This decade began with a massive worldwide celebration of the New Millennium. Only problem was that it was a year too early. See, time geeks insist that there was no year 0. So 1000 years was up as of 12/31/01. Some of them staged their own goofy celebration featuring fruit punch and charades. Others insist it was like 13 years too late. Seems some years got lost in those early Gregorian calendar years or something.
As of today we're halfway into the decade. The world is in the toilet as the endless War on Tear continues unabated. George W. Bush remains a recluse. I can't remember the last time he gave a nationally televised speech. Maybe it is just as well.
Meanwhile the so-called Greatest Generation is slowly dying off in desolate nursing homes.
But here's the thing: Halfway through, this decade lacks not only a cohesive theme like the dot-com boom went bust of the 90s. The damn thing doesn't even have an agreed-upon name! Let alone a nickname like the Gay 90s (1800s, dude, insert your own joke here) or the Roaring 20s or the Great Depression.
I have yet to hear a person or see a printed word that refers to this faceless, pointless decade.
Aside from the 9/11 debacle, what will it be remembered for? The New England Patriots dynasty?
Happy freakin' New Year, people.
Like Scientology, Kabala is a celeb-friendly, feel-good religion. Madonna and others are way into it. Some have called it Jewishness without all that pesky guilt and nagging. Jewishness without guilt and nagging is like Mariah Carey in a burqa; or Boy George without his trademark makeup.
Problem is, in one of my other writing projects, I have come up empty when it comes to a less lame analogy than those grasping-at-straws above. So help me out here. Complete this sentence: Jewishness without all that guilt and nagging is like...
I’m not living on one of the coasts anymore so forgive me if I may be a little behind on pop-cultural phenomena, but I was reading this article recently about all the hullabaloo about Brokeback Mountain. It was a straight guys guide to the movie, and talked about how watching the gay cowboy movie wont make you one too.
"Phew," I thought.
I’ve liked Jake Gyllenhaal ever since Donnie Darko, Brokeback does look like an interesting movie and I like to have water cooler conversation, but I was a bit leery because it is one of my greatest fears that I might somehow become a, you know, cowboy.
One of the reasons they gave that the movie won’t make you gay is because there are a couple of nude scenes with women! Anne Hathaway, who plays Gyllenhaal's wife, goes topless in the movie during the hetereo love scene that no one is talking about. If Miss Hathaway isn’t in your mental spank bank because you have no idea who she, Anne played the titular role in Princess Diaries.
I bet you are thinking - I never thought I’d see her naked. And to that I’d add a hearty, “Me neither.”
If Lindsay “Oops my nip slipped out again” Lohan has yet to do a (purposeful) nude scene, then this other Disney princess wouldn’t likely make that jump from juvenile to adult entertainment either, right? Luckily, Hathaway must have caught ‘Real Actressitis’ from Halle Berry or Natalie Portman – you know, the disease that makes women say “I’m a serious actress – look, here are my boobs.”
I’ve been looking and looking and haven’t found any of the topless images from Brokeback Mountain yet. Oh sure, I was able to find plenty of images of Heath Ledger’s hairy man ass running around the woods, which just goes to show you that there really is a gay agenda out there. If the gays had their way, it’d be all Will and Grace reruns, show tunes, man ass and not one single tit, much less two. And that is a world I do want to live in.
I wasn’t able to find pictures from Brokeback Mountain, but was able to find numerous examples from the (yet to be released? Straight to video?) movie Havoc, in which Hathaway plays an affluent suburban teenager who gets involved in the L.A. gang cultural, which apparently requires women to be topless most of the time, pleasure themselves on command, and have sex with guys with really bad mustaches.
Hathaway certainly doesn’t have the largest boobs in the world (if I were a different kind of person I might say something like “those min-mountains certainly wont break her back”), but I didn’t think I’d ever see the princess of Genovia’s boobs, and of course they are boobs.
So, to finish my review of Brokeback Mountain, if you are going to break what is supposed to be a complex story about human emotions into being one dimensionally, about gay cowboys, why not make it about a three dimensional one dimensionality – boobs. Go see Brokeback Mountain, whether your there for the queens or for the princess, there is something for every body.
Here it is the day after Christmas. Since the big day fell on a Sunday, today is kind of like an unoffical holiday. Nobody has to work. We're all waking up and realizing that we have new things in our possession.
Myself I have a new insulated leather jacket with a zipper that works. This is exciting because I don't like to wear the down parka that makes me look like the Michelin Man. I am stylin' in my black leather. I'm also pleased with my new firewood carrier/storage thing and my new hearth rug. It'll protect my carpet from embers and wood debris as we shiver away through the winter from hell.
But things didn't go as well on the giving end of it. I got my wife a new down jacket, that doesn't make her look like the Michelin Woman. It has a hood lined in PC fake fur. I thought it was a nice touch but she disagrees. Do I have the receipt? Of course not. As an arrogant man, I was certain she'd love it.
Not to worry. I had the backup gift. It's a Krupp espresso/cappuccino/coffee maker. Which would be just fine if I could figure out how to work the damn thing. It has an instruction manual the size of War and Peace. You could dust it for prints and find none. I presume it is in every language except the one I happen to speak.
It gets worse. There are dire warnings on it about the fact that it has a pressure cooker or boiler type of thing that could explode and cause grievous injury. So not only am I spending my quasi-holiday morn sans espresso or cappuccino, I may die soon as I peer at the inscrutable machine building up steam to the point where a nculear explosion is likely in my kitchen.
Hark! George W Bush, those elusive WMDs are over here. Come on over and we'll have a cup of coffee made from my old, stained, filter-requiring Mr. Coffee machine. And merry Christmas you old fart.
Not "happy holidays."
Annabelle Chong is a porn star who cuts herself to know that she still feels. Self realization through self mutilation has become a modern way of life for many Americans. It's true for me as well. At least that's how I feel when I watch Bill O'Reilly. It feels like a form of intellectual self mutilation. I don't know why I do it, but sometimes I have to turn on the TV just to remind myself what it feels like not to think.
An episode of the Bill O'Reilly show this week had him branding a judge with the labels "anti-religious" and "activist" for ruling that intelligent design (ID) should not be taught in science classes. So by Bill's own admission, ID is a religious concept, and the position that one ought not teach religion in science class makes one anti-religious, as well as someone who takes vigorous agenda-based action against the status quo. I notice he's fond of labels. They sound authoritative and have a way of carrying information without having to be explained or justified. He used the term "secular progressives" to refer to those who agreed with the judge, and to describe a general movement in our society that he appears to have a problem with.
I'm always amazed to see a term used as an implied insult, when I would otherwise have thought that it referred to something good. Progress and freedom are good things, right? How then to explain the implied slander behind being called progressive or liberal?
So Bill doesn't like secular progressives. Shall we refer to him and the people who agree with him as religious regressives? In supporting a position that the state should be able to teach religious dogmatic explanations of the origin of the universe as science in public schools, and deriding those who disagree as activists with an agenda, he begins to sound like some of the governments we're fighting to "liberate" in the middle East. I know the moniker is already taken by that young, repentant, misguided kid from Marin, but maybe we should start referring to Bill O'Reilly as the "American Taliban".
In defense of his position on ID he had a lawyer on the show who described evolution and intelligent design as both "just theories", and that the origin of life happened so long ago that nobody really knows what happened. The idea was that since nobody was there, both theories are equally valid, and the secular progressive bullies are just scheming to beat up on the poor religious folks who simply want to bring a little God into the public schools. Never mind the idea that evolution has a place in science class as a theory because it actually is a theory, a valid result of the scientific method, and supported by evidence. Whereas ID is barely a hypothesis, which makes no testable predictions, doesn't actually explain anything, and as such falls completely outside of the scientific method.
So neither Bill, nor his highly qualified, highly educated lawyer friend appear to know anything about science. Instead of shedding light on the debate, he just makes it worse through his ignorance and generalization. No scientist I know is against discussing intelligent design in public school. Maybe it would be good in a discussion of comparative religion, history, or philosophy. However it's only role in science class would be to teach what science is not.
In another segment he complained that 12 articles in major newspapers devoted to the movie Brokeback Mountain was evidence of a political conspiracy to carry out a homosexual agenda to normalize a deviant lifestyle.
When a movie tells a compelling story that sheds light on the human condition in a way that most people hadn't considered, I'm not at all surprised that it gets attention. Yet to Bill O'Reilly, it's not a human interest thing, it's a political conspiracy thing. Who's spinning now?
No, I don't understand the attraction to O'Reilly. He doesn't make things better, he mangles the issues. He just wants to get that wine into you so he can use his sloppy soapie loofa. Wines and loofa. That's the real O'Reilly factor.
A recent poll showed that men approve of visible panty lines by a margin of 2-1. By contrast, women disapproved of VPL by the same margin. Now the results aren't all that astounding. But the fact that the poll got conducted in the first place is. Do we really live in a world where one man is hunkered down in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, rumbling down a perilous road pockmarked with holes from roadside explosions, while another concerns himself with VPL approval ratings?
The guy who did the poll reached the conclusion that women don't care what men think about their appearances. They dress for one another. And they know that, like visible erect nipples, VPL connotes trashiness. To guys, trashiness translates to "hot."
Like going shopping or getting f-ed in the ass, trashiness is a concept unique to women or gay men. Straight guys simply cannot relate. Otherwise, how could they slouch there in a pool of acrid ass sweat, clad in a wife-beater t-shirt and soiled boxer shorts, scratching their nuts, swilling cheap domestic beer and shouting obscenities at the football game on TV? How could they be soccer hooligans?
Meanwhile the long-suffering missus is upstairs in the kitchen, puttering and doing her best to ignore the lout. (Puttering is another thing unique to females and gay men.) She yells at him about replacing a light bulb or killing a spider, but the TV is so loud he doesn't hear her. Eventually she gives up, replaces the light bulb, kills the spider and goes shopping. She buys a thong so as not to have VPL.
Classy, girl. Now if I could just figure out what to do about that fly in my metaphorical ointment, bisexuals.
I feel dirty. The people of the state of California put someone to death last night. It says a lot about our society when we make a conscious decision to kill someone. It's freakish to sit and listen to a panel of adult witnesses describe the details of an execution just minutes after it happened. The difficulty getting the needles in. The way the prisoner lifted his head to see his supporters on the other side of the glass, and mouth simple phrases of love and support back and forth. The way the guard kept his hand on the prisoner's upper arm during the preparation of the intravenous lines, not out of necessity, but out of a sense of comfort to a person who is about to be killed.
I have several problems with the death penalty. The first is that it's not necessary. We don't have to put people to death for their crimes, but we make a conscious choice to kill them anyway, despite our claims to be a culture which values life. The second is the cold, unscientific and uninformed pessimism by which we declare that people are static, and can not change. The person who committed a crime 25 years ago, and the person being put to death today are identical. There is no deed that can be done, there is no amount of change that can occur, there is nothing to be learned from a mistake. And yet, I can't say this is true of my own experience. I don't think of myself as the same person I was 25 years ago. I know there was a time when I was young and stupid, and capable of all kinds of bad decisions. Thus I don't like it when we say it is true of someone else, and the result is death. If I can see myself making a mistake, how can I disallow it in others?
Last of all, the death penalty is imperfect. We all know it's unevenly applied. It's applied in cases where innocence is possible, and people have been wrongly put to death. We like to call it justice, but I think we mistake it for revenge. I don't think revenge qualifies as a family value, but I doubt the Catholic Church would deny communion to supporters of the death penalty, the way John Kerry was denied communion for being pro-choice.
In the end, revenge via death isn't worth it. Life imprisonment should suffice. I think we all get our hands dirty when we kill people to show people that killing people is wrong. He's dead now, but his body is still warm. It is us who are a little colder.
All we hear about sometimes is how China and Vietnam and Korea have become such high-tech industrialized juggernauts. No more plows being drawn by tired-looking oxen or women taking a break from their ricy paddy toil to birth twins. And yet, whenever the tiresome subject of bird flu comes up on the news they show the same grainy-looking footage of what appears to be roosters milling aimlessly about, pecking at the ground. The video quality is on a par with 80s sitcom reruns or old NFL films. There are, to use techno jargon, too few pixels per sqare inch. It's the antithesis of high def TV.
Although I must say I find the image of crazed Chinese men tearing down some road at 90 kph with cagefulls of squawking old dying chickens on motorbikes fairly amusing.
How fast is 90 kph?
There is a little more to this. Since the imagery we westerners see is so grainy and non-distinct, it makes the whole pandemic debacle thing seem even further away and thus less worthy of any attention.
Why are we the west and they are the far east? Isn't the world round? Couldn't Asians say they're the west and we're the far west? Or east, for that matter?
It was the same way with a debacle that actually happened as the world turned a deaf ear, the massacre in Rwanda. Once again, the available images lacked sufficient pixels so it became easier to shrug it off. Had they had horror movie quality video, maybe somebody would have gotten off their asses and intervened.
Tell me, when you're convicted in the World Kangaroo Court of genocide and extermination, does it really matter that you walked on 8 other counts of crimes against humanity?
So, to paraphrase Sam Kinison's famous "go where the food is, you live in a f-ing desert tirade," if you want to save the world, don't send money. Send camcorders and digcams.
If I hear or read one more story about the so-called War on Christmas I ... well, I won't do anything, because I'm basically not a violent person. But I'm tired of this nonsense. I'm trying to think of a way to respond to the charge that Christians are persecuted in the United States, but I can't come up with anything that makes sense. The president, the veep, almost all of the major officeholders in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, along with better than 80% of the population, are self-identified Christians of one stripe or another. No one is persecuting Christians. What is happening, in a very small way, is that non-Christians are finally insisting that their tax dollars not be used for blatantly religions purposes. Do whatever you want at home, at church, on the street, but when you insist on bringing your religion into City Hall then you're stepping on my toes.
How can I explain how I feel when someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas"? There is no rejoinder I could use as an example - I get the distinct impression that Christians think it's cute when I wish them a "Happy Hanukah". There is no equivalent in the modern Christian world to the crimes that were wreaked upon my people in the name of the Christian god. "Merry Christmas" tells me that I should be happy at the creation of a belief system that has caused my family suffering for uncounted generations. If you think that sparing me that by using "Happy Holidays" is too much to bear, then for all of your complaints of discrimination you don't actually have a clue what it feels like.
It is a huge, vastly unproductive industry. At least a dozen magazines and countless TV shows are devoted to every minute detail of the lives and work of at most 30 people. These people earn their livings reading lines written by other people or singing songs other people wrote. Yes, it's the culture of celebrity. First you get to know them by their first names. Then they shorten them to nicknames. Brit, Jess, Jen. When they couple the names morph into some hideous two-headed beast of myth. The Bennifer. The Brangelina. Bah!
And for all the blather you never know what's true about the chosen few. Just this week it is reported that Jess dumped Nick but also that she is overjoyed that she can now offer him a "baby bump." And you can say you don't care but someone sure does. Who buys all those mags? You do.
Celebs have a short shelf life. Back in the days when she was married to Dennis and/or Randy Quaid, Meg Ryan was all the rage. But then she got depixifed by cramming her greedy fingers down the trousers of Russell Crowe and she was history. I think she's bagging groceries in like, Des Moines.
God knows they never have anything interesting to say. The sole exception being that red carpet encounter with Billy Bob with Angelina all disheveled and ravaged-looking by his side. With a shit-eating grin he divulged that he'd fucked her in the limo on the way over. Aside from that it's all the same ol' we're so in love, we just couldn't reconcile our differences but will remain friends, so respect our privacy, he's a creative genius, so is she, we're naming our kid Smelly Arm so he'll be Smelly Arm Pitt-Jolie, George W Bush is Satan incarnate and blah blah blah.
Ah but this could change. We could humanize our little pet persons. For instance:
Nancy O'Dell: So Brad, you've hooked up with two of the most beautiful women in the world. How would you compare the two?
Brad: Well, Jen had her moments but she was kind of shy about swallowing. She's Greek but won't take it up the ass. And let's face it she can look kind of mannish at times. Angelina's name takes too long to moan during sex. Also, you know that saying, "she thinks her shit don't stink?" Well, trust me, hers does. One night we had tacos and some beers and man, the next morning our master bedroom smelled like Hiroshima after the fire. We had to have everything torn out. Now we have separate bathrooms in separate houses.
Nancy O'Dell: You still smoking weed?
Brad: No, I've moved on to freebasing. You want a hit?
Nancy O'Dell kneels.
Fade to black.
Most people would describe me as a pretty easy-going kind of guy. This is probably large due to the fact that I’m really a pretty easy-going kind of guy. Which makes it safe to say that if I admit to hating something, I really do despise it with a rare passion.
Because of this, there are very few things that I will actually admit to hating. Some of those things include: mean people, women in flannel pajamas, Belgians, smooth jazz, and cold weather.
So, for the same reason that you probably wouldn’t find me eating waffles or enjoying time in an elevator, you probably would assume I’d never move somewhere known for its bone chilling, soul crushingly cold winters.
Yet, here I am, a new resident of Chicago.
To be honest, I’m not a resident of Chicago, rather a resident of “Chicagoland,” an area including the suburbs and surrounding towns that stretches all the way into Indiana and Wisconsin. But, that really doesn’t change the fact that I’m in for a yearly average of 120 days, four full months, of below freezing temperatures, and that including today’s 4-6 inches it has already snowed five times (and there are still two weeks before the official start of winter!).
I don’t like the snow and I hate the cold. But here I am.
I read this on BoingBoing, and it got me thinking about the depth of government responsibility in our society. We don't live in a socialist country. While we may have an agency devoted to disaster management, the government has zero actual obligation to help anyone when fires, earthquakes, or natural disasters hit. Nor, I should point out, does the government have an obligation to bail out corporations when they're threatened with extinction because of competition, circumstance, or their own incompetence. Under our system, it is up to the people themselves to either put money by or buy insurance to protect themselves from this kind of thing, and if they don't or can't then private citizens should feel free to help them, but the government should not.
I'm not saying this is fair or right. I'm something of a moderate socialist myself, so I believe that the government can have a positive role to play in helping people get on their feet and in equalizing what looks like a bigger gulf between rich and poor than ever. But that's not our government, not the one that we've had since the New Deal and not the one that we have now. If you believe the government should do more to help the victims of Katrina then you don't believe in laissez faire, and that's just fine by me. But that also entails a big change in the way we think about our relationship with the government; our current system, with its various Band-Aids to help the poor and victimized, isn't up to the task.
Clumsy me. I dropped John Updike's Memoirs of the Ford Administration in the tub. I was only halfway through it. Since the book is 13 years old and yellowed, this pretty much rendered it unreadable. Oh well, I know how it turns out. All his books are the same. I never buy them, I just pilfer them from my father-in-law's extensive collection.
The most famous of these wistful, almost fatalistic accounts are the Rabbit trilogy. In these he is married to Janice and they live a humdrum domestic life. She's neurotic and mousy. Even her name is mousy. All the wives have mousy names like Janice or Norma. Eventually he takes up with some younger exotic chick with an exotic name like Gwennivere or Maria. Before long he's shacked up with her but still vaguely unhappy.
As time goes on he grows irritated with her little quirks, usually something associated with the younger generation. He's both fascinated and repulsed by the avid way she swallows or her failure to shave her unerarms. The seed of discontent is planted and it grows into a massive oak of resentment and retaliation. He skulks back to the mousy wife and his maladapted kids. But it is never the same. Always there's that underlying suspicion and jealousy.
I tend to think Updike is one of those nit-picking fault-finders who are chronically unhappy. Then again, he's a filthy rich one trick pony. If he finds himself sinking into a funk he can always buy himself a new Mercedes or BMW. The rest of us don't have those options.
In some ways I guess I can relate to his story. I had a similar experience, though my wife is anything but mousy and she is certainly not neurotic. And in my case the quirk of girl #2 that irked me so was her excessive f-ing fondness for my friends.
The moral to the story: Hell if I know. But it doesn't hurt if you can work some alliteration into the mix.