Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Monthly archives: January 2008


The Biggest Shock of 2008
2008-01-31 20:51
by Scott Long

Sure we are just done with one month, but the voting booth might as well be closed on the most shocking event of the year. On Hannity and Colmes, Ann Coutler announced that she will campaign for Hillary Clinton, if John McCain is the candidate. No really. Watch the video. If Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter can lose their mind over the guy, is it any wonder that I have always liked McCain so much. The second biggest shocker of the year is in the same video, as at the end Alan Colmes demonstrates great timing and is very funny. Truthfully, this incident is the first time I've ever watched Hannity and Colmes and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like the new format, where Ann Coutler fills in for Colmes, as she is far better at ripping Republicans than him, when she wants to do it.

Is it just me or does Ann Coulter kind of look like a hot chick, except for having a John Kerry-like face?



Playing in the World Series and Single A All in the Same Week
2008-01-29 17:22
by Scott Long

If you happen to watch the potentially highest-rated TV event of all-time this Sunday, just know that I was part of the creative team who brought some comedy to the Fox pregame show. 

Tonight I'm performing in North Dakota.  The temperature is predicted to hit a low of 30 below zero and get this, a wind chill factor of 53 below zero.  And I suspect the comedy show will have a large audience.  Oh and by the way, a wind chill of 50 below zero is not something I can explain how it feels.  I can tell you I wished I had my own personal sherpa to get my luggage from my car to the Hotel Lobby. 

Will Carroll Reviews U23D
2008-01-28 21:12
by Scott Long

Scott's Note: I attended the great new IMAX experience film with Will and his wife last Thursday night. I had planned on reviewing the film, as well, but I can't top what Will has offered up, as it's the best review I've read on the film.

It's often hard to separate the medium from the message. McLuhan aside, one of the problems of IMAX has always been the technology itself. Instead of making good films, they made showy ones that were more "wow" than good. It's all well and good to make nature documentaries, to show the Space Shuttle climbing and to feel that 12,000 watt rumble as it does so, but the types of things they did seldom made me want to watch. Yes, it was possible all along, as the found drama of "Everest" proved that emotion was as gripping as any amazing vista. My friend Goldy says that everything can be described in three words and IMAX is "big, pretty Discovery."

It was worse for the IMAX 3D. While the technology obviously worked, the films got further away from good, relying on even more wow. There has been a bit of a shift from Hollywood as technology has made it cheaper and easier to shoot for IMAX 3D. The Harry Potters and Beowulfs of the world have made it more interesting and pulled the good back alongside the wow.

So forgive me if I start by being a bit surprised to see "Entertainment" next to the "National Geographic" logo at the start of this film. It seems more likely that the old National Geographic would have taken shots of whales or kangaroos than Bono and Edge. Instead, the marriage of new 3D technology and good old fashioned rock n' roll make "U23D" the first must see of 2008.

There are some wow moments when Bono first goes Count Floyd and reaches out towards you. Not at the audience, not at the camera, but the technology -- goofy glasses and all -- works, because you flinch. There's some chintzy glitter being thrown to remind you that it's 3D, some amazing crowd shots that give intense depth, and a few more trick shots at the beginning, but by the third song, you've almost forgotten that it's 3D. You're there, in the best seats anyone could ever have. You can see the sweat on Adam Clayton's neck. You can watch the ice melting in Larry Mullen's orange drink. You can really see the subtlety of Edge's magic left hand as he plays the guitar.

And of course, the 3D works wonders for Bono. The consummate frontman has always been the centerpiece, the showman, the preacher, the eye magnet, and he plays the 3D camera as well as his Argentinian crowd. He's been the same larger than life character since I first saw him on the October tour and while he's not nearly as over the top as was demanded of The Fly, he's still most definitely a rock star. At a panel at the World Economic Forum, he introduced himself as "a rockstar, kinda." If he's not, no one is.

So while the movie is a must-see, five-star, tell-your-friends experience, Scott and I left the movie debating whether anyone else could do this. Scott's conceit is that the modern music industry doesn't lend itself to rock stars, to the universal appeal of a band like U2. Is he right or more plainly, who is left to take over the mantle from the great bands of the past thirty years - the U2's, the Springsteen and E Street's, even R.E.M. for a moment.

I think there is. I'm not sure who or how, but there's always going to be a rock star. I'm not sure if it's so much a popstar, though I think that Justin Timberlake might be the Michael Jackson of this era (absent, we hope, the full meltdown and legal problems.) That of course would make Timbaland the Quincy Jones and that might not be far off. Could Coldplay pull this movie off? Could John Mayer? Could Fall Out Boy? Not yet, but I think there will always be at least one band out there that can. The music industry might be falling apart, but it will rebuild itself with music.

So I give this a full-on thumbs up, both for the music and the medium. It's a worthy reason to seek out your closest IMAX venue because you're never going to get closer to the feel of a U2 show than this. I've seen them five times and it surprises me to say that this was the best.

Scott's Note Pt. 2: I give the film a big thumbs up. My only criticism was that the sound should have been louder, as the visuals were far better than you could see if you would have been there, but the lack of volume kept the film from being even greater. Still, it was a completely unique experience.

College Basketball Primer
2008-01-24 23:57
by Scott Long

With my increasingly hectic schedule, I haven't paid as much attention to college basketball as usual. Here are the teams that jumped out at me, after checking out the records.

  • All the experts knew the Pac-10 was as good as it has ever been. So far, the league has exceeded even those lofty expectations. Outside of the stinky Beavers, every other team in the Pac-10 is at least 4 games over .500. It seems like a lock that the league will get 7 NCAA tourney teams, with even an 8th squad joining them, if they can get to 6 wins.
  • Baylor is 16-2 and ranked for the first time in 40 years. The Bears won a 5 overtime game the other night versus A&M. Scott Drew is the leader in the clubhouse for coach of the year. No coach has come into a worse situation than Drew inherited when he came to Waco. Miraculous.
  • Right behind Drew for coach of the year is Keno Davis, who is in his first season as the head man at Drake. The Bulldogs are 17-1 under the son of Dr. Tom Davis. Last year was the first winning season at Drake in 20 years, as a school that used to have a lot of basketball tradition during the 60's and 70's, had become a dismal coaching job. Drake's only loss was to a very good St. Mary's team.
  • The new NBA age restriction rule has brought more quality players to college basketball than I've seen in 15 years. Freshmen will have a bigger impact in the tourney this year than any year in history.
  • Memphis will end up undefeated at the end of the regular season, but will fail to make the Final 4 because they are not prepared for the tourney grind playing in the weak Conference USA.
  • Kentucky is 8-9, while Minnesota is 12-5. Do you think Tubby Smith knew something?
  • Florida lost most of its starting 5 to the NBA and still is 17-3.
  • Speaking of the SEC, both Mississippi schools are actually good.
  • Butler has lost 2 games in the Horizon League and is still ranked 15th in the polls.
  • Indiana has the best inside/outside combo in the nation in D.J.White and Eric Gordon.
  • If I was to pick a Final 4 at this point, I would go with Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Tennessee.
First Annual Juice Blog All Skate
2008-01-23 12:26
by Scott Long

I'm currently swamped with a bunch of projects that actually pay me money.  I know I have slacked here at the Juice Blog, so I wanted to create some activity while I'm finishing up my obligations.  Since this site features any type of subject matter, I'm soliciting points of view on sports, music, television, movies, politics, candy bars, etc.  All I ask is to come strong and don't be afraid to stir it up.  It will be our own little Toaster group study to see how far the comments can go and what different directions they will veer. I will try to weigh-in when I get the opportunity.  Expect new content from me sometime next week.



Hillary Gets Major Boost---Kerry Endorses Obama
2008-01-11 22:59
by Scott Long

The Democrats have selected a lot of lousy candidates to represent the party for President during my lifetime. Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and the guy Al Gore was pretending to be in 2000, but none were worse than John Kerry. I respect Kerry for serving his country in Viet Nam, but after joining the Senate, I can't tell you one more thing that particularly impressed me about him. Well, maybe dating Morgan Fairchild was kind of impressive, but she went out with Alan Cranston, so I have to temper that one a bit.

Kerry ran an awful campaign, losing against the worst President of my lifetime. He only won the Democratic primary because he was up against the weak field of a Governor from Vermont, an extremely dull man from Missouri, and a fairly unknown first term Senator from North Carolina. I would beg to have someone to tase me bro, instead of having to listen to Kerry give a speech. The top 6 Democratic candidates running for President in 2008 all are superior leaders to him. Now Kerry, who amazingly still seems pretty full of himself, bestowed the honor of endorsing Barack Obama on Thursday.

Sure Kerry has a rolodex of voters who gave to his ill-fated campaign, but don't think for a minute that most of them haven't already been identified by the top 3 Dems. Truthfully, if you are running on a message of change and hope, having the John Kerry endorsement ain't gonna help that cause. Considering that Kerry snubbed his former Vice Presidential running mate to endorse Obama doesn't speak much to his integrity. Add to this that no one helped him get out the vote in 2004 more than Bill Clinton and I just think he looks really bad by offering Obama his endorsment. Considering that Kerry generally comes off like a pompous ass to begin with, I don't think he needed to add to it.

If I'm Hillary Clinton I'm ecstatic that Kerry is putting his loser stamp on Obama, as adding an endorsement from an establishment candidate won't help her grow the idea that she has finally found her voice. I don't know who will win between Obama and Clinton, but I'm very confident that John Kerry will have nothing to do with who ends up being the nominee. I do think the stench that this robotic junior Senator from Massachusetts brings to any campaign could hurt Obama in the short-run. Now that the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics look to be the best in their perspective sports, it's good to know that there is still one curse left in the state. John Kerry endorsing you for President is kind of like Yoko Ono endorsing your singing talents. Really, I mean it, tase me bro!

Catch Dan Cummins on Comedy Central this Friday
2008-01-09 21:56
by Scott Long

I highly recommend catching my good friend Dan Cummins' Comedy Central special this Friday night at 10:30 est.  The guy is one of the funniest, most unique comics I've ever seen.  Check out this clip from Dan's special that will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. 

Time to Drug Test the Hall of Fame Writers
2008-01-08 19:56
by Scott Long

So Tim Raines gets 24 percent. One of the greatest leadoff hitters in the history of the game gets less than a quarter of the votes. Guys like Jim Rice and Andre Dawson, who Raines was a superior player to get more than double his percentage. I know I will probably go back on this statement, but I'm going to stop putting any energy to caring what this crew does. If more than 3 out of 4 cannot absorb the immense value that Tim Raines brought to the field, well I have no reason torturing myself trying to understand their lazy ballot stuffing. It appears like Raines will join the list of players like Ron Santo, Bert Blyleven, and, Alan Trammell who should be in Cooperstown, but instead are sitting on the outside. I'm glad the deserving Goose Gossage was chosen, but why it took the writers 9 years to finally pull the trigger doesn't make them look too good on that front, either.

For a long time, the front office executives and managers of the game didn't really understand how much sabermetrics impacted the bottom line. Now there is a lot better understanding by the people who run the game, but far too many Hall of Fame voters fail this test. Today's vote was just another example of this. Once again the majority of eligible voters that determine who will be inducted into Cooperstown let the ball roll between their legs. My term for baseball Hall of Fame voters from now on will be Buckners.

The Jucie Blog Top Releases of 2007 (Scott's Picks)
2008-01-05 13:43
by Scott Long

I spent a lot of time watching music documentaries this year, as VH-1 Classic became my new favorite channel. (I highly recommend the great 7 part series done by the BBC called 7 Ages of Rock, if you want to learn about the greatest bands in music history and how they fit into different genres). It was on the Sundance Channel's Live at Abbey Road documentary that I figured out the best way to describe my approach for what constitutes the reason a band/artist would make my list. On this show, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers discussed how music works for him. He offered up that The Clash's Sandinista record was one of his favorites, as its political message moved him. He added, though, that a record like Van Halen II was just as important to him, even though it had no such intellectual message. While for me using London Calling and Women and Children First would have been better examples, I really dug the sentiment. I'm not Clive Davis, but I highly respect the hook element of songs, as it is a lot easier to write a critically acclaimed record than it is to write one that is a big seller. The ultimate for me is when these 2 factors merge and you get a White Album, Who's Next, or, Nevermind.. My music guide prefers the Replacements Tim to Let It Be or Bob Mould's work with Sugar over Husker Du. My favorite artists are the one's who sell-out and still make artistically rich records. I 'm more Rick Rubin than Pitchfork.

1. Fall Out Boy- Infinity on High

The Emo genre is filled with more crap than any rock genre of all-time and that includes rap-rock and hair metal. Outside of Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American, I can't think of one Emo record that I think would have been in any of my Top 10 year end lists. After making the only other Emo recording I really liked, From Under the Cork Tree, its follow-up shows Fall Out Boy pointing to center field, swinging from their heels and damned if they don't hit it out of the park. (This last sentence qualifies this piece as a baseball piece.) The singing of Patrick Stump is what truly makes this a special record. The guy can funk it up, rock out with his c--k out (well, that image fits Pete Wentz better), and even do the new romantic 80's style ballad (Golden recalls early Depeche Mode).. I compare him to Elton John in his prime, as he doesn't look the part, but he can sing about any type of genre and make it a standout. Who would have guessed that Babyface would produce 2 of the best pop/rock songs of 2007, but both This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race and Thnks fr th Mmrs livened up a really lousy year on the radio. While the rest of the releases on my list would give me more cool points at Pitchfork, Infinity on High was the only one that managed to be a great record from beginning to finish, while at the same time entertain the masses. It ain't American Idiot, but it is the best overall record of 2007.

2. Against Me!- New Wave

It is always fun when an indie punk band decides to try to reach a larger audience. Sure you are risking alienating your audience, but do you want to spend the rest of your lives in a van going from gig to gig just barely surviving? The best case scenario in this situation is to write some great message songs, while having Butch Vig put a slick gloss of production on the finished product. Bad Religion meets Cheap Trick, as Against Me should move up to a tour bus after this great rock record. Unlike his obvious rock heroes like Joe Strummer and Billy Bragg, singer Tom Gabel shows a sense of humor with his message, as White People for Peace demonstrates. Against Me! rocks power-punk here like the Hoodoo Gurus did during their prime.

3. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky

Welcome back Pt. 1. Wilco made one of the best records of the past 15 years in 1996's Being There. While critics went crazy for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth, these were vastly overrated works to my ears. I kind of had given up on Jeff Tweedy ever reaching the levels of Being There. Sky Blue Sky is not an Americana classic, but his singing and writing has never been better. Sky Blue Sky reminds me of what a John Lennon release in 2007 would be like. High praise, but the weary voice Tweedy brings has an aching quality which combines exquisite guitar sound that rings throughout this wonderful record.

4.Radiohead- In Rainbows

Welcome back Pt. 2. For quite awhile now, I've been lamenting the loss of Radiohead, the rock band. While many see them as imitators, I have been trumpeting Muse, as they have taken the Radiohead formula and moved it to its most bombastic extremes, making for superior records than Kid A, Kid B, or Kid C. In Rainbows shows Radiohead going the opposite direction, with the band exploring a quiet, almost trip-hop sound. It works great, as the band has written some of its best songs since OK Computer and has kept out much of the space rock that has limited theimselves from connecting with a larger audience. Much like Pearl Jam, Radiohead seemed to recoil away from the spotlight, as they had no interest in being the biggest Rock band in the world. Becoming another U-2 seemed to be Radiohead's birthright after their classic records, The Bends and OK Computer, but they instead decided to explore soundscapes and focus on a connection with their most rabid fans. Many touted Hail to the Thief as their return, but it lacked the beauty that was so much a major component in their best music. In Rainbow finds the band someplace between their classic releases and Thom Yorke's fine solo record, Eraser. Taking a step back is not always bad, as sometimes it helps you connect with what you do best. I look forward to seeing what Radiohead's next move will be as I'm excited that they are truly back making music with some stong song-writing principles.

5. New Pornographers- Challengers

This Canadian group has always been more of a singles act to me. Their previous release, Twin Cinema, was lauded by many critics, but it was a big disappointment to me, as the hooks didn't hook me. I actually had liked band members Neko Case and A.C. Newman's solo works better. Not anymore, as the great indie pop record they always had in them finally came together with Challengers. The harmonies, the hooks, the strings, it has song after song that makes me wish I had the money to buy an AM radio station and play these 70's singles right next to 10cc, Stealers Wheel, Big Star, and The Rasberries.

6.Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Back in the 90's, when Spoon was seen as a second-rate Pavement, it would have been hard to imagine they would be the the big deal and Stephen Malkmus would be kicking around an up and down solo career. Their previous release, Gimme FIction, put them on the map, but I think it is my least favorite of the excellent past 4 albums they have put out since 2001. If you are unfamiliar with them, British falsetto and the clap heavy percussion brings funk to their unique sound. This is the formula for Spoon and while I don't like Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga as much as 2002's Kill the Moonlight, it still demands attention on any list of the best of 2007.

7.White Stripes- Icky Thump

The only group that has put out more great records than Spoon this decade is Jack and Meg White's band. When you add the top-notch work he did with The Raconteurs and Loretta Lynn, Jack White has become the most important figure in music today. Every time I wonder how they will be able to tweak their basic sound enough to keep things fresh, the Stripes add bagpipes and some flamenco horns and bam they sound just as fresh as ever. Jack White knows how to make music sound like it was recorded in the 60's, but with all the dynamics of today. Like Spoon, Icky Thump isn't their best work, but it still charts highly in 2007.

8.1990's- Cookies

If you want to hear the greatest Kinks record since State of Confusion, look no further than the 1990's. I'm a fan of Louis XIV, but they are more of singles band, where the 1990's made a complete recording of 60's Brit-pop of the Kinks done with the arena rock polish of the Kinks of the 80's. I really dig the Scottish music scene with bands like Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, The Fratelli's, Mogwai, Paolo Nutini, and The View all making interesting music. The 1990's might have a retro sound, but it is the most infectious record I heard all year.

9. The National- Boxer

The lo-fi record of the year, Matt Beringer's low register voice brings a weariness to these passionate songs like if Leonard Cohen could really sing. I hear flourishes that remind me of the best work of Mark Eitzel and the Joy Division/Bauhaus instrumentation on most of it makes the Boxer a gloom rock classic.

10. Miranda Lambert- Gunpowder and Lead

This was the year that many critics found Miranda Lambert. A discovery on the USA Network's Nashville Star, her debut was hit or miss, but the single, Kerosene, just might be the best country song of this decade. While this record doesn't have a single on the level of Kerosene and isn't as good overall as 2006's Taking the Long Way by the DIxie Chicks, it is 2007's best release by any solo artist, either rock or country. I should mention that Lambert is a sexy little package of pure blonde bombshell. Kind of like if Jessica Simpson wasn't manufactured and had talent and brains. Keep Tony Romo away from her, please!

11. Dan Wilson- Free Life

I will start my review of this record using a quote by Wilson on who his influences are."

I'm heavily influenced by Joni Mitchell, Eddie Money, Beatles, Radiohead, Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Neil Young. I'm lightly but happily influenced by Smashing Pumpkins, Elliot Smith, Bryan Adams, Pat Metheny, REM, Sigur Ros

Any artist that puts Eddie Money, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis in his list of major influences is someone I'm guessing I'm going to dig. In Dan Wilson's case, I have since his days fronting the cirminally underrated band, Semisonic. While Free Life is not quite on the level of his work with Semisonic, it has a trancendent quality that few artists can manage. While many think of him as the guy that did Closing Time, Wilson won a Grammy last year for song of the year for Not Ready to Make Nice, which he wrote with the Dixie Chicks. One of the other great songs he wrote for their album, Easy Silence, he covers on Free Life. In a year that was weak for singer/songwriter types, Free Life is a dreamy gem you should take a listen to.

12, Kid Rock- Rock and Roll Jesus

Before the year started, if I would have known Fall Out Boy would sit on the top of my list I would have been pretty surprised. A bigger shock would have been Kid Rock being anywhere on my list. I know Bob Ritchie is not a guy who screams musical integrity and he might have the least range of a singer since David Lee Roth, but like Diamond Dave, the dude does have charisma and knows how to bring it to his music. Devil without a Cause was one of the best releases of 1998, but since then he has really put out a lot of crap. Working with producer Rob Cavallo must have helped him shape what he does best, as he has written quite possibly the best pure rock song of the year in So Hott, which brings sex and sonics together like a Monster Magnet classic. While there are a few clunkers on the record, as his Bocephus meets Bob Seger balladry is drug down by the fact the guy has no real talent for it, the uptempo songs are great, using soulful female backup singers like he is recording Gimme Shelter. Any guy who gets this much high-quality tail, puts out a quality record, and punches Tommy Lee in the jaw... all in one year...must be living a charmed life.

13. Rilo Kiley- Under the Blacklight

While many like the solo work of Jenny Lewis, I think she is at her best with Rilo Kiley, as the band really pushes her creativity. While 2004's More Adventurous is a smarter record, Under the Blacklight is a lot more fun. Who says folk-rock with disco flourishes don't make for a great melding of styles. Check out their Moneymaker video, where Jenny slithers. It also features a guy (Tommy Gunn) who looks like the porn version of Jim Rome. Rack him!

14. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible

An improvement over the overrated Funeral, Arcade Fire has done something much like the Killers, as their 80's romantic vocal tones have been roughed up here and been given a bit of a Springsteen makeover. I get why so many critics and dudes in the 30-45 age range love them so much, as Arcade Fire reminds them a lot of their old college radio station. It is the second part of their album that really starts to connect with me, as their sound is stripped down a little more and the music fits the ache of the lyrics. I would suggest to Arcade Fire they listen to Sky Blue Sky for a template on what would really make their songs shine.

15. Amy Winehouse- Back to Black/Joan Osbourne- Breakfast in Bed

No song hit me harder this year than the first time I heard Rehab. I thought that i heard a classic Motown/Stax lost single. Then I discovered that it was done by some young British booze-hound who outside of the bee-hive hairdo and the Eartha Kitt makeup looked nothing like the girl I expected to produce this great voice. The second single, You Know I'm No Good, was almost as revelatory. The production work by Mark Ronson was just as important as the vocals in creating a White Stripes-like experience, but in this specific case bringing retro-sounding soul, not rock, with more modern dynamics. Back to Black starts to fade by the second half, but the first 2 singles alone make it deserving to be on this list.
I'm sure Joan Osbourne could give some tips on what it is like to be the flavor of the month, as her debut single, One of Us, was one of the best songs of 1995. Since then, she has tried to make her way home, like a holy rolling stone. She seemed to regain some of her heat stealing the show in 2002's concert tribute film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Breakfast in Bed further explores her talents at singing blue-eyed soul music, with her covers of Kiss and Say Goodbye and Sara Smile definite highlights. Unlike Winehouse she doesn't have the tabloid life or youthful sass, but Osbourne has more depth to her offerings and sings like a woman, not a girl. I would love to hear what she could do with a producer like Ronson, as the the record has a little too much of a Don Was/Bonnie Raitt sound. It still is well-worth picking up, though.

Final Thoughts

It is sad to me what is happening in music, as artists are becoming singles machines. Similar to the 50's, when 45's were king, now downloads have left the long playing release a second class citizen. I was really disappointed by hip hop in 2007, as my list denotes. The biggest disappointment was Bruce Springsteen's Magic, which was so overproduced it destroyed the orgainc feel that makes the E Street Band, Sure, Springsteen has used the Wall of Sound approach on a lot of his records, but this time Brendan O'Brien has recorded the thing so loudly that all the instruments blend into each other. A few songs are so good that they transcend this overproduction, but not many. By the way, I'm only giving partial blame to O'Brien, as I figure the Boss ididn't just sit by quietly and let him make all the decisions on how the record sounds.


Best of 2007 Music List (Part 1)
2008-01-04 22:25
by Scott Long

Two of America's Top Music Critics have offered up their Top 10 Lists for 2007 exclusively for the Juice Blog. I'm talking about Will Carroll and Mark Donohue. Will and I have been making these lists for awhile and I asked Mark, who has been writing on music for the great website, Nude as the News. Will has some surprises on his list, Mark has the type of list I expected he would. We discover that Mark is such a music freak that he is one of those guys who still buys vinyl. I will post mine on Saturday afternoon. Top Ten Albums of 2007


When I was making this list, I realized a couple things. First, it was a terrible year for music. There's nothing on this list that says that music as a business is headed in the right direction or that there's any one standout album. I'm not sure even the best of them would have cracked some past lists and there's certainly nothing approaching the revelatory album of the decade, American Idiot. Second, there's nothing alike on this list. None of these things are at all like the others, but before you accuse me of eclectic hipster pseudo-snobbery, it's just a quirk. That said, it wasn't a lack of good albums that failed us, just a lack of great ones. If this had been a Top 20 list instead of just ten, the difference between #2 and #18 wouldn't have been that far off. Solid albums from Fall Out Boy, Bruce Springsteen, Leann Rimes, Prince, Lupe Fiasco, Dierks Bentley and Kanye West were just barely off. I also hate leaving Miranda Lambert's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" off the list, but it's just not QUITE there, though I highly recommend it. No, this list reflects what many of us have to do. Absent the great, we're left picking the bones of every genre looking for something with feeling, something that resonates with more than the latest fashion, and something that, yes, has a beat and we can dance to.

1. Guitar Hero III - Soundtrack
Quibble with me over the fact that this isn't an "album." Use your own definitions on your own list, pal. It's an indictment of the music industry that many are left to the dearly departed OiNK and Bit Torrent sites to find their own versions of this album. The game itself is just a cooler version of Dance Dance Revolution, an excuse to fuel up all the metalhead fantasies we all have buried. It's fun, it's loud, it's obnoxious, and it's addictive. There's problems here - some of the covers, especially "Pride And Joy", are painful. What's great is that a "classic" like "Rock You Like A Hurricane" becomes just a song again. It's okay to pump your fist or waggle your tongue Gene Simmons-style as long as you keep hitting the notes. For a little while, you are Slash or Tom Morello or even just that guy you wanted to be when you still thought Motley Crue was cool. You remember ... even if you'll only admit it with the curtains drawn and the game on easy. Guitar Hero makes music both fun and immersive, something a lot of albums (and labels) seem to have long since forgotten.

2. Friday Night Lights - Soundtrack

I was late to the party on Friday Night Lights, the TV show, but I'm glad I showed up. The pitch-perfect West Texas parable is accompanied by a great soundtrack. The best of these, the bastard step-children of Jerry Bruckheimer's over-the-top 80's gloss, have become mixtapes to the fans from the creators. Grey's Anatomy does it as well as anyone, with a slot on that hit show a near-Oprah-level guarantee of sales. What Friday Night Lights, the soundtrack does, is remain true to the show. You'll remember the moments where the songs came in - the season-bracketing drawl of Tony Lucca's cover of "Devil Town" tastes like Permian Basin dust in my mouth while "So Divided" is as cathartic a moment on the album as it was in fictional Dillon. The best soundtracks take us back to moments, enhancing and pushing the drama forward. Even without the visuals, this soundtrack works as well as any television soundtrack ever has.

3. All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone - Explosions In The Sky
Like most, I'm not sure what to make of EITS as a band. They're something shy of an American Sigur Ros and something more than the atmospheric noodlings of Godspeed You Black Emperor. They've added more piano to their sound, which seems a bit tighter and less spatial - something that likely came as a result of their scoring of Friday Night Lights, the TV show. They're still unbelievably textured yet far from overproduced. The lyrical high-tone Fender that is their trademark rings like Edge's American cousin at times and at others, it merely seeks its own level within the song. It's not for everyone and not for every mood - it's jarring to catch one of these songs on your iPod's shuffle. Instead, it's an album rewarded by concentration, even meditation, something that's overlooked and even denigrated in a music world that's only as experimental as Timbaland's next beat.

4. As I Am - Alicia Keys
I spent two weeks in New York City during October. The city is bigger than me, Joe Sheehan reminded me, but he didn't need to. On the second day I was there, I was strolling down 8th Avenue towards Chelsea Market when I noticed a sign for "Hell's Kitchen Diner." I paused a moment, visions of "The Warriors" coming to my head. It took me about two more heartbeats to realize that Hell's Kitchen wasn't much different than the six blocks previous and that I could continue walking without some bat-toting gangster cracking me in the skull. It just reminded me that the liner notes touting that Alicia Keys grew up in Hell's Kitchen are pretty empty. Luckily, her music is anything but empty. She's the opposite of Britney Spears, keeping her music first, making a good (if underrated) movie, and never letting her relationship hit the tabloids. It's hard to say that this album is better than her first three; it's just more complete. She sprung full-blown into existence, but she's continuing to mature as an artist. "Like You'll Never See Me Again" should come with a condom. Keys said during her "Iconoclasts" show that she wants to sing each time as if it's her last. It shows.

5. Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
It's NOT as good as "Gimme Fiction," but Hemingway wasn't as good as Fitzgerald either. This time around, the Austin band (hmm, three Texas based albums in the top five was not intentional ...) is a bit more spare and a bit more playful. It's not a bad thing, but the dramatic tightness that made the first half of "Gimme Fiction" so revelatory simply never shows up here. Instead, it's the looseness that marks this album. The guys seem to be playing more, letting things run. It's not so much production as it is performance, which comes out well here. The manic start of "The Ghost Of You Lingers" is followed by a down-mixed vocal which can barely be understood. It's a move more expected from The Flaming Lips, but it's just the first of a series of tricks that don't come off as illusion. "The Underdog" adds horns to the shuffling acoustic guitar in what could be the best song on another great addition to Spoon's catalog.

6. Make Sure They See My Face - Kenna
It's hard to criticize Timbaland in one breath and praise Chad Hugo in the next, but I will. Kenna had this act down in 2003 and a re-listen to his seminal New Sacred Cow reminds us that being ahead of one's time seldom has much reward. This isn't as good, as revelatory, or even as interesting, but compared to so much other music that might sound similar on first listen, Kenna and Hugo have come up with an evolutionary step that might not be noticed. While Justin Timberlake is playing the Elvis part, Kenna is the Chuck Berry of modern electronic pop. It's far from a perfect analogy, but songs like "Out Of Control" or "Sun Red Sky Blue" could play on any radio station, satellite or terrestrial, that fancies itself pop or rock ... and yet it won't. Malcolm Gladwell wrote of Kenna's Dilemma in his book, Blink, but the dilemma is still in place. America's not ready in the broad sense for this music, even though it likes things very similar. It's the dis-ease that lurks just below the surface, a cognitive dissonance that Kenna can't overcome by an SNL gig. Don't be one of the ones that misses out on a solid album. In 2010, we'll be quoting it with hits.

7. The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse - The Besnard Lakes
Yeah, this instead of The Arcade Fire. The flames should go in the box to the left. Ok, so how do I put one Montreal-sound album in the list and completely leave off everyone's All-American. (It's a phrase, Canadian friends ...) Not everything works and yes, it's as busy and pieced together as anything else out of Quebec. The married couple at the heart of the Lakes trade off vocals, a discontinuity that can be unsettling as you're trying to find a niche in the music for yourself, but that unsettling quality is what pushes this album. When the muffled drive-through vocals interrupt "And You Lied To Me," just before a blazing two-guitar attack takes the song from an Ennio Morricone pop-mumble over to a David Gilmour meets Neil Young lighter-waver, the music is able to take you exactly - exactly! - where the artists intended. There's a purpose to the production here. Is it richly layered and overslick? Yes, but this might not work any other way. Where Arcade Fire and its imitators would layer on something quirky, the Lakes are putting down another four tracks of distorted six-string or echoing vocals to re-create Pet Sounds era Brian Wilson. Wilson has become a strong influence on rock over the past few years, but while Dark Horse won't hold up the way that Pet Sounds did, it's nice to hear that good music can still come out of the sandbox.

8. Fear Of A Blank Planet - Porcupine Tree

Part Rush, Part King's X, Part Spinal Tap. That's an odd mix, but Porcupine Tree -- possibly the worst name for a band since ... well a long time -- pulls it off. They rush (no pun intended) back and forth between a Rush/King Crimson progressive mix, which is no surprise since both Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp guest here, but also mix in an atmospheric quality that recalls something between Pink Floyd and Sigur Ros. Seventeen minute songs don't often occur in music these days as iTunes shifts us back to a singles-based music economy, but few could actually pull off holding on to the concept as they do here. When Lifeson's guitar comes in, it's as if we found the missing link between "Tom Sawyer" and "Paranoid Android", a moment of musical epiphany. Even the title speaks to the odd amalgam that Porcupine Tree has pushed and in being almost completely singular, they've managed to take all their obvious influences, pair them up with ones that aren't so obvious, and come up with an original sound, an original work, and an original concept. That's pretty, well, original.

9. Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

On first listen, there's nothing that should work here. The high-tone, almost too-perfect soprano of Alison Krauss goes well with Vince Gill (who's quadruple album just barely missed the list), but she's never been mistaken for the Hammer of the Gods. So why does it work? The shuffling Everly Brothers song that I first heard on the radio doesn't show off the pairing that well. It takes a couple listens before coming to a couple realizations. First, the duet isn't the focus. Yes, both Plant and Krauss are in fine voice here, but this is a T-Bone Burnett album. He's used Krauss to great effect before, but here's she's just another instrument in the mix. Once you get past the names and faces on the cover, you'll feel better. Second, there's more in common between the vocalists than we would have expected. Listening to Krauss echo "Immigrant Song" at the start of "Trampled Rose" or hear the harmonies dance on "Please Read The Letter" and you'll get it. It just takes some time.

10. Icky Thump - White Stripes

There are moments where the thick fuzz of Jack White's guitar has never been better. There are moments where the quirky road that White always wants to take us on veers towards disaster. It's never boring, even if you don't always so much enjoy the ride as experience it. Nothing on the album matches the screaming power of the title track and in fact, nothing approaches it. White runs all his normal genres, from blistering post-punk to neo-traditional country to acoustic plaintive ballad, yet seems fresher on this than he has since Elephant. There are down moments as well, ones that make this just barely scratch the list. "Conquest" is camp, with the normal varying mileage. "You Don't Know What Love Is" comes off as just a bit too close to Bad Company's "Shining Star" for my comfort. It's all homers or strikeouts here, but White is one of few people in music these days, like Prince or Ryan Adams, who are talented enough that you never fault them their misses when you know there will be a moment that will make you forgive them anything.


Mark T.R. Donohue Top 10

In alphabetical order:
Architecture in Helsinki- Places Like This
An absolute gas of a new wave party album, designed to get heads bobbing from the first listen but with surprising depth in its lyrics and emotional content. Frontman Cameron Bird's adenoidal howl sounds like Australia's answer to Fred Schneider but on songs like "Hold Music" and "The Same Old Innocence" Bird's tentative embrace of modernity channels higher 80's royalty still -- it's as if David Byrne hadn't completely lost his sense of humor in 1987 and then decided to start from scratch again with an enthusiastic, coed group of fledgling musicians.

Battles- Mirrored
Guitarist/keyboardist/master song titler Ian Williams' later work with the once-great Don Caballero and then the obnoxiously oblique Storm & Stress hardly suggested he had a smash hit in him, but in Battles he seems completely invigorated. In collaboration with former Helmet drummer John Stanier, whose pummeling tom and piccolo snare work gives even Mirrored's electronically altered compositions solid form, and the totally gone Tyondai Braxton, Williams and Battles first delivered the undeniably hook-laden "Atlas" (history's first seven-minute prog-rock instrumental instant mixtape classic) and followed it up with a record that sometimes sounds like John Fahey played at 78 ("Tonto") and sometimes sounds like Atari Teenage Riot kicking Gastr Del Sol's ass ("Leyendecker"). It's not for everyone, sure, but if you have even the very least interest in avant-garde rock this is like the Reign in Blood or Millions Now Living Will Never Die of the genre.

Bela Karoli- Furnished Rooms
For the second year in a row the burgeoning Denver scene has spit out a record totally worthy of being mentioned among the year's best, and I couldn't be happier, since that happens to be where I live. What's more, the ghostly, feminine Bela Karoli sound absolutely nothing like last year's local champs, the banjo-trombone-and-kitchen sink indie rockers Everything Absent or Distorted. Upright bassist Julie Davis murmurs overtly literary lyrics in a spooky, clipped tone while accordionist Brigid McAuliffe echoes her uncertainly with longer, sweeter harmonies. All this is set to skittering, convention-ignoring looped beats that at once infuriate and intoxicate with their failure to resolve.

Dear and the Headlights- Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
This Phoenix-based quintet provides pleasant, lived-in rock and roll with the tasty central hook of a frontman who can actually sing and lyrics that belie the band's rather unfortunate song titles ("Oh No," "Grace," "Hallelujah" -- NOT the Leonard Cohen song). I keep comparing them to people to Counting Crows and people look at me back like that's an insult. What's wrong with Counting Crows? Their first album was really good!

The Frames- The Cost
I will never understand how this band, Ireland's second most popular, hasn't carved out more of a following stateside after 15 years of quality work. Frontman Glen Hansard has recently attained some notoriety thanks to the film Once (one of the highlights from The Cost is an arrangement of the movie's "Falling Slowly" greatly enlivened by Colm Mac An Iomaire's shivery violin), but not enough of the Once cult has gotten on board with Hansard's band. It beats me why -- after a few albums that perhaps drank too deeply from American indie rock and the let's-replace-drummers-with-laptops movement, The Cost is a live-in-the-studio-feel album with some simply beautiful tunes, particularly the 5/4 "When Your Mind's Made Up" and the stark "Bad Bone." Highly suggested as a counterweight to those who found the naked overemoting of the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible too much to take.

Manu Chao- La Radiolina
The French/Spanish polyglot is a huge star in South America, due in no small part to a touring band (featuring the godlike Madjid Fahem on electric and nylon-string guitar) that eats men's souls. Odd, then, that Chao's first two American albums were lo-fi affairs that mostly used canned, stiff backing arrangements and rocked out hardly if at all. La Radiolina comes closer to matching the accelerator-mashing pace of Chao's live shows, with light island ska passages jump-shifting into punk forcebeats. Stylistically, that means that the album tends to repeat and double back on itself rather often -- a device that North American audiences may misinterpret as lack of originality. In fact, part of the genius of Chao's cosmpolitan synthesis of the musics of many worlds is the way he uses simple, repeated motifs. This isn't a record to divide, but to unite, and by the end of it you may find yourself speaking in tongues, as Chao drifts through Spanish, French, English, Portugese, Basque, and several North African languages in his lyrics.

Radiohead- In Rainbows
The album may well merit placement on end-of-year lists merely for the unique circumstances of its release. But let's put that aside for a second. Is Radiohead getting old or boring? Not in the least. In Rainbows isn't a dramatic change from its predecessor, Hail to the Thief, but songwriting (as opposed to soundscape-creating) has reclaimed a place of prominence in Radiohead's project, helped along by the unlikely device of Thom Yorke's underrated solo electronic record of last year. They're doing ballads again ("Nude"), which is great news, and the way the electronics embellish rather than overwhelm the rock instruments is an overdue refinement -- drummer Phil Selway finally sounds like he's working for his money. Frankly, by making the first track one in 5/4, they had me hooked. I'm a sucker for 5/4.

Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I have been listening to Spoon on and off since 1996, but I have never been particularly impressed with any of their records until this one. Perhaps Britt Daniel will never learn to write songs from the heart instead from the head, but he's gotten absolutely fantastic at faking emotion when necessary ("Don't Make Me a Target"). Every Spoon album has at least one marvelous song on it, but for the first time there isn't any filler to be found and the heights -- "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb," "Finer Feelings," "Don't You Evah," "Black Like Me" -- are the highest they've ever reached.

Ween- La Cucaracha
I kept trying to talk myself out of including this one on the list, since to all intents and purposes it's "just another Ween album," but who am I kidding -- three months, six months, two years from now, what from 2007 am I still going to be listening to? I'll tell you what -- La Cucaracha. "With My Own Bare Hands" is some of the raunchiest rock Deaner and Gener have ever laid down, "Woman and Man" sounds like side one of Led Zep's Presence dipped in acid, and the so-saccharine-it's-awesome "Your Party" has David Sanborn, of all people, wailing on the sax. All bow before Boognish!

Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
You can put every other record above this one in any order you like, but hands down this is the best album of 2007 and is quickly becoming one of my favorites of all time. Jeff Tweedy has been completely in control of his muse for a while now, but not since Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne has he played with a better attuned group of musicians -- and the addition of the virtuosic Nels Cline gives his music a guitar-hero dimension it's never had before. There may not be another songwriter in the world apart from Tweedy who can set out to write a song as nakedly "inspirational" as "What Light" and knock the thing out of the park. Not since Television in their heyday have electric guitars sung together more beautifully than on "Impossible Germany." Cline's delicious lap steel playing on "Walken" alone is worth twice the price of the CD (which is what the vinyl edition costs, hint, hint). It might not have been a great year for music apart from this record, but Sky Blue Sky alone made 2007 worth remembering.

Playofff Picks
2008-01-04 22:13
by Scott Long

Take Redskins (+4), Take Giants (+3) and definitely take Titans (+10). How's that for detailed analysis. Now back to breaking down the economy. Hey, you don't see Ben Bernanke pick games online, do you?

The Iowa Caucus
2008-01-03 09:15
by Scott Long

For the first 21 years of my life, I lived in the state of Iowa. Since most of the readers here are from the Coasts, I thought I would give you a little background on the people who will be having a major impact on who ends up becoming the next President of the United States.

Iowa is a very homogenous place. More than 94% of the people are Whiteys. The more important part about its ethnic makeup is you are pretty much the same type of person, as long as English is your first language. (Less than 4% of Iowans are Hispanic.) People don’t wear there ethnicity on its sleeve, which is why the food generally sucks. If you want to experience exotic cuisine, go to Applebee’s. The positive tradeoff is that there is little crime and most people get along with each other pretty well. The stress levels are pretty low, as traffic reports don’t truly exist, except in the state capital of Des Moines and the Quad Cities.

Iowans rank number 1 overall in SAT scores and number 9 in ACT scores, so there is a real tradition of emphasizing education. This goes along with the homogenous theme of the state, as there isn’t as big of range between the highly educated and uneducated that occurs on the Coasts. It generally has the highest high school graduation rates in the nation. The similar levels of education are probably why there is also a smaller gap in wealth than what I’ve experienced in the rest of the country.

During my formative years, citizens of the state were not as caught up in pop culture as most Americans, but with the advent of cable television and the internet, people under the age of 30 dress the same way as people do on the coasts. While classic rock still rules the airwaves in Iowa, it isn’t that much different in most other major American cities, at least if you don’t include Hispanic stations.

While Iowa is a more religious place than is the case with you heathens who live on the Coast’s, it is not a real bible-thumping type of place. The citizens tend to keep their religious feelings to themselves..

I’m sure from the info I have listed, your stereotypes of Iowans are still pretty much intact. Here are a few things I would mention that you probably wouldn’t guess. The state is bordered by the Mississippi River (East side) and the Missouri River (West). The topography is rolling hills in the majority of the state. I have traveled extensively and it’s my belief it is the least flat state in the Midwest. While not as beautiful as upper Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, it still has some gorgeous places, especially by Dubuque.

While agriculture is a major part of the overall economy for the state, most Iowans have no experience with farming. I have never touched a pig that wasn’t packaged first. I’ve never milked a cow, though I am pretty familiar with the general motion which is needed. The only time I’ve ever picked corn is out of a basket in the grocery store. While it is true that Iowans have farms surrounding them, most of them work the same type of crappy job that people in the rest of the country have to do.

Hopefully that gives you a little bit of an idea of what Iowa is like. I’m sure most of you hate the idea that this state (and also New Hampshire) has so much say in what ends up happening in our political process. Sure Iowa is filled with a lot of old white people in rural areas to have this much impact on national politics, but some state has to be first and I don’t think there are too many others that would serve the Nation much better. The citizens are well-educated and take their civic duties seriously. The state is generally a toss-up state, as no party seems to ever control it. I do think one important thing about the first caucus or primary state is that it should be small enough that the candidates have to deal with rural voters and not just market themselves to a major cities. By being forced to press theflesh on a daily basis, it causes these politicians to have to answer specific questions and not always stay on message. For all the negatives of the process, this is one of the good things about the Iowa caucus.

Now let’s get to the strange world of the caucus. My last year in Iowa, I went to a caucus and was for Bruce Babbitt (look him up) who didn't have the magical 15 percent needed to be eligible in at my site. The next step is for the people that are representing the candidates who are over 15 percent to tell you why you should come over to their side. This will be the case in most precincts in Iowa, with the Big 3 candidates trying to sell the Biden, RIchardson, Dodd, etc fans to come over and join them. Yeah, I know it's weird, but it really makes politics a much more interactive experience. Kind of like the Wii of political voting.

Here is my hypothesis of how the Iowa caucus will turn out. I haven't lived in the state since 1988, but I think I have a good feel for how the state works. Here are my capsule comments.


Barack Obama- He is the slight favorite, according to the polls. Didya notice what I wrote earlier about the state having very few citizens of color? When Obama won the senate race in the neighboring state of Illinois, he was running against a complete wackjob, Alan Keyes, who seemed to share only one trait. The same color skin. I know many of you are uncomfortable with the discussion of race here, but it is the most interesting feature of this caucus, as it will show if white people who most likely have had limited, at best, exposure to black people, will choose him over 6 other white candidates. Add to this, that the state is typical of the Plains states, with the average age of the citizens skewing older and I really question if the youngest person in the race can deliver the numbers he needs.
My personal beef with Obama is that he speaks in broad generalities about change and a new direction, but rarely do I hear him discuss what he will do to make this happen.

Hillary Clinton- Believe it or not, Hillary is doing better in Iowa than I expected she would. Considering that Iowans are bombarded by politicians and their ads during most of 2007 and you can really get sick of people. I always thought that this would be the downfall of Hillary, as no matter how substantive she is on the issues, she just doesn't wear well. The former first lady has done a great job overall of modulating her voice to not get into the shrill register that is an easy place for her to visit. Her wishy-washy answer on immigration during a debate in November really slammed the brakes on the inevitable belief that she would be crowned as the Democratic nominee. Let's be honest: The only reason she is in the position she is in is because the 22nd Amendment doesn't allow Bill to run again. He is also the only reason she has anywhere close to the amount of support that she has, as a vote for her is hopefully a vote for him. Our Democratic system is great, but the 22nd Amendment needs to be fixed, as the person I'm guessing 60 percent of the country would vote for is ineligible. If I was to tinker with the amendment, I would allow a 2-term President to run again, after an 8 year hiatus. Just thought you would like to know.

John Edwards- When I initially heard John Edwards speak on one of the Sunday news programs in 2000, I thought the guy was the Ken-doll that many still portray him as. By the time he started his first run for the Presidency in 2004, I changed my mind on the guy. He is one of the most charismatic politicians of my lifetime and the heartbreak of losing a son and his wife's battle with cancer gives him a depth that doesn't exist in a lot of other men who look like him. He has become much more liberal in his politics this time around, which was the only position for him to run in. No matter what the Right tells you, Hillary has followed the Clinton gameplan on being a moderate Democrat on most issues. Obama is harder to describe politically because he rarely freaking talks about concrete issues, but his constant stump speech of wanting to bring both sides together sounds like moderate politics. In his past, Edwards was right there in the Moderate camp, which is what you would have to be to win a Senate campaign in North Carolina. There is no way you could run as more moderate than Hillary or Obama in the caucus and win, so Edwards has tried to outflank them to the left on economic populism.

I believe that this type of economic populism will resonate after the obscene money grab by the top 1 percent of earners facilitated by the Bush tax cuts. It is true that globalization is here to stay, but the Lou Dobbs idea that NAFTA trade agreements have been bad for America in the long run seem pretty apparent, considering we manufacture very little and a large portion of our population is stuck in lower-paying service jobs. This also goes along with the Dobbs-type position on immigration. Until the age of 12, I lived in Newton, Iowa, which was proud to be known as the home of Maytag appliances. Like many other long-time American iconic brands, Maytag began struggling over the past years, trying to compete with cheaper labor in Mexico, China, etc. and ended up being bought out by competitor Whirlpool. After the buyout, Whirlpool announced that all the manufacturing jobs would be shipped out, leaving Newton just another Flint, Michigan like the one portrayed in Roger and Me. If you don't think an economic populist message will not work this time, you have spent too much time in Silicone Valley or the boardroom of an Investment Bank. See the elections of 2006 in the state of Ohio on how this issue has turned a generally more Republican state sharply into a mostly-Democratic controlled government. The massive distribution of wealth to the rich under Bush has created an atmosphere ripe for a Teddy Roosevelt-type who waves his fist at corporate greed. This doesn't just resonate with just Democrats and Independents, but with a portion of the Religious right, as some of these people have woken up from their slumber and realize that the Rove strategy left them with less money in their pocket. See the rise of Mike Huckabee for more proof.

I have not seen one pundit on television who predicted Edwards will win, but I think he will win by a couple of points in Iowa. Actually, I think the Iowa Democratic caucus system, where you have to stand up and announce you are for a candidate gives Obama the only chance of him winning. I have a hard time believing that the least experienced major candidate I can ever remember (Obama) would be able to win a national election, especially considering that when voters get into the booth with complete anonymity they vote at a higher percentage of who looks more like them, black or white. Obama might win the Iowa caucus and might even win the Democratic nomination, but I'm afraid that when it comes to being President, his lack of experience and the color of his skin will keep him from winning. I know I'm not supposed to say that, but it is what I believe. I think polling is off some on Obama because of these factors.


I've run out of time in trying to get up my thoughts on this group. Really quickly I'm predicting Huckabee will win. Despite Romney's money and far superior campaign structure, he has not worn well as time has went by in Iowa. Actually, I think McCain could have won Iowa, but his stance on Ethanol he knew gave him little chance, so he has concentrated his efforts in New Hampshire.

Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
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