Wednesday, May 31, 2006
One Set Of Footprints
I pray sometimes. I do. It sounds like a weird thing for a registered Democrat to do and heck, they might even kick me out of the party for admitting it, but I don't care; sometimes the world just gets too heavy to carry, you know? Sometimes you need to reach out, to push away from the distractions of everyday including the people around me always bothering me, bothering me, bothering me with their inane offers of non-deity help and I'm all: "Stop trying to help me, I'm praying, assface!"
This morning I prayed. I gnashed my teeth and beat my breast and pulled my hair out and wailed to the heavens imploring God to give me guidance and support, to show me a way forward when all paths seem thin and crooked and overgrown. Use my good intentions to pave the way to your holy power so that I might make people do what I want them to do!
My crisis of faith was precipitated by the departure of Katie Couric from the Today show this morning. If it weren't bad enough that our Katie was leaving us forever, I had to sit through eight hours (it was eight hours, right? It sure felt like it) of retrospective clips reminding me of everything I'd be missing.
Summer is coming and who will tell me what my "Summer Fashion No-Nos" are? How will I know if I should continue breastfeeding my three-year-old? Who else is going to take up the live-colonoscopy slack in morning television?
She's going. I can't believe she's going. I'm not sure I want to live in a world not lit and warmed by her light. Flowers do not bloom. Birdsong dies in the strangled throats of muted, joyless birds. All days are winter and I have only white shoes.
Sure, I could just flip over to CBS Evening News and see her every single day, but that's not the point.
My God, how I will miss her. The only thing keeping me from killing myself is the hard realization I made several years ago that it was really Matt Lauer I was masturbating to every morning, not Katie. So I still have that. And my Lauer/Roker slash-fic. But Katie was an integral part of my fantasy life as well. Now, in the stories I weave in my mind, who will wander on to the darkened set only to stumble upon Matt and Al 69'ing each other? Meredith Vieira?
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.9
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
So I was kind of out of it this weekend as it was time for the wife and I to take our annual Peyote Weekend out in the desert (this year was a good one as I saw: dead grandfather, talking snake, flying squadron of ostriches, many colors that do not exist in the visible spectrum, plus I drew what I thought was an impressionistic masterpiece in the sand that later turned out to be a stick figure peeing), but I did manage to hear something about a horrendous earthquake in Indonesia that killed thousands of people. Kind of a downer after a full mescaline weekend, but that's the way of the world, right?
I turned on my TV this morning to get some details and the lead story everywhere: JOURNALISTS ATTACKED!
People in Baghdad affected by violence in the form of an improvised explosive device?! Lawks!
I swear the lead stories they teased at the opening of the Today show on NBC this morning were 1) Wounded journalists 2) poison ivy and 3) the annoying delay between pushing the button and taking the picture on a digital camera. Not kidding. Wish I were.
I know that journalists getting blown up is sad and all, but really, more newsworthy than 6,000 dead Indonesians? I get that the Indonesians are foreigners, but still, the sheer numbers...
I also get that a journalist's favorite word is "colleague." There's nothing a journalist loves more than talking about their "colleagues" when reporting a news story, because it usually means somebody who is not them has seriously fucked something up.
Stories like this and the ABC World News Tonight guy who got blown up all get WAY over-reported because they hit newsrooms where everyone goes "Oh my God, that could have been ME!" Then they do what they hope others would do for THEM if they got blown up by an Iraqi IED, that is plaster their faces all over every station and hail them as brave, brave heroes who never shied away from a story rather than one of hundreds who got blown up in Iraq that day because they were standing at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I'm not discounting the horror of this incident with the journalists. I know it's dangerous to be there. Any loss of life is unpleasant and tragic, but that means ANY loss of life, not just the ones that belonged to people you sat two tables over from at a Press Club function.
But look, journalists, you don't have to go to Iraq and get blown up to prove to me that you're brave. Do good research, ask honest questions and demand clear answers. That's not nearly as hard AND you get to sleep in your own bed next to your spouse at the end of the day. We won't think you're pussies if you don't go. It's not like you're the Republican twenty-something male bloggers who DEMAND that we see this Iraq thing through to its bloody end while never once thinking of actually signing up to help. Unlike them, you can actually still DO something without stepping into harm's way.
And I'll even say nice things about you without waiting for you to get blown up first. Honest. Just because I can't think of anything now doesn't mean it isn't possible.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7
Monday, May 29, 2006
Memorial Bucket Cheap Picture Blogging
Hey there! Buenos noches, compadres! Happy Memorial Day! Welcome to the Rio Grande! What, whoa, hey now... you just keep to your side there, José. I might be smiling and waving, looking for all the world like the face of peace and democratic prosperity, but let me tell you, that's what the Iraqis thought too. And look what happened to them. You don't want to come here. No, no, go back to Chiapas, amigo. Warm there. Very tropical. Up here there's no way you're going to make more than fifteen-grand a year. Hey, hold on now, that's not very much! I know it might sound like a lot, but you'd only qualify for three or four credit cards, tops, with that kind of income. No way to live, compañero.
Besides, we got some crazies this side of the border. Gringos muy locos, if you follow. Vigilante types. Hearts're in the right place, but ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you know what I mean. But they all got dunebuggies like this here. And flashlights. And notebooks.
If you do insist on crossing, best wait until I'm clear of this place. First of all, wouldn't look too good for me politically to have people crossing the border illegally right in front of me, so you'd be doing me a favor. Second, I've never driven one of these things sober, so I'd wait a bit for your own safety.
I'd stay and chat, but we're on our way to pick up Jeb's wife and deport her. Mom had us do it once before back on the night before their wedding night back in '74, but damn if Jeb didn't track her down and marry her anyway. This time we're just doing it for fun. Yee-fuckin'-haw!
God bless America!
[Note: if you go back and look at the speech Bush gave this year and the one he gave last year on Memorial Day (partially excerpted in the link in this post's title), you'll notice that in certain sections there are exactly the same speech, verbatim. Particularly the part that goes "We will honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives." Time to update that punch-card, Robo-Prez.]
Friday, May 26, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #33
An Inconvenient Truth
starring Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
directed by Davis Guggenheim (a bunch of TV including 24, Alias, Deadwood, The Shield)
I graduated from high school in 1992. There I was, like most 18 year olds, looking crisp and fresh in my dark blue suit from the Brooks Brothers Young Dictators department and my freshly ironed socks, Mahler on the Walkman, valise packed and ready for my first day at men-only Bible college.
Every once in a while, I would turn on The Arsenio Hall Show as part of my job as the Recording Secretary of the European-American Preservation Society Student Union to keep an eye on the blacks. The Observation & Listening Report Form does not fill itself in.
I'd heard a presidential candidate was going to be on the show, so I was paying closer attention than I usually would. I mean, this was my work. Otherwise, why would any self-respecting white kid be watching this show? It had the rock and roll on it. And worse, sometimes even the hippity-hop. Clearly this Hall person was Satan's instrument.
I'm waiting for the Democrat candidate to show his face, but instead they cut to this guy--the old white guy--standing up with the band, ill-fitting, ridiculous sunglasses on, playing some old devil-music on a saxophone. Me, I'm all: "Bo-ring! Get to the presidential candidate so I can hear what he thinks about trade imbalances!"
Imagine my horror when I found out that the guy with the saxophone WAS the presidential candidate!
Oh how my world spun out of control. Could this be right? Someone running for president who a) talks to black people and b) plays their music and c) wears sunglasses indoors.
Turns out that was the thin end of the wedge, which was then shoved the rest of the way in (not saying in where) by that devil vixen Tabitha Soren and MTV's Choose or Lose campaign. Oh Tabitha and her sultry, mousey, come-hither-and-vote looks, barely masking her contempt for George H.W. Bush while he shot laser death beams at her.
They told me: "Bill Clinton cares what young people think!"
And I said: "No, he's the Anti-Christ! I can totally tell he has a penis!"
They said: "Bill Clinton loves you!"
And I said: "Bill... Clinton... LOVES ME!"
And that was it. My whole political reality collapsed. I went out and immediately bought a poncho.
I voted for Bill Clinton in '92 (because "he gets it, man") and in '96.
In 2000, Bill Clinton gave us Al Gore.
At first I wasn't sure what to think. Brooks Brothers suit (from the Men's Dictator section), Ivy League, blueblood pedigree, all the oozing personality of a tarp.
But then the other guy he was running against had all the same flaws, only on top of it, he was "from" Texas and clearly slightly retarded. So though I had no great affection for Al Gore (mostly because of the unforgivable sin of Not Being Bill Clinton), he was my guy. By default? Sure. But still, my guy.
Now after the trauma of 2000 and of '04, here's Al again, doing what he does best: driving people who voted for him in 2000 crazy by being relaxed, engaging and likeable. What a dick.
The reviews of this film--this An Inconvenient Truth, Al's cinematic PowerPoint presentation about global warming--all say basically the same thing: it's an Al Gore PowerPoint presentation about global warming and it totally doesn't make you want to kill yourself!
It's sort of damning with faint praise I guess, but from everything I read, despite the lack of zazz or mutant powers or nudity (I hope to God no nudity), it's actually watchable as much as any Al Gore PowerPoint presentation about global warming could be.
It sounds awfully dull, but from what I've read, this limited release is selling out here in SoCal. But then this is a den of hippie group-think where we totally buy into this "global warming" crap or really just about anything fed to us by prominent members of the Democratic/Hollywood Public Policy Workgroup. You know, the same people who brought you Abortion on Demand! and It's OK For Boys To Kiss.
So I have no intention of seeing this movie, but mostly because it comes out during the summer, on Memorial Day Weekend no less. Pretty ballsy for a nature documentary. Unfortunately, I have a strict no-documentaries-on-the-big-screen policy I must abide by, alas. It came back and stung me in the past through such great films as Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins and the magisterial modern-health piece That Magnificent Vagina, but a policy is a policy. The big screen is reserved for movies with explosions. Things like our X-Men 3, which I could not cover today as I have every intention of seeing it.
Despite all that, the fact that this movie, Al Gore's movie, even exists warms me. Again, I won't say where, but it warms me. Is it a ploy to re-introduce Al to the American public in preparation for an '08 run for president, possibly saving us from the unelectable Hillary tsunami? I hope so. I'd hate to be put in a position where I have to vote for a tsunami.
Two (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale
My name is Pops and I approved this message.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Oh my God, could you people believe the end of American Idol last night? Holy crap, what a great evening of television! It's so completely different than spending two hours watching karaoke night at Chili's! It's not the same as that at all! For one thing, it has better production values... but Chili's has got boneless buffalo wings, so take that, FOX-TV!
OK, so I have never seen a single episode of American Idol. I've seen clips here and there, but I've never watched it. Never. Not once. When I tell people this, I get roughly the same reaction as I would if I told them I had a gremlin in my pocket or, say, two penises. Actually, I'm not sure "gremlin in my pocket" isn't some kind of slang for having two penises. I'll have to check with Urban Dictionary to be sure.
Rest assured, however, that while I do not in fact have a "gremlin in my pocket" (wink wink), it is true that I do not nor have I ever watched American Idol.
At this point, non-American Idol watching just seems contrarian. I mean, it's like 3 of the top 10 shows of the week every week. Everybody--everybody--is into this except for me. Demographically speaking, I'm like the lonesome, terrified hero of a zombie movie where everyone else has been infected by the zombie-disease and I--plucky, intrepid, resourceful, no taste for brains--am rushing around trying to avoid being bitten and (if I have time) save the world.
Except that "save the world" business seems like a lot of work. So mostly it's just about hiding from the scary, scary people who want to corner me and talk about American Idol. In case any of you were curious, decapitation cures people of this tendency just as well as it does zombie-ism. Plus cutting off someone's head is slightly less socially awkward than riding through a one-way conversation you lack both the ability and the interest to participate in.
I guess I should have some kind of opinion about the outcome. All I know is that some old dude won and beat out the young chick with the spectacular rack. I think we can pretty much guess how I feel about that, can't we? I've never heard either of the people involved sing a single note, but the social dispensation for young chicks with spectacular racks is absolute: the fact that she didn't win by default is yet another sign of the degradation of our culture, leading us down the inevitable path from metaphorical cultural zombie-ism to actual zombie-ism. Seriously, you leave these openings and the zombies slide right in.
To be clear though, and I know none of you will fault me for this, the reason I do not watch American Idol is not because of any kind of snobbery. I've got nothing against wasting time paying attention to something that is ultimately meaningless. I mean, you're reading this, aren't you? How could I complain? This is clearly better than some goddamn karaoke show, but that's only because there's nothing worse than a goddamn karaoke show. I recognize my own lack of redeeming social value.
The reason I don't watch American Idol is simple: Ryan Seacrest.
Nothing involving Ryan Seacrest gets any of my time. Don't care what it is. If his next project is Ryan Seacrest Saves Crippled Orphans From Burning Buildings, I have to be honest with you people, I'm rooting for the flames. I feel bad for the kids of course, but what would be worse, dying of asphyxiation brought on by smoke inhalation and then being burned past recognition OR being approached/touched/talked to by Ryan Seacrest? I rest my case. Come on, they're already orphaned and crippled. Leave them alone.
Unlike those of you outside the LA radio/TV market, I have been afflicted with the Seacrest for much, much longer. He was a local DJ on KYSR radio for a long time and now does the morning show on KIIS-FM. He took over for the equally awful Master of Cheese Rick Dees and now can be heard (I presume) ruining morning radio the same way he ruins television.
Two things about him irk me the most:
1) He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cheapens the whole Walk of Fame, in my opinion. And this is a decorated sidewalk traversed primarily by whores. You saw Pretty Woman. Except instead of Julia Roberts, the actual whores look a little more like Jason Alexander. But it was Seacrest who made it cheap.
2) What he did to poor Dick Clark. It's OK to have ambition and everything, but giving an old guy a stroke just so you can take his job is a step too far, in my opinion. Yep, that's where I draw the line. Dick did American Bandstand and top 40 radio and New Year's Eve. I guess Ryan decided he needed to have ALL these gigs to himself. This is clearly a Single White Female situation and I refuse to be an enabler.
As for the rest of you watching American Idol, well... I don't know what Dick Clark ever did to you, but he deserves better. If anything happens to Casey Kasem, I will never forgive you people.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Junk In The Trunk
For a while there I was seriously considering re-registering myself as a Republican. I know, I've got old-school JFK-lovin' Irish-Catholics on one side of the family and all pinko union people on the other, so it seems like blasphemy. Plus there's no telling what kind of looks I'll get when I stroll into the Liberace Memorial Gay Immigrant Abortion & Racquet Club all decked out in my GOP-required finest: an Izod golf shirt (collar not popped), my Dockers pleated khakis and sensible, color-free loafers, all worn unironically. If the entire membership weren't all a bunch of pansy pacifists, I'd fear for my safety.
Until very recently, I was at the end of my rope with these goddamn Democrats. I mean, I keep hearing about all these Republicans getting busted for corruption and bribery; these people are clearly working. The job of serving the American people in Congress involves a time-honored tradition of openly, brazenly doing the work of the wealthiest few in exchange for a small consideration in the form of a satchel loaded with small, unmarked bills. This is how democracy has always worked. John Adams famously endorsed brand-name medical leeches over "inferior, unsafe" generic ones in exchange for the princely sum of $75 dollars. The party of my youth seems to have forgotten that.
I gave them a lot of slack because it's not really their fault. I mean, what's the point in bribing a Democrat? There's something so Pet Rock about the idea. I can only imagine that a really good corrupt lobbyist would only do it for the kitsch, for the novelty of it. Maybe they're just completists, like they have to have ALL the Congresspeople on their payroll the same way other people collect entire sets of baseball cards, even the guys nobody ever heard of like, say, everyone who ever played for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The point is that, without any arrests, I don't see the Democrats working. They're just sort of standing there, yakking away about how awful it is to take money in exchange for services rendered and what an abomination it is to cheapen the office of Member of Congress by selling influence to the highest bidder. That just sounds like jealousy to me. The scoliotic, asthmatic mathletes in high school don't hate the jocks for their athletic prowess--that can be dismissed as genetics--
That's why I was happy to see that finally--finally!--someone on our side was getting a piece of the action. Look! A Democrat is doing something! It was a signal to me that there was someone out there, somewhere, who felt like a Democrat was important enough to bribe. Even if it was just an FBI agent working a sting, that's fine. They don't sting you if you're not corrupt and you can't be corrupt if you're a total nobody.
I can relate somewhat because I've had a lot of different jobs. Loading delivery vans? Nothing. Work in a video store? All handjobs in the store-rooms. Being the guy who operates the computer that records the late-fees, that's power. I know what it means to have leverage.
Republicans know times are changing as well. They got right out in front on this whole Jefferson bribery thing. They're all up in arms about the search on a Congressman's offices. For "constitutional reason" not because it could affect them directly in the short-term, noooo.
See, they don't even care how it sounds. They basically have come out in support of the guy who has been filmed taking bribes. This is part of the reason why I was considering switching; these are people who know how to run a kleptocracy.
Sure, Rep. Jefferson's own personal scandal is sort of stupid: taking money in order to send it to Nigeria. It's sort of embarrassing that this whole thing could have been avoided had he a) learned to better filter his unsolicited e-mails and b) made one visit to 419eater.com. Look, just because they say they're the former president of Zaire's widow who has $160 million to launder ASAP in the e-mail doesn't mean it's true. And you should never send them any money. You know how Africans are with money; they'll spend it all on alcohol, bling and other Congresspeople.
Yes, it's ridiculous as scandals go, but still it's a scandal. And that's the reason why I'm not switching. How hard have times been? Rep. Jefferson is said to have taken money from agents and put it into the trunk of his 1990 Lincoln Town Car. They've been long, lean years, my friends. But now I know Democrats can still get it done. Now all we need do is find a way to lose seats in the upcoming midterm elections and I'll be happy to remain a part of the Democratic party I've known for most of my adult life.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.5
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Swimming From Alcatraz
OK, I'm back. Am I a little disappointed that no news reached my ears of any sort of worldwide panic or wave of global existential malaise caused by my brief distraction by the rigors of everyday life? Sure. But I'm going to go ahead and assume that's because journalists were caught up in the very same malaise and simply lacked the will or energy to report it.
And while there were no eruptions of spontaneous group violence related to my absence specifically, I rest assured in the knowledge that you all, no doubt, suffered in your own way because I skipped Monday.
As for why I went missing, well, I could do what I usually do and entertain you all with some fantastical and obvious lie replete with invented details and manufactured melodrama, but frankly, my NSA case-handler has forbidden me from discussing my freelance work in any detail. I'm not even allowed to mention that I've done any work for the NSA. So if anyone asks, shhh...
My supervisor and I have agreed that my official cover story will be that I was gone because this weekend my oldest boy turned seven. We did NOT--repeat, did NOT--celebrate this by spending ANY kind of time in a bunker deep underneath a mountain in Wyoming, looking at satellite images on a computer monitor and directing orbital laser platforms to eliminate individual enemy targets in Afghanistan from space. Did NOT. I mean, ha ha, we don't even have that kind of technology as a country. Ha ha.
Instead what we did was some typical kid-birthday stuff ending with dinner at one of those Japanese places where they cook your food in front of you whilst (yeah, I said "whilst") throwing the cutlery around. I like to think that my son likes this place because of the casual ambience, the social nature of the participatory experience and the quality of the food, but deep down I know that it's because the cooking implements are shiny and make a clanky-clank sound when banged together. But a father can dream.
My deeper concern is that, as a seven-year-old, my boy has officially reached what the Catholic church refers to as the age of reason. Apparently he's now officially old enough to qualify for Hell. To celebrate this, we bought him some Star Wars toys and a subscription to Playboy.
Actually, what this ostensibly means is that he is supposedly old enough to start making some moral discernments for himself, which means by extension that he is to be expected to shoulder some of the weight of his own sin. Frankly, it's a relief to know, at least theologically speaking, that EVERYTHING is no longer my fault.
In practice, this is an old idea left over from Olden Times (as an historian by training, this is my favorite phrase ever) when at the age of seven, a boy would start along the path that would determine the course of the rest of his life either by taking up education or the first steps toward taking religious orders or, in the case of peasant farmers, why it's more advisable to milk the cows and not the bulls or, finally, in the case of young nobles, how to finger the chambermaid.
These days, of course, we put adulthood off longer and longer. College isn't even the delimitor of personal independence as more and more of us leave the dorms and move straight back in with our parents while we try to figure out what exactly it is we can do with a degree in 18th century Italian rhyming poetry. I mean BESIDES kill ourselves.
As the social mark of being "grown up" gets pushed farther and farther out, seven these days is practically still infancy. And that's fine with me. Since child labor laws came about and ruined the Dickensian ideal of factory work, there's no place for him to go out and get a job at anymore anyway. So he might as well stay home.
I do recognize that at his age, he is starting to pay a little bit closer attention. He's just beginning to become plugged in to the culture around him. For instance, I've been listening to the same crappy morning-zoo type radio show since I was 15 years old. I still listen to it when I take the boy to school in the mornings. At first he annoyed me by talking over it, asking all kinds of goddamn unrelated questions and making all kinds of ridiculous observations ("Dad, look out for that truck!" etc.) in the perturbing way only young children can. Then he stopped talking over it. And now he will occasionally make a remark or ask an annoying question DIRECTLY related to the material coming off the radio. So now when they do a whole call-in segment about STDs (always funny!) I have to change it really fast. Unfortunately, the next pre-set button over is NPR. So we get to hear, at least for a little while, about misconceptions regarding the Chinese economy. Which is less fun than gonorrhea-talk.
What really disturbs me is when on the show they sneak in something inappropriate and I'll catch my kid chuckling to himself at it. At first I'm all: how the hell does he know the word "rimjob"? And then I remember I was in first grade once as well. Some kids play kickball; others huddle together and expand each other's vocabularies by repeating the words they hear from THEIR parents' morning radio selections. Or, OK, from their parents directly.
As for what I expect of him now that he's seven, well... I clearly don't abuse him enough to expect anything great out of him in the short term. All I can really expect at this point is for him to a) not eat anything he finds on the ground that he did not himself just recently drop and b) keep his alternate vocabulary a secret from his teachers. I don't want to be the parent to explain to the principal how and from where my kid knows the word "blumpkin."
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Delicious, Delicious Children
No time to post tonight (and maybe not tomorrow morning) as the demands of my Rockwellian American life pull at me. The picture above, of course, is a pretty accurate visual description of the everyday of being Pops. Except of course in our reality, I'd be the one in the dress.
See you definitely on Tuesday. MAYBE Monday, but I wouldn't plan my day around it, if I were you.
If you can't stand it, go back and read Friday's post again. That was a beaut. Or better yet, go spend some time with Thursday's picture and puzzle it out.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #32
The Da Vinci Code
starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Sir Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany
directed by Ron Howard (Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind... oh, come on, it's Opie Cunningham!)
Renowned blogger Pops of Pops' Bucket fame staggered through the long week of thinking up shit to fill blogspace. Politics, immigration, Mother's Day, even a post about a dog... he was a desperate man in desperate circumstances of his own stupid, stupid making. He sat at his little computer desk as he always did mid-mornings, in a tweed jacket, elbow patches, no pants, smoking tobacco cut with construction paper in his shallow-bowl pipe carved from a petrified bull's penis.
He stared at the picture from Friday's post. Why hadn't he seen it there before? There were the images: George Bush, the dirtbike, the three faces, the tree... but there was something there, something deeper, something meaningfully symbolic that could shatter the entire facade of western civilization. If only he weren't functionally illiterate, he could just read the text labels, which sort of spelled it all out. But as it is, the mystery would have to remain a mystery, hidden behind the inscrutible inscrutibility of regular English letters.
When Fridays arrived, Pops would always feel a little bit of relief. At least he could fall back on this crappy recurring feature and not have to think of anything original. But then he always remembered, just at the last second, that he would actually have to write the thing. Stupid text-based blog.
How many weeks until X-Men comes out?
Most mysteries of deep sociological and historical significance, I think, would be easier to solve if I had the promise of tapping some hot, French Audrey Tatou-esque ass at the end of it just because we happened to be of opposite genders and had been in close proximity for a while and not because we had developed any kind of actual personal connection on any level. That was the great beauty of the book, the fact that at the end, the hero nails the heroine even though they have no hint of a romantic connection through the preceding 300 pages. I also liked the ridiculously short chapters. Oh, which reminds me:
There is NO CHAPTER FOUR.
Ian McKellen is the Barry Bonds of acting. Barry Bonds is a baseball player famous for hitting home-runs while being hopped up on the same kind of medication they use to put horses down. He is also famous for having an astonishing upsurge in production after hitting an age (35) where most players (up to and including all players before and since) begin to decline. Sir Ian I'd never heard of until I saw him in Richard III in 1995, when he was already 56 years old. Since then, has anyone's films made more money than his? Of course I say this before Sam Jackson's Snakes on a Plane comes out. After that, Mr. Jackson will be untouchable. Just like Hank Aaron.
Not only is the Catholic church pissed off about this movie, but the albinos... seriously, there are albinos mad because this movie features a non-albino (the freakishly albino-esque Paul Bettany) playing an albino who kills people. Their position, I think, is that if anyone's going to portray a murdering albino, it should be an albino. Or, failing that, Samuel L. Jackson. Even the albinos love Sam Jackson.
In which I am boringly and repetitively chased by albinos, priests, rival symbologists, cripples and a whole host of French gendarmes (the last all played by Jean Reno) while solving puzzles left over from the original version of Myst. Except less taxing. And remember: hot French chick.
The reviews for this film have been brutal. Just brutal. The only person who liked it was Roger Ebert, which gave me pause, until I remembered that ever since he had cancer surgery, he likes every movie ever. I've noticed that before in this space, but now it's just gotten silly. I've done a total 180 on Roger Ebert. Now his reviews are a Kiss of Death. If he actually disliked something, I'd notice. We could show him a 90 minute film of just some guy strangling puppies (Vincent Gallo is said to be working on this) and he'd probably find something nice to say about the lighting.
When I first read the book, I was just kind of indifferent to it. Now every day that goes by, I resent the time I spent reading it. All 75 minutes of it. It actually makes me angry.
I finally saw Wednesday's Lost last night.
If you taped it and haven't seen it yet, don't read Chapter 39.
What was with the fucking boat? Come on, we were all gearing up for Island Assault, or the Best Survivor Episode Ever. And then a boat? Fucking deus ex machina. And now next Wednesday, they all get in the boat and leave. End of show.
My first instinct is to give this film a Zero. The Andrew Shue. And I should. I really should. But between the super-high quality of the cast (come on, it's got Ian McKellen in it), monster production values, the hotness of the Tatou, the high cultural visibility of the project and the intrigue-inducing universal anger--really, there's anger--of the reviews, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little curious. They say test audiences LAUGHED at the super-serious high-drama ending.
That said I must submit:
One (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale
I heart cheese. But the only way to make good cheese is by accident.
There is NO CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
So I'm reading this story about these three old people (ranging in age from 46 to 62, which I realize isn't all THAT old, but certainly too old for this) laid a rope across a road, tied one end to a tree, then waited for some guys on motorcycles to come by, pulled the rope taut and clotheslined a bunch of them off their bikes. One dude ended up in a coma.
After I stopped with the inappropriate laughter (it was the Wile E. Coyote imagery that got me, not so much the coma... although, come on, comas are hilarious), I started thinking: this situation is not unlike the current American political climate, metaphorically speaking. Or hell, maybe even literally for all I know. I've only been to DC once, so I can't attest one way or the other to the frequency of cross-road rope near-decapitations as a political tool.
Anyway, the point is, it got my inner political cartoonist fired up and sent me straight to MS Paint.
See, the President thinks he's just cruising along on a beautiful spring day, but what he doesn't know is that his enemies, shrouded by the deafening political noise of what's looking like a potentially momentous mid-term election cycle, lie in wait.
You'll note the actual obstacle, the potentially damaging rope strung across his otherwise pleasant and pothole-free path, is supported, passively, by the political influence and legacy of the Religious Right (the tree) and the lack of opposition in the legislative branch, which is filled with Republicans who want to be re-elected but are faced with an historically unpopular party-leader. It is against these sturdy, well-rooted bases of unwitting resistance that a triumvirate of enemies prepare to use the president's penchant for political tone-deafness against him. Note that the Democrats here are represented by the woman off to the side, looking sort of scared and lost. She lets the other two do the work (immigrants holding the rope, doing the manual labor again and Guys With Beards, an underappreciated political force, glower and provide muscle) while she waits, not doing anything herself but praying it will work so she can jump up and steal the precious, precious Dirtbike of State when it is violently vacated.
That thing in the back is a mountain. I forgot to label it. Or maybe its size and grandeur can represent the backdrop inverse of the president's miniscule approval numbers. Or maybe it's just a mountain.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.5
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Who's A Good Girl?
When I started this blog, there were a few things I swore to myself I would never do: pictures of my kids, memes, pet blogging, mortification of my own flesh. The last one doesn't really have to do with blogs or blogging, it's just something I try to avoid. It's not just because I'm a wuss and am afraid of pain. The main problem is that I'm afraid I might like it. Low self-esteem types like me, we know deep down that we deserve the occasional self-lashing with a home-made cat o' nine tails fashioned out of some old wire hangars bent to shape mingled with a few fistfuls of my own hair. Oh the sweet sting of well-deserved punishment, that first glorious bloom of crimson as the blood is released from the hot, impure, chastised flesh...
See, the lure is quite strong.
But like most promises to myself, I've broken most of those. Except for the pet-blogging thing. That's something I've refused to jump in on. I mean, it just seems too easy, you know? I pride myself on how I take this blog thing way too seriously and how I can always find a way to make it about 50 times more difficult than it needs to be. Why say in 10 words what you can say in 500?
Pet blogging is usually just all pictures and aww, aren't the little critters all fuzzy and flickrgenic. And then when you've shown all the pictures of Fluffy that even you can stand, you only need put the animal in a sea captain's hat or a pair of sunglasses, maybe add a funny caption ("Cap'n Puddles sez: Run the sail up the main mastiff, boys! We're headed for Labrador!") and your pet blog is new again. The ideas never run out.
I make all these promises to myself and then one day--today for example--when you have nothing prepared, nothing blog-worthy happens in the course of your day and the goddamn paperboy throws your newspaper right where the sprinklers can soak it into inky, mushy oblivion, you must contemplate the Dark Inevitable.
When you're trawling for something--anything--through the headlines over at Fark.com, praying to find a celebrity OxyContin story or a video of some guy getting hit in the nuts by one of his kids, you know you're dry. Unlike my newspaper, today I am dry.
So I present to you all now, the story of Pops' dog.
I have a dog.
I have no dignity, but I have a dog.
Her name is Josef Stalin.
I know, it's not a very good picture, but this is the only picture I've ever been able to take of her. Shortly after--very shortly after, in fact--this one was taken, my camera was rendered inoperable along with my right hand and several of the nerve endings in the left side of my face. I still can't blink right.
Suffice it to say people-clothes and funny poses are sort of out of the question with this dog.
We adopted her after we found her living as a stray. She'd found shelter in a house a few blocks from ours, where the Ortegas used to live. I guess they must have moved or something, I don't know. They never call or write. All I know is that we were surprised to see her looking so well fed for a stray.
But we took her home and she was ours from the very beginning. Right away we started playing this fun game where she tries to put her mouth on the necks of my children and I wrestle around with her trying to stop her. I loved it, she loved it, the four kids we had at the time really loved it.
Just so you know, though, adopting a dog--any dog--comes with its own share of difficulties. There's the house training, the shots, the spaying/neutering, the constant poop-shoveling, the ridiculous expense of chew toys, my wife's voluntary hysterectomy... seriously, the menstrual cycle in human females makes our poor Josef Stalin crazy. The operation was tough on my wife and the resulting staph infection was sort of touch-and-go there for a while, but hey, what are we going to do? Get rid of the dog? We made a commitment to this animal and we take that seriously.
As a formerly wild dog, Josef Stalin also has some issues about abandonment. She really hates to be left alone. It was worst when she was a puppy. Some dogs will scratch up the furniture or knock over the trash cans or something, but our dog:
That was a rough Christmas, I remember. How she operated the matches I do not now and will never know. I only wish it had been our house instead of the neighbors'. The block parties have been awkward.
But that's it. That's our girl. Our Josef Stalin. She can be a little rough, but she had a rough childhood. You have to give dogs like that some leeway. I will say I have no fear of anyone breaking into our house. She definitely keeps the robbers away. And the mailmen. And visiting family and friends. And neighbor kids. And squirrels and rabbits and mice and several species of low-flying birds. She's a good doggy.
And now that I've done a dog blog, I have to go. I have an appointment to get myself fitted for some thumb screws.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.8
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
What's The Spanish Word For "Schadenfreude"?
Well. Rousing speech from the Commander-in-Chief. I was roused. Anyone else roused? Totally roused. Probably because I skipped watching the speech live and was watching Spice Channel pay-per-view at the time. Like I said, very 'roused. When I read the text of the speech and saw some clips of it later, I was still roused. Probably something to do with the subconscious association with porn, I bet, but still. Roused is roused.
6,000 National Guard troops to patrol the border. It sounds like a great idea. Adding guns to things doesn't necessarily solve problems, but it sure butches them up a bit.
Using some highly classified and technical tools available to me through some connections I have (the people who provide me my DSL hook-up) I was able to calculate roughly the distance of the US-Mexico border.
It works out to roughly 1,500 miles. Some basic math tells me that 6,000 troops over 1,500 miles works out to 4 National Guardsmen/women per border mile. With such an impenetrable net, how could it possibly fail? Think about that before you come sneaking across, Juan Immigrante.
OK, so it doesn't sound very good, numbers-wise. But remember, this is not the George W. Bush Vietnam-is-scary weekend-warrior volleyball club National Guard. This is the new National Guard, the Fallujah-veteran roadside-RPG-booby-trap, little-to-no-body-armor type of National Guard. These are soldiers. So maybe the numbers count less than the threat of action. People creeping toward them in the night get shot, out of habit if nothing else.
It sounds exciting until I read that immigration tunnels are being filled in with concrete. Concrete? Where are all these bunker-buster bombs we keep hearing about? We know they're not being used on Osama bin Laden. If we're going to militarize this fucker, I say we militarize it. Shock and awe, people. They don't have mushroom clouds in Jalisco. That sort of thing might tend to give the Brown Menace some pause before they come streaming across the border to have their sons marry our daughters.
I was quite bemused--but not surprised--at the immediate political response. The Bush people seem determined to piss off just about every conceivable political group with every decision they make. Congressional Republicans don't like it because it doesn't involve kicking in doors and filling up box-cars with people on a one-way ticket to Tijuana. Anything short of that, to them, is "amnesty", which makes them think of Amnesty International, which makes them think of Sting which makes them angry because they still can't believe a band as good as the Police broke up for no good reason. Seriously, "Every Breath You Take" was a really good song. The tragedy of it still smarts.
And then Democrats are opposed to the plan because... because... uh... well, they just are. It's good enough for them that George Bush said it. The "why" will come later.
This is all necessary for the president, because his approval rating is in what professional pundits and pollster call "the Nixon shitter."
Pay no attention to the second line on the graph that tracks the rise (it's inverted so the two lines track better) of gas prices. But no, no, we can't blame gas prices on Democrats. Our wedge issue this year is immigrants. Stay on message!
Because when you're struggling to inspire voters to your cause, it's better to stick to your principles even when your principles reject this:
and lean toward this:
Aww, look, they all fit under one awning. I even had to artificially inflate the picture size.
Good work, Mr. President. Ride those instincts. I'm sure a Democratic majority in the House won't lead to anything serious in the two years you have left.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.5
Monday, May 15, 2006
Monday Lite: Aurora War-ealis
Individually, the things President Bush does just seem like a random string of poor decisions made by letting a monkey throw darts at a bulletin board. Nuclear darts. And the bulletin board is made from the skin of Iraqi children.
Taken as a whole, however, we can see that there is an overarching pattern, a theme, a flow to the neverending stream of festering poo that will have to empty out somewhere, probably into our drinking water.
Let's take a look:
1) Invades two different countries.
2) Which leads to a HUGE ramp-up in military spending.
3) Hands civilian intelligence gathering agency over to the military via a general.
4) Drives oil prices up.
5) Militarizes half of our total borders with other countries. I know there are only two, but half is half.
Stepping back and considering it all in total, there can only be one conclusion: he plans to invade Canada.
Finally, a Bush-inspired program I can get behind.
Think of it: it solves half of the "border problem" we didn't know we had until it became this year's "gay marriage"; it provides us with all sorts of new crude oil resources since the ANWR pretext fell through; little-to-no resistance (partly because of the distraction of the current Mexico feint and partly because... well, because they're CANADA); finally, we can cancel hockey for good.
Plus all illegals from Canada will cease to be illegals seeing as there will be only minor restrictions for travel between the Lower 48 and the US Military Prefecture of North North America (or "USMILFYPRENAM").
I Support President Bush And Our Brave Troops.
I've always wanted to see Manitoba.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.8
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Word To Your Mother
Happy Mother's Day!
Unless you're not a mother, then FUCK YOU! Ungrateful, mewling little bastards not fit to lick a mother's boots. And you only ever call when you want money for drugs or another abortion. We know what you're about. Your poor, suffering mother...
Around here at the Bucket household, things were fairly standard. The kids made home-made cards. Hand-drawn hearts and flowers and "We Love You Mom". Very cliché, if you ask me. My only hope is that one of my sons was knowingly being ironic and using the immanent features of the form to turn it back on itself as an expression of parody, if not resistance against the hegemony of corporate-supported capitalist-invented holidays.
We stuck to the regular Mother's Day schedule: gathering with family, exchange of gifts, brunch at a nice place... With Mrs. Pops in particular, we went through the whole routine where she wasn't supposed to do anything and I was meant to chase the kids, make sure they were fed, pick up the house, get some laundry done... basically all the stuff I do on a day-to-day basis anyway. And of course, once the kids are off to bed, it's just to two of us so I can tell her sincerely how much I appreciate what she does for the family and then we launch into--as many Americans do--a little traditional Mother's Day CBT. We honor former generations by keeping their rituals alive.
OK, so our home set-up isn't exactly the traditional way that is presented by the Mother's Day ideal, seeing as I'm kind of the bitch in this arrangement. The inversion was complete when, at one point during this day--Mother's Day--as the glorious Southern California afternoon sky slid quietly into rusty evening, I came upon my wife scrubbing the kitchen floor.
This is not one of those "Penthouse Forum" stories that goes "I never thought it would happen to me. I walked into the kitchen and there she was on all fours..."
No, the exchange was purely verbal and it went like this:
ME: What are you doing?
WIFE: Origami, can't you tell? See? It's a swan!
ME: You're scrubbing the kitchen floor.
WIFE: Not much gets by you.
ME: But it's Mother's Day.
WIFE: Again with the observant.
ME: Well, I can do that.
WIFE (impatient sigh): Thanks, but I think some things just go better if I do them.
I wandered off to resume doing the helpful Mother's Day things I had been doing already (watching the Clippers-Suns NBA playoff game) and I thought about what she said. She was either saying:
A) The non-traditional structure of our marriage arrangement means she feels compelled to take on a few what might be anachronistically called "women's tasks" in order to remain in touch with her downtrodden female progenitors, whose memory would be dishonored by the act of me, a Penis-American, scrubbing the floor.
B) She thinks I lack the physical and/or mental wherewithal to mix soap and water, apply said solution to a sponge and then rub said sponge against a floor. A defenseless, mostly stationary floor.
Then I immediately stopped thinking about it because I was afraid of what the answer might be.
I'd consider it further here, but you people are already making me miss The Sopranos.
Happy Mother's Day to all my Baby-Having Bucketeers.
And as I sit on my bag of frozen peas, I say to all you out there, like me, who are Motherfuckers... be strong, brothers (and sisters... I haven't forgotten you). It's only once a year.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.95
Friday, May 12, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #31
starring Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfus, whole gaggle of other people
directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, The Perfect Storm, Troy)
I don't really know what would possess someone to go out hunting for polar bears in the first place. I mean, they're large, they're strong, they have sharp teeth and claws and they are unlikely to react favorably to being shot at. Add to that the complications that they're carnivores who live in a frozen wasteland devoid of much edible life and they are born with coats of fur that give them a natural camouflage advantage and I wonder how long into a polar bear hunt it takes before the polar bear starts hunting you. Really, they're the ninjas of the animal world: invisible, deadly, inordinately high kitschy entertainment value amongst Asians. These aren't creatures I'd want to mess with, frankly.
But some people do it. I can't explain it. Some people also hang-glide and rock climb and live in water-filled spheres in public for seven days before trying to set a holding-my-breath world record while tied up in chains. I guess what I'm saying is that evolution has its own way handling overpopulation.
So anyway, this dude goes up to the wild hinterlands of northern Canada. We all know what I'm talking about, too: no country has lands more hinter than Canada does. It's hard to get more hinter than tundra. So this person is already stupid.
He hires himself an Inuit guide and goes looking for--looking for--polar bears. To shoot. For fun.
Several shot-up bear-shaped snow drifts later, he actually shoots and kills something. Way-hey, good for me, I'm the Great White Hunter in the Great White North. Wrap that up for me, would you Nanook? I gotta catch the late shuttle back to La Guardia.
Only Nanook is all like, Yeah, whatever gringo (or whatever the Inuit equivalent of "gringo" is), I tracked it for three days and pointed it out to you after you shot up all them snow-drifts. All you had to do is... hang on, what's this?
Something ain't right. This bear, it's... something ain't right. Is it... oh my God, is it...
And for the first time in his life, Nanook is happy Whitey shot and killed something because this is not a polar bear. No, we should be so lucky. This is a polar bear-grizzly bear hybrid. The first ever known to be spontaneously bred in the wild.
Whitey's all excited because his special, special trophy kill is even more special now and won't it look great standing up all fiercely stuffed in the Drawing Room and won't all my Skull & Bones brothers be impressed. It'll be even more exciting and exotic a story than that time old Preston Brandford "Muffy" Villiers dated a Jew.
But our Nanook, he knows better. He's relieved in the short term, but he's more attuned to the land, the symbols, the spirit of the wilderness. He reads National Geographic. He knows something bad is going to go down.
Polar bear/grizzly bear hybrid. The animal eugenics program has begun. How many generations now until the deadliest creatures start to cross breed until they're bigger, stronger, faster, have opposable thumbs and the basic rudimentary intelligence to drive a car? Not long.
These so-called Minutemen, they sit around in the deserts of New Mexico building 50 foot long symbolic barb-wire fences. We laugh at them, sure, but not just because they deserve it. It's because we know the "invasion" we should be worried about is not coming from the south in the form of immigrants. It's coming from the north. The terrible, terrible north. And it will be in the form of polar/grizzlies, moose/beavers, otter/seals and orca/oysters. A killer whale with a hard outer shell and can make pearls. What the fuck are we going to do about that?
Start learning Inuit, people. Just in case the animals come streaming across with a million Nanooks riding on their backs.
As far as the movie Poseidon goes... eh. Whatever. Don't much care for boats. They spent a lot of money on it and got the effects all nice and shiny, so the best I can do:
One (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale
I'm sorry that wasn't more in-depth, but this animal hybrid thing has totally fucked with my head. If my dog starts eye-balling the local jackrabbit population in anything that isn't pure animal hunting instinct, I may have to shoot her. It sounds harsh, but do you want a rabbit/dog running you down? Safety first.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes the walls that surround me seem like they are hermetically sealed* only instead of keeping air and sunlight out, they repel social connection, human interaction and all traces of happiness.
Man, I have to stop watching Lifetime Movie Channel. It puts me in a dark mood. That poor Joanna Kerns... she just can't catch a break.
This time, however, I'm feeling kind of down not because of stories about women left by men or wronged by men or beaten by men or stalked by men or who have their daughters murdered by abusive men but because of something about me. Something real. Something personal. Something I didn't see on TV.
I love my readers. Really, you guys are the best. Ever. But even though we talk and we chat and we make all kinds of funny, funny jokes in the comment section about what a retard I am--honestly, who could get tired of hearing that?--in my everyday corporeal day-to-day life, I'm so very lonely.
I spend all day with my kids, who do actually qualify as people, but the things we do together... they just aren't the same as adult interaction. We'll play basketball sometimes, but seeing as how the two at home are an average height of 3'6", it's barely even worth it. I always fucking destroy them, even if it's 2-on-1. They can't get a shot off. And in the end, for one reason or another, they cry like the pussies I've always been afraid they would turn out to be. But look, if you don't get your feet set, it's a blocking foul, not a charge. And if we're going to play contact, we're going to play contact. If you're going to defend in the lane, you have to be ready for that. Otherwise, get the fuck off my court.
I have trouble figuring out why I don't have more adult friends. Sure, it's probably my children's fault, at least indirectly. Directly I blame the state of California and all their draconian child-endangerment laws that keep me tied to this house while my kids are at home. But what can I do about that? You can only drive your truck into the State Capitol building so many times before someone eventually will notice.
I think the main problem, the primary reason why I don't have more adult friends, is that I simply am not worth enough financially to other people. I can't think of a single person who relies on me to generate enough income for them to buy a summer place in Malibu or keep their private fleet of helicopters fueled.
I mean, look at Tom Cruise. He's had a bit of a rough patch here lately what with all the acting crazy in public and the subsequent realization by the public that he is crazy.
But in his time of great need, Tom Cruise's friends rally to his support. These aren't just any people, either. These are heavy-hitters. Studio executives who release and hold rights over Tom Cruise films and movie producers who have worked with Tom Cruise and made a shitload of money off his sparkling, limited, three-expression face. You can tell from reading their statements that Tom's friends are speaking with the genuine affection and personal concern of people who need to meet payroll for their staff of over 200 on their 40,000 acre Montana ranches. The fire-eaters, lion tamers and harem of Asian ladyboys will not work for free.
If all interest is self-interest, then real friendship is the kind of friendship that comes with an eight-figure check. That's just logic.
Also, to me, this sounds like a Public Vote of Confidence by people in Tom's industry. Similar public statements are made by parliaments in democracies all over the world about sitting Prime Ministers and Presidents or by sports team owners in support of their managers/head coaches. Everyone knows that once someone gets the prized Public Vote of Confidence, it's all smooth sailing from then on.
But I will never get a Public Vote of Confidence. Why not? Because I lack enough friends to make up a quorum. My best hope is that when they finally grow up and stop being such crybabies, my kids can fill that role. Then I will be able to rely on them when times get tough. When I'm old and frail and riddled with disease, reliant upon machines to keep my failing body hovering this side of the Great Beyond, I'll be sure they'll band together, my three boys and whatever step-children I have from my subsequent marriages, and make a Public Vote of Confidence in favor of my recovery.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.7
* = that is, sealed by a bastard vigilante wall-sealing hermit. I'll get you, Spackle Pete!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Vote For Pedro
I used to watch a lot of late-night television. It doesn't sound like a productive use of one's time, but that's because you're thinking in conventional non-meth terms. Twenty-four hours is a lot of time to fill if you don't sleep and/or are detoxing. It can't all be Shakespeare and long division. Sometimes you just want--NEED--to watch Conan talk to Amy Sedaris.
These shows all had the same format: monologue, desk-bit, guest, guest, music, comedian, over. Redundant? Sure. Redundant? Sure. But there was some comfort in the predictable format. Besides, your eyes need something to do while your hands are bathing the dog, one hair at a time.
I would get angriest at the monologues, though. What would bother me would be the whole section of it that started with "According to a new study..." It just seemed so lazy and sloppy and wrong. What's with the constant reliance on new studies or new surveys, I would think. If scientists and institutes stopped publishing these results, where would these hack comedians be then? For me, the phrase was an introduction to what was sure to be a lame joke, the punchline of which was some lame, watered down, network-TV-safe double entendre. "According to a new study..." was the signal for me to flip over to... well, about 175 channels all in really fast succession. I blame the meth.
Anyway, those old prejudices predated the days when I had to come up with blog material six days a week. That being said:
According to a new study, women can tell a man's paternal potential just by looking at his face.
At least, that's what the headline says. Why they're playing up that aspect of the story, I'll never know. Within the text, it also says chicks can tell from looking at a guy whether or not they'd want to hit that and move on. Why that isn't equally newsworthy as parenthood is beyond me, frankly.
The markers and indicators women look for, apparently, have to do with testosterone levels in men and how those things show up in a man's face. By that they mean a strong jaw-line and evidence of dense (as opposed to patchy and sparse, I guess) facial-hair.
So what this presumably expensive and exhaustive study found out is that chicks are into dudes with strong jaws and who can grow beards.
Another blow to the cause of chinless freaks with wispy 9th grade puberty-fuzz on their lips and jowls. I feel your pain, brothers.
I would feel bad for Larry Bird, but he seems to have done OK. I guess having a giant, inexhaustible pile of money is something of an equalizer, genetically speaking.
What the article doesn't say is what pictures of guys they used. It would be so easy to skew the results. Don't believe me? Take the Pops Procreation Review Quiz, won't you?
Which dude do you think would be most down with breeding?
and just to confuse the issue slightly, I'll throw in an ambiguous Subject C:
Oh Subject C, you tease. The right physical package (do you see that luscious fucking jaw-line?!), but the hat with the Day-Glo and that pose with the big phallic bat... Maybe he wants kids, maybe he doesn't, but can we be sure he would get within a bat-length of a vagina?
Man. It's tough to be a chick. I don't envy you, ladies.
And if this were late-night TV, this is where Jay Leno would reference Bill Clinton and the crowd of people who stood outside for 8 hours on a sidewalk in Burbank just to get in would roar with approval. Oh to have the leverage of offering people air conditioning and comfortable seating... it would make my job a lot easier.
But I assume you all brought your own chairs.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.5
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I Can't Breathe
Wow, that's not a bad line-up of shows. Critically well-received and publicly supported, all of them. The people at ABC should be proud of themselves. They've come a long way since the days when I was a kid and all they had was Monday Night Football and that show with that guy who makes the grunty-noises and his three gay sons. How far they had fallen since the glory days of Mr. Belvedere.
But now ABC is back. It's got a whole raft of zeitgeist-y water-cooler type shows hang their collective network mouse-eared hat on. I don't watch any of them personally because my TV-watching time is limited and I prefer pay-per-view lesbian clown porn, but I've heard good things about ABC these days. Just scads and scads of high quality programming to choose from in this, the all-important May "sweeps" period.
Which is why I can't figure out the reason they went ahead with last night's "special" of David Blaine Drowned Alive!
First of all, kudos to the news media. They no longer refer to Mr. Blaine as "street magician" but simply "stuntman." That's one step closer to "vapid media whore," but we're getting there.
The whole premise of the show is that the guy lives in a water sphere for like a week or whatever and then at the end, tries to set the world holding-my-breath record. While in chains!
So he couldn't just try to hold his breath for a long time. He had to be in the fishbowl in public for a week. Why again? Practice? I don't know.
And then the whole idea is that he was either going to set the world holding-my-breath record or die trying.
How'd that work out? Let's review the results: 1) Mr. Blaine did not set (or even approach) the World Holding-My-Breath record. 2) Mr. Blaine did not die.
A week in the tub and a crappy Houdini rip-off trick and what does he have to show for it? Prune-hands.
He did cry like a bitch when they finally let him out, though. So there was that. He must have had just a tiny shred of dignity left that his body felt it had to jettison before he left camera-view.
Even the title of the show was retarded. Drowned Alive? If you've drowned, you're dead, right? Or do I misunderstand the word? I guess the advertisers wouldn't go for David Blaine Wallows In His Own Urine.
If non-magic magicians weren't bad enough, tonight ABC offers us Fatal Contact: Bird Flu In America.
Again with the crappy title. Fatal Contact. That's the movie where Michael Douglas builds a machine that sends him into space where he has an extramarital affair with a frizzy-haired alien who later boils his rabbit, isn't it?
Just in case it wasn't clear from the secondary post-colon title, this is the movie that tells us all what to do in case bird flu arrives in America. After all, television is a public trust, you know.
From what I heard from the previews, the idea is this: when bird flu arrives, you should immediately murder your neighbor. Do it before they do it to you. It's all going to be chaos and mayhem and total dissolution of our nation politically and demographically, so the best thing to do is to set up a three-house long quarantine perimeter around you by killing everyone in those houses. Anyone who approaches your sphere of protection dies.
This must be done because, according to this movie: a) bird flu is the most virulent disease in the history of human existence and b) once the first person drops, it's every man for himself.
Do not wait. When the first person you don't know sneezes, start the purge and retreat to the bunker. If you live in an apartment or condominium... uh... well, you're fucked. Might as well run down and loot the 7-11. Get all the Slim Jims and Slurpees you can get your hands on before bloody, painful, ravaging, internal bird-death visits you.
Nice work, ABC. For me, it's nice to see that even though a TV network might be building a reputation for quality, it remains deeply committed to commemorating and celebrating its long and distinguished history of utterly unwatchable crap.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.2
Monday, May 08, 2006
I'm Sorry, The Llama Has No Comment At This Time
A couple of quick hits:
Remember when President Bush could do just about whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to and be loved for it? Mispronounce words, give medals to layabouts and incompetents, invade countries and be a generally pouty bitch when he didn't get his way?
None of that mattered because he could invoke 9/11 and then toy with Congressional Democrats like a cat with a mouse. Like a really big cat--maybe even a robot cat, like say a robot puma or a robot cougar--who maybe wasn't the most advanced, vocabulary wise, but was still more than a match for the poor, wounded, three-legged, asthmatic, blind, cold-sore afflicted mouse. Most of those conditions keep the mouse from getting away, but the cold-sore, man... that's just painful and degrading.
At some point, everything turned around. I don't know to what extent it was overreaching on Social Security, rising gas prices, the Colbert Emperor's New Clothes moment... I don't know. The general consensus seems to be "Hey, this guy doesn't seem to be very good at this whole presidenting thing."
Instead of having everything he does, no matter how retarded, look like a rain of gold from heaven, things have progressed to where the press and people in general will even comment upon the occasional misstep. Not only that, but the administration seems to have settled on a new plan of 100% missteps, all the time. It can't be an accident. How do you find a nominee for the Director of Central Intelligence that even Congressional Republicans reject before the nomination is even announced?
Can that be a coincidence? No, there must be some kind of program here. I keep waiting for Karl Rove's other size 8 (wide) shoe to drop. Something bad is going to happen at some point to Democrat mid-term election hopes as a result of all this. They already made Patrick Kennedy take a bunch of drugs and then forced him to go driving the other day. That's just the first shot.
I think they must be intentionally trying to drive his approval rating lower so that when they DO turn it around, it will be that much more demoralizing for the Democrats. I expect the pictures of Barack Obama and John Kerry having sex with each other and a very surprised llama to be made public any day now.
You heard it here first.
Speaking of 9/11 and bad ideas, I was reading this article about the drive to make a FDNY chaplain who died at the WTC a saint. Sounded fine to me, but then I read this descriptor:
"Glenn Holsten's film, 'The Saint of 9/11,' shows Judge moving in often-conflicting social circles: a proud Irish-American; a recovering alcoholic helping others fight addiction; a confidant for tough, gritty firefighters, and a celibate homosexual active in the gay community."
Yeah, I wouldn't hold my breath. I'm going to go ahead and predict a little bit of resistance on that one. They're going to need more lube than the whole NYC gay community can provide to make that happen. And that's a lot of lube.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.0
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Can't Stop; Addicted To The Shindig
Birthday Season 2006 is now two-thirds of the way through as I write this. The middle child is already 5 and the youngest, as of today, is now 3. We had us a party and everything with an inflatable bouncy-house thing, white trash hors-d'oeuvres (peanut M&Ms in the fancy servin' dish, Ruffles with Lipton soup+sour cream dip), my home-made salsa, burgers and bratwurst on the grill, NO hookers, NO blow and not one single person throwing up in the fish tank. So as parties go, it was kind of medium.
As my wife is gainfully employed while I have time to blog, getting the house people-ready fell to me. It took me a week--a week--to make it habitable for other people who are not my wife and kids and myself. But then our tolerance for airborne allergens and for stepping over toys is well-honed to the point of superhuman. Our house in its natural state can kill lesser families.
Just to give you an idea of the work involved, I spent two hours on Saturday just sweeping the patio. I swept and swept and swept everything that vaguely resembled dirt. I swept until I accidentally dug up the cat. That's how thorough I was trying to be.
Between all that sweeping and a day full of forward flips and basically ruling the big inflatable mosh pit that is the Sponge-Bob jumper, Pops sleepy. So very sleepy.
I deserve to sit on my recliner and chase M&Ms with a tall frosty glass of 2-Liter Kamikaze (the leftover remnants of our 2-liter party bottles of soda all mixed together in one glass) while watching The Sopranos.
You people talk amongst yourselves. You're getting pretty good at it lately anyway. Frankly, we're reaching the point when even I don't read this shit and skip straight to the drama of the comment section.
You guys are the bestest.
I may be slightly punchy.
And this is where I bid you goodnight.
À demain, mes enfants.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9
Friday, May 05, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #30
Mission: Impossible III
starring Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Keri Russell, Laurence Fishburn, Philip Seymour Hoffman
directed by J. J. Abrams (first movie ever!)
Has it really been two months? Have I really not revisited this feature since V for Vendetta? Is it really possible to get something the size of a human fist inside a human colon?
I'm a afraid the answer to all the questions above is "yes". I've done the research, so I know they're true. Well, on the first two anyway. The third one I haven't actually tried, but this is the internets. Anything you want to find, you can find, even if you're not looking for it. How else would I know that a dolphin can ejaculate up to 14 feet? I wasn't LOOKING for that information. Some things you just happen to click on. And other things people bring up in instant message conversations. I'm not going to mention any names, but suffice it to say the Bucket now has an official Animal Sexual Practices correspondent. And no, it isn't me.
But we're getting distracted already. Why would I have mentioned the human colon in the first place? Because this is the Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing series, which means I only know what is presented to me on the most superficial of levels about the film I'm reviewing. Keeping that in mind, the main thing I know about this movie? Colons.
Not in the "official" title, but in the unofficial advertising three-letter title they can put on trucker hats and lunch-boxes? There are TWO colons. They write it M:I:3. Now that's just weird. Normally if you want to see two colons, you have to pay extra for the Siamese twins at the "massage parlor". And I mean a LOT extra. I don't know if you know a lot about Siamese twins, but they're generally very protective of their colons.
Past the superficiality of the advertising logo, let's look at the superficiality of the casting decisions, knowing nothing really about their characters or their roles or even if they get as little screen time as Anthony Hopkins did in the last Mission: Impossible movie.
It's not a bad line-up at all. Tom Cruise! Ving Rhames! Laurence Fishburn! Academy Award Winner P.S. Hoffman! Keri Russell!
Hang on, Keri Russell? I know she's not playing the love interest because the one review I read said that part went to somebody called Michelle Monaghan (assuming such a person exists). So what is Keri Russell doing in this movie?
This is the J.J. Abrams problem with this film already. I mean, I know they have history and everything, but you don't cast Felicity as a spy, especially when he also created Alias. Everyone knows that every female role that slants toward action IN ANY DEGREE in the last five years and for the next ten automatically go to Jennifer Garner. Automatically. And I don't even watch Alias, I just know that's how it's supposed to be.
Sure, from his extensive and impressive TV resumé, Mr. Abrams has a wide stable of actors with whom he's familiar to choose from. And he went with Keri Russell? I already question his decision-making ability.
Originally, before J.J. came on board, the role was meant to go to Scarlett Johansson, who then (allegedly) refused to swallow the Scientology mind-wipe pill that later went to Katie Holmes and subsequently was dropped from the project. Whether or not Keri Russell is now a practicing Scientologist is something I simply do not know. But dammit, I can speculate.
In a general sense, however, I am relieved that the director's decision-making ability is rarely a factor in films like this. In these types of things, the producers (in this case, I would imagine, we're talking mainly about Mr. Cruise) decide on the stunt set-pieces and then the script is fashioned to incorporate all of those.
From what I've read, the main plot-points involve an intergalactic tyrant who brings his alien slaves to earth, ties them to volcanoes and then kills them all with hydrogen bombs; the invisible souls of the dead slaves then escape and attach themselves to living modern people, making them sad. Cruise's team's impossible mission is "clear" people of these interfering spirits before it's too late and people start taking Xanax. Tom was very hands-on, from what I understand, in the development process.
Plot details aside, the question for me in films in the genre are: 1) how big are the explosions and 2) is there any nudity?
Hydrogen bombs and volcanoes? Them are some explosions. Assuming they got left in the final cut, I say: score! As for nudity, I think this thing is PG-13, so probably a big fat no. Demerits, Mr. Cruise. I know you find female nudity icky, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer.
Of course for a Mission: Impossible film, we all know why people go to see it: they want to watch ugly people pull their faces off only to reveal underneath that all along they were (gasp!) Tom Cruise!
I think in Mission: Impossible II this was done approximately 184 times. And gosh, it never got old. Maybe the appeal is that it makes a cool twisty plot device. Maybe it's that with CGI, the effect of ripping of a face is so artfully done. Maybe it plays into the fantasy that underneath all of our ugly, regular faces on top of our lumpy, average-and-above height bodies, we all wish we were Tom Cruise underneath. Then we could act like a complete tool in public, but it would be OK because we would have hundreds of millions of dollars.
That's what's in it for me.
That's why I give this film:
Two (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.
I wonder whose face is really under those Shue heads... Ah well, best not to ask. It's probably just John Voight.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
What's The Point Of Jail If You Can't Be Raped By A Fellow Inmate?
Damn. Well, I guess we're going to have to wait a few more years before we finally get a televised pay-per-view execution.
Apparently we've decided not to execute that Moussaoui guy. It's such a tragedy too because he seemed like such a shoo-in for the role.
I thought we had a sure winner with Timothy McVeigh, but for some reason that never made it on TV either. Something to do with advertising rates or something. I can't remember exactly. Anyway, they executed that dude in some basement somewhere, far from the view of any TV camera and definitely NOT brought to you by Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.
I guess it's OK that the Moussaoui execution isn't going to happen because I don't think TV is ready for it anyway. The current method is lethal injection, which... come on, the guy lays on a table and then falls asleep. It'd be like watching a dental hygiene appointment. Except at the end of it, the guy dies.
In order to rate TV time, the case would have to be significantly high-profile enough to attract viewers by its notoriety. That would be it would have to be a particularly bad person, someone who had done something so onerous and antisocially heinous that we'd automatically associate their name to their crimes like Jeffery Dahmer or Harris and Klebold or Ellen DeGeneres.
That would mean that the thing they did would have to be so bad that a little extra brutality for the sake of the aesthetics of the thing would be not only appropriate, but necessary. If it's up to me, I say instead of lethal injection, we go with anal electrocution. Hey, if it's good enough for a mink, it's good enough for some crazy social transgressive.
But it's all moot right now anyway because this Moussaoui guy got off easy with only life in single-confinement in a "supermax" prison.
The news story says that as he was walking out of the courtroom he shouted "America, you lost... I won!"
This tells us one of two things: a) maybe his English is not so good or b) he's retarded.
I can see executing a person for the first one, but the second one... on a state level you can execute the retarded, sure, but federally? Morality is always trickier when there are more people watching.
There is also a third option, c) he's an asshole. But we've covered that already. Maybe he didn't actually kill anybody, but that's as strong an argument for execution as any.
Honestly, I'm sort of relieved that he isn't going to be executed, on TV or not. It's not because I'm some sort of faggot liberal pussy who loves criminals more than I love America. That's all true, but that's not relevant in this case. It's also not because of the complex issues of legal vs. moral justice and the propriety of the state pronouncing the latter in the thin guise of the former visiting vengeance upon the convicted for the interest of a few instead of exercising measured, even, heavy penance in the name and for the sake of the many. Still, on the right track, but not relevant.
No, I just don't have time to follow any more Moussaoui proceedings, execution-style or otherwise. We've got a trouble-spot rogue nation in the Middle East, UN resolutions flying around and the French being contrarian wusses. Sound familiar to anyone else? It's war-time, baby! I have to keep my TV schedule clear for when the bombs start falling on Tehran.
Or, failing that, Moscow. Always smart to have a backup.
32% approval rating, people. Something's got to give. It's about to get real, real interesting.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
First of all, in yesterday's comments, conversation turned to the phrase "monkey steals a peach." For those of you too lazy to read every comment, it was pointed out by some wannabe ninja dork that "monkey steals a peach" is a term used to describe a specific action in martial arts. It seems esoteric and lame--like everything else martial arts related--but these things have real-world applications. Just a few nights ago, "monkey steals a peach" was demonstrated on national television.
Watch the video if you dare.
(Safe for work...)
(...so long as your boss thinks it's OK to spend upwards of 10 seconds watching basketball video instead of doing... whatever it is you do in exchange for pay)
On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting, along with my wife, in those super-comfortable airport gate waiting-area seats. We weren't sitting together because she doesn't like to be seen in public with me since I got the implants, but we were both stuck there at the same time waiting as our departure was delayed for about an hour for "mechanical reasons."
Some people are impatient fliers, but as far as I'm concerned, if there's a question about anything mechanical on the plane, my position is "you know what, take all the time you need."
Happy as I was to wait, that meant sitting along the concourse whiling away the minutes, not allowed to indulge in the things I do at home when I'm killing time (smoking, video games, masturbation, amateur taxidermy), all of us stuck there watching the same TV run the same goddamn loop of CNN Headline News.
The whole point of CNN Headline News is that you get all of your news in about 11 minutes. Every story they're going to cover, they cover in roughly that span. We were there for, all told, about an hour and a half. It got to the point where I could read the anchor's copy for her. We all, as a potential plane-load of passengers, agreed that we should change the station, but wouldn't you know it, none of us could find the remote.
I was going to try throwing my shoe at the TV, but I remember what happened last time I tried that. Hey, did you know airports have their own jails?
Anyway, one of the stories they kept looping over and over and over again was about the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. This is the yearly black-tie event where the president and the people paid to cover him get together in a room to have gentle fun poked at them by a famous comedian. And oh ho, isn't it all so droll. And my, isn't the chicken delicious. What are these little brown things, capers? Lovely.
The image they kept showing over and over again was of the president and a look-alike doing a scripted side-by-side comedy bit. See, the premise was the look-alike could speak but the president talked like... well, the president. For instance, the look-alike would say "nuclear" and the president would say "nucular". Ha ha. Except the president fucked up his own line and said "nuclear". Just so you know, he's still a tool.
They showed the face of this year's host--Stephen Colbert--for a grand total of about a second. I didn't think much about it after that, mostly because the plane got fixed and I spent the next roughly five hours screaming at the top of my lungs in preparation for certain fiery death at 36,000 feet. Flying is stressful. Some people take tranquilizers, that's how I handle it.
I get home and start looking at internet news and reading blogs and, holy shit, apparently our Stephen took no prisoners.
And yet somehow the apparent fire-bombing has gone largely unremarked upon in regular press circles.
The blogosphere is another matter.
The right wingers say: how dare he! He should apologize to the president for being disrespectful. Also: unfunny and no impact.
The left wingers say: oh, hurrah and kudos! We stretch in the direction of the newfound sunlight! Let us fete him as no man has been fete'd before! Also: a hastily designed website!
YouTube has the video if you want to see it.
There's some question about what the president thought of it. I invite you to look at this picture and judge for yourself:
I don't really know what those who object are complaining about. The man has a well documented body of work both on his own show and on The Daily Show they could have consulted, and presumably did.
All they needed was YouTube. They could have, for instance, found this old Daily Show piece Colbert did that ends with a joke about Laura Bush and a bucket full of horse semen.
And we're all shocked--shocked!--that he would go up there right in front of the president and say things in a sardonic fashion that might be construed as less than flattering. How dare he do what he was hired to do!
Look, I understand that it is possible to go too far in a specific context and it is also more than possible to try to be funny and fail. Both of those things are, I would argue, the bedrock principles on which this blog was founded.
But if you're going to let the crazy homeless guy into your house, you can't get THAT mad when he takes a dump on the sofa. That's what crazy homeless guys do. Well known fact.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.7
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Knowing that my editorial and support staff consists of a dozen or so Guatamalans I keep in my attic, I bet you're wondering how I managed to get my blogpost out yesterday on el día sin immigrantes. Surely their affronted human dignity would have propelled them to walk off the job and join their compañeros in the streets with an eye toward legalizing their status and combating injustice or whatever.
The truth is, they never really knew it was happening. I only let them watch a half hour of TV a day and they always, without fail, pick Dora the Explorer. What that show lacks in current-events infotainment it more than makes up for in its helpfulness toward full Spanglish fluency.
Plus, for that group, Dora is very age-appropriate. Judge me if you want to, but I have a very small attic.
And don't get all creeped out; it's not like I ask them to do anything weird. Unless you consider producing, editing and publishing a blog in a language they don't speak when they're illiterate in their native language. That's a little weird, I admit it.
We got through yesterday with no incidents of note. There was some violence, but that was only because Pilar started fighting with Blanca because she thought Blanca was getting a little too friendly with Pablo during the daily 15 minute "sunshine break." Either that or it was something to do with the workers' separation from the means of production and their subsequent alienation from the product of their labor. My Guatamalan really isn't as strong as it could be.
When it comes to events outside my attic, I'm surprised there hasn't been a whole lot of political push-back. Maybe it's because seeing that many people do anything gives politicians pause, requiring them to wait to see how television news tells them they should feel about this thing. It's a pain because they have to direct the Guatamalans living in their attics to write two speeches, one "the law is the law and illegal immigration is bad, especially when they're not white people" speech and one "all people are entitled to human rights and a chance to live the American dream, huzzah for the conquering heroes" speech. People assume it's easy to be unburdened by convictions, but trust me, in the end it's just twice as much work.
I was really, really ready for someone on the right to make a big deal out of the fact that these protests and this work-action was happening on May 1. May Day. This is the day of the year that they used to roll the nuclear missiles through Red Square, man. Can't we get a little "immigrants-equal-communists" action on right wing radio? I know Rush's Oxy-Contin related difficulties have been time-consuming, but come on, we can't get one line drawn from Cesar Chavez to Castro to Stalin? Not one? I know it's dark days for the conservative movement in this country right now, but too lazy for sloppy, obvious leaps of fallacious logic? I never thought I'd see the day. Maybe Michelle Malkin can do it for me. Nobody hates the brown man more than the Malkin. That is one angry Filipina.
As a non-right-winger, I will offer this one criticism of yesterday's action: if you're going to try to make a political point, make sure you do it in a way that people might accidentally misconstrue for personal reasons. For instance, if you're going to tell a bunch of Latino immigrants to stay home, you should consider that a) many of said immigrants live in California and b) many of those drive. So, when a lot of them--any segment of the population--takes it upon themselves to stay home, the rest of us see a significant reduction in traffic.
I don't think I can overstate the social importance to Californians of any reduction in traffic. The good news is that many gringos were converted to the cause so long as they were in their cars, zipping along and not staring at brake-lights yesterday. The bad news is they're only behind the movement so long as it involves daily massive boycotts with similar gridlock-relieving results. And maybe a free lawn trim thrown in.
The danger is that, long term, it's a short jump from "I'm down with this protest business; Viva la raza!" to "you know what, if they were all deported, traffic would be like this every day!" And then instead of going to Acapulco with Captain Stubing and the gang for vacation, they're huddled around a cow-pattie fire in southern Arizona with their Minuteman friends, keeping America safe from the scourge of potential commuters.
Add to that the economic and political pressure of rising gas prices and you've got yourself a commuter-based suburban wedge issue. Why I'm not a high-ranking GOP strategist I'll never know. All I can do is put the ideas out there. Your move, Karl Rove.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.0