Sunday, January 29, 2006

Nothing Cooler Than A Dry County

When you're filling out your tax forms this year, I'd like to remind you what the government's taking your hard-earned money for. There's only about a quarter of a trillion dollars for the war in Iraq and the $450 million bridge to Nowhere, Alaska (although we did get to see cantankerous old senator Ted Stevens go apeshit on the chamber floor when slightly more rational senator Tom Coburn argued some of that bridge money should be redirected towards New Orleans — you know, these crazy old coots like Stevens and Zell Miller ought to charge an admission fee for their lunatic rants and we can put the money raised towards eliminating the national debt. That's me — always thinking out of the box). But today I ran into what might not be our government's biggest waste of your money, but is certainly the lamest: the new ad campaign and website to keep kids from drinking.

It's basically the equivalent of having Alaska senator Ted Stevens — who's also your dad and who narced on starting linebacker Jeremy Hoffman back in October, causing him to get kicked off the team right before the big game against Valley — coming into your phys ed class and telling you guys that drinking won't make you cool. Well, no shit, pops! I'd be cool if everyone didn't blame me for us losing to Valley 22-3 and Jeremy didn't beat me up in front of the entire cafeteria.... I hate you, Ted Stevens! Why can't you just butt out of my life?!

Someone got a huge government contract to come up with the commercial's concept: There's these kids and they all look like they're from some sort of bizarro TeenNICK world where everybody's in middle school but no one's awkwardly proportioned at all. Even the antagonist here, he's got the greasy black hair and the knockoff-brand shirt from Wal-Mart that tells you he's from the wrong side of the tracks, and he probably reeks of unleaded gas and Virgin Slims, but even he looks like he had a smoother puberty than anybody I've ever met ever. Anyway, the kids are all getting together for a Satanic bloodletting and orgy... or maybe it's just one of those gratuitous parties kids throw and never invited me to. You bastards, now I'm scarred for life! The guests are ringing the doorbell, a couple at a time. There's this conformist dude who brings his guitar. There's these conformist goth kids with leather jackets — but they're not the sort of goth kids who scare the establishment because they've only got like one or two piercings (in their EARS, Mom, so don't worry) and there's no black eyeliner and the girl's dyed her hair hot pink so it's like festive or something. There's these conformist Asian kids, and their contribution to the fun is foodstuffs that I think is potato salad, and there's a black kid who brings Pictionary or something (it's the most ethnically diverse party ever thrown in suburbia), and maybe there's a magician or someone making animal balloons or whatever. We don't see the parents, but I'm sure they're around somewhere, embarrassing their son. Finally, our greasy-haired villain with his six-pack (and seriously, an entire keg couldn't light this shindig up) knocks on the door and our hero's like, "Sorry, dude, you can't bring the beer in."

I need to mention that I caught this commercial during the first-run rebroadcast of Veronica Mars this evening, which just makes me wonder if the government even has any idea who their target demographic is. Cause underage drinkers aren't watching Veronica Mars. No one's watching Veronica Mars, except me, TV critics, Joss Whedon, and maybe Kristen Bell's mom. (It's a shame, really.) Our government couldn't've eminent-domained some ad space from The O.C. or One Tree Hill or a show our vapid youth are actually watching? Or maybe, maybe there's hope that our kids are just a little too sophisticated for that, and when potato salad girl is placed side-by-side with Marissa Cooper's inebriated three-ways on her family's yacht, the kids'll catch onto the fact that temperance isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Back to the commercial, this poor kid's just been spurned by his peers, and he's obviously already got a self-esteem problem (hence the beer) and can the government just leave him alone to stew and write up death lists? No, the disembodied voice of some uptight authority figure has to taunt him: "You think you need alcohol to be cool? You think everybody else is drinking? Maybe you're wrong. Maybe you don't need to drink to be cool, motherfucker. Maybe you should just head back to that shitty trailer-town you live in and spend the night enjoying the rhythmic beat of your crackwhore mom banging every white trash loser in a two-mile radius. We'll be here at the party, eating our potato salad and rocking out to banal, soulless guitar riffs." That disembodied uptight authority figure voice gets pretty damn belligerent, but then he softens up: "For more information on how to resist peer pressure, log on to," and here's the kicker, ""

Brought to you by your government, which is incidentally led by a former alcoholic and cocaine user.

But could there possibly be any more glaring sign that you just don't get it than naming your anti-underage drinking campaign "The Cool Spot?" It's like calling your abstinence-education website Remember back in the presidential campaign, when that correspondent from MTV news with the inexplicable headwrap asked John Kerry if he was cool and Kerry, who's so square that even his freaking head is a rectangle, reminded us that there's nothing in the world less cool than letting everyone know how cool you (think you) are? Well, I've found something less cool: being a prude and letting everyone know how cool you are.

What really bothers me is that the tragically unhip also tend to be the most tragically ignorant, and they're never too unwilling to share that ignorance with the rest of us. Like the Catholic Church claiming that condoms don't prevent the transmission of AIDS, because frankly, if anybody should be sharing their thoughts on sex, it's a bunch of old dudes who are celebate at best. So for my amusement, I went to, where you can play all sorts of uninformative and condescending Flash games.

There's "Know Your Expectations," for example, which warns us, "Sometimes expectations are right on, but often they're totally off, especially when talking about alcohol. Check it out..." I guess this game is for teens who've already tried booze, because now they want me to choose what I expected from the drink. I'll be honest and choose "to relax or feel less shy or nervous." And I get... oh wait, I need to describe The Cool Spot logo: it's this psychedelic blob thing with arms that grow and shrink, and all the Cool Spot characters are these roughly-drawn cubist proto-anime creatures, so visiting The Cool Spot is basically like the most patronizing acid trip ever. Anyway, when I tell TCS that I drank to be less nervous, some character of indeterminate gender pops up and tells me, "Some people think alcohol will make them more relaxed or less shy or nervous. [Highlighting is theirs.]" And another weird misshapen dude comes up and says, "People may feel more relaxed," and don't we just love the third person here, so the government's not actually talking to me, "but alcohol can also relax their judgement. So they may do things they regret." Too true, dude with no nose and like seventy pounds of hair. Then our first character replies, "Yeah, like crying or arguing or getting into fights."

What follows is an absolutely retarded and useless series of suggestions for ways to get over your shyness. They basically boil down to: get over your damn shyness. Thanks, government! Finally, androgynous character number one wants me to tell him/her/it "what [I] do to relax or feel less shy." Here's what I put:

I take Prozac. Also Ativan, klonopin, and Paxil. Those are all okay because they're made by magical pharmaceutical companies who give you huge campaign contributions.
And what's the government's response? 403: Access Forbidden.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Science — remember science? — has made a fascinating discovery about the way our politically partisan brains deal with criticisms of our preferred leaders. Scientists had their subjects, self-described committed Republicans or Democrats, listen to contradictory statements Dubya and John Kerry made over the past election season; at the same time, an MRI measured the subjects' neural activity. Turns out when we get some damning information about the other guy, the logical, analytic parts of our brains are working, but when we learn that the guy we like is a fuck-up, the rational parts of our brains shut off and the emotional centers and the forgiveness centers of our brains light up. So, Tucker Carlson isn't thick, he's irrational. Thank God.

That's one interpretation, but in my opinion, this study is just a total cop-out, letting our moronic electorate off the hook for its mindless partisanism. It's superficial, like regardless of what's happening in the empathy cortex, people should either have the sophisticated self-awerness to disregard emotional appeals where cold reason is appropriate, or they should be sold to the Soylent corporation to help stave off the impending Malthusian famine. Whenever Kerry said or did something asinine, I got pissed at him for feeding the right-wing prevarication machine. Forgiveness? That's something I save for my friends and family, not the guy who I'm counting on to save our nation from Karl Rove.

By the way, in case you're reading this, John: Nice of you to finally grow a pair. I mean, you were such a wuss during the election, even I was starting to wonder if you were in Vietnam. I didn't think the army took pussies like you in the first place.

I guess our brains work the way they work, but I see this ridiculous trend in America where the decision-making process is slowly being given over to that emotional cortex in our collective unconscious. People driving around with an American flag sticking out of their SUV's: I'm not actually helping win the war on terror, but I feel like I am, and that's what matters. Or this crap with the new Palestinian government — I can't even count how many times Bush told us he went to war in Iraq to "bring democracy to the Middle East." Democracy! That's an American value! Of course, when the Mid-East demos put someone in power we don't like, then all of a sudden, we're not talking to them anymore.

Well, at least Oprah's fessing up. I haven't read A Million Little Pieces, because it's an Oprah book and once you're on Oprah's list, you're dead to me. Like Toni Morrison: great author, beautiful prose, totally demeaned herself appearing on the same program that had Tom Cruise jumping all over the damn furniture. Might as well have promoted Love on Montel or something. Anyway, while I appreciate the mea culpa, what the fuck does it matter, Oprah? That's what you get for becoming emotionally invested in some random dude's based-on-a-true story of sin and redemption — now how about getting pissed off about something that actually matters? FEMA is spending millions of dollars on trailers for Katrina victims, but those trailers are going unused. The government is eavesdropping on your Google searches and your phone calls to Pizza Hut. (Google, by the way, has acquiesced to the Chinese government's request that they censor their .cn domain search engine, so you can be pissed off at them, Oprah.) Point is, people, get over how you feel — if we start making decisions that actually are good instead of just feel good, maybe we won't need to feel quite so good in the first place.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm damn sick and tired of hypocrisy, but I'm also quickly becoming sick and tired of this ubiquitous American response to hypocrisy: "Oh my God, I am absolutely shocked at the way this self-interested, greedy, power-hungry, reprobate entity advocates particular value in public but then betrays those values in its private behavior!" Like, I caught the NBC News special report they were running this morning in response to Dubya's press conference. I don't even bother watching our president since I already pretty much know what he's going to say, like I'll bet the press conference went something like this: "We're fighting a war on terror, war on terror, 9/11, war on terror, God, God, 9/11, evil Bush cackle..." — and that's Dubya's answer to a question about Medicare.

Anyway, I'm missing Ellen and instead I've got Brian Williams and Tim Russert talking about how Bush denied knowing Washington bribemaster Jack Abramhoff but then — and I hope you're sitting down for this — Time magazine found no fewer than six photographs of Bush and Abramhoff together! Both Williams and Russert had the fucking gall to look disillusioned reporting this, like their combined half-decade in journalism totally didn't prepare them for a high-powered Republican public official and a high-powered Republican lobbyist appearing at the same Hannukah parties. I could understand if, say, Barbara and Jenna caught Dubya and Jack totally making out backstage at the inaugural ball, but seriously, stop going all deer-in-the-headlights when you learn that our corrupt politicans are corrupt.

We also learned a few days ago that the Motion Picture Association of America, which has been in the middle of a completely ridiculous anti-piracy campaign — like I'm actually gonna spend money on a bootleg copy of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants hand-filmed off some Chinese sweatshop wall — is now itself being accused of, guess what, movie piracy. This indie documentary director with an unfortunate name, Kirby Dick, made an exposé of the MPAA division that decides that, say, Whale Rider is as inappropriate for children as Big Momma's House 2. His thesis is essentially that the MPAA's parental guidance suggesters are prudish, homophobic, toadies to the big studios, and unaccountable for their decisions. Not sure why, but Dick submitted his polemic to the MPAA for a rating, which was when they surreptitously — and, according to their website illegally — made a copy. I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT AN ANONYMOUS GROUP OF SELF-APPOINTED MORAL ARBITERS WOULD STEAL SOMETHING WHEN IT SUITS THEIR PURPOSE.

No, but I was reading Roger Ebert's review of the movie from Sundance and, yeah, he's like a super-naive human being who thought the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard was just as good as The Godfather: Part 2, but I want to smack the man when he reports the MPAA's movie theft as mere "Rich Irony."

No wonder everybody thinks they can get away with any old thing if we're all gonna be this oblivious. Let me tell you a secret. Wal-Mart underpays its female employees and locks its illegal Mexican workers in the stores overnight. Unqualified political appointees are running our government. Pharmaceutical companies are sending your doctors on vacations to Swiss ski resorts in exchange for pushing their overpriced drugs on you. I'll bet you a hundred bucks that like five years from now, we all learn that Sam Alito has some crazy sex life behind his crying wife's back — people that Republican always have something kinky going on under the table. I just think it would be nice if we could all open our eyes and be on the lookout for these out-of-control individuals before they crash into us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What Intellectual Property Rights Would Jesus Exercise?

I'm not even a good Christian, but I'm appalled at our McPope whoring out encyclicals like medieval indulgences. For the first time since Christ died for your sins, the Vatican is enforcing its copyright on all papal pronouncements, including papal bulls, homilies, sermons, and apparently if the pope comes up with a dirty joke about John the Baptist, that's copyrighted too. Benedict and company have even gone all RIAA on some Italian publisher's ass and sued them for €15,000 (about $18,000) plus €3500 in legal fees, because... I guess Jesus has some expensive lawyers.

I should present the other side of the argument, though: It's not like leading the flocks to God is a very lucrative profession. Benedict may live in a palace, surround himself with priceless artwork and artifacts, have a summer home in the mountains and personal throne-carriers, but someone's gotta pay for those Gucci loafers! And Jesus did, in fact, say to his apostles in (I believe) the Book of Sanctimony 15:3-5, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. And then take five percent for royalties." ...Oh, wait, I'm confused. That wasn't Jesus, that was L. Ron Hubbard. My bad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I've been painfully overwhelmed by my work work this past week, which resulted in several wasted days crying and cursing out our previous developer who left this project in such a goddamn mess. There was also a lot of sleeping during the past week, because that's what I do when I get stressed: I hibernate.

So this is what being an adult is like, because in the past, there'd be a bunch of asses piling on the busywork — some tedious book to read here, a tired paper there, some inevitable mixed media history project with no productive, educational value whatsoever — but then there'd be a deadline and whether you failed or aced the project, you could always just wait it out with the result being passage of time: one, professor: zero. The ephemeral, expiration-date nature of the work made it easy to not give a damn. But, now that I'm grown-up, the work doesn't go away! Whatever I don't finish today mocks me all night long, waiting for tomorrow, with sweet, sweet death being the only release. Like, if I were to get clobbered by a bus tomorrow, I can take solace in my final thought being, "Ha, fuck you, work! You'll remain eternally unfinished, bitch! Ouch, my spleen..."

It's infuriating then the way these hiring companies are looking for people who'll work themselves into a heart attack. The doublespeak term for that is "multitasking," which essentially translates to "doing two projects at once and doing a half-assed job on both of them." It's nothing to do with time-management skills, whatever those are: If Project Orion is going to take four hours to finish and Project Gamma-Z is going to take two hours to finish and they both need to be done in three hours, then Gamma-Z better involve building a time machine.

Frankly, I don't need anyone riding my ass because time is a universal invariant, and for some reason, the most impatient people in the world are also the same ones who have no problem lollygagging when you ask them to do something. Like the IRS will get all up in my face if I file my taxes one minute past April 15, but when Hurricane Katrina hits, it takes the government a week to get anybody down there.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I have this tendency to pick fights with inanimate objects. It's probably symptomatic of being passive-aggressive and unable to pick on anything living that might make you feel guilty afterwards. In the past, I've had it out with a shower head (I won), a cheeseburger (the cheeseburger won), and a deck of cards (it was a draw), and today, I took on a pair of itchy underpants that Inspector #21 somehow let slip by. It was an epic battle, me with a pair of scissors trying to snip off the tag versus the underwear with that elastic waistband that made it really hard to get the scissors around the damn thing. I was tugging at the tag, fraying it, hoping to expose some of the thread holding it on, and like twenty minutes later, I was victorious. Take that, inferior underpants!

But the real reason I bring this up is that I just found out that I share a birthday with underpants, and I couldn't possibly be more amused.

What? What lame article of clothing was invented on your birthday? Socks? Earmuffs? Face it: you're just jealous.

I know that you're all following the presidential elections in Finland, where incumbent Tarja Halonen won the first round of voting but failed to take a majority of the vote. Halonen will be facing conservative candidate Sauli Niinisto in a run-off election on January 29, where the main issues facing the voters are traditionally neutral Finland's European Union membership, the extent to which Finland will cooperate with NATO, and whether Finland's president should physically resemble late-nite host Conan O'Brien.

Conan and Halonen actually do look freakishly similar (click here for a side-by-side photo), and it's pretty funny when Conan makes mention of it on his show. I mean, the bitching by Niinisto's supporters about how Conan is mocking the Finnish political process notwithstanding, he is a comedian and it's his job to point out how absurd it is that his doppleganger is a woman twenty years his senior who also happens to rule Finland. But then the American media picked up the story that Halonen's campaign is running real political ads alongisde Conan's fake ads, and now some pundits (Finland has pundits?) are thinking that Conan might actually affect the election. So, it's refreshing to know that we're not the only country in the world with a dippy electorate.

But say whatever you want about the Finns, at least none of their politicians were ever caught making a Japanese soft-drink commercial.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Season of Love

I'm at that age where it seems like all of my friends are getting married, or would be getting married if they lived in Canada. Let me say that I'm all for gay marriage; in fact, I strongly believe that, as a nation, we should be encouraging gay marriage, and even gay polygamy, because anything that reduces the number of dudes I'm competing with in the dating pool is fine by me. By the same token, I'm also vehemently against straight marriage, and someone really ought to propose a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as an institution that doesn't cut into my already slim chances of ever getting some. I don't see why the Republicans aren't getting behind this.

I find a measure of redemption in the divorce statistics. About half of first marriages end in divorce, thus replenishing the dating pool with bitter, jaded, somewhat worse-for-the-wear women. Not to mention the marriages that end up featured on Court TV; you figure a certain percentage have to be mariticides (would you believe I can't find stats on this?!) and a certain percentage of those are gonna result in acquittals. I figure there will probably be a point in my life when I'm desperate enough to settle for a woman provided she's only murdered one previous husband.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dave Barry Wants You To Buy His Book

Dave Barry was at Barnes & Noble this evening, hawking copies of his latest book, Dave Barry's Money Secrets, a facetious guide to the economy and sometimes-sorta-funny parody of Donald Trump's and Suzie Orman's contributions to the canon of Western literature. I have my own little money secret, and that is to never pay a damn penny to see famous people. Eventually, all famous people will write a book, and then they'll appear at Barnes & Noble (or occassionally Borders) for a free reading. People will buy up copies of the book like there's no such thing as a library and great fun will be had by all, except whoever's receiving an autographed copy of Dave Barry's latest contribution to Middle America as a birthday gift.

I actually kind of admire Dave Barry because he had my dream job. He wrote six hundred words a week, three jokes that were a little funny, something about how men can't figure out how to use a washing machine, and that's it. Actually, now he has my dream job, since he's currently writing about six hundred words a year, but I'll settle for the position he left.

I like getting to Barnes & Noble two or three hours early for these things because I can just sit and read and the seats really do fill up, mostly with lunatics failing to quiet the sparkle monkeys in their brains before the Q&A starts. I don't have a problem standing in the back or sitting on the floor, except that whenever I do, I have to deal with the Barnes & Noble security gestapo and then I'm tempted to bludgeon this poor rent-a-cop with a hardcover book of lesbian erotica, and that's not gonna end well for anybody. Seriously, why the hell do they need like thirty security guards at a freaking book signing? He's not Salman Rushdie, for Christ's sake! What, have the terrorists gotten lazy and they're just gonna try to assassinate Dave Barry now? You're next, P. J. O'Rourke!

Also, Dave Barry does not need an entourage of business managers, assistants, publishers, and other assorted toadies ushering him into Barnes & Noble. Once again, he's not Salman Rushdie, he's not Puff Daddy, get it straight.

Dave Barry was actually amusing for the most part, except when he, ahem, read from his book. He read this chapter about how car salesmen will never tell you the actual price of the car, but I think I already heard that bit from every lame amateur comedian ever at The Laugh Factory open mic night. Honestly, Dave, I'm no professional humorist — cause some people are hogging all the pristine comedy jobs — but I'm pretty sure everything funny that could ever be said about the auto purchasing process has already been said like back in 1982. Same goes for exploding whales, airplane food, and how women don't like it when you wear the same underpants for a week straight. I think it's time to pass the torch to more topical humor, like how George Bush is dumb. I don't think that comedy mine is tapped out yet.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In another life, I think I could've cared about Scarlett Johannsen hosting SNL this week... but then the star of Ghost World and Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring just had to make The Perfect Score and that Michael Bay abomination with more product placement than the Macy's parade. And she has the gall to think she can redeem herself from The Island by winning a Golden Globe nod for Match Point.

Bullshit! You don't redeem yourself from Michael Bay, no matter how many indie films you make. Congratulations, Scarlett, you've joined the ranks of Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, and Kate Beckinsale and you are now dead to me. (Also, you're dead to me for appearing on Page Six, cause that's just plain retarded.) This is why you never see Philip Seymour Hoffman in a summer flick with two or more explosions.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I guess that Grandma — like most old, old people — has a lot of old, old crap collecting dust in her basement. I was minding my own business this afternoon, bringing all her Christmas junk back down when Grandma whispered to me, "Wait. Wait here, there's something I have to show you." She started moving boxes off this trunk that probably saw the Depression, and who knows what's in it.... Diaries, jewelry, paintings, maybe? I've seen enough Antiques Road Show to know that the contents of this trunk could be my ticket out of this part-time web designer life. I mean, finally, getting something from Mom's side of the family besides Christmas sweaters and osteochondroma.

I still don't know what's in that trunk, cause what Grandma wanted to show me was inside this shit metal cabinet, the kind they store syringes in at a third-world free clinic, next to the trunk. It turns out my grandfather was a coin collector. I don't mean that he collected rare or unusual coins; he simply collected whatever he found on the street, put it in a cigar box, and convinced Grandma that they'd appreciate in value. The cigar box contains sixty nickels, four quarters, and a ten-something Mexican coin, some ancient pieces dating all the way back to that historic year 1983. So, yeah, total value: four dollars and ten-something Mexican cents.

I promised Grandma that we'd waste time and take the coins to a professional numismatist before using them to buy gum or dumping them into a slot machine. It can't hurt... at least not as much as dropping some $50,000 penny into our local Coinstar machine might.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

From Reuters, here's only the best entertainment news headline of the past million years or so: "German cannibal finds film distasteful". Unlike human flesh, I guess. According to the article, Felicity star and apparent hairstyle augur Keri Russell is starring in something called "Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story," where she plays a graduate student who becomes obsessed with the online voraphilia community. Sounds like a perfect date movie. It's scheduled to be released in Germany this March, but (in case you're intrigued) a U.S. release date hasn't been set yet, ostensibly because distributor Senator Film isn't sure whether a horror flick about cannibalism will appeal to Americans' refined sensibilities.

The only problem is that the film is facing a lawsuit from one Armin Meiwes (at left — and nooooo, he doesn't look like a serial killer at all...), who in my humble opinion is the coolest cannibal ever, totally beating out the Donner Party and those loser soccer players stranded in the Andes. Here's what makes Meiwes so damn awesome: Have you ever had some sexual fantasy that's a little bit taboo, and you were afraid to bring it up because your partner might give you that "you're unclean" evil eye look? Have you ever been not completely honest on your Friendster profile cause you didn't want to look like a total weirdo? I can't bring myself to anonymously text a girl across the room, "i think ur kewl," but somehow Armin gets the guts... er, bad choice of words.... He has the balls to... no, that's no good either... he finds the inner fortitude to post an online ad looking for someone just dying (ha!) to be eaten. Okay, I'm done with the puns.

Anyway, Meiwes got a response from one Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, who comes off in this story as the biggest jackass this side of the family Mantidae. (See, this is why I keep my private fantasies private — some blogger might come along three years after I die and call me names.) Brandes agreed to meet Armin, whereupon Meiwes would cut off Brandes's penis, sautee it, and the two would make a meal of it before Meiwes killed the rest of Brandes. Actually, Brandes, being the picky victim that he was, insisted that Meiwes bite off his penis and eat it raw. It turned out that wasn't physically possible, or, one presumes, sanitary.

God, their mothers must be so proud.

Meiwes was caught after (allegedly!) posting another request for delicious, vitamin-rich live cock on the internet and sentenced to eight and a half years for manslaughter. Seriously, Armin, I know you're in Germany, like the birthplace of paraphilia, but still... this isn't Bangkok or Cambodia or some other legal black hole, dude. But getting back to my original story, don't you think that if you were caught violating one of Western society's last taboos, on video (I'll spare you the link), and paraded in front of the entire country as one of your nation's biggest sickos, you might consider keeping a low media profile, right? Not Armin.

"I feel used," Armin said of Butterfly and his lawsuit to keep the film out of German theaters. Ironic, when you think of how Brandes probably felt while he was being eaten, although I get the sense that the irony's lost on Armin. He's also filing a lawsuit against the rock band Rammstein, in which Meiwes claims that they based one of their songs on his wacky life story, and he's appealing his manslaughter conviction. In Meiwes's mind, it's not murder if the other guy agrees to it. (The misanthrope in me sympathizes.) So best of luck to Armin in his upcoming court dates, and here's hoping all that human-eating doesn't catch up with him. No, I mean, how could that possibly happen...?

The Life Vicarious

I need to make an appeal to my fellow man today. Stop showing me your vacation photos! I'm sorry if I've ever said or done anything that led you to believe that I give a crap about your trip to Disney World, but I don't. And I couldn't care less about your office Christmas party or that time your cousin from Lisbon visited and you took him out to Red Lobster or, frankly, any photo you have that I'm not in. In fact, even if I am in the photo, I probably don't care, seeing how I was probably somewhere in the venue when the picture was taken. Oh yeah, I have some memories of when we all went to that baseball game, but I don't remember it being quite so out of focus...

Monday, January 9, 2006

Just a reminder: only ten shopping days left till my birthday.

There's really nothing more tedious than people who annually celebrate their existence by turning into a walking countdown, constantly reminding you that forty hours from now is the twenty-second anniversary of their escape from the womb. On this very date, one score and two years ago, the world was blessed with grace never before seen by man, for Mother squeezed me out her vagina in a blinding, radiant light, ushering forth a new Utopia!

So I usually keep my mouth shut, because even though the most important day of the year is fast approaching, I remain considerate of my fellow man.

This means, of course, that no one ever remembers my birthday — or even knows about it — until their special day rolls around. They start gloating about it, and between breaths, they'll ask, "When's your birthday?" Inevitably followed by temporary disappointment: "Aw, I missed it." Meanwhile, I'm always a bit bummed every January 19 cause none of my friends realize it's my birthday, even though it's only posted in my Facebook profile and my Friendster profile (which has been viewed zero times, so I guess that explains that) and my AIM screenname, and most of my hometown friends at least have been to my birthday parties since, like, sixth or seventh grade, back when we were still holding those damn things at United Skates. (What were my parents thinking? I didn't even own roller blades.... Maybe it was the 70's back then and roller disco was still popular?)

I'm tired of being forgotten, so this year, I've decided to advertise early and often, plastering the internet with less-than-subtle reminders and awkwardly throwing an announcement or two into every conversation I have. Stuff like:

Interlocutor: Hi, Jay. How are you?

Me: Aging... In fact, I'm gonna be twenty-four in approximately two-hundred and seven hours. In case you wanted to buy me something.
No, I'm really not looking for free stuff — I mean, I am hoping for gifts and goodies this birthday, but that's not why I'm making a big deal about it. I want recognition. Nothing would make me slightly less depressed than knowing that my friends care that I'm a year closer to my ultimate demise. We could hang out and muse over the utter pointlessness of it all... or we could celebrate the way most people do and block out the existential crisis with alcohol. Either way. Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

I'm blogging on location today from Panera Bread in Westfield, the coffee shop where you have to drink your latte with a spoon. At least twice a day, my dad insists that I come here with my laptop because, quote, "There are other people your age at Panera's [sic], and you might meet someone." He has this attitude with just about anything, like he'll bother me in the middle of an online poker tournament or something with, "There's this poetry reading in town and there might be people your age there. You should go. You might meet someone." Or at Barnes & Noble, there's some lame author giving a reading — you never get the good writers in the bookstores out in the sticks; you get Sandra and Harry Choron, authors of the seminal Doglopedia — and there might be young people there who I can meet. Hell, he even tried this "you might meet people" crap when I had jury duty, like some hot, big-titted juror's gonna start fawning over me in the courthouse. Dad, that only happens on the Lifetime movie-of-the-week.

The thing is that Dad is really, really awful at judging people's ages, so he'll tell me that there's this jazz concert at a local nursing home but there might be Gen-Y'ers there. The sad thing is that it took me like twenty years to figure out that Dad didn't know what the hell he's talking about. He'd bring the whole family to the Scotch Plains patented boring-as-all-hell summer concert series, and we'd be sitting amongst the octogenarians in their lawn chairs and the new parents with their little kids all running around, and I'd think that this was what normal people did for entertainment in America. I guess that's the mark between a cool parent and a lame parent — the cool parents will admit that all the popular kids are at the events with booze.

Friday, January 6, 2006

I was walking by the main post office in New York City today when I came across the postal police. First, I'm just amused that we actually need a postal police force. Like, I'm sure they do a great job and everything, but who the hell applies for this job? There's no way postal inspector is at the top of anybody's dream job list, and I'd just like to know how many police academies you need to flunk out of before joining Law & Order: Special Mail Fraud Unit.

Here's why the postal police is the unloved bastard child of the law enforcement community: they drive police minivans. Not vans. Minivans, like a Dodge Caravan or something, but with the siren and everything. I used to think that the bike cops had it rough, as if one day, the police chief thought, "You know what would be funny? Having an officer on a bike try to chase down some drug dealer in a Ford Escalade. Maybe if there's some money left in the budget this year, we can start up a all-skateboard unit or a pogo stick squad." But there's no way you're getting any respect from the bad guys if you're driving around in a minivan. Are you taking the criminals to jail or to soccer practice?

By the way, here's my favorite testimonial from the Postal Inspection Service website:

Once in Des Moines, IA, three or four Inspectors went down to the Polk County Jail to pick up some prisoners to take to U.S. Marshals for escort to federal court. I looked at an inmate on the bench staring at us and thought he was one of mine. I asked, "Are you ready to go?" He got this look of concern on his face and said, "No way, I don't want anything to do with Postal Inspectors!" I had the wrong guy, and he was greatly relieved.
Sounds like a hardened criminal there.... I don't know, maybe he's not a soccer fan.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Just When I Thought I'd Have Nothing To Write About...

You know, I don't care at all about Ariel Sharon or Israel or peace in the Middle East, but could someone please shut Pat Robertson the fuck up?! I don't watch the 700 Club because, well, I prefer it when my bile stays inside my body, so I have to rely on the Associated Press and The Daily Show for my spiritual flim-flam news. According to the AP, the crazy bubble monkeys living inside Robertson's head got all antsy on today's show, and they made him take a break from making lame threats against small Pennsylvania towns and calling on our government to break the fifth commandment so he might offer his diagnosis regarding Ariel Sharon. Quoth Prophet Pat: "He [Sharon] was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or the United States of America.'"

I guess we have to realize that Robertson is a fundamentalist, so for him, pretty much anything that isn't speaking in tongues bears the mark of the Beast. But God doesn't smite you for going against His will, or, apparently, for scamming elderly people into sending you their Social Security money. God smites you for being overweight and stressed and, let's not forget, for freaking living in Israel where there's like a mall bombing every single fucking day! Oh, what is that? Somebody threw a grenade into a wedding ceremony? Must be Tuesday.

Seriously, no place is perfect, but if Israel is really "God's land," He's a total slumlord. Here in New York, crime is at a thirty-year low and I still live in the suburbs, because I like not having some wacko kill me over a thousand-year-old grudge. From my visit to the Vatican and my reading of The Da Vinci Code, I'm guessing God is more of a Dubai-type deity anyway.

I think there's something to Robertson's model, though: You find a bunch of gullible people and get them to make a financial commitment to your insane cause. We need to do the same thing, but with someone getting on the airwaves for an hour a day and just talking logic and reason... and then soliciting donations. They'll go to a good cause — we use the money and hire someone to smack Pat Robertson every time something asinine comes out of his mouth.

Remember, Pat, Jesus loves you. But everyone else thinks you're an ass.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Farewell to Arrested Development

So last night, FOX broadcasted what will, in all likelihood, be the series finale of Arrested Development, which was a brilliant, topical, self-parody that'll make all series finales from now on feel trite. Take a moment now to cry and wail over the death of our culture. I'll give minor props to FOX for actually broadcasting Arrested's entire run — some networks wouldn't even bother satiating the fanbase — but come on, they're keeping Stacked for Christ's sake!

I haven't written one of my trademark nasty, semi-coherent letters to FOX yet. I'm jaded, and I've concluded that my letter-writing campaigns are much more effective post-disaster than as a preventative measure. Like how they cancelled Freaks and Geeks despite my many impassioned pleas; at least it felt good to call then-NBC Head of Programming Garth Ancier a "jackass philistine who deserves to spend eternity burning in a hell of pretentious Dawson's Creek dialogue." Ancier didn't take my suggestion of where he could shove his artistic sensibility: after destroying Freaks and Geeks, Ancier decided that CNN wasn't grabbing a big enough share of the youth market and came up with that "Paula Zahn is a smoking-hot anchorlady" ad campaign that was almost as embarrassing to the field of journalism as gay military stud/softball reporter Jeff Gannon.

Another thing keeping me from unleashing my epistulary wrath on FOX, aside from laziness, is that I get the feeling the bosses at FOX actually want to keep Arrested Development on the air as long as possible. They've been remarkably patient despite the show's flagging ratings, and they moved Arrested Development to a netherworldish timeslot on Monday nights where there's less competition for viewers. Some pundits have blamed FOX for not promoting Arrested Development enough in its infancy, but I'm not sure more advertising would've helped. It's not just that Arrested Develpoment is a cerebrally intensive serialized half-hour in front of the boob tube, but there's no one-sentence gimmick to cram into the commercial, the way they could with those mind-rotting Golden Globe nominees Prison Break and 24.

I blame the kids, of course.

I mean, during last night's Arrested Development and the "classic" episode they showed after the finale, I saw no fewer than six ads for American Idol and that fucking tool Ryan Seacrest. And The O.C., and those Teen Choice Awards — this the kind of pablum our culture grows when we give kids money. Here's the deal: let's entertain these self-centered little brats with our songs and dances, with animal attacking things, with those fucking bulemic model-actresses and then we'll sell them stuff. Unlimited text messaging! Video games where you play a mobster who kills people in an amoral wasteland!

God, and to think that FOX cancelled Profit!

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Same Old, Same Old

The earth completed its orbit around the sun. Again, for like the four billionth time. Stop getting so freaking excited about it. You don't need to stand out in the cold and snow, with a million crazy people in Times Square, sacrificing confetti to the calendar gods to make the new year happen. It's not like this is gonna be the year that God suddenly makes time go backwards or stops the earth in its orbit for an extra second or anything.

Okay, technically this is the year that God held the earth still for an extra second, but it's not like any of you were toasting to that.

I haven't made any resolutions this year, because frankly, this is gonna be the Year of Jay for once and I'm gonna demand that the world change to accomodate me instead of the other way around. I'm sure that'll work out just perfect.