Remember a couple of years ago when the National Review, a magazine for dumbasses, made up a list of "conservative" rock songs and it was kind of a pathetic joke? Well, back then, we posited that with enough cognitive dissonance, any song could be turned into a "conservative rock song." Remember and enjoy!
"Through a List, Dubiously" - an analysis for what passes for "conservative culture."
"How To Make Your Own List of Conservative Rock Songs" - A list of conservative rock songs? Of your own? Make them? How? These questions are answered.
"Through a List, Dubiously, Part Two" - the second part of a post titled, "Through A List, Dubiously"
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Remember a couple of years ago when the National Review, a magazine for dumbasses, made up a list of "conservative" rock songs and it was kind of a pathetic joke? Well, back then, we posited that with enough cognitive dissonance, any song could be turned into a "conservative rock song." Remember and enjoy!
Last week we asked people to crack open their iPod and Zune's and stuff (one person on an Unfogged thread participated by randomizing their Winamp player, which should have been the red flag right there) to find out how soon into their library did they come to a song that totally wrecked their chances for being President. This was inspired by Barack Obama's thoroughly vetted playlist of unimpeachable rock faves and solid hip-hop icons. Well, we got responses here, there, everywhere: in the comments, on Unfogged, over at Matt's blog, and now Spencer's taking this shit global. Later this year, I'll be at Netroots Nation in Austin and the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and I'll be asking people the same question. DOES THAT EXCITE YOU???
Anyway, I realized that I had never actually done this to myself! So here we go:
1. "Promenade," by the Gourds. Ha. Nothing objectionable in this song, but it's a hilarious lead-off anyway, because it contains the lyric, "Somehow my losing just comes natural like a southern Democrat." What? I don't believe in the 50-State strategy?
2. "I Better Run," by the Rosebuds. Grandma struggled with her subprime mortgage and dad "built an awful flame." But while their demise may have come about because of drugs or "dirty murder" but you can't implicate me in that shit. You hear me!
3. "Happy Phantom," by Tori Amos. Hmmm. Polytheism? Running naked through the streets? General Tori Amosness? Close to a DQ, but the overall pleasantness of the song carries me through. I'd have had a harder time explaining "Leather" or "Icicle." Plus there are all those songs that I don't even think Tori can explain. "Putting the Damage On?" What's that about?
4. "Cassius," by Foals. "The lighthouse is an accident!!" No problem here.
5. "Boom," by Flight Of The Conchords. Okay. This doesn't DISQUALIFY me from the presidency, but it makes it impossible for me to win it, because satire just doesn't fly with the public. If we did, we'd already by building golden statues to Mike Huckabee.
6. "Souvenir," by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Well, that got me the Governess' vote. Probably lost me about a thousand more. But no DQ.
7. "No Key, No Plan," by Okkervil River. Look, iPod, I already have the Governess' vote. Let's move on.
8. "Narcolepsy," by Ben Folds Five. Sort of suggests a need for an occasional Xanax, but if Cindy McCain can skate by, so can I.
9. "The Lost Brigade," by Ted Leo/Pharmacists. This shit gets the right people standing behind me without poisoning the well for all those MOR swing vote fucksticks that I guess I'm going to need.
10. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," by Vampire Weekend. "As a young girl, Louis Vuitton with your mother on a sandy lawn. As a sophomore with reggaeton and the linens you're sitting on." In a perfect world, this probably should disqualify me.
11. "The Underdog," by Spoon. Ok. So now I've gained the critical Amanda Mattos vote.
12. "Bunk Trunk Skunk," by Be Your Own Pet. "I'm an independent motherfucker and I'm here to take your money. I'm wicked rad and I'm here to steal away your virginity."
Yep. That oughtta do it! In fairness, though...isn't this sort of a Kinsley gaffe?
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The latest sign of problems in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area is that the Taliban's felt confident enough to launch an operation on the Pakistan side of the border in the Peshawar area. The Pakistani military is fighting back and presumably ought to be able to drive the Taliban away from a key town but that'll hardly resolve the underlying problems.
It is a problem, indeed, but let's not get hysterical. The Bush administration has told us time and again that they successfully defeated the Taliban, so this latest incident must be one of the paranormal variety, i.e. angry Taliban poltergeists infesting Peshawar. Luckily, John McCain has got Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and his magical voodoo on his shortlist and he can simply perform exorcisms where needed, and failing that castrations. Remember: in the case of a terrorist attack, America will immediately flock to John McCain, because he makes all sorts of goddamned sense.
Posted by The Deceiver at 6/28/2008
Everything Is Seemingly Spinning Out Of Control, A Continuing Series On Impending Doom: 2 - Reverses in Polarity
Steve Connor of the Independent reports that it's looking more and more certain that the North Pole will soon be lacking one of the things that lends the region its je ne sais quoi. What, pray tell? Oh, you know...ice.
It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.The article goes on to say that the lack of ice might make it easier to extract the oil from the region. Oh, goody! You mean the environmental disaster will allow the extraction of the fuel we all desperately need to stop using? THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME.
The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90
degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.
"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.
Naturally, there's nothing to worry about. Bjorn Lomborg says if we just stop shooting polar bears, they won't go extinct because they'll just reverse several hundred thousand years of evolution in the next four decades to save themselves! Maybe all the polar ice has relocated itself to Lomborg's cranium! Or maybe there's oil there! I guess what I am trying to say is that we really should spear Lomborg's skull with an oil derrick or something, because everything is seemingly spinning out of control!
Just caught the news from The Hook that Virginia point guard Sean Singletary got drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings with the 42nd pick. Score. I had hoped that he'd get drafted, but figured that it'd be in the second round, and touch and go at that. Sean is often generously credited with being 6'0", so his size is an issue. Like everyone who's got a favorite player on the NBA borderline, you come to think of your guy as possessed with that set of intangibles that can allow a guy to will himself into the Association. Those stories are pretty rare, but heck, I got to watch Roger Mason Jr. make serious contributions to the Wizards this year, so every once in a while, one of those guys you root for gets there.
Singletary came back to UVa for his senior year, probably because he was hungry after his near-miss, near-upset of Tennessee in the tournament his junior year. Still, without his backcourt partner J.R. Reynolds, he had to know that his senior year was going to be pretty rough going. And it was. But he played all year determined and unbowed, and he appropriately had his number retired at the end of the season (after which they had to sort of un-retire it so he could wear it in that not-quite-ready-for-the-NIT tournament they decided to stage this year.
Sacto also grabbed Patrick Ewing Jr. with the very next pick, so locals could potentially have some reasons to stay up and watch the Kings next year. I am hopeful that Singletary can grit himself onto the team, and if he stays in whatever frame of mind he was in during this amazing win over Duke, then I think he's got a decent shot. Anyway, congratulations Sean!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Reading Matt's blog, it seems like he's undergone the same sort of gradual repositioning on the issue of gun control, only I still think that maybe the most aggressive sort of separation of criminals with artillery should happen in the urban environment. I didn't come to change my mind because of reading Mark Kleiman, however. It was an article in The Nation, about four years ago that got me to do some heavy duty rethinking. At the time, I was so surprised to see The Nation making the case that the only thing I could do was put the magazine down after I was done reading the article, look up, and exclaim, "Now, that's change I can believe in." A gentleman sitting next to me heard me and said, "Hey. Catchy phrase." That man was Deval Patrick.
More than that -- and again, maybe this is my experience in Israel talking -- I don't like the idea of subcontracting my own defense to the police. Why should a person who is paid $40,000 a year, who doesn't know me, who doesn't live in my neighborhood, risk his life for me when, properly armed, I'm fully capable of defending myself? It never seemed fair to me.
Well, gee. I don't know if that is "experience from Israel" talking because most "experience from Israel" doesn't often speak in that straight-out-ya-ass dialect I'm hearing. But speaking as someone who's got no particular truck with Jeffrey Goldberg surviving this, or any other night on earth, I say, "Let 5-0 off the hook, then, Jeffrey." Don't just talk. Walk up to John Q. Law today and tell him you won't be needing his services. More protect and serve for the rest of us.
Soprano fans: Jeffrey Goldberg armed=Special K (Season 1, episode 2). Surely you're feelin' me on this!
One last thing. Let's all follow the lead of Cynics' Party's Greg Wasserstrom and refer to June 26th as "Gun Day," okay? Or at least let's agree that "Heller Day"=FAIL, because the District already has a perfectly awesome Heller that doesn't need to have its brand confused. So proponents of "Heller Day" get the big SHUN. Agreed? KTHX!
So, in a few short weeks, Washington, DC will get to experience the thrill of well regulated militias. I'm sort of unsurprised at the result of the SCOTUS ruling, and, since it came from about eighteen hundred miles away, my passion for the topic has long since vitiated. Tom and Amanda have cogent things to say about it, they link to other people who have cogent things to say about it. As far as the effects of this ruling on DC goes, I'm officially subscribing to the "everybody's got a deeply felt hunch"/"probably a wash in the end"/"everyone's bound to get worked up over the first suicide/accident/school shooting/Bernie Goetz moment (but that's what people do with their lives, mainly - get exercised over trivia).
From a personal standpoint, I have shot rifles and shotguns in controlled, recreational settings and enjoyed it greatly. Loved learning the how-tos, the techniques. Felt the satisfaction of nailing targets that vaguely look like Frank Stallone (these are the best things to shoot at) in the head and center mass. Also: realized that if you wanted to lay hands on a device that could just about kill a motherfucker dead in a second, a gun is the device for you. Sure, you can improvise with just about anything, but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I'd very much enjoy having the same sort of recreational experience with a handgun. It's fun and it's humbling, and there's nothing wrong with coming face to face with these sorts of experiences.
What I wouldn't enjoy is owning one. I am of the mind that bringing a gun into your home is more likely to head in the entropic direction. Shit, I worry about how bringing a spatula into my house could lead to my demise. When the ancient sages have told you that your last words on this earth are destined to be, "Whoops!" you worry about shit like that.
As a matter of policy, I've been long of the mind that top-down Federally mandated gun control measures will never function properly. As a person who's interested in a less right-wing state of affairs, I also recognize that this is the key issue that's prevented the Democrats from winning huge constituencies in the West - people who are otherwise very amenable to the Democratic platform. I think that the right is plagued by histrionicists of the worst sort - those who invoke the need to keep weapons in the face of an oppressive government, who really need to be told that if they want to pull the trigger on their revolution to get on with it already - I mean, their phones are being tapped, right? What are they waiting for? I also think that the left is still plagued by the worst sort of demonizers: people that would ordinarily and correctly oppose the practice of racial profiling has no problem suggesting that gun owners are dangerous, deranged hicks that need to be put under some sort of watch.
Also, seeing as how I support the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment, I can hardly fault anyone who wants to do the same for the Second.
Anyway, I think that the histrionics have dominated this debate for far too long, and have obscured sensible policy on regulation and safety. That this matter in DC is, for the moment anyway, a matter of settled law is truly only going to bring down the curtain on one of the shows that the Gun Debate Clownshow features in its repertory. I think it's possible to reduce public safety risk, create sensible regulation, eradicate scofflaw retailers, and even get certain types of weapons and ammo restricted (surely we can admit, right now, that no member of the public has any need to own, say, a Cornershot Panzerfaust, right?).
Of course, we should also consider the unique situation in which the District of Columbia DC finds itself. As the social policy petri dish for the maddest of political scientists, DC bears a greater burden, under a heavier yoke, than the rest of the country. Adrian Fenty is not in the same position as every other mayor in the country - his attempts to manage, mitigate, and lessen the ill effects of this decision can be countermanded by the Federal government, who enjoy swirling their dicks in the city to see what can be stirred up because ultimately, they know they can skip away without facing much in the way of accountability. Citizens of the District of Columbia have long had very few options when it comes to standing up to the Feds.
Though the guns, I suspect, could go a long way to correcting these inequities.
I am absolutely not surprised to hear that CNN's Michael Ware and CBS' Lara Logan had, apparently, been involved in a romantic tryst. They are pretty much the two best war correspondents on teevee. I'm only sad to learn that theirs was but a brief fling, because they could have had so many Iraq War-hating babies together.
Over the course of the day I heard scuttlebutt that CBS was none too pleased with Logan for allegedly bedding down with Ware and with another married man. But in defense of all parties, the woman is crazy hot and tough as nails. But CBS feels Logan's actions reflect poorly on the network's news division. Know what REALLY reflects poorly on the news division? Their failure to report on the Iraq war.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
If you read just one article or blog post concerning Emily Gould's book proposal, uhm...read the good one. Because it's hilarious.
And really, can we just recap the past month or so in the life of New York City?
I: New York Times Magazine Presents: A Memorial Day Overshare With Our Fallen Blogger
II: n+1 Presents: Who Would Have Thought That I, Having Written A Book That Transported A Bunch Of Chekhov Characters To New York Only To Find Them As Miserable As Ever, Would Enjoy Getting My Ass Punctured By The Internet Repeatedly [Not Me I Guess]
III: Thrillist Presents: I Was Told There'd Be Something To Fill This Gaping Hole In My Life: Junket Terror At 10,000 Feet, With A Layover In Rochester (That Is Also Filled With Terror)
Oooh. Sorry, fuckchops! But, hey, maybe you'll have better luck with your "waterfalls!"
And SUCK IT, Supreme Court of the United States of America! He did it unarmed. Because Scott Reitz is the motherfucking Zohan!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Your instructions are as follows:
1. Take out your iPod (or Zune, I guess...really, who buys a Zune?)
2. Press shuffle songs.
3. Answer the following: a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President? b) What is that song?
4. Leave your answers.
Via Curbed comes news of this crazy-ass building, slated to be built in Dubai and Moscow. Each story of the building swivels independently of the rest of the building. Why would you want it to do this? Heaven only knows. Maybe you want to combine chic, modern interiors with constant motion sickness. You can watch an overwrought video on the matter here. Don't know what else to say about this, other than to note that this is, I guess, how you gentrify Dubai.
I read Richard Cohen's latest masterpiece, and could only really pose my question using the words of Germantown's immortal Clutch: So tell me, Richard, when you took the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test, did you know the answers? Or did you guess?
Wait. Don't answer that. Just sit back and watch as I demolish your entire rationale.
Oh, but I digress! You play Sorry, I play chess. Queen's pawn to E3, checkmate. GO GET SOME PERCOCETS!
Keith Gessen wants to take back the internet, but he's too late! I've been watching Neave Television [h/t: Boing Boing] and can report that the internet has already been taken back...for everyone who wants to TRIP BALLS, that is! Tune your browser in, roll yourself a fattie, activate the app and then sit back and prepare yourself to be bombarded by some of the most senseless goddamn web video that has ever been recorded. A click of the mouse changes the channel. I swear, if the video selections continually expand, there's little doubt that THIS WILL BE THE MOST WHOLLY AWESOME THING ON THE INTERNET.
- Hot assclown-on-assclown action. Now with video. [City Desk]
- Wow: nutraloaf. This is the quickfire challenge Top Chef fans have been craving. [Gawker]
- Slate asks if modern life is killing off the semicolon. Wife of DCeiver says, emphatically, "FUCK NO! If anything the complexities of modern life make the semicolon more necessary...and it's delightful for a novel - and don't discount it in poetry!" Key distinction to be made: Slate probably comes at this locked in the perspective of a journalist, where my wife is back writing academic papers for her Masters degree, an area of fecundity where semi-colons are concerned. Fuck. I think one whole chapter of my thesis was two huge run on sentences joined by a semi-colon. [Slate]
- Politico headline: "Elian Gonzalez Could Haunt Obama." Ohhhh, JESUS, FUCK. Really? We're dragging all that shit out again? Fine. I guess we totally should have left that kid in the hands of his Miami-based criminal relatives and that aunt of his who was always collapsing because of her steady diet of drugs and brainlessness. [Politico]
- A belated but happy birthday to the peripatetic Information Leafblower. Congrats on the Championship. [Information Leafblower]
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Blogs t r e t c h: So i fell asleep after work with the tv on, and woke up to what's on NBC right now - Celebrity Family Feud, hosted by Al Roker, featuring a battle between the families of Joan Rivers and Ravyn Simone. Way weirder than whatever I was dreaming about.
DCeiver: You must have momentarily thought that some sort of disease broke out, leaving you and the stupid people.
Blogs t r e t c h: hahahaha
DCeiver: YOU WOULD BE THEIR QUEEN!
Blogs t r e t c h: That would be tight. Until they forgot where they put all the flower petals and velvet chairs. Oh my god. What is happening in america right now? On ABC it's I Survived a Japanese Game Show!
DCeiver: Everything's seemingly spiralling out of control!
Blogs t r e t c h: I buy it now.
DCeiver: We are clinging to VH1 right now.
Blogs t r e t c h: I guess it's admirable that they're sticking to a formula that works. Or at least, worked really really well about 7 years ago.
DCeiver: Snark, unblogged.
Blogs t r e t c h: I feel like this "I Love the New Millenium" show is less funny than the other "i love" shows, because during this millenium, all of these jokes have been made already, by bloggers. "I'll see your Best Week Ever, and raise you the best past 10 seconds!"
DCeiver: The funniest part of their I love the 90's special was the very last thing Dave Navarro said, which was something to the effect of, "I don't know how else to react to this. This was 1999. To me, that's like, last week."
Blogs t r e t c h: Hahahhaha, bingo.
DCeiver: Later we have entourage to watch.
Blogs t r e t c h: I'm really pissed that I don't have HBO or Showtime right now. God bless Netflix.
DCeiver: There's not much good on HBO these days though, is there? Showtime is where it's at.
Blogs t r e t c h: But Entourage is the ultimate summer escapist television. It's just so beautifully compelling for no reason, it's like the fictional predecessor of The Hills.
DCeiver: Care and I realized from watching that LG commercial that LC and Brody Jenner are the real life A-HOLES that Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis play.
Blogs t r e t c h: Ha! That's perfect. Did you see Avent's blog today about everyone knowing someone on reality tv?
DCeiver: No. He's right. My brother's friend was on Hell's Kitchen!
Blogs t r e t c h: This has got to be causing some deep psychological damage. Lauren Conrad's personality is going to split down the middle in a big way. When you're acting your way through your own life? The character you play is you? That's got to be deeply damaging.
DCeiver: Oh, yeah. I don't understand what's going to happen to those people when the country gets bored. I mean, imagine having your life cancelled by America! I worry all the time that I've hit my peak. Imagine having it proved to you with math!
Blogs t r e t c h: Exactly!! But I also feel like for some reason, these quasi-celebrities, the Parises and Spencers & Heidies, aren't going anywhere! And I don't understand! We've built a celebrity support infrastructure that allows these people to remain in the cultural consciousness for no good reason!
DCeiver: I felt bad for David Letterman having to interview Spencer. I mean, my heart hurt. This is David Letterman, comedy legend!
Blogs t r e t c h: God, yes.
DCeiver: Nothing's more pathetic than those Road Rules alums that participate in those obstacle/endurance contests. I mean, that shit is sad.
Blogs t r e t c h: See, exactly. Another perfect example. They made a decision tantamount to tattooing a butterfly at the base of your back when they were 20 and are riding it into alcoholic permanence. I think that if we can show the societal wherewithal to help these people get the fuck off of television, we can get out of Iraq. Only then will it be possible.
DCeiver: We will have defeated the evildoers. We should cut a PSA. "Won't you help? Won't you take Coral to a fucking temp agency? For just fifty cents a day, you can teach Brody Jenner to spell, maybe. You know, at least learn to use a fork."
Blogs t r e t c h: When people look back at this era, they're going to see how deeply damaging W's presidency was. We didn't even have the strength to come up with art that fought the system. We just gave in to bright colors and people making out. Man, I shouldn't leave the TV on when I nap anymore. Apparently I wake up full of ire.
DCeiver: You are our New Rock Church of Ire.
Blogs t r e t c h: The high priestess of pissing in your Wheaties.
DCeiver: Certainly the tall priestess.
Blogs t r e t c h: I'm gonna go like...bake, and read some fiction.
DCeiver: All right. You know me, I'll probably blog this, and defeat the whole purpose of this conversation.
Gene Weingarten isn't too fond of the hidden costs of the WaPo buyouts, especially at the level of copyediting. "I'm writing this column the very week after dozens of copy editors left my newspaper through an early retirement buyout," he notes in the middle of a satiric rant about how copyediting is a relic of the past. Of course, the singular feature of this article is a vast meta joke: the piece is riddled through with the sorts of errors that copy editors fix! SO DO YOU FUCKING GET IT NOW, DEAR READERS!
Leaving aside the fact that many of the errors are ones that Weingarten really shouldn't be making in the first place, I like his screed. Mainly because the Post could stand to wean itself of some fat, rather than chewing up the lean, mean activity of copyediting and spitting it out. I guess my only objection here comes at the bottom, where Weingarten lists all of the errors in the piece. One in particular caught my eye:
The Headline: One error.
But the headline is "Yanks Thump Sox," and while that's a bad headline as far as the context of the article is concerned, it's superior search engine optimization strategy! And if there's one thing that can cover up the sins of poor copyediting, it's good SEO. Frankly, if Weingarten has titled his essay "Sexy Teens Sucking And Fucking," he would have been able to inculcate a much vaster audience.
Here's what Gasbag Of The Common Man Karl Rove described Barack Obama today:
“Even if you never met him, you know this guy...He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”
And to think that not too long ago, black people weren't allowed at Karl Rove's country club! Times sure have changed, I guess. Though not so much that you'd mistake "John McCain has a black baby" as something other than a snide comment.
Now it might be pedantic to point out that John McCain isn't counting on Alex to serve in Iraq, because little Alex will only be 9 years old when President McCain leaves office after two terms.
Last week, five nineteen year old kids died in the wars. So, like a pedant, I point out:
On May 1, 2003, when President George W. Bush hung his famous "Mission Accomplished" banner on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, those same five soldiers were just fourteen years old. When the first Gulf War ended in February of 1991, those same five soldiers were between the ages of one and two. On March 17, 1988, when Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja with poison gas -- an event that was an oft-cited point of outrage as Bush attempted to gin up a moral pretext for the current conflict -- those same five soldiers were several months short of being conceived. And when Hussein appeared in this 1983 picture, shaking hands with then-colleague Donald Rumsfeld, it was possible that the parents of those same five soldiers had not yet met.
Posted by The Deceiver at 6/24/2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Funnily enough, when I first heard of George Carlin's death, one line of his flashed through my head almost immediately. Surprisingly, it wasn't a line from Carlin's best known "Seven Words" routine. It was this line (and I'm probably not getting it exact): "If he's the undisputed heavyweight champion, then what's all the fighting about?"
I thought at first that this one line would come flooding to the surface of my mind at the news of Carlin's death. But after thinking about it at length, it now seems appropriate. Carlin was the beneficiary of many great comedic influences, blending the physical, direct comic communication of a Danny Kaye or an Ernie Kovacs with the darker, more abstruse social satire of Lenny Bruce, and somehow managing to out-funny all of them with a brand of comedy that was both accessible, without being dumbed down.
Of course, what Carlin brought to the equation was an amazing facility with words. And I don't mean simply in the sense he was glib. Nor do I mean to suggest that it was a matter of mere scholarship. Carlin understood that the world around us was built not out of a connective tissue of iron or stone or flesh or wood or concrete or bone but from language. More importantly, he was blessed with a keen and penetrating mind that was unnaturally attuned to decoding language. I suppose then, that the reason this one line wormed its way into my head is because it was a very clear example of what Carlin did best: examine the way in which the world was designed and expose the fraudulencies buried underneath.
The essential definition of comedy is the juxtaposition of a less-than ideal situation against a commonly understood ideal. The distance between the two is where the humor lies. A man slips on a banana peel, and we laugh, because ideally, he should not have slipped. What elevated Carlin, and made him unique even beyond his gift for language, is that he never simply revealed the butt of the joke and left it there - he was forever bringing his audience back to the ideal, because that was where the truth lay. A man slipping on a banana peel is funny, but the truth is that a man should be able to walk down the street unharmed. And with that same gift for language that he continually used to decode the universe and reveal its iniquities, he effortlessly communicated his point of view to an audience in a way that they could clearly grasp the truth for themselves. And that is why Carlin, at his best, didn't simply leave you entertained - he left you feeling a million miles tall and full of power.
I wonder if it is possible for everyone to tune themselves in to the frequencies that Carlin was picking up from the world around him. If so, maybe it's possible that we could come to have a better understanding of the rot that Carlin saw, all around him, and do a better job rooting it out and confronting it. It seems to me that if you began each morning and ended each day thinking on this one line of Carlin's - "If he's the undisputed heavyweight champion, then what's all the fighting about?"...repeating it, even, as a sort of daily mantra - it might be possible to slowly, if imperfectly, rewire our own minds and train our eyes to look for all the cracks in the foundation that Carlin saw.
Carlin once said: "If we could just find out who’s in charge, we could kill him." Well. I'm game!
When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion.
No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day.
And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ‘til the end of time!
But He loves you! He loves you, and He needs money.
One last thing on the campaign finance kerfuffle, which only has about another 24-48 hours to go before it wheezes out entirely. The basic grievance that McCain's surrogacy has levelled against Obama is that this episode just proves that he's the sort of politician who wants to win at all costs. Of course, there's so little at stake in that "cost" that it's hard to manufacture the sort of umbrage you'd like in the public. Still, I have to say to the GOP: Keep on telling the public that Obama will do whatever it takes to win. It's going to be of great use to me every time I make the case that the same hunger to win also applies to high-level negotiations with Iran.
So, I have to say, when I heard that there was a chance that Barack Obama might opt to accept the $80-some-odd million in what constitutes "public financing," instead of pressing on with his highly successful online funding engine that's managed to build a campaign warchest on the backs of 1.5+ million small donors, my first thought was that surely, Barack Obama wouldn't be THAT stupid. I was aware, yes, that he had pledged to take public financing for the general election way back when, and was likely to get dinged by the GOP for reneging. Still, I wanted him to be able to outspend McCain three-to-one after the convention, instead of one-to-one. So I'm glad he did what he did.
Still, beyond the whole thing where Obama promised 1.5 million people that he'd take their money and do what needed to be done to win the White House (as opposed to John Kerry, who didn't even spend the money he had while on the way to losing the election), I sort of pooh-pooh all the "Obama didn't keep his word!" protestations for a simple reason: just because Obama opted out of the hoary old scheme that we call "public financing" doesn't mean that his current path isn't "public financing." Seems to me that it is, actually! More importantly, it really doesn't strike me as a step away from "reform." Soliciting small donations from ordinary Americans while eschewing money from PACs seems to me to be an ideal situation. I don't know how this $80-million scheme came to be known as the only acceptable method of "public financing" or "reform" (in fact, the very fact that the law allows the candidate to opt-out at all sort of contradicts the idea of "reform"), but as far as I'm concerned, I'd like all elections to be funded in the way Obama's has.
One of the points that shouldn't be ignored of course, is that John McCain is free to avail himself of the same methodologies and make the same solicitations to the American people. Unfortunately, his campaign isn't as smart or as innovative as Obama's and the voters don't like his ideas enough to throw much money at them. So, much of this outrage from McCain and his surrogates is married to the fact that he was hoping he could shame Obama into disadvantaging himself.
Of course, it should be pointed out that "after largely ignoring the issue for the last 30 years, during which the GOP consistently outfundraised and outspent Democrats in election after election, the media are suddenly all atwitter about whether the campaign finance system is 'basically fair?'" And so, in an article ostensibly given over to Obama's process of reintroducing himself to the voters, we get this sentence:
He opted out of the public campaign-financing system -- revealing his determination to press his financial advantage, even at the cost of handing his Republican opponent the opportunity to raise questions about the sincerity of his rhetoric on reform.
See how the writer sort of hangs that out there? Implying that these "questions" have any real validity? As you've surmised, at bottom, I feel that they don't--Obama promised a pony of reform way back when, is in the position to offer two ponies now, and McCain's angry because the deal was for just the one. But maybe I'm wrong! Maybe what Obama's done, engaging the public directly in the process, is awful and terrible. I mean, even Matt is sort of suggesting this possibility when he describes Obama's move as "wriggling out of a commitment to use public financing for the general election" as if the promise represents greater "reform" than Obama's innovation.
So, maybe I just don't understand. Feel free, anyone, to explain!
The only thing I'll say, of course, is that it's worth remembering that for all of McCain's yowling at Obama, McCain did in fact scam the public finance system already, so if we're going to have this debate, he really ought to recuse his own hypocritical ass from the room before it begins.
Everything truly is spinning out of control. George Carlin, genius comic (I trust that no one will dare dispute this) died tonight of heart failure. He did every motherfucking thing he could.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
If you recall, the Metropolitan Police Department had this inane idea that they would fight local crime by locking down DC's Trinidad neighborhood and placing checkpoints up so that everybody driving into the area had to come armed with a plausible sounding, MPD-approved "good reason" for being in the area. Today, the Washington Post published an intoxicatingly stupid editorial berating critics of these enforcement tactics, asking in their subhed, "Why are there more protests about a police crackdown in Northeast than about the murders that caused it?"
That kind of unfortunate thinking -- that certain neighborhoods must accept violence as a fact of life -- is a reason that there was more of an outcry over police efforts to stop the killings than over the killings themselves. And therein lies the real outrage.YES THE REAL OUTRAGE IS 'THINKING!" Of course!
I can tell I'm going to have to take whatever dumbass who wrote this by their hand and sort of walk them through what an actual thought process feels like. See, dumbass, this "outcry over police efforts" should not be read as being greater than "the killings themselves." Actually, the outcry stems from the fact that DC residents keep asking for effective means of dealing with crime, and this cartoon crap is the best the police seem to be coming up with. Just going out on a limb here! Tell me something, Washington Post, editors...you all are aware that the checkpoints didn't apply to pedestrians entering the neighborhood, right? Well, it is possible for one person to both walk and commit crimes.
Anyway, dipshit editorialist, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier says you're wrong, so maybe you should see about dismounting your high horse:
Chief Lanier announced for the first time that the stated reasons for instituting a blockade of the Trinidad neighborhood were not the true reasons, or at least not the major reason, behind the cordon. There was another, more important, reason, she told the committee, but she could not reveal what that reason was. If the committee members knew what she knew, she was confident that they would agree with her actions, but she couldn’t tell them what she knew.Okay? It was all about some secret crimefighting. Maybe, anyway. Fuck. Who can tell, really. You read the rest of that report, you get the feeling that maybe Lanier doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. Either way, the case for checkpoints falls short, so snack on my balls, and set the city free.
Even though the two presidential candidates were yelling at one another about campaign finance and there were far more people in far direr straits across the midwest today, MSNBC broke into their coverage to send viewers out to Silver Spring for live coverage of this tree rescue. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, the local NBC News gave the story a few grafs today, as they should. But compare that to MSNBC's decision to lock in on the story, recite the relevant details in about a minute, and then go bang on to the commercial break nearly ten minutes later.
Everyone in the studio must have gone on a smoke-break right then as well, because Chris Jansing and Contessa Brewer were forced to ad lib at length, seemingly unassisted, as MSNBC's cameras stared at the scene as if we were witnessing some goddamned witchcraft being performed. The whole segment was pretty hilarious. We captured the first two and a half minutes of it here, and I added some pithy fun facts that viewers learned as Jansing and Brewer struggled to ward off the dead air. Still I'd be remiss if I didn't point out some of the other things I learned from MSNBC today:
- How do rescuers get cats down from trees? "You just grab the cat."
- Believe it or not, it is not advisable to cut trees so that they land directly on houses.
- Rescues taking place up a tree are difficult, as anyone who has "watched a few episodes of ER" would know. You know. Because of all the episodes from that show that featured rescues. Rescues from trees. In downtown Chicago.
- It's important that the rescuers subject the injured party to only a "minimal amount of movement." Apart, perhaps, from the "movement" required to bring the man from the "tree" to the "ground."
According to this articlette in The Politico, John McCain and his campaign are miffed that the Democrats keep hammering him on his advanced age - which is, indeed, VERY ADVANCED. But are the Democrats talking in SECRET CODE when they do so? For example, when they say that McCain boasts a "half-century of service" - do they mean to simply state a fact? Or do they mean to allude that McCain may have shambled up and down the corridors of power for a half-century, growing in hunger and anger? And when they say he has "lost his bearings," do they mean to imply, "Hey, McCain just said something that doesn't make much sense!" Or do they really mean, "Hey, Old Man McCain just jabbered some old man crap through his old man mouth and then crapped his britches full of liquid turds and he really needs to be in a home?"
I guess it could be THAT subjective. Or, it could be that McCain is, himself, speaking in a SECRET CODE that only complete dumbasses can understand. Which would explain why nothing he says makes sense to me!
This week's City Paper cover story gives the various sections of Washington, DC cute new names, because that's exactly the sort of thing Gay Talese used to do or something? Anyway, it comes with this video, where the CP staff dresses up and pretends to be reporters and junk. Now, no lie, I envy the production values - the vlogs I will one day foist on the world will be of a succulent crapulence. But that doesn't mean the content is interesting. And indeed, it isn't, across any conceivable dimension - save one: watching the vid, it becomes very clear that Eric Wemple was John C. Reilly's inspiration for the character of Dr. Steve Brule.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Via FishbowlDC comes this fantastic entry on Craigslist, of "a dynamic, entrepreneurial for-profit college in Northwest DC is looking for an experienced copy writer and desktop publisher to lead aspects of both internal and external written communications." The applicant will apparently be spending most of their time writing letters to students who have withdrawn from their studies, encouraging them to come back, not give up, get off the pipe/pole/road to ruin, etc.
Required: "BA or BS Degree in Journalism, Communications, English or other Liberal Arts degrees....The candidate should be fluent in desktop publishing and should be familiar with technical and non-technical writing standards, style manuals and proofreaders' marks."
But here's the best part:
The twist: while you are writing copy you will also fill the role of security guard, working 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. We will buy your uniform. You won’t carry a gun. Applicants must be able to pass a drug screen as well as a criminal background check. The security guard spends most of the shift seated at the reception desk, and there will be very minimal security duties. Practically the entire shift you will be able to focus on writing copy – you’ll just happen to be wearing a uniform.Uhm...just...wow. I'm surprised that they promise that there will be no gunplay involved! But then, that pot just can't get any sweeter, can it?
[Proficiency in MS Office (especially Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook) also required.]
And, for the record, one can, if the price is right, purchase space and time and a modicum of publicity for a NPC presser without it being an explicit event of the Club, in the same way that you can come to Port Authority Bus Terminal, board a Greyhound bus, smelling of rotten fruit and clutching notebooks full of block letters and talking for hours on end about how you were going to drop by G. Gordon Liddy's house and tell him all about how the CIA was using microwaves to drain information from your brain. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have sat by Larry Sinclair on every bus ride I have ever been on.
Anyway, Sinclair did his idiot press conference. My colleague Seth Colter Walls got to experience it first hand, and you can find his hilarious report on the event right here. Highlights include Sinclair's rambling nonsense, his pretend lawyer's pomegranate sized testicles, and Sinclair's lengthy rap sheet. Personally, I love the way Sinclair makes all sorts of crazy-ass accusations, and when the reporters ask for corroboration, he yells at them and says they have to WORK HARDER and investigate his claims more fully. Uhm...dickface, those reporters came to see your dumb ass as a part of the attempt to investigate those claims.
Of course, the best part is, after this was all over, was this:
The second Sinclair stopped taking questions, he fled the room and reporters were denied access to anyone but Sibley. I was a little disappointed until I heard the reason. Larry Sinclair was arrested after the press conference and is being held by the Washington, D.C. metropolitan police. He's been charged as a fugitive from justice; one of his warrants can be seen here.
For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of the MPD.
- Tax and the Single Girl: Megan Carpentier subjects the candidate's tax plans to actual scrutiny. Yes. It can be done. For you young single ladies, here's the upshot: no knockouts, Obama wins on points. [Glamocracy]
- ANC 3F Commissioner Frank Winstead, who is an assclown, attempted to put the kibosh on Comet Ping Pong's plan to extend hours and add outdoor seating. Previously, Frank Winstead, assclown, had freaked on Comet P-P for their outdoor picnic table, and made all sorts of Frank Winstead assclown loud noises at Politics and Prose, in the same little shopping strip, for their bench outside the store. In his case against Comet's expansion plans, Frank Winstead, the assclown, accused the restaurant's owner of "trying to turn this area into Adams Morgan with the murders and rapes." Indeed, as any Frank Winstead assclown will tell you, you go to Adams Morgan for the rapes, but you stay for the murders. He also accused the restaurant's owner of wanting to "fill his fat wallet," because This Is The Way Of Frank Winstead, Assclown. Happily, the gathered throng pushed back mightily against this Frank Winsteady Assclownery, accepting Comet's proposal by a 5-4 vote. Hooray. Of course, the other three members voting against Comet were likely, like Frank Winstead, assclowns. We are looking into it. [DCist]
- CityDesk asks, "How might one best stimulate the clitoris ironically?" Dunno. Give Cherkis a crack at it? [City Desk]
- THIS WAY LIES MADNESS. Klingle Road, THE MOST IMPORTANT URBAN DISPUTE OF THIS OR ANY OTHER TIME, is like a self-propagating nano-bot content/thought virus that threatens to infect everyone who writes in, on, about, near, or adjacent to DC. Now there are two posts at Yglesias' blog on the issue. How did this happen? BACK AWAY SLOWLY, MATT. ATTEMPT NO SUDDEN MOVES.
- Wow. This year's Fort Reno lineup is just flat out exceptional. SO GIVE GENEROUSLY. I totally would have braved arsenic for this.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
So, it's been pointed out to me by a colleague (not sure if I'm allowed to put her on the record (will correct if this is okay) so I'll only say she's very reliable) that it's probably not actually fair of me to assert that RADAR "broke" the story of Tim Russert's death. Based upon her take of the situation (which is a...reliable one), and I'm sort of paraphrasing here, Radar didn't so much "break" the story as they did "get a whiff of what was blowing in the breeze and yanked out their dick to dangle in the sweet rumory goodness." Again, I am sort of paraphrasing.
Anyway, it turns out that the actual breaker of the Russert story were the celebrated nerds of the Wikipedia. Rex Sorgatz traces the update to someone who works at " Internet Broadcasting, a company...that produces some NBC sites." Nice to know that with a great scoop in hand, someone was willing to think of making a Wikipedia update first. The one dude who was randomly monitoring the Tim Russert page when the news broke probably, uhm....had a reaction?
ME: Hey. It's me.
EDITOR: What's up?
ME: You know that piece that just posted about 9/11, terrorism, and law enforcement?
ME: Could you double check and make sure that I didn't use the name Cynthia Rowley where I meant to say Colleen Rowley?
EDITOR: Sure, I'll check.
ME: Not trying to downplay Cynthia Rowley's contribution or anything.
I've been studiously avoiding making any mention of the latest blog nerd tiff, currently roiling in NYC, that we shall call The Most Important Taking Back Of The Internet And Saving Of The Sad Young Literary Baby Seals Clusterfuckery Of Our Time, because I'm confident the intersection of my seven readers and interest in this story hovers around the null set. And besides, it was only an elegant diss from Alex Pareene a few days ago that has managed to keep my interest invested.
Still, this makes me happy. Not a day after tweeting to Yglesias, "Gessen ought to leave the internet to those who can handle it. It's like watching a harp seal attempt to operate a loom," the poor creature went out and tumbled that he had registered the domain "keithgessensucks.tumblr.com," someone - sure enough - went and discovered this wasn't true, and took it for themselves. Harp seal. Loom. Even with so little at stake, it nevertheless feels good to have sized this up correctly.
As I'm on page 22 of ATSYLM, this is a pretty bad time for Gessen to be having a prolonged SHOYOASS moment. It's sort of coloring the experience.
ALSO RELATED TO TUMBLING: "All of this is factual, especially the part about everyone is an idiot baby."
tumblr. - The Documentary from DaveAOK on Vimeo.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
What if it turns out we're ALL just aliens with state-issued drivers' licenses? Over at Weekend Gawker (Another Directory Of Other Wonderful Things), Ian Spiegelman cites a story on TG Daily that reports:
Scientists from the Imperial College of London claim to have found evidence that life on our planet did not originate from Earth itself. For the first time, the scientists say, it is confirmed that an important component of early genetic material found in meteorite fragments is of extraterrestrial origin.Said scientists discovered "uracil and xanthine, which are precursors to the molecules that make up DNA and RNA and are known as nucleobases in rock fragments of the Murchison meteorite, which crashed in Australia in 1969."
Apparently, the researchers were successful in proving that the molecules came from space and were not a result of contamination when the meteorite landed on Earth. What supports Martins claims is the fact that meteor showers are believed to have been common several billions of years ago on Earth: “Between 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago large numbers of rocks similar to the Murchison meteorite rained down on Earth at the time when primitive life was forming,” the press release from the Imperial College reads. “The heavy bombardment would have dropped large amounts of meteorite material to the surface on planets like Earth and Mars.”Spiegelman rightly exclaims: "We are fracking aliens!" No wonder I've been bothered lately by the thought that there must be some kind of way out of here!
When the City Paper last reported on today's city-wide triskaidekapocalypse, EIC Eric Wemple told readers, "We will be updating this story as it breaks." That was at 9:02AM on Friday morning, but just hang on, everybody, because I'm sure something new will happen any minute now.
I swear to you, I just do not get Katherine Heigl. Like, at all. I mean, first you go out an burn your bridges with the Judd Apatow comedy mafia, who are only producing the most bankable movie comedies around. Then you go and drop out of the Emmy race because, and I quote, "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention."
Hmmm. Since a Grey's Anatomy insider has already characterized this as "an ungrateful slap in the face," I'd have to seriously doubt whether Heigl has embarked on a path that's going to lead to an upgrade in the quality of material. But the real question for Heigl is this: Sweetie, when will you be giving back your 2007 Emmy for your work on Grey's Anatomy? Because it's not like that shit was Anna Karenina, either.
Also: 27 Dresses. I mean: Really.
Posted by The Deceiver at 6/14/2008
One interesting side note to today's Russert news is that the story was broken by Radar Magazine's own Alex Balk, a great writer, who writes the only truly necessary Tumblr, and a "father figure" to bloggers whose own fathers were referring to an empty bottle of bourbon when they said, "Someday, son, this will ALL be yours!"
For his part, Balk says, "Sigh. This really will be my legacy, won’t it?" But there's the jury duty story and that post that turned Gawker Media into a salt mine, though! Anyway, this is the case for preserving TMFTML, my friend. But nice work!
City Paper's Dave McKenna seems to be, as they say, losing his bearings. A pity, since he's part of the half of the staff that can regularly produce readable copy (in fact, his "The Syracuse Walking Dream" is probably the best locally-produced sports feature that'll be written all year). In a City Desk posting, apropos of nothing, he muses:
An early sign of Dan Snyder’s Acquisition Deficit Disorder came shortly after he took over the Redskins, when he purchased the DC franchise rights to the Arena Football League.
He never followed through on his pledge/threat to put an arena team in this market.
Of course, those who've watched Snyder closely know that no serious pledge or threat was ever really made to do any such thing. Snyder acquired the rights to the name "Washington Warriors" and connected it to a forthcoming Arena Football League team, but never moved that particular plan forward. In reality, the whole rigamarole was a half-baked bit of hedge-betting on Snyder's part because there was, at that time, a lawsuit filed by Suzan Shown Harjo, who sought a ruling under the Lanham Act that would force the Redskins to stop using their racist moniker. In the event of a successful claim, that would leave the "Warriors" as a quick and dirty substitute for Snyder. (I'm not certain that Snyder still controls these copyrights.)
Anyway, it's really puzzling that McKenna, in today's post, seems to be unaware of this context for Snyder's faux-AFL venture, since he need only avail himself of an article that he, in fact, wrote to gain the necessary information. If he is, in fact, aware of his past writings, well, I've got no explanation as to why he's pretending there was ever a sincere promise of a DC-based AFL team. The post does succeed in fulfilling part of the CP's mission, though: belittling their own readers. So, mission accomplished, I guess?
Friday, June 13, 2008
In celebration of R. Kelly's historic victory over child porn charges, we are bringing back this, created about one year ago.
OMG! Turns out that "Earth," in Battlestar Galactica is a ruined, dystopic place where everyone looks as if they were posing for the cover of The Joshua Tree! Somehow, I think I always knew.
Wow. Tim Russert died of a heart attack this afternoon, rather suddenly, rather shockingly, too soon. Obviously, I can't claim to have been a big fan of his career in the news. I had my problems with him. But he contributed a lot to NBC News and he loved his job and his life and his colleagues and he managed to do what he did without resorting to being the shrillest person in the room. It's really too bad. I have about 39 hours before I have to write about three paragraphs on this, and it is all that I will think about between now and then. It is sad, and I wish his family all the best.