james debate
james debate

Friday 21 November 2008

For any football fan out there, no year is complete without this game. Millions of lives are consumed and torn apart by its deceptively basic spreadsheet charm and statistics-based allure, countless man hours of work are lost and God knows how much money it ends up costing. But yet, back for another round is the legendary, epic, and uncontrollably addictive Football Manager series.

football manager 2009

You all know the score by now, Football Manager is a game where you take control of a football club at any level in any country, and endeavor to lead it on to glory and success. You control the business side of things, you become involved in the man management and training regimes, you sign players and build the football team of your dreams, you can become as involved in the nitty gritty as you like or leave that up to your hand picked assistants. Football Manager has always been glorious for its ability to emulate an endlessly detailed and indefinitely continuing game world, where you can spend decades building your legacy at the football club of your dreams and even take charge of the national team for glory on the world stage.

Year after year this game is the cream of the crop, the big daddy when it comes to football management games, and so when the newest iteration, Football Manager 2009, is released, it goes without saying that we don't expect any less.

Sadly all good things come to an end. I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, or out of my typing fingers as the case may be, but I find myself disappointed this year. Sports Interactive, the game's developers, have let me down and I find myself shocked and dismayed at an uncharacteristically shoddy product from a company that until now has had the midas touch.

Let me backtrack just a little bit before I say something I'm going to regret about one of my all time favorite games series. This game is still a great management game, it is still so addictive, and you can still do all the wonderful things you could do on previous titles, plus enjoy a host of new features such as press conferences, a completely overhauled transfer system, assistant feedback and the biggest move of all, a 3d match engine.

Now so far this all sounds good, and in previous years I've been more than satisfied just to get the same game year after year with only a few minor refinements and additions, and I would have been pleased with that again this year, especially with the one big addition of a 3d match engine, sadly this is where it all starts to go so wrong.

First of all the 3d engine is kind of cute, but not really all that good at the end of the day, and it works like a real dog on lesser computers, even on low settings. On top of this there are a good deal more glitches than normal, results changing between full time and the game loading the next screen, more than 11 players appearing on your tactics screen, cloned players, and serious crashes all over the place. This is in addition to a lot of people for whom the 3d engine simply doesn't run, even on powerful computers. On top of which the engine itself just isn't all that good this year. There seems to be a far greater tendency for players to do really stupid slapstick type stuff, like miss the ball when trying to clear it off the line, or passing the ball back 40 yards into their own goal, or just standing still with the ball an inch away from you like a moron while the other team run 30 yards and pick it up. This is not what has incited my ire to such an extent though.

First of all this game has been the longest in development of any Football Manager game, it wasn't until the end of October that we even got a demo and not much earlier that we even heard any details about what was coming in the new game. With such an extended development time you would have expected the game to be polished to the extreme and as I mentioned, it clearly is not.

And it's even worse for any mac user, especially if you have an intel mac. In fact when the demo came out I would even have gone so far to say that the developer's claim that the game is 'mac compatible' is simply not true. The game crashed continually, the mouse would lock up whenever you tried to right click anywhere and the 3d engine simply would not run, to complete the picture the demo eventually just stopped running, crashing on startup after a day or two. There is also a general shoddiness with presentation throughout, with unresponsive buttons and not automatically switching to the pitch view when watching a match. I would have hoped that in the month since the demo was released they would try to fix these problems but having spent a good deal of time playing the final version it is clear that nothing at all has changed since then, aside from that now the 3d engine runs like crap, as opposed to not at all, and it only lets me select 'low' detail, despite me having an absurdly overpowered computer.

As a mac user this just pisses me off, if you're going to market your product as a mac game then you have to actually put some effort into it and do some game testing, which clearly wasn't done if they couldn't spot a problem that any mac user would have noticed after about three minutes of play.

They had a patch available shortly after launch, but only for PC users and I had to wait a further two weeks through a series of comically mishandled delays before they eventually released it for us mac users, not doing much to reassure me that the company gives a crap about mac users.

I think for next year's version they might have to lay off any new features and just polish up what they currently have, otherwise it could get a bit ridiculous. But in the end, if i get all this working though i'm sure it'll still be fun to play, so I won't score this game too lowly.

Few people in the world have ever been able to boast a musical career as distinguished as Sir Paul McCartney's. It was down to the genius of Sir Paul and John Lennon that the Beatles forged their name in the annals of history as one of the legends of music, one of the biggest bands of all time and still selling records and reaching out to fans of all ages today.

That was forty years ago, and since then the Beatles have come and gone, but Sir Paul has continued to record music throughout the decades, from Band on the Run with Wings to his album Memory Almost Full released just last year. But while his work still sells by the case-full, with the latter album having gone platinum. at 66 that's got to make him one of the oldest rock musicians to record a platinum selling album. Despite this he has had more than his fair share of detractors in recent years who feel that the man is past his sell by date, running out of fresh ideas and doesn't have anything new to offer modern music. These people certainly can't say the same about his new album.

the killers day & age review

For anyone confused about why I might bring up Paul McCartney when discussing an album from someone called the Fireman, the Fireman is just the name under which McCartney has released this album, a duo comprising of Sir Paul himself and Martin Glover. Together they formed a band to record 'experimental' music, and that's exactly what they have achieved with their new album Electric Arguments.

He has not always been the most popular figure in the music industry in recent times, owing to various career and life decisions that I won't go into in detail here, and as I mentioned, there are people out there who think he should hang up his guitar for good. However, that is all moot now; this album is the best thing Sir Paul has done in decades. In an instant Paul McCartney has re-established his reputation as one of the all time greats and a musical genius.

The album opens with Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight, a heavy wrought but evocative number with a distinct Helter Skelter vibe to it. It is here that Macca makes a statement to all listeners that just because he's in his sixties doesn't mean he can't still rock out with the best of them, and after listening to this song who among us can't simply say 'point well taken'?

Sun is Shining and Lifelong Passionare other highlights on the album, as is the 10 minute long finale Don't Stop Running, but the undisputed jewel in this album is Sing the Changes which is a truly fantastic song, one that sounds like it takes the best bits of the last 30 years of music and combines it all into something fresh and exotic sounding, a song which is certainly the most memorable Sir Paul has recorded in many years.

Fresh and unpredictable throughout, Electric Arguments is an album that will shock you, sounding so cutting edge from such an old school rock star. It's an album that reminds us that while music tastes may come and go and change with the times, true genius lasts forever.

When Bethesda Software acquired the rights to make the latest installment in the celebrated Fallout RPG franchise there was a lot of uncertainty, apprehension and good ol' fanboy hate. After Bethesda hit it big with the epic Oblivion many expected they would just turn their beloved franchise into 'Oblivion with guns'. The early screenshots, ditching the old style topdown view for a first person perspective, did little to reassure them otherwise. But at the end of the day the game was always going to live or die on its own merits regardless of comparisons with any other games that have preceded it, and I am glad to say that it excels expectations.

fallout 3

Right from the off I knew I was in for something special. The production values and retro art style was fantastically realized and reminiscent of the even more sublime Bioshock. The opening segment of the game was exceptional as well. Rather than forcing players through the same turgid tutorials like most games do, this game integrates it beautifully into the game world, teaching you how to play the game as you control your character from birth right up to his teenage years; as your character learns who to interact with his world, so do you. It's very cleverly done and makes some really boring tutorial stuff seem really fun and interesting.

However it's when you leave these comfortable homely surroundings that the game really starts to shine. Set in a post apocalyptic Washington DC, the game world is absolutely huge and packed full of life and secrets and intelligent computer controlled characters. The artistic style is remarkable and superbly brings to life an intricate and deep back story without forcing the mythology upon the player, instead the player is free to try and discover as much or as little of the world and it's backstory as he/she wants.

And there is a LOT to do. The player can perform odd jobs wherever he pleases, he can work alongside or against the various factions present in the wasteland, or he can just go looting and try to scrounge up any valuables left in the desolate city. During his travels the player will encounter all forms of trials, requiring brains, violence, charm and a whole range of other skills, allowing a variation of puzzles and missions that far exceeds what you find in so many other games.

Morality is also an issue here, where the player will make big decisions that actually effect the game world permanently. What extremes will you go to in order to survive? Will you kill innocent people? Steal? Cheat and lie? Destroy an entire city? Or will you always remain the consummate 'good guy'. The decision is yours.

This is all complemented excellently by the free-form structure of the game in which you can essentially go and do whatever it is that you want, and take missions on in whatever order you want and accomplish your objectives in any fashion you want. In all aspects of the game there is a relentless freedom for players to enjoy that makes this game a truly memorable experience.

Indeed the only real problem with the game is that it all comes to an end rather abruptly. Whereas in Oblivion you could continue playing indefinitely even after you finished the game and enjoying the many many hours of extra missions and stories, in this game once you finish the main missions, the game is over. This means that if you haven't finished all the extra little things you want to do before you finish the game, you won't get a chance to, and it's really a shame especially as they don't give you much forewarning. In the end it just means that this game will occupy far less of your time than a game like Oblivion, whether they realized this when designing the game is anyone's guess.

Despite this, however, this is a unique game, a highly enjoyable and highly polished game, and great fun while it lasts.

EDIT: in retrospect, I would just like to say that this game was far far better than I initially realised.

The music industry, as it so often is, is desperately in need of some fresh ideas. It is a constant blight upon music fans the world over that artists constantly stoop to record the same generic stuff over and over. Look at some of the recently popular albums that were considered good enough to go gold, britpop records from bands like the Pigeon Detectives, the Smiths, Oasis, all good bands to be sure, but all just playing fairly typical britpop, the likes of which we have been listening to for years.

Every so often someone does come along who tries something different, someone with a bit of a spark about him or her and a hint of the musical genius that so many artists these days lack. Earlier this year I wrote a piece about groups such as Stars, VHS or beta and Jim Noir whose excellent albums defied stereotype and came up with something truly memorable and different, and the stunning debut album from the Last Shadow Puppets is another example of this. And judging by the traffic that article received, as well as the impressive sales figures of those albums, it's safe to say that a lot of you agreed. Well now I have another one, this guy is a bit special.

Eugene McGuinness

Eugene McGuinness proves that British musicians don't have to sink into lame stereotype in order to make brilliant music. Anyone who has heard his first two albums will attest to their uniqueness, as fresh and original as anything that's been recorded in recent years, and this is no understatement. It even does a disservice to classify this man as 'one to watch' because when you get down to it, Eugene McGuinness is the finished article, and what a spectacular finished article it is.

There are two key words that come to mind when listening to Eugene's music. 'Eclectic' is one, selectively cherry picking a diverse collection of influences and sounds from the past 100 years and sticking them in a big melting pot until they form a coherent and cohesive pop song. 'Unpredictable' is another. Anyone older than fifteen years has already heard so many different songs down the years that it all begins to get a bit predictable, the same chord progressions and musical expressions, the same topics for lyrics. That is not the case here, with songs that will take you in wild and different directions that you will never see coming, and hitting melodies that you never imagined would work.

In particular there are two fantastic songs that need to be listened to.

The Monsters Under My Bed
This one sounds like a crazy dream, which is exactly the feeling it tries to evoke, achieving sublime melodies and fantastically idiosyncratic synth solos. Make sure you check out the music video on youtube.

Moscow State Circus
This song sounds like something from the 1930s with a serious hint of the Last Shadow Puppets and their retro stylings, expertly mingled with shades of classic britpop.

song of the day: "Sing the Changes" by "the Fireman"

thing that makes me smile today: Obama's rebranding of America.

pic of the day:
office space pc load letter
Fallout 3
The Fireman
Eugene McGuinness

Football Manager 2009
Stereotypical britpop

Saturday 15 November 2008

The Killers shouldn't work. They burst onto the scene at pace with their 2004 debut album Hot Fuss, at a time when guitar music popularity was on the decline to the point of being a joke, an industry polluted by pretty faces with no discernible talent, peddling songs that were written not by a real band, but by some bland corporate machine. They appeared clad in dandyish clothing, covered in makeup and eyeliner, a pretty frontman, they certainly looked more of the same.

5 million sold cds later they returned with their anglophilic pop stylings shed in favor of beards, black and white photos, and cheesy Americana, with songs that had more of a Springsteen taste to them. Another 4 million sold and they have returned for their third studio album with another completely different sound. Day & Age features an excess of synthpop, saxophones, caribbean steel drums, sitar strings, and 80's style funk. With such an eclectic mix of sounds and influences, this album really shouldn't work, it just shouldn't. But apparently no one has told the Killers. The Killers have come of age.

the killers day and & age review

Not only is this the best album the Killers have ever produced, it's one of the best records this year, and in this writer's humble opinion it is the most consistently good album since the Red Hot Chili Peppers' By the Way. The quality of the songs is so high throughout, that to refer to any of them as the weakest song on the album would in no way reflect any lack of quality with that particular song, but rather serve as an indication of the intense polish and care that has gone into every single facet of this album.

It is one of those rare albums where I can honestly say that there is not a single 'bad' song on the album. Some are better than others, sure, but the mark of a truly great album is how well the lesser songs stack up next to the big hits. This is an area that even in previous albums from the Killers I could point to a few tracks that didn't do anything for me, but absolutely not so this time. This is most apparent when observing a group reaction to this album; whereas with Sam's Town you generally had everyone loving When You Were Young and one or two others, and with Hot Fuss everyone was blown away by Mr. Brightside and All These Things I've Done, with this album everyone will find different songs that appeal to them on some special level. 

Whereas I love Losing Touch, I Can't Stay and This is Your Life, i've spoken to people who reckon Dustland Fairytale is one of the Killers' finest ever, or Neon Tiger, or The World We Live In. The Clash magazine's review reckons Goodnight, Travel Well is an absolute classic. The variety present in this album, as well as the high quality throughout, mean that everyone will find songs to adore here, and every song will be loved by someone, and that is not something you see with every album. Every song here is good in its own right and will grow on you if you give it a chance.

The album opens with a suitably eclectic number in Losing Touch, with classically twinkly sounding electric guitars, flanked by blaring saxophones reminiscent of 80s/90s David Bowie and harmonies and lyrics that usher in feelings of a Simon & Garfunkel epic. The first half of the song serves as a declaration of the band's return and by the time the second half comes around with its triumphant harmonies you will feel like you're in a warm embrace with old friends after a long absence. This song will grow on you big time, and is likely the third single that will be released from this album, it is also coming to Guitar Hero in a future trackpack along with Mr. Brightside and the next song on the album.

Human is the next song on the album and the first single to have been released. Probably most of you have heard this song by now. Filled with epic vocals and shiny synth, and bloody brilliant to boot, this song carries more than a few shades of the Pet Shop Boys. Produced by Stuart Price who did the 'thin white duke' remix of Mr. Brightside, this track has divided some Killers fans, with many thinking it a masterpiece and others bemoaning the electronic dance direction of the song. Personally I think it's hard not to love this track and if you've been put off by the electronics then I would encourage you to give it a chance, I think you'll find a gem of a tune underneath. And if not, the beauty of this album, as I mentioned, is that you'll find something more up your street elsewhere.

Next we come to the second single released from this album, in America anyway (still waiting for it in England), Spaceman. Taking inspiration from Bowie and Queen, this is definitely the catchiest song on the album; fast paced, driving beat, great hooks, this song is destined to overwhelm radio stations and clubs and become a singalong favorite at concerts for a long time to come. It is also the best vocal performance Brandon Flowers has ever given us, showing remarkable charisma and range, and making it all sound so completely effortless too. This song stakes his claim as a world class vocalist.

If you were ever a fan of Roxy Music or Bryan Ferry then you will absolutely adore the next track, the intensely funk and sax-laden Joy Ride. At first this was one of my less favorite songs on the album, owing to the sheer cheesiness of the vocals in some sections, but in the end this is just too catchy a song not to like, culminating in a climax that will have most rooms jumping. Another one that will grow on you.

A Dustland Fairytale is next. This song has become a favorite amongst many of the people who have heard the album so far and I can see why, but I have to say it is one of my less favorite songs. I love the Killers when they are playing uptempo songs that put you in a party mood, and this is a fairly slow ballad. But that's not to say it isn't a good song, because it is, and I still like it, just less so than other songs on the album. Starting off slowly, this song, supposedly about Flowers learning to deal with his parents getting older down the years, just grows and swells until bursting point with the pure raw emotion of the Killers' front man and a powerful build up that demonstrates the strongest narrative ever in a Killers song.

The Killers reach the apex of their eclectic mish mash of exotic sounds in This is Your Life, a song full of African chanting, electric harpsichord and spacey guitars that really just shouldn't work, and yet it all comes together in an absolutely breathtaking and epic way, forming one of the finest moments on the album as it all comes to a cathartic end with Flowers venting his soul at the audience. And again, on first listen I didn't really notice much from this track, another one that grows on you in a big way. For me, this is likely to be the most satisfying song in the long run.

I Can't Stay is one of the most unusual songs on the album, sounding completely different to anything the Killers have done before. Trading the usual stadium blasting anthems for a laid back Caribbean number with the saxophones making a return, accompanied by steel drums and one of the prettiest of the Killers' many fine melodies they've concocted for this album, a song about a young man desperately struggling for answers to one of life's big decisions, culminating in an emphatic crunch point in the final portion of the song.

Next comes Neon Tiger a song which Flowers states he wrote while trying to sound like the band MGMT, which is kinda funny since they're such a new band, but I like it since I really like Oracular Spectacular. However this is another one of my less favorite songs. It's a catchy, if slightly sluggish song about a celebrity (in my opinion Flowers himself) taking the spotlight and fighting to maintain his independence that comes together in an astonishingly intense midsection that is strongly reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper from The Beatles.

The World We Live In is the penultimate track on the album, combining a space age ambience with extreme 1980s electro pop that builds up a funky rhythm before breaking down into a chorus of airy guitars and horn. Flowers delivers another top notch vocal performance that crescendos until it's just shy of overdoing it, just enough to make this a very fine song. Even if the chorus feels a little derivative, the rest of it is very catchy.

The album closes with a 7 minute long finale Goodnight, Travel Well.. The extreme length of the song as well as the over the top darkness and heaviness was always going to make this a song that divides opinion. In the end it's not really a song that I can say I'm going to sit and listen to on the commute in the morning. The song doesn't really feel like it gets started until three minute or so into the track, when it finally begins to reveal the true intentions of the song. Those who listen patiently to the entire thing will find a slowly building powerhouse finale of epic proportions, finishing off the album with a tune so savage and raw, written apparently just after the lead guitarist's mom died, that it sounds like the sort of song U2 would use as for a big finish. It definitely works in that sense though it's hard to imagine a lot of people sitting through the full 7 minutes more than a few times to reach the thunderous, crashing finish.

I loved Hot Fuss and Sam's Town, even though I felt that with both of them some of the lesser songs were a bit weak, and with Sam's Town i didn't so much like the over the top heaviness that they went for, even though I commend them for continually trying to evolve their sound. They have done it once again with an album that sounds remarkably fresh and original. It is pleasing to see them continue to show such devotion to the music rather than becoming like so many other big bands and just peddling out the same songs over and over again for 15 years.

Clearly the album is not perfect. For starters the main reason the album is so consistently good is clearly because the album is very short, just 10 songs. However if given the choice between a short and sweet album with only the best of the best or a longer album with a lot of filler I will always take the short and sweet.

On top of this, I can't help but feel that despite the overall consistency and high quality of the album, there should really be one more mega-mega-hit. The first two singles Human and Spaceman are pretty unanimously top notch songs, but are either of them really as good as Mr. Brightside or All These Things I've Done? One of the main drawbacks of the astounding and early success the Killers achieved is the pressure to follow it up. It's hard to fault them for not quite living up to such astounding classics, most bands can only dream of ever writing songs of that quality or of the quality present with this album, but you have to feel like that one more big hit would have made the difference between a classic album and an absolutely legendary career defining album.

But really it takes a man of exceptionally poor taste or ill formed prejudice to dismiss this album based on those points. The cheesy nature will, of course, not be for everyone, but to be honest most of those people are probably not the type to go out and have a fun time listening to music like this anyway. This is the Killers doing what they do best, uplifting and addictive pop-rock. But on top of this the Killers have retained the essence of their deeper sound from Sam's Town, resulting in their most mature recording yet. This is the album where the Killers have come of age, perfecting the blend between the unique pop-rock sound of Hot Fuss with the depth and grit of Sam's Town, equally welcoming to those who enjoy the superficial exuberance of youth heard here and those who delve deeper into the core of the album.

In the end, this is an essential album for today's youth, if not a defining one. An album about excess, disposable income, champagne fountains and all-nighters with friends. These are songs for the good times in life, the nights out in Leicester Square, or the Las Vegas strip as the case may be here. This is an album exactly as one should be made, adventurous, evocative and always in search of a deeper meaning. Let this album in and it will be the accompaniment to many memorable parties, the driving force on wild nights out, and the comforting friend who keeps you company until the sun comes up the next morning. It will surely become the soundtrack to many young lives this Christmas and rightly so.

Welcome back to the artist spotlight. These are intended to educate and provide basic commentary on the chosen band, and listing their biggest hits, as well as the hidden gems they've recorded.

This week the spotlight is on the Killers, in celebration of their brand new album Day & Night

the killers day & age review

In 2001, Brandon Flowers left his first band Blush Response and met David Keuning through a newspaper advert. They then recruited Ronnie Vannucci Jr. and Mark Stoermer to join their new band. The band derived its name from a music video for the song Crystal by New Order, in which the fictional band playing has the name 'The Killers' on their bass drum.

The Killers emerged from the deserts of Las Vegas at a time when guitar music was unfashionable, particularly in America, sporting a distinctly anglophilic sound. Initially rejected by the Warner Bros. record label, they eventually managed a breakthrough with Island Records and proved to the world that cultured and cerebral pop-rock doesn't have to suck. This is a band with the spirit of a rock band, notably writing all their own songs and coming up with their own style rather than just listening to whatever big marketing corporations tell them, and a fresh new electro pop-rock sound that introduced a generation of kids to rock music and made it 'cool' again. Millions all over the world were rejoicing in the uplifting euphoria of their music.

Their first two albums Hot Fuss and Sam's Town have sold 12 million records between them worldwide, and spawned numerous singles, all of which have been massive hits. Later they released a b-sides album called Sawdust that was really a bit of a sidetrack from their real music making, designed to keep us going until their third and arguably best album, Day and Age was released (or will be, in a week and a half).

The Killers have developed a reputation as a bit of a chameleon rock band, constantly changing styles. They emerged with their first album as fresh faced youngsters wearing mascara and makeup, dressed in bright exuberant colors and a taste for the extravagant showiness that they brought to all their live shows. Flowers in particularly reveled in the spotlight, his quirky personality and awkward mannerisms resonating with the unusual and eclectic music the band played.

Then with their second album they washed off all the makeup, grew facial hair and dressed up as cowboys in an attempt to paint their new image as a manlier rock band. To say it was a controversial decision that was met with mixed reaction is an understatement. After all it was their genre transcending brand of exciting uplifting electronic pop-rock that made them such a big appeal to so many people.

And so it came to be that with their third album they returned once again to the world of glam and showiness that had proved such a success with their first album. Only this time with a difference, they brought with them all they learned from their experiences with Sam's Town, retaining an element of the maturity and depth that they had been playing and mixing it with the superficial ecstasy of their pop songs. This way they created something incredibly unique, full of exotic sounds and instruments.

There is more to come in the future of course. The Killers are currently recording another Christmas song to follow up their efforts for the last two years of Great Big Sled and Don't Shoot Me Santa with Joseph, Better Me than You, which they are recording with Elton John.

On top of this there have reportedly (in an interview with music radar) also been discussions with Stuart Price, creator of the Mr. Brightside Thin White Duke remix and producer of the album Day and Age about making a cover album together in the near future.

And now on to the fun bit, the recommended songs:

Mr. Brightside
All These Things That I've Done
When You Were Young

Delving Deeper:
This is Your Life (excuse the bad quality)
Read My Mind
Losing Touch

Still Want More?:
I Can't Stay
Somebody Told Me
Under the Gun

song of the day: "This is Your Life" by "the Killers"
thing that makes me smile today: Day & Age
pic of the day:
ephemeric the killers obama
The Killers
Day & Age

Other bands right now

Tuesday 11 November 2008

There are very few tv shows out there that are as consistently good as Futurama. Or 'were', that should be, before the show got cancelled (another casualty of the perennially stupid FOX network - joining such luminaries as Family Guy and Arrested Development) Fortunately, like Family Guy, the show has been brought back due to strong DVD sales.

Futurama was what I would consider a great show, an intelligent mix of zany humor and touching moments of sensitivity. At its best, this is a show that will make you split your sides in laughter and then shed a melancholy tear. So now, in celebration of the release of the third Futurama DVD movie, Bender's Door, We rank and appreciate the BEST 5 episodes of Futurama ever- in reverse order too, just to build the tension.

5. Roswell That Ends Well
"Of all my years of covering top secret discoveries with sheets, i've never dramatically revealed anything as shocking as this... dun dun duuuuuun..."
Fry puts metal in the microwave during a supernova, which ends up sending everyone back in time to Roswell, New Mexico circa 1947, and hilarity ensues in one of the funniest of Futurama episodes. Bender is mistaken for a crashed UFO and Zoidberg is taken prisoner as an alien survivor, Fry meets his grandparents, while Leela and Farnsworth try desperately to fit in. If you don't laugh at all the delicious 20th century and UFO conspiracy jokes then you'll still laugh at the complete over the top randomness of the 20th Century residents, from President Truman who periodically bursts out of a crate labelled 'canned eggs' to an army drill instructor who riffs on the likes of Full Metal Jacket by chastising his privates with "Private! I want that toilet bowl so clean I could eat off it... because I intend to!". Brilliant

4. The Sting
"It'll take more than a few deadly bees to... OH LORD AHHHHHHHHH!"
Definitely coming under the 'tear jerker' category of Futurama episodes, The Sting sees the team heading off to collect honey from giant bees. On the mission Fry seemingly is killed and a grief stricken Leela returns home only to find her dreams consumed by thoughts of Fry, leading her to believe that he is not really dead. A bizarre, trippy episode follows, and leads to one of the show's most satisfying conclusions.

3.War is the H-Word
"We must put an end to the bloodshed... we have all seen too many bodybags and ballsacks."
By this point we're getting into the realm of 'ridiculously good', really any of these top three could have been ranked first it's that close. In this episode Futurama pokes fun at M.A.S.H. as well as itself and every military movie ever made in an episode that is nothing short of comedic genius every step of the way. Fry and Bender join the military to get a discount on gum, only to be immediately sent off to war against an army of giant rubber balls, while Leela disguises herself as a man and tags along in order to keep them safe. Zapp Brannigan makes a welcome return here and appearances from the heads of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger make this a non stop barrage of laughs. When you have an episode where nearly every little thing the characters say puts you in stitches, you know you have a winner.

2. Amazonian Women in the Mood
"I find the most erotic part of a woman is the boobies."
This is simply the funniest episode of Futurama and one of the funniest half hours you'll ever see. Zapp and Kif go on a double date with Leela and Amy and Zapp's bravado ends up crash landing them on an alien planet inhabited by giant warrior women, the likes you may have heard of from Greek mythology, who also hate men and sentence the men to death by snoo-snoo (sex). Terrified and yet excitied, the men gladly accept their fate. The crude and gender dividing jokes come by the barrel full and ensure that this is one of the funniest things you'll ever see. If you watch one episode of Futurama, make sure it's this one.

1. Jurassic Bark
"I don't know where you get your facts sir, but I am a volunteer housewife with 45 minutes orientation AND a harlequin romance novel about archaeologists!"
On the opposite end of the spectrum is this, the mother of all tear jerkers. Fry finds his petrified dog in a museum and decides to thaw it out. This, meanwhile, means Fry has less time to spend with Bender, making him act out to get Fry's attention. I won't spoilt the ending, except to say that it is honestly the saddest ending to a tv show I have ever seen... and it's a bloody cartoon for pete's sake! This brilliance in directing and writing makes it, in my opinion, the best of all Futurama episodes and well worth your time.

Another week goes by and Chelsea are still top of the league. But credit to Liverpool, they are keeping up so far. Meanwhile Arsenal and Man United continue to faff about without either one ever really looking the business just yet.

Chelsea's Anelka, despite never really looking particularly good, has somehow fired his way to the top of the goal scoring charts with 5 goals in the last 2 premier league games. Sounds like a man who's truly on top form right? Well all I can say is that anyone who has actually watched the games will think far less highly of Anelka than those who are just going by the stats. Don't get me wrong, his goal tally is excellent recently, and to be honest there's not a whole lot else you can ask of a striker, but the stats don't tell the whole story. Anelka, in any given game, misses a whole host of sitters and open goals and one-on-ones that most other premiership strikers would put away without a moment's notice. The fact that he is still managing to get a number of goals says less about his own ability, and more about how brilliantly the Chelsea team is playing behind him in order to give him so many chances.

Lower down in the league Tottenham look a whole new team under Harry Redknapp, having clawed their way off the bottom place in the table all the way up to 16th with 10 points from the last 4 games. Darren Bent now looks like a man who can't miss, and as much as I never thought i'd say this, must surely be forcing his way into the reckoning for an England squad place.

Newcastle, meanwhile, continue to be football's funniest tragedy, still underperforming and languishing in relegation zone. Now Tottenham fans can finally relax and start heaping scorn on those even worse off than them, and Newcastle is a fine place to start.

So where are things likely to go from here? Well I still think Chelsea will win this season. And that's not just me talking as a Chelsea fan, ask anyone and I was furiously pessimistic at this point last season, I am nothing if not a realist. United will hit form eventually, no matter how bad they look at times now, and so will probably finish the season in second place, sorry Liverpool, you're going down to third. The wild card in the top four this year is Arsenal, who at time look half decent, and at times utterly lost. Depending on whether or not Wenger can whip them into any form on consistency they will end up fourth and maybe lower, dropping out of the champions league qualification places. Personally I'm a big believer in the strength of status quo so I'm going to go for the former right now.

song of the day: "Spaceman" by "the Killers"
thing that makes me smile today: A page of new articles without the fanboy hate (fingers crossed).
pic of the day:
ephemeric the killers guitar hero
Coldplay fan boys

Oasis fan boys
the Cleveland Show

Monday 10 November 2008

Wannabe rock gods all over the world can rejoice, the newest iteration of Neversoft's iconic games series has been released, and this time you can bring friends too!

This year, Guitar Hero World Tour has ripped off Rock Band in that you can now form a full band with guitar, bass, drums and vocals and play with your friends as you rock out the entire world.

ephemeric guitar hero world tour

So how good this game is will depend on the strengths of a few key areas, the song list, the extra features and of course, the gameplay itself.

The song list is pretty good, featuring a diverse mix of 86 songs that covers many oldie classics as well as modern hits and the end result is something that is definitely the best guitar hero set list yet. It is even better when you consider that they have the online store now, which while it currently sports a limited selection of tunes, will be expanded in the near future, including an upcoming 'the killers' package that I am very excited about (who doesn't want to play mr brightside?).

The problem is, when you look at Rock Band's set list in comparison, they get all the songs from previous Rock Band games as well as the new songs and the staggering list of songs currently on the Rock Band store which comes out to many many more songs that Guitar Hero has, and indeed many of the best Guitar Hero songs are also in Rock Band. In this regard I have decided to have faith in Guitar Hero that when the store takes of we'll have a lot of really top tracks.

In addition to the main gamplay modes that I will come to in a minute, Guitar Hero sports a first in the genre, a music creation studio, as well as GHtunes, in which songs can be traded and rated online. I was skeptical at first, but after hearing that the studio was going to be very similar to Apple's impressive garage band I was hopeful that it would be something special. Sadly I was very disappointed.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice feature and a good first effort, one that I'm sure will be improved upon in subsequent installations in the series. But to be frank it's just a little too basic. There are a lot of really in depth things like different amps and the ability to customize the scale you're playing which are much appreciated, but then you only have 5 tracks, lead, rhythm, bass, drums and keyboard, and you can't vary volume at different points in one track (aside from drums). Also you can't change keyboard sounds from one point in the song to the next, which is just silly, and as such it's hard to get any real variation in songs that are created here. There also are not enough effects for guitars, like no acoustic sound effect that I was looking forward to using. Lastly I have had a number of crashes whilst using the studio. I mean i can't remember the last time i had a console game that actually crashed!

On top of which you can't record vocals, nor can you exceed a very strict 3 minute limit on your songs. The quality is also not great, with a lot of songs on the store sounding like tinny megadrive game soundtracks. All in all it comes out as less than satisfying for a lot of effort. Hopefully it will be improved in Guitar Hero 5.

One of the best features in the game is the level of customization possible. You can design your own rock star in excellent detail, especially when it comes to the instrument where you can pick and paint and mold it anyway you want right down to what type of strings you use. You can also create a band logo for your band and album covers for the songs you make in the music creation studio. It's really fantastic and one of the biggest strengths in World tour. There is only one big flaw with this which i'll mention in a moment when I get to gameplay.

Long time fans will be glad to hear that the gameplay is as perfect as ever, and still far more fun to play than Rock Band. The drum set and microphone are well made and work well. However this is where the positives end. At the end of the day, the 'revolutionized' career mode that has done away with the traditional list of songs you play through is nothing more really than a lot of little lists of songs that you play through at your discretion, with none of the bells and whistles, events, fans, merchandise, fame and all kinds of things are part of being a band these days, that Rock Band has.

As such you really can't help but feel like they could have done something a bit more here as it just gets old a bit quickly, especially if you're playing single player.

Which brings me to my next point, that single player is woefully under-appreciated. As I mentioned, customization is one of the best parts of the game, and I was quite looking forward to designing my own rock band. The problem is, when you play single player you just control one guy, and everyone else in the band is randomized with every song you play, which is just plain weird... even solo artists have designated backing bands. And this of course means that while you can craft your rock star with a specific look and instrument, you can play a gig with a bunch of weirdos who look completely at odds with your image and really ruin the look of the game. Another similarly glaring oversight is that you can't play your custom songs in this career mode. It seems the most obvious thing in the world that in a game where you can design your own band, and write your own songs that you should be able to put the two together and have your band play your songs, but you can't for some reason, you can only play the songs in quick play with a randomly generated band. It's pointlessly stupid little bad choices in game design that really hamper your enjoyment with this game.

Aside from these little niggles and issues however it is still classic Guitar Hero, and definitely better than old guitar hero games, though in many ways it has a lot of work to do to catch up with Rock Band, though indeed it also has its own benefits.


And so Oasis, one of Britain's best loved bands (10 years ago) has returned with a new album. The last effort was met with a bit of a lukewarm reaction. When you release 'lyla' as your key single you know you're in serious trouble I guess.

As such Oasis had a lot to prove with this release that they could bounce back to the big time and become one of music's biggest bands yet again, both in terms of critical reception and fan reception.

While the album is definitely an improvement on the last release, I find it difficult to recommend it to anyone as a really good album in itself, or when compared to the other albums released in 2008.

Their last album was a dirge. Largely due to half the songs sounding indistinguishable and generic to the point of absurdity, and of course there just not being any songs that were particularly good.

This album is still far too generic for it's own good. In an album of 11 songs there are 4 worth listening to. However these 4 songs are alright. 'The Turning' 'Waiting for the Rapture' and 'The Shock of Lightning' are half decent songs, and 'Im Outta Time' is a good song, one of the better songs they've done in a while. But aside from these the rest of the album is largely empty space and a bit of a shame.

The undeniable highlight is I'm Outta Time, a soft lennon-esque ballad and a real shining light amongst an album of murky sameiness, this stands out as something very different sounding. However it is not enough to save a fairly mediocre album. This does much to re-affirm the notion that Oasis are very much a band of the past that has struggled to live up to their old heyday of Don't Look Back in Anger. But as long as they keep playing that at concerts I suppose people will still go to see them.


Apparently one Coldplay album this year is not enough for us. Viva La Vida was a very good album too by the way, a vast improvement on the mediocrity that was X&Y. But even so I don't think anyone really expected they would release any more music this year, even a small half-album such as this, but credit to them.

I think it is a better idea to release music in small chunks rather than one big album every three years, it's too long to wait and then when it comes it's harder to appreciate all those new songs at once, I hope it's something that catches on, though I'm sure I'll be eating my words in a minute if this EP turns out to be crap, so without further ado here is my review of Prospekt's March.

coldplay prospekt march

Well I won't have to eat my words because it's pretty good. In fact I think a number of these songs are better than some of the weaker numbers on Viva La Vida, and I can't help but feel they should have put some of these on there.

Starting of with Rainy Day, this is a very nice song, vintage Coldplay, but it suffers from being, frankly, too similar to the song Viva La Vida and perhaps isn't the fresh sound we'd hope for from the first song on the album.

The title track Prospekt's March/Poppy fields is something pretty special. A somber and melodic tune full of emotion that yields to the second of Poppy fields, and does so, in my opinion, much more effectively than any of the two part songs in the proper album. This is certainly one of the key songs from this release.

Glass of Water is... decent, it builds up to a pretty satisfying conclusion, though much of it feels a bit throw-away compared to some of the other songs. It is still better than a number of the lesser viva la vida songs.

Life In Technicolor II is a song that had given me very high hopes, being billed as life in technicolor, one of the best songs in the viva la vida album, except fully fleshed out to a full length song with vocals. Sadly only half of that is true. This song basically turns out to be the same bit of music on repeat with vocals laid on top. Mind you that's not a terrible thing, it's a great piece of music, probably the best that Coldplay have written in terms of pure musical excellence.

Lost+ is a re-release of the song Lost, which I never much cared for, except with the rap stylings of Jay-z on top... which actually makes it a bit better, this works much better as a rap song than as a pop song and adds another kind of dimension to the music, good call on this one.

Lovers in Japan was one of the better songs from Viva La Vida, and so this Osaka Sun Mix is very welcome here. It is definitey the definitive mix, and skips out the rather redundant 'reign of love' segment attached to the end of it on the album release.

Postcards from Far Away is a song I can see a lot of fans not liking, but it's something I wish I would see the band do more often. Stop relying on electronics and pop synthesizers and return to the old coldplay style with real guitars and pianos, as they have done here A very pretty piece of music for sure, but not something that's going to be setting the charts alight any time soon.

The finale Now My Feet Won't Touch the Ground is a rather interesting new song from Coldplay, one of the most sparing in terms of instrumental depth which leaves the album ending on somewhat of a flat note, even if it is by no means a bad song it still seems a bit of an anti-climax.

So in closing, this is a welcome addition to my music library, brief though it is, but while these are pretty decent songs, I can't help but feel most of these are good enough to have replaced the filler on the viva la vida album, but perhaps not much better. There's nothing here that you'll remember ten years from now, but if these songs had replaced some of the dross from the big album then that really would have been one hell of an album, but alas.

Stay tuned for my next big album review, The Killers- Day and Age, i've not heard all the songs yet but it sounds like a scorcher.


song of the day: "Spaceman" by "the Killers"
thing that makes me smile today: Waking up to another glorious Barack Obama day.
pic of the day:
ephemeric the killers guitar hero
Guitar Hero
Fallout 3

Rock Band
Fable 2

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Well it happened. To be fair, in the past few months there has not really been a lot of doubt about who would win this election. Indeed amongst many people well versed in politics who had seen Obama's campaign in action there really hasn't been much doubt since Barack Obama won the nomination before the summer. When heavyweight Republicans like Rupert Murdoch and Karl Rover start predicting Obama landslides so early, you know that there's not a whole lot of hope in the Republican camp.

None of that dulled the excitement and energy on election night though. Nothing like this has ever been seen before, as voters turned out in record breaking numbers and even here in England many many people stayed up all night to watch the results come in. Never before has an American election been watched by so many people all over the world, which just goes to reflect how important this election has been.

ephemeric barack obama president

Never before has spontaneous partying broken out in the streets all over America and even in other countries (and England) over the election of a President. There is no doubt about it, this is the result that the vast vast majority of the world was praying for.

At the time of writing Obama has 349 electoral votes to Mccain's 163, and it looks likely the totals will end up 364 to 173. Obama also has 53% of the popular vote, which might even go up. This is the highest proportion of the popular vote any democrat has ever had running for president.

So why is this such great news for most people around the world?

Many, many reasons. When Clinton left the white house America was respected and admired. We had been going through an unparalleled period of peace and the economy was in some of the best shape it has ever been. Eight years later and extended Republican control over the country has taken its toll, crippling the world's economy, plunging us into constant war in multiple countries at a time, and making our once proud country a complete joke around the world, hated for our arrogance, and laughed at for our ignorance.

This is one of the main reasons support for Barack Obama abroad and from expats was as high as 86%. People know America is the most powerful country in the world and we want a superpower we can admire and respect, and most importantly trust. In the past eight years none of these things have been the case.

History is full of big empires becoming fat and arrogant and then falling; the Romans, the Persians, and even the old British Empire. All signs in recent times pointed to the same happening with America. When you have insane leaders who base policy off the Bible and think we have a God given dominion over every other country in the world, who lie to their own people and defy the international community to wage illegal wars. Who ignore the plight of the environment, luddites who don't believe in healthcare or technology. It's been an unmitigated disaster, but fortunately Americans have proven themselves and triumphed in the face of defeat, declaring that they are intelligent enough to govern themselves and change things for the better. This is why Americans are so proud and happy right now, and why the World at large is looking at America with a newfound admiration once again.

There is also the absolutely massive milestone that has been reached here with the first ever African American President. Racism, prejudice, hatred have all been unpleasant hallmarks throughout American history, and this is clearly a massive indication that we are starting to put all that behind us, and thank God. It's a huge achievement and one that makes me very proud.

Remember that this is our generation who did this. Remember my article last week about the growing power of youth? Well youth made the difference here. Today's youth have grown up in an idealistic world where intolerance, hatred and racism is simply not allowed and now we're beginning to see the effect of this youth's growing influence and it is a good sign for the future of world politics. These are the people who will continue to run the world now and so far it's a vision of equality and hope. One where anyone can achieve anything and where the fear and hatred that dominated the past is resigned to the dark annals of time.

We've regained our pride. We've regained our faith in politics and our ability to affect change. Now we can make the world a better place.

This bright new world begins today, and THAT is why everybody is so excited right now.

So now the big question on many minds is how this happened. How did Obama come to score such a decisive victory? America is still a right-centre country, and the RNC took all the money they could get from special interests, lobbyists and the public financing system, all of which was rejected by Obama. So how did Obama manage to consistently outspend McCain and dominate this election?

The first obvious thing to point out is the terrible state of affairs our country is currently in. The Republican party has dominated the last 10 years and they've all but run our country into the ground and left it in tatters. Bush is seen almost universally as an abject failure and his administration is loathed by most people even in his own party.

There was serious controversy on how Bush first got elected. That he won a second time is one of the nation's great embarrassments. This time however the chances of the gop winning again was always going to be slim. Americans aren't as stupid as people think and they do learn from their mistakes, as they showed everyone today. Similarly Americans are determined to never again be manipulated by the fear and hate tactics that so characterized Bush's administration.

The McCain campaign never made a good argument for change. They never convinced the public that they would not just be more of the same, and this was crucial. At the end of the day the McCain campaign was just comically mismanaged from day one. The old John McCain from 2000 was a maverick, he really was, he was left leaning and a good man and good politician. That was his appeal and that is exactly why he won the GOP nomination this year because they felt only he could challenge the democrats. But then, inexplicably they squandered this appeal and shifted McCain to the far right that scares most voters, trying to rally the base at the expense of the centralist voters as well as at the expense of McCain's honor, dignity and reputation. It was a disaster and the message it sent to voters was 'do not fear, McCain is more of the same' as if completely oblivious that this is not what people wanted. It was as if the GOP tried to copy the Karl Rove playbook thinking it would somehow work again, except they handled it with a shred of the subtlety and intelligence that Rove did, and the most damning sign of this came when Karl Rove himself blasted McCain for taking attacks too far.

While it would be easy to keep hammering the GOP on this point and bring up the Palin pick, McCain's complete avoidance of the issues and the campaign's low-brow use of lies and hate mongering to try and bring in votes, I won't dwell on this point. That is because at the end of the day even if McCain had run a half decent campaign without selling his soul to the GOP, he still would have had a hell of a fight on his hands against what is undoubtedly one of the best run campaigns in American history.

Definitely the majority of the analysis post election will focus on Obama's grassroots campaign. Incredible effort from his volunteers, incredible organization, incredible reach across the country into every state, utilizing technology like the internet and text messaging to amazing and never before seen effect; the campaign was nothing short of genius in the way it managed to reach and inspire so many people, so much so that it raised far far far more money than even the McCain campaign, with all it's corrupt money and special interest donations. SO much credit goes to Obama's campaign staff, especially David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes. Plouffe himself has done so much that he even gets call outs during Obama's speeches nowadays.

The Obama campaign is as ingenious and meticulous as Karl Roves campaigns, except this time it's been run on positive energy, hope and optimism, instead of fear and hate. Obama has shown that you can win an election by being positive rather than manipulative, and this is something that will have massive ramifications for the future of American politics.

So now the biggest thing on people's minds is what can we expect in the near future? Obama made a lot of lofty promises, can he possibly keep all of them? What about the various national crises we're currently facing?

I think that in order to answer this question we have to break into two main areas: the future of America and the world and the future of the Republican party.

As I've said, the country is in a dire state right now, with economic crisis and multiple wars and a serious energy crisis.

The economy looks bright with Obama now. It doesn't take a genius to see how much better the economy was under Clinton. It does however take a statistician to show that there is a quite significant trend in post election years for the economy to boom with a Democrat President.

With regards to war, Obama was one of the few candidates this year who voted against the Iraq war. He also showed unique prescience in predicting the conflict in Georgia before McCain or anyone else at a time when most Americans (and Palin) had no clue where Georgia was. On the other hand, neither Bush nor McCain even knows the difference between a Sunni or Shi'ite muslim, which is disgraceful.

Further more, any 11 year old preparing for an exam knows the benefit of working to a timetable, but apparently McCain did not, even when Iraq and even Bush and everyone else supported Obama's plan.

Time and time again Obama has shown he's best equipped to deal with these wars, and with our new and improved image and standing abroad he will be uniquely capable of handling these crises. America's enemies thrive on pointing out the 'fake' democracy of America, a country run by the 'white satan' who wants to conquer the world. How are they going to convince people that Barack Hussein Obama is a 'white devil'?

And with regards to energy. The GOP has long supported the 'moronic denial' position, refusing to acknowledge that fossil fuels are limited on this planet, likely because half their income comes from oil companies. Even more drilling will give us at most a few decades more oil at best, and we won't even see cheaper gas prices for many years. All the while we will still be largely dependent on the foreign oil that's forcing us to stay in the middle east in the first place.

The obvious solution (to Obama anyway) is that we need to put that money into developing alternative fuels. Not only will this help the environment, lower gas prices and remove our dependence on foreign oil, all without having to drill in our wildlife reserves; but we also HAVE to be the first to come up with this technology if we are to avoid becoming dependent on foreign energy again. That is why time is of the essence.

There is a paradigm shift in energy right now and we need to get their first. If we do then we will be the world's supply of this technology and rather than paying an arm and a leg for foreign energy, they will actually pay us! and create millions of jobs at the same time! This is the keystone in Obama's economy plan as well, it is crucial and one of the biggest reasons for voting for Obama. Let's just be thankful he got elected because we simply can't afford to put this off any longer.

But how quickly will all this come about? Obviously no crisis will just resolve itself over night. I imagine Obama will have to spend most of his first term fixing the country and returning us to the level we were at 8 years ago. The economy could pick back up within a year or two, especially with the typical boost that a democrat president brings to the stock markets. Tighter regulations on spending and reducing corporate greed will see markets pick up and debts reduced, money will flood into the middle class and upwards, rather than the traditional 'trickle down' scheme that failed so badly under Republicans. Expect this by 2010.

Healthcare changes and withdrawal Iraq will be sooner. 16 months for Iraq and likely near immediate change in the healthcare system. Taxes will be generally lower for most Americans which will obviously reduce the amount of cash Obama has, so he will need to pull off some clever restructuring of the financial system to get the funds he needs. That will allow us to focus on the bigger wars. Afghanistan needs to be dealt with, and likely Pakistan, Iran also needs attention if they can not be negotiated with. The hope obviously is that we can negotiate with Iran and Pakistan and then be able to focus all our efforts onto hunting terrorists. This will be a primary focus of the next four years, and hopefully by 2012 we'll have a better idea of how this is going to play out. Iraq will be done by then, hopefully Iran and Pakistan will have backed down by then.

Stem cell research, energy investment and massive education reforms are also in the works, but these things need money, and a lot of it. As such these will be the last things to come along, once the economy starts to pick up. If Obama gets a chance to devote time to these initiatives then it won't be until his last year probably, and definitely more of a project for his second term should he get re-elected. Energy research is the most likely one of these advanced projects to see in the near future, since it plays such a huge part in economy reform as well. If Obama serves two terms, we should have this alternative fuel industry set up in about 10 years, that will likely be Obama's big legacy.

Now as for the Republican party. Quite frankly they're dead right now. Out of the white house, a tiny minority in the house and senate and the most unpopular the party has ever been in its history. The one big legacy of the Bush administration is that no one will ever trust this Republican party again. They have come to symbolize hate and intolerance and fear and lies, dominated by the extreme far right, religious fanatics, rich spoilt elites from the oil companies, and quite frankly, the idiots in America, your joe six-packs think someone like Palin is a good thing for a national leader. Only amongst these nuts could the term 'intellectual' be a bad thing for a presidential candidate.

This is why the party is dying now and one of two things will happen. Either the Republican party will continue to live in denial and refuse to see what's happening and keep things running as they are now, which is actually surprisingly likely with these guys. Or they will see the massive changes that have come and that people simply won't tolerate their brand of politics and are scared by their religious fanaticism.

The fact is that the Republican party badly needs a complete overhaul. It needs to move more into the centre and completely cut out the far right extremists that dominate their image right now. It HAS to do this if it ever wants to win again, that's the fact of the matter.

Whatever rises out of the ashes of the old Republican party may not even go by the same name. It is entirely likely that the focus of the new party will be on fiscal conservatism and less on social issues. Many predict the party will re-emerge with more of a Libertarian flavor, and maybe in fact just be replaced by the current Libertarian party.

Either way it'll be a massive change, and it is highly likely that by the next election, or perhaps the one after that, we will see a political race with two credible political parties running on real substance and logic, with not a bible or fearmonger in sight. And THAT in itself is a massive massive victory for the Democrats, for Americans, and for people all over the world.

song of the day: "City of Blinding Lights" by "U2" - The official Barack Obama 2008 song.
thing that makes me smile today: guess
pic of the day:
ephemeric election president obama
Election Winners:
David Plouffe - the Brains behind one of the best campaigns ever run
Bobby Jindal - Indian Republican now being billed as the GOP response to Obama
The World - duh

Election Losers:
George W. Bush - a disaster, lame duck president, destroyed his party
The Bradley Effect - so much for that
Intolerance - your days are numbered

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