Friday, May 30, 2008

Delegate Watch - 41 to Go

Hillary Clinton picked up one delegate yesterday.

Obama picked up four.

(You'll note that she needs this math to be reversed if she has any hope - which she doesn't - of claiming the nomination.)

His count stands at 1984 - 41 delegates away from the nomination. (Her count stands at 1781, and she needs 244 delegates to win the nomination. There are only 277 delegates who are not spoken for, and that only includes 191 superdelegates. You do the math.)

I won't be able to keep this updated until Sunday, but DemConWatch is an excellent source of delegate news. (Congrats to them for being selected to attend the actual DemCon in Denver.)

Cheers, y'all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

June - The Best Month for Music

Three of my favorite artists are releasing new albums this month. (And, as it happens, all three of them are currently on EMusic. I think I'll be able to get each album the day it's released in record stores - although there are good arguments for picking up each one as a physical CD.)

As mentioned earlier, My Brightest Diamond will be releasing A Thousand Shark's Teeth on June 17. (And there's just nothing else I can about Shara Worden without qualifying for a restraining order.) This album will be one for the ages.

The mysterious and brilliant band Shearwater is coming out with Rook on June 3. (Two new tracks, "Rooks" and "Leviathan, Bound," can be heard here.)

If you don't know these folks, you should. Start out with their magnificent album Palo Santo, which was released in 2006, and re-released (in a 2 CD expanded edition) last year by Matador Records. Here's a great live performance of "Red Sea, Black Sea," featuring the wildest abuse of a tambourine ever captured on video.

My Morning Jacket is coming out with their eagerly anticipated follow up to the mindblowing Z on June 10th. It's called Evil Urges. If you caught them on SNL, you know that this one's going to be good. And if you didn't, you can check out the title track in their corner of MySpaceland. (Check out the falsetto that Jim James unfurls - sexy!!!)

Delegate Count - 45 to Go

One more supe today - Oregon DNC Member Wayne Kinney has endorsed Obama.

That puts him at a nice even 1980. 45 delegates to go.

Delegate Count - 46 to Go

DemConWatch credits Obama with picking up another delegate - DNC Ben Pangelinan (Guam).

They also list that a supe,
DNC Kevin Rodriguez (VI), has switched back from Obama to Clinton.

They list Obama's count at 1979, leaving him 46 short of the nomination. I'll go with that number, even though it doesn't jibe with my previous post. So the count is now 1979 delegates.

Edit: I missed two superdelegates -
Oregon Democratic Chair Meredith Wood Smith and Colorado Democratic Chair Pat Waak. That's how we get to 1979.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Delegate Countdown - 48 to Go

Today, superdelegate and Wyoming Democratic Party Vice Chair Nancy Drummond endorsed Barack Obama for President, citing his advocacy for veterans.

As of this moment, Barack Obama has 1977 delegates. He needs 2025 in order to claim the candidacy. With Drummond's support he now needs just 48 delegates in order to be the nominee.

I'll try to keep a running update on the countdown. I've stopped fretting about Hillary stealing the nomination. Hold on tight, kiddies - this thing is almost over.

Friday, May 23, 2008


We have a membership to the Woodland Park Zoo, and so we got to see the members' preview
of the new flamingos today. Oliver has been excited for weeks to see them, so we were in line as soon as the zoo opened.

They're amazingly odd creatures. Sure, we all see the lawn ornaments and we know they're pink. But it's one thing to know it and another to see that odd cotton-candy pinkness on actual real feathers. Their feet are Miami Vice pink. Their ankles (which look like they should be knees) are red. They are truly odd creatures.

Unfortunately, the flamingos seemed a bit bewildered at their new surroundings, and didn't do much at all except this. That is, they stood around in a big huddle for hours. Occasionally, one would stretch its luxurious wings and everyone would furiously try to snap a picture. Or a couple would peck and honk at each other.

But aside from that, they just stood around, looking vaguely embarrassed. Their bathing pond sat before them, unused.

So we watched them for all of fifteen minutes before Oliver got bored. We ended up stumbling into their fantastic display of protected birds, and saw some truly amazing creatures, including these Asian cranes.

We stopped by the flamingos on the way out and saw that they had attracted neighbors. A couple of neighborhood ducks decided that if the flamingos wouldn't use their pond, they'd make themselves comfortable. (The flamingo display is open-air, so other birds are welcome to drop in. I asked one of the docents how the flamingos could be trusted not to fly away, and he explained with a wince that their wings had been clipped by the collector who donated them to the zoo. "If we acquired our own flamingos, we probably wouldn't clip them.")

The ducks seemed to be the stimulus that the flamingos needed: they finally started acting lively, flapping their wings and honking agitatedly. The tight formation started breaking up, although by the time we left, none of them had dared to try and take the pond back from the ducks.

Despite the lackluster opening day, Oliver seemed excited to have flamingos in his home town. We're looking forward to seeing them once they've made themselves at home in their new surroundings.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Matt Baldwin is a very funny guy. Right!

Matt Baldwin, belatedly, on the Eliot Spitzer saga:
Well, my opinion on scandals of this nature has remained fairly consistent throughout my adult, political life: I DO NOT WANT TO THINK ABOUT OLD WHITE GUYS HAVING SEX SO STOP TRICKING ME INTO DOING SO! I don't want to think about Spitzer having sex, or Larry Craig having sex, or Gray Davis having sex, or Jerry Falwell having sex, or Bill Clinton having something that was not strictly sex pursuant to the legal definition provided in statute §§21050, etc. I don't care who or what they are having sex with because thinking about this aspect of the sex would involve thinking about the sex, which, as I have stated previously, I do not wish to do. Please, can we just assign a taxpayer-funded hooker to every member of congress to ensure that these liaisons become so routine that they are no longer newsworthy?
If you don't read Defective Yeti, you should feel terrible about all the funniness you've been missing up to this point in your life. Go there now so you can catch up.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorses Obama

It's official, of course. See the video here.

Read the analysis here, there, and everywhere.

My wildly speculative comments, with regards to this being the beginning of the endgame, still stand. It's clear, from Edwards' kind words about Clinton, that he's trying to close the primary in a way that Hillary can hold her head high. All that stuff about how her campaign made Obama a stronger candidate? He just handed Hillary a thumbnail sketch of her concession speech - should it ever come.

Edwards Endorsement Rumored ... Suggested ... Expected

The internet is alive with speculation that John Edwards will endorse Obama this afternoon (west coast time - 7 pm Eastern time.)

Edwards has been on the sidelines of this fight for a very long time, and my instinct tells me that this isn't a random event. I wonder if this is a very deliberate strategic decision to end the primary (which, for all intents and purposes, is already over) by getting the heavyweight Dems into Obama's corner.

If that's the strategy, expect an announcement within days that either Al Gore or Jimmy Carter is also endorsing Obama.

I'm totally pulling this out of my ass, so don't assume that I have any inside sources or special knowledge. I am so not that guy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Summer Soundtrack: My Brightest Diamond

I'm completely rocking out to the new song by My Brightest Diamond. It's everything that makes Shara Worden great: her soaring voice, fuzzed-out rock guitars (louder and crunchier this time). Plus there's a string section that roars and thunders (think of the string section on Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"). The lyrics are swirling and mystifying, poetic in the best possible way.

God, what a great song. Here, have a listen.

Inside a Boy

The remix by Son Lux turns the original inside-out in astonishing fashion. Pitchfork describes the remix (and the remixer):
Son Lux's Ryan Lott brings a composer's craft to the techniques of underground hip-hop, and his chopped-up "Inside a Boy" charts a similar path. The string-draped original has drama and grandeur enough, but Lott dismembers the rhythm section, opening with little more than skittering strings, stabs of electronic percussion, piano, and Worden's pristine voice. Other rumbling beats, muscular guitars, and all manner of additional orchestration soon return, but the context is more abstract and disorienting than on the album version. "We crash like lightning into love," Worden sings, repeating the word until all is full of that stuff. Boy meets girl, song goes supernova.
God, I cannot wait to hear the rest of this album. And, if she follows the pattern she set with Tear It Down, there will be plenty more remixes of her new stuff.

For those who also worship at the altar of My Brightest Diamond, there's a preview of her new record here.

NPR Music

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tony Stark: Behind the Music

Saw "Iron Man" on Saturday.

It was one of the best comic adaptation movies I've ever seen. And yes, I've seen the latest Superman (via Bryan Singer) and Batman (via Christopher Nolan) movies. It was better than Superman Returns, and very close to topping Batman Begins.

Superhero movies typically take one of two paths: they work hard on the effects, to the detriment of the plot and character development, or vice versa. It's very hard to get both the effects and the characters right. This is a damn shame, because to get a great comic right, you have to get both parts balanced perfectly.

Effects are clearly important. Comics are the realm of the imaginary. It's easier to draw an adamantium claw or an invisible force field or a repulsor ray on a page than it is to create one on the big screen that looks convincing. The best movies can be killed in an instant if the effects are wrong. They can be too hokey (see the 80's Spider Man tv show) or rely on CGI to create comic-realistic effects that look slick yet inhuman (see any of the recent Spider Man movies).

When you're talking about superheroes, it matters if their powers are believable. But all of the best comic characters rely not on a great power, but a great story. I grew up on Marvel comics, so I'm talking about the guilt that Peter Parker carried, forever haunted by the death of his beloved Uncle Ben that he could have prevented. I knew about the tensions between each member of the Fantastic Four - the complicated family dynamics, the relationship drama, the jealousies that flew in every direction. I knew from Frank Miller's brilliant run on Daredevil that Matt Murdock was a lonely and haunted man, his faith in both God and humanity shaken at the core. I knew that Tony Stark was an alcoholic and a troubled man.

The best comics are about people, not effects. I saw the first Fantastic Four movie, and what I remember was Ben Grimm, the Thing, stopping a bus with his shoulder. I should have remembered the awkward tension between Reed Richards and Sue Storm, but instead I remember being blown away by the way that Mr. Fantastic's arm slipped under a door like liquid. They got the effects right, but they missed getting the characters right.

The Iron Man movie gets Tony Stark perfectly. He is a dynamo of raw energy - creative, sexual, charismatic in the extreme. He is essentially hollow, bouncing like a pinball from one affair to another, one dance club to another, with nothing to anchor him in the world. He is someone we've already met before - the millionaire playboy, rich without seeming to have earned it, famous without seeming to deserve it. He is rich because of technology that kills people across the world. His livelihood relies on the myth that military technology saves lives.

In a moment, his life changes. He channels his brilliance into fighting for good - truth! justice! the American Way! With a healthy dose of revenge (a bit stomach-churning) mixed in for good measure. He is a damaged man who tilts awkwardly toward goodness. He is not perfect. He is not heroic, yet he is a hero.

The movie shows Tony Stark in all his muddy brilliance. He is not made to be someone admirable. Often, he is unpleasant and piggish, greedy and libidinous, even after his transformation. He mistreats the people who work for him. And yet, even against all of this, he becomes a hero. "Iron Man" is a story of redemption, of triumph against the most relentless demons. "Iron Man" is a hopeful movie about humanity.

And no one could have played this part but Robert Downey Jr. He makes Tony Stark come alive - the genius and the self-destructive behavior come alive in every glance, every gesture, every line that he speaks (often muttering, as if speaking to himself throughout the movie). He is given a cast strong enough to stand up to his relentless performance - established actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Terence Howard fill out the cast.)

And about those special effects? Brilliant. The technology kicks serious ass. As I said earlier, comics are as much about the visual effects as they are about the plot. "Iron Man" requires a man who is brilliant with technology, the kind of guy who can build a doomsday suit in the middle of a desert. The suit has to look like a technological marvel, but one we can believe. The director, Jon Favreau, pulls it off by relying on "live" effects over CGI whenever possible. Tony Stark is a billionaire, after all - he can afford the best tools available, and he uses them in brilliant and unexpected ways. Half of the fun is watching "the suit" come together - the trials, the spectacular failures, and the breathtaking successes. (Note: there is a robot that provides some of the funniest moments of the movie, without saying a word.)

So yeah - go see this movie. And stick around through the credits - there's an extra treat that you won't want to miss.