Secrets of Defective Writing

NEW 69

"Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power."
-Eric Hoffer


      Y'know, the Scalzis and Carrolls and such of the world amaze me. They can write when they don't want to. Or maybe I'm just projecting--I can't write when I don't want to, or at least not write sucky. And guess what this post is!
      A sense of duty post, the kind that comes when I don't want to write, when I don't have anything to say, but when I've skipped a day and feel that I have to. Like if I don't, all 50 of you are going to pack it up and never come back, and go get your brains violated by Instapundit or Lileks.
      Or I could be causing you to do that by posting drivel. Which is worse, drivel or nothing?
      Hmm. Drivel would be worse. So I guess that I should stop typing, and delete this.
      But then I won't have anything posted, leading to Result #1.

      I didn't post Saturday night because I got home late, and was tired from extreme physical exercise. Okay, okay, I went bowling with the coworkers. How good a bowler am I? I'm very bad and very good and at the same time. My scores ranged from 47 to 135. I get as many strikes as I get gutter balls. I assume that this means that if I bowled more frequently than...every 8 to 10 years, I might actually get good. But the brag "I bowl really well" strikes me as impressive as "I wash my car very thoroughly," or "I've read every issue of People magazine." Or "I've got an award-winning website that you've never heard of." It's just not a skill anyone cares about, unless they're predisposed to care about it.
      Billboard spotted by the bowling alley exit: "Life's too short to eat anywhere else!" for a steak house. Odd choice of a slogan given the Mad Cow scare. How about "Eh, you'll die anyway! Better sooner than later! Free SpongiformBob SquishBrains toys for the kids!"

      This morning, Byron broke yet another irreplacable object. In fact, in was an Inexplicable Object! One of the "Psycho Ceramics," which fortunately is one of the more forgettable entries. But still. This breaking of shit habit of his is intolerable. Kill Kill did this, but it ended by the time she was 4 months old. He's twice that age, and he just keeps getting worse.
      The problem is that the only way to discipline a cat is verbally, and--well, he's got a bit of a deficit there, correct? When Killsy starts to misbehave, I just say "Hon-EY!" a certain way, and she stops what she's doing. But Byron--Him! He just doesn't get it, as he's deaf.
      After today's destruction, I left the house and decided that the only thing that I can do is box up every breakable object in the house. It defeats the purpose of owning them, but I'd rather have them stored intact than smashed on the floor.
      I wasn't home 5 minutes before he pulled the shelf above the monitor over. And smashed another 40-year-old and irreplacable tchotke. TWICE IN ONE DAY!! A new personal WORST!
      Yeah, I was livid. He breaks shit pretty much continually, and I'm goddamn SICK OF IT! For once, I yelled and he paid attention. He looked afraid, and I'm sorry, but I'm glad that he WAS. BAD BOY! I assume he was picking up on my body language and not the voice he couldn't hear, but I continued going off. If this is what it takes to get his attention, so be it. He got enough of my disappointment in him that he scampered away from me twice. Then he moped for quite a while by my feet, like Kill Kill did after one of the few times she did something bad and got a speaking-to. Then he jumped in my lap, eyes cast downward. "I'm sorry, you get no pets," I said. "That's part of your punishment." That lasted a whole 5 minutes. After a bit of petting, he buried his face in the crook of my arm, and eventually went to sleep. Just like Killsy did when she'd been a bad kitty.
      He's been very sweet and loving since. Time will tell if I've actually gotten through to him on the "Bad Boy!" issue.
      Everything's going in boxes either way. Kill Kill destroyed a spider plant and broke a lamp in her first 4 months; Byron's killed a spider plant and broken at least one thing every 2 weeks for 7 months. I'm going to have to live in a house with everything in boxes for a while. Maybe as long as he lives.
      Given the options, the stuff can stay in boxes for the next 20 years, if that's how long he lives. That's a fair trade. He's a good little boy who just doesn't know how to be a good little boy.

      So. Now you see why I didn't want to post. I've got writing cooties! (whatever THAT meant) To completely change the subject to a page you prly read regularly anyway, John "Bill Called Him a Poopie-Head!" Scalzi proves why he gets paid to write, and I get paid to sell Bukoff: He looks at the decison of Georgia to ban the word "evolution," then gets hit by some Creationist I.D.iots. Sadly, not the lovely flame war one might hope for, as the IDiots are relatively polite and intelligent. But that just proves that you can be not rude, not stupid, and yet still be as ignorant as a hairless possum in a burlap sack full of brass doorknobs (whatever THAT meant). Then he gives them a nice dose of the scientific method, right upside the haid.

      ...And just as I'm going to bed
      "Bad boy"? How about "little bastard"?


      When I think "bowling," I think of Ralph Kramden and his simulacrum Fred Flintstone, and neither of those images makes me think "physical fitness." But, damn, I ache! I feel like I missed a loan payment to Fat Tony, and he sent a pair of his "bank officers" to remind me of my payment plan by having a long discussion with my inner thighs with tire irons. The only pain I noticed while playing was the weight of the ball on my fingers, and the pinching of those shitty shoes. You can strain muscles by speed-walking 3 feet and tossing a ball?
      And why does my butt hurt? I'm aware that the gluteus maximus is a big-ass muscle--in fact, a big ass muscle--but how do you strain it? The chairs weren't that hard!

      I went to the SalvArmy today and bought something for the new Don't Let Byron Get It! Program. He destroyed my DVD of Kiki's Delivery Service recently. He'd knocked it off the coffee table, smacked it open, ripped one of the plastic DVD-holding-swingy-things out (you know, the kind that they have in 2-disc sets. Cuz Toe-zilla can't be bothered with destroying DVDs that aren't special editions!), removed the DVD, then scratched it all up. He left the supplemental disc alone. Crafty lil' bugger.
      I found a VHS cabinet. Byron also hates VHS tapes (or, conversely, loves to play with them. Yes, he busted up one of those and pulled the tape out). I thought about it, and decided that I wasn't going to find too many of these around in the DVD decade. It was still mint in box. How old? It had a Zayre*s price tag on it, and they disappeared in the late 80s. It didn't have a UPC on it. It assured me that it also would hold Betamax tapes. It showed a Betamax machine on the box. It was so 80s that when I opened it, I fully expected to find Steve Guttenberg inside. But it was empty. So instead I found Steve Guttenberg's TALENT! Ah-hahaha!, your one source for cutting edge Guttenberg mocking! "What a country!" Pass me the Jennifer Beals leg warmers!

      I should point out that that second shelf Byron pulled down last night was one I was thinking he might pull down next. I didn't act quick enough. But, like the computer, he's crawled around it for 7 months. That's the gist of the nub of the thrust of the argument: He does this shit out of the blue, and you can't protect yourself from that. Unless you remove the breakables.
      I figured that the next thing to go before I got boxes from work would be the White Cat Collection. I boxed it up last night, then placed it out again today. For one, last, sad time.

      That's most of the collection, along with an Ultraman clock and the most important part of the White Cat Collection. There's a few grey tabbies mixed in, but I guess that my days of collecting breakables are done. The trio to the right was bought just yesterday; a little white cat, a sorta-grey cat, and a big doofy-lookin' cat with a Pee-wee Herman bowtie. I bought it because it represented my family, the Lost and Found, with me being the doofy one.
      I bought it yesterday, and today it went into a box, to not see the light of day for years.
      There's a slim bookcase that I bought specifically to display certain things. It'll be an empty bookcase tomorrow. For posterity, here's what it will no longer hold.

      Top shelf. Biplane, wind-up duck, Godzilla, Sherman tank, tribble.

      Second shelf. Religious theme: Saint Barker of Shins, one of a million Singing Nun knockoffs from the 60s (it's a music box that plays "Dominique" quite tortorously). Bad framing prevents you from seeing Aerobic Jesus in the background, which was shown here once but I can't find where.

      Shelf the third. Most of these were in the same InExOb as the first of the things Byron destroyed yesterday. If I leave this up, this will be the shelf that takes the most hits. The key next to the creepy Kilroy guy is for one of the 2 wind-ups in the background. One's a cowboy and horse, another a big bunny.

      Here we skip down to the bottom shelves. Note the disorganization. Note the torn package of the Godzilla Lip Balm. Note the traces of kitty litter. Note that these are the shelves that Byron has already got his paws on...

      The Alcoholism Shelf! There's a Nathan's Famous Hot Dog dressed like a cowboy and my Cthuhlu Pez there, but it's otherwise novelty boozing items. They look to be from the 60s, although the flask might date from any time since the end of Prohibition. They say:

      And away it all goes tomorrow, to the realm of boxes.

      This is all over the net already, and justifiably so: Making Light on getting your writing rejected. An interesting read whether the subject matter directly relates to you or not. The "Reasons why editors reject books" is particularly funny.

      Mimi found something that she accurately describes as "INSANE GONTERMAN IS BACK!" Warning: Viewing may result in vomiting, self-eye-gouging and/or brain-clawing-outness.


The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

      Not to brag, but that's where I figured that I'd end up.
      I was very religious until mid-high school. Then I read 2 books that changed me into an athiest in only 2 years: Dante's Inferno, and the Bible.
      How you can think that the Bible is the Word of God and not also go insane is beyond me. It contradicts itself so much that it starts doing it in the first chapter of the first book. Were the animals and plants created, then Adam then Eve, or "unnamed humans" simultaneously, then animals and plants? They're both there, right after each other.
      "Limbo" in Dante's Divine Comedy also puzzled me. Most of the people there are there because they were born before Christ. Isn't that God's fault? As I remember, it never answered what happened to Moses (maybe it did, as I didn't finish it. I finally gave up saying, "This is called the Divine Comedy because it's such a goddamned JOKE!"). He and the rest of the Jews must've gone to Heaven, but by Dante's logic when they rolled out that Brand New Testament, they should've all gone to Limbo. And what about the Jews after 33AD? "Sorry, Abraham, but they all have to burn. In 2000 years, Mel Gibson will agree!"
      I don't know how I got "HIGH" on violence. The only vaguely pro-violent question I answered in the positive was agreeing that "Some people deserve to die." If it'd been phrased, "Do you believe in the death penalty, as it's used in America?" my answer would've been No. Do I believe in the death penalty when there's absolute certain, proven, admitted guilt for terrible crimes? Sure! Do I believe OJ Simpson was innocent? No. Do I believe that, in the American legal system, an innocent poor person gets the same justice as a guilty rich person? NO! But do I believe that the truly evil and smugly guilty should die? SURE! Give me a hypo full of cyanide, the Way-Bac Machine and the home addresses of Mrs Hitler and Momma Osama and their new-born babes, and let's see how The Butterfly Effect plays out.

      Couldn't remotely give less of a shit about the Stupid Bowl; didn't watch, don't care. At least not beyond how pathetic CBS' excuses not to run MoveOn's ad now really seem. Oh, and yeah:

      Umm, by which I mean, Izzle Pfaff! says it better than I could. As usual.

      Via Kirk: I'd seen the historical science on the subject of "abrupt climate change" before, but not the possible nightmare scenarios that Global Warming may be causing right now. The Pentagon's looking at it, as it may lead to an Ice Age, mass starvation and continual war.

      Faulty intelligence has catapulted the United States into war all too many times before. On Slate, so...arrgh!
      It puts in exactly and no more facts than the author wants to. It leaves out a lot of facts that might reflect poorly on the whole reason the article's being written: The lies that led to Iraq.
      It doesn't mention that Grenada happened 2 days after the deaths of 200+ Marines in Beirut; Grenada had nothing to do with Grenada, and everything to do with a smokescreen that would let Reagan's handlers sneak America out of Lebanon. The Mayaguez happened immediately after the fall of Saigon; it had nothing to do with hostages and everything to do with reminding the "gooks" that we were all-powerful (and we proved we weren't, losing more soldiers in the rescue than hostages we saved). The Gulf of Tonkin is the closest version of Bush's War; it was a flat-out lie with no other purpose than to get America into a war with North Vietnam. Interesting how the article skips over the next closest analogue to Bush's War, the Bay of Pigs. Which is also the only example out of all the ones listed where the CIA actually wanted the war more than anybody else. Then it goes to the old right-wing bugaboo, "FDR knew about Pearl Harbor because...he was a Democrat!" Then we're on to the Zimmerman Telegram and the Maine, without one mention on how much a corporate-controlled mass media played in inflaming both those incidents into American wars. Because the message is, it's always the intelligence that's bad, and never the media or the administration! Uncredited byline: Karl Rove.

      Hmm, much activity in the comments. Sorry, I've got some boxes that need to be packed with breakables before the next disaster...

      Oh yeah, I just won a copy of "Comic Book Artist Vol 2 #1" on eBay. For 40% of the cover price. It contains an article on "the worst comic book ever, Tod Holton, Super Green Beret (!)" It'll be added to the proposed SGB site, when I find the missing issue.
      And I will. I mentioned finding my lost carved Tagua nut white kitty (front center and very small in the front of yesterday's picture) after 9 months of lostocity. Yesterday I found the coin box key I was given at work the day we got the coin box. I put it on the bedroom desk. Byron played there early that morning, and the key hadn't been seen since October. I guess he batted it far away from the desk back then, and just recently batted it back to the center of the floor. SGB #1 will turn up soon enough.

      I tried answering the Inferno Test as best I could using both Dubya's public persona and what's been proven that he's covered up from his misspent youth, and here's the results. Hardly scientific, as in this test, it isn't if you go to Hell, but where in Hell you go.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Eigth [sp] Level of Hell - the Malebolge!

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Level | Score
Purgatory | Moderate
Level 1 - Limbo | Very Low
Level 2 | High
Level 3 | High
Level 4 | Very High
Level 5 | Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis | Very Low
Level 7 | High
Level 8- the Malebolge | Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus | High
      "Many and varied sinners suffer eternally in the multi-leveled Malebolge, an ampitheatre-shapped pit of despair Wholly of stone and of an iron colour: Those guilty of fraudulence and malice...who are whipped by horned demons; the hypocrites, who struggle to walk in lead-lined cloaks...Some wallow in human excrement. Serpents writhe and wrap around men, sometimes fusing into each other. Bodies are torn apart. When you arrive, you will want to put your hands over your ears because of the lamentations of the sinners here, who are afflicted with scabs like leprosy, and lay sick on the ground, furiously scratching their skin off with their nails. Indeed, justice divine doth smite them with its hammer."


      Wow, it's like the departed spirit of the SHAWT arose to haunt me today. Not like the level of the Exorcist, unless instead of making my head spin 360 degrees it gave me a leg cramp as soon as I awoke. It just sent me a steady stream of low-level stupidity. The grim avenging spirit was like Poltergeist, except that it could only be bothered to move the floss.
      After the painful leg cramp (I have a very low threshold of pain. I would confess under torture even if all they did was threaten to tweeze my eyebrows), I turned on the NOAA Weather Radio in the bathroom. You'd think that when the "Steven Hawkings joins the Cylons" robovoice wants to tell me that there's "a winter weather advisory for all of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island," they'd actually say that. Instead, DJ Droner lists every seperate county in each state, and it takes more than 3 minutes to actually get to the forecast.
      But what could I expect? This is a government organization, and efficiency is not their watchword. The first thing I heard when I turned it on was, and I quote, "The 11AM weather at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks was Sunny. Repeating the 11AM weather at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, it was Mostly Sunny at Bradley International Airport." Wait! Was that third Bradley International Airport the one in Windsor Locks, or the one on the Flying Island of Laputa? They must be different, given that it went from Sunny to Mostly Sunny in only 3 seconds!

      Then it was senile old lady day at the Boozateria! The first came in to return a bottle, and B., the...Mananger Prime, I guess, as I've never worked in a store where everyone has such specific job duties without anyone having an actual job title. Apparently, it breaks down top to bottom as B., G., me, T., "and the rest, here on Gilligan's PreDeTox!" Like the Professor and Mary Ann, there only are 2 more. I'm drifting here, aren't I?
      Old senile lady returning bottle, and B. cuts her off. Apparently I've missed this certain bit of psychodrama up till now, but she returns everything she buys. "I'm not taking any more returns from you! You brought back 5 boxes of box wine, saying that there was glass in them! That's it, no more!" B. is a nice guy, but also THE most high-strung individual I've ever seen. We might get the wrong bottle in a delivery, which is a simple thing to correct, but both the profanity and spittle fly in high volume. We could end the energy crisis if we only could find a way to power cars using B.'s blood pressure spikes.
      I'm only mentioning this as it was Senile Old Lady vs The Dynamo Powerhouse, each step escalating higher into the stratosphere, each repeating everything that they just said every step of the way. "You bring things back constantly!" "I don't think 'constantly' applies to me! You have me confused with someone else!" Repeat-as-unneccesary, raise volume every 5 seconds. Then B. correctly pointed out that she'd ripped the foil off of the bottleneck, and that we couldn't sell it.
      "I'm sure that he has me confused with someone else!" she said, dragging a very silent Splut into their nonversation. (I just invented a new word! "Nonversation," when 2 people yell back & forth, never actually saying anything to each other!) "What kind of wine is this?" Suddenly, I was giving a lecture on the inherent characteristics of the pinot grigio varietal. This--unsurprisingly--went on longer than expected, then suddenly veered into "I got this as a gift. Can I give this as a gift?" You can use it to wash your damn gorilla for all I care lady, but, Yes. "But you said the foil is off the top! How can I give it as a gift?" and we went into ANOTHER improv riff.
      I'd like to say "long story short" here, but that'd be a lie. There was no way to shorten this. Finally, she kept the bottle and bought...some bag in box wine. "Oh, this box, it's bloated! See how it's bloated? Why is it bloated?" To a not-senile customer, I'd've pointed out that a case of 4 5-liter wine boxes weighs a lot and the warehouses stack them real high and they squish blah diddy blah, but why bother wasting Gourd's good oxygen when the damn thing's coming back in a few days "with glass in it"? (Note: Bag in a box wine is a BAG in a BOX, the first plastic, the second cardboard, and GLASS never crosses its steadfast path of BOXY BAGNESS. It'd be like returning your new car to the Honda dealership because you've decided that the engine's made of SUSHI. And the sushi's made from ROCKS.)
      I described the incident to T., who instantly knew who she was. "A few days ago, she returned a bottle of Cavit pinot grigio because 'there's glass in it!' No, I said, that's CORK! You used the corkscrew wrong, and there's cork in it! "Oh no,' she said, 'that's GLASS floating in it!!'" Note: If it floats, it's probably not glass. Glass is pretty, y'know, non-flotational in its commonly observed state. When she brings back the box wine, maybe the things she sees floating in there will be "Churches! Lead, lead! Very small rocks!" I'm just going to squint, then scream in horror "NOOO! SEEEA MONKEEEEYS!!"
      And there was a second senile old lady, but she repeated herself with even less variance, if you can gourddamn believe that. She wanted us to open up a bottle of shitpagne (champagne is not the word for $4 Andre), and ducked every time the bottle's neck was pointed anywhere near her Zip code. You'd think it was a bazooka. This damned thing was like some sort of puzzle box; the only instructions said "READ BELOW" and if you read below, it mainly said "Open bottle." She asked dozens--no exaggeration here, DO!Z!ENS! of times, "What does that say?" Maybe she'd forgotten her glasses, more likely she'd lost her mind, as I kept repeating "It says to NOT POP THE CORK WHILE HOLDING IT ONE INCH IN FRONT OF YOUR EYEBALLS WHEN OPENING." I got the foil stripped off and there was this...thing I'd never seen before. Sorry, I'm a big snob and buy Cook's, the champagne that comes with a normal fucking cork and COSTS A WHOOOLE DOLLAR MORE. I can't open this because back at the mansion, the maid does it for me!
      It was Rubik's Cork. It had this metallic thing on top of it that I guess was the "Hood" referred to in the precise instructions, "Remove Hood." There was no strip to pull off it. I tried making one with a razor knife, but all I got was a tiny strip and some minor bleeding. All it seemed to do when turned like a cork was turn. Turn, turn, turn, to every season comes a crazy old lady. Here begins the part where Senile Old Lady II Electric Boogaloo says, "You need to remove that part." Repeat, and I can't stress this enough, repeat that 80 BILLION TIMES. Those exact words. "I can't figure out how to remove it!" "You need to remove that part!" "I can't figure out HOW to remove it! All it says is REMOVE HOOD!" "You need to remove that part!" "I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO REM--Okay, YOU try it!!" If you're the lady and then insist on holding the bottle, fruitlessly twist the top like everyone in the store has and helpfully advise, "You need to remove this part!". And include the constant demands "What does it say there?" "It says 'READ BELOW! Don't point the cork at your HEAD!' AGAIN!" Hey, Einstein with a degree in Removing That Part, do it yourself!
      Abruptly, one of us got it open. (He's one of "And the rest!" so I guess that makes him the Professor) He wasn't sure how he did it. But when he did, Senile II: The Alzheimering said "I TOLD you to take the top off!"
      Next time you're on your own, Grandma. We were already thinking of alternate ways of opening your damn $4 of spumante, and most of them involved parts of your skull. It's not like you're using all of it as it is.

      The best read of the day is Norwegian dirtheads and the Frum/Perle "End of the World" tour, which reviews 2 books on 2 disparate subjects--or not. Trust me, read it. It's funny and smart and crazy people are involved.

      Read it and weep: What's worse, Gonterman's gooey-eyed-and-beveraged look at "Dogulas Adams" or the fact that Disney is making a movie of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy? Outside of the fact that they'll hack it down to 2/2.5 hours, the script is written by the Chicken Run guy. That was the most predictably plotted movie I've ever paid to see. Ford is played by by rapper Mos Def.
       Probability of decent adaptation a billion to one against, and RISING! "Your mouth will thank you forever!" (bites, chews, chews slower and slower) "You know...I think that the Dentraasi really hate the Vogons." (spits it out)
      Okay, I'm enough of a dork that it took me until the third time I read "Mos Def" before I realized that it probably was pronounced a la "MOST Def," and not like "Mos Eisley." Oh shut up, some of you did it too.


      "The most curious thing you notice when cruising Fort Lauderdale with a 12-foot jury-rigged statue of George W. Bush on a trailer is that people delight in giving you the finger. Sometimes, they shout at the hulking, smoking giant, resplendent in a spray-silver flight suit topped by a sort of lampshade, big as a garbage can, depicting that vacant gaze times three. Other times, they honk, then flip you off. And at still other moments, they raise the middle digit and then notice the fans in the back of the statue's pants that blow about strips of orange fabric to suggest flames.
Gradually the premise of the 'Pants on Fire Mobile' hits them."



      Is Byron staring at a bright shiny new dime on the entranceway to the condo? I wish, as I'd now be 10 cents richer. He's looking at the reflection of the overhead light in the 3 inches of water that's flooded the floor.
      Of course, this is Byron the fearless, Byron the water-lover, Byron the...guy who didn't graduate Cat College with the same GPA as Kill Kill the Einstein Cat if you get my drift, so this is after he just jumped damn right in that 35 degree ice water. While KKat watched in horrified disbelief from the second floor.
      It could've been worse. It snowed today, then changed to rain. Not freezing rain, just old cold rain. It could've been better, as there was so much rain and snow melt that my garage flooded. Stepping out of the Mercury to open the garage door, I said "Damn, ain't walking in that!" and walked to the front door, saw an equal depth of water, said "Damn, ain't walking in that either!" and realized "Damn...I'm walking in that either way. In leaky old Converses."
      Secrets of Defective Writing Tip #1! always end with a snappy sentence that both summarizes and comments on what you've written! Alternately, log off and go to bed, waiting for both the sneakers and kitten to dry off.


      "But David Kay did report to the American people that Saddam had the capacity to make weapons. Saddam Hussein was dangerous with weapons. Saddam Hussein was dangerous with the ability to make weapons. He was a dangerous man in the dangerous part of the world."--President Chim-Chim, on Meet the Press. Saddam Hussein was also dangerous with the running with scissors!
      "He was a dangerous man in the dangerous part of the world." Jesus fuck. They've got $200M for the campaign, maybe they could spend a few bucks to buy him some brain cells?

      I saw The Triplets of Belleville today. It's sublimely ridiculous, grotesquely beautiful, surrealistically coherent. I fully plan on going to see it again tomorrow, and I never do that. I can't begin to describe it, so I won't describe it.
      That would also destroy the point. The plot is so minimal and the jokes so carefully set up that I wish I hadn't read Ebert's review before seeing it. (One joke--involving footwear--takes the entire movie to pay off) It's definitely a "you'll love it or instantly despise it with all your being" movie, although the large audience (for an art house) that I saw it with certainly seemed universally happy with it. It reminded me the most of City of Lost Children and Delicatessen, another pair of French films. Live action films, yes, but both by the same creator, who was a comic book artist before becoming a director. Especially like Delicatessen--almost everything was there for a reason that would pay off later.
      But was it a French film? I saw credits for France, Canada, Belgium, Latvia. Okay, maybe that's like implying that The Simpsons are Korean. But I've noticed that the few reviews I've read (and I don't intend to read many more--this is a film that defies description) seem to think that Belleville is New York. This seems to be based on the establishing shot envisioning the Statue of Liberty as a female version of Bob's Big Boy, raising an ice cream cone and a burger. But the architecture isn't caricatures of NYC buildings, and either all the language would be in English or French, not a melange of both with French ascendant. It's Montreal! Where, of course, the director/writer lives. I wonder if the European French consider the French Canadiennes to be more American than French...
      At any rate, see it and see it in a theater, if at all possible. The amount of detail in every frame is astonishing. 'Kay, again, may not be to everyone's tastes. It's not frenetically paced during much of it, as things tend to build gradually. If I do see it again tomorrow, the test will be to see if the more deliberately paced scenes move more slowly (sign of a not-classic movie) or more quickly (my favorite movies seem to speed by all the faster each time I watch them). Whatever you do, whether you're lucky enough to see this on the big screen or rent it when it comes out, do not walk away before the credits end. Outside of hearing a kick-ass version (or, as the Frenchies say, "version d'âne de coup-de-pied") of "Swingin' Belleville Rendezvous," possibly the only song to have the chorus "Voodoo Ca-ca So Taboo," you'll also get to see one final joke.
      This is the only movie soundtrack that I decided to buy before the movie ended since Ed Wood, and you can tap your toes to it while watching the trailer. It gives you a bit of what the movie's like without spoiling it, even if this the darkest-looking trailer transfer ever made. Nice job, Jobs!

      The Top 50 Monkeys of All Time. Yeah. Like I wouldn't link to that.

      "What's the difference between homosexuality and a ham sandwich? This isn't the setup line for a joke. It's an important question for many Christians who consider their Bible in its entirety to be God's authoritative word." Based on the funniest part of the Bible (and the part that made this former devout Catholic start saying "What the fuck?!" as he read it), Leviticus. This is the part that forbids homosexuality and also eating grapes that have fallen on the ground. It notes in passing that Paul in the New Testament is against the homo gay fags, too. It doesn't note that 1) Paul was the only Apostle to have never met Big J; 2) Paul's former job was persecuting Christians, so listening to him is no different than getting advice on the Torah from a newly kosher Heinreich Himmler; and 3), Fundies aren't Christians, they're Paulists. All that "love thy neighbor" stuff went out the stained glass window when Paul fell off his horse, and was replaced with "convert the heathens or kill them" shit when another former Christian-killer, the Roman Emperor Constantine, was converted. Converted after the time GOURD helped him slaughter his enemies.
      Constantine converted after having hallucinations, Paul after severe head trauma. Draw your own conclusions.


      I don't want to be here. I guess that I have to grudgingly admit that there's a connection between sleeping more than 10 hours in a row and Young's Syndrome. What that connection might be, I dunno. But there seems to be a definite causal relationship. And that SUCKS. We love sleeping!
      It wasn't like I had a choice today. Byron always sleeps with (or on) me while Kill Kill usually doesn't. But last night, they curled up next to me and each other, laying on their sides facing in opposite directions, their legs extended and intertwined. They were holding hands four times over, and I had a hand on each of their backs. There's just no way to wake up from that.

      So light posting tonight. I could barely get my ass out the door to gas the car and buy groceries. I bought my food'n'stuff then remembered the whole and only reason that I'd gone to the damn store. I needed tin foil (for cooking, and my hat!). So I went back and bought some Reynolds wrap through the self-serv robo-register. "To pay for this item, please place it on the belt!" said the Cylon voice. A suspicious store employee came up to make sure that I wasn't stealing it. Yeah, I'm stealing it, that's WHY I SCANNED IT FIRST. Like if I was going to steal a car, I'd rent it from Hertz.

      FuckedWorld looks a particularly moronic NY Post editorial.

      MoveOn's petition to have Congress censure Bush over the WMD lies.
      These things always ask you to "pass them on to your friends," so I pass it on to our teeming audience of 50. Question: Should I? Do you get these progressive "action alerts" anyway? Do you think that they're a waste of time? Does the fact that I get emails and actual mailings from my Congresscritters in response mean that they're paying attention to the volumes of mail, or am I just wasting my own tax dollars and the time they could be spending actually acting on these issues? Or would they ignore the issues if I did?

      Because of sleeping in, I didn't go to Jiffy Lube; because of feeling crappy after sleeping in, I didn't see Belleville again. How did I spend most of my day? Scalzi made mention of his online novel Agent to the Stars a few days back, and it hit me that I'd never read it. Around the time that I meant to, he began serializing his soon-to-be dead tree book Old Man's War. When it was over, I kinda forgot. But I read it today in one sitting. In contrast to the violence and action of OMW it's a comedy, and I had a big smile on my face for most of it and several good laughs. It's literally about what the title says, a Hollywood agent chosen to put the best PR face on a mankind's first contact with aliens. Who could be said to have good hearts and quick brains, except that they don't have hearts or brains. And they look--and smell--like "tuna Jello." (I kept picturing the aliens as looking like the old InExOb Tonguey--"Who's Wobbly, Who's Slimy, Who has that special smell-o?")
      Like OMW, it the story also has Scalzi's bad habit of making all the characters he likes talk the same. Given that that means they're all smart and witty, it's not that big of a problem.


      From the You Learn Something New Every Day, If You Actually Can Learn Anything At All file:
      OLD LADY: What's the difference between sherry and dry sherry, besides the name?
      ME (fighting the urge to place "DUH!" somewhere in the sentence): Dry sherry is drier than sherry.
      "What's the difference between a circle and a square, besides the shape?"
      "The circle would be the round one."

      When I worked for Lechmere and it got bought out by Internationally Known Incompetent Fuckwads Montgomery Ward (hey, wait a tick--hmm, that's interesting, and unplanned), one of the ways "We aren't going to change anything" was to change everything, including the payroll system. Previously, we'd swipe our little ID cards and get paid to the hundredth of an hour. You read that right. If we worked an extra 22 seconds, we got 1/100th of our hourly rate. Even when it was overtime!
      When Internationally Known Incompetent Fuckwads Montgomery Ward (hey--why stop now?) put in their system, it rounded payroll down. To the nearest half hour. You read that shit right, too--if we worked 29 minutes instead of 30, we got NOTHING.
      That lasted a whole week. One assumes that even a small percentage of 35,000 employees stampeding to the Labor Board would be enough for the IKIFWs Monkey Ward to back down from their 1925-era labor practices. They upgraded their decrepit system so that it only rounded down from 6 minutes. Now, it was only if we worked 5 minutes and 59 seconds that we got paid nothing.
      I wrote down exactly what time I punched in. I punched out at exactly plus-6 minutes-and-1-second. I soon learned that if you didn't take a lunch break (and I never did; I'd rather schedule myself for 8 hours and not 7.5, work 30 minutes and get paid for 8 hours if it meant leaving at the same time), it'd automatically dock you 30 minutes. It'd dock you that if you punched out and then was called to the floor to help customers. It docked you for working. And this wasn't an option; they cut the payroll when they took over, and when it inversely impacted sales, they continued cutting the payroll. They just kept cutting it, never figuring out how "no one working the floor of a department store" might be the whole reason that sales sank. The audio department had 2 guys. They worked alone, and they worked for 12.5 hour shifts, and if they took a break, they got paged down into their departments. Me, Music and Video Manager Guy, I had it easy: I had 50 payroll hours to cover a store that was open 72. And I'm not counting the 10 hours a week that I personally was forced to waste running the jewelry department. Okay, "standing in" the jewelry department. Jewelry got commission, but refused to work through their lunches. While I stood there answering every question with "I don't know, I'm the music manager!" While being stuck behind the glass cases, listening to the endless pages "Customer service to music! Customer service to video! Customer service to games!" The front cashiers learned to send those people directly to me. So that I was forced to give directions to the general area where what they were looking for possibly could be found. I could've walked right over and handed it to them, but glass cases, jewelry, somebody else's lunch break. Every department was required to abandon their breaks except jewelry.
      Violation of the labor laws, of course. But that didn't stop one spunky kid! The most forlorn department was Furniture, which was absolutely demented. People needed me in Music because they thought that "Billy Joel" began with an "S," but they were expected to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on something stored in the warehouse with no help? They eventually hired a "furniture manager." Kristen, I believe was the name. Supposedly we worked for the same boss, but...Kristen just never seemed to be in the department. "Customer Service to Furniture!" Sorry, I'd become so bitter at working Jewelry, Sports, Audio, everywhere except WHERE I WORKED that I just refused to do anything but page for someone else for help. Sorry, customers, but this is the Andrea Doria and I'm busy finding my own lifeboat.
      Somebody once told me to not page Kristin. She was at the Mall. The Mall? She'd disappeared hours ago, like she always did! She'd just vanish, they'd page her but no one would ever actually come to the floor to see why she never the pages...
      I tried it the next day. If you swipe out for lunch but don't swipe in, their shitty system docks you 30 minutes. Then clocks you back in after exactly 30 minutes. Even if you're gone 2, 2 and a half, 3 hours a day like Kristen was...She was getting docked half an hour for "lunch," while spending only 5 or 6 hours in the store. And the Magic Payroll System kept paying her for 8 hour shifts.
      One day, she wasn't there. As usual, except that she never came back. I assume that since the sharp (but also ex-Lechmere/now very jaded unwilling Monkey Ward worker) Polly from Payroll had to punch these things in by hand caught Kristen. Or maybe she quit; there was no mention or discussion of her departure. Discussion would've meant outing the major bug in their payroll system.
      I knew about it. And I never used it. I hated, hated, HATED my corporate fuckwads. But there's this thing I have--it's called "morality." It's called "not stealing." "Not lying." "Responsibility." "Earning Trust." Getting paid for a job you didn't do and lying about it is for people so lazy, immature and irresponsible that they can't even be trusted with a crappy furniture department in a disintegrating chain store, let alone a position of real power and authority.
      Dumbya "proves" that he never went AWOL with his pay stubs.
      Yuh huh. Did Kristen sign off on them?
      This proves shit. And it isn't even the the thing the media should be looking at! He told Tim Russert Potato that the military gave him a special deal to get out of the National Guard!!!! WHAT. THE. FUCK! HOW can anybody read this except as "Daddy used his power to get me back in college. Where the coke fell like snow!" HOW is that different from bribery? And he ADMITS that he used influence to get out! Ooh, Clinton, he was a draft dodger! Yeah, so is every member of the Administration between the ages of 50 and 65. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz! So Clinton avoided serving in an unjust and pointless war that lasted for decades and killed young Americans for no purpose--but how many did he start?

      * pant* * pant* * pant* Deeep breaths, Billy! Deeep breaths! *wheeze* Okay, I'm good, real good. I'm wrinkly like the Triplets en Belleville!
      Speaking of music, and extremely lame segues, there's an opinion on the Beatles' 40th with a best of list, and yes, it's Scalzi, and nooo this is not turning into the "Unofficial Scalzi Worship Page." If this was the blog of Dawn Wells, then you'd have something. It's just a cool idea, and I know there's loving for the Fabs among my readers 25 hours a day! (Wait--did I get that right?) And it is now...12.22AM, late at night even for me, so I'm going to cheat horribly by using his ideas to bounce mine off, thok!--CRAP! That idea bounced and landed in the litter box! Maybe it should stay there. But it seems like comments food. (Scalzi's opinions in italics)

Favorite Beatle Album:

Abbey Road, not the least because it's got two of the best George Harrison songs on it: Something and Here Comes the Sun.

Abbey Road, flat-out and hands down. Not just because of the individual songs (is there a bad one? Not that I hear), but because of that stream-of-consciousness mix on side 2. If anybody had ever done that before on a pop album, the reason I haven't heard of them doing it was because they didn't do it right.

Least Favorite Beatles Album:

White Album. Come on. You know it could be trimmed down by half.

I think that it could be trimmed down by one "song," and you already know which one. This would actually be my second favorite.
None of the early ones have ever really caught my attention. Catchy tunes, good background music. The Dave Clark 5.

Favorite Beatle:

John. What's not to like about acid wit?

I agree. And I assume that "acid wit" is deliberate choice of words.

Favorite "Fifth Beatle":

Mal Evans. He discovered Badfinger!

A shelf-dated George Martin. (see below)

Best Beatle Cover:

"Here, There and Everywhere" by Emmylou Harris

Oh...cover, cover, right.
It was by a forgotten bar band 20 years ago in Albany, NY, who did a medley that tried to cram as many songs into 8 minutes as possible. The highlight was the line "He's a real--Paperback--Loser!--I don't want to lose her!"

Worst Beatle Cover:

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," by William Shatner

WHAT?! That's the Plan 9 of Beatles' covers! Totally hilarious, and for all the wrong reasons. "The gurrrrlll with ka-lei-dah-scope...ICE!!!"
If you want BAD, listen to George Martin's "In My Life." You'd think that a cover album by their own producer might be a good idea. You'd also think that he'd choose "singers" better than Goldie Hawn, Jim Carrey, Sean Connery and Robin Williams, too...Was Hulk Hogan unavailable that day?

Best Post-Beatle Album by a Beatle:

All Things Must Pass, by George Harrison

*shrug* Never really followed them after the breakup. "Wing's Greatest Hits," maybe?
Best song, that's easy: "Imagine." It was a turning point in my life. It took along time for me to turn that point, but that's where it started.

Worst Post-Beatle Album by a Beatle:

Pipes of Peace, by Paul McCartney

Any album that the publicists implied was the Beatle reunion album. Klaatu, remember them? Didn't think so! And they weren't the only ones!

Best "Beatle-esque" Songwriter Who is Not a Beatle:

Neil Finn

See Above. There will never be a "next Beatles" for the same reason there has never been a "next Elvis": There Could Only Be One, and Only Once.

Beatle Tune I'd Play For Someone Who Never Heard a Beatle Song Before:

"Something" or "Here Comes the Sun." Yes! Harrison scores!

Umm...sorry, but I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this. There are people who've never heard a Beatles song before? I'd assume that they live in cultures where Western pop music is forbidden. So it'd sound really freaky to them, and they'd be unlikely to care much for it.
The only possible other member of this audience would be children. So, "Octopus' Garden" or "Yellow Submarine." Actually, we'd just watch "Yellow Submarine" first.
I will admit that as a kid, I thought that "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was a great song. I was picturing a Looney Tunes hammer when I heard it, with people looking like Wile E. Coyote accordians afterwards. I wasn't familiar with the concept "serial killer" yet.

Best Beatle Tune:

"A Day in the Life" Runner-up: "In My Life"

Wow. Tough one. I really don't have favorite songs for my favorite groups, I have a massive traffic jam tying for first place. I'll just go for "one I'll sing along the loudest to in the car," like Brian Eno's "Backwater," Devo's "Beautiful World," Wall of Voodoo's "Back in Flesh," Siouxsie's "Lost and Found," Fantastic Plastic Machine's "Dancing at the Diso at the End of the World," Shonen Knife's"Cookie Day"--Crap, this list could go on forever! "Fave Song" is for bands that only have 2 or 3 songs you like! so I'll just say "Lady Madonna." And leave out the other fifty.

Worst Beatle Tune:

"Savoy Truffle" or "Revolution No. 9"

"Mr Moonlight." That was the Beatles tune that the Beatles hated.

I think that it can be argued whether anything on The White Album is a "Beatle" tune. It was basically a four-way solo album. And it's even more arguable as to whether "Revolution No. 9" is a "tune." It'll clear a room out faster than a fire alarm.

And I like "Savoy Truffle"! If I had a cat of the right color, I'd sure name her "Ginger Sling."
And admit it--has there ever been a better pop song ever written about getting your stomach pumped? Not until Rod Stewart writes one, I'll bet.


      SERFING THE WEB: "Early last year a small Southern California company called Black Snow Interactive made a business move you could almost call shrewd if it weren’t so surreal. They rented office space in Tijuana, equipped it with eight PCs and a T1 line, and hired three shifts of unskilled Mexican laborers to do what most employers would have fired them for: playing online computer games from punch-in to quitting time. The games they were required to play were Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot, two of the most popular massively multiplayer role-playing games online. As the workers sat mouse-clicking virtual trolls to death, their characters acquired skills and gold at a brisk, assembly-line pace. For this, Black Snow paid the Mexicans piecework wages -- then turned around and sold the high-level characters and make-believe money on eBay, where a grandmaster dragon-tamer account from Ultima can fetch $200 and a Dark Age gold piece trades for roughly what the Russian ruble does."


      In case you're one of the nine people in the USA who missed it, The Daily Show looks at Dumbya's Press the Meat appearance.

       "Just read the Boston Globe!" A press conference about Bush's AWOListic tendencies that reads like Samuel Becket and Franz Kafka collaborated on a Bob and Ray radio skit. It's like 800,000 words, and at the end you're still waiting for the Komodo Dragon Expert named Godot to explain how to get out of the Castle.

      We all know what a fan I am of the Commandeerer in Thief Dumbya, but even I don't want to pound the table over his AWOLicity as endlessly as the Wrong Wing did Clinton's little sperm-spewing. But here's an excellent overview of it, with plenty of other juicy facts about Bushbaby.

      Oh, let's just keep going. When I saw this graphic,

      my mind read the second part of "SUPPORT EBBS" as "4-letter abbreviation ending in S" as in AIDS or SARS. Sorry, I'm not interested in supporting those! But what would it be if it was? "SUPPORT ENDING BUSH'S BULLSHIT" maybe?


      If you're writing headlines for a newspaper's online site, proper use of the space bar can help. Can I have some of those favors, too?

      Art Slave MiSTs Insane Gonterman's "Mystic Mouse," lovingly and semi-competently HTMLed by me.


      I assume that a day of Syndroming that ended with watching a sci-fi movie was responsible for my dream.
      Tiny symbiotes live in some people's gastrointestinal tracts, like tapeworms, eating some of the food their hosts eat. They are sentient intelligences and have powerful telepathic abilities. They can project their minds from inside your guts to inhabit the bodies of...ventriloquist dummies. How do they pay back their hosts? By making them really great ventriloquists!
      Kind of a let-down use for psychic powers. I only mention it for the absurdity of the concept, and the name that my brain assigned these guys: "Gastronauts." That's one small step for a symbiote, one giant leap for dummykind. I doubt anybody's going to be writing any sci-fi stories based on that concept.

      The sci-fi movie was X2: Either Mutants or X-Men United, I Forget Which. I can't say that I enjoyed as much as my first viewing. Since my first viewing was on a 3-story baby-IMAX screen, that was to be expected. Still a very fun film, still very impressive how they juggled so many characters and storylines simultaneously. Still amazing how bad an actress Halle Berry is, despite winning an Oscar. When Nightcrawler says, "So much anger in one so beautiful!" all I thought was, "So much delivering her lines like she's really wondering if the salad bar at the catering table has endives!" I can see bringing no enthusiasm to a job that you feel is below you, like McDonalds. But I'd be the happiest drive-thru employee ever if McD's was PAYING ME MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO WORK THERE. Dump her for X3; no one will really notice.
      I usually don't give a lot of thought to sequels, but as a recovered comics/X-Men geek...Phoenix, obviously, but that doesn't mean Dark Phoenix (they'll need something for X4). Stryker's last line, "Others will complete my work!" makes me wonder if the Sentinels will turn up ("project wideawake" is the name of one of the folders on Stryker's computer). Or maybe they'll bring back Eye-Scream!

      X2: Mutants of Benneton was one my NetFlix flicks. Yes, I am so abusing the free trial. $20 a month for unlimited rentals? I don't spend $20 a year on rentals. I usually spend nothing! And I'm glad that I didn't for the other 2: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Finding Nemo. Yep. I was disappointed by a Pixar film. It looked great, of course, but "looking great" these days just means "throwing money at the screen." I fully expect League of Extraordinarily Bad Reviews to look great and suck like Mina Harker at a blood drive. Nemo's characters were great, but the plot just left me cold. It was like a film by another filmmaking group I've always loved, Aardman. Chicken Run looked great, but the plot was so predictable that I knew how every scene would play out as each one started. Same with Nemo. And where were the big laughs? I didn't find any.
      I went into Chicken expecting A Close Shave; I watched Nemo expecting Toy Story 2. And I was disappointed each time.
      Well, I think I'll watch League of Extraordinary Gontermen now. The only way THAT will disappoint if it doesn't suck badly enough. I'm sure to get my nothing's worth!

      Corrente runs Bush's election slogan (note that I didn't say reelection slogan) "Steady Leadership in a Time of Change," through an anagram server. The post is really short, so I'm just going to put it all here and save them the bandwidth:

      "I'm the fanatic, grandiose sleepyhead." The Retardlicans should use that one. For accuracy's sake.

      I'm doing one of two things here: Either proving that it can be done, or that it can't. You be the judge.


      Okay, maybe yesterday's question shouldn't've been "can it be done," but "should it."

      League of Extraordinary Gentlemen didn't suck that much. It looked great, had good characters, a predictable plot...Yeah, that's the same disappointed review I gave Finding Nemo. The law of expectations at work: Nemo didn't deserve the 4 stars Ebert gave it, and LXG didn't deserve its one. And that's what I was expecting, a really great movie and a really bad one.
      It was actually pretty good for the first half. It got quite stupid in the second, starting with the scenes in Venice. Yes, there's a car chase in a city with no roads! The Nautilus, which is the size of the freakin' Chrysler Building but with screw propellers, ably sails through canals that are probably in real life not the thousand feet deep they'd need to be. Is the entire city collapsing? No one who lives there seems to notice!
      Then the "subplot" begins with the spy, and if you can't figure out who the culprit is the exact second this is brought up...You need to check the color of your herrings more, dig?
      Then the Criminal Mastermind declaims (as all good villains do) his Evil Plan. And the entire first half of the movie gets chucked into the trash. My thought was, "And all of that was the easiest way to scrape a finger?" The movie that they would've made if they'd started with that idea and worked from it would've been so much more interesting.
      But it was impossibly gorgeous to look at. Maybe you have be as predisposed as I am to appreciate the Jules Vernian retro-future, but I really loved the design. If I was Nemo (Captain, not clownfish), I wouldn't have decorated my giant submarine with end tables holding delicate vahses. They'd just roll off and smash in heavy seas. But wait! They didn't have subs back then and they'd have no idea what they'd be like. They sure wouldn't've had corridors the size of the ones in 4-star hotels. But what did they know in 1899? This was their future, and theirs was a bright and sunny one. Oh, yes, those child laborers in the coal mines. Spot of bother, that. Tea, m'lord?
      But the movie bombed. I'm not saying that it was any classic, but I got my money's worth (it was free). But I'd pay to see the sequel--And given the ending, they sure expected to make one. And they had the absolutely most laughable implied reason to bring a character back: From the GRAVE! "AAARGH, an' HOOT mon! ZOMBIE SEAN CONNERY wants yur BRRAINS! Shaken, not stirred! Side o' haggis!"

      If your post is really sucky, clap your hands!
      If your links are very lacking, clap your hands!
      If your post is really dopey and you're at the ending of your ropey, then

It's good to have friends.

"Is it Spring yet?!"


      After all these months, I finally got spam via Fastmail.
      "tasty azalea frontiersman gunfight real estuarine bolshevism dominic subpoena flatten crock kaolinite adverb declassify jimmie lopseed oblige typewritten vaunt homogenate larkin" read Fastmail under the htmling. I know of the spam trickery that spells subject lines as "Peniuuuus enlegarMentos for yourrr freshmakerhorse dicck" to get past the spam filters, but what was this? And the subject line was "Boost Your Car's Gas Mileage 27%+, cocksure abetted collage glare trickle," followed by "y blanc chev= ron scapula sanguineous cataract diaphragm wreathe surge eigenvalue camelb= ack stole madeleine wacky=20" at the end. Maybe it was just to get me to read it, hoping that I'd click on its links (YEAH RIGHT THAT'S GONNA HAPPEN). Maybe spam is being written by Roget now--thesaurus sales might be down. Maybe I'll just delete every spam I get from Fastmail (which IS gonna happen).
      Crap. Spam via Fastmail. Nothing lasts forever.

      A delivery driver mentioned today, in a tone between disgust and amazement, that he'd seen a new vodka in some liquor stores today. "It was in a bottle shaped like an M16--and it was called Sniper!"
      I hear that John Malvo's looking for the celebrity endorsement contract.
      I looked it up in the Beverage Journal, and damn straight if it wasn't in there. Distributed in CT by Arko, a Warsaw-based liquor company. Their local distributor is in (CT residents, you already can guess where) New Britain. (To those of you not from my home state, the last century of the city's ethnicity would make it more accurately named "New Poland") That just made it weirder, so I looked it up and it's actually shaped like an AK-47. That makes sense, given its Warsaw Pact origins.
      What makes NO sense is that anybody's selling this! What's their target demographic, drunken machine gunners? It'd offend both the liberals and the cons, as the AK's the default weapon in Iraq. And it's named "Sniper." Whether you're for or against the First Halliburton War, who wants to drink a toast to the recently departed from a bottle shaped like what killed them?
      The rocket launcher of choice in Baghdad is the old Soviet RPG-7. Hey, that's it! Let's bottle a whiskey called the RPG-Seagram's 7! It's the whiskey that'll knock ya DEAD.


      Well, I had a nice long phone conversation with Mrs Jessica, so no "real" post tonight. She's going to college at age 26! And there were some incidents of Byronic destruction that I don't think made it here. One is funny (to YOU, as it happened to me) and one is very much not. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, this link I stole from bOING bOING is entertaining: hand-cranked silly paper models you can make. Flying pigs and rowing sheep. Worth the view for the animated models.


      When I said yesterday "maybe tomorrow," that of course also meant "maybe not."

      How to make Pruno, "a prison wine created from fruit, sugar and ketchup...such a vile and despicable beast in the California state penal system that prisoners can't eat fresh fruit at lunch."

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.


      Ugh. Today Yesterday proved it. There's a definite relationship between me sleeping late, even a mere 2 hours late, and me retching into the toilet for half the day. HOW FUCKING GREAT. Sleeping is one of the greatest pleasures of my life, and now I have to set the alarm every day. So much for my old slogan, "Better Living Through Narcolepsy."
      (I was so sick yesterday when I wrote that that I gave up went to bed. For 12 hours. I was afraid to get out of bed, fearing that I'd get sick again. But I didn't. Okay, so far I haven't. I wish that Young's Syndrome would get some damn operating rules already)

      To oversleep, perchance to Dream...aye, there's the rub. It's my wildly colorful and detailed dreams that I love the most about sleeping. And this bothers me because
      at CVS, and it was only 9.99, so I bought the DVD of Casino Royale. Funny, as I'd only just been thinking of that movie earlier that same day. Just as I had the day before--I was wondering why The Tick live TV series was on a DVD collection, but the vastly superior animated one wasn't. Another DVD set I'd buy would be if they ever released The Critic. And that night, I found that they just had! And it was only $34.9
      and several butcher's aprons.
      Okay, okay, I'll stop. I was just trying to give you the feel of the Casino Royale viewing experience.
      I don't have a "guilty pleasures" category. I don't feel guilty about reading comic books or watching ancient cartoons or listening to weird kid's record albums or having a social life largely restricted to playing with cats. This movie is about as close as I get to feeling guilty about liking something. It's a comedy that's largely unfunny, its plot makes so little sense that you'd kill synapses simply by trying to think about it, and the score is written by Burt Bacharach and performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It generally takes me 2 sittings to watch it. It's a mess. I love it.
      It's one of my Dream Movies, by which I mean "movies that follow dream logic." Colorful and detail-rich and plot-poor.
      Casino Royale was--sort of--made that way deliberately. A producer had bought the rights to the first James Bond book for a pittance when it was first released. He made an hour-long live TV special out of it in 1954. A dozen years later, 007 was like Star Wars in popularity, and he decided to use those rights to make "the best Bond movie ever." When he failed to get Sean Connery interested in the project, he decided to make it as a "psychedelic comedy." It had 10 writers and 5 directors. Usually that means that people were fired or quit a doomed project, but this was his plan from the start. They were all working from the same script, but the directors didn't know what the others were doing. As their 8 week contracts expired, each director left until only one, Val Guest, remained. It was then that the producer realized that possibly just kinda maybe...the movie might need a plot? He had 5 seperate movies with no connecting thread. And Val Guest's 8 weeks became 8 months.
      Every scene seems like there are 1-5 scenes missing between it and the next, and that's because there are. Characters are established, then vanish until the climax. When it became hard to thread scenes together, they didn't write a bridge between them but still left the scenes in. Peter Sellers was a prima donna (Orson Welles so hated him that he refused to even work on the same set, which is why there's only one two-shot of them in the longest part of the movie); he kept demanding that his role be expanded, and then, on the most expensive day of shooting, decided to call in sick. Sellers was fired, and they just worked around what footage they had of him (a la Mr Lugosi in Plan 9).
      It didn't even stop when they were done. At a test screening, the producer complained to Guest that "there are 5 belly-laughs in the first reel, but only 2 in the second. Switch them around." Most people would'nt have though of that as fixing the laugh-deficiency.
      I tried finding a site that describes the making of the movie, as to most people it'd be more interesting than watching the actual film. No such luck. I did find one of those nit-picky "list the mistakes" sites. Look, the whole movie is a continuity error! Every time I have a "stress at work" dream, the job is always a mutated Kay-Bee Toys, and the store is always located in my high school. That's not a continuity error, that's why it's a dream. I didn't read far into that site, since it was things like "The doorman walks inside, but in the next shot, he's outside again." There are "errors" in this, such as Joanna Pettet as the daughter of James Bond and Mata Hari. Given Ms Hari's advanced state of deaditude in 1967, her daughter wouldn't be in her 20s like Pettet, but in her 50s. Pettet is the focus of the film for about 20 minutes (on a set inspired by 1920s German Expressionist filmmaking, which should give you an idea of how strange this all is), then she and her shoulder-length blonde locks vanish until the end of the film, when her hair is a Twiggy-style straight bob. Only days have gone by in the movie, but I'm sure that months had gone by on the set. She assumed when her contract for one director's segment had ended, her work was over, and she cut her hair for another role. In a normal movie, that's a continuity error. But 2 hours into this movie, and it warrants the same shrug as discovering your car is filled with fluffy bunnies in a dream involving spaghetti dinners.
      But it also has a dream's weird consistency. Ursula Andress is "the world's richest spy," who buys Lord Nelson's Statue because she can. It's a throwaway line, but eventually we go to her fancy apartment and the statue's there. At the end of the movie, a giant UFO (don't ask) lands in Trafalgar Square--and the statue's missing. And there's a meaningless dream-long--sorry, I mean, movie-long--riff about Scots lads and lassies. Most of whom are French. I don't get it, but I don't think that there's any "it" there to get.
      Or am I wrong? Here's an essay titled Casino Royale: A Post-Modernist Epic in Spite of Itself. There's precious little difference between real post-modernism and fake post-modernism (hit reload to see what I mean), so I don't know if this is an arch joke or a doctoral thesis. I was expecting "just kidding" at the end, but instead was told that I could buy copies of the movie on "that gulag called eBay."
      I'm not recommending the movie, as it's my sole gulty pleasure. The jokes you might actually laugh at come about once every 10 minutes (as the producer spread them out!), but some are funny. Woody Allen is good, mainly because he's his own writer, but he's another character who appears and then vanishes for a long time. The Bacharach score is a great plus; it's goofy and catchy and cartoonish. The set design is incredible, as are the costumes. They sure spent a lot of dough on this freakshow. And there are some great ideas and cool shots in this psychedelic soup, but they're like M&Ms thrown in a blender: Small, colorful and lost in the maelstrom. And, like the movie, I have no idea what that means.

      Eddie Clontz is dead: "As the deviser and, for 20 years, the editor-in-chief of Weekly World News, his delight was to run the wildest stories he could find. He described himself not as an editor but as a circus-master, drawing readers into his tent with an endless parade of fantasies and freaks." An unfortunately short article.

      Today was errand day, a day of dullness and mundanity and we all know that that means it'll be itemized here. It seemed like "Let's Piss Bill Off" day. Nothing major, just those little annoyances that build up, like pebbles that become an avalanche.
      I hit every stoplight everywhere I went. BIG!Lots had 2 registers open, by which I mean they had none, as Clerk 1 was at Clerk 2's register explaining to a senile citizen why an expired driver's license wasn't good as a check ID (a conversation I've had at Planet Boozywood with many a "21-year-old"). Five minutes later when the lines started moving again, Clerk 2 started with the people behind me, rather than at the start of the line, and C1 immediately paged "PRICE CHECK!" which was another 5 minute project. And all I had was a bottle of water, 2 bags of cat treats, and some hair glue.
      I then went to the Salvation Army and bought nothing, then to AAA to fix the same double-charge they said that they'd fixed last month. "I knew this didn't go through," said Connie of the AAA. "We didn't have your name!" Whuh? You had my AAA ID and my Visa number, but you didn't have my name?
      I finally went to Jiffy Lube (my pattern: Buy car, get cheap oil changes for 2.5 years; go to Jiffy Lube for the "Signature Service" and a tire rotation; 2.5 years of cheap changes; full tune-up, 2.5, Jiffy Lube; repeat until car falls apart; buy new one; begin again). They said that it'd take 25-30 minutes, which translated to 45. I read The Book of the Dumb while I waited. Jiffy Lube always has magazines I wouldn't read. Points for eclectic selection: they had ESPN, Time, Car & Driver, Field & Stream (has anybody ever seen this magazine anywhere but a garage or barber shop?), and Oprah, American Woodworker and...Architectural Digest?! What, no copy of Smithsonian?
      At Stop & Shop, I realized that I'd left a coupon for something I wanted to buy in the car, and it was on sale this week. I walked over to the ATM after paying, at the exact instant that the bank opened it up to close it out.
      Every pump at the gas station was occupied, except the one with the "OUT OF ORDER" bag tied over the regular unleaded pump.
      I made 3 trips to the mailbox before I realized that Mr Postman was too lazy to turn the little red flags down to let me know he'd already been there.
      I just shrugged it all off. Not that I'm generally noted for my temper, but when life tries to needle you with little annoyances, just think the same Happy Life-Affirming Thought that I kept thinking: At least I'm not puking!


      I won my first class-action lawsuit!
      Remember when the RIAA overcharged everybody for CDs for a DECADE, making BILLIONS? Well, I got my check to make up for their price gouging today. They got their billions, and I got
      WOOO-HOOOOOOOOOO! I'm as rich as Croesus and Clampett combined! I'm going to shower in Moet champagne and use caviar to grout my tub! I'm going to buy a Rolls Royce and only use it for the cigarette lighter, which I'll use only to light $1.00 bills to light my Cuban cigars that were hand-made by Castro's own palsied hands and I don't even smoke! I'll just use them to light OTHER $1.00 bills! And then use them to set bums on fire! But they won't mind, as I'll give them nickels after I put them out by peeing on them!
      Then I'll buys me a tuxedo, at some classy jernt like KMart or Marshalls, and I'll just buy it in order to rip it off and run all nekked in the streets, screeching like a howler monkey while dancing like a howler monkey what's taken some expensive lessons from Twyla Tharp! Me and the rest of us CD MAP Antitrust Litigation BIG WINNERS, all the rest of us .000,013 millionaires, we'll take our near-$14 windfalls and party like it's 1933! We'll roll around on the floor on our singles! We're so excited, we just can't hide it! Everybody Wang Chung tonight! It's all about the 13.86% of the Benjamins! There'll certainly be some car door slamming in the streets of Kensington tonight!
      Or possibly, I will invest in the market. By buying groceries.

      If you're an InExOb completist like me, here's a question answered from No. 88: What the hell was up with that Atari game Ninja Golf? Not that great an article, as it doesn't really answer the burning question "Golf? GOLF?!" But you can download it and play it yourself. Ahh, you kids today with the downloading of the ROMs! I can never get that work. In MY day, we had the PONG!

      Hey, did you think "Back in early January, when we were all breathing a sigh of relief after the terror alert was lowered from 'orange'," were you really breathing a sigh or just rolling your eyes in the latest of the eternal terrah alerts that never led to anything but frightening the dumbasses who believe whatever Bush says? FUXNEWS and the New York Pus look at Bush's shitty poll numbers, and come right out and say it: "So the key [for re-election] is for Bush to heighten the saliency of terrorism as an issue." By "saliency," they mean lie about the real threat, as they've done since 9/12 and that endlessly-awaited "imminent second attack." Scare people into voting for him, because he's been so successful in fighting terr'ism by not catching Osama and increasing it in Iraq and letting Pakistan spread nukes throughout the world. "Success extinguishes his mandate. Tasks that remain before us rekindle it." Which means keep up the mantra of his misrule: Lie, then lie to cover the previous lie, then lie about the lying.


      I finally gave up hoping to find 2 of the reasons that I bought a new scanner, and went ahead and bought 2nd copies of "World's Worst Comics #2" and "Stupid Green Beret #1." WWC is simply a matter of scanning and fixing, so that should get done. The planned SGB site involves scanning 2 pretty good-sized (like 64 page) comics with commentary. Not panel by panel like the InExOb I'll never top. I'm not sure how I'll handle it. I do promise this: When it's completely done, you'll know. If you never hear of it again, that means I gave up.
      Of course, if that's the case, I'll just eschew the commentary and run the comics without comment. I mean, they're just Gourddamn bad, in the good sense of bad. Here's a panel chosen at random:

      OmiGod! Holy Jesus Christ in a beret! And that's typical of the dementia.

      You all know my opinions on Lileks' political bile, but I'm still a big fan of his humor. So I was surprised at how..."okay, I guess" is his latest offering StagWorld.

      A group of homophobic neo-Nazis stage bank robberies wearing Halloween masks of former presidents to support their goal of overthrowing the Gummint, while their leader is secretly hoping for a sex change, until they hook up with a guy with a plan...a big plan, to blow up a government building...
      Some odd new independent film? No, the true story of the Aryan Republican Army. The building was in Oklahoma City.

      Billmon on that FuxNews article I mentioned yesterday: "Just off the top of my head, I can't recall ever encountering a more openly Orwellian political manifesto -- or at least one that wasn't the product of an overtly totalitarian regime. Morris isn't suggesting a campaign theme, he's outlining a strategy for making campaigns (and, eventually, elections) literally unnecessary."

      Online IQ Test. I got 127, or 2 points less than my federally mandated real test as a kid.
      It took a lot of work on my part to find out the results of my IQ test then. No one would tell me, and reacted with suspicion when I asked. To me, it was like asking what my weight was. I was told by one teacher that I'd "use it to lord over the other students." Yeah, screaming "I'm smarter than you!" whil erqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqw THANK YOU, Byron! Maybe you need some floor time, huh, little boy?
      Yeah, me screaming "I'm smarter than you!" would really intimidate the bullies as they were beating the shit out of me. I thought that that was why they were beating me up. As the same teachers looked the other way...
      The test's math questions really need the choice, "I haven't used thought about this math since my SATs, so why does it matter now?"


      Bad news about supporting the Salvation Army: "The charitable organization required employees to pledge to preach the Gospel, to identify their church affiliation and to authorize their religious leaders to reveal private information..."

      Well, I thought that this look at Mel Gibson's next movie was funny.

      Via Negaduck, a videogame that's...really odd.



      My local paper used to carry the Spiderman daily comic strip. Since Marvel Comics were a staple of my youth, I'd read it just because it was there. I read it like I read B.C. or Cathy, just to see how bad it would be. It's written by Stan Lee and drawn (in some unknown capacity--pencils or inks or random drool markings) by his brother Larry. It was notable for its steadfast belief that there was only one superhero in the entire world, and that was our Mr Parker. It was dang weird. The comics company that basically invented "continuity" and "crossover" had this one guy fighting purse snatchers. Hey, if you have a guy with proportional whoop-assery of a giant spider, do ya think he can stop a shoplifter? Oooh, the dramatic tension. I can feel it in my gut! No, wait, that's the danish I just ate.
      I remember laughing at one attempt to bring in a villain with superpowers into the strip. It was a mad billionaire, as only drooling nuts become billionaires (Halliburton execs notwithstanding). He made himself a furry bionic gorilla suit. Cheez Louise. That's not a job for Spiderman, that's something for Aquaman and the Wonder Twins to deal with ("Form of--a bucket of Nair!"). The guy was defeated when Spidey threw him a cellar or something, and it turned out that he was claustrophobic. HEY, Stanley Lee, then why the hell was he in a ROBOT MONSTER SUIT the whole time? That's not claustrophobia-inducing? That's like Spiderman deciding to quit because he's got arachnophobia. Wolverine because he doesn't like needles. Superman because he's afraid of flying. Batman because he's--wait. No, Batman is. Seriously, he must be. Run down your mental list of superheroes who really just gotta have constipation. Where's Batman? Number One! Forget the Zorro movie and his parents; he's eating a block of cheddar and a pound of rice every day. And mad about it. No wonder he's a good fighter. Low center of gravity.
      We were talking about what where again? Oh, yeah, Spiderman comic strip. By my calculations, Stan Lee is so old that he probably went to school with General Lee, Mozart and the Sphinx. In the current Spiderman strip, Peter's trying to discover the website that stole Aunt "Immortal" May's bank account. Nice job updating the strip's content to 1995, Stan. He has a 20-year-oldish hacker helping with the search with his "INTERNET TRACER TECHNOLOGY," which is always in quotes and/or bold. Maybe I'll use an "EMAIL" to ask my "ISP" why my neighbor has a "SATELLITE DISH" on his "ROOF." I wonder if Stan's called the police on his "TELEPHONE" to ask why the "MILKMAN" doesn't deliver anymore.
      I'm not asking Stan (aka "The Mummy Walks") to have his hacker character talk in l33t. PLEASE DON'T. Gourd forbid, we all saw what Gonterman did with that. But, howzabout he talk like...a 20 year old? Here's two recent quotes:

      You know who talks like that? My GRANDPARENTS. Who are DEAD. Yeah, boop-oop-a-doop and 23 fucking skidoo, Methuselah! I'm waiting for Grampy Hacker to yelp, "Jumpin' Jehosephat, this "WI-FI CONNECTION" is the bee's knee's! Vote for Hoover, by cracky!"

      "HU-MANS! I am ZONDAR of the Planet Hairballus! I am your new OVERLORD! I am ALL-POWERFUL! BOW to me, and none shall be...umm, what's the word...I've got laser eyes, and if I use them, what? What's the word for that? HU-MAN SLAVE P.R. PEOPLE! Is it "squish"? No? Tammy? Todd? What's the word? I pay you hu-mans for this! I'm trying to intimidate your planet! "Lasered"? I don't think that's a word, Tony. Not an intimidating one, anyway. "Deep fried in your own juices?" Ooh, Tanya--love ya! Big bonus in your next check! What? Money? Of course not!--giblets! God, I could so go for some giblets now--Sorry. I'm so off message. Long trip from the Planet, you know. Okay, from the top--BOW TO ME! I am ZONDAR! Laser eyes, don't you know! DEEEEP-FRYING! You will survive only if you kiss my feet! Yes, all you of Earth. Don't worry, I've got big feet, plenty to go around."
      (10,000 bonus points to anyone who can identify that movie lobby card at upper right)


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