Wednesday, June 29

We're looking for a few good men . . . to get blitzed, paint their bare torsos, and regurgitate GOP talking points.

Given that Bush's little pep talk at Fort Bragg last night had little purpose other than to frantically dump another quart of oil into an approval rating that's been knocking and pinging for months now -- making it a superfluous bit of political theatre even by Bush's standards -- I don't have much else to say on that particular subject. Instead I bring you this far more revealing slice o' conservative life from the College Republican National Convention (found linked at Hullabaloo):

In interviews, more than a dozen conventiongoers explained why it is important that they stay on campus while other, less fortunate people their age wage a bloody war in Iraq. They strongly support the war, they told me, but they also want to enjoy college life and pursue interesting careers. Being a College Republican allows them to do both. It is warfare by other, much safer means.

Oh, goody, let's hear it. I can only hope that these next quotes were a bad joke, or simply elicited by the large amounts of alcohol being consumed at the event -- it wouldn't be an excuse, but at least it'd be an explanation:

By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."

And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests.

Huh, that must be one of those groundbreaking "ideas" the Republicans are always chiding Democrats for not having.

"We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."

Yes, Cory Bray, you've "done shit," all right. Let me be more specific: You've done jack shit.

God. An MBA student and a College Republican. If only he'd enrolled at UT-Knoxville instead of Penn, he'd have hit the Smarmy Unctuous Waste-Of-Oxygen Trifecta.

My dilemma, and some more scurrilous rumors.

Here's the thing: I really do want to see "War of the Worlds," which comes out this weekend, but I don't want to do anything that would be seen as supporting or putting more money in the pocket of Captain Scientology (I don't care how much he knows about psychiatry).

So what do I do?

a) Go see the movie and stop worrying so freaking much.
b) Go see the movie, and if anyone asks, tell them it's because I'm a huge Dakota Fanning fan.
c) Picket the theatre with a big sign saying Scientology is a false religion and telling Tom Cruise to repent, then sneak into the theatre right before the movie is about to start.
d) Wait until I go up to New York later on this year and buy a bootleg copy in Times Square.
e) Chill out and wait for "Fantastic Four" to come out. Jessica Alba . . . mmmm.

Speaking of whom, pageant-going homey Kristen told me over the weekend that when Tom Cruise made his first fateful contact with Katie Holmes, he'd also put in calls to the agents/publicists of Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner asking for a meeting. (OK, he may be crazy as a shithouse rat, but his taste in chicks apparently hasn't suffered.) Garner was off filming a movie and never responded, but Alba apparently went to his house thinking he wanted to pitch her a movie or something. They talked for like an hour, and finally Alba was like, "So was there any particular reason you asked me here?", and Cruise was like "No, just wanted to meet you," and Alba was like "OK then," and left.

No real point to this story, except that when Tom talks about Katie Holmes being the love of his life, what he really means is "Door #2." There but for the grace of God (and, it would seem, some more advanced critical-thinking skills) goes Jessica Alba.

UPDATE: Someone has proposed option . . . what are we up to now in the comments threads, "(i)"? Anyway, we now have a boycott on our hands (link courtesy Double Viking).

Monday, June 27

Ain't no pageant like a Miss Georgia pageant, 'cause a Miss Georgia pageant don't stop.

I was down in C-Town this weekend, visiting family and seeing the new baby of a couple of friends I've known since high school, but there was a third purpose to the trip -- the Miss Georgia pageant. My college friend Kristen, who works for the AP bureau in Atlanta, was going so that she could relay the names of the winners back to HQ, and she was like, "Do you want to come," and I was like "Yeah," so . . . we went.

And it was crazy, and cheesy for all the reasons you more enlightened folk have been criticizing beauty pageants as cheesy since the beginning of time, but you know what? It was fun. An assload of fun, even. I don't know if Miss Georgia is representative of all statewide beauty pageants, or even all statewide beauty pageants in the Southeast, but here are a few reasons why the Miss Georgia pageant is awesome:

1. The audience alone makes for some of the best people-watching around. I mean, Columbus as a whole is a pretty great people-watching town -- though in the same way people go to NASCAR races hoping to see a fiery car wreck -- but the typical Miss Georgia audience is just a fascinating little microcosm of the South. The audience is two-thirds to three-quarters female, and every female between the ages of 15 and 35 -- as well as a few "outliers" -- come dressed as if they're going to a freaking inaugural ball. Kristen and I were trying to figure out why this was, and I think it's because some of those girls honestly think they may be yanked up on stage at any moment. Like, if Miss Emanuel County or somebody fractures her tibia or gets a cerebral hemorrhage backstage, and the stage manager runs out onto the stage and yell, "Is there anyone here from Emanuel County?!" -- when he makes that BellSouth Call to the Bullpen and grabs some lucky girl out of the crowd to take her place, you'd better be dressed to the nines if you want it to be you! So far it's never happened, but that doesn't mean it couldn't!

2. The qualifying pageants for Miss Georgia are a pretty eclectic mix. There are the citywide pageants (Miss Atlanta, Miss Columbus, Miss Augusta), the countywide ones (Miss Cherokee County, Miss Fulton County) and even some college/university pageants (Miss UGA, Miss Georgia Southern), but beyond that you start getting into some highly abstract geographical constructs like Miss North Georgia Mountains, Miss Heart of Georgia, Miss Magnolia Midlands, et cetera. There's even a Miss Mall of Georgia, for cryin' out loud. Hear that, Yankees? You like to snicker about how we're all backward hicks down here who are only now discovering the joys of such things as indoor plumbing, but we've already built a mall so big it has its own freaking beauty pageant. There's no Miss Mall of America or Miss Del Amo Fashion Center, is there? No, there isn't! So cram it!

3. The Miss Savannah Pageant shut down, re-organized and came back as the Miss First City Pageant because the last Miss Savannah was arrested for murdering her ex-boyfriend. Read the story: She shot her ex-boyfriend in the ass, claimed self-defense, and was acquitted. Miss Savannah, ladies and gentlemen! I wish I'd gone to the '03 pageant so I could've seen what her talent was.

4. Speaking of which, the girls who compete in the pageant are (with a few exceptions) mostly pretty talented, though all the talents seem to fall into three categories: 1) tap-dancing, 2) jazz dancing, and 3) singing. I'm waiting for some contestant to break the mold by stepping forward with a really groundbreaking talent, and I have a few suggestions: singing something a little bit edgier than the standard fare, like something from "Avenue Q"; something hip-hop-oriented, like breaking or record-scratching; or doing one of Will Ferrell's "GET OFF THE SHED!" sketches from "Saturday Night Live" as a dramatic monologue.

5. I'd be willing to bet that at least a third of this year's contestants have some kind of University of Georgia affiliation. There were a bunch of Georgia Southern girls, a few Georgia Staters, even an Alabama and an Ole Miss, but a sizable plurality of the contestants cheered for the Dawgs (and openly expressed this over the course of the pageant). Did anyone profess any kind of Georgia Tech love? They did not -- there's not even a Miss Georgia Tech pageant at all, probably because if there was, the contestants would be two girls and a gay dude (and the gay guy would be the best-looking one of the three).

6. Kristen and I had this year's winner pegged less than 10 minutes after the pageant started -- Monica Pang, a former Miss UGA and a fellow graduate of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She killed. She fucking annihilated. And will do the same at Miss America, whenever that is. Monica, we love you. Holla.

Not only is there no crying in baseball, there are apparently no Democrats, either.

So it was OK for major Republican donor Wayne Huizenga to own the Florida Marlins, and it was OK for a dozen current or former team owners to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for George W. Bush's re-election campaign -- but George Soros can't buy the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball because that would be "get[ting] involved in a political fight"?

Right. Because people with political connections should never own sports teams!

In addition to "smaller government" and "individual rights," I guess we can add "free-market economics" to the laundry list of former conservative tenets that the current Republican Party is merrily pissing on. Ten bucks says that if Jack Abramoff comes calling, though, they'll sell him the Nats in a heartbeat.

Treading the fine line between Awesome and Staggeringly Freakin' Awesome, it's . . .

. . . John Rogers, a/k/a Kung Fu Monkey, who follows up his genius bit of reflection on where the real Republicans went with this savage smackdown of the right wing's tired "But Clinton . . . !" defense. Good times.

In a similar vein, there's also this bit of brilliance, which simultaneously skewers a similar right-wing strategy ("But the Democrats . . . !") and delivers that festering, good-for-nothing, ten-pounds-of-neofascist-shit-in-a-five-pound-sausage-casing fuckwad Karl Rove the scrotum-flaying he so desperately deserves.

Go read, now. Man, I wish I was that good.

Thumbnails are a cruel mistress.

Every once in a while I'll take a spin through Yahoo! News's "Most Popular" section," just to see what stories and photographs have captured the microscopic attention spans of America's web surfers at that particular moment. The photos are mostly cute kitties or Maria Sharapova's undies, but this morning I saw this photo thumbnailed on the Most Popular page:

Looks promising, am I right, guys? But click the thumbnail and you get, well, this.

Dammit, Yahoo! News, it's waaaay too early on a Monday morning for you to be fucking with me like that. "Ha, sike, she's actually a dude!" isn't going to be funny to me until at least Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday, June 26

Sunday Not-So-Random Ten, Voices In My Head Edition.

Since I sort of missed the boat for a Friday Random Ten for last week, here's a brief synopsis of the songs that have been running through my head at various points in the past week or so, burrowing into my brain and playing over and over again, an almost non-stop cerebral DJ rotation from hell:

1. Underworld, "Jumbo"
2. Del tha Funkee Homosapien, "Fake as Fuck"
3. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, "El Matador"
4. Dead Kennedys, "Soup is Good Food"
5. The English Beat, "Mirror in the Bathroom"
6. Rage Against the Machine, "Testify"
7. The Clash, "Rudie Can't Fail"
8. U2, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock"
9. Gorillaz, "Rock the House"
10. Edd Kalehoff, "'The Price is Right' Theme"

Now it's time for you, the readers, to share the song(s) that have recently assumed a death grip on your minds and refused to let go. Commenter who submits the most annoying tune gets . . . well, my sympathy, I guess.

Friday, June 24

They'd make one hell of a cute couple, though. (1.5 hells of a cute couple, to be exact.)

I was standing in line buying my gallon of milk at the Western on Highland Avenue last night when I saw the latest issue of People magazine in the rack by the checkout counter.

And my first thought was, "Only in Massachusetts, bub." And even then one of them's probably going to be the odd man out. (My money's on Tom, but by choice -- an ego like that doesn't want to have to share the limelight with anyone who might be as pretty as him.)

But that's just my interpretation.

Tricky Dick or Baghdad Bob?

Us naughty troop-hating liberals have been giving Dick Cheney quite a few kicks in the ass lately for his sky-high optimism about how the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes" and Baghdad is no more dangerous right now than Epcot. A guy at Editor & Publisher made the point that his rampant optimism sounds a lot like the bizarre statements of another figure who's played a big role in Gulf War II -- Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf, a/k/a "Baghdad Bob," the Iraqi information minister who became famous for declaring that Iraq was kicking the U.S.'s ass even as shit was exploding right behind him. See if you can figure out which of these statements were uttered by Cheney and which were said by Sahaf:

"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

"When you look back at World War II, the toughest battle, at the most difficult battles, both in Europe and in the Pacific, occurred just a few months before the end . . . And I see this as a similar situation."

"No, I am not scared, and neither should you be."

"Be assured: Baghdad is safe, protected."

"They think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win."

"I blame Al-Jazeera."

"We're giving them a real lesson today. Heavy doesn't accurately describe the level of casualties we have inflicted."

"Search for the truth. I tell you things and I always ask you to verify what I say."

"They are achieving nothing; they are suffering from casualties. Those casualties are increasing, not decreasing."

"Our estimates are that none of them will come out alive unless they surrender to us quickly."

The answers can be found here (link via Atrios).

Duncan Black can't say that, can he?

Atrios's response to the comments Karl Rove (Fat Fuck-TX) made earlier this week:

For the record, my motives aren't to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I'd ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment to keep them safe.

Now just watch some conservative ass gopher -- who has been silent throughout the controversy over Rove's remarks -- suddenly get all huffy and indignant over this.

Another link from Atrios points out the difference between the respective chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties: When Howard Dean says most Republicans are white Christians, he is a scoundrel who should resign immediately. But when Ken Mehlman says Democrats want our troops to die, nothing.

Awfully convenient how that works out.

Thursday, June 23

"I'm going to criticize the administration one of these days -- I just don't feel like it right now."

Whenever I say something really pissed-off and critical about George W. Bush on this site, you can practically set your watch by what happens next: First some conservative or conservative leaner will leave an indignant comment about how hateful and divisive I'm being, issuing knee-jerk condemnations of every single thing Bush does. Then I'll respond with a comment asking why it's any better to just go right along with every single thing Bush does. Then they'll respond with an indignant comment about "Hey, I don't agree with every single thing Bush does, I'm perfectly willing to disagree with him when he or his administration does something wrong," blah blah blah.

Oh, you are? Great for you and your independent, free-thinking little selves. So how come I don't ever freaking hear it?

You think our leaders in Washington haven't committed enough resources to the war effort? Hey, I got an idea: Speak up about it. Don't leave it to liberals like me, because the Washington Kool Kids will just roll their eyes and dismiss the criticism as coming from just another wild-eyed liberal kook. Your small-government conservative sensibilities are offended by the way Republicans in Congress are spending money? Fucking tell them so! 'Cause they're sure not listening to me -- now that Bush has won re-election with that massive, throbbing 51% majority, his guys on the Hill are thinking "mandate" and that means they can totally ignore the 49% that I'm in. You want them to spend less money? Wow, I want them to spend less money! Great, we're in complete agreement! So howsabout you proud, independent, free-thinking, non-Kool-Aid-drinking conservatives get off your asses and give me a hand here? I've been bitching about this for years, but for some reason I haven't heard a peep out of you.

When Dick Durbin decried the way human beings were being treated at Gitmo, you got all huffy and demanded to know what I thought of Durbin's comments. Like I was personally responsible for what he said. Well, guess what? Yesterday Karl Rove said it was the "motive" of Durbin, and indeed all liberals, to put our troops' lives in danger. Karl Rove, the president's right-hand man, said liberals -- a group that happens to include yours truly -- want our troops to die! Is that OK with you? Not shocking enough to be worth your precious time talking about it?

You get mad at me when I criticize the president, saying I'm being divisive and contributing to the growing rancor and hatred in this country. OK, so what's Rove doing? He just wrote off 49% of the country as people who want to see our troops get killed. You grumble at me for being divisive; you got any of that tsk-tsking left over for Karl?

It's like this, free-thinking conservatives: You talk a good game about being open-minded and being willing to criticize your own guys, but I have yet to see the rubber meet the road. You say it's a bad thing when liberals like me say stuff that might be inflammatory or divisive, but when a conservative does it, it's like you've all decided to wash your hair at the exact same time -- not a word out of any of you. Not in a column, not on TV, not on a blog, not on a hog, not in a box, not with a fox. Silence. You could hear a pin drop on a pool table.

So it's time to either shit or get off the pot. Demonstrate some of this independence, show me some example of this wellspring of free thought that allows you to be so critical of your own side, or I'm going to have to assume one of two things: 1) You're not actually as independent as you claim to be, or 2) you are pretty independent but you're a total pussy.

But being the nice guy that I am, I'll let you pick which one. That's my own personal olive branch I'm extending to you. 'Cause the last thing I want to be is divisive.

Chivalry not being dead and all that . . .

I stand by my statement that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and I are just friends -- though occasionally she'll use her senatorial pull to swing me the pimp-daddy suite at the Harrah's in New Orleans when I go down for the weekend, and it's hurricanes, hurricanes, hurricanes 'till the sun comes up -- but anyway, be that as it may, I still think she's the hottest senator we've ever had. Which is why I'm so incensed that Matt Lavine, God bless him, found out about this site before I could and thus was able to lead the torrent of outrage (to "call shotgun" on the road trip of righteous indignation, if you will, and I do) -- that the gentlewoman from Louisiana was not included in its polling. (I mean, they forgot Landrieu but included Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)? Maybe her picture was just taken at an awkward moment, but with her eyes all wide like that, she looks like she could give Jennifer Wilbanks (Idiot-Ga.) a challenge for the Most Coked-Up-Looking Public Figure Of The Moment:

Yup, that's two scary-ass white chicks right there. Two scary-ass white chicks who ain't got nothin' on Mary Landrieu. Look,, I'll give you a pass on Obama -- a suave-looking mack-daddy who makes pimpin' look easy, no matter what Ice-T says -- but I'm calling shenanigans on the fact that you omitted Mary from the proceedings.

ADDED: Wonkette's take, predictably funnier than mine.

Wednesday, June 22

All apologies.

So the pro-torture right demanded an apology from Dick Durbin for those mean nasty comments he made, and though none was called for, Dick gave them one anyway -- but, of course, now they've determined it wasn't good enough. Guess we'll have to appeal to Miss Manners for a final ruling on the Good Enough/Not Good Enough debate, but until we hear from her, allow us to ask when we're going to get our apologies from the following folks:

· George W. Bush, for lying about the circumstances under which UN weapons inspectors were forced to leave Iraq.

· Bill Frist, for claiming Terri Schiavo "respond[ed] to visual stimuli" when she was, in fact, blind; for thinking he could even make that diagnosis without ever even having met Schiavo in person; and for then falsely claiming he never made that diagnosis to begin with.

· Ed Klein, author of The Truth [sic] About Hillary, for just making shit up about Hillary Clinton (and Patrick Moynihan).

· This idiot, for not even doing the five seconds' worth of Googling that would've informed him legendary gay-basher Fred Phelps is, in fact, not a liberal; and for not doing the respectable thing when he was found out, which would be to admit he made a gigantic, mound-of-flaming-poo, ass-out-of-you-and-me assumption that turned out to be dead wrong.

So the way I see it, even if Durbin's apology was bullshit, y'all Republicans are still six apologies behind. Make you a deal: You take care of three of those, and we'll get Durbin to work on a new one.

Still naked after all these, uh, weeks.

For all of you who've been following the ongoing (well, more accurately, not-going) saga of Whatever Happened to Naked Furniture?, found this today in the Indianapolis Star:

BLOOMINGTON -- Doctors at Indiana University successfully re-inserted a feeding tube into Naked Furniture, a blog started by an IU law student, following an executive order issued by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday.

The blog was started two years ago by Mary Spears, who abandoned it in April to focus on her law studies. Spears claimed the blog had told her that, in the event of a catastrophic injury or computer crash, it did not want extraordinary efforts taken to preserve its life.

However, Spears could produce no written evidence to support this claim, and the dying blog quickly became a cause cel?bre for bloggers and activists outraged that a blog still capable of expressing intelligent thought and original ideas would be allowed to expire. Those activists heralded Daniels's order as a "historic victory" on Tuesday.

"Thank God that we will no longer have to sit and watch helplessly as Naked Furniture withers away before our eyes," said Keith Simmons, executive director of the National Right to Blog Committee. "We hope this will send a message to the rest of America, and the world, that every blog is precious."

Simmons and his fellow activists assembled a unique coalition of pro-life conservatives and liberal bloggers in the effort to have Naked Furniture revived. Together they kept up a near-constant vigil outside Spears's Bloomington apartment for nearly two months, protesting the removal of the blog's feeding tube. Several protestors were arrested trying to forcibly enter the apartment to post to the blog themselves or install additional memory on Spears's computer.

The controversy garnered national attention when the blog's cause was taken up by Republicans in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a licensed physician, even issued a diagnosis of his own from the floor of the Senate, saying, "I've monitored the blog's SiteMeter continuously over the past week and the numbers continue to creep up. Clearly, that means new posts and ideas are being expressed on this blog, even if we can't, you know, find out where they are."

Neither Spears nor her attorneys made any statements to the press in response to the governor's executive order, so it was not known as of Wednesday whether they would submit to the order or attempt an appeal to federal court.

You know, as someone who's had to make the unbelievably wrenching decision to pull the plug on a blog, I can definitely sympathize with Mary here. I can remember the days and weeks after I allowed GWBWYPGN?! to die a peaceful and natural death -- all those people calling my cell-phone to tell me I was a murderer, that I had committed "blogicide," that I was going to receive harsh judgment from God when my day finally came. Some of them even accused me of having started this blog in secret before GWBWYPGN?! had officially ended and accused me of killing the old blog just so I could spend more time working on the new one. So I know what Mary has been going through, and I don't think we should judge her. Still, it's nice to know Naked Furniture will be back.

Monday, June 20

Hey, I'm not stupid -- now, these people, they're morons!

Democratic homey (and fellow Bulldog) Blake sent me this article today to see if I would find it as offensive as he did. Consider me offended, though not in the "How rude!" sense so much as the "Blehh, human nature never fails to disappoint" sense. More "Democrats hate the military/family/God/babies" rhetoric, and not only is it silly, it's not even original. (Well, except for the "anti-baby" part -- can't say I've heard that one before. I've always gotten along pretty well with babies, though maybe they were just getting along with me for fear that as a liberal I would try to drink their blood or, failing that, sell them into white slavery or something.)

Most of Jesse Lee Peterson's inane rhetoric I won't dignify with a response, given that Peterson is as wacky a drama queen as they come (he accuses Jesse Jackson of ordering a hit on him and then proceeds to call Jackson the attention whore . . . uh-huh, sure, whatever). But Peterson's whole "The Democratic Party has black people totally fooled" shtick struck a nerve with me, and it didn't really hit me why until I thought back to right after the smoke from the 2004 election cleared. Remember how much umbrage conservatives took at that "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" headline in the UK's Daily Mirror? Remember how mad they were -- and rightfully so -- that those elitist liberals would think they only voted for Bush because they were too stupid to know better? You do? OK then. So how is it any less condescending -- and how is it not kind of subconsciously racist -- for conservatives (whether black or white) to grouse that African-Americans only continue to vote Democratic because they're dumb enough to be easily fooled?

After posting the above-linked GWBWYPGN?! post, I got yelled at by a libertarian-leaning friend for calling the Bush voters "misinformed," which he deemed unfair and condescending. My response was that "misinformed" is a perfectly accurate description of people who believe in statements like "WMDs have been found in Iraq" and "Saddam helped plan 9/11" that have been declared categorically false by the authorities assigned to investigate such things, but OK, being a nice guy and all I'll stipulate (for the purposes of this example) that "misinformed" is a condescending description and I'm basically just being an asshole. If that's the case, then how is it any less condescending and assholish to say African-Americans are easily duped marks who only vote Democratic because they haven't bothered to figure out the "real truth" (whatever that is) about what the Democrats believe? Is it possible that, somewhere, somehow, a few African-Americans have bothered to examine both sides' positions on the issues, think about how those positions stand to impact their daily lives, and come to an independent decision that Democrats do the best job of representing their interests? If you somehow don't think that any of them are capable of doing that, doesn't that kind of make you a huuuuge freaking racist?

I got a deal for you, conservatives: I'll stop calling your white voters dumb if you stop calling our black voters dumb. M'kay? I mean, you can keep calling our black voters dumb if you want, but it's kind of a dick move if you ask me, and if you're gonna be all assy like that then you shouldn't get your Underoos in a wad when Howard Dean observes how few black people seem to be voting for you.

Saturday, June 18

Oh, yeah, I take it all back.

Turns out all those right-wingers were right and I was wrong: Guantanamo Bay is a paradise come to earth, and Dick Durbin is a pussy Osama-loving traitor for so much as uttering one word about it.

How did I come to this revelation? Fox News's Chris Wallace showed me the light (link via Atrios):

"I think they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate on themselves."

- Chris Wallace speaking on Hugh Hewitt's Friday radio program about those lucky Auschwitz victims.

For those of you who are standing on the platform scratching your heads, utterly nonplused, as this particular train of thought careens through the station without stopping, let me see if I can explain how Wallace's particular brand of logic gets from point A to point B: At Auschwitz, Nazis did not allow their prisoners to shit on themselves because they killed them all. However, we let Gitmo prisoners shit on themselves, therefore we are on the side of the angels. Man, how on earth did "Bush '04: He's tanned, he's rested, he's letting you shit your pants" not make it into Karl Rove's pantheon of campaign slogans last year?

Or, to put Wallace's logic as succinctly as possible: At least we're better than the Nazis!

Yeah. That's inspiring.

So take that, Dick Durbin -- at least we're not gassing Jews! Fuck yeah! USA!

Friday, June 17

Friday Random Ten, digital comfort edition.

Rough day in the blogosphere -- first I somehow manage to give this somewhat overcaffeinated Marine the erroneous impression that I'm actually sitting at home fondling my Rosary beads and, in between Hail Marys and Our Fathers, praying for our own troops to get blown up in Iraq; then I get banned from another blogger's comment threads because I had the audacity to suggest that, if Planned Parenthood "regularly makes bestiality jokes in its animations" (as she claims), maybe they're only doing it because our own First Lady makes public jokes about her husband jacking off a horse and is therefore setting a bad example for our impressionable young'uns. Excu-u-u-use the crap out of me!

But the music, baby, won't never abandon ya -- and as Nanci Griffith once said, when you can't find a friend, you've still got the radio, or in my case, an iPod:

1. Beck, "Modesto"
2. Passengers, "Let's Go Native"
3. Massive Attack, "Three"
4. Electric Six, "Gay Bar"
5. Beck, "Deadweight"
6. Phil Collins, "In The Air Tonight"
7. Groove Armada, "Dusk, You & Me"
8. The Pretenders, "Popstar"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "It's Alright" (10" mix)
10. Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing In The Dark"

It's just a shame the 10 couldn't be extended to include my walk home from the office, because #12 and #13 on this list would've been Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," followed by Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." Do random Friday iPod selections have the power to dictate the course of one's weekend? After those two tracks, I can only hope so. Even when the rest of the world is doing its level best to shoe me right in the plums, at least my trusty iPod still wants me to get laid.

Et tu, readers?

Thursday, June 16

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

· The other day I was trying to think if there was any movie I was less interested in seeing than Hillary Duff's latest cinematic Barbie playset, "Mister Perfect," and -- oh look! -- somebody came up with one.

· The other day I was trying to think if there was anyone in the world who was a bigger shithead than Operation Rescue founder and Schiavo family hanger-on Randall Terry, and -- oh look! -- still haven't found one.

· Speaking of movies I'm really not interested in seeing, it's not like I was camped out by the theatre ticket window waiting for "Herbie: Fully Loaded" tickets to go on sale, but then I found out that Disney technicians had spent more than a million bucks digitally reducing the size of Lindsay Lohan's chest in certain scenes of the movie, and -- well, that's where the 0.0001% of me that was still kind of interested in seeing the movie threw up its hands and walked out.

· From now on, when I hear some right-winger whine about how liberals these days are being soooo much more hateful toward Dubya than the right ever was toward Bill and Hillary, is it OK if I don't say anything but just kick him right in the nuts?

· Oh, and by the way, Republicans -- next time you want to get all smug about how Democrats are supposedly elitist jagoffs with no plan for the country other than to just get people stirred up over unimportant shit, remember that this knob job is the guy currently being touted as your party's top candidate for president in 2008. (And I'm not talking about Matt Lauer.)

Oh, and by the way, despite certain scurrilous rumors being bandied about in the comments threads, I'm not currently in a relationship with Sen. Mary "Hottest Senator Ever" Landrieu (D-La.). We've had some laughs but decided it would be better just to remain friends. Thus Angelina Jolie and I are doing just fine, no matter what that scoundrel Dick Lugar says.

Wednesday, June 15

If it's Wednesday, it must be time to piss off the Republicans again.

Does anybody remember the Mount Rushmore-sized brick the Republican Party collectively shit when Howard Dean described them as "pretty much a white Christian party" -- as if anyone with two brain cells to rub together didn't kind of already instinctively know that? Oh, those were the days. Good times.

If you're a Republican and you don't want to be seen as overwhelmingly lily-white, though, there are certain "Dos" and "Don'ts" you'd probably do well to keep in mind. And call me crazy, but I'm almost certain that refusing to sign a Senate resolution formally apologizing for decades of Congressional inaction on anti-lynching legislation falls under the "Don't" column. Yet here we have 16 Senators who didn't want to sign on as co-sponsors of Mary Landrieu's resolution to do just that, and guess what? One Democrat, 15 Republicans. Haven't been this shocked since someone told me the Pope was Catholic.

Oh, and let me just guess what the Republicans and their defenders are going to say: That since we can't go back and change history, resolutions like this don't really mean anything, they're just easy, trivial gestures. And you know what? Maybe they're right. But if this gesture was so easy and trivial, what does it say about these 15 Republicans that they couldn't even be bothered to make it? I mean, one phone call to Mary Landrieu's office saying "Yeah, put my name on that sucker," and bickety-bam, there it is. But no. Not even that. Here's Trent Lott, who still hasn't entirely lived down the shame of those comments he made at Strom Thurmond's birthday bash about how great America was before we had to start giving black people rights and stuff, and he won't take five freaking minutes out of his busy schedule to at least pretend he's regretful about racism and the harm it's done to this country. When they were handing out stupid, ol' Trent must've gotten in line for seconds.

But anyway, my point is that if more than a quarter of your party's Senate delegation couldn't be bothered to make one lousy phone call to get on board with a freaking anti-lynching resolution -- I mean, as resolutions go, Lynching Is Bad should be no more controversial than Puppies Are Cute or Chocolate Ice Cream Tastes Delicious -- then perhaps you should shut the crap up and quit being such crybabies the next time a Democrat makes the not-so-earth-shattering observation that dang, there sure don't seem to be a lot of colored folks in your party. Look, I'm just saying. I'm trying to help you guys here.

FYI, I called Richard Shelby's office this morning and asked why his name wasn't on the resolution. The very polite young lady who answered the phone didn't know why. I don't expect that either one of us is going to find out anytime soon.

(By the way, Republican visitors, while I may not have a lot of respect for your party's various positions on race, I do have enough respect for your individual intelligence levels to expect that you're not going to whip out that "Robert Byrd was in the KKK!!1!1!!!!" tennis ball this many years after Byrd condemned the KKK and admitted his involvement was a mistake. So don't disappoint me.)

UPDATE: Daily Kos says the one Democrat who didn't have his name on the resolution, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, got off his ass today and added it. Apparently you can actually retroactively add your name as co-sponsor to these types of resolutions after they're passed. OK, yippee -- so where are those 15 Republicans? I'll be sure to let you know if I find out.

UPDATE 2: Bill Frist lies to cover the tracks of the Repubs who didn't want to get on board with the resolution. And to think this guy was the one obsessed with up-or-down votes just a couple of weeks ago.

UPDATE 3: Off the subject, but Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who did put his name on the resolution all the way back when it was first submitted in February, is a pimp.

UPATE 4: Two GOP senators have signed on after the fact, and it turns out two others who were on the co-sponsor list shouldn't have been -- here's the updated list of the offending 15. It still includes Lamar Alexander, who evidently didn't support the resolution because he'd already done his racially sensitive deed for the year. No, really -- read his staffer's explanation and tell me that's not what he said.

Tuesday, June 14

Must . . . not . . . post . . . about Michael Jackson . . . must . . . resist . . .

This morning I briefly considered posting about the Michael Jackson verdict, and then immediately hated myself for even entertaining such a thought. For this I deserve swift and severe punishment, which will be delivered in the form of a stern spanking from Angelina Jolie just as soon as I can get her agent on the phone.

So instead of a post on the verdict, howsabout another installment of Death Is Not An Option:

· The Michael Jackson supporters or the Terri Schiavo protestors?

· The Confederate battle flag or the "national Christian flag"?

· Being forced to listen to Christina Aguilera's music at high volume in Guantanamo Bay, or having a glow stick rammed up your ass at Abu Ghraib?

· Kellen Winslow Jr. or Jeff Kent?

· Making your kid spend the night at Michael Jackson's house, or making him ride "Mission: Space" at Epcot?

· Paris Hilton, or these chicks?

Monday, June 13

"Love" is a four-letter word.

I've always been of the belief that "love" and "hate" are probably the two most overused words in the English language, and I've never been more sure of the first part than after reading about an organization called "Love in Action." LIA is another one of those gay "de-programming" organizations that tries to turn gay people straight, but the major difference is that they work specifically with teenagers -- in other words, kids who aren't legally independent yet and therefore don't have the option of just walking away if they decide that the organization's rules, methods, and/or mission is complete and utter bullshit.

I first read about it this morning on Pandagon, and found another mention by Daily Kos shortly afterward. The "story" seems to be making the blogosphere rounds because one kid has apparently been keeping an online diary of his LIA experience, and it's one of the saddest, most awful things I've ever read. I'm not quite sure how to handle it because the kid's a minor, and I don't want to play any part in him potentially getting in any trouble with the LIA Gestapo, but really, you've got to read this:

I haven't been on a computer, phone, nor have I seen any friends in a week almost-- Soon. Soon, this will be all over. My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight... three days. I went numb. That's the only way I can get through this. I agree, if you're thinking that these posts might be dramatized.. but the proof of the program's ideas are sitting in the rules. I pray this blows over. I can't take this... noone can... not really, this kind of thing tears you apart emotionally. To introduce THIS subject... I'm not a suicidal person... really I'm not.. I think it's stupid - really. But.. I can't help it, no im not going to commit suicide, all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It's so horrible. This is what it's doing to me... I have this horrible feeling all of the time... I wish this on no person...

Go to the Daily Kos post and get the inside poop on just how fucked-up this organization is. I'm not always in agreement with Andrew Sullivan on a lot of things, but we see eye to eye on one thing -- this amounts to child abuse. And how this organization can cloak its actions in the motive of Christian "love" is beyond me.

I'll bet she shags like a minx . . . but how do I tell her I have no interior monologue?

Saw "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Ann and Benj on Saturday. And the challenge now is to explain how fucking awesome this movie was without the use of phrases such as "Angelina Jolie in a vinyl bustier."

Well, I'll try. It was action-packed, funny, had a pretty awesome car chase toward the end (and I'm a big dumb sucker for car chases, as long as they're executed well), and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were fun to watch together both when they were kicking each other's asses and when they were not. Look, I'm not going to sit here and try to convince you it was "Citizen Kane": On the Mindless Scale of Mindless Entertainment, 1 being "The Godfather" and 10 being "Bad Boys II," this was probably 6.5 to 7 (your mileage may vary). But look, it's summertime (or close enough for government work), and if you have to spend a couple hours in a movie theatre watching something that really won't make you any better as a person, I guarantee you'll walk out of said theatre hating yourself less after "Smith" than if you'd seen this or this.

And Angelina Jolie . . . look, there's not a lot I can say that hasn't already been said, but I don't want a lot of fucking comments or e-mails about what a sexist pig I am or how I need to use this blog for something more redeeming and productive than drooling over hot actresses, because trust me, sweethearts, it ain't just me. F'rinstance, when dearest Angelina whipped off her overcoat to reveal the aforementioned vinyl bustier, this was the semi-conversation that resulted:

ME: Oh my God. I think I'm gonna need a cigarette now.
ANN: I think I'm gonna need one too, and I'm not even gay.
BENJ: I think I'm gonna need one too, and I'm not even straight.

So you see what has been accomplished here? As a society we've conjured up these very arbitrary gender roles, and we've tried to construct this very rigid morality concerning whom we should fuck and whom we shouldn't, and yet it's all B.S., because no matter who we are -- male or female, gay or straight -- we'd all shag Angelina Jolie in a New York minute. She may not win another Oscar for "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," but for bringing the world together in such a unique fashion, Angelina deserves nothing less than a Nobel Prize.

Friday, June 10

Friday Random Ten.

1. R.E.M., "Daysleeper"
2. Dr. Dre, "Let Me Ride"
3. Public Enemy, "Party For Your Right To Fight"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Discoteca" (Trouser Enthusiasts remix)
5. Underworld, "Cups"
6. U2, "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"
7. Dusted, "Childhood"
8. DJ Shadow, "Giving Up The Ghost"
9. Sting, "We Work The Black Seam"
10. Groove Armada, "Suntoucher"

And now is the part where we like to ask, And how are you doing?

Thursday, June 9

Not that there's anything wrong with my car.

So it wasn't enough that I have short, spiky hair, like techno music, have a little dog, and generally try to keep myself neatly groomed. Now, according to Tom and Ray Magliozzi of NPR "Car Talk" fame, I drive the number-one gayest car in America. The number-one gayest cars in America as nominated by gay guys themselves.

Son of a bitch. Looks like it's time to bite the bullet and start searching for a new car. Of the Audi A3, Infiniti G35 coupe, Subaru Impreza WRX, Volkswagen Passat or Volvo V50, which of these looks most appealing (and least likely to broadcast doubts about my sexuality to the general female public)?

Wednesday, June 8

Wednesday night Italyblogging.

OK, I've procrastinated long enough -- here are some of the pictures I took while I was in Italy. This is only the first half of the trip -- my computer ran out of juice before I could download the rest of the pictures, and my voltage adapter couldn't handle a three-prong plug, so I had to put the other photos on someone else's computer and get them burned to a CD. But anyway:

This is the view from the front porch of the house we stayed at in Caldogno, a small town on the outskirts of Vicenza, which is about 45 minutes inland from Venice. If you look closely, you can see the Dolomite mountains in the background -- the weather was mostly pretty hazy while we were there, but on the morning we left for Venice you could see the mountains clear as day. Posted by Hello

On our first full day in Italy, we went to a little town called Marostica, which has a castle on a big hill on the edge of the central town area. The trail starts behind the church you see at the bottom of the hill and ends at the castle you can see (barely) at the top . . . Posted by Hello

. . . and this is the view of the town from the castle. Posted by Hello

The next day we went on a boat trip down the Brenta canal, which runs between Padua and Venice. The boat trip itself was less spectacular than we'd been led to believe it would be, but the villa we ended up at -- Villa Pisoni, seen here -- was pretty spectacular. Posted by Hello

The villa had a garden maze we screwed around in for quite a while. At the center of the maze there's a small tower where they used to have cake and ice cream for the (rich) kids who successfully made it through the maze; this is the view from the top of the tower, and the guy in the center of the photo is (I think) David, whom we tried to guide through the maze from the tower with a great deal of ugly-American pointing and yelling. Posted by Hello

A couple days later we went to Venice. This is one of the villas we saw along the Grand Canal, which is like the "Main Street" of Venice. The artwork on the walls is actually huge mosaics. Posted by Hello

This is St. Mark's Cathedral, seen from the square where all the pigeons hang out. Posted by Hello

This is one of the street vendors selling food you can throw to the pigeons, and we all agreed he looked suspiciously like a certain well-known Big Ten football coach. Apparently 4-7 just doesn't cut it at Penn State anymore, and JoePa has been busted down to pigeon-feed duty in Piazza di San Marco. Posted by Hello

This is the view of the Grand Canal from the top of the Ponte Rialto, probably the most well-known bridge in Venice . . . Posted by Hello

. . . and here's me on the bridge, unshaven but otherwise looking a lot better than I usually look in photographs. Posted by Hello

Some gondolas (gondolae?) in their "parking spaces" along the Grand Canal. Before anyone asks, no, we didn't take a gondola ride -- those things run at least 60 Euros ($75-$80 U.S.) and there were only four of us to split the cost. One of the girls in our group did get her picture taken with a couple gondoliers, though, one of whom took the opportunity to grope her while we were taking the picture. Primo! Posted by Hello

And this is a bulldog we found chillin' in the doorway of a photo-developing shop near the Rialto. As a Georgia fan, I couldn't not get a picture of him; Italy is a very dog-friendly country, and you see dogs everywhere from shopping malls to train stations to airports, but this was by far the most awesome dog we saw at any point on the trip. Posted by Hello

The next day we went to a small town called Breganze, where they have a big winery. This is the visitors' area, which I walked out of with eight bottles (yeah, I'm a drunk); if the amount of wine you need is too much for bottles, you can always roll your tank or urn or whatever over to these wine pumps, stick the nozzle in, and pump wine just as easily as if you were pumping unleaded at the BP station. Though I dare say the wine was probably cheaper, liter for liter, than any of the gas available in Italy. Posted by Hello

Next day we went to Florence, where the Duomo, one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe, is located. This is the roof of the cathedral's Baptistry, which has some of the most incredible artwork I've ever seen. (Yes, that's gold leaf up there.) Posted by Hello

This is the view of Florence from our hotel room -- or the hotel room we would've been staying in had David and I not gotten kicked out. Funny thing about some Italian hotels: When they say "this room sleeps four," they mean it sleeps four and not one person more, so if you think you can save some money by reserving a four-person room and then trying to sneak two people in later on when you turn in for the night, you can forget it. Our hotel was even more restrictive than most -- you can't even have visitors in your room after 8 p.m. -- so, needless to say, when we two guys tried to sneak up into a room that had been reserved by four girls, we were turned out on our American asses with extreme prejudice. Thus began David's and my night roaming the streets of Florence, lugging our bags and wandering from place to place looking for bars that stayed open late Posted by Hello

The funny thing is, Florence isn't exactly a party-all-night kind of town, so by about 2 a.m. we were just as shit-out-of-luck as we would've been in Auburn or Birmingham. Around 3:30 I suggested we head for the train station where we wouldn't be quite so out in the open; David wasn't crazy about this idea, but we went anyway, and other than being bothered for change and/or cigarettes by a few random drunks while we were trying to sack out on the floor of the biglietteria, not much happened. It was only a few days later that David was flipping through his Italy guidebook and found some notes on train stations in the safety/personal security section: "Italian train stations are generally safe during the day but are to be avoided at night. Especially steer clear of the train stations in Florence, Rome, Venice . . . " Uh, heh. Sorry about that one.

Anyway, that's the first half of the trip -- I'll try to get the second half up here as soon as I can get my virtual hands on the photos.

And no, I didn't want to come home.

Hey Jenny Slater essay contest!

Those of you who follow the manly and one-hundred-percent heterosexual adventures of Gen. J.C. Christian, Patriot, may have heard about his unfortunate dishonorable discharge from the Protest Warriors recently. I feel for Gen. Christian, though I can't say I'm surprised. Back during my GWBWYPGN?! days I had a run-in with a Protest Warrior who took issue with a post I'd written about something or other; he put the blog address in a PW forum and exhorted his Warrior pals to bum-rush my blog and leave comments about what a loathsome godless military-hating anti-American bastard I was. Rather humorously, this effort resulted in a nifty spike in my site traffic for a day or two, but not much more than three or four actual comments.

Intrigued, I went so far as to go to and even registered there so I could join in on the forums. In the three or four days that this endeavor held my attention, I found that a few Protest Warriors are actually intelligent individuals who think for themselves, can explain their support for Bush and/or the Iraq war rationally and coherently, and are capable of sustaining an informed, reasonable debate. I also found that the vast majority of the rest of them were troglodytes who couldn't think their way out of the wettest of paper bags, and had furthermore deluded themselves into thinking that their "Protest Warrior" mission -- going to anti-war and other liberal-identified demonstrations and attempting to counter-protest the lefties into submission -- was on a level of heroism and importance nearly equal to that of our own soldiers' mission in Iraq. It is the second group, I'm guessing, who was the driving force in drumming poor Gen. Christian out of their ranks.

But I have an invitation for the delusions-of-grandeur Protest Warriors, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, and anyone else who vocally supported going to war in Iraq yet has not signed up to join the military and help fight said war -- and there appear to be a lot of you, if the Army's subpar recruiting numbers are any indication: In 500 words or less, give us your reason for not having joined the Army in spite of your belief that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was of vital importance to our national security. Because our current fighting force in Iraq includes men and women who left jobs, schooling, or families behind to serve in the military, entries including "I have a job," "I'm in school," or "I have kids" will be disqualified from the contest and will be mocked mercilessly on this site. You may either post your entries in the comments thread of this post or e-mail them to paris_1968 (at); deadline is one week from today, Wednesday, June 15. At that point we will pick both the most and the least convincing entries and post them on this blog, with full credit given; the writer of the most convincing essay wins a bottle of wine and any remaining post-cancellation issues of Time that find their way into my mailbox. The least convincing essay writer wins a deck of Republican "chickenhawk" playing cards. Poker night will never be the same!

So get writing, you guys. I'm really interested to hear what you have to say.

Let's play Spot The Killer!

The man on the left is Cat Stevens, singer of such well-known songs as "Morning Has Broken" and "Here Comes My Baby." Last year he was on a plane that was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangor, Maine, because his name sounded like one on a terror watch list. Stevens was detained by authorities once the plane was on the ground.

The ray of sunshine on the right, the one even Marilyn Manson probably wouldn't want to sit next to on a crowded subway, is Gregory Despres, who arrived at a U.S.-Canada border crossing in Maine last month "carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood." Border officials fingerprinted him, took his weapons, and sent him on his merry way. The very next day, cops in Despres's New Brunswick hometown found one of his neighbors decapitated on his kitchen floor -- the dude's head was stuffed in a pillowcase nearby -- and the neighbor's common-law wife stabbed to death in the bedroom.

Now, maybe Cat Stevens had a bloody chainsaw on that airplane that nobody told us about. (Or maybe he was found with a pair of fingernail clippers -- God help you if you try to bring one of those onto a plane.) And maybe Gregory Despres didn't have that slightly craven cult-member stare or Hitler-Youth-meets-Nine-Inch-Nails haircut when the border guards sized him up in Maine last month. But I'm still gonna have to believe that homeland security in this country is still royally screwed up.

Your thoughts?

Mrs. Robinson has left and gone away.

"Oh no, Mrs. Robinson. I think, I think you're the most attractive of all my parents' friends. I mean that." (Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," 1967)

The first time I saw "The Graduate" was when we watched it in my AP English class my senior year of high school, toward the end of the school year when we were into the literature and culture of the '60s. It instantly became one of my favorite movies of all time (and still is), and Anne Bancroft's role as Mrs. Robinson has to be one of the sexiest female characters ever portrayed on film. Of course, it might have helped that she was only 36 years old when "The Graduate" was released -- only six years older than Dustin Hoffman, interestingly enough, and thus only nine years older than Katharine Ross, who was supposed to be her daughter.

Other phun phacts: Jeanne Moreau and Patricia Neal were also considered for the role of Mrs. Robinson, and Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Burt Ward, and Jack Nicholson (Jack Nicholson!) were considered for the role of Benjamin. Dustin Hoffman ended up getting the part because he was the only one considered goofy and awkward enough to properly play the part. (And you'll never guess who was originally considered for the role of Benjamin's dad.)

Anyway, Anne Bancroft died on Monday at the age of 73, and it's a sad day. So long, Mrs. Robinson.

Tuesday, June 7

It's a celebration, bitches!

After having resisted the concept for some time, I finally broke down Sunday and bought DVDs of a television series. It wasn't "The Simpsons" or "Seinfeld," as huge a part as those shows have played in my life, because where I live you can turn on the TV at practically any time after 5 p.m. and still see them in syndicated reruns. Rather, I got both seasons of "Chappelle's Show," which continues to blow my freaking mind at how hilarious it is. The "Race Draft" sketch? That was one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen on a TV show, comedy or otherwise, both as a comedic skit and as social commentary. The only thing better than the Asians drafting the entire Wu-Tang Clan was the fact that RZA and GZA seemed so thrilled to now be Asian. Konnichi wa, bitches!

Anyway, now that the seal has been broken, I'll probably be snapping up the DVDs of "Scrubs," "NewsRadio," "Futurama" and all manner of other stuff. Including, yes, probably one or two of these. What this means for you is that you now have all sorts of new gift ideas for me when Christmas rolls around. No, no -- thank me later!

Why journalism sucks in '96. (And '05.)

It's getting hotter, it's our burning love. And I just. Can't. Seem. To. Get. Enough. Of bullshit celebrity gossip!

Actually, this item, brought to my attention by the great Riley McCarthy, is pretty cool, and not just because it involves my future ex-wife Angelina Jolie (whose birthday, like mine, was celebrated this past Saturday, and that reminds me, none of you got me any of the gifts I'd asked for a few weeks ago, you dicks!). As much as I hate to sympathize too much with any Hollywood figure who complains about getting too much attention -- you became a superstar actor/actress and now people want to take your picture? The horror! -- I have to admit I was cheering Angelina on when she let loose with this:

Angelina Jolie went on the attack during a taped interview with US TV breakfast show host Ann Curry yesterday, when the Today presenter quizzed the actress about her romance with Brad Pitt. The movie star, who has since slapped a ban on reporters asking about the alleged love affair, was upset to see Curry had brought a copy of Us Weekly magazine, featuring her Kenyan beach stroll with Pitt and her son Maddox, to the interview. Curry waved the showbiz magazine in front of Jolie and sympathetically offered, "This is insane," which angered the actress. She spat back, "You bought it, you're holding it . . . The fact is it's part of your program. It's something that we're talking about still."

This kind of copout strategy is one of the reasons I'm so fuckin' sick to death of the media these days. A bullshit tabloid-sensational non-story will pop up, like the Jolie-Pitt relationship or the runaway bride or pretty much anything relating to Michael Jackson, and the mainstream media know it's bullshit and really not worth anyone's time, especially when people are getting blown up in Iraq and there's a potentially game-changing filibuster controversy here at home, but gosh darn it, they still get that little orgasmic ping every time someone says "Angelina Jolie" or "Michael Jackson's member," and relevance be damned, they still want to cover that non-story so bad! -- so they have to find a way to cover it without really covering it. So they whip out a copy of the Enquirer or People or Us or whichever pseudojournalistic rag has bothered to dive in head-first and cover the non-story already, they make it sound like only these pseudojournalists are covering the story, and then hold it up so they can shake their heads and say, "Tsk-tsk, doesn't this make you sick?" They're not covering the story, see, they're covering the fact that other people are covering it and how that heralds the decline of Western civilization!

Ann Curry, you seem like a nice gal and I've never had any beef with you before, but if that magazine photo of Angelina and Brad is so "insane," why would you hold it up on your national freakin' network TV show? Are you honestly dumb enough to believe you can still distance yourself from that tabloid rag when you've done something like that? This kind of copout attempt to have one's journalistically ethical cake and eat it too is bullshit whether it's NBC, Fox News or whoever, and while Angelina Jolie probably could have chosen better strategies than to get all loved up with a still-legally-married Brad Pitt if she didn't want her name in the papers, I still give her big ups for calling NBC on their bullshit effort to leap into the journalistic muck while simultaneously trying to act like they're above it.

Sometimes, of course, this cop-out goes in a different direction, as Digby at Hullabaloo pointed out a couple weeks ago. Remember the Downing Street Memo that surfaced last month, the one that laid out in no uncertain terms how nobody in either the American or British governments actually believed Iraq was a serious security threat but concocted some half-baked intelligence to support a war against them anyway? You don't? Don't feel bad -- that's probably because nobody in the so-called liberal media here in the U.S. has bothered to cover it, apparently not wanting to give up their warm, cozy naptime nook inside Dubya's rectum. Yet as Digby showed us, Fox News, rather than doing any investigative journalism into the memo itself, ran a story on how everybody was ignoring the story. Is this trip through the rabbit hole making you feel a little light-headed yet?

When I graduated from college, I was an actual journalist working for an actual newspaper, and in the six years since then, I've become what basically amounts to a PR person for a major institution here in Alabama. There used to be a time when I'd occasionally feel a little bit bad about that. But it didn't take long before I stopped caring after all, because PR people, love 'em or hate 'em, have a job assignment and they freaking do it. Journalists, on the other hand, have a job assignment -- reporting the truth and informing the public about the important events of the day -- and basically go into the office every day trying to figure out how not to do that. Look at how Ann Coulter Fan Club President-Elect John Cloud, in the course of his nine-page blowjob piece on Ann Coulter, shrugged and said he couldn't "find many outright Coulter errors" when a mountain of errors could've been found with a measly five minutes of Googling. See how the American media has looked the other way and whistled "Dixie" as the military confirmed that Korans were desecrated at Guantanamo Bay -- mere weeks after Newsweek was raked over Donald Rumsfeld's Weber grill for reporting virtually the same stuff, which was supposedly such a lie back when they said it.

Other than insurance companies, who happily take your money every month and spend the rest of their time trying to figure out how they can keep from giving that money back to you when you really need it, I can't think of a single industry that spends so much time and effort trying to avoid doing the job they promised us they would do. Sometimes even when they're covering a story, the mainstream media go out of their way to act like they're not covering it.

So anyway, Angelina, darling, I'm totally in your corner on this one. And if you'd just quit spending all your time with that Pitt character, we could sit down someplace quiet and have a nice long conversation about it.

Friday, June 3

Who among us doesn't love a good burn?

Normally I try to stay away from celebrity feuds, but this thing with Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields really caught my attention recently. Full disclosure -- in spite of the fact that I like quite a lot of the movies he's been in (I was one of the two people in North America who liked "Vanilla Sky," for crying out loud), I've thought Tom Cruise was kind of a twit for a while now, and not because of the Scientology thing (well, not just because of the Scientology thing). Your mileage may vary, but I'm sorry, nobody who goes on "Oprah" and acts like this has any business criticizing anyone else's pharmaceutical proclivities. I'm sure Tom's two kids were just as proud as can be watching their dad go on national TV and acting like a total raisin cake to declare his love for a woman who'd be old enough to be their mom only if she got knocked up as a freshman in high school.

But anyway, I mention this mainly because Shields responded to Cruise's sticking his show-me-the-moneying, Joey-Potter-banging Scientologist nose into her personal business with one of the best burns of the year so far: reports that Shields took a dig at the 16-year age gap between Cruise, 42, and his new girlfriend Katie Holmes, 26, by offering him a child ticket so he can take her to see Chicago in London.

"If he wants to see Chicago, I've left him two tickets -- one adult, one child," she reportedly said.

Heh. Is it bad that I'd take Brooke Shields over either of the two chicks Tom has gone out with since dumping Nicole Kidman, and probably Nicole Kidman too, now that I think about it? (Although she did look pretty hot in the trailer for "Bewitched" . . . I'll have to get back to you on that one.)

Anyway, with that in mind, it's time for the return of everyone's favorite parlor game, Death Is Not An Option:

· Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes or Britney Spears and Kevin Federline?

· "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" or "Mission Impossible III"?

· George W. Bush or Jacques Chirac?

· The Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich or the Hummer H2?

· This guy or this guy?

· Taking a 10-hour flight from Munich to Atlanta with a nasty head cold, or cramming 11 frozen embryos into your uterus?

· Newsweek or E!?

Friday Random Ten.

1. Radiohead, "Everything In Its Right Place"
2. Pet Shop Boys, "It's Alright"
3. Enigma, "Return To Innocence"
4. Bjork, "Human Behaviour"
5. Radiohead, "Subterranean Homesick Alien"
6. R.E.M., "Lotus"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing" (Beatmasters 7" mix)
8. Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over"
9. Bowery Electric, "Coming Down"
10. Lamb, "Fly"

As always, yours go in the comments.

While we're on the subject of unconditional love . . .

Another possible definition of the term could be coming home and finding out that, while you were on the other side of the ocean, your mom and your sister -- with whom you'd left your keys -- went to your disgusting pigsty of an apartment and cleaned it from stem to stern, shining the dingy countertops and kitchen appliances to an almost otherworldly glow and showing the willpower, willpower you never had, to get rid of all the junk and crap that you'd collected along the walls instead of throwing away. (One could argue that accompanying this gift with a note reading "Clean up or die single" is a very tough kind of unconditional love, but love nonetheless.)

Anyways, not just for this reason but for countless others, baby sis has been invited to stay on as a sort of permanent guest blogger here at Hey Jenny Slater. Don't know how often she'll avail herself of that opportunity since she's got her own blog to take care of, but I hope you'll treat her real nice when she pops her head in now and then.