Friday, February 26, 2010

The Swiss Are Assholes

Poor Muammar Qaddafi. First, no one can spell his name the same way from year to year. In fact, I'm pretty sure I had to switch spellings during semesters in college once. Also, "Khadafy" looked way cooler, kind of like a split between Wrath of Khan and a blaxsploitation film. Second, he spent a good chunk of the 2000s being a poster boy for the efficacy of the Bush Doctrine after he renounced terrorism. But then he made one nutty UN speech, got a new president who didn't need him to prop up the notion that "the bombs-away system works!" and suddenly he's no longer that necessary.

Third, he can't even beat his servants in a Swiss hotel. What a bunch of bullshit. Look, you don't keep running a shithole like Libya for the money. If you want to run a country with shaky economic development, tribal conflict, violent crime and an arid climate just for the money, eventually you pull a Carlos Salinas de Gortari, rob the company store and set yourself up in a bigass house in Ireland, where there's water, beer and redheads who are reliably crazy in the right room of the house.

No, you run Libya for the perks: getting to use swords, firing guns in the air, buying really old missiles and whaling on dudes. I can't even comprehend how the Swiss don't get that last part. They spent 1300-1550 kicking the shit out of everyone in Europe for the money, mainly jabbing them with sticks. Then they got so bored they spent the next 450 years basically daring anyone to fuck with Popes just for another excuse to do something. The Swiss are assholes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Greenspan to UN: Let My Orly Go

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 "Birther Queen" Orly Taitz's attorney's recent announcement that she has sought the UN's protection from Barack Obama's skilled army of ACORN-trained assassins, we again turn to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Orly Taitz, I Want You to Seek Asylum in My Pants

Despite jabs I've suffered over the years for my "vedic calm" and "mandarin reticence," I am no different from any other human being and feel the need to reach out to others in their times of trial.

No, not the vast majority. I've never cared for them, to be perfectly honest. Especially not those who are armed and certainly as few people as possible who could be called "poor" or, worse, announce themselves as such before the driver can get around to the side of the car. But I am not inhuman.

Monday, February 22, 2010

'21 Jumpstreet': Going Back in Time to a World Without Humor or More Than Token Non-Threatening Black People

It's frequently unclear to me how certain movies or TV shows wind up in my Netflix queue. Once every few weeks or so, I have to mouse-over a DVD's name to even figure out what it is, all name recognition having left my brain long after losing any idea I had about what it might be about. Usually I chalk it up to some pop-culture blog's review or something someone recommended in instant message. With 21 Jumpstreet, the reason was incredulity.

I'm not sure how it came up in conversation with The Wife, but somehow it did, and I was stunned to discover that somehow my partner in both life and in mentally absorbing the worst parts of our misspent 1980s had no idea what I was talking about. The hair, the spectacularly old high-schoolers, the bad sound effects, the Deppishness... nothing. Partly out of a commitment to education and partly because I had an excuse to mask my selfish hunger for 1980s nostalgia schlock, I added one disc of the series to the queue. One. Nothing else.

I later added a couple more.

Jumpstreet: Potentially the Funniest Scripted Funeral

Continued from: "'21 Jumpstreet': Going Back in Time to a World Without Humor or More Than Token Non-Threatening Black People."

I wanted to talk about this scene, but I realized that there wasn't any one part of the previous piece where it would fit. It perfectly encapsulates the bad fashions, bad direction, hamfisted acting choices and really stunningly ill-conceived writing of the show. Plus, it's not often that a viewer can go into a show's cold-open on a funeral and come away with as much bafflement and unintentional humor. Take it away, Jumpstreet:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amy Steele Revisited, A Handy Jaunt Through the Remains of Her Online Presence and Mental Health

Yesterday, I posted an article summarizing the highlights of the blog "Brian Schofer: Emotionless Engineer," a barking mad emotional extortion of an ex-non-boyfriend. Blog author and Boston and scary-attic-cell resident Amy Steele conceived of the blog as a means of coercing her non-boyfriend and "Handy J" recipient of ten years into resuming their non-relationship. Either he would be moved by her pleas or leveraged by her righteous justification for literally leaving heaps of pony shit in front of his house.

It didn't work, but I thought it was so engrossing that at least the best bits should be shared, complete with links to the original posts. Little did I know that Amy would delete her blog within minutes of my publishing, leaving me virtually sole (one-stop) caretaker of her whole body of work. Sort of like finding a baby abandoned on my doorstep, only it's a really sick baby, and one of its arms comes out of the middle of its chest, and it's covered with meconium. Also it tries to bite people.

Amy cited privacy as the reason for her blog's deletion. However, she was more than willing to Tweet my article's address to people and continue to draw people's attention to writing containing her two months' worth of violations of another person's privacy. She was also willing to legitimize it by contributing to the comment section on it. (Notably the first thing Amy was upset about was that I didn't use my full name when blogging about her, to which the only real reply is, How stupid do you think I am?)

It seems fairly obvious that privacy is just a much nobler-sounding excuse for scurrying away from the internet than "my inexcusable and frightening behavior cannot stand up to scrutiny, and I have no response for well-justified ridicule." Amy's conduct suggests she's perfectly happy being on the internet, just on her terms, where you can't hold anything against her.

In the last 24 hours, people with more info on Amy have IMmed or emailed me extra details, asking for more content and for me to share with others. Given that I've already accidentally wound up online trustee to crazy, let's be completist about the whole thing. Below are some things about Amy I didn't get to in writing my brief summary, a link to a truly disturbing post about suicide on her supposed "work" blog, and finally more excerpts from "Brian Schofer: Emotionless Engineer."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet the Craziest Woman in the World with the Most Compulsively Readable Blog in the Universe

(For more excerpts and a follow-up, see Part II.)

I want you to meet The Next Big Thing, an amazing woman named Amy Steele. This morning, she was virtually unknown outside friends, family and co-workers. But by noon, a few hundred people knew about her because a (fed up?) co-worker sent out a mass email linking to her blog, Brian Schofer: Emotionless Engineer, a near daily vituperative and unhinged attack on — and desperate beseeching of — her eponymous ex-boyfriend.

From there, a friend of one of one of those friends (contributor Mr. Awesome) passed the link on to me. Just this afternoon, clicking back and reading more entries, I watched as her presence on Google search results expanded by an order of magnitude, as her blog blew up on Reddit, and her blog followers went from zero to whatever it is now.

Amy is fascinating. Amy is compelling. Come, meet Amy.

Yes, she's real. While this blog itself seems like it could be a delicious hoax, I believe my friend that she exists. She also maintains or is a member of three other blogs, one of which updates fairly regularly and has archives going back three years. Given that she is obviously completely insane and that one of those blogs is devoted to the new millennium's favorite pastime of shut-in catladies — posting daily book-blog memes — it makes her overall story seem legit. Book-blog meme clubs are the new version of webrings devoted to miscarried fetuses.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesdays with Marty: 2/16/10

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.

The Super Bowl and a Realistic, Focused Approach to Middle East Conflict

A mere eleven days ago, fans of the National Football League were treated to yet another stellar Super Bowl in a decade abundant with them. From the four contests featuring the New England Patriots, all decided by less than a touchdown, to last year's last-minute heroics sending the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals and seasoned man of faith Kurt Warner, most of these games have been a testament to athletic struggle to last the ages.

The game two weekends ago differed slightly, however, as the combatants represented not only the best of their respective football conferences but also two different modalities of thought and action, and in this offered two lessons in leadership.

Selleck: Usage, Sandwiches and Resurrection

Like the commonly perceived "Law of Threes" with celebrity death, there seems to be a similar one with pop-cultural resurrection. You go through your life as innocent and well-meaning as ever, and suddenly there's Jason Robards in Parenthood, and Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men, and then someone you know who never goes referentially further afield for a joke than Jay Leno namedrops Jason Robards on you. It would make sense if Jason Robards had died or donated $10 million to the Jason Robards Foundation for Sounding Gruff in a Cool & Fatherly Way for Four Decades but nope. The cosmos just decided Jason Robards was going on a lazarus trip.

Something similar happened to me and Magnum, P.I. recently. Tom Selleck hadn't kicked off or been found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, but suddenly he was all over my radar. I know that if I look at it rationally, it's just confirmation bias at work; I don't think of Magnum, but suddenly someone mentions it, leading me to prick up my ears to any reference to it or the actors who appeared on the show, Hawaii, Ferraris, etc. But just because you know how the phenomenon operates doesn't make it any less weird. I used to drive The Wife crazy by deliberately using Herman's Head* in really inappropriate analogies ("When you think about it, Mitya, Vanya, Alyosha and Pavel in The Brothers Karamazov represent different sides of human behavior, much like the archetypes inside Herman's head on Herman's Head") in a way that would trigger her noticing references to it elsewhere, even making her furious to hear the name "Herman," since it would inevitably lead back to that show and then her swatting at me. Even being fully aware of the dynamic and thinking that your husband is an idiot doesn't lessen the fact that the universe perversely knows about the show too and seems to conspire to put its name in others' mouths.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesdays with Marty: 2/09/10

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.

The New International Blindness: All Agog over Gaga Makes One Gag

This year I watched the Grammys at the home of a good friend and midway through the night thanked him that he had provided me an excuse to give away TNR's annual invitation. It came as no surprise that music's ritual celebration of itself turned a self-congratulatory gaze inward and away from the international stage yet again. That it again celebrated a re-branding of the old should also come as no surprise. But this year that it did so with such sybaritic glee seemed appropriate, fiddling as the children burned CDs of their own creation, another district of the New Rome of Hollywood ablaze and consuming revenue. It was the only satisfaction of the evening.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bay Area Post #1: The Unbearable Lightness of Being from There

I went back home to the San Francisco Bay Area recently. I hadn't been there in ages. While visiting, when I was driven anywhere, I spent most my time staring out the window and trying to figure out what used to be there, deciphering remodeled facades, re-learning how to get from A to B, the usual you-can't-go-home-again nonsense. That saying is true, but it helps you understand it when people bulldoze things you remember.

One of the consequences of returning to anywhere you used to live is that friends and family who'd rather have you back try to sell the old place to you. It's nice of them, an oblique and emotionally non-confrontational way of saying, "We miss you and wish you'd do something about that." But taken on its own, the gesture oversells. It's hard not to already feel a yearning to go home, so any pitch beyond your own fond live-action reminiscence seems like piling on.

This time, one refrain emerged from dozens of conversations and several people:

"There's no place like the Bay Area."

Now, obviously, this is true, for two reasons.

1. There is no place like any other place. Try your hardest to replicate another town, and you'll fail. Each city or region is helplessly unique despite whatever manufactured effort it might make. This is one of those realities so totally self-evident that naturally it can't be what people actually mean.