Archive for January, 2010

America Loves Lists! – Top 5 Mythical Creatures

Posted by Matt on Friday, January 29th, 2010

Humanity has long been fascinated with legendary + mythical creatures. Me? Not so much. They kind of seem like they’re just made up by drunk villagers sitting around a campfire. How hard can it be? Let me take a stab at it. My new creature – the Carpiniyak: Part bird, part anorexic sheep. Has telegraphic abilities when the sun goes down, grows cranberries from his beard and always ‘houdinis’ from social gatherings without saying goodbye. Bam. That took 18 seconds.

I guess next thing I know, Dr. Dan is going to tell me the Carpinyak actually exists in some Slavic lore and I’m infringing on someone’s merchandising rights. Sorry about that Miroslavo.

Here are GW’s Top 5 Mythical Creatures:

Hey Scott Brown, I found your Halloween costume. You're welcome.

5. Satyr:

For someone who claims disinterest in mythical creatures, I sure as hell have read a lot of Tom Robbins’ novels. With that in mind,

Satyrs were originally seen as companions of the goat god Pan in ancient Greek civilisation. The first drawings of satyrs were of normal men, though often with an erect phallus. It was later merged with the Roman faun which is when they began to be depicted as half men half goats (the upper body being that of the man, and the lower half being that of a goat). Satyrs are described as roguish but faint-hearted folk — subversive and dangerous, yet shy and cowardly. In old age they are often seen with horns on their head, while young satyrs are seen with nubs instead.

If your erect phallus lasts for over 2 centuries, you should consult a Ugandan witch doctor.

4. The Even-Tempered Italian:

Guy: Jeter sucks!

Even-Tempered Italian: I respectfully disagree. While his range at shortstop has certainly diminished, he can still swing the stick.

Guy: Your Mom can still swing the stick!

ET Italian:  I understand your implication. However, I am choosing not to respond due to your apparent lack of knowledge regarding my mother.  If you would like to continue this conversation, might I suggest the Argo Tea down the block.

After reading this over, I am struck by what a kickass creature a stereotypically offensive “Italian ET” would be.

Italian ET steps on a bathroom scale, it reads 35 lbs.
Elliot: 35 pounds? You’re fat!

Italian ET: Kid, stop breaking my alien procreative glands. I’ll bust that phone on your fuggin’ skull. Capiche?

3.  The Unicorn:

The unicorn is usually shown as a horse with a long single horn on its head, but it originally had a billy-goat beard, lion’s tail, and cloven hooves. The unicorn is virtually the only creature in legend which did not come from human fears and was, in fact, a rather gentle creature. It was considered impossible to capture a unicorn except by using unfair methods. The horn was said to be able to neutralise poison. The unicorn first came to be known during the Indus Valley Civilisation (3300–1700 BC).

In a world where most made-up figures are (rightly or wrongly) interpreted as vengeful and dangerous (see Werewolves/God/Allah/Devil, etc), it’s good to have a pacifist in the mix.

2.  The Banshee:

May the road rise before you, may the crazed wailing Celt be always at your back…

The banshee is from Irish mythology and are usually seen as female spirits. They were considered to be omens of death and were believed to have come from the “otherworld”. They are generally thought to be remnants of an ancient Celtic pagan religion in which they were minor gods, spirits, or ancestors. In English they are often referred to as fairies. According to legend, banshees will wander around the outside of a house wailing when someone inside is about to die.

It’s nice to have a legendary Irish creature who’s not drunk off his/her ass. You know what I’m talking about Leprechauns. GW fully supports equal rights for banshees, including marriage.

1. Griffin: I’ll cede to the experts on this one. Apparently, everybody loves a Griffin.

The Griffin is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was considered the “King of the Beasts” and the eagle the “King of the Air”, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. The griffin is generally represented with four legs, wings and a beak, with eagle-like talons in place of a lion’s forelegs and feathered, equine-like ears jutting from its skull. Some traditions say that only female griffins Sketch of a resting Griffinhave wings. Some writers describe the tail as a serpent. See the entry Saint George and the Dragon for a 19th century painting of St George and the dragon, showing a dragon that looks alot like a classically-conceived griffin. Classical and heraldic griffins are male and female. A “male” griffin, called a keythong in a single 15th century English heraldic manuscript, is an anomaly that belongs strictly to a late phase of English heraldry. Less commonly known to many, the griffin is a parent to the hippogriph – a combination of a horse and a griffin – even though griffens and hippogriphs are the worst of enemies.

Griffins must have really uncomfortable family parties.

Griffin: Have you thought about dental school?

Hippogriph: Jesus Christ, Mom. Will you lay off it? Just because I’m not King of the Air AND Beasts?! I’m doing fine.

Griffin: Well all I’m saying is that maybe it’s time to give it some thought. You’ve spent the last two decades galloping around California, scaring the hell out of day-laborers like a damn bum.

Hippogriph: I don’t have to take this shit. I’m out of here.

Griffin: Sure. Just gallop away. That’s what you’re good at.

Ungrateful hippogriphs.

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Judgmental Clowns Liveblog S.O.T.U.

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Hey, look at that: Another Obama speech. I bet it has some uplifting moments. Over/Under Standing Ovations = 47

Sexist color prediction:

Pelosi

Matt = Tan; Cort = Red w/ big pearl necklace; Kmac = Dressed Like a Funeral

Hillary

Matt = Green; Cort = Blue w/ uncomfortable smile

Special Guest?

Matt = Some sort of Troop; Cort = Hatian Survivor;  KMaC = Struggling Homeowner; Paul = Sully the Heroic Pilot Who’s Still Around

Standing O’s

Matt = 49;  Cort = 30; KMac = 35

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pelosi = Lilac w/ Big Pearl Necklace.  Cort nails the jewelry.

Cort: Biden + Pelosi color coordinate. After party should get nuts.

Matt: Pelosi cupping microphone like ballsac. CNN is insufferable. How many people do you need? It’s like the Fox NFL pre-game.

Quick aside – check out the woman who faints on Price Is Right. A new car!

These 2 old guys announcing the president are like the Old Timers on the Muppets. Harry Reid – savor that walk down the aisle.

Long-opening w/o an applause line. I am not hearing the call for blatant partisanship.

“Stubborn resilience in the face of adversity” = not talking about congressional Democrats. A lot of votes from the people who hated the bank bailouts. Cort = scared by Geitner’s forehead. Paul = Prefers people crunching numbers to be ugly.

In truth, did recover all but 1% of TARP $ (according to Economist). Republicans won’t stand for “tax cuts.” Boehner is so Orange. All is hilarious. Obama needed to be stronger all year stressing the fact that he raised no taxes + cut taxes for 95% of workers.

I see. Republicans don’t like jobs from the Stimulus since they didn’t support it. $30 billion to community banks for local lending. Cantor shakes head. He has offered so many solutions! Capital gains cuts to small businesses.

Infrastructure. Finally. Small on details.

GOP doesn’t like American jobs. Corporate profits, not jobs. Our current economy of consumption, not production. A product of GOP policies.

America 2nd place?! What is this, Olympics gymnastics. We won’t stand for it. Fuck yeah.

Cort = Dodd + Burris seating arrangement funny. Was awkward until Hank gave Dodd the name of his mausoleum guy.

Offshore? c’mon, dude. Nancy erupts for climate bill. Creamed.

Obama knows an importer/exporter! Cort = More American Apparel! Dour Models!

What about the bullshit farm subsidies? untouchable.

Less melamine (sp?)! I heard “Panama.” Let’s see the Birth Certificate McCain!

Where are the programs for disillusioned graduates who are through 20 years of school?

There it is. Debt forgiveness! Preach it brother. Tax exempt colleges jacking kids up. Pass this stuff, son.

Light on housing, foreclosure + loan modifications through bankruptcy courts. Health care…here come the personal stories…

Childhood obesity. Change is coming to 30% of Americans kids. Huskies. Skinny kid jeans!

Indirectly calls out GOP for obstructionism. Futile call for bipartisanship. McConnell getting hard thinking about November.

Cort = Si se puede!

Honest observers know this isn’t Obama’s deficit. Needed to be more forceful with this message. Will he call for the freeze? Wait for it….

Right now: Gutted regulatory system. Crumbling middle class. Bloated defense spending. Where’s the disconnect?

Someone must sitting next to Joe Wilson with a taser. “Deficit of trust” = big part of GOP platform.

Paul = when is he going to wag his finger at Roberts for last week’s bullshit? Here we go. Fuck yourself Alito. Slippery slope to 1st Amendment rationale for allowing corporate fraud.

Cort = McCain’s Pavlovian response to “earmark.”  Jumped up and possibly crapped himself.

Bulls 68,  Thunder 66. DRose is an All-Star. Where are y0u on that, Obama?

Confirm the nominees. Are you listening, DeMint? Douchebag.

Supermajority speak. Good idea. Won’t be practiced. “I would like to begin my reaching out to Republicans…and get totally patronized.” R.e.c.o.n.c.i.l.i.a.t.i.o.n.

Foreign policy: Combat troops out of Iraq by August. Yemen in September?

Obama has been strong on Veterans’ benefits, unlike his predecessor. Biden falling asleep. Obama hits another strong issue of his – nuclear proliferation. He + Lugar have been on point trying to corral former Soviet nukes.

Special Guest! Haitian Ambassador. Cort gets it.

D.A.D.T. again. Holding my breath. Gates likes it. Thinks it’s fabulous. How are they going to enforce this regulatory (equal pay) enforcement with a spending freeze?

Cort likes closing cliches. I’m a cynical one. Summers sleeping (at the wheel).

8 year boy from Louisiana must not have a cell phone.  Uplifting closer. Calculating Ovations.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Rebuttal:  ”I am the Governor of Virginia, and behind me are some Tokens…”

Cort = Double the pleasure. Double the Proactiv. Harsh.

GOP got really smart getting live audience. Jindal killed his nat’l career last year.

Once again, “limited government…until we come to power.” Reagan tripled deficit. Bush doubled.

I love hearing how we have the “best health care system” without any supporting evidence.

Cort = this guy should be hosting a game show.

“Son, if you want a good job…you need to get an aggressively nodding asian to sit behind you while you speak.”

Guy is sweating like a Goober at a Jay-Z show.

Quotes scripture: “to whom much is given, much is required…” Just don’t raise taxes on the rich.

Paul’s closing thought = is it all for naught?

Cort = Poor Bobby Jindal. This clown has nothing on you. Lay your head on my shoulder.

That was tiring. I’m totally Plouffed.

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What He Said

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

From Josh Marshall:

“I’m psyched that we’re done messing around with major social reforms and finally getting down to the real business of election year gimmicks.”

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Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Want To Fucking Rock!!!

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Please don’t set his Country Music Award on fire!

Police responding to a complaint  of loud noise have cited a Fond du Lac man for “rocking out” to the music of John Denver.

A police who responded to the man’s apartment last week could hear Denver’s music through the door.

The officer pounded on the door but the man didn’t answer. Finally the officer found out the man’s name from a neighbor and called to him, bringing the man to the door.

When asked why he had the music so loud, the man said he was “rocking out.”

The 42-year-old was cited for unnecessary loud noise. The ticket could result in a fine of about $210.

The late singer is known for such hits as “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

This is the loudest anyone has played Denver’s music since a slew of traumatic 1974 “key parties.”

Play us out, amigo…

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All-American Basketball League Calls for All-White, American-Born Teams

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 21st, 2010

 

Air-bino.

Bounce-Pass, Back Cut, Bounce-Pass, Left-hand lay-up. Showtime!

Move over ladies. There’s a new “WNBA” in town. And it promises to be just as enjoyable.

The All-American Basketball League announced in a news release it hopes to kick off its inaugural season this summer, according to a report in the Augusta Chronicle, with a 12-team lineup composed of all-white, American-born men.

Only players that are natural-born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league,” the statement, issued on Martin Luther King weekend, reportedly read.

Don “Moose” Lewis, described as a Georgia-based boxing and wrestling promoter in a report on BET.com, denied racism was behind his move to create the segregated hoops league.

Of course not. Why do people always equate bigoted nativism to racism?!

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he told the Augusta Chronicle. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white American-born citizens [sic] are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

Pass to the Center. Back to the Guard. Back to the Center. Set Shot. Goal In!!! And the Augusta Hooded Knights have defeated the Birmingham ShitKickers 42-41 in a cross-burner here at George Wallace Stadium.”

Lewis told the paper he defines “fundamental basketball” as different from the “street-ball” played by “people of color,” and claimed recent scandals in professional basketball — such as the gun charges dogging the WizardsGilbert Arenas – have made the creation of all-white teams a necessity.

Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he told the paper. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.”

To get the stated result, all this guy really needs to do is prohibit the participation of Ron Artest. But instead of having “no-hand-gesture” or “no-dick-touching” rules, he’s just going to restrict access to the league like it’s a country club. Give these Southerners some credit. They’re not hiding in any Racist Closet.

The proposal was swiftly condemned by the mayor of Augusta, one of the 12 Southeastern cities the league is eyeing.

“I could not support in good conscience bringing in a team that did not fit with the spirit of inclusiveness that I, along with many others, have worked so hard to foster in our city,” Deke Copenhaver told the Augusta Chronicle.

I understand that the league already has 12 teams. I assume that includes 10 teams from the South, plus BYU and the current Indiana Pacers.

However, looking into the future – if anyone can get me some financing, I have a pretty stellar vision for an expansion team. Picture this collection of pale NBA journeymen and young honks who couldn’t get to the next level.

Your 2011/2012 Chicago Bloomington-Normal Crackers:

G – Damon Bailey: Indiana’s half-court hero will put people in the seats.

G – Steve Wojciechowski: Obligatory scrappy Pol.

The Schintz-nit

G – Tom Coverdale: Obligatory red-headed chucker.

C – Dwayne Schintzius: Obligatory mullet.

C/F – Evan Eschmeyer: Northwestern legend. 4-inch vertical. 

G/F – Tom Kleinschmidt: Another local boy (older man) makes triumphant return to amateur hoops.

G/F – Sam Jacobson:  Are Jews allowed? We’re going to need a ruling.

C – Aaron Gray: I know he’s “technically” on the Bulls, but he has the time and probably needs to stretch his legs.

G – Bobby Sura : Sorry buddy. I know you’re white, but you’re not “white.” Stop dunking so much. 

G – Gerry McNamara: Now that’s a name for the All-American Basketball Association.  This team will be gunning from downtown!

F – Joe Krabbenhoft:  Another great “American” name. Go Badgers.

F/C – Danny Schayes:  Unfortunately, Schayes was part of a promotional campaign put on by the Anti-Defamation League that depicts him slam dunking and says, “If you really believe in America, prejudice is foul play!” Sorry pal, no dunking, and certainly no promotion of tolerance.

C – Nick Smith: The former Illini player has an Adam’s Apple we can all get behind.

Player/Coach – Larry Krystkowiak: No truly white team is complete without an 80s Jazz or Bucks’ player.  Mark Eaton can assist.

I’m also waiting out Brian Cardinal’s NBA career. Nobody plays whiter. Nobody.

Our uniforms will be transcendent - shirtless with jean shorts. 

Any additional input/scouting is appreciated.  As for league promoter Don Lewis, I’ll give him credit for thinking outside the box. Mr. Lewis, here are some additional ideas you can run with. Free of charge!

Samoan Marathon

All-Blind Dart League

Asian NASCAR

Betty Ford Beer Pong

Yuppie Tractor Pull

mismatched demographic & sporting event, Etcetera.

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Sarah Palin & My New Year’s Resolution

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Quit Smoking. Brush up my Spanish Language skills. Stop rewarding myself with a full bottle of wine after every time I exercise.

Hello Resolven...

These are all ways I could improve myself.  But let’s be honest: I don’t smoke that much. Wine tastes good. Mi español está más allá de ayudar. Huh?

Anyway, for the last year-and-a-half, I’ve had this knot of stress sitting somewhere between my soul and kidneys. The source is readily apparent, born of annoyance, contempt and incredulity. The source is Sarah Palin. There’s a simple solution to eradicate this source of stress from my life: For 2010, I’m giving up Sarah Palin.

The timing of my resolution coincides perfectly with Palin’s move to Fox News, perhaps the most predictable hiring since Quaker Oats nabbed Wilford Brimley. Or as the newswire on avclub.com appropriately read: Fox News Hires Sarah Palin As Commentator Because Of Course They Do.

patriot

Articulating why Palin bothers me is not difficult. If you search the site archives, you’ll find many previous manifestations of my disdain. It’s obvious Palin fits the mold of many leaders of the Far Right: a media creation great at simultaneously vilifying the media and selling her self-righteous, faux-populist image; while maintaining a dangerous unfamiliarity and lack of knowledge about public policy, foreign affairs, and any culture outside of Palin’s so-called, “real America.” (See Presidents #43 and #40)

In fact, it was the “real America” bullshit that probably ignited my dislike for her. Stupidity and ignorance I understand. Hell, I can relate. However, her contempt for those not like her (urbanites, Eskimos, etc.) is palpable and disgusting. Her villainization of government employees is Reagan-esque.  By Palin’s own definition, the 9/11 attacks weren’t even perpetrated on “real america.” So instead of warmongering about countries you know nothing about, maybe you should fucking zip it.

I give Ms. Palin credit for managing her image. She’s a perfect fit for Fox News. She has cultivated her image, manipulated her followers, and is collecting some serious coin. As a more-seasoned Carrie Prejean, she plays the victim perfectly. Softball questions from Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson are quickly labeled ”gotcha” questions from a “liberal” media, only because she can’t answer them. She uses her beauty pageant and newscaster experience to deflect any valid criticism as unfair, and nonsenically answers most other questions in common clichés and colloquialisms. She promotes “her” book via facebook + lifestyle shows, refusing to talk to actual journalists outside the Fox News bubble. Amusingly, in one of her many interviews with the sycophantic fluffers of Fox News, Palin couldn’t even give Glenn Beck a straight answer:

BECK: Who’s your favorite founder?

PALIN: Um… you know… well, all of them, because they came collectively together with so much–

BECK: Bull crap. Who’s your favorite founder?

PALIN: –diverse. So much diverse opin–So much diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union.

She ended up answering “Washington,” while simultaneously letting it be known that she didn’t like the question. In fairness, Washington is my favorite founding father too. However, I’m not sure why she was so terse. I would consider that a lightweight topic for a political entertainment show, or a 6th grade US History class.

Anyway………………

While politicians are almost universally full of hypocrisy, it’s really hard to compete with Palin:

    • She rails against “big government” and ”socialism,” while formerly presiding over the country’s most socialist government.

Republicans in Congress this June united to defeat a proposed windfall tax on oil companies, deriding it as a bad idea that would discourage investment in U.S. oil exploration.

Things worked out far differently in the GOP stronghold of Alaska, a state whose economic fate is closely tied to the oil industry.

Over the opposition of oil companies, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and Alaska’s Legislature last year approved a major increase in taxes on the oil industry — a step that has generated stunning new wealth for the state as oil prices soared.

And…

Palin’s administration last week gained legislative approval for a special $1,200 payment to every Alaskan to help cope with gas prices, which are among the highest in the country.

Bah! Socialist! And Like Beck, she supported Bush’s TARP bailout before she was against it. (just like the “Bridge to Nowhere.”)

  • She indignantly chastises anyone who doesn’t pay strictly positiveattention to her family, while conveniently using them as props to advance her own interests.

    whoa, whoa! Cashiers' check first, then leave us alone.

    To wit…

 The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

And

Concerning Letterman’s comments  about my young daughter (and I doubt he’d ever dare make such comments about anyone else’s daughter)”

See that?! Letterman would never make a joke about anyone else. How dare he?! Leave my kids alone! My body my choice! (oh wait, that’s not it) My kids are off limits…Until Barbara Walters comes by. When’s that? 2 p.m.?

I could go on and on, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Her critics recognize all this shit, and her supporters simply don’t care. As long as she passive-aggressively blames “others,”  couches everything in folksy language, and claims a sort of divine inspiration, Palin’s “real American” supporters couldn’t care less what policies she supports or what she actually stands for, as long as she keeps feeding  them vague, populist bullshit.

Palin has legions of blind followers. People are overcome with tears during her book tour. From Going Rogue Ghostwriter Lynn Vincent,

The room is supposed to be private, but obviously someone leaked, and before we can even be properly introduced, there’s a mob outside. One guy has photos of aborted fetuses he wants her to sign for Operation Rescue. Another guy, in a golf shirt, yells, “The magic Negro is making my money disappear, Sarah!” An elderly woman is weeping, pleading for SP to sign a photo for her grandson, who was wounded in Afghanistan.

Certainly, Obama has his share of true believers as well. But there’s one key difference: Sarah Palin is a quitter. She has quit almost everything she has ever started. She has never done anything to demonstrate that she doesn’t act solely out of self-interest.

And to take a page out of Palin’s book, I’m goin’ rogue. I’m quitting Sarah Palin.

That is not to say I will ignore Palin forever. Unlike some liberals who scoff at the idea of Palin’s political future, I think she’s a formidable figure.  This country elected fucking George W. Bush. Twice.  While I doubt she will ever be president, she is as important as any GOP member at the moment. As Nate Silver points out in his 10 Reasons That Sarah Palin Could Win the Republican Nomination:

Now then, do I think Palin is the favorite to win the Republican primary? Not necessarily. She’s certainly not the majority favorite and perhaps not the plurality favorite, depending on who runs. And you could fairly easily come up with a set of ten bullet points to argue against Palin’s chances. But I think she’ll run, and I think it would be a mistake to discount her chances too significantly given the makeup and mood of the Republican primary electorate.

Palin’s new position at Fox News will exponentially increase the amount of Palin-BS dumped on Americans. If you want, that’s something you can try to fight or put up with for the next 11 months. Not me, cuz I’m not playing this round.

So, to former Governor Palin, mother, wife, pundit, fraud, I say…til next year.

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New Year’s Resolution 2008: A look back

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

In anticipation of my 2010 New Year’s resolution (hopefully posted after work today), I would like to take a look back at my most recent “Resolution.” Objectively speaking, I think I did a pretty good job curbing this behavior, except when I’m drunk. Thanks to everyone who helped!

Everyone,

I am humbly asking you all – friends, associates, virtual acquaintances, distant relatives – to assist me with my effort to better myself (and thus, the world) as of the arbitrary date of January 1, 2008.

You may be thinking – ‘Oh, good – another person is deciding to quit smoking.’ Or,
‘Finally that slim bastard is going to eat a couple cheeseburgers.’
Nope. I plan on living ’08 with the same unhealthy lifestyle I’ve
lived most of my life. And it will be romanticized, and interspersed with periods of self-loathing and manic enjoyment.

My problem is a little less tangible, reaching into the complexities, or lack thereof, of the subconscious. For you see my friends, I am a sentence-finisher.

This is not a joke.  Some of you who have been around me for a long time may have already known this and just politely kept quiet while I interrupted and annoyed the shit out of you.  Until recently, I was oblivious.  However, over the past year or so I have found myself increasingly aware of this behavior, yet unable to help myself.  I will listen to people, but only up to the point where I feel I can better say what they may or may not be thinking.  At work, at home, in social situations, and even in places like the supermarket checkout line.

Cashier:  Would you like to try our spec-
Me: -the special 2 for 1 Double Stuff Oreos? No thanks – I don’t have my Jewell Card and I just came in for razor blades, these Pierogis, and an avocado. But thanks.

Where does this urge come from? I don’t know if I can really give a precise answer.  However, I do know that my Mom (Merry Christmas and God Bless her) comes from a long line of sentence-finishers. My great-grandfather Amos was once cast from town for a short period for frequent interruptions of his Pastor at Sunday Church.  During the Lord’s Prayer, Amos would use his booming voice to invoke the need for his heifers to be blessed with relatively painless, and bountiful calf-bearing pregnancies.

Pastor: “Give us this day our daily bread, and for-”
Amos: “AND forgive the time the one with the misshapen udder ate oats from the granary, as she forgives us fer calling her “Corn Crackin’ Bessie.”

If you haven’t already deleted this message, you’re probably asking one of three things:

A. What is wrong with this guy?
B. Where is the closest place to get my hands on some Oreos? OR
C. How can I help you help yourself?

I wish I had a simple answer for any of those questions.  As for the last one, I have one suggestion – make me feel like a giant tool. This should not require too much effort on your part. Sometimes none at all. But there are certain ways the interruptions can be handled.

For instance,

You:  I was thinking about -
Me: -Whether you wanted to get some Indian Food? For sure.
You: No. I was thinking about whether I wanted to punch you in the face or the kidney.

You:  Have you ever seen the one episode -
Me: -oh, the one where they have Diversity Day? Classic.
You: No, the one episode on Dateline where they talk about how people with halitosis can’t tell they have bad breath. You should check it out.

You get the idea.

In the end, it’s all about me and what you can do to help me, while thinking of me and making me a better person. Don’t forget me – I mean, don’t forget that.  Happy New Years.  2008 is gonna be good.

Any feedback is appreciated. The road is long. The path is wide. And you never know – that hitchhiker may save your life.

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One Sentence Album Review Via Wine Descriptors – Roadside Graves

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Roadside Graves – My Son’s Home

An enticing, somewhat pronounced flavor, edged with garnet, but not heavy or extractive, with a seamless, long-lingering finish.

Grade:  A-

Listen to this while: Google-searching that distant cousin you thought was hot during your adolescence.

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Politicizing Tragedy

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Some readers have probably heard Pat Robertson’s heartfelt response to the disaster in Haiti:

And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.”

And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor…

Of course, this is not surprising from a man who blamed pagans, abortionists, feminists and gays for 9/11 & Hurricane Katrina. Blaming the victims apparently helps bring them to Christ. He probably blames victims of child molestation for making a pact with Sponge Bob, or for generally being too sexy and appealing to pedophiles. However, his statement is kind of weird considering over 90% of Haiti is Christian.

Anyway, I believe a little historical context is usually helpful. 538 does a pretty good job:

Following colonial exploitation of the island for gold, sugar, tobacco and coffee production by successive waves of Europeans, Haiti became an independent nation following the Haitian Revolution in 1793. [this is apparently what Robertson refers to as the "pact with the Devil."] Throughout the following period, however, the business interests of the global and regional powers at the time, namely French, English, American and German merchants and commodity sellers, dominated the political and economic scene.

Once the rise of the United States as a global power was complete at the turn of the 20th century, the Americans were the major foreign player in the country…U.S. military interventions in Haiti came to head in July 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson ordered several hundred U.S. Marines to invade and hold the capital Port-au-Prince, in what became a 20 year occupation of the country.

While the US Government, through its governing advisors, had the final decision about all policies that were made during that period, the U.S. did not want to be portrayed as a colonial power. Indeed, the American leadership left the Haitian parliament in function and treated all Haitians –many of the elites were of mixed black and white heritage and used to preferential treatment from European colonialists– with an equal measure of racial distaste.

Nonetheless, many have argued that economic interests, such as perceived threats to the Haitian-American Sugar Company (HASCO) by the Haitian government that came to power in early 1915, drove the intervention and occupation.

I would argue this point. Essentially, Haiti was a “Banana Republic,” only dependent more on cane sugar.

It was not until the “Good Neighbor” policy of the F.D. Roosevelt administration of the early 1930s when U.S. military and administrative forces were removed from the country, with power turned over in 1934.

U.S. forces again briefly occupied Port-au-Prince from September 1994 to March 1995, in response to a UN Security Council mandate to support constitutional government.

Today, the U.S. remains the largest trade destination for Haitian goods (more than 70 percent of exports), while imports from the United States (34 percent) are even higher than Haiti’s next door neighbor, the Dominican Republic (23 percent). U.S. official aid to the country is quite significant (USD 260 million according to OECD DAC), though quite variable, with large spikes during Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994 and 1995, and a tripling of aid from 2004 to 2008, after the 2004 coup that threw President Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of power for the last time.

Another example of the U.S. (with the assistance of other western powers) assisting in the overthrow of a democratically elected leader.  Anyone remember this? Doubtful, because (not surprisingly) the American media was almost wholly disinterested in the story at the time.  But that’s an issue for a different time (and if you want info, The Economist + BBC archives do a better job than any of the American outlets).

As ridiculous as his statement is, I understand Robertson’s motivation. That’s what he does: proselytizing 24/7 in his own “unique” way. That’s what keeps the $$$ rolling in.

But speaking of the Devil, my threshold for Rush Limbaugh is pretty high. He’s an entertainer. However, for an “entertainer,” his cult following makes him a huge influence in this country.

The White House was quick to mobilize a response to the disaster. Go to whitehouse.gov and you can donate to the Red Cross Relief efforts. Streamlining is good, and the more avenues available to provide relief, the better. But in his constant effort to disparage and undermind the Obama administration, Limbaugh had this to say:

LIMBAUGH: That place, Haiti, has been run by dictators and communists. And how long is it gonna be, how long is it gonna be before we hear Obama and the left in this country say that what we really need to do is reinstate the communist Aristide to the leadership position down there to coordinate putting the country back together? The Haitian economy is entirely dependent on foreign aid. They produce nothing — zilch, zero, nada.

Apparently, we should only aid “producers.”  You know, China.

Now the race card:

LIMBAUGH: Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen — in the words of Rahm Emanuel, we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama’s hands — humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their — shall we say — credibility with the black community, in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community, in this country. It’s made-to-order for ‘em. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there.

I don’t really understand what this means. Here’s the “icing”:

LIMBAUGH: Would you trust the money’s gonna go to Haiti?

CALLER: No.

LIMBAUGH: But would you trust that your name is gonna end up on the mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?

CALLER: Absolutely.

LIMBAUGH: Absolutely right.

CALLER: That’s the point.

LIMBAUGH: Besides, we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.

Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s only discouraging donating through the whitehouse.gov site, what do you think his audience hears?

Politicizing tragedy is what Rush does. However, even for him, this is low. Look, if you don’t want to give, that’s fine.  It’s a free country and a lot of Americans have nothing to spare. But to discourage the giving of others and to undermine a group like the Red Cross is, quite frankly, about as fucking low as it gets.

(After reading that, I of course went to whitehouse.gov and donated. And no, I didn’t have to give up my e-mail for some diabolical list.)

Rush’s implication is that he’s pulling more than his fair share because he pays the highest income tax rate.  The “rich” always tend to overstate their benevolence.

Once again, if you are looking for organizations to donate to, please check out my post from yesterday.

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Earthquake in Haiti

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Needless to say, they needed yesterday’s earthquake about as much as the plague (which they had not too long ago). Here are a few avenues to assist relief efforts from your computer:

VIA TEXT:

  • Text “HAITI” to 90999 and you will be charged for a $10 donation to International Red Cross relief efforts.
  • cell carriers will send on a $5 donation on your account if you text YELE to 501501.  Wyclef Jean has apparently verified this on CNN.  

VIA NGOs:

  • Mercy Corps, with extensive experience responding to earthquakes (e.g., recent Indonesian Quake), quickly organizing relief effort.
  • Save The Children has offices in Haiti and have begun efforts to assist.
  • Oxfam International provides assistance to victims of emergencies and ongoing disasters throughout the world.  Here’s a direct link to support Oxfam’s Haiti relief effort.
  • Doctors Without Borders (aka Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) is an international group of medical professionals who work in chronically underserved countries, emergency sites and refugee camps around the world.  They have not yet announced plans to go to Haiti, from what I can find, but they certainly will.  With the collapse of the hospital in Port-au-Prince, their help will be especially needed.
  • World Vision, already on the ground, and where you can also sponsor a Haitian child under their care.
  • This Org . apparently does extensive work in Haiti, but I’ve personally never heard of it before.

VIA RELIGIOUS ORG’s:

If anyone has other recommendations, please feel free to add.

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