Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dad Gets Me Out of the House

Ever since I got back from college, my father, who for four years totally freaked every time I left Morningside Heights, has been pushing me out of the house. He doesn't like how I'm such a loner, not that I'm a huge fan of the lifestyle either. I think he's afraid he'll turn on the network news some day ten years from now and see one of my future neighbors saying, "He seemed like such a shy, quiet guy. I had no idea he sacrificing prostitutes to the demon-god Mithra in his basement." But that'll never happen; Dad doesn't watch the network news.

Anyway, on a pretty regular basis, Dad interrupts my mid-morning or mid-afternoon naps, or both, with some press release about a local play reading or concert or the latest installment of the Rutgers Film Society Anthology. He believes if I go to these events on a regular basis, I'll make friends and life won't be such a drudge. I, the eternal optimist, don't share his belief, which is working out relatively well for me, as Dad is now bribing me to get out of the house. Last Wednesday, he said he'd rent me a video if I went to this staged reading in Maplewood; today, if I went to Starbucks and drank my latte there, he'd pay for it.

So I did.

Dad tells me that people my age hang out at Starbucks, and I tell him that he couldn't tell a 23-year-old from someone barely passing eighth grade. I hang my head and admit that Dad was right: there was this girl there reading who graduated from college last May after spending a year abroad in Melbourne. I know she was in Melbourne because her shirt said "Melbourne" on it. And I know she graduated last May and spent a year abroad cause some guy who's suave and urbane in every way that I'm not sat down next to her and began chatting her up.

I'm sitting there in one of those giant Starbucks lounge chairs, all by my lonesome, drinking my vanilla latte, going over and over again in my mind: She's reading a freaking book, dude! That's the universal international symbol for "Don't bother me, I'm reading a freaking book."

He doesn't care. "Are you from around here?" he asks, totally forgetting about the entire Sunday New York Times he ostensibly meant to read but probably just carries around so naive recent college grads will think he's sophisticated.

"Do you live around here?" she asks. She just moved to Scotch Plains and he, surprise surprise, has lived here for a while. Thankfully, I'm almost done with the damn latte, so I can leave Starbucks content with the knowledge that total strangers hooked up today, and that neither of those strangers was me.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Crackers

After my venture two weeks ago into Central Park's conceptual art world, I felt that my views on The Gates had been disregarded and slighted by the larger art community. Looking for support, I turned to Anne, who, unfortunately for me, is majoring in art and specializing in sculpture... so she sees things a little differently than I do. Anne (of course) also checked out The Gates; she had a different reaction to the orange monstrosities: namely, she didn't think they were orange monstrosities. She found a walk among The Gates to be calming, much more calming than hearing about my plan to glitter Central Park and call it art.

Despite ostensibly pissing her off, I found our discussion of the art world pretty enlightening. As an art student, Anne's learned to engage with a piece of artwork simply as it is. Compare that to me, who, as a bitter Ivy League graduate with no job prospects, brings a lot of extra context to the art. For example, there's the $21 million price tag for The Gates, money which, without getting into the complexities of the issue, I'm sure could be put towards better use. To me, The Gates exemplifies everything I can't stand about our celebrity-worshipping mediocrity-approving dumb-fuck follow-the-leader pathetically ovine society. Like The Gates: it may be impressive in scope, but Christo made the project enormous in order to mask its utter lack of artistry. When I say "I could do that!" I don't mean I have the metalworking skills to construct such a project (I don't, and neither does Christo) but rather that I'm capable of producing the artistic vision embodied in the work.

The only thing The Gates has that my hypothetical glitter project lacks is the name of an "artist" attached to it, and it just seems like name-dropping shouldn't define art. Nowhere else in the world do people get away with this; if you go into heart surgery and come out with your leg amputated, the surgeon can't say, "Well, I'm a professional doctor, so it's okay that I needlessly cut your leg off."

It's with this background that I went to the Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday afternoon, where I came across the following. It's by some weenie named Jeff Koons, it's called New Shelton Wet/Dry Doubledecker, and it's only fitting that it gets a paragraph all to itself:

It's a vacuum cleaner in a glass box over fluorescent lights with — and here's the genius part — an identical vacuum cleaner in an identical glass box on top of it. Bernini is rolling over in his grave. Here's what the curators at the MoMA, who are clearly on crack, have to say about the vacuums:
Jeff Koons is one of countless artists whose work would not have taken the road it did without Warhol's precedent. [Another great artistic visionary. Soup. Gee, who'd have thought of that? — Jay] His art presents a profoundly ambiguous statement on American consumerism. New Shelton Wet/Dry Doubledecker (1981) deploys two identical professional-grade vacuum cleaners, illuminated by fluorescent lights and stacked iconically in plexiglass cases. Machines that exist to function have been neutered, vacuums placed in a vacuum — a status as self-contradictory as the machines' "wet dry" inscription. Koons presents without judgment the American fetishization of the new, the perfect. What could be cleaner than a new appliance, one intended to take in dirt but that will never be dirtied? Koons's presentation of these oddly anthropomorphic appliances takes no position — the work can be read as critique or celebration.
Uh. Yeah. Whatever. Vacuum cleaners. Did anybody bother to parse that paragraph before plastering it on the museum wall?

What we really have here is some asshole who was paid a ridiculous sum of money to stack vacuum cleaners ("iconically," whatever that means) on top of each other, the MoMA's art psychobabble and doublespeak notwithstanding. Saying that Koons's so-called "statement on American consumerism" is "profoundly ambiguous" — not merely ambiguous but deeply, intensely ambiguous — is nothing but a rhetoric defense against the not-unfounded charge that New Shelton adds nothing to the discussion on American consumerism.

Q: Jeff, what exactly does New Shelton Wet/Dry Doubledecker say about the ways in which people, Americans in particular, consume?

A: Well, Mr. Art Critic, my statement on American consumerism is so profoundly ambiguous it can't be expressed in words. It can only be expressed through vacuums in boxes.

Just to be clear here, it's not like there aren't statements to be made about American consumerism. But perhaps the reason Koons's statement is so ambiguous is that he's not actually making one.

I don't understand it: I, for one, am actually expressing statements about the American way of life, and I haven't been contacted by a single artistic institution yet. Maybe if I started writing blather, I'd better further my career as an artist.

Koons presents "the American fetishization of the new, the perfect" because nothing could be cleaner than a new vacuum, but he presents that fetishization without judgment. He bravely "takes no position" on America's vacuum fetish. Indifference noted.

Now, I can present concepts in an indifferent and emotionless manner, too, if I want to. Example: calculus. Another example: today is Saturday. Another: some people like winter, others prefer summer. Where's my Genius Grant at?

Maybe Koons gets his vacuums in the museum by pulling off a trick even more self-contradictory than the machines' "wet dry" inscription (which, of course, isn't self-contradictory at all... it's a graphic design oversight and the inscription is supposed to read "wet/dry," with a slash) or the "vacuums in a vacuum" (again, not self-contradictory). Despite Koons's "[taking] no position" on his thesis and presenting the vacuums "without judgment," somehow the work nevertheless "can be read as critique." In case anyone from the MoMA happens to be reading this, the editor in me needs to point out that a critique, by definition, must take a position. I know it sounds all avant-garde and academic to say that something can be read as critique, but reading New Shelton as critique is even more pointless and non-sensical than Koons's statement on American consumerism.

That leaves reading the work as celebration. A non-judgmental celebration of the American fetishization of the clean, the perfect. Let's par-tay, bitches.
Me: ...but I could make that.

Mom: But you didn't make that.

Me: Well, if I'd known it would've gotten into a museum, I would have made it.

Get Your Tivo Ready

I just have to point out that tonight at 11 PM on the Discovery Health Channel, they're showing something called You Swallowed What? If you want to know what you're missing, here's a little blurb from the DHC website:

Meet people who bite off more than they can chew in this examination of just how much the stomach can take. An Australia boy swallows a squid hook with 32 razor-sharp barbs and a sword swallower attempts to break the world record.
How fucking awesome is that?

From the same people who brought you — and I'm not making this up — When Anesthesia Fails and When Surgical Tools Get Left Behind.

I've got a few more show ideas for DHC, cause as you can tell, they're in serious need of some. How about When Dialysis Machines Break Down? Or When Hospital Food Goes Bad?

Friday, February 25, 2005

I've said this before, but our local video rental place, Palmer Video, really needs to hire someone to stand at their exit and beat the living shit out of anyone who rents cinematic abominations like Alien Vs Predator or Kangaroo Jack 2: G'Day U.S.A. I'd be more than willing to do that job gratis. It's all that I can do to watch some parent suggest to their kids that they rent Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies and not report the asshole to Child Services.

Still, Palmer Video isn't Blockbuster, which is single-handedly responsible for the dumbing down of Hollywood thanks to their refusal to rent out NC-17 rated movies. So that's one thing Palmer's got going for it. (Wal-Mart is also pretty evil in this regard, not to mention extremely evil in many others.)

Anyway, it's with that background that I went to Palmer last Wednesday to rent the fourth disc of HBO's underrated series The Wire, which I strongly recommend checking out. Since I was there, I figured I'd take a look at the recently released Wonderfalls DVD. But to my dismay, amidst many, many copies of The Whole Ten Yards and a slew of WWF grudge matches, there was not a single copy of Wonderfalls.

So I did what any good consumer would do, and I wrote to Palmer:

Why do you have like nine copies of "White Chicks," but I can't find a single copy of "Wonderfalls?"
And yesterday, Palmer Video employee and resident movie yes-man Scott sent me the following response:

From: "Palmer Video"
Subject: RE: Contact Us
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 11:50:56 -0500

because like wonderwalls just got released and we like haven't recieved
it yet due to delays at our distributor
White chicks is actually a theater release and rents like crazy but i will
get A single copy of wonderfalls for rental as soon as possible.
Have a great day
Now, Scott, there is like no possible way I can have a great day knowing that like White Chicks "rents like crazy." Maybe if you didn't overstock crap like that, people would rent something better. Or at least something different, like the latest flick where Tara Reid plays a blonde bimbo or something.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I caught this headline in today's never-sensationalized New York Post: FBI 'MOBILIZES' IN PROBE OF PARIS HILTON HACK ATTACK.

Thank God.

I can rest easy tonight, knowing that both the FBI and the Secret Service are taking time off from stopping Al-Qaeda to find out who splashed our nation's most precious semi-retarded heiress's little black book all over the internet.

Someone hacked into Paris Hilton's Blackberry and posted all her phone numbers on the internet. Yeah... Paris said, "I haven't felt this violated since three days ago." —Conan O'Brien

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Do me a favor. Next time you're watching American Idol and some soul-selling twenty-something wannabe pop star is up on stage singing something so easy listening the "Lite FM" deejays think it's saccharine, pay attention to how indifferent the audience is. These poor people standing around in the crowd look like they got stood up at karaoke night and now they're stuck watching some Japanese dude in a suit two sizes too small butcher "Ironic." It's very sad to think that nevertheless, more people voted for the last American Idol than in the last presidential election.

All new FOX special: Stars Without Makeup ("See the stars looking their worst!"), Thursday at 9 :-)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Have you checked out the government's revised dietary guidelines? You know, the one that suggests we all eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. It used to be five servings daily, but I guess Americans are such lard-asses that wasn't cutting it. When these new guidelines don't slim down America's waistline, the government will put us all on a strict diet of tofu and Vitamin Water, injected directly into our veins.

Another section of the new dietary guidelines recommends ninety minutes of exercise daily, which is nothing short of frustrating. People have jobs and social lives, we have to commute and stand in line at the bank and call Domino's and get put on hold for half an hour; who has time to devote ninety minutes to "medium-intense activity?" I know that after sleeping for ten hours, eating breakfast (no servings of fruits and vegetables), masturbating for three hours, taking a two-and-a-half hour nap, and spending seven hours watching TV, I barely have time for an hour of exercise.

However, I do try to spend about fifty-five minutes at the gym, three times a week, mostly because there are no women in form-fitting workout clothes for me to ogle in my house. This leads me to my three-point plan for getting America in shape:

  • Point 1: Attractive members of your gender of choice. It's pretty easy to disappoint prospective exercists. I mean, I just caught this commercial for Bally's fitness clubs and apparently Bally's is full of hot women under thirty aerobicizing. Okay, I don't know about Bally's, but ninety percent of the people working out at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA are on social security and, to be blunt, are pretty damn ugly. The more considerate ones wear sweatpants. This leads me to point two, which is...
  • Point 2: Shame. Ever see that Maury Povich with that seven-hundred pound guy who was too fat to get out of his house? That was hilarious — in a pathetic way. Plaster his picture around the gym as a warning. Thinking about getting off that Stairmaster? Not anymore, you're not.
  • Point 3: Cookie dough ice cream. Life's too short to follow the food pyramid. Even shorter with the fatty snacks.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Who's The Greatest American Ever?
I'm pretty sure it's not me...

Have you seen these "Greatest American" commericals on the Discovery channel? They want you to go online and vote for who you think is the greatest American ever. To help you out, the Madison Avenue geniuses who came up with this ad assembled a panel of average-looking Americans. By which I mean, of course, that these panelists' skin colors are as diverse as their attitudes are conformist and non-confrontational. (No one seems to believe that John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry or Larry Flynt's defense of free speech rights merits consideration for a greatest American award.) Since Americans don't know shit about history, these panelists make suggestions: one mentions Rosa Parks, another mentions George Washington. Both good choices.

And then there's this fat middle-aged white guy proudly announcing his choice — Katie Couric.


Not that Katie Couric hasn't made great contributions to America in the form of mind-rotting early-morning celebrity interviews and changing her hairstyle every year or so, but you couldn't think of one person who'd made greater contributions to the country? Let me help you out, Whitey: how about Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr or Ben Franklin. I mean, is Matt Lauer not a great enough American to be nominated for this incredibly insipid award?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Completely Impartial Review of The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005

If you've been following the pulse-pounding world of conceptual art, you're probably aware that the artist Christo unveiled his latest masterpiece that a five-year-old could've come up with, a $21 million project concisely titled The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005. Christo, you'll recall, is listed in the Directory of Folks Who Don't Think They Need a Last Name as the guy who once draped the Reichstag in fabric and lined California's Trejo Pass with 1,760 yellow umbrellas, one of which collapsed and killed a woman. I guess that little fact is neither here nor there.

Seems like Mr. Christo's idea here involved draping these orange curtains —— I mean, saffron curtains —— over many of Central Park's footpaths. I believe there's something like seven thousand of these curtain structures throughout the park, which is enough fabric to make something like fifteen hundred prison jumpsuits. In my own opinion, The Gates is, in a word, overhyped. When I got to the park, there was a big sales table set up and a huge crowd clamoring to spend their hard-earned money on Gates merchandise. It's not like the installation isn't nice enough or not impressive in scope, but I'd stick my head in a bucket of ice water if I ever considered purchasing a Gates t-shirt. (Actually, I probably should've stuck my head in ice water when I thought hiking through the park in the middle of February was a smart idea.)

Let me describe the Gates experience for you. You come into the park, and there's an orange shower curtain thing set up above you. And then there's another one. And another one. And another one. And another one. And you look to your left, and there's more curtains. And to your right, more shower curtains. And they're orange. What a surprise.

I am kind of surprised that no one's put any stickers promoting their garage band or calling Bush the devil on The Gates' gates. In New York, just about anything that doesn't move is considered fair game for tagging.

Official Gates guides patrol the park, looking for anyone who needs more information about the art. You can ask them questions like, "What the fuck?" and "This is art?" and "Do you have any drops I can put in my burning eyes?" Stuff like that.

To give credit where credit's due, when the wind hits the Gates just right, the curtains take on these interesting billowy forms that echo down the entire path. They're pretty cool. Not twenty-one million dollars cool, but cool.

I was in the park for a little less than an hour and a half, and now I won't be unhappy if I never see orange again.

I realized that this Christo guy and his wife, the similarly surname-less Jeanne-Claude, have a pretty good scheme going here. They set up this rather pedestrian artwork that any moron could conceptualize, even a moron that doesn't know what "conceptualize" means, and evidently they make a good living doing it. They funded the whole Gates project on their own, and Christo even has the ego to drop his last name... because I can't think of any more important figure with that name. Certainly no one who's the son of God come to save humanity from our sins. I'd like to get in on this conceptual art bullshit, and I even came up with an idea. I'm gonna go and glitter all of Central Park — the trees, the roads, the lakes, everything. I'll call it The Glitter, Central Park, New York City, 2005. And I'm gonna drop my last name, too. So from now on, it's just "Jay," please.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I'm Not The Superficial One!

I've been having some trouble landing a job, and while I have a couple of theories about why, those theories probably say more about my neurotic fantasies than they do about the reality I present to my prospective employers. I worry, as do those irritating progenitors of mine, that I just don't quite look the part, although my parents and I have different ideas about what exactly that means. Let's see: I never bothered to find out how tall I am, but my driver's license says I'm five-foot-five. I'm still getting acne. Sometimes I get carded trying to get into an R-rated movie. I hardly think I'm the only twenty-three-year-old who can still pass for a high school student, but most of my brethren are in Los Angeles, working as extras on The O.C. or Veronica Mars.

So maybe I need to come off as, well, my age, before they'll take me seriously as a candidate. Step one: I tuck my shirt into my pants. This creates the illusion that I've gained a few inches and also makes it more likely people will mistake me for Jerry Lewis. And not the tubby modern-day Jerry Lewis but the Jerry Lewis that the French love. Step two: I wear a tie. I managed to tie the motherfucker all by myself, because I'm a big boy. It chokes me, but that's okay because it's not as if I'm going to need air during my job interview. Step three: I wear a blazer. I actually skip step three partly because my blazer is midnight blue and makes me look like I'm a yacht captain and partly because the helpful salesdude at the Men's Wearhouse where I bought the jacket pointed out that one of my shoulders is higher than the other, so now I'm gonna be self-conscious about that forever. Step four: Wear freshly-polished loafers. I don't own loafers, so I'm gonna have to stick with sneakers.

Mom is thrilled that I wore a tie. She's convinced that I'm not a getting a job because my idea of appropriate job interview attire is anything that didn't come off the men's activewear shelf at Old Navy. For my part, I'd much prefer to not get the job because I'm underqualified rather than underdressed. Turns out I need not worry about that.

My interview is a bust. Shockingly, the tie does not make me any more articulate, or engaging, or enthusiastic. It doesn't improve my resume or my work experience. The tie does, however, wander too close to a toilet and get a pee stain on it, which I'm sure will never come out and will require that I burn the cursed strip of linen, all of which is fine by me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

In Education News...

I caught this report on CNN, home of Wolf Blitzer and The Mole's Anderson Cooper, about a decision by the Staunton, Virginia school board endorsing off-site Bible study for elementary schoolkids during school hours. I, for one, couldn't care less if these kids are playing hookie for God, although I don't think the program's really working that well. According to CNN, the eighty-five percent of kids in the Bible study program tend to ostracize the fifteen percent who don't participate. I searched my Bible, but I can't find the passage where Jesus tells His followers to treat the non-devotees as lepers. Maybe it's in the King James Version...

Anyway, they interviewed one of the moms who can't believe that there are Americans — in Staunton, Virginia, her own community, no less — who believe kids shouldn't be taken out of school for religion classes. She has a theory, wholly unfounded, of course: "I hope they aren't persecuting us because we're Christian."

And with that comment, I can only pray that this self-centered bitch receives a divine beat-down from God. No, Lady, they're not persecuting you because you're Christian. They're not persecuting you, period. You and your crazy, pseudo-victimized Christian friends make up an overwhelming majority of the population; there's absolutely nowhere in America where Christians are persecuted. If you want to see some real persecution, why don't you head down to Kosovo or Saudi Arabia or Tamil Nadu in India. Or better yet, spend a week as a Muslim in America. Try getting through airport security, then complain about the opposition to your Bible study.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Have a Schadenfreude-Filled Valentine's Day

Great. It's Valentine's Day. I won't say that I've always hated this day, but once I hit middle school and they stopped giving out those cheesy Valentine notes to everyone and started giving out carnations to the pretty people, Valentines Day started sucking amazingly. And not in the good way, either. By seventh grade, I caught on and started sending carnations to myself, just so my astonished classmates would say, "Somebody gave you a carnation?!" Even while Anne and I were dating, I still hated this holiday, although only on principle. Nothing more romantic than principles, right?

This is the first Valentines Day in something like fifteen years I haven't spent around my less-principled peers nailing all sorts of tail while I send myself carnations. (The fact that I'm calling it "tail" might explain why I'm not so lucky in the world of love.) There are two more things mollifying me this Valentines Day. The first is the existence of venereal disease, which I for one won't be contracting. And of course, tonight's the Westminster Dog Show. I have mixed feelings about these dog shows.... On the one hand, there's my cooing affection for every dog paraded around Madison Square Garden. My apologies to the entire human race, but I much prefer dogs to people and I've got nothing but contempt for the snooty purity-Nazis at Westminster naming their poor dogs Champion Lady Margaret of Cunningshire Waltzes or Kevin or something stupid like that. (Seriously, the Suffolk spaniel at last year's Westminster was named Kevin. What kind of freakwad names their dog Kevin???)

Just as in the human world, it's the most dolled-up frou-frou pedigree that invariably wins Westminster. Never the most loyal dog or the friendliest or the dog with the best sense of humor.

When I get my first puppy down at the animal shelter, I'm not going to be looking at the animal's breeding. I'm looking for a dog that I can bond with, one who's cerebral and introspective and who likes long conversations about our feelings and spending hours in Barnes and Noble without buying anything.

I heard some woman on the radio complain about being single in her thirties on Valentines Day, and at first I felt a sort of kindred spirit with her: see, I'm not the only person unattached on Valentines Day. And then there was a tad of resentment. Wait a second, I thought, why is she single? Not why isn't she married or why isn't she engaged or why isn't she in a meaningful long-term relationship — you need to find the specific right person for one of those — but what's so wrong with this woman that not one man in all of central New Jersey will ask her out. Is she hideous?

Seven seasons of Sex and the City have made me skeptical. It's more likely that she's just plain picky and petulant, that she's looking for the same sort of fairy tale relationship that Carrie eventually found — he's handsome, urbane, and, oh yeah, "the next Donald Trump" (which would kind of negate his handsome and urbane qualities). Honey, that's fiction. Your soulmate probably won't rank very high in the pantheon of great men, and I'm spending all my sympathy on your unfortunate soulmate who's out there waiting for you to come back to reality.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Problem Solver

I have a new idea for a freelance position, borne out of myriad failed job interviews and a compulsive need to perfect the world. See, interview after interview, my prospective employer gives me some idea of what the company does and how they do it, and, invariably, the company screws up their product or service in some blatantly obvious way. I want to save my good examples of this for some other time, but here's a lousy example of what I'm talking about. I interviewed at this place called Forex Capital Markets. They make software that allows your average Joe Bag-o'-Donuts to gamble away his life savings in the international currency market, trading dollars for Swiss francs or Euros for yen. It's a great idea, or at least a great concept, opening up a new segment of the economy to folks who'd traditionally been excluded. There's just one teeny-tiny problem, which you might have caught onto if you tried to muddle your way through Forex's explications of margins and dealing spreads — the currency market is absolutely inscrutable without a master's in economics.

And like I've said before, most Americans couldn't tell the stock market from a flea market.

Just an example. So here's my idea. It's a sort of consulting thing; companies hire me as a problem-finder and, for a modest fee, I'll point out every one of their inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and just plain thick-headed business practices. I'll even try to solve some of their problems, but, truth be told, I imagine I'll be enjoying the complaining and criticizing parts of the job than I'll enjoy fixing things.

Anyway, if you want me to come criticize you or your business, send along an email. First complaint free.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Innocuous decapitated mannequins or part of an insidious plot to turn our children gay? You decide.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Crimes Against Fashion

The Virginia legislature just passed a law making it illegal for kids to wear baggy, low-riding pants with their underwear exposed over the top. We learned about this from a CNN news report this morning, naturally accompanied by pictures of anonymous American asses and their overexposed rear ends. Just in case anyone's unfamiliar with the latest fashions.

Here's the story: It seems a Virginia delegate named Algie Howell, who, from the name alone, I'm willing to bet is an old geezer, was getting a lot of complaints from his constituents about the kids these days with their drawers hanging out their pants and their loud music going ba-bum ba-bum ba-bum. I get that last part from my grandmother, who, back then, had nice music like Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Welk. Algie believes that it's not Osama or the failure of social security that'll be the end of this great nation; it's exposed underwear. "To vote for this bill would be a vote for character," says Algie, "to uplift your community and to do something good not only for the state of Virginia, but for this entire country."

Thankfully, the ACLU is on the case, although I've got a better solution than litigation. The law only prohibits people from exposing their underwear in a "lewd or indecent manner." So I think we should all march on Virginia, underwear-free, wearing assless chaps in protest of the new law. Well, not me. I have a sense of shame. But if you're comfortable with your pants down anyway, why not try to protect your rights to do so?

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Positive Feedback

Finally, someone gave me a review without calling me ugly. It's from one of our hardly-working civil servants whose parents most likely did not name him/her Anonymous:

Trying to fake-it through a work day for a government employee is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to do when reading your're a funny kid! Keep entertaining me at work and I'll work extra hard to piss away your tax dollars! THANK YOU!

This blogging thing was so much easier before I had a fan base. Much more pressure. Gotta be funny. Life was much easier before folks had expectations of me.

There's this kid on trial down in South Carolina for (allegedly) killing his grandparents with a shotgun and then burning their house down. The facts aren't really in dispute; instead, the kid claims that the Zoloft he was taking made him do it. Just for that, I hope they nail the little bastard to the wall — not only for the murders but, more to the point, for refusing to take responsibility for his actions, shifting the blame to the pill like he's some sort of automaton.

The defense claims the kid was suffering from restlessness, some condition technically called "akathisia," and that he heard voices — or more precisely, his voice — telling him to kill his grandparents. The prosecution notes that the grandparents disciplined the kid for fighting on the school bus, and they contend that the kid shot his grandparents because he was pissed off. I don't disagree with either argument, and I wouldn't be surprised if the kid really was suffering side effects from the Zoloft. Thing is, once you've passed the gorilla and chimp stage of our evolution, you can no longer just do whatever the voices in your head tell you to do. I mean, we've all fantasized about killing people before, and most of us either buy Grand Theft Auto or we join the army where you get medals for that kind of thing. I, personally, write stories, burning literary effigies of those I hope God strikes down sooner rather than later.

Point is, you don't actually follow through with your deepest, darkest impulses, no matter how restless you are, because, aside from the Golden Rule, we just can't have a society where everyone's killing everyone else over every little thing. I believe that this kid, despite whatever the psychologists (who I'm sure have been generously paid by the defense) say, shot his grandparents because he was angry and he thought he'd never be called to account for what he did. The drugs might have made it easier for him to ignore whatever shreds of conscience the kid has, but if you're going to blame the drugs, then you might as well say that if the shotgun weren't present, he wouldn't have murdered his grandparents. Or if his grandparents were elsewhere he wouldn't have murdered them. We have to deal with the circumstances we're given, and this kid just didn't want to bother. Instead of getting rid of the drugs, he got rid of the grandparents... and then blamed the drugs, which just makes me sick.

Monday, February 7, 2005

I caught Digging Up The Truth on the History Channel, which seemed like a cool premise. They follow this adventurer guy Josh around exotic locations as he searches for lost treasure, Indiana Jones style. This week, Josh was hunting for the Ark of the Covenant the Indy way: by interviewing random priests and monks who all claim to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy whose brother heard something about a guy who saw the Ark a few years back. So you think there's a story here. Josh starts at Mount Sinai, then goes to the Temple of Jerusalem, then announces he's found this church where they have a real life Ark of the Covenant. Break for commercial.

We're back, and it turns out the whole church with the real life Ark was just a red herring. Every Ethiopian Orthodox church has a replica of the Ark since some Ethiopian king took the Ark back home with him after a trip to Jerusalem. Very funny, Josh, getting my hopes up of seeing some Ten Commandments and then letting me down. It's off to Ethiopia.

Long story short, Josh braves floods, storms, hippos, and bandits, getting closer and closer to the Ark, visiting places that once housed the Ark and still house some of the Ark's travel accessories. Eventually, Josh and his guide wind up in this little Ethiopian village, and there's this little temple there, and they stop at the front gate, and.... Well, they claim that the Ark's in that temple, but no one's allowed past the front gate except the Guardian, a priest with a rather limited worldview who never goes beyond the gate. Certainly, we mere television viewers aren't holy enough to get a look at the Ark.

What a jip! First of all, who the hell knows what's in that temple? They probably get the dirty cable channels in there or something and they don't want anybody to know. I mean, I could claim that I have a unicorn in my room but no one's allowed in to see it, and you wouldn't believe me. (At least, you shouldn't believe me.) I'm not gonna take that Guardian at face value until I can see the Ark for myself, cause if you see it on TV, then it's gotta be true.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Did you all see the "Puppy Bowl" on the Animal Planet channel? No, of course not, you were too busy watching big, sweaty men pile on each other. But if you weren't watching the Superbowl, FCC-sanitized for your protection, the Puppy Bowl was a viable alternative and doubtless the cutest thing ever broadcast. I'm not quite sure what the point of the Puppy Bowl is or how your dog wins it or why it even needs to be a "Bowl." It's basically six hours of puppies playing with, sniffing, and humping each other to the unoffensive sound of elevator music, complete with instant replay and a gratuitous field-level "puppy cam." Every now and then, a John Madden-ish guy makes some non-sensical announcement like, "If you think these puppies are the best of the best, take a look at this," before cutting to a computer-animated pterodactyl or something.

The best part of the Puppy Bowl (okay, the second best part — those puppies are so cuuuuuute.... awwww) is the referee. He doesn't keep a twenty pound labrador from beating up on a three pound French bulldog, but he does come on the field occasionally to announce where the dogs crapped on the field. Gotta wonder what the audition for that role was like.

Gotta wonder how many desperate actors there were willing to take that role.

Gotta wonder why you can't toilet train a dog like you can a cat.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Liberal Weenies

I was watching a thrilling half-debate/half-confrontation thing on The Abrams Report on MSNBC. Dan was talking about those prurient Superbowl ads, and Dan's panel discussing the topic included some advertising industry lobbyist bent on subverting our children's moral fabric, a right-winger psycho-Christian who desperately needed to get laid, and an academic-slash-liberal weenie. Let's describe the punditry in action here. God's tool there was using the standard right-wing debate tactic of loud interruption, meanwhile the hippie liberal kept repeating, "Who decides what's offensive?" Over and over again. "Who decides what's offensive?" Like that's gonna stop the psycho-Christian.

See, who decides what's offensive really is an important issue for everyone, even the extremist right-wingers among us. We all think there are ideas in the world that should be kept away from others; the difference between me and the conservative America-haters is that I don't trust my fellow citizens to be judicious censors. I don't think that's an unreasonable position, given the last four years of government censorship — the Howard Stern indecency fines, the Janet Jackson thing last year, John "Der Furher" Ashcroft covering up the statue of Justice. I'd rather let my fellow crazy cretins spread their ideas than risk being prohibited from spreading mine.

Neither Dan Abrams nor crazy God guy thought this was an issue worth addressing. Dan was blunt: The FCC decides what offends America. God guy didn't even bother to respond. What about the children, he asked indignantly.

So liberal weenie correctly tells God guy something like if you don't want your kids watching the Cialis commercials during the Superbowl, then watch the Disney channel or the cartoon channel or something else. Turn off the TV.

And God guy says, "Should I have to watch the Superbowl with the remote in my hand to change the channel as soon as something I don't want my kids seeing comes on?" Which should be right where we want him.

Except neither liberal weenie nor the advertising industry guy is able to answer him. Let me help you out, dude. Yes, God guy, you need the damn remote. In case you haven't noticed, you don't pay a dime to watch the Superbowl, and the Superbowl is free because a company that makes a pill to keep your dick erect sponsors the event. You want to see the Superbowl commercial-free, buy a damn Tivo, asshole. And if you're that concerned about your kids, you would turn the TV off and give them a book to read, preferably a non-Bible book. Maybe you can't watch the Superbowl until your kids are mature enough to handle the concept of erectile dysfunction, and that's a sacrifice you've got to make. But you're a stereotypical American, God guy, which means you're also a stereotypical Christian, which means you're a hypocrite and unwilling to make sacrifices for others.

I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to speak freely because you're a self-centered parent, jackass. If the liberal guy had said this, it might've shut that conservative freakwad up for a few seconds.

Thursday, February 3, 2005


I noticed a message from the divine written across the bottom of a one-dollar bill in my wallet today.

With a colon instead of a period. Do you think that, maybe if it's not too much trouble, the almighty can teach His prophets basic grammar skills?

You know, I kind of reacted to the communication via currency in more or less the same way I think of bumper stickers. The more I think over it, though, scribbling my manifesto on money seems like a pretty good way to put my message into circulation. It doesn't work so well if you feed the bills to a vending machine, but you hand it to a cashier somewhere and then someone else comes into the store needing change, and suddenly someone else has the chance to be saved.

Maybe I'll leave my blog address on everything in my wallet.

Or "Fuck the red states!" Or how about "God is dead!" Or, since some moron thinks they're proselytize me via the almighty dollar, how about I leave 1 Timothy 6:10 (look it up) written across George Washington's face.

I had two job interviews today, and I didn't want to make a first impression looking like someone involved in a face-first sled-fence collision, so my mom introduced me to a tube of some feminine face paint called "concealer." Why the hell wasn't I told about this stuff sooner?! You rub this stuff on your face and it covers up all the mean jokes God decided to play on you, at least the ones the Almighty played on your face. It actually does a pretty decent job. Like, I put it on the yellowish and black bruises around my left eye and it turned the encounter with a fence into the after-effects of a sleepless night. It worked so well I used it on my right eye, which typically looks like I haven't been sleeping enough, and I looked like I got an extra ten minutes of sleep. Wonderful! I might turn into a drag queen and use this stuff on a daily basis. Take that, acne!

Can Dubya Say "Tool?"

I didn't watch the State of the Union address because our president's voice makes me queasy. So I woke up this morning to the highlight reel on CNN, and apparently there was a touching moment when the mother of some soldier who was slaughtered by Iraqi insurgents hugged an Iraqi woman who just got her first taste of what John Stuart Mill called "the tyranny of the majority." I guess there was only one soldier killed in Iraq, because I don't think there were a thousand grieving parents invited to the SotU. They played that clip like five times in the first half-hour of American Morning, with all of the anchors being objective and telling us how touching it was.

I'm glad this mom's at peace with her son's sacrifice, protecting America from those weapons of mass destruction... oh, wait, forget about that. Well, some woman halfway around the world who just happens to be sitting on a ton of oil can vote for an American-run puppet government, so that's important. And it's good that the two of them hugged, because it just didn't have the same emotional resonance when Dick Cheney hugged Iyad Allawi. The Republicans ought to use that moment in their campaign ads, don't you think?

Later on American Morning, liberally-biased anchor Soledad O'Brien interviewed an army soldier who lost his arm in Iraq and, I guess, just happened to be sitting in the House chamber when Dubya started his yakking. And surprise, surprise, the army guy liked Dubya's speech. What are the odds?

You see, here's what separates Democrats from Kansas: we understand that Dubya will say any silver-tongued lie to get the morons of this country on his side. Why is it that not one Democratic leader will just be blunt on network TV and say, about social security for example, "Dubya will take food out of your starving children's mouths if it'll make him and his zillionaire friends a few extra bucks." Kerry didn't say that, Edwards didn't say that, Barack Obama was too busy being hopeful to say that, Al Sharpton was too busy whining to say that, even Michael Moore didn't say that. And while I'm on the topic of social security, what's up with all those American idiots saying, "I can invest my money better than the government?" Oh, really. The government might be hampered by bureaucracy and red tape, but the government has bankers and economists working for it, while these hillbillies donate their hard-earned money to Pat Robertson and buy commemorative plates and wouldn't know the futures market from a school bus.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Sticks and Stones

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post complaining about the tasteless coffee at the organic, microbiotic, vegan, whatever New York cafe Soy Luck Club. So a little before six in the morning someone bravely calling him-or-herself Anonymous left the following comment on that post:

well if you weren't so ugly, maybe coffee at soy luck club would taste better.
First of all, Anonymous, is that supposed to be an insult? Cause the first half is kind of insulting, although going after my looks isn't exactly what I'd call a challenge, but taken as a whole, your comment doesn't really make any sense. Maybe if you weren't so ugly, the coffee at Soy Luck Club would taste better, but probably not. My guess is that Anonymous is a hideous inbred freakazoid covered in acne and bedsores, and he's jealous of my admittedly-average appearance.

As a service to Anonymous, let me give a brief lesson on how to deliver a proper insult, like "I guess your mom was smashed on gin and meth during her third trimester. Explains why you can't string together a sentence that makes a lick of sense." Lesson one: if your pseudo-insult doesn't follow basic rules of cause and effect, your comment turns out to be more amusing than hurtful. See A., the taste of the coffee doesn't have anything to do with the way you or I or anyone else looks. If it did, you'd melt into a steaming acrid puddle just walking into Starbucks. See how it works, buddy?