Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Lists, Lists, Lists

metacritic: Music: Best of 2003

With only a day and a half remaining in 2003, here are several more lists to compare with mine.

My own list, it must be said again, may come up for review after a particularly fruitful holiday CD season. New additions to the collection include these (the first six are from 2003):
The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow
Guster: Keep It Together
The Minus 5: Down With Wilco
Rooney: Rooney
The Jealous Sound: Kill Them With Kindness
David Sedaris: Live At Carnegie Hall
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain
The White Stripes: The White Stripes
The White Stripes: De Stijl
Joni Mitchell: Blue
Bruce Springsteen: Tracks
Radiohead: Airbag/How Am I Driving?
Rufus Wainwright: Poses
Rufus Wainwright: Rufus Wainwright

Interested in hearing more about any of these? Let me know. I'm also waiting for delivery of Spymob's Sitting Around Keeping Score. If you'd like to hear samples, visit www.spymob.com.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Perhaps Ever

Gephardt: Bush Worst President of Last 5

I'm not voting for Gephardt in the primary, but I admire him and I like his gumption. On the list of bad presidents all time, I wonder where W would rank? Grant and Nixon and Harding are three that come to mind as ever worse.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Happy Holidays

This site will be pretty quiet the next several days. After today, I don't go back to work until January 2nd, after which I'll be spending eight days in Maui. I hope this means I'll see many of the people who read this in the coming days, but whether I do or not, I wish all of you a very happy holiday.

You can still find the Top Ten* Albums of 2003 List at 290MUSIC, and sometime in the next few days I'll try to post a review of the year's best movie so far at 290MOVIES.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Red, Red, Red

Analysts: Future Budget Outlook Gloomy

This article gives a pretty good quick overview of the coming fiscal doom we're facing in the United States. What it doesn't say is this: the fastest way to make it go away is to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--to take the government out of the business of taking care of its citizens in vital ways. And that's just what the Republican road is leading toward...


Cities covet young urban single professionals

Apparently Minneapolis was using me and continues to use my friends who live there. This article brings to light something I've often noticed--single, childless folks are quite the lucrative business opportunity for other people, evidently including municipalities. They pay more than their share of taxes in exchange for less than their share of services. Is it any wonder cities want them to move in?

Friday, December 19, 2003

Yeah, That'll End the Curse

Famous Foul Ball to Be Destroyed by Chicago Fan

I can't imagine paying $106,000 for a baseball, much less one I planned to destroy. Maybe they'll feed it to a goat in the middle of Wrigley Field. I'm sure that will help the Cubs win the pennant more than signing a decent catcher.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Big Surprise

Paris Hilton Beats Bush in TV Ratings

What a patriotic fervor we've all been whipped into over Saddam's capture. Maybe everyone did what I did and read the interview transcript online. While reading Bush's words is an adventure, actually watching and listening to him say them, and remembering, "That guy is running the free world," gives me nightmares.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

At Last

'Return of the King' Promises Big Box Office Ring

To think, people once considered this an epic gamble on the part of New Line Cinema. Today it looks like an epic masterpiece.

Use the comments below to talk about when you're seeing the movie and what you thought of it once you do see it. I won't be seeing it until Sunday night when I get back from Minnesota, so try not to ruin any surprises!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Bush Appears to Open Door to Same-Sex Unions

This can't be true, can it? Is Bush moderating the view of the party? If he does, there's no going back...

Perhaps he's decided this is an issue that's going to end up running the table in the end, and he can nip it in the bud if he draws the line between civil unions and marriage and says this far, but no further. I'm curious to see if the White House backpedals from this; it's sure to raise questions in the briefing room.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Second Opinion

Till My Head Falls Off

Not satisfied with my Top Ten* Albums list? Check out the site above for a review of the year's best CDs by music guru Paul V. Allen.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Short and Sweet

A review of Steve Martin's new book, The Pleasure of My Company, has been posted at 290BOOKS.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Top Ten* Albums of 2003

At long last, here it is: my list of my favorite ten (eleven, actually--hence the asterisk) albums released in 2003. Due to the fact that the holiday season inevitably brings more CDs my way, you can anticipate that this list will be shaken up and revised at least once in the coming year, but for now, here it is! (It is also available at 290MUSIC, where it will be front and center for a good long while, probably into 2004.)

1. Rufus Wainwright, Want One

This is part of a planned pair—Want Two is due next year—so it’s possible that in a few months I’ll have some second thoughts about Wainwright’s decision to cleave his bombastic efforts in two. On the other hand, W2 is supposedly the darker and more experimental half of the material from the sessions, so the division may have been an apt one.

Either way, Want One earns its spot on the list for several qualities. It’s consistently good—there are songs that are better, but none that beg to be skipped. The slowest songs are the shortest, maintaining a flow that carries the album along. The best song of all, “Go or Go Ahead,” is the longest, over six minutes of outburst that weaves myth and madness into a stunning package of sonic bliss. A microcosm for the album as a whole, the song builds for more than two minutes before erupting.

Lyrically dense, the album starts out in near nonsense territory with the repetitions of “Oh What a World” and builds to the poignant “Dinner at Eight,” an almost tear-inducing finale that acknowledges Rufus’s mixed feelings about his abandonment by his famous father. “I Don’t Know What It Is” and “Movies of Myself” belong on Top 40 radio, where they could oust less intelligent pop; “11:11” sounds silly at first but makes profound the words “ I was alive.” Born of personal experience and genetically inherited musical genius, Wainwright’s latest is the finest album of 2003.

2. Kathleen Edwards, Failer

This spot should belong to Lucinda Williams, but she met her match this year in a young Canadian with stories to tell that sound more naked and real than the over-imagined, over-wrought fare on World Without Tears. Failer is a remarkable triumph for a brand-new artist, and should have earned at least a Grammy nod in that category. It sounds like a northern winter and stings just as hard. It’s wry and self-effacing; witness track two, written at the last minute to add a tenth song to the album and one of the best songs on a record filled with them, called “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like.” She doesn’t sound like radio—she’s too good for that. I feel sorry for Kathleen Edwards. She’s got a tough task ahead of her trying to top this first effort.

3. Ryan Adams, Love is Hell, 1+2

There was a time, long ago, when artists did this: they’d write, record, and release tons of songs every year, building up impressive catalogs instead of touring until the fourth or fifth single played itself out and deigning to drop an album every third year or so. In that respect, Adams is heir to the Beatles and early Dylan, delivering quantity and quality at the same time. So it should come as no surprise that he now follows in their footsteps in other ways, placing two albums in one year’s top ten.

We start with his two-EP set, Love is Hell. Recorded as the official follow-up to 2001’s brilliant Gold, then jettisoned by his record company, Lost Highway, Adams considers this his truest artistic statement, and that seems like a fair self-assessment. It’s a beautifully written album, and Adams sings like he means every word.

The title track is rollicking fun, followed by a cover of “Wonderwall” that stakes a claim for Adams as its new owner, even in the eyes of its writer, Noel Gallagher of Oasis. There’s a splendid and wistful sadness in “This House is Not For Sale,” a song that’s actually about ghosts in their old house—sounds weird, but it really works. Adams can carry off an up-tempo tune as well, bringing Part 1 nearly to a close with “World War 24.” The final song, “Avalanche,” fades out beautifully, wrapping up the first EP so that it would stand well on its own as an eight-song album.

Instead, the second EP continues the mood of the first, though it is clearly a different side of the same record. (The full album has been issued on vinyl, which is what qualified it to be considered as a single entity.) With “Please Do Not Let Me Go” we discover the real impetus for such a sad work—the death of a close friend. This vein of tribute-thought continues on “City Rain, City Streets,” tumbles into “I See Monsters,” and completes a three-four-five punch on “English Girls Approximately.” The latter lifts the mood musically just in time, jangling with the flair Adams displayed on Gold, but even here the lyrics are sad, as the girl Adams loves says she doesn’t love him.

Overall, Love is Hell is a remarkable album. It changes setting halfway through—EP 1 seems to “take place” mostly in a rural setting, while EP 2 is more urban—but it holds together as one record. Its depth of emotion and the variety of tempo and instrumentation choices Adams makes to surround his weighty material make it worth having as a whole. It would be tough to divide it, in any case: the best material on each EP is sandwiched in its center, giving the overall album a good balance. Turns out you can be prolific and make coherent albums. May other artists take note.

4. Annie Lennox, Bare

The queen of broken glass is back with music that sounds like it—or, perhaps, like ice. This confessional, lyrically downbeat album is set to the logical electro-dance continuation of Annie’s old Eurhythmics music, and the results are fantastic. Highlights like “Pavement Cracks” and “Bitter Pill” soar as Lennox shows off the voice that made Diva an appropriate title for her last original album, while “Twisted” brings the album nearly to a close with an incredibly emotional remembrance: “I remember every word you said to me,” “I remember everything you did to me”—these phrases speak volumes, simplifying feelings that the music and voice convey until the depth of the anger and bitter regret behind them is almost painful. The album ends with the song that nearly kept it off this list, and now brings it back, “Oh God (Prayer).” Annie quietly confesses that she doubts God is watching over or listening to her, then bursts “But if you hear me” and begs for the help she needs to make it through, and the results…damn. They’re beautiful.

5. White Stripes, Elephant

“Seven Nation Army” describes the sound of this critics’ darling as well as its first song. How can two people, with no technology to help them, make a sound this big, this good? The album plays to strength after strength. Jack White sounds like Robert Plant on the Zeppelin-esque songs and like some classic crooner on the pitch-perfect “I Want to Be the Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart.” There are a few lulls among the fourteen tracks, but the album starts and finishes strongly enough to find its way back into the player over and over, a feat few 2003 releases achieved.

6. Ryan Adams, Rock N Roll

Ryan Adams’ response to the current state of rock—especially pals The Strokes and the White Stripes—plays like a greatest hits album for a career he hasn’t pursued at all. Often accused of faulty quality control, Adams has made a short album that never slows down long enough to question its quality at all. It wasn’t the album he wanted to make—look above for that—but we’re lucky Lost Highway pinned him into a corner. Having this album is a very good thing.

7. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers

There’s so much more to this album that the hilarious “Stacy’s Mom.” In fact, too much—at 16 tracks, it drags by one or two. But it’s catchy and smart—the songs sound like ear candy but turn out deep, satisfying your sweet tooth and your need for intellectual stimulus. “All Kinds of Time” is a clever song that turns out to be about a quarterback seeing the field in a new way, while “Fire Island” is a nice musing on teenage mischief. And “Halley’s Waitress” is funny and relatable—“Darling, don’t you know we miss you when you’re gone?” Who hasn’t gone from wanting to order coffee and dessert to twisting in your seat to hail the waitress for the check and paying cash to avoid another long wait? Fountains of Wayne tie into these common experiences and make them live. They have just the right blend of wit and guitars to pull it off.

8. Radiohead, Hail to the Thief

So brilliant, so easy to forget. That’s the verdict on the new Radiohead, it seems. This CD rode around with me for months, and it still lives in my head—or parts of it do. “2+2=5” is the perfect opener for an album whose title was swiped from the sign of a Bush protester. And even the more experimental songs are very good—at least a few times around. Unfortunately, while they can grow on you enough to enjoy them, they still force on the listener a moderation that keeps the gems of this album, like “There There,” “Myxomatosis,” and “Wolf at the Door” away from needy ears for too long, both on the back-loaded album itself and over time, as Hail gathers a bit of dust despite its genius. Radiohead was a couple songs away from a truly transcendent album. That makes the result that much harder to accept.

9. Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will

This could have rivaled Rumours, which isn’t as perfect as people now remember it being. (It’s still pretty close.) Say You Will suffers from bulk and Buckingham. The bulk comes in the form of a 76-minute album that far outlasts its interest. Lindsey Buckingham adds volumes to this problem with songs like the unnecessary “Come,” a seven-minute thrasher which simply doesn’t work, and the indulgent “Murrow Turning In His Grave.” Cut this album down to 12 songs, though, and it’s a thing of beauty. The title track, “Miranda,” “Peacekeeper,” and the spectacular “Thrown Down” are among the best of Fleetwood Mac’s work, and that’s saying something. A flawed jewel, perhaps, but with a little polish and a programmable player, Say You Will makes a fine album indeed.

10. The Thrills, So Much For the City

Can’t anyone write a decent slow song anymore? The Thrills’ first album sounds like an instant classic for a little while, pillaging California for musical ideas until the only clue that they’re Irish is the cover photo—and even that’s no giveaway. In many ways, songs like “Don’t Steal Our Sun” sound like the Flaming Lips on Soft Bulletin, and the comparison makes instant classic designation a very real possibility. But, to quote the fourth track, “Deckchairs and Cigarettes,” the bottom falls out of this album as it goes on. It’s tempting to take it out thirty minutes in—perhaps after the seventh song, “Say It Ain’t So”—and call it a great EP. That would deny you the excellent bonus track, though, with its classic line, “I can’t see you smiling pumping gas.” The slowest songs are the longest, and that kills the flow of the album. Nevertheless, it’s still a good CD—it just misses too often to place any higher on the list than this.

11. Dido, Life for Rent

Poor Dido. She can’t quite crack the top ten with me. This year she’s mired at number eleven with an album that I really like but don’t feel compelled to listen to as often as it deserves. The single, “White Flag,” is a breath of fresh air in a tired pop world, filled with regret and bordering on the creepiness of a certain Police hit from the past. As I said in the original review: “Dido's songwriting remains strong on this album, and her classical training informs a musically interesting work that occasionally slips into sounding too much like itself by maintaining the same mid-tempo beat for much of the album. Nevertheless, that feel suits the songs, and as a result Life For Rent is just as strong as No Angel, if a bit more consistent.”

Tough Talk

Bush: Halliburton Must Pay for Overcharge

I predict this: in nine months, all Bush will want people to remember about this little episode is that he was "tough" on a major campaign contributor. He'll use the fact that he demanded Halliburton repay what it overcharged the government as evidence that they never got special treatment. Meanwhile, Halliburton will continue to ship money his way--not that he needs any more than he's already raised. Call me a red, but the fact that the Bush campaign can outraise all the others while selling most of America down a highly polluted river is stark proof that not everything should be decided by free markets.

Back in Action

Comments are back. Feel free to comment on the also-rans in the music list below, and check back tomorrow for the Top Ten* Albums of 2003!

Thursday, December 11, 2003


Yes, it's just me talking right now. The comment server is acting up. I'll have them back as soon as I can. If you're desperate to shout at me for something I've said, e-mail me at RMN21879@yahoo.com.

A Few That Missed The Mark

Please note: this content is also at 290MUSIC, where it will be joined two days from now by the Top Ten* Albums List. Both will be posted here on the main site as well.

These artists have known the glory of past top album lists, but didn’t make it this year. Here’s why.

Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears

When they collect Lucinda’s best work, there will be a few songs from this album. “Righteously,” “Those Three Days,” and “Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings” all belong on a compilation. But Williams overreaches, and it can be painful at times. “Atonement” can be kindly called ill-advised, and many other tracks aren’t up to her very high Car Wheels on a Gravel Road standards. Maybe she really does need six years to make an album.

Everclear, Slow Motion Daydream

By all rights, this continuation of the sound from the transcendent Songs From An American Movie albums should be great. It ain’t. It’s just OK—there’s no glue holding it together, no real emotion behind the faceless songs. That’s a real shame—this could have been a tighter album than the sprawling double disc last time out, and that might have shot to number three or so on the list.

John Mayer, Heavier Things

There’s obvious craft here, but someone either rushed Mayer or turned him sappy on a few of these tracks. You can’t blame him for striking while the iron is hot, but there’s room for quality control on an album with only ten songs from an artist who hasn’t been prolific. Deleting “Daughters” and playing around with a heavier sound to go with the album title could have propelled Mayer from also-ran to the big time.

Robbie Williams, Escapology (US)

For one thing, this is too long at 61 minutes. For another, it’s essentially the same as last year’s UK version, which was widely available here through the wonders of the internet. While it isn’t Robbie’s best album—Sing When You’re Winning and the crooner follow-up, Swing When You’re Winning, have that distinction—there’s a lot to like here, including the new and updated songs. I just wish the US version still had “Hot Fudge.”

Pete Yorn, Day I Forgot

How can an album shorter than its strong predecessor feel looser and weaker as well? (See Everclear.) Yorn’s sophomore effort isn’t bad, but it’s not nearly as catchy or consistent as the much better 2001 album musicforthemorningafter.

Zwan, Mary, Star of the Sea

And people say Ryan Adams has quality control issues. Billy Corgan, formerly of Smashing Pumpkins, lets it all hang out here—for over an hour—and the result, at times wonderful, it just too much. The bloated title track is an emblem of an album that’s sometimes killer and often filler.

Sting, Sacred Love

He’s anything but prolific—he releases an album every three or four years with only ten new songs. So why can’t Sting make all ten count? The single, “Send Your Love,” is a decent song, and his duet with Mary J. Blige on “Whenever I Say Your Name” is a stirring listening experience. It’s telling, though, that Blige is the one whose voice stands out and makes the song interesting—she’s the one bringing the fireworks. The remaining collection of Sting solos isn’t bad, but it’s bland enough that most of it will drop from memory as soon as you put this CD back on the shelf to gather dust next to Brand New Day.

Liz Phair, Liz Phair

Like everything else with the words “The Matrix” attached to it this year, Liz Phair’s attempt to transform herself into Avril Lavigne is disappointing for several reasons. The songs aren’t that good or even that catchy—which is, after all, why you have The Matrix write your songs in the first place. They sound trite, something Phair should be ashamed of after her auspicious debut. Worst of all, she’s trying so hard to sell out—and failing. Attempted humor and poignance fall equally flat. I’d have bought Britney to keep this off the top ten list if that were what it took.

The Strokes, Room on Fire

Victims of their own critical prestige, the Strokes had no chance of pleasing as many people with their second and overexposed album as they did with Is This It. My displeasure lies with the problem that Room on Fire is pretty boring. It doesn’t sound human—in fact, for a record made by five unruly New Yorkers, it sounds like a committee of computer programs created it. The results are musically competent but not very revealing or interesting.

Travis, 12 Memories

I never thought I’d say this, but the latest from Travis is too British. Nevertheless, you’ve got to give Fran Healy credit for trying. His lyrics here are all over the map—literally. Some of the album is about love, some is about politics, and Healy wedges in both references to the United Nations and a crowd of soccer hooligans chanting “Peace the fuck out.” There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with this mostly charming little album, either. But it doesn’t soar, and that means it suffers in comparison to The Man Who. Every time it approaches the cusp of brilliance, it backs away, right where Man Who would have taken flight. Still, this is an enjoyable record, certainly worth its release week price tag of eight dollars. It just doesn’t grab and hold you the way we know Travis can.

The Thorns, The Thorns

There’s a prophetic line at the start of the second track, “I Can’t Remember”: “I’m not gonna lie to you, something is missing.” Despite the fact that it boasts the work of three moderately successful solo artists, including Pete Droge, Shawn Mullins, and previous top ten entrant Matthew Sweet, The Thorns comes up short. Instead of any driving rhythms or compelling lyrics, the thirteen songs here consist mostly of three-part harmony and lyrics that sound like they were sanitized during the process of three songwriters tweaking them. The results are bland and inoffensive, certainly not as good as fans had every right to expect from these three.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


I'm building a new, faster computer--OK, Brad is building a new, faster computer for me--so you may get less content for a little while. However, I will post the first phase of the 2003 Top Ten* Albums List as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Sad News

Ex-Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois Dies at 75

Senator Simon was a good legislator, a smart entrepreneur, and a good man, as the obituary above makes very clear. I met him at Augustana late in my senior year, and walked with him across campus. As we rode in the elevator to the small talk he was leading, he told me to continue to care about politics--this was right after the 2000 election--and to do everything I could to help Paul Wellstone get re-elected. In the discussion he led, he remembered my name and where I was moving, and also the names of the other people in the room. He told us not to watch too much TV, an admonishment I hope I have done better at regarding than the one about Wellstone. He made politics seem noble, and saw government as a tool that, properly wielded, could make life better for people.

Today, three years after I met Paul Simon, both he and Wellstone, two consciences of the nation, are dead. They both brought honor to a place that is often acrimonious. They are both missed.

Advocacy From the Devil

How Dean Could Win . . . (washingtonpost.com)

William Kristol would say he's playing devil's advocate in this article. While I think the Weekly Standard editor is the real devil, his article is interesting in its use of a football metaphor to explain the possibility that Dean could pull off a win in 2004. Whether Kristol thinks that would be the end of the world or not--and on that count, I think he's nuts--his argument is interesting.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Game Over

Gore to Endorse Howard Dean, Sources Say

And just like that, the clock may have run out on the race for the Democratic nomination. When the winner of the popular vote endorses you in a race decided by people who still believe that he won the election and should be in office right now, it carries weight. If this happens, everyone else is finished.

Fry Him

Janklow Jury Weighs Manslaughter Case

The level of deceit that former South Dakota governor Bill Janklow, currently the state's only representative in the House, will tolerate in his defense is stunning. I guess it shouldn't come as much surprise from a man whose governing style was always fairly mercenary. I hope the jurors are seeing through his web of lies to the truth--he sped through a stop sign, just like he always has, and this time someone else was already in the intersection. It may not have been intentional, but Janklow killed a man through his own recklessness and he isn't fit to be in Congress.

Ten Days

Film Review: 'The Return of the King'

The first reviews are coming in, and so far no one has anything bad to say. So here's a question: if the third movie is as good as the first two--and I'm betting it's even better--is Lord of the Rings the greatest trilogy ever?

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Pens, Swords, and Might

A new review has been posted at 290BOOKS.

Playoff Time

Sugar snub for USC is total B(C)S

After watching all three games in question yesterday, it passes understanding that poll leader USC is headed to the Rose Bowl while Oklahoma remains the number one team in the BCS rankings and gets to play LSU for the "national championship." It's time for a playoff in college football.

Since that won't happen, it's time to do what they should have done when they created the BCS: leave the computers out of it and designate a different bowl each year that gets the top two teams in the AP and coaches polls. If there's a disagreement between the two polls, find a tiebreaker--perhaps the poll whose number two has a bigger lead over number three gets to go. And bar any team that can't win its own conference title from playing for the title. How many times must the Big 12 send its second, or third, or fourth place team to vie for the national title? How does that make sense?

It's really a shame. USC-LSU would have been a classic.

Friday, December 05, 2003

And Clinton on the Dollar Bill

Conservatives Want Reagan on Dimes

Only Republicans would want to change the faces on money over a TV show that no one even watched. They want to replace Franklin D. Roosevelt--the leader of the nation through the Great Depression and World War Two--with Ronald Reagan, who similarly bloated the nation's deficits but did so without any compelling rationale other than making it too expensive to continue FDR's social programs. Isn't it enough that they named an airport after him--while he's still living!? (Of course, he may not be alive at all--his family says he's asleep most of the time, but a Reagan funeral late next October would suit the GOP election strategy pretty well, don't you think? They probably already have his "last words" chosen, something along the lines of "Carry on, George.")

And the headline is a serious suggestion. If living politicians can be on the money, why not Dollar Bill? His administration presided over quite a few dollars flooding into the hands of ordinary American people, which is more than most other recent presidents can say.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Good Move

Bush Ends Steel Tariffs, Averting Trade War

A man admits when his opponent does something right. In a gesture toward this 'manhood,' I must acknowledge that dropping the steel tariff was the right thing to do and took courage. For once, I agree with Bush.

And I must go further and express my disappointment at Howard Dean, who accused Bush of playing politics with people's lives. Where was that line when Bush condemned the Massachusetts court? Bush is obeying international law in this case. Opposing civil rights to play to his base is playing politics with people's lives, and none of the Democrats had the guts to quite go so far as calling a spade a spade then. Shame on you, Dean. Don't hide from an issue when you're right.

Hip Hop Honors

R&B Stars, Rappers Lead Grammy Nominations

I suppose it's hard to argue with this year's Grammy nominees. I have a hard time with Fountains of Wayne as a new band, even if they're new to me--they've been around for eight years! But in the big categories, the nominations were sane. The White Stripes duke it out with OutKast, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake for album of the year; only Evanescence is a surprise, but there has to be one representative of that sort of sound and no one else impressed, apparently. (I'd have put Annie Lennox or Radiohead in that spot.)

The nominations also herald this important announcement: it's almost time for the Highway 290 Top Ten Albums of 2003. I'm currently awaiting one more CD's release before compiling and publishing the list, and nine of the top ten are tentatively chosen. Any guesses what I'll choose? Who makes your top ten of 2003?

Time Is Almost Up

Poll Shows Dean Opening Big Lead in N.H.

Dean is apparently made of teflon. All the attacks by the other candidates, and now even the Republicans, seem to have conferred on him an unbeatable status. A 42-12 lead is almost insurmountable.

And Dick Gephardt, who I consider a potentially viable candidate, is at three percent. Three. Maybe he's not so viable.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Common Sense Prevails

Holy Matrimony - What's really undermining the sanctity of marriage? By Dahlia Lithwick

If only everyone would read this and think about it.

Time After Time

A new review has been posted at 290MOVIES. Take a minute or two to read it, won't you?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Headed North

Canada's View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.

In a land where cooler heads are prevailing, they tend not to agree with or even understand the direction America has taken of late. One day soon we'll all look back on this troubled time in American history with the same detachment the Canadians have right now...and realize how fundamentally screwed up things have been lately. They think it's funny and sad that our government is increasingly run by fundamentalists, even as we fight a war on terror against other fundamentalists. You know, they're right. It is funny--and very sad.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Payback Will Come

Conservatism, Um, Evolving

If you want to see how bad things have gotten for someone, take a look at the way his friends paint his troubles. If you want to know how badly the GOP has been behaving lately, without any liberal spin, ask conservative George Will.

He's right about a great many things in this column. Republicans have decided that it's time to change the rules now that they're the majority party. Checks and balances like meaningful Senate debate--including the filibuster--and limited votes--unlike the one the House held last week--are being threatened by a party that wants to capitalize on its current good fortune.

But what if the balance swings back, as even Will knows it will? Where will that leave Republicans who want to stop Democrats from enacting their agenda without debate or compromise? And would anyone like what happened if either party could run things without any moderating influence from the other?

Let's hope Republicans who respect George Will pay heed to his message.