Friday, June 02, 2006

As Good as it Gets for a Geek
I am a little slow this morning after a little too much fun last night. Isthmus, our local alt-weekly newspaper, has held a jazz festival for the last several years. It used to be mostly a one-night affair, at the Civic Center downtown, in October. Last year, it moved to June, at the new Overture Center--which was not as well-suited a venue. Attendance was down, and the Overture Center yanked its funding from the fest. For a while, it looked as if the festival was dead. However, it found a new home, at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union Terrace, on the shore of Lake Mendota--and last night was opening night. The place was packed, the night was gorgeous, the music was tremendous, and the beer was flowing--much of it into me. Isthmus has smacked a home run with the new location. Who needs the Overture Center? As Ben Sidran noted from the stage last night, this is where it should have been all along.

So anyway, I'm still waking up, so here are some random and disconnected bits that have captured my attention while I wait for the caffeine to kick in:

--The National Spelling Bee finals were last night. I was pleased to see that the eventual winner just stood up there and spelled the word instead of showboating, as some past winners have done. I know, youthful enthusiasm and all that--and believe me, as a former school and city spelling champion myself, I also know that winning a bee is as good as it gets for a geek. But I'm old school. Score a touchdown, hand the ball to the referee, act like you've been there before.

--The Stanley Cup hockey finals are now set: Edmonton versus Carolina. Didn't know they were still playing hockey? Don't worry. Few people do. The national cable coverage (on the Outdoor Life Network) has rated lower than fishing shows and poker shows, and with a Canadian team in the finals, NBC's network ratings are likely to be lower than some infomercials. The NHL is still reeling from the lost season of 2004-2005, and although it took some steps to win back fans, the thing it really needs to do it will never do: dump teams to increase the quality of play across the league, then shorten the regular season and playoff schedules so the season doesn't run into freaking June.

--OK, politics: Great post at Daily Kos this morning about what Repug tax cuts really look like. Most people like the idea of paying less taxes, and millions of Americans slavishly vote Republican because they think it will mean lower taxes. But the voters don't know, because the Repugs don't say, what those tax cuts actually represent in the real world. One Nebraska Republican accidentally did, however--and the fallout was predictable. Guess what, Mr. and Mrs. GOP Voter--there is such a thing as the public good, and you like it, too.

--And finally: the National Review got laughed out of the building with its list of the Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs a couple of weeks ago, but that didn't stop one of the magazine's writers from penning a list of 50 more. Remember the kid in high school who tried desperately to be cool but simply couldn't sell it? Amanda at Pandagon reports on the ugly spectacle that results when the congenitally unhip try to sit at the cool kids' table.

As I look back over this post, I see that it's not a bad effort, all things considered. But I really need a nap now.

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