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Monthly Archives: May 2003

Casting Couch

May 13th, 2003 - 4:06 pm

It looks like the long-promised and much-delayed Atlas Shrugged movie might just be for real this time.

Arthur Silber wants your dream-cast ideas. I have mine, but I’m saving them for later on Arthur’s site.

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Gone, But Hopefully Not Forgotten

May 13th, 2003 - 12:59 am

Got Veal?
Work continues on The Bachelor’s Guide to Getting Laid Through Cooking, although slower than I’d hoped.

On the other hand, how many cookbooks not only tell you how to outfit your kitchen and dining room for seduction for less than 300 bucks, but also include jokes about what food processors do to small mammals and Charisma Carpetner’s eating habits (or lack thereof)?

Notoriously good fun. The other question is, am I going to put off my agent before she’s really my agent? The emails might get interesting soon.

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This little item is to soothe the guilty conscience of the reluctant file-sharer.

As you might know from reading this page, there’s a new Steely Dan album coming out next month. June 10. I’ll be at MediaPlay before they unlock their doors that day. And I won’t play it in the car, either. Oh, no. For the serious fan, that just won’t do.

Instead, I’ll drive cautiously home, going under the speed limit for the first time since my last driver’s test.

Close the garage door behind me, and enter the kitchen. There’s a good utility knife in the knife block, perfect for cutting the cellophane without risking damaging the CD jewel case. (There’s a rant to be written about CD and DVD packaging. Oh, and that hard plastic casing protecting most small high-tech items that you can’t get open without shredding the instructions and warranty card. What makes manufacturers think we’ll like their product better if they leave us unable to actually get to the stuff we bought? [Rant half written already]).

Anyway. Once the plastic wrap and sticky labels and claymore mines are all safely removed, I’ll take my treasure to the family room downstairs. That’s where the good stereo is. 6.1 channel sound. 100 watts per channel. Speakers large and dark and phallic enough to make Shaft nod knowingly, and say something about “not bad for a white boy.” Or maybe that was just in some strange dream of mine.

The CD will be lovingly placed in the DVD player, which moonlights as a CD machine. The cables are all from Monster. The equipment will all be cleaned and dusted the night before. The amp will be turned up to 11.

I’ll listen twice. Once, eyes closed, sitting in the sweet spot in the center of the sofa, almost exactly twice as far from the speakers as the speakers are from each other (serious audiophiles will understand). The second time, eyes open, reading along with the lyrics as the record plays.

But not three times. Three times in one sitting is like drinking the good scotch after you’re already six cocktails into the evening — you just aren’t able to appreciate it any longer. New Steely Dan albums don’t happen very often – nine times in 30 years, and I’ll leave the math up to you. So you’ve got to ration yourself, or you’ll dull your taste buds long before there’s another new one.

Two listens. Then it’s time to rip it to the hard drive. Download the cover art, cut’n'paste the lyrics into the song tags. Yes, I’ll even make notes about which musicians played on each song. I’ll burn a copy for the car, because there’s no way I’ll risk the original getting scratched.

So what the hell does all this fanboy obsession have to do with file sharing?

Last week, The Dan made one cut, Blues Beach, available for downloading for the low, low price of a buck forty-nine. Pay whenever, and you’ll get an email May 6 on how to download the song.

You better believe I paid up. And, yeah, I just downloaded it. Now I’m left wondering whether to listen now and ruin part of my one-two punch first listen experience, or say “screw it” and listen to the first new Steely Dan tune in three years. I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll probably give in before the night is over.

And what does that have to do with file sharing?

Reprise Records made it worth my while to pony up a dollar fifty over and above the price of the album, just to get a sneak peek at how it will sound. The cost to them is almost nothing, and the cost to me isn’t much higher. As a real fan, I’m not getting what I’ll get from owning the album (liner notes, art, pride of ownership, 320kpbs encoding, etc.), but I’m going to buy the album anyway.

This surely isn’t a good marketing ploy for most bands. But for artists who already have a large fan base, it’s brilliant. Yeah, a bunch of people will make the single available on Gnutella or WinMX or wherever, but the record company will get additional pre-release publicity — and they’ll get it by charging fans like me a buck or so for the privilege.

Surely, this is a much better ploy than Madonna’s latest silliness, when she recorded herself berating file-sharers, and put her curses out in the open, disguised as a song, like a virus to be downloaded by the unwary.

File sharing is here to stay. Reprise and Steely Dan chose to profit by it. Madonna chose to annoy her most diehard fans.

Which do you prefer?

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He’s No Lileks

May 6th, 2003 - 10:47 pm

You know you’re deep into writing a book proposal when food and sleep seem like unnecessary luxuries, you’re filled with uncharacteristic self-doubt, you’ve developed a keyboard hunchback even more pronounced than usual, you pass the Million Visitor Benchmark without noticing, and — most shocking of all — you’re down to less than one InstaPundit visit each day.

On the other hand, research for the book involved inventing a pasta sauce made from heavy cream, parmesan, mozzarella, and some secret herbs and spices. Wisk it constantly over high heat, and it becomes

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May 5th, 2003 - 12:18 am

One sample chapter is done, complete with recipes. I’ve written the proposal twice, and deleted it twice — on purpose, because both of them sucked.

Little mental energy leftover for the usual evening blogging. I’ll see you in the morning.

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Put the Screws to Them, Nicely

May 2nd, 2003 - 9:32 am

Victor Davis Hanson has a few recommendations for reforming the UN, and our relationship with Old Europe. And it’s today’s Required Reading.

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May 2nd, 2003 - 1:29 am

A big thanks to literary agent Marylin Allen, who generously took a bunch of time out of her day yesterday to teach me some of the ins and outs of putting together a cookbook proposal.

Is there a market for The Bachelor’s Guide to Getting Laid through Cooking?

We’ll find out, I suppose.

Anyway, if blogging is light or I never do catch up on email, you’ll know why. I have to produce an overview, two sample chapters, a marketing plan, etc., over the next couple weeks. Oh, and eventually there will be that little matter of coming up with 200 recipes.

Wish me luck.

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Friday Recipe

May 2nd, 2003 - 1:20 am

It’s not a classic Caesar, but it’s a damn good one. Learned it from Mom, then modified it a bit through the years as I discovered I liked more garlic, more tartness, and more garlic.

The Mostly Caesar Salad

You’ll Need:

One head of Romaine lettuce, cleaned, torn into bite-size chunks, and dried. (Or just pick up a bag, but I prefer to do the work myself.)
6 cloves of garlic.

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May 2nd, 2003 - 12:48 am

As pure political theater, President Bush’s speech last night was brilliant.

He flew the plane part of the way. He endured a carrier landing. He looked comfortable in a flight suit (feel free to bring back memories of Mike Dukakis looking like Snoopy in an M-1). He gave a stirring speech on a flight deck filled with victorious sailors and naval aviators.

Again, as pure political theater, the only thing I can compare it to is Ronald Reagan’s quips after being shot, Reagan chopping wood on his ranch, and Reagan. . .well, doing all those Reagan things. Karl Rove is at least the equal of Mike Deaver, if not better.

Was it necessary? Yes and no. At the conclusion of any campaign, the President usually first addresses Congress, then goes on a victory tour of some sort with the troops. Or at least that’s how Bush 41 did it after the Gulf War. The Congressional address is carried live by all the major networks. The talk to the troops is carried on the evening news. What Bush 43 did was to combine the two, thereby damn near forcing the networks to carry the speech live

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Not One Bath Joke

May 1st, 2003 - 10:42 am

Readers at Horsefeathers were asked to come up with ways to punish France. I think you’ll enjoy the results.

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It Should Come with a Warning Label

May 1st, 2003 - 10:34 am

A safety poster for your, ah, safety.

Laurence is a sick man, which is why you should read him.

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But at Least It Ain’t About OIIILLLL

May 1st, 2003 - 10:06 am

Jessica explains, far better than I ever did, why I’m not a conservative:

I hear the word “conservatism” and I don’t see or feel trust in fellow human beings. I see a cramped, scared, bitter philosophy, that regards the world as constantly falling into a moral and personal sinkhole, that distrusts democracy, that professes humility but takes fearful refuge in self-righteousness. It desperately seeks the imposition of a very particular set of “values” for fear that, left alone, people might turn to that pursuit of happiness in unacceptable ways. And at every turn it cries, “Think of the children!”, creating, fetishizing, and pandering more to the supposed innocence and fragility than Dr. Spock ever could.

“Read the whole thing,” and all that.

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Murder By Numbers

May 1st, 2003 - 9:59 am

Drudge has the story. Bill O’Reilly sucks on radio:

Just released ARBITRON radio ratings show FOX NEWS CHANNEL’s Bill O’Reilly in near-collapse — just one year after launching a nationally syndicated rival to Rush Limbaugh.

It’s been years since I listened to talk radio of any kind, but this news pleases me. I watched O’Reilly a bit during the 2000 election cycle, and found him, at first, quite entertaining. But watch him enough and you’ll realize he’s just a few years away from going Full Foaming Buchanan.

It’s still too early to be hopeful, but could this be the start of the meltdown?

UPDATE: James Joyner has the best line of the day with, “Let us hope. O’Reilly is even more annoying than Bob Novak, who can at least write.”

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After Action Report

May 1st, 2003 - 9:47 am

Jim Dunnigan on the secret role played by Special Forces in Iraq:

Two potential disasters were avoided largely by Special Forces efforts. The Iraqi oil fields were not set on fire because many key oil field people were bribed or threatened to not set off the explosives. Only nine oil wells were set on fire, and those were put out by April. The dams north of Baghdad were not blown because Special Forces teams monitored attempts to destroy the dams and directed the movement of U.S. Army Rangers and commandos to take control of key dams and prevent their destruction.

There’s a lot more, and it’s all very, very cool.

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A Friendly Greeting

May 1st, 2003 - 1:11 am

Happy May Day to all you murderous Communists bastards, power-grubbing socialists, soft-headed lefties, and decent, hard-working American union guys.

It’s a shame, blue collar folks, that your supposed political allies are all such shitheads.

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It’s Money that Matters

May 1st, 2003 - 1:08 am

Slate’s Fred Kaplan has some ideas on how to cut defense spending without cutting back on actual defense. I’ll bullet point his suggestions:

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This Is Gonna Hurt

May 1st, 2003 - 12:51 am

I caught a lot of hell almost exactly one year ago for these words about Israel and the West Bank:

I get blasted every time I say it, but here it is again: If we want an end to the Murder Bomber War which doesn’t involve mass deportations, then US or NATO ground troops must be used to guarrantee the peace.

But now even David Warren is making the case:

Whatever the “roadmap” says, progress will require the imposition on the West Bank and Gaza of an international, probably American force, to replace the Israeli. For there is no conceivable Palestinian civil force, that can stand up to Arafat’s multiple networks of goons and suicide bombers. Such a force will have to be prepared to take casualties, for it will itself become a target. Under these circumstances, the Europeans are likely to find an excuse to leave the whole burden upon the Americans.

And there you have it. Do I like it? Not one bit. But the only other long term answer I can see is the mass deportation of Arabs out of the West Bank — and, no matter how morally justified such an action might be after the last 15 months, it ain’t gonna happen.

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Not Even the End of the Beginning

May 1st, 2003 - 12:34 am

Bill Safire on the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority:

“There is only one authority,” Abbas said on taking office. He told Arab terror groups “there is no military solution to our conflict” and vowed to “relentlessly address” their possession of illegal weapons.

Brave words. Within hours, and within yards of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Hamas and Fatah “martyrs” gave him their answer: they dispatched a suicide bomber to a seaside pub, who killed three Israelis and wounded 55. That was not only another murder of civilians

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May 1st, 2003 - 12:31 am

You take a week off, and you fall behind on email. I’m caught up now through Monday, so bear with me just a little longer.

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