Monday, August 31, 2009

Curb Cup 1

The jump rope squad took 2nd place in this past weekend's Curb Cup. It was the first annual, and a smashing success.

A good number of city blocks were occupied on Sunday from 2 to 4pm by performers of every stripe. Bands, jugglers, solo musicians, belly dancers, yo-yoers, and many more, including rope jumpers.

I look forward to many more of these.

Kids In the Hall!!!

Word over at Paste is that the Kids in the Hall will be reuniting for a new series.
For a long time this was my favorite thing on television. And it's been amazing to me that the guys from this troupe didn't all go on to bigger and better things. Not that they didn't work--Dave Foley in that TV show with Phil Hartmann, MarkMcKinney in a pretty poor rotation on SNL, the Kevin one in various odd TV roles, and I understand Bruce McCullough and the Scott one have been active in theater--but nothing as good as I'd have expected.
But, they got back together and did a tour, and now they're going back on the air. Read about it here. And get excited now. Cause it's your big DAY!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Still can't stop listening to this song.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Friday

Courtesy of Henry the Flying Hound. He may be 10, but he's still got it.

Horner to Give It a Go

Andrew Hood's got some great news over at VeloNews. Astana is giving Chris Horner the shot at GC in the Vuelta a Espana this year.

I've become a huge fan of Horner over the years, first watching him win everything in the states, then watching him work his ass off for others overseas. I hope he's healthy and I hope he stays that way. I think he can get some results in Spain with the Astana team behind him. It ought to be an exciting Vuelta.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Flashy Python

Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has got a new record out. He's done this one as Flashy Python, sort of a solo venture, though he'll also soon have a true solo record out, under his own name.

Confused? Just wait til you check out the site he's set up. Actually, it's not too confusing, just a bit weird in its straightforwardness. Go there, listen to the whole record (just don't try to embed that player!), buy the music and other stuff.

Listen to it right here:

I'm listening as I write this. It's good, more upbeat than the last CYHSY record, though maybe a bit darker. It's recognizable, and actually sounds more like CYHSY than the second CYHSY record did, but what do I know from art?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Old Time Cool

That's Great-Grandpa Bert Kleaver in Wabasso, Minnesota, long before I was born. Cool before cool was cool.

Missed Opportunity

A nugget from Krugman's piece in today's NY Times.

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. “We know now that it is bad economics.” And last year we learned that lesson all over again.

Or did we? The astonishing thing about the current political scene is the extent to which nothing has changed.
It seems we've learned nothing from Reagan. Or even from the collapse from which we're still digging out. Government = Bad, Business = Good? C'mon, people, let's pull our heads out. A public option has to be part of this plan, or, quite simply, the bad guys win. Insurance companies will continue to call the shots and dictate the terms of our health care system. We will continue to treat health care as a commodity, not as a right.

Politicians are fond of saying that no one in this country should go broke because they get sick. But no one's willing to do anything about the fact that people do go broke when they get sick because, when it comes down to it, you can always go to the ER.

This kind of thinking is what got us where we are today. And it'll eventually drive us into a hole we can't get out of.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Desolation Wilderness Monday Night

Here's a video with some mildly trippy visuals.

Show's tonight at Hijinx, that new comedy club at 8th and Idaho. Upstairs I think. It's only $3. See you there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Grand Bargain Over Evolution

Robert Wright makes the case that we can all get along. Religion and a scientific world view are not mutually exclusive. They don't have to be wrong for you to be right.

Is morality a human adaptation via natural selection? And what is reciprocal altruism, anyway?

It's a long piece, but it's fascinating, and it does contain some gems that can help those of us conflicted or entertained by this ongoing battle between those whose cars are adorned with the Jesus fish and those who sport the Darwin fish-with-feet.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Friday

Courtesy of Barney Frank and some poor, misguided nutjob in Massachussetts. Thanks, HuffPo.

Reich on the Gang of Six

Robert Reich's got a post up over at TPM titled

Why the Gang of Six is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us

I'd add to that a few wingnut talk radio douchenozzles and a few hundred of the most misinformed and noisy of our citizenry. Still, not a crowd I want deciding the fate of our nation's health care system. So why are they?

Lutherans on the Brink

Interesting times for the Lutheran church. Leaders are debating whether to allow non-celibate gay men and women to be pastors, according to this NY Times article.

Sounds like some pretty intense discussion is going on around this issue. I'm sure they stand to lose some members if the decision goes in favor of allowing it, but in the long run, for its survival and its humanity, it seems to me they need to take a big step here.

It's taken a long time for society to make the modest gains it has in understanding and accepting or merely tolerating homosexuality. There's no reason to start moving backward, and a decision like this from a church as conservative as the Lutheran church--in which I was raised, by the way--would be a grand statement indeed.

Big Fish

Sam Abt in the NY Times speculates about Alberto Contador's future.

Astana's seeming hard line makes the discussions interesting. If they won't let him go, the point is moot, yes?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

JJ ~ Ecstasy

The video removes none of the mystery surrounding this band. That's a good thing. You really should check out this record.

Dems Finally Abandon Hope of Compromise

And it's about friggin time.

Today's NY Times has a piece about the Democratic response to the hardening Republican resistance to health care reform. The answer? F*#k them, we'll do it ourselves.

Thank goodness for that. After gutting and stripping the plan to near uselessness in an attempt to get Repugs on board, they've finally wised up and have decided to seek the support from within.

“The Republican leadership,” [Rahm] Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”
It won't be easy, and it's certainly not a given, but I have to think the chances of meaningful reform are greater if they're not trying to please Glenn Beck and the rest of the idiot crowd.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When the Sun Shines Down on the Average

The soundtrack for this morning's ride turned a run-of-the-mill loop around Shane's Trail and the Military Reserve into a trip back in time.

Last night Betts loaned me his copy of Jennyanykind's Revelater, a record that's always been one of my all time favorites, but has been missing from my collection, both tangible and digital, for a good many years. I'm sure I loaned it to someone in my ongoing quest to force new music onto as many people as possible and just never got it back. Since I never found it on the shelf at the Record Exchange, and it wasn't available through emusic, I figured it'd turn up or I'd borrow one eventually. At least 5 years later, here it was.

And man, what a record. Time has not exaggerated its kick-assedness in my mind. It's just great songs from beginning to end.

From the first bent and bluesy notes of "Repent In Time," getting reacquainted with this record felt like the going home that you can never do, the moving backward through your life that you can't ever realize. I could see the Holland brothers banging this stuff out in Emo's or the Electric Lounge or the Iron Cactus, the frenetic half-picking guitar, the skittery drums, the revolving cast of bass players.

On the trail this morning time disappeared. "You Better Get Right With God" is still on repeat in my brain. "When the Sun Shines Down on the Average" is every bit the showstopper that it was, brought to new heights by the gorgeous sunrise and brisk temps of today's early hours, and "Every Executioner Has A Song" was the perfect accompaniment for hammering my way around the lower Buck Trail on the way home.

If you haven't heard this record, make it a point to. If you know it, get to know it again. And if you want to borrow it, that's fine too--but only because it's digital now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild Things

Tell me this isn't exciting.

Conservatives on Health Care

Sullivan's got a good piece on health care reform, pinned to Frum's piece on health care reform. There are reasonable voices inside conservatism on what needs to happen to our health care system. They're just lost in the shadows of the lunatics at the Town Hall meetings.

Have a read.

It's all about bad information and not believing everything you hear. That, and being willing to swallow a bitter pill to heal for the long haul.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Happy Friday

Those Opposed

Krugman's got another good piece on healthcare reform and its loudest detractors in today's NY Times.

I imagine this is all too common:
There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

BSS do Joy Division

This is pretty cool. Have a listen.

Taliban Leader in Pakistan Dead?

Boy, this would be something, wouldn't it?

The Taliban fighters in northwest Pakistan, a senior leader reached by telephone in Orakzai Agency and a local Taliban fighter in Waziristan, said that Mr. Mehsud had been receiving kidney treatment from a relative in his father-in-law’s house in the remote village of Zanghara when the building was struck by missiles fired from a remotely-piloted drone.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Gourds at the Northern Rockies Folk Festival

Hailey, ID, 8/1/09

Maybe it’s the mountain weather. Or it could be the amazing scenery, or the warmth of the locals, or the escape from too much delicious Tex Mex and barbecue. Whatever the reason, The Gourds sure were happy to be in Idaho. And Idaho was obviously happy to have them here.

The announcer and organizer of the Northern Rockies Folk Festival said it best when he called this Gourds show a continuation of last year’s Gourds show. If that was what this was, then last year the power must have failed just when it was getting good, because the Gourds killed it from the first strains of opener “Old Man from the Mountain.”

The set was a familiar long-form Gourds set. No new tricks, no untested tunes, just straight-ahead good times and mostly upbeat songs from throughout the band’s history. The setting was gorgeous, the fellas were on, and the crowd was, to say the least, into it. But there was something different about this show. Something in the way it was played as well as in the way it was heard and digested—by the crowd at large, and by me, too, inside my head and guts. It’s tough to explain, but:

Some of my earliest exposure to the Gourds’ music came during sleep. Around and before the release of Dem’s Good Beeble, one of the overnight DJs on KUT, the college station in Austin, had “Dying of the Pines” in regular rotation, and I always put that station on before going to bed. I can remember, through the gauzy haze of somnambulant memory, waking or half-waking on many occasions to the quiet, ethereal strains of that song, maybe falling back to sleep before it ended, maybe not. But it made that song, and subsequently that record and this band, more haunting, more otherworldly than they otherwise might have been.

That feeling came back to me during the Gourds set up here in Hailey last week. Maybe it was because of the setting—an outdoor stage framed by the foothills of the Sawtooth and Boulder mountain ranges during sunset and its transition to night—or maybe it was the setlist, which though leaning hard toward the raucous stompers, still had time for some more reflective moments. Or, maybe it was because I was stone cold sober, perhaps a first for me at a Gourds show.

Most likely, it was a combination of these things, plus one more. Like many who read this blog, I’ve got a close and personal connection to this band’s music. It stands for my time in Austin (I’m now in Idaho) more than any other, they were a big part of the first months and years of my relationship with my wife, they played at our wedding reception, and Kevin played two songs during our wedding. If my life has a soundtrack, The Gourds feature prominently. I’ve watched and written about these guys throughout their storied career, and I’ve come to think of them as one of my favorite things in the world.

A few months ago, my dad passed away. As I do when confronted with most difficult things in life, I’ve sought solace in music, and the Gourds have claimed as much time on my iPod as anyone else in the months since (except maybe Sera Cahoone or Animal Collective, but that’s another playlist and another story). Saturday, the night of this show, would have been my dad’s 78th birthday, which falls a week before my own birthday, and this year I turn 40. It suffices to say I had a lot on my mind this past weekend, and to be honest I was more than a little concerned that a Gourds show would be a bit much for me to handle with anything resembling dignity. Seeing them play always makes me homesick for Austin, and in this melancholy context, I was afraid of what it might stir up.

But we went. It was great to see the guys as always, and also as always, they ripped it up and threw it down, just rocking their ever-lovin asses off for what seemed like all night and what actually was well over two hours. Old stuff (“Pine Island Bayou”, “Grievin’ and Smokin’”, “Plaid Coat”), new stuff (“Country Love”, “Declineometer”, “Red Letter Day”), covers (“Old Man From the Mountain”, “Gravity Talks”, “Omaha”), it all got stage time, and the tangible sense in every song was that these 5 guys were loving every minute of it. Not that they ever go through the motions, but when they’re having a ball, you can just feel it. Kevin hammed it up as only he can. Jimmy was a little less weird and a lot more smiley than usual and sang with a conviction that makes my stomach tingle, Keith grinned throughout the whole set (and proved Kevin right: He is the best drummer in Texas), Claude bantered aplenty and played all dozen of his instruments with abandon, and Max brought his clearest voice and his headiest chops. You know how it is: it was just on.

Not to dwell on this fact, but did I mention I was sober? That’s only odd in the context of me being at a Gourds show, and it’s only notable in that I truly feel the songs hit me differently—maybe deeper, maybe just with less distraction, but definitely this was different.

So when, after the encore’s “All the Labor” (one of a few of my all-time Gourds favorites), Kevin spoke of Bowe Bergdahl, the Hailey resident recently captured and made prisoner of war in Afghanistan, for whom the entire town is covered in yellow ribbons, and of Kit Nerras, one of the festival’s long-time organizers who died only the day before, I was already in, let’s say, an emotionally heightened and vulnerable state. And when this dedication led into one of the most beautiful, pained, and heartfelt turns through “Amazing Grace” that I have ever witnessed in all my days, it was all I could do to keep myself together. Soft drums, steel, and keyboards accompanied him almost inaudibly, and the entire crowd—the whole, huge, drunken, unruly, wound-up herd of festival-going mountain folk—went silent.

During this song I thought about my dad. I rewound through my time in Austin, the years since, the things I’ve gained and lost and that I miss and that I regret and that I accept as the life I’m living. I stood there and let a few tears fall, and I wished my dad a silent Happy Birthday. I wished joy to the world. I wished everyone on the planet could experience this gorgeous, exquisite sadness. It brought to mind a quote I saw scribbled out in the bathroom in Jimmy Smith’s house, back before he got all married and respectable and didn’t write on his walls with Sharpies anymore. It said “"He who binds himself to a joy does the winged life destroy, but he who kisses it as it flies lives in Eternity's sun rise," credited to "William Blake Fruitcake.” I’ve read my share of Blake, and I like to think I have a good grasp of the meaning and the beauty in his work. But never did I get it more clearly than at that moment.

And then, most appropriately, The Gourds turned that funereal dirge into a celebration and broke into the life-affirming “Hallelujah Shine.” The world slid back onto its axis and grinded into motion. I swayed in time with my wife, neither of us saying anything, both of us knowing what the other was thinking—that this band, and this night, would always be with us, no matter what.

Astarloza Proclaims Innocence

“I know that I didn’t take anything prohibited and I say it roundly: I didn’t take anything banned,” Astarloza said. “I am innocent. They are accusing me of a crime I didn’t do.”

Certainly no one is shocked at the claim of innocence. They all claim innocence, at least at first. But it does beg the question, as ever: What if he is innocent?

Everyone knows testing methods used on cyclists are, shall we say, less than totally scientifically sound. But that's mostly because doping science stays a step or two ahead of testing science. I suppose in the end it's best to fall back on innocent until proven guilty, but with a lack of absolute proof, what we're left with is the testing we have. A tough spot, for riders and fans and teams and governing bodies, but that's just the way it is.

It'll be interesting to watch how this plays out.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Look Who's Back

VeloNews reports that Alexandre Vinokourov will race this week in the criterium race at Castillon-la-Bataille in southwestern France.

Vino's been out for two years serving a ban for homologous blood doping. They say he'll be back in full Astana kit. I don't think it takes much of a leap to think that this is a big part of the reason for the departure of Lance and the impending departure of Contador from the Kazakh team.

When someone's done their time, you hope that you can respect it and wish them well. The lying and denying of charges dampens that respect, but one thing's for sure: A race with Vino in it is usually more exciting to watch than one without him.

Let's hope he stays clean.