Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Check out this video of Amiina performing on a TV show in Iceland. This quartet opened for Sigur Ros when they came through a couple years ago. They were amazing, but I forgot to look into them until I just ran across a record on emusic. I've bought that record and am beginning an obsession.

The show's a full half hour and worth watching, but even just the song that opens it will give you an idea.

Obama on Iran

This is the strongest language I've heard from the White House on what's going on in Iran. And still, not a glimpse of or a word from Ahmadinejad.

Here's today's editorial from the NY Times.

Monday, December 28, 2009

RIP Vic Chesnutt

The news that Vic Chesnutt died over the weekend was a solid blow to the gut and a terrible loss for American music. His was one of the most original, sincere, and prolific voices out there, and we will miss his valuable contributions.

I've been struggling with what to say or write about this. Mostly, I've been listening. Going back through his albums, lying on the floor with The Salesman and Bernadette and staring at the ceiling dumbfounded over his wealth of even cast-off material. Drunk, Little, West of Rome, all amazing. Even his oddball collaborations--with the duo Keneipps and jamband icons Widespread Panic--carried weight.

I saw Chesnutt play only once, at the Cactus Cafe in Austin in 1998. The small room was packed and hung on every note and word. I remember particularly his turn through "Maiden"and its long, thoughtful pauses, the impressive vocal range, and the leaning toward insightful self-deprecation that attached him to his crowd as by blood "I'm a sorry, sorry knight in a horrible castle / hoping to avoid certain societal hassles." Chesnutt was gracious and mesmerizing, using the force of every strum and breath to its full potential.

Plenty will be written about this diminutive and injured man who was also one of the best songwriters of his generation. So I'll focus on his music, this week on Range Life. Tune in Wednesday from 5 to 7 mountain time and I'll play a bunch of it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sounds of Nightfall in Tehran

This is absolutely chilling, and impossible to hear without getting a bit choked up. As Andrew Sullivan said, "The cries of freedom. They bring tears to my eyes and hope to my soul. The sound: it makes every human stop in their tracks and demand that this vicious oppression end."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Special Year-End Range Life!

Tune in Friday afternoon to www.radioboise.org for the special edition Range Life Best of 2009 broadcast, wherein DJ CHess counts down the best music to come across my windscreen for the whole year.

I've got some great stuff to play for you, reaching way on back to January and all the way up to last week or so. The best albums, the biggest surprises, the overhyped and overlooked, anything notable from the year is fair game.

Join me for the countdown, 1 to 3 pm mountain time on www.radioboise.org.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Franken v Thune

This, I imagine, is typical of health care reform debate. Go Al!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reckoning for the Right

When it turns out there are no death panels, when there is no bureaucrat between you and your doctor, when the ways your health care changes seem like a good deal to you, and a pretty smart idea, when the American public sees the discrepancy between what really is, and what they were told by the Republicans, there will be a reckoning. There will come a day of judgment about who was telling the truth.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, from the Senate floor.

Dissent Marches On

Foreign media have been banned from covering any activities by opposition groups in Iran, so with a few exceptions we've sort of lost touch with what's gone on there since the post-election crackdown.

Tens of thousands of people, including major opposition figured like Moussavi, flocked to Qum for the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the "plain-spoken senior Shiite cleric and founding father of the Islamic revolution who became a fierce critic of the country’s hard-line rulers."

He said that Khameini had lost his legitimacy. Per the NY Times, he said that "the Basij militia — which has brutally suppressed opposition street rallies — was forsaking the 'path of God' for the 'path of Satan.'"

Protests will continue and we can only expect that confrontation will escalate. What's happening in Iran is not over.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Diluted Reform Is Better Than Nothing?

There's good sense in what Krugman's saying in today's NY Times. I'm as hacked off as anyone at the impotence of the Democratic majority in Congress, and particularly at the Liebermans of the world who are all about themselves the insurance companies they protect.

But the bill as it stands wouldn't be totally useless.

At its core, the bill would do two things. First, it would prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.

It'd feel wrong to give in and pass the crap bill that's made it to this point. But, I think Krugman's right, that we won't have a chance to get something even this good for who knows how many years, and that's unacceptable, having come this far.

So, let's hold our noses and pass the best bill we can and then work to improve it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2009, Extended Version

The depth to which a piece of music hits, or matters, in any given year is not only an effect of the quality of the music. The year itself is part of it. And not only the cultural climate or political landscape. I'm talking about the events in your life, the sh*t that happens.

Make no mistake: I'm not prefacing this year's offerings with excuses. Some great music came out this year, from beginning to end, from January's Merriweather Post Pavilion to November's debut from Real Estate. I'm just saying that the things that really stood out this year might not have dug so deep in another year.

Hospice, by Brooklyn band The Antlers, grabbed hold of my brain and would not let go. The reasons might be obvious, but the music is anything but. It's a wrenching account of hours spent in a hospital, days, helpless, watching the inevitable have its way. Meticulously wrought, sung in a quaver and a wail, sometimes textbook quiet-loud-quiet, sometimes staggeringly insightful and disarmingly gorgeous, the record is bursting with moments of overwhelming emotion and beauty. Tracks "Two" and "Kettering" still stop me cold, every time.

And this sentiment travels on through the list. The deeper, the more complex, the greater the effort required, the fewer easy answers, the better. Not too many straight-up rawk records this year. Because it wasn't that kind of year, for me.

So without further delay...

Top 10 Albums of 2009
  1. The Antlers ~ Hospice
  2. Grizzly Bear ~ Veckatimest
  3. Califone ~ All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
  4. Animal Collective ~ Merriweather Post Pavilion
  5. St. Vincent ~ Actor
  6. Atlas Sound ~ Logos
  7. Dirty Projectors ~ Bitte Orca
  8. Fever Ray ~ Fever Ray
  9. JJ ~ No 2
  10. Sonic Youth ~ The Eternal

Top Next 10
The xx ~ xx
Neko Case ~ Middle Cyclone
Thao ~ Know Better Learn Faster
Dinosaur Jr. ~ The Farm
Built to Spill ~ There Is No Enemy
Au Revoir Simone ~ Still Night, Still Light
Shuta Hasunuma ~ Pop Ooga
Obits ~ I Blame You
Yo La Tengo ~ Popular Songs
Micachu & The Shapes ~ Jewellery

Outstanding But Overshadowed
Yeah Yeah Yeahs ~ It's Blitz
The Swell Season ~ Strict Joy
Black Moth Super Rainbow ~ Eating Us
The Wooden Birds ~ Magnolia
Times New Viking ~ Born Again Revisited
Volcano Choir ~ Unmap
Vivian Girls ~ Everything Goes Wrong
The Twilight Sad ~ Forget the Night Ahead

Surprisingly Ungreat
Silversun Pickups ~ Swoon
The Thermals ~ Now We Can See
Tortoise ~ Beacons of Ancestorship
Why? ~ Eskimo Snow

Short and Suh-weet
Flying Lotus ~ LA EP X3
Animal Collective ~ Fall Be Kind EP
Deerhunter ~ Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP
The Octopus Project ~ Golden Beds EP

Finn Riggins ~ Vs. Wilderness
Le Fleur ~ Din Din

Indie Up and Comers
Real Estate ~ Real Estate
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart ~ The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Desolation Wilderness ~ New Universe
We Were Promised Jetpacks ~ These Four Walls
White Rabbits ~ It's Frightening
Japandroids ~ Post-Nothing
Cymbals Eat Guitars ~ Why There Are Mountains

On the Decks
Diego Bernal ~ For Corners
DJ Signify ~ Of Cities

Don't Believe The...
Girls ~ Album
Passion Pit ~ Manners
Friendly Fires ~ s/t

Good Form
Lou Barlow ~ Goodnight Unknown
Beirut ~ March of the Zapotec & Real People: Holland
Sunset Rubdown ~ Dragonslayer
Gui Borrato ~ Take My Breath Away
The Raveonettes ~ In And Out Of Control
The Dodos ~ Time to Die

Wondrous Noise
SunnO))) ~ Monoliths & Dimensions
Fuck Buttons ~ Tarot Sport

Discovery ~ LP
Moby ~ Wait for Me
Lily Allen ~ It's Not Me, It's You

Sound Sophisticates
Jacaszek ~ Treny
Victoire ~ A Door Into the Dark
Worried About Satan ~ Arrivals

Nice. Not thrilling, but nice.
Here We Go Magic ~ s/t
Wilco ~ Wilco (the album)
M Ward ~ Hold Time
Camera Obscura ~ My Maudlin Career
Phosphorescent ~ To Willie

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Tuesday evening around 6pm, we let go of our dog Gus.

He got a cancer diagnosis 3 weeks previous, and at that time he had declined so fast we didn't think we'd get him home from the vet. But we did, and thanks to prednisone and nonstop attention from Cathy, he got a good happy 3 weeks tacked on. But we knew, too, that his time was short.

A few weeks ago, on the 9th of November, as I went downstairs in the morning to get ready for work and let the dogs out and feed them, Gus couldn't get up. He eventually did, but he was having problems, where the night before he seemed fine. He ate, but he wasn't right. He recovered a bit, but the next day, he was still bad and maybe worse. So Cathy took him to the vet to have him checked out.

I got a call from Cathy shortly after getting home from work that evening, a Tuesday. She was at the vet and had been crying. "He has cancer," she said, "It's really bad." I got on the bike and rode out to the vet's office to find Cathy and Gus on the floor of an exam room. He was on his side, breathing heavily, she sitting next to him stroking his head. When I came in the room, he didn't get up, didn't lift his head, but he thumped his tail on the floor as he looked up at me, breaking my heart into pieces.

A tumor in his spleen had apparently metastasized into his liver and lymph nodes. It was big and terrible and too late to do anything about it. At this point, surgery wasn't a viable option. Our only hope and focus at that moment was to get him out of that office and home, at least for the night. He couldn't go yet. Not like this.

We did lift him into the car and take him home with a tiny ziplock full of prednisone and pepcid. We didn't think he'd make it through the next day.

But prednisone can work temporary miracles in dogs. He rebounded and started acting like himself. He wagged his tail and walked around and sniffed Henry and ate food. He was still very weak, and his belly remained distended and full of fluid or blood or both. But he was happy. The vet said 1 to 2 weeks at the outside before he eventually used up all his clotting factor and bled out. We just wanted him to be free of pain and able to get up on his own, just for a while.

He ate whatever he wanted--first wet dog food, then cheeseburgers, vanilla ice cream, pastrami, leftover turkey, and at the very end, pretty much bacon only. But he stuck around for three weeks. He even got to meet The Swell Season on Thanksgiving day, when lead singer Glen Hansard fed him ham, a highpoint in the life of Gus. He was happy and excited to be part of the party.

He got daily trips to the park where he would lay in the grass with Cathy, chase balls on 5 to 10 foot throws, sniff and investigate and be a dog out in the world. He brightened every day for his trip to the park, showing the spark and bounce he always had. But the rest of the time we could tell he was just tired.

When someone goes suddenly, you always wish for just another day, another week. More time so that you could know the meaning and value of every moment and take nothing for granted. Gus gave us that time. He got 3 weeks tacked on at the end, and he and Cathy made the most of it.

On Monday, November 30, he was tired all day. So much so that he got a break from going to the park because he didn't seem up to it. And that night, he couldn't get up. His belly was so big and bloated, and his bladder so full, that we were afraid he'd pop. We coerced and carried him outside, but he couldn't support himself, and we had to hold him off the ground so he could go to the bathroom. When he'd sink to the ground, he'd just stay there, and we could see him giving up. It was a terrible thing, and we were afraid we'd been selfish and waited too long, but it just came on so fast we failed to see how bad it was.

We made plans for the vet to come out the next day.

Thankfully, the next morning, Tuesday, he was in better shape. He could get his legs under him and hoist his weight to standing. He peed--about 2 gallons--and we breathed a sigh of relief. But we kept the appointment. We didn't want Gus to go through another night like the previous one. His dignity wouldn't stand for it. If Gus was anything, he was dignified.

Throughout the day, he was alert, but not as he had been. It was time and he made sure to tell us so. He was catered to all day, never left alone, ate bacon and cheeseburgers and was petted and hugged and cried over likely far past the point of his own tolerance. But he let us do it, because we needed to.

The vet came at 5. The room was candle lit, with soft music, Gus on his favorite bed. He'd got a tranquilizer before the vet came to reduce the stress. It worked, though I think he was ready anyway. He didn't flinch a toe when the needle went into his leg, and the long slow movement of the syringe's plunger paralleled the slowing of his breathing and heart rate. He never moved or protested, me sitting above him petting him, Cathy on the floor stroking his face and talking him through it. Gus went very peacefully, his heart slowing to a stop that was almost unnoticeable for its gradual decline.

You'd think the previous three weeks prepares you for the end. But you'd be wrong. It hit hard, and it still hurts, still stops me short and makes me weepy all of a sudden. Cathy, as is to be expected, is taking it very hard. She's very sad, and we both feel that things just aren't the same now. Henry, too, is a bit off. He seems very subdued, depressed almost, and won't leave our side during the day. Things aren't the same for him either; he's lost a brother. There's never been a Henry without a Gus, and now the hound has to stand on his own.

Things aren't the same, but of course we'll be okay. Something inside me says that Gus has been sick for a long time and has stuck around as long as he has because we've had a tough couple years. He's been here to see Cathy through the terrible times, though the sadness and grief and frustration that has followed us as we've passed through the fire. And I think, now, things are on their way to being okay. I think he knew that. I think he stayed as long as he had to, as long as he was able, because he was needed. And I think now he knows we'll be okay, so it was his time to leave.

We miss Gus, and we always will. There's a special place in our hearts for that dog, that quiet, dignified, ever-present friend that we came to count on in the good times and especially the bad. He was our reason for getting up in the morning some days, taking care of his and Henry's basic needs, for getting out into the world when we'd have rather holed up and smothered from grief. His panting grin and hopeful bucking got us dressed and to the park when we needed it and didn't know it. He's been the best friend a person could ever ask for.

Our friend Kimberly said, on the night that we let Gus go, that heaven for dogs looks a lot like Montana. Gus spent a good amount of time in Montana, vacationing and visiting friends and a 3 month stint in Browning on the Blackfoot reservation when Cathy worked in a hospital there, and it was definitely one of his favorite places, running through fields of tall grass and splashing in creeks with sticks that were more logs than sticks and loping alongside us on dirt roads and trails and sitting on porches as the sun set. I like to think of him now in a place like Montana, playing with Yeti and Boone and GuntherMobley and all the other dogs that run free there. He deserves that. They all do.

Take care of yourselves and your dogs.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Swell Thanksgiving

The tour bus rolled up to Jil and Michael and Ian and Eric's North End bungalow, and a few minutes later my nonstop gravy-stirring-potato-mashing and the general kitchen cacophony was being recorded by a whole bunch of excited Irish guys. Cameras clicked, introductions were made, and guinea pigs brought out as the entirety of The Swell Season, including road crew and guests, came over for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Joy and John engineered it and brought a ham and a hundred pies. Jil and Michael made turkey and potatoes and gravy and enough other food to feed an army. We brought a turkey and some sides.

The Swell Season brought their appetites, their excitement at their first "American Thanksgiving," and a whole lot of music. Not to mention a busload of wine.

After dinner, Colm brought out his violin and treated us to a beautiful fireside serenade.

Thanksgiving 09, Fiddle by the Fire from Christopher Hess on Vimeo.

And in no time, the player piano was fired up and the wine took effect.

Thanksgiving 09, Opening Jig from Christopher Hess on Vimeo.

Glen sang songs, Marketa sang songs, so did Rob and Betts and Carly and Colm and Graham and undoubtedly a couple that I missed.

Thanksgiving 09, Blue Eyes Cryin In the Rain from Christopher Hess on Vimeo.

Everyone sang, for hours.

Thanksgiving 09, The Old Triangle from Christopher Hess on Vimeo.

Cathy took a turn at the player piano, too.

Thanksgiving 09, My Wild Irish Rose from Christopher Hess on Vimeo.

It was a beautiful, wonderful time. We danced and drank and talked and talked and talked.

"If Thanksgiving's about hanging out with your pals, then this was about perfect." So said Hansard during Friday night's amazing Swell Season show, and for my part I'm happy and thankful to have been a part of it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Friday

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

"Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments.""

Thanks, Onion.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wire

Above, the 100 Greatest Quotes from The Wire, the best show to ever air on television. CAUTION: This is full of spoilers, so if you haven't watched the show yet, don't watch this. But watch the show, because you need to.

In my opinion, though, they missed one of the best:

MCNULTY: I'll take a Jameson.

BARTENDER: We've got Bushmill's.

MCNULTY: That's Protestant liquor.

If you have watched the show, you'll want to see this at least a few times. It's that cool.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teabaggers: Punked

Smallpox? Columbus go home? Nice work, dude. Send em back where they came from. Almost makes you feel sorry for the idiots. Almost.

The Case for a Civilian Court

Andrew Sullivan makes a very good argument for trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York civilian court. And I think he's right.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we've made some grave errors in prosecuting the war on terror over the last 8+ years. Seems to me that military tribunals would do nothing to repair our image abroad, nor our own feelings mixed though they are about the nation we've become.

Handling these terrorists in our own judicial system, which we claim is the best in the world, so close to where the horrific attack on US soil happened, is a powerful symbol. Sullivan's right to pit the calm, methodical, and fair process of an American court against the fear-based scramble to revenge that seems at the heart of the pressure (and yes fear mongering) of those who are pushing for military trials.

And he makes another good point that most will not want to acknowledge:

It will be a civic lesson to America and the world. It will show the evil of terrorism and the futility and danger of torture. It will be a way in which Cheney's torture regime can be revealed in all its grotesque excess at the same time as KSM's vile religious extremism is exposed for its murderous nihilism. That all this will take place in New York - close to where the mass murder took place - is a particularly smart touch.

The glow of the righteous victim is dulled when the victim's hand can be seen carrying out its own injustices. Those from the Bush administration fear civilian courts, perhaps even more than those to be tried do. And for good reason.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just announced: Buddy Miller to play RX in-store Monday at 5:30!

I got to see Buddy Miller open for Emmylou Harris last night at the Egyptian. He put on a really great show. Most of the songs were he and an upright electric bass player, but Emmylou joined him for a surprise duet, and he played a handful of songs solo.

This man writes great songs, and it's a treat to see him in the lead role, especially along with getting to see him in lead guitar role in Harris' band. And it's a big coup for the Record Exchange to get him to do an in-store. Don't miss this one.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Built to Spill Plays KRBX Benefit

Here's the press release from the RadioBoise site. Note the new call letters--KRBX y'all! Get used to em.

Radio Boise to Present Built to Spill, Monday, Nov 23 at the VAC

On sale now

Local indie rock heavyweights Built to Spill will headline a concert at the Visual Arts Collective on Monday, Nov 23 to benefit efforts by Radio Boise to bring a noncommercial, community-based radio station to the Treasure Valley.

Built to Spill will play Boise for the first time since the recent release of their highly acclaimed seventh album, "There Is No Enemy". All proceeds will benefit Radio Boise's "89.9 Fund", established to purchase broadcasting equipment for the nonprofit organization.

Guitarist, Brett Netson, has been an advocate of the project for several years. Returning to Boise for a break after the band's most recent shows in San Francisco, he explained, "We have to do this. Not only is it a right, but it is a responsibility to use the airwaves that we as citizens do, in fact, own. You need this station because it will be yours! Community Radio will be the sound of us relating to each other and working things out...to have the opportunity to be who we are. It's about our identity. This is how we as a community stay strong. This is democracy."

Broadcasting on the internet at Radioboise.org for four years, Radio Boise is now seeking to raise $250,000 for their first year of terrestrial operations on 89.9 FM and to match federal grant funds for equipment purchases. The nonprofit organization has been authorized to broadcast using the FCC call letters "KRBX".

Also appearing on the bill for the benefit show will be J&L Defer (of Disco Doom), Beautician and Bales of Hey! Tickets are available at Visualartscollective.com

Monday, November 09, 2009


Since the release of Atlas Sound's new record Logos, I've been pretty much unwilling to concede iPod time to anything not directly related to Bradford Cox. Between this and the most recent Deerhunter EP, as well as the first Deerhunter record Cryptograms, which I've gone back and bought in light of Logos' awesomeness, I just can't make time for anything else.

I'm not sure what it is about his music, across these two projects, that's suddenly speaking to me. When Cryptograms first came out I liked what I heard but didn't really seek it out. Microcastle, their second full-length, is what woke me up, but not to this extent.

Now, though. The gorgeous, tinkly guitars, the hazy melancholy melodies, the incredible depth to his not-so-lo-fi-lo-fi, all of it adds up to a music that goes into and beyond any label you might apply. It's indie and psychedelic, but it's sunny pop and noise and freakfolk and ambient and shoegaze all at the same time.

The new songs reference girl groups and doo-wop as much as they do Animal Collective or, back further, the Beach Boys. The songs are sunny on the surface, but there's something sad and a little disturbing bubbling below the surface.

If you haven't yet, check out this guy's music. Microcastle might be a good place to start. Or, dive right in and get Let the Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel. Wherever you start, and whichever direction you go, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sully Defends Obama to Colbert

Andrew Sullivan
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

This is great stuff.

High Places

A new video from High Places for their new single, I Was Born. They get a bit adventurous here, both with the sounds laid over the beats, which are typically woozy and persistent, and with Mary Pearson's vocal range.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On Fox

A good piece in the WSJ about the sham that is Fox News. The piece focuses on delusions of media persecution of the type that the Fox douchebags live on. Money:

But no journalistic operation is better prepared to sing the tragedy of its own martyrdom than Fox News. To all the usual journalistic instincts it adds its grand narrative of Middle America's disrespectful treatment by the liberal elite. Persecution fantasy is Fox News's lifeblood; give it the faintest whiff of the real thing and look out for a gale-force hissy fit.

My New Year's resolution this year is already decided: To close the mental door on the poison of sham journalism and talk radio garbage, to not let Rushannitybeck into my consciousness, thereby becoming a happier, less frustrated human being. So, for now, I'm still thinking about it. Because soon I'll turn it off.

Boise Election Results

Looks like the good guys swept this one. Nice work, TJ.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

It's National Novel Writing Month again. The premise is simple--write a novel, inside a month. Last year I wrote some but I didn't commit. This year I'd planned to commit, but now I'm on the verge of chickening out. I've got a lot going on to be able to churn out this kind of copy. And blah blah whine whine ppffbbbthththth.

What about Novella Month? Or Short Story Week And A Half? 50,000 words is a lot. But I will start today. Anyone else taking part in this lunacy?

Okay. I'm gonna try. I might need a support group for this one.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here It Comes

The view from somewhere on the mountain to the lodge at Bogus. No stopping it now, I guess. One of these days I'll embrace it--though if this picture doesn't get me excited, I don't know what will.

Colbert on Lieberman

Joe Lieberman Is a True Independent
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Banh Mi

An embarrassment of riches, suddenly. We've got 2 places in Boise serving Vietnamese deli-style sandwiches. Pho Nouveau downtown, and now a place that's apparently called Baguette Deli Vietnamese Sandwiches.

Cathy just brought me the beef sandwich above, and it's delicious. Great baguette with a really nice slightly tacky crust, strips of pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, and chile, cilantro on the stem, and grilled beef. Absent is the tons of mayo-y gunk standard at many of these places, which is okay, and the pate, which they were out of but I'm dying to try.

I've always complained at the lack of Vietnamese food here. No more!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Co-Opted Out?

Andrew Sullivan's got an interesting take on the opt-out public option about to make a splash in the Senate.

The genius of the opt-out is that it coopts the states' rights argument (just as ending the prohibition on marijuana does); it has the potential to make "liberalism' popular again; it has easily demonized opponents - the health insurance industry; and it forces Republicans not to rail against socialism in the abstract but to oppose actual benefits for the working poor in reality.

It's not my favorite plan, but I think he's right. On top of that, I have a hard time imagining that businesses or corporations would balk at setting up a new shop in a state that's opted out of the public option, when they could set up in a state that has it, relieving them of the sole burden of providing health insurance. What politician will want to be responsible for that?

This opt-out thing is looking smarter and smarter. So far, anyway.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Know Better Learn Faster

I feel like I've been a bit light on the music side of this blog for a while, so I vow to make a better effort at it. That's why I started this thing in the first place, so.

Thao Nguyen's new record is a great place to start. I sort of stumbled onto her first one by accident, and it was indeed a grower, the jittery folky rhythms, her strained and odd voice, the childishly insightful lyrics all brought me back for repeated listens and, in the end, big payoffs.

Know Better Learn Faster, though I wouldn't have said it on first listen, might even be better. A few days ago I'd have said it was good, but it didn't have any immediate killers like "Beat" or "Bag of Hammers," both great singles off the first record (We Brave Bee Stings and All).

But then I listened some more, and it's quite possible that the title track "Know Better Learn Faster" is her best song ever. The lyrics are urgent and meaningful if sparse, the repeated calls to do what the title says, for them to be "better than me" and me to do "better than you" seem to speak to the experience of advancing generations in America in a way that many of us fail to consider.

There are tons of gems to be mined from these songs, from the opening oddness of "Clap" and jangle of "Cool Yourself" to the grrr of "Fixed It!" and the wistfulness of ""The Give." And the more you listen, the better it gets. Her band, the Get Down Stay Down, are solid here, too, bringing more of the energy and force of the live show to this record.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Public Option

I am not MoveOn's biggest fan. But this is a pretty good ad. We NEED the public option for health care reform to mean anything. This says why.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NY Times Cuts Newsroom Jobs

The latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the death of the newspaper.

The New York Times plans to eliminate 100 newsroom jobs — about 8 percent of the total — by year’s end, offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily, the paper announced on Monday.
It just gets worse and worse. I admit, I haven't subscribed to a print newspaper in many years. (I live in Boise, so the quality of the Idaho Statesman does give me an excuse, albeit a lame one. But that doesn't change the problem that, as physical papers continue to decline, what happens to the type of journalism they've long been home to?

The model is changing. We don't know yet what it'll change into, but let's hope Huffington Post and Drudge Report are not it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Andrew Bird + St. Vincent

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This kind of thing is what's so cool about the ease of sharing media via the Interwebs. Andrew Bird and St. Vincent are touring together, and here we get a half hour of the two of them playing to a small group of people, in a small room, in France.


Wanna lose your mind? Count the missed opportunities for the US in this video.

And with Davies out due to injuries from a car accident and Onyewu being hauled off the pitch on a stretcher during this match, the team's immediate prospects are not exactly golden. But we've got time.

And for now, kudos to them for tenacity and for taking the title with a last-minutes draw with Costa Rica. Next up: 11/18 v. Denmark

Flying Lotus + Burial

There's no video in this You Tube video clip, but there's something better. This is a collaborative track from Flying Lotus and Burial, two of my favorite downbeat electro geniuses. It's dark, it's full of clacking beats and swirling sounds, and it showcases the strengths of both these dudes pretty well.

Apparently there are no plans for this to see the light of day any way besides this, so enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

McChrystal and Afghanistan

Dexter Filkins' article, in NY Times Magazine, is a thorough and engaging piece on where we stand in the war in Afghanistan and where, under General McChrystal, we need to go.

I don't know as much as I should about this conflict, but this article does a good job of educating about the status of our effort, the enormity of the challenge ahead, and the failings of our involvement there to date.

The main point here is that the US is at a crucial junction in this war, and the importance of the decision being weighed with due diligence by Obama and his advisers--whether to send in about 40,000 more troops and step up the effort, or to scale back our troops there and focus more on training Afghans to take on the Taliban themselves--can't be overstated.

If we consider the fate of the Afghan people, both those who have crossed over to help us and those who have not, scaling back doesn't seem possible, but for other reasons it's a very attractive option.

Read this piece. This war deserves more of the public's attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pavement ist Rad

I'm watching Slow Century tonight. It's only up for a few more days, I think, so check it out. Good prep for next year's tour. Anyone wanna rent a motorhome and go full on Pavementhead for a few months?

Just Like Heaven

Got this from Paste. Awesome of the day, indeed.

Finn Riggins

They held their CD Release In-store at the Record Exchange last week, and the new tunes they trotted out for this show were pretty great. As is the new record, Vs. Wilderness, which you should buy.

Check out this vid from the in-store.

Green Chile

Green Chile, on State St., has been a number of things in the past few years, most notably a pretty decent taco joint whose name escapes me at the moment.

But now it's a New Mexico-style taco joint, and it's a pretty dang good one. Tex Mex is more my specialty than the variety that comes from New Mexico, but I'm a fan of anything with chiles, and these folks, though they're a bit dainty with the heat, know what they're doing.

After an arduous trip to the Laundry-Mutt on Saturday, Cathy and I stopped in. I had a beef torta that was good though unlike any other torta I've had--chunks of beef stewed and served on ciabatta in gravy with mayo, lettuce, jalapenos, and tomato. Served with fries. Tasty and cheap, if a bit weird.

Cathy got a bowl of green chile, which was really good. And we shared a bowl of posole, also really delicious, more the clear greenish broth (which I prefer) than the oily red.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best Run Ever

Sunday morning felt a bit too chilly for a mountain bike ride, so I decided on a run. And considering that lately the dogs aren't too interested in keeping up with me on trail runs, I went solo. And boy am I glad I did.

I took off from the Five Mile Gulch trailhead, ran up 5-Mile, across the Watchman's Trail, down 3 Bears to Rocky Canyon Road, and back up to the trailhead.

The legs felt great, the pace stayed up, and the trail was in perfect condition. I had it all to myself, just about, on this gorgeous fall day. Great trail, amazing run.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Friday

Yo Barack, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Wangari Maathai was one of the best Nobel Peace Prize winners of all time.


Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

We all woke to this absolutely surprising, ultimately inspiring news this morning. Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Diplomacy. The reactions are understandably loud and varied, with many calling on him to refuse it, and many calling that a terrible idea.

Predictably, perhaps, I fall into the latter camp. It seems to me that refusing this award would be not only an insult to a venerable international institution, but would also miss the point.

He should accept the award as the American President, on behalf of the American People, for the change that we all have promised to pursue and will eventually bring about. The award is symbolic (and yes political), and so should his acceptance be.

In other words, work it. Take full advantage of the attention and added prestige it brings to further his agenda of international diplomacy.

I happen to think that the change Obama's brought about in the national psyche and the international dialog warrant this award. Here's the full citation:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the United States is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

This is a wonderful thing. Congrats, President Obama.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Read This Op-Ed

Kristof nails it today on Congress' refusal to provide health care reform. Read this piece. It's very important.

Health care has often been debated as a technical or economic issue. That has been a mistake, I believe. At root, universal health care is not an economic or technical question but a moral one.

We accept that life is unfair, that some people will live in cramped apartments and others in sprawling mansions. But our existing insurance system is not simply inequitable but also lethal: a very recent, peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Public Health finds that nearly 45,000 uninsured people die annually as a consequence of not having insurance. That’s one needless death every 12 minutes.

When nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, we began wars and were willing to devote more than $1 trillion in additional expenses. Yet about the same number of Americans die from our failed insurance system every three weeks.

Endless Summer

I'm sorry, I can't help myself. Rode to work in the frosty dark this morning. I'm just not ready.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dead Hearts

Dead Man's Bones is the musical project of Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields. This is a video for their song Dead Hearts, a surprisingly affecting piece about a wishbone pulling a giant machine through a dreamlike landscape. It really is beautiful.

From PFork TV.

Because They Are Lily-Livered


Monday, October 05, 2009

Die Quickly

Here's what all the echo-chamber fuss is about.

Politics of Spite

Krugman has it right in today's column.

Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

Where's all the talk of patriotism? America first? Or is that only when there's a white Republican in the White House?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Happy Friday

Wilford Brimley kicks it for the diabeetus. Awesome.

(Thanks to AS)

Sometimes, Brooks

Once in a while David Brooks finds the exact right words. I'm in complete agreement with him in today's NY Times column. His lesson goes:

So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

Radio blowhards like Limbaugh &c make lots of noise, and get lots of attention. Teabaggers and Town Hallers do likewise, outrageously. But the evidence doesn't bear out their supposed influence. Really, they're loud and obnoxious so they make good TV, but they are definitely the minority. A small, crazy minority.

But still, the echo chamber is a scary thing, and it makes the frail nervous (see: Baucus, Conrad, etc). It's just a shame these people don't understand that it's not the will of the people being shouted at them, it's just the will of the noisy few.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Digby Nails Baucus et al

"I think Blanche Lincoln, Kent Conrad and Max Baucus all have plenty of constituents who make 30k a year just like Rockefeller. But they'd rather see them suffer than risk being called a socialist by some confused teabagger or lose a big campaign check from Blue Cross. It's a choice. And what they choose tells you a whole lot about the character of those making it." From Digby's Hullaballoo

Noah Milan Hess

My new nephew, 3 weeks old.

Noah 3 weeks old from Bettina Dahl on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leave Health Care Alone

Dirty Projectors

One great thing about the instant-ness of technology like Facebutt and Twitter is that you can experience stuff like this.

A tweet from ?uestlove brought this video to my living room. Apparently the Dirty Projectors came to The Roots' dressing room and performed this new song. As he says, "How cool is it for them to do this?"

And how cool is it that we can share the experience?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BCRP Scores Ginormous Grant!

Here's the word from the website. This is new news, and good. Very good. Much more to come on this from me. Wahoo!

BIG NEWS: U.S. Department of Commerce awards Radio Boise $227,000 for purchase of station equipment!!!

The federal grant funds will be used to purchase broadcasting equipment such as a transmitter, antenna and our studio gear. FINALLY!!! The 18-month grant cycle will require $75,000 in local matching dollars. Word of the great news arrived earlier in the week from Rep. Walt Minnick's office.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Goes On

Yeah, the blog's been a video dump lately. Things're craaaaazy. We've got this going on:

And a whole lot else. As if that weren't enough. I'm cooking outside!

I'll keep this place posted on the progress. It's gonna be great when it's done, but man, I've got to go out through the backyard to get from my bedroom to the living room. And the dogs, of course, have decided they have to go outside at 4am every night.

But it'll be great when it's done.