Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Y: The Last Man


Brian Vaughan's Y: The Last Man, a Vertigo graphic novel series in which all men except one die of what may be a mysterious bioagent, continues with Book 4: Safeword. According to DC Comics,
...the story takes a detour into the psychological.
In the care of a fellow Culper Ring member, Yorick Brown is forced to confront his tremendous feelings of survivor guilt that lead him to constantly put his life in danger.
The characters are likeable (or hateable), the plot is riveting, and the movie is going to be made by New Line Cinema.

A Memory of My Melancholy Whores



A Memory of My Melancholy Whores is the English title of what may be Gabriel Garcia Marquez's last novella. The English translation will be out next year. From the Guardian Unlimited:

No doubt, debate will focus on whether the story, which centres on the love of a 90-year-old man for a 14-year-old girl, is pornography or a love story. It explores, in its muted way, ideas about time, love, sex and death familiar to readers of his earlier books. There are elements recognisable, too, from his own fabulated life - brothels, tropical heat, a house full of ghosts and a fondness for European culture in a continent better defined by boleros. But, in the end, Memoria de mis putas tristes is, more than anything, a fairy tale: sentimental, unforgiving, wise, ironic and twisted.


mp3s - Pidgeon


This photo has nothing to do the Pidgeon, the band. I just liked it.

San Francisco's Pidgeon make driven guitar rock that sounds a lot like the Pixies. According to their website, they "have three guitarists if you don't call the bass a guitar (four if you do), one singer, one singer/screamer, and one screamer." They also "try to write catchy songs but not 'I've-heard-that-before' catchy."

Here's Down, from their July release, From Gutter With Love, featuring vocal harmonizing in the Black Francis/Kim Deal tradition, underlaid with surging, assertive rhythm guitar.

Get more Pidgeon here. Pidgeon generously puts out for you.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Personality Test

Paragraphs stolen from a New Yorker article here.

In the evenings, he could often be found sitting by the fireplace in the living room of his commanding officer, sipping tea and listening to Tchaikovsky. As a boy, he once saw his father kill a hawk and had been repulsed. When he went into active service, he wrote a friend to say that he had no feelings of hate, and did not think he could ever kill anyone out of hatred. He had none of the swagger of the natural warrior. He worked hard and had a strong sense of duty.

In the second week of January, the Japanese attacked, slipping hundreds of snipers through the American lines, climbing into trees, turning the battlefield into what Reck calls a "gigantic possum hunt." On the morning of January 12th, [Sandy] Nininger went to his commanding officer. He wanted, he said, to be assigned to another company, one that was in the thick of the action, so he could go hunting for Japanese snipers.

He took several grenades and ammunition belts, slung a Garand rifle over his shoulder, and grabbed a submachine gun. Starting at the point where the fighting was heaviest-near the position of the battalion's K Company-he crawled through the jungle and shot a Japanese soldier out of a tree. He shot and killed snipers. He threw grenades into enemy positions. He was wounded in the leg, but he kept going, clearing out Japa-nese positions for the other members of K Company, behind him. He soon ran out of grenades and switched to his rifle, and then, when he ran out of ammunition, used only his bayonet. He was wounded a second time, but when a medic crawled toward him to help bring him back behind the lines Nininger waved him off. He saw a Japanese bunker up ahead. As he leaped out of a shell hole, he was spun around by a bullet to the shoulder, but he kept charging at the bunker, where a Japanese officer and two enlisted men were dug in. He dispatched one soldier with a double thrust of his bayonet, clubbed down the other, and bayonetted the officer. Then, with outstretched arms, he collapsed face down. For his heroism, Nininger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first American soldier so decorated in the Second World War.


Suppose that you were a senior Army officer in the early days of the Second World War and were trying to put together a crack team of fearless and ferocious fighters. Sandy Nininger, it now appears, had exactly the right kind of personality for that assignment, but is there any way you could have known this beforehand? It clearly wouldn't have helped to ask Nininger if he was fearless and ferocious, because he didn't know that he was fearless and ferocious.

...What you need is some kind of sophisticated psychological instrument, capable of getting to the heart of his personality.

Arcade Fire Streams

CBC Radio 3 has live, shit-hot Arcade Fire streams. I hope you have good speakers. The music deserves more then that tinny work-desktop sound. If you already have Funeral, that doesn't excuse you from needing to hear this. The music is more urgent heard this way. It's comparable to the difference between the studio tracks on War and the ones on Live Under a Blood Red Sky. And their cover of the Talking Heads' Naive Melody is brilliant.

link via largehearted boy.

Lhasa

Sometimes I wonder how things slip by me, like the January release from Lhasa de Sela, The Living Road. I came across the Lhasa audio player just clicking around, and immediately wondered how I missed something this good. It wasn't all that quietly released--there were reviews from the BBC and the Guardian. It makes me wonder...what else did I miss??

It's her second release, a follow-up to her 1997(!) debut, La Llorana. Her voice reminds me of Nico, but she sounds sexy and mysterious, rather then learned and cold, especially when singing in French or Spanish. Not to say that she doesn't sound cool; her spare, ghostly songs would be right at home in any Tarantino film. Her lyrics are as poetic as the Velvet Underground's. From Anywhere On This Road: My heart is breaking / I cannot sleep / I love a man / who's afraid of me / he believes if he doesn't / stand guard with a knife / I'll make him my slave / for the rest of his life (lyrics from a rootsworld interview).

Here's para el fin, an mp3 from her site at Impresaria.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Correction to JEM

So I've been told I posted the wrong song again. The Jem song is really the Jem song now. It's been a while. I think I'm a little rusty. Thanks, Keokster. I'm thankful for you.

Thanksgiving Musings

This time every year you're told to sit down and count your blessings....figure out what you're thankful for. Good idea...I'm thankful for my wife, my son, my family and hers. John-John and Tom-Tom. The inventor of indoor plumbing and the guy who invented scented candles and toilet bowl cleaners. I'm thankful for Peter Jackson, Wes Anderson, the spectre of a new Star Wars movie, Johnny Depp who can obviously do no wrong lately. Pixar, Pixar, Pixar, Pixar, Pixar....and PIXAR! The Polar Express in a theater with a digital projector. I'm thankful for America, warts and all! As Homer says, "If you don't like it, MOVE TO RUSSIA." or stay here and bitch because you can do that in America without threat of decapitation or some sort of torture. I'm also thankful for Homer and the rest of the Simpsons which as my friend Tom says is, "The greatest TV show ever!" and i'd have to agree. U2, the Shins, the soundtrack to the Incredibles which also makes you thankful for John Barry and all of his classic Bond soundtracks. I'm thankful for the resurrection of ROCK....Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Interpol and although not considered rock i'm thankful for the great side project that is The Postal Service. Opposable thumbs, mock turtlenecks, boxer briefs and Vanilla Mint toothpaste that although not ADA approved is still pretty cool. My wifes turkey which she soaked in a brine for 48 hours and was so friggin awesome, is also something i'm thankful for....hmmmm I think that's it. I'm sure i'm missing something but these are the things I'm thinking of right now. What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 26, 2004

Paris Review Interviews

The Paris Review has made serious improvements to their website, generously adding entire stories, poems, and their long-awaited DNA of Literature series of interviews with important writers. Go there and be impressed.

mp3s - Walkmen, Jem



I got these off the O.C. Mix 2, of all places. Jem Lennonizes McCartney's Maybe I'm Amazed, turning it into a softer, more intimate tune. A live performance of Little House of Savages by the Walkmen will tickle your rhythm bone, and make you twitch.

Jem - Maybe I'm Amazed (mp3)
The Walkmen - Little House of Savages (live) (mp3)

By the way, Rachel Bilson has a fan site here. For losers, only.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New Shins Website

The Shins' new site is up and running, in case you didn't know.

On an unrelated note, San Antonio is usually a great place to visit, but avoid it during monsoon season. I've never been wetter than I have in the last 2 weeks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

New U2 ....Always A Good Thing!

You can got to MTV.Com and listen to the new U2 album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, in it's entirety. Very cool.

Friday, November 12, 2004

San Antone, Again

I'm going to San Antonio for a while again...I'll be back on the 24th. The Keoki, Sugie Duck, and maybe even litmaven will keep you company.

Until then,

Canowine.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

How I Will Die

...According to the Edward Gorey Death Predictor Quiz.

*Slosh*
You will sink in a mire. You like to think you're
normal, but deep down you really just want to
strip off your clothes and roll around in
chicken fat.


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla
Thank you for your courage and service.



mp3 - Adagio for Strings, from Platoon.

We Never Know
by Yusef Komunyakaa, from ibiblio.

He danced with tall grass
for a moment, like he was swaying
with a woman. Our gun barrels
glowed white-hot.
When I got to him,
a blue halo
of flies had already claimed him.
I pulled the crumbed photograph
from his fingers.
There's no other way
to say this: I fell in love.
The morning cleared again,
except for a distant mortar
& somewhere choppers taking off.
I slid the wallet into his pocket
& turned him over, so he wouldn't be
kissing the ground.

Listen

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Baywatch Movie



Coming soon. Featuring action, adventure, romance, and half a ton of silicone. Yippee.

mp3 - The Black Keys - Till I Get My Way



Miyagi-san say: Either you rock hard yes or you rock hard no. Never rock hard so-so. Get crush like grape.

From The Black Keys' 2004 release, Rubber Factory:
Till I Get My Way

Stressbuster 3



The diversion of the day is the Punk-O-Matic. You choose your licks, riffs, and drum solos, and when to play them, put it all together and hit "play," and watch the band play the punk composition that YOU created.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Persuaders

I just finished watching Douglas Rushkoff's Frontline episode, "The Persuaders," which covers the advertising process, the psychology of marketing, and marketing in politics. If you missed it, you can watch it online, starting this Friday, here.

From the interview with Frank Luntz, Republican political consultant/syntax-meister (boldface mine):

What about replacing "global warming" with "climate change?"

What is the difference? It is climate change. Some people call it global warming; some people call it climate change. What is the difference?

Look, for years, political people and lawyers -- who, by the way, are the worst communicators -- used the phrase "estate tax." And for years they couldn't eliminate it. The public wouldn't support it because the word "estate" sounds wealthy. Someone like me comes around and realizes that it's not an estate tax, it's a death tax, because you're taxed at death. And suddenly something that isn't viable achieves the support of 75 percent of the American people. It's the same tax, but nobody really knows what an estate is. But they certainly know what it means to be taxed when you die. I argue that is a clarification; that's not an obfuscation.

The language of America changed with the election of Bill Clinton, because with all due respect to my friends on the Republican side, Bill Clinton is the best communicator of the last 50 years. He felt your pain. Now, I'd argue that he caused your pain, but at least he felt it while he was causing it. When Bill Clinton spoke, his words were so good, and they were spoken with such passion. And that biting of the lower lip and the squinching of the eyes -- you just couldn't turn away. Bill Clinton made Frank Luntz because Bill Clinton discovered the power and the influence of words. Now, I'd like to think that I apply them to clients, to philosophies, to products and services and corporations that I believe in, that are good. I don't argue with you that words can sometimes be used to confuse, but it's up to the practitioners of the study of language to apply them for good and not for evil. It is just like fire; fire can heat your house or burn it down.


Good point on the "estate tax" to "death tax" metamorphosis. But the word "death" is so connotative, it carries so much emotion and baggage, that using the word itself creates a cloud of negativity in the subconscious. Placement of "death" next to "tax" -- no explanation or definition needed. Instant repulsion.

Equally fascinating was the story of how a psychiatrist taps into the unconscious minds of focus groups to find the "reptilian" impulse that makes us buy things. This is the guy who told automobile companies to make their SUVs bigger (think HUMMER) if they want to sell products, because the reptilian desire for an SUV is really a desire for domination.

The Muse in a Milliamp

Having trouble digging your way through that massive, dense writer's block that obscures your face from all creative light? Blast it away with science.

From Wired:

Sending a weak electrical impulse through the front of a person's head can boost verbal skills by as much as 20 percent, according to a new study by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

...The only side effect reported was an itching or "fizzing" sensation around the scalp where the electrode was attached.

Whoah.


From the Seattle Times:
In the future, reality shows may have names such as "Extreme Makeover: Brain Edition" or "Sharp Eye for the Dumb Guy."...Some neurologists recently have wondered whether their field is the next frontier in elective medicine. The specialty now tries to protect ailing brains from conditions such as Parkinson's disease or migraine headaches. But doctors' efforts one day may extend to normal brains. There's even a name for the field: cosmetic neurology.


link via ALDaily

Stressbuster 2

My friend "Slim" Clady tells me that he likes to spank the monkey to take off the edge.

mp3 - Mosquitos - Dream Awake

Here's a little love song from the Mosquitos. This is for Julie. You know you're in love when you can spend the night quietly watching someone sleep.

Mosquitos - Dream Awake (mp3)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Frank Black Live mp3s

32 songs from a typical marathon performance, here.

Link via Largehearted Boy.

John Peel - The Autobiography

The autobiography that John Peel began last year may now be completed by his wife, Sheila. Story in the Guardian.

mp3 - The Forty-Fives & The Reverend Horton Heat

There's no better way to start the week than with a little revival rock.



The Forty-Fives - Superpill (mp3), from High Life High Volume (2004)
Ignore the blue pill and the red pill. If you want to escape your own private gray cubicle-saturated Matrix, the Superpill was made for you.




The Reverend Horton Heat - Indigo Friends (mp3)

The Rev still preaches the Gretsch gospel with a little brimstone and a whole lotta fire.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Wyeth in Watercolor

From the Boston Globe:

Long before Andrew Wyeth became the painter of ''Christina's World" and other sentimental, calendar-ready icons, he was a great watercolorist -- many would say the greatest American working in that medium since Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.

Consider the 1934 ''In the Church Yard," whose paper looks so drenched that you could still wring moisture out of it. Stand close and admire the way the colors bleed into each other; stand back, and the image comes into clearer focus. Fresh and free, the work is imbued with a sense of mysticism courtesy of a traditional device -- a diagonal shaft of light falling from the sky.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Episode III Teaser Trailer And A Spoilerific Game Trailer TOO!!!

By now most of you have seen the Episode III teaser trailer...but Lucasarts has just released a trailer for the Episode III Video Game. It actually has more story spoilers than the movie trailer. And just for the record, when did video games start having trailers?

Elliott Smith mp3s - Live Beatles Covers

Elliott Smith's From a Basement on the Hill is one of my two favorite albums of this year, along with The Arcade Fire's Funeral. Smith was an unapologetic Beatles fan, and that influence is evident in the new album's quieter songs, more than anything he has recorded in the past. "Let's Get Lost" opens suspiciously like "Mother Nature's Son," and features Harrison-style arpeggios. You've heard piano turnarounds like those in "Pretty (Ugly Before)" in Lennon's "Jealous Guy." "Memory Lane" begins with a fingerpicked descent along the fretboard that evokes "Blackbird."

This is not to say that the album is derivative of the White Album-era Beatles. Elliott Smith's personality comes through your speakers and touches you, and you feel an intimate despair that you never got from the Beatles. Listening to Basement is more like listening to the downtrodden Beck's Sea Change. In "Let's Get Lost," he sings, Burning every bridge that I cross/To find some beautiful place to get lost, and in "King's Crossing," he foreshadows his suicide: I can't prepare for death any more than I already have...All you can do now is watch the shells/The game looks easy, that's why it sells.

His guitar work has always been brilliant, but on Basement it's downright arresting. Listen to him strum, fingerpick, bend, and slide on his album. It's still available for preview here.

He really sounds like the Beatles here:
Elliott Smith - For No One (Live Beatles Cover)
Elliott Smith - Jealous Guy (Live Lennon Cover)

Listen to 'From a Basement': Elliott Smith's Posthumous Gift, on the making of From a Basement On the Hill, from NPR's All Things Considered.

Listen to a review of Elliott Smith's career in the j-files archive.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The National Divide

Think we've got an unbridgable rift between left and right in the U.S., as a result of recent partisan politicking? Imagine the 1800 election between Adams and Jefferson:

Federalists slashed Jefferson as a "fanatic," a "spendthrift" and a "libertine," whose election would unleash an orgy of "murder, robbery, rape, and incest." Jefferson's unorthodox religious opinions especially incited the Federalists. No one knew, a Connecticut paper asserted, "whether Mr. Jefferson believes in the heathen mythology, or in the alcoran [the Koran], whether he is a Jew or a Christian, whether he believes in one God or many or in none at all." The choice for every American, another Federalist paper proclaimed, was simple and stark: "Shall I continue in allegiance to GOD -- AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; or impiously declare for Jefferson and no god!!!"

And,

Adams was handled almost as roughly. A Republican paper in New York called him "a person without patriotism, without philosophy, and a mock monarch." A Philadelphia editor declared him "old, bald, blind, querulous, toothless, crippled."

How could our Founding Fathers allow this to happen in our electoral process?

The drafters of the Constitution ran out of energy and imagination when they got to the method for choosing presidents, and their lapse has haunted America ever since. The Founders initially hoped to craft a government above parties, which they considered evil manifestations of the corruption in British politics that had provoked the colonies to separate from England in 1776. And because they wanted a government without parties, they expected the electoral college to serve as a screening committee for the numerous favorite sons the states would doubtless put forward -- as well as a check on the popular passions that might give rise to partisanship. The electors, Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 68, would be the men "most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations," and by employing them, the country would "afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder." ...But parties emerged almost at once...


Imagine if they ran against each other today. I think Jefferson would be toast against any contender, with "family values" and "moral issues" so important to churchgoing voters.

Who would you vote for?

Article here. More...More...More...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

mp3 - Poole - Oregon



Poole is one of those very good pop bands that came and went, completely missing the indie revolution. Their first album, Alaska Days (1995), has 11 guitar-based gems that have as many catchy hooks as any album you can name. Here's Oregon, track 8 from Alaska Days. It climaxes with an organ solo that will set you free.

The UItimate Stressbuster

Having a rough day at work?

Just get dumped by the love of your life?

You need to play The Kill Bill Game. It will make you feel better.

Star Wars: RotS Teaser Trailer

It's out today. Here's where you can watch it:

The Official Site: Hyperspace members will have exclusive access to a high-quality Quicktime version of the teaser in "early afternoon (U.S.) of November 4."

AOL Users: Since AOL/Moviefone will be hosting the trailer for download on their servers, we've received reports that AOL subscribers will have access to some version of the teaser (unknown of what quality) at 1 pm EST.

Total Request Live! The MTV program will have the first televised airing at 5 pm EST on November 4th.

Access Hollywood: The next televised viewing will occur on the syndicated Hollywood news program during Thursday, November 4th's evening broadcast. Check local listings for your time and channel.

(The Force.net)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Incredibles

The Incredibles is completely FANTASTIC!!! Even better than we thought it would be, and we had high expectations. Brilliant on every level. First, technically. With the improvements in animation technology, other studios are not as far behind Pixar as they used to be. So the technical achievments of The Incredibles will not blow your mind as much as, say, A Bug's Life did when it came out. The major advance in The Incredibles is the hair. On the male characters it still isn't perfect (short hair is really hard to get right because you can usually see some scalp showing through that you wouldn't in real life), but on the females it is AWESOME. You MUST see this movie in the theater, the greatness of the hair doesn't come through on the tv screen.

Pixar has also improved the movements on their people models, the motions look more natural. It's still not perfect (this is probably the hardest thing to get perfect in 3d and nobody has achieved it yet). But there are some perfect little moments, like at one point the mother is on the phone and pushes a lock of hair behind her ear and it is just right.

Another reason to see The Incredibles in the theater: the scene layouts and the color schemes. Lots of absolutely great, epic screen compositions. Some striking similarities to Sky Captain, in the city designs and the tropical island theme. Unlike Dreamworks, neither Pixar nor the folks behind Sky Captain seem like the type to plagiarize, so probably the similarites are due to using the same 1930s design influences. The color schemes in The Incredibles are genius. Could not be improved upon, the best of any Pixar movie yet. We're can't wait to see pastel "color script" drawings in The Art of the Incredibles book. (Damn you Amazon for not having a Look Inside for this book!)

As amazing as The Incredibles is technically, the script was even better. First, it was hilarious, the costume designer character in particular. Second, the character development was amazing. The family relationships are perfect. The way each character feels and reacts to things is so right. And most brilliant was the way the character traits were incorporated into each individual's superpowers, and even their feelings about being superheros. As much as we love Pixar, we have noticed that their movies were starting to fall into a rut: for each theme (toys, bugs, monsters, fish) the gimmick was that being toys or whatever was the characters' jobs and the setup would involve all these human workplace analogies. We were afraid The Incredibles would do the same thing, but thankfully it doesn't. The film goes much deeper. So much deeper that after a while we started to worry that it would be over kids' heads. But the children in the theater were engrossed the whole time. If you have a little boy, he will LOVE Dash, who is just the typical hyper little boy. Pixar is giving a huge gift to parents because when the DVD comes out, this is one movie that you will actually WANT to watch a gazillion times in a row.

We are so happy for Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles, whose Iron Giant was critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful. He deserves every ounce of vindication and success that The Incredibles will bring.

Hillary Beats Dick

...in 2008.

Now that the people have answered the last big question, the next one is: Cheney or Hillary in 2008? Unless the law is changed and Arnold runs...

Bumper stickers go on sale soon...

Real Women Talk About "Desperate Housewives"

The Christian Science Monitor interviewed "ordinary" suburban mothers about the ABC show based on the premise that all women lead lives of quiet desperation.



mp3s - Patricia Barber



I love Patricia Barber's mysterious alto. If shadows had voices, they would sound something like her. I also love her controlled, yet edgy piano and guitar arrangements. She seduces you into a rhythm, and then surprises you with an unexpected slide or rest. Most of all, I love her smart songwriting. Listen to her with headphones.

mp3s From

Verse (2002):
Clues
I Could Eat Your Words

Live: A Fortnight In France (2004)
Gotcha
Company (live outtake)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Tarantino's Kung Fu is Better Than Yours

"Inglorious Bastards" is in the queue. Tarantino's next film will be a kung fu flick in Mandarin. News story here.

Monday, November 01, 2004

mp3s- Bow Wow Wow vs. Pretty Girls Make Graves



Remember when "ripping" meant placing the original cassette in Deck 1 of your "box," and placing a C-90 from your $1 3-pack into Deck 2, pushing "play" on Deck 1 and "record" on Deck 2? Maybe you taped "I Want Candy" from Bow-Wow-Wow.

Here's a tribute to those days. Bow Wow Wow's C-30, C-60, C-90, Go! is on The Best of Bow Wow Wow (1989 or 1996), and the Pretty Girls Make Graves cover is on Matador at 15.

mp3's - C-30 C-60 C-90 Go!:
Bow Wow Wow version
Pretty Girls Make Graves version

Rumsfeld's Rise and the Generals' Demise

If you missed the Frontline episode on Donald Rumsfeld's rise(s) to power, you can still watch it here. Learn about his struggles with congress, Colin Powell, and the Pentagon.

Also, 60 Minutes had a segment on ill-equipped soldiers in Iraq. If you saw the episode, you were as disgusted as I was. Soldiers are forced to drive plywood-armored vehicles through the streets of Baghdad?? Didn't we approve $87 billion "for the troops" last year? The check must still be in the mail. Where is the disconnect? This Veterans' Day, think of those who served valiantly in Vietnam, WWII, and the other wars and conflicts, but pray for the courageous men and women who are short-handedly doing their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Five Books of Moses

Robert Alter's new translation of the Five Books of Moses, otherwise known as the Torah, or Pentateuch, is reviewed in the NYT Book Review, by Dirda in the Washington Post Book World, and by John Updike in the New Yorker.

Dirda praises:

In his superbly attentive translation of the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), he has set himself a demanding three-part task: to translate every word of the Hebrew without fudging; to maintain, as befits the ancient text, a properly serious tone; and to provide useful commentary on key phrases, textual cruxes, and what he has called, in an earlier book, the art of biblical narrative. This makes reading his version of the Torah -- the Hebrew name for what Christians sometimes call the Pentateuch -- thrilling and constantly illuminating: After the still, small voices of so many tepid modern translations, here is a whirlwind.


Judith Shulevitz of the NYT also exalts Alter:

What Alter does with the Bible instead is read it, with erudition and rigor and respect for the intelligence of the editor or editors who stitched it together, and -- most thrillingly -- with the keenest receptivity to its darker undertones.


Updike laments:

Why should not Alter’s version, its program so richly contemplated and persuasively outlined, become the definitive one, replacing not only the King James but the plethora of its revised, uninspired, and “accessible” versions on the shelf?

Several reasons why not, in the course of my reading through this massive tome (sold sturdily boxed, as if to support its weight), emerged. The sheer amount of accompanying commentary and philological footnotes is one of them...It is difficult for the reader, given the overload of elucidation imposed upon the basic text, to maintain much momentum...


and

Reading through this book, or five books, is a wearying, disorienting, and at times revelatory experience. Our interest trends downhill.


Looks to me like a must-buy for every bibliophile.

Ted Prus Would Vote For Kerry...If He Voted

False dilemma is a logical fallacy.

From Gene Weingarten's "None of the Above," in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine, a Muskegon, Michigan man elects not to vote:

...I point out that if Ted favors Kerry but doesn't vote, he's really voting for Bush. Ted doesn't see it that way. The way he sees it, a vote for either man is a vote for a liar, a member of the privileged class who will promise whatever it takes to get your vote and then do whatever it takes to keep the country safe for the privileged class. Screw 'em all.

What about voting as a moral issue? The only moral issue, Ted says, is the immorality of the guys asking for our votes: "I feel fine about myself. I can look at myself in the mirror and not feel bad about not voting."


It turns out that only half of the total U.S. population registered to vote turn out to do so. This year, only about 60 percent of registered voters are expected to go to the polls.

In short, there is no political force more to be reckoned with, no constituency potentially more influential, no voting bloc potentially mightier, than those who are too lazy or indifferent or disaffected or angry to go to the polls. The candidate of a Nonvoters Party would win in a cakewalk. You know, theoretically.

The voice of their silence is deafening. It may be, as some studies suggest, that their political preferences would mirror those of voters, anyway. But the sheer number of nonvoters is so great that, in a close election, even the most minuscule difference in their pattern of preference could be decisive. If only they would vote.



The article is an interesting read, but don't let the photographs and Weingarten's verbal imagery fool you into thinking that Muskegon is a trailer-trash town:
Muskegon is a hurtin' place. Its downtown is desolate, the most impressive landmark being a pair of enormous sand dunes, six stories high, in an empty lot right across from the tattoo parlor. They're pulverized concrete, all that remains of a downtown mall that was returned into dust after the businesses fled for the 'burbs.


What crap.

I visit Muskegon several times every year. It's a beautiful city on Lake Michigan with uncrowded beaches and friendlier people than Weingarten's Washington, D.C. It seems that Weingarten intended to paint the picture already imprinted on his mental canvas before leaving D.C.: unsophisticated, culturally challenged Nascar fans in a small town with nothing to do but drink beer and watch TV. Come on. You don't have to fly out to another state to find those people, Gene. You see them every morning, two feet away from you, as you drive five miles per hour in our rush hour traffic.