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Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Brilliant Idea!: Palin-drones

Word: Palindrone: noun: a person whose unflinching support of the Republican party causes them to blindly celebrate Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice-presidential nomination, regardless of her lack of qualifications for the position.

"If you keep on believing these things they tell you, you'll be one step away from becoming a Palindrone."

New Rant!: Failing Analogy 101.

You've seen the videos of Obama saying "you can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig." And you've seen the outrage, the claims from McCain's camp calling him a sexist. And the media stoking the flames for ratings.

Well, here's the problem with all the outrage--you don't know what the hell you're talking about. The analogy is that Palin is the lipstick and the McCain/Bush politics are the pig.

Thanks for playing, though. Now please go back to voting for American Idol and leave this politics shit to people who can formulate a coherent thought. (Or this guy, who is leagues ahead of any other Fox News watcher I've met.)

(Oh, by the way, McCain used the same analogy when discussing Hillary Clinton. Of course the Librul Media was equally outraged by this blatant sexism, too...)

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Band!: (cli)Che Geuvara

(cli)Ché Geuvara is preparing for our first national tour! Our band attire will be Castro hats and Commie-green jackets with black boots and blah green military fatigues adorned with left-leaning political buttons. We will sing our folk-rock anthems with background Buddhist love chanting. Our fiddles and violins will be in drop D tuning* and on tour we will stick to fucking only pseudo-intellectual hippie chicks. We will tour the county singing for art fags and retirees in bourgeois cafes and old folks homes. Our albums will be sold online for whatever price you're willing to pay (+ $5.99 shipping and handling) and our songs will bring joy and unity to breadlines across the nation.

Keep an eye out for us in a town square near you!

(* Now accepting applications for tandem tamborinists and a classically trained, acid jazz-influenced harmonica player. Please see our official website for details.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Rant!: Middle America's Guide to Being Patriotic

Middle America's Guide to Being a Patriot

Step 1: Surround yourself with American flags. On your clothes, on your envelopes, on your toilet paper. Doesn't matter, just whatever you do, do it more than anyone else and make sure everyone knows it.

Step 2: Be related to people who were or are currently in the military. (Note: It it not necessary for you yourself to have ever served. Military service by proxy is good enough.)

Step 3: Be white, Christian, Republican, poor, and willfully ignorant. It also helps to be third generation American or better.

Step 4: Forward Anti-Obama spam messages quickly, often and with zero regard for who you or are forwarding them to.

And there you have it, the four easy steps to being a true patriot and a good American.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Stuff!: 40 Things All Drunks Must Do Before They Die

See the original article by Modern Drunkard magazine HERE.

#2: My most memorable bender was the 1st Annual Cult Meetup in back-country Indiana, June 2005. 6 hours of sleep in 5 days, nonstop alcohol consumption, and my first ever migraine on the flight back home. It's proven tough to outdo, but I'm still working at it.

#3: Done this plenty of times, normally with Jagermeister, sometimes with cheap vodka, rum or whiskey.

#8: Reaching back to my college days here, but we used to sit around the apartment, get boozed up, convince our Mormon roommate to drive, and we'd take off for the night or weekend. We were an hour from Vegas, so that was our normal destination. Or, we'd grab our sleeping bags and go disappear in the mountains for the weekend.

#9: Got thrown out of a bar in Atlanta after some chick I bought a drink for convinced the bartender that all her friends Jager bombs were on me, and I got stuck with a $200 tab. In a fit of rage I ripped down the 6' mirror in the bathroom. Once out on the curb, we saw a bunch of black dudes beating the shit out of some guy who kept quoting Dave Chapelle all night. Also, some southerners calling a couple drunk frat boys from Vermont "Goddamn Yankees". All in all, a damn memorable night.

#14: Nothing too fancy, but it was a bar with a barstool and multiple bottles of liquor and beer, so it counts.

#19: College again. In St. George, UT there's a big rock formation overlooking the town called Dixie Rock. We used to go up there after hours, me, my roommate,and a couple girls we were seeing, and we'd bring a couple blankets and a few bottles of booze and sit until the sun came out, then hit up McDonalds, go take showers and head to class. Memories...

#21: Manhattan, KS in late summer 2001 on a pitstop on my roadtrip with my dog on our way to New Orleans, I stayed with a friend from high school, who showed me around Aggieville, the single greatest barhopping experience I've ever had. The only place that is in the same universe is downtown Austin, but we didn't hit up nearly the amount of bars I went to in a single night in Kansas.

#24: I work in the entertainment industry. If we're not drunk or stoned, we're worthless.

#26: Same trip to Atlanta, I was just about broke (borrowing money from my buddy because I showed up broke right before they took off), I got wasted and started on how money was the root of evil and all this shiat, and after unsuccessfully trying to give the money to the cabby so he could help put his kid through college, I gave it to a bum outside the hotel. It probably would've been better if it'd been my money in the first place, but its the idea that counts, right?

#30: We'd do this our senior year in high school, on those weeks between the end of one sport and the beginning of the next.

#33: This was a weekly occurrence back in college. Double points: Stealing from the grocery store I worked at.

#35: I consider my drunk-writing to be among my best, and all of it has an autobiographical feel to it.

#36: Cult Meet-up again. Thanks, Nate!

So, 13 down, 27 to go. Unfortunately, I've got to wait for Tom Waits to die before I can accomplish #6, and I'm still waiting for Netflix to get Barfly on DVD.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Travelog!: World66 Maps

I just stumbled across an interesting site called World66. Here's a map of the US state's I've visited. I'll update this as soon as I get back on the road. Which, hopefully, will be around August or so.

And here's the map of the countries I've been to:

Not much to brag about, obviously, but hopefully there'll be more red splashed around in the nearish future.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Film Review!: Dear Wendy

DEAR WENDY is directed by Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, who helmed of one of my favorite films, THE CELEBRATION. It is an American Western in its broadest sense. Written by DOGMA 95 creator Lars Von Trier, it is a love story between a pacifist and his gun, and a critique of the love affair Americans have with firearms, as viewed by a couple of non-Americans. It is about social outcasts who band together with a common interest to form a group called The Dandies. They love firearms for the power and the sense of confidence the weapons bring them. Each member of the group names their gun, and they vow never to brandish them in public or in daylight, for doing so would awaken the guns to their true nature, which is to do harm. Instead, the group meets weekly in the basement of an abandoned mining facility which has been made over into a temple. The group plays dress up and have shooting practice, but they also study. They learn about their weapons, and about the damage they can cause. They also learn about the code of the Samurai and their fighting habits. They clear their minds to create psychic links to their guns. And when this link is created, they take it a step further and marry their weapons.

If you're a sensitive person who can't take some good-natured ribbing from foreigners about America, you'll probably be somewhat offended by this film. In it, everyone in this no name town full of hardworking, blue collared folk seem to carry guns, and when people are shot dead in the street the crowd reacts with little to no fanfare. Also, the main character is named Dick, which seems to be how the filmmakers might view gun-totting Americans. Also, the band The Zombies plays heavily into the story, as the filmmakers use the name of the band to reflect their views of this seemingly American-exclusive culture.

In many ways, DEAR WENDY reminds me of two of my favorite films. DOWN IN THE VALLEY, starring Edward Norton and also released in 2005, was a movie which began as one thing before taking a left turn to become something else entirely different. In both that film and this, the end result was to become an unorthodox Western. I can understand why people who don't admire the craft of filmmaking would be turned off by this structure, because it is so different than what they've become accustomed to seeing.

The second film, FIGHT CLUB (also starring Edward Norton, and also one of my favorite films), is similar to DEAR WENDY in a quite a few ways, including how both received mostly less-than-favorable reviews by professional critics who seem to have missed something in the storytelling. Perhaps they were so focused on they style of the films that they forgot to pay attention to the substance.

One of Roger Ebert's criticisms is the use of Sebastian, who is black, and who inadvertently introduces violence into the Dandies' world of respect and order. There are countless films where white Americans strike out to "fix" people of different races and nationalities, and Dick is no different as he sets out to try and change how Sebastian views guns. Ebert claims it is beyond racist, it's stupid. But that's missing the point - is it racist? Sure, but it's far from stupid. DEAR WENDY is a fable, and the filmmakers are attempting to show us a reflection of ourselves. It seems as though every week a new movie enters theaters across the country where millions of Americans can see stereotypical young black males behaving badly, brandishing firearms and acting wildly inappropriate and dangerous. Although Sebastian does this, he is more than just a simple cliche, cut from the same cloth as dozens of similar characters. And Vinterberg and Von Triers aren't stupid. They're aware of the cliche but they're not above using such a device to demonstrate how we tend to view a black man holding a gun verses white people holding guns.

Another of Ebert's criticisms is that the film doesn't follow the rules of the DOGMA95 movement. Apparently he isn't aware that this is not a DOGMA film, and it was never intended to be lumped in with that movement. In fact, in many ways, this film is as anti-DOGMA as they get, as it breaks just about every rule they set for themselves.

Other similarities shared with FIGHT CLUB include social outcasts creating a support group to help them deal with their issues, to inspire confidence in the characters, and this support group soon evolves into something approaching religion or cult status.

The genesis of the Dandies has shades of Edward Norton's Narrator changing his life after meeting Tyler Durden, as Stevie steps into Dick's life. The destruction of the central characters' ideal image of their creation comes about by introducing a character who sees through all the bullshit they've created. In FIGHT CLUB it was Marla Singer, in DEAR WENDY it is Sebastian.

In both films, a bizarre love triangle breaks up the group. In FIGHT CLUB, the Narrator is in love with Marlene, who is fucking Tyler Durden who is actually the Narrator, although the Narrator isn't aware of this little fact. In DEAR WENDY, Dick marries his gun, Wendy, but their relationship spoils when Sebastian borrows her for shooting practice. This is actually a very tender sequence, although the description comes across as hokey.

Another similarity is both these movies are cautionary tales about how easily people can be corrupted by material objects. In FIGHT CLUB, the Narrator rails against his life as a consumer, whereas in DEAR WENDY, the characters try to justify the natural urge to shoot the shit out of things, even as that completely contradicts their pacifistic nature.

A few more minor similarities include protagonists with obvious daddy issues and the need for branding and scarification. In FIGHT CLUB, fight club members scar themselves before they can join Project Mayhem; in DEAR WENDY, the Dandies cut themselves before they're allowed to fire their guns in public. Also, both protagonists are uptight and out of touch with the rest of their group.

Even the some of the sets have similar feels to them - the Temple in DEAR WENDY feels very much like 420 Paper Street. Both films use violence as a way to get a message across, and on and on. Hell, both titles even have 2 words with a total of 9 letters -- the mind, it boggles...

The climactic shootout between the Dandies and the law, led by Sheriff Krugsby, played a little over the top by Bill Pullman, reminded me of some of the best shootouts in films such as YOUNG GUNS and TOMBSTONE. It was the OK Corral, set in a contemporary American mining town.

I haven't said a word yet on the style of the film. It's beautifully shot and the set pieces are amazing, filled with wonderful details. It is paced well and it there is clever editing reminiscent of David O. Russell's 3 KINGS, and for the most part the acting was spot on. Some people have complained about the dialogue, saying it was stiff and unrealistic, but that was intentional - the goal of the movie isn't realism, but escapism, and what we say and how we speak in real life conversation is never the same as how we imagine those same conversation in our heads.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Rant!: Jazzercising.

The game just ended, so I might come across more bitter now than I might otherwise, but I'd like to say, first off, a pox on that bag of douche in Memphis who gave the Lakers Pao Gasol, and another on the referees - the officiating in this series was the most disgustingly awful I've sat through in recent memory. Phantom fouls and obvious non-calls helped ensure the Jazz wouldn't be able to overtake the Lakers in Game 5 in LA, and down the stretch two key bad calls gave the Lakers free foul shots to keep the game just out of reach. Obviously I don't blame the refs for the Jazz being down 19 at halftime - LA did a great job of jumping on the Jazz early and keeping them down for most of the game - but when it's that close at the end of the game (as was the case in all 6 games of the series), the outcome shouldn't be decided by bad calls. The blocking foul on Paul Millsap should have instead been a charge on Gasol, and that Kobe/Williams run in should have been a non-call at worst, or at best an offensive foul on Kobe swinging his elbow at Williams' face. Instead of closing the gap, that's 4 critical points that went to the Lakers.

Anyhow, now that Utah's season is over I have a few thoughts on what they should do to prepare their team for the future, before they sit ideally by and let the Lakers and Hornets run rampant for the next few years.

Here goes:

Elton Brand is an unrestricted free agent. The Jazz should buy him up and make a trade offer to Dallas - Carlos Boozer and someone like C.J. Miles or Ronnie Price, and a draft pick for Dirk Nowitzki.

Boozer's good but he's also inconsistent during the playoffs. And, in reality, he's only an All Star because he has Deron Williams helming the team. After Boozer shrunk during key stretches of the playoffs last year, he only had one really good game in the playoffs this year after being a constant 20/10 guy all year long, which tells me it's time Jazz fans and management realize that, although when all is said and done Williams may be regarded as highly as John Stockton one day, Boozer isn't the second coming of Karl Malone. Boozer is capable of being great when he's the team's second option, but the Jazz will never win a championship in this crowded western conference if they have to rely on him to have big games night in and night out.

With Elton Brand they would have a consistent 15/10 guy, someone who can play tough defense and grab rebounds, and with Nowitzki they'd have someone who not only can create shots from anywhere on the floor, but is a veteran who is hungry for a championship, and who would fit in perfectly with Deron Williams, who is the only untouchable player on the team, although unless an unbelievable deal was put on the table, I'd not surrender Kirilenko, Millsap, Brewer, Harpring, or Korver.

Salary cap aside, if a trade for Nowitzki goes through, then Okur could be shipped out, maybe to somewhere like New Jersey for Richard Jefferson or Detroit for Rasheed Wallace or the Pacers for Jermaine O'Neal, if they could pick up his expiring contract and convince him to take a salary cut to be on a contending team.

With a lineup of William (PG), Brewer (SG), Kirilenko (SF), O'Neal (PF) and Nowitzki (C), the Jazz would be one of the top three title contenders in the league.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Someone Else's Idea!: On Socialized Healthcare

Stolen from a conversation on An eloquent response to a dumbass response to this article about health insurance providers:

Insurance companies have to take in at least as much as they pay out. There is no free lunch, and medical costs are going up. If you don't like your policy, cancel it.

/has spent over $300,000 on medical bills.


Cagey B: Priceless. The person who had three hundred grand to shell out on medical bills telling us about "no free lunch".

We in the United States live in a system where we have no problem letting the government police our cities, fight our fires, keep our planes from falling out of the sky, build our gigantic freeways, prosecute our wars, and countless other things that profoundly affect our day-to-day lives and, you know, keep us from dying.

But when it comes to medical care? We seriously believe that you judge a person's right to treatment for serious illnesses based on their bank account. We have no problem with the premise of "No money? Well then you can die."

How fortunate for you that you could shell out that sum on needed medical services (unless it was cosmetic surgery, in which case you can go DIAF right now). If you hadn't that sum of money, by your very own admission, you wouldn't be allowed access to those services. Hopefully someone would come and tell you "no free lunch" as your tumor grows.

You understand that there are vital services in this country that are done by the government because either there is no way to turn a profit and do a satisfactory job, or because profit should not be the main motivating factor in providing services, right? Unless you're truly one of those assholes who thinks the police should privatized, you understand that you are part of a larger society, right?

So, unless you want what is in effect a system where the poor can go die because of the fact they are poor, there must be at the very least some sort of government intervention here. Perhaps preventing someone in the insurance industry from effectively not serving the people who are in actual need of the services that they have agreed to pay for every month, perhaps that would be a good start.

You may very well want a system in which poor people die simply by dint of the fact that they weren't rich enough. And before anyone else chimes in on this one, medical services, especially to people who, you know, get sick, are not some frivolous consumer good that can be done without. No one is saying that everyone gets to drive a Mercedes, or gets to have a 50" television. But the right to not suffer and die simply because of class should be one that we recognize. If you are one of those people, I'm done talking to you. You will not be reached, and refuse to live up to any of the responsibilities (and yes, as a member and beneficiary of society you do have them) to your State. Go move to Somalia, rugged individual.

For the rest of the conservative types, surely you recognize that there are at least some essential government services, necessary to life and limb. Medical care is one of those things that we need to have if our lives aren't to be cut shorter in the face of the resources to do otherwise.

If you're concerned about government intrusion, as this administration has shown you to rightly be, why not do something about it? Instead of being intractably against it, why not be a part of the planning process?

Are you concerned about cost overruns? You should be, taxpayer resources are vitally important and should be treated with respect. There are ways to make financial workings transparent, with proper oversight, to make sure waste and fraud don't occur. I can think of many Republicans who would be very good at functioning within a health care system and ensuring that money goes where it should.

Are you concerned about the quality of care? Again, get involved. Set standards. Hold doctors and administrators accountable. Keep up the oversight. Make sure that patients get the quality of care they deserve. It can be done. There are areas for compromise here. There are ways to harness the power of existing companies within an existing framework, even.

But man. What is currently going on, and the growing number of people's lives who are negatively affected and ruined by this situation, it is not acceptable by any standards. ANYONE'S standards. I sincerely hope that in time, our Republican and conservative friends can see this.

New List!: Best Modern Westerns

For no reason other than I like making random lists of unimportant shit, and in no particular order, here is a list of some of my favorite Westerns of the new millennium:

- Seraphim Falls
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
- The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
- 3:10 to Yuma
- Brokeback Mountain
- Down in the Valley*
- Dear Wendy**
- The Proposition
- No Country For Old Men

* Desert landscapes, horses, guns, shootouts with law enforcement and a cowboy. Can't think of any other qualifiers.
**A western-ish mining town, guns, cowboy-ish folk in a shootout reminiscent of the OK Coral. Close enough, right?