Monday, March 30, 2009

The Rick Wagoner Video of the Day




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Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Favorite Lefty Films


Last night, I came across Distributorcap NY's Must See Movies list, which was inspired by Yahoo's 100 Movies to See Before You Die. It all got me to thinking what were my favorite left-wing movies of all-time?

What do I mean by "left-wing" as opposed to, say, "liberal" movies? If you're liberal or leftist, you will naturally disagree with this (contention's in the DNA), but I look at it as sometimes simply being a matter of perspective: liberals believe in the system more than a leftist ever would. So (and I have to thank Union Paul for this comparison), a liberal anti-corporation movie would be Erin Brockovich, where our heroine sees a wrong and through heroic, individual action she takes down the evil corporation because, in America, one can bring down the evil corporation and, in America, the justice system is always on the side of right. Oh yeah, and we can all get rich!!! in the process. A leftist, anti-corporation flick would be something like Silkwood where they kill the bitch off for startin' some shit.

The other way a film can be more liberal than leftist is when they get all Jack Nicholson "You can't handle the truth!" and tone down what needs to/actually was/should be said in order to (one assumes) better appeal to their audience. So, the teacher they based Dangerous Minds on used hip-hop to teach her inner-city students English while in the movie they used Dylan, though it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The movie can also just made a bald-faced appeal to one's middle-class, bleeding-heart sensibilities, in order to gain your sympathies as opposed to just telling a story. Boyz N The Hood is a perfect example of a "liberal" ghetto tale. Ice Cube's no cold-blooded killer. He actually cries while blowing some dude's head off. Morris Chestnutt's character is murdered just before he scores high enough to get an athletic scholarship and escape the 'hood. And, if that ain't enough pathos fo' yo' ass, Ice Cube makes an open appeal with "Either they don't know, it don't show, or they don't care what's goin' on in the 'hood."

Menace II Society lies somewhere in between (if you excuse those horrible Charles Dutton speeches) because folks are just brutal. Our "hero" is no hero whatsoever. And, while he dies just before he gets out, you wonder if his moving to Atlanta would've really made him turn his life around. If he'd been moving to Des Moines, that would've been one thing. But the ATL's just as dirty as LA. Despite Jada's wishes, he still could've been pulling those "driiiiiiiiive-bys." She was just so ghetto in that movie. Ha!

However, I consider The Wire to be totally leftist. They never tried to appeal to your bleeding-heart sympathies. They'd have killed the puppy if it had made a better story. You're not tricked into feeling sympathy for their characters. It's the three-dimensional writing in the series that you connect with all the folks in it. And through that brilliant writing, they subvert your assumptions. There's something human in the drug dealers and dope fiends we've been trained to view as animal, as well as something animal in the police and politicians we're trained to view as our heroes. So, you're all pissed off that Bodie caps Wallace in Season One but somehow feel proud of Bodie for having gone out like a soldier in Season Four. It's that beautiful subversion that makes The Wire a leftist masterpiece.

I hope that long-winded, half-assed explanation helps you in reviewing my list. As with all lists, it's not as comprehensive as I'd wished and, of course, I would've liked to add more. But hell, coming up with and explaining 15 was hard enough. Feel free to add your suggestions. I hope you enjoy.






1. Network (1976)

Much better and more eloquent people have waxed on about how brilliant this movie is. Paddy Chayefsky, Sidney Lumet, William Holden, (Oscar-winning) Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway (in her prime), Robert Duval (ditto), Ned Beatty. How couldn't it have been great? It's been inducted into the Producers Guild of America's Hall of Fame; the Writers Guild of America--East named the script one of the Top 10 of all-time; AFI named it the 64th greatest film of all-time (which is way too low in my opinion).

Frankly, Network is my favorite movie of all-time. As an aspiring satirist, this is the level of satire I aspire to. OK, that whole Holden speech to Dunaway about how she is TV is a bit lame, but the rest of it is absolutely perfect. The black revolutionaries ultimately arguing about market share. Ned Beatty delivering the word of God--money--to Finch. And the courage it took to have that ending!

Hollywood simply can't make a good satire these days because it doesn't have the courage to trust its audience and take the damned thing to its logical conclusion. Bamboozled came close, but then Spike felt the need to explain the entire movie at the end. Thank You for Smoking decided to bash us over the head with a "moral to this story is..." when the moral is the satire itself. And A Day without a Mexican, which had the potential to say so much, turned into some bullshit, liberal, PC claptrap about why can't we all just get along? I almost cried at the wasted opportunity.

But Network has balls coming out its ass (a serious medical condition where one should immediately consult a physician), and I love every minute of the movie for it.




2. Do the Right Thing (1989)

I think the thing that still amazes me about this movie is that the tension in the movie is still palpable. I don't think there's a better movie that captures anger and rage more than this movie. The one thing Spike's always been good at is casting, and this movie's just loaded: John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Bill Nunn, Giancarlo Esposito, Robin Harris, Martin Lawrence, Rosie Perez's breastseses, the list goes on and on. The one thing Spike's always sucked at is just shutting the hell up every once in awhile, but the didacticism (is that a word?) in this movie doesn't seem so bad because everybody's all pissed off. The constant use of PE's "Fight the Power" was brilliant. Tuturro and Esposito are perfect racist counterweights to each other, and it's probably Lee's only "race" film where the white guy (Aiello) is multidimensional and the most sympathetic character. For the record, this is my second favorite film of all-time.




3. Matewan (1987)

Well, I was born a coal miner's grandson and another one's nephew. I'm heavily pro-union. Hell, my mom's from a small mining town outside of Pittsburgh that had no stop lights and one, huge slag heap. In other words, I was bred to love this pro-union, coal mining movie set in West Virginia. And this is one of many reasons why John Sayles is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) directors. I love Chris Cooper and James Earl Jones in this movie. And David Strathairn as the sheriff caught in between the striking miners and the Pinkerton boys is absolutely brilliant. I could watch this movie all day.




4. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

OK, this is more of a childhood favorite than anything else. I mean, I used to love The Planet of the Apes. I watched all the movies, the TV series, the cartoon. I had the action figures. I still love the franchise as an adult (though that Mark Wahlberg movie sucked; and what was that with Charlton Heston ape being all anti-gun?). Conquest is my favorite movie of the bunch. I guess there was a fledgling black nationalist in my little boy frame. That's the only thing that could explain why I love this one best. After all, all the Apes movies are political. But this is the one where the ... uh ... apes take over.




5. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

OK, I think (if I remember correctly) this movie's been praised throughout the ages for its gritty realism. It's definitely that. I think what struck me just now is just how relevant the damned thing still is. Minus today's Muslim fundamentalism (Algeria's was a post-colonial nationalist movement), the questions about a Western occupying power in a Muslim country and the uses of torture and terrorism are still plaguing our country today. Even without all that, Battle is still a brilliant movie.




6. The Conformist (1970)

This movie sparked my brief love affair with Bernardo Bertolucci, but it only lasted as long as this movie and 1900, which is a long-ass movie in and of itself. The movie's set in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, where this spineless guy is sent to assassinate a former professor who's fled to France. You can watch it as a searing indictment of Fascism and its participants. Or you can choose to look upon it as some kind of highfalutin' existentialist tract. Either way, it's a great movie.




7. Putney Swope (1969)

Growing up, my Dad would always tell me how Putney Swope was the funniest movie he's ever seen. As a teenager, I didn't get it. But I don't think teens are physiologically able to understand satires. As an adult, Putney is definitely one of my favorite comedies ever. Like father, like son, eh? Much like Conquest, it's a speculative piece on what would happen if the ... uh ... apes took over. The CEO of a powerful Madison Ave. ad agency dies, and everyone on the board votes for Swope to take over because they all assume nobody would vote for the token black guy. Of course, all hell breaks loose and hilarity ensues. I don't know what else Robert Downey, Sr., has ever done (aside from seriously screw up his kid), but this is a definite classic.

"The Boorman 6 Girl's got to have soul!"




8. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Well, if you haven't figured it out, I love satire, and what better anti-nuke satire is there? This movie and Peter Sellers are hilarious through and through. 'Nuff said.





9. Burn (1969)

When people talk about great Brando performances, I don't think I've ever heard anyone ever mention this flick, but I think he's absolutely brilliant. Burn is about a British agent (Sir William Walker, oddly enough) who tries to stir up a little slave rebellion on the Caribbean isle of "Queimada." Modeled very loosely on the Haitian revolution, I love how this movie has the rebellion and Walker's stooge turn the tables on the provocateur. It's as though Faustus finally got the upper hand on Mephistopholes. You can skip that Emperor Jones bullshit (though I love Paul Robeson) and just watch this bad boy.




10. City of God (2002)

I think I've admitted this before, but I was absolutely fanatical about this movie when it came out. It's one of the few movies I rushed back to the theater to see again right after I'd seen it the first time. I think what I loved so much about it was its utterly brutality and seeming honesty. It was like, "Yeah, this is fucked up." But they didn't try to tug at your heartstrings or appeal to your empathy. They just showed it as close to how it T-I-is that a work of fiction can get.

(PS. I'm so nutso about this movie, while in Mexico, I watched it in Portuguese with Spanish subtitles; yeah, you guessed it, I don't speak Spanish.)




11. Paths of Glory (1957)

Yep, another Kubrick film, and probably my favorite anti-war film that I can think of. Based on a true story, Kirk Douglas plays a French commander who's forced to make an example out of some soldiers who refused to advance after the rest of their company was mowed down by the enemy. It's a brilliant study of the futility of war and the class politics that are played out in any conflict. Kirk Douglas is, well, Kirk Douglas, but Adolphe Menjou is perfect as the romantic, DeGaulle-esque, self-aggrandizing, blood-seeking general.
General Mireau: I can't understand these armchair officers, fellas trying to fight a war from behind a desk, waving papers at the enemy, worrying about whether a mouse is gonna run up their pants leg.

Colonel Dax: I don't know, General. If I had the choice between mice and Mausers, I think I'd take the mice every time.




12. Salt of the Earth (1954)

This is one of those movies that you're pretty sure wouldn't be made today. Salt of the Earth is based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, where Mexican-American miners hit the picket line for equal pay with their white counterparts. This movie deals with racism, union issues, discrimination, and is one of the strongest feminist treatments (the miners' wives are the bomb) you can see in American cinema.




13. Serpico (1973)

All those great '70s actors (DeNiro, Nicholson, Pacino, Hackman) are now simply caricatures of their old selves and usually annoy the hell out of me whenever they're on the screen (except for Duval). But when I really want to remember how great Pacino was, I just throw in Serpico. Talk about your ultimate police corruption story. This movie also runs counter to most Hollywood stories. The hero generally sticks his neck out and saves the day. In Serpico (I guess because it's based on a true story), the hero sticks his neck out, gets shot in the face, and, while some things do change, he doesn't really do much good. Pretty much defeated and destroyed, he runs away to Europe probably wondering, "What the fuck was that all about?"




14. State of Siege (1972)

I think Costa-Gavras gets a lot more credit for making Z., and he should really get slapped for having made that bullshit, Betrayed; but I really love this one. Yves Montand plays an American USAID official in Uruguay who gets kidnapped by the leftist Tupamaros. They use his interrogation as a backdrop to portray the conflict between the leftist guerrillas and Uruguay's military regime.

Faux Netflix Feature: Those who liked Four Days in September also liked State of Siege.




15. Stalingrad (1993)

The Battle of Stalingrad is considered the bloodiest battle of modern history, with nearly 2 million casualties on both sides. What I love most about this movie is how they portray the romantic, youthful exuberance of going off to war that I think mostly every country enters a war feeling slowly and painfully turning into a mad, dog-eat-dog, desperate scramble for self-preservation. It's not a movie many politicians would take to heart (because none of them is immune to "war fever"), but it's one that more of us 'Mericans should.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Been Feeling Under the Weather Lately

I'm hoping these two one-hits from the '90s will help me feel better.





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Monday, March 23, 2009

Eat A Armey Award: Sarah Palin and the Pips

In honor of everyone's favorite Dick, former Congressman from Texas, House Majority Leader, and "Republican Revolutionary," Dick Armey, I announce my third, weekly Eat A Armey Award, for the public luminary who's being an especial jackhole the previous week.


This one's a group gobbler.





Sarah Palin and the Pips




Singing the same old, tired doo wop of "the dangers of deficit spending," Sarah Palin and the Pips (Haley Barbour, Rick Perry, Mark Sanford, and castrato Bobby Jindal) are flooding the airwaves with their retread miss, "Fiscal Conservativism." The tune has changed and has been remixed several times over the past few years, but, no matter how hard they try, this song seems to be perpetually off-key and is currently falling on deaf ears.

For those of you who haven't heard, Palin and these other Republican governors have decided to reject parts of the federal stimulus package going to their states. A few were originally contemplating rejecting all their state's funds but realized that would be political suicide. And, since this is all really about positioning themselves for the GOP presidential nomination in '12, nobody's been willing to fall on tier swords on "principle" just yet.

Even with this supposed compromise, Palin, Perry, Sanford, Jindal, and Barbour are going hoarse, screeching about their "conservative principles," "Trojan horses," and the Peloponessian War, for that matter. Barbour says he'll reject $56 million; Jindal, $98 million; Palin, $288 million; Perry, $566 million; and, after the White House rejected his ploy to use the money to pay off state debts, Mark Sanford claims he'll reject a whopping $700 million.

But what is the moral this GOP Greek chorus trying to sing? What exactly are these "principles" they're droning on and on about? Why are they only rejecting part of the stimulus package and not the whole thing? What part of it has their togas in a wad?

Why, unemployment benefits, of course.

Oompah!

They claim that the federal government's trying to stealthily change their states' unemployment compensation laws by extending the benefit to those seeking part-time as opposed to full-time employment. Their principles (I'm guessing those old shibboleths, "state's rights" and "welfare cheats") tell them that they don't want to reward people who are "unwilling" to seek full-time employment. Those same principles ignore the fact that most service employers refuse to off full-time employment. But what does principle have to do with reality?

Of course, in the face of the economic crisis we're currently facing (much of it brought on by their principled Republican cohorts), this all begs the question: Who gives a fuck? Hundreds of thousands of people are being laid off monthly; Sanford's own South Carolina has the second highest unemployment rate in the country; and your "principles" are suddenly telling you to screw the ones who are most fucked by this economy. Yeah, I understand principles--not yours--but the principle of having principles. But principles are supposed to guide governance--not dictate it. As Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, says:

"How do you sit across the table from a part-time worker working three part-time jobs, doing his best to keep his family afloat, didn't get health care, didn't get anything for it, all three of his jobs collapsing? What does that make you? Does that make you a good Christian?"


No, Ed, this whole song-and-dance doesn't make Palin and the Pips good Christians. It makes them good Republicans. Because none of these pols care about the suffering in 2009. They're looking at their prospects in 2012. And when that time comes, they won't point to the people they helped starve. They'll talk about how they stood up to "big, bad Washington"; how they wouldn't give in to "welfare cheats"; and that you'd have to pry "fiscal responsibility" from their cold, dead hands.

But it's all a charade, a complex lip-synch routine replete with Solid Gold dancers, a "live studio" audience, canned applause, and a Top Ten chart that has nothing to do with reality ("Kill that metaphor, Bill! Kill it!"). Because while they rail against Washington and welfare, four of these governors are some of the biggest "welfare queens" this country's got.

Each one of their states (except for Rick Perry's Texas) receives more in federal money than they pay in federal taxes. South Carolina gets $1.35 for every dollar sent to Washington; Louisiana ranks fourth, receiving $1.78 for every Washington; Alaska's three ($1.84/$1); and Mississippi is number two, receiving a whopping $2.02 for every dollar sent in federal taxes.

So yes, my Four Tops, this is the same, old song. We've heard Republicans talk about fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, we've heard them rail against deficit spending and pork and welfare for millennia now. But when the rubber hits the road, they are even more irresponsible than those dastardly "tax-and-spend" liberals. After all, Reagan, Bush, and Bush Babee are the ones who've given us record-breaking deficits. Even Deregulus Prime, Phil Gramm, that anti-whining "foot soldier of the Reagan Revolution" once confessed to being in Washington talking about slashing the pork while going home bragging about how he brought home the bacon.

And Palin and her Pips are some of the biggest swine swindlers there are out there. But reality and rhetoric never do have to meet in politics. They'll yodel all day long about their kosher politics while they gulp down their Lipitor with their Beltway bacon. They'll tell us how they stood up to Obama while they bent over backwards to get earmarks into his budgets. The one thing that will be consistent, though, is they'll continue to paint hard-working folks "welfare cheats" and deny them out of much-needed money.

So, while these people, who are "unwilling" to seek full-time employment while working two or three part-time jobs, become homeless, I hope Jindal will find it in his heart to open up the Super Dome to house them--if only temporarily. Then he and his fellow Pips could hold a benefit, hum a little phallic philharmonic, and asphyxiate on all the Armeys of the people they're screwing.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Super Exitos Para "Change"



As recently reported in Washington Post, the US Border Patrol has a hit on its hands. Over the past two years, the department has been releasing a five-song CD all across Mexico, featuring upbeat tejano tunes, warning of the dangers of illegally emigrating to the United States. These anonymous "bouncy ballads of death, dashed dreams, and futile attempts at manhood" are a smash--though the audience has no clue who's behind the recordings.

After some hours
Abelardo opened his eyes
And in the middle of the cold night
Discovered his dead cousin at his side

--"The Biggest Enemy"

Before you cross the border, remember
that you can be just as much a man
by chickening out and staying
Because it's better to keep your life than ending up dead

--"20 Years"

In fact, these songs have become so popular, the Border Patrol is planning a follow-up CD later this year as well as cumbia, marimba, and merengue discs for countries south of Mexico's border.

Taking notice of the Border Patrol's apparent musical success, other departments in the Obama administration has decided to use the new propaganda tool.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recruited Lebanese sexpot, Nawal al Zoghbi, to record "Please Don't Kill the Infidels" for release all across the Arab market.




Incoming Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson Judd Gregg Gary Locke has already recruited Taiwanese R&B sensation, Jay Chou, to release "Buy American!" in Taiwan and China.




And with no governmental prompting whatsoever, country music star, Toby Keith, has recorded "GOP STFU," to be released this Tuesday.



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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Poohbutt Song of the Week

What can I say? She loves that damned sax solo.


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All Right, So I Finally Saw Slumdog Millionaire



As I've written before, I was going to wait years before watching Slumdog Millionaire for fear that all that hype would taint my viewing pleasure (as they like to say). But last night, we were presented with an exceedingly rare date night, and there was no way in hell I was going to convince the wife to see The Wrestler. So, I saw it. I hate to say it, but my previous verdict was somewhat right and somewhat wrong.

I tried my damnedest to clear all the hype from my gullet before watching, but I can't say I totally succeeded. Even still, I liked Slumdog enough. I guess if Danny Boyle hadn't totally ripped off City of God's opening scene for Slumdog's or hadn't ripped off the former's cinematography, I would've liked the latter better. I mean, I turned to my wife, and asked, "Where's the chicken?" SM was visually stunning, but CoG was first. I also think, if my wife weren't in the international development field and I haven't been inundated with stories of poverty and absolute barbarity, I probably would've been more effected by the film.

As it was, I thought the storytelling was quite inventive. The childhood part of the story had me riveted. Just when I was starting to get bored, they wrapped it up. And who the hell doesn't like a feel-good movie every once in awhile? So yeah, I liked it. I don't necessarily see what all the hubbub was about, though. City of God was only seven years ago.

I'll tell ya what's not overrated, though. Date night with the wife. We should definitely have more of those. Anybody up for babysitting Poohbutt? She's a hoot-and-a-half!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

"The Wonderful Adventures of Dick & Hussein"

The prospective title of George W. Bush's proposed memoir. You know, for the kids!


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Happy Anniversary, War!

Hey babe,

I know I originally didn't want us to get together. I did everything I could think of to stop our union--I cried, I screamed, I petitioned 'til my hand damned near fell off, I even protested to Congress and the President. It didn't matter what I wanted, what you wanted, for that matter. Some really powerful folks wanted us together. They even rubbed our faces in it with their damned "Mission Accomplished" sign.

And now here we are six years later. Six, brutal, bloody, terror-ific years later. There have been some good times. But, to be honest, dear, it's been absolute hell. Nothing's really changed. I still want out. But nothing's really changed. No matter how much I cry and scream and petition and protest some really powerful folks still want us together. I thought I did, but I still don't have a vote in all this. So, happy anniversary, Iraq. As Toni Tennille sang (without the Captain, oddly enough), it looks like our love is here to stay.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Straight Out a Comic Book



You know, I've been calling our lovely, new Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, a few names recently--"Eraserhead," "The Gelding"--but, after hearing his suggestions he gave to Congress on how to punish AIG over that $160 million in bonuses, I think there's really only one word for the man ...




The Joker!!!


This is what the dastardly department head suggested:

"We will impose on AIG a contractual commitment to pay the Treasury from the operations of the company the amount of retention rewards just paid. In addition, we will deduct from the $30 billion in assistance an amount equal to the amount of those payments."

Seriously, dude?

Seriously?

These fools crash global capitalism ... oh, skip it, I just ranted about this crap on Sunday. Besides, you know what they did. And you're going to punish them, pilfering all that "bonus" money from your treasury by ... what? ... not punishing them at all?

Why? I haven't heard anything that ridiculous since Cesar Romero donned the pancake makeup.



I mean, shit, who let you out of Arkham Asylum so you could come up with that crap?

"Wait, Bill! Why don't we ... I know ... I can get one of those hand buzzer doodads and make them shake my hand. Ooh! Then we can watch them jump out of their pants when the thing vibrates and twists!

"No, well, why don't I make 'em all sit on one, big, ginormous whooppee cushion? Boy, won't all their faces be red when we all think they've farted?!

"No ... well ... OK ... now this one is classic. This will reaaalllly show those great, dear friends of mi--I mean, those assholes. Yeah, yeah, those assholes. This'll show those assholes."


"What, Tim?"

"I'm going to start wearing a flower in my lapel, see? They'll say, 'Ohhhh, what a lovely flower you have, Tim.' And I'll say, 'Why, thank you, sir. Wanna sniff.' And, just as I'm about to receive my graft, they'll bend down to sniff, and I'll spraaayyyy them with water. Heeheehee! Heeheehee! HEEEHEEEEHEEEHEEEHEEE!!!!"



No, seriously, riddle me this, O Man ...



Why does this clown still have a job?

Some people claimed, during the election, that you may have super powers. If so, Geithner's quickly turning into your kryptonite. I can't believe you so quickly abandoned your "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" spiel for this fuck-up. That you threw aside Tom Daschle and a serious chance at reforming health care so you can have this guy in Treasury. What were you thinking? Were your super powers temporarily disabled? Your powers of reasoning? Couldn't your X-ray vision see through all the bullshit he must've dumped on you?

A blind man can see this guy is wrong for the job, that he doesn't have the will nor the courage to do what needs to be done here, and that he's going to drag your Presidency and the world's economy down with him.

I admit, I haven't been a Geithner fan from jump. I'll admit that it's been quite juvenile of me to be calling him all these names. Mr. President, I don't care what you end up calling your new Treasury Secretary ...



Just please, please, PLEASE! as soon as you can, call him ...

UNEMPLOYED


But, hey, if we're really going to leave our country's financial fortunes in the hands of comic book characters, President Obama, may I suggest Frank Castle?



That's right, the Punisher. At least, he'll know what to do with all these corrupt bastards running around Wall Street.



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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck o' the Steelers!

Obama Announces Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland
By Al Kamen
WashingtonPost.com



Lady Luck naturally smiled on Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney on St. Patrick's Day, the day the White House chose to announce his long-expected nomination to be ambassador to Ireland. Rooney, a member of the Football Hall of Fame who led the Steelers to a record six national championships, is a lifelong Republican.

But he was so inspired by Barack Obama that he endorsed and stumped with the candidate, a crucial stamp of approval in a football-crazed and electorally critical swing state.

Rooney, who needs to be confirmed by the Senate for the job, has been long-active in Irish organizations. He co-founded the Ireland Funds, a nonprofit that raises money to support education and the arts in Ireland. In 1976, he established the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, which is awarded to young Irish writers.

Rooney recently told a Pittsburgh radio station he did not endorse or campaign for Obama "with the idea of getting anything." But "if he calls me," Rooney added, "obviously I'm going to say that I'll do anything I can for you."

Dublin sounds pretty good.

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Too Many Questions


While watching The SIsterhood of the Traveling Pants Saturday night, so many questions kept pounding my cranium, I thought my head was going to explode (of course, it could've just been the Chantix):

Why can't they keep Alexis Bledel's dye job consistent?

Why is Blake Lively playing "the jock" when she runs like an epileptic triple-amputee?

Why do they have Amber Tamblyn playing a teenager when she's got hips and wrinkles?

Why is America Ferrera claiming to be Puerto Rican when her ass is so clearly not Puerto Rican?

WHO THE HELL PUT THIS ON OUR QUEUE?!!!


(I actually have the sneaking suspicion it was actually me, but I will never own up to it, damnit.)

But the thing that really bugged me, besides the fact that, since Poohbutt, the wife and I can't watch sick kid flicks, the trite plot, and contrived characters, was that the Tamblyn character worked in a Walmart clone here in Bethesda, Maryland. One, this edge city is way too highfalutin to actually have a Walmart. Two was the question that kept bugging me the whole night: Do white kids even work in Bethesda?

Now, I've worked in this glamorous burb for seven years now and have lived here almost a year and a half, and I'll be damned if I've ever seen nary a white kid working an after-school or summer job.

"Would you like fries with that?" "Paper or plastic?" "Can I get that for you, sir?" usually come out of brown, yellow, or black lips and usually with a funny, little accent.

All the jobs I used to associate with suburban adolescence are now occupied by immigrant adults. My "paperboy" ain't seen puberty in decades and most of the Latinas at McDonald's are struggling trying to pay their AARP dues.

Now, I don't know what came first: did a lack of gainful employment force working-class adults into the service industry, forcing the kids out or did the kids' leaving service make room for an immigrant workforce? I don't have any clue how that played out. I don't even know if this is strictly a class thing: have the middle- and upper-classes decided that their kids' only job is school, and they don't need to "prematurely" enter the work force? Maybe it's just a DC thing? An urban phenomenon? Maybe it's just a white thang and I wouldn't understand.

I had a paper route when I was 11, and I worked at a Phar-Mor when I was 16. In the former case, I wanted the money--for comic books and Atari cartridges. In the latter, I needed the money. With my mom and stepdad separating, we wuz po'. A brutha had to eat! So, I'm not going to act like getting an after-school job build character or gives one valuable work experience or puts hair on your chest. Work sucks! As my Dad always asks, "If work's so great, why do they have to pay you?" I say, be born rich and avoid work lie the plague!

It's just that, one day (probably in the next few months), I'd like Poohbutt to get a job (hell, she can walk and "talk" already--it's time for her to pull her own weight). After all, a part-time job builds character, gives one valuable work experience, and will put hair on my girl's chest. I don't understand how school is supposed to be a kid's "job." I was expected to do well in school, well at work, and wash dishes and clean the bathroom. It was all about introducing my pubescent butt to the adult world. As was the after-school job itself. Geting shit on for a paycheck is a very important lesson to learn. Much more relevant to most of our future than calculus could ever be.

Now, I realize that times change and priorities change with them. I just hope they change back by the time Pooh gets her learner's permit. I'd like for her to learn those valuable, utterly humiliating, dehumanizing lessons before she enters college. But in a snooty place like Bethesda with noses so far in the air they tickle God's ass, are teenagers with jobs relegated to leper status? Do other teens whisper behind your child's back? Ask in overly dramatic whispers, "Are your parents having, like, you know, troubles?" Do they start up collections for your baby? Throw celebrity, charity events? Will I one day find Poohbutt screaming in Bethesda High's hallways, "I am not an animal!!!"

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eat A Armey Award: Edward M. Liddy

In honor of everyone's favorite Dick, former Congressman from Texas, House Majority Leader, and "Republican Revolutionary," Dick Armey, I announce my second, weekly (yeah right, Bill, like you have that kind of discipline) Eat A Armey Award, for the public luminary who's being an especial jackhole the previous week.


Have you heard the news this morning? That's right, AIG, the American International Group, the insurance company that has received over $170 billion of American taxpayer money in order to remain solvent, is about to dish out $165 million in bonuses to its own execs. Oh, and get this: about $60 million is going to the financial productions unit, the same AIG unit that had underwritten all those credit default swaps that has sent capitalism crashing around our ears.



So, this week's Eat A Armey award goes to Edward M. Liddy, the current, government-appointed CEO of the American International Group. For, despite being appointed the responsible guardian of the American taxpayers' booty, despite those taxpayers' outrage, despite the massive amounts of debt the American government (his employer) is accruing to keep his company afloat, despite Obama and Congress already imposing tight resrictions on these bailed-out companies' executive compensations, even despite getting reamed out by Timothy "The Gelding" Geithner, Liddy has the temerity to proceed with the bonuses and the balls to playhimself off as powerless in all this: "Needless to say, in the current circumstances, I do not like these arrangements and find it distasteful and difficult to recommend to you that we must proceed with them."

Hunh? What? Why, Eddie, why?

Because, Liddy says, "We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses--which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers--if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the US Treasury."

Oh, yeah. I gotcha, Lidster. If you want "the best and the brightest," you gotta pay "the best and the brightest." And that requires lots of money. So much so, that the US Treasury might just have to start printing money like ticker tape just to retain their brilliant services. But look here, NumbNuts. The reason the Treasury's printing all this Monopoly money in the first place is because of all these best and brightest assholes you're bending over backwards to felch!

Remember, these are the same people who fucked ... the ... WORLD!

Hey, Ed, do you remember M.A.D.? Mutually-Assured Destruction? It was the brilliant supposition that nuclear powers would never blow each other up because nobody wanted to be blown up in return. It was simply MAD to start a nuclear war. But the one thing none of the experts answered then or now. And that is what happens when somebody who has his/her finger on the button just doesn't give a fuck?

Well, bud, financially speaking, we're seeing exactly what happens. These "best and brightest" you're so eager to pay are the monetary madmen with their hands on the button. Think about it. Their megalomaniacal greed and avarice didn't just fuck themselves or each other, didn't just fuck their companies or Wall Street, didn't just fuck our 401Ks and retirement funds, didn't even just fuck the US economy. No, hoss. These bastards FUCKED THE WORLD!!!

Our country's going trillions further into debt. Britain partially nationalized their own banks. China's in trouble. Iceland went bankrupt. And damn near all of Eastern Europe is teetering on the brink.

Your AIG homeys had their fingers on the button, and they just kept pressing. Cackling all the way to the bank. And they just don't give a fuck. They actually have the balls to want more. They've fucked the world, and they shamelessly get all up in our faces, screaming, "Where my money, bitch?!!!"

And they got you on your knees, Liddy, begging for their forgiveness? Like you're the powerless one?!

Yo, Eddy! You're their fucking boss! You're the CEO. The United States government hired you to whip these assholes into shape. And you're on your knees?

I mean, what the hell is going on here? I was fired once for not serving customers their food in a timely fashion. These bastards fucked ... the ... world, and you're giving them an additional $200 million for their services?

You, Congress, the Gelding, and Obama keep acting powerless before these paper titans of Wall Street, and it's really starting to piss me off. We're yet to see an indictment. Hell, we haven't even seen an apology. No one is culpable. No one is shamed. If I'd done this, I'd be hanging my head in shame and moving to a country with no extradition treaty with the US. These motherfathers are sauntering around, grabbing their nuts, leaving us beaten and bloodied, and throwing us back out on the corner, screaming, "Not some, not half, but all my money."

And why shouldn't they, Ed? None of you guys are doing a damned thing to stop them. Some of them have lost their jobs with $10 million golden parachutes. And that's the worst any of them have faced.

We get it, Ed. These are rich and powerful people who can make one even richer and more powerful if they just play ball. But look who signs your paycheck, asshole. This whole debacle is bigger than you, your friends, or even the current state of the economy. This is about our future, our children's future, our grandchildren's future. Start fucking acting like it.

Until you realize this and man up and do ... your ... fucking ... job, you, too, Mr. Liddy, can Eat A Armey

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Happy 60th, Mom!!!


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sweets for My Sweet


I don't have to tell you, little kids are adorable. They're lovable, hugable, kissable. Sometimes, you just want to pinch the hell out of their cheeks. They fill us so full of gushy, mushy corniness that we want to take them, hold them, and care for them for decades at a time no matter how much grief, gray hair, and money they cost us.

I also don't have to tell you, Poohbutt's no different. That girl has me wrapped so tightly around her finger, I fear I may be a bit unhinged. I can have her bouncing on my knee while looking at pictures of her with a big, ole Proud Papa smile on my face. It's sad, but true. Cheesy and maybe a little egotistic. But I'm still utterly gaga over my little "Goo-Goo" Machine.

But I also think that Pooh's at an incredibly intriguing age. Sixteen months. It seems just like yesterday, I had this crying, crapping lump on my hands that I had to carry, change, and feed every two minutes. Now, all of the sudden, I have a little person running around and being all ... persony.

She walks! She talks! She runs! And can still slice this tomato!

It's just a whole new, fascinating experience for me to watch the world through a child's eyes once again. To observe the discovery. And to see, once again, what a challenge the world was to comprehend and navigate.

It's just that, at 16 months, our children are yet to acquire guile. Whatever's going on in their little minds plays out in their little faces. And, without experience to modulate their emotions, they suffer such extremes it's utterly fascinating. When they're happy, they're ecstatic. When they're frustrated with whether the blue cup goes inside the red or vice versa, they can and will go apeshit. When they're hurt, they scream as though you'd shoved bamboo under their fingernails. And when Poohbutt wakes up in the morning, runs with all the energy in her little legs, and squeals, "Hi, Da!" with the biggest smile on her face, you'd think it was the best thing that will happen in her life--and makes it the greatest thing that happens in mine.

And you know, at 16 months, these little tykes are starting to develop their own little personalities. She loves to dance to all kinds of craziness: Henry Mancini, The Slits, Seal. She loves singing Aesop Rock's "Boom, Boom, Boom." And, while I don't understand most of them, Poohbutt loves to crack jokes. She'll do anything for a laugh. She'll do her little "moonwalk," her Chubby Checker imitations. And the faces this girl makes.

And you can't help but wonder if we actually develop personalities this early. When she's being all full of tantrum, being all willful as though her name were "Stonewall" Campbell, and throwing everything on the floor, I sure as hell hope not. When she's cleaning up all her toys at the end of the night and starts taking to Mama's training her to do the baseboards, I'm definitely hopeful. And, when she's being all adorable and a cut-up, I can't help but wondering, is this a permanent thing? I mean, was yours truly this witty and acerbic when he, too, was shitting his own pants? One has to wonder.

Especially when it comes to the latest development in the Poohbutt Saga ...

My daughter has become a flirt.

Those of you who've read "Protecting Your Poohbutt" know I am forever vigilant over my daughter's honor. So, you know I keep my eye on this shit. And I have indeed observed some very inter-arresting new developments in my daughter's development.

I noted before that children at Pooh's age are without guile. They couldn't deceive if they tried--and I wouldn't put it past the little buggers to be trying even at this early stage. But those little darlings can be coy.

Now, while Poohbutt is the most precious, dearest thing that's ever happened to me and I love her to death, I'm not going to claim she has any special gifts of adorableness, or anything like that (like parents who are always trumpeting how their kid is "really smart for her age"--as often as you hear that, you'd think we lived in a nation of geniuses--yet we elected Bush twice). Kids are adorable. People love them. And, to be frank, people are often captivated by seeing a black man care for his own child. It's something they've never seen before. They can't help but stare.

Daaaaaaaamn.

So yeah, Pooh and I can sometimes get a bit of attention. I'm generally not one who likes the attention (I mean, the other day, two women were utterly spellbound watching Pooh eating broccoli), but what can you do? Folks like babies.

They smile and wave and sometimes act a fool. Seriously, it's amazing what toddlers can get perfectly normal, grown adults do. Sometimes, when we're in a restaurant, I'll look up from my own plate and see a grown woman making the silliest faces or a grown man doing a silly little jig hoping to elicit a chuckle from the girl.

What I've also noticed is how she actually encourages these fools. We'll be sitting there, eating a fine Jamaican, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Indian meal, and then I'll see that my little, dear, innocent Pooh staring holes into someone. She's picked her target. She'll stare and stare while they're mindlessly eating. Then, I guess feeling the heat, they'll suddenly look up. They'll see Pooh and start contorting themselves in the weirdest ways all to make my daughter laugh.

Then my little, dear, innocent Pooh will give a little half-turn away from the person, cock a shoulder, tilt her head down, and give a little titter. Sometimes, she even bats her eyelashes. I shit you not.

These fools fall for it every time. They start laughing in earnest, and coo to me, "Oooh, she's so shy."

"Uh-huh."

She plays this little "shy" act of hers at pretty much every restaurant we go. And her victims run the gamut: sex, sexuality, age, race, religion, ethnicity, none of the stuff that divides us when it comes to Poohbutt. Black women have done somersaults to entertain her; white women bust into the Electric Slide; Iranian men have danced the mazurka. What can I say? Poohbutt's a uniter, not a divider. I'm thinking of sending her to Israel and have her bat her lashes for peace.

This week, she's also become a dessert magnet. Pooh has a little fan club at our local Chinese buffet. Whenever we walk in, the waitress's faces light up. They smile and wave. They come by the table and try to entertain her. They constantly fall for her "shy" routine. So, it was no surprise when one of them snuck Pooh a seaweed-flavored Konjac brown rice roll. I think it's supposed to be a sweet. It's not.

What is sweet, though, is the caramel-anise cookies we got at a local Peruvian rotisserie the other day. Pooh was on fire that day. She had the customers and the employees dancing around. Even the cooks waved their tongs at her. The waitress, who spent a solid 20 minutes playing peek-a-boo rewarded Pooh's good behavior and eyelash batting with these cookies that rocked Daddy's world.

Now, I'll admit I'm a bit ambivalent about this newfound flirting and her being rewarded with sweets. We do live in a world where I will ultimately have to teach her that it is dangerous to take candy from strangers. And I don't want to teach her to use her supposed cuteness to get what she wants in life. I want her to grow up using her brains!

But for now she's only 16 months. Besides, I'm broke and I love free food. I'm trying to train the girl to get us a free meal or two down the road!

"Give it a little more ooomph! kid! Sell it! Sell it!"

Hell, you've seen this economy. Wish me luck!


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Come on, Pitt!

Less than 48 hours ago, the sports punditocracy was talking about how my beloved Pitt Panthers were just three points shy of being named the regular-season No. #1. Juuust losing out to North Carolina and that damned Tyler Hansbrough (hey, kid, weren't you supposed to go pro by now?). Now, look at 'em.

West Virginia 74
Pittsburgh 60


I mean, that's not just an upset. That's an ass-whuppin'!

Now, here we go again.

Look, I went to Northwestern. So, even though I hear they're a "bubble team," this year, the only hope I've ever had when it comes to March Madness is my mother's alma mater, the team I grew up loving before I knew how to love, the Pitt Panthers.

Every year I try not to hope. They go and win the Big East tournament, and I think maybe ... just maybe. But they ultimately choke. Ev-e-ry year! And, as my boy, Mo, just emailed me. They didn't even wait until the big tournament this year. They pre-ordered their mudhole-stomp and got it delivered in New York tonight.

Why? Oh, why?! Jesus?! Why have you forsaken us?!

Remember back in '88? Remember how you promised us such a great tournament? We had Charles Smith, remember? And backboard-shattering Jerome Lane. There was Demetreus Gore and Sean Miller. Oh, they were brilliant. They were supposed to go on and do great things. And they did ...

They succumbed to one of the greatest upset victories in NCAA tourney history, losing to Vanderbilt--Vanderbilt--in overtime in the second round.

Oh yeah, and remember all those freshmen that year? Sean Miller, Jason Matthews, Darrelle Porter, Brian Shorter, and Bobby Martin. They were touted as the best draft class we'd seen in decades. Apparently, Fox Sports News still considers them in the Top 25 draft classes of all-time. They were supposed to go onto great things. Did they?

Well, if they had, would I be writing this damned post?

Of course, they didn't.

They never do.

Ever since they joined the Big East, I've heard nothing but hype about my Pitt Panthers. And now I'm gonna listen to Chuck. I won't believe it.

Paul Evans was supposed to be such a great coach back in the '80s. He'd coached David Robinson. He was going to be a natural for Smith. Wrong!

Ben Howland was supposed to lead us to the Promised Land. Yeah, he did great things, right? He won National Coach of the Year in '02, got us three appearances in the Big East championship game, winning once; there were regular season Big East championships, and two Sweet 16 appearances.

And then he was like, "Peace, see ya later! I'm going to UCLA. I hear they got fake boobies out there!!!" And damnit if he didn't almost win a championship for those bastard Bruins in '06.

And here we are now. The team is definitely one of the best. They'll be a No. 1 seed this year. No doubt. That center, DeJuan Blair, is first-team All-American and co?-Big East Player of the Year. And Sam Young is a third-team All-American. I wanna believe. I wanna root and cheer and lose my fucking mind like I did during my Steelers Super Bowl run. Believe me I do.

It's just ... it's just that ... I've been hurt before. Time and time again. I just want them to win sooooo much. It hurts sometimes. It's like being underwater, drowning, your life flashing before your eyes, and you know it's over. And then a hand reaches down for you, you can see it through the water, and you reach and reach and reach. And then, through the murky depths, you hear, "Syke!"

And the hand is gone.

Just ... gone.

I don't want to go through that again. My heart couldn't stand it. You hear me, Panthers?! Never again!!!

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The Pope "Apologizes" Once Again

The Vatican released an "apology" today about the Holocaust denier hubbub. OK, it was much better than the "mistakes were made" excuse we've constantly heard the past eight years from the Bush Babee. But I'm still not falling for the okey-doke. In what British journalist, Damian Thompson, calls an "an endearingly humble letter, RatZinger expresses confusion and confesses ignorance. He just did not know that Bishop Williamson was an anti-Semetic, Holocaust denying sumbitch, though clearly the man's been doing it for decades. I mean, I know the Vatican's old school and all (and the Pope states, "I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on"), but, damn, a carrier pigeon could've carried a message to the Pope in the last 20 years Williamson has been spouting his garbage. Am I really to believe that no one in the Vatican told him?

What's harder to believe is this "cloak of compassion" he dons to get our sympathy:

"Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church?"

RatZinger caused all this Fuhrer--sorry, furor--to bring people together. He had no intention of tearing people apart. How was he to know that Holocaust denial would piss people off so much? Apparently, it doesn't seem to bug him that much.

Sure, the Vatican demanded that Williamson apologize for his statements. Williamson apologized, you know, if he "hurt" anyone. And, of course, the Vatican oh-so-forcefully rejected this disingenuous apology. And, of course, they should have. But how is RatZinger's apology any more sincere? After all, if I remember correctly, it's not called a "letter of contrition" but an "act of contrition."

How is Benedict going to act? How is he going to actually make things right? Will he even really try? Would he really oust Williamson and his hateful beliefs from the Church once again?

Come on now, Bill, the man wrote that "endearingly humble" missive. He said all the things the script called for. What more do you want? He said he was sorry.

But, as I said before, this Pope always seems to say two things at once, hiding his more hateful agenda behind platitudes of tolerance and pleas for understanding. Yes, he apologizes over yet another flap he's "accidentally" caused. And he, as the living representative of God, even throws himself up on the cross for this one:

"At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint."

But, in that statement, he tells us that he truly is not contrite. He will not act. Williamson and his views are here to stay. And the victim in all this is not the victims of the Holocaust nor their ancestors, but the Pope himself.

Damn, this guy is good.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

'Cause Every Writer Needs a Theme Song

And this has been mine since I was 9.



I still hope to become Allah some day.
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Introducing Rudresh Mahanthappa

All right, I haven't copped the CD yet, but I thought the whole idea of "karnatic jazz" (or rather the combination of jazz with South Indian classical music) kinda intriguing. Besides, Mahanthappa is the only musician I've ever heard discussing Fermat's Last Theorem, which earns him mega props in my book.








Oh yeah, I also thought Grant might like it.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This Day in History

Mark today, March 10, 2009, in your calendars forever. For today we commemorate humanity's struggle for justice, for peace, for liberty. Today we recognize the fight for human dignity. Today we celebrate--for we know, deep down in our very souls, that good will ultimately prevail over evil.

For today, March 10, 2009, is ...




Chuck Norris's 69th birthday!!!

Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris was not born of great means this day sixty-nine years ago in Ryan, Oklahoma. He did not come out of the womb with a silver spoon in his mouth. He did not have a nanny. He did not go to the best schools, drive the best cars, date the best girls. No. His father, Ray, was but a mechanic, a bus and truck driver. His mother, Wilma, a simple homemaker. But what these two, brave souls taught their boy, our "Chuck," were the values of humility, of hard work, of the ability to put one's foot in another human being's ass from time to time--you know, as Toby Keith put it, they taught that boy "The American Way"!

Chuck Norris taught me a lot, too. He taught us all.

The man bridged racial divides! While unable to dispel the myth that white men couldn't jump, he did teach us that one surely could master that freaky Chinaman kung fu shit.

He taught me that good guys do, indeed, wear black (something I desperately needed to know growing up in the suburbs). And, in Good Guys Wear Black, he helped me understand that sometimes the black sidekick indeed has to die in order for justice to truly be served.



In Silent Rage he taught me how to, well, rage silently. That that is sometimes the only way to defeat a bionic murderer who can heal automatically. He reinforced that valuable lesson in Code of Silence. Frankly, I've never been loud since.

He taught me the value of always having a perfectly manicured beard. If I could actually grow a beard, I'd be heeding his sage advice till this day.

He helped me with geometry in The Octagon.

He also taught this once-lonely teenager that it was OK to be alone in A Force of One and Lone Wolf McQuade.

But the most important thing that this paragon of justice, this true American hero, Chuck Norris, taught me, through his Missing in Action movies, was that America never did lose Vietnam. It was those mealy-mouthed American politicians with their Communist Chinese allies who wouldn't let our boys win! My uncle, a Marine who served two tours of duty over htere, could've sworn it was a Viet Cong land mine that blew him into the Mash unit. But no! It was Mao Tse Tung, Henry Kissinger, and Jane Fonda! But thanks to the efforts of Chuck, Sly, and Gene Hackman, we finally did beat those Vietnamese and all our boys got back home safely.

So, today is truly a great day in world history--for it signifies that ...

Hunh?

Hold on.

What? ... Today? ... They did what?

Really? The Chinese?! Today? Are you sure?

No, no. No thanks. I don't like bumper stickers.

But I thought they'd been a monarchy beforehand. I mean, that's not really free, either.

No, no. I understand.



Well, anyway, I've just been informed that today commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising that led to the Dalai Lama going into exile. I don't know what that has to do with anything, but apparently people are protesting around the world. The BBC apparently has a pictorial spread, sadly commemorating what was supposed to be a glorious day.

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"The Rock" Obama



Ahhh, if only ...
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Grace After Midnight

What was it? Last week when I was talking about my ambivalent relationship with the bandwagon. Well, one vehicle I had no problem jumping on was The Wire. Not having cable, I pretty much missed the entire hoopla. Then again, since neither HBO, the audience, nor the Emmys ever gave the show that many props, I guess the hoopla was never really that big. Besides, anytime I heard about the show, I confused it with The Shield and had no desire to see the Commish trying to act all hard-ass.

But then last year, The Wire's last season, Terry Gross became all obsessed and had everybody ever associated with the show on Fresh Air. Then my boy, Dabalou, told me he had all four seasons on DVD. I borrowed the first season, and then I became obsessed.

Actually, addicted was more like it. That first night, I stayed up until 6:30 in the morning, watching the damned show. Poohbutt woke up around seven. I changed her, fed her, and then had her watch the rest of the first season with me.

Generally, we don't watch TV with Poohbutt around, but I made a special exemption for The Wire. In fact, Pooh and I watched so much of the show together, I was afraid her first words were going to be "bitch-ass motherfucker."

But what can I say? I hate hyperbole, but The Wire was the ABSOLUTE BEST SHOW in the HISTORY of BROADCAST TELEVISION!!!!

So, when another friend asked me if I wanted to borrow Felicia "Snoop" Pearsons Grace After Midnight, you know I jumped all over that. I love me some Snoop, now. I could hardly understand a damned thing she said throughout the entire series, but damn, she was cool. And that hardware store scene was classic!



Now, I knew what I was getting into when picking this up. I mean, here's a woman who's clearly no writer writing a book for mainly a TV audience. So, it wasn't like I was expecting Augustine, Rousseau, or Malcolm X. Yet, I couldn't help but being a little disappointed.

Since Sister Souljah decided to include everything that could ever possibly happen to a girl in the ghetto in The Coldest Winter Ever, it's almost impossible to cover new territory in the genre. Even though the other book was fiction, you pretty much feel you've heard everything in Grace before. Thanks, Sister.

HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE!


Since I'm on the subject ... God, I hated The Coldest Winter Ever! I mean, that book was so damned contrived it made the word "contrive" put a bullet in its own head. Jerry Bruckheimer blushed. Even soap opera writers hung their heads in shame. So much happened to our lovely heroine, halfway through the book I was waiting for the mothership to land and dispatch Jesus to declare her the Lamb of God.

And speaking of Messiah complexes. What the hell was with Sister Souljah inserting herself in the book, portraying herself as a truly committed revolutionary sister, a paragon of virtue, and a sex symbol?! I mean, damn, I realize all us artists have a bit of an ego--after all, we actually think we're so talented, so talented, so sagacious that everybody should buy our works--but a damned sex symbol?! Couldn't you have at least used a pseudonym? Like ... I don't know ... Lauryn Hill (to keep true with the era). You know, someone we could believe in that role!

I know, I know. I'm calm now. I just thought that Winter was one in a long line of detritus that never would've been published if it had been written by a white writer for a white audience.

And don't even get me started on Shannon Holmes. That nigra's Exhibit A as to why massa never learnt us black folk to read.

REWIND, SELECTOR!!!


But the first of my two major disappointments in Snoop's bio is a lack of reasons. Here, she was a drug dealer who'd killed someone and had spent time in prison. Yet we never really get to know why. The bourgie in me needs that moment of faux understanding where I can tearfully tug at my own heartstrings in drummed-up sympathy for that poor girl's ghetto plight. That part was never satisfied.

While Snoop didn't know her father and her mother was a drug addict, she had foster parents who loved and cared for her and tried their best to raise her up. Yet, Snoop still fell into the drug game.

And Grace makes you feel that Snoop actually did just fall into it. That being a drug dealer's just what you do if you grow up in the mean streets of Bal'mer. I admit, I grew up in the 'burbs, so I don't know what it's like growing up in the inner city. However, a lot of my friends did grow up in some really tough cities, and they were never involved in drugs.

No matter how powerful or numerous the societal factors are that push you into it, a life of crime is still a choice. There are thousands of po' folks growing up in those very same streets as Snoop who never get involved with drugs, who go on to live decent lives. I really was looking for the reason she decided to turn her back on all that and the life her foster parents were trying to provide for her.

Of course, maybe that bourgie part of me is just terrified by the idea that she didn't really have much of a reason to do it. That maybe a lot of these kids don't either. That maybe it was just inertia that drove her and drives them. After all, what kind of social programs or amount of social engineering can reverse that force of nature?

My last pseudo-beef with the book (after all, it was "a'ight" and hasn't made me love Snoop any less) was where the hell was The Wire? I mean, look, Snoop, I love you to death (I just said that in my last parenthetical statement), your story is most definitely feelgood, but, well, I hate to say it ... no, really I do ... but ... well ... I didn't really borrow the book to learn about ... you know ... your life ... per se. What I reallllly wanted to know about was the damned show.

I wanted to know what it was like working with Omar (sorry, Michael K. Williams)? Or with Michael? I mean, that Tristan Lee is one, Satanically-gifted kid actor! Was that guy who played Marlo as creepy as he seemed? And is Gbenga Akinnagbe the Man, or what?!

You ever get a chance to hang out with Meth? Go to a go-go concert with Anwan Glover (Slim Charles)? Did you ever get to talk to David Simon (God) or Ed Burns (demigod) or George Pelacanos (a one-man pantheon)? Come on, woman! What was life on The Wire actually like?

I went through that entire book waiting for the pay-off. As the remaining pages dwindled, I knew I was going to be left hanging. Finally, I got there, the very last, sparsely-typed 14 pages. I wanted to know the insides and outs of the greatest show in the history of broadcast television, and all Snoop gave me was a ho-hum, "It was cool."

I gotta admit, it was almost as disappointing as the lame way they got rid of Omar on the show.

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Will It Go Round in Circles?



Poohbutt and I were just at another one of my favorite lunch buffets, where we saw a sister my age whose second grandkid was as old as Poohbutt, my first child. And, of course, she was threatening to whip the first grandkid's ass the whole time. Even in this post-racial Age of Obama, I kept asking myself the question best posed by Billy Preston:


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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Eat A Armey Award

All right, I don't know if it's the doctor's bill, the quitting smoking thing, or the drug I'm taking to quit smoking that's screwing around with my cranial lobes, or Timothy Geithner's lack of testicles, but I've been feeling more than a little irritated these past couple days. So, in honor of everyone's favorite Dick ...



former Congressman from Texas, House Majority Leader, and "Republican Revolutionary," Dick Armey, I announce my first, weekly (yeah right, Bill, like you have that kind of discipline)
Eat A Armey Award, for the public luminary who's being an especial jackhole the previous week.



The inaugural Eat A Armey Award goes to none other than ...





Michelle Malkin






Oh, there are so many reasons to bestow this honor about Ms. Malkin (whether it's her being a Japanese internment apologist or the fact that she graduated summa cum laude from the Sierra Madre School of Journalism--"Facts?! We don't need no stinkin' facts!!!"--or her huggin' up on swastika-totin' white men ...



or just about anything spewing out of this hate-filled, self-loathing leviathan), but this week I'm giving it to her for her reaction to this photo:







For those who don't know, the First Lady went to a homeless shelter Thursday and served dinner. As one could expect, when such outrageous acts of barbarism are committed, the Right responded with appropriate outrage ... Outrage ... OUTRAGE!!! I say.

Of course, they ain't hatin' on the First Lady. They hate the picture-taker--the one they all assume is homeless.

LA Times's Andrew Malcolm set it off by saying: "If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone? And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?"

Kathryn Jean Lopez over at National Review offered up that good, old conservative shibboleth for screwing over the poor: "I don't envy this man's situation, whatever it is, and don't mean to make light of it. But we are a blessed people when our poor have cell phones."

Kathy Shaidle, over at Five Feet of Fury, once again reading from the apocryphal Gospel of Fuck All Yall that only Conservative Christians seem to possess, states the waaaaay-too-obvious on this one: "Today's 'poor' are the rich Jesus warned you about: fat, slovenly, wasteful of their money and other people's."

Compared to the usual vitriol vomiting up from her labia, Malkin's claptrap was kind of mild on this one: "Some folks are wondering where the cell phone bills get sent. The answer is obvious: ACORN headquarters"; and "The liberals’ argument is that they need cell phones to get jobs. Do they need Blackberry Pearls?!"

So, Bill, if it was indeed so mild, why should Michelle eat a armey?

Uhhh ... Because I hate her.


Now, my first question I have to ask Michelle and her conservative crew is, What exactly about that picture-taker makes you assume that the man is homeless?

Hmm ... OK, we do know that this is a homeless shelter. So, I'm with you so far. Now, is it the man's hat? Do only homeless men wear those kinds of hats? No, I've seen those hats before. I have one, and I'm not homeless.

Is it his sweatshirt? No. I've got one of those, too.

Bill, did you ever stop to think that you might be homeless?


While I can't rule that out (though I think I want a refund for all that rent I've been paying), it still begs the question, what made these conservatives automatically think that this black man taking a photo in a homeless shelter was himself homeless? What could it possibly have been?

And while you're pondering that, may I ask what is especially wrong with a homeless person having a cell phone? I mean, I don't know much about the damned things. My wife gave me my first one, my mother my second, and my in-laws my third. I'm a Luddite with a website and don't find much need for the cellie. So, Michelle Ma Belle, I don't know if ole boy's sportin' a Blackberry Pearl as you quip. But I'm left wondering why a homeless man--if he were indeed homeless--might need a cell phone.

Hmm ...

Let me see, if I'm homeless, I'm betting people might have a tough time getting in contact with me. Like, my family wouldn't know where I was. I'm confused, how would a perspective employer get in touch with me telling me whether I have a job or not? Hell, how would my current employer get in touch with me? After all, I and a lot of my homeless cohorts are actually employed. We just ain't making enough money. That reminds me, I just applied for this little apartment over on Lazy Motherfuckers Who Are Trying to Bilk Hard-Workin' White Folks Lane. I wonder how they'll get in touch with me.

Damn, if only there was some device, something maybe portable, something I could talk into and hear other people talking to me. As you know, much like yourself, I'm always on the go, moving here, moving there. It's really hard to get in touch with me ... because I'm fucking HOMELESS!!!

I just hope one day they come up with something like that that I could use. I mean, they can put a man on the moon, but they can't come up with a portable talking device that would help me to establish some roots. Wait, what? They haven't put a man on the moon in over 30 years. Do you think that's why they haven't come up with my portable talking thingee?

But no, Malkin and her ilk didn't actually think that a cell phone could be an important device that could help a homeless person better their situation. Nope, she and the others went for the cheap joke, their go-to riff on the "Welfare Queen" myth to once again show how "stupid" the poor are and how you shouldn't give any money, time, or compassion to the unfortunate because they'll ultimately just waste it on something as "frivolous" as a cell phone.

For that, the obvious racial subtext, and the automatic assumption that a black man in a homeless shelter is homeless (not a volunteer, employee, nor director), Michelle Malkin most definitely deserves to ...



EAT A ARMEY!!!




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