Thursday, October 16, 2008

Of Things Remembered

Currently pumping some old tune into my noggin. Best form of therapy when recovering from an allergy attack that left me wasted for three days. And this finally shows up in the mail: Earphoria by the Smashing Pumpkins. Earphoria is an anomaly of Pumpkin releases. It isn't a best of, it was released just after Siamese Dream and before the same album made them Smashing Pumpkins. What is it then? Pieces Iscariot was their b-sides collection (albeit incomplete) so this isn't that either. I think Earphoria then was just a one-off, screwing around in the studio affair that came along with a video of the band.
For the longest time I had a bootleg copy with the expected messed up track listing, badly photocopied liner notes and mediocre sound quality. I suppose I should thank Billy Corgan for being so full of himself and greedy that he would allow Virgin Records to put out a new release. It's a fantastic record of the band at that moment right before fame when they didn't care about their image so much (or at least Corgan didn't) and drugs hadn't consumed the drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. It's mostly live recordings from various places across the globe (such as the only live recording of Slunk that I know of, made in Japan of course). There's also a smattering of strange songs like Bugg Superstar by lead guitarist James Iha that could have hearlded a new direction in music at the time. Along with that are random things like Pulsczar and French Movie Theme that seem to come from nowhere and Why Am I So Tired? that just goes nowhere. To top it off, there's probably the best live rendition of Silverfuck that I've heard including the opening riff of the never-completed Jackboot at the end.
Earphoria is an album that reminds you why the Pumpkins were so good, even if it also reminds you of what the Pumpkins became afterwards. Still, this is high school and college for me, starting fifteen years ago. It's wonderful warmth and exuberance for my soul. Even if you vowed never to buy a Pumpkins records, pick this up.

On Point, Off Guard

Here's one thing I don't get about last night's debate reactions: the whole "winning on points" part. This probably has to do with my complete lack of knowledge in formal debating but I find that argument kinda flimsy in a lot of ways. It's a bit of a mug's game since, to my eyes, it relies on how logical your arguments are and how coherently that logic is passed. To say someone has won a debate on points is like saying a F1 driver beat another, not because they came in first, but because the car had the fastest speed (which is also why I have problems with American muscle cars that are fantastic in a straight line but meet epic fail when trying to corner). A debate is won on more than just how logical your argument is. There's also the persuasiveness of your argument and logic, just like horsepower, alone do not make an argument persuasive.
To push the F1 analogy a little further, the driver who wins the last race isn't necessarily the driver who wins the championship. It's about how well a driver and car have done over the course of a number of races. It's about the long game. Winning the final debate doesn't change that unless you were just a little behind or already winning. Barring chucking it at 180mph into the wall, you'd have to have a series of amazing losses to fall behind. Once you're ahead just keeping the same pace should make taking the cup look easy. You won't have to win every race, although you will have to place well in most races. Other than that, winning on points doesn't matter if you're too far behind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To Do and Die

Well that's done and finally over. The reactions from around the blogosphere give Sen. Obama the win on visuals and a tie on points. Some of the more conservative bloggers pegged this debate as Sen. McCain's best, but I think it was by far his worst. No, he didn't blow up or give screwy answers. He did, however, let himself look like Sen. Clinton did during her last debate with Sen. Obama: nervous, edgy, and sullen. A terrible combination for an experienced debater but, much like Sen. Clinton, understandable. John McCain had to sit through what will probably end a long career in politics and have that ending handed to him by a freshman senator. For Sen. Clinton, it wasn't a career-ending moment, but for Sen. McCain I think it was. To put it bluntly, he's too old. After his experiences in Vietnam I think this campaign will haunt Sen. McCain for the rest of his days. It's sad, but Sen. McCain let his political ambitions become an anaconda, slowly wrapping around him and squeezing until he had nothing left to give but the few dusty coughs of an independant-cum-culture warrior. And thus ends the baby boomer's hold on national politics. Finally.

I like a funny car

It's raining here and my cat doesn't care. She's got her perch on the window sill where she can sprawl between the window and my diamond grading light. Home sick but on day two of that kick. Still got bits of nasty lung putting me in fits. I think tonight's debate drinking will consist of orange juice, sadly lacking vodka. The politicking blogs are all looking the same these days: poll numbers, commentary on campaigns, economic talk and then the mildly interesting train wrecks of meta talk on all three. The only fun comes from the posts on people who still think Sen. Obama is a Muslim/terrorist/Maoist sleeper agent bred by the Viet Cong to become the last torture of John McCain. The final debate is tonight and hilarity will ensue when Sen. McCain tries that line of attack and Sen. Obama turns into a hydra of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Lincoln and King then proceeds to eat Sen. McCain. Or maybe that's all the cold medicine talking. I should shut up now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Londoners Came to Protest, Americans Came to Chant

I'm beginning to wonder what Londoners will do next to further antagonize city officials. An art instillation made from thousands of CCTV stills form an image of the current British PM Gordon Brown. It's all very V for Vendetta-like (only without the neo-nazi government chasing after the lone anarchist). But this is the kind of existential battle that Camus wrote about in The Rebel. There is always that tension between absolute freedom and absolute justice. Either extreme becomes the snake eating his own tail.
My question is, why haven't American artists started taking this route? I know most major cities haven't gone as far as London in employing CCTVs but some cities like New York and Boston have. Art instillations such at this one are the kind of protest art that I look for. It's not some sweet hippie-styled march, it's the real deal. Protest in America needs to see London's idea of protest and emulate it.