March 30, 2011
American Idol - These Kids Go To 11
|[Posted by kris]|
I'm going to try some live blogging of American Idol. It's Elton John night. God help us.
March 25, 2011
Facebook and your Congressperson
|[Posted by kris]|
I keep getting emails from the Sen. Jeff Sessions and his Budget Press Office. The emails are unsolicited, hyperbolic and, because there's no unsubscribe function, impossible to escape.
Our public servants still haven't figured out how to effectively use the internet to communicate. They know how to use it to raise money, but that's about it. I thought about doing an update to my list of Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing, but I have to admit that at this point, especially with social media, I don't have the answers.
I do, however, know what I like. Here's, I think, a fantastic example of an elected official using Facebook. My Mom's newly elected Congressman, former Real Worlder Sean Duffy, bucked his party and voted against defunding NPR. Admittedly, I do like his vote. But even more I like the fact that he used Facebook to explain to his constituents why he voted the way he did. Some people agree. Some people disagree. What's great is that Duffy is talking to everyone in his district with comments and posts like that. He's not just serving up red meat for the people that voted for him, he's also acknowledging that he's representing all of them in Congress.
I think that's a problem that too many elected officials have. They forget that, once elected, they're not just talking to the converted. I'm Keith Ellison's constituent just as much as someone who voted for him is. I think they need to adjust their social media messaging to adjust for that fact. You shouldn't be hyper partisan and you should be locally focused. Most people in your district really don't care about the Democrats and the GOP. They care about themselves and their families.
It's so easy to "like" something on Facebook that you can't assume that everyone that "likes" you really "likes" you. It's not really a fan club. They just want to keep up with what you have to say because you're their Representative. It actually should be a great tool. Instead of holding a town hall meeting everywhere, it's like the town hall is coming to you - you just gotta learn to speak to both sides of the room (and the middle!).
March 23, 2011
Don't be a musical genre snob
|[Posted by kris]|
I haven't watched much of American Idol this year, but I've kept up with it a bit online. One of the contestants, Scotty McCreery, has a great country voice. I find it both striking and annoying that so much of the praise for Scotty is some variation on "I don't like country, but...". Really? You're willing to dismiss an entire genre of music like that? I think you can say you don't like most country music, but it seems foolish to cut yourself off from the possibility of ever liking anything country. It could happen!
Personally, I'm not typically a fan of jazz music - it's background music. But, something like this:
are interesting and I think as a human being I'd be missing out on something if I wasn't open to listening to them.
Likewise, people think opera is just something for rich folks and Bugs Bunny, but again, anyone can appreciate the power in this performance:
Similarly, if you eschew classical music, you're not listening to this:
To me, it's not about genre as much as it is about emotion. While they sound completely different, someone like Rachmaninoff shares a sense of drama with a band like Kings of Leon. The power of Pavarotti is reflected in another genre that too many people immediately ignore, hip hop. At the end of Nessun Dorma, the hero sings, "I shall win!" in defiance of the cold, bitchy princess. He's fighting the power just like Public Enemy, right?
I guess what I'm saying in a roundabout way is that in an age when we're able to put thousands of songs on our iPods, there's gotta be some room for a little bit of everything. Even the blues.
March 11, 2011
The horrific consequences of Wisconsin mob rule
|[Posted by kris]|
OMG! Behold the horrific work of the Wisconsin Capitol mob!!!!
Seriously people, even if you disagree with every word out of every protester's mouth, if the worst thing that happened is that someone kicked in part of a door of the State Capitol building that protesters were somewhat shadily prevented from entering, then you've actually got pretty peaceful protesters.
There are plenty of mountains around, you don't need to go making one out of a molehill.
March 09, 2011
I need a sign
|[Posted by kris]|
I'm going to go protest in Madison on Saturday. Basically, I'm just pissed that "winning" the political battle is more important than fairly governing everyone in the state. There should have been a compromise and if not a compromise then there should have been discussion without the threat of a sure-to-lose-vote. Even if you have the votes in the legislature, you still have to stump for the approval of the people. A vote on Election Day isn't carte blanche to do anything. As I've said before, the union of the people of Wisconsin is more important to me than any public employee union or lack thereof. That's what I'm pissed about.
So anyway, rumor has it Willie Nelson might be around (he does have an open date on Saturday, with a Sunday stop in Davenport, IA) and I want a good sign that uniquely represents me. Any ideas?
"Moderates for compromise" is probably accurate, but boring.
Something about "Should have voted for 'ole crazy eyes" with a picture of Mark Neumann is kind of funny, but it's not the right crowd to appreciate that humor.
Maybe a picture of a Memorial Union terrace chairs with "This is the only union I belong to, but I won't sit down for this." That's too wordy, but there's probably something that could be developed there.
"At least we can still buy beer on Sundays". It's not really germane to the topic and I wouldn't want to give the social conservatives any ideas.
"Our Senators went to Illinois, but our Governor is acting like a FIB"
"I'm not a liberal" - really, that's it.
Wisconsin politics as The Young and the Restless
|[Posted by kris]|
The CBS soap, "The Young and the Restless" takes place in Genoa City, Wisconsin. As such, the state often has a cameo on the show, as Milwaukee Brewers visit the Jabot Cosmetics offices or characters go up to Madison for business. They even had one character, "Smilin'" Jack Abbot, unsuccessfully run for the State Senate.
Lately, the show's main character, Victor Newman, has been embroiled in a conflict with his children over his illegal mismanagement of their trust funds. It's not too difficult to see the parallels in this fictional story to what's currently happening in Wisconsin.
And, it's also fun to make tables!
|Y&R Character||Wisconsin Character|
Victor Newman: Ruthless builder of Newman Enterprises. He's an arrogant prick, but he's also a self-made billionaire who always comes out on top. His enemies often refer to him as "Mr. Mustache".
Governor Scott Walker: He's either an evil, arrogant prick or a courageous, forward-thinking reformer. His enemies often refer to him as Hitler, who had a mustache.
Newman kids: Victoria, Nick and Abbey are either the victims of Victor's ruthless arrogance or a bunch of whiny, spoiled brats looking for a piece of a pie they had no hand in baking.
Public unions: They're either protecting Wisconsin workers against the ruthless policies of Walker or protecting their own generous benefits.
Neil Winters: Victor's long-suffering top executive who is caught between his loyalty to Victor and doing the right thing.
Wisconsin voters: caught between our innate sense of fairness and concerns about budget realities.
Michael Baldwin: Victor's lawyer is just doing his job, but is he also to blame for Victor's unpopular decisions?
Koch Brothers: Wealthy evil masterminds, or just really rich people you disagree with?
Adam Newman: Victor's black sheep son is currently on the run trying to save his love interest, Sharon.
14 Senators: On the run in Illinois to save the interests of public employees.
Sharon Newman: She's constantly involved in the lives of all of the Newmans and is something of a drama queen.
Protesters: While, like Sharon, they've got some legitimate beefs with the man, they're also fond of a little hyperbole.
Phyllis Summers: Phyllis is the ultimate instigator and troublemaker.
The Media: Rather than examining the issues in Wisconsin, the media seems to more keen on sensationalizing everything.
Nikki Newman: Victor's ex-wife is pretty removed from the current plotline and frankly, seems a bit relieved to be out of it (Tuesday's gross barn sex excluded).
Jim Doyle: You think Wisconsin's former Governor Jim Doyle is happy to be out of office right about now?
Mrs. Chancellor: The grand dame of Genoa City could probably cut through all of the Newman crap in about 5 minutes if she wanted to get involved. She's a crusty old gal, but everyone still kind of likes her - drinking problem and all.
Tommy Thompson: The former Governor still commands respect from both the left and the right - even after that drunken performance at Lambeau Field back in 1997.
Jack Abbott: He's Victor's longtime nemesis. He can be just as ruthless and arrogant as Victor when he thinks he's right, but he does it with a smile, so the fans love him a little more. Plus, Jack frequently doesn't win.
Russ Feingold: It's very easy to picture former Senator Russ Feingold as the handsome, friendly opponent to Walker in some upcoming election, isn't it?
John Abbott: Jack's deceased saintly father is beloved in Genoa City for running his life and business the right way.
"Fighting" Bob LaFollette is still beloved in Wisconsin as the father of the Progressive moment.
Esther Valentine: Mrs. Chancellor's maid is perhaps the most annoying character on The Young and the Restless.
Facebook: Its place as political platform is perhaps the most annoying aspect of Wisconsin's budget conflict.
So there you have it. As is often the case, reality isn't that far from fiction after all.
March 08, 2011
The conservative argument in favor of public employee unions
|[Posted by kris]|
I think most people are pretty dumb. However, there are some people whose opinion I respect that are firmly in the pro-union camp in Wisconsin. Contrary to popular belief, when I disagree with people I respect, I don't put my head in the sand, I try to figure out why and I actually do question if I'm wrong.
I do think there's something wrong about public unions' place in our political lives. The unions automatically take money from employees and use that money to support the very political candidates that they'll negotiate with on their next contract. That doesn't seem right to me. If the government is beholden to the union, then who is representing the people?
Of course, you can turn that argument around to every single corporate interest that gives money to politicians too, even if it's not as direct of an influence as contract negotiations.
Two wrongs don't make a right though, right? The answer isn't to accept union influence, but it's rather to get rid of both corporate and union influence, isn't it?
I know that the ultimate goal in Wisconsin is to get rid of public unions. I've pretty much bought into the idea that yeah, they serve no purpose anymore. Public employees don't need a union to protect themselves from their employer, the government, right? A ha! This is where I caught myself in some personal hypocrisy. I support the 2nd Amendment completely as a check on the power of government by the people. I certainly don't believe in the benign power of the state, so why shouldn't I support the unions as yet another counterbalance to that power?
I think there are some serious problems with unions, but I'm finding room to compromise on this issue. What are the options for working to reform public employee unions rather than replace them? Honestly, I think that's way more important than simply cutting pay and benefits.
I feel like no one is exploring that kind of middle ground. I think the issue in Wisconsin has simply devolved into a general leftist "Screw the man!" argument. I mean, once Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore come to town it's pretty much over, isn't it?
March 07, 2011
Love and protesting
|[Posted by kris]|
I was watching one of the protest videos over at Althouse and found myself not listening to what one man was saying, but rather thinking how burly and ruggedly handsome he was. When the camera turned to his really annoying wife, I was disappointed, but it did get me to wondering how many love connections have been made this past month in the shadow of Miss Forward.
While it's not a scientifically approved method, I'm going to turn to the Madison Craigslist Missed Connections ads for some answers.
If this snowman's nose has been in your ear, you should contact me. Your image has been stuck in my head since yesterday afternoon, and I regret not getting your name more and more. We should get a cup of coffee and plot the sinister overthrow of Imperial Dictator Walker.
Awww...see that's kind of sweet
You were in the middle and leading some of the cheers, and you had a pretty clever sign that got me thinking ;) Let me know if you're interested in having some fun...
This is the Craigslist equivalent of honking your horn at some hot girl. Does this person really think this girl is going to respond? He really needs to try harder.
Now, this, on the other hand, is just specific enough to actually get a response. The gays clearly know what they're doing:
You - handsome man, late 40's-ish, nice beard and glasses. You liked my updated version of the Wisconsin state flag. We talked for about a block up to the square and then we went our separate ways. Would love to grab coffee sometime and talk more. If you see this hit me up.
I don't know anything about you except that you support labor and have a nice smile, but I choose to imagine that you're awesome. You're definitely my protestcrush. Hope you have a happy life (both presently and futurely)!
I choose to imagine everyone else is awesome, too. Seriously, my fellow protesters. You're great.
But that's it. Really! Missed connections? More like missed opportunities. Although, I guess this is some kind of evidence that the protests really aren't some big party scene, huh?
March 04, 2011
The hyperbole of budget cuts
|[Posted by kris]|
With Wisconsin budget cuts looming, it's entirely predictable that every state entity will have their own special doom & gloom story. When faced with budget cuts, the knee jerk reaction is to propose cutting what people most want (in hopes that the budget won't be cut after all) rather than think about what actually can get cut without causing too much pain.
The Wisconsin State Journal falls for this tactic with the provocatively titled "Budget provision could jeopardize decades-old libraries sharing system". While the particular budget item simply says:
To help municipalities control costs, Walker wants to eliminate a requirement that library funding levels be maintained minimally at the average of the prior three years.
The message is clear: Scott Walker hates books.
From this fairly simple provision (and note that "Dane County library services director Julie Chase said she's not certain Walker's proposal will have a major impact on the local system because many municipalities have historically funded their libraries well above the minimum level."), librarians, journalists and Democrats create a slippery slope in which:
Pamela Westby, director of the Middleton Public Library, is concerned that repealing the minimum funding levels could create a domino effect in which smaller libraries would cut hours and resources, pushing patrons to larger cities' libraries, further straining their ability to provide services.
And then the larger cities would respond by getting rid of their shared library resources system. And then everyone in Wisconsin would forget how to read and we'd all become slaves to the military industrial complex.
Note that Walker is not proposing that libraries have to get rid of the shared library system. He's not cutting the budget of libraries. All he's doing is allowing cities increased flexibility with their own budgets. If cities want to keep funding their libraries at a minimum or more, they can.
Is this really any different than the religious right's reaction to gay marriage: "People will start to marry their cats!"?
Cutting budgets sucks, but what I like about a lot of this budget is that the responsibility for the cuts will fall to local authorities. They better know what their communities value, right?
I know it's super fun to demonize and make fun of Scott Walker (he's clearly the heir to Bush Derangement Syndrome), but in this case it's really uncalled for.
March 01, 2011
The Return of Vital Idol - The Guys' Semifinals
|[Posted by kris]|
I'm going to do some semi-live blogging of the show, so be sure to check back for updates throughout the broadcast.
Okay, let's get this thing going. Ryan introduces the judges, they pretend to swear and James Durbin immediately makes me hate him, even if he does have my mental illness of choice.
Clint Jun Gamboa is up first singing that old chestnut "Superstitious". How fresh! Clint has giant, red, clown feet, no range and too much vibrato. He doesn't have a bad tone to his voice, but there's nothing really interesting about him other than those clown feet and thick glasses. The ultimate "meh". 4.
Jovany Barreto romances us with "I'll Be". Seriously? For someone with so much bravado, this is actually kind of a tender performance, but he gets lost in the background singers. It's all very cheesy. But it's a nice cheese, like a good smoked gouda. I'll give him a 5.
Jordan Dorsey is singing some popular song I don't know, maybe "OMG" by Usher? The lyrics say "Shorty dancing sexy", so that's cool. Jordan doesn't really have a great voice, but he's an interesting performer. The judges don't like him, but he wasn't boring and he's very cute and he's typically not a "jumpy jumpy singer". 6
I missed Tim Halperin, which is to say that I don't think I missed very much. Brett Loewenstern, the competition's resident ginger wants to "Light My Fire". Since he's about 15 and 100 pounds soaking wet this is more than just a little disturbing. All that said, this isn't a purely karaoke performance. He brings something different. I don't know exactly what it is or even if I really like it. But I do know I'd like to hear him sing again. Basically, he's the Johnny Weir of Idol, god love him. 7.5.
Annoying James Durbin and his stupid scarf tail are up next. He's singing Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Coming", which makes me want to vote for him in the vain hope that maybe he'll sing some Aldo Nova later on. A girl can dream. He's all sob story and screechy voice and fauxhawk and posturing. He just needs to go back home and front a Guns N Roses tribute band. The judges eat it up because they're stupid (and not Simon). It's a 2.
Robbie Rosen is singing "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan and it's just comically awful. His voice breaks up over the course of the song like he's Peter Brady singing "Time for Change". And beyond the terrible performance, let's not even discuss how that song reminds me of those depressing Humane Society ads. The worst of the night so far. 1. I kind of can't believe there's someone I like less than James. JLo tries to defend his singing as some kind of bold artistic choice, but I don't buy that "sucking" is an artistic choice rather than a general lack of talent.
Old school country boy Scotty McCreery sings some country song I don't know. Something about "Johnsonville". Brats? I love his voice, but he keeps smirking at the camera. I think he thinks he's being charmy, but he's really being smarmy. Also, he kind of looks like George W. Bush doesn't he? Anyway, you'll note I've said very little about his singing, that's because he undeniably does have a really good voice, he just needs to lay off the cheese. 7.
Stefano Langone is singing "Amazing" (I dunno, I assume that's the name). He's a mess. He's missing notes and is very breathy. Clearly, he's cannon fodder. He wasn't as bad Robbie and I don't hate him as much as James, so I guess he gets a 3. JLo claims he's a "beast". I think at this point you need to remember that she married Marc Anthony.
Paul McDonald is singing Rod Stewart's "Maggie May". Compared to all of the teens that proceeded him, Paul looks like someone's drunk, creepy uncle. That's not at all helped by the bizarre smile he keeps flashing the audience. I still think he could be a decent singer with the right kind of quirky, slower song, but this ain't it. This is frankly frightening. Wow. I liked this guy coming in, but this was awful. I'll give him a 4 because at least he kept my attention, even if it was in kind of a bad way.
Speaking of bad things, my second least favorite contestant Jacob Lusk brings his uniquely awful overwrought stylings to "A House Is Not A Home". Jacob has a nice voice when he actually holds a note instead of dancing all around it like an obnoxious, cheesy jackass. He needs to be on Glee, where his show choir style would actually be appropriate. I'll give him a 4, knowing full well that he'll be around for weeks and weeks, just to torture me. Because it's all about me.
Finally, sitting in the pimp spot is Casey Abrams. He's singing "I Put A Spell On You" and as much as I might like Casey, isn't this kind of Taylor Hicksesque? At this point, I don't want to hear someone going all crazy, I'd rather he just sing. Is Casey a good singer? I have no idea, and that's a problem. He gets a very tentative 6.5.
Overall, I do miss the judges giving any kind of criticism. These were a bunch of mediocre performances and sometimes you need a crabby Englishman to call a spade a spade (or a giant cheeseball that he's a cheeseball, Jacob).
My top three:
My guess is that the final six guys will be:
and Paul or Jordan as a judges' choice.
Lost in the Woodman's Food Markets
|[Posted by kris]|
While doing a search for "I hate Madison", I came across something delightfully hilarious: Woodman's Yelp reviews. For those who don't know, Woodman's is a huge employee-owned Madison grocery store (actually, there are two stores in Madison). It's known for its amazing liquor store, incredible selection, cheap prices, terrible produce and general dodginess. Like Madison itself, it's not that you either love or hate Woodman's, it's that you love and hate Woodman's.
My personal least favorite Woodman's memory is the time I encountered an awful little child, her hands smeared with what I prayed was chocolate, running down the aisles screaming "POOPY! POOPY!" at the top of her lungs. The horror.
So anyway, the Woodman's reviews are seriously entertaining, as, in typical Madison fashion, they don't just cover price, selection and service. Nope, the review of the store is also a review of the type of people that shop there.
Wow, what a shame that people are so self absorbed and so concerned about saving 13 cents that they will sugar coat just how nasty this store is. They are the same people that are so caught up in their lives that they don't even notice their surroundings and think everything is great because it's all about them. They have zero contact with other shoppers or employees because they are too worldy and sophisticated for that, I mean heck, they have been to Milwaukee!!! Wow! They are the ones that will run over your toes at Woodman's with their shopping carts. They will whack you over the head for the last ripe banana that costs a whol nickel less than at Cub Foods. Yes, this is also the other self absorbed demographic that patronizes Woodman's. Mass consumerism above all else and if you don't bow to the might 10 cent savings you must be racist, clasist, sexist, and whatever other slur they can conjur up just because it's self serving to blame people who actually write real reviews vs. how they wish things were. Tthey can be the high and mighty, morally correct posters who pat themselves on their backs for being such good people and having their friends make phony posts to create the illusion that others share their distorted views.
I actually used to work at Woodman's. It sounds like these people who think shopping here is a walk in the park must have just left the psych ward from One Flew Over the Cockoo's Nest. Employee owned? Joke. Do you know what that even means? Do you think the employees actually influence the store policies or are treated better because of this? Wrong. More erroneous assumptions from people who suffer from the ME syndrome and think they are helping out the little people by shopping here.
Yeah, sounds like fun shopping amongst these kind of people, right? Remember, this is their world, we just live in it and Woodman's happens to be their grocer of choice.
That's a review of a grocery store. Really! The rest of the Yelp reviews are fun to read just for general bitching about other people as well as tales of great supermarket shopping finds (a 7lb. beef heart!).
It's funny, I found the reviews by looking up hating Madison, but reading the reviews reminded me of a place that kind of makes me love Madison.