Monday, December 18, 2006

A WINNER IS YOU!



Reasons I deserve to be named Time Man Of The Year:

-Getting up every morning and doing a job where none of my friends actually know what the hell it is I actually do.

-Being one of the blessed and chosen people. By that I mean people who drive Saturns.

-My karaoke version of Bruce Springsteen's "Rosalita".

-Still supporting the Florida Marlins.

-Voting Democratic in a state where there was no point in doing so.

-Contributing absolutely nothing to YouTube except for sending links to people while saying "lookit this!".

-Riding Sheikra at Busch Gardens 15 times in the course of a year.

-Have only watched 6 minutes total of reality programming in 2006.

-Single-handedly keeping the collarless long sleeve shirt industry alive.

-Had mediocre showing in fantasy football league, thus keeping a balance of knowing enough to be competitive but not knowing enough to be tabbed a rotogeek.

-I hug it out, bitch.

-Did not participate in political blogging at all, even in an election year.

-One of 15 people still watching the NBA on a regular basis.

-My Tex Mex Cassarole

-Being man enough to jump on the bandwagon of my girlfriend's team's Super Bowl run after my own team didn't make the playoffs....and won.

-Knew Borat back when Borat was cool, very nice.

-Didn't quit smoking or drinking, but has not had a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte all year.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Manifesto

OK, it's been a while since I wrote for this here blog. Can't have Eric getting all the glory now can we. The election is over. No one has a mandate except for one or two small items.

First, it was a referendum on Iraq. Anyone with a half a brain understands that the shia's, the sunni's and the kurds ain't getting along. So that means we get out as quickly as possible and turn over the controls to you guessed it, those who are now the elected officials of that country. We can forget about having permanent bases and all that stuff. It isn't worth it. Remember, the current administration didn't serve in Vietnam. Colin Powell did, but when he realized that he had been had, he split. Alot of current and former military leaders are saying that this has been a mistake. Rumsfeld resigned. Thats a good first step. Now it is time for the Vice President to resign. Or he can fall under item two.

Item two. It is time to start talking about impeaching the president and the vice-president. Time to face some facts, they lied and manipulated intelligence to further their desire for regime change in Iraq. Check out the Office of Special Plans. Check out PNAC. PNAC wanted this well before they even got into office. Anyone who checked out Ahmed Chalabi's background knew he couldn't be trusted to provide intelligence on Iraq. But our own government paid him alot for information on weapons of mass destruction. And guess what, have we found any WMD's? NO. Now comes the hard part. Impeachment is a ugly process. But I fear that if we don't, the rest of the world is going to view the US as war criminals. We have already given ourselves a black eye for our go it alone approach. And if your politician doesn't want to impeach the president, we still have one thing we can do. Start a recall effort. If that means every member of congress and the senate has to run again. So be it. We own this country, they work for us. Do not become complacent and think this can't be done. Gray Davis was recalled. He was a govenor. A congress critter has to be much easier. Senators are going to be a pain in the ass. Get rid of the war enablers.

Now we come to what I think this election was really about. It was a bit of populism. Ain't you sick and tired of all the scandals. Abramoff bribing folks. Duke Cunningham. Foley. Ney. Delay. All these folks are getting caught either bribing someone or taking a bribe for a vote. We have real serious problems in this country. They won't get fixed untill we fix the reason these occur in the first place. And we have been lax in our being vigilant. My solutions are below.

1) No more Political Action Committee money. Corporations are not people, neither are not for profits (or NGO's for that matter). I don't give a shit what the supreme court ruled back in the 1800's. Corporations may have the rights of an individual except for one. They are not a person. They cannot vote. So why let them donate money to your elected official? Deny the corporations the right to donate to your politician. if we don't, then the corporations will continue to give money to candidates that will give them what they want. At your expense. And they get to give at 5 grand every congressional cycle. You only get to give a grand.

2) No outside of state funds (except for President). None whatsoever. From dogcatcher to senator. People should be elected on the merits of their ability. Not on who raises the most money. You want to run in Texas, get texans money. The only office one should be able to donate to outside of their state is president. And that means a CEO should be able to donate the same as you or me. A Grand every two years. Thats a congressional election cycle to the nOOb. And I think we should have automatic disqualification for those who accept and use outside money.

3) Equal ballot access. The Democrats and the Republicans have written the rules to get on the ballot to favor, yeah you guessed it, THEM. If they only have to pay a fee, everyone else has to jump through hurdles. Why shouldn't the rest of the parties out there have it as easy? I'm a paleoconservative and I think it's a crock that the other parties are kept at the fringes through ballot access. The reason they don't want to give you a choice is because they are afraid that they will lose their hold on power. And they should be afraid. Alot of democrats and republicans voted for the debacle in Iraq.

These are 3 first good steps. More are sure to follow. I have to go drink alot and forget I was mad about this.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Michael Richards and Spongebob: Racist Bastards?

Let's get at least one ground rule established about Michael Richards' career suicide: anybody who tries to justify his meltdown by saying "Lenny Bruce used the n-word all the time. What the hell, man?" should be beaten like an old rug, because they obviously have no idea who the hell Lenny Bruce was or what he did. Personally, I think ex-Kramer went into verbal street fighter mode, went for a blow below the belt, and he did it in the worst way possible, after which he did the worst possible job of covering his ass.

But somehow--and this probably says awful things about where my head goes at 4 a.m., or how much I really care about this crap--the whole mess reminds me of a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. The episode in question featured Spongebob as a budding stand-up comedian bombing horribly until he strikes on the idea of making jokes about the stupidity of squirrels. Spongebob instantly becomes a superstar, but at the expense of Sandy the Squirrel, who is now being treated like a moron by the sea creatures who should know better. (If you've never seen Spongebob: yes, there is a squirrel at the bottom of this ocean, she's Spongebob's friend, and she's a super genius. In spite of all that, she still hasn't figured out how to lick that hibernation thing.)

Sandy decides to take the active approach, by overloading Spongebob on "stupid squirrel" until he gets it through his thick, water-absorbent head that stereotyping is wrong. All good and well, but wait, there's more: the next night, Spongebob busts out some fresh material about squirrels, himself, and all the different types of fish. Everybody laughs, fade to black.

Now, at the risk of reading too much into what was supposed to be a pro-social cartoon, what the hell is the lesson here? The only one I'm getting is "If you're going to make race jokes, you better be ready to make them about everybody. Especially if they suck."

Today, that young sponge is known as Carlos Mencia. And now you know the rest of the story. Good day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goodwill To Men?

Back to a more altruistic mode... and to offer my benediction for the whole season.

Like the buildup to the holiday, the phony war on Christmas has started earlier this year, so in my small way, I'd like to pre-empt the trumped-up media-manufactured firestorm against anybody who would rather say "Happy Holidays" in the only way I know how: with the gift of Dickens.

My text comes from chapter two of A Christmas Carol, the section where Scrooge is wandering the streets of London with the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is busy spreading good cheer from his torch. If you're wondering, Dickens was talking about a particular blue law proposed in Parliament which would shutter places of amusement on Sundays in an era where the lower classes worked intensely long hours Monday through Saturday, and would have deprived them of what little joy they could achieve on their only day of rest. The main point, however, is much more universal.

“Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?” asked Scrooge.

“There is. My own.”

“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

“To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

“Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

“Because it needs it most.”

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, after a moment’s thought, “I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment.”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all,” said Scrooge. “Wouldn’t you?”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?” said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing.”

“I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit.

“Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge.

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay
claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”



Keep this in mind when the assault of the talking heads begins. One of the many goals of Christmas is to stop being a jerk for a day, or a whole month, with an option to give it up forever. Abusing a door greeter or a cashier because a man on the radio or television tells you the phrase "Happy Holidays" is a conspiracy of the secular left, instead of a different way of passing on the same age old message of goodwill, isn't the reason for the season. If we must take back the holiday, we should take it back from the forces of hate and division.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin here.

Show Me The Channel Changer!

If nothing else, Show Me The Money (which debuted on ABC tonight at 10pm) is environmentally sound, since it's made of 100% recycled elements. We'll get to that in a moment.

The rules and gameplay are pretty convoluted, although it's not that hard to follow if you're paying attention: you are given the opening word or phrase of a possible question, and you have to choose one of three questions blind. You can pass on two questions, but if you do, you are required to give an answer to the third. Then, after "locking in" your answer, you have to choose a dollar amount from one of thirteen dancers. While the totals could add up to $1 million, thirteen is an appropriate number, because one dancer is holding a sort of "whammy" card that takes away everything you earned so far if you don't answer correctly, and then you have to answer a "sudden death" question to stay in the game. Otherwise, if you answer correctly, the dollar amount is added to your total; if not, it's taken away from your total. You have to keep playing until you either get five correct answers or five wrong answers.

As I mentioned, you'd be hard pressed to find a single original idea in this program. The title, of course, is a movie catchphrase connected with absolutely nobody you see on the screen at any time; Cuba Gooding Jr. obviously came down with a case of good taste when this was presented to him. The gorgeous women (and yes, the dancers do have poles available to them at all times) and the dramatic set dressing are a direct swipe from Deal or No Deal. There's a touch of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire because of a quiz element, and the host's "Are you locking in?" request is a blatant "Is that your final answer?" ripoff. The money deduction for wrong answers feels too much like Jeopardy. As for the dancer who takes all your money away (life imitates art for some of you, I'm sure), I'm trying to decide if that's more of a Press Your Luck swipe or the Bankrupt option on Wheel of Fortune. It's all so depressingly familiar, even if you have a better chance of walking away with big money than on DOND. Your host is William Shatner, and dammit, of all the times for him to stop with the overacting, this was the worst possible moment. This program cries out for a double serving of ham, Bill. It's down to you.

In summary: What an awful show. What an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, AWWWWWWWWWWWWWFUL show. It's the laziest type of bad television, a Frankenstein monster strung together from pieces of more successful shows, as if the producers couldn't choose a gameshow trend to jump on, so they decided to use them all. They'd have to try harder to be unambitious. The only reason I watched any of it is because I assume this show will be gone in a few weeks, to make room for Full Contact Roller Derby With the B-List Stars, or whatever desperation move ABC tries to whip on us next.

A note to west coasters: John Laroquette is on House tonight. If you want to gawk at the car wreck, there will still be an hour available after Doctor House gets through risking a patient's life. Make the right choice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Unsettling Corporate Trend of the Moment

When I first heard the word "crowdsourcing" applied to the way Ganett was going to run its newspapers from now on, I thought to myself, "FINALLY, print journalism with the integrity and oversight of your typical Wikipedia page!"

Yeah, I know it has to be more involved that, but the whole concept just sounds so chintzy. It's one thing for CNN to invite "citizen journalists" to contribute news videos and another to hand a huge chunk of the newsroom over to presumably unpaid regular people. As a recovering wrestling fan, and reader of wrestling news sites, I'm very familiar with the level of quality you can expect from amateurs who suddenly have an overinflated sense of self importance. A lot of it is awful enough to read for free, but buying a subscription for home delivery? That just hurts.

(Wait just a second..."amateur", "overinflated sense of self importance", "awful to read"... If it wasn't for the fact that I only pretend that people read this, that could be used against me. And if you do, add "false modesty" to that list.)

All that aside, it also sounds like a great way for a clever person with a vendetta to screw somebody over in a most public way, and as history has taught us, that should be left only to trained professionals.

(Edit on 11/7: And now, an opposing viewpoint...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Catching The Infamous Six Word Story Meme

A lot of people are being inspired by the Very Short Stories from this month's Wired, so for once, I'm jumping on to a trend before the ass end reaches me:
  • Sorry, wrong house. Don't shoot again.
  • My leg's gone! Tasted good, though.
  • My double lives in my pancreas.
  • Parallel world: Katherine Harris, beloved televangelist.

The last one was a cheap shot, I know...sorry televangelists, I won't do it again. Today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Showcase Slowdown

One of my silent partners just dropped a bombshell in my lap, and of course, I was running a log. And you are there:

DRUMMAJORMAN: so guys, Bob Barker is retiring next year :(
EasyEW: Who takes over?
DRUMMAJORMAN: Does it matter?
SonnyChiba: One of his many illegitimate sons?
EasyEW: He is the last game show standing
EasyEW: Unless the daytime version of Deal or No Deal takes off
SonnyChiba: And he even found time to whip Sandler's ass
DRUMMAJORMAN: There's only one way the Price Is Right can end
SonnyChiba: Him whipping Sandler's ass again?
DRUMMAJORMAN: there has to be a prize like a Cadillac made out of gold
DRUMMAJORMAN: and some senile old fat woman gets on stage
DRUMMAJORMAN: and all she has to do to win is write the word "CAR"
DRUMMAJORMAN: and she'll panic and take 10 minutes to do it while the audience throws things
DRUMMAJORMAN: I still love the picture of Trent Reznor in the front row of TPIR with his grandfather
SonnyChiba: hahaha
SonnyChiba: how old is the picture?
DRUMMAJORMAN: 90's sometime
DRUMMAJORMAN: you can tell it's him
SonnyChiba: oh man
SonnyChiba: that makes it even better
DRUMMAJORMAN: but he's wearing normal clothes and has a big goofy grin on his face
SonnyChiba: hahaha
EasyEW: Dear god, he's *83*?
SonnyChiba: and yet, he could probably still whip Sandler's ass

I know that Trent Reznor pic was crying out for the YTMND treatment, but why Yakkety Sax?

But enough of that viral video nonsense, I say. Here's to Bob Barker's magnificent career. And to him kicking Adam Sandler's ass.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"I'm greatly amused at the moment."

In the latest entry in our alarmingly expanding series of 50-word-or-less article alerts (see, it does make us dumber just thinking about it), Honored Canadian Individual James Kalyn tells us one more dumb thing you can do to get your name in a national newspaper.

Monday, October 23, 2006

And Speaking of Ridiculous...

If you've watched 1 Vs. 100 on NBC, you must have said to yourself at some point, "Hey, I'm not going to be watching 1 Vs. 100 on NBC very much longer!" Ken Jennings, currently America's most famous super genius (pronounced "soooooooooooooooooooper geeeeeeeeenyus", just like in the cartoons), was stuck inside the Mob for the first block of tapings, and no matter how bad it looked from the comfort of your armchair, it was a grimmer spectacle from the inside. Recently, Ken graciously sat down with...um...himself for an exclusive interview.

Your Monday Morning Benediction for October 23, 2006

Because I'm hellbent to make this some type of recurring feature, here's a little snippet of Voltaire, suitable for bumper stickers or campaign flyers:
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

That's my default away message on AIM, by the way. And somewhere, someone's directing that prayer against me. And it's working.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mommy, I'm Scared!

You may have dodged this earlier in the year, but what the hell, I'm cramming it down your throat now. Since rebellion is a pose and all the rough edges of your misspent youth are being scrubbed smooth for future repackaging, here's Dev2.0 scarifying your memories of the true spudheads with their Kidz Bop-style take on "Whip It." This is truly for the young and unmutated, because I keep flashing back to the..achHEM...bullwhip tricks in the original video. Very inappropriate on multiple levels.

And once your kids have been scrubbed clean between the ears, show them this Christian UFOlogy kids show and they'll never be right again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chicken Scratch

There's a blog called "Holy Cats!" which is made up of photographs and transcriptions of what the blogger calls "historical ephemera" (diaries, journals, and letter). When a number of us started flipping through the digitized pages of the 1904 diary that inspired the project, we were enthralled with how much of this guy's world was represented online--the pictures of flying carousels the guy rode while trying to make time with the local girls, complete texts of the books with which he poisoned his turn-of-the-century mind, and the tunes he danced to were all very easy to find. To be two clicks away from these things helped make everything so much clearer in an instant.

Of course, the diary itself was potentially problematic in that respect. Not the state of the physical artifact: it was in great shape, with pages that are far too white for a book over 100 years old, and the diary keeper's handwriting was well above average, with those wonderful flourishes that old documents often have (I especially love the swooping loop on his capital W). However, our modern blogger feels the need to transcribe the text for those who had trouble reading longhand. When she first told us her reasons for the transcriptions, it took me awhile to fully process the implications. After all, I know that many people can't read my handwriting, but the concept of young adults who are otherwise literate not being able to read longhand at all...what alternate universe have I found myself in, and who's the president? Please don't say "Cheney".

Keeping all that in mind, I really should have been ready for the Official Word, but I was still floored when I ran across this Washington Post article which once again proves that the world that I grew up in is dead (and I'm Gen X, so everybody over 30 should be very scared): thanks to schools teaching computer keyboarding at younger ages, some as young as kindergarten, the emphasis on longhand and penmanship are in sharp decline, and the schools are so hung up on the standardized tests that very few of them give a toss. "No child left behind" my ass.

To encapsulate my horror, let me walk you through what I'm up against when I sit down to write anything more than a few sentences long with a computer. With a good old dead tree notebook, I start at the beginning and push through with some semblance of order, but give me something that lets me write things down in any sequence I like (the edit window of a blog interface, for instance) and you're lucky to get a finished product out of me at all. Most often in these types of entries, I start from the middle (usually the link) and let things fly off in both directions at once, which doesn't encourage the type of linear thought to pull off a proper article. To make matters worse, I'm a compulsive self-editor, so I jump back and forth in the text window doing drive-by corrections. Combine that with my recurring absent-mindedness, and you end up with something that has more holes than the results of that other kind of drive-by. The kind that I never spot until after I hit that "publish" button.

Through trial and error, I've found out that good old pen and paper work best for what I consider serious writing, but it's gotta be right. Loose leaf paper isn't good enough, not even a spiral bound notebook--it's too easy to backpedal, Jack. Moment of doubt...rip...garbage. No good. I'm almost positive the only thing that keeps me on task will be a stitched notebook, the kind that you find at drug or dollar store. A non-erasable writing tool and a medium with no delete key imposes an immutable discipline that some of us desperately need if we ever want to get anything done. There will be plenty of time for tweaks when I have a complete text in front of me, which doesn't happen very often when I compose on the screen.

(No, the fact that "composing on the screen" is what I'm doing now doesn't kill my argument. It's 6 a.m. and my inner editor doesn't come on duty before 7. Shut up and let me finish so I can double back and add an introduction.)

And of course, I have to agree with the experts that handwriting has an personal touch the machine approach smooths over. In fact, the trend away from script seems to point to a fundamental change in the concept of "the personal touch" in the digital age. Think about it: would a witchcraft spell have the same allure with the arcane, forbidden words printed on that parchment with a 21 point Times New Roman font spit out of your Hewlett-Packard? Would Sotheby's earn top dollar for William Shakespeare's vCard, or his OpenOffice backups for the First Folio? And what about all of those sad-eyed handwriting analysts? They gotta eat, too.

As jokey as my examples are, this is the reason above all others that worries the hell out of me when I read about teachers who don't see a problem with penmanship going the way of buggy whips and heroin in pharmacies. It's a paradox, I know, that a clearer way of communicating turns out to be just one more layer placed between us. But to me, a letter from a word processor feels like business, and a letter in longhand still feels like home.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Knife For The Spin Doctor

There's a slim chance that Mark Foley will be leaving the front pages soon (just call it a hunch), but I found something in this week's Democratic Underground Top 10 that was too good to get a free pass. And it's an argument I can knock flat in five seconds:

Open or suspected homosexuals should never be elected. The problem with homosexuals is that they frequently don't have common sense and don't acknowledge appropriate boundaries. Weird sex, public displays of "affection" and nudity, and sex with youth are built into the "gay" sub-culture.
--Linda Harvey, WorldNetDaily


Furries, Paris Hilton, and Mary Kay Letourneau. See? Didn't even take five seconds. And no, if you really want to find WorldNetDaily, I'm not about to help you. That's what Google's for.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm THIS Close To Recycling Michael Jackson Jokes

Since obviously Matt won't do this for himself, I hereby let his Mark Foley joke serve notice that the list of humor that's beneath us is a short one:

Why do librarians hate Mark Foley?
He's always bending over the pages.

And if that's not bad enough, here's one of mine:

Why is Mark Foley's wine cellar so pitiful?
Because he'd never put his mouth on anything over 18 years old.

Okay, now it's your turn. And remember, I'm not doing this just because I'm a liberal. I'm doing this because a guy who helped write the laws in this country about overage guys trying to get in the pants of underage kids is an overage guy trying to get in the pants of underage kids, and while a lot of spinmeisters want you to think all this makes him a victim, what it really makes him is a jerk. Making snide remarks about jerks is what we do in this country. Anyway, I can't let Wonkette have all the fun. Cocktober Surprise indeed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

FREAK SHOW IS A FREAK SHOW

If you missed Freak Show last Wednesday on Comedy Central, I'm going to save you a lot of trouble: Freak Show sucks balls. The big, hairy, smelly balls of the guy at your gym that you never see shower after workouts, so he probably carries the funk of a week's worth of crotch sweat.

I never said this would be pretty.

The program depicts the members of a family-owned freak show, the members of which lead a double life as superpowered government operatives known as the Freak Squad. They're invariably chosen to do the crap jobs the "real" heroes are too good to touch. It's bad enough that the cartoon is barely animated and unappealingly designed, but it commits the most unforgivable sin for a comedy show: it simply isn't funny. Some of us suspect that it's intentionally awful to make the atrocious Mind of Mencia seem almost entertaining by contrast. Either way, with its random "zany" incidents, it seems like Comedy Central is trying to steal a page from the Adult Swim playbook--the old AS playbook, before Venture Brothers upped the ante across the board. And anybody who has known me long enough knows that I use the word "zany" as the comedy equivalent of "child molester". Or "running kittens over with a minibike".

Don't watch this show. Ever. If you do, I refuse to pity you and will find you and mock you in the depths of your pain. And yes, Freak Show sucks worse than Tom Goes To The Mayor, but TGTTM still SUCKS.

(Footnote: in my ongoing series "Fun With The Spellchecker", Blogger wanted to replace "Mencia" with "menace". It's funny because it's true.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sitting On Your Ass

While I'm waiting for Matt to get pissed off enough to rip Congress a new one for their anti-online-poker initiatives (WHY WON'T YOU GET ANGRY, GOHAN?), Stephen King just wrote another article about the glories of the writer's life. "Dig this: The so-called "writing life" is basically sitting on your ass."

Truthiness!

Blah blah blah Fox News lies.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Your Monday Morning Benediction for September 25, 2006

To make up for half-assing it last week, today's benediction is from one of the late great radio men, Jean Shepherd. From a 1957 Mad Magazine--back when the magazine was actually interesting--comes a lecture for our times as much as Shep's, "The Night People vs. 'Creeping Meatballism'"

If you have the Mad CD-ROM set from a few years back, this was one of the articles they had to leave out, so it's new to you, too.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Karr Go? Beep Beep.

You remember that guy who said he "was with" JonBenet Ramsey when she died, only it turns out he was just a deluded fruitcake who was nowhere near the state at the time and just had an unhealthy thing for kids? Well, now we kick his story up to the next level of the ridonkulous.

On the same day that Karr was offered a plea bargain (which he turned down, by the way), the Sonoma County authorities announced that not only have they lost the laptop PC that contained Karr's kiddie porn collection, but it's probably been missing for four years. They say they still have an image of the hard drive, but this is starting to get sad.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On The Air On The Bargain Rack

If you're interested in media history at all, you should already have a copy of On The Air by John Dunning. One of the most comprehensive reference works on the type of radio program the broadcast networks presented in pre-TV days, I can't recommend it highly enough, but if you had to have it on the day it came out, you bought it through Amazon with the exact same $13 discount they're still offering off of list price eight years later. This is why I'm jealous as hell that the book is now being offered directly from the publisher for under $20 for what I assume will be a limited time.

Totally serial, folks, if you've ever been interested in the Depression-through-postwar era, broadcasting, or just want some evidence for your tedious "it's been done before" rants (and I'll be getting to those again before too long), you should make room on your bookshelf for On The Air. Not only is it full of useful information about famous and obscure radio shows, but it's written in a style which makes it great pleasure reading, too.

And of course, the standard disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Oxford University Press in any way and I don't get any money for this plug. So there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Your Monday Benediction For September 18, 2006

What the hell do you mean I forgot? What do you mean Monday's almost over? One man's night is another's late, late, late, late afternoon, punk. Oh fine, let me just throw a few random things at you and you can take whatever you choose. The first one is for Doom:

You don't know anything about a woman until you meet her in court. --Norman Mailer

No? How about:

The trouble with incest is that it gets you involved with relatives. --George S. Kaufman

Ugh. Okay, I think this one's a keeper:

There is only one good substitute for the endearments of a sister, and that is the endearments of some other fellow's sister. --Josh Billings (1818-1885)

Fine. I'm done.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blonde on Blonde

My mom asked me the other day why the Today Show felt they had to bring in Meredith Vieira instead of promoting from within and making Ann Curry the permanent co-host instead of sending her back to the news desk. The answer seemed pretty obvious to me: from Barbara Walters on, the female cohost has always been a blonde. I love Ann, but she didn't stand a chance.

It was also obvious that today's show was going to be about fawning over Vieira, and when they showed the 1988 Esquire picture (multiple times), we got another hint why Meredith was heir apparent. "At least I was wearing clothes!" she said as she pulled out a recent magazine with a candid snap of Matt in speedos. And to just pile it on, we cut to a clip of George W. asking Matt to autograph the picture before Matt really gave him something to laugh about.

Fine, get it out of your system, then get back to the nation's business...of how to feel sexy over 50 or whatever the hell the later hours have been about this summer. The Media Research Center has been freaking out over Vieira being "a megaphone for the liberal cause", which would hold more water if Today was actually about news most of the time. Whatever hard news content a typical Today has tends to land in the first hour, the other two hours given over to lifestyle segments, inspirational people stories, and celebrity chat, except for extraordinary circumstances. It takes something like 9/11 to remind us that they can do something unspeakably heavy (I had forgotten until the MSNBC repeat on Monday that even Al Roker was providing useful information about the towers in the moments immediately following the impact.) But on average days, the closer we get to Regis and Kelly time, the fluffier it gets. A toot and a snore to get you out the door, that's our Studio 1A, and I won't deny you if that's what you need.

As for the new studio, the one that's all about "hi-def", it's loaded with neutral colors, there's a couch and a coffee table, and I honestly can't tell the difference from before. This is what the NBC carpenters did with their summer?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On

The benediction thing would be a bit silly today. I don't want to do it, you probably don't want to read it, and neither of us will be getting paid for it anyway.

I made an oath when the first anniversary of this day came around: to make a florid show in public over total strangers for total strangers seemed too much like making this tragedy about myself, so I wouldn't say anything on my rotten little blog if I couldn't bring anything useful to the table. Sadly, that seems to be contrary to the direction the national debate has taken, where everything is more about scoring debate points on the other side than actually solving anything.

So the most useful thing I can do today is be simple: On September 11, 2001, 2,997 people set out on their day--either in a plane, at World Trade Center, or at the Pentagon--and never made it home. The only thing the majority of them did wrong that day was show up.

The man who sent death our way is still at large, and how his capture wasn't our sole focus over the past five years is a national disgrace. I have no problem with "never forget." I just want people to remember it correctly in the first place.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Who cares.

Supposedly, ABC has started a internet firestorm with the mini-series docudrama about 9/11. First off, this movie is going to paint the Clinton administration in a bad light for failing to get Osama Bin Laden. I am no fan of the Clinton Admin, I think he did alot to damage our national security. Could they have gotten Bin Laden? Probably, but if the Dan Rather report about Bin Laden being in Pakistan and having dialysis on September 10th, 2001 is true. Then I have to ask, why haven't the current admin found enemy number one?

Maybe they don't want to find him. Why would you want to find your Emmanuel Goldstein? What would happen to all those folks at Homeland Security? Would we still need a alert color code? Cause that color code sure seems to get used alot and the politicians use as a us or them in power, who do you trust to defend you. And if after 5 years of hunting Bin Laden and not finding him, I have to ask, Do You Really Feel Safer?

So in retrospect, I could care less what ABC is going to show. Because I am one of those who believe in LIHOP. That stands for Let It Happen On Purpose. 9/11 should not have happened. I don't care what the government says. I don't care what the media says. 9/11 has become synonymous with the war on terror. Or what I like to call it, the fully funded military/industrial complex act.

We have met the enemy, and they are us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monday Morning Tuesday Afternoon Benediction for September 5, 2006

And now to today's benediction, which would've been yesterday's benediction except that it was a holiday, and who would be ridiculous enough to spend a holiday in front of a computer? Since last week's was Mark Twain for the readers, it's only fair I throw a scrap of the old man to the writers today:

"If you invent two or three people and turn them loose in your manuscript, something is bound to happen to them -- you can't help it; and then it will take you the rest of the book to get them out of the natural consequences of that occurrence, and so first thing you know, there's your book all finished up and never cost you an idea."

And if you don't like that one, or if you're not a writer, here's a thought from Mark Evanier's Jerry Lewis Telethon wrapup:

Something interesting has happened to this telethon in the last decade
or so and it's because of Jerry. Back in the seventies, he took a lot of heat for its excesses, its pandering, its promotion of his friends and their careers. But back then, he was just a comedian whose TV shows got cancelled and whose movie career had atrophied. The cause seemed to be promoting Jerry Lewis instead of the other way around.

That was then, this is now. As we've bemoaned on this site before, we're running out of legendary comics. We're going to wake up one morning soon and the Elder Statesman of Comedy will be a Wayans brother.

Monday, September 04, 2006

PLUG! PLUG! PLUG! Yeah, That's Right, Three of 'Em...

Because I really need to get back into the habit of looking for these types of things, here's a few link sausages for you...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Your Monday Morning Benediction For August 28, 2006

This one's for da kidz, y'all...

The last public school systems are going back in the next week or so, and in the next several months you will face the bugaboo known as "required reading". The teacher will tell you that it's good for you in the long term, but hey, you're sixteen, you know better! Today's benediction is from somebody was older than sixteen and really did know better:

"I haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone." -- Mark Twain, Letter to Joseph Twichell, 9/13/1898

You might think the point of this quote is "You are not alone," but Twain's been dead for a hundred years and not available to take your case to the school board. As for Pride and Prejudice, I already read the damn book, so you won't be getting any sympathy from me. You want to be treated like an adult, you gotta take your lumps like one. Cliff's Notes are for cowards.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The friday night rant.

Another week has gone by and no one is yelling out their window "I'm fed up and I'm not going to take it anymore!". I was talking with a good friend back in Houston a few days ago. Somehow the topic became the cost of gas and we both agreed that we are taking it up the you know what. Back under the last commander and thief, Slick Willie, yada yada yada, the cost of a gallon of gas was alot cheaper. Back around 98 it was 79.9 for cryin' out loud (in Houston, your mileage may vary). We have no one but ourselves to blame. Folks voted and we got the government we deserve.

I make no bones about my disdain for the current administration. Their proclivity for using national security and propaganda is mind boggling. Whenever they sense the publics support for their actions waning, they trot out their Emmanuel Goldstein, Osama Bin Laden. I mean c'mon folks. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan. He masterminded the 911 attack and it has been nearly 5 years and we can't find his tall skinny behind? We found Saddam didn't we. Can't we find this guy?

And call me a jaded paleocon if you must, but can someone explain to me why the heck we are in Iraq to begin with? Were any of the 911 terrorists from Iraq? NO. Most were from Saudi Arabia. Why aren't we spreading democracy there? Oh wait, they told us to get lost. And forget about using the bases they let us use in Gulf 1. Nothing makes much sense anymore. But a pox on both parties for their ineffectualness in dealing with any crisis over the last 30 years.

Thats enough for everyone.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Only Survivor I Recognize Played "Eye of the Tiger"

The topic of the next Survivor season being divided across racial lines just came up on MSNBC a little over an hour and a half ago. I hit the mute button when the designated white guy (Lionel, a syndicated radio talk show host who apparently doesn't give out a last name) actually held up a finger and melodramatically said "a-HA!" when Jacques De Graff, on Lionel's prodding, restated that his organization was called 100 Black Men, as if this revealed something ominous and incriminating about the man's motivation. Nobody mentioned at any point what a blatant crock it was to have a white guy and a black guy play point-counterpoint with this "issue", attempting to segregate the debate over racial lines as if white people at this late date wouldn't resent the hell out of a whites vs. "minorities" gimmick, too. I suspect De Graff realized the ridiculousness of the whole exercise; he burst out laughing several times.

I'm calling shenanigans on this overinflated controversy. We'll get to that part in a moment, but first, a few paragraphs of me attempting to be a superior dick about why none of this should matter to me. Remember, I usually tell you up front.

I have little patience with fake news, and Survivor-related fake news would normally be a non-issue for me since I refuse to watch the bulk of so-called "reality" television. People question me about this decision, dismissing a genre out of hand like that. After all, there are several different types of reality show. They don't all have the dreaded game show element like Survivor does. But really, you could say the same thing about porn. Some people don't like the concept of porn, won't watch it, won't go near it, and on most days refuse to even think about it. If you walk up to these people, you could say, "Well, it's not all the same, man...if you like butt sex, you can find all-butt tapes, and if you like regular people who don't fake it, there are amateur tapes, and if you don't want to keep that erection...hey, there's always Ron Jeremy!"

The definitive answer, the one that stops the argument before it starts: "I don't like watching people screw." If they reject the basic concept, it doesn't matter what you decorate it with.

In a similar vein, I reject reality television as a rule because I'm distrustful of the unpleasant types of people who tend to be featured on those shows. There are always exceptions, of course, but that first hurdle is always the biggest one to get over. When I was coaxed into submitting myself to watching Unan1mous this spring, the most outstanding facet of the show was the universally repellent nature of the participants. Everybody turned out to be a punk and a manipulative jerk at one point or another, and really, how the hell can you care about something like that?

(Sidebar: the Blogger spellchecker wanted to replace Unan1mous with "inane". I enjoy small touches like that.)

In the interest of full disclosure, what helped me come to this decision was watching the first season of the Real World--first of the breed--in its entirety before deciding that life was too short to subject myself to that attention-whoring tripe year after year. That was 1992, and there's still no end in sight. This is a trend that's way overdue to run its course.

Having said all that, let's return to the fake issue at hand for a moment. The segregation situation is a calculatedly "edgy" angle to the new season, a cheap stunt designed solely to get people making all kinds of noise about Survivor again. And it's working! It was on every channel this morning! Hell, even I took the bait, and I don't get paid for this, so I can afford to be choosy...

My advice: this fall, watch The Office instead. You'll thank me for it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Pablo Casals of Bitterness

My first picture post on this blog is a quick sketch of George Carlin from March of this year. I could've nailed it, except I'm not used to moving targets.


The HBO special from which I took my model was last year's Life Is Worth Losing, and the first thing that struck me when I saw it was how tired and (gasp) old Carlin looked as he came on stage. "Well, he was in his 30s when Occupation: Foole came out, so it's about to be expected..."

Then he started in on a 20-30 minute riff on The Suicide Channel, and the years just fell away.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Your Monday Morning Benediction for August 21, 2006

This morning's week-starter takes us back to Brooklyn, NY 1855, when a slim volume called Leaves of Grass was published for the first time. The edition was funded by the author, Walt Whitman, in a relatively small edition that only showed up New York City and Brooklyn stores. One of the most remarkable of the first wave of reviews (and if you know why, don't tell the rest of the class just yet) appeared unsigned in the September 1855 edition of the United States Review:

An American bard at last! One of the roughs, large, proud, affectionate, eating, drinking, and breeding, his costume manly and free, his face sunburnt and bearded, his posture strong and erect, his voice bringing hope and prophecy to the generous races of young and old. We shall cease shamming and be what we really are. We shall start an athletic and defiant literature. We realize now how it is, and what was most lacking. The interior American republic shall also be declared free and independent. <...>

Self-reliant, with haughty eyes, assuming to himself all the attributes of his country, steps Walt Whitman into literature, talking like a man unaware that there was ever hitherto such a production as a book, or such a being as a writer. Every move of him has the free play of the muscle of one who never knew what it was to feel that he stood in the presence of a superior. Every wood that falls from his mouth shows silent disdain and defiance of the old theories and forms. Every phrase announces new laws; not once do his lips unclose except in conformity with them.

And it goes on like that for quite some time. If all that sounds a little partisan, it's because the review was penned by Walt Whitman himself. There's nothing wrong with self-promotion if you can deliver. And if you can't deliver...well, at least it gives you a hobby.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It All Makes Perfect Sense Now

I thought I recognized the style of JonBenet Ramsey suspect John Mark Karr when I first saw it. This guy shops from the Dorcus Collection.

If you're familiar at all with the House of Dorcus, you'll be able to spot the one major faux pas in Mr. Karr's fashion decision: sure, the collar of the shirt is buttoned to the top, giving him that ominously creepy vibe that says "men's fashion lives here", but those sleeves are unbecomingly loose. In the classic Dorcus style, the sleeve cuffs are supposed to be blood-deprivingly tight, eventually making the arms nothing more than vestigial appendages that flail Muppet-like in a stiff breeze. Lose the loose shirts, you bloody hippie. If your skin was supposed to breathe, it'd have a row of tiny mouths running down the arms...mouths that whisper secrets in your quiet moments to haunt your nightmares.

But I digress...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oh Lord, It's Hard To Be Humble...

...or should that be "I don't care what you say, I'm not about to go to the third world just to pick up women"? Either way, it's yet another reason I'm going to Hell. You can blame my silent parter Matt for the inspiration.

The easy route when you read someone's resume about why they're priced out of your social market is to bag on the type of ego (or, more likely, the quality of boredom) that would cause a sane woman to whip up something like that. However, I refuse to do things the easy way (edit: and anyway, that's what everybody else did already), so instead, with tongue firmly in cheek, let's run a PMI analysis on moving to an impoverished nation just to expand your social horizons:

THE PLUS COLUMN:
  • You can definitely stretch that $20 your grandma gave you for your birthday in a country in a country where the minimum wage is 12 cents an hour.
  • There's a lot to be said for making a first date out of heckling the college kids who didn't realize the Peace Corps would put your ass to work.
  • You remember that gift sampler of Spam that you just can't get rid of? Panty peeler, son.
  • You always wanted to meet Sally Struthers, right? There she is! And her camera crew! You're gonna be on TV!
  • She won't care if that's a Pacer you're driving, as long as it runs. And you can hook a plow to it.
  • You'll find out that "being tidy" is a relative concept.
  • Unwanted "surprises"? Meet "infant mortality rate"!

THE MINUS COLUMN:

  • Tell them you're an American. Go on. I dare you. (This may also go for the British. Canadians don't have this problem as much, but people will make fun of your concept of bacon for some reason.)
  • If the Catholic missionaries got there before you, don't even think about birth control.
  • You think being chased out of the house by a crazy dad with a kitchen knife is bad? Try a machete.
  • You just got held up by a group of hungry looking men. They even took your shoes, bubba. Call the cops? Don't be ridiculous, those were the cops!
  • Doctors Without Borders will not do tit jobs no matter how hard you beg.
  • Your car gets blown up by angry rebels in the jungle? Yeah, Allstate isn't covering that.
  • The nearest "ATM" is a guy living at the foot of a mountain with a pack of vicious dogs and a fully-stocked armory. His service charge? It ain't gonna be $2, buddy.
  • Love is a universal language...potable water, less so.

THE INTERESTING COLUMN:

  • It will be interesting for you to find out what different cultures do to guys who like to screw without repsonsibility.
  • It will be interesting to see how you run your XBox without electricity.
  • It will be interesting to see how long it takes your new sweetheart to roll your stupid Yankee/Limey/whatever ass for your wallet. And if she takes the credit card, too.
  • Many cultures marry off their girls at 14-15 years. It will definitely be interesting to see you explain that to the folks back home.
  • I can't wait to see what your blog entries will look like: "Current mood: being eaten alive by malaria-infested insects."
  • And finally, when that Jacqueline woman tells you she only said that to shut you up after you brag about how well her advice worked, it will be absolutely fascinating to see the blood drain from your face.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Your Monday Morning Benediction for August 14, 2006

This week's Monday morning benediction was inspired by a random hit on a random blog. This being a total stranger who wasn't warned, I wouldn't feel right cutting and pasting, so you're going to have to trust me that it's a good link. Just click through and come back when you're done.

Keeping all the above in mind, here's a poem by Jeffrey Ross, another stranger, but one who's a stand-up comedian. I figure he's probably used to being ripped off by now--just not with full attribution. It's called "Why I Love My Gangsta Bitch Girlfriend":

I knelt on one knee
and took her hand in mine.
I said "I want you to be my lover,
my wife, my bride."
She looked at me and said, "NIGGA PLEASE!"
And then she stabbed me in the face.
And that's why I love my gangsta bitch girlfriend.

Tip your wait staff, everybody...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Let's Just Rub Their Noses In It Some More

So, do you want to see if your AOL search got broadcast to clued-in geeks by the leak? Or do you just want to make sick fun of anonymous strangers? (ohohohME SIR ME SIR) It's all here in easy to search form, chum. Or you can have a professional make the jokes for you. Either way, it's proof that Internet people think they have more privacy than they do.

(Edit @ 6pm: Another search tool, AOL Naked, gives you clickable keywords in the results themselves, which is a nifty trick. Get those advanced search options going and you've got my vote, Naked Guy. It's a testament to the wigged out supply-and-demand cycle of the Internet that we have dueling links on this type of thing barely a week after the initial file came out. Anyone else on the market?)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dreadful Possibilities

You're standing in an interminable line at a US international airport. Although everybody's tired, a few glance at the CNN feed on every other monitor giving the ongoing rundown of the British situation. A man in a security vest is walking the line explaining the new baggage requirements, and a few dispirited people actually sit down on the floor to sort their carry-ons for easier access. You're looking over the shoulder of a lanky young man; somehow you think you should recognize him, but no, it couldn't be...

The man in the safety vest is still shouting over the din. "And we've just received word that flights to the UK are under code red, so absolutely no liquids are allowed on board."

The young man twitches, looks around nervously, and darts for the entrance. Safety vest man grabs his radio. "Aw crap, we've got a runner at gate 25!"

The man never drops the bag hanging from his shoulder, and papers fly out of the open side pocket. He has the speed, but security has the numbers. They're within a few yards of the man when he puts on an extra burst of speed, almost outmaneuvering the squad behind him, but looking back to gauge his progress is a mistake since he doesn't see the huge officer that clocks him with a forearm. He was barely five feet from the entrance to the parking garage when he found out how the floor tasted.

There is a struggle and blows are thrown. Sympathetic stares and mumbles of "excessive force" are heard from bystanders a few feet away. Finally, the security detail begin to drag the limp and beaten runner past you in handcuffs. The head of the security detail, red faced, grabs the prisoner and shakes him. "That was an unbelievably stupid stunt. What the hell is your problem, son?"

He's still struggling for his breath. "Buh...buh..."

"What's that again?"

And then it dawns on you what you're trapped inside. Dear God, don't let him say it...

He lifts his head, speaking loud enough to be heard down the corridor. "But what's going to happen to my icy cold Sierra Mist?" Your worst fears have been realized. It's the bruised face of Michael Ian Black.

The suddenly coy head security officer pockets the unopened bottle from the backpack. "Well, you know, we have to taste these things...to be sure they're what you say they are." At that moment, all the monitors flash those soon-to-be-infamous words: SIERRA MIST--DON'T LET THE TERRORISTS WIN YOUR THIRST.

Applause and laughter ripple down the line, but you just scowl at the quickly retreating group in disgust. "Goddamn product placement."

Just a little more

Just a little more inconvenience they are saying. You won't mind. Are your papers in order? I'm sorry, we can't allow that on the plane. Make sure to take your unruly pills too. Can't have folks getting upset about waiting 3 hours for a plane ride.

I haven't even read or actually even seen anything about this on the telly. But maybe this wouldn't be happening if we didn't have such a meddling foreign policy towards the middle east. Like the president likes to talk about spreading democracy throughout the region. Iraq, maybe it's a quagmire. I don't know. But the Sunni's and Shia's and Kurds sure seem to be on a course towards civil war. Lebanon, Hezbollah became a political force and got folks elected to the government. Sure seems to be spreading democracy. Afghanistan, how many provinces are under the governments control? Has the Taliban really came back?

Maybe we should leave folks alone. Cause the War on Terror sounds alot more like a war on islam. Killing folks is gonna do nothing but make more of those left behind want to kill us. It doesn't matter how much money or how many bodies we throw at this. It seems pretty unwinnable. There are a billion followers of Islam. How many of us are there?

This is gonna end badly for us. They have control of alot of the world's oil supplies. The also have friends like Chavez, who is also threatening to turn off the spigots if we invade Iran. How many SUV drivers really want to pay 5 dollars a gallon?

Just some thoughts and questions. Have a pleasant night.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Drinks On A Plane

It was a good day in the sense that nobody died.

Never mind the fact that the next time I fly, it's going to require even more of a wait than it normally does, although I do have the benefit of operating out of a relatively small airport and any of the hubs that I have to go through, I'm already on the other side of the terminal gate, so I've never had to deal with waiting in line at the checkpoint in a place like Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, which at a busy time (read: always) is the 8 th circle of hell. For that, I'm fortunate. Also, I take solace in the fact that I don't depart from what could be considered a primary target. Or a secondary target. No, Tallahassee Regional is the airport that would be under siege if in fact all of the other airports in North America prove too hard to crack. This includes London, Ontario, where there's only two sitting room terminals, one baggage claim belt and a whole lotta DeHavelands flying in and out. But yet that's the city I happened to be in on 9/11 and even we didn't know if something was going to fall out of the sky.

It's actually presumptuous to say this was Al Queda, since we don't know exactly who was trying to gum up the works at Heathrow this morning. I feel bad for any other terrorist cell in the world sometimes, since AQ's existence for everyone else has gotta be like being John Mayer and every time one of his songs is played someone goes, "hey, is this Dave Matthews?". But it was HOW they planned on doing it. If 9/11 was a plan hatched by S.P.E.C.T.R.E., than this was more of a terrorist plot by way of The Joker, with it being an attempted attack by way of liquid explosives which were to be combined like some sort of mecha molitov cocktail and then detonated with a fake electronic device.

And now, finally, after 5 years, terrorism has found a way to affect me. Because the first two things TSA edicted was the following: no water/liquids of any kind and no electronic devices. In other words, there went the two main staples of my life in air travel.

The terrorists lose, yet the terrorists win. And now for me after all this time, this shit is now personal.

One of my little pre-flight rituals is the Aquafina. Not because I wish to be difficult, but because I wish NOT to be difficult. Dry, pressurized areas such as airplanes? For me, they're dehydrating and can cause cotton mouth right quick. Which is why I'd rather be self-reliant and bring my own on rather than cough up a dustball in waiting for the stewardess to bring any, that they only come around with so many times anyway. And while my iPod is my favorite toy on Earth, that I can live without. Until of course someone stuffs a sliver of C-4 into the binding of a J.K. Rowling hardcover and that's the next thing that gets taken away.

TSA is claiming it's only temporary, but knowing how policies like this work, once they're gone they're gone and they ain't coming back. Because the minute they do, it's practically an invite to try this same stunt again, and for all my bitching, I prefer them going one way or another, right or wrong, without playing Red Light Green Light 1-2-3 with this.

It used to be even 10 years ago that the airport was a place you went to travel expediently, and something like the bus or train station was where you were ordered around like cattle, treated like other crap as a paying customer and were at the mercy of the drivers/engineers as to when you ever got anywhere. The latter hasn't improved, but the gap has closed simply because flying conditions have worsened, and for the worst reason: we are playing a totally reactive game. Yes, this was snuffed out before it could be implemented and hundreds of lives were saved because of it, and the ones who caught it before it became another disaster are genuine heroes. But part of security measures means constantly having to be on defense, and only the would-be terrorist know where the ball is heading.

But how do they win even though they technically lost? By reminding us that they're there. By making us restrict ourselves because of them. And the more they do, the closer we get to being the woman who won't leave the house because we fear our jealous ex-boyfriend is out there watching. Besides, they bolted the cockpit doors, we have a Passenger 57 on major flights and now it's this, and it's going to be something else next time.

Maybe it's something petty like how I hate that my right not to have cotton mouth on an airplane has now been taken away from me, but don't our little compromises of freedom START with little things that snowball? As it is now, this means more tanking up in Tallahassee or Hartsfield or wherever to make sure I'm properly hydrated before flying. This is another thing I know I'll learn to hate about this whole situation: the fact that it'll now make me think that a seat by the bathroom isn't a bad thing., and that's just wrong.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

AOL: Where Your Life Is An Open Book

Sadly, I've got nothing clever to say about the AOL pilot program that released the search records of 658,000 subscribers into the wild, except that Scroogle doesn't sound like such a bad idea now. Some of those results make for vaguely depressing reading, though.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Your Monday Morning Benediction for August 7, 2006

Our Monday morning benediction comes from Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, under the heading of "Mountain":

It is a very old, very universal fable that tells of the mountain which, having frightened all the countryside by its outcry that it was in labour, was hissed by all present when it brought into the world a mere mouse. The people in the pit were not philosophers. Those who hissed should have admired. It was as fine for the mountain to give birth to a mouse, as for the mouse to give birth to a mountain. A rock which produces a rat is a very prodigious thing; and never has the world seen anything approaching this miracle. All the globes of the universe could not call a fly into existence. Where the vulgar laugh, the philosopher admires; and he laughs where the vulgar open their big, stupid eyes in astonishment.

Food for thought? A toot and a snore to get your ass out the door? Or a pretentious justification for that Bart the General link from Saturday afternoon? You decide...just close your mouth when you do. Your tongue is hanging out all pink and naked.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Maaaaaaaaarge, You're Breaking My HEARRRRT

A brief PSA from your pals at The Dunciad: The magic of the Internet, and the importance of Net Neutrality, is to protect the openness of our bandwidth so that things like this* are on equal pipeline footing with NBC.com or whitehouse.gov. It is a matter of grave national importance, so make sure your Congressional representatives know where you stand. Thank you, and tip your wait staff.

Oh, and because I make notes of these things, Blogger's spellchecker asked if I meant "whitewash" instead of White House. Chew on that for a moment.

(* Not work safe? Try not MIND safe...)

Friday, August 04, 2006

LOOK OUT! IT'S (the end of) CONAN O'BRIEN!

"If this doesn't work, we're going to have to use the sniper."

The man from the network scowled at the idea. "We've got too much wrapped up in this boy."

The pilot of the police helicopter looked at his passenger like they were from different planets. "Even if you can't snap him back?"

"Oh, we can snap him back."

They were chasing O'Brien across an open field, helicopters with ground support herding him towards a predecided spot. So far he hadn't made any unpredictable moves, but after the preceding weekend the police department wasn't taking any chances, a half dozen sharpshooters planted along the perimeter as a contingency plan.

Conan cocked his head to one side when he heard the rumble, so strange yet so familiar. Over the rise he a Harley Davidson of gleaming chrome and roaring engines, a rider clad in black leather. When the helmet came off, O'Brien stopped cold.

Looking through a set of field glasses, the network man nodded to nobody in particular, then spoke into his cellphone. "Leno's in position."

The pilot scowled. "Please tell me that's not your ace in the hole."

"Jay's a company man, dammit. Just you wait."

For a second, the battered feral late night host looked at his large chinned comrade as if he was almost ready to say something. That stopped when Jay whipped out the tranquilizer gun.

Leno gestured at his weapon. "Ya see this? Ya hear about this?" Then he fired the dart into O'Brien's neck.

====

The man at the head of the network entourage looked like he hadn't slept for "All these crazy showbiz people. It's a nightmare, I tell you. We had to bring Joey back! Do you know how painful that was?"

A yes man from the back of the group piped in. "Did you hear they caught Gwynneth Paltrow in some guy's chicken coop?"

"Really? I thought she was a vegetarian..."

"Heh. Not any more."

Billy Bush from Access Hollywood, a tagalong pal looking for an exclusive, tried vainly to make himself heard. "Cool it...she's good people."

A young woman from the legal department chose this moment to pipe in. "They're all good people, Billy--well, some of them. But the point is that quack's 'herbal supplements' have driven half of the primetime lineup insane." She paused to collect herself. "And I blame Aaron Sorkin. But that's strictly off the record."

The doctor silenced the group. "Here we are, people. Now keep in mind we're only here to observe. Mr. O'Brien is not ready for visitors yet."

They stood in front of a two-way mirror as the lights in the cell came up gradually; a few of them gasped. Conan sat in a corner staring at the ceiling, tousled, circles under his eyes, torn hospital gown. At no provocation whatsoever, he leapt to his feet and pounced on what looked like a tattered rag.

The legal assistant recognized it first. "That's a Triumph puppet. And it's missing the eyes."

One of the older men chose this moment to announce he was going to be sick.

"Well," the head of the network expedition noted to an assistant, "I think that makes our decision for us."

"Late Night With Patton Oswalt?" The head man was already making the necessary phone calls.

The legal assistant paused for a moment. Conan had moved on to some form of the String Dance, but he was too shaky on his feet; when he cut the invisible string to the right hip he crumpled to the floor like a rag doll. Then he started sniffing things.

She scowled. Patton Oswalt. It would've been Louis C.K. if he hadn't made that silly growling noise at the meeting...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

About that Doom feller

Hi, I'm the guy who hides behind a wall of anonymity. I like it that way. You may like transparency, I like to stay in the shadows and throw barbs. It's just the way I operate. Being a famous net writer ain't in the cards for me. Your mileage may vary.

It's like politicians. Can you tell the difference between democrats and republicans anymore? I can't, except for the Honorable Ron Paul. They spend money like water. Only problem is it's our money they are spending. Did you get a nice raise? They did.

Politics drives me insane. Cause I ain't right in the head to begin with. But if you want to make a good living and live off the hard work of others, become a politician. Junkets, fat cat lobbyists, corporate donations to your very own political action committee. What could ever go wrong you ask! Ask Duke Cunningham. A pox on the lot of them.

I like music. Yes, I know, even a sociopath can like music. From the Beatles to the Byrds to Oasis and Pearl Jam. One of my favorite cd's from the 90's is Van Morrisons "Enlightenment". Ain't that what we all are looking for? Like Van the Man says in Enlightenment, "whats the sound of one hand clapping".

Don't have alot to say the moment. Maybe later. Thats all for now.

LOOK OUT! IT'S CONAN O'BRIEN!

(Shades of David Letterman, it's "IS THIS ANYTHING?" A fragment from back in the day...)

The food court at the South End Mall was sedate that day, people shopping, eating oversized cookies, dreaming their dreamy dreams. Then, a huge noise and the dust of a collapsing wall enveloped the general area. A blood-curdling scream echoed, and then the words that sent the whole day to hell: “LOOK OUT! IT'S CONAN O'BRIEN!”

The towering talk show host had burst through the back wall of the arcade like a malevolent Kool-Aid man and was now chasing the fleeing masses hither and yon, fingers held like bared claws, a feral beast in a designer suit and immaculately shined leather shoes. He leapt on a table, toppling it as he pounced on a patron eating a New York style pizza slice. Conan picked the slice up with his mouth and shook it like a dog would to make sure it was really dead. Then he ate it with startling rapidity, baying at the skylight when he was done.

The mall security was closing on his location, pushing through the panicked throng with their walkie-talkies at the ready. Sensing the danger, Conan darted for the door and vanished into the surrounding woods.

===


The well-coiffed television reporter stood with his camera crew in the middle of a ruined downtown cityscape, showing a perfectly proportioned mouthful of grimacing teeth. Small flames flickered from the smoldering window of the TV and radio repair shop he was facing, and a shred of a silk tie wedged in the jagged glass left in the windowpane flapped mournfully in the breeze.

This should at least get me a local Emmy, he said to himself as his field producer gave him the signal.

"This is Bill Eddinger coming to you live from Madison Street. The scene here is roughly what shoppers at the South End Mall and worshippers at the Shadow Valley Baptist Church witnessed over the space of this long, hard weekend." He gestured towards the broken storefronts. "Shop windows have been shattered, raw meat from the butcher shop is everywhere...in other words, a scene akin to the Guns 'n' Roses fiasco from 1992. Incredibly, you are looking at a tableau of destruction created by a talk show host, armed only with his freakish size, celebrity status, and a guitar stolen from musical guest The White Stripes."

The anchorman's voice sounded in his earpiece. "We understand that the scene behind you has been in the making for quite some time."

Eddinger twisted his face into an award-winning look of hopelessness. "Actually, O'Brien has been working this block on and off throughout the day. He pulls up, breaks a few windows, growls at passersby, and burns rubber when the police show up."

"That's an awful situation. Does he seem cognizant of his surroundings?"

"I was on the phone with NBC earlier today, and apparently he's the victim of a new sort of experimental therapy. As long as he doesn't kill anybody, the orders are to bring him in alive, but at this point, it's safe to say he doesn't know where he is. We even have doubts that he knows what he is."

"But he still can drive?"

Eddinger scratched his head, smoothing every hair in his $50 style in the process. "Ummmm, yes, they gave me what they considered a good reason abouJESUS CHRIST!" For at that moment, the red-headed toothpick man behemoth rolled up on the sidewalk, leapt out of the jet-black sports car, and bit the reporter's hand. He then waved dapperly at the television camera, jumped back behind the wheel Starsky-and-Hutch style, and sped off leading the entire police force in his wake.

The anchorman called to the reporter as he was struggling back to his feet. Before they could cut Eddinger's feed, the whole tri-county area heard him snarl "I hope the son of a bitch had his shots."

(To be continued...)

Monday, July 31, 2006

10 Things iPod About You

The iPod is an interesting creature. It is basically the ultimate toy that falls under the category of "totally useless but you don't know how you ever lived without it once you have one". Actually, I take it back...it's NOT totally useless. Because I really don't know how people live anymore when they can't have their entire album collection in their hip pocket. But that's only because I have one and I've become one of them.

So this unnecessary intro is basically my segue into me playing the shuffle game to have something to write about to start. Which will basically be me either lauding or ragging on things that I own. And having not only the indignance of OMG I OWN THAT!, it gets added with OMG I TOOK THE TIME TO UPLOAD IT!

Anyhoo, 10 at random, starting now:

Primus, Tommy The Cat: I think there was a time in high school when we all convinced ourselves this album wasn't just Rush on crack. It's also that hindsight thing when Les Claypool figured out that crazed rednecks melodics were where it was at, not the whole thrash thing unto itself. They weren't quite there yet. Also, the first time I had heard this was when I had just woken up from a nap and it was some live version somewhere, and that whole post-sleep thing made it sound about 5x trippier than it would normally.

Elvis Costello, 13 Steps Lead Down: Brutal Youth is an album I've historically gone back and forth on. I think it depends on how much Get Happy! I've consumed at any given point. This period is basically the "Stardust Memories" of EC's career: I like the stuff he put out, but I prefer the early, funnier ones.

The New Pornographers, Sing Me Spanish Techno: TNP are my current crush as far as power pop goes, and that only barely factors in Neko Case. And actually, there's a line from this song that sums up The Pornos best: "listening too long to one song". Because that's one thing that they're trying their damndest to avoid, since the only problem I have with TNP is that most of the songs are these 3-minute shangri-las and just when you're completely immersed in them, it's over. Insert disgruntled ex-girlfriend joke here. You almost wish they had a little MORE pretensiousness in them, because I could stand for the 4th album to be more opus-happy. Cmon, guys...you know you wanna. And by the way, to see why I'm making a hubub, here's why

Barenaked Ladies, Next Time: And one of my former crushes, like any good jealous former crush, pops up at an inoppertune moment. The problem with BNL is when they try to be serious, you almost can't take them seriously, but that's the price they pay for trying to be circus monkeys (in the daily mail, even). And that's more the rest of the world's problem then it is my problem, but them's the breaks.

The Tea Party, The Messenger: And if you're keeping score, that's 3 Canadian bands in a row. I can see why Joss Whedon had the idea of putting this song in an episode of Angel, which is where I heard it in the first place, because it's large-scaled, it takes itself too seriously and it whines. Not unlike BroodyMcGlummigan his ownself (re: TVwoP dot com).

Jack Johnson, Wasting Time: I probably bought this during one of my folk phases. The problem with Jack Johnson isn't that he's untalented, it's that he's semmingly made out of spare parts that Sting, Dave Matthews and Ben Harper could no longer use. And what John Mayer didn't take for himself.

Iggy Pop (w/Soul Asylum), Back Door Man: : This is from the Concert For The Rock n Roll HOF 2-CD set that I probably in hindsight overpaid for, since there's about 5 worth-it songs on the whole thing, with this being one of them. And while Jim Morrison ate more chicken than a man's ever seen, Iggy prefers a non-white meat. Like any good rock record, it's loud, it's abrasive and it's over in 3 minutes in a cloud of dust. Actually it's not THAT great and of the 5 aforementioed songs, it's probably 5th.

The Cars, Magic: Since everything in the world comes back around, I didn't think much of the Cars the first time around, but then again I was only old enough to catch them on the back end. It just sounded like everything else sounded like in the 80s. But it's only later when you realize that they had sounded like that 7 years prior and that the rest of the world had merely caught up (see also Mothersbaugh/Mark, Rogers Nelson/ Prince and Heads/Talking for further reference). Although that said, this is more the MTV period. Which can and should be addressed in this space this week considering they're 25 and it makes me realize how blanker blanking old I am at this point. And as if on cue...

Tom Waits, Time: Just the moment I lament about my age, here's Tom Waits lamenting about time, time and time. Normally I love you, but for today take your troupadour hat and stick it.

Willie Nile, Cell Phones Ringing In The Pockets Of The Dead: And speaking of wannabe troupadours, it's Willie Nile, who basically has Tom Waits' career divided by five. However, that said, this song and this album (Streets of New York) are fantastic. Ever wondered what Paul Westerberg would sound like if he hadn't lost his testicles back in 1989? Here you go. See, that sounds like a slag, but really I'm giving this site an extra search engine option. But only for those people who would put "Paul Westerberg testicles" in a search engine. But hey, you gotta grab an audience from somewhere. In Willie Nile's case, it's from other imbittered musicians.

Who Sets The Tone?

I can see this is going to be a point-counterpoint relationship...and that's perfectly okay until the meat axe comes out and the limbs start flying out the window.

Let me lay out the dichotomy for you: my friend here loves Tom Goes To The Mayor, loves it like his long lost brother who's down to his last penny and needs to figure out how to feed his wife and 27 children. On the other hand, I wrote this. Tom Goes To The Mayor walked up to me at a traffic stop and tried to clean my windshield, and dammit if after three trips through the car wash I still can't get the greasy smear of its tatty sleeve off the glass. Matt wants to think TGTTM is a good sort, but I SAW HIM DO THINGS, man. When you weren't looking, that slimy bastard was trying to pick your pocket in line at the McDonald's. I think he was going to split it with that 12 Ounce Mouse son-of-a-bitch behind the dumpster. You can tell it from his eyes.

That's not to say that you can't hang with TGTTM, bud. It's your life. Just hide your wallet when he comes over. And the silverware.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Matt's Introduction

Great. Another blog.

However, we're going to do things a little differently than most.

First, we harbor no illusions at all about ourselves. This isn't important, it's not going to ignite a social and/or intellectual revolution, we're not out to rock your fragile minds. It is what it is; a collection of guys typing whatever crosses our minds and slapping it up on the break-room bulletin board. Any appearance of self-importance on this site is purely accidental or ironic. You can figure out which.

As a rule, I don't have much use for "pop culture". Of course I watch my fair share of TV, listen to my music and watch my DVDs. The main thing that my diverse tastes have in common is that I generally don't enjoy things because it's hot or cool or wicked or whatever the hell kids say these days. It's because I try to appreciate things for what they are instead of what they're marketed to be. Just between Eric and myself, you'll find fans of the obscure (ska music, and yes it DID exist before 1997), the outdated (old time radio), and the charmingly futile (Pittsburgh Pirates).

I'm an individual with my own defined set of tastes. And deep down, dear reader... so are you. Don't hide it, celebrate it. It really is okay to dislike Top 40 radio, or to enjoy reading 18th century poetry. (Pansy.) It's fine to poke a little fun at the shallow platitudes and entertainments we're bombarded with daily. It's acceptable to watch CNN for an hour and say to yourself "Hey, I didn't really learn a single damn thing I didn't already know! That was 40 minutes of rich people arguing with each other and 20 minutes of commercials!" It's even okay to get just a little pissed off sometimes over the whole mess.

We're going to share whatever viewpoints we have here pretty much just for the hell of it. Agree, disagree, point and laugh (either in agreement or derision)... it's up to you. I'll be having some fun along the way and hopefully you will, too.

Eric's Introduction

Our benediction today is a cheerful little jingle composed by Charles Heber Clark for his book Out of the Hurly-Burly. When he cranked this out, he was thinking of Julia Moore, who made a nice living cranking out mawkish odes to dead children back in the day, and therefore was too good a target to leave alone. Mark Twain took a more enduring swing at Ms. Moore's trade in Huckleberry Finn, but I can't help but love Clark's bit of purple poesy:

Willie had a purple monkey climbing on a yellow stick,
And when he sucked the paint all off it made him deathly sick;
And in his latest hours he clasped that monkey in his hand,
And bade good-bye to earth and went into a better land.

Oh! no more he'll shoot his sister with his little wooden gun;
And no more he'll twist the pussy's tail and make him yowl for fun.
The pussy's tail now stands out straight; the gun is laid aside;
The monkey doesn't jump around since little Willie died.

Yes, that's referring to a cat, you filthy children. And if you didn't get a giggle out of that (the poem and my follow-up), you might as well give up on us right now.

The name we ended up going with is from Alexander Pope's satirical epic poem which "celebrated" the agents of decay and stupidity in 18th century England. If you followed my work at all on Tiny Money Land--and honestly, why would you?--you know that it never ceases to amaze me how thick people are becoming these days. Like it says at the top of the page, it makes me dumber just thinking about it. So rather than suffer alone, I decided to drag a few net pals into a whole new collaborative nightmare. And you get to watch!

My goal in this enterprise is based on a couple of unfortunately trendy poses: we're the normal ones and the rest of those jerks with their fingers up their asses have to go. It'll hopefully be funny once in awhile, but when it isn't, let's just pretend I did it on purpose.

If nothing else, this will be an exercise in the contributors keeping each other on their toes. That includes you too, comment field boys and girls.