Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Goodbye Chelsia

Three months or so ago, one of my online buddies approached me with an interesting idea. Being the webmaster at a number of reality TV sites, he had an idea for a blog to capture news, opinions, and rumors surrounding season 9 of Big Brother. Since I have no life, and love to babble my silly thoughts, I jumped at this chance.
I went into this project with realistically low expectations. I figured there would be the usual mix of cretins – a couple of hotties with no personalities, a pretty boy or two who would do nothing but wander about with no shirt, the token gay guy who thinks he represents all gays, a geek who thinks he knows everything, and a single mom or two to make the housewives weep at their sob story.
The beginning of the first episode seemed to bear out these reality television clich├ęs. Bimbos? Check. Himbos? Check. Gay guy? Of course. Each person that was introduced seemed to come straight from reality casting.
Then I saw the woman who changed my TV life…or at least my winter TV viewing. The moment I laid eyes on her I knew she was going to be special. Sprorting flawless skin, a hipster haircut, and a smoking little body, I immediately knew I’d be paying special attention to this gorgeous creature.
Her name was Chelsia Hart, and if I use the standards of my “pals” at KELO, she actually resides in “Hudsonland”. Ok, she’s from Cedar Falls, but if they can file a report from Nebraska and call the subject a “KELO-Land” resident, then Chelsia’s hometown clearly fits my geographic boundaries.
Ok, so at 21 she’s a bit young for this chubby old dude. But, get this – she loves older guys! And dive bars! And loud music! Plus she describes herself as a “party girl”! Can it get any better?
Her activities in the house certainly fit the party girl description. She immediately hooked up with James, the Mohawk-ed punk rock bicyclist (who has a dirty little secret involving a video camera and another male), and has spent the majority of her time in the house in a little bikini. One drunken night, Chelsia and another female in the house ended up doing a strip show that culminated with almost everybody making out with each other in the pool.

So why am I talking about my dream girl in a segment usually devoted to me whining about politicians and other cretins? Well, in about twelve hours the dream will be over. Earlier this week, an uneducated, born-again, former stripper with two abortions to her name convinced this week’s Head of Household, Adam, to nominate her and James for eviction. James was able to save himself, so it’s inevitable that my girl Chelsia will be leaving the house, and the show, on tonight’s episode.
It’s a sad, sad day for me. How am I supposed to carry on watching not only the CBS broadcasts but 24-hour live feeds without being able to see the beautiful and talented Chelsia? How am I going to continue to endure the screeching voices of the remaining bimbos? Well, I’m a trooper, I guess, so I’ll carry on with my duties. But I miss her already.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Forbes Versus Sanford

There’s one unwritten rule in this city – you don’t say anything remotely negative about either of our hospitals. Well, one in particular, at least. If you do, you’re going to be bombarded with reminders of all the wonderful things their namesake has done for us. Actually, for me he has done nothing, but in their view his gifts to them is a gift to everybody.
Every now and then, though, everybody has to take a hit or two. Unfortunately, the fine people at this company take a compliment aimed at a competitor as an insult directed at them. God, I hate people like that. Have you ever casually mentioned that a girl is attractive only to find that the female you’re with somehow takes that to mean she’s not? That’s what’s I’m talking about here…
…and is exactly the attitude that Sanford Hospital has always had in regards to the physician-owned Sioux Falls Surgical Center. The couple of times I have mentioned them in the past has resulted in a deluge of hate mail, so you can imagine the reaction that came from that building when Forbes magazine issued a report that says claims “patients are being short-changed by the efforts of large community-based hospitals to stop the growth of what are referred to as ‘specialty hospitals’.”
Representatives from both Sanford and the Sioux Falls Surgical Center were a part of this report, and the fact that Forbes acknowledged the surgical center was enough for Cindy Morrison, Sanford’s Vice President of Public Policy to go running to their biggest fan – KELO. After all, that station is indeed the main source for Sanford publicity. Name one medical report that doesn’t involve some sucking up to their biggest advertiser, let alone all of the glorified infomercials that Jayne Andrews does for those fine folks. I’m sure KELO’s news room is the number one preset on Ms. Morrison’s speed dial.
Sure, the station did involve one of the doctors from the opposing side to state their side of the debate. But it was Morrison’s allegations that Forbes refused to use some of their data that “proves” the story was flawed, and as usual we heard about the conflict of interest side of the story.
Sanford would love us to believe that this supposed conflict of interest is the reason they’re trying to push Congressional legislation to stop these types of facilities. Come on, does anybody believe that? Ever since they found their benefactor, it’s been all about becoming the only health care provider in the area. They’ve bought out the majority of independently-owned clinics, and they’re constantly adding on to their main facility to have an edge over anybody else that’s left. They clearly cannot buy out this organization, so it’s up to the lobbyists and their pals in the media to go after these people. I’d rather they work on lowering patient costs, wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fix the Streets, Dammit!

I was all prepared to come in here today to bitch about our wonderful state legislature, which seemed to do nothing this year but come up with a plan to induce the sort of companies this state definitely doesn’t need – franchises.
Do we really need more chains to come into our state? Is it really that much more important for the Cheesecake Factory to possibly move into Sioux Falls or Rapid City? Sorry, but it’s the local flavor of our state that we’re losing more and more every year, and if anybody should be given a liquor license break it’s the independent bar owner who wants to create something unique to their area.
It’s really typical of what we saw in Pierre this year. Nobody came home looking good. Democrats were barely seen, and not heard at all, and our Governor has seemed to adopt President Bush’s mentality that the legislative branch is not an equal part of state government.
It would be real easy to just carry on with an extended analysis of how our state government failed us this year, but leave it to our city government to top them in pure stupidity.
Have you driven our streets lately? They’re a mess. If you don’t find yourself swerving around pot holes, you’re undoubtedly on streets that couldn’t be further away from level. I hate to give KELO credit, but they were right on when they sent a camera crew to a section of 57th Street that’s a hazard to anything that’s not a monster truck.
One would think that the discovery of over seven million bucks left over in the capital improvements budget would immediately go towards fixing some of these problems. Oh no, that’s not how our city’s masterminds work.
Well, at least a couple of our representatives have some smarts. Councilor Pat Costello set forth a motion this past Monday to beef up spending on city streets, and Councilor Gerald Beninga seconded it, saying “I believe very strongly that this ought to be a priority.” Well, duh.
As you might expect, Mayor Dimwit was completely against this idea. After all, it’s more important for him to purchase land for parks that someday may be named after him. Suddenly, he’s also all about fiscal responsibility, warning the City Counsel that using this money would leave no “wiggle room” in upcoming years. Sir, if that does happen it’s all your fault, as from day one you’ve had your pet projects that has resulted in millions and millions of bond issues that will have to be repaid in the future.
Instead of fighting for what’s right, though, it was business as usual with our city council and Munson got some money for his parks, and our streets will get a measly $1.8 million. Can we please get some mavericks to run this year that won’t roll over for he Mayor? I for one would love for Jenna the Jeep to last a few more years.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Hudson Guide to Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown

Rock and roll needs more artists like Ryan Adams.
Yes, it’s frustrating to be a fan of his. He releases too many albums, he changes direction far too often, and his shows are historically unpredictable.
That’s exactly what we need these days.
Too much of what passes for rock and roll these days is predictably mediocre. An artist makes an album every two or three years, and said album is fine-tuned by professional songwriters, computer analysts, marketing managers, and publicists. Not a word is spoken in public that isn’t pre-choreographed by the record label.
Nothing like that occurs in Adams’ parallel universe. Ok, so his most recent album, last year’s Cold Roses, may have come almost a full two years from his previous, 29, but that’s not typical. Generally, he releases a new album before you’ve even become completely engrossed in his previous effort. In 2005, he released three (29, Jacksonville City Nights, and Cold Roses), and it’s not unusual for a calendar year to see at least one album and EP.
All told, he’s released nine albums since going solo in 2000, but that’s not telling the whole story. He’s also released a punk album with buddy Jesse Malin under the moniker The Finger, and his website is full of silly rap tunes reportedly recorded during one long late-night bender.
He’s also tossed aside more albums than most artists ever record. Bootleg collectors all around the world have filled their hard drives with collections with such names as Exile On Franklin Street, The Suicide Handbook, 48 Hours, and The Pinkheart Sessions. There are at least ten such collections known to exist; who knows how many other discarded albums are gathering dust in some tape vault?
Being prolific means nothing, however, if you’re just serving up the same old crap from album to album. That’s definitely not the case with Adams. His original band, Whiskeytown, originally came to be known as an Uncle Tupelo clone, but by their second album he was christened as a modern day Gram Parsons for his Stones-y country-rock. Yet that was just a momentary stop, as their final release, Pnuemonia, edged closer to Fleetwood Mac slickness.
Since going solo in 2000, he’s dabbled in folk-ish singer-songwriter mode (Heartbreaker), semi-rocking alt-country (Gold), power pop (Rock and Roll), confessional “tear in my beer” mope (Love Is Hell), and even some jam band-ish tunes that completely frustrated some of his longtime fans (29).
Many “experts” cringe at both the sheer volume of material he releases and the different musical paths he explores. Not this fan. To me, he’s one of the few who is doing exactly what all artists should be doing – following their muse and ignoring the star-making machinery of the business.
I’ve always said that if I ran a record company I’d rather have an artist that consistently sells a couple hundred thousand copies of each release for an extended period of time than one who has one blockbuster album and then can’t give away their later releases.
Adams is just following the path of other classic songwriters whose various moves cannot be predicted. Bob Dylan has had so many “careers” that it took eight actors to portray him in “I’m Not There”, and has been known to not only change direction from album to album but to inexplicably decline to include some of his greatest songs.
Neil Young is also known for shelving entire albums, and for not following record company advice. After releasing the biggest selling album of 1972, Harvest, he followed it with arguably the worst album of his career, Time Fades Away, and Tonight’s the Night, now considered a classic but at the time was deemed an unreleasable record that lingered in the Warner Brothers vault for two years.
Some of Young’s best material, including albums such as Homegrown and Chrome Dreams, has never made it out of his backyard “shed”. In fact, there is now so much unreleased material in Young’s vault that his planned Archives set is reportedly going to be a multi-DVD/Blu-Ray-only release.
Adams has promised a similar (but smaller) box set of his unreleased material sometime in the next year or so, but until then his fans have something potentially cooler to purchase. As part of their “Deluxe Edition” series, Universal will be releasing a double disc version of Whiskeytown’s second album, Strangers Almanac. Along with Son Volt’s Trace, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and Steve Earle’s I Feel Alright, Strangers Almanac was one of the greatest moments of the late 90’s alt-country mini-revolution and officially put Adams on the map as a songwriter to watch.
The first disc of the two-disc set will feature the original album plus five tracks recorded live on Los Angeles radio station KCRW on September 10, 1997. Three of those tracks are album cuts ("Houses On The Hill", "Turn Around", "Somebody Remembers The Rose") and two were not on the album ("Nurse With The Pills", "I Don't Care What You Think About Me").
The 20 tracks on disc two include outtakes and alternate tracks from the Strangers Almanac recording sessions and demo sessions. A few of them were issued separate from Strangers Almanac at the time: "Theme For A Trucker", "My Heart Is Broken", and alternate versions of "The Strip" (a.k.a. "Dancing With The Women At The Bar") and "Houses On The Hill" comprised a double 7-inch gatefold release by Bloodshot Records in early 1997, and "Ticket Time" and Alejandro Escovedo's "The Rain Won't Help You When It's Over" were on a limited-edition bonus EP packaged with initial pressings of the Strangers Almanac CD.
Aside from "The Rain Won't Help You", other cover songs on the second disc include Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", Gram Parsons' "Luxury Liner", and a Ryan Adams solo version of Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone".
Previously unreleased outtakes from the Strangers sessions featured on disc two include "Kiss & Make-Up", "Indiana Gown", "Barn's On Fire", "Whispers" (a.k.a. "Streets Of Sirens"), "Breathe", and "10 Seconds Till The End Of The World".
Disc two also includes alternate studio versions of Strangers tracks "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight", "16 Days", "Somebody Remembers The Rose", "Avenues", and "Turn Around".

Thursday, March 06, 2008

R.E.M. - "Supernatural Superserious"

R.E.M.'s new album, Accelerate, which hits stores April 1, is supposedly their "return to rock". Here's the first video for the album.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You Can Do Better Than This, KELO!

Over the past few months, I’ve stayed away from commenting on my friends at KELO. Trust me, it’s not because that they’ve shown any improvement. If anything, it’s gotten to the point that I can’t sit through much more than the top story of the night.
That all changes today, as I can’t refrain from commenting on a story that should not have even made the cut for that final thirty second filler at the end of the broadcast. Unfortunately, for their viewers, this same footage is being shown multiple times every day for over a week.
Before I get into the actual story, though, I must say that by no means does this complaint minimize the tragedy that occurred in southern Minnesota last month. I feel terrible for everybody involved – from the families of the victims to the rescue workers to the kids that were friends of those whose lives were cut short.
I’m also not excusing the fact that people routinely break the law in regards to driving with a valid driver’s license. It’s a crime, and if caught those people should be held accountable. That fact doesn’t excuse what KELO has been doing the past few days.
If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, early last week KELO aired a so-called “investigative” report where they sat outside a courthouse to see if anybody that was convicted of driving without a driver’s license would again get behind the wheel.
Of course, they found a number of people in this situation, and ambushed these people. Most had little to say, but one young woman explained that she lives far from the courthouse and had no other way to get to her hearing. It’s still wrong, but she took a chance that she wouldn’t get caught. Come on, this is not exactly a major crime. Yes, the Minnesota situation was caused by a person without a license, but it’s quite a stretch to link this woman with that situation.
One would think that somebody in that building would have laughed at this silly story, and once it aired we’d never hear about it again. Of course that’s not the case. We’ve now seen that same footage day after day after day. Their big get was the following day when they confronted county officials about how they allow this to happen.
Let’s be real. Do they really expect police officers to sit in the courthouse parking lot and check out every car that leaves? Hundreds of cars are in and out of that lot throughout the day. How many of these vehicles feature a person without a license? Maybe two or three? Five at the most? I think the resources of our police department are better utilized elsewhere.
At least there was one moment in the original story that made me chuckle. One young lady was none too pleased to have her day interrupted by these idiots. As she drove off, she gave the finger to the camera crew, which of course KELO slowed down to show just how offensive these people are. It didn’t offend me. In fact, that cute woman is now my hero! I wonder if she’s single.