Slacker Friday

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We've got a new Think Again column here, called "Why We're Liberals." It's a peek at the book, which you can buy here, here, here, and here. Eric also has a new Nation column, "The Ritual Sacrifice of Samantha Power," here.

Eric is returning from the first leg of the book tour, but he's heading out again next week. Check out the schedule below, but first, you can read this interview he did with The Oregonian -- he'll be in Portland on the 27th.

The schedule:

Monday, March 24, 7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, 82nd and Broadway
New York, NY

Tuesday, March 25, 7 p.m.
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA
Sponsored by Cody's Books

Wednesday, March 26, 12:30 p.m.
Stacey's Bookstore
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.
Powell's Books
Portland, OR

Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.
Town Hall Seattle
sponsored by Elliott Bay Book Co.
Seattle, WA

Alter-reviews by Eric Boehlert:

Kathleeen Edwards -- "The Cheapest Key" (from Asking for Flowers)

"A is for all the times I bit my tongue
B is for bullshit and you fed me some"

Sweet geez, this thing rocks. Edwards, for years now our favorite female Canuck with an acoustic guitar, trades in her sometimes wilting, snapshot stories of life, for a Lucinda Williams-injection of heel-kicking rock. Bar-room piano? Check. Roiling harmonica? Yep. Growling chorus about her dumb-ass ex? Hell yeah.

Alan Jackson (with Martina McBride) -- "Never Loved Before" (from Good Time)

And baby, this thing swings. It's about time, too. Yes, Jackson's recent Alison Krauss-produced album was interesting, mellow and daring (by Music Row standards). And yes, his sweet gospel album right before that reminded us what we like about religion (community). But now Jackson's back to his jukebox best with Good Time, and "Never Loved Before" is a 3:32, two-steppin' rocket around the block. Jackson wrote the gem, but McBride struts her vocal all over the cheesy boy-loves-girl duet and makes us want to marry her. Jackson's first single from the album, "Small Town Southern Man," is already No. 1 on the radio charts. But forget that same-old Southern identity stuff. "Never Loved Before" is the CMA Song of Year.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

Where you at?

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Wilkes BBQ" (Bobby Watson) -- Jesus died and rose again so that we could all get together and love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: This was a big step-up moment for Bill Richardson on Friday. To me, Obama's had the worst week I've seen a candidate have since Gary Hart disembarked from the SS Monkey Business. This was good timing and great politics, although I am sorry Richardson lost the beard.

Part The Second: Tough luck for the plucky Big Red against the Stanford Condoleezzas on Thursday night. Alma Mater will remedy matters on Saturday, although watching Marquette beat Kentucky is always a joy because you just know that the Blessed Al McGuire is in heaven, tormenting old Adolph Rupp, who is chained in a lake of fire.

Part The Last: I do not need to see Chris Matthews copping a feel -- accidentally or otherwise -- off Ellen DeGeneres. For the first time in my life, I fear I may have watched too much television.

For those of us of the Papist persuasion, Good Friday services always came as two hours of existential dread. Purple swatches all over the sanctuary. Gloomy hymns. Latin intoned with an extra-special kind of lugubrious Lugosiness. More to the point of the past week, the Good Friday liturgy was a carnival of anti-Semitism, an extended exercise in Jew-bashing so egregious that even the Vatican came to notice it several centuries on. Now, I know I sat through this. I know Russert, and Matthews, and Maureen Dowd, and Pat Buchanan -- and JFK and John Kerry, as well -- also did. This wasn't the improvised rhetoric of one pastor in one church. This was the formalized celebration of Christ's Passion, performed in exactly the same way in front of millions of people in thousands of churches all over the world. So here's the thing, Mo and Tim and Chris. (I leave out Buchanan because, hell, he probably thinks the liturgy was too diverse.) Did sitting through this make you anti-Semitic? And to what degree? And have you ever rejected and renounced 2,000 years of popes -- to say nothing of the church over which they presided -- because they authorized this dangerous thooleramawnery? if you haven't, you should probably lay off Barack Obama and his minister, is all's I'm saying.

Name: Paul Joy
Hometown: Thunder Bay, ON

The quote from Spencer Ackerman "...and if they [Bush and Cheney] were to travel to Europe they might (why not will?) even face indictment as war criminals."

What has been almost totally absent from any discussion of the disaster that is Bush/Cheney is how will these two heinous criminals be brought to justice in the United States and in the world at large.

Am I missing something here? The amount of felonious evidence that can be brought to bear on these two is staggering, and yet no one talks about what is in store for them after January 2009.

If these two walk, American justice and sense of fair play will continue to be mocked, as it most certainly should, throughout the world!

Name: Ed Tracey
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

There is a fascinating New Yorker article about the post-retirement career of baseball player Lenny Dykstra (who ignited the Mets rally in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS against the Astros, one of the best games ever played).

Dykstra made a bundle as a day-trader and is starting a magazine for professional athletes on how to avoid failing in their business and personal lives (among other subjects).

Sadly -- in the midst of a great success story -- some annoying traits come through. A prime example: for someone who prides himself at being able to afford La Tour D'Argent and a Gulfstream jet, he recently sold his original business venture (a car wash/quick-lube chain) in the words of the author ... "owing in part to a rise in the minimum wage."

Name: Brian Donohue
Hometown: by the pod bay door

OK, OK, no more references to Harry Potter here anymore; but this guy deserves a fond farewell. When you consider that LBJ was still president when 2001: A Space Odyssey first went into production; that the real-life lunar landing was still a year away when the film was actually released; and that its story, metaphor, and visual fx are still studied (not to mention loved) to this day -- well, it's safe to say that the late Arthur C. Clarke had an impact (though I won't compare him with the Beatles).

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