Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kim Jong-il: Welcome to Godhood

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, former Supreme Leader of North Korea and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, who evades foreign intelligence agencies by pretending to work the finance beat for the press in another Asian country. He last wrote about North Korea to debunk entertaining myths about the DPRK. He joins us today for his funeral.


Dear Leader
by KIM JONG-IL

If you're reading this, Jong-un, my spirit has already departed my totally ripped bod and is now soaring with the Manchurian cranes above the sacred peaks of Mt. Paektu. I probably expired after a lifetime of on-the-spot field guidance and direction finally depleted my physical resources.

This is more exhausting than most people think. I mean, your average Kim Joe-Blow might believe that a nuclear physicist is capable of splitting atoms without the Leader's input, or that a seventh-generation pig farmer has a suitable degree of animal husbandry knowledge without the Leader weighing in. Well let me tell you, we did not crack the top 200 nations in terms of GDP per capita (suck my chubby, Lesotho and Bangladesh!) by delegation.

It's an unfortunate truth, but our peoples are really, really shit stupid, and they need to be shown how to do everything. I swear, I don't know how many times I had to tell Jo Jae-yong, manager of the Huichon Ryonha General Machinery Plant in Jagang Province, to keep on making some machines.

"Faster, Jae-yong!" I'd say, "I don't care that you don't have any more sheet metal because we reneged on paying our Chinese suppliers. Use Juche!"

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Conlin

by JONATHAN BERNHARDT

Perhaps we never liked him anyway.

The baseball writers of my age and generation have found former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin's fall from grace easier than most to deal with, though not comfortable. Given almost any other impetus, comfort we would have found; before this week, I knew Conlin almost wholly as a wide, pompous ass of the institution, the moron who vomited forth the line, "The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler's time on earth: I'm sure he would have eliminated all bloggers."

He was as an obnoxious intellectual nothing of Philadelphia sports thought, a man emblematic of ways of thinking left behind in real time, similar in many respects to Murray Chass, the former New York Times baseball reporter who to this day insists his online column is not a "blog" because of the gulf he believes yawns between his and bloggers' professionalism.

That is the only way in which the two men are similar. I apologize to Murray Chass for putting his name alongside Conlin's, and that should say all that needs be said about the severity of the accusations leveled against the Daily News columnist. When a man casually opines that Hitler should have murdered you and yours, there's a fair few things he can do to make you uncomfortable about his undoing; Conlin did possibly the worst.

Last Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Nancy Phillips published a story alleging that Conlin molested four children between the ages of seven and twelve during the 1970's, among them his own niece. The other victims were friends of his children. Since then, another three have come forth to allege abuse at Conlin's hands.

It is impossible to feel any satisfaction over this. The concept itself is sickening.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Please Read: A Personal Appeal from Mr. Destructo Founder Mobutu Sese Seko

The last few columns posted here have stirred strong emotions. Politics is a touchy subject at even the best of times, which is why we rarely bring it up at dinner parties with strangers or introduce our spouses by saying things like, "This is my first and only wife, Jen. That's the same number of wives Barack Obama has and only one-third of Newt Gingrich's. Also, her face is still capable of movement."

Still, the last two topics discussed here are particularly incendiary. Christopher Hitchens is a beloved figure among the internet atheist community, precisely because he was one of the few atheists who ignored that community's trademark silence — and injunction against rabid group partisanship — and discussed his non-belief whenever he could shoehorn it into the conversation.

Ron Paul and race is likewise a touchy subject, an especially exhausting one for his fans. Too many opportunistic "journalists" have insisted on publishing smears about his racism just because he happens to be a candidate for President of the United States, and they have no compunction in slinging that slur around despite only having a paper trail of evidence. Personally, I don't think he's a racist myself. I take the same attitude toward Ron Paul that I took toward Bill Clinton when he said, "I did not have sex with that woman." If denial from a public figure accused of something negative is no longer good for us, where have we gone as a people? What boundless, featureless extremity can we not be pushed toward?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Burn in Hell, Christopher Hitchens

Note: For discussion of Middle Eastern affairs, we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? turn for insight to General Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, former Israeli Minister of Tourism. Having faked his assassination in the Mt. Scopus Hyatt Hotel, the General has been in deep cover, in Judea and Samaria, posing as an American goy pursuing graduate studies in the Middle East. He last joined us for Bela Lugosi's Dead, Part III: Killing the Bastard Bin Laden, Stage IV of the American Fever Dream.


Reflections in a Gimlet Eye
by GENERAL REHAVAM "GANDHI" ZE'EVI

"To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth."
— Voltaire

Hitchens was human trash, and his corpse should be interred in a grave worthy of his towering legacy, an eternally burning garbage fire, rising as high as a Baghdad sunrise, a smoky immolation of all the worthlessness that could be crammed in his "contrarian" paunch.

Even this dream, of the phoenix never rising from the ashes, preserves that peasant’s megalomania more powerfully than any embalming fluids currently coursing through his veins. Formaldehyde's more potable than his lifeblood's cocktail of lies and booze, a tincture only the diseased imbibe. Hitchens was strictly for suckers, a mouse that roared, a VH1 I Love the 80s panelist with a fancy accent, a rap sheet and cirrhosis. "Rationalist," "skeptic," "contrarian," "public intellectual" — court jester. He plied that ancient trade for the deadliest predators on Earth; his was the reflexive, suck-up, kick-down cruelty of the British madding crowd. That’s all, folks.

To cite an author he hamfistedly emulated (more or less successfully), Hitchens was Squealer the pig, a silver-tongued correspondent to the middlebrow, flattering of power, contemptuous of the weak, the bashful, the foreign — the sincere. He was a kept man to the bitter end, the part-time iconoclast. As Norman Finklestein recalled, "'The last thing you can be accused of is having turned your coat,' Thomas Mann wrote a convert to National Socialism right after Hitler's seizure of power. 'You always wore it the 'right' way around.'" Hitchens afflicted the weak and comforted the powerful, an abnegation of any public service a gadfly could perform. Though his Oxbridge accent and erudition were crucial in fleecing the provincials he knew the USA was composed of, it was his more American qualities that endeared him to the terminal-stage Republic.

The multiple comparisons to Lord Byron that Hitchens received are so disturbing as to deserve no response. I'll try anyway. Byron — a superhuman defender of the voiceless, an impossibly good-looking sex machine, the noble son of "Mad Jack" Byron and sole voice in excoriating the destruction of Ireland, a Bengal tiger capable of ripping apart any of Wordsworth's reactionaries in verse or in person, a man disgusted by the fatuous, self-satisfied corruption of the Tory elite and the once-radical Lake poets (who should "change their lakes for oceans"), a man contemptuous of an imperial masculinity defined by cruelty and weakness, fled that stinking island — died a hero's death in Greece, fighting empire.

Hitchens died in Houston, Texas, headquarters of Halliburton.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Game Over: Scans of Over 50 Ron Paul Newsletters

For a certain segment of the Ron Paul fanbase, no evidence of his disseminating hateful, paranoid material will ever be enough. Citing James Kirchick's piece in The New Republic wasn't sufficient, because Kirchick could have just been "making everything up." Then, when I and others posted copies of "The Ron Paul Political Report Special Issue on Race Terrorism," that too wasn't convincing.

"Proof that he said/endorsed racist things? Hardly. Doing it repeatedly in one document isn't enough to prove that he did it. Now, if there were many documents..."

Well, now there are many documents. Over fifty. Right here.

As I said in my rundown on the Paul platform over at Vice, reasonable fans of Dr. Paul now must accept that
there's no way Paul could have been ignorant of the content [of] 8-12 page newsletters published under his name for over ten years. Paul supporters face three losing propositions:

• He lacks the competency to control content published under his own name for over a decade, and is thus unfit to lead a country.
• He doesn't believe these things but considers them a useful political tool to motivate racist whites, which makes him fit to be a GOP candidate, but too obvious about it to win.
• He's actually a racist, which makes him unfit to be a human being.
Further, you can't dismiss this in the name of higher political or socioeconomic aspirations. Since Paul has no chance of winning — seriously, no chance at all — his only value is as a voice, a conduit for principles. And if your only hope is to change the discourse by amplifying ideas, you can do that via many voices and avenues. As I said in my Vice follow-up, acknowledging some of Paul's good ideas,
when you opt to support anti-imperialist and civil liberties ideals by supporting Paul the Candidate, you end up supporting everything else about him. That includes those newsletters and the unambiguous message to those who enjoy them: You can write these things and succeed; this works. The other good ideas to which he's signatory can't erase the fact that he put his name to those words printed above. The moral weight of those newsletters drags down even the most high-minded aspirations he has about civil liberties, and everything crashes down on all of us.
It's fine to have convictions about things he believes in. But when you voluntarily whitewash his record or choose to ignore it and champion him anyway, you are complicit in supporting the idea that racism and homophobia are morally inconsequential to the process of running for President of the United States. And, while many Paul supporters consider racism a social injury subordinate to extra-legal military conflict, there are just as many who disgustingly handwave at racism because it's an inconsequential burp on the way to more tax cuts, Free Markets, Free Money, Free Black Peop — stuff for me!

And still, for the faithful, this will not be enough.

Below, I've tried to give helpful general (bold) titles to each excerpt of the various Ron Paul newsletters available. These come courtesy of a zipfile of scans sent to me by reader Heresiarch, who, along with others, compiled it from various sources — although the lion's share, if not all, come from James Kirchick, who wrote the original, big Ron Paul story in The New Republic, in 2008. (You can see many of his highlights on the scans.) I have omitted the over 65 pages of scanned federal earmarks Ron Paul requested for his district, in a fit of States' Wants pique. I have also omitted the scans of Von Mises Institute brochures about a Secession Conference at which Paul spoke.

No attempt has been made to organize these via topic, since pages of each newsletter are apt to feature mini-articles on multiple topics, making organization futile. (My summaries don't indicate all that go on in the scans, so please click away.) Finally, below some of the scans, I've offered some comments in plain text. Those within quotation marks are direct quotes from the text appearing in the newsletter scans. Those without quotation marks are my own observations.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

VICE: Nobody Likes You, Jon Huntsman

Beaten down by years of feckless centrist candidates with no interest in the working class, Democratic voters turn to increasingly bizarre outlets for signs of rescue. Seemingly since 2000, they've annually flirted with some new Republican hopeful — a mythic, "Reasonable One" — whose bipartisan appeal will somehow unite the country and deliver... the same sort of feckless centrist anti-working-class policies they despise from their own candidates. Maybe it's the bad-boy stigma of it all. "Sure, he's going to fuck me, but he's so cool. He won't even pretend like he was that interested in it afterward!"

Jon Hunstman stands ahead of the other candidates as this election's Reasonable One, and somehow makes the exercise in anticipating disappointment even dumber than normal. After all, there is no Reasonable One in the modern Republican Party: an ideologically intolerant and rabid base ensures the instant punishment of the weak, the compromisers, the humanely tolerant. Worse, even if Huntsman — the aw shucks, regular guy, son-of-a-billionaire — were to govern exactly as he likes and not while fearing the teaparty lash, he's still not "The Reasonable One."

Lastly, he doesn't even have the decency to be ruggedly indifferent and overpowering. When America goes to bed with and gets used by the wrong guy, we want someone to make us feel like it was our fault afterward. Huntsman is the sort of person who'd apologize so much about having an early meeting that we'd all just beg him to leave.

Click Jon's pic below to be taken to the Vice article...


...and see for yourself what all this has to do with two porn stars and Newt Gingrich.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ron Paul Is Dead, Miss Him Miss Him Miss Him

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: Mornacale, a serious journalist and Brusly High School and Louisiana Campaign for Liberty's 2011 Douchebag of the Year. Despite showing all outward signs of an intelligent human being, he's still a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has yet to be seriously accused of killing anyone. You can follow him on Twitter.


How I Became Douchebag of the Year
by MORNACALE

Ron Paul died on the night of December 12, 2012. I know because I killed him.

I won't insult you by explaining who Ron Paul is, or detailing the extent of his fame/infamy across the internet. Nor will I expect that you aren't aware that Dr. Paul is (as far as I know) as healthy as ever; I understand he even gave an eerily good showing in the debate last night. This is a story about a hoax. Well, no. This is a memorial of a joke, a celebration of how a few bored strangers can unite the world in mourning over the tragic death of a living man.

Ron Paul was murdered by a Twitter hashtag. It was a nice, quiet one; its neighbors never suspected a thing. But in the evening of December 12, 2011, #MakeRacistJokesNotRacistAnymore began trending. Unable to think of any racist jokes of my own to respond to the amusing ones on my timeline, I chose to slightly re-interpret "joke" and tweeted, "Ron Paul died." (Note: all images below link back to the original tweet.)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Found Stuff: High School Walkthrough

Alex Nicholson has been finding stuff literally for years. Sometimes it's not even intentional. That's how good he is. "Found Stuff" is his attempt to freeze some of these objects and moments in time, to share them with you so he can get on with metal detecting and forget about them. You can follow him on Tumblr and Twitter.


With bullies, homework and public schools' flagging soda availability, high school is no figurative cakewalk and is only a literal cakewalk at graduation. On top of strict teachers' BS, there are unwritten rules to trip up on: how you should act, what you can say, which glass you can't break when there isn't a fire, where you can't dump out a bag of peanuts to smash 'em up and access the nuts inside. Fortunately, a high school strategy guide that was circulated and edited by a wise clique has made its way to the internet. Follow this walkthrough to make high school the easiest four years of your life. (Note: As most campuses have no speed limit for foot traffic, it's possible, using this guide, to finish high school in three years.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

VICE: Ron Paul, Part III: The Enpaulening

Today, on Vice, we have to deal with Ron Paul, Part III: The Enpaulening. There was the first version, and it was ugly and real, not like what we expected. It was like First Blood.

Then the replies made it all a vengeful, direct attack on something that was right. Like Rambo: First Blood Part II. We had to kill — even the made-up crap. We had to look the bad thing in the eye and say, "Aaauughhh!!!" Now, the third part, like Rambo III, it's about Afghanistan. We need to get the bad guys out. We need to fight them. Only the bad guys are us and Ron Paul is... right?

He is. Click the man who has delivered over 4,000 babies to be delivered to the Vice article that reconsiders Ron Paul:


One thing that couldn't be addressed in the Vice piece, for space constraints, is that Paul is the only major politician on the radar of the 24-hour news who rejects any premise for invading or interfering with Iran, which pairs the most sensible attitude on the matter with the most easily maligned candidate. The United States either has troops, drones or sympathetic regimes surrounding Iran, and American foreign policy wonks daily advocate either an invasion or terroristic strikes on sites within its borders.

Increasingly, our justification for striking at Iran is its angry opposition to the fact that we surround Iran, threaten to bomb it and may already be doing so via clandestine strikes and assassinations. We practice a bullying foreign policy, and then we act surprised when that policy backfires. Our only solution is to double down on that bellicosity and violently eradicate the same antipathy that we've directly engendered.

Lastly, while you're there, feel free to keep clicking the MORE button and dig on those comments. There's probably a 5-1 ratio of negative to positive responses, which is sort of entertaining when it's not a stone bummer.

Twitter Ephemera: Mike Florio

I'm not sure what Mike Florio's purpose is, but his weekly appearances on NBC's Football Night in America are keeping him from discovering it. Each week, he faux-banters with Peter King while trying to make reading a Huffington Post listicle of the day's football news off an iPad2 seem natural. Usually it seems the opposite.

Unengaged by news or analysis, the viewer is left to stare at Florio's complexion and let his mind wander. Instead of someone like Collinsworth or Dungy breaking down film, Florio reveals that some vampires aren't sexless teens, sexless Victorians or street-brawling brutes who also have sex. For some, the Dark Gift manifests as little more than looking like a pallid, venial, social-climbing CPA who apparently cannot die.

This isn't entirely fair to Florio. If he could glitter in sunlight, we'd at least think of him as a lovable, portable rave. And it's true that his site, MikeFloriosExtremeFootballZone.com (I'm guessing), breaks some news among the rumors that it breaks and then forgets about when they get embarrassing. He occasionally even mounts the righteous steed of Costasness, but that doesn't work out too well. Some people are just too small for that ride.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NotCoachTito: Dispatches from Parody Limbo

NotCoachTito is the former fake manager of the Boston Red Sox. He currently resides in the Parody Account afterlife, occasionally sending vulgar messages from the Other Side, about Bobby Valentine and John Lackey, to his personal medium Hunter Felt. In his spare time, NotCoachTito enjoys drinking Bigelow Green Tea, listening to Happy Mondays and pinch-running for his best hitters in the ninth inning of tied games.


Chris Brown Beats a Bill Walton to Death
by NOT COACH TITO

Chris Brown is why America can't have nice things. The renowned domestic abuser and also room-temperature-tapwater R&B artist recently struck his latest blow against actually entertaining pop culture, this time on Twitter.

A few weeks ago, "CHRIS BROWN IS A LEGEND" (yes, of course, in all caps) appeared in Twitter's trending topics. @TheBillWalton—an award-winning account written in the voice of basketball legend/current broadcaster/diehard Deadhead/Bill Simmons lust-object Bill Walton—responded with this joke: "'Chris Brown Is A Legend' is trending on Twitter. With that, we should all celebrate his greatest hits starting with Rihanna. Congrats, Ike!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vote for Ron Paul or the Dog Will Be Angry

Well, that's it. I'm voting for Ron Paul because of graphics.

The Ron Paul campaign released a new ad recently, which features the kind of sick computer generated explosions, dogs on things and big truck metaphors that pretty much immediately win me over every time. Plus, the voiceover is performed by a guy who narrates trailers for horror films, so his inclusion here is totally appropriate. NEXT NOVEMBER, THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS WHEN YOU'RE DEAD.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Ron Paul Political Report: Special Issue on Race Terrorism

One of the most entertaining aspects of yesterday's Ron Paul rundown is watching comments and Tweets roll in declaring that it contains no proof of Ron Paul's racism and everything of my perfidy or incompetence. In many cases, much of this outrage seems to be the product of a complete unfamiliarity with how links work. ("He didn't even prove that thing he said in blue words!") But most of it probably extenuates from the need to rationalize away all criticism of His Auric Eminence.


Thankfully, most of the rationalization is dumb. Let's take a look:

Friday, December 2, 2011

VICE: Ron Paul—Reactionary Racist Leprechaun

This week, the good people at Vice.com asked me to write about Ron Paul, because we both thought Newt was just too tiresome, and, "Please, God [we're] sick of Herman Cain. No more Herman Cain."

A lot of this Paul information isn't new. That's because Ron doesn't change. Time lumbers on, indifferently, into a bigger future, and he remains, hiding behind his 18th century battlements, picking lice off himself, rubbing coins fervidly and wearing a special kind of hat that says, "You can't force me to be a bowman if we fight France."

Unfortunately, Paul fans don't change much either. They see "no more War on Drugs" and "let's stop fighting in the Middle East," and everything else about the man goes unresearched or becomes a kind of meaningless hum. Which is why every now and again, you need to slap them. Hopefully this helps. Click the smilin' Ron Paul below to be taken to Vice:


By the way, the nice fella in the picture with him is Don Black, founder of Stormfront.org, America's #1 white supremacist site, which endorsed Ron Paul in 2008. (Even now you can find great information about him there, like, "All Republican candidates are Jew tools except for Ron Paul," which, perversely, is a fair reading of the GOP establishment's Israel policy.) The Paul campaign spent weeks pretending the endorsement and Stormfront's donation weren't an issue. That might have had something to do with not wanting to alienate supporters, like campaign coordinators who are Klansmen and neo-Nazis, or campaign volunteers like neo-Nazi Holocaust Museum shooter James van Brunn.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Five Stupid Arguments About Josh Lueke

Rooting for the Rays is an easy and likable activity. They have a smart manager and players with positive or at least neutral personalities. Their front office embraces critical thinking and new ideas. And sitting in the AL East with teams with monstrous payrolls, bigger fanbases and better stadiums makes rooting for them seem somehow just. Being an underdog by dint of fewer opportunities gives them an air of superiority in terms of baseball-fan morals.

Trading for Josh Lueke changes the gravity of the Rays' baseball universe.

Lueke has pitched all of 32 innings in the big leagues, and he may develop into a fine reliever, or he may not. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that the Rays might have obtained yet another undervalued player. Only, in this case, he's undervalued because he probably raped a woman.

In 2008, while pitching for the Class A Bakersfield Blaze, Lueke and some teammates brought a woman home with them. All of them were drunk. The next morning, feeling violated, the woman went to a hospital and requested a rape kit. The last thing she remembered before waking up with her pants off was a man ejaculating on her back and hair while she vomited into a toilet. DNA tests later proved that Lueke had sodomized her, despite his initially claiming that he'd had no sexual contact with her.

Already, the Rays' trade has created endless discussions no fan or human being really wants to have — the kind that foist a sudden need for armchair forensics, jurisprudence and politics onto people who'd rather just talk about baseball and would rather not discover the sexual politics of those around them. A lot of them are predictable and will probably be rehashed over the course of the season, and a lot of them are ugly. For all our sakes, let's get rid of them:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Completely RedZoning Out

At the end of this year's MLB postseason, I got a few IMs from people asking a variation of one question, "Where's JShap?" For the last two years, a writer I know has joined me for a chat-form "liveblog" of a playoff game. The first time was mere chance; he was around, and the game was miserable. The second time was planned, and this year he indicated that there was "no way [he was] watching a World Series game where Tony La Russa [was] coaching."

Despite this polite demurral, he suggested that it might be fun to see if anybody could make sense out of watching hours of NFL RedZone. Two people, one channel, countless games, no commercials, no downtime, no respite. Could anybody build a narrative or real understanding of football in that time? Could they say something profound about the game?

Here's the thing: they can't. If you want to have a conversation via any media, interact with some other form of communication, tend to children or pets, do chores, cook food — if, in fact, you want to do anything other than devote total attention to NFL RedZone, you will lose the thread. If you're willing to totally commit to it, it's possible to appreciate the pace and stakes of all the games that air on it. It's not beyond human understanding. But taking yourself out of it even for a little while renders it NFL A.D.D.

Still, we did our best, and we present that below, edited down from a monstrosity many times its size. A final note on the text, however: JSHAP is not actually named JSHAP, nor would anyone consider calling him that in real life. He needed a pseudonym, and it was a play on baseball's compulsion to call people "A-Rod" and "A-Gon." It's a stupid name, not reflective of the real person. However, this negative comment on naming schemes should not carry over to my other friends, Hench, Hopper, Dwelling and Jacqueline Onassis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penn State: 'Did They Do Enough?'

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: the mysterious Mr. Awesome, an underemployed law school graduate. He wants a job, very badly. He will also do part-time writing or editing work. He would like to be paid money. He would also enjoy health insurance, but nothing fancy. He fears nothing and has great credentials.


Pretend Moral Quandaries for People Who Don't Know Anything
by MR. AWESOME

From the outset, news coverage of the Penn State scandal has baffled me. Like all good law students, I sat through Legal Ethics 101. The practices and procedures of internal reporting requirements are burned into my brain. I saw correspondents and talking heads going on about whether Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, et al "did enough" by internally reporting these allegations in and through the Penn State bureaucracy.

I thought to myself, "Self, this is a corporate lawyer question. Why are these journalists asking corporate lawyer questions?" This news coverage confused me, gave me distorted, sideways flashbacks to the legal ethics course, only with everything just slightly off — like talking to an old friend in a dream, and he was an accomplice to decades of rape.

Monday, November 21, 2011

CLASSICAL: Tim Tebow, Magical White Person

A few weeks back, I was invited to contribute to a sportswriting startup called The Classical. They liked an article idea I sent in, and rather than respond to an email asking me for a fuller outline, I ignored it for two days and instead submitted a complete and entirely unrelated thing about TIM TEBOW.

Click on the Football Jesus to be taken to The Classical:


Right now, The Classical exists only in preview format, but it should launch next month with full bells and whistles. For now, you should check out the roster of staff writers and Google and track down their back catalogues. It's a pretty fantastic group.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VICE: 'Really? Newt Gingrich?'

Bad historian, worse novelist, wife-and-idea recycler and generally insufferable fatlord Newt Gingrich took the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nominee this weekend. Finding Newt in the lead in this horrific contest despite all the pragmatic assumptions about his chances and his sincerity is like overhearing someone start to tell a mortifyingly inappropriate joke at a cocktail party and then realizing that there is no punchline — someone actually means this.

Of course, Gingrich's surge comes on the same weekend that Mitt Romney was supposed to hit people with a gangbusters announcement that would reward them for spending 48 hours walking around with iPhones in front of their faces and frantically hitting REFRESH on social media. Naturally there was no announcement. At all. What can it possibly mean?

For more, click on the smilin' Newt and the Manson-eyed mantis below to be taken to Vice:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'The Shadows of the Night'

We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are a pretty collegial lot. We like to chat on instant-messenger services with each other, because often one of us will discover an illegal stream and password to an Irkutsk-originating pay-per-view video of human or animal bloodsport. Last night, as I polished a new column for Vice, and General Rehavam Ze'evi worked on Part IV of his three-part series on Libya, our thoughts turned to ways to help drive more traffic to this website:



You should embed a Pat Benatar Youtube to get more pageloads. Everyone loves her.






It would probably have to be the video for "Shadows of the Night," for the one-two punch of Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Attaboy, Bloomberg!

Apparently between appointments to explain to people that minorities and poor would-be homeowners tanked the American economy with billions of dollars of debt brought on by 40-1 leveraging, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to wipe the hippie smears off one of his parks. So long, for now, Occupy Wall Street.

I'm sure Bloomberg thinks he has a plan, and I'm sure he's wrong.

Bloomberg's office claimed that Zucotti Park had to be scoured of people and, with them, unsanitary elements that created a public health and fire hazard. Of course, all this potential epidemic and death lurked in the park before nightfall, before the eleven o'clock news, before people were at home asleep. They would also lurk tomorrow, in daylight, when people watch television or are on their way to work.

Given the sophistication of the economic cleansing — subway lines and the Brooklyn Bridge shut down, a mobile infantry division of police and vans, helicopter support and airspace denied to news helicopters, press stripped of credentials and removed from the park — it's difficult to view it as anything other than suppression, both of coverage and of the Occupy Wall Street movement itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Man Who Wouldn't Learn

by JONATHAN BERNHARDT

It is October 11, and ESPN's Buster Olney has opinions about things. Specifically, he thinks the list of candidates to fill the hole Andy MacPhail has left in the Baltimore Orioles' front office has six names on it: Tony LaCava of the Blue Jays, J.P. Riccardi of the Mets, Dan Jennings of the Marlins, Gerry Hunsicker of the Rays, Josh Byrnes of the Padres and Thad Levine of the Rangers. All Assistant General Managers or the equivalent, all men with rock-solid backgrounds in player development, all men with proven success in that role. It is a good list.

Local media sources in Baltimore, the Sun's Peter Schmuck most prominent among them, suggest that perhaps even this list is too long—that the Orioles are working off a list of five and do not intend to add any more candidates.

Then the madness begins. In a matter of days, Jennings and Riccardi drop off, replaced almost immediately by De Jon Watson (Dodgers) and Jerry Dipoto (Diamondbacks). Hunsicker indicates he isn't interested in the job by way of the not-a-blog of ex-New York Times sportswriter and current baseball grump Murray Chass.

Then Logan White (also Dodgers) and Al Avila (Tigers) pop up as candidates, as does Darren Oppenheimer (Yankees, and only the Scouting Director). Byrnes and Levine disappear as quickly. There are whispers that the Orioles even want to speak with Tony Reagins, the last general manager of the Los Angeles Angels—the guy who traded for Vernon Wells on purpose and, one would hope, while sober.

But that's fine; by October 25 the top two candidates on the list, Dipoto and LaCava, have already visited the large brick warehouse looming over Camden Yards' right field and have not only met with the Orioles search committee but also spoken with owner Peter Angelos himself. Most have Dipoto as the favorite for the job, with LaCava a very strong second. Both men are supremely qualified, relatively young and very highly regarded in their field. For the first time in years, things in the Baltimore front office are looking up.

One week later, Angelos and his Orioles are again the laughingstock of Major League Baseball.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

VICE: 'Herman Cain—One of the Good Ones!'

If Herman Cain knew his greatest value to the GOP was providing distracting cover for "reliable" candidates, he definitely overdid it. Too hardworking and Republican. If only he'd been a "liberal black" about it—lolling his stupefied, unemployed head in squalor and super-fertility, in between compulsively voting for Clintons—he might still have only one sexual harassment allegation and a weird campaign ad starring Joe Camel's sickly cousin, Joe Weasel.

Instead, he apparently tried to grope everything female in the United States, up to and including those so designated only after gender reassignment surgery. So now he's only got one real use: race-based tokenism!

Click the Herm below to be taken to Vice:


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Final Beauty of David Freese

by JONATHAN BERNHARDT

David Richard Freese is 28 years old and looks a bit like a young Sean Penn. He was born in Corpus Christi, TX, but grew up in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area. He grew up a Cardinals fan, of course. He almost went to school with Ryan Howard; he was four years behind Philadelphia's first baseman at West Lafayette High.

In a way, Freese is lucky: born in 1983, he drifts through the bittersweet 1985 and 1987 postseasons. The Cardinals began October in first place in the NL East both those years under manager Whitey Herzog, forced Game 7 of the World Series both years—and lost. Here's a sign of how much times have changed: in 1985, they were bested by the Kansas City Royals; in 1987, by the Minnesota Twins.

It is October 28, 2011. The Twins' and Royals' seasons ended almost a month ago, both bitter disappointments, but David Freese is still playing. In fact, he's less than twenty-four hours removed from the best game of his life, when he tripled in the bottom of the ninth with two strikes, two outs and two on, to tie the game, then ended it in the eleventh with a walk-off solo shot to straightaway center.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

VICE: 'Herman Cain: Gaffer Credit'

The good people at Vice.com, or at least one of them, asked me to start writing for them about the politics and the goings on and things these days. It's exactly like being Andy Rooney, except with a bigger word count, more facts and hundreds of thousands of dollars less. Although, as was the case with Andy, being concerned about what I think also portends senescence and death.

Because he's been dominating the news cycle lately, I was asked to share a few words about Herman Cain, who's doing his damnedest to create the political version of Napoleon's march from Moscow. Click the Herm below to be taken to Vice:


A "Part II" may follow next week, depending on how Cain and his supporters in the GOP punditry respond to the deepening allegations of his sexual improprieties.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bankrupt Politics and Occupy Wall Street

by ERIC AUGENBRAUN

On October 15, 24 Occupy Wall Street protesters walked into the Citibank at 555 LaGuardia Place with the intention of closing their accounts and, presumably, taking their money elsewhere. Because this completely legal act by a group of peaceful demonstrators was admittedly difficult to distinguish from a bank heist, they were locked in the bank and then arrested by the NYPD.


Media coverage of the confrontation—both local and national—was quite thorough. But while reportage on the Occupy movement has been impressive in its breadth, there has been an utter dearth of analysis from these same outlets. Indeed, if not for the heavy-handed response from the police, this action would almost certainly have gone unnoticed by the media. Meanwhile, questions like, "What did 24 protesters think they were accomplishing by withdrawing their money from the bank?"; "Do such lifestyle decisions constitute substantive politics?" and, "Can such politics pose a realistic threat to the prevailing political-economic order?" go unasked and unanswered.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Profiles in Florida: I DO AUTOPSIES

Florida might be the best state in the country for accidentally great billboards. In the past year, driving on odd little highways far from the interstate, I've lost count of the number of times I've kicked myself for not having a camera ready in time to try to snap an in-focus picture of some sublime artistic atrocity. I particularly regret missing the bloodied, manacled wrists of what I presumed was Jesus accompanying a vague shaming statement about marriage.

Rain, darkness or absent-mindedness have led me to miss one of the simplest and best signs, which stands at the side of a long, straight stretch of Interstate 10. It exhorts the driver to "DISCOVER THE POWER OF PRAYER" and shows two cadaverous, wrinkled gray hands emerging from starched white cuffs.

Every time you pass it, you can pick a new explanation for it. The artist had just seen the episode of Buffy with "The Gentlemen" and used them as a model. He was a huge Evil Dead 2 fan, and he depicted the severed, demonically possessed hand that tries to strangle Bruce Campbell. Someone ripped off a Charles Addams work and wrote the line about prayer over a happier tag-line, "Why thank you, Thing!" If you replace the cuffs with shaggy fur, both hands look like the sort of objects that fulfill your every wish with an ironically terrible curse.

Speaking of wishes, I sympathize with the Christian injunction to proselytize and save, and on a purely emotional level, I even find the billboard's message sort of heartening, once I get past the thought of the hands garrotting me in my sleep. But it just seems so badly premised, like it's going to reach someone from the south in some way that everything else about Jesus somehow screwed up. Hopefully a motorist will nod and gradually smile, his face dawning with slow epiphany, "Huh, prayer, you say. That thing that people have been doing for 2,000 years? I was going for bird divining first, but I can't make heads or tails of this ornithomancy textbook." Or, better yet, some truck driver slaps his head and says, "Waitaminute — just asking someone to give me all the shit I want? I'd have never thought of that!"

Still, as great as that billboard is, it pales — absolutely pales — next to this one:

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fall Classic and 'What Is a Classic?'

I don't think the tenth inning was even halfway over when Joe Buck started referring to Game Six as a classic. I don't know if that's true. A moment after Game One ended, writers praised it as a cerebral masterpiece, but the eagerness to make these games into metaphor and referenda probably overlooks what they've actually been.

Game Six does seem hard to top. This surprising, infuriating series demands a lot of energy even from spectators. In the ninth inning, I yearned for it to end, just to stop the frustration. I suspect the Texas Rangers might feel similarly. It would shock no one if both they and the Cardinals were unequal to the task of playing like they did last night.

Luckily for the Cardinals, they can feel buoyed by a thundering positive crowd and by the fresh memory of overcoming two different two-run leads in deciding innings. The Rangers must confront blowing those leads, blowing Josh Hamilton's redemptive moment, then come back to try it all again under a blanket of hostile noise.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tim Tebow's Passion Play

Tim Tebow is doomed. I don't mean that metaphysically, because I'm sure he's going to Heaven. Although, for humor's sake, I hope it's 99% full of Muslims and unprepossessing socialist members of the Church of England.

I don't even mean that from an athletically evolutionary level, although pairing him with John Fox virtually guarantees that whatever abilities he develops will be stamped out of existence by two runs, an obvious heave on third and long, a punt and repeat. Fox evinces a native disinterest in aerial yardage that suggests he won't mind if it germinates independent of his efforts, but until then he'll refuse to nurture it. (Only he could have been more surprised by Jake Delhomme's 2003 performance than Jake Delhomme.) Meanwhile, Tebow's NFL youth plays out like he's been sent to The Ayn Rand School for QBs: Do you know what a quarterback says when he reaches for drills and game tape? He's saying, "I am a leech."

But if anything's doomed Tebow, it's coverage.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Albert Pujols Still Strikes Out Where It Counts

Three nights ago, after the Cardinals' tough loss in an exhilarating World Series Game Two, Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan criticized All-Star slugger Albert Pujols for disappearing from the clubhouse, refusing to answer questions and showing a failure of leadership after a tough error cost the Cards the game. Since we lack the credentials to respond to Mr. Passan, we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? turn to award-winning LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke. He has not eaten a penis on video since 2008.


Three Rounds of Dinger Therapy Can't Cure Clubhouse Cancer
by BILL PLASCHKE

Last night, Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only men to hit three home runs in a World Series game. While driving in six runs, his five hits in six at-bats tied Paul Molitor's record for most hits in a Series game. The one thing he didn't do was prove Jeff Passan wrong.

Here's what Passan wrote following Pujols' no-show after Game Two: "Real leaders, you know, lead. They own their mistakes, like a ninth-inning error in the World Series, and they damn sure don’t let the pups in the clubhouse, the ones in their first postseason, stand and answer questions they’re not equipped to answer.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Isn't Chess: A La Russa Rhapsody

Apart from a bizarre attempt at pardoning Mark McGwire's very public use of androstenedione, I can't think of any time Jayson Stark has written something objectionable or especially silly. True, he might have, and I might have missed it. Otherwise he comes off like a good guy who loves talking about trades and spring training, and mostly he seems to get things right. Yesterday, not so much:
Maybe he's a long-lost relative of Anatoly Karpov. It's possible he grew up with Boris Spassky. Or maybe he just ran into Garry Kasparov at a chicken dinner someplace.

But once again Wednesday night, that noted grandmaster of the emerald chess board, Mr. Tony La Russa, checkmated his way through the World Chess Championships of October, at his Karpovian best.
Analogies like this are tempting, especially with La Russa, who probably does everything he can to suggest them to sportswriters, without overtly making a recommendation or editing their notes. His aloof, baseball traditionalist-craftsman image invites the analogy, drawing twerp satellites like George Will spinning on axes of doggerel into his orbit, reflecting light back at him. The only problem with the analogy is that it's really dumb.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Criterion Recollection: Phantom History

Note: We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are proud to present Criterion Recollection, an analysis of the popular Criterion Collection of historic and unique achievements in film. Your guide is Mark Brendle, a former media critic for BarnesandNoble.com and a short-fiction writer. Brendle lives in the Pacific Northwest in a small post-recycled yurt adjacent to America's largest family-owned retail video and book store, Art Trough. When not writing or staring purposefully at culture, Brendle works as a fair-trade coffee beanist. You can follow him on Twitter.


Phantom India, The Eclipse Series (1969)
by MARK BRENDLE

Phantom India is such a fitting title for Louis Malle's most personal work. The film not only focuses on India's underclasses, a near invisible people, hidden from western view by the pretense of India's elite, but the documentary form proves a phantom as well, mixing self-awareness, humility and outrage into an organic whole that even today jars us from our expectations. This seven-part miniseries, running over six hours, explores India during the late 1960s, before its unbridled industrialization exploded in full force.

Westerners hailed India as an exotic jewel, a land of sensuous pleasures, of vibrant colors, robust vitality and spirituality. India became an ideal, a sentimental notion of otherness to which westerners could retreat when they tired of their own mechanistic society. Take for example, the Powell-Pressburger masterpiece Black Narcissus, which used this idea-model of India to great effect. Malle shatters this image with an honest foray into the lives of Indians and a comprehensive overview of India's sociopolitical conditions in the late 1960s. This film captures a fragile and lost part of India’s history, between the era of colonial imperialism and the modern era of outsourced labor force, when the tides of westernization were on the horizon, but had yet to crash.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Remembering the League Division Series

GAME 162
On the last day of the season, the Phillies eliminated the Braves, letting the Cardinals slip into the NL Wild Card spot, while a rain delay and extra innings allowed a historic Red Sox collapse to nearly synchronize with an Evan Longoria homer that sent the Rays into the playoffs as the AL Wild Card. It was amazing, and it prompted an almost explosive joy from fans. This was what the end of the season should be like. This is why we didn't need another wild card team: "This is what you can shove up your horse and ride outta town, Mr. Bud."

At once, I sympathized and felt confused.

Disliking Bud Selig feels natural, like flowers growing toward sunlight or toddlers fearing snakes. Bud Selig does bad things to baseball, but wanting another wild card isn't bad so much as it's the least progressive solution to expanding opportunity for all teams. It's a simple solution, and as is the case with most institutional solutions in America, we assume that simpler ones are better because difficult or unseen challenges automatically portend something worse. Adding another wild card feels a lot like solving the inequities of private health insurance by mandating everyone buy it instead of trying a public option: when in doubt, motion will be mistaken for a valid substitute for real improvement.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

INFOGRAPHIC: ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF NYC CAMPING

On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Occupy Wall Street protesters would have to vacate Zuccotti Park, their place of occupation, so the park could be cleaned. After that, they would not be permitted to re-enter the park with sleeping bags, tents or other necessary occupation supplies.

The Occupiers refused to move, delaying their eviction. They suspected a trap: after all, having watched Boston police swarm protesters in riot gear and drive them out with all the subtlety of Hungary in '56, the smart play for Bloomberg and the NYPD would be to lure the protesters out, then keep them locked out. A decidedly non-aggressive tactic such as that would provide few stirring images of victimization. Then, in the streets, protesters on the move could be arrested, as they have been for weeks.

However, one particular group of campers is more than welcome on the streets of New York. My friend Robert even worked up a handy graphic to explain it:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Achilles Heel

by JONATHAN BERNHARDT

The night the Phillies' window begins to close, Ryan Howard steps to the plate with two outs in the ninth. It is a mild evening in Philadelphia, but it has gotten colder as the game goes into the later hours. No one has left. The Phillies are down to their last out in the 2011 NLDS. Unless Howard can tie or at the very least prolong the game, they will fall 3-2 to the wild card St. Louis Cardinals.

Howard has had a miserable series. In 20 plate appearances, he has two hits, a sacrifice fly, a walk and six strike outs. Those two hits were a home run in Game 1, an 11-6 shootout win in Philadelphia six days earlier, and a single in Game 2 the next night, which the Cardinals took 5-4.

To his credit, Howard has continued his bizarre, allegedly unrepeatable "skill" of hitting with men in scoring position—with only a home run, a sacrifice fly and a single, he has 6 RBI in the series. This is more than any other single batter on either team. St. Louis's Game 2 hero David Freese will end the series with three singles, two doubles and a home run and only rack up 5 RBI; his teammates Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot finish with a combined 12 hits, 4 for extra bases, and only 4 RBI between them.

If players have narratives, that is Ryan Howard's: he is clutch. His hits matter more than other men's hits. That is the reason the 46,000-some Phillies fans in attendance this night have some hope that their 102-win season is not about to come to an unfulfilling end.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Al Davis and the Media's Poison Jobs

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died yesterday at 82. For most of you, that means the end of the scabby creature who ran the Raiders and leavened seasons of humiliating losses with employee firings suffused with Nixonian paranoia and loathing. Skimming Twitter reveals pretty much exactly what you expect from the internet: "jokes" linking Davis to Lovecraft monsters, fantasy monsters, sci-fi monsters, other permanently arrested-development genre monsters.

I can't claim to have done much better. Years ago, I wrote out a kind of silly thought-experiment likening Davis to Hitler. I didn't mean to sincerely equate the two, nor to rehabilitate Hitler in any way. At the time, it was funny to compare the Raiders' hermetic and endlessly back-biting front office with Hitler's last ten days:
Davis' ending has yet to be written, but it's currently playing out with the same drama of palace intrigue.... Messages go out from the Davis bunker: this is the year!—we are winning! Like Hitler's movement of paper armies in the face of the Soviets' overwhelming forces, the gestures are empty and futile. Conflicting reports emanate from underground: this one is out of favor. This one shall be the successor. No!—we were presumptuous: the leader has not named a successor. Davis has taken to issuing public comments to pressure head coach Lane Kiffin to resign...; the gestures echo Hitler delusionally promoting Paulus to Field Marshal to drive him to suicide.
This wasn't an obituary, though, and was never meant to be. This was clowning around with gossip and strange newsbites.

I still feel a little ashamed of it, because it sounds like a slightly less boneheaded version of the "he was a crazy skin-cancer goblin who sucked!" narrative I've spent the day reading on message boards and the last few years pushed by a lazy and easily sated media. I felt like I was re-pimping an already cartoonish pimp job offered on behalf of Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell in exchange for ample buffets and token opportunities for "access."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seven Games in September, Part I

by JONATHAN BERNHARDT

Jonathan Bernhardt is a freelance writer born in Baltimore, Maryland who lives and works in New York City. His very first concrete memory of the Baltimore Orioles is Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series. He hopes they either get good or move to the American League Central before his liver fails. You can follow him on Twitter.

I. The Mathematics of Emotion
Since the last round of expansion in 1998, the 30 teams of Major League Baseball play a regular season of 2,430 games across six months—roughly 13 of them a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. Each of these games in turn lasts nine innings; some go longer, but for simplicity, let's say nine innings. That's 21,870 innings, bare minimum, each year.

Each team plays 162 of these games, roughly 26 per month. One thousand, four hundred fifty-eight innings—the regular season is unkind. It is long and grueling, and it bleeds together until games are just moments of madness linked by double plays, blown saves and fat men behind home plate. In the end, the difference between elite and hopeless teams is 40. A 100-win team is going direct to the playoffs; a 100-loss team is going direct the other way.

The Baltimore Orioles won 98 games in the 1997 regular season. Between then and last Monday, the team played 2,096 games of regulation baseball. In a few years, they will pass that 2,430 number. When you dream of Hell, pray you dream of lakes of fire and men with farm tools, not of 20,000-odd innings of the Baltimore Orioles playing the Baltimore Orioles, 13 hours a day, every day, all the way down. If you do, pray you wake up. If you don't, pay attention to Daniel Cabrera's year; it's possible this is the change of scenery he needed.

But that moment is still terrible basement-dwelling seasons away. Last Monday, the number stood at 2,096. Our story begins before the first of those; it begins with one last great fight between Could Have Been and Never Was.

Seven Games in September, Part II

Continued from Part I, "The Mathematics of Emotion."

II. The Chase
The first game of the doubleheader on Monday, September 19 is a solid Baltimore win, but there's no feeling of destiny to it. The Orioles start Jeremy Guthrie, a nice guy and solid, back-of-the-rotation starter that they got serious about trading two years too late.

The Sox start Kyle Weiland. Francona gambles here; the cupboard's a bit bare of major league-ready pitching since graduating Lester, trading Justin Masterson last year for the now-departed Victor Martinez and dealing Casey Kelly to the San Diego Padres as part of the package for Gonzalez. After injuries, they're left with Weiland. He might one day be a solid number-four starter, but this will likely be his last start of the year, even before he takes the mound. Once he leaves it, it's all but certain.

Weiland lasts 4 and 2/3 innings and gives up six runs, five earned. Looking back, there are rumblings on the horizon. In this marginally safer and more innocent time for Red Sox Nation, very few Boston fans have any real conception of who or what a Robert Andino is.

Seven Games in September, Part III

Continued from Part II, "The Chase."

III. Birds in Fall
On September 26, the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox reconvene at Fenway South, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, to send this season screaming back to Hell. Tommy Hunter starts for the Orioles; Josh Beckett, again, for the Sox. Each man allows two runs through five innings pitched; then Hunter pulls his groin. He makes it through the fifth but is pulled for former Houston Astro Troy Patton. Both Patton and Sox reliever Matt Albers came to Baltimore in the trade that sent Miguel Tejada to Houston; Albers was allowed to leave in free agency after the previous season. Patton was an intriguing starting prospect for the Orioles, until he tore his labrum twice. Now he's the most middling of middling relievers. Nevertheless, he gets out of the top of the sixth without allowing a run. He has, in fact, looked almost impressive over the past few weeks.

Beckett takes the mound in the bottom of the sixth and the game spirals delightfully out of control. Guerrero takes the first pitch up the middle for, yes, another seeing-eye single, with which he passes Julio Franco on the all-time hits list for Dominican-born players. With a strong second half, he's been an important contributor in the Orioles' resurgent September. As transitory as such success is, the Orioles can always use something to be happy about.

On the very next pitch, Wieters actually tries to bunt for a base hit as the Sox put on the shift. It barely goes foul. Jim Palmer shakes his head—you can almost hear him doing it—as the Sox stand pat and don't adjust their defensive formation. Wieters drills a ball to center; Ellsbury is there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

George Carlin Isn't Helping

As Occupy Wall Street looms larger in the national discourse, more people you know on Facebook will probably try to explain its significance to you in increasingly counterproductive ways.

Cartoon panels of rewritten David Caruso CSI: Miami one-liners are only a week away, while today we can rest easy knowing that people who watch South Park have looked at the extreme claims of Wall Street and the moderate claims of the protestors and are ready to call this one straight down the middle. These people might be your friends, or they might be David Brooks or any of the Washington Post's editorial staff.

One person who will probably crop up on your Facebook wall ad nauseam to explain things is George Carlin, who's been dead for over three years, but he just called it, man. What Carlin saw was that rich people frequently have more in common with other rich people than with poor people who share similar social or religious values. He also saw that our government has been captured by monied interests. Far out, dude — that's where he saw this coming. Don't take my word for it, click this:


Friday, September 30, 2011

Deadspin: Undervaluing 'Moneyball'

The new Brad Pitt vehicle based on Michael Lewis' bestselling book and a script by the authors of Schindler's Facebook has been getting unfairly blasted by exactly the sorts of people who you'd think would be in love with it: sports nerds. The negative reactions seem to come down to upset superfans, churlish nitpickers and cynics who see the movie as a chance to pimp their criticisms of the book again.

They're all wrong, of course, but funnily enough this was a lesson I learned because of — not in spite of — old people. Find out what you can learn about movies from sitting in a flickering antechamber to the hereafter with a bunch of people whose eternal Subway Club Cards are just one punch away from the big freebie.

Click the East Coast Bias-Sized Jeter to take this incredible journey:


Also, please come back this week as we recommence the annual death march into the 2011 MLB Postseason. Until then, feel free to check out the playoff and Series blogs from the 2010 MLB Postseason and the 2009 MLB Postseason.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Criterion Recollection: Jesus the Ripper

Note: We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are proud to present Criterion Recollection, an analysis of the popular Criterion Collection of historic and unique achievements in film. Your guide is Mark Brendle, a former media critic for BarnesandNoble.com and a short-fiction writer. Brendle lives in the Pacific Northwest in a small post-recycled yurt adjacent to America's largest family-owned retail video and book store, Art Trough. When not writing or staring purposefully at culture, Brendle works as a fair-trade coffee beanist. You can follow him on Twitter.


The Messiah and Murder: Spine #132, The Ruling Class (1972)
by MARK BRENDLE

Using a schizophrenic Earl who's cured of his messianic complex by choosing instead to believe that he's Jack the Ripper, Peter Medak's Buñuelesque The Ruling Class levies harsh social commentaries against established power hierarchies like the British aristocracy and the Christian church. Medak's adaptation of Peter Barnes' exceptional, darkly comic and surreal play can be read as a delicious skewering of class antagonism and a well-meaning but trite expose on the hypocrisy of power, but its true meaning lies in the necessary existence of the extremes of both The Christ and The Ripper.

Medak and Barnes implicate the structure of power in this schizophrenic split right away, introducing us to Jack's predecessor, Ralph, the 13th Earl of Gurney. After delivering a speech on the noble heritage of England, he returns to his bedroom to perform autoerotic asphyxiation in a tutu. The tutu might strike modern audiences as a cliché of crazy, but as Ralph prepares his ritual, one that he has obviously performed for some time, he speaks about how, for a judge, who has the power of life and death, all of life's other experiences fail to produce satisfaction. To experience a high close to that of sending men to the gallows, he must engage in bizarre and dangerous behavior. The ritual goes wrong; Ralph kicks over the stool and hangs himself, finally achieving full identification with the victims of his justice.