The benefits of leaving in (or near) a swing state

Cincinnati's own (by way of Brooklyn) The National played a free concert on Fountain Square last Thursday. I snuck away from the office on my dinner break just in time to catch their set. It was a beautiful night and we were surrounded by all the tall buildings downtown. It felt very cosmopolitan. I just wish I could have stuck around and hung out with the band at Rock Bottom afterwards.


I got a bookish look and you're all hot for teacher

I made a point of watching SNL this week for the first time in years so I could see Sarah Palin's appearance. I thought it was mildly entertaining, but I was really hoping to see Tina Fey and her standing next to each other. They look so freakishly similar, I some time to actually compare them. I had changed the channel by the time Weekend Update came on so I missed Amy Poehler's rap. So here it is, in case you missed it, too.


You were just some silly girl taking in the sights of your empire's colony

Just in time for election season The Decemberists bring us what we've always wanted - a love song to an exposed spy. The band has a series of singles coming out over the next few months and the first one was released Tuesday featuring the song "Valerie Plame." Yes, the song is about that Valerie Plame. The press release calls it a song from, "the point-of-view of one of Plame's inside contacts upon discovering her true identity, the song is an amorous tribute to the onetime CIA operative." Check it out:


Fear the hearts of men are failing

Have you heard that the economy's in trouble? I know it's hardly on the news so you might have missed it. What the news tends to say all the time is things are bad. Even the analysis stories don't do a good job of explaining what the hell just happened or what it means. For that, I give you This American Life.

Back in may the NPR radio show did an episode called "The Giant Pool of Money" that did an amazing job explaining the mortgage crisis in terms I could really understand. I've been referring to it constantly as my starting base for everything that's happened in the economy since then. And last week This American Life did an episode called "Another Frightening Show About the Economy" that explains things like the bailout and credit default swaps.

So if you have any interest at all in what's going on in Wall Street or you just want to sound smart in front of your friends, there is no two hours of your life better spent than listening to these podcasts. The first show is archived so you'll have to pay 95 cents for it, but the second show is still free. You can find them in iTunes or here and here. Just think of the 95 cents as your way of helping the economy.


From a young age my two greatest loves were always Jews and Cuban food

If you were one of the five people out there who missed the Vice Presidential Debate on Thursday, here's Saturday Night Live's take on it. This is pretty much how it went down. Sad, but true.


Writing in the glow of the TV's static

Things are cooling down here in The 'Nati and fall is definitely in the air tonight, so I figured it was time to write about my next album the depressing and autumnal Figure 8 by Elliot Smith.

Figure 8 is a sad, sad album so I'll love it, right? Well, not exactly. I spent most of my time while I was listening to it trying to figure out why I love sad and British artists but not the sad and American ones. The only theory I could come up with is that the British singers are a little more self deprecating. They may sing sorrowful tunes, but I always get the feeling that it's just a phase. I know that they'll wake up one morning and their world will be better. I like that silver lining of hope.

I can't really find that hope in Elliot Smith's songs. Smith killed himself in 2003 (or his girlfriend killed him depending on which theory you believe) and had battled depression his whole life. He really was a pretty sad guy and the songs reflect that. They are sweet tunes but I'm rarely mellow and/or sad enough to truly appreciate them. I'll stick to the Brits, thank you very much.