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Polls: What The People Think, 2004 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 29 October 2003
Then again, maybe not.

The 2004 presidential campaigns are beginning to swing into high gear. Indeed, the Iowa caucus is just a few months away. And the vital and perhaps most well-known presidential hopeful destination is right behind: New Hampshire. Anybody who is any body in presidential politics will be at the world-famous Manchester Marriott, hanging out at the bar and tossing back the booze with the cream of the hardcore political pundits, desperate hangers-on, and editorial hacks. It’s not a pretty sight, and there is no cure.

Everyone wants to know what the polls say. So as a favor to all the political junkies out there, here is a close look at a cross section of as-they-say: likely voters (LV).

There are several questions on everyone’s mind as we swing into political first gear: the war in Iraq, the standing of the president of the United States and the field of Democratic contenders for his job.

Of course, every so-called legitimate news organization in these United States conducts polls, most in partnership with a "non-partisan" academic or think tank type organization. Space limits us to just the news organizations. Most we already know: CNN/USA Today; Newsweek; Zogby; Fox News; ABC/Washington Post; NBC/The New York Times, and CBS.

Let’s begin with Democratic hopefuls for the most powerful office in the free world. Here is how they stood the last couple of weeks. The question asked of Democrats was not skewered or "push-polled" in any way. It ended like this: "Which of those candidates would you most likely support for the Democratic nomination in the year 2004?”

CNN/USA Today is up first. Howard Dean 16 percent; Wesley Clark 15 percent; Dick Gephardt 12percent; Joe Lieberman 12 percent; John Kerry 10 percent; Rev Al Sharpton 6 percent; John Edwards 6 percent; Carol Mosley Braun 4 percent; and Dennis Kucinich 1 percent.

In tracking these results back to the first week in September, we can see a slight change. Both Dean and Clark have risen several points each, while Gephardt/Kerry/Lieberman have dropped. Al Sharpton has climbed from a rating of 2 percent. Mosley Braun remains constant while Kucinich stays firmly in the political basement.

Newsweek and Zogby polls for this time are virtually identical. But these polls suggest that the pack of opponents is much tighter:

Dean 12 percent; Clark 10 percent; Kerry 9 percent; Lieberman 8 percent; Mosley 5 percent; Gephardt 5 percent; Edwards 3 percent; Sharpton 3 percent Kucinich 1percent.

ABC News/Washington Post results closely follow Newsweek and Zogby. ABC, however, puts Dick Gephart with 14 percent, just behind leader Dean at 16 percent.

But what does all of this really mean? At first glance, it would seem that the leaders are indeed the leaders and can’t be taken out. But the closeness of the numbers suggest that any candidate might get enough of a surge to take some votes away and become a spoiler in New Hampshire or wherever. Again, that being said, the numbers also show that grasping at that political straw is wishful thinking. It just might keep some campaign cash coming in and keep hopes alive for someone on the bubble and almost making the cut, such as Dick Gephardt.

About the only clear sign in all the numbers is the fact that Dennis Kucinich couldn’t be elected dogcatcher anywhere in the Republic.

Are Democratic voter unhappy with the field of candidates? Perhaps the next poll might be surprising. Last month, Newsweek asked the question on everyone’s mind: if they were both in the race now, would either Al Gore or Hillary Clinton be your first choice? Or would you prefer another candidate?

The results are not even close:

Hillary Clinton 33 percent; Al Gore 28 percent; Clark 7 percent; Dean 7 percent; Lieberman 5 percent; Kerry 5 percent; Edwards 2 percent; Gephardt 1 percent; Sharpton 1 percent; Kucinich 1 percent. Mosley Braun doesn’t even show.

There is one fact that these numbers do suggest. The race for the Democratic nomination is close. It's so close that, come convention time next summer, no clear winner may be the case. Then a Hillary Clinton move for the White House could come into play, uniting the party. That could be a serious run for power. If George W. Bush’s numbers decline further, and the Iraq situation remains bleak, the numbers may indeed hold the answer.

And what do the ordinary folk think of George W. Bush in the White House?

This is an example of how the numbers could be manipulated for political reasons.

Zogby commissioned a poll in early October asking a straight-up question concerning Bush’s approval rating. The results are about the same for other organizations polling as well.

The ratings are 55 percent favorable; 42 percent unfavorable; 1 percent not sure. Simple enough.

CBS News/The New York Times asked the same question but came out with these diluted results:

Favorable 43 percent; unfavorable 34 percent; undecided 13 percent; haven’t heard enough 8 percent; effused 2 percent.

In this fast moving, sound byte society, CBS might report the first number and omit the others. That 34 percent unfavorable rating would be the number remembered and repeated and discussed around the water cooler. Of course, the same tactic could be used against any other candidate.

The last question concerned the war in Iraq. I’m not going to repeat all of those results. Suffice it to say that, over all, Americans approve of the occupation, usually by a few percentage points one way or another.

There is another poll result. Americans may slightly approve the occupation. But the numbers opposing the idea that the U.S. taxpayer foot the occupation's 87 billion dollar bill are not ambiguous: around 57 percent opposed, and about 35 percent say pay up.

Flag waving is fun, but no one wants to pay the tab.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 May 2007 )
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Taste-N-See PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 17 October 2003
Our James Bond for the evening, aka Zacheriah, was one of the most charming and informative servers whom I’ve ever encountered. His stunt double, Nick Pitillo, also the general manager, was both friendly and eager to please, always just a few steps behind him. After much consideration, my guest and I chose to start out our mission with the Spicy Thai beef ($9), and the Mussels ($11). The beef came on a bed of mixed greens tossed in a sweet but spicy dressing and mixed fresh vegetables. The mussels were cooked in a spicy coconut broth with crisp pepper strips. Both were prepared in perfect harmony of sweet to spicy. I might add that the mussels were extremely large and very tender. We opted not to have salad, but Sonoma Grill offers a choice of three: the dinner salad ($4), Sonoma Caesar ($9), or a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad ($7). For our entrees, we chose the swordfish with a mango salsa ($18) and one of the specials for the evening, a stuffed veal chop topped with a port wine reduction ($29). Both came with boiled baby red potatoes and perfectly al dente cooked mixed vegetables, which isn’t as easy to do as it sounds. The swordfish was very refreshing, and the veal was the most tender that I’ve ever had.

To finish it all off, we selected a classic crème brulee and a chocolate hazelnut torte. Both were oh so smooth and creamy, served on frozen, gigantic blue plates, very cool. Certainly a great last impression. I almost forgot, the décor in this place is so unique, exquisite taste all of the way across the board. The portions are all more than generous and worth every bite. Definitely a mission complete.

Features: Executive Chef: David Jones Appetizers from $5 to $11 Sous Chef: John Reen Entrees from $14 to $29 Pastry Chef: Steven Amador Desserts all $6.50 Extensive and inviting wine list Great place for an impressive first date or meeting Can accommodate up to 300 guests in four private dining rooms.

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CD Releases PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 17 October 2003
Release: A Strange Melodic Shape Artist: Various Format: CD Label: Alternate Take Records Listen & Purchase: www.alt-take.com

Comprising Alternate Take Record’s first two vinyl eps, Southern Soul Cont. 1 & 2 plus five new tracks, A Strange Melodic Shape reflects this Dallas based label’s pen gent for dope instrumental hip hop and funky jazz breaks.

Featuring a wide array of Southern downtempo producers, A Strange Melodic Shape is another testament to the wide array of deep, dark eclectic beats that can be created from hours of digging through old records, finding beats, lifting and reinterpreting them much in the same manner as early releases from London’s Ninja Tune and Mo’Wax Records. A Strange Melodic Shape features the kindest beats out of Texas since Dallas co-hort MC 900 Ft Jesus’ 1991 release Welcome to My Dream.

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 May 2007 )
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On the Web PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 17 October 2003
Ninja Tune

Coldcut’s Ninja Tune imprint has by far become one of the leading labels for the production of wide array of abstract beats from hip-hop, jazz, dub and anything that falls somewhere in-between.

Cinematic Orchestra, DJ Food, Up Bustle & Out and dj Vadim are but a few of artists Ninja Tune currently represents. Ninja Tune’s website, www.ninjatune.net, is bar none one of the best independent label websites going providing a wealth of information on each of its artists and releases (including an extensive bank of audio samples and an easy way to purchase music directly from the label). Their forum section is a great way to get in touch with Ninja’s (how the Ninja Tune refers to its fans) worldwide and reflects the great underground following this label has developed over the years.

Spinnin Around

Off the Wall

Buffalo’s new hybrid restaurant and lounge, Off the Wall, is half eatery half hip antique shop.

As their motto goes, “where almost everything is for sale,” so if you like the table you are sitting at you can buy it along with your dinner. Off the Wall also has burgeoning lounge scene on Friday and Saturday nights with an eclectic selection of djs keeping it kool. Fridays features Deepsoulplug’s Zuk (deep house, broken beat) along with various guests. On Saturday’s djs US Marshall (drum’n’bass, jazz & dub) and Dr Wisz (funk, nu jazz, hip hop) of déjà blü , split duties every other week.

Both Marshall and Wisz appear with an array of quest djs. All djs start at 9pm and play till 2am.

Funkin Marvin

Spinnin a wealth of funk, soul and r’n’b from the 60s to the present day this Marvin is not starving (where did the expression Starving Marvin come from anyways?).

Marvin (aka dj Marv) spins every Wednesday at Mr. Goodbar, 1110 Elmwood Ave (near Forest) starting at 9pm.

Funky music, cheap drinks and a low-key environment make this a great way to make it through ‘the hump.’

Dj List

EVR The Musicologist

Thurs / Fri / Sat 10pm - 4am - Allen St Bar & Grill (aka ‘The Old P _ _ _ ) - 223 Allen St Home of the Hits - Almost Every Day

1. House of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture (DFA) www.dfarecords.com

2. Me & Giuliani - ! ! ! (Chk Chk Chk) (Touch & Go) www.brainwashed.com/!!!

3. Dance To The Underground - Radio 4 (City Slang) www.cityslang.com

4. Motiveless Crime - South (Kinetic) www.south.uk.net

5. Outside Broadcast - The Clash (Epic) www.tigersushi.com/site/Rcd.jsp?RcdId=3584

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 May 2007 )
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Chop sicky PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 17 October 2003
The Austrian lunk, who admired Adolf Hitler’s speaking style and seems to have an interest in groping his female co-workers, won’t be the first politician to take office looking years younger than his actual age. Schwarzenegger’s smooth face is light years beyond mere facials and exfoliations. A little nip here and a tuck there? Looks that way to me. And does the color of his hair actually exist in nature? The election of Mr. Pumping Iron to the governor’s office of California is one of the great jokes of the past ten years. Funnier even than the election of blowhard wrestler Jessie Ventura to Minnesota’s top office.

Schwarzenegger actually believes he will be able to do something about the California economy, which is absurd, as anybody who invests in the stock market knows. Jobs are being sent overseas in record numbers. And George The II is doing nothing about it. If you telephone help-lines or reservation lines for a lot of American companies, you’ll be chatting with some fellow in India, who actually thinks he speaks and understands “American English.” Hewlett-Packard, Delta Airlines, AOL are just a few of the conspirators who are determined that no American has a job by 2013. Except maybe the publisher of ALT and a few die-hard staffers.

With Schwarzenegger out of the way regarding movies (his career in films is essentially over anyway), this leaves room for new forms of on-screen action. Enter Quentin Tarantino. Well, actually, re-enter Quentin Tarantino. The video-geek turned screenwriter and director loves lousy movies, especially those cheapjack antic kung-fu exploitation efforts from Asia. Tarantino’s directed three feature-length films, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown, and he directed one of the short episodes in Four Rooms. His first amateurish effort was a messy 69-minute comedy entitled My Best Friend’s Birthday, and it seems best-forgotten, especially by Tarantino. With Reservoir Dogs, he reinvented the caper movie and spawned a gazillion imitators, just as director James Cameron and Schwarzenegger reinvented the psychotic robot movie with The Terminator. Whereas Arnold’s violence is machine-tooled, Quentin’s idea of bloodletting takes grotesque human shape; hence the sliced ear in Reservoir Dogs and the anal rape in Pulp Fiction, not to mention the hypo in Uma’s heart.

Part of the folklore surrounding Tarantino is that he used to work as a clerk in a video store, and the inspiration for his own films is old movies, not real life. Thus his first film in six years is an ode to all those fast-moving, nonsensical, Hong Kong fake blood and samurai sword potboilers. It’s called Kill Bill: Volume 1, and it’s actually the first half of a three-hour movie that was cut precisely in two by Miramax because, for some unexplained reason, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein didn’t want to release a three-hour action picture. Kill Bill: Volume 2 arrives in February 2004. For the past six years, Tarantino’s been writing a war movie, acting in other people’s films (and on Broadway) and generally laying around watching television. Not a bad life. So the question is this: with Kill Bill, has he run out of ideas? Well, yes and no.

Story-wise, Kill Bill: Volume 1 is thoroughly uninteresting. In fact, the story is so slight that it hardly qualifies as a screenplay. Uma Thurman is a bride at a chapel in some seedy, dry and dusty burg. Her wedding party is slaughtered and she is left for dead. She lives, vows revenges, makes a list, checks it more than twice, and proceeds to travel around the world killing the folks on the list who are responsible for the mayhem in her life. A fellow named Bill (David Carradine) has something to do with the sketchy goings-on (which may be more fully explained in volume two) as do Daryl Hannah and Lucy Liu. Primo bad guy portrayer Michael Madsen will also be around in the second installment, but Asian action legend Sonny Chiba has a big part in volume one.

Where Tarantino scores points is that he is a great visual stylist. There are images in the movie that are truly breathtaking. I loved the lush backyard snow scene as Thurman and Liu prepare to hack each other to pieces. The bulk of the film is comprised of fighting. One on one (Thurman versus Viveca A. Fox), and one on many (Thurman versus scores of black-suit clad henchmen who work for Liu). The copious blood flows without mercy in the movie, and the major set-piece involving Thurman, Liu, and her minions is depicted in rich black and white (the movie is in color, but Tarantino isn’t afraid to mix his images and genres). Along with the black and white moments, there’s also animation.

The Thurman-Liu orgasm of violence is an amazing feat. The action is furious and the editing is precise. But after twenty minutes of lopped-off limbs and spurting veins, with more to go, it all becomes rather uneventful. Too much of a fast-paced thing is too much of a fast-paced thing. You’re dazzled at first, but then a disinterested coldness sets in. Tarantino chills his own movie, and kills the momentum. What impresses you soon lulls you into checking your watch. Thirty dead and counting. Oops, there goes another arm. Did that guy lose his head? Look at these people jump through the air.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 is not a life-affirming feature. Its beating heart is a cycle of revenge, but shouldn’t we want to know why Thurman is so angry and determined? And why was she targeted? And shouldn’t we know more about Bill? Yes. As for any sociological thoughts from screenwriter-director Tarantino about women as killing machines or any commentaries on sexual politics, he has no interest in going down that road. Judging from what we’ve got on screen, I think it was a mistake to chop the film into two parts. This could have been a terrific homage to Asian action movies and a self-contained tribute to Tarantino’s talent. As it is, his cinematically grand, albeit thematically shallow vision, has been reduced to a gimmick.

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