Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fuck You, 2009

You sucked. First of all, Hitler got inaugurated. Then we all lost our liberty. Now there's some goddamn healthcare bill that puts a tax on life. I keep praying someone will just kill all the liberals who are doing this, but first you struck down James Inhofe, and then you tried to kill Rush Limbaugh. Now I find out you took Avenged Sevenfold drummer TheRev from us. You are a cold fucking bitch. You've consumed everything I've ever cared about. You see this wonderful spread of delightful snacks and crudites I've laid out, representing those things dearest to me? No, because you fucking ate it, you fucking fatty year. The only thing you had in abundance was bullshit, from Glenn Beck on TV to everyone anybody ever knew and wanted to forget getting on Facebook and creating more stupid drama in less than 12 months than in all the years since high school put together. The Chinese Zodiac sign for this year is a fat girl in a corset who smokes cloves and likes to brag at Denny's about how good she is at giving head even though the only time people are drunk enough to ask her to do it, she flips out and screams "I AM NOT A SLUT" and then tries to break their cell phones so they don't have her number anymore. Nobody wants to think of what she looks like naked, and goddamn, 2009, do I not want to know what you looked like sober. Here's the first image that comes to mind when I even wonder about it:

2010 will be the year of the potato. We begin by greeting its distilled nectar.

Friday, December 25, 2009

First Thing Jesus Ever Said Was, 'Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Are You My Real Daddy?'

Even though I like Twitter, I have to admit it's mostly useless. You can't really use it to promote your work or network effectively without becoming a soulless whore who follows everyone, courtesy-retweets drivel without a second thought and sucks up to famous people by writing "@[famous person]" for every other comment, regardless of whether it's germane to them in the slightest. As for keeping up with people, probably everyone knows the score by now: for every one friend who makes an effort to be funny or thoughtful, another 50 won't stop talking about every goddamn thing they see or whatever their kid happens to put in his mouth.

So far, Twitter seems to be good for not much more than occasionally exposing islamophobic birther Republican congressmen who will follow anyone who accuses the president of being a foreign terrorist, making lists of absurd things like "Failed NES Games," or telling the world about Hoobastank's malicious insistence to force freedom fighters to ask, "Dear God, what is that man doing to his anus?"

I've found another decent use: wishing everyone a sacrilicious holiday. I've never been one to allow success to happen to me without taking immediate corrective measures, so it's best to immediately sabotage all the goodwill and interest from economist Brad DeLong's "The True Spirit of Christmas" link to us by undermining all those nice Christian sentiments expressed in the first Robert Byrd Death Prayer piece. The only remedy for a sincere and well-meaning invocation of Christian forbearance is a bunch of "you're so fat" jokes choked with references to early Christian heresies and high-church liturgy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Update: Robert Byrd Must Die

As I explained here yesterday, a C-SPAN caller asked Senator John Barrossa (R-WY) if insufficient or misdirected prayer had caused God to not only omit smiting the foul Democrat Robert Byrd but also to cause James Inhofe (R-OK) to be absent from the vote.

Since then, Talking Points Memo printed their suspicion that the call was a prank:
Back in April, a man with a very similar voice, and also from Georgia, called in and asked David Brooks if he, as a sophisticated New Yorker, would help to bring down the black man in the White House. Brooks was laughing in disbelief at what he was hearing.
I disagree with their reasons, even if their conclusion turns out to be correct, because it didn't seem that over-the-top. Now, cynically speaking, it's in my best interests for this to be real; I look silly to have written all that ire about the un-Christian and uncharitable sentiments of wishing Byrd dead if it turned out to be a gag. But, at the risk of seeming like I'm trying to walk back my comments to avoid embarrassment, there are three reasons why this should be a non-starter:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More RSS Feed Junk

Apparently the RSS Feed problems weren't going to be solved via the old Feedburner settings, so I just set up a new one. Here it is. It's also located on the right column of this page. (I've also updated the feed address in earlier posts mentioning it.)

Hopefully this marks the end of your hassles. Apologies to anyone who's had trouble getting new content. For future reference, emails sent to the address in my profile or Direct Messages on Twitter are probably the easiest ways to get a hold of me as regards future problems with the blog (unless you already have my IM info or are bother to figure it out).

Anyway, again, sorry about the headaches.

Also, since I keep having to write posts about this issue, enjoy this thematically related picture:

Our God Is an Awesome God and a Crappy Shot

I saw this last night on Gawker and rolled my eyes at it before going to bed. For some reason, it was the first thing I thought of when I turned on my laptop this morning, and I watched it again with a rising sense of, frankly, amazement. Perhaps I was too tired when I saw it the first time.

In this video, a caller and teabagging enthusiast asks Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) why Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) wasn't able to attend the health care vote.

Now, this guy starts openly weeping on the phone because he thinks that he or Barrasso have killed Inhofe. Why? Because Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) got on the floor of the senate and urged all Republicans to pray that certain people would be incapable of attending the health care vote, that God would somehow prevent them. The implication in Coburn's prayer was pretty clear, as the very ill and 92-year-old Robert Byrd (D-WV) was expected to cast the filibuster-proof 60th vote for the health care bill. Thus, Coburn's exhortation was little more than the Christian dog-whistle equivalent of asking God to kill Byrd for Republicans, babies and America — a less overt version of Pat Robertson praying that God start killing Supreme Court justices so George Bush could replace them with religious conservative appointees.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rogue Member of 'Mr. Destructo' Now on 'Anime Jihad'

Because of the extensive use of aliases and subtle internet doublespeak, we have no way of knowing which member of Et tu, Mr. Destructo's esteemed staff has gone all American/Congolese/Ugandan/Korean-taliban on the internet's ass, but we do know that someone affiliated with this site has joined His clever poké-de-nom prevents us from assuming anything other than he (or she) is named "Al-Qaedansen."

Totally Important Announcements

Just a couple of notices and acknowledgements as we head into the big familial- and travel-related headache that is Christmas. Just as an aside, I wrote at least a third of this while in gridlock in a parking lot just trying to get at a Bed Bath and Beyond. I wasn't there for Christmas value: I just wanted a goddamned meat thermometer so I could cook a roast for Christmas dinner. Anyway:

Feed Stuff:
A couple of people sent in emails complaining about the feed. Apparently about four articles in a row never posted to their RSS or Google Readers. So far as I can tell, nothing is going wrong on this end. I checked back through Feedburner and through this site's settings, then posted a couple of test articles, and everything worked fine. I was going to suspect user error until I ran into some other people complaining about publishing outages on Blogger and strange irregularities in Gmail. Since Feedburner is part of the same family, I figure they were having similar issues.

Naturally, after about two days of looking into this stuff whenever I had a free moment, the people who'd emailed me sent me an update letting me know that all the older articles had suddenly posted to their feed. So I'm going to assume the problem is solved. If it's not, post here or click on my profile and say something. But, going forward, I will just assume that this feed address is working perfectly.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rage Against the Machine, Join It, Rage Harder, Look Stupid

Is there anything that Rage Against the Machine can't make breathtakingly banal just by being distantly related to it? All it took was a single album cover to somehow rob Thích Quảng Đức's self-immolation of its staggering power and turn it into a pop-cultural talisman borne by the sort of people who can't wait to annoy the shit out of you about the real reason you're never going to see a fusion-powered car even though they already have the technology.

The latest bit of Rage news shows that even if the band drops off the map, somehow something brutally stupid about them will rise to the top:
It takes a lot to get Simon Cowell rattled, but rattled he appears to be. At a press conference today, Cowell acknowledged the Facebook campaign to get Rage Against the Machine's 1992 song, Killing in the Name, to Christmas No 1.... The campaign was started by Tracy and Jon Morter, who launched the Facebook group "Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No 1" earlier this month with the words: "Fed up of Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No 1? Me too ... So who's up for a mass-purchase of the track 'KILLING IN THE NAME' from December 13th (DON'T BUY IT YET!) as a protest to the X Factor monotony?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Southern College Football Fans Are the Biggest Bandwagoners in American Sports

Is there any entertainment outside of southern college football where spending $20,000-$120,000 poses an insufficient demonstration of loyalty? No other phenomenon involves racking up enough debt to go toward the down-payment on anything from 1-12 small houses yet still getting called "fairweather" for failing to smother the ass-end of your car in logos, slogans and other ugly crap.

I ask myself this question during NCAA football season because I've lived in the south for quite a while and still cannot understand the intensity with which otherwise amiable neighbors will denounce each other one day a week for liking one pair of ugly colors over another. Florida exemplifies this perfectly: "What's that? You don't like royal blue and puke orange? That's a far better pairing than maroon and jaundice or green and also puke orange." The only two groups of people in this world who should care this much about orange are the Dutch and the Northern Irish.

(It's not as if I ask out of ignorance. I love football. One of the finest football weekends I ever spent involved 11 hours of college football with a buddy who decided to serve only food that he cooked in his deep fryer, while everyone there drank enough to make the Budweiser Clydesdales nicker and want to roll our asses to an emergency room. It was amazing. I wish I could kickoff every college football season this way.)

My opening question wasn't rhetorical flourish: I actually know someone who went to undergraduate and law school at the University of Florida — seven straight years in Gainesville, seven straight years of going to home games — who had a beer thrown on him for not having any blue+puke totems on the back of his busted-ass Hyundai. Evidently the tens of thousands of dollars in brand-loyalty tuition debt didn't persuade anybody. Maybe they thought his colors ran. Who knows?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gestapo and Gumshoes: Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir

GAVIN VOLURE: Because of my severe agoraphobia and debilitating wealth, I’m am forced to bring the world to me and host dinners for interesting people from all walks of life; the world of fashion (indicates someone hideously dressed)... society (indicates someone hideous)... art collecting and yelling… (indicates John McEnroe)
JOHN McENROE: Why isn’t there any good art in here?!?!? Come on!!!
GAVIN VOLURE: Business and historical fiction. (indicates Jack Donaghy)
LIZ LEMON: Really?
JACK DONAGHY: What if the Germans had won the war, Lemon?
30 Rock, "Gavin Volure"
That last question's really the nut, isn't it?

Romance writers have understood the beauty of this question for years. Everyone's read the story of a fiercely independent and intelligent young woman eventually marrying a proud and initially cold-hearted man after seeing through to his fine inner qualities. Jane Austen wrote that in Pride and Prejudice 196 years ago. But all you have to do is wonder what would happen if Miss Elizabeth Bennett was a fine Dutch lass and Mr. Darcy an English soldier, set it in the Boer War, and you have a brand new novel.*

* — Actually, you don't even have to do that. I went to a Barnes & Noble recently, and not only had the literature section been pared down by an entire shelf, it had also been overwhelmed by different authors writing dozens of sequels to Pride and Prejudice in the continued quality-free franchising of Austen.

Almost any story has the potential to be riveting if you retell it while screwing around with history. Take Pride and Prejudice and add zombies. Put Romeo and Juliet in the Federal and Confederate armies. I like Robocop—who doesn't like Robocop? He could punch people in the dick. But what if the person in question was that skull-stacking badass Tamerlane? This thing writes itself.

Story + History arithmetic explains why anyone would enjoy Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir novels. Everybody likes hard-bitten detective noir in some form — either Chandler or Hammett in print or film, or the Coen brothers doing Miller's Crossing or The Big Lebowski. Similarly, everyone watches or reads Nazi stories. They alone account for 50% of the checks Steven Spielberg cashes every month. They're the reason the History Channel exists as a profit-making entity. Write a documentary about cars, and no one will care. Write it about NAZI CARS, and you not only have a sale but a commission for nine more one-hour installments for that same channel.

So it stands to reason that Kerr's novel about a hard-bitten German gumshoe on the streets of Nazi Germany would be almost totally entertaining. Only, I'm not sure it is — at least not the way it's intended to be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The AV Club's 50 Best Albums of the Decade Are All Wrong: Introduction & Albums #50 - #31

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

The AV Club's 50 Best Albums of the Decade Are All Wrong: Albums #30 - #11

Intro & The AV Club's #50 - #31The AV Club's #30-#11
The AV Club's Top 10 & AfterwordAlan Greenspan Presents Our Top 10

by Mobutu Sese Seko with Rigamarock & Shwaywhat

(Note: all thumbnailed images go to Youtube videos of relevant songs from the band.)

30. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (2005)
This is pretty much the least essential album anyone's ever heard, so of course it's on the AV Club list. If you were wondering what happened to Cat Stevens and Fisher Stevens' improbably orders-of-magnitude-lamer lovechild, this album is your answer. Meaningless gimmickry is the name of the game in indie music, and this gimmick is the most meaningless in recent memory: album conception via Rand McNally. Still, it's great to hear Zamfir getting work again in pointless one-minute instrumentals. And the lyrics? EVERY ONE A MASTERPIECE:

The AV Club's 50 Best Albums of the Decade Are All Wrong: Their Top 10 & Afterword

Intro & The AV Club's #50 - #31The AV Club's #30-#11
The AV Club's Top 10 & AfterwordAlan Greenspan Presents Our Top 10

by Mobutu Sese Seko with Rigamarock & Shwaywhat

(Note: all thumbnailed images go to Youtube videos of relevant songs from the band.)

10. The National, Alligator (2005)
"Alligator is The National’s third full-length, but the first that introduced a fully realized vision of the Brooklyn band: brooding, smart, and uniquely capable of soundtracking the ennui of rainy city life. It’s been accused of being boring, but it absolutely isn’t." Thanks, AV Club! Here's an idea: any time you feel compelled to frontload a single-paragraph blurb review of an album by addressing a common charge of it's being boring, it's boring. Just the fact that it's pretty much the first thing that comes to mind after placing the album in the band's chronology and placing the band geographically is a huge indicator that whatever point you're making is already a loser. "Brooding" and "soundtracking the ennui of rainy city life" are like two different rock-review variations on, "You're gonna love this girl! She's got a great personality."

Alan Greenspan Presents: Our Top 10 Albums of the Decade

Intro & The AV Club's #50 - #31The AV Club's #30-#11
The AV Club's Top 10 & AfterwordAlan Greenspan Presents Our Top 10

Note: we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, recognize that many readers will derive little of value solely from a list of negatives without an accompanying list of positives. A mere litany of displeasures offers no perspective unless leavened with the sincere enthusiasms of the critic. Surely someone who excoriates Wordsworth's style can be dismissed out of hand as an anti-Romantic, but if he or she is also an ardent admirer of Byron, then one must read his or her opinion more attentively.

Likewise, we do not wish to be dismissed: we refuse the mantle of Philistines, hatas or bustas. That we are much exercised by the AV Club's list should be manifest by now, but we submit that our criticisms come not from a knee-jerk compulsion to gainsay the hip, the mainstream or the voice of an authority but rather from a sincere, supple and multi-dimensional appreciation of all genres of music. We like many artists similar to the ones dismissed above, just as many of you might dismiss the artists you see below while celebrating their contemporaries.

To show that we are human beings with loves and hates and passions just like yours — that we are men and women who've been born and still yet live and, however so unfair, will surely die — we asked each regular and guest contributor to Mr. Destructo to compile his or her list of the ten best albums of the decade (#1 being the best and #10 the tenth best) and tabulated this consensus staff list. These are the rhythms and verses that syncopated our steps and gave voice to our hearts.

Now, to give voice to our thoughts about these tremendous works, we turn to former Federal Reserve Chairman and clarinetist at the Juilliard School, Alan Greenspan:

Top 10 Albums This Decade That I Totally Woulda Knocked Up Your Old Lady To

I thought when I wrote for these idiots it was gonna be a one-and-done thing, but apparently all these assholes know about writing music is which one of the Rock Band buttons they hit with their fat fucking monkey hands. That's why they called in the big guns, because they know what you're thinking: "This bunch of jackasses I don't know anything about just ripped on 50 albums in a row. Why???"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fucked-Up Video Wednesday: I Took All the Brown Acid

I'm not going to sport with anyone's patience or intelligence by pretending I found this junk all on my own. The first video was linked off Deadspin and is another product from the good people at Everything Is Terrible! — a blog devoted to sharing edited versions of videos found on old VHS tapes at second-hand stores. They're the people who found the amazingly bad "It's Time for Cat Massage!" and this nugget called "Look What God Made!"

I can't describe the following. Deadspin made a crack about watching this and then checking the water supply for drugs. It's not a bad idea. Everything is wrong with this video: about half a dozen classic children's songs rewritten with terrible slant rhymes; bad interaction with the CGI, even though the CGI is just a baseball animated over a real-life baseball; clumsy voiceover on children frozen with horrifying rictus grins; characters that look like Towelie from South Park; a girl being reassured that a baseball won't hurt her if she gets hit by it because BB the Baseball is "too sweet to hurt anybody"; it goes on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'I Am Martin Eisenstadt': A Lie So Noble That the Person Issuing It Doesn't Even Have to Be Real

If you turned off the TV and started ignoring political articles the day after Obama won, you might have missed a curious incident immediately following election day. A story emerged from the McCain/Palin camp from an anonymous staffer, claiming Sarah Palin thought that Africa was a country. It seemed too good to be true. Here it was, a simple confirmation that Palin's intelligence was cretinous at best. Unfortunately for Palin-watchers, the leak's anonymity undermined its potency — until, finally, a McCain staffer named Martin Eisenstadt came forward and confirmed it.

Eisenstadt's background featured all the experience you'd expect it to: service in the Reagan administration; a journey to the wilderness of think tanks in the Clinton years; glorious restoration under Bush, along with the requisite ideological clusterfucking of Iraq; and being rewarded for one candidate's failure by hopping onto the campaign of another, failing upward until McCain's loss in the general election. Eisenstadt presented another avatar of the morally vacant conservapundit opportunist, glomming onto any airtime or column inch available to him, no claim or blurb too odious if it was tasty enough to mention. No wonder he'd throw conservatives' darling veep candidate under the bus for the chance to get in front of Chris Matthews.

The only problem was that Eisenstadt didn't, and doesn't, exist. (Yet, perversely, the Africa story is true, although in tamer, questionable form.) In this case a non-person confirmed a story whose veracity is anyone's guess. The media was only too happy to oblige.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Give Patrick McHenry (R-NC) Islamophobic Birther Tweets or Give Him More Just Like Them

Do you use Twitter? Why not try an experiment? Take an apolitical Twitter account. Make a racist or verbally violent comment on muslims or Obama's supposed conspiracy to destroy white, conservative Christian America. Append the hashtag #tcot to the comment so it gets filtered into a feed read by people interested in the "Top Conservatives on Twitter." Then ask yourself a question:
Q: How long will it take for someone to follow your feed or RT (re-tweet) your comments in approval?

A: Not long at all. But what may surprise you is that your new fan may be Republican United States Representative for North Carolina's 10th District, Patrick McHenry.
That's what happened to a Twitter user named MagicHDetective, after posting the following tweets satirizing far-right paranoia over Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan:

And here is the email notification he received from Twitter just a minute after that last tweet, showing him that Representative McHenry was now following his tweets:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Yankees Are Cancer: World Series, 2009

You already know the outcome, so welcome to the last bit of liveblogging doom, gloom, angst and loathing for the 2009 baseball season. Think of this as the sports equivalent of watching Glenn Beck read a newspaper. Only I'm not actually insane. Let us instead enter a legitimate Chamber of Loathing:
Being a baseball fan and rooting for the Yankees is like being an oncologist and rooting for cancer.
I don't remember when I wrote that. I want to say the 7th inning. And while I recognize that it is partially histrionic, I think also that it's true.

Most baseball fans want to see their teams win, and aside from a few sociopaths or fans of teams who've been so horrible for so long that they've earned a malicious desire, very few fans want to see their teams stomp holy hell all season and win a championship effortlessly. In video games, it's one thing to play in God Mode, to force trades and make your team a roster of monsters, but in real life I think we all acknowledge that victories are sweeter for being won rather than being taken and walked off with. I think any Red Sox fan would, in a candid moment, admit that 2004 and 2007 would have been dreadfully dull without the 0-3 and 1-3 comeback runs in the ALCS to get to the World Series, because those Series games were almost painfully lopsided. (I think any good Red Sox fan would also admit that the team had an obscenely large payroll and reaped the rich benefits of the same.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fucked-Up Video Wednesday: Do You Know What I'm Saiyan?

We last met Alex Jones in what is easily the best YoutubeDoubler ever, doing what it is he does best, going completely nuts. Jones literally believes that European monarchs are going to help take over the earth with robot people, that 9/11 was an inside job, and the Jews he works for were in on it, and that the Hitler-run wing of the Obama administration is using states' Child Protective Services departments to kidnap and indoctrinate the few free-thinking lads and lasses who haven't already been rounded up in FEMA camps with their gun-owner parents or been tracked down by GPS-bearing members of the census bureau.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Series Blog, Games 4 & 5: Gutty Twitter, Centaurs and Chinless Buzzards

This is the latest part in a volume of frustration. Part One deals with David Wells wearing a Member's Only jacket over his fatness. Part Two celebrates another postseason loss for the overrated/under-ridiculed Tony LaRussa. Part Three is your resource for FISTING and how getting a job because of your dad and grandpa doesn't work so well for people around you. Part Four details how godawful Joe Buck and Tim McCarver continue to be. Part Five focuses on World Series Game One and fan-paranoid jinxes. And Part Six covers World Series Games Two and Three. Let's play ball!

World Series Game Four

Ugh, another national anthem, another gross martial display. Just once I sort of wish that the Air Force or Army (or whichever branch) didn't screen their singers carefully enough and sent someone out there with PTSD. We'd sit as baseball and the Armed Services again solemnized and venerated combat, death, injury and horror, and the well-coiffed representative would belt out the familiar lines, reaching the "laaaaaand of the freeeeeeeee" and hear the fireworks go off and immediately flip the fuck out. I think maybe that might dial back the aggressive patriotism to tolerable pre-9/11 levels, at least for a couple years.

8:23 pm:
McCARVER: More than anything else [Blanton's] a gutty performer, and that's why he's out there tonight.
We're not even at the first pitch yet, and we have a "gutty" sighting. As was the case with Chase Utley in Game One, McCarver has nothing to say and is scrambling for meaningless baseball generalities. In Utley's case, he didn't expect the guy to be the offensive hero of the first game, so he ad-libbed something that at first blush might have seemed meaningful. In this case, he's just trying not to insult Blanton. He can only bring up his good outing against the Rays in the 2008 World Series and the home run he hit off Edwin Jackson for so long — there is airtime to fill — but he can't go negative without alienating a huge FOX market share.

Series Blog, Games 2 & 3: Corporate Whore Stadium and, Like, Double Guitars

As I explained at painful and unfunny length in the Game One blog, I'm sports superstitious. Sure, I'll be ironic and dismissive about it, but I still take it seriously behaviorally. Sort of like a guy who constantly busts on fat chicks yet has unprotected sex with a different one every night. I might dismiss my sitting in a weird position for "Good Luck," and even mine some good jokes from doing so, but I'm still the one sincerely doing something inadvisable or aesthetically wanting with my body.

Because the Phillies had won Game One while I was chitchatting with people online, I had to do that for Game Two, right? I didn't want the Phils to lose. The problem was, the people I'd been yammering at weren't online. Thankfully, one of my few Pennsylvania buddies, a former online writer I know, was around and willing to be bugged. Let's play ball!

Friday, October 30, 2009

'Reverse Jinx?' World Series Game One — Sort of

I can't explain how I watched last year's World Series. I managed to pay attention, take notes and write not one but two live-blogs of the thing. I suppose I was distracted enough by the novelty of reacting to things via live-blogging to not collapse in a wet sack of neuroses about the games themselves. No such luck this year.

I'm genuinely sports superstitious. Even as I'm doing superstitious things, I can tell myself, "This is objectively nonsensical. There is no causal relationship between your behavior and team performance," yet I won't for a second stop whatever's occupying my attention. One time I saw my team win a late-inning playoff game while I was seated in a weird way and holding on to a magazine I'd been flipping through. I sat in that position, clutching that magazine, for the rest of the games. They won 'em all!—I developed a peculiar pain! No, seriously. I had trouble walking because I'd sat like a mutant to watch baseball. Somehow this made perfect sense at the time.

In a strangely obverse display, I once walked home from a trip to The Booze Store during the early innings of a playoff game and discovered that while I was out, the Red Sox had scored three runs. A few minutes after sitting down in front of the TV, they gave up two. I immediately left the house and walked around my neighborhood for what I later figured out was eight miles. I periodically called friends to check the score. The Sox wound up winning by nearly ten runs, but when I'd gone home in late innings and after they'd gotten a large lead, the opposing team put runners in scoring position (RISP), and I left the house again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Magdalen Nabb's Marshall Guarnaccia Novels

Don't you hate it when you discover a new author you really like, and it turns out she's dead?

I don't suppose this happens too much to people who've recently fallen in love with someone like Dickens. Even an inattentive reader is probably going to guess that he lived in the 19th century. The style is all wrong for a modern novelist, and all that attention to detail just seems a little too perfect, you know? Besides, eventually they'll stumble across an edition that mentions his bio on the back or has a foreword that fesses up that the guy died.

There are all sorts of pitfalls to modern novels, though. Unless you're someone willing to risk spoiling a book by looking up the author on Wikipedia ahead of time, you never know who you're dealing with. You might be sitting in the Barnes & Noble café cheerily chatting up a stranger about this new writer you've discovered, and they could turn to you and say, "You know that guy got arrested for being a pedophile, right?" To borrow an analogue from music, imagine how teenagers who'd just gotten into the Who felt after raving about Who's Next when someone told them Pete Townsend got arrested for Googling little girls.

The worst thing, of course, at least in terms of reader satisfaction, is finding out the author died. With Dickens, you know to pace yourself. If you race through The Pickwick Papers, nothing's going to change the fact that you now have ten books left. Sure, there's the rare chance that an author'll pull a Tupac and have a bestseller long after they've croaked — Camus' The First Man comes to mind — but after over a century you can be pretty sure that Knopf isn't going to drop Charles Dickens' R U Still Down? No matter how much you want to see more from the guy, that's it. There is no more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Finished My Law & Order: SVU Fan Script!

If you've got two ears, two eyes, a heart and a passing familiarity with English like me, I assume you too must love the bounty that is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Those people care. They love law, order and rape victims. They're the thin blue line between you and all the sick, twisted perps out there. But, as they debuted their eleventh season, I realized two things. One, they must be running out of ideas. Two, I've watched enough episodes that there's no reason why I can't write my own fan script.

Well, it took a couple of weeks, but here it is. I hope you enjoy it. I really feel like I got in touch with the characters and some serious real-life issues.


Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

"Murder My Balls"

by Mobutu Sese Seko, Mr. Awesome and Dashiell K. Rigamarock

We fade in on a crime scene, with sirens wailing in the background and horns honking. It's a beautiful, spacious penthouse apartment, sparsely decorated with top-of-the-line modern furniture. Camera captures several technicians taking pictures and dusting for prints, then pans over to a man's body on a king-sized bed, naked except for the bed sheet covering him. The bed sheet is soaked with blood around the crotch. The MEDICAL EXAMINER is looking at the body, as DETECTIVES OLIVIA BENSON and ELLIOT STABLER inspect the scene. STABLER opens a wallet.

Looks like the vic was a "Doug Robb." Hey, I know that name, that's the guy from my daughter's favorite band — what'stheirname, you know... Hoobastank.

I've never seen anything like this, detectives.

What is it?

There's really no other way to put it. His testicles are just destroyed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Search Strings of the Day for 10/21/09

As I've said in the past, I could pretty much post one of these per week, but they'd get boring pretty quickly. People on the internet like sex; some of them are willing to do costume design and rehearsal for it, and this leads to strange enthusiasms aided by Google. Of course, I would in no way attempt to capitalize on this by giving all posted graphics ridiculously long filenames choked with double-entendre search terms. Oh, no. Never that.

Still, at least for me it's rare to get a concentrated burst of weird search terms, let alone wind up as the #1 hit for a Google search of "man got fucked to death by horse." For a reason I can't even begin to fathom, such a search takes you to a collection of messed-up parody videos of gaming fatass Gabe Newell.

On the "extremely explicable" front, it's nice to see that it took only a day to be the sixth result for "joe buck sucks alcs" and third for "horrible fox sports broadcast of the alcs," not to mention a shitload of searches for "cement mixers," all of which send people to this ALCS broadcast quasi-live-blog. It also took only a single day for that article to get a search for "Crayola Rapecat."

I'd also like to thank Major League Baseball announcers' inability to think about the words they use for sending God knows how many people here looking for "balls being fisted." Although that seems to be sending people to the site in general, rather than the relevant article.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Having a McCarver Moment: ALCS Games 1 & 2

It was not a day well-planned. When you spend about four hours watching DVDs of The A-Team looking for godawful effects shots that you can rip off and insert in a deliberately godawful promotional video and then feel too wiped out to watch playoff baseball, you have gravely miscalculated.

But I had fun. I was with good people, and I think I strained something laughing when I saw the guy who played Rasczak in Starship Troopers guest starring as an evil taxi company mastermind who wore skin-tight nylon pants with no zippers or buttons up front, a prominent dong-bulge and a 1980s-sized cell phone improbably jammed in a pocket.

Still, when you wind up falling asleep in your chair after one inning of the first game of the American League Championship Series, you have managed your time poorly. You've done worse when you wake up and realize you didn't set the DVR to record the game. Consider this my McCarver Moment of the 2009 playoffs. Because of it, the Game One recap is going to be awfully short.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NFL Red Zone Is Sweet Freedom

I broke down and bought the NFL Red Zone channel. Call it premature or a lack of perspective if you want, but I believe this might be the greatest thing I've ever done. I like football. Football is awesome. It's 60 minutes of awesome. But, as you may have noticed, every football broadcast is at least 180 minutes. These others are not good minutes.

The NFL Red Zone channel essentially concedes that those 120 extra minutes are trash, and that even some of the 60 awesome minutes are not so great. You're paying $50 to not watch football as it is traditionally broadcast. It's a bold move for the NFL: their business model is, essentially, "We acknowledge that two-thirds of what we show you is flawed, interruptive, unappealing and dull, before and after the one-third you actually enjoy. We recognize these flaws are severe enough that you will pay to avoid them."

Here's the deal: for $50 per season, you get one channel and one HD channel that, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. airs commercial-free football from every game. No blackouts, no mandatory games crowding out other broadcasts. No filler. No booth reviews. No sideline interviews. Essentially no commentators (more on this later). No dead air. For seven hours, a single host, Scott Hanson, does no-frills voiceover transitions, devoid of any attempt to foist his "personality" on the programming, as the feed cuts into any game where a turnover just happened, a team just scored or a team is about to score. It's seven straight hours of everything you like about football and nothing you hate. Unless you're deeply invested in a particular team or game, there's no reason to watch football any other way anymore.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fistin' the Night Away: NLCS Game One

Maybe it's years of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at work, but I'm used to tuning into the Major League Baseball postseason like a dog that's been summoned by the person who beats it. I try not to make eye contact with the screen when I change the channel and reflexively wince when I turn on the speakers. I'm already dreading Friday night when Buck looms into view like a mushroom cloud with parted hair, and Scraps the Baseball Fundamentals Mouse levers McCarver's head into the frame by an elaborate system of pulleys arrayed around the command center inside McCarver's skull.

But for now, we should all be glad. Tonight's game was consistently exciting, and even notoriously bad play-by-play man Chip Caray managed not to be too horrifying. Sure, Ron Darling was fairly boring, and Buck Martinez started to sound like Donald Duck by the 8th inning, but it was pretty fun. It's a wonderful experience to watch a good baseball game and suddenly realize that you haven't heard (and won't hear) some stray idiotic comment that you'll remember for the next half a decade.

The whole thing was good, so go watch it on TiVo or or something. For now, here's a comparatively short liveblog of the game. Amazing how these things don't balloon with content without a family-corpse-profiteering jackass and a senescent boob in the booth bloviating at interminable length. All times in Eastern because it is God's Own Time Zone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cat Who Blogged on a Mac

I'm a Macintosh owner.

I am so because I love wearing dark jeans (they're slimming) and sitting in the darkest chair in a Starbucks, withdrawing my Blackbook surreptitiously and then opening it to make the white Apple logo on the back alight just like the young ladies' faces do when they see the whirring white and bulbous corporate ornament 'twixt my legs and—oops!—the strains of Gershwin coming from the iTunes playlist on which I accidentally "forgot" to "quit" when closing up the laptop earlier; Gershwin in this case being George (although if you have 25 minutes and a taste for the subtle I will make a stronger case for Ira) and his American in Paris—an orchestral romance that could describe the two days I spent there in the company of a gorgeous English girl, speaking long into the night about books. They have so much more culture than we do, the English. Where was I?

Ah, yes. I own a Macintosh because I am a giant stupid baby.

I'm actually neither of the above kinds of people (I bet all the Apple Boys say that!), but you almost can't help but think of both when you think of mac owners. The people who adopt them as talismans of cultural currency are far more unbearable than the people who rely on them as crutches for never learning anything computer-wise until it's been thought about for a few years and infantilized, but both can be equally trying in the right circumstances. My first personal computer was a mac, as were many people's, but that doesn't excuse illiteracy across basic computer platforms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's My Birthday!

Seventy-nine years ago today, I plopped forth out of my mother's yawning ladyparts and onto the land I love so much, The Belgian Congo Zaire Democratic Republic of the Congo somewhere near where birthers say Obama was born. Some things never change. You rule a country on a throne of Hennessy empties and steal from the people, and apparently now Barack Obama steals from disadvantaged white people. According to those birther guys, he and I are a lot alike. At least they're consistent. Their thesis seems to be: black people steal.

Anyway, wow, what a long strange trip it's been. I hope you all had a great summer!

Now, what do you get for the guy who has it all? I honestly can't tell you. I hadn't even seen this coming — like the date isn't really even that important to me — so I didn't put together a gift list. I tried going over to Stormfront, the world's #1 white supremacist website, to get some ideas of What African Leaders Spend Their Money On, but even all those suggestions seemed too predictable. Best not to get me anything.

Besides, I feel I owe you guys something. For a while now we've been about a third of the way through redesigning this site to make it look a little more professional and to add more widgets and tables to it, while still keeping a sparsely elegant look. We came up with something that (surprisingly) turned out very Gawker-esque — the same textual width down the middle, but with nicely distinct and unflashy columns down both sides — and hopefully we can get that rolled out within a month or two. Unfortunately, the economy being what it is, we're paying our designers in the sort of cash that doesn't inspire quick work — or even work at all! — and I can't blame them for not snapping to it. Hopefully publicizing their lollygagging shames them a bit into getting some more stuff done.

And if the economy stays as horrible as it is through that process, maybe we'll integrate some sort of shameless "Look at Our Amazon Wish Lists and Buy Something off Them Here!" widget in one of the new columns, and we can celebrate my birthday by giving me things any day of the year. Until then, I'm celebrating by corning six pounds of brisket and drinking Irish beers.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Postseason Shower's More Delicious Than Tony La Russa's Tears

Tony La Russa is a good baseball manager. He takes teams to the postseason; he gets unexpected performances out of seemingly mediocre players. He has won championships. You could fill a railcar with sportswriters bound for ovens he designed, and they would nevertheless still lazily anoint him as humanity's closest thing to a baseball godhead. As I've said before, I hate the guy.

My antipathy for the man owes more to his press than anything he's done. But he's never repudiated his press and has instead encouraged it. There's something detached about him (a trait his followers attribute to some serenity from a higher perspective) that seems to suggest that it would be gauche for him to toot his own horn, but he wouldn't dream of pushing away someone tooting his for him. He's become his presentation, with only rare-to-nonexistent demurral. Since baseball beat writers who pretend to poetry and a spiritual understanding of what happens between actions on a baseball diamond lionize his micromanagerial maneuvering — and since their plaudits tend to manufacture a reality out of convenience or apathy — this vision of La Russa as a calculatingly remote man-shaped baseball sublimity will likely endure for generations.

Friday, October 9, 2009

MLB Playoffs '09, Day Two Roundup

I'd intended to keep a liveblog going of the three games today, but I also intended not to have a giant goddamn headache. Instead of watching the Rockies at the Phillies, I wound up lying down and listening to most of it it, then napped through a bit of the Cardinals at the Dodgers, then had the big screen commandeered to watch TiVo'd episodes of Community and The Office during part of the Sox/Angels game. I felt way too funky to put up a fight anyway.

Now of course I feel better and can't sleep, so at the risk of seeming ignorant — after all, I missed quite a bit — here are some stray observations from Day Two of the 2009 MLB playoffs:

For some reason, the human mattress that is David Wells is in the TBS booth this year, and someone's already cleaned him up from Day One. That was incredible. He wore this strange brown shirt that looked like some earthy tunic a civilian guest star would get on Star Trek and, over it, a brown jacket that I swear was a Members Only™. So you had this guy who made millions as a pitcher and is probably getting paid tens of thousands to be a commentator sitting amidst three other guys dressed in suits, only he looked like he'd stolen his outfit off a pensioner passed out at the local VFW. Amazing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Go Cougars: NFL Week Three Punditry Roundup

NBC's Sunday Night Football pregame show, Football Night in America, is a study in contrasts. On one side, you have the recaps and wit of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, whose "little big show" nicely recalls their work on "The Big Show," which made ESPN must-see TV. You also have the football knowledge of former coach Tony Dungy, who deftly breaks down complex schemes in a digestible and entertaining way. Rounding them out is retired safety Rodney Harrison, who's the least essential of this group but who has entertainingly little restraint on his willingness to bust on current players.

Meanwhile, on the other side, you have doughy pundit Peter King, who stands way off to one end of the studio, alone, and seems to be reporting from the Transporter Room. King has a lot of inside knowledge of football because he knows a lot of famous people in football and can call them on his cell phone. It's pretty easy to learn this, because Peter King is constitutionally incapable of relating any item of news without saying, "Right after the game, I called [Player's Name] and caught him on his cell phone, because I have his cell phone number, because I am Peter King." The news would be remarkable if he didn't relate it verbatim the next day in his Monday Morning QB column, which is instantly more tolerable because you can read it twice as fast as he can speak and do so without having to hear him, but which also seems to have bloated in size as a compensatory gesture for King's magically no longer looking like a man-sized wad of sourdough starter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesdays with Marty: 9/29/09

Note: Tuesdays with Marty is a recurring segment on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? highlighting the opinions of our publisher, Marty Peretz. Mr. Peretz wishes to make it absolutely clear that he is neither responsible nor liable for any content in this site, including but not limited to words, ideas, images, and things implied by said means of communication, in addition to other forms of communication not involving the above methods, whether established or theoretical in nature.

President Obama's Essential Unseriousness About Fighting Terrorism

I don't know whether the public sincerely buys into the hollow, hateful delusion of the United Nations, and I certainly don't care. The UN is billed as a sort of clearinghouse for world opportunities and a chance to make the world a better, safer place. And, on some level, it is. Simply put, last week President Obama knew precisely where and when a few smart bombs or cruise missiles could have instantly and irreversibly improved world stability, and he did nothing. Indeed, he did far less than nothing, as instead of acting, he chose to talk. You know, like Neville Chamberlain.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dan Brown Finds Dead Census Worker

Note: we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, don't just offer editorial pieces and book, television and movie reviews. On occasion, we take pleasure in dispatching one of our many guest reporters for in-depth coverage from the field. Today, for the latest on the census worker found dead in rural Kentucky with the word "Fed" scrawled on him, we turn to bestselling author Dan Brown, our stringer in Louisville.

This Could Be the First of a Wave of Crossword-Loving Boy Scouts

Well-liked census taker Bill Sparkman staggered through the verdant greenery of Kentucky's outdoor wilderness. He, a substitute teacher and Boy Scout leader, lunged for the nearest tree he could see, a Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica. Grabbing the barked trunk, the fifty-one-year-old man flung the Appalachian deciduous into his hands until bark tore from the tree and Sparkman collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canopy.

A voice spoke, chillingly close. Who is that voice? Sparkman wondered. From fifteen feet away, it said, "Do not move, Fed."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not One Cent More

My health insurance ended today. It's been a great day, a fabulous day that promises to segue into an evening of joyless overindulgence of liquor — the only non-aspirin-based painkiller I can afford from here on out. I knew this was coming for a long time; I even knew the date. But foreknowledge only changed the terms of the anxiety and anger, moving them from sudden intense outrage to sullen, sustained brooding.

Imagine, then, my pleasure in opening the mailbox today to find another letter from the Democratic National Committee asking for more money. They're not getting any more money from me. I don't have it. I have to save it. God forbid I get a miniscule cut on my eyebrow again, like I did a few years back when I didn't have insurance and only had to spend $3,200 to sew it up.

They're getting this from me instead:

I removed all personal info. Feel free to print out a copy and send it to them yourself (click to enlarge; it's already sized for envelopes), especially if like me you're going to be paranoiacally duckwalking across rainy sidewalks because — easy now — if you so much as slip and fall, that's a $30,000 bill right there. Do it especially because, honestly, what else can you do?

Perky Jerky: Invigorating Beef Jerky

Perky Jerky is the world's first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack. Put simply, we've combined the most tender and flavorful beef jerky, with an extra dose of energy (caffeine, from the Guarana we add) to provide a jerky experience you won't find anywhere else.

Whether you love it because it's the best tasting jerky around, or because it provides a nice little pick-me-up (similar to coffee or energy drinks), you're not alone. You'll find addicts in both camps.
How many times has this happened to you?

You've got a big presentation to make after lunch, but you're totally wiped out from the morning. Eating a good lunch might give you the energy you need, but it might also make you logy. Worse, you are allergic to coffee, tea, soda, Red Bull and other energy drinks, and you can't swallow caffeine tablets. You are Adrian Monk locked and loaded, ready to succumb to every histamine reaction known to man. Except to beef and salt.

The answer might be Perky Jerky.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fucked-Up Video Wednesday: Now on Thursday

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, SEN. COBURN’S CHIEF OF STAFF: It’s been a few years, but not that many, since I was closely associated with pre- adolescent boys, boys who are like 10 to 12 years of age...
If that doesn't make you want to watch this video, I don't know what will. Is it a day old? Yes. Is it awesome? Absolutely.

If you don't want to go through the whole thing, here's Schwartz's thesis: straight porn makes you gay, because it turns your sexual desires inward, making you focus on yourself?—which means a person like you?—which means, like, a man or something? (Assuming you're a dude already?)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesdays with Marty: 9/22/09

Note: Tuesdays with Marty is a recurring segment on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? highlighting the opinions of our publisher, Marty Peretz. Mr. Peretz wishes to make it absolutely clear that he is neither responsible nor liable for any content in this site, including but not limited to words, ideas, images, and things implied by said means of communication, in addition to other forms of communication not involving the above methods, whether established or theoretical in nature.

Hating: Louder than the Wall of Sound

I would have liked to begin this column and this partnership on a more pleasant subject. Quite to the contrary, however, there is a pressing injustice on my mind which I simply cannot, will not shake. You see, the greatest burden of knowledge and experience is continual, even chronic disappointment. Walter Benjamin once astutely defined boredom as "the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience." I am experienced.

Monday, September 21, 2009

'No, I don’t want the retarded baby—I want the other one.'

Vanity Fair just published a mini-memoir from Sarah Palin's former son-in-law-to-be, Levi Johnston. It's cobbled together from interviews and written in a streamlined narrative style, obviously with help from Vanity Fair staffers ghosting paragraphs from a bunch of wandering recordings Levi made. Considering much of it is critical of Sarah Palin, the presentation might seem a little slickly unfair. But this was pretty much the case with her campaign speeches and is liable to be the case with her forthcoming autobiography, so it only seems just that what's good for the goose is also good for the gander.

The whole thing is brutally funny in that way things can be funny when they reveal pretty much what you imagined was true all along. For instance:
Coincidentally, there had been a big rumor going around Wasilla that Bristol was pregnant even before she actually was, and Sarah had recently denied it was true. When we told Sarah the news, the first thing that came out of her mouth was “I just told everyone on TV that you weren’t pregnant. So how are you pregnant now?”
You suspected it all along, but now you know: Sarah Palin does not understand how people get pregnant. Hell, you can string this theme through other parts of the interview: "She always wanted things and she wanted other people to get them for her. If she wanted a movie, Bristol and I would go to the video store; if she wanted food, we’d get her something to eat, like a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell." This could very well be what happens when an infertile mind is told to guard her over-fertile uterus by "wrapping that shit up."

It's only four pages, and they're all gold, even if some of them turn out to be untrue. Also, lest you think I'm being uncharitable to Ms. Palin with this, page four has this gem:
After Tripp was born, Sarah would pay more attention to our son than she would to her own baby, Trig. Sarah has a weird sense of humor. When she came home from work, Bristol and I would be holding Trig and Tripp. Sarah would call Trig—who was born with Down syndrome—“my little Down’s baby.” But I couldn’t believe it when she would come over to us and sometimes say, playing around, “No, I don’t want the retarded baby—I want the other one."
Edit: hat tip to friend and reader Devri for reminding me that Palin has previously had zero tolerance for jokes about special-needs children, such as President Obama's "special olympics" gaffe on The Tonight Show:
"I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics," Palin said in a statement. "This was a degrading remark about our world's most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world."
I don't know; maybe these jokes become totally appropriate again once you quit your job.

A Brief Welcome to Our Blog from Publisher Marty Peretz


My suspicions concerning the internet are old news at this point, "Er zol vaksen vi a tsibeleh, mit dem kop in drerd," in the Yiddish — "the hat-wearing man is worn by his hat in equal measure." However, my experience has shown me that internet media is not going anywhere, for better or for worse, like Israel, yes, but also like Araby. Of course, in life, we take the good with the bad. One man’s Shia LaBeouf is another man’s Shia LaBeouf. And so, here I am, like Shia LaBeouf.

9/12 Postscript: FOX News Has a Pep Rally

From the Completely Unsurprising Files:

FOX News spent a large portion of this past week disingenuously castigating other networks for "not covering" the 9/12 protests. This despite ample evidence that pretty much all outlets either broadcast or printed a thrice-told story about a group of people that comprised no more than 0.057% of the total votes in the 2008 election whining about how they represent the real will of America. Perhaps what FOX meant was that other networks didn't cover the 9/12 protests with anything like the enthusiasm FOX exhibits. For instance, at the April 15 protests, FOX set up stages and gave away $500,000 in free advertising, to say nothing of fawning coverage of this new "movement" in the days preceding and following the protest.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Marty Peretz Just Bought Us

This is surprising. Marty Peretz just bought us, and I had no idea we were even for sale, or even who Marty Peretz was. By us, I mean both the writers and the site, Et tu, Mr. Destructo? Mr. Peretz will be writing his own column for us, as a term of his investment. I don’t know the subject, but Mr. Peretz has given me to understand it is tentatively titled "Tuesdays with Marty." I'm a little confused about this myself, so let me break it down for you. Hopefully, laying out a full explanation will help me get a better handle on this business as well.

Marty Peretz was the owner of The New Republic from 1974-2007, and since then has remained the editor-in-chief (although I'm told that's more of an emeritus position these days), despite divesting his ownership stake in that year. Recently, Mr. Peretz apparently decided to expand his journalistic horizons from airy, highbrow op-ed on to humor-and-commentary virtual publications channeled through the voices of historical and popular media personalities. His representatives insist this is a natural progression. Having borne witness to the changes and challenges confronting old journalism and wanting to prove his success story was no fluke, he's encouraged new journalistic organs to expand and thrive. Evidently, we are now one of them.