Sunday, December 19, 2004

What will future retro be like?

Now that we have finally engaged full-throttle into 1980s retro, I have to wonder: is our current fervent embracing of that decade proof positive that retro is on its last leg?

Even while the decade was still alive and kicking, I had a theory about the 1990s: that it would be one of the least retro-ready decades ever. I see the past few decades in a structure similar to that of my second-grade spelling book: four fresh units with a review chapter. In this analogy, the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties all represent distinct eras with separate attitudes about conformity, dress, pop culture, politics, etc. The 1990s, on the other hand, is the review chapter: a decade so retro-referential that future generations will be hard-pressed to find anything truly original about it. What is the 1990s currently known for? Grunge, hip-hop, Monica Lewinsky and a shitload of retro crazes. Hardly the stuff of songs by Bowling for Soup.

I remember exiting 1999 with the feeling that the past 10 years had been kind of a cultural waste on a large scale. Any decade that brought us the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and NSYNC as cultural icons did bring along a sense of happy vapidity. I guess that was an unintended effect of the Clinton boom. Funny how those things work.

As I sit here typing this toward the end of 2004, I now realize how much I miss that silly decade. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this decade is utterly irredeemable and worthless. I have no doubt in my mind that this decade will not be remembered for its music, movies, fads or pop culture. Instead, it'll be remembered for its politics--The Decade of Terrorism. The decade when humanity took a backseat to aggressive action. The decade that people embraced Godly principles by adopting the most animalistic modes of vengeful behavior. The decade when hypocrisy became not only acceptable, but legitimate. The decade in which the changing of one's mind became inextricably linked with complete moral weakness. The decade that proved, once and for all, just how fervently people will lie to themselves in order to preserve the illusion of the abstract idea of "freedom."

We have five years left of the Bush Decade. Hopefully, future historians will judge this decade without the rose-colored lenses they currently wear. So let's make the best of what's left!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Do you believe I get published?

You know you want it Posted by Hello

Now that I'm officially in the snazzy-graphics business, I offer you a friendly reminder about my other great site, More Than Words.

Since June 2002, I have served as the liberal columnist for the University of Louisiana Vermilion. MTW is the online archive for all of my Vermilion columns, and is a great way to kill several days and billions of brain cells. If Not Right About Anything isn't soothing your online fix, then get help! But not before devouring More Than Words. It's good for the country and good for you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Good (Text) Book

While doing some homework this afternoon, I noticed a lot of scribblings in my rhetoric textbook. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that someone had blacked out all of the Es in "BCE." For the uninitiated, "BCE" stands for "Before Common Era," a secularization of "BC." Historians apparently noted that "BC" and "AD" (itself replaced by "CE") are a little too Christian for a world calendar, so they substituted them. And as is the usual practice in Louisiana, the evangelical Jesus freaks defaced my textbook just to show the world like to mark things. Just like the beast!

Thus sayeth the Lord: "She who writeth in ye margin shall ascend to heaven" (Scribbler 10:16) Posted by Hello

Click the above pic to enlarge it. It looks like that kind of perfect handwriting you see in ads that are made to look like they have handwriting on them. What you see is what I saw, and has not been altered in any way. I don't know who scribbled out the portion on the left-hand page, but I make it out to say, "When the world DIDN'T EXIST!" referring to the line "Around the tenth century B.C.E."

Even better, on page 43, this brave crusader crossed out "damning" in a sentence. Then she wrote "lindseybizilia @ hotmail" on the margin next to it. I take no responsibility for any hijinks that occur from that disclosure...I'll just say, to each their own, even if it makes my textbook hard to read.

Whatever happened to faith being a personal thing?

Friday, September 10, 2004

A military funeral

Joe's funeral card Posted by Hello

Today was the day they buried my friend Joe Thibodeaux, the local soldier who was killed in Iraq. As a veteran funeral-goer, I find that every service I attend falls into one of three categories:

1) The old funeral--at this service, someone lived to a very old age and death isn't entirely unexpected. People in this category are often terminally ill or otherwise lost it many years prior.

2) The "it-was-just-their-time" funeral--these people are often cut down in late adulthood (or even young adulthood) as a result of some short-term disease. Though the cause of death often takes hold quickly, it does give the victims enough time to come to terms with dying.

3) The "tragic" funeral--people who just plain SHOULD NOT BE DEAD. The decedent is usually young and dies in an accident of some sort or homicide/suicide. In this situation, a funeral service is the saddest; mourners really mourn and people really cry. Some are simply too shocked to express emotion. When military service or other heroics are involved, people cope by reflecting on the heroism and nobility of the cause of death.

Joe's funeral was most definitely a type three. It brought together several members of my graduating class in a tearful high school reunion. The service was conducted very well, with a wake at the funeral-home chapel. At 10:45, we all joined a motorcade to the church for the funeral itself. As we passed Lafayette High School, we were met with this:

LHS students greet the motorcade Posted by Hello

The entire student body, along with a 100-foot-high American flag and a Bette Midler medley, greeted us along both sides of the street. This picture doesn't do it justice; this was really AMAZING. During my time at LHS, we had greeted funeral motorcades more than once; but never with the reverence and the pomp that met us today. It was elaborate without being gaudy, and the students (for the most part) showed respect.

The church service was held at Holy Cross Catholic Church and was well-done. Joe's older brother Max, himself a soldier based in Washington D.C., gave the sole eulogy. He said that Joe was a kid who found happiness in "a fast car and having someone to hold." Max also told of the infant Joe's "ability to climb out of windows" and his ability to create a diversion so that he could do so. Joe, he said, was one who always lived at home yet yearned for something bigger. He joined the U.S. Army in 2000, quickly becoming a crack sharpshooter. He had even hoped to enter the Olympics as a marksman, I read later. Max delivered the eulogy dressed in full military brass and contained himself well, though he broke down at the end.

Afterwards, Joe was laid to rest in a part of the Lafayette Memorial Park cemetery reserved for veterans:

Joe is laid to rest Posted by Hello

Joe received full military honors, including "Taps" and a six-gun salute. The American flag draping his coffin was folded into a triangle and handed to his grieving parents, along with his uniform set in a triangular frame. He received two military honors posthumously: a Silver Star and a promotion to Corporal.

Even after the service was officially concluded, virtually no one moved. Never have I seen everyone gathered around a funeral tent remain static as long as we all did. Even though we were all sweating buckets in the high-noon Louisiana humidity, we all wanted to stay for just 10 more minutes and say goodbye to Joe Thibodeaux. Rest in peace, man. We love you.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

An easy question for once

Today I accessed this site from a university computer, and it looked completely different. To be specific, I'm used to Not Right About Anything being black with white text and a larger light-green font for headings. But on this computer, the site was white with black text, and the headers were small with bold black lettering, almost like the standard text. The site it most closely resembled was Zac Attack. Does anyone else out there see it that way? And what causes such a metamorphosis?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

All-time overrated songs

Being as I am a fan of retro music (I’m almost never in the moment these days), I find myself very often having to wade through the same…overplayed…songs…in order to get to one I really want to hear. You might know the feeling: you see a compilation CD you really want, because of the two or three tracks that just can’t be found anywhere else. But in order to buy those three songs, you also have to pay for the other 12 songs that you already own on six other compilations! It’s a crappy feeling, not unlike buying a new CD with one or two good songs and the rest filler. Man, illegal downloading looks better all the time!

Before we see the list, a disclaimer: the following is not (generally) what I think are the worst songs ever. This is simply a list of tunes that fall in one of three categories: 1) Their places in history have been unfairly inflated; 2) Their over-presence on play lists; or 3) That people, in general, get really excited when hearing them for reasons that are lost on me. Here are the ones that immediately come to my head:

Amazing Grace—John Newton
When I hear this mother-of-all-hymns, I think back to the death scene in “Silkwood,” because that’s where I first remember hearing it. The reason it’s on this list is not because I want to go to hell, but because to sing it, you have to admit that you’re a wretch. That’s not good for your self-esteem.

The Star-Spangled Banner—Francis Scott Key
A poem about bombs, explosions and pseudo-apocalyptic flag-flying, set to the unsingable rhythm of an old British drinking song. Doesn’t America deserve better than this?

Stairway to Heaven—Led Zeppelin and
The End—The Doors
The two songs that made it safe for self-indulgent rock stars to perform long and incoherent epics and win praise for their genius. “The End” was our eighth-grade class song, for reasons I will never understand.

Brown-Eyed Girl—Van Morrison
Probably the best song on this list, but it still drowns in hype.

I Will Survive—Gloria Gaynor
This disco ballad is apparently one of those “you had to be there” songs.

Space Cowboy—Steve Miller
Why do people go so crazy over this song? Drug use seems to be a common denominator.

Lady Marmalade--Patti Labelle
Would have been on this list even if Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil’ Kim hadn’t inflicted us with that torture of a remake. "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?" Mais oui, si tu fermes la bouche!

Come On Eileen—Dexys Midnight Runners
Some songs do well because they’re easy and fun to sing along with while drunk. That’s no excuse for the stratospheric popularity of this goofy song.

The Safety Dance—Men Without Hats
What can be said about a song whose video was medieval yet still contained a clearly visible telephone pole? And who can deny that there actually was no Safety Dance to speak of? “Pop Goes the World” was so much better.

Walking on Sunshine—Katrina and the Waves
Another good song that nevertheless makes this list due to its presence on every single 80s compilation ever made.

Prince is talented. This song has a cool message (you don’t have to be rich to be my girl, etc.) It’s still horrible. Give me “Money Don’t Matter” over this any day.

Red Red Wine—UB40
UB40's 26th-best song.

Smells Like Teen Spirit—Nirvana
This 1991 song is credited with setting off an era. Except that they’ve been saying that SINCE 1991.

You Oughta Know—Alanis Morissette
This 1995 song is widely credited with beginning the rebirth of an old rock staple: the angry girl who sings even worse than Michael Bolton. Alanis followed this up with “Hand in My Pocket,” which may be the single worst song ever committed to record.

My Heart Will Go On—Celine Dion
Leo made it difficult for a lot of guys to get laid in 1997-98.

Drops of Jupiter—Train
Just plain overplayed.

What would you consider “worthy” for this list? Unworthy? Drop me a line.

Friday, August 13, 2004

An anachronism in Athens

The following is an absolutely unretouched graphic from the MSNBC/Newsweek site as of this posting. Can you spot what, in journalistic parlance, is known as "an atrociously dumbass typo?" Hint: it might take you a year to figure it out:

Also in this issue: Kerry's first 100 days! Posted by Hello

I knew that venue construction in Athens was going slowly...but damn...

UPDATE AT 5:08 P.M.! The graphic has been corrected! Over there, anyway... tee hee hee...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Yes, those are real!

Does this really need a caption? Posted by Hello

What you are looking at is a very real piece of Clinton memorabilia. Sit down and let me tell you about it...

On October 27, 1992, a certain Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton came to Lafayette, LA to talk about running for some office or another. His appearance was the culmination of a Cajun-dance party known in these parts as a "fais-do-do." "Fais-do-do" is a Cajun-French term that means, literally, "go to sleep," originating from the fact that these parties went on all night and made you sleepy. The featured band was Wayne Toups and Zydecajun (or was it Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys? I always get those two confused).

Anyway, because my father was working for the local Clinton campaign here, he was one of the main coordinators for the event. This allowed my mom and I to get special passes to stand directly in front of the lectern with the most fanatical Democrats that this Republican-leaning city could muster. We were all given miniature American flags to wave; I also managed to finagle a bumper sticker from an NEA representative. Much to my surprise, only a handful of protesters were there. Many of them blew duck whistles while displaying "Clinton ducked the draft" posters. Ha freaking ha.

Night had fallen by the time the big man arrived. I don't quite remember what he said, but I remember thinking that he had a hell of a lot more stage presence than George Bush (hell, he even upstaged the band, something that's very hard to do in the Cajun heartland!). Following the speech, I nearly met an early pre-voting death as described below in the Secret Service column. After shaking Clinton's very HUGE hand (and repeatedly banging my head for not bringing a camera), I watched as a representative handed him my NEA bumper sticker to autograph. I still have it in a secure location to this day, and will post it as soon as I can figure out just where that secure location is.

As for the tag shown above, it is the security pass my dad wore for the event. On the back is the Clinton-Gore logo along with the phrase "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!"). My dad says he designed the tag, which I think even Clinton's people had to wear. Naturally, Dad had his tag signed by the Big Dog for posterity. The two allegedly talked for awhile, and given both men's propensities for going on and on and on, I fully believe it.

On those days when Dad and I are trying to top each other, he can always screech me to a halt by saying, "Yeah, but have you ever talked to the president?"

"Yeah, Dad, but did you talk to New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett and forget to tell him your name?"

Me with Coach Haslett, 5/16/03  Posted by Hello

"And don't forget that time I sat in Knight Rider!"

Me, my brother and KITT, 1985  Posted by Hello

As if I ever had a chance...Clinton's still the king!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Electoral College: Disaster 101

Here's a column that I hope to publish in the Vermilion closer to the election. Oyster expressed to me his support for the Electoral College, and so I promised him a look at this. I won't keep him hanging any longer (and I'm sure he was just holding his breath waiting...ha ha...). Oh yeah, I should probably mention that this is far from done. In fact, just to give you some insight into the writing process, I wrote much of the first paragraph probably a year before the rest of it. Sometimes you have tidbits that just don't fit with anything else, you know? But once you are finally able to connect it to a larger point, you get that warm sense of accomplishment. Kind of like when you pick up something with your toes.

The United States of America is a democracy only in theory. Very few institutions reflect this mode of government; the military, corporations, bureaucracies, churches and families operate under a structure of top-down management, with a few people or offices setting the agenda and using the bottom rungs as pawns to attain these means. Parents scream with fervor to their unruly kids, “This house is NOT a democracy!” Republicans and libertarians gladly remind us that “the United States is not a democracy but a republic,” as if that somehow justifies worship of our leaders. The people at the bottom of these pyramid schemes have no choice but to follow orders and have no voice whatsoever. All that’s left in terms of democracy is elections, and even those have come under scrutiny.

Still, we talk a good game about “the will of the people.” Except for the small fact that WE DO NOT VOTE FOR PRESIDENT! You think Election Day is on Nov. 2? Guess again! It’s actually on Jan. 6. And no, this is not one of those oh-so-hysterical Republican jokes about having all of the Democrats vote on Wednesday. No, this particular joke is called the Electoral College.

You have to love the Electoral College. We, the United States of America, supposedly the hallmark for free and fair elections by, of and for the people, hold tremendous support for a system that is in fact the least democratic or republican thing imaginable.

So, you might ask, what exactly are you doing in the voting booth? Look carefully. When you pull your lever for your chosen candidate, you are actually voting for the handful of names listed in fine print underneath. These people are called “electors” and they are more or less local; in fact, you may even know one or more of them. When you vote, you are voting for them to go to Baton Rouge on Jan. 6 and vote for your candidate. Only the electors for the winning candidate in your state will cast their votes.

Nationwide, there are 538 total votes, one for each member of Congress. Want to know the best part? THE ELECTOR IS NOT AT ALL OBLIGATED TO VOTE FOR THEIR PLEDGED CANDIDATE. Granted, most of the people who choose to serve in this position are so partisan that they make me look like a swing voter; however, change has been known to happen… “One man, one vote,” indeed. More like, “One state, one vote.”

What the Electoral College succeeds in doing is heightening the drama. Us Americans, we sure do like our drama! Remember that good old Reagan Revolution in 1980, when Ronald Reagan trounced incumbent Jimmy Carter 489-49 in the Electoral College? Man, you talk about a blowout! Except that it really wasn’t—the popular-vote count was much closer; Reagan amassed 43,898,770 votes to Carter’s 35,480,948. That’s 50.8 percent to 41 percent. Hardly a landslide. And those numbers shift depending on the source.

Likewise, Reagan whipped Walter Mondale in 1984 by the largest EC margin in history, tied with Richard Nixon over George McGovern in 1972. Of 538 electoral votes, Reagan nabbed 525, while Mondale grabbed a lucky 13. Not bad for a race Reagan really won 59 percent to 41 percent (54,450,603—37,573,761)!

Defenders of the Electoral College claim that it keeps the whims of the public in check. Yeah, wouldn’t want the public to decide, now would we? So much for the old adage that people get the leaders they deserve.

As a political-science professor once pointed out to me, “If you’re a conservative and you live in New York, your vote’s never going to count!” He did have a point. This works both ways and thus is yet a further argument for abolishing the diploma mill known as the Electoral College.

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers were smart enough to leave most elections to the popular vote. We only use the Electoral College for the frivolous presidential elections. Whew! I’d hate to see it being used on something important, such as on “American Idol.”

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Religious right gets one wrong

James Dobson of the notorious Focus on the Family is back with another call to action. A very old one, apparently, with a twist that's only a year too late! Guess it all blurs when your agenda is to turn America into a gigantic church.

Apparently we are to be allowed to watch TV programs that use every foul word in the English Language, but not the word "God."

Guess they don't watch PAX TV!

CBS discontinued "Touched by an Angel" for using the word God in every program.

"Touched by an Angel" ran for NINE YEARS, from 1994-2003. That's a lot of God for such a supposedly decadent network. What probably happened is that this rare long-running show was nearing its logical end. Or maybe it had low ratings. I doubt its cancellation had a whit to do with CBS deciding that "Hey, what this network needs is to piss off James Dobson!" Though that, I admit, would be reason enough for me.

Madeline Murray O'Hare [sic], an atheist, successfully managed to eliminate the use of Bible reading from public schools a few years ago.

Um, no. First off, religious expression has never been illegal in public school. What O'Hair and many others petitioned for was the end of FORCED prayer. A huge difference! Second, this is not some new effort. O'Hair (along with her son and granddaughter) was kidnapped and killed in 1995, and the bodies weren't found until 2002. As happy as I'm sure you guys are about that, it proves that the effort to end forced religion is not just the by-product of an athiest-fringe group.

Now her organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC. Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America. They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped. This group is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!!

If any one of you thousands of petition-signers bothered to do a Google-search on "Petition 2493," the first entry would tell you that it is an urban legend. This isn't even a new one; it's been around since 1975! Proof positive that the religious right relies on half-truths and hysteria to further its agenda.

Together we can make a difference in our country while creating and for the lost to know the Lord.

Lost? Hey, I'm not the one stuck in 1975!

Please do not sign jointly, such as Mr. & Mrs. Each person should sign his/her own name.

Aw, isn't that so cute? If any wife I might have EVER refers to herself as "Mrs. Me," I will immediately get a divorce!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Back from what?

I guess we gave up on Jerusalem, then?  Posted by Hello

Ever notice how the groups who always claim to "want to take America back" are never the ones who had it in the first place?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A parable for modern warfare

This wasn't so much a column as it was a skit; then again, I try to be unpredictable in print, so this may very well have been a column. It was written on 5/16/03, soon after Bush Deuce stuffed a sock in his fake flight suit and declared "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier near San Diego. Natch, it's all about the Iraq War. It may very well be the most naked satire ever written; but since when is nudity bad?

What if the War on Iraq was a typical gas-station holdup?

(Setting: A FUEL-N-FUN franchise, somewhere in America. A ROBBER storms in and guns down all but two of the store’s customers. The CLERK is an Arab-American male.)

ROBBER: All right, stick ’em up!

CLERK: Is this a robbery?

ROBBER: No, it’s a liberation.

CLERK: What?

ROBBER: A liberation! You know, I’m a liberator.

CLERK: And just what the hell are you liberating?

ROBBER: I’m liberating all of the food and beverages that have been held hostage here under your capitalistic tyranny! (Pause.) Now empty the register!

CLERK: You’re liberating the money too now?

ROBBER: Just do it! (CLERK swiftly empties money into bag and hands it to robber.) Now fill me up on pump one, please.

CLERK: You got it, buddy. (Pushes buttons on master pump board.) Thank you, and have a nice night.

ROBBER: You too. Appreciate it. (Runs out to car and begins pumping gas. CLERK stands stunned for a moment. ROBBER reenters store.) I almost forgot. One pack of Marlboro menthols, please. (CLERK hands over a carton of cigarettes. ROBBER heads toward door.)

CLERK: Hey, wait a minute…

ROBBER: (Turns head.) What?

CLERK: Didn’t you say you were here to liberate the merchandise?

ROBBER: Yeah, that’s what I’m here for.

CLERK: Well, then, how come you didn’t take any of that stuff? (Long silent pause. Then, in an accusatory voice:) It’s all about the gas, isn’t it?

ROBBER: No, the gas is just gravy. I’m really here because I care about the people who have to pay to get their food from you!

CLERK: Is that why you shot them all dead?

ROBBER: For their own good! But hey, you saw that one guy hug me and kiss me on the cheek. He’s happy that I have expelled you from the store!

CLERK: He only thanked you because you have a gun and you let him loot the store, dumbass!

ROBBER: Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but this store is sufficiently liberated. This store is now free to select a new clerk in a fully democratic job-application process.


ROBBER: Now it’s time to concentrate on Stop-N-Rob across the street. They need some serious upheaval. I mean, did you see the prices in that joint? Not only that, but they probably harbor the people that fled from here when I barreled in! Have a nice day.

CLERK: Well, hold on…I mean, you haven’t actually caught me. You just pushed me away from the register. Shouldn’t you nab me before you go across the street?

ROBBER: Nah! I got my gas, didn’t I? You’re irrelevant now.

CLERK: Gotcha. I’ll go call the police.

ROBBER: I already did.

CLERK: What?

ROBBER: I asked them for their help in this robbery to begin with, figuring they’d help me since they always have whenever I needed them. But when I want to commit one simple crime, they have the nerve to tell me no? Hah! Well, who’s the loser now? Ha ha ha! When you do see the police, tell them that sometimes you gotta act alone.

(Saddam Hussein portrayed the clerk. George W. Bush portrayed the robber. That Iraqi guy who shows up in every kissing-the-troops picture played one of the two store survivors. The United Nations performed as the police.)

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Bush's favorite John

Who's negative here? Posted by Hello

You have to love

The Kerry Gas-Tax Calculator...The John Kerry Travel Tracker...John Kerry on the Patriot Act...John Kerry: Wacky...John Kerry: the Raw Deal...Kerry Media Center...Kerry this, Kerry that...and that's just the home page!

And they say that Kerry is the one with no message of his own?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Stupid Useless Vehicles

Can anyone explain to me what is so appealing about SUVs?

Is it the lousy gas mileage? Is it that it gives the driver the feeling that, not only are they invincible, but that they must also actively hunt down every smaller car on the road? Is it the massive hugeness that surely must compensate for some personal shortcoming? Surely there must be a reason that Excursions and Escalades still sell in the era of $2 gasoline! Help me out here...

Just a Gigolo

This is the picture that, when I'm old, they'll look back at and say, "Man, look how young he was!" Posted by Hello

Monday, May 31, 2004

Test Post

This is a test post. This isn't exactly a fantastic debut, but I'm sure someday someone will reflect fondly upon my "blue" period. Hopefully someone besides myself, telling my kids the story for the 626th time.