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.