31 December 2006

The picture function doesn't work well

Movies I remember seeing in the theater this year, because I'm heading towards being a full-time shut-in by keeping the stubs to each movie I saw. It's not at all depressing.

Friends With Money
The Break Up
Superman Returns
An Inconvenient Truth
Talladega Nights
Little Miss Sunshine
Man Of The Year
Jackass 2
The Departed
Science Of Sleep
Casino Royale (Twice, actually)

Also, since we’re on the topic of full-disclosure and year-end tallies, the over/under is 250 on the number of times I pooed this year [officially].

Name-dropping other people's acquaintances

Yes, I'm back from the frustrations of low-tech creativity (and selling the fucking sofas, obviously). I cannot promise it'll last beyond tonight, but let's enjoy it while I'm still here and alive.

There's a pretty big deadline coming up on Wednesday--U of Iowa Writer's Workshop deadline. No, I don't really know how to write, but if I'm to be rejected a few years in a row, I want to be able to say that it wasn't just middle-bench schools sending the short letters. The ones signed by Lan Samantha Chang look nicer on my rejection wall, too.

It doesn't look like anyone is still around to read, so I've finally found my ideal audience, I suppose. Now I can get really diary[htic] confessional (see what I did there?). I see this as my chance to share feelings, happenstances and fond memories. Like unexpected run-ins at trendy beverage shops, just as an example.

Best of 2005, revisited

If you’re going to judge something, do it more than once. Leave yourself space to back up on your initial assumptions; if you don’t you’ll look like a flip-flopping bitch. By referring to myself as a guy who isn’t Chris DeLine (and, thus, doesn’t know a thing about music) at the end of last year, I can claim inexperience and general incompetence for missing all the good albums I did.

I shat out an end-of-the-year, top-fucking-ten list last year; I feel differently about my choices now. An artist like Devendra Banhart is still fucking cool, but I don’t listen to Cripple Crow anymore. And a songwriter like Jens [Yenz] Lekman had my favorite album of this year, even though it was released in 2005. so, since you care, and since I’m a sentimental follow-the-list-making-crowd type, here’s a revised list with comments when applicable:

Jens Lekman, Oh You’re So Silent Jens
The one concert I was able to go to this year; nothing about it was disappointing [if you don’t count the one thing—the absence of “Maple Leaves”]. Every song on this album [compilation of EPs, technically] has been an appropriate four-times-per-day song at different times in the last six months. Undeniably, this is tied to my six-month (and growing) career at Sofa Mart. Awkward…

Wolf Parade, Apologies To The Queen Mary
Still listen to it regularly; picked up “Modern World” and “I’ll believe in anything” (after seeing the video) as the songs I listen to every time—to go with “Grounds for Divorce,” “Fancy Claps” and “Dear sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts.”

Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene
Nothing has changed my feeling towards this one. I simply have listened to the two above a bit more. That’s all.

Decemberists, Picaresque

Belle And Sebastian, Push Barman To Open Old Wounds
Another compilation of EPs, I listen to six or seven songs regularly; honestly, I don’t know if I’ve had the patience yet to listen through both discs more than four or five times, though.

Bloc Party, Silent Alarm
“Pioneers.” Almost solely because of it (and European trains).

Sufjan Steven, Illinois
Little Miss Sunshine has “Chicago” for one song (I think). Kept it relevant; The Avalanche bonus CD made that song great in three new ways, too.

Mountain Goats, Sunset Tree
How the fuck did I go this long without someone saying, “Hey Joe, Check out the Mountain Goats. Seriously, the guy knows how to write songs.” I started listening on this album; I’m on All Hail West Texas (an older, lo-fi album), with so many more to find reassurance in creative voice and meaningful, original lyrics.

Tapes N’ Tapes, The Loon
Everything here could be considered hipster-chic, just like anything else that gets considerable attention by enough Indie-sumers. I just really enjoyed this as an album to listen to during the summer, regardless of others' opinions of it.

Animal Collective, Feels
Still "visceral," I suppose.

Architecture In Helsinki, In Case We Die
Had creative epiphanies for awhile after I started listening to AiH. Couldn’t help but smile.

30 December 2006

I fucking changed something

Finally, some fucking progress. Am I right? I updated the douche chill of the current time period, after a few months. Someday I'll update that ugly fucking header and figure out a way to produce a nice looking page; perhaps I'll even produce some content for a wider audience. For now, you'll have to live with my high school drawing of me, with the promise to write on the following things within a week[/month]:

-Why the fuck there's a stick figure with Joe-Thiele-like biceps, and how I prophesized such a figure while still in high school.

-The funny thing about me in high school.

-The greatest things ever [within the last few moments].

-A column, to debute in 2006, entitled "Terrorists wear ties, too [you fucking asshole]"

-The best of 2005, as we've finally had a bit of time to reflect.

-The most-liked songs of 2002 as written by a mainstream high-schooler years before discovering the joys of judging things.

For now, here's a list of lines I've thought up lately that will possibly make it into future stories/columns/posts. A thousand points for each reference pointed out when used:

"You've sliced straight through the crumple zone of my heart."

"And then they have sex and a baby is born." [Later] "And then they have sex and a cabinet is born."

"Snow is basically frozen water." GENIUS!

"I was once said to be the third most attractive man in my hometown. Don’t ask how many there were to choose from; it ruins the mystique."

21 December 2006

Maybe this is why I've never "gotten" Dylan

I read somewhere just a minute ago that somebody--"what can [they] say?"--thought that Bob Dylan was "a legend in every sense of the word."

Fucking people and their fucking exaggerations. Not arguing against Dylan at all, but instead the people who idolize to the point of missing the meaning of the word they say. Sort of like David Cross' comedy bit about people who use "literally" exactly opposite of its meaning. Literally.

My response to the Dylan people (and others with the same cliched mindset), with the same half-effort: how does Bob Dylan provide an easy-to-use reference to understand maps?


13 December 2006

Who's my favorite actor?

It's Matt Damon. Not only because of 'Departed.' Not only because of the non-Hollywoodness.

A lot because of this.

08 December 2006

Better times

This morning I decided to put on my favorite Goodwill find, an Iowa "jersey" type shirt that I've worn to watch just about every Iowa game since my sophomore year of college, and that some might argue is a size too small.

Inexplicably, wearing this shirt makes me want to watch college football. Thank you, YouTube, for giving me the power to see one of the greatest games in Iowa's history. I still feel as nervous, two years after the fact, watching that last drive. Why the fuck didn't they call a timeout?? It's possible I've forgiven them.

01 December 2006

Four hours until work is too common a position.

I have to go back to work in a few hours, so I'll just dump everything I've been thinking about the last few days:

-The Wire is still an amazing fucking show. Nearly finished with season 2. Try not to spoil anything for me, and I'll try to remember to not do something unethical to you.

-You know what else is a good show? Arrested Development. You know what a good deal is? Buying the Arrested Development season 3 DVD amongst 300 other consumers on Black Friday. It's like America bonding by way of clawing a path to $200 laptops. The commentaries, as always, make the forty-five minute wait in line at Best Buy completely worth it; I think I'm over there not being another season (because, honestly, what the fuck would they do to top the three previous?). I'm more upset that the finale didn't have an extra eighteen minutes, as Mitch Hurwitz hints at in the extras. THAT would have made the final episode perfect, instead of rushed and close-enough-to-perfect-to-get-the-benefit-of-the-doubt.

-The picture at the top of this post is one of the first results for "Funny picture" on Google Image Search. I put a lot of effort into getting you the most compelling visuals I can afford, but fuck it if I'm not tired.

-"The Office" gets me through another week. This week's episode was actually written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the original British series. I didn't notice the first time through, but when I rewatched it, it was noticeable. Also, if you're one of the people who think the original series is infinitely better, and you haven't yet started listening to the Ricky Gervais podcast, you're an asshole. For the rest of you, consider yourselves a year late, but no worse off.

-I realized last Thursday that I’ve been going about this motivate-research-write blogging thing completely wrong. Instead, I really just need to watch “Inside Edition” everyday to get the most interesting fucking things out there.

For instance, the Thanksgiving episode clued me in to the fact that, although I may have seen the Black Friday ads to consumer-whore myself the next day, I had not completed my preparation. I didn’t have an entrance strategy! I didn’t have an exit strategy! Why didn’t I have a shopping vest, with enough pockets to hold my list, credit cards, munchies and itinerary? Should I have been at the store, five hours before the doors open, to ensure my parking spot?

But not only that. I should start watching on its journalistic standards as well: “And check this out—a mountain lion in the house, but he doesn’t use the door!” [It used the window! Fuck!]

-Even though I haven't completed anything resembling a good sample of my work, or gathered three references, or sent out transcripts (or test scores) or dwindled my list of possibilities to a working short list, I think I may have found the first paragraph to my personal statement. If you know me, leave a comment letting me know how well it displays my talents [or that you read this far down]. If you don't, leave a note with your first impression, and if I were the type of person you'd want to know more about [like a personal ad, but without the creepy undertone of awkward sex]. Remember, this is an introduction to my fiction writing sample and me, as a person:

I am an incredible Minesweeper player. If you haven’t recognized it as a time-killing computer game yet, you’re going to fall behind. My best times are four/twenty-four/sixty-four seconds, on the beginner-intermediate-expert settings, respectively. That means my overall time is ninety-two seconds, making me the 263rd best minesweeper player in the world, based on unreliable (though not dismissible, I argue) internet rankings. It also means if you take one second to carefully consider each word in this paragraph, I am hypothetically able to beat each difficulty of my daily excuse for not writing.

"...make that 4000 plugs."

When I saw Bonnie "Prince" Billy on Conan [a few?] months back, I decided to start listening. This, as it turns out, is my favorite song off of a very solid album.

I probably wouldn't have watched, and I wouldn't have something to listen to on my way to work in the morning, if it weren't for the omnipresent Culture Bully. Andrew WK was set to play with the band, so we were [naturally] looking for the guy with long hair and a white t-shirt. I guess listening to the actual music and hearing where all the DIG! was coming from should have been the next logical step.

His piano lead between verses more than equals its guitar counterpart--but I still love the latter on a slow morning.

26 November 2006

Time doesn't pass well for me

Rereading old writings to influence and kick my new writings in the ass, I came across my thoughts from the end of last year. Honestly, roll the dates ahead a year and update the latest consumer-necessary products, and it's equally relevant. And I'm listening pretty regularly to the same music I was evenly affected by last year. Progress is [something].

Originally published in The Tack, December 2005:

Ever get the feeling that end-of-the-year lists are being dishonest? Like when somebody names their “10 Best Albums of 2005,” and it’s really just the nine albums they listened to that were released in the last year, then some album that was “so good in 2004 that it should count in 2005 too?” I don’t like those types of people.

But there really are those out there who can’t make decisions on their own, and need a wrap-up list to guide them towards a certain choice or action. Of course, you’re not like that; you’re lucky enough to have me. So read on as I tell you what you should be doing instead of perusing top ten lists this winter.

Invent holidays to fill in worst holiday-less stretches. There are a few times each year when neither the post office nor the church has a holiday for a whole month. By inventing your own, you can decide when you’re celebrating, and for what purpose. You can even use the classic “Seinfeld” example: “Festivus—for the rest of us.” Make sure to give your holiday an intriguing name. Mine is called Deep-Fried Day, and it coincidentally takes place on December 2nd. The idea behind it is that you take anything you’ve got left from your Thanksgiving reenactment and deep-fat-fry it till golden brown. Why? Because I really don’t see Americans eating enough fried foods, nowadays. Plus, it breaks up this cold and cheerless holdover between Mr. Turkey and Santa.

Celebrate on fiscal time. Nothing says family tradition like reviewing your favorite company’s first quarter balance sheet, right? Try to prepare yourself for fluctuating interest rates, a dangerous yield curve, economies of scale…being indicted on fraud. You can even play Monopoly as a fun, but practical and realistic, diversion away from the office. Have a countdown of when the American markets close, and go wild—not too wild, as you’ve got work in the morning.

Make a “Worst of 2006” List. This is obviously a curveball to everyone who hasn’t finished out 2005 yet. They’ll be expecting to find stuff out there that has already happened; instead, you’ll provide them with the tragedies of the coming year. I would suggest staying vague; “Dragons will unleash a firebombing attack before being killed off by a gang of rogue astronauts” probably won’t get many people to subscribe to your future ideas. Stick with disappointments: “The government will disappoint,” “Hollywood will disappoint,” and “Disappointment of the decade: Chickens.”

Make a “Best Year of 2005, not including 2004” mock list. Everyone loves a little satire, so instead of reading the other expected clichés, define yourself as different when you make a list with one item on it, “2005.” For an even harder hitting story, name 1964 the best year of 2005; 1964 has had a good year, don’t deny it.

If you’re feeling ambitious, try combining two ideas to form an even better one. For example, predict that in 2006, our government will finally realize our lack of interesting holidays, and in effect invade a celebratory country like…Ireland. That way, come mid-March, Americans will rightfully own the holiday we’ve been calling our own all these years.

For every publication out there that includes something I’ve enjoyed in the last year, there’s another three describing Ashlee Simpson’s latest CD as “noteworthy.” There are so many differing opinions floating around that people are bound to disagree. During this holiday season, that is painfully irresponsible when you consider every American’s civic duty—to consume as much as possible. Because seriously, we can’t have all this individuality floating around when there are Xbox’s to be bought.

I have $4 in my wallet.

I got a dvd for $5 on Black Friday. An' then I got another dvd for $6. An' then I got another dvd for $10, an' another for $6 an' a fifth for $10. An' then I got a picture card, allowing me to take 1200+ self-posed arm-length portraits.

Big things are coming up, closely related to actual posts and pretty things to look at. I've been too busy lately recording my acapella, improvisational covers album; more on that to come as well. It'll be glorious, as long as we're all still around to share in my humiliation.

14 November 2006

Woohoo Capitalism

What would one do if one were to find themselves in a giant jar of applesauce? Would one eat one's self out until one's feet touched the bottom, or would one accept their fate and drown (in an admittedly embarrassing fashion) in watery apple corpses?

The answer: none of the above, as all reasonable people know that giant applesauce jars only lead to trouble, and leaning down into one for a taste is not worth the risk when that same company probalby also makes convenient smaller sizes. That's just pure economics, right there.

09 November 2006

The beginning is an end and the end is a real fucking story.

For the last eight days, I did my best working Joe impression. Today I’ve done nothing but play video games, drink pop and sit on my (amazing) couch. I heard a little bit about the news, though I didn’t want to. It sounds like the bullshit meter is shifting to the opposite direction—the “vote for change” strategy worked, and as a result we’ve got a different brand of glad-handing and power-hunger. I’m honestly happy for Nancy Pelosi, though I don’t think it’ll change much. Donald Rumsfeld resigning is a bit more significant, I think, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are still politicians doing public servants’ jobs.

One added bonus of the election passing—there’s finally air-time for this year’s most consumer-whore-worthy products. I hear there’s another Elmo, but I’ve also heard it looks like he’s furiously pleasuring his cookie monster. So who knows?

Some of you could possibly be sympathetic to the fact that I’ve been rather successful at writing a bit of bullshit (“fiction”) lately, which doesn’t mean much for my less-bullshitty writings here but does suggest a possible second attempt at embarrassment: “Thank you for applying, but you’ve failed to convince us that you’re good at making shit up. Stop writing, most importantly of all, failure-boy. Thanks, though, for your application fee. Our new slacks look ter-rific. -Your Nine Potential MFA Programs.”

I saw a Colbert-like college humor show on YouTube tonight, from Indiana U. called “F’n Democracy.” I was in the mood to see a different take on politics after watching the Daily Show/Colbert Report’s joint coverage repeat from Tuesday night. Instead, it was a show of Stephen Colbert fans trying to be Stephen Colbert but, inevitably, not. It was sad. I know I have constant moments of Daily Show reference (I do post the fucking clips, after all) but when I write I don’t try to channel anybody. It’s counterproductive to use someone else’s ideas to inform your own.

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot lately about originality. Mostly, I’m guessing, because I don’t have much myself presently. The process for the last month of posting here has been “think about something, forget it, rediscover the idea with the basic inspiration for it, write something down straight through, smear some shit on it, then post. Repeat.” Nowhere in there do I draft my idea into a literate argument or essay, both of which I’d like to think I aspire to do. Beyond spelling mistakes (‘cuz you’re all assholes) and cliché-checks (in the loosest possible way), I’ve no idea what I’ve been writing lately. But I’m guessing it’s better than whatever you think is better than not being right. See? I’m not even trying.

However, like I hinted at earlier, I’m writing and drafting fiction better lately. And, since I’d love to see this be my whore-hole of mongering my saleable fiction to a reasonably-paying audience, I thought I’d whet a few minds with the equivalent of a teaser trailer—the introduction to my current project. As a note, I am completely serious with this. It has a middle [and maybe, someday, an end] to it that makes it a legitimate short story. Try to follow along.

"Two Dollar Cover"

So there’s this guy, right? And he’s applying for a marine biology job. And he goes into the interview, and the interviewer asks him where he went to school, and the guy says that he went to one of the best marine biology schools in the world, renowned, expert trainers, the works. And the interviewer’s eyes light up. Like THIS!, and he goes, “Well that’s great! So you have a lot of experience!” And the guy is like, “Not exactly.” So the interviewer says, “But I thought you went to one of the best schools in the world, renowned, expert trainers, the works?” And the guy goes, “yeah, in Mon-TANA,” and the interviewer, speaking in a British accent, says “Many oceans around those parts?”
Water is a funny thing, am I right? I’m not just talking oceans; I’m talking all the water, everywhere. Because you need to drink it, and your body is made up of water, and so is the earth. But then there are places like the Grand Canyon, where that river has snaked through there, wearing away at the rock. ER-O-SION. So how come our throats don’t erode away? Ever think of that? If we drink water so much, and we need it so bad, how come we don’t have holes in our throats? Like those smoker people! Can you imagine that? Having to get a voice box and telling kids not to drink water! Water kills! No?
Okay, even better: last week, I was downtown and I paid a hooker $100 to perform a sexual act on my—

“I’m going to have to stop you there.”

06 November 2006

Goal des goals

This has college inside joke reminder written all over it. Good singer, this guy.

Exactly like "Rocky," if you replace the ball with Apollo Creed's face. And Sly Stallone with a bunch of English dudes. And all the bad dialogue with unintelligible foreign dialogue.

05 November 2006

An "I could do that" moment...

...if I only had a ticket to Rome, helicopter, photorealistic memory, 5-yards of paper, an iPod, three days off and the scary-amazing talent of this guy.

01 November 2006

I cannot feel my toes

The Culture Bully has an amazing post (and a shitload of mp3s) about the Decemberists on NPR. I’ve been “into” NPR’s live concert series since it started about a year ago, mostly because they have bands on it that I like to listen to the music of. On it. Like, playing instruments. The Decemberists are once again appropriate for the weather outside, as temperature obviously directs what I listen to; it’s frostbity outside, so The Decemberists and their chilly splendor fit. And also, I was this-fucking-close (fairly close) to interviewing the band a few weeks ago.

Borat take you, world, over tomorrows. Very niice.

Sleeping in the basement of a house without roof insulation feels quite similar to sleeping outside while a polar bear throws ice on your toes. Brisk, a bit.

Thoughts on campaign commercials:

This year’s Iowa election is supposedly the most costly ever held. The two candidates have spent over $13 million campaigning, while still belittling each other as being pro-big business or too wealthy or too political to run a quaint state like Iowa. I’ve done a bit of math, run the numbers, etc, and figured out that the $13 million sickeningly thrown into badly-worded commercials could have been spent easily overcoming one of the state’s biggest problems, in at least one [sofa salesman’s] case: keeping young people in the state. I’m not against the government giving me money. Not above it at all.

Politicians that are just like the rest of us are too dumb to lead. Thanks for helping me decide, Representative-candidate Underwhelming (“Ab-stain? Yes, please.”).

A new spin on an old debate: baby’s first tax payment should be the moment a soul-less mass of Godlessness is considered a living being. How to sell to the public: point out that all those free-loading “living babies” are not paying taxes, but are getting the same basic liberties as all of the hard-working, tax-paying consumerist patriots. And have a flag waving in the background.

I’ll vote for the first candidate who tries to rap to connect with the young people, even if it’s horrible. Because, fuck—that candidate would really get me.

26 October 2006

"We will never touch your foot with our hands"

Thoughts from the last few days:

The Wire is a great fucking show. I’ve heard nothing but that about the show for the past month, but I wasn’t able to see it until last weekend. I’ve begun to rent the first season of the show, hoping to catch up to the current season. Through five episodes, though, I can say I’m extremely impressed. Makes shows like “Law and Order” and “Justice” look dumb[er than usual].

The Departed is even better at being a great fucking movie than I am at being an unsuccessful fucking person. It may not be poetry, but then there’s something literate about it that doesn’t try to be. There are points of philosophical bigotry, moments of emotionless violence and a “few” vulgarities. Also, there’s a damn good story. It is 2-1/2 hours that pass with a pace that feels like half of that. I kept thinking, “Have three actors from the same movie ever been nominated for the same Academy Award?” I’m sure those that discern good acting from great will disagree that Nicholson, DiCaprio and Damon all deserve the attention, but I haven’t seen anything better this year. See it as soon as fucking possible.

If you think the Blue Moon 12 oz bottle that you didn’t open as you fell asleep watching a movie last night is, after 24 refrigerated hours, going to be just as good as a fresh Blue Moon 12 oz bottle, you’re sadly—and unequivocally—wrong.

Someone should invent a vacuum-packed house. It wouldn’t be vacuum-packed all the time, but it would have the capability if there were no living things inside. Then, just as a wacky-random example, if a fire were to break out in the garage of a house and started to blow smoke up the ass, every which way, of the rest of the house, the vacuum switch could be flipped. The air and smoke would be pushed out of the house as the fire strangled itself out. Once the fire area was finally cool, then, the vacuum could be released, and there would be little-to-no damage. Theoretically speaking, there would be no need, then, for me to clean every fucking thing in my room as if it were infected with SARS before I’d be able to move back into my house. Just a thought, I suppose.

On a more specific note, I hope this final thought might be useful to somebody. There’s a pretty small chance that what motivated me to think about this has nothing to do with me. But that something got me to thinking about misunderstanding and trying too hard. I’ve tried too many times to say the perfect thing at the perfect time while maintaining my untainted and (personally perfect) idealistic view on whatever it may be. I hate clichés, avoid them at all costs and try my hardest to be all the man that I can be without them (like right now, being all contradicting and ironic). But there are some things that I have no fucking clue about. When I deal with those things, I’m just guessing. And when I get into a situation that seems like I should do one thing—like stop doing all the other things I’d been doing—I follow it, even though I don’t want to. Oh, and I also over-think. All the time, I’m over-thinking and obsessing over something. What I should have done, said, not done or simply said louder. Then I try to fix it all by being completely honest and blunt—but mostly through non-confrontational mediums like email [or telepathy].
So to forget is to stop thinking. Tell me how to do that and I can go on being a happy sofa salesman. But I doubt I’d ever choose that road over the luxurious and torturous and self-doubting and contemplative one less traveled (see? Fucking clichés…). So a direct conversation, instead of avoidance and forgetfulness and missing and confusion, would make things a bit better even if it wouldn’t fix anything. Or a second chance for once, with a little more information and blunt honesty. It’s not going away; the newspaper and look-a-likes and unbelievably realistic dreams and customers’ future daughters’ names are making sure of it.

I was going for “vague as shit” with the last thought, though somebody might be able to see through that coat of Kevlar. Does it sound too Dashboard Confessional-y? If no, thanks. If yes, fuck off!

23 October 2006

Some people are just more important

Today I heard an interesting idea for future elections, though I didn't read much into it so excuse my half-informed summary of it. The basic idea was that instead of letting the baby boom generation "vote for the past" with their ideas of where the country's political power should go, we give proxy power to the parents of children under voting age. The point behind it was that those parents would get more voting power to invest in candidates focused on the future (and the well-being of the younger generation). So a single parent with eight children, two jobs and no time to research candidates beyond campaign commercials would have 800% more influence than a retired fry cook, for example.

But, I ask, what would this do for all the anti-family parties aiming at world free of diaper-shitting machines? How will they be given a fair shot with such prejudice put against them?

I've got an alternative solution that, when put into law, will solve the generational gap completely--arrange our representative districts by age. Put all the retired folks in one place--let's call it "Florida"--all the baby-poppers in the "Midwest," the hipsters in "California," and so on (all the furry people in "Alaska").

I'm tired. Sorry, this is the best I've got at 2:30 in the morning.

19 October 2006

It's not looking good.

It may be about time to accept the inevitable.

Also, I need to borrow $4,000. Thanks.

17 October 2006

On Partisanship--Anti-Republican, spamalicious Liberal

Two months ago I felt ambitious enough to email an anti-Democratic blogger about his position on partisanship. In return, I got an ambitious reply (the next day, actually) summarizing his position on politics: 1) a Democratic leader is more corrupt than a Republican leader, 2) he's definitely not affiliated with the GOP, and 3) the two-party system is inevitable.

I really did mean to respond--"what the fuck?"--but found enough distractions to put it off this long. And I never got to email an anti-Republican blogger with their opinion, because I mostly don't like to read cliched and unoriginal shit expressed as an opinion (not to be general, of course).

Conveniently, a few months ago somebody must have signed me up for the liberal spam network, because I occasionally get an email with an interestingly vague title--"Bush wants to kill your children," "Global warming a problem," and "Republicans--do we need em?" among the most literate. I even once tried to respond to one of these rebel-rousers, but the email was somehow undeliverable to osidflkjlsfhahaha@yahoo.com. So I'll just respond in my usual passive-aggressive and childishly sarcastic way. My comments are the ones [in italic brackets].

Will the Democrats ever matter?"
from megbannerji@gmail.com

Can the Democrats ever really matter again? [define "matter] Can they win? [again, define "win"] Can they do more than complain about the Republican agenda? [poop?] Election season is in full swing, and the Dems apparently have a chance to take back the House and the Senate. [like swing dancing? Is there a half-swing available in which all chance of defeat is replaced with a few token leadership positions?] All they have to do is. . . well, say something. [they're shy, asshole. Taunting is mean.]

Say something other than, “We are against terrorists, too, but we want to be fair about it. We want a strong military too, but there are other priorities, so PLEASE don’t pick on me. We’ll revive government programs without raising your taxes, and we know you don’t believe us.” [I don't think any Democrats have ever said thi...oh, haha. I get it. It's a sarcastic exaggeration to show weakness in the subjects' strategies. Not at all to be confused with "generalized bullshit."]

How did this Democratic double-talk become the norm? [I blame the schools] How did the Democratic party end up forever on the defensive, merely echoing a watered-down version of Republican priorities? [here's my guess: by taking the stance furthest opposite of the Republican party's offensive-"you're-either-with-us-or-against-us," watered-down version of what they consider American Patriotism.] Didn’t they once have a lock on power, and successfully labeled the Republicans as the party of the rich? [I'm guessing you did your research, as the tone of this email obviously suggests. So yes.] Yes, they did. [Knew it.] So what happened?

Let’s go back to their heyday, when a discredited Herbert Hoover ceded power to an Administration that spent lots of government money with the full approval of America. [Let's] Back when President Roosevelt proposed Bill after Bill that put government squarely in the center of American life. [Like a Democracy!] Government was not a dirty word. [Like fuck! wait...] The Administration created jobs, created public works, and only the Ultra-Rich cried foul. [pussies...] The rest of us put the “socialist” label to rest for the time being and accepted the knowledge the Government Saved Us. [Because "pinko" was as unimportant as "fear-mongering"] The federal government created programs to make sure the old and the poor didn’t die in the streets. [That's what dumpsters are for] We built highways, created federal Parks systems, built bridges and dams, schools, science academies, hospitals and enacted huge Public Works programs, fought a war that saved the world, all of which made America proud, all of which cost lots and lots of money. [who's "we," you self-crediting attention whore? And why bring down the mood with talks of money? Socialism was starting to sound better and better...]

Then in the 60s, President Johnson implemented two expensive projects at once: The Great Society, which aimed to provide education, jobs and a safety net for everyone in this country. . . and the Vietnam War. [not to be confused with "The Great Escape," starring Clint Eastwood, which aimed to provide education, hobbies and a sense of hope for everyone locked up on Alcatraz Island, and the Vietnam Conflict, which may or may not have happened.] The result was higher taxes. And then in the late 1960s, we began hearing tales of Welfare abuse, people living permanently on the public dole. ["We," in this statement, refers to the readers of the Nagasaw County-distributed newsletter "Down with the Pinko Presidents," of which numbered in the mid-to-upper hundreds.] We also witnessed the rise of that great American stereotype, the Government Worker, slow and slothful, dumb and inefficient. In our thinking, Big Government was no longer a good thing. [Kind of like Wal-Mart greeters--once the corporation lowered their standards in favor of a cheaper workforce, things just seemed a lot more depressing as consumers walked to their soul-selling fates.]

Then the 70s gave us the Bussing issue, in which liberal judges in urban areas forced integration at public schools. [Is this the extreme liberal, spam-style email that I've come to expect, or a fucking history lesson?] Black kids were bussed to White schools, and vice versa. America was not impressed [high standards, I guess]. Then came California’s watershed vote: Proposition 13, which capped property tax increases, and California’s entire public sector cried foul [is a watershed like a chicken coop, aka shit-shed? Or is it just a coincidence the former is appearing in the latter?]. Hospitals will go unfunded, we were warned. Schools and the Criminal Justice system will go starving. California citizens responded, “So what?” and the measure won by a landslide [and that's why hospitals, schools and Judge Judy no longer exist...]. Also, the death penalty was abolished nationwide, a move that most Americans did not agree with, and liberal judges like California’s Rose Bird loudly handed down pro-criminal verdicts that sealed the opinion that the Justice system was run by a bunch of ivory-tower bleeding-hearts [this sentence, and to a larger extent this email, is making my ears bleed]. At this point, government became the enemy [of the state...Will Smith....anybody?].

Enter the Reagan Revolution of 1980. Federal agencies were slashed, the federal budget for domestic spending was gutted, and America said “It’s about time” [America speaking in a single, organized voice must have been a big thing before I was born]. But by 1984, though, President Reagan was fairly unpopular ["though the name 'Joseph' for any first-born Thiele's could be considered semi-popular, AND moderately successful"]. Unemployment was at record highs, and many voters felt Reagan had swung the country too far to the right [so much talk about voters--I want to know what the fuck the abstainers were feeling]. So the Democratic party ran an old-style liberal at the top of the ticket, Walter Mondale, who went on TV and said, “I will raise your taxes” [while Walter Matthau was saying "You can't do it with strangers"].

The Democrats lost by a landslide, and the party has never recovered from those five words [the opposite effect, oddly enough, that Matthau's six words had on the free love community]. The notion that Democrats are “tax and spend” is a permanent part of our political landscape [just like "cut and run"].

So that’s your answer. We won’t pay for things [lots of setup for such a weak punchline. Where's the joke in that?]. America will pay for Bush’s war against Muslims without blinking an eye [well now you're countering yourself--there's one thing], but we don’t want to pay for better schools, better hospitals, publicly-funded disease research, roads and bridges, global warming prevention, earth-friendly transportation [all things that could be improved with cheap labor via the homeless or our prison populations]. We don’t want to be what we once were: World Leaders in the public sector, the best in science, the best in manufacturing, the best in education [I'm betting the Chinese are now best in those things; China is communist; therefore, if you want to be good at any of those things, you're an un-American pinko hugger. And an asshole. Right, megbannerji?]. American voters don’t want that anymore. What do we spend money on? [Drugs]. Electronics, all built overseas, consumer gadgets of all types, all built overseas ["Russian components, American components...all made in Taiwan!"]. None of that is investing in America. And yet our thinking is so twisted, we believe the Republicans are the more patriotic party [you're not presenting a very positive alternative right now, just so you know]. But what could be more patriotic than building great schools, developing cures for diseases, and preserving America’s resources, all of which will help ALL of us. And yet those priorities are considered “soft,” “liberal,” not patriotic, like fighting wars [that sentence makes perfect sense if you squint at it and think of a sailboat].

And as long as Americans maintain that twisted idea of patriotism, Democrats will teeter on the edge of extinction [because that's a likely possibility in our red vs blue world]. Until we decide we love our country enough to make it work, to produce students that can read, cars that don’t pollute, cures that benefit all, until we get our heads out of our Ipods and computers and decide that we are willing to spend what it takes to make America a proud place again, then yes, Democrats will continue to dance around what they are afraid to say: “Quality costs money, people. Tax money. Not as much as destroying Iraq, but a proud nation costs money.” [what a calm and non-pointed way to head into your concluding statement.]

Are we ready to hear that fact this election season? We’ll find out soon enough.

[how dramatic...]

[If you're still here, consider yourself a bit less informed than before]:

It's emails like this one that I hate the idea of aligning yourself with one side or the other. Everyone who considers themselves a Democrat, right now, is automatically an asshole through association with this liberal douche. I understand there are varying degrees of party loyalty, liberalism and expressed distaste, but if you're standing on the blue-colored side of the line, then you're in the same boat as this mass emailer. That boat is sinking, apparently. Congratulations.

I agree with the thought that probably inspired this email: that Democrats aren't doing enough to present a viable opposition to the Republican party. It really seems like they're content with pushing poor candidates onto the voting public and hoping people vote for something other than what they have now. "Couldn't get any worse, could it?" seems to be a popular political strategy. In fact, just today I saw a commercial that wasn't advertising any specific candidate, but instead it simply concluded with the words, "Vote for Change." It reinforced in my mind the fate being pushed on us by such a brash two-party system:

"We are fucked."

Want to get people thinking you're going to change something? Get the fucking Democrats that are already in positions of power to start doing something themselves! I don't like that George Bush is President of the United States, but convincing others that the party he belongs to isn't right for right now boils down to a bit more than, "we need something different, I suppose."

16 October 2006

Almost as good as not posting in two weeks

I haven't had internet access that could be considered "reliable" or "not stolen" in around two weeks. For some reason, people are still coming to this site. To that thousanth visitor from last week, who was surely expecting a grand celebration and prize (similar to the billionth iTunes song sold): sorry--the fine print shows that all celebratory glad-handing is void in cases of absenteeism and poverty.

Also, I'm fine--thanks for asking.

I recently visited that big Sofa Mart in the sky ("Denver") for training. I can now sell anything to anyone at any time no matter their budget, unless you're just looking, then nevermind--I'm here if you have questions.

Also, I've been getting a lot of politically-themed email lately. Expect my rebuttal to one (if not all) of those grammatically-diarhea-ed editorials.

Secondly, I've got a few thoughts on the upcoming elections, North Korea and the world (in general). They're not as fucked in the ear as half the opinions ("give teachers guns, for Christsake!" -Fox News) I've been hearing.

Finally, a few weekends back I was able to visit BVU once again for Homecoming weekend (and, I suppose, a "One Year Reunion," even though it's only been five months). I saw a lot of friends, drank a lot of beer, was challeneged at the thing I might be best at, and ate some spastic fucking burritos. To resolve one of those four, I'll be throwing out some reminders to the youngens who've gotten a bit comfortable without Joe Thiele around. Instead of "everything Joe Thiele knows is wrong," I'll offer some interesting points on the surprisingly brash and defensive columnist that lives where the [Assumed] Truth once did. It'll be fun, if only for me.

25 September 2006

Super duper

For the few of you who've somehow overlooked the lack of posts, I apologize. I doubt it'll get any better for awhile, but I'll try.

I've had quite a few ideas lately that I've been anxious to write about, but unforseen circumstances (fucking fire) has chased away a lot of the opportunity to share.

So I'll post on everything I can remember that I believe you should know, and hopefully I'll have the means to properly blog like a whore sometime soon.

First, I've seen an upswing in enthusiastic religious-ness lately, and an equal force to balance them out. Movies like the upcoming documentary "Jesus Camp" seem to be an unnerving look at what a group can do to influence everyone they believe are against them. The film--at least what I can tell from the trailer--centers around Evangelical Christians' beliefs in the kids (the future of their church). With rat-tailed ten-year-olds talking as if they were well-read preachers, and well-read preachers pointing out their communities voting power, I'm a bit concerned that objectivity (HA!) and religious freedom (see: the freedom to not believe in anything) could be lost in favor of a more powerful majority. But shit, perhaps I'm still a bit shell-shocked: that type of power swing won't happen for at least another 25 months.

Second, I enjoy television. The past few years have been both amazing and soul-crushing: for every minute of Arrested Development over its abbreviated three seasons, there've been thirty versions of According to Jim-type sitcoms. But I can ignore the latter, and having the former makes my life happier. Over the summer, I added House as my guilty-pleasure type of show. Its protagonist is sarcastic (like me!) and can't run a mile (yes!) and can figure out what type of disease somebody has by yelling at his highly-paid assistants to do more tests (two out of three is close enough for empathy). Add on a highly-encouraging first few episodes of Studio 60, and you've got me watching television an entire three nights per week.

Third (both in list- and television-night-form), is the new season of The Office. Wow. I had to watch it at work, which means that most customers that came in that Thursday night were severly neglected. If you haven't seen it yet, get it done--the touch of having Ed Helms come in as the psycho-literal-thinking Ivy-league alum is perfect, and the show can outlast its British counterpart by a few seasons.

Fourth, Paul Masson White Zinfandel wine (see: devil wine) makes me do dumb things, but makes those dumb things seem infinitely fun at the time.

Finally, I've got lots of random ideas that I've been neglecting to act upon lately. So, instead of letting them die in my head, I'll soon start sharing them with all of you--not necessarily the thinkers of the bunch, but maybe the do-ers.

20 September 2006

Newsflash: Detroit invents car to traverse the length of US in four minutes (or less)!

This is a video by the brother of the guy who directed "Eternal Sunshine..." and the upcoming "The Science of Sleep." Perhaps not extremely laureliscious, but he belongs to a creative family and obviously shares some of his brother's talent. This video is a 4 minute clip of linked-together videos of a drive from LA-to-NYC.

Videos like this make me want to buy a videocamera, so I have an excuse to do things (besides not having anything better to do).

18 September 2006


Sacha Baron Cohen's good at being a person. While this clip is over two years old (and focuses on the Ali G character his show is based on), it still proves that the new Borat movie could be the greatest movie ever.

Trailer for "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" below.

15 September 2006

My conscience has a monotone voice

Want to feel helpless and distant? Feeling too good about yourself and/or the world? Need a bit of a realignment without the hassle of enrolling in a time-consuming cult religion?

Watch “The Corporation.”

I did, and most of the conditions above apply now much more than they did before.

You already know the popular theme of the movie (unless you don’t, then you probably can’t read me call you dumb either)—corporations are greedy! There seems to be a bit more to it than that, though, because the tricky filmmakers made a 90-minute documentary out of this single subject.

Within the first five minutes, I knew that I was going to be cheering for these ambitious documentors. They said, with words and pictures and video, a [popular] thought I’ve had lately about corporations—that they’ve replaced the Catholic church, monarchies and fascists as the dominant form of influence. These entities continue on with little resistance (or regard) for outside parties, just as those others did for centuries.

The evidence of worker neglect, environmental neglect, cultural neglect, social neglect, commercial neglect, political neglect and cow-puss-milk grows daunting halfway through, with little hope of ever stopping. But then the solutions do come: the masses banding together to vote with their dollar, stop oppression and take back some of the power. “The Revolution,” I suppose.

Thinking more about the “us versus them” idea, that corporations are similar to totalitarian governments—institutions that need to be overthrown with force after diplomacy fails—I don’t think customer backlash can stop corporate greed. I don’t think making money will go out of style any time soon, either. Like the movie points out—some corporations knowingly break laws because it’s more cost-effective than working around them.

So what’s the solution to all these unsustainable corporations? (With unsustainable, I’m using a term from the movie—the idea that corporations leave a footprint on the world—use more resources/pollute more than they help). I can throw seven ideas out there, I suppose:

1. Start implementing the death penalty for a corporation’s legal person.

2. Light a bag of shit outside the front door of every corporate office in America. Run like hell.

3. Go to work for one of the most morally-absent corporations, like Wal-Mart or the Gap. Bring them down from the inside by performing your job less-than-spectacularly.

4. Instead of eating or taking prescription drugs that create huge profits for McDonalds and Pfizer, respectively, shoot heroin. All the time.

5. Turn off your television, for it has a death grip (and surprising influence) on your buying habits. Instead, write your congressional representative. Those guys and gals could use the encouragement as they fight the thankless, honest fight.

6. Adopt a highway. Then charge a toll. Eventually, you can incorporate. Then you can figure out how to rob those fucking little bastards that keep trying to bring you down.

7. Bitch about how hopeless the fight is on the web. It helps, because the people that’ll read it will care. Obviously.

12 September 2006

Never thought of using a turkey baster before...

This Mastercard ad featuring Macguyver being Mac-fucking-guyver is probably pretty old--I believe I saw it months ago--but I laughed out loud when I saw it again tonight.

There's just something about having a commercial featuring everyone's favorite clepto, Billy Crudup saying "turkey baster" (in an oddly funny way), and Richard Dean Anderson stuffing a tube sock in his pocket at a convenience store that makes it a noteworthy advertisement for consumerism.

11 September 2006

Black umbrellas for a rainy day

I had originally intended to post absolutely nothing on the inescapable topic of the day/week. I figured I had no new information, perspective, thoughts or revelations to share on something so serious to so many people.

Then I saw people on my MSN friends list adding small little airplanes to commemorate the five year anniversary, and I was befuddled at the attempt at some joint sympathetic symbol. It seemed like too ironic a gesture, as if it was pandering to a collective necessity to do something without putting any real thought into the gesture itself. When a few friends confirmed that it truly was what I had originally thought, I was blown away. The reason was one of convenience and a lack of alternatives, but it blew me back a bit at the time.

Now I’m over it. People should be allowed to express themselves however they like. I strongly disagree with airplanes as a symbol of unity, but I also disagree with the idea of Nicholas Cage starring in a movie about the entire ordeal. Both have their hearts in the right place, I suppose, and for today (at least) that’s enough.

I was one of the few who, five years ago, were privileged enough to not feel an immediate fear for our country’s well-being. Sure, I watched 18 of every 24 hours of news coverage, and I became hopeful when each survivor was found. but I never thought that we’d collapse upon ourselves and dive into an anarchistic state—though it seemed like it at every local gas station.

And we didn’t. And we all became extremely patriotic for awhile, and supported Bush, and some even generalized all Muslims as anti-American.

So now, five years later, we’re all a little less outwardly patriotic than we were, but still emotional about it. Some people choose to put planes up, others wear ribbons, or make movies. I write, contributing absolutely nothing (as I promised). I hope everyone who was hurt more by 9/11 than I has reached some form of peace over the last five years.

05 September 2006

It's almost that time...

The Office comes back in a few weeks, and I don't think I need to repeat how anxious I am. The future of Pam/Jim, Michael's love triangle drama, and Scrantonicity's next major gig.

I caught a bit of the NBC preview show when it first aired and really only paid attention during these clips that were interspersed throughout the special.

None of this has jack to do with Season 3, which is a great thing when you consider the completely random results.

04 September 2006

Finally, some godamn fiction

Tonight I got into a life-affirming mood and decided to read some of my freewriting from two years ago. I was expecting a lot of angst and uncertainty about the future. While those were major topics in the writing—as they were major topics in my simplified lifeat the time—I was surprised at the level they were developed.

Usually when I freewrite, I only get about a page of ranting out before I retreat into self-consciousness and bury the file as quickly as possible. But sometimes it’s nice to reflect back on what I wrote when I was trying to get over myself and write some fucking fiction (as I’ve been trying to do lately).

And there were a few story-starters that were complete fuck-offs, as they were meant to be, that remind me of a few stories I’ve written since with ironic tones. So, as a change of pace from my usual bullshitted-ness and egotism, I’ve decided to post one of these lost first paragraphs. The first paragraph was truly written, in the present unaltered [and purposefully clichéd] form, nearly two years ago. This is actually pretty close to “flash fiction” (as I’ve included a newly-written conclusion to make the entire story weigh in at 122 words).

To all prospective publishers and literary agents: you can contact me at thiejos@gmail.com to discuss future book deals and my [slightly negotiable] $1,000,000 advance.


Many of the greatest things in life are mistakes, as my parents kept telling me. Columbus stumbled upon America, Coca-Cola turned out to be a tasty soft drink, and myself—they said my future accomplishments would more than make up for the regret of their cracked-out prom night and a failed marriage. They said they didn’t want to put pressure on me at all. Sometime shortly after that, they would remind me that they’d kill or disown me—whichever current or future laws would allow—if I ever gave up on myself or their dreams for me.

So, in short, that was the moment I happened upon the nuclear warheads—by mistake, I’m contending—and decided to hold the world at ransom.

01 September 2006

Global Warming [hearts] Threadless

I need to learn how to use definitives and understatement much more in my everyday life. Like “global warming is exactly like the holocaust.”

Is it just me, or are the three major networks making an above-average effort to vend shit on primetime television? Earlier this summer, it was To Catch a Predator on NBC, with creepy guys getting caught walking into underage kids’ homes naked. Then, Primetime on ABC tried to debunk every popular myth of American middle school lunchtimes. Now, ABC narrows down the different ways to a convenient list of five, in their Last Days on Earth. Think Armageddon + An Inconvenient Truth + Dr. Strangelove + a shit load of assumption and guessing – all common sense.

There was no new information given out during the entire show, besides the recurring theme: we all need to be very, very fucking scared of the end of the world, because it’s coming.

I had a strong feeling as the top threat was announced—drumroll….global warming—there was some political agenda behind the show. “Yes, nuclear winter would technically kill every person not smart enough to become a mole person very soon, but a drastic global climate change would displace a bunch of people, kill the polar bears and prove Al Gore right.” Am I missing something?

I’ve said before, strongly, that I agree with the science behind global warming. I know there is a problem, because it seems as if our earth’s atmosphere should have boiled itself already with all the damn factories, SUV’s and smoking dogs in the world. The way it’s always presented, though, is through fear campaigns meant to jolt the Law and Order-watching public into action. Showing how quickly the Avian Flu could wipe out the world is one thing, but then saying that global warming is a hundred million fucking times worse reinforces your point.

News agencies, as I’ve come to expect, are supposed to be shitty to a degree, so I can forgive ABC on the grounds that they’re no more whorish for viewers and ad revenue as any other major network. The main problem comes when this fear inspires spite within sedentary people who depend on the very resources and services that offend global warmists the most.

Georgy Bush doesn’t believe in global warming. He does believe in God, however. Gerogy Bush’s family has made a bit of money off the oil industry. God hasn’t, in any direct and measurable way, made the Bush family any money. So global warming threatens to eliminate the importance of oil, and therefore Georgy’s economic health. It actually heightens the importance of a Savior figure—with the world ending and all—but the savings account doesn’t change with this omnipotent factor.

The same might hold true for line workers in the automobile industry, the coal mining industry, the Dunder-Mifflin Paper industry and the Frank’s Air Conditioners and More factory warehouse.

When presented with a dire situation eighty years down the road and a dire situation next paycheck, most logical people will choose to fix the latter first. Could this be why some dismiss global warming as less-imminently-dangerous than what Alberto Gore claims?


So if the issue is the lower to middle working class’ [justified] fear over losing their jobs as companies spend more to pollute less, something has to be done to curb that fear. And if another half of the problem is that well-off people consume at a rate six to eight times more than citizens of other countries, then that problem needs to be fixed as well.

There has to be some middle ground, between nothing and everything, that takes the power away from the money-hungry corporations willing to kill the planet for immediate rewards; that rewards the blue-collar worker just as equally as their white-collar counterparts; that levels the playing field between rich and poor, abolishing meaningless class systems in favor of one unionized human race class; that abolishes wealth and poverty with a swift movement towards shared prosperity.

You know where I’m headed, don’t you?

But first off, I’d like to apologize in advance. Right now, I’m apologizing.

For what? For keeping this secret. I was selfish, thinking that I could keep an idea all to myself and somehow gain an advantage over you. But the guilt got to me. I think it’s guilt. Or apathy—it could be apathy.

But anyways, I’m over it, and I felt like I needed to apologize first (see: above), then let you in on my next big idea. I originally thought that I’d call Al up after I thought the idea through completely, and demand some sort of payment (or student-loan-forgiving, preferably); I reconsidered once I remembered I don’t have his phone number, and that I wouldn’t call him even if I DID. He should call me…

So what’s the answer to the masses’ need for a Savior figure to swoop down and rescue them from balmy temperatures?

Socialized refrigeration.

Free refrigerators for all. Energy-saving fuckers, too. Low emissions.

I don’t care if you’re a 78-year-old man with a shredded knee or a 22-year-old artist with no boyfriend and your own opinion, you deserve a free fridge [and my phone number, in the case of the latter].

What do we do with the old refrigerators? Give them to the homeless. Cardboard will no longer be manufactured specifically for the transient folk; instead, the sturdy energy-eaters will fend off rain, cold and smoking dogs without wasting any electricity or paper. The government would also, obviously, save money on low-income housing by nailing together a few fridges! Studio apartment dwellers would also gain a valuable perspective on life by comparing their spacious 320-square-feet with the cozy 72-cubic-foot alternative. Wins all around!

This is a solution that can be reached in as little as a Saturday at Sears. So write your senators to tell them you need a Free Fucking Fridge!

Problem solved.

All the pictures are from Threadless T-Shirts, and are coincidentally available in t-shirt form.

30 August 2006

Funnier than something you wouldn't laugh at

Part One:

I'm a marginal Conan fan--I enjoy him (like most) more than any other late night host on NBC, though that's like saying I'd rather live a healthy life instead of being shot in the groin or stuck in a room with a humorless Carson Daly.

I think Conan's show is funny on some nights, not on others, but overall better than most. This opening to this year's Douche Chill-worthy Emmy Awards is far better than most other award show openings I've seen.

It's got a dry theme, Steve Carell doing his "Michael Scott" thing, and Dateline NBC's Chris Porter even poking a bit of fun at himself. I think those are the three ingredients missing from every other awards show opening.

Also, the song at the end of his monologue is actually catchy. Enjoy.

Part Two:

The good kind of German

I'm getting fucking sick of bands with faux-witty names. Every band trying to be "indie" (see Culture Bully's great discussion with [non shittily named] The Majestic Twelve's Kenyata Sullivan for a clear look at all the bullshit arguments over indie vs major here).

Clever Titles are So Last Summer is a music blog with an accurate title. When I see more wit in a title than in the band's actual music, it troubles me a bit. Even more, I don't like to see potentially decent names (Scary Kids Scaring Kids has a nice ring) turn out to be paired with middle school emo kid lyrics (they actually have a fucking song called "My knife, your throat"...um....wow). Honestly, I don't know how these people get the jobs they do.

I know I could write (at least lyrically) better songs than every confessional, Sylvia-Plath-worshipping, literal-meaning-mongers out there. Equalling their vacuous collection of conversational words wouldn't mean much to me; contributing something new and trying to further the development of human thinking would be something a bit more useful and fresh than simple restatement of obvious teenage angst.

I think it'd just be easier if I accelerated my plans for the annihilation of mediocrity by starting my historically significant band (which I've tentatively named "German", for its lack of irony but understated abstraction). I accept that the first few gigs may be rough, as my tenor saxophone skills are a bit rusty, and I suspect that they won't transfer as smoothly to the guitar (or drums or keyboard or bass or banjo or acceptable-vocal-talent) as my fifth grade band instructor promised they would if I were to ever have an interest in the clarinet.

If you have an interest in rocking without compromising our obviously red-state-ish conservative Midwestern ideals, please email me.

Trailer Trash...zing!

This summer hasn’t been great for theatrical releases. I’ve seen three or four movies in the theatre over the last few months, but I haven’t been pressed to go out every week like I’d prefer.

Sure, Talladega Nights was immensely entertaining (in a silence-my-inner-asshole way), Friends with Money was a great time in an empty theatre, and Little Miss Sunshine was pleasant enough not to fail my every high expectation. But there hasn’t been much beyond that.

Luckily, I’ve had three-to-five movies each week from Netflix to divert my attention. I’ve seen some incredible movies (The Station Agent, Happiness, American Movie) along with the “what the fuck” moments (The Good Girl, sex, lies, and videotape), so I haven’t lost out on the movie-going experience.

I check Apple trailers periodically, and I’m actually kind of surprised to see there are quite a few movies coming out in the next few months that look quite promising. They’ll try, at the very least, to fill the void until Charlie Kaufman’s next movie (Synecdoche, New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Spiderman 3 come out next year.

Man of the Year

Think Robin Williams (minus the spastic crack persona) impersonating Jon Stewart. It sounds pretty heavy handed, but the trailer makes it seem like it’ll actually be funny.

[Video] Man of the Year trailer


Borat is an extension of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show” character, Borat. The trailer gets me quite excited at all the crazy hijinx as the fake Kazakstani reporter makes his way through all the Red, White, and Blue states, exposing social taboos in the process.

[Video] Borat trailer

The Science of Sleep

Michel Gondry seems to be a pretty creative guy. He directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I didn’t mind the missing Spike Jonze influence. He made a short film about driving across the country, with a camera strapped to the back of his convertible and all the clips seamed together in fast-forward motion. Now he extends all that creative process into another project with creativitiy—at least the imagination part—at its center. I don’t like most love stories, unless they involve one person being a little crazy (like Misery!) or a semi-unique-in-a-hipster-sort-of-way imagery theme.

[Video] The Science of Sleep trailer

Mutual Appreciation

Black and white gives a movie that authentic, do-it-yourself feel. So this movie feels indie-as-shit. Probably because it’s supposed to be indie-as-shit as it forwards its indie-as-shit message. I’m not fully against that type of thinking, but I’m not popular enough to accept it as fact either. So, for now, I’ll say that I want to see this movie because the dialogue seems pretty witty, the timing looks to be pretty dry (and dead-on), and the up-and-coming band sounds like something I’d really like (as opposed to other movies’ prodigiously shitty “I am unique/and not loved/but I’ll make it/ out of this pub”-ish bands).

[Video] Mutual Appreciation trailer

Running with Scissors

I immediately think of The Royal Tenenbaums when I watch this movie. True, it does have Brian Cox in it, and true, that does knock a few points off of its highest possible score. And yes, “Benny and the Jets” is playing at the end of the trailer. All things that could make me dismiss it as a wanna-be dysfunctional family comedy wanting to be as perfect as Wes Anderson’s. I highly doubt it will be, but I’m not against this movie yet; it might be highly entertaining, in fact.

[Video] Running With Scissors trailer

The Proposition

I debated with myself whether I should include this one or not, but I think it could be half as good as the trailer quotes promises that it will be, which would still be pretty good. I never like westerns nearly as much as everyone else seems to (with the exception of Tombstone, of course). I hope this one can change the tide for me (since it’s technically the Australian Wild West, or “Outback,” mate).

[Video] The Proposition trailer

27 August 2006

“…and I celebrate you.”

I’m not one to fawn over celebrities. Especially not when it’s celebrities fawning over other celebrities.

But I love Arrested Development (and Will Arnett). Hearts, kisses, 4eva. Like, fer real.

And The Office (and Steve Carell).

And Ricky Gervais (and Stephen Merchant).

And Stephen Colbert.

So when I see them lose undeservedly at a completely unnecessary event meant to give out hand-jobs-in-the-form-of-pointy-statues, I throw a self-pity party because I watched most of the Emmys on NBC.

When best writing came up, “Arrested Development” should have won unchallenged. So, obviously, “My Name is Earl” proves that popularity really does determine quality. And when the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy came up, and Will Arnett (finally being recognized for his GOB character) should most definitely win, he doesn’t. (In all honesty, I’m not pissed about this one—he lost to Jeremy Piven from “Entourage,” so it wasn’t really a loss. Ari Gold is amazing).

Tony Shalhoub beats Steve Carell in comedic lead actor (what the fuck?), Ricky Gervais doesn’t win anything for being one of the five funniest people on the planet (how does that happen?), and Stephen Colbert finished not-first to Barry Manilow (because Manilow is still relevant). If the Daily Show wouldn’t have won the few awards it did, I would have been oh-fer on the night.

But it is just the Emmys, and the people voting on the winners are obviously a little off-kilter when it comes to comedy (usually). So I celebrate the Emmys, because it finally gives me an establishment worthy enough to knock Jim Belushi off his Douche Chill high horse.

I want a hip replacement when I grow up

I’ve been working quite a lot lately, though it hasn’t felt like it (outside of my infrequent updates). One of the reasons time is passing so well is that we’ve been fairly busy with the back-to-school crowd, and I drink as often as I can outside of work. I honestly don’t want to think about what I should be doing instead, what my money should be going to and whom I should be dating/marrying by now, so my time is spent trying to make a paycheck each week without worrying about the next.

But when you have a customer as opinionated and talkative as I had last week, it’s pretty tough to stay short-sighted. I’ll call him Mr. Navy, if only for the ability to spout liberally without unintentionally degrading a man I barely know.

I’m calling him Mr. Navy, though, because that was one recurring theme of our 45-minute talk—he couldn’t understand how I didn’t want to join the Navy. He’s a 78-year-old retired Navy veteran, who traveled all over the world during his time in the service (including three major wars), taught metal-working at the college level and is now working on one to four inventions (most of which involve tires and their amazing ability to be recycled into exciting new products).

He has a hard time getting around, as he’s had a hip replaced and knee surgery very recently, but sitting in a 60-foot furniture clearance tent on a perfect August day didn’t test his leg’s strength. His patience, however, seemed to wane every time I offered a reason for not entering the Navy:

“I’d be in there so damn fast it’d make your head spin. You have no idea. You’re shooting yourself in the foot by not going in. Hell, as tall as you are, you could have your own ship. You’d go in an officer. It’s stupid not to go in. Just plain stupid.”

I try to stay as friendly and personable as I can at work, especially with customers. I don’t, however, automatically switch into a baby-kissing-sofa-selling lifeless degenerate. I still talk sarcastically when I’m with customers, make jokes only I “get” and assert myself enough to go face-to-face with would-be hagglers. So when I was asked what my goals in life were, if not the Navy, I assumed my role as a side-tracked individualist—I told him an abbreviated version of the past year, what I hope the next year will look like and why I’m sitting in a tent with him on that beautiful August morning instead of shooting at the God-less enemies.

But as these things go, every goal I modestly presented invited an opposing inquiry. Why aren’t I working for a newspaper if I like to write? If I want to go to graduate school and teach in college, why aren’t I there right now? Did I know that the Navy has a school for just about everything, and a career that’ll pay a whole $40000 by the time I’m 44?

“The Navy taught me everything I know. If I could walk right, I’d be back so fast. Your head’d spin.”

At the time we were talking, I wasn’t taking what he was saying too seriously. Honestly, I was just having fun talking to him while passing the otherwise-draining tent shift. The self-doubt would come later. After the conversation turned from mildly depressing to utterly befuddling and borderline ridiculous:

The topics of his interest flowed rather quickly, so as my interest in writing came up, his need for a writer did as well. Patent writing. Exciting stuff, so I’ll spare you the details.

From his inventions he somehow led us to the current economy and gas prices. When I say gas prices, I don’t mean he presented an argument for or against the current standard. He literally ignored the cost of gas after mentioning it, but then he expressed his disgust over the nation’s car tastes.

“I remember back in the 1970s the muscle cars were the huge thing. Then it was smaller cars. Then SUVs. And now these damn hybrids. They’ve got all these Mazdas running around, I can’t understand it…”

And I nodded along at these thoughts, because they were true—he didn’t like the fact that car companies made so much money off of selling these popular styles. Supply and demand, I reminded him. And if he would have said something typical like, “Ah well, I’d better get back to looking for a recliner,” our conversation would have ended in a relatively sane manner. But sane is hardly ever interesting, and the conversation had a distinct turn in the direction of interesting—though dramatically less-sympathetic it is:

“…and now they’re recalling all these Mazdas back. Two million of em. Those bastards. Ain’t worth nothing. The Mazdas run around all over there, reproduce, come over here, and reproduce some more. You know what they do over there, don’t you? I had a friend that lived over there for awhile…”

Where?, I ask, not knowing where “dem Mazdas” come from.

“In China. There was a Mazda lady that had fourteen children. And one day, the police found out about it, and they shot her in the street. Shot her dead. We’ve got that here too, you know…for drug dealers. We should just drag them out on the street and shoot them dead.”

More on the amazing insights of Mr. Navy—and his unsolicited freelance police work, the state of the world, and what recliner is the best damn recliner Sofa Mart carries, as well as my resulting questioning of life—later.

24 August 2006

Something irrelevant

This is a little different from my usual fare, but for some reason I got to thinking yesterday about Tommy Frazier and his amazing game in the college football national championship a decade ago.

YouTube, being the amazing (if not back-stabbing and manipulative) resource it is, takes fifteen seconds to send me back to my amazed twelve-year-old self. Watch, if only for the amazing tackling.

18 August 2006

Random facts about me [that wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate in a personal ad]:

I am good at sharing.

On some nights, when supplies allow, I eat four marshmallows. Why four? Because the serving size index tells me those four blobs of heaven contain only ninety calories. And I enjoy the irony (though growing less so) in my own “you are what you eat” argument.

I’m legally blind. On a related note, I’m very good at guessing (especially while driving and initiating awkwardly long eye contact).

I make things up. Lots and lots.

I once won the Nobel Prize but declined the honor—to keep my “indie” rep.

I dislike walks on the beach, but only because at the thought of it, my mind goes straight to “Saving Private Ryan” while I limply fall into a catatonic, Cameron Frye-ish state.

I can frame complex portraits at an arm’s length.

I do not [knowingly] have herpes.

I am against the inhuman slaughter of baby carrots. (zing!)

About half of the time I dislike most people. The other half of the time I only dislike you.


You know what’s weird? I was reading an article in the New York Times about an unbelievably complicated math thinger-dingy while I do my usual casual-alcoholic drinking thing, and I was doing just fine with it all, but then I realized that there are things that are completely out of my control and that I should watch out for. Like life. Because it’s a fast ride and all you can hope to do is hop on before you get maimed by the bear of injustice or impotized by the sting of VD.

It’s tough being a grown-up now. Because, technically, I guess I am. I heard a lot about the non-MTV-herpes-party “real world” the last few months of college, and now I’m a grown up in that real world. And I’ve nearly accepted that, except for the fact that I haven’t exactly accepted that, because to accept that would mean that I wasn’t depressed about school starting up again without me, and that my weekday drinking wasn’t more frequent in the last two months than the college-fun-fest of four years before that, and my day-to-day job not being so much more fucking easy than the “easy life” of college.

I work twelve hour days, but they mostly consist of a few people sitting around talking, then when a promising stranger comes in one of us tries to fuck them (sell, I mean—it’s a college metaphor thing), then if we do we’re happy for awhile until another customer comes in to blue ball us, then we sit around more and I nearly fall asleep while somebody else tries to take a picture of me falling asleep, then we talk about food (and on some days how we should totally order a pizza) and then we try to fuck—sell—more strangers, then we leave with me not getting fucked at all, and then I drink alone in my basement and wonder what it takes to get some motherfucking nachos—and a little selling action.

But I find myself wanting some kind of stimulation or gratification—I’m off the low-brow dick jokes now, as I mean it in the strictly intellectual sense. I’ve got these books I want to read, but I’ve had little motivation to read them. Same with every half-developed fiction idea. And every editorial I think deserves my opinionation. And even a series of light-fare literary theory—for instance, expanding my ideas of Marxist principles in the US version of “The Office,” or revealing the anti-humanist threads of thought in popular culture. I’ve got ideas, with plenty of time, but I need someone to give me money to get my ass in motion, because that seems to be my lone passion lately. Woohoo, integrity.

So donate like a thousand dollars to me and I’ll write all your college papers for you while I work myself back into formal writing shape. Or donate a couple hundred and I’ll start running to get into marathon shape. Or donate $7 and I’ll do dirty things on a web cam. As you can see, I’m a fairly cheap date, depending on your specific taste.

16 August 2006

When our powers combine...

I can't see how it's possible for this movie to be as horrible as most expect, or as hillariously awesome as the name might suggest. I'm guessing for somewhere in the middle. Lots of motherfuckin snakes. Lots of Samuel Motherfucking Jackson. Maybe not, as I originally predicted, a motherfucking Oscar.

Luckily, as this clip kind of hints at, the makers of the movie realized they couldn't make it into a serious action movie. Instead, they took the common-sense advice of millions of internet-types and made it more ridiculous. They actually went back into production to film more of Samuel motherfucking Jackson being Samuel snake-snuffing-motherfucking Jackson. Good stuff.

I’m predicting it’ll make around $40 million this weekend, the studio will make a sequel within a year, and people will finally get over the concept (unless the sequel’s title is “Polar Bears on a Bus”).

I contend all options were not considered closely enough

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in awhile. And while I’d like to say that I was on my summer vacation, partying with friends, and rebelling against the machine overlords, I simply didn’t have much motivation to share. I was still contemplating things (for instance, are garlic parmesan chips not the greatest fucking chips in the world?) so you needn’t worry about my health.

And while this is pushing a fortnight old, I somehow caught the winner of “The Office” promo contest two Thursdays ago while drinking heavily at a local public gathering spot. It wasn’t too bad. Same basic concept as mine—someone starts an office prank, another retaliates, blood is shed, etcetera. Laughing ensues. There were no words, however, and I like some words when combined well with others, and I’ve decided that my belated scene should be awarded an honorary statue.

While the judges (and NBC) might see it differently, I don’t mind that I didn’t spend more than ten minutes writing, preparing and posting the script. And that it isn’t “technically” a twenty second clip ready for air. Semantics, semantics…

Breaking news: I'm not dead.

Have I ever mentioned before how non-threatening and polite I find the British asides on ABC’s overnight World News Now? There’s usually one of three ole’ chaps that update the New York-based news show on what the Old Country is talking about in the current day. They even have a bus counter in the bottom corner to count how many double-decker buses pass on the green-screened city street behind them—actually, the day I figured out it was a green screen (and not a window studio with an amazing view) I became about four times as disillusioned and misanthropic.

Yay, cultural differences.

09 August 2006

America's Got Crabs

I call bullshit.

I’ve said in previous posts that I wanted either Chris Porter or Josh Blue to win NBC’s Last Comic Standing. And, since Josh won it tonight, I should be happy with the results. But I’m not. Not at all.

The final twelve weren’t the funniest twelve in the competition; I’ve said that before. But in the first two rounds, Josh and Chris were deserving.

Now, after seeing Josh over so many shows, I’m quite sure he was not the strongest comic in the field. Not even top two (but top twelve, definitely). I didn’t think Ty Barnett was funny until one of his jokes in Tuesday night’s final show setup. Now I think he’s generally not too funny, but he gets lucky once in awhile.

Here’s what I think changed my opinion of Josh by the end of the series: he wore me down. I laughed uncontrollably at his audition set, as well as his longer set to qualify him for the final twelve. He was different, quirky and self-deprecating enough to cut past any pity votes from sentimentalists.

But he didn’t have an unlimited pool of material to choose from, and he couldn’t change the tone of his act halfway through from one completely focuses on his Cerebral Palsy to one that was detached from him. He makes fun of himself, and it makes people laugh. I like him, but he had to recycle material the last few weeks to fill in the gaps. He was, by far, the happiest to get on stage to perform; it was visible in every performance. But as far as his composure, waning material and preparation, I didn’t think he deserved to win the show. He’s similar to Bobcat Goldthwaith—catchy at first, but maybe not so much for the long-term way.

Obviously, I’m a little bitter about Chris Porter not winning. I never saw him repeat a joke, he was confident with every joke he told and he was never dull. But by tomorrow morning, I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s actually a better thing he didn’t win, because I never hear from the previous Last Comic Standing winners anymore. I never hear from the losers either, but I’m holding out hope that Chris Porter could be an exception to the rule.

And it shouldn’t be surprising that, when left to the American Idol voting public, the best candidate failed to win. It made for an appropriate lead-in to America’s Got Talent, which I actually watched with half my attention. Half my attention was enough to realize what I’d be missing this whole time, and it made the whole show that much better:

The title is supposed to be ironic.

I hear the producers of the show wanted to call it America’s Craziest Fuckers, but there was a trademark issue or something. The “talent” consisted of a finger-snapper, plenty of creepy Hoff innuendo ("In your end-o), judged proving they’re only there because they’re famous, and contestants proving that television can never quite bottom out (come close though it does).

The most amazing part of the show was when a magician performed, and I immediately thought of Gob (off of Arrested Development). He didn’t have the amazing background music that makes any shitty magic act respectable, so I was a bit put off. But he did mess up (saying something like “snowing…in Las Vegas! Um, Los Angeles…”). So he should win.

The Wednesday night crapshoot of television reality television is hopefully wrapping up with summer’s dwindling life. I can’t say I’m upset about it. Exuberant would be fitting, actually.

07 August 2006

Grammatication in action--more exciting than you think

In the absense of anything that would be considered relevant content, I would just like to point out that "mumblers" aren't heard clearly enough (especially in situations of self-promotion), "lispers" feel taunted with their collective lable, and "stutterers" are still trying to tell you their more-difficult-to-say-than-it-is-to-think affliction.

That is all.

02 August 2006

Where's Harvard Square?

Tapes N' Tapes is one of my favorite bands I've come upon the past few months, and it sounds as if Culture Bully Chris DeLine is finally coming around to liking his fellow Minneapoleans.

This is a great edition of "Insistor," even though it's close to an identical record copy. There's no huge live-show-bonuses with this single, but it's nice to know the power and energy transfer.

Office promo clip contest-shmontest

There was a contest during July to “Make your own ‘Office’ promo clip.” While I wanted to do it, I never got a solid idea to rally behind. Also, limited resources wouldn’t have allowed much—I’ve no video camcorder, nor much in the way of video editing software.

Lucky for me, I don’t need those things to fantasize how amazing this clip would be. I’ve written the script, complete with show tie-ins and one “inside” joke (the ‘punch’ thing, for all you non-obsessives). But as far as I can tell, it’d be almost perfect time-wise (20 seconds) and, as long as I’m already self-promoting (see: last line), it’s fucking brilliant. Let me know what you think (and when you want to donate your digital camcorder/$550 for future projects).

[DAL=Dwight look-a-like, or Dwight-a-like; JAL=Jim-a-like)

DAL- Guess what they served at the wedding?

JAL- Alcohol.

DAL- No…PUNCH! [punches him in the shoulder]

JAL- What are you doing? [motions with head slightly]

DAL- I’m being Dwight!

JAL- Don’t do that.

DAL- Why can’t I be your Dwight?

JAL- [turns to look him in the eye] I like you too much. You’ll never be my Dwight.

[Dwight-a-like obviously disappointed. As Dwight-a-like turns to walk away, he trips over a paper box Jim-a-like directed a Pam-a-like to innocuously slide behind him after the punch.]

DAL- [on his back] Oh, Jim! You got me again!

[camera moves up to only show Jim-a-like from waist up, as he tosses the coffee out of his mug, onto Dwight-a-like]

JAL- [casually] It’s Joe.

[Dwight-a-like’s yelp cut off quickly by “The Office” promo logo]