Friday, March 30, 2007

I Hope I Don't Want To Be Famous

I had this dream last night.

A duck walked up to me with a film script tied to his back. I saw on the cover page that it was addressed to a an agent/publicist, so I scooped up the duck and made it my quest to find him, deliver the duck, and get what - a reward? Recognition? Mitigating factors - screenplay looked to be a little short, duck did not scream "Afflac!" at regular intervals.

We have had ducks at the house lately. Every couple of days three of them float in our pool, just like in the first episode of the Sopranos. It drives the dogs nuts. And I'm batting around the idea of a screenplay, something I haven't considered in years. And I also spent some time yesterday thinking of ways to flog STREET. So the dream isn't that difficult to read. I just hope, no matter what happens, that I don't have to spend too much time with any Agents.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Question The Withdrawal? Withdraw The Question!

The Senate has passed the spending bill for the Iraq war, which includes about $120 billion in pork and a little language suggesting a withdrawal date for the troops. The president will veto it.

Predictably there has been a lot of talk about how the dems are trying to "snatch defeat from the jaws of progress" as Joe Lieberman put it. The vote will be framed as the Democrats refusing to fund the troops. This is George Bush's "Now look what you made me do!" talking point, and it's very effective among those with emotional ages of 6 or below.

There is much not to like about a timetable because it's a compromise. You either believe we're winning, in which case a timetable is a terrible idea; or you believe we've already lost, in which case we should be hopping on those choppers home right now. Nobody believes at this point that we've won. And anyone who publicly suggests that we're winning is beaten down, as was John McCain this week, by a heavy pelting of facts.

So as far as most Americans go, the question is "now" vs. "soon as possible".

As an interesting side point, the funding for the war comes mostly from emergency spending bills. Why is this? Because in the real budget, the one the administration claims to be balancing, the war is utterly underfunded. A perfectly workable solution as long as congress agrees with your war plan; not so much now.

And one more side point, about that pork. That'll get a lot of play in the right wing blogs, but I'd be curious to compare it to a typical war-spending bill during the Republican years. Bob Cesca at HuffPo resurrects pictures of Bush signing the bill that introduced Ted Stevens' "bridge to nowhere" amendment. Vetoing pork hasn't been a number one priority for the big fellah. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

STREET World Premiere

I am a genius.

I just wrote a SONG that you will enjoy. Yes, it's a little derivative, and you may find parts of it familiar. However, just roll with it and bask in the unforgettable fire that is me. Why can't the English write like this?

Surreal Estate

The housing market is said to finally be making that correction that everyone predicted. In most places anyway. We bought our West Valley home in 1997 for 200k and when we refi-ed near the end of last year it appraised at 670k. Today, according to the good people at it's worth 631k. Even with the correction, it's a 300% increase in value over 10 years. If I could get my retirement fund to do that, well, I'd retire today and spend my hours rolling naked on a pile of cash, snorting cocaine like it was Nasonex.

I've got to admit that I've been weirdly lucky with money. I grew up kind of poor (as disadvantaged as a white kid in Santa Cruz could get, I guess) but in the early nineties a rich relative I had never heard of died, leaving me some money. First of all, who the hell has rich relatives they had never heard of? This guy, whom I am named after, was apparently a bit anti-social.

Oh hell, here's the story. He was my grandfather. In the thirties he had attempted to sell my dad, a baby at the time, for a keg of beer. This prompted my grandmother to divorce him and the family never spoke of him after. And remember my grandmother was a strict catholic. Anyway, he probably wasn't going to drink the beer (though given my gene pool's substance abuse problems, it's possible) but instead trade it for something else at a profit. Grandaddy died in Arizona, an ostracized millionaire, with a nurse as his only company. And of course no will.

Anyway, as a direct heir I picked up a nice little bundle of cash from the hateful bastard, and invested a lot of it in mutual funds. In the early nineties. Furthermore I took most of it back out in the late nineties to make the down payment on the house, just a couple of years before the stock market crashed. By the time that ship sank I was already on my own houseboat.

So lucky, yes? I'm not rich of course but there is an awfully big yard between my door and the wolf, who is sniffing around outside the gate. I don't normally go in for big yards, but this one isn't so bad. And considering how little money I make at my job, this is quite a nice buffer to have. Screw the wolf!

That last sentence is an example of the kind of thing I'd be wise not to say. My financial security is based, as you can see, entirely on the winds of fate. All it will take is one good tremor and I'm back to sleeping in an open field, surrounded by wolves. Good wolf. Stay.

Oh man, I'm sorry I brought it up. I got NOTHIN'. I'm doomed. I might as well just sell my wardrobe now so there is more room in the abandoned shopping cart for my iMac. I see me eating Chap-Stic stubs by the end of next week.

THIS is why I don't usually write about money.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

THE CRAZIES - Accidental Cross-Generational Metaphor?

This weekend TCM aired THE CRAZIES, George A. Romero's 1973 thiller about a small town overrun by non-zombies. I'm going to talk about it tonight on BOXOFFICE WEEKLY but on that show I skirt politics whenever possible. Therefore I make no mention of the movie's obvious Viet Nam commentary.

THE CRAZIES is saturated in Viet Nam, soaked in it like a Buddhist monk soaked in gasoline. The lead characters are both returned Nam vets, and the story concerns the military occupation of a small town, and the struggle to control an increasingly unruly populace as a biological warfare virus spreads, causing all who contract it to die or go insane. From the military's standpoint they are preventing the spread of a dangerous evil; but because there is an information blackout all the locals see is soldiers with gas masks routing them out of their homes and forcing them into a high school gym at gun point. Oh, and they shoot anyone on sight if they act crazy.

The common enemy in the movie is bureaucracy - supplies and troops are slow to arrive, all communications are delayed by the need for voice-print identification, security is valued over efficiency. Half a dozen times while I watched it, I thought "so this is what it was like at the Superdome in New Orleans."

But the frustration with red tape and the lack of a clear articulation of mission must have seemed very raw at the time of the Viet Name war, then nearing its end. And there is little to distance the story from our current conflict, except the increased prominence of corruption.

It's no accident that THE CRAZIES is being remade by Paramount for release next year. Don't blame Paramount. It's not that the movie reflects our current war, it's that the current war reflects the previous one. Since I'm not of an age where I can be drafted (it's coming, you know it is) I can ignore that danger and concentrate on a less horrible one - a future where we have to relive that early-seventies paranoid/cynical zeitgeist all over again.

Makes you long for a zombie attack, don't it?

Best Wishes to Tony Snow

Seriously. Good luck dude.

Monday, March 26, 2007

In Which I Decline to Blame Bush For Something

The Washington Post reports today on the best corruption story ever - Lawrence Small, the manager of the Smithsonian Museum, is resigning after seven years amid charges of corruption and abuse.

Why is it so great? This is a guy who ran a MUSEUM, people! Not only that - THE museum! He's like a librarian, except for this detail:

The Post reported in February that Small accumulated unauthorized expenses from 2000 to 2005, including charges for chartered jet travel, his wife's trip to Cambodia, hotel rooms, luxury car service, catered staff meals and expensive gifts, according to confidential findings by the Smithsonian inspector general.

Is that not great? He also redecorated his office at a cost of $160,000, which is even worse when you consider that the place is probably packed to the rafters with historical furniture in storage. It kind of gives you hope that someday, even in your humdrum job, you could become super-corrupt too.

I'd love to blame this on the Bush Administration. After all, it happened on his watch. But let's face it, the last thing we want our President to be wasting his time on is the management of the Smithsonian. He presumably would have bigger fish to fry. So I'm giving Chimpy a pass on this one. Instead, I'll be angry at him for the Justice department.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Devil, Daniel Johnston, And Me

Netflix has again provided me with an opportunity to seek out movies I wasn't quite motivated enough to catch at the time. In this case it's THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON, a documentary about the artist/ singer/ songwriter/ maniac who was an underground sensation in the eighties and was cruelly denied his 15 minutes of fame by serious mental illness.

I'm fascinated by this guy. Yes its partially that he is my age, he shares my first name and is multi-talented, and judging from the samples of his work I would be capable of producing at about the same level as him. In fact, the only thing that separates us is my complete lack of both results and a police record for violent attacks. Johnson at least has a cult around him; I got bupkis.

But honestly, how have I never heard of this guy? It's like he was famous in a parallel universe. And I heard of his contemporaries. Johnston did some work with Half-Japanese; heard of them. Kurt Cobain wore a shirt with the logo from Johnston's first record; heard of Cobain. Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd was mentally ill in a big way and I have two of his solo albums. Perhaps part of the reason that Johnston flies below my radar (and crashes the plane he's in, miraculously not killing himself and his dad - true story) is that his songs are awful. Primitive, stumbling, unstructured, and in his signature high reedy voice, he's practically unlistenable. His art is a little easier to take, suggesting a teenage R. Crumb but without that obsessive sexual element. As unlikely as THAT seems.

I'm on a little medication, Johnston is on a LOT. I think perhaps what held me back, paradoxically, is my ability to hold a steady job. I haven't had to produce art to live. If my mental illness was Manic Depression instead of plain vanilla Depression I'd have probably done better. Though obviously there is a downside to that.

Well, that's the very definition of mid-life crisis for you - looking back over your life and regretting the crazy things you haven't done.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

DeLay Feeds The Meme

Here's a little anecdote which illustrates why it's so frustrating to argue with Republicans. Hat tip to THINKPROGRESS, which in turn tips its virtual hat to Daily Kos.

Matthews grilled DeLay about passages in his book where he apparently ripped into fellow corrupt Texan Dick Armey, eventually asking the Hammer about describing Armey as “drunk with ambition.” DeLay denied writing that. “I wrote that he was ‘blinded by his ambition.’” Matthews starts flipping though the book and finds the “drunk with ambition” quote and reads it to Bug Man. And DeLay keeps denying it. Finally, Chris hands the book to Tom and tells him to read it himself. DeLay looks down, pauses, and says “I don’t have my glasses.”
Click on the title and you can watch it yourself.

So you have all the elements - niggling over the the choice of words (I'm open to suggestion over "niggling" by the way) and refusing to admit you're wrong, ever, even in the face of obvious evidence. These aren't necessarily bad qualities, by the way; but if you're wrong most of the time it makes you look as dumb as a bush.

DeLay is going to be an increasing source of entertainment in the coming years too, because he is so firmly in denial about everything. I'm certain, for example, that he still believes that he's a commentator on CNN despite CNN insisting he is not. The Flat Earth Society NEEDS Tom DeLay. He can also loan out his services to that camp that claims they can cure Gay.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shake That Box Of Rats

A guy I used to do improv with was fond of quoting this behavioral experiment. If you put a bunch of rats in a box, and close it up, then start shaking the box, the rats will attack each other. Perhaps it's because they don't know who to attack to make the box stop shaking.

In the case of the right wing blogosphere, it's because the box is just shaking on its own. There is so much indefensible crap going on at the White House nowadays that writing about it is out of the question. Madeline's Dad at Where Are My Keys has creatively taken to complaining that the Liberal Media isn't covering the Sandy Berger documents smuggling story. It's not exactly news at this point, but at least he hasn't started snapping at his boxmates.

For that spectacle, enjoy this account over at Firedog Lake of the public bitch-slapping going on between Matt Drudge and Michelle Malkin. Sample Drudge:

Maybe I’ll stand in front of like a blue screen and hold a banana and start talking into the Internets. (Sneering tone) ‘This is Matt Drudge reporting on Hot Air.’ Agggh. You know. It’s ridiculous. Looks like, you know, Captain Kangaroo time, Michelle. Get real.
Sample Malkin:
You would think someone with a website design circa 1980 might appreciate our priorities.
Indeed. Meanwhile Scarborough snaps at O'Reilly, and everybody hates Alberto. Whew, it's getting hot in here!

It's wrong of me to take pleasure in this. Deliciously wrong. But the sheer novelty of watching the synchronized talking-points team disagree with each other is a spectacle I can't help but savor. I'm thinking of getting one of those paint-mixer machines like they have a Home Depot, to shake the box faster.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ANOTHER Bad Omen For Gonzalez

Bush said this morning that he stands behind him 100%

Did Valerie Plame Lie To the Senate?

No! No, dammit! The title was google-bait for wingnuts. Hi, wingnuts! Welcome aboard - I put out donuts for ya.

Valerie Plame, testifying before the senate on Friday, said that she had nothing to do with sending Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate claims that yellow-cake uranium had changed hands there. "She's lying!" the blogs all scream. "It's perjury! You guys prosecuted Scooter for perjury, and he didn't even DO anything!"

So, where to begin -- no one is disputing Plame's statement that she didn't have the authority to send Wilson to Niger. What they're saying is perjury is Plame's claim that she didn't suggest that he be sent there. The proof? An addendum to the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, in which three Republican senators disagree with the report's conclusions that Valerie Plame didn't have anything to do with sending Joe Wilson to Niger.

The addendum quotes an unnamed intelligence staffer (they're willing to concede that SOMEONE in the office is covert) who said that she was going to recommend that Wilson be sent. However, according to Plame's testimony, "He said his words had been twisted and distorted. He wrote a memo, and he asked his supervisor to allow him to be re-interviewed by the committee. And the memo went nowhere, and his request to be re-interviewed so that the record could be set straight was denied."

It will be easy enough to get another statement from the guy, and the Senate is apparently requesting one. Once it comes in, sane people without an agenda can evaluate it. As for now, the whole talking point rests on this - the official record agrees with Plame, but an addendum to the record written by water-carriers for the administration says she's lying, therefore it must be perjury. You could pursue this argument, but it would be like me saying "hey, it DOES depend on what the meaning of 'is' is!"

Tenuous as the talking-point is, I'm guessing it will get continued traction on Fox News, because it's all they have to fill the news hole left by not discussing Alberto Gonzales resigning and Dick Cheney resigning. And the 4th anniversary of the Iraq war. And the blowback from Bush's South American tour. And whatever happens today, before lunch.

The Kind Of Guy I Am

I'm sitting in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf © right now, and a lady was just kind enough to hand me my bagel, instead of me having to get it myself. "You don't need to give me a tip," she joked.

  1. Immediately, my mind screamed out "Whatever you do, don't invest in show business";
  2. I didn't say it, because I'm shy and I didn't want to step on her punchline;
  3. I'm obsessed with finding a way to say it anwyay, on my way out;
  4. I'm blogging about it.
That's the kind of guy I am.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

David Steinberg's Pinkie Doesn't Make Me Uncomfortable

I watched TV last night. This is becoming an increasingly rare activity for me - I'd rather do this, blogging, what I'm doing now. I skipped the electric teat on Tuesday, because instead of HOUSE they squeezed another hour out of that goddamn AMERICAN IDOL. I want my scripted shows to LOOK like they're scripted, dammit!

So it was an hour with that sprightly DAILY SHOW/COLBERT REPORT combo, followed by COUNTDOWN. The final segment of Countdown was a discussion of the exchange between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell on AMERICAN IDOL the previous night. Somehow the banter had turned to Seacrest's shoes. "Keep out of my closet," the allegedly gay "host" of the show snarled. "Come out!" snapped Simon.

I became uncomfortable. Not because of the attempt to pry an admission out of Seacrest; whatever, more power to him. For that matter, more power to Dunkleman. Here I was, watching a program to avoid watching American Idol, and I was watching American Idol. What's more, the story was a discussion between Olberman and Michael Musto, the gossip columnist, and he makes me uncomfortable. No interview seems more scripted and forced than an interview with Michael Musto. It's not that he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself, it just the timing always seems a quarter-beat too late because he's reading and talking at the same time. This is of course true of anyone who appears on a cable news show for a segment, but Musto somehow makes it more awkward. Maybe it's the material?

10:00pm rolled around and I didn't want to watch the Daily Show again (East Coast feed - don't let it bother you too much) so I flipped around and settled on SIT-DOWN COMEDY WITH DAVID STEINBERG. He was talking to Jon Stewart.

Before I get to what really is bugging me, let me point out that the pinkie on Steinberg's left hand is bent at an impossible angle. It could function as another thumb. And Steinberg talks with his hands a lot. It's a little distracting, but I've been up close to the late John Carradine, who had arthritis that was so severe that all 10 fingers were bent at impossible angles, like he'd gotten them caught in a prism. You adjust.

But this was a talk show in which the guest was essentially a talk show host. And when that happens, it's always a very, very uncomfortable experience. It's like two dancers trying to lead. It's as natural and yin and yin.

Steinberg would ask Stewart about the difficulties of interviewing a world leader on a comedy show, and Stewart would then ask Steinberg what it was like subbing for Johnny on the Tonight Show. It became a talk show with two talk show hosts talking about the talk show business. Somewhere, an alternate universe phased out. Apparently next week the guest will be Gary Shandling, who played a talk show host in a ground-breaking sitcom about the real backstage world of talk shows.

Something is fundamentally wrong with Steinberg's bookers.

Maybe the problem is that TV Land is a TV network which is litererally about television. I don't know. But I do know that by the end of the night, when I was trying to get to sleep, I was jumpy and irritable, as though I'd been caught in a 60-cycle ground loop and aborbed too much electricity. I eventually fell asleep, but I dreamt that I was dreaming about falling asleep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bad Omen For Gonzalez REDUX

Spoke too soon again. I'm only reading a few blogs (when their servers are working) and OF COURSE the talking point about the Clintons and attorney firing had been taken up. However, I like to think that "Madeline's Dad" read this before he posted his unusually long remarks on the subject, linked to in the title. SOMEONE must be reading this, right?

The Left Sucks Too

As a political blogger, I consider it my mission to trash the other side. But even I get bored of it after a while, and it's not like the left is a bunch 'o saints either. In fact, you know, basically my philosophy is this -- if they've gotten to the point that they're well-known enough to be electable, it's already too late. Big money has gotten them. And if a pundit is identified with the left or the right, they're lying about their true opinions about half the time, because staying on one side is good for talent bookers.

I have no such constraints, because there's no money in this. I'm not saying I can't be corrupted -- It's just that to date no one has bothered. So while I can still afford it, here's a list of things that tick me off about my own side of the spectrum.

  1. John Kerry. Humorless, inauthentic, looks like Herman Munster. I suppose it's not surprising that he was elected to the senate, and once there incumbency has taken care of him, but I can't imagine a less appealing candidate for anything, anywhere.
  2. The War Vote. This may be my biggest beef with the whole party. Iraq? And you really all BELIEVED that nonsense? It seemed pretty obvious to ME at the time that Iraq had nothing to do 9/11, nor had they attacked us. Y'all voted for it because you were afraid that we'd dislike you. Well, that's why we all like Obama now. Triangulation is the dark side of open-mindedness.
  3. "Poor people are poor because nuclear power plants are polluting the atmosphere!" Not a real quote, but a National Lampoon satire of Jane Fonda from the late seventies. There are good practical reasons to regulate business, help the poor and protect the environment, but much of the left pursues these things because of the warm fuzzies they get out of it. This quote is dangerously close to countless things I've read from various actors over the years. We have too many spokespeople, and a lot of them are just stupid. BTW, if anyone can confirm or deny that P. J. O'Roarke wrote this, I'd be grateful.
  4. Lecturing. We can be pretty insufferable some times. The right does it too, but I'm not writing about them now. Now sit down and don't interrupt.
  5. The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations. Nobody can make the homeless feel even MORE disenfranchised then us. The left is always more willing to give a man a fish than to teach him how to fish. Not everybody can reel in the big one, but more people can than we think. There is a tremendous hubris among lefties, and we often believe that only we can save the world/the poor/the environment. We are mistaken. Except about the environment.
  6. The DNC. The Democratic National Committee has been leading us into the wilderness since the early 90's. The DNC made Ralph Nader look viable. The DNC turned Al Gore into a wooden cypher. The DNC said, "Howard Dean? Who could like him! Let's run Kerry instead." The DNC is an ocean that Karl Rove has been catching the big waves on for too long.
  7. Air America. It's great that there is such a thing... it's just bad radio. How difficult can it be to find left-leaning entertainers?

Hillary Clinton gets honorable mention (see 2, 4 and 5) as do any Fox News regulars - if you were good at articulating the position, they'd throw you off the guest list pal. And the list is by no means complete. The complete list, though, is about a tenth of the size of my list of things about the right that tick me off.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bad Omen For Gonzalez

You know this recent rash of state attorney firings, and how they're saying it's no big deal because Clinton did it too? I haven't seen that one picked up by PUBLIUS, MADELINE'S DAD or even NO LEFT TURNS. Even among the coalition of the willing, this one may not fly.

Scooter Libby Verdict - Maybe It's Just Me

As you know, I get all my right-wing talking points from the blogs that quote them. This allows the craziness to distill, and it comes to me without any of the leavening mendacity that a true expert provides. For example, the other day I read that the lack of bad news coming out of Iraq PROVES that the surge is working. "It may be working, but a lack of evidence is the opposite of proof," I countered. "No no, this is absolute proof!" my talking-point-quoting friends screamed. I'm guessing, based on the tone, that it originated with Hannity.

But the far more interesting adventure in logic this week has been the assertion that it's a travesty of justice that I. "Scooter" Libby has been convicted of lying to a Grand Jury. I suppose that point is arguable, but when you point out that Clinton got the same treatment they insist this is NOTHING like THAT.

"Lying to a grand jury about a crime is indeed a crime. A very serious one at that. But as MadelinesDad pointed out- there was never a crime to lie about." See, in right-wing world Valerie Plame wasn't even WITH the CIA, or she was the CIA spokesperson. She had a big CIA hat and everyone in town knew she was an agent. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was covering up his Monica Lewinsky indiscretion because it would directly prove he had raped a half-dozen women in Arkansas.

"Fitzgerald was on a fishing expedition! He already had a leaker with Richard Armitage." I pointed out that it was possible for more than one government official to leak the same information, but this got me nowhere rhetorically. After all, Armitage is a traitor who has subsequently disagreed with the President about the war. And he probably drinks and beats his children. Get on that one, Drudge.

So the way I see it Libby obstructs investigation about national security breach at least equals Clinton obstructs investigation about blow job. What am I missing? How can these people twist logic so far to accomodate their talking points? Doesn't it hurt after a while?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Spudboy

I endured my 45th birthday yesterday. I'm neurotic about birthdays (and Christmas, the only holiday I really would declare war on) so I kept it on the down-low as much as possible. People at work have been asking when my birthday is; I told them I don't have one. Mrs. K. begged me to allow her to give me a gift or take me out and eventually she wore me down enough that I let her cook me a delicious steak dinner. This was very generous of her because she doesn't like steak, and it certainly was delicious; the only think that kept it from being a perfect meal is that it had that birthday thing attached to it.

Otherwise I made it a point to avoid "celebrating". For example, I spent the early part of the day cleaning house, like I would do any Sunday. Perhaps the only other concession I made to this day was watching a DVD of DEVO videos.

Devo is a pet obsession of mine. I love that a band so weird, brainy and angry made it to the top of the charts. It never should have happened. And reviewing the material, it strikes me that they were 10 times weirder and angrier than I recognized at the time. Their sound was a LOT closer to the Residents than Van Halen.

Also you think of them as one of the major synth bands, but the truth is that the music they're most famous for is guitar and drum-driven. WHIP IT, for example, has a synth for accents but the hook is that perky, nervous guitar figure. Same with JOCKO HOMO or GIRL U WANT.

They had an aggressive, insectoid sexuality about them. These were horny nerds. All of their most tasteless material (the number of times they nickname a girl "Donut" in these videos is staggering) concerns sex. In fact all their videos arguably are songs about sex (GIRL YOU WANT, PEEKABOO, WHIP IT) or protest songs (BEAUTIFUL WORLD, POST-POST MODERN MAN, FREEDOM OF CHOICE). Yes, protest songs. Devo was the Barry McGuire of the eighties.

The spudboys had about 8 years at the top, a pretty good run for a rock band, but they spent most of the time then and all of their time now resenting Warner Brothers records. Check out sleazy music-biz-caricature "Rod Rooter" of Big Entertainment in a couple of promos for the band. He brought to mind a bit of stage banter I heard on a live recording of JOCKO HOMO in the early nineties - it was a slow accoutic folk version and when it was done Mark Mothersbaugh said, "I bet you didn't know that was such a sad song. And I bet you don't know why we are sitting down... it's to prove that we still can, after twelve years in this business."

Devo concieved and directed their own videos, and it shows. They weren't just trying to sell records, they were making points. That always translates to low production values. In a few cases, low LOW production values.

This combination or art, anger, twisted geek sex and weirdness helped shape me, making me into the man I am today.

I forgive them.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dems Eschew Fox For The Best Possible Reason

You probably read about this...the Nevada Democratic Party has declined to allow Fox News to televise their upcoming debate. The stated positions were as follows: Pros: allows Democrats to reach a wider audience. Cons: Fox was going to run sneaky graphics and subtitles and cut it off before the end.

I don't think that's really what was going on at all.

Fox has been seeing declining numbers for the last year, as Americans are realizing that as much fun as Fox is, it's not good for them. So I believe that the upside for FOX was reaching a wider audience, and the Democrats realized that even if the debate wasn't messed with at all, they'd be pumping lifeblood into a rapidly dying...Golem. Honestly it's late in the week and my metaphor capabilities are damaged.

But the takeaway here is that you don't help the bully up when he trips, because once he's on his feet again he's just going to give you a wedgie and take your lunch money. You walk away from the bully, and convince everybody else to point and laugh at him.

As goes the ideology, so goes the house organ.

The Far Side Moves Back To the Periphery, Where it Belongs

The revelation this week that the PATRIOT Act included a clause that allows for the president to fire and replace district court judges federal district attorneys can't look good to my friends at They keep saying that we're all paranoids, and Bush Derangement Syndrome is the reason why we think he's consolidating power. This clause, and the heavy-handed use its been put to recently, is almost impossible to credit to the fight against terror. I say "almost" because, let's face it, there's always Britt Hume.

Anyway, I'm assuming the Townhall people have little to say about it, but it's been almost impossible to load them today. Same with NO LEFT TURNS. I've heard of similar bandwidth problems with CONSERVAPEDIA, the alternative Wikipedia for people who insist on a stated bias in their facts. Tom Delay has announced that he's signing on as a commentator with CNN, which is a little chilling but at least he will only be able to influence people by talking to them, rather than threatening to bury their chances of passing the farm subsidies bill. (note: Okay, maybe he's just going to stick to blogging)

Ten years ago the President visited Brazil and he was beloved; this week the President visited Brazil and was greeted with signs implying that he's Hitler. Sooter Libby was convicted of obstructing justice, and the jury's most prominent question was "why is this the guy on trial when he's obviously covering up for the Vice President?"

The NeoCon dream is going down faster than Paris Hilton at a Handycam demonstration booth. And high time too! This Democracy is constructed so that the rule comes from the center... maybe a little to the right, maybe a little to the left, but there are safeguards to prevent anything so very wierd as the last six years from taking place. Democracy prevents us having a President who says "the jury is is still out on evolution."

Sure it's possible to circumvent the forces of centrism, but you wind up being voted out.

So it's comforting so see all this going on. I'm liberal but I'm perfectly happy to lose some battles. Most people are for the death penalty? Fine! I'll live in a country with the death penalty. Watching the neocon blimp hit the tower and burst into flames has provided me with the first warmth I've felt in a long, long time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The O'Spielberg Factor

You know how much I love press releases.

Film Contest Calls On Filmmakers To Expose Corrupt Union Bosses

Union bosses constantly employ ruthless tactics to serve their personal needs. Labor leaders’ most recent grab for power is an attack on workplace democracy in the form of the grossly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

If passed at the federal level, EFCA would replace secret-ballot elections with the petition-like “card check” -- a process which exposes workers to fraud, violence, and intimidation. To illustrate how far from “free choice” this bill actually falls, the Center for Union Facts kindly suggests a more accurate name: Criminal Rape of American Principals, or CRAP.

Luckily, honest Americans do not have to take this attack sitting down. Armed with little more than the truth and a video camera, citizens can fight back with the End CRAP commercial contest.

The fight against union corruption starts with basic education.

Labor bosses’ dirty laundry includes deception and intimidation during organizing campaigns, strikes that hurt members more than they help, and spending mandatory union dues on radical left-wing agendas. Despite these corrupt tactics and criminal activities, many people still remain unaware of the true nature of union leadership.

Not anymore.

To show Americans the truth about today's union leadership, the Center for Union Facts challenges young filmmakers to combine facts and humor in a 30 second commercial. Aimed at an audience that assumes -- too often -- union leaders are well-intentioned advocates, the ad should address organized labor’s deception, violence, harassment, intimidation or discrimination from a unique angle. The entrant with the winning commercial will win $5,000 and have his or her advertisement air on national television.

To find out more, go to There you will find a wealth of information about the size, scope, political agendas, and criminal activity of the labor movement and further details about the End CRAP ad contest.

What to add here... well, nothing says TRUTH like a 30-second spot, and nothing says HUMOR like "deception, violence, harassment, intimidation or discrimination". How do I feel about unions? Usually corrupt, and usually less corrupt than the businesses they're opposed with. And at least they're corrupt on MY side. I wonder if I can fit that into a 30-second spot?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Comedy Guilt

I have to fess up to this. Yesterday I wrote that Ann Coulter had botched her most recently famous joke, only to have my BEST FRIEND Skot point out that I had simply missed the reference. Damn you Skot! You have forced me to peer into the dark heart of my own aesthetic soul.

Ann Coulter isn't funny to me because I don't want her to be. If I agreed that liberals are godless terrorists who laugh when soldiers are killed, I'd probably be able to take her jests in the good-natured spirit that she intends. I'm calling her comedy-blind; truth is it's me, in this case.

This changes some perspectives. If comedy has a liberal bias, as it does appear to do, then when a comedy show is popular it must be appealing to the liberal part of people. The red states aren't red, and the blue states aren't blue - they're shades of purple. Our nation is actually an enormous bruise. Otherwise, the Daily Show would be off the air, and so would 24. We are all closer than we want to admit.

THE 1/2 HOUR NEWS HOUR, though, is still doomed. Ain't nothin' gonna save that show.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Oh No, Ann Coulter Again

Yeah, it's been a big weekend - Ann Coulter said something controversial. Speaking at CPAC (a Republican convention, mostly a place to trade bubble-gum cards and compete for the best red tie/blue suit costume) Coulter joked that she wouldn't talk about John Edwards because you get sent to rehab nowadays for using the word "faggot".

It's even funnier if you're twelve!

She's gotten a lot of bad press for this comment, but most of it misses the most important point, which is that it's a poorly constructed gag. Ted Haggard is the current rehab go-to reference, and he was sent there because he is was a faggot. See? That's where the funny is.

This is why Ann Coulter is such a bad spokesperson for the right - she's comedy blind. Clearly most of what she gets in trouble for is supposed to be funny (indeed she often says it was a joke when called out) but most people don't believe her because it simply doesn't play that way.

I hate to admit it, but Michael Moore is in the same boat. He's funny about 30% of the time and about 37% when he's explicitly TRYING to be funny.

Last night me and the missus took in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND. Idi Amin was a pretty funny guy, up until he started slaughtering his enemies in the streets. Said it here before folks - extremists make lousy comedians.



Skot makes a good point, that Coulter may have been referring to the recent GRAY'S ANATOMY kerfuffle. Probably correct, though GA is so far under my radar (Gaydar?) that you can't blame me for assuming that Ann Coulter hasn't been following it either. Whatever, she's still not funny.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Lessons Of New Orleans

Look! It's George Bush! He's touring Georgia, a state recently devastated by a tornado. The second it happened, he made plans, got in a plane and high-tailed it over there.

And as you can see, Kanye West was dead wrong. He LOVES black people! He even called off the Secret Service long enough to hug one of them, though he was unable to hug back because he had to make a couple of calls. Here, he is making sure that the next Iran Nuclear evidence has at least some writing in Farsi on it.

Uh oh, time's up! Gotta move on to the next black person. Pat him down good first, boys!

(Click on the title to read the Associated Press biased liberal account of the trip)