PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

March 30, 2008

Alphabetical Can Lyrics Unscramble You?

Filed under: Entertainment,General — CPav @ 11:45 pm
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My wife and I have recently been catching up with recorded episode of Don’t Forget the Lyrics, and we’re often pretty good with the songs. But they’re easy; the lyrics make sense.

If you’re a music fan, or remember lyrics, then this one will particularly challenge you: Name the song based on they lyrics. The challenge? The lyrics are presented in alphabetical order. Take the quiz.

The 300 Project: 19/60

Let’s Go to the Tape

I feel like I’m beating up on George Bush tonight, so I’m going to start this one off with Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.  But I will get to W soon enough.

My friends and family know me as something of a gadget guy.  Though I don’t usually have the disposable income to get the latest and greatest (I’ve been known to lead the kids past a big-screen tv at Best Buy and say “I could have one of those if I didn’t have to feed and clothe you.”), I’m usually at least passingly knowledgeable on the trends.

So it’s my great pleasure to introduce to you, the loyal readers of PCMS (or people just passing through; I’ll spread the seeds of knowledge willy-nilly) to a fascinating new technology.  I know you’ll find it hard to believe, but our scientists have now made it possible to point a box with a glass lense on it at one or more subjects and — make sure you’re sitting down — record what they do and say!!!

What’s that you say?    You’ve heard of this technology before?  Well, apparently Barack Obama’s former pastor, Hilary Clinton, and White House Spokesperson Dana Perino haven’t. 

By now, you’ve heard and read about the controversies surrounding recordings of the Reverand Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, some of which (Obama would say a very few of which) contained some fairly strident, anti-white (or anti-rich white) comments.  Obama gave ahat was IMHO a brilliant speech to try to not-so-much diffuse the issue, but to take the discussion to a new level.  I commented on the speech in a previous post, and St. Louis columnist Kevin Horrigan has an interesting column on the Post Dispatch website wondering if the speech wasn’t too intellectual for the general public. So I’m not going to rehash that.

On a number of occasions this campaign season, Senator Clinton has attempted to boost her foreign-policy cred by recalling a particularly harrowing trip she took to Bosnia back when she was First Lady. As she recalled it in a number of speeches, a welcoming ceremony on the airstrip was canceled due to heavy sniper fire, and the delegation had to run to their vehicles with their heads down. Then that nasty technology popped up, and video surfaced of Clinton emerging from the plane, daughter Chelsea by her side. They distinctly did not run, heads down, to their armored vehicles. Instead, they crossed to a waiting group, listened as a young girl read a poem she had composed for them, and accepted something from her.

“Well, what was I going to do,” Clinton asked, when confronted with the tale of the tape, “walk past this poor little girl? We ran to the vehicles after that.” More tape, more not running. Much handshaking and smiling and talking with soldiers, but no running and ducking, no sense of danger. Confronted with this additional evidence, she copped only to “misspeaking”, and blamed it on being overtired. Hopefully when she gets that 3 a.m. phone call, she won’t be misspeak and tell them to “attack” instead of “read poetry”.

At least Senator Clinton admitted to saying what she was quoted as saying. On his blog last week, reporter Eric Brewer recounted an exchange with White House Press Secretary Dana Perino regarding a speech the President had given on the anniversary of the beginning of the war. In the speech, the President warned that Al Qaeda might seize Iraq’s oil reserves and use them to damage the world economy.

There’s that fictional Al-Qaeda/Iraq connection again (yes, I know, he meant Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but that’s not what he said, and let’s face it, most of the public just isn’t hip enough on the difference to let the statement pass with a “well, everyone knows what he meant” shrug, like when he uses the non-existent word “nucular”), but that’s not what made me sit up and take note. Actually, that was because I think Ms Perino is kindof cute, and respect her for appearing on Wait…Wait…Don’t Tell Me, an NPR current events quiz show that regularly makes fun of her boss, but that’s neither here nor there in this discussion. What is important is that the President is now using Iraqi oil as a threat.

Remember when the war started, and the cynics pointed out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and that the U.N. inspectors had determined that Saddam Hussein didn’t have WMD, and that the only reasons to attack Iraq would be to avenge Hussein’s attempted assassination of George H. W. Bush and to control Iraq’s oil reserves? And remember when those cynics were branded as unpatriotic, and we were assured that we weren’t in Iraq for the oil? Well, now, 5 years and 4000 deaths later, we’re finally getting indications that, well, maybe the administration might have misspoken when they said we weren’t interested in the oil.

And Ms Perino’s explanation for the administration’s change of objective? Well, she didn’t really have one. She just denied that that’s what the President said and accused Brewer of taking the comments out of context.

Video of both the Perino/Brewer exchange and Bush’s comments are available at ThinkProgress.org. The text of the full speech is available at the White House web site.

The 300 Project: 18/59

An ONYDer Double-Header

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 10:51 pm
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Both of these ONYD quotes occurred a couple weeks ago, but I’m running late on clearing through some of my “I have to comment on that” notes, so I figured rather than roll up my post count, I’d combine them in a two-for-one deal.

On March 13, according to Reuters, President Bush called the Iraq war “romantic”, and said that he “env[ied]” the soldiers serving there.  This from the man who, in the best light, enlisted in the National Guard to avoid going to Vietnam (back in those days, there was a draft, so the National Guard stayed home to…well, guard the nation).  The full quote from Reuters’ article:

“I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

“It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

A couple weeks later, in an interview with Martha Radditz, the same interviewer to whom he uttered his previous ONYDer, Vice-President Cheney told us who the true victim in the whole Iraq mess was:

“The president carries the biggest burden, obviously…He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.”

Cheney also makes reference to the fact that many of the brave men and women who are currently serving in the military signed up in a surge of patriotism following 9/11, an interesting statement which, while factual (enlistments did increase after the terrorist attacks), once again draws the false tie between Iraq and 9/11 that the administration so loves, and totally ignores the fact that many of them are being forced to stay on in Iraq or Afghanistan, or return there following the end of their originally agreed upon enlistment period due to the military’s “stop loss” policy.

And that doesn’t even include the folks who joined the National Guard (as Bush did in the 60s) to defend the country, only to find themselves fighting abroad (as Bush didn’t), and forced to stay there after their enlistment. Be honest. Prior to Iraq, did anyone really associate the National Guard with armed combat overseas?

But at least they’re living the romance.

The 300 Project: 17/58

A Musical Curse?

Last night I got a chance to see a musical that I’ve been dying to see for almost two decades.

Stephen Sondheim’s Assasins debuted off-Broadway in 1990, in the midst of the first Gulf war.  As a Sondheim fan and (at the time) something of a student (my wife would say obsessive) about the JFK assassination, I was intrigued by both the style and substance of the show.  Living in St. Louis, without the ability to actually go to New York to see the show, I had to be contented with the soundtrack and script.  I didn’t find out about a local production of the show in ’96 until it was too late to see it, and I wouldn’t have found out about this one either, had not one of my son’s theater friends invited him to go with her to Friday’s performance.  Not wanting to crash their night out, I went solo on Saturday. This field trip allows me to make two recommendations to my St. Louis readers.

The first is the Ivory Theater, a venue in the Carondolet neighborhood of South St. Louis that’s housed in a converted church (the old St. Boniface, if that means anything to anyone).  The atmosphere is professional but casual; the lobby folks repeatedly warned people that the show was staged without an intermission, and encouraged patrons to visit the restroom and grab concessions to bring into the theater with them. The interior is gorgeous, with comfortable seats and a nice performance area.  The theater is home to a number of the area’s more progressive, edgier theater troupes, including Hydeware and New Line, which will be staging the regional debut of High Fidelity, based on the Nick Hornby novel and John Cusack movie, in June.

The second is the show itself. The Broadway staging of the play has been somewhat cursed, despite winning a number of Tony awards (including Best Actor in a Musical and Best Revival of a Musical) for its 2004 revival, which co-starred Marion Cantone and Neil Patrick Harris. The original off-Broadway production had its entire run (not quite two months) during the first Gulf War, and the revival’s almost-three-month run occurred during the second.  While some would argue that times like these were the perfect times for such an insightful, introspective musical, the public, and, more importantly, the backers, didn’t seem to agree.

Assassins is a concept musical, more a series of vignettes and musical numbers than an actual story, featuring the men and women who have killed or attempted to kill the President of the United States, from John Willkes Booth (Lincoln) through John Hinkley (Reagan).   The non-musical book is sparse, with (from my memory) a scene between Leon Cszolsz (McKinley) and the anarchist Emma Goldman, a couple of scenes between Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore (both of whom failed to kill Ford), one with Moore and Charles Guiteau (Garfield), and a couple of extended monologues by Sam Bick (Nixon, failed).  So most of the show is accessible simply by listening to the cast recording.

Due to its subject matter and abbreviated runs, Assassins isn’t performed often, so keep an eye out and see it if you get a chance.

For more information about the show, take a look at the wonderful essay “Inside Assassins“, available at the  New Line Theater’s homepage. Their Assassins Page has additional info and some great links as well.

The 300 Project: 16/57

Animator vs Animation

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 8:51 pm
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A friend sent me this link a while ago, and I’m just now getting to it.  Take a look at this clever animation by Alan Becker, speculating what might happen when an artist loses control of his stick figure creation.

http://fc01.deviantart.com/fs13/f/2007/077/2/e/Animator_vs__Animation_by_alanbecker.swf

(thanks, charlotte)

The 300 Project: 15/56

Fold-ins That Won’t Damage Your Magazine

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 11:47 am
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I’m hoping to hit the blogosphere hard this afternoon, with at least one movie review, a couple of tv notes, and some political commentary.  But first,  the New York Times Interactive has a fun feature with an interactive retrospective of Al Jaffee’s Mad Magazine fold-ins.  Take a look at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/03/28/arts/20080330_FOLD_IN_FEATURE.html.

The 300 Project: 14/55

March 20, 2008

ONYD Moment

Filed under: General,Politics — CPav @ 8:02 pm
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Piggybacking on the raging success of our coining of the term TYGA moment, we here at PavCo Multimedia Synergistics are pleased to unleash upon present to you the latest in our increasingly popular “Moment” line: The ONYD© Moment.
(pronounced “Oh-need”, in tribute to the clueless guy in the movie That Thing You Do, who pronounces the band’s name, Oneders (“One-ders”) as “Oneeders”. No, it has nothing to do with the meaning of the acronym, but it’s our word and we can pronounce it as we see fit.)

The ONYD moment is one in which a speaker (as with the TYGA moment, usually a politican or some sort of bureaucratic functionary) says something that causes the listener to jerk their head up and say “Oh no you dih-int!”

Considerate as he always is for the needs of the common man, Vice President Cheney provided us this week with a particularly quintessential ONYD moment, in an interview with ABC news. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Cheney was asserting that we were making measurable strides in Iraq. The interviewer asked the Vice President, arguably the second most powerful elected official in the country, how he responded to the fact that 70% of the American people did not think the war in Iraq had been worth it. Cheney’s response?

He said “So?” and chuckled.

The 300 Project: 13/54

The Speech

Filed under: General,Politics — CPav @ 5:54 pm
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Barack Obama gave a speech two days ago. Going in to the speech, it was being compared to Mitt Romney’s speech not too long ago in which he opened up on his Mormonism, or, for those with longer memories, John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech in which he explained to a group of Southern ministers that a vote for him would not be the same as turning the White House over to the Pope.

Since the world has moved on a few news cycles since then, a quick summary: Video hit the interwebs showing Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s beloved pastor, the man he credits for bringing him to Christ, in a number of sermons which are critical of the U.S. government and white people in general. Excuse me. It was later qualified that he wasn’t railing against whites, but rather rich whites. The candidate, who had previously asked his pastor not to appear at the news conference announcing his candidacy, went on television repeatedly, repudiating the comments but refusing to denounce the man.

This set the stage for Obama’s speech on Tuesday. There was speculation that he would address the role of religion in his life, or racism. What he did was practically transcendent.

I am too young to remember Kennedy’s Catholicism speech, but I’ve been exposed to enough history to remember his “Ask not what your country can do for you…” inaugural speech, and my first reaction to reading Obama’s speech (I was at work, and did not have the opportunity to listen to it at the time), was to compare it to that speech. As a low-level politician myself, and someone with some small facility with words, I was blown away by Obama’s speech.

It’s very safe, easy, and non-controversial to denounce racism. Most people would say that judging someone simply by the color of their skin or their country of origin is a bad thing. Of course, a number of those same people would gladly tell you how are stealing all the good jobs, or get all the breaks.

In his speech, Obama touched briefly on Reverend Wright’s comments, and put them in a historical context, that of a person who had lived through the era of the Civil Rights movement, as well as the injustices which had preceded it, and who still bears the anger that many of that generation do. Senator Obama also offered the observation that this anger was justified. And that statement could have ended his candidacy, or relegated him to the status of “black candidate”, one who justifies the anger of black Americans against white.

But he didn’t stop there. With his next breath, Obama gave almost the same historical context and understanding for the feeling of frustration and betrayal of lower and middle-class white voters, voters who have never themselves repressed others, but who see advantages and opportunities granted to those others, who see jobs going away.

In this single, brilliant move, Barack Obama has established himself in both camps, and again, it could have ended, with him making the case that he can understand the feelings of both black and white voters who see themselves as wronged or disenfranchised, but his point made, he went one step further still, recalling Kennedy’s challenge to the nation and call to action. He calls on the American people to make a choice: Whether we will focus on all of the slights and innuendo and speculation that divide us, or on the common concerns that unite us. If we choose the latter, he says, then in the next election we will simply focus on another, no-more-consequential distraction, and on and on, in a never-ending cycle. If, however, we unite around our common issues and begin the discussion here, it can continue on into the future.

From the linguistic point of view, I was impressed with the turn of phrase that Obama repeatedly returned to, the idea of the struggle toward perfection of the Union. He started out with the beginning of the Declaration of Independence: “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” He pointed out that the Declaration did not create a perfect union, and that intervening generations struggled toward filling in the gaps, as we do now. He referred to his own campaign as “imperfect”, and spoke of “perfect[ing] our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes…” And, at the conclusion of his final anecdote, about an old black man and a young white girl who came together on his campaign, he observed that “…that is where the perfection begins.”

The full text of Senator Obama’s speech is available at CNN.

Time Magazine’s analysis is here.

And my friend Mike Wallack chimes in with his observations in his blog.

The 300 Project: 11/52

TYGA Moments

Filed under: General,Politics — CPav @ 5:48 pm
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In the second 1980 Presidential debate, when President Jimmy Carter repeatedly accused then-Governor Ronald Reagan of opposing Medicare, Reagan finally looked at him and said “There you go again.”

It was an iconic moment in American politics, but could have become much more so, had someone applied simple military tradition to it and created an acronymic word, like SCUBA, RADAR, or FUBAR. So it is, without further ado, that we here at PavCo Multimedia Synergistics, introduce the TYGA© moment (pronounced tee’-gah)

A TYGA© moment is one in which a speaker, usually but not necessarily a politician, utters something which causes one to roll one’s eyes. President Bush’s repeated assertions that the economy was doing just fine, followed by his reluctant admission that it was going through a “rough patch” were TYGA&0169; moments.

Another TYGA© moment came this week courtesy of Senator John McCain. on his “remember, I’m the foreign policy guy” photo op “fact finding mission” to Iraq, Senator McCain gave a speech in which he repeatedly made references to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the “fact” that Al-Qaeda operatives were known to be crossing over into Iran for training, then coming back into Iraq. Finally, Senator Joe Liebermann steps up and whispers to McCain that he should have said “extremists” rather than “Al-Qaeda”, at which point McCain corrected himself.

We here at PCMS are not foreign policy scholars. In fact, we’re known to answer “Argentina” to any geographical trivia question, even if that question is something along the lines of “What island state’s name starts with ‘Haw’ and ends with ‘aii’?”. But even we are aware that Iran and Iraq are not exactly on friendly terms, what with that whole Shiite vs Sunni thing. (Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a Sunni organization. Iran is Shiite.)

While some have been portraying this as simply a senior moment on McCain’s part, or a momentary slip of the tongue, this claim is undermined by the fact that he made the exact same statement the day before, on a radio show. It is this that truly elevates it to a TYGA© moment.

The 300 Project: 12/53

March 15, 2008

Barack Obama Accused of Being Black — Heads Must Role!!!

So, Geraldine Ferraro’s talking the other day on tv. For those of you who are too young to remember, or who can’t quite place the name, or who have quite frankly just blocked the whole thing out, Ferraro was the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in the 1984 Presidential race. And she’s talking about the current Democratic candidates. And she did the unforgivable. She went somewhere that the Clinton campaign promised they wouldn’t go. She made comments that caused her, three days later, to resign from her post on the finance committee for the Clinton campaign (which, to be fair, no one knew she was part of until she ran her mouth off).

That unforgivable allegation? Ferraro alleged that Barack Obama is…make sure you’re sitting down now…black.

Specifically, what he said is that he wouldn’t be where he is now if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s black. And the crowd went (excuse my language) batshit. (Actually, I originally typed “apeshit”, but didn’t want it to be construed as a racist remark, given the conversation.)

As a politician and, perhaps more importantly, an English major, I’m well aware of the sometime-dichotomy between what people say and what they mean. But it seems to me that if you don’t understand what Ms Ferraro was saying, you’re willfully trying to not understand. The most common response is the figurative rolling of the eyes and dripping-with-sarcasm observation that “it’s sooo advantageous to be a black man in America”.

Digression:
I’m not going to sit here and say that blacks in America are on equal footing with whites. I believe (hope?) that they’re better off than they were thirty or twenty or ten years ago. But I’m not black, and I’m not going to pull the “some of my best friends are black” disclaimer because, quite frankly, they’re not. I hope (believe) that I treat everyone the same, regardless of race. I work with a lot of Indians and Asians (yes, I know that India is part of Asia, but go with the flow here), and have in the past worked with a few African Americans, and I would hope that I never gave any of them cause to think that I was treating them any differently because they were not white than I would if the were. If any of them do, I would truly like them to contact me and let me know.
End of digression

So anyway. Ms Ferraro said (essentially) that Barack Obama is the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination because he’s black. And everybody went nuts. Cries of racism and worse (well, no, not worse) rang from the rafters. And everybody who railed against Geraldine Ferraro and called for her resignation or, better yet, her firing and lynching, missed one major point: She’s right.

Barack Obama is a junior Senator from Illinois. He has very little in the way of legislative achievements to show for his time in the Senate, or even in the Illinois Senate. He has a flair for rhetoric, and promises sweeping change, but elements of his past (his involvement with a shady financier) and present (an aide telling foreign governments that he’s just saying things to get elected, not to worry about him following through once he’s in office) could cause people look closely to question how much the new is actually different from the old. But people aren’t looking very closely as of yet, and Obama’s gone in to states where the Clinton name has traditionally done very well, states that were seen as virtual gimmes for Clinton, and either won or made it a race. And the reason for that?

Black voters.

You cannot convince me, though you’re welcome to try, that a relatively inexperienced white politician from Illinois could go in to Mississippi with a pocketful of nebulous promises and a pretty turn of phrase and have them turn out in droves at the polling places to pull the lever for him. But turn out they did. If anyone can explain to me why this would be other than race, I’m willing to listen.

No, wait. I need to amend that last statement. Because it sounds like I’m saying that the only thing Obama’s got going for him is the color of his skin. I certainly don’t believe that at all. And I don’t think Geraldine Ferraro does either. But to say that Obama’s race plays no part in his success, especially in areas with high African American voter turnout, is disingenuous at best, and delusional at worst.

The 300 Project: 10/51

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