Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where my Pocky's at?!?

I've accepted that, by simple virtue of geography (I live in Texas, after all. Houston, mind you, but still Texas), I'm bound to run into some seriously, SERIOUSLY intensely Christian people at least a couple of times a week. It's just gonna happen. And it did, yet again, when a gentlemen decided to recite what was essentially a summary of the Book of Revelations at me. I was raised Catholic, and Catholic in the time-honored, New England lackadaisical tradition. As a people, we're not too big on the fire and brimstone stuff. I'm a heathen these days, but even as a kid, Hell was always a pretty vague concept; Something that happened, you know, over there. To those weirdo Christians. The ones with the tents. That, and we had confession, so we were pretty much guaranteed to avoid Hell entirely, so long as we renounced our evil ways on our deathbeds (a tactic I still plan on employing, just in case.).

However, there are a lot of serious Evangelical folks around these parts (Jerry Falwell and such); so, in the interest of getting to know my neighbors, I decided to familiarize myself with the End of Days the best way I knew how: By reading the Wikipedia entry on the Left Behind series of books. Fitting, as I view anything Kirk Cameron is involved in to be the inspired Word of God. (Seriously. On Growing Pains, his best friend's name was Boner. Boner. This was the mid-80's, and here we had a family friendly sitcom on prime-time that got away with saying "Boner" an average of 19 times an episode. Now that's either God or the devil, and either way, you better respect that fuckin' autoritah.)

Now that I have what may be accurately described as an intense and thorough knowledge of the Book of Revelations, I posit this question, in all seriousness, to those Evangelical Christians among us:

"The fuck?"

Now, I'm a skeptic and an agnostic at best, but I'm willing to accept that I don't know or understand everything in the universe. I'm even willing to accept the possibility of some form of Creative force that has operated or is operating within it. I mean, all this stuff is here, so it's not completely gonzo to consider. But this John cat, and by extension those who view his brand of crazy as something that even begins to approach the house that plausible rents for two weeks out of every summer, are fuckin' SURE of it. And they're sure they're sure. And they're sure they know EXACTLY how this merry-go-round is gonna come to a screeching halt, and which one of us poor fuckers is gonna lose his damn ice cream cone in the process.

I mean....the fuck? They can tell you exactly how and where Jesus is going to be coming back, holding a flaming sword and riding a my little pony of light and wasting all the bad, unbelieving, probably brown people, and how they're going to have carte blanche in the sweet ass luxury box in the new heaven and new earth. They can tell you exacly which mound of dirt in France on which the J-Dizzle is going to set up his house for the ultimate episode of Cribs.

You know...they just can't tell you which particular millennia...but seriously...any year now. It's a' comin'. Get your shit packed.

It's all a little presumptious, really. To think that we are not only the chosen species on this planet, but in the entire fucking universe full of a spajillion other planets, some of which are bound to have life on them that look WAY cooler than us in Ray-Bans.

Me, I prefer a little mystery. The way I figure it, we're all gonna find out one way or another what happens. May as well be surprised. It's like riding a roller coaster that may or may not be on fire...only you're blindfolded. But the ride to the top of the biggest hill is like a hundred years long. And you get to have beer and cheesecake along the way. And maybe you're like me, and you marry a pretty girl who's funny and weird and puts up with your shit, and then you get to ride together (I scream like a little girl on roller coasters, so it's nice to have someone who actually is a girl to blame it on); maybe you have a couple of kids. Maybe you invent something that makes life for other people just a little weirder and more interesting. Maybe you write a play or a book that a few people enjoy. Maybe you come up with the idea for Lost and make me stick with the damn show for 5 fucking years because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE GODDAMN SMOKE MONSTER IS!

And you don't know if when you get to the top of the hill if you're going to hit a bunch of clouds, or like 47 big-titty virgins or a bowl of chocolate pudding or what. But fuck still got beer and cheesecake, so you came out ahead. Just put your arms up and go "WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!"

But hey...If we are headed for a full-on, biblical, capital A-pocalypse, it's not all bad. As Patton Oswalt, my brother from another mother says:

"Here's the good news: in the afterlife, like in Heaven you'll be in the fuckin' VIP section of eternity! Cause everyone up there is like 'Hey, how'd you die?' And they're like 'Bus accident,' and 'How'd you die?' And they're like 'Fire ants.' Then they go 'How'd you die, man?' 'How'd I die? In the fuckin' apocalypse! Oh my God, it was awesome! I'm in the velvet rope section of eternity! You should've fuckin' been there man, fuckin' volcanoes came out of the ground and spewed menstrural blood into the sky, and then it formed into Avril Lavigne's face, and she recited the 'Good Will Hunting' screenplay, then the words turned into sentient razors and they bored into your flesh, George Bush was president and mediocrity held sway!'"

Sprinkle some fries on those cupcakes, fuckers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You can pour Him over ice cream for a nice parfait...

I'd like to share with you a revelation I had while shopping at a hobby store with my wife recently: The world is fucking weird. And it's really, really funny.

Let me elaborate. In his 1999 album Mule Variations, the insanely talented Tom Waits included a track called "Chocolate Jesus." It's a sparse, gravelly, bluesy, funny little song about the titular candy product and it's one of my favorite songs of all time. When asked what brought about the inspiration for such a song, Tom related a story about a business venture his father-in-law had told him about, sort of a Christian version of the Lifesaver called, appropriately, Testamints. The idea was that they'd have these little breath mints that have a cross on one side and a bible verse on the other. You know, for those Sundays on the go...or maybe for when you're having both a spiritual crisis and a double order of garlic bread. Either way, you're saved and ready to hit the town in, like, literally 45 seconds. Good deal. According to Tom himself:

"So we just kind of took it a step further. You got your Testamints. What about your Chocolate Jesus? Melts in your mouth, not your hand. It is kind of direct. Drink this in remembrance of me. Someone might think it's blasphemous, but it's actually kind of a grassroots spirituality."

Tom Waits being the kind of weird, elusive smoke-being that he is, I always figured the whole thing was just another story to add a little extra madness and mystery to things. Tom does that sort of thing a lot, though there's usually at least a grain of truth to it all. Take for example the story he told about Sarah Bernhardt, famous French stage actress. As the story went, Sarah had her right leg amputated later in life and ended up performing Shakespeare in a little bar in the middle of nowhere. Strapped for cash, she supposedly sold her severed leg to famous circus entrepreneur and human/walrus hybrid P.T. Barnum, who then exhibited it in a number of traveling sideshows. The gag is that she was one of the most famous actresses in history, and at the end of her career, her leg was pulling in more money each night then she was.

Funny, yes. Twisted, yes. Weird as hell, oh yeah. True? Well, actually, kind of. Sarah Bernhardt injured her right knee pretty badly leaping from the stage at the end of a production in 1905. The leg didn't heal properly and over the years, infections took their toll and gangrene set in. She had the leg removed in 1915 and proceeded to have a pretty successful, albeit one-legged decade appearing in and even producing many more stage productions until her death in 1923. There were rumors a showman had offered to buy her leg, but she'd turned him down. Since P.T. Barnum died in 1891, and especially given his Houdini-like debunking of mediums and seances and speaking to the dead and the like, if he really had made the offer, it would have been even more super-awesome.

Undoubtedly, Tom heard the rumor someplace or another and decided to spin it into a twisted joke/weird ass anecdote to add to his oddball mythos during live performances. It worked, of course.

Given the evidence presented above, it should have come as no surprise to me when I saw, in the gumrack at the checkout counter of Hobby Lobby, the awesome sight of this:

God bless you crazy-ass Christians and your All-American enterprising spirit. I shit you not, dear readers, this is a really, really real thing. They have a whole range of products: Bible Verses Buttermints, Tangy Tarts Scripture Candy; even personalized Bible Verse Hershey Bars! That last one should come as a boon to all you passive aggressive homophobes out there. Too shy to attend a rally holding a "God Hates Queers!" picket sign while wearing a Budweiser beer hat? Just order up some fun-sized Hershey's Krackle with Leviticus 20:13 printed on them and hand them out to all the kids dressed up kind of faggy on Halloween! Here you go, Sparkly-Twilight-Vampire-Kid, here's a Mr. Goodbar for you...oh, and also little light reading material:

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

Burn in hell! :) Oh, lordy, but I do love dressing up for pretends!

Anyone interested in checking these wonderful little mouthfuls of insanity can visit the following link:

Testamints Products Page

If any of you order anything from them for a less-than-ironic purpose...please stay away from me. Especially in the grocery store. I swear, I can't go to Wal-Mart at 11:50 at night without being accosted by some preachy middle-aged lady in a cardigan with a bad hair cut, thrusting some pamphlet at me, telling me that Jesus can heal me, and that they'll pray for me. For those of you who don't know, I have cerebral palsy and as a result, I walk with a distinctive, limping gait. Look up spastic diplegia on Wikipedia. It's actually pretty informative. Also, if you've got some extra dough, donate a few bucks to United Cerebral Palsy, or maybe buy one of their neat little "Life Without Limits" wristbands. They're a little upbeat for my taste, but they do lots of good work for lots of different people. And they're a crapload more effective and caring than a pamphlet from Jesus at Wal-Mart.

Now that I think of it...I suppose getting accosted with candy is better than getting accosted with a pamphlet. Candy is candy, after all and Chocolate Jesus is bound to taste about the same as the Cadbury Bunny, when you get right down to it. Still, the 5 minutes it took me to fend off the Jesus lady and throw away her pamphlet right in front of her so that she cries a little means that it's now 11:57pm, the beer cooler is all the way at the back of the store, and they stop selling beer at discussed above, I don't walk so fast. So there's no way I'm making it all the way across a Super Wal-Mart in 3 minutes. Especially not loaded up with delicious, refreshing (hell, some nights downright sexually exciting) ice-cold Corona.

So much for "Drink this in memory of me." Thanks, Jesus.

Also, and somehow this is even more awesome, I saw a big chocolate cross in the Easter candy clearance bin the other day. Seriously, three, five years tops, they're GONNA add the little guy to it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Number one in the hood, G.

Remember a couple of years ago, when Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters came out? Wasn't that great? Didn't we all enjoy its zany hilariousness? I sure did. Anthropomorphic food products are inherently hilarious, and when you add about eight pounds of crystal meth, the hits just keep on hittin'. (Honestly, I love the show. It's surreal brilliance at its finest.

And remember, shortly before said film was released, when a bunch of Lite-Brites with pictures of cartoon characters flipping you off shut down a major American city for several hours? Yeah, that was great.

For those of you who don't know, Turner Broadcasting hired a bunch of advertising weirdos to do some guerrilla marketing in anticipation of the film. They created magnetic, light up LED boards with pictures of the Mooninites that other weirdo types were hired to place here and there in "hip areas" in and around Boston and a number of other cities.

They were up for several weeks. No doubt, a few people with off-beat senses of humor like myself, saw them, recognized them and had a chuckle. Most probably thought they were just some weird grafitti and thought nothing of it. One guy thought it was a bomb. AND THE WHOLE GODDAMN CITY FREAKED THE SHIT OUT. The police shut down traffic all over, called in the bomb squads and made it a whole theatrical production. And even after Turner Broadcasting called them and said "Hey, our bad. It was just this goofy idea we had. Totally our fault, but they're not dangerous at all," it took the city several hours to believe them.

I've only got a couple of minutes before work, so I'm going to keep this one short and sweet:

On behalf of the entire population of Massachusetts, I would like to definitively state that we are not all retarded. We know that cartoon characters aren't bombs. Thank you. Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Emporium!

I realize it's been awhile since I've updated this thing (or "Hulked Out," as I'd like to call it if a certain harshly-worded cease-and-desist letter from Marvel Comics Group didn't prevent me from saying that, and if a certain harshly-worded warrant for my arrest didn't prevent me from painting myself green and running around downtown wearing nothing but the tattered remains of my pants), but I've been stewing about something today that I feel bears ranting about by me, the 9 millionth person to mention it: Banks. (No, not Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That guy was delightful. The money kind of banks.) Specifically I'd like to say this: "Hey banks, suck a bag of dicks! (Thank you, Louis C.K). Also, congress can go ahead and suck a bag, too. And the Senate...big bag for those guys over there.

Let's delve a little deeper (not into the bag of dicks, eww). So, in addition to the current clusterfuck of joblessness, houselessness, and general unhappiness and stress-induced-diarrhea...ness of the American populace at large, it seems banks are failing left, right and center. So, today, the White House (the people inside it, not the house itself...but a talking house would be AWESOME) announced it's plan to try and stem the bleeding, to keep the banks going, and basically keep us all from reenacting that one scene from It's A Wonderful Life where it turns out that the money is actually in Joe's house and Fred's house and etc. (See? My titles are ALWAYS relevant. Today's was a line from said movie. And George Bailey ran a savings & loan. Suck it, bitches.) Basically, the gub'mint is going to pony up a bunch of dough to private investors, so they'll buy up all these so-called toxic assets the banks have, given that there's very little risk involved with the government-backed cash. Worst case scenario, the investors lose a little cabbage and the government absorbs the majority of the hit, and they're already so far in the hole, they're hitting egg rolls, so fuck it (digging to China, kids, keep up here). Best case, the plan actually works, and the government and investors split the profits . These "toxic assets" are mostly bad mortgages and real estate fuck-ups and etc. (The fact that these are still even considered "assets" shows you just how screwed we really are) that are really really hard to sell to anyone ever, let alone in a market as thin and desperate as the one the country's in. Allowing the investors such a low risk opportunity will hopefully generate enough cash flow to keep the banks going, and will kick start the "Horray! We're Not Starving to Death This Week!" Bonanza and box social. (God help me, I love a good box social). The problem is, in order to do that, the government's gonna have to spend a lot more on these bunk loans then they're actually worth, which even then may not be enough to get the investors' dicks hard enough to start buying, and we're all screwed just a little harder than when we started.

Mind, this is all in order to keep the banks intact as-is. Management structure, business model, etc. etc. just chuggin' along like the fuckin' broke-down Pinto that got us into this pit of despair in the first place.

The other, better option is temporary nationalization. The goverment takes control of the banks, absorbs their losses, restructures things, fixes up the books and, once everything's viable again, re-privatizes them. Basically, the government says "Ok, banks, you drove drunk and wrecked the car, so you're grounded. And we're taking the car, fixing it up, and driving it around ourselves for a couple of weeks to teach you a lesson. Oh yeah, and suck a bag of dicks." Sounds like a viable, even intelligent option. Mention the word "nationalization," however and damn near everyone loses their shit. The phrase "Commie Pinko fuck!" is thrown around a lot. "Socialism!" is a popular one too. The fear is twofold. One: The government will like having the banks and won't give them up, and pretty soon it's 1984. (The book, not the year. I'm pretty sure they can't make 1984 happen again. know...Rick Astley again. And Oingo Boingo. And Bananarama. Then, eventually, Quiet Riot. I can't handle that a second time.) Two: The government is no good at running banks and will fuck it up.


NO ONE involved in the economic recovery plan favors permanent nationalization. It's a temporary measure to help construct a permanent solution. They're even taking to calling it "pre-privatization" in an effort to soften it up enough for the GOP and all the scared little bunnies to swallow the pill without having it wrapped in cheese. Or, maybe that is the cheese...and it's dogs, not bunnies that like...fuck, bad metaphor. Bail!


If the last couple of years have proven anything, it's that BANKS DON'T KNOW HOW TO RUN BANKS! "Yeah, keep grinding that transmission, Junior. That's the way. No, the smoke is normal. Yup, the fire, too. What? It fell out? Well, let's put a shiny new tranny in that fucker and try again! Where's my Johnnie Walker?!?"

I get what the administration is trying to do. They're trying to gain as much support as they can by taking the least drastic measures they can see being effective. Nationalization is kind of Orwellian in scope, at least a little, and it understandably frightens people. Here's the thing: The problem got so big, so fast, that nothing but a drastic measure will provide effective enough relief. FACT: Even if no bail out or government assisted loans or anything else were done, the economy would evenually right itself. Most major economic theorists will tell you this, and the concept is supported by the principles of Game Theory (read A Beautiful Mind, you'll get the gist). Things will even out and reach some level of normalcy without any out of the ordinary intervention at all. Eventually. Say, five years time. Maybe ten.

But if the goal is to minimize the suffering of the American people, and the people around the world, then the aim is to right this fuckin' apple cart tout suite, Captain, not wait til the raccoons get at it, then get more apples from the apple trees that eventually grow from the seeds the raccoons poop out. (Now THAT'S a fuckin' metaphor!) We need results as soon as possible, and the only remotely assured way to do that is by the DRASTIC , SCARY ACTION of nationalization. FOR A LITTLE WHILE. The government logically has more resources at its disposal than private businesses, regardless of how large they may be, and can provide more immediate and guaranteed relief. It's going to happen anyway, why not just make it happen before there are two or three more failed attempts at making everyone happy? Socialism be damned, if our 401k's are gonna get better, this is how it's gonna go down. Marx my words. Oops. I mean mark....OR DID I?!?!?!?!?!

In the interest of full disclosure, I will make it known that I am, in spirit, a socialist. I'm also not a fucking moron, so I realize that Socialism very rarely exists without the sacrifice of too many individual freedoms, and as such, cannot stand. I firmly believe that, while not perfect, that the American Republic is a pretty damn good form of government at heart, and I believe enough in the resilience of the American people to say that eventually, we're going to be fine. But I also believe that we can't trust the businesses that have failed time and time again and expect them to succeed with the same way of doing things, and worse, the same fuckwits at the top who stuck it in and broke it off in the first place. Let's just bite the fucking bullet on this one, do what needs to be done to get things back on track, and then, let's all get piss drunk and sing Dropkick Murphys' songs until we vomit freedom., there were a lot of dick references in today's post.....Meh. Politics, I guess.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shoot straight, you bastards...

...or your History Lesson For Today!

Harry Morant was an Australian/English soldier and poet who fought for the Crown during the Boer Wars in South Africa in the latter part of the 19th century. For those of you who haven't ever clicked the "Random Article" button in Wikipedia, the "Boer Wars" was a fancy name for one of those routine cans of whoop-ass that Britain was known to quite regularly open up all over the previous settlers of a land they wanted to occupy whenever said peoples had the nuts to raise their hands (guns, clubs, pointy sticks, etc.) collectively and say "Erm...Not to be rude, but...we sort of live here." To which some impossibly mustachioed general (perhaps wearing a monacle, I haven't decided) would then reply "The sun shall never set on the Empire!" Then, a whole lot of better-armed but very polite and well spoken invaders would jump out and yell "Bloody well right!" and then...I don't know, crumpets or something. End result = South Africans kind of have a British accent. And so do Indians. And people from New England (I know, I was surprised, too. I lived there my whole life and just assumed the name was a freak coincedence. You know, like New Coke.)

Anyway, old Harry up there, along with a few buddies, killed a mess of Boer prisoners of war one day, acting on orders from his commanding officer (allegedly). Also, he killed some German guy who happened to witness it. Also, I think some kittens. So, the LDIC (Limey Dudes In Charge, stay with me here, people, I can't take time to explain all my acronyms) arrested Harry and his buddies and held a court martial; which for the British is a tea party where one guy doesn't get biscuits. Skip ahead, and Harry and his accomplices are sentenced to death by firing squad.

It turns out that his commanding officer probably did send a telegram telling his men to, in effect, just kill the living hell out of any Boer officers wearing khaki. Whether or not khaki was the uniform color of high ranking officers or this guy hated the Gap as much as I do (with all of my tiny, black soul) remains a mystery (or not, I may just have skipped that part). And also, the Boers in question may or may not have killed Morant's bestest friend in the whole world, mutilating him horribly (seriously.) Bummer. And, on the day of the execution, "as the afternoon wore on, all the prisoners could clearly hear the sound of coffins being built in the nearby workshop"...Double whammy.

Why bring up this seemingly minor event in British colonial history at all? Because fuck you, I find it interesting. And because Morant eventually became something of a folk hero. In Australia, much as in Ireland, if you get fucked by the British and someone writes it down, the folk hero thing is almost automatic. Then you get a movie made about you. Seriously, it's called Breaker Morant and it got nominated for an Oscar in 1980.

Of course, it turns out it's total bullshit. The transcripts of the court martial mysteriously disappeared from the House of Commons, and most of Morant's story was probably made up so some dude who was supposedly there could sell a bunch of books.

Again, why even bring it up when there are literally THOUSANDS of folk heroes across the world whose stories are probably just as much bullshit? (Hell, even Gandhi was, in reality, kind of a douche.)

Simple answer. Morant's last words as he faced a line of men armed with rifles pointed directly at his center mass:

"Shoot straight, you bastards. Don't make a mess of it."

How bad ass is that?! I'm pretty sure Gandhi's last words were something about really wanting a sandwich. (Actually, Gandhi had probably the most genuine last word ever. According to a witness, after he was shot, Gandhi made a noise like "Uh...." and then collapsed against a wall. You try to say anything sage like after you get shot. See if you can top "Uh...")

The End.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Capo di tutti capi...

I was watching the trailer for The Godfather II game today, and a few things occurred to me. One of these things was that I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this game. The gameplay seems like a refined and tweaked version of the first one, which was almost pitch perfect in the first place. The Godfather was, and is, one of my favorite games on the XBox 360. It's like you're playing the movie which, as all men will tell you, is really all we want in life: to be able to say, in all seriousness, "Never ask me about my business," and then have one of your lackeys close the door all slow and sinister like. AND THAT'S THE END OF THE ARGUMENT! AND YOU WIN! AND IF THEY QUESTION YOU, LUCA BRASI SLEEPS WITH THE FISHES, SEE! (or something like that) Plus, it would rock to look as impressive as Al Pacino in a suit. Well, Al Pacino in a suit in 1972. I love Pacino, but lately, he looks like a pile of old laundry being humped by one of those wrinkly dogs. Hoo-ah!

Another thing that occured to me, through a little roundabout thinking, is that I miss James Gandolfini. I don't lie away thinking about it or anything, but it's sad. Tony Soprano, and by extension, James Gandolfini, is one of the most fascinating characters in modern storytelling. He alternates between Joe Pesci from Goodfellas, Robert DeNiro in The Untouchables and George from Seinfeld many times through the course of an episode, and sometimes through the course of a sentence. And the character wouldn't have been as effective in the hands of another man. (Wow, that last sentence sounded unintentionally molesty. Eh...I stand by it.) And then The Sopranos was over (and the ending was fucking awesome, and if you disagree then you're wrong and should feel terrible), and he went away for awhile. I haven't had nearly enough James Gandolfini in my life lately; Luckily, as IMDB would have it, he's starring in no less than 6 films in the next year and some, and in one of those films he's playing Ernest Fucking Hemingway. (another of those films is called Sexual Healing, but less gloss over that one. He's a hairy, hairy man and the idea of him in a movie called Sexual Healing makes my stomach feel all...sad.)

That's right, Papa Hemingway, the man responsible for the creation of some of the roughest, meanest, bull-fightingest, men in the history of literature; the man who routinely drank enough liquor befire breakfast to take down a bull elephant, and the man who could have ruled France like the bad ass warrior king they so desperately, desperately need if he didn't think they were too goddamned wussy is going to be immortalized on film by TONY MOTHERFUCKING SOPRANO. That is the manliest thing that has ever happened. EVER. You know that old guy who sells juicers on late night infomercials that once pulled a bus with his teeth from Oakland to Seattle? Yup, manlier than him. The guy on the Discovery Channel with all the tattoos who routinely rams spikes through his face with a hammer? Manlier than him, too. We're talking some superhuman mash-up of Conan the Barbarian, Batman, Keyser Soze and The Rock that's currently wearing John Rambo's headband kind of manly. This Hemingway could slam your head repeatedly in a car door while simultaneously banging the hot neighbor lady AND writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. All this while wearing one of those beer helmets. Full of gin. On fire.

The film isn't slated til 2011, but I guarantee you it'll be haunting dreams everywhere this Friday. Watch it...or you're totally gay.

Another, shorter, less ranty thing that occurred to me during all this was that mobsters seem to have cornered the market on bad ass nicknames. Whitey, Lucky, Sammy the Bull, Lefty Guns, Paulie Walnuts, Big Pussy, etc. You don't generally run into a green grocer named Knuckles. Or a tax attorney named Pretty Boy. Let's take this one back for the working man. By the end of the week, I want to have met, at the very least, a mail clerk named The Louisville Slugger and two guys at the Safeway named Machete and The Thumb, respectively. There's your brilliant idea for today. Make it happen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Roads? Where we're going we don't need....roads.

I realize I haven't updated this thing in a while. With our new president firmly in the buttery leather seat of the Oval Office, I guess I've just been too damn upbeat to rant lately. Either that, or I've been sick and whiny. Whichever one makes me sound more butch.

Anyway, this one is going to be a two-topic post, both of which relate to the title, as always. Topic number one: History is the best damn soap opera you'll ever come across.

I've always been fascinated by where we've been as a species. Seriously, how did we get from monkeys: hyper-active, angry, furry, hilarious critters flinging crap at each other from tree to tree, to 21st century humans: lethargic, angry, slightly less furry, hilarious (in that sad sort of way) critters flinging crap at each other in...I don't know...boardrooms and...well, internet blogs? Though that last sentence may seem a little on the glass-is-half-empty side of things, I am honestly pro-humanity. In a localized sense, individual humans are crazy, weird, awesome, despicable, beautiful, hideous, wacky fuckers that can simultaneously uplift and destroy my faith in the universe. We are ALWAYS entertaining.

Lately, I've been kind of poking around in the seedier parts of American history. If history in general is, say, Montel Williams, American history is TOTALLY Jerry Springer. Europeans have their share of dirty secrets and then some, so let's not give them a complete pass, but they've had thousands of years ; to continue my talk show analogy, Europe is the "Who's My Baby's Daddy?" episode of Maury Povich (a lot of screwed up stuff happening in the span of a half hour) while America is the "My Uncle is My Baby's Daddy!" episode of Springer (a lot of REALLY screwed up stuff happening, say, during the opening credits).

There are a lot of great books on the more colorful bits of American history, but I'll recommend three that I've been reading recently just for flavor:

Lies My Teacher Told Me examines the many and varied inconsistencies, simplifications and downright falsehoods perpetrated by American history textbooks from Columbus on down. It's fascinating, funny, and enlightening; and its no-holds-barred portrayal of the history of America is as bloody and porn-filled as anything on Cinemax at 2 A.M.

Lies Across America; similar to the above tome, and by the same author, this one looks at our beloved historical landmarks and how we cartoonize the history of our American heroes to fit on the little plaques attached to museum exhibits. Here's a bit of trivia: Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, the famous log-cabin, was built after he'd been dead a good while. Lies are fun!

Our Bastard Tongue, a history of the English language that focuses on its uniqueness. English, though a Germanic language, has more in common grammatically with the Celtic languages of Gaelic and Welsh. The author examines this peculiarity and in turn paints a picture of the early English-speaking world that is both intelectually fulfilling, and somehow kind of sexy.

Anyway, just a little something for when you're bored on a rainy day. You'll learn more than you did in high school History class, and pick up some awesome nuggets of filth to amaze your friends at parties. Knowing where we've been gives one a new fascination for where the hell it is we're going.

Like an episode of Springer, we're at times funny, sad, disturbing and/or incomprehensible, and we can sure as hell take a chair to the head and keep on swinging. Hell, we're so drunk, we didn't even feel it! Jerry, Jerry Jerry! I mean, U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Topic number two: Michael J. Fox is my hero. That's it. That dude is a fucking hoss, and I wouldn't be surprised if he PERSONALLY cured Parkinson's and then kicked it in the balls, Alex P. Keaton style. You rock, McFly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We are all precancerous...

I watch a lot of night time TV. When you live in the suburbs, they roll up the sidewalks at 9:30 every night, so there's really little else to do on a day-by-day basis. Organizing those box socials you're all so damn fond of takes a lot of work and being a lazy kind of guy by nature, I can really only be expected to pull them off on a semi-annual basis. The bills for the ice sculptures alone are GHASTLY. That being the case, most nights after work the missus (she doesn't blog on as regular a basis as I do, but if you listen really closely, you can hear her ranting in "out loud" words most of the time. It doesn't give one the opportunity to savor every letter like my awesome "written down" words do, but it's way more violent. And I'm always pro-violence. ALWAYS. Anyway, go back up and read the beginning of the sentence again, because by now you've forgotten it.) and I usually mellow out with a movie or, failing anything interesting, the three to four hours of Friends they run every night on the CW. (Ed Note: I hate Friends. Once the monkey left, it was all downhill. You should feel bad for liking it.)

All exposition aside, I've been noticing a commercial lately for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I don't know if these commercials are a nationwide thing, but a quick perusal of their website shows facilities all over America, so chances are they run on your TV, too. The next time one comes on, pay close attention to it. If you're like me (read: filled with white-hot hatred the texture and flavor of delicious marshmallow Fluff on, like, a 24/7 basis), you'll vomit with rage.

"But K-Dawg," you might say (if you were one of the many people who refers to me as such in both conversation and thought), "Surely you're not going to shank a new one into the soft belly of a cancer hospital! They treat sick and dying people, and give families with no hope some glimmer of brightness in an otherwise bleak and unforgiving universe..."

Oh hell yes I am, Chester. Oh hell yes I am.

Let me clarify that: I have nothing but respect for the doctors, nurses, physician's assistans, hospice care workers, orderlies, accountants, janitors, gift shop employees and whoever else makes up the staff of a hospital or otherwise gives care to those of us who are in our most needy hour. People who work everyday fighting disease, treating injuries, and generally tapping Death on the shoulder and saying "Hey, look over there, what the hell is that?!" so that we might have an improved quality of life; so that a child will spend another Christmas with his grandma, so that Uncle Walt can walk on his own these days, and so any of us get to spend just a little while longer in this crazy-ass funhouse called life, are fucking heroes. Hands down.

And I don't have anything against the buildings themselves. Some of the architecture is very nice, quite modern and tasteful.

That being said: Fuck that commercial and whatever self-indulgent fuck decided that that's how they wanted all the people (and buildings) above represented to the people they're trying to reach.

Basically, said commercial is just a long string of testimonials from various patients (or actors, I really don't know): "When I was diagnosed with cancer of the (body part), I thought 'Damn, Gina. I'm wicked screwed.' I went to the hospital and the doctors told me 'You're totally gonna die in, like, a week. Seriously, you should probably start giving your shit away now. Here's some morphine. Drink it all, it'll be easier that way. Peace out, dead guy.' And then they threw some gang signs at me. But then I went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and in less than a week, not only did they cure the fuck out of my cancer, but now I can fly and have heat vision!"

Ok, so that's a little hyperbole for you. But once the actualy commercial spun around in my brain for awhile and I'd seen it a few more times, that's the impression I got: "Your doctors don't give a shit, they're dumber than hell and they don't care if you die. We've got some magic potion that not one single other doctor in modern medicine has ever heard of. Call us, and we'll cure you. That's right: WE CAN CURE CANCER!" Seriously, watch this commercial and tell me different.

Now, I can only imagine a doctor in an oncology ward having to watch this. Or being someone fighting cancer having to watch this. These people deal with the gravity of these diseases every day. Every little positive step is a miracle, and every setback is crushing. And then you hear about these guys at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and your hopes get lifted, and you spend a shitload of money to get there and you find out that they're just plugging along hoping to get lucky and find an effective treatment for each of their patients the same as every other oncologist in the world. That's what really bothered me about this thing: the smugness. The sense that "All other oncologists are dumber than us. Fuck those guys."

I'm sure that the doctors and everyone else at Cancer Treatment Centers are working their asses off to help their patients. Or researching the hell out of any thread that might pan out to something useful. Or holding their patient's hand while giving them bad news, or good news, or telling them jokes, or whatever. They're probably awesome doctors. My only point is there are a lot of awesome doctors in the world, doing the same thing at hospitals all over the place. They're all trying like hell to make their patients' lives better. It's their job. And they know that THEY CANT CURE CANCER. And they don't claim to. But they keep trying. Watch a St. Jude's commercial to see how it ought to be done. They tell you, "Listen, cancer sucks. It sucks hard. And we can't cure it. But we're trying, and we're getting there. And little Jimmy here is probably gonna live long enough to get laid after the prom because of it." AND they'll get Robin Williams to say it.

Patch Adams out, fuckers.