Saturday, 11 February 2006
No really, He's like that all the time
Keen observation from The Carpetbagger Report on the recent accidental exposure of a private Bush+GOP event --
Open-mike night for the president
There's a classic Saturday Night Live skit from the 1980s featuring Ronald Reagan as a simple, quiet man in public, masking an adept technocrat with a vast policy expertise and an eye for remarkable detail. The "amiable dunce" facade was just an act.
Similarly, political observers sometimes wonder if Bush is sharper and more adroit than he seems in public. The president manages expectations by playing simple, the theory goes, but behind closed doors, a skillful and adept leader emerges.
Incidents like this one suggest this is clearly not the case. Bush has struggled to explain why he has the authority to circumvent the law and conduct domestic warrantless searches, so when reporters were ushered out of the room, only to discover that they could hear Bush give Republican lawmakers his personal take on the controversy, reporters' hearts probably skipped a beat. Finally, they thought, an unvarnished, no-spin take on what the president says behind closed doors when he thinks he's just among like-minded friends.
But guess what -- that Bush is the same Bush we see all the time. He has his talking points, which he'll repeat no matter who's in the audience, and precious little else to say.
You could argue that the House GOP is still not a friendly-enough audience for Dubya to really be straight & open with them so He keeps up the act (I guess the fear is that they would then start caring again about once having been a co-equal branch of government), but that's giving Him a whole lot of benefit of the doubt that I just haven't seen evidence for.
Wind Him up, point Him at a podium, He'll talk His partisan lawyerly hair-splitting talk. If there's an emergency, don't expect a leader's response, just hand Him a guitar.
Shakespeare's Sister thinks it wasn't left on "accidentally" at all.
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Alison Has Twenty Grammys
Alison Krauss extends reign as country queen [MSNBC]
Thanks to a clean sweep in her three categories on Wednesday, Krauss now ranks No. 7 with a career haul of 20 awards. U2 rose to No. 6 in the rankings with 22 awards, after winning five awards.
...Backstage, Krauss was at a loss to explain her popularity with Grammy voters. "I'm not going to ask questions," she said.
As for her career, she added, "It’s amazing. We make records for ourselves and we send them in (to the label) when we’re done. We don’t have any meetings with anybody."
We've checked out a few of her albums in the last year; Medley is more of a fan than I am, but I do like her.
My favorite bits are the instrumental jams; not surprising, because Jerry Douglas is often prominent in them. (I mainly know him from Strength in Numbers' The Telluride Sessions, which remains an awesome album; I'm sad that the five have never joined together for a 2nd, though it looks like three of them did something similar around 1999 which I'll have to investigate.)
Krauss does have an uncommonly good (and very consistent) voice, and performs good, catchy music. I recommend her stuff.
P.S. For some weeks now Google's been showing music-specific results (sample Krauss search). So far I'd say it's so-so, but I expect it will improve before much longer.
Try and catch her live sometime. We saw her on the current tour as well as on the Great High Mountain Tour in 2004. Amazing....
the Bluegrass Sessions are a huge disappointment after Telluride Sessions. I mean, perfectly virtuosic bluegrass, but just that and nothing magical. I recommend Fleck's album "Drive" instead...
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Casual Viewin': 45 minutes of Olympics
There's supposed to be a big snowstorm today & tonight; truthfully the first several hours were just drizzle, but it's really kicking in now. Also, I've had a bad cold for a couple of days now.
Perfect time, then, to hole up and check out the Winter Olympics!
We caught a short snippet of the opening ceremony last night; I'm never as enthralled as I imagine the TV people think I should be. Can't remember many specifics other than a dude in a skintight suit with veins and a heart on it, a red car making a lot of noise without going anywhere, and a group of 8 accomplished women carrying the flag around the track. That at least was cool. (Another photo)
Ceremonies reflect effect of women [spokesmanreview.com]
For the first time, all eight bearers of the Olympic flag were women. Two were famous film actresses also involved in human rights work: Sophia Loren and Susan Sarandon. Three were athletes: 400-meter hurdle competitor Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, the first African Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold; 800-meter runner Maria Mutola, the first Mozambican woman to win Olympic gold; and Manuela Di Centa, an Italian Nordic skier who has won seven Olympic medals.
The others were Chilean journalist and author Isabel Allende, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai and Cambodian human-rights activist Somaly Mam.
Today we checked out the first part of the first big block of NBC coverage, which was about the Nordic Combined event (part 1 is a ski jump, part 2 is a cross-country race). Maybe it's my cold, but I'm feeling all picky, so:
After every jump, they wouldn't tell the length of the jump; you had to look at the five or six tiny tiny numbers at the bottom of the screen and figure out which one it was. Are there any communications majors or information specialists at NBC? Here's an idea: make the numbers that matter more bigger than the others. Or give them a different background color. Or something.
As I used to say long ago; if everything on a page is bold, then nothing is emphasized. Or, revised for this case: if all the numbers on the screen are small, then all the numbers on the screen are small! Feh.
One of the presenters mentioned how a couple of days ago one of the competitors was "complaining" about some aspect of this particular jump. OK, fine, one athlete's disgruntled, I can buy that. Then he mentioned another athlete who was "complaining" about something else. I think he may have even done it a third time while we watched.
Now it's possible that all these guys were in fact complaining prima donnas, but it just gave me a vibe that he was probably being unfair to the athletes. Made me want to grab the guy and say "Listen, bub. Just because an athlete who is looking for something to say to the horde of reporters unfamiliar with his sport decides to do an easy thing and observe the conditions of a course and how it might challenge him doesn't mean he's complaining."
Who knows, maybe the skiers really were all unhappy. But my first instinct is not to rely on reporters, or rather to rely on them to add more drama and bite than there actually was.
For the ski jump, they never gave a really nice establishing shot so you get a real picture of what it is you're seeing a close-up of. I see a dude whiz by, fling himself up, and land, all in a close-up without any perspective showing me how far he went, what the arc of his flight was actually like, how steep the hill was in relation to his path, etc. etc. A couple of times they did switch to a side tracking shot which gave a bit more of an idea, but there was never a 'big picture' view.
What I'd like to see is at least one sample jump, shown at the beginning of an event's coverage, shot from a short distance away so you can see a steady, consistent view of the whole thing, shot right-side up, with a minimum of camera movement (surely a little would be required to take it all in).
The rest of the event could be covered like it is now; just throw the audience a bone at the beginning. You know, make it so you can imagine what it would be like to be there. Like TV used to be good at.
Sometimes I think the modern tricks you can do with flashy, you-are-there, close-up tracking shots makes producers forget the fundamentals of event coverage.
And of course, the number and length of the ad breaks is unconscionable. Thank open source for Tivo.
Oy. Imagine if I watched the whole Olympics; I'd never run out of trivial stuff to bitch about.
Yes, but if you watched and commented on the whole thing, I'm sure you'd be very entertaining. Way more entertaining than the Olympics, in fact.
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