Friday, February 27, 2009

Conversation with a Conservative (Monkey Edition)

"I don't understand why people are so uptight about that monkey cartoon."

"Well, it was pretty racist."

"What makes you think so?"

"Because the monkey is clearly meant to be Barack Obama."

"No, Ian. The monkey was clearly a caricature of the stimulus plan!"

"Which nearly every American and media outlet equates with Obama."

"The two are completely different things. It's not their problem if you conflate the two just to fit your own self-righteous cause."

"Conservatives seem to conflate the two as much as anyone else, if not more."

"That's because we don't want blame for the Obama stim...DAMN!"

"See?"

"It's just a label. The stimulus package was a team effort. It could just as easily have been attributed to Tim Geithner."

"But there would have been no joke then."

"What do you mean?"

"Are you aware of David Cross' letter to Larry the Cable Guy?"

"I love Larry the Cable Guy!"

"Right. Well, in it, Cross calls Larry out on his joke about being 'madder than a queer with lockjaw on Valentine's Day.' Why, Cross asks, does the person in question have to be gay, when it could also apply to women?"

"Because it's funnier that way?"

"To the right people, yes. There's no way the cartoonist didn't realize that at least some people would equate that monkey with Obama. The panel's practically winking at you to think that."

"You're making associations that aren't there."

"I imagine a lot of readers are making that association. You have to admit, it does add a layer of humor if you're a sick racist jackass. Also, it was in the New York Post, which, in the slaughterhouse of journalism, amounts to pet food."

"This whole thing stinks of false outrage."

"You might have a point if several merchants hadn't sold Obama-monkey T-shirts during the campaign."

"That has nothing to do with this cartoon."

"It has everything to do with it. Last year, we saw the anti-Obama movement hit new lows in criticism and desperation. From cries of socialism to outright racism, critics pulled out every conceivable stop to paint Obama as Not One Of Us. So forgive me if I'm skeptical of this cartoonist's motivations. I'll agree with you that he didn't cross the line, because there was no line left to cross. But that doesn't make it excusable."

"America has a proud history of acerbic wit and speaking truth to power. Are you insinuating that we should end all potentially offensive speech?"

"Do you read my blog at all?"

"Not since 2005."

"Oh, right. Well, I can be just as acerbic and offensive as anyone, believe me. But when I aim to be offensive, I at least try to be creative about it. And I don't insert racist angles and then blame my readers for seeing them."

"The chimpanzee was not racist."

"It looks more like Sambo than Bonzo."

"Well, what about the Bush/Chimp cartoons?"

"Those were funny."

"Gotcha! You're a hypocrite!"

"No you don't. What made those comparisons funny was that Bush was the leader of the free world, yet made primatelike facial expressions and acted at about a monkey's intelligence level. Obama does none of these things, so there's got to be another reason he's likened to a chimp. A really foul, racist reason."

"False outrage."

"Kind of like the false outrage brewing among conservatives over the economy?"

"I hope the Obama stimulus fails."

"I bet you do."

"DAMN!!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, Bobby Jindal logic

I am going to cancel my auto insurance tomorrow. After all, that's just bureaucratic meddling by the government. Who's to say that I need that to take my friends where they need to go? If anyone objects, I'll tell them Bobby Jindal said I can ignore the state trooper! I'll scream it if I have to!

Making that sovereign decision will put an extra $92 in my pocket per month. If I cancel my driver's license and my license plates, that's also more dough for me. And I'll put those savings into hiring illegal immigrants to mow my lawn. After all, Americans Can Do Anything!

I'm also going to learn to type with an accent that isn't mine, or anyone else's for that matter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

26 things I miss about Louisiana

1) My family and friends
2) Mardi Gras - in particular, being able to see it from my street
3) Zapp's Chips (also, Golden Flake)
4) Evangeline Maid bread (also, Meche's doughnuts)
5) New Orleans
6) Saints fans
7) Butte La Rose
8) Festival International
9) Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette
10) Shaking my head at local newspaper columnists (I still do this)
11) The cultural diversity
12) Football games, wherever they may be
13) Cycling as an extreme sport
14) Raising Cane's
15-26) Not being cold

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blah blah blah

Rule #71: P standing up
Note to libertarians: capitalizing the word "people" does not add legitimacy to your argument, nor does it make you Founding Father-y. There's a profound difference between the preamble to the Constitution and your letter to the editor about allocation of local sewerage fees. In your case, the only capital P should be in "Podunk."

Rule #72: What a waste...of syllables
"Sewerage" is an absurd word. Do city councils also talk about "welfarare?"

Rule #73: Adults back in charge
At least for the time being, reporters have to say "Obama White House" instead of just "White House." Yesterday, when the administration was reported as fighting back against CNBC's Rick Santelli, I defended him out of habit - which should never, ever happen. Gross! But I guess this is a good problem to have these days.

Rule #74: Bully bears
TV financial analysts have to be boring again. Much has been said about the power of Democrats to kill the economy with a mere shrug of the shoulder, yet people like Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer leaping around screaming "socialism" and "We're gonna die!" has no effect? What's worse is that these guys are treated as experts. And maybe they are, but I can tell you from personal experience that being on TV is not as hard as it sounds. It's kind of like writing horoscopes; they seem sacred until you write them for your middle-school newspaper. If I want to see people hysterically jumping around panicking about money, I'll look in the mirror.

The rest of the rules

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My friends, the dumbest book ever written

If you were ever a kid, you probably remember the Scholastic Book Club or school book fairs. They offered paperbacks and other fun stuff you could buy, such as Mad Libs or books about trucks with actual functioning wheels. One year, I got Bucky the Bookworm, who you controlled throughout the story as a finger puppet. Imagine that; a book you could actually finger! Hot. These fairs and mailers were my absolute favorite time of the school year, because I loved books then and still do today.

One favorite of both my older brother and myself were the biographies. Marketed toward children, these tend to skirt controversy and go for the feel-good stuff, which would perhaps explain why our book on Bruce Springsteen had him quoted as saying he keeps his presidential vote a secret. Regardless, even in these sanitized little fanbooks, you could glean some fascinating and true information about your favorite stars. (For example, in the WWF book Kings of the Ring, we learn that Hulk Hogan is a saint, Big John Studd has some lessons to learn and George "The Animal" Steele is in no way putting on an act and you should avoid him on the street.)

Dumb the kiddie-bio genre down by a factor of 1,000, and you have Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley. It's published by Zondervan, which is apparently run by Charles Colson, which means Jesus is the real hero here.

This biography is a very worthy of the woman who was only a landslide away from being vice president. And what I mean by that is, it's inarticulate, half-assed, unjustifiably worshipful and (surprisingly, given that last one) completely unauthorized.

I've had this book on loan for six weeks now, and I just cannot bring myself to mock everything that needs mocking in it. After all, it's 204 pages, and every sentence deserves a brutal breakdown. Unintentional comedy lives even in the index (Jet, luxury, 176; PTA gets almost as many references as John McCain) and sources ("Sarah Barracuda's 1982 State Championship"; some guy's amateur gun blog with "blogspot" misspelled as "blogspost" in the citations; other things Sarah has never read). Oh, and don't forget chapter names: "True North Never Changes," followed soon after by "Change Constantly"; "Weakness is the New Strength"; glorious nonsequiturs such as "Sacrifice Ambition to Get Ahead" and "Mean It Like You Say It"; and my personal, irony-free favorite: "Leadership Isn't A Beauty Contest."

One early passage encapsulates the true essence of this tome: John McCain's announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate at the aptly named Nutter Center at Wright State University. Apparently, the announcement was as much a surprise for Palin as it was for everyone else. I guess she just thought she'd scored a free trip to Dayton, Ohio, for no reason, and not because she suspected she was a candidate for the job or anything.

A few feet away, the woman in the stands behind McCain continued to watch. Above her dark and glistening eyes, tiny wrinkles creased her forehead as she listened, anticipating the next line, trying to figure out whom he was describing.

It takes literally seven pages for McCain to complete his short speech. Why? Because passages like the one quoted above pack the chapter like chaw in a redneck baseball player's cheek. And is just as pleasant to read.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, here's how Hilley describes the setting:

Located in America's heartland, Wright State was named for two of the nation's most innovative minds, Orville and Wilbur Wright.... [McCain], like the Wright brothers, was an aviator. What better place for a pilot to enjoy a momentous occasion? The Wrights had been first in their century. He was about to be the first in his. It was a hint no one in the audience seemed to catch.

I too had a hard time catching on, and I'm in the future, with the book right in front of me!

The unintentional thesis of the book opens Chapter 3: "When Sarah Palin walked into her first meeting of the Parent Teachers Association, she had no idea where life would take her. One can only imagine how she must have felt."

Well, you could have asked her, but then again she probably would have answered it with, "I feel all of my feelings with a great appreciation for my ability to feel feelings. Some people think, in Alaska, that it's too cold to feel." So perhaps Hilley did the right thing.

Subsequent pages are relatively unremarkable, except that they follow this template: 1) Her grit, moxie, pluck, spunk and determination in running for some chair or office; 2) Several philosophical paragraphs about what it takes in general to run for chairs or offices; 3) A few sentences about what she did once in office; 4) Several philosophical paragraphs about what someone in office needs to be able to make tough decisions. Within this book is a pretty decent civics-class-level booklet on how to be a leader; too bad the occasional Palin bits have to break it up.

There are also anecdotes on basketball games and Trig. As you might expect, these are given the same exceptionally rapturous weight as the McCain announcement. One assumes that the excised "paper or plastic" chapter will appear in the 2012 sequel, "Sarah Palin: Still a New Kind of Leader."

On page 164, Hilley deconstructs Palin's appeal and the seismic cultural phenomenon not seen in GOP circles since Ronald Reagan:

Since she is authentically herself, what voters see in Sarah Palin is what they get. The thing that surprises people is not their assessment of her - that assessment is rather accurate. On paper, she has been in over her head in every office she has held. Rather, what surprises people the most is the connection she has made with voters. With hand-lettered signs and a band of volunteers, she took a town and then a state by storm.

This, surprisingly, is followed by a mild criticism of her "Bridge to Nowhere" remarks: "The notion that she would describe that incident with a nuance that glosses over actual facts," - be gentle now, Joe - "in an apparent effort to gain points with her constituency, leaves a hint of doubt about the authenticity and transparency of her other policy statements." The ethics scandal over attorney general Gregg Renkes, furthermore, "suggests once more a question about the accuracy of the way in which she portrays herself as 'just a hockey mom who showed up and got involved.'"

Still, as Hilley concludes just two pages later, "Sarah's story is truly American. A story of a small town girl making good." Oh, OK. So I guess it was accurate, then?

After reading (and sometimes skimming) through Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader, I've decided I want Joe Hilley to write about my experience writing this review. I think it'll go something like this:

"When Ian McGibboney first cracked into Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader, he had no idea where life would take him. One can only imagine how he must have felt cracking those pages. He obtained the book from the Springfield, Missouri Library Center. Center is also a basketball position, and the 2008 Republican National Convention was held at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. These signs of destiny would be apparent to Ian only much later. At the time, however, he wasn't sure if he would make it all the way through the book. On paper, the book seemed over his head. But for anyone to make it through a book, they have to know how to read. They then have to learn how to achieve goals, such as making it all the way through a book. Ian was able to do that, having learned from his many years of book fairs. Like the wheels of his truck-book selection in kindergarten, Ian's drive kept spinning. Soon enough, he delighted in the end of his creation, a review that would wow the Americans who read it. Jesus Jesus Jesus."

Oh, and the book also features a transcript of Sarah Palin's acceptance speech to the GOP convention. Pre-spittled for your convenience.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our one day of the year to love

I've been in a relationship on Valentine's Day once in the last 12 years. And even then, it meant I didn't get to meet Ali Landry and Mario Lopez at a Mardi Gras party (my brother says one's way friendlier than the other). Another year, I was dumped on this day.

So screw Valentine's Day.

OK, maybe that's a bit harsh. There's a lot I like about V-Day, precisely because there's a lot I don't like about couples. I'm all for love and affection, and desire it as much as anyone. But there are enough couples in this world who exhibit nasty traits to make the whole relationship thing seem slimy.

I suppose it's no accident that few of my close friends are married - of the ones who are, most got married before I met them. Some are in relationships, but they share a lot in common and that makes them both fun to be with. It's hard to see good friends slip into marriage - especially if the spouse is someone you could honestly take or leave. Before you know it, your only contact with this person is the twice-daily MySpace meme on how wonderful their husband and ironing are.

(Cut to: IAN's apartment surrounded by an even number of angry, torch-wielding couples fresh from their by-the-numbers romantic dinners. They shout in unison, "Why do you hate love?")

Put my apartment down, please! You're spilling ice cream all over my eHarmony membership.

Love and lust are great, but the institution of couplehood can kiss it. Here's what keeps me from joining the Ranks of the Even:

--The formalities. Guys in relationships wear suits and ties more often. Presumably to couples' dinners where couple shit probably happens. Sounds positively riveting.

--Scientific studies show that the blood of married people secretes a mysterious enzyme that raises their bedtime by several hours. It also helps them live longer, which means they'll have extra years to go to bed early.

--If I get perks like good travel deals, preferred tables at restaurants, tax breaks, better wages and more paid downtime, I want it to be because I'm awesome and not because America penalizes single people in every way possible.

--I want people to understand that I totally dig the person I'm with, and didn't feel pressured (as many do) to enter a relationship or marriage for its own sake.

--The idea that, to show my love, I have to waste two months' salary (or, in my case, five) on a shiny bauble with no intrinsic value mined by African slaves and sold by a cartel.

--Arguments over money. Tell you what: Stop nagging me about finance issues and I'll forget that you're wearing a useless, expensive rock on your hand. Deal? Deal.

--I am not half a person. Neither is she. We don't complete each other, nor are we diamonds in the rough waiting to be hewn for all eternity. We are two people who like each other and who like to do things together. No more needs to be read into it than that.

Bottom line, if I like a girl enough, and she likes me, we will go out. But even when I'm in the deepest relationship, I try to remember that I am an individual and she is, as well. And we'll have fun that way. After all, isn't that the point?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

This gives new meaning to "Kidz Bop"

These days, it's difficult for me to enter a library or bookstore. Why? Because I'm bitter. I want to write a book, have it published and watch it rocket up the best-seller lists. And not for vanity's sake, but because a book is one of the few products left that can actually contribute to the betterment of societal intellect. Despite falling sales (or maybe because of it), it seems easier than ever to bleed at the double-edged sword that is today's publishing world.

And that's precisely what irks me. Bookshelves are straining from the weight of books based on blogs. Many of them are great - as broke as I am, I recently bought the Huffington Post Guide to Blogging. Great book, by the way. Very functional, practical and, as you'd expect from the HuffPo, compelling. So compelling, in fact, that I can cheerfully overlook that my own blog already had several hundred posts before the Huffington Post ever went online.

What's less forgivable are the multimillion-dollar deals going to the one-note blogs that started last Friday. On one recent trip to Borders, I saw Stuff White People Like sandwiched next to Obama is My Bicycle. These books are cultural phenomena, and both were the results of absolute larks on their respective creators' parts. In a struggling economy where print media is groping to stay alive, these books are powerful testaments to the new direction of social satire and commentary.

Bastards.

Don't get me wrong; I like Stuff White People Like. The reflexive property at work, kids. I laughed my ass off when I discovered that blog, even if by "white" he clearly means, "Brooklyn hipster." If that guy really wanted to capture the true essence of white people, he'd throw some southerners in there. But I'm not here to inspire Stuff Jena White People Like or any myriad of Stuff spinoffs poised to take all 10 spots in the New York Times best-seller list for the next 20 years. As it is, I'm perturbed that most of the best blogging books now are based on ridiculously simple premises. Premises similar to those I rejected when creating this blog because I thought they'd be too pointless.

Anyway. On to a real point.

Now making waves in the ocean of ink is a new dating book...written by a nine-year-old. Alec Greven says he's too young to date, but his book How to Talk to Girls is a New York Times best-seller. My immediate impression upon seeing this was to grab the nearest beer bottle, funnel its contents, smash the bottle and slash my wrists with the shards. It hurt. (Then I realized a kid wrote it...ZING!)

But after bandaging the wounds, I realized the book actually redeems my faith in humanity. After all, most dating books are written by those who have become jaded and embittered by the experience (in other words, they've dated). This kid hasn't, which is why his tome springs from a much purer place. While dating gets harder to decipher with every passing year, the basic principles you learn when you're young never go out of style. Be a gentleman. Be charming. Treat her like she's special, because she is. Get circle-circle-dot-dot germ shots to protect against pesky STDs. Because most men never escape being nine years old anyway, we should all rush out and buy this book. But take your woman with you, lest Alec Greven makes a move on her while you're out. You know he will, and that you won't stand a chance! Act now!

Another reason Greven's success gets me excited is because I have PILES of scrawl I wrote as a kid on subjects I didn't know the first thing about. Like the manual on boxing I wrote when I was about eight, based entirely on the Atari "Boxing" game and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (Sample tip: "If you can't land with your hands, try punching with your head.") Or the primer on bowling I wrote in second grade just before I hit the lanes for the first time ("A strike is bad, because that's not scoring"). Or the story about cooking cornbread ("She put the stove to six degrees"). Or the love songs I wrote pre-puberty ("Dating is Fun and Not Torture").

Should be a gold mine. Someone fetch me a canary!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Commercial radio: the reason iPods were invented

Some guy on the radio (Clear Channel affiliate, natch) just spouted some indignity about the government wanting to use stimulus money to buy what he said derisively were "green golf carts." Of course, the article he links to on the station's Web site says the $300 million would purchase an entire fleet of hybrid cars for the government, and that the "golf carts" are, in fact, sophisticated battery-operated vehicles and represent a tiny fraction of that spending.

In his press conference, Barack Obama defended such purchases by saying they create jobs and reduce energy needs at the same time. Anyway, the percentage allocated for such pursuits is much smaller than the hilariously unprofessional headlines at the New York Post would suggest. (And yes, I'm aware it's a tabloid. Even so...)

Good for Obama to not back down on this, because the blowhards calling for more tax cuts forget (or don't care) that stimulating the economy isn't just about putting paychecks in rich people's mailboxes. Investment in our infrastructure is the very best way to do it. The new cars in question, for example, are the Ford Escape and the Chevy Volt. Somebody's gotta make those cars. I hear Detroit has a few folks lying around. Sure, it's no strings-free bailout to corporate executives, but perhaps it'll work. At the same time, it'll make the government more energy-efficient and, ultimately, less costly to maintain. It's called a smart investment. We are all about that, right? Let's at least try it.

The DJ's rant was followed immediately by a commercial for U.S. Automotive. It consists of two vapid women talking about cars. One has a red warning light glowing in her car, and doesn't know what it means. Fortunately, she giggles, she doesn't ever have to know! She can just call U.S. Automotive, and they'll take care of it for her! The commercial ends with the friend saying she'll keep the company in mind, at which time a clank suggests a huge part (the transmission, maybe) has fallen off her car. "Call U.S. Automotive!" she says far too perkily.

Personally, I hope the red glow they saw on their dashboard was the "fasten belts" symbol. Fools and their money are soon parted.

Yes, people thank W

IthankW.com in much fewer megabytes:

"He always did what he thought was right, not what was popular."

"He worked to keep America safe."

"He ran this nation with dignity, honor and respect."

"He is a Godly man with high moral values."

"He protected us from another 9/11."

"I thank W because he was hand-picked by God to lead our nation during this turbulent time of human history. I thank President Bush for not bowing to popular opinion and for standing by his God-given convictions. This was not an easy task - it was selfless and put him in the position of being hated by many. But, he did what was right in the sight of God and protected our nation from untold danger and calamity." (Kudos to this person for actually being somewhat original, even if I can't stomach the other 7/10 of her comment.)

I highly recommend this site, both for its humor value and its apparently earnest look into the mind-set of perhaps the most deluded sub-set of voters currently littering America. But mostly for the laughs.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Arrrrgh...

That's it. I've had enough of the contrarians.

Who are contrarians? They are people who, in every conceivable situation, will find something to bitch about. In fact, the better the situation, the more they will find fault with it. They will even contradict themselves if not doing so means having to say, "You're right," or, "I'm happy with the way things are going."

Contrarians are everywhere. They were the ones who gave serious thought to voting for John McCain, even pre-Sarah Palin, because Hillary Clinton didn't get the Democratic nomination. They sit in bars in Pittsburgh, moping over how the Steelers could have done better this season. They jumped with joy when they learned Barack Obama had been elected president, but by the time they hit the ground they were already listing his failures in the Oval Office.

Look, I'm not innocent of this behavior. But as I'm coming to understand the difference between smart, healthy skepticism and blanket, reflexive disgust, I'm veering towards the former. When George W. Bush was president, the difference between the two was not so obvious. When a president does almost nothing right and nearly everything in the wrongest way possible, it's easy to just be pissed all the time. It's as if many expected Obama to be a complete reversal of Bush - which would make him perfect, essentially - and therefore couldn't handle a president who occasionally took an action that they disagreed with.

The stimulus plan has become a lightning rod for criticism. This is completely understandable, because the plan is faulty, as all drastic fixes for this economy would be in some way or another. And I expect Republicans to balk at, say, the fraction of a percentage going toward contraceptives. I expect conservatives to call for more tax cuts instead, which is their cure for everything (including the healthy economy Bush inherited).

But I'm more than a little perturbed that many Obama supporters are so quick to jump ship.

I may have missed that meeting where all progressives got together and calibrated their brains to contrarian - after all, I have to sync with the liberal media - but it looks to me like some people have gone off the deep end. Some have suggested that we cannot be true to ourselves if we aren't constantly berating our leaders. Funny...I never criticized Bush because it was expected of me; I did it because he deserved it. I had no idea that all this time the whole idea was to fetishize the act of criticizing, and that I was supposed to be as brutal to Obama as I was to Bush, whether or not the circumstances warranted it. I always tailored my responses to the situation before me, as opposed to knee-jerk pissing and moaning. My bad.

The implication is that being in power, in and of itself, is suspect. Which is an understandable viewpoint, given the abuses of recent decades. But just as the right often completely lacks subtleties in debate, so do the left-leaners on this one. And the fact is that not only can we have leaders who uphold our values, but we must have them. If making the nation and the world a better place is truly the goal, then we do nothing just jeering on the sidelines at everyone who walks by. Honestly, though, sometimes I'm not sure if that is the point.

One comedy Web site had a contest for users to submit 2012 campaign posters. My personal favorite was the Obama logo, captioned with "SAME...Obama '12." It's very funny, but it speaks to what I think too many progressives are wetting themselves over too soon: the idea that change is somehow over, and that we'll be hypocrites for not demanding change four years down the road. This is one unfortunately poisonous thought that some liberals and conservative nutjobs alike share: that change came and went. That those who advocate change must always advocate for it, lest they be hypocrites. But isn't the whole reason we wanted "change" rooted in the fact that Bush was a disaster? That's what I thought, at least. I wasn't aware that maintaining earnest support for the change that resulted suddenly made me establishment. And thus, part of the problem.

Well, Obama isn't going to save the world overnight. I have laundry that's been dirty longer than Obama's been in office. The president started off by acting quickly on some major, obvious moves: shutting down Gitmo, removing the abortion gag order on overseas family planners and opening up presidential records, just to name three. Signing those papers takes very little time, but results will always be a process. Which is why it steams me to hear the self-righteous bleating of conservatives and libertarians who ask so smugly, "So where's all the change your boy promised?" And why I'm all the more pissed that smarter people actually buy into this flawed framing of the debate: "Well, uhhh...Obama deserves a flogging, because I feel lied to!"

Progressives must make peace with being in power. If the Obama administration is able to use it for good, even if he slips up once in a while, then what's the problem? Don't tell me our system's been corrupt and needs to be fixed, and then immediately spit on our best solution just because that's what you're used to doing. Let's be watchdogs, but watchdogs who can tell the difference between family members and burglars. Otherwise, we'll once again blow our chance and may even wind up with the lipstick-wearing pit bull. And is that really worth the risk?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's hard coming up with a blog title for these

Rule #68: Where isn't the outrage?
Conservatives have to add some proportion to their uproar. Lately, the ones I know are all angry and indignant about the fact that some of Obama's appointees owe some taxes. And, yes, that can be an important issue (ironic though it is, coming from the drown-government-in-the-bathtub types). But to hear some of these critics talk about it, it's like Tom Daschle spent April 15 chewing on aborted fetuses instead of filing his returns. It's been jarring seeing right-wingers froth at the mouth equally for so many years over issues as disparate as illegal immigration, abortion, flag burning, Saddam Hussein, public schools, Terri Schiavo, gay-pride parades, terrorism, food stamps, the Second Amendment, haircuts, solar energy, the inheritance tax and scarves. It's almost as if the cause is unimportant, as long as it lets Grade-A anger spew forth. And it's probably no accident that they all get mad at the same things so reliably on cue, such as, "Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that he used on his own people!" or "Barack Obama threw his grandmother under the bus!" Or whatever else Hannity or Rush tells them to get angry about today.

All I'm saying is, you need perspective. Otherwise, people are going to think you're an irrational mob fueled by an anger that you seem to enjoy and can generate from just about anything. Unless, of course, that's the point.

Rule #69: Let the Eagle Bore
Republicans must create one good song. Do whatever it takes. Get a liberal to write one for you. Hell, I'll do it, and not ironically, either. I just feel sorry for you guys for having to pretend that "Bush Was Right" and "Raisin' McCain" are passable songs. After all, what's the point of even having a big tent if "Barack the Magic Negro" can clear it out within seconds? Take a cue from your party's sudden interest in black people and visit a gospel church. Check out a concert in an arty city. Watch will.i.am videos on YouTube and take notes. You saw the Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl halftime show! Get a sense of the lyrical innovation and spirited delivery that all good music shares. You may be forced to think and dance, but roll with it anyway. After soaking that all in, sit down, set your talking points to a funky beat and get the best musicians who will cooperate to cut a slammin' phat beat. Only then will you create a masterpiece worth getting its funding cut.

Rule #70: Semantic antics
"Results-oriented" is not a phrase to be used by humans. Because I'm pretty sure it describes every job, task, product and natural process in the known universe. Although a job that involves obstructing people and processes sounds pretty awesome. But even that reaps results. If a car manufacturer isn't bragging about having wheels on their vehicles, then no one should brag that their career involves results. OK, bad example with the car companies these days, but you know what I mean.

67 more rules

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

This is not a tomato



But it does look exactly like one I currently have in a baggie in my refrigerator, and ate from just yesterday. I may never eat tomatoes, or anything else, ever again.

The breakthrough behind this pic is pretty cool, and you can read about it here. But make sure you eat beforehand.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

25 things about me - Dynamite edition

1) I keep things until they fall apart, and sometimes well after that. I drove my pickup truck for years after parts began falling off of it. I spliced snapped cassettes back together as early as age 12 (that still work), and not long after I rigged a clothespin to turn on my first CD player once the power switch fell out.

2) Sometimes gum disintegrates in my mouth. This tastes horrible.

3) After living in Missouri for two years, I've discovered that even many people I thought had no accent in Louisiana do have one.

4) I didn’t have a Social Security number until I was nine years old.

5) My car emits a jingle when it's hydroplaning. Because I’d never guess it merely from the total lack of control.

6) When I look back at the happiest times of my life, they were usually in times of economic hardship and/or when my friends were going through difficult times. Sometimes I wonder about that.

7) One of my best friends told me that, of all the people she's ever known, I'm the hardest to read. Which explains many dates I've been on.

8) I couldn’t ride a bike until I was 10 years old. When I hit that age, I became obsessed with learning how. I still remember every moment of the day my grandparents brought home a bike of my very own. I haven’t stopped riding since.

9) My grandfather, a World War II veteran, built his house in 1947 and lived there until his death in 1999. The night after he died, I found a crate of live dynamite from the war sitting in an armoire next to the dryer. I spent half my life at their house and so had entire generations of my extended family. Some things you’re glad you never knew.

10) My least-favorite song will often run in my head for hours at a time. Even when it's a song I like, though, it tends to be my least-favorite part of the song.

11) I’ll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on my little sister. There’s nothing that even remotely compares to that.

12) I’m undefeated at Trivial Pursuit.

13) I used to date a German woman, and we once watched “Sprockets” together. She didn’t get it. So we put in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was even more awkward.

14) When I was 12, I tried to install a smoke alarm in my bedroom. Not knowing any better, I plugged the copper wires (meant for an insulated ceiling setup) straight into an outlet. It worked. I pulled it out and ran over to tell my mom of my genius. When I demonstrated it for her, a fireball of sparks shot out of the outlet. She freaked and said I was going to burn down the house. I didn’t sleep for the next day and a half. No, the house did not burn down. Yes, it would have been ironic if it had.

15) I want an IMDB page. It is one of my goals in life to earn one.

16) I would love to sit at a table with Barack Obama and talk about absolutely anything at all. It has little do to him being president. He’s just so versatile, and I’m inspired greatly by anyone who can hold court on such an intellectual level.

17) I’d like to better the world. I have no idea how to do that. I know that protesting, working phone banks and making donations don’t appeal to me at all. I’ll have to find some other avenue of change-effecting.

18) I watch the Super Bowl for the game. When Scott Norwood missed the last-second kick for the Bills in 1991, I sang to the tune of “Lady Willpower”: “The kick was no good / Scott Norwood! Never!” When Plaxico Burress caught the winning TD pass for the Giants last year, I jumped several feet in the air and did a spontaneous cheerleading routine. I didn’t care who saw.

19) I met Arthur Ashe, the first black singles player to win Wimbledon, in sixth grade. He came to my school to promote fitness. I remember thinking what a healthy man he was. I had no idea he was dying of AIDS - he disclosed it only months later. He died exactly a year after I met him. I still have the sports almanac he autographed for me.

20) I often do my job in my dreams. Which makes me glad I’m not a butcher or a telemarketer.

21) I worked fast food for two months. When I worked the register, I’d often get tips and phone numbers, as well as compliments on my voice. It almost made up for the extreme shittiness of the job. But not quite.

22) When I was little, I thought my family was rich. I had no idea how little we had. But we sure did a hell of a lot with it.

23) As much as I love technology, I miss the days when public places meant meeting people and newspapers mattered more. I always feel a little guilty when I go to the YMCA with my iPod. Of course, even the old people have them on, so maybe I’m not missing much.

24) I’m really into biographies of famous people, because I want to know how they succeeded. It reminds me that they’re just human beings who weren’t afraid to go for what they were after.

25) I have a reputation for being a horrible liar, which is exactly what I want you to think.