this journey isn't over...

The Swell Season - "Fitzcarraldo" live at Bonnaroo 2008

Here, back, down a long and straight track
I have chose the long road
That leads me out to god knows
So I can't stop right now

Even the good stars can fall from grace and falter
Lose their faith and slide
But I can't get an ocean that's deep enough for my day

Well now it's time for to sound your voice
And capture what you're after
My ship was sold right up the river
But I'm not going down here
This journey isn't over...

Most of my favorite musical performers hail from the British Isles: Sting/the Police, Radiohead, The Cure, Peter Gabriel, U2, Damien Rice, The Frames, and more. Music is my panacea, my proven motivator and constant ally. For whatever reason, artists from the U.K. have an uncanny ability to capture my every emotion in song. In times like these when all I want is stasis yet all I find is transience, some songs are more of an aural encouragement than others. This is one of those songs. Based on a 1982 Werner Herzog film (and true story) of a man with an indomitable spirit, the song is not a typical motivational tool to the average music fan. But then again, I'm far from average...

The Frames - one of Ireland's most popular groups - is anchored by Glen Hansard, he of the indie flick Once stardom. It was my great fortune to stand in the crowd this year at Bonnaroo while the above song was performed. Listen at the 5:36 mark when he explains the meaning behind the song and you'll see why its relevance is applicable to anyone facing challenges. You owe it yourself to discover this phenomenal band, either in their original form as The Frames or through Glen's sideline project with Marketa Irglova, The Swell Season.


Consider the Lobster-man: R.I.P., D.F.W.

David Foster Wallace
February 21, 1962 - September 12, 2008

David Foster Wallace died Friday night. The literary world has lost a brilliant, respected talent; I have lost an idol. (Update, 9.15.08: New York Times book critic Michiko Kukatani penned a lovely tribute here. Salon.com also has a remembrance posted.)

This man loved the dictionary as much as I. Words were his sustenance. Footnotes (or his excessive though creative use thereof) will be his legacy.

He will be missed.

What is surprising is his exit strategy. He alluded to suicide in a 2005 speech at a college by saying:

"It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. "

We all have our demons, our dark moments of war waged against self-loathing and self-destructive behavior. How sad that this talented soul chose to stop fighting.

life in the breakdown lane...

"There's always a siren singing you to shipwreck..."

Editor's Note: we interrupt our regular blog session to bring this rambling, ambiguous message/rant precipitated by Stress, that conniving lackey of the ever-fickle Fate.

And so the car sputters and stalls...again. If only life came with a warranty.

Alas, there are no guarantees. No certainties. No assurances of security nor promises of prosperity.

There are no sure bets. Just one chapter after another full of unplanned narratives and unwelcomed plot twists.

Sometimes you find yourself stranded, or nearly so. The fast lane you once occupied is now traveled by others while you watch them pass in a blur. You pull off to the shoulder to minimize the risk of being run over. Sometimes it works; other times your luck runs out. All you can do is watch the sands fall in the hourglass and brace for impact.

Few things are as frustrating as being stranded - physically, emotionally, or financially. Even with warning signs of engine failure, the most intrepid souls plow ahead and hope for a smooth ride. Such is their foolhardy mistake.

The ride is rarely smooth.

Where is the AAA motor club for mid-life crises? Where is the roadside mechanic who will come to my aid and jumpstart my life?

Haven't I paid my dues?



"Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." - Ronald Reagan

The words of an American president. A Republican president. Yep, the Gipper was one helluva communicator. He could nail a line like nobody's business. That's still the problem with government these days: few politicians have a sense of responsibility. The sad truth is that the great majority of the attention-grabbing media whores (namely those on the Republican ticket) lack even a modicum of human decency.

Republicans heap scorn on the heads of liberal feminists who either exercise their right (or support another woman's legal right) to abort her unwanted fetus. Yet where is the public outcry over a woman who uses her children like pawns to advance her political agenda? Where is the collective uproar over Sarah Palin parading her children before the nation in a shamefully misguided attempt to bolster support for her party's platform: pro-life, pro-war, and abstinence-only sex ed? Mothers should be livid that the media continues to condone Palin's willingness to use - no, exploit - her children this way. An article in Salon.com yesterday wonders why more women aren't pissed about Palin. Speaking on behalf of my own gender: we are. Trust me, we are pissed. But there isn't much we can do about it. McSame's Bullshit Express has become a locomotive of lies barreling full-steam towards election day, leaving in its wake a country divided by derision, delusion, and deceit.

Palin has been carefully coached by the McSame campaign handlers (whose ranks include none other than Karl Rove) so it comes as no surprise that her teen daughter's unplanned pregnancy and eventually planned shotgun wedding was announced just prior to the Republican convention. That the governor's first televised media interview coincides with her oldest son's deployment to Iraq is also no surprise. Finally, her increased funding for special education programs in her home state seems most opportune considering her youngest child has Down Syndrome.

The shame is not that a mother has children whose circumstances test her sanity. There is no shame in having an unwed teenage daughter. There is certainly no shame in having a child with any form of mental or physical handicap. The unmitigated gall lies in parading said children as proof of your qualifications for the job you seek. Never mind requisite experience for the position if you have domestic proof of your ability to toe the party line. Seriously: where is the sense of decency in the Republican party?

Oh wait. Palin belongs to the party which has a lock on exploitation. Why the hell am I even surprised? The Republicans have turned September 11th into nothing more than political propaganda. They are experts in exploiting the pain of the nation and turning what should be a solemn remembrance (like Pearl Harbor Day) into an instrument of fearmongering.

They have no decency. They have no shame. And I have no respect, either for that party or for the mainstream media who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the bullshit spewed from the lying lips of those who wish to lead.


Mancunian Mercury!

"I've been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce..."

"Grounds for Divorce" from the 2008 album 'Seldom Seen Kid'

Kudos to another favourite U.K. band, Elbow, on winning the 2008 Mercury Prize. What is it about Manchester groups? What can I say? I'm a sucker for pensive lads with understated musical dexterity. Love this woefully overlooked band. Check 'em out if you haven't had the pleasure of their audio company...

Oh, what the hell. I can't stop with just one:

"Not a Job" from their equally stellar 2003 release 'Cast of Thousands'


boys in body bags...

Bush will announce Tuesday that he plans (that's the operative term - "plans") to bring home approximately 8,000 troops from Iraq this year. That's 8,000 too few and more than 4,000 too late. It's sad that our sorry president's unjustified war has claimed the lives of so many priceless American soldiers. It's a travesty that he sent many British soldiers to their early graves as well. From their latest release by the same name, here's James - one of my favorite U.K. bands - with their song "Hey Ma":

(I wanted to post an alternate video, but it won't embed.
It's sobering and worth seeing; view it here.)

James - "Hey Ma"

words & lyrics: Tim Booth & James © 2008

Now the towers have fallen
So much dust in the air
It affected your vision
Couldn't see yourself clear
From the fall came such choices
Even worse than the fall
There's this chain of consequences

Action cause and reaction
Never follows to plan
Black swans on your picnic table
Knocking over the jam

Please don't preach me forgiveness
You're hardwired for revenge
War is just about business

Hey ma the boys in body bags
Coming home in pieces
Hey ma the boys in body bags
Coming home in pieces
Hey ma the boys in body bags
Coming home in pieces
Coming home in pieces


The dead live on within us
(In the atoms we trust)
Keep your fingers crossed
We were choking on the smoke and the dust
And the lives that were lost
Scratch the surface of liberals
There's a beast underneath
Others hiding their Jekylls

Hey ma the boys in body bags
Coming home in pieces
Hey ma the boys in body bags
Coming home in pieces


I can feel the daylight
I can feel the daylight
Raining on me
Raining on me


cartoons: more GOP BS

Matt Davies, 09.04.08

Chris Britt, 09.03.08

Pat Oliphant 9.04.08

BS? Check, please!

This bumper sticker always gets me: "I want YOU...to wake up. To wake others up. Think for yourself." OK, then. Here goes...

Since the GOP can't seem to keep their facts straight, allow me to repost a rather helpful article - from the mainstream media, of all places (shhh...you can almost hear the collective gasp of the Republican party faithful!) Kudos to AP writer Jim Kuhnhenn for saving us all the trouble of having to fact-check the newly-crowned Daring Duo of Right Wing Propaganda.

First, here's the link:


By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 3, 11:48 PM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.


Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.