Monday, April 30, 2007

Media Whores Online

Bill Moyers has put together a masterpiece of journalism called "Buying the War," all about the inept work of the media in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

If you missed it on PBS last week, no worries. You can catch the whole thing online here. Fascinating stuff.

Caption Contest

We normally reserve this feature for the Decider and his coterie of Deciderettes, but this one is just too good to pass up. Have at it.

Stolen, as always, from Dependable Renegade.

Today in Sarcasm

McSweeney's has a piece that's a little heavy-handed, but pretty apt.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Prince of Peace War

You can read the article, but it won't explain what, exactly, Jesus has against peace.
Henry won't tattoo any design "that glorifies sin," he said. Limitations include marijuana leaves, profanity, peace signs and homosexuality. This sometimes drives away business, but Henry said he isn't bothered.

Friday, April 27, 2007

All In

I'm not sure about the political wisdom of this, but it is without hyperbole the most important piece of legislation since, uh, say this one.
Representative Barney Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced legislation that would allow online gambling in the U.S., loosening a ban enacted last year.
The measure would allow Americans to bet online with licensed Internet operators that have safeguards against underage and compulsive gambling and agree to be subject to U.S. jurisdiction and taxes, Frank said at a press conference in Washington.

As we all know, football season rapidly approaches, and it makes me feel dirty giving out my checking account number to some anonymous guy in the Caribbean. Giving some anonymous guy in the Caribbean my credit card numbers is totally cool.

Friday Random Ten

I'm not sure if this week's album comes from one of the self-described "Jesus freaks" of the 1960s, but it certainly seems that way. The barefoot dude with the striped pants and starry eyes certainly seems to come from that mold.

And given the fact that he's surrounded by heavy-lidded, dopey-smiling, happy-singing mountains, I'm pretty sure that "Maranatha" is a colloquialism for "Marijuana." The hills are alive, dude, with the sound of music! Feel the vibrations! Don't get me started on those stoner trees, either. Yeesh. Talk about the Petrified Forest.

The appearance of this high and mighty album cover can only mean one thing -- it's time for the Friday Random Ten.

1. Pink Floyd, "Fearless" -- This is an often overlooked tune from the Floydians, but one I like a lot. Very mellow, with a nice English football chant overlaid at the end. Well done, boys. 8/10

2. Tapes 'n' Tapes, "Omaha" -- I tend to disagree with the blogosphere's universal rapture for these kids, but I do like this song quite a bit. It builds nicely, starting out quiet with soft vocals and a spare drumming, and then moves to an indie rock crescendo. 9/10

3. Cal Tjader, "Suicide is Painless" -- Yes, it's a saucy Latin jazz cover of the theme song to "M*A*S*H." No, it doesn't work at all. It sounds like Schroeder from the Peanuts crew in the depths of a real depression. 2/10

4. The Cardigans, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" -- Now here's a light-hearted cover that works. Putting Ozzy's vocals in the hands of a saucy Nordic babe somehow only makes the song even creepier. 7/10

5. Roger Miller, "Chug-a-Lug" -- I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the cornball country of Roger Miller, and this ode to underaged alcoholism is a perfect example of why. Makes me wanna holler hidi-ho, indeed. 6/10

6. Charles Kynard, "Soul Reggae" -- Despite the title, this song is neither "soul" nor "reggae," but instead a scorching Hammond organ R&B instrumental. Discuss. 8/10

7. Overlord, "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" -- Jeebus, another cover. This time it's a rendition of the Magnetic Fields song. The instrument work is fine enough, but the vocals are a little too emo-angsty for my tastes. Eh. 4/10

8. Johnny Cash and the Original Tennessee Two, "Rock Island Line" -- This is a live recording from early on in Cash's career, on a radio program called Country Style USA. Not exactly a stirring number, given that it largely consists of details of railroad cargo, but Cash's patented thumpity-thump railroad beat is on nice display here. 5/10

9. My Bloody Valentine, "Only Shallow" -- The pinnacle of shoegazery. I'm making this one a coast-to-coast dedication in Pete Smith's honor. 10/10

10. Leadbelly, "Midnight Special" -- One of the many traditional blues songs that Leadbelly helped put on the map, only to find '60s rockers covering it in their own way. CCR took the lead with this one, but it's hard to surpass the blues rendition. 7/10

Alright, I ended up with a 6.8 average, which makes me a little more than two-thirds cool and just a tenth of a point shy of a score that would make an eighth grader giggle. I can live with that.

Let's see what you all have. Drop your own FRT in the comments below, with or without the coolness self-audit.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not Too Much TV, the Wrong TV

I was reading the article Atrios had linked to about republic prez candidate Mike Huckabee's son getting busted at the airport with a loaded pistol, when I got to this paragraph:
The elder Huckabee, who said last week that Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui perhaps could have been stopped if a teacher or student had also been armed, also has a concealed weapons permit.
I'm not surprised when the crazies at the National Review Online or Ted Nugent say that if they were there, and if those pesky no-guns-allowed laws weren't in place, they would've gotten Matrix on Seung-Hui's ass. But a guy who's actually running for president? What is he thinking?

John Cole has already done an excellent job painting the horrific picture of a campus with 26,000 gun-toting 18 to 22 year-olds, full of beer and aggression and really stupid ideas. College isn't that different from minimum security prisons, only when someone says to you "I'm the man" you don't have to clench like there's no tomorrow.

Obviously, Huckabee and some other people are imagining they'd be like Rambo or John Wayne or some other gunslinger they see every Saturday at 7:05 pm on TBS. Somehow they fail to get that these are not real people in real situations. Really, there's nobody named "Dirty Harry" working for the San Fran PD. If you want to learn anything from TV, something useful in your real life, you've got to watch reality TV.

And I don't mean that "Survivor," "I Love New York" (I can't believe she picked Tango!), "Fear Factor" junk. There's really nothing to be learned from these contrived craptraps, although I do sometimes wonder how many pig testicles I could eat while suspended from a helicopter. If you want to learn something that you can actually use in your daily life, you need to watch "Cops" and all the "World's Wildest .... Videos." I can't tell you how many great things I've learned from these shows, such as:

--- It's very hard to hold on to a naked, bloody, sweaty man.
--- A 1992 Chevy Beretta can drive on its rims for quite a few miles.
--- If you have drugs in your car and the cop asks if he can search your car, SAY NO.

When I started reading NRA shitake about how if everyone had guns the Va Tech thing wouldn't have happened or would've been cut short, I immediately thought of a scene from reality TV that I've seen over and over. For a few years it was in just about every "Wildest Police Videos" show, and it's still the finale for most "World's Shootiest Shootout" shows.

If guns were allowed on college campuses, it's not like the sick freaks wouldn't know about it. They'd do like they learned in Boy Scouts and "wail on the gays" -- I mean "prepare." Maybe shotguns and automatic rifles, maybe body armor, maybe both. If someone really wants to kill a bunch of people, and if he isn't as dumb as, say, Mike Huckabee's son, then it's going to happen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Handicapping the Field

Confused by the vast array of Democratic presidential candidates? No worries. McSweeney's has taken the time to examine the current contenders and a raft of potentials.

For example:
Pro: Technically still running for president.
Con: Dude. Come on.

Pro: Solid anti-war stance; adorable; strong to the finich.
Con: Election laws limit magical pixies to only one term in office.

Pro: Could draw some initial interest from the Christian right until they research his actual positions in a deeper way; likable; strong leadership qualities.
Con: Unkempt; pretty far left; messianic complex.
That's just three of the twenty. Enjoy the rest.

Cry Me a River

Here's a tough question for your consideration:

Who's a more self-centered, delusional ass? The Decider? Or Mrs. Decider?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Trials of Turdblossom

Every year or so, we dust off this classic doctored photo and engage in a little wishful thinking. Looks like it's that time of year again:
The Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.

"We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. "We will not leave any stone unturned."
I know, I know. Karl Rove has slithered away from danger before and I'm sure he'll do so again here.

Given the way this administration works, I'm sure this inquiry -- internal to the administration and headed by a fellow Bush appointee -- will miraculously discover that Rove has done nothing wrong. He'll probably wind up with a Presidential Medal of Freedom when it's all said and done.

But still, if it leads to more stories involving "Karl Rove" and "inquiry" then I'm all for it. Sure, it'd be nice if the words "frog-marched," "waterboarded," and "his cellmate 'Trigger Dog'" were also included, but this is a start.

Update: Well, that didn't last long. Talk Left has the details on Bloch and he looks like a Loyal Bushie.

Of course, as a Loyal Bushie, that means he's horribly incompetent. Maybe he'll screw up the fake investigation and actually come up with some dirt on Rove. Oh, the ironing is delicious.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Caption Contest

Another day, another image stolen from Dependable Renegade.

Have at him.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uppity 2 Year Olds

Link Removed: As much as I enjoyed hearing the opening line from this video every time I opened the blog, twenty times is my personal limit. If you haven't seen the clip, check it out here. -- OM

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm the greatest parent in the world

At least that's how I feel when I read stories like these.
The children's mother Zara Care, along with her sisters Serenza and Danielle Olver and her mother Carole Olver, forced the kids to punch each other in the face.
The women also goaded the two-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, to hit each other with a magazine and a hairbrush.
When one did not fight, they called him a "wimp" and a "faggot".
The fight, filmed on a home video recorder, was found by the children's father who is in the Army and had returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Man, there's no way I'll screw my kids up as bad as that.

War on Science -- and common sense

If ketchup can be a vegetable, why not a watermelon?
Oklahoma already has the strawberry as its official fruit, so the state Senate cleared the way on Tuesday to declare the watermelon the state vegetable.

Friday Random Ten

Editor's Note: Once again, Otto Man is on the road this week, walking the earth like Kane from "Kung Fu," righting wrongs wherever he finds them. As a result, we bring you a special FRT flashback. Enjoy the trip.

Ladies and gentlemen of Earth, allow me to present the Spotnicks.

I'm a little fuzzy on the history of this band, but from their space-age outfits, I think they're the ones who did the original versions of such classic songs as "Space Oddity," "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars," and, of course, the soul-stirring "On the Spaceship Lollipop." Classic, classic stuff.

On this album, the Spotnicks have landed in London -- no, really! look at the photo! -- to spread their intergalactic rocking to the swingingest country on this here planet. Apparently, that bobby is giving them directions to the nearest assemblage of impressionable young Brits. Or telling them to bugger off. Hard to say.

Anyway, the arrival of the Spotnicks can only mean that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten.

For those of you just joining us, here's how it's done, in three easy steps. First, take out whatever music storage device you use -- an iPod, an imitationPod, a 1958 Wurlitzer jukebox, the rhythm-blessed wino on your corner, whatever -- set it to random, and give us the first ten songs that come out. Second, if you'd like to kick it up a notch Elzar-style, rate the songs on a scale of one to ten, with one being the biggest bunch of sucks who ever sucked a suck and ten being a song so cool that it collapses upon itself to form a black hole of coolness that not even Barry White's voice could escape. Third, mock everyone else's music.

Alright, let's do this thing!

1. Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, "Low Man on the Totem Pole" -- This pair formed the backbone of many a country hit during the '50s, with some pedal steel guitar work that would make a redneck cry. Not exactly cool, this is more along the lines of Grandpa Simpson's getaway music. 6/10

2. Iron & Wine, "Jesus the Mexican Boy" -- I tend to enjoy Sam Beam's narcoleptic folk, but this one is a little bit too sleepy-eyed. And besides, good Americans are now supposed to hate all things Mexican. 5/10

3. Roísín Murphy, "Through Time" -- While I enjoyed her work in the electronica duo Moloko and the visiting teaching job she did at the Handsome Boy Modeling School, this song off her debut solo album is fairly uninspired. Maybe they're going for faux-70s-schlock, but it just sounds like schlock to me. Feh. 3/10

4. Blackalicious, "Blazing Arrow" -- Finally, something presentable. This track, from the album of the same name, is just what you'd expect from the hiphop geniuses of Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab -- blistering fast rhymes, loopy beats, and odd catchy hooks. Nicely done. 9/10

5. Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five, "Teacher (How I Love My Teacher)" -- Ugh, I spoke too soon. Again, I normally love Louis Jordan, but this is pretty much a boring tribute to the Martin Princes of the world. This song makes me want to pound nerds until they crumble like a batch of his raisin roundies. 1/10

6. Radiohead, "Morning Bell" -- This is the more uptempo version, from Kid A. Certainly one of my favorites, with an incredibly catchy hook and the best lyrics ever written about a divorce. "Cut the kids in half"? Daaaaaamn. 10/10

7. De La Soul, "Keepin' the Faith (Fly and Funky Mix)" -- Listen, people: subtitles don't lie. This remix is both fly and funky. I think I still prefer the original, but given the crapapalooza I'm having today, I'll grab onto this like a lifevest. 7/10

8. U.N.K.L.E. with South, "Paranoid (UNKLE Variation)" -- A nice, driving instrumental from the outstanding Sexy Beast soundtrack. Since the song has no words, allow me to quote one of my favorite bits from Ben Kingsley's character: "Retired? Fuck off, you're revolting. Look at your suntan, it's leather, it's like leather man, your skin. We could make a fucking suitcase out of you. Like a crocodile, fat crocodile, fat bastard. You look like fucking Idi Amin, you know what I mean? Stay here? You should be ashamed of yourself. Who do you think you are? King of the castle? Cock of the walk? [punch] What you think this is the wheel of fortune? You think you can make your dough and fuck off? Leave the table? Thanks Don, see you Don, off to sunny Spain now Don, fuck off Don. Lying in your pool like a fat blob laughing at me, you think I'm gonna have that? You really think I'm gonna have that, ya ponce?" Man, I'd love to see Kingsley do that monologue as Gandhi. 8/10

9. Bobby Emmons, "Blue Organ" -- This song certainly features some phenomenal work on the Hammond organ, but it isn't even remotely blue. In fact, it's pretty fucking hot. Phenomenal. 10/10

10. Wolfmother, "Love Train" -- Once you've pulled the hard-rocking foot out of your ass, take a look at the website. These guys seem to have all the '70s charm of the Darkness, but with twice as much stolen from Ozzy Osbourne during his Sabbath heyday. Excellent stuff. 9/10

Well, that gives me another underwhelming score on the Coolness Scale, a mediocre 6.8 average. Boo!

Surely, you can do better than that. Drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self Audit. It's the right thing to do, and a tasty way to do it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Question for Beer Lovers, if Any

A few years back, when home brewing was all the rage in the metro DC area, I got swept up in the excitement and tried it a couple-three times. As master brewers will tell you, a good brew requires patience, attention to detail, and a basic level of cleanliness. Possessing none of these, I was unsurprised when my beers tasted more like lightly carbonated shitwine than a lager or stout or whatever it said on the side of the can. But they got me wasted, so I counted it a success.

The fad passed and the stores closed, and all my home brewing gear has been out on the porch for about the last five years. Last week I was cleaning up out there (a.k.a. making room for more crap), and I discovered two full, unopened bottles. The big kinds, like 2.5 beers each.

Question: What are the chances that they're not lethally toxic? I'm willing to risk blindness, but my life insurance has a clause about extreme stupidity. Doubt the wife could collect if I croak.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dr Phil explains it all

Dr Phil was on Larry King last night, and in an amazing feat of diagnosis told us all why someone would kill 30 people in cold blood.
DR. PHIL: Well, Larry, every situation is different… The question really is can we spot them. And the problem is we are programming these people as a society. You cannot tell me - common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they’re on a mass killing spree in a video game, it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high.
And we’re going to have to start dealing with that. We’re going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murders of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.

As a non-psychologist, I would have guessed that the reason someone massacres a bunch of innocent people is that they are batshit crazy. What do I know?

Thankfully, Dr. Phil has explained it all to me, and I know that it is stuff like this clip that turned an innocent boy into a monster.


The Horror, The Horror ...

Over at Deadspin, they have a sneak peek at an upcoming horror flick set in the rough-and-tumble world of ... amateur golf. That scraping sound is the bottom of the barrel, I believe.

Here's the synopsis:
Seven years after the free and easy days of high school, four friends meet up at the "Wide Open" - a wild, after dark, golf tournament. The foursome made up of Ben, Fast, Nick and Jack - now men with separate lives and separate perspectives - reunites in the thick woods of Virginia at Woody Hole Golf Club, which just so happens to reopen just in time to host their annual golf outing. But when a stranger stumbles onto the remote course and into their lives, chaos explodes. Soon, these friends are plunged into a horrifying struggle with hideous creatures determined to destroy them. ...

Just as things look their darkest, a mysterious stranger enters the fight. THE GROUNDSKEEPER, once a promising professional golfer, is now a misunderstood loner. The unexplained disappearance of his son has left him heartbroken and alone. A man with nothing to lose, he fortifies the group. As the reality of the situation and his child's horrifying fate become all too apparent, he rises to the challenge and acts out his own rage-induced revenge.
You do not want to make the Groundskeeper angry. Trust me.

Caption Contest

We tend to devote these caption contests to the current Decider, but since the laugh riot of the Bush administration won't last forever, we might as well try out some of the junior varsity squad.

You know the drill. Have at him.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Activate This

Courtesy of the fine people at McSweeney's Internet Tendency, we're proud to pass along the secret diaries of Zan, the male half of the Wonder Twins.

Here's an excerpt:
January 24: New low today. As Black Lightning and Green Lantern were harassing Aquaman for lame superpower of talking to fish, he responded by saying, "At least I can do more than take the 'form of' an ice ladder!" and stormed out of the room. And he did that air-quote thing when he said "form of." Somehow, that made it much worse.


I've just upgraded to the latest version of Firefox, which for some reason lacks the old version's simplicity in copying images. I used to be able to click on an image and save it to my desktop, but no more.

Anyone out there have a suggestion on how to do this with the new version? Specifically, for Mac users? This will affect the vital world of caption contests and FRT album covers from here on out.


Given the torrential downpour here in the Northeast, I thought we should take a moment to familiarize our readers with the water-logged wasteland that they'll soon be living in. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Any Comment, iRod and StudioD?

At the world’s busiest airport, plainclothes officers patrolling public restrooms in search of luggage thieves have instead uncovered a rash of other, more sordid crimes.

The new restroom dragnet has led to the arrests of more than 30 people in three months for indecent exposure and public sex acts at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Zookeeper, the monkeys are fragging each other!

I welcome our virtual ape overlords.
At 4, Bernas is not the computer wizard his mom is, but he is learning. Just the other day he used his lips and feet to play a game on the touch-screen monitor as his mom, Madu, swung from vines and climbed trees.

The two Sumatran orangutans are part of new Zoo Atlanta research that uses computer games to study the cognitive skills of the primates.

The best part? Visitors to the US zoo get to watch their every computer move.

The orangutans play the games on a touch screen built into a tree-like structure in the habitat to blend in with their environment. Visitors watch from a monitor in front of the orangutan exhibit.

Great, I already have to be humiliated by 12 year olds running circles around me in Counter Strike. A few years from now I'll be chainsawed by a monkey.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Editor's Note: Otto Man is on the road this week, roaming the countryside in a van, solving crimes. In his absence, we bring you a sad, classic episode of the Friday Random Ten from a year or so ago. Remember: It's not a rerun if you don't remember it!

This week's featured album was apparently the result of some Dadaist art collective, pulling random words out of a hat ("... circus ... polka ... clown ... duck ...") to produce the cover art, and then doing the same with the song titles. How else can you explain titles like "Slap Happy Polka" and "Meet the Missus Polka"?

On second thought, the lead-off songs on side two might give a clue to their creative process: "Green Grass Polka" followed by "Dark Cloud Polka." I think we're going to need a urine sample from Chuckles the Clown. Upon closer inspection, that might not be make-up after all.


The disturbing appearance of the clown from Stephen King's It and the Aflac duck can only mean that it's time for another exciting installment of the Friday Random Ten. You know what to do -- set the iPod to random, and give us the first ten songs that surface. And, if you're feeling competitive, toss in a Coolness Self-Audit, too.

Here's mine:

1. Johnny Cash, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" -- A Columbia era song-story about one of the four soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. The story of what happened to those soldiers after their moment in the sun is a tragic one (soon to be a major motion picture, by the way) but the story of Hayes, a Pima Indian, is perhaps the saddest. Cash's song reveals a lot about his liberal sympathies, but it's not much of a tune. 3/10

2. Blondie, "Hanging on the Telephone" -- Classic. What more can I say? 8/10

3. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Blues Explosion Attack" -- This is a collaboration with Calvin Johnson and, once again, I'm let down. This is pretty much Spencer shouting street-corner insanity over a snare drum. Pfft. 2/10

4. Radiohead, "Rhinestone Cowboy (live)" -- A nice gem of a cover from the B-Sides collection. It's hard to do a lot when your inspiration is schlock, but you've got to admire Thom Yorke for going after Glen Campbell and doing it with a straight face. 6/10

5. Shirley Horn, "Return to Paradise (Mark DeClive-Lowe Remix)" -- This is a fairly innocuous remixing of Horn's original jazz tune, the kind of thing you'd find on a Buddha Bar CD compilation. Nice, but not spectacular. 6/10

6. Southern Culture on the Skids, "Mexy-Melt" -- These folks don't normally do the whole surf guitar thing, but you'd never know from this tune. Guitarist Rick Miller is absofuckinglutely on fire here with some angry, unrelenting riffs. 9/10

7. Rocket from the Crypt, "UFO>UFO>UFO" -- Speaking of angry and unrelenting, here's some in-your-grill post-punk from San Diego. I liked "Sturdy Wrists," but this is the kind of screaming cacophony that my father would've referred to as "narcotic music." Bleh. 1/10

8. Ray Charles, "I Got a Woman" -- How's that for an awkward transition? Straightforward Atlantic-era Charles, this is a good song that I can't hear anymore without thinking of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," and, moreover, the "George Bush Doesn't Care about Black People" remix by Legendary K.O. 6/10

9. Sonic Youth, "Ca Plane Pour Moi" -- An interesting cover of the early '80s pseudohit by Belgium's own Plastic Bertrand. The French lyrics seem fun, until you translate them and realize he's singing lines like "Wham! Bam! my cat Splash lies on my bed with his tongue puffed out by drinking all my whisky." Very deep, Felicity. Thanks for sharing. 7/10

10. Jurassic 5, "Break" -- I was in Austin last spring for a wedding the same time that J5 was in town to play a show at Stubbs. Tragically, the show was the same night as the rehearsal dinner, so we couldn't go. Even worse, a friend managed to chat up Charlie Tuna in our hotel lobby just five minutes before I walked in. Stupid timing. Great song. 9/10

That gives me a pathetic 5.7 average. Since I've burned all of our permanent records, I can't say for sure that that's the lowest score I've ever gotten, but it would have to be close.

I know you folks can do better than that. Give us your own Random Ten, with or without your own Coolness Self-Audit, and with or without your own condolences on my incredible uncoolness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Suffer the Children. Suffer.

After staying home with the baby for a couple months, I’ve learned a few things. None of this will be news to you parenting vets, but perhaps those of you who haven’t had kids yet can benefit from my experience.

Babies are to lazy social isolates what human shields are to bank robbers. There is nothing a baby can’t get you out of. Social functions, yard work, even church – praise Jeebus, babies can even get you out of church. You still have to go, but at the first peep from the baby you get to jump up and take the baby out of the sanctuary, leaving the suckers to suffer through the Nicene Creed and another sermon on chastity.

Take a baby into the grocery store and you’ll get all sorts of approving looks from women and even some men. Pick up a six pack of beer and the approving looks stop. Pick up a case of cheap domestic macrobrew and feel the cold judgment of a hundred shoppers. Even the cashiers treat you like a leper.

Aside from your wife and maybe the grandparents, nobody thinks it’s cute when your baby takes a huge dump. Nobody.

Just because you’re exhausted by the end of the day doesn’t mean you actually burned any calories. Like a bear preparing for hibernation, your body somehow captures and conserves every fat and sugar globule you eat. And “eat” is a very generous way of describing what you do to food while taking care of a baby. It’s more like what happens in the pie-eating contest in Stand By Me. You get as much food in your mouth as you can and just hope it ends up in the right place.

Photos and videos seem like a great idea, but they can be used against you in the court of motherly and grandmotherly disapproval. You take a picture of the kid being cute in her bouncer, and all grandma sees is that you failed to attach one of the 17 restraining latches. Videotape the baby rolling over for the first time, and all momma sees is that the baby is only six more rolls from leaving the mat and – gasp – touching the floor!

That's it for now. I'll report back as events warrant.

"That's My Theme Music. Every Black Hero Should Have Some"

The lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I took some out-of-town visitors to the Yankees-Orioles game this weekend. It was a lovely day -- 30 degrees, snow flurries, gale force winds, just a typical April afternoon around these parts.

Anyway. My wife, enjoying the sultry rhythms of the Yankees players as they approached the plate, turned to me and posed a really good question: "What would your at-bat theme song be?"

Man, that's a tough one. It has to be short and sweet, and something I wouldn't get tired of after, what, 150 home at-bats? Plus, there's the matter of taste. I suspect my initial choice -- the Beatnuts' "Do You Know Who You're Fuckin' With?!" -- might not be a family-friendly selection for the stadium. As an alternate, I'll go with that opening bassline from Eric B. and Rakim's "Check the Technique."

What about you?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Caption Contest

In celebration of Easter, here's a photo of the First Lady and friends, taken as always from the delightful pages of Dependable Renegade.

Have at them.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Mission Accomplished (Reason #83)

Is "oops" the proper reaction? (From CNN)

NEW YORK ( -- Despite claims by some critics that the Bush administration invaded Iraq to take control of its oil, the first contracts with major oil firms from Iraq's new government are likely to go not to U.S. companies, but rather to companies from China, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The Asian firms are at an advantage for several reasons.

First, less constrained by Western sanctions during the Hussein regime, they've been operating in Iraq and know the country's oilfields, said Falah Aljibury, an energy analyst who has advised several Iraqi oil ministers as well as other OPEC nations.

Aljibury said the first contracts likely awarded will be to the Chinese in the south central part of Iraq, the Vietnamese in the south, the Indians along the Kuwaiti border, and the Indonesians in the western desert.

What's the opposite of shame?

While observing Geraldo Rivera during this exchange, I felt...something. Some kind of confusing feeling bubbled to the surface of my mind. It wasn't the same kind of confusion I felt while watching Brad Pitt in Troy, but it was disturbing nonetheless.

Friday Random Ten

In the spirit of Easter, I thought I'd pass on this disturbing album cover from Li'l Richard. As you can see, this isn't Little Richard, but rather Li'l Richard, who apparently escaped from a cartoonish southern world in which Li'l Abner and Elvis Presley had a bastard love child.

And it's not just him, but his All-Stars! Normally, such a label would only refer to a supergroup of musical giants, but here it's apparently an assortment of stuffed bunny rabbit dolls. Because as any good Christian will tell you, nothing commemorates the death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ more than a sad collection of upholstered rodents.

Well, perhaps there's one better way, as Bill Hicks will tell you here. (Warning: Audio NSFW.)

Anyway, the resurrection of Li'l Richard can only mean that it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Let's do this thing.

1. Lightnin' Hopkins, "Come Go Home with Me" -- Some fairly straightforward blues here, just Hopkins and an acoustic guitar. Nothing too spectacular. 5/10

2. Of Montreal, "A Question for Emily Foreman" -- Dammit, I can't stand this band. Delete, delete, delete. 1/10

3. Bobby Womack, "You're Welcome, Stop on By" -- This song should get the shitty taste out of my mouth. A sultry soul number from a man who's probably best known for some of his blaxploitation flick theme songs, like "Across 110th Street." Only this time, instead of kicking ass, he's waxing it. 9/10

4. Stereolab, "French Disko" -- This may well be my favorite tune by them, a blistering bit of electronica with lyrics drawn from the French revolution. Somehow it works. They recorded a number of versions of this, but the best was one that only appeared on the four-song "Jenny Onodioline" EP. 10/10

5. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Gimme Some Salt" -- This is a live track from an appearance on WOXY. Their vocals always wander off into David Byrne territory, and this is one of the clearest examples. Very nice, if a little odd. 8/10

6. Nada Surf, "Popular" -- Hey, remember them? Me neither. 5/10

7. The Magnetic Fields, "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" -- A beautiful track from the mind of Stephin Merritt. Jangling guitars and a catchy hook, leavened by Merritt's melancholy vocals. Excellent stuff. 9/10

8. Madder Rose, "While Away" -- This group always seemed to reside at the exact midpoint between Mazzy Star and Bettie Serveert on the spectrum of sultry indie pop. Not exactly earth-shattering, but excellent background music for a rainy day. 7/10

9. TV on the Radio, "Ambulance" -- An a capella track from their brilliant first album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. I never would've thought this would work, but by God, it does. 8/10

10. Nina Simone, "I Can't See Nobody (Daniel Y. Remix)" -- As the Verve Remixed series made clear, there's something about Simone's discography that lends itself to fantastic electronica remixes. This is from a new album, Remixed and Reimagined, which tackles Simone's later work. It's a little uneven, but this new rendition is absolutely fantastic. 10/10

Alright, I was all over the place this week, rambling from here to there like a presidential press conference. Despite the early stumbles, I managed to pull it together with a 7.2 average. A Gentleman's C. I guess this really was reminiscent of The Decider™.

Let's see what you've got. Give us your own FRT in the comments, or whatever other thoughts you might have on celebrities like Bill Hicks and Jesus.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If only Bonnie came with it

For the right price, you can own a piece of my childhood:
KITT, the flame-throwing, river-jumping, talking muscle car from the 80s TV show Knight Rider, is up for sale.
Restored to its debut-season glory, the modified black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am is being offered at $US149,995 at a Dublin auto dealership.
Johnny "Vette" Verhoek of Kassabian Motors has had the car, officially called Knight Industries Two Thousand, on display for about a month.
It is one of four documented "camera cars" used for close-up shots and scenes where David Hasselhoff, who played Michael Knight in the series, was behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, every time Michael Knight hit "Turbo Boost," it ripped a huge hole in the ozone:
KITT isn't even street legal because of missing smog equipment and other modifications.

8 inches of hot...

...steaming shit.
A woman survived a fall from a sixth floor balcony when a pile of poo broke her fall.

The lucky - or unlucky - escape happened when the woman was hanging out her laundry.

She suffered only slight injuries in the incident in Nanjing, China.

"She landed in a 20cm thick heap of excrement," the Kuaibao tabloid newspaper gleefully reported.

Nice work if you can get it

Image if they only lost $1 billion...
Struggling Ford Motor Co., which posted a record $12.7 billion net loss in 2006, gave its new CEO Alan Mulally $28 million for four months on the job, according to the company's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Caption Contest

Even for Dick Cheney, this is incredibly creepy.

Have at him.

Update: Not surprisingly, John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey is all over this. He and his commenters are on fire.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

That word does not mean what I think it means

I had to read this a few times.
Experts attending an ongoing international conference on rapeseed say that China, whose annual rape production is 30 percent of the world total, should use farmland to manufacture bio-diesel, an effort that will reduce its dependency on petroleum-based diesel and cut emissions.

Rape is recognized by scientists the world over as one of the best raw materials for bio-diesel.

And since I'm uneducated in these things, I checked. It's not Chinglish.

Monday, April 02, 2007

"Excuse Me Miss, I Speak Jive"

As part of a lawsuit against Outkast's record label, Rosa Parks' lawyers submitted to the court a "translation" of the band's song "Rosa Parks" from the hiphop language into standard English. The result? Hilarity!

For just a taste, here's how the lawyers translated the song's chorus. Compare and contrast.
Ah ha, hush that fuss
Be quiet and stop the commotion
Everybody move to the back of the bus
OutKast is coming back out [with new music] so all other MCs [mic checkers, rappers, Master of Ceremonies] step aside.
Do you wanna bump and slump with us
Do you want to ride and hang out with us?
We the type of people make the club get crunk
OutKast is the type of group to make the clubs get hyped-up/excited
Be sure to check out the rest of the Andre-English translation and look on in despair.

A tip of my big pimpin' hat to Gorilla Mask for uncovering this gem.

The Empire's Worst Engineer

No, it's not FEMA's Michael Brown. But close.

With all the recent email dumps coming out of the White House, I thought we should provide some point of comparison. Here, then, is a smattering of emails from another evil imperial force -- the worst engineer in the Star Wars galaxy.

Enjoy it, fellow nerds. Thanks to Kung Fu Monkey for discovering this.

"Dan Quayle in Cowboy Boots"

Kevin Drum passes along this scathing appraisal of Bush and Cheney from the Washington Post:
"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."

Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."
Ouch. The best part? This wasn't written by some wide-eyed leftist. Nope, the author is Vic Gold, a longtime Republican operative who is a close friend of the Bush and Cheney families.

Or, given the scathing tone of this piece, perhaps that should read "... was a close friend ...." I have no doubt that the Halliburton hired goons are on the way to his door right now.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Chicagoans get some great commercials.