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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks and Taking Names

Since it's Thanksgiving and you're supposed to consider what you're thankful for in addition to gobbling up turkey and watching football, here's my lame attempt to inventory all the things I'm thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for my Mom, who still does whatever is in her power to take care of me even though I am a thirty year old man. I'm also thankful for her wife, who is one of the few purely good people I know.

I'm thankful that my brother is over one year sober now and no longer destroying his life in the pursuit of meth. I'm thankful that's he's getting his life together and doing it without excuses or relapses.

I'm thankful for my nephew, who is a constant source of hope and joy (with a little aggravation thrown in). I can't imagine the last ten years without having that kid in my life.

I'm thankful that the cold war between me and my Dad has flawed into an awkward detente. Maybe someday our diplomats will work out a real policy to normalize relations.

I'm thankful for my Uncle Jim, who really should have his own TV show...on Foxnews. We both have big mouths and strong opinions, but we can still laugh about the Texas ice cream man or the Taco Bell parallel bars stunt.

I'm thankful for my friend G, who is as beautiful as she is cool, and though she won't get nekkid for me, she's one of the best friends I've ever had.

I'm thankful for my dogs, who consistently amuse me with their canine personalities, and love me like only a dog could.

I'm thankful that I have a better job than I had when I was working last Thanksgiving. Better pay, better company, better co-workers (no offense, Big Daddy...you know who I mean), better boss. The hours, though...I'm thankful that I can live with them.

I'm thankful for the DVD, the CD, and the MP3. (While I'm on the acronyms, I'm also thankful for THC.)

I'm thankful that all my jeans are Levis and all my shoes are Skechers.

I'm thankful for American Idol and all the great timeless music we have because of that ground-breaking show. (Alright, I'm being cheeky about this one.)

I'm thankful for the success of Survivor, which pretty much killed off all those crappy scripted shows with overpaid actors. (This one too.)

I'm thankful that I have a DVR so that I can fast forward through commercials and watch the shows I like on my own time. (And no, Survivor and American Idol are NOT on my DVR.)

I'm thankful that in my advanced age (I'm fricking 30, dammit!) I have not yet developed a bald spot. (And may not ever...knock on wood.)

I'm thankful that Terrell Owens went to play for the Cowboys and not the Broncos.

I'm thankful that the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony (although they should have dumped Kenyon Martin a long time ago).

I'm thankful for Books Unlimited, Mile High Comics, and the DAV.

I'm thankful that earlier this month, the country voted against the corrupt, incompetent, and morally challenged GOP. A smidgeon of my faith in humanity, and democracy, was restored.

I'm thankful the deftones put out an album this year and that it was actually really good.

I'm thankful for the sun, without which my plants wouldn't grow.

I'm thankful for my big back yard, without which the Ghetto Garden would not flourish.

I'm thankful for my blog, a space that I control, where I'm judge, jury and executioner (or writer, editor and publisher). I don't need anyone's permission to post on here, and that, my friends, is true freedom.

And finally...

I'm thankful for the handful of blogfriends scattered around the country who stumbled on my blog once upon a time and keep coming back. You guys are awesome! You know who you are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Real World Denver Liveblogging

I totally feel like a loser watching this show, but I must. It's Real World Denver. Denver, Colorado dammit. I can tell you the title sequence is pretty cool.

We got trains, planes, and horse buggies?? Yeah, those buggies roll around downtown, but it's not like a real mode of transport.

Damn. The student body vice president of Howard University?? Did I say loser? I meant big fat dumb loser.

Their house used to be a bar. I don't know if I'd like to live in a bar.

Where's the gay one? Who's the gay one? Come on, there's a gay one. It's not the cheerleader. It's not the church dudes. It's gotta be the party boy.

When the girly girl says, "This is the most ridiculous house in America," she ain't lying.

Don't worry, I'll get their names down eventually.

Oh shit! They're asking each other who's gay. That's funny!

OH MAN!!! It's the Christian white boy! BAM. And he's newly out. This is drama.

They're playing Truth or Dare. This isn't drama. This is lame.

Oh yeah, hot tub action. Girl on girl hot tub action? Dude, they're making out. The cheerleader and Brooke, the southern bell, are going at it. Damn, Collie and the party boy are making out too. The first night? That's kind of gross.

And now it's kind of awkward.

Now she's talking about the dude's penis!!! I don't know if I can watch this show.

The gay subject comes up again. Who's gay? He hasn't come out to all of his roomies yet, but they know. They know.

Now he's coming out. The Howard VP is shocked! Dude, he says. I have a bad perception of what gay people are.

Here starteth the lesson.

Dude, your boyfriend's lucky, says the cheerleader, you're hot! HA! That's awesome.

Woah, the cheerleader is, um, fucking hot! Look at her in that tank top and tight jeans with the combat punk belt. Oh here we go, some more gay talk. Ut oh, here's the black comparison.

Let's go back to the cheerleader. Come on! She's playing pool! In that tank top???

But nooooo, we have to talk about the gay drama.

Now they're at the bar. Getting drunk. Then the insta-couple are planning on hooking up again. Soooo gross.

This is going to end badly, I know.

Wait, he's making out with the cheerleader now! He's a bitch!! And she's gross too. DOH, forgot the pizza! CAUGHT!

This is horrible. I can't watch this show.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Movie Meme

I'm stealing this from Write Procrastinator. Feel free to steal it from me.

1. Popcorn or candy?

Popcorn, definitely. It's the fifth food group, I think. If it had more protein, I'd eat nothing but that and ice cream.

2. Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever.

Gone With The Wind...never saw it, and frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn.

3. You are given the power to recall one Oscar: Who loses theirs and to whom?

I'd take it away from the Holocaust doc that beat Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls and give it to Spike. It's not hard to win an Oscar with a film about the Holocaust. I never saw it, but I'd venture to say it wasn't as good, or as artful, as Spike's.

4. Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe.

V's outfit from V is For Vengeance. Not the ass kicking one, but the one where he's in an apron daintily making eggs for Natalie Portman. Psych!!!!! That was LAME.

I'm gonna pick Kurt Russell's outfit from Tombstone. Or maybe Indiana Jones's outfit, the leather bomber jacket, the satchel, and the awesome hat.

5. Your favorite film franchise is....

That one's easy! Indiana Jones, of course.

6. Invite five movie people over for dinner. Who are they? Why'd you invite them? What do you feed them?

The Scott Brothers, Ridley and Tony
Spike Lee
Martin Scorsese
Stephen Spielberg

We're going to talk shop and eat shrimp.


7. What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theater?

Ejection. The only way you can avoid that is to watch movies at home.

8. Choose a female bodyguard: Ripley from Aliens. Mystique from X-Men. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2. The Bride from Kill Bill. Mace from Strange Days.

Mystique. Not only does she look like Rebecca Romijn, but she could in theory look like Rosario Dawson, or Eva Mendes, or Sanaa Lathan, or Keira Knightley, or Jackie Schechner or Abbi Tatton. What more could you ask for?

9. What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie?

Samara coming out of the TV in the Ring. Maybe the hell hospital in Jacob's Ladder. ED-209.

10. Your favorite genre (excluding "comedy" and "drama") is....

War movies. Gangster movies aren't bad either.

11. You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one year. How do you wield this power?

I would greenlight all the great ideas from a little known writer named James Pearce.

12. Bonnie or Clyde? Faye Dunaway.

Why Didn't I Write That?

Damn, man. Don't you hate it when you post something, then later on you find someone else who says it way better than you ever could?

Here's Matthew Yglesias on some of the issues I discussed in my Srebrenica post.
For my part, at a minimum I've concluded that it's a mistake to entrust the cause of American idealism and Arab reform to a movement led by people who plainly loathe Arabs (Palestinians "behave like lemmings" wrote Peretz two weeks ago before observing last week that Iraqis now lack "even the bare rudiments of civilizations") and couldn't care less about their well-being except insofar as pretense to caring is a useful club with which to batter domestic political opponents.

As an approach to intra-punditocracy one-upsmanship this seems to work out okay, but as an approach to foreign policy it's moronic. In that realm, what actual foreigners actually think actually does matter, whether or not you care about them or agree with their opinions. And what Muslims think about the United States is that we don't give a damn about their interests or welfare. They are, therefore, very skeptical of schemes that involve giving the United States more control over the fate of the Muslims -- be it conquering Iraq, strong-arming Arab regimes with economic pressure, or efforts to maintain the principle that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is sacrosanct when Iran wants to break it but not when the United States or Israel or India wants to.

Under these circumstances, democratization -- the shared passion of many Republicans and Democrats alike -- is doomed to fail. Any political opening will only bring to power forces we don't like and will try to bat down, further increasing resentment of the United States and only ensuring things will be even worse the next time around. This is not to say that we should be blithely unconcerned with internal political developments elsewhere. Rather, the point is that, whatever we hope to accomplish, the only way we can do anything constructive is to begin draining from the American approach to the Middle East the overwhelming stench of imperialism that's surrounded it for decades. We need to operate through legitimate mechanisms, establish rules of the road that we and our allies will actually follow and, most of all, operate with a sensitivity to the actual desires and priorities of people who live in the region.
Damn motherfucking straight.

TV Ramblings

So I was watching the American Music Awards at work. Reluctantly of course. It wasn't my choice and Shades (a co-worker) had the remote. The sad thing is that I realized how out of it I was. I mean out of it.

I didn't recognize a face in the cutaway shots. Some of the people presenting I've heard about but beyond that, I couldn't tell you squat. Mary J. Blige looked damn good in her tight white pants. She sang too, I guess.

A couple bands I've never heard of played too. You want names? You're talking to the wrong dude. I'm out of it.

Carrie Underwood won an award and I had to ponder that one. An American Idol winner has real musical credibility? Or is the American Music Awards nothing but a shallow ratings ploy? Who knows? I'm telling you, man. I'm out of it.

One thing was confirmed. Paris Hilton is a skank. Ewwwww. She's like a double shot of cheap whiskey: she makes me want to puke. Nicole Richie, too. No, I never saw their show, but I heard all about their tiff. I'm not that out of it.

Carmen Electra, great dress, great plastic surgeon. Those boobs, a work of art. Your doctor should be canonized as a saint. Let us know when he perfects the skankectomy.

Oh yeah, Jimmy Kimmel adopted Flavor Flav. Don't ask me how that came about, but I suspect it's some kind of comment on rich celebrity types buying...I mean, adopting children from third world countries. Because, you know, that's epidemic now.

The best part came when Shades started singing along to Lionel Richie's medley, not to be funny, almost because he couldn't help himself. Now that was funny.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Rules of Offensive Behavior

I'm not going to defend the indefensible, but there is something deeply disturbing to me about the selective outrage and rank hypocrisy circling the carcass of Michael "Kramer" Richards. I touched on some of it in a comment left on Chelene's blog.

There's a couple of issues that this story touches on, and they all deserve some discussion.

First, there's the issue of what a comedian should do when they have a bad night. Do they insult your mama? Or descend to the obvious and insult your ethnic heritage? Me, I'd say your mama's got a peg leg with a fish in it or your mama stole my loot and my suit (both lines funnier in the Pharcyde song, Ya Mama, by the way) but I'm not going to start dissing you because of your race. Not only is it a low blow because no one has any say over what race they're born into, but it's just not funny.

And a comedian must be funny. Rule number one.

Second, there's the issue of stand-up comedy in general. White comedians aren't allowed to talk about race. Not the way black or latino comedians do. I'm trying to think of a black or latino comedian that doesn't use race at all in their bits, but I can't. Bill Cosby, maybe? But when was the last time you saw him doing stand-up?

There are reasons for this, of course. Comedians tend to find humor in the things that stress them out. Bill Engvall has his stupid people and non-white comedians have that constant source of amusement: prejudice. They suffer it...so they laugh at it. That's comedy.

But imagine a white comedian making race a significant part of his act, pointing out all the funny things black people do. Would it fly? I don't think so. It wouldn't be funny at all, but it would come off as racist. So they talk about the funny guy down at the bus station instead.

The third issue brought up by this whole Michael Richards rant thing is the word, the dreaded N word itself. I struggle to type it right now, I've been so indoctrinated in the rules of its usage.

As a white man, that word must never touch my lips. I guess that means I'll have to shelve my dreams of being a recording artist covering the work of Dr. Dre, DMX, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Someday I'd like to be able to use it. Not in the way Michael Richards used it, as a low blow, but in more dignified ways. You know, things like, You my nigga. Is that really so offensive? God, I hope not.

I remember reading a thing about the N word some days before Michael Richards had his meltdown. It was pretty deep, but worth a look. Also worth a look is John Ridley's post-Richards take here.

Hell, while we're on it, look at Ridley taking on OJ. (Dudes) on a roll.

A final note about this whole thing, I find it strange in some kind of weird quantum mechanical way that I'm posting a stupid story about a stand-up comedian, then I read John Ridley's post about the N word...and bam, a stand-up comedian starts using it on stage. I'm not saying I can influence the universe with my very mind, but maybe Michael Richards is an avid blog-reader.

Fair and Balanced?

When I was a kid, I was thoroughly confused by M&Ms commercials. I loved M&Ms, still do, but when I saw commercials during Saturday morning cartoons that said, "M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand," I would look down at the multi-colored splatter in my hand and say to myself, "But they do melt in your hand."

It wasn't until later that I realized this was a clever way of saying, "Those M&Ms are so good, they won't stay in your hand long enough to melt."

In a technical sense, then, I guess that's not exactly false advertising, although there is a far more insidious example currently floating around our culture that has nothing to do with chocolatey candied goodness.

I'm talking about Fox News, the network that claims they are "fair and balanced." I mention this because they are starting up a new show, the right-wing's answer to the Daily Show, I guess.

Joel Surnow, who also created Fox's hit 24, is the man behind the plan, and he inadvertently exposes the lie behind the "fair and balanced" tagline.
"The way I look at it, almost every comedy show or satire show I see uses the same talking points against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney," Surnow said. "The other side hasn't been skewered in a fair and balanced way."
Let that last sentence congeal in your brain for a minute.

If you've already decided that the "other side" needs to be skewered, you're not really being "fair," are you?

If you're going to leave the Bush-Cheney bashing to the Daily Show/SNL and instead are going to focus on the "other side," then you're not exactly balanced either, are you?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Srebrenica

What do you know about Srebrenica? Do you know that it's pronounced Sre-bren-eetsa? Do you know that it's in Bosnia? Do you know that during the Bosnian wars Srebrenica's population swelled with tens of thousands of refugees because the UN declared it a "safe area?" Do you know that in July 1995, Serb forces led by indicted (but not yet caught) war criminal Ratko Mladic descended on helpless Srebrenica and massacred almost 8000 Muslim men and boys?

No? Well now you do. What about this one? During the massacre, the enclave of Srebrenica was "protected" by a UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) from the Netherlands. Their method of proection? Setting up observation posts around the enclave and reporting on troop movements. What else could they do? There were only a handful of them, a single unit of the Dutch army with vague impractical orders. No one in the UN had any clue what a "safe area" meant, but it sounded good, and having these guys on the ground was a little better than nothing.

When the Serbs rolled in, they did the only thing they could do. They radioed back to HQ, said, "They're heeeeere," and then announced their presence to the Serbs, who promptly disarmed the hapless Dutch soldiers and pushed them out of the way.

What followed was the worst massacre in Europe since WWII. As far as massacres go, this one was pretty bad. A week long orgy of murder, people lined up and shot, their bodies pushed into mass graves. Refugees scattered into the woods and were hunted down like dogs as Serb soldiers looked over their shoulders for airstrikes that would not come.

The Dutch soldiers could only watch. Their unclear mission, their lack of manpower, their lack of understanding, and most of all their crippling orders from the UN, all of this marked their failure.

You can't blame the Dutch. The world called and they stood up, ready and willing to do a thankless mostly symbolic job that the US, the UK, the French, the Germans, not to mention Russia or China would not do. Only one other country offered to send boots on the ground to protect Srebrenica: Iran.

The offer was turned down flat.

I mention this because recently there have been some new developments in Iraq. With the war grinding on with no conclusion in sight, Iran has invited the leaders of Iraq and Syria to a summit. The US is skeptical, of course, considering that those three countries are a source of much of the problem in the Middle East. I think this is a good thing, though, because the more people involved, especially if they aren't the hated Americans, the better.

They say Ahmadinejad benefits from the violence because it keeps the US bogged down, and I suppose that's true in some respects, but I doubt he thinks that way. He probably says to himself, well, they're gonna do what they're gonna do. They're not going to listen to me and I certainly can't stop them. Let them occupy a Muslim country. At least it's not mine.

I do, however, think that Ahmadinejad is aware that appearing reasonable in the face of the violence in Iraq does have its merits, which is why he's all smiles and really milking the world leader circuit for all it's worth these days (riding the crest of anti-Americanism like a surfer is more like it).

Imagine the power he would wield if he were the one to step in and make Iraq alright. I'm sure that's also crossed his mind. Look at me, he will shout. I did what George Bush couldn't. I brought peace to Iraq. Now let's kill the Jews!

No, let's don't.

So why would giving Ahmadinejad this power be a good thing? Because fixing Iraq's problems requires something the Americans don't have. It's something the Dutch didn't have with the Muslims of Srebrenica. If there's a word for it, I can't think of it, but comradeship comes close. On a human level, the Dutch felt something for the people they were sent to protect, but they also knew that the Bosniaks huddled in Srebrenica weren't their people. And no matter what, the Iraqis will never be our people either. We care about them on a human level, sure, but we're more interested in us, in our own ass. We don't understand nor do we really care about the ins and outs of their culture, of what it feels like to be from the barren Middle East, with its decades of strife and extremists. Hell, we don't even have to live there.

But the Iranians do, the Iraqis do, the Syrians do. They're all neighbors. They're all hogging the headlines with their petty religious squabbles. They should be able to work this out for themselves. Let's say a merger. Iran, Iraq, and Syria merge to form a constitutional union of states, much like America, much like the UK. They could call it Extremistan, or something catchy like that.

No, actually I think that would be bad.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Michelle Malkin - Funny or just an asshole?

We all know Michelle Malkin is an asshole. Her selective outrage and derisive "analysis" is quite laughable really. Perhaps you just have to be stoned to see it.

Take this bit of hackery. It's golden.

Like a shower. That warm trickle down your back, that's rain. Really, it is.

Love the picture of Theresa Kerry, eyes half closed in mid-yawn (or mid-twitch, or mid-orgasm...whichever image you find best). And the exaggerated childish emphasis on the correct pronunciation of her name, so dignified. And that part about how she put on her "shiniest tinfoil hat," oh man, that was good.

My knee still smarts from so much slapping.

The other day my boss said that to him Bill Maher was the same as Rush Limbaugh, only on the other side of the spectrum. And while that may be true in some respects, Bill Maher is a comedian, and there is one big difference between political comedy and political commentary. One is the pursuit of humor in a serious subject, politics, and the other dissects serious subjects, and every now and then, can be funny.

I mean, did you see Rush's Michael J. Fox impression? That was hilarious.

Bill Maher is no Rush Limbaugh. And Michelle Malkin, if her intent was to be funny, is no Bill Maher.

Speaking of humor, if you've been paying attention to the story that's been taking up space on the blog, it might not work for you. That's because it's not all that funny. I'm not a stand-up comedian, believe it or not, and so the various stand-up routines in the story that are woven into the dramatic action, probably aren't that good. I tried to compensate for this by making my comedians bomb, which is what would happen if you used the material in the story in front of a live audience.

So if you know any good jokes, I'm all ears.