Friday, October 29, 2004

Spastic Topic Monkey Goes To Washington Friday

The Topic Monkey got into the Halloween candy last night, which wouldn't have been so bad, but the Halloween Candy was chocolate-covered espresso beans sprinkled with a fairy-dusting of crystal meth. Gets the little bastards to the next house really fast.
Memo to everyone, what with Halloween actually upon us. DON'T DRESS UP YOUR PETS. They're ANIMALS. They don't know shit about Halloween. They want to be fed, they want to have a place to take a whizz, they want their heads petted, maybe chase something. They don't know what a fairy princess is, or why they look like one, or what that crap is on their head, or why you're laughing.
If you want to make your pet look ridiculous, that's why God made Photoshop.

And speaking of shitty costumes... "Azzam The American"? AZZAM THE AMERICAN? If you don't know, ABC and FOX have been running an as-yet unauthenticated tape that appears to be the Star Wars Kid from the Internet with a Pizza Hut tablecloth on his head, saying he's an American Al Qaeda operative, that we're all gonna die, and mentioning, among other things, Bill Maher, the Massachussets gay marriage ruling, the 9/11 commission, and the "defiling of our lovely falafel by that O'Reilly infidel". I may have made that last one up.
The CIA, while not authenticating the tape, said it bore "all the hallmarks" of an Al Qaeda production, including "being on videotape", "Arabic letters on the screen", and "guy in a headdress threatening America and saying he was from Al Qaeda". Come on, people. Pretty soon, Azzam The American will be what parents use to scare their kids. "If you're not good, Azzam the American will come to your bedroom and your sheets will run red with blood!"

And speaking of our favorite falafel fetishist, O'Reilly The Superfreak settled out of court with Andrea Mackris. I'm both pleased and disappointed. Disappointed because, under the terms of the settlement, we'll never get to hear the tapes we all know she had, plus the settlement includes both parties agreeing that "no wrongdoing" took place, so O'Reilly can fall back on that for the rest of his life. But I'm pleased, because the man who said "I'm going to take a stand. I'm a big mouth on the air and I'm a big mouth off the air." a few weeks ago is now saying "I will never speak of it again." Which, when translated into English, means "I did it, she had tapes, I paid her off."
By avoiding a messy court battle, O'Reilly knows that his story will soon be forgotten. He should know, he's on the front lines of determining which stories stick and which ones get forgotten. In the interests of comedy, however, I urge all my readers to mention the whole falafel thing any time Bill O'Reily comes up in conversation from now on. It's the least we can do for a man who's given us so much.

And speaking of "the least one can do", George W. Bush has now described John Kerry as "the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time". It's meant to be a play on Kerry's Iraq war statements, but the more I look at it, the less I'm able to parse it. Is Bush saying the Presidency is the "wrong job"? And how can he say it's the "wrong time"? November is when we have these things, George. Every four years.
It's a triple negative, which means it's still negative, but if you discount the "wrong job" part for making no fucking sense, then it's a DOUBLE negative, which makes it a positive, but then you have to discount the "wrong time" part for not making a lot of fucking sense, and then it's a single negative, but then you have to discount Bush entirely for being El Fucktardo Primero, so you're back to square one. The grammar of the politics of the rhetoric of politics can be oh so very confusing.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's Not Bad, It's Worse

National politics got you down? Then whatever you do, for fuck's sake, do NOT look at the local races. Becuase THEY ARE DUMB.
I have never in my life wished for another man to fuck a pig and get caught more than I do right now. Except that if he did, if there was some Austin Gullette protege out there, he wouldn't make the news unless he was running for Congress. And even then, they'd get confused over the term "pork-barrel". The news is 80% politics, 20% Iraq, with a 15 percent overlap of Iraq/Politics. If Ashlee Simpson had appeared on SNL three weeks from now, her story wouldn't have petered out in less than a week. Thank goodness for small favors.
Anyway, they say that all politics are local. And I say that all politics are fucking stupid. By applying the Fucking Stupid Commutative Principle, then, we find that all local politics are fucking stupid. But now we need evidence to back up our theory. Can we discover any? Let's find out together.
ILLINOIS: You've heard of Illinois. That's where Barack Obama is giving Alan Keyes the kind of man-spanking Keyes professes to hate, but secretly loves. Only it's in the polls. But you may be surprised to know that there are other politicians in Illinois, some of them potentially almost as dumb as Keyes.
Jerry Weller, a Republican congressman from Illinois, is being challenged by Tari Renner, head of the poli-sci department at Illinois Wesleyan U. Weller, like some high school jock filled with roid rage, apparently feels the need to refer to his opponent as "the professor" at every opportunity, although there is no evidence as yet that Weller's campaign literature features crudely-drawn caricatures of Renner in a cap, gown, and big glasses. Weller, who is engaged to marry the daughter of a genocidal Guatemalan ex-dictator after the election, also is telling people that because some fringe anti-drug-war website "endorsed" Renner, that Renner is PRO-HEROIN. That entire preceding sentence is 100% true, especially the part about the dictator's daughter. I know. Even as I typed it, I thought to myself, "Damn, I'm making up some funny shit... wait, this is the TRUE part!"
KENTUCKY: Still, that's nothing compared to Kentucky, where Senator Jim Bunning is suddenly fighting for his career after going what many independent observers are calling COMPLETELY FUCKING NUTSO. He accused Democrats of beating his wife. He repeatedly changed the rules of his one debate with his opponent Daniel Mongiardo, performing his half of the debate on video from Washington, D.C., in an RNC studio, with no independent observers present. And he STILL got caught breaking the rules by using a teleprompter.
Faced with trouble, Bunning's camp did what any self-respecting Kentucky Republican would do. Called his opponent a queer little faggot who likes to fuck other men in the ass. Not in so many words, of course. This is Kentucky 2004, not Kentucky 1992! They've moved out of the Dark Ages, people. No, instead, David Williams, president of the state senate, made the point with subtlety and class. It's ACTUAL HOMOPHOBE-BAITING QUOTE TIME!
"What a shame it would be if we traded the strong left hand of Jim Bunning -- the punch that he has -- for the limp wrist of Mongiardo. [Bunning is] fully capable of still throwing that hard pitch from the mound. And his opponent is a switch-hitter who doesn't know if he's on the left or the right."
See? It's a baseball metaphor! 'Cause Bunning used to play major-league baseball, which is 100% straight and American. Williams, of course, denied that his statement was meant in a sexual way, and to give him the benefit of the doubt, allow me to list all the various connotations and meanings the term "limp wrist" has that do not apply to homosexual slurs.
There, I'm done.
MINNESOTA: And how much more local can you get than my own back yard? In our own Sixth District, just a ways north of me, Republican Mark Kennedy is staving off a challenge from Patty Wetterling, who rose to prominence after her son was abducted in 1989. Kennedy, who is apparently a bit of a complete asshole, started running ads that accused Wetterling of having "latched on to radical extremist groups".
My heavens! Did she visit a Hezbollah training camp? Join PETA? Was she, in fact, an Al Qaeda deep-cover mole, and her so-called "abducted son" was actually a DIRTY BOMB? No. "Latched on to radical extremist groups", translated from Asshole Politician into English, comes out as "Received support and money from MOVEON.ORG". Folks, if MoveOn is a radical extremist group, then Habitat for Humanity is the Symbionese Liberation Army.
So, over the next five days, as you look at the presidential election and despair at the state of politics, take heart in the knowledge that it gets much, much worse the farther you move down the ticket.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Getting The Most Out Of Old Household Tools

Memo to George W. Bush, the entire Justice Department, Ed Gillespie, and Kimberly Parmer: FUCK YOU IN THE EAR-HOLE WITH A RUSTY AWL.
I know that sounds harsh now, but trust me, I have my reasons. And here these reasons are, in the very words of the potential earholefuckees themselves:
"My opponent has no plan, no vision, just a long list of complaints. But a Monday morning quarterback has never led any team to victory." - George W. Bush. Fuck you in the ear-hole with a rusty awl*. Happening to mention that you've fucked up is not Monday morning quarterbacking. War is not a sport. Three hundred and seventy tons of explosives is not the ball between Bill Buckner's legs. People like John Kerry HAVE to keep pointing out that you've fucked up, because you keep fucking up, and you won't admit it.
Plus, you imbecile, you only "Monday Morning Quarterback" the LOSERS from Sunday. There'd be no second guessing if the people in charge had gotten their first guess right. Perhaps, someday, you will know what a job done properly looks like, so that you will be able to recognize it and distinguish it from everything else you've ever done ever, but until then, just trust me. And try not to hand over any more huge quantities of explosives to our enemies between now and January 20, OK?
"Many Democrats in this country do not recognise their party anymore. Today, I want to speak to every one of them: if you believe that America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence in our ideals, I would be honoured to have your support." - Mr. President, you have two ears. I would explain to you that the reason Democrats don't recognize their own party anymore is because all the Democrats are TRYING TO BE LIKE YOU, but the metaphorical awls keep getting in the way. Plus, you're an idiot.
"This administration has made it clear from the outset that members of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups do not necessarily enjoy the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Al Qaeda members and other foreign terrorists in Iraq illegally would not be entitled to the Geneva Convention protections. That's consistent with our opinion on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan." - An unnamed senior Justice Department official. Fuck you in the earholes with a rusty awl, the lot of you, and a second bonus awl for your Imperious Leader Ashcroft.
Go back to covering up stone titties and arresting Tommy Chong, why don't you? You want to take prisoners, ship them off to other countries, hide them from the world, and we're supposed to take your word that it's OK 'cause you say they're terrorists? You lost an election to a rotting corpse. You have less credibility than the kind of lying bastard governments the Geneva Convention was designed to thwart. I hope you get the first pink slip handed out on January 21. Maybe you can sell it on eBay as a collectible.
"Look, the Republican candidate will never win the contest for editorial board endorsements. The major dailies across the country tend to skew liberal." - RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie. Fuck you. Guess where. Guess with what. And guess how many rusty awls we're going to have to scrounge up for all the fucks in the media who let you come on their shows and say things like this, which are demonstrably and patently FALSE.
You know how many times the Republican candidate won the contest for editorial board endorsements? Thirteen. You know how many times they've lost? Two, plus, it seems, the current one. You know who won the contest in 2000? BUSH. The statistics only go back to 1940, so while we can set a lower boundary on how big a lying, fuckwit monkeybrain Ed Gillespie is, we cannot set an upper limit. Plus, there's six days to go. That's plenty of time for ol' Ed to rack up his retardo quotient.
"If you actually look at him, and he stands up next to Kerry, you just kind of feel sorry for him. I feel he's more of an underdog, he's had a hard go of it in the last four years." - Kimberly Parmer, of Michigan, quoted in the New York Times about why, despite being an "undecided voter", she may end up voting for Bush. EARHOLES! AWLS! RUSTY! NOW! In fact, I'd like to get a team of surgeons to add approximately FIVE MORE EARS to you at various locations on your body. I'll tell you it's an extreme makeover or something. Because two rusty awls simply doesn't seem like enough earfucking for a sentence this stupid.
You do not support someone for Leader Of The Fucking Free World because you feel sorry for how badly he's doing the job. And frankly, the rest of us would appreciate it if you would not ruin things for the rest of us because of your inexplicable desire to give George W. Bush an electoral pity-fuck. If things go badly on Tuesday, it will be largely on the heads of the Kimberly Parmers of this country. Hooray for the rusty awl of democracy, which fucks us all in the ear-holes sooner or later.
*Metaphorically, of course.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Live, From Funkytown, It's YOU ARE DUMB!

Memo to America: DEEP BREATH.
OK. I know the election's got you all squirrely. I know the campaign's been going on forever. That is no reason, however, to take leave of your fucking senses. Get a grip. Of COURSE Ashlee Simpson lip-syncs.
If you give a shit about this, you have a number of mental and emotional problems which I will discuss and dissect in excruciating detail for you, and it's your own damn fault, because if you give a shit about this, you haven't been paying attention since January 1 whan I started this little endeavor.
Here's your first clue that Ashlee Simpson lip-syncs. Her name is spelled A-S-H-L-E-E. A spelling from which it is possible to extrapolate every single useful fact you could possibly need about Ashlee Simpson. She was raised by people who thought A-S-H-L-E-E was the best way to spell that. And felt that way in1985. If you're named "Ashlee" in 1985, it's inevitable that by 2004, you will be caught doing something wrong on national television.
The Simpson parents ought to express their eternal gratitude that it was singing on Saturday Night Live, and not flashing her cooch on Girls Gone Wild, but they can't, because we haven't developed UPLIFT TECHNOLOGY YET. I mean, even assuming that Ashlee is the brains of the family, a little Darwinian backtracking based on available evidence of her and her sister tells us that their parents previous address was most likely 1 Primordial Ooze Lane. Or possibly Tennessee.
Second vital clue that Ashlee Simpson was lip-syncing: ASHLEE SIMPSON'S MUSIC. You know how much Ashlee Simpson music I've heard? The fifteen seconds or so from the lip-syncing clip. And from that, I can determine that even if everything had gone perfectly, there is nothing in her entire repertoire that (a) she wouldn't have lip-synced given the opportunity, or (b) she SHOULDN'T have. Why the hell not? It's shitty pop-rock. If you think this incident exposes the music industry to be a fake, a sham, in which musical acts are assembled out of pretty bits and pieces for broad market appeal, then I say to you, congratulations on your successful revival, and I trust life in the 21st century is more comfortable than the GLACIER you've been frozen in for two centuries.
If, on the other hand, you are an Ashlee Simpson fan, and are traumatized at the news that your idol engaged in a bit of pre-recorded trickery, it's important for you to understand that your eighth-grade biology homework isn't going to finish itself, young lady, so get your ass off that goddamn Internet and hit the books. If you're not a 14-year-old girl, and you're listening to Ashlee Simpson music, you're either a pedophile or the victim of some elaborate, illegal scientific experiment.*
Third major clue that Ashlee Simpson might lip-sync when appearing on Saturday Night Live: She was appearing on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Has nobody else ever watched this show? If so, it would explain the popularity of Chris Kattan, but odds are it would have gotten cancelled at least a couple of years ago if I were the sole, sporadic audience. People lip-sync on SNL all the friggin' time.
If you really think SNL is some musical institution, where great musicians deliver classic performances, you need to stop smoking crack with Lorne Michaels. I know he has the best crack in town, but that doesn't mean you have to hang around and listen to his bullshit. For every brilliant, memorable song like... like... actually, the only SNL performance I can remember is when the lead singer of the Pogues, drunk off his ass, wandered aimlessly behind the drum set during what was suddenly an instrumental.
But what about the hypocrisy angle? After all, she told "Lucky" magazine she'd never lip-sync! FUCK YOU. Stop holding 19-year-old girls to a higher standard than your own fucking president. A higher truth standard, a higher honesty standard, fuck, a higher grammatical standard, even. And stop reading "Lucky" magazine while you're at it, you freak.
Ashlee Simpson lip-syncs. Big fucking whoop. If this is your idea of a big deal, I hope you never find out that Santa Claus isn't real, and that prostitutes aren't anything like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Or, if you do find out, I hope to hell I'm not walking in front of your high-rise when you get the news. I just bought these shoes.
*This sentence ensures that I will get at least one Google hit for "Ashlee Simpson pedophile", but I can live with that.**
**This sentence will make it two to four hits. So I won't type it again.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Something Giver, Maybe?

Memo to Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota: YOU DUMB, EVIL, FUCK.
On behalf of the European invading force, I'd like to once again apologize to the indiginous peoples of America. We seem to be biologically incapable of not fucking you over every chance we get. Every once in a while, we give you something we think we don't want as a half-assed way of making up for all the shit we've pulled in the past. And then it turns out there's actually MONEY in it, and we take it back, and give you something ELSE we think is worthless to make up for it. You know, there used to be an expression for that, but I just can't remember what it is. In any event, it's a shitty way to act, but at this point, it's practically enshrined as tradition.
Which doesn't excuse Tim Pawlenty for not only trying to do it again, but doing it in such a crass manner that I'm surprised he's not throwing in a truckload of smallpox-laden blankets to sweeten the deal.
See, back in 1989, Minnesota negotiated a deal with tribal leaders that let them run gambling casinos in the state. Since then, the casinos have done pretty well for themselves, because, well, a whole lot of people find flashing lights, buffet tables, and Wayne Newton* much more interesting than statistics and math. They've made quite a bit of money in the past fifteen years, and don't think we haven't noticed.
See, in 1989, the agreement that was reached was that the tribes would keep their money, and not give any of it to the state of Minnesota. Because they're technically sovereign nations, and because technically we've fucked them non-stop for five centuries. Unfortunately, Republicans are a lot like Daffy Duck. You can't leave a big pile of money lying around like that without them going all bug-eyed at it and conniving ways to get some of it for themselves.
Pawlenty, being the conscientious sort, explored all the options available to him before settling on blatant extortion.
Our fine governor has basically demanded that the tribal leaders meet with him to negotiate a better deal for the state. Better to the tune of three hundred and fifty million dollars. Per year. As the Star Tribune helpfully pointed out to put this in perspective, this is roughly half as much money as the state took in this year from every other corporation's income taxes PUT TOGETHER. Pawlenty says that's about 25% of the tribes' casino profits, which, much like the "75% of Al Qaeda" figure, should be taken at face value and not examined in any detail at all, please..
Since this would obviously be a crappy deal to make from the tribes' perspective, Pawenty's going to need a pretty big stick to get them to come to the table to negotiate away their money. So he's threatening to bring in non-tribal casinos from the big casinso companies, under the argument that even though Indian tribes have had exclusive casino rights for the last 15 years, it's not really exclusive, and if they want it to really be exclusive, they'd better pony up the dough.
Even when you ignore the issues of sovereignty and legality, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. Imagine if Pawlenty went to the board of directors of, say, OfficeMax. And he goes to them and he says, "Gimme a whole bunch of money, which I estimate is a quarter of your profits no matter what your numbers actually say. If you don't, I'm going to use my power in the government to open up a whole bunch of Staples stores, capice?"
There'd be a HUGE uproar and scandal. And that's without a long history of our ancestors attempting to wipe out all the paper salesmen in the prairie. But do you think most of the people here are going to stand up for the tribes? Me neither. Even when the state's representatives are blatantly using the kind of threatening language you'd normally find in a bad "Sopranos" episode. Yes, it's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"The issue here is the tribes have a choice. I came away from my [Las Vegas] meeting thinking that the best outcome would be a new arrangement with our tribes. [The state could get] substantially more revenue from a private gaming option, [but] we would have pressure to have more than one casino, although that could be done. We'd also have to establish a gaming commission. But that could be done too." - Dan McElroy, Pawlenty's chief of staff.
Appalling. He might as well have come out and said "I'd hate for anything... bad... to happen to your lovely casino," while one of his henchmen smashed in a slot machine with a baseball bat. If they could get $350 million a year out of a couple of new, non-Indian casinos, and the previous agreements really allow it, then what's stopping him? I'll tell you what. More casinos means less profit per casino. There isn't, despite a certain amount of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, an infinite supply of suckers with money in this state.
So instead, Pawlenty, like so many of his forebears, is going to try to strongarm the natives to get their piece of action they wanted no part of in years past. Thanks for making us all look bad again, fuckhead.
*Here's an interesting behind the scenes moment for you. I planned to just type in Wayne Newton as a prime example of the kind of entertainment they have at casinos, but I decided, in fairness, to visit Grand Casino's Minnesota web site. And right there, listed for Friday, October 22 at their Hinckley casino was... WAYNE NEWTON.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Back in August, longtime readers of this column may recall that I inaugurated a new Friday feature: BAD CALL FRIDAY. It was such a stirring success that it was never once repeated... until NOW. Yes, it's time for another series of horrible mistakes made by celebrities, corporations, and public officials.
We start in Hollywood, where it was announced, a month or so ago*, that John Woo would be directing a new movie based on the venerable property, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This is what experts refer to as a TRIPLE BAD CALL:
  • Last year, they tried to resurrect He-Man with a new cartoon. The cartoon was awful, failed miserably, and was cancelled. Ergo, a new He-Man movie is a BAD CALL.
  • Last year, they tried to resurrect He-Man with a new line of toys. The toys were super-crappy, failed miserably, and the line was cancelled. Ergo, a new He-Man movie strikes me as a BAD CALL.
  • This year, they had the brilliant idea to make a new movie, based on a popular character, that had been portrayed in a shitty 80's movie by Dolph Lundgren. This film defied all odds by being almost as bad as (or worse than, depending on who you ask) the original, and was a critical and box-office disappointment. One can draw from this the conclusion that a new He-Man movie would be aBAD CALL.
And really, if you're going to take one 20-year-old piece of shit and bring it back with new "talent", why stop there? Remember "Band Aid", the African poverty benefit supergroup that narrowly avoided a trademark-infringement lawsuit from Johnson & Johnson? You know, the ones that put out the "Do They Know It's Christmas" song that has been inescapable for two months a year ever since? Well, they're remaking it. BAD CALL.
I mean, the original is bad enough. Sure, it's generally thought of as the best of the "save the hungry people" charity songs, but look at its competition. Plus, it was mostly British people, and that gives it bonus cultural cachet that obscures its general crapitude. But a remake? And it's not like they're getting the band (aid) back together or anything. No, this time they're assembling an all new "super"group of today's artists to re-record the song!
Farewell, Bono! You've been replaced by COLDPLAY. That's gotta fucking hurt. The only guy from the original Band Aid that's even remotely close to still relevant, and the coach pulls you out of the game so that those whiny "Yellow" fuckers can belt out "Feed The World". Remember Sting? You know, back in the 80's when he didn't entirely suck? Well, pack him into his Jaguar and send him off onto the ice floe, we've got Travis now. Boy George? Boy Schmorge! We've got a whole BAND full of glam assholes, The Darkness! And remember, when the remake comes out, every single time it gets pirated over the Internet, a child in Africa DIES.
And finally, the right-wing simply can't let "Fahrenheit 9/11" die. The DVD's been out for two weeks, which means it's now officially outside the "window of visibility", and gets stocked back with all the other "F" titles in the Documentary section. Most of the discussion of the film happened over the summer anyway; the DVD release really didn't incite any new arguing. But since the right can't just get on with it, today brings us theBAD CALL release of "Celsius 41.11", a movie title so bad and un-funny that it could have only come from pissed-off conservatives.
This new documentary**, written by Lionel Chetwynd, the man that gave us that stunning piece of Showtime fiction about how incredibly brave and decisive Bush was after 9/11, is named after the temperature at which your brain starts to deteriorate.BAD CALL. Chetwynd is quoted as explaining that "You tell enough lies, and the brain starts to die." Again, BAD CALL. I've thought of at least eight different punchlines for that quote in the time it took me to paste it. Make us lead the target a little, Chetwynd! Don't just stand there with a big target on your ass!
The documentary, intended as a "rebuttal" to Fahrenheit 9/11, spends a lot of time talking about John Kerry, which Fahrenheit didn't mention at all. Oops. Let me make fun of Chetwynd a little more, because his name sounds like an 80's prog-rock band, and because he said something else that was realy fucking stupid. ACTUAL BAD CALL QUOTE TIME!
"What was getting to me was Michael Moore's almost preternatural obsession with getting rid of Bush." - Lionel "HO-Scale" Chetwind. If "preternatural" means "beyond natural", and Moore's desire to get rid of Bush is "almost preternatural", that means it's almost beyond natural, which means it's COMPLETELY NATURAL. Along with the similar desires of anyone who's been paying attention for the past four years. Remember, kids. Being a complete dumbass in public is always a.... BAD CALL.
*They can't all be up-to-the-minute topical, you know.
**Note my kindness and taking of the moral high ground by not putting quotes around it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Wedgie Conundrum

Memo to the purveyors of "zero tolerance": YOU ARE DUMB.
For five years now, since Columbine, we've been arresting children for writing poetry. One of the first cases, in California, is set to go before the state Supreme Court. The most recent case happened right around here in Ramsey County. Students with criminal records because they wrote poems with dark or violent imagery, placed in police custody because of "vague, unspecific threats of violence".
ARRESTED. I mean, it's bad enough when the school system abuses its own disciplinary powers of suspension and expulsion to kick kids out of school for art supplies that exceed a certain sharpness, but bringing the criminal justice system into the picture over poetry?
I mean, yeah, we can all admit that high school poetry is a crime against aesthetics. Especially in these troubled times. Gone are the innocent days of yore when students would throw themselves into frenzies of gothy creation while listening to The Cure or Sisters of Mercy. Today's students are reaching back nostalgically for Creed's first album to fuel their adolescent angst. And that just ain't healthy. But it's also not a criminal offense. And if it were, shouldn't we be going after Scott Stapp?
OK, folks, let's try a little experiment in fake interactivity. Every single one of you reading this, raise your hand if, at any point during your school career, you did something, wrote something, or drew something that would have gotten your ass thrown in jail if it had been discovered today. OK. The three of you with your hands still down, WAIT SIX MONTHS.
Now, let's have everyone leave their hands up if they think that all this lockdown, metal detector, clear backpack, dress code, thought police bullshit has fundamentally improved the experience of being a high school student. No, just put your hands down. You don't need to run from the room screaming and setting random things on fire. You've made your point, and, in turn, made mine.
It's still Lord of the Flies in there, people. That hasn't changed. Hordes of little protobastards acting out their primal urges to gain and abuse whatever power they can manage while maintaining a B average. Hell, if the stories are true, the only thing getting our nation's students through each successive, relentless, horrible day is the non-stop oral sex.
Expecting kids to not have violent, dark thoughts anymore because you've placed an elaborate, authoritarian superstructure around them is patently insane. Doing so in the hopes that they'll just repress their violent, dark thoughts until graduation, letting you off the hook, just creates an entire generation of basket cases who'll keep the crime shows in new and interesting headlines for years to come.
And the worst part is, the absolute worst part, is that there's no single person or group of people to point to and say "it's your fault". Obviously, these policies come from the administration, from the system, but it's an administration that is terrified. Not just terrified of the kids, but terrified of what'll happen if some kid does show up, guns blazing, and it turns out he had a drawing of a tombstone in his Trapper Keeper. Ass-covering is Job One, and if that means criminalizing emotion while you extol the virtues of learning and knowledge, so be it.
Can't really blame the teachers. They're completely fucked. 'Cause the teachers are the idealists. They come into the schools full of inspiration, motivated to make a difference in the lives of their students, and once the system has inexorably crushed the last drop of that idealism out of them, they can finally move into administration. Until then, they're the ones that have to make the completely impossible call of predicting whether the snippet of free verse in the notebook means that Jimmy's already loaded the hunting rifle his dad bought him at Wal-Mart, or if it's just the inevitable venting caused by One Wedgie Too Many.
Parents don't want their kids to get shot in the face, and have an astonishingly difficult time seeing beyond "I don't want my kid shot in the face", and for the most part would rather see Jimmy of the Nth Wedgie thrown into jail if there's even the slightest chance he might do something. Which is a shame, but is, I suppose, understandable.
I could blame the media and the government, for, respectivly, sensationalizing and underfunding, but they're on the hook for so many other things right now that it almost doesn't seem fair.
It's almost enough to make you wish they'd blow the whole thing up and start over... hey, wait? What are you doing? I said "almost"! Somebody call the ACLU! Goddammit, that's what I get for watching that Smiths retrospective on VH1.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

As If It Were Intended For Some Kind Of... Circus

Memo to the Republican Party: I WAS WRONG. I'M SORRY.
I have, in the past, criticized Republicans for their clam of being the party of "inclusion". I've mocked the idea that the GOP is a "big tent", that can hold straights and gays (even while they work to make gays second-class citizens), whites and blacks (even while they embrace racists like Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott), pro-choice and embryo-fetishist (even while they frantically work to impose their religious viewpoint on people of other or no faiths).
But this year, to help Bush gain re-election, the GOP has truly assembled a diverse "coalition of the willing". Homophobes, racists, fiscal conservatives, Pat Buchanan, rednecks, Jesus-freaks, "security moms", chickpea sex-freaks, bow-tied pussies, and the Iranian government.
Yes, in what may prove to be the single funniest endorsement in the history of mankind, Hasan Rowlani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that the re-election of George W. Bush was in his country's best interest. For those of you wondering how important the Supreme National Security Council, it's just like our own National Security Council, except it has sausage AND pepperoni on it.
Iran's endorsement is big for many reasons. First, it truly shows the inclusiveness of the GOP. I mean, these guys act like Iran is almost as bad as two guys who want to get married! All during the debates it was "get tough on Iran", "sanctions on Iran", "Iran is a doodyhead". And Iran still loves Dubya! They're like the Log Cabin Republicans of rogue nations.
So why would Iran, member of the Axis of Evil, support Bush? Well, aside from the obvious "takes one corrupt tyrannical regime run by religious extermists to know one" jokes, let's turn to the words of Mr. Rowlani himself. It's ACTUAL ENDORSEMENT TIME!
"We do not desire to see Democrats take over. We haven't seen anything good from Democrats." - Rowlani said. Ann Coulter, upon learning that she has expressed the exact same viewpoint as one of the filthy brown people she wants to eradicate from the face of the earth, suffered a minor stroke due to the cognitive dissonance. The stroke eliminated nearly 85% of her higher mental functions, and almost caused her to cancel her appearance on "Meet The Press" this weekend.
"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton. And we should not forget that during Bush's era ? despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran ? he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran. - Rowlani again. So the Iranian government, who, frankly, are in a position to know, are quite satisfied with Bush's "all talk, no action" stance on Iran, plus his eradication of one of their least favorite guys, Saddamn Hussein. Welcome to the GOP, Iran!
But why, pray tell, would a Democratic administration be so bad for Iran? Does Iran fear that they would have to recognize gay marriages from Massachussetts? Are they concerned that our welfare cheats will go unpunished? Perhaps they fear that President Kerry's corporate tax hikes would impair Halliburton's ability to do business with them? We turn to Iranian political analyst Mohsen Mofidi for the answer.
"The experience of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the responsibility Bush had, will make it a very remote possibility for him to risk attacking a much bigger and more powerful country like Iran. Democrats usually insist on human rights and they will have more excuses to pressure Iran."
Well, there you have it, folks. A stirring endorsement indeed. Dubya is supported by the Iranian government because he ignores human rights (nice to see SOMEONE took the lessons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay to heart), because he leaves Iran pretty much alone, and because even if he wanted to, he doesn't have the troops to try anything with Iran. Four more years! Four more years! It's a pity there's nobody in the government who can translate that into Farsi for them.
The Bush administration, of course, has refused to accept the endorsement, but that's the great thing about endorsements. They're a one-way street. When you stand for Bush, whether you like it or not, you stand with Ann Coulter. You stand with David Duke. You stand with Trent Lott. You stand with Tucker Carlson. You stand with Alan Keyes. You stand with Toby Keith. You stand with Ann Coulter. You stand with Jerry Falwell. And you stand with the Iranian government. What a great big tent that is. Just a great, big, inclusive, grand old party. I guess I was wrong about them after all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Tale Of Two Nutjobs

Memo to Alan Keyes: DON'T EVER CHANGE.
It's been a while since we've checked in with our old friend Alan Keyes, hasn't it? I don't know why it is that the hateful shit Keyes spouts doesn't piss me off the way it does coming out of, say, the Falwells of the world, but it does. I mean, let's take a look at a couple of quotes on the same subject. It's ACTUAL COMPARATIVE QUOTE TIME!
"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry! ... And I'm going to be blunt and plain, if one ever looks at me like that I'm going to kill him and tell God he died!- Jerry Falwell, September 2004.
"If we do not know who the mother is, who the father is, without knowing all the brothers and sisters, incest becomes inevitable. Whether they mean it or not, that is what will happen. If you are masked from your knowing your biological parents, you are in danger of encountering brothers and sisters you have no knowledge of." - Alan Keyes, speaking out against gay marriage and homosexuality in general on Saturday.
See what I mean? That first quote still pisses me off. The only way any gay man would fuck Jerry Falwell is to sell the pictures to the media, and I don't think anybody's selfless enough to take that particular hit for Team Selfish Hedonism. Yet Falwell's ready to commit murder to prevent the one act his entire life, diet, and genetics have conspired every single day to prevent?! And what does he mean by "tell God he died"? Of course he'd be dead. You'd have killed him. That's the point. Does Falwell go around pointing out other obvious consequences to God? "Oh Lord, having just relieved my mighty bowels, I beseech thee, do not turn your omnipotent nose unto my bathroom, for it is most foul, and I may have left a floater."
The Keyes, quote, on the other hand, blows over my like a feather typhoon, all the force and bluster managing merely to tickle me a bit. It's as if Keyes finally got around to watching the original Star Wars trilogy*, saw what happened with Luke and Leia, and had the epiphany that all those kids growing up with two mommies or two daddies would end up unknowingly kissing their sibling to prove that they're not secretly in love with a scruffy-looking nerf-herder. It, like the rest of his campaign, is a complete fucking joke.
You know who endorses Alan Keyes? Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Reagan's U.N. ambassador. That's how desperate the GOP is about Keyes. They're pulling people out of mothballs who haven't been heard from since they got made fun of in BLOOM COUNTY. What's next, Caspar Weinberger? Keyes is down 40 or more points, and Obama's offering up his staff members to other campaigns that don't have the advantage of running against a completely crazy person. Maybe he should send a couple down to Kentucky, where Jim Bunning's only been outed as a nutjob in the last couple of weeks.
Keyes is unbowed and unchanged, thank goodness. "I think you are more likely to be called names if you are effective at articulating your position," Keyes said in a recent interview, which is true, but it does omit the crucial second step: that the position you're effective at articulating is that kids raised by gay parents will end up FUCKING THEIR SIBLINGS.
That's the kind of articulation that gets you called names, yes. Like "bat-shit crazy". The kind of thing that has the Illinois GOP infrastructure squabbling like ferrets in a sack over whose fault it is that you're the candidate. I probably should be more up in arms about you saying stuff like this, or that we shouldn't spend money on AIDS in Africa because it's caused by immoral behavior, but unlike Bush, or Falwell, or even Limbaugh, but the fact is, you'll never have any real power. Your tiny following would have been homophobic douchebags whether you spoke to them or not. So in November, you can go back to whatever it is you professional candidates do when you're not running - spewing your garbage in the guise of a radio show or "think tank" consultant, and then in two to six years, you'll be back saying more stupid, crazy shit to the press. And we can all start the laughing again.
So don't ever change, Alan. Keep railing against the selfish hedonists like your own (rumored) gay daughter, and blaming all the ills on the world on people who aren't making babies every ten months. Because every time you do, you show the true face of the far-right, and we all learn why it must be dressed up in frilly, "compassionate" sheep's clothing, lest it suffer your fate and only get 25% of the vote.
*Well, he probably watched the new DVD's, so "original" should technically be in Official Nerd Sarcasm Quotes.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Why Ya Buggin'?

First, a bit of important business. If you have not seen Jon Stewart on Crossfire, I can't recommend strongly enough that you go and watch it. It continues to support what I've suspected for the past year - Jon Stewart is Very Important, and on his way to becoming Very, Very, Very Important.
Memo to everyone still discussing the Mary Cheney thing: YOU ARE DUMB.
It's been five days. Let it go. Stop examining it. Stop yelling about it. She's here, she's queer, her last name's Cheney, and she is inevitably going to be used as a ticking time-bomb volleyball in high-stakes politics. So get used to it.
TO THE LEFT: I know we have to stridently repeat our own talking-point defenses in today's world, but come on. Ofcourse Kerry name-dropping Mary The Lesbian Cheney in the last debate was a political maneuver. Just like Edwards mentioning it in the VP debate was. It was a cheap ploy to associate Dick Cheney with all the uncomfortable feelings Bush supporters have about homosexuals in general, and lesbians in particular.
It wasn't done by accident. It wasn't done to praise the Cheneys' childrearing abilities. It was a blatant political maneuver. And you should be INCREDIBLY FUCKING HAPPY for it, because it means that, at least every once in a while, Kerry and Edwards aren't trying to win this election on their merits as leaders of the free world. Thank fuck. Because only about 5% of the people pulling the lever on 11/2 are going to vote based on who they think will be the most effective leader of the free world.
The rest are going to go with blind party loyalty, the incompetence of the incumbent, who looks better in a short-sleeve shirt, who they think has a nicer bulge, whatever. Maybe a couple of dozen people stay home that day 'cause they're not voting for nobody who made their daughter queer. I'll take that. Hell, it's even true that she IS a lesbian, so the best part is, it's all still completely defensible.
Hell, the ploy wouldn't even have a chance in the first place if the right hasn't spent a big chunk of its entire history, and especially the past year, specifically courting people who think lesbians are "icky". Most of whom probably have "Girl On Girl IV" under their mattress anyway.
If it were up to me, we'd take full advantage of the Ashcroft Justice Department's steamrolling of civil rights and privacy, and have a national vote on gay marriage. And while everyone's out at the polls, we have law enforcement search their homes under the Patriot Act. And if we find anything in your home that features two women getting it on, and you voted "no" on gay marriage, your vote gets shredded by Voters Outreach of America*. The gay marriage issue would then pass overwhelmingly by a ten to one margin.
TO THE RIGHT: You can stop pretending now. You know as well as we do that all the Official Outrage over Kerry's comment is just as calculated and fake as Kerry's own comment. Sure, when it's time to appear all compassionate and moderate, you love to drop Mary Cheney's name. Plus she's on your frigging campaign payroll, which means that she's not some strange, closeted lesbian hermit who spends her days poking around a damp cave. She's in the thick of this, and using loaded, inaccurate words like "outing" just make you sound shrill.
It ALSO means there's some good, old-fashioned nepotism going in in the Bush-Cheney campaign, but hell, these days, nepotism seems like a quaint reminder of days long past, like bow ties, or Quaker Oats. Like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, nepotisim is Comfort Corruption. No more of that messy "deferred compensation from Halliburton", "no-bid contract" crap. "He hired his daughter to a high-profile paid position in his re-election campaign" is the kind of thing we can settle snugly into on a cold autumn evening.
Cheney and the rest of the right has settled on a new talking point, that Kerry "will say anything to get elected". Hooray! Finally, we have confirmation that we have a complete set of four for the election. I'd hate for Kerry to be the only one left out of that club, wouldn't you? You know what happenes to politicians who refuse to say anything in order to get elected? They lose.
*If you don't know, Google it up. It's fraudtacular!

Friday, October 15, 2004


Fuck politics.
At least for one more day. Sure, there's stuff I'd like to touch on, like all the things you didn't hear from Kerry-Edwards in the debates, or how ludicrous it is that The Bulge is getting more traction than, say, war crimes... but for this week, at least, fuck politics. And speaking of fuck-politics...
Oh please, oh please, oh please, let it all be true. Let this be the Bill O'Reilly legacy. Let him be the new Marv Albert, the new punchline, for the next decade. It would be a thing of such beauty in a cold, cruel world. So please, let it be true.
Because for a guy who purports to spend so much of his time in a "no-spin zone", Bill O'Reilly sure is allegedly one twisted little fuckmonkey.
In case you haven't heard the story, O'Reilly is being sued by Andrea Mackris, a producer on his show. Her lawsuit alleges that O'Reilly is allegedly a vibrator-obsessed, phone-sex-obsessed, philandering ape who allegedly forces all kinds of nasty, creepy, unwanted advances on his female subordinates, and allegedly called this particular producer on the phone three separate times while "tapping his microphone", as it were. Allegedly.
The details of the alleged allegations, as seen on The Smoking Gun, paint an allegedly horrifying picture of a middle-aged, rich asshole who allegedly acted like a non-stop horn-monster around the producer and her friends while, at the same time, exhibiting alleged behavior that really makes you question Bill's alleged sanity. Not to mention his alleged intelligence. The classic, choice bit that will go down in alleged history is excerpted here from the complaint in a new segment I like to call ALLEGED QUOTE TIME!
"You would basically be in the shower and then I would come in and I'd join you...and I would take that little loofa thing... it's one of those mitts those loofa mitts you know, so I got my hands in it ... and I would put it around front, kinda' rub your tummy a little bit with it... and then I would take the other hand with the falafel (sic) thing and I'd put it on your pussy..."- Alleged Bill O' Reilly *
First of all, "falafel"? FALAFEL? Second of all, I have it on very good authority that the only thing that happens when you use EITHER a loofa OR falafel on a human clitoris is that you get your fucking arm snapped off at the wrist. What next? Does O'Reilly have a dildo made out of pumice? Or, perhaps, hummus? Never trust a man who confuses exfoliants, chickpeas, and sexual aids. It'll only hurt you in the end.
You know who's gotta be having the time of his life right now? Al Franken. How must it feel to have pissed someone off SO much that he allegedly drops your name right in the middle of a series of allegedly creepy, sexual-harassing dinner conversations? That when Bill O'Reilly allegedly needs an alleged analogy for any woman who crosses him, he allegedly goes immediately to "Look at Al Franken, one day he's going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me." That's gotta feel fucking incredible, to know that you've gotten so far under Bill O'Reilly's skin that even while he's trying to allegedly get into a subordinate's pants, he still has time for an elaborate power-trip revenge fantasy** about you. Al, you are the MAN.
There's even a bit that, if the allegations are true, may actually qualify Bill O'Reilly as the most allegedly selfish human being on the planet. Because, you know, it takes a certain kind of selfishness to allegedly call up your subordinate and allegedly whack off while you're on the phone with her. It takes an extra special kind of selfishness to allegedly do it AGAIN. It takes a rare kind of selfishness indeed to allegedly do it a THIRD time, allegedly using a vibrator on yourself. But only the most selfish man in the universe would, after allegedly masturbating for the third time, with a vibrator, allegedly on the phone with your subordinate (who's not allegedly cooperating in any way), to allegedly then brag about your recent performance on the "Tonight Show". Because first, when it comes to "pillow talk", that's just allegedly deeply fucking tacky and egotistical. And second, who gives an alleged shit if Jay Leno allegedly thinks your so damn funny?
This whole thing, of course, will get ugly before it's over. O'Reilly's already countersued, calling Mackris an extortionist and a politically-motivated career saboteur. He has plenty of media outlets with which to make his case. And these things never go smoothly. But I'm inclined to believe Mackris for two main reasons. First, some of the details, like the loofa, and the falafel, and the Franken, are just too completely off-the-wall and insane to be the products of a fabricated scheme. And second, I want it to be true so bad it almost hurts. Let's all keep our alleged fingers crossed.
*There's a lot more to this bit, but I've snipped it down to the comedically relevant parts. You really should check out the full complaint online, though. Even if it turns out not to be true, it's a great read.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Repulse, Reuse, Recycle

Fuck politics.
Just so you know, Sinclair Broadcasting ordered me to pre-empt the column next Thursday with a column written by George W. Bush called "JOHN KENNEDY ER KERRY SHORE IS STOOPID", but after the first paragraph, it trails off for about seven minutes worth of blank space, and thus screws up the formatting of the site, so I can't. Sorry, Sinclair!
Instead, I will use this space for its intended public-service purpose, issuing memos like this to people like frigging Heloise The Hint Lady: YOU ARE DUMB.
If there's a fraternity, a bond amongst columnists*, then nobody's tried to get me drunk and brand my ass yet. So either there isn't one, or they haven't invited me. And either way, that means there's nothing stopping me from taking shots at "Heloise", or whatever corporate cube-drone actually fills up her six column inches five days a week. Next to the horoscope people, Heloise has the cushiest job on the planet.
You all know Heloise. She's the one that gives helpful household hints, for sufficiently loose values of "helpful", "household", and "hints". She is, like many who've appeared in this space before her, the product of a simpler time. A time when there were only a few dozen different tools and gadgets, a handful of different foods to eat, and three kinds of soap. Yes, three. One for the skin, one for the dishes, and one for the clothes. Those three soaps, plus bleach, cleaned everything on the planet at one point.
Plus, if you needed something, you couldn't just pop over to Target and get it. There was a whole rigmarole involved, with parasols, and waving, and traveling into the big city, and whatnot. In times like those, Heloise was like a matronly Macgyver, repurposing mop handles and providing the chemical equations to turn leftover casserole and a nine-volt battery into a silver de-tarnisher. She was the Anarchist's Cookbook in a sun-dress, if you will.
But today, the Heloise empire is a mere shadow of its former self, the victim of the home products industry, where every single chemical that can remove every single stain known to man has been impregnated into its own little disposable cloth on a re-usable stick and stuck on the shelves of the nearest Wal-Mart. You think Macgyver would manufacture a three-ring binder out of stray planks and bits of ductwork if he were standing in the middle of OfficeMax? He would not.
So five days a week, Heloise's column is filled with three classes of "question". Class One is "Can you reprint Hint X?". This, assuming they have a decent record keeping system, is about five minutes worth of work. Class Two is: "I have this stupid and obvious hint that I would like you to convey to your readership!" Which takes no more than ten minutes to retype if it came in hardcopy, plus ten seconds to type some variant of "That sounds great!" after it.
Here are some examples of Class Two questions from this week alone, edited down to their essentials because these people write like they're filling out a patent form for "means of organizing small metal objects using a leftover egg carton".
  • "By having a paper shredder handy when I open my mail, I can easily shred my junk mail!"
  • "I keep spare makeup bottle caps because sometimes I break the caps on my makeup bottles!"
  • "A ladle is useful for scooping things!"
  • "Microwave ovens cook potatoes faster!"
  • "Make croutons by cutting bread into cubes!"
If you are stunned by these incredible household revelations, then go right out, buy a couple of Heloise's books, and hit yourself in the head with them until the hurting stops. Thanks.
And then there's Class Three. The Horrible Food Hints. Venture into these hints at your own peril, for here you will find tales of unspeakable horror.
Like the woman who, needing bread crumbs for her meatloaf, made the startling conclusion that croutons, being somewhat breadlike, could be transformed into bread crumbs by the application of force. Retarded, yes, but not too terrifying, until you read on and learned that she was anxious to try a different bread crumb substitute her friend suggested: PULVERIZED CHEETOS. The reanimated corpse of James Beard is tracking her down even as we speak, revenge in his unbeating heart.
And watch out, Rachael Ray! Another helpful Heloise writer has a spaghetti meal so fast, it'll be cooked, eaten, digested, and shat out in well under 30 minutes. And all you need is a jar of spaghetti sauce and a packet of RAMEN NOODLES. Just throw away the seasoning packet, boil up the noodles, pour on the sauce, and PRESTO, you've got a vitamin-free, all-fat meal that'll make you vomit in no time!
It's one thing to get paid for printing the obvious. But to take money for printing culinary atrocities? That's shameful, evil, and DUMB. Of course, Heloise -is- reportedly from Texas...
*See how this noun is not spelled "B-L-O-G-G-E-R"? There's a reason for that, you know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Lobes, Yes. Frontal? Not So Much.

Fuck politics.
Politics wouldn't even be so bad if it weren't full of, well, politicians. Politicians like the speaker of the Minnesota House, Steve "My last name sounds like a secretion" Sviggum, who had the unmitigated gall to warn a liberal faith-based activism organization not to presume to speak on God's behalf. I can't blame him for not listening to his president, but since he said this in answer to a question about how he'd vote on the four main issues the activists cared about, he may want to invest in one of those sviggum-flushing ear-enemas they sell at the Walgreens.
And who needs the manufactured drama of politics anyway, when the common man is more than capable of manufacturing his own tiny, insipid, unnecessary dramas out of the stuff of everyday upscale life? Which is why I'm forced to issue the following memorandum to iPod drama queens YOU ARE DUMB.
Along with that comes yet another tip-of-the-fuck-you to Wired, who apparently have nothing better to do than to seek out the vaguely insecure and broadcast that insecurity to the world at large. It's a shotgun-approach to being ahead of the curve, because if one of these vague insecurities ever snowballs into a national phenomenon, Wired can point to it and say how clever they are. And that's how we get an entire article about people not wanting to wear iPod headphones in public.
Apparently, being seen in public with the trademark white headphones that come packaged with an iPod immediately identifies you as an iPod owner. This may be true. I don't know. While I spend a lot of time on public transportation, none of it is spent looking at the ears of complete strangers, trying to divine their brand preference. Nor do I spend a lot of time scanning the passersby, trying to see which of them might be trying to identify my personal electronics from two seats back. I must be the only one who doesn't give a fuck, though, because there are, by Wired's assertion, a growing community of "closeted" iPod users who want to carry around 20-40GB of music in their pocket, but don't want weirdos staring at their ears. Me, I've set up a custom playlist of text, and tagged it ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"It makes me feel individual to customize it," Godin said. "Even if its just changing the headphones. That's the irony of the whole thing. Most of the people who are Apple's biggest cheering section are people who go out of their way to wear what everyone else is not wearing and eat where not everyone else is eating. They're the kind of people who like to customize their life and feel like they're independent." - Seth Godin, who's put way too much thought into this.
Expressing your individuality through headphones does not make you an iconoclast. It makes you a self-obsessed prick. And, if I were a betting man, a self-obsessed prick with a fair amount of Polyphonic Spree on your hard drive. It's the classic Subculture Asshole Phenomenon, expressed in gadgetry instead of its usual havens of Internet message boards and convention hotel rooms.
Being a member of a subculture does not make you "special". When that subculture grows and starts merging with the culture, ergo, that does not make you LESS "special". And rebelling against the subculture's growth, running away, and starting a private club of one, raging against the white plastic machine, does not then restore your specialness. You're just wasting your own time and money and pissing the rest of us off at parties in the process. That's the other difference between iconoclasts and self-obsessed pricks. The pricks tell you in excruciating detail how they're being unique.
Of course, Wired being Wired, the only self-obsessed pricks referenced in the article are Godin, an "anonymous New Yorker", and a "friend" of Godin's in a story told... by Godin. I believe the friend in question lives in Canada, and thus, you would not have met her.
The rest of the article consists of fashion and trend experts, who are self-obsessed pricks who get paid good money to project their personal opinion onto the rest of the country.* They spent a lot of time reassuring Wired's readers that iPods were still cool and hip, even though you can buy them in Target now, and some people's co-workers are asking if iPods are appropriate gifs for children aged eight and nine.
The only possible valid excuse for ditching the iPod headphones comes from blogger Josh Rubin, who inadvertently provided it while trying to be a white-headphone booster.
"There's a whole white-cord subculture here in NYC. It's like an unspoken brother/sisterhood on the subways and in the streets." I'd swap out the headphones in an instant if I thought it would save me from Rubin and his ilk, who think we're part of some global shared experience because we own the same brand of gear. But why spend $30 or more on new headphones when shouting "Fuck off, technohippie!" is free, and sounds great?
*You know, put like that, I really think I should be checking the classifieds and figuring out how to fake a resume for trend consulting.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

String 'Em Up, Boys

Fuck politics.
There's just so MUCH of it, and it's interfering with our daily lives. I'd really love to get back to where we were before, and reduce politics to the level of a nuisance... oh, shit. Well, before the commercial attacking me gets aired, I'd like to issue a memo to a significant chunk of America: LAY OFF PARKER AND STONE, DUMBASSES.
Valenti may have stepped down six weeks ago, but the modern MPAA is his fucking Frankenstein, and they really need to take a long, hard look at what their role is supposed to be right now. Because whatever it is, I'm pretty damn sure it's not "protecting" us from naked puppets humping each other.
You are all, I hope, familiar with "Team America: World Police", which opens nationwide this weekend. It's the most important puppet movie since, well, EVER*. It's got puppets shooting things, puppets devouring each other, puppets blowing shit up, and puppets fucking. A lot LESS of the puppet sex than it was going to, of course, thanks to Dan "Valenti's Bun" Glickman and the MPAA.
Because if our nation's children, taken to an R-rated movie by their idiot parents, were to see two naked puppets bumping their faces and crotches against their faces and crotches, they may get the idea that sex is not a purely procreative act performed between two married people on anniversaries and birthdays in the missionary position, but rather an act of pure, selfish hedonism, performed clumsily while hanging from the ceiling by two dozen wires. And we can't have that. Especially now that the crop of Michael Hutchence imitators has finally run its course.
It took Parker and Stone nine attempts to edit the puppet sex scene so that it was acceptable to the MPAA. NINE TIMES. The MPAA must be the most discriminating puppet-sex connoisseurs on the PLANET. They've probably all won Nobel Prizes in puppet sex studies. I hear that in Burbank, they have a secret puppet sex library that rivals the Vatican's rumored porn collection. Nine edits. I wonder if they had to bring Valenti in as a special consultant. Valenti kind of looks like he could be the product of puppet sex, actually.
It's almost as if the MPAA, having been mocked and humiliated by the South Park movie, which then went on to be a critical, commercial, and Oscar-nominated success, decided to vindictively apply different standards to the two men who'd wronged them. But that's not the kind of behavior that befits the "voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video, and television industries", does it?
Let's face it. All the MPAA is these days is an unpaid DVD extras consultant. They pick a bunch of stuff to cut arbitrarily so that children won't see it, and then all that stuff gets put back in for the "shocking" Unrated Naughty Edition of the DVD, freely sold at America's big-box retailers for fifteen bucks and owned and watched by the exact same children that were "protected" by the MPAA.
And on a similar note, Sean Penn's a dick. It's bad enough that his stated reason for being pissed at Parker & Stone is wrong. The South Park guys had the gall to say in an interview that stupid people shouldn't vote. You know why they said that? Because STUPID PEOPLE SHOULDN'T VOTE. And you know why stupid people shouldn't vote? There's a hint in the actual question. Six letters. Starts with "S". No, "Spicoli" is seven letters. Oh, and ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
""It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world." - Sean Penn.
Sean, Sean, Sean. "Disembowelment"? Disembowelment cannot be stopped by the voting of idiots. Idiots are largely pro-disembowelment. Most of them think it's just fine when it happens to filthy brown foreigners, and the rest think it's an unreleased Def Leppard album.
But we know the real reason. It's why you had to deny, over and over again in your letter, that you didn't mind AT ALL being turned into a puppet and made fun of in Team America. You're great with it. It's just that pesky non-voting thing that made you accuse two Colorado guys of singlehandedly causing the world's disembowelment. Uh huh. The fact that more people will see Puppet Penn this weekend than saw Real Penn in the last three years didn't cross your mind at all.
So just back off. America wants... no, America NEEDS puppets right now. Stand in the way of the puppets at your peril. Puppet movies are the future of the industry for at least three more days, after which they will most likely be the past of the industry for another decade or so.
*If Jim Henson didn't want them called puppets, then I don't have to count any of their movies for purposes of ranking or comparison.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Don't Go Back To Huntsville

Fuck politics.
I mean, sure, it was unavoidable, with the debates, and the election only a few weeks away, that the column would turn excessively toward the nation's #1 sport for the stupid and evil, but I'm tired of it. And I bet you are too. Except for the bit about Bush part-owning a timber company, which, since it turned out to be true, is pretty fuckin' funny. "Need some wood", indeed.
But I've felt for a while now that it'd be a good idea to get back to the roots of the column, the kind of thing that I'm known for. Which is why I was so very happy, in my perusals of the news, to stumble across three brand new retarded Texans.
So, with a nostalgic tear in my eye, I would like to issue the following memo to Huntsville, TX residents Bobby Wooderson, Andy Slater, and Richard "Pink" Floyd. YOU ARE DUMB.
The three men, you see, went to school with acclaimed film director Richard Linklater, who, in his admittedly semi-autobiographical movie, "Dazed and Confused", included three characters - David Wooderson, Ron Slater, and Randall "Pink" Floyd. The movie came out in 1993, to modest success, but it apparently took over a decade for it to reach the desert hinterlands of Huntsville, TX, because now that the DVD has been out for two years, the locals have, according to the brand new lawsuit filed on behalf of the retards, made the three men's lives a living hell.
The case, which is being tried in New Mexico because the movie is eleven fucking years old and the New Mexico legal system is kind to slow people, raises a number of interesting legal questions. Can an artist freely utilize his own past to make works of fiction? Is it possible to make life in Huntsville, Texas more of a living hell? And is it possible to have any sympathy whatsoever for a car salesman who has kept his high school nickname of "Pink" Floyd for the past 28 years.
So what form, exactly, did the "relentless harassment, embarassment, and ridicule" take? What cruel emotional torture did these three men suffer to such an extent that they finally got around to taking legal action? The pain must have been unimaginable. Luckily, we don't have to imagine it, because it's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"People make assumptions, basically, that he's [Slater's] involved in illegal drugs." - Attorney Ernest Freeman.
"We had fun in high school, but there is nothing true about that movie. Yet, I am having to deal with it all the time." - "Pink" Floyd.
And when Wooderson brought his son to Harvard, "all the kids there wanted to do was smoke pot with him", according to lead attorney Bill Robins III. Pronoun experts analyzing Mr. Robins' statements were unable to clarify whether it was the father or the son who received the cannabis-related taunting at one of the nation's most respected institutions of higher learning.
That's... pretty much it. No death threats, no vandals painting large "Have A Nice Day" smilies on the plaintiffs' new vinyl siding, just a bunch of pot jokes from a bunch of Texans who ran out of things to rent at Blockbuster and thought "Dazed and Confused" was a season-set of "That 70's Show" with that nice Ashton Kutcher boy in it.
The fact of the matter is, nobody would have made the connection to the movie if any of these guys had been either willing, or able, to GET THE FUCK OUT OF HUNTSVILLE. That's what Linklater did, and he got to make School of Rock. You three stuck around, and all you get to do is sell cars, put in kitchen cabinets, and "work in the technology sector", which is so vague that it probably means "holding the keys to the video game cabinet at Wal-Mart". And all of a sudden, now it's Linklater's fault that your lives suck? Just because people in Huntsville think it's funny to make toking gestures in your direction? Get over it. The people of Huntsville probably think it's funny to tell people the town was named after a guy named Mike.
Why, were it not for your lawyers' strident assurance that you were "not the type of people who are out to get a cheap buck", I would have thought you were precisely the type of people who are otu to get a cheap buck. Also the type of people who don't stay through the credits. Also the type of people who don't read much. I mean, having never seen the movie, I cannot guarantee that the disclaimer about "any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental" is in there, but I bet it is. Of course you weren't nearly as interesting as the characters in the movie. Of course your dialogue was worse. It was a MOVIE.
And you should be thankful it's a movie. 'Cause if it was a documentary, you know what they would have done for the DVD? They'd have come back to Huntsville, cameras in hand, to shoot a special feature about where the three of you are now. And if you think you were relentlessly harassed, embarrassed, and ridiculed for "appearing" in "Dazed and Confused", that hypothetical followup would have you jumping off the nearest bridge.