Tuesday, December 30, 2008
[Annual Ritual] Looking to escape the hoards on New Year's Eve? A journey to Midway might just be the ticket.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Angell--at the age of 88--wrote this annual New Yorker feature every year since he took it over from Frank Sullivan in 1974 until he gave it up in 1998. I'm happy to see its return. Angell has a unique gift for composing humorous, benevolent rhyming lists from the names that saturate American media--rendering harmless, through light verse, the menaces of the past year. Here's an excerpt:
We’ve mistletoe, in hope it helpsI vividly remember that the first of Angell's "Greetings" poems I ever read--sometime during the 1980s, I think--contained the line "Pickins? Samuel? (Slim to Nunn)." I wracked my brain all last night trying to figure out what was the previous line with its rhyme for "Nunn." (It made a brilliant couplet, I recall.)
To waft good will to Michael Phelps,
And myrrh (spell-checked) to make the Day
For Charlie Crist and Tina Fey.
Come Christmas, gang, we’ll ask St. Nick
To not forget Nathaniel Fick;
Then drop requested toys and games
On Lolo Jones and LeBron James,
Plus lumps of coal from deepest pack
For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [...]
I've often wondered exactly how he accomplishes this--say, by sitting down the day after Thanksgiving to start compiling a list of names from Google News? Nah, it's just too big of a project. I theorized he must periodically jot down ideas for his file throughout the entire year--and, according to a piece in The New York Times, that seems about right--he says he started jotting down lines way back in the summer while on vacation in Maine.
Now my New Year's resolution is to develop that kind of creative discipline and foresight.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Babs De Lay notes, "Lilli is a local witch, tarot-card reader and all around do-gooder. We’ve been friends for years, and she’s a lovely person. She’s newly married and a breast-cancer survivor. Her mom died last month. She has been working at a minimum-wage job helping immigrant families who have nothing themselves."
DeCair did psychic readings for City Weekly in last year's Year in Preview issue. Many's the evening she's made the scene at Alchemy Coffeehouse to do card readings. DeCair also sends out e-mail blasts each week, letting those on her list know all the little things in life she is grateful for. I have to admit, even with all the e-mail and spam that regularly clog my inbox, I take the time to read her e-mails.
DeCair and her family are living in temporary housing but basically are starting over. Babs De Lay's first call for help yielded beds, chairs, tables and computers. Donations of cash and gift cards would be greatly appreciated by DeCair this holiday season to buy the basics: underwear, shoes and household items.
Send checks or gift cards to:
c/o Babs De Lay
Urban Utah Homes and Estates
380 W. 200 South Unit 101
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
All the best, Lilli. (Jerre Wroble)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The holiday excitement and goodwill is palpable ...
"Nothing Left to Die"
James Jackson Toth
Monday, December 22, 2008
"Talk Like That"
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I regret that Schwartz won't be joining the Great Gay Boycott of 2009--but I still call out City Weekly music experts Jamie Gadette and Ryan Bradford to watch the 1973 movie adaptation of Godspell, Schwartz's version of the Gospel of St. Matthew. I love it, and I will hear nothing against it--Godspell is the perfect antidote to dreary postmodernist irony. Watch it enough times and, like me, you might even find yourself in danger of getting Born Again.
(Note: You may recognize Lynne Thigpen, who played The Chief in the mid-1980s PBS series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?)
The bullshit with the California Constitution was disappointing, of course, but at least we had a new president who recognized the rights of all Americans. And that was enough for me.
It's actually the same feeling I had in 1992. When Bill Clinton was elected, I thought, "At last, here's somebody who will stick up for the rights of all Americans. Even fags like me!" And then he went and botched the whole gays-in-the-military issue, coming up with Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell. And then he fucked up national health care. And then he stuck his cigar in Lewinsky's nether regions. And then he gave the extremist free-market Republicans free reign over the country's economy, and look how well that turned out.
Looks like Obama is set to become another Bill Clinton, having chosen Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, with his purpose-driven bullshit, to give a prayer at the inauguration. Hooray for Democrats in the White House! Warren is just another of those fuckers who pretend to "hate the sin and love the sinner" all the while spreading vile lies and bullshit about gay and lesbian Americans--especially how we should never have equal marriage rights.
Wow. Great, Obama. I'm so glad, now that you managed to garner the gay and lesbian vote, that you're willing to sacrifice our support even before you take office. Fuck you, Obama. If you ever meant anything you said about equality and hope, get rid of that homophobe Rick Warren before it's too late.
We've been through this before with that egomaniac Clinton, and we're not all that willing to lie down with your boot on our face because of some campaign platitudes you once spewed. Your 52% mandate is not as broad as you think, and my support (among that of other gays and lesbians) may waver. We buy property; we just might decide to vote for false "low taxes"--or for Donald Duck--in 2010.
President-elect Obama, I want to believe in you, even if your misguided advisers consider the fag-and-dyke vote to be expendible. Please don't let us down. I recommend that you keep homophobes like Rick Warren as far away as possible from your inauguration. Frankly, I'm hurt that you would even consider it.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The job of a music writer is never done. While most writers are content to sit back and brush the dust of 2008 off their shoulders, coasting on their year-end-lists, we've already got our sights on what next year brings us.
One of my most anticipated bands is Spinnerette, fronted by ex-Distiller Brody Dalle. Despite the Distillers being an awesome band, it seems that most of Dalle's offstage antics are what made her famous - marriage to Rancid's Tim Armstrong, subsequent divorce and immediate remarriage to Rock's Most Endearing Asshole, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age).
That said, Spinnerette's music stands on its own, as evidenced by their recent self-released EP Ghetto Love. Tracks like "Valium Knights" is as intense as anything the Distillers put out, but it seems that Dalle has learned to croon in the meantime. "Distorting a Code" is thick and choppy, but Dalle's voice swoons above it all. Check it out!
Two fantastic female vocalists, one a veteran the other brand-spankin new. Crain is 22:
One heavy rocker & one psychedelic blitz. Both bands played at Kilby Court this year and blew minds (and some ear drums). Dead Meadow might sound mellow here, but backed by ten-plus amps they're a killer tour de force.
"A Thousand Eyes"
Mixtape from http://favtape.com/artist/crystal antlers
Now, depictions of antlers on tole paintings and Christmas cards don't seem to me sufficient basis on which to determine that an entire herd of deer somehow ended up being the same sex. That's no way to maintain a sustainable reindeer operation. (And don't even laughingly mention Rudolph--that ersatz, 20th-century commercial invention has no place in the true mythology.)
Going by names, Cupid is undoubtedly male, and Vixen is certainly female. QED, it's a mixed bunch. Here's my attempt at sexing the reindeer:
The Dark Knight
(runner-up: Rachel Getting Married)
Best Achievement in Directing
Andrew Stanton, WALL-E
(runner-up: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight)
Best Lead Performance by an Actor
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
(runners-up: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Sean Penn, Milk)
Best Lead Performance by an Actress
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
(runner-up: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married)
Best Supporting Performance by an Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Performance by an Actress
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
(runners-up: Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading; Misty Upham, Frozen River; Evan Rachel Wood, The Wrestler)
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
(runner-up: Robert Siegel, The Wrestler)
Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire
(runners-up: Encounters at the End of the World; Waltz with Bashir)
Best Non-English Language Feature
Let the Right One In
(runner-up: Waltz with Bashir)
Best Animated Feature
(runner-up: Kung Fu Panda)
(Ongoing disasters) You might recall that Interstate Bakeries -- makers of Hostess Twinkies and Wonder Bread -- are in bankruptcy. Both products are nutritional disasters: the dumb sort of product that could only be produced and consumed in America.
Today George W. Bush announced an auto industry bailout plan aimed at forestalling the inevitable bankruptcy of Chrysler and possibly GM. It doesn't take a genius to see the similarities between stupid products like Twinkies and Wonder Bread and stupid products like Escalades and Hummers.
So the obvious question: Why no Twinkies bailout from the Bushies?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
That's right: All the while we forward-thinking, space-age open-software early adopters were setting the Web aflame with our customizable user-agent strings and scriptable pop-up blockers, the old, bad versions of Firefox, with their hundreds of memory leaks, were sucking up our precious, precious RAM. A new "garbage collector" makes the need for good programming practices a thing of the past--so be prepared for some big, bloatsome improvements in v3.1!
Now, I love open-source, and I love Firefox. But you know how your whole system sometimes slows to a snail's pace? Think of Firefox as Ebenezer Scrooge, as unwilling to relinquish unneeded memory blocks from its tight fists as Scrooge was to "deallocate" his excess Pounds Sterling for Bob Cratchit's Christmas bonus.
With v3.05, we hope to see that Firefox finally realizes how to keep Christmas well. Fingers crossed.
Ryan Leslie - "Diamond Girl"
M83 - "Graveyard Girl"
Die! Die! Die! - "Whitehorses"
Future of the Left - "Manchasm"
(Ryan "Notorious" Bradford)
I (sort of) saw Dalek at SXSW last year. A friend told me to check them out and I walked in as they were wrapping up their last song. That two-minute taste was enough, though. Now I'm hooked. The hip-hop crew has this ominous vibe similar to Cannibal Ox. The creepy factor is typical of an Ipecac Recordings artist, and I dig it. Dalek will release Gutter Tactics on January 27. The follow-up to Abandoned Language is currently on repeat on my iPod.
Here's a sample of what to expect. Please to enjoy "Paragraphs Relentless" off Abandoned Language.
As if in response to that sales person’s acerbic thought condemning the Yuletide to being no more than another day, someone in this great metropolis wrote a message in the snow just across the road from the bookstore. That message, for those lucky enough to witness it, just might have restored a little faith in our fellow human beings battered by the ennui and disappointment that seems to overhang this particular Christmas.
On one of the rectangular concrete slabs in front of KUTV 2, someone wrote this morning in capital letters, I AM IN LOVE WITH U. Was it a man or a woman who, heart in mouth, declared their passion to someone who knew nothing about their feelings? Or was it an act of confirmation when faced with questions or doubts?
Whoever wrote it and for whatever reason, it was a singular romantic gesture of passionate love announced and, dare we hope, reciprocated. A gesture that for a few fleeting hours was immortalized in the snow. And left there for the whole world to see. [Stephen Dark]
The Dutchess & The Duke
"God + Suicide"
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The following songs are by a couple of my favorite artists whose latest albums don't quite live up to their previous releases:
"We're Gonna Rise"
Prez-elect Barack Obama today officially announced Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as his choice for Secretary of the Interior.
The New York Times headlined its story this way.
The Salt Lake Tribune headlined its story this way, with Tribune reporter Thomas Burr adding: Environmental groups heralded Salazar's appointment.
(Salami Santa) Utah's own (via Italy) Cristiano Creminelli has handcrafted the perfect foodie gift for the holiday season: White Truffle Salami. Christiano employs rare Alba white truffles to produce a gourmet salami which he says, "is just the kind of small indulgence that will make it a happy holiday."
This video clip shows why Stewart is one of the best interviewers working right now. Of course the guy gets the laughs. But when he wants an answer from a shifty politician like Huckabee, he works as hard as anyone in the business to get it. And if he doesn't get the answer, at least he bores into a subject hard enough to make the guy squirm a bit.
It's long, but worth watching. (Holly Mullen)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Or maybe they just didn't care care.**
Or maybe they figured Barack Obama had it in the bag, which it turned out, he did. Even in parts of Utah (Salt Lake and Grand counties to be exact).
[Insert obligatory nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah to right wingers in Utah here.)
Here is how much our electorate in this state sucks (taken from George Washington University data): We have 1.77 million eligible voters and only 952,370 of them voted. In 2004, when Utah voters rallied for George W. Bush, only 58.9 percent of us voted.
We are 47th in the nation for 2008 voter participation. West Virginia and Hawaii tied for dead last, with 50.6 percent turnout. Then Arkansas at 53.4 percent, followed by the nearly equally ignorant and unengaged masses in the Beehive State with 53.8 percent.
Note that this is the state of the oft-cited Mormon majority, where LDS church leaders urge members from cradle to grave that voting is a crucial civic and moral obligation. Guess they were sleeping during that particular talk in sacrament meeting. (Except, as noted, when it comes to sending millions of dollars to the Prop 8 forces in California.)
Mad props to patriotic Minnesota, my home from 1988-94, which took first place in voting turnout with more than 77 percent. (Holly Mullen)
**U.S. State Department photo above, depicts Afghan women who, unlike slobs in Utah, are willing to stand in line for hours to vote.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
They like me, they really like me! Well, OK, they don't like me at all--but at least they're devoted enough to follow me around to various other blogs on which I occasionally comment.
One or two called me out after I posted this comment on SLOG. I'm waiting for them to start jumping all over my posts on sites where I help math students with their homework. ("Grr!" they might say: "The derivative of x cos(x) is cos(x) + x sin(x), NOT cos(x) - x sin(x)!!! You jerk!!!" And, of course, they'd be just as wrong as ever.)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
It's quite a pickle. Fortunately, Malcolm Gladwell's got it all figured out: Just interpolate a tedious football metaphor! It may ruin an otherwise decent article, but you can comfort yourself in the knowledge that neither educators nor football fans will ever summon enough patience to finish reading it.
Here's the condensed version of Gladwell's "Most Likely to Succeed," Dec. 15, New Yorker:
Football, blah blah blah, football.(Brandon Burt)
Some important people have reasoned that the performance of teachers in the U.S. education system can be judged by how much their students learn over the course of a school year. They call this "value-added analysis."
Football, yada yada, "offensive gaps," college vs. NFL bullshit. Also, this boldly homoerotic quote: "In the spread, you see a lot of guys wide open." Yet even more football, blah blah blah, football.
Some teachers do a better job at keeping students' attention than others. Experts can determine which are which by watching videotaped classroom sessions. Good teachers have a knack for engaging students as individuals, whereas bad teachers seem to regard the classroom as a mass of undifferentiated humanity. A guy named Jacob Kounin says the good teachers have something called "withiness."
Some people believe that the great success of the financial sector could be replicated in the public school system if Wall Street's Lord of the Flies-style hiring standards were applied to teachers: Financial firms interview a lot of potential employees, but very few make the cut. Then, over the next five years, almost everybody gets fired.
Such a scheme would cost taxpayers more than the present track-and-tenure system, but the idea holds appeal for those who think both teachers' unions and standards-based reformers are on the wrong course.
Football, football, oh god kill me now, football, blah blah blah, football.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The artist, Michael Wiltbank, is being more than gracious regarding BYU's gaffe and the distress it caused him. As with the bloggers who expressed outrage on his behalf, he seems less pleased: According to the D-News article, Wiltbank is "disappointed" at those who criticized the removal (which criticism is characterized as an attack on the LDS Church and the school). Wiltbank is quoted thus:
Obviously, the reason this story garnered such widespread attention is because BYU is owned by the LDS Church, which is under criticism from those whose friends and families were affected by the Proposition 8 campaign (which actually was an attack on the material rights of gay and lesbian families in California). Otherwise, this story would have generated only tepid interest outside Utah, the way most stories about BYU's faculty purges and academic suppression have.
"I don't have any bitterness," he said. "The whole premise of the show was to show tolerance and support on both sides of the issue. What I wrote on my blog about the removal has been construed as bitter, but I didn't think it was. I think what some said on the Internet went against what I was trying to do with the exhibit.
"If we yell out hatred and bigoted things, nothing gets better."
Yep, once again, it's the gays who are the bigots. (Apparently, it is no longer PC to express outrage against those who actively mean to cause you harm.)
I'd like to cut through all these coded messages about "tolerance and support" on "both sides of the issue." The whole reason there was any question about this exhibit is because it dealt with gay BYU students. Apparently, "being gay" is not a violation of the honor code. Only "homosexual behavior" is--because the honor code prohibits sex outside of a legally sanctioned marriage.
Considering the LDS Church has been doing everything in its power to ensure that gays and lesbians everywhere, even those who do not choose to attend BYU or join the church, can never enjoy the benefits of legally sanctioned marriage, what cruel logic that is!
Still, they are nice photos--I love the interesting focal treatment which serves to highlight the subjects' gaze--and they undoubtedly look best without that big, red "CENSORED" stamp.
Intervention at about 8:30 mins into the episode:
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Anyway, for those of you farther along (or perhaps just as stuck), here's an event that's been underway for two days: The University of Utah Department of Art and Art History's annual holiday sale in the Gittins Art Gallery located in the Art and Architecture Building (375 S. 1530 East). The third and final day takes place Thursday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Here you'll find some pretty inspired ceramics, prints, paintings and photography—all at reasonable prices. Who knows? The work you buy today might be worth a pretty penny when these humble student artists make it big. Plus, you can feel doubly-good because funds raised by the sale help send students to national art conferences.
For more info, call 581-8677. And in the rare event that anyone reading knows and loves me, always remember that in my view, ceramics are forever. Pots, pots, pots. Interesting bowls and goblets, too. Even urns. In fact, I yearn for urns. (Jerre Wroble)
They need help, these poor guys. They are begging for money to aid their troubled industry. Wade owns a chain of car dealerships in St. George; Garff is a top executive at the Ken Garff chain in Salt Lake City.
Poor Mr. Wade may be cash-strapped right now, but his economic status was no worry in November, when he found an extra $10,000 for the Proposition 8 campaign in California to keep gays and lesbians from marrying. As for Garff, his mother, Katharine, gave $100,000 to Prop 8 in the Golden State. (Holly Mullen)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
[Censorship] BYU art student J. Michael Wiltbank knew his entry in a student art show might be controversial--but he didn't know school authorities had quietly removed it from the exhibition until a classmate told him. His photo portraits were stealthily taken down, and the remaining entries carefully redistributed throughout the gallery so as not to leave a noticable gap.
"I wish that they would have asked me to remove it, or at least had the courtesy to ask that I remove it or discuss it with me prior to its removal," Wiltbank wrote on his blog. "It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me."
His subject was a series of photo portraits. Each pair of portraits depicted a gay BYU student, and a friend or family member who provided that student with love and unconditional emotional support. (Neither portrait was identified as being either "the gay one" or "the supportive one.")
We can expect the campus secret police to go into action now, tracking down the subjects of Wiltbank's portraits. Neither member of each pair is safe, of course. Naturally, being gay is a violation of BYU's infamous honor code. But, then, so is "advocacy"--defined as "promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable." That means even offering unconditional support and love for a gay family member or loved one could get you booted off campus. I wish all these people good luck.
Stories of academic suppression emerge from BYU with predictable regularity. Around these parts, they're generally told with a roll of the eye and a measure of cynicism ("Well, what do you expect? After all, it is BYU").
But cynical acceptance is still acceptance. And it is widespread acceptance that allows BYU's dishonest academic policies to continue. A typical excuse is that BYU is privately owned and can therefore do as it likes. But this doesn't wash: Is BYU not an accredited institution? How can other universities accept credentials issued by a university which, time and again, has clearly demonstrated that it does not honor the basic principle of academic freedom? If BYU wishes to practice blatant censorship, it may do so. But, in doing so, it risks losing the respect of the academic community, and forfeits any claim that this loss of respect has anything to do with religious discrimination.
Rather than cynical acceptance, maybe it would be more sane to express something real, something sincere. Dismay, shock, outrage. Mild irritation. Searing anger. Venomous spite. Hell, anything. This world-weary act doesn't work anymore in this weary world. Perhaps the time has come to sincerely seek revocation of BYU's accreditation.
BYU's accreditation is under the aegis of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities every 10 years. According to Standard Nine on which NWCCU grants accreditation:
Hence, institutions may hold to a particular, social, or religious philosophy, as may individual faculty members or students. But to be true to what they profess academically, individuals and institutions must remain intellectually free and allow others the same freedom to pursue truth and to distinguish the pursuit of it from a commitment to it. [Emphasis mine.]Was Wiltbank allowed the "freedom to pursue truth"? Perhaps--his camera wasn't destroyed outright, his legs weren't broken and he wasn't actually imprisoned. But was he allowed to "remain intellectually free"? Um, no. Were his fellow students and others who attended the art show "allowed to pursue truth and to distinguish the pursuit of it from a commitment to it"? No, absolutely not.
In fact, it seems clear the university does all it can to remain technically close to the line while violating the principles of academic freedom left and right. The photos were removed quietly and without any statement because university officials know they are skating on thin ice, and they wanted to leave as little documentary evidence as possible.
Do you have any problems with BYU's take on academic freedom? I'd say the NWCCU deserves to hear about it.
P.S. If anybody's curious where I learned about this story, it was from Dan Savage on SLOG. Yes, that Dan Savage: the one who supposedly was in charge of the whole Proposition 8 Utah boycott. He ended up seeming a bit less demonic during his KRCL RadioActive! interview with Troy Williams. And, frankly, he seems to do a damn good job at covering gay issues in Utah. (In other words, this is a mia culpa: Where the fuck was I?)
Says Park City TV host/producer Ori Hoffer of one recent onstage appearance by the snowy-haired man about town, "Local band CORY MON & THE STARLIGHT GOSPEL were on our show last week. When Rocky Anderson showed up to talk about his new human rights organization, he joked, "maybe I can sit in on guitar with them." I told that to Cory, and he jumped at the chance. They grabbed another guitar, showed Rocky the tune, and two minutes later we were live."
Next up, Ralph Becker: Dance, Dance Revolution
[Curry Craziness] In what is either a moment of temporary insanity or extreme generosity, Mona Nisar, owner of Curry in a Hurry, has announced a special way of celebrating the restaurant's 10th anniversary: Free curry!
Monday, December 8, 2008
I was idly Googling--trying to decide whether, at a Sound of Music sing-along this weekend, it would be more fun to dress up as a "doorbell," a "sleighbell" or "schnitzel with noodles." (I had pretty much made up my mind that "schnitzel" and "noodles" would likely constitute at least two separate costumes.) And then, I came across this. And I don't know what to think anymore.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
[We Are The World v2.0] I get teary everytime I watch this beautiful video. I posted it last week but stupidly linked it to one of Utah's asswipe politicians, thereby probably causing a lot of folks to ignore it. Take a look; you'll be moved.
Friday, December 5, 2008
[Curb Your Skiing Enthusiasm] This weekend, Dec. 6&7, Deer Valley Resort hosts it's annual Celebrity Skifest, which pairs former Olympic ski stars with stars of screen and television for a weekend of skiing, live music, and fundraising for the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Readers of City Weekly and Salt Blog might recognize the name. Savage was one of the first gay activists in the country to urge a total boycott of Utah (yeah, that's right. The whole state) the day after Californians passed Proposition 8 which bans same-sex marriage in their state. As is well-known by now, with the steady urging of the LDS hierarchy, members of the Mormon Church donated about $22 million to help pass the measure. Many of the biggest spenders live right here in Utah.
CW president John Saltas, who goes back years with Savage in the tight-knit community of altie papers, chose to drop Savage's sex column, which we had been running online. Saltas has explained his stand on the blanket boycott that Savage and others have been pushing, here and here.
I ran into Williams on a Main Street sidewalk earlier today. He promises the show will be lively. Williams, who is gay, told me he doesn't like the notion of a Utah boycott, nor does he support Saltas in his choice to drop Savage. "I want to heal the community," he told me, waving his arms in that big, expansive way of making a happy globe. Tune in, or better yet, call the show and be heard.
*That's Savage in the pix, though god knows how old that shot is. (Holly Mullen)