Music Sales Confirm I'm a Music Snob

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 4:02 PM EST

josh-grobin-250x200.jpgNielson SoundScan's 2007 report on nationwide music sales forces me to ponder once again the following question: Do I have crappy taste in music, or does the rest of the country?

The most popular artists in this year's report make music that A) Hurts me to listen to, or B) I would prefer listening to crying babies for hours on end than have to endure. Here are some examples:

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Clinton Supporters Fail to Block Nevada Caucus Format

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 3:39 PM EST

The judge was like, "Whatcho want me to do about it?"

A federal judge on Thursday allowed Nevada Democrats to hold presidential voting in casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, potentially helping Sen. Barack Obama in the next round of the campaign on Saturday.
For the first time, Nevada Democrats planned to set up nine locations for Saturday's vote so casino shift workers, who are largely represented by a union that endorsed Obama, could attend caucuses and vote for a presidential candidate.

An Open Letter from American Feminists (And a Raised Fist From Me)

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 2:55 PM EST

A while back, I gave the world the finger about it's dissing of mainstream feminism for not being all things to all people on every corner in every village at every moment everywhere on the planet even as misogyny reigns unchecked. Katha Pollitt, at The Nation, agrees; we're both fed up with Cro Magnons trolling to see which feminist hasn't denounced, and single handedly ended, the atrocity of the day. She's circulating the below open letter which I proudly signed. Last count, she was at about 500 names. I hope it reaches a million. No, writing open letters doesn't save a raped woman from Sharia law in Nigeria. They just tell you to kiss off while we work on it, which is a hell of a lot more than the folks at National Review are doing. Hell no, I won't link to them.

Dirty Karaoke in China

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 1:59 PM EST


China plans to clean up its act.

No, not that act, silly. I'm talking about China's pre-Olympics plan to crack down on its karaoke parlors, which are apparently seething with sin:

While entertainment enterprises boost consumer spending and provide jobs and tax revenue, "some are unlicensed and in some, illegal activities such as sex, gambling and drugs are taking place," the Ministry of Culture said in an apparent reference to the many massage parlors that double as brothels.

Drugs? Sex? And to think that at karaoke parlors here in the States we're all jazzed about our friends' hilarious drunk rendition of "Wonderwall."

Two Excellent Examples of Campaign Journalism

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 1:52 PM EST

Just one day after I defended campaign journalism by saying that there aren't enough differences between Clinton and Obama to produce the in-depth pieces the public is craving, I've found two such pieces. But by highlighting the many minor differences between Clinton and Obama (and in one of the two articles, Edwards), the pieces kind of underscore my point.

The first piece comes from the Las Vegas Sun. It acknowledges that the candidates basically have the same goals when it comes to domestic policy, but drills down on six issues and makes note of the differences on the margins. At times, the best the Sun can do is point to small differences in emphasis or focus. But if you're interested in learning more about Obama vs. Clinton vs. Edwards on economic issues, health care, education, nuclear power, internet gambling, and immigration, check out the Sun's good work.

The second comes from CQ Politics, where they've taken a long look at Clinton's and Obama's records in the Senate. Neither candidate, CQ argues, really buck the party line all that often, and neither has taken the lead on major pieces of legislation. Clinton is a more incremental in her approach than Obama, but neither can rightfully claim to be a true "agent of change." In fact, John McCain meets the definition they both put forward on the stump better than they do. It's quite long and quite good; find it here.

So, yes, you can do in-depth pieces on the candidates. But you can't do all that many: now that the Sun and CQ Politics have done these pieces, they won't be able to do something similar anytime soon. If they want to publish every single day.... they have to take rightly deserved kudos and head back to the horserace.

Coachella Countdown: Three Months, Ten Days

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 1:41 PM EST

mojo-photo-coachellakiss.jpgWhat am I going to wear?! The LA Times' Buzz Bands blog (say that three times fast) has a quick update on this year's lineup for the big festival, and insists that it will not include a reunited My Bloody Valentine. But, but, but, the fake flyer said they would be there!! The post does contain the most serious-looking list yet of bands "expected" to appear at the festival, some of which have confirmed on their own websites or tour info sites, and some of which would probably be hanging around anyway so why not put them on the bill. There's also the matter of the post's odd title: "Coachella roster slowly takes shape (and getting misshapen)"; is that a hint of a Pulp reunion? Anyone?

The official announcement is expected as early as this Friday (meep! meeep!) but click the good old "continues inside" button for the Times' "expected" list, rearranged by me in order of headliner-y-ness:

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Jerusalem Syndrome: An Ironic Hipster-Jew Went to Israel and all We Get Is Beautiful Writing

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 12:58 PM EST

And a glimpse into the power of religion, if only religion as culture for a beleaguered minority.

My good friend David Plotz at Slate (who's almost good enough for his amazing-babe wife) spent a year blogging the Bible there in a feat which filled me with writer's penis envy. Whatever you think of the Bible, or any religious text, in the hands of a writer like David, it was can't miss reading. It was so good, in fact, he's now writing a book about it; in furtherance of that, he's in Israel now visiting the Bible's sites and, bien sur, blogging about it. Homey (Chomey?) appears to be in the midst of a full blown epiphany slash religious experience. He almost made me cry today and, like Bill Maher (scroll to third video), I'm pretty religion proof.

Bursting Bubbles in Casino-Land

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 12:42 PM EST

It's a gorgeous sunny day in Reno. From my 12th floor hotel room I'm looking out the window at the Circus Circus dome below, the city spread out behind it, and beyond the houses the mountains gently dusted with snow. Above the mountains the sky is patterned with the exhaust lines of jet planes. It's the sort of day that gives the high desert a good name.

You wouldn't know it wondering the antiseptic corridors of the large casinos, dodging in between the armies of slot machines and their robotic human players, listening in on conversations in the cavernous buffets, but there's a lot of politics going on in the state over the next few days.

Huckabee: "We Would Fry Squirrels in a Popcorn Popper"

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 11:59 AM EST

Huckabee on MSNBC:

"South Carolina's a great place for me. I mean, I know how to eat grits and speak the language. We even know how to talk about eating fried squirrel and stuff like that, so we're on the same wavelength."
"Mika, I bet you never did this," Huckabee went on, addressing Mika Brzezinski. "When I was in college, we used to take a popcorn popper, because that was the only thing they would let us use in the dorm, and we would fry squirrels in a popcorn popper in the dorm room."

My sure the Democrats are praying for this man to become the GOP nominee...

Update: This shouldn't come as a surprise.

In Nevada All Bets Are Off

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 11:38 AM EST

It's cold as hell here in Reno, Nevada, the snowy Sierras just to the West, the neon lights of the city crisp against the winter night air.

A nice place for the caucus-circus to park itself.

If you've read most of the big newspapers over the past couple months, you could be forgiven for not realizing that Nevada has a caucus on January 19th. The New York Times has routinely referred to the contests in Iowa, followed by New Hampshire, followed by South Carolina. In fact, for a year now Nevadans have been preparing for their own caucus, to be held on the same day as the South Carolina primary. And, for my money, at least for the Democrats it's the western contest that's by far the most interesting.