All posts by David Gregory

Currently freelancing in Fargo, David has written all across the Midwest, notably in Minnesota, un-notably in North Dakota. He graduated from Northwestern College in St. Paul, where he developed an addiction to Chipotle burritos.
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My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Year

GooseRadio Reviews 2010 — See the Top 10 Albums of the Year

Is he a prophet? Is he a genius? Is he the voice of this generation?

No. Kanye West is a megalomaniac rapper, and that is where his influence should logically end. But logic ends where West’s Twitter feed begins. In a year when the omnipresence of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” caused me to punch myself in the tooth, West’s tweets made as much sense of the chaos as anything else could. Look back now through a glass dimly with Taylor Swift’s biggest bully guiding the way.

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How did you pronounce 2010? Did you say “2010” or go with the more traditional “2010”?

Many famous people released books this year, from celebrities like the Kardashian sisters to politicians like George W. Bush to celebriticians like Sarah Palin. Unfamous people wrote books as well, but being unfamous, their works did not matter.

With two book releases and a television show in a little over a year, Palin isn’t considering a presidential run in 2012 (wink).

Mel Gibson was talking neither about art nor fashion when he verbally abused his wife in a series of taped telephone conversations that were leaked to the public. To Kanye’s credit, Gibson’s blue rant about fall scarves was met with nary a negative word.

I feel like this tweet sort of covers Joe Biden, in this or any other year.

In his second year at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Barack Obama fell victim to the old maxim that people who project a messianic aura and then aren’t messianic tend to put people off. (Ok, that’s not really a maxim, but what are you doing reading maxims anyway? For the articles, I’m sure.)

Senator Harry Reid was nearly the victim of a backlash against the democrat majority, as he barely held on to his seat from Nevada in the midterm elections. It might behoove him to stand a little farther away from the president in the coming term.

With a scuffle at the border in November, the Koreas renewed their sibling rivalry. I know I’m supposed to like one Korea more than the other, but I think they both look the same. Does that make me racist? Let’s move on.

In June, the world mourned the one-year anniversary of child safety in California.

Steve Jobs continued to print his own money with the success of the iPad and iPhone. At this point, hipsters ’round the world have to admit that if they had been offered an apple in the Garden of Eden, they would have stood in line to give up their immortality.

After eight years of dating, England’s Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton. Middleton is different than future mother-in-law Camilla Parker Bowles, in that her pictures don’t induce vomiting.

In the life isn’t always fair file, the US and Great Britain lost out on getting to host the 2022 and 2026 World Cups, respectively, when Russia and Qatar allegedly bribed the voting members. Liberals can now feel free to start making their “No more Soccer for Oil!” signage.

Interviewing Kanye West became more difficult after this tweet. Sample questions included, “How ’bout that weather?” and “What WON’T that Brian Williams say?”

Is West Nile Virus still a thing? Do you think mosquitos are upset that swine — the flu, and obesity — had more negative influence on humanity in 2010? Are they plotting an even more devious scheme to become the most reviled life form? I think Keith Olbermann has that title pretty well sewn up.

Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel resigned in October to run for mayor of Chicago, Ill.

Most of America felt this way about witches, too. That is, until Christine O’Donnell unleashed her cauldron, er, campaign for congress. To be fair, she’s still far from the craziest O’Donnell out there. Looking at you, Rosie. You too, Neal.

Only held back by their own spelling, the sign-toting members of the Tea Party influenced the midterm elections with an emphasis on smaller government. Notably absent at most Tea Party get-togethers: tea.

This was proven untrue when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released confidential US foreign policy documents and ended his post with “ROFL.”

In April, BP’s Deepwater Horizon started gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It killed legion of animals and filled days of space on CNN. At the time of this writing, BP has yet to move forward with my idea to fight oil with oil.

Despite this tweet’s best efforts, Twitter remained a relevant part of everyday communication in 2010.

PHIL DAVISON. GREATEST POLITICAL SPEECH IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPOKEN WORD. Go listen to Goose’s breakdown of Davison’s breakdown. I’ll wait.

Is Kanye suggesting that God is marijuana? In related news, the state of California rejected a measure to legalize weed, much to the chagrin of Frito-Lay stockholders.

Basketball star LeBron James left Cleveland for the beaches of Miami, and Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert responded with a screed typed out in Comic Sans. Here’s a tip: don’t convey anger in a font that has the word “Comic” in it.

The economy has stabilized somewhat in the first year of the new decade, but for those still unemployed, take solace: the trappings of wealth aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Just a reminder that Andy Griffith is still alive! Can you believe that? God bless him. And God bless you in 2011.

More GooseRadio Year End Coverage >> Top 10 Albums of 2010

Favre Might Be, Could Be Somewhat Indecisive – but Will Be Fun to Watch

“Meh.”

That was my first reaction.

Brett Favre is returning to the Minnesota Vikings. For the second straight summer, he is swooping in as conquering hero to “have fun out there” and lead his team to playoff glory. The fact he is returning should not come as a surprise. Brett Favre is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns, interceptions, consecutive games started and un-retirements.

The man’s employment status was a touchstone for many NFL fans in the latter half of the previous decade. His “will he/won’t he” flip-flopping raised questions of what Packer fans actually meant to Favre, and what his offseason actions meant to his legacy. In the middle of his third consecutive year of un-retirement, I believe the American sports fan has finally accepted that this uncertainty is part of the Gunslinger’s character, for better or worse. He is a player bound for Canton when -if – he can pull the trigger on a lasting retirement.

While the rest of the country leans toward ambivalence, joyful Viking fans can place their Tavaris Jackson jerseys back into storage. The nice thing about finally coming to accept Favre as indecisive is that his comeback is limited to a purely football issue. And in football, Favre remains relevant.

He had perhaps his best statistical season in ’09, and minus a characteristically boneheaded interception that killed Minnesota late in the NFC Championship game against New Orleans, was the offensive MVP for the Vikes. Favre has certainly earned the right to return, the right to be courted by a planeful of teammates begging him to come back. With no. 4 behind center, Minnesota plans to contend again for a trip to the Super Bowl.

I’ll be in the stands for the Vikes’ home opener against my Dolphins (sorry, born into it) on Sept. 19, and the game will be more exciting for Favre’s presence. His crazy, heroic, and questionable throws are still viable, despite what I said last year before his return (and I’m eating those words now). It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Vikes in the Super Bowl, winning it or losing it because of Favre.

In the meantime, his crazy, heroic (for Vikes’ fans) and questionable returns to the game will be met with that “meh” reaction. Alert me when the regular season starts, and Favre does something that’s not half-hearted: throwing the ball.

Academic Pursuits: minute-by-minute at the Hollywood Love-In

The primaries have passed, the special interest dollars have been distributed, the debates have become academic: it’s election night – for Hollywood. Once every year, the brightest stars of cinema, and Sean Penn, assemble to crown the performances of the year. And, depending on how verbose the hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin feel, they do it in a swift 3-4 hours.

Much like the political elections they so often mirror, the Academy Award winners are sometimes determined more on popularity than on substance. A film collects buzz, grows into a critical behemoth, sweeps the awards, and no one bothers to ask if it’s actually a viable movie (looking at you, Titanic). Will that hold true this year?

Multiple nominee Avatar has made more money internationally than the GDP of Suriname. On the other end of the financial spectrum, The Hurt Locker has been lauded as the first truly relevant film made about the war in Iraq, but it only cleared 18 million dollars worldwide. Can best picture voters ignore their industry’s cash cow, patchy in plot though it was, for an indie that most of America hasn’t seen? How many negative Glenn Beck references will be made? Will male members of the Academy fail to vote for Up simply because they don’t like cartoons making them cry? Does Jerry Seinfeld realize he didn’t have to make the Marriage Ref? How many consecutive questions can I ask before you, the reader, tune me out?These stories and more on tonight’s 240 minutes. Continue reading

The Tale of the Golden Globes

After a bewildering attempt at understanding pubescent psyche during the Teen Choice Awards back in August, I decided to move down the ladder to writing about inebriated adults. So what better place to start than Hollywood’s own kegger, the Golden Globes! I’ll be going moment-by-moment, trying my best to figure out what makes Tinseltown tick.

That is, until Goose removes me for a more popular Alex Whitworth post; have to reach the over-60 crowd.

6:30 p.m. – It’s raining on the red carpet. Kathy Griffin just melted.

6:32 – This news is a few days old now, but several Weight Watchers members fell through a floor in Sweden while waiting for weigh-in. Seeing the cast of Precious reminded me of this.

6:47 – Quentin Tarantino is wearing a black duster on the red carpet. Is it too soon for a Columbine joke?

6:52 – They just came back from commercial too soon, so there was 30 seconds of dead air. Or as I like to call it, a Jay Leno promo. (By the way, if you can’t tell already, this is a Team Conan entry. Be prepared for the onslaught – it will make things easier on all of us).

7:00 – And away we go. Ricky Gervais is hosting tonight, reinforcing stereotypes about British dentistry, British dieting, and British humor, which is tasteless and hilarious. I’m betting he makes at least two Haiti-related jokes, one of which I laugh at against my will.

7:02 – Gervais, creator of The Office and Extras, usually makes for edgy TV, but even he seems blase after NBC broadcast someone getting screwed all week.

7:07 – In the first presentation of the night, best supporting actress in a motion picture goes to Monique for Precious. This movie could be a big winner tonight; it’s about a girl who is impregnated by her father. A real upper.

7:10 – Stop the presses: Tina Fey just lost an award. Toni Collette ends up taking home the Globe for best actress in a TV series. Now how will 30 Rock be honored for belittling Middle America?

7:16 – Ooh, there was a Lindsay Lohan sighting in the crowd. She came dressed as a waitress.

7:18 – John Lithgow can’t find his way to the stage to accept the award for best supporting actor in a TV series. I feel like COPS should do an episode full of stars stumbling out of awards shows and having to walk the line.

7:21 – Sir Paul McCartney: “Animation is not just for kids, it’s also for adults… who take drugs.” It’s easier to get knighted than it used to be.

7:22Up wins for best animated motion picture. Well deserved.

7:24 – The camera pans across the audience: I couldn’t tell if it was the Golden Globes or a DNC national fundraiser! But seriously, folks, moving back to 11:35 is going to be great…

7:28 – I went to grab a snack, so I could only hear this part. The presenter has been drinking heavily, evidently. Or the teleprompter went dead. So it’s either Billy Joel or Barack Obama.

7:32 – Jane Krakowski and Neal Patrick Harris are presenting an award. Did I switch to the GLAAD Awards?

7:35 – Julianna Margulies just wished her son a happy birthday during her acceptance speech. He was at home. You watching this, Child Services?

7:42Harrison Ford is presenting best picture nominee Up In The Air. I went to watch it earlier this year, but accidentally ended up seeing a movie called The Mile High Club. Not the same film, but George Clooney was in both.

7:42 – Harrison’s talking like his mouth is still frozen in carbonite.

7:44 – Gervais insults McCartney, then goes for his first Haiti joke.

7:44 – I laughed.

7:45 – Christina Aguilera and Cher announce the winner for best original song in a motion picture. Judging by its mother, Chaz Bono didn’t need surgery, he/she just needed to wait for time to take its course.

7:52Amy Adams and Josh Brolin announce the nominees for best mini-series. The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien has to be the front-runner.

8:00 – Big surprise. Meryl Streep just won best actress in a motion picture for Julie and Julia. How many rooms in her home are devoted to holding trophies? She puts things in perspective, describing how she’s conflicted about accepting an award while there is suffering in Haiti.

8:05 – Does Microsoft staff their commercials exclusively from the Jewish Polo League?

8:10 – The Globe for best actor in a mini-series is announced by an actor and actress from Avatar, the movie that made us believe liberalism doesn’t have to just be 2-D.

8:14Drew Barrymore is rambling, and she might have a sea urchine on her shoulder.

8:14 – Oh, shoot, it’s wrapped around her back now. She might be a coral reef by the end of the night.

8:17 – I’m not going to say that NBC doesn’t want Conan mentioned tonight, but they just escorted Teri Hatcher out of the building for wearing orange.

8:23 – Gervais is dying up there, a condemnation of the audience more than the speaker.

8:26 – Though he didn’t win for best actor in a comedy series (Alec Baldwin did), Steve Carell is still my favorite. Although the more I see of Michael Scott on The Office, the more I’m convinced Carell’s just playing a white Michael Steele.

8:29 – It’s getting a little ridiculous with the Alec Baldwin love, by the way. I mean, he’s good as Jack Donaghy, but he’s no Stephen.

8:32 – Samuel L. Jackson introduces Inglorious Bas****s for best picture. He’s so much cooler than I could ever hope to be. To be fair, though, I’m white.

8:38 – The best TV series drama goes to Mad Men. Jon Hamm is bursting with joy. Christina Hendricks is just bursting.

8:45 – Wow, first major upset of the night. Chloe Sevigny of Big Love beats Jane Lynch of Glee for best supporting actress in a TV series. I don’t understand the decision: Lynch was hilarious all season in Glee. Not that I watch Glee.

8:45 – I mean, my girlfriend makes me watch Glee. But I’m comfortable about it.

8:50 – Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Bas****s) deserves the win he just got for best supporting actor in a motion picture. I haven’t seen a German this talented since, uh, Johannes Guttenberg? Johann Sebastian Bach?

8:50 – Were all German men in the Middle Ages required to start their names with Johan? Does this make Johan Santana German? I’m confused.

8:52 – If you think any of these lines are cheesy, just check out Waltz’ speech. You’ll never believe this, but he said his globe was now golden. I think you’re supposed to call your doctor if that happens.

8:55 – Generally, I’m on the computer while she watches Glee. It’s just background noise.

8:57 – Martin Scorsese represented Italian culture in the 1970s and ’80s in the same way Jersey Shore does now.

9:05 – In his lifetime achievement award acceptance speech, Scorsese just quoted Faulkner, “The past is not dead. It is not even past.” These are the people telling us who to vote for in elections.

9:14 – Gervais just spouted the best Mel Gibson joke I have ever heard. In terms of Jewish revenge, it was the Inglorious Bas****s of jokes. Mel seems to take it well as he announces the winner for best director, James Cameron.

9:16 – The presenters aren’t the only thing breaking seals tonight. Cameron says he’s keeping his acceptance speech short because “he has to pee something fierce.” Well then.

9:19 – Glee wins for best comedy!

9:20 – I love pickup trucks, grilled steaks and watching sports.

9:25 – The cast of The Hangover is announcing the preview for The Hangover – BUT ZACH GALIFIANAKIS ISN’T UP THERE. That’s like setting the dinner table and not eating.

9:27 – The Hangover wins for best comedy in a motion picture! Now I can justify seeing it five times. It’s art.

9:33The Governator says the only way to make more money than “Ahvadar” is to “be hired by NBC, or fired by NBC!” That joke came in under budget!

9:36 – In a surprise, Sandra Bullock wins best actress in a motion picture drama for The Blind Side. Coincidentally, Mickey Rourke boxed under that name.

9:36 – At some point, I think the plastic surgeons are going to switch Mickey Rourke and Nancy Pelosi’s faces and see if anyone notices.

9:40 – Awkward moment as Robert Downey Jr. tries to freebase the Globe (That joke was in memory of the year 2000, a great year for jokes and celebrities screwing up in ways we may never see again).

9:47 – The Dude just won a Golden Globe. Jeff Bridges takes home the win for best actor in a motion picture drama. It really tied the ceremony together.

9:51 – Julia Roberts, who has looked sloshed for three hours now, is about to present the award for best drama. The anticipation is thick here in Fargo.

9:57 – Roberts was a slurry letdown, and Avatar wins for best drama.

And so it ends. I’d give the show a blood alcohol content of .006, tipsy but not legally drunk. There were some self-congratulatory moments, some stepping over the line, some drama, some tears and one great British comic. Your move, Academy Awards.

Photo credit: cafepress.com, ladyvenoms.files.wordpress.com, nerve.com, mediabistro.com, thebosh.com, scificrush.com

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GooseRadio’s Top 10 Films of the Decade

The New York City skyline wasn’t the only thing that changed on 9/11…

Now that we’ve got the obligatory twin towers decade reference out of the way, on to the banal.

Many movies were made during the past 10 years: some were enjoyable, some were not. For every Charlie Kaufman film, an American Pie spin-off was released. Moviegoers saw Jude Law in comedies, dramas and tabloids. And the world spinned sadly on. In the midst of this cinematic milieu, a few films stood out to me – 10 films more than any others. Maybe my opinion doesn’t matter to you, but I can beat you in Scene-It. How’s that for credentials? Without further typing…

10) Memento (2000)

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The decade started with promise because of a shining, complex screenplay from Christopher Nolan (more from him later). Guy Pierce stars as a man who has lost his capacity for short-term memory, hunting down his dead wife’s murderer. Borrowing – and improving on – Quentin Tarantino’s broken chronological style, Nolan crafts a plot that turns on its ear at just the right point.

And speaking of Nolan, he and M. Night Shyamalan had similar promising starts. Since then, their career arcs make a greater than symbol. Shyamalan hitched his star to professional bearded man Joaquin Phoenix, while Nolan kept writing intense, story-based scripts. Crazy to think that M. Night was once considered the bigger director.

Also, Joaquin had a brother named River, and I just listened to the River by Bruce Springsteen. I feel like I need to tell you these things.

9) Catch Me If You Can (2002)

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This ’60s period piece is the happy version of Mad Men. It captures the colors and mood of a bustling era without the excessive smoking and infidelity. Director Steven Spielberg comes out with a much rosier view of the Love Decade than of the ’40s (All his movies about that decade make me cry. Even 1941.) and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks pull off a good game of cat-and-counterfeiting mouse. Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams make early-career appearances as DiCaprio’s love interests, and Christopher Walken makes an impact in his few scenes: the film is stocked with talent.

But the heart of it is Tom and Leo. Both actors appear to be having a good time, and share a lot in common despite not sharing the screen a lot. Moreover, Hanks pulls off the greatest knock-knock joke of all time. Google it if you’re not offended by awesomeness.

8 – Kill Bill (2004)

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Though Tarantino divided up the film for release, it really is just one movie. Like Tarantino or hate him, his films love film more than any other director’s canon. Kill Bill is an homage to westerns and far easterns alike, with all the idiosyncrasies we’ve come to expect from the director: swords, interesting music choices, Samuel L. Jackson. Uma Thurman embodies the role of Beatrix Kiddo, the bride out for revenge against her ex-lover Bill. The action scenes are impeccably acted and completely over-the-top, the dialogue is rich, vibrant and bizarre. It’s the movie we’ll show people in 50 years to answer the question, “What was the deal with Quentin Tarantino?”

7) Gladiator (2000)

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Russell Crowe is my favorite actor of the decade. This movie is why. In contrast with the personal plot of Kill Bill, Crowe’s Maximus seeks revenge on a macro level. His backdrop is the most grand empire in history. His enemy is the emperor. His weapon is a freaking sword.

He took down the kingdom with a sword. That’s awesome.

I could tell you all about the beautiful cinematography and the powerful acting performances from Crowe and Phoenix, but ultimately, I only have to answer Maximus’ bloodbath question: yes, I’m entertained.

6) Up/Finding Nemo/Wall-E/The Incredibles

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What, you say? There are four different movies occupying the sixth slot! Well, you be the one to walk up to those perfectly animated characters and tell them their perfectly crafted movies didn’t make the list. All of these movies made me laugh more than the typical gross-out comedy, feel more than the typical chick flick and connect more than the typical drama. They’re not typical at all. Pixar is the most consistently excellent studio in Hollywood – animation or live-action.

And the first 15 minutes of Up is the greatest example of showing rather than telling that I’ve ever seen.

5) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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My indie friends will yell at me for not having it higher. My bro friends will chide me for watching it while listening to The Decemberists. Whatever. Along with The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine proved once and for all that Jim Carrey isn’t just a rubber face. It also proved Kate Winslet is attractive even with pink hair. With a screenplay by Kaufman, the film delved into the deep end of the pool with questions about pain: if you could erase the bad from your past, would you do it? Never get your heart broken? Never feel rejected? It all sounds so appealing until you realize what those memories take with them – life.

Adam Sandler’s cinematic masterpiece Click also attempted to answer these questions, but wouldn’t you know it, Sandler got bogged down in looking at breasts and making fart jokes. Funny that his lowbrow predecessor was able to maneuver the waters. [Note: this is in no way a slam on lowbrow humor in general, as Carrey’s Dumb and Dumber would stand in my top five for the ’90s.]

4) Anchorman (2004)

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This position is not earned for cinematography, nor character development, nor moving soundtrack. It is for the fact that, after five years, I still say “Milk was a bad choice” whenever someone comments on the heat. Before sliding down the humor quotient with Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay reached the pinnacle of wacky one-liners and bizarre non-sequiturs with Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy. Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate and Vince Vaughn all hit the perfect notes with their characters, supposedly satires of 1970s newsrooms, but really just vehicles to utter lines like “Sixty percent of the time it works every time.”

Anchorman is certainly an acquired taste, and won’t top many Best Of lists, but it hits at the heart of what comedy is supposed to do – make us laugh, repeatedly.

“Now you’re putting the whole station in danger!”

“I had ribs for lunch. That’s why I’m doing this.”

“You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate a whole wheel of cheese? How’d you do that? I’m not even mad… that’s amazing!”

3) Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

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Nerds are tough to please. They rant and rave when the new Star Trek movie contradicts episode 13, season 2 of the original series (pushes up glasses), and they are forever skeptical of book adaptations. That’s why Peter Jackson’s cinematic take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy was such an anomaly: it was the rare film that transferred the original vision of the books directly to the screen. Major scenes weren’t left on the editing floor, yet the three-hour-plus run times didn’t seem dawdling. Frodo’s saga played out on a scale rarely seen before on the big screen, and Jackson kept his actors in New Zealand to film the trilogy in sequence in similar originality. In the end, the old good-versus-evil tale got a fantasy twist. And the nerds rejoiced.

2) The Dark Knight (2008)

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It was such an enthralling performance that people legitimately questioned whether the character had consumed the man. The Joker, once a camped-up criminal embodied by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman, became an anarchist mastermind in the hands of Heath Ledger. Rightfully so: people fear most what they don’t understand, and the Joker operated without reason, chaos being his only cause.

Ledger’s cackle became the signature sound of the movie that changed the superhero film paradigm. Following his wonderful reboot of the series, Batman Begins, Nolan crafted a Heart of Darkness-like plot that made every situation gray. Ethical quandaries abounded, from Christian Bale’s Batman all the way to Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox. All the male leads shine (Maggie Gyllenhaal seemed a little out of her element as Rachel Dawes) and Nolan deftly handles both the action and intellectual elements, but Ledger rose above the rest. Though it is impossible to view the Aussie’s performance without thinking of his untimely death, his acting stands without death’s rose-colored glasses. He deserved the Oscar his family ultimately received for him, and the fact that this film as a whole was not nominated for best picture is an indictment of the entire Academy Awards selection process.

1) Almost Famous (2000)

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This is a movie for music lovers specifically, but it’s also for anyone who loves anything completely.

High schooler William Miller loves rock and roll music, believes it can set him free, and consequently wants to know as much about it as possible. He views rock as an intellectual virgin, not yet jaded by “the business”, and this is what endears him to, and ultimately gets him in with, the fictional band Stillwater. He tricks Rolling Stone into letting him write a story about the band, though he’s only a teenager. What follows is the loss of his rock innocence, but not his love for it.

Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this film semi-autobiographically, so all the details he learned as a young Rolling Stone writer appear throughout. Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup and Jason Lee all give career-making performances (I have hated everything else Hudson has ever done on film, but love her as Penny Lane, the glorified groupie). The movie never drags, and the conclusion is uplifting without being sappy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that this film deals with two of my favorite things: writing and music, so I might be biased toward it. That being said, Almost Famous was more original, more nuanced, and more personal than any other film of the last 10 years. That’s why, 10 years later, it stands up over all the others made after it.

The Great State Debate

Cold, harsh winters, agricultural summers, and overalls. Lots of overalls.

The midwestern portion of the United States of America is known from sea to sea as a unit, “Middle America” to the coastal extremists. In both good and bad instances, the “Heartland” is seemingly conjoined to much of the populace. It is a singular identity. That ends now.

Goose Radio is sweeping the leg of the communistic idea of “Midwest.” Some states are not worthy of that title; we don’t want to be associated with them. And one is grander than the rest – a champion to be crowned by this forum of divided minds: Goose Nissley, currently residing in South Dakota, Alex Whitworth, making his bones in Minnesota, and David Gregory, holding down the border in North Dakota.

Each will put forth the case for his respective state. Disagreements will abound and friendships will be tested. But, at the end of this dark road, one state will rise.

And everyone will still agree that Iowa sucks…

State Seal of MinnesotaALEX WHITWORTH, MN – Well, let’s see, Minnesota has the ability to take an unfunny comedian and transform him into an unfunny politician. We also have the ability to take a professional wrestler and turn him into a professional civil servant. That is the tranforming power of The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Also, it’s the land of 10,000 lakes (at least according to my license plates).

RYAN ‘GOOSE’ NISSLEY, SD – And I’m glad we’re talking about this. It’s clear that South Dakota is one of the most chronically overlooked places on earth. The beaches of Rio? Some metal, tall thing in Paris? A clock in London? Foo. This state has an entire palace made out of corn. An entire palace!!! Just think about that. You could dwell – palatially – in a structure that was created from something that grew out of the beautiful black sod of God’s country. And if you got hungry, you could chew on the walls.

Even more importantly – Phil Jackson was born in North Dakota unless I’m mistaken? He’s kind of a weirdo. Minnesota is rife with mosquitoes. They will just capture your blood in their little… teeth? Do mosquitoes have teeth?

WHITWORTH – A corn castle, how…quaint.

And congrats on producing Phil Jackson, South Dakota always seemed very zen…

And speaking of sports, all of your teams…oh wait, that’s right, you don’t have pro sports in the great SD.

As for MN…Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild and I guess I’ll include the Lynx. I know, I didn’t know what the WNBA was either.

State Seal of North DakotaDAVID GREGORY, ND – Three words: largest American cow. Heard of it? It’s in North Dakota. You know what comes from cows? Milk, which produces cheese and ice cream, which produces the strapping American work force. The kind of people who fight for country and faith, the kind of people who hold up all elements of the Constitution in their original form: these are the product flowing from North Dakota’s teet.

And what of our neighbor to the south? They claim the Badlands as a chief geographical factor. I’m sorry, but if “bad” is right in the title (a la Michael Jackson albums), trouble awaits. Also, I refuse to acknowledge Mount Rushmore as anything but an incomplete art project until someone puts Ronald Reagan up there.

Are you against abortion? Well, Planned Parenthood is supported by the state of Minnesota. Think about that for a while.

Are my hypothetical questions done? Um, yes.

WHITWORTH – Oh great, North Dakota produces milk which goes into ice cream. Probably the new gay ice cream being produced by Ben and Jerry’s. Not family friendly.

Then again, they’re based out of Vermont because any business knows they can’t build an empire in the middle of nowhere, and that’s why so many businesses have set up headquarters right here in Minnesota.

Just to name a few: Best Buy, Cub Foods, Target, 3M, Caribou Coffee, General Mills…phew, being awesome is exhausting…your move, South Dakota.

State Seal of South DakotaNISSLEY – Alex, the only thing that Minnesota has in greater supply than large companies is liberal folks. There are hordes of them! Minnesota gave the rest of the nation the gift of Walter Mondale – topical because David mentioned Ronaldus Magnus (Reagan) who, in turn, gave Mondale an 18 point electoral drubbing. Therefore, Ronald Reagan himself didn’t think much of Minnesota. And, I think we can agree, neither should we.

Now to the cow at hand – David. Moo. While the sheer magnitude of your heifer is impressive, that is tragically where the grandeur meets its end. Once one passes said creature heading across the state on interstate 94, he / she is in for one of the dullest, dreariest, coma-inducing treks imaginable. North Dakota bears the great burden of having, as its one redemptive factor, a massive bovine.

Now you can’t tell me that wasn’t convincing?!

WHITWORTH – Indeed, Minnesota has it’s fair share of liberals, this is evidenced by the staggering amount of Obama, Franken and Coexist bumper stickers you see around town. However, Minnesota is also home to Republican nominee in waiting, Tim Pawlenty. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

GREGORY – Both of you are missing the point: oil. That’s what powers AMERICA. We drive our cars with it (liberal media editor: and our wars!) and it’s splashing up all over North Dakota. So, to combat your point Goose, there’s no such thing as a boring, rich person. Wealth is inherently interesting, and the Peace Garden State has a new source for it.

Not only is NoDak moving forward, it also has a strong link to the greatness of America’s past. Roger Maris, the non-steroid home run king, was born in Fargo. You can still see an exhibit of his memorabilia in the West Acres Mall; Sammy Sosa’s is currently on display in a Dominican drug store. North Dakota is Middle America in the midst of its glory, and a hint of its return as well.

As for South Dakota, it’s their fault we flooded last spring. The north-flowing Red River collected all of its crap and then sent it our way. Much like a Tom Daschle tax return, the state is devoid.

Minnesota was the first state to put liberalism on a stick. People ate it up at the fair, and now Al Franken is a senator. Alex, for any positive point you can put forth, the fact that your state elected one of the worst writers in the history of Saturday Night Live drowns you out.

NISSLEY – It is clear to me after repeatedly offering unassailable points only to have them met with silly No-Dak & Minnesotan rhetoric. Both of you, like Pharaoh in the days of Moses – have hardened your hearts and filled your ears with sweet nothingness. But I’m not mad. I’m sad – for you two. You still have to dwell in your states. I, meanwhile, will continue residing in the luxury and brilliance of the greatest state in the union. The indomitable, the fair, the fertile and verdant paradise that is South Dakota! Amen.

And so it ends, with the proprietor of this website declaring South Dakota the victor, and the fallen two interrupting his victory speech with chants of “You lie.” And “Iowa sucks.”

Vikes Play Own Version of ‘I Love the 90s’

Ever see an actor in person and feel like they look different on film? Or hear a musician live and find the sounds incomparable to what’s on your iTunes? Well, I just saw an image that looks completely different to me than the photoshopped versions that have existed for months – a photo of Brett Favre in Vikings gear.

Brett Favre Vikings CampAnd, just like those other examples, something feels a little off.

Three weeks after declaring that he couldn’t convince his body to undergo the strain of another full season (and three weeks after I compared him to Meg Ryan on this site), Favre has signed on to be the Minnesota Vikings quarterback. Just hours after getting off the team’s personal jet in St. Paul, Favre was taking snaps at practice, getting ready to start in Friday’s exhibition against the Kansas City Chiefs.

There he was, in purple and gold regalia, handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson, throwing slants to Percy Harvin. It sounds like a Viking fan-tasy. But as an outside observer (Dolphins fan by birth, not by choice), all I feel is melancholy, for all the parties involved.

First, there’s the man from Mississippi, who conveniently waited till just after training camp was over to renege on his retirement. Favre didn’t want the wear and tear on his body, Favre already knows the offense, Favre is a consummate pro who has worked out on his own time: the excuses will be myriad. That bit of shadiness isn’t what gets me.

He’s obviously clever enough (or manipulative enough) to get what he wants, but Favre doesn’t know what that is. I don’t begrudge the man the right to make 12 million dollars this season on what looks to be a contending team; it just strikes me as sad that a 39-year-old can’t make up his mind, even as he hurts the Green Bay fans who once worshiped him.

Packer fans put him above even Vince Lombardi, the milk that made the cheese. Despite Favre’s massive ego, I never thought he could bring himself to play for Green Bay’s fiercest rival. What I didn’t take into account was that Favre doesn’t know who he is or what he can do at this point in his career.

Judging statistically from the past three seasons, Favre isn’t a top-tier quarterback anymore. The body that led him to three consecutive MVP awards in the ’90s is not the same anymore. The credibility of a Super Bowl win and a Hall of Fame resume isn’t there anymore, replaced by 1,000 days of hemming and hawing. In essence, the Gunslinger has used up his bullets.

That spells trouble for the team that continually caved to Favre’s demands. Don’t get me wrong: on paper, the Vikings look great. On the field, Favre is still probably an upgrade over the QB offices of Jackson & Rosenfels, INT.

But wins aren’t determined on paper, and sometimes what happens off the field has just as much to do with success as what happens on it. The carnival that comes with Favre, which the Vikes have already experienced for a few months, takes a toll in the locker room. It was clear in Favre’s stint with the Jets that some of his teammates would have preferred he not be there. Now in a new setting, will he accept handing off to the game’s best rusher? Will he accept being a glorified Trent Dilfer? That’s really all the Vikings need, someone who can throw accurately and run the play-action, and it is doubtful Favre can handle the subservient role.

I know Vikings fans are, for the most part, ecstatic today. The team finally has a quarterback that can (allegedly) put the team on his (aging) back. But can Brett Favre possibly live up to the reputation of being BRETT FAVRE? Know what you’re getting: someone who fell apart in the second half of last season, someone whose legend is built on the premise of “unsafe” plays, someone who is bipolar in his decision making. On Facebook today, many of my Skol friends expressed their joy over getting a “ticket to the Super Bowl.” Minnesota, you’re not the New York Jets, but you’re not the Steelers, either.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has embraced its old villain, and in the process, ramped up its expectations. Now, only a Super season will do. If Favre helps the Vikes achieve that goal, he’ll be hailed as a savior (it would actually be AP); if they lose along the way, head coach Brad Childress and Favre will be out the door. It’s a situation ripe for failure.

Not that it will matter on Friday, when Favre will take to the Metrodome sidelines as conquering hero, Vikes fans pouring adulation onto him. He’ll break huddle with purple over his arm and over his head, and fans will have a season left to wonder whether it’s a symbol of royalty or bruising.

I ended my last column on Favre by talking about how Meg Ryan keeps working, but it’s best to remember her for the good work she once did, like “You’ve Got Mail.” There’s a reason for that: the stuff she’s doing now is painful to see in light of the past.

Just like Brett Favre in purple and gold.

David Gregory - GooseRadio

Strike Out – 15 Years Later

The Montreal Expos never did win the World Series.

The ‘Spos had the best record in Major League Baseball on August 12, 1994 and were primed to take their talented, small-market approach deep into the playoffs. In 2009, the Expos are now named the Nationals, residing in Washington D.C. and occupying the dregs of the National League East.

Standings aren’t the only thing that has changed in the 15 years since the MLB Players Association staged a strike that cancelled the ’94 postseason. Steroid use became the story of the new millennium, and big-budget clubs dominated the postseason. With such a dynamic shift in the fabric of the game since the strike, it begs the question, was 1994 the baseball tipping point from national pasttime to third-tier American sport?

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Baseball Strike KidThe strike of ’94 was hardly the first time the MLB had ground to a halt: eight stoppages had occurred since 1972. Long-standing distrust between the players and the owners led to a widening gap between expectations, with Commissioner Bud Selig wanting a salary cap and MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr hearing nothing of the sort.

Given the sides’ various tiffs in the late 20th century, a strike was hardly new news. The cataclysmic difference was that this strike cost baseball its postseason.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were left on the table for both the players and the owners. Television revenue couldn’t be collected. For owners who already saw their bottom lines shrinking, it was bad news bears.

More than the financial aspect, MLB lost its emotional connection to the fans, who felt hurt and disenchanted with millionaire owners and players squabbling over dollars and cents. The boys of summer and Mr. October were replaced by lawyers and union representatives. Some fans watched the ugliness unfold and walked away from the game for good.

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After 234 days, the strike ended; the MLB played a nearly complete ’95 season. A federal judge (recent newsmaker Sonia Sotomayor) ruled against the owners – there was to be no salary cap.

Though protests and negative messages littered stadiums, the season was not without its brights spots: Cal Ripken Jr. broke the consecutive games played streak to much fan fare.

Time Magazine 94 Baseball Strike CoverBut baseball harmed itself to the point that even the efforts to boost its image were damaging. The 1998 season-long home run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – hailed at the time as the game’s rebirth – turned out to be a steroid-fueled barrage on Roger Maris’ 40-year-old, single-season home run record.

In recent years, players have justified steroid use as not-quite illegal (technically true) and a necessary feature to keep up with competitors in the age of high line drives and higher salaries. Though steroid use is morally questionable, America frowned on the besmirching of records like Maris’. Fans have taken more offense at baseball’s steroid use than other sports, precisely because baseball’s historical records have more to do with the current presentation than those other sports.

And those other sports have taken the ground once held by baseball. Boosted by quicker pace and more spectacular highlights, the NFL and NBA appeal to a faster-moving America. Those sports feature parody, while the Yankees and Red Sox of the world dominate year after year in the MLB. The Expos never seriously contended after the strike.

Baseball has been passed in the last 15 years by a culture that never really forgave it for leaving. Steroids gave critics all the ammunition they need, and the giant payrolls of a select few ensured that, unlike its competitors in the sports world, baseball’s winners would be determined by who spent the most.

Baseball is still a very enjoyable sport to watch. It’s still not in danger of being passed by hockey or soccer (yet). But, in some critical ways, it’s still reeling 15 years later.

The Expos didn’t even make it that long.

David Gregory - GooseRadio

Teen Spirit Smells Like Mullet Children & Vampires

With our country at a financial and medical crossroads, what better barometer than an award show that features surfboards as prizes? With that in mind, I sat down with chicken, rice and a giant bottle of Dr. Pepper to document the goings-on of America’s future at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.

Jonas Brothers Concert7:00 PM - TCA Hosts Jonas Brothers “interview” President Barack Obama at a press conference. The producers are using Obama to open a show pointed toward teens. But don’t worry, he’s not a celebrity.

7:01 – The announcer boasts TCA as the “hottest party of the summer.” Well, we knew it wasn’t the GOP.

7:03 – A Youtube sensation named Fred is introduced. I didn’t think you could do the one-name moniker unless you’re a Brazilian soccer star.

7:04 – JoBros open the festivities by performing their latest song – not cool. Imagine if Steve Martin started the Oscars by showing The Jerk. Wait, on second thought, I would watch that.

George Lopez HBO7:05 – The surfboard at the edge of the stage, looks just like a … surfboard.

7:07 – George Lopez is the first presenter of the evening. Big month for the Hispanic community: Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in to the Supreme Court last week, and now this.

7:10 – Award winner Chace Crawford just said, “Teens drive pop culture.” God help us.

7:12 – Twelve minutes in, and I don’t recognize anyone on the stage. I feel old.

7:14- First homosexual winner of the night: Ellen DeGeneres takes home the award for choice twit. Right now, her hair is shorter than American life expectancy when Obama’s health care takes over.

7:19 – This Fred dude is annoying.

7:22 – Zac Efron wins for best actor in a comedy, for the film, 17 Again, which reminded the American public that switching bodies with Matthew Perry will always make you look fat.

7:22 – It’s going to be a sad day a decade from now when police officers stumble across a homeless shelter made of TCA surfboards and discover Efron inside.

Bill Gaither7:26 – Sean Kingston performing club banger “Fire burning.” I would sacrifice one of my appendages to see Sean Kingston and Bill Gaither collaborate on a remix of “He touched me.”

7:35 – The JoBros are taking dares throughout the program, and the first one just got out of hand. Joe Jonas has to get all of his hair cut off; Mike Tyson has clippers on stage! MIKE TYSON IS CUTTING JONAS’ HAIR. THIS CAN’T BE LEGAL. TYSON CAN’T EVEN BOX IN MOST STATES.

7:39 – Something called Twilight wins for something or zzzzz…. fighting the urge to make a biting remark (vampire pun #1).

7:42 – There’s a non-JoBros Jonas on stage accepting the award for breakout star. At the TCA, is best breakout something you really want to win?

7:49 – If talking in a sped-up voice constitutes comedy, Fred is well on his way to becoming the next Carrot Top.

7:50 – Joe’s hair is magically back. I feel we as a nation will hear about this controversy in the blogs for weeks to come.

7:51 - My Sister’s Keeper, starring the little girl from Little Miss Sunshine, wins for best movie of the summer. It’s the TNIV version of Cain and Abel.

7:53 – For her performance of “Party in the USA,” Miley Cyrus emerges from a trailer. I’m not sure if that’s a metaphor or just a daily occurrence.

Miley Cyrus Teen Choice Awards7:55 – Miley thanks “God her father” for putting her on the stage tonight. Sometimes being a Calvinist and believing God preordained every act is difficult. This is one of those times.

8:03 – Selena Gomez just took home another surfboard. What a night for Latin America.

8:07 – Megan Fox and Robert Pattinson win for Choice Hotties. Just to be clear, America: evidently, looking constipated is hot to today’s youth.

8:16 – Black Eyed Peas play their current hit “I’ve Got a Feeling.” My feeling: Fergie might be a man.

8:18 – Hugh Jackman claps and sings along to “I’ve Got a Feeling.” This isn’t just the highlight of the night, it might be the greatest moment of all time involving a multiracial pop group and an Australian movie star at an award show. Maybe.

8:30 – Dare the Jonas Bros. part III. Nick Jonas has to hug as many teenagers as he can. Or, as the Catholics call it, seminary!

8:34 – Cyrus introduces Britney Spears for the Ultimate Choice Award. It’s like in Back To the Future, when future Marty McFly runs into current-day Marty McFly. Except sluttier.

8:41- Fred should be punched in the face.

8:44 – Someone named Miss J (a man, I think) just thanked every gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual teenager. “I will share it with you,” said J. Not sure what it is.

Kristen Stewart8:48 – Twilight just won for best drama. If the Republicans ran Twilight against Obama in 2012, it would be a bloodbath (vampire pun #2).

8:48 – There’s more: what do vampires and Obama have in common? They both suck.

8:48 – (Not in the same way, though. I don’t think Obama sucks blood. Just taxpayer’s dollars.)

8:56 – JoBros end the show the same way they started it: with a self-serving song. There, in a nutshell, is teen America today. It begins and ends with the Jonas Brothers.

So, to recap, Miley, JoBros and Twilight are the pacemakers of youth culture in 2009. Like the teen idol Beatles before them, they are voicing the ideals of their generation. But unlike the message of the Beatles, it isn’t peace or love or even equality they’re after – it’s image and commercialism.

Regardless of what they’re after, I wish they’d get off my lawn. I’m trying to watch Andy Rooney.

David Gregory - GooseRadio

They Grow up Too Fast: What the GOP Needs to Learn from the Rise & Fall of Sarah Palin

Divorce rumors. Resignations. Catty press release wars with comedians.

Those three stories are former republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s most recent contributions to the American political arena. Less than a year after calling out Barack Obama for a celebrity-based candidacy, the former governor now sits in the tabloid company of Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie. The above list doesn’t ring out “Country First,” but it does give the Republican Party a PR blueprint for candidate failure in 2012.

Sarah Palin Governor's OfficeIf the Elephant wants to take back Capitol Hill, they need to compare year one of the Barack Obama (2004) and Sarah Palin (2008) media explosions to see what needs correcting. For a party that is currently stressing deliberate pace in the health care debate, the republicans could learn a lesson from the democrats about going slow.

Palin’s rise was anything but slow. She rose from relative obscurity 11 months ago at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. A first-term governor from Alaska (state motto: Al Gore’s only destination for sad polar bear photos), Palin was picked as the surprise running mate for octogenarian Arizona senator John McCain. She was a flashy pick: stylish, strong and a little (but only a little) more sexually appealing than the outgoing republican vice president.

The frenzy at the twin cities convention mirrored 2004 for the dems, when Obama gave the first of what would be many speeches to a prime time audience. Little was known about him then; we forget now, but Jack Ryan’s fetish-based fall from grace seemed to be the only reason the democrat from Chicago was elected to the U.S. Senate. He wowed the convention and commentators alike (starting what would be a continuing love affair with the national media).

That’s where the similarities end. Four years after that convention, Obama was elected to be the 44th president of the United States. Four years after the 2008 GOP convention, Palin may very well be vying for a seat on the hockey moms of America council. Here’s why:

Just days after the announcement of McCain’s choice, Palin was embroiled in all manner of controversy. Her daughter Bristol’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy with Levi Johnston undermined Palin’s family-friendly platform. Her shopping spree at Neiman Marcus was dubbed extravagant and self-serving (though, to be fair, if Michelle Obama did this now, it would be called jump-starting the economy). And worst of all, interviews made her appear uninformed.

She claimed the media was out to get her, terming the phrase “gotcha journalism.” It’s certainly true that the benefit of the doubt given to Obama and Joe “the Political Outtake” Biden was not afforded to McCain and Palin; however, going on the defensive without offering up real solutions to America’s slumping economy proved to sink the republican ship in 2008.

That didn’t end Palin’s run, though. She never hid her aspirations for office beyond 2008, and after the election ended, she was assumed to be one of the republican frontrunners for 2012. But her defensive, reactionary style kept creeping into the news. McCain aides griped that she had sabotaged the campaign, issuing press release upon press release for the smallest of perceived slights.

2008-04-alaska-governor-sarah-palin-2This tendency came to a head this summer after CBS’ late night host David Letterman made a joke about the Palins visiting New York City and Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnating Palin’s daughter, supposedly Bristol. Poor taste? Sure, but no worse than any of the jokes involving Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter over the years. That’s the price you pay for being in the public eye and messing up.

Palin bit into Letterman, and kept herself in the public eye for … what? With all the issues that Palin could be focusing on, she chose to attack late night comedy. She used the very media she claimed was against her to stay in the news. Say what you will about Obama (and there is plenty to say), but he is using power to push across his agenda. In the last few months, the best Palin can muster are statements about how she was treated unfairly or how her marriage is not falling apart.

She resigned her post as governor at the end of July, hardly the next signpost needed on the way to Washington.

The Wasilla princess wasn’t given time to acclimate to the pressure. Obama had breathing room after 2004 to formulate his platform and to craft his image. A week after coming to the public eye, Palin was fighting back against negative news. She certainly has to carry some of the blame for her failure over the past year, but not all of it. In the rush to win some “Hillary” votes, the republicans chose the wrong vice presidential candidate.

If the GOP wants to fight back against Obama and the still-present George W. Bush backlash, they need to start building candidates on more than “country” or even “family.” Make “conservative” mean more than “anti-gay” to the moderate voter. Teach Bobby Jindal to speak in specifics on economic policies – and make him sound positive – and in three years, maybe he can be the republicans’ answer to Obama. Maybe it will be Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney or a candidate we don’t yet know, but it can’t be someone thrown into the fire with little experience handling the spotlight.

Barry didn’t have political experience, but he did have those years of crafting an image, of creating a platform. Give the next republican up-and-comer the same advantage. Otherwise, you’ll end up with candidates that are more Us Weekly than U.S. News and World Report.

David Gregory - GooseRadio