Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Excerpt from the maiden speech of National's new Taupo MP, Louise Upston

"Let's not be mistaken. The police are good. The criminals are bad. It's that simple."


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh, so THAT'S what the police are "there for"!

From today's Sunday Star-Times, this story from Nicky Hager and Anthony Hubbard:
"Anti-terror squad spies on protest groups"

Police teams set up to identify terrorism threats and risks to national security are spying on protest and community groups, including Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners, and Iraq war protesters.

Police officers from the Special Investigation Group (SIG) have carried out surveillance and used a paid informer to gather information not just about planned protests but the personal lives and sexual relationships of group members.

The police informer, Christchurch man Rob Gilchrist, whose activities are revealed in today's Sunday Star-Times, was a key member of various community groups during the past decade. He helped arrange protests and was close friends with leading campaigners, and advocated radical and illegal activities by the groups.

The Police are saying they "will neither confirm nor deny the identity or existence of any informant within any group" - and I think you can work out what that means.

What really struck me in this article, though, was the response from Police Minister Judith Collins. Collins says, "This government wants to ensure [the police] have the tools and the support they need to keep the public safe." So far, so good - one does hope the police have the resources they need to keep us all safe.

But she goes on to say, "From time to time it may be necessary to use paid informants. I think most New Zealanders would find it reassuring that the police are out there keeping a watch on the whole community. That's what they're there for."

Hey Judith, I don't find it AT ALL reassuring that the police are monitoring the political action and personal lives of political activists. And having informants "advocat[ing] radical and illegal activities by the groups" is NOT what the police are there for, and sounds awfully like entrapment to me.

I think I might write a wee letter to our Police Minister this afternoon, and if you'd like to do the same thing you can freepost it to:

Judith Collins
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

Friday, December 12, 2008

Turns out it's not just the disgruntled losers of the left

If you're feeling just a tad uncomfortable with the new government's first steps in power, you're not alone: notoriously Tory paper The New Zealand Herald has an editorial and an opinion piece from the political editor decrying National's methods.

The editorial, "Drug decision should be left to Pharmac", addresses "the ad hoc funding of Herceptin":

"National's decision to disregard Pharmac creates several problems. In the first instance, the Herceptin extension sets a difficult precedent. It suggests the Government is open to the sort of pressure that prompted the coining of the rule of rescue. Other small groups of sufferers may impose just as strong an emotional pull. Wisely, the previous government was content to leave such tough decisions to Pharmac, a body tasked with, and experienced in, making them.

... Ironically, a National government established Pharmac in part to prevent just this lobbying."

Meanwhile, political editor Audrey Young sez, "New Government wrong to ram through legislation":

Legislation is being rammed through the House without going through the scrutiny of select committees. Five bills are to be put through all stages this week and next.

... It might be okay for National to push one bill through all stages under urgency but there is no excuse for so many to be - other than to give the perception that the Government has ''momentum''.

Pushing bills through all stages without such scrutiny should be reserved for exceptional circumstances.

... National argued strongly before the election that Labour's changes to the emissions trading scheme bill warranted a return to select committee scrutiny.

In the words of Steve Maharey, perhaps that was just one of those things you say in Opposition."

On a related note, I created what I hope might serve as a hub for people organising political discussion and activism here on Facebook. Please pop over and take a look!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I love it that you can decide you want to watch or listen to something, and then go online and do just that. For example, YouTube contains a treasure trove of old cartoons, like these classsics from Disney's Silly Symphonies series.

Silly Symphonies was a series of 75 animated shorts produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939. Unlike the more famous Mickey Mouse sister series, Silly Symphonies did not usually feature continuing characters. The original basis of the cartoons was musical novelty, and the musical scores of the first cartoons were composed by stone-cold legend Carl Stalling. "Skeleton Dance" was (I think) the first in the series, and is unbelievably creepy cute:

(Click through here if the embedded player doesn't work)

After Disney secured exclusive rights to a new three-strip, full-color Technicolor process (replacing the previous two-tone process) in 1935, a 60 percent complete Symphony, "Flowers and Trees", was scrapped and redone in full color. The short was a phenomenal success, and within a year, the Silly Symphonies series became just as successful (if not more so) than the now-far-more-famous Mickey Mouse cartoons.

(Or click here)

Finally, from the Mickey Mouse series, this (quite literally) trippy masterpiece, also from '35:

(Or here)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ACTing up on the news pages

Cartoons later today, I promise, but first I have to share this rage-inducing tidbit with you.

From today's Dom Post article, "Setback for Hide on climate study bid", the dancing canary has this to say: "The previous government took it that human-induced climate change was a sort of fact. It isn't a fact, it's a theory the evidence doesn't appear to support."

And this guy is now very near the top of the political food chain.

However, Peter Dunne, who will chair the committee studying changes to the emissions trading scheme, was surprisingly reassuring. "A variety of international bodies have done the ground work. It's not the competence of a parliamentary select committee in New Zealand to go and completely revisit all of that."

The upshot of the article is that the committee will not be looking at whether human-caused climate change is taking place. Wodders is claiming a victory for the "sceptics" because the committee can "look at the accuracy of climate change predictions." This ridiculous fight ain't over!

Also of note in the news pages is an NZPA story from Stuff last night, "Tax cuts debated under urgency", which quoted three people: Finance Minister Bill English introducing the Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill; Labour's finance spokesman David Cunliffe arguing that the Bill was badly designed because it delivered benefits for upper and middle-income earners while low income families were the losers, it was undermining Kiwisaver, and cutting the R&D tax credit is folly for a government "targeting productivity and supposedly innovation"; and ROGER FREAKIN' DOUGLAS!!!

"ACT's new MP Sir Roger Douglas said it was 'a small step in the right direction' in marked contrast to anything Labour had done over the past nine years.

Sir Roger said core government expenditure increased by $18.2 billion above inflation during that time.

'This increased expenditure cost every New Zealander, on average, $1000 a month or $12,000 a year,' he said.

'And Labour spent that extra tax. . .on dubious programmes and failed social experiments that have not benefited New Zealand households by anywhere near the $1000 a month they took off them.'"

Why is this guy getting press parity with the Finance Minister and his opposition counterpart, especially when no other MP is? Is the press going to go running to Douglas for authoratitive comment on every economic issue? Key may have blocked Douglas from taking any formal position, but the press is certainly presenting him as a Very Important Politician, not one of many list MPs.

Friday, December 5, 2008

WANTS! But cannot has :(

I am currently madly in love with Mayer Hawthorne & the County's debut release, "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" (download here). Check out Hawthorne's bio on his label, how-are-they-sooooo-damn-cool Stones Throw. Bio of said "29-year-old white kid from Ann Arbor [Michigan]" includes a download link on the right of the page to the "Hawthorne Radio" podcast - but you should really just subscribe to all the Stones Throw podcast thru iTunes or some such.

Even more amazinger than the track is the limited-run vinyl:

Unfortunately, I was a couple weeks late to the Hawthorne love-in, and the initial run is sold out all over teh interwebs. I've signed up at a few sites to be notified if/when it comes back in stock, but even then I fear the overseas postage is likely to make it extremely difficult to justify. Damn living at the end of the earth!

Oh well, the next post will be more happy-making ... with cartoons!

Ooh, purdy...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Dear God she is wielding a sword"

(If these gorgeous pictures are cropped, just click on them to behold their full glory.)

Pitchfork has pointed out the amazing album artwork on recent/upcoming Neko Case releases (if you check out her website, refresh the loading page a few times for some more great images). Here's her latest, Middle Cyclone, due out next March on Anti-:

which is possibly even more awesomer than the art for 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood:


And doesn't she have amazing hair?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Can Has Musics double play

The Honky-Tonk Lagoon has been on a bit of an unintended hiatus in recent weeks, but I'm back and blogging now.

Also taking a break recently is I Can Has Musics on my Drive show, but it should be back next week (it would've been back tonight if I'd had the forethought to invest in some new blank CDs). Here's the blogs I looked at in my last two I Can Has Musics:

The Ill-ec-tronic is dedicated to that newfangled electronic music, so I'm very much a neophyte. It's run by RAW and The Langer. There's a notice on the site saying, "All MP3's are posted for evaluation purposes only. Tracks will be posted for up to 2 weeks." However, I had a wee explore and I don't know how strict on this rule this is - there are lot of goodies that have been around for a while.

I heard a lot of stuff that sounds cool, but then also a lot of stuff that just sounded the same.

Here's what I played:

Bjork, "Dull Flame of Desire (Modeselektor 'For Girls' Remix)"

Frank Omura, "Day Colliders"

Daniel Wang, "Like Some Dream (I Can't Stop Dreaming)" (this one's not new (from 1993), but it's my pick of the bunch)

Finally, I played Santogold, "L.E.S. Artistes (XXXChange Mix)" from this post about pop music, where The Langer tries to pin down what makes a good pop song. He says that "truly great pop record[s]" do exist, but concludes that "Quite often a remix can lift a good song and transcend it to the level of greatness." A wee bit condescending, really - I'm pretty sure that Santogold tracks can stand on their own two feet without retouching.

More recently, I looked into the treasure trove that is The Devil's Music, yet another blog largely dedicated to resurrecting old vinyl treasures. I was there in October, when they had a month dedicated to the glorious pagan spirit of Halloween.

The Upperclassmen, "Cha Cha With the Zombies"

The Tomko's [sic], "The Spook"

and one of my new favourite songs:

Johnny Thunder [not the Johnny Thunders, mind], "Horror Show"

Check out the October archive for many more fantastically ooky spooky treats.

PS. In more belated Halloween news, Luci and I had a first go at making jack-o-lanterns this year, and they were indeed scary. Scarily cute! Unfortunately, we never thought to take pix, despite the fact they sat on our mantlepiece until they got genuinely scary on the inside with ghoulish green fuzz. I suppose I could take some photos of their zombie remains in our compost heap...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Can Has Musics: Office Naps

Yeah, yeah, I know this is exactly a week late. My bad. Worth the wait, though...

Thanks to Booooooooof for recommending this gem. Office Naps promises "Fresh 45 rpm curios every Monday," but that tagline should have been modified when blogmaster DJ Little Danny went back to school at the beginning of this year, as he updates far less frequently now. However, even with less quantity, he's got quality by the crate load. And his academic pursuits - graduate study in audio archives and preservation - clearly ties in with the consuming passions of Office Naps.

DJ Little Danny says, "Thinking about music's place in the context of American post-War history is a big thing for me. I wanted to freely elaborate [ooh, split infinitive!] on music and, moreover, I wanted to do so online, where much discussion about records is either acutely anti-intellectual or mired in hopelessly cutesy collector talk."

Danny's discussion is fiercely anti-anti-intellectual and uncutesy. As a complete sucker for serious consideration of pop culture 'ephemera', this blog is right up my alley. Essays on various aspects of generic, geographic, thematic, etc, history are accompanied by three-song playlists illustrating the main points.

Everything on here sounds great and is accompanied by some fantastic essays, so check out all of it. Here's what I played on the show last week:

Del-Rays, "Night Prowl", from "Booker T. and Beyond"
Tony Martinez and His Mambo Combo, " Pharaoh's Curse", movie music from "Vibraphones, flutes and California Latin jazz"
Eden 'Nature Boy' Ahbez, "Tobago", from "The sea" (truly fascinating back story!)
The Other Four, "Once and For All Girl", from "12-strung"

PS. Booof recommends the sitar pop posts here and here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Politics, again

So it would appear that TV3 are playing right into Clark and Key's hands - playing the commercial considerations card, they've cancelled their leaders debate, and will likely schedule a head-to-head instead. Commercial imperatives or no, that's exactly the opposite of what they should have done - what C & K deserve is to be told, "That's just fine - you don't have to appear with the other leaders if you don't want to. I'm sure they'll all appreciate the extra time to talk. Just don't expect us to roll over and give you the cosy twosome you are demanding." It would be beautiful to see them come crawling back when they realise that such bully tactics are not acceptable. Ooh, it makes me so mad...

On the local politics front, I'm still not sure how I feel about the Awatea St stadium. Having absolutely zero interest in sports makes it hard for me to care about supporting it, but that's not necessarily great reason to take a position on it. If I was going to take a stand as a stadium opponent though, Peter Entwisle's Art Beat column in yesterday's ODT would be mighty fine ammunition - it is one of the more intelligent, wide-ranging, evidence-backed critiques I've seen in the pages of that august institution (or anywhere else for that matter), and it takes into account the aesthetics of the proposed design, something I don't recall being discussed much elsewhere. If we are going to have a shiny new showpiece stadium, it would be nice if it could be an architectural treasure.

And in international politics, the US veep debate on Friday is going to be great entertainment. I've loved the trainwreck fascination Palin has been providing with her interviews, so she should be good value. Biden, on the other hand, has faded into the background in the media coverage we get here, so it'll be a good opportunity to get a feel for him. They are both gaffe-prone, it would seem - surely there's some kind of drinking game to be played here?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The King and Queen have decreed...

I just saw on the news that Helen Clark and John Key have teamed up to decline appearing with other party leaders in the traditional Leaders Debates on TVNZ and TV3. They have agreed to only appear in head-to-head debates, with the logic that they are the only two possible people who will be our Prime Minister after the election. I'm not one to swear, but I am seriously fucking pissed off by this arrogant decision. Despite the way the major parties and the increasingly personality-driven media try to frame it, our election is not a presidential race. Nobody will be voting for Clark or Key except the people who choose to do so in their respective electorates. It's certainly not at all likely, but any other party could potentially get enough of the party vote to score their leader the top job.

In MMP it's the party vote that determines the composition of Parliament. At the Leaders Debates, said leaders are there as representatives of their party, to convince you to give your vote to their team (and not them personally). All the parties should be prepared to discuss all the issues, not just those prioritised by the major parties - who, after all, fit increasingly closer together on the political spectrum. Each party should get an equal shot; not a showcase for the big boys and a sideshow for everyone else (this is of course problematic, as we won't see the Kiwi Party, ALCP, Democrats for Social Credit, etc, lining up alongside either way; and TV3 had to be forced to allow the Progressives and United Future into the debate in 2005).

We already know National would like to trample all over MMP, but they haven't had their referendum yet. Labour's complicity is even more aggravating, given their supposedly egalitarian values and also their reliance on the support of valuable minor party partners, particularly during their last term.

The perception that the choice is simply between Labour and National - apparent in the rhetoric of politicians, framing in the media, and polls consistently showing the minor parties currently in Parliament struggling to break the magic five percent threshold - is frustrating. Given the circles I tend to run in, many people seem to believe that a vote for anyone but Labour is essentially a vote for National. But there are other parties they can vote for that are essentially a vote for a Labour-led coalition; and there are equivalent parties for National.

I gather that support for minor parties tends to increase as we approach an election, but arrogant moves like this jawdropper from Labour and National certainly don't help us shake the FPP mentality.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

And now for a 'jebus, kids are cute' chaser

From Overheard in New York:

Then Go With My Blessing, Caped Crusader

Mother of four-year-old boy (looking at display case): Wait up for me, Jack. Don't go on the escalator without me.
Four-year-old boy: It's okay, I can do it.
Mother of four-year-old: No, Jack. Wait for me.
Four-year-old boy: It's okay, mom. I can go up by myself.
Mother of four-year-old: Jack. Don't go up without me.
Four-year-old boy: Mom. It's okay. I can do it. I'm wearing my lucky Batman underwear.

- Overheard in Macy's

I know you all care passionately about American politics

So, we've finally got a date for our general election here in Aotearoa - so it looks like you've got a date on November 8. Don't miss it! And if you're not enrolled yet to vote, then why the hell not? Go to to enrol, and for lots of other helpful and fascinating information.

And now to return to the title of this post, I just wanted to point out this article from the Business section of the New York Times:

In "Economic View: Would Obama’s Plan Be Faster, Fairer, Stronger?", Alan S. Blinder outlines the thesis behind Unequal Democracy, a new book by Larry M. Bartels, professor of political science at Princeton.

According to Blinder's article, the guts of Bartels' book is that "the two Great Partisan Divides combine to suggest that, if history is a guide, an Obama victory in November would lead to faster economic growth with less inequality, while a McCain victory would lead to slower economic growth with more inequality."

Simple, really..?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Can Has Musics: Flea Market Funk

*If you do nothing else, skip to the bottom of this post to nab the amazing Marsha Hunt track*

Flea Market Funk (tagline: "FUNK SOUL JAZZ REGGAE") provides the scratchy 45 awesomeness that can only be found through the most thorough digging of crates (well, and some Kool & the Gang). Not being a particular audiophile myself, I love it that so many people of impeccable taste (and more patience for flipping through bloody great stacks of records than me) are ripping old 45s and LPs for teh benefit of teh denizens of teh tubes.

And DJ Prestige certainly does a thorough job of it, with posts covering the artists and labels behind his chosen tracks, descriptions of just why he thinks the tracks are so damn awesome, and anecdotes about how he came to acquire the records or decided to post about them. Here's a representative example: his post on Jean Austin & the Choir's "Straight 'Em" (dig that 'fro!).

Unfortunately, the file-sharing service DJ Prestige uses is quite temperamental, with restrictions on downloads set by intricate formulas involving the time the tracks have been available and the number of downloads they've had. I think this is why I couldn't download the most recently-posted track, Chick Willis' "Mother Fuyer", even though all the other tracks I tried were available, and it had had less downloads than most. I'll keep an eye out though, 'cos I understand it'll unlock eventually and the description sure sounds tantalising. And that album cover, oh that album cover (see above).

Anyhoo, of the tracks that were available, I played:

Jean Austin & the Choir - Straight 'Em (great gospel)
Kool & the Gang - Funky Granny ("weaves a tale of a hot pant wearing Grandma")

and one of the bonus tracks you can access by following the download link to "Funky Granny" (Easter egg!). Download this one right now, it's absolutely fantastic:

Marsha Hunt - (Oh No! Not) The Beast Day (srsly, right now)

Finally, DJ Prestige has a whole swag of mixes and live sets available for your downloading pleasure. Go nuts!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Daily dose of Awesome!

This is a few days old now, but if you haven't yet seen it you really should. Over and over again.

Sometimes I get a little sick of Jon Stewart's smugness, but sometimes he hits one of the park - often by letting the douchebags speak for themselves, as in the following example:

Despite being part of the evil evil Viacom family, The Daily Show has a pretty great setup on the web. Full shows, up pretty much immediately. Top job!

PS. This one's pretty great, too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My random gift to you

I had to put this track online for another reason, but I thought I'd share it here as well.

I discovered Eric "Monty" Morris' great track "Enna Bella" through the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes. I tracked down the CD for the Skatalites track that plays over the "No Problem" scene with Alex Descas and Isaach de Bankolé, but as you would expect with a Jarmusch soundtrack, there's plenty of other gems in there.

Including this track from ol' Monty - teh internets knows very little about him, except that he's been around since the birth of ska and is still touring as of quite recently. What I do know is that this song makes me happy.

Eric 'Monty' Morris - Enna Bella

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The transvestite Lego army is coming - and it's mad as hell!

In a serious dose of WTF?, The Bloggess got sent a promotional box of random Lego body parts. As she put them together, she discovered that, despite containing pretty pink floral torsos and legs and jaunty ponytail hairpieces, all the faces were of the "angry mustashioed man" persuasion.

Lego sez, “Each kit was supposed to contain an assortment of random parts; however, it looks like yours somehow consisted only of angry mustache faces. Please know that this was not at all done intentionally or to freak anyone out in any way.”

Who's freaked out? This is the first time I've wanted a particular Lego playset since I was twelve!

I Can Has Musics:

This week's featured blog was a recommendation from sneaky ol' Luci. is light on background info, heavy on stacks of fresh tunes, vids, etc. A wide range of genres is covered, and it's still alty enough for Luci's demanding standards.

Check out a fantastic video for Fiasco's "Oh You Horny Monster".

And download tracks from Japan's Avalon, Young Jeezy (he's Michael Phelps' favourite rapper, doncha know?) as well as the original Billy Paul track he's working from, and - my pick of their recent posts - fantastic weirdness from Volcano!. For my money, that last one is probably the only real keeper from the tracks I downloaded, but Pinglewood has enough variety you're sure to find something to your own taste.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

After the Massacre

So, the Brian Jonestown Massacre played their first-ever NZ gig at the Backstage last night, and it was an amazing night of really, really happy wasted people and some first-class psychedelic droney freakoutery. Absolutely no complaints there.

The whole mythology surrounding the BJM makes for an interesting experience. As someone who has never really listened to or otherwise followed the band (heck, I haven't even seen DIG!) and - despite my best efforts - as someone who was pretty much stone-cold sober for the entire concert, I felt like a detached observer of this intriguing phenomenon. The audience were clearly there expecting an amazing show - which was delivered in spades - but a big proportion of them also expected to see the fireworks the band are known for. There wasn't much of that at all, and as far as I was concerned that was a good thing, but for some the night wasn't really complete without Anton Newcombe throwing some kind of hissy fit. There was some light heckling of one crowd member, and you could tell that that piqued the audience's expectations before not really going anywhere. The band put on an amazing show, playing for a couple of hours before going out on an epic tide of drone and feedback. Then they put on The Thirteenth Floor Elevators over the soundsystem, which topped of the night wonderfully for me, even if I seemed to be the only one still grooving around on the d-floor to "You're Gonna Miss Me."

The most surreal moment of the night, and the real point of this post, was chatting to some guy (I think he may have been a member of my party at some point earlier in the evening, but I'm not entirely sure) about the show. He was raving on about how amazing the show was, but also about what bastards the band were for getting fucked off at the audience, giving up on the gig, and storming off early. This was not what happened at all - as I said, they played a totally-committed, really long show before going out on a perfect wall of sonic overload - but this was clearly the BJM show this guy had been expecting to see, and so that's what he did see. Now he shall forever have the memory of going to one of those BJM gigs, and therefore feels a part of that whole mythology surrounding the band. I tried to point out that they played a really long, really epic set that we should all be very grateful for, but beyond that I didn't push it - he had had the experience he wanted, and who am I to argue? And that's not a phrase you'll hear me use very often...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mmm, Dustbowly...

Now that I'm a dab hand at this whole filesharing malarky, I thought I'd start adding a couple of links to my favourite tracks discovered in the course of putting together Dustbowl Diner shows. So here's my picks for the August 31 show:

Dinah Shore - Buttons and Bows
So materialistic! But so cute!

The Band - Out of the Blue
This was the Band's last ever studio recording, and it's all sad and poignant and right purdy.

Also, Jolie Holland has a new album coming out in October. The advance single to The Living & the Dead is "Mexico City," available at here at Stereogum. When I interviewed Steve Abel about his new album Flax Happy I was delighted to discover that the tracks he recorded with Jolie Holland were recorded in the Wairarapa, my old stomping ground. That means I'm totally famous! Or something. Although I must confess, I didn't find the tracks in question overly inspiring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Can Has Musics: Lost in Tyme

Tonight's featured blog on I Can Has Musics? was freak-fest Lost In Tyme, a site that specialises in posting out-of-print records that aren't otherwise available unless you happen to get your grubby paws on a secondhand vinyl copy. They've got over 2000 records up, which is totally amazing (and potentially very tme consuming). My selections from the goodies on offer were Jeremy & the Satyrs' self-titled 1968 album and a CD re-release of mid-sixties albums from the Bad Seeds and the Liberty Bell.

The Satyrs serve up a dose of psychedelic rock that is the sound of 1968 (the producer also worked with the Electric Flag and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band).

Jeremy & the Satyrs - In the World of Glass Teardrops
Jeremy & the Satyrs - The Do It

I was particularly excited to find the Bad Seeds album, as I've been dying to check the first Bad Seeds out since I saw them on a DVD of TV appearances/proto-music videos of mid-sixties garage groups. I still like Mr. Cave's group better, but this is hella awesome too.

The Bad Seeds - Taste of the Same
The Bad Seeds - I'm a King Bee

Let me know if I've got these postings wrong - it's my first time!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Can Has Musics omnibus!

One of the main reasons I decided I could justify adding yet another weblog to the ridiculously crowded weblogosphere was that I thought it made sense to provide handy clickable 'hyper' links to the music blogs I feature on my Radio One Wednesday Drive feature 'I Can Has Musics'. However, since establishing the Honkytonk Lagoon I've actually been unable to host my Wednesday show for one reason after another. To celebrate getting back into it tonight (4-7pm, 91fm in Dunners or elsewhere) I'm posting the best of the blogs I've already featured:

Soul Sides: Crate-digging awesomeness from Oliver Wang. Soul, latin, boogaloo, funk, etc. Links up for a limited time, and it's all gold, so check in regularly or subscribe through a reader. Who can argue with posts like "JIMMY MCGRIFF: GIANT OF THE ORGAN" or "DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE PLEASURES"?

Waxidermy: More crate-digging delights. Perhaps a wider range, with great categories like 'Field Recordings', 'Garage/Freakbeat', 'Incredibly Strange' 'Instructional/Educational', and perhaps my favourite, 'Kids/School Bands'. I think the way that this blog works is that the most recent entry includes downloadable tracks, all other posts have streaming versions, so you have to be on the ball.

Dr Forrest's Cheeze Factory: In these days of ever rising cheeze prices, it's reassuring to know it exists in such vast quantities on teh internetz for FREE! One of my best I Can Has Musics finds: a whole swag of different versions of "St. James Infirmary". Score! The site is appropriately kitschy and quite busy - looks similar to a lot of personal websites circa 1998. It took me a while to work out how to actually download stuff from here (hint: click the cheeze).

If It Rotates We Can Control It: More funky souly stuff, with a 'world' focus. While there's a handful of links to individual tracks you can download, it mainly provides downloads of host Alex Panther's radio shows. Unfortunately, while the music selections are amazing, his radio voice doesn't really live up to his hep selections or groovy name...

Mutant Sounds: Entire albums of obscure weirdness. Fantastic music accompanied by pix of brilliant album art.

Said the Gramophone: Generally speaking, lighter lovelier stuff with rather floral blurbs that you could call poetic or precious. I just picked up a new Jolie Holland track from here, which makes me very, very happy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Follow the fun Fox farce!

This post is a little less delightful than the last one, but just as breathtaking. Everything I'm about to post is a little oldish, originally appearing over the end of June/beginning of July. But it's still an amazing look at the rigorous journalism provided by the good fair 'n' balanced folk at Fox News.

The story starts at The New York Times, where Jacques Steinberg wrote this piece about the ratings of various cable news outlets over the past few months (you need to sign up to the Times to read it, but it's free and you really should do it anyways). Steinberg's conclusion was that, while Fox was still the top-rated news channel, but it is now growing its audience at a significantly slower rate than CNN and MSNBC. Part of this, he acknowledges, is down to the protracted Democratic candidate race compared to the much shorter Republican race (Fox's primetime clearly swings Republican, and they hosted no Democratic debates) - and also that the other channels have been adopting Fox's "emphasis on sharp opinions, glitzy graphics and big personalities."

Steinberg also closes by saying, "Still, no one is ready to count out [Fox News' founder and chairman, Roger] Ailes, or Fox News. 'The proof is going to be once the political season is over,' [senior vice president of research at ad buying agency Horizon Media, Brad] Adgate said. “Can CNN sustain the momentum they have?' Or, to put it in political terms, he added, 'Is this going to have coattails?'”

In response, Fox News latched on to a short piece posted back in April by Radar Online, in which they pointed out rumours circulating about bad blood between Times television editor Steve Reddicliffe and News Corp, which owns Fox News, and at the time owned Reddicliffe's former employer TV Guide: "[I]t's got nothing to do with the supposed ideological differences between the liberal Times and conservative Fox; this grudge, say the blogs, is personal. 'It seems like [Reddicliffe] is still bitter about losing his gig at News Corp ... owned TV Guide,' says FTVLive. Circulation fell 40 percent at TV Guide while Reddicliffe was there and he was let go, only to be scooped up by the Times in 2004, the site recalls."

However, in their April posting, Radar took the rumours with a healthy dose of salt: "The suggestion that an editor has acted out a three-year-old grudge against an arm of the parent corporation which fired him seems like a bit of a stretch, but if you consider that he's probably yet to earn at the Times what he made in a single year at TV Guide, you've got yourself a neat little conspiracy theory. Although he could have just hated News Corp. all along, like the rest of us," they concluded.

Fox used this story to attack Steinberg's ratings piece on their always amazing morning show Fox & Friends (you can watch it here in New Zealand in the wee smalls on Prime TV, if you find yelling at your television an effective cure for insomnia). Watch this:

So, for one thing, they took the Radar piece on Reddicliffe completely out of context in order to attack a piece written by a different journalist altogether (Radar responds here). But wait, there's more - Media Matters looked into it, and found these interesting examples of obvious photo manipulation, embiggening noses, embaldening hairlines, yellowing teeth, etc:

A later New York Times piece reported that, "A spokeswoman said the executive in charge of “Fox and Friends” is on vacation and not available for comment but added that altering photos for humorous effect is a common practice on cable news stations."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say, who the heck is Shanghai Lil?

I've been vaguely thinking about starting a blog for a while now, but didn't really have anything momentous enough for that all-important First Post. Until recently, when I came across The Greatest Thing Ever. That's a deliberately vague and far-reaching description - of all the things that ever were, this is the greatest.

So what is this momentous Thing, you ask? It's a ten minute musical number from Busby Berkeley's 1933 feature Footlight Parade. The beauty of the backstage musical is your ridiculous musical numbers don't have to have anything to do with the central storyline, so Berkeley wasn't limited by the need to actually, y'know, make sense.

"Shanghai Lil" certainly shows that making sense doesn't always need to be a priority. It has everything, and then some. For starters, James Cagney getting drunk and brawling, and singing and tapdancing all in one number is awesome enough. Then there's the opium den full of zonked hookers, and a row of more alert hookers complaining to their johns a
bout Shanghai Lil - "That Oriental dame is detrimental to our industry" - before the aforementioned brawl (started when Cagney decks a sailor for saying "She's every sailor's pal, she's anybody's gal," and from which Cagney emerges in a sailor suit). Turns out Shanghai Lil was hiding in a box in the corner the whole time - and also that she's clearly a Caucasian actress in whiteface and a black bob. Swept into Cagney's arms, she sings, "I love you velly much a long time; I think that you no love me still." Fortunately, it's scientifically proven that tapdancing on a bar redeems any amount of racial stereotyping, 'cos that's what happens next.

Just when you think it couldn't get any better, an entire army joins the fray, marching in formation and waving their guns around to form kaleidoscopic patterns. And just when you think it couldn't get any more betterer, the soldiers are joined by a crowd of girls in coolie hats, and together they hold up placards (a la an audience at a sports game) to form a picture of the American flag... and then flip them over to display President Roosevelt! Then they march-dance around a bit more to form the logo of the NRA (not the Nuts With Guns Club, sadly, but Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration).

You can watch "Shanghai Lil" below, and there's plenty more Berkeley clips on Youtube (although it really loses something on a tiny or really grainy Youtube screen).