The Neighbourhood is one of my favorite new bands of 2012 off of the strength of "Sweater Weather" and they have a new video for a new song. They seem to be getting a bit of a following (Sweater Weather's YouTube video is over 900k views) and they've been getting more and more shows. I saw them open for Animal Kingdom at The Troubadour and it was one of their first big shows and they couldn't stop thanking the audience for being there and they seemed just happy to be breaking through a bit. Hopefully they don't lose that energy as they keep rising.
And, once again, here's the video for "Sweater Weather" which will likely be on my Best Songs of 2012 Mix at the end of the year.
I went to see The Joy Formidable at The Troubadour last week and was pleasantly surprised by the opening band J. Thoven. They're a bunch of young guys from the OC and while I'm not sure I hear a single (Regardless of how the music industry has changed, "the single" is still a make-or-break fact of life for most bands), it's quality music and a nice EP that you can download for yourself at their website. The third song "Wake Up Children" is my favorite song on the collection.
As someone who keeps up probably too much with movies, it isn't too often that a movie I've never heard of comes out of nowhere and gets me excited. I'm happy to say that the trailer for "Now You See Me" has done just that. I'm a sucker for heist films but this trailer adds in magic and a great cast. for what looks like it could be a great time.
The Democrats are sitting pretty and many liberals are crowing about their victory but if they want the next four years to go smoothly, I'd recommend these 8 quotes from Will Rogers.
1. Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
The American people didn't vote President Obama back into office so he could brag about how he was voted back into office by the people. The celebration is now over; time to get to work.
2. Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Some pundits have said that Obama can basically rest on his laurels as his legacy, Obamacare, is safe and sound. But if democrats want to keep themselves in power, they're going to need to keep plugging away. The Republicans are sore about their loss and could be eager to make some noise so the Democrats need to come out swinging and set the agenda.
3. So let's be honest with ourselves and not take ourselves too serious, and never condemn the other fellow for doing what we are doing every day, only in a different way.
Despite the big victory, the fact of the matter is that the American people sent back mostly the same government that they've had for the past four years. The one thing that has to change this time around is that we can't have the partisanship that bogged down Washington D.C.. Everyone in Washington is working for themselves and trying to make sure there side gets as much power/credit as possible and the Dems need to remember that and maybe try to compromise a little or at least not try to bully the GOP into a defensive stance.
4. Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.
President Obama has a tough road to hoe. The Senate has moved to the left while the GOP is licking its wound. In order to get things accomplished, he's probably going to have to ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle. I would recommend that he not worry about a little noise and push forward to get things accomplished as opposed to another four years of gridlock.
5. An economist's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's.
Personally, I think that we're going to see a double dip recession regardless of which economic plan we choose (Neither Romney nor Obama could fix the mess happening in Europe) but I think it's important to keep an open mind in terms of economics and be able to roll the the punches that are undoubtedly coming our way.
6. We don't know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it.
While the debt has gotten out of control, I think the people who are clamoring about it seem to miss the fact that there's always a debt, especially when we're at war. I do think that the upper class can pay more to help out the working class during these economic times but I wouldn't go whole hog after them and I would definitely tamp down the class war talk that fueled much of the Obama campaign. I think eliminating some unpopular taxes, like the Estate Tax, could go a long way in mending some fences between the parties and also make the Democrats look a little less socialist (which isn't an issue outside of perception but fixing that perception could work wonders in the mid-term elections.)
7. The schools ain't what they used to be and never was.
Education reform is a must. We can't just pump money into our schools and expect that to fix everything. I believe that one of the key elements of Obama's second term has to be investigating how to fix our schools and put forth a plan to get our education system on the right path. The biggest issue with education, however, is that we can't just look back and see how things were and how we can get back there. It's a different world and requires focus on different subjects. Computer classes must be expanded. Wood shop is nice and all but it won't prepare kids for the 21st century workforce. Even some of Obama's fiercest proponents, teachers' unions, should be looked at to make sure we can guarantee that both teachers' and students' rights are protected and the Union isn't protecting underperforming teachers. This will be an insanely difficult task, especially in his economic climate, but I think it is past due.
8. Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.
I know this one goes against one of the central tenents of the Democratic party but I think it is important to remember that, while sometimes the government needs to step in and help and there always needs to be some government oversight, it's best to leave the free market as alone as possible. The President has walked a fine line and I think he should be doubly cautious about overstepping his and the government's role when it comes to getting involved in business. (That being said, I'm thankful Romney didn't win because I believe his idea to let the free market run wild and take over most everything would have been an utter disaster.)
Politicked Off: GOP - Heed the words of Mark Twain!
The Republican Party is taking a bit of a beating lately and, after the Presidential election, is doing a little soul searching to figure out what went wrong. I think there are 8 quotes from Mark Twain that could help them right the ship.
1. "Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish."
This one should be pretty obvious.
2. "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."
One of the main reasons that Mitt's flip-flopping and fish stories were so problematic was that he really had nothing else going for him. His campaign was basically, "Don't you hate your life right now? Then you should hate Obama and vote for me." Anger can stir up a crowd for a short period of time but to get the masses to stay organized for months and head to the polls requires something for them to hold on to. And Romney never gave them anything besides vague promises and shaky positions.
3."The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
All politicians (and pretty much anyone in the public eye) should take this lesson to heart. It's astonishing to me that, this far into the internet age, people still don't seem to realize that their words can go viral in a second and that even the slightest slip-up could mean disaster. Be it Rick Perry's "Oops" to Mourdock's words on rape or Obama's "You didn't build that", politicians' tongues were their own worst enemies in this political cycles.
I'm also really surprised that more people don't use referencing their website to avoid persistent questions, especially on touchy subject like the rape exception. Write it down there, make sure it's what you want to say, put it out in the world, and move on. The only guy who used the website trick this time around was Mitt Romney regarding his economic plan, but that was just to avoid the fact that he didn't really have a plan (the "plan" on his website was more of a list of desired outcomes, not a plan itself.)
4. "I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell - you see, I have friends in both places."
You can't dismiss 47% of the country and expect to win elections. Bill O'Reilly's comment after the election was shocking in that he basically was acting like the Republicans couldn't win without the white majority. Also, to insinuate that because the white establishment is gone that we don't have traditional American values anymore is as wrong as it is repugnant.
It's quotes like that that push minorities away from the conservative movement, even though there are huge blocs of religious folk and family value oriented people in all minorities. (Also, to have your candidate joke that he wishes that he was Mexican because then the election would be easier and then have him go on Univision in borderline brown face is inexcusable.) To have an immigration policy that is essentially, "We're going to make it hell for them so that they leave on their own." is mind-boggling. "Self-deport" was possibly the comment that best represented the Romney campaign as it perfectly positioned Romney in a place where most people didn't know what the heck he was talking about yet he lost votes on the Left and with minorities and lost faith on the Right. It was a wording that neither side was happy with. Yet Bill O'Reilly and others ignore that and just blame minorities for "wanting stuff" to explain the defeat.
It's also telling that O'Reilly left out Asian-Americans in his rant. The problem there, of course, is that the stereotype for that minority doesn't fit the message he wants to send. Asian-Americans are stereotypically conservative and hard working... and they voted for Obama in overwhelming fashion.
The Republican party can win with women, black, Latinos, etc. They just have to stop treating them like they aren't part of the American Establishment or that their beliefs and values aren't traditional. When Paul Ryan says that they didn't lose on issues, they lost because of the "urban vote", it simply creates more space between the Right and a large portion of the electorate. A portion that isn't necessarily against them. Find a common ground and work from there rather than focusing on perceived differences.
5. "Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."
One reason that Republicans can't follow this piece of advice is because it's hard to show the tangible effects of their plans. It's hard to bring out someone who has had their marriage ruined by the fact that gays are now allowed to marry. It's hard to show the worker who saw the tax cuts for the wealthy trickle down to him. While Obama could point to the American automobile industry as something he saved, Romney could barely point out companies that Bain salvaged since most of his salvage jobs included downsizing and shipping jobs overseas. The one thing he could have used this method with was Romneycare (show some kids who might not have survived without it) but he was running against that. It'll be tougher now that they will have been out of the White House for eight years but the Republicans need to run someone who has actual results that he can brag about and show off (which immediately eliminates anyone from Congress being the next GOP candidate for President.)
6. "The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same, but the medical practice changes."
In short, it's time for Republicans to change with the times. They have to get on the right side of history when it comes to gay rights. I'd even go so far to stop fighting abortion rights and instead promote ways to help mothers who keep their child or foster children. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice aren't mutually exclusive. Either way, conservatives have become out of touch in terms of social issues and it is what is costing them votes.
Most importantly... 7. "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
The biggest failure for the Republican party was getting their people out to vote. For months, Republicans talked about the GOP wave that was going to come out and wash Barrack Obama out of the White House. But, come election day, conservatives stayed home and the predicted bounce for Romney ended with him getting fewer votes than John McCain.
The problem was that the Republicans took a fact that they already knew wasn't true: Romney was never big with the conservative base, and suddenly stopped worrying about. For some reason, they went from worrying about whether Romney could get the base out to vote to being convinced that the anti-Obama sentiment would lead a conservative charge to the polls. A belief that we all now know was false.
But that wasn't the only issue in which the Republicans overlooked the weaknesses of their strengths. Pundits seemed convinced that Romney's history as a businessman would give him a boost as he would be the better man to deal with our current economic crisis and national debt. What they ignored was that his business history included more outsourcing than actually building a tangible business with his own hands, his demeanor was cold and he seemed incapable of connecting with the working class. And then there was the 47% comment. In the end, Romney seemed to have the brain for economic change but the soul of corporate greed.
Faced with these issues, Republicans pointed to crowds at campaign stops as evidence that the perceived lack of connection with the base and the working class wasn't real. Anecdotal evidence trumped the polls that said the Mittmentum had waned. And if that didn't make them feel good enough, they fell back to another truth that turned out to be false.
When Mitt Romney won the nomination, I thought he had a solid chance of winning because, unlike most of his primary opponents, he wasn't someone that Democrats would rush out to vote against. He signed the universal health care bill in Massachusetts. He protected the right to have an abortion in the case of rape. He had neither the rhetoric of the likes Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann nor the Bush connection of Rick Perry that would have raised red flags for the blue team. But throughout the campaign, Romney became a kind of heel. It was just one comment after another, perhaps peaking with the 47% comment, that made him someone that Democrats actively wanted to beat. Yet with the clamor about Romney growing on the Left, conservative pundits found it ridiculous to believe that Obama would have the same sort of support that he did in 2008. The polls that made up Nate Silver's predictions were supposedly wrong because they assumed a similar turnout from four years ago that would never happen. Until it did.
The final step towards failure was that, because all of these false truths that the Republicans held to be self-evident, after the first debate, the Romney camp seemed so assured of a victory that they went into cruise control. He went from attacking Obama in the first debate to acting like attacking positions was inappropriate in the final debate. He stopped talking to the press for the last month of the campaign.
In the end, the Republicans spun the facts to convince themselves and ended up believing their own spin and that's the most certain recipe for disaster. As Will Rogers once said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
8. "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
I know that liberals are loving stomping all over the Republicans right now but let's not forget that eight years ago, it was the Democrats who couldn't figure out why their candidate from Massachusetts couldn't take down an unpopular President. The Republicans basically trotted out their JV team in this election and ran a candidate who nobody really liked and who many conservatives never got behind. On top of that, the Republicans get out the vote machine was as bad as it could have been and more and more it's seeming like many of the Romney consultants were more focused on making money than running a winning campaign.
The Republican party could rise again and it could rise with a very similar look to the one that lost today. All they need is a better candidate and a better ground game and they could make some noise.
"Skyfall", the latest addition to the James Bond saga, is an entertaining, if incredibly slight two and half hours of entertainment. That's pretty much par for the course for Bond flicks but it's a bit disappointing after "Casino Royale" tried to humanize and bring some depth to the series. Yes, the intention of that film was, in part, to show how Bond became to cold-hearted, womanizing, licensed-to-kill secret agent that we all know and love but in "Skyfall", it was like they weren't even trying. The film could be the most superficial Bond movie of all-time, however, that's not so bad because they did so well with the superficials. Director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins created stunning visuals that almost overshadowed the allure of the always gorgeous Bond girls. The score by Simon Rhodes was stellar; it didn't call attention to itself (except when needed) yet it still had me hoping that it was available for purchase because it was so cool. The film is chock full with allusions to previous Bond adventures but they are handled in a way that they all feel like they occur naturally, rather than a gimmick stuck in for shits and giggles. And, of course, Javier Bardem turned in a performance that was absolutely captivating and, in terms of performance alone, could be one of the best Bond villains ever. The problem with the film, however, is that beyond Bardem's performance (and also because of his amazing work) the villain of the film is extremely flawed and seems like a wasted opportunity.
The spoilers will being now so if you haven't seen it, I'll leave you with a strong recommendation, although you should expect simple adrenaline over emotion and check your brain at the door, even moreso than most Bond films.
I know that saying check your brain at the door sounds like, well, a no-brainer when it comes to James Bond films but, in this case, the issue with Bardem's Silva character is that he's introduced as a kind of 21st century villain, a masterful and maniacal cyber-terrorist who can change the world with a single click of the button, but after we are given this introduction and how he is a better Bond than Bond himself, Silva becomes the worst of Bond - a simple blunt force instrument. The film seemed like it was heading to be more of a thriller, Silva as Bond's Moriarty, terrorizing Judi Dench's M at every turn and exposing every secret and putting her more and more in the crosshairs of her country's government (if not the country itself) . But after we meet Silva, his plans essentially devolve into him running into places and shooting them up. None of his masterful hacker jobs have much of any point; he goes from hacker to hack. The list of names is a McGuffin that completely disappears midway through the film (and they never do recover it). I'm not quite sure exactly why he felt he needed to get caught and hack them again since he already had everything and didn't seem to gain much of anything and moments after he just barges in and shoots up a room; not exactly the evil death we'd been lead to believe that he might have in store for M.) And, most problematically, is that he doesn't really seem to have an endgame. He wants to kill M. That's about it. And Bond won't let that happen and he's never conflicted about it (which it seems like he might be after he's left for dead at the start of the movie.) It's fitting that the analogy that Silva makes for him and Bond are two rats because this movie is a game of mouse and mouse rather than a game of cat and mouse. While the film isn't as flawed as Avengers or The Dark Knight were in terms of logic, the antagonist in the film just didn't pose enough of a threat or put our heroes into enough danger to make this a great movie.
Ultimately, while the film still succeeds at being a rather numb but entertaining action film, it fails to live up to its opening act and the promise that the main antagonist (who could have made for an amazing multi-film character; kind of a Catwoman for Bond, someone who plays both sides of the law, sometimes helping SPECTRE, sometimes fighting with Bond) nor does it really live up to the clever hijinks of most Bond battles. The final battle is so brute strength vs. brute strength and the stakes are so, relatively speaking, small that it lessens the impact. Watching Bond and M risk their lives life to save the world is one thing; watching them just trying to save their own necks (with no real long term risks being addressed) take the tension down a notch.
Still, the film was entertaining. Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress compared it to "Cabin in the Woods" and I think that's a pretty good comparison. It's a clever film that looks great and is a lot of fun but just as Cabin in the Woods was pretty devoid of scares so "Skyfall" lacked the tension that makes great set pieces more than just eye candy.