Wednesday, December 5, 2007

AWOL from Here, not the Net

Yo, if you have found this website in your travels through the internet, props and hello. As you will notice, this isn't the most up-to-date site right now. I'm not blogging here for now. I'm still writing. You can find me making contributions at

one, Ace

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gossiping about Gossip Girl

On Wednesday nights, the demoralization of America's Youth is taken on with great glee by the executives of the CW. There is the whole institution of America's Next Top Model, which is a complete farce of a program in my opinion. The show lost credibility when the houses became huge shrines to the washed-up model-cum-talk show host/investigative reporter that is Tyra Banks and a testament to her life instead of an actually legitimate search for a good model. If you don't understand what I mean, ask yourself this question: when was the last time you saw Naima? I apologize for the young heads, but she was the most recent one that I could think of because I haven't watched the show for years. But, I'm going to put my animosity towards Ty Ty on the shelf for a moment.

My ire needs to be focused on the show after it, Gossip Girl. Although I am only 23, I am surprisingly out of touch with the youth of America. Apparently, this show is based of a series of wildly successful young adult books that read like an unrestrained Bonfire of the Vanities. From what I've read about them, the content of these books would set Tom Wolfe's seersucker suits ablaze with hedonism. But, that does not concern me. I'm only concerned with the quality of the program because that's what I'm about as a viewer.

For those who are unaffiliated with either the Gossip Girl books or Bonfire of the Vanities, the show Gossip Girl revolves around an unknown blogger who writes about the goings-on of the elite prep schoolers of Manhattan's notoriously tony Upper East Side. Central to the story are Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, BFF's who had a falling out because of Serena sleeping with Blair's man Nate, who secretly has a thing for Serena. I think the cliché of this show made me gag a little.

Anyway, this show is exactly what that little bit of talking suggests it is: a teen soap much in the vein of The O.C., which is fitting because the executor of this show is Josh Schwartz aka the guy who created The O.C. Now, this clearly means that stereotypical characters from that show must be fulfilled on this one. To do a comparison of sorts, let's take this line. Serena is Marissa. Blair is Summer only in hair color (both are brunettes). Dan is Ryan, but way more loaded; he's new money which is looked down upon in this clique. Dan's Pops is like Sandy Cohen. There's no Kirsten. Julie Cooper is Serena's mom: trashy background but being elitist now. But, notice who's left out: Seth Cohen. And, this is why Gossip Girl fails as a show. I'm not trying to suggest that all of these characters are picture-perfect recastings of their west coast brethren, but I am trying to suggest that they all play on pretty generic archetypes of the teen drama.

Additionally, the absence of Seth Cohen allows this show to run itself into overly serious self-commentary without any real sense of irony or humor. Sure, Gossip Girl is funny, but it's an unintentional humor, a humor brought on by overgrown sense of self-importance than a realization of its own innate absurdity. While lacking Seth Cohen's caustic humor is alright, that absence would be tempered by the realization that the show is patently ridiculous, much in a move similar to those of Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, and Dynasty. But, Gossip Girl fails in this respect as well as it takes itself far too seriously. The characters deliver their lines with sincerity, and they actually seem to care about each other, which is just tragic.

So, if you are keeping track, I hate the show because it's a soap opera that takes itself seriously, but not seriously enough. You'd be half right. I'd throw in that it's cliché, wooden, overly sincere for a soap opera, and constantly laced with the jamz that the cool kids like. I've never watched a show with a constant soundtrack like Gossip Girl. Frankly, it's distracting. So, if you know what's good for you, stay away from this show. If you want to be dangerous, you will soon be wishing for the return of the Walshes and Dylan from that magical zip code in Beverly Hills.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Vacation From My Regular Life

As you well know, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from the constant stream of blogging that once paraded across your RSS feeds and computer screens. While I was blogging, I had to absorb a lot of information, reading feeds, reading, watching cable news, yelling at Wolf Blitzer, the regular.

I found my eyes and my mind becoming fatigued at all of the intake, so I did what any other responsible person does when they become fed up with their (non-paying) job: I took a vacation. Unlike most other people who go to exotic locales like Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Tokyo, Dollywood, Omaha, Branson, and Burma, I decided that I didn't need to leave my comfortable surroundings at home in West Virginia. Yes, that's right, I took a media vacation.

For one week, I watched nothing relating to the content of this website. I read nothing about Hillary, Barry, John Edwards, Fred D. Thompson, Rudy "9/11" Giuliani, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, etc. Nothing.

So, while Buddhist monks were getting their shit ripped in Burma, Britney Spears was losing her kids, and Rudy Giuliani was figuring out how many ways he could refer to 9/11 in a minute, I was kicking it, reading, watching soccer, learning how things are made, and gaining a fuller appreciation for women's volleyball.

Taking a media vacation is a lot harder than you think it would be. For someone who reads a lot of news even on vacation (read the daily paper when I was in Jamaica), it was awkward to step away from the news all together. After about three days, it became easier. But, those first three days were like getting cut off from heroin. I had withdrawals, twitching for a fix. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating. I had to physically train myself to stay away from the stuff.

Now, after a successful experiment with my mind at a new ease, I have turned on the news to find that I've missed absolutely nothing at all, and I'm just as critical of the news as ever. Britney Spears is still a mess. Rudy Giuliani's still an asshat. Fred Thompson's getting by on the fact that he was the DA on Law and Order, bringing nothing substantive to the party. The only thing that has changed is that Lindsay Lohan's now out of rehab. Oh, and Black professors are being threatened at Columbia. If anything has changed about me, I now have a fuller appreciation of women's volleyball primarily because it was on everyday, at least five times a day.

I always dug women's soccer. The 1999 Women's World Cup sealed that one for me. I watched the WNBA for years. I stopped after a while because the game wasn't as good as on the college level and just seemed like slightly advanced college ball without the collegiate passion. I watch track, so I know about Allison Felix and Sanya Richards being complete beasts on the track. So, I have a history with women's sports.

Women's volleyball is one of those sports that, for me, popped up when I would come for Christmas vacation from college. There were a lot of girls running around in short shorts, wailing on a ball, and yelling a lot. Frankly, I had no idea of what was going on. The only things that I was sure of was a) I had played volleyball before and knew it was really hard and b) those girls's shorts are really short. They have like JUST enough ass coverage to keep it from being obscene to the FCC and NCAA. I also knew that it left me conflicted.

On one hand, there are these girls who are amazing amazonian women. They are six feet tall (and taller) with the grace of a swan. It is a thing of art to watch these women float across the court, jump into the sky, and pound the crap out of the ball. They hit with such intense force that it blows the mind. As well, they do it so smoothly and have fun. It's telling of an athlete when a girl hits a ball right on another girl's head and proceeds to smile and laugh after the point with her teammates. That's cold blooded, but so awesome at the exact same time. As you can realize, there's nothing inherently conflicting about this.

The conflict arises in the fact that while these girls are doing all of this, it's hard to pay attention because the girls are playing in ridiculously short shorts. Daisy Dukes might be less revealing than these shorts. So, while you're watching these girls show fantastic athleticism, there's also a recognition of the fact that these girls are a) really fit and b) really quite attractive. So, while I totally respect their athletic abilities, I feel like a pervert watching them running around the court kind of scantily clad. In reality, this aspect is the thing that you first notice: the sexiness.

As my week went along, I eventually got past this (it's still there for sure. I'm straight, this is what happens) and got into the reality of the sport: a fast-paced, exciting sport. I don't root for anyone, but it becomes clear to see that these women are more than bobbing ponytails in short shorts. They are legit, amazing athletes who spend a lot of time becoming awesome and having fun while doing it. I just wonder if there's a legit reason for the girls to be wearing the short shorts. And, for the record, I would still watch if they didn't. The game's really quite fun.

And, with that piece of insight, I end the report of my media vacation. In the end, I've gained some new found critical skills, a greater piece of mind, and a new fall sport to watch when the Ravens are getting taken behind the woodshed on Sundays (I told you it's on all of the time).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Today is a Good Example of How The Media Has Failed Us

As I usually do, I have been watching MSNBC this morning, and people are taking a hard line against his appearance at Columbia. The main thing that I've been noticing is that there are a lot of voices against the speech, but not a lot of voices for the speech. No one is taking the opportunity to recognize how this speech is, in fact, helpful for America to understand the Iranian position towards us and other issues.

While no one likes Ahmadinejad (Iranians and myself included), he is the public voice of the government and decides policies along with the Ayatollah. More than all of this, Columbia is supporting the first amendment, something that the right stands against seeing as many of his previous comments have been taken out of context and manipulated for their own needs. On this issue, all one needs to do is search Ahmadinejad on Wikipedia. While other articles are suspect, luminaries get well-researched, unbiased write-ups, so I express no hesitation in recommending them.

I implore anyone who comes upon this in time to watch the speech at 1.30 on CNN.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Daytime Hangout

So, it has been a while, but I have to post about this. As you may know, Columbia has decided to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to their campus. Apparently, this offends the Fox News Sunday panel along with the fact that Columbia doesn't have an ROTC program on campus. The reason that Columbia gave was because it was uncomfortable with the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which is a completely legitimate reason in my opinion. But, the panel seems to disagree. Oh, I should note that this panel is chocked full of Republican ideologues like William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, host Chris Wallace, and Fox News Washington Editor Brit Hume. Remember, Fox News is "fair and balanced" and "they report and you decide." Wow, I think that Orwell'd be proud of that sort of spin.

To deal with the ROTC problem first, a lot of colleges don't have ROTC programs. Every college that I applied to didn't have a ROTC program. I figured that not having one is a fairly common occurrence. Anyway, my larger fish to fry is with regards to the vitriol they spewed towards Ahmadinejad. Now, before everyone starts tripping and shit, I'm not support Ahmadinejad. It's hard to support someone who denies empirical, unbiased evidence that 6 million Jews were killed by the Third Reich. But, as much as he believes this, I believe that Columbia has done the right thing by inviting him to talk.

Columbia has done the right thing because they are holding up one of the most important civil rights that we have: to discuss conflicting viewpoints. The Fox News chatterboxes believe that Columbia should not support the president of a state sponsor of terror. Now, if that were the case, no American president during the Cold War and post-Cold War era should ever be invited to speak at Columbia as each one has played a part in supporting right-wing insurgent forces to fight against something we found unsuitable. So, let's clear that idea out right now.

With that viewpoint out, the Fox News wonks say that Columbia is being irresponsible by doing this. No, absolutely not. Ahmadinejad is going to the International Policy school at Columbia. They have already studied Ahmadinejad, thought about his policies. The kids at this school aren't stupid nor are they to be swayed by a guy who dresses business casual, as we all know business casual appearance conveys no gravitas. Comfort? Yes. Bravado and confidence? Not so much. I think that his appearance will give these students a good insight on what the M.O. is for one of the more important presidents in the Middle East. In a country that is fighting a war against a topic that none of us know intimately, everyone should be jumping at this opportunity to gain further understanding.

And, above all of the technical reasons, we have the necessity to give Ahmadinejad a platform. 9/11 changed things, but it did not change the fundamental nature of our country: to give all people the right to speak their minds and debate with one another. Ahmadinejad's appearance will be nothing more than a debate with one of the most provocative thinkers in the modern world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bob Herbert Is Amazing

While I was surfing through my feeds, I came across this article asking why Bob Herbert, a sane, articulate Black columnist for The New York Times, is read by pretty much no one. The article pretty much comes to the conclusion that no one reads Herbert because he's too real. I wanted to just get his hits up because I think that Bob Herbert is one of the most important columnists out there right now with Frank Rich. He's always smart, poignant, and giving voice to smaller issues that are very important and surround us from day to day. He's the This American Life of newspaper columnists. I'm glad that I can read him again. What? You thought I was going to pay for the subscription to TimesSelect? You clearly don't know me very well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Dry Season

After sitting down yesterday and realizing that I actually have a lot of work to do if I want to get all of my grad school work done on time, I had to make a decision: spend more time on that or spend more time on this.

I clearly chose the former. With that said, this blog isn't dead. It will never die like rock and roll. I will continue to post, but it will be at a much more sporadic rate, not to suggest that I was kicking out posts with great efficiency before. I will hopefully be able to pick up more sustained blogging again in the beginning of 2008 when I'm finally done with putting in applications and taking pointless standardized tests.

And, to leave you with something more pointless, this is the video for Make Em Say Ugh by Master P, possibly one of the tackiest and, for certain, the most poorly rapped video of all-time. The only thing that is impressive about this video is the fact that Shaq was allowing himself to be connected to it. Actually, that's not really surprising as this is the same man who made Shazaam.

Monday, September 17, 2007

OJ: Who Cares?

So, if you have been living under a rock, Orenthal James Simpson was arrested yesterday on armed robbery. If you need more information about it, google it. It's literally everywhere. And, I refuse to link to any of it because that would condone it. I'm not going to write about this because this case is bullshit and only acknowledgment of OJ's existence on this earth. He makes Black men look bad, and I really don't need that. But, more generally, I just find myself not caring.

Ace is So Sad. How Sad Is He?

If that title seems really random to you, that makes it clear that you didn't watch one of the greatest game shows of all time: Match Game. While it had multiple versions (they changed the year number and incorporated a night version), two things were pretty constant about the show: Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly held down the top row.

While Richard Dawson was on the lower road and loved by all of the women, Brett and Charles pretty much delivered all of the comic relief. Their detachment from the actual show as well as the fact that Charles Nelson Reilly smoked a pipe made the show an enjoyment to watch. If you are asking how I watched a show that ended before I was born, I only have three words for you: Game Show Network.

But, this is not about my television habits, this is a mourning post. Charles Nelson Reilly passed a few years ago. Now, Brett Somers has passed too. It's a sad, sad day indeed.

Photo Source

Dead Milkmen

Best song by The Dead Milkmen ever with a crappy animation. Honestly, the animation is fitting to the song. But, I digress. The name of this song is Bitchin' Camaro! (without the exclamation point)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up

While I was preparing my Information Blast this afternoon, I came across an article at The Huffington Post about a movie called Shoot 'Em Up. The title said that it was the best dumb action movie ever. Seeing as I've been trying to watch a pointless action movie for a while, my interest was piqued. I hadn't seen a good pointless action movie since I watched Passenger 57 the other weekend.

Shoot 'Em Up puts Passenger 57 to shame. Firstly, Shoot essentially eschews the traditional plot. Oh, there's a plot. It involves a mystery man, a baby, and a lactating hooker. No, seriously, a lactating hooker. Honestly, if this movie took itself seriously, I have no idea when. The plot was ridiculous, the action scenes were crazy (awesome), and the political commentary on--wait for it--gun control was completely misplaced. All of the things that would normally dissuade other viewers, including levels of violence even Tarentino hasn't reached (and, if you have seen Kill Bill, you know that Tarentino loves the ultraviolence), but not me. It made it endearing to me, especially because the movie took such a tongue-in-cheek tone to its own innate absurdity.

Each character was a trope of the action stereotype. Clive Owen played the enigmatic loner hero; Paul Giamatti, the wickedly evil villain; and Monica Bellucci, the ridiculous hot woman whose hard-boiled exterior covers a heart of gold. Honestly, this movie wouldn't have worked as well in the hands of less-talented actors. Owen's character wouldn't have been as interesting if it weren't delivered in a complete deadpan, something Owen does well. Giamatti's cool, calculating nature helps him in exerting his evilness in the movie. Also, I loved Bellucci's half-grasp of English; it worked really well for her.

All in all, Shoot 'Em Up was hyper-violent, campy, and super stylized. And, I loved every second of it. Here's the gauge that I will give you to whether or not you should see this movie. Did you see Kill Bill? If no because it's violent, stay away. If you saw it and were grossed out, stay away as well. Anyone else, please see this movie as it was really fun and (un)intentionally hilarious. The rant about ponytails and the skydiving gun fight really made the 87 minutes (also, that kept it interesting: it was too short to lose interest) worthwhile. Do It!

Aye Aye Aye!!!

Last night, the 43rd President of the United States George Walker Bush dedicated himself to the perpetuation of an unjust, unreasonable, and unnecessary war. While that sentence was tainted with editorial bias, that's actually what happened. In a speech that ran 18 minutes, Bush announced the withdrawal of the surge from Iraq due to the "success" in the region. Some people have been very polite about the way in which Bush decided to address the country last night. Some people decided to sleep through it. I opted to tape it because I wanted to watch West Virginia take it to Maryland, which they did.

Anyway, when I got around to actually watching the address, Bush made a speech littered with factual inaccuracies and a replacement of the onus from the President current to the President future, burdening whoever becomes the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW with the responsibility of ending this war. Also, it seemed to me as if Bush is positing the idea that America is seriously contemplating an attack against Iran in the not-too-distant future. That might be my own paranoia about another war, but it wouldn't surprise me that he would try to sell this non-existent angle.

This attempt to sell a new angle was pretty resounded panned by the media and all onlookers except for the people who actually support Bush, which have to be rarely than a coherent idea from Bush.

Seeing as this speech announced that troops would "return upon success," CNN realized that this is more spin. Rightfully so, they did a compelling look at all of the spin done by the administration with regards to this war. It's a lot more than you think. In addition to the new message, Bush tried to pull the heartstrings with a note from the family of a dead soldier. It suggested that we are fighting a battle between good and evil. While this idea might be true, our prosecution of this war leaves very much to be desired and led to the unnecessary death of their song. Freedom could have been defended without attacking a defenseless, unrelated country. Iraq was not innocent, but it also wasn't a real threat.

To get away from this point, Bush also said that there were 36 countries still with troops on the ground. I heard this and called poppycock. Chris Matthews heard this and called poppycock. Steve Benen supports Matthews and I's poppycock. Difference is that Benen actually knows who is in the Coalition. I could only named Iraq, US, UK, and Australia. Seriously, I have no idea.

As you can pretty much tell, the grand message of the speech last night was that Bush is a huge-ass lame duck. He cannot do anything. The charm is gone. The charisma is gone. The cocksureness has disappeared. Bush is only a shell of the man that he once was. One of the articles that I read made a comparison between Bush and Nixon during the 1960 Presidential Debate against Kennedy, and I'd pretty much agree. Both of them sounded fine in voice, but you could see the terror and discomfort on their faces as they didn't know what to do in the face of the larger issue. As Bush pretty much said in his speech, the ball is now in the Democrat's court. They are posted up at the free throw line. All they have to do is sink it, a simple yet seemingly difficult proposition.

Information Blast: Hustlin'

I'm trying to see Shoot 'Em Up in about 50 minutes, so I've gotta book it.

Just for the record, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is, seriously, one of the best shows on television right now. I laughed so hard I cried last night. If you are in foreign countries or haven't seen it, I'm not going to spoil it for you. All I'm going to say is that a lot of drugs were involved. And, not on my end; I have to stick to drinking for a while.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not Right Now

I'm not blogging today. I've been overridden by the fact that I have no job following a year of looking, and, as you can clearly guess, I am not really ok with that. I was always told that having a college degree was a useful thing, something that I needed to be a successful member of society. It only takes a few seconds to realize that all of those hours you spent slavishly writing a perfect research paper on the failure of Marcus Garvey's failed expedition to Liberia in the 1920s mean nothing if you don't have any experience actually sitting at a desk and doing work.

Even if you have an internship, it isn't enough experience to actually get you the most basic of administrative assistant jobs, jobs that I've done since I was about 14 and am overqualified for without the added benefit of my college degree. I shoulder a part of this blame seeing as I didn't know what I wanted to do in college well enough to pursue work in that field. At the same time, I do expect to be able to use my degree to find some semblance of work, not a constant sink into depression and mental exhaustion. I don't expect to be loaded; I expect to support myself, to put food in my fridge and a roof over my head. The fact that I can't do this, even with all of my efforts, is sad. The sadder part is that this is across all generations. People from 23 to 53 are being left out in the cold, unable to get decent jobs after 1, 2, 3, 4, up to 6 and 7 years of searching. These people are forced to resort to the most menial of positions.

The only options that arise for people like me are jobs that would require using a full day's pay to fill my car to commute to and from the job. The fact that I live at home does help things, but it doesn't really cover for the fact that I'll end up spending most of the money that I make to cover basic costs that aren't assisted by me living at home like paying down student loans, which I am buried in to the tune of about 30,000 dollars. The bad part about that is that number actually could have been about 40,000.

Anyway, all of these things are just things to think about. I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy since I know I won't get any. All I ask is that you don't call me a layabout, don't call me lazy, don't call me entitled. I'm none of the above. I sank four years of my life and thousands more into an education. I expect it to pay some dividends. Like anyone who makes an investment, you want to get a return on it and make a profit. For me, that profit is working a job that actually utilizes the skills that I learned in college. Unfortunately, I'll most likely have to settle for doing a job that didn't require all of the debt and work that college was. But, for now, I have to call myself an unemployed college graduate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LNS: Cutting Losses

My lap is getting really hot from this computer. Additionally, I got sidetracked during the day trying to answer the following question: is Woodford Reserve smoother than Maker's Mark? The answer that I came to was no, it isn't. The taste is nicer, as I think it has a bit more accent. But, it doesn't really matter in the end as both of them sit in pale comparison to the orange-capped beast that is 100 proof Old Grand Dad. But, this fact has signaled that I would like to start drinking and stop blogging, especially since nothing has panned out. Petraeus told us what we thought he would. The only thing that I have to acknowledge is that the mainstream media actually did cover the story about the woman in West Virginia. I guess it was salacious enough for daytime programming.

I should also note that Shinzo Abe, a year in, resigned from his scandal-marred post of Japanese Prime Minister. Folks are calling for the return of that Elvis lover Junichiro Koizuimi. But, one would think that maybe Bush would get an idea from our buddies on the other side of the Pacific Rim. Also, I haven't watched the Britney defense video. That guy has become the new flavor of the month. He is on all of the broadcasts nowadays. I don't plan on watching it either; that would imply that I actually like Britney's music and want to defend her.

There's a bit of posturing on Capitol Hill, but nothing to spend too much time talking about, especially since they are just posing and not doing. With this as the case, I'm breezing out of here.

This is the video for Ride's Seagull from a show back in 1990. They are a brilliant band. Their genius passed a little as they started being a lower quality version of Primal Scream and became more psych instead of shoegaze.

This is also a Ride video. This is for the song Like A Daydream. Both of these songs are totally awesome and full representations of why Ride is completely awesome.

Called It

While I was trying to find proof on my own blog of this idea, I know that I've thought about it for a long time. Now, it is only being confirmed: Kanye's killing 50 Cent in sales. It's what happens when you continue to make extended metaphors about doing it with women and blatantly talking about how much money you make. 50 said he'd retire if he was outsold. Don't hold your breath on that one.

Lesbian Spank Inferno

This is a clip from the first season of Coupling, a British Friends but far better done. All I need to tell you is that Susan (the Blonde at the end of the table) found Steve's porn, which is entitled Lesbian Spank Inferno. Susan knows that Steve doesn't know if she has seen the tape. There's a lot more going on, but you really have to watch the whole episode to get all of that. This part is a piece that can stand alone. And, with that sentence, I've completely overexplained this.

Take The Day Off

Because you'll be getting at it all day. All in the name of Mother Russia. From the BBC:

The governor of Ulyanovsk region in Russia is offering prizes to couples who have babies in exactly nine months - on Russia's national day on 12 June.

Sergei Morozov wants couples to take the day off work to have sex. If a baby is born on national day, they will receive cars, TVs or other prizes.

Mr Morozov has declared Wednesday "family contact day" as part of efforts to fight Russia's demographic crisis.

The population has sharply declined since the Soviet Union collapsed.
I guess this isn't really as positive as it seems since it is, essentially, a game of sperm horseshoes. The only difference is that close doesn't count.

There is a Reason for Why I Own a Mac

It is clearly because I can simplify the ideas of Baudrillard towards hyperreality with ease, but I can't tell the difference between an S and a 5 on the back of my computer. If I had been able to make that difference, I would have not had to drive to Tysons Corner and be terrified of the sheer excesses of capitalism and be trampled by the many who heed its beck and call.

Seriously, it was kind of terrifying, but it was also because I haven't been to a respectable mall (the malls I go to are ghost towns) in probably about 5 to 7 years.

We're Getting the Band Together

Playing a one-off show in London, Led Zeppelin will reunite in honor of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. While the band will be lacking John Bonham, this should be quite the impressive site. Rock and roll!!!

Kanye Headroom

Aside from the debacle that was Britney and Kid Pebble giving the business to Tommy Lee, the other substantial story to come out of the MTV Video Music Awards was Kanye West's complaining. Kanye West is well known as a complainer. After his homage to Evel Knievel's failed Snake River Canyon jump did not win for best video at the MTV Europe Awards, West went up on stage, interrupted Simian Mobile Disco's award speech, and famously ranted.

On this occasion, West ranted again about the way he was being treated at this year's Video Music Awards. Everyone thought that West's rant was about him not winning a VMA. In NME, West states that he was upset because he did not get the opportunity to play on the big stage. If you watched the ceremony, some artists were given suites and performed from their suits in lieu of playing on the main stage.

According to the story, West was talked out of playing the big stage because it wouldn't suit his performance. Additionally, having the ego that he does, Kanye was pissed because he didn't get to open the show. That honor went, much to everyone's now displeasure, to Britney. He believes that it should have gone to someone who actually deserved it because they had been touring.

As you can tell, this is pretty much standard Kanye whining. I've never seen such a successful artist complain so much in my life. This dude is wealthy beyond all belief, has legions of devoted fans, and gets respect from super-grimy hip-hop heads all the way up to mainstream pop addicts. But, this is never enough if he's not in the spotlight all of the time. I'd be happy with performing in a Vegas suite. It's like a fly ass house party, and who doesn't love a good house party? Not this guy for sure. But, in the end, this bravado is what keeps a lot of people interested. One of those people just isn't me.

LNS: Grammar Points

While I know many people don't make these mistakes, just as many do. There are a few that I have to address.

Some people attempt to seem smarter by liberally sprinkling I's in the speech. The I is only acceptable when you are referring to yourself as the subject. If you are the object (if you don't know what subject and object means, go buy a copy of The Elements of Style right now. It's 10 bucks. You won't be able to drink for a weekend or go to a movie, but you'll sound more educated after the little bit of time you spend with it), you use me. Examples of both. Correct usage of I: Phoebe and I went on a magic carpet ride with Haji. Correct usage of me: Haji loves to hang out with Phoebe and Me.

Next, shall is one of those terms that was cool when Jane Austen was writing about the foibles of the British Victorians. Now, the term has fallen out of public favor, resulting in its usage in mock irony and pseudo-sophisticated settings. There is a WASP seething at that suggestion right now. But, even with a limited usage, the term is responded to incorrectly. I'm referring to the ever-tricky "shall we?". Whatever you will do (shall is not used for the second person. It is only for the first and third) is immaterial. The primary focus is the shall we. If your first instinct is to respond we shall, your instincts are completely and absolutely wrong. The correct term is yes, let's. There's no argument about this one. That's what you say to someone who ask you this question.

Also, as a general reminder, do not answer the phone "this is him/her." Along with sounding bad, it's grammatically incorrect. You can answer this is s/he. Ideally, you should identify yourself when answering the phone. But, I'm not that classy.

And, there you are. These are just some of the more gross errors that bother me on a day-to-day basis, especially when I hear supposedly well-educated people making such basic grammatical mistakes.

Animal Collective

If you are one of the many who cream their pants thinking about Avey Tare and Geologist, you are already fully aware of the fact that the group has released a new album called Strawberry Jam. Seeing as my world stops for no artist (it would for a reunion of the following bands: The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, The Gun Club, 3rd Bass, Heavenly, Josef K, Joy Division, Lush, Neu!, and Metal Urbain. If you are paying attention, you will understand why my world stops for no artist), I have been trying to understand why people get so excited about this band.

When I listen to them, it strikes me as a pretentious, self-indulgent endeavor, full of misplaced screams and an ineffective use of noise and tape loops. Their take on psychedelic music is also greatly hampered by the aimlessness of a lot of their music. Unlike good experimental music on the likes of Stars of the Lid and Windy and Carl (yes, they are both Kranky artists. But, I can also reference 12K records here too), which starts at one place and makes it to another, the music of the Brooklyn via Baltimore quartet strikes out with little confidence and finds itself lost in a sea of formless experimentation. Anyone who listens to experimental music knows that this is the worst thing that can happen: an experimental band that goes nowhere.

Seeing as this reaction to their music stands in diametric opposition to public opinion, I'm wondering who is really right here. Is anyone actually right? Are we all wrong? Are we all being taken for chumps by four guys from suburban Baltimore? These are all questions that I'm unable to answer because I just don't know. All I know is that their aimlessness makes me grind my teeth, much in a manner similar to that when I listen to Gang Gang Dance.

To demonstrate a non-aimless piece of experimental music, I will point to Black Dice. While their sound is fairly pretentious, it actually has a rhythm to it. They build it up, tear it down, replace backbeats, and do other sorts of crazy shit. But, the primary thing is that it gets somewhere and it works. Animal Collective doesn't do this in my opinion. There will be someone who has no idea of what I'm talking about. If you are this person, don't worry. You are totally normal and probably more sane than me. This video is a song that Black Dice did on what appears to be Spanish Television:

I'm done with this topic. If you have further insights in either direction, put it in the comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bush Liberation Tour: Next Stop: Iran

I'm serious. This administration will launch the third world war and hopefully not start a nuclear arms war with the East. I'm seriously terrified if we are actually considering using nuclear weapons against any target in the East. From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime, FOX News confirmed Tuesday.
If you read the article further, it goes on to state that actions could happen in as little as 8 months. I can only hope that the US government stops trying to play world police.

Must Read

This is fucked up. Period. I never said West Virginia was perfect. I said it was alright. From The Associated Press:

BIG CREEK, W.Va. - For at least a week, authorities say, a young black woman was held captive in a mobile home, forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked and repeatedly sexually abused — all while being peppered with a racial slur.

That intro doesn't really do justice to the brutality that this woman suffered through. The question will be if the mainstream media does any sort of reporting on this story tomorrow. This is an absolutely horrific story. At least the woman is still alive.

Come Back, Yasmine

We all miss you. You could have been bigger than Pam. Well, not in that way.

Profiles in Modern Eloquence: Tommy Lee

Throughout our hypersaturated, hyperstimulated existence in the Internet age, every asshole with a computer and an opinion has been able to express themselves online. Some of these opinions are very important and quite good.

All of the bloggers that read this site are fine bloggers. The bloggers that I read on my own time are also fine bloggers as well. But, we're also normal people. We don't got to flashy public events or casually throw on 300 dollar jeans to grab a cup of coffee. Well, Arianna Huffington might, but she's way loaded and doesn't count.

Anyway, with the rise of Myspace and more general blogging, celebrities who constantly crave the spotlight have been given the ability to blather on about the minutiae in their life. This can be boring. Actually, most of the time it is. But, there are rare gems that appear from time to time. And, these gems will be celebrated in a series that I will refer to as Profiles in Modern Eloquence. Much like JFK's Profiles in Courage, I will honor celebrities and other non-blogger bloggers (that means cats like Digby, Atrios, anyone from Daily Kos, Michael K from D-Listed, Perez Hilton, etc. will not be in this series because they are well-respected, legitimate bloggers who are best known for being bloggers. I'm focusing on people who are known for other stuff than thinking and photoshop semen) who display exceptional abilities in conveying an interesting tale or message through the written word.

The first person to be inducted to this elite group will be Tommy Lee. Aside from being known as the drummer for hair metal juggernauts Mötley Crüe, Lee is well known as being a ex-husband of gigantically breasted Baywatch star Pamela Anderson. Lee is also well known for making a sex tape with Anderson, which showed the world that the man is hung like a horse. Damn, that man's penis is huge. I'm getting away from my point.

Lee displayed his eloquence following his tussle with Kid Rock at the MTV VMA's. Lee wanted to show what his side was, and this is what we got:

Yeah!! I am minding my own biz having a great time with my friend Criss Angel (magician) and watching the MTV awards in the front row saying hello to all my friends......Pamela comes and sits on my lap who I love and adore....and also say hello to my friend Travis Barker and his wife!.....and i get a text from another friend P. Diddy and he says come sit with me.....and he's sitting with Miss HOT Megan FOX so I go over and sit with P! Not a minute later and Alicia Keys starts her amazing performance....("I apologize sweetie.....I had nothing to do with the timing and disrespect")......back to the stupid-ness!! I get a tap on the shoulder from Kid Pebble...I stand up and embrace him with a semi hug and say "Hey dude...What up"?? He punches me in the face.....well if ya wanna call it that!?....more like a bitch slap!.......Wuss!! Anyway....i go to knock this jealous country bumpkin the f$%k OUT....and before I can have a meeting with my fist and his ugly ass mug guards... grab me and haul my ass outta the award show! So I'm fine and of course leave to my room with police and owner of the Palm's George Maloof......the rest is paper work and bullshit!... Anyway...... I would like to apologize to Alicia and George and MTV for the disrespectful bullshit caused by a piece of shit called Kid Pebble!!
Kid Pebble! Apologies to Alicia Keys! Shoutouts to Criss Angel AND Megan Fox AND Travis Barker! And, how can I forget about all of the ellipses. This is one of the best pieces of celebrity writing that I've read in years. I have never been so moved by sincere apology and aimless namedropping. Lee was definitely the most fitting choice for the first Profile in Modern Eloquence.

TMZ's Calling It, the infamous celebrity empire, has tolled the death knell on Britney Spear's career following the disaster on Sunday. There's only one question to ask: do you agree? Actually, two questions: the first one and do you care?

Fuck This

On the anniversary of 9/11, I'm glad to see that the rights of citizens is so high in the minds of our government.

The man being arrested is Rev. Lennox Yearwood. Well known as a hip-hop activist, Yearwood was in line to go into the Petraeus hearing at the House. Now, I want you to pay attention to TWO things in this video. At the beginning, it is clear that Yearwood was in line. But, he was bypassed for two other people who were behind him in line. Additionally, the amount of force used was completely unnecessary for one man who did not even raise a fist nor make a threatening move towards the officers.

Apparently, the Capitol Police are charging him with assault of a police officer and suggest that he was told to move to the back of the line. Why? Yearwood believes that it was because of his pin which supported the people of Iraq. On a day where our country came together six years ago, it's sad to see the diversity of opinions, which makes this country great, be stifled.

[h/t Pandagon]

9/11: Could We Have Stopped It

McClatchy, on this 6th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, pose the provocative question of whether or not we could have stopped the attacks.

Two numbers scrawled in a notebook that belonged to terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui could have given the FBI a chance to identify several of the Sept. 11 hijackers before they struck six years ago, according to officials who are familiar with the bureau's massive investigation of the attacks.

The notebook entries recorded the control numbers for two Western Union wire transfers in which suspected al Qaida coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh, using an alias, sent Moussaoui $14,000 from Germany in early August 2001, before he went to a Minnesota flight school to learn to fly a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

A check of Western Union records probably would have uncovered other wires in the preceding days for similar sums of money to Binalshibh — who'd been turned away at the U.S. border four times because he was a suspected terrorist — from an al Qaida paymaster in Dubai. On one of those receipts, the paymaster listed a phone number in the United Arab Emirates that several of the hijackers had called from Florida.

While McClatchy does not go as far to say that the attacks could have been completely stopped by acknowledging this notebook, it does suggest that this evidence could have played a role in helping to find out about more about Moussaoui and the people that he was connected to. It saddens me to this information wasn't investigated before the actual attacks. It's an interesting conundrum to ponder, but given a lot of the government's actions before the attack, this lack of diligence is not particularly surprising.

Lost Productivity

I'm actually not talking about my awe-inspiring inefficiency here actually. I'm referring to the lost productivity of workers due to the presence of the oh-so-conformist Facebook and other social networking sites. Apparently, these sites are costing businesses around 260 Million dollars in lost productivity. Now, I've held a few jobs in my life. None of them were particularly stressful. I was easily able to waste a little bit of time while still being completely effective as an employee. All of my work would get done and no one was the smarter.

So, this whole efficiency argument doesn't hold weight with me because, in the end, it is about the work getting done. As long as the work gets done, I don't really care what they do in the in-between. But, this also might by the reasoning of a dirty hippie instead of a grubbing capitalist who would give me some lecture about not appreciating anything that I've gotten in life, even though he knows nothing about me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back To Britney

While her performance was terrible, she looked very good. Perfect? No. Healthy? Yes. A lot of people having been slamming her because she's not super thin. She's pretty thin. Also, her cause would have also been helped if she had not went out in a two-piece.

9/11 Conspiracy Theorists: You're All Wrong

I actually meant to comment on this yesterday, but I forgot. I got caught up looking at some people have sex on HBO. Before, I address that title, let me comment on this new HBO show Tell Me You Love Me. Aside from having the creativity to take your title from a fairly well-known Cardigans song, this show is groundbreaking because you actually get to see some male junk. Everyone's objectified! Huzzah! Anyway, it's not a particularly exciting show to watch. Actually, it's pretty boring. It's like an updated, less interesting version of thirtysomething. That's actually a bit of an insult to thirtysomething, but it's the best that I can do for now.

Back to my original complaint. I was watching the History Channel last night and there was a show on 9/11 conspiracy theories. The idea had popped into my head when Mos Def, someone whose politics I generally agreed with, suggested that 9/11 was a conspiracy. The show laid out some of the conspiracies that had been floating around. Much like the grassy knoll, there are many theories surrounding the falling of the towers. Some people believe that it is a government conspiracy, a corporate conspiracy, etc. I'm confident in making the following statement: these people are idiots.

With the JFK assassination, there was a possibility that it was an outside shooter. But, with recreations of the fatal shot done on television, we all learned that the magic bullet wasn't so magical; it was just a regular bullet shot by a highly trained former marine, a marine that was widely considered as a very good marksman. But, this fact does not stop the conspiracy theorists who believe that this whole thing is a cover-up. We will never know who Oswald was working for or why he did it, but that's sort of immaterial. We just know that Oswald acted alone and let off all of the shots that killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Why will be one of the all-time great mysteries. Thanks for nothing Jack Ruby. But, I digress.

The JFK Assassination is exactly like 9/11. We know who committed 9/11. We have pictures and manifestos from them before they did it. We have al-Qaeda acknowledging the 19 men. But, on top of this, we saw it happen. Unless you didn't have a television, you saw the two planes hit the World Trade Center. You can see the second plane fly directly into the tower. I watched this with my own two eyes as I'm sure millions others around the world did too. Even if you didn't have a television, the pictures were in every newspaper in the country following the event. The fact that there are conspiracy theories surrounding this confounds me to no end. There's no conspiracy to be had. There were a bunch of men who had grown angry at the United States, hatched a plan then executed said plan. Period. That's what happened.

The CIA wasn't involved. They tried to stop it. The White House could be considered responsible, but that's from their own stupidity more than complicity. Defense didn't have a motive. No one has a motive to destroy these two towers with airplanes other than the 19 men who did. Also, why would the Defense Department want to destroy their own building? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I don't mean to be so flippant about conspiracy theories because a lot of people believe that 9/11 is a huge conspiracy. I'm just one of those people who believe that the conspiracy theories are crocks of shit, paranoid explanations of a reality that is far simpler and less explicable: some assholes took out two buildings with planes, cost us a few more structures in collateral damage, gave an administration an unfortunate death grip on the national psyche, and sent thousands of Americans and Iraqis to their untimely deaths. That's what happened. That's all that happened.

Larry Craig: The Tick of This Newscycle

The only way to kill it is if you crush it with your bare hands. From The Guardian:

Sen. Larry Craig should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in a sex sting because he was under extreme stress after being hounded by journalists asking questions about his sexuality, his lawyer argues.

For the record, Larry Craig was only being interviewed by the Idaho Statesman, a small run newspaper in Boise. He wanted to get his name out of the paper because then he would have to do the unthinkable: admit to liking it in the butt.

Play It For The Jury, The Defendant, and The Plantiff

As I noted sometime last week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have strolled up to Capitol Hill to deliver their announcements on how the war is going. Today, they spoke to the House. For the next couple of days, they will then talk to the Senate. Everyone pretty much expected two things out of the General: a slight withdrawal of troops and more time to wait for the American forces to win (I don't harbor the illusion that anyone else is really doing anything in Iraq. There are other countries there, but this is pretty much our particular project).

Both of these things came as suspected. Petraeus called for a draw down of about 4,000 troops by the end of the year and a return to pre-surge levels by next summer. While this is all dandy, there are two very clear camps of people looking at this war. I'll give them cheerleaders for the sake of the argument.

On the left, there are people like Dennis Kucinich, Chuck Hagel, and Mike Gravel who are calling for a complete withdrawal from Iraq. They believe that the war has been a complete mistake and that we have to cut our losses now instead of sitting around and waiting. On the right, there are people like Jeff Sessions, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol who are fully behind the war and think that, with time, the war can succeed in its purported goals. Both sides believe that they are right, but are they really?

The short answer is no, neither side is right. The long answer is fairly more complex, and requires a fairly obvious realization: Iraq is fighting a civil war. The left has realized this, but their problem is the fact that a swift withdrawal will destabilize a country that is already destabilized. A precipitous withdrawal can create the breeding ground for WWIII/IV (Cold War was III, if you count it as a real war) with Iran coming in to fight to expand the politics of Shi'ite Islam in the region. But, the right's wrong too. Staying in the country will lead to the continual slaughter of American and International troops while they babysit a civil war.

The only correct answer in this situation is to start a fairly slow, long withdrawal from the country. The police force is not adequately trained and highly sectarian. America will have to spend at least two years in the country just to train them. Withdrawal can happen, but it will have to occur over the course of at least 18 months if not longer just because the country has been completely destroyed by this current course. I want our troops to come home faster, but the facts on the ground and the continual violence require me to temper my emotions and think with my head on this issue.

Also, if you want to keep up with the hearings at work, the Firedoglake women are all over it. FDL's a fantastic blog by the way. You should definitely read it if you can. Plus, they are holding it down for West Virginia.

I'm not going to lie

This song's kind of awesome. I always get it stuck in my head, so she must be doing something right. I mean, I'm not paying money to see her live, but this song's got to having something going for it if I can't manage to get it out of my head. Also, I apologize ahead of watching the video because the same thing will happen to you, much to your displeasure.

A Few Words on Ms. Spears

Last night, Britney Spears made a last attempt to save her public career, to show the world that she has gotten her shit back together and focused on the music again*. Coming out in her underwear and panties with some tights on, Britney sauntered around the stage, lip synced poorly (I've realized and accepted that she will never sing a song live. Why should I ever expect that of my pop stars?), and pretty much looked like a deer caught in headlights. Actually, the expression of Curtis at the third minute of her performance (if the link doesn't work, do a search on google video) pretty much sums up everything. His mouth is agape, unsure if he is watching a bad performance or the visualization of a career at its end.

Now, the new single's not really that good. It'll get some spins on the gay club circuit, but that's pretty much it. I'll be surprised if this song blows up. But, more on top of everything, her performance was just terrible. Uninspired, unmotivated, and poorly performed, I'm having difficulty in even offering an explanation for why we should care about Britney Spears as a pop singer anymore. At least Fergie's going all out and putting on good shows. We'll have to see if this performance was the death knell of Spear's career or if Spears can make it out of this period of turmoil to thrive once again. The good part about this is the fact that we will only have to wait a few weeks to find out as her album, I think, drops in October.

*focusing on the music is a relative term as she doesn't write much of her music. But, I'm meaning that she's at least back in the studio and recording or even hanging around in the studio. I will accept her hanging around in the studio as focusing on the music again.

Editorial note: I didn't watch the actual performance live. That would give MTV the impression that I support their programming, which I definitely don't now that they've canceled Pimp My Ride.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pretense Does Not Make Good Fiction

For the last eternity (read: about a month), I have been slogging away, attempting to finish Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. If you have never read this book before, I don't suggest that you do. I found it overly indulgent, disjointed, and uninteresting (it revolves primarily around the Knights Templar. Don't know who they are? Join the club). I've actually quit reading this book. This is something that I almost never do. The only time I quit reading books is actually when they are the above three things. I can actually deal with the first two, but the last one is really the kicker. I read Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, so the first two really aren't that much of a concern. The last book that I quit reading was The Obstacles by a Mexican named Urroz. Snorefest. But, I digress.

A lot of people believe that Foucault's Pendulum is a master stroke, a perfect marriage of medieval research and psychological thriller. If you do not see the book in this way, you are obviously an idiot in the minds of these people. The last thing that I would call myself is an idiot. Slacker? Sure. Sketchy? Possibly, but those days are behind me. Idiot? No chance. I aim to keep the personal conceit in check, but this is a place where I can pretty much go apeshit. I actually understood the book. I just didn't like it. It wasn't holding my attention like a good book should, and I didn't feel invested in the characters. But, the fact that people look at me as if I'm an idiot because I don't like the book gets at my larger point.

Foucault's Pendulum is pretty much one of those books people read if they are either interested in the topic or trying to be super pretentious. There is a lot of good medieval research in the book. But, all of that research is obfuscated by the terrible prose of Eco. Wordy and overwrought, Eco's writing helps to slow the leaden pace of the book and make the already impenetrable topic incomprehensible as well. But, people will swear that it's a revolutionary book even if they didn't finish it or they didn't actually like it when they read it. They will do this because the book can be held up as a kind of calling card, a badge of intellectual supremacy even though speaking with half a brain about something other than sports and gossip will usually convince people of your intelligence as well.

As I am publishing this at 4 in the morning, I'm not really sure what the grander point of this all is. All I know is that I am angry at people thinking I'm dumb because I didn't like a dense, overwritten treatise with unengaging main characters and absurdist topics which were discredited before the book even began. I just needed to get my frustration with this book out into the open.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Electric Boogaloo

Reminder: for all the hardcore sex you can handle, you need to sign up for the RSS feed. Oh, and these posts and my daily list of links are there too.

How To Get Shot

The Smoking Gun published a handbook that was illegally distributed amongst cops in the Houston Independent School District. While passing around a handbook is not fundamentally a problem, it is when that handbook is on how to talk to Black people. That's right, this handbook is about how to talk in ebonics since Black people don't have developed vocabularies.

But, since they are willing to put it out there, I'm willing to examine it. I'm a Black guy. I know what's "cool" on the streets. So, I will take an opportunity to critique it.

I have to throw out the first page because the photo is grainy and hard to decipher. It appears to be a couple of negroes, one of whom is holding a wad of cash and the other is holding a gun, or a gat. Gat's the right term, right? That's what white people think Black people say, don't they? Whatever, I'm Black, I dictate public culture when not being oppressed. So, gat it is.

Page two gives us a worthless list of dictionary definitions of ebonics. I don't need a definition, or, if one is to give a definition, it should be this: ebonics (n): shit white people think black people say. Page three tells me that:

with this guide you too can learn to speak ebonics as if you came out of the hood. [U]se what you learn wisely, because you can find you self with a problem one day and ebonics could save your life.
Before I comment on this proposition, I will note that whoever wrote this didn't do too well in English class. I'm gong to re-write this before I move on.
This guide can teach you how to speak ebonics as if you are from the hood. Memorize this text because knowing ebonics could save your life one day
There we go, just as offensive, but much better written. Now, is this guy fucking serious? There is not a Black person on the face of the planet who actually speaks in ebonics. So, white person, if you decide to speak ebonics, you will be shot faster than if you spoke in plain english, especially if you do it the way that is suggested in the handbook.

This idea takes me to the fourth, fifth, and sixth pages of the handbook where the actual vocabulary breaks out. On page four, if you say what up foo to a Black person, you will get bucked on. On page five, Cristal is champagne, not wine. They clearly have never touched a bottle of the stuff before. Also, on page five, the writer shows their weak grasp of English by using both nouns and adjectives, adjectives for actions. An example of this is 5-0, a term meant as a noun for cops. This is usually code language to run, but somehow it became an adjective in this handbook. Also, half of the definitions are wrong on this page. On top of the wrong definitions, the phonetic pronunciations are all terrible. You really have to read them to get a feeling for how bad they really are.

Page seven features a lovely poem with more vocabulary. Glaring problems: cigarettes are jacks/squares, no one uses public phones anymore unless they are dealing drugs, and is should be replaced with are for almost all of the examples given since they are plural.

Overall, if anyone tried to relate to Black people with ebonics, they will get shanked with a dull bic pen. Oh, that's right, I will totally shank someone if they tried to come to me with this weak shit. I'd go McEnroe all on their shit. And, I'd be the easiest of them all. Please, please, white people: don't talk like this book wants you too. All Black people can speak proper english.

Information Blast: I Wanted To Rock The Bells

But, I was more comfortable in straight legs.

A friendly reminder from someone who cares about your hearing. If you are listening to something (a CD player, cassette player, iPod) and take your headphones out. Ask yourself this question: can I hear what I'm listening to? If you can hear what you are listening to, how well can you hear it? Is it a murmur, the backbeat, or can you finish the verse? If it is the last one, you need to turn your headphones down.

Continuous listening at that volume can permanently damage your hearing.
If you say that you do it because you have to, you are wrong. You are just cheap and need to buy some sealed ear/headphones. Getting off that money as a young person will be much better than having to wear a hearing aid because you wanted to have some fun when you were young. And now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

Amber Alert Only If Amber's White

I am not joining in the discussion on this case because that makes the presumption that I care. Also, I don't want all of those damn white supremacists coming back to my site being idiots.

I actually caught wind of this story on Fox News on Tuesday. I was waiting for my car to get fixed, which it did after they ordered the part, and the anchors on Fox were talking about this girl. I wasn't particularly impressed by this case. But, I should note that Camille Cleverley is a major at BYU in Marriage. Yes, she is literally in college to get her M-R-S. Wow, I thought I would never use that phrase in my life.

Also, I wasn't watching Fox News on my own volition.The Toyota service department strapped me to a chair and forced my eyes open.

Anyway, all the regular requirements are met for this case to get national attention. It's a missing, moderately attractive white girl. There are no other requirements to be met after that. They will be profiling her on America's Most Wanted this weekend.

Top Televison

Time released a list of the 100 Greatest Television Shows of All-time this week. I actually had forgotten because I added it to my stash.

The reason that I added it there was because I really didn't have much of a problem with the list. Some of the shows I don't watch. Others that I would add like Designing Women, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and Absolutely Fabulous did not make the cut, but I'm not really that upset about it.

The primary reason for this being that so many of the shows that I grew up watching either in syndication or on actual television are on the list. If you don't know a lot of the shows on the list, don't feel bad. It's just a testament to how much influence Hollywood has had on my life. So much so that I became a television critic.

Quentin Tarentino Wants To Put It In Your Mouth

Radar reports on everyone's favorite ball of pretense/b-movie geek/movie nerd/postmodern director Quentin Tarentino. Following the box office failure that was Grindhouse (full disclosure: I want to see this movie and didn't because I was lazy, so I'm partially to blame for its failure), Tarentino has decided to dive into that other field of cinema in Los Angeles County: Pornography.

Tarentino's grand idea is to make 3D porn. Tarentino believes that it could be the next direction for pornography to take. Yes, I need to see semen flying at my face or a woman's thrusting fist challenging the structural integrity of my nose. This is clearly a brilliant idea on the part of Tarentino.

My faux enthusiasm aside, this shit's already been done. As the article points out, Bobby Rinaldi has already made a version of his Screw My Wife Please series in DVD. For those who can't understand the literalness of porn titles, a dude bangs some real guy's real wife. Yes, it is that crass. And, yes, the women are completely into the idea. Some participants talked about wanting to be in it (for the husband, that meant watching their wife get boned by a porn guy) during HBO's enlightening documentary on pornography in the San Fernando Valley (this is the peril of watching too much television). As I understand it, the whole movie is made of couples who wrote the company to be in the movies.

As innovative as this might be, 3D porn might not be the best direction for porn to take. For anyone who has watched any amount of porn, would you want that porn busting out of the spectrum towards you? Would that really increase its erotic appeal? If that's you, that's cool. But, that's not me. I don't need to feel like I'm covered in a sticky wad.

In Case You Missed It

Fred Dalton Thompson, aka the District Attorney from Law and Order, has finally thrown his hat into the election race. This announcement has done two things. First, it has ended what has seemed like years of endless speculation about whether or not the guy who guides Jack McCoy with pondering tough talk was actually going to run for the highest office in the land. I knew that he was, but I also didn't care or have hours of television broadcast time to fill. We all can't show homemade news documentaries all of the time, MSNBC. Secondly, the originally svelte 16 has now ballooned to 17 with his addition into the mixing bowl that is this election cycle.

If you are out of touch on who the candidates, you really aren't alone. There are far too many to remember and really care about. If you need to know, some quick googling or a trip to the Online Newshour election blog should clear this all up for you.

I should also note that if you follow the link for Thompson, you'll get to watch a creepy introduction to the race video. While it's not Mike Gravel mugging, it's far more depressing, and boring, to watch.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Slow Week

I'm commiserating on the slow week by watching high quality tackle football. It's the beginning of the new season.

In commemoration of this fact, I am posting a video for LL Cool J's Shut Em Down from the Any Given Sunday. If that name isn't familiar, it was Oliver Stone's survey of professional football featuring Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Al Pacino, and Elizabeth Berkley, fresh off her Showgirls success, as a prostitute. She didn't get type casted at all.

Larry Craig: The Fun Never Stops

As you all should be familiar with the story of Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, Senator from the state of Idaho, this following piece of news should not be shocking.

Larry Craig has sympathizers in the American Land Rights Association. Located in Battle Ground, WA, ALRA has decided to start a boycott of Minneapolis airport until it gives Craig an apology.

The reason for this is because Craig got profiled. That's right profiled as a dude who is cruising for the hot gay sexiness. I hesitate to point out the double standard here if Craig were either a) Black, b) Middle Eastern, or c) a woman. Regardless, this is possibly one of the fruitless boycotts I've ever seen. A lot of people aren't loaded like Republicans. We don't have the flexible income to avoid airports like that, especially if it where I can get the cheapest flight from.

In examining the basis of this boycott, I went to their website and read an email. The email from ALRA says that the Minneapolis-St. Paul Police Department is completely out of control by arresting people on suspicion of committing a crime. You know, doing their paid jobs. ALRA also suggests that the police officers who arrested Craig were overzealous, trying to make a name for themselves instead of following the rule of law, even though this is not the case.

In retort to their boycott, I say if Craig wasn't guilty, he should have pled not guilty or no contest instead of pleading guilty. One of the basic premises of law is that we all are innocent until proven guilty. Just because he is a senator does not mean that Craig is not above the most basic of American principles. He says that he pled guilty becayse he was trying to get it over quickly. When he says that does he mean the public shame that comes from this charge or the blowjob? I think he means the blowjob. I think that he had a tight connection that day.

Regardless of which, Craig's stupidity should not be thrown back at both the people in blue who protect us (when they aren't beating black people) and an innocent monolith constructed of steel, concrete, asphalt, and glass. Both of those things were just doing their job, much unlike Craig in Washington.

If you feel that you need to support the cause, visit here and be horribly underwhelmed.

Grammatical Blogs

Grammar is something of a sticking point for me. While my grammar is not immaculate, I do consider myself able to exercise pretty sweet grammatical skills. While I was surfing around today, I found links to two blogs that speak to pet peeves of mine.

While there is an irony to using a quotation mark, unless the quote is actually being used to convey suspicion or demarcate the presence of a foreign speaker to the narrative, the quotation mark is a part of grammar that is frequently overused to non-comic effect. the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks deals with this very aggravating topic and does it with pictures. PICTURES!!!!!

Joining its quoting-crazy friends, Literally, A Web Log concentrates on the brutality of misusing the term literally. It's such a useful term, but it's so frequently overused.

Are these blogs nerdy? Of course. Are they essential? Absolutely.

Information Creek: Flowing Into Your Mindspace

Creek: more substantial than a stream, still not level with the intensity of a blast.

There is one week until the spilling of the Iraq reports telling us how much the war sucks. Actually, I take that back. The military people will tell us how awesome this whole war is, how it is going well and whatnot. The people amongst us who have actual eyes and see all of the destruction in the papers, wires, and television will believe otherwise. A contrived public announcement will not convince the sane ones of us otherwise.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

With All of the Discussion of Food

I know my chicken. But, then again, I love chicken.

Rachael Ray: The Food's A Prop

For some reason, I have an obsession with writing about people that I personally can't stand. I don't think that it is to be a hater or some other word with a negative connotation. But, because writing about the hated person helps me to explore and explain why I don't particularly like them. Plus, even though I write about stuff that I actually like, it gets boring to be positive all of the time. I have no idea how the people at The Believer do it all of the time. They must be heavily medicated.

I'm taking this opportunity to make rationalizations on the empire that is Rachael Ray. For those who do not own televisions, first, give yourselves a pat on the back. I still think that all of you have made the wrong decision, but I respect your decision nonetheless. Your obstinacy has led you to avoid the wave of enthusiasm and worthless abbreviations that is Rachael Ray. But, since you don't watch TV, you have no idea of who she actually is, so let me explain.

Ray is a television personality with a cooking show, a talk show, and a line of successful cookbooks. When someone normally has a series of cookbooks and a cooking show (multiples actually, but she only actually cooks on one), that would usually entitle them to be called a chef, but not in Ray's case. And, this is a part of her flagship show 30 Minute Meals' brilliance.

30 Minute Meals can be considered one of the best or one of the worst cooking shows that you will ever watch in her life. Other people might see inspiration in the monstrosity of a meal that she made today: a muffuletta salad and a shrimp po'boy with a weird mustard-relish topping. Personally, this meal made me want to gag. But, there is someone who is going to make this meal tomorrow. These people are the reason that Rachael Ray is on track to become the everyman's Martha Stewart.

To tie some of these ideas together, it becomes necessary to talk about the show itself. 30MM begins in a kitchen with Rachael Ray greeting you, the viewer, with a situation. Most of the meals made on the show are inspired by Ray's day-to-day life. Whether that is her family, a movie, or an event of relevance to her, Ray finds inspiration for meals and explains it to you the viewer at the very beginning. After this explanation, which is intended to sell you on the meal, Ray tells you what she will be preparing today and that all meals only take 30 minutes or less, as a title like 30 Minute Meals would dictate.

While this all seems quite banal, Ray pulls a lot of sales tactics in her pitch. Firstly, the overhead wave is a standard of anyone trying to sell something. Believe me here. I worked for USPIRG and GreenPeace as a canvasser; I know what I'm talking about. The first thing that they actually teach you aside from the sales pitch is the same stupid wave that Rachael Ray does when she opens her show. They tell you to do such a wave because it draws attention to yourself. Also, Ray uses a lot of hand motions and is very animated. This is yet another sales tactic. If the seller can convey their excitement to the customer about the product (that would be the meals in this case), the customer will be more likely to try it.

If you have made it past this stage of the program, Ray gets on to the actual cooking. And, at this point, it becomes clear that Rachael Ray is selling a lifestyle more than the actual food. Ray is trying to sell a generation of women and men who would rather order out than cook on the magic that is slaving away in a kitchen. Ray makes the process of cooking far less stressful in her actual techniques along with the fact that she has developed all of her recipes to only take a half an hour. A more experienced cook will be OK with spending hours in the kitchen cooking Coq Au Vin or for that matter baking. Not Rachael Ray! Cooking for hours is unacceptable. Hell, Ray doesn't bake either. It requires measuring cups, which Ray proudly flaunts as not owning. This aspect helps to make Ray appear more like a regular, everyday person instead of one of these highbrow chefs who have training and are real chefs, someone who realizes the grind that is cooking.

I use the word appear because Rachael Ray knows her way around a kitchen. Her family has a history in foodservice as does she. The primary display of this somewhat hidden fact is her absurdly good knife skills. Anyone who has cooked knows that chopping stuff is kind of difficult, especially at speed. She's fast and accurate with her knife. Her onion chopping gives Jacques Pepin (a really fast chopper, but he's old enough to be Ray's dad) a run for his money. This fact is enough to get the attention of anyone who is suspicious.

The suspicion is added to by the ways in which she makes suggestions throughout the course of the show. For example, in the episode that I watched today, Ray decided to make a meal for a jazz festival. During the whole course of the episode, she kept volunteering party ideas and things to do with the food instead of just cooking. I mean, she cooked throughout the show; she didn't have time not to. But, she kept talking about how you can have your own jazz fest at your house. Or, if you went to one of the larger jazz fests, you could bring the meals that she made. If the show were all about the food, she would have just made the meals. But, it becomes clear that Ray is trying to sell the viewer on the idea that food is only one part of the party lifestyle. Ray gives the new found chef ideas for entertain their friends or keep up with their friends if they happen to all be good cooks.

Regardless of friends, Rachael Ray helps to endear herself to the audience in other ways from her party ideas and generally perky presence. Ray does this by flaunting her ordinariness. Her ordinariness comes from the ideas that her measuring and abbreviations. As I noted above, Rachael Ray does not like to make exact measurements. Everything is a handful, a palmful, a half of this, and a half of that. On top of this, most of Ray's common usage items like Olive Oil and her "garbage bowl" (a bowl that takes all of the trash she generates during the show. Saves time apparently. I found leaving stuff strewn across my countertop works just as well) have abbreviations. Olive Oil is EVOO in Ray's Kitchen; the Garbage bowl, a G.B. These two things help to give the regular chef confidence in taking control of their kitchen and not being afraid to cook in a kitchen. Ray helps to convey the idea that cooking is not the exacting, precise field that it is made out to be in Top Chef; it's only that competitive when money gets involved.

Now, this is where I begin to steer away from the Ray school of thought. While I'm generally a fan of cooking fast meals and not having to put in a lot of work, I have to be impressed by the meal that I see presented in the end. Some of Ray's meals look good. As much as I don't like Ray, I'm not above saying some of the stuff she makes actually looks pretty good. Now, for every decent looking meal, there are five bad ones. They are so bad, they make you wonder how Ray thought it was a good idea to present this meal to the public. But, the desirableness of the meal is only secondary to the general message presented by the show, which is cooking is not a difficult proposition to undertake. All you need is some basic ingredients, a few pans, and thirty minutes. This is what Rachael Ray is selling you on instead of the food. This fact alone is why I don't particularly like Rachael Ray: the food seems secondary to her instead of first. There is nothing wrong with being a television personality, but the food has to come first. And, for Ray, the food is a prop to the overall selling of people into the idea that cooking is fun. If you don't cook, this is a fine prospect. For someone like myself who does, it leaves me feeling a little bit more than cold. It just becomes clear to me that 30 Minute Meals is more of a lifestyle show than a real cooking show, bringing it to the level of other lifestyle shows like Semi-Homemade Cooking and Simply Delicioso. And, that's actually a shame because if Ray fully focused on cooking, she would actually be a top level chef instead of a fast-chopping sea of mediocrity like she is now.

R. Kelly: The White Whale of Justice

Robert Kelly of Chicago, IL is one of the biggest names in the music world. There are three ways that you know R. Kelly, as he likes to call himself in what can only be referred to as a sheer lack of creativity.

The first is the platinum-selling artist who released such classically named songs as "Feeling on Your Booty," "Bump 'N' Grind," "Ignition," "Ignition (Remix)," "Fiesta," "Down Low," and "I Believe I Can Fly." His blend of street aesthetics and unadulterated sexuality won him many fans amongst both women and men. He hit the crossover with his song for the Space Jam soundtrack "I Believe I Can Fly." People got into the song's inspirational message and disregarded the songs about having sex that Kelly is so well known for. Sexuality aside, R. Kelly is a musician of great talent, one whose career has been able to strive through many highs and twice as many lows.

If the R. Kelly that sings songs doesn't ring a bell for you, there is R. Kelly the actor. Displaying his abilities to play myriad roles and write compelling dialogue, R. Kelly made his own soap opera called Trapped in the Closet. This blogger is quite the fan of this series. The dialogue is clever if you are on crack and the acting is better than mediocre. Trapped in the Closet is clearly a high piece of cinematic art, one to go down for the ages.

If neither of these R. Kellys is ringing a bell for you, the only other R. Kelly that exists is the one that is obsessed with tiny girls. From his relationship with Aaliyah back in the Early 90s, we've all known that Kelly has had an obsession with jailbait. This fact left all of us with little surprise when R. Kelly was busted on child pornography charges. The most surprising part was the fact that Kelly loves the water sports. But, there is another surprising fact.

It is currently 2007. The charges against Robert were brought in June of 2002. The fact that nothing has happened to this man is a minor feat within itself. I'm frankly impressed that this hasn't happened. Considering how much everyone apparently cares about children, I figure that the government would have taken faster action against someone who has a VIDEO of them peeing on an underage girl. Not just having sex, which he did too. This fact is why he is the white whale to justice's Ahab. I can only hope that no one writes an overly long book about this whole incident.