Monday, December 31, 2007

Breakfast can be the most righteous meal of the day!

Tasteless Foodstuffs, Inc., presents its brand new line of religious breakfast cereals so that you can start each day of 2008 or 5768 or 1428 with a healthy balance of righteous fury, indignant adrenalin and face-slapping-swift reflexes.

IslamiX Cereal brings the fun back to breakfast with a different Mohammed cartoon on the box each month. IslamiX's whole grain goodness will give you the energy to chase down women who refuse to wear hijabs, condemn infidels of all stripes, ban movies, books and whole segments of human beings, while at the same time keeping all of those anger humors burbling through your pancreas and liver in full bloom. Dodging American missiles sometimes feels like a full-time job. You don't want to be a step slow on the wrong day. So make every day an IslamiX day!

Torah Pops give you the ultimate in bowel health and regularity. Are you as stopped-up as a patriarchal figure in a Philip Roth novel? Well, kvetch no more! Torah Pops will turn your colon into the land of milk and honey within seven days or you'll get your money back! Performing rocket attacks on old men in wheelchairs and destroying the lives of Palestinians is hungry business. Keep up your koyekh with Torah Pops!

Pope-e-os, the original big hat cereal! It's not easy being the largest land-holder in the world, oppressor of millions of human beings, or dodging new pedophile court cases every day of the week. You need Pope-e-os and all of its big hat, healthy goodness. There's a liberal dose of mercury and lead injected into each morsel so that every mouthful will taste like incense -- while at the same time lowering your IQ, dulling your conscience, and spinning your moral compass backward until it breaks. The Roman Catholic Church has not existed 2008 years by dealing rationally with the world, so why should you? Narrow your mind and appetite the Catholic way -- with Pope-e-os!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Better Computing in 2008

What Web browser do you use? Internet Explorer? If you use IE, immediately go to Mozilla Firefox and download the Firefox Web browser right now. In 2006, Internet Explorer was unsafe to use -- meaning, while using it your computer was vulnerable to hacker and virus attack -- 286 days out of the year. During the same time period, Firefox was unsafe to use for 9 days.

I know, I know, you've got all your Favorites set up in IE and it would just be too much of a pain to switch to something else. No. Switch. And take your Favorites -- in IE, click File / Import and Export . . . This launches a wizard that allows you to save your Favorites to your local machine -- I always save such things to my Desktop. When you download and install Firefox, one part of the setup process asks if you want to bring over IE Favorites.

Once you have Firefox as your browser, check out its innumerable cool "add-ons." For blogging, I love ScribeFire. This tool places a small orange pad and pencil icon at the bottom of your browser window. If you're like me, blog ideas usually come while you're surfing the Web or reading the news online. I click the ScribeFire icon and its interface launches, taking up the lower half of my screen with its writing tool. You can write in HTML, styling your prose with code. Or, you can use its "Rich Formatting" tab and style your writing just like you would in a word processor. It's easy configuring ScribeFire so that it publishers right to your blog. And you can save unfinished blogs as "Notes."

Install the Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer so that no matter what computer you're on, you'll always have your Bookmarks (Favorites) with you. The Google toolbar has a similar feature, which is worth checking out. With so many easy-to-use Web-based applications available, there's no reason to go without just because you're not at your own desktop computer in your own home.

As the Internet expanded over the years, so has the amount of crap that clutters it. Surfing ain't what it used to be. That's why I use StumbleUpon to find new and interesting Web sites. StumbleUpon is a toolbar that installs in your browser window. Part of the sign-up process is choosing from a wide range of topics that tell StumbleUpon exactly what kind of content you want to see. Once it's installed, click the "Stumble!" button in the toolbar and a new, random Web page comes up. Some of the most interesting images, trivia and articles I've ever read have come my way with this tool.

For the best in productivity tools and tips on simply getting things done, get over to I found this site following a link to an article about commonsense weight loss tips. Didn't take long to start clicking around and finding cool interior design articles, tips on optimizing my computer and physical workspace. There is no end to the cool and useful downloads they feature. One of the best tools I found through was CCleaner (which stands for "Crap Cleaner"), for cleaning useless garbage files from my computer. And there are more excellent articles on every day.

Another way to make the most of your time on the Web is using the site "Diggers" from around the world post news stories on this site and the rest of us vote on each story by clicking the "digg it" button next to each article. If you like it, you digg it, if you don't like it, you can click the "Bury" button. Again, some of the most interesting and helpful articles I've read in recent times were found through this Web site. In fact, it's now my primary source for news.

There are a load of online tools I also use for my writing.

Have you ever had a computer meltdown, which destroyed important files? I have. It was a tough lesson to learn that we should all be backing up our stuff. You should back up your files to disc, certainly, but I also back up all of my writing to Gspace, a tool that allows you to FTP content to a Gmail account. This way, no matter what computer I'm on -- my wife's laptop, my parents' desktop -- I can always access my files. Even when I switch back and forth from Windows to Linux Ubuntu on my desktop. As long as I have access to the Internet, I can get at my files, download what I want to work on and get down to work.

If you're sick of being a prisoner to Microsoft Word, there are a number of word processing alternatives. OpenOffice Writer is free to download and is pretty much as robust as MS Word. It's part of the OpenOffice Suite that includes a spread sheet program, a presentation program; basically comparable programs for everything Microsoft offers. In OpenOffice Writer, save your work in "Rich Text Format" and you can go back and forth from MS Word to OpenOffice Writer with no trouble.

Some great online writing tools are Google's Google Docs, which makes your work accessible to you wherever you are as long as you have an Internet connection. Google Docs also allows you to share your work with others for feedback and collaboration purposes. You can give people "read only" access or full access, where they can get into your document and make edits.

Two other great online word processors are ThinkFree and Zoho. Their interfaces are still a little rough; still a little ways from Web 2.0 glossy beauty, but the applications are very usable. Once again, working in either ThinkFree or Zoho, your work is saved online so it's safe even if you suffer a computer meltdown. And your work's accessible to you no matter where you are (as long as you have that precious Internet access).

For distraction-free writing, check out Dark Room. This is an old school no frills word processor. It's virtues are that it fills your entire screen, eliminating all onscreen distractions. And it's old school interface is really handing for coding or first-draft writing. In fact, I'm writing this in Dark Room on my own computer right now. You can't boldface or italicize or underline your text, but you'll enjoy a certain freedom being away from such cosmetics and get down to simply setting words onscreen.

If you're in to writing plays or screenplays, Celtx is a great free screenwriting, playwriting program. Writing in such media involves a lot of fussy formatting. Celtx does all of that for you. Specify whether you're writing a screenplay or play, and Celtx will make sure the Action, Dialogue, Characters and Setting are formatted in the current professional standard. The program even allows you to share your work with the Celtx community for feedback.

If you're a budding Web developer, you'll be extra glad I steered you toward Firefox. There are hundreds of add-ons you can get through Firefox that make Web development a breeze. The Web Developer toolbar gives you a wide range of tools for examining code on your Web pages or the Web pages of other sites. You can look at any site's .css, Information / Div Order will chop up any Web page into its individual divs so you can see how the maestros of the Internet lay out their pages.

The Firebug add-on gives you an even more granular look at Web pages. It's icon lives at the bottom right-hand corner of your browser screen. On pages that validate, you'll see a gree circle with a white checkmark there. On pages where there are problems, the little icon becomes red. Click the icon and its interface opens like ScribeFire. There are numerous tabs: Console, HTML, CSS, Script, DOM and Net. Each shows you indepth detailed information about how a given Web page works. It's invaluable for troubleshooting Javascript and HTLM errors.

Although Internet Explorer is a universally acknowledged piece of shit, it's still with us. Developers must still code for it. IE is not standards compliant, meaning, it does not obey the Web standards created by the bodies that govern the Internet. To some, this may make IE seem like a real go-its-own-way pioneer. For people who have to code for it, it's a major pain in the ass. So, a great way to see how pages render in IE is by using Firefox's IE Tab. Once it's installed, you'll see a small orange Firefox icon at the bottom right of your browser. Click it and it'll become the IE icon, while at the same time reloading your page in the browser to render as it renders in IE. Often, the differences can be staggering and maddening. But at least you'll see them here where you can still do something about them.

Sometimes the Internet seems like one giant, vomitous pop-up window filled with bilious advertising that dogs you whever you go. If you're an active, conscious Web user, you'll find there is a ton of great stuff waiting to be discovered. Now go out an find it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Metty Xmas

Bad Kiwi Santas in drunken rampage

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A gang of about 50 apparently drunken Santas invaded a New Zealand cinema complex at the weekend -- frightening customers, damaging property and swearing, the cinema's manager said Monday.

Thought by police to be university students dressed in Santa suits, the group did a lightning 20-second raid on Hoyts Cinema complex in the South Island city of Christchurch on Saturday, manager Derek Rive said.

"As they ran through the complex they wrecked everything they could, the Christmas tree -- they bowled everything over ... (they were) just absolute fools," he told The Associated Press.

He said the "hooligans" abused patrons, chanted obscenities, ripped down posters and knocked over cardboard figures advertising films.

Wife Stabs Husband for Opening Xmas Present Too Early

The report of Rock Springs Police shows that a woman stabbed her husband during an argument. Nothing new and surprising so far, but as the report continues it shows the argument started when her spouse opened the Christmas present earlier then she intended for him to do it or at least this is how it seems.

The aggressive wife is 34-year-old Misty Johnson from Rock Springs, Wyoming. She was charged for her deed with aggravated assault and battery (a felony) and misdemeanor domestic battery against her husband Shawn Fay Johnson, also 34.

The Husband was taken to a local hospital as soon as possible where he was treated of a wound to the chest and then released, police informed. He was the one that called 911 at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday and reported that his wife had stabbed him, the authorities said.

An officer who was patrolling the area was informed and arrived at the scene shortly after the call.

On Thursday, a judge set the bail for Misty Johnson at $7,500 and according to the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office she was released on Friday from the county jail.

Police investigators said that Shawn Johnson revealed that his wife was the one who started arguing immediately after she returned home shortly before the stabbing incident.

Information on the content of the present or if it really was for Shawn Johnson hasn’t been released yet and according to detective David Thompson the investigators haven’t found out.

When searching the scene of the accident, police officers found a marriage license according to which they were married in late September.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dr. Richard Dawkins' children's book

An early draft of Dr. Richard Dawkins' children's book has been given exclusively to Inside the Hotdog Factory:

The most important thing Jimmy needed to know about life was that he would one day die. Depending on where he lived, his chances of being sexually molested and killed at the hands of his tormentor might be slightly higher or lower than the national average. But, no matter what, he was going to die one day, and rot. All people die.

The second most important thing Jimmy needed to know about life was that his mummy and daddy were going to die. Not today and probably not tomorrow, but they would some day. All people die. No one had been born, yet, who had cheated death.

Jimmy's little puppy, Bilsby, would one day die, too.

Although Jimmy would be taught by his parents and teachers and society that there was God in the sky watching his every move -- even when he went to the bathroom -- these were all lies told to him by stupid, simpleminded people who were intellectually dishonest and prejudiced to the core. When people die, they are done. There is no human soul, there is no heaven and there is no God. If someone truly loved Jimmy, they would teach him this. But nobody really loves Jimmy. He's just the culmination of his parents' egotism and their shallow desire to perpetuate their shallow, ignorant egos. They wanted to have a newer, smaller version of themselves to pamper and coddle and fill with their prejudices and ignorance so that he might, one day, marry a shallow, materialistic Christian girl who will share all of his societal and religious prejudices.


So, the lesson for Jimmy -- and for everyone -- is that the meaning of life is death. When Jimmy gets older, though, he will have to understand that the universe does not owe him, or anyone, meaning. He will find meaning in television, Internet pornography, shopping, washing his car, and a myriad other ways; believing the most primitive, idiotic fictions; floating in a seamless cloud of ignorance. Not only will none of that be meaningful meaning, it will be all the meaning he'll ever know because that's all there is. He'll live then he'll die and that'll be it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spelling and Catechism

A friend was telling me the other day that his young daughter's catechism teacher was teaching her Sunday school class about Hell. I guess the teacher was a real old-time Catholic. My friend's wife was upset that their daughter was being taught about Hell and while talking about this to my buddy, she spelled out the word so their daughter's younger brothers wouldn't know what they were saying. Except the youngest, who's about six, caught it.

"You're talking about Hell?" he said from the other room. His mother was aghast. Did he also know about Hell?

She called her son into the room and asked him what he knew about Hell. He said he knew nothing about Hell; that he just repeated it because he understood the spelling. Then he said, "Oh yeah, and it's in that prayer."

My buddy and his wife looked at each other -- what the hell prayer has Hell in it?

Their son provided the answer: "The Hell Mary."

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teachers with Tongs

Thousands of teachers cited for sex misconduct

There's a terrible old joke that goes: A boy -- 10 or 11 years of age -- comes home from school and when his mother asks him about his day, he says, "I had sex with my teacher today." To which the mother is offended and outraged and says, "Go to your room until your father comes home!" Father comes home and is sent up to his son's room to confront the boy about lying. "No, really, Dad, I had sex with my teacher today." The father looks at the boy, looks out in the hallway to make sure the mother is nowhere near, then high-fives his son. "Good job!" Afterward, whenever the mom leaves the room while watching TV or getting something for the dinner table, the dad leans over to his son and asks, "Did you have sex with your teacher today?" The boy says yes and the father grins with pride. One day when the mom leaves the dinner table to answer the telephone, the dad leans over and asks his son if he'd had sex with his teacher that day. "No," the son sighs. "He wanted to, but my bum was too sore."

Of course, if I had a daughter and she was molested by some overheated under-matured monster, I'd want his head in a bucket under my desk. No question about it. If I had a son who suffered at the hands and flaming member of same, I'd want the molester caned until he looked like a man-shaped blueberry -- and then I'd want his head in a bucket underneath my desk. Kids are gonna grow up and have to deal with nagging, hen-pecking women-in-training and monster-truck-perpetual-infant-men -- and dodge them like malaria, let's hope -- so, clearly, they don't need the added trauma of pedophiles in their lives.

Pedophilia is real-world vampirism. Once a person is the victim of a pedophile, the odds of them becoming pedophiles skyrockets -- like the bite of the vampire turning victims into vampires. Pedophiles are incurable -- as are vampires of lore. Hence, pedophiles should either be subject to capital punishment for their crimes or at the very least, child molestation charges should carry actual life-sentences -- meaning, you molest even a single child one time, you're done in society. You're locked up. That's it.

So, it's vilely disconcerting to read in USAToday -- and elsewhere -- that there is a veritable epidemic of teachers having sex with students.

Although I write this particular blog post to state my ideas about what should be done to male child molesters and unattractive female predators, I will take a moment to let my freak flag fly and indulge in some inappropriate hypocrisy. To wit, look at these hotties at the right and tell me, guys, that when you were 11, 12, 13, etc., that you wouldn't have relished -- absolutely fucking relished -- one of these women simply running a finger along the back of your neck. Much less getting naked with them and carrying on depraved and bestial sex acts.

Certainly, there is the saying, "For every beautiful woman there is a guy somewhere who is sick of her shit." True. And it may well be the case that these lovelies and others not yet caught, are evil, manipulative and just plain fucking crazy. Yes, all of that may well be true. But for the love of all things holy, isn't being a young guy living in an absolute frenzy of hormones, titillating media, tantalizing female classmates, and then being one of the scant few who actually gets to make it with a steaming twenty-something vixen, it's own reward? Yet we call these women criminals.

It's easy to say such things from the comfort of my lifeguard chair in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I'm not subject to the dastardly pillow talk that follows one of these hot teachers ravishing some stunned and quivering 13 year old boy. But at a glance -- a superficial scan in their direction -- these woman look more like minxes than menaces.

All other wrongdoers abusing their power over children should be shackled and shamed in the public square. Every Catholic bishop who has enabled pedophile priests to continue banqueting on the innocents in their charge, should be placed in stocks and stoned. The bishop who confirmed me into the Catholic church was one such bishop, who transferred known pedophiles all over the place, providing them an endless supply of fresh meat

I merely blog, at this moment, about that one weird ray of light amid all of this squalor. I guess I'm saying, insensitively, naively, wrongly, that if I was going to have damage done to my life, I'd prefer it at the manicured hands of one of these four. And I speak only of me -- not you, your children or my neighbors or their children, or even my own children. I speak only for myself in this instance. O, to have encountered one of these Mrs. Robinsons when I was a teen.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Way We Were -- 6th Anniversary

It's my sixth wedding anniversary.

At my suggestion, my wife and I watched the Sidney Pollack's 1973 film starring Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand, The Way We Were. It's one of my all-time favorite films from back in the days when Detroit's Channel 50 Eight O'Clock Movie played each weeknight. The film has one of the most poignant openings I've ever seen, with Streisand singing that gorgeous theme. Hearing "Memories" puts me in mind of my parents getting drunk on Friday nights when I was a kid -- both teachers; no headbands or bongos or quirky little pipes -- listening to their Simon and Garfunkel records, the soundtrack to Fiddler on the Roof, and a Streisand greatest hits album; back in the days of our small living room hearth where real fire fed on real logs from actual trees. My dad smoking his pipe, my mom with her Cameos, the living room lit with those wonderfully dim and moody 1970s lamps. The weddings of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were not so hopelessly long in the past, or Jackie Kennedy reborn as Jackie O.; a young man named Julius Erving was exploding the American Basketball Association with 40-plus-point games; the tragedies of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or even John F. Kennedy, not yet completely like amber worn down by water.

Seeing The Way We Were -- particularly some of the New York scenes -- really put me in mind of the 1970s, and not in a superficial 70s-chique sort of way, but thinking of the audiences who saw that film at the cinema, back in the days when the world seemed to close like a coffin lid each night, with networks signing off for the night, leaving insomniacs to panic over nonsensical test patterns on TV screens. There was no Internet, no video games -- and Pong doesn't count; a few minutes of that after midnight would be nearly enough to give even the pillar of the community the screaming meemies -- not even any readily available VCRs. Back when news of the world came from Walter Cronkite or actual newspapers. Saturday Night Live was still two years in the future; not yet fending off the night chills until a nearly-unheard-of one a.m.. Back when there were about five or six channels on the television. No need for a remote control because one channel was as good as another -- no one was missing anything. That was back when Henry Winkler was apt to come on TV during a commercial break to tell everyone that graffiti was definitely not cool, or Ella Fitzgerald might show up in a public service announcement asking you to be sure to use the new ZIP code number system on your letters -- because, with the price of long distance telephone calls in those days, people wrote letters to one another. Back in the days when CBS would announce on Friday nights, in between programs, "It's eight o'clock. Do you know where your children are?"

Back around 1973 and environs.

And the bane of television programs at that time, for anyone sorry enough to be up early on a Sunday morning: psychedelic religious shows like Insight, in which religion collided with The Twilight Zone.

When I was a teenager, my grandmother told me that she had seen The Way We Were with my uncle and aunt, and how mortified she had been during the scene when Streisand's character takes a drunken Robert Redford home and he passes out in her bed, and she slips naked between the sheets next to him. Poor Grandma St. Amand, who smoked cigars on occasion and carried wash baskets the size of Volkswagens, with her wavering, wounded, martyred, "O-o-o-o-h," whenever she saw me with long hair or trying to grow a beard. By 1973, her two sons were married and all of her grandchildren had been born. Picturing her sitting there in the Royal Theatre with my aunt and uncle, all of them squirming in their seats suffering the basest discomfort at the sight of that nice little Jewish girl getting into bed with Robert Redford, fills me with a laughter that only surfaces when I'm confronted by a Monty Python skit.

I was two years old in 1973, but I have fleeting memories of that time. I recall my mother having a colleague from Children's Aid over to the house. He was a priest who looked like Gene Shallot; huge head of frizzy black hair, large black mustachio and black-framed glasses. I remember the wild plaid patterns of my dad's suit pants. I remember a woman on public television -- after Sesame Street and the Electric Company (on which a young Morgan Freeman was a regular) -- who had a ponytail down to her waist, leading yoga sessions. I remember one evening in our basement, looking at my dad sitting in his battered, leather reclining chair -- he wore brown pajama bottoms and a wife-beater shirt -- and thinking quite clearly to myself, "Dad is 34." But that was April 1974.

Somewhere in his novel V, Thomas Pynchon says that all people have a deep ingrained longing for the decade in which they were born. I'm 36, and every once in a while I'm reminded that there are people who think that's old. Maybe it is. Next week I'm going to Warren, Michigan to see Don Rickles perform live. A colleague at work said that she had never heard of Don Rickles. My colleague is under 30, so I'm not terribly surprised. I still recall when I first experienced Rickles -- when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s.

"I was born in 1980," my colleague told me, "So, I was about three or four when you saw that SNL."

Maybe I was a strange kid, but early on I knew that being born into this world was like surfacing in a moving river -- I inherently understood that there were events of great import that predated my existence and I was curious to find out about them. One of the first bits of history that enthralled me was the Woodstock art and musical festival of 1969. There was a Detroit program on Friday evenings when I was a kid hosted by a local personality named John Kelly. I forget the name of the show, but it's opening song was Barbara Streisand's "Memories," and the word "yesteryear" was used quite a bit. As a kid of seven or eight years I was aware of rock 'n' roll -- hell, I watched reruns of The Monkee's on TV -- and understood the concept of rock concerts, but I couldn't get my head around the idea of a concert lasting three whole days -- actually, I've read that it ran Friday, Saturday, Sunday and well into Monday (that's when Jimi Hendrix played: Monday morning to about 20,000 people), so that's virtually four days. For some reason, my parents didn't like me asking about Woodstock. Neither had attended the event, or even knew people who had, but they responded to my questions regarding it as though I was asking about a Witches Sabbath or something. But I was enthralled when John Kelly's half-hour program focused on it one Friday night.

The next bit of history I hit upon was the Charles Manson killings -- I found a copy of Vincent Bugliosi's book, Helter Skelter, on our bookshelf among the James Michener novels and World Book encyclopedias from 1964. My folks well and truly freaked when they saw me thumbing through Helter Skelter and the book quickly disappeared from the house.

So, with the ghost of Grandma St. Amand cringing in the background, my wife and I watched The Way We Were. My wife liked the film, but proclaimed it very sad when it was finished. I guess it was, but it was still a wonderful journey.

Monday, August 27, 2007

There's no "eye" in "team"

The PanthiOn Corporation credo was repeated at every team-building excursion: "Business is war!" shouted senior manager Ted Jacks. He stood upon a picnic table outside the registration office of Patriot Games Paintball Compound, dressed in military fatigues and combat boots. His face was streaked with camouflage paint. He gripped his marker—paintball gun—by the barrel with his right hand, gesturing with it as he spoke. "If you cannot perform under these controlled conditions, how in the fuck will you perform at PanthiOn when one of our competitors throws a Chinese star at your face? You'll wilt and shit your pants, that's what you'll do!"

He surveyed his twelve-member staff with a predatory gaze. They were soft, recent college graduates.

"Many of you have never tasted blood," Ted yelled. "I'll give you your first taste, and teach you to love—!" He punctuated the word "love" by jabbing the butt of his marker toward the picnic table, accidentally striking the table, causing the marker to fire. If Ted had had the barrel condom affixed to his marker—as per Patriot Games Paintball Compound rules—the misfire might have actually accentuated his point. But Ted did not have it affixed. The marker was inadvertently angled so that the paintball caught him in the side of his right eye, streaking his camouflaged face, brow and forehead with fuschia paint.

As Ted crumpled to the top of the picnic table, and rolled onto the ground, a dozen cell phones were simultaneously pulled from hip holsters; dexterous thumbs dialed 911 with gunslinger speed.

Ted was conscious when he was taken away by paramedics. "You are to continue with the day's combat," he groaned as he was loaded into the ambulance. "That's an order!"

After four surgeries by four of the best "eye men" in the region, Ted lost his right eye. The loss affected him badly until he realized he could now legitimately wear a black eye patch. Visualizing himself leading business meetings dressed in a three thousand dollar suit and a black eye patch actually roused a smile on his swollen, post-op face. That smile faltered, however, when Ted returned to the office weeks later—a lawsuit against Patriot Games Paintball Compound, well underway, as well as against the manufacturer of the paintball marker, the manufacturer of the fushia paintball and even the manufacturer of the picnic table—wearing a thousand dollar suit and an opaque eye patch. For, written across the white board with red erasable marker in the area flex room, was a bastardization of PanthiOn's other credo: "There is no 'eye' in Team!"

Days were spent taking handwriting samples from the staff and conducting interviews to learn who was in the flex room when the offense took place. So far, the culprit was never caught.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weddings & Anniversaries

A wise man I know once asked his wife, "Is it weird for a person to think a cousin of his is 'hot'?" To which his equally wise spouse replied, "No."

This is good.

I'm just after attending the wedding of my wife's "young" cousin; Sweet Sandy who is twenty-four, but whom is eternally eleven years old in the minds of her relations. Sandy, who looks like a French-Canadian Salma Hayek. My wife comes from a family oddly rife with spectacularly beautiful women. Attending this wedding has been, for me, like entering the film Abbott & Costello Go to Mars, in which the hapless duo accidentally board a rocket and accidentally fly it to Mars and somehow end up on Venus, which is quite purposefully populated by spectacularly beautiful women. Every which way I turned at the wedding, there were beautiful women of all ages greeting me, hugging me, kissing me, asking how life was going.

You wanna know what you're wife's gonna look like in middle age? Look at her mother. My mother-in-law looks like the fourth Charlie's angel.

A decade ago, this weekend, my wife and her family (still eighteen months away from knowing me) attended the wedding of Sandy's older sister. It was the weekend that Princess Diana died. The very same weekend in 1997, I had moved to Ireland to live and write and work. Finished with school, and everything else about myself in the city of my birth, I packed some clothes, some books, some manuscripts of my writing, and flew to Dublin. Jetlagged and hungover, I'll never forget the Sunday morning I went to my Aunt Josephine's house on St. Brigid's Avenue in the section of Dublin called Drumcondra, ringing the doorbell -- I attended church with her each Sunday in exchange for lunch with her and my cousins -- and my aunt coming to the door and telling me, "Did you hear the news? Diana's died." After mass and after lunch that day, I repaired to a Drumcondra pub called The Cat & Cradle with my cousins and their friends for some pints and to see on the large-screen TV how the world was coping with the loss of Diana. Some conspicuous Irish Republicans sat in the center of the pub playing cards and talking loudly. No one said anything to them.

Half a world away, my wife and her family were at the wedding in St. Catharines, Ontario. At one point in the night, a ruckus erupted when the girlfriend of one of my wife's cousins loudly accused my wife's stepdad of grabbing her ass out on the dance floor. Knowing everyone as I know them, there's no question the girl was mistaken. She never made it into the family. She and her boyfriend parted and my wife's cousin went on to marry a wonderful woman who would never accuse anyone of grabbing her ass. Tears and shouting and recriminations ensued. Goddamn it, I wish I had been there to witness it. But I was indisposed in Dublin, drinking through my hangover, watching disjointed video footage of paparazzi in a French police van, the opening of a Parisian motorway tunnel, and three grizzled Republicans before me, intent on their card game.

Last night, I stuck to drinking Diet Coke. One beer, one whiskey ignites the Angel of Death within me and I just can't take the hangovers any more. So, I milled about the beautiful women, had my picture taken with them. Sometimes when bad shit happens in life, I'll sit back and think, "Well, will I be bothered by this in a year?" Or the horrible thoughts ignited by high school reunions, pondering how much we've accomplished over the years, how has time treated everyone, do we measure up. Last night, I was pleased and proud to find myself on Venus with Abbott & Costello.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bread & Circuses

Cobo Hall. Detroit, Michigan. Summertime. Hot-as-hell, unrepentant humidity. 1984. Commercials for The Toughman Contest had been playing for weeks on Channel 50, showing amateur pugilists in tight, stained jeans flailing at one another, shirtless, wearing sloping discolored boxing gloves circa 1940. No Vic Tanny muscles there. Hardened Joe Q. Roughnecks chosen from the audience to face-off in the ring. Winners continued through the tournament -- to another weekend or another town -- and the losers went home to muster themselves with bathroom surgery; pissing blood, affixing raw calves' livers to shamed, blackened eyes.

Pryvett Rawgers & Co. were there to see it.

The protocols preceding any stadium event dictated that Pryvett & Co. got themselves liberally shitfaced beforehand. They blew the afternoon at the Sunnyside Tavern in LaSalle. Among Pryvett's crew was "Milk Man," whose nickname derived from his pathologically pristine appearance: long flaxen hair, pressed white shirts, immaculate beige Members Only jacket. Milk Man was voted "Mostly Likely to Pursue a Career in Menswear" two years running in their high school yearbook.

There was Konrad, a surly Arab guy whose method for picking up girls in bars involved tripping lasses or spilling drinks on their arms. Whenever a brother, boyfriend or bystander punched Konrad in the face for such conduct, he swore that he was suffering residual prejudice from the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis. Konrad did, however, distinguish himself once for bringing three packages of hotdogs to a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and disposing of the weiners by hurling them over the audience throughout the film.

The quartet was rouned out by Ernst, an opaque young man of few words, bearded and crowned with an unruly thatch of uncombable brown hair. He was an artist who once submitted a project to his art teacher comprised of a baby doll scorched with a blowtorch affixed to a piece of wood with a dagger. His instructor went ballistic and Ernst was ordered to see the school psychologist, a wan man who regarded the world with heavy-lidded eyes staring through thick-framed Henry Kissinger eyeglasses. He had long, wispy sideburns and stared at Ernst for a long time at the start of their first session before saying, "What are you trying to say with the doll and the dagger?"

So, gunned on draught beer and corned beef sandwiches, Pryvett & Co. made their way to Detroit's Cobo Hall for the Toughman Contest -- MulletVille, Redneck Woodstock. The boys assimilated perfectly with the assembled crowd. This was where drunken auto workers, plumbers, roofers, working slobs of all stripes spent a summer Saturday. Tickets were ten dollars a shot -- "Priced right for families," Pryvett later recalled. "I could just see guys asking the ticket-seller, 'Hey, do I get more beer if I buy the Family Pack?'"

The scene around him at Cobo enthralled the historian in Pryvett. It was Ancient Rome colliding with contemporary trailer park.

The Toughman Contest audience was jacked up on beer, cocaine, nitro-glycerine testosterone. Jeers and epithets circulated through the mob as though some outrage had just occurred on a baseball field, that a running back had just fumbled the ball, or some referee had stuck his officious, ferret nose into the business of sportsmen competing. There was a general contankerous, grunting pulse amid the arena's inhabitants as they waited for the fights to commence.

However fragmented and disjointed the audience's attentions were as the arena filled, all voices joined in a communal roar when the guest MC of the event made his appearance ringside: Mr. T.. Rocky III was only two years in the past and The A-Team was in full flower. Mr. T. shouted a few unintelligible words into a microphone he would use to give the loudspeaker play-by-plays of each fight. The audience roared back its approval. Then Mr. T. gave a final wave and took his seat amid the officials surrounding the ring.

For all of the unhinged hype of the violence to come, the Toughman Contest fights were actually tame; sometimes dull bordering on lame. Shirtless, out-of-shape autoworkers took the ring -- one wearing a pair of Budweiser shorts so tight those sitting nearest the ring could have counted the number of beer caps in the guy's pocket. One fighter threw three punches and then stopped, winded. His opponent was in no better physical condition to capitalize on this pause in the action. In between rounds, fighters returned to their corners for a few drags off a cigarette, a chance to hork into a plastic pail. To get around the Boxing Commission and all its constraining rules, fighters were allowed to kick, as well as punch. This brought a further unkempt schoolyard touch that appealed to the collective reptillian brain of the mob.

The promoters doubtless recognized the limitations of unleashing untrained fighters before an audience of thousands. Hence the guest MC. And Mr. T. did not disappoint. His rapidfire verbosity, the primeival guttural resonance of his voice, held the mob rapt. His most frequent verbal lash at the fighters was, "Come on Gorilla Man!"

Neither Pryvett, Milkman, Konrad or Ernst were particularly demonstrative members of the mob. This wasn't The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But they took in everything around them like cultural observers from another land. Every once in a while a fierce shout would go up somewhere behind them or off to the side, and a fist fight among the rabble broke out like sudden brush fires on the badlands.

After half a dozen matches, an announcement was made from ringside that women would also take to the ring. There was some booing and sexist outburts amid the almost-completely male crowd. These soon turned into startled, excited cheers when it was seen that women were capable of sudden, stunning violence, as well. The female roughnecks had their own menace the mob recognized and approved of. The women had more endurance than the male fighters, flailing leopard-like in the center of the ring, launching kicks with greater frequency and speed. Although few fight-goers would later admit it, the female fighters put on the kind of show they had paid to see.

One of the last fights, between two women, had all the hallmarks of being a completely lopsided slaughter. A gargantuan Detroit Mama, sporting a large round butt and enormous, unwieldy breasts hanging to her waist was to face-off against a petite Latina chick who had the body of a sparrow. The Latina would certainly have speed and dexterity on her side, but the moment the Detroit Mama got hold of her, a massacre would ensue.

The bell rang. The Detroit Mama moved across the ring with a lumbering swagger that seethed menance and confidence. The Latina approached with a light lithe step that betrayed no fear. The disruptions among the audience dissipated as the bloodsport they had all come to see was surely seconds away from happening. The Latina didn't have a chance.

The Detroit Mama made her move, launching a sweeping haymaker that would have easily decapitated her opponent had it landed. It didn't. Where the male fighters usually failed to take advantage of their opponents being off-balance, the Latina chick lashed out with shocking surety, kicking the Detroit Mama in the tits. Unlike the male fighters, the Latina chick didn't lose her wind two or three kicks into her onslaught -- she continued with a ferocious, automated rhythm that soon had the mob on its feet cheering, screaming, calling for more, more.

No matter how the Detroit Mama sought to protect herself, the Latina chick continued kicking her in the tits. After a few failed turns and attempts at blocking the blows -- after a couple of dozen kicks -- the Detroit Mama collapsed to one knee. The Latina reset her stance and delivered a crushing blow to her opponent's face. Then another, and another. The Detroit Mama buckled and crumpled to the mat.

The mob was in overheated hysterics, cheering and cheering the untouched Latina chick.

As the sated crowd poured out of Cobo Hall that night, Pryvett & Co. retired to the Detroiter Bar on Beaubien street in Detroit. The place was filled with fight fans reliving the night's entertainment. As Pryvett and Milkman and even Ernst talked and joked about the last fight, Konrad was unusually quiet. None of the guys commented on this, and it was quickly forgotten after that night. And though they continued meeting and hitting the taverns of LaSalle and Windsor and Detroit, never again did Konrad spill another drink on a girl's arm, nor did he ever trick another lovely prospect on her way to the Ladies' Room.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Idiots Are Due on Maple Street

The corporate necktie isn't so much a noose as it is a leash.

-- Pryvett

It was a sunless, muggy day when Pryvett's place of work filled with a strange chittering sound that smothered even the '80's glamrock belching out of the warehouse boombox. The chittering sound grew, perpetuating itself everywhere through Package Handling Company, International, like the coming of a locust plague, the approach of a living sandstorm filled with operatic mites and ticks and fleas.

The un-unemployed of Workplace Inc. shuffled about their discordant ways and looked up as one of their number ran into the warehouse from a hallway that led to the offices.

"They're coming!" the crier cried, breathless. "The idiots are coming!" he moaned. "They're coming this way."

As the crier slunk away amid the motionless rabble of the warehouse, the chittering insectile hum entered the area, followed a moment later by a gaggle of idiots. There was probably half a dozen of them, though their number was difficult to ascertain because of their constant movement.

Before thoughts of escape formed in the green fly-guts brain goo of the un-unemployed of Workplace Inc., the idiots were upon them.

It was an abysmally hot day -- even more tortuously sticky and airless in the warehouse -- and the idiots from Head Office approached, wearing suits and neckties, looking around the place with the parched myopia of newborn babies, seeing everything, understanding nothing. They were like inadvertent wanderers stumbling upon an ancient, alien civilization. The idiots moved in a group as though they shared the same invisible brain or nervous system, operating by radar like bats. All of them incessantly rubbed their hands together as they sweated through their suit jackets.

The idiots circulated through the un-unemployed, stretching the limits of their invisible, idiot manacles. They spoke to the un-unemployed of Workplace Inc. like foreigners practicing their English: "Are... you uh employee here?"
From How to Interact with and Verbally Engage Workplace Rabble Prentice Hall, 1966, page 117 sub-section 11(c): "Try to humanize yourself by speaking on the rabbles' level, with quips and bon mots. The rabble responsible favorably to humor."
Pryvett was roused from his slit-eyed sniper's observation of the scene when he received a spine-straightening slap on the back. He looked to his side and saw a grinning moon-faced idiot who had no pupils in his eyes. "Say fella," the idiot intoned, "do you... feel you make... a difference here?" The idiot's smile broadened, growing exponentially more maniacal. "I once had TB... and I continued to work..."
From How to Interact with and Verbally Engage Workplace Rabble Prentice Hall, 1966, page 231 sub-section 19(f): "Try empathize with the rabble by saying such things as 'I used to work such low-level jobs, too,' whether or not it's true."
A shift manager called the un-unemployed to order as the gaggle of idiots reformed behind her. Pryvett stood near one of the few attractive females of Workplace Inc., a lithe hillbilly chick who had a great body -- perpetually clad in a tight wife-beater tanktop shirts and cutoff shorts -- but who had strangely large, mannish hands and spoke with a disconcertingly masculine voice. She appealed to Pryvett's sensibilities due to the complex attraction/aversion cycle she aroused in him.

The shift manager said: "To celebrate this warehouse going fourteen months without a workplace injury--"

Pryvett thought, Come on! Bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus--

"-- we're going to give each of you a baseball cap and T-shirt to say 'Thanks!'"

The idiots zestily applauded.
From How to Interact with and Verbally Engage Workplace Rabble Prentice Hall, 1966, page 469 sub-section 5(x): "The rabble respond favorably to gifts of trinkets and cheap clothing, which also serve as cost savings measures from actual monetary rewards."
The lithe hillbilly chick said to the paeon next to her, "They should give out tanktops instead of T-shirts!"

The spot ceremony was adjourned, though quickly readjourned. The enthusiasm exuded only moments before by the shift manager was visibly missing, as she said, "Sorry, I had meant to say that you will each receive either a baseball cap or a T-shirt."

A collective rasping, resigned, groan circulated among the un-unemployed of Workplace Inc.

As Pryvett returned to his station to resume the grinding wait until quitting time, he overheard an idiot remarking to a shift supervisor, "Going fourteen months without a workplace injury is fine, but this warehouse is so untidy. You should have the workers sweep up during their breaks."

The insectile hum of the idiots moved from the main area of the Workplace Inc. warehouse the far wall where the punch-clock was mounted. There was a strange intonation of excitement amid the jittering and muttering, as though an issue had been identified. A moment later the idiots began to raise their arms and remove the posters affixed to the bulletin board near the punch-clock -- the workplace motivational posters, the fifth generation photocopied faxes stating the month's productivity numbers, all-caps threats composed by the plant manager regarding pilferage, workplace drunkenness, tardiness, solicitation, mopery and the use of firearms.

An impromptu verdict floated back from the idiots: "This signage has been improperly affixed! These were fastened with two pins per item, but should have been more properly secured with four pins."
From How to Interact with and Verbally Engage Workplace Rabble Prentice Hall, 1966, page 666 sub-section 13(z): "Always, always, always, always -- no matter how pristine the workplace, no matter how competent and motivated and efficient the rabble -- always, always, always find something wrong with the place of work so that a visit may be concluded with a reprimand and promises from the rabble to try and work ever harder."

It takes a corporation to raise a child.

-- Pryvett

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Haris Pilton and the evaporating "Get Out of Jail Free!" Card

From POSTED: 0256 GMT (1056 HKT), June 8, 2007:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- She was taken handcuffed and crying from her home. She was escorted into court disheveled, without makeup, hair askew and face red with tears.

Crying out for her mother when she was ordered back to jail, Paris Hilton's cool, glamorous image evaporated Friday as she gave the impression of a little girl lost in a merciless legal system.

"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton. "Mom!" she called out to Kathy Hilton, who also was in tears.
The sheriff later hinted at a news conference that Hilton had psychological problems, and said she would be watched in jail "so that there isn't anything that is harmfully done to herself by herself."
Yes, the soulless heiress of the Hilton fortune has a psychological disorder. It's called Affluenza, complicated with being a natural born cunt. To the sheriff who freed her (with probable hopes of receiving cash or a blow-job) Haris Pilton's response to jail is what is known in the business as "deterrence." If it was fun going to jail, who would obey the law? And we want people to obey laws -- even over-indulged skanks who have more money than many countries in this world -- because without abeyance to laws, we'd have anarchy.

Pilton's reaction to jail is how most of us would respond to anarchy. So, this little wretch does not get to reorganize our society to suit her whims, she must obey the law like the rest of us.

Special kudos must go to Rick and Kathy Pilton for giving the world this little trainwreck in high heels. The devil himself could not have created a more loathsome, self-absorbed cretin. This socialite-termite-parasite has taken up far too much space in our collective consciousness. All we can hope is that when her jail sentence is completed that she immediately reoffend and crash her BMW into a bronze statue of Zsa Zsa Gabor, wiping herself, Haris Pilton, out once and for all.

I wish every ill upon the house of Hilton. Every pox and affliction. This toilet spawn known as Haris Pilton will hopefully spend eternity in a hereafter inside a Dollar Store with no exits or cellphone coverage.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

bacon; charity

I was possessed by the Holy Spirit today at work -- realizing that my first anniversary is approaching, I got thinking that I'd like to mark the occasion in a special way. Going out for lunch with colleagues is always fun, but I'm the type who wants to leave this world a better place than how I found it, and one more Thai lunch in my system won't do much in the way of that. Then came an idea, which prompted me to write an email message:
To: cafeteria_person@workplace.yah

From: myself@workplace.yah

Subject: bacon; charity

I have what may seem like a strange question, but I am genuinely curious – how much would a stainless steel bin of bacon cost me?

I go to the cafeteria each morning for coffee and the smell of the bacon is unbelievable. My first anniversary is approaching and I would like perform a small charity event where I would eat a bin of cafeteria bacon in order to raise awareness.

If the cost is outlandish, I may have to rethink my small celebration.

The stainless steel bin holds, probably, a couple hundred strips of bacon. With the right amount of coffee, air conditioning and Grand Funk Railroad cassette tapes, I could eat the entire thing handily.

My idea is to expand the event somewhat and have local celebrities sit at the table with me in ten-minute increments. My personal picks would be news anchor Carolyn Clifford, former Detroit Piston Kelly Tripucka, sports commentator George Blaha, A-Channel weather woman Julie Atchison, newswoman Anna Vlachos, and D.O.C.'s famous Richard Goldman -- who would be most welcome to show up in a muscle shirt and do one-arm push-ups near the table.

My wife says that if I do perform this act of charity, I can't go home that evening. It amazes me that she even doubts I could eat a stainless steel bin of bacon. Actually, she doesn't really doubt that I could do, she's just not will to witness the consequences. But I don't foresee any unusual physical complications. I not only plan to work through the rest of that anniversay day following the bacon-charity-eat, but having lunch, as well. Maybe Thai food.

For some reason the binful of bacon is a greater distractor than I would have guessed. People who hear about my tentative plan are focused on the feat itself and not on the most important detail -- raising awareness for charity. As one wise friend and colleague stated today, "The awareness isn't going to raise itself." Too true, too true. If a binful of bacon and I can make some small dent in that, I would consider the feat a roaring success.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

God Created Yuppie Parents ... and Then Wept

Before he'd even had his first shit of the day, God already knew that he would create the universe and numerous worlds within it -- among them a particularly hemorrhoidal little globe whose inhabitants would name it "Earth." He also knew that Earth wouldn't really work out, that he would then use this pristine foreknowledge to pre-empt all the problems that would mar Earth, but realized the malicious psychoses of Earth's inhabitants would simply bleed around all the changes and amendments made to fix the problems. Finally, God just thought, "Fuck it."

During this fit of foreknowledge, God also saw that he would create a man named Job and would torment the hell out of him at the goading of Satan. God felt bad about this, thought of simply never letting the shameful episode happen, then came up with an idea to really poke a stick in Satan's eye: God would create yuppie parents, the most loving, giving, life-promoting, open-minded people of all his creation.

God was so caught up with sticking it to Satan that he believed his own momentary fantasy about them rather than his flat-panel-clear-foreknowledge of yuppie parents' true nature.

After flushing the toilet, God mixed his first Rusty Nail of the day -- the notion that one should never booze alone or before noon had not yet been created; God would create that last of all. He sat down at his large, cartoonist's drawing table and decided that he would create Earth that day.

Maybe it was the quality of his bowel movement, maybe the precise measurements of his Rusty Nail were off, or maybe God simply got carried away wanting to fuck with Satan. Whatever it was, God decided that he would create a pair of yuppie parents, right on the spot, to consult on the creation of Earth.

Upon gaining consciousness in God's workshop, the first thing Mackenzie and Brayden asked for was a low-fat grande green tea macchiato with a spritz of goat's milk, a venti half-decaf latte with no-fat milk and jasmine-flavored cereal bars.

God looked upon his creation. Rather than thinking "It is good," something in him wondered just what the fuck he had done.

He gave them each tumblers brimming with cloudy tap water and a bowl of shelled peanuts, instead.

(Although God did not create the child who was necessary to make Mackenzie and Brayden literal parents, he did implant in their minds the full knowledge and experience of their two year old daughter, Neveah, who was spending the weekend with her maternal grandmother.)

God sketched out the basic look and feel of Earth for Mackenzie and Brayden. Luckily, God was an excellent illustrator, so the yuppies caught on to his aesthetic very quickly. When God began explaining the physical laws governing Earth, however, Mackenzie and Brayden frowned and shook their heads.

God stopped. "What?" he said with more impatience than he intended.

A pained look came over Mackenzie's pixie face, "Well," she said -- more a whine than an actual word. She spoke with maddening hesitancy. "You know this 'gravity' that's going to keep everything stuck to Earth? I don't know if you really thought this through enough."

God stared at her, stunned, annoyed.

"I don't think you realize," said Brayden in the identical pussified tone of his wife, "that this 'gravity' might keep cars on the road, but it might also cause little Neveah to fall off a swing or off her bike. That would be dangerous."

"We can't have that!" Mackenzie burst in. "Children are the hope of the future!"

Brayden nodded and said, "Safety first."

As God explained the intricacies of the human anatomy and its numerous redundant fail-safe systems for balance and dexterity, Mackenzie interrupted. "Could we go back to how people will populate Earth in the first place?"

God gaped.

Brayden said, "I don't think you realize just how filthy some of our body parts really are. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy urinating through my penis immensely, but how are we ever going to explain to little Neveah all the workings of her vagina -- that monthly bleeding thing, gallopian tubes --"

"Fallopian," God corrected.

"-- and how boys are going to want to touch her breasts?" Brayden bristled. "Did you ever think how uncomfortable this is going to be for me and Mackenzie?"

God explained the need for strong sexual attraction among human beings in order for the race to perpetuate itself.

Mackenzie interrupted: "I think I got a little ahead of myself. The first thing of all we should discuss is 'death.' Yeah, that just doesn't work for me. I mean, life is precious, it's a blessing -- why would you want to kill a blessing? I don't understand."

Brayden opened his mouth and said, "I don't think you realize what it will be like trying to explain 'death' to little Neveah. Do you really want to create a world where she might see her beloved Nana lying dead in a coffin?"

"Yes, I must really object to that," Mackenzie said, tears coming to her eyes. "It's completely inappropriate for children, and very upsetting to me. Didn't you ever consider our feelings?"

"And if 'gravity' keeps cars on the road, and gravity keeps people on the ground," Brayden said, growing heated, "have you considered what might happen if the driver of a car doesn't see little Neveah crossing a street?" His voice broke as he said "street."

Mackenzie's hand flew to her mouth. She glared at God. "If a driver didn't see little Neveah, that would mean... oh goodness --"

"What kind of psychopath are you?" Brayden said to God.

"And what about disease?" Mackenzie cried. "What kind of degenerate would want a child to become sick? Possibly even sick enough to die?"

"Yeah," Brayden said, rubbing Mackenzie's thigh. "I think you're way off-base with this entire world."

God explained the intricacies and redundant fail-safe systems comprising the human immune system.

"I don't think you realize," Brayden said, "that Neveah could get a sniffle and innocently -- and so adorably -- wipe her nose with her hand --"

"As children will do!" Mackenzie blurted. "They're just children after all!"

"-- and how she could wipe bacteri-ites --"

"Bacteria," God said.

"-- on her nose. She could inhale these and the next thing we know she's got brain cancer!"

"What kind of monster are you?" Mackenzie screeched at God.

"You're no one I'd want within a hundred yards of little Neveah," Brayden said, putting his arm around Mackenzie's shoulder. "You've got some very sick ideas."

"Sick!" Mackenzie wailed.

"Killing children, ejaculation, afterbirth smeared on babies' heads, cancer, gravity," Brayden said, his voice rising with every word. "You ought to be locked up!"

"Somebody should put a microchip under your skin so we can track your movements," Mackenzie wept.

Brayden rose from his chair and helped Mackenzie to her feet. They walked toward the door. At the door, Brayden turned -- Mackenzie cowering brokenly against him. "Yeah, and by the way, those animals you're thinking of creating -- they look ridiculous. Walking around on four legs and covered with hair? They're absolutely pornographic!"

Brayden and Mackenzie showed themselves out of God's house.

God sat at his cartoonist's drawing table looking after them. He felt a sinus headache coming on. He was suddenly very glad he'd said nothing about his son, Jesus, to the yuppie parents.

God rose to make himself another Rusty Nail. Later he would go into his backyard, shovel up some dog shit and throw it over the fence onto Satan's property. That would have to suffice for revenge for the moment.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Persistence of Pryvett

Autumn in Windsor, 1982. Book-learning resumed on the university campus and history majors and film students were a-buzz with the viewing of Triumph of the Will, German director Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda documentaries on the 1936 Nazi Nuremberg Rallies. Anticipation was heightened by letters of protest appearing in the campus newspaper, The Lance, from a Jewish group denouncing the screening.

As with all such protestations against film and other art forms, the modest outcry against showing Triumph of the Will ensured every seat in the Lambton Tower auditorium was filled.

Among the audience was Pryvett Rawgers, pompadour in full fall bryl brilliance.

The mood in the auditorium was a mix of amped-up academic anticipation, a strange, silent solemnity and carnival gawkery -- the air charged like an electric fence being urinated upon by a dog.

The man making the presentation, Reg Hart, was renowned for his collection of underground films: racist Warner Bros. cartoons, surrealist works by Salvador Dali, as well as reels of raw propaganda. He was famous among repertory theatres throughout Ontario as much for his exhaustive collection as for his iron-clad contracts -- you hired one of Reg Hart's films, you get its proprietor and his introductions to the films. No negotiation.

"You don't like it," Reg was known to say, "I'll just take my film and go home!"

As repertory theatres disappeared through the 1970s, Reg eventually had audiences of strangers into his house to view his collection.

And on this occasion, the University of Windsor had brought him to town for a couple of days.

As Reg took the podium at the front of the crowded hall, a few latecomers straggled in. One of them was a girl with a half-shaved head; the stubble side decorated with patches of color.

"Hey man," Pryvett's friend muttered, elbowing Pryvett in the ribs, "is that a feminist or a cheetah? I can't tell!" To which Pryvett brayed laughter; the incendiary, suppressed laughter that threatens to break out at churches, during funerals -- wherever and whenever laughter is verboten.

Reg Hart glared into the audience, immediately picking out Pryvett. "You, in the third row!" Reg shouted. "Do you think Nazism is funny?"

"Of course not!" Pryvett said, slowly regaining his composure.

"I don't think you should be here."

"Hey, I paid my money," Pryvett said. "I've been waiting to see this film for a long time!"

"It's my film," Reg spat, "and I'm not going to show it to someone who thinks this is funny."

"Look, I'll move to the back so I won't distract you," Pryvett said, beginning to rise.

"Fuck you, Reg!" someone called out. "You're the fucking Nazi, trying to tell this guy what to do!"

"Yeah," other voices joined in.

Pryvett remained in his seat.

"Why don't you sit down Hitler and just show the goddamned movie?!"

At which point several people jumped to their feet, giving Nazi salutes, shouting, "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"

Under the cover of the chaos, Pryvett left his seat and retreated further back in the auditorium. He laughed to himself thinking that the girl with the half-shaved head had no idea the commotion had all began with a joke about her peacock scalp.

Reg Hart shouted into his microphone, "If this doesn't stop right now, I'm taking my film and going home!"

The audience quieted and someone said, "Hey, see, the guy left, so you can continue."

Seeing the seat of the offending miscreant in the third row was, indeed, vacated, Reg Hart continued with his lengthy introduction and Triumph of the Will was finally shown.

The following day the headline on the front page of The Lance read: "Ruckus at Nazi Film Screening!" Classmates of Pryvett's asked him, "Was that you?" To which Pryvett replied, "Uh, no, it was some agitators from the Humane Society."

That evening Pryvett returned to the Lambton Tower auditorium for a screening of a Salvador Dali film. This time Pryvett wore a baseball cap over his distinctive pompadour. However, the moment he entered among the crowd, Reg Hart, standing by the podium, scrutinizing the audience, pointed and shouted, "You!"

Caught, Pryvett approached Reg and explained the nature of his laughter the previous evening. In the calmer air of the second evening's screening, he accepted Pryvett's explanation and they agreed to meet for a Löwenbräu at the campus pub after Dali's The Persistence of Memory.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Little Baby Pain-in-the-Ass's One Second of Fame

Is there any question that the yuppie parents of Little Baby Pain-in-the-Ass are right now launching lawsuits against the breakdancer, the city of New York, the Transit Authority, the creators of breakdancing, the maker of the breakdancer's shoes, the maker of the laces, the estate of the inventor of subway platforms, the artist whose music the breakdancer was dancing to, every single onlooker, every single employee of the subway system, all employees of the world's subway systems, the maker of gravity, the parents of the breakdancer for conceiving and raising him, the estate of the creator of concrete, the United States of America, the estates of the Founding Fathers, Youtube, every ISP whose customer viewed the video, the cameraman who took the video, the maker of the camera that captured this video, me for posting it here...?

Because, doubtless in the mindless voids behind the foreheads of Little Baby Pain-in-the-Ass's parents, all of these named and many, many more are to blame for what was filmed here.

Everyone except themselves.

That's the beauty of being a North American -- you're never responsible for anything, least of all for your own actions.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Oprah Winfrey gives millions of dollars a year to charities. But by god, does she take, as well.

Today I saw her show on which a woman who had been abused for two years by her husband, and a harrowing 51-minute video of this abuse shot by her own thirteen year old son, was the subject of the day. And the show was Oprah at her most sanctimonious and master-of-the-obvious best.

First, it was wonderful of Oprah to maintain a level of normality during this emotionally draining show by keeping the number of commercial interruptions at their usual fever pitch. She wouldn't want her viewers to think domestic abuse was a reality and fear the sky was falling. So, phew, the commercials kept the viewing audience grounded in its superficial, consumerist quicksand.

The subject of the show was a woman named Susan Still. She married a man who revealed himself to be a brute, whose verbal and physical abuse of her was stomach-turning, rage-inducing, humiliating and Oprah-ready. Oprah played lengthy excerpts of the bizarre video Ms. Still's son made of her abuse -- Ms. Still standing, silent, motionless, in the living room while her Neanderthal husband verbally berated her; then footage of her being kicked and stepped on as she lay crying on the bedroom floor.

It was agonizing, sobering stuff.

Midway through the show, breaking for yet another damnable commercial, Oprah trumpeted the next segment -- when her guest's three children were commanded by their father to call their mother a "white slut ho" over and over. Oprah announced this as though it meant Tom Cruise would soon be onstage dancing sock-footed on her couch. All the while, a clearly traumatized Susan Still sat next to Oprah, looking like she expected her ex-husband to come slithering in from offstage. The disconnect between the two women could not have been more ugly or pronounced.

As Oprah gallantly announced at the end of each commercial break that today was the day she wanted the abused among her zombie horde to begin making their plans to escape their abusers, she showed clips of Susan Still's abuse as though they were Hollywood trailers, and then assailed her guest with the most maddening, obvious, condescending questions: "When your kids were calling you a ‘white slut ho,’ how did you feel?" "What did you do?" as though to say, I hope you marched over to that rotten husband of yours and slapped his lousy face!

When Susan Still meekly stated that she had once seen an episode of Oprah dealing with domestic abuse, Oprah took the opportunity to make a joke about Ms. Still's predicament: "I'm surprised you were allowed to watch the show..." (audience laughs). Then Oprah looked at the camera and addressed her abused zombie horde: "Watch Oprah in secret." More laughs from the audience.

There is no doubt today's Oprah may well inspire some battered people to escape their brutish partners. But what a gnawing, ham-handed program one had to sit through in order for that to happen.

Yes, Oprah Winfrey gives much to the world, but goddamn does she take. The type of exploitation she peddles is most sickening because it's done under the guise of "helping." But there is something utterly unwholesome and un-nourishing about all those execrable tampon commercials shoe-horned between glimpses into human misery.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Reparations Refereeing

The New York Times recently published news of "[a]n academic study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs continue tonight, suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed on the basketball court as well." The conclusion was that white referees are more apt to call black players for fouls, than white players.
. . . Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at Penn's Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, said the difference in calls "is large enough that the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial composition of the refereeing crew."

The study, conducted over a 13-season span through 2004, found that the racial makeup of a three-man officiating crew affected calls by up to 4½ percent. More...
After reading this article, I swung into action to correct this wretched injustice being perpetrated against these unwary steroidal millionaires. I have approached NBA commissioner David Stern (and have yet to officially hear back from him, but he will doubtless endorse and take up my ideas) about "refereeing reparations."

The way these reparations will work is -- for the next five years (seasons) no fouls will be called against black NBA players. If a situation arises where one black player appears to foul another black player (according to the racist rules of the game before the reparation seasons), a tribunal made up of delegates from African nations at the U.N. and former black NBA players will render real-time decisions from New York.

Where reparations refereeing really gets down to correcting past injustices is the reevaluation all previous championships. The number of fouls assigned to black players will be brought into balance with the number of fouls attributed to white players. To make amends for the years of wrongs, all fouled black players will be given an additional free-throw. Because it's impossible to travel back in time, their free-throw averages will be used to calculate how many of those additional free-throws they would have made, and all game scores will be adjusted accordingly.

A bank of 300 Rancour 1188 Quintuple Core computers has been working on this job of recalculating the actual scores of these past seasons. Most importantly, all past championships will be awarded to their proper winners (purists might be somewhat put out to find teams assigned championships in years before they formally existed, and other teams being awarded championships after they ceased to exist. If we're going to right a wrong, the purists are just going to have to live with this):

1946–47 Philadelphia

1947–48 Baltimore

1948–49 Minneapolis

1949–50 Minneapolis

1950–51 Rochester

1951–52 Minneapolis

1952–53 Minneapolis

1953–54 Minneapolis

1954–55 Syracuse

1955–56 Philadelphia

1956–57 Detroit

1957–58 St. Louis

1958–59 Detroit

1959–60 Detroit

1960–61 Detroit

1961–62 Detroit

1962–63 Detroit

1963–64 Detroit

1964–65 Detroit

1965–66 Detroit

1966–67 Philadelphia

1967–68 Detroit

1968–69 Detroit

1969–70 New York

1970–71 Milwaukee

1971–72 Baltimore

1972–73 New York

1973–74 Detroit

1974–75 Golden State

1975–76 Detroit

1976–77 Portland

1977–78 Washington

1978–79 Seattle

1979–80 Baltimore

1980–81 Detroit

1981–82 Baltimore

1982–83 Philadelphia

1983–84 Detroit

1984–85 Baltimore

1985–86 Detroit

1986–87 Baltimore

1987–88 Baltimore

1988–89 Detroit

1989–90 Detroit

1990–91 Chicago

1991–92 Chicago

1992–93 Chicago

1993–94 Houston

1994–95 Houston

1995–96 Chicago

1996–97 Chicago

1997–98 Chicago

1998–99 Detroit

1999-2000 Baltimore

2000-01 Baltimore

2001-02 Baltimore

2002-03 Detroit

It's my hope that the NBA will soon sit down with Paul Wolfowitz of the World Bank to begin negotiating the massive transfer of championship bonuses and championship rings to their rightful recipients. We cannot pick and choose who deserves justice in this world. Steroidal millionaires are just as worthy of our sympathy and proactive problem-solving as the residents or refugees of any impoverished nation.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who is at the wheel?

Imagine you're on a roadtrip with three other people. On the highway, you're sitting in the backseat of the car, reading a magazine. The guy in the front passenger seat is trying to find something good on the radio. The guy sitting next to you in the backseat has dozed off.

While engrossed in your magazine -- maybe a copy of The Realist or The National Daily Conservative Review -- the car you're riding in is involved in a collision: you don't see the details of the accident as they unfold, your senses are simply jarred by the crunch of the fibreglass sheathing the styrafoam bumper; the hood buckling; the awful sudden stop, the sound of breaking glass. And all you know is that you've dropped your magazine, your collarbone is sore where the seatbelt locked against you; there's a cloud of powder from the exploded airbags floating in the car.

Miraculously, no one in your car is hurt.

For the sake of this analogy, let's jump ahead of all the insurance rigermarole, police, and all those inconveniences, to the resumption of your roadtrip: You've got a new rental car and you and your group are ready to hit the highway again. . .

. . . but the guy who was driving when the accident occurred refuses to relinquish the car keys. He insists on continuing to drive.

Before the roadtrip began, you and your car-mates drew straws and the guy who was driving when the accident occurred had been the winner and asserts that this gives him the right to continue.

"But you got us in that accident," one of the other guys says, "so that nullifies you winning the straw-draw."

"Yeah," another guy says, "Whether it was your fault or not, I don't trust you at the wheel."

To which the driver responds, "It's because I was driving when the accident happened that I should continue driving. Had one of you been at the wheel, the accident would have been much worse!"

And here is where we are at with American politics during the long, long run-up to the 2008 presidential election.

We have former NYC mayer, Rudy Giulliani, claiming that because he was at the helm of New York when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, that he is somehow more qualified to protect the country than any other candidate. This is the same specious logic that George W. Bush used for the 2004 election. It made no sense then, it makes no sense now, and yet these candidates are not only putting forth this ridiculous argument, some people actually agree with it.

There is no question that America, and the world in general, is much less safe since George W. Bush took hold of the White House in 2000. His wrong-headed war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, America's consistent flouting of international law, America's lust for torture, are the greatest recruitment tools any enemy of America could hope for to help with rounding up fresh crazies. On a more concrete level, having people in power who stretch the country's military to (and beyond) its breaking point, spread painfully, dangerously thin around the world -- so much so that when America needs its own resources (think: Hurricane Katrina), those resources are missing or sorely lacking -- that strengthens and emboldens "Das Enemy." Pursuing foreign policy goals that make the rest of the free world think the U.S. is crazy is dangerous for America.

I heard Giulliani on the Sean Inanity radio program the other afternoon slinging these un-truisms like an Alabama short-order cook slings hash. And Inanity ate it up, of course.

No, keeping the guy at the wheel who was driving when you crashed in the first place is a bad idea. Talk is cheap, but it's cheap talk that leads to lost lives. Ask those 700,000 dead Iraqi civilians about that.

Oh, right, you can't . . . because they're dead.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rich Little to perform at the White House Correspondents Association's dinner

It was a year ago that the world beheld the landmark performance of Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. Standing only a few feet from the American Butcher in Chief, Colbert's genius was on full display, ranking in my opinion right up there with Jonthan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and Lenny Bruce's "Christ and Moses." His comments were among the most piercing, hilarious and honest remarks made about BushCo. Later, however, the very media honoring itself that night proved once more its relevance to the public by almost uniformly declaring Colbert's exceedingly funny performance "not funny." Some went so far as to say that Colbert "bombed" -- doubtless an unintentional pun giving W.'s bewildered proximity to the happenings.

The reaction of the press reminds me of a scene from the second season of All in the Family during a flashback to Mike and Gloria's wedding preparations. Bigot Archie Bunker meets Mike's Uncle Kasimir, a huge, strapping man who was once a marine, but became a florist upon returing to civilian life after WWII. Archie does not like Uncle Kas on first sight and says, "Yeah, well we used to think the marines were pretty funny." To which Uncle Kas responds, "Yeah? Well, we used to think the Air Corps. was funny." Archie's face clouds: "I was in the Air Corps. What the hell's funny about the Air Corps.?"

And that was precisely the response of the press to Colbert's brilliant performance. But at least the press was consistent, treating Colbert's remarks with all of the blind-eyed superficiality it has treated the increasingly suspicious 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Short shrift is the new journalistic mantra in North America. Lowering debate to the level of irrelevance is the only function these makers of birdcage liners serve.

Well, old Steve Scully, president of the White house Correspondents Association -- unlike the Bush administration -- refuses to make the same mistake twice. This year he has booked legendary comic Rich Little to perform at the dinner. Scully's first choice for the evening was Bob Hope, but Hope's tour of Hell has been such a raging success, he was simply unavailable for the engagement -- there are more former U.S. presidents on his current tour than on earth.
Rich Little says: "I don't know why I was invited [to perform at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner], perhaps they wanted a different type of comedian this year.... But I did the dinner in 1984 when Reagan was president. I loved him, he was the best audience in the world."

"For Steve Scully of C-Span,. the president of the White house Correspondents Association, this is a game where you can neither win nor lose, no matter what you do. He chose Little this year and had a hand in picking Colbert last year."

"'I picked Rich Little because I think he is funny,' Scully said in an interview..."
And no one knows funny like Steve Scully, voted in his high school year book as Most Likely to Marry a Rubber Chicken. The hilarious part? He actually did!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fux Spews Obiturates Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

First and foremost, any journalist who works for any arm of Fux Spews has zero journalistic integrity. They enjoy being dictated to by the ideologues running their rancid money-making machine, and are so lacking in character and personal content, that they joyfully spew -- hence the name of the network -- all manner of bullshit, so long as it is contrary to reality and fed to them by King W.'s administration.

Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Sean Hannity, Geraldo Rivera, Bill O'Reilly -- all industry jokes, bums with wretched reputations, all of whom jumped onto the Fux bandwagon as quickly as contracts and lawyers allowed, all readily identifying themselves as utterly untrustworthy voices.

Ever see the documentary Outfoxed? It shows that the more people view Fux Spews, the less these viewers know about the subjects reported upon. And this week:
Pew Survey Finds Most Aware Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert'-- and Visit Newspaper Sites ... Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly.
So, when hack, ass-licker, soulless chump James Rosen "obiturated" Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., this week, it was done with all the callous, misanthropic bile we have come to know and love from Fux Spews despondents.

It was unequivocally a "good riddance to bad rubbish" obituary -- the sort that every Fux lackey listed above will enjoy upon his demise. Yes, Vonnegut himself at one time described some of his early work as "sci-fi mumbo-jumbo" and quite possibly as the quoted "despondent leftism." But there is no excuse for the mean-spirited final line of this lousy obituary when Rosen quoted Vonnegut as once saying that he hoped upon his death his children wouldn't say of him that he told funny jokes, but was such an unhappy man. "So, I'll say it for them," Rosen droned. Will you, now, Rosen? Only a Fux Spews despondent would presume to speak on behalf of the family of a dead American institution.

What. A. Fucking. Asshole.

But what can one expect from that landfill of a spew network?

I first learned of this hatchet-job obituary on where quite a discussion string has grown throughout the day. There are people defending Lackey Rosen and Fux Spews. No, these contemptible phillistines should not be applauded or even tolerated. The only consolation is that since archivists around the world agree that this will be the least remembered era in human history -- our magnetic media is not constructed to last more than a few decades -- that Fux Spews will be recalled with all the force and clarity of the great lost nation of antiquity, Contagia. Ever hear of Contagia and its society of soccer-playing floutists?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was one of the few famous people I wish I would have personally met. There are many artists whose work means much to me -- Van Morrison, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Neil Young -- whom I have no desire to meet. Hunter S. Thompson was the leader in that category while alive. It was often entertaining reading about his antics, but I never wanted to be within a thousand miles of the man.

It was different with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., whom I always thought of simply as Vonnegut.

Slaughterhouse Five was the first Vonnegut novel I ever read. After the first twenty pages, I thought it was a terrible book. The narrative was nothing more than the author speaking directly to the reader. I was such a stranger to art in my early days that I had no clue that this would, actually, become one of the aspects of Vonnegut's writing that I would most love.

Reading Kurt Vonnegut made me feel better about not knowing what I was doing when attempting my own writing. Vonnegut kept his insecurities in the foreground as his genius powered his work in the background. The second Vonnegut novel I read was Mother Night. Of course my underdeveloped sense of appreciation for subtlety and artfulness was momentarily unimpressed by the book's simplicity. But as the plot unfolded, I remember being knocked out of my chair by the story. When I finished reading the book, I was hooked.

This hasn't kept me from doubting Vonnegut on occasion. I continue to doubt him when trying to get through Hocus Pocus. I doubted him mightly at times in Galapagos and Dead-Eye Dick. As Vonnegut would readily admit: Nobody is perfect -- the writer nor the reader.

On my first visit to Ireland when I was twenty years old, I had limited space among my possessions, but still brought along Vonnegut's collection of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House. The story "Long Walk to Forever" was like a lightning strike inside of me. And the distraction was very welcome, as I gone to Dublin simply to go to Dublin, and within hours of arriving wondered just what the hell I was doing so far away from home. It worked out in the end.

Years later, while living in Ireland, a good friend came to visit. The day before he left, he bought me a book as a gift to say thanks for having him over. Saying thanks to me! I was so gratified having my friend with me for two weeks that I took him out, got drunk and vomited on his shoes. The book my friend bought me was Vonnegut's last novel, Timequake. The novel is not considered one of Vonnegut's best, though it's among my favorites. It's so flawed and Vonnegut was so upfront about its flaws -- mitigating for them with wonderful updates on the actual people who had populated his previous books. There was nothing more heartrending than reading Vonnegut's beloved, revered brother, Bernie, had died at the age of eighty-six. I reread Timequake last year and it has held up marvelously.

I saw Vonnegut when he appeared on The Daily Show last year. It was terrible seeing how feeble and aged Vonnegut had become; how miserably out of breath he was. But he proved the youth and vigor of his ideas, the still-polished-chrome of his humor. He was as relevant that day as when Slaughterhouse Five hit the bestseller lists in 1969.

Last year I read Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan, and Slapstick for the first time. I've owned strange little hardback editions of these books for years, found in the early 1990s in a Detroit used bookstore. I had started the novels numerous times, but set them aside for something else. But last year I was determined to give them one final try. All three were wonderful. Vonnegut the short story writer was much more in evidence in the first two novels, both written early in his career. They are very tight and to-the-point. The humor is more subtle in those. By the time of Slapstick Vonnegut was much looser on the page.

In 1992, I did a "directed reading" in the English department of the University of Windsor. I had dropped a creative writing course and wanted to make up the credit. My directed reading centered on Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Mother Night and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. My professor -- a Vonnegut-esque character in his own right; a sweetly morose poet who watched The Simpsons and flipped through his wife's Victoria's Secret catalog when not perpetrating academics -- really bailed me out consenting to lead my directed reading. At that time in my life I was living with a girlfriend in a rented room in a shitty house. I sat in the dank, foot-smelling living room with my books and photocopies of articles about Vonnegut from The Dictionary of Literary Biography.

While writing my paper on those three novels, I had the distinct impression that Vonnegut would have been embarrassed for me. Vonnegut, himself, only ever read for pleasure. He never sought to prove he understood a book by writing about it. That's just what I was doing. By it was one of the few truly pleasurable assignments of my academic career. So much so that the latent Catholic in me felt a little guilty about the whole thing.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., has died and I have yet to read "So it goes" in any of his obituraries. I hope I don't read that anywhere. The loss of Vonnegut is immense. For all of the turmoil and triumph in his life, he is one of the few people I've encountered -- personaly or via their work -- who communicated true values all human beings could live by. He was no preacher, no prosletyzer, he was just very wise and equally humble. One of my favorite quotes of Vonnegut's comes from his novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:
"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies — 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'"

Monday, April 09, 2007

Don Imus: There's no There There

I've heard the name "Don Imus" here and there over the years, getting himself into the news on the rare occasion by saying something terrible on his radio show. I never found the quotes attributed to him interesting enough to check him out, but during a recent vacation to Florida I watched his radio show (a bizarre concept in and of itself) on MSNBC. What I found was a ridiculous muttering man propped up at a microphone, his drawn face looking like the wax melting from the skull of museum dummy, with an even more ridiculous cowboy hat perched on his head and his beyond-ridiculous moppy hair sticking out from underneath. He carried on a banal repartee with a Paul Schafer wannabe in the studio. The rest of the assorted crew laughed intermittently when nothing funny was said. Then, every once in a while the camera would center on Imus who made an awkward gesture at the viewing audience with a gnarled finger, ushering in a procession of commercials. He does this to let the viewing audience know he hasn't expired utterly at the microphone. He's merely in a functioning coma, not rigor mortis.

What did Imus talk about on his show while I watched? Nothing that I can remember. Being fluent in English, I easily deciphered his affected mumbling; I understood the words that came out of his mouth. They simply did not engage me on any level, either positively or negatively. In fact, Imus was intensely more dull than the commercials that bookended his show.

Years ago, I saw an interview with Don Imus. I forget what the occasion was or who conduted the interviewer. But there sat Don Imus before the camera with a distinct expression of tharn in his muddled gaze -- deer-trapped-in-headlights expression. He muttered one-word answers to the interviewer as though he was from some other culture and had no concept of being asked questions by a stranger while being filmed. He seemed stunned and slow-witted, possibly hungover. At one point, the interviewer asked Imus if there was anyone in the world he loved. It seemed a stupid question, a softball lob that a more thorny and alert personality would have leapt all over. But Imus just stared warily into the camera like a rancher in 1903 regarding a bank manager. He muttered without moving his lips, "Ma-brudder." Don Imus loves his brother. It was a strange, humanizing moment -- a moment in which Imus needed to humanize himself because up until then he seemed like some inflated something that was merely losing air.

So, Don Imus, alleged titan of morning radio, recently uttered racials slurs. In typical Imus form, these comments were of a dull, inelegant nature -- not that there is an elegant way in which a person can reveal himself to be a racist. The words fell from his mouth with the muted thud of turds landing on a tiled floor. "Nappy headed hos" Imus called the girls of the Rutugers womens basketball team. For a man who's made a career out of saying terrible things, this observation of his was not only terrible, but launched at a completely undeserving target. Damn right, Imus should be fired. From what I saw and heard of him, how is it that he's still employed?

Good on Al Sharpton pulling Imus' pants down about this. Unfortunately, given the elaborate slickness -- and laughable pointlessness -- of the televised version of Imus' show there's clearly too much money in the man (how? why? who the hell knows!) for him to be fired. Hence the flaccid slap on the wrist his employer gave him -- a two week suspension. Lying in bed at home or sitting before the microphone in that science fiction radio studio, I don't think Imus will really know the difference. There's no there there. Which makes him a hard target to wring any justice from.