Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Start the revolution without me

A hypothetical question for all of you: Is it possible to gain respect from the public at large by acting like unhinged crybabies? Or by expressing oneself in the nastiest, most immature ways possible?

The past week has been quite an embarrassing one for the conservative movement. Sure, the single-payer approach to health care is stuck in development hell as we speak, which must bring shrieks of delight to the lunatic fringe of American politics. But let's face facts, these people are really acting like a bunch of whiny assholes.

All summer long, the fringe element of the ideological spectrum has been creeping further into the mainstream, in effect plastering the conservative movement with their own brand of extremist, racist, nonsensical and ill-informed rhetoric. We've seen it in the various "tea parties" that have taken place, along with their ridiculous protest signs. We've seen town hall gatherings, where the unhinged fringe assumed that yelling louder makes their points more truthful. We've seen the ridiculous source where they get their 'news' - FOX. And we've seen it in their choices of false idols, guys like Glenn Beck.

Then things started getting ugly. Really ugly. A Baptist minister in Arizona called for his parishioners to pray for Obama's death. An accountant in North Carolina just lost his CPA license for telling diners in a Waffle House restaurant that he planned to make that prayer a reality. Then, add in all those ridiculous things right-wingers are accusing our president of, and no wonder why people are starting to lose their shit.

This past weekend, a speaker at the How To Take Back America conference, conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann shouted from the stage, accusing Obama of being both a Marxist and a Nazi, all in plain view of attendees like GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who also went off on his own insane tirade.

And this crude behavior has even creeped into the halls of Congress. Rep. Joe Wilson rudely called Obama a 'liar' during a speech before a joint session. Rep. Trent Franks referred to our president as "an enemy of humanity" at a rally, mere days after demanding to see his birth certificate. And of course there's everybody's favorite right-wing lunatic, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who has been trying to make things like the census seem like Obama's latest attempt to mind-meld with us (wonder what she thought of the Patriot Act?).

Last week, the social networking site Facebook was stung by a third-party application poll asking whether President Obama should be assassinated. Yeah, real classy.

And it gets uglier. A columnist with widely-read conservative opinion site Newsmax has gone so far as to call for an armed military insurrection to help take care of what he calls the "Obama Problem". John L. Perry, in the downright creepy article published yesterday, even spelled out how and why a military coup should take place. Here's an excerpt:

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

"Military intervention"? Have these people lost what's left of their minds? Not surprisingly, the article, linked all across the liberal blogosphere, has since been 'disappeared' by Newsmax. But nothing ever disappears from the internet.

It's quite ironic that, after all the unethical stuff done by the Bush Administration, Perry and his ilk nonchalantly shook their pom-poms and put him upon a pedestal. But it's quite sad that these crybaby conservatives can't hold down their hostility and hatred for an elected president (who is neither socialist, Marxist or Nazi), and one who won by a bigger vote total than any other candidate in U.S. history. And it really must piss them off that Barack Obama is not only a Democrat, not only a liberal, but is also part African-American.

The fact that the lunatic fringe has become the mainstream of the conservative movement in this country is both sad and humorous. By catering to a bunch of unhinged goofballs, they are destined to become a minor obnoxious fringe movement, as the more rational folks of their movement become either assimilated by the morons or go elsewhere.

P.S. Obama won. Get over it.

UPDATE: And wouldn't you know it? There is a connection between Newsmax and the Republican National Committee. It appears that the RNC is a sponsor of Newsmax, and even uses Newsmax's email list to solicit donations, as recently as last month. Think the RNC also supports armed insurrection against our elected officials, as John L. Perry apparently does? And following all that time the GOP has been wasting trying to tar-and-feather ACORN (and now even the SEIU), what does this say about them?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Air America stays with WWRL

After reports of some differences between the two parties, Air America decided to stay with WWRL for the forseeable future.

Here's the presser:

NEW YORK – Air America Media has extended its agreement with WWRL 1600 AM for Air America programming to be carried in the New York market. Under terms of the deal, WWRL will continue to carry "The Rachel Maddow Show" weekdays from 5-6am, "Montel Across America" weekdays from 3-6pm and "The Ron Reagan Show" weekdays from 6-8pm.

"Making sure our listeners in the New York area continue to have access to their favorite Air America programming was a key goal of our conversations with our friends at WWRL," said Bill Hess, senior vice president of programming, Air America Media. "’The Ron Reagan Show’s’ growth in New York has been explosive, and the opportunities to continue the success of both Montel and Rachel make this a strong package for both the network and WWRL."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Tweets

Yeah, I know. I've been slacking a bit. There's just so much stuff, it's become rather overwhelming.

Well, time to try my best. Here's what I've been tweeting about the past few days...

  • First, aren't you all getting a bit sick of that whole 'liberal media' meme that right-wingers casually spout about when they're just not as extreme as them? The argument is even sillier when you factor in examples like this?

  • Need another example? The New York Times is reporting that President Obama's approval rating is at 56%, down a little from earlier this year. Still, it's higher than Reagan and Clinton had at this point in their presidency. A piddly 30 percent of responders said they had a favorable view of Republicans in Congress, compared to 47 percent favorable view of Congressional Democrats. Obama and the Democrats are trusted more on health care, as 76% don't think the Republican game plan, whatever there is of it, is a joke. The funniest thing about all this? The Times' headline, "In Poll, Public Wary of Obama on War and Health." Oh, that liberal media!

  • Perhaps this is why the GOP is doing so poorly on health care. At a public forum, Rep. Eric Cantor (R) told a woman who had an uninsured and laid-off relative with stomach tumors to seek “existing government programs” or find charity. Heaven forbid these freeloaders hold down corporate profits. And on a related note, Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake."

  • Several years ago, the Dixie Chicks got slammed by thin-skinned right-wingers when Natalie Maines dissed President Bush onstage at a concert. And the big ridiculous talking point at the time was that the concert was outside of this country (Great Britain). Therefore, Maines was a traitor because she denounced the president on foreign soil. Flash-forward a few years, with tables turned. What are these same mouth-breathing morons saying about their top pinup girl, Sarah Palin, who not only badmouthed President Obama and current U.S. policy in a foreign country, but in Communist freakin' China?

  • So, wanna call Palin out on it? Well, don't do it on her Facebook account. You'll get deleted and banned from the page.

  • Evidently, today's right-wingers are living by their own set of rules, making up new ones as they go along. Did you hear that actor/conservative icon Chuck Norris is actually advocating the desecration of the U.S. flag?

  • Of course, most right-wingers are really just mealy-mouthed cowards. This goofball is trying to sue the DNC because they threw him out of a town hall meeting for acting like the obnoxious asshole that he is. Perhaps he should hire Orly Taitz to defend him. Gee, I never realized there would be such passion for whoring for Big Pharma and overpaid AM radio disc jockeys.

  • It's not only the dittoheads that are whoring for Big Pharma. Sen. Pat Roberts wants a three-day delay before voting on the Big Health Care Bill so the lobbyists have time to pick through it. I shit you not. Well, at least we know where the Republicans' priorities are.

  • Hey, you know that undercover video of ACORN from a few weeks ago? Well, the right-wing activists who shot it are getting sued. Turned out recording conversations without the other party's knowledge is illegal in Maryland. DOH!

  • And here's a few things that didn't hit The Twitter:

  • Air America's Jack Rice will be broadcasting live next week from Guantanamo Bay. Sorry wingnuts, he won't be incarcerated there, so there goes your little fantasy.

  • Speaking of Air America, how many obvious errors can you find in this blog entry? Facts, schmacts...

  • That's it for today. But, as always, you can join in the fun on Twitter.

    Elliott off the air in San Diego

    After less than six months, Jon Elliott is no longer the afternoon voice on XEPE ("San Diego 1700") effective last Friday. The only explanation thus far claims that it was revenue-related, with advertising sales in short supply these days, a situation all-too common in the industry these days. Elliott apparently funded the show himself.

    Elliott joined the station in May after leaving Air America.

    And for those still in the San Diego area missing progressive talk, there is a group called Liberty One Radio that has a goal of launching a progressive talk radio station in the area soon, perhaps as soon as January 2010. The station would replace KLSD, which flipped from a well-rated talker to a poorly-rated sports also-ran in late 2007.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Tuesday Tweets

    With the relaunch of "LTR @ Twitter," I thought I'd shake things up a little. To be honest, I've never been a big fan of those 'catch-all' entries I've done. They've always seemed so sloppy and disjointed to me. But they did seem to be the most effective way to forward a bunch of information in one fell swoop.

    Well, thanks to Twitter, I can cobble it all together in a thematic sort of way, without getting into too much detail. And I can go a bit further in relating some stories I find quite interesting. Most, if not all of this stuff are things I posted onto Twitter, with lots of quick hits. And you can see a sampling of what's posted there by looking on the far right column of this blog. Lots of politics, lots of humor, and lots of stuff you normally read here.

    So, here goes...

  • First, a profile of sorts about Ed Schultz, originally from the Fargo Forum (and syndicated to other area newspapers). It's about him pulling up stakes and moving to the East Coast for his new MSNBC gig. Of course, this also means that Schultz had to give up his local presence. BTW, Beautiful house, Ed.

  • Listeners in Central Iowa (that's the Des Moines area for you fly-over folks) are getting something resembling 'progressive talk radio'. Former Iowa state legislator Ed Fallon and his wife Lynn are launching a daily hour-long talk show on KWQW ("98.3 WOW-FM") in Des Moines next Monday at 7P CT. The "Fallon Forum" will offer a liberal/progressive viewpoint Monday through Thursday. And the even better news? They're hacking off an hour of Michael Savage. The show is a leased-time deal, with the Fallons and their sponsors paying $350 per shift.

  • Hey, remember that crazy 'birther lady'? The one who's filed numerous ridiculous lawsuits claiming our President is not a natural-born citizen? Well, the California Bar has grown tired of Orly Taitz's antics, and they're looking to have her disbarred. With luck, they'll also look to have her committed.

  • The CBS/Dan Rather lawsuit is getting more and more interesting. Hopefully, the ultimate outcome of the trial will show that Rather was right about the Bush/National Guard story. On a side note, I highly recommend reading Mary Mapes' book about the controversy.

  • Looks like the GOP's shift toward the lunatic fringe base has cost them a key official. The chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Hispanic Assembly and member of the Republican Central Committee says he has quit the party, mostly due to Rep. Joe Wilson's embarrassing outburst in Congress two weeks ago. He's tired of the xenophobia and race-baiting.

  • And the truth apparently is coming out about the right-wing vendetta against ACORN. Ambush videographer James O’Keefe admitted he went after ACORN because it registers minorities likely to vote against Republicans: "Politicians are getting elected single-handedly due to this organization," O’Keefe told The Washington Post. "No one was holding this organization accountable." And O'Keefe has been accused of questionable editing tactics in the past.

  • Minnesota governor and GOP presidential 'hopeful' Tim Pawlenty screwed up last Friday morning on his weekly radio show. Instead of giving his office number, he gave out the number for a phone sex chat line. DOH!

  • Speaking of stupid, if you ever needed more proof that CNN's Wolf Blitzer is indeed a self-righteous moron (as if the nonsensical questions he asks on his show don't give enough proof), there's this compelling piece of evidence. Yes, he got his ass kicked on "Celebrity Jeopardy" by, of all people, Andy Richter, best known as Conan O'Brien's sidekick on "The Tonight Show", as well as one of the coolest and wittiest guys on the planet. Now doubt, "The Situation Room with Andy Richter" would be compelling viewing, and could perhaps be a solution to CNN's ratings woes.

  • Now, I could post a few things about Glenn Beck, perhaps a satirical story about how he can't hold on to his AlAnon sponsors, or how he spent his childhood smoking dope and listening to Supertramp (which explains a lot!) but quite frankly, I'm getting pretty bored with this loon. Let's face it, the guy's an attention whore, who would eat dog shit on television just to get people to tune in. And we all know Beck obviously gets off even when people laugh at him. Really, we all know he's a kook, and like the pied piper, he's leading other goofy rats through the village. But for now, I'm tired of feeding this goofball's ego.

  • There are a few things left off this entry, such as the FOX Agitprop Channel's latest attempt at fairness and balanced, but I may hold that back for a separate entry. In the meantime, you can catch all the latest Tweets here.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Fall cleanup

    Just think, three weeks from today (October 12), this very blog you're reading now will turn five years old. Yep, believe it. And with that, I'm slowly streamlining this thing in order to make it easier to read, and perhaps more interactive.

    1. Many readers here have been checking us out on various social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. If not, by all means do. I don't really deal with MySpace too much anymore, since it's not very interactive, aside from being a spam repository. I still check in from time-to-time, so if you want to send a friend request, by all means do. As for the others, Facebook does have more interactive features, and I plan on doing a bit more with it. It is a nice place for readers to congregate and whatnot. As for Twitter, I plan on posting news tidbits, links, announcements of new blog entries and whatever it is most people do with Twitter. Frequent updates that may not make the blog can be found there.

    2. As for this blog, I am slowly going through and doing some cleanup. The column situation (which seems to be a problem every few months or so when web browser creators update their software) is now straightened out, and should render well in virtually all browsers. Dead links will either be updated or go bye-bye. And some of the advertising will go as well, likely replaced with more effective stuff (I really don't think anyone has ever clicked on that Zlio banner). As for the other stuff, such as Amazon and Google AdSense, that will stay. And I do encourage you to shop through these links as well, since every click-through and purchase do help to keep me motivated enough to provide you all with blogging goodness. Hey, at least I'm not outright begging for money, right?

    3. In regard to the Wiki, I've been neglecting it for some time, but plan on straightening it out. It is a bit overwhelming to keep up with, but I'll try my best. And I encourage anyone who wants to contribute to it as well.

    4. The Blogger software has improved considerably over recent months, and I plan on incorporating some of their new gimmicks here. One idea I have is to implement 'page breaks', which will show the first few paragraphs of a given entry on the main page, with a link to continue reading on another. This should minimize load times and the general appearance of the blog. In addition, it will allow me to post even more content, without it all getting lost.

    If any of you have further suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

    Air America, WWRL deal up in the air

    Will Air America programming stay on WWRL in the future? This is what both sides are trying to determine.

    Air America, and their nominal New York flagship station, WWRL (1600AM) are currently engaged in discussions that could determine whether or not the network opts to keep its programming on the station, according to David Hinckley of the Daily News.

    The deal between the two parties is set to expire soon, and Air America CEO Bennett Zier says, "As our contract is winding down, we are in negotiations with WWRL about extending the agreement."

    Zier declined further comment, but reports have been circulating that the agreement may be allowed to expire, leaving Air America in search of another station.

    However, finding another available station in the New York area could be a bit of a challenge. Few strong-signaled stations in the New York area make significant amounts of airtime available for lease, and Air America likely doesn't have the resources to purchase or lease a whole station outright in the nation's largest media market.

    Part of the problem between the two parties is the lack of Air America programming carried by the station. As it stands, only the shows of Montel Williams and Ron Reagan are carried in daytime slots. Other programming airs in overnight hours. This is why well-known New York personalities employed by Air America, such as Ron Kuby and Lionel, have never had much presence on WWRL.

    The station airs Ed Schultz in afternoons (WWRL's owner, Access.1 Communications, is part-owner of his show), as well as Stephanie Miller and various local and syndicated shows and paid programming. This doesn't leave much time available for lease by Air America, and the network has been concerned about this for awhile, even making noises about looking for other area affiliates.

    But, as explained before, that's easier said than done. Which is why Air America has been promoting their web presence more, hoping that the increased ability to receive the network's programming through computers and mobile devices will allow them to bypass the terrestrial hassles.

    Air America programming has aired on WWRL since September 2006, when they moved from original affiliate WLIB.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Obama to FOX: Drop dead

    Starting later today (Sunday), President Obama embarks on an unprecedented media blitz to promote his policies, most notably health care reform. He will appear in one-on-one interviews on the morning talking head shows of NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and even Univision. In addition, he will appear with David Letterman on Monday night. Yes, Obama will seemingly be everywhere this week.

    Notice any glaring omissions? Oh yeah, FOX got the shaft! Ha ha!

    "We figured Fox would rather show 'So You Think You Can Dance' than broadcast an honest discussion about health insurance reform," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News. Last week, the FOX network opted not to carry Obama's speech before a joint session of Congress, deeming a mind-numbing reality show as more important to the welfare of this country than (gasp!) the state of America's health care system, which tells you all you really need to know about FOX.

    In addition, why the hell should the Obama administration throw a bone to a so-called 'news network' who's chief aim these days is to rip the country apart.

    Of course, the people at FOX News are grumbling about the snub. "FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, all 4'11" of him, is acting rather pissy about it. "They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington," said Wallace. Not sure if he's referring to the White House or his own network, though.

    But really, why can't Wallace admit that his show's ratings suck something fierce, and that FOX 'News' is nothing more than a televised freak show, rather than do the typical conservative thing and push the blame around? His daddy should have spanked him with a baseball bat.

    Needless to say, it's about time Obama took a stand. Many respected his initial efforts to reach across the political divide to help bring this country back together. But as they say, you can lead a horse to water but... you know the rest. Obviously, FOX, and their contemporaries in talk radio and other entities in right-wing media, see great ratings potential in reaching out to their own base of the ignorant, paranoid and unintelligent of America. And to accomplish this, they seek to do all they can to divide this country and rip it to shreds.

    All the while, they prance and dance like their shit don't stink. Who else would take out newspaper ads claiming that their competitors wouldn't cover a ridiculous event that had been needlessly overhyped by their own hosts? An event that FOX News helped to fabricate?

    Sadly, this counterproductive thinking has spread to Washington. Elected Republicans, with no real leader to guide them down a more rational path, are following the cues of the insane extremist elements of their party. As a result, they are doing everything they can to stand in Obama's way. They'll even resort to encouraging lies to accomplish this. Not because of his policies, but to stick it to him on a personal level. Why should Obama waste his time trying to appease a bunch of conservative crybabies? They lost, fuck 'em. They rammed the Iraq War down our throats, now it's time for them to bend over and take our health care reform. Fair is fair, right?

    Hopefully, FOX will get the message, of being the only television news (for lack of a better word) entity to get the brush-off from the President. Of course, they won't. As a result, let 'em beg for scraps. FOX is a useless joke.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Attack of the clowns

    Meet Mark Williams. By day, he's an idiot with a microphone, a.k.a. an obscure internet radio talk show host/cable news pundit (don't act so surprised). In his spare time (which he most likely has a great deal of), he's the de facto founder and leader of the current 'tea party' movement that's embarassing Republicans across the land.

    In an incident that everyone should have seen coming, Williams, who once referred to the President as "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief", imploded during a cable news broadcast last night. He did nothing to refute earlier statements, and in fact, even turned on his own, calling the more extreme element of the mess he wrought as "no more part of the mainstream of America than the hippies who wear nipple clips and feather boas in San Francisco streets during so-called peace demonstrations." And it all sounds rather funny coming from a guy who wears an earring.

    In essence, Mr. Tea Bag is really Mr. Douchebag.

    When asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper last night about the 'welfare thug' statement on his blog, Williams was more or less handed more than enough rope to hang himself with. "He's certainly acting like it," he said. "Until he embraces the whole country what else can I conclude?"

    And Williams' frequent portrayal of himself as some sort of little guy battling the Big Bad Democratic Government doesn't hold much water, since the current tea party movements are, in fact, heavily organized by big PACs such as Our Country Deserves Better, and promoted heavily by obscenely wealthy right-wing media personalities working for very big corporations. Oh yeah, and the little pissants like Mark Williams.

    And how crass are these guys? They blatantly exploited a day of tragic significance (September 11) for their own means, hyping up their "September 12" march on Washington.

    Even funnier is their knowledge of history, as their little 'tea party' schtick seems a bit ridiculous than the historical one they seek to emulate.

    Coming on the heels of last week's nutty outburst by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, the combined incidents have led Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten to claim that "the right-wing anti-Obama movement in the U.S. these days is overpopulated with nuts, fundamentalists and paranoids."

    But not to fear. At least Wilson and Williams have gotten what they really wanted -- their own fifteen minutes of infamy. And it's really all about ego, is it not?

    During the eight years of the Bush administration, right-wingers were very quick to take their ideological counterparts to task whenever they questioned anything the president did. Now that a Democrat lives in the White House (and an African-American one at that!), the tables have turned and they have become a bunch of sniveling crybabies, not realizing that a record number of voters made their choice last December, and voted against them.

    Again, don't act so surprised

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Television alert: Child indoctrination warning

    Here's a heads-up on a couple television appearances designed to scare the crap out of paranoid right-wingers. And it involves their two favorite bogeymen: Michael Moore and President Obama.

    And to all you scaredy-cat tighty-righties out there reading this, yes, they do plan on bringing straws, which will allow them to suck the brains of you and your children. Mwaaaah ha ha ha!

    First, President Obama , a man not afraid to tell it like it is, will be the sole guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman" next Monday, capping off a weekend media blitz to sell his health care plan. He'll also be on this Sunday morning's talking head shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN as well. Now, this serves as a warning to the weak-willed to protect their narrow-minded offspring, since that 'stay in school' speech, basically the same kind of speech given by guys named Reagan and Bush, obviously turned conservative kin into zombies. Ahh, can't you just feel the sarcasm...

    And set those DVRs (or VCRs, for those of you kickin' it old school) for tonight, as filmmaker Michael Moore will proceed to frighten the living shit out of right-wing America, on the new "Jay Leno Show" on NBC (10P ET). He will no doubt talk about his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story", set to be unleashed October 2. Lock up the children, or force them to watch FOX Noise or some shitty Kirk Cameron flick.

    Although one silly weak-minded fool who commented on a different entry yesterday claimed that "the millionaire is telling us capitalism is evil", he obviously has not seen the film yet, since it hasn't been released yet. Therefore, said garbage-eating animal has no clue as to what it is actually about (at least watch the trailer!). Evidently, the overlords representing him and his ilk have already decided what the film is all about, and told their flock to think accordingly. Quite frankly, I dig it when uptight wingnuts freak out over stuff like this, so I hope Moore's new flick is a box office smash. Meanwhile, they've got crazy shouting guys with chalkboards spouting lies on FOX 'News'. Advantage: Us.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    People who died, people who lied and people who just don't think straight

    While spending the weekend crankin' the Beatles remasters (just added "Sgt. Pepper" and "The White Album" -- which is really kick-ass! -- to my collection), I have really just taken a passing glance at all the other meaningless stuff going on in the world.

    Yeah, there was that lunatic fringe protest over the weekend, with a few thousand gullible lemmings doing the bidding of egotistical and uninformed AM radio disc jockeys and big D.C. lobbying firms, who use a tragic anniversary for their own ego trip. Guess the turnout wasn't as good as they expected, since the budding cult leaders in charge of this silliness have been circulating lies and bogus photos of the event.

    Who's the liar now?

    So, to those of you feeble-minded fools who are content to be Glenn Beck's bitches, let me ask you all something. Do you all feel better about yourselves, or do you now feel like the naive suckers you really are? Is Guyana next?

    Anyways, here's the nooze:

    Person who died

    Sadly, we bit farewell to a punk-era cultural icon. Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker who wrote "The Basketball Diaries," and songs such as "People Who Died" (c'mon, you've heard it!) died this past Friday of a fatal heart attack at the age of 60 attack.

    Carroll was a fixture of the New York art scene in the 1970s, and hung out with the likes of Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Larry Rivers and Roert Mapplethorpe. Carroll also published several poetry collections, and his 1980 album, Catholic Boy, has become rather iconic, though he didn't enjoy a necessarily long career as a recording artist.

    He is probably best known for his autobiographical tale "The Basketball Diaries," written about his high school days. It was published in 1978 and became a movie in 1995, in which Leonardo DiCaprio played Carroll.

    Person who cried

    Geez, those Republicans must be pretty hot under the collar these days. Not easy to be lumped in with a bunch of liars, hypocrites and crybabies. And it even sucks on the state levels, too. How so? Even a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia can't refrain from losing his cool.

    Bob McDonnell is said to be rather level-headed, but the stress must be making him crack. In a WTOP live radio interview last Friday, he dropped the F-bomb:

    Mark Plotkin (host): "So no tax will be raised during your four-year term?"

    McDonnell: "I'm going to find other ways to be able to fund transportation. I've outlined twleve fucking funding mechanisms that are creative, that are entrepreneurial."

    And if that wasn't enough, he and Rep. Joe Wilson rudely jumped on stage at the MTV awards Sunday, both exclaiming Beyonce should have won. Oops, sorry. Different asshole.

    Something tells me Republicans, between McDonnel losing his cool, Wilson's obnoxious heckling, and Glenn Beck's head about to explode, seriously need to all lighten up. Why do you all have to be so angry? Why can't you be more like... like... James Traficant?

    Person who's brain is fried

    Damn, I wish I would have known about this sooner. The infamous and legendary James Traficant, with a radio show? That's must-listen radio!

    The shamed former Democratic congressman is fresh out of the federal big house, after doing a multi-year stint for corruption and wearing a really bad hairpiece. And today, he did a fill-in stint on Youngstown, OH talk station WKBN. So far, it's not a permanent gig, but is sounds as if the idea is out there. Besides, a total arrogant douchebag like Traficant would fit in well with other douchebags who's shows air on the station, including Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage.

    And certainly a permanent radio gig would keep Traficant away from running for Congress yet again, which is something he has indeed toyed with.

    Hey, we favor Democrats around here, but good grief! The guy's nuts. Which makes him the perfect guy to host a radio show. Hey, if a nuthouse escapee like Glenn Beck can do it...

    Station that (kinda) died

    Portland, OR-area fans of Stephanie Miller will now have to hear the podcast instead, as her old affiliate there, KCMD, has done yet another reshuffling, bringing in a revised format featuring mostly lower-tier syndicated talkers. The new station has the ridiculous moniker "Freedom 970", yet it relies primarily on piped-in right-wing squawkers who like to brainwash people. Black is white, right is left...

    The station is undergoing a bit of a reshuffle, as it changers owners from CBS to upstart Alpha Broadcasting. And considering that CBS hasn't figured out what the hell to do with it after all these years, they've opted for a robo-format of obscure wingnuts.

    Well, there's still the liberal station in town, KPOJ, and that station is still drinking KCMD's milkshake, and likely will continue to do so.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Savage gets savaged on flagship station

    So, Michael Savage got dropped by his hometown station. Well, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

    Here's what Jon Scott of KNEW in San Francisco (yep, the same guy who also oversees Green 960) has to say on his blog:

    Why did you take Michael Savage off the air?"

    Here's your no-spin direct answer; we have decided to go in a different philosophical and ideological direction, featuring more contemporary content and more local information.

    The Savage Nation does not fit into that vision.

    Perhaps the airwaves are being excised of the paranoid and crazy after all.

    UPDATE: Some radio analysts think that Savage is getting canned by his flagship station as a money-saving move. Ironic, in that this recession that has caused radio belt-tightening was started by people who he shook pom-poms for all these years. Karma's a wonderful thing.

    Bigmouths strike again

    From The Beatles to The Smiths (as evidenced by the title of this little entry). Yet's it's quite appropriate, coming a day after a Republican congressman treats an important and respectful presidential speech before a joint session like a Munich beer hall puscht circa 1918 (and they call us Nazis!), and another Republican congressman is stupid enough to talk about playing 'hanky spanky' with his mistress in front of a hot microphone. Gotta love right-wingers.

    And you wonder why the hell I've been writing about the Beatles!

    But that's not likely why you read this blog. So, in giving you what you want...

    Mark Foley to do radio

    Speaking of Republicans Behaving Badly, we welcome back Mark Foley, who was chased out of office by a scandal in which he sent raunchy instant messages to teenage boys serving as Congressional pages, is looking into new career opportunites. And what better place for sleazy concervatives than radio. And that's just what he's going to do. Foley is joining WSVU (960AM) in West Palm Beach for a regular talk show. The show started taping this week, and will begin airing regularly starting September 22 at 6P ET.WSVU GM Chet Tart said, "During these incredibly changing times, it's important that we hear the voice of a true Washington, D.C. insider." Nobody, however, has inquired further into what exactly Foley has been inside of, other than Congress.

    CNN "Crossfire" comeback?

    Not content with a whole daily lineup of pundits screaming at each other, CNN is looking even further. Now, they're looking into a revival of sorts of the old Crossfire show. Essentially, one featuring conservatives and liberals shouting at each other.

    As Fishbowl L.A. stated, way to really break the mold, CNN.

    Of note to readers here is one liberal who's name has been mentioned, notably Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Other possibilities on the left include Steve A. Smith of ESPN, and CNN contributors Roland Martin and Errol Louis.

    Right-wingers could include radio personalities Roe Conn from Chicago, Joe Watkins from Philadelphia and Steve Malzberg from New Jersey.

    In other words, not much of a departure from CNN's regular fare. Just more pundits.

    Hartmann, Medved to spar on health care

    In what promises to be a much tamer and perhaps more enlightening debate, Thom Hartmann and conservative radio talker Michael Medved are looking to stage a debate on health care in "9-1-1 on Healthcare: The Great Healthcare Debate" tomorrow. The debate will air on Medved's syndicated show, WCPT in Chicago and on other stations to be announced. The show will air Friday (9/11) at 5P ET.

    The two hosts previously squared off in March at another Chicago event, and have appeared on each other's shows in the past.Salem Radio Network VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup says that "In true debate fashion, both sides negotiated everything down to the bumper music and alternating top billing for each segment. It’s going to be fun, informative and a fair-and-balanced look at 2009’s hottest issue as only Medved and Hartmann could deliver it."

    Does the old really sound new again? (a Beatles audio adventure)

    Didn't think I'd let this one go, did you?

    Okay, so a day after waxing poetic about the Greatest Rock Band In The History Of The Planet (okay, Led Zeppelin is close), I had to go to the local Big Box Retailer to sample some of the wares myself. After all, in this day and age of bland all-digital recordings recorded by bland digital bands, all processed, Autotuned, limited, clipped and compressed to the very depths of hell, I looked forward to hearing high-quality masterings of high quality recordings of even higher quality songs. Yes, from what I've heard so far, the newly remastered Beatles catalog is worth the hype.

    Now, I did have a choice. The entire lineup was available in different forms. So, do I splurge on the stereo box set that has everything? Or do I buy them individually (which would have been virtually the same price anyway), and hence avoid paying for stuff I didn't care about, like the remastered filler-packed Yellow Submarine (1999's totally remixed Songtrack version is much better)? Or do I splurge on the mono box set, which, as pointed out yesterday, features the songs mixed the way the band members wanted them). The point was moot anyway, since all copies of the stereo box were snapped up already. Forget the mono set - that sold out weeks ago. Fine, I guess, since my money's a bit funny these days. So I came up with a different approach. I'll treat myself with one at a time. I'll enjoy them individually, rather than become overwhelmed with a massive set. I started with three. Of course, they would have to include some of my current favorites. First up was 1969's Abbey Road, which was the one I was initially most curious about. I also opted to counter it with an earlier work, 1966's classic Revolver. And, since Best Buy was offering the two-CD Past Masters for the same price (I'm convinced it was a pricing error on their part), I had to get it. Plus, Past Masters, which compiles all of the band's non-LP tracks, spans their entire career, so it is a very good sampler for the curious. Taking my newly-obtained discs home, I was also keen to compare them to other versions I had (including the original 1987-88 CDs and subsequent compilations, such as the "Blue" and "Red" best-of sets, 2000's 1 set, the Capitol Albums box sets from 2006 and even distinctive remix sets such as Yellow Submarine Songtrack and Let It Be... Naked--can you tell I'm a bit obsessive about this?). So, here we go.

    The remastered Abbey Road, the first album mixed only in stereo, got the first spin. And it is, plain and simple, amazing. The first song, "Come Together" rips your head off and blows you out of your seat. The sound is much fuller and more vibrant than the original 1987 CD. It's even better than the earlier remastered version on 1. The most powerful song on an album full of great music. The Abbey Road engineering team really did their job here. "Here Comes The Sun" has much more life, and is as warm and dreamlike as the song itself. And then there's the rest of "Side 2" (referring to the original LP). This mostly consists of the elaborate 'monster medley' put together mostly by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin (John Lennon always bitched about it), and it all leads up to the album's ultimate money shot -- the raucous jam "The End", which starts with the only true drum solo by Ringo Starr (who absolutely detested solos, and had to be talked into it). Afterward, each of the other band members rip into guitar solos, first McCartney, then George Harrison and finally Lennon. The version on the 1987 disc was okay, but the new master absolutely smokes! Finally, as perhaps the first 'hidden track' ever included on any album, the very brief and humorous "Her Majesty" kicks in, and the new master is less harsh-sounding than the on the 1987 disc. In addition, I was happy that the remastering engineers decided not to overkill the tapes with too much noise reduction software. Tape hiss is evident on this CD, which ran counter to the late-80s idea of getting rid of as much hiss as possible, a process that also took a considerable amount of musical detail with it. This time, we hear it all, and that should please many Beatles purists.

    The packaging for the CD is quite beautiful. Gone is the brittle plastic jewel case and sparse liner notes of the original disc. This one, like all the other remasters, is packaged in an attractive tri-fold cardboard digipack, making each CD look and feel like a mini version of the original LP sleeve. A nice touch. Each CD includes an extensive booklet featuring new (and sometimes old) liner notes and TONS of great pictures from that period (Abbey Road even includes samples from their last official photo session, taken by (but not credited to) McCartney's photographer wife, Linda. Older record buyers may even recognize the front and back cover shots of the long-deleted Hey Jude compilation LP. Abbey Road, as with as the other discs, includes a 10 minute 'mini-documentary' (in QuickTime format, playable only on a computer) that features film clips, studio chatter and even interviews with the band members and Martin. Since Apple Corps. opted not to pad each album with excessive amounts of outtakes, demos and whatnot (not wanting to distract from the intent of the original releases), the embedded video, along with the print material, are appropriate substitutes. They're not distractions to the album itself.

    Next up for listening was Revolver, considered by many to be their best work. This is where the Beatles really started to get psychedelic, a year before Sgt. Pepper came out. Although the original CD issue isn't that bad, the remasters do go a bit further. The new version seems to really bring out the band's rockers, and the leadoff track, "Taxman" is no exception. The intro, complete with a count-in and coughing, makes it sound as if we're in the Abbey Road control room in 1966. The original mix of "Eleanor Rigby" is presented here (unlike the redone remix on Yellow Submarine Songtrack that features the string section in true stereo), but that's an unfair comparison. Apple Corps. was adamant about remaining faithful to the original George Martin master tapes (with minor tweaking and appropriate equalizing), rather than a radical remix from the multitracks, so that's what we get here. And it still sounds good, though it could spur further debate among fans divided on whether everything should have been totally remixed (I get a feeling that these types of projects are in the distant pipeline). The same could also be said of "Yellow Submarine", given a more deluxe treatment on Songtrack. Still, this version here is nice and crisp, and the outrageous effects stand out (they obviously had a lot of fun recording this one).

    "Here, There and Everywhere" is perhaps the best love song ever written by McCartney (and even he cites it as a personal favorite). That's not to minimize "Yesterday", but it says more about this one. The spare instrumental backing and three-part harmonies do shine more on the cleaned-up version, but the remastering makes the already loud lead vocal sound louder. To be fair, it does sound as if were intended to be this way (at least in the stereo mix). Still, it's a much cleaner sound. "She Said She Said", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Dr. Robert" are the rockers on the album that really pop in cleaned-up form. The piano and drums on "Good Day Sunshine" pack more punch and clarity here, and we get a much fuller sound, a drastic improvement over the original CD. We get into the real meat of the CD as we approach the end. McCartney's Stax soul ode "Got To Get You Into My Life" is brassier than ever. The horns really stand out on this one, as does the other instrumentation. The next song, the finale, is still the best. "Tomorrow Never Knows" was actually the first song recorded for the album, and on the new CD, it sounds better than ever. From the pounding drum track to the chopped up tape loops to the backward guitar solo and Lennon's effects-heavy vocal, this gives further proof for people who claim this as one of the Beatles' finest songs. The remastered version is even better than expected.

    This CD also includes photos, liner notes and a mini-doc. The liner notes may not reveal much to hardcore Beatleholics who have already digested all of the various biographies, chronologies and whatnot, but could be of great interest to casual fans.

    Finally, in this listening session, we get to Past Masters. As I said before, this completist collection of non-LP singles, b-sides, EP tracks and other previously-released curiosities serves as a nice introduction to those wondering what the hype is all about, and when played side-by-side with the original 1988 CD issue, shows how far remastering technology has come. This version sounds way, way better, noticeable even to non-audiophiles. This two-disc set (originally issued as two separate volumes) spans the band's entire career, reaching all the way back to 1962. Here, we get the earliest mono and stereo tracks, along with later hits like "Hey Jude" and the single version of "Let It Be" (minus the tacky Phil Spector orchestral overdubs). The set leads off with their very first single, "Love Me Do", which is very different than the take featured on the Please Please Me album. Unlike the album version, which features a session drummer (Martin was still unsure about the just-acquired Starr), this one has Ringo pounding the skins. Now, at the time of this recording, EMI typically did not save old outtakes or multitrack tapes, and they seemed to lose ones they didn't consider to be very important at the time. Hence, the tape for this debut single was essentially lost. The best-available master source was actually a pristine mono 45 RPM record, so this is essentially a vinyl rip. Nonetheless, it's historical significance is heavy, justifying its inclusion. And it does sound as good as can be. "From Me To You", another early single, is very tinny sounding in the two track stereo version presented here, but stands tall compared to the muddy-sounding version on the 1988 CD. In fact, all of the early stuff on the new version of Past Masters is more vibrant here. "She Loves You" and its original flip-side, "I'll Get You" are presented in mono, as no multitracks are known to exist (the closest we get is a German re-recording of the former, which is, interestingly enough, presented in stereo). Still, compared with the original CD, it packs way more punch, and gives an example of what the remasters of the mono tapes sound like. Yesterday, I voiced my opinion that the early two track recordings (and some of the later multitrack stuff) sound better and pack more punch in their mono mixes. Compare the English and American versions of "She Loves You" as a testament to this. The mono does sound better. I also have long felt that the stereo version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" sounded too busy and lacked the impact of the mono. Obviously the engineers felt the same way, as the remastered stereo version has a somewhat less cluttered effect.

    As we travel further into the Beatles career, we get quite a jolt from McCartney's rip-roaring Little Richard imitation on "Long Tall Sally", originally released in England on a four song EP. The other three tracks from this EP, remakes "Slow Down" and "Matchbox" and the original "I Call Your Name" also have more clarity and impact here, making me realize that this must have been one of the greatest 7-inch EPs ever released, something the original Past Masters didn't do. With all the iconic hits on this disc, ironically, it's oft-ignored "Long Tall Sally" that really stands out so far. Wow. Just wow. It only gets better. "I Feel Fine", with what is believed by many the first-ever inclusion of intentional feedback on a pop record, packs a wallop. And it sounds terrific in stereo. The early rockers do pack more punch on the remastered disc (as witnessed by McCartney's voice-shredding "I'm Down" that closes Disc 1, but so do Lennon's tender ballads, "This Boy" and "Yes It Is". The instrumentation has more life and emotion, as do the delicate three-part harmonies in these similar-sounding songs. All in all, the new-and-improved Disc 1 makes the 1988 Volume 1 seem like a sonic travesty. If you're looking to really update your Beatles catalog, but are a bit stubborn about forking over the money, I would certainly recommend this one.

    Disc 2 certainly ain't bad either. Everything shines in remastered form. Prior to purchasing it, I set one song in particular as a benchmark, namely McCartney's 1966 hit "Paperback Writer". As originally intended, the bass would be loud. Loud enough to, in the words of McCartney and Starr, make the needle jump off the record. And that was the problem. The typically reserved EMI engineers were a bit scared to put out a song that would obviously cause record players to skip (remember, this is the vinyl era we're talking about), even though McCartney protested that he had heard a record at a club the other day that had tons of bass, and that American labels were also putting out bass-heavy records. Luckily, a 20 year-old Abbey Road engineer named Geoff Emerick, who had just started working with the band, got the concept, going so far as to convert a loudspeaker into a bass mic. Needless to say, the song kicks ass on the new CD, and most certainly will give subwoofers a workout. In fact, all the songs on this CD have more prominent bass than in the original issue, in addition to greater depth and clarity with the other instruments and vocals. Rockers like "Revolution" decimate any hard rock record made today, and even lower-key songs like "Hey Jude" and the single version of "Let It Be" become even more intimate. And then there's Harrison's oft-overlooked Indian-flavored b-side, "The Inner Light", which here becomes a tasty sonic treat. It actually sounds quite beautiful here, better than I remembered. Now, the Beatles throughout their career wisely refrained from releasing outright bad songs (some of the discards can be found on the Anthology discs), though the whimsical closing track, "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" (which languished for a few years before being released as the b-side of the "Let It Be" single) could qualify as such. Inane and self-indulgent, though in a somewhat charming way, the release of this is evident as to the state of the band circa late 1969, where the band members obviously didn't really give a shit anymore about what was released in their name. The song was originally mixed only in mono, hence its inclusion in that form here, but does indeed wear the evidence of a sonic upgrade. However, another (longer) version of the song can be found (in a stereo mix!) on Anthology 3.

    So, you may be tiring of me waxing poetic about music that's nearly a half-century old. And trying to justify buying new versions of old stuff I've already bought. But as I said before, at a time when music sounds more and more mechanical, phony, contrived and over-processed, it is a nice feeling to hear great rock n' roll music sounding the best it possibly can. Perhaps it could serve as a reminder to modern artists, producers and engineers that clipping the hell out of their music to make it sound louder and proceeding to compress it into sonic garbage is not the way to make it sound good. For further examples of this, look no further than the Beatles' re-released catalog.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy The White Album. Or should I get Sgt. Pepper? Choices, choices...

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Revolution 9/09/09

    After a summer suffering through some increasingly back-and-forth 'Bloods n' Crips' games between this country's two ideological divides, perhaps it's time to get away from the silliness and dig into something a bit deeper, and perhaps something people from all sides can agree on. Namely, we all like, heck, even love The Beatles. And what better day than today, on the occasion of the release of their newly digitally remastered catalog, two complete box sets and even a video game, the latest in the popular Rock Band franchise.

    Now, before you all gang up on me for going off-topic with this one, ponder this: What other entertainment entity has done more to promote peace, love and togetherness than the collective force of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr? Hey, the Beatles may not be bigger than Jesus Christ, but they're certainly more popular and more loved than Rush Limbaugh.

    So, for those wondering why the heck there's so much commotion about a band that broke up forty years ago, let's take a look at what's happening.

    1. First, for the first time since the original catalog was released on CD back in 1987, their entire recorded and released output from 1962 to 1970 will hit store shelves today in remastered form. As with 1987, that includes all thirteen original British album releases on the Parlophone and Apple labels, the American Magical Mystery Tour compilation and many singles, B-sides and other non-album releases. That's everything from their first, Please Please Me to Let It Be, their last. Along with the albums, the two-CD Past Masters set will collect all the non-album tracks, including big hits like "She Loves You" and "Hey Jude". All will be issued in stereo, with a few exceptions, and the first four CDs are actually making their official EMI stereo debut, after only being available in mono for the past two decades. Keep in mind that all albums represented will be issued in their original forms (so yes, this Let It Be is the one with the gaudy Phil Spector remixes). And the new CDs will not be padded with outtakes, demos or non-LP releases. Apple Corps. prefers to present the albums as originally intended and heard, which is a smart idea. That stuff can be found on the Anthology CDs.

    Cynics may wonder why anyone would want to buy the same CDs they already bought years ago. Well, it all comes down to mastering. Lots of things have changed in digital audio technology in the past 22 years. Even the original catalog was a rather rushed affair, with CDs cut from outdated digital masters, hurriedly transferred without even proper equalizing. As a result, these old CDs sound rather flat and harsh. This is why many artists have reintroduced their old works over the years. The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elvis Costello and many other notables have remastered their catalog several times over the years. It's what they do to make their old music relevant to the times. And the difference between the archaic 1980s technology and today's 24-bit mastering techniques is startling. The results are CDs that much warmer and more vibrant, and have more detail and clarity. As Neil Young said not too long ago, CDs have finally gotten to the point where they sound as good as vinyl records.

    But how does it all sound? I've only heard a few songs thus far, but from what I've heard, the results are rather startling. Starr's drumming is much crisper. McCartney's bass guitar is more prominent. The guitars and vocals of Harrison and Lennon shimmer. The remastered songs I've heard so far are vibrant and have more warmth than the 1987 CDs. Even the poorly mixed (yet arguably their best work) Rubber Soul sounds more pristine. As McCartney himself said upon hearing the results over Abbey Road studio monitors, it sounded as if George and John were still alive, and in the studio with him.

    2. The whole remastering process has been a massive undertaking. Fortunately, the Beatles have benefitted from having virtually all of their original multitracks and master tapes accounted for. They are kept under lock and key at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in suburban London. EMI even employs people who's sole job is apparently Beatles-related projects. The archives have seen some activity over the years, with various unreleased and outtake collections (like Let It Be... Naked, Anthology and Live At The BBC) and even some ambitious remix projects like Yellow Submarine Songtrack and Love. After many years of clamoring by fans, the band's Apple Corps., which has to approve any new EMI Beatles release. Finally, four years ago, McCartney, Starr and the estates of Lennon and Harrison signed off on issuing remasters. There were stipulations, though. Only the original master tapes with the original mixes (except for producer George Martin's minor 1987 remixes for Help! and Rubber Soul) could be used.

    The first step was to inspect every master tape. All the tapes were in excellent condition, save for a little dust and some dried splicing tape, which required minor and delicate maintenance. Then the tapes were converted, one song at a time, into digital files, using the same technology used in Blu-Ray discs. From there, the editing and cleaning-up process began. The goal, as set by the engineering team was to make everything sound as close to the master tapes as possible. Organic sounds such as vocal imperfections and squeaking drum pedals remained, while electronic errors such as chirps and bad edits were cleaned up slightly. Limiting, a process used all too often these days to increase the volume of the recording (while removing dynamic range) was used very little. Noise reduction, used to remove tape hiss, was also utilized sparingly.

    3. In addition to the individual CD releases, the Beatles are also releasing two box sets. The first compiles the entire stereo catalog, including the albums and Past Masters. The second is a collection of all the mono mixes for their songs. The mono set, also long desired among fans, is a smart move. Fans have been begging for these mixes for years, as many of them differ from the more widely available stereo versions. Amazon, in fact, sold out of their allocation of limited-run mono box sets, prompting EMI to press more.

    Now, why on earth would anyone go out of their way to buy mono recordings in 2009? Well, back in the 1960s, mono was mostly how pop music was heard. Most music fans owned monophonic record players and heard pop music via AM radio and jukeboxes. Few people owned stereo setups, and those audiophiles that did typically bought classical music and sound effects records. Seven-inch singles were, at the time, available only in mono. And because of the differences between mono and stereo vinyl, they had to be mixed differently, as the thicker bands of mono vinyl could support more bottom-end content (such as bass). As a result, more time was spent by Martin and his engineers (as well as the band members) to create the more popular mono mixes. Stereo mixes were typically an afterthought, hurriedly done by staff engineers, and were still rather experimental. Hence, we often had differences between the two. And these days, the stereo mixes are the only ones we typically hear and purchase. The mono mixes of the Beatles' works, until today, have long been out of print, available only via bootleg transfers from high-quality vinyl sources (Beatles fanatics such as Dr. Ebbetts created these with the intention of distributing them freely online - a simple Google search can locate these downloads).

    To give an example of the mono/stereo differences, the Sgt. Pepper album is quite distinctive. In the mono version, the lead guitar is more upfront on several tracks. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" has a trippy vocal phasing effect. "She's Leaving Home" is pitched much faster. And the reprise has edits in different places and McCartney yelling toward the end. All in all, the mono mix is more aggressive and in-your-face, while the stereo version sounds a bit more reserved. Needless to say, the mono recordings of the Beatles' works are a revelation, and are what the band members originally intended them to sound like.

    And, truth be told, mono mixes done during the infancy of stereo tend to sound better. They just seem to pack more oomph and urgency. The Beatles' first two albums were recorded on two-track tape, with the limitations requiring them to place vocals on one channel and instrumentation on the other, in order for Martin to combine the two to make a good mono mix. The stereo versions of those two albums are essentially those two channels, making earbud or headphone listening a bit painful. This is why Martin was so adamant to release these only in mono back in 1987 (though A Hard Day's Night and Beatles For Sale, both recorded on four track, were mistakenly issued only in mono, an error never corrected). Later multitrack recordings by the band seem to shine more in mono. "I Want To Hold Your Hand", the first Beatles song to be recorded on four track, packs more punch in its mono mix. The stereo version, with all its extreme separation, is a bit busy and sluggish sounding in comparison.

    It wasn't until later, as engineers figured out how to take advantage of multichannel mixing and figured out how to make better vinyl LPs that stereo began to improve. By 1968, stereo achieved domination in the format wars (The White Album was their last to get a distinctive mono remix). Hence, later efforts such as 1969's Abbey Road sound great in stereo, because they made this one the priority (actually, no mono mix was ever done of this one).

    And it's not just with the Beatles. I have The Who Sell Out in both stereo and mono, and the version I prefer listening to is the mono mix. Considering that it's essentially a concept album about 60's British pirate radio, perhaps this seems more appropriate. Plus, it sounds a bit heavier, typical of the Who's early work. And many audiophiles are insistent that early Motown recordings sound better in mono as well. Back in that era, more care and attention was afforded the mono mixes, while engineers were still experimenting with the whole concept of stereo.

    4. Of the major offerings unleashed by the Beatles today, older fans will likely be more drawn to the catalog reissues and the mono box set. But the younger crowd may be more drawn to the other big product being released. The Beatles: Rock Band is the first video game licensed and endorsed by the band. The game, two years in the making, is very elaborate, and allows participants to 'play' along and even sing along with their favorite Beatles hits (the game comes with 42 songs, with more to come), and also allows them to follow along the 'long and winding road' of their career, with settings including Liverpool's Cavern Club, the set of "The Ed Sullivan Show", Shea Stadium, Abbey Road Studio Two and even the rooftop of Apple Corps. To add some variety, psychedelic 'dreamscape' settings are also included, so the band appears to be playing "Octopus' Garden" underwater. The graphics and detail are very impressive, the result of the fussy demands and advice by McCartney, Starr and the two widows. The finished product is one in which all parties involved are very proud of. And all the songs featured in the game have been remixed for 5.1 surround sound. Thanks to modern mixing techniques, Abbey Road engineers, particularly Giles Martin, son of producer George, was actually able to create multitracks out of the very early material, a process that an amazed George Martin equated to handing them a cake and getting the individual ingredients back.

    5. With the release of the new CDs, the question of the relevancy of the CD format remains. Many media pundits are still rather obsessed about whether they will ever offer their catalog for online download. Abbey Road engineers are rather bemused about the concept, comparing it to retouching the Mona Lisa, only to make photocopies of it. Why would people rather download compressed digital files when the much-superior CDs are available for the same price? But that's the world we are living in now. Sure, it's not very complicated to put a CD in the computer and rip it into MP3s with iTunes. But people are still hung up on being able to pay to download files directly. The Beatles are among the few remaining high-profile holdouts that have yet to offer their works for official download (AC/DC is another). But it could still be on the horizon. Apple Corps. wants it to happen, but they're part of a complicated troika that also involves EMI and the other Apple that owns iTunes. McCartney, who has reissued all of his solo work in downloadable form (his latest release, last year's very good Electric Arguments, is even available in the lossless, open-source FLAC format), blames EMI, though he has been sparring with the label personally for several years since he bolted to release his music through indie labels. So yes, eventually you may be able to download individual Beatles tracks or whole albums through iTunes and other services. But why not just buy the CDs and load them into the computer. At a high bitrate (like the maximum 320kbps for MP3), the songs will sound better than anything you could purchase and download online).

    6. In conclusion, the question remains. Will people buy it? Of course they will. And they are. Even forty years since they were last in a studio together, the band's catalog has made them still one of the industry's top-selling artists. The music has aged very gracefully, and still brings in younger listeners (even the original fans' grandchildren!). Roughly 40 percent of the buyers of 1995's Anthology set were under 20 years old. The 1 compilation from 2000 is one of the biggest selling CDs of all time, with roughly 27 million units sold. Other recent releases, such as Love, have gone multi-platinum. And they still sound fresher than many newer artists played on the radio these days. With the release of the whole catalog, as well as the Rock Band tie-in, observers predict huge sales, exactly what the recording industry could use desperately in this day and age, as sales of physical CDs are in a major slump. Currently, Amazon's sales chart is dominated by new Beatles releases in the top positions.

    The Beatles giving the music industry a shot in the arm. History repeats itself.

    NOTE: After reading this, if you're all of a sudden smitten by the Beatles Bug, clicking on the various product links will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase these items. In addition, purchasing this way will help support this very blog you're reading. So, by all means...

    Friday, September 04, 2009

    Dark side of the loon?

    Hey, did you hear the one about Glenn Beck raping and murduring a girl back in 1990?

    Well, so goes the latest meme crawling around the web. It claims that the FOX 'News' squawker has a very dark and sordid past. Very dark and sordid. Allegedly, he committed rape and murder.

    And one site is looking to expose the high-strung wingnut screamer. The accusing site even claims to have evidence, including a police report. And if all the crazy stuff Beck spews is true, then perhaps this is as well. After all, the information is presented in the same ways Beck frequently uses to target his adversaries and subsequently lose his advertisers.

    Hey, I'm just sayin'.

    Nobody really knows whether Beck raped and murdered that young girl back in 1990, but the meme seems to have the fingerprints of a group of internet pranksters all over it. The website Mediaite suspects it's all the work of a group with the likely moniker 'Anonymous'. They're a powerful clique connected with hacker/prankster site 4chan, and have created elaborate stunts like attacks on the Church of Scientology and the flooding of YouTube with porn clips. Some of their stunts were beyond the pale (such as an attack on a support forum run by the Epilepsy Foundation of America). But hey, they did harass white supremacist shortwave radio talker Hal Turner and they launched online support efforts for Iranians to contest the questionable presidential election there earlier this summer, so they,'re not all bad. And they even designed the cool Beck/Joker pic shown at the top.

    But, what if it is all real (sarcasm alert), and the meme is being spread by people aware of Beck's grim past? Needless to say, this meme is an interesting example of how fast bullshit travels across the tubes in the internet era. If the Beck rumors are indeed false, doesn't that cast doubt on the various falsities spread by right-wingers over the years? Can we finally stop talking about the Swift Boat vets, President Obama's birth certificate, 'death panels', the pending American nazi/socialist revolution and the Clinton Body Count? After all, if they claim without a doubt that the Beck rumor is a lie, what does that say about the fertilizer they spread? After all, if he can launch a smear campaign against the President, calling him a racist and accusing him of hating white people (and we all know the flack that Kanye West got when he said something similar about our previous president), well...

    Regardless of where it came from, the meme has spread like wildfire, as the just-launched website has accumulated thousands of page views. The perpetrators have launched a massive viral campaign, using sites like Fark, Yahoo! Answers, Reddit, Twitter, and others. All that's left is for Beck to deny it.

    You see, in Beck's world, the burden of proof lies with the accused, rather than the accuser. It's a really old trick used in campaigns (Lyndon Johnson, after seeking to spread one wild rumor, said something to the effect of "I wanna see the sonuvabitch deny it!"). The wingnuts live and die by this dirty trick, using it for bullshit accusations such as the Swift Vets smears on John Kerry and the recent birther movement that threw the legitimacy of Barack Obama's birth certificate into doubt. Glenn Beck uses this trick more than others, and drools whenever others do it. So, if he thrives on playing this kind of game, shouldn't it be up to Beck to prove that he didn't rape and murder a young girl back in 1990? And should we really sympathize with him, as if he's the 'wrong man' in an old Hitchcock flick?

    Mediaite says:

    People will ask the question and not answer it, insisting that Beck “prove that he didn’t;” supposedly, this parallels Beck’s argumentative style. The bottom of reads, “Notice: This site is parody/satire. We assume Glenn Beck did not rape and murder a young girl in 1990, although we haven’t yet seen proof that he didn’t. But we think Glenn Beck definitely uses tactics like this to spread lies and misinformation.” Really, though? It all comes across as a malicious, masterfully executed prank whose pranksters were grasping for a higher political justification.

    As one poster on Fark puts it:

    FootInMouthDisease: ...Instead of actually refuting the facts. I know. Not one person has come in here with a link to Glenn Beck's murder record to prove that not one of them involved a rape and a girl in 1990. For real. What is he hiding? You know... If it weren't such a big deal, you think he would just go on tv and clear the air. Just show us all the long forms, seriously, is it that hard, cchris_39? you could just lay it all to rest, with the official, undoctored, signed, long-form investigation certificates. Or that, if it were so obvious that glenn beck raped and killed a girl in 1990, weren't true surely there would be some reputable source we could cite?


    Not to add to the rumor mongering, but have no knowledge of any plausible alibi Glenn Beck has that would prove he didn't rape and murder that girl in 1990. Lexis Nexis provides 0 articles that state Glenn Beck didn't rape and murder a girl for the entire year of 1990. Some say Glenn Beck has spent possibly THREE BILLION DOLLARS to cover up the fact that he raped and murdered a girl in 1990. Why won't Glenn Beck release her death certificate? WHERE GLENN WHERE HEY. The State of Hawaii issued a Certificate of Live Death. That's all the evidence you need. And they said that after glenn beck raped every orifice, he ate her dead body with arugula and spicy mustard in 1990.

    So, is this all fair game? Did Beck really do what they claim he did back in 1990? True or not true, shouldn't Beck come out and deny it all? Granted, it's a rather tasteless prank (if that's what it is). Accusations of rape and murder are kinda pushing it a bit. But it also proves the old saying, what comes around goes around. Beck and his ilk make millions of dollars to spout lies, insults, racist and xenophobic taunts and various other inanities across alleged mainstream news media outlets. Live by the sword, die by it. In other words, if you get in bed with the devil, you'd better be ready to put out. Beck has gotten in bed with the devil, using vicious means to attack his so-called enemies, then cowardly claiming it's all entertainment. However, considering Beck is everything short of clinically insane, I wonder just how many people really take this bloated coke-fueled sack of elephant shit seriously.

    Regardless of whether the rumors are true or not, if Beck's bottom line is hurt by accusations such as these, I have no sympathy. It's the price one pays for collecting huge paychecks for being an insufferable asshole. That's life.

    Now, do I believe that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? That's for you to decide. As far as I'm concerned, though, that coke-snortin' jerkoff can go cheney himself.

    Hey, did you hear the one about Lou Dobbs and his Mexican love child?

    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    Schultz drops local Fargo show

    Well, that didn't last long.

    After just two weeks at his newest affiliate, KQLX (106.1FM), Schultz announced on-air during his one-hour local morning show on Tuesday that he is ending his short-lived run on his new Fargo-area affiliate.

    Between his weekday MSNBC show and his three-hour nationally syndicated radio show, the Fargo admitted that he just didn't have the time to do an effective job with the local show.

    Shultz announced his signing with KQLX in July.

    This is the second time Schultz has dropped his local show in less than half a year. After being tapped for the MSNBC show, he left his former station KFGO.

    KQLX will also drop Schultz' national show and an audio simulcast of his MSNBC show, reverting to its previous country music format in those time slots. Hence, Schultz is without an affiliate in his former hometown.

    Maron's back - with podcast

    From Marc Maron's most recent email:

    Hello, Comrades-

    The first episode of WTF with Marc Maron is up at Itunes. If you want some, get some, here:

    Subscribe via iTunes

    Download (without iTunes)

    Follow the show on Twitter

    The show will be me talking shit in the way I do. Interviews. Comedy.

    Maron also encourages fans to follow him on his regular and pages.

    He will also be in Chicago at the Lakeshore Theater doing Scorching the Earth Sept. 24, 25, 26 if you are in the area.

    If a tree falls in the forest...

    As I see it, a radio show that nobody listens to will be simulcast on a cable channel that nobody watches. Makes sense, right?

    Well, I would assume FOX Business has more viewers than Don Imus' former television home, RFD-TV. At least I think they do.

    Reuters says:

    The Fox business news channel of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has agreed to simulcast the radio show of Don Imus, the ratings-grabber who stirred a national controversy on race two years ago.

    Fox Business Network (FBN) said on Thursday it had signed a multiyear deal to show the Imus program on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. starting on October 5.

    "The program will incorporate additional business news into its format, which now offers a mix of current affairs, politics, entertainment and sports," Fox said in a statement.

    The Imus show will continue to be syndicated on the radio by Citadel Broadcasting Corp.

    Fox Business Network launched in October 2007 to compete with CNBC, a unit of NBC Universal which is owned by General Electric and Vivendi.

    Tune in. You may be the only one watching.

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