Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seagal Samsara

by KIM JONG-IL

It speaks to the emptiness of my evenings of late that I've been cycling through the on-demand movie selections and picking the worst possible diversions. It's a kind of punishment, I think, for my sloth. And it's part necessity, as most of the good movies are behind a pay-per-view wall. This is how I finally saw Catwoman. Like a country uncle, that movie took my innocence, and since then, I've been seeking more depravity, caking on one fresh, gooey coat after another.

I won't go on too much, as I can't hope to compete with the numerous, excellent and antecedent deconstructions of Seagal's body of work. But I'll offer a few thoughts on tonight's offering Out for a Kill. Now, that is a great title for one thing.
"Hey, where you going?"
"Out."
"Out where, asshole?"
"Out for a kill."
"Ah, OK. Can you pick me up some beer and smokes if you pass by the store? I'll pay you back."
"Sure thing."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Settle Down About Arlen Specter

It's no surprise that Republicans are in an uproar about Arlen Specter. That he turned his back on their party after 43 years of membership and 28 years of service in the U.S. Senate has drawn particular ire. Pundits and fellow congressmen have called him everything from Quisling to Benedict Arnold to "that fickle bitch Winnie Cooper." Conversely, Democrats and liberal bloggers have in the main been very excited about it. It's hard to say why, on either side.

If Specter is suddenly a Judas goat, not much has changed. He already voted against restricting abortion and for stem-cell research while criticizing gay marriage amendments. And while his Republican voting record was obviously heterodox, his Reagan Republican credentials warped over time to accommodate Bush II's under-examined Iraq War premises, sanction of torture and invasive wiretapping. In short, like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment, his ass already played both sides; meanwhile, he was obviously willing to follow whichever way the wind was blowing. (In this case, it just so happens that he can no longer win a Republican primary and has seen hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians go Democrat in the last year.) For any Republican, this is one of those surprises of apostasy that should be totally unsurprising once looked at with more than a "Holy Shit" glance.*

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Glenn Danzig Virus

Glenn Danzig has probably always been metal's biggest asshole, at least in mainstream pop-culture consciousness. There might be worse insider or niche personalities, but he ironically looms large for the non-fan who only occasionally gets news from that world. This is no mean feat, considering he comes from a genre of music known for appealing to and being created by alcoholic white people angry at and victimized by things others can't discern and for reasons that remain mysterious. You'd think the world would know about dozens of these guys, but nope. It's just mostly Danzig.

Like most people, my knowledge of Danzig began with the sudden popularity of his song "Mother" in 1993. Over the years my education got filled in by friends who liked the Misfits — and one friend in particular, Tony, who made outstanding compilations of 1970s soul and lovemakin' music and capped them off surprisingly with a single track from either Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge or Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. Somehow, over this period, the only things I've learned about Danzig himself have made me think, "What a fuckhead."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Republicans Literally Reduced to Name-Calling

I actually had to verify this, then re-verify this, then — screw it, just to be sure — go back and look at both sources and rub my eyes with my fists like a Warner Brothers cartoon character stranded in a boat with Foghorn Leghorn as he slowly morphed between being a giant feathered chicken and a Kenny Rogers Roaster.

From Greg Sargent's The Plumline blog:
Over a dozen members of the conservative wing of the RNC have submitted a new resolution, to be eventually voted on by the entire RNC, that would call on the Democratic party to rename itself the “Democrat Socialist Party.” If the RNC adopts this resolution, the RNC’s official view would become that Democrats are socialists. From the resolution:
RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Site Address

This is just a heads up for those of you who have Et Tu, Mr. Destructo? bookmarked or RSS-fed to you. The new site address is www.MrDestructo.com. All old existing links and feeds should continue to work, as all the pages they're linking to technically still exist at the old ".blogspot.com" address.

However, now if you feel like telling anyone about the site, you don't have to try to explain a cumbersome web address, a difficult name, who the name references or any of that old bullshit. You can just say, "Mr. Destructo dot com." Or, if you can enunciate the distinction between Mr. and Mister, you can also tell them, "Mister Destructo dot com." That address redirects here as well.

Mobutu Sese Seko
Gstaad, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Glenn Beck: Employing Fascism's Linguistic Inversions to Call Liberals 'Fascist'

I'm not a huge fan of the "just go here and read this instead" format of blogging, but in this case there's nothing better than to send you somewhere else for the scoop. If you haven't been reading David Neiwert, the time to start is now.

Neiwert is the principle contributor to Orcinus, the best blog available for commentary on far-right activity in America. He's written books on the militia movement in the U.S. and is a frequent contributor to Crooks and Liars.

Today he again turns his attentions to Glenn Beck's television show and touches on the nightmare of irony that it presents in embracing a definitively fascist tone in order to ahistorically demonize liberals as fascists. I wish he'd gone more into Beck's tendency to step right up to the line of advocacy of violence to reestablish "America" and thus embody the same phenomenon he's busy condemning, but Neiwert covers plenty of worthwhile ground nonetheless. So much ground that no one quote will suffice, but consider this a teaser and please go read:
In its early years, fascism was best understood as an extreme reaction against socialism and communism, as “extremist anti-communism.” This view, predictably, was offered up by communists, who saw everything through their own ideological prisms. In reality, fascism was more complex than that, though the fear of communism was no doubt an essential element that fueled its recruitment and ideological appeal. At the time, there were very few attempts to systematize the ideology of fascism, though some existed (see, for example, Giovanni Gentile’s 1932 text, The Doctrine of Fascism ). Its true spirit was best expressed in an inchoate rant like Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Fascism was explicitly anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and corporatist, and it endorsed violence as a chief means to its ends. It was “revolutionary” in its fervor, yet sought to defend status-quo institutions, particularly business interests. It was also, obviously, authoritarian; the claim that it was oriented toward "socialism" is crudely ahistorical, if not outrageously revisionist. Lest we forget, socialists were among the first people targeted by Mussolini’s black-shirted thugs, and they were among the first people imprisoned and "liquidated" by the Nazi regime.
Glenn Beck's Liberal Fascism Hour.

Liveblogging White America's Inconvenience Tantrum, Part I: A Tea Party Overview

Click here to jump to Part II.
"It's a one-day protest aimed at nothing Barack Obama has actually done. It is aimed at the tax code imposed on this country by a republican congress and a republican president who was previously the champion of exactly these protestors. And so it is a completely wrongheaded approach to what's going on. They've picked April 15 as Rage Day for taxpayers, and there's not a single taxpayer out there who is paying a new Barack Obama tax rate. That doesn't exist."
— Lawrence O'Donnell, former Democratic Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance from 1993-5, HuffPo Contributor
Despite being surrounded and born free yet taxed to death, I had sort of a great tax day because of the tea party protests. Never has there been such a perfect storm of bad current events, bad history, bad English and bad taste. Then I remembered that it exemplified bad citizenship and even worse humanity and fell, unavoidably, into a bad mood.

I'll get to the liveblogging in Part II, but there are so many things wrong here that the most pressing question is which aspect to talk about first. Besides, of course, wondering whether "Finding the Black Person at the Tea Party" manages to shatter the futility scale for racial-equality parlor games.

Liveblogging White America's Inconvenience Tantrum, Part II: An Hour of Glenn Beck, Plus Pictures!

If you haven't read it, please click here for Part I.

This is the worst part. The actual transcription. I tune in early, so I catch the last half hour of Cavuto's show. I'm not sure what it's called. Body-Bag of Freedom, or All 50 States of the Entire World with Neil Cavuto or something. Sounds right. I don't know. The bit I see is revelatory, for three reasons.

One, Neil asks a pre-teen what he thinks about having his future mortgaged by the democratic party, without noticing that his mom's doing a perfectly good job of that already by yanking him out of school to learn lessons in Things That Bear No Resemblance to American History and, of course, How to Fuck Up A Protest. From where I sit, it looks like the kid would be happier scrolling the Facebook feed of all the girls he's in school with who've hit at least B-cups by now.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

'Dollhouse' Update: Still Misogynistic, Fanboyist, Shitty

A funny thing happened after the first episode of Dollhouse generated mostly lukewarm or negative reviews. Series creator Joss Whedon and the show's stars made the rounds pushing the same message: "Wait until episode six." It was an interesting sales pitch: if you think this is shitty, watch five more episodes! But the question it didn't answer was, "Why would you make a show that you think doesn't give the viewer a reason to watch for its first five hours?"

As I said in my earlier review, my friend Robert quipped that Joss Whedon is the Kevin Smith of television. Like Smith, Whedon enjoys no shortage of rabid internet fanboys willing to snap their spines in two to apologize for hackneyed plotting, stilted stylized dialogue, sexual immaturity and one-dimensional characters. True to form, fanboy apologists were quick to note that the less-exciting first five episodes were demanded by FOX: it wasn't Joss' fault! Joss couldn't jump into his show's mythology without placating network suits who wanted more stand-alone episodes.

Which makes some sense: the episodes were shitty compared to episode six because they set out to do something the show wasn't intended to do. What that doesn't explain, though, is why the episodes themselves were shitty for what they were. Hey, fine, it's one thing to have them be substandard compared to the series' overall goals and themes. But if you have to achieve substandard goals, presumably your talent will make you rise above lowered expectations instead of failing to meet them. What's ultimately sad about Dollhouse isn't that its creator had to create conceptually poor shows to please a bunch of suits, it's that he sucked at it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Society Owes Me a Ricer

by KIM JONG-IL

• Damn Ikea will only give me store credit for those fucking ill-fitting couch covers I bought in December.

• Gotta do something to disguise my spuds if the Asian Starch Gestapo comes a knockin'. First, they came for the polenta, and I said nothing...

• Some would say having a ricer and a garlic press is overkill in terms of bourgeois, lever-action kitchen gadgets. I say those people can dunk their nuts in a volcano.

• Telling people I have a ricer gives them the impression that I race tricked-out Mitsubishis with hunky, vaguely ethnic actor Vin Diesel.

• Look how shiny.

• As a notorious dictator, I'm always in need of new and novel devices to be used in the crushing of dissidents' nether bits. This is also why I bought TWO ricers, one labeled in red magic marker "P" for potato, and "T" for, well, you know...

• Hey, did I buy a fucking McMansion on a flimsy mortgage backed by no more collateral than a bass boat and a handful of unscratched Pick 'n Win tickets? Grant me my fucking potato toy.

• Constant consumption in pursuit of momentary respite from self-loathing has brought me to this ricer, and no force can turn me away.

• A hateful god gave Potato an ugly shape. Through this technology, we make him into something sublime.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Persistent Vegetative State—THE GAME!

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the failure of conservative supporters of the Iraq war (over 100,000 dead so far) and the death penalty to reaffirm their commitment to the culture of life by keeping a machine-assisted brainstem alive. I'm speaking, of course, about high-life hottie Terri Schiavo, who Bill "tears can give you AIDS" Frist brilliantly pointed out displayed evidence of consciousness by responding to light less than a legless, narcotized cat vainly chasing the dot from a laser-pointer by lolling its head at it.

It's entirely possible that the republicans' cynical and tactless overreach in the Schiavo case helped turn the political tide against them. Although the previous four years demonstrated a laughably hypocritical management of Americans' private lives at the hands of the "Party of Smaller Government," actually derailing the process of conducting national business to interfere with the right for a single person to die effectively repudiated much of their own party's rhetoric. To anyone who's watched loved ones suffer in the last days, weeks, months or years of their lives — i.e. virtually everyone in America — the national exploitation of one person for ephemeral political capital was probably nothing short of disgusting. That act alone likely catalyzed the process of questioning attitudes on euthanasia, the "culture of life" and perhaps even political affiliation for many.

Netanyahu: 'I Have an Extortionate Warmongering Ultimatum'

It's generally accepted as a truism that even the most moderate of Israeli leaders are so ideologically hawkish on national defense and their neighbors that they have to look to the left just to catch a glimpse of George W. Bush. While this makes Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's virtual ultimatum that he will "stop Iran's nuclear program if Obama doesn't" somewhat predictable, it fails to make it any less loathsome.

The ultimatum, reported yesterday in the Atlantic Monthly online, is of a dual nature, both in terms of logic and in terms of ultimata. First of all, it's a false dichotomy: Netanyahu presents the issue as one of choosing between America's or Israel's attack on Iran, as if it's a foregone conclusion that attack is the only alternative to everything else.

Second, another ultimatum follows quickly on its heels: "Netanyahu said he would support President Obama’s decision to engage Iran, so long as negotiations brought about a quick end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions." While a non-nuclear and non-violent solution is desired, it ultimately takes a backseat to a timetable that evidently has been established irrespective of the progress of any other action. In short, this is exactly the way to frame the urgency and the parameters of a crisis if you have equal or greater interest in preemptively justifying your own violent acts as you have in any other form of solution.

There's another, much larger and more critical issue at work here, but it encapsulates the dynamic of this piecemeal, disingenuous thinking better than it explains it. For now, how about some bold quote + reply to look at the mess that is this rhetoric.