Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Texts to Rafalca

About a month ago, I started tweeting at Rafalca, Ann Romney's personal torture horse, who Ann took to England to riverdance in humiliating circles after years of ruining her youth. I even kind of hoped to get a little trending hashtag going for a while, maybe to push Rafalca to break the silence and the cycle of abuse. She never replied.

Needless to say, it got discouraging after a while, speaking into the darkness when that special animal shone so brightly on the TV and the international stage. I became frustrated and had a bit of a tantrum. I tweeted these a while back, and someone reminded me of them. (I would have posted these on Tumblr, since that's where brief stuff like this belongs. But for some reason my Tumblr — or maybe all of Tumblr — refuses to render embedded tweets.) Maybe they'll keep someone else from making the same mistakes that I did.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Discovering Paul Ryan: An Odyssey in Twitter

There's something kind of wondrous about watching major world events unfold via a late-night Twitter feed. While a lot of the people hanging around are Aussies or Kiwis and thus up at totally reasonable hours, everyone else is drunk, insomniac, a crank, a news junkie or a dangerous loner. And, because there are fewer people around — and because those who are seem more forthrightly oddball — the response to these momentous events feels a little more intimate and authentic.

Watching Paul Ryan (R-WI) be introduced to the United States as the next GOP Vice Presidential candidate, and watching large portions of the still-awake, grouchy barfly part of the United States reject him like a diseased organ was a blast. There, at midnight, were thousands of people having fun with the careening, inevitable horror. It was as if all these strangers were in on some prank, giggling as it unfolded. Paul Ryan? The nerd undertaker? Really? Ahahahaha.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

TubeDubber: Dental Plan, Part III

The "Dental Plan" sequence from The Simpsons possibly represents the greatest use of five words in comedy history. And if that overstates the case, at least consider that many of us have repeatedly gotten it stuck in our heads for over a decade without much complaint.

Because it appears in my imagination so much, it winds up becoming an accidental soundtrack for lots of different things. It's easy to pair it with other things for a YoutubeDoubler. Anyhow, a bad case of writer's block sent me procrastinating on Youtube, and this happened. Click Homer to load.


I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Get Letters: 'Bend over and grab your ankles,piss ant'

This site has gone dormant over the last month due to a dead computer and my inability to do much more than write basic text documents with my makeshift alternatives. I do apologize for the lack of updates here, both links to pieces elsewhere and also new writing from General Ze'evi and other contributors who want to do something fun.

That's a ways off. For now, here's some fun hate mail I got about this piece on Gawker about Mitt Romney and Treason. I've attached an artist's conception of the sender, which I found by Google Image Searching "Crazy Motherfucker."

FROM: Jim Devitt
EMAIL: devitt9@aol.com
SUBJECT: Bend over and grab your ankles,piss ant

While Chicago community socialist revolutionary usurps our constitution,rule of law and attempts to take away our individual freedom quisling "Americans" like you are enabling and helping oblameo destroy America.we Americans are fed up with the pimps and pimpetes in the leftist oblameo radical leftist propaganda mill spewing out their ofal.america is waking up to the fifth-column of euro-socialist in our mist. The description of treason fit perfectly with you quisling socialist.we will never submit to to obameo's socialism or romney's progressive-moderate- liberal agenda.GOT THE MESSAGE PISS ANT

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Geraldo Rivera's Greatest Hits

by FUQUAMANUEL

As far as Fox News "personalities" go, Geraldo Rivera has always been the most palatable to me. Sean Hannity exudes a smugness unbefitting his accomplishments and intellectual abilities and bleats about "liberal double standards" and "media bias." When he furrows his brow just so and flashes that little smirk, it provokes a Pavlovian fist-through-TV response. Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly is a bully, constitutionally incapable of recognizing the existence of arguments and perspectives that have not emerged from within his own prodigious skull.

Geraldo, on the other hand, possesses an earnestness and childlike exuberance which at least doesn't make him instantly repulsive. Of course, in his case the line between "earnestness and childlike exuberance" and "buffoonery" is rather blurry, but he seems like the FOX News personality I'd be least likely to get into a bar fight with if we were to one day sit down for drinks.

This is not to say that Geraldo's politics aren't repulsive, nor is it to excuse his desperate attempt to use the Trayvon Martin tragedy to catapult himself back to relevance when he blamed the young man's murder on something other than his murderer. "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was," he said on Fox and Friends last Friday. He continued:

GAWKER: A Salad Bar of American Dread

Sometimes you just can't think of one "big idea" essay. Thankfully, every day, the United States commits so many individual acts of social, judicial and political horror that you can effortlessly pile them all together into a grab bag of nightmares.

I had no choice but to go that route earlier this week. Topics ranged from Arizona's cultural eliminationism, the snobbery of American colleges, the totally fucking insane Allen West, and the Supreme Court's ruling that you have the right to stay still as the police (legally!) finger your creamy white asshole without probable cause or even dinner.

Click the mystery box to go to the Gawker piece:


I'm posting the mystery box here, because I don't want to give away Jim Cooke's awesome art for the piece, which is absolutely hysterical and well worth the click on its own.

Also, this grab-bag format was poached from our own Idi Amin's Briefs Rodeo. So if you enjoy the Gawker update, please come back and read some of Idi's work.

GAWKER: Why Cheney's Heart Makes a Good Case for Obamacare

While the right used Cheney's heart transplant as an excuse to again attack Obamacare, liberal commentators again missed a chance to underscore health care inequality. Going after the low-hanging fruit of Cheney-heart jokes also meant missing the far more valuable low-hanging fruit of asking why every American isn't guaranteed at least some of the health care privileges that Cheney's lavish state-funded government insurance plan provided.

Click the Dick to go to the Gawker piece:


Note, that piece links back to my GQ piece on "Obama Dumb!" that linked and excerpted many incredibly stupid comments from The American Thinker.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

GAWKER: Time to Occupy 'Occupy Wall Street'

If you're an elected official, actual democracy is messy. It's anarchic. It does things you don't want it to do, like challenge politicians ostensibly sympathetic to your cause, propose legislative agendas inconvenient to easy goals and make you have to work harder to retain your incumbency when phoning in YEA votes on gimme legislation normally does that.

Perhaps that's why MoveOn.org has become a key organizer of The 99 Percent Spring, a group that seems just like Occupy, without all the chaos of "not mobilizing people for the 2012 Democratic slate." Because if there's one thing that is sure to harness the spirit of Occupy, it's a group that's helped elect Democrats so far triangulated toward "the center" that they'd lose 1964 primaries to Rockefeller Republicans.

Click on this baller astroturf car (credit here) to continue to the Gawker piece on astroturfed Occupy:


GAWKER: GOP Death Games for Kids!

Wednesday morning, a man working for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign described the transition from the primaries to the general election as "a reset button. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch." The man who said that was Eric Fehrnstrom, which would be fine if he were Professor Farnsworth's nemesis on Futurama or President of the Association of People Who Share the Same Name as Charlatans Groucho Marx Played. Unfortunately, he's Mitt's charlatan: Fehrnstrom is his Communications Director.

Click on Mitt's sudden uncontrollable urge to barf after hearing his own bullshit to continue to the Gawker piece:


GAWKER: The Sad Familiarity of Trayvon Martin

The same week that the Trayvon Martin story finally broke into the national consciousness also saw NYPD officers dislocating protesters' thumbs and smashing heads into windows in yet another scouring of Occupy groups. Automatic contempt for certain people and styles of dress, as well as assumptions of their unlawful conduct is neither restricted to the south nor any race. But that isn't why what happened to Martin is so familiar. That familiarity has its roots in Florida's Stand Your Ground laws as well as an incident that happened years ago in Texas.

Click on the gun-wielding thug to continue to the Gawker article.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

GAWKER: Obama Mouthpiece to Journalists—'Stop Snitching'

The most recent article from The Nation's Jeremy Scahill profiled the imprisonment of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye. For covering American cluster bomb strikes in Yemen and the radicalization of Yemeni citizens and their support for Al Qaeda, Shaye has been beaten and tortured, imprisoned for two years and, at America's request, seen a presidential pardon from Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh indefinitely tabled.

You'd think that more bloggers would be furious about this. Extending a blithe imperial hand across the globe to support the torture and imprisonment of journalists is exactly the sort of half-assed fascism they were rabid about back when George W. Bush was exporting America's headaches to our Dracula in Cairo, Hosni "Drown People in Barrels of Shit" Mubarak.


Click on the pic of Jay "Stop Snitching" Carney to continue reading on Gawker.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GAWKER: Dehumanize Yourself and Face to Bloodshed

You could be forgiven if, on learning of a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant executing 16 people in villages near Kandahar, you secretly wished that he was some virulent racist—a vicious dickhead who slipped through the vetting process.

Racism, at least, would have been a kind of excuse, evidence of a critically planned process. It's almost comforting: Even the most saintly among us has harbored or inspired some racial resentment. Racism is a universal form of bullshit—a lower-social-order attitude, but at least an indicator of some ordered thinking.


Click the image of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales to continue reading at Gawker.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

GQ: Seven Minutes in Heaven, Six Hours with CNN

One of my handlers at GQ — a stern but humane gentleman who obeys the law — had an idea: if CNN has been this bad during the rest of the campaign (and it has), then it's going to be a spangly, exploding abortion on Super Tuesday. And ordinarily, he'd be correct. Only, this time, against all odds, something went right with CNN.

Still, there were mistakes and weirdness. Virtual conventions? Yeah. Gloria Borger. Oh, Lord, yeah. Bad riffs, telescoping simulacra and gleeful invocations of Taco Bell? GIMME A HELL YEAH.

Click on the Stone Cold Wolf Blitzer below for a liveblog of six hours of CNN Super Tuesday coverage.


GAWKER: Andrew Breitbart's Dead

Good. General Ze'evi and I take a moment to look back comprehensively on a life that the media either mistakenly, squeamishly or warily summed up as mostly benign. You know, one or two regrettable bits, but otherwise a gauzy, sunny family portrait — like what Madison Avenue thinks wheat and beaches look like when you're menstruating.

Click on the dead fraud's impression of John Lithgow from Third Rock from the Sun to be taken to the article.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

GAWKER: Michigan, Home of Nothing

The predictive ability of presidential campaigns has been thrown out of kilter by a front-runner who can't win two contests in a row and challengers who can't win more than one on a weekly basis. Michigan didn't clarify anything. Reading meaning from Michigan is like trying to divine a source from the dust storm ejected by a Shop-Vac while politely pretending that nobody brought a device that farts anything.

Click on the Mitt & Rick cuddlebears to be taken to the Gawker article.


Thanks again to Jim Cooke for the excellent image you can see in whole by clicking the above.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

GAWKER: Rich-Guy Marionette Slapfight

My first piece wasn't a catastrophe, so the good people at Gawker allowed me to keep going. That looks to be the norm from here on out. (More below the pic.)

This time, I wanted to talk about how bizarrely satisfying it is to watch the Republican primary surrogacy developing via individual billionaire sponsorships. It is, of course, a horrendous development for democracy, and exactly the sort of thing we don't want to see happen. But if we are fated to be kicked around by bored people with lots of money who feel like buying a presidency, at least we've been blessed with an incredibly entertaining version of that fate, via a bunch of weird old coots.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

GAWKER: Mitt Romney, The Inauthentic Man's Inauthenticity

The good people at Gawker asked me to write something for them. And by people, I mean, "AJ Daulerio," whose last communication with me before that was probably reading me saying incredibly rude things about him. I'm sure this is a lesson for young students out there, and I'm sure it's the wrong one.

Anyhow, I was lucky enough to be able to write something that had been bugging me about Mitt Romney — namely, that the man is so thoroughly artificial that what stands out about him on the campaign trail is not that he's unreal but that he's badly faking being fake. Gawker illustrator Jim Cooke was also gracious enough to create this original work for the piece.

Click the miniature version of Jim Cooke's Mitt to be taken to the article and a much bigger pretty picture:

Also, if you get the chance, you might also really enjoy this excellent take on Mitt and his dad from Rick Perlstein.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Foster Friess Think Tank

Foster Friess made the news last week for the first time since his invention of inexpensive family-friendly hot dog restaurants and tasty iced creams.

You may already have heard of him as the man who's bankrolling the Rick Santorum campaign. At CPAC, he scored one of the best lines of the day by opening with a joke: "A conservative, a liberal and a moderate walk into a bar. The bartender says, 'Hi, Mitt.'" While that was funny, many Americans felt that his comments last week were not. When discussing birth control, Friess said:
I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it's such inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly.
Taken out of context like this, his comments are of course offensive. But a full look at what Friess espouses for America quickly dispels much of this foofaraw.

Let's be honest, upsetting women is not politically damaging when they have no business voting in the first place. In a Friessian political milieu, statements like these are a non-starter. Thus, to explain to America the broader plans he and Rick Santorum have for the country, I have gladly accepted a position as a Senior Fellow at the Foster Friess Think Tank for America, which was founded by this Friess supporter. (Another Fellow, Mark Brendle, has contributed to this site.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Youtube Doubler VIX: Dental Sparring

I had hoped for a new column this week, but various journalistic organs intervened. Sorry.

In the meantime, please enjoy this YoutubeDoubler:


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VICE: A Belated Santorum to You!

Nobody cared about Rick Santorum. Until now. I wanted to care, but he never came to me. Rick, he was distant. I called. I sent letters. I poked him on Facebook.

Unfortunately, he never replied. And, unfortunately, some of this is out of date by a few days, because CPAC happened. But most of the rest of it is still valid. Sadly. Click Rick for a sick trick:


If you haven't, AND I DO NOT KNOW WHY OR HOW, click on the Santorum to take you to Vice.com.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yet More Things I Want to Do When I Grow Up

Imagine the curse of writing for Mr. Destructo: doomed not only to set perilously high expectations but constantly to exceed them. Such is the case with our annual event, "Things I Want to Do When I Grow Up," a litany of challenges posed to ourselves and handily dispatched by the following year.

Consider an iron resolve that can only hesitate at obstacles devised by its own will. That previous sentence describes Volkesgeistes so formidable that all the terms in it would be terrifying if they were in German. Ours is a spirit that climbs Mt. Everest not "because it is there," but "because we thought of Mt. Everest."

You're welcome.

Again, as with last year, 2012's edition involves a collaborative effort from many of our writers. General Ze'evi handled our graphics, while Mark H. and Cory H. (no relation) pitched in with fresh ideas. MLB postseason fixture JShap joins us for the first time. Mark Brendle was killed in a catastrophic bridesmaid accident.

May your 2012 be prosperous, and may your January have been horrible.

Monday, February 6, 2012

VICE: Ron Paul, Hacked to the White-Supremacist Bone

In the last two weeks, we've learned from Ron Paul's own former staffers that he was fully aware and in control of his own newsletter operation. That removes the desperate Paulestinian rationalization that somehow millions of dollars worth of racist newsletters were sold for decades without Ron Paul's awareness.

"But, that was in the 1990s!" counter Paul fans. And there another inapplicable, inapposite and unpersuasive argument might have lain, if it weren't for a recent hack by members of Anonymous, who exposed connections between Ron Paul and white-supremacist groups. Connections that exist today, rather than back in 2008. As if there were a freshness date on courting racism. As if there were a time-stamp on being worthless.

Click the wrinkled, lecturing, race-baiting goblin to read more at Vice:


For more on Ron Paul, in order:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

DEADSPIN: The Lovable, Impish Bill Belichick

I always find it a bit suspect when people have too many contrarian opinions about sports figures. It seems like they're fishing for column ideas or more interested in being provocative than in being informative. So please believe me when I say that I blurted out, "I think Bill Belichick is hilarious," without any opportunistic intent. I think I'd just been watching some patiently trolling effort of his during a press conference and found myself grinning at how subtle it was. Either way, my little outburst resulted in being told to "write that down."

To gear yourself up for the Super Bowl, please enjoy my paean to Bill Belichick's sense of humor and intolerance of bullshit by clicking on the gray coaching golem below:


Friday, February 3, 2012

Jeff Passan Cares About Judgment and Caring

Josh Hamilton is a very good baseball player, and he is very good at drinking and taking drugs. Drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he proceeded to flush himself almost entirely out of baseball on waves of booze and coke. After being chastised by family and realizing how far he'd fallen, he straightened out his life and became the amazing player everyone expected him to be. Still, as is the case with many addicts, he's had relapses. He had one again Monday.

As of now, no one is sure what really happened. That didn't hinder Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan (who readers last met being defended by Bill Plaschke) from telling you what it meant. He said so in plain terms: "The particulars... don't matter as much as the act."

As of now, no one can be sure of the particulars of Jeff Passan's column. After printing it, he was immediately engaged, criticized or taken to task by baseball writers and personalities Kevin Goldstein, Old Hoss Radbourn and Jay Jaffe. He then announced that he was "updating column to suss [sic] out the point." (I'm sure Passan didn't intend to use "suss" correctly — as in "to figure out" — although God knows that he might as well have, if his aim was to contrive an opinion different from the one he'd plainly voiced.) He added that he "[wanted] to make sure for the majority of those who read in the morning, my feelings on the subject are clearer. Do not want greater point lost."

Here's the problem: the greater point wasn't lost. The greater point begins his column:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

VICE: Let Us Now Pity Famous Men

Despite Romney's decisive win in Florida, this GOP contest is far from over. Gingrich could net serious support in the primaries in former Confederate states, which can push his delegate count high enough to lock the GOP nomination into an endless death match. Which means, of course, that American voters are guaranteed at least one more month of listening to Newt and Mitt each declaiming louder than the other than they are more sinned against than sinning, more the whipped and resented faithful stepchild of America.

And there you have it: one man who's in the top 0.0006% in this country, and another one who just got a $10 million gift from a fan, each claiming that he's more oppressed.

Click the pic to read more at Vice:


Friday, January 27, 2012

Ron Paul (Never) Made Money from and Used Hate

Today, thanks to an article in the Washington Post entitled "Ron Paul signed off on racist newsletters in the 1990s, associates say," people can finally affirm, with confidence, the exact same things most people have been claiming for months:
[People] close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the [racist] newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
The Paulite rationalization has always been that he didn't mean these things published under his own name. And, more importantly, he didn't know.
Yet a review of his enterprises reveals a sharp-eyed businessman who for nearly two decades oversaw the company and a nonprofit foundation, intertwining them with his political career. The newsletters, which were launched in the mid-1980s and bore such names as the Ron Paul Survival Report, were produced by a company Paul dissolved in 2001.

The company shared offices with his campaigns and foundation at various points, according to those familiar with the operation. Public records show Paul’s wife and daughter were officers of the newsletter company and foundation; his daughter also served as his campaign treasurer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tampa GOP Debate: Deleted Scenes, Despicable Whores

Yesterday, GQ ran an article I wrote on NBC's Republican Presidential Debate, which was conducted at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you haven't read it, please go check it out. Otherwise most of this won't make sense.

I tried to rationalize not going. I deeply dislike these people, and their fans sometimes seem even worse. After all, they could choose leaders from among the great teeming possibilities of humanity in this country, and they instead chose Newt, Mittens, the Butt-Lube Guy and the Paranoid Race Goblin with a publishing problem. It's like the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, only the thing that crumbles is America, and choosing poorly doesn't have any direct punishment for them.

I broke down and went. After all, if I was willing to drive to see Rays games back when their starters were so bad that they posted 14.00 ERAs, I am already accustomed to commuting for failure. Besides, maybe something fun would come of it. When GQ said they were interested in some local color, that sealed the deal.

It went a bit long, and their blog format accommodates only one graphic per article. What that means, of course, is deleted scenes—and many pictures! My friend and local director Jonathan Wolding was nice enough to come with me at the last minute and take pictures of the spectacle. (You may remember him from the photos for the "Awake the State" anti-Rick Scott rally.) As always, click to embiggen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

GQ: Obama Dumb!

As part of their DEATHRACE 2012 coverage, the good people at GQ.com asked me to talk about the frequent Republican refrain — and sometimes dog-whistle racist appeal — that Barack Obama is essentially stupid.

Even when they don't have the stones to make the case directly, GOP candidates run to old lines about "the teleprompter" (a device every politician uses), or echo the sighing smug-fuck paternalism of someone like Mitt Romney, who says that Obama is a "nice man" who's just "in over his head." Barack Obama's being dumb is an empty claim that explains everything and requires no actual intellect or analysis.


Click the aw-geez Obama to be taken to GQ.

Friday, January 20, 2012

World War Newt

Years ago Newt Gingrich stumbled on a pretty good idea: garnish any policy proposal with multiple historical analogies or references to significant events and hope that one resonates with the audience.

History moves us; it bestows on us the sense that the mundane moments we endure are part of an as-yet unperceived grand narrative. Newt's schtick is that he alone perceives this narrative, and it works for two reasons.

One, as I said in a piece at Vice:
We Americans don't read as much as we ought, and our self-consciousness about this tends to make us reflexively credit anyone who claims he does. Gingrich tendentiously delivers policy banalities while citing books he's read or written, and it's easy to think, "Ah, a learned observation." It's the political equivalent of going to someone's house, seeing his 2,000-book library, and feeling uncomfortable about correcting him, even if everything he says makes him sound like Cliff Clavin.
Two, critics and historians are busy people. They don't have time to correct Gingrich on every point, because corrections require examining his statement, then having to explain where he and history parted ways.

Gingrich himself games this process by invoking history constantly, as if in a kind of endless filibuster against an authentic record of America that he dearly hopes to eliminate through repetition. Not only does he throw facts at the American people to see which ones stick, he also throws so many at intellectuals that eventually their exhaustion, disgust or crowded schedules will permit him to get away with one. He did this again last night, at CNN's South Carolina Republican Debate.

VICE: The GOP's Seemingly Never-Ending Debates

My editor at Vice asked me to say something about the interminable Republican debate schedule. He's a nice person, and worth following on Twitter, so I can't bring myself to hold this request against him.

If one thing leaps out at anyone watching more than a few of them, it's the homogeneity of the ideas and approaches presented. Click the Bachmann to read more:


Due to space constraints, one thing that I wished I could have talked about more was this: if you confine people to a tiny ideological sphere and then demand they differ from one another, all you can expect are marginal conflicts born more out of personal testiness than significant engagement with concepts.

Thus you have those moments when Romney and Gingrich — or any pair (last night it was Santorum and Gingrich) — turn to face each other, conflate minor quibbles into massive ideological breaches and bitchily try to undermine each other via forgettable clauses. When you see this, you're seeing the political equivalent of two clone-stamped 1980s valley girls arguing over whether Corey Feldman or Corey Haim is the hottest person on the planet. It only matters because the people involved are this fucking emptyheaded, and they only came to blows on this issue because they insanely both accept the underlying thesis that, "The most beautiful person on the planet is named Corey." This is The Lost Boys as politics, only substitute interpretations of "Reagan" for "Corey," make a drinking game out of it, and you will die soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

'The General's Fiction': A Military Internment of Literature — No. 1

Note: For discussion of Muslim figures in literature, we turn for insight to General Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, former Israeli Minister of Tourism. His multi-part series on Libya, Slouching from Benghazi, resumes later this year.


Amazing Gaze: The Western Eyes of Soulful Scribbler Caleb Powell
by GENERAL REHAVAM "GANDHI" ZE'EVI

"'Algonquian women in New England,' wrote William Wood in 1634, were 'more loving, pitiful, and modest, mild, provident, and laborious than their lazy husbands.' Wood imagined that oppressed Indian women would gladly embrace European gender roles with their presumably lighter burdens of female domesticity."
Kirsten Fischer

The holidays are long over. Liquor sales have stabilized; few of the year-end suicides remain undiscovered, and, if you are like me, you have a major haul of gifted books. Stacked on my bedside table, towering over my bloated, holly-jolly frame, the books are a leering accusation: "You're like all the others," sniffs The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. "Just direct me to the bookshelf best situated to intimidate your landlord."

As I limply cast aside the hose of my opium huqqa, ash sprinkling the datemaki sash of my authentic silken Nipponese kimono, I despair: literature is dead. Then suddenly, there is a change. There is a Powellful discovery. Who is Caleb Powell? A question I pondered not two weeks ago — now I have some sense of the answer, of an author who asserted himself in my mind's eye. Thus far, his vision has been inscribed only within a few brave avant garde presses, like Prick of the Spindle, Yankee Pot Roast, and Zyzzyva. I aim to change this.

In this special inaugural issue of "The General's Fiction," I invite you to imbibe deeply of the rose-colored drippings of Caleb Powell — author, stay-at-home father, poet. Let us, in the words of the late, great Christopher Hitchens, "let in daylight upon the magic."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

VICE: Settle Down About Mitt Romney

I meant to post this last week, but illness got in the way.

The head of steam Mittens generated from New Hampshire and his early polling data in South Carolina inspired a lot of easy predictions and overreach from the punditocracy. The word "inevitable" creeped in overnight, despite the conditions that attended his New Hampshire victory and the possible responses that other candidates might have.

Click Mitt to read the rest on Vice:


This Saturday's vote looks like it will go to him as well, but thankfully the results are not in yet, which makes the above-linked column still somewhat relevant. Read it now, before it withers on the vine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DEADSPIN: Boozy B-Roll at the Dais

A couple of weeks back, the incoming Editor-in-Chief of Deadspin, Tommy Craggs, asked me to add a few lines to a roast for outgoing editor AJ Daulerio, who has taken over the top job at Gawker. You may know Gawker as the internet's premier news resource for things people from SomethingAwful.com did the night before on Twitter.

You can imagine my reaction, which was to send my laptop table flying, throw my highball glass over my shoulder and drive from bar to bar in my town, ordering drinks and responding to requests for payment with, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" It was a mistake not to wait a bit for the piece to go viral.

Click the nightmare vision of AJ to check it out:


As far as gigs go, unpaid heckler for people with actual careers isn't all that bad, especially when it comes with the psychic compensation of this much fame. If I can keep this meteoric rise going, I'll be gunning for Ruth Buzzi's roastmaster job in just years' time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shantytown on the Fourth Estate

I think we were very deferential because in the East Room press conference it's live. It's very intense. It's frightening to stand up there. Think about it. You're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.
— Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times writer, March 20, 2003
Yesterday, New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane solicited reader input with an opening sentence so viscerally and efficiently dumb that it's almost sublime: "I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge 'facts' that are asserted by newsmakers they write about." Essentially, the ombudsman of the most important newspaper in America crowdsourced the idea that reporters might do their jobs.

The response was electric, and a majority of it featured the word "stupid," all of it deserving. Brisbane managed to pull off a stupid trifecta even before moving on from the lede:
1. He asked a question whose reply — YES — was almost guaranteed, making the asking a waste of everyone's time.
2. He asked a question whose obvious reply the Times might not embrace, trolling its readership with the illusion of valuing its voice in the discourse.
3. He showed the world that he was a person who had thoughts this simple and that the New York Times is willing to pay a person like this to head up its public accountability department.
Then, after provoking a giant readership on a topic this compelling and distressing, either Brisbane or someone else closed the comments section on his piece. Instantly, it evinced to critics that reader input — which was almost uniformly critical — would not be needed if it continued to fall on the undesirable side of the issue.

Still, as easy as it is to dismiss this as the unsupervised elementary thought experiment of a hack shunted to the reader complaint bureau, it's hard to shake the notion that the experiment was cannily structured. It's worth taking a look at how much work all its stupidity manages to accomplish in its favor.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo Openers: 'When Clu Created the Tronsgendered'

It's already 2012, and we have yet to address 2011's NaNoWriMo, or, "National Novel Writing Month." We have failed.

As explained last time, NaNoWriMo is something of an online tradition, when people who may not do much reading and certainly even less writing agree to put inexperience behind them and create an entire novel in 30 days. Like looking at a schematic an eight-year-old has drawn up for a treehouse, most NaNoWriMo works focus on wish-fulfillment at odds with basic rules, helpful guidelines, good taste or reality.

NaNoWriMo also doesn't seem to impart many lessons — or at least heeded lessons. An unstructured exercise only works as a learning tool if you have willing readers with a critical eye or the kind of self-awareness that allows you to discover the errors in style and structure you missed while writing. Mostly, it relies on the familiar non-writer's fallacy that writing is like talking, and anyone can do it. You already tell funny stories out loud, so the essential difference between that and a novel is time: novels are longer, and writing is slower because there's typing involved. NaNoWriMo is a game of endurance, and nothing makes that more obvious than reading its output.

Which is why, thankfully, nobody here has written one. Like last year, a group of Twitter wags have instead written only the opening lines to masterpieces that the universe, in its wisdom, will one day complete via random chance. Unfortunately, because Twitter archives all tweets beyond a certain "live" number, many contributions were lost to dumb website policy. A lot of wonderfully funny people couldn't be included. Here are the few that could be tracked down.

Bullet points link back to the original tweet; please click and follow people you enjoy, and please make sure that you give credit to the person who deserves it. (Formatting tweets in this way makes things easier in terms of presentation but should not be mistaken for authorship.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

CNN Sucks Really Bad

This article is part two in our Sucks Really Bad series. For part one, please see, "Newsweek Sucks Really Bad."

Unless you've spent a lot of time lately sitting in airports or being over 60 and scared to death of Mexicans, you probably haven't been watching CNN at all. Good.

The Daily Show and our national weariness with 24-hour news has made mocking CNN fashionable, but that doesn't mean that it isn't also reasonable. As tired and easy as it is to pause at a cocktail party to inveigh against the spackled shallowness of Snooki, it doesn't change the fact that Snooki is cultural garbage.

If you watched CNN's coverage of Tuesday night's Iowa Caucus results, you saw something of almost zero informational value being wasted at great expense. To achieve the same effect in your own home, take 20 singles, station a dog in front of your toilet, then make it watch you flush them one by one. It doesn't understand what you're doing, and what you're doing is essentially meaningless, but, hey: MONEY TOILET.

CNN doesn't settle for merely one MONEY TOILET. On Tuesday, it had both the MAGIC SCREEN, the SOCIAL MEDIA SCREEN, and, of course, Wolf Blitzer.