Friday, July 30, 2004

Comedy Death Blossom

This doesn't even qualify as a Spastic Topic Monkey Friday. It's been a solid week, comedy flowing like sweet sweet wine, but I'm tired and spent. So here's a bunch of crap that's crossed my mind in the last 24 hours.
- I saw Joan Rivers on Graham Norton last night. I've decided, now that Bob Hope has finally passed on that Joan Rivers is the celebrity who should just fucking die already, please. Useless protoplasmic cyborg bitchsack. All she's done for the past two decades is provide surgeons with boats. She's had so much work done that she now looks like the Spitting Image puppet of herself. Wayland Flowers keeps putting his hand up her ass by MISTAKE. Skynet learned to make Terminators from her fucking X-Rays.
- A commercial claims that Joel Siegel claims that nobody watching the Manchurian Candidate will be able to exhale during the last 30 minutes of the film. I assume that's some sort of compliment. The movie is so good it turns your lungs into Bags Of Holding. You can inhale all you want, but you can't exhale. It's like Hotel California with oxygen molecules replacing Don Henley. Normally, I would be 100% behind any circumstance in which Don Henley is replaced by free-floating molecules of oxygen, but come on. Better pray for immortality, Siegel, because Pauline Kael is waiting in the afterlife with a spiked club and a long memory.
Your Compassionate Conservatism Moment: "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy, or go on Prozac?" Bush campaign assistant Susan Sheybani. Sheybani made the comment while transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about poor-quality jobs. The bad news is, she didn't think the reporter could hear her, and he could. The GOOD news is, he works for USA Today, and they needed someone to replace Ann Coulter with anyway. Thank you. I've been here all week. Try the veal. Next week on Leno, Ben Affleck.
I mean, come ON. How many times does the veil need to slip off before we realize under the flimsy fabric of "compassionate conservativism" are a whole bunch of greedy assholes who've gotten theirs and only pretend to give a shit about other people because it's good P.R.? The Democrats care about people's suffering*. All they pretend is that they can do something about it. It's part of their broader plan of pretending, in general, that they can do something.
- "Revenge Of The Sith". Yay. Here's my prediction. Over the next however many months before Episode III comes out, I will occasionally mention to my geek friends, nerd aquaintances, and probably within earshot of creepy stinky guys in comic shops, that I will not be bothering to see Episode III. I base this decision on Episode I being shit and Episode II being shittier. Dungfests. Craporama. Even discounting Jar-Jar. Even discounting Jimmy Smits infamous-only-to-me-and-people-around-me-a-couple-of-years-ago crocheted neck doily. I ain't going. And every single one of those people are going to tell me "But you GOTTA."
Why? Am I somehow not going to hear what happens in it? Will I be bereft entirely of Star Wars, at least in non-toy, non-videogame, non-three-minute-not-sucking-animated-shorts, non-napkin, non-shitty-Kevin-J-Anderson-novel form? Why do I gotta? No, screw that. I know why I don't gotta. Why do YOU gotta? Look within, young retardawan. Find that within yourself which blinds you to history and reason. Find it, and stab it in the gut with your mechanical pencil and leave it bleeding in the gutter. And then we'll go see Serenity again. You'll be happier. I'll be happier. We can hear about how that whiny pudpuller gets his black suit on the Internet in three minutes if you're that desperate to know.
- Fuck "bounce". For the rest of the campaign, if you hear anyone using the word "bounce" in regards to the election or polling, they are to be considered a fuckhead and not worthy of your attention or trust. Especially if they're predicting a bounce. Especially especially if they're comparing actual bounce to their prediction. Especially especially ESPECIALLY if they're comparing actual bounce to someone ELSE's predictions. It's bad enough that we have reports of meaningless, barely accurate polls every single day. Now, suddenly, it's a story when the numbers in these meaningless, barely accurate polls do not match up with politically-motivated predictions pulled out of the major-party asses?
Does nobody in the media evaluate ANYTHING? It's not as if the motivations behind "bounce prediction" are even remotely opaque. Political parties low-balling their own or high-balling their opponent's expectations is just noise. Everybody knows this. Five-year-olds can figure this out. Yet, seemingly, nobody is actually willing to make the decision that yes, this whole thing is bullshit, and we have an obligation, as journalists, to NOT SPREAD BULLSHIT.
Oh, wait, I'm hearing from Fox News that, counter to Karl Rove's predictions, John Kerry was not immediately carried off into Heaven to replace God Almighty Himself on his throne following his acceptance speech last night. That has to be a major blow for the Kerry campaign. Coming up next, Bush and a puppy!
OK, Lieberman doesn't. But he's an ass.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Custard's Last Stand

sOne of these days, I'm going to go through the archives, and make some kind of Map of the Fifty Hates, just to see how many of the great states of the Union have felt the mighty wrath-hammer that is my prose.
You'd think I'd have done Kentucky by now, right? Google doesn't seem to think so. Kentucky has always struck me as more "hick" than "redneck", anyway. Slightly lower chance of having a cross burning on your yard, but still damn difficult to find decent Thai food in. But Kentucky is not without its deep red-state (Sorry, Mr. Obama) idiocy, as evidenced by Midway, Kentucky's unique form of pro-American protest.
Burning ice cream.
Now, setting stuff on fire IS a time-honored traditional protest, whether it's Tom Sawyer novels, Twisted Sister records, the American Flag, or your own gasoline-soaked body. But just because something is traditional does not make it a good idea across the board. When planning to set something on fire in protest, one should research the product in question as to it's overall, say, FUCKING FLAMMABILITY, YOU HILLBILLY RETARDS...
Ahem. Of course, anything is flammable eventually. You won't go up like flash paper if you drop a match on your skin, but that fact hasn't put our nation's fine crematoriums out of business. Still, without some kind of professional-grade kiln or furnace, it's probably a bad idea to try an burn a FROZEN LIQUID DAIRY PRODUCT. This is what happens when you let the Intelligent Design fuckers write your TEXTBOOKS. You end up with generations of Scopes rejects who think milk will ignite.
Having now explored, if not necessarily answered, the question of why they tried to burn ice cream, we now turn to the greater conundrum of why they tried to burn ice cream. What did pure, innocent, ice cream ever do to anyone? Well, it seems that the founder of Ben & Jerry's recently created the "PantsonFire-Mobile"*, which is a car with a large statue of Dubya on it, and the Dubya statue's pants are on fire for obvious reasons.
Seems Chuck Bradley, whose family owns a corner market in Kentucky that sells the glorious B&J pintage, didn't take kindly to that mean ol' Vermont liberal, who no longer owns the company that makes the ice cream that Bradley attempted to burn, badmouthing his President. So, you know. Make a pile and get some matches. Which is, when you think about it, reactionary-bordering-on-caveman. Don't like something? Make a pile and get some matches. If he'd only thought to hit the ice cream with a rock, he could have made a fortune off the National Geographic circuit.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"We've got a great country -- thousands of men have died so we can stand here today and speak our minds but not bad-mouth the leader of the free world." - Bradley, in the kind of pontificating on the nature of "freedom of speech" that can only result from a lifetime of brain-freeze.
So now that we've learned what kind of hayhumper tries to set ice-cream on fire in anger, we turn to another burning** question: What kind of elementary-school dropout comes out to support and watch the attempt? Let's hear from Charlene Harris, who brought her TWO AND FOUR YEAR OLD CHILDREN to watch the protest, thereby ensuring that both kids will grow up to join Gay Drag Queens For Kucinich if there's a shred of fucking justice on this planet.
"It was kind of hard to explain to them why the ice cream was bad. We do support the president, but they like ice cream."Charlene, it was hard to explain to them because, first, as we've shown, it makes no fucking sense at all. Second, YOU were trying to explain it. Third, you were trying to explain it to a two-year-old and a four-year-old. And lastly, you were trying to explain it to a two- and four-year-old that share your genetic code. I just got a message for you from Sisyphus. He says you should give up.
* Fun idea, but that's the kind of proper-noun construction that gives style-guide editors conniptions.
** Really, it's more of a sputtering, melting question that runs into the gutter and attracts flies for a week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Does Whatever A Loser Can

Memo to fanfilm nerds: YOU ARE DUMB.
Especially the fanfilm nerds at I mean, the Batman one, the Robin one, the for fucksake World's Finest one... at least these got made, as deluded and misguided as they were. The Secret Spider-Man Movie nerdthings are just -talking- about making a movie.
Across the board, the motives are... suspect at best. The World's Finest one, if you haven't seen it, has a huge "please don't sue us" notice at the end full of fanspeak like "homage" and "honor" and "icon" and "legend" which no judge in the world actually cares about. But these people have a lot of time on their hands, digital video is cheaper than monkey shit these days, and all they're really wasting is their lives in a new way.
Being fan films, of course, there's not the tiniest bit of originality in any of it. "Fan Creations" borders on oxymoron. Fandom is about slavish devotion to something someone ELSE created. So when a fan "creates" something based on what he's slavishly devoted to, all he can pour into it is every bit of low-budget production values you can manage. They can't create or add something, because if they could, they wouldn't want to dress up in Jedi robes and wave a stick around in the first place. Fucksake, the Robin and World's Finest ones are just trailers for a fake/unmade "movie", and these TRAILERS are just like every summer movie trailer ever.
But the pinnacle of unkempt, vaguely soiled, zombie nerddom has to be the Secret Spider-Man Movie. They're out to save the entire fucking universe from crappy superhero movies like Daredevil, Catwoman, X-Men, X-Men 2, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and oh, by the way, every single superhero movie ever made. These movies failed because they diverged (even the tiniest bit) from their original source material, you see. And since that crime against humanity cannot be allowed to stand, a few brave souls will, and this is their actual plan, I swear to Vishnu... they're going to make their own version of Spider-Man 3 that's 100% faithful to the comic, bring it to Marvel, and once Marvel sees it can be done, Marvel will pressure Sony and Columbia to take the exact same approach with the REAL Spidey 3.
To say this goal is unrealistic would be a smidge understatementesque. Every single person involved in this project has a greater probability of having a night of wild, passionate abandon with Kirsten Dunst AND Jessica Alba than they have of even getting someone at Marvel to take their call to tell them they can't bring their movie over, much less influence the creative direction of Spidey 3. In case you think I'm being hyperbolic, allow me to remind you of Amazing Fantasy #20, page 4, panel 2, where Peter Parker CLEARLY informs Aunt May that he cannot take out the garbage because it is ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"They underestimated the audience, they made changes that didn't need to be made just to simplify the story. They altered the history Spider-Man the comic, and in doing so they have created an entirely new and misinformed legion of comic fans who now believe Spidey shoots webs organically. This might not seem like a big deal in the scheme of things, but we look at it as just the beginning. It's only going to get worse. With 20 new comic films in development as we speak, other studios will see that box office doesn't depend on authenticity, but rather on celebrities, special effects, and glitz. The history of all comics are at great risk!"
Look, you psychos, I'm going to tell you something every single one of your girlfriends has told you at one time or another. Maybe it'll sink in this time, because it's ON THE INTERNET. Just because you like something... hell, just because you love something more than life itself, that DOES NOT MAKE IT YOURS. I don't care how much you love Buffy, the bank will still not let you cash checks made out to Joss Whedon. I don't care how much you've spent, in time, energy, and money, on merchandise and cosplay and letter writing campaigns and websites and LiveJournals and message boards. At the end of the day, for all your effort, you're just a consumer. Your job is to consume. You have, and you can count this on your dick if you want, ONE piece of input into the creative process, and that is to GO or NOT GO; BUY or NOT BUY. If you had something to say, or something to contribute, you'd be behind the table and not in the audience.
And that, frankly, is how it should be. Even the astonishingly incompetent people who made Catwoman did not do it because they have been waiting all their lives to accurately translate Catwoman to the screen.* They did it because they (somehow) make movies for a living and someone scraped up 100 million dollars and flung it around VERY cavalierly. And as awful as they are, they are about 22% less DUMB than you lot.
* Obviously.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

He Taxes Me, And I Will Have Him

Memo to Tax Whiners: YOU ARE DUMB.
Seriously. Shut your suburban gobs. Shove some more fucking Cheesecake Factory in there or something. Stop bitching. Stop writing letters to the editor. We do not care about your so-called "views" on the tax code, so either keep them to yourself, or... actually, there IS no or, because let's face it, if you were the type to actually build a bunker and fend off armed IRS agents with a flare gun, you'd have done it already, you pussy.
If I hear the "my money" or "our money" rhetorical phrase one more time, I'm going to track down the one remaining blood vessel in my body that hasn't already popped from barely-repressed rage, and I'm going to take pliers to it until it joins its brethren. It's not your money. It barely ever WAS your money. It's the government's money. It's society's money. They take it from you because you fucking well LIVE HERE, and they will do whatever they want with it because THEY CAN, and until you can afford your own island country to move all your assets into, you're stuck with it.
It's as if a vast percentage of people in this country, despite over 200 years of an essentially unchanged social contract that itself builds upon a few thousand years of civilization-managing, somehow manage to miss the fucking point. It's possible that all these people are simply stupid. If so, this column won't help them, but it will make me feel better to explain, in as simple a phrasing as I can manage, that paying your taxes is not, as a transaction, equivalent to buying a muffin.
You'd think this would be obvious. When I want to buy a muffin, there are no forms involved. I do not need to list all the muffins I have bought in the past year. I don't need to calculate how much of the muffin I give to my (hypothetical) children. You cannot get a muffin at H.R. Block.
Well, OK. You can. But if you try, learn from my mistake, and have an answer prepared when they ask you "Excuse me, what are you doing in our break room?"
When you give money to the government in tax form, you will not receive an equivalent value of goods and services in return. If you pay taxes and have no children, some of your money will still pay for schools. If you are a dirty stinking hippie and you pay taxes, some of your money will pay for nuclear warheads. If you tool around the Twin Cities in your H2 and pay taxes, some of your money will still pay for bus drivers. Taxation is not, and never has been, a zero-sum game, so take your faux-libertarian posing and shove it up your ass.
In case you're wondering if there was one particular scrotal wart that sparked my ire, huzzah, there was! Doug Clemens of Bloomington, who, in the Saturday letters to the editor, actually wrote:
"I resent the Star Tribune's implication that when I get some of my tax money back it is somehow a deceitful or treacherous act. I have paid a ton of taxes in my lifetime, and now there's a little something for me. For this newspaper to suggest that this is all due to trickery and dishonesty is hurtful. The Star Tribune owes me an apology.
The Star Tribune owes you a whack upside the head with a rolled-up Sunday Edition. Don't give us that fucking line about how you've gotten NOTHING from a lifetime of paying taxes, you half-wit ingrate. You've gotten stuff. Other people have gotten stuff. Maybe not the best stuff, maybe not the stuff you'd want, but that's what you get for voting in these idiots every time you go to the polls. Since you obviously don't have the courage of your convictions, and sign your 1040 every year like a good boy, all you're doing now is whining. Go away.
The only advantage of the state economies being deeply in the hole is that we don't have to hear this "our money" shit about surpluses, which aren't usually surpluses anyway. The instant the government predicts it may end up collecting a bit more money from people than they predict they'll spend, that's when the Carnation Instant Libertarians start lining up for their checks, yapping about "their money" like it was gold coin snatched from their hands by Alan Rickman instead of passing ephemerally from their employer to the IRS without them ever really knowing it was there.
Now if you'll excuse me, I just saw an accountant run past, and I need me some baked goods.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Hey, There's A Terror On Your Back!

We're fucked.
I mean, we knew we were fucked, but we didn't know we were FUCKED fucked, you know? Sure, I've used the "I thought it was bad, but I didn't think it was THIS bad" intro so many times it seems to have lost all shred of meaning, but damn, we are FUCKED.
We are fucked because, against all logic and reasoning, Annie Jacobsen is not a global laughingstock. Annie Jacobsen is the "Terror In The Skies, Again" woman. If you don't know what "Terror In The Skies, Again" is, you will. It's one of those things that people should never have paid attention to in the first place, but now that they've started paying attention, nobody can stand to be the one NOT paying attention to it, even though they could be doing something more useful with their time, like going to see Catwoman.
Here's your Official YAD Precis. Crazy white woman gets on plane. A dozen brown men get on the plane. The brown men talk to each other and use the can. The white woman panics. The plane lands safely. The white woman still panics. The brown men are investigated, did nothing wrong, and are just guys. The white woman STILL panics. She writes an article. A website runs the article. The Internet panics. The mainstream media panics, but claims to be reporting ON the panicking. I realize we're all deeply fucked.
Why is this story not over? The panicwoman was WRONG. The Syrian musicians were not trying to blow up the plane, they were not trying to practice blowing up the plane. They were flying to their gig for one reason only: THAT'S HOW YOU GET FROM DETROIT TO L.A. You fly, because it takes too long to walk. Every single piece of "suspicious" behavior she recounts in her article has been checked out. I'm not going to go into detail about that. That's what everyone ELSE is doing. That or just mindlessly amplifying and repeating her crazy panic claims.
No, what drives me up the fucking wall is that this will NEVER DIE. It's part of the lexicon now. Some piece of random racist bullshit is now part of the free-floating sea of diarrhea that is the modern memetic culture. You will get this story in e-mail before you die. Guaranteed. From some crazy panicked relative. We all have them. Well, you all have them. If I have them, they don't have my fucking e-mail address and they're not gonna get it.
If you're LUCKY, you'll get it sometime in the next two weeks. Forwarded eight times already. Whichever sad relative forwarded it to you probably added something to the top like "Wow!" or "Something to think about!" or "Pass this on!". If you're not lucky, and I can almost guarantee you won't be, you'll get it eight months from now. Because the only thing worse than the clueless forwarder is the clueless forwarder who is helplessly behind the times. They're the ones that just sent you the photoshopped John Kerry / Jane Fonda picture last week, and they STILL DON'T KNOW IT'S FAKE. E-mails like this are the reason God invented computer viruses, you know. Just saying.
If anyone tries to tell you that the crazy panic woman story raises important issues, hit them in the face. It raises a sum total of one issue. If you are of Middle Eastern descent, or are one of the two dozen or so ethnicities and/or phenotypes that might be mistaken for Arabic, then sit in your seat, don't look at anyone, don't talk to anyone, stare forward, eat your peanuts, and stay quiet. You won't AVOID going to Guantanamo, it'll just make for a better story if you get out. "Yeah, they thought I was behaving strangely and sending signals to a Mexican guy with a beard four rows back. Something to do with the way I ate my peanuts, and how I never went to the bathroom. It's pretty funny in retrospect, except for the scarring on my testicles where they put the electrodes."
But it's too late now. The genie is out of the bottle, and there's nothing left to do about it except stock up on hard-drive-wiping "screensavers" and maintain a vigilant eye on our inboxes. Just saying.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Ninety-Four Deadly Sins

Memo to every last one of you right-wing pundit motherfuckers, from Limbaugh on down, who got up on Fox News and Crossfire and all those other fucking pundit shows that have formed their own self-contained pundit ecosystem. YOU ARE DUMB.
It was just seven bad apples. That's what we heard over and over from you apologists. Just seven bad apples. That was your talking point, along with "fraternity prank" and claiming everyone who thought this was a big deal was pro-terrorist and anti-soldier. But most of all, we heard "it was just seven".
Of course, it was ninety-four. Hell, it was MORE than ninety-four, because the Army, in its infinite wisdom, counterd your Abu Ghraib Seven as ONE. And your fraternity pranks left 39 people in our custody dead. So keep an eye on the right-wing pundits today. You think all those people who said "just seven" will be retracting? Correcting? Apologizing? No. What you will hear is them echoing, over and over again, two words from the Army report on the Army's abuses. And those two words are not "ninety" and "four", they are "not" and "systemic".
See, the Army investigated the Army, and the Army determined that there were 94 cases of abuse. That's a matter of record. 39 corpses is also a matter of record. It's data. The cases exist, they were counted, they ended up at 94. But the abuse was "not systemic", and "an aberration", according to the subjective part of the report the Army issued on its own practices.
The abuses occurred in 16 different prison facilities. But they weren't systemic. Two thirds of ALL detainees, not just those officially "abused", were held for a month, over 60 times longer than the 12 hour maximum mandated by regulation. But the problems aren't systemic. Prisoners were given food with rat shit in it, but the problems weren't systemic. In Afghanistan, prisoners were living in their own shit, but the problems weren't systemic.
Interrogators regularly used unapproved interrogation techniques. Well, they weren't exactly "unapproved". We said it was OK for the filthy terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, but not OK for the filthy terrorists in Iraq. I can see where that might be confusing. Very confusing. And aberrant. And not systemic at all.
The investigation didn't actually look into some of the most serious charges from the Taguba report that kicked off the whole scandal, like the "ghost detainees". We have those in the US, too. People we capture, and then hide from everyone, especially the Red Cross. That little minor aberration wasn't investigated at all. But the problems weren't systemic.
That's what you'll hear from the pundits. Over and over again. In a desperate attempt to put this whole thing away in a corner, they will seize on those two words and wield them like a jackhammer. And then spend the next half hour discussing the horrible crimes Sandy Berger committed by taking a couple of copies of classified documents home with him.
Which was INCREDIBLY FUCKING STUPID, by the way. On several counts. The right has shown complete willingness to make shit up ouf of whole cloth to smear the left with. You do not then hand them a minor incident that they can blow up into a major breach of national security. A couple of copies in a jacket pocket suddenly became original classified documents, stolen and smuggled out in Sandy Berger's boxer shorts.
And then, when the Justice Department agreed months ago to keep the whole minor investigation quiet and out of the press, the Democrats actually BELIEVED them. That makes Charlie Brown look like a cynical pragmatist during backyard football practice, that does. "Oh, sure. We won't leak this at all. You can trust us. Just ask Valerie Plame".
I mean, if this is how things go down now, imagine how fucked we'd be if there were any systemic problems.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

And Cracker McCracker As... The Racist

Memo To Texas: HERE WE GO AGAIN.
All right. Time to stop picking on poor Halle Berry, even though she's dumb and crazy and runs into things a lot with her car. It's time for a good old round of one of You Are Dumb Dot Net's favorite pastimes, KICK THE REDNECKS.
Since my plan to incorporate a sterility-inducing quantity of radium into the pressing process for the "Blue Collar Comics" DVD ended in dismal failure in no small part due to having thought of it after the stupid thing came out, I am forced, once again, to use this column as my sole vehicle for revenge against the mostly white, mostly southern, mostly male, mostly NASCAR-watching, mostly hootenannying hordes that embrace racism, stupidity, and pleistocine culture as their inalienable heritage. Plus, they keep giving Jeff Foxworthy money, and that's just fucking inexcusable.
Today, our ire returns to Texas, where the famed Yellow Rose is apparently made that way with an excess of chromium-laced paint, and where the natives then apparently gobble the roses down like White Castle sliders. Specifically, scenic Beaumont, Texas. Named after Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward "Lord Of All Repressed White Males" Cleaver, Beaumont is home to an astonishing array of beauty and culture.
Well, OK. They've got "Ford Park Entertainment Complex", which at first glance seems to be a pickups-instead-of-chocolate version of Hershey Park, but instead is just some form of low-rent arena where you can go hear Aaron Carter sing on August 14. They also have (and this is all going off the official Beaumont website, which is startlingly difficult to glean actual information from) a giant fire-hydrant-shaped building or silo painted like a cow; the Beaumont Drillers, which is either a sports team or a live sex show; the Texas Wildcatters, which is again either a sports team or a live sex show; and an active natural hazard mitigation plan of some sort.
Oh, and Jap Road. But if you want to see historic Jap Road, you'd better get down to Beaumont fast, because this piece of local history is about to be wiped off the map, literally, by a bunch of pinko commie P.C. liberals who don't understand how important Jap Road is.
Jap Road is a small country lane in Beaumont, allegedly taking its colorful name in honor of Yoshio Mayumi, who introduced rice farming to the region. No, really. It comes from a quaint time in Beaumont's past when you could honor someone simply by referring to their ancestry in a derogatory manner. This time is referred to by locals as "Last Tuesday".
But finally, after a ten-year fight, in a FOUR TO THREE DECISION, the local county commissioners decided they should change the name to something less offensive. Popular suggestions by locals include Yellowman Ave, Slanteye Lane, Pokemon Plaza, and We'llkickyourassifyoubuyatoyota Boulevard. But no new name can salve the loss from locals who, when Jap Road vanishes, will take a part of their history with it.
"It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," said Jap Road resident Earl Callahan. Some say Callahan, who's lived on Jap Road all his life, was incensed because he'd just ordered four reams of custom "wacky" stationery with his address on it from Abercrombie and Fitch.
But the County Commission, apparently having read my previous statements on the South, decided that even though none of the residents of Beaumont, TX would ever consider even thinking about being racist, especially to those nice Japanese people, they should probably change the name to keep them from looking like complete and utter redneck hicks. But Jason Marshbum, whose last name sounds like a British euphemism for diarrhea, didn't get that particular memo.
"It feels like we're in the middle of a George Orwell novel. It's like me suing Keebler or Nabisco because the word 'cracker' is offensive to us white people." Yes, it's exactly like that, except for there being no actual food product named "Jap" that the road was really named for, you fucking cracker. If you're going to name-drop George Orwell in an attempt to distract people from the pig attached to your crotch, you should have someone read one of his books to you first.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Actual Quote Day 2: Berry, Berry Dumb

Memo to Halle Berry, Part II: HOLY SHIT, YOU'RE DUMB.
I actually ran out of room in yesterday's column before getting to the end of a single Halle Berry interview. So today we pick up where we left off, with more choice wisdom from everyone's favorite Oscar-winning amnesiac dominatrix.
"I defy anyone to see me as Catwoman. I'm balls to the wall."
What does that even MEAN? Is she challenging people to NOT go see the movie? Is she daring us to risk seizures by going? Halle, you're on the cover of dozens of magazines in the costume. We've already seen you as Catwoman. You can't defy us that now, whatever the fuck that particular verb means in that particular context. But at least you're "balls to the wall". Whose balls, and whose wall, is anybody's guess at this point. Whatever brand of glue they used to attach that costume to you needs to be recalled, because the fumes do ugly things to brain chemistry.
"I grew up watching the 'Batman' TV series in the '60s. My favorite episodes were the ones where Catwoman was on. I couldn't resist mimicking Eartha Kitt because her kind of woman is just in my psyche."
Now, for the proper context of this quote, it's important to remember the bit from yesterday, where Berry claims that they desperately wanted to do something different from all the previous Catwoman, and didn't want to be compared to them. Remember that? Odd, then, that you would set about not being compared to previous Catwomen by MIMICKING ONE OF THEM. That's tactically iffy at BEST. But wait, there's more!
"The good thing about the movie is that we acknowledge all of the Catwomen of the past. We believe there are nine Catwomen, and I'm just one of them. So, I'm my own version who is a little more urban."
Again, what better way to avoid comparisons with previous Catwomen than to acknowledge all of them! Brilliant! At least this one's more urban. I'm so sick and tired of all those Catwoman stories set on fucking farms and in jungles. We've had Amish Catwoman for far too long! It's time for a change!
And how, exactly, did Halle Berry, who came into this world in August of 1966, manage to grow up watching the Batman TV series in the 60's? The show itself ran between '66 and '68. I suppose Halle could have been an incredibly precocious one-and-a-half-year-old when the series ended its run, but if so, there's no sign of her astonishing prodigy status now. Or she could have meant she watched reruns during the 70's, in which case she just can't get her goddamn prepositions straight. And speaking of not getting things straight, let us turn to the Curious Case of the Confusing Cat Conundrum.
"I didn't have a cat when we started this process, but I have one now. He was my little muse on this movie and I call him Fig Newton. We had 60 cats that worked on the movie. He was supposed to work as an actor, but I took him away from that life. Now he's retired. He didn't even work a day!
That quote isn't particularly dumb by itself. However...
"For the moment, Berry has only one guy in her life - Playdough, the homeless cat she adopted after "Catwoman" wrapped. Playdough was one of 43 cats used in the making of the film, and he warmed his way into Berry's heart." - The New York Post.
"'I have watched my cat and I listen to how he purrs and plays and walks and when he gets angry. And there's a sound that he makes that I've tried to use, too.' Her cat is one of the 60 homeless cats used in a scene in her last film, "Gothika," with Robert Downey Jr." -
So, let me get this straight. Halle Berry was able to use the mannerisms of the cat, one of between 43 and 60 cats used on either "Gothika" or "Catwoman", to help her in the role, even though she may have adopted the cat after the movie wrapped, and the cat is alternately named "Playdough" or "Fig Newton". And he either worked on the movie or he didn't. Got it. Still, they are very touching stories about the bonds between cat and woman, and I'm sure all of them are true in their own unique way. What the hell. They still aren't bothering to fact-check the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection, so there's really no particular impetus for Halle to spend any part of her limited mental capacity on keeping track of when she acquired her cat or what its name is. That's why stars have personal assistants.
As we learned yesterday, Catwoman is about female no really we mean it empowerment. And sure, perhaps yesterday she used a bad example to describe how, exactly, a skimpy leather outfit and face-licking is pro-womyn, but let's give her another shot. I mean, I bet she's taken the amazing womanpower given to her by starring in this movie and applied it in her everyday life.
"There was a sales clerk in there being extremely rude to a woman that I was standing next to, and I stood there and I thought, 'Wow! If I were Catwoman right now I could pounce on her and scratch her eyes out!"
That's so empowering. That's so incredibly empowering that I wish I were part of Halle's Great Sisterhood of Power and Womanitude, but alas, I am not. I can only watch from afar as they jump all over each other and scratch each other's eyes out. You've come a long way, baby.
"I will not marry again. I'll never get married again -- that's a fact. The man for me is now the cherry on the pie, but I'm the pie and my pie is good all by itself, even if I don't have a cherry. That's the way I'm looking at it -- my pie is good all by itself and that sometimes means being alone, but I'm OK with that these days."
It's taken two days and a dozen quotes, but Halle, you've finally made me completely superfluous. I salute you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Actual Quote Day!

Memo to Halle Berry: YOU ARE DUMB.
I decided to issue myself a challenge. Could I take the already smash-hit concept of ACTUAL QUOTE TIME and create an entire column out of it? I would need a subject near to the black depths of my heart-hate, and someone associated with that topic known for saying utterly ridiculous things. If Halle Berry did not exist, I may have had to invent her. But she does exist, and, in existing, speaks.
"We didn't want to do what had been done before. We so desperately didn't want to be compared to the Catwomen of the past."
Which is why they named the movie "Catwoman", then? Which is why you've taken your vocal cues from Eartha Kitt? I think we all know why you don't really want to be compared to the Catwomen of the past: because it's the fastest, easiest way to portray just how much your Catwoman sucks. And since when, exactly, have the makers of a summer action movie really not wanted to do what had been done before? They all SAY that, but they never mean it.
"Catwoman was supposed to have scratched the leather away. It was an attempt to update it and make it more reflective of the 21st century"
This, of course, is referring to her costume, and not some scene where Sharon Stone squirts Berry with a water bottle after Halle ruins the couch. Come to think of it, I think that one sentence contains a better scene than will actually appear in the entire Catwoman movie. But that's beside the point. We're supposed to believe that in some sort of feral rage, Catwoman decided to claw away, in neat, clean lines, the shoulders, chest, back, and belly (barring a few straps and metal links) of her outfit? Still, it is more reflective of the 21st century. The clearance rack of Hot Topic in the 21st century.
"With Catwoman, you don't know if she's gonna kiss 'em or kill 'em. She's like the good girl who loves to be naughty. I think that symbolizes female empowerment."
No, you stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid fucking idiot. The good girl who loves to be naughty is not female empowerment. It's a goddamn conservative male fantasy. Have you not seen the "Hot For Teacher" video? Are you trying to tell me David Lee Roth is the new Gloria Steinem? Do you believe what you're saying? Do you even HEAR it? Stop trying to pawn off your 1953-vintage Penthouse letter as if you're furthering the goddamn cause.
"Every time I put that suit on I walked differently, I felt differently. People would keep their distance from me. I didn't feel like a dominatrix when I had [the costume] on, but I guess I don't even know what that would feel like."
I don't even know where to start. It's like some kind of verbal Whack-A-Mole. You walked differently because it was RIDING UP YOUR ASS. You felt differently because it was RIDING UP YOUR ASS. People kept their distance from you because you were in Hollywood, and everybody in Hollywood is deathly terrified of SHITTY MOVIE COOTIES. And what do you mean, "you guess"? You either know what it feels like to be a dominatrix, or you don't. There's no gray area here. Unless you're prone to frequent blackouts, that is. Maybe you really don't know whether or not you've ever tied a guy up and peed in his mouth. It's possible. It's something I personally would want to keep TRACK OF if I were you, though. Maybe use Post-It notes.
"I never want to be one of these actors where people say, 'Oh, that's a Halle Berry role.' I don't want that to be my tag."
Finally, something we can agree on. I, too, would like Hollywood to never again look at a part and say "Oh, that's a Halle Berry role." Seems to keep happening, though, doesn't it.
"One of the reasons I've decided to get involved in commercial movies in Hollywood is that in order to have a long career, you have to be a part of the commerce of the industry - a part of making money for the studios,"
ATTENTION, EVERYONE. Ms. Berry would like it to be known that her participation in the shitty Cat movie, the shitty Bond movie, the tiny part in the X-Men movies, the shitty Gothika movie, the shitty Travolta spy movie, fucking "B*A*P*S*", the Flintstones movie, etc... that was all just a personal business decision so that she could pursue her ART and her CRAFT in, um, Monster's Ball and the Dorothy Dandridge TV-movie. No, really. She's got an Oscar, you know. But then, so does Akiva Goldsman.
And now, four words that have never before been uttered together in the history of You Are Dumb Dot Net: TO BE CONTINUED, TOMORROW.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Today's Proctological Roundup

It's Monday, and it's time for the Asshole Roundup! Get out your lassos and your cowboy hats... wait. That would make you an asshole. So let's just have the roundup without the trappings. Git along, little dipshits!
We should start with the 6,500,000 assholes, because they'll take a while to round up. That's how many assholes who, assuming an average $8 ticket price, went to see "I, Robot" this weekend. They need to be rounded up for their own good, frankly, because "Well, we saw I, Robot last week; Catwoman can't be that much worse, can it?" is an awfully compelling argument... if you're an asshole.
Of course, when it comes to assholery, you can't get much bigger than Arnie. Arnie made it into the news this weekend because, in a speech in California, he called Democrats opposing his budget plans... "girlie-men". GIRLIE-MEN. He's such an asshole. Not for openly mocking his opposition in a childish way. I think he should do that more often. That's why you Californians elected him, right? So that he could make one-liners like that at press conferences. You apparently wanted a dimwitted, combative, barely-comprehensible thick fuck ruling you like some kind of retarded clown, so obviously the system works.
No, he's an asshole for continuing to fucking appropriate the Hanz and Franz material. Hello? Arnold? You never said "girlie-man". It's a lot like "pump [clap] you up", which you used during the campaign. I know it's difficult for you to understand, but it wasn't you who said these things.
That was someone making fun of you for being a thick fuck retardoclown. Did you accidentally eat some of Reagan's brain? Did you do it on purpose? Stick to stealing from your own repertoire of "snappy" one-liners. You didn't write any of those either, but at least you said them, albeit after flubbing 40 takes and making two interns cry.
Hey! Politics! Today's Obvious Segue Moment brings us to political convention time. That's like Asshole Roundup without any of the actual work. All the assholes just round themselves up. Following some strange, innate herding instinct, all the Democrat assholes are striding across the plains to Boston, and the Republican assholes to New York. Zell Miller's going to New York too, but that's OK. When he gets there, the Republicans will gather around, sniff his butt, and realize he's one of their own.
Still, there is one group I'd like to split off from the herd for special attention: Protest Warriors. Like "Ushers of the Eucharist", calling your group "Protest Warriors" automatically makes you an asshole. No further exposition necessary. It's like driving an H2. You see a "Protest Warrior", you've got an asshole. That's not to say that further exposition won't be FUN, of course.
The Protest Warriors are Republicans. Add another 62% to the asshole quotient. They protest... other protests. They plan to be at the Republican National Convention to protest people who are protesting Republicans. That goes beyond "asshole". That's like some kind of prolapsed rectum, right there. Rectum The Edmund Fitzgerald, even. And while that horrific pun seeps into your skull, I will, because I am a gracious host, provide your brain with the sweet comedy balm that is ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"We are the right-wing freedom fighters - we are out there and are just as animated as the protesters can be." - Jason Sager, Protest Warrior. It's actually reassuring to know that if there are "right-wing freedom fighters" in this country, they're a bunch of assholes with signs in New York, and not 400 white guys in Montana with camo pants and assault rifles. America is safer.
"Conservatives by nature are not protesters... they curse at the evening news but that voice is never heard. We are rookies in the protest world, so yes, we are uneducated in how protests work." - Sager again, who is either lying out of his ass or is ignorant on the kind of level that Jessica Simpson only dreams of achieving some day. Either way, I'd love to see him locked in a room with a dozen or so Planned Parenthood employees who could educate him, between repeated boots to the gut, just how much protesting conservatives actually do. Asshole.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Spastic Topic Monkey Friday II: The Spastening

In a new "I, Robot" TV spot I saw yesterday, Will Smith says, in character: "Robots building other robots? That's just stupid." I think that sums up the movie in a nutshell right there. The one part of the script that's likely to make any sort of sense, and Our Hero thinks it's dumb. What does he think, that when we start making robots, they're going to be artisinally hand-crafted by the Amish?
I know some of you, reading this, are gonna go anyway. You can't help it. I'll have the same problem when Alien Vs. Predator comes out. It's going to suck, but it still attaches to some kind of geek receptor in my nervous system. But try to fight the urge anyway. This is Akiva Goldsman we're talking about here. This isn't Ordinary Summer Bad. This is the man that wrote "Lost In Space". Just let go.
When you think about it, "I, Robot" isn't really an adaptation of Asimov's classic stories. It's actually an adaptation of the 80's video game, "Berzerk". You've got a lone human running through hallways shooting at robots who are trying to kill him for two hours. It's a pity Brando died, frankly. He'd be perfect for Evil Otto. Stop the humanoid. Stop the intruder.
I'm not even going to get into the whole Whoopi Goldberg, "Hollywood Hatefest" thing. It's only mid-July. There's going to be almost four full months more of this bullshit before we get to vote, anyway. I gotta pace myself. If I blew an arterial gasket every single time the right went on one of its hypocritical tirades at the left for being a smidge harsh, I'd be forced to drink Fix-A-Flat every morning instead of Vanilla Coke.
I do think it's a pity that a comedy pioneer like Whoopi gets slammed just because she happened to be the first person in the country to finally realize a possible sexual connotation to Bush's last name. I just hope nobody finds a way to "crude up" the name of our beloved vice president, Mr. Richard Cheney.
OK, maybe I'll get into it a little. Whoopi Goldberg making Bush jokes and John Cougar Mellencamp calling the President a "cheap thug" is not a HATEFEST. You know how I know this? Because I've been presiding over a fucking hatefest myself since the start of this year, I've never used the words "cheap thug", and I only made the obvious Bush joke once. And it was filler. But "Hollywood Mild Attack Of Sporadic Grumpiness" doesn't roll trippingly off the tongues of your Fox News anchors, so I guess all us real hatefests have to deal with a wimpy, half-assed poseur who just crashed our annual convention.
And the next day, Dennis Miller, whose resume for the past three years has at least eight different entries for "redefining pathetic", spoke at a Bush fundraiser, said Kerry and Edwards should "get a room", and called James Carville a "Satanic Chihuahua".
I'm actually not particularly concerned with the controversy. I'm just enjoying Miller's slide into oblivion. You look at his material now, and it's almost impossible not to imagine his writing process. I picture a dark hotel room, a bottle of vodka, a thick stack of Bushie talking points, and a laptop. And on the laptop there's two windows open. One to Google, and one to an elaborate Excel spreadsheet that tells him the last time he made a "Beverly Hillbillies" reference.
Gulp of vodka. Talking point: Flipflopper. Hm. Did Buddy Ebsen ever flipflop? What else flips? What else flops? Gulp of vodka. Google "flop". Flophouse. Megaflops. Those sandal things. Gulp of vodka. Stare out window. Remember being funny on Weekend Update. Stare at joke in progress. "This guy..." Need a verb. What was that talking point again? "This guy flipflops... " I'm supposed to say he does this a lot, right? Vodka. "This guy flipflops more than..." OK, cultural reference time. You can still do it, cha-cha. You've sold books. You've done movies. You were in "Bordello of Blood", for fuck's sake, so you can damn well think of something he flipflops more than.
Shit. Nothing. Back up. What about a Match Game thing? "This guy flipflops so much that..." and then the audience yells "HOW MUCH DOES HE FLIPFLOP!". Wonder if I can count on that. We'll be in Wisconsin. More vodka. Screw the audience. I don't need an audience for my CNBC show, dammit. "This guy flipflops so much he needs..." what's that thing? That thing in the car? Google it. A GPS navigation system! That's hip new technology. I'll seem cutting edge. "This guy flipflops so much he needs a GPS navigation system to know which way he's gonna vote." There you go. You still got it, man. You still got it.
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Den Fuurnihooars

Memo to the hundreds of people camped out in front of the new Ikea store yesterday morning: YOU FUCKING STUPID FUCKING FUCKS ARE FUCKING DUMB.
As a resident of Minneapolis, about a year or so ago I lived through the Krispy Kreme Onslaught. Minneapolis did, up until that point, not have any Krispy Kreme lardpuck shops. The donuts, which were just donuts, goddammit, had somehow accreted dozens of near-godlike qualities through word-of-mouth and mass delusion. Eating a Krispy Kreme donut was supposed to be akin to a mouthgasm, the kind of pleasure usually reserved for royalty. A dripping torus of pure heaven. And we were finally going to be able... no, we were going to be given the honor of being permitted the HONOR of buying them.
There were lines around the block. To be in possession of even a single Krispy Kreme donut gave you the ability to wage confectionary class warfare upon your friends and co-workers. Honest, caring Midwesterners wrestled with the "share or hoard" ethical dilemma. There may have been rioting in the streets.
Eventually, as more locations opened and boxes of the fucking things started clogging a rack at Target, we all came to our senses, realized they're just donuts, and moved on. Plus everyone jumped on board with Atkins, and as it turns out, KK donuts have WHEAT in them, so they became anathema. I hear Krispy Kreme is working on a low-carb donut now, but so far all they've managed is a bowl of hot fat with a layer of melted sugar on top, and it keeps melting the cheap plastic spoons.
You'd think we'd have learned our lesson, but nooooooooo. Now we've got an Ikea. Cheap, functional Scandinavian furniture. I have nothing against Ikea furniture. I'm not going to go all Fight Club on you, don't worry. But nearly 200 people CAMPED OUT OVERNIGHT so that they could be amongst the first to shop at the store Wednesday morning. And if an errant bulldozer had come careening through their ranks, killing them all, the average IQ in the Twin Cities metro would have jumped three points.
At least with the stupid fucking donuts, if you didn't have a KK shop in your area, you were out of luck. You had no other options, short of FedEx overnight, and all that nets you is a huge shipping bill and a box of day-old donuts. Furniture, on the other hand, deteriorates at a much slower rate.
If you live in the Twin Cities, and you wanted Ikea furniture before July 14, you could FUCKING WELL GET IT. Ikea does mail order, people. What kind of mentality, exactly, leads you to decide that sleeping overnight on pavement near the Mall of America is perfectly acceptable behavoir, yet going to a website and placing an order is TOO MUCH HASSLE? You people need help.
The first fucker was out there on Sunday night. SUNDAY NIGHT. There were actually six people there, but five of them won a contest and got a couple of grand worth of stuff to be there. I don't know if I'd swim in my own filth in Bloomington for four days for $2,000 worth of furniture, but you know what the sixth guy got? An eighty-buck armchair. That's 20 dollars a day. That's ninety five cents an HOUR. Toothless whores with only three limbs sell themselves for more than 95 cents an hour. Sweatshop workers in third-world countries are lining up to offer 30-year-old Carl Aasen career advice.
Aasen is Swedish for "asshole". And I believe, to use another Swedish phrase, that it's AKTUAAL KWOOUT TYM! ''I've never done a crazy thing in my life, and this is probably the last one."- Carl Aasen. So the guy decides to do ONE SINGLE CRAZY THING in his entire lifetime, and it's waiting four days in line for an eighty buck chair. You wild man. Either Carl is the dullest human being on the planet, or he's got a collection of mummified neighbor heads in his basement.
I just want every last one of the 2,000 people in line yesterday morning when the store opened, at least one of whom actually wept with joy according to news reports, that I hate you and I hate your shelves. Happy Belated Ikea Day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

At Least He'll Be Able To See The Forest

"I, Robot" scored very well amongst focus groups composed entirely of impotent men, you know. Just sayin'.
Memo to Republicans: STATES' RIGHTS ARE DUMB.
At least they are the way you use them. The whole thing about conservatives is that they're supposed to be for a small federal government, and that any time a decision could be made by local government, it should be. And that's fine. I mean, it's STUPID, but it's fine as an alternative philosophy.
Me, I spent a couple of years working for a small-town newspaper interacting with "local government" on a regular basis, and as bad as big-time politicians are, at least they're motivated by large-scale evil. Local politics is like a cable access reality show where the prize is two pieces of bubble gum and a nickel. You give these people any more responsibility, and it's Lord of the Flies all over again next time the school board meets.
But modern Republicans aren't actually interested in "states' rights". They don't want to just hand issues over to the states willy-nilly. States' rights are for stuff they can't get away with nationally. Unless you're in the South, where "states' rights" just means "We shoulda won that goldang Civil War!".
Any time you hear "give greater control to the states", you're seeing an agenda that wouldn't fly nationally, but will do just fine in red-state militia land. Like abortion restrictions. Or forestry. Ol' Dubya wants to "give the states greater control" over whether to allow logging roads, and therefore LOGGING, in national forests. Currently, thanks to our last President, you can't do it. There's almost 60 million acres of roadless national forest that's supposed to fucking well stay that way. And Bush can't get away with overriding it nationally, so he wants to "let the states decide". Ha ha ha.
Here's one of the dirty little secrets about liberals. As much as we love to hug the trees in a strictly euphemistic sense, we actually don't live NEAR trees in any significant numbers. We live on the coasts and in the big cities where any trees that DO exist were put there by the government, right in the median strip or through that sad little hole in the sidewalk. Out there where most of the real trees are, that's Scary Conservative Land. And gee, I wonder what the scary conservatives in Scary Conservative Land are going to decide to do with their trees? State's rights!
Here in Minnesota, where we've had to clear a big treeless swath through the Twin Cities to make room for all the liberals, our Scary Republican Governor has already gone on the record as saying this plan to cut down more trees is "good for the environment. As the reddening light filters through the summer leaves, I look at the forest floor, and think to myself, "What the fuck am I doing out here? I need a Wi-Fi point! It's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Minnesotans can be assured that Governor Pawlenty will exercise the judgment necessary to balance forest access with environmental protection." - Pawlenty spokesman Dan Wolter, five seconds before running off-stage to put in a buy order on McCulloch stock.
Of course, just suggest that a state might have the right to decide whether or not gays can marry, and you'll see how far the conservative love of states' rights gets you. Sorry, Massachussetts! At least you're welcome to cut down the last dozen or so of your trees. An Office Max would look good right about there, anyway.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Democracy Once Again DOOMED

Before we begin, a quick update on Try To Say Something Bad About "I, Robot" Every Day This Week Week. Scientists have determined that watching "I, Robot" can cause unsightly growths on your acronym.
And now, a memo to everyone panicking about the Election Delay Plan: DAMN, I HOPE YOU'RE DUMB.
This is the problem with being a liberal who hates people. It makes things difficult at times like this. Because on the one hand, the idea that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into ways to postpone the election in the case of a terrorist attack is deeply troubling. On the other hand, it also plays right into the deepest fears of the Paranoid Conspiracy Leftits. And I hate it when the PCL's are even remotely right.
When the PCL's come close to the mark with their apocalyptic predictions of the fascist police state that is right around the corner, two things happen. First, they become a bit more insufferable, which is difficult, but possible. And second, it points out just how well and truly fucked we are.
The Department of Homeland Security, for its part, claims it is just looking into the technical legalities of the situation for purposes of contingency planning. Which sounds reassuring, until you remember the last time a federal department looked into the possible technical legalities of something, it was "how much torture can we get away with" and lo and behold, the answer turned out to be "quite a bit, actually."
Depending on who you talk to, there are two precedents in play here. First, local elections in New York were delayed after the 9/11 attacks, because, well, New York's mayoral election date isn't actually enshrined in the Constitution, and there were piles of rubble and plumes of roiling smoke all over the place. The other precedent is, of course, Spain, where an Al Qaeda bombing right before their elections presumably "changed the outcome" and led to the election of a liberal candidate who pulled Spain's troops out of Iraq.
The first rationale makes no sense on a national level. Unless the terrorists devise a plan to simultaneously blow up hundreds of thousands of elementary school gymnasiums, the country will be able, for the most part, to get to the polls.
So that leaves Spain, which is a wonderful example of American retardation at work. If you look at the stories about the election delay, they all say that the Madrid bombing changed the outcome of the election, which is true, but roughly akin to saying it was the explosion in the chamber of a rifle in Texas that made Lyndon Johnson the president. People here think that all of Spain rose up as one and pissed their pants as soon as they got bombed, and voted in the liberals in the hopes of appeasing the terrorists. When what ACTUALLY happened is that the incumbent tried to use the bombing for his political advantage, blaming Basque separatists for it even though the evidence pointed toward Al Qaeda, and so the Spanish electorate fired his sorry ass.
The funny part is, either way, the reasoning still is "we don't want that to happen here". The fake reasoning is that we don't want overly emotional traumatized Americans making poor decisions in the heat of the moment, and the real reasoning is that we wouldn't want the public to actually judge the incumbent on how much he lied about terrorism in order to achieve his personal political goals.
I'm so glad that we have the Department of Homeland Security now to tell us, by the way, which world events we, as voters, should be allowed to use to sway our opinion on the candidates. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? I mean, let's say Bush gets caught in an open-mic moment telling a racist joke or something two days before the election. Would that "unfairly" sway the voting public? That's how the political game works. A big fuckup can cost you your job, even if it's not your fault. Given all the other ways the powers-that-be have at their disposal to prevent or delay the release of bad news, or just lie in reports, it's nice to have one part of the process they can't tweak for their own benefit. For the time being.
Of course, over the weekend, I watched what appeared to be a documentary about the inner workings at Homeland Security, called "The 4400". From this educational program, I learned that in the event of an emergency, Homeland Security will dispatch a pair of Mulder and Scully knockoffs to wander around aimlessly and bitch about their personal lives while dozens of alien abductees demonstrate mysterious supernatural powers. So maybe the paranoid lefies are right to be keeping an eye on this one.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Your Stinking PIehole And How To Use It

Before we begin, I'd like to officially call for a ten-year moratorium on the phrase "perp walk". Has there been, in recent history, a term that's arced from nonexistent to relevant to annoying to hateful to useless AND hateful in less time? There has not.
I mean, "perp" is bad enough when cops use it, but at least they're sort of... allowed to. They can have their own slang. But anybody else using "perp" just comes off as a wanker, and any wanker who knowingly appends "walk" is compounding their crime exponentially. Oooh, Ken Lay's in handcuffs, and he's WALKING. It's so gritty. Finally, real punishment for corporate crime, as if, at the finish line to this little display, there weren't four defense attorneys, a giant novelty bail check, and two personal assistants with a decaf latte and a warm towel waiting for Lay.
"Perp Walk" is the kind of phrase that makes today's weak-livered, low-fiber Journalist Substitutes cream themselves and make them think that the stuff they're watching and regurgitating is "news". Plus, at eight letters and two syllables, it's perfect for USA Today, and fits into a tight headline space than "pointless show of authority by the figurehead law enforcement departments who the Ken Lays of the world buy and sell eight times before breakfast". But hey. three minutes and 20 seconds of holding his hands behind his back oughta show him who's boss.
Having gotten What Not To Say out of the way, let us turn to What To Say. I think we need to kick this off early to get a head of steam going, so I think everyone needs to take, say fifteen seconds ouf of their day every day this week to say something bad about "I, Robot" in public.
Many of you should find this easy. While "I, Robot" is unlikely to be Garfield-bad or Catwoman-bad, it is still either really fucking dumb, or being advertised as such. And while I hold little hope that we can actually talk people out of going to see a Big Loud Movie where Will Smith makes quips and uses his Serious Face, we can at least maybe place some subliminal suggestions that might cause people to accidentally go see Spider-Man 2 a third time or something.
Let me provide some guidelines.
DO mention that the guy who wrote this movie wrote 'that shitty Batman movie. You know, the last one.'
DON'T mention that the guy who wrote this movie also wrote "A Beautiful Mind", because most of the people within earshot either kind of liked it or will just remember that it inexplicably won Oscars and forget about the INEXPLICABLY part.
DO mention that it's based on a whole bunch of long, boring books that only nerds read.*
DON'T add "You know. Like Lord of the Rings."
ALSO DON'T mention that they're totally fucking up the books because the books apparently don't have enough shattering glass in them. The only books people care about moviemakers not fucking up have that wizard kid in them. Applying that argument to any other book will cause them to dismiss you as a sexless pasty lump, and will likely make them want to see the movie more.
DON'T bring up Alex Proyas. The Proyas Gambit is far too risky, because there'sa significant group of people out there who normally could be trusted to not see I, Robot. However, every time you mention Proyas, their eyes glaze over, they lick their Dark City Special Edition DVD's, and they wont' come to their senses until the caterer credit rolls past. This is not a time for your steenking auteur theory.
You have five days. That's five different bad things, and I've already given you at least two. Go forth and deride, but try to be casual about it. More ninja, less mormon.
*This is one of those things where you don't send me angry e-mails filled with your deep and abiding love for the Three Laws.

Friday, July 9, 2004

Port Whine Cheese Blog

Memo to Whiny Bloggers: YOU ARE DUMB.
So I flip past Wired, and see this big story about Blog Burnout. What's happening is that bloggers are starting blogs, the blogger's blogs are getting popular, the bloggers feel compelled to constantly blog because they're popular, and the blogging bloggers get blogged out and stop blogging.
Some people continue to wonder why I insist that You Are Dumb is NOT A BLOG. Well, here's one reason why. I don't need to be lumped in with a bunch of whiny-pants wusses who fold like a Holiday Inn towel during an origami convention under the crushing weight of audience expectations, real or imagined. Nobody goes around calling Sluggy Freelance a blog even though it's updated every day and automatically archived, you know.
So what causes the dreaded Blog Burnout? In some cases, it's the fact that the Internet is full of assholes who will constantly and repeatedly give you their unwanted opinion if you give them half a chance. That's what took down the Whisky Bar, home of blogger "Billmon."
"In the end, monitoring comments on my blog was becoming a progressively larger part of my blogging time, and I just got to the point where I wasn't able to keep up with it." Billmon did the sensible thing, and shut off the comments, but since he set the whole site up as a "bar" metaphor, he's now left with metaphorically shouting through his metaphorical window at all the actual assholes metaphorically sitting on his metaphorical stoop.
Billmon still proclaims that "That's one of the most exciting things about blogging, that ability to have dialogue with your readers." I don't understand that kind of blind optimism. I mean, here is a man who was just forced to stop having dialogue with his readers because he had to spend way too much of his time herding the little 'tards and keeping them from pissing on the furniture, and yet he still talks about "dialogue with the readers" as if it's something that should not only be permitted, but encouraged.*
Still, I have to give "Billmon" a bit more begrudging respect than, say, a Jason Kottke, a Glenn Reynolds, or the Daily Kos guy, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who seem to have lost sight of the whole point of Saying Stuff On The Internet Because You Can. So I'll offer my unsolicited advice, based on their whining to Wired.
Jason Kottke: You start to feel like the readers are depending on you, and ... like you have to post something whether you feel like it or not, and that can be depressing.". The solution to this dilemma is simple. All people "depend" on free Net content for is to make it through another dull day in their cubicle. If people do not get their Free Internet Content, they will continue to breathe, eat, shit, and fuck as normal, and at worst, may be forced to buy a newspaper to read in the can. This is, as a blogger, NOT YOUR PROBLEM. You don't HAVE to do anything unless you've explicitly stated you would and you can't bear the consequences if you don't. This is why YAD, despite having been daily for months now, doesn't promise anywhere on the site that it's daily. SORTED. NEXT.
Glenn Reynolds: "I know that if I go more than about five or six hours without posting, or telling people that I'm not going to be blogging for the rest of the day, [I get e-mails like] 'You haven't posted anything in five or six hours. Are you OK?'"These people are idiots. Even assuming that something has gone Horribly Wrong, that you've had a stroke or your brother spontaneously combusted or your cat killed your ferret, what makes them think you'll be able to answer your e-mail? And what makes them think there's anything they can do to help you from their boring cubicle? Fuck them. Delete their messages and add their names to your e-mail filter so that you never hear from them again. Then mock them openly in your blog. SORTED. NEXT.
Kos Guy: "There's always pressure to have new content up on the site. And it's not like my readers are calling me up and saying, 'What the hell?' But you can sense it. You can sense it when you post something new and 10 minutes later there's 50 comments. You can almost feel they were sitting there waiting. I'm always feeling like I'm letting people down if I don't have any new stuff up on the site." This is not only the readers' problem, but it's a problem you are PROJECTING onto your readership. If they are not giving you money, and odds are they ain't, then they can suck it up or go hang. SORTED. NEXT.
Kottke again!: Sometimes it gets harder to find interesting stuff to talk about. There are 3 million blogs, and everyone is talking about everything. It's tough to deal with that sometimes, and you don't want to just be another person talking about the same stuff that everybody else is talking about." Tough shit. You ARE just another person talking about the same stuff. So am I. Accept that. If the stuff you say is interesting enough to catch the eyes of bored cubiicle drones, then it's good enough for them. Get over it. SORTED. NEXT.
Reynolds, again!: "There are times that people want me to have an opinion on stuff that I just don't have an opinion on,"Then either shut up, or lie your ass off. SORTED.
Leave it to the Internet to create the blog, a system that allows people to say whatever they want whenever they want, on no particular schedule, whenever the whim strikes them, and then turn it into some hideous online codependent neurosis-fest. Get over yourselves.
*I realize this statement is, in many ways, fundamentally at odds with the very existence of the YAD Forum, but at least, like Super Chicken, I have the common sense to have known the job was dangerous when I took it.