The presidential races made it look dicey. I felt both Clinton and Obama were smart, even if I wished both had more experience. The Republicans were more questionable. Fred Thompson looked like couldn’t eat without having someone cut his food for him. Mitt Romney was a free-market Mormon Ken doll. Giuliani didn’t appear to know how to even campaign for president, let alone be one. And Huckabee, while an awesome Colbert guest, believes he didn’t come from no monkey.
Then, in this GOP Twit of the Year contest, McCain somehow won. I have a lot of issues with McCain and certainly am rooting for the other guy, but McCain’s capacity for thought is definitely a step above his current boss. He could, say, find Georgia on a map without always guessing it’s right above Florida.
Biden, while a boring VP choice, is a smart guy, too. So there we were, 75% of the way toward getting back to the notion that presidents and their emergency successors should, you know, be kinda smart, until we arrived at this:
Ms. Palin was clearly caught off guard when Mr. Gibson asked, “Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?” Seeking direction, and perhaps time to formulate an answer, Ms. Palin leaned back, smiled stiffly and said, “In what respect, Charlie?”Chevy Chase should get out a dress, wig, lipstick, and glasses, because his career could be back in business.
Initially unwilling to define the doctrine, Mr. Gibson said, “What do you interpret it to be?”
Ms. Palin asked, “His world view?”
Mr. Gibson said, “No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.”
Ms. Palin responded: “I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.”
Mr. Gibson, finally defining the doctrine as “the right of anticipatory self-defense,” still struggled for a direct answer, asking twice more if she agreed with it before Ms. Palin answered: “Charlie, if there is a legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.”
1) “Svefn-G-Englar,” Sigur Ros. The most astounding song of the decade. Too much? Well, in the Age of Hyperbole, I understand the skepticism. But no other song since 2000 wowed me like this one. The grandeur of the sound, with reverbed guitars stretching from the bottom of the ocean all the way to heaven, mix with the intimacy of the vocals to produce something that feels like a hug from a giant cloud. Easily a desert island song for me.
2) “Scared,” Duffy. I got this album for TLB, who liked Duffy’s hit single “Mercy,” a song that initially frustrated us because we thought it was Amy Winehouse. I dig Duffy’s voice, and that’s 80% of enjoying music like this.
3) “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket. If Prince had been born in Lexington, Kentucky, his albums would have sounded like this. Seriously, there is a song on this album that I would mistake for Cameo if I didn’t know better. Word up, indeed.
4) “Wild Horses,” The Sundays. A great cover of the classic Stones tune. I think there are two ways to cover a song, especially a classic, well. You either completely mess with it, changing it into something so radically different that it bears little resemblance to the original. This is tricky, because people will give you a short leash when it comes to fucking with a classic song. The other method is to stay close to the original, but play it in such a way that it sounds like it’s really yours. This is the latter. It’s not that different from Mick and Keef, but the soaring female vocals and chiming guitar give it a gentler, almost ethereal feel.
5) “She Goes On,” Crowded House. My friend Bob recently moved back from Iowa City to San Francisco, and he has been tormenting me with “guess which act I’m going to see” e-mails. One of those acts was Crowded House. I was filled with jealous rage. We didn’t even get the lead singers of Warrant or Ratt up here this year. At one point over Labor Day weekend, I had Libby out on our back deck. There’s a “Blues Fest” here every year, and I could hear a band playing a pretty competent but practically note for note cover of “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers. That's about as good as it gets in these parts.
6) “Weekday Bender,” Paul Brill. New to me, and a tune worth hearing again. There’s a bit of Semisonic in here (I mean that as a compliment). And really, what’s not to like about a weekday bender. Anybody can drown a weekend in a bottle. It takes true liquor gravitas to do it during the week.
Speaking of which, I’m reading Steve Coll’s excellent book on the rise of the Taliban and bin Laden, Ghost Wars. There’s one anecdote where the CIA in the late 90s caught Mir Amal Kasi, the man who murdered three CIA employees outside of Langley in 1993. The CIA put out a massive manhunt for him and finally caught him after a few years. Upon hearing the news, CIA Director George Tenet told the CIA employs to celebrate and “have a cocktail before noon.” So George Tenet, this song is for you.
7) “Me and the Bean,” Spoon. This song sounds nothing like Nirvana, but Britt Daniels vocals sound eerily like Kurt Cobain’s—the low-key, haunted Cobain of the Unplugged album.
Speaking of eerie and haunting, TLB and I are addicted to Paranormal State. It’s like Blair Witch meets Scooby Doo, with a bunch of Penn State kids hopping in the Mystery Machine to fight ghosts and demons. I am very jealous of anyone who has had any sort of paranormal or supernatural experience—as much as that stuff freaks me out, I would get a big kick out of something like that happening to me.
8) “Street Fighting Man,” The Rolling Stones. I have always been more of a Beatles guy than a Stones guy, but this is a great song. I love how Bill Wyman’s bass sneaks out of the background at the end of the chorus.
9) “Ragged Wood,” Fleet Foxes. Like listening to the sun shine on your face. A terrific slice of folk-rock. And, heh heh, they said wood.
10) “One Reporter’s Opinion,” Minutemen. They really could do a lot in two minutes.
11) “Stand Back,” Stevie Nicks. My favorite song by her after Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” I appreciate how she was able to basically take a synthesizer-heavy dance beat and turn it into a distinctively Stevie Nicks song. Because after a long day of casting spells and communicating with fairies and making voodoo dolls in the shape of Lindsey Buckingham, even witches have to cut loose.
I am off tomorrow to Charlotte to watch Da Bears play the Carolina Panthers. I originally hoped I would be attending this game after the Bears posted a respectable loss to the Colts. But after last week’s improbable spanking of God’s second-string quarterback, I, like Sarah Palin, believe God is sending the NFL in a new direction. For did not the scriptures say, “And a little neck beard shall lead them?”
Have an awesome weekend.