Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I have been going through some old notebooks and journals of mine from when I was still a film student. The bulk of these were written when I was probably 19 or 20, which was about 3-4 years ago. Almost all of it is ridiculously embarrassing and I am going to destroy the bulk of them pretty soon, but some of them were actually kind of neat to go through. So I tore out a few of the poems and drawing I did that weren't that bad so that I can save them for posterity's sake. I'm going to share three of the poems/rhymes I wrote below. Enjoy and go easy on me. I promise I haven't written a poem in probably at least 3 years.

P.S. I'm including the titles that I originally gave the poems. Also, all of these were originally written in my horribly rote cursive that I hadn't used since 3rd grade but that I used with them because I probably thought it was more "artistic" or something.

"Sloppy in Style, Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar, and Flow - Yet Surprisingly Optimistic Poem"

When night has come, and doused the sun, to my waiting bed I run. Before I fall, as dead as leaves or weeds or anything at all, I crawl to the floor and thank the Lord for letting me live in this world at all. For in this life we are given choices, and with these choices come voices. Telling us which path to follow, some of them completely hollow. But others are filled with awe and wonders and these we should take above all others. So the only thing we have to fear is fear, that is undoubtedly clear. Fear comes with the voices that make evil choices, and try to take our free will so dear.

I actually like this poem because it has almost a classic quality to it. The way it flows in the beginning. I'm not quite sold on the last sentence. I feel like I could have beefed it up a little or at least kept the lyrical rhythm I had going. Oh well. Next:

"Stupid Poem #8"

If one were to transplant a brain, would the love contained within remain? Or would it stay, left behind, for the new owner of the old body to discover in time? I do not believe that love is so cold that it cannot exist without a soul. But what is a soul if not the creation of the mind? Something designed to help everyone find something in existance to help them put distance between the present and the end of time.

I like this poem because it also has a nice flow to it. And it ends better than the last one did. Also, the syllables fit really well at the end, unlike the last one. Moving on:

"Stupid Poem #9"

Entwined by the wine, they hoped for a sign to prove their lust was just. And just in time they received a sign when their genitals were turned to dust. Rusty, musty, crusty, and dusty was how they lived out their days. Living with the knowledge that perversion never pays.
I was (and still am) a huge Edward Gorey fan, and I'm pretty sure I wrote this right when I was starting to get into him. It's obviously a blatant rip-off of his style, but I still like it.

Well, I hope that wasn't too painful for anyone. I promise I'm done with poetry.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Great Lakes Lesser Cities: First Podcast

I just got done putting together our first ever GLLC podcast. It's not much, just some songs to get you in the mood for Spring. Hopefully, in the future, we'll do more in-depth podcasts covering real topics. But for now, enjoy this:

Or, Download it.
Just click the link and on the right side of the page, click "Download original."

1. Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
2. Fleet Foxes - "He Doesn't Know Why"
3. Jamie Lidell - "Multiply (In a Minor Key)"
4. She & Him - "I Was Made For You"
5. Bon Iver - "For Emma"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weird Notes from the Ether

This is what the world of bit torrents will yield:

It came along with a download of The Wire. Someone apparently wants me to know about Freemasonry. You know.. my grandpa was a Freemason, I've been told.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bush is Still Stupid

I just read a Gail Collins editorial this morning. I'm starting to really like her. I, for one, still haven't gotten over the fact that our President is a bumbling idiot. This speech to the Economic Club of New York is just one indication of that fact, out of the millions we've gotten over the years.

Maybe you're thinking, "Oh come on, he never knew economics anyway, and it's not like he controls that policy." I suppose, but when you combine Gail Collins' editorial with this article from Reuters, you realize that yes, he really is retarded.

"In a videoconference [on Afghanistan], Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.

Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country's democracy-in-the-making.

"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."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some New Music

OK, I know you're all listening to "Ashley Alexandra Dupre," the latest sensation to come out of England... er, wait, sorry, I mean the New Jersey girl who had sex with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, but maybe take the time to listen to some stuff Ted and I have been enjoying:

Fleet Foxes (MySpace)


El Guincho

Panda Bear

Maritime (cover of a Hot Chip song)

And Yet More Thoughts
on the
Spitzer Circus

More clues as to why The New York Times was hot on the trail of the prostitution bust, while everyone else had no clue:

"Just one fact piqued interest for some in the room: The lead prosecutor on the case was Boyd M. Johnson III, the chief of the public corruption unit of the Manhattan United States attorney’s office.

Later that day, reporters at The New York Times learned of the unusual presence of three lawyers from the corruption unit, including the boss of that division and an F.B.I. agent from one of the bureau’s public corruption squads. The public corruption units often look at the conduct of elected officials.

Within hours, the reporters were convinced that a significant public figure was involved as a client of the prostitution ring."

The Times apprently sent a reporter to stake out Spitzer's apartment and see what he was up to over the weekend, a fact which, in light of the following excerpt, makes it seem as though this reporter tailed Spitzer the whole weekend:

" Late Saturday afternoon, the governor hopped an Amtrak train to Washington, changing into a white-tie tuxedo in the train’s restroom."

Really? And how do you know that? Kinda creepy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thoughts on the
Spitzer Circus

Sure, it was a great New York news day. Big ups to The New York Times for breaking the story and reporting the hell out of it. But if the Times wants to follow through, they'll start thinking like others have begun to (check the comments) and examine why Spitzer was under so much scrutiny. Why were the feds looking so closely at his finances? Why this prostitution ring in particular? If this ends up netting only Spitzer and some random sleazeballs (i.e. no big money, no other big names), then there's a question as to why it ever happened in the first place.

On a journalistic note: This piece from Editor & Publisher examines what other newsrooms did with the news of the prostitution bust (before anyone knew it was Spitzer). No one seems to have any inkling that it was going to catch a big fish, except apparently the Albany Times-Union:

"[Editor Rex Smith] said the paper had filed a freedom of information act request Monday morning, before the Times story broke, for Spitzer's travel records from the February dates on which he supposedly met the prostitute in Washington, D.C."

That seems like a rational and prudent move on the part of the Times-Union. So why did the NY Times move so much faster, with high-level editors pulling late weekend shifts? The first piece I linked to mentions that veteran Metro reporter William Rashbaum got a tip that "Client 9" in the prostitution bust was a "New York official." Who gave him the tip might be a fact we'll never know, but it's the key to the whole thing. It's probably the only reason the Times was able to break this story, and who the tipster is and what his motivations are might indicate why Spitzer's identity leaked in the first place. Looks like Rashbaum's old-school experience paid off big time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today in
Breaking News

Today, we all found out that a guy who looked like he used prostitutes did in fact use prostitutes, albeit apparently high-class ones.

That guy being New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, duh.

I think it's (mildly) interesting (for a journalist) to note that three major papers-The New York Times, the New York Post and the Washington Post-all used almost identical headlines:

Wash Post: "NY Governor Linked to Prostitution Ring"

NY Post: "Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring"

NY Times: "Spitzer is Linked to Prostitution Ring"

Come on, New York Post, that's the best you can do? How about: "Hypocrite Gov. Indulged in High-Class Whores?" I think the question mark would maintain the Post's integrity.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Morning
Journalism Round-up

Let's start with the lede from this article by Steven Lee Meyers of The New York Times:

"President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques."

I don't know Meyers' writing, but this strikes me as a somewhat Times-ey lede, meaning that the first time I saw it, I had to read it twice to get the meaning. Why not switch things around and simplify a little bit:

"President Bush vetoed on Saturday a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency's ability to torture terrorism subjects, further cementing his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers."

I think that reads a little better, but we're still left with the rather weak "legacy of fighting for strong executive powers." For a paper often accused by the Right of liberal bias, that terminology makes me think either Meyers or his editors handcuffed his writing a little bit. One could just as easily say, perhaps in a different paper with a slightly more partisan bent, that Bush's veto further cements his legacy (maybe the Rove legacy, more accurately) of asserting the supremacy of executive power. To me, "fighting for strong executive powers" implies that Bush is some sort of crusader, bravely defending the rights of the West Wing.

Side note: The Washington Post seems to agree with me:

"President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it 'would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.' "

Right on, Dan Eggen.

And what would a journalism round-up be without the Chicago Tribune and their ever-depressing front page?

"1 student killed, 1 beaten"

"Woman charged with stabbing teen over boy"

"Police have suspect in UNC student leader's death"

From the San Francisco Chronicle, a story about today's Wyoming caucus, which Obama is leading, contains this sentence:

"Obama generally has outperformed Clinton in caucuses, which reward organization and voter passion more than do primaries."

Now, I like this piece of background info, which I've seen repeated in several different papers. It's useful to know the difference between primaries and caucuses. But what about that little "do" stuck in there, as in "more than do primaries"? Seems to me like the case of an over-eager editor trying to make the sentence's grammar perfect, though I'd like someone else to weigh in and tell me if that "do" is really necessary.

Finally, the opening paragraph from a piece found in the Feb. 11 and 18 New Yorker, which piece is unfortunately unavailable online. (note: I think "which piece" is the right way to refer back to the article, and not the entire New Yorker edition, thoughts?)

"My nickname when I was in junior high and high school, in Kansas City, was Loyd, my father's name. It was given to me inadvertently, in 1967, by my seventh-grade math teacher, who had taught my father thirty years earlier and sometimes forgot which of us he was calling on. In my father's day, the math teacher's nickname had been Tarz, short for Tarzan, because he was built like Johnny Weissmuller; by the time I had him, his nickname was Wheezer. He looked like Lyndon Johnson, with tremendous gravity-stretched jowls and earlobes. Age must have lengthened his scrotum, too, because he was always careful to lift his testicles out of the way before sitting in a chair or leaning back against the front of his desk. Sometimes, my friends and I, as we took our seats for math, would pretend to lift our testicles out of the way, too."