Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Matthew McConaughey & Cyanide Certified DVDs

Hi, I'm Matthew McConaughey, the Richard Gere of my acting generation. Sure, I was awesome in Dazed & Confused, but that was a long time ago and just one of those things we call flukes. Since then, I've let my douche-flag fly in such hits -- all of which have afforded me numerous opportunities to take off my shirt -- as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Fool's Gold, Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and a stack of others arranged for me by Celebrity Welfare Services of Burbank, California.

That's why I'm here to tell you about Cyanide Certified DVDs and their Shill Edition series of my movies. Each Cyanide Certified DVD comes with a genuine cyanide caplet that's guaranteed to kill within five minutes of swallowing. My movies aren't for everyone -- at least for anyone who has a penis, any connection to reality, or taste, or has not recently suffered a brain injury, or ever seen films outside of the North Korean film industry -- so Cyanide Certified DVDs and I want to give you that much-needed "out" when you're faced with having to watching one of my movies.

Just because I'm only in it for the money, doesn't mean you are.

So, the next time your loved one recommends watching one of my movies, make sure it's a Cyanide Certified DVD from the Shill Edition series. Your life depends on it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

North America 2071: The Path Paved by Yuppie Parenting

"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut

Who knows where it really began?

No one disputes, however, that there were signs along the way: poorly performing students no longer held back to repeat grades they'd "failed;" trophies handed out to everyone who participated in athletic events; parents going with their college-aged kids to campus, standing in line with them at the Registrar's Office, sitting in classes for them when they were ill, telephoning and haranguing professors who dared give their beloved children grades based merely upon essays and exam scores; parents who attended job interviews with their grown children, who telephoned and harangued their children's bosses for not allowing them access to Facebook, and other Web sites, while at work.

Most experts agree, it was probably the thing with trophies and dismantling the central purpose of athletic competition, that caused the collapse. No winners. No losers. Nothing but self-indulgent yuppie parents patting themselves on the back for their devotion to humanity.

And so it came to pass -- much sooner than the makers of the film Idiocracy ever dreamed possible -- that all strictures based upon ability and achievement were removed from society, particularly from the workplace. It was a victory for overbearing, narcissistic parents everywhere. Strangely, this new system purposefully devoid of winners and losers seemed to inadvertently breed an inordinate number of losers.

Like the passengers of GloboFly flight 107 and those of FlyNow flight 820 over Laguardia Airport in New York, in April 2070, when their respective jets collided mid-air because air traffic controllers were no longer hired based upon ability, but upon desire. Hiring based upon ability had been deemed discriminatory. As one labor crusader -- and former yuppie parent -- Estelle Gardener shouted at a Hire Now! rally, "Just because a person lacks the ability to do the job doesn't mean they shouldn't be hired for the job!"

Pandering politicians everywhere heard that plea and mobilized.

Pampered, over-indulged kids who had once entertained themselves by pulling the wings off of flies and torturing animals found themselves among the ranks of medical professionals when they reached adulthood. All the excuses given by their deluded parents when defending their children's deviant, anti-social behavior rose in a single voice, which pandering politicians obeyed. In 2071, the Surgeon General of the United States was Dr. Braden MacIntosh. His parents had long stood by him, explaining Dr. Braden's years of impromptu animal vivisections on the front lawn as "Braden merely expressing himself!" Dismissing the countless instances of sexual molestation he visited upon neighborhood children as "Braden simply experimenting!" And waving away repeated warnings about Dr. MacIntosh's propensity for self-mutilation as "Braden's just emotional!"

Those explanations were small comfort to the families of the hundreds of patients who underwent (most dying during) painful, unnecessary, rarely anesthetized surgeries performed by Dr. MacIntosh in O.R.s across the country. But in this brave new world where personal desire trumped the public good, Dr. MacIntosh's detractors could, in the words of his father, "Take a chill pill and get a life!"

Courtrooms filled with lawyers whose only qualification was their desire to wear expensive suits and carry expensive briefcases. As the pampered, over-indulged children and grandchildren of judges and lawyers, their fantasies were legislated double-quick-time by pandering politicians.

"When a law is born out of love," said former Justice Radcliff Theophany of the United States Supreme Court, "how can it be wrong? It can't be and it's not."

Pandering politicians everywhere decided that love was enough. Love would light the way.

And so the number of plane crashes increased, the stock market rose and fell as though tethered to a bungee cord, the armed forces accidentally attacked and destroyed twenty major American cities, mortality rates of people entering hospitals skyrocketed, and generally life everywhere became shittier and shittier.

Professional sports devolved into a morass of litigation -- the parents of wannabe pro athletes sued every sport into paralysis, demanding that their child not only be on the team, but be made team captain. Parents often counter-sued other parents, alleging that the other child's desire to be on the team or made team captain violated their child's human rights. The last season professional sports were played was 2059. The pending court cases -- and those piling on to that staggering number -- guaranteed another professional sport would not be played before the year 3219.

Most people just gave up on the idea, altogether, and formed underground leagues of sports teams. But many of these, even, were crippled by litigation when anyone was turned down by a team. The only compromise that could be made was that everyone would make any team they wanted. And so, sports teams came to have rosters as long as the census lists of a medium-sized cities. This became particularly problematic for baseball, for instance, when the rule "everyone must get an 'at bat'" was handed down by the World Court in the Hague in 2066, turning games into months-long events -- from which everyone emerged with a trophy.

Trophy-maker, All Inclusive Trophies, became the Microsoft and ExxonMobil of its time, pulling in tens of billions of dollars in profit each year.

But the Bradens and Neveahs and Alisons and Jeffreys and Langdons and Mistys and Crawfords and Shandys and Olivers and Jenalyns, etc., etc., all got to express themselves, as they moved through the world ensconced within the artificial hedge of protection their brain-damaged, selfish, morally bankrupt parents created, always, always, always shielding them from the poison whose name could never be mentioned -- consequences for one's actions. It was stricken from the language.

"There's nothing more unnatural than cause and effect," said stay-at-home-mom, Lacey Waters (who presided over the education of her eleven home-schooled children) in an interview with Smiling Benevolent Parent Magazine in the spring of 2071. "I mean, who says that when you put your hand in fire that it should get burned? That's just cruel. I'm glad people are more enlightened now than when my parents were raising kids. Gosh, what could be more primitive than sending kids to school and then making them do school work? Duh! It's boring! And boredom is nature's way of telling us that something's wrong."

In 2071, Lacey Waters' son, Levenworth, became Prime Minister of Canada after she successfully sued the government saying that requiring her son to go through a political campaign and then a general election violated his human rights. "What if he lost?" Lacey said, summing up the strategy of her winning case. "His feelings would be hurt."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Star Drek: schlock and ugh

J.J. Abrams has done the unforgivable: he has given movie-going audiences a young Captain James T. Kirk who is a complete and utter, irredeemable, douche-bag. Abrams' Captain Kirk is George W. Bush without the cowardice.

The film starts with an orgy of explosions and drama and people running around, pell-mell. If the swarthy Romulans antagonizing and attacking the peace-loving earth ship in the opening minutes doesn't arouse enough emotion, there rolls onto the screen a pregnant woman in labor who is being whisked to an escape pod (probably known on the ship as a "freedom pod"). The original captain of the ship has gone on a fool's errand to meet with the Romulans, to see if diplomacy might avert complete disaster. He leaves the ship in the hands of man named Kirk. As any good executive officer would do, Kirk has brought his explosively pregnant wife on the expedition with him -- or, better yet, made her explosively pregnant during the expedition. Gawddamn it! Is no one listening to Bristol Palin's pleas for abstinence?

Communication is established between the gurneyed, writhing mother-to-be and her husband, who has his hands full managing the attack of the Romulans and his wife's demands that he join her for the birth of their child. Of course. Because children are the hope of the future -- even if the Romulans are blowing the shit out of the ship. Kirk and Mrs. Kirk's banter might have been taken from the Hugh Grant/Julianne Moore film Nine Months, so rich it is in homey, North American cliche and insurance-advertisement-hope-for-the-future.

Alas, this Kirk goes down with his ship, but his wife and newly born son survive.

The audience is given its first loving glimpse of young ragamuffin James T. Kirk when Kirk is just a boy who has stolen a vintage automobile from a gnawing voice that harangues him over the in-car communication system (was it his uncle? Stepfather? Mom's live-in boyfriend?). Young Kirk must have played a shitload of Grand Theft Auto because he's another Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel. Pursued by a cop on a land speeder who addresses young, recalcitrant Kirk with the futuristic salutation "Citizen!", Kirk evades him and ends up driving the vintage car off a cliff. Unfortunately, Kirk dives out of the car in time to survive. After climbing up from the very precipice of the cliff, pre-pubescent Kirk looks at the hovering, robot cop and utters the 20th Century staple phrase, "Does there seem to be a problem, officer?"

Kirk grows into a morose, self-pitying alcoholic hick somewhere in Iowa, Earth. He wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. He drinks beer from the bottle and verbally harasses any and every piece of available ass in his local. If his verbal intercourse at the bar with the lovely, young Uhura is any indication of Kirk's proficiency with women, there's little doubt that he took a yellow-ribbon-winning hog to his high school prom; that he lost his virginity to a John Deere tractor. Clearly he's unused to speaking to anything that does not possess a V.I.N.

After harassing Uhura for her first name -- a running joke that comes back way too many times, though is mercifully dropped halfway through -- Kirk promptly proves his mental and spiritual prowess by getting into a fight with four Federation cadets who knew Uhura. Kirk gets his licks in, but is ultimately laid out, sprawled dramatically over a table. As luck would have it, the commanding officer who's come to call the cadets back to the ship happens to have known Kirk's father. He recognizes the young Kirk immediately and invites the young, beer-swilling Iowan to become a Federation cadet. Kirk dismisses this invitation by guzzling beer out of a tall, narrow science-fictiony tumbler.

But he goes. Presumably after a night with no sleep, and a morning with no hangover, Kirk shows up for the cadet ship with the same bloody shirt he'd been wearing when he got his ass kicked. When a guy near the cadet ship says, "Hey, great bike!" Kirk throws him the keys. "It's yours," our douche-bag hero says.

The film does veer into true science fiction when, at the Federation cadet academy, Abrams attempts to make Kirk-the-lout some sort of student. Don't worry, he's still a crass, bilge-brimming douche-bag, but Kirk's now found something he can direct all his chaotic energies into: cheating on a test.

There were groans aplenty emanating from the soul of this reviewer during a Friends-styled-Three's-Company-ripped-off scene in which horny Kirk attempts to lay a luscious green girl (who does not practice abstinence). Lascivious green girl's roommate returns to their room unexpectedly, and holy shit -- it's Uhura! Luckily, the green girl knows enough to have Kirk hide. The subterfuge lasts all of three seconds as Uhura discovers her roommate's coquettish game and finds underwear-clad Kirk in his clever hiding spot -- beside the bed.

We next find Kirk in a fully crewed flight simulation, which serves as a sort of final exam for the cadets. The simulation has Kirk's ship under attack. The very, very talent-impaired Chris Pine (please Jeeezus don't let him have Shia Labeouf's agent!) who plays Kirk does his high-school-drama-best to portray Kirk's arrogance and devil-may-care attitude with regard to the test. Fearing that his overt demonstration of chuckling, smirking casualness isn't enough, Kirk pulls out an apple and disinterestedly eats it as his crew shouts at him that they are in mortal danger. Kirk eats an apple. No kidding. An apple. He has it hidden beside himself in the jazzy captain's chair, and when he deems the moment is right, he pulls it out and takes a huge, messy chomp. Of his apple. A motherfucking apple! He has an apple! A fucking-fer-chrissakes apple!

As any good neo-con would do, Kirk ignores the advice of others and then takes the short way around (we later learn that he introduced some sort of computer "script" into the simulation that gave him an advantage), and easily beats the simulator. He and all other neo-cons know what none of the rest of us know: battle is little more difficult than eating an apple.

Spock -- the hardassed rules lawyer and creator of the simulation -- accuses Kirk of cheating. Kirk does not deny it. He is placed on academic suspension just as the Federation mobilizes all its cadets to help with some emergency. Thus, Kirk is excluded due to "the rules."

But Doctor McCoy doesn't give up that easily. During far-too-long, convoluted series of scenes, McCoy administers a space rufi to Kirk in order to sneak him aboard the ship. Apparently, Federation rules dictate that a doctor must stay with his patient, even to the detriment of an entire crew. So, if the doorman monitoring who enters the starship doesn't allow Kirk on, he would also be disallowing McCoy, the ship's doctor. Or, to put it more confusingly: if the doorman allows McCoy onboard, he automatically allows Kirk onboard, as well. Put in this impossible, untenable position, the doorman blinks and nods. Kirk is aboard the ship!

From there, we see a lot of people running around. We're introduced to the cute and cuddly Communist, Chekhov, who makes us laugh with his funny accent and endearing, foreign conscientiousness. We're introduced to Sulu who, essentially, forgets to take the "parking brake" off the Starship Enterprise, thus rendering it unable to get up to warp speed, at first -- or, whatever it is. And very late in the film, we meet Simon Pegg as Scotty. But roguish, comic-relief Scotty is not alone! No, he has a warty Ewok as his non-verbal sidekick. This bit of cinematic tinfoil hit my mental dental fillings with all of the miserable "Noooooooooooooooooooo!" as Jar Jar Binks hit me in The Phantom Excrement of 1999.

If any rational, steadily-being-disappointed filmgoer hadn't been put-off enough by all of this, there is the bizarre, left-field quiet, romantic moment in which Uhura kisses Spock in the ship's elevator just after Spock's home planet had been made into a blackhole and destroyed. Uhura is all into Spock. It must be the Ziggy Stardust eye shadow he uses. It's as though a snippet of the show Felicity had been jokingly spliced into Star Drek at that moment. But no, there are later hints at Uhura's hots for Spock. What's not to love about him? He has the emotional spectrum of a vending machine. He has a voice like Muzack. A haircut like Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. He looks soulful and lawyerly in blue pajamas. He probably has no usable sex organs.

Luckily, justice is served at the end of the movie and douche-bag Captain James T. Kirk is exalted and praised for his douche-baggery in the line of duty. He proves that one need not have any tangible experience or knowledge to be a Federation captain, only bravado, machismo and pores that emit Brut 33. No doubt, in the sequel to this prequel, Captain Kirk will address a graduating class of Federation cadets and tell them ". . . that even the C students can grow up to be captains!"

Star Drek is a work definitely geared toward the A.D.H.D.-gadget-distracted multitudes who require shock-and-awe from their filmmakers in place of . . . they just want shock-and-awe.

For me, it was shlock-and-ugh.

I am not the audience for such extravaganzas. Don't get me wrong, I love big, fun movies. The first three Indiana Jones films are among my all-time favorites. Even the first Harry Potter film was entirely enjoyable -- watching it amid a packed moviehouse.

Star Drek, however, in the money-numbed hands of J.J. Abrams, pained me. I was just a vegetarian in J.J. Abrams' steakhouse.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ughDesk.com - where freelancers work for free!

Freelancers, are you tired of being paid for your work? You've got your client-list, you bill them for work, they tease you with late payments, but ultimately their payments come in?

Those dreary days of working for money are over! Introducing ughDesk.com!

We've got vendors with budgets of up to $100 looking for freelance writers to create 100 articles! Or, how about designing 20 five-page Web sites for $30? Work in PHP or VisualBasic for pennies a day!

"Hey, that sounds like there's a chance I'll still get paid!" I hear you say.

Not so fast!

ughDesk.com's patented payment system is so convoluted, complex and self-defeating, you'll never get paid! That's right -- never get paid!

Our relationship with the Web's most opaque, unresponsive payment system, PayPal, will ensure that no troublesome dollars and cents -- and those even more troublesome tax problems that follow every penny -- will come your way.

If you're an IT professional who loves the work, but hates the pay, ughDesk.com is for you!


I'm all for alternative energy research and production, but do the supporters of this really have to use in their ad campaigns guys who look like they'd punch a pregnant woman?

This image belches: "Even guys who need anger management classes support our cause -- so you should too! Do so, before we give them your address. Don't be the only person in your office to have your ribs broken by an ecrologist!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh oDesk! Oh PayPal! Gawddamn it!

I suppose it's easy to trumpet a Web site's virtues before one has run and stumbled and crashed through the dung-carpeted gauntlet/process of actually getting paid for work completed via that Web site. This, unfortunately, is the place I find myself at this juncture with oDesk.com.

After previously reviewing oDesk.com, I made the move to obtain payment for my first writing assignment completed via there. My client came through quick as he promised, but when I attempted to withdraw the funds from oDesk, I ran into a snag. My long-standing PayPal account wouldn't suffice for some reason. I misread oDesk's instructions on the matter and wrongly believed I had to create an entirely new PayPal account using my oDesk e-mail address. This was erroneous on my part. Turns out, all one need do is add their oDesk e-mail address to their PayPal account.

Sounds easy.

It's not.

I had no trouble re-routing my oDesk e-mail address through my Gmail account. I live on Gmail and have routed several addresses there with no problems. When working for my client on my first oDesk job, he was able to contact me using my oDesk e-mail address with no trouble whatsoever.

So, when I added my oDesk e-mail address to my PayPal account, I didn't anticipate any problems when I clicked the final required button that prompted PayPal to send a confirmation message -- containing a verification code -- to my oDesk e-mail account. For some unfathomable reason, PayPal's confirmation e-mail will not reach my Gmail account via the oDesk address. I have contacted oDesk and PayPal about this. The princely sum hanging in the balance is $26, so you can imagine my artery-bursting urgency in getting this mess cleared up.

This has been going on for three weeks, partly due to my own tardiness. oDesk's Help Desk has been responsive, but not helpful. They are polite, but clueless. Their "engineering department" is now looking into my trouble, as though I'm stranded on a space shuttle that keeps bouncing off earth's atmosphere every time it attempts re-entry. I'm trying to receive payment of a lousy $26 on a PayPal account that has transacted thousands of dollars in the seven years I've had it.

And PayPal has been a shower of useless bastards, too. Their response to my e-mail on this matter merely sat in my PayPal account. They couldn't bother themselves to ping me via the e-mail address I use on the account. There went a week. And PayPal's solution for the present time is to lock my account until I provide them with a credit card number. Thing is, I signed up with PayPal to get away from using credit cards. (Hey, PayPal, you know that credit crunch that's got the entire planet in a Figure Four Leg Lock? And those predatory practices practiced by credit card companies? I don't want to be a part of that. OK?) Or, I can simply scan my driver's license and e-mail that to PayPal, or a pay stub, or any of a dozen other highly personal bits of information an identity thief would ruin his underwear to receive.

The point is, it's 2009 for the love Bo Schembechler!

oDesk, I've used my PayPal account on Helium and elsewhere to receive payment without any trouble whatsoever -- without having to add an address, or otherwise jump through hoops due to nebulous "security concerns." I use the Web all day long, every day of every week, etc. If I'm having trouble with this, what are less-tech-savvy users going through? Not this, I'll bet. They're not even using your site.

And PayPal, gimme a gawddamned break with this speaking-down-to-the-rabble-from-the-top-of-Mount-Olympus shit! Responding to my message to your "Resolution Center" -- you make it sound like it's staffed by wizards and vestal virgins -- with opaque forms and badly labeled pages (why does the page asking me to verify my mailing address set up to only accept my non-existent credit card details?) is not a resolution. It's inconvenience.

The Web is what we make of it. It's a great and useful place. I'm all about Web 2.0, but let's hope Web 3.0 or 2.1, or whatever the next iteration is called, puts a prime focus on getting its shit together! Wet-floor effects and glossy buttons are awesome, but they're not worth a NetZero dial-up connection if they're on sites that can't work a little more efficiently than an Estonian passport office.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Health Guide for Geeks

Geeks are brilliant in server rooms, on the battlefields of online gaming, and at individual workstations trouble-shooting the latest ball-lightning slider served up by Windows. But when it comes to looking after their own health, they approach the task like neophytes trying to set up a routable protocol using NetBEUI.

In the sedentary universe of geeks, there is no "breakfast," "lunch" or "dinner" during the undertaker's-hours they keep. There are merely meals, which usually consist of pizza, Mountain Dew and continuous sugar-shock-therapy delivered by a steady regimen of gobstoppers, licorice and other assorted candy.

Read the entire article

Friday, May 01, 2009

CoverAll! No self-esteem required!

If you don't have the self-esteem to leave your abusive boyfriend, no problem! That's why there's CoverAll®!

Rhianna is rich and famous, but she knows how hard it is to find a man. That's why she uses CoverAll®!

Just a few passes on your face or arms with a make-up trawl will do it. Anyway, he's always sorry the next day.

CoverAll® -- bruises heal, but loneliness does not.