Posted by: Joe Eds | March 16, 2011

Music Wednesday

I was very skeptical of Jimmy Fallon as host of Late Night. His monologue and interviews are still pretty bland, but some of his in-between comedy bits have been top-notch. Fallon has a gift of mimicry, and his Neil Young impression is phenomenal.

On this episode with guest Bruce Springsteen last Fall, they do a rendition of “Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith. Had me in stitches.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 15, 2011

Poll Shock

With so much going on in the world thus far in 2011, from Egypt, to Libya, to mother nature reigning over Japan followed-up by the fear of nuclear plants melting down following the earthquake, it seems that realities and opinions for Americans’ place in world affairs are shifting.

ABC News / Washington Post Poll released today has a few shockers in it. The one that blew me away was the figure that 64% (that’s 2/3) of those polled say our campaign in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting. Half of that 64% feel strongly about their opinion. 31% – a record low – feel it has been worth effort. The chart notes these figures increased at the beginning of this year.

The President still gets higher approval than the Republicans over handling the economy, and more people approve of his job performance than disapprove.

But there is no tea leaves to be read in this situation:  Americans have moved on from the War On Terror, and they want their leaders to reflect that. If fighting increases during the summer months (as they are expected to) this could be the trouble for President Obama’s reelection.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 14, 2011

Music Monday

We’ll have it on Wednesday too. But this song “Lippy Kids” is from Elbow’s new album build a rocket boys! And it’s too fantastic to not share.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 11, 2011

Super Trailer

Super 8 seems to feature elements from various Spielberg films:  ET, Close Encounters, the lead adult character is a sheriff in a small-town (like Jaws). This is a pretty effective trailer. Gives you hints of what to expect as well as leaving us guessing of what has been unleashed on this town. I’m not a huge JJ Abrams fan, in fairness I never watched his shows (Fringe, Lost) and enjoyed Star Trek but wasn’t blown away. Though I’m excited to see this over the other big films in May:  The Hangover 2, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Kyle Chandler is fantastic in the show Friday Night Lights. I was not as engrossed in the show as Jeff, but I vouch for it as a well-made TV drama. Unfortunately, watching him in tiny clips of him in this movie’s trailer convinces me he will have a hard time breaking out of “father” role.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 9, 2011

Mitt has a hill to climb

Joe Klein analyzes the inevitable Mitt Romney candidacy, and he doesn’t think the guy passes muster.

He’s smart, he was a good governor, he’s essentially a responsible moderate-conservative…but he has made an utter fool of himself flip-flopping and fudging–and taking wildly stupid positions (against the START treaty, for example) on issues about which he knows little or nothing. It almost seems a personality disorder.

Klein takes Romney’s incoherent stance on his passage of health care in Massachusetts versus Obama’s plan. It doesn’t make sense, and Romney looks worse than a flip-flopping pol:  He insults our intelligence.  Klein’s last line is the real burn.

…we get the embarrassing spectacle of an intelligent man acting like a semi-coherent jerk.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 9, 2011

Music Wednesday

Here’s a little soul for your Wednesday. From 1966 “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” was Jimmy Ruffin’s most successful single.

Click on link, which will direct you to youtube.com

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 7, 2011

So Long Lawyers

A big meme in the manufacturing world in the last 20-30 years is that machines and computers can better put together products and appliances than hundreds of union workers. The demand for these jobs, and the workers with that skill set, has painfully shrunk. The legal world, might be heading toward that direction too.

This NY Times article about electronic software designed to sort through documents used for massive litigation cases I find quite fascinating. Here are some key passages:

“E-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000 (typically these cost millions of dollars).

The programs can extract relevant concepts — like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East — even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.

“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr, who as a lawyer at a major chemical company used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.

For the record, I have a younger sister in law school, a mother who is practiced law for over 30 years and a father who has sat behind the bench as a district judge for nearly 20 years. I take the legal profession and its merit in society very seriously. A computer cannot stand in front of a jury and give a summation that will argue to his client’ case. But this story is a warning sign to higher-education jobs like attorneys or tax accountants or architects – your jobs are replaceable too.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 7, 2011

Made in USA…sort of

John McCain appeared on ABC’s This Week yesterday to discuss the economy. Christiane Amanpour discussed a project ABC had to empty house of goods that are not made overseas.

“I would also point out that if you emptied that house there … if you left a computer there, or an iPad, or an iPhone, those are built in the United States of America,” McCain said.

Well, they are certainly designed in the US. But, as printed on the back, they’re built in China. Cheaply.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 2, 2011

Music Wednesday

As mentioned in previous podcasts, Jeff and I are big fans of the British rock band Elbow. Their latest album Build a Rocket Boys! comes out next week. This week is one of my favorites from Elbow, “Forget Myself” off their album Leaders of the Free World.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 1, 2011

No Huck, either?

Howard Fineman, one of my favorite political journalists, spends a lot (way too much in fact) of his column space devoted to the guessing game of who will be running for President in every election cycle.

In his latest piece, Fineman predicts that Mike Huckabee is not running for President in 2012.

Huckabee sounded like a wary, skeptical guy who didn’t have the stomach for the grueling humiliations of a presidential run. That’s a normal reaction for a sane human being, but the kiss of death for someone hoping to be taken seriously by the donors and strategists and writers who make up the boiler room of politics.

I’ve liked Mike since I first started reading about him in 2006. That factor, in my opinion, is what carried him so far in 2008. Not experience, not agenda, not fiery rhetoric. His likability, i.e.,” I can have a beer with him” candidate. And his approachability. I don’t agree with Huckabee when he defends his pro-life stance on The Daily Show, but I feel like I’m listening to someone speak his mind as opposed to a politician reciting talking points listed to them from a political operative. This will also lead to an inevitable Romney v Pawlenty snore showdown.

Posted by: Joe Eds | March 1, 2011

Best in People

An article in NY Times highlights a trend in recent college graduates:  Careers in public service.

As job hunts became tough after the crisis, anecdotal evidence suggested that more young people considered public service. Exactly how big that shift was is now becoming clear: In 2009 alone, 16 percent more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11 percent more for nonprofit groups, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau.

The sudden surge in 2009, though, suggests that the absence of traditional private sector jobs forced many of the country’s best and brightest into lower-paying, if psychically rewarding, work.

This report really spoke to me as this is not different from a decision I made this past year. Next Fall I expect to be enrolled in a master’s program learning the trade of Public Affairs. This story is very inspiring as it shows that the young is responding to these new economic times by taking more “nobler” professions than originally planned. Perhaps it’s a blip, maybe in two, three years when there’s more higher paying private sector jobs there will be a massive shuffle for them. Or a big trend for a generation to contribute to society by not going to war, but fighting the good fight for the greater good.

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 24, 2011

Movie Music: Best Original Song

Joe discusses the Best Original Song category for the Academy Awards with some special guests. Our favorite winners in that category over the years, as well as a few snubs.

Movie Music – Best Original Song

References for this podcast:

Songs used in this podcast:

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 22, 2011

Oscar Music Wednesday

Repeat after me: “Oscar Winner, Lionel Richie.” His chart-topping song “Say You, Say Me” was an original song for the film White Nights and won the Oscar in 1985. I haven’t seen it, in fact, I’ve never heard of it. You can see some clips of the film in the music video below. Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines play ballet dancers trapped in Siberia (uh huh) that are first competitors, then become friends (really!). Isabella Rossellini and Helen Mirren co-star as the respective love interests.

I thought the “Let the River Run” video was 80’s cheese ball, check this doozy out. We can’t play the clip on our site. Hit “You Tube” on the screen, after you hit play.


Posted by: Joe Eds | February 22, 2011

Will you be my Vice President?

Political news today:  Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is not running for President next year. He announced it on Facebook. Many of us politico-junkies (like myself) were convinced that not only was Thune running he’d be a dark horse contender. But alas, we’re likely looking at a Romney / Pawlenty showdown. However, this guy is the perfect VP candidate. Good-looking, good salesman and little political baggage. I could see it happening.

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 22, 2011

Best Documentary

I’ve seen three of the five nominees for Best Documentary Feature. All three worthy of a nomination, and each knocked me on my ass (so to speak).

Inside Job. Will be on DVD on 3/8. My favorite film of the year. Go see it. To quote Gloria Steinem, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Restrepo. Currently available on Netflix, including streaming. In terms of footage, could be one of the best war films every made. The visuals are not “well-produced”, i.e. flashy. They are crappy cameras literally behind soldiers being fired upon and returning fire in one of the deadliest spots in the world. Jeff and I have spoken at length about the Afghanistan War. He and I are not soldiers, but we respect their service. Watching this film gave me a better grasp about living in fear in horrible conditions day-in and day-out for months at a time.

GasLand. Availabe on Netflix, and HBO onDemand. I watched it this weekend. I’m still sweating about it. Pennsylvania resident Josh Fox, armed with a camera, travels to different communities across the country effected by local drilling for natural gas, a process called Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking”.  The documentary, using some jawdropping visuals such as residents able to light the water from their sink on fire, claims that massive fracking in our country over the last decade will eventually contaminate all of our rivers and water supplies. Find it, watch it.

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 16, 2011

Oscar Music Wednesday

You know this one. We all do. Butch trying to impress Etta with his bike in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, a pop song in the background written by Burt Bacharach. He would win another Oscar for theme to Arthur.

Posted by: Jeff | February 10, 2011

Sometimes You Gotta Take a Stand

Tea Partiers and other dedicated conservative representatives were not happy when the House Republicans paired their original pledge to cut $100 billion back to $35 billion. Apparently, the Republican leadership tried to pass this off as $74 billion, since the cuts only applied to a portion of the fiscal year (due to extraneous logistics) and the latter would’ve been their value if applied to the full year. But it appears the natives were having none of it:

In response to complaints from rank-and-file Republicans that the party was not fulfilling a campaign promise to roll back domestic spending this year by $100 billion, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said his panel would abandon its initial plan and draw up a new one to slice spending more aggressively. […]

Republican leaders signaled that they now intended to seek about $25 billion in additional cuts over the balance of the fiscal year. That would bring their total proposed reductions to more than $60 billion, a level that even some Republicans have warned would be disruptive to government services.

The change was a significant complication for the new House leadership, which had hoped that their original proposal would mollify their membership while setting the stage for a compromise with the Senate and President Obama.

Meanwhile, the Republicans on the Appropriations Committee are still gunning for the full $100 billion. All in all, we’re beginning to get a better picture of the Faustian bargain Republicans made with the Tea Party in order to get back their majority in the House, and it ain’t pretty.

I should probably be worried about this. Most likely it means the center of political gravity within the government has shifted decisively in conservatives’ favor, forcing some sort of right-leaning compromise. And cuts that are even a fraction of what the Republicans are proposing will do severe damage to both the economy as a whole and to the livelihoods of millions of everyday Americans. But to be honest, in a morbid way, I sort of welcome it. Read More…

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 9, 2011

CRAP!

Senator Jim Webb will not seek another term, leaving him a one term Senator. I’m a big fan of this guy. Truly an American patriot. His most notable Senate achievement is the passage of his GI Bill. He has written novels, covered wars as a journalist, served as Secretary of the Navy, in combat earned a Navy Cross and the Silver Star. His earnestness and passion will be missed.

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 9, 2011

Oscar Music Wednesday

Three things about Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

1. The image of Audrey Hepburn in the black dress, pearl necklace and carrying an extended cigarette holder is literally one of the most recognizable and iconic images in cinema history.

2. The song “Moon River”, sung by Audrey Hepburn in the film and covered by dozens and dozens of musicians in the following years, deserves its high status in pop music history. Brief, elegant and harmonious – written by the great Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer – it’s a song for the ages.

3. Finally, the song is by far more famous than the film, for good reason. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is horrible. Nearly unwatchable in fact. It’s remembered fondly, but try viewing it again.  Actually don’t. Just enjoy the music.

Posted by: Joe Eds | February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday John Williams

Jeff and I love your work, very much so. For your birthday salute, I’m going with one of your more recent, and off-beat scores.

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