In a career of autograph hound hysteria and enthusiastic bootlicking, this sentence by Kathryn Jean-Lopez is breathtaking in how badly it missed the point, in response to Barack Obama’s claim, during his acceptance speech, that “we are a better country than this”: “I don’t know if you win an election making people ashamed of themselves… More

Marcello Carlin’s new blog examines, with his typical daft scrupulousness, every number one album on the UK chart. I pick up on his distillation of the appeal of Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers!, one of the man’s many triumphs but still, to my ears, his most poised and insouciant recording. Writing about the interplay… More

On my iPod, I’ve got Wire’s “One of Us” and David Byrne-Brian Eno’s “Strange Overtones” back to back, unintentionally. The Byrne–Eno track is obviously about the act of creating music; the Wire song is too. Opening with a bass hook that’s instantly the catchiest thing this Calvinist foursome has come up with since 1988’s “Kidney… More

From Woody Allen’s Spanish diary: JULY 3 Scarlett came to me today with one of those questions actors ask, “What’s my motivation?” I shot back, “Your salary.” She said fine but that she needed a lot more motivation to continue. About triple. Otherwise she threatened to walk. I called her bluff and walked first. Then… More

Enjoying, after fitful attempts, the copy of Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw that I bought in April for just over 12 cents, I wondered why it’s taken me so long. She’s made a couple of classic albums that show up on many all-time lists; she’s a role model for women playing slide guitar; she… More

Dennis Perrin’s dyspepsia is where I’m at these days: My inbox fills with liberal “alerts” and related wailing about the pro-McCain media, how unfairly Obama’s being treated, and yappity yap yap yap. Jesus, I swear on what little honor I possess that I honestly want Obama to win the election. Hell, I may actually break… More

The false dichotomy between European hedonism and American psychotherapy aside, Vicky Cristina Barcelona really does live up to the hype as Woody Allen’s best movie since at least Sweet & Lowdown, and the best use of a big-name cast since Husbands and Wives (I worried that Patricia Clarkson would head down the same road as… More

How on earth do you explain this oddly defensive review of James Wood’s How Fiction Works? If Walter Kirn hasn’t read Henry James or Homer, maybe he shouldn’t use the anti-intellectual tropes of mainstream politicos. I mean — Wood “flashes the Burberry lining of his jacket whenever he rises from his armchair to fetch another… More

In accordance with this meme, here’s my pick for the worst alt-rock classic of the nineties. Maybe it’s no classic, but The Cranberries’ “Zombie” was Number One for several weeks on the college charts in the fall of 1994, and was inescapable for months afterwards; its “ZOMBIE-AH!” hook segued without a hitch into Alanis Morissette’s… More