Monday, March 31, 2008

And With That, We're Off

For three innings, the Mets looked like they would be an easy target for masochist fans and ignorant talk radio hosts. Jose Reyes struck out on three pitches to open the game, Johan didn't strike out every batter, and the Mets' offensive superstar was Luis Castillo. Then the fourth inning happened, and what a glorious inning it was.

Ten batters and six runs later, the game was in hand and Met fans across the country could rest easy. Not that I was panicking. This season is gonna be crazy enough without finding artificial ways to raise my blood pressure. Opening Day is all about a recharging your faith, a renewal of vows between you and your team, unless you happen to be a Pirates fan. Sure New York was clammy and cold and rainy, and sure I was working outside in said conditions, but I got off of work just in time to get home, sit on the couch with my dad and my brother and crack a couple beers for Opening Day. What else can you ask for?

Our new ace pitching like one?
A dynamic and multifaceted offense?
The return of the prodigal son, Pagan?
You got it.
Sarah Larson?
Keep dreaming.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Triumphant Return of Your Apocalypse Forecast

Chance of Apocalypse: The Execution of All Things

Don't get the reference? Rilo Kiley. If you haven't heard the song yet, you'd do well to listen to it before the lovely Jenny Lewis is silenced forever, along with the rest of us (video here, lyrics here).

What could have me salivating over our impending doom with such glee? Don't insult my intelligence by guessing the new flare-up in Basra. That SCIRI approved attempt at destroying Sadr's powerbase didn't get quite out of control enough. Not only that, Sadr pussied out and offered some kind of truce. No, this news is much bigger. This news contains the possible end of the entire Universe.

Yes, you read that right, the very same Universe in which we (and some highly advanced alien civilizations) reside. What malevolent force could possibly be responsible for this? Duh, us. More specifically, a group of scientists who have built the largest particle accelerator ever, the Large Hadron Collider. Of course, it was created to do good things like find the basic nature of matter and give helicopters cancer. According to a lawsuit filed in sunny Hawaii though, the scientists have been less than forthcoming about one of the possible results of smashing all these particles together.

A tiny black hole that will grow, swallow up the Earth and possibly the entire fucking Universe.

How cool is that? It's like all the experiments in comic books that gave superheroes their powers, times a million. Mr Fantastic don't have shit on CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research). Now, as the article makes quite clear, the chances of the black hole are remote, and even if one is created, it might just get blasted away by all the radiation in the, the chamber. My favorite passage is the end of the article:
Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”
Thanks for assaying my fears and making me shit my pants at the same time Doc. Dragons? That is not the way you want to make people feel better about your insane, God defying experiments.

So while CERN is obviously not trying to destroy everything that's ever been created, I think the article ignores a potent question: could someone build a particle accelerator for the express purpose of creating a black hole that will swallow up the Earth? Maybe Iran should drop all that shit about their nuclear program and start training the world's most evil physicists. Sure it sounds like some James Bond fantasy crap, but we won't know until someone tries. And if they succeed, we'll be held hostage to their every demand.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to school for my quantum physics degree. See you suckers when I'm living in the White House.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

David Schwimmer: Not Too Bright

I don't really have anything against David Schwimmer. Sure, Friends was annoying, but that was an ensemble effort at irritation. Plus, he seemed to have the good taste to latch himself on to the Michael Ian Black-written, Simon Pegg-starring Run Fat Boy Run. Of course, that doesn't mean I find him at all interesting, so I was planning on skipping his interview with the A.V. Club. That is, until, I had a paper copy of The Onion to flip through on the train.

His interview was pretty boring, as I expected, until he dropped this little nugget:

AVC: The film opened in the UK months ago. Is that a good test for how it'll do here?

DS: I should be so lucky it does as well here. Simon's a big star over there. It was number one for a month, but I don't expect that at all here. I'm realistic about it. I hope it does respectably well here; I hope word of mouth travels. The best it could do is something like Juno.

I'll dispense with the "In case you've been living in a cave" jokes, because no one who reads this has been doing so, and if you have been living in a cave the last six months, you have bigger things to catch up on than Juno. Anyway...

If the best something can do is Juno, that thing must be pretty fucking good. Since Schwimmer obviously hasn't been paying attention to the world in which he lives, let me enlighten him as to the things Juno did in it's time in theaters:

  • Grossed almost $140 million in America
  • Best Screenplay winner, inexplicable Best Picture nominee
  • Became a cultural landmine for it's portrayal of teen pregnancy as a goofy, indie fashion accessory
  • Made The Moldy Peaches blow the fuck up
This would be akin to Trey Hillman telling the Kansas City media that the best the Royals can hope for is to be the 2003 Marlins or your doctor telling you the best you could hope for with your cancer is that chemo will hit it so hard your worst enemy gets it or if Donald Rumsfeld told us the worst case scenario in Iraq was a 6 month war. Erm, never mind that last one.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Q: What does Obama have in common with the Houston Rockets?

Hopefully nothing. The Rockets go on the road tonight to face the Pacers. With a win in Indianapolis, The Bayou Ballaz will have the longest winning streak in the history of the franchise with sixteen games. 16 out of 82 makes for roughly one fifth of the season wrapped up in one long, tidy winning stretch. They have accomplished such a task with grace, ball movement and rim bending dunks from a home boy named Carl Landry.
Barrack Obama won 11 primaries in a row (12 if you count Vermont), roughly one fourth of the entire primary process. Then, Hillary broke the streak with victories in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island. Now, the media has swung its pendulum back toward the former first lady. It's not unusual for the media to play king maker in political elections. Furthermore, these wannabes also change their minds from day to day.
I don't want to make a new narrative for the campaign because I have disdain for such behavior. Even so, there is a story to the past week.

Shillary decided to go damn near nuclear on Obama while he tried to stay above the fray. Have you ever tried to stay above the fray when someone was there to fight you? Who "won" the situation?
The American people like their politics much like they like their basketball: The sharks win. When MJ smelled blood, it was over. Same with Larry Bird and Bill Russell. Some players have it, and some don't. It's great to have finesse and elegance, but a soft ballplayer only goes so far.
If the Rockets want to keep winning, they have to be willing to have knock em down, drag em out brawls with the rest of the NBA.
If Obama wants to win the nomination, he has to show clinch. Scrap the soft shit. Hillary Clinton just said that you wouldn't know what to do if it came time to launch a nuclear weapon. She stopped you from receiving a single vote in Harlem. She says your health care plan is a failure. This woman is the easiest person in the world to make fun of, and you come with your nice guy bullshit?
Then again, it's understandable. Obama reached the upper echelons of the political universe by presenting himself as the new Martin Luther King crossed with the new JFK. Those guys were never exactly the mean son of a bitch attack dogs that was, say, Vice President George H. Bush under Zombie Reagan. If he talks off the kid gloves, the American people may see him as losing one of his only redeeming qualities, right?
Wrong. This is the classic case of the logical person assuming that the world thinks in a logical vain. That red phone ad and all of the other attacks made on Obama in the last week played on EMOTION. As sad as it sounds, and as much as it seems as though it should be an anachronism,
the American people are still buying into the foreign policy terror threat fear tactics of the most elitist politicians. Combine that idiotic political frame with the general dumbing down of the country, the obsession with tits, ass and blood on every talk show, reality show and contest from sea to shining sea. All matters, even the important ones, are sporting. Hillary is the one willing to punch and Obama is the sissy that won't stand up to a bully.
"An Era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted," said Arthur Miller. Well, Arthur, I guess we're still in the dark ages. Allow me to respond with Jimmy Cliff's "I want mines and I want it NOW!"
As for Barrack Obama, his winning recipe requires that he scrap part or all of what made him appealing in the first place. It's a shame, but his voters can only hold their breath and pray that he returns to his initial values when the bloodbath cruises to an end.


Postscript: I caucused last night. It was stupid, boring and hard for people to understand. I wound up in the crowded cafeteria of my old elementary school. We signed in with our name and candidate, then organized into groups. The votes were tallied. Then the precinct came together to discuss resolutions. We voted up almost all of them, with the exception of an Israel-Palestinian Resolution floated by Dennis Kucinich. A small Jewish pocket came out and knocked that one down with a quick speech. The whole process took two and a half hours. I am now and alternate delegate to the convention; How about that? I really would rather not go because I don't want to attend the one in Denver on my own dime, but I doubt I will have to attend.

Q: What Do The Rangers and Barack Obama Have In Common?

A: Both are working for Al-Qaeda don't know how to keep the boot down on the neck. Much as Super Duper Tuesday proved, hockey and politics just don't mix. I couldn't tell you what it is about a day that the Rangers play a should-win game at the same time that Barack Obama goes for a killing blow, but so far my hopes and dreams and 0 for 2 on that count.

The obituary for Obama is going to focus on the fact that once he became Mr. Moneybags he tripped and watched Hillary run off with the working class vote. For the life of me, I'll never understand how someone named "Clinton" can get that vote considering that Bill was the very man who catapulted us into NAFTA and MFN status with China. CNN ran a graphic that said Clinton got around 60 percent of Ohio voters who had made their mind up in the last three days, proving once again that undecided voters are the biggest idiots on the planet. Despite having a clear choice between John McCain's "The free market will rescue us all and bring the troops home by tomorrow" spiel and whatever Democratic candidate emerges, these morons will still hem and haw and then make up their mind based on something retarded. They won't like John McCain because his wife is so obviously Botoxed. They won't vote for Hillary because she seems "cold" or Obama because he doesn't wear a fucking flag lapel.

The news isn't all bad for Obama. It's not as if he didn't win Vermont, and as of right now, he's ahead in the Texas caucuses. He also has the lead in total delegates, and should be able to keep Hillary at arm's length in that department, at least before the convention where the Party can destroy itself from within. Still, after all his wins heading into today, one was hopeful Obama would be able to summon up a killer instinct and end Hillary's hopes and dreams tonight. Instead, she comes up with the big mo' and somehow, somehow, looks like some kind of triumphant underdog.

There's also the emerging issue of legal challenges and cries of "Shennigans!" from the Clinton camp regarding alleged shady business at the caucuses. These next few weeks will show whether Obama has a glass jaw or a strong right hand. They will also provide a fantastic opportunity for John McCain to raise money and receive fawning press coverage. Look, if America wants an old white man espousing the same shit we've heard from the ruling party for the past eight years, go ahead and pick him. That two trillion dollars isn't gonna get dealt with anytime soon, and the reactionary idiots who make McCain a viable candidate certainly won't be around to have to pay for it. Much like Rick DiPietro's gazillion year contract, it's easy to think about the instant gratification and not the long term consequences of the action.

A loss to the Islanders, however irritating, stings a little less when the hockey is great. Tonight's tilt had everything a fan could ever want, except for a two minute period when the Rangers lost their collective minds and gave up two crucial turnovers that lead to goals two and three for the Icelanders. Even better, newly acquired fuck up extrordinaire Christian Backman had a turnover that led to goal number three. Much like Obama supporters though, Ranger fans can grouse without teeth gnashing and the wearing of sackcloths, due to the fact that they picked up a point at least, keeping pace with Boston and staying ahead of Philly, who lost in a shootout and just plain lost, respectively.

For Obama, the key now is to stay cool and act like nothing is wrong. Remind people that while he may have become a front runner of sorts, Hillary was still the presumptive nominee in her own mind and the mind of the evil Establishment from Washington DC. The Rangers have to come back and kick the shit out the Islanders on Thursday if they're going to prove they're going somewhere this year. The time for pussyfooting has come and gone, and the time for crisp skating, crashing the net, hard checks and excellent organization on the ground is upon us. The stretch run for the playoffs and the Democratic nomination still have mind bending horrors to offer me, I'm sure, from the Rangers flirting with the eighth spot to yet another debate where Hillary Clinton bases her strategy on repeating SNL skits.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I May As Well Just Shut Down The Blog

Nah, just kidding. But that doesn't change the fact that the Washington Post must be in a ton of trouble. How else to explain publishing the flat out dumbest Op-Ed in the history of the modern newspaper? Charlotte Allen's "We Scream, We Swoon, How Dumb Can We Get?" has made its way around the internets, drawing outrage and umbrage. This caused the Post's Outlook editor to throw up his hands and run out with the lamest excuse ever: "We were only kidding. Its satire! Get it?" To that end, I will give a million e-dollars to whatever great satirist can whip up lines like this about the blacks:

Here's Agence France-Presse reporting on a rally for Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Maryland on Feb. 11: "He did not flinch when women screamed as he was in mid-sentence, and even broke off once to answer a female's cry of 'I love you, Obama!' with a reassuring 'I love you back.' "

Women screamed? What was this, the Beatles tour of 1964? And when they weren't screaming, the fair-sex Obama fans who dominated the rally of 16,000 were saying things like: "Every time I hear him speak, I become more hopeful." Huh?

A Beatles reference? Clever one you is, aint you guvna? Oh, sorry, I seem to have lapsed into a British cockney voice as a way of dealing with the stupidity laid bare in front of me. It's either that or my brain tunnels its way right out the back of my skull. But honestly, a Beatles reference? Sure, the Beatles will always be cool, but at least update your timeframe with a joke about a Backstreet Boys or an N'Sync tour. Akon would be good, but is also way out of your pop culture lexicon.

I also can't understand why her choice quote to prove female Obama supporters are brain dead idiots is something so gender neutral. If she had found a woman willing to say "Obama makes me squirt", then maybe Charlotte Allen would have a case. But never mind that, we still have the business of the one million e-dollars to give out for matching Allen's caustic wit.

I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?

Woah. Not only was her first reference over 40 years old, now she's moving even further back in time. At this rate, Charlotte will be digging out a stone tablet detailing how Oog proved the hairy cavemen with tits are worse than the hairy cavemen without tits through a series of highly scientific tests.

I'm not the only woman who's dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It's a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can't believe that there's this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.

Why is that a horror novel? Does Jason Voorhees show up halfway through? Can't the gays be responsible for a lot of Celine Dion CD sales (if we're only going off dumb stereotypes)? Will I just keep asking questions? Tune in to find out!


We exaggerate, of course. And obviously men do dumb things, too, although my husband has perfectly good explanations for why he eats standing up at the stove (when I'm not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I'm not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. When men do dumb things, though, they tend to be catastrophically dumb, such as blowing the paycheck on booze or much, much worse (think "postal"). Women's foolishness is usually harmless. But it can be so . . . embarrassing.

This shit hurts to read. I'm not gonna lie, this article is too long and too stupid to parse bit by bit. Paradoxically, every paragraph contains so much wrongness that I can't turn away from it. That the Post allowed two pages of this sub-Maxim, sub-Dane Cook observational humor anywhere near its pages makes me want to forsake my dream of being a journalist and join the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Make no mistake, when I say this is the dumbest Op-Ed I've ever read, I'm not joking. This is stupidity that surpasses Kathleen Parker or David Brooks or even that fat shithead The Walrus. Despite my not being able to get through this, I urge you read the whole piece to find out how them womenfolk just loooove Grey's Anatomy, how Charlotte Allen can't add two and two and how women should just be happy with their ability to make a house look nice. Just before I go, here's the conclusion to this Swiftian level satire of the gender relations:

So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we can be . . . kind of dim.

Charlotte Allen, kill yourself.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Why Do You Hate Diablo Cody?

Don't even try to act like you don't. I see you over there, grousing about her Oscar win and her acceptance speech. I see you rolling your eyes at the litany of adjectives that have to procede actually naming her (stripper turned author turned blogger turned screenwriter turned Oscar winner turned Entertainment Weekly columnist). I know that when you talk to people about Juno you preface it by saying, "Well, after I got through the first twenty minutes..." or you sneer "That soundtrack was just so...twee." I see you reminding people she gave herself the name Diablo Cody, that her name is actually Brooke Busey. All I wonder is, what did Diablo do to piss you off so bad?

Yes, all across America, people are waking up to the fact that if you want to be cool, you talk about how you didn't like Juno all that much and you absolutely despise that pretentious whore Diablo Cody. Amelie Gillette predicted this weeks ago in the print-only edition of The Hater, and it came to fruition very recently. There was Dana Stevens' piece in Slate discussing it, a brutal and hilarious Something Awful takedown and a ummm...not so funny Super Deluxe video.

Get it? Because she wrote a movie where some of the dialogue rhymed!!!

But what about that Juno screenplay? Despite containing the cringe inducing phrases "Honest to blog" and "Phuket, Thailand" (what does that mean, by the way?), most of the script is smart and quick and does a good time balancing quirkiness with the serious situation introduced by the plot. Detractors of the script point to what they call a faux (or even worse, real)-hipster sensibility and characters who talk and act more like movie characters than real people.

They have a point, what with American cinema making a sharp turn towards realism. I still remember how critics and audiences alike swooned over the hyper-realism of this summer's batch of blockbusters. All the plots kind of blurred together for me, but I believe the movies involved some sort of conflagration of giant undead fighting robots going up against a wiseacre CGI cop voiced by Bruce Willis. There was also that one that was about, I believe it was a bunch of pirates fighting teenage wizards over who would get to rescue John Cusack from a haunted hotel room.

Realism fever, catch it! I mean, Lord knows I can relate to the time my mescaline addicted friend painted his face in multiple bright colors and crashed his convertible into my Manhattan townhouse just minutes before my mother was set to marry her longtime accountant. Tex is always ready to regale us with the story of his friend who put on a play about Vietnam in his high school auditorium using real explosives. We don't talk about it much, but when I visited Ush in San Francisco we had a madcap adventure involving mixed up identities, bowling and nihilists. And boy, if I had a nickel for every time a fat pot smoking loser with absolutely no social graces impregnated a blonde bombshell and then married her, well, let's just say I could build a nickel house that could be seen from space.

So the question becomes, is this backlash being driven by misogyny? I guess there's an irony or something that doesn't fit in my willingness to jump up to Brooke's defense and not Hillary's using the big "M" word, but I don't care. There's less at stake in Hollywood than there is in the race for the White House, and therefore more room to toss around accusations of lowbrow hatred without ruining the debate. There are two quotes from a New York Times interview that particularly impresses me:

"I have never been an ambitious person, and my participation in this industry is a fluke, but only male writers can afford to be coy and self-deprecating."
"The attitude toward women in this industry is nauseating. There are all sorts of porcine executives who are uncomfortable with a woman doing anything subversive. They want the movie about the beautiful girl who trips and falls, the adorable klutz."

Think about Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, or her loathsome modern equivalent, Jessica Alba in Good Luck Chuck. Think of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up who tripped and fell on to Seth Rogen's dick and spent the rest of the movie somewhere between joyless succubus and screeching harpy. The only thing more boring and predictable than being a woman in the lead role of a modern romantic comedy is being Morgan Freeman in any movie with a white co-star. When a guy gets dumped in the movie he hits the bottle, sleeps around and grows a totally awesome sadness beard. When a woman does, it's bonbons and crying, without even an attempt at fun.

Don't be stupid, highly regressive gender politics play a large role in the Diablo Cody backlash. I don't know where people got off claiming there were no teenage girls like Juno in this world, because I've known plenty of them. Not quite as witty of course, but if there were ever a movie that actually detailed a realistic picture of high school life it would be so dreadfully boring and cringe inducing that there would be riots. Yes, riots, just trust me on this. So let's lay off Diablo Cody for awhile. One movie into her career, she has a legitimate hit in her corner. At least give her a chance to bomb before writing her off as America's Next Top Hack.