Friday, February 27, 2009

Piece Of Twit

I have to agree with my friend JVO about Twitter. I killed my account because I was wildly irresponsible with it and I was only on it because everyone I knew seemed to be. Beh. My foibles aside, he makes the larger point that Twitter posts are mostly the things we would have kept to ourselves, in the age before social media sites. Updating people on the banal minutiae of our lives may be addictive, but having an outlet for it doesn't make it any more compelling.

So, for any of you breathlessly awaiting my next, "eating Ruffles with french onion dip and watching Top Chef with Gwen" post, I apologize. I'll still apprise you of my bedtime on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CD's Nutschz!

When times are tough, people get back to basics. My suggestion for kickin' it old-school? Go music shopping. Before you ask yourself when the hell the CD became quaint, remember that most of us have been getting our music solely by downloading for many years now. After starting an iTunes search for one band that leads me to another and another and another, I have easily spent two hours, thirty bucks, and way too much time scanning some dude's "Shoegaze Mix". It's the reason record companies are going out of business, yet I have more than one Gordon Lightfoot song on my iPod.

But there is something irreplaceable about sifting through the racks and grabbing physical copies of whatever you dig. Getting out to the car, tearing the shrinkwrap off, listening to the opening strains while you scan the lyrics. ("Wow! They worked in nadir AND brucellosis") It's no revelation that your local music shop will have about a tenth of what you can find online, but vinyl aficianados and turntablists will spend hours in record stores with good reason- it's a ritual of sorts. Maybe it's years of handling albums and CDs in radio studios that has made me pine for the physical aspect of music, but it's an expedition that's definitely worth performing on occasion. Now that you're out of work, you've got plenty of time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1970's Clint Eastwood Is Pissed

While the nation continues its seemingly inexorable downward spiral into Dante's Inferno, it's good to know the people we put in charge are capable of swift and decisive action on the issues that will affect us the most.

No More Pet Monkeys

Monday, February 23, 2009

Does The Red Carpet Match The Drapes?

It must suck to work for E! Television at the Academy Awards. Their correspondents have to treat every celebrity utterance like it's the historical equivalent of the Zimmermann Note AND they have to work on "shows" developed by Ryan Seacrest. (For maximum absurdity, they put a PRE-Red Carpet coverage clock in the corner of the screen- "Countdown To Lisa Rinna & Joey Fatone". If only it was the kind of countdown that culminated in a detonation.)

As for The Oscars themselves? Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture, Robert Downey, Jr. loses to a dead guy, and Wolverine dances. You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tool Academy

It's the definition of irony that a culture unfamiliar with the term "camera-shy", and defined by unabashed self-disclosure online still expects some degree of anonymity. You know that Facebook picture of you and all of your drunk, white fratboy friends, throwing up the gangsta scissors? Lame. But people were freaking out over the story that Facebook would own that played-out nonsense.

It turns out the indignation was premature. Facebook clarified their policy, meaning that it's your call whether the visual chronicle of your douchebag exploits will stay firmly within your grasp or not. I suspect the latter is the safer bet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Burn After Reading

My friend Richard Florida (a former Carnegie Mellon professor who I met when we spoke on the same TV panel in Pittsburgh) has written a daunting vision of our financial future that bears reading.

How The Crash Will Reshape America.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

V to the D

I've discovered a few simple truths in life- force equals mass times acceleration, a puppy will extend the life of a senior citizen, and Valentine's Day is a bitch. Any romantic holiday named for a guy who was beheaded is not off to a good start. It's a day that traditionally comes as a source of consternation for millions of men required to express their love through some permutation of lingerie/chocolate/flowers/jewelry. Women are universally assumed to be the more evolved gender- despite still getting giddy around bright, shiny stuff- but their Valentine's duties are limited. And that's good; I don't need another pair of cupid boxers. Pretend to be comfortable in the "My L'il Dominatrix" outfit I bought you, and I'll be happy.

However, single people are forced to spend the day marching through this gooey, contrived, Hallmark-laden landscape with little or nothing to show for it. And that's good. Most of them will hook up with a random acquaintance by the end of the night, making their Valentine's Day much like the other 364 days of the year.

To me, that's the point- there's enough pressure on a relationship without it being imposed from within. Valentine's Day should be a day like any other, either with friends or with someone you love. Then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I, Barack Hussein Obama, Do Solemnly Swear...

The President just keeps getting COOLER.
(Warning: NSFW)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Puttin' The "U.S." in Stimulus

President Obama's first primetime press conference last night more than made you forget you were missing How I Met Your Mother; it renewed some muscle memory- this is what you get when adults are in charge. Discussing the stimulus package and deftly answering White House press corps questions for over an hour (probably longer than eight full years of Bush press conferences), Obama's tone was one of caution, but also of consistency. The subject of the stimulus bill is one so dense and convoluted, that none of us fully comprehend it; the people drafting it don't fully comprehend it. But to finally watch a commander-in-chief who is able to speak eloquently and honestly to the task at hand, with great specificity, is oddly comforting.

Obama didn't have the luxury of a honeymoon period. He inherited massive problems- domestic, global, and Joe Biden- which he was eager to tackle before he was even inaugurated. He doesn't seem to lament this fact. Consistent with his demeanor on the campaign trail, he has not promised easy answers, merely that difficult action is required. It remains an unfortunate truth that the American public are largely underinformed about their government, yet painfully aware of their vanishing influence on it. If last night is the template for how the Obama administration will regard the electorate, there seems a ghost of a chance that the public interest isn't merely a relic of a bygone era.

Thanks, guys.

Friday, February 6, 2009

First, The Wheaties Box.
Next, The Funyuns Bag.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has been suspended from competing for three months, after a photo surfaced of him smoking pot at a party. Hardly a punishment- ninety days of wake & bake- but, aside from Kellogg, none of his sponsors have jumped ship, and public opinion still seems largely in his favor. This is a good thing. Despite the myopic double-standard our culture maintains about drugs, (cocaine, bad; Ambien/Prozac/Celexa/Viagra/ad infinitum, good), the outrage over Phelps' high time has been largely nonexistent. The kid already has a DUI and he was hitting that bong like a pro, so he's no first-time offender. And Americans are clinging to any bright spots we can find these days, even if it happens to be a freakish-looking, overachieving merman.

The encouraging thing seems to be that people just aren't that bent about marijuana anymore. The more disenchanted the public becomes with Big Pharma, the more they realize that the pro-pot people still have millions of working brain cells. Rather than the traditional media mea culpa, Aquaman should embrace this temporary notoriety as a big "suck it" to anyone still clinging to Reefer Madness-era superstitions about marijuana. The guy takes the exact opposite of a performance-enhancing drug, and he still won EIGHT gold medals.

When the first two decades of your life consist of- eat, sleep, swim, repeat- you gotta be able to have some fun. Unless anyone expects Bill Maher or The Black Crowes to medal in fencing in 2012, Michael Phelps is the poster boy we NORML members have been looking for.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Shiver Me Tim-Brrrrs!

Winter in Chicago blows. But at least now, you can look
bitchin' and toasty

He's Just Mad That "American Psycho" Is On His Resume

Christian Bale goes shithouse on a crew member during the making of Terminator:Salvation, which is opening May 22. (How else is a Schwarzenegger-free Terminator flick gonna get any press?)

Frankly, I think he's good enough to say whatever the cock he wants. If you want proof, put The Machinist and The Prestige at the top of your Netflix queue. Plus, he's BATMAN.

Tumblr Full Of Hooch

Drink deeply, swashbucklers. I need a page like this.

(Thanks to the gang at Thrillist).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Messi-YEAH!

These might have kept me going to church. Sorry, Grandma.

40 Awesome Versions Of Jesus

Really Evil Knievel

Christina Raines, the 24-year-old "fiancee" of Drew Peterson, said they were never engaged and the whole thing was a publicity stunt.

Publicity stunt? Rock Of Love is a publicity stunt; Sarah Palin is a publicity stunt. Getting engaged to a girl while you're still a suspect in your last wife's disappearance isn't a stunt- it's a testament to Peterson's arrogance. He still doesn't think he's getting enough publicity. Any rational person in his position would want to stay OUT of the media spotlight and SHUN publicity. Hole up in your house with a year's supply of Rockin' Rye and Hot Pockets, and shut the fuck up. Peterson remains convinced that if sufficient time passes, all that "dismembered-my-wife-and-stuffed-her-into-an-industrial-drum" conjecture will dissipate, and public opinion will begin to favor him as a cuckolded husband.

For reference materials on another genius who was convinced he beat the system, see also: Simpson, Orenthal James.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Covering The Spread

Comcast in Tucson had to apologize for a porn clip that was accidentally inserted into Super Bowl XLIII. If you've ever been to Tucson (derived from an old Spanish word meaning "imminent suicide"), you know it's the most exciting thing ever to happen there.

See the video- (NSFW)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Artificial Light

Our last, best, angry men are gone.

After 9/11, I was being interviewed by Pittsburgh Magazine for an article on "heroes". I chose my mom, because she's badass. I also noted, as I consider myself a bargain-bin iconoclast and wordsmith, that my artistic heroes were Warren Zevon, Norman Mailer, and George Carlin. I'm not one given to hero worship, so I had no second string- when these singular voices and weary hearts were gone, I was tapping out. Zevon died in 2003, Mailer in 2007, and Carlin (in a completely random gift that I will cherish forever) died on my birthday last year. I identified with them so strongly because, while all three men were unparalleled at their craft, they were inveterate pricks in their personal lives. Mailer was married six times, with several mistresses and kids; Zevon, a violent alcoholic and narcissist of the highest order; Carlin was a drug addict and tax evader. Now, I'm in no way comparing myself artistically to any of them- I'd be unfit to haul their luggage- but I share their unfortunate tendency to cut a swath of destruction in the lives of those around me. As such, I embraced these men as if their art held secrets that could answer my own questions. Before spinning off into the ether, they had each made peace with both their libertine nature and the people most adversely affected by their sins. I admired their suspicion that there's redemption to be found in unflinching honesty, even if it's ushered in only after a litany of lies, betrayal, wanton disregard, and the disintegration of one's own moral compass. They gave me hope that those of us with even the most fractured character could be humbled and transformed by staring into the dark.

An old adage says, "religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel". These men didn't find god in their last days, because their salvation didn't have to be faked. My heroes are gone, and there are no pretenders to the throne, but they left us their maps. Now we're on our own. Rest in peace, gents.