Monday, July 30, 2007

262-497-4823. Have a cell with that number?

If so, return it to me now! I lost my cell phone somewhere between Statesider and Mendota Ct. (near the Alumni center.) it's a total of two blocks and I'm pretty sure it was either lost around Walgreens or my friend's apartment. Having partially scoured the apartment, I can only assume it's near walgreens. Find it and recieving a shiny reward.

Find it and don't return it, and suffer a horrifying death. Or...not.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Kevin Barrett rejected. and now a fountain of tears.

"Our students are not blank slates. They are capable of exercising good judgment, critical analysis and speaking their minds. Instructors do not hand over knowledge wrapped up in neat packages. Knowledge grows from challenging ideas in a setting that encourages dialogue and disagreement. That's what builds the kind of sophisticated, critical thinking we expect from our graduates."

-Patrick Ferrell

Turn to Kevin Barrett, the pariah of the UW system. This week, administrators validated his parking and sent him on his way as his request to teach a class on the Canterbury Tales was rejected. What was Barrett doing applying for a job in the English department when he has a PhD in African languages and a minor in folklore? Who knows. You could ask him, but most journalists seem to greet Barrett with guffaws, not questions.

And why? Because of his belief that 9/11 was an inside job. Yes, he believes this government was behind the attacks on 9/11. Whether directly involved or by creating Al-Qaeda to fuel a proxy war against the nation it allegedly protects, who can tell what he means (although, from those who took the class, the latter sounds closer to his belief, and a bit more down to earth than the "moonbat" assertions of some 9/11 conspiracy theorists.) Yes, it's sounds insane, but to condemn a person's ability to teach because of one theory is short-sighted.

After all, what evidence do we have of inappropriate classroom behavior? Well, ratemyprofessor doesn't tell us much, as there are only 8 reviews. Yet, what comments are left seem to be positive:

Kevin was very helpful in and out of class, and was knowledgeable about his subject. He never brought his controversial beliefs up in class as truth, but only as an alternative viewpoint that could be agreed or disagreed with. An excellent course
who ever just wrote that comment about 911 &country hating obviously didn't take the course (since he listed it as Islam 1) but also Barrett didn't even mention his book in class. This class was awesome, I would take any of his courses, he is really passionate about teaching and every topic. His exams and papers were fair and reflected the course

The biggest criticism? He reads out of the book too much and was unorganized at times. Certainly a criticism I could lob at some of my past professors here, but at least he's teaching the material and the students got a lot out of it.

Can students get a lot out of the Islam class without Barrett? Of course, perhaps more. However, will as many students take it now as with Barrett? Maybe not. The controversy drew students to the class, perhaps some who wouldn't have taken a glance at the Qu'ran or considered a varied perspective on Islam. Simply because of one professor deemed "crazy" by nearly anyone who heard his name. They came for the straight jacket, but left with a different side and more knowledge.

I don't defend Kevin Barrett's opinion, which I still find illogical, not crazy. Yet, I do support the idea of him teaching that class again. If there is one section in the historical record that Americans need education and experience with, especially now, it's Islam. With such a misunderstanding already present, it took a $8,500 lecturer with an absurd statement to examine a culture far too misunderstood to address as a nation. If it took insanity to spur on examination, then maybe we could use more radical conspiracy theorists. Maybe in disproving all their theories, we'll step across relevant points to our own problems.

Of course, I could be wrong. I guess we'll just have to wait until the next controversy sparks the classroom. When someone either says or does something appalling, abhorent or controversial to skewer. The question this time won't be whether they're correct or deluded, it will be whether we have the nerve as an instution of learning to react with logical examination rather than overblown surface criticism. I sincerely hope we can keep our heads on tight next time. Otherwise, we may avoid insanity, but not foolish.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Francine Tate found...

...In northern Wisconsin, in the car pictured in those missing person posters. Thank god we don't have to worry about a serial killer, as Greta Van Susteren so absurdly proposed.

However, let's hope we can focus on Mahalia Xiong now. No sensationalism, guys, just a missing person. I doubt you can extrapolate two disappearances and a murder to start formulating the idea of an "epidemic." I mean, you can, but it's irresponsible to do so. Especially when the media stands on the sidelines jumping up and down like it's a Christmas present they think see through the wrapping.

If the media was really on top of their game, they'd decipher the Assembly and Senate state budgets for the common man.

But, of course, beauracracy doesn't exactly have the spice of missing women.

Monday, July 23, 2007

CAN finds dirt on UW? Possibly...

...If you consider one professor's NSA/CIA grant to research "The Detection of Deception in high stakes lying" immoral. It certainly seems to be enough for CAN, who plan on chastising UW and Prof. Richard J. Davidson. (yes, the same Richard Davidson who was one of Time Magazine's most influential people in 2006 for his breakthrough work on the happiness of Tibetan monks.) I say it's too early when we don't know the EXACT nature of the research, but CAN plans on pointing out the UW-CIA connection and shaking their finger at that.

They're trying to get more information and I'm doing the same, but I'll certainly post more when it becomes available.

My only request? Please don't start this until you have real proof that something morally wrong is going on here. I know ties to the CIA and NSA don't look good, but frankly, the last thing UW-Madison needs is bad publicity. Especially when the budget threatens to leave us hanging.
On another note, I had a birthday, followed by a cold, which is why the posts have been quite far and few between lately. I'll try and post more once I get a chance to breathe (both figuratively and literally) this weekend.

Monday, July 16, 2007

SSFC and Chancellor Wiley: reunited and it feels so good

With all the music flowing from the Terrace and High Noon, I nearly forgot to mention an important point of news that happened on Friday.

First, some background. Last year, Chancellor Wiley provided ASM a one-year exemption that allowed groups located off-campus to be funded by segregated fees. In December, Wiley ended that practice and forced ASM to reevaluate the budgets of a few student groups:
Promoting Awareness and Victim Empowerment (PAVE)
Jewish Cultural Center
Sex Out Loud
Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)
Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WisPIRG)
and UW Roman Catholic Foundation

Instead of reviewing the budgets, ASM decided the ruling was an unfair measure as no state law exists prohibiting the use of Segregated fees for Off-campus rent. Eventually, words went back and forth and we have arrived without resolution, at the Board of Regents, who have the final say.

Although there are certain criteria as to whether the Seg Fee use is legitimate, it is only one criteria for appeal this meeting was concerned with:

c) Does the student-proposed budget item require the university to violate any statute, administrative code, policy, or contract?

A Nov. 8th 2006 legal opinion written by UW legal council Patricia Brady concluded that segregated fee use to fund off-campus rent.

SSFC (now headed by former SRC leaders Katrina Flores and Alex Gallagher) argues that there is no statute in state law restricting the off-campus seg. fee use. Furthermore, they're saying the state statute 36.09(5) (aka Shared Governance) was broken because the legal opinion was written without consultation with ASM.

For once, this isn't about money. If the rent issue passes, then students will have to pay an extra $1.20 per semester.

Katrina Flores and Gallagher first attacked Pat Brady's legal opinion by citing each point and disputing that a law was broken. Certainly, many of Brady's points don't seem to show any damning evidence against the increase, if they are presented in the memo the way SSFC characterizes it. Here's a copy of the SSFC presentation, if you care to peruse.

Here's an excerpt:
Brady assumes campus student activities (Ironically, on a campus whose mission is to expand the boundaries of the campus to the boundaries of the state and beyond) should be literally taken as “on-campus.” This would entail that student groups who hold events off-campus, say a BBQ at a local park, would not be within the campus boundaries and thus they would not be able to choose this location.

...and since ASM hands out travel grants to student groups, I doubt this would ever be an issue.

So, with no stipulations specifically restricting rent from being funded, what is the problem?

Well, Elton Crim came to make the presentation for UW-Madison. Basically, the presentation boiled down to "Chancellor Wiley has the authority to be the final word on this decision." Sorry, that doesn't work in an appeal. Remember ASM's decision is subject to the decision of the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Since the Board of Regents already laid out their stipulation for appeals, you might want to argue to that point.

That's exactly what Chancellor Wiley tried to do himself, when prompted by the board.
Here is a direct quote of his remarks regarding "potential implications:

Let me say, first, that I can agree with pretty much everything said. I agree completely with the importance and impact on students. I'm especially concerned about the status, the fragility and durability of the whole seg fee system if we're not very very careful. There are many issues, current, right now, that could potentially endanger the entire system and eliminate seg fees, allocable seg fees, at least, totally and I think that would be catastrophic. In trying to be very very careful with the way we administrate seg fees, I asked Patricia for a decision. That's why she wrote it, I asked, are we on shaky ground here...As long as their opinion followed all the procedural policies and was legal, I would pass along and support to the board of regents their recommendations and I've done that faithfully. This happens to be one case in which I was told by legal council it would be illegal. That's really my whole decision right there...This is a very vulnerable position. There are some organizations off-campus, that have buildings, that are going to be there whether they get rent from us or not. And this provides the groups to subsidize their budgets, for the maintenance of their organization. among other things. there are other possible scenarios, you can imagine, that would come up and will come up if the payment of off-campus rent is deemed to be legal or desirable.
Sort of ambiguous. What would make that a problem, exactly? Besides, isn't the point of GSSF fees to maintain these student organizations, anyway? I think the real problem that Wiley cites is funding rent for UWRCF when they're currently housed in St. Paul's (or, I suppose, Hillel). If that's the case, what's the problem? UWRCF has been forced to separate itself from St. Paul's, so the conflict shouldn't exist anymore. Later on, Wiley mentions "One" org that brought up contract status and made them question this decision...could it be...UWRCF?

Wiley later said his decision was to correct a mistake by a former Chancellor. When pressed for information, he cited Donna Schalala.

The meetings ended with the board asking Chancellor Wiley and SSFC to talk in the meantime to try and work out a compromise on the issue.

There are a lot of ends and outs here, and I don't want to post my full opinion on the issue until I obtain a copy of Pat Brady's memo, tomorrow. However, I have a lot of homework piling up and a birthday tomorrow.

I promise, I'll be back to clarify.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday at High Noon: Redwalls, Robbers on High Street, Baby Teeth

The end of a tour is always a happy occasion, regardless of the outcome. If it's been a successful tour, a band can use it to fuel a jaunt into the studio. If it's been a horrible tour, at least they have more time to sleep. Yet, for the audience, a good tour means an even more stellar finale.

Baby Teeth, Robbers on High Street and The Redwalls ended their east coast tour in Madison, much to the audience's confusion. Not only did Madison seem a geographically incorrect ending for an east coast tour, but High Noon Saloon seemed a bit underwhelming for a band that has twice played Lollapalooza and opened for Oasis. Of course, ever since the Redwalls were dropped from Capitol records following their merger with Virgin, low-profile gigs have become a bit more common.

Baby Teeth started off the show with a sampling of new and old, switching between 70's style AOR-pop and dance-rock influences. With lead singer Abraham Levitan
(or Pearly Sweets, as he used to call himself) pivoting to the sound of his own prog-rock piano. The 70's pop inclination prevails with flourishes of three part harmonies, but is ripped out of convention with switching styles, mid-song tempo changes and tendencies to spin-off into prog-rock meditations. Songs off the latest album, "The Simp" were most represented here, with the danceable, but still over-the-top, "Swim Team" getting the best reception. "Diaghalev was Right" was another unusually bright spot in the show, with it's bastardized rockabilly refrain working well with against the obscure reference. The band did what is hardest for an opening band to do: get people to dance on an empty floor. The music was silly enough at times to warrant inching into the spotlight.

It's hard to pin down the band's musical style when they jumped around so much. Afterwards, I talked to Levitan about their approach. He said they started out trying to do a modern rendition of 70's era Hall and Oates, but tried a bit more of an experimental approach on their last album, where each band member wrote a song with the same title "Heather" and came together without anyone else in the band knowing what the other was crafting. The current album is an mixture of both those approaches. Levitan said he was a bit sleep deprived from the tour, but was planning on delaying rest a little further until Sunday night, as he planned on attending the last day of Pitchfork.

Robbers on High Street took the stage, attempting to follow up the diverse Baby Teeth but instead serve the purpose of tiding over the audience with Redwalls-lite. They were certainly not as pop-blues as Redwalls, channeling something closer to 60's era pop on songs like "Crown Victoria". However, songs like "The Fatalist" broke out of the 60's spin and moved with far more staccato guitar chops as to make it a candidate for an indie song best suited on a Spoon album. The instrumentation certainly should be nuanced to catch in the midst of a small crowd, as became obvious during a jam session when Jarvis Cocker lookalike Morgan King took out his trumpet only to fumble the first few notes.

Most of the audience wasn't concerned with Robbers on High Street. A young couple spent the entire show dancing in front of the band with drinks in hand and swinging them around to give everyone a taste. The spectacle of drunken dancing/groping forced upon a cringing audience was enough to distract from the show onstage.

The best was yet to come, however. Once the Baren brothers made their way to the stage, patrons filled the front of the stage with adoring looks. Justin Baren gave the audience similar smiles and winks, placing his bass as close to one starstruck fan girl's face as possible. His dapper three-piece suit was saturated with cologne intoxicating enough to draw in the most uninterested of spectators.

Enough about Justin's pheromones, though. The set mixed enough of the old favorites such as "Thank You" and "Build a Bridge" with new material off their upcoming LP to be released in October.

The new material sounds tighter and more refined than their previous efforts. "Modern Diet" acknowledges their British Invasion roots with a chorus that affirms it: "They say it's all been done before." It may have been, but the Redwalls are locked in such a perfectly layered pop-groove that who could notice?
Some songs definitely sound influenced by New York garage rock but they never subside into minimalist guitar instrumentation. "Put Us Down" has very much the steady guitar and metronome drumming of a Strokes song like "Last Nite," but the vocals are still Beatles-esque enough to keep it on the European end of the Atlantic Ocean rather than the American side.

Despite that slight difference in style, the Redwalls may have started to turn their style into something far less meandering than what they created on Universal Blues or De Nova. "In the Time of Machines" marches on with an instrumental precision unseen by the band, all while the drums and guitar kick into overdrive as Baren proclaims "All they want is you!" Certainly, there is a lot more metaphor and 50s futuristic leanings here as "They Are Among Us" shimmied and shook to what sounded like a soundtrack for a surf rock alien invasion. Yet, it never sounded like a joke, as the camp nature of the song was trumped by the urgency in Baren's vocals and guitar work.

By the time Build a Bridge came along, the audience was theirs. They came out for a three song encore which included a pleasantly surprising cover of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle, followed by Thank You and Deep in the Heart.

to celebrate the end of this tour, Robbers on High Street (except for the lead singer) joined the Redwalls on stage for the encore, playing whatever they could find (as you can see in these pictures). While it may be uncertainty here on out for the Redwalls - given their tentative release of the new LP - tonight, they seamlessly blended their old favorites with new hits in a successful and energetic end to their tour.

Redwalls Setlist:
Love Her
Back Together
Put Us Down
What a Shame
Edge of the Night
Don't you Wanna Come Out
Game of Love
Song 1#
On My Way
They Are Among Us
Falling Down
Modern Diet
Build a Bridge
In the Time of Machines
Bizarre Love Triangle
Thank You
Deep in the Heart

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday Night Terrace Review: Twilight Sad w/ Unwed Sailor

After such an enthusiastic crowd on Thursday, things got quite tame early on Friday. Behind the beat always brings in a tame crowd and Friday was no exception. Tim Whalen came by and played jazz. No biggie. No one in the crowd seemed really ready to rock after last night and it extended throughout the night.

I met both bands out in the parking lot, but found their respective managers blocking access to both of them, especially the Twilight Sad. When I told them their sound checks, I said they'd have to be speedy if they wanted to finish by midnight. The manager gave a bit of roll of the eyes. "Oh, no, that won't be a problem. Both these guys have about 40 minute sets."
In fact, the shows barely made it past 11:00.

Not to say each was without merit. Unwed Sailor is kind of a low-budget Explosions in the Sky. Many of their songs were atmospheric guitar-based noodlings, except with the appropriate drum work to drive each composition. It was a minimalist band that might have been more suited for an extra-special edition of behind the beat, as the crowd didn't seem all that enthused. Talking to Jamie from Intellasound, he seemed to like the sound but said, "I'm just not sure these guys could hold my interest for long." All the band could talk about was "how beautiful this is. It's the perfect background to a wonderful night." I love it when bands remark on the beauty of our terrace, as if the patrons were either too drunk or tired to notice.

While Unwed Sailor provided some light relief, but such light post-rock musings were far and few between for the Twilight Sad. Stopping in Madison right before their set at the Pitchfork Festival, the group use that soft-loud convention all too well. While thunderous multi-effect bass work of Craig Orzel and swirling feedback guitar of Andy McFarlane combined to shake the terrace to it's core with a -slightly melodic white noise, it would reach it's peak of effectiveness right when disappating into the soft comforting Scottish accent of James Graham. For me, the sound worked. Especially during their body shaking performance of "Talking with Fireworks/Here, it Never Snowed", when Graham knelt down to help smash against the Mark Devine's drumset in a cacophany of white noise set to powerful war-time drums.

The crowd wasn't impressed, though. During the beginning of the set, several friends I sat with got far too drunk and started shouting "Go back to Scotland" and "Freedom!" at Graham, which ellicited some perturbed looks from him. Other people at my table started to stare in disbelief during the "Talking with Fireworks" as if someone had just dumped beer on their clothes.

Some of those looks were also the result of Graham's stage prescence, which is to say, he doesn't have one. Throughout the entire show, Graham gave the audience a 1/4 profile and often turned his back completely, only socializing to introduce the band and end a song with "cheers." He was active in other portions of the show, especially to take his microphone and point it directly at the amp for another brand of pulsating feedback. However, for the great portion of the show, he was uninterested.

That isn't to say the sound wasn't there, it was. Some ladies actually went up to the sound board and blamed Intellasound for the mix - let me tell you right now, what you got was the best approximation of their album you could find at an open air venue.

Afterwards, I jumped up on stage to say my thanks to the band for their wonderful show, but I did have to ask Bassist Orzel something:

"Why does the lead singer turn his back to the audience the whole show?"

Orzel: "Well, any answer I give you is going to be kind of a laugh. I suppose it's to shield himself from the harsh gaze of onlookers, that imposing audience. Also, the lead singer of Waco (????) does that and he has a hard on for those guys."

At that point, the "Hoochies" as referred to in the Isthmus review of the show, made their way to the front of the stage and asked Orzel why they played so loud, because "you don't know how to get people to love you if you play that loud."

Orzel: "Well, we normally play small indoors venue with small ceilings, so when we play that loud it usually (shakes violently) shakes it through their bodies. It's fucking awesome."

Hoochie: Yeah, well, we were shaking up at the sound booth too! Until that one guy (pointing to their tour manager) told us to fuck off! That's not the way to get people to fall in love with you! Don't you want girls flashing you, lifting their tops for you?

Orzel: Well, you're right here so..(mocks a shirt lift.)

After that, I thanked the other band members, gave the manager their check and wished them luck at Pitchfork, as they had to get to Chicago in three hours. Might be why they played such a short show (only about a half an hour). Even if the audience wasn't impressed, I thought it worked.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday Night Review: Awesome Car Funmaker with Cealed Kasket

In a stunning display of the diversity of audiences the Union Terrace can draw, Cork and Bottle String Band played their brand of Midwest bluegrass while the number of paper crown wearing, enthusiastic metal fans increased. "That's one hell of a mixture, isn't it?" one member said to me. "Bluegrass, then metal."

Except these fans weren't all metal fans. Some were just fans of comedic musical theatre. Not everyone there knew what Cealed Kasket was all about.

Around the set break, members of both bands arrived in a few cars with their backseats packed full of the standard materials for set-up: Guitar, Bass, Drums, fog machines, plastic swords, extra burger king crowns and an extra helping of wigs and makeup. They came looking for me. In a casual, unassuming and friendly manner, they gave me a few hand shakes and took off in search of Shwarma, although they came back with a disappointing substitute of Jimmy John's.

Certainly, band members with such a happy go-lucky nature couldn't be that volatile or insane on stage, could they? The man who shook my hand with a good natured grin couldn't turn into a blood-drinking, devil-worshipping, heavy metal monster in less than two hours, could he?

Sure he could. If he's a good actor. And theatrics was certainly the name of the game.

Awesome Car Funmaker was up first , although they took enough time getting there. The band showed a 7-minute recast of Scooby-Doo with ACF (quite similar to this video) in the role of those "meddling kids" and Cealed Kasket as the oft-uncovered "ghost." It was humorous in as much as it was cheesy and poorly produced (and the band knows it), but it did cause some groans when the bass of the movie's music shook the terrace every now and then.

Groans turned to cheering when finally ACF took the stage.

For those who have Awesome Car Funmaker enough times, the novelty seemed only to delay the main attraction. However, the vast majority went right to the front to partake in the pop-metal leanings of this band of Madison regulars. On studio recording, they sound like any other band of pop-rock purveyors with a sense of humor, such as OK Go. Their live sound is far more electric and comes off with more nods to over-the-top hard rock than a studio recording would suggest.
Their onstage personality comes close to that of the Hives - the band constantly trumpets their own name as if they were from the great nation of Awesome Car Funmaker, rather than just a band. Guitarist and Bassist leap between the stage with the agility and grace of ballet dancers during the start to their set. Needless to say, they have more energy to wear out a hyperactive child in minutes.

In this lovely picture, lead singer Ryan Corcoran explains to the audience, "In metal, this means "I love you." During over moments of crowd participation, ACF went into the audience with every mobile instrument possible during solos.

Even Brendan McCarty got into the act, as he makes his way through adoring fans while playing his miniature keyboard.

After an extra-suspenseful version of "Dirty" (made even more exciting by Bassist Justin Taylor getting his duct tape-covered nipples pinched several times and Corcoran seemingly humping the amp to coax enough feedback out of it) McCarty took front stage as ACF launched into a spirited and over-the-top cover of "Enter Sandman." The band ended their set by collapsing to the ground in a pile.
An opener with that much energy needs an appropriate act to fit the bill, and who more inappropriate than Cealed Kasket?

There is only so much that can be explained in mortal words to describe this behemoth from "Bristol,England", so I invite you to explore for yourself at their myspace, which should get you caught up on who's mortal, who's a wizard and why you should "Drink and Drive."

They started their set by assailing the audience, as they usually do, and launched into "Break the Rules."

That they did, by being the best comedy act the Terrace has seen since they last came here, a year ago. With songs like "Sex Stained Lady," "Death Train" (with the wonderful chorus "the wheels on the train go, round and round, all the live long day)and "Sarsicus" - the tribute to their blistering wizard/guitarist of the same stage name - even a couple about the age of 45 were standing back laughing. Although the wife looked somewhat appalled, the husband went back into the fray, grey three-piece suit and all.

As this picture can attest, I've never seen so much crowd-surfing at the Terrace. This kid nearly hit his head on the stage lights. He certainly tried hanging from them enough times.

The high-point of the show came during "Backstage Slutting," where every female in a 40-foot radius made their way up on to the stage. This may have been the biggest onstage grind Madison has seen since Girl Talk came to town. However, whereas that one was inspired by beats hot enough to bring out the lustful side of a nun, this movement was inspired by pure drunken revelry. The beginning started with the men shouting "Penis" and the women shouting "vagina." It then turned into some really effective crowd participation. Here is some short, blurry, but entertaining video:

They then ended the song by shouting, "What are you doing? Get these ugly sluts off the fucking stage!"

The abuse is all part of the show, of course. Gold team won, whatever that means, after a point accumulation that included this stipulation: "How many members of the Gold team...are fucking members of the brown team?" A large hurrah went up from much of the crowd. Not that many responded when the brown team was commanded to throw panties on the stage. (although I did see a bra hanging from the lighting.)

My favorite part of the night had to be the song, "Chivalry and Honor" which started out in that seemingly normal refrain, but then sped into a decadent and silly chant of "Sex sex sex sex sex sex!" It then spun into an interlude that included brief metal covers of "Get Low" and "I Believe I Can Fly" with the substitution of the typical metal snarl: "I believe I can fly, I believe I can FUCK the sky!" An epic metal comedy if I've ever heard one.

The set ended after multiple false endings that got similar laughs, a "galloping" rendition of horse, that seemed to be accompanied by coconut shells of death and a final assault on the audience: "Fuck you! Buy Our Shit! Fuck You! Go to Hell!" With that, the band termed a "low-budget GWAR" left the stage, shouting curses at their fans and fans responding likewise.

Although WUD is often criticized for bringing back the same acts time and time again, you can't really argue with this move. AFC and Cealed Kasket are a sure bet for a beer-drinking crowd that needs some serious incentive to get on it's feet. Therefore, while we may have changes in our Union Terrace from year to year, save a seat and a few hundred plastic swords for ACF and Cealed Kasket, as this musical card has been knighted - as a new Madison tradition.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Budget Clarification - Please, correct this if you could.

I read Mike Hahn's post about the budget cuts and how the Assembly Republicans didn't actually cut anything. Sure, they only "reduced" the Senate's funding.

However, let's be clear - they did STILL cut the UW system's budget.

My point of clarification is this:
As far as I can tell, when looking at the Republican budget...

Delete=reduction from JFC budget.
Reduce=cut from the base.

Is this correct, or am I missing some other terminology?

Radiohead Album...finally?

Lord knows I'm a huge fan of Radiohead. While I don't profess to having a lock of Thom's beard or Jonny's arm brace, I'd consider myself a huge fan. However, they've been angering me recently. Mainly, because of posts like this on the band's website:

things are quiet here right now.

we are unable to explain.

nothing can be revealed.

we have not disappeared.

merely become invisible.

for a short time. we may be hiding in the woods.

meanwhile thebigask has set up an online video march
to hastle the government to commit to cutting our CO2.
which is a good idea i think. and you can post your own message.
so i'll have to do that. once i've found me camera.

Thanks Thom. I'm sure we can expect an album as soon climate change is vanquished, which, we'll all get on right away.
I don't have qualms with the causes they advocate - ok, scratch that, I can't stand the fair trade ads Thom did, nor can I stand his support of PETA. I'm a social liberal when it comes to humans, but I eat meat, often when listening to music. So when I have to think of Thom Yorke's twitching eye guilting me into putting down my chicken burrito, I get sick. Although, that might be due to my choice of burrito eatery. (Qdoba.)

The point is: Radiohead has finished mixing their 7th album and is in New York mastering it. One would hope for a speedy late August release, right? No. Remember kids, Radiohead is finished with EMI. Their contract finished after the completion of Hail to the Thief (and probably, more accurately, after the release of the Com Lag EP). So, it may be awhile. It might be November or later.

You're killing me guys. Especially if your live recordings carry over into the studio. If you haven't heard them, 15 Step shows promise, but the rest of it is fairly guitar based and....well, I don't know. I don't mind that, but I'm weary. Very weary.

But honestly, you spend three years on your follow up, it has to be good. right?


It's Thursday - Let the music begin!

Round up of the music I'll be covering this weekend:

Thursday: The Terrace has Awesome Car Funmaker and Cealed Casket.
Friday: The Terrace once again with The Twilight Sad, coming all the way from Glasgow, Scotland.
Saturday: The Redwalls come to High Noon Saloon.

Pictures and reviews to follow (as I have a cord for this camera now.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Republican Budget - UW Cuts!

It's already late, so I'll start with UW-System changes:

1. Cut $96 million of GPR funding from UW-System.
2. $8 million less for Public Radio and Television at UW-Extension
3. Delete increases to Lawton retention grants and Advanced Opportunity Grants, around $5.5 million less than JFC
4. Cap tuition and nonallocable fees increases at 4 percent, per year until 2011. My favorite part about this provision is the stipulation regarding Segregated Fees: they can only be raised past 4 percent if the student body holds a referendum stating what the increase is for, how much it will cost and - my personal favorite - if more than 10 percent of the student body votes for it.

As much as I love the idea of the student body actually having to come out and vote for something, I think 10 percent is a little low. We should be able to get that number a little higher, especially if we ever figure out how to fix our online voting system that failed us twice. A paper trail would be nice, but come on, it's a university-wide vote. The paper ballot was not promising.

7. Cut Faculty Retention program from $10 to $6 million
8. Eliminate Certain Administrative Positions - $6.3 million reduction - Alright, fair enough. But...
9. Reduce funding for UW Law School by $4 million?

It goes on like this! So many cuts with so little wiggle room. You cut aid, you cut programs and you cut funding for faculty retention. Since you also put a cap on tuition increases, there is only so much the UW System can do to make up these losses. Through a budget like this, you assure that the UW system slouches into last place and becomes the laughing stock of the nation. The Wisconsin Idea doesn't work if you don't fund it.

I would go into this more now, but I need sleep. We'll discuss this tomorrow on the radio show.


New Music Tuesday - Part II: Interpol

When bands change their sound, even slightly, separate camps will form to defend each side.
Old or new Beatles?
Joy Division or New Order?
Stones Roses or Second Coming (ok, so that one's not really a debate.)
for Interpol fans, the lines are already set:
Antics or Turn on the Bright Lights?

Why is this a debate? Is a change from atmospheric post-punk to a slightly cleaner rockier post-punk really a leap in musical philosophy? Something Awful's characterization was a favorite:
they no longer sound like they're ripping off Joy Division. In songs like "Slow Hands" and "Length of Love," it is apparent that they've now taken the great artistic leap of ripping off bands that ripped off Joy Division...

With all seriousness, Interpol has always had the same basic sound, just slightly tweaked from album to album. Our Love to Admire is yet another puff into the same balloon: They cover more surface area, but it's coming from the same mouth. Not necessarily a bad thing, if you like the mouth it's coming from. Paul Banks' vocal delivery is certainly what I'd call a good thing.

"Pioneer to the Falls" thankfully replaces "Next Exit" as an album opener. Gone is the cringe-worthy organ. A few tender piano keys set a tender opening which slowly builds into Interpol's trademark simplistic, but atmospheric guitar picking. Paul Bank's trademark gloom is made all the more evident during an acapella interlude: "Show me the dirt pile and I will pray that the soul can take three stowaways." The isolating lyrics are mitigated by a haunting mixture of piano, guitar and a somewhat distant sounding herald trumpet.

The whole album sounds a bit closer to Turn on the Bright Lites in production and overall effectiveness, so that's certainly a plus. "There's No I in Threesome" pounds with pleading and intensity throughout with bright piano and ghostly string like noises surround the production. More importantly, Banks sounds more heartfelt than ever during his almost tearful pleas, "Babe, it's time we gave something new a try/ though alone we may fight, so just let us be free tonight." It'd sound almost touching, if it wasn't about adding a little spice into the bedroom.

The band has it's glimpses of single appeasement, such as with "Heinrich Maneuver," and almost processed single, that sounds a bit out of place amidst the eerie whirring and howls that accompany the rest of the album, but as a driving single, it's quite effective.

"All Fired Up" hands us a precise rhythm to march to and attitude to match. As does "Mammoth" which uses a large bell to punctuate the beginning, middle and end of this "Lengths of Love" imitator. However, it certainly is more intense than "Lengths." Just as Banks asks "Just spare me the suspense," the song enters a calm introspective pause that seems to pain Banks even more. The song has more emotional highs than anything on "Antics," helped along by Banks' soaring, yet aching vocals.

However, for the rest of the album, the pulsating post-punk rock of songs like "PDA" and "Slow Hands" have given way to something a bit more detached and meandering.

Banks performance is far more versatile. While his Ian Curtis impression is always appreciated by goth rockers everywhere, the over-enunciated force with which Paul Banks seems to rip every word violently from his vocal chords subsides somewhat here. Whereas usually sounds close to spontaneous combustion when straining for notes, he often sings with affected vocals, lending a little more humanity to his normally demanding caterwaul. On "Wrecking Ball", Banks weaves his words through a chanting background, while reducing his representation to mere footnotes beneath a quickly fading orchestra, hinting at Interpol's first love, classical music.

"Lighthouse" isn't the best closer, however. It's an uncertain ending. The roughly strummed guitars and accompanying instruments come in and out, as if matching the rise and fall of the tide. Banks simply ponders with little urgency: "What do the waves have to say now?" Eventually the Doppler-style instrumentals cascade into brief, but triumphant wall of sound, before eventually dying off with little other fanfare. It's an experimental route to take, but promising, considering their soon-to-be tiresome calling card so far.

In short - this album is closer to Turn on the Bright Lights than Antics. Antics stripped down the sound and lost most of the passion that Interpol played with. Here, we have the passion, but much the same music procedure as on the last two albums. It may be somewhat of a retread, but one that at least satisfies more than a taste of their former glory.

Monday, July 9, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Spoon

The second I mentioned the new Spoon album, my friend Mary laughed and pulled out the pitchfork quote everyone has used: "They're just the poor man's Billy Joel." Despite the infectious wit and self-indulgent puffery of Pitchfork, I disagreed. With "The Way We Get By," I disagreed. With "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine." Even when a Jaguar ad featured "I Turn My Camera On," I stood by the musical integrity of Britt Daniels and crew, if only for "Girls Can Tell."

I could never understand the derision. When Spoon released Telefono, they were looked at as the heir to the Pixies' mantle. Mention that connection today and you'll get spit on. Nothing of their earlier, rougher sound survives after "A Series of Sneaks." Once Elektra dropped them from their label, they turned towards the pop rock drawing board and charted their way into every indie kid's play list, if only a few songs at a time.

However, their validity in the indie world has been challenged from time to time, especially with "Gimme Fiction" and the mid-album dive into throw away rock like "Sister Jack." The album starts out with a sharp bite, and ends with corked teeth. For such reasons, the indie music community looks at an album title like ga ga ga ga ga and stands ready to pounce. Well, I can only hope Pitchfork isn't that imposing. After all, the hailed an group of Ace of Base knock-offs as having the best album of the year. Give me a break.

Thankfully, after Ga ga ga ga ga, I feel justified in my defense.

"Don't Make me a Target" checks in with the basics - guitar, bass and drums - before slowly intensifying. Daniel's spits lyrics that suspiciously sound aimed at the Bush administration. If they aren't, they're at least appropriate.
Here come a man from the stars/ we don't know why he goes so far/ keeps on marching along, beating his drum ... When you reach back in his mind/ feels like he's breaking the law/ there's something back there he's got that nobody knows. He never claimed to say what he says/ smells like the insides of closets and stairs, the kind where nobody goes.
If that didn't solidify the point, Daniel's quickly follows his under-the-breath condemnations with a pointed demand: "Don't Make me a Target." While this sort of lyrical unrest continues throughout the album, the instrumentation and rhythm changes from song to song.

From this sinister strut, Daniels throws us violently into "The Ghost of you Lingers," a desperate pounding of piano chords, off key at first, then taking flight with Daniels vocals, who has applied so much reverb as to suggest he recorded the vocals out of his own body. Daniels sings as a man torn asunder, with multiple voices pleading for restoration. It's an ethereal track, and stands in stark contrast to the pop instrumentation of the rest of this album. However, the lyrics follow a theme of frustration and division.

"You've Got Yr Cherry Bomb" throws another curve, invoking 60's style pop (the chimes at the beginning almost reminded me of Motown) and an upbeat driving beat complete with horns and bubblegum intentions.

The roller coaster of moods continues as "Don't you Evah" and "Rhthm and Soul" set a steady beat and groove. This sounds like a safe and familiar territory, until descending into "Eddie's Ragga." Here, Daniels laments his tortured relationship with a lover, going back between wide-eyed contentment and isolation. The sinister bass work peering from behind the occasional stabs of guitar enhances Daniel's despondent and resigned lyrics.

"The Underdog" almost seems triumphant in comparison, with a the fierce acoustic strumming explodes into a blossoming of trumpets, as if spring has broken free from winter. Yet, this isn't a rousing anthem, but a warning regarding not heeding warnings: "But you won't hear from the messenger/don't want to know about something that you don't understand/you have no fear of the underdog/that's why you will not survive." It can be taken as a shot toward Bush, toward Elektra, perhaps toward the music industry. Whoever the target, it still cuts deep. Needless to say, it's an expertly crafted pop song with a clear message, something lacking in pop songs, in general.

The album's last three are just as solid tunes, but nothing groundbreaking. "Finer Feelings" laments over true love and commercial appeal with a welcome re-entry of light distortion and a steady-beat (although there is a brief interlude in the song that seems unnecessary). "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" remains brief and to the point, with flourishes of zithers and piano trills.

By the time "Black Like Me" roles around, Daniel's asks his departing audience for someone to take care of him tonight. It will have seemed too quick. Daniel's may have lashed out at everyone around him, beat himself up and lamented his position, but he's already looking for recovery. What's more, you might be hitting replay, as the album blasts by in only 36 minutes and ends with abrupt silence.

Not a second is wasted, not a track is filler. Certainly, Spoon only needed that much time to prove they're a few steps above Gimme Fiction. Or "Uptown Girl," for that matter.


Interpol, later today.

It's been awhile...

But I will update, as soon as I can upload some photos I've taken in the last week. If anyone in the Madison area has a USB cord that connects to a sony cybershot, It might be helpful.

Body Found in Oregon, WI.

Cap Times says it was in relation to the Kelly Nolan investigation. The family was there during the search, but left before the body was found. There is going to be a news conference at 2pm regarding the find. Keep some close eyes on this one.

As for the whole foul play take, I agree with Critical Badger, It's hard not to suspect foul play when some man came to take Nolan home from the cafe worker who originally was walking her home. Still, I guess this case is "wait-and-see."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Anglophiles Anonymous - 7/6/07 - The Punk Show!

You can listen to the show at this link and download it here. We had a great deal of kids in the studio again, but someone complained about during the sports show before me, so they didn't appear on mine, unfortunately. Nice kids though.
1. The Sex Pistols
2. The Jam - In the City
3. The Clash - White Riot
4. Sham 69 - Cockney Kids are Innocent
5. Wire - Surgeon's Girl
6. The Stranglers - Somethings Better Change
7. Buzzcocks - Promises (Live)
8. Generation X - Ready, Steady Go
9. Elastica - Annie
10. Joy Division (as Warsaw) - Warsaw
11. The Fall - Industrial Estate
12. Gang of Four - Ether
13. Elvis Costello - Radio Radio
14. Magazine - Shot by Both Sides
15. The Adverts - One Chord Wonders
16. Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
17. The Slits - Love and Marriage
18. Mekons - Where were you?
19. Wire - Two People in a Room
20. The Clash - Clampdown

Grime next weekend? We'll see.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The 4th, the dispute. A rant.

I saw this post on Erik Opsal's blog this morning and the resulting fallout and I just had to add my two cents to the debate. Rather, I add this RANT.

Whenever I hear people talking about freedom, I feel sick to my stomach. Not because I am - as some would say - a "godless communist", but because I know that those who talk about freedom speak in different connotations. We've reduced liberty to a series of visuals in hopes of unifying our understanding. It never really works.

With this debate over the health care issue, the crushing reality of multiple meanings comes to divide us again. Liberals talk about the 10 percent of Wisconsin without health care, Conservatives talk about the overwhelming financial burden on the rest of us. Each one claims the mantle of true American liberty. Both have flaws in their argument.

Erik, despite his claim, is incorrect about the conservative definition of freedom. It is as far from narrow as possible to see. Certainly, the idea of freedom may bring up images wild masses streaming throughout vast idyllic landscape, but the idea is far from the reality. Mike could certainly explain his definition with eloquence and logic, as do many conservatives I know.

What Erik is targeting are those who subscribe to the conservative agenda without really understanding or abiding by it. There are many (neo-cons, the current administration, uneducated hawks) who may follow this path, but I doubt writing an open letter to conservatives decrying their defnition of freedom is a sensible choice.

But on the health care issue, I side against Mike.
This line caught me in Mike response:
If we want to be technical, no one has the right to medical treatment. That may sound mean, but it's true. Don't forget that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Here's my idea for a universal health care system: The patients are free to see whatever doctors they want by paying money to the doctors when they see them. Doctors and other health care providers are similarly free to accept patients based on the patient's willingness to pay for such care. It's called 'capitalism'.

Except for two problems:
1) The ideal system of Capitalism is a far cry from what we have now come to face with. Ideally, capitalism would entirely benefit the consumer because the increase in competetion would eventually level out to zero profit for no companies and the best deal for consumers. As that would make very little money or incentive for more corportations to enter the fray, it turns in a very wicked way that leaves an oligarchy of profit-maxmizing companies to strip the consumer of that low cost (unless you're Walmart and just screw everyone else over instead.) Insurance companies are certainly some of the biggest purveyors of greed in our system. They benefit from capitalism, the patient suffers.
2) We have no right to health care, but we do have a right to life, do we not? If medical treatment is the best way to guarantee us life, shouldn't we make it available to all?

Ahh, but the financial burden. We can't simply force 90 percent of Wisconsin to pay for 10 percent that represent uninsured Wisconsin! It's not my problem, I shouldn't have to pay for it. If that's not a restriction on our freedoms, then I don't know what is!

For all the talk of Independence, freedom sure gets a lot of play. No one thinks about that other half of the equation. The one that we honor with silence and brevity, no fanfare but "Taps."


The countless Americans who went into World War II placed themselves in the line of almost certain death. A sacrifice of the minority of the US for the majority. What did the majority back home do? They rationed. They switched production to the war effort. They did everything in their power to support their boys.
The majority sacrificed for the minority.

We can sacrifice for the minority, can't we? They may not be at war, but if they are without health care, aren't they already on the front lines? They ask for the right to live and it costs employees a 4 percent tax on and 10 percent tax on our employers. We are going to deny that 10 percent their right to life simply because we don't want to give up any more money? When you take into consideration the possible savings to be had from this plan, it's not even a true loss, it's a change in the way we pay. After all, we're still getting coverage out of this deal.

But, we are stubborn. Why? Democracy. Capitalism. Freedom. These have rigid definitions in our minds and altering them would cause a collapse to our way of life. Universal Health Care must be a rejection of all of those things. As such, it cannot pass. The ideals must stand.

We have these ideals, but we're always modifying them. We've always attempted to perfect our ideals, but often arguments for the "right way" choke off our decisions. The oxygen-starved brain that is government freezes because of our own political paralysis.

Only recognition of the need for flexibility will end such stagnation. We may live under the banner of everlasting freedom, proclaim the rule of democracy and run ourselves as a republic, but we blot out the underlying method behind our actions.
We - this country, these citizens and our way of life - are an experiment. Nothing is made in stone.

Democracy is our aim, but the people's rule is far from absolute. We admit to a republic, but our history in foreign lands has always hinted at imperialism.
We strive for freedom, but must confess our rights are subject to security limitations and moral imperatives.

The United States is, just like a scientific experiment, an explosive and ever-changing process. Our conclusions always result in more questions and problems. However, we must stop running the same experiments over and over in hopes we get new results each time.

A new hypothesis must be tested. If it fails, then we try a different one. Lives may be lost, people may lose things along the way. Unfortunately, they're losing those things anyway as we stand idly by. So why not try a different approach?

This may be quite a grand statement for a thing as specific as health care, but it is done for a reason. If this is an experiment, then we are the scientists. We must be ruled by logic and reason, not personal attacks, political spectrum and empty rhetoric. We have a duty to work toward progress.

Therefore, we cannot sit here asking each other the same questions on these matters. We cannot bicker about the conservative or liberal conception of freedom. We have done this before and come out with very few answers. Instead, we must choose one unified direction and act. When we come to a conclusion, evaluation of success and failure will be taken. Then, we can try a different direction. Eventually we'll find the correct path.

Health Care is a test. Democrats have chosen the direction. I suggest we test this new hypothesis. I'm not saying it's fool-proof, I'm not saying it will solve everything. I'm just saying it is worth a test.

After all, we have the freedom to test, don't we?

Happy 4th, everyone.

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's official...

The Badger Herald Editorial Board presents...

The return of Muckrakers on WSUM 91.7 FM!

Starting July 11 at 8pm, come listen to the Herald take the spin out of the news with roundtable discussion from the Herald Editorial Board.

Call-Ins and questions are welcomed. It's sort of a summer experiment, so input and listeners would be nice.

Blogger Aggregate? How about a news hub?

Today, Dorshorst and Critical Badger mentioned the idea of a Madison wide-blog aggregate where people can submit stories and posts to this aggregate, much in the same way Post does.
Well, let me tell you how ecstatic I am to hear of organization attempts coming to the forefront. But, don't simply make it a forum.

I feel that there would be no better way for free-lance journalists (whether they are up-and-coming J-school students or inquisitive citizens) to put their findings to Madison. In fact, it might be beneficial to create an blogging hub for Madison and work with the J-school to add the element of real-world publishing to student journalism. I know that many students write class assignments with the idea that they'll never be published. Give them the publishing outlet and they'll make sure the quality is a step ahead of what they produce now.

Yes, the papers could compete with each other more effectively, but so could citizen journalists and students being groomed by the J-school.

However, it's not just about news. I have some interesting ideas on musical innovation that could also be applied to the blogosphere. (something I'd like to discuss with bloggers and musicians together, if possible.)

I say, let us not regard this grand vision as a monolith in the far distance. Let's make it reality. and let's start this week.