Plaxico is an Idiot

This whole Plaxico thing just reeks of boneheadedness, which is painful for Heathen Central to admit given our affection for the Giants generally and Plaxico specifically (Burress has been our favorite player for a while, an honor that is predicted predominately on “which productive NFL player on a team we like has the funniest name.” (The runner-up is Atari Bigby in Green Bay)).

Consequently, the light this event shines into Plaxico’s fucktardery is, well, disappointing to us. The entire affair is error on error on error in a chain that could have, at any moment, been broken and thereby prevented the near-certain incarceration endgame.

So, in the order he probably committed them, a brief survey of stupid Plaxico tricks:

  1. “I’ll wear a shit-ton of jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars to a loud and chaotic night club where snatch-and-run type thefts are easy to perpetrate, and I’ll do this on the off chance that someone around me may of missed the fact that I make a fuckload of money by being one of Eli’s favorite targets, and — oh yes — I caught the winning TD in the Super Bowl last year.” Stupidity rating: 3. Lots of people, especially people who come from below the upper-middle-class, have a tendency to suffer from Wife of Bath syndrome in an effort to show everyone how well they’ve done. Pro athletes are particularly vulnerable, and it’s hard to completely condemn the practice for this reason. However — and I say this as someone dumb enough to have regularly stumbled home drunk from Egan’s wearing my dad’s Rolex — wearing flashy jewelry in a club like that is just silly.

  2. “Because I have to wear such fancy jewelry to illustrate my station in life, I must also carry a gun to protect same.” Stupidity rating: 6. Plax jumps a lot here, since he’s making a bad assumption based on a bad assumption which compounds the whole affair. Carry a gun because you HAVE to go someplace where you don’t feel safe, sure. But creating a situation you perceive as dangerous (wearing the jewels into the club) and then compounding that danger by carrying a gun as well makes you pretty stupid. Better to avoid the danger in the first place, but therein you see how the chain develops.

  3. “I have no reason to bother with registering this firearm.” Stupidity rating: 8. Carrying a loaded gun without a permit in NYC is a felony. Dude, you’re rich as metric FUCK; hire a security service if you need to wear 30 pounds of gold out in public. Carrying just tempts fate, and fate can be a bitch.

  4. “I’m going to pick a gun to carry based on popular culture and not on my specific carry needs.” Stupidity rating: 5+ (see below; this plays into point 6, below). This is inferred, but at least a few reports suggested that Burress was carrying a full-sized pistol; there appears to be no dispute that it was a Glock in .40S&W. All Glocks, even the small ones, are double-stacked — meaning they’re much wider than many more carry-appropriate guns. You can get a 9mm or even .40 that’s far slimmer, and that will fit neatly in one’s pocket; when you’re carrying on the sly, concealability is paramount, and absent a proper carry rig, being able to slip it in your pocket securely is pretty important.

  5. “Wait, you mean you can get carry rigs that work in just about any set of clothes, from inside-the-waistband holsters to full shoulder clutches to fanny-pack setups?” If you’re gonna carry, SECURE THE MOTHERFUCKING PIECE. Plax did NOT do this; he was apparently trying to carry a double-stacked Glock in the waistband of his sweatpants. WTF, man? Stupidity rating: 9.

  6. “I’m gonna go ahead and keep one in the pipe just in case despite lacking a real safety or a real carry rig.” Stupidity rating: 10. Most folks who carry probably DO keep a round in the chamber, but they’re probably using real gun leather, or a pistol with a more affirmative safety mechanism than the Glock has. Plax dropped his gun and, in fumbling for it, pulled the trigger. The Glock’s safety is IN the trigger, which one source of criticism for the pistol’s design. There’s no click-on, click-off safety at all. This means carrying a Glock with a round in the chamber without a secure rig is really, really, really stupid; had he picked a safer gun, a real holster, or carried without a round in the chamber, none of this would have happened. (I.e., if Plax had just dropped the gun and avoided shooting himself or anyone else, nobody would have ever known.)

  7. “Now that I’m at the club, wearing loads of jewelry, and carrying a gun, I’d better go ahead and get drunk.” Stupidity rating: 10. In Texas, by the way, carrying a gun EVEN WITH A PERMIT into a place that makes more than 51% of its money selling booze is also a felony. This is NOT a bad law. Carrying when you’re drunk is a bad, bad idea — no good can come from it.

Plax is going to jail. What he’s really going to jail for is being a fucking idiot, given how many choices he could have made differently in this sequence. “Skip the jewels, so I don’t need the gun” would’ve been a great start, but even “get a real holster” or “carry something with an affirmative safety” or “don’t fucking keep one in the chamber” would’ve also saved his career and kept him out of the loving arms of New York State.

Christmas Shopping Woes?

Check out the Spacetaker Winter Art Market, today through Sunday, at Winter Street Studios.

Spacetaker is excited to bring Houston-area holiday shoppers a three day celebration of creativity, fun and unique gift buying at the Winter Holiday Art Market. WHAM features over 60 local artists, artist demonstrations and children’s art activities. Find everything from paintings to prints, photographs, jewelry, crafts, ornaments, soap, and more! Give something unique this year!

Live music, open bar and yummy food from Beavers on Friday and Saturday nights —- With a jazzy Sunday to wind down the weekend.

More info at

Where DOES the cat go during the day?

If you have a cat, and it’s not one of the indoor models like HeathenCat, it probably does some significant wandering whenever you let it out. Fortunately, digital photography bits can now be made small enough to fit into a rig attached to a collar, which is how we got to CatCam. Check out the galleries for a cats-eye view of the world.

The Cautious Endorsement

So, the official mobile telephone and Internet platform of Heathen HQ is the iPhone. It’s fantastic. I’ve used WinMo and Palm and Blackberry, and none of them have the total package of capability + usability the iPhone brings. I’m sore about the walled-garden aspects, but I’m also reasonably confident that as Android spools up, that’ll stop being quite such an issue.

Anyway, one aspect of the iPhone that was vexing out of the gate was the lack of any contact search. If you’re a hipster kid with 100 friends, this is a non-issue, but I have 710 contacts in my address book, and this is AFTER I did a huge cull last year. Scrolling by letter was painful.

The 2.0 update gave us a search option, but its implementation was sub-optimal; there’s a search box, but you have to scroll all the way to the top of the address book list to get to it. A better option would have been to keep the search box on the screen at all times, so it’s always accessible. (This is one area where the Blackberry is definitely superior; on a BB, you can pretty much start typing a name from anywhere and have it do a live search for you, but never mind that.)

Anyway, someone’s found a way to at least sort of solve the problem, and in a way I would’ve laughed at if I hadn’t tried it first: the Melodis Voice Dialer is a thing of beauty, and more or less Just Works. Even better: it’s FREE. I just downloaded it today, so it hasn’t had heavy use or anything yet, but my gut is that it’s gonna be a winner.

Probably a mistake, but y’all go on anyway

Word is that Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville is out in the wake of a disappointing season and a stunning shutout in the Iron Bowl. This is almost certainly a mistake; in 10 years at Auburn, Tuberville has produced consistently, taken them to a bowl every year since 2000, and posted winning seasons every year but his first and this one. He’s the only Aubur coach to ever beat Alabama six years in a row. His 85-40 (68%) record isn’t better than Bowden (73%, fired in 1998) or Dye (71%, forced out in an rules violation scandal in 1992), but it’s close — and n.b. that neither of those guys left voluntarily, either.

If this is true, it means four of the six teams in the SEC West will have coaches with less than 2 years tenure at kickoff next August: Mississippi State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Ole Miss. (I’d make a joke about Saban scaring them all off, but when you factor in Nutt’s move from Arkansas to Ole Miss it’s really only 3 who shuffled out of the SEC — and there’s at least some chance Tuberville might go to Starkville.)

MSU isn’t going to do better without Croom. I find it hard to believe Auburn will do better without Tuberville. Nutt might do a little better at Ole Miss than he did at Arkansas, but even that would be inconsistent. Longtime Heathen Third-Party Contract Oil insists that Petrino’s Louisville roots mean Arkansas will become an offensive power in a couple years, but even if that’s true it still means lots of rebuilding in the SEC West, which is bad for everybody because of perceptions of weakness in strength of schedule.

(Sorry, Lindsey.)

The Onion wins again

American Airlines Now Charging Fees to Non-Passengers:

[AA President Gerard] Arpey said that non-passengers of American Airlines should expect to pay a small fee when making Greyhound bus reservations, choosing to drive to their final destination, or simply being a citizen of the United States with a valid Social Security number.

Arpey went on to note that some additional charges would also apply, including a $15 fee for every piece of luggage customers have inside their bedroom closet, and a one-time payment of $40 for any American whose name is Greg.

(Sorry, Greg.)

ROBBED: The Death of the Whisky Pact

BCS is out, and despite having BEATEN Oklahoma, this goofball system we have put Texas BEHIND Oklahoma in the rankings, which means it’s the Sooners that will whip Mizzou in the Big XII game and play the SEC champion in Miami.

Of course, we here at Heathen know that the SEC will prevail, and our home conference will enjoy its third title in a row. But suppose they don’t, and Oklahoma wins. Texas sits out the big game despite having beaten them, and the champs know there’s a team better than them down in Austin.

This whole things just stinks.

And All Was Right With The World

I’d have been happier with 40+ points, but a 36 to zippo shutout of Auburn ends the regular season for both teams. Auburn’s difficult year ends at 5 and 7, a game shy of a bowl slot, which suits us just fine. Tuberville may have a year left — his six-game Iron Bowl streak will probably buy him some time — but something tells me that next year won’t be much better, and the Auburn faithful aren’t likely to be very patient at that point.

Alabama, of course, improves to 12-0 and will continue to the SEC championship game in Atlanta next Saturday against one-loss Florida. Meyer’s Gators are hot, and have played very well since their shocking loss to Ole Miss, so the game is likely to be quite a brawl. The winner there will for certain go to the BCS game in Miami, meeting whomever ends up on top of the Big XII South. All three contenders in that division won their games this weekend, though only Texas‘s 49 to 9 over A&M was truly authoritative; Texas Tech needed a big late-game rally to escape Baylor, and Oklahoma allowed 41 points in their 61-point win over Oklahoma State. (Frankly, the confusion may actually be all hype: after the drubbing from Oklahoma and the scare from Baylor, smart money says Texas Tech is out of the running for good — and Texas has already beaten Oklahoma in the regular season, which ought to get them into the Big XII game ahead of the Sooners.)

Elsewhere, LSU continued their downward slide with a 31-30 loss to Arkansas, which we’re certain will give the Tiger Boosters a bit of heartburn considering what they’re paying Les Miles.

Next door in Mississippi, the Egg Bowl turned into a 45 to nothing slaughter that also ended Croom’s career there. I hate seeing the preppie bastards in Oxford win that game, but you can’t argue with 45 unanswered points and Houston Nutt’s near-immediate success in his first year there.

On the other end of the coaching spectrum, as always, is Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis. Just a year after an embarrassing 3-9 season, and only a week out from a collapse for the ages against 8-loss Syracuse, the Irish gave up 38 points against the USC Trojans in a pathetic excuse for a game that has pundits all over calling for Weis’ head. The bad news for the ND athletic department is that apparently Weis’ contract buyout is friggin’ huge. Look for several more years of Irish mediocrity with or without Weis; their lackluster performance goes back further than Weis’ tenure.

Happy Birthday To This

Eight years ago today, a mailing list I maintained called “Some Arrant Knaves I Know” transmogrified into a blog called Miscellaneous Heathen.

Much of the last 8 years’ subject matter has been political, because — let’s face it — we spent most of that time watching the Bush Administration carefully consider what the right path would be in any given situation, and then just as carefully select the opposite. That fueled lots of angry posts, at times even overwhelming the “here’s something weird” character of the ancestral mailing list. With Bush nearly out of office, I don’t think I”ll stop writing about politics, but I do expect the post mix to become a bit less political. And I don’t mind.

Here’s to a return to weirdness. Happy Heathen Day. Now I’m gonna go watch and see if Alabama can beat Auburn.

That’s some fine snark right there

Fed up with the advertising demonization of the word “chemical,” the Royal Society of Chemistry has offered a £1,000,000 bounty for the first person to present them with a sample of a “100% chemical free” substance.

In which we finally comment on the events of Saturday last

To say people viewed the Oklahoma – Texas Tech game with interest would be a wild understatement. Pretty much nobody outside of Lubbock has been happy to see Leach’s boys get this far with no losses, and Heathen Nation has been right there with ’em. Smart money said that if the Raiders could get past the Longhorns, then the only team likely to stop ’em would be Oklahoma — but pretty much everyone also expected a fairly hard-fought game.

Well, on that point at least, pretty much everybody was dead fucking wrong, as the Sooners managed to steamroll Texas Tech like a farm league team. Nothing the Raiders did worked; Oklahoma could do virtually no wrong, and by halftime it was very, very clear that Tech was no longer in the running for any championships — Big XII or national. Final score: 65 to 21, and it wasn’t that close. Tech’s final TD came with the Sooners’ bench on defense, and the Sooners’ played without starting QB Sam Bradford for the final quarter. Oklahoma improves to 34 and 1 under Stoops in home games, which is quite a stat.

This old-skool ass-whippin’ was utterly unforeseen, as we said; smart money said that if Tech lost, it would create a three-way tie in the Big XII South, leading to wailing and gnashing of teeth as folks tried to figure out who best deserved a shot at Miami. By folding up like a cheap suit, Tech eliminated themselves — and Texas beat Oklahoma already. By the time the BCS rankings came out last night, nobody outside of Norman was expecting anything other than what we got:

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Florida
  5. USC

Yeah, some west coast nerd had to shove the Trojans in there. Tech drops to 7. Penn State’s a slot behind them at 8. Still-perfect Boise and Ohio State round out the top ten. (Amusingly, the AP poll puts Florida at #2, followed by Oklahoma, Texas, and USC; USAToday sees 2-5 as Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, and USC — but neither poll matters.)

Texas still has to beat unranked A&M and get to the Big XII game against Mizzou to play in Miami, but it’s not that simple; the Longhorns don’t exactly control their own destiny. Ties in this conference are broken by BCS standings, and that’s where things get woozy.

Should Oklahoma win convincingly over their 9-2 cross-state rival Oklahoma State, they’ll get lifted in the BCS model — but Texas’ last remaining game is against a helpless 4-7 Aggie squad, and beating them won’t impress anyone. The BCS gap between the two is small enough that even a slight increase in Oklahoma’s rating relative to UT could push them into the #2 spot and the conference game. The only certain thing is that it’s the Big XII South vs. the SEC in Miami; the North division hasn’t won since Kansas State in 2003, and Mizzou isn’t gonna break that streak (they already lost to Texas once this year, back in October, to the tune of 56 to 31).

Elsewhere, a couple other lovely things happened. Well, I say that, but when Ole Miss and LSU play, I really sort of wish both could lose. This time around, though, it was the Rebels winning big over a Tiger team clearly on tilt after some rough losses, but still ranked #18 going into the game. After the 31 to 13 drubbing, though, LSU’s nowhere to be seen — and Ole Miss popped up at 25 on the AP.

And where would a Heathen football comment be without some Notre Dame hate? We’ve got you covered: the Irish managed to suck out against coachless Syracuse, 24 to 23 at home in South Bend. This is a collapse of almost Texan proportions, as the Irish led 23-10 in the fourth quarter.

The Orange improve to 3 and 8; it’s the first time EVER for ND to lose to an 8-loss squad. They’ll still be bowl eligible at .500 assuming they lose, as expected, to USC in their season closer — which sets the stage for the Irish to extend their (NCAA record) winless streak of bowls to an even TEN. The 2007-2008 two-year span also boasts the most losses of any such span in program history (14, and they haven’t played USC yet). But keep Weis up there, Irish. Really. We’re sure this is gonna work out just fine, and don’t worry about the restless natives:

The Irish players were pelted by snowballs on the sideline for much of the first quarter by fans sitting on the student section. Defensive end Ethan Johnson was struck on the left cheek and several other players also getting hit by snowballs despite three announcement urging fans to stop.

The Irish were booed several times during the game, including Clausen on Notre Dame’s next-to-last possession when third-and-8 the Syracuse 31 he missed a wide open David Grimes.

Weis is at 28 and 20 over 4 seasons, or batting about .583; ND aced the last two coaches in that statistical neighborhood, but Weis still has 7 years left on his contract.

Oh, and the historic multi-year collapse of ND is actually showing up on non-sports blogs now. This pleases us at Heathen Central, as do a couple stats from the article the blogger links:

  • ND has beaten only one team with a winning record this year: perennial powerhouse NAVY.
  • The combined record of the teams ND has beaten this year is 18-46.
  • Under Weis, the Irish are 12-17 against teams with winning records.

Widely linked; still cool.

Google has the entire Life magazine photoarchive.

Some lovely finds:

Your afternoon is ruined.

Update: It’s been brought to my attention that Heathen Tom’s uncle is actually in the archive. How cool is that?

Wow. It’s like the definition of tone-deaf.

The Detroit CEOs who went, tin cup out, to request a bailout went to Washington in three separate corporate jets.

So it was hard to feel sorry for the executives when Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), late in the hearing, reminded them again that “the symbolism of the private jet is difficult,” and mischievously asked the witnesses whether, in another symbolic gesture, they would be willing to work for $1 a year, as [Chrysler head Robert] Nardelli has offered to do.

“I don’t have a position on that today,” demurred [GM CEO Richard] Wagoner (2007 total compensation: $15.7 million).

“I understand the intent, but I think where we are is okay,” said [Ford top Alan] Mulally ($21.7 million).

“I’m asking about you,” Roskam pressed.

“I think I’m okay where I am,” Mulally said.

And don’t even think about asking him to fly commercial.

The only “Chinese Democracy” Review You Need To Read

From the A/V Club, by Chuck Klosterman. It includes this excellent paragraph:

Throughout Chinese Democracy, the most compelling question is never, “What was Axl doing here?” but “What did Axl think he was doing here?” The tune “If The World” sounds like it should be the theme to a Roger Moore-era James Bond movie, all the way down to the title. On “Scraped,” there’s a vocal bridge that sounds strikingly similar to a vocal bridge from the 1990 Extreme song “Get The Funk Out.” On the aforementioned “Sorry,” Rose suddenly sings an otherwise innocuous line (“But I don’t want to do it”) in some bizarre, quasi-Transylvanian accent, and I cannot begin to speculate as to why. I mean, one has to assume Axl thought about all of these individual choices a minimum of a thousand times over the past 15 years. Somewhere in Los Angles, there’s gotta be 400 hours of DAT tape with nothing on it except multiple versions of the “Sorry” vocal. So why is this the one we finally hear? What finally made him decide, “You know, I’ve weighed all my options and all their potential consequences, and I’m going with the Mexican vampire accent.”

Another Senate Dem

The counting’s all but over, and it is now possible to call the Alaskan Senate race. Multiple-felon Stevens is OUT; Begich is in.

The Senate now holds 56 actual Democrats plus Joe Lieberman (who is not an actual Democrat; he lost his primary but ran in the general anyway as an “independent Democrat” in 2006) and Bernie Sanders (an actual Independent, from Vermont). The race in Minnesota (Coleman v. Franken) is still in recount hell, but could break for Franken easily.

Saxby Chambliss in Georgia didn’t win a majority of the votes (he got 49.8%), so he’ll have to sit for a runoff — a runoff in which the entire Democratic party will be pushing for his opponent, Jim Martin (46.8; the Libertarian candidate got 3.4%).

Chambliss won his seat in 2002 by painting decorated veteran and triple-amputee Max Cleland as somehow unpatriotic in a series of smear ads on local media. He’s a douchebag of the first water, and deserves to be kicked to the curb more than anyone I can think of. Godspeed, Jim Martin.

I know you can all do math, but one possible endgame here is that the Dems seat 60 in their caucus come January.

Dept. of Cool Shit You May Have Forgotten About

We launched Voyager 1 in September of 1977. By January of 1979, it was sending back amazing shots of Jupiter and its moons (including the first evidence of volcanic activity on Io). With November 1980 came Saturn and its moon Titan.

As of now, in late 2008, Voyager is still at work. It’s long since passed the planetary part of our solar system, and is now more than 107 AU from the sun, or about 9.94 billion miles, making it the farthest man-man object by a vast margin. It’s also significantly beyond the orbit of Pluto (30-49 AU; shut up; it is too a planet); signals from Voyager 1 now take in excess of fourteen hours to reach earth.

Sadly, it has not yet produced any contact with Godlike extraterrestrial intelligences nor hot bald alien women.

Even now, I tell young geeks about such things, and they scoff

The computer lab at Alabama I first worked in was actually a roomful of terminals hooked to an IBM 3081d mainframe. One wall of the room had a long shelf attached, on which was approximately 12 linear feet of documentation for VM/SP, Rexx, Xedit, Mail, FORTRAN 77, and God knows what else, all in one enormous expandable “binding”. You don’t see that anymore.

It was that culture of documentation that led IBM to ship each PC with a commensurately excellent set of docs weighing in at something like 4,000 pages.

My MacBook Pro came with a thin brochure. Of course, there was no Internet to speak of in 1981, either.

Well that didn’t take long. I’m already disappointed.

The Dems will let Turncoat Joe keep his chairmanships despite his active anti-Dem campaigning AND his utter failure to use said chairmanship for anything useful during Bush’s presidency.

So, Senate Dems will be allowing Lieberman to keep his plum spot despite the fact that he has been deeply awful in that role, and despite the fact that he endorsed efforts by the GOP to imply that Obama is in league with terrorists, suggested that Obama endangered our troops, and said Obama hasn’t always put the country first.

Worse, Reid is echoing an argument he knows is false: That this is only about retribution. Reid and his fellow Senators have made the political decision to leave Lieberman in a job that he was a disaster at, rather than make the good governmental decision to remove him for the good of the country.

That it was apparently Obama’s decision makes me only slightly less annoyed.


Please join the Heathen faithful in congratulating longtime Heathens Ear O’Corn and Lady McHorne on their anniversary today.


A Heathen Jazz Primer

So, longtime Heathen Tom asked on Facebook for a top-5 or top-10 list to serve as a jazz primer of sorts. I started typing, and then realized a wider distribution might spark more interesting discussion, so here’s where I exercise a staggering degree of hubris in compiling just such a list: the Heathen Jazz Top Ten.

First, an aside. What popular culture thinks about when they think of “jazz” is probably the stuff that happened in the late 50s and early 60s, and that period is well represented below. This isn’t to say that the stuff before (Charlie Parker! Louie Armstrong!) or the stuff after (Ornette Coleman! Terence Blanchard!) is less valuable; only that my the Heathen playlist is sort of centered there, and on things that grew directly out of that period (Miles’ electric work, e.g.). All that said, I’ve got enough ego to suggest that this might make a good survey of jazz for those interested but unexposed. Jump in here; branch out as indicated. In other words, come on in; the water’s fine.

So, more or less off the cuff — and in chronological, not quality, order — here we go:

  1. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, 1959. This is the biggest jazz record ever. I am not exaggerating. (It’s also the best selling — 4,000,000 and counting.) Davis’ band for this record includes giants-in-their-own-right John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly. Its recording is the subject of a book. Despite being hugely popular and famous, it’s also incredibly important, and represented a real departure at the time. Jazz as we know it today would be impossible without Kind of Blue (hell, MUSIC as we know it wouldn’t be the same, either). Bonus: Totally safe for non-afficianado audiences.

  2. Time Out, Dave Brubeck, 1959. You know half the songs on this disc already. It’s also the only example of “West Coast” or “Cool Jazz” on the list. Superclean and precise, its sound prefigures Steely Dan in some ways. Like KoB, it’s also extremely accessible; play it at a dinner party, and your guests will praise your taste.

  3. Mingus Ah Um, Charles Mingus, 1959. You can’t have any list without Mingus. It’s just silly. MAU is my go-to Mingus recording.

  4. Sketches of Spain, Miles Davis, 1960. It’s almost impossible to believe that Davis produced this and Kind of Blue in the same two-year period, but there it is. Sketches is unusual in lots of ways, but the biggest departure is that Davis worked with composure and arranger Gil Evans here, and so we get a “jazz” record that’s far more composed and far less improvisational than nearly anything else in this category. Davis’ own contemporaries tried to suggest it wasn’t jazz because of this, to which he is said to have replied “It’s music, and I like it.” You will, too. It’s an excellent choice for the dim-room-and-fine-wine treatment.

  5. My Favorite Things, John Coltrane, 1961. Trane plunges headlong into free jazz here, but not in a way that makes the record inaccessible to casual listeners; the title track is a long way from Julie Andrews, but it’s also clearly the same song. I’m particularly fond of “next steps” records where artists are really finding a new form; this is a great example (as is Silent Way, also on the list), and reminds you of how incredible the 1959-1972 period was for American music. By this point, Trane’s already got McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones with him; they’ll still be there for “A Love Supreme,” below.

  6. Money Jungle. Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus recorded this in a single day session in 1962. To hell with the Sun “Million Dollar Quartet;” I’d give eye teeth to have seen this trio. This disc is never “put up” at my house, and I have copies on my laptop, my iPod, and my iPhone at all times. It’s staggering and beautiful while also being COMPLETELY safe for nonjazz people. (Remember the black-text-on-white Flash animation “Samsung Means To Come” I blogged some years back? Its music was taken from Money Jungle.)

  7. A Love Supreme, John Coltrane, 1965. Widely viewed as one of Trane’s masterworks, this modal opus is the earliest “concept album” in my whole collection. Play it all the way through the first time you listen, preferably in a darken room. Intoxicants are optional. Dramatically less accessible than Brubeck, but still recognizably post-bop and not anywhere near the free jazz or fusion entries you’ll find elsewhere on the list. Also still safe for dinner parties, but only very hip ones.

  8. Straight, No Chaser; Thelonious Monk, 1966. I’m not the student of Monk that I am of Davis, but this record cooks.

  9. In A Silent Way, Miles Davis, 1969. This is when things start to get a little far out for the mundanes. IASW is still recognizably the same kind of creature the early sixties produced, jazzwise, but is also well on its way to something else entirely. Miles and his band — which at this point included household names like John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Chick Corea, and Wayne Shorter — are fully electrified here, which signals the start of a trend for Davis that would reach its apotheosis with his next album (Bitches Brew, only a year later but light years beyond in style and approach) and his live performances in the 1970s (e.g., Black Beauty, Dark Magus, Agharta, and the Cellar Door Sessions that became Live-Evil). N.B. that while Silent Way is listenable for nonfans, dropping the needle on anything after that — especially BB — will clear a motherfucking room. It’s musical durian. Of course, some will stay behind, but you’ll like them enough to open up the good Scotch.

  10. Root Down, Jimmy Smith, 1972. There is little more magical and alive than the sound of Jimmy Smith at a Hammond B3. This live record captures him at his peak. Do NOT miss this one. (It’s also the source for the sample in the Beastie Boys track of the same name. Them kids got taste.)

And two not on the list:

  • On the Corner, Miles Davis, 1972. Bitches Brew meets Funkenstein. I actually like OTC better than BB, but that’s not the “scholarly” opinion. I say check ’em both out.

  • A Tale of God’s Will, Terence Blanchard Quintet, 2007. Like Davis’ Sketches, this is much less improvisational than the rest of the list; jazz isn’t always improv through and through. Blanchard’s reasons here are similar to Davis’ in 1960: he involves an orchestra. His tribute to his hometown of New Orleans — it’s subtitled “A Requiem for Katrina” — will raise goosebumps with its beauty.

Where the GOP goes from here

Frank Rich has much to say on the likely future of the “party of Lincoln.” Hint: the internal Faithful are wildly wrong — and we’re probably worse off for it.

ELECTION junkies in acute withdrawal need suffer no longer. Though the exciting Obama-McCain race is over, the cockfight among the losers has only just begun. The conservative crackup may be ugly, but as entertainment, it’s two thumbs up!


The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.

The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.

On Nov. 4, that’s roughly the sole constituency that remained loyal to the party — minus its wealthiest slice, a previously solid G.O.P. stronghold that turned blue this year (in a whopping swing of 34 percentage points). The Republicans lost every region of the country by double digits except the South, which they won by less than double digits (9 points). They took the South only because McCain, who ran roughly even with Obama among whites in every other region, won Southern whites by 38 percentage points.

Those occasional counties that tilted more Republican in 2008 tended to be not only the least diverse, but also the most rural, least educated and slowest-growing in population. McCain-Palin did score a landslide among white evangelical Christians, though even in that demographic Obama shaved the G.O.P. margin by seven percentage points from 2004.


In defeat, the party’s thinking remains unchanged. Its leaders once again believe they can bamboozle the public into thinking they’re the “party of Lincoln” by pushing forward a few minority front men or women. The reason why they are promoting Palin and the recently elected Indian-American governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, as the party’s “future” is not just that they are hard-line social conservatives; they are also the only prominent Republican officeholders under 50 who are not white men.

And here’s the completely-full-of-truth money shot:

The good news for Democrats is a post-election Gallup poll finding that while only 45 percent of Americans want to see Palin have a national political future (and 52 percent of Americans do not), 76 percent of Republicans say bring her on. The bad news for Democrats is that these are the exact circumstances that can make Obama cocky and Democrats sloppy. The worse news for the country is that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead.

For the Republican Party to avoid brain-death, they pretty much have to tell the religious right to pound sand and adopt actual small-government positions — which means shutting up about gay marriage, immigration, pro-intelligent-design crap, and all the other issues so important to the know-nothing fringe. You see that happening? Me either.

More on Prop 8 Backlash

TBogg nails it, on folks on the right complaining about boycotts targeting individuals and businesses who contributed to Prop 8 passage efforts:

The kind of person who contributes money to deny their fellow citizens their civil rights are not someday magically going to be part of the solution: they’re the problem. These are not people to be reasoned with; they’re ignorant, they’re haters and they’re bigots and the only thing people like that understand is power.

So when they stick their noses in other people’s affairs, they forfeit the right to be considered just another “ordinary person”. They’re involved and they would be foolish to expect that those other people in whose private affairs they have meddled wouldn’t return the favor. As they say: you pays your money and you takes your chances.

The Weekend of Almost Surprises

Another Saturday has come and gone, and it is more or less as it was. Florida continued its domination by handing Spurrier his worst loss EVER and drubbing to the tune of 56 to 6. Alabama played badly for the first half, but still stuffed Mississippi State 32 to 7. The only remaining real test for either squad is now each other in the SEC champtionship game, the winner of which will almost certainly play the Big XII champ in the big game come January.

The almost-surprises were downballot, so to speak. LSU very nearly fell to Troy State; the Tigers were outscored 24 to 3 in the first half. Miles must’ve kicked some serious ass at halftime, though, as the final score was 40 to 31.

It’s not a surprise in either case, but it does please us that both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are bowl-eligable with their wins on Saturday. The Rebels blanked Louisiana-Monroe, 59 to zip, to improve to 6-4, 3-3 SEC. Vandy beat the SEC’s other football whipping boy, Kentucky, in a close one (31-24), and in so doing rise to 6-4, 3-3 SEC — and head to a bowl for the first time in 26 years. (More fun: Vandy could actually beat a demoralized Tennessee next Saturday.)

Texas won (35 to 7 over Kansas), and Texas Tech was idle, so don’t expect much if any movement in the BCS. The finalization of the Big XII could get complicated, since we may see a 3-way-tie in the Big XII South if Oklahoma can deflower the Red Raiders on Saturday. On the other hand, if TT wins out, there’s no drama at all, and they’ll meet the SEC champ in Miami.

New Heathen Comment Policy

You’re going to need to jump through some additional hoops to comment at Heathen. Anonymous comments will require a valid email address; authenticated comments are possible with a TypeKey or LiveJournal account. Spam’s a huge problem, so while I’m sorry to have to make it a bit of a hassle, it’s really the only way I can keep comments open.

More proof Obama is made of Win

President-elect Obama has endorsed an 8-team college football playoff system:

When asked what change he’d make in sports during last week’s Monday Night Football broadcast, Obama said “I think it’s about time we had playoffs in college football. I’m fed up with these computer rankings and this that and the other. Get eight teams — the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a national champion.”

That the money-grubbing BCS presidents disagree is unsurprising.


This will only sting a little. After wrasslin’ for way too long with the terminally unfinished and almost completely unsupported Typo, Longtime Heathen M.A.D. courteously helped us migrate this afternoon the that modern-day hegemon of blogging, Movable Type, and what’s more he’s even hosting it for us. If you can see this post, you’re already here — and as part and parcel of this lovely little migration, feeds ought to work again, too.

All hail Michael for his selfless work here — he custom-coded a Typo-to-MT script for me as part of this deal. Now, enjoy.

Some things will be a little different, and the whole commenting thing will be weird for a bit while I sort out what degree of authentication I want to impose thereon. Since working feeds will allow me to syndicate Heathen via my Facebook presence, I sort of expect comment volume — specifically, angry reactionary Republican comment volume — to spike unless I impose some accountability there. ;)