"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

"Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come." -- Herman Melville

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

The Beginning -- 2004 Updates -- Part Two

August 20, 2004

Was on vacation last week and am still getting caught up. Lots to post--a politically-tinged group today and a lot more next week. I would write about the Phillies today, but I don't think I can do so coherently at the moment (without spontaneously bursting into tears or spewing vitriol). Just an awful, awful downward spiral for a supposedly talented and promising team. Let's just move on.

My Greatest, Most Brilliant Idea Ever.
This is amazing. I've really done it this time. I'm ensuring the downfall of Darth Bush this November. John Kerry should write me a letter of thanks. Sometimes I even blow my own mind.

Enough bragging. Click here and know that I am dooming the Bush Regime.

If you don't understand immediately why this will work, click here for a quick explanation. I am in awe of this idea.

Krugman vs. O'Reilly
This is a lot of fun. Jim Gilliam posted on his site a Quicktime highlight reel of Fox News Whore Bill O'Reilly in a showdown with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (whom everyone should be reading regularly). Not surprisingly, O'Reilly has a little bit of trouble with the facts here. He doesn't even need Krugman around to make himself look like an idiot.

Final Exam: What Would Jesus Do?
Thanks to my friend Peter for sending me this one. Apparently, according to CNN, everyone's favorite Christian fanatic Jerry Falwell is opening a law school in Virginia that will focus on a Christian-centric interpretation of the law. The idea is to prepare students to better fight for Christian conservative charges. Meaning attempts to challenge Row vs. Wade...stem cell research...gay rights...television and radio free speech. You know, if it's not bad enough to have Falwell churning out future Christian bigot politicians out of his Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia (where the law school will have its home), now he's looking to mold students into lawyers who will openly challenge many of the laws which are moving our country forward. Dammit, why can't I have Scanners powers so I can make Falwell's head explode. I don't think I'm asking too much (but man, if I had those powers, it would be one hell of a Republican bloodbath right now).

Falsehoods and errors? Perhaps. But footnotes? Hells yes!
So, John Kerry's Vietnam record is currently under fire by a group of veterans who claim they know the "real" story behind Kerry's service. It's a rather controversial tact--nothing like taking pot shots at a war hero when your president is a Texas National Guard deserter, but many people are taking it seriously (despite the fact that the contradictions are rolling in pretty much daily now). Brit Hume, from the "Fair and Balanced" Fox News (does my seething sarcasm come across there?), had this to say (as quoted by the National Journal Hotline on August 16),

"The charges that are being made of Kerry, of irresponsible and indeed in some cases mendacious conduct in his service in Vietnam, are made by people who were there. They're making the charges in their own names. This isn't a bunch of anonymous people whispering things. It's all out there in the open. The book is full of footnotes. It has an appendix. It's a pretty serious piece of work" ("FNS," Fox, 8/15).

A war hero is slandered, but why should we believe these grave charges? BECAUSE THE BOOK HAS AN APPENDIX AND A LOT OF FOOTNOTES. Ohhhhhhh....thanks for clearing that one up, Brit. Hold on, wait a minute, I have a footnote now too1. Thank God--now everyone can take my work here seriously. I know I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

1 - Brit Hume is a fucking moron.

Song of the Moment: "Art Star" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
I really love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and this one kicks in the afterburners. A cheery, bouncy guitar beat opens with Karen O deadpanning "I've been working on a piece that speaks of sex and desperation / I've been screwing on the tracks of abandoned train stations." Quietly, a voice counts to four in the background and the song explodes in a cacaphony of raging guitars, pummeling drums, and Karen shrieking at the top of her lungs. Then back to the plinky guitars, Karen singing "Do do do do..." and we start over again. Two minutes of crazy bliss. This song and "Man" (also worthy of immediate listen) are the reasons my girlfriend hates the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the reasons I love them to death. To each his own...

August 30, 2004

More coming this week, but a quick update today because I just had to make sure everyone knew about this.

If you keep up with random celebrity news, you probably heard that John O'Hurley got married two weeks ago. You may not recognize his name, but you know O'Hurley as J. Peterman from Seinfeld. Here's what absolutely blew my mind today, though (and I can't believe I didn't know this before): O'Hurley is actually now the co-owner of the real J. Peterman Catalog along with the real J. Peterman. From his IMDB bio page, "Co-owner (with J. Peterman) of the real J. Peterman Catalog. After playing J. Peterman on Seinfeld, he was offered the opportunity to buy part of the company and help bring it back from bankruptcy. They turned a profit the very first year that O'Hurley was part of the company." This utterly defies me. Doesn't this destroy every illusion of the wall separating art and reality? And what a fantastic business decision by O'Hurley, now quite literally the face of J. Peterman. I'm at a loss for words...

November 1, 2004

Certainly has been a little while since my last update. I've got my litany of excuses (Sept/Oct are by far and away my busiest months at work; been out of town nearly every other weekend for those two months; et cetera and so forth), but suffice to say regular updates will start appearing once again. I wanted to jump in quickly, though, before Election Day to say a few words.

I've certainly made it more than clear where my political allegiances lie, but let's make this one official:

<a dream of soft focus sunsets> Strongly Endorses Senator John Kerry for President of the United States

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's my fearless election prediction: John Kerry will WIN the election and he will win so decisively that we won't need to bother with recounts or Supreme Court cronyism. Here's what's important to remember: Bush didn't even win in 2000. Widespread voter fraud and Bush Sr.'s friends on the Supreme Court took care of Florida last time, but Gore easily won the popular vote. So, let's start with that same base of voters. Could you really say that, out of those voters, MORE will be voting Republican than Democratic this time? Has Bush's natural charisma (cough, cough) really turned more voters to his side than vice versa? Somehow, I doubt it. So, right away, there would seem to be an advantage for Kerry. But then we've got the countless new voters leaping into the fray. The polls show the race basically at a tie, but the polls have no way of tracking new voters. Say a million people register to vote for the first time. They're registering because they feel the urgency of this election that has been drilled into them over the past year (in the words of South Park's P. Diddy, "Vote or Die Motherfucker!") What's more likely: that these people feel this urgency because they're scared of Kerry's so-called "liberal agenda" or because they're scared of the already very real neo-conservative agenda that's been ripping the country apart for four years. Swing a majority of these new voters onto Kerry's side. Additionally, when polls are conducted, potential participants are not contacted if their primary number is a cell phone (pollsters don't want them to need to spend minutes/money to be part of the poll). That alone cuts off quite a few young voters from affecting these polls...young, college-age people who are more likely to vote Kerry than Bush. What does this all add up to? A decisive victory for Kerry...one with a much higher margin of victory than most have expected up to this point. And if I'm wrong...well, actually, let's just ignore that possibility for now.

And since I'm certainly not beyond employing black magic and curses to bring down Bush, here are some fun omens for Kerry:

It's been widely reported since last night, but here it is again: In the previous 15 Presidential elections, if the Washington Redskins lose their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party loses the White House. This goes back to 1936 (and even predates the franchise being in Washington). Last night, Green Bay visited the Redskins...and defeated them 28-14. Senator Kerry, hope you have your victory speech ready. (Check out Snopes for more detail).

And, finally, I noted back in August that this was my greatest idea ever and I still believe it. To help summon one more curse upon the vile Bush family, I give you:

Bush and the Madden Curse

This plan cannot fail. When Ray Lewis makes it through the season without befalling some evil twist of fate and sportswriters start talking about the demise of the Madden Curse, remember that I have diverted its course and that it will retain its legacy with the defeat of Bush tomorrow night. Of this I am certain: this plan cannot fail--its beauty is only matched by its simplicity.

Song of the Moment: "Untitled" by Interpol.
An utterly perfect introduction to Interpol's 2002 album "Turn on the Bright Lights," it mixes a solemn, gorgeous guitar line with dirgeful drum and bass. Not only a great album opener, but an ideal concert starter too. The first five tracks of this album are across the board A+ ("Untitled," "Obstacle 1," "NYC," "PDA," and "Say Hello to the Angels").

November 3, 2004

For a while now, I've been thinking that Election Day 2004 would be defined by one of two extremes: either in a cathartic, reaffirming victory or a horrifying, utter depression. How surreal that it ended up in the horrifying, utter depression. I'm ashamed of America. And at a loss for words.

November 4, 2004

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
Well, my country may not be competent enough to select a proper leader, but thank God the Phillies are. This afternoon, the Phillies will officially introduce Charlie Manuel as their new manager. Manuel's been my favorite for the job for a while now and I'm very happy that he'll be taking the reins next year. A well-respected "player's manager," Manuel has been a mentor to Jim Thome, actually teaching him the trademark "bat point" Thome employs before every swing. In late 2002, Manuel was hired as a "Special Advisor to the General Manager," which also means "Bribe to get Free Agent Thome to Join the Phillies." Since then, though, Manuel has been seen as the polar opposite of firebrand ex-manager Larry Bowa. Earlier this year, the Sporting News, in a bit of aren't-we-clever-ness, actually named Manuel as their pre-season pick for NL Manager of the Year, assuming that Bowa would get fired halfway through the season and Manuel would take over and lead the Phillies into the playoffs. Bowa managed to make it through the season (well, almost--he was fired with two games remaining after myriad rumors began swirling over his impending termination), but now the entire coaching staff is in limbo. As expected, Joe Kerrigan offered his resignation at season's end (sort of a "You can't fire me, I quit!"). After a month-long interview process, the Phillies have finally settled on the favorite from the beginning. Honestly, I'm very excited. Manuel's plain-spoken, relaxing attitude will be welcome in a clubhouse that's been suffocating under Bowa. Manuel wasn't the fan-friendly pick (that would be ex-Pirates/Marlins manager Jim Leyland, who, admittedly, would have been a good pick as well), but ever since he first joined the front office, I had hopes he'd take over one day. Next comes the reevaluation of the coaching staff. The pitching coach will likely be named soon...I'm not overly familiar with available coaches, but Larry Andersen will get serious consideration. An ex-pitcher and current Phillies broadcaster, Andersen certainly knows baseball and his laid-back demeanour would be a nice match with Manuel and a refreshing reversal from the antagonistic Kerrigan. I have very, very high hopes indeed for the 2005 Phillies.

Having not posted during September and October, I wasn't able to continue gushing over my Lord and Savior Johan Santana. With the Cy Young Award to be announced soon and Santana the sure favorite to win, let's take a quick review at his overall stats:

He finished the season with a stunning 2.61 ERA, a league-leading 265 strikeouts, and an ungodly BAA (Batting Average Against) of .185. His final record was 20-6. From July 27 through September 24, he won twelve straight starts and took a no-decision on September 29 only because he was limited to five innings to keep him fresh for the playoffs and the bullpen coughed up the lead. He had twelve games where he gave up three hits or less. He gave up two or less earned runs twenty-four times. And, though it's not supposed to factor into Cy Young consideration, for the record, in the postseason he went 1-0 over two starts, going 12 innings and giving up one earned run with 12 strikeouts (and, for the first time in his career, he was pitching on only three days rest in the second start). Many overzealous Boston fans will no doubt push for Curt Schilling to win the Cy Young, especially after his heroic feats in the postseason. But put their stats next to each other and there's no contest. ERA? Santana: 2.61. Schilling: 3.26. BAA? Santana: .185. Schilling: .232. Strikeouts? Santana: 265. Schilling: 203. Innings pitched? Santana: 228. Schilling: 226.2. Schilling finished with one more win than Santana, but that's just as much a reflection of the powerful Red Sox offense as his pitching skill. Schilling is a fantastic pitcher and possibly the greatest postseason pitcher of all time. But this year's Cy Young? Unfortunately for him, it's going to be another year where he's just second-best.

Finally, speaking of the Red Sox, now that the Curse has been broken, I think I speak for all non-Boston sports fans when I say:

Boston Fans: Shut the Hell up!!!

In the past three years, the Red Sox have defied all expectations and won the World Series and the Patriots have won two of the past three Super Bowls and carried a streak of 21 straight wins before their loss last Sunday against Pittsburgh. I will hear NO MORE WHINING from Boston fans about cursed franchises, bad luck, or any of that other crap. NONE.

Phew...very happy I got that out of my system. And if you just think I'm bitter, well, you're absolutely right. Something about a baseball team that hasn't been in the playoffs since 1993 despite having a championship-caliber team for a few years now...or a football team that's made it to the conference finals three years in a row...and lost all three games. Those few things? Yeah, they make a person bitter. Very bitter.

Song of the Moment: "Passive" by A Perfect Circle.
From their newly released album of politically-tinged covers, eMOTIVe, this is actually the one original song on the album (besides an industrial remix of "Pet"). Here's why the song is so notable, though. Long-time Perfect Circle fans will recognize the song immediately, but not from the name "Passive." They'll know it as "Vacant," the long-in-limbo Tapeworm song that APC debuted at concerts over the past few years. Tapeworm was a side-project with Trent Reznor, Maynard James Keenan, and Danny Lohner, among others. While songs were allegedly written and recorded, none of them ever saw the light of day except "Vacant," which APC reinvented and played on tour in 2001. An awesome live song, it's finally gotten a well-deserved release and sounds great. Anyone who's heard of "Vacant" probably has eMOTIVe already, but if not, it's certainly worth of a purchase for "Passive" alone.

November 8, 2004

Movies Update
Reviews of Friday Night Lights and Birth are up on my Movies page. More to come soon.

November 10, 2004

Movies Update
More movie reviews today. This time, it's Primer and The Forgotten.

November 17, 2004

Journal Update
The chronicles of the Day of the Xbox can be found in my Journal. God, I love video games...

The Regime of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named
So the election is two weeks old now and here's what we're waking up to: the FCC has expressed its "disappointment" at and ABC has publicly apologized for this week's intro to Monday Night Football. Man, these indecency "controversies" are going to get really boring and annoying. For those who missed it, it was a bit of clever cross-promotion featuring Nicollette Sheridan of Desperate Housewives seducing Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, including a "nude" shot of her from behind and above the waist. Apparently, the FCC received some complaints and is attacking ABC for the promo now. Like the election and the "Nipplegate" fiasco at the Super Bowl, I'm blaming all of this on overzealous Christian conservatives. All riled up now after the election, they must have the FCC on speed dial, ready to jump on the slightest bit of sex on TV. Despite the fact that there are dozens of beer commercials with far more salacious material than this, let's pile on the networks until every person in the country is armed with a remote with an "INDECENT" button they can press at any time to register their complaints. I'm sick of it. And I'm also curious just how many complaints they received...you'll note that the FCC declined to give the exact number. Maybe because saying that 50 people were unhappy out of the millions that watched the broadcast is a little ridiculous. Change that--a lot ridiculous. FCC Chairman (and recipient of some of the best nepotism government can offer) Michael Powell should follow in his father's footsteps and resign from his post. War ravages in Iraq...the deficit grows daily...tax breaks rape the lower class while giving millions to the top 1%...and we're bitching about Nicollette Sheridan's back. Americans apparently don't mind violence smeared across their television screens every waking minute, but the slightest hint of sex being included in a nationwide broadcast? Blasphemy! Factor in that Desperate Housewives is one of the highest rated shows of the season (seen by millions each week) and that it airs on Sundays starting at the same time that Monday Night Football does and you have governmental stupidity and hypocrisy of the highest sort.

Trends I Wholeheartedly Support #48
Bands releasing CDs with DVDs included

Big fan of this trend; love it, love it, love it. Live released their Greatest Hits CD a few weeks ago (damn, I'm getting old) and included with it a DVD with all of their videos. Marilyn Manson did the exact same thing. It even works both ways: A Perfect Circle just put out a DVD with all of their videos and some extra footage...and included a CD of remixes. If record companies and bands are going to complain about online piracy stealing their sales, trends like this will help realign and rejuvinate the industry. People will even be willing to pay a little more to get their hands on the CD/DVD combo. Part of the industry's problem is that people have finally caught on to how incredibly expensive CDs are. When DVDs are coming out at $19.99 and new CDs retail for $16.99, there's a major problem. Many companies have started slashing CD prices dramatically, which is a great first step (as I've said before, I'd pretty much buy any CD for under $10), but adding in DVDs as well is even better because it allows the companies to charge a higher price and justify it by offering content that can't be easily pirated online. Hell, I'm more excited about the DVD collection of music videos than the CD! It would be refreshing if the recording industry could finally get its head out of the sand and embrace the new technology and marketing strategies that will finally bring them into the future.

Song of the Moment: "Evil" by Interpol.
Been on an Interpol kick lately, I'll admit, but this is probably the best song on their new album and should hopefully be one of their next singles.

November 23, 2004

Journal Update
In honor of Seinfeld finally getting its first DVD release today, I've written a little about my three favorite episodes that don't get as much attention as some others. Check it out in my Journal.

Song of the Moment: "Lakini's Juice" by Live.
Been listening to a lot of Live lately since their greatest hits came out. This one's by far and away my favorite Live song. A crunching, razor-edge guitar riff complemented by a swirl of violins and some of Ed's best inscrutable lyrics. I love this song...

December 16, 2004

"Five nights on the TV and for ten grand she'll agree / To do it on camera with the American Dream"
So, the Survivor finale aired on Sunday night and, miraculously after a particularly dull season (filled with faux-grrl-power and a by-the-numbers execution of nearly all the men), the best person won. The whole time I watched the Reunion special, though, I couldn't stop thinking, "All right! Who's releasing the sex tape this time??" The person to blame, of course, is Jenna Lewis. Just a matter of weeks after the finale of Survivor: All-Stars (where she showed off her post-island makeover and, admittedly, looked damn good), a wedding-night sex tape of Jenna with her 21-year-old model husband started making the rounds on the Internet. She handed out all the standard quotes of being "upset" and "disgusted" over this, but something else seemed to be going on. It started when a few reporters noticed that the domain name of the website selling the video (for $40) was registered literally within days of the wedding. And now, the New York Daily News gossip page is reporting that the web site selling the video was indeed created by Lewis and her manager and has taken in over $100,000 with 70% of the profits going right back to Lewis. Not content to just follow the footsteps of former Survivors Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel by posing for Playboy, you think a stolen sex tape will help stoke your fifteen minutes of fame? So why not release it yourself and pad your bank account at the same time? Bravo, Jenna, bravo. While we're at it, can I just say that I'm enjoying the Celebrity Sex Tape Era? We seem to be getting a couple every year now. I'm just dying to know who's coming up next year. Is it too much to ask for Lindsay Lohan to get involved in the fun? Probably. Am I sharing too much? Certainly.

Oh, but for one last word on the subject for now, if I got to pick which of the current Survivors would release a tape next, I'd have to go with Julie.

When a late fee is not really a late fee...
So, Blockbuster announced this week that they are going to eliminate all late fees starting in 2005. Well, sort of. Continuing to kowtow to the online rental services that are siphoning money at a perilous rate, Blockbuster has announced that, instead of immediately accruing late fees from the moment a video is late, customers will now have a one-week grace period. After that grace period, though, instead of just getting late fees, Blockbuster will now charge the customer for the entire retail cost of the video (minus original rental fees). The customer then has 30 days to return the video and get a refund of this charge (except for a $1.25 restocking fee). How much do you think this is going to confuse people? You hear "No late fees!" and think, "Wow, just like the online rental places I always hear about." So you hold onto the video, not even worrying about it...you'll return it when you get the chance. Then suddenly you get your credit card bill and notice that there's a mysterious $30 charge from Blockbuster on there. You go to complain and tell them that you're ready to return the video, but you thought there were no late fees. You want your money back, but then realize that, since you didn't notice the charge until it showed up on your statement a month later, that your 30 days are already up and you're out $30 for a crappy used DVD without an original case. Thanks, Blockbuster, for giving back to the customers and showing you care! Next up, Blockbuster announces that if you return a movie early, you get a dollar off your next rental (minus $1.25 for an Early Restocking Fee, of course).

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
I'm way, way late with this, but it had to get a mention here anyway. Shortly after the baseball season ended, Mr. Johan Santana was the unanimous winner of the American League Cy Young Award. Congratulations, Johan, and let's hope, for your sake and the sake of my fantasy baseball team, that this year's domination continues in full force next season. During yet another disappointing Phillies year, watching Santana pitch game after game of brilliance was easily the highlight of my season.

It must be so painful to be a Mets fan...these last couple years have really been brutal. First, Mets fans got to watch their team trade away their top two prospects for hapless projects Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano. This was at the trade deadline last year when the team had NO chance of competing for the playoffs and therefore NO compelling reason for making such drastic moves. Then the team hands Benson a ridiculous contract just so they don't have to hold their heads in shame as he leaves after a two-month, high-cost rental. And now they're handing Pedro Martinez a gaudy four-year contract. Martinez was a brilliant pitcher in his prime, but we're well past those halcyon days. Now Martinez is nothing more than a solid 6-inning, 100-pitches starter with some serious injury questions. Does he make the Mets rotation look good on paper? Sure. But, come July, when the Mets are reeling again and Pedro is shutting down for the rest of the season for shoulder surgery, will Mets fans forgive him? Or will years of booing and newspaper back-page emasculation follow...with a contract that will be most certainly untradeable? The Phillies are not the easiest team to love (they do have the distinction of being the losingest franchise in sports history) and they haven't made the brightest moves in the past couple years, but if they had traded minor league stars Gavin Floyd or Cole Hamels last summer for Benson or Zambrano, I think I would have cried. But hey, if the Mets want to shoot themselves in the foot, they're in the same division as the Phils, so I'm all for it! Now I'm just waiting for them to complete their Offseason of Insanity by trading for Sammy Sosa.

Songs of the Moment: "Panasonic Youth" and "Baby's First Coffin" by Dillinger Escape Plan.
I'll be writing more about DEP very soon, but these are two of the best new songs I've heard all year long. Insane time-signature switches, tremendous technical prowess, and a lead singer who can take his voice all over the map. Loud, cathartic, and staggeringly original, Dillinger Escape Plan deserve to be loved by anyone who cares about rock/metal music. Amazingly, MP3s of both of these songs are available on DEP's official site (in the Discography section).


NEXT: The Beginning -- 2005 Updates

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2004 Part One
2003