Vintage Wine for Breakfast and Naked Starlets Floating in Champagne

The title of this blog post comes from the Elvis Costello song "This is Hell." It doesn't have anything to do with this post, really-- I've just had that song stuck in my head all morning. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the Pentagon is now employing brainless, ideology-spewing dittoheads who may not be able to secure the homeland, but who are always on message. Or this story, located under "News of the Weird" on the Sun-Sentinel's website, about a poor Hummer-owner whose vehicle was vandalized by "eco-terrorists" in his neighborhood. Look, vandalism's bad, mm'kay? But not as had as driving one of those massive moron mobiles. I get that you're insecure about the size of your dick, but you just don't need a vehicle that huge. And nobody has any business driving such an inefficient vehicle-- our planet is dying, people! Don't be stupid.

Okay. Maybe I'm in a bit of a bad mood. Those arrogant pricks the Twisted Misters won the World Series of Pop Culture last night. I can't be the only one who's pissed.

Anyway, in an attempt to accentuate the positive, here's a glowing book review: Everyone who reads this blog should go out and buy a copy of David Griffith's A Good War is Hard to Find. It's the best book I've read all summer-- and I've read a lot of books this summer. Griffiths is, for the moment, my favorite young essayist-- he's self-effacing without being formulaic (which puts him ahead of David Sedaris); he writes about pop culture without being vapid (which puts him ahead of Chuck Klosterman); he's progressive in his politics without being reductive or pedantic (which puts him ahead of Michael Moore); he reflects on spiritual matters without getting preachy (which puts him ahead of... every other Christian with a book, lately).

Seriously, this book was incredible. I'm appearing on a panel with Griffiths at NonfictioNow in November, and I'm hoping some of his phenomenal talent will rub off on me while we're sitting at the front of the room together. I suppose I could kill him and eat his heart, but that seems at odds with the pacifist message that's at the core of this book that impressed me so, so I probably won't.

Here's one of my favorite passages, on the sanctimonious Christian right and their utter abandonment of Christianity's basic tenets:

"In general, Americans have been convinced that diplomacy and reconciliation are tactics of the weak, not the brave and the free-- an outright denial of the grace the Christian God extend to those who admit their sins and repent. Most Americans consider America a Christian nation in its promotion of life and liberty. But exactly whose lives and liberty is abundantly clear: Ours, Not Theirs. By what distorted theology does this make America Christian?"

Anyway, here's a Random Ten. You know the rules-- shuffle, transcribe, and don't self-censor. If "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" comes up, that's awesome-- write it down.

1) Tom Waits-- "Gun Street Girl"
2) The Velvet Underground-- "The Black Angel's Death Song"
3) Lou Reed and John Cale-- "Faces and Names"
4) John Cale and Bob Neuwirth-- "Maps of the World"
5) Annie Lennox-- "No More I Love Yous"
6) Violent Femmes-- "American Music"
7) Ron Sexsmith-- "Dandelion Wine"
8) Pete Yorn-- "For Nancy ('Cos it Already Is)"
9) James-- "Laid"
10) Morrissey-- "Away in a Manger"

Okay. That last one is a lie. As we've discussed before, even though it would be awesome, Morrissey does not have a Christmas album. Yet. The last song should read

10) Morrissey-- "Irish Blood, English Heart"

Oddly enough, songs 2, 3, and 4 all feature John Cale in some capacity. It's like my computer knows I've been listening to John Cale all week or something.

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