30 May 2007

The Songs of Summer

The summer of 1980. I was preparing for my freshman year in high school (I know, I know...I'm showing my age. Ugh!), President Carter was fighting for his political life against Ted Kennedy on his left and Ronald Reagan on his right, and I was facing the harsh truth about my own sexuality.

My escape? As always, music. And 1980 was filled with some of the best.

Boz Scaggs' "Middle Man" album featured two superb singles that summer. They're both featured here as part of the Songs of Summer series...


"Breakdown Dead Ahead"

29 May 2007

Forgive Me

Call it an Archie Bunker moment but when I saw this commercial on TV my first thought was, "how very true!"

Charles Nelson Reilly, 1931 - 2007

The Tony Award winning actor/director died Friday of complications from pneumonia. He was 76.

Reilly is survived by Patrick Hughes, his partner of more than 25 years.

Check out scenes from his recent one-man show, "The Life of Reilly," here.

28 May 2007

The Songs of Summer

This classic went to # 1 on the Billboard Dance Chart in the summer of 1995, and is largely responsible for introducing this band here in the United States.

Enjoy this Song of Summer ... "Space Cowboy" by Jamiroquai...

27 May 2007

Happy 70th Ol' Girl

The Boys of San Francisco

Roy Mottini is one of those true-blue San Franciscans - a character known for spending his days in the neighborhood cafe, dressed in his $1 thrift-store jackets and well-worn shoes. He recently hit a rough patch, and the San Francisco Chronicle's Heather Knight has the inspiring story of how Mottini's North Beach neighbors came to his rescue.

He is one of the Boys of San Francisco. Read his uplifting story here.

26 May 2007

A Wicked Scent Grand Opening

Our friends Ben & Daryl opened their brand new candle, bath, and body shop in the Castro today. A Wicked Scent is located at 2324 Market Street. It's the perfect place for gift shopping or for picking up a little something with which to spoil yourself.

Pictures of last night's private grand opening are below...

(Photos and A Wicked Scent graphic designs courtesy of Sutton Communications.)

25 May 2007

The Songs of Summer

With the Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer, I begin a new music series called The Songs of Summer. A few times a week I will highlight some of my favorite tunes from summers past.

Let's kick things off with this classic rocker from the summer of 1982. The song spent 22 weeks in the top 40, sixteen of them in the top 10 (it peaked at #2). Back then the singer billed himself as John Cougar.

Enjoy this Song of Summer ..."Hurts So Good" by John Mellencamp.

24 May 2007

Little Miss Chloe

Takin' a breather in her Aunt Janet's backyard!

Ibrahim and Huseyin

The Bush administration's war on terror goes completely haywire and an innocent man is returned to Turkey where he will more than likely face imprisonment - or even death - simply for being a Kurd.

Carol Marin has the heart-wrenching story.


Forgive me if this rant goes a bit in all directions, but...

I wondered how long it would take, once the Democrats took control of both congressional houses, for Keith Olbermann to issue one of his Special Comments against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The answer: Four-and-a-half months.

In last night's essay Olbermann took the Democrats to task for betraying the voters who put them in power last November by capitulating to the President on Iraq War funding and removing withdrawal timelines from the proposed bill.

It's rare when I break with Olbermann on this issue, but I must say...he was a bit too harsh on the Democratic leadership last night. While voters sent a strong message to the President and his Republican Party last November, I don't think it was ever their intent to have the new Congress cut off war funding.

Rather, Americans asked for accountability and oversight. Those two things had been sorely lacking with the previous Republican Congress and as a result the President had been digging the proverbial hole deeper and deeper. With the opposition party now in control, the President needs to be clear about his objectives, his management, and his competence. But defunding the war would surely find the Democrats back in the minority in 2008.

23 May 2007

Mediocrity Takes the Day

Idol: The Final Exam

The two standing "American Idol" contestants, Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, performed their final numbers last night, hoping to be crowned the sixth "American Idol" this evening. My final wrap-up...


Blake ("You Give Love a Bad Name"): In going through the songs he's done previously on the show, I don't know if this is the one I would have chosen. I loved what he did with it and of the three performances last night it was probably his only chance to showcase his beat-boxing one more time, but personally I would have chosen his rendition of Keane's "Somehwere Only We Know." (See it here and you'll know what I mean.)

Jordin ("Fighter"): When you have the limited vocal range she does you don't tackle a Christina Aguilera song. She caterwauled and wailed her way through this tune and the result was horrid.


Blake ("She Will Be Loved"): Great song choice for him; it was perfect for his vocal range. Very nicely done.

Jordin ("On Broken Wing"): She improved a bit on this song from when she sang it on the country show. But again for me, it only highlighted the limits on her vocal range - she can't hit those lower register notes very well. Either way, I think she won the contest with this performance.


The song they were assigned here - some horrid ballad chosen in some sort of songwriters contest - was soooo bad that I can't blame Blake for being so tight lipped about it in his post-performance interview with Ryan Seacrest. You could tell by Blake's demeanor that he hated the song.

Unfortunately it showed in his performance, and that gave the illusion that Jordin slammed it out of the park in her rendition (the little crocodile tears at the end only added more votes to her total, I'm sure).

So, who will win this year's "Idol" title? Easy...Jordin, by at least a 12 percent margin. She wouldn't be my choice. Not by a mile. Melinda Doolittle should have been up there last night, wiping the floor with Blake.

BUT...that said, it doesn't matter who wins tonight. The final four contestants - Kiki, Melinda, Blake, and Jordin - will all have pretty decent careers if they play their cards right. Clay Aiken outsells Rueben Studdard, and both Chris Daughtry and Elliott Yamin have outsold Taylor Hicks. That's not to say that Jordin will disappoint. She's the ultimate in mediocrity, and that's exactly what America loves in its entertainment.

While Jordin will more than likely win the prize tonight, Blake is going to do just fine. In fact, it is my prediction that he will bring a breath of fresh air to the industry, both as a performer and a producer. And Melinda...well...I eagerly await her first album. It's bound to be a stunning display!

At Home and Abroad

While recuperating on the sofa this week, I caught up on some real TV (ie: news and documentaries). Bill Moyers' recent interview with author Bill Bawer caught my attention and really shined the light on the parallels of the rising threat of radical christian fascism here at home and the rising threat of radical islamic fascism abroad.

Freedom and liberty are going to be put to the test as never before over the next decade. Are Europe and the United States ready for the fight? Bawer thinks not.

The fascinating interview can be seen here.

22 May 2007

Fredo's Revenge

The Gonzales hospital visit, in context, on YouTube. (Hat tip, Bailey.)

Turning the Corner

It's been a rough week, but the fever is gone, the chills have evaporated, the body aches on their way out the door; I've turned the corner, so to speak, and the only remaining symptoms of pneumonia seem to be a couple of bruised lungs and the occasional coughing fit. My doc says my body will be on the mend for another few weeks but that the worst seems to be over.

A big hearty "thank you" to those who took the time to drop an email during the last several days. I didn't get to them until this afternoon but appreciate your thoughts very much.

Blogging will be slow over the next few days, but eventually will be back up to pace.


17 May 2007


Left work mid-day on Tuesday feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. After seeing my doc yesterday it turns out I have a small case of pneumonia. I have no idea where it came from but it sure did hit me, out of the blue, like a ton o' bricks.

Lots of fluids, bed rest, and some Zithromax have been ordered. I'm to remain home until Monday.

Little or no blogging between now and then folks. I'll see you on the other end of this.

Melinda Shocker!

We're at the point in "American Idol" where the remaining contestants are going to have solid careers if they play their cards right. And, despite being unexpectedly eliminated on last night's episode, I have a hunch we'll be hearing wonderful things from Melinda Doolittle in the near future.

15 May 2007

Short Break

Blogging will be minimal through about mid-week. I recently accepted an offer to move from contractor status to permanent employee at the company I've been with since July, and the transition is keeping me rather busy.

In the mean time, here is your Song of the Day. My sister recently turned me on to this band. She went to school with them at Illinois State and their fortunes seem to be on the rise.

Take a listen to "Hello" by Bottle of Justus:

14 May 2007

Richardson Ads

These ads capture perfectly the puzzlement of many as to why Gov. Bill Richardson (Democrat-NM) isn't one of the leading candidates for his party's presidential nomination. When it comes to experience none of the other candidates (none!) even come close.

11 May 2007

"I Feel So Good..."

I don't where it came from, but since getting up this morning I've had this 1999 classic disco jam in my head. So I'll make it your Song of the Day...

"Music Sounds Better With You" by Stardust

Tucker & Brad & Mother's Day

I saw this video last year and it cracked me up. I don't have a brother, but for those moms out there with two sons, this one's for you...

Happy "Eat What You Want" Day

It may not be a Federal or highly recognized holiday, but today is "Eat What You Want Day" and, despite Brother Moby's inspirational sermon from last week, I fully intend to celebrate the day by having this ----->
for lunch.


Administration Cover-Up

Once again they're covering Karl Rove's ass.

I'm shocked.

Shocked, I tell you.

10 May 2007

It's Official: Blair Will Step Down On 27 June

As expected, Tony Blair announced today that he is stepping down as leader of Britain's Labour Party and, by extension, as Prime Minister. The resignation will be tendered to the Queen on 27 June.

Over the next seven weeks, Labour Party officials will conduct a leadership election in which Finance Minister Gordon Brown is expected to be elevated to party leader. With their current majority in the House of Commons, Brown will then become Prime Minister upon Blair's departure.

Brown will serve as Prime Minister until the next general election is called.

09 May 2007

Kiki Goes Bye-Bye

"Idol" Re-Cap, 8th of May

Barry Gibb, one of the greatest songwriters and producers in rock history, was the mentor this week. By extention, the contestants had access to one of the best music libraries ever generated. Yet the night fell a bit flat. Here's my recap...


Melinda ("Love You Inside Out"): She started off a bit flat but by the chorus she was making this #1 smash from 1979 her own, and by the end she was giving me chills. Once again she rocked the house.

Blake ("You Should Be Dancing"): The judges were so wrong in their critique of this performance. Blake's falsetto was spot on, the reverb was excellently arranged, and I think he took the beat-boxing thing to a brilliant new level. I knew he'd do a superb job with a Gibb tune and he did more than that here. Listen to a Bee Gees album - or an album by another artist that Barry Gibb has produced - and, if you listen real hard, you'll hear his voice backing up not only the artist, but the instruments. It's brilliantly done and Blake successfully attempted that here.

Lakisha ("Stayin' Alive"): Again...this girl needs a full length mirror in her dressing room. I don't know where she got that dress, but she looked like the love child of Condoleeza Rice and a bloated zebra! As for her performance, I was not impressed in the least.

Jordin ("To Love Somebody"): I'm one of Barry Gibb's biggest admirers, but if he thought this was the best cover of "To Love Somebody," then he needs to have his hearing checked. As always, Jordin only managed to hit a double when she needed to hit a homerun.


Melinda ("How Can You Mend A Broken Heart"): Again, she started off a bit flat but turned this #1 classic into her own by the end. Another excellent performance from Doolittle.

Blake ("This Is Where I Came In"): Ok...this song was only a minor hit for the Bee Gees, peaking at # 23 on the Billboard charts back in the spring of 2001. It's a song I personally love and, knowing the track as I do, thought it was a really bold choice for Blake.

So, how did he do? Sigh. All of my hopes for Blake on this night came crashing down here. He destroyed this song.

With his stellar voice and exquisite ear for arrangement, a night based around the music of the Brothers Gibb was custom made for Blake. The music library at his disposal was loaded with tunes that were perfectly suited for him, yet he chose this one? (My personal choice for him would have been "More Than A Woman") I think this will go down as the ultimate "wrong song choice" in "Idol" history.

Between the judges negative critique in round one, the bad performance here, and the relative obscurity of this song, it wouldn't surprise me if Blake wrote his ticket home this week.

Lakisha ("Run to Me"): She didn't send shivers up my spine or anything. Not the greatest rendition of this song.

Jordin ("Woman In Love"): Ok...pretty ballsy for her to tackle a classic from Barbra! Streisand's voice isn't just any ol' voice...it's a musical instrument in and of itself. If this performance did anything, it proved that Jordin is not Streisand...by any stretch of the imagination.

Who won the night? Melinda...barely. No one really knocked it out of the park this week. And that's a shame because, with the Gibb brothers catalog, the four finalists had the second best musical library in rock n' roll history at their disposal.

Who should go? At this point it doesn't matter. Every one of these four finalists will have a career, no matter what happens between now and the crowning of the next "American Idol." The three who lose the contest will still get healthy recording contracts. But who they let manage them and the career-paths they follow will determine how successful they are.

"This is the danger zone..."

Here is the song Blake butchered last night. From the spring of 2001, your Song of the Day is "This Is Where I Came In" by the Bee Gees.

08 May 2007

"Wouldn't I Run a Thousand Miles..."

We'll get one more beautifully sunny day here in the city before the fog and wind make their return. The gorgeous days we've been experiencing have led me to pull out classic tunes from summers past. And your Song of the Day is one the classiest...

"Precious" by Annie Lennox

George, Detroit, and a Missed Opportunity

Quote of the Day:
It's disgraceful how badly Detroit has delivered in recent years. While other automakers were moving towards fuel efficiency Detroit made every effort to be combative and go in the opposite direction. The end result is tens of thousands of lost jobs and years away from competing on a global scale. It is in everyone's best interest to get Detroit producing sensible products that are environmentally friendly and that people want to buy instead of smearing environmentalists.
-Chris in Paris, over at AmericaBlog, responding to a speech by Sen. Barack Obama (Democrat-IL) in which he criticized Detroit automakers for their refusal to wean Americans off foreign oil.

As I've said previously, a large part of this is due to piss-poor leadership on the President's part. Had he stepped up to the plate in the days following 9/11 and demanded fuel efficient cars from Detroit - perhaps making such policies attractive by offering substantial tax incentives to the auto companies - Americans would have rallied around the idea. Had the President moved forward with such a progressive policy the benefits for Detroit would have been two-fold: the automakers would be enjoying a huge economic windfall right about now; and, by extension, the city of Detroit would be in the middle of a much needed and long overdue urban renewal.

But alas, George's vision is limited to those oil profits.

Good for Sen. Obama for putting the issue out there. The man's candidacy becomes more attractive by the day.

"What an utter imbecile"

Come on...you know that's what she is thinking here.

(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

07 May 2007

"Livin' just enough....

...for the city!" This classic Stevie Wonder track from 1973 is - in my opinion - far and away his best. I was blasting it around the house this past weekend. It was the perfect song for the nice weather.

It's your Song of the Day. Enjoy.

Even Better News For Obama

As mentioned below, a hypothetical match up between Sen. Barack Obama (Democrat-IL) and Sen. John McCain (BushBitch-AZ) gives Obama a huge lead over McCain. It seems those numbers reflect a Republican flirtation with the Democrat from Illinois.

Sarah Baxter has the story.

More Early Polling

We're a year-and-a-half from the next presidential election, so take that into account when you look at these numbers. But new polling from Newsweek shows good news for the Democrats:

Clinton: 49%
Giuliani: 46%

Obama: 50%
Giuliani: 43%

Edwards: 50%
Giuliani: 44%

Clinton: 50%
McCain: 44%

Obama: 52%
McCain: 39%

Edwards: 52%
McCain: 42%

I find the Obama vs. McCain number particularly fascinating!

I Heart San Francisco

The weather was perfect this past weekend in San Francisco. Temps were in the 70's and 80's and the sunshine was bright and glorious. It'll be quite hot today with temps expected to reach 90 here in the city!

Special shout out to Larry, Trevor, Gil, and Steve for making the weekend so great!

04 May 2007

The Return of Michael "Mouse"

The cover art for Armistead Maupin's new novel "Michael Tolliver Lives" has been released in advance of its release on 12 June. This new book revisits "Mouse," the beloved sweet spirit of Maupin's "Tales of the City" series.

Eighteen years have passed since we last left Michael. He is now 55 years old, still living in his beloved San Francisco, and still best friends with Brian Hawkins.

A mini-review from Publishers Weekly:
Maupin denies that this is a seventh volume of his beloved "Tales of the City," but - happily - that's exactly what it is, with style and invention galore. When we left the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, it was 1989, and Michael "Mouse" Tolliver was coping with the supposed death sentence of HIV. Now, improved drug cocktails have given him a new life, while regular shots of testosterone and doses of Viagra allow him a rich and inventive sex life with a new boyfriend, Ben, "twenty-one years younger than I am - an entire adult younger, if you must insist on looking at it that way." Number 28 Barbary Lane itself is no more, but its former tenants are doing well, for the most part, in diaspora. Michael's best friend, ladies' man Brian Hawkins, is back, and unprepared for his grown daughter, Shawna, a pansexual it-girl journalist à la Michelle Tea, to leave for a New York career. Mrs. Madrigal, the transsexual landlady, is still radiant and mysterious at age 85. Maupin introduces a dazzling variety of real-life reference points, but the story belongs to Mouse, whose chartings of the transgressive, multigendered sex trends of San Francisco are every bit as lovable as Mouse's original wet jockey shorts contest in the very first Tales, back in 1978.
I am re-reading (for a third time, mind you) the original six-book series as we approach the release date for "Michael Tolliver Lives." Needless to say...

I. Can't. Wait.

03 May 2007

Rock Box

Blake Lewis' brilliant take on Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" combined some brilliant beat-boxing with a rock n' roll classic ("Rock Boxing"??). Whatever happens in the final weeks of "American Idol," this little hottie is on his way to becoming the next Leon Sylvers or Timbaland...a force to be reckoned with behind the microphone and behind the scenes.

Your Song of the Day is "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Blake Lewis:

The 2008 Landscape

On Tuesday conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett essentially conceded the 2008 presidential election to the Democratic ticket:
As each day passes, it becomes increasingly clear that the Democrats will win the White House next year. It’s not quite 1932, but it’s getting close to a sure thing.

...At some point, politically sophisticated conservatives will have to recognize that no Republican can win in 2008 and that their only choice is to support the most conservative Democrat for the nomination. Call me crazy, but I think that person is Hillary Clinton.
I know Bill Clinton won his first term with significant support from Republican voters, but Hillary? Something tells me not so much.

And in this morning's USA Today, Susan Page lists five reasons the Republican ticket faces a daunting task next year:
- The Iraq War.
- Enthusiasm. Democrats have more this time.
- Numbers. The number of voters who say they are Republicans has fallen.
- Money. More of it is going to Democrats.
- A hunger for change.
Page goes on to cite a well-known presidential formula that has predicted the winner of the national popular vote in every election since 1860:
...six of 13 "keys" have turned against the GOP, enough to forecast defeat of the party that holds the White House.
It would do everybody - especially giddy Democrats - a world of good to remember two things. First and foremost, the election is a year-and-a-half away. Neither party has chosen their nominee.

What difference does that make? Well, a generic nameless Democrat beats a generic nameless Republican by an enormous 13-point margin. But when you ask voters about a Hillary vs Giuliani match-up, Republican Rudy beats Democrat Hillary by 5-points.

Secondly, a year-and-a-half before the 1992 election George H. W. Bush was unbeatable. The coming contest was going to be a cake-walk for him. By early 1992 things had drastically changed, and on Election Day he lost re-election with one of the lowest popular vote totals (37%) for a sitting president in U.S. history.

Don't get me wrong, I'm quite optimistic about next year. But until the nominees are chosen and we know what foreign policy and economic indicators look like in early 2008, it would probably do us all well to keep that optimism in check.

02 May 2007

The Commander Guy

Bushism of the Week (from his appearance at the Conference of Associated General Contractors, earlier today):
The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear - I'm the commander guy.
Coming this summer to theatres everywhere...[swoosh]...the movie Ebert and Roper give "two thumbs up his ass"...[swoosh]...Nancy Pelosi...[swoosh]...Harry Reid...[swoosh]...and the Decider as...[swoosh]...The Commander Guy.

(Photo courtesy of AmericaBlog)

Bu-Bye Chris

Bu-Bye Phil

"Idol" Recap, 1st of May

Two go home this week. Who will stay? Who will be voted off? Here's my recap of last night's "American Idol"...

Phil: "Blaze of Glory" has a country edge to it so it was the perfect song for him. He did it well but at this point I don't know if "well" is good enough. His fan base isn't strong enough to keep him in the competition without an "out of the ballpark" performance. And this wasn't that.

Jordin: My attention was on that hot guy playing guitar next to her on stage, but then her crappy performance knocked me back into reality. Plain and simple, her rendition of "Livin' On A Prayer" was pure crap.

Kiki: First off, her outfit was about as unflattering as it gets. I mean really...does this woman not have a full-length mirror in her dressing room?! As for her performance, Lakisha has the disadvantage of not being the best female singer in the competition. That said, she did a decent job with "This Ain't A Love Song," especially at the end.

Blake: He sang "You Give Love A Bad Name." It was beat-box meets rock 'n' roll. I guess you'd call it "rock box." Either way...he was superb. I. Loved. It.

Chris: I have to admit, he did better with "Wanted: Dead or Alive" than I thought he would. Still, one has to wonder if it was enough to keep him around this week.

Melinda: She totally threw down the Tina Turner attitude as she rocked out to "Have A Nice Day." Once again, the best vocal of the night.

The worst performance of the night? The really bad scripted banter by the imbicile in the White House and that wife of his. What a way to ruin an otherwise fun episode of "American Idol."

01 May 2007

Total Eclipse...

I was in charge of providing music for my sister's wedding celebration this past weekend. My "i-J" (iPod jockey) abilities were, for the most part, right on the money. But I didn't realize until after Saturday's reception that I failed to put a very important song on the playlists.

With heart-felt apologies, this one is for you Maggie...

Blair To Announce Resignation

The Guardian has learned that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce his long-expected resignation on 10 May. In British politics this means the political party with a majority of seats in the House of Commons - in this case, Blair's Labour Party - will elect a new P.M., who will govern until the next general elections are called.

The Veto

Americans United For Change lay it out...

MacArthur Maze Is Melting In the Dark...

We returned home to the news of Sunday's gas-tanker explosion at the MacArthur Maze - the convergance of three highways in the East Bay as they approach the Bay Bridge. Judging from news reports, the explosion and resulting highway collapse seem to be a bit north of my normal everyday route on and off the bridge.

I'll need to get a gauge tomorrow of how re-routed traffic effects my morning and afternoon commutes. If blogging is light through the rest of the week, then chalk it up to heavy traffic on I-880.

But all news reports seem to indicate that traffic jams were minimal this evening. We'll see how long it lasts while repairs and rebuilding are done.

(Photo: KPIX-TV, San Francisco)

Back Home

The wedding was a smashing success, my sister and brother-in-law are happy as can be, Brent and I are back home, and all is well in the world.

"Trumped Up Political Stunts"

Today is the fourth anniversary of his testosterone-induced speech announcing an end to hostilities in Iraq, and in celebration President Bush vetoed a bill that funded his war while at the same time setting timetables for troop withdrawal. Mr. Bush called the bill a "trumped up political stunt."

Say it with me: Worst. President. Ever.