Wednesday, August 30, 2006

No one came to the raging kegger I threw last night, which is probably a good thing, since I didn't have any beer, or music, or anything for the guests to do. It's just that I'm pretty sure yesterday was the first night in the twenty-four years of my life that both my parents went out of town overnight, leaving me alone and trusting me to not burn the house down... and since I'm still playing catch-up with the Lost Underage Experience, I figured that maybe inviting people over to get drunk and trash my house might just get me a seat at the cool kids' table. Please, don't give me that look. It's not like I'm thirty years old, playing X-Box in my parents' basement and having Mom cook me Chef Boyardee for dinner. Yet.

Instead, I went to keep Grandma company because, while I'm merely alone in an alienated, psychic sense, Grandma is stuck in her home and literally alone; and, sometimes, when I don't have anything else to feel bad about (not often), I feel bad for her. This never goes very well; despite our mere sixty-something year age difference, we really don't have a lot to talk about. She tells me stories about how awesome everyone was back in the day and how everyone these days can go to hell, and then I sort of agree with her that everyone can, in fact, go to hell. Then we run out of stuff to say: "What did you do today?" "Nothing." "You have any plans for tomorrow?" "Same thing."

Grandma goes off to watch TV — remember when Bob Saget was hosting America's Funniest Home Videos? Grandma thinks that shit is hilarious, and no, she's not senile. I was watching a DVD of the awfully-titled Hong Kong action thriller Infernal Affairs, and I'm a little miffed at whoever designed the DVD cover. I knew what the movie's about before reading the little blurb on the back of the box — Tony Leung plays an undercover cop who spends ten years infiltrating a drug cartel, and Andy Lau plays a lieutentant in the cartel who spends ten years as a mole in the police department, and both Leung and Lau are assigned the task of finding the double agent in their organizations — but if you take a close look at the cover art, wouldn't you just maybe, maybe expect to find a hot Asian woman with a gun somewhere in the movie? Like, I don't know, just taking a cue from the cover symbolism, maybe both guys fall for the woman with the gun? Or she's the true anti-hero of the story?

So here's a little spoiler for you: no hot chick with a gun in the entire freaking film. I know; it's awful — the cover makes you all horny and there's no release in the movie. Well, there's a lot of release in the movie... just not that kind. Aside from that one omission, and an insipid, obvious side plot where Lau's wife writes a novel about a man with multiple personalities, Infernal Affairs is actually a pretty good film. I have yet to meet the action film that doubles as cinematic masterpiece, but I think the critical comparisons to Michael Mann's Heat are pretty apt, although in my opinion, a better description might be if Fritz Lang re-made M in 2004. Infernal Affairs has a few setpieces that... I don't want to say "set a new standard in action," but it's safe to assume that Scorcese could learn a few things from the original when he's re-making the film for Warner Bros. He won't, and he'll turn this compact story into some sort of dilute epic. There will be too much characterization via dialogue and his actors will resort to histrionics, the suspend will build too slowly and the catharsis will be weak. Watch: The Departed will come out this winter and you'll see how right I am.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I finally figured out everything that's wrong with the world, and that is that God hasn't chosen to grant me the power of life and death over all humanity. Don't give me that look — this guy and this guy both have the power to obliterate life on Earth with the push of a button, and frankly, Lord, I think I'm a little more qualified to make blithe life and death decisions than George W. Bush is. I might strike, say, Frank Quattrone down with a lightning bolt out of a clear, blue sky, but at least afterwards, I'd take his money and use it to buy body armor for the soldiers in Iraq, because I'm just magnanimous like that.

Yesterday evening, for instance, I was at this Columbia Young Alumni Reunion — not that I actually thought I'd get reunited with anyone from school, but I figured my chances were a bit higher at the reunion than, say, in my bedroom. The whole event was, even by my humble standards, a huge failure. There's the Peninsula Hotel in New York City, "specifically designed for the needs of the executive traveler," so lots of rich white guys wearing ties. The reunion was at the terrace bar on the hotel's top floor and is also crammed with rich white guys wearing ties, as well as wannabe rich white guys wearing ties. Thing is, what do Columbia young alumni typically look like? You guessed it: wannabe rich white guys wearing ties. Figuring out who was a junior associate at a midtown law firm and who was a junior associate at a midtown law firm plus a Columbia undergrad wasn't exactly trivial. We should have a secret handshake or something.

For all I know, we do have a secret handshake but, for $140,000 tuition, no one bothered to show it to me.

Okay, not being let in on the secret handshake made me a little cranky, and the twenty-third story view was a little disappointing (lots of rooftops), but here's why I'm really called upon to set the world straight. While I was waiting for my friends to not show up — it's not like I invited them, or like they even respond to my emails when I do invite them — I got a hold of the Pen-Top's menu, a bound and embossed booklet that's four pages long and about an inch thick and, ugh, a guy without a tie could go broke. A shot of rum for fifteen bucks, twenty-one for some chocotini novelty drink thing, domestic beers: twelve dollars. I don't think I'd make it very far on The Price Is Right, but beer goes for what, three, maybe four bucks? There was this woman I saw out on the terrace with a bottle of Bud Light, wearing whatever the rich white female equivalent of suit and tie is, and I had this incessant need to interrogate her: "Do you realize that bottle of beer you're holding is worth, like, four bottles of beer?"

I want to blame the Pen-Top Bar & Terrace for getting rich taking advantage of stupid white folks with too much disposable income, but I suppose I'm really just pissed that I didn't go to the market around the corner, buy a couple of six-packs, and sell them at the bar for ten dollars each. It's not the bar's fault we have a laissez-faire economy with market forces regulated only by the caprice of tie-wearing, money-burning douchewads, but the reason I can't afford to get drunk at snobby happy hour is that someone else is willing to pay a four-hundred percent markup on liquor. And as I walked home, sullen and sober, these examples of complacency struck me and I'm sort of wondering to what extent the corporations and the government and the Man can push the rest of us before we'll all stop and ask ourselves what we're getting out of this deal.

I have a couple of friends, for example, who do grunt work at law firms in the city, and they all have Blackberries — the most bourgeois, corporatized technology since the invention of the alarm clock — provided generously by their firm. Let me say this right now: if any of my employers ever tries to give me a Blackberry, all smiles and excited about e-mailing me wherever I am, that damn thing is getting run over by a truck within a day. Here's the thing, Corporate Overlords: I don't want you getting in touch with me wherever I am. Yes, once in a while, there is an e-mail I want to send when I'm not by my computer, but I can guarantee you that e-mail isn't going to be about work, and I'd rather not have an electronic leash that periodically feeds me offers for penis enlargment and home mortgages. I can't see for the life of me what advantage anyone can get out of being perpetually tied to their loving corporation, so how about, when H.R. offers you the Blackberry with a serial number etched in the back and a barcode, you just politely decline?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I remember the good old days when you could walk into your local Brookstone and flop down on that Tempur-Pedic display bed for an hour and a half without a store associate so much as looking at you. Maybe they started some sort of commission system, but now I feel guilty walking into Brookstone and get three salesninnies waylay me with bizarre hybrid product abonimations of God while I know there's no way in hell I'd buy their mini-massager or indoor/outdoor weather station or talking picture cube or whatever other overpriced crap they've got there. I just went in today to sit in that massage chair, which — again, I hate my fellow human beings — I get carded for???!!! The following conversation ensued:

Salesgirl: Are you over eighteen?

Me: [pretty sure I know the right answer to that question] Yeah.

Salesgirl: What do you think?

Okay, she's not flirting with me; she's just totally unaware that they've had the same damn Brookstone chair in the store there for the past ten years or so and the sales pitch can skip the inane, gawking small talk because I'm no longer surprised that someone managed to stick a vibrator inside a recliner. I don't think I'm all that easy to mistake for a tourist from Idaho.

Me: It's comfortable.

Salesgirl: Just comfortable?

No, sweetheart, it's orgasmic the way the massage chair can't figure out how tall I am and periodically discovers a new pressure point. The chair is really just meh... comfortable. It's sort of like a woman you've never met before rubbing your balls: it feels good but it's still a little weird. I explain this to the salesgirl.

Me: Well, I'm not used to the rubber things pushing into my spine.

Salesgirl: Because we have some other models you can try out if you want.
Is she seriously trying to sell me one of these things? Or better question, has anyone ever bought a robot shiatsu chair from Brookstone? You go to your local Corvette dealership wearing expensive sunglasses and slick-backed hair and you test drive a sports car for the ten-minute adrenaline rush, but you don't have to take every car on the lot for a spin. And I'm a little put off by the fact that she thinks I'm in the market for a massage chair when less than sixty seconds ago she didn't even think the state of New York legally permitted me to even sit in the damn chair.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pretentious Foreign Film

I'll protect you from yourself and not show you why I was at the Film Forum this afternoon. I'll tell you, though: After reading a few vague reviews, I saw the trailer for this super-obscure black-and-white French thriller 13 (Tzameti) and I absolutely had to see it. A word about the Film Forum — most movie theaters, like the UltraMegaGigantoPlex you've got off the highway, are part of the Hollywood system, owned by those media mega-conglomerates and a roster of shareholders, and that's why they've got fifty-seven screens and only four different movies playing. The Film Forum, on the other hand, has a board of benefactors, snooty people who purchase art and appear in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, so they show movies that make straight-to-DVD crap shows with titles like "Evil Dentist IV" (it answers all the questions left over at the end of "Evil Dentist III") look commercially viable. Okay, here's one of the trailers we had to sit through — and normally, I love the trailers, but coming soon to the Film Forum, it's Lunacy by Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer. Yes, the Jan Svankmajer.

I failed "Inscrutable European Symbolism 101" in college, so you'll have to excuse my ignorance, but…what the hell is this movie about?! There's a tableau, and someone playing with uncooked beef or something, and I'm just so confused. Why won't that guy be laughing long? What's up with the patriotic midget, and the guy who wants to be left alone, and I don't get what Edgar Allen Poe has to do with any of this. It's like Twin Peaks mated with a Calvin Klein ad, and they had kids who all mated with each other, and Lunacy is the hideously deformed offspring, only more abstruse. I'm sorry, does that make me thick? Maybe I need to see Material Girls as penance.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Film Forum. Goatees get twenty percent off.

Anyway, 13 (Tzemati) – don't kid yourself, the title doesn't mean shit – has a twisted game of Russian roulette as its central conceit, so once you know this, the first half of the movie leaves you with some solid anticipatory chills as you wait for someone's head to get blown off. My subconscious rushed with images of bloody brain holes and neck stumps looking around for their severed heads, so it's no real shock that I was quickly disappointed. What makes me wish for my ten dollar admission back was that the movie, which the Hollywood Reporter calls "an intense and claustrophobic thriller," is so godawfully boring. Like, the first round of Russian roulette, you're sort of into it, and the director Géla Babluani drags the scene out about as long as it can go, but by the fourth round... I was feeling, "Could we just get this over with? I've got stuff to do." You wouldn't believe how insanely tedious a movie where wealthy businessmen bet on a game of Russian roulette played by drugged up day-laborers can be, but a gunshot lasts all of two milliseconds and the rest of the movie is the dullest snuff film ever.

So now I'm pissed at the 83% of critics who liked the movie, found it nail-biting or pulse-pounding or whatever, and encouraged me to go. Like this review, which was posted in the Film Forum lobby next to the poster for 13 (Tzemati):

"Lustrous black and white with the look of a neo-noir. An elegant thunderbolt of a film! Throat-grabbingly effective!"
Jay Carr, AM New York
It's called a complete sentence, dude. You get a sweet gig watching movies for a living, and the least you could do is write your little blurbs with both subjects and predicates. "Throat-grabbingly effective," really? That's a clause about one step above Homer Simpson quality, and I'm surprised this Carr asshole didn't end his review with "Screw Flanders."

Incidentally, I found Carr's full review online, and while I still think he put more effort into the star rating than the review's actual content, it's better than the Film Forum would suggest. I can't find the words "elegant thunderbolt" anywhere in the text.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Further Proof That The War on Terrorism is Being Fought By Morons

You might or might not have heard of Gatorate-gate while flipping through the channels and landing on CNN or MSNBC for a moment. A flight from London to Washington, D.C. was diverted to Boston yesterday after a mentally deranged woman on board refused to return to her seat and crazily insisted that everyone on the plane wanted to see what was in her airsick bag. (No, Crazy Lady, I guarantee you that no one on the plane wants to see what's in your airsick bag.) The flight crew tied up and searched the woman, and they found she was carrying hand gel — which is banned on flights out of England — and matches. Which aren't. Because it might be someone's birthday on the plane, and how else are you going to light the candles?

The Transportation Security Administration, having gotten over its fear of Grandma Qaeda crocheting on the plane and now having finished replacing all the uneducated, untrained, egomaniacal black and Latino security guards with uneducated, untrained, egomaniacal white ones, has helpfully compiled a list of what you can and can't take on airplane. Let's take a look at how the TSA is making the skies safer for shoeless travellers everywhere:

You can't take Blistex on a plane. This will keep the terrorists off our planes, because they all come from hot, arid places and have chapped lips. Al-Qaeda might be willing to blow their dumb asses up, but they're not gonna get in an environment with dry, recirculated air.

You can bring a corkscrew on the plane, because Muslims aren't allowed to drink. I can't think of any other possible use a bad guy might have for a heavy, pointed object.

Screwdrivers are allowed in your carry-on luggage, provided they're under seven inches long. So if the airplane breaks down mid-flight, repairing the "Fasten Seat Belt" light is within reach but repairing the fuselage isn't.

Toy Transformers — yes, specifically Transformers — are allowed on the plane. I wonder how much Mattel had to lobby the TSA for that one.

Toothpaste and mouthwash are both banned from the plane, but you're allowed four ounces of "personal lubricant." First of all, I don't know about you, but four ounces ain't gonna be enough for me. But this is good; it's only taken twelve years since Jocelyn Elders was run out of the surgeon general's office for the government to admit that jerking off is okay! And on intercontinental flights, sitting next to fat guy no less!

You knew it was coming: Poisonous snakes are — care to take a guess? Yes, the TSA posts no restrictions on bringing your pet cobra onto the plane, although they may need to put its terrarium through the X-ray machine. Fortunately, I believe Hollywood is taking on the issue with a riveting exposé on the dangers of motherfucking snakes on motherfucking planes, so we can hope to see reptiles on board go the way of liquid sanitizer and meat cleavers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Communication skills, people! Because today at work I spent an hour on the phone with some of our consultants, all of whom are Indian immigrants, and I understood maybe five words of the whole conversation. And while I'm sure they're wonderful nerds if you don't need to get critical information for your project from them, deciphering their accents and their geek-speak and the general conference call static gave me a headache. I don't know how to handle that kind of situation, since there's only so many times you can ask someone to repeat that before they suspect either you've got a problem or they've got a problem — and no one ever suspects that they've got the problem. I typically smile and nod, but that strategy over the phone makes it look like I'm having an absence seizure.

It's a skill though, communication in general and resisting your natural urge to aspirate in particular, and I can't blame our tech consultants for not bothering to pick it up. That's why one works with computers: they're easier to talk to then people. They're patient and unambiguous, and if you don't like one font, you can pick another and it's not like Abadi Condensed is gonna get offended or anything. But you get on the phone instead of the instant messenger, or you start up with the handwriting instead of keyboard clicking and there's just a mess of issues. My experience with Ravi and Vijesh (still not sure how to pronounce that name, but I'm about 85% confident that it's not pronounced like it's spelled) and Elango made me think about the surreal sequence in the "Outsourcing" episode of 30 Days, where our intrepid American hero is at a school in Bangalore teaching future "call center operators" — i.e., telemarketers — how to speak the King's English, if the king lived in Omaha. Sorry: I know how skilled tech jobs are disappearing from America and as they're being shipped over to India, they're not creating a rising middle class there so much as further enriching already bloated American and Indian megacorporations, but watching the Accent-B-Gone instructor switch from Apu's voice to Carson Daly's and back mid-sentence is downright hilarious.

The irony, of course, is that no one over here wants to communicate with someone in Bangalore interrupting dinner with an offer for a Visa Platinum card. (Among middle class Indians, however, telemarketing is one of the most prized professions you can get, probably only short of Bollywood extra and charlatan with an afro.) Here I am, on the phone after a month of negotiations with these guys, actually wanting to hear what they've got to say... well, not really, since the emails they previously sent me demonstrate little familiarity with basic English concepts, like the word "the," and I don't talk with people too busy for grammar... but I do want to know what's going on with our application and here are our consultants who literally can't tell me. Like communication isn't difficult enough.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006


The Museum of Modern Art, which, I should reiterate, I fucking hate, is showing an exhibition on Dadaism that does very, very little to redeem them in my eyes. Dadaism is an "anti-art" art movement, if that makes any sense; it theoretically satirizes or challenges the conventional nature of art, but placed into a modern context, in a museum that actually paid for a container of poo, and Dadaist pieces like Duchamp's Ball of Twine or 3/4 Ounces of Paris Air in a Glass Vial (picture not available — it's an empty vial, so use your imagination) delve into self-parody even before the target of that parody exists. Anne and I went to visit the exhibit yesterday — she has friends who work there and we got in for free, so I consider that a blow stricken for the egalitarianism of great culture — and we were duly confused by Duchamp's Comb, which is an ordinary plastic comb that the Museum enclosed in an alarmed, bulletproof glass case. I pointed out how that's cheating: Duchamp didn't even do anything to the comb. Anne correctly pointed out that Duchamp found the comb, and apparently he had magic fingers because as soon as Duchamp touches a prosaic object and declares it "art," a miracle happens and it becomes art.

The Dadaist movement got its start, according to the MoMA, with the Society of Independent Artists, which was a group of art salon rejects so disillusioned with their jury peers they vowed to show anything submitted to them. Duchamp, fucking with them, submitted a urinal to the Society's exhibition, which naturally rejected it maybe because, I don't know, it's a piece of plumbing, it's the precursor to Ashton Kutcher and O.J.'s reality show and college students with too much time on their hands punking the rest of us with jobs to do, or it's just not art. An infuriated Duchamp — "Come on, you guys, you did say you'd exhibit anything..." — published an asinine defense of Fountain in his snooty literati magazine The Blind Man, the gist of which is that anything can be art and Robert Mutt (Duchamp, under a pseudonym), made his artistic contribution to the pee container when he chose it, among all the other objects in the world, to submit to the Society.

Anne then had to remind me not to take Dadaism as a personal affront.

Except that the logic of the argument and how it plays out among the museum curators, the gallery owners, and the modern artists making millions of dollars auctioning off pretentious crap at Sotheby's have really, literally, turned it into a personal affront. Despite this post-modern questioning of the fundamental nature of art and the interplay between artist, art, and viewer, there's a fundamental Objectivism (shudder!) in the modern art world serving to maintain both the status quo and the cult of personality leeching off it. Maybe there's "art" and then there's "marketable art", but saying that anything can be art, or anything can be music, or anything can be anything, in addition to being facile, devalues what really is art. If this chair, or this tree branch, or my spit can be art, then why pay $135 million for Klimt's The Kiss when I have a perfectly good picture of some hairy dude eating out this chick that I found online and I'll sell you for twenty bucks? Who cares if you smash Michelangelo's Pietá with a hammer because the crushed rocks and dust are just as valuable artistically as the sculpture itself?

The trend Duchamp started was to marry the content of the art to the artist himself, which was, in a way, ahead of his time. The argument isn't that anything can be art; it's that the artist can call anything art. It's arrogance and egotism — it's my declaration that this piece is art that makes it so, and your thoughts are irrelevant, you knuckle-dragging philistine. Now give us your twenty dollars for admission!

No, I don't see any parallels at all to our nation's current cultural and political state. At least the MoMA doesn't question your patriotism and call you a terrorist if you prefer Chagall to Cassatt.

Saturday, August 5, 2006


I'm smart. Not to brag or anything, but since I'm not all that physically attractive and I have little to no social skills, I don't feel too, too awful about bringing it up once or twice. But I'm mentioning it now because I'm trying to join Mensa, which I assume is full of nerds discussing their Diplomacy strategies, debating the merits of Jedi versus Empire, and developing grandiose forced mating schemes.

The admission process is rigorous and carefully designed to keep all those egghead wannabes in the ninety-seventh or (gasp!) ninety-sixth percentile out of their club. I've taken some IQ tests before, once in fourth grade to get into some snooty prep school and once as a three-year-old, because even back then, my parents could see I'd never grow up to be a Matt Ratliff and they'd better nurture one of my other gifts. I bet if the toddler IQ test hadn't gone well, they would've exposed me to radioactive spiders or mysterious silver meteorites or something. Kinda wish they had, like maybe I could've been in a nuclear waste accident that makes me impervious to their co-dependent guilt. But I'm getting off topic. The point is that merely having and passing an IQ test doesn't make you Mensa material; you've got to send in an original copy of the psychiatrist's report on the IQ test, on official letterhead with his or her state license number, signed and notarized, and hand-delivered to Mensa's U.S. headquarters in Houston by either certified mail or a trained yak. I don't remember my college applications being that needlessly bureaucratic. Mensa: you're just a bunch of poindexters playing speed chess, not the popular clique in high school.

It doesn't matter anyway, since that test from fourth grade, along with pretty much everything else from fourth grade, has long been lost to the mists of entropy. I found a copy of the Woodcock-Johnson IV (yes, that's its real name, stop giggling) Skills Assessment from a few years back, but that won't satisfy the sticklers at Mensa. It seems easier to take the official Mensa IQ test, so I emailed the Mensa local coordinator about the testing and she emailed me this back:

Dear Jay Harris,

Please ensure that your spam blockers can accept email from this address.

Thank you for your interest in Mensa, the High IQ Society.

Mensa supervised testing sessions, subject to change, will be held at the following times and locations:

Saturday, August 19, 2006
Culture Fair
11:00 AM -?
Edison, NJ 08817
Limited Seating

Sunday, September 24, 2006 - Subject to change
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Hillsborough Municipal Bldg
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Saturday, October 21, 2006 - National Testing Day
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Sayreville Public Library
Parlin, NJ 08859

Thursday, December 21, 2006 - Subject to change
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Hillsborough Municipal Bldg
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

There will be two tests proctored with a short break between them. A score in the top 2 percent on either of the tests will qualify you for Mensa membership.

If you have any condition for which you feel would make a standard test unsuitable or your main language is not English you may be given our non-language untimed battery of tests (Culture Fair). Let me know if this is your preference.

If you will be able to attend a testing session please complete and return the form below to me prior to the scheduled time with your check or money order The testing fee must be received before you can be scheduled to take the tests.

Confirmation will be forwarded to you upon registration.

Should you have any questions in the interim, please feel free to contact me. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Martha A. McKeon
And right now, I'd like to point out something you'd probably just assume someone smarter than 98% of the population would realize on their own: "Please ensure that your spam blockers can accept email from this address." Right.... If my spam blocker won't accept email from your address, Martha, then it won't accept your warning about the spam blocker not accepting email from you address. Genius.

I wanted to sign up for the August 19 test because it's the closest and earliest of the four. However, one might notice — well, I noticed — that there's no clue where in Edison the test is. (And what's up with the 11:00 AM until question mark? Are there gonna be cocktails after?) So, I wrote back to Martha the Mensa Mistress:
Where's the test being held on August 19? Edison is a pretty big town....
And why am I like consigned to the circle of Hell where everyone sends you dickish email responses? Case in point:
Aha - so you're interested in the Culture Fair test, right?
2 blocks from Bridge St, which is right off Rte 27, Metuchen-Edison border, also near Rte 287, and not far from Rte 1. Does that help?
If you sign up for it, the confirmation gives the complete street address, which is my home.
Interested? Limited to 5 people, you would be the 2nd, if yes, Jay.

Bet you noticed the other addresses are incomplete, too. Those are big towns as well.

The Comic Sans was her idea, masking her goading me with typographical levity. But no, Martha, I'm not interested in the culture-fair test; I'm interested in the closest test, so I hope they take a few points off your IQ for jumping to conclusions. More to the point, Martha, what on earth did you expect to gain by including that last paragraph there? If you want to challenge me to a parse-off, then say so and bring it on! Round one: I've never been to the Sayreville Public Library or to the Hillsborough Municipal Building, but I'd take odds on the fact that either of those locations is significantly smaller than the entire town of Edison. Rebuttal?

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Spoiler Alert!
(Think of it like I'm saving you eleven bucks.)

I got another two-for-one discount at the Angelika Film Center this afternoon by purchasing an overpriced ticket to Clerks II and sneaking into Who Killed The Electric Car? after. I don't know why. I'm not one of those pretentious film school asshats who's convinced Kevin Smith is a god; the original Clerks was alright, Mallrats was pointless, unnecessary, and added nothing new to the fascinating 1995 discussion of Magic Eye pictures. Clerks II was more or less Clerks I, in color, and with a pudgier Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson. Same meandering dialogue, same hit-to-miss ratio with the jokes, exact same argument between Dante and Randall ninety-five percent of the way through the movie — Dante accuses Randall of ruining his life and Randall calls Dante a tool. Gee, I didn't see that coming twelve years ago.

Who Killed The Electric Car? was the movie I really wanted to see, because I wasn't indignant enough after watching the Enron movie last month. Next time you're at the local Mobil station, filling that motherfucker Hummer of yours at three-fifty a gallon, I want you to remember that for about four years in the late 1990's, General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda all made cars — zero to sixty in less than four seconds — that took no gas. Really, for a brief, shining moment, we were free of the oil monopoly, OPEC, all this Middle East shit. And then, as the title implies, someone killed the electric car, along with twenty-five hundred American soldiers and forty thousand Iraqis.

I'm going to give away the ending and tell you who murdered the electric car. I suggest you sit down. The culprits were: the oil companies, GM, the Republican deregulators we put in the White House, science fiction-ish hydrogen cell technology, the California Air Resources Board (conveniently chaired by this guy who consults for the automakers' association), and, of course, you morons who wouldn't purchase clean emissions technology till you were handing out piles of sawbucks trying to fill your gas tank.

Not to let the multinational conspiracy off the hook here, but I lost count of how many sequences the movie gave us of SUV-driving douchebags telling the camera, "Wow, that electric car sounds awesome. Where can I get one? Oh, what do you mean I can't anymore?" Okay, fellow Americans, I'm fucking sick of you jackasses repudiating your civic duty to stay informed about what's going on in your world. I don't care if you skip out on jury duty, and frankly I'd prefer it if you kept your asinine political opinions away from the voting booth, but democracy doesn't fucking work among the ill-informed. You don't like it? Rather kill those brain cells memorizing Paris Hilton's new retarded song or scouring the internet for obscure trivia about that horn guy on America's Got Talent (which, by the way, thanks NBC for proving once and for all that it doesn't) — then move your lazy ass somewhere like Iran or Myanmar, where willful ignorance won't exactly bring you bliss, but it will keep the secret police off your back. I don't want to come across as "America: love it or leave it," but it's got to be tough for the eighty or so protestors keeping vigil, trying to prevent GM from shredding the last of its electric cars, when the rest of the country won't pick up its fair share of the work keeping the nation healthy.