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.