Friday, September 29, 2006

Look Back in Languor

I spent the last few hours writing a lengthy post on the cultural oversaturation of today's "celebrities" -- and how much it pisses me off.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about:

Jessica Simpson -- "The Stepford Babe" I called her (oh, that's a good one) -- isn't just a singer and an actress; she's a restaurateur and a cosmetics designer and a reality TV star.

Lindsay Lohan is given a recording contract and a production deal -- and no doubt a BIG bag of cocaine.

Paris Hilton gets a book deal.

Diddy gets a TV show, a fashion line, a restaurant and hotel chain, a production deal, and an elementary school named after him (wait).

The point was that it's become impossible to ignore these people because they're literally everywhere; the only way to avoid them is to avoid waking up in the morning or leaving your home.

Anyway, it was pretty decent -- and then I somehow lost it while I was trying to publish it.

I could scream and gnash my teeth and curse the heavens, but the truth is I'm too tired right now. I'm going to interpret this minor catastrophe as a sign that I need to take a few days off. Since I started this little experiment of mine, I've become far more prolific than I ever expected to be and I suppose I should be proud of that.

So with that in mind, I'm a ghost until the middle of next week.

At the suggestion of my wife, and because believe it or not there are new readers to this crazy site daily, I'm going to post a few links to some of my favorite stuff from the past four months. Hey, if Cutting Crew could release a greatest hits collection after only two albums, I can do it after only four months.

Either way, this is the material that I've thought to be not half bad.

Enjoy folks.

5/30/06 Hustle & Blow

6/2/06 Anatomically Incorrect

6/28/06 I'm Super, Thanks for Asking!

7/7/06 A Sell-Out Crowd

7/17/06 You're the Dog Now, Man

7/18/06 Welcome to My M. Nightmare

7/31/06 Till Human Voices Wake Us

8/7/06 Kitsch a Falling Star

8/8/06 Gray's Autonomy

8/16/06 Penny Laid

8/25/06 Things to do in Texas When You're Dead

9/11/06 Five Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts (Part I)

9/18/06 Five Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts (Part II)

9/11/06 And Now a Message from Satan

9/20/06 Return of the Attack of the Creeping Surrealism

9/22/06 The Cynicist Manifesto

9/26/06 Tempus Id'jit

Borat in 2008

"If there is one more item of Uzbek propaganda claiming that we do not drink fermented horse urine, give death penalty for baking bagels, or export over 300 tons of human pubis per year, then we will be left with no alternative but to commence bombardment of their cities with our catapults."

I'm not even going to attempt to improve on this comediacally in any way; it would be like challenging Michael Jordan to a pick-up game. Besides -- I'm far too busy laughing my ass off.

God bless Sacha Baron Cohen for creating Borat.

God bless Borat for prompting the government of Kazakhstan to take out a four-page ad in the New York Times in an effort to refute a fucking joke.

God bless our idiot president for providing the ultimate punchline by reportedly planning to debate this "controversy" with Kazakhstan's president during their meeting today.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

There are a lot of words which perfectly describe Radiohead.

Unconventional. Fascinating. Complex. Surprising. Powerful. Bewildering.

But the third single from their 1995 album The Bends may be the only four minutes in the band's career during which can they be described as sincere.

Tonight's pick is one of my all-time favorite songs; it's the near-perfect Fake Plastic Trees.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Best Frakkin' Show on Television

I've spent a good portion of my adulthood attempting to distance myself from my formative sci-fi geek years. It's true that once I discovered the Ramones and the Sex Pistols I put aside my Star Wars action figures and burned my life-size cardboard stand-up of Captain Kirk; I have no choice however but to admit to the fact that I owned these items to begin with.

Since this ceremonial rite of passage from space-obsessed dork to, well, music, alcohol and porn-obsessed dork, I've pretty much abandoned science-fiction television. This wasn't an intentionally calculated act; I simply never came across a show that didn't go the perfunctory route of gearing itself toward the very specific and generally goofy audience of late-teen-to-early-20s, emotionally-stunted man-children, who when they weren't masturbating to vidcaps of Mirina Sirtis's topless scene in Blind Date, were discussing at length how her character would fare were she suddenly called upon to aid Frodo and the Fellowship in returning the One Ring to Mordor.

It took the brilliant Joss Whedon to briefly change my view of latter-day sci-fi television by changing the genre itself -- effectively turning it on its end. My love for and loyalty to his fantastic show Firefly is well documented; for cancelling such a rare combination of excitement, creativity, humor and pathos, I'll hold a grudge against Fox that ten seasons of 24 won't alleviate.

After the demise of Firefly, I went right back to not caring one bit about science-fiction television.

Then in 2003, something truly surprising happened; a show from my childhood -- from the days before I realized that there are some things you simply don't admit to enjoying if you hope to ever get laid -- was resurrected. But here's the thing -- the original version of the show was one of the dumbest hours ever foisted on the TV-viewing masses week after week; the new version however, is flat-out one of the best.

Battlestar Galactica, which will soon begin its third season on the Sci-Fi channel, is quite simply the finest drama on television. It's science-fiction for people who hate science-fiction. It's smart and daring and tense and exciting and beautiful and moving. Lead by the always-excellent Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, the cast of otherwise relative newcomers don't play their characters so much as inhabit them -- a feat that's not only remarkable, but one which consistently draws the audience in and forces it to care about the thrilling and sometimes terrible plot machinations of which these characters are at the mercy.

The premise is essentially the same as the original series: after a devastating attack which killed billions, the last pocket of humanity is on the run -- pursued by a relentless race of killer robots known as the Cylons. But whereas in the original series, this supposedly merciless enemy was composed of slow-moving extras in clunky chrome suits -- making them infinitely less scary than Richard Hatch's haircut or Lorne Greene's overacting -- the flawlessly computer-generated Cylons of the new series are fast, fearsome and gorgeous. The new show also adds a clever twist by introducing a series of Cylons which appears human and is indistinguishable from the crew of the Galactica, piling on an oppressive paranoia to the already dark and claustrophobic atmosphere. This lends the series some of its biggest and best surprises, including a season-one finale that literally made me jump off the couch and stand in the middle of my living room with my mouth hanging open.

In addition to creating multi-layered personalities (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, played by Katee Sackhoff, is easily one of the most complex and troubled characters on television), and ones which have changed drastically and realistically throughout the story-arc, show developer Ronald Moore has also brought a hefty dose of social relevance to the proceedings. The Cylons are man's creation, and consider themselves to be the beatified children of the one true god -- essentially making them religious zealots; they believe mankind to be guilty of apostasy, as it worships a series of supposedly false gods. Some have drawn parallels between the Cylons and al-Qaeda, or America's Evangelical Right; regardless, their elegance and focus stand in stark contrast to the flawed and fallible humanity of their quarry.

What may ultimately set Galactica apart from every other show on television though -- putting aside the astonishing interpersonal relationships and perfectly understated acting -- is its willingness to take chances. During the final moments of last season's finale, the show did something so ballsy and unconventional that it must've had network executives scrambling for bottles of Pepto-Bismol. Very few shows on network or even cable television truly take risks; this one has turned it -- literally -- into an art form.

Can't wait to see what happens next.

The season premiere of Battlestar Galactica airs next Friday, October 6th at 9pm on Sci-Fi.

Incidentally, this is one of the Cylons from the new series (Grace Park as Sharon Valerii). If that's not a reason to watch, I have no idea what the hell is.

Tempus Id'jit

The following is a transcript of the interview between former President George W. Bush and Fox News Reporter Chris Wallace, which took place on September 22nd, 2014. It is the sole property of Fox News Channel, and may not be reproduced in any way without the permission of the News Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Viacom/Universal/Pepsico Inc.

TC: 12:24:36 EDT

CW: A pleasure to see you again Mr. President.

GWB: Well, it's a... It's a pleasure to see you again Greg.

CW: Chris, sir.

GWB: Right, right... Chris.

CW: You've been out of office for six years now...

GWB: Has it been that long? Heh heh.

CW: Yes, sir... six years... and, well... tomorrow marks the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library... certainly something you must be very proud of...

GWB: Yes, yes I am. It's a truly uh... truly.. truly distinguishtable feat to be able to formerly dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library for People Who Don't Read Good. Quite an honor Craig.

CW: Chris, sir.

GWB: Heh heh.

CW: What specifically can visitors expect when they come to Crawford and visit the GWB Center?

GWB: Well, at first I asked that they have a lot of pistachio, because I've always loved that flavor... but then I was told that libraries don't serve ice cream... they... uh, well... they have books there. So I made a couple of specific requests... ya know, things that I figured people would like to see to take them back to the good ole' days of my presidency.

CW: Such as?

GWB: Well, first of all... uh, when folks walk in the first thing they'll see is the remains of the constitution. I just figured that would really hit a perfect note right off the bat... kinda laying out my domestic legacy, ya understand? My library also has a... a very large Biblical section to remind folks how God picked me to lead America through its darkest time... TERRORISTS!

CW: I'm sorry sir? Oh right... no sir, don't worry... there aren't any terrorists around.

GWB: Right Carl, well ya know... August the 24th reminded us all that America has enemies, and they hate freedom... you do see that, don't you?

CW: Yes sir, the attacks of August the 24th were indeed devastating. In what way do you plan to commemorate that horrible day in your library?

GWB: Well, the mayor of New New York has been so kind as to relinqu... relinqa... to give up the spire that used to be on top of the Empire State Building. It'll of course be vacuum-sealed inside a large case to prevent the radiation from gettin' through... but I really think the folks'll enjoy seeing it. We're also gonna have the flag of "Jesusica," which is now kind of a... heh heh, well you might call it a collector's item.

CW: Yes, after the long-fought battle to put the union back together I could see where it would be an interesting piece of national memoribilia.

GWB: You betcha, heh heh.

CW: Are you at all angry that President Clinton turned down the invitation to attend tomorrow's ceremony?

GWB: Naw... Naw I guess not. She's got a lot on her plate right now... what with the New Syriana Islamic Republic summit she has to attend if she wants to get gas back below eight dollars-a-gallon. I really figured those folks over there would love freedom... it was on the march ya know.

CW: I know sir.

GWB: But I still believe that the fight to bring democracy to Iraq and Iran made us all safer.

CW: But sir, how can you say that when this country suffered several horrendous terrorist attacks since -- one nuclear -- and the entire Middle-East is now united under the anti-American flags of Hamas and Hezbollah? Wait, don't answer that.

GWB: Heh heh. August the 24th... did I mention that?

CW: Yes sir you did.

GWB: We had to fight the terrorists there so we wouldn't have to fight 'em here. See what I'm sayin'?

CW: Yes sir, you're right... we never even got a chance to fight them... it was over too quickly.

GWB: Heh heh.

CW: So sir, since I have you here, there are a few questions my readers xeri-commed to me that I feel I have to ask.

GWB: Okay, shoot. Whoa, Dick isn't around is he?

CW: No sir... truly tragic and very mysterious his being thrown down a bottomless chasm by his apprentice. Although not as unexpected as Condoleezza Rice's untimely stomping death at that outdoor concert. Most of us didn't even know she was an Indigo Girls fan.

GWB: Yeah, that one was a little fishy... heh heh, get it... fishy?

CW: Yes sir, I get it... anyway, those questions... are you angry that you didn't capture Osama bin Laden, and that he remained a fugitive until two months after you left office?

GWB: Hey now, wait a minute... I know what you're doin' here... you're doin' a Fox News liberal hit-job on me.

CW: You don't think that's a legitimate question?

GWB: I bet you never asked President Clinton why she didn't do more... I mean, during her first two days in office.

CW: I think you should answer the question sir.

GWB: But I thought this interview was supposed to be all about the George W. Bush Presidential Library for People Who Don't Read Good. Man, I miss the old Fox News.

CW: Well, sir... you of all people should know... free market economy. Rupert Murdoch is a Republican, but he's a businessman first. Once you and your administration destroyed the once-good name of America's conservatives by allowing far-right demagogues to hijack your party and its message, well... a good portion of America happily swung in the opposite direction... after the Christian wars of course.

GWB: Yeah well... I don't need you... I've got still got Karl.

CW: Actually sir, Mr. Rove was killed in a car accident last night... he was apparently performing oral sex on Bob Novak when Mr. Novak crashed his car... ironically right into the lobby of the Watergate Hotel.

GWB: Oh... uh... well...

CW: Yes sir?

GWB: You want some of this pistachio ice cream Ken? Gotta get rid of it somehow.

CW: It's Chr... oh nevermind... hand me a cone.

End of Transcript

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.

Tonight's video is Zero 7's Home.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nothing If Not Consistent

Yesterday I mentioned the findings of the recent National Intelligence Estimate; it stated that the war in Iraq has -- contrary to the talking points of the White House and its apologists -- fueled global Islamic radicalism and made America less safe.

I also assumed that President Bush's reaction to this report would be the usual; he would dismiss it by simply saying that he disagrees with its findings, as if any fact is somehow subject to debate or outright negation at his whim.

His response today when asked about the report?

"I strongly disagree."

I wish I could claim some sort of preternatural prescience when it comes to such matters, but the unfortunate fact is that the actions of a confused and frightened monkey are never that difficult to predict.

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

Darryl Palumbo from Glassjaw, and Dan the Automator from every other musical act on Earth got together a few years ago with the intention of collaborating on a couple of tracks for a Palumbo side project; the end result was arguably the best party album since the dawn of the new millennium.

Head Automatica's Decadence is cool, sexy, funky -- basically an all-out fucking blast of a record.

Tonight's video is the first single from that album -- a song that's catchier than hep-C; it's Beating Heart Baby

Monday, September 25, 2006

Car Bomb

I'll make this quick.

There's a used car dealer in Cincinnati who's incurred the wrath of the local Muslim community -- a debatably ill-advised idea given recent events -- by planning to run an ad campaign based entirely on the theme of "declaring Jihad on high auto prices."

Understand: everything about this is funny.

A used car salesman. Jihad* on high prices. Pissing off Muslims. Hell, even Cincinnati is a poor man's Cleveland when it comes to punchlines.

I've always believed that when you're talking about humor -- lighthearted mockery especially -- nothing is off limits.


The moment you begin allowing a person or group to dictate what's fair game and what isn't, you find yourself having to censor everyone. As a culture, we make fun of that which frightens and oppresses us; it's simply a coping mechanism. I'm pretty sure that I can say without fear of contradiction that nothing frightens or oppresses us like religion. The specter of defying the will of a supreme being is difficult for those who believe in its existence; for the rest of us, it's just a fucking hilariously inviolable target, and one rife with priceless terms and imagery.

The Muslim community is of course howling about the need for its religion to be respected; it's the argument typically made by anyone who feels that his or her faith has been offended. But I'm going to take an unpopular stand here and say that that's horseshit. Demanding that those outside of your funny little cult adhere to the rigid demands placed on those inside it -- namely that its beliefs and rituals be held as sacrosanct -- is fucking absurd, and these days dangerous. Even if you don't believe in a supreme being and fear offending him, all Americans have been taught to fear the supreme being and prophet worshipped in Islam; we've been assured that we'll pay for our apostasy with our lives. Talk about fright and oppression.

I would actually make an alternate and in some ways opposite argument: if a group of people came to you and said that they believed in a spaceship behind a comet, and that they worshipped the entity that controlled it and would die to be taken into its arms, would you respect that belief -- or would you think that it was at least worthy of pity and at most deserving of merciless ridicule? The fact is, you probably already have ridiculed it; it was the Heaven's Gate cult that believed that crap, which is undeniably no more insane than believing in the fantastical contents of the Bible or the Koran.

Just because millions choose to believe a fairy-tale in no way makes that fairy-tale true.

As for the ad campaign, which among other things urged buyers to come in for "Fatwa Fridays:" humor doesn't have to be tasteful to be good, regardless of which worshipper of which sacred cow finds it distasteful.

In the words of a popular 70s t-shirt: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

(*One of the inherently funniest words in any language)

Don't Believe the Truth

If there's one clear statement that can be made about America at the beginning of the 21st century, it's that a good portion of its population has, for the most part, become staggeringly adept at self-deception. Whereas at one time, we understood that there were certain inarguable truths -- facts and actualities which once proven, could not be denied by any sane person who had not gone to great lengths to prove otherwise -- it now seems as if anything is fair game for sacrifice upon the altar of public debate. Making proven reality disappear is as simple as taking an opposing position and finding the loudest bullhorn with which to shout it to the masses.

To some extent, this phenomenon could be a direct result of our culture of choice. We now live in a country and a world where 250 channels of television, 137 choices of breakfast cereal and 740 choices of beer are the norm; it would only make sense that we feel confused, restricted and possibly even infuriated by the idea that there are some things for which only one choice is correct and legitimate. It's understandable that some might fight that kind of constraint tooth and nail.

In a world where just about everything falls into the gray area of relativism, why shouldn't logic and reason do likewise?

If you're a fan of Reason Relativism, you probably believe that America has never seen a better leader than George W. Bush. There hasn't been an American President in the past fifty years who's been more willing to alter, ignore or flat-out deny factual information, if he's found it to be inconvenient or detrimental to the reality which his administration -- in its infinite wisdom -- has decided is legitimate. For the past several years -- on topics ranging from global warming, to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to the insurgency in that country and on -- when it comes to news he doesn't want to hear, our president takes essentially the same tack as a petulant five-year-old: he puts his fingers in his ears and makes noise as loudly as he can. The only difference is that it's at least somewhat expected and acceptable behavior in a five-year-old.

The reaction from those who inhabit the White House's fantasy world is likely to be the same sort as just described in the wake of the most recent National Intelligence Estimate. This study -- the result of cooperation between the nation's combined intelligence agencies -- has reached the kind of conclusion that Bush and his delusional band of cronies would no doubt do anything to make vanish. It presents fact upon fact which contradicts the administration's unsubstantiated bluster about the connection between the war in Iraq and the global threat of terrorism. Put simply, the report states unequivocally that the former is increasing the latter -- that the ongoing war in Iraq has in fact spawned a new and furious generation of Islamic radicals. According to the NIE, not only is terrorism on the rise around the world, but the Bush Administration's folly in the Middle-East has played a more direct role in fueling Islamic extremism than was attributed in recent White House documents. We are now less safe than we were before we invaded Iraq.

The reaction to expect from the White House? The usual of course.

Throughout the past several months and years, as truth upon truth has been proven and made public -- debunking the colossal myth created by this administration and turning the public against it -- our president has typically issued one response when confronted with the facts: "I disagree"; he's stated this at news conference after press meeting after photo-op. When told that reality flies in the face of the alternate universe he and his minions inhabit, his response is: "I disagree."

But some issues aren't up for disagreement or debate.

You can say you disagree that Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that the Earth is round -- it changes absolutely nothing.

A fact is a fact -- and it's time for the White House and those who still support it to realize that.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Cynicist Manifesto

Last night, I decided to clean out some of the excess crap from my BlackBerry.

The idea was basically to reduce the amount of work-related nonsense I have to scroll through when I want to get to, say, the phone number of the pizza place up the street. I'm also at least partially convinced that dumping some of the unnecessary filler (news contacts, shoot schedules, meeting times etc.) will free up some memory space and allow the Brickbreaker game feature to run more smoothly.

It was during this cleaning session that I couldn't help but come across the electronic note pad on which I keep the topic ideas for this little experiment of mine. Sorry to spoil the magic folks, but this stuff doesn't just come to me from out of thin-air whenever I sit down at the computer. Like most writers, I jot down ideas whenever I happen to bump into something that inspires me. I do this because no one should trust the memory of a guy who's fried as many brain-cells as I have -- that includes me.

Anyway, some of what I found on my note pad, I've already transformed into the delicate prose you've borne witness to on this site. But a lot of it was simply one or two lines -- no doubt typed in a hurry -- which made note of something strange, or funny, or infuriating, but which might never merit a lengthy, drawn-out post. As George Carlin would say, these lines were more like "Brain Droppings."

Then I started noticing something: on its own, each note was relatively inconsequential -- but when placed next to another and another and another, the result was a twisted little mosaic that would provide a crystal-clear assessment of who I am and how I think to anyone who might happen to stumble upon it.

So with that, I give you the one-line writing notes in my BlackBerry, and what they mean.*

This is Just a Tribute

I believe that there's little more unintentionally hilarious or deserving of public ridicule than the act of memorializing dead friends or relatives by going down to the mall and having t-shirts made with their high-school pictures emblazoned on the front. Just as funny are rear window decals proclaiming Chuchito 1988-2006, R.I.P. It was stupid when you did it for Tupac, it's just as stupid when you do it for Chuchito.


I believe that A Prairie Home Companion provides a form of entertainment which harkens back to a simpler time in America -- when Tom Joad was forced to sell his family for food and Central Park was known as "Hooverville."

There's a reason this kind of crap went the way of the Edsel -- and it's not just because the sound of Garrison Keillor's voice alone makes me wish I'd been born deaf.

I Fold

I believe that the only thing more mind-numbingly boring than Garrison Keillor is watching people play poker on television; whether they're B-list celebrities or guys who look like Skynyrd's road crew. This fucking fad can't end fast enough.

Where Intelligence Goes to Die

I believe that it's somewhat ironic that the state of Kansas itself manages to disprove both evolution and intelligent design at the same time.

There Can be Only One

I believe that while it's human nature to seek out a group with which to belong, the rarest commodity is always the most precious and should therefore be held in the highest regard. The individual is that rarest of commodities.

You can call yourself a man, a woman, a Catholic, a Jew, an African-American, an Asian, a frat brother, whatever -- just remember that by lumping yourself in with any group and choosing to unquestioningly adhere to its accepted standards, you're tacitly relinquishing your respect for the most invaluable object in the world: you.

Once You Go Black...

I believe that MTV should've kept the promise it made back in the early-80s -- that it would never play Soul or R&B. If it had stuck to this pledge, it would've never made the leap to playing Hip-Hop which would probably mean that right now, millions of kids -- black and white -- across this great land of ours wouldn't be illiterate idiots who refer to their teeth as a "grill" and dream of one day living the American dream: dropping out of school in the 5th-grade and getting a record contract, 83-inch spinning rims and a yacht because they can rhyme two words.

Basically, this would never have happened.

I look at Hip-Hop the way my parents used to look at Rock n' Roll: it peaked early and for the most part hasn't been good since.

By the way, I also believe that if you think I'm a racist because I say any of this -- you're probably an ass.

Dylan McDermott Mulroney

I believe that it's easy to confuse Dylan McDermott with Dermot Mulroney, and that neither should ever be cast in another movie again regardless.

Fuck You Atari

I believe that Magnavox's Odyssey and Odyssey-2 game systems were far superior to the infinitely more popular Atari. My loyalty to the Odyssey without a doubt set the tone for my lifelong tendency to always back the underdog.

Why be Normal?

Because your life is easier. Despite all of my individualistic bluster, it's always in the back of my mind that it would be nice to have been able to turn all this insanity off a long time ago. I believe this wholeheartedly.


I believe that somebody should be shot for making not one, but several sequels to The Crow. Hell, Brandon Lee was, and that's more than likely why such a sad and cynical money-grab was launched in the first place.

In Her Web

I believe that there has never been a more perfect woman than Charlotte A. Cavatica, of the original animated version of Charlotte's Web. She has been and always will be my dream girl.

The Pop Culture Babysitter

I believe that it's asinine to put the blame for school shootings and the breakdown of America's youth on people like Marilyn Manson and Eminem, but it's equally asinine -- and wholly irresponsible -- to think that pop culture's constant onslaught can be stemmed by even the most attentive of parents. Denying the invasive, round-the-clock influence of movies, music, television and advertising on kids makes you nothing short of delusional.

Life Isn't Fair... and Neither is Death

Jeff Buckley dies young. Justin Timberlake does not. I believe there is no justice in the universe.

Live and Let Die

I believe I have a question that I want answered: if Randall Terry, George Bush and his dimwitted brother Jeb, and every other Evangelical Christian believe in a glorious life after death at the card table of the Almighty -- then why the hell would they possibly be so cruel as to want to keep Terri Schiavo's soul locked in the prison of her own broken body? Why fight so hard to save a life that was painfully tragic, when they believe the alternative is so fucking dandy?

Missing Inc.

I believe that there's something disconcerting about Mark Klaas and John Walsh turning up all over television news shows everytime a child goes missing in this country. I realize they can speak from experience, but something about it seems and has always seemed nothing less than exploitative.

Liberty Mutual Masturbation

I believe that the scariest and most disturbing movie ever made is The Firm, simply because it features Wilford Brimley talking about sex -- in particular delivering the line, "intimate acts -- oral and such."


I believe that Carlos Mencia should be the most popular morning DJ in El Paso, Texas -- and nothing more.

War is Hell

I believe that the term "War on Terror" alone ensures that we don't stand a fucking chance of winning -- because it proves that those fighting it haven't got a clue what kind of enemy they're up against. Terrorism doesn't have an army, it's simply a methodology -- and what's more, it works; just ask former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who was run out of office for supporting the war in Iraq not long after a series of devastating train bombings in Madrid.

Saying you're fighting a "War on Terror" speaks volumes about the futility of such an endeavour; it's like saying you're fighting a "War on Tragedy," or a "War on Chagrin."

Duck and Cover

I believe that I'll eat foie gras whenever I damn well please, regardless of what the nut-balls at PETA or the City of Chicago has to say about it.

Rx are for Kids?

I believe that America is overmedicated and that all you have to do is turn on the TV to grasp this. Pharmaceutical companies create phony diseases for which they then offer unnecessary cures.

F.S.A.D. (Female Sexual Arousal Disorder) is not a disease, nor does it become one just because you've slapped the word "disorder" in its name. If you suffer from this, you don't deserve to be given the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act or be mentioned in the same breath with real diseases -- you should be called what you have been since the dawn of time: frigid.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Stomach-ache.

Acid Reflux Disease? Heartburn.

Restless Legs Syndrome? Oh fucking come on.

I also believe that American pharmaceutical companies delight in drugging the hell out of kids, which is ironic because I firmly believe that kids shouldn't take drugs because they haven't earned them.

Get a mortgage, a job you can't stand and an ex-wife who hates you; then you can do drugs.

Jesus Saves (Just Not Your Career)

I believe that no interviewer should ever ask Stephen Baldwin the laughable question, "Aren't you afraid that your Christian beliefs will get you ostracized from Hollywood?"

No you fuckwit -- Biodome got him ostracized from Hollywood. If he wasn't spouting off about Christ, there isn't a chance in hell you'd be talking to him on the Today show -- unless he accidentally got blown up in a suicide bombing at the Jack in the Box where he happened to work.

Fuck Pandas

I believe that says it all.

Word Play

I believe that the funniest two-word phrase in the English language is "Assless Chaps." I challenge you to even think it without laughing.

And with that, I believe that I'm done.

(*The management reserves the right to revisit any of these topics in detail at a later date.)

Son of the Return of the Attack of the Creeping Surrealism

Alright, I promise that this is the last time I'll mention the whole Creeping Surrealism thing for awhile.

In the October issue of Rolling Stone, the new My Chemical Romance single, Welcome to the Black Parade, is given a very favorable review.

I have no problem with this as I actually like My Chem quite a bit, but what's funny is that the review claims that Gerard Way now sounds a lot like Billy Corgan, which isn't the least bit true.

He does however look a lot like Billy Corgan these days, which is obviously enough to convince the idiots at Rolling Stone -- who lost all credibility years ago -- that they're hearing things.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

When music videos were first introduced, they were little more than promotional tools for artists and their albums. Over the years though, few would deny that they've become an art form all their own.

Despite the stranglehold that idiotic Dave Meyers/Hip-Hop-meets-Anime/Ghetto Fabulous videos have had on MTV over the past several years, there have still been directors keeping that art form alive by doing incredible things with the medium.

Chris Cunningham is one of them.

Clear the next few minutes of your schedule and see for yourself; tonight's video is one of a select group which can truly be called a masterpiece. From Bjork's 1997 album Homogenic, it's the astonishing video for All is Full of Love.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Return of the Attack of the Creeping Surrealism

Last week I brought up a phenomenon which just about everyone has become aware of at one point or another, and which Washington Post columnist Joel Achenbach termed "Creeping Surrealism." It's the strange and overwhelming feeling that nothing is real anymore -- that information manipulation has become so virtuoso as to render the artificial completely indistinguishable from the genuine.

An inevitable by-product of this is that even if Americans can tell the real from the fake, they no longer think the distinction matters and therefore don't even bother to try to anymore.

One of my favorite examples he cites is the curious case of Pepperidge Farms "Homestyle" Cookies, which are literally designed to look as if they've been lovingly spooned onto a cookie sheet one by one, no doubt by Grandma's frail, caring hand; the engineered imprefections doubtless proof of this fact. Achenbach posits that we all fully understand the reality -- that the Pepperidge Farms company has created a mold which cranks out cookies meant to look as if they weren't created by a mold -- but choose to ignore it.

We just accept the fact that we're being royally bullshitted.

A second example he offers is the odd and somewhat unnerving predeliction many in this country have toward trusting the people on television, simply because they're on television. Achenbach reminds us that long before reality TV created a vast expanse of gray area between honesty and nonsense, a significant portion of the American population saw nothing unusual in writing letters to Robert Young -- TV's Marcus Welby M.D. -- requesting medical advice. Only the most delusional among them actually believed that Young was, in fact, the wise and kindly doctor he portrayed on TV; the rest simply assumed that anyone who played the part so well had to be familiar with the subject -- which is frightening in and of itself, particularly when that subject is medicine.

I've seen dozens of examples of this phenomenon throughout my career: For every one television news anchor who truly understood the material that was going into his or her head and subsequently coming out of his or her mouth -- or took part in the assembly of that material, for that matter -- there were five who didn't have a goddamned clue what was going on in the world, or in their own newsroom, that wasn't placed in their teleprompter by a 22-year-old, six-dollar-an-hour writer. Yet, when the queries and suggestions from the audience came, they came addressed to the face on the screen rather than the people who were actually responsible for the gathering and dissemination of the information in question.

No matter how cynical we believe we've become throughout the years, to this day millions of us still trust the talking head on the mysterious glowing box in the living room.

The difference these days however, is that the recipients of all of that misplaced trust have finally learned to fully exploit and capitalize on the public's lack of discrimination when it comes to on-screen persona versus off-screen reality -- and they're now doing it in profoundly inventive ways. To put it another way, they're taking the advice that Guns N' Roses offered fifteen years ago: Use Your Illusion.

Enter Greg Behrendt.

For much of the early 90s, Behrendt made the rounds as a somewhat substandard comic, basing a good portion of his stand-up material on the supposed inherent irony in being a "Rock n' Roll Guy" (spiked hair, earrings, tattoos, affinity for wallet-chains with low-slung jeans), while at the same time being a "Metrosexual-type Guy" (hair wax, sterling silver earrings, skin cleanser, affinity for wallet-chains with low-slung Diesel jeans). Despite the fact that in reality these two extremes are nothing more than opposite ends of the same spectrum of vacuity, Behrendt's routine eventually caught the eye of HBO, which put him on televison -- and that's where things really took off. He landed a somewhat surprising new gig, which simultaneously made him the poster-child for Creeping Surrealism.

Behrendt was hired as a "consultant" on Sex & The City. He was brought on board to correct the writing staff of women and gay men whenever they were about to make one of the show's straight male characters do something that a real straight man would never do -- such as get anywhere near a woman who essentially looks like the four-legged half of a Tijuana donkey show, one would imagine. The only real requirements in the job description were that Behrendt be heterosexual and be at least as funny as the writers themselves, which judging by their output was about as funny as prison rape.

But here's the thing: Behrendt's stint on Sex & The City was by no means the end of his career -- far from it in fact. What he did next was parlay the "experience" he gained on the show into a best-selling book on -- in Creepingly Surreal fashion -- relationships.

Perhaps you've heard of it; it was called He's Just Not That Into You.

To recap: A relatively unfunny stand-up comedian took a gig on a show about women who sleep with the Manhattan phone book but can't make any of their relationships work, and used it to write a self-help book for the kind of vapid women who watch the show regularly and can't make any of their relationships work.

Now comes the latest twist: Behrendt has used the success of that book and his follow-up, the Oprah-ready monikered It's Called a Break-Up Because it's Broken, to land himself his own talk show, which debuts this week. What does the show focus on? If you guessed relationships, you win yourself some hair wax. In the commercial for the syndicated show, which debuts this week on various channels around the country, Behrendt walks purposefully while saying -- without so much as a hint of a knowing smile or a tip of the hat to irony -- that he's going to help people get more out of their "relationships, all kinds of relationships."

And needless to say, no one is more qualified to take on this seemingly gargantuan task than a guy who consulted for a show about casual sex and who once briefly dated Janeane Garofalo before she had her sense of humor surgically removed and began a new career as a pissed-off quasi-lesbian.

The Behrendt Love Gravy Train isn't the only one to have departed from the Sex & The City station. Awhile back, Kim Cattrall either became the toast of the method-acting community by forgetting completely where her character ended and where she began, or simply hoped to exploit the public's alleged fascination with her on-screen reputation by writing two books on -- can you see it coming? (pun completely intended) -- female sexuality. Her advertising campaign may as well have been a new twist on a well-known catchphrase: "I'm not a whore, but I play one on TV." Once again the idea seemed to be that no one is in a better position to lecture the American public on a given subject than someone who's portrayed an expert on that subject on television.

There's a part of me that would love to chalk all of this narcissistic presumptuousness up to Hollywood in general and its well-worn cadre of yes-men; it's probably the only place in the world where a rambling, coke-fueled idea tossed out at four in the morning is met not with a healthy level of friendly skepticism, but rather with a chorus of giddy approval and six business cards.

Regardless of who's behind the selling of this crap though, one thing is for certain -- we're still happily buying it.

And that's as Creepily Surreal as it gets.

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

I meant to put this up last night as the pefect complement to the Message from Satan, but as it turned out, I had a thing.

The first single from A Perfect Circle's debut album, Mer de Noms, could very well be the most sacreligious four minutes ever unleashed on the music-buying public.

Ferocious and uncompromising in both its execution and its message, Judith is pure, vicious fury.

The video is as dark as the song's lyrical subject matter -- with David Fincher taking a break from directing films like Se7en and Panic Room to return to his musical roots. He brings the same kind of distorted but seductive decay to the video that he brings to so many of his big-screen projects.

Tonight's pick is A Perfect Circle's Judith.

By the way, in case you don't believe me about the sacrilege thing, the lyrics are here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And Now, a Message from Satan

What up dog? Beelzezzle in the hezzay.

That one always cracks me up; learned it from the guy who wipes my ass every morning, Biggie. Oh come on -- you didn't think that fat fuck was going upstairs did you? He deserved to be damned for no other reason than inspiring Puff Daddy to record that shitty song with Sting. Hey, I'm all about torture, but even I draw the line someplace.

But listen kids, I didn't come here to talk to you about music -- although I do want to make it clear that I had nothing to do with Reggaeton; you fuckers made that mess all on your own.

No, I want to talk to you about God.

Yeah, you see -- I kinda have a confession to make.

He doesn't exist.

Look, I know you're gonna think that I'm fucking with you -- the "religious" folk are gonna start up with that whole Prince-of-Lies-get-thee-behind-me crap. But I swear -- I'm not bullshitting you.

There just is no god.

The truth is that about twelve-thousand years or so ago, you guys were all living in relative peace. I mean, yeah, you'd beat each other over the heads with clubs for food or land or maybe because you didn't have anything better to do on a Saturday night and TV hadn't been invented yet to keep you docile and complacent -- but as for major conflicts, not only did you not have much in the way of organizational skills -- you didn't have much worth fighting and dying over either.

Then me and a couple of the frat brothers decided to go out drinking, and -- well -- things got kinda out of hand.

One of my bros -- we call him Skeeter -- bet me that I couldn't come up with a way to fuck up the Earth for the remainder of its existence. I mean, you guys were looking like you might soon start coming into your own, and maybe the fellas thought that you might start getting a little too high and mighty and that it could be dangerous for guys like us; you might screw up the great cosmic deal we've had since before time was time.

I was pretty drunk, and I figured, what the hell -- no pun intended.

So I came up with this idea that I had to admit was pretty clever: create an ultimate being that all of you would be willing to worship, but none of you could actually prove exists. I wanted something you'd abandon all reason in the name of -- no matter how reasonable you might be in regard to every other part of your lives. I wanted you to act like complete batshit lunatics who'd actually be willing to piss away all the wonder and beauty and variety of life -- the here and now -- in favor of some supposedly great reward after you die; and even better, I knew that you'd become haughty little shits about it -- berating those who you didn't feel were lucky enough to have bought into the great kingdom in the sky. I knew you'd arrogantly try to make everyone into carbon copies of you. I knew you'd try and make everyone into believers.

But here's the best part -- and oh, this one was just fucking genius; man, when I said this, Skeeter practically fell off his barstool.

Not all of you would worship the same god; I'd give you more than one.

So before the night was out, we came up with a couple of silly stories about black rocks and winged horses and burning bushes and assorted bullshit like that, and we started planting the seeds that would inspire your holy books. To be honest, a couple of those seeds went off in the wrong direction and turned into stories about Santa Claus, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Easter Bunny and so on. I really thought at some point you guys would catch on that basically your fairy tales and your gospels were the same fucking things -- but hey, I also figured Hee-Haw wouldn't last a full season, so I guess there's no accounting for taste or intelligence when it comes to you monkeys.

Well, now that I'm showing my hand -- I guess I should explain why I'm doing it.

As Hal Holbrook said in every thriller he's ever been in, It's gotten out of control. It's too big.

This week was just the last straw.

Look, I have no problem with those of you who've fallen for my little practical joke fighting it out with those of you smart enough to not have; that was kind of the idea. But when the two most powerful groups of people who've set aside all logic and reason in the name of "God" begin arguing over whose superstitous nonsense can beat up whose -- and one side tries to furiously defend itself against accusations that it's violent by threatening to kill people -- well, that's when I know that the party's gotten a little out of hand.

I know what you're thinking: "Hey, these two sides have fought in hand-to-hand combat before -- why are you stepping in now?"

The answer is simple dingbats:

That was centuries ago. That was before the Age of Enlightenment -- remember that shit? That really stuck huh?

Jesus Made-up Christ, are you people fucking idiots? You have science and medicine and technology, and if you yearn for something to give your lives more meaning, you have love. I know that sounds insane coming from me, but for fuck's sake -- you're willing to accept that a ridiculous old man in a funny hat and Liberace's cape knows the path to a glorious afterlife; I think it's safe to say you'll believe just about anything.

One more time for the cheap seats; consider it doing you a favor:

Islam is violent and fucking batshit crazy -- and it's completely made-up nonsense.

Catholicism is dangerous and arrogant and stupid -- and it's also completely made-up nonsense.

Biggie isn't really here with me; he isn't anywhere but in the ground.

If you want to save the fragile rock you're all forced to live on from ultimate destruction, you might want to start living like this is the only life you all have.

Because it is.

I've gotta run now; that new Studio 60 show is about to come on. I love all that TV-behind-the-scenes stuff. My kinda people.

Satan, out.

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

It's a well-known fact in the world of popular music that Placebo's Brian Molko is a raging -- and flaming -- little prick.

High effeminate dickhead quotient aside however, the band continues cranking out interesting, powerful and wholly original music.

Their 2003 release Sleeping With Ghosts -- in addition to having one of the most strikingly beautiful album covers of the last decade -- perfectly demonstrated the band's talent for bringing an oddly gorgeous ambience to what is otherwise a full-frontal sonic assault.

Tonight's video was the second single from that album: The Bitter End.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Five Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts

Part II: The Revelation will be Televised

At 8:46:40am, 87 people are killed instantly.

They are the passengers and crew of American Airlines Flight 11, which departed out of Boston's Logan International Airport a little more than an hour ago -- at 7:59am to be exact -- only to be hijacked and turned into a flying bomb.

An unknown number of people in the North Tower of the World Trade Center likely die as well, at that same moment -- 8:46:40 -- as they would be unlucky enough to find themselves at the point of impact of this flying bomb.

At 8:46:40am, almost no one outside of the affected area has any idea that the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history has just come to fruition in New York City, and that it's only the beginning.

At that same moment, in a small two-bedroom condo fifteen-hundred miles away, I'm sitting up in bed, thinking about -- well, nothing really.

I stare quietly at the TV set in the corner of my parents' guest bedroom -- maybe not at it so much as through it -- while the Today show drones on and on. This is in no way an endorsement of that program, as anything on the television would provide the same focal-point of worthless distraction, and in fact has for most of the early morning and previous night. MTV2 has supplied me with enough colors and sounds to hold my attention and replace the sleep I've desperately desired, but which has refused to come.

I watched videos throughout the night, while taking in none of them. I listened to the occasional passing car or two outside my window slowly multiply until becoming the steady din of morning traffic. I saw the curtain over that same tiny window begin to glow as the sun came up.

I did anything but sleep.

Heroin addicts fresh out of rehab don't sleep; they can't sleep.

Where I am at 8:46:40am on the morning of September 11th, 2001, is the culmination of a ten-month-long spiral into oblivion. It began in Los Angeles, where I lived with my wife in an impressive two-story apartment on the edge of Beverly Hills. I worked as a television executive. I made six figures. I drove a fast car. I had a life few could complain about -- which made it all the more sadly ironic that in truth, I was frightened, insecure and more than likely clinically depressed. At some point, I began to feel my wife pulling away from me. I began to feel my life ripping apart, even though no one could see the straining in the fabric or the tearing at the seams.

I felt like I was being abanoned by her -- like I was being left behind. I felt completely alone.

So I found something to help me feel warm, comfortable and safe from harm.

What began as an occasional means of self-medication quickly turned into a constant hallucinatory nightmare of homemade pipes, scorched tin-foil, lies, cover-ups, broken promises and the terrified realization that I couldn't wake up, no matter how hard I tried. It drained me of every penny I had. It crushed my already tenuous relationship with my wife. It ate my soul alive.

Finally, at the beginning of August, 2001 -- realizing that I had almost nowhere left to turn, and no one left to turn to -- I asked my wife to drive me to the airport, allowed one last painful kiss between us, and got on a plane and came home to Miami. When I arrived, my heartbroken parents picked up their damaged and dying son and drove him to a public rehab facility.

I spent four days in gut-wrenching detox, having my insides liquify and try to escape my body through any and every possible route -- like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

I spent the next month trying to recover from what I'd spent the past nine months doing to my body, mind and soul.

During that time, my wife moved out of our apartment -- leaving me without so much as a glance over her shoulder. During that time I gave up my job -- accepting a small buy-out if I'd agree to let them fill my position.

The day after I left rehab, my father and I flew back to a haunted Los Angeles. We packed up what little was left of my life, put it into storage and drove my car back to Miami -- back to my parents' small two-bedroom condo.

We arrived five days ago.

I haven't moved since.

Five days ago marked the first day of the rest of my life -- the rest of my life doing absolutely nothing.

I don't eat. I don't sleep. I don't speak. I exist only within the tiny confines of this guest bedroom. I watch TV. I walk a few steps to the bathroom. I don't even think about what to do next. I don't even know where to begin. It's as if I'm nothing but empty space.

I'm not even aware of what Matt Lauer is talking about at 8:46:40am, because I'm not paying the least bit of attention. It's four minutes later though, at 8:50am, that something breaks my reverie. I blink -- my brain finally seeming to activate as if cued by some outside force. Lauer says something about a very big story; he says something about an accident at the World Trade Center. The Today show goes to commercial. In a daze I pick up the remote and switch over one channel to ABC. That's when I see for the first time what happened at 8:46:40am, fifteen-hundred miles away.

I slowly get out of bed and stand -- my jaw going slack. I'm moving before I know it -- throwing open the bedroom door and storming out into the living room. There my mother is staring at the TV; her face is a mask of awe and horror. We begin talking about what's happened; my voice is dry and scratchy from not having been used in days. There's confusion and fascination -- a sense of amazement at what's surely a tragic accident. This thought is still firmly entrenched in my brain when a jet -- United Flight 175 out of Boston -- screams into the live picture for only the briefest moment before disappearing into the second tower. For a split-second there's nothing -- then a massive fireball erupts which splits the building in half in a blossom of orange and black, and a shower of debris.

My brain can't process the image fast enough, and my first thought is, "How could that kind of mistake happen twice?"

After only one more breath -- one more second to allow it all to sink in -- do I realize what's happened.

The next few hours are spent as one with millions across the nation and around the world. I watch in absolute horror as my country is attacked, as people are killed, and as indescribable chaos reigns. I pace maniacally back and forth in front of the TV. I feel like a caged animal. I want to do something. I feel utterly helpless and I want to do something. I want to work. I want to help. I want to get the hell out of here. I want to live. People are dying, and I'm wasting away here. I want to live. I want to make a difference somehow. My life isn't over.

And that's when it hits me.

I have no job. I have no wife. I have nothing.

I have nothing holding me back.

If I stay here, I'll be worse than dead. I'll watch the world fall apart on television. I'll watch the destruction and the sadness -- the heroism and heartbreak -- and I'll feel sorry for myself for my pathetic little losses while so many others try and fight their way back from losses greater than I can ever imagine. I'll sit quietly and helplessly by while an entire country mourns.

It's at that moment that I walk to the phone and place one call -- to a friend of mine who's now an executive producer for NBC in New York. I let him know that I'm going to be in New York and that I'll be available to work if he needs extra help, which I'm almost certain he will. Then I run back to the guest room and begin packing a suitcase.

I'll work if they'll let me. I'll hand out water and food if not. I'll do something. I have no idea where I'm going to stay or how I'll pay for anything, but I have to go. I have to see this for myself.

The next morning I leave before dawn, driving across the new America -- a land eerily quiet, where the shock of what's happened seems to show on the face of each person I meet. I drive through sun and rain, into the night -- occasionally scanning the empty skies with the realization that at no point in my life have I lived in a country where all public air travel was prohibited.

Years ago, I read a book from Clive Barker called The Great and Secret Show. In it, the forces of good and evil battle for supremacy as they always seem to do in fantasy novels -- however one moment in the story now comes back to me and seems to have an astonishing relevance. When the character of Jaffe finally masters the ability to control time and space -- what Barker calls "The Art" -- he grabs reality and literally tears a hole in it. At the moment this happens, Barker explains that all around the world people stop; they get out of their cars or they wake up or they generally freeze in their tracks. They do this because, no matter where they are, they know that something has changed. They know that something is wrong, even if they can't explain what it is.

This is what it feels like in the days following September 11th, 2001: Something is wrong. Everything is wrong.

A hole has been torn in the fabric of reality.

That hole -- the largest of three anyway -- is in New York City.

At some point, as I speed up the highway to this destination, my cell phone rings. I answer it and am told by the woman on the other end of the line that she's from NBC, and that my friend needs me to report to work as quickly as possible.

She explains where I need to go. She sets me up with a hotel room. She wishes me luck and says goodbye.

I pull over and close my eyes -- taking deep breaths.

I made a leap of faith, and found a place to land.

There isn't a writer or a poet alive who could properly describe or explain the next few months. I lived out of a hotel. I worked inhuman hours at the center of the most agonizing single event in American history. I held a woman in my arms as she realized her husband was dead -- and I cried with her because although my own marriage was over and I missed my wife terribly, I couldn't even begin to imagine her suffering -- and through that I was helped to heal. I was reborn as a person I didn't even recognize -- a stranger in a strange land, in a larger world which seemed alien to everyone. I shook my head at the utterly surreal and tragic series of events that led me to be at the one place I never expected or intended to be -- but through unbelievable circumstances became the one place I was supposed to be. I found strength in those who were stronger than I could ever have hoped to be. In the shadow of death, I learned to live again.

And in time I fell in love again -- with a girl named Jayne.

I met her through a friend of mine; he was supposed to be working at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th, but called in sick at the last minute.

But that's his story.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Definition

Despicable (deh-SPIK-uh-buhl)

1) deserving to be despised; contemptible

2) a vile, unscrupulous bitch who finally crossed the line from laughable self-parody to dangerously out-of-control sociopath by berating the mother of a missing child during an interview to the point of causing her to commit suicide

3) a gruesome black mark on CNN's otherwise outstanding reputation

syn: Nancy Grace (see picture)

ant: anyone other than Nancy Grace

Sunday Sacrilege

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Message from Blogger


It has come to our attention that the person hosting this site is not in fact who he claims to be. An investigation by our internal auditors has determined that the personal profile of "Chez" is in fact false, and his entire online identity is nothing more than an elaborate hoax.

For four months, "Chez" claimed to be a New York resident employed as a television news producer. He also purported to be married to a woman named Jayne, and often asserted his intention of becoming a writer -- expounding at length about a supposed sordid past which included drug use, several failed relationships and the recent removal of a brain tumor.

In reality none of this is true.

In truth, "Chez" is a post-op transexual who writes and directs independent films under the name "Craig Baldwin." He is responsible for the 1992 film Tribulation 99, which purported to expose the truth behind dozens of popular conspiracy theories. The film was a mixture of fact and fiction, though due to the rapid-fire editing and bizarre narration, it was almost impossible to tell which was which.

Before his operation, our investigators say he was a single, 38-year-old woman who enjoyed cosmopolitans and worked for a short time at the E! television network.

Supposedly "Chez" chose his false online persona after reading Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park, a novel whose main character is named "Bret Easton Ellis" -- a writer haunted by his past indiscretions who is married to a beautiful woman named Jayne.

Blogger regrets this deception, and suggests that rather than patronize this particular site -- you instead visit one of our other fine Blogger sites, such as this one.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

True Lies


September 13th, 2006
From: Associated Press

On the heels of Creative Artist Agency's admission that the internet phenomenon known as "lonelygirl15" was nothing more than an elaborate hoax, we at the Associated Press regret to announce that in truth, the entire "lonelygirl15" scandal was itself nothing more than an elaborate hoax.

As you know, we are the leading source of information not only for the public at large, but for the hundreds of news organizations which inform the public, putting us in a unique -- and in this case unfortunate -- position to perpetrate a fraud of this magnitude.

This afternoon, thousands of media outlets -- newspaper, television, internet and radio -- reported that an internet "vlogger" known as "lonelygirl15," was in fact a nineteen-year-old actress named Jessica Lee Rose. The report claimed that the character Rose was playing had become an internet sensation, posting several videos on the popular "YouTube" website which detailed her day to day life. The reports also said that recently, viewers of the videos had begun to doubt the authenticity of them -- some setting out to uncover the truth about "lonelygirl15." The final twist supposedly came yesterday, with the reports claiming that the scam had been exposed as being the brainchild of three Hollywood screenwriters working with the powerful Creative Artists Agency.

In reality, the entire story about the hoax was the brainchild of a disgruntled Associated Press Editor, who enlisted the help of some college buddies to portray the screenwriters for television interviews. Far more importantly however, the editor -- who shall remain nameless -- paid several computer hackers to immediately flood the internet with sufficient past "lonelygirl15" videos and backstories (on sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia) so that anyone looking for information would find supposed facts dating back several months. Even the purported fans and skeptics were nothing more than hired actors.

In truth, no real people had ever heard of "lonelygirl15" until they heard the report on the news about her not being a real person.

Associated Press Vice-President Harry Lime has issued the follwing comment in the wake of the fake scandal scandal:

"This is easily the most intricate scam perpetrated on the world since the unfulfilled promise of Buckaroo Banzai vs. the World Crime League. We're terribly embarrassed, and we can't apologize enough to those who were duped... uh, twice."

Because no laws have technically been broken, the Associated Press plans to deal with this issue internally. No official punishment has been decided on -- although Senior Managers are contemplating forcing the editor to keep his job.

KILL DATE: September 15th, 2006

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

I have no issue with Coldplay -- despite the fact that XYZ was a bitter disappointment in the wake of A Rush of Blood to the Head.

That said, there are a hell of a lot of British bands that critics have tried to slap the "Next Coldplay" monicker upon.

Doves are one of them.

Unfortuantely, it's not very fitting, as Doves are much better.

Tonight's video is Snowden.

Please Plea

Give me one more day on part II of the 9/11 post; this one might take a little time.

Hey -- I have a job.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

All Apologies

I had planned to post the second part of last night's 9/11 entry; as it turns out though, I'm feeling like hell tonight so I'm going to have to put it off by one day (hopefully).

Consider this the first time that I've played the "recovering from brain surgery" card.

Feel free to scroll down though; I managed to crank out a good amount of crap eariler in the day when I wasn't feeling quite so awful.

My Nightly Middle Finger to the White House

I'm forgoing the music video tonight to put up something far more significant.

If you haven't seen this already, clear the next nine minutes of your schedule and watch and listen in awe to Keith Olbermann's scathing commentary regarding yesterday's 9/11 anniversary.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then maybe the humble willingness to admit that someone is far beyond your skills of pretense can work as an even more consummate endorsement.

I hope it can.

Wearing Thin

Awhile back I mentioned the idea that life may now be satire-proof -- that things have become so ridiculously silly that they've rendered the need to make fun of them thoroughly unnecessary.

Case in point: Fashion Week.

True, Zoolander gently poked the fashion industry with a stick, and Sasha Baron Cohen's "Bruno" character regularly slices its sycophants with a scalpel. But in the end, no amount of mockery or mimicry can even begin to come close to the sheer absurdity of the fashion industry itself.

With that in mind -- and I'll make this quick -- I bring you three simple statements regarding this bi-annual affliction on the New York City area, which is upon us once again.

#1) I look at fashion the same way I look at steak, I have no problem partaking in the end result, but I have no fucking desire to see how it's made -- and don't you dare ask me to meet the loathsome, soulless creatures who are responsible for bringing it to me.

#2) The cast of Project Runway and Carson Kressley do not constitute true celebrity and therefore don't deserve to have a camera pointed in their direction for even a second -- no matter what crappy programming NBC is trying to push. A side note: although I don't doubt that he's a nice guy, Carson's flawless embodiment and perpetuation of the "mincing little queen" stereotype should earn him a beating over the head with one of Ted Allen's rolling pins -- or maybe Tom Felicia's stylish leather ottomans.

#3) The new cologne from P. Diddy's Sean John line is called "Unforgivable." Now tell me I need to bother to make fun of that.

Sign O' the Times

When I was around 17, I read a newspaper article that changed the way I looked at the world. Maybe that's overstating things; in actuality, it merely put into words a strange and sinister undercurrent in American life which I had noticed -- but for which I hadn't found a proper name.

The article was from Joel Achenbach, a talented columnist for the Washington Post, who at that time worked for the Miami Herald. The inexplicable feeling he described, he termed "Creeping Surrealism."

His assertion was that the technology of information manipulation had become so virtuoso in this country, that not only could people no longer distinguish fact from fiction -- they no longer cared to try.

Creeping Surrealism was the suspicion that nothing was real anymore -- that everything had become carefully-crafted bullshit.

I bring this up, simply because it is the only explanation I can come up with for the reviews of Justin Timberlake's new CD -- the egotastically (not a typo) titled FutureSex/LoveSounds.

I have no issue with the consistent chorus of accolades being thrown Justin's way; I'm sure the album is fine. What confuses me to the point of a near-stroke, is the implication in no uncertain terms that FutureSex/LoveSounds -- possibly by virtue of its suggestive title alone -- heralds the arrival of "the new Prince."

I realize that as Creeping Surrealism clearly dictates, the line between the genuine and the fraudulent is irredeemably blurred; but even in a world where television audiences happily gorge themselves on images of girls in bikinis gorging themselves on cockroaches while our government -- lead by a man who kept a straight face as he donned a flight suit and played fighter pilot, despite conveniently dodging any meaningful military service -- censors the broadcast of the coffins of fallen soldiers, supposedly to avoid offending and disturbing the masses -- anyone can see that Prince is an artistic genius and Justin Timberlake is, well, the guy who did Britney before her congenital disposition to become overweight white trash finally kicked in.

Prince writes his own material. He produces his own material. He plays almost all of the instruments on his material. He does all of this without the help of the Neptunes or Snoop Dogg. Add to that the fact that he has a legitimate sex appeal -- while Justin Timberlake has all the sensuality of a teenage makeout session in mom's borrowed minivan.

The remarkable thing is that, as dictated by Creeping Surrealism, Justin is thriving under the auspices of being talented, sexy and even slightly dangerous -- when in fact he is absolutely none of these things. We've simply come to accept this deception because it's been, and continues to be, foisted upon us from every direction and from those whose opinions we've somehow bestowed a disproportionate amount of credibility upon.

USA Today can call Justin Timberlake the new Prince.

New York Magazine can call Justin Timberlake the new Prince.

None of it will ever actually make Justin Timberlake the new Prince -- no matter how much bullshit we've become accustomed to swallowing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts

Part I: The Best of Times. The Worst of Times.

I miss the days and months immediately following September 11th, 2001.

Although it may seem incomprehensible to make such a statement, it's a fact that I have no choice but to own up to. In spite of my belief in man's unparalleled ability to consistently make bad situations worse, I honestly never thought that I'd look back on the initial aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in history and quietly pine for that time. Five years later however -- as we mark the anniversary of 9/11 -- I realize with more certainty than ever before that the violence which claimed so many lives on that day, unwittingly and for a short time created a city, country and world of which I could say that I was proud to be a part.

I admit that I had an often overwhelming front-row seat for the constant display of pain and preseverance by being in New York City following the attack. Covering the story from the area which would in short order become universally known as Ground Zero, and from the Armory at 25th and Lexington -- the area where families of the victims were sent in an often futile and heartbreaking search for answers about their lost loved ones -- gave me a perspective not everyone else may have had. Still, I'm certain that you didn't need to wade knee-deep in the indescribable human suffering to see that an equally indescribable human spirit was also asserting itself -- and proving to be far more powerful than many believed possible.

In those first months after the attack -- a wounded America found its heart and its soul.

We put aside the trivial concerns that divided us; the inane distractions that casually connected us. We were shown in an excruciating way the true meaning and value of words which up until that point had only been used as disposable ad-campaign hyperbole: heroism, compassion, sacrifice, family, strength, unity -- even love. We saw constant displays of these because after all that we witnessed on that day -- after the hideous destruction caused by a few, and the selfless response of so many -- after the bar for human emotion was raised so high, it was almost as if it was our responsibilty to act in kind -- to follow the example set by those who were no longer with us.

We were stripped down to our raw nerve, and in spite of the chaos and terror that caused it, what we found there was beautiful.

The world seemed to follow suit. On September 12th, 2001 -- the morning after the attack -- the headline of France's Le Monde newspaper read "We Are All Americans Now." The crew of a German ship manned the rails when it came alongside an American destroyer -- a show of respect and solidarity. Billions across the planet felt our anguish, believed in the dream that was America, and stood with us.

When we struck back with a mighty fury at those who killed our innocents, our indignation was indeed righteous. Our cause truly was just. We stood together as a country -- political affiliations and personal concerns be damned -- and understood with one mind that this was the way it had to be. We shouted with one voice, "You have unleashed this."

We felt lost, but were comforted in holding on to each other. We were both terrified and fearless. We were powerful in our vulnerability.

It's true that all things are relative, and if the current condition of our country and our world is the yardstick by which we measure the past, then maybe my effusion is somewhat prejudiced -- maybe the past has an unfair advantage; maybe any past would.

I'm not sure that's the case though.

Five years ago, the world changed -- not forever, as was first forecast, but for a short time.

It's that short time that continues to give me faith in us.

It's during that time, when things were at their worst -- that we were at our best.

Part II Tomorrow

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

It felt like the world was ending.

It felt like the world was coming alive for the first time.

During the four and a half months I spent living in a New York hotel room, covering 9/11, every human emotion was amplified. At any given moment, there were a million ways to feel -- a million reactions to a situation which was so overwhelming that any attempt to put it into words fell heartbreakingly short.

You just accepted it.

The pain. The loss. The hope. The fear. The emptiness. The rage. The joy. The vulnerability. The sympathy and empathy. The pride. The belief in the human spirit. The humanity.

It made you understand that it was these feelings that made life so painfully tragic and so breathtakingly precious.

After close to five months, I believed that I was exhausted. I was certain that the constant barrage of emotional stimuli had worn me down. I thought I was out of tears.

Then on February 3rd, 2002, U2 stepped onstage at the Superbowl halftime show and somehow managed to capture every contradictory emotion -- all that suffering and all that resilience -- and blast it through an amp.

I watched the lights dim; watched the names of the victims of the attacks begin scrolling up the massive backdrop -- climbing seemingly to heaven itself; I listened to the solemn and beautiful MLK lead into the first notes of one of the most uplifting songs ever recorded, Where the Streets Have No Name.

And I cried like a baby.

Every single moment of this performance and the audience's reaction to it is beyond description.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

Once again, in a fair and just world -- Britney Spears would be working as a cashier at Gatorama in Central Florida and other, infinitely more talented artists would be recognized appropriately, have money thrown at them and be sleeping with supermodels.

Case in point: Abandoned Pools.

Fronted by Tommy Walter of the Eels, this band should be huge. They crank out the kind of alterna-pop that the characters on The O.C. typically slip into casual conversation. Unfortunately, after their last album, Armed to the Teeth, underpreformed, Universal Records pulled all promotion -- as if there was much there to begin with.

Keep in mind, Ashlee Simpson and Lindsay Lohan continue to be stars on the Universal roster.

Tell me that makes sense.

From the short-lived MTV series Clone High, tonight's video was the first single from Abandoned Pools' debut album Humanistic. It's called The Remedy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Remember, Remember the 11th of September

Just a warning.

Contrary to my feelings about the business, I am still technically paid by a television network -- which means that for the time being my life is consumed by preparations for the fifth anniversary of September 11th.

For the record, we're crashing to get our coverage sorted out because, you know, this whole 9/11 anniversary thing kind of caught us off guard.

Consequently, I'll be publishing very little over the next few days.

I'll try and get something worthwhile posted, but I can't guarantee much -- besides a possible aneurysm for me.

With Teeth

Seen on the street today:

A typical smart-suited businessman with not one, but two Bluetooth earpieces, one in each ear, which I suppose makes him an atypical businessman -- that, or the Borg Queen.

If there's been a more comically absurd invention in the past decade, I'm unaware of it.

Those things have become the international symbol for unbridled douchebaggery.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Nightly Middle Finger to MTV

Pete Yorn is God.

'Nuff said.

From his debut album, Musicforthemorningafter, tonight's video is Life on a Chain.

Laugh and the World Forgives You

When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was Close Encounters of the Third Kind; it still has a place in my heart as quite possibly my all-time favorite Spielberg movie and I look back fondly on the days when I would let it and Star Wars battle it out in my own mind for title of "Chez's Favorite Movie" -- as if that prize held some kind of overwhelming importance in the film world.

I was obviously a serious geek.

Oddly though, for such a simple movie -- one laced with fantasy and child-like awe -- it contains at least one nugget of worldly wisdom (I mean, besides, "Never believe a nerve gas derailment," and "EZ4 gives you a hell of a headache").

It comes about two-thirds of the way through the movie, as terrified citizens are attending a meeting held by the military lackeys whose job it is to calm them down. The Air Force officer who leads the conference says that he'd like nothing more than to see a UFO himself -- to which Richard Dreyfuss's frazzled and unemployed lineman, Roy Neary, responds, "You can't fool us by agreeing with us."

I bring this up, because these very words from popular culture thirty years ago are in desperate need of resurrection, and application to today's popular culture.

Last week, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips accidentally took a live wireless microphone with her into the bathroom during a broadcast of a presidential speech. Apparently, due to a "glitch" in the network's audio board, the control room was unable to turn off the mic -- which meant that viewers around the country, rather than suffering through another ridiculous round of talking-point repetition from our Idiot in Charge, were treated to a cackling dissertation on the personal politics of the Phillips family.

According to Kyra, her sister-in-law is a control freak; her brother's kind of spineless. You get the picture.

The gruesome details continued until someone interrupted this rambling monologue with the words that have crushed the careers of literally hundreds of television personalities: "Your mic is on." Kyra's career however, as it turns out, has been far from crushed by this incident. Quite the contrary in fact. Let's put it this way: there's a pretty good chance that you still have no idea who the hell I'm talking about, but I guarantee that more people know the name Kyra Phillips this week than last. She may go down in Darwinist history as the news anchor who took a mic into the bathroom, but at least she'll be remembered for something.

I could complain for hours about the belief that any publicity is good publicity, but that's been done to death.

I'm actually more interested in Phillips and CNN's reaction to the gaff, and how it's representative of the latest trend in pop culture Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards.

As the clip made the rounds on the internet and all that unintended publicity swirled around her, Phillips accepted an invitation to address the issue on CBS. Not on CBS News however; on the Late Show with David Letterman. Not as a guest per se, but as the presenter and punchline of one of Letterman's Top Ten lists -- entitled, "Kyra Phillips's Top Ten Excuses."

It was genuinely funny; Cute Kyra was personable and sweet and seemed at the very least embarrassed by the incident.

It also served what was no doubt its primary purpose -- which was to effectively gain the upper-hand in the controversy, put it to rest quickly and summarily, and give Phillips and the network the last laugh.

But that's the problem. Yes, it was worthy of a chuckle, and certainly on live television mistakes are not only possible but likely. Still, the ability to poke fun at yourself -- although laudable at face value -- isn't a solution to a problem; it's merely a means of putting a positive spin on that problem.

There's no greater beneficiary of this kind of P.R. stunt than Ashlee Simpson -- a celebrity whom I would hope CNN wouldn't care to be mentioned in the same sentence as. Who the hell can forget Simpson's "live" performance on Saturday Night Live, where she was left dancing around like a scared baboon while her voice seemed to magically appear out of nowhere? Simpson was the immediate target of ridicule, which was confusing only because it took that long for America to begin mocking a recording artist who had no discernable talent from the very beginning.

What Simpson did though -- after the requisite, childish finger-pointing and litany of asinine excuses -- was to immediately put on a humble Burson-Marsteller-approved smile and join in the torrent of jokes being made supposedly at her expense. It didn't win over everyone, but it certainly made the best of a bad situation. It's what Keanu Reeves's character in Speed would call "shooting the hostage;" you take the liability out of the equation yourself, and automatically render your enemy powerless.

Once again though, it doesn't solve the problem.

The willingness to laugh at your faults doesn't make them any less offensive. You can make fun of yourself all you want; it won't make you less of an idiot. Unfortunately, this means of damage control seems to be the new go-to M.O. for public relations flacks and their desperate clients worldwide.

It worked for Ashlee Simpson. It will no doubt work for Kyra Phillips.

But it probably shouldn't work at all.

Roy Neary's words should ring true.