Monday, August 31, 2009

Um, Excuse Me? I Actually Know the Artist, and He Thinks What You're Doing Is Garbage

Does knowing the artist behind a particular piece of music make it more satisfying to listen to? I tend to think yes, probably because my experiences along those lines have almost always been positive. For instance, the Whigs-esque dissolute romantic tone of The Beauvilles' music would probably leave me questioning whether it was an honest lifestyle reflection or merely a Rock Debauch pose struck to sell attitude if I didn't know and like songwriter/frontman Shawn Kyle.

You're either the real deal or as totally committed to the pretension as to make no difference when you spend the night sleeping on a tiny loveseat, try to deal with your hangover by reading Yeats, then pass up drinking water, eating food and nursing your bad head because you totally agree that you should be driven home before the NFL playoffs start because no one should miss game time. After bearing witness to that, any song about the city imploding and/or getting shot over a broken heart instantly seems less histrionic and far more sincere. After all, even if the song's evocation of a quintessentially male mindset were a lie, the lie itself is one honestly attended to even outside the song's boundaries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An Open Letter from Sheriff John Bunnell

Note: we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, like to broaden our coverage of the national discourse by occasionally turning to voices and viewpoints not represented by our regular contributors. To discuss the Public Option health plan, we welcome the host of World's Wildest Police Videos Sheriff John Bunnell.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Okay, So Here's My Pitch...

So it's no secret that the economy's in the tank. It's spending more time in there than Patton's goldfish. And, look, I ain't gonna lie to you: this blogging thing isn't exactly lucrative. The other day I was at the grocery store, buying cat litter for my makeshift sandtrap on the one-holer I'm building in my backyard, and I realized as I went to pay that my account's overdrawn. When the cashier asked me for my money, I said, "You got a Twitter?" and when she told me her Twittername, I quickly tweeted, "The money is already in the drawer, look," and when she was busy reading and checking the till, I sprinted out the front door.

I've gotta make some extra income somewhere, so I've been writing pilot scripts like I want to wear my fingers down to really creepy little thalidomide-birth-defect nubs. The thing is, they're not selling. I'm cranking out unique, marketable shooting scripts at the rate of one per week. I should be getting more nibbles than a guy in a bear-suit that smells like fresh cookies walking into a Hallmark store run by ecstasy addicts, but so far I haven't even gotten a call back.

Look, this is quality stuff. I wouldn't be whining about this if I were just some hack starting out, but I'm actually a seasoned pro who knows how to deliver what ad execs and middle America want. Okay, to prove I'm not blowing smoke, here are the names of a few that got rejected (these should've been picked up for the names ALONE):

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ian Rutledge and the Shattering of Character in 'A Test of Wills'

I've never been a huge and unapologetic fan of genre literature, and I've always held a particular antipathy for some mysteries for the same reasons Lionel Twain does at the end of Murder By Death, condemning detectives like Sam Diamond, Jessica Marbles and Dick and Dora Charleston:
You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before! You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now — the tables are turned. Millions of angry mystery readers are now getting their revenge. When the world learns I've outsmarted you, they'll be selling your $1.95 books for twelve cents.
Mysteries are often stupid. They're typically written backwards from a simple equation (A + Killing B + Clue C = Getting Caught), and the text leading up to its mathematical execution tends to be choked with insultingly heavy misdirection and pages of indulgent imagery and banal musings on humanity. (The rose thorns meant their love could cause bloodshed? The shy witness was vulnerable?)

Genre literature, detective fiction included, tends to sacrifice (or fail to achieve) fuller characterizations either due to the needs of plot or the inability of authors to meet the ordinary needs of three-dimensional personalities in "literature." A more generous person likely thinks the formats and demands of genre stuff infringe on character portraits, and a cynic sees an author running off to genre because he hasn't the talent to make the real world interesting.

All too often the evidence points to the latter condition. For one thing, it's highly unlikely that a truly talented author would seek a genre in which his talents are held in abeyance; and, even if he did, it's less likely that he'd restrict his talents and not find a way to break them free. For another, in terms of detective fiction, all too often the evidence points to the author's disabilities and need for assistance. He creates that final equation and then prefaces it with hundreds of pages of fractured ideations of "what people are," exercising thoughtful-evocative muscles he simply lacks. Doubtless, to the author, this seems like heady stuff, but it takes only a few pages of Mrs. Padgett delighting in her peonies and Mrs. Addison sneering at her own maid to figure out who is a good person and who is a bad person and whether the author thinks humanity is better off in a bucolic and frugal setting instead of one of unreflective privilege.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Nobody Puts Becky in a Corner

On July 28, Glenn Beck said on FOX News morning show Fox and Friends that he thinks Barack Obama is a racist and hates white people. This brings the grand total of closet racist minorities outed by FOX and other pundits to two, including Sonya Sotomayor, who viciously and unconscionably suggested that minorities might be more attuned to minority issues than white men. This comment further reinforced suspicions of Obama's racism. How could he be planning to name such a racist to the court instead of choosing amongst underprivileged white males, who had previously accounted for a mere 106 out of 111 justices in history?

You'd hope that cooler heads would prevail, but in ensuing weeks, radical left-wing splinter groups like GMAC Financial Services, ConAgra Foods, Geico Insurance, P&G, Progressive Insurance, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, RadioShack, Men's Wearhouse, and Sargento Cheese have pulled their ad spots from Beck's show, no doubt cribbing from some Guerrilla Corporate Sponsorship checklist in Mao's Little Red Book. Beck is embattled, or so it would seem.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Want to Kiss Barney Frank on the Mouth

"Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler nigger president Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler DE BLICKS Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler MORE APARTHEID FOR POOR PEOPLE Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler SOCIALESM Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler COMYOONISS Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler healtchare Nazis DEATH PANEL."

Imagine the Nazi horror of someone trying to give every American health care. Imagine the cascading inferno of trying to give even people opposed to the current administration the best chance to survive to a ripe old age with the minimum of expense. Imagine how they want us to get rounded up into camps at least twice a year, where doctors can prey on us and help us to live longer, for less.

Trip Report: Wikipedia HQ

Years ago I worked as a legal videographer. It's basically like being a justice roadie. You run around with equipment needed to make The Law happen. People treat you civilly, and the occasional court reporter or neophyte attorney will give you the social equivalent of a mistaken- or pity-handjob before a deposition or site visit starts, but for the most part, you're meant to disappear whenever the big boys arrive.

It wasn't a bad gig. Because people expected me to dissolve into the background, I'd get to do what I wanted most of the time. I'd do a read-on to announce the beginning of a tape, then pretty much spend the day wearing a suit, sitting in swank conference chairs, sipping coffee and reading books. I read the entirety of The Naked and the Dead during a two-day deposition about a car accident, and thanks to the almost cartoonish evil of health insurance companies, I've read almost everything by Livy. While I was doing that, I made anywhere from $30-$50 per hour.

But because I was essentially alone the whole time, I had to try to make things fun. Books helped, but I'd go stir crazy without talking to someone. And there are only so many jokes you can make during the mic check. ("Check one check one, habeascorpus. Check two, check two, mortmain, mortmain. Check three, check three, enfeoffment, ennnnnfeoffment...") That's why I always used the setup hour to wander.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twitter: Failed NES Games

Even if you're an Iranian agitating for democracy, Twitter is still almost functionally useless. Your appeals to decency and to an international standard of human rights will be drowned out by so much indulgence and self-absorption that anyone's reaching you and achieving understanding will be something like a minor miracle. There's a reason why Conan O'brien's Twitter Tracker is a recurring smorgasbord of banality, and it ain't because the Tonight Show staff has to work hard to find it.

Twitter's best use, at this point, is as an instant joke-aggregator. A user hits on an idea; others pile on. As soon as the concept has legs, people attach a hashtag to it (the # mark, which automatically files the text following it into a thread on that topic: i.e., someone who writes about universal health care can add "#UHC," and their tweet joins a thread about universal healthcare that anyone can click on), and off it goes. While some people use hashtags for serious purposes, they're desperately misunderstanding what makes Twitter fun at all. Not random strangers getting together to solve anything — after all, who can solve or even explain shit in 140 characters? — but rather random strangers coming together to bust on anything.

Dental Plan: Youtube Doubler VII

Even if it makes me seem like I'm permanently stuck at age 14, I'll probably always consider Pink Floyd one of the greatest rock bands in history, and I'll probably always consider the "Dental plan! / Lisa needs braces!" exchange from The Simpsons' "Last Exit to Springfield" to be the funniest five words ever written.

Now those two great tastes can taste great together.

Click the pic for more:

And, yes, I actually got drunk and watched this all the way through.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fucked-Up Video Wednesday: Gabe Newell, Death Dealer

I have no idea who Gabe Newell is. Apparently he runs Valve Media and the Steam community, but these words are meaningless to someone whose gaming enthusiasms run to forcing trades for all the best players to the Boston Red Sox and destroying the New York Yankees for an entire season, or getting completely shitfaced and then sprinting through Star Wars: Battlefront II and slaughtering Jawas because I find their screams arousing.

Online gameplay has never meant anything to me, because in-house gameplay has already permanently evolved beyond my commitment. Sure, yeah, if I stop and put some thought into it, I can play any game really well and know what all ten buttons do, but I don't care. That's work. I want to play a game. If I wanted labor at great expense to my free time, I'd swap my wife's birth control with sugar pills. What I want from a game is about six buttons, max, most of which are devoted to:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Voices in the Spotlight: Sarah Palin's Unborn Sixth Child

Note: we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, like to broaden our coverage of the national discourse by occasionally turning to voices and viewpoints not represented by our regular contributors. To discuss the Obama administration's health care bill and its impact on the unborn, we turn to Sarah and Todd Palin's potential sixth child, TARP Palin.

I'm Pretty Sure I Can Ace This Death Panel

Sarah's been making a lot of noise in the news lately, and I wanted to share something she said that I was pretty surprised to read: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide... whether they are worthy of health care." Now, I don't know if a Death Panel is real or not, but I'm pretty sure I can fucking nail it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Birthers Are Awesome

Some people get mad at birthers, and occasionally I'm no different. Most of the time, though, I think they're amazing. There's just something so grandly foolish about believing that Barack Obama's parents set him, as an infant, on a nearly 50-year course of immaculate deception on the one-in-billions shot that he'd become President of the United States. It's even nuttier when you realize he was born in an era when people still wanted to set the hoses on blacks who merely wanted to be present at the same part of a lunch counter as whites.

That's the great thing about conspiracies, though: making sense is always secondary to their being scary as hell. I remember reading a book by Richard "Detective John Munch" Belzer once in which he spent an early chapter explaining how the moon landing was part of a plot by the U.S. government to exploit space for some reason or other; then, in a later chapter, he explained how the moon landing was faked by the CIA. At no point during the book's editing did it seem like a big deal that the two chapters' both being "true" meant that either one or both were wrong.