Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blozor Does Debbie

If you enjoyed the movie Watchmen, your mother deserves to be raped.

This is not my opinion; this is something that Conservative columnist Debbie Schlussel stated in a recent review of the film. (To read it, simply enter the words "Debbie," "Schlussel," and "Watchmen" into the nearest Google Search Engine.) Now, I am going to extend the basic journalistic courtesy from one columnist to another by refraining from using terms like "total whack job" or "completely [BLEEP]ing insane" to describe her. I shall refrain from suggesting that Schlussel's shallow and ignorant shock value statements are nothing more than an apparent attempt to replace Ann Coulter, who faded into obscurity after becoming a voter liability. I am also not going to use words like "shallow," "ignorant," or "shock value" to describe Schlussel's statements. Such insinuations would be beneath me.

Nor am I going to point out the obvious fact that the name of her syndicated column, "Debbie Does Politics," is a play on the title of probably the most famous pornographic movie of all time. To imagine her saying something like "Oh, Senator Hardwick, what a big caucus you have!" would certainly be below my journalistic standards, and I am not going to stoop to such levels in this column. No sir!

I would much prefer to avoid negative remarks such as these, which I must emphatically state, for the purpose of clarification, cannot be considered libel if they're either matters of opinion or true facts. For instance, it would be a matter of opinion to state that I think someone who named her column after a famous pornographic movie is probably not the most qualified authority to dictate what is and is not obscene. It would also be a matter of opinion to state, if it wouldn't be absolutely beneath me to make such an accusation, that she obsesses over the movie's few brief displays of non-sexualized male genitalia with a passion that would make a person wonder if things are all right for her at home.

It would be closer to fact to say that Schlussel's review of Watchmen reads like a poorly researched junior high book report on a book she didn't read, or that she writes professional sounding statements that only a fourteen-year-old girl could generate: "Wow, isn't that cool that they got it wrong on purpose? I'm so amazed at this 'high-brow art' of deliberately getting dates and timelines wrong, you know, just to be 'artistic,' and get the drooling of the critics. That is sooooo genius. Like way totally cool." On second thought, that may be going too far. I'm sure there are many teenage girls out there who are far better writers than Debbie Schlussel.

Debbie Schlussel jumped on the chance to insult an incredibly popular movie with a large cult following to get herself noticed with about as much tact as a schizophrenic ripping her shirt open on a busy street corner and shouting "I SEE PENISES!!" She feigns outrage at the abundant graphic violence against convicted felons and child killers throughout the movie, despite commenting on the upcoming Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds that, "I'll never be disturbed by seeing Nazis hacked to death." She says nothing to condemn the brutal slaying of two lesbian lovers depicted in the movie, so long as no one has to explain to their child what a "lesbian" or a "whore" is. If one wanted to be so bold, one might conclude that, it's not the violence or gore that Debbie Schlussel has a problem with as long as it's directed toward those she deems worthy.

Her original review of the movie received a lot of attention from people who had major problems with it, the most glaring of which being that it was written by an idiot. (Ha ha! That is simply some good-natured ribbing from one humorist to another, and certainly in no way intended as a malicious comment!) This prompted Debbie to write an entire second article to address the apparent fact that her mind had snapped like a dry twig.

For her encore, she whips out her thesaurus leaving no synonym for "moron" untouched and enthusiastically calls for the mass genocide of everyone who enjoyed the movie: "The e-mails they send me and the comments they make … reminds me of the blind statements of followers of Jim Jones. And we all know what happened after they drank he purple Kool-Aid. If only this movie could achieve that result, it would be the most fantastic exercise in natural selection ever conducted in America."

This is where she states that if you enjoyed the movie Watchmen, "maybe your sister should be fed to dogs and your mother raped and your brother should have his arms sawed off."

Someone should remind her that it is just a movie, and as such, it doesn't pose nearly the same threat as the blind followers of her destructive hate speech.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Cultural Music Preservation Society

We here at the Cultural Music Preservation Society, (or SHASTA, for short), have become alarmed at the number of really good songs from the past several decades that may not be preserved to drive future generations crazy.

First, let me explain the purpose of the Cultural Music Preservation Society. Our, (myself, and a whole slew of non-existent people), non-profit organization spends an annual 3.9 billion federal ("taxpayer") dollars researching which really good songs from the past few decades should be preserved for decades to come. (This is not true. The federal government, outside the IRS, has no idea that I even exist, and could not care less which songs get preserved.) (The federal government probably has no idea that these songs even exist.)

In short, we are a society dedicated to the preservation of cultural ("really good") music. This brings me to the point of today's column. I have found that if the public isn't informed by someone at least pretending to be associated with the federal government which songs are good or bad, the public will go about doing extremely public things like listening to really bad songs performed by artists like Michael Bolton or Nickelback. This may have been what happened to Iron Butterfly's classic Sixties hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," which was a good song, but unfortunately contained upwards of 14 minutes of drum solo. Even with the drum solo edited out, so the song was shortened down to less than three minutes, classic rock radio stations still wouldn't play it because, without the drum solo, the song makes absolutely no sense. If every single person in a particular city called up requesting "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" one day, the deejay would simply make up a request for a more "reasonable" song. ("And it looks like U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel has just called in with a request fooooooorrrrrr… uuuuuuuhhhhhh… 'The Monkees Theme,'" the deejay would say.)

I'm not saying that "The Monkees Theme" is a bad song. I'll even admit that I sometimes sing "The Monkees Theme" while sitting in front of my computer, waiting for my brain to make up important facts about members of Congress. ("We're the young generation, and we've got something to say," I'll sing, followed by, "I wonder if I could turn THAT into an important fact about U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel.") Anyway, after long, difficult, and pain-staking research, we here at the Cultural Music Preservation Society have come up with a list of songs that we believe should be preserved:
  1. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
  2. "If You Go" by John Secada
  3. "All She Wants to do is Dance" by Don Henley
I've decided that Michael Jackson's "Thriller" should be culturally preserved. After watching various groups of people do the "Thriller" dance on YouTube — including a U.S. Marine, about 500 different wedding parties, an entire Philippine prison camp, and Darth Vader and four Stormtroopers — I started wanting to learn the "Thriller" dance myself, all 14,794,932 moves of it. You never know when it might come in handy, such as a spontaneous diversion during a mugging or hostage situation.

Also while avoiding any productive work by watching YouTube videos for "research purposes," I came upon the video for the song "If You Go" by John Secada, whom I vaguely remember from the Nineties as having a name that sounds suspiciously like a type of insect. The video depicts an orange John Secada running down an orange highway to a yellow church where his golden girlfriend is getting married to a brown man, then it cuts to a yellow John Secada singing in front of a yellow car at an orange gas station. After a while, I found myself kind of cheering for John Secada, hoping that by the time he gets to the yellow church, the constipated look on his orange face goes away so she'll see that she really loves him, and they can have little goldenrod children together, if the people staring at them angrily on the bus don't eat them first.

Finally, the song "All She Wants to do is Dance" by Don Henley. It sounds sort of like what would happen if Skynet sent a group of cyborgs back to 1985 with a mission to terminate new wave music, so instead of trying to kill Sarah Connor, they formed Hewey Lewis and the News and released this song. It's about a woman who could easily dance straight through the Third World War. If Godzilla attacked the local disco lounge, all she'd want to do is dance, dance, dance. If Godzilla asked her on a date, all she'd want to do is dance, dance, dance, and make romance. I feel that this song should be preserved so future generations will look back on us and laugh at what horrible songwriters we were.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The History Of Music

Music has existed for as long as I can remember, which easily dates back to at least 500,000,000 B.C., when the very first Neanderthals picked up their clubs and beat them rhythmically against the heads of other Neanderthals to produce the sixteen-minute psychedelic hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."

Some time later, God created the universe and nothing musically happened for a while because God sent His Chosen People to wander around in the desert being persecuted, and no one felt like singing about it since angsty rock wouldn't be popular until the early 1990's. Later, David wrote the Book of Psalms, (a Hebrew word, meaning "more than one Psalm"), which recommended praising God with instruments such as the "psaltery" and the "lyre," which are, clearly, made-up words.

Not much is known about the development of ancient music directly following the Biblical period of recorded history, which spans from the Creation of the Universe through the End of the World. The Middle Ages were littered with wandering minstrels traveling the hillsides, singing ballads of brave knights and fair maidens until someone would throw a shoe at them and tell them to shut up. Eventually people decided to give various musical concepts names like the note, the tune, the tone, the chord, the powerchord, the bass, the treble, the flat, the sharp, the flarp, the scale, the rhythm, the timbre, the tenor, the baroke, the lute, the pitch, the whistle, and the electric slide.

Applying these terms and many more, classical composers spent the next four centuries composing music that, as near as anyone can tell, did not contain the slightest hint of a guitar solo. Instead, orchestral musicians would perform these songs using instruments with comical names like the "oboe" and the "bassoon." ("Look at that oboe player! What a bassoon!") Some of these pieces are still played to this day on that one station at the bottom of the dial that no one listens to because each song is over an hour long and followed by several more minutes of dead air while the deejay wakes up.

The classical period produced many composers with names like Fritzhanz Lupidus Van Halen II, and peaked when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Symphony No. Infinity" was bumped from its Number One spot on the Billboard Charts by Ludwig Kamikaze Beethoven's immortal masterpiece "Symphony No. Infinity Plus One." Toward the end of the 1800s, the pioneering spirit of the American West was captured with sweeping orchestral compositions that expressed such important aspects of frontier life as "Beef. It's what's for dinner."

Fresh off the heels of the classical period came the big band era of the 1920s because people decided they wanted to dance to their orchestral music without looking like some sort of twit. Big band possessed an incredibly upbeat sound created by a rhythm section and about 50,000 horn players, or "hornists" as they're called in the music world. Big band fell out of popularity with the onset of the Great Depression when nobody felt like dancing anymore.

Following the Great Depression, music split into two major categories: "jazz," a highly technical form that borrowed many elements from big band except that you couldn't dance to it, and "blues," which stripped music down to its basic components of one guitar and a four lines repeated over and over. Jazz and blues combined to give us the music we know and enjoy today, namely: rock, pop, classic rock, heavy metal, dance, R&B, rap, country, folk, bluegrass, ska, punk, new wave, funk, synthpop, bubblegum, alternative, ambient, golden oldies, Motown, world beat, techno, disco, grunge, opera, nu metal, progressive rock, and the electric slide, none of which anybody's parents ever liked.

Modern recording equipment, created in the early Twentieth Century by genius inventor Benjamin Franklin, who was already quite old when he discovered America and when he painted the "Mona Lisa," makes the creation and distribution of music easier than ever before. Beethoven, for instance, only wrote maybe ten songs in his entire lifetime, and you had to lug an entire symphony orchestra around with you if you wanted to hear one of his songs, say, while you were driving. Modern artists can easily double that output on each album, and you can listen to it anywhere, whether you want to or not. By the time Benjamin Franklin invented the Internet in 1996, people had grown tired of the recording industry gouging (literally, "poking with sharp sticks") prices and started "downloading" music for "free." This upset a great number of Metallica's Lars Ulrich and deregulated the music industry, forcing musicians to compete by creating music that no sane person would ever want to hear, a trend that still continues to this day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Beating A Dead Infrastructure

When you talk about the economy, you can't just throw around big words without knowing what they mean or pretty soon people will get wise to the fact that you don't know what you're talking about, and they will stop trusting you for investment advice. "Use the word 'infrastructure' in a sentence," they will challenge. You can't just make something up. You can't say something like, "Whenever I yawn I get a sharp pain right in my infrastructure" because your doctor will know you're faking. You need to come up with a professional sounding economic statement like: "We need buttloads of infrastructures."

This is exactly the message President Obama sent to the American people during his first State of the Union Address, aptly titled "Buttloads of Infrastructures." During his address, he promised to "stimulate" the economy by taking it out to a fancy dinner, followed by a nice romantic movie such as Wall Street starring Michael Douglas, and concluding the evening with Champaign and intimate conversation back at his place. Okay, not really. He really pledged to "stimulate" the economy by throwing tons more money and infrastructures at it until it retreats, satisfied, back into its bog for another eighty years.

This is basically the exact same thing the Republicans have been doing for the past thirty years, yet somehow the Republicans suddenly have a problem with it now that it's a Democrat doing it. No Republican was more concerned with Obama's economic plan than Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who was tasked with responding to the President's address. During his response, Governor Jindal hit upon many important points such as:
  1. President Obama is not, as far as anyone can tell, a Republican.
  2. We should Care Bear Stare the economy back to life.
  3. What the hell is a "volcano," and why should we "monitor" one?
  4. The Republican Party would like to earn back America's trust.
By way of emphasizing that last point about the Republican Party earning back America's trust, it turns out that the story Governor Jindal told, wherein he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jefferson Sheriff Harry Lee while evacuating Hurricane Katrina survivors — a cornerstone of his speech — was completely false. He was nowhere near Jefferson Parish at the time of the flooding, and he only heard about Sheriff Harry Lee's courageous story second-hand a few days after it had happened. Still, Jindal's response was not nearly as disastrous as a response Illinois Governor Rod "Milorad" Blagojevich once gave to a President Bush speech, wherein Blagojevich declared himself the Supreme Ruler of Awesome and tried for a good five minutes to fly out of the Illinois Capital Building, only to claim that he wasn't flying because he decided he didn't want to and skulk out of the room.

We are already beginning to see the Republican response to the economic stimulus package they voted for recently, now that they have a chance to actually start reading it. ("Roads? What is wrong with the roads we already have? What this economy needs to create jobs here at home is more lead-filled pharmaceuticals that are made in China!" "Forget that! Let's put salmonella in everything!") The Republicans are also highly critical of a plan to build a high-speed magnetic rail system because they fear it will lead directly to legalized abortion, which they believe is only justified in extreme cases where the baby runs a high risk of being born gay.

The only thing Republicans and Democrats can readily agree on is that stubbornly refusing to compromise on any position is the only possible thing that can fix the economy. For instance, the Republicans still somehow believe that the markets don't need regulation even though we've already seen that (a) greedy people are not all that trustworthy and (b) deregulation is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. By contrast, the Democrats firmly believe that what the economy needs is more infrastructures. That's why President Obama is handing them out like it's a year-end clearance blowout sale on infrastructures and everything must go.

It turns out that none of our politicians really know how to fix our economy because not even they really know how the economy works. No one knows how the economy works. Economic analysts don't even know how the economy works; all they do is describe what the economy is doing right at this exact moment, using big words like "infrastructure." ("It appears the Dow Jones is continuing to plunge so I would recommend moving all of your assets into heavily fortified infrastructures.") Myself, I am going to go find me some volcanoes and monitor the heck out of them.