March 28th, 2006

flavored with age

Update of things I didn't talk about yesterday

1. THE PREVALENCE OF DOUCHEBAGS ON LIVEJOURNAL

Look, I'll be honest with you: I'm approaching close to 200 people on my friends list, and no, I don't read every one of your entries. As a rule, I skip over anything where I am not mentioned by name, because I simply don't have time to read anything that isn't about how great I am. But I do try and catch up on occasion, and I have noticed that there are far too many douchebags around here. What's going on? Douchebags, everywhere I fucking look! I thought all the douchebags were on Friendster and MySpace, yet here they are, douchebagging it up like it's National Douchebag Awareness Week. I can't get into any specifics about it lest I be rightly accused of hypocrisy, but seriously, people: no more douchebaggery. I get enough of that at my job.

2. WHY I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT MARCH MADNESS

It's college basketball, people. Unless you're some kind of directionless alum who gets squishy stones at the thought of your university having a new reason to ask you for money, who cares? If you like college, send the alumni association a check. If you like basketball, watch the NBA -- the play is better, and there are far fewer 58-52 games. Don't give me this horseshit about how the game is more "pure" because the players "want it more"; that's insulting to professionals and exalting of amatuerism for its own sake. And don't even get me started on the sad, cryptopederastic oafs who are into high school sports. Of all the major sporting events, this one is the most bewildering to me. I'd rather watch NASCAR.

3. HOW GODDAMN HILARIOUS THE WHOLE BEN DOMENECH THING IS

Really, lots of people have already covered this; the rapid rise and pratlike fall of America's second-greatest underachiever has been so gleefully proctoscoped by bloggers around the world that it's already old news. A fine precis of it can be found here, on Phil Nugent's consistently excellent blog, but moving forward, the real question is: since the Post has inexplicably decided that they're going to replace Ben Caught Stealing with some other right-wing hack rather than wisely write the whole thing off as a botch-job from inception, who's it going to be? Between plagiarism (Ben Domenech, Monica Crowley), blatant fabrication (Michelle Malkin, Bernard Goldberg) and taking bribes under the table (Walter Williams, George Will), it's getting harder and harder to find scandal-free pundits. The Post needs to find someone relatively young, enthusiastic, relatable, scandal-free, and completely and totally batshit. I suggest Pamela Oshry of Atlas Shrugs; nothing would do more to force this once-great paper about a yard farther down the drain than having to read her crazed ravings every day.

4. HOW INSURANCE OF ALL KINDS, IN ADDITION TO BEING A TOTAL RACKET, IS A HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS

More on this later. Insurance, though, is basically organized, legalized gambling, and like gambling, it's a racket, only with far less enjoyable occasional payoffs. Insurance companies are big and successful for the same reason casinos have nice carpets.

5. HOW MY FRIENDS TOOM ME FOR A LOVELY NIGHT OUT AT HALA KAHIKI THIS WEEKEND

Read all about it here.

6. MY PICKS FOR AN ALL-DEPRESSING MIX CD, AN ALL-JOLLY ONE AND AN ALL ANTI-WAR ONE

I haven't had time to do this, but once I do, I'll post the mp3s for your downloading pleasure. Maybe sometime in late 2009, the way things are going, and by then we'll probably be at war with Jordan, so it'll all seem relevant again.

7. MISSING CHICAGO; ANTICIPATING MINNESOTA

Aside from missing my cats, my wonderful friends, and my job (HA HA no, just kidding with that last one), I've been overcome with melancholy lately pretty much everywhere I go. Which, when you get right down to it, is pretty stupid, because I'll carry the memory of this amazing city with me for the rest of my life, and it's not like I'm never coming back here again. Plus, a lot of it is kinda shallow -- I find myself missing restaurants and quirky little bookstores more than I do things that are essential parts of the city, like the architecture or the way Mayor Daley sweats so much it looks like someone ran a hose on him before every press conference. But still, I'm gonna miss this town. Balancing that, though, is the adventure and excitment of moving to a new place, of learning the quirks and secrets and history of a whole different city (or pair of cities). And, of course, I'm moving there for the three best reasons in the world: I'm going to write, I'm going to help take care of Li'l' Duce, and I'm going to be with the best girl in the world.

8. WHO SHOULD PLAY WONDER WOMAN

Not that shitbag who played the space hooker on "Serenity". Didn't anyone notice that she can't act, or has the Joss-Whedon-is-a-genius Kool-Aid proved so delicious that her detached, has-anyone-seen-my-personality screen presence has thus far avoided mention? Frankly, I don't know why this is even a question as long as Lucy Lawless is still alive, but if we have to go camp, let's throw it to Lindsay Lohan. She'd really sell that "in her satin tights, fighting for our rights" line in the soundtrack.

9. HOW I FELL DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS (THE DAY BEFORE) YESTERDAY

I was taking some trash out and it was dark and rainy and I missed the bottom step. Crash! Down I went, right on the small of my back. Boy did it hurt! Luckily I escaped fatal injury, and treated myself to a healing nutritional Slurpee, in frog flavor. NOTE: the frog flavor of Slurpee sucks. Do not buy it, even if you fell down some stairs. Maybe especially if you fell down some stairs.

10. LIVEJOURNAL INEXPLICABLY GIVING ME A BUNCH OF NEW USER ICONS, ALL OF WHICH I FILLED WITH DOPEY JUSTICE LEAGUE SCREENCAPS

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blowhard

Boy, you can't leave Town Hall alone for a minute...

I swear, I go away for one day and the pundit class soils itself in public. I guess I just can't have nice things.

Leading off, the always-reliable Dennis "My Son Has a Friend Who Isn't a Raving Anti-Semite" Prager pens a piece about how Muslims are worse than Nazis and commies put together. Setting the tone for his column with the cooly rational claim that the only people who could possibly disagree with his claim are "the willfully naive, America-haters, Jew-haters and those afraid to confront evil", he goes on to spell out the reasons why Islam is more of a threat than Nazism or the global communist conspiracy:

1. No one really believed in communism anyway, and the only reason anyone ever supported it was because they were afraid of the secret police. A nice dodge, this one, ignoring the dull, depressing reality that no authoritarian regime can survive without at least the partial consent of its people, and it lets him ignore the fact that the reason communism ever got a foothold in the first place is because of its wildfire popularity among working people who were tired of getting shit on by capitalists.

2. There are more Muslims than there were Nazis or communists. By this logic, of course, Republicans are more dangerous than the Manson Family.

3. Muslims, unlike Nazis and communists, do not fear death. This is a popular cavil with the Arab-bashing right; they cite suicide bombings (which, of course are neither unique to nor invented by Muslims) and the like to "prove" that Islamic fundamentalists don't fear death. They also like to toss around the phrase "death cult", like Allah is equatable to Cthulhu, and among the hardcore there's a fun cavil that Muslim women don't love their children, which is why they send them out to throw rocks at tanks, knowing they'll get killed by Israeli soldiers and they can get sympathy from misguided liberals. This last is a pretty grotesque claim; aside from the bizarre blame-shifting -- where the villain becomes the Palestinian mother who 'allows' her son to throw rocks at a tank instead of the Israeli soldier who murders a child for the crime of rock-throwing -- it recalls statements made by American racists (I've heard it from the mouths of members of my own family) that black women didn't love their children, because they let them go out and face the cops in Birmingham, knowing Bull Connor's dogs would maul them and they could be made to look like martyrs for the TV cameras. It's a pretty nice way to alienize your enemy: they aren't like us. They don't feel pain; they don't fear death. They're not, after all, human like we are. Makes it easier to kill them, knowing they don't mind.

Moving on, humorless Walter Peck impersonator Brent Bozell shows why he should never, ever write anything that deals with comedy, as he attacks Comedy Central for going too far. He refers to the South Park Scientology flap even though it's been thoroughly discredited, and claims that only Christianity is acceptable to mock on this network of evil. Citing as unfunny a number of funny gags, he then excoriates Drawn Together for its portrayal of Christians as humorless fire-and-brimstone scolds, which is pretty funny, given that Bozell's attack on the show pretty well establishes him as, well, a humorless fire-and-brimstone scold. The best part of the piece, though, is where, in a dismally failed attempt to pretend he is not the most humorless man at Town Hall, Brent discusses what kind of comedy DOES work for him: "giant of the genre" Don Rickles, and Jackie Mason, "one of the funniest men in America". Apparently, comics born after the Great Depression are just too edgy for our man Brent.

Finally, Rebecca Hagelin brings us a boringly typical attack on Grand Theft Auto: filled with distortions and misstatements, utterly hysterical (it's a "murder simulator"!), and containing a big fat plug for her book. The highlight, again, comes early on, when she says this:

“Life is like a video game. Everyone has to die sometime.”

If you spent part of your youth playing 'Pac-Man' and 'Space Invaders', such a statement must seem bizarre. Video games were...well, games -- innocent diversions that did nothing worse than eat up dotted lines and too much of our allowances. A waste of time? Perhaps. But nobody got hurt.


HA HA HA HA, yeah, nobody got hurt in 'Space Invaders', all right, Bec! No one except the thousands of marauding aliens who you blew to smithereens with your laser cannon! Or the entire population of Earth which perished when the aliens landed! Yes, who can forget the golden age of non-violent, innocent, harmless video games? I believe it lasted from the introduction of 'Pong' in 1972 until one second later when someone invented violent, conflict-oriented games which have totally dominated the field continually ever since then. Good times!
mighty cola

What it says on my big Diet Coke bottle

"EASY TO POUR, STORE AND SHARE!"

Okay, I understand 'share'. I mean, this is 24 goddamn ounces of soda pop, here. I could share this with the Swiss Army and have enough left over to make a Long Island Iced Tea.

'Store' seems a bit odd; the bottle is at least ten inches high, containing as it does a kidney-straining pint and a half of brown soda. If anything, it seems like it would be hard to store, especially as compared to, say, a 12-ounce can, instead of easy.

But they really lose me with 'pour'. Easy to pour? Easy to POUR? Not only does it appear to have the exact same size mouth as any other size of Coke bottle, but...but...has this been a problem with previous iterations of Coca-Cola? That it's been too hard to pour?

"Say, Bill, what have you got there?"

"It's a 16-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, Jim."

"Mmmm, delicious Coca-Cola! I bet it's tasty."

"To be frank with you, I don't know. I cannot say."

"Wha...why's that, Bill?"

"Because I can't get it out of the container, Jim. It's just too hard to pour. If only they'd make a container that was easy to pour! Then I wouldn't have to drink Coke by sticking a needle in the bottom and drip-feeding it through this colostomy bag."

Another problem solved through the innovative brilliance of consumer capitalism!
it says here...

Things Devoutly To Be Wished

1. That someone titles their obituary of this man "CASPAR THE FRIENDLY GHOST".

2. That the trend established when Scarlett Johansson won FHM's "Sexiest Woman Alive" poll continues. Many photocaptioners and headline writers used "Scarlett Fever!" in their pieces, leading me to hope that next year singer/DJ Lisa German wins and the headlines will say "German Measles!" Are there any young starlets named "Black"? How about "Ebola"?

3. That Abdul Rahman and Charles Taylor were both taken by the same people to the same place, and that they come for Silvio Berlusconi next.
getting my goat

Finally, a poll about "fucking" (as opposed to a poll about fucking)

This article is delightfully absurd on so, so many levels.

- The cutesy-pie "this is a story about words we can't print in this story" opening, the tone of which carries throughout the article

- The tremendously sad picture of the schmuck bartender sitting around his living room waiting for someone to curse, I guess

- The obligatory quotes from the cane-shaking granny about how 'those' words aren't in the dictionary, and how there's too much filth on the box and "I'm not going to pay $54 a month for cable and listen to that garbage"

- The ignorance displayed throughout the whole article, even by Miss Manners who should know better, of the fact that profanity is relative and that whether or not a word is obscene depends on its usage and that therefore the much-discussed increase is less a sign of our culture's corruption than it is a sign that those words probably shouldn't be considered obscene anymore

- How almost everyone interviewed says that sure, THEY may use swears, but not like all the OTHER foul-mouthed people you encounter these days

- The way the article ends with a lament for the good old days, only it's coming from a 31-year-old security guard, meaning that he's longing for the golden innocence of the late 1970s and early 1980s

- The fact that the headline reads "Americans See, Hear More Profanity", even though nowhere in the article does it talk about people seeing more profanity, or even clarify how that would be possible (what does that mean, a big billboard saying "EAT MORE GODDAMN THOMAS' ENGLISH MUFFINS, THEY'RE FUCKING DELICIOUS"?)

- The way the whole article sets off my bullshit detector at level nineteen and, even if I were sympathetic to this lame notion that we live in an "Age of Profanity", the entire thing is so lazily written, poorly researched and sloppily thought-out that it would just make me hostile to the whole idea after reading it