Monday, March 31, 2008

Six Degrees of Defamation


1. Jeff Foxworthy, who mysteriously raked in a fortune noting what might make you a redneck, hosts a show on the Fox network called Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

2. American Idol appears on the Fox network.

3. Uber-cute, country music wanna-be Kristy Lee Cook is a contestant on American Idol.

4. Last week, Kristy Lee Cook sang Lee Greenwood's unintentionally hilarious tribute to Jesus and America, God Bless the USA, on American Idol.

5. The chorus of God Bless the USA begins with Lee Greenwood singing, "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free," which makes no grammatical sense whatsoever.

6. God Bless the USA proves that Lee Greenwood is both a redneck and not smarter than a 5th grader, making him the perfect foil for Jeff Foxworthy.

Fail



President Bush booed at last night's 2008 home opener of the Washington Nationals

Dead Star Twilight: The Soundtrack (Part 2)

More music from my full-length memoir, Dead Star Twilight, which will be available for download from this site beginning on Tuesday, April 8th.



Counting Crows -- A Long December



Poe -- Amazed



A Tribe Called Quest -- Find a Way



Elliott Smith -- Angeles

(Dead Star Twilight Soundtrack, Part 1)

(Incidentally, yes, I will be creating an iTunes playlist of all this stuff in the coming days. I'll let everyone know when it's up.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dead Star Twilight: The Soundtrack


As I mentioned last week, on Tuesday, April 8th, I'll be making my memoir, Dead Star Twilight, available for download from this site. (For those who've sent me emails commenting on the lack of "quality" content here at DXM recently, the final preps for the book's release are to blame. Oh yeah, and tough shit.)

I've already gone over the basics of what's featured in the book: that year-and-a-half period of my life, the timeline, the players, etc. What I haven't really gotten into though, is one of the most important components of the story.

The music.

It should surprise no one to learn that throughout my little ordeal -- as it did in the years leading up to, and has in the years since -- music played an invaluable role in helping me to cope, marking certain moments, conveying my emotions better than I ever could and complementing the situations I found myself in and the moods they elicited.

I know I'm not the only person who believes that life has a soundtrack, and since the memoir is a slice of my life -- a stretch of time that was equal parts agonizing and exhilarating -- it has what amounts to its own score.

The book either mentions outright or indirectly references a number of bands and songs, and so, over the next week-and-a-half -- leading up to April 8th -- I'll be publishing a series of special Listening Posts which feature the music of Dead Star Twilight.

Hope they help add to your enjoyment of the story.

Here's the first (and please remember that the videos won't always be spectacular; I'm just interested in the music):



Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Shuffle Your Feet (The only song of the series not featured in the story itself. For some reason, this is always what comes to mind as I go back over the opening chapter. Sure it's self-indulgent, but isn't writing a memoir to begin with?)



Underworld -- Pearl's Girl



Supreme Beings of Leisure -- Never the Same



Morphine -- All Wrong/Whisper



Moby -- God Moving Over the Face of the Waters

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dial 911, Ask for Jesus


I'd love to expound on this, but it's just too fucking infuriating and I feel like I've said it all before.

What I'll suggest is to first read this story, then (if your brain still functions) take a look at the calendar on your desk and note the year.

(Milwaukee JS Online: Young Girl Dies of Diabetes While Family Prays/3.26.08)

"You Like Gettin' Nailed by the King, Baby?"


I promise I'll drop this now, but apparently there is someone out there even less sexy than Sarah Jessica Parker. She can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

(The Huffington Post: Larry King Voted "Least Sexy" TV Host/3.27.08)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Project Office Mayhem


Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 6,800

If you work in the Arab wing of the Anti-Defamation League: 1,348,225

If you work at a newspaper in Denmark: 14

(The Cars That Go Boom)

Listening Post


I could post a different astonishing Massive Attack song every day and not run out of them for months. Here are two. First up, Butterfly Caught.



Next, False Flags.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reality Bites


Every once in a while, the stars align and hand me the perfect opporunity to resurrect an often overlooked column from the archives. Today, I've been given the rare chance to bring back two.

In January of last year, I posted a couple of articles focusing on a trend in this country: an unwillingness to accept reality, based on the belief that it can be altered on a whim.

The columns cited, as examples, both American Idol (which airs tonight on Fox), and an interview with Dick Cheney (who has just completed a frighteningly blithe one-on-one with ABC News).

Here they are:

(Reality Check, Part I: "I Can Do Anything I Want, and So Can You"/1.25.07)

(Reality Check, Part II: "I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing"/1.26.07)

And Now, the Last Word on the Whole Sarah Jessica Parker Thing, from Chez's Evil Twin, Garth


Look, enough already, okay?

Most men think Sarah Jessica Parker is fucking ugly -- the sooner we admit this, the sooner our long national nightmare will be over.

The readers of Maxim said as much, and although most of them are blithering idiots, debating them on it -- claiming that they're wrong either for voicing this kind of opinion or for having it in the first place -- is just goddamned ridiculous. They're entitled to think whatever the hell they want and to shout it from the rooftops. This is America, after all.

Once again though, if you can't see that the average heterosexual man isn't the least bit turned on by Parker's Witchy-Poo mug, you're either blind or in denial. Seriously, go up to any guy on the street and ask him what he thinks of Parker -- there's a 90% chance he's first gonna roll his eyes because his wife, girlfriend, or booty-call just loves fucking Sex and the City and spends every Saturday night out with her borderline-retarded friends debating which character from the show she is -- then he's gonna choke back a little vomit at the thought of anyone having to look at Parker's face during sex. (So that was rude, what do you want -- I'm evil.)

But here's the thing to keep in mind: It shouldn't surprise anyone -- least of all Parker herself -- that she doesn't do it for most guys.

The character that made her famous -- the very show she was chosen to star in -- wasn't written by guys.

Sex and the City is basically the kind of fantasy that only a conference table full of women and gay men (and that metrosexual douchebag Greg Behrendt) could've dreamed up. They're the only ones who could honestly believe that straight men living in New York City would fall all over themselves to be with a woman who looks and acts like Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw. Only a woman or a gay man would legitimately think straight men give a shit how many pairs of repulsive Jimmy Choo shoes or how many dresses that look like pink, couture garbage bags a woman has in her closet. It's like a person who's been blind since birth trying to paint a sunset, then mass market it.

Parker's entire image is the neo-feminine ideal of what a man should be attracted to. Her character was never really meant to appeal to men, which is completely cool until Parker starts bitching up a storm about how she doesn't, in fact, appeal to men (and no, Ferris Bueller doesn't count -- obviously). The women who created Parker's character and the show she inhabits -- including Parker herself -- now react with comically righteous indignation because life doesn't imitate "art" and real straight men don't give a rat's ass about Sarah Jessica Parker the way poorly-written straight characters on Sex and the City do about Carrie fucking Bradshaw.

So, no folks -- Parker's not very attractive and, as anyone not delusional would've been able to see coming, by complaining about her "poor treatment" at the hands of Maxim, she opened herself up to a shitload of fresh ridicule from all directions.

Including this one.

To close, and along those lines, I think I'll borrow a phrase from an idol of mine -- a certain oil man by the name of Plainview:

"If you have a horse face, and I have a blog -- and my blog reaches across the world, and starts to mock your horse face...

I. MOCK. YOUR. HORSE FACE.

NAYEEE-HEE-HEE-HEE!

I MOCK IT UP!
"


Oh yeah, and by the way -- if you honestly think that a dislike of Sarah Jessica Parker and a willingness to get into these kinds of things automatically makes someone anti-women or anti-feminism, you're probably a fucking idiot.

(As usual, the opinions of Garth do not necessarily reflect those of Chez, who may not find Sarah Jessica Parker very attractive, but who does, in fact, like milkshakes.)

Anne Boilin'





I rest my case.

Anne Baxter as Nefretiri in The Ten Commandments.

Makes me wanna sin, big time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Catherine the Great


One of my favorite women on planet Earth is Catherine Crier.

The journalist, best-selling author and former judge is as tenacious as she is brilliant -- and she's just written a spectacular little essay decrying the unconscionable failings of the TV news industry. It's currently a featured article over at the Huffington Post.

Do yourself a favor and read it.

(The Huffington Post: "Newsrooms Revolt!" by Catherine Crier)

Listening Post



I love Poe so much, it hurts.

She's sexy, talented, more than a little crazy, and her last album (which, from the look of it, could actually wind up being her last album) turned out to be a desert island record for me.

From that release, 2000's Haunted, here's the rarely-seen video for the absolute best song to drive to late at night: Hey Pretty.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Game (Nowhere Near) Over, Man


Just a reminder that Christmas is right around the corner and you'll soon be racking your brain trying to figure out what to get me.

Aliens: Colonial Marines, for XBOX 360 -- arriving this holiday season.

Hoo-ah!

Happy Zombie Jesus Day


Because nothing in this world has successfully eaten more brains than Christianity.

(For a truly thoughtful analysis of the Easter holiday, go here.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Three on Ten


As is tradition on Easter weekend, ABC's airing all 14 hours of the most celebrated B-movie ever made tonight: Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. Here now, three quick thoughts on it.

1. Heston rules. He's to melodrama what Busey is to batshit crazy.

2. When I was a kid, I had the biggest crush on Nefretiri. Anne Baxter is so fucking hot in this movie, and my lust for her character probably set the stage for a 30-year addiction to vengeful, treacherous bitches.

3. You know, leave it to the Jews to spend 400 years complaining about the pain of being in bondage instead of actually doing something about it.

(Relax kids -- they're just jokes. By the way, the picture came up when I Google Image Searched "The Ten Commandments.")

Friday, March 21, 2008

Here's the Story...


On more than one occasion over the past year or so, I've referenced a full-length manuscript that I wrote and hoped to shop to publishers. It's a memoir which chronicles, in stark detail, my heroin addiction, time in rehab and stupidly impetuous move to New York City immediately following 9/11.

While "The Book," as my wife and I call it ominously, has been considered by three major publishers -- all of whom seemed to like it, but not enough to pick it up -- only a handful of friends and family have read it cover-to-cover. I readily admit that, because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter, I've been reluctant to even shop the damn thing; I've wavered on the fate of my work -- which I'm certainly proud of having accomplished -- for months and months. As I said, only three publishing houses have seen it, which doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of possible takers.

Since first mentioning the existence of my little memoir, I've received emails and comments wanting to know when it might be published -- and each excerpt I've posted has brought more and more of these. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate the interest and the support; it's all meant quite a bit to me and may have helped me to reach a point of critical mass in my head.

So, after talking it over with Jayne, I've decided that I'm going to put my money where my mouth is -- both as a writer and someone who claims to believe in the power of new media: I'm going to release my full-length memoir via the internet. I'll make it available for download from this site, for a price that's yet to be determined. (It won't be a fortune, I promise.)

For the record, after a slew of edits and clean-ups -- the last of which is being done this week -- and a rotating host of working titles, the name of the book is Dead Star Twilight.

You'll have to trust me that it has meaning.

I'm both terrified and excited to finally be getting this thing out there, and I'll probably delve more into my decision to release it online -- what made me think that this is the way to go, all Fugazi/grass roots style -- at a later date. I'll also likely be posting one last "new" excerpt from the book before the release date.

And that release date is Tuesday, April 8th.

(Welcome to the Monkey House/6.4.07)

(The Ex Files/6.7.07)

(Imperfect Strangers/8.30.07)

(With Love and Resentment, Your Past/9.5.07)

(Listening Post: Memoir Edition/1.27.08)

Film Festivus


Follow this link: (Curbed: B+ Movie)

Do exactly what the kid says.

Vaal commands it.

(Seriously, please. I'll explain later.)

They're Just Not That Into You


Let's just get this out of the way so that you can make all appropriate fun and we can move on: I love Smokey & The Bandit.

Say what you will, the 1977 Burt Reynolds vehicle (no pun intended) is a classic; it provided my friends and me with three decades worth of quotable lines and taught us to approach life with the understanding that there's no problem that can't be solved with a Trans-am, a CB radio, a big-ass truck full of warm Coors and Paul Williams in a leisure suit. Take my word for it -- the next time you're facing a seemingly insurmountable crisis, just think to yourself WWBD?: What Would Bandit Do?

Problem solved.

While the original Smokey was probably the most mindlessly entertaining movie of all time, its sequel -- the cleverly titled Smokey & The Bandit 2 -- had not a redeeming quality to be found anywhere (unless you take into account the fact that it birthed Hollywood's gag-reel-over-the-credits trend, as the bloopers are generally the funniest part of any big-budget comedy these days). That said, I liked the movie, for reasons I'll probably never quite understand; I imagine it's the same inexplicable thought process which causes me to insist that the Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way is the best pop song ever.

Although Smokey 2 was, I admit, almost entirely forgettable, it contained one particular scene that somehow managed to stick with me throughout the years, simply because -- believe it or not -- it actually said a hell of a lot about not just the culture of celebrity, but about celebrities themselves. And while I have no doubt that any profound theme or underlying esoterica to be found in the film was wholly unintentional on the part of the producers -- this was the same movie, after all, that played a pregnant elephant and Jackie Gleason doing a flaming gay stereotype for laughs -- that doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Hear me out: As the movie begins, the Bandit is a burned out shell of his former self. He's heartbroken over the loss of his one true love, played by Sally Field, but he's also bitter and angry because he understands that it was his own arrogance and narcissism that drove her away. The audience comes to find out that at some point after the events depicted in the first film -- and, one would have to assume, because of those events -- the Bandit became a nationwide sensation. If this entire premise isn't a textbook example of post-modern meta-fiction, I have no idea what is, given that it's impossible to imagine a bootlegger, one whose most notable achievement involved outsmarting a dimwitted Texas trooper, becoming a household name -- unless he happened to be a character played by Burt Reynolds in a hugely successful movie. Then again, I could be wrong about the ability of a Georgia beer-runner to become famous, in which case Smokey 2 isn't so much "meta" as it is the most subtle and prescient indictment of the media's growing ability to create insta-stars (because you just know that it would be the local news coverage of the Bandit and Snowman's highway antics, and the resulting traffic nightmare, which catapults them into the spotlight) since Network. As the film unfolds further, the Bandit attempts to regain not only the love and affection of his adorable inamorata, but his former notoriety. Unfortunately, these two goals are mutually exclusive, as the Bandit finds out, namely because the cocky swagger that's required to reclaim his "World's Most Famous Bootlegger" crown will drive his girl away, while the humility sure to earn him undying love will likely make him a nobody. It's the ultimate Faustian conundrum.

The whole thing comes to a head in what I think is the pivotal moment in this particular story arc -- the scene to which I'm referring.

At one point, the Bandit is forced to stop for gas -- Trans-am enthusiasts are familiar with this necessity -- and that's where he gets into a row with a clerk whom he believes is guilty of an unforgivable transgression: While the guy does, in fact, know just whose presence he's being graced by -- he's aware of the Bandit's status as a celebrity -- he doesn't give a shit. He thinks the Bandit's an arrogant asshole. This snub causes the Bandit to throw a juvenile tantrum, grabbing the clerk by the throat and shouting in his face: "Women love me! Little kids love me! Now you're gonna love me or I'm gonna kick your ass!"

That one line says everything you need to know about how those who've been in the spotlight too long -- who've gotten used to the warm and comforting glow of perpetual adulation -- can come to feel about themselves and their place in the cultural strata.

It's called believing your own hype.

Why do I bring this up?

Because Sarah Jessica Parker is furious that Maxim men's magazine dubbed her "The World's Unsexiest Woman."

In a recent interview in Grazia magazine, Parker reveals that she and her husband, conspicuously effeminate actor Matthew Broderick, were hurt and offended by the insult -- which Parker calls "brutal" -- and had a difficult time putting the whole ordeal behind them.

Feel free to take a moment to grab a tissue if you need one -- I'll wait.

Parker throws down the gauntlet in the interview, simultaneously defending her "sexiness" and attacking Maxim's core audience of 20-something, stripe-shirted potential date-rapists by saying:

“Do I have big fake boobs, Botox and big lips? No. Do I fit some ideals and standards of some men writing in a men’s magazine? Maybe not."

While Parker makes a valid argument, albeit in a referential way, about the unfortunate female ideal in our society -- to say that she's both missing the point and in no legitimate position to be making a point (not this one, anyway) is an understatement.

It's no secret that I find Sarah Jessica Parker startlingly unattractive; I state as much in my personal bio, which stands as the first thing most readers see when they visit this site. I say this not because I'm some troglodyte who's personally offended that she doesn't meet the Americanized standard of perfection that I believe all women -- certainly celebrities -- should aspire to. I don't care that she doesn't have silicone breasts or surgically enhanced lips. I don't stand on the virtual playground throwing rocks at the "ugly girl" because, when compared to a predetermined set of others, she doesn't stack up (once again, no pun intended). Parker's beauty, or lack thereof, isn't a relative thing. I just don't think she's the least bit attractive -- far from it.

What's worth noting, though, is who I'm really taking a shot at in my bio. Here's a hint: It's not Sarah Jessica Parker. For reasons I wish I didn't understand, the slavish, celeb-obsessed media have anointed Parker -- a somewhat homely, unspectacular actress -- the patron saint of high-fashion and feminism-through-sexual-empowerment. In a staggeringly audacious parlor trick, Hollywood and the media have managed to convince an impressionable public that Parker actually is the character she played on television: Sex & The City's hideously dressed bed-hopper, Carrie Bradshaw. This isn't the first time that docile consumers have plugged into the Matrix and either forgotten or chosen to ignore the line between fantasy and reality; Sex & The City in particular has turned such oversight into a cottage industry. (Case in point: Kim Cattrall surreally penning several sexual self-help books, the apparent implication being: "My character fucks a lot on TV, ergo, I'm qualified to help you with your sex life." If you follow this idiotic line of reasoning, we should be sending Stallone over to clean house in Iraq and you'll want to give Hugh Laurie a call the next time you're puking up blood.) Which begs the question: Would I be singling-out Sarah Jessica Parker for a mild amount of mockery if she were just your average actress or quasi-celeb -- and not pushed 24/7 as a style-maker and one-woman cultural zeitgeist?

No, of course not.

And neither would Maxim.

Maxim's shot at Parker, like mine, wasn't aimed at her; it was aimed at her image. The magazine doesn't truly believe that Sarah Jessica Parker is the unsexiest woman in the world. (There's no goddamn way she's less attractive than Amy Winehouse.) It's implying that she's the unsexiest woman we've all been conditioned to believe is sexy. There's no doubt that Parker doesn't fit the Maxim mold -- and that by hitting her hard, the magazine also insults Sex & The City's legion of vapid, clownish female acolytes (the women your average Maxim reader will claim to detest but who, ironically, represent the easiest targets at the bar on Friday night). But that's all sort of the point, and it's one that Parker is apparently too self-absorbed or insecure to take into account. She's not Maxim magazine's type.

So, why the hell should she let it bother her that a magazine not aimed at her -- in fact, aimed at a demographic she considers rather Neanderthal -- has labeled her "unsexy?"

Why is it necessary to be all things to all people?

For the record, Grazia magazine -- the one in which Parker's interview appears -- is a fashion glossy based out of London. This week's issue invites readers to enter a contest, the grand prize of which is an invitation to an exclusive Emilio Pucci fashion show. For the extraordinarily obtuse, allow me to rephrase: An interview with Sarah Jessica Parker appears in a London fashion magazine. If you haven't been to the grocery store lately, you've also missed Parker's airbrushed face peering across the conveyor at you from the covers of Vogue and Cosmo. Add to that the fact that the Sex & The City movie and all the accompanying publicity will soon be dropped onto America's doorstep like dogshit in a flaming paper bag, and you realize that Maxim magazine's juvenile decree hasn't hurt Parker's career one bit. Even if you think she's monstrously repulsive, she's the most successful monstrously repulsive woman on the planet -- dragging her big bag of money from her home under a bridge right to the bank. Maxim's readers and editors shouldn't even matter. Personally, I wouldn't have known about the Maxim poll had it not been for Parker's decision to, apparently, take a stand for the rights of ugly girls. While I'm willing to concede that this entire "controversy" may itself have been concocted by a clever studio publicist, it doesn't alter the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker suddenly looks like nothing more than a petulant child who's crying because the big meanies said bad things about her.

She suddenly looks like someone who's been in the spotlight for so long -- who's become so used to the comforting glow of perpetual adulation; who's become such a believer in her own hype -- that she's shocked and confused when someone doesn't see in her what everyone else seems to. Another possibility, one far more alarming, would be that she's come to believe not only that her status is a right as opposed to a privilege, but that it's also made her unassailable.

"You're gonna come out here and love me, or I'm gonna kick your ass!"

Or there's always the chance that Maxim simply reminded her of the truth that she knows full well: That under all that makeup, after all those cover shoots and fashion shows, in spite of all that acclaim and lionization -- she's really kind of unattractive.

Listening Post



By now, just about anyone who's a fan of the "alternative" genre has heard the story of Vampire Weekend.

Admittedly, it's the kind of practically-unbelievable tale of overnight success about which most bands can only dream. Around this time last year, Vampire Weekend were playing frat parties on the Columbia University campus, where the members of the band were students. Today, they're pretty much the most talked about indie group on the planet.

Believe it or not, all the buzz actually leads to a surprisingly decent band for a change.

Here's Vampire Weekend's A-Punk.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bliss


For the first time in my life, I just can't find the words.

(Because there are those within the family of Jayne and myself who don't want to know whether our baby is a boy or a girl, I won't post that information here on the main page. Spoiler Alert: For those interested in learning the details, click the comment link. Anyone wishing to be kept in the dark -- you've been warned.)

Coming Attraction


I realize I've been MIA lately, and for that I apologize. Tomorrow, I'll be going public with details of the project that I've been working so on diligently this past week.

Can't promise it'll have been worth the wait, but at least it should mark the return of regular columns to this site.

Tune in tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Moment with Admiral Ackbar

Listening Post



This is without a doubt the best amateur video I've ever come across. It's just mind-blowingly cool.

Gary Numan vs. Christian Bale -- Crazier

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thanks, the Management


I should probably take a minute to let everyone know that the next week or so will probably see a decrease in the number of substantive posts around these parts. I'll continue to put up a few things here and there, and obviously if something strikes a nerve I'll be sure to expound on it.

I'm working on a rather large project right now though -- one I promise to offer more details on in the coming days.

Until then, this will keep you occupied.

Listening Post: St. Patrick's Day Edition



Dropkick Murphys -- I'm Shipping Up to Boston.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Listening Post: Bonus Weekend Edition



One minute and twenty seconds of pure "fuck you" rock and roll.

The Vines -- Gross Out.

Interlude

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Good Kristen


Well, I'll say one thing for Spitzer -- he certainly got his money's worth.

Listening Post



I started the week with a really good cover and I'll end it the same way.

Here's Placebo, doing Kate Bush's passionate classic Running Up That Hill.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Everything Is Under Control


There's a terrific movie from the late 90s that's been on my mind quite a bit over the past couple of days.

David Fincher's wonderfully creepy gem The Game had the misfortune of falling between the director's masterworks -- it was released after Se7en and before Fight Club -- and as such is now largely overlooked. For those who haven't seen it, the film stars Michael Douglas as an icy corporate baron whose perfectly self-structured life begins to unravel after his brother, played by Sean Penn, enrolls him in a mysterious "game," supposedly for the purpose of helping him relax. Douglas's character is initially told that he'll never know exactly when the game -- which has been specifically tailored to his personality -- begins. But what starts as a series of seemingly harmless pranks eventually turns sadistic and terrifying, with the main character running for his life, unable to tell what's real, what isn't, or how to make any of it stop.

The movie never fails to breathe with an uncomfortable sense of dread, despite the fact that its entire storyline -- every frightening twist and turn -- can be negated by the viewer with one single thought:

None of this is real. It's all part of the game.

Last night in Washington DC, Hillary Clinton prostrated herself before a gathering of black newspaper publishers, unleashing a torrent of apologies for recent comments made by Geraldine Ferraro -- the perpetually irritable former presidential candidate who until yesterday was an honorary member of the Clinton campaign. Over the past few weeks, Ferraro has regaled anyone willing to listen with her theory that Barack Obama owes his current political fortunes to the color of his skin, saying that if he were white, or a woman, voters wouldn't be paying attention to him. Although Ferraro has resigned her position with Camp Clinton, telling Hillary that she doesn't want to see the campaign damaged by unnecessary controversy, she's anything but contrite. Last night on NBC, not long before Keith Olbermann's brutal on-air denunciation of her comments, Ferraro arrogantly insisted that she was the victim of a witch hunt and that it was the Obama camp who owed her an apology. She's gone on to say that she's under attack for being white and that Obama supporters are attempting to violate her first amendment rights -- rights she plans to continue exercising now that she's gone Ronin from the Clinton campaign proper.

While I admire Ferraro's tenacity and refusal to offer up the traditional insincere apology, a firm spine doesn't necessarily prove the existence of a functional brain: What Ferraro said was astonishingly stupid.

But here's the thing -- it was also completely predictable.

Despite her well-deserved status as a trailblazer in politics, Geraldine Ferraro is one of the Beltway's most infamous loose cannons. She's a reliable fountain of bitter rhetoric and a stubbornly pious crusader for her own brand of logic. She's the political Terminator: She won't listen to reason and she can't be bargained with once she's acquired her target, whatever or whomever that may be. What's important though is that she's been this way for decades. Geraldine Ferraro isn't some untested neophyte with stars in her eyes and a blank slate for a reputation, and Hillary Clinton knew as much when she brought her on-board the campaign. Clinton was well aware of what kind of product she was buying from the very beginning -- and make no mistake, she got exactly what she wanted. Taking a page from her legal background, she implicitly allowed for a pejorative statement to be made in court that would sway the jury, but from which she could officially distance herself. Clinton now has the best of both worlds: An "evil twin" doing the dirty work -- raising the vilest of bullshit controversies to anxious voters -- and not simply clean hands but the added benefit of being able to play both ends against the middle by publicly repudiating the actions of the other half.

We've seen this before from the Clintons -- many times. It smacks of the kind of political opportunism and self-satisfied aren't-we-clever machinations for which they've become legendary.

There's the chance that I'm wrong about all of this, of course -- that Hillary Clinton gave no more thought to hiring Geraldine Ferraro than she would have to any other heavyweight ally, and that she was as repulsed by Ferraro's ridiculous comments as the rest of us.

But how can anyone tell anymore?

At this point, is it really so foolish to assume that everything we see is just part of the game?

Project Office Mayhem


Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 150

If you happen to work for Clear Channel: 1,322

(All Your Radio Are Belong to Us)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eliot Mess


Back when I was first starting out in TV news, I worked closely with a male reporter who had a reputation for being an insatiable office lothario. A considerable portion of his spare time while on the clock was spent trying to seduce one impressionable, post-collegiate hire or another; these seek-and-destroy missions were usually undertaken in the same sickeningly cavalier manner -- with an almost comical lack of regard both for the wreckage of past relationships that he'd left strewn all over the newsroom and for the wife and young child he returned home to every night. Throw in a frat-boyish tendency toward male-bonding-through-conquest-comparison and you had a personal catastrophe waiting to happen.

While I was certainly no angel and had done my fair share of screwing around, cheating on women who cared for me and generally behaving atrociously, I always kept this reporter and his exploits in the back of my mind during my early 20s -- as a sort of object lesson.

I looked at him and told myself, "I don't ever want to become that."

He was in his late 30s, married, a father, and a fucking narcissist who just couldn't resist whatever ego-stroking power trip came from getting a 21-year-old to sleep with him. He was a walking hard-on who was constantly one lipstick smudge away from destroying his life, his job, his family -- everything.

I always wondered what he would tell himself if and when it all fell apart -- how he would even begin to justify not simply what he'd done but quite possibly who he was.

Needless to say, this little memory has pushed its way back into my consciousness in the last 48-hours, thanks to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's gargantuan indiscretion.

But while psychologists, self-help gurus and humiliated wives of news-cycles past now jockey for position in front of this camera or that -- with rubbernecking audiences gleefully joining in the obligatory pile-on and armchair analysis of "why men cheat" -- it's worth noting just how far off-point the whole debate seems to be.

Sure, we've witnessed the fall from grace of dozens of powerful men before the whole Spitzer debacle, but to imply -- even for a moment -- that deceit, betrayal and arrogance belong strictly within the realm of the masculine sex is both obscene and offensive. Eliot Spitzer's actions were indeed selfish and stupid, but to view them in such simple yet strangely accepted terms -- as indicative of some great anthropological mystery about men in general -- renders the entire argument worthless. The truth is that an inexplicable willingness to compartmentalize all that you've worked so hard for -- to bury the thoughts of your loved ones, your future, any potentially negative consequence -- in order to chase down a cheap thrill isn't a male trait any more than it's a female trait; in reality, it's a human trait.

People make mistakes. They screw up -- sometimes horribly. They do things without thinking.

And while Eliot Spitzer will now pay the price for what he's done, neither his crime nor his punishment will answer any larger questions about the nature of men let alone human nature. No matter how many scorned women might understand the hurt that Spitzer's wife is feeling, and as such want to beat the disgraced governor until he gives up the answer they believe any betrayed spouse is entitled to -- why? -- it won't ever come. Eliot Spitzer can only speak for Eliot Spitzer, and chances are even he doesn't fully understand what led him do something so shockingly dumb.

I've cheated on people who loved me. I never purposely set out to hurt anyone, but that excuses nothing. I'm now sorry for the pain I caused.

I've been cheated on by people I loved. The pain is unimaginable, but I found that beyond some healthy analysis, looking for an ironclad reason as to why it happened -- what might explain or even excuse the betrayal -- only made it worse.

Destroying those you love is beyond justification, and any attempt made to do so -- particularly one which falls back on tired sexual stereotypes -- is an insult to those from whom you may find yourself asking forgiveness.

It's that simple -- or maybe that complicated.

Just before I moved out to L.A. to begin a new chapter in my career and my life, that Casanova reporter started dating a co-worker of ours with whom I was good friends. Whereas his past conquests had been passive, compliant and staggeringly respectful of his need for discretion, I understood something that his insurgent lust had apparently blinded him to: His new paramour would be nothing of the sort. She wouldn't behave; she wouldn't romanticize his immaturity; she wouldn't give a damn if the whole thing exploded and took an innocent wife and kid with it. She wasn't looking for love or an emotional connection and she wasn't trying to fill some hole left unattended by the lover she'd kiss when she got home.

She was doing it just to do it -- and neither she nor anyone else could tell you why.

Touch Me I'm Sick


A few days ago, the weekend Today show upped the ante in the news media's ongoing competition to find the most imaginative way to scare the hell out of you for no good reason. The show did a segment on a dangerous new condition supposedly rearing its ugly head on America's college campuses:

Drunkorexia.

According to a visibly shaken Amy Robach, the "disease" affects mostly young women -- leading them to skip meals during the day as a means of conserving calories so that they can spend their nights indulging in guilt-free drinking. For years you've known women who do this sort of thing by their more common name: "One Night Stands." But apparently what looks to the untrained eye like your average stupid drunk chick is in reality a sick little lamb crying out for help; lest you doubt this assessment, Today even brought in a camera-ready psychologist to attest to the breadth of the pandemic.

Which means you can now count the days until commercials for "Vodkalax, the only FDA-greased medication for the treatment of drunkorexia" begin popping up all over prime time TV.

So with that in mind -- the fear-mongering media's disease addiction as a potential platform from which to make a name for myself -- I offer up a few new combo-conditions sure to capture the attention of an already terrified nation.

All of these are real, because I said so, and all are very, very dangerous.

1. Restless Erectile Misfortune

Facts:
Painful condition characterized by inability to deny desire for sexual gratification, often leading to regular placement of penis into precarious situations with little regard for consequences. Inevitable outcome includes career suicide, loss of family, respect, status, 401k, the eternal gratitude of late-night comedy writers.

Treatment: Taser belt, venereal disease, opposition congress

See: Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart

Immune: Frenchmen

2. Osamnia

Facts:
Severe anxiety disorder which manifests itself in irrational fear of potential terrorist attacks, leading to lack of sleep (news media excluded), loss of appetite, election of GOP candidates and willingness to believe that a 3AM phone call to Barack Obama will start a chain reaction that will end in the deaths of your children.

Treatment: Capturing Osama bin Laden would be a start.

See: Kansas

Immune: Anyone with an IQ above that of a lamp shade

3. Cynic Fibrosis (Carlin's Disease)

Facts:
Highly contagious condition typically found among elderly men; manifests itself in random outbursts of bitter indignation, extended rants regarding personal solutions to global problems, outright dismissal of anyone under the age of 40, dinner table dissertations on time spent "fighting Jerry," threats of physical violence if neighborhood kids don't get off lawn.

Treatment: Let nature take its course.

See: Your grandfather

Immune: No one ("Just you wait til you're my age sonny!")

4. "Santos" Intolerance

Facts:
Severe anxiety disorder characterized by constant and irrational fear of Mexicans, often leading to ludicrous demagoguery, fascist rhetoric, nightly CNN show. Inevitable outcome may include mysterious unsolved death by lawn-care tools.

Treatment: Low ratings, sudden emergence of half-Mexican child with large orange head, righteous hand of God

See: Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo

Immune: Around 44.3 million Americans

5. Bushlemia

Facts:
Sometimes diagnosed as "Bush Derangement Syndrome" (in red states only), painful and debilitating disease characterized by uncontrollable urge to vomit profusely in reaction to voice, sight, or mere mention of George W. Bush. If left untreated, illness can lead to thoughts of suicide, relocation to Canada, terminal cocktail party conversations with irritating New York pseudo-intellectuals, enrollment in Screen Actor's Guild.

Treatment: Conversation with Dick Cheney in which he uses "the dark side of the force," waterboarding

Immune: NASCAR ticket-holders, Jack Abramoff, Jesus

(A Note to the Media: Remember that I am the official expert on each of these diseases, therefore I expect to be called upon to participate in any on-air discussion involving one or all of them. I'll be waiting for your call, Today show.)

Listening Post


Almost every kind of music has at least one or two worthwhile acts -- bands or musicians who manage to rise above the worst stereotypes of their genre and somehow "get it right."

Even at the height of its popularity, hair-metal seemed destined to become a punchline, the kind of thing 35-year-olds would one day look back on and wonder what the hell they were thinking. For the most part it's earned every bit of mockery heaped upon it since its mercy killing at the just hand of Nirvana back in the early 90s.

But buried deep within an overall brand that prided itself on being as ridiculously clownish and developmentally stunted as possible, there were still a few gems to be found.

Faster Pussycat was one of them.

Although they looked like just about every other band drawn from late-80s L.A.'s seemingly bottomless vat of sleaze/glam-rock wanna-bes, their unconventional influences and willingness to experiment made them stand out.

They embraced hip-hop, industrial and even the early Seattle feel of bands like Mother Love Bone long before any of it was cool -- sometimes at the risk of alienating their established audience. (I saw them live back in 1990; they were practically booed offstage for daring to intro a rock show with NWA's Gangsta Gangsta.)

Faster Pussycat is still around, in an updated incarnation, and continues to make pretty decent music.

This though, stands as one of the most inspired covers around -- and a reminder of why I liked the band in the first place.

You're So Vain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hall of Lame


Apparently employing a definition of "rock and roll" that's as loose as the inductee herself, last night the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame granted Madonna a place among its ostensibly hallowed ranks.

She was introduced (read: lionized) by none other than Justin Timberlake -- another performer who's got rock cred to spare, as long as you believe that rock and roll is something that can easily be bought in the vintage-T section of Fred Segal.

Sorry kids, not even a surreal shout-out from Iggy & the Stooges can make Madonna anything more than the longest-lasting pop culture PR stunt in history.

In a related item, there's this:

(Daily Goss: Madonna Fears She May Die Onstage)

Well, you know -- wherever.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Not Over Til It's Not Over


I can't say I always agree with Andrew Sullivan, but he wrote a hell of a dead-on article about the Clinton campaign for yesterday's Sunday Times.

Do yourself a favor and take a look.

(The Sunday Times: The Clintons a Horror Film that Never Ends/3.9.08)

Listening Post



It's not perfect, but quite a bit of this homemade video works surprisingly well.

It features my TV obsession (Battlestar Galactica) set to one of the best singles (One Man Army) from one of the few damn good straightforward rock bands left (Our Lady Peace).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Sacrilege

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Mr. Clean


Because this guy's commercials have again begun popping up all over TV, I return to a question I posed late last year.

Am I the only one who thinks James Dyson is completely insane?

The commercials for his technologically advanced vaccums, which feature him unabashedly flaunting his nearly DSM4-level obsession with cleanliness and order, always strike me as, well, a little unsettling.

"I just want things to work properly," he says with Queegian deliberateness, seemingly stunned as to why most vacuum cleaners are unable to subvert the immutable law of utilitarian degradation.

He admits without so much as a hint of bemusement that his life's work has been a fanatical, Frankenstein-like quest to recreate both the vacuum cleaner and the hand dryer in his own image and, consequently, fulfill a vendetta against the technology which long ago let him down and left his carpets unclean and his hands wet.

Look beyond the sedate demeanor and the soothing voice and you can practically hear him saying, "Fools! They laughed at me when I said that vacuums didn't have to lose suction! Who's laughing now Hoover?!" Like a mad scientist who fancies himself one of the Mathematikoi -- and who in reality likely suffers from a very acute case of Asperger Syndrome -- he feels the need to constantly demonstrate just how he's reinventing the wheel and how it will eventually help him win the compulsive lifelong war he's waged against the constraints of basic physics.

I get the feeling that if you ever read Yeats to him, particularly the poet's seminal notion that "Things fall apart... The center cannot hold... Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," he would likely explode in an uncontrollable fit of violent rage, grabbing the nearest sharp object and plunging it into your throat again and again. This would be followed by his spending the ensuing several hours desperately attempting to build a new wet-dry vac capable of expurgating the mess and returning everything to a place of immaculate order.

Really though, you've got to give credit to a guy who not only puts his neuroses out there for the world to see, but also uses them as a marketing tool to make him a millionaire.

I wish I were that crazy.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Graham Crack-Up



Rounding out my week of TV Funhouse clips, one of the best.

If you can make it past "invisible robots!" without laughing your ass off, you've got a stronger constitution than I do.

It Does What It's Told or It Gets the Hose


So this morning, the Today show devoted six minutes of airtime to a story about a woman who was caught by a surveillance camera using one of those high-pressure car wash hoses on her young daughter.

The incident happened in Orlando, Florida -- because, well, of course -- and the mother has now turned herself in to police to face possible child abuse charges.

Although I don't mean to single out Today -- as I have no doubt that every other TV news organization in the country ran riot with the story as well -- this kind of thing really requires that one or two newsroom managers be publicly executed as a sort of shot across the bow to the media in general. The Bad Parent Caught on Camera story is second only to the Missing or Dead White Girl story (see today's co-ed murder memorial at UNC) in the pantheon of items that make ratings-hungry news directors cry tears of joy. It's really the easiest television there is -- a shifty little end-run around responsibility that basically deflects news judgment onto the audience: All a station or network has to do is play the tape and let viewers make up their own minds. Is what they're witnessing a crime? Is it much ado about nothing? Literally, we report, you decide.

The problem of course is two-fold. First, the fact that a good amount of airtime is devoted to a single piece of videotape automatically indicates to the audience that what it's seeing on the tape must be pretty distressing, otherwise why would trusted news professionals bother with it in the first place. Second, anchors and reporters can't simply let the thing run in a vacuum; they have to say something about it. And when there's even the slightest whiff of potential child abuse in the air, how do you think they're going to handle it?

Put it this way -- during this morning's six minute Today show segment, there was more contrived shock, horror, indignation and, oh yeah, irresponsible speculation than I've seen in one block of news in a long time.

Neither the anchor nor reporter could say with any certainty what the tape shows, only what it seems to show. Each assumed the worst and took it from there. For the record, the surveillance video clearly proves that the woman at the center of all this outrage sprayed her daughter down with a high-pressure hose which, on its highest setting, might cause serious damage (a fact illustrated, in somewhat comical fashion, by the reporter using the jet from the hose to tear apart what appeared to be a Subway sandwich). But here's the thing: Anybody who's ever been to a self-serve car wash knows that the low setting on one of these hoses yields no more pressure than your average garden hose. I'm not insinuating that spraying a child with even a mild shot of water is justifiable, but it's a far cry from the legal definition of abuse.

When you consider the fact that the young girl, the supposed victim, has been checked out by doctors and seems to have suffered no injuries whatsoever -- the stern posturing on national television of everyone from the local police, to a car wash clerk, to the Today show personalities themselves just reeks of bullshit theater.

A note to the Orange County DA's office: Do not pursue this case -- you'll lose.

I've actually mentioned this sort of thing before, highlighting what I think is the worst case of you-be-the-judge, caught-on-camera reporting I've ever seen.

Feel free to take a look.

(Career Suicide Blonde/7.12.07 )

I'm gonna go now though. Al Roker is sitting next to a glass case filled with live scorpions.

This could be good.

(Fox Orlando: Video Captures Car Wash Abuse of Child)

(Do yourself a favor and read the above link to laugh at journalistic irresponsibility as only a Fox affiliate can do it. Even the headline convicts the fucking woman, and the story itself has all sorts of unprovable assertions.)

Listening Post



Stevie Wonder = Genius

Stevie Wonder's 1973 album Innervisions = Masterpiece

Living for the City = Easily one of the top 100 singles ever.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Cynicist Manifesto: American Idol Edition


It's been awhile since I've done one of these, so I figured maybe it was time to once again run down a few random thoughts that don't merit a full post. The specific topic today: American Idol. For the most part, I've managed to avoid bringing up Fox's adamantium-hulled cultural juggernaut -- the one exception being last year's extended piece on the whole Sanjaya thing (One Little Indian/5.5.07). But like everyone else in the contiguous 48 right now, I can't help but be drawn in as this year's crop of innocent and fresh-faced gay strippers, internet porn stars, ex-professional singers and high school mattress-backs are molded, right before our eyes, into the ex-professional singers of tomorrow. And so now, some thoughts on this year's competition (a wholly owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola and Ford Motors).

Bet on Black

I'm going to get something out of the way right off the top and save the easily offended the trouble of reading any further: Are there any black girls who can't sing? That sound you hear is probably my inbox being flooded with hate mail; but really, aside from the shockingly self-confident 600-pound street trash the show invariably plays for laughs during the early "weeding out" stages of the competition, the black girls who make it to the final 24 are never just good -- they're spectacular. While I really hate to generalize, it almost seems unfair that these girls are somehow so damn talented; if you go strictly by vocal virtuosity, the only reason not to just hand a young black woman the prize right now would be the sudden decision to bring in one of Mitt Romney's kids to sing Our God is an Awesome God.

By the way, the fact that everyone pretty much expects a black girl to kick ass -- and admit it, you do -- is why her career will tank two days after winning. (See: Fantasia, Jordin Sparks)

Judge Dreads

Speaking of racially insensitive comments, would someone please tell the Jason Castro kid that he's white? It takes a hell of a lot of self-control on my part to keep any conversation about the White Dreadlocks phenomenon from turning into a fusillade of obscenities, but there's honestly nothing more ridiculous. Nothing. Look man, I get that you're rebelling against the corporate oppression of daily showers, but do you have any idea what those damn things smell like? Sprinkling patchouli all over your head doesn't make the stench go away, it just means you now smell like both a sewer rat's nest and patchouli. A good rule of thumb: When something works for Marley, it'll probably look really stupid on a white guy from Texas.

Oh yeah, and don't cover Cohen/Buckley again -- ever.

Straight Up and Dirty

Now it can be told: When Paula Abdul stopped by American Morning last year, chaos ensued. It wasn't because her legion of fans clamored for a chance to meet their favorite American Idol judge or because there were technical difficulties at CNN -- it was because Paula Abdul is fucking insane. Just before she was scheduled to be interviewed live on the air, Paula had one of her now-legendary freak-outs. She locked herself in a bathroom, where she could be heard crying and ranting, and had to be coaxed out at the very last minute by a team of handlers that may as well have been armed with a net and a tranq rifle. While Paula's (allegedly) drunken and (allegedly) drugged-up exploits are by now the stuff of legend, there's really no substitute for seeing her in her natural habitat -- live, on-air. It really is a magnificent sight. Every episode of Idol sends me reaching for my Retard-to-English dictionary, in an effort to translate Paula's cryptic gibberish. And that, my friends, is what the show is all about.

The Foreigner Belt

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the two big words written in neon above the stage are American Idol, right? There's already an Australian Idol competition and I'm sure there's an Irish Idol that involves a bunch of guys trying to see who can drink the most Guinness and still stand up after taking a barstool to the side of the head. So why is there a contestant from each of these two countries vying for the coveted Idol title here on U.S. soil? Is this what our brave men and women are fighting for on the other side of the world? Do they put their lives on the line so that foreigners can come over here, sing Heart's Crazy on You and be granted an audience with music legend Randy Jackson? Have we not learned the lessons of September the 11th, 2001?

I for one am disgusted.

Flame Out

What do you suppose the chances are that Danny Noriega will have turned David Archuleta by the end of the competition?

Spell Check

There's a great line in the movie Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang that has Robert Downey Jr. rightly deriding the tendency of women in Los Angeles to spell even the most common names in unusual ways. He says that if a woman's name is Jill, she'll spell it J-Y-L-L-E. Thankfully, the parents of this year's crop of female Idol meat apparently had the forethought to bestow upon their kids sufficiently unusual names long before feeding them to Hollywood. Over the past couple of weeks there's been Kady and Alexandréa and Syesha and Alaina and As'ia'a'h''' and Ramiele (who bears more than a passing resemblance, unfortunately, to Tila Tequila). On the guys' side meanwhile, there's of course the singularly named Chikezie (who bears more than a passing resemblance, unfortunately, to Gary Coleman).

Yeah I know, I'm one to talk about names -- but I don't live in L.A. anymore, so suck it.

The Cook is Rocking

Last year I wrote this:

"I've never been a fan of the way Simon, the drunk to his immediate right and the black guy from Journey tend to Breakfast Club the contestants -- sizing each one up in an instant and branding him or her with one of a handful of generic and recyclable designations. ('The Soulful One,' 'The Little One with the Big Voice,' 'The Modern One,' 'Justin Timberlake,' etc.)"

And no label is more irritating than "The Rocker." Every year, one contestant from each gender group is invariably pegged as that season's "Real Rocker." Last year it was Gina Glocksen -- who was admittedly bounced prematurely. The year before it was that preening idiot Chris Daughtry, who went on to prove that high school football fans in Texas and gas station attendants in Ocala, Florida hold a lot of sway over the playlists of Clear Channel America. This year, the state-sanctioned rock gods are David Cook and Amanda Overmyer. As it turns out, regardless of what you call them, they're two of the best contestants on the show. Somehow, each manages to ride the razor-thin line where having a healthy dose of musical integrity and being on a show like American Idol meet. Cook took a God-awful song like Lionel Richie's Hello and did astonishing things with it and also happens to look like his future after the show won't just involve offers to sing for Fuel; Overmyer moves like she's constipated, but she can sing like a motherfucker and it's obvious that she's uncomfortable with the whole Idol thing in the first place. They don't stand a chance of winning, but they represent the kind of musical soul that's usually sorely lacking on the show.

Remember kids, underachieving beatboxer Blake Lewis performs tonight on Idol!

Can't wait!


And now, just for the hell of it, a compendium of past Cynicist Manifesto entries.

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.

Keillorpalooza

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.

Bird-Brained

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 and John Coltrane die prematurely. Celine Dion 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."

KMEX

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.


K-Rap?

Like you, I could care less whether or not Kevin Federline lives to see tomorrow morning. Still, of all the vitriolic ridicule slung at K-Fed over the past year, at least one criticism has always left me a little confused: the notion that his music sucks. Don't get me wrong -- as anyone with ears would likely tell you, Federline's ego-fueled bluster laid overtop of the same monotonous, unimaginative beats displays not a single drop of noteworthy talent. Here's the thing though, the exact same thing can be said -- but strangely isn't -- about 90.7% of the illiterate troglodytes currently assaulting the masses on Urban Radio, MTV2's Sucker Free Sunday, and from the booming speakers of every idiot in a low-rider from here to the corner of Florence & Normandie.

I'm not talking about Mos Def, or Common, or Nas, or producers like Danger Mouse; I'm talking about dime-a-dozen self-parodies like Lil Boosie, Yung Joc and Chamillionaire -- guys whose names alone tell you everything you need to know about their complete lack of any discernable contribution to decent music.

Yet there are millions of supposed rap connoisseurs who draw some sort of distinction between the simplistic, bombastic buffoonery of Juvenile and the equally clownish verbal and visual molestation perpetrated by Federline. These people will invariably drag out impressive-sounding words like "flow," "cypher," and "technique" in their beat-down of K-Fed, as if most of what passes for hip-hop these days is a fine wine, whose intricate subtleties are to be gently pulled apart -- layer by precious layer -- and appreciated with the utmost respect for, and admiration of, craftsmanship.

Sure thing.

It doesn't take talent to be a borderline retard with a gold chain and the ability to rhyme two words. Say what you will about K-Fed -- he knows that.

Stop hatin'.


The Life of Your Child: Priceless

Mono-monickered singer Brandy gets into a car accident. Brandy kills a girl. Police aren't even done working out the potential charges to be filed against Brandy -- but guess where the family of the dead girl turns up almost immediately?

If you said, "Why, they're in civil court hoping to turn the death of their loved one into a fortuitous windfall by suing Brandy to the tune of fifty-million-dollars," hey, give yourself a gold star.

The real tragedy is that these people weren't in the car with their kid.


Another Fine Meth

It's no secret that America is basically one giant elementary school class where the teacher is always willing to punish everyone for the antics of one or two class clowns. Our society is expected to be politically correct, child-proofed, family-protected, health-conscious and sin-free -- usually at the imposition of government; always at the expense of anyone with a thimble-full of common sense.

You've already found yourself victimized by the lowest-common-denominator when it comes to fast-foods -- and you've probably noticed the same kind of chilling effect moving to the cold care aisle of your local drug store. The FDA now requires pharmacies to keep Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine-based decongestants behind the counter. That means that it can't be purchased after hours at all, and can't be purchased during business hours without identification, a signature, an authentication code, one of two security keys, the staff of Ra, the eyeball of a dead scientist at the end of a pen-knife to fool the retinal scanner, and Jack Bauer pointing a loaded gun at the clerk, screaming, "GIVE ME THE COLD MEDICATION!" If Drugstore Cowboy ever gets re-made, the Matt Dillon character is going to by-pass the Dilaudid and go right for the Claritin.

The reason for all this hysteria of course is that pseudoephedrine -- in astonishingly high quantities -- can be used to make meth, which as we know from government and media reports is the deadliest substance known to man and the force behind an epidemic which threatens the life of every man, woman and child in America. Your kid is on meth. Your mother is on meth. The lesbian lover your mother met during a psychotic meth binge is on meth. You may be on meth right now and not even know it -- it's that wily.

In an effort to make sure that the anti-meth paranoia doesn't hurt what's really important -- the bottom line -- pharmaceutical companies have begun replacing the pseudoephedrine in many decongestants with phenylephrine. It can't be used to make meth. It also doesn't work.

The end result is that -- as usual -- to stop one drug addict living in a trailer in the middle of Riverside, California, you'll be made to suffer through cold and flu season without a remedy that actually helps you to feel better.

But at least you'll be safe from that terrifying meth epidemic.

I'd say "Fuck you, FDA and drug companies," but I'm so goddamned congested it'll come out sounding like, "Fubk ou, FD (cough) ed dug cubpaddies (cough)."


Burn, Hollywood, Burn

It's one of the universe's most puzzling conundrums: HBO's Entourage bills itself as a comedy, and yet is never funny. Never. Like, not even once in awhile.

I'm not entirely sure who the core audience is for this show, but after much internal debate I think I can safely say that America's collective IQ could be raised substantially in a very short amount of time if these people were forced to register with the government for immediate relocation to offshore internment camps. It's simple conditional science really: if you watch Entourage because you think it's funny, you're either hopelessly deluded or just incredibly dumb -- since it's not -- and are therefore a prime candidate for the camps; if you watch Entourage because you're truly fascinated by the day-to-day triumphs and tragedies of four vapid, over-indulged and underworked assholes whose lives revolve around bedding girls you can't have, making money you'll never see, living a life you'll never live and buying $300 t-shirts at Fred Segal then discussing how they look in them -- once again, you're perfect material for the camps; if you watch because you'd like to in some way emulate the aforementioned assholes -- off to the camps; if you watch because you work in Hollywood and either hope you might see yourself on TV, or simply think that the life you lead is so goddamned amazing that, well, everybody wishes they could be a part of it, right? -- fuck the camps, you get a beating at the hands of ten Brooklyn teamsters who've been told that you're a gay athiest who raped a ten-year-old boy from the neighborhood.

Given that America is inundated with the idiotic real-life antics of young, spoiled Hollywood every day from every conceivable media outlet -- why the hell would anyone possibly choose to suffer through an unfunny TV comedy about said same?

Hug this out, bitch.

Busted Moves

Can Hollywood please declare a moratorium on dance movies?

Between Dirty Dancing and the Forbidden Dance and Saving the Last Dance and Stomping the Goddamned Yard and Breakin' and Taking the Lead and being on Center Stage and Your Getting Served -- there's nothing more ridiculous than an entire movie focusing on bunch of dreamers who adhere to the moronic assumption that music is only worthwhile if you can shake your ass to it.

Seriously -- go listen to Black Flag and set something on fire, okay?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A note to all managers -- no matter your particular profession: please refrain from ever attempting to correct an employee's work by looking at him or her in a condescending manner and uttering the words, "Well, don't you think it would work better if..." The only proper response to this -- besides a vicious beating in the face with a boot -- is to say, "No you fucking idiot -- if I thought it worked better that way, I obviously would've done that from the beginning."

Pissed-Off

There is no clearer or more insulting proof of management's complete lack of faith in you as an employee than the presence of self-flushing toilets in your office bathroom.

Pull the Plug

There is no worse idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas than the following two words: "Korn: Unplugged."

Nom de Douche

Never trust anyone with three first names. Ever.

Hey, Denny's Actually IS Racist

I miss Sambo's restaurants. The place got a bad rap because of the name. I'd knock a few years off my life just for one more bite of their kick-ass French Toast.

Sixx Sixx Sixx

Mitt Romey is the Anti-Christ. Tell me he doesn't look like Damien Thorn in The Final Conflict. Plus, he has a son named Tagg -- which leaves me wondering if he didn't name his other kids Hitt, Buntt, Runn and Free-Agentt.

Save the Date

Match.com is now offering six free months of service to any subscriber who hasn't found a compatible partner within an allotted time period. This is worthless; they should pay for someone to come to your house and perform oral sex on you.

Smelling Assaults

"Secret" anti-perspirant/deodorant is advertising a "clinical strength formula" version of its product. If you feel that you require this level of wetness and odor protection, please do the world a favor and don't ever leave your fucking house.

Fortune Favors the Fool

Supposedly, one of the most popular shows on Iraqi TV right now features a fortune teller who claims to be able to predict the future of those who call in. Exactly how hard can this be? "Tomorrow, you're gonna be blown to pieces -- thanks for calling."

Maternity War

Does every woman in America have a long-running dysfunctional relationship with her mother? If not, for Christ's sake, why do all chick-flicks not falling into the "implausibly fairy-taleish romantic comedy" category seem to deal with adult women coming to terms with the latent resentment of their mothers for the lifetime of insecurity the elders instilled in the younger? There are millions of men out there still nursing physical and mental scars inflicted upon them by their fathers -- you don't see them bitching about it and longing to revisit the trauma while curled up on the couch with a box of Kleenex.

Buck up ladies.