Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pictures of the Week


From the so-called "New American Tea Party" (essentially, a Vaudevillian angry-white-guy "revolution" fomented by idiots like Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, and Joe the Plumber) yesterday in Washington, DC.


So this is what Smart America's gonna be up against for the next few years, eh?

Well, at least we won't run out of easy targets for ridicule.

(h/t Cesca)

Saturday Morning Cartoons



When I first started posting these Saturday Morning Cartoons, I said I was doing it because you can't help but feel like kids these days are really missing out on something by not being exposed to the brilliance of Loony Toons, Tom and Jerry, and so on.

And this particular short may represent what I was talking about better than just about any other. It's pure, unadulterated creative genius.

From 1949, here's Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in Rabbit of Seville.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sit Rep


***Spoiler Alert***

Okay, so Starbuck's father was the mysterious and long-lost 13th Cylon, Daniel -- the artistic one Cavil and Ellen Tigh talked about two weeks ago (and if you couldn't figure out almost immediately that the piano player was Starbuck's father and that the drawing Hera made for Starbuck was a series of musical notes, turn in your wings).

That's Starbuck's connection to the Cylons (and her destiny): She's the original human/Cylon hybrid.

All in all -- between the kick-ass Boomer plotline and Katie Sackhoff's wonderfully nuanced performance -- an exceptional episode.

Anybody got any other theories about what we witnessed?

Power Player


All musicians have the same dream: the one where they find themselves onstage playing with their idols; the people who most influenced the way they think, play, write songs; the people who first started that fire in their belly and made them have to pick up a guitar, or a microphone, or a pair of drumsticks, or whatever.

Last night, one of my very best friends -- a guy name Kelsey Warren who fronts a band here in New York City called Pillow Theory -- lived that dream by taking the stage with Chuck D at Lincoln Center to perform Public Enemy's classic incendiary anthem, Fight the Power.

The exclusive show was part of the celebration for the 20th anniversary of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. It was attended by the cast and crew of the movie and hosted by singer, songwriter, and Broadway star Stew.

In other words, it was pretty much the coolest gig imaginable for a guy who grew up worshipping at the altar of Public Enemy and the black culture renaissance of the late 80s -- the one that looked like the films of Spike Lee and sounded like the beats and rhymes of consciousness hip-hop.

Kelsey, man -- congratulations.

And goddamn am I jealous.

(That's Kelsey, the guy with the white guitar, in the very small picture above.)

Over and Out


It's almost incomprehensible that Barack Obama holds the same office that George W. Bush did for eight years. The two men aren't even the of same species.

Seriously, watch this masterful and elegant speech -- a straightforward explanation of purpose, free of outrageous rhetoric and juvenile theatrics -- and marvel at how far we've come politically in such a short amount of time.

Sure, there's much work to be done on so many fronts across America and beyond, but make no mistake -- our long national nightmare is most assuredly over. This man, Barack Obama, is something we haven't seen in this country in decades: A leader, in every sense of the word.

Toy Story 3



Shiny Toy Guns doing Ghost Town, live at their private show last Tuesday here in New York City.

Not exactly the best quality video (I have no idea who shot it), but you get the idea.

Sense and the City


Given that I live in New York City and understand completely what he's talking about, I giggled my ass off at this:

Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go!: Joe Scarborough's New York City Straw Man/2.27.09

Cesca's right on a couple of fronts. Both that the life and daily expenditures of a New Yorker may pretty much blow the bell curve when you're talking about what can be considered "wealthy" in this country, but they don't necessarily have to; and that the very notion of a Rick Santelli-led "revolution" by America's super-rich is, let's face it, laughable.

Jack Into the System



Not only is this clip the only way I've found to make System of a Down even kind of listenable (bring on the fanboy outrage), but it's a pretty good indicator of the things you find funny once you become the father of seven month old.

Quote of the Week


""Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man!"

-- Republican Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (of course) shouting praise after a speech by Black Man™ RNC chairman Michael Steele, and obviously fully on board with his new "The GOP: It's Off the Hook, Yo!" promotional campaign

Listening Post


Nik Kershaw recorded the single best new wave pop song of the 80s -- Wouldn't It Be Good. For American audiences, his career pretty much begins and ends there. But the reality is that not only did he go on to release quite a few exceptional albums throughout the late 80s and early 90s, even into today; he also surrounded himself with some of the best damn musicians anywhere to record and tour with. People like bass genius Mark King of Level 42 and my personal favorite drummer, Simon Phillips.

The result was always something wonderful and surprising: Pop music with brains.

From an album almost no one here in the states has even heard of -- 1986's Radio Musicola -- here's the title track.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Block and Blue


You've probably noticed that things have kind of slowed around here lately. The reason for this is two-fold: It's mostly because taking care of Inara during the day has become quite a bit more work since she figured out that she can be mobile. But it's also because, to be very honest, I'm going through one of those "writer's block" periods, where I let what's going on in my personal life affect my output here. It's nothing overly serious; I'm just sort of down these days -- a combination of the depression caused by my still constantly shifting hormones in the wake of the surgery from a couple of years ago and the uncertainty that just about everyone's feeling right now given the state of the economy.

The end result is that, aside from my passion for music, nothing's really moving me these days. A while back, I might've been inclined to mine these feelings for some decent material for this site, and maybe it's a testament to just how crappy I'm feeling right now that I can't seem to. But I'd like to avoid turning this thing into a public therapy session anyway -- so maybe that's for the best.

Either way, for the time being I'm making myself a little quieter than usual. Trust me: I'm sure this won't last and I have no doubt that very soon -- anytime really -- something will inspire me and things will get back to normal around here. Thank you so much for bearing with me and for continuing to visit my little corner of the internet in the meantime. Honestly, the support I've received from readers of Deus Ex Malcontent -- especially the roster of regulars (and you know who you are) -- is appreciated more than you'll ever know.

Thanks for reading.

Look Back in Languor


Because it's been a while since I've written anything truly substantive for this site due to the reasons explained above -- and because I actually feel bad about that -- here's a quick rundown of some of the better pieces from the past couple of years.

I go looking for Maxine Turner, and end up utterly heartbroken. (And All That Could Have Been/4.19.07)

I will never forgive NBC News for its shameful exploitation of the Virginia Tech massacre in the name of ratings, and neither should you. (The Tapes of Wrath/4.20.07)

I have a good idea for Hillary Clinton's next campaign commercial. (Is Barack Obama Gonna Have to Choke a Bitch?/1.7.08)

As it turns out, I was one of the lucky ones. (Death Be Not Proud... But It Is Cost-Effective/12.30.07)

I let you in on a little secret about Mitt Romney. (The Sectarian Candidate/12.6.07)

I contemplate a young boy's uncertain future, while remembering a young girl's tragic past -- the first girl I ever loved. (The Part that Never Comes Home/1.21.07)

I pick on Hannah Montana and likely earn Zach Braff some hate mail. (Montana Uber Alles/11.20.07)

I have a tumor the size of a pinball removed from my brain. (Where Is My Mind?: Part 1/10.12.06) (Where Is My Mind?: Part 2/12.26.06)

I am one very pissed off Disney character. (Tigger with Attitude/1.8.07)

I defend a gay, drug-using preacher. (Sympathy for the Reverend/11.5.06)

I get a rather nasty e-mail from a group of gun enthusiasts in Virginia, and respond in kind. (Blow Back/6.21.07)

I give you a glimpse inside New York's hippest hotel -- and at the spoiled celebrities who make life a living hell for its staff. (Veruca Assault/10.26.06)

I am Oprah's secret plan to own Rachael Ray and Barack Obama. (There's No "I" in Oprah/10.25.06)

I examine the curious case of Michael Richards and wonder if it's possible to spout racist language without actually being a racist. (The Nth Degree/11.21.06)

I hang out with 15-year-olds at a My Chemical Romance concert, and ask if you've got a problem with that. (The Kids are Alright/4.2.07)

I go to rehab (yeah, yeah, yeah). (Welcome to the Monkey House/6.4.07)

I truly am sorry for all that Anna Nicole Smith crap on your television. (And Now, an Apology in the Form of an Open Letter to America/2.15.07)

I decipher the secret meaning of "The Knut Song." (Fight Cub/4.10.07)

I cover the verdict in the O.J. Simpson civil trial. (If You Want Blood, You've Got It/11.16.06)

I have a plan to bring down American Idol. (One Little Indian/4.5.07)

I meet a man who's going to be executed in 24 hours. (Things to Do in Texas When You're Dead/8.25.06)

I present an infuriating personal example of how religion is child abuse. (Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, for My Parents Tell Me So/10.8.06)

I sympathize with child molesters and play To Catch a Hack Journalist with NBC's Chris Hansen. (Idiot vs. Predator/3.1.07)

I come face-to-face with the woman I've fantasized about since she stepped out of a pool and unhooked her red bikini top on film back in 1981. (Girls, Girls, Girls: Part 1: Heaven's Cates/5.4.07)

I become an overnight sensation, thanks to a bunch of douchebags. (2006: Year of the Douchebag/1.5.07)

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

The Top 28 Posts of 2008

28. Surrender, Integrity/4.22.08

27. Is Barack Obama Gonna Have to Choke a Bitch?/1.7.08

26. Second Thug Life/5.6.08

25. Insolent Jest/10.30.08

24. Policing Themselves to Death/8.8.08

23. A Modest Proposal/5.16.08

22. Droll Models/7.11.08

21. All Fall Down/8.10.08

20. Let No One Put Asunder/12.21.08

19. Choose Wisely/9.4.08

18. Shade of Gray/12.9.08

17. Miles to Go/12.4.08

16. The World I Knew/5.25.08

15. You Name It/2.21.08

14. Why So Serious?/4.25.08

13. An Equal and Opposite Reaction/8.15.08

12. Not Another Oprah Column/2.28.08

11. Rich Lowry: The William F. Buckley of Fuck Talk/10.4.08

10. Wide Awake in America/11.5.08

9. An Open Letter to the American Media/12.22.08

8. Sweet Dreams/1.28.08

7. Kids Incorporated/4.24.08

6. Both Ends Against the Middle/9.11.08

5. Be Wary, Be Wary, the 10th of February (from the Huffington Post)/2.1.08

4. The Meta-Metamorphosis of Sarah Palin/10.24.08

3. The Outsider/6.9.08

2. The Speed of Lies/8.28.08

1. Say What You Will (Requiem for a TV News Career)/2.18.08

TV Scream


The funniest thing you'll see all day.

ONN: Sony Releases New Stupid Piece of Shit that Doesn't Fucking Work

Listening Post


I've never really given much thought to whether I have a "favorite" song. Different music affects me in different ways and what I love to hear usually depends on the mood I'm in.

But after stumbling across this on my iPod the other day and listening to it for the first time in a very long time, I realized that it might be a serious contender for my all-time favorite song -- mostly because it moves me in ways I simply can't describe. Every moment of it -- every note, every word, every melody -- just hurts and heals and makes you believe you could physically drift away on it. This is the rarest of music: the kind you can feel -- and feel in the deepest parts of your soul.

Although this isn't a professional video, it barely matters what the visuals are. Just close your eyes and listen.

Here's Fiona Apple's Sullen Girl.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slam Dog Millionaire



The Huffington Post: Nadya Suleman, Octomom, Offered $1 Million to Make Porn/2.25.09

30 Crock


Gotta give a little credit to my BFF over at the Huffington Post, Jason Linkins: He really hit it out of the park with this laugh-out-loud comparison of Bobby Jindal and Kenneth from 30 Rock.

The Huffington Post: Bobby or Kenneth?/2.24.09

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: 12

Dance Break

Toy Story 2


Loft/gallery space on the 11th floor of a building in Tribeca, with a spectacular view of the city? Check.

Open bar? Check.


Cool DJ and album art all over the walls? Check.

All access passes, giving us the chance to have a lengthy and damn funny drunken conversation with Chad Petree (surprisingly, the least emo "emo guy" I've ever met)? Check.


Unbelievable show by Shiny Toy Guns? Check.


All in all a hell of a time.

NBC New York: Locals Only: Shiny Toy Guns

(Pictures shot with my crappy little Blackberry Pearl and then immediately uploaded to Facebook throughout the night. What did we do before this kind of technology?)

Listening Post



Proving that maybe there's hope yet for hip-hop.

Here's P.O.S., with Bleeding Hearts Club.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good Copter, Bad Copter



All I can think after watching this rambling, confusing, and somewhat petty question from an irritable John McCain about the plan to build a new fleet of Marine One presidential helicopters (helicopters he'll never get the chance to fly in) is, "Wow -- dodged a hell of a bullet on that one."

(h/t Cesca)

Toy Story


In keeping with today's not-so-toy gun theme, just a heads up that not only will I be going to tonight's secret Shiny Toy Guns show here in New York City, but I've somehow finagled all access passes -- meaning that myself and a good friend will be going backstage to meet the band, shoot pictures and video, that kind of thing.

Should have some fun stuff to report here tomorrow.

Reading, Writing, Rampaging


A youth shotgun?

Jesus, if this isn't one of the signs of the fucking Apocalypse, I have no idea what is.

ABC News: 11 Year Old Boy Allegedly Used "Youth Shotgun" to Kill Pregnant Woman/2.24.09

Tuesday is Recycling Day


Blowback (Originally Published, 6.21.07)

Last month, I wrote a column focusing on a group of gun owners in Virginia who held a raucous gathering and gun giveaway as a way of thumbing its nose at gun control advocates, specifically New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (Automatics for the People/5.18.07). The Virginia Citzens Defense League believes that Bloomberg has infringed on its Second Amendment rights by filing a series of lawsuits against gun dealers in Virginia; these lawsuits have been based on information obtained by undercover private investigators from New York, all of whom Bloomberg authorized to conduct investigations far outside his own city. Bloomberg's rationale is that certain weapons dealers in Virginia are illegally selling guns which eventually end up being used in violent crimes in New York City; these undercover stings apparently prove as much.

On the night of May 17th, the VCDL invited its members to strap on their dual-sidearms -- which they proudly did -- and head on down to a tiny government building in Annandale, Virginia for the "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway." The group raffled off a Para-ordnance handgun and a "Varmint Stalker" rifle (and no, I'm not making that up) and showed off a cake adorned with an unflattering picture of Bloomberg. They laughed and whooped it up. They ridiculed their alleged oppressors. They had a hell of a time.

Meanwhile, outside, a small group gathered to quietly protest all this he-man gun lust; among them were the parents of some of the kids shot down in the Virginia Tech massacre -- which had occurred almost a month to the day previously.

Responding to the protest, Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave took the road most traveled by gun advocates, saying that although he sympathized with the families of those lost, he firmly believed that more guns on campus would've prevented such a tragedy.

At the time, I said that to call the entire gruesome curiosity obscene would be an insult to obscenity. Also, in keeping with the mission statement printed in bold letters directly beneath the headline at the top of this page ("Making a Mockery of Mockery"), I took a few admittedly juvenile shots at the apparent preponderance of overweight rednecks in a group bearing such a muscular name -- my point being that these clowns didn't look like they could "defend" a Twinkie from themselves.

Well, as it turns out, Philip Van Cleave read what I wrote -- and decided to write me back:


Chez,

Your description of VCDL and its members bears no resemblance to the group. We have lots of professionals, police officers, firemen, attorneys, military, etc. We have members of all races, too. So assuming that we are racist or stupid is really your own prejudice against gun owners showing through. If you go to our web site (www.vcdl.org), you can see video of us in action. It clearly won't be what you expect to see.

Regards,

Philip Van Cleave



Short and sweet.

In fact, my immediate reaction upon reading it was to say, "That's all?"

The fact that Mr. Van Cleave chose to zero in on one offhand comment instead of confronting every other argument I made in that original column proves one of two things -- either I'm not making myself clear enough, or he doesn't have a leg to stand on. (There is a third possibility, which is that he's been forced to defend this ridiculous spectacle so many times over the past month that he's sick of bothering.)

As far as I can tell, I did make myself pretty damn clear:


"Anyone whose judgment is so lousy that he would throw a party and gleefully thumb his nose in the face of families recently devastated by gun violence can't be trusted with a deadly weapon. If the mere feelings of another human being are of no consequence to these dolts, I find it impossible to believe that the human life they have the potential to take will be of much more value.

These aren't gun enthusiasts -- these are gun worshippers. That's the problem, because as my father taught me so long ago -- there should be no such thing.

It's one thing to recognize a weapon as a necessity, a means to and end, even an instrument of sport -- of enjoyment; it's another thing entirely to believe it to be a large part of your identity -- your very manhood.

Anyone who thinks this way shouldn't be allowed to own a gun."



As for what gives me the credentials to make such an assertion, it goes back to the man mentioned in the above excerpt -- my father. I wrote at the time about his exploits as both a Navy SEAL commander and a cop -- and the man who taught me how to use and respect a weapon. If you'll pardon the pun, this shoots an awful lot of holes in Mr. Van Cleave's claim that I have a prejudice against gun owners. Far from it.

What I have a problem with is irresponsible gun owners -- and as far as I'm concerned, there's little that's more irresponsible than throwing a heavily armed frat-party. It shows zero respect for the awesome power you wield in exercising your Second Amendment rights -- and that makes you dangerous, and unfit to carry a gun. Period.

Still, in the interest of fairness, I took Mr. Van Cleave's advice and checked out the VCDL's website. I highly suggest taking a look for yourself; that's the only way to truly appreciate the surreal lunacy of it all.

The home page features an initial description of the group, touting in big, bold letters its belief that "the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental human right." For those keeping track -- you're entitled to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and a crap-load of heavy weaponry (which, one imagines, would fall under the "pursuit of happiness" clause for most in the VCDL anyway).

As you further peruse the group's page, you find pictures of the massive success that was the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway Extravaganza, including a few photos of Philip Van Cleave himself (nice utility belt, Batman).


Also included in the slideshow by the way is a picture of one of the protesters of this little gathering. Suffice to say, the staff of caption writers for the VCDL, although not quite as unnecessarily florid as myself and some others, are damn sure as caustic when it comes to ridiculing those they don't particularly like.

All of this is just the amuse bouche for the truly tasty treat to be found in the links section however.

A glance to the right side of the homepage reveals two links, one called "Gun Friendly Lawyers" -- because apparently you never know when you're going to need one of those -- and the second, and infinitely more humorous, called "Gun Owner Unfriendly."

Yes, it's an enemies list.

Click it, and a world of jaw-dropping insanity comes alive.

Among the businesses the VCDL -- a group which promotes the notion that every citizen should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon -- has pegged as "unfriendly" to those carrying guns:

Wachovia Bank.

First Union Bank.

BB&T Bank.

Jared Jewelry.

Outback Steakhouse.

King's Dominion Theme Park.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shops (damn hippies).

7-11 Stores.

Red Lobster.

They call these businesses and many others like them "Criminal Safe Zones."

I couldn't, in my wildest Edgar Allen Poe-like delirium, conceive of a group of people sitting around angrily pondering why a fucking bank doesn't want concealed weapons getting through its front doors.

Yet there it is -- the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

I'd like to thank Mr. Van Cleave for writing, and for allowing me to see that he, in fact, was correct: His group isn't what I expected -- it's a whole hell of a lot worse. It's a group that's not only too irresponsible to be allowed to carry weapons -- it's too goddamned stupid.

Listening Post



Conventional wisdom has it that this song is a revenge fantasy about a guy who ties up and tortures the wealthy boss who fired him and left his family without a provider. If this is true, then say hello to the song for our times -- and what a hell of a song it is.

Here's Blue October, with Dirt Room.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fool's Gold (2009 Oscars Edition)


25 Completely Random Comments My Wife and I Made To Each Other During the 81st Annual Academy Awards (and Pre-Show) Last Night:

1. "I think that outfit will really serve Miley well during the joust competition."

2. "I did. In a sweatshop in Mumbai." (Said after Seacrest asked one of the kids from Slumdog Millionaire who made her dress)

3. "Well, that was gay."

4. "You suppose that big tent the stars have to go through is for delousing?"

5. (Uncontrollable Laughter) (Upon hearing Miley Cyrus say that she hopes to be back at the Kodak accepting an Oscar next year for Hannah Montana: The Movie)

6. Jayne: "Beyonce's such a lightweight. She's so desperate to be taken seriously." Chez: "(Groans) Where's Chris Brown when you need him?"

7. "Wow. Rogen went from smoking pot to obviously doing meth."

8. "In keeping with Hollywood's 'Earth-friendly' theme, Sarah Jessica Parker went really green by skipping the limo and just pulling Broderick in a cart to the show tonight."

9. "Well, that was really gay."

10. "Aniston's totally gonna jump offstage and cut Angelina."

11. "Taraji P. Henson. Yes we can."

12. "You know the janitor will be thrilled that Penelope Cruz's dress dusted the stage for him."

13. "Can I adopt you?" (Upon hearing Seacrest ask Freida Pinto what Angelina Jolie said to her when they met)

14. "LED-GER. LED-GER." (Said in unison after Heath Ledger's name was announced)

15. "Fuck Penn."

16. "I've seen the faces of the Final Five." (Upon seeing the five former Best Supporting Actress winners appear from behind their pictures onstage -- the first time that very silly technique was used during the night)

17. "GODZILLA!" (Said as the director of the Best Animated Short, Kunio Kato, and his all-Japanaese staff came onstage to accept their Oscar)

18. "Yeah, I'm going to hell." (Said about ten seconds later)

19. "Stiller, for the win."

20. "Latifah should break out into Ladies First during the death reel."

21. "Ladies and gentlemen, Ego-palooza." (Said as the former Best Actress winners vied for the most face time onstage)

22. "Jesus, when Inara's bad I'm gonna tell her that if she doesn't behave, Sophia Loren will crawl out from under a rock, snatch her, and take her away to the netherworld."

23. "Well, that was just gayer than gay."

24. "They need to move this along. At midnight, the cast of Slumdog's visas expire."

25. "Hey, at least Renee Zellweger wasn't there."

One Protects, the Other Molests


Decisions, decisions.

Do I watch NY1's live coverage of the tedium that is Cardinal Edward Egan's mass at St. Pat's on the morning his replacement will officially be announced by the Vatican?

Or do I watch Pootie Tang on Comedy Central?

Yup, that was easy.

Listening Post


The term "post-grunge" is a cerebral sounding label given to a kind of music that's anything but. It's come to describe just about any band featuring heavy guitars and plodding rhythms that rose out of the late 90s through today -- bands like Nickelback, Hinder, Fuel, Staind, Daughtry, basically the entire rotation of your average AOR station in Tampa, Florida.

While most of the stuff that marches under the post-grunge flag sounds pretty much the same, that doesn't mean that there isn't the occasional decent hook or surprisingly good song coming out of one or another of these otherwise indistinguishable bands.

Case in point: South Africa's Seether, and their new single which, for whatever reason, seems to be on repeat on my iPod quite a bit lately.

Here's Breakdown.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Baby Talk


Right after the birth of Inara, back in July of last year, I mentioned the possibility of starting a separate blog specifically for baby pictures, video, stories, etc.

Well, Jayne and I have finally gone ahead and created that site.

For the record, I'll still be posting the occasional baby picture here. If anyone has a problem with that -- well, tough. But the new blog will be focused strictly on Inara, which means that you'll get lots of "Awwww" with none of that annoying, self-serving assholery -- the kind you've come to expect from this site.

Please, you visit.

www.InaraGrace.blogspot.com

Quote of the Week (Honoble Mention)


"Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven't seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president."

-- Republican Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby, still clinging to the soundly debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama isn't a U.S. citizen, making the senator clinically insane, astonishingly stupid, or just grossly irresponsible

Related: The Speed of Lies/8.28.08

No Power in the 'Verse Can Stop Me


Within a period of 72 hours, Inara went from crawling to standing.

Jayne and I are so screwed.

The Joker


Just a heads-up from Malcontent Central: I'll be drinking red wine and live Twittering tonight's Academy Awards coverage along with my lovely wife, via the status bar on my Facebook page.

Feel free to join in the fun (or the fun-making).

Whatever I have to say, it's gotta be better than the crap Joey Fat-One and Lisa Rinna will be spewing for that ridiculous TV Guide channel.

Hope to see you there.

Mr. Rourke


Calling Mickey Rourke a loose cannon would be like calling Norman Bates a mama's boy. The truth is that Mickey's been hanging on to the precipice of sanity with his tip-toes for years: turning down big, lucrative parts to become an almost instantly washed-up boxer; getting into fights with directors; publicly professing his love for dogs that even Paris Hilton would consider "too prissy"; basically throwing his career in film away in favor of a life lived on the fringes of polite society.

All things considered, Mickey's the worst kind of artistic caricature.

And yet I couldn't be happier to once again see him in the spotlight.

Back in the mid-90s, Mickey Rourke owned a bar along Miami's ultra-hip Washington Avenue called, imaginatively, "Mickey's." The place was a singularity on South Beach: a friendly pizza-and-beer joint which also doubled, incongruously, as a chic dance club. Because South Beach hadn't yet become the wealthy celebrity playground it is today -- which meant that seeing an honest-to-God movie star would still merit more than an indifferent sigh -- Mickey's presence was enough to draw a pretty steady crowd to his place. Mickey's-the-bar was usually packed -- usually with every stripe of South Beach scenester. But whereas the surrounding clubs and bars boasted a relatively exclusive, upscale clientele, Mickey's had no tight velvet rope or strict dress code and therefore quickly became known as a regular haunt for the breadth of South Florida's douchebag frat boy set. This laissez faire entry policy, the same one which admittedly made the place so inviting, would eventually bite Mickey in the ass when, on January 6th of 1994, a couple of drunk college guys showed up at the front door and tried to pick a fight with a bouncer. Within minutes, this staggeringly stupid show of popped-collar bravado escalated into an all-out brawl, with Mickey Rourke himself coming out of the bar and basically cleaning the clocks of the tough guy wanna-bes. Mickey wound up getting himself arrested on charges of disturbing the peace -- thereby giving every television station in South Florida the kind of local lead story it could only dream of. (I specify local because January 6th, 1994 was, as it turned out, a pretty big day for national news, being that it was on that morning that Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Tonya Harding's not-very-bright goons.)

Most stations went with the official, or at the very least more sensational, version of events, breathlessly parroting the police report that relied primarily on the college kids' side of the story. It seemed to me -- the young producer of WSVN's popular 10PM newscast at the time -- like no one wanted to look beyond the seemingly obvious because at face value the story was just so damn juicy: "ACTOR BEATS UP KIDS OUTSIDE SOUTH BEACH CLUB!" So, on the show I was responsible for at least, we did our best not to convict Mickey Rourke on the air nor to lead the audience to some kind of natural conclusion that Mickey was a monster with anger management issues. We didn't say he was completely without fault -- we just didn't publicly crucify him.

Which is why he called to say thanks.

I'd just finished my show and was walking back to my desk from the control room, a little after 11PM, when my assignment desk editor -- a guy named Edwin Lester -- called out to me across the newsroom.

"Hey, pick up your phone. I just transferred a call to you."

"Oh yeah?" I shouted back. "Anybody I should care about?"

"I think you'll want this, man," he chuckled. "It's Mickey Rourke."

"Shut the fuck up."

But when I picked up the phone at my desk, that's exactly who it was. Mickey Fuckin' Rourke. He asked who he was talking to; I told him I was the producer of the show. And then he basically thanked me and my staff for presenting the story in what he thought was as balanced a manner as possible.

"You guys were the only ones in town who gave me a fair shake. You didn't assume I was guilty."

"Well, thanks. We certainly appreciate that -- but it's sort of our job."

Regardless, Mickey wanted to show his appreciation, so he invited me and my crew to come down to his bar -- the scene of the crime, as it were -- and grab a couple of rounds of drinks and pizzas on him. While I knew even at the time that taking Mickey up on his offer would be a major violation of journalistic ethics, I was neither smart nor unselfish enough to refuse. So I went. We all did. And we all had a hell of a time.

If Mickey Rourke, who had just been arrested in scandalous fashion, was simply trying to ingratiate himself to the people who'd be covering his story for its duration, then it worked. To this day, I consider Mickey to be a pretty decent, albeit mildly fucked-up, guy. And yeah, it was fun to be reached out to at 24-years-old by a guy who at the time was one of my favorite dark horse actors -- particularly since the daily grind endured by me and my staff afforded very few perks.

Eventually "Mickey's" -- like just about every bar on the beach before it and after -- closed its doors for good. But for a while, it was one of my favorite places in Miami, and its eccentric owner provided an increasingly glitzy and sterile South Beach scene with some much needed local color.

Mickey Rourke is truly one of a kind in Hollywood -- or anywhere else for that matter. And I hope he takes home an Oscar tonight.

If for nothing else, just so we can see if he gives the kind of acceptance speech he gave yesterday at the Independent Spirit Awards.



Just don't even think about cutting him off.

We've already seen what he's capable of.

Listening Post



This is the best song you'll hear today, from the winner of last year's "Best Album Title" award: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.

Here's Atmosphere, with You.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons



From 1951, here's The Hasty Hare.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sticking Point



Yup. Gonna be a real entertaining few years.

J.C., Jay-Z & Crazy


Every once in a while an item comes along that's so ridiculously surreal I have no idea what to do with it -- no notion of what I might say that could make it any more staggeringly hilarious than it already is. I'm talking about something so exquisitely ludicrous that it simply cannot be improved upon. It's its own punchline.

This morning, thanks to a couple of alert readers, my e-mail inbox contained not one but two examples of this kind of Zen-like lunacy.

Son Spots

What Would Jesus Do with President Obama's economic stimulus package?

Well, probably nothing since, if you believe the Bible, he had the power to turn a rock into a big donkey-cart full of money. But that's not stopping a conservative third-party group from running anti-stimulus ads that -- in sadly predictable fashion -- invoke the name of Jesus Christ. The American Issues Project (and why the fuck do they always have such ceremonious names?) begins airing a series of national TV spots today which feature images of the proverbial Three Wise Men while a voice-over announcer says somberly:

"Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born, and kept spending through today. A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did."

Needless to say, this ad is aimed directly at the heart of the GOP's prime (and really only) demographic these days: the barely lucid folks who still believe what their neighbor's brother-in-law's mechanic said about Obama being the Anti-Christ. The Jesus card is one of the few that the surrogate Republican brain trust have left to play, but lately it's met with indifference from all but the most faithful.

Will it work this time? Probably not. But it sure as hell will be entertaining.


Fallacious D

Speaking of entertaining, I challenge you to read the following quote from newly elected leader of the Republican party, Black Man® Michael Steele, without falling out of your chair:

"We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

Yup. The GOP and hip-hop. Because nothing speaks to today's urban youth like fat, white oligarchs with a pole the size of the Eiffel Tower jammed up their collective ass.

So, what will the GOP's new "off the hook" promotional blitz look like?

Well, something like this I'd imagine.

Once again, if this is what we're in for over the next few years -- if these kinds of things represent the shape that Republican desperation is going to take -- then at the very least it won't be boring.

Listening Post


Ready to party like it's 1997?

12 years after the release of their landmark album The Fat of the Land, the Prodigy return next week with Invaders Must Die. DJ Liam Howlett has brought together most of the old "band" this time around -- or at the very least, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality -- rather than going with a series of guest vocalists the way he did on 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. The result is -- well, it sounds like the Prodigy. Like Y2K never happened.

I wish I could say that this is a bad thing, but no other group fused the ferocity of punk and metal with the beats of house and electronica like the Prodigy, and it's always a joy to hear something new from them, even if they're not breaking much new ground these days. Look for a cameo by Dave Grohl (or course) on the new record and (hopefully) a U.S. tour to follow (because these guys put on one of the best live shows you'll ever experience).

To see the first single from Invaders Must Die -- Omen -- click here since it's unavailable for embed.

And, as a Friday bonus, the rarely seen uncensored video for the 2002 throw-away single Baby's Got a Temper, complete with its controversial proclamation of a love for the date rape drug, Rohypnol.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Moment of Silence, Please




People: No More Nudity for Kate Winslet/2.19.09

Wealth Care Crisis


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the person who most needs a fist to the throat this afternoon: CNBC über-putz Rick Santelli.

Gawker: The Least Sympathetic Populist Rage Ever/2.19.09

Douchemus Maximus



You knew this was coming. And not a moment too soon.

Dickipedia (A Wiki of Dicks): Joaquin Phoenix

Sit and Stare

Never Tear Us Apart


And here I thought it'd be impossible to go out with less dignity than Michael Hutchence.

Popeater: INXS Singer Fired with Handshake, Back to Living in His Car/2.19.09

Quote of the Week (Honorary Mention)


"Unfortunately, Republicans tend to be just nice guys and they don't always fight back -- and that's one quarrel that I have with Republicans."

-- Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Dingbat), discussing the Obama economic stimulus package and how it will bring about the Apocalypse

(Incidentally, Bachmann goes on to say that thanks to the president's -- wait for it -- "socialist" policies "we're running out of rich people in this country.")

Listening Post



One of the greatest rock and roll songs ever recorded.

The Stones -- Wild Horses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WTF? (Part 1)



So, to be clear, former Arizona Congressman and current Republican mouthpiece J.D. Hayworth blames the meltdown of our economy -- the most comprehensive fiscal crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression -- on evil puppet-master George Soros.

Well, at least he's not insane.

(h/t Cesca)

WTF (Part 2)


From this morning's New York Post (motto: The Best Newspaper on Which To Train Your Dog in the Tri-state Area)

In the words of the Huffington Post:

"At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial."

Look, kids. I'm all for laughing at the inappropriate, and I'm a big fan of pushing the envelope when it comes to comedy; from my perspective, just about anything can be made fun of. But even subtly implying -- or willfully ignoring the fact that a lot of people might infer from your cartoon -- that the first black president of the United States is a chimpanzee, and worse, one that needs to be shot by the cops, is a really fucking bad idea.

You know the media-ready contrived outrage that will almost certainly follow this?

I'm not sure it will be all that contrived this time around.

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: 4,700 (16,305 if you happen to work at Fox News Channel)

Geraldo It!

Listening Post



Any band that reminds me of Lloyd Cole, the Call, and the Waterboys has to be worth a mention around these parts.

Here's the Airborne Toxic Event, with Sometime Around Midnight.

Psy Op



God, I love Scientology. If it weren't for the freight train full of crazy the so-called religion regularly plows directly into the pop culture consciousness, this site would be a lot less interesting.

Scientology and its amusingly unhinged emissaries constitute one of my favorite topics around here. They never fail to let me down.

Case in point:

The Huffington Post: Scientologists Blame Psychiatry for 9/11

Related:

The Huffington Post: Be Wary, Be Wary, the 10th of February/2.1.08

DXM: I'm Tom Cruise, and I'm Going to Crush Your Fucking Skull While Laughing Maniacally/1.18.08

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Next Friday


Sure Jason's back in theaters and making a bloody fortune (pun absolutely intended), but what's next in the Friday the 13th series?

My good friend Steve Bunche -- comic book artist extraordinaire and general pop culture ronin -- offers some truly inspired ideas, including a face-off between Jason and the barely pre-menopausal women of Sex and the City:

"The rest of the film would have Jason getting uselessly shot at by the NYPD, futilely attacked by the Guardian Angels and Curtis Sliwa -- whose head would be torn off and unceremoniously shoved up his ass -- and killing off the SEX & THE CITY gang and their assorted boy-toys one by one -- including a spectacular beheading during a cheesy Broadway revival of FLOWER DRUM SONG, in which Jason tears off the Samantha stand-in's head and dropkicks it onto the stage during the "I Enjoy Being A Girl" number -- until only the horse-faced Carrie stand-in (as played by a Sarah Jessica Parker lookalike, preferably a drag queen) remained."

Trust me: Read the rest of this. It'll make your day.

The Vault of Buncheness: Jason's Back, but What's Next?/2.13.09

Quote(s) of the Week


"Well, we were sitting on the couch, my best friend and Levi, and we had my parents come and sit on the couch, too. And we just sat them down, and I just -- I couldn't even say it. I was just sick to my stomach. And so finally, my best friend just, like, blurted it out. And it was just, like -- I don't even remember it because it was just, like, something I don't want to remember."

-- Bristol Palin on breaking the news of her pregnancy to her family

"It's just, like, I'm not living for myself anymore. It's, like, for another person, so it's different. And just, you're up all night. And it's not glamorous at all. Like, your whole priorities change after having a baby."

-- Bristol Palin on being pregnant

“Everyone should be abstinent, or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.”

-- Bristol Palin on abstinence-only education

"This little baby is very lucky to have her as a mama. He's going to be just fine."

-- Sarah Palin on Bristol Palin

We've Got Issues


Just a heads-up from the management: Apparently the gremlins got out of their cages over at the Blogger servers, and quite a few of the sites hosted there -- mine included -- are noticing that their content columns are vanishing intermittently.

So if you happen to click over here today and find that all the posts have magically disappeared, just wait a few minutes then try again.

Hopefully the problem will be cleared up quickly on Blogger's end.

Dump'd



Oh, I smell a Rock of Love Bus season finale.

CNN.com: Chinese Mistress Contest Takes Tragic Turn When Rejected Woman Drives Contestants Off Cliff/2.17.09

The Nuts are Extra



Yup, this is pretty much the best thing ever.

The Right Stuff


Gotta thank Cesca for leading me to this little gem: the National Review Online's compilation of the supposed "25 Best Conservative Movies."

What exactly makes a movie "conservative" is apparently known only to the brain trust at NRO, which includes the decidedly un-brainy Rich Lowry -- editor of the National Review and the guy who essentially publicly admitted to masturbating during Sarah Palin's vice presidential debate performance (see column below). While the most interesting thing about the list in general is what it subtly says about the effort undertaken by the Review's conservative readers to avoid appearing stereotypically uncultured (obvious choices are avoided: Superman, Top Gun, Die Hard, Norris's The Octagon, the Rambo series, etc.), equally fascinating is what a few of the individual choices say about how conservatives view their role in relation to the U.S. power structure. Put simply, they still, even after the last eight years of oppressive abuses and astonishingly expansive spending by a Republican administration, see themselves as the rag-tag band of rebels fighting the evil empire of big government. How else to justify the appropriation of films like The Lives of Others, 300, or -- in the "also-rans" list and possibly most shocking -- my beloved Serenity.

While scanning the list, look for a couple of truly great "What the Fuck?" moments, like the fact that all three movies by hyper-WASP Whit Stillman are included, as well as The Dark Knight (still pitched as a paean to George W. Bush), United 93 (if you didn't see that one coming...) and, well, Team America (its inclusion proof that brilliant satire ultimately fools those it's targeting).

The National Review Online: The Best Conservative Movies/2.23.09 Issue

Now that I've perused NRO's choices a few times, I can't help but feel like there are quite a few movies that the magazine neglected to mention. Movies that I think should've made the list before, say, Ghostbusters.

How about:

Last Tango In Paris

Features a selfish white guy who delights in bending over complete strangers and screwing them in the ass.

Wall Street

A perfect movie right up until the last ten minutes.

Casablanca

A clever American outwits the Nazis and dumps his foreigner girlfriend.

The Transporter

A white guy in an expensive car lives by a strict code that includes doing what he's told while never asking questions and never bothering to look at what his job entails and whether it's hurting anyone.

Titanic

The uplifting story of an unstoppable white object that sinks a boat full of poor people while most of the rich manage to save themselves -- a fine allegory for either the U.S. government or Wall Street, depending on your perspective.

The Big Chill

Its main character is a dead hippie.

Signs

Mel Gibson defeats illegal aliens.

American Psycho

A Wall Street investment banker murders hookers, homeless people, and other undesirables.

Thelma and Louise

Ends with Susan Sarandon driving off a cliff.

Now it's your turn.

Any more suggestions?

Tuesday is Recycling Day


Rich Lowry: The William F. Buckley of Fuck Talk (Originally Published, 10.4.08) This piece was also published on the Huffington Post, and I'm still shocked at the number of people who thought I was serious.

Conservative columnist Rich Lowry of the National Review is the target of quite a bit of ridicule at the moment thanks to his rather "descriptive" review of Sarah Palin's performance at Thursday's vice presidential debate.

Here's what he wrote yesterday morning:

"Palin... projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, 'Hey, I think she just winked at me.' And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.'"

Now some who read this might regard it as slightly creepy, the seemingly lustful late-night Cinemax pornish ramblings of an overgrown horny teenager -- one who likely typed the words with a single free hand -- directed at his schoolboy fantasy. This is the furthest thing from reality, however, and the criticism and scorn heaped on Lowry has been, in large part, grossly unfair.

As it turns out, Rich Lowry's apparent icky crush on Sarah Palin isn't a crush at all; in fact, he's equally effusive about quite a few other subjects, as evidenced by some of what he's written in the past.

Rich Lowry on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan:

"This thing protects America's economy like crazy. I'm sure that I'm not the only hot-blooded capitalist in this country whose spirits rose when the gavel came down hard in the House and Senate. I'll bet millions of people felt the same way I did last week, that it was captivating to watch the powerful, almost sensuous, undulations of the Dow Jones as it thrust down, then up again, then down again. Over and over, peaking then falling back to collapse in a hot, sweaty mess all over the millions of Americans who were forced to ride it out -- bareback -- and who found themselves hanging on for dear life, wondering if there would be anything left of them when it was all over."

Rich Lowry on the Iraq War:

"Nothing's going to stop the United States' potent injection of democracy deep into the loins of the Middle East. Enthralled by the almost aphrodisiac voices of Generals Petraeus and Odierno, I'm sure my reaction was like most Americans who heard the latest statistics about the overwhelming effects of the surge inside Iraq. Despite several recent explosions into the faces of our strong fighting men and women, the two shining towers of power in the darkest night -- Generals "P" and "O" -- should convince all of us that we can snatch delicious victory from the gaping, yearning mouth of defeat."

Rich Lowry on Cloris Leachman's appearance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars:

"Cloris jumped off the television and into bedrooms and community rec centers across America like a sweet, tall glass of ambrosial prune juice. Her hypnotic moves radiated heat, sending those hot flashes ricocheting around our heads and hearts. And when she bent over and allowed us a look at the deep, dark canyon dividing her glorious 82 year old bosom, I know I wasn't the only man out there to straighten up and think, 'If I had some spelunking cord and a hardhat with a light on it, I could spend hours exploring that gorge.'"

Rich Lowry on Denny's new Mega Grand Slam Breakfast:

"I'll tell you, the warm, soft eggs -- the ones that make my own spongy ovoids tighten -- dripping that savory, gooey yolk. The salty taste of those tender, lubricious sausages -- the ones that make my own meat stand straight as an arrow -- as they slide down the back of your throat. The symphonious pairing of syrupy goodness and buttery richness. I know I'm not the only man who puts something like this in his mouth, swallows, and then says, 'I want more!'"

Rich Lowry on the resignation of Pervez Musharraf and the dangerous destabilization of the Pakistani government:

"I just came."

(To remove all subtext and translate Rich Lowry's flowery praise of Sarah Palin into what he really wanted to say, go here.)