Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Junior Woodchucks would never have done this

The Boy Scouts suck, however. Best bit from that piece:

In some cases, councils have sought revenues from logging or land sales to make up for funding lost because of the organization's controversial bans on gays and atheists.

"I only robbed that bank because my illegal gambling operation was shut down!"

Second-best bit:

"People talk about what a bad, evil, horrible thing it is to cut a tree," said Tim McCandless, executive for the Spokane, Wash., Inland Northwest Council. "But our mission is kids, not trees."

Stupid fucking trees. Way to be a good role model there, Timmy. Is "the importance of making a buck" one of your core principles? 'Cause if so, you're sure living that one out.

Seriously, do these people have a charter that can be revoked? Because to those of us who care about the environment while simultaneously not being right-wing fucknoceri, this looks like bullshit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sad, true fact

This will be the first decade since the 1940s not to be capped off with a Rabbit book.

John Updike, March 18, 1932-January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Perhaps the most country-gothic-sounding name ever

Kingdom Come Creek, Kentucky, from whence one of the interviewees from the "Inauguration" episode of This American Life claimed to come. A place so obscure that it lacks a Wikipedia entry. This particular interviewee expressed grave concern that the Obama administration will "change this country into a country founded on Muslim issues." But let's try not to be condescending here; the right-wing noise machine is strong, and she DID express optimism and fervent hope that the stories she's heard are lies, which seems a fair bet.

It's an interesting episode; there's a segment about Guantanamo in there which is sure to invoke outrage, if you weren't paying enough attention to be outraged already. The fact that none of the architects of this giant, evil machine is likely to suffer ANY consequences (other than the inability to travel widely abroad, but ya think that bothers them?) is the biggest travesty of justice that I can think of.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Heaven 17, Naked as Advertised

I love Heaven 17. Let's face it: you'd kind of have to to be interested, in 2008, in a new album by such a quintessentially eighties band. But I do and I am.

The BRAND NEW! song is probably of most interest, so let's start there. In the chorus of "Don't Fall," Gregory urges the listener not to fall in love with him, clarifying that he is in fact unlovable. Nothing against Morrissey, but I'm not sure this is quite what Heaven 17 fans are looking for. Musically, however, it's a winner, all swirling, vaguely ominous synthesizers, somewhat reminiscent of the classic "Let Me Go." And what the hell, I'd happily listen to Glenn Gregory singing Ohio municipal tax codes, so on balance, it works. Also new: a cover of The Associates' "Party Fears Two." It's not a song I was previously familiar with, but it's a pretty good mournful, piano-oriented ballad, even if it doesn't seem particularly Heaven 17-ish. The line "the alcohol loves you while turning you blue" is particularly striking. Then we have "Being Boiled" and "Empire State Human," early Human League songs that Martyn Ware was apparently feeling proprietary about. Other than (predictably) Dare! and "The Lebanon," I've always been kind of lukewarm about the Human League, including these songs. For the record, I would place "Being Boiled" slightly above the original (some nice female backing lyrics) and "Empire State Human" a bit below. But neither of these are particularly strong opinions.

Then there are five familiar songs redone. "Geisha Boys and Temple Girls" (from whence the line "naked as advertised," of course) may be the best Heaven 17 song that doesn't appear on greatest hits collections. This version is louder and more direct, both lyrically and musically. It lacks the light touch of the original, which always seems to me to be recounting a series of fragile, momentary visions. I don't particularly care for it, although the female singing on the chorus is pretty okay. "Temptation" is mostly interchangeable with the original. I don't think I like it quite as much; some of the inflections in the chorus feel wrong to me ("unacceptable features" falls flat), but that's probably partially just a matter of familiarity. It's still a fantastic song; I'm just not sure why this version needs to exist.

"Penthouse and Pavement" is a strange case. The verses paint a jaundiced picture of yuppie upward mobility--but then, BAM, it hits that glorious, soul-inflected chorus, and you can suddenly hear the appeal. A nicely nuanced picture. For some reason, the remake flattens the chorus out; now it's fast and regimented like an assembly line, with no room for irrational exuberance. One almost suspects that the band thought it was painting TOO positive a picture. It's interesting to hear, and I'm glad to have it, but it feels to me like a serious rhetorical mistake.

I've always felt that "Fascist Groove Thang" was more of a flimsy novelty song than anything else; however, for what it is, the version here is actually a big improvement on the original, with much more solid-sounding production. The references to Reagan's election and Democrats being out of power make it willfully anachronistic in this day and age, but I think we can all be thankful that they didn't try to inflict upon it some sort of horrible lyrical update. Finally, "We Live so Fast" is similarly improved, although it's still not among my favorite of the band's songs.

So there you have it. I enjoy this album well enough (although it's never going to get as much airtime chez moi as the classics), but it would be a silly purchase for anyone insufficiently committed to already own their other seven albums. I'd start with The Luxury Gap (though their first three albums are all pretty much equally essential) and work backwards and forwards from there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Policy change

Sorry, but no more anonymous comments. I hope this doesn't cause any big problems for anyone; drop me an email if it does. I'm doing this because there's a troll with serious gender insecurity issues hereabouts (I think it got here from Duck and Cover, where, for somewhat inscrutable reasons, it seems to have developed a fixation on me). Granted, it's pretty funny to see all this grade-school-level tough talk from an anonymous coward, but I would prefer to force it to use a name if it wants to mix it up here.

A question for Mr. Troll, however: why in god's name are you trolling blogs that have maybe a few dozen readers? Is this really an effective use of your valuable trolling time? And is getting angrily defensive about stupid cultural detritus like Mallard Fillmore and dumb truck ads really the hill you want to die on? Really? All I'm saying is, how many people do you think have lain on their deathbeds thinking, if only I'd spent more time defending Bruce Tinsley! Think about it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things you probably didn't know

There are still Shakers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things that leave you speechless

I randomly stumbled across this article, the salient point of which is that this year--ie, 2009--is the first year that the high school in this shithole Mississippi town is having a non-segregated prom. First thought: how is that even legal? Second thought: wow the south really sucks. Third thought: No--really? This is a joke, right? Fourth thought: It's a good thing Obama's election marked the end of racism; otherwise, this might be troubling. Fifth thought: Seriously, you're just fucking with us, right? Sixth thought: okay, that's enough. Please stop this reality; I would like to get off.

Mallard Fillmore still sucks

I usually leave this bullshit to Duck and Cover these days, but today's installment is particularly risible. Yes: golly, President Bush, it's sure great that you only allowed ONE massive domestic terror attack to happen on your watch! How many Presidents can say that? The anthrax attacks don't count as "acts of terror" because SHUT UP SHUT UP CUT HIS MIKE. Also, it doesn't matter that the London, Madrid, and Bali attacks were almost certainly the direct result of our dimwitted little warrior-king's mideast crusade, because those are just furriners. And it's likewise ENTIRELY BESIDE THE POINT that he let an ENTIRE FUCKING CITY drown with his incompetence and cronyism and apathy, because, a., the weather isn't useful for whipping people up into a bloodthirsty, xenophobic froth; and b., that mainly affected those people if you know what I'm talking about and I think you do.

In conclusion, shove it up your ass, Tinsley. Or at least that's what I WOULD say, but to do that, he'd have to wrench his head out of there first, and I really don't see that happening.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If you buy the wrong truck, Howie Long will call you a homosexual.

Such, at any rate, is the inspiring message behind these Chevrolet commercials. The economy really must be tanking--you can smell the desperation. The idea of not only insulting your competitors but actually spewing hostility at the viewer is actually something I don't think I've seen before. Very novel. I'm surprised the Republican party didn't come up with something along those lines first, though--"only fags vote Democrat" seems like a natural.

On the ad where Howie contemptuously informs the guy that his "man-step" is down: uh huh. I have to say, I think the effort to instill in the viewer the idea that steps are somehow suspiciously effeminate and probably European to boot is doomed to failure. Because what the fuck is so offensive about a step? That's a question that I think even the most testosterone-addled troglodyte is going to be capable of asking.

On the ad where Howie effortlessly breaks through the guy's masculine façade: sorry, but NO. A "trucker" is a guy with a big rig who carries goods across the country. I know you badly want to create the impression that your stupid little pick-up trucks are being used to do some sort of indeterminate hauling work, but let's be serious for a moment. ANYONE claiming to be a "trucker" because he has a pickup truck is a big, fat poseur, and that includes you, Howie. Now please go away.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

You think it's one way, but it's the other way.

We're all too familiar with the ways in which the Democrats spinelessly caved in to Republican assholery on a frightfully large percentage of issues in the past eight years. Some of this was due to...well, spinelessness, obviously. Some of it to general lack of principle. But I like to think that at least some of it was out of a naive and misapplied sense that, as elected officials, they had some sort of obligation to actually do something--to get the people's work accomplished, even when it meant hideous ninety-percent-capitulation "compromises." I think that's what all that "bipartisanship" talk was about. As I said: not a good way to do things, but at least theoretically laudable, inasmuch as it's demonstrative of some kind of vestigial sense of civic responsibility.

Well, we clearly don't have to worry about THAT anymore. Not that it should be a surprise or anything, but it's still pretty amazing the extent to which, now that they're out of power, the Republicans have positioned themselves as a purely negative force with the single-minded, robotic goal of obstructing, bothering, and ideally destroying the Democrats in any way possible. They don't even pretend to care about, oh I don't know, the well-being of the country? The poor, feeble-minded schmucks who elected them? Any of that stuff they it's theoretically their JOB to do? HA. Just look at this Minnesota stupidity: it's obvious that their boy lost, and he lost in an entirely fair and transparent manner. So what's the response? Obstruct obstruct obstruct while shouting THIEF!!!! absent any evidence whatsoever of foul play. The only thing this can conceivably accomplish is to temporarily deprive Minnesotans of representation and undermine faith in the democratic process. You could try pointing out that this would seem to be a BAD THING for everyone, regardless of party affiliation. But you would be wrong. It's only a bad thing if you care about the country. Otherwise, it's Party Über Alles. It amazes me that I'm still capable of amazement at the endless, unplumbed depths.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Eagleton vs Dawkins

I've been a fan of Terry Eagleton since reading The Illusions of Postmodernism, which, in addition to being eminently sensible and frequently funny, almost reads as if--mirabile dictu!--it was specifically written to actually be read and understood by actual humans. Crazy.

So anyway, not that it's new or anything, but I came across his critique of The God Delusion, which is, again, quite sensible, and well worth investigation by interested parties.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

People Who Must Die: An Ongoing Series: Part Two: Snowblower Owners

Every morning after a big snow shower, there you will hear them: VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOOOOOOGODDAMNOOOOOOOOM ad infinitum, both inflicting horrific noises on would-be sleepers or enjoyers of the snowy morning and spewing god knows how much pollution into the atmosphere--all to move a small amount of snow three feet to the left. Now if you're old and feeble and you absolutely HAVE to have the snow gone for whatever reason, then okay. But, leaving aside the question of need, the fact remains, it's almost ALL perfectly able-bodied people wielding these monstrosities. Who cares about the environment or ANYTHING when I can save a trivial amount of physical exertion to accomplish a task of questionable utility? It's this kind of oblivious, All-American narcissism that truly is emblematic of Why They Hate Us, and With Good Reason. And it is for that reason that snowblower owners must die.

Peacable Dawgs

They're content because the Eagles pecked the Giants to death, to use a more vivid metaphor than "soared over."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

And furthermore!

I hate to ruin a good thing by babbling too much about it, but SERIOUSLY, the depth of that man's stupidity almost defies belief. Has the phrase "Big Brother is watching" EVER, ONCE, since its inception, been used in a positive sense? It doesn't matter if you've actually read the book or not; how could you somehow imagine that Big Brother is a benevolent figure? How?? HOW!?! (this is the part where I'd be shaking you by the shoulders if I were ranting at you in person).

Okay, deep breath. I guess I shouldn't be THAT surprised--this is the same Bill Orally who doesn't know what a panda looks like--but my god, especially given the constant efforts of the right to co-opt Orwell, it's just baffling to me that he could fuck up something so basic.

The oft-overlooked utopian aspect of 1984

Hard as it is to believe, Bill Orally is even stupider than you had thought:

Big Brother is not watching out for us. Orwell had it wrong. We are pretty much on our own, as the federal government simply cannot or will not protect the folks from danger. Never again will I assume the feds are looking out for me.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fat and Oppressed

So I saw this article that isn't exactly new but I just saw it. It's about a game called Fat Princess where you have to rescue the princess only your opponents can make her fatter by feeding her desert so she's harder to move. Okay! Now look, it's a silly idea, no doubt. Maybe it's a little offensive to some tastes, which is fine, I guess, even if I can't really get worked up about it. But here is this quote from the article:

Over at Shakesville, however, writer Melissa McEwan cuts to the chase, telling Sony she's "positively thrilled to see such unyielding dedication to creating a new generation of fat-hating, heteronormative ---holes."

I personally am less thrilled to see militant feminists showing such unyielding dedication to maintaining their reputation as humorless scolds, but there you are. And "heteronormative?" Sure, why not. No sense doing this half-way. In fact, I don't understand how MeEwan could possibly have left out "patriarchal." Normally, people complaining about "political correctness" are just upset because they can't openly fling racial slurs around anymore, but in this instance, there might be something to what they're saying. This kind of ginned-up rage over very little kinda looks to me like the left-wing equivalent of Michelle Malkin maintaining a perpetual, seething rage over subversive vodka ads.

Not that anyone wants my advice or anything, but I would recommend reacting to something like this by rolling your eyes and thinking exasperated thoughts. Because if you display this level of OUTRAGE! over something like this, then why do you expect people to take you seriously when you get mad about something that's actually beyond the pale, like the obese woman in Good Luck Chuck (it's funny because she's a hideous subhuman and nobody could possibly ever love her--geddit)?

Unless, hell, you really do see no substantive difference between the two. In which case, godspeed, I guess. I just hope in that case you're prepared not to see many of your political objective met, or indeed to live a particularly happy life.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Insane literal-mindedness FTW!

What kind of mansion will YOU have in Heaven?

I'd just avoid using figures of speech altogether around these people. It's just asking for trouble. I would, however, like to know what possible scriptural evidence there is for Heaven having different membership levels. Somehow, I always pictured it as being less like an NPR fund drive than that.

(h/t: my brother)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

American Football has dumb rules

So the ninth inning ends in a tie. Do we go into extra innings? Yeah, but which team is up first is decided by a coin toss. And if that team is able to score, it's the end of the ballgame--the other team doesn't even get a chance.

Oh, you say that's an idiotic idea that would never be used because it's unfair and makes no damn sense? Well, it bloody well is, only not in MLB but rather the NFL (yet another way that Canada is better than us!). And, in what I can only assume is a form of Stockholm Syndrome, the announcers all go to great lengths to defend it. I mean, I can see why the stupidity of the electoral college will never be changed; that's just the fate of the nation we're talking about. But this is football! It's important! The announcers claimed that Tony Dungy is in favor of the system; perhaps he'll have changed his tune after arbitrarily losing to the Chargers.

Imponderable question

When the irritating song "Money" by the irritating band Pink Floyd is played on the radio, how is it that "bullshit" always goes unbleeped? Isn't there some sort of relevant FCC regulation here? Do they do this with any other songs? I can't think of any, but then, I don't listen to the radio much.