Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Episode One

Inspired by J. Lindo, I would like to start a periodically recurring post on this blog. It also has to do with music. I call it "Guilty Pleasures." We all have them: songs or artists that we outwardly mock or dismiss but which we secretly love. Whether that love is spurred on by nostalgia or just a musical proclivity that we would try to hide from our hip friends, we can't help but feel a bit ashamed. And the shame is part of what makes us indulge in it all the more. ("Come here, Hall and Oates' "Kiss on My List" 12" single from my parents' record collection, you make me feel so dirty! Shhhhhh!")

So without further delay, I bring you today's three contestants in the first installment of Guilty Pleasures. Today's theme is Never Give Up: Songs of Inspiration. Don't forget to vote on your favorite. (See poll on sidebar.)

Journey - "Don't Stop Believing"
: I know. Many of you feel no shame in stopping and singing along to this one when you catch it on the classic rock radio station (for the fifth time that day) as you're cruising the dial. I do it all the time. But never with a straight face, and always while trying to tamp down that embarrassingly real feeling welling up in my heart that says, "Don't stop, Joe! Don't stop believing! You will make it!" (I also have to ask myself, "Who are the streetlight people?")

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

Found at

Chumbawamba - "Tubthumping": First of all, how many people actually know the title of this song is "Tubthumping"? Up until five minutes ago I thought it was "I Get Knocked Down." Where is Chumbawamba these days? Probably trying to figure out how to recreate the fame created by these four-minutes of shoulder-bopping indulgence. I've never heard a sweeter voice sing the words, "Pissing the night away . . ."

Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

Found at

Joe Esposito - "You're the Best": From 1985's Karate Kid soundtrack. In the movie, it plays during a musical montage at the final karate tournament. Do yourself a favor and listen to this all the way through. Picture Ralph Macchio with a clenched fist and the sneering face of that blond-haired bully dude. Think of every ten-year-old boy who has been picked on and then dreamed of crane-kicking their tormentors into Canada while this song plays in the background. Is your heart racing yet? Guilty as charged. "Fight 'till the end, cause your life will depend, on the strength that you have inside you!"

Joe 'Bean' Esposito - You're The Best

Found at

Okay, now is your chance to vote for your favorite guilty pleasure, then comment on why you voted the way you did. What was your criteria for voting? Sentimentality? Level of guilt evoked? Musical aptitude? Your vote counts!

Friday, October 10, 2008

"So I got that going for me. Which is nice."

Friday my mind starts to wander to things like this:

Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) in Caddyshack explains his experience caddying for the Dali Lama, or "The Lamba."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On Sarah Palin

Let me just say that I do not despise or even dislike Governor Sarah Palin. I was, as many were, more than a little grossed out by the way she was immediately slandered, upon her arrival on the national scene, by rabid pundits and celebrity doofuses (doofi?). However, I cannot escape the opinion that she, for all her niceties and her refreshing status as a legitimate outsider, would be an odd and even disconcerting figure on the vice presidential throne.

Witness these two passages from Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek column this week:

1) Regarding her qualifications to influence foreign policy and her delicate understanding of our relationship with Russia:

"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."

Ummm. Wow.

2) And this exchange with Katie Couric about the blahblah economic meltdown blahblah:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

It made about as much sense as this infamous answer.

Again, I do not think Sarah Palin is stupid, or incompetent, or lame. And I'm sure that going from backwoods pol to primetime news would be shocking, difficult, and lend itself to bouts of nervousness and stammering. With the cameras rolling and the lights in my eyes, I probably wouldn't have done much better. (Okay, so I don't really believe that. I think I could have come up with something at least a little more coherent.) But I'm not a VP candidate. And I know we don't vote for VP candidates. But it does make you think . . .

And yes her performance in the debate tonight was generally acceptable. But it was plain to see that she had her script and anything beyond that was just too much to handle; she would quickly retreat to the emphatic catchphrasing about "mavericks" and "taxes" and "jobs." She was charming enough and drew some laughs, but by the end of the hour her repetitive answers were starting to feel shallow. Bottom line: she's just not "qualified" for the position. Period.

Now, I tend to agree with the conventional wisdom that Biden is kind of a jerk and a schmooze. Palin seems sweet and probably down-to-earth and surely someone I share more common experiences with. But does that mean I should vote for her ticket? I don't know. I do have a hard time bucking the feeling that I should vote for "nice" people. People who haven't spent a lifetime working the room and raising money for political campaigns. People who donate to charity. People who allow their faith to be a real power in their lives (although I think this can be problematic as well). But is all that a smart litmus test for a national election? I'm not so sure.