Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Still On The Fence? Use This Guide.

Still not sure which video game system to buy? (Click to enlarge)

The image really makes PS3 owners out to be loners

Bush's Rebate Plan

Washington - Amid skyrocketing energy prices and a nationwide housing slump, President Bush is calling for an emergency plan to stimulate the economy.

The president said his economic plan is big enough to make a difference. It includes $145 billion in tax relief and other incentives, all aimed at getting people to keep spending and businesses to keep hiring.

Under Bush's proposed plan, taxpayers would get rebate checks, money directly from the government. Individuals could receive up to $800 and married couples could see up to $1,600.

"Americans could use this money as they see fit, help meet their monthly bills, cover higher costs at the gas pump or pay for other basic necessities," said Bush. - WTHR

Is this a good idea?

Sizing Up The Candidates Part 4

Topic: War, Defense, Terrorism
Voters Guide:
• States have the right to engage in war in self-defense but
should first exhaust all peaceful solutions.
• Just war is waged within defined moral boundaries in regard
to its targets, goals, and outcomes.
• Political leadership must have both the inclination toward
peace and the capacity for decisive action if war is just and
• Nations have a duty to protect their citizens from legiti-
mate threats.
• Nations should build their capacity for defense in light of
just-war theory.
• Terrorism—the injury and murder of innocent civilians—
is never justified.
• Defending a nation combines the military, international
diplomacy, and a compassionate foreign policy.
- Essentially, there is debate over whether the Iraq War
is a just one. Religious leaders have criticized it and have
opposed it since the start. Therefore, a candidate
can either oppose it or be in between on it.

Ron Paul (Republican) - 100%

Timetable for withdrawal? Yes
Support for war in 2002? No
Supported troop surge?


Split Iraq into three regions? Has not said


Mike Huckabee (Republican) - 50%
Timetable for withdrawal? No
Support for war in 2002? Yes
Supported troop surge?


Split Iraq into three regions? Has not said

Edwards Kisses Bid Goodbye

Democrat John Edwards withdrew from the presidential race this afternoon, returning to the hurricane-ravaged neighborhood in New Orleans where he launched his second bid in December 2006 and emphasizing the issue -- poverty in America -- that animated his campaign.

"It's time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path," he said with his wife Elizabeth, who is battling cancer, and his three children at his side. "Our Democratic party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with a little backbone, we will take back the White House."

Edwards said he listened to Americans across the country talk about their problems and their need for economic justice.

"We will never forget the heartache and we will always be here to bring hope," Edwards said against a backdrop of houses being rehabilitated in the Ninth Ward. - Boston Globe

Another eliminated candidate drops out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain Wins Florida

MIAMI -- Sen. John McCain won a breakthrough triumph in the Florida primary Tuesday night, gaining the upper hand in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of next week's contests across 21 states. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared ready to quit the race.

"It shows one thing. I'm the conservative leader who can unite the party," McCain said in a brief interview with The Associated Press.

"It's a very significant boost, but I think we've got a tough week ahead and a lot of states to come."

7 News is now reporting the potential news about Guiliani.

Giuliani To Drop Out

A special source has informed me that Rudy Guiliani (Republican) will very soon drop out of the race for the Presidency.

Stay tuned...

Picking the President: Did they support the surge?

Quick note before we proceed: this afternoon, I took's presidential candidate selector/quiz. According to the quiz, the candidate I like best is the ideal one I've created in my mind somewhere. Then comes Biden and Dodd. Too bad they dropped out. That leaves Barack Obama. Now, that doesn't mean I'll just stop cranking out these posts when I've barely scraped all the issues. Who knows? Maybe someone besides Obama will get the most points. Gravel's leading, but there's lots of issues to go, so anything can happen.

Supported troop surge Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, Romney
Opposed troop surge Clinton, Edwards, Gravel, Obama, Paul
Point to Paul and the Democrats. Saddam Hussein was dead by the time Bush proposed the surge. We had already been in Iraq much longer than planned. If anything, we should have been decreasing our presence there.

Darfur update

Senior United Nations officials met with Sudanese Government and African Union
(AU) officials over the weekend to discuss ongoing issues relating to the
deployment of the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) to the war-wracked
region of Darfur.
Guys, seriously. Before you shoot a truck, look to see if it says UN.

WGA Strike update

BEIJING, Jan. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Hollywood writers are allowed to work on the
50th Grammy Awards, according to an interim agreement between Grammy Awards and
the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Monday.
Yay! Scripted banter!

House of Blues coming back to Boston

Boston entertainment prince Patrick T. Lyons, in the midst of a
multimillion-dollar renovation of his Lansdowne Street clubs, has sold them to
the House of Blues chain.
I love the blues.

Lecture hall architect named

WAKEFIELD - William Sloan Associates of Winchester has been hired to renovate
the Wakefield High School lecture hall.
Hope the hall looks something like this.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cape Cod Storm

HARWICH, Mass. -- Residents of Cape Cod and the Islands are digging out from up to a foot of heavy, wet snow.

While most of Massachusetts was spared, an ocean storm delivered a winter blast along the state's southern coast. Blowing and drifting snow created hazardous driving conditions in the area, resulting in a number of skidding accidents. - WHDH

A delay would have been fun for us.

Darfur update

ABOU SHOUK, Sudan (AP) — Two refugee mothers handed their babies to a U.N. police officer and squeezed in for a picture. Nearby, other officers helped women fill jugs of water.

The friendly scenes — unthinkable just a few weeks ago because of the refugees' hostility toward ineffectual African Union peacekeepers — show that a new joint force is having some initial success helping Darfur's volatile camps.

Good to see even a sliver of progress in Darfur.

Red Sox Acquire Aardsma

BOSTON -- The Red Sox today acquired righthanded pitcher David Aardsma from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for righthanded pitchers Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein. Aardsma, 26, has been added to Boston's major league roster, putting that list at 39 players. The righthander split the 2007 season between the White Sox and Triple-A Charlotte. He opened the season with Chicago and was 2-0, 1.31 with 26 strikeouts in 20.2 innings in his first 14 appearances through May 12. Aardsma led all A.L. relievers with 23 strikeouts in April. Overall, he was 2-1, 6.40 with 36 strikeouts in 32.1 innings in his 25 relief appearances with the White Sox. The righthander spent the second half of 2007 at Charlotte and was 3-2, 4.33 with 15 saves in 18 games. -

It would be great if Aardsma could put up numbers like he did last April.

WGA Strike update

The Directors Guild of America’s National Board of Directors approved that
guild's new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television
Producers this weekend -- paving the way to ratification of the deal by its
general membership.
Now it's a prominent DGA member's role in the upcoming
Academy Awards that might be driving a recent surge toward settlement in the
writers strike.
That member, Gil Cates, is the producer for this year's Oscar broadcast. Let's hope the two sides can make a deal by then. Not because I care about the Oscars...I just want my SNL back.

Brady's playing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Breathe easy Patriots fans, your hobbled hero quarterback
arrived in Arizona in one piece and said that his balky right ankle won't keep
him from playing in Super Bowl XLII.
I'm watching...for the commercials.

Five compete to become selectmen

WAKEFIELD - The race for two seats on the Board of Selectmen has gotten hotter
over the past couple of days with the addition of two names to what was already
a three-person field.
The town election is on April 22. I'll be voting.

Order your Warrior Sweatpants, or else!

Did you miss the first chance to get the Warrior Sweatpants?
Am I the only one who couldn't care less?

No Country wins big

Heavy Oscar favorite No Country for Old Men was the big winner at the Screen
Actors Guild awards, taking home two honors including the group's ensemble
Still haven't seen it. Still want to.

Mormon Leader Hinckley Dead At 97

Gordon B. Hinckley, the president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who led Mormonism through a period of global expansion, died Sunday at his apartment in Salt Lake City. He was 97.

The church, which announced his death on its Web site, said a successor to Mr. Hinckley was not expected to be formally chosen until after his funeral.

Mr. Hinckley spent 46 years in the church’s top leadership ranks, nearly 13 of those as its 15th president, and became the its oldest president.

In a faith that is relatively young, founded in 1830, Mr. Hinckley’s impact was formative.

He traveled to 60 countries and dedicated 95 of the church’s 124 temples, some on sites that he himself had surveyed and selected. Wherever he went, he drew large crowds of church members waving white handkerchiefs, a sign of affection that began in Chile and spread. - New York Times

Utah. Mormon. Utah. Mormon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Coke/Heroin Bust

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Police say they have smashed a major heroin and cocaine distribution ring operating in the Berkshires with the arrests of six people last week.

Police seized thousands of dollars worth of drugs as well as a gun in raids on various locations in Adams, Williamstown, Pittsfield and Greenfield. The raids were the result of a three-month investigation by the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.

Police are still looking for the alleged ringleader of the group, who they say may have fled the state.

Police say they made several undercover purchases of drugs at apartments and hotel rooms in the region.

Some of the suspects were allegedly dealing drugs out of homes where young children lives. Those children have been placed in the custody of the state. - Associated Press

Why do police care what is happening up in the boonies of Western Massachusetts?

Local Bird Infestation...

Obama: "New Chapter in American History"

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Democrat Barack Obama said Sunday that his landslide win in South Carolina's presidential primary marks a turn in political history, showing that a black candidate can appeal to voters of all colors and in all regions.

The Illinois senator told a raucous crowd of more than 9,000 here that his big victory Saturday disproved the old notion "that if you get black votes, you can't get white votes," and vice versa.

"We're going to write a new chapter in the South, we're going to write a new chapter in American history," he said during his 64-minute speech to a capacity crowd at the University of Alabama at Birmingham basketball arena. The crowd was roughly two-thirds black and one-third white.

Good luck finding a textbook that will include that chapter, Barack.

Why Doesn't Sign Lady Hold Signs?

She still walks around Wakefield, but whatever happened to her holding signs in front of WHS?

Satellite May Strike Earth

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Government officials say a large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth in late February or March.

Officials are unsure where it will land and say the satellite may contain hazardous materials. A spokesman for the National Security Council says government agencies are monitoring the situation. There was no comment on whether it could be shot down with a missile.

A similar situation occurred in 2002 when a 7,000 pound science satellite landed harmlessly into the Persian Gulf.

Hopefully, this will also land in a large body of water.

On This Day (January 27)

  • 1343Pope Clement VI issued the papal bull Unigenitus to justify the power of the pope and the use of indulgences.
  • 1888 – Two weeks after a group of over thirty explorers and scientists met in Washington, D.C. to organize "a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge," the National Geographic Society, publisher of the National Geographic Magazine, was incorporated.
  • 1945 – The Soviet Red Army liberated over 7,500 prisoners left behind by Nazi personnel in the Auschwitz concentration camp (entrance pictured) in Oświęcim, Poland.
  • 1967 – The Apollo 1 spacecraft was destroyed by fire at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.
  • 1973 – The Paris Peace Accords were signed in Paris, temporarily ending the Vietnam War with a ceasefire. North Vietnam would violate the treaty one year later when it attacked South Vietnam on December 13, 1974. - Wikipedia
  • Kennedy Declares Support For Obama

    OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

    My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

    Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

    We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960. Read Full Article Here

    Sweet Caroline, Obama is not an option. What are you thinking?

    Saturday, January 26, 2008

    Stolen/Lost Stuff At WHS

    Another issue we will take up at the class meetings is the sorry reality that students must secure their belongings in locked lockers at all times to ensure their safety. Several losses of personal property have been reported to us lately, of IPods, phones, and even coats disappearing. In each instance, students had left these items in either open areas or in unlocked lockers. In some cases, the missing items are located. We have had some good samaritans turn in found items to the office. One parent contacted the school to say her child had an item which was not his, and thus it was returned, but this is a rarity. At the beginning of the year, all students are assigned lockers and given locks. It is our recommendation that students use these assigned lockers to protect their belongings. As electronic devices such as IPods are not allowed during the school day, we do not recommend that students even bring these to school. We do understand that virtually all of our students have cell phones for safety and convenience. These items are also not allowed to be used in classrooms. If they are stowed away for the day in a secure place, there is less temptation to use them at inappropriate times and less chance of losing them. Thank you in advance for helping us with this safety issue. - WHS Update

    There are a lot of idiots at WHS. There are also a bunch of people that feel the need to close open lockers and/or go through them. Lock yo' stuff up.

    WHS Hockey Ties Stoneham 1-1

    J.J Losco had the only goal for Wakefield and some random Stoneham player got the other goal.


    Player Whose Name Sounds The Most Canadian: Roy Monson (Stoneham)

    Player Who Did Absolutely Nothing: Josh Bennett (Backup Goalie)

    Sucked At Line Changes: The entire W.H.S. team

    Best Whistler: W.H.S. coach Derek Edgerly

    Good Job Standing In Front of the Goalie: Richie Brown

    Getting More Playing Time Than Their Elders: All 5 of the W.H.S. freshmen

    Sounds Like A Basketball Player's Name: Gerard Harrington (Stoneham)

    WHS Player Scores For Other Team

    This happened last week but oh well. WHS Basketball player Mike Reynolds makes a great save on a ball that was going to go out of bounds. However, his save ends up going into the other team's basket. It wasn't crucial or anything as the team was getting killed anyway.

    Cellts Take Win Away From T'Wolves, 87-86

    Despite claims otherwise from both sides, this was not just another game. When the Timberwolves and Celtics got together at the TD Banknorth Garden on Friday night for their first regular season matchup since this blockbuster trade, emotions were running high, and the excitement ran higher as Boston edged Minnesota 87-86.

    Kendrick Perkins led the way with 21 points, including the eventual game-winning layup with 16.6 seconds left, but KG (10 points, 16 rebounds) survived a brief abdominal injury scare, and according to Doc Rivers "begged" his way back onto the floor in the final minutes before coming up with the final defensive stop against Sebastian Telfair to seal the win. -

    The Celtics improved their record to 34-7

    Red Sox Reach Terms W/ Snyder

    Kyle Snyder's marked improvement from one year to the next has now paid its dividends. He and the Red Sox agreed to terms on Friday on a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration and leaving Kevin Youkilis as the only arbitration-eligible Sox player still unsigned.

    Just before teams and players officially traded salary figures last Friday, the Sox came to terms on a one-year contract with lefty specialist Javier Lopez, and a week later, they've done the same with Snyder.

    Snyder, 30, enjoyed a breakout season with the Sox last year, thriving in his new role as a middle reliever. He finished with a 2-3 record and 3.81 ERA. -

    Youkilis is asking for $3.7 million, but the Red Sox only want to dish out $2.5 million.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Our latest invention...

    From the people who bring you the Wakefield Étudiant comes...The Wakefield Étudiant Forum! Sign up and start talking!

    One Funny Piece of Text

    Courtesy: Our Dumb World

    Songs of the Week

    Glassjaw- Pretty Lush (2000)

    The Notorious B.I.G.- Suicidal Thoughts (1994)

    The Clash- Clampdown (1980)

    Parliament/ Funkadelic- Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker) (1975)

    The Beatles- The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (1968)

    Bo Diddley- Bo Diddley (1955)

    Étudiant Content Increase Chart

    The Étudiant started off really slow; it took one year for the amount of posts to noticeably increase. WÉ had a bit of a recession from October to December, but we are starting to recover as you can see. We are on pace to break our record number of posts in one month (240). Thanks to Paint for cooperating and making the graph look semi-decent.

    More early election predictions...

    And here's a gem from PresidentElectionPolls:

    Number of electoral votes based on the latest polls for each state:

    • Hillary Clinton - 266
    • John McCain - 256
    Take these polls too seriously and one can expect another recount, and Clinton v. McCain in the Supreme Court. The election's months from now. Anything can happen.

    Nesportsnews @ Wakefield Étudiant

    An interim blog has been set up here at the Étudiant until the improvements at are completed.


    (I apology in advance to readers. There will be more sports news than usual posted here.)

    London Calling - The Clash Review

    London Calling: Don't get me wrong, I like this song. I can't say it is amazing though. It has a hard rock sound to it, which is a bit depressing. Grade: 9 out of 10
    Brand New Cadillac: A fusion of punk, pop, and hard rock. It is catchy, like most pop songs. Grade: 8.0 out of 10
    Jimmy Jazz: A bit of lounge right here. It is very slow, but has "classic" written all over it. Grade: 8.0 out of 10
    Hateful: Hearing definite punk for the first time, this song is better than the previous three. A pop element is still there, though. Grade: 8.5 out of 10
    Rudy Can't Fail: This is a reggae/ska anthem. The combination works well. Grade: 8.75 out of 10
    Spanish Bombs: Sounds similar to "Rudy Can't Fail" with its punk/ska complexion. Grade: 8.0 out of 10
    The Right Profile: Strummer's voice is going to have to grow on me or something. It is hard to get into this song. Grade: 7.5 out of 10
    Lost in the Supermarket: New-Wave and pop like. Eh. Grade: 7.5 out of 10
    Clampdown: A bit more rebellious, this song critiques capitalism. Again, a broad pop element exists in this song. Grade: 8.75 out of 10
    The Guns of Brixton: I am a reggae fan, so this song appealed to me. Not the best, but still very good. Grade: 8.75 out of 10
    Wrong Em' Boyo: Another ska/lounge anthem. It sounds kind of like the background music in the Mattress Giant commercials. Annoying, slightly. Grade: 7.5 out of 10
    Death or Glory: Punk is more defined here; rebellion is included. Kind of sounds like something Against Me! would put out. Grade: 8.75 out of 10
    Koka Kola: A ballad against advertising right here. Strong in terms of punk-ability and intensity. Grade: 9.0 out of 10
    The Card Cheat: Doesn't quite do anything for me. Light punk, you could call it. Grade: 7.75 out of 10
    Lover's Rock: Gay "New Romantic" outfit. It gets better as it progresses, but still I don't know. Grade: 8.5 out of 10
    Four Horsemen: Solid, but ska influenced. Or it maybe it influenced ska, I don't know. Grade: 7.5 out of 10
    I'm Not Down: A decent rock tune right here. This may just be the best track on the album. Grade: 9.0 out of 10
    Revolution Rock: The best reggae track on the album. Grade: 9.25 out of 10
    Train in Vain: This is a popular song and a very good closer. Not exactly my type, but it is not too bad. Grade: 8.5 out of 10

    Total Score: 7.9 out of 10
    Recommendation: Yes if you are a punk/ska/hard rock fan
    Final Comments: The album wasn't amazing. There were a lot of decent and above average songs on there, but there weren't any that really struck me as awesome.

    Mass Immigration Backlog

    Immigrants in Massachusetts and nationwide could wait 16 to 18 months - more than double the usual period - to become US citizens because of a massive backlog, leaving thousands possibly unable to vote in November.

    The backlog is the result of millions of applications for citizenship, green cards, and work permits that swamped immigration offices last summer before hefty fee increases went into effect July 30.

    Federal immigration officials across the nation are hiring hundreds of staff members, paying overtime, and streamlining bureaucracy to process the applications more quickly. In Boston, officials will add more officers and in March will add an extra day, Saturday, to help break up the backlog in citizenship interviews.

    Officials in Massachusetts had hoped the delays would be shorter. But after opening hundreds of applications that came in before the fee increases, a process they finished just recently, they realized the wait could be as long as 18 months, which is also the national average. Before the fee change, the wait here was four to five months, and about six months nationally. - Boston Globe

    Ha, get it? Mass immigration.

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Finding Out True Love Is Blind - Louis XIV

    Here is "Finding Out True Love is Blind," played by Louis XIV on January 20th in Montreal (one day after Chris and I saw them)

    I couldn't help but help laugh when the pianist (with the beard) sings in a girls voice. Also, props to the cellist and the violinist.

    CD Review: Inches

    1) College
    2) Fallback Replacement
    3) Girl Like That
    I had the pleasure of seeing a fine band called Saturday at Nine a few weeks ago. After their lovely set, they handed me this E.P. You can hear "College" and "Girl Like That" on their MySpace, and a live version of "Fallback Replacement" on YouTube.
    The band is a tight five-piece. Their songs are a bit unpredictable, which is a great thing. Check out the sound of the start of the second verse of "College" and the surprising drum and horn breaks. Right in the middle of the studio version of that song, it becomes a Latin song for a verse. Awesome!
    Then comes "Fallback Replacement", with guitar and horns that tell you this could only be a ska song. I like the drum beat on this song. Nice singing and playing.
    "Girl Like That" starts with a great introduction. The studio version is weakened just a little by unintentional changes in tempo going into the second and third verses that are far from subtle. It's still a great song, check out the live versions.
    This E.P has everything I like about ska bands. These three songs are upbeat ones, perfect for that ska dancing Glen loves. But they're also great tunes any music lover can appreciate.
    ****1/2 out of five

    CD Review: Room for Squares

    1) No Such Thing
    2) Why Georgia
    3) My Stupid Mouth
    4) Your Body is a Wonderland
    5) Neon
    6) City Love
    7) 83
    8) 3X5
    9) Love Song for No One
    10) Back to You
    11) Great Indoors
    12) Not Myself
    14) St. Patrick's Day
    There's no thirteenth track. John Mayer's a little superstitious. Just clearing that up.
    Room for Squares is a pop album, but, as with Mayer's other work, with influence from other genres. The solo section in "Your Body is a Wonderland" could pass for modern jazz. Remember, this guy dropped out from Berklee.
    John Mayer makes pop music I can actually enjoy. His material is a far cry from the junk on the airwaves. This guy has what many pop stars do not - talent.
    The guy can write, play, AND sing. His songs have complex chord progressions, a rarity in modern rock. The album displays his skill on guitars acoustic AND electric.
    In all these YouTube links, he's greeted by screaming girls who sing along. Don't be fooled. Speaking of artists with such fans, John Mayer is much closer to a Beatle than to a Backstreet Boy.

    Jérôme Kerviel Named In Société Générale Scandal

    The French bank Société Générale stunned financial markets today by revealing that it had been the victim of a near-€5 billion (£3.7 billion) rogue trading fraud, one of the world's largest and four times the size of the cover-up by Nick Leeson, the man who sank Barings.

    The bank declined to identify the trader, but he has been named as Jérôme Kerviel, a 31-year-old options trader.

    "He is not here and we do not know when he will be back," said a colleague who answered his line at the bank's trading room in La Défense, the business district west of Paris.

    Three of Mr Kerviel's SocGen colleagues said that they were "not authorised to discuss" their friend and directed inquiries to the bank. - Times Online


    Picking the President: Did they support the war?

    Supported war in late 2002 Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, Romney
    Opposed war in late 2002 Gravel, Kucinich, Obama, Paul
    Advantage: those who opposed the war from the start. Now they can say, "I told you so." One point each.

    Darfur update

    BEIJING, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- China said here Thursday it strongly opposes the practice of using the Olympic Games to hype political issues such as Darfur, saying it is in fact destroying and disturbing the preparation works of Olympic Games.

    Well, that's what happens when you support the Sudanese government. From Wikipedia:
    Amnesty International issued a report[100][101][102] accusing Russia and China of supplying arms, ammunition and related equipment to Sudan.
    "It is of apparent political intention and purpose to link the Darfur issue with the Olympics," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a routine press conference. "Such practice violates the Olympic spirit and principle, and will never succeed."

    China is firmly opposed to those persons or organizations who hype particular issues in the name of the Olympics, said Jiang in response to the question that whether China would put more pressure on Sudan as someone considered China's continued support for the regime in Sudan could tarnish the Olympics.

    China will never, ever accept those accusations, said Jiang, adding that international society knows very well that China has exerted a positive and constructive influence on the Darfur issue.

    "I don't know whether those organizations know China's role on the issue and the current situation in the Darfur region," she said.

    China has been the first country to promise and then to dispatch soldiers to participate in peacekeeping missions in Darfur.

    A 140-strong advance troop of a Chinese engineering unit has arrived in Darfur, and the unit is gradually being deployed.

    The political process and peacekeeping deployment in Darfur has achieved progress under the joint efforts of all concerned parties, Jiang said.

    China always maintains that a "double track" strategy -- a balanced combination of political process and the peacekeeping mission should be applied in resolving the Darfur issue, she said.

    China also supports taking advantage of the leading role of the Sudanese government, UN and AU (African Union) negotiation mechanism.

    Meanwhile, various difficulties may arise during the process of the deployment of any UN-AU hybrid-mission peacekeeping missions.

    Jiang called for all concerned parties to increase cooperation so as to resolve related issues through coordination.

    "China will continue to play a constructive role in pushing forward a proper settlement of the Darfur issue," Jiang said.

    Inspiring story

    The giant khakis, size 52, are wider than the average doorway - and they have roughly the same amount of material as a tablecloth.

    Once, they fit 25-year-old Neil Tejwani - back when he weighed 460 pounds. At the time, he was too big to squeeze into anything other than a "gas-guzzling monstrosity" of an SUV; too rotund to cram into a seat at Fenway Park; too heavy to climb the rickety ladder into his attic.

    "That's a quarter of a metric ton," noted the 6-foot-3-inch, now 210-pound Tejwani, humor and disgust mingled in his voice.

    Good to see that in this day in age, when an alarming amount of Americans are obese, some people are taking action to lose weight.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Our Dumb World

    Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of The Planet Earth, 73rd Edition features incorrect statistics on all of the Earth's 168, 182, or 196 independent nations. It also features maps, including a fold-out world map at actual size. Readers will learn about every country from Afghanistan, 'Allah's Cat Box,' to the Ukraine, 'The Bridebasket of Europe.'

    Today's news-parody consumer cannot possibly understand made-up current events without the context of fake world history and geography. That is why The Onion is publishing a world atlas: to help us.

    OUR DUMB WORLD is an invaluable tool for any reader interested in overthrowing a weakened government in East Asia, exploiting a developing nation in Africa, or for directions to tonight's party at Erica's. It is a reference guide to 250,000 of the world's most important places, such as North Korea's Trench of Victory, the Great Human Pyramid of Egypt, and Saudi Arabia's superhighway, the Mohammedobahn. - Hachette Book Groups USA

    This book is amazing. I have only read 60 pages so far and I can assure that you will be laughing constantly. Some references are a little hard to understand, but for the most part this satire is an easy read. And don't get me wrong, the book is outright offensive, stereotypical, sexist, and racist, but you have to take its humor at face value. I will be posting short excerpts from the book each week.

    Darfur update

    KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A surge of truck hijackings threatens to cut off food rations for more than 2 million people in Darfur, the World Food Program said Wednesday, after 22 of its vehicles were attacked and stolen this month alone.

    Things just aren't getting much better in Darfur.
    With 18 drivers still missing, the U.N. agency said its main contracting companies refuse to send more food convoys into Darfur.

    "If the situation continues, we'll be forced to cut rations in parts of Darfur by mid-February," Kenro Oshidari, the head of WFP operations in Sudan, said in a statement.

    The increase in violence comes barely three weeks after the United Nations took over peacekeeping in the remote region of western Sudan where 2.5 million people have been chased into refugee camps by five years of war.

    Five separate attacks targeted aid workers throughout Darfur just on Tuesday, officials said. Among those were ambushes of two WFP convoys in West Darfur and the detention of five WFP staff when their cars were stolen near the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher.

    "They've now been released, but it was pretty traumatic," said Emilia Casella, the WFP spokeswoman in Sudan.

    A vehicle from the United Nations security services was also attacked near the West Darfur capital of El Geneina, while an aid group's car was attacked inside the capital, which is under Khartoum government control.

    The agency said it didn't know who was behind the latest attacks, which it blamed on "bandits."

    Top U.N. aid officials met with the Sudanese government Wednesday to extend by a year the agreement that allows international aid groups to work in Sudan, but the meeting didn't address the increased hijackings.

    WGA strike update

    It was hoped that the new contract between the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers might reignite long-dormant talks between AMPTP and the Writers Guild.

    We have ignition. Sort of. Both sides have agreed to talk about talking. (I couldn't make this up.)

    According to a letter from Patrick Verrone and Michael Winship (presidents of the WGA's west and east coast factions, respectively), the guild has "responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations." So as not to jinx this chance to get the producers back to the table, the guild called for a total media blackout and discouraged any WGA members from talking to the press.

    Again, the guild's primary concern is royalties and residuals from new media - D.V.D.s, the Internet, but they were also hoping to get even more from the strike...
    The writers made a significant concession to grease the wheels: "In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation."

    Richard Branson unveils spaceship

    NEW YORK—Within a few years, a handful of rich tourists may be blasting into space in a craft that looks a little like a cross between the space shuttle and a corporate jet.

    British billionaire Richard Branson and the aerospace designer Burt Rutan unveiled a model Wednesday of SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle they hope will be able to take passengers on suborbital joy rides, sheerly for the fun of it, with test flights beginning as soon as this year.

    "Breathtakingly beautiful," was Branson's assessment of the ship, which is now under construction at a hangar in the Mojave Desert.

    Speaking to reporters at the American Museum of Natural History, the pair also showed off a model of the big, four-engine jet that will help launch the craft into space.

    The twin-fuselage airplane, called the White Knight Two, will carry SpaceShipTwo high into the sky beneath a single 140-foot wing.

    The spacecraft would then separate from the plane and rocket into suborbital space, where as many as six passengers and two crew members could unbuckle themselves and experience weightlessness and an unparalleled view before gliding back to Earth.

    Passengers would get about 4 1/2 minutes of zero-gravity time, floating about a ship roughly the size of a Falcon 900 executive jet, before returning to their seats.

    Will Whitehorn, president of Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, insisted the project is no pipe dream; construction on the White Knight Two is already more than 70 percent complete.

    One more snippet...
    The spacecraft looks decidedly different from its predecessor, SpaceShipOne, which earned Rutan's team a $10 million prize in 2004 by becoming the first privately built, manned rocket ship to fly into space twice in a span of two weeks.

    SpaceShipOne was smaller, with just three seats, and looked remarkably like something Flash Gordon would have flown.

    Happenings at budget hearing

    WAKEFIELD - How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
    State Rep. Mark Falzone (D-Saugus) used this old adage to make his final point after fielding questions from concerned citizens and School Committee members at last night’s public budget hearing in the high school’s John A. Volpe Library.
    Joining Falzone was Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei (R-Wakefield).
    Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers said that the turnout of more than 100 people validated the community’s commitment to quality education in the town’s schools. “I’m thrilled that so many are here to show their support,” she said.

    We don't have a bad school system in this town. I've been going to Wakefield public schools since preschool, and I've had fine teachers and gotten a fine education. We just happen to be in something of a financial muddle.
    The two legislators were asked questions ranging from whether they support closing corporate loopholes to what they thought about introducing casinos to the Commonwealth to increase revenue stream. The Chapter 70 account, the major line-item of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools, also was heavily discussed. In addition to providing state aid to support school operations, Chapter 70 also establishes minimum spending requirements for each school district and minimum requirements for each municipality’s share of school costs.
    One mother, whose child is a first-grade student at Greenwood School, said she is extremely concerned about the school budget. “Oil alone has seen a 70 percent increase,” she said. “We cannot run schools under these conditions. MCAS scores have gone down. Money needs to be invested in curriculum and staff. There’s no one to fix computers when they go down. I want to see the school budget get the same respect the quieting of train horns in the town is getting.”

    Yeah, how about that technology department? Oh, and remember this post about train horns?
    Another mother, whose children are students at Galvin Middle School, objected to the elimination of library aides. “Good libraries impact literacy, academic achievement and technology skills,” she said. “A library without aides is a just a collection of materials. Someone needs to help students understand the material.”

    A library without librarians? That's just ludicrous.
    Peter DeRoeve, assistant superintendent for personnel and finance, offered reassurance that positions recently cut from the budget would be reinstated. “We’re looking at $300,000 in adjustments,” he said.
    The total bottom line budget is $28,123,670 for fiscal 2009, which begins this year on July 1 and ends June 30, 2009.
    Though this was welcome news, it did nothing to dispel Jim Sullivan’s concerns about his child not having access to a computer lab. “Kids aren’t another piece of equipment we can get another year out of. Whatever dollars we get need to be spent appropriately,” he said.

    No comp lab in G-wood? Wow, that school's in even worse shape than I thought!
    The most vexing problem of all - where will the money come from - remained largely unsolved, though both Falzone and Tisei said they are doing everything they can to see that the town gets its fair share of money. “We fight tirelessly for Wakefield,” said Falzone.
    Tisei said that he and other legislators are hearing the same concerns expressed at last night’s meeting all over the state. “Communities that have been well run are the ones hitting the wall,” he said. Tisei added that the town does a good job managing the budget but that alarm bells are going off.
    “The universal health care bill could bankrupt the state,” he said. “We’re in for a tough budget year.”
    Gov. Deval Patrick will disclose his budget today but Tisei said he didn’t know if state aid for the town had been factored in. If it is, the School Department could expect between $180,000 and $300,000 in new Chapter 70 money.
    Tisei also said there are 97 communities throughout the state that have not had local aid restored when there is a fiscal crisis. Wakefield, he said, is one of the 97.
    “A return to level funding would require about $31 million and $121,000 would be Wakefield’s share,” he said.
    A rainy day account funded by lottery money currently has $2.2 billion that could be spread among communities to stabilize underfunded school budgets. Tisei commented that it’s “pouring locally,” but considering Tuesday’s actions in the marketplace, he thought it would be unwise to tap this fund for a one-time fix. “We’re facing a $1.5 billion deficit this year,” he said. “If a recession continues for more than a year, we’ll need those funds.”

    Be wary of the recession. Someone's gotta pay for all that.
    School Committee member Carmen Urbonas said that if Chapter 70 is not reformed, the gap will only widen. “Wakefield cannot continue to sit here and be grateful for what we get. We keep hearing next year is going to be worse - there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”

    I just hope the students of future years will receive the education they deserve from the great school system in this town. But it's gonna take money.

    Tisei lobbies for funds for Greenwood School

    Wakefield - When Wakefield learned at the end of November that the Massachusetts School Building Authority had denied its funding requests for priority projects at three of the town’s public schools, many people were disappointed, to say the least. And though the needs are great at the Galvin and the high school, nowhere is funding for repairs and improvements needed more than at the Greenwood Elementary School, built in 1897 and housing 278 students in grades K-4.

    At a cost between $15 and $16 million, the systems that need attention include roofing, HVAC, electrical distribution, plumbing, fire alarm system, technology and accessibility.

    Wakefield, along with Melrose and Saugus, is one of 11 communities north of Boston that submitted proposed school projects but are not in the mix for the first wave of potential funding by the state School Building Authority. (Seven others did make the cut.) The authority categorized the projects submitted from these towns in the “hold” or “planning” stages, meaning that it may be a while before state money is available.

    Following a Dec. 20 walk through at the school with representatives from the school and finance committees, principal Deborah Collura, Superintendent Joan Landers and the candidates for state representative, state Sen. Richard Tisei wrote a letter to the Massachusetts School Building Authority executive director Katherine Craven asking the authority to release state funds to pay for renovations and an addition to the Greenwood.

    Thought Wakefield High was in bad shape? Read what Greenwood's like.
    Although the building itself is structurally sound, Tisei noted that “teachers and administrators are trying to educate 21sth century students in a 19th century facility that was constructed 111 years ago and does not conform to today’s educational standards.”

    “Climate control is a major problem,” Tisei wrote. “During the winter months, the heat must constantly be turned off and on throughout the day for proper temperature regulation, leaving some classrooms very cold and others extremely warm, and creating uncomfortable conditions for both students and teachers that are not conducive to learning.”

    More on Lord Wakefield fire

    An e-mail requested a follow-up to this post. I looked for "Lord Wakefield" in Google News and found this on the Wakefield Observer's site.

    Wakefield - Jay E. Valade, 50, of Stoneham was pronounced dead at the scene inside his Ford F-150 truck in the early morning hours of Jan. 16 after police and firefighters received a call reporting that the truck was on fire in the parking lot of the Lord Wakefield Hotel.

    What A Tool

    Rapper Lil Wayne was arrested on three felony drug charges early Wednesday after federal agents said they found illegal drugs including cocaine on his charter bus at a checkpoint in southwestern Arizona.Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was being held at the Yuma County Sheriff's jail on state drug charges, Capt. Eben Bratcher said.Carter appeared via video arraignment late Wednesday morning in a justice court in Wellton, 35 miles east of Yuma.

    Why is this even a story...on CNN no less?

    Posting From School

    Posting from school is a very fun activity.

    Bush Lied

    WASHINGTON—A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that
    President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false
    statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years
    following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
    The study concluded that the
    statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized
    public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false
    The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for
    Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
    White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the
    study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world
    community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.
    "The actions
    taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence
    agencies around the world
    ," Stanzel said. - Boston Globe

    Is that a valid reason?

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Oscar nominations announced

    Two art house films ruled the roost at the 80th Annual Academy Award nominations, as No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood tied for the most nods with eight each.

    Didn't see either of them. Want to see them. Once they hit D.V.D.

    Picking the President: More Iraq

    No residual forces, full withdrawal in four months Paul, Gravel, Kucinich
    Leave a residual force, withdraw the other troops over the next year Clinton, Edwards, Obama
    No timetable for withdrawal Giuliani, Huckabee, Hunter, McCain, Romney
    Vote Gopher won't update its charts, so I'll do it. Anyway...I'm with Paul, Gravel, and Kucinich. The way to proceed is by slowly bringing everyone back home. We shouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place, we had no business there. Now we do. Let's make it so we don't have any business there any more. One point to the race's top three candidates, Paul, Gravel, and Kucinich.

    WGA not to picket Grammy Awards

    The Writers Guild of America, West, has decided not to picket the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards, which will air live on CBS from Los Angeles.

    Yawn. I'm a music junkie, and I couldn't care less about the Grammy Awards. It's not really a celebration of the year's best music. More like big shot corporate executives patting each other on the backs.

    Heath Ledger found dead in New York

    NEW YORK—Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan residence, and police said drugs may have been a factor.

    Sometimes the Grim Reaper appears even when you never would have expected him to. Who knew a young, handsome, successful actor would pass away so soon? And who knew he was doing drugs? Rest in peace, Heath. You were great in The Patriot, and I'll be seeing you in The Dark Knight...though your scenes will be even creepier now.

    Town files suit against Millbrook Estates

    WAKEFIELD - The town has filed suit against Falite Bros., Inc. and its limited liability company, Millbrook Estates, LLC, for breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy, among other allegations in a nine-count civil action.

    If the town's allegations are true, Milbrook Estates really screwed us over.
    The town alleges that the defendants “retained or secreted excess profits of $1,324,019 belonging to the Town under the Regulatory Agreement."

    Cross Off Fred

    Fred Thompson announced today he is dropping out, further winnowing the Republican presidential field before the key Jan. 29 primary in Florida.

    "Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Thompson said in a statement.

    Thompson, the former actor and US senator from Tennessee, was once seen as a savior by conservatives, but waged a campaign largely viewed as lethargic. He waited until September to enter the race and he briefly appeared at the top of national polls. But he never caught on with the Republican rank-and-file. After declaring South Carolina's primary to be his last stand, he finished a disappointing third on Saturday.

    The "true conservative" who isn't a "true conservative" is gone. Yay.

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    I Am Legend Predicts Super Bowl

    "Giants lose to Patriots for second time this season 23-7"
    Second time = Super Bowl for all you non-NFL followers.

    Flea Market

    This is definitely up there in the category "Funniest Videos"

    Guitar Hero 3: Best-Selling Game of All Time

    Activision today announced that its Guitar Hero series has pushed past the $1 billion mark since its debut 26 months ago, citing NPD Group data. In North America alone, the series has sold more than 14 million units. In addition to that news, the company pointed out that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the top-selling title in 2007, making it the best-selling video game of all time in a single calendar year—thanks to the fact that it appeared simultaneously on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360.

    "Guitar Hero is one of the biggest brands and one of the most powerful distribution platforms in all of entertainment today," said Michael Griffith, president and chief executive officer of Activision Publishing Inc. "Guitar Hero's popularity with broad audiences is a confirmation that video games have become a true mass medium."

    Good for Activision. But remember: the best-selling game of all time is not equal to the best video game of all time.

    Picking the President: Iraq

    Set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson, Paul
    Continue the war without a withdrawal timetable Giuliani, Huckabee, Hunter, McCain, Romney, Thompson
    Yo, Vote Gopher, update your charts! Biden, Dodd, and Richardson all dropped out, you know. But I digress.
    It's time to set a timetable. We shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the first place, and we're just wasting money and lives down there. The sooner we're out, the better. One point to the Democrats and Ron Paul.

    Darfur update

    KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — The suspected head of a Sudanese militia accused of murder, rape and other atrocities in Darfur has received a senior government post, the Sudanese government confirmed Monday.

    You gotta be kidding me.

    WGA strike update

    LOS ANGELES -- In the latest effort to end the ongoing Hollywood writers' strike, the leadership of the Writers Guild of America's West Coast branch will meet informally Tuesday with two top studio executives to discuss the framework of a return to the bargaining table, according to people familiar with the matter.

    I hope the writers and executives can reach some kind of compromise. And soon! Have you SEEN Conan? He's a wreck without his writers!

    Fire in Lawrence leaves 150 homeless

    LAWRENCE – A fire in an abandoned nightclub early this morning erupted into an inferno that spread to at least 15 buildings in a dense neighborhood of homes and businesses.

    No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, but the blaze tore through part of a city block and burned with such ferocity that the flames could literally be heard roaring. White smoke could be seen rising for at least 10 miles.

    As many as 380 people were evacuated, said Lawrence Mayor Michael J. Sullivan. He said the included both those left homeless and people from neighboring homes whose power had been cut as a precaution. Twenty-six apartments were destroyed or damaged by the blaze, authorities said.

    The fire near the corner of Market and Parker streets was first reported at 2:30 a.m., not far from the Lawrence commuter rail station. It appears to have begun in the Millennium nightclub, which was under renovation.

    "The fact that the fire began in a vacant building does raise red flags for us," said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. "We are treating this as a suspicious fire."

    The nightclub had utilities and the walls were bare, which allowed the flames to spread quickly, Coan said.

    The fire has been contained but burned so hot through the morning that steel building frames turned white. Just before midday, ladder trucks were still pouring water down on smoldering triple deckers and orange flames continued to leap from the crater that had once been a building.

    The structures that burned included 26 apartments in at least 10 residential buildings and two businesses, fire officials said. Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said one person was treated for minor smoke inhalation. By early afternoon, 54 people were at the Red Cross crisis center in a Lawrence school, most of them expected to stay the night. Red Cross officials estimated that another 100 people lost their homes but planned to stay with family or friends.

    Hope all those people can find homes soon.

    Town politics

    WAKEFIELD - An effort by Chairman James Good to name fellow selectman John Encarnacao to head a committee to work on the disposition and future sale of the vacant Hurd and Franklin school buildings has been delayed, at least temporarily, after Selectman Albert Turco questioned the move.

    I remember when those schools were still open. I feel old.

    Fake Radiohead Dates

    Radiohead is going on tour sometime in 2008. That is known. What aren't known are the dates, the venues, and the times. Bogus dates for the tour recently spread. The press team for Radiohead has not published any official dates so if you find any that look like the ones below, they are fake.Anyway, be prepared to dish out mad sums of cash to see the band when they officially go on tour.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Comments temporarily disabled, thanks to you-know-who

    They'll be back real soon.

    Film Review: The Decline of Western Civilization

    Title: The Decline of Western Civilization

    Year: 1981

    Genre: Documentary

    Plot Outline: The film focuses on the burgeoning Los Angeles Punk scene in 1979 and 1980 and how it would slowly evolve into the hardcore scene that took the nation by storm. 'Decline' portrays the ups and downs of the Punk Rock world. The grittiness, the pogoing, the slam dancing (now more well known as moshing), the raw intensity of the music and lyrics, and of course the artists themselves. There are seven bands included in the film, most of which are some of my absolute favorites. But enough of me, here are the bands: Black Flag ( pre- Henry Rollins), The Germs, X, Circle Jerks, Fear, Catholic Discipline, and The Alice Bag Band. All, but the last two have maintained a relatively exceptional legacy and prominent place in music history.

    Why you should see this film?: First and foremost to view legendary artists and true Punk Rock at its finest; none of that wimpy, phony, built for a buck Fall out Boy shit. But, if you are already a fan of these iconic figures, then all the more reason to check out this Doc. You will see amazing, hilarious, and ferocious footage of your favorite bands.

    Where can I find this film?: I'm not going to lie to you this a rare ( but classic) gem. It is currently out of print, but don't worry you can download it off of Ares and possibly Lime Wire, and I would try any other program you have, if you don't already have the latter. Fortunately Penelope Spheeris (director) has discussed re- releasing the flick, so maybe you'll see it in stores in the near future. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

    My Rating: A , a fabulous, archetype documentation of the underground, Los Angeles scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Truly one of my all time favorite flicks! Note: the year is 1981. This is not just another Punk Rock doc. made by people who were never there. This is a live account of the thriving Punk scene during its momentum. The footage you see in the film is there strictly for the film, it's not just some random concert video they chocked out from stock footage. P.S. the interviews are screamers!

    CD Review: The Stranger

    1) Movin' Out
    2) The Stranger
    3) Just the Way You Are
    4) Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
    5) Vienna
    6) Only the Good Die Young
    7) She's Always a Woman
    8) Get it Right the First Time
    9) Everybody Has a Dream
    Thanks, Christina. I hadn't heard this album in its entirety until after you named it as your favorite Billy Joel album. So, last night, I bought it at F.Y.E., telling myself, "This BETTER be as good as Christina thinks it is!" I kid.
    Well, it IS a damn good album. My only complaint is that it sounds dated in spots. I guess that's what happens when you make an album in 1977.
    Every song is good, with the very best track easily being "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant". Billy's a great songwriter and storyteller, nowhere better exemplified than in this song. Some lovely sax work from Richie Cannata breaks this story into chapters, as explained in this video.
    Love the other songs, too. "Movin' Out" is another display of Billy's storytelling. "The Stranger" sounds a bit dated, what with the disco beat, but listen to the words, and you'll get a thought-provoking description of the side of yourself you hide from certain people. And unlike that lecture Mrs. McDonough gave you about that two years ago, you can disco-dance to this song. Then comes the classic cheesy ballad, "Just the Way You Are". Gotta love that electric piano. Want a treat? Check out José Feliciano's cover. Don't forget the accent on the e.
    And that's just the first half! All in all, Billy's excellent songs, combined with top-notch performances and production, make for what may indeed be his best work. Thanks, Christina.
    ****3/4 out of five