Robbed by a Fountain Pen

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Yes, as through this world I've wandered / I've seen lots of funny men / Some will rob you with a six-gun / And some with a fountain pen. - Pretty Boy Floyd

Why Robbed by a Fountain Pen?

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Friday, February 21, 2003
The Critiquees Are In.
The results of the First Annual Music Awards, or Critiquees ("Cri-tee-kees") are up.

Album of the Year:

1) Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

2) Come Away With Me by Norah Jones

3) Sea Change by Beck

4) Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol

5) The Rising by Bruce Springsteen

6) A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

7) When I Was Cruel by Elvis Costello

8) () by Sigur Ros

9) Once More, with Feeling - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

10) Murray Street by Sonic Youth

My choices: Wilco, Beck, Solomon Burke, Neko Case, Tom Waits.

The Village Voice Pazz and Jop (nationwide survey of professional critics) choices: Wilco, Beck, The Flaming Lips, The Streets, Sleater-Kinney.

Song of the Year:

"Into the Fire" by Bruce Springsteen

My choice: None Of Us Are Free - Solomon Burke with the Blind Boys of Alabama (Critiquee place: n/a).

Pazz & Jop choice: Missy Elliott, Work It (Critiquee place: 2).

Songwriter of the Year:

Jeff Tweedy

My choice: Beck (Critiquee place: tied for 4).

Rock Album of the Year:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

My choice: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Country-Americana Album of the Year:

Home by The Dixie Chicks

My choice: Neko Case, Blacklisted (Critiquee place: 4).

R&B Album of the Year:

Don't Give Up on Me by Solomon Burke

My choice: Don't Give Up on Me.

Jazz Album of the Year:

Come Away With Me by Norah Jones

My choice: Brad Mehldau, Largo (Critiquee place: 2).

Electronic Album of the Year:

18 by Moby

My choice: I didn't make one.

Soundtrack Album of the Year:

About a Boy

My choice: About a Boy.

Reissues and Collections of the Year:

Best of 1990-2000 & B Sides by U2

My choice: Jimmie Rodgers, Classic Sides 1927-1933 (Critiquee place: tied for 5).

Best New Artist:

Norah Jones

My choice: Norah Jones.

Monday, February 17, 2003
Victory of the Loud Little Handful.
by Mark Twain

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910).

(I first saw this piece in Sojourners; this text is from Common Dreams.)
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Critiquees (cont.) Best Jazz.
And the final category for the Blogcritics Critiquees Awards:

Best Jazz Album.

1. Brad Mehldau - Largo

2. David S. Ware - Freedom Suite

3. Jason Moran - Modernistic.

I couldn't decide which order to list these three, so it's basically a tie. Ask me tomorrow and get a different answer.
Monday, February 10, 2003
A Couple Trillion Dollars Here, A Couple There ...
... and pretty soon you're talking about real money. I've been too busy to post much the past week or two, but that doesn't mean I've gotten over "President" Bush's astonishingly irresponsible budget plans. You can count on the media to move on to other things, so I thought I'd start a series of budget posts just so we don't forget what's at stake. I'll start with the big ones:

"We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations." President Bush, 2003 State of the Union Address

In fact, according to the President's own budget, the $5.6 trillion surplus projected less than two years ago would become a $2.1 trillion deficit for the same ten-year period -- an $8 trillion change in just two years.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
Presenting ... the Critiquees.
The first annual Blogcritics Awards - also known as the Critiquees ("Cri-tee-kees") - are coming up! Blogcritics is the "sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, and technology." On February 16, Blogcritics will announce the Critiquees, which will consist of both a poll of the Blogcritics ourselves and also a Readers' Poll. To learn how to cast your vote (you get up to five per category), click here.

I'll to provide mini-reviews for each of my votes over the next couple of weeks. For now, my votes:

Album of the year.

1. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

2. Beck - Sea Change

3. Solomon Burke - Don't Give Up on Me

4. Neko Case - Blacklisted

5. Tom Waits - Alice / Blood Money (tie)

Best rock album.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Best country/Americana album.

Neko Case - Blacklisted

Best R&B album.

Solomon Burke - Don't Give Up on Me

Best new artist.

Norah Jones

Songwriter of the year.


Best soundtrack album.

Badly Drawn Boy - About a Boy

Best re-issue or compilation [box sets, re-mastered, or bonuses].

Jimmie Rodgers - Classic Sides 1927-1933

Song of the year.

None Of Us Are Free - Solomon Burke with the Blind Boys of Alabama

Best jazz album & Best electronic album.

(Stay tuned.)

I need to give jazz and electronic some more thought. I don't think I'll have votes for final two Blogcritics categories - World Music and "Album that sucks most vigorously."
Get a Job.
Data point of the week:

In the 22 months since the recession began in March 2001, the economy has lost almost two million jobs, or 1.5 percent of total employment.

On Bill Clinton's watch, the economy added an average of 2.86 million jobs per year.