Monday, June 11, 2018

Just Us League

Short fiction piece, very rough, but I wanted to punch it out before the stupid theatre summit, the Bungle in the Jungle. There will probably be revisions over the next week or so.

The emperor boarded his plane with a scowl, in a fugue of anger and confusion. The convention with the other national leaders had not gone quite to plan. To the extent that there was a plan at all, it mainly consisted of variations on the classic theme of I talk, you listen and do what I say.

Usually the Euros and the Canadians just complied and went along, if for no other reason than force of habit. But somehow this time was different.

The Canuck was usually a polite little pussy. He even had a pussy name -- Justin. Justin. The emperor rolled it around in his brain for a bit, chewing on its sibilance and fricative, trying to think of something nasty that rhymed with it. That little prick.

The emperor sat in his plush seat on the jet, nodded to the servant to bring him his customary second lunch, and pulled out his phone to check the Twitter feeds. That gutless faggot Flake was at it again, talking big about the wrongness of it all. Whatever. Empty words. He'll get in line with McCain and Collins and the rest of those chumps. When push came to shove, all they ever did was talk.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Hearts Unknown

Just wanted to jump in from the (very brief so far) self-imposed hiatus to chime in a bit on today's sad news about Anthony Bourdain. I've mentioned before that I greatly enjoy Bourdain's writing and shows, and that has mostly to do with the humor and humanity that infused everything he did.

You could look at the career Bourdain had carved out for himself post-Kitchen Confidential, and rightly point out that he had been given the rare opportunity to literally design his dream job and live it, and be well-paid and highly-regarded for it. To travel anywhere he wanted and function essentially as a goodwill ambassador, and show the commonalities of people rather then the differences.

Everyone has to eat, and so it seems natural to bring people together over food -- and not high-dollar Michelin haute cuisine nonsense, but street food:  fast, greasy, tasty, the food that regular people with a modest amount of money in their pockets would eat. Sometimes Bourdain would add in rock bands that he enjoyed -- Queens of the Stone Age; The Sword -- and have lunch with them. The episode with Obama in Hanoi was especially poignant, and a wonderful moment for both men. Try to imagine the current....thing in the White House doing something like this. It's unthinkable.

Clearly Bourdain was a man of passions -- food, drink, music, politics. Certainly many of us can relate to such passions, and so can appreciate someone who (again) literally got to create his dream job around the things he was most passionate about. But there's always a price paid that no one else knows about.

None of us can know what's in someone else's head, obviously. I know that there have been times in my life when my passions could inflame, get maybe a bit past my control, to a point where you might be so passionate about something that you don't know what to do with it or how. You feel like your heart might just burst with all the energy and desire built up within.

Passion isn't always a voluptuous woman waiting for you; sometimes it's a tiger you figured out how to ride, but that you suddenly can't just dismount. Sometimes the world, in all its beauty and pain existing side by side, is too much, and all it takes is a moment to look into the abyss, and not look away in time. Take a moment to think about the people in your life, and reach out to them if they might be on the brink. If it's you that's on the brink, call someone, anyone. There is help, and it does get better. But you have to make that leap.

As disheartening and tragic as this morning's news is, there is a very small bit of comfort in seeing that, in the midst of the daily ugliness we all exist in these days, there was a large and genuine outpouring of grief for the loss of a good person, someone who was generous with his time and talent and position in life, even if he clearly wasn't entirely comfortable with those things. Rest in peace, Tony.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab

Feeling like I need a political detox, and I feel like I say that periodically without following through sufficiently. A good night's sleep and we're back on that horse again, tilting at the same old tottering windmills.

The entire country has been doing this to some extent, of course, whether they are amateur scriveners like yours truly, or just bewildered passersby who don't record every stray observation in a futile attempt at catharsis. Poison has collected in our collective veins, and when we have no way of expelling it other than sputtering impotent virtual rage, it builds up in our systems. We build up a tolerance to it, even as it continues to infiltrate and destroy the organs.

So this time I'm not promising a hiatus. It might be forty-eight hours or a month. There are, as always, a few creative projects still loitering in the back of what's left of my mind. I've been reading (mostly non-political) books at a torrid pace, something like thirty since the beginning of the year, fiction and non-fiction. There are some short fiction ideas I may tease out in here, there are some music ideas I might go work on, the local school district is offering free Pro Tools engineering classes for the summer, which might be a fun diversion.

There are a couple of other creative and commercial projects in the hopper, some of which may be shared here. There will be some visual updates to this site, maybe more of a link overhaul as well. And there's always more physical exercise to be had, especially in response to a chronically bad back, which only gets worse with age, I can assure you.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Everybody Complains About the Weather, But Nobody Does Anything About It

Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has a nice rundown of the antics of one David Bossie, a lifelong conservatard ball-gargler whose current preoccupation is sucking on the preznitential cheeto, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Now, a reasonable person might look at Steve's meticulously itemized list of Bossie's nefarious, ugly antics in the service of pure evil and say, This asshole's been doing what he does for twenty-five years now. That's terrible.

Not being a reasonable person, I look at that list and think, Why has that motherless fuck been allowed to get away with this bullshit for twenty-five fucking years? Is there no one in the Democratic Party that has the guts to cut this asshole's Achilles tendon, politically speaking?

Seriously. It just reminds me of all the stupid lurid "Klintoon Body Count" lists that circulated among the then-nascent freeper conspiratard crowd. You had to wonder, If the Clintons are such Mafia-style badass killers, why haven't they at least professionally ruined certifiable morons like Newt Gingrich or Ken Starr, or the rest of them? They don't seem very badass to me.

And it's the same with David Bossie or Dinesh D'Souza or any number of these dipshit rabble-rousers who, however intellectually inept and bankrupt they are as human beings, still serve as ideological rallying points and rainmakers for the Koch and Mercer types who really own this country. Why isn't there a party mechanism to go after these guys, so that every time they come out of the woodwork, there's someone right behind them to remind everyone that they're intellectual goat-fuckers?

These animals have done incalculable damage to the fabric of this nation over the last quarter-century, at the very least by giving voice to the choir of wingnut-welfare insanity that bought out the working rubes for a few shekels, and sold them down the river on a raft of cheap "culture warrior" bullshit and "fambly valyews" claptrap.

Maybe if the Tom Steyer types, who think their bien pensant drives to impeach the emperor have value, instead put some of their pelf into supporting some countervailing "think tanks" and other such generators of ideological propaganda, we might not find ourselves here wondering why card-carrying mouth-breathers like Bossie and D'Souza are still in business after all these years.

Friday, June 01, 2018

At the Movies: Worthless Asshole Edition

In case you were wondering:  the only way I'll ever watch a Dinesh D'Souza movie is if it involves him putting a Mossberg in his diseased piehole and splattering his brain-pan across the nearest wall. In a world of useless, vile cocksuckers, D'Souza stands out -- or slouches out, anyway. Not only is he the true essence of scum, in the usual moral and conventional sense, but he's completely useless as a human being.

Even Roger Stone has held a job at some point, and had to add value to whatever sleazy concern he grifted from at the moment. But D'Souza is one of those true dirtbags who moralizes and preens to no end, while he cheats on his wife and fucks married women, outs gay college students, compares liberals to nazis, participates in election fraud, but never actually does anything useful.

This is another thing that has always annoyed me about Barack Obama:  the man was simply incapable of hating effectively, in the true strategic sense. Forget the paranoia about Nixon's "enemies list" or what-have-you -- if Obama had really made a point of dropping the fucking hammer on people who were asking for it (Joe Lieberman; Addison Graves "Joe" Wilson; D'Souza) he might have engendered some real fear and respect from Mitch the Bitch and his gang of traitors, and gotten more accomplished, instead of having his name and legacy erased in a year by a jism-crusted baboon smearing shit on the walls.

By letting those losers off the hook rather than making well-deserved examples of them, Obama showed himself as a light touch. And that's how you end up with an industry-written health-care reform bill that's mostly a legislative zombie these days, a stolen SCOTUS seat, and on and on. D'Souza should have had to push ass out of some New England hellhole like Walpole, where he would have been traded weekly around the cell block for commissary items. I'm not kidding or exaggerating at all, D'Souza's track record is something that any decent person would be deeply ashamed of. He's a fucking piece of shit.

Instead, he gets a high-profile pardon from Preznit Tide Pod Challenge, which has the triple effect of making a political point to the scum getting ready to roll on Orange Julius, trolling the libtards, and ushering the gutter worm back onto the conservatard radar, where he can once again collect wingnut welfare checks for his hacky little snuff films. I do hope Obama is enjoying his paragliding weekends with Richard Branson. When we needed someone to really fight, and drop ankle-biting turds like D'Isgrace D'Souza down a fucking hole once and for all, we got a patient, calm explanation in cool, professorial tones about why the fight was just and worthwhile.

Never again am I falling for this shit; I want a goddamned eye-gouging street fighter, someone who head-butts the opponent right in the nose, then leans in and goes Mike Tyson on the motherfucker's ear. All you Marquess of Queensberry fools lamenting the absence of decorum can sit right the fuck down, and go back to your accounting jobs or whatever.

Decorum is dead, they wheedled it into their windowless ice cream truck and raped and killed it, and we're not interested in resurrecting it until all the Pogo the Clown types on the other side have been dealt with appropriately and with real finality. I'm dead serious; I want their kids and grandkids to be completely unemployable.

Regardless of whether Fuckface Von Clownstick is impeached or resigns or gets another term, I have zero interest in returning to the gutless incrementalism and performative normalcy of the ambitiously cowed technocrats. The contradictions have been well and truly heightened, ferchrissake. The warning should be sent out to Democrats as well as Republicans -- fight or fuck off. Start bringing a gun to the gunfight for once in your worthless lives, because the other guys certainly are, every time.

To reiterate:  fuck that asshole. Like the rest of them, D'Souza needs to be crushed, made broke and powerless and away from any platform of influence. I hope we have a new generation of Democratic politicians coming in who quit persisting in delusions about "collegiality" with these traitors and thieves, and simply set about to the hard but rewarding work of ending them, of burning their careers and livelihoods to the ground and poisoning the earth beneath.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Failed State

In the seventy-two hours since 'murka sorta learned a bit about what a mentally-ill conspiracy troll Roseanne Barr really is (and her "Planet of the Apes" nonsense isn't even the third-worst thing she's said on her Twitter feed this week), several other things happened, all of them infinitely more important. I swear, it's true!

  • A Harvard study conservatively estimates that the death toll from Hurricane Maria is more than fifty percent higher than that of 9/11. In response, the failing New York Times put that story on page A13, so as not to distract from the Roseanne hoof-clomping on the front page.
  • A journalist critical of the emperor's daddy found himself in Putin's crosshairs. So the Ukrainian police, having gotten a heads-up on the assassination plot, helped him fake his death, and then helped him show up at a press conference the next day. Take a second and think about how amazing that is, as well as the obvious implications.
  • Interpol, which is currently headed by a Russian internal-security specialist, attempted to arrest Bill Browder in Spain, for extradition to Russia, where he would certainly die. Fortunately, after bringing him in, the Spanish police released him. But shit is getting serious and weird on that whole story, as Browder is of course the Rosetta Stone to the whole Russia collusion narrative, if you dig back far enough.
  • Princess Snowflake got thirteen trademarks awarded to her by the Chinese government, who just happen to have sunk half a billion dollars into Daddy's next building in Indonesia, and for whose security-violating tech company ZTE is going the extra mile to help. It's simply an amazing series of coincidences!
  • The emperor has decided to start some weird trade war, with pretty much all of our allies, starting with steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico and China, to proposing a ban on German luxury cars -- many of which, of course, are actually made in 'murka. It's as if he doesn't realize that Mercedes-Benz is the sponsor for the brand-new Atlanta Falcons football stadium.

And yet, chances are that you've seen at least ten or twenty times as many mentions to the other thing, either to the cultists' reaction to their slob goddess getting pushed off because her toxicity finally got bad for business, or to their renewed passion for librul scalps.

I like Sam Bee, but she obviously could not have picked a worse time to call Princess Snowflake the dreaded c-word. (A better c-word for Princess would have been "criminal". Just like dear ol' dud.) She only compounded the problem by apologizing. If there's one thing libruls should have learned from these toxic motherfuckers by now, it's never apologize. Double down, tell them to go fuck themselves, or just ignore them, but never ever apologize to them for anything. It's an admission of weakness, and they don't deserve the consideration in the first place. It's not as if such a thing would ever be reciprocated.

To put this as crudely as possible, Bee is going to get fired anyway, but now she first got on her knees for them, and let them blow a porn-size load in her face and hair. (I may be understating the case a bit.) Assuming TBS lets her have at least an episode or two before they pull the trigger on her (perhaps making it look like summer started, and they just opted not to renew), she should just do an entire episode on Princess' grifting, and her entire scumbag family using the office and residence of the chief executive as profit centers.

In the waning months of the Fredo Arbusto reign of error, this country had been taking on the classic signs and symptoms of a failing state. As the Dow plummeted and the banks went under, financial metrics (particularly debt-to-GDP ratio and insane financial leverage ratios) kept pointing toward doom. Obama tried his best to alleviate the situation, and was successful in some regard, but it would have taken at least a decade even with a cooperative congress. But things were at least sputtering in a generally forward direction.

Obviously, even that bit of incremental progress has been halted and reversed, and it's going to particularly affect all those rube farmers that voted for him because they wouldn't know a competent, honest bidnessman if they saw one. And it's going to be worse this time around, because in response to Preznit Chocolate Thunder, an entire industry of cultural grievance-stoking started and thrived and evolved, compounding the coming economic fuckery with a plurality of the public addled by fake news and ritualized performative outrage. That is a potent combination that will make even returning to the halcyon days of 2015 nearly impossible for the foreseeable future. And you know that the next iteration of these animals will be smoother, slicker, less obnoxious and boorish, but more adept with the dog-whistles and code words.

These people have weaponized the cultural grievance, put it into practice at the executive level. Picture any drunk at any barstool at any dive bar across the country, the dumber and drunker and dive-ier the better. How does such a person in such a place typically sound? At best, they're always right about everything, even though they're spouting nonsense, and they cannot be reasoned with. The bartender is just praying that the asshole will pass out or leave before he starts a fight or spills a full tumbler of well whiskey.

That's not only who we have in the White House, that's his staff, his supporters, his rabid retard fan-base that chants his empty slogans back to him, like the semi-trained pinnipeds they are. The sheer ugliness these mutants communicate with is bad enough, but the willful stupidity is what cinches it. They would have to work at getting up to a "deplorable" ranking; the vast majority are simply irredeemable.

And I hate to say it, and I am counting on the midterms to at least begin to pull us back from the brink, but these incomprehensibly stupid, worthless "cultural" arguments convince me more and more that the damage is done and the race is run. It doesn't matter if they die off, enough of them have adult children who have been raised and steeped in the nonsense, and are just as aggressively stupid as their parents. Eventually Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers will die, and not a moment too soon, but they all have adult kids who have been groomed to take over and keep the propaganda pumping.

It's turned a lot of people, who might otherwise be at least somewhat idealistic in nature, into nihilists. Part of me wants to watch those farmers lose their family farms when China breaks off a retaliatory tariff in their fat asses. Part of me wants to watch us stumble into another disastrous Middle East war, so gasoline goes to seven bucks a gallon. Part of me wants to watch Clownstick and his scum family continue to grift right out in the open, defying someone, anyone to do anything about it, just to expose the craven, gutless observers for what they are. Part of me wants to watch the bastards win again, overwhelmingly, so there's no mistaking where this country is at.

Again, did the election change this country into something vile and ugly, or was it there all along, just waiting to be unleashed? I think we're in the long, torturous process of finding that out right now.

Eventually these nihilism fugues run their course, and the numbers and logic kick back in, and the cycle renews. Most of it is because all the action is on one side of the table -- shit-for-brains struts and preens and rubs his insult-comic bullshit in everyone's faces, and his dipshit cultists repeat it verbatim, and the propaganda machine rolls on. And I want them to lose, badly, and to know that they caused their own misfortune. To know why they failed is vital to them ever having any hope of getting their heads out of their asses at any point.

Being a toxic, spiteful asshole should come with a karmic penalty sufficient to deter future such behavior. Unfortunately, life and the universe have never worked that way. Each of us, singly and collectively, has to decide if it's all worth it, if we even want "it" back, if Lady Liberty just turns out to be a rabid internet conspiracy troll with a dumb show that never should have been rebooted in the first place.

We are getting closer to finding out. Every election is billed as The Most Important Evar, but it's tough to deny that this time, it really might be that crucial. Not just because of the political aspects, but if we've decided to let the Bachelorette-huffing culture morons

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Race to the Bottom

Looks like Roseanne finally stepped in it good and hard, or maybe ABC and Disney finally decided they'd had enough of her toxic schtick. She's been doing this sort of thing for some time, you know, skirting the edge of acceptability, as it were.

I gave up on the rebooted show after the doubleheader premiere, and have not bothered following it since then, but I do occasionally check out her Twitter feed. While her (obviously since erased) swipe at Valerie Jarrett was over the line, Roseanne has not been shy about approaching said line with more conspiracy-oriented stuff (which, of course is what the "Muslim Brotherhood" part of the Jarrett tweet was about, because Jarrett was born in Iran, you see).

There's always a good, principled debate to be had on the perennial subject of how far is too far, but the problem is that one side typically argues from the most intellectually dishonest standpoint imaginable. The conservative approach to pop culture or even the basic rules of comedy or music seem to revolve around the classic why can they call each other that and we can't call them that? sort of plaintive nonsense.

The idea that they are now held accountable for using that word in a public forum rankles them. They feel that they are entitled to dare the effete, officious gatekeepers of permitted public discourse, and when they are inevitably rebuffed, they'll waddle back under their rocks, asses on fire, squawking some rehearsed boilerplate about Harvey Weinstein.

But let's play devil's advocate for a moment. The Simpsons, for example, has made a cornerstone comedic staple of lampooning racial stereotypes, not just Apu but the Italian pizza guy and the pugilistic leprechaun and others. But those comedic tropes have always come buttressed with context and subtext, a sense of taking the piss out of those stereotypes in the end. Apu and Luigi interact perhaps as hyphenated Americans, but Americans who are trying to assimilate nonetheless.

But the Jarrett tweet cannot be contextualized or subtextualized. The "Planet of the Apes" crack is obvious as it is, so there's no need to parse that one. That's not a "taking the piss" reference. Making a joke, say, about Jarrett talking loudly in a movie theater, telling the character in the movie to get out the house!, that's something where black people might see that and take it as a harmless joke. But "monkey" jokes are as off-limits as the n-word itself, and someone who claims to have been a professional comedy person for decades shouldn't need to be told that.

It's the "Muslim Brotherhood" part that's more interesting. It encourages one to recall that that was in fact a rumor about Jarrett while she worked in the White House, and that it was part of a much larger and stupider conspiracy, one that Roseanne's own oompa-loompa hero began his storied political career with. Funny how this bullshit keeps coming up, and when they're called on it, they try to say that they're joking, or that they shouldn't be taken literally or seriously, or whatever Humpty Dumpty couch-fort bullshit they lamely try to hide behind.

This is not about free speech, not at all. This is about the world of commerce, and how employees interact within that realm. This is about a multi-national conglomerate with tentacles in everything, and that boycotting Disney would be almost too easy, especially when their brand new Star Wars movie already under-performed in its opening box office. It's also about taking a look at the things that these people say and do, and trying to imagine for a second what it must take to get your mind to work like that routinely.

Seriously. Few people even know who Valerie Jarrett is. But this is an important insight into how the minds of these people work -- Roseanne decided that this was something worth making a not-even-borderline crack about. And when you're done imagining the mindset of the person who operates that way, now imagine the mindset of the person who reads that and says to themselves, Now that's funny!. Their insatiable need to dehumanize their political opponents literally has no limit; even after they're gone from the political arena they are considered fair game for what are at best bizarre taunts.

So now Roseanne will become another self-styled First Amendment martyr, sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, to which reasonable people will respond, Tell it to Colin Kaepernick. Don't be at all surprised if Fox picks up the show to put it behind Crybaby Tim Allen's Last Man Standing. And of course Emperor (Putting the Me in Memorial Day) Snowflake will bring it up tonight in his totally legal and appropriate campaign rally. But in the end, it really is just a goddamned teevee show, and a mediocre one at that.