Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beatles influences

It’s the 40th anniversary of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” album and the accolades keep coming.
My introduction to the Beatles came in the mid-80s in college when I picked up a two-album collection called Rock 'n' Roll Music.
It was an awesome compilation put together by George Martin himself. I was literally blown away. I recorded the double-album onto a compact disc and played it in my car until the tape was literally worn out. To this day, “Twist and Shout” is probably my favorite all-time Beatles recording. My first Beatles album I purchased after that was “Abbey Road” followed by “The White Album.” By the time I finally got around to getting “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” it didn’t have the same impact it might have if I had bought it first.
But I had also been exposed to Sgt. Pepper’s years earlier in the form of the critically-panned movie that starred Peter Frampton and the Bee-Gees. I thought the movie was great (I was 12 at the time) and had no clue that all the music was by the same band.
The Express-News had an editorial in today’s paper commemorating the anniversary and in it they note that The Beatle’s musical foundation was based on “Elvis, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.” Elvis and Chuck Berry, sure. They even recorded a version of Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” But Bo Diddley? What about Little Richard whose falsetto “woooooooo” was constantly immitated by Paul? And what about Buddy Holly? If we are going to talk about musical influences, you have to mention the kid from Lubbock, Texas. Paul has said many times that they chose the name Beatles (Silver Beetles initially) because they wanted to be like Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I had to laugh at this Nacho Guarche cartoon the other day. Considering the infestation of chiggers we are dealing with here this spring, his suggestion of replacing the Spurs’ coyote mascot with a chigger actually has some merit.
Chiggers are nasty little bugs that live in the tall grass and undergrowth and leave little red welts wherever they bite. My wife and little boy are especially susceptible to them.
I’ve been spraying pesticides and clearing brush in our back area, but it only seems to have put a dent in them so far. But I’m planning a major “surge” this week and I’m confident that my backyard will soon be liberated from these parasitic pests.

A positive Spurs column

After reading the New York Times’ front page slobbery kiss-up to LeBron James that barely even mentions the San Antonio Spurs, I was pleasantly surprised to find this excellent column in the Washington Post:

Duncan's Exclusive Company

Now that LeBron James has become ABC's savior of the NBA Finals -- and LeBron says he is honored to be compared to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Gandhi -- we interrupt this homeroom crush for some genuine education.

The San Antonio Spurs are going to school Cleveland and win their fourth title, in six games or fewer, because they have the best player on the floor in the series. Tim Duncan, despite getting less love than jury duty, is maybe the largest difference-maker since Jordan....

When the Spurs are finished polishing off Cleveland, Duncan will not only eclipse Bird's three rings, he will join Magic and Michael as the only leading men with more than three championships with the same franchise since Bill Russell. Four decades after Russell, Duncan would join a class of three....

The perception of Duncan mirrored his team; he was coming off a season in which his body was breaking down and there simply were too many quick, young big men to rise over.

As usual, his detractors missed the importance of Duncan. His game has never been about explosiveness; it's about efficiency. His degree of difficulty has nothing to do with hang time and more to do with angles and trajectory, all the skill-level amenities missing from contemporary front-court players...

Drama is at a premium for Duncan, too; he's had the same coach, Gregg Popovich, his entire career. Often expressionless and unemotional since his days at Wake Forest, where the Duke student section referred to him as "Spock," there is a monotony to the way Duncan plays and carries himself that doesn't resonate in a culture run by celebrity.

He gets penalized for consistently playing and living between the lines while so many of his look-at-me peers obliterate the boundaries and become more popular for it. Polarization sells; professionalism is so '90s....

LeBron James reinvigorates the "Next Michael" debate after a sterling week of basketball. Meanwhile, if anyone wanted to look long and hard, Tim Duncan belongs at the top of that class more than Kobe, more than Dwyane Wade and certainly more than LeBron. More than any of them, he's won at a higher level.

Damn straight. Tim Duncan is a better ballplayer than James, who, to be fair, is still far too young and immature to make a good comparison. Duncan is just not as flashy. He is not the kind of player who is ever going to do a 360-degree spin, behind-the-head dunk. If Duncan has a clear shot at the basket, he is going to very carefully push the ball into the basket - very efficient, not very exciting. Duncan doesn’t play to the crowd, he plays to win.

Maverick McCain

Why isn’t John McCain doing better in the Republican primary race? I predicted earlier this year that McCain would be the GOP nominee in 2008. He has the most experience; solid name recognition; he’s the closest thing to a Reaganite conservative in the race; he is firmly in the “pro-life” camp on abortion; he is an ardent defender and apologist for the War in Iraq; etc, etc.
So how is it that he now finds himself lagging behind the liberal former Mayor of New York and the used-to-be-liberal former Governor of Massachussetts?
Is it because of his reality-based position on the immigration issue? I thought it was quite admirable that he stood up to the bullying of the other GOP candidates to defend the compromise legislation now in Congress. None of the other candidates have a realistic approach to the issue. All they can do is mouth idealistic pieties and pretend like this would somehow make the whole problem go away.
I suppose the immigration issue is the best indication as to why McCain is not doing well. His willingness to break away from the lock-step formation of the party faithful on issues such as immigration, gun control, campaign finance reform and the environment has given him the “Maverick” label which is would be an advantage in a national campaign, but is actually a disadvantage in a primary race.
But is this really enough to overshadow McCain’s solid conservative positions on other issues? According to his Wikipedia entry, McCain has “a strong pro-life voting record, a strong free trade voting record (including a 100% rating from the Cato Institute), wanting private social security accounts, being against socialized health care, supporting school vouchers, supporting the death penalty, supporting mandatory sentencing, and supporting welfare reform.”
All in all, a miserable record by my standpoint, but apparently not pure enough to suit the party faithful. So how is it that they would instead turn to a guy who is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, etc. etc. as the alternative?
I’m flummoxed. I just don’t understand these people.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Senate succession

I have to agree with Matthew Yglesias that the Wyoming law on U.S. Senate succession is fair.
The sudden death of Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., might have given Democrats an opportunity to expand their razor-thin majority in the Senate, but state rules in Wyoming require that the governor, a Democrat, appoint a replacement from the same party as the prior office holder.
Other states should consider adopting this kind of rule.

Jefferson indicted

As I suspected, the reason Democrats didn’t immediatly jump up and denounce Rep. William Jefferson after his indictment and demand that he be stripped of his committee assignments was so that he could do so on his own.
Hopefully, Jefferson will now have the decency to resign from Congress and not drag his constituents and his party through a protracted fight. In the meantime, everyone should remember that when former Speaker Tom DeLay was indicted the Republican response was to award him a choice seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Bush's surge

Bush’s surge in Iraq is cleary not working and even the Wall Street Journal can see the writing on the wall.

Can the Iraq 'Surge' Be Salvaged?
When the Bush administration decided to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq, the strategy rested on an unspoken trade-off: U.S. troops would risk greater casualties to tamp down violence and buy the Baghdad government time to make the political compromises needed to reconcile the country's warring factions.
But a resurgence of sectarian violence and attacks on U.S. troops, coupled with little to no progress on crucial Iraqi political goals, is already spurring discussion about whether the current strategy can succeed.


In another thread at All Things Conservative my old friend Mark Harden has been having a grand old time calling me a “dumbass” and “unpatriotic” because I had the temerity to challenge Bill’s assertion that the sudden dismissal of terrorism charges against a 20-year-old Gitmo detainee (Age 15 at the time of his incarceration) is somehow supposed to be a sterling example of our “fairness.”
I asked how it was fair that this kid was left to rot at Guantanamo for 5 years before ever being brought up for a trial, only to have all the charges thrown out on a technicality.
Either way you look at the case it is a travesty. If the kid did nothing wrong, it’s a travesty that he spent the past five years at Gitmo. If he is truly a threat to the United States, then it is a travesty that they can’t seem to get their act together and bring charges against him.
And the last thing anyone would say about this case is that it is a sterling example of U.S. jurisprudence and “fairness.” But I’m apparently unpatriotic for saying that.


It seems I’ve been banished from my perch as one of the liberal punching bags over at All Things Conservative. I was in a bit of a snit the other night when Bill threw up one of those inane posts questioning whether Hillary Clinton has had plastic surgery recently. I sniped that it was a sexist thing to obsess about and noted that it never seemed to be a big issue that Ronald Reagan dyed his hair black for eight years. Well, Bill took that as a personal attack and went ballistic calling me “pathetic” and claiming that I always say something insulting whenever I post a comment over there.

Mike, you get pissed off at just about everything I write. You do so because you are either an angry, sad person, or you just want to rock the boat. It's getting old.
So you can take your sexist comment and shove it. How dare you sling that kind of insult at me.

He went on to conclude that “We don't HAVE to hear from YOU on EVERY single post.”

So I have to interpret that as a “you’re not welcome around here anymore, take your ball and go home” comment. And it is Bill’s blog so I will respect his wishes.

In the meantime, I suppose I should spend more time posting on my own blog.