Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Silent Bob: Shut Your Pothole!

The necessary disclaimer - I have not seen "Clerks". I have seen "Mallrats" in half-hour overlapping chunks on afternoon TV. I despise "Chasing Amy" with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. I thought "Dogma" was OK, but it really doesn't hold up to repeated viewings, or even repeated flip-pasts on Comedy Central. I felt no need to see "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" or "Jersey Girl". Now, on to Kevin Smith's deep-seated mental problems and general hackery.
So, Kevin. You want to make "Clerks II". That's fine. We all understand. Really we do. It's OK. After all, you're 34 years old. Prime mid-life crisis age. And the Jersey Girl thing was a bit of a bump in the career road, wasn't it. That kind of abject failure is enough to shake even a stalwart man. The desire to return to the womb, to those halcyon days when you were a celebrated indie wunderkind, is perfectly natural.
Those were good times, weren't they? Back then, putting a Green Lantern reference in your movie was pretty hot shit. Not like now. Now there's Google. So on the off chance someone didn't know who Green Lantern was from actually being a comic geek, or watching the Justice League toon, or hearing about the Jack Black Green Lantern movie that isn't actually being made, they could just look it up in five seconds. From their cellphone. During the movie. In its first run. And all of a sudden, knowing about Green Lantern and putting him in your movie isn't such a big deal. But you pioneered that, man. That's your ouevre. If you'd patented making big stars talk about obscure shit that only nerdy writers knew about, you could retire.
Same with lesbians. I know I miss the time when you could put a beautiful, committed lesbian in your movie, have her screwing Ben Affleck by the three-quarter point, and still be considered progressive and daring. Not now, though. Damn shame, really. Now Spike Lee's getting in trouble for his lesbians wanting purely procreative sex. These are different times. Scary times. Complicated times.
So you want to revisit your youth. That's fine. But don't try to pretend you suddenly have hit upon the Great Sequel Idea, and this isn't about the Jersey Girl box office tallies or your own feelings of inadequacy. The "I wouldn't have done a sequel, but I had this AMAZING IDEA" excuse is not only rampant throughout history, it's one that, as a self-professed comic book geek, you should be infinitely familiar with. How many comic writers have used the Amazing Idea ploy to justify bringing back some dead superhero or other? How many of these ideas were actually amazing? I know you know. I bet you can cite issue numbers.
So don't feed us bullshit in interviews like "I thought about it honestly, and it would seem chicken to not give it a shot just because I'm afraid of fucking with the first film." Because after Amazing Idea, the pseudo-rebellious, I'm-no-chicken, go-ahead-and-call-me-a-sellout-my-heart-is-pure line is the SECOND most common bullshit creative types spew for going back to the well that spawned them.
What is the Amazing Idea? What is the movie so daring he would be a chickenshit NOT to film it? Well, let me put it this way. You remember Dazzler? You know, the one with the roller skates and the huge hooters? Well, I remember the one time where like Doctor Doom or some shit had Dazzler in his, like, metal clutches, and she said, "It's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!"
"It's about what happens when that lazy, 20-something malaise lasts into your 30s. Those dudes are kind of still mired, not in that same exact situation, but in a place where it's time to actually grow up and do something more than just sit around and dissect pop culture and talk about sex. It's: 'What happened to these dudes?'"
Come ON. Sigmund Freud's rotting corpse passed on this case because it's TOO DAMN OBVIOUS. "Jersey Girl" was what happened when you tried to grow up and do something more than just sit around dissecting pop culture and talking about sex. And the world rejected it, fairly or otherwise. The only way this could be even more of a cry for help is if, at the end of the Clerks 2 script, Dante and Randal go back to the convenience store, and there's a big HELP WANTED sign on the door, fade to black... "A KEVIN SMITH FILM."
It's OK, Smith. We all understand. And we care about you*. But your first step is admitting that you have a problem.
*This sentence is, from a purely technical, factual standpoint, not actually true. But it's what you say in these situations.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Cranium... Or Lawn Sprinkler?

he Olympics are over, and I have to say, I'm relieved.
I don't really mind the Olympics per se, it's just that there are certain things you can't escape while they're around. Rampant jingoism. An emphasis on winning at any cost. Tales of struggle and hardship manipulated by cold, uncaring speakers in order to win over your support. Steroid abuse. The corrupting influence of money. And the general jock locker-room "we're number one" atmosphere.
Yep, luckily, we can put all that behind us as we head into the Republican... National... Convention... fuck.
Luckily, I have prepared for this eventuality, and had my science friends whip me up a handy Aneurysmometer.
It monitors my stress level, my blood pressure, and the strength of my arterial walls, and converts all those readings to an easy-to-understand modified Richter scale. As you can see, my normal, early-morning level of hate and rage puts me at about a 3.1, which for me is just that background dish-rattling tremor that, being used to it, I pay no mind to. As the convention progresses, however, certain events will increase the Aneurysmometer, and if I'm not well into the red "spurty zone" by Friday, we'll all be a bit surprised.
The meter will, in all likelihood, go up whenever:
  • A commentator or anchorman refers to John McCain as a "maverick", a "moderate", or "independent".I've already filled space with one picture today, so you won't get one of any number of pictures of McCain dry-humping Dubya on the campaign trail, but I think we all know how I feel about the one member of the Keating Five who still has a career.
  • Every time Arnold Schwarzenegger flashes that shit-eating grin of his. By fuck, that's irritating. Because you know what that smile says? When Arnie smiles like that, and you look it up in the Smile - English dictionary, the entry reads "I'm a rich, cigar-chomping Neanderthal whose gender politics alternate between 1952 and 1971. And I'm the MODERATE." Also, please allow for a slight uptick in the meter anytime some wag uses the term "Governator". We all are aware that Arnold portrayed a killer robot from the future in three films, a theme park ride, and innumerable shitty videogames. We do not need to be reminded by a nickname even Jay Leno finds a bit stale.
  • Every single time Republican metaphorical schlong uses the gaping hole at Ground Zero as its own personal ten-dollar whore. With New York as the venue, and Giuliana stepping up to the podium tonight, and hey, look at that calendar, it's obscenely obvious to everyone that the unofficial theme of RNC this year is "Re-Elect This Fucking Chimp Or You're Gonna Lose A Few More Skyscrapers".
  • Every single, interminable second I'm reminded of Zell Miller's existence. Self-explanatory, I'd assume.
But don't worry, there are a few things that could happen during the RNC that will cause the meter to drop, possibly sparing my carpets from an expensive cleaning bill.
  • Every time Dubya fucks up during his acceptance speech. Sure, it's probably pre-recorded, edited, and synced up to an animatronic control chip in his jaw, but that hasn't stopped him from flubbing his lines in the past.
  • Every single time one of the cable news channels puts a Democratic rapid-response representative on-air right after a Republican speaks. You know, just like they did during the entirety of the DNC coverage. They've got to treat both sides equally, right? Right?
Who am I kidding. I should get Rug Doctor on speed-dial.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Another Pleasant Valley Spastic Topic Monkey Friday

Some of you may wonder about the nature of Spastic Topic Monkey Fridays. Why on many occasions, your humble author feels the need to dump a big load of half-formed concepts unworthy of full column stature on an audience that just wanted a little diversion, a little comedy. All I can tell you is, to paraphrase the late, lionized-despite-beating-and-torturing-women Rick James, "Caffeine's a hell of a drug." I have a sort of Ike-Tina relationship with caffeine, one in which caffeine and I alternately play both roles, and that frequently results in physiological payback by Friday morning. Welcome to my braindump.
Memo to the dudes in the back of the bus: DUMB. AND LUCKY. Lucky I wasn't feeling particularly Socially Darwinian yesterday afternoon. Because if I had, I might have decided to pass along the epic quantities of information you provided on your drug-buying and dealing activities to the authorities. Just to punish you for being so indiscreet about it. I don't care what you do. I'm borderline libertarian when it comes to drugs. But at least act like it's a LITTLE illegal. Loudly discussing where you live, how to contact you, what you can hook people up with, is just DUMB. And bumming an Oxycontin off the white-trash mother of two who very obviously had already taken a couple was just fuckin' tacky.
I love public transit, really I do. But I just want to ride home, play some Game Boy, and sit in peace. I do not need to spend half an hour listening to the Blue Collar Comics re-enactment of "Traffic". Thank you.
Memo to John O'Neill: DUMBASS. First, you say that John Kerry was never in Cambodia because you were never in Cambodia, which is specious reasoning to begin with. Then, confronted with a tape of you telling Nixon "I was in Cambodia", you supposedly address the contradiction. By explaining that when you said "in Cambodia", you actually meant NOT IN CAMBODIA. Brilliant! I suppose it would be a bit crass to suggest that this whole mess depends on what your definition of "in" is? It's a good thing you're not President. And a Democrat. Not to defend Clinton, but his definition of "sexual relations" is almost exactly the same degree of prevarication that "served with John Kerry" is.
Memo to Dubya: FUCKHEAD. "I understand how Sen. Kerry feels - I've been attacked by 527s too." Take your rattlesnake sympathy and shove it up your ass. Has anyone actually bothered to ask Bush which 527 ads attacking him contain demonstrably false statements? Here's a hint. Being called a shitty President doesn't count. They're not naming specific advertisements they object to for reasons that should be blatantly obvious even to people stoned off their ass on Oxycontin, be they bus riders or talk radio hosts. If Bush were any more transparent, he could strap on a set of clear plastic boobs and play Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four movie.
And on a related note, let me just bitch, briefly, one more time, about the fucking media. Given everything we know now, historically, about the behavior of poiticians, especially Presidents, how in the hell could it POSSIBLY seem like a good idea to start taking them at their word? With the possible exception of Carter, every single President from Kennedy on up has been shown to have been lying out of their asses for nearly their entire terms. Both parties. Just a constant stream of truth-shading, manipulation of selective facts, out-and-out falsehoods, hiding information... it hasn't changed. It's still going on. It'll still go on after November no matter who we pick. That is the reason you are there.
You do not exist so that I can find out what George W. Bush said at 2:42 p.m. instead of waiting until 6:30. You do not exist to sit between two lying assholes and point from one to the other. You are here because if there are hundreds and thousands of people poking at stuff trying to find out as best as they can what is actually going on, the people in charge have to WORK HARDER AT LYING TO US. You're like copy protection on software. You'll never stop the lying. You're just there to make us hunt for cracks and serials on porn-laden pop-up sites if we want to steal the software. And right now, you can't even be bothered to do THAT much, because you suck so incredibly hard. Adobe knows better than to just put a question at the beginning of the install asking "Did you buy this software? Yes/No?", and computers haven't been around nearly as long as lying politicians. What's YOUR fucking excuse?
"Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2" opens today. Authorities have set up elaborate haz-mat "safe zones" around area theaters to prevent vulnerable individuals from coming within 200 feet of the movies. Vulnerable individuals are defined as anyone who has read a book 50 pages or longer in the past two years, anybody who remembers that PBS is on Channel 2, and anybody who can count to eight without taking off their shoes. Anyone wishing to enter the movie's area effect can bypass security checks with proof of purchase of any "Larry The Cable Guy" DVD.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Wolf Ate The Straw Cabin Republicans

Memo to the Log Cabin Republicans: YOU ARE DUMB.
Haven't you figured it out yet? You will never, EVER be truly welcome. Oh, they'll take your votes. They'll take your money. And then, surprise surprise, they'll stab you in the back, fuck you over, and burn you in effigy to appease the "God Hates Fags" crowd that makes up so much of their base. I don't care how concerned you are about "small government" or tax cuts or your own bank account. Every single one of you is voting for your own oppression. You will not change the party from the inside, because the inside of the party is made up entirely of Falwellians who either hate you outright, or think that the way to power is acting like they hate you.
Don't be heartened by Dick Cheney. I can't believe I even have to type that sentence, but don't be heartened by Dick Cheney. Over the weekend, he grudgingly admitted that gays deserve equal rights, and that he wasn't all that fond of the constitutional amendment idea. Dick Cheney now has the same stated position on gay marriage as John Kerry, which is deeply sad for both of them - sad for Cheney because of the sheer effort required to reach a position that's even borderline moderate, and sad for Kerry because, well, he's agreeing with Cheney. This is why people voted for Nader in 2000, John.
Obviously, something got to Cheney, but I can't figure out what it is. Maybe his gay daughter, Mary, finally tore him a new one at a family dinner. Maybe, in some improbable Ted Geisel Moment, his shrunken, black heart started to beat again, he discovered the real meaning of Christmas, and had a happy song about how homos are people too. Maybe his conscience picked the locks on the secret underground bunker and travelled across the country, like a dog in a Disney movie, to finally reunite with its owner.
Still, you don't need to worry about Cheney ripping up his own personal loyalty oath to Bush. In the same breath as his almost-reasonable statements on gay rights, he essentially said that whatever Dubya wants, Dubya gets, and that's just fine by him. So not only is he betraying his daughter, he's betraying her to support a cause he doesn't actually agree with. What a Dick.
Now a CYNIC might look at Cheney's statement and, rather than hearing a concerned father or a reformed neo-con zealot, the cynic may hear the faint whispering of ulterior motives in the background. The cynic may suspect that Dick Cheney's role as the only high-ranking potential member of P-FLAG* in the administration is being exploited to make a big noise in the news while the Republican platform gets written entirely by the rabid "pro-family" retards.
And lo and behold, the draft platform not only calls for the constitutional ban on gay marriage, but turns the knife another 270 degrees by wanting to also put a stop to civil unions, domestic partnership benefits, and any even remotely marriage-esque thing not firmly established between a penis and a vagina.
The Log Cabin Republicans are, of course, pissed. They should be. They all probably thought the religious right would at least let them have the tax breaks as long as they didn't scare all the Jesus-freaks by using the "M-word". Not in this platform, folks. Not in this administration. Not in the Republican Party. In the GOP, you only get to crawl in bed with, and hug, another man if you're an alleged "maverick" and "independent" who needs to keep sucking on the party teat if he wants to keep his job.
I like to think that this platform will shake them up and make them realize what they've been voting for all these years. On the other hand. they're GAY REPUBLICANS. I don't know if even this latest pro-family supernova can make them see the light through the blinders required to actually be a gay Republican. Maybe the party platform deliberately and systematically depriving them of any possible legal rights to form partnerships will do it, but I wouldn't bet my tiny liberal bank account on it.
The Republican Party, as they are fond to say, is a big tent. It has to be. They need plenty of room to keep all the icky homos in one corner. The corner that leaks. Where all the garbage and bugs are. Where there would be a light, but we need all the lights over here for the dramatic reading of "Left Behind" and to make sure all your campaign donation checks are properly endorsed. Yep, this sure is a great time to be gay and Republican!
Assuming they'd even have him, which I'd advise against, if they ever asked me

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stickless Fury

Memo to Minnesotans: THE STATE FAIR IS DUMB.
Put down your torches and pitchforks. Search your feelings. You know this to be true. Your happy little agrarian Lollapalooza is a nightmarish, lumbering self-parody. Go ahead, admit it to yourself. It's not like it'll stop you from going.
The State Fair is like Disney's version of the 50's. Only it's not Disney, it's one of those Disney knockoff companies that puts out a cheap direct-to-video version of whatever story Disney adapted. You know, like when "Aladdin" came out, and then there was suddenly this video of "The Arabian Prince" with suspiciously similar cover art on it, and if you were foolish enough to give in and buy it for your kids, you were treated to 40 minutes of "animation" with about a dozen drawings and one bored guy doing all the voices? It's like that company got hired to build a transient amusement park celebrating White Midwestern Culture Circa 1954. For two weeks. Every year.
If it were actually held somewhere in the state where there are still, you know. ANIMALS, and if it were held in some mythical country where "farmers" weren't an endangered species, then yeah, OK, have your little State Fair and look at cows and shit*. But it ain't. It's held smack-dab in the middle of the Twin Cities Metro, so that aging suburbanites can gawk at cows, stuff their faces, and relive the fun of a simpler time.
Which would be just fucking dandy, except that most of the antiquated "fun" of the State Fair is just stuff we have better versions of now. Crappy rides. Staring at cows. Heads made out of butter. It's much like the difference between playing Ms. Pac Man in 2004, and playing Pole Position in 2004. Bear with me. You know these analogies always pan out in the end.
Playing Ms. Pac-Man in 2004 is fine, because while games in general have improved since Ms. Pac-Man was released, the actual Ms. Pac-Man game hasn't been significantly improved upon. But if you're playing Pole Position in 20004, you've let nostalgia take over your critical faculties, because virtually every single game with a car in it between 1982 and today is better than Pole Position in every way that matters.
Similarly, virtually every activity at the State Fair has been improved upon elsewhere. Rides are larger, faster, and permanent. Crappy carnival games are available all summer long with ample free parking, and can even be played in the wintertime in many area mall arcades. Cows have been segmented, wrapped in plastic, and placed into refrigerated cases for your convenience. And in the Age of Viagra, does anybody REALLY care how big your zucchini is? In addition, many foods have actually been removed from sticks.
Over the next two weeks, "on a stick" is going to be said more times than at the Crucifixion Developers' Conference of 372 B.C. And every time they say it, my blood pressure's going to go up two points. That's the thing they do here. Put stuff on sticks so you can carry it and eat it. Usually fried stuff. They consider it a badge of honor here to find something that has previously gone un-batter-dipped, un-deep-fried, and un-sticked, and correct that grievous error. They can suck my dick on a stick.
You people need to realize something. Between the Minnesota State Fair and Scotland, there are simply no edible products in the history of gastronomy left to deep fry. You've dipped it all in batter. It's done. Pickled eggs. Mars bars. Caviar. If the Chilean soccer team had been Minnesotan, and had crashed in a plane full of eggs, milk, flour, and canola oil, they STILL WOULD HAVE TURNED TO CANNIBALISM. "Well, we've got the makings for batter, but nothing to fry! Hey, Sven! C'mere!" Their lives were saved by Sven. On a stick.
I went to the State Fair once. Now, I've grown up with a fairly sheltered, fairly suburban, fairly middle-class lifestyle. I have spent most of my past 35 years surrounded by Caucasians. And the State Fair was the single whitest experience of my life. It was an albino ocean. Did you know that for the next two weeks, legally, the actual Caucasus region has to be called something else, because the Minnesota State Fair supersedes it? I'm not saying that people with melanin don't attend, or are lynched near the lemonade stand or anything. I'm just saying that either it was a freakish coincidence, or certain subsets of the Minnesota population are more inclined to re-live the 50's than others.
But hey, don't let me ruin your fun. Just don't expect any sympathy from those of us who are earning our coronary infarctions honestly, through heroic quantities of Taco Bell and righteous rage. I ain't goin' out with a batter-dipped stick lodged in my aorta, I'll tell you that.
Feel free to parse this sentence in either of the two potential ways it can be read. Both are equally valid.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Guilt By Association Hits Home

Today on YAD, I need to clear something up.
Remember what I've said about the South? How, if Southerners wish to shake off the Deliverance, Hee-Haw, America's Twangy Halfwit image that they currently have, they need to do something about all the pigfuckers that embarass them on a regular basis?
Well, in the interest of fairness, I must inform you all that as an avid fan of videogames, I can, for the time being, apparently be assumed to love the titties and the porno. Because like the one guy in Mississippi that subscribes to the Utne reader, it really doesn't matter that I personally have what most people would consider an unremarkable, reasonable attitude toward both the titties and the porn. Until the game industry and the fanbase stop being populated by vast numbers of creepy, teat-slavering fanboys with sore wrists and a four-digit annual hand lotion budget, I'm stuck with the stereotype of the subculture.
I watched about ten minutes of this year's "G-phoria", G4TechTV's* annual awards show. Having occurred two years in a row, it now has earned the right to be called "annual", a milestone that seemed iffy at best after watching LAST year's. Anyway, for some reason, video game awards shows are the only ones who will, completely unironically, invite big-name porn stars to present awards, complete with REALLY WEAK innuendo-laced banter.
It's a no-win situation. Awards show presenters are there to speak nice and wear pretty clothes, two things porn stars are, thanks to a self-selection process that borders on the Darwinian, notoriously bad at. So not only do video games strengthen their association with sad wankery, all anybody gets out of it is Jenna Jameson in some awful Goodwill-rack knit dress reading clumsily off a teleprompter. But the crowd cheered her like she was managing to use both the award statue and the teleprompter operator in her professional capacity. You sad bastards.
So you've got the porn stars, and the scantily-clad models at the trade shows, aka "booth babes", and the Japanese body pillows with the game characters on them, and all of a sudden, I'm sorely tempted to join a less creepy, sex-obsessed subculture. But then I realize, I fucking HATE scrapbooking.
Still, the latest news out of game-land has me reaching for my glue-stick, and not in any kind of phallic euphemism, either. Last year, there was this shitty game called "BloodRayne". BloodRayne featured a leather-clad (to the extent that she was clad at all), giant-chested vampire chyck. Who fought Nazis. You can point to your copies of Rez and WarioWare all you want, but one game like BloodRayne hits shelves, and it's back to Creepy Perv Lane for you, Mr. Artsy Gamer. Have some hand lotion.
The game wasn't good at all, but since it starred a half-naked, leather-clad, Nazi-fighting, mammengorgic vampire, it sold enough to warrant a sequel**. And to promote the sequel, BloodRayne will be the first video-game character to appear topless in Playboy. I kid you the fuck not. Topless, computer-generated game character with a Playboy spread. That right there is going to make the stereotype stick like the pages it's printed on, so you might as well get used to it. At least until next E3, when, with any luck, a well-trained "Hands Out Of Your Pants Squad" will lace all the food in and around the convention center with saltpeter, then wander the show floor with Authentic Baby Seal Clubbing Clubs (TM) to deal with the 30% of the gamer population so astonishingly frustrated that to them, saltpeter is like Cialis laced with Ecstacy.
Then maybe we can start rebuilding our image.
* And boy howdy, isn't that the worst possible name for a cable network, ever? I mean, yeah, G4 (bad name) merged with TechTV (still not great), and the best they could manage was to smoosh them together? Seriouisly, they could have changed the name to the Used Tampon Network and it would be an improvement. And probably help their demographics.
** And a movie! Starring Ben Kingsley, who, following the Orson "Transformers" Welles and Raul "Street Fighter" Julia rule, should kick off shortly after filming ends. Kingsley will, disappointingly, not be playing the title character.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Swift Kick In The Ass For Truth

Apparently, it is impossible to tell a lie anymore.
Seriously. Who was the last public figure that was found to have lied? Clinton. Everyone agreed he'd lied. He said something, it wasn't true, people looked at the facts, discovered it wasn't true, told the rest of us, and voila, Clinton. Liar. Perfectly fair. Nobody's lied since.
They tried to say Al Gore lied about stuff, like inventing the Internet, but to make it so that Al Gore lied about inventing the Internet, they had to change what he said he did to "invent the Internet", and change what he did to "had no involvement in the creation of networks that led to the Internet", so that doesn't count.
Nobody lies now. If they say something that is proven to be not true, they are defended as "honestly mistaken", or attacked as "misleading". Anyway, even if the things said are not true, the fact that they were said is, and that's good enough.
Which brings us to the Swift Boat ads, which I really thought had been taken care of by now. I mean, how many times can something be debunked and disproven while still receiving media attention as if it hadn't? The current count, in case you were wondering, was between four and eight, depending on which ones you feel like including. There's "Um, They Actually Weren't On The Boat", there's "They Said Different Stuff In The Past", there's "He Used To Work For Nixon", there's "He Got The Same Medal For Being Shot At, Oops", there's "Kerry-Corroborating Veteran Breaks 35-Year Silence", and then there's the three lengthy articles in three different newspapers (NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post) that cover the whole thing in excruciating detail only to find that it's, you know. Bullshit.
It's like if someone had turned up with photos of Sasquatch, then video of Sasquatch, then found Sasquatch's cave, then Sasquatch appeared on the Today Show for an exclusive interview with Jane Pauley in which he discussed his Sasquatch lifestyle, and then Sasquatch made the cover of People magazine, and then Sasquatch turned up at the Video Music Awards on with Christina Aguilera on his arm, and the whole time, CNN is running stories every fifteen minutes about how the controversy over Sasquatch's existence is continuing to rage across the country. And you wonder why Sasquatch stays hidden? If the woods had Wi-Fi, I'd be right out there with him.
But that's modern media for you. Here on Crossfire to discuss whether oxygen is necessary for human life, we are giving equal time to the entire scientific community on one side, and the founder of Americans Against Oxygen, who is, in what must be a complete coincidence, DEAD. It would be funny if it weren't so sad, and sad if it weren't so funny.
But what really takes the cake is Bush, and the rest of the right's, response to the Swift Boat ads. "Let's get rid of ALL those mean, nasty 527's! They're all the same! Especially the ones that have been propelling the left to new fund-raising heights that almost match ours! Those 527's have to go!". All of a sudden, Republicans are concerned with the integrity of the process now that both sides can charge the same price for their votes. You'd almost think they didn't believe in capitalism.
A more cynical person than I would think that, given the persistent thorns MoveOn and America Coming Together have been in the Bush administration's re-election plans this year, that an obviously fraudulent 527 was set up just to discredit the rest of them. And that the fact that it's actually gaining traction despite repeated debunkings is just a lovely side-effect. But that would border on conspiracy. Paranoid leftie stuff. This would require the kind of planning and forethought that, were it possible, would probably have been applied to, say, IRAQ.
Comparing the Swift Boat ads to the MoveOn ads is, of course, patently ridiculous. The Swift Boat ads make blatantly false acccusations, the MoveOn ads express political viewpoints. Strong ones, yes, but as you may have guessed, I don't really have a problem with strongly-worded political viewpoints. But equating things that aren't equal is, as we've seen in the past, a big thing on the right. As always, it's just stated boldly. They're all 527's, therefore they're all equally corrupt. This is the kind of reasoning that would have led to the complete elimination of all mail delivery back when the phrase "going postal" entered the lexicon. But people fall for it every time. As usual, the right gets to build the playground, and the Democrats are left hanging by their wedgie from the monkey bars.
I wish the Republicans and their 527's WERE running ads like the MoveOn ones. Or like that Will Ferrell one. I think open mockery and name-calling have a place in today's political world. That'd be a whole lot more entertaining than this Short Bus Veterans for Bush crap.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Hearts, Minds, And Balls

Memo to Dubya: HA HA HA HA HA.
It is to laugh, really. Remember back when Dick Cheney uttered the immortal words, "I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." Visions of sugarplum parades danced in the administration's heads. Didn't work out that way, of course, and it seems like every day, as things deteriorate in Iraq and more people die, the whole "greeted as liberators" thing seems more and more absurd.
But as a measure of bungling, as a measure of just how much ol' Dubya has fucked up... well, let's just say it's a good thing Georgie doesn't actually read any news, and instead has people tell him what he "needs" to know. 'Cause otherwise, he might pick up a Sports Illustrated, or check it out online, and learn just how much he sucks.
I mean, how bad at liberating do you have to be before a bunch of guys, directly under the thumb of the brutal and sadistic sonofadictator Uday Hussein before you freed them, tell you to go fuck yourself? That's REALLY bad liberating. That would earn a gold medal in Shitty Liberating, if the '04 games were in the US and we picked it as our demonstration sport. Which we really should, because when it comes to really awful jobs of liberation, the USA has been the global standard-setter for DECADES.
See, the Bush team decided to grab hold of the coattails of one of the more inspiringly-manufactured Olympic success stories, the Iraqi soccer team. Hadn't been in an Olympics since 1988. Tortured by Uday when they underperformed. Now they are free, and winning games, and, if you believe the stump speeches and ads coming from Bush, it's all because Dubya had the strength and the courage to invade Iraq looking for nonexistent WMD and terrorists. If anyone should be thanking Bush for their newfound freedom, it's these Iraqi soccer players. And now, on the global stage, with the world's media watching, they are expressing their gratitude. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself." - midfielder Salih Sadir.
Well, you know. They're big stars now. Maybe they're just mad at being used without due compensation. Wheaties wouldn't dare put them in commercials without paying them, after all, so why should Bush be able to? Oh, wait, there's another quote coming in.
"How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes. I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists? Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq." - midfielder Ahmed Manajid.
Ah, um... OK. Well, these guys are midfielders, and as we all know, MIDFIELDERS HATE FREEDOM. They just sit there, in the middle, going back and forth, not strong on offense, not strong on defense... they're flip-floppers, really. Want to have it both ways. Plus, I heard on Rush that Sadir and Manajid are the first and fourth most liberal soccer players on the team. I'm sure the coach is much more reasonable about the whole thing...
"My problems are not with the American people. They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?" - coach Adnan Hamad. Hamad, by the way, is the replacement for coach Bernd Strange, who quit a few months ago because he DIDN'T WANT TO DIE.
So there you have it, Mr. President. The Iraqi soccer team, that symbol of a liberated Iraq that you take credit for in your folksy way, thinks you're a complete and utter ratfucking bastard. Linguists are going to have to coin entirely new terminology to describe just how much you have fucked this up. Kerry should be running ads RIGHT NOW that say "The Iraqi soccer team wouldn't vote for him. Why should you?" Worst. Liberator. EVER.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Cirque De So Lame

Q: What's the difference between the Republican National Convention and a circus?
A: At the RNC, the big red noses on all the clowns are real.
Oh, and there will probably be considerably fewer unicycles and clown cars. Unicycles, of course, are an alternative form of transportation that doesn't rely on foreign oil, and clown cars... well, when was the last time you saw a Republican car-pool? But in every other sense, the RNC is shaping up to be a big, messy circus. And not some fruity French circus, either. We know how the Republicans hate the French.
THE PROTESTS: The left will be marching on New York in droves, because that's what the Left does. It marches on stuff. The Right, not so much, because the Right knows that one man with a million dollars can effect more change than a million men with one dollar. Plus, the million dollars don't get grumpy when they're locked in a small cage in blatant violation of the Constitution.
The NYC authorities are taking an interesting, unique approach to the protests, offering tourism discounts to protestors on restaurants, hotels, and local attractions. Need to sooth the painful sting of pepper spray and tear gas? Did the jackboots and truncheons leave unsightly marks and swelling on your skin? Well, fear not, you commie anarchist hippie, here's five percent off a trip to a day-spa! Nothing soothes a passle of violated rights like a couple of cucumber slices, a mud bath, and some aromatherapy.
And in and amongst the leftie protestors, there will, of course, be the Republican "Protest Warriors", who we've dealt withpreviously. You know, I can't help but imagine a brick crashing through the window of a Starbucks, a riot cop in full armor turning around, and a Protest Warrior in a suit pointing at a black-clad college student in a Rage Against The Machine t-shirt with one hand while surreptitiously brushing dust off his throwin' hand. I'm not saying this is their plan, or their tactic. I'm just saying it's the first image that popped into my head.
When the Democrats needed a keynote speaker, they selected Barack Obama, a (relatively) young, black, passionate, liberal Democratic candiate for the Senate. Taking their cue from the Democrats, the Republicans have selected for their keynote address an old, racist, redneck, reactionary Democratic retiring senator. Well, one out of six ain't bad.
Yes, it's YAD's favorite senatorial target, Zell Pigfucking Miller. In the role of Surrogate Asshole for Miller, who has yet to be quoted on his selection, we have Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who took precious time away from his own assholery duties to fill in for Miller this morning.
"Senator Miller's support is indicative of the broad support the Republican Party has earned under President Bush's compassionate conservative leadership as Americans reject the 'out of the mainstream' direction of John Kerry's Democratic Party." - Ed Gillespie
Ed Gillespie's statement is indicative of the broad harm that Botox has had on democracy. Bear with me. Thanks to the neuroparalysis effects of the botulism toxin, someone like Ed Gillespie can sit there and suggest that an unrepentant, racist, Dixiecrat, torture-apologist who only clings to his party affiliation out of tradition is a symbol of Dubya's bipartisan mainstream support, and can do so with a STRAIGHT FACE. In the days before Botox, Gillespie would be smirking by "broad", chortling by "earned", barely able to even pronounce "conservative" amidst the gales of laughter that would have followed "compassionate", and would have actually pissed himself at "mainstream".
The only way Zell Miller couldn't be "mainstream" is with either a time machine or a brain implant. You know it. I know it. Zell Miller would know it if he'd take his dick out of a pig long enough to give it some thought. Ed Gillespie certainly knows it. And every single news anchor who reports on this story and runs Gillespie's quote unchallenged knows it too. But thanks to the wonders of Botox, none of them will ever let it show.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A search party has been formed, and is currently searching nearby ditches and creeks in the hopes of finding the Circus Metaphor alive. However, authorities caution that once a metaphor has been gone for more than eight paragraphs, if it turns up at all, it will likely be as a bloated corpse floating face-down on a lake. We at You Are Dumb Dot Net will stay on top of this story as it develops.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Osama Bin Godden

And now, another exciting episode of "ALAN KEYES, BATSHIT-CRAZY DOOFUS".
I swear, if Alan Keyes didn't exist, I would have to invent him. Every time he opens his mouth, something both wondrous and terrifying comes out. And the best part is, the GOP can't disown him or minimize him the way they can a Falwell or a Robertson, because Keyes is one of the few black allies they have. So they gotta use him, like they're using him now in the Illinois Senate race.
Even though he thinks God speaks to us by ramming planes into buildings. For Keyes, it's obviously time to adjust his dosage, but here at YAD, it's even more obviously ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!"
"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on Sept. 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow. I think that's a way of Providence telling us, 'I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?'"
At least when Falwell blamed 9/11 on the feminists, gays, and abortionists, he had the common decency to do it on the 700 Club, where that kind of thing is only seven to eight percent beyond the pale. Keyes, on the other hand, is angling to be one of 100 people who sort of kind of try to help run things in our wonderfully representative democracy, so perhaps saying shit like this is a bad idea.
What cracks me up the most about this is that the ultra-right, anti-choice, blastula-suffragites won't have a problem with this, even though, in essence, Alan Keyes just called Almighty God a terrorist. Because what is a terrorist? A terrorist is an individual who commits acts of violence against innocent people in order to make a political statement. It seems to me that arranging for the death of 3,000 people in order to send America a special political message about how awful abortion is fits that definition quite nicely. Hell, Keyes is accidentally better at identifying terrorists than John Ashcroft is. Ashcroft's busy chasing software pirates and hackers and porn peddlers and calling 'em "terrorists", when according to Keyes, the biggest terrorist of all is the Big Guy Upstairs.
If I were Ashcroft, I'd jump all over that. After all, Osama Bin Laden's only in one place, and we can't even figure out what place that is. God, on the other hand, is EVERYWHERE, or so I'm told. Makes him easier to find, albeit tougher to capture. At least you don't have to send him to Guantanamo Bay, since he's already there.
As a result of being completely fucking insane, Alan Keyes is having a difficult time being elected to the Senate. Luckily, Keyes is a crafty planner who is never without a backup strategy.
"The balance is utterly destroyed when the senators are directly elected because the state government as such no longer plays any role in the deliberations at the federal level." What Keyes wants to do is repeal the 17th Amendment, which basically arranged things so that senators would be elected. Before that, senators were chosen by the state government. It is, to be fair, a brilliant strategy for someone who can only get 33% of the people to even remotely consider voting for him.
I mean, the fact that Keyes is even RUNNING shows that politicians favor party affiliation over, oh, not being a complete fucking wack-job. Ergo, once those pesky voters are eliminated from the equation, a Republican state government would thus be given the choice between an intelligent, sane liberal like Barack Obama, and the GOP's own "Mad Dog Murdoch", Alan Keyes. And someone's chances of a cushy Washington office job would suddenly improve dramatically.
Alan Keyes, ladies and gentlemen. The only man in America who thinks the voting public isn't doing a crappy ENOUGH job of sending psychotic, ideological, fanatic idiots to the Congress. And that's just DUMB.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

But "Glaring Angrily Matilda" Doesn't Scan!

Memo to Hollywood: WHY DO YOU HATE US?
Actually, that's a stupid question. They hate us because we are so very hatable. We earn Hollywood's hate every time we go see "Alien Vs. Predator" or "White Chicks". Every time we engage in any interaction anywhere at any time with anyone who fancies himself to be a "Blue Collar Comic". When we do these things, it's like we put hate in the bank, and eventually we are then handed back that hate with interest by a cold, unfeeling entertainment industry who wants nothing more than to destroy our very souls and have us pay them for the privilege.
And I'm fine with that. Up to a point. But there is a point beyond which Hollywood's inhumanity to man exceeds even a very judicious application of karmic payback. A point beyond which audience abuse ceases to be a fun little game we all can enjoy, you know, like cockfighting, and becomes a horrible ritual of gratuitous pain and suffering. You know, like if there were a version of cockfighting where instead of chickens, there were cute puppies, and instead of fighting, there were large men with iron mallets playing Amish Whackamole*.
That level of abject cruelty can be summed up in a single, informative sentence, taken from a leading DVD news site regarding upcoming Warner Bros. releases. If you have a weak stomach or a mild constitution, you may want to skip this, as it is horrific beyond belief.
"And finally, look for the direct-to-video animated Kangaroo Jack: G'Day USA! on November 16th. This disc features both 16x9 and fullscreen transfers and unannounced extras. Retail is $24.98." This is the kind of sentence that should be engraved in some runic script of a forgotten tongue on the side of a rock in the middle of a barren wasteland where the natives dare not go. It should not be lying around on otherwise respectable Internet where people can read it by accident.
It's the sentence equivalent of a Shit Pyramid, one of the nine wonders of a world gone horribly wrong. At the base of the shit pyramid is, of course, the central concept, "Kangaroo Jack". Kangaroo Jack is the "Play It Again, Sam" of ubercrappy wacky comedies, in that everyone is convinced it is an ubercrappy wacky comedy about a talking kangaroo, when in fact the kangaroo talking is only part of some fantasy sequence midfilm. So while it is a film about a kangaroo that talks, it is not a film about a talking kangaroo. You would think this level of semantic nitpickery would be above a film like "Kangaroo Jack", but we have to retain our dwindling sanity somehow.
Then, one level up, we have those dreaded words, "direct-to-video", which, along with the implied "sequel", are four words that have never helped anybody ever. On top of that, we have "animated". So not only are they making a sequel, and not only are they not bothering to put it into theaters, but they're not even bothering to hire actors and special effects artists. They'll just have a bunch of Koreans drawing kangaroos for fifty cents an hour. And what's worse, an animated sequel opens the doors to "Kangaroo Jack: The Series", and the resulting mass suicides and general hysteria that would follow.
Moving up the Shit Pyramid, we come to "G'Day USA!". Now first of all, I am still not convinced that Australians actually ever said "G'Day" to each other on a regular basis. But even assuming they did, I can only imagine they'd have collectively decided to stop doing it a minimum of fifteen years ago out of sheer annoyance. In fact, if I were Australian, I'd constantly be making up ridiculous shit to say on the off chance an American would hear me and use it in the title of their shitty Australia movie. And second, "USA". Is there some kind of federal mandate that Australians who get sequels have to come to the U.S.? Some kind of Paul Hogan NAFTA thing? After all, I'm pretty sure that at this point, thanks to global telecommunications networks and the advance of civilization, that most Australians are well aware of what "cars" and "McDonalds" are, so the whole "culture shock" thing can be buried for good, thanks.
"Kangaroo Jack: G'Day USA!" will be provided in both widescreen and fullscreen aspect ratios. This is, of course, so that people purchasing "Kangaroo Jack: G'Day USA!" have the widest possible freedom of choice when it comes to audiovisual presentation, and those who wish are able to see the full vision of the director as he intended it.
Oh, and it lists for twenty five bucks, which is just insulting. It's insulting even when you consider that with a list of $25, it'll sell for $20 nearly everywhere ($27.95 at Suncoast), be on sale for $15 its first week of release, and then be stacked like cordwood on the $4.99 rack at Target by mid-January. Twenty five bucks for a direct-to-video ,animated, full-frame DVD Kangaroo Jack culture shock fish out of water sequel. That's our entertainment industry, never passing up the chance to redefine "unmitigated gall".
*The use of the phrase "Amish Whackamole" is merely intended to imply that traditional Whackamole requires electricity, and in the absence of such, an alternative means of playing it would have to be found. It is not meant to imply that the Amish pound puppies** with iron mallets for sport. That's just the way they make butter.
**That's a verb, as opposed to "Amish Pound Puppies" the noun, which would refer to the least successful new toy line of 1987.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Spice Of Life Tastes Like Ass

Memo to the Star Tribune Variety Section: HOO-BOY, DUMBER THAN USUAL.
I don't have high expectations for any paper's "variety" section. It's like the Special Olympics of the newspaper. If they fill the news hole at all by the time they go to print, they get a hug and a cookie. But man, today's edition probably shouldn't have gotten the cookie.
But first, let me take a moment to awkwardly segue from the paper's Variety coverage to their Non-Special Regular Olympics coverage. So the U.S. basketball team loses a meaningless match to Puerto Rico that doesn't keep it out of any medal contention, plus this one runner who had a chance at 8 medals now has a chance at 7. Does this really justify, in 96-point bold headline, "DAY OF DEFEAT"? Isn't every day at the Olympics a day of defeat? I was watching one of them swimming races, and I could have sworn that of the eight guys swimming, SEVEN of them got defeated. That's a whole lot of defeat.
But anyway, the Variety section. Right off the bat, you're in trouble. The front page article - how to talk to your children about... politics. It gives handy advice like "Don't rant..." and "Help them get the facts," and "Don't demonize the other side." Which is great, if the article were "Talk To Your Kids About Government". But this is Politics. And politics is all about ranting, ignoring facts, and demonizing the other side. Teaching your kids about respectful discourse, respecting other points of view, and such is commendable, but at some point, you're going to have to stop putting quarters under their pillow.
It doesn't help that the article's author implies she had to use the Web to find the answer to "Mommy, what's a republic?". Way to inspire confidence in the readership right there.
On page two, right below some old fart bitching about new-fangled begadgetry, there's Heloise. I don't know if this is the same Heloise or a new Heloise, but today's useful hint is that wire baskets can be used to hold loose change. Tune in tomorrow, when Heloise recommends that a couple taking a trip to the desert that they don't need to buy an expensive "canteen" if they happen to have a spare colander in their kitchen. Nobody will read it, of course, because they can't buy a paper, because all their dimes are trapped in, amongst, and between the metal bits of a wire basket.
Just below that, we have an Ominous Portent of Doom. The Strib wants to hear your compelling stories about how your life changed after September 11, 2001. You know, I know we were all touched by that tragic day blah blah cue mournful music and soft-focus flag bullshit blah, but come on. It's Minnesota, and it's three years later. If anyone in Minnesota is still blathering on about their momentous life change caused by two buildings falling down, they do not deserve press coverage. From the timing, I bet this is going to appear on the third anniversary maudlin-fest, too. Hooray.
"Dear Abby" is harmless today, but I'd just like to state for the record that the new Dear Abby looks like the love child of Elvis and The Joker. Thank you. I'll be here all week. I'm here every week. There is no veal to try, I'm afraid, nor wait-staff to tip.
But it's the last page that really takes the cake. Entitled "Budget Living", it's full of the worst ways to "save money" in the history of the planet. Like a pair of $18 earrings shaped like cherries.To help you retain that summer feeling. No, I don't fucking get it either. Do cherry-shaped earrings usually retail for -more- than $18? If you're on a tight budget, maybe you should spend the $18 on REAL cherries. Plus, they're from a website, so I bet that $18 doesn't include shipping. Maybe it just seems like "budget living" compared to their other suggested purchase, the $300 plastic chair shaped like a pair of lips.
The main feature in Budget Living is... BACKYARD CAMPING. OK, that's fine. I get that. But first, they suggest starting a campfire in your own backyard. Yes, nothing makes the neighbors more calm and relaxed than a rising plume of smoke from the other side of the chain-link fence. And once you've got the roaring fire going, what better way to enjoy the evening than to... drag your TV and DVD player into the backyard with extension cords to simulate a drive-in movie!
It's just like being in your living room, only you're... outside, and bugs crawling in your DVD player, and smoke from your runaway backyard campfire is turning your TV into a surprisingly flavorful mesquite treat, and hey, was that thunder?
But let's assume, for the moment, that nothing will go horribly wrong when you drag your television into your backyard. What does the Strib recommend you watch? Teen classics! Meatballs! Little Darlings! Wet Hot American Summer!* WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER?! "Mommy, what are the two naked men doing in the tool shed?" "Um.., they're doing... exercises, honey." It's like some kind of elaborate practical joke played on the community by the staff writers. You can introduce your children to the wonders of anal sex**, right before lightning strikes your television and your house burns down. All while wearing your cherry earrings. Now THAT'S a Wet, Hot, Budget American Summer.
* This is the only disadvantage to YAD not being some kind of Flash-based multimedia cartoon. The column desperately needs that "needle being dragged suddenly across the record" sound right here, but all I can do is add this footnote.
*In retrospect, I probably should have considered rewriting this sentence to make it clear I mean via the scene in the movie where the two guys are screwing.

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Treatise On The Nature Of Inevitability

Some things are inevitable.
Even before I started chronicling the annals of stupidity on this very site, I knew that. The sun rises, the sun sets. People age, people die. The tides rise and fall. And certain sets of stimuli will always prompt the same fucking response when applied to enough stupid people.
It's been colder than usual for the past week here in Minneapolis. Weather in the 60's. In August. It's a bit outside the norm, yeah. Doesn't bother me, of course, because, well, I fucking understand thermodynamics. It's a hell of a lot easier to generate needed heat than to pump away the excess, so if I've got a choice between sixty degrees and putting on a jacket, or 95 degrees and cranking a half-assed wall air conditioner, well, you can guess what I'll pick every time.
Except for the thing. The thing that they always say when it's cold. The inevitable thing. You dread it. You fear it. You almost want it to happen just so it'll be over with. But you always hold out hope that if you just keep to yourself, try not to pay attention to conversations on the bus, or in your office, that this time, you'll make it through. This time, you won't hear it.
And then some fuckwad the third in Chaska thinks he's so incredibly fucking clever for coming up with it that he sends it to the newspaper. And the newspaper editor, in an inexcusable deriliction of duty, runs it in the letters section. What is that editor thinking? None of us will ever know, but I hope and pray that he was huffing paint thinner beforehand, because impairment, while not an EXCUSE, mind, would at least provide a valid explanation for why it saw print.
So, to that nameless newspaper editor, and more importantly, to Robert R. Fafinsky III of Chaska, MN, I hereby bestow a hearty You Are Dumb Dot Net "Fuck You, And Your Mama Too" award for being the first person during this cold snap to make the goddamn global warming "joke" in my presence.
Since you all know what I'm talking about, I reproduce his version of it merely for cataloging and in-depth classification purposes. This is an allowed scientific use of ACTUAL QUOTE TIME, as authorized under subsection 2-C.
"It is the middle of August, and I am shaking out of fear of global warming. Wait a minute, I am actually just shivering due to the recent record low temperatures in the region." Har de har har. It is, as they say, JUST LIKE COMEDY. Note the way he led us down one path, and then, partway through, switched it up! You thought, O foolish reader, that you would be reading a liberal environmentalist screed the likes of which the local newspaper often prints in its pages, but I, Robert R. Fafinsky THE THIRD, have pulled the wool over your eyes with my jape!
After all, if's called Global WARMING, not Global Making It Cooler Than Usual During August, right! You utter dipshit. I mean, it's bad enough that you have to flaunt your complete misunderstanding of climate change and the whole issue, but that's nothing compared to the disservice you've shown to Sweet Mother Comedy. Comedy is not some fifty cent whore you can use, quickly, embarrassingly, and inadequately, and then toss aside when you're done with it. But that's just what your weak-ass joke has done. You've shamed Comedy. You owe Comedy a formal apology. If Comedy had a glove, it'd slap you across the face with it and challenge you to punchlines at dawn. And you'd lose, because, and I'm not sure if you've figured this out yet, but you're not fucking funny.
Let this be a lesson to you all. The next time you think, even briefly, about making any variation on the Global Warming joke thanks to some local climatic event, think of Robert R. Fafinski THE THIRD. Learn from his mistake. Halt your tongue, or, failing that, at least have the common decency to put a bit of an ironic, "I know what I'm saying is a shitty joke" lilt into it. Treat Comedy with due respect, and she will pay your blessings back tenfold.
Take it from one who knows.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Clang Clang Whoops Too Late

Man, I sure hope Dubya isn't a robot.
Follow me here. You know how, in all the movies and TV and whatnot, when a robot starts to malfunction? It starts making small mistakes, then it makes bigger and bigger ones, then it starts shouting incoherent nonsense, then it sparks, and then it explodes? Usually 'cause Kirk told it that up was down or some other bullshit?
Man, I sure hope Dubya isn't a robot.
'Cause first there was that whole harming America thing, which we touched on last Friday. I mean, even for Bush, that was a pretty significant fuckup, mostly because he didn't pause, he didn't stammer, he didn't appear to say something he didn't mean to, he just appeared to have an obviously badly-written speech prepared.
Then, he started talking about maybe "abolishing the IRS", and replacing income taxes with some regressive, flat-tax, national sales tax delusion, which is the kind of campaign rhetoric that is usually reserved for the LaRouches, the Perots, the Keyeses... you know. Only the completely bat-shit crazy candidates run on a "flat tax". If Dubya were a robot, I'd suspect deterioration of the logic centers.
And then, after that, he started telling people in speeches that we can't raise taxes on the wealthy, because they just find ways to get out of it anyway. Which makes no sense, because if all those ultra-rich people weren't paying any taxes anyway, why were they giving thousands and thousands of dollars to get Bush elected so he could (and did) CUT THEIR TAXES? Fuckers are probably getting refunds on their zero taxes paid and due. Either that, or, again, Dubya is a robot and is quickly spiraling into a feedback loop of sparking and smoke and exploding and shrapnel and carnage everywhere.
Now, all of these things could be explained by Dubya being an idiot, a desperate Republican flagging in the polls, and a complete asshole respectively. So I'm afraid Ockham's Razor slices through the robot theory like a knife through warm bullshit. But if you take Bush's most recent TV ad into account, the robot theory engages some kind of diagnostic self-repair routine and comes roaring back for a second look. Yes, the metaphor is a smidge on the shaky side, but bear with me. Here's the text of the ad, with commentary.
"I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message."
Now, I know this is required by the new campaign laws, and I support it in principle, but assuming the message is delivered either by a rapidly deteriorating psychotic robot OR a retarded, desperate asshole, the fact that he approves of his own ravings is of little comfort in this cold, cold world.
"My most solemn duty is to lead our nation to protect ourselves."
Fair enough, although really, his job is more to lead some of the people, the trained ones with the guns, to protect the rest of the people, the untrained ones with or without guns. As far as the "protecting myself" part goes, I think I'll try and manage that one on my own, 'cause if someone hits me in the face, odds are, I won't kick the guy four seats over in the groin.
"I can't imagine the great agony of a mom or a dad having to make the decision about which child to pick up first on September the 11th."
Oh, I know, I myself have often wondered.... WHAT THE FUCK?! What dilemma is this? Who faced that agony? The World Trade Center was not a day care facility. It was not some kind of forty-story Montessori school. This makes no sense. All the news stories about this ad, by the way, merely quote this sentence without explaining what the FUCK our "leader" is talking about here. Which means either it's obvious, or they don't understand it either, and don't want to admit it. I know where I'm placing my bet. Which child to pick up first? How about whichever one gets out first? Or whichever one is closest? Or whichever one isn't on the way to the store? What agony, George?
This oughta be the first question in all three presidential debates. The first words out of the moderator's mouth after "Let's begin" need to be "Mr. President, in that ad... the one with the picking up the children and the agony? Do you have any idea what you meant by that? Because we've been trying to puzzle it out for a month or so now, and frankly, we're stumped." Is it too much to ask for a President that, in a scripted, rehearsed, filmed, and edited television appearance, does not spout complete incomprehensible nonsense? Yes, it apparently is.
There's another sentence of bullshit after that, but this is the point at which the Exploding Robot Theory really kicks into high. Those of you with Lexis/Nexis access may want to start keeping an eye out for occurrences of phrases like "DANGER", "ILLOGICAL", "DOES NOT COMPUTE", or "KILL ALL HUMANS" cropping up at campaign stops. Just saying.
Either that, or Bush has hired Halle Berry as his new speechwriter.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I Hardly Knower!

It's funny how these weird, sudden obsessions spring up. I mean, three years ago, "scrapbooking" was four middle-aged suburban women sharing a gluestick, and now there's an entire billion-dollar industry devoted to ugly-ass teddy-bear frames being stuck around a Polaroid of some grandson asleep on a couch. I have a number of vague, unformed theories about why scrapbooking is actually a Satanic ritual, but they'll have to wait for another day, because today, we're talking about poker. Specifically, Texas Hold 'Em.
Now, I admit, I have mellowed from my original position on televised poker, which was "Who the FUCK would want to watch POKER on TELEVISION". My position is now the much more refined "Who the FUCK would want to watch THIS fucking MUCH fucking POKER on TELEVISION." As you can see, wisdom develops over time. As do poker shows on basic cable.
But where wisdom accrues slowly, like the buildup of wax in the ear, basic-cable poker multiplies like ebola*. In the next two weeks**, if you wished, you could watch televised poker matches one hundred and thirty two times. That means that if you turn on the TV, and can't find a poker match, WAIT AN HOUR. That's too much poker.
There's Celebrity Poker Showdown, whose fault this all arguably is. Celebrity Poker Showdown is not without its charms, but would be much more interesting if I were in charge. First, celebrities would be betting their own money. And second, the amounts risked and betted would be weighted by the stars' individual successes. So when, say, Gabe Kaplan lucks out on the river, getting his straight flush draw, he takes Ben Affleck for more than a bit of charity chump change. Put some danger into the game. Some drama. I want to see sitcom stars and celebrity chefs at each other's fucking throats, don't you?
That's another thing. I should not be able to throw out phrases like "river" and "straight flush draw". And neither should you. But we can, because the poker in inescapable. We're channel-surfing, and before we can even say "Hey, is that David Cross in a bathrobe?" we've absorbed half-a-dozen bits of vocabulary that we otherwise would have to pawn our kidneys in Vegas to have learned.
But if the allure of famous people just distracts you from the intricacies of the Card Game of Kings Du Jour, don't fret. There's the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour, Championship Poker at the Plaza, the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, reruns of the World Series of Poker from ten years ago, and even the Strip Poker Invitational, which I'm sure uses a fairly unique variant on "Hold 'Em".
Coming soon are the Superstars of World Poker Tournament Invitational, the Showdown Poker World Challenge, and a very special episode of Veggietales in which Jimmy the Apostate Radish bluffs on a six-two off-suit, loses all his money, curses God from a cardboard box in an alley, and eventually ends up selling himself on the street for ten bucks a tossed salad.
You know who I feel worst for? (Well, besides the whoring radish, of course.) The poor, overworked poker players. With all the touring and invitationaling and championships, I bet they never even get home to see their families anymore. Plus, I can only imagine what this fearsome schedule is doing to their unlit cigar and funny little hat budgets. Not to mention the harried souls at the International Poker Nickname Registry, who are forced to tell people at least thirty times a day that "Moneybags" is taken, as is "Bling" and "The Hammer", and perhaps they could settle for "Fishtank", "Germanium", or "Peel-N-Eat".
Of course, if you're sick of watching poker on TV and have digital cable, you can always watch Celebrity Blackjack! Yes, if all that pesky strategy of poker gets on your nerves, and you just want to sit and watch semi-famous people be handed random cards until one of them cheers, presumably having won, then Celebrity Blackjack is for you. Make sure to catch it before the FTC forces them to put quotes around "celebrity". I mean, the only Baldwin they could get was Billy, and I'm pretty sure the charity Kevin Nealon is playing for is the Kevin Nealon Is Really Really Hungry Foundation.
Normally, a sentence like this would end with a situation where ebola would thrive even more virulently than it normally does. But I think ebola pretty much just has the one level of near-instantaneous horrible bleeding death.
** Why, yes, I used online television listings in the course of writing this article, why do you ask?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Racists and Psychos and Bears, Oh My!

Memo to Desperate Republicans: YOU ARE DUMB.
Seriously. When it comes to finding a candidate, Republicans are like overconfident high school seniors who don't bother applying to a "safety college". And then when a meteor strikes the one university they DID get admitted to, they're forced to head off to Devry, or order correspondence courses from Sally Struthers, or go to one of those "accredited medical universities" in the Caribbean.
Let's move to Tennessee, where tongues are drawn to windowsills like magnets to steel. Every two years, in the 8th District, a racist douchebag named James L. Hart runs for Congress. He believes in "eugenics", a.k.a. the breeding of Aryan super-men like Khan. That thing ol' Adolf was a big fan of. Anyway, things were going along as usual in Tennessee. The sun rose every day, the cows got milked, the pigs got fucked, and all of a sudden, the Republicans realized, to their dismay, that they hadn't managed to run any other Republicans for the 8th District! Oh, no!
A failed scramble later, and all of a sudden, the Republican Party is being represented by a man who claims that non-whites should be sterilized, and that their "poverty genes" will turn America into Detroit. Of course, the Republicans are adamant that they don't share Hart's values, and I'm sure most of them don't. Yet despite that, Hart's runs every year as a Republican, not a member of the Eugenics Party or some other fringe group he made up himself. It's almost as if, especially in the barely-Reconstructed South, the GOP has spent the last 40 years courting the racist vote through thinly-veiled campaigning on issues like "states' rights". But that's just crazy talk.
And speaking of crazy talk, let's turn our gaze to Illinois. Illinois Republicans face the dubious task of challenging Barack Obama for a U.S. Senate seat. Obama is that rarest of Democrats. He sounds like he believes what he's saying. After his DNC speech, I spent 42.6 seconds in complete cynicism remission, which is a personal record. To oppose Obama, the GOP has considered:
  • A horny, sex-club-frequenting Borgfucker
  • A short-tempered celebrity football coach
  • A couple of former governors
  • A crazy right-wing failed presidential candidate from another state with financial liabilities and embarrasing hypocritical past statements who also happens to be black like Obama.
Guess who they went for? Alan Keyes, who vowed he would never "imitate" Hillary Clinton by running for senator in a state he didn't live in! Hooray for the process! Lest people be overly concerned with the embarrassing thing he said a coupla years ago, Keyes got right to work saying even more embarrassing things. I believe it's a Special Carpetbagging Edition of ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"I would still be picking cotton if the country's moral principles had not been shaped by the Declaration of Independence." I mean, sure, I remember learning in school about how the Declaration of Independence ended slavery, but I also remember my teacher going to a locker every five minutes to take a swing out of a bottle. At the time, I just thought he was very, very thirsty.
Keyes is also rabidly anti-gay, rejecting the idea that sexual preference is not a choice. "We as human beings cannot assert that our sexual desires cannot be controlled. [That would] consign us to the real of instinctual animal nature-- and we are not there." I love the conservatives who think gay people are A-OK in their book... as long as they stay celibate and alone. Hooray for compassionate conservatism!
Which is ironic, because when it comes to candidates, Republicans are less discriminate than even the sluttiest gay man. As we've seen, the GOP'll grab any ol' asshole that passes by for a shot at finishing the race on top.