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Play this very loud.

Crank up your speakers.

Russian Mardi Gras...

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...or, if not, how I imagine it would be.

From some video I shot on St. Charles St. in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, 2007 (I think). The soundtrack is from a group called Leningrad: Zvezda Rok-N-Rolla, from the soundtrack of Everything is Illuminated.

  • Good news, bad news: First, the good news: Democratic voters in my home district, Lousiana's 6th (the fightin sixth!), outnumbered Republican voters 48 thousand to 38 thousand during Saturday's primary to fill a seat left vacant when Republican Richard Baker skipped town to become a million dollar lobbyist. The bad news? My guy, Andy Kopplin, didn't make the run-off.

  • Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes totally lets McCain off the hook for his flip flop on torture.

  • Too good to hope for: William "The Bloody" Kristol wants to see McCain pick Clarence Thomas as his VP. Please please please pretty please with sugar on top!

  • Speaking of daydreams, how's this: Obama picks Clinton as his VP and then trounces McCain 538-0 in the Electoral College -- then picks McCain as his Secretary of Defense.

  • Yet more daydreams: Mark Penn says Obama's momentum is "broken."

  • Sir Paul McCartney signs a deal to license the Beatles catalog to iTunes. Or did he? Either way, all that's left is for American Idol to air it's Lennon-McCartney theme week and reveal who the mentor is. Then younger viewers will hear the stuff it on iTunes! Smart guy, that Macca.

Ana Marie Cox:

I've long believed that the Venn diagram of political junkies/indie rock fans/baseball nuts/sci-fi fanboys would be just about circular. What they have in common: controlled alternate universes that reward obsessive list-keeping and don't penalize lack of social skills....)
I do SO have social skills. They are just manifested in weird ways...
McCain's problem has never been that he tells jokes, it's that he re-tells them. And re-tells them. And re-tells them...

D'oh! Busted.

Time out: Let's go to the movies!

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Maybe I've just reached my limit on whatever it is that the candidates are dishing out in the run up the Iowa caucuses. I have no idea who is going to win (nor do I want to hear why your candidate is the only one who CAN win).

I'm going to the movies!

Actually, here are two movies we just saw; and a trailer for a third one that just looks funny.


An (unnamed) Guy is a Dublin guitarist/singer-songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad's Hoover repair shop by day, and singing and playing for money on the Dublin streets by night. An (unnamed) Girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance, and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night. Guy meets Girl, and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. During the same several day period, the Guy and the Girl work through their past loves, and reveal their budding love for one another, through their songs.

Glenn Hansard (from the Irish band The Frames) and Markéta Irglová are terrific, performing all the songs themselves. It's a sweet little love story and the music reminded me a lot of the softer stuff from Radio Head's Tom York, as well as early Cat Stevens and that Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison.

Here's a wonderful clip. You can get the movie on DVD.

Charlie Wilson's War

Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay based on George Criles' book by the same name:

Charlie Wilson's War is a great story that we've never heard before. Charlie is a wonderfully funny, brilliant, flawed hero, who put together this war and nobody has ever heard of him. It was the biggest covert war in US history.

Charlie (played by Tom Hanks) in the 1980's was a Democratic congressman from Texas and was extremely scandal-prone. He was forever showing up in hot tubs with strippers and drugs. He was an alcoholic. His nickname was "Good Time Charlie." His office staff in Congress was populated with beautiful women -- they were called "Charlie's Angels." So one wouldn't expect that he'd be responsible for one of the great turning points of the twentieth century.

Wilson, together with an equally colorful CIA operative named Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who had been shoved over to the margins of Agency work, the two of them along with Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), an ultra right-wing anti-Communist from Texas (and the sixth wealthiest woman in the state) engineered the funding, training and arming of the Afghan mujahideen in their effort to get the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

They were successful-- they defeated the Soviet Army. It was the only time the Soviet Army had been defeated. In so doing, that was the first domino that fell in the end of the Soviet Union, the end of communism, and the end of the Cold War.

And not only that: Wilson brought together Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in an unusual alliance to defeat the Soviets. The movie is in theaters now.

Walk Hard

The up-and-down-and-up-again story of musician Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), whose songs would change a nation. On his rock ‘n roll spiral, Cox sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 22 kids and 14 stepkids, stars in his own 70s TV show, collects friends ranging from Elvis to the Beatles to a chimp, and gets addicted to – and then kicks – every drug known to man… but despite it all, Cox grows into a national icon and eventually earns the love of a good woman – longtime backup singer Darlene (Jenna Fischer).
OK, so it's a parody of Walk the Line. Also in theaters now, although judging by the weekend box office, it may not be around for long.

This is the only one of the three that I haven't seen yet, but it looks really funny. Here are a couple of clips. The first one is where Dewey meets Elvis (played hilariously by Jack White of the White Stripes). The second is Dewey barging into a party and being introduced to the ... well, check it out. The last clip is the movie's music video.

P.S. Later today we're going to see National Treasure 2. Loved the original; hope the sequel is half as good.

Obama Goes Masala

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Magical Mystery Tour meets बॉलीवुड!

Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author, has a new book out, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain -- a book that covers two of my favorite topics. More specifically, Sacks (like Yo-Yo Ma) believes that music is the link between memory and emotion. I believe this as well, and I think that if you stop and ponder it, you probably believe it too. After all, there are certain songs that remind you of your senior year in high school, right?

But Sacks goes beyond that and talks about the spiritual aspect of music (something I've written about here). For Sacks, that's saying a lot, given that he doesn't put any stock in religion (organized or not).

Here's an excerpt of an interview that appears at

Wired: You call yourself an old Jewish atheist in your new book. What is it about music that lends itself to being a catalyst of mystical experience even for people who don't believe in God?

Sacks: Music doesn't represent any tangible, earthly reality. It represents things of the heart, feelings which are beyond description, beyond any experience one has had. The non-representational but indescribably vivid emotional quality is such as to make one think of an immaterial or spiritual world. I dislike both of those words, because for me, the so-called immaterial and spiritual is always vested in the fleshly — in "the holy and glorious flesh," as Dante said. [Note: Dante is another one of my favorites.]

So if music is not directly representative of the world around us, then what's inspiring it? One has the feeling of the muse, and the muses are heavenly beings.


I intensely dislike any reference to supernaturalism, but I think there can be profound mystical feelings which do not have to call on fictitious agencies like angels and demons and deities. The whole natural world is bathed in wonder and beauty and mystery. The feeling of the holy, the sacred, the wonderful, the mystical, can be divorced from anything theological, and is conveyed very powerfully in music.

Masala Sound System featuring Cinq G, performing "Od Tarnobrzegu po Bangaldesz" blew me away. It is something I had never seen or heard of before: Polish "ragga-bhangra" music -- a fusion of funky Indian music performed by Poles -- and if that isn't enough they produced a proper Bollywood-style video to go with it.

This absolutely rocks!

Chris Nakashima-Brown:

There's also a killer clip of Masala rapping their "Rewolucja w Nas" at Festiwal Gwiazd 2007. This dude can flubber his throat-singing lips like a Brooklyn Tuvan. And if you look closely at the long shot, you can see a rare image of their promoter, Leggy Starlitz, smiling at his latest creation.

(HT to Cory)

  • Supreme Court reverses itself on Gitmo case. Why do I have a creepy feeling they're going to rule for the Bushies this time?

  • No Satisfaction this Year. This year the Rolling Stones will not be performing in...Israel. Insurance costs are sky-high. I guess this means they won't be performing for the troops in Iraq either?

  • Lots of first impressions of the iPhone by new owners. Here's one from TechMeme. Here's a fetishistic photo spread on the actual unboxing of a new iPhone. Here's Xeni's report (calling it the Jesusphone). Here's a guy who tears the iPhone down -- literally.

  • Fred Thompson in New Hampshire: Republicans say his speech there was underwhelming. I'd say "where's the beef," but that would be so 80s. Or so Walter Mondale.

  • Woz spotted in line for an iPhone. When the crowd recognized him, they stepped aside and put him at the front of the line. Awwwww.

  • Prince is releasing his new CD ... in Sunday's edition of London's Daily Mail. The recording industry is pissed. I'm trying to imagine who's still reading a newspaper on any day of the week. Answer: nobody in Prince's audience.

  • When I saw that that iPhones are turning up on eBay, I remembered one important fact: "i" before "e" except after "c" (for "cash").

  • ...and finally, after watching the one laugh-out-loud moment of Thursday's Dem debate, I wondered: is Barack Obama a dutiful husband, homophobic, or just seeing Joe Biden on the down-low? You decide...and don't miss Al Sharpton's scowl -- it'll melt the hair off your arms:


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