twice, and evacuated seven people who weren't receiving help from authorities.

The group, led by South Carolina native Sonny Byrd, say they also managed to drive all the way to the New Orleans Convention Center, where they encountered scenes early Saturday evening that they say were disgraceful.

"We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai," said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla....

At 2 p.m., the trio decided to head for New Orleans, Buder said. After looking around, they swiped an Associated Press identification and one of the TV station's crew shirts, and found a Kinko's where they could make copies of the ID.

They were stopped again by authorities at the edge of New Orleans, but this time were able to make it through.

"We waved the press pass, and they looked at each other, the two guards, and waved us on in," Buder said....

"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."

A Pale Horse

I’ve been putting off expressing my outrage over our government’s failure in responding to Hurricane Katrina because, frankly, what can you say about these things?

What can you say when your president rushes to tackle a tragedy like September 11 (well, after he’s come out of hiding) but can’t be bothered to return from his vacation until two days after what is perhaps the biggest disaster on U.S. soil in modern history? Or when he makes jokes about rebuilding Senator Trent Lott's house?
What can you say when the Vice President can’t be bothered to return from his vacation at all? Or when Congress intervenes on behalf of a comatose woman in a single day, yet it takes them five to intervene on behalf of the dying in Louisiana? Or when federal dollars that should have gone to prepare New Orleans for a disaster just such as this are instead diverted for the quagmire Iraq? Or when the White House resorts to talking points like "we're not going to engage in the blame game" to deflect the growing public anger?

What can you say when FEMA, the federal organisation designed to combat such disasters: won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations, turns away experienced firefighters, turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks, prevents the Coast Guard from delivering fuel, won't let the Red Cross deliver food, blocks a 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid, fails to utilise a Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board, tells Chicago to only send one relief truck, turns away generators, and tells first responders not to, well, respond? And what do you say when FEMA officials cut off emergency phone lines in New Orleans?

What can you say when a subsidiary of Halliburton is given a $500 million contract to clean up the damage?

What can you say when Barbara Bush says of the hurricane's victims, “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them”? What can you say when Bush promises to lead an inquiry into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled, when he did everything possible to stonewall an investigation into the failures of September 11? What can you say when middle class white people cry because the price of gas is going up while the body count climbs to the tens of thousands? What can you say when the head of FEMA blames the people who stayed for their situation, despite many of them being disabled, hospitalised, or having no cars with which to evacuate?

All I know is that if this is the kind of response they give to a disaster they know is coming, after four years of preparing for more terrorist attacks, we're pretty much fucked when the real thing happens again.

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03 September 2005

Saturday Comics Blogging

01 September 2005

The War Between The Sun And The Moon

Stephanie wanted me to elaborate on the Larry Norman quote I posted, and about exactly who the fellow is. The short answer, as Dan pointed out in the comments, is that Norman is the so-called "grandfather of Christian Rock Music." He was one of the very first musicians, if not the first, to begin combining rock music with lyrics about Jesus. At the moment, as Kanye West has proven, there's nothing all that special about that. Everybody is doing it, and has been for quite some time. Music about Jesus is now very popular. It's also, if you see it that way (and I do), a cash machine, propaganda for the gospel, and about as far from real art as you can get. (Which isn't to say that what they're playing on mainstream radio isn't at least two of those things, but that's a whole other rant.)

Anyways, because of that it's easy to forget how revolutionary Norman was in his heyday. And, in fact, he's still pretty revolutionary in a lot of ways. Back in the 50s and 60s when Norman started doing his thing, rock and roll was still a pretty new thing. A lot of churches weren't too happy about the music. And they were probably even less happy about gospel songs being set to those wicked jungle beats. Norman felt differently, that Elvis had stolen this music from the black church. And he planned on stealing it right back.

What Norman started was pretty interesting. Unlike the DC Talks and Steven Curtis Chapman's of the world, his songs were about a hell of a lot more than Jesus. He sang about his broken marriage, sex, politics, war, poverty, the environment, and the sorry state of popular music. He sang about love and loss, hope and despair. His songs were clever, witty, and complex both lyrically and musically. CCM still doesn't understand or know how to do those things.

Perhaps because his songs were actually good, he made quite an influence, even if it's mostly been under the radar. Notes the bio on his web site:

He has sung in small clubs like New York’s Bitter End, and L.A.’s Troubadour, and also given concerts at The San Francisco Pop Festival and other outdoor festivals with crowds of up to 180,000. He has performed for The White House, twice - and in direct contrast, in Moscow at the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. He has headlined at venues like The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, which he has sold out six times; once filling it twice on the same day. Only recently has he slowed down....In the 70’s Billboard Magazine called him “the most important writer since Paul Simon.” To the church, in the early years, these accolades only deepened their doubts about him. He was banned in most Bible bookstores. But in later years he began to gain wider acceptance.

His recording ministry started in 1966 when he was offered a contract by Capitol Records and found himself on the same label as The Beatles and The Beach Boys...Larry and his band People! opened for secular groups like The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Janis Joplin, The Byrds and many others. Larry was outspoken about his beliefs. His music was original and thought-provoking. Pete Townshend credited Larry's own rock-opera, The Epic, for inspiring the rock-opera, Tommy, recorded by The Who. Larry has had over three hundred cover records of his songs by other groups, including recordings by non-gospel artists like Sammy Davis, Jr. and Petula Clark. Later, even Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Frank Black, the group U2, and Van Morrison have called themselves fans.
The important thing about Norman for me is how much he taught me about real Christianity at a time when I wasn't hearing it at church. Sure, I've got a few bones to pick with him. Norman's song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" is hugely responsible for the rabid, rapture-hungry Left Behind mindset that pervades this country today. But Norman also taught me to care about poverty, about peace, about the protection of the environment, things I hadn't heard in church in 19 years of going there.

Norman is still alive, still making music, though his health is pretty bad these days. Recently he played what may have been his last show in the U.S. And he still releases albums, though most are regurgitated collections of songs and alternate releases. But anyways, that's probably all you cared to know. I'll leave you with a few great Larry Norman lines...

Bankers and controllers make deals on foreign shores/ And the CIA ships heroin to finance their secret wars/ They sell the madmen weapons then send soldiers to their land/ And in the name of God we battle for all the oil under the sand. -- Step Into the Madness

You killed a black man at midnight just for talking to your daughter/ And you make his wife your mistress and you leave her without water/ And the sheet you wear upon your face is the sheet your children sleep on/ At every meal you say a prayer youy don't believe but still you keep on. -- The Great American Novel

I don't believe the papacy where the fallible lies are told/ If they really want to help the poor they should sell some of their gold. --God Part III

'Cause I've been in your churches and sat in your pews/
And heard sermons on just how much money you'll need for the year/
And I've heard you make reference to Mexicans, Chinamen, N*ggers and Jews/
And I gather you wish we would all disappear/
And you call yourselves Christians when really you're not/
You're living your life as you please/
If you're really a Christian, then put down yourself/
And follow wherever God leads
-- Right Here In America

With the continents adrift and the sun about to shift/ Will the ice caps drown us all or will we burn?/ We've polluted what we own will we reap what we have sown?/ Are we headed for the end or can we turn?/ We've paved the forest killed the streams/ Burned the bridges to our dreams/ The earth is bursting at the seams/ And in pain of childbirth screams/ As it gives life to what seems/ To either be an age that gleams/ Or simply lays there dying/ If this goes on will life survive how can it?/ Out of the grave oh who will save our planet? -- Nightmare #71