Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Poll!


What Is KELO's Most Annoying Regular Feature?
Overhyped Weather
Health-Beat
Angela Kennecke's Phony Concerned Look
Underage Drinking
Mumps
Canaries Hype
Token West-River Story of the Day
Token NE South Dakota Story of the Day
"Fallen KELO-Land Soldier"
Bird Flu
Neighborhood Reactions
  
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Courthouse fun



Exactly one year ago I told a story that many thought was quite exaggerated. It concerned my visit to the country courthouse to purchase tags for my family’s vehicles. There was no exaggeration; thanks to a faulty computer system it took over 90 minutes to complete my transaction.
I was going to be smart this year. When the renewals came in the mail, I intended on mailing them in so I could avoid this silliness. Well, I’m a well-known procrastinator so I found myself having to make that trek once again.
A few blocks away from my office, however, I realized that I had forgotten my checkbook. Since I had plenty of cash I didn’t believe this would be a problem. Remember this fact later in the story.
I should have known as soon as I entered the courthouse parking lot that this was going to be a nightmare. For a second I thought I had screwed up and traveled to Wal-Mart as cars were going every which way, and the parking maneuvers utilized by quite a few people left quite a bit to be desired.
Finally squeezing into the only open spot in the lot, I entered the building. The line at this point was just to the left of the entrance way; a bit long but I figured it wouldn’t take too long. Boy was I wrong!
Once again, the computers were down, and once again the mainframe in Pierre was blamed (despite the fact that a friend of a friend who worked in Pierre recently told me this was bull). One full year after my first nightmare and nothing had been improved. I guess a personal plane for the Governor is more important than improving our government’s computer system. Yet I don’t recall our video lottery computers ever going down. I guess we all know where our state’s priorities lie.
There was one improvement over last year, though. A courthouse employee was going through the line explaining the situation once again, but with a new twist. Those who were paying by check could leave their info and payment with her, and could then come back later to pick up their plates. If only I hadn’t spaced out my checkbook!
This plan alleviated a good portion of the line, so I decided to stick it out thinking that at any minute the computers could come back online. Very, very slowly, I moved up. I also began “entertaining” my comrades…or at least some of my fellow line-mates.
Close to 90 minutes later it was almost my turn, although the fine employees of the courthouse were doing everything they could to make things worse. Two cashiers were doing the right thing – they were collecting money and explaining when to check back on their plates. The others were idiotic – they had their customers sit and wait for their registrations. One old lady spent 45 minutes waiting before hers printed; a clem next to her was there for over a half hour. If everybody had just collected money, the line would have gone quickly.
Of course, the two smart women went on break around this time. In fact, almost everybody did. Despite the fact that the line now went almost to the other end of the courthouse, only four (out of twelve) windows were open when it was finally my turn.
Proclaiming that I’ll happily just pay, the obviously frustrated clerk took my money and told me to return after 1:00. Stupidly, I did. No luck. I came back at 4:00. Still no luck, but word had come down that the computers might not even be up today (Wednesday). At least the state had informed law enforcement of the problem, and a fifteen day grace period has been added for those whose tags expire tonight.
There really is no excuse for this problem. Sure, the last couple of days of the month is the busiest days of the month for the state’s computers. So what? Does Target’s registers break down on the day after Thanksgiving? How about Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, or Shopko? Hell, even Lewis Drug has few problems with their system. This is a small state; it shouldn’t take an elaborate network to keep up with the demand.
The staffing at our courthouse also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s been a running joke for years that there are always more employees on break than on the job. It’s no joke; even the much-maligned post office has a better system.
In conclusion, what did I learn this week? If possible, never ever go to the courthouse if possible. You’ll be annoyed from the minute you start navigating the parking lot, and that negativity won’t disappear until the moment you finally safely get the hell out of there. I know I won’t make the mistake of not sending in the renewal forms next year.

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Replacements Compilation Hits Stores June 13

Click on the artwork to hear a streaming version of the album - the two new tracks begin approximately one hour into the playback.

The happy couple

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

I got a new phone...

...and I'm still working out the bugs.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Enough With the Da Vinci Code

Just over two years ago, Doubleday Publishing released a novel that accomplished something that few books do these days – it sold. The Da Vinci Code became THE book for middle-aged clems all over the world, but particularly in our country. You couldn’t board a plane without seeing seemingly half the passengers carrying this trash.
Even a few people that I know jumped on the bandwagon. At a college reunion last fall, two or three friends asked if I had read it. Uh, no. “It makes you think” was the general response to my less-than-enthusiastic reply.
I’ll acknowledge that I have an aversion to anything that becomes popular unless I was among the first to jump on it. Nobody’s going to tell me what I should like.
In this case, however, I feel that I’m right. I can’t think of anything more boring than a suspense novel that can supposedly questions the whole belief system of Christianity. Call me a heathen, but there’s already enough real evidence to question whatever faith I was raised to believe. Add to that the actions of fundamentalists who want to take over schools, politics, and the entertainment that I choose to enjoy in the privacy of my home.
Some time last year came word that the book was to be turned into a Ron Howard movie lead by beloved actor Tom Hanks. Forrest Gump goes to Rome?!? More yawns.
I assumed that like most boring summer blockbusters, this would be a movie that would come and go without affecting my life…just like I’ll never allow Julia Roberts, Will Smith, Tom Cruise or other hacks to enter my conscience.
Boy was I wrong. The past couple of weeks have been a complete nightmare. I can’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without a story about the actors involved, the author, or the new controversy created by church groups who for some reason had no problem with the publication of the book but somehow believed that a movie version would corrupt the lives of our entire country. I’m not just talking about silly entertainment rags. I expected People, Entertainment Weekly, and the Life section of USA Today to waste some space on this movie, just as they do for any so-called blockbuster. Hell, they’ll do the same next month and every other month for every piece of star-driven drivel.
But I never expected it to be a cover story in Time, or for a number of front-page stories in the news section of every newspaper in the country, including our goofy daily paper. Oh, the outrage of the fringe groups, including the little-known sect of Catholics called Opus Dei. These are the people who are backing some of the nuttier members of Congress, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and possibly Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia. They just love any pseudo-controversy that gives them the opening to tell me how I should live my life.
Yet it wasn’t just the print media jumping on the bandwagon. Television just couldn’t get enough of the story. Besides those goofy entertainment “news” shows featuring ass clowns such as Pat O’Brien and Ryan Seacrest, real news outlets also have featured far too many stories on the movie. Idiots on Fox News had their predictable daily fights over the supposed undermining of religious values, but they weren’t alone. Even the local channels had interviews with church leaders who either condemned the movie or claimed they would use it to “open a dialogue” with churchmembers.
Guess what? Despite unanimously awful reviews, last week the movie had one of the biggest opening weekends of all time. Yet the sky didn’t fall, nor were there riots in the streets. Hell, as far as I know O’Gorman High School didn’t even lose any of their athletic recruits. Please, people, lighten up. It’s fiction. Not great fiction, but nobody is claiming this movie’s a documentary. Let it have it’s three week run at the theater, and then it’ll disappear until it’s fall release on DVD, followed by the limited-edition multi-disc director’s cut released just in time for the holidays.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A New Royalty Fight - Cheap Trick Vs. Sony

A cheap trick
May 21, 2006
BY JIM DeROGATIS POP MUSIC CRITIC


The major record companies have made plenty of headlines in recent months via their campaign to demonize what they call "illegal downloading." Since June 2003, their umbrella group, the Recording Industry Association of America, has filed 3,500 lawsuits in the United States against users of peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as Kazaa and Grokster.
The latest batch of 235 suits came in mid-April and included one against a mother in Rome, Ga., who allegedly "stole" songs by Jewel, Poison and Whitney Houston -- despite the fact that her family hasn't owned a computer in a year. Carma Walls told her hometown newspaper, the Rockmart Journal, that they got rid of the machine after about two months. She admitted she did download some songs during that time, but she didn't realize it was illegal, and she never burned the tunes to CD.
The RIAA refuses to comment on specific cases, but it happily issues its blanket statement on downloading: "Not only does piracy rob recording artists and songwriters of their livelihoods -- and threaten the jobs of tens of thousands of less celebrated people in the music industry, from engineers and technicians to warehouse workers and record store clerks -- it also undermines the future of music by depriving the industry of the resources it needs to find and develop new talent."
This high-minded language is contradicted by another lawsuit filed on April 27 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. So far, this suit has received much less publicity, though the trade publication Billboard is already calling it "a case that could seismically alter the way labels and artists share download revenue."
Spearheaded by Sony artists the Allman Brothers Band and Rockford's own power-pop heroes Cheap Trick, the class action suit accuses the artists' label, Sony BMG, of consistently shortchanging the musicians on royalties from music sold via Internet services such as Apple's iTunes, which charges consumers 99 cents to download songs such as Cheap Trick's "Surrender" or the Allmans' "Whipping Post." At the heart of the dispute is how that money is divided -- and why the artist gets the smallest cut by far.
As an electronic retailer, Apple keeps about 30 cents of every tune it sells. Cheap Trick's manager, Dave Frey, believes the artist and the label should be splitting the remaining 70 cents, especially since the label has almost no manufacturing or distribution costs. But Sony is paying Cheap Trick only about 4.5 cents per song.
Sony BMG has declined to comment on the case.
Admittedly, calculating an artist's royalty rate can be a Byzantine affair, since it varies from album to album and is subject to numerous deductions as the record company recoups its expenditures. But on average, Frey says Cheap Trick earns about $1.20 from every CD sold of 1979's "At Budokan." With a list price of $11.98, that's a royalty rate of about 10 percent. The 4.5 cents the band makes from a download of the single track "Surrender" represents a royalty rate of less than 5 percent.
How is Sony doing the math? Right off the bat, the company is cutting the artist's royalty by 25 percent, citing a provision in every recording contract that allows the label to pay less while coping with the costs of employing "new technology." When Cheap Trick originally signed to the label in 1976, vinyl LPs were the primary music media. As CDs came into vogue, the company "had to retool the plant and take out all of the vinyl-making machines and put in CD burners instead," Frey says. CDs were widely introduced to the market in 1983, and they became the primary medium by 1990; nevertheless, Sony still defines compact discs as "new technology" and pays Cheap Trick the lower royalty, Frey says.
Sony recouped its original recording and marketing expenses for the songs on "At Budokan" decades ago, Frey says, and there are obviously fewer expenses in selling "Surrender" as a download than on CD -- "You don't have to put it on a truck, you don't have to take it to a store or any of that stuff." Yet on top of the new-technology deduction, Sony is also subtracting a "container deduction" of 25 percent and a "breakage reduction" of 15 percent from every 99-cent download.
Even the least computer-savvy consumer knows that there is no "container" for an MP3 file, nor is it possible for anyone to "break" one in transit as a CD might be damaged. And even with all of these deductions, Sony's math doesn't add up: Frey maintains that Cheap Trick should be earning at least a dime per downloaded song, or double what the label is paying the group.
The lawsuit grew out of conversations Frey had with his friend, Bert Holman, manager of Sony artists the Allman Brothers. "I was talking to Bert about this and he said, 'Yeah, I just went through our [royalty] statement,' and we were basically finishing each other's sentences. A few nights later, there was this litigator who is an old Allman Brothers' fan who showed up at one of their shows and said, 'You guys have a big point,' and they [the law firm of Labaton, Sucharow & Rudoff and Probstein & Weiner] said that they would take this on and do it pro-bono on behalf of all of the artists at Sony that have a contract that predates 2002."
This includes thousands of artists ranging from Miles Davis and Bruce Springsteen to AC/DC and Gloria Estefan. "If we win, anyone who wants to can opt in and get their share of the settlement," Frey says.
The suit is seeking $25 million in damages, though that figure may grow if the case is expanded beyond Sony to include other record companies. Frey also manages catalog sales for the Ramones, and he says Warner Bros. is using the same math for download sales by that band that Sony is using for Cheap Trick. Does this mean that the major labels are in collusion on downloads? "Possibly," Frey says. "I think everyone is keeping the exact same line on this: Universal is doing it the same way, and so is EMI."
Despite being an ardent advocate for the artists he represents, Frey is aghast at the RIAA's legal campaign against downloading, which makes no distinction between people who download a song to sample it before buying and those who may indeed be "stealing" the music without paying for it. "It really is embarrassing and terrible, and there is just no excuse for that," Frey says. "What, the customer is always wrong?"
Yes, according to the RIAA. "Stealing music online is no different from going into a music store and shoplifting," it insists in its boilerplate statement. But by that logic, isn't shortchanging an artist on digital royalties as much of a crime as withholding profits from CDs sold in the store? "I don't know if it's a crime," Frey says. "But we don't feel it's right."
jimdero@jimdero.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What Summer Concert Are You Most Looking Forward To?
Heart
Carrie Underwood
Jazzfest
That Folkfest Thing In Canton
James Taylor
Poison/Cinderella
Tracy Lawrence
JoDee Messina
AC/DC - Led Zep Tribute Bands
Antrhax/Rob Zombie
Kottonmouth Kings
Lifelight Festival
Unannounced Rock Show at Sioux Empire Fair
None; I Go Out of Town For Concerts
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Who Knew That Motley Crue Was Decadent?

I’m always amazed with the silly stories that become the big controversies of the day. It’s not like we don’t have legitimate issues that should be the focus of our attention. There’s the war (along with the numerous issues that surround that action), gas gouging, domestic wiretapping, lobbyist corruption, environmental issues…the list goes on and on.
Locally, we have our own problems. If you listen to some news channels, these include teen drinking (although statistics actually show underage drinking to be at a lower level than in the past), silly polygamists that don’t look at all like the babes on HBO’s Big Love, and the mumps. There’s also the contentious abortion debate, the upcoming water crisis, road construction hassles, city budget issues, and the perplexing reelection of De Knudson and Dave Munson.
Yet if one were to get their news only from the letters section of the daily paper (which I hope absolutely nobody does), there is really only one issue that anybody should care about – whether Motley Crue provided enough evidence of their decadence for ticket buyers.
The debate started not before the concert but almost three weeks after they nabbed their six figure payday on April Fools Day. A twit by the name of Amber Ernste wrote a scathing letter to the editor complaining about the filth she had to endure that evening. It was so bad she supposedly left before the show even began. She says she should have been warned before she bought her tickets.
Since then, there has been a daily deluge of letters laughing at her silliness…as they should. Now I’m not here today to give this band any credibility. I’ve hated them ever since I first heard them way back in the ’84 or so, and I still hate them to this day (except for Tommy Lee, who was really cool to me when I interviewed him a few years ago). In my opinion they represent everything that was wrong with ‘80’s bubblegum metal. More importantly, I’ve had to endure their music at strip clubs for 20 years. Note to strippers all over the world – playing “Girls, Girls, Girls” is completely played out. It’s as big of a cliché as the moron yelling out “Free Bird” at a non-Skynyrd show. Please just stop.
The quality (or lack thereof) is not the issue today. Ms. Ernste is. For her to claim that she had no idea there would scantily clad women, alcohol, silly double entendres, and other references to sex and drugs is nothing short of ludicrous. They may not have created the term “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” but they have certainly lived up to that motto their entire career. Almost every song title is sex-related; every promo photo plays up to their decadent image. VH1’s Behind the Music feature spent almost the entire show on two segments of their career – Nikki Sixx’s drunken car crash that killed a member of Hanoi Rocks and Tommy Lee’s porno home movies with ex-wife Pamela Anderson. Hell, their ticket stubs even proclaimed this tour as “Carnival of Sins”.
What the hell did this woman expect? Has she lived under a rock her entire life? It’s not like she stumbled onto a death metal band playing in a small club. She had to make a decision to spend forty bucks to see the show; at that kind of cost wouldn’t it make sense that you’d have to know something about the band.
Here’s what I think actually happened, and I admit that I have no proof to verify this, She was not at the Arena that fateful evening. If she was inside the building it was a sort of fact-finding mission. She knew beforehand that the band was “sinful”, and wrote that letter to the editor to save us from our sins. Guess what? It didn’t work. Instead, you just look like an uneducated fool.

Don Jorgensen, Private Eye

I wish KELO's website included the video for this story, as it was the funniest thing I've seen in months. Don Jorgensen, camouflaged by his green KELO button-down shirt, scampering behind suspected polygamist Warren Jeff's Black Hills compound.

Here's the part that made me laugh the most:

Don Jorgensen recently took a trip to Pringle, South Dakota, where Jeffs has one of several of his polygamist compounds.

It's in a remote area of the Black Hills. Very few people have ever seen it or even knew it was there until last month when news broke about the suspected hideaway. And if you know anything about the FLDS, you know they don't like visitors.

The front gates to Warren Jeffs compound near Pringle are locked. No trespassing signs are posted. The compound is hidden by evergreens.

"People say you can't see the compound from the road, but if you take a little hike through the hills you're able to sneak up along side a ride and look over the compound and that's where we're headed right now," said Jorgensen.

It's 300-400 yard hike off from a bad road, we were told about from a neighbor.

"We're whispering because we don't want to be heard. My photographer, Mike Rank, and I came up here a day earlier to check out the area," said Jorgensen.

"We wanted to familiarize ourselves with the landscape and some of the people up here, knowing who we could trust and who we couldn't trust. Most everyone we've run into is very friendly, but very few people want to talk about the fundamentalist. Couple of neighbors didn't want to go on camera, but told us they are fearful of the fundamentalist fearing what they might do. But most let them go about their business neighbors tell us and they go about theirs, they don't bother us and we won't bother them."

When we get to the ridge, I keep shooting with a smaller camera. Mike sets up his news camera on a tri-pod to get a closer view.

It isn't long before we see a woman come out the 3 story house wearing a long dress and carrying a bag. Another person opens the window above her.

There was other activity off to the side, but we couldn't tell what was going on. Someone drives off in a car.

Off to the left is a stock pile of lumber and what appears to be lots of firewood.
We've been told by people who have studied the FLDS, they have to have enough food, water and other supplies to last them an entire year. That's just how they operate. They are very self sufficient, growing their own food and constructing their own buildings.
Who we don't see is the man every law enforcement agency is looking for, Warren Jeffs.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This Week's Poll


How Many More Consecutive Days Will KELO Have a Teen Drinking Story?
1 - 5
6 - 10
11 - 15
16 - 30
31 - 60
61 - 120
Infinity
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

You've Been a Bad Girl, Mrs. Beasley


While I may not host the most popular blog in the world, I am lucky enough to have some devoted fans that check me out on a regular basis. Since signing up to a site that tracks visitors I’ve discovered that people from Brazil, India, Argentina regularly visit my site. Somebody from the federal government in D.C. has even checked out my words of wisdom…which may explain why my son’s tax return has arrived but not mine.
Some of these faithful readers occasionally send requests for this segment. While a lot of these are nothing more than personal vendettas against individual businesses in our fine little city, every now and then a good idea ends up in my mailbox.
Over the last few days, one name keeps showing up in these email requests – a person who I have attacked a number of times over the past few months. Normally, I don’t like repeat offenders but I think circumstances, along with the demand of the public, makes this person the right choice to kick out of town…particularly when this person doesn’t really care much about public sentiment.
Before we get to naming this person, though, I’m going to sidetrack a little. Over the past weekend, I was going through the channels frantically searching for something – anything – to help me waste away my boring day. I ended up on an old 60’s sitcom called “Family Affair”. Trust me, it’s a truly awful show, featuring a single father, his children (played by a pair of imbeciles who must have never taken an acting class), and a butler who I swear looks like a gay child molester. I was about to move on to the next channel when I spotted Buffy carrying around a doll that she called “Mrs. Beasley”.
Although I hadn’t seen this show since I was a child (and I hated it even back then) this doll looked familiar. I know I had seen it somewhere – and recently. Then it hit me – that’s Superintendent Pam Homan!
You may recall that originally I didn’t have much against this woman. She seemed no different than any other school administrator. Since my child was being schooled in another town, I really didn’t care too much about what was going on in our schools.
Things changed quickly. My son moved in with me, which resulted in an increased awareness of what happens in not only his school but all the high schools.
At the same time, Homan became a local next fixture. First there was her poor handling of the Roosevelt bus incident. Then her fumbling and bumbling allowed the fundamentalists to take over the middle school sex education program. Finally, there was her idiotic plan to close school board meetings from the general public.
A few weeks ago came her absolutely worst moments of her career. Two Lincoln High School students found themselves a credit or two short of the total required for graduation, and Mrs. Beasley was not going to let them attend graduation. Never mind that both of these students suffered from tragic medical situations. One student’s health problems even occurred during a school activity.
Yet Mrs. Beasley had no compassion for these courageous young adults. Time after time, she held to her belief that there was no place for these boys. When rising public sentiment caused the school board to reevaluate the situation, she fell into the Bush administration mentality of blaming the media. Then she came up with this asinine “separate but equal” plan that would put non-graduates in a special section at the graduation ceremony. Yeah, that’s nice. Let’s let everybody know that these people weren’t graduating.
For the first time in recent memory, however, the citizens of our city banded together and bitch-slapped Mrs. Beasley and the rest of the school board. While many board members initially appeared to support Homan’s plan, they escaped the wrath of the mob by creating a “special exception” rule for those with medical problems.
In my mind, however, this may have been a saving grace move for the two Lincoln students, but is not the perfect solution. I guarantee there will be future problems involving questionable excuses disguised as medical conditions.
The real solution should have been obvious to these highly paid professionals – adopt the method used by most colleges, including Augustana. If a person is close enough to meeting the required standards that summer school can fix the situations, then they can participate in graduation. Those that fit in this category are handed an unsigned diploma during the ceremony, which is replaced by a real diploma when they pass their summer school classes.
Doesn’t this make sense? Shouldn’t it be obvious to Mrs. Beasley and people of her ilk? She definitely deserves to be kicked out of town this week. Oh wait, she already lives out of town. I guess it’s okay when SHE’s the recipient of special treatment.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Hudson Guide to the Kinks

It’s hard to believe that after 40 years of recording, Kinks leader Ray Davies has finally released his first solo album. Although Other People’s Lives is a bit more subdued than one might expect from a fan of his former band, it’s still his strongest set of songs in almost twenty years…and hopefully will direct plenty of people to check out the great music he recorded as a member of the most underrated band of all time.
It’s a true crime that the Kinks aren’t generally mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Who. Ray’s songs stand strong next to the great moments of Lennon and McCartney, and the band’s live presence was every bit as powerful as anybody who came out of the mid-60’s British Invasion.
Much of the blame must be placed on the band, though. Poor business decisions have plagued their entire career, and an American musician’s union ban kept them from capitalizing on their early success. They have also jumped from label to label throughout their career, often releasing their worst albums at the beginning or end of their tenure with a record company.
Because of these problems, collecting the band’s catalog can be an adventure. Albums come and go out of print, particularly their early material which has been cut and pasted into a ton of different releases. For the purpose of this comprehensive look at their career, I’m sticking to the original releases. In recent years, most of these albums have been re-released with plenty of bonus tracks and improved sound quality.

The Early Years (1964-66)

Like all of the great British Invasion acts, the Kinks were initially a singles band. Albums were an afterthought, comprised of a handful of singles and tons of filler. One would be better suited to pick up a hits compilation of this era than albums such as Kinks, You Really Got Me, and Kinks-Size.
The recent reissue of Kinda Kinks, however, is a great primer of the era. While the album itself, recorded in less than a week, is probably no better than those previously mentioned, the ten bonus tracks (culled from singles and EP’s recorded around the same time) showcase just how quickly the band moved from a one-trick pony to one of the most well-rounded bands of the time.

The Glory Years (1966-1970)

By late 1966, Ray Davies was hitting his stride as a songwriter. While the band was still releasing exquisite singles (“Waterloo Sunset”, “Dead End Street”, etc.), Davies was beginning to use the album format as an outlet for songs that were more personal (and at times more biting) than what British radio would tolerate.
Face to Face was the first Kinks album that was great from start to finish. As the Rolling Stone Record Guide stated in calling this record “one of the great albums of the ‘60’s”, “Davies refines his obsessions into his own private world…as he tells his ruefully witty tales of English losers and outsiders, himself included.”
Something Else is arguably even better than Face to Face, as Davies became more confident in his writing and arranging. Producer Shel Talmy present in name only, giving Davies free reign in running the sessions.
Although it was considered a commercial and artistic failure at the time, The Village Green Preservation Society has emerged over time as the band’s true classic album. Initially conceived as a solo album (Davies had a nervous breakdown shortly before sessions commenced), the record is a look back at Ray’s childhood and the quaint characters that were now just a memory. (Hardcore fans should pay the big bucks for 2004’s three disc import of pretty much everything put down on tape during sessions for this release.)
After this trio of releases, it’s only natural that there would be a bit of a letdown on the next couple of albums. Both Arthur and Lola Vs. Powerman have their share of strong tracks, but the high-tech concepts driving these albums seem forced and the sense of humor that had saved Davies’ self-pity in the past was rapidly approaching self-parody. Despite the so-so nature of the album, though, “Lola” was the band’s biggest American hit in close to five years.

The Troubled Years (1971-78)

With the commercial breakthrough in America with “Lola”, the band once again began touring the country (a controversial ban had kept them from our country for most of the late ‘60’s). Unfortunately, drugs and drink were becoming a problem for most band members, and relations between Ray and Dave were at an all-time low.
The result was some of the worst albums of the band’s career. Muswell Hillbillies, a country-ish sequel of sorts to Village Green, had it’s moments but the subsequent albums (Everybody’s in Showbiz, Soap Opera, Preservation, Act. 1 and Act. 2, Schoolboys in Disgrace) were virtually unlistenable then and now. The overblown concepts behind these albums were hampered by weak tracks that struggled to keep the storylines flowing.
These years on the road did have some benefits, however. Musically, they were becoming stronger, and by the middle of the decade they were sounding better than they had in years. Sleepwalker and Misfits dropped the pretentious idea of conceptual storylines, and they’re much the better for it. “Jukebox Music” highlights Sleepwalker, while the title track and “A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy” are the best songs the band had released in five or six years.

Mid-Life Resurgence (1979-1984)

Heavy metal and punk rock may have been opposing figures in the late 70’s, but there was at least one band they both looked up to – the Kinks. With tons of punk acts touting and covering the band, along with Van Halen’s hit cover of “Your Really Got Me”, the time was right for a commercial comeback.
Critics have never been kind to the albums of this era, but each of these albums are worthy of owning. Sure, they’re not as revolutionary as Face to Face or Village Green, and the musical backing is a bit arena-rock friendly, but Ray’s sarcastic with has returned and Dave’s guitar playing is as biting as it was a full decade before.
Low Budget is generally considered the classic of the bunch, but the aptly-titled Give the People What They Want is just as great. The pseudo-disco of Low Budget’s “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” is a better parody of disco than the Stones’ “Miss You”, and “Gallon of Gas” is probably more apt today than it was at the time. Give the People What They Want are highlighted by the title track, the hard-rocking “Destroyer”, and the wishful thinking ballad, “Better Things”.
State of Confusion isn’t as rocking, but does feature some great songs – “Come Dancing” was the big MTV hit, but “Don’t Forget to Dance” and “Long Distance” are better songs. Word of Mouth ably attempted to mimic the hit-making formula of State of Confusion, but with slightly inferior results.

Limping to the Finish Line (1985-1994)

The less said of albums such as Think Visual, U.K. Jive, and Lost and Found, the better. Signed to another new label (MCA), these albums had flashes of quality surrounded by tons of dross. By the ‘90’s, the Kinks were a band in name only. Phobia, released in 1993, was a bit of an improvement, but it was clear that their days were numbered. Their final release as a band, To the Bone, was a low-key “unplugged” live album that featured only one song under the age of 15.

Compilations

Because they recorded for so many labels, finding a great career retrospective is not an easy task. Every era has a disc that compiles the highlights of the time – Rhino’s Greatest Hits does the beset job at featuring their early hits along with some strong b-sides; The Kink Kronikles does the same for the latter half of the decade. The Kinks Greatest Celluloid Heroes performs the thankless task of cherry-picking the best material of their disastrous concept album period of the early ‘70’s, while Come Dancing is hampered by questionable song choices.
Until the inevitable box set appears (rumor is that Ray is in the process of putting one together), the only comprehensive greatest hits compilation is a surprisingly cheap import entitled The Ultimate Collection. Although there is no rhyme or reason for the track order, these two discs cover most of the tracks that one would desire from such a collection, including a few songs made famous by other act’s cover versions.

Live Albums

Although there are plenty of live releases to choose from, there are only two that should be considered. The BBC Sessions is a two disc compilation of the band’s many appearances on British radio, and features mainly revved-up versions of not only their greatest hits but obscure album tracks.
One For the Road documents their late ‘70’s Low Budget-era comeback and mixes album tracks from that era with many of their greatest hits. While the sing-a-long version of “Lola” is a bit tedious, the rest of the album is a great primer for those wondering how this little band could be covered by bands as far apart as Van Halen and the Jam.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Finally, A New Poll


What Do You LIke Best About Warm Weather?
Beer
Booty Shorts
Outdoor Sex
Canaries Baseball (Assuming They Win a Game or Two)
Charity Car Washes
Bars With Outdoor Tables
Whiskey
Nubile Joggers
Riding the Bike Trails
The Lack of Bras
Lower Home Gas Bills
Driving Around Listening to Loud Music
Outdoor Concerts
Tanned Legs
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

The War is Over...Or Is It?



Regular readers of this blog probably know that for the past decade or so Hudsonland has been in a war with another “land”. Over those years I’ve utilized the resources of the print and radio mediums to convey the powerful message of Hudsonland. At times, I’ve been forced to use guerilla tactics, including top secret double-notch spies (ala Jethro Bodine), but I’ve mainly been nothing more than a pest.
Yet many feel that Hudsonland has been winning this long-winded war. As leader of Hudsonland, I’ve kept these bastards on their toes while also spreading my words of hope. They’ll never fess up, but some of their more dastardly stunts, including marathon coverage of minor weather flare-ups, have decreased not only in terms of quantity but annoyance level.
Yet unbeknownst to Hudsonland’s leader, talks opened up between representatives of Hudsonland and the “other land”. Why this happened I don’t know, as I would have never authorized any sort of cease fire. In fact, I had planned to spend some time with members of our President’s security team in order to learn how to bend the Constitution just a little bit to allow some wiretapping and other types of information-gathering.
Unfortunately, an agreement was recently reached effectively ending the longest war in Sioux Falls media history. Under the terms of this contract, Hudsonland is no longer allowed to use weapons of oral destruction against the “other land” on the airwaves of KRRO radio.
This is obviously a devastating blow to the dictator of Hudsonland and his tens of minions. The pressure of coming up with weekly five minute rants is upped considerably when the easiest target is taken away. How can my people possibly refrain from ranting about coverage of teens, puppy mills, road construction, tourism, and new senior drugs? How can we refrain from commenting on  the stutters, hair (or lack of hair) concerns, beady eyes, clothing choices, and sexual preferences of their reporters?
It’s really almost like when MTV responded to the stories of people without cable television burning down their trailers by banning Beavis from saying “fire”. Remember how that worked? They’d play a music video that featured some flames, and Beavis would begin to shake and stutter. Butthead would have to calm him down by saying, “don’t do it, Beavis”, before slapping him on the back of the head. (Ok, I’m getting a little scared – I kind of am a middle-aged Sioux Falls version of Beavis.)
Members of Hudsonland – don’t be sad. The “other land” may be proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” but I guarantee that this war is far from over. The traditional battlefield of over-the-air radio may have been stifled, but insurgents will continue to fight this war. You can count on http://scotthudson.blogspot.com to carry on this battle, with the assistance of allies such as local artist “Detroit Lewis” and other Hudsonland residents. The pests will not be deterred!

Detroit Lewis Returns!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert at Washington Correspondents Dinner



Here’s a complete transcript of Colbert, compliments of friend…

Here with a special edition of the Colbert report, Stephen Colbert.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Before I begin, I’ve been asked to make an announcement. Whoever parked 14 black bullet proof S.U.V.’S out front, could you please move them. They are blocking in 14 other black bulletproof S.U.V.’S and they need to get out.

Wow, wow, what an honor. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner. To just sit here, at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I’m dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what, I’m a pretty sound sleeper, that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face.

Is he really not here tonight? The one guy who could have helped. By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail.

Mr. Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Mr. President and Madame first lady, my name is Stephen Colbert and it’s my privilege tonight to celebrate our president. He’s no so different, he and I. We get it. We’re not brain backs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the fact (police). We go straight from the gut, right sir? That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that’s not true. That’s but you looked it up in a book.

Next time look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert report, I speak straight from the gut, ok? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the no fact zone. Fox News, I own the copyright on that term.

I’m a simple man with a simple mind, with a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists.

My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how “the Washington Post” spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out in plastic for three cents a unit.

In fact, ambassador, welcome, your great country makes our happy meals possible. I said it’s a celebration. I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible — I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be it Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe our infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it’s yogurt. But I refuse to believe it’s not butter. Most of all I believe in this president.

Now, I know there’s some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in “reality.” And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

So, Mr. President, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass — it’s important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it’s 2/3 empty. There’s still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn’t drink it.

The last third is usually backwash. Folks, my point is that I don’t believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull, before a comeback.

I mean, it’s like the movie “Rocky.” The president is Rocky and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world. It’s the 10th round. He’s bloodied, his corner man, Mick, who in this case would be the Vice President, and he’s yelling cut me, dick, cut me, and every time he falls she say stay down! Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky he gets back up and in the end he — actually loses in the first movie.

Ok. It doesn’t matter. The point is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face. So don’t pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he’s not doing? Think about it. I haven’t.

I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you think he’s down on the ranch cutting that brush all the time? He’s trying to create an alternative energy source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite powered car.

And I just like the guy. He’s a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She’s a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma’am.

I’m sorry, but this reading initiative. I’ve never been a fan of books. I don’t trust them. They’re all fact, no heart. I mean, they’re elitist telling us what is or isn’t true, what did or didn’t happen. What’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914. If I want to say it was built in 1941, that’s my right as an American. I’m with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will. And as excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story, the President’s side and the Vice President’s side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re superdepressing.

And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. intelligence, the affect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions, he’s the decider. The Press Secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know, fiction.

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

Now, it’s not all bad guys out there. Some heroes, Buckley, Kim Schieffer. By the way, Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be to my show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is I promise you. How is Tuesday for you? I’ve got Frank Rich, but we can bump him. And I mean bump him. I know a guy. Say the word.

See who we’ve got here tonight. General Mowsly, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace. They still support Rumsfeld. You guys aren’t retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld. Look, by the way, I’ve got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble, don’t let them retire. C’mon, we’ve got a stop loss program, let’s use it on these guys. If you’re strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle. C’mon.

Jesse Jackson is here. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants.

It’s like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

Justice Scalia’s here. May I be the first to say welcome, sir. You look fantastic. How are you?

John McCain is here. John McCain John McCain. What a maverick. Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you wasn’t a salad fork. He could have used a spoon. There’s no predicting him. So wonderful to see you coming back into the republican fold. I have a summerhouse in South Carolina, look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So glad you’ve seen the light.

Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city. Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I would like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., The chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a mallomar is what I’m describing, a seasonal cookie.

Joe Wilson is here, the most famous husband since Desi Arnez. And of course he brought along his lovely wife Valerie Plame. Oh, my god! Oh, what have I said. I am sorry, Mr. President, I meant to say he brought along his lovely wife, Joe Wilson’s wife. Pat Fitzgerald is not here tonight? Dodged a bullet.

And we can’t forget man of the hour, new Press Secretary, Tony Snow. Secret service name, Snow Job. What a hero, took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq. Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, eager to retire. Really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card’s children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn’t made the decision to quickly, sir. I was vying for the job. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary.

I have nothing but contempt for these people. I know how to handle these clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape and with your indulgence, I’d like to at least give it a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.

Via DKOS (UPDATED): Colbert shows a video of a mock press conference. It opens with him at a podium, addressing the assembled Washington press corps.

COLBERT: I have a brief statement: the press is destroying America. OK, let’s see who we’ve got here today.

COLBERT (acknowledging various reporters): Stretch! (David Gregory nods)

Sir Nerdlington! (reporter nods)

Sloppy Joe! (reporter nods)

Terry Lemon Moran Pie! (Terry Moran nods)

Oh, Doubting Thomas, always a pleasure. (Helen Thomas smiles)

And Suzanne Mal — hello!!

(Suzanne Malveaux stares at Colbert, looking unhappy. Colbert mimics putting a phone to his ear and mouths “call me.”)

REPORTER: Will the Vice President be available soon to answer all questions himself?

COLBERT: I’ve already addressed that question. You (pointing to another reporter).

REPORTER: Walter Cronkite, the noted CBS anchor, . . .

COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, no, he’s the former CBS anchor. Katie Couric is the new anchor of the CBS Evening News. Well, well, how do you guys feel about that?

You, tousle-haired guy in the back. Are you happy about Katie Couric taking over the CBS Evening News?

DAN RATHER: No, sir, Mr. Colbert. Are you? (Laughter)

COLBERT: Boom! Oh, look, we woke David Gregory up. Question?

DAVID GREGORY: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

COLBERT: I don’t know. I’ll ask him.

(Colbert turns to Rove) Karl, pay attention please! (Rove is seen drawing a heart with “Karl + Stephen” written on it.)

GREGORY: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl, and Elliott Abrams, and Scooter Libby, and you said “I’ve gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me that they are not involved in this.” Do you stand by that statement?

COLBERT: Nah, I was just kidding!

GREGORY: No, you’re not finishing. You’re not saying anything! You stood at that podium and said . . .

COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, that’s where you’re wrong. New podium! Just had it delivered today. Get your facts straight, David.

GREGORY: This is ridiculous. The notion that you’re going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell the people watching this that somehow you’ve decided not to talk. You’ve got to . . .

(Colbert is seen looking at three buttons on the podium, labeled “EJECT,” “GANNON” and “VOLUME.” He selects the “VOLUME” button and turns it. We see Gregory’s lips continue moving, but can’t hear any sound coming out.)

COLBERT: If I can’t hear you, I can’t answer your question. I’m sorry! I have to move on. Terry.

TERRY MORAN: After the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said . . .

(Colbert presses a button on the podium and fast-forwards through most of Moran’s question.)

MORAN (continuing): All of a sudden, you have respect for the sanctity of a criminal investigation?

COLBERT (seen playing with rubber ball, which he is bouncing off attached paddle): No, I never had any respect for the sanctity of a criminal investigation. Activist judges! Yes, Helen.

HELEN THOMAS: You’re going to be sorry. (Laughter)

COLBERT (looking vastly amused, mockingly): What are you going to do, Helen, ask me for a recipe?

THOMAS: Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands (Colbert’s smile fades) of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.

COLBERT (interrupting): OK, hold on Helen, look . . .

THOMAS (continuing): Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is why did you really want to go to war?

COLBERT (again interrupting): Helen, I’m going to stop you right there. (Thomas keeps talking.) That’s enough! No! Sorry, Helen, I’m moving on. (Colbert tries to turn her volume off, but the knob falls off his controls.)

(Various reporters start shouting questions at Colbert.)

COLBERT (agitated): Guys, guys, please don’t let Helen do this to what was a lovely day.

(Reporters keep shouting at him.)

COLBERT (putting his fingers over his ears and shouting in a high-pitched voice): Bllrrtt! No, no, no, no, no. I’m not listening to you!

Look what you did, Helen! I hate you!

(Helen Thomas glowers at Colbert.)

COLBERT (frantic): I’m out of here!

(Colbert pulls back the curtain behind him, desperately trying to flee. He says, “There is a wall here!” The press corps laughs. Colbert has difficulty finding a door from which to exit the room, echoing Bush’s experience in China. He finally finds the door and hurries through it.)

COLBERT: It reeks in there! Ridiculous! I’ve never been so insulted in my life! Stupid job.

(Colbert continues walking away. We hear sinister-sounding music playing. We see Helen Thomas walking behind Colbert.)

(Colbert looks behind him, sees Thomas, and starts running.)

(Colbert trips over a roller skate, and yells “Condi!” We see a close-up of Helen Thomas’ face, looking determined and angry. Colbert, increasingly panicked, gets up and continues running, running into a parking garage. He reaches an emergency call box, and yells into it.)

COLBERT: Oh, thank God. Help me!

ATTENDANT: What seems to be the problem, sir?

COLBERT: She won’t stop asking why we invaded Iraq!

ATTENDANT: Hey, why did we invade Iraq?

COLBERT: NO!!! (runs toward his car)

(We see Helen Thomas, still walking toward him.)

(Colbert reaches his car, and fumblingly attempts to open it with his key. He is in such a desperate hurry that he fumbles with the keys and drops them. When he picks them up, he looks back and Helen is even closer. In his frantic rush, Colbert just can’t get the keys into the lock.)

(Just as his anxiety is getting completely out of control he suddenly remembers that he has a keyless remote — so he just pushes the button on the keychain and the car unlocks immediately with the usual double squeak noise. Colbert jumps in and locks the door, and continues to fumble trying to get the car started. He finally succeeds, and looks up to see Helen standing in front of the car, notepad in hand.)

COLBERT: NO!!! NO!!!

(Colbert puts the car into reverse and drives off, tires squealing. Thomas smiles.)

(Colbert is shown taking the shuttle from Washington, D.C. to New York. A car and driver are waiting for him at Penn Station. The uniformed man standing alongside the car opens the door and lets Colbert in.)

COLBERT: What a terrible trip, Danny. Take me home.

(The driver locks the doors, turns around, and says, “Buckle up, hon.” IT’S HELEN THOMAS!!!)

COLBERT (horrified face pressed against car window): NO!!!

END OF “AUDITION TAPE”

STEPHEN COLBERT: Helen Thomas, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Smith, members of the White House Correspondents Association, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, it’s been a true honor. Thank you very much. Good night!

What Was Stephanie Thinking?