Friday, May 25, 2007

Commemorating those who died for Freedom, or "Woo-HOO!! Where's the sunscreen?! Come in early for three days of holiday savings! HOW much for gas?! OMG, I look so faaat!! Pop me one's those bad boys, wouldja? Number 37 on our list of the Top 100 Summer Songs! Howd'ya wantcher burger? Are we THERE yet?!"

Here in Choc City, one cannot avoid--even if one tries really, really hard--the sights and sounds of contemporary America remembering its war dead in ways that are completely antithetical to remembering its war dead. 'Cause, here in Choc City, we take our pious hedonism neat, beer back. Make that "four beers back". Bird can't fly on one wing, y'know! Har har!

So, just a few notes from your sobsister regarding this most sacred of secular weekends:

1) "Rolling Thunder"--that exhaust-spewing mass of fat and grizzled men in leathers and denim patches astride the Official Clichéd Motorcycle of the Memorial Day Weekend™--will make traffic and, really, Life Itself anywhere near the National Mall unbearable thanks to their felt need to remember noisily their brothers who fell in Viet Nam. Those of the riders who were, in fact, anywhere near Viet Nam in the '60s, that is, and who aren't, instead, bloated middle-managers with a Stars'n'Stripes bandana and a hardon to straddle steel with the big boys. Ah yes, nothing says "Rest In Peace" like the sound of a half-million Yobbos With Attitude riding muffler-free "hawgs". Just like pourin' out a li'l for my homies by dropping three cases of wine down a steel staircase.

2) In that vein, it's nice of President Bush to have given us so many new people to commemorate. And he says there'll be plenty more come summer. He's thoughtful like that.

3) The "Rolling Thunder" crowd aside, many fat people, many, many fat people of all ages, are in town. High school children from landlocked states. Parents pushing children pushing strollers into museums for no discernible reason. Yesterday, I briefly considered standing outside the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art as it was being turned into a recreation in marble, lipids, and polyester of Omaha Beach on D-Day and offering Free Context. As in: Hello. This museum contains Art. It does not move. It does not make sounds. It will not interface with your mp3 devices or your camcorders. It is meant to be enjoyed, ideally in silence, by simple observation. A knowledge of the subject matter of the canvas is helpful but not essential. Much of this Art is from another continent. A continent is a large land mass. There are seven of these land masses in the world. Most of this Art is from the continent called Europe. Which is not really a continent except in the minds of the Caucasian cartographers and historians who devised this classification system. Again, the Art does not move or make sounds. Please do not annoy other museumgoers by your impatience at the apparent refusal of the Art to move or make sounds.

4) Almost everything at my local icosatetraplex blows dead dogs. And not recently-deceased ones either. I have zero interest in seeing Shrek 3: Phoning It In or Pirates of the Caribbean 3: What The Fuck Is The Storyline Again?. I do not want under any circumstances to see Bug or Vacancy or *shudder* Delta Farce. I want to see Paprika but have no idea when it's coming here. Have I mentioned that ninety percent of everything is crap? Yes, and a quick glance at your local movie listings will reaffirm this truth any time you feel like contradicting Theodore Sturgeon.

5) On the up side, I managed to make it through an entire five months without having to hear any of the trilling twats competing on American Idol "sing" even one loopy, doodly, melismatic note. I understand a young girl won this season. Call me when a conga-dancing poodle is in the running and I may--that's "may"--tune in. Remember that "ninety percent rule"? Bump it up to ninety-five percent for anything associated with American Idol.

6) Apropos of nothing, I blame Osama bin Laden for 24. I mean, Kiefer Sutherland's supposed to be a nice guy and all? but no. And not just "no" but "hell no".

7) Walking past the Capitol yesterday, the following thought occurred to me: for the world's biggest whorehouse, it don't smell much like fish.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"I Love My Cigar But I Take It Out Every Once In A While", Dept.

The Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar Family

Sixteen Jesus-loving children raised in a born-again home where their clothing options are regimented (skirts or dresses not pants and white socks for the girls, polo shirts, slacks, and black socks for the boys) and each day is punctuated with multiple Bible readings and Bible study with "Daddy".

I suppose one's reaction to this (living fucking hell or gosh-a-roonie goodness?) is as valid a litmus test as any to determine whether one should be living in a blue or red state. The 21st or the 17th century.

You see, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of Arkansas decided a long time ago that they'd have as many children as the Good Lord saw fit to give them. Whether or not they were ever clear on the mechanics and consequences of Mister Duggar sticking his winkie in Missus Duggar's woo-woo is not known. At any rate, sixteen Caucasian Christian births later, there they are.

The Discovery Health website, for some reason, has pages devoted to this warren of Scripture-spouting rabbits. It includes "Fun Facts" like "Michelle Duggar, female head of the Duggar household (and, yeah, I am totally sure that's her title at home: "female head"), has been pregnant for 126 months of her life." Yow, kids! That is a Fun Fact! At least I think subjecting a human being to nausea, distension, and hormone hell for over ten years because of an uncorroborated belief in the imagined will of the Invisible White Man in the Sky is fun! Don't you?!

But maybe I should let the Duggars speak for themselves. Here's Michelle Duggar, a woman who would've been well-served learning about the advantages of fellatio to completion, describing one of the day's activities,
"9:00 p.m. is Bible time with Daddy. This is probably our favorite time of day. Daddy reads the Bible & we discuss the passage together. We talk about the day & bring out points of how to apply what we have learned. We enjoy making up skits & acting out examples of right responses & wrong responses."

Is that not precious? Like Ned Flanders as Joseph Goebbels. I wonder what "right responses" and "wrong responses" entail? I'm going to have to guess that responses that could lead an unwitting Duggar down the path to Liberal Humanism are "wrong". And those that don't make "Daddy" angry are "right". Yeah. She's forty years old and refers to her husband as "Daddy" to interviewers. Yeah. Oh, and did you know that all of their children, actually everyone in the family except Michelle, has a name that begins with "J", you know, as in "Jim Bob"? You'd think that for the pounding her uterus has taken, she'd've gotten to name the kids "Micah" and "Mulder" and "Menarche" and "Maraschino". But I don't think that's what "Daddy" wanted. No. Probably not what "Daddy" wanted at all. And did you know that sometimes they have "Daddy Days" when he overrides their schedule of responsibilities and their daily checklists and "takes the children out for family time, a field trip or a service project"? Yeah. "Daddy Days". I get the feeling that Mommy doesn't get many Days. There's a horse book out there called Blessed Are The Brood Mares. She may derive some comfort from that knowledge.

So, there you have it.
In the Empire of Daddy, all the subjects are happy.

Who wants to read today's excerpt from Leviticus?
Ooh, ME, Daddy! Pick ME!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

We Sold Our Soul for Rock'n'Roll...and to win Super Tuesday, Dept. - Campaign Song Poll


Is there's anything more indicative of the spirit of Hillary Clinton's campaign than the linked page, a poll that gives Americans the "opportunity" to vote on her campaign song?


Let's see...where to start...?

I know! How about the crap collection of tunes afforded us for our voting duty (itself a neat little analogue for the American electoral process)? We have two U2 songs on account of how Bono is Mother Teresa in big-ass old-people shades. One song by the Temptations and one by the Staple Singers on account of how Hill thinks the Black people, they haven't made inoffensive music since 1969, and, besides, she's got the African-American vote like Mitt Romney has the lesbian vegan pacifist vote. A Chixie Dicks tune on account of how they got shellacked for dissing Georgie-Porge and no other country act in the entire U. S. of A. would ever allow itself to be blighted by association with the Hillbot. A Shania Twain song on account of how she's sorta country even though she's a Canuckster and she don't write no ya-can't-spell-"Iraq"-without-J-E-S-U-S songs. A Smash Mouth song and one by Jesus Jones on account of somebody thinks it's 1996. And one by KT Tunstall on account of how, like, one of Hillary's interns?, like, watches So You Think You Can Dance? and they, like, use it there? and, like, it's rilly cool?

My fervent, white-knuckled hope is that this is only the first step in the utter democratization of Hillary's campaign to retake the White House. I hope next to be able to vote on her hairdo. Then on her wardrobe. Then on her Iraq policy. Then on whether she uses a water-based vs. a silicone-based lube mindful of the impact that'll have on her choice of dildo. Then on the sparkly-GIF quotient on her home page. Then on her health-care policy. Then on her wine pairing with dinner. Then on her hairdo again.

By that point, I think we as a nation will have arrived at Election Day prepped and ready not to vote for her for President on account of how she'd apparently shaft a snake in a sandstorm to win.

That said, I have to admit: I did submit two write-in candidates for the poll. Much as I suppose I'll do come November 4, 2008. The first was W*A*S*P's heartstring-tugging ballad "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)" in fond recollection of how her ol' bunkmate, the Tipster, listed it on the PMRC's "Filthy Fifteen" songs along with such reprehensible ditties as Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" and Madge's "Dress You Up". Yeah, that all seemed to make so much sense to the four Beltway Bottle-Blonde Bimbos who formed the PMRC. Why, here they are now!


EEEEK!!! Hope I didn't put you off your feed, kids!

Anyhoo, my second write-in tune was bit more serious in intent, a song I actually thought might be of some relevance to the Hillary movement. Because it's so much more than a mere campaign now. It's a fucking movement. A large, steaming movement. And that song is Queen's immortal "Bohemian Rhapsody". Why?, I hear you ask. Could it be because it's the gayest hard-rock song ever? Perhaps its appeal to the elusive Wayne's World fanboy demographic? No, although both are good guesses. The answer is lodged in a line that repeats thrice in the song to express the singer's innermost sentiment, the final time just before the shimmering waves of the struck gong end the number:

And it goes:
"...any way the wind blows..."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Here at Schadenfreude Central..., Dept.

Wolfowitz to resign from World Bank - Yahoo! News

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Bye bye baby bye bye
It's your turn to cry
That's why we have to say goodbye
So say goodbye"

Oh, Madonna, is there any topic your songs cannot be recontextualized to comment upon?

So, now that Wolfie's playing the lead in the rep production of Dead Man Walking, maybe his Delilah-on-detail, the Black Widow of the Beltway, Shaha Riza, can be persuaded to train her sights on another man. A man with power. Staying power, if you know what I mean. A mucho macho man. A no-way-Jose with a slicked-up coif that could lube a fleet of Ford Crown Vics.

A man

Li'l Albertito Gonzales!

'Cause a sense of decency ain't getting him to quit. Or a sense of shame. Or a sense of accountability.

So, as the evening light flickers and fades o'er the grandeur, the glory, the hubrismeister-in-holey-socks that was Wolfie, let us hope that Shaha Riza isn't too full from devouring her last mate to polish off the Half-Pint Hispanic for dessert.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Heads I Win, Tales You Lose, Dept.


Here's how I see it:

-if what he claimed to believe--and rarely practiced--isn't true, he is so very clear on that right now. Assuming his consciousness exists in any way that can be said to be cognizant of just how off the mark he was.

-if, however, what he claimed to believe--and rarely practiced--is true, he is so very fucked right now. Because I'm guessing Jesus has strapped on steel-toed boots in anticipation of an eternity of ass-kicking.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: some people I'm only willing to let off scot-free from this life because their crimes can and will be requited on a cosmic scale.

George, Dick, Don, Condi, Karl, just a little something for your screensaver:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear --
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Falwell was a cunt.
He is now a dead cunt.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Insert Obligatory "Another One Bites The Dust" Reference Here, Dept.

McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, resigning - Yahoo! News

Do y'all remember the Block-heads? They were Gumby's nemeses. One had a "G" on his block head, the other a "J". Mute mischievous assholes. Yet incompetent and stupid at the same time. Made at least as big a mess for themselves as they did for good ol' Gumby.

Now-former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has a block head. Literally. It's cubical. And one of those hairlines where there's about two inches between his 1963 'do and his non-existent eyebrows.

My intention here is not to indicate that he's like one of the Block-heads in behavior. They may have been stupid but they weren't robotic, humorless apparatchik weasels. No, my intention was simply to draw attention to the fact that now-former DAG McNulty's head is cubical.

Oh, and he most-unwillingly took a bullet for Li'l Albertito Gonzales who, tenacious bugger that he be, still ain't giving up his comfy chair. No go, Alber-to. I fully expect to see his fingernail gougings running from his desktop down the hall down the stairs out the door and over the sidewalk in front of Justice on the day they finally order two bruisers to drag him out of his office.

Li'l Albertito is not a Block-head either. He's simply a corrupt and arrogant asshole who thinks he's wearing the +5 Elven Cloak of Impunity. Regarding his Number 2 (and doesn't that work on so many levels?), Li'l Albertito said, "Paul is an outstanding public servant and a fine attorney who has been valued here at the department, by me and so many others, as both a colleague and a friend." Which in English means: I don't give a fuck if you rape this ofay motherfucker's ass, long as you don't touch a strand on my immaculately-oiled head.

Oh, Li'l Albertito!
You are such a scamp!
So, which do movie you think this is: Last Man Standing or Ten Little Indians?
Better watch out for that butler.
He's got the shifty eyes.
The Secret Garten, Dept.

Readers will know that I generally despise the Food Network's "personalities". The yawping Rachael Ray like a wet Labrador retriever and you in your dinner clothes. The Joker-grinning Giada De Laurentiis and her invariably-bared cleavage. The y'all-come-back-now-y'hear? cornpone bullshit of Paula Deen who inexplicably thinks I, as a viewer, give any size rat's ass you might propose about her sons and grandkids and her late-in-life marriage and especially her artery-clogging, tourist-trap "kew-zeen". I mean, it's as if the focus groups for these shows (and their spinoff magazines and books) were drawn from a benighted pool of gaptoothed, chinless goobers who think Branson, Missouri is just a little too high-class for the likes of themselves. (And that's just the women. Don't get me started on Emeril and his bridge'n'tunnel minstrel show.)

Among their number, I've always included Ina Garten. Despite the fact that hers are some of the best recipes on the distaff side of Food Network.
Mainly because of her on-screen persona.
Her horribly whiny, clutchy, neeeeeedy on-screen persona.

I watched her "Boss for Dinner" episode again yesterday wherein she prepares garlic bread and spaghetti and meatballs for Stephen Drucker, her "boss" at House Beautiful magazine, and it was actually excruciatingly-painful to see. Her fawning, desperate-to-please manner, her nervous laughter at the dead air, her solicitations for praise, all confronted by the supercilious smiles of Drucker and his associates who seem to tolerate her because, you know, they have to. One so strongly senses that, as soon as she leaves the room, the first words out of any one of their mouths are "ohmyghod, do you believe what she..." Garten seems so brutally insecure about herself and her work that, after a while, one ceases to be irritated by her incessant requests for validation from any of her guests ("Isn't this wonderful? Isn't this great? Isn't this delicious?") and, instead, commences to feel deep discomfort at her naked need for approval. And this is a cooking show for fuck's sake. I just want a recipe for meat loaf, not an searing insight into the host's psyche.

Imagine my shock'n'surprise, then, when I read the Wikipedia article on Ina Garten and found that she is and has been a very, very accomplished person. Married for almost forty years, MBA from George Washington University, budget analyst for nuclear energy under Presidents Ford and Carter, successful real-estate flipper, very canny business owner, super-successful author, in addition to her achievements and recognition as a developer and presenter of excellent, demystified recipes for home cooks.

So, what the fuck?

Is her onscreen persona something into which she slips? Or is her onscreen self a faithful depiction of Ina Garten?
Because neither makes me feel particularly good.
For, if the latter, I just feel sorry for her and, really, I don't want to feel anything while watching Food Network besides lust for the treats on display.
If the latter, however, then I feel insulted that someone who's accomplished so much would condescend so brazenly to a perceived segment of the viewing public that might feel daunted by a presenter who's intelligent and able.

That's why I love Nigella Lawson's first series, Nigella Bites. It was done for UK Channel 4 and it's presented in conversational English spoken at a proper speed by an obviously-intelligent woman with a sense of humor. The show is not aimed at idiots or mall zombies. Bigger words and occasional cultural allusions are sprinkled in her rapid speech alongside bits of Polari and Yiddish. She makes jokes, half under her breath, that aren't overplayed and explained and forced into catchphrase status. By contrast, her show for Food Network, Nigella Feasts, is considerably less enjoyable. The overplayed "Englishness", the plummy "poetic" descriptions of the food, the sloooowness of speech. It plays into every parody of Lawson I've seen and yet is presumably exactly what Food Network wants. A name "class act" to counterbalance sorority sis Ray and Ozark yahoo Dean. But compared with her earlier work, the new show reeks of calculation and condescension. The 1999-2001 Nigella was hot, smart, fast, fun. The 2006 Nigella is panto Joan Collins.

So, who knows who Ina Garten really is? Or Nigella Lawson? Or any of these people? While that is a question one could really ask of any familiar TV or movie face--do you have any real sense of who Kiefer Sutherland or Jay Leno or Katie Couric really is?--the fact that Food Network chooses to present each of its presenters in the worst possible facet of his or her personality says so very much about how a specialized "foodie" channel that features ads for Cool Whip and Miracle Whip and Velveeta views its audience: a sea of mouths ready to swallow anything so long as it's sickly-sweet, inoffensively-bland, and easy-to-pronounce.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Sucking in the Seventies. And the Eighties. And the Nineties. And the..., or schlemiel! schlimazel! you are really not a very talented filmmaker! Dept.

Apropos of nothing besides the fact that his Georgia Rule opened today to almost-unanimous critical abuse, has Garry Marshall ever, that's "evereverEVER", made a movie that didn't blow like a Nor'easter?

I mean, consider the man's filmography: Both Princess Diaries. Raising Helen. Runaway Bride. The Other Sister. *shudder* Exit to Eden. Nothing in Common.

God damn. After you total your car four or five times, at least the DMV considers revoking your license.

Marshall's films tend to be unfunny sitcoms and hamhanded melodramas. And, sometimes, horrible hybridizations of the twain, like filmic pickled-punks jarred and displayed to midway crowds the director must assume are comprised entirely of plus-size bachelorettes with little education, less sophistication, and a ready vat of chocolate-chip cookie dough. That he managed to cajole/blackmail three "name" actresses (Felicity Huffman the prize of the group) into making his most recent treacle-smeared abortion speaks volumes to the paucity of worthwhile films for women. (I mean, Jane Fonda comes out of a fifteen-year-long retirement from film to make Georgia Rule and Monster-in-Law? Wow, second-billing to J.Lo and L.bLo. Couldn't she find more dignified work in, say, Arkansas dinner theater?)

So, do the cinematic world a favor. Rather than encourage Marshall's serial demolition of the artform, check to see if there's a Happy Days or Laverne and Shirley on tonight. At least the laugh track'll do the work for you and you don't have to worry about parking.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Softball Hangs, Fat, Over The Plate, Dept.

Sometimes a story just comes over to you, taps you on the shoulder, and plants a big wet smooch right on your kisser.

Courtesy of KUTV "Where Irony Goes to Die", the local CBS affiliate in Salt Like City and via the ever-vigilant Wonkette.

There's this fellow out there in the Land of Brigham and Steve and Egg Fu Young. He's seventeen years of age, by the name of Brigham Larkin. Brigham loves the National Anthem, sings it every day at home and around town when given the opportunity. And he loves President George W. Bush to the extent even of trying to dress like him, down to the selection of patriotic ties.

You see, Brigham is retarded.

His condition notwithstanding, he maintains a patriotic fervor and love for the Chief Executive that many unretarded folk would be hard put to match. But let's let the happy Caucasians at KUTV News tell the story:

"White Male Anchor: Welcone back. He is a young man who loves his country and wants to lead it!
White Female Anchor: He dresses the part and he's mastered the National Anthem. Nicole Hunter is here with a story '2 Inspire'. This man is remarkable.
Nicole Hunter: Love him! I can't even tell you,
(assorted chuckles and 'awww's from the anchors)
Nicole Hunter: I still just get so tickled when I think about my afternoon with him. He is talented, he's funny, and oh my gosh! oh, he's awesome! Just take a look.

(we see a young man in a suit press a button on a boom box and a recording of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' pours forth.)
Brigham's Mom: I really couldn't count how many times a day...
Voice-over: Seventeen-year-old Brigham Larkin comes home from high school and begins his daily routine.
Brigham's Mom: He walks right in his room, puts on his shirt and tie, goes downstairs to the bathroom in front of the big mirror
(we see him singing loudly and tunelessly to the recording)
Brigham's Mom:...just stands there and sings and sings and sings.
Voice-over: Ready to break into song anywhere and for anyone.
(we see him standing in the living room singing the National Anthem acappella)
Brigham's Mom: I think because of his disability is why people are so attracted to watching him accomplish this song.
Voice-over: Brigham has Down's Syndrome. Although technically a disability, it doesn't slow him down one bit!
Brigham's Mom: There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham.
(we see him on his front steps singing the National Anthem, full-voice)
Voice-over: It certainly helps with his budding singing career and he's very interested in politics.
Brigham: I love President Bush a lot. And I want to be President.
Voice-over: Pictures of the White House and a lifesize cutout of the President are in his room, along with a letter and a picture he was sent by the President.
(we see the signed letter and a photo of Bush boarding his helicopter)
Brigham: He has a helicopter behind his White House.
Voice-over: His wardrobe is even Bush-inspired.
(we see him showing his closet to the reporter)
Brigham: He wears a blue tie...
Voice-over: That would be one of Brigham's other focuses: ties.
(we see several hangars on which are draped a number of blue, red, and flag-patterned ties)
Brigham's Mom: Oh, heavens. Brigham is a tie collector. He probably has...I'd say about...seventy ties in his closet?
Voice-over: Most of which he says President Bush wore on TV.
Brigham's Mom: He's got about ten different...umm...Stars-and-Stripes ties and red-white-and-blue ties...
(we see him standing in front of a mirror singing along to a recording of the National Anthem)
Voice-over: Each of them getting their chance in front of the mirror.
(we see him from a different angle in front of the large bathroom mirror)
Brigham: I turn up my radio real loud and my mom hears me sing.
(we see him singing with brio before the mirror)
Brigham: I like it when Mom goes 'SHHHH!!'
Brigham's Mom: He is quite funny and entertaining.
(we see him reaching the climax of the song)
Brigham's Mom: Although his notes aren't perfect every time, I think that everyone who sees him sing this song can feel his love for the song and sets aside maybe a few of the errors that may be in the tune of the song and really takes if for the spirit and the love of the song that Brigham portrays when he sings it.
(we see Brigham howl out the final 'braaaave'. he then switches off his boom box.)
(end footage)

Nicole Hunter: Uhh! Just wanted to take him home with me.
White Female Anchor: I think he's precious.
Nicole Hunter: Love him, love him, love him! Now he's been singing at some of the City Council meetings.
White Female Anchor: Awww...
Nicole Hunter: His mom is really encouraging him to get out and do more public things and I actually am encouraging all of our viewers to e-mail me, this is an e-mail that I got from his mother, I try to do all the stories that come to me, it's on the website, '2 Inspire", just click on the link and send me an e-mail and tell me about the wonderful people.
White Male Anchor: He sure has Bush's wardrobe down.
Nicole Hunter: He does.
White Male Anchor: He does.
Nicole Hunter: He might be the first person taking fashion advice from President Bush.
White Male Anchor: Ha ha ha ha!
White Female Anchor: There you go!
Nicole Hunter: It's working for him though.
White Male Anchor: Ooo-ooh!"

Oh, where do I begin?

Maybe the raw condescension that allows a television reporter to treat a retarded teen-ager like an adorable stray puppy. Amazingly, she didn't say "I could spread him on a cracker and just gobble him up!". Perhaps she'd already said "LOVE him!" enough times that she didn't want viewers to, you know, wonder.

Or perhaps the coping mechanism that allows Carole Garber, Brigham's mother and what's up with the different last name? and where's Mister Larkin?, to exhibit her son on television. Ostensibly for his own good and to develop his social skills but maybe and understandably to help get him out of the fucking house for the love of Christ on the cross!, he's driving me nuts with the off-tune bellowing!

Or the fact that this is either the most patriotic or most subversive human-interest segment this station will ever run. I mean, come on. He's retarded and loves Bush? If Jon Stewart ran this, a right-wing shitstorm would break over Tenth Avenue. In a quote from the article that accompanies this clip on the page, we read the entirety of a statement Carole Garber made that had been truncated by the intrusive voice-over, "'There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham,' she says. 'Sometimes if you look at what's going to get you ahead in the world, maybe his social skills is what will push him ahead.'" Could there be a better thumbnail portrait of--or campaign slogan for--George W. Bush? "Sure, he's retarded but he's sociable!"

Or how Down's Syndrome is "technically a disability". Yeah, it's a disability...for pussies! I mean, go ahead, claim you're quote-unquote disabled. Just because you're, what?, "physically and mentally challenged"? Why aren't you more like Brigham, huh?! He's politically-aware and -active! You malingering goldbrick! Drop and give me twenty!!

Or Nicole dissing the Prez and Brigham and then very quickly snatching it back with that slick "It's working for him though". Oh, yeah, Nicole, way to CYA! I'm sure nobody noticed that. Not after your award-winning Nicole-and-Brigham-sittin'-in-a-tree performance. But, please, speak into the microphone: do you really "love him"?! Do you really want to "take him home" with you?! He's barely-legal, for fuck's sake! And he's mentally-incapacitated! Or is that how you get your kicks, you sick animal?!

All this said, I can't figure out if Carole Garber is speaking out of a mother's love or speaking out of a woman's desire to blow smoke up a reporter's ass. "There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham." Ummm...yeah... "Although his notes aren't perfect every time..." Ummm...nooo.... And would this be a story '2 Inspire' if, instead of singing, Brigham masturbated compulsively and multiply every day in front of the big bathroom mirror? What if he idolized Osama bin Laden and had cutouts and pictures of the master terrorist all over his room? Would conspicuously-single "Nicole Hunter" still "LOVE him!"?

Yeah. Wild times in the SLC. Go watch the segment. Flat print in black'n'white just doesn't convey the texture of this piece.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Still Not Laughing, Dept.

Your sobsister watched the SNL in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation special last night.

Two things occurred to me upon completion of this televisual feast.

1) man, they chose to feature some mediocre bands to bookend the comedy clip segments. Barenaked Ladies? Gin Blossoms? Blues Traveler? Dave Matthews Band? I'm assuming/fervently-hoping that the songs featured in these bits commented on the topic being discussed in the bookended section. 'Cause otherwise the 1990s on SNL were disproportionately skewed towards forgettable-cum-annoying "alternative"-cum-"jam" bands-cum-opportunities to get up and see what's in the fridge. Have I mentioned that John Popper harmonica solos make my eyes cross and ears bleed? And not in a good way.

2) while the show chose not to duck some of the controversy attendant on its life in the '90s (the Norm Macdonald firing, SNL as a white boys' club), the single most consistent and damning criticism of the show at the time (and, basically, since 1980)--that it just wasn't that funny--was deflected by pointing to the subsequent fame and fortune of its marquee players (Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, and to the fact that the media voices offering this criticism were Boomers with a different idea of what comedy should be. Presumably, "funny".

(The corollary to this, of course, would be the number of amazingly-crap films built on the flimsiest of '90s-era SNL characters. Hey, howzabout a It's Pat/A Night at the Roxbury/Superstar/Stuart Saves His Family quadruple-feature?! Ha ha! No need to bring ipecac to that party! That they managed to avoid making a Cajunman or Copy Guy movie is a modern miracle on par with the appearance of the Virgin Mary on a corn tortilla.)

In refutation of this (and Robert Smigel's dear-God-hopefully-ironic defense of Adam Sandler, "he was really deconstructing sketch comedy"), I'd say that "subsequent fame and fortune" (the flaws of a hindsight argument aside) does nothing to demonstrate that they were funny then. Or that they were ever funny. 'Cause, really, no-one should have to endure an entire Adam Sandler film. Or one of David Spade's. Or David Spade and Chris Farley's. Because there is a fearful-wide canyon between creative work that makes money and creative work that's any good. The fact these actors became rich'n'famous does not in any way imply they were creating anything other than forgettable multiplex fodder, right? I mean, we're all on the same page here, no? 'Cause otherwise Chris Tucker would have to be considered a comic genius. And McDonald's haute cuisine.

Further, I'm going to have to call a wee bit o' the auld bullshit on the notion that creaky ol' Boomers couldn't "get" these young lions of comedy. SNL honcho Lorne Michaels is even credited at one point for continuing to air these segments--despite the fact that he himself didn't get them or consider them funny--because the kids liked them. Me, I would have to reconsider my judgment if I ceded creative and quality control to stoned numskulls viewers because they howl at yet another appearance of Operaman. But I'm not Lorne Michaels who, if nothing else, is adept at feeding the public what it doesn't know it wants but what he knows it'll be able to digest. Now, do generational differences exist in humor? I myself don't think so. Putting aside the rose-colored glasses of camp and nostalgia, I think crap humor from the '20s or '50s is still crap, . And funny remains funny, be it Mack Sennett or the Marx Brothers or Woody Allen. Okay, early/mid Woody Allen. And while watching Sandler channel his inner nine-year-old might've been interesting, it wasn't and isn't funny.

This isn't to take a Manichaean view of SNL's history: first cast=good, everything else=shit. There were, of course, funny bits and great actors in the '90s, just as there were duds back in the halcyon days of Belushi and Aykroyd and Radner. But the unfortunate thing about the '90s-era SNL (and one could just as easily say this about the '80s and '00s versions as well) is that the mold for the show had been formed by the "classic" cast in terms of sketch types and character types, of the show's rhythms and continuities and transitions. And subsequent cast iterations have been stuck in a very uncomfortable crevice between slavishly recreating that style (itself an admixture of Mad magazine, '60s counterculture/postmodernism, Second City/Groundlings improv, and Ivy League humor magazines) and trying to craft a unique and independent model.

I watched a recent episode, my first in at least a year. It was fitfully amusing. Perhaps "amusing" is too strong a word. Maybe I should say there were minutes here and there that I could see being considered theoretically amusing. I saw how peg "A" entered hole "B" and understood how one might expect humor to result. But did I laugh? No. Did I chuckle? No. Did I smile? Mmm...maybe. Twice.

Ninety minutes, two half-smiles.
Maybe YouTube and viral videos will serve as the minor leagues from which SNL will draw its future talent, thereby co-opting its competition and ensuring its own survival.
Maybe the flicker-quick unspooling of information and entertainment online will force a new model on future editions of SNL.
Me, I think "Pop Culture Nation" translates to "biding my time till I build an audience for my movie project".
And then I totally "get it".
You know, the joke.
On the viewers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Milton the Monster, Dept.

the golden compass

Your sobsister has been awaiting this adaptation with what might be called an amalgam of Christmas-morning jitters and pants-soiling fear.

On the one hand, it's got a top-drawer cast and the stills look sumptuous and beautiful.

On the other hand, despite its surface appearance, the original novel, The Golden Compass--and, indeed, all of the His Dark Materials trilogy--is not for children. At least not in the way that the Harry Potter series is. I mean, sure, child protagonist has adventures in a steampunk fantasy world, what's not to kaa-chinnggg for Hollywood? But the original stories are dark and wrenching and philosophically-dense and virulently anti-religion and wonderful for that reason. And unless they've gutted the fuck out of them, not exactly a holiday season sell: "Oh, Mother, do let's go see that wonderful new children's film based on Milton's Paradise Lost that excoriates organized religion with a cat o'nine tails!" My fear is that, gauzed by CGI candy-floss, the author, Philip Pullman's, message and tone will have been lost for fear of alienating the popcorn-snarfin', soda-guzzlin' Xtians here in the Land of the Free and the Home of Cross-Merchandising Synergies.

Frankly, the tagline has me worried. While "The Compass Will Show The Way" is excellent and true to the heart of the first book, "There Are Worlds Beyond Our Own" seems a bit over-determined, no?, given the appearance of an armored polar bear and all. I mean, this isn't March of the Penguins II: Deathstalker!. And while I am hardly a Tinseltown marketing boffin, it seems somehow, I don't know, fucking wrong perhaps? to include a spoiler in the tagline. I mean, 20th Century Fox didn't advertise The Empire Strikes Back with "The Adventure Continues...and Somebody is Somebody Else's Unexpected Father!", did they? So, I'm really reallyreally hoping that the director and screenwriter(s) didn't think, "Hmmm...ambitious work, worrisome message, audience of gormless goobers and gomers...okay, let's use Dumbdown Package No. 5a: Pretty Colors, Twinkly Lights".

I mean, this poster looks wonderful and I'm sure that the CGI and set/costume design will aim to frame and underpin this adaptation as well as they did the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I had the extreme pleasure of seeing a marathon stage adaptation of His Dark Materials at the National Theatre, London. It was as wonderful an evening at theater as I've ever spent. Was there fantastically-imaginative stagecraft employed to make vivid and visible the varying locations and characters of the story? Certainly. But never in a way that even vaguely obscured the fact that there were actors on stage mesmerizing you with a moving, gripping story that lived and breathed and sank its hooks into you for over six hours. Intelligent and sensitive integration of son et lumière, not its substitution for story, characterization, and mood, is what can keep any literary adaptation from becoming a soulless facsimile. That and remaining true to the spirit of the original work without compromise for reasons of marketability or palatability.

If New Line and Chris Weitz can remain true to the story and to the message, they'll have achieved something even more difficult than Peter Jackson's translation of LOTR to the screen.

Because it is ever-so much harder to make your audiences enjoy a vein of vinegar in their sweets than one of honey.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Open The Door For Your Mystery Date...", Dept.

Bush Vetoes Bill Tying Iraq Funds to Exit - New York Times

Who's my widdel bully-boy? Hmm? Who's my widdel-piddel bully-boy? Is it you-ums? Is you my widdel bully-boy?

Yeah, so this gormless cunt has dug in his cowboy heels and said nonononoNO to setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But, hey, what the fuck, y'know? It'll only be a thousand more dead Americans before the utter failure of Das Surge becomes manifestly obvious even to fetuses and pets. Two thousand, at the most.

What I luv is what he had to say in justifying his macho bullshit carefully-considered decision: "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible."

Who can argue with that? I mean, who wants to set a date for failure? Not Georgie-Porge. 'Cause he so obviously has had a standing date with success for quite some time now. Just a matter of synching up their schedules, y'see.

Well, not quite a "standing date with success", more like a blind date with success.

Okay, not really a "blind date with success". More like he met someone with the handle "hotsucksess69" online and they're due to meet in a motel outside Scranton next week for some light bondage and piss-play.

And, really: three thousand.
Three thousand, tops.

mystery date

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Those who cannot remember the past...", Dept.

kidd wake sez

"A near-forgotten man, a printer, Kidd Wake spent five years in Gloucester Penitentiary for the crime of yelling "No George! No War!" at King George III in the fall of 1795. His was not the only voice raised against the Mad King on that day or at that time. His Majesty's Government had commenced a ruinous war with France two years earlier which resulted in the suspension of civil liberties, including Habeas Corpus, as well as in famines and increased taxation. As George III proceeded to open Parliament that October day, he was met by demonstrators demanding Bread and Peace and hurling stones at His Royal Carriage. His Majesty's Government responded by passing the Treasonable Practices Bill (which declared the act of merely speaking or writing against the King or Government to be treason) and the Seditious Meetings Bill (which forbade most political meetings)."

And to quote again from Don Jorge, "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim."
The Death Of A Company Man, Dept.

Jack Valenti - Obituary - New York Times

Jack Valenti was one of those men happiest serving a strong man or a strong organization, who delight in making the entity stronger for their service but who assert their ego even while in the king's or castle's shadow. He is best known for his role as LBJ's adviser and vocal, not to say "adulatory", public supporter (and private, as well: he married a Johnson secretary and named one daughter "Courtenay Lynda" and one son "John Lyndon"), as well as for his thirty-eight-year leadership of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

In this latter role, Valenti was ever on the ramparts but blind to the big picture. He never "got it", "it" being any new vision of art and commerce that served both to the detriment of neither. He was as reactionary a champion as the film industry could ever have wanted; teeth bared at any technological innovation that threatened the studios'--and, by extension, the MPAA's and, by extension, his own--power. He was opposed to fair and reasonable private use of purchased media and content, famously testifying before Congress, "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone." He was, of course, rabidly against P2P filesharing and for Digital Rights Management, advocating the controversial and counterproductive Digital Millenium Copyright Act to combat one and buttress the other.

Even the film ratings system which will likely remain his legacy for years to come is tinged, if not "tainted", with the old-media, old-world, old-boy mindset that Valenti owned and operated. A step forward from the restrictive Hays Office censorship that stifled American filmmaking from the '30s through the '50s but never more than a fluid rationalization system familiar to anyone who has ever tried to argue a mortal sin down to "venial". A sop to satisfy local and federal bluenoses that Decency would be Upheld, a slap at filmmakers who would have to trim skin here, words there, to qualify for a rating that would allow audience access.

Doubtless, many flowery encomia will have been directed at Mr. Valenti by the politicos and studio bosses he alternately courted and bullied. But he was a man with a shopkeeper's mentality who considered each passerby a potential urchin ready to filch an apple from his barrel. And he was a man who saw the problems, not the potential, of new media and new technology. He retired from the MPAA in 2004 but his sun had set long before.