Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Sure the "G" in GOP Stands for "Grand?"

"It's interesting that people say the right has taken over the Republican Party -- but no one can say what we've done. We've been closeted for the last eight years. It's time for the right to come out of the closet."

-- Radio talk show host Michael Reagan, indirectly warning America of the coming shortage of pleather pants and vests at Wal Mart

Strange Days

As usual, Cesca hits it right on the head in comparing 100 days of Obama calm and competence to 100 days of right wing insanity.

The Huffington Post: "100 Days of Competence vs. Crazy" by Bob Cesca/4.30.09

Swagga Please

I swear, every day the supposedly legitimate news and The Daily Show become more and more interchanagable.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the wrong nigga to fuck wit': Kyra Phillips.

It doesn't get much more embarrassing than this.

The Huffington Post: CNN Discusses Obama's "Swagga," Krya Phillips Asks for Fist Bump on Live Television/4.30.09

Related to the above story, now might be a good time to resurrect this piece from 2007:

"Ripped from the Headlines" (Originally Published, 2.20.07)

My first reaction was to laugh out loud.

It seemed the most honest and appropriate response, given that it's what I would've done had I been sitting in my living room instead of my place of work. Had I been curled up on my couch in front of the television, like everyone else in America, I would've cracked up as Jon Stewart's face contorted into an expression that conveyed confusion, disbelief and derision in equal parts. I would've joined in the roaring laughter of the audience, as Stewart and The Daily Show's staff of writers once again aimed their acuminous wit in the direction of the television news media -- in particular, an on-air moment so unintentionally comical that it just cried out to be made fun of. I would've no doubt taken secret satisfaction in a fake news show again holding a legitimate news show up to public ridicule, and in doing so proving itself to be the more respectable of the two.

I would've loved every second of it. So did it really make any difference that the person they were making fun of was me?

I've always heard it said that you're not anybody in this business until you've been fired at least once. Granted, if this axiom holds true then I'm the most powerful man in television news, but these days I'm pretty sure one's relevance -- journalistic, cultural or otherwise -- can actually be measured by whether or not he or she has been ripped apart on The Daily Show. Many in the media now consider it a badge of honor to find themselves in Jon Stewart's comedic crosshairs; all but the most humorless reactionaries (basically Bill O'Reilly) at the very least accept such a possibility as an occupational hazard. Still, when you actually find your work, your words -- to say nothing of your face -- up there on the chopping block, it's a little like being back in elementary school and finding yourself in the awkward position of having to either laugh along with everyone else at the fact that your pants just split up the back, or risk looking incredibly stupid.

So I laughed.

I sat at my desk and watched the clip of the preceding night's Daily Show, and giggled my ass off, even leaning back in my chair and raising both fists above my head in a little display of triumph. I had hit the big time. For a brief moment, even though the cool kids were making fun of me, I felt like one of them. There was solidarity in the fact that we both found the same person ridiculous: me.

And then of course, the initial commotion died down and I took some time to think about it. You might say I went through the Kubler-Ross stages of nervous self-consciousness.

Something probably worth mentioning: I'm many awful things, but I don't believe a hypocrite to be one of them. I have thick skin and I'm almost impossible to offend. I hold no sacred cows that immediately come to mind and have always believed wholeheartedly that anything can be poked fun at -- anything. What's funny is funny -- no matter how tasteless or presumably offensive it may be to the sensibilities of polite society or anyone else for that matter. As the t-shirt once proclaimed: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

It would be flat-out wrong to say that at any point since first hearing the words that I'd written and seeing the story that I'd produced turned into a punchline have I been pissed off about it. I essentially gave my superiors exactly what they asked for -- knowing full well that it wouldn't be the finest hour for myself or the anchor charged with reading the story (the anchor whose actual face would eventually wind up on the Daily Show, while I alone would bear the burden of knowing my particular role in such an indiscretion). That said, I accept that what I wrote -- the exact words that Jon Stewart thought hysterical enough to warrant time on his show -- were indeed so painfully awful that I cringed as I wrote them. The entire story was a stupid idea -- a journalistic "reach" of caricaturish proportions. Put simply, the work I put my name on, whether I agreed with the assignment or not, deserved to be ripped.

And that's the problem.

Journalists, like everyone else, make mistakes. They screw up. There are blooper reels lining the file rooms of every news department in America, and most of them are a riot. But The Daily Show rarely points out those moments which happen by accident -- that's because it doesn't have to. These days, even in the product of the most respected and venerated media outlets in the country, there are entire swaths of outright absurdity -- intended absurdity. The hard work which journalists aren't simply paid for, but likewise are expected to hold in high esteem and to a standard of excellence befitting their incredible responsibility is instead tainted from conception. It's allowed to be a bad joke from the get-go; the one forced to bring it to fruition risking a quiet embarrassment; the one whose face presents it, risking public mockery.

Jon Stewart ripped my work, and it was damn funny, but also a little sad. When it comes to making fun of the news media, The Daily Show has too much material to work with these days -- and that's not the show's fault.

It's ours.

Comment of the Week

It's been a long time since I took a few minutes to highlight the sage words of a specific visitor to this site, but I felt I just couldn't let this one remain tucked away in the darkness of the comment section.

Everybody, give a warm welcome to Justyna:

"If today we watch movies to find out the truth instead of studying the Bible, I suggest go watch the movie Knowing* and think outside of the box.

Jesus never had kids. Don't know if that was a joke (?). People distort the word of God in every possible way, internet, discovery channel, wikipedia, your own belief, or the 850 Christian denominations, all unreliable to that dusty book in your hotel room.

Obviously, the best source is still the bestseller book written by prophets and people who walked with Jesus. Actually God already said he’d come in the flesh in the Old Testament [Isaiah 9:6] 'For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'

Jesus of Nazareth came to fulfill this prophecy, was called ringleader of the Nazarene sect, and he resurrected on Sunday, 3 days after his crucifixion.

[John 2:19] Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.'
The Jews replied, 'it has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body.'

[Mark 16:1] "When the Sabbath was over...Very early on the first day of the week...When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week"

The 4th Commandment? 'Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy...the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God'

So why do so many Churches worship on Sunday, the first day of the week?

We must study the Bible correctly with spiritual eyes before calling it null and void. God reminds us to keep the law of new covenant, but Satan leads the world astray like a wolf in sheep’s clothing....i.e.: Jesus came with the new covenant Passover through his body and blood so we may live (does that say Communion?). Did he break bread or easter eggs? If God said Tuesday is recycling day, then Tuesday is recycling day.

Jesus said in his first coming: [John 14:26] 'All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you.'
Reread Isaiah and put it together. I invite anyone who is interested to study. That way we can understand God’s master plan and not repeat the same mistake made 2,000 years ago, rejecting Christ."

That was posted in response to the "Tuesday is Recycling Day" piece on James Cameron from the other day. Then there's this one, also from Justyna, written in response to yesterday's Jesus license plate story:

"This picture, 3 screws joke, and all of your comments make me see why the Lord will lay waste to the earth. Sun-worship is the devil's oldest tactic. Don't fall for it, there's nothing cheery when everything is revealed."

Now I'm not going to go too hard on Justyna, since A) I've met her and she's very nice, and B) she's a 23-year-old Christian living in Brooklyn -- which should in theory make her the loneliest person in the world. Also worth mentioning is that she's a spectacular artist -- which would make her comments seem like the work of an excellent satirist, were it not for the fact that I know they're completely sincere.

Regardless, this does shine a bright light on one of my oh-so-favorite qualities of those who count themselves among the Warriors for Christ: their propensity for preaching even to those who don't want to be preached to. Put another way: I don't believe in the Christian God or faith-based religion in general, but I don't troll Christian websites, arguing with the beliefs of their hosts and trying to convince them that they're wrong. Debate is one thing; proselytizing is something entirely different. I don't usually see a need to do either -- certainly not on someone else's internet property. It would be the equivalent of me walking into your home and arguing with you over your personal views; it's rude and anyone with a lick of good manners or common sense wouldn't do it. And yet, many True Believers don't see it that way; they have no compunction about knocking on your door -- or leaving long, rambling comments on your website -- and witnessing to you. Non-believers don't pull that sort of crap simply because the lack of belief is exactly what it sounds like: a negative state -- a default setting. It's nothing that needs to be shouted from the rooftops any more than breathing air would be.

I'm not saying that Justyna's unjustified in her comments, since it's not as if they're coming from a complete stranger (to me anyway), but that's not really the point.

It takes balls of steel to approach someone unsolicited and tell him or her that hell awaits those who don't believe in Jesus, then begin spouting scripture. And yet that's what millions of Christians -- particularly of the Southern Baptist, Evangelical variety -- do all the time. They do it because they honestly think God commands it (although it's worth mentioning that there's a word for someone who really believes he or she is personally getting instructions from God).

Speaking of which, if God said Tuesday is Recycling Day -- and that's something I came up with for this site, does that mean I'm God?

Oh, you fuckers are in so much trouble.

Anyway, welcome to the fold, Justyna. Good to have you.

*Really? You find religious inspiration in a Nic Cage movie? That worries me, honey.

Listening Post

It's unintentionally become girl-fronted bands week around here.

Anyone who's followed this site long enough knows of my love for an under-the-radar Los Angeles band called the Start. Their debut album, Shakedown, released back in 2001, still gets a lot of play on my iPod; it's one of the most infectious neo-80s pop-rock records you'll likely ever hear. Truly good stuff.

Well, as it turns out, three of the members of the Start -- including lead singer Aimee Echo -- have started a side project called Normandie. And they're not just a damn good band; the early demos they've made available are by and large better than the last Start record.

They're not for sale yet anywhere, but hopefully will be soon. For now, you can hear four songs from Normandie on their MySpace profile here.

And even though I've posted this video once before, I can never get enough of this song -- since it's the one that made me run screaming to anyone who would listen about the Start.

Here's Gorgeous.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nine Months

As of today, Inara's officially been out of the womb longer than she was in it.

100 Days of Turpitude

President Obama's first hundred days in office, as seen through the wild eyes of Fox News -- one day at a time.

You don't really appreciate the depth of the near-psychotic derangement until you see it like this.

Suffer the Children

There's just nothing like the pitter-patter of little hooves around the house.

Ace Showbiz: Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick Expecting Twins/4.29.09

Jesus H. Chrysler

Ah, Florida -- where intelligence, like everything else, goes to die.

St. Petersburg Times: Florida Senate Approves Jesus License Plate/4.25.09

You know what'd be great? If it only took three screws to attach it to your car.

Quote of the Week

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under Democrat President Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it is an interesting coincidence."

-- Michele Bachmann, attempting to think and unwittingly digging that hole just a little bit deeper

(h/t Cesca)

Listening Post

Most of America knows this from the Lincoln commercial it's currently being used in.

Regardless, it's a good cover of what was always a really silly song.

Here's Shiny Toy Guns doing Peter Shilling's 1983 hit Major Tom.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Penn Slight

It's now official: The GOP as we currently know it -- with all its misguided Limbaugh and Beck-led lunacy, outlandish conspiracy theories, frightening unfocused rage, and complete loss of touch with reality -- has pretty much imploded.

It's less a vital political party right now than it is a fringe element.

The Huffington Post: Arlen Specter Switches Parties, Republican Leader Calls It "A Threat To the Country"/4.28.08

The Washington Post: New Poll Puts Number of Americans Identifying Themselves as Republican at 21%/4.24.09

Pretty Persuasion

I'll make this quick -- mostly because I've tried my damndest to avoid talking about this subject at all but, astonishingly, it refuses to die the news cycle death it so richly deserves.

No, of course Carrie Prejean, AKA Miss California, shouldn't apologize for her remarks about gay marriage, as some are still insisting she do.

By now you know the story, so I'll do you the favor of not rehashing it. Suffice it to say, being painfully stupid isn't a crime; if it were, that shameless little turd Perez Hilton would this very moment be on the business end of a shower rape in a Supermax facility somewhere, rather than milking this "controversy" for all it's worth in an effort to extend his inexplicable 15 minutes of nano-riety. On the contrary, I actually think it's kind of refreshing that Prejean answered the inarguably loaded question about same-sex marriage honestly, rather than trying to duck it or, worse, cobbling together an innocuous response that was short on anything resembling an actual opinion. (Although, to be fair to anyone not dumber than a sack of gravel, as Prejean seems to be, I'm not sure she knew she was taking an actual position while she was doing it.)

Speaking of which, is anyone surprised that Prejean -- like Sarah Palin, and, I don't know, maybe Forrest Gump, before her -- has suddenly become an inadvertent icon of the religious right? She has all the makings of the next martyr for their cause: She's cute in a harmless sort of way, not very bright; she unquestioningly embraces mildly ignorant values and pisses off the elitist liberal element in the process, simply by nature of the status she's achieved through no real work or talent. Hell, I'd be shocked if someone hasn't already printed up "Palin-Prejean 2012" stickers, which will soon begin popping up on the bumper of every pick-up blasting Big & Rich from Orlando to Ojai.

The bottom line here is that Carrie Prejean's views on gay marriage may be less than cosmopolitan, but they're her views. The last time I checked, people didn't have to apologize for their opinions, and anyone who thinks otherwise in this case is guilty of the kind of draconian political correctness the left is often accused of trying to enforce. I wouldn't call Prejean's remarks "intolerant," but even if they were -- so what? Doesn't the entire concept of tolerance naturally imply a certain amount of magnanimity toward the intolerant?

Besides, would another one of those ridiculous, Burson-Marsteller-approved forced apologies -- which by their very nature aren't apologies at all -- really satisfy anyone screaming for Prejean's pretty little head?

And don't answer that like a beauty pageant contestant.

Tuned Out

This is my favorite thing on YouTube right now -- mostly because I can't stand the abuse of Auto-Tune by today's music producers and recording artists.

Here's proof that it can even make Katie Couric into a pop star.

Panic Boom

"The indication is that we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus that is the most virulent form of the flu. In 1918 a half million Americans died. The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans in 1976."

-- F. David Matthews, secretary of health, education, and welfare talking about the Swine Flu in February of 1976 (and unwittingly reminding Americans 33 years later to keep things in perspective)

Tuesday is Recycling Day

"I'm the King of the Jews!" (Originally Published, 2.27.07)

Renowned megalomaniac James Cameron -- director of Titanic and Piranha 2: The Spawning -- has now figured out a way to irritate not only everyone on this plane of existence but apparently the next as well. He claims that his new documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, reveals just that: the final resting place of Jesus Christ.

The Discovery Channel special details an archaeological dig in Jerusalem which stumbled upon a sepulcher containing ten stone burial boxes. The ancient caskets bear the names of Jesus, an immediate family (possibly brothers and sisters), Mary (presumably, the "Magdalene" variety) and, most startling, what could be the offspring of Jesus. If any of these relics were to be proven legitimate, they would render the basic tenet of the Christian faith essentially null and void -- as well as leave open the possibility that Jesus's brother could very easily have been a guy named "Jeff of Nazareth" whose main claim to fame was his ability to turn water into wine coolers.

It goes without saying that religious "scholars" are now falling all over themselves to debunk the find and disparage its proponents.

And that's where things get interesting.

Christopher Hitchens may be a surly, drunk son-of-a-bitch, but there's a great quote from him that's worth keeping in mind right about now: "That which can be asserted without evidence can be disproved without evidence." When applied to this specific case, the suggestion is painfully obvious: whether or not the tomb of Jesus has truly been found is irrelevant; it's not needed to disprove a belief system that has no evidence backing it up. When it comes to disputing the spectacular convictions of the faithful, it's just as easy to say, "that's irrational nonsense" and be done with it, as it is to go digging for contradictory evidence. The other side of that coin, unfortunately, is that a belief buttressed by nothing but wishful thinking is immune to the typically persuasive powers of contradictory evidence anyway. You just can't argue with someone whose primary justification is "because the Bible says so."

So why aren't the faithful skeptics employing this bulletproof "argument" in their attempts to discredit the discovery in Jerusalem? The answer is not only simple -- it's a delicious tip of the cards from a group which portrays itself as ready, willing and able to consistently rely on faith and faith alone.

The truth? They know that faith isn't enough -- that at some point a concession to reason is imperative.

The solution? They attempt to apply logic to claims which have no basis in reality -- to argue their points as if they were backed by accepted and irrefutable evidence.

The result? Well, it's damn funny.

Case in point: the quote of the day. Father David O'Connell of the oxymoronically-named Catholic University voiced his considerable doubt as to the veracity of Cameron's claim with this simple bit of common sense:

"Jesus of history is often referred to as 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Joseph the father was from Nazareth. Why would they be buried in Jerusalem? It doesn't make sense."

In case you missed that home run of irony, let's recap: A man who believes that the son of a supreme being was born on earth of a virgin, rose from the dead three days after being executed and ascended into the firmament to be with the benevolent father who allowed him to be executed in the first place and who takes an interest in the day-to-day existence of every man, woman and child on the planet, so much so that he's keeping a personal tally to help him decide where we'll spend eternity after we die -- this guy says that being buried sixty miles away from your hometown doesn't make sense.

I've met people like Father O'Connell. They're the ones who sit through movies in which alien invaders spend two hours decimating the earth with giant spaceships, sucking human blood out of their victims and spreading it across the landscape -- and then feel compelled to comment incredulously, "Oh that's impossible!" at the fact that the aliens are finally done in by bacteria.

Jesus was known as "Jesus of Nazareth." Joseph was the father of Jesus. How do we know this? The Bible tells us. How do we know the Bible can be trusted? Because it says it can.

If there's a better example of perfectly circular reasoning I'm unaware of it.

Just as entertaining (as well as enlightening, if such a word can be used in this context) is a widely-circulated press release from the Christian Newswire entitled, "Bible Scholars: Ten Reasons Why Jesus Tomb Claim is Bogus." Among its supposedly unassailable points -- presented with a tone of arrogance and condescension typically (and falsely) attributed to those who advocate scientific fact over ancient superstition:

"There is no historical evidence that Jesus was ever married or had a child."

"The earliest followers of Jesus never called him 'Jesus, Son of Joseph.'"
(as was inscribed on the stone casket)

"There is no DNA evidence that this is the historical Jesus of Nazareth."

And my personal favorite:

"The statistical analysis is untrustworthy."

I won't bother pointing out, once again, the laughable irony of that last statement. You do have to marvel though at the brilliant penultimate introduction of the DNA straw man -- it serves the purpose of hanging those know-it-all scientists with their own rope while cleverly tying it into one big Gordian knot of zero-sum argumentation: There will likely never be DNA samples of Jesus, which means it can never be proven that Jesus was merely human and not divine; which means that it can never be proven that Jesus existed at all. Each side gets to go about its merry way, safe in the knowledge that is has technically neither won nor lost the debate.

So, after taking the case into careful consideration and weighing all the relevant "evidence," what singular conclusion can be drawn, according to the enlightened authors of the ten-point plan?

"In light of all the incredible number of problems with the recent claim that Jesus' (sic) grave has been found, the time-honored, multi-faceted evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus is more convincing than ever."

Well, of course it is. That just makes sense.

I'm reminded of something I saw years ago -- a hilarious and thoroughly disturbing cult documentary called Mondo Elvis. For two hours, it chronicled a brand of delusional lunacy that was unlike anything I had seen before (but unfortunately have witnessed in person since). Its central focus: the small but ferocious segment of the American population that remains obsessed with Elvis Presley. It takes no insight or ingenuity to recognize the analogous relationship between the single-minded insanity on display in Mondo Elvis, and the occasionally ludicrous behavior of those adhering to the demands of a faith-based religion. Each has a central figure of worship who's been afforded mythic, sometimes supernatural qualities. Each requires unquestioning loyalty. Each casts the utterly irrational as commonly accepted fact. Each has a cadre of acolytes who honestly think that they're sane, reasonable people -- in spite of an overriding belief system which is on par with that of your average schizophrenic.

The most memorable, unnerving moment in the movie comes about half-way through. A middle-aged, skeletal nightmare with bleach-blond hair, Appalachian bridge-work and a cigarette that's been smoked down to solid ash twists and twitches uncomfortably in a decrepit recliner which sits against a paneled wall inside her trailer. With menacing intensity, she pushes her focus directly into the camera and proclaims her own personal mystery of faith. Although to her, there's no faith; there's only fact. And the "mystery" is nothing less than the identity of the man who gave her life.

Her belief: Elvis is her father.

Her rationale for this seemingly dubious deduction: Her mother never told her that Elvis wasn't her father.

She has no proof, but she has plenty of faith -- and a technically bulletproof argument -- and that's enough for her to continue her fantasy.

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be disproved without evidence."

I doubt we'll see any proof that James Cameron, or anyone else, has found the actual tomb of Jesus Christ. Then again, I doubt we'll see any proof that Jesus Christ as described in the Bible ever existed in the first place.

But as long as no one can prove he didn't exist, that will be enough for the faithful to continue their fantasy.

Listening Post

It's like I've died and gone to musical heaven.

Here's John Doe doing the Replacements classic Here Comes a Regular.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Douchebag Apocalypse

This is not photoshopped.

Read about it here, and by all means take a shot at doing what I couldn't because as soon as I saw this my brain melted and ran out of my ears: caption this bitch.

Related: That Stupid Year: The Ten Most Ridiculous, Shameful or Generally Unfortunate People and Events of 2008/1.5.09

The End of the Road

For whatever reason, my family's always had a thing for Pontiacs.

When I was a kid, my mother drove a Grand Prix which, in one of my earliest memories, was stolen from a mall parking lot in Miami. She's gone through several updated models of the same car since and continues to drive one to this day. When I was 17, I drove a Pontiac Fiero GT -- a long since discontinued quasi-roadster that was essentially two seats, a V6 engine and not much else. It remains probably my favorite of all the cars I've owned in my lifetime, and not simply because of the obvious nostalgia attached to it. The damn thing was just a blast to drive.

These days, with the exception of the Solstice, most Pontiacs look alike and don't offer much in the way of the visceral thrill that, say, the GTO or the Trans Am once did. Still, it's sad to see the entire brand go, maybe because there is so much American mythology behind it.

The demise of Pontiac also sends an ominous and undeniable message about the state of our economy and what it means for all of us: Not even history can trump the absolute authority of the bottom line right now.

The Wall Street Journal: GM to Cut 21,000 Hourly Jobs, Eliminate Pontiac Brand/4.27.09

Swine and Cheese

All this public service ad is missing is a shot of Steve Rubell standing outside Studio 54 saying, "Swine flu? That'd never get in here!" while Halston does a line of blow off his penis.

Now If Only There was a Vaccine for Stupid

If you picked "8 days" in the over-under pool for how long it would take Texas Governor Rick Perry to run screaming to the federal government for help after bombastically declaring that his state should secede from the union, congratulations -- you win.

Wonkette: Rick Perry Begs Feds for Thousands of Doses of Tamiflu/4.25.09

Listening Post

As electro-pop records go, you can't get much better than the new Metric release, Fantasies.

Here's its first single and a great way to start your Monday -- Gimme Sympathy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Live to Tell

Three years ago this past week, I underwent surgery to have a tumor the size of a pinball removed from my brain.

Considering some of the painful upheaval going on in my life right now, I figure it's kind of important to keep what happened to me just a few short years ago in mind as a means of putting everything in perspective.

In the end, it's good to be alive.

Where Is My Mind? (Part 1)/10.12.06

Where Is My Mind? (Part 2)/12.26.06

Quote(s) of the Week (Early Contender)

"The WAR wWIL start on the stepes of the Oklahoma State Capitol. I will cast the first stone. In the meantime, I await the police."

"START THE KILLING NOW! I am wiling to be the FIRST DEATH! I Await the police. They will kill me in my home."

"After I am killed on the Capitol Steps like REAL man, the rest of you will REMEMBER ME!!!"

"Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the(m) on the State Capitol steps."

-- Twitter posts from 52 year old Daniel Knight Hayden of Oklahoma, who was subsequently and wisely arrested for transmitting threats of politically motivated violence over the internet (the rants were Twittered in advance of the April 15th, Fox News-led "Tea Party" protest at Oklahoma's capitol building)

Related: DXM: Revolutionary Goad/4.7.09

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

From 1945, it's Tom and Jerry in Tee for Two.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Auto Reply: Out of Office

I'm starting my weekend early.

Hold my calls.

Listening Post

Conventional wisdom holds that Nirvana's Nevermind was the best album of the 90s. I've never agreed with this; I always thought that if any record deserved that title it was Radiohead's OK Computer, which held up far better over time.

That said, last night I picked up the new Legacy Edition of Pearl Jam's stunning 1991 debut, Ten, featuring an updated mix of the record by Brendan O'Brien, and you know something? It affected me the same way it did the first time I heard it. The thing is simply a fucking masterpiece. It's painful and chilling and ferocious and lovely and powerful and heartbreaking and earnest and hopeful. It reminded me of what it was like to be young, in the best possible way -- maybe because no one makes music like that anymore.

Listening to it left me believing that there was no question that it was and is the best album of the 90s.

Here's a live performance of Jeremy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heaven and Head

Via Andrew Sullivan, the admirably honest logo for the Catholic Church's Archdiocesan Youth Commission, circa 1973.

Hey, don't say they didn't warn us what was going on.

In Bloom

Writer-Director Rian Johnson's debut film, Brick, was a work of creative genius. Audaciously clever and wonderfully original, it took a dubious premise -- a Dashiell Hammett-esque detective story, complete with the appropriately impenetrable lingo, set in a modern high school -- and somehow turned it into pure, quirky magic. It completely upended the noir genre and marked both Johnson and the movie's star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as true voices of independent film.

Which is why I've been patiently awaiting the release of Johnson's new movie, which hits theaters next month.

The Brothers Bloom stars Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz. It's a dark comedy (although seemingly not as pitch black as Brick) about two con men who try to rip off an eccentric millionairess. Johnson has just made the movie's opening sequence available for viewing on Hulu, and it looks like it's not going to disappoint.

Take a look, and if you haven't seen it yet -- rent Brick immediately.

Hulu: The Brothers Bloom, Opening Sequence

Infant Sorrow

Strangely, the "Pimp Slap that Ho" app is still available.

The Washington Post: Apple Removes iPhone "Baby Shaker" App After Complaints/4.22.09

America, Fuck Yeah!

I used to work closely with Shepard Smith in Miami. I played poker with him regularly in L.A. and drank with him more times than I care to remember (or even can). He's a friend, a really good guy, and pretty much the singular voice of reason at Fox News Channel -- which makes this moment all the more sweet.

This is by far the Quote of the Week:

"We are America! We do not fucking torture! We don't do it! ... Oops."

Listening Post

There's no such thing as too much Shirley Manson.

Here's Garbage's Vow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unpopular Science

Believe it or not, of all the reprehensible, corrupt and unprincipled acts perpetrated by the Bush Administration, its staggeringly audacious battle against science always struck me as the most insidious. I mean, as disgusting and intellectually dishonest as it is to argue semantics when it comes to what does and doesn't constitute torture -- and as much as Bush himself is almost inarguably guilty of lying through his teeth about what this country was up to -- at least the subject can legitimately be debated.

On the other hand, the Bush White House's seemingly bottomless reservoir of distrust, obfuscation, parlor trickery and outright horseshit when it came to its treatment of science and intellectualism still boggles the mind. I doubt that ever before in human history was there such a pointed correlation between the quality of scientific work being done and the amount of doubt in that work being sown by a supposedly enlightened and civilized bureaucracy. From stem cell research, to global climate change, to evolution, to birth control, proven fact was regularly demonized or simply ignored when it didn't support firmly held right-wing dogma. What's worse, scientific advancements were often unfairly questioned or halted altogether simply to appease a voting bloc whose belief system was rooted solely in the teachings of a 2,000 year old book. Faith trumped reason constantly -- so often in fact that it became a kind of global punchline that, in the United States, you could argue that two plus two no longer equaled four and people would actually listen. A fierce intellect wasn't something to strive for; it was something to distrust -- or worse, to ridicule.

So where do we go from here?

How do we rebuild this country's scientific foundation after eight years of scorched earth?

Read on, and hope that President Obama is listening.

Mother Jones: Return of the Geeks (From October of Last Year, h/t Elvis Dingeldein at GDAB)


DXM: Six of Dumb, Half Dozen of Dumber/10.2.08

DXM: He Blinded Me Without Science/8.12.08

Torture (Echo) Chamber

I hate to make excuses, but I've been a little busy lately and therefore haven't bothered trying to delve into the Torture Memos issue.

Luckily, I can outsource the whole thing to The Daily Show, who, as usual, hits it out of the park on every point.

Quote of the Week

"Howard must be delusional if he thinks Vatican officials are going to like his propaganda -- they denied him the right to film on their grounds. Moreover, we know from a Canadian priest who hung out with Howard's crew last summer in Rome -- dressed in civilian clothes -- just how much they hate Catholicism. It's time to stop the lies and come clean."

-- Catholic League sanctimonious spokesturd and go-to guy for news bookers looking for someone sure to say something "controversial" on television William Donohue, appearing like clockwork to denounce Ron Howard's Angels and Demons, thereby elevating the movie's profile even further in the public consciousness

Related: DXM: Sunday Sacrilege: I Want the Catholic Church to Hate Me More than Bill Maher/4.20.08

(Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks it's hilarious that a guy who vehemently defends the Catholic Church's nonsensical belief system has the balls to call somebody else "delusional?")

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: 2,436,700

You're Gonna Love My...

Listening Post

A really catchy song, a quirkily cute lead singer, and a video that pays tribute to Rushmore. What could be better?

Here's Company of Thieves, with Oscar Wilde.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Altar Boy

This is equal parts surreal, terrifying, and flat out hilarious. Not only does it pretty much sum up the ridiculousness of the Evangelical movement in general -- as Cesca says, this kid could be just about any right wing radio, cable or internet howler right about now.

I honestly challenge you to watch this without your eyes widening and your mouth involuntarily hanging open.

Tuesday is Recycling Day

"There's No 'I' in Oprah" (Originally Published, 10.25.06)


From the Law Offices of Jeremy, Jameson, North and Hartley

Beverly Hills, California

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

RE: Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Inc. Copyright and Trademark Rulings

We are pleased to report that as of 9:00am PDT this morning, the proposed copyright and trademark implementation initiated on behalf of our client has been ruled official and legally binding (O. Winfrey Petition, Case #0598672, CA Superior Court/Part 53). As discussed, being that a favorable designation from the client (or authorized association with the client) carries with it certain benefits -- both social and financial -- and said designation lends the recipient an unparalleled level of legitimacy with a vast market which would otherwise be untapped by the recipient, from this point forward the following is true: said recipients of this "hallowed blessing" (the official term to be used forthwith) will be considered the intellectual and industrial property of the client and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harpo Inc.

The current breakdown -- which can and will be adjusted for time, favored status and general rises to and falls from grace -- is as follows:

Oprah's Friend Gayle(c)(tm) // Gayle King, who for some time has been familiar to the general public strictly by the designation "Oprah's Friend Gayle" will now be known by that name and only that name, both professionally and personally. This will replace any previous moniker which may have been applied to her -- including but not limited to: "Oprah's Girlfriend Gayle," "Oprah's Lesbian Lover Gayle," "That Bitch Who Looks Like Whitney Houston Fresh Out of Rehab," "The Sycophant," and "Who?"

Note: if at any time the client chooses to admit the truth about her sexuality, Oprah's Friend Gayle's(c)(tm) name will immediately and legally become "Gayle, the Woman Who Makes it Okay for You to Admit that You're a Lesbian and Leave Behind Your Family and Constricting Life in Suburbia, Girlfriend(c)(tm)."

Oprah's Favorite Chef(c)(tm) // Henceforth, this copyrighted and trademarked label will be applied to the woman formerly known as Rachael Ray and will be exclusively used by her in all professional and personal interactions. It has been brought to this firm and its client's attention that the beneficiary of this hallowed blessing recently began taping a talk show which bears her erstwhile moniker. As a concession, the client will allow the name of the show to be changed to "The Rachael Ray Show, Which Owes its Entire Existence to the Good Nature of Oprah and the Fact that Miss Ray is, in Fact, Oprah's Favorite Chef." It is also the client's wish that Oprah's Favorite Chef(c)(tm) be reminded by this firm that her contract remains legally binding and that the client is under no obligation to return her soul.

Oprah's Designer(c)(tm) // From this point forward -- as a matter of simplification -- the designer who most recently has been known to the general public as "Nate Berkus, Oprah's Designer" will relinquish the proper-name portion of that title, as it barely matters anyway. Oprah's Designer(c)(tm) will also agree to be addressed simply as "Girlfriend" by the client for the remainder of his existence or until the client tires of his bold use of Feng Shui, whichever comes first.

Barack Obama, Oprah's Candidate(c)(tm) // The client acknowledges the unfortunate necessity for the future presidential contender currently known as Barack Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, to retain his proper name. However, the client wishes for this firm to remind the Senator -- upon his inevitable election -- to whom he owes his political fortunes. The client expects an appointment to a cabinet post in the Obama administration befitting her role in his incredible appeal to middle-class soccer moms across the country; it is her wish that she be granted the post of Secretary of State or higher, as this rise to power will be necessary to facilitate the coming of the Christ-Child and the client's eventual war with the Nazarene.

He Who Has No Name // Henceforth, the author and blasphemer formerly known as James Frey shall cease to exist in a figurative sense and shall be banished from public consciousness.

Tom Cruise // It is the client's prudent decision that her name in no way be associated with Tom Cruise. This decision is legal and binding.

Dr. Phil, the Ingrate(c)(tm) // The client acknowledges a lapse in oversight which has allowed the one-time recipient of the hallowed blessing to succeed despite having no continued attachment to her. She will not make the same mistake again, and wishes for the firm to take measures to ensure that Dr. Phil, the Ingrate(c)(tm), his wife and son are all "dealt with" at the firm's earliest convenience.

Caveats and Codicils

The client officially lays copyrighted and trademarked legal claim to the following:

* The term "Girlfriend," and all sassy uses of it.

* Weight-loss of any kind.

* The entire depth of human experience, as the client insists that she is not only understanding of any and all interpersonal situations, but is in fact the progenitor of said situations and can provide unequaled validation to those who experience them subsequently.

Any unauthorized use or application of the preceding will result in immediate legal action, which this firm is empowered to take on behalf of the client. Punishment will be swift and without mercy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Malkin Tent

Have I mentioned how much I love Matt Taibbi?

"I have to say, I’m really enjoying this whole teabag thing. It’s really inspiring some excellent daydreaming. For one thing, it’s brought together the words teabag and Michelle Malkin for me in a very powerful, thrilling sort of way. Not that I haven’t ever put those two concepts together before, but this is the first time it’s happened while in the process of reading her actual columns.

Previously Michelle Malkin’s writing was on the edge of unreadable; she’s sort of like Ann Coulter, only without that tiny fraction of P.T. Barnum/Mick Jagger-esque self-promotional flair that makes Coulter at least vaguely interesting. When you read Ann Coulter, you know you’re reading someone who would fuck a hippopotamus if she thought it would boost her Q rating. That’s a rare quality and it commands one’s attention.

Michelle Malkin doesn’t have that. She’s just a mean little dunce who’s wedged herself into a nicely paying career as a GOP spokesclown, and she’s going to ride that gig for as long as it keeps gas in her minivan."

If you're not reading Taibbi's new blog at True/Slant, you're missing out big time.

In the Shadow of Two Gunmen

As you're going to hear, ad nauseam, from every news organization on the planet -- today marks the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

Do yourself a favor and ignore most of the sullen and somber think pieces, pontificating on what happened that day and what we've learned since then, and just buy and read Dave Cullen's shockingly good and exhaustively researched new book, Columbine.

Cullen, a contributor for, has spent the past ten years poring over every detail of the shooting -- particularly, who Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were and what might have caused them to kill.

Suffice it to say, almost everything you know about the Columbine High massacre and its gunmen is wrong and has been since almost the very beginning.

Seriously, read it.

Dave Cullen: Columbine

"Where Would You Like Her Delivered, Mr. Dobbs?"

Man, those Indians are serious about their movie memorabilia.

News of the World UK: Child Star of Slumdog Millionaire Put Up for Sale by Father/4.19.09

Listening Post

One of the most passionate, desperate, balls-out powerful love songs ever written -- and if this mind-blowing live performance of it doesn't give you chills, you have no heart.

Here's the great Otis Redding, live from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, doing I've Been Loving You Too Long.

And as a bonus, here's Cat Power's gorgeous, torch song-ish cover of it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Picture of the Week

As the friend who sent this to me said, "Because cheese balls need to be eaten with a shovel."

NOM de Douche

Stephen Colbert shows the laughably dumb National Organization for Marriage ad the respect it deserves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

If any cartoon short could ever be called a masterpiece, this is it.

From 1957, here's the classic What's Opera Doc.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quote of the Week (Honorary Mention)

"Doesn't this sound like a movie that would be on a show like Extras? As in, it's such a ridiculously lazy and insulting idea to turn A Christmas Carol into a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey that it could only be broached on a vicious satire about Hollywood's brainless cynicism. And yet, no. It's really happening."

-- Culture writer Mark Blankenship, on the latest sure-to-suck McConaughey rom-com Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Listening Post

One of those rare covers that's actually better than the original.

Here's Fiona Apple, doing Across the Universe.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Half-Cocked and Loaded

You know something?

I can handle the simpleminded tools who don't even have the remedial education enough to understand that it's ideologically impossible to be a liberal and a fascist at the same time.

I can deal with misguided hicks who take their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and who see nothing irrational in blaming an administration that's been in office for three months for the complete meltdown of the U.S. economy, rather than blaming the people who ruled with almost absolute authority for eight years.

I can take the bald-faced hypocrisy of those who cheered on the creation of a warrantless surveillance state, but who now complain that it might suddenly be used to monitor the dangerous extremists on the right, or those who accused anyone who spoke out against George Bush of treason but who now make veiled and even direct threats against the new opposition president while hiding behind the First Amendment.

I can even stomach the ignorant fuckers who don't get that the Boston Tea Party was a protest against a corporate tax cut at the expense of the middle class, and that they're essentially railing in opposition to their own interests.

I can handle all that nonsense -- but I swear, I'll take a baseball bat to anyone so devoid of common sense, so offensively out of touch with reality, so consumed by bumper sticker dogma, that he or she defends the fact that a gun show in Virginia sold 10 weapons in one hour to the brother of one of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting -- no ID required, no questions asked. Or that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is demanding that something be done about it.

ABC News: Bloomberg Pushes Virginia to Close Gun Show Loophole/4.13.09

Related: DXM: Blowback/6.21.07

And All That Could Have Been: Two Years Later

Two years ago today, a troubled 23-year-old student at Virginia Tech armed himself with two handguns and methodically stalked the school's campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. When his rampage was over, he had killed 33 people including himself. I was working for CNN at the time and wrote this piece for Deus Ex Malcontent in the days that followed the attack -- the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

There were maybe five of us, gathered around a television, watching a woman die.

I had only been in television news for a few months and hadn't yet developed the rough and thickened callus on my soul; that unavoidable consequence of a life lived knee-deep in day-to-day tragedy; the natural armor required to sustain such an existence. I was still learning to crawl among those who had long since evolved into wearied and indifferent creatures for whom another dead body was another dead body was another dead body. They already knew something which I would eventually have to learn -- that sometimes, you have to suppress your gag reflex, bury your humanity and willingly allow the more mechanized aspects of your personality to roll over your emotions like a tank. You needed to do this to get the job done -- and to keep yourself from going insane.

I didn't yet have the luxury of such peaceful detachment though, and so as I stood there -- watching the live feed from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Downtown Miami -- I found that I could barely keep at bay the myriad unnerving thoughts clawing at the inside of my skull.

The pictures we were watching, live and in brutally vivid color, showed the Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue chopper setting down on the hospital's rooftop helipad and the subsequent whirlwind of controlled chaos as the young woman on board was quickly transferred onto a stretcher and whisked inside. In plain view the entire time -- the desperate and seemingly hopeless fight to save her life. I simply stared as one of the doctors jumped onto the stretcher and straddled the woman's naked upper-body, pumping away at her failing heart, his palms flat against her skin. I closed my eyes for an instant to avoid the sight of the bag breathing air into her faltering lungs. I opened them just before the stretcher slammed through the double-doors leading into the hospital -- just in time to catch a glimpse of the massive head wound she'd received less than a half-hour earlier, when someone had fired a 9mm round through her driver's-side window while trying to carjack her in broad daylight, in the middle of tony Coral Gables.

And while those around me cracked jokes, or discussed lunch, or waited to rush the tape of what we were watching into editing -- I silently demanded answers of myself. I wanted to know what gave me the right to watch this woman's final moments of life. I wanted to know who I thought I was that I should be privy to such tragic vulnerability -- to witness the dying breath of a complete stranger. I was a twenty-one-year-old who knew nothing of this person -- nothing of her life, her loves, her hopes and dreams -- yet through nothing more noble than the technology which made such macabre voyeurism possible, I was allowed to be there for her death.

I remember finally turning my head. "I'm so sorry," was all I could whisper as I cast my eyes downward in shame and walked quickly away.

Since that moment, my skin has grown considerably thicker and more bristly. What used to be soft has calcified under the fifteen-year steady drip of daily disaster; what was once overly sincere naivete has given way to the kind of gallows humor that can turn even the most heartbreaking tragedy into a ghastly joke -- one which always ends with a smirk and the cynical admission that only hell can await such crass insensitivity.

This is the necessary defense mechanism -- and this is what was instinctively exploited in the hours that followed the worst shooting rampage in American history.

As the details of what had unfolded on the Virginia Tech campus poured in, I found myself at first engaging in verbal gymnastics.

T.S. Eliot once said something about April being the cruelest month; that was in a poem known fittingly as "The Burial of the Dead," which was the first part of "The Waste Land;" The Who once sang about a "Teenage Wasteland," which is what Virginia Tech has now become.

Then, as the hours and hours passed and the body count skyrocketed -- the sheer enormity of the violence finally becoming clear -- I moved on to logical analysis, followed by a kind of rational righteous indignation. I shook my head at what I knew would surely be the knee-jerk reaction to come: the hand-wringing and political posturing over what might have been done to prevent what was, in reality, a devastating human anomaly -- one that may have been anticipated, but likely couldn't have been stopped by anything short of locking up a troubled and dangerous kid who, until Monday morning, hadn't technically broken the law. I swallowed outrage at the vile opportunism of Scientologists, who were quick to claim that psychiatry was behind the gunman's brutal impulses, and Jack Thompson, who wasn't even aware of the killer's identity and yet was already pointing the finger of blame at the time-honored boogeymen of video games and pop culture. I clenched my fists, closed my eyes and exhaled my fury at one television news anchor agreeing with a local pastor's unforgivably trite nostrum that God sometimes works in mysterious ways. I worried about the possibility that a substantial portion of creative, dark, shy or otherwise unusual kids might now find themselves eyed with suspicion and apprehension -- simply because of one twisted bastard with delusions of martyrdom and the weaponry to bring his furious fantasies to life. I wondered if someone might demand to know why it's as easy to buy a Glock 19 in this country as it is to buy a Happy Meal -- and finally do something about it.

By yesterday morning, I had shut out the ridiculous calls by some for sirens on all American college campuses, and moved on to the curious spectacle of the collegiate mourning process and the round-the-clock coverage of it. I stared quizzically at my monitor as students gathered to loudly proclaim their "Hokie Spirit" -- admitting quietly to myself that truer words were never spoken. I wondered, were I a male Virginia Tech student, if I would pull an Otter-esque line about not wanting to be alone during such a traumatic time in an effort to get CNN's Brianna Keilar to come back to my dorm room. I even sang Team America's I'm So Ronery to myself everytime the image of the gunman -- finally identified as South Korean-born Cho Seung-Hui -- flashed across the screen.

Mostly though, I concerned myself with the question of why every news correspondent in the country had descended on the tiny town of Blacksburg, Virginia -- like locusts desperate to devour the bumper crop of suffering until there was simply nothing left. All the more disconcerting, the millions of television viewers eager to have that pain regurgitated back into their own hungry mouths.

There was, and still is, something grotesquely orgiastic about the whole thing.

Over the past twenty-four hours, the names and faces of the victims have surfaced, a few at a time. As has become ritual, the various news organizations are parroting every possible detail they can gather as to who these young people were in an admittedly genuine effort to both humanize and memorialize them. The ages of the victims always come first -- simply because there's no other single characteristic about each person that can better convey the overwhelming nature of what was lost in this senseless act. The ages are usually followed by majors, extracurricular activities, then one or two prosaic platitudes about their smiles or infectious personalities or optimistic outlook on life -- this final trait taking on a sad irony given the situation which led to the need for disclosure of such information in the first place. Unfortunately however, no matter how noble the intentions or how powerful the tribute, it's impossible not to feel that so much is missing.

The reason is because each person's unique life is still being filtered through an intermediary -- told second-hand via the one relaying it.

For the first time though, there's another way to learn about the victims of this kind of atrocity -- a way which excises the middle-man, and lets them tell their own life stories in their own words.

As incomprehensible as it would have seemed in life, MySpace has provided each victim his or her own epitaph in death.

Even a cursory scan of their pages reveals the true heartbreaking depths of this loss.

I'm not sure what led me to search MySpace for profiles of some of the dead; I'd like to believe that it was an honest desire to find out who these kids really were -- what they loved and hated, what they wanted for themselves and their futures before it was all ripped away from them by someone who had a plan for their lives they weren't even aware of, nor could they stop.

For some reason, the first name I searched was the victim whom the least was known about at the time.

Her name was Maxine Turner.

She was a twenty-two-year-old chemical engineering student.

Her MySpace address contains the words "Super Sneaky Ninja," which -- despite not knowing the meaning behind it -- brought a sad smile to my face when I first saw it.

Maxine, as expected, went by the nickname Max.

Her site, although rather unremarkable, lists her as single, from Vienna, Virginia, 5'1" and slim -- no doubt the result of Tae Kwon Do classes, which she took regularly. She didn't smoke, but she did drink.

She hoped to have children someday.

The song posted on her profile, which plays automatically, is, strangely, one of my favorites from my own youth -- Men At Work's Overkill, sung by the band's lead singer Colin Hay. I listened to it as I moved beyond the basic information into the tiny singularities of Max's life. There's a blue box which sits directly under the "About Me" headline; it reads "Your Superhero Profile." Apparently, her superhero name was "The Hour Dog;" her special power was biotechnology; her only weakness was -- ironically, devastatingly -- blood; her mode of transportation was a pogo stick.

She wanted to meet Shakespeare, Christian Bale and John Cusack.

Her final blog entry is entitled "For the Ladies," and has her mood listed as "Mischievous." It's an extended and oddly sweet dissertation on the right and wrong way to measure yourself to ensure that a bra is the correct size for your body.

Of all the little details on her main MySpace page though, none proves so haunting as the timeline of comments -- concerned friends at first begging over and over again for a simple phone call, then on Tuesday morning, those same friends' comments abruptly changing to messages of sorrow and loss.

But those are just words.

It's what's inside Max Turner's "pics" page, that leaves you utterly heartbroken.

One photo shows her seated on a stone wall, facing away from the camera -- staring out over a vast valley covered in deep green.

Another shows her sitting on an empty beach, under a wide sky filled with high, white clouds. The caption simply reads "Sand Castle!"

There's a slightly blurry image of a little gray nose and large black eyes, just inches from the lens of the camera that captured it. The caption: "Say hi to Jujubee, my pretty hamster."

In one she's holding a snake, in another she's practicing Tae Kwon Do.

Beneath each picture are dozens and dozens of comments from friends and strangers alike, commemorating her life and expressing regret for her untimely death.

I never met Max Turner, and I never will; I have no doubt that this is my own loss to mourn. I know only as much about her as she herself was willing to disclose, and yet what I've seen leads me to believe that the world is an infinitely lesser place without her in it. The same can be said for Ross Almeddine, and Reema Samaha, and Emily Hilscher, and Ryan Clark, and Daniel Perez Cueva, and Mary Read and the more than two dozen other victims of this incomprehensible tragedy.

I'll go to my own grave grappling with the question of how someone, anyone, can be so consumed by rage that he can look at the face of Max Turner and decide that she has to die.

Like fifteen years ago, I have nothing to offer except an apology -- this time not out of shame, but out of genuine sorrow and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

I'm sorry that humanity failed you, Max.

I'm so sorry.

Listening Post

A whole slew of female singer-songwriters scored big in the 90s with one or two hits, then faded into almost instant irrelevancy. Joan Osborne, Paula Cole, Sophie B. Hawkins, Meredith Brooks -- all were big names for a couple of seconds and can probably still be heard on your local "Lite FM" station, but have otherwise done little anyone's paid attention to.

The same can be said about Tasmin Archer.

And yet for some reason, this song -- her only hit -- has remained stuck in my head and heart to this day. And it's been ringing in my ears more than usual recently.

From 1992, the single best year for music in my lifetime, here's Sleeping Satellite.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My parents always said it was mean to laugh at the mentally retarded. And yet...

Seriously, watch this and be astonished at A) how ridiculous these people are, and B) how ably CNN's Susan Roesgen manhandles them.

Subtextual Quote of the Week

"It's hard to talk when you're tea bagging."

-- Anderson Cooper, last night on his show, responding to guest David Gergen's assertion that the right hasn't been able to find its voice

"Here, Let Me Demonstrate"

God bless Cesca for this screen-grab of Fox's Steve Douchey, seemingly about to do what he does best.

Go ahead, kids -- caption away.

GOP Fail

Listening Post

In honor of what's sure to be the relentless hilarity of "Tea Bagging Day," here's the mighty Living Colour doing Desperate People.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mother and Child

The Dog and Phony Show

I really hate to continue plastering this site with random quotes, but damn if this gem from Matt Taibbi's new blog over at True/Slant isn't a keeper:

"It’s been strange and kind of depressing to watch the conservative drift in this direction. In a way, actually, the Glenn Beck show has been drearily fascinating of late. It’s not often that we get to watch someone go insane on national television; trapped in an echo chamber of his own spiraling egomania, with apparently no one at his network willing to pull the plug and put him out of his misery, Beck has lately gone from being a mildly annoying media dingbat to a self-imagined messiah who looks like he’s shouldering more and more of the burdens of Christ with each passing day. And because he’s stepping into a vacuum of conservative leadership — there’s no one else out there who is offering real red meat to the winger crowd — he’s begun to attract not professional help but apostles, in the form of Chuck Norris (who believes we have to prepare for armed revolution and may prepare a run for “president of Texas”) and pinhead Midwestern congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a woman who is looking more and more like George Foreman to Sarah Palin’s Joe Frazier in the Heavyweight Championship of Stupid. Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!"

Damn, I love Taibbi.

Quote of the Week (Hands Down)

"If you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all throughout the country, you're going to need a Dick Armey."

-- MSNBC's David Shuster

Floor Show

Seriously, could Glenn Beck's show become any more of a circus act?

Here, David Buckner of Columbia University, obviously overcome by all that unadulterated crazy, passes out live on the air.

Tuesday is Recycling Day (No Pun Intended)

"It's Too Easy Being Green" (Originally Published, 10.22.07)

Like most Americans, there's nothing I love more than a completely ineffectual and purely symbolic gesture -- particularly when it comes to dealing with an honest-to-God crisis.

People sticking yellow ribbons all over their SUVs; the dipshit Republicans in Congress pushing to censure the dipshit liberals in for insulting General David Petraeus; the laughable burlesque of holding a "funeral" for the dreaded "N-word"; all of this and more just serves to remind us that when decisive action is required, we as a nation can always be counted on to immediately rise to our feet, wave our arms around wildly and parrot a catch-phrase or two, then sit the hell back down and watch American Idol.

The latest nail in the coffin of our once-indomitable spirit of diligence and sacrifice: all week, CNN is changing the color of its onscreen logo from the usual trademark red, to an all-too-familiar eco-friendly green.

To borrow a line from Bill Maher, it's literally the least they could do.

Actually, the reason for the change isn't simply because Larry King has been less willing as of late to donate blood from his personal bank in Transylvania to color the logo; it's part of a big promotional push by CNN -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Time Warner, may I remind you -- for its documentary Planet in Peril. (Someday I'm going to find the person who first convinced a news manager that silly alliteration makes for good TV -- then I'm going to punch him in the throat.)

Planet in Peril is hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle fame, and the Ambiguously Gay Duo, Anderson Cooper and Jeff Corwin.

Despite its apocalyptically alarmist title, I have no doubt that the show will in fact be a well-crafted and thought-provoking investigation, and I certainly have no issue with the subject with which it deals.

The problem is that, as with few other pop culture zeitgeists that the mass media has greedily perpetuated in the name of ad sales, an important issue is now in danger of being pushed across the fine line separating the need for public awareness from an inevitable oversaturation. The word "Green" has already become the one thing it never should have been allowed to: a Madison Avenue tagline. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised, in fact, if come late December the word begins popping up on those snotty lists of terms which have been so overused during the past 12 months that the authors decree them officially "banned" in the coming year. (Unfortunately, it'll probably be right beside "Africa.")

I consider myself a serious proponent of environmental issues -- I have been for quite some time in fact -- and even I'm sick of hearing everyone from the most wasteful of mega-conglomerates to the idiot up the street with the 900-foot-tall wind turbine sticking out of his ass flaunt their "eco-bling" and boastfully promote how green they've gone.

Once again, I'm not saying the issue's not important.

I'm saying that it's too important for the media to treat it as if it were any other fad, thereby creating what will surely be an eventual backlash.

There's too much at stake.