Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mic Bleg

So, the Misanthrope has decided that he will finally get around to recording some classical guitar for real in 2006. Last night found him buried in a sea of scores trying to figure out which pieces to include and which to ditch.

Part of the preparation for this will be a little home recording on my laptop. This will not be the final recording, for which I will get Chrispy and Jackson to help as soon as I find a good room. These will be more like progress reports on my preparation. Also, I'd like to get used to recording the classical stuff as I have never really tried before.

So here is the bleg: What's a good mic for this application? I doubt it's the SM 57. I'm willing to spend a little money to get something that will produce a nice sound for these "demos."

Fire away, audiophiles.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Kristen Cavalier...er, Cavallari

The elf plot thickens.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

The Misanthrope has always loved the King James Bible for the beauty of its language. Tonight, many of us will hear one of the loveliest passages of all:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas to all. The Misanthrope is thankful for his wonderful family and remarkable friends.

Best Quotation from the Strike

From the New York Post:

"The REAL horror story was biking over the bridge - like I do every day on the way to work - and passing the horde of sallow, whimpering MTA riders, many wheezing, as they propelled their bloated bodies towards their sugary breakfasts and desk jobs." - Josh Boyer, Brooklyn

Maybe it's just the spirit of the season, but the Misanthrope feels a sense of joy knowing that there are kindred souls like this out there.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

La Taza de Oro

This Misanthrope was around the neighborhood this afternoon, trying to glue together the pieces of his broken life...okay, I was buying shampoo.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to have lunch at La Taza de Oro on 8th Avenue between 14th and 15th. $4.50 bought me a savory roasted chicken leg, a mountain of black beans and yellow rice and a cup of what is easily the best coffee in the neighborhood.

The Misanthrope is right at home in the mid-60s lunch counter setting with nary a word of English to be heard. No frills, just a steaming plate of Puerto Rican comfort food.

You can't beat the place with a stick.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Just Like My Bloggy Style

One of the interesting things about reading friends' blogs is seeing the different styles that emerge. For example, MikeDot's blog is mostly about storytelling. His posts are like mini-essays, usually with a lot of wit and humor. My personal favorite is the post about string arrangements, if only for this part:

(One day drummers and violists are going to be tired of getting picked on and are going to revolt against the Guitar/Violin Machine [G/VM]. The streets will run red with blood and catgut. We will build crosses out of rosewood & maple. And as we're rhythmically nailing them to the crosses, the drummers will undoubtedly rush the beat.)

Another style which I like is found in Waved Rumor, Dfactor's blog, and Travelers Diagram (Update: Tim's active link blog can be found here), Tim and Melissa's blog. Dfactor is like a clearing house of information about his passion, which is the rock. I don't know how he finds so much news, but he's always got something interesting to read. Worth checking out. Tim and Melissa also have the passion for music and they post interesting things like their top 10 shows for the year or their top 25 albums for the year. Think of them as the cool friend who seems to know about every cool band months before anybody has heard of them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's All Upside

If this is what New York is like when we effectively shut down the border with New Jersey, I have no real complaints. Maybe we can stage one of these strikes once a quarter.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The Misanthrope is reminded that, as always, people are disappointing. Oh yes, so disappointing.

The Elf Has Been Sighted

On Saturday afternoon I saw the elf from last Saturday morning. She was walking down Horatio Street, dressed in sweatpants and a parka. When she first walked by, I knew she was familiar but I couldn't figure out why. By the time I figured it out, she was halfway down the block and Wallace was taking a crap, so I didn't follow her.

I guess she really does live in my building.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wilkommen in der Schweiz, Herr Waters

I'm going to wait for Chrispy to break the news that the story about Roger Waters moving to Switzerland was, in fact, true.

At least that's what Chris told me on Friday night.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

That Felt Good

The Misanthrope played a double set tonight at Fontana's, a new club on Eldridge between Broome and Grand. It was nice to play at a club where the people who work there were actually friendly and nice. All in all, it turned out to be a good night. I hope Fontana's turns into a great club, at least so I can say that I was in the first two bands ever to play there.

First up was the Via Skyway set with George, Chrispy, Rob Machold and MikeDot. As usual, Rob shepherded us through and kept the vibe nice and quiet. Chrispy wins the purple heart for singing the most heartbreaking song in the set, "River," without aid of a monitor.

The Microdot set felt great. It felt like Joe, Mike and I clicked live for the first time (out of three shows). I was having a great time, even if I am now even more deaf.

Next show is January 3rd at Pianos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Life Day Everybody

From Chewie.

Where's Bea Arthur when you need her?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Where's Chrispy?

I'm sending out a search party.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What? Huh?

So, the Misanthrope was out with a lovely young redhead this evening, and his cumulative hearing deficit was a huge problem.

Let me go back a bit.

In 2000, the Misanthrope found himself prone to bouts of extreme dizziness. I would be walking down the street and suddenly the whole street would feel like it was swinging hard to the left and then bobbing up and down. I would be sitting still on the couch and it would feel like the couch was flipping over. It was just short of being severe enough that it would make me nauseated.

As a result, I went through a battery of tests. My then girlfriend, the doctor, demonstrated her professional bedside manner by bursting into tears and saying, "You CAN'T die on me" when I failed the basic neurological test she gave me. Luckily, the MRI was clear.

One of the tests I took was a hearing test. I fully expected to find that I had huge hearing deficits because of the inordinate amount of time I had spent in front of 100 watts of rock power.

Turns out I was wrong. My hearing was, in fact, well above average at every point in the spectrum.

But I don't believe them and tonight is another example of why. Despite my supposedly excellent hearing, I was straining like a 78 year old listening to Matlock on broken TV to hear what this lovely young redhead was saying. I mean, seriously, I was getting about 65% of the whole thing and that was including the lip-reading and general deductive reasoning I was employing. It was frustrating because I think she thought I was not interested in what she was saying.

Oh, the slings and arrows of outrageous volume.

So what's my point? My point is that Roger Waters is a socialist blowhard. I am old, deaf and cranky and I want a chocolate croissant NOW.

Genesis: 1975-1980 - "Documentary"

One of the benefits of being newly single is that I now have sole control of the Netflix queue. Because of this, I was able to bump up "Inside Genesis: 1975-1980."

Truly, this was one of the most bizarre documentaries I have ever seen. There is some actual concert footage of the band, most likely from their 1979 and 1980 tours, but they never let you see a full song. More importantly, none of the footage features Steve Hackett, who left in 1978 following Seconds Out. So, on the "cool old concert footage" score, this one's a dud.

But the "talking heads" they chose are the most bizarre thing about this. They are: a music critic, a keyboardist, a singer who was probably born in 1978, a session guitarist and a session drummer. I have no idea who any of these people are or why they were chosen to talk about Genesis. The keyboardist sits behind a keyboard and says silly things like, "The song starts in G, which is nice for guitars because it's such a big, open string chord." He actually says this twice and in both cases there is no guitar playing a big open G chord. Hilariously, one of the commenters (the drummer, I think) , actually says that he didn't really think much of Tony Banks until he heard "Duchess" from Duke!

Anyway, for the old Genesis fans who read this blog, I have to warn you away from this time waster.

Now, if they would just re-release a high-quality version of the 1973 concert film of the Selling England by the Pound tour. That would rock.

Virtues of the Web

The mini-imbroglio over Roger Waters below is an interesting example of why blogs are fun.

The whole thing started out of a comment made in an earlier post where Chris quoted Roger Waters saying that the real test of being a socialist was when the money started to roll in. I'd never heard the Waters quote before, or even associated him with any kind of hard core socialism, but it struck me as hollow because I remembered reading a long time ago that the band had fled to their respective tax havens following the Animals tour. So I put up a snarky post about it and found a link confirming the story I had remembered.

Well, Chrispy didn't like that at all. Eventually, he provided the back up and the details and I stand corrected. I suspect that what happened was that the story of the band's financial woes became simplified into "the band fled to tax exiles."

Anyway, that's why blogs are fun. I story I had believed true for years turned out to be only a partial truth and I got corrected.

Roger Waters - Paragon of Virtue

Chrispy states that the story that Roger Waters established residency in Switzerland to avoid UK taxation is not true. I'll defer to him as I have not read the Pink Floyd texts he has. Apologies to Roger Waters, who is still a Socialist in good standing, it appears.


(The original title of this post was Roger Waters - Socialist Tax Exile. I changed it because it was not fair to him (see below) and because I thought the new one mocked my original (incorrect) post pretty well.)

Chrispy asked when Roger Waters lived in Switzerland. Like many UK rock stars, he fled the country in the mid 1970s to avoid the high taxes then in place. I can't remember exactly where everybody went, but I do know Waters avoided his taxes in Switzerland, which is where he wrote most of The Wall.

Like I said, when the money started to roll in, I guess Waters decided he wasn't such a socialist after all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, Rock Calendar Nazi Droid

How about "Pearl Jamuary"?

The Rock Calendar - Complete

First of all, I erred when I said the Rock Calendar starts on Zeptember 1st. It actually starts on Rocktober 1st.

Here is the full calendar

Steely January
Marchers of Loaf

Thanks to MikeDot, KeviNY1 and Johnny Strikes for their help.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Joy of NOT Playing Guitar/Black Taj

Following the run-in at 6 AM with the confused elf, the Misanthrope went to Williamsburg to listen in on the new Strikes Again! recording going on at Smoke & Mirrors Studios, the Misanthrope's all-time favorite recording studio.

It was a very different experience being in the studio with no requirement that I play anything at all. It made listening to the sounds the guys were getting a very different experience. Suffice it to say, Chris is capturing the sound of the band extremely well. I've always admired the tremendous amount of thought and effort that goes into the arrangements of Strikes Again! songs and it is going to be a treat to have a good recording of these new songs so that I can really hear what is going on. Plus, Jeff Wiens plays a solo on "Hell Disaster" that will be appearing in "Guitar for the Practicing Musician" in about a year because everyone will want to learn it.

Later in the evening, I met up with Brother Big Red John Boy Jethro Elmore to hear some music at North Six. The first band on the bill, Stay Fucked, was a bit like an amped up, Relayer-era Yes without any of the positive vibes. The guys could really play and some of the sounds were really interesting. As a math rock geek, I was into it. Birds of Avalon were entertaining, but after the 5th song featuring no ideas that did not come directly from the 1970s Rock Playbook, I grew tired of them. EVERYBODY - PLEASE STOP MINING THE 1970s. You will not do it better than they did back then.

The reason we were there was to see Black Taj. John and I are big Polvo fans and Steve and Dave from that band form the core of Black Taj. They sounded great and the songs were interesting by HOLY SCHNEIKES!!! the drummer was AMAZING. He played with a fury and abandon that I have never seen. I can only imagine that this was what watching Moon was like, at least in some very small way.

The less said about the headliners, The Fucking Champs, the better. The music was dull, joyless and irritating. Yecch.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Season of Giving

The Misanthrope was awakened at 6:00 A.M. this morning by the frantic barking of the WMDs. The WMDs do have a tendency to sound the alarm at any disturbance, from talking in the hallway to sunspots, but they typically settle down after a bark or two. This morning they would not shut up. I was getting ready to check the window for signs of an alien landing (because movies have taught us that this is the most likely reason for incessant barking), when I realized that the front doorbell was ringing.

When I looked through the peephole, I saw an attractive girl with brown hair. She couldn't have been more than 25. My first thought, of course, was that word of the Misanthrope's new single status had finally gotten out. This kind of thing has happened to me before.

When I opened the door, the girl said in a very quiet voice, "Hi, I'm here with Kristen Cavalier and MTV and we're doing some carolling because of the spirit of the season."

As we all know, the Misantrhope does not have cable and MTV has sucked since about 1992. I thought that there might be some new prank show called "Chris 'n' Cavalier." I told her that I didn't know what she was talking about. She then asked if "Kristen Cavalier" had called me. I said no. She said that Kristen was one of the richest women in Laguna Beach, California and she was supposed to call me. I told her that my name happens to be Cavalier, but I don't know of any Kristens in the family.

At this point, I was beginning to get worried that she was disoriented or in trouble, but she didn't seem drunk or stoned except for the weird story about going carolling at Gristedes at 6:00 AM for MTV because of the "spirit of giving."

When she mentioned the "spirit of giving" for the tenth time, I was beginning to wonder if she was a hooker sent by one of my friends as a joke.

Anyway, I asked her if there was somebody I could call for her because the most likely explanation seemed to be that somebody had slipped her something and she was wandering around confused. She said no and then told me that she lived "three floors up on Jane Street."

Then she asked me if I was Italian. When I said no, she looked disappointed and said "Oh." Still, she kept standing there without turning to leave. I asked her again if she needed me to call somebody, but she repeated that she lived three floors up and, finally, turned to leave.

It was then that I realized she was wearing a red and green elf costume under her black jacket.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ted Wilson Molests Afghani War Orphans

Or something like that.

There is no need for Ted to worry. The Misanthrope starts from the position of hating all humanity. There is no additional anger at Ted for his theatrical comments. My response was more the weariness of somebody who doesn't have any interest in debating his friends in that way. Also, I really do believe that Ted listens to the arguments and I found his original post in response kind of interesting.

Everybody relax. Ted and I are still capable of making a cup of International Foods Swiss Mocha Mint, grabbing a pint of Haagen-Daze and settling onto the couch to talk about relationships and watch the Ally McBeal marathon on the Oxygen network.

Oh, for the record, seven of my ancestors fought in the Revolution so you pinkos could have this conversation with me.


The Tao of Chuck

This site had me laughing pretty hard.

It reminded me of the time I was on vacation in Anguilla in 2001. We were in a cab from the ferry dock to our hotel, when the cab driver turned to us and pointed to a modern, white house on the beach. (BTW, the beaches in Anguilla are incredible). He had been pointing out various points of interest throughout the trip. With evident pride, he told us this was Chuck Norris' house. I was kind of surprised that Chuck Norris was considered worthy of this kind of civic boosterism, but I've never seen anything with him in it, so I acknowledged this landmark with a nod and a smile.

If only I had known his power. It's now clear that the comment was not said out of pride, but out of fear that Chuck would deliver a roundhouse kick to the taxi driver's head.

Strikes Again! Last Night

Saw Strikes Again! last night at CBGB.


The highlight of the show for me was standing in the area behind the stage and watching the band from the back. I've never really had a chance to listen to MikeDot play drums. Usually we are doing demos or something when he is playing drums around me. It was really fun to watch him shepherd the immense energy of the band along. It was also great to see the way he and bassist Johnny Strike connected with each other.

This is a band that has consistently impressed me with the power of their performance and the creativity of their arrangements, particularly for a band that rocks so hard.

See them


Ted has expanded his thoughts and I am pretty surprised by the turn he has taken.

He accuses me of "mean-spiritedness," which I don't really see (although I am happy to be shown examples of it and apologize if appropriate). I address his issues specifically and disagree with many of them. Nothing in the post is presented with a sense of mean-spiritedness.

I certainly never wrote anything like this:

I was wrong about that, obviously Dave is very well read. Unfortunately he can't grasp what any of it means. He sees it as not useful, or inapplicable, and I think that is dangerous.

Or this:

When was your day Dave, the 3rd grade? My God, that statement is scary. So, what's next on the list Dave, shall we invade Russia during the winter?

I don't know what these emotional comments are meant to add, but since Ted is now taking the position that anybody who disagrees with his reading of history is thinking at the 3rd grade level, I am going to bow out of this discussion. I have no interest in this level of debate.

I'm Taking Ted to the Gold Club Now

Ted has expanded his thoughts on his previous post about using historical examples to augment our understanding of the current situation in Iraq. I thought this was very helpful in clarifying what he was getting at, particularly his point that Rome spent a lot of time, blood and treasure holding on to its possessions.

I will only take issue with one point he makes.

Ted writes:

Dean's proposal is not disengagement. It's redeployment. I think it's a good step. I never said cut and run, I never said throw in the towel. I'd hate to live somwhere where any divergence from the party line is immediately labelled defeatist or dangerous. That's smells like McCarthyism. That smells like intollerance. Hate driven by fear.

There are two issues here. One, is Dean's proposal being mischaracterized as disengagement. Second, is whether the furor over his comments is indicative of a general climate where dissent is squashed.

On the first issue, my opinion is that Dean, Murtha, Pelosi and Kerry are, in fact, advocating disengagement and that disengagement is dangerous at this point. Parking the troops in Kuwait is disengaging. How are you going to fight Zarqawi or ex-Baathists, who are in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle, when your troops are in Kuwait City? It's not physically possible. If we play this scenario out, the primary way that U.S. troops exert influence from Kuwait is when the situation in Iraq deteriorates to the point where we must go back in. What is the tactical or strategic point of withdrawing if we have to do that again? We also run the risk that withdrawing leaves a security gap that the "insurgents" can exploit to control large areas of the country. This would probably lead, over time, to a re-invasion by U.S. troops. I just don't see what tactical or strategic advantage there is to "re-deployment." I see only downsides. Since we are withdrawing for no advantage except to take our troops out of the combat theater before it has stabilized or victory is achieved, I view that as cutting and running. And I also believe that Zarqawi and many in the Middle East see it as further confirmation that the U.S. will never stay if you hit them with guerrilla tactics.

On the second issue, I think we need to retire the tired trope of McCarthyism. If Dean wants to say something, he has to be prepared for dissent. Having people disagree with and criticize your opinions is not McCarthyism. Having your ideas be unpopular is not McCarthyism. I don't agree with the overheated "un-patriotic" comments that many on the right make, but that's not McCarthyism either. Those people are just kooks. There are plenty on the Left who have no qualms about comparing Bush to Hitler. I don't think they are engaging in McCarthyism either.

Nobody is preventing Dean or any other Democratic leaders from expressing their opinions. Nobody is being censored. Nobody is being thrown out of jobs or blacklisted because of their anti-war comments. What Dean said is unpopular with a great many people and they are expressing their opinions.

With all due respect to Ted, I think raising the specter of McCarthyism and intolerance is kind of like throwing out the "racism" charge. It freezes discourse and makes it difficult to proceed. It's a way of saying, "I can criticize the Republicans all I want, but if they criticize me, it's censorship and witch hunting."

Kyiv Dispatch

Misanthrope's older, nicer brother has posted an update on his situation in Kyiv.

Actually, it was written by the Misanthrope's sister-in-law, but it is chock full of interesting observations.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Interesting Poll in Afghanistan

I thought this was an interesting poll given our discussions about what victory can look like in Iraq. (Via Instapundit)

I recall many observers saying at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2001 that history had shown that Afghanistan could never be held. I also recall many observers pointing to how much the U.S. was hated and how the invasion and occupation would end in disaster.

This is not to say that life is rosy in Afghanistan. The picture is bleak on many of the basics.

Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.

However, there appears to be a strong sense of support for the U.S. invasion and the U.S. occupation's role in nurturing the beginnings of a representative government there.

Yet despite these and other deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

One figure I found remarkable was that only 4% of those polled thought that the United States was the greatest danger to Afghanistan. By comparison, 41% of those polled thought the Taliban was the greatest danger.

The picture is not complete, but is remarkable how the relative stability and freedom created by the U.S. invasion has affected attitudes towards America in Afghanistan. i think this is something to bear in mind when considering the question of Iraqi attitudes towards the U.S.

She Must Have Hidden the Plans in the Escape Pod


My new stage name is Big Muff Tarkin.

Strikes Again! Tonight

MikeDot's band Strikes Again! is playing tonight at CBGB.

Show starts at 9 P.M. sharp.

I can only describe the band thus: When they start to crank, it's like being in the middle of a hell disaster.

Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Rock Calendar

MikeDot just posted about AC/December. This led me open up the Big Book of Rock Knowledge and research the other names in the Rock 'n' Roll Calendar.

We all know that the Rock Year starts on Zeptember 1. Please remember that the Rock Year is a lunar calendar. There are no leap years.

Nova Mob-ember
Jan and Deanuary




I like ponies.

I Blame Bush

My horoscope has been eerily accurate for the last week or so, but only if I apply the predictions for the preceding day to today. I think my horoscopes are being stopped by the UN Police at the International Dateline.

I'm a Leo. My name is David.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's kind of like living a low-budget version of "Early Edition."

I've never actually seen an episode of Early Edition, so I can now scratch that off my "To Do" list and move on to "Take Sushi Making Class."

Which is cool because here's what's coming up for this Leo on Friday:

Leo - Doing just one thing different has a very nice ripple effect right now. Invite someone unusual to lunch, or take that sushi making class, or go check out that exhibit you keep reading about. The idea is to get things expanding -- your mind, your regular routine, your circle of friends. Once expansion's occurring, it'll be hard to stop it -- not that you'd want to. The new sensations that accompany it are tremendous.

I find this prediction terrifying because I am a change-fearing creature of habit. When I order from the burrito place, they don't even need to ask for my order anymore.

So I've decided to go with the first option and invite a dead man to lunch.

A Little History

Ted has posted a response to my earlier post on Howard Dean's irresponsible comments on Iraq.

To begin, Ted sates:

Victory is defined as a resolution to a conflict in which the victor gets to impose his will on the defeated. In this case the enemy is an ideology, so victory is therefore moot.

While I think this definition is a little narrow, I can live with it. I don't understand the second part, however. The enemy is not an "ideology," it is people who are trying to impose that ideology on other people. "Nazism" was an ideology as well, but that didn't mean that victory was moot. If you help create a functioning, elected government with armed forces capable of maintaining domestic peace in Iraq, that's a victory. It doesn't mean people like Zarqawi are going to stop existing or thinking what they think, but it is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, to pose a significant threat. There are "Nazis" in the U.S. but nobody seriously believes that they are going to take down the government and start sending Jewish citizens to camps.

Ted continues:

Thusly, when one quotes Howard Dean by inferring that he said 'we can't win', one is, in fact, giving Howard undue credit for being right. We cannot win.

I didn't infer from his comments that Howard Dean said we aren't going to win in Iraq; I quoted Dean as saying it. I don't know how much clearer his comment could have been (Dean :"the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong"). I'm not at all certain why pointing out what a silly, irresponsible statement that is gives Dean any credit at all. I mean, I'm basically saying that the guy is a misguided idiot. Not a lot of credit there.

I didn't just imply that saying we aren't going to win is dangerous or irresponsible; I said it directly. It is irresponsible and dangerous. It's dangerous because it hands a lot of credit (and a huge PR victory) to an insurgency that has no way of winning short of wearing down public opinion in the U.S. It's irresponsible because Dean is a representative of the Democratic party and it sends the message that at least one of the major parties in the U.S. is ready to throw in the towel.

Ted then writes:

To those who disagree, I suggest reading some history.

I've read more than a little bit of history in my day and I'm not certain I follow Ted's examples. Historical analogies, in my opinion, don't shed much light on current situations because they are so imprecise.

For example, Rome predates the advent of Islam by a few centuries, so I don't know what the parallel is here. If we are looking for examples of successful occupations by Rome, I'd point to any number of areas into which Rome expanded at its height. But, then again, Rome was seeking to expand territory under its control, which is not the goal of the United States in Iraq, so what is the parallel?

Ted calls the American Revolution "not really a revolution," but offers no explanation for that fairly bold comment, so I don't know what he is getting at. Again, the historical parallel sheds little light because it is so imprecise. If Iraq were filled with English-speaking, American citizens who were protesting a relatively light tax to pay for, say, the earlier Iran-Iraq war, it might make a good parallel. But that is not at all close to the situation in Iraq.

Ted next turns to Vietnam. I see some similarity here, but in my opinion it is a different lesson we learn about Iraq. For starters, we pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, let the Communists take over and we remember what happened next. I assume that Dean can remember it because he lived through it. Communist "re-education camps," mass starvation, mass killings, boat people desperately seeking asylum. I don't see withdrawal as a reasonable option given what we have started in Iraq.

Another lesson we can draw from Vietnam is that the entire world saw that the way to overcome the overwhelming advantage in military power of the United States was to undermine public opinion. This is not simply a theory of mine, it is something that has been mentioned over and over by people like Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and Zarqawi in their public statements. This image of America was further enhanced when Reagan turned tail and fled Lebanon in the early 80s and when Clinton tried to respond to bin Laden with cruise missiles.

When Dean says "we aren't going to win," I imagine our enemies are smiling broadly because they see victory on the horizon. They know they have played the Ho Chi Minh strategy to win.

And that strikes me as irresponsible and dangerous.

Ted closes by saying that he the insurgents are just "the folks who live there." The leader of at least one component of the insurgency is a Jordanian leading Arab fighters imported from other countries. I'm sure that the remnants of the Baathists who are fighting are Iraqis, but I'm also sure that there were ex-Nazis in Germany after the war. Nobody suggested that we just leave the country to them either.

So far Iraq has held two elections with great success. A third election is slated for December 15. I'd define these elections as mileposts on a path to victory.

Might As Well Dump

Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli are getting a divorce.

Good. Maybe now Eddie will stop sucking and start playing real guitar again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

EZ Pass PIN Update

So, the PIN was not 2112.

I did, however, have a far more embarrassing moment when I was on the phone with American Express yesterday fixing a problem with my account. (I'd lost my card and they had accidentally cancelled the old account and the replacement account.)

For security purposes, they asked me for my Mom's birthday.

My parents were married within two days of my Mom's birthday, so I have eternally been confused over which date was which.

Yesterday, I gave the wrong date.

Shame, shame, shame on me.

Dean to Insurgents: "We Give Up!"

I am so shocked by this that I barely know what to say.

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

Politics is a full-contact sport and many things are said for partisan political advantage, but this is beyond the pale. If this is the Democratic Party's new stance on Iraq and national defense, they simply cannot be trusted with the national security of the United States. It's that simple.

In recent weeks, when I pointed to the Democrats' new strategy of "cut and run," Democratic supporters have acted shocked and claimed that the party has never said such a thing. I thought Murtha was clear enough in his words, but Dean has really made it clear for all to see.

Aside from the absurd tactical victory comments like this hand to our enemies, I am really getting tired of the Democrats' faux concern for our troops. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it. If Dean were really concerned about our troops, he wouldn't effectively say to our enemies, "Your tactics are working perfectly. Keep it up and we'll turn tail and run as soon as we can!"

Shame, shame, shame on him.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dino Tone

Saw Dinosaur, Jr. on Friday at Irving Plaza.

MikeDot and I had seen them this past July in Central Park and it was an amazing show. Both of us came away from that grinning like fools and overpowered by the majesty of the rock.

Friday was a different vibe. For one thing, it was indoors. For another, I was literally at the foot of the stage, right in front of J. Mascis' stacks of amps. It's now Monday morning and I still can't hear any frequencies above 1.2K. Strangely, all my Husker Du and Sugar records sound great now.

Anyway, I saw two things in Mascis' playing that I thought were interesting. First, he has got so much volume and so much overdrive on his sound that he actually voices chords differently just to scale back the sound. For example, on Sludgefeast, he was basically just playing the root notes in the verse (A - F#), but it sounded like he was playing huge chords. I noticed this again and again during the set. It was very rare for him to play more than two strings when he was in fully-distorted mode.

Second, I was amazed at how relaxed his hands were. He was closer to the relaxed movements of an old jazz player than he was to the vise-like grip I see in so many rock guitarists. He got from place to place on the fretboard with an economy of movement that I rarely see.

I've always thought that the guitar player that Mascis owes the most to is Dickie Betts. He plays the same kind of thick, fluid, melodic solos that Betts usually plays...at least when he is not dive bombing the tremolo with the flanger, the chorus, the delay and the wah going all at once. The solo on "Blue Sky" is the spiritual ancestor of the guitar solo on "The Lung."

I bailed on the Saturday show because, frankly, my old man ears couldn't take it. Still, it's tough to beat the anthemic moments in the best Dinosaur material.

EZ Pass Hell

Recently, the Misanthrope has been feeling all kinds of frightening, soft, fuzzy feelings about his friends. This past week, he and the 27 Year Old parted ways and his friends have been nothing short of remarkable in their thoughtfulness (shout outs to Grub, Mrs. Grub, Walter & Jane).

I was almost reaching the point of believing in humanity again, when I called EZ Pass to update my credit card information.

I wanted to do this on line, but you need a PIN and I have no idea what my PIN was because I have had no communication with EZ Pass since January 2003.

So, I called. They asked me to confirm the address on file. It was out of date. I asked them to change my address. They said I needed a PIN to do that. How do I get a PIN? They send it to me. But my address is wrong, I won't get it. We can't change it without a PIN. How can I get a PIN if my address is wrong. Can't change address without a PIN.

This went on for about seven minutes.

Long story, short, the Misanthrope is back and he hates humanity even more than ever.