Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 idiocy

Yeah, I couldn't do a real "best/worst of" thing even if I wanted to, given how little exposure I ever have to new stuff. Whuddever! I'll just list some random crap in no particular order.

Best album: Nick Cave&the Bad Seeds, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. Seriously. You don't think there's any way in hell a new Cave album is not going to suck? I didn't either. But believe it, dude. This is not just good; it's the best album he's ever made. Believe it.

Runner-up: Tom Waits, Real Gone. Fuck Q for giving it two stars. It requires stamina, but it is thrilling. Fearless prediction: the next Waits album will consist entirely of howling and pounding sheet metal with rocks. And it will be brilliant.

Worst album: Leonard Cohen, Dear Heather. Of course, worse albums than this undoubtedly came out this year. But, dude, it's Leonard: give me back my broken night, my mirrored room, my secret life, it's lonely here; there's no one left to torture. Give me absolute control over every living soul then lie beside me baby--that's an order! That Leonard. And this is just pathetic. BARF.

Runner-up: Johnny Dowd, Cemetary Shoes. Same disclaimer. Come back to us, Johnny!

Best film: Actually, I'm not at all sure that I actually saw any films released in 2004. No kidding. Oh yeah, Team America. Well, that was fun, although that was probably influenced to a great extent by the people I saw it with. And frankly, the fact that the majority of us American assholes chose to endorse it as a real-world foreign policy makes it seem a lot less amusing in retrospect. So I'm not going to give it the nod. Even though I'm pretty sure it has no actual competition. Instead, movies that must've come out pretty recently that I saw in 2004: The Corporation, which is the most damning indictment of corporate culture you will ever see. It occasionally makes you want to kill yourself, but it's never less than riveting. When the hell is it coming out on DVD?

Runner-up is City of God. Man, I've gotta rewatch this before too long. It's huge and sprawling and epic and cringe-inducingly violent and just fucking fantastic. Yeah!

For worst movie, (note that I haven't actually seen any of these other than the Jesus one) it's gotta be Garfield. But, uh, the previews were plenty. Honorary mentions to The Cat in the Hat, which is shit-encrusted enough to be worth mentioning two years in a row. Also Troy, for its obvious contempt for the source material. And King Arthur for cloaking its idiocy behind a shield of bullshit "historical accuracy." And fucking Eurotrip. And, of course, The Jesus Movie. Ultraviolence was never so boring! Good work desensitizing us all to the death of your god, Mel!

Best book: Yeah, that's a good one. As if I read any books written in the last twenty years. But the best book I read was Mishima's Decay of the Angel. You've really gotta read the entire four-volume Sea of Fertility. Art doesn't get much greater.

runner-up: the ever-popular It's late and I'm tired. Maybe more later, although I would not bet on it.

What the hell; why not say it?

His name is "Janvier Tisi." Buy his books if, out of pity or morbid curiosity, you feel the need. After all, as his latest missive notes, "They are
'have-to-read-inspiring-Afro-European books'." How can you refuse?

Now hear this

As we all know, there's nothing more fascinating than hearing a complete stranger's dreams, so here's one I had last night:

I'm lying in a bed (not any bed I'm familiar with), probably just as it's beginning to lighten outide. A knocking on the door. I open it. It's a black woman, who procedes to shoot me point blank in the head. Now: flashback! It turns out that I was being shot in retaliation for my part in some sort of ill-defined white supremacist plot which murdered fifteen black people. So now I'm in a conference room where the ringleader is explaining how the plot is to work. This explanation takes the form of having a bunch of different colored balls in the middle of the room which, like the components of some sort of puzzle game, we are supposed to place with two like colors adjacent to each other to make them disappear. This, in some abstract way, is apparently how the plan is supposed to work. But I have misgivings about this whole murder thing, which I express in some way. I'm not sure how or what or anything, but in some way I get the leader to cancel the plot or at least mitigate it or something. Then it turns out that I was one of the people who created the King James Bible. Bet you never saw that one coming, eh? So I'm trying to sign the ringleader's copy, which turns out to be a laborious process since all I have is a really crappy blue pen that not only barely writes, but is kind of sharp and threatens to damage the paper. Also, I'm trying hard to figure out how to phrase what I want to say--something about our friendship...only it's all a facade, because I know that he knows that I've basically betrayed him and that I'm a dead man; we're both just pretending. And...that's it. Dreams so rarely feature the kind of dramatic closure we would like.

Monday, December 27, 2004

And now for something completely different

And here we have a cute letter to counterbalance the stupid/evil one:

I think beagles should be the state dog for many reasons. Beagles are very very good with kids. I should know, I am a kid and have a beagle named Sam. He loves me so much. I’m his best friend.

The beagle is also very friendly, so if you need a watch dog, don’t pick a beagle. But if someone is trying to hurt you I believe they would protect you. They are very high energy at times, but when they want your love they turn into big babies and climb on your lap and tilt their heads in a way as if they are telling you, “Please rub my belly!”

Which brings me to another point. Their stomachs are never full! If they could eat all day, they would! I found that if you feed them at least four small meals a day, they will be content for a while until their stomach bell goes off.

Those are just a few of many reasons why the beagle should be the state dog. My dog Sam wants some fame in his life! Thank you.
Caralyn Weisel
Age 11

There are no words

Here's what we have to deal with in the Williamsport Sun-Duhzette. Frequently we see right-wing derangedness, but in this particular letter, with one bit of right-wing idiocy lurching drunkenly into another with no rhyme or reason, we really get a perfect encapsulation of why I don't write letters to the editor anymore: you can't have a rational public forum with stupidity like this around. There would be no point in trying to address this thing's "points," because, come on. However, the most notable point must surely be the part about how "they" "bombed" "us" "first." I suppose by "they" she must just mean A-rabs in general. 'Cause, you know, they're all the same. Neca eos omnes; Deus suos agnoset. My brother noted the "grandson" bit and posited that this was all down to rampant senility. But frankly, I'm less charitable--I think "stupid fucking bitch" is more likely.

Editor, Sun-Gazette:
My answer to Gail Shane [don't ask me; I don't know]:

First misstatement: Bush did not involve us in war under false pretenses. If I remember right, they bombed us first. As a matter of fact, several times. If you are talking about the weapon search that failed, there is no doubt that they have them, otherwise why did they not like our inspectors continuing to search? They just kept moving them from place to place. You talk about the cost of the war. If Clinton hadn’t tried to erase our military bases, Bush would not have to rebuild them. As for jobs moving to foreign countries, that has been going on for years, long before Bush was even here. What about John Kerry’s wife’s Heinz companies that are everywhere but in the U.S.? As for our environment, God has taken care of this old world for a long time and I think he is still very capable, more so than government.

You say Bush favors the wealthy with tax cuts. How do you know? Do the wealthy tell you what they pay? As far as Social Security is concerned, people have been griping about it ever since F.D.R. started it. The only thing about Social Security is we have too many people on it who won’t work and think the government owes them.

About assault weapons, I think every law-abiding citizen should be issued one. If people like John Kerry keep us on, we will be needing them to protect our own homes. What is wrong with healthcare is lawyers, if they had to hear malpractice cases for free and doctors didn’t have to pay outrageous insurances, they could lower their rates so people could afford them.

I am also on Bush’s side when it comes to gays. If they want to be gay, that’s ok with me, but do not infringe on my territory. I am against abortion 100 percent, why don’t they call it what it is, murder. Too many people are using it for birth control. As for stem cell research, it hasn’t even been proven yet. And the only thing Bush said about it is the government shouldn’t have to pay for it. People are too dumb to see what the government has to pay for comes out of their pocket.

By the way, I had one stepson who lost an eye in Germany, a son who lost his hearing in Korea and a son who died from agent orange, all over fighting for freedom. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Right now, I have a grandson and grandson-in-law and two nephews in the service and I thank God every day that they have a leader like George Bush.
Geraldine Phillip

Friday, December 24, 2004


Your mistletoe is no match for my TOW missile!

...or "Happy Librul Secular Humanism Day," as the evil denizens of conservative columnists' imaginations would prefer. (You WILL have Christmas cheer, goddamnit!) It's hard to feel all THAT much goodwill to all men and whatnot in this particular climate, but what the hell--have a good day, if you can manage it. What would it hurt? Cheers.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Forgotten the message and worship the creed

The one thing that seems not to be asked enough of Christianists (apart from "what the hell is wrong with you? is: why in God's name do you care about this shit? So you believe that the world was created in seven days six thousand years ago. Um, bully for you--but so what? Does believing this provide some sort of framework for moral conduct? And if it doesn't, what peculiar mental quirk would lead you to equate said belief with "morality?" I know, I know: "It's in the Bible, so it must be both true and holy!" You can't rationally argue with someone whose mind deals in such neat little tautologies. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Biblical literalism is just about the most infantile belief system imaginable, and has very little to do with "religion." Using Biblical principles to guide your life is one thing; obstinately insisting that the Lord told Noah to build him an arky-warky and that that is an INVIOLABLE TRUTH is something else entirely. That's why Eastern religions/philosophies typically seem so much less...silly to me. The conversations in the Analects of Confucious might have happened exactly as they're written, or they might not have, but that's immaterial: the point is the lessons and advice contained therein. You don't have people screaming that you're going to hell because you don't consider them to be absolute, indisputable fact. That would be silly. But then, silliness seems to have become the predominant belief system in These United States.

Edit: Tell ya one thing, though: because of the desperate, gasping attempts by right-wingers to feel persecuted, whenever someone wishes me a "merry Christmas" I DO find myself momentarily unsure of whether this is a sincere manifestation of holiday cheer or a defiant "fuck you" towards anyone who should dare to question Our Christian Hegemony Heritage. These people are so incredibly spiritual it boggles the mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Merry Christ--ah! No! It's the ACLU! They've smashed through the skylights!

Let me just ask: is there ANY kernel of truth, however, small, to the nonstop conservative whining about how evil libruls want to ban Christmas, or--as I'm suspecting--is it pure, utter fabrication. I'm not a Christian, but I celebrate Christmas. Holy shit! Let's face it, as an American tradition, the holiday has become almost wholly divorced from its original, religious connotations. It's just a time to kick back with friends and family and hopefully have a good, relaxing time. If any liberals ARE growing to dislike the word "Christmas," it's because of Christianists' dogmatic insistence on using it as a weapon to beat on people they don't like. Which is, of course, their goal, consciously or not. They're trying to create a self-perpetuating system, something at which they have a great deal of proficiency. But hey--fuck them. If they think making their most holy festival into a cynical, joyless tool to attack their enemies is a good idea, bully for them--but they're not ruining it for everyone else. I'm gonna go out with my brother on Christmas Eve to wander through the park and check out the enormous, light-bedecked evergreens, as always. Sorry, guys, but YOU LOSE this one: you can easily ruin the holiday for yourselves, but your efforts to inflict your pathology on the rest of us are in vain.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children"

Fucking Duck

Yes, Mallard Motherfucking Fillmore. Oddly enough, I rarely if ever read the Duck's thrillingly didactic adventures, and when I browsed through the last few weeks, I felt more inclined to shriek obscenities than be amusingly sarcastic. Yeah, so what's new? More on this later, maybe. For now, be satisfied wtih the most amusing questions from focus on the family's FAQ list.

#31: "Did any of the Columbia astronauts profess to be Christians?" You know--so we can know whether we should envision them swanning around in the clouds with harps or getting deepfried in the lake of fire. These things are important.

#53: "Do you have information about homosexuality on your site?" By Jove, I don't think we do! Thank you so much for the splendid suggestion!

#68: "Why do my spouse and I never talk anymore?" Because years of passive-aggressive needling have eroded your marriage to the point where you're both subconsciously worried that any little interaction could trigger an outbreak of explosive violence. Duh.

#79: "Should a child be spanked with a hand or some other object?" Our experts recommend a leather whip or cat o' nine tails for the most Biblically-correct scourgings.

#127: "On what part of the body would you administer a spanking?" Not even going to touch this one.

#155: "Why have so many parents forgotten the commonsense approach to child rearing?" Because the ominous euphemism scared them all off?

#187: "What can I do about the problem of pornography in my community and/or on my computer?" Why, how did those carefully-organized sets of pictures and videos invade the sanctity of my computer? Obviously, it's the secular humanists' fault. Values.

#214: "Is there hope for families of alcoholics?" Nope, you're pretty much fucked. What else is there to say?

#237: "In what direction is the pornography industry moving these days?" ...just out of, you know, idle curiosity. Do they still have hot girl-on-girl action? How about those interracial gangbangs I've heard so much about?

#253: "What is the best approach to disciplining a 1-year-old?" Well, you're never too young for unspeakable violence!

#270: "How can Christians cheat on their spouses?" As with child rearing, we generally recommend the commonsense approach: business trips, cheap motel rooms, and flimsly excuses. Or else someone needs a little lesson in deontic vs. epistemic.

#273: "How do I respond to my sassy 16-year-old daughter?" And, you know, speaking of pornography, how about that little incest fantasy I've been having?

#284: "How can I stay on the same wavelength as my teen?" Pepper your language with words like "tubular" and "gnarly" and "cowabunga." That way your child will know that you are a totally radical dude who is "with it to the max!"

#323 "Should parents with abusive tendencies avoid corporal punishment?" No--under these circumstances, it would be better to take our your aggression with the incest fantasy.

#338 "How does the Electoral College work?" There's no end to your demands, is there? 'How do I operate my toaster?' 'What's that wet stuff that comes down from the sky?' 'Should I stick my head in the oven?' Focus on the Family is not your mother. Figure it out for yourself!

#353: "Should I spank my child when he wets the bed?" Your obsession with spanking is becoming obsessive and disturbing. There are helpful books and videos you can get if you're really into this sort of thing, you know. You don't need to take it out on your children.

#363: "Has there been a significant change in the health of children?" Listen, just because YOUR children are "mysteriously" testing positive for herpes...

#372: "Is there an age when you begin to spank?" Really champing at the bit there, aren't you, tiger?

#379: "Are all forms of child abuse illegal?" Um, purely hypothetically, of course.

#389: "What does Dr. Dobson think about interracial dating and marriage?" Dr. Dobson has moved on to more socially-acceptable forms of bigotry. But he's glad to know you're still thinking about these things!

#405: "How does Dr. Dobson feel about the role-playing game "Dungeons and Dragons"?" Jeez, what is this, 1982? Don't you have newer social artifacts to pin your insecurities on?

#408: "What do you think about date rape when a girl has given a guy the come-on?" Uh, and do you have attorneys on staff? I swear, the bitch was totally asking for it!

#412: "How should I reprimand my 2-year-old for being noisy in church?" It's true what they say: When your only tool is a metal scourge, every problem looks like a disobedient child."

#451: "What are the prospects for the very pretty or handsome child?" We're afraid that pimping is still illegal in the United States, but we appreciate your Christ-like ingenuity.

#483: "Should parents show respect for their children?" Indeed--and everyone knows that the path to respect lies through constant numbing violence.

#571: "What is Pokemon, and what does Focus think of it?" All right then! I guess it isn't necessary to ditch the old scapegoats--you can just stack the new ones on top! Cheers, guys!

#584: "Why are kids drawn to teachers who are disciplinarians?" You're confusing real life with your sexual fantasies again. You've really gotta work on that.

#608: "Can I donate a car to Focus on the Family?" Why do I suspect that this is not a frequently asked question? Or an asked question, period?

#615: "Where is the raspberry cake recipe?" What happened? Where am I? Who am I? Who are all these strange people around me? What is this?

Friday, December 17, 2004

New, revollutionaary peenjs enlaargment devjce! infamy

Man, I love spam. And to that end, I've change the settings so any random yahoo can post comments, as well as important notices about \/1AAGRRA. XAANAX, \/ALI1UM. AMBIIEN, CIAL11S at CHEEAP.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Why in god's name did I buy this growlanser thing> I seem to have a pavlovian reaction when presented with Working Designs games. In many ways, I think that their greatest skill is self-promotion. It certainly isn't game selection--Vay, anyone? Vanguard Bandits? Sure, Alundra is swell, and the Lunar games are rather sweet. And yet, I keep getting sucked in by their populist attitude and by the fulsome praise they heap on even the most mediocre game (because they don't actually *make* games, they can do that without sounding obnoxiously egotistical--neat trick, that), and so now I have Growlanser Generations. I've barely touched it; it may turn out to be a decent game or two (although I had immediately turn off the voice acting, which made me die a little inside), but let's face it, I could have lived without it. And I CERTAINLY could have lived without the wretched excess that is the "deluxe" edition. Let me helpfully run down all the crap you get for an extra forty bucks.
--Deck of playing cards. They have a Growlanser back and special jokers. Phft. You've got to be kidding me. If each card had a new front, that would be one thing, but this ain't much.
--Ring. Pretty enough, if a bit gaudy. You could wear it, but let's face it, you're not going to. You're going to fondle it for a bit then forget about it.
--Watch. Pretty nice, actually, especially compared to that bug-ugly thing that you got for preordering Arc Collection. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but you could probably wear it in public...or at least, you could if you could figure out how to open the clasp. It's beyond me.
--Soundtrack. This is the only thing that I thought might actually be worth having in some concrete sense, since I greatly enjoyed the Lunar soundtracks. But no; as it turns out, this contains one fair-to-middling vocal track and a whole lotta instantly forgettable background music. Whoo.

Basically, this package is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with our rampantly consumeristic society--a whole lotta STUFF purely for the sake of having more STUFF. Because, whether we admit it or not, we think that having more STUFF is going to fill the void left by a society that has traded in any higher values it may once have had for sheer naked greed. Obviously, I'm not immune from this syndrome. But damned if I like it. I'm not blaming Working Designs in particular here; they didn't create this system, and in any case, this is a fairly innocuous example. Nonetheless, I find it worrying. SOMEONE has got to do something to break this system.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Very Old Post

Whilst sojourning in Canada, I became a big fan of Buck 65 after buying his at the time new album Talkin Honky Blues, on which he raps like Tom Waits. As quickly as possible, I went ahead and picked up his entire back catalogue, which, while inconsistent, has some really great stuff. So when do we get a new album? When I saw him live last winter, he claimed to have a whole 'nother album recorded and ready, and he played a few songs from this mythical beast. And they were good. But since then...nothing. So when I visited his intensely-annoying flash-based website today and immediately saw a notice for a new disc to be released in January, I was happy, in spite of the cringe-inducing title "This Here is Buck 65." But then I googled for it and quickly discovered that, in fact what we have here is a compilation. To introduce him to an American audience. Fucking Americans! As always, you're ruining everything! Or maybe I should say Fucking record company! Would it have killed you to just give THB a higher-profile US release? Stop wasting our time!

Straight to Hell

Let me show you an image from a Dick Tracy comic strip a few weeks back:

The fascism isn't even bothering to creep anymore.

What does it say about our society when a comic--let alone one as bland and conservative (not in a political sense) as Dick fucking Tracy--can not only casually refer to the fact that the US is running concentration camps, but considers them a normal, acceptable police procedural tool? Something involving a lot of profanity, that's for damn sure. That's the main thing: you have to make your outrages seem normal; to acclimate people to them. Thanks for helping out with that, Dick Locher and Mike Kilian. Your country salutes you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Some people just can't take "fuck off" for an answer

So occasionally people see my amazon reviews and think it would be really awesome if I would read and review their books. The odds of this happening are not high, but when you're a struggling author, you're desperate. Apparently. I don't really mind; it seems a little tacky, but I know that if I had a book out (and god willing, I someday will), I'd be frantically trying to prevent it from sinking into oblivion too. But when you're TOO shameless about it, it's just embarrassing. There's this guy, whom I will not mention by name, who since September has periodically been sending me emails asking me to read his books--I glance through these cursorily at best, and the only reason it registered with me that these were all from the same guy is that he begins every email with "hello, it appears you love beautiful stories, so I am certain you are going to love these," or some very close paraphrase. He always uses the phrase "beautiful stories." If he's trying to create a personal tone, this effort is somewhat undercut by repeating the same damn thing over and over. So after receiving his latest missive, I responded:

Nah, beautiful stories really aren't my thing...I prefer soul-crushing, existential nightmares that make me question the existence of a loving God. But thanks so much for your interest.


...and I figured that that would be that. But then, less than twenty minutes after I've sent this possibly not wholly encouraging message, he writes back:

Hi Geo,
Nightmarish you said. Find them in Disciples of Fortune and the thriller.

Was I too subtle, perhaps? Based on his writing, English does not appear to be his first language (his name and the subject matter of his books suggest some sort of African extraction), so maybe the sarcasm just didn't fly? Or is it, rather, that he didn't even think about that, and he's just latching onto anything that he thinks could conceivably score him a sale? So finally, impelled by curiosity, I actually checked him out on amazon. First not-so-great surprise was that they are published by "we are goddamn bloody fucking well NOT a vanity press!" vanity press publishamerica. And then, there's the fact that his books have actual reader reviews. Five-star reviews! All of them, coincidentally, by "readers" with no other amazon information. Who happen to write in exactly the same style as the author. I mean, seriously, dude--couldn't you at least have gotten friends to help you out here? This is too pathetic for me to even make fun of. More sad than anything else, really.

Anyway, my point is this: vanity presses fucking suck. One thing that we do not need in America is more people suffering under delusions. Are there books that, while good, are too radical or left-field or specialized for major publishing houses to take? Bien sûr. Too much so for even a small press to take on? That, I'm dubious about (and on that note, buy my dad's new book!). And, really, if you actually HAVE written something that THE WORLD MUST HAVE, but that no legitimate publisher in the world will accept, a vanity press ain't gonna help you none, since nobody's going to read your work anyway. And anyway, this is just distraction from the main issue, which is that, with a tiny, statistically irrelevant number of exceptions, the books that vanity presses publish are thus punlished because they are not good enough for serious consideration. So, vps: fuck off and die. Cheers.

3-2-1 let's jam

I actually started this weblog a long time ago, but then sort of gave up on it. I've purged the whole thing, and now I'm ready to REALLY go. I believe the geocities cite will be used mainly for hosting images and whatnot from now on. Rock and roll.