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2020 Election Has Begun- Ch-ch-changes
johnny
bedsitter23
Despite the fact that John Delaney is running ads every night, there is not much that there is to blog about for the 2020 Iowa caucuses yet.

However, there are some big changes that were announced in December that will change the Caucuses forever.

This probably did not get a lot of attention, but actually could have big implications.

If you don't understand the Iowa Caucus (particularly the Democrat caucus), you don't understand how weird the process is.  I lived in a state prior that had primaries and those are fairly straight forward.  You go in some time from 7am to 9pm (or whenever) and cast a ballot.

The caucus requires physical presence for the vote.  It takes place on a Tuesday night at 7pm.  The people who show up, vote.  If you have to work, you are out of town, you are sick, the Iowa January weather does what Iowa January weather does, or anything prevents you from attending at your designated location at the specific time, your vote does not count.

That will be forever changed, when the Democrats allow absentee ballots going forward.  Will it change things?  Well, it might.  The people who attend the caucus are generally 9-to-5ers.  Will this open up a younger demographic or a less affluent crowd of second shifters.  Would this have put Bernie Sanders over the top in 2016, stunning the world (instead, Sanders stopped just short of the stun, with a great showing but on the wrong side of 49.8 to 49.3. 

Would Howard Dean have fared better than a disastrous 18% Third Place finish if his supporters could have been organized to get ballots in leading up to Caucus Day?  Would he have at least survived to make it as the primary competition to John Kerry and went into Super Tuesday in that role instead of John Edwards?


The other change seems insignificant but may be more important than you think.  The Democrat Party plans on publishing the vote tallies of the caucuses.  This is a big deal, but again, only if you understand the process.

While the Republicans also caucus, their vote is basically a straw poll, and they post the vote totals.  The Democrat process is a bit more complicated.  A vote is taken, but if a candidate does not get 15% of the vote, then they are not considered 'viable', and a revote is taken.  At the end of the process, delegates are assigned on that revote (and sometimes multiple revotes).

What does that mean?  Well, at my caucus in 2016, Martin O'Malley had 12 votes, while clearly not game changing, was just over 6% of the crowd assembled.  Because, he was not at 15%, the results of my caucus was HilRod 4, Bernie 3, Martin 0.  Well, which sounds better 6% or zero.  (Also worth noting, another local caucus, Hillary had 44 votes while Bernie only had 29, but because of the math, what was reported was that this caucus was a 2-2 tie).

Again, I am not sure if this would have changed winners in 2016, but as close as it was, we would have a more accurate picture of where people stood.  If indeed Bernie was more popular, or (don't yell at me) if maybe his numbers were inflated.

In any case, it became a two person race.  O'Malley had half a percentage point in the delegate count. Now, if he had polled more accurately at 5%, it might not have been enough to convince him to stay in the race, but then again, he may have thought it worthwhile to hang around a little longer, and given both candidates' baggage, he may have got some momentum.

You can probably pick any caucus, but I would also point 2008 when Bill Richardson and Joe Biden polled in the 5-10% range.  The eventual headline was that it was now a three person race (Obama, Clinton, Edwards) since Richardson only had 2.1% of the delegate vote and Biden less than one percent.  Still, if a more accurate count was given of actual support, maybe four candidates could have moved forward.

Also of note, it likely was those second-choice Richardson and Biden votes that pushed Obama over Clinton.  Would Obama's victory have been so shocking if it had been printed side-by-side with the fact that Hillary was still the most popular candidate with everyone figured in.

In any case, history can't be changed and we don't know what the future holds, so we just have to wait to see if these changes have massive effects or none at all.




On the Shelf 193: Brian Fallon
johnny
bedsitter23
The Gaslight Anthem are one of the best new bands of the last 15 years.

A funny thing happened on the way. Their debut Sink Or Swim was, but their breakout The 59 Sound made them. The band continued bigger and bigger until by the time they recorded their 5th record, Get Hurt, they had striven for such an anthemic sound that they were into Bon Jovi territory. The band clearly had went all in on their Pearl Jam and grunge influences, but only came up with the worse characteristics of those bands.

It's a much shorter path than you think from the young punks of U2s Boy to Rattle and Hum bombast, and the Anthem had done that and then some. The truly ironic thing is the biggest Gaslight Anthem sounding song to date was last Year's "Run For Cover" by The Killers which pilfered the formula.

In an unlikely turn of event, by going solo, Brian Fallon has kept himself relevant. He seems to be so tied to the band, that like Mick Jagger or Michael Hutchence, a solo album seems unnecessary.

2016's Painkillers allowed Fallon to do what he was good at, and give it new breath (I should put in a good word for his Horrible Crowes side project as well).

Painkillers was if not, acoustic, certainly intimate, and allowed Fallon to get closer to Nebraska than to Born in the USA.

It was a solid record with true feeling.

A follow up was due and necessary, but Fallon couldn't release Painkillers II.

Sleepwalkers was a smart follow up. Fallon has claimed 60s influences, but it's in a very "Maximum R&B" style. He's clearly thrown in some Jam records (see the opening track "If your Prayers.." with his Clash (and wisely avoids Style Council territory).

It's a move that pays off. Springsteen clearly is the touchpoint, but Fallon is smart enough to be his own man. Indeed, Fallon's youth allows him to get away with things that The Boss couldn't do at this point.

This type of rock can veer towards self-parody, and more than one reviewer at this point has compared Fallon to Eddie and the Cruisers. He generally finds himself on the right side of that line.

Etta James is a great singer, but Fallon's track of the same time is a bit of where it goes wrong when he dials the production up. Some just pass that line, but Fallon's conviction passes them on.

There is probably some irony that this won't get as much attention without the Gaslight Anthem name, but it's a solid album. Check out closer "See You on the Other Side" which would sound fine on an alt-country record, and "Her Majesty's Service" which sounds like if Joe Strummer had never stopped busking.




Comic Reviews : Last Part of February 2018
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Hellboy and the BPRD : 1955--Burning SeasonHellboy and the BPRD : 1955--Burning Season by Mike Mignola

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As you know, I have been pressuring my comic book shop owner to get more Dark Horse titles, but it also forces me to buy them. It could be worse, of course, I picked up everything I could find with Mignola's name on it from the late 90s until about 2013. Besides, although it seems his World is limited, he has found some logical and imaginative ways to expand it and keep it true.

I hadn't read any of the BPRD 1955 stuff, but i knew the story was self-contained, so wasn't worried. Immediately, I thought of the great potential in a 1950s military story and it's an era that seems to go untapped. I immediately thought of Chaykin and Tischman's American Century series for Vertigo which I remember fondly after time, and Garth Ennis's quick dabble with Nick Fury in a 50s-based miniseries.

I was off though. It's a different type of 1950s. That, of the post-war boom and the road trip on the newly created interstates. This one-shot is deeply seeped in Florida. Carl Hiassen would be proud.

Pretty basic Hellboy story. Self-contained and if you dig into some of the real world references, you will be awed even more. Paolo Rivera is great as is David Stewart and the rest of the art team who have a very classic Hellboy look with a strong 50s feel.

Personally, since this was a one-shot, I would have liked to seen it done as an oversized comic and paid $5 or $6 as opposed to the 3.99 price tag. There's a lot here to work with, and it might not be enough for a miniseries, but could have been served well by a bit more.




Hit-Girl #1Hit-Girl #1 by Mark Millar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


On the back of reviews of the Kick Ass reboot and reports of a 'more mature' Mark Millar, we shouldn't be surprised to see this.

Millar is back to the original characters and the appropriate accompanying ultraviolence, placing Hit Girl into Colombia to dole her out particular brand of justice.

I can't help but think of the other violent, adult-themed comic I am currently reading, which is Bendis's recent Jessica Jones title. Granted, after the first issue of that comic, I didn't think it was necessary, but has been a great read. There's tension, dialogue and character development. You know, none of the stuff here.

But hey, I am a huge Millar fan and there is room for both titles on the rack.

Ricardo Lopez Ortiz does the art. It is a very sketchy style, not quite something you would call anime, but designed to bring a certain amount of chaos to paper. I respect the artistic decision, though if pressed to decide, I would say I am not a fan.

John Romita Jrs style has defined the KickAss franchise for me, and deviation from that style is a bit risky.

Otherwise, your opinion of course, will depend on what you think of Millar. I looked at a few reviews and you will find 10-out-of-10s and 3-on-a-scale-of-10. It is Millar, so I am in. There are a couple of lines in there that are 'classic winking ironic style Millar' and I love it; but even as a huge fan, you also might get me to admit that there really isn't much more to this title than that.

This particular version of the series probably will be forgotten in five years time, but if you like Millar doing what Millar does, then know that it's out there and pick it up.



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Comic Reviews : First Part of February 2018
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The Flash Annual #1The Flash Annual #1 by Joshua Williamson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I write comic reviews because I like to. I know that maybe four people read them, but I write them for myself as much as the possibility someone will read it. I don't have any great insight or knowledge, just that I was generally right there for the great books of the last 25 years when they came out. I do read comics in the traditional weekly way as single issues every Wednesday (I used to read quite a bit of graphic novels, but rarely read more than 3 a year any more) I don't have the time or energy to write reviews for comics that come out every week. So I write about the issues that are the most important (the #1s and the stand alones), which I think is logical (Goodreads doesn't feel anyone should use their platform to talk about individual issues, but they can't really stop me).

The problem inherent of course is a series can take many twists and turns after I write about the first issue: It can gel and come together, it can become a mess, it can overstay its welcome, and variations of all those (Williamson's Nailbiter, though I recommend it, probably checks all those boxes).

So, I can use this moment to say Williamson's Flash is one of my favorite current titles.

To reveal my biases, I am more into characters that I feel have some sense of realism. Like the average American movie viewer, than generally means Marvel titles and Batman. It probably also means I have missed some great Green Lantern stories over the years. Flash sort of straddles that line, but it is a character I generally like, and often return to. When Williamson came aboard I was in.

I have generally enjoyed his run. If you know me, you know I think Annuals are generally unnecessary cash-ins, but I picked this one up.

The annual spends some time on Wally West. Like the regular run, I feel Williamson has done a good job with using the traditional Flash characters, but not making it so steeped in tradition that new readers are lost.

The characters, as in the series, are fleshed out and are perfect in a DC Universe kind of way. I probably don't need to mention Howard Porter's art, which is always complementary.

The annual does a great job in taking the first half and summing up Williamson's run to date, and then in the second half, transitioning as a prelude to Flash War.

If you're picking this up, you are probably picking it up as a supplement to the current series. It works well in that context.

Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt (2018-) #1 (Dark Nights: Metal (2017-))Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt (2018-) #1 (Dark Nights: Metal by Grant Morrison

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


In very many ways, I am a Grant Morrison fan. However, there are things he writes that drive me nuts. I generally do not like the big DC comics events he has curated like Multiversity. It is a tired meme that he is the David Lynch of comics, but I do not get much pleasure in his big multiverse cosmic events.

Scott Snyder’s Metal is very much in the vein of Morrison, clearly inspired by Morrison, and if the debt wasn’t plain enough to see, he has got Morrison to write this title as a tie-in to the series.

I am of two minds on Metal. There are parts I enjoy, and clearly the writers (Snyder, Williamson, Tnion IV) are talented. Also, clearly, people love Metal, but I also consider myself a bit of a nontraditional comic fan and I look at stuff like this and wonder how people can enjoy it. Although, clearly they do.

The Wild Knight with Morrison as top credit (with Snyder et al) is Morrison-type DC "Big Event" at the most Morrisonesque. It starts promisingly enough with one of Morrison’s favorite characters Detective Chimp and a well- written origin tale. It then goes into…. Ummm. I can’t really tell you. There’s a Red Tornado story for sure, and the Flash is in there, and there’s a tie-in to the Batmen story from Metal in there, and there certainly is something resembling a Chimpanzee Batman at the end.

I probably should have said Spoiler Alert to those who have not yet read it, but I don’t think I am much farther along than you.

The art is DC event caliber, but I thought it was all pretty much a mess. There’s Porter, Mahnke, and Jimenez, so it’s quality, but I don’t feel like it works much in the comic's favor.

There’s also plenty of five star reviews around for this issue, but I don’t get it. There certainly are moments and panels that are clearly inspired, but these are the comics that leave me shaking my heads and saying “I don’t get it”. Woe to the first time reader who picks up this title.




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Kick-Ass (2018-) #1Kick-Ass (2018-) #1 by Mark Millar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Everything fades with time. The hottest trends all eventually fade. Mariah Carey, Deal or No Deal. Upturned Collars . They all eventually fade away. Whether its Fidget Spinners or Pokemon Go or Ricky Martin. So it is with Mark Millar.

Millar was the hottest thing in comics and he parlayed that to where his were the hottest movies of the day. Kick-Ass, Wanted, Kingsman- all were pretty fresh at the time. Although I loved his Kick Ass comic- after three comic series, two movies and a Hit Girl Series, I have to say I am okay with never revisiting them again. I loved them, but its’s been done.

Which of course is ironic in comics. We constantly revisit characters that we have read literally thousands of times.
In any case, Millar’s character is a modern day hero but not a classic archetype and he’s smart in moving on.

In which case, the new Kick Ass is a completely new character. After Miles Morales and IronHeart and everything else, reinvention is a smart solution. Heck, it’s comic books- no character stays the same. We have had multiple Flashes, Green Lanterns, Ghost Riders, Starmen, and Robins. Recently we have seen new Iron Men, Spidermen, Captain Americas and Thors.

So, you can’t blame Millar. Equally, though I liked his recent work (Empress, MPH, Huck, et al) to various degrees, he hasn’t topped or matched Kick Ass in a while. You can’t blame him for returning, any more than a musician attaching their name to their famous band. There is a reason John Gorham tours as Thin Lizzy and not the John Gorham band.
Having said all that, is the book any good? I am a Millar apologist, so you can probably guess. Millar is a pretty divisive writer, so your views also likely won’t change.

It’s a fresh start and I thought it was well done. I don’t know that it’s a particularly original thought, but Millar never was the most original in concepts, it’s how he writes them is his strength.

If you hate Millar, I doubt this will change your mind. If the reason you don’t like Millar is some of his more perverse and obscene material puts you off, then there’s not really much of that here.

Still, Millar is still pretty much a love or hate. For me, it is also worth nothing John Romita Jr is back, and I credit Romita Jr (and his gang) with making this comic as much of a success as is due to Millar.

Millar has moved this title to Image, and still managed to minimize the ads. An initial thought I had is that there wasn’t a lot of substance in the first issue, but I have managed to wave that thinking off a bit. I would say there’s at least the same amount of content as an action oriented comic like Brisson’s Iron Fist.

I was happy with this and look forward to it.




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2020 Election Has Begun- It's Not a Real Campaign, Until You Have Donors
johnny
bedsitter23
The time honored caucus season has its moments and none is a better indicator that things are off and running than a bunch of donors trying to encourage a candidate to run.

Lest you think, it's too early, Joe Biden already has courters. Two Quad City men lead a group called Time For Biden and expect to have a Headquarters up and running by March 2018.

Now, granted, way more candidates are losers than winners in Presidential Elections. Still, it seems the ones that are courted the most are the biggest failures.

Arguably, the heaviest courted candidate before caucus was Chris Christie in 2016. He eventually ended up with less than 2 percent of the vote that year.

Remember Scott Walker's Presidential run? No? He was also heavily courted but didn't even make it to the caucus.

You can probably line up several heavy hitters: Rick Perry, Fred Thompson, Jeb Bush, Wesley Clark. of course, you can probably find a list of reasons why these campaigns crashed on landing. Still, it's not easy as it sounds. Thompson and Clark probably waited too long to enter, so no worry there.

Still, the Ridin' with Biden movement is getting some noise from Iowa Democrats. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was named Ambassador to China by Trump, and although his Lieutenant Governor is now incumbent, it seems the state house is the most susceptible to a Democrat victory in almost a decade. We are barely into the Gubernatorial election of 2018, why do Democrats need to be focused on anything else.

For me, though, my biggest problem is the most obvious.

Time For Biden suggest that the best plan of victory is to get Biden a clear path to victory by scaring every one else away.

Not only is this not a good idea, this seems like a colossally bad idea.

I can quickly point out the years where there was no Presidential incumbent where there was a quick near anointing - 2000 Gore and 2016 Clinton.

On the other hand, when there's a crowd, it only brings all of the issues out and finds the best battle tested candidate. 1976 gave us 14 Democrats and a victory in the fall (and 2016's crowd of 15 GOP hopefuls only goes to further my point).

1992 was a year where the caucus and primary process found Bill Clinton.  Now, native son Tom Harkin won Iowa, but the process found a candidate who had the ability to win. 

Similarly, 2008, of course, made Barack Obama battle tested and ready.  Would John Edwards or Hillary Clinton been able to win in November?  certainly hindsight says Obama was the best candidate of the three.  I suspect Obama's campaign was also bolstered by competition from Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson, who forced him to earn the respect of their supporters. 

(To close out the modern day primaries that resulted in a White House residency- 1980 Reagan faced a battle from George Bush who won Iowa, a targeted candidacy from John Anderson and heavy hitters like John Connally and Howard Baker.  1988 and 2000 were less coronations for the respective Bushes than you remember.  The Senior had faced formidable competition  from not only Bob Dole but Pat Robertson.  The Junior had a crowd of candidates you have since forgot like Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and Libby Dole, not to mention John McCain)

In any case, more candidates may be better for the Party than fewer.  I understand that's an argument Time for Biden is likely unwilling to hear.  Nor are they unlikely to realize that the Democrats are the party of fresh blood, which is why they have had success in unknowns like Clinton, Carter and Obama, and second efforts from Gephardt, Edwards, and Gary Hart have bombed out. 

We can only watch and wait and see.


Book Review: They Have Killed Papa Dead
johnny
bedsitter23
I read some other reader reviews of this book and saw some people were put off by the title, but the title was exactly why it caught my eye on the shelf of Half Price Books. I knew this wasn’t just any other book on Lincoln.

I have read plenty of Lincoln and probably wasn’t really excited about buying another one, but something real stuck out with this.

The truth is it is a pretty unique addition to the Lincoln canon. Pitch lived in Washington DC and spent 7 years going to the Library of Congress and National Archives. He had the unique position of living 20 miles away and was able to do a level of research that no one else could expect to, because of travel and time restrictions.

Because he had access to journals, letters and newspapers of the day, he was able to get as many angles as a modern day biography, but a feat that is rare for an event over 150 years old. I echo what another reader reviewer said, it creates a certain level of ‘worldbuilding’ that is impossible in most historical tomes.

Because of his research, we get observations from actual witnesses to the events. We get contemporary opinion. We get insight from the major players and those that are once or twice removed (friends, neighbors).

The book takes on the whole story of Lincoln’s assassination. There are the precautions of Lincolns inaugural to prevent assassination attempts. There’s the Booth conspiracy which is handled probably as much as in detail as anywhere, which starts as a plan to kidnap Lincoln and evolves. The cast are drifters, cowards, mentally challenged and the charismatic Booth leading them all. There is the escape from Ford Theater and the Manhunt. There are the desperate doctors trying to save the President. The trial and hanging of the conspirators. The escape and eventual capture of John Surratt who makes it all the way to the Vatican.

I consider myself very well versed in this story, but there is so much here to take in. I found so much of it fascinating. For me, it was all interesting, but I learned a lot I did not know- such as Samuel Mudd eventually making his way out of prison and into local politics, and how the Booth family reacted to the assassination. Also, the horrible treatment of the conspirators is pretty shocking. Even if this was a national incident where they were likely guilty, it has to be said they were treated inhumanely.

Each of these topics make for compelling reading. There's Seward and Stanton and Grant and Andrew Johnson. There's plenty of lesser known figures as well that you might be introduced to for the first time.

It is a fascinating book and adds so much to Lincoln’s story. It’s a huge undertaking and it’s a bit of a lot to take in (400 pages). For me, it flowed pretty well. I thought the pre-Booth assassination rumors were an interesting place to start, and sort of transitions weirdly into Booth’s involvement, but still fascinating. The Booth manhunt is bogged down in details. The only part for me that dragged. I suspect that particular event was action-driven and so was better served to be handled that way as in Swanson’s book. Still, Pitch’s angle is one that again is fascinating and little known. The reward offered for the capture of the conspirators probably created more infighting and negative consequences than its intended goal to get everyone working together. Pitch details how the reward eventually gets paid out, and the politics that went into the decision making.

This was a fascinating book as I suspected from the striking cover when I first saw it, but it really was an unique book on Lincoln. It covers a lot of territory that has been well worn but gives it fresh eyes. There is a quote on the book from a USA Today review which makes it sound like it only focuses on the sensationalist details, but that’s the wrong impression. Instead it gives it a level of detail that drops you down in to the 1860s. For all those reasons, I recommend this highly.

Book Review: How Music Works by David Byrne
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How Music WorksHow Music Works by David Byrne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I love, love, love Byrne's books.

Whenever, I read negative reader reviews, it's usually because they are expecting something else. Indeed, there are people more qualified to write a book called "How Music Works"- music historians, sound engineers, social scientists, linguists, and so on.

Still, Byrne has such a keen insight, and takes what can be a dry university subject and make it really interesting.

The most cursory of looks at Byrne's career will remind you he's seen and done alot. Punk pioneer at CBGBs. Pop hero headlining stadiums. MTV artist who pioneered modern-day visuals with some of the most memorable pop music images of the last 50 years. World music hero who experimented with sounds (and Eno) and found audiences for artists largely undiscovered in America.


He looks at music from a lot of different angles. How the way we listen to music affected architecture (Wagner and modern day music hall). The history of recorded music and the days where recording music was frowned upon by the old guard (Recording is Killing Music must have been the late 19th Century mantra). Then taking that recorded music on the road. The time eternal argument of pop art vs high art.

How a scene comes about and why CBGBs was so magical, and how you can do it in your hometown (not the way you might think of trying to duplicate it exactly on purpose). How music sales in a post major-label world. Selling your record in the pre-Napster age and now, what it looks like to be a major label artist or an indie artist or a self-distributed artist. Cassettes and vinyl and CDs and MP3s.

The dynamics of music and what music can do, with references from the likes of Eno (naturally), John Cage, Tom Ze, and many other innovators. The visual possibilities, and what Byrne was trying to accomplish with those big suits. The science of sound from birds to drum circles.

Inspiring creativity and kids and the less fortunate. Patterns in music that correspond to math and recur in science including astronomy, geometry, and even into religion.

Even then, I am still leaving stuff out. Byrne is a smart student and has done his homework. He also brings a lot of unique experiences based on his individual career. You don't have to be a Talking Heads fan to enjoy the book (Wait, who's not a Talking Heads fan?), though as a fan, it has some keen insight.

It's a very smart, accessible, read. The type of book you could read over and over again, and the McSweenys book format is nicely illustrated but still has plenty of text. It's (for the right party, anyway) a cocktail party book. I am sure you can find plenty of reasons to hate the book-it's too simplistic, it's not "deep" enough, it's too personal to Byrne's experience, why does Byrne hate Classical music so much etc.. but for me this is one of those perfect books to pull off the shelf now and again.



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2020 Election Has Begun- It's Not a Real Campaign, Until You Have TV ads....
johnny
bedsitter23
The question is when is it not campaign season in Iowa.

Well, undoubtedly, there is talk right after the election. Even before that, people look 6-8 years out.

But a true barometer is the campaign ad, and sure enough, we got out first one.

So the answer must be 15 months. 15 months since November 2016.

As you might now, the Super Bowl is famous for its ads, but they also save some room for local ads. So, even with all the 5 million dollar ads, you have to make room for the local grocery store and car dealers (and this year, this wonderful Super Bull ad.)

In which case, Presidential candidate John Delaney (and at this point, he is the only candidate) went ahead and bought an ad to air during the Super Bowl.

Yes, 1008 days out.

The ad ran in most of the major Iowa television markets (Des Moines, Sioux City, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids) and cost $37,000 according to CNN, who also reported we are just barely closer to the 2020 caucuses than we are from the 2016 caucuses.

To Delaney's credit, it would seem logical to get his message out before anyone else for name recognition. If eh waits too long, he will be overshadowed by bigger names, and this being 2020, that may not only mean Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Cory Booker, but indeed Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne Johnson and Mark Cuban,

Delaney's ad's theme is one that seems a bit old-fashioned.



(Pic credit: Quad City Times)


Bi-partisianship.

Sounds old fashioned? Now I grew up in those golden Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neil days, but I look at my social media feeds and that feels like it was 300 years ago, not 30. Bi-partisanship is no longer the buzzword that attracts like it used to. Liberals think of bipartisanship as Bill Clinton selling out a Democrat Agenda to appease Newt Gingrich. Conseervatives attack those who cross the aisle as RINOs.

Delaney indeed won't appeal to the left side of the Democrat party. His most often comparison is that of Joe Lieberman, and given that the caucus tends to pull from the bluest of the blue staters, it's unlikely that wll be considered a good thing.

On the other hand, if he can find an audience, he certainly is trying to play a Conservative Iowa theme that might have some appeal in this purple-ish of states. He's not Bernie. He's not even Hillary. But he does come across blue collar and traditional values.

We will see if his gamble pays off.

That said, there's possible downsides to starting so early. I remember Tim Pawlenty's failure to launch. Pawlenty, similarly had a feel-good approach, and started early to try to offset his uphill climb against established politicos like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. He just spent a lot of money and was otherwise ignored.

Iowa is just starting another campaign - the 2018 Gubernatorial race. It will be competitive as it is the first time it looks to be really competitive in years. Iowa is about to be besieged with tons of ads and even some candidates they aren't that familiar with.

This probably leaves even less room for Delaney, but we shall see what happens.

Book Review- Why do Men Have Nipples?
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bedsitter23
Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third MartiniWhy Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini by Mark Leyner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read the sequel to this book, Why do Men Fall Asleep During Sex when it came out in 2006. I always meant to come back to this one (published in 2005) but never did. ..Asleep.. I bought as an airport book as both books had been huge smashes and I only at that time put together it was that Mark Leyner.

Leyner put out a couple of novels and some short story collections in the 90s which made it look like he was going to be one of the premier writers of his time (and I think it is still fair to say he is). It is interesting to see all the reader reviews of these books and the vitriol at Leyner. In retrospect, for whatever reason, Leyner took off a decade from fiction. He has only recently returned to it. Also, clearly I feel that Leyner should not be begrudged for making money to allow him to write whatever he likes later on.

Although this type of "bathroom reader" will always have an appeal, there was probably no better time for it than when it appeared to go straight to the top of the book charts. That period of roughly 2003-2007 was a heyday for a new kind of hypermasculinity. It was born out of metrosexuality, but pushed into a different direction. So we got it: Maxim, Mens Health, Crossfit, Tom Leykis, Axe Body Spray, Dr Drew Pinsky, UFC, Spike TV, Tucker Max, Joe Rogan, the Man Show, Muscle Milk, and Barney Stinson. You can guess where most of this stuff landed 10-15 years later and we won't go there, but the point is part of what came out of that was a concern for men and their health, which certainly feeds into the macho posturing of these books.

The other factor was the days of Web 2.0 and a search for knowledge inspired by the internet. Now, this wasn't always a noble pursuit, but certainly we were allowed to search out questions that we might be too embarrassed to ask You know like "Can you breastfeed with fake boobs?". It was reflected in the popularity of websites like The Smoking Gun, Snopes, the Straight Dope, HowStuffWorks, and ultimately of course, Wikipedia. Although these sites are still popular, their novelty has worn off abit. Still, they speak to some of the stuff that interests and sometimes titillates us. Now, of course, we have unlimited internet access and we have all spent hours upon hours jumping from one wikipedia article to the next and watching endless YouTube footage.

Still, I think the two factors combined at a time to make sure these books sold well. I think they would do fine today, but certainly it was released at the right place and time.

So the book itself? The book has a lot more of Leyner's popularity than I remember the sequel having. Maybe it's because it' s the original. Still, you can't miss out on the Leynerisms. Both books have interludes that are Leyner and Goldberg instant messaging each other. i know some people find these asides annoying, but they are usually pretty funny. Again, you get some prime Leyner.

The questions are pretty good. Some are urban legends, others old wives tales, some prurient locker talk. Most of them things you want to know.

The answers are mostly good. Some will find them too short or frustratingly incomplete ("science hasn't concluded" or "it just is"). Not everyone has the same interests so it's probably smart to keep it snappy, though.

This is a very quick read and without a doubt, a total bathroom reader. I read this as an ebook after reading the sequel in paperback form. In any case, it very light reading and you will be finished in no time. The ebook really made me feel like it was pretty small, but the experience was much the same as the physical form. In any case, I doubt many people would finish it in an afternoon, though certainly they will finish it in two or three afternoons.

I am probably a sucker for this book for a variety of reasons. I suspect many people would feel the same. If you are in that group, then check it out.



View all my reviews

A lotta hockey
johnny
bedsitter23
I have made it to quite a few hockey games this year. I made it to another Des Moines Buccaneers game.

Despite a playoff appearance last year and somewhat hopeful look this year, they have not managed to perform and are near the bottom of the standings.

This game pitted them against Team USA. Team USA is made of two teams that include some of the best 16 and  17 year old hockey players in the country. Some big names started here. The Bucs are 18 and 19 year old, as are the rest of their USHL competitors. Team USA is an unique traveling team that is gaining experience by competing in the USHL.

Players like Cam Fowler and Patrick Kane played for the USA team at age 16 before eventually starring in the NHL.

Which is tough of course. It seems counter intuitive to boo the USA. "Omaha stinks!". Sure. "Suck it Youngstown". Yeah.


This one went to OT, and I got to see Des Moines's NHL-possibility touted goalie Jake Kucharski in the nets. Still, Team USA took it by a score of 3-2


Team USA sits atop their division (as of this post) 22-9 while Des Moines sits last in theirs at 13-18.

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