30 July 2006

Question about Partisanship: Consertative

Tonight, I decided to try to invoke a dialogue with a random blog writer and book author, from donkeycons.blogspot.com, a Republican-leaning blog. This is my email to him, in its entirety.

Dear Mr McCain--

I've happened upon your blog--donkeycons.blogspot.com--on a number of occassions, curious about the political focus and interested in helping myself see a new perspective. Most other blogs I visit are self-promoting Democrats with liberal agendas falling out their asses. So it's refreshing to happen upon your brand of partisanship, with an equal amount of agenda messing up the floor.

I apologize if I come across as vulgar or accusatory, but I've decided to write you an email in the hopes that you can help me understand your specific brand of partisanship.

At the moment, I understand the basics of how politics work. I know there's two main parties, plus that whole "undecided" group nobody seems to care much about. I know about votes, and majority parties, and minority parties, and lobbyists, and propagandists. I understand when I watch CNN or MSNBC, I'm subconsciously being trained by the fascists to kill America, and alternatively while watching FoxNews, I'm pleasing the one true God. These are the basics; I do understand.

What I'm having trouble with, however, is a blog like yours that devotes most (if not all--I apologize for not having read your entire archive collection) of its time to charging the opposing party with corruption, scandal and incompetence. It's not as if you're contributing anything new, but instead you simply refute.

Wouldn't it be easier to relinquish all party affiliation to begin with, and expose corruption, scandal and incompetence? The people who choose to associate themselves with the Democratic party do extremely stupid things quite often; using logic similar to "you're calling me a liar? Well then YOU must be the liar" doesn't prove your point, and it definitely doesn't make a stronger argument than the one you disagree with (as seen, specifically, in the "Joe-Mentum or No-Mentum?" post, July 2006).

So what I'm really wondering is this: are you truly as Republican as you appear on this blog? And if not, why would you undertake a project aimed at a specific party in a generally flawed system?

When I say flawed system, I mean our entire American political landscape; I know I'm more alone than not in my specific beliefs, but I believe the backlash after every election--"the majority of Americans don't care about politics" or "the public is too apathetic to be trusted in policy decisions"--is off base. Apathy can either come from a general apathy towards politics as a whole, or it could come from the lack of choice between the wealthy, middle-aged white guy and the wealthy, middle-aged white guy. The months before elections, with caucuses and primaries, are supposed to help narrow the field, but I don't feel quite right about a system that decides its leader the same way the NBA decides its yearly champion. And I've seen enough basketball to know that it's not always the best team that wins the championship; oddly enough, they always have plenty of money.

I fear I may be getting long-winded and digressive, though, so I'll wrap this inquiry up. I'm not out to attack you personally, but I think it's ridiculous (and hillarious) how many people perpetuate the problems they think they're helping to solve. I'd love to hear back from you; feel free to emal me at thiejos@gmail.com. Also, in case you misplace this email accidentally into the magical trash bin, it'll be posted--in its entirety--on assumedtruth.blogspot.com.

Thanks for your time,
Joe Thiele

"But the cherry trees are still in blossom."

I used to feel sorry for Jens Lekman. Not feel sorry for him in the pity way, but in the sympathetic “I know what you mean” way. His songs are about social awkwardness, miscommunication and general bad luck with women. But, as this paragraph started and undeniably has to end somewhere that hints at relevancy, I used to feel sorry for Jens Lekman.

Now: not so much.

Jens has been touring with an all-female backup band, and with the exception of the bass player—whom a friend described as “a little frumpy”—they’re gorgeous. And they play instruments. And they sing “bum-pa-bum-pa-bum-pa-bum-pa-bum” in that one song. And they’re, I (as I can only) assume, friends with Jens. Frida Hyvonen, the opening act, is also something special.

So perhaps Jens’ two previous LP’s, with their witty phrases and previously mentioned awkwardness, have exorcised his demons. To be on the safe side, I’ve started writing songs with the same purpose in mind. More realistically, though, I’m betting Jens has figured out that he’s a great writer, and with the realization the ladies have been drawn to him.

In any case, my experience at the Jens Lekman concert (at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines) was an amazing one. Though the opening act didn’t impress me—she didn’t seem very original or exciting—the second act (Frida) did. I’m a Regina Spektor fan, so I dug the similarities (for example: they both are women and play the piano).

Then, as if there were any question, Jens did indeed burn the building down. The crowd was depressingly small, but the bar had Blue Moon on tap. And, if you’ve never heard before, when Blue Moons rise all your problems set. There was still a decent energy in the surprisingly nice club, so I partook with great exuberance.

He played “Black Cab,” along with others I knew and a few I didn’t, and seemed to finish rather quickly. He had actually played for an hour, but my dreams of myself and the trombone player’s future together in a London apartment had made it seem shorter. The encore thankfully came, as well as the six band ladies. Literally, they came up to the second level as Jens prepared for his last two songs. I was one of maybe eight people up there, so the six were just relaxing behind us with Jens on the stage in front (and below) us. The relevance of their presence came with the finale—“Julie,” as the saxophonist called back to Jens for the last half of the song. The other horns came in too and created a memorable last song.

I knew there was no way Jens would put on a bad concert; besides him not playing “Maple Leaves” (which I can bet he’s played thousands of times by now) it was more than I was expecting. Almost. If he’d stopped by the English-themed Royal Mile next door afterwards, I probably would have become a professional roadie out of pure joy.

28 July 2006

"The description sounds intriguing."

Honestly, I didn't know movies like "American Movie" existed. It's from the late-nineties (filmed early-to mid 90s), and I had never heard of it till Netflix (see: man's greatest triumph) suggested I rent it. What I got was a 90+ minute documentary about the making of an amatuer horror movie.

It's good. Like "how the fuck can it be this good" good (for the most part).

The main focus is on Mark Borchardt as he starts a feature-length film, suspends it due to lack of funds, talks his surprisingly rich uncle into a loan, decides to finish another short film, and generally rocks out, depressingly-Wisconsonian style.

The clips they showed of the final version actually looked interesting, in the same vein as any non-Hollywood horror flick has that rough and creepy feel to it. It's tough to imagine the final product being all that great, considering all the cut corners along the way, the muddled vision, corny dialogue, and drunken Packers Superbowl celebrations. But the movie about the maybe-interesting home movie is great. Beyond the sometimes-seemingly scripted rants by Borchardt, his ex-druggy friend and checked-out uncle are unbelievably likeable.

It's up there on my documentary list, right next to "Dig!" Which is saying something, because "Dig!" might just be the greatest documentary ever. This comes close.

Rent it.

23 July 2006

Producing original work is easier when someone else produces the work for you.

Third post within a few hours, to hopefully make up for my neglect.

I started reading John Hodgeman's "The Areas of my Expertise" today, and I've enjoyed the randomness so far. If you don't recognize that name, he's the guy in the Apple commercial who says "I'm a PC." He's also on the Daily show occasionally, similar to the clip above.

John's got a terrifically subversive way about him that is masked by the nerdy facade. He can be sarcastic about most anything while still reciting the lines as if he were reading a factual owner's manual.

In this clip, he's explaining the Net Neutrality Act--handled by general computer illiterates who's responsibility it is to determine the Internet's future climate.

I have a basic understanding of how computers work--they don't generally swim, jump, or wrestle well, though word processing, gaming, and pornography are easy tasks. I don't, however, consider myself an expert in any way. It's scary, then, to see people less at-ease with these miracle boxes than I am determining such a large part of the experience.

The perfect political machine at it again.

Proofreading is time-consuming.

How about I tell you my thoughts on the stem-cell research bill, as I understand it from a 20-second news snipet (not the previous Daily Show clip, but an actual news summary), and how they relate to my latest readings from Nietchsze's Antichrist, as I understand it from the first ten pages.

[It's like CliffNotes, only Cliff doesn't give a shit about what happens to Humbert Humbert after he gets his honey (for example).]

So the bill is to encourage stem-cell research, I think, and stem-cell reseach could cure diseases (like, all of them), maybe, and in the process some unconscious fetuses will die, undoubtedly. One side could say that the fetuses (feti? it's shorter...) have no souls or meaningful life at that early in the development process, so sacrificing a few unborns to possibly save millions of lives is working towards the greater good--something that the American political system is fundamentally based on. The other side could say that the feti do indeed have souls, because they are the sum of two abstract parts fused together to form a growing organism, sprinkled with God-dust and sent on a fast-track towards birth, and ending their lives--even to save everybody else's lives--is not worth it. Because God would be pissed, and forgiving works best when we do nothing “wrong” in the first place.

And a simplist would say that the members first side are the Democrats, and the second are the Republicans. Or the first are the atheists to the second’s Chosen Peoples. Or terrorists to fanatics. Or Italian sausages to pork sausages. Or this is all part of the Matrix/Fight Club and they're part of the same person. Fuck the simplists, especially Occam. Well, maybe not.

I've been reading Neitzsche's Antichrist, his critique of Christianity (I got that from the cover). The complete thoughts on the book come in a later post; his early thoughts (see: my thoughts inspired by his thoughts) on morals, however, apply specifically to this stem-cell bill--Georgy Dubya vetoing it because it offends his thoughts on morals.

Morals are an invention of man, and since the traditional moral-creators (priests, in Christianity's sake) have an interest in self preservation (people give more offering when they think priests have something better to do with it), morality based on a deity as interpreted by priests shouldn't be taken for much. Georgy Dubya is a strong Christian; good for him. America isn't a Christian nation. Read that one old thingy political people are always referring to in passing (before shitting on--and wiping thoroughly with--it), and you'll be stretching to find "Jesus' Electoral College Solution" in any explicit capacity.

The flexibility and ambiguous-nature of Bush’s (and a fair portion of agreeing Americans’) moral system suggest to me a wavering logical stream too self-contained to self-reflect. I’ve read op-ed pieces I agree with that point out Bush’s insistence on sacrificing life in the equally ambiguous “War or Terror” while raising Cain (oooo! Bible reference!) over American stem-cell research. But I guess it isn’t too flabbergasting, if you think like I do: by the time these little bastard feti grow up to be Republican-voting Americans, Pierce Bush will surely be running for office. So Georgy Dubya is just assuring that “dem damn hippies” don’t ruin his nephew’s turn in the White House.

But Bush is fighting science based on his own beliefs. I think every person should be allowed to make decisions influenced by their private knowledge and beliefs—to be technical, that’s basically the definition of making decisions, after all. But Bush’s system of “Church” in the Church and State debate is close to the middle already; imagine if a Satanist were elected president (hypothetically speaking, in a non-judgmental America): would his/her religious-inspired decisions be as avidly defended as Bush’s right to argue as a Christian?

Saying that you’re influenced by a moral system is like saying Santa makes all your decisions for you—people can understand where you’re coming from (and maybe even agree with you), but that recognition doesn’t make your beliefs any more true. Murder is considered unequivocally wrong in American society, especially when it seems to be malicious or planned. From a pro-war point of view, however, killing an enemy isn’t murder (it’s legal to end a life if a government tells you to do it, I suppose). From a pro-choice point of view, there are situations in which it is okay to end the life of an unborn infant if the mother consents. From a survivalist point of view, there is no consideration outside of yourself, so killing anyone for the sake of surviving another day is part of the circle of life (like in “The Lion King”).

It’s tough to argue against people believing in some sort of religion, because civilizations are supported and defined by the things they buy into. But if our leaders start foregoing their duties in favor of following archaic teachings, let’s at least make sure they’re supporting someone memorable and fun—Dionysus, I suggest.
Jon Stewart taking words out of my mouth

I miss the Daily Show even more with topics floating about that I seem to care about (on some days).

15 July 2006

The rhyming means it's destined to be...

Work is time-consuming. It’s always like “come in everyday” and “you don’t get paid for staying home to write your blog, you lazy fucker” and “stop sexually harassing me.” So, after a week of trying to memorize the difference between the Franklin Thunderbird leather sofa and the Dolce “best furniture you’ll ever own” Castle set, I wasn’t able to appoint a Douche Chill for the past week.

To make up for my choice of sleep over doucheyness, I’m prepared to throw out the first super douche—Jimmy Belushi. Belush the Douche. It’s like he was born for the honor (because, as far as I can tell, he’s not good at much else).

Why does the actor currently known as “Jim”—with a show that, according to my sources, is completely “According to” him—deserve such a striven-for accolade? For starters, he’s from the same family that produced John Belushi—usually remembered, y’know, for being funny—without ever being funny himself. Secondly, look at him—he’s just a giant fucking douche.

I’ve recently found out that “AtJ” is replacing “Friends” (a show I can stand seeing repeatedly without gouging my eyes out) on antenna channel 9 (KCRG) in the coveted after-news/before-prime-time/6:30-daily spot here in Eastern Iowa. Fucking Belushi…

There’s a reason “AtJ” is still on the air, headed for syndication, and “Arrested Development” was forced off Fox, causing the series to wrap up and creatively end [perfectly]—God does not exist. For a character such as Belushi, with a history of rebel-rousing, to have such good luck while producing shitty slop-slop, and Hollywood’s choir boy (Jason Bateman, star of “Arrested Development”) to be forced into a life of helping others and selflessly taking a backseat in decent comedy movies, there’s no other explanation—God is as real as the relationship I’ve been hoping will take off…one of these days, I swear it will, but logic begs to differ.

It’s not that I want Jimmy Douche to die; I’m no sadist. There’s plenty of less-fatal ways for the comedy world to lose such an uninfluential figure—for example, never-ending nickel chicken wings at his local strip club. Belush Douche…
Maybe the best moment of my life.

With the popularity of "Brokeback Mountain" last year, movie trailer remixing became a popular past time (especially with the emergence of youtube.com). Some are simply horrible, while a select few sound better than the original movie.

So when I saw this video (on chrisdiclerico.com...go there), I couldn't believe how perfect it was.

I've written columns on the "Ten Commandments," shitty stock music, hyping up weak movie plots, and Samuel motherfucking Jackson.

Maybe I'll post the closest one I wrote to predicting this madness. It is madness, by the way (but I'd still pay 10 bucks to see it).

12 July 2006

It's like they knew me and put it in a show

When I was in high school, I got an extremely idealized sense of how college was going to go. "Old School" taught me that frats were cool. My school didn't technically have "frats," per se, but descriptions of the typical frat guy (from friends at bigger schools) have never been completely positive--a "toolbox," perhaps (and BVU had plenty of those). So the expectation of streaking parties and house parties and music parties were never quite fulfilled.

But I also remember watching "Undeclared"--the Fox show that didn't even last a season on-air, but was released anyway on DVD a few months ago. I'm finally able to review the golden episodes (thanks to the magical Netflix) repeatedly while commenting on how "they sure got it right."

It's directed (and written, maybe...fact checking, again: lame!) by Judd Apatow, the same guy responsible for "Freaks and Geeks" and "The 40-year-old virgin." It's got a bunch of familiar faces of people who are much more famous now, six years later, than they were, six years ago, filming a small-budget Fox comedy.

I'm only through the first disc, but I can safely say that my high school mind (for once) got this one right--check it.
Wow. Just...wow.

If you watch this short clip and think, "yeah, so the Pirates made a shitload of money, woohoo" and that's all you think, you're obviously not a fan of HBO's Entourage.

To let you in on the joke (and complete fucking ridiculousness of this clip), the main character in that show is a rising Hollywood actor, who's breaking into the big time this season with his new [FICTIONAL] movie, Aquaman. The movie broke Spiderman's old record, thereby making it--at least within that show's reality [and Joe Kernan's assumed reality]--the biggest box office opening in Hollywood history.

But fact checking is overrated anyway; it simply wastes time and energy--the writer of that "news" segment would have had to differentiate between a paid-cable show and everyday reality to have caught the mistake. Good call.

11 July 2006

Al Gore stole my title (then changed it, so I wouldn't notice)...

I was finally able to see the subtle, understated and modestly advertised “An Incovenient Truth” this weekend. I wrote on its theatrical trailer a few months back in one of my “Assumed Truth” print columns, so I was curious to see how the “scariest movie you’ll ever see” played out. I’ve since let my feelings of animosity towards Mr. Gore subside; in their place, I’ve substituted my always-illuminating personal reactions:

I knew I didn’t like Gore going in. His attempts at lightening his anti-chiropractic image seem forced, while his campaigns for attention seem to stem from one bitter defeat: I didn’t vote for him in 2000. Technically, I didn’t vote for anyone in 2000, but I got the feeling that every vote he hears about not getting is like a kick in the ribs. I was sixteen at the time, but I wouldn’t have voted for him anyway (I was a Republican by apathetic default, basically). But, now more than ever, I do enjoy kicking Al Gore in the ribs.

Take Gore out of “Inconvenient Truth” and you’ve got enough scientific data to start understanding the global warming “debate”. Much of it’s somewhat unnerving, if not exaggerated and abbreviated. I agree that if you put ten mice in a small, clear plastic bubble containing everything they need to survive, they’ll live much easier than if there’s six billion in that same area. The ten mice won’t have an effect on their contained ecosystem as much as the six billion will. Likewise, in people world, the population booming to six billion within a few generations will “fuck some shit up” in our relatively larger bubble. The movie outlines this, a few telling examples supporting the data (including doomsday predictions, what-if’s and other “scariest-shit-you’ll-ever-see-in-a-movie” moments), and…Al Gore’s personal struggles. The latter, I guess, should be taken with just as much seriousness (though I mistook these tangents for the comedic interlude portion of the program).

So Gore’s son almost died in a car accident. Cars produce pollution, and his son will live in the future. What’s the next logical term in this sequence? Pollution…future…____. Tricky, right? (Hint: it’s not “reach-around”).

Global warming.

Duh! It’s in a movie about global warming, so obviously Gore’s personal struggles creating a personal connection with the movie-goer is relevant! Same goes for his sister’s death due to lung cancer (linked to their childhood on a tobacco farm, where Gore loved to work with the [possibly] immigrant laborers and getting his hands dirty) and his constant battle with the political process, which has been, shockingly, mostly up-hill and challenging.

Todd Solondz is one of my new favorite directors (based almost solely on the movie “Happiness”). He locked up the honor by being FuckRocks (awesome), generally, through quotes such as this:

“I can't take it, just how all the liberals, we all go in to see the movie and in a sense it turns us all into martyrs for the good fight. But it's clearly not an examination of the ethical nature and so forth, it's just a given that this is the good fight and we are martyrs for this cause.”

This quote was in reference to “Vera Drake,” a movie about an illegal abortionist (I think) with a strong liberal message, but I think it’s especially relevant to this Democratic-leaning documentary. The issue, as Gore says, isn’t political, but it is, as Gore also says, political. Both parties will ignore certain “facts” and data for votes, money or a combination of the two (or blowjobs). Conservatives, to be as general as possible, see the issue as a liberal one. There’s even a term implying political affiliation based on one’s stance on environment—“tree hugger” (or “bush fucker”…great alternative on so many levels). Liberals believe they’re doing good, and the conservative right is opposing them. If Al Gore were president instead of George Bush, then SUV’s wouldn’t exist and environmental consciousness among the majority of America (including, technically, all those abstaining [and politically-unaffected] pieces-of-shit) would grow out of each newborn baby’s butt.

But Gore is no messiah. Thing’s wouldn’t be entirely different if he were president now—at least pertaining to the current topic (save the “we wouldn’t be at war” talking points for when you’re jumping off your non-action pity bridge). America would still pollute more than any country. Global warming would still be an imminent threat. Hurricane Katrina would still have happened. Other countries would still despise America’s overabundance and materialism. The sun would still rise.

I don’t mean to completely discount the establishment’s role in modern society. But I’ve believed for awhile now that the government doesn’t have as much control as the media makes it seem, partisanship be damned. Dwell on petty differences if you will, but general practice doesn’t change through bills and presidential addresses. It changes through technological advances, consumeristic offerings and generational rebellion. And acts of God—but that’s a given.

Hopefully this is a half-way readable introduction on my thoughts on the movie, the issue and partisanship. Given the money-hungry whore that I am (as you can see by the abundance of ads and sponsorship), direct anybody you know to this extremely unpopular blog. Email me if I piss you off. Email me if you agree with me. Fuck off if you’re just looking at the pictures (then email me with your picture). El oh el.

Much more to come on all the topics touched on, hopefully with less-bleary eyes and drunken-powered thoughts.

09 July 2006

"Beat the Heat"

So this isn't the next post I hinted at in my last post (that'll be the next post...maybe). But, as in most of the previous videos, it is The Daily Show (specifically, Steve Carell) doing what The Daily Show does (or did, in this case).

Guided by Friedrich

To give a bit of reference for my next post, I'm republishing one of my columns from a few months ago--obviously for the increased exposure (3 x 2 = 6!). It's best to get an idea of what my initial impressions of the trailer were, as well as my knee-jerk, reactionary impressions after seeing the movie this afternoon.

4/21/2006--previously published in the Buena Vista University Tack

I believe there are no absolute truths. Saying that there are no absolute truths is like saying “everything is false!” and then taking the next half an hour to fully cope with a newly-blown mind—“if everything is false, then saying everything is false is false, and so even the false is true and no true is not false!” It gets complicated.

In relation to the world, though, we have no bearing on what theories are more correct than any others—evolution with visible evidence or creationism with blind faith: who can choose with such ambiguous options? Yet there are those individuals today who believe in unchallengeable truths: American “patriots” who stand behind a war-time president; liberal corporate watchdogs believing we’re destined to destroy the earth—either through nuclear war, global warming or conservative ideology; moderates knowing that they’re the most right—that both polarized sides are definitely wrong, so victory by default.

It seems like each of these sides is trying to prove their relevance by yelling at the others; with this, the strategy taken on is critical to success. In the extremely limited and labeled world of politics, republicans (as a general rule) use fear to further their ideologies, democrats use yelling at the republicans for using fear to further their “petty” ideologies, and moderates laugh at the republicans and democrats before crying themselves to an apathetic sleep. But like I mentioned earlier, nothing is absolutely true or sacred—not even superficial party lines.

“An Inconvenient Truth” is a new movie about the threat of global warming starring everybody’s favorite liberal, Al Gore. In it, he shows that democrats have backbone too! They can inspire fear over complex issues with trailer quotes like “By far, the most terrifying film you will ever see” and “If you love your planet….if you love your children…you must see this film.” Perhaps this shows that, while universal truth may be nonexistent, the only truth that matters is the truth that we believe. So a Gore-bsolute truth would be that he really should be president right now (since he’s obviously on top of at least one issue).

With no absolute truths but many specific truths, it becomes really easy to change your opinions often. If your individual truth believes that absolute truths do exist, then you can invest yourself into someone else’s idea of truth—quite common in religious circles. If you agree with me and decide to believe in no truth, nihilism holds a limitless bounty of hopelessness. It is better, though, that you have some justification behind what you believe—because being called a “sheep” is only a good thing in the ever-ironic Christian sense. If you don’t want to make the effort, just align yourself with where you were born and believe everything you hear from people who look like you.

As for our common nation, the only absolute American truths are that America’s least favorite liberal, Michael Moore, is always wrong and Georgy “Porgy” Bush is never wrong (but not necessarily always right). And that terrorism is bad. And that we’re all going to die tomorrow. For real this time. And the words of Friedrich Nietzsche—“God is dead.” Finally some things we can all agree on.

I'll try harder if you stop making it non-fun to try at all...

For the three of you that read everyday--honestly, that's all there are--I'm sorry for not updating much this past week. I've started working for a living--boy is it hard! I sit on couches most of the day, because an important part of sellin' the [parent][something] sofas is knowin how the [parent][something] sofas sit. Strenuous...

Ask me about different kinds of leather, though, and I now know. I know the differences, how it's made, how many cows cried when their skins were ripped off for your comfy couch, and how offensive each is to (Eastern) Indians.

Not a leather person? Well then there's a beautiful Chenille fabric, or our microfiber EnduroSuede for anybody looking for durability!

Honestly, I know my couches now. And chairs, because Sofa Mart has those too. Not really the rugs, tables, lamps or accessories. Yet (so don't ask me about the $58 6" tall moose thingy).

This is the Castle sofa, by Dolce (I think). It's a top-grain leather, comes in three beautiful colors ([Western] Indian Brown, Indian Chocolate and Indian Espresso--don't ask why they're called that). I will own this, along with the matching loveseat and recliner, within a year. FuckRocks!

05 July 2006

"She's not dead"

From the original "The Office," a David Brent (Ricky Gervais) original.

I've been obsessed--in the completely good and healthy way, obviously--with the US version of "The Office" since it first aired and was almost cancelled.

I probably wouldn't have given the new show a chance, though, if I wouldn't have discovered the show for myself a few weeks before the American series began.

I know of a lot of people who think the original is unequivocably superior, and I even have a friend who refuses to watch the "blasphemous" Steve Carell version--his reasoning, I can only imagine, is it's impossible to improve upon perfection.

I do agree 100% with the original being perfect--aside from "Arrested Development," I've never seen a show more dense with "laughs." The American "Office," though, has taken on an entirely different shape than the original idea while keeping two or three of the basic plot lines (Pam and Jim, redundancy/downsizing, and the general vacuum of thought present in a mid-sized Regional retail paper supplier.

If this is all new to you, rent or buy the DVD sets as soon as possible. The UK series is twelve-30 minute episodes long (two seasons) plus a two hour Christmas special that makes the eight-hour endeavor completely worth it. The US version has the six episode first season on DVD already, with the second--the 22 episodes that make it different than and equal to the original--to come out sometime this summer.

This is one of my favorite topics to talk on, so you haven't heard the last on it (Because, honestly, one of my final major college papers was a discussion of Marxist literary theory in the US series).

02 July 2006

Be original: Make a ball joke

Exciting moment that intensely interests only me, but you can read on (just for the fun of it). With the little visitor counter on the right side of the page, I get visitor information from StatCounter.com. It shows the basic information for all visitors’ computers, so I get to see—generally—where the eight people per day are coming from.

So that’s not the exciting part—not by a long shot. This morning, I was browsing the visitors’ countries of origin, and one was from the UK. I’ve been to the UK (very briefly), so I was quite excited to see this piddle of a blog reaching to such a wonderfully drizzly place. More specifically, the visitor was from Birmingham. Guess what’s also from Birmingham? The soccer dots on my Fifa Soccer game.

I’ve dominated the world of soccer with this futbol club for ten dot-dancing seasons, so I hope that visitor makes their way back so we can discuss the upcoming season. They can let me know what’s been holding the real-life team back the past few years, and I can tell them the benefits of creating a player (“Joe Thiele”), filling up all of his attributes, and giving him a full beard (to emphasize an Eastern European heritage). Honestly, if the real Birmingham did that—plus spending thousands of pounds on an entirely new team of younger, better players—I’m sure they’ll have similar results. Fockin’ ‘ell. Futbol’s an easy game.

01 July 2006

“You know what special means…he’ll probably drool all over the house”

Rachael Ray is the host of some shows on Food Network, a new syndicated talk show in the Fall and a bunch of annoying-as-fuck commercials on my TV promoting the latter. Ray contends that she hears most people getting their own show say they’re going to do something new and exciting, but always fail to deliver. She’s unique, obviously, because of her free-spirited nature and care-free attitude (symbolically cliché descriptors, but you already knew that, I’m sure). I’ve listed below just a few of the ways I see her new show breaking the mold from all those shit-ass talking-talk shows of the past:

-The title of the show, simply “Rachael Ray,” breaks from talk shows with shitty names. It’s not heavy-handed; it’s not repetitious. “Rachael Ray” sounds like it’s something more likely to kick your teeth in, but buy you a beer afterwards, than a talk-you-to-death show. So for all those other posers with unoriginal and caged-spirited names, like The Tony Danza Show, Maury, Jenny Jones, Montel, Jerry Springer, Late Night with Conan O’Brian, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The Arsenio Hall Show, Da Ali G Show, The Charlie Rose Show, The David Letterman Show, Dennis Miller Live, Dr. Phil, Oprah, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Geraldo, The Howard Stern Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Larry King Live, Last Call with Carson Daly, Live with Regis and Kelly, Sally, and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, "Rachael Ray" means "fuck off" in talk-show speak.

You’re daring, Rachael, and nobody can take that away from you.

-Usually (or in the best cases, at least) the host of a new show has some sort of talent, knowledge, undeniable charisma, or sexual relationship with a producer, that justifies their position of power—if only a little bit. So, in this case, that would be the fact that she has none of the above—because she’s such a free-spirit and original, of course! She doesn’t NEED to rely on half-baked justifications or “merits” to be on television.

Some would say she’s there because of her ability to prepare food in a professional way—she’s a Food Network star, after all. But Rachael herself doesn’t want to wear the fuckin’ “chef” hat. She’s a “cook,” damn it. Maybe her talent is to find ways to eat in any given city for under $40 a day. I contend that any college student, frugal-minded soul, or starving transient could manage it on half that—Burger King, McDonalds and White Castle. Done, done and done. $17, please. So, really, Rachael Ray is wasting $23 that could go to starving people. Per day. Give her a show!

-I can only guess “awesome” will become more prevalent with the soccer moms sure to fall all over themselves at Ray’s free-spirited-ness, and her rejection of grammar and common sense. So teenagers will have to find a new word to describe something that causes pleasure—I suggest “FuckRocks!”

Also, just as a note, Ray is married to the lead singer from the band “The Cringe.” Never heard of them? You’re missing out on the ironic twist of their attempt at irony! Actually, I have no idea. I kind of hope (and assume) they suck because of, y’know, the whole Rachael Ray influence.

Anyway, congratulations Ms. Ray. Douche Chill…
Broken Social Scene on Letterman

I'm jacking this from Culture Bully Chris DeLine because I enjoy it that much (go to his site...link on the right). In the words of Mario (of "Mario and Luigi," obviously with a heavy Italian accent), "I steal because I love!"

A billion points if you can find a time Mario actually said that...