Category Archives: Life In These United States

Office, 8:35am

My grandmother always had music on in her house, cascading out of a majestic wooden cabinet stereo that looked like a cathedral to little kid Me. Frank Sinatra, or his contemporaries. I picture that stereo and see its speakers rumbling with Tony Bennett’s “The Good Life.”

But more often than not, she had the radio tuned to a local radio station that broadcast something they called “Music from the Terrace.” (As a kid, I thought they were saying “Music from the Terrorists.”) The “terrace” was taken from the name of the street on which the studio was located (Radio Terrace), presumably because it sounded fancy. The “music” was an endless stream of easy listening instrumentals. Not muzak, exactly. Orchestral arrangements of old showtunes and movie themes. A million strings sawing away at “Days of Wine and Roses” in unison.

mantovaniThere were many perpetrators of this genre once upon a time, but the first and most successful was Mantovani, who sold roughly eight billion albums jam packed with this kind of thing beginning in the 1950s. At a time when most music was sold in 45 form, he was one of the first artists to recognize that there was dough to be made in albums, and the first to sell a million copies of a single LP. Like Liberace, another one-named dynamo of this time, he realized there was a market in selling oppressively mellow, treacly music to folks who just staggered out of World War II. Men and women who’d slogged their way through Normandy and Guadalcanal, who feared the bomb and Stalin and Mao, they craved escapism.

Unlike Liberace, Mantovani wielded an entire orchestra with which to lull a weary generation to sleep. His arrangements could barely be called that, as they consisted largely of an army of violins playing the tunes of songs grown ups of this era would have already heard innumerable times. And they couldn’t get enough of them. My grandmother had tons of these albums in her collection. Some of them were enormous, mighty sleeves bound up in leatherette with gilt lettering on the cover. Perhaps he invented the boxed set, too.

In 1959, Mantovani had six albums in the top 30 at the same time, a feat I doubt has been equaled by any other recording artist. In 1959, Miles Davis released Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus released Mingus Ah Um, Bill Evans released Portrait in Jazz, and Dave Brubeck released Time Out. Howlin’ Wolf put out his first LP. Elvis Presley was at the height of his powers, Johnny Cash was climbing toward his. Folk music was starting to break into the mainstream via folk-light acts like The Kingston Trio.

All of these events are more important, musically, then anything Mantovani did. But if you wanted to know who was selling albums in 1959, the answer was Mantovani. And it would be the answer, more or less, until The Beatles came along.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has advocated a Mantovani reappraising. There’s no Chuck Klosterman to sing his praises for once ruling the business side of music. Most of his biggest fans are no longer with us, and the ones who are left wield no power.

This is, I think, why I go overboard with my own enthusiasms, be they the 1999 Mets, or Jean Shepherd, or a Looney Tunes special no one ever watched but me. The things we love are fragile, and they won’t last for long after we leave. I can’t stop the march of time but maybe I can keep up with it for a few steps.

Love goes in cycles: First something is loved, then it is scorned for being out of date, and then it lives again as retro. And from there, it slowly fades out.

Think about how much you know about your own family. You probably know what your parents loved. You might know what your grandparents loved. But in all likelihood, you can reach no further than that. The things that were loved before then are gone forever. Entire worlds, dead. Those people lived and loved just as much as you have, and there isn’t the slightest hint of them left.

Something brought Music from the Terrace to mind this morning. I can’t say what, I just know that it reappeared to me. So this morning as I settled in at my desk, readying myself for a day of work, I looked for Mantovani on Spotify. I didn’t expect to find anything, but it turned out there were plenty of albums available to stream. Most had the appearance of cheap reissues, and many of them were labeled in Spanish for some reason. Still, they were there.

I clicked on one and…it was still as deadly boring as when it trailed out of my grandmother’s cathedral stereo years ago. I expected at least nostalgia and found only pillowy violins. I endured two songs before moving on.

And yet, I’m glad to find out Mantovani exists in this ultra-modern format. I’m comforted by the knowledge that a trace remains of someone’s love.

Top Fourth of July Injuries (Non-Fireworks Edition)

  • Griller’s elbow
  • Simultaneous cardiac arrest and diabetic shock from ingesting too much fried Kool-Aid
  • Allergic reaction to Blue Angels flyover
  • Vertebrae misaligned during annual game of backyard volleyball
  • Sudden rush of blood to the head while actually listening to lyrics to “Born in the USA” or “Fortunate Son” for the first time
  • Various lesions resulting from the discovery of long-lost box of jarts in basement
  • Citronella poisoning
  • Boredom-induced skull displacement from prolonged brass band medley exposure
  • Excess swelling of patriotic pride
  • Asphyxiation from being suffocated under weight of football-field-sized American flag
  • Pulled triceps muscle from patting self on back for saluting guy you saw in the street wearing army fatigues
  • Competitive eating induces virulent strain of super-gout
  • Heatstroke suffered while wearing Revolutionary War-era garb or space suit
  • Incorrect tiki torch placement provokes deadly curse from angered Polynesian storm-god

Gary Coleman, Scandal Shrapnel, and The Vanilla Ice Syndrome

garycoleman.jpgWithin minutes after the news of Gary Coleman’s death broke, the Intertubes rattled with one unfunny joke after another. It made me briefly happy that I’ve never become famous. Otherwise, random strangers might think that me dying at a criminally young age from head trauma was hilarious.

Of course, Gary Coleman wasn’t a walking punchline simply because he was once famous. There’s a lot of ex-stars who fit this bill–MC Hammer springs to mind. But the cruel, twisted anti-fame Coleman suffered from was a special kind, the kind that can only be inflicted on that most reviled form of ex-fame: child stardom. Not even debutards like Nicole Richie or the Kardashians–who have contributed not one single positive thing to this earth–are mocked the way that former child stars are once they hit puberty.

Child stars are chewed up and spit out on both ends–by a fickle public, and by weird, sociopathic stage parents who drive them to succeed long before they can make decisions for themselves. Thanks to decades of unsavory examples, people expect the worst of former child stars, and even if they never go down the primrose path, they will be hounded by paparazzi and curiosity seekers who can’t believe that the Macauly Culkins of the world dared to grow up.

Coleman’s living purgatory was exacerbated by a congenital kidney ailment that stunted his growth. At least some child stars have a theoretical chance to move beyond their past. Gary Coleman was forced to look like like a child long after anyone had any use for his schtick.

He also had the misfortune of acting on a show that had two of the more fantastic ex-child star meltdowns in history. Dana Plato left Diff’rent Strokes to rob video stores, act in porn, and OD on prescription painkillers. Todd Bridges became a drug addict and dealer with repeated run-ins with the law.

Gary Coleman got into some physical altercations with strangers, but much of that was provoked by people who wanted to fuck with him (granted, he also had some domestic disputes, and was charged as the aggressor in at least one of them). But his post-sitcom life was considered more sordid than sad because he caught the shrapnel of his ex-costars’ explosions. Bridges and Plato blew up, and Coleman was collateral damage.

Anything bad that happened to him was labeled another sick chapter in the “hilariously” awful Diff’rent Strokes saga. Like how he had to sue his parents because they mismanaged his assets and left him broke. That horrible circumstance was put on the same level, in the public’s mind, as Todd Bridges slinging crack, even though Bridges was a drug-dealing creep and Coleman was victimized by his mother and father.

Gary Coleman is one of the most egregious examples of what I call The Vanilla Ice Syndrome. Vanilla Ice’s debut album sold 11 million copies, but almost overnight he turned into a pop culture whipping boy. The savageness directed at Vanilla Ice was in direct proportion to how honestly popular he once was. Once people decided they were done with him, and realized he kinda sucked, they had to mock him to compensate for once liking him.

The Vanilla Ice Syndrome is especially vicious when the ex-star in question was beloved by children and/or teenyboppers. At that stage, most kids don’t really have much taste at all except liking what’s popular. Violently rejecting something you liked when you were 12 is a way of showing you’ve grown up. In other words, I fear for Miley Cyrus’ future.

In the late 70s/early 80s, Gary Coleman was one of the hugest stars in America. He was one of the most beloved and recognizable people in the country. Then, after eight seasons on the air, his act grew stale. But it wasn’t good enough for people to just not watch Diff’rent Strokes anymore. They had to shit all over the guy because they once loved what he did. It was a product of the collective embarrassment over making someone famous for saying “watchu talkin bout Willis”. He had to pay for the rest of us feeling so retroactively dumb.

So when he died, a lot of people couldn’t resist the temptation to make lame cracks, most of them using that catchphrase. I know this is a hard concept to grasp in the Internet Age, but not everything is a springboard for your savage wit. It’s okay to let something pass without making a snotty remark about it. It’s okay to not spit out the absolute first thing that pops in your head when you hear about someone’s death.

People made jokes after Dennis Hopper died, but at least Dennis Hopper lived a long life and was able to enjoy a second act of his career. Gary Coleman died at age 42, never got to live a non-shitty life after his heyday, and had troubles that were mostly not self-inflicted. No other details of his life make that even remotely funny. And if you think it is funny, pray no one’s laughing if you get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Re: Fridge Cleaning

From: Human Resources (hr@technotek.com)

To: All_Staff (staff@technotek.com)

Re: Fridge Cleaning

Just a heads up that we’ve scheduled a fridge cleaning in the fourth floor kitchen this weekend. The cleaning staff will throw out any unmarked food, so if you want to keep something, please use the little yellow DO NOT DISCARD stickers we’ve posted in the kitchen.

If anyone has any questions about this at all, please let me know. Thanks!

* * *

From: Bill_Thompson (bthompson@technotek.com)

To: All_Staff (staff@technotek.com)

Re: Re: Fridge Cleaning

Hey Fred, does this mean they’re gonna toss some of those science projects you got in there? They’ll need a hazmat suit to touch that stuff! LOL

* * *

From: Angela_Williams (awilliams@technotek.com)

To: All_Staff (staff@technotek.com)

Re: Re: Re: Fridge Cleaning

Bill, if you want to send a jokey email to Fred on company time, that’s your business. But don’t hit “Reply All” when you do it and clog up everyone’s Outlook inbox.

* * *

From: Bill_Thompson (bthompson@technotek.com)

To: All_Staff (staff@technotek.com)

Re: Re: Re: Re: Fridge Cleaning

Angela, I find it ironic you would send me a snotty email about pressing “Reply All” that is itself a “Reply All” message.

* * *

Continue reading Re: Fridge Cleaning

Death’s Record First Quarter Profits Raise Eyebrows

cemetery.jpgAt a time when most sectors of the economy are suffering, Death reported record profits for the first quarter of 2010, prompting surprise from the world of finance and resentment from the general public.

“I think we all knew this was  a good year for Death, but no one dared dream it was this good,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. “The smart investor who bet on Death this year is now reaping the rewards.”

“I believe if you look at it in aggregate, Death’s profits aren’t that much larger than this time last year,” said Harold Long, economics professor at Columbia University, upon hearing the news. “But a few high profile acquisitions paint Death as this greedy, heartless entity. Even I was taken aback when Death acquired Teddy Pendergrass, Alex Chilton, and Jay Reatard all within the span of two months. It just comes across as overkill.”

Death’s diversified holdings have expanded to acquiring assets in all fields. Its film department was enlarged by the addition of Erich Rohmer, and its literary department by J.D. Salinger. The arrival of Bea Arthur added to Death’s already considerable actress and gay icon divisions.

While this embarrassment of riches has delighted Wall Street, it has led to resentment on Main Street. Such excess seems especially galling to unemployed workers like Frank Renfro of Detroit, recently laid off from his job at a decorative candle manufacturing company.

“Enough is never enough with these people,” Renfro said. “All they do is take, take, take. It’s not good enough they got one former child star when they picked up Boner from Growing Pains. No, they gotta grab Corey Haim, too. And to top it off, they gobble up Art Clokey! I didn’t even know he was still around! What are they even gonna do with the guy who created Gumby? Put him on a pile over at the big ol’ Death mansion, I guess. Makes me sick.”

In response to the criticism, Death called a press conference, where CEO Grim Reaper pointed a bony finger at the assembled host, as the faint but unmistakable sound of scythes being ground against enormous wheels screeched in the distance.

Workplace Condiment Etiquette and You

sriracha.jpgI keep a bottle of Sriracha in the kitchen at my office. Sriracha is also known as THE BEST HOT SAUCE CRAFTED BY THE HAND OF MAN. I don’t use it too often, but it’s a nice thing to have handy when your lunch needs an extra kick.

Today, as I went to the kitchen to fetch my lunch, I saw my bottle of Sriracha on the countertop. I knew it was mine because it has my hand-written note on it instructing the cleaning people not to throw it out (because they can and will throw out everything unless instructed not to).

The top was opened (it has an attached cap that unscrews like an Elmer’s glue bottle) and some of its contents were dripping down the side. I also noticed that a lot more of the sauce had been used since I last used it. I’m pretty sparing in my hot sauce application, but it had obviously been applied liberally–by other people–since I last used it.

A coworker was in the kitchen at the time, waiting for his lunch to heat up in the microwave. It was unclear to me if this person was responsible for using my Sriracha. I didn’t recognize him, either, because there are new people in and out of the place all the time.

I pondered what would be the correct approach to this situation. After all, using someone else’s condiment is not like eating someone else’s lunch (which has happened to me more than once at my current place of employ). But I personally would not use somebody else’s condiments, and I felt like it was a little uncool that someone would just something that does not belong to him/her.

As I wondered what to do, the coworker removed his lunch from the microwave and left, leaving the Sriracha untouched. Now, again, I don’t know if this particular person availed himself of my Sriracha. But whether it was him or someone else, he/she did so and just left it on the counter, unopened, with hot sauce dripping from the cap.

That is definitely unacceptable. So I grabbed my Sriracha and deposited it my desk. You’re supposed to refrigerate it, but I’ll sacrifice freshness for the sake of not having thieves and slobs pawing and mistreating it. Sorry folks, but you lost your Sriracha privileges.

I’m not nuts, right? I am totally within my rights to be stupidly pissed off about this, yes? Please reassure me.

Moving Violation

There’s part of me that could care less about Roman Polanski’s current predicament. Arrest him, don’t arrest him–who cares? Thirty-plus years after the fact, is pursuing one criminal really so important? Surely, the Los Angeles DA’s office could use their resources toward more pressing matters, like bringing Vic Mackey to justice.

But then I read sophistic articles with cherry-picked morality, like a guest op-ed by Robert Harris in yesterday’s New York Times. That’s when I think, lock him up and throw away the key. Because Polanski doesn’t seem to have a leg to stand on, save for those extended by famous folks who want him to remain free because he’s such a wonderful artist, and his crime was committed more than 30 years ago.

Did you know that once enough time has passed, everything’s okay? Hoorah! These same folks never seem to mention the fact that he raped a 13-year-old. (I heartily recommend an excellent takedown of many of Polanski’s defenders penned by Kate Harding at Slate).

And yes, I realize that for some offenses, statutes of limitation mean that enough time = okay. Rape is not such an offense.

The piece by Harris (a novelist by trade), like many defending Polanski, hinges its case on a few items that stem more from personal biases than any legal or moral grounds. In Harris’s case, it’s because he works with him. And so have other people. And some people seem to like him so, hey, it’s all good!

For more than two and a half years I have been working almost continuously with the director Roman Polanski…I have never collaborated with anyone more closely.

So when…the news broke that Mr. Polanski had been arrested …my first response was to feel almost physically sick. Mr. Polanski has become a good friend. Our families have spent time together. His daughter and mine keep in regular touch. His past did not bother me, any more (presumably) than it did the three French presidents with whom he has had private dinners, or the hundreds of actors and technicians who have worked with him since 1977, or the fans who come up to him in the streets of Paris for his autograph.

If a friend of mine was arrested, I’d feel pretty awful too. But if that friend was arrested because he’d eluded a rape conviction for 30+ years, I might feel a little less awful. That’s just me.

I’m sure fans come up to Roman Polanski and ask for his autograph. I’m also sure if John Wayne Gacy was walking down the street, he’d be approached for autographs, too. They’re both famous. For many people, the reason why you’re famous doesn’t matter; they just want to approach Fame.

Hundreds of actors and technicians have worked with him? Great. Most of those actors and technicians are working people not in a position to turn down a paycheck, no matter who provides it.

As for French presidents’ opinion of Polanski, which presidents? You could say someone was admired by an American president, but if that president was Dubya, I’d hold that admiration in low regard. Just because someone’s an elected official, that doesn’t make them a great person, or even a good person.

If Mr. Polanski is such a physical danger and moral affront to civilized society that he must be locked up, even at the age of 76, why was he not picked up earlier, when he was 66, or 56 — or even 46? It would not have been hard to grab him at his home: his name is on the doorbell.

Except that France would be unlikely to extradict him on “he is such a great artist!” grounds. Also, keep in mind that France ain’t exactly the most sensitive nation when it comes to women’s issues. (Serge Gainsbourg is a national hero there so, ’nuff said.) Over there, Polanski is being portrayed as the victim, because his victim’s mother “forced” the girl on him. And just look at what she was wearing! She was asking for it! And by it, we mean “being fed champagne and quaaludes, then sexually assaulted while repeatedly saying ‘no’.”

On only five occasions — right at the outset, when he flew to London; in 1986, when it was rumored he might visit Canada; in 1988, when it was suggested he might be headed to Brazil, or elsewhere in Europe; in 2005, when he went to Thailand; and in 2007, when he visited Israel — do overseas authorities seem to have been contacted by the district attorney with specific information about his presence. This is hardly a red-hot manhunt.

A local DA’s office–even for a large city like LA–doesn’t have the resources to track a fugitive around the globe. In order to make inquiries like the ones Harris alludes to, a DA’s office has to have cause. In order to have cause, you have to have tips. Where do these tips come from? Wherever they can get them. And the longer a case goes unresolved, the less frequently tips trickle in.

Plus, they would need to nab Polanski in a country where the government would be likely to hand him over to the US. All of this needs to be considered before you send someone on a plane to fetch him. You can’t go send a spare cop to a city where he might be and the local authorities might let you extradict him. Because if you do, and he’s not there–or worse yet, he is there but you’re not allowed to arrest him–it’s much less likely you’ll ever get another chance to bring him to justice.

It sounds very much as though Mr. Polanski became overconfident, both in the rightness of his own cause and in the safety of Switzerland as a refuge — a country that after the credit crisis suddenly seems to be much more eager to cooperate with international authorities. Its volte-face on its famous guest has drawn understandable contempt and Mr. Polanski, in his cell, now has plenty of time to ponder the limits of Swiss hospitality.

I admit, I find it odd that Switzerland of all places would turn over Polanski. Especially since they’re still holding onto Nazi gold.

I make no apology for feeling desperately sorry for him. The almost pornographic relish with which his critics are retelling the lurid details of the assault (strange behavior, one might think, for those who profess concern for the victim) makes it hard to consider the case rationally. Of course what happened cannot be excused, either legally or ethically.

“Except I’m totally excusing it right now.”

But Ms. Geimer [Polanksi’s victim] wants it dropped, to shield her family from distress, and Mr. Polanski’s own young children, to whom he is a doting father, want him home. He is no threat to the public. The original judicial procedure was undeniably murky. So cui bono, as the Romans used to say — who benefits?

Yes, it’s okay to feel sorry for Polanski, if you feel that way. Yes, the coverage of his arrest has been salacious and sensationalistic. Yes, his victim says she forgives him. Yes, I’m sure he’s a loving father and his family misses him. Yes, there were some issues about his original trial.

The response to all of these questions is: So fucking what?

Your sympathy doesn’t excuse his crime. Nor do salivating news networks. Nor does him being a wonderful father (how many horrible, horrible people love their own kids?). Nor do the details of his trial. Nor, sadly, does his victim’s feelings on the matter.

Why not? Because he was tried and convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl. He’s never denied doing it. And nothing he’s done in his life since then has forced him to pay for that. Since fleeing to Europe, he’s lived the opulent life of a celebrity and continued to make films. What kind of message does it send to not arrest him? Stay out of the country 30 years and you too can beat a rape conviction?

You may enjoy Polanski’s films, and that’s fine. That has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not he goes to jail. Would you feel better about his arrest if he was a Roger Corman-esque director of schlock? How about if he was just some ordinary schmuck who raped a 13 year old? Think he’d be able to hide in plain sight for the last 30 years and get op-eds in the Times written to defend him?

Roman Polanski did a horrific, unforgiveable thing. Does Rosemary’s Baby mean he doesn’t have to atone for it?

The Sub-Atomic World of Two Year Olds

Being a parent is hard. Everyone knows this, whether you have kids or not. But you can’t know the true depths of how difficult parenting is until you have a kid. Don’t mean to pull rank. It’s just true.

There’s no one particular thing about being a parent that takes Herculean effort. You get used to doing certain tasks very quickly. Feeding, dressing, burping–no big deal, any of them. Yes, you can even get accustomed to touching another human being’s feces on a regular basis. After a while, it’s not a big deal. To this day, I’m more grossed out by baby food than I am by baby poop.

What is a big deal is the fact that it never ends. There is no punching out. There is no weekend. You are on red alert 24/7, and anything you do–even if it’s the absolute right thing to do–may scar your child for life. It’s like being in a combat zone, only not so relaxing.

dragkid.pngI say this because I ran across a video yesterday that gave me pause, in which a mother drags her kid (who’s on a leash-type restraint) across the floor of store. Your reaction to it probably depends on whether you have a kid or not.

If you don’t have a kid, you are likely think this is HORRIBLE and INEXCUSABLE and this woman SHOULD BE LOCKED UP AND NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BREED AGAIN!!1! The state of Alabama agrees with you, because they’ve thrown this woman in jail and are threatening to take her child away from her.

If you do have a kid, you probably think: Yeah, she shouldn’t have done that. But…

Because every parent has been driven to a point where they’ve contemplated doing something like this. Or something in the same ballpark. If you say you’ve never thought about dragging your kid home, you either have a team of au pairs or you’re a fucking liar.

Especially if you have a two-year-old. That is a very special age where a child asserts his/her independence but cannot be reasoned with in any way. It’s impossible to completely placate a two-year-old, because their whims operate under the laws of quantum mechanics. Call it The Toddler Uncertainty Principle: The more you think you’ve pinned down what they want, the more likely it is those desires just shifted in a completely different direction.

Two-year-olds have no agenda but their own pleasure and chaos. It’s like living with The Joker.

All this video shows is 30 seconds of a mother reacting poorly. It doesn’t show all the events leading up to the mother’s meltdown. Maybe this kid ran around the store like a maniac and didn’t listen to a word his mother said. Maybe he hauled off and hit her when she said he couldn’t have some dumb fuckin’ plastic toy he wanted. Maybe she heeded every direction that came out his mouth, and he still screamed “I hate you!”

Yeah, two-year-olds do that all the time. If an adult made demand after demand of you, and you met every single one, and they said, “Guess what? I hate you!”, what would you do? You’d kick that person in the dick is what you’d do. It’s hard to turn off the “I’ve just been horribly insulted” impulse in your brain, even if it’s your own flesh and blood disrespecting you.

You may be inclined to say, “It’s the mother’s own fault for raising an unruly child.” Two-year-olds are unruly. There’s nothing more unruly in nature, not even the sub-atomic world. Scientists are still trying to figure out why this tiny universe operates in ways that seem to completely defy the laws of physics. And we still know more about quarks than we do about two-year-olds.

I don’t care how well you’ve raised your kid, how many Baby Einstein tapes you’ve bought, how many foreign language flash cards you zipped in front of their face. Once they hit a certain age, they turn into monsters. It doesn’t last forever, but it might feel like it does.

Also keep in mind that two-year-olds are prone to complete and total meltdowns that have no real solution. In those cases, the best thing to do is let your kid cry/kick/punch their way out of it (while making sure they don’t hurt themselves or others, of course). That may lead you to look callous or negligent to others–as I found out during a trip to the ER earlier this year.

But you know what? Fuck the rest of the world. As a parent, it’s not your job to satisfy some idealistic BS idea of what good parenting should look like. Anyone who hasn’t spent an entire day being screamed at by a two-year-old has no right to judge.

Say your kid is screaming because he wants candy. He hasn’t had any dinner yet, so you say no. He flips out, making you look like The World’s Worst Dad to everyone else in Duane Reade. You could get him some candy to keep him quiet, and that might make the situation less embarrassing for you.

But is that good parenting? Of course not, for a million different reasons. All you’d do is give your kid a lesson that if he screams loud enough, you’ll do anything he says. And for what? So you could look better for a bunch of people who don’t know you and who you’ll never see again. “I’ve turned my child into a sociopath, but at least that weird old lady with the support hose and the purple hair at the prescription counter stopped staring at me!”

Should this woman have dragged her kid? Of course not. But I don’t think she made a conscious decision to do that; she just snapped. And I totally understand how a person could snap like that. I hope her home state will see it that way (assuming this was just a moment of insanity for her).

Seeing this video made me think of Louis CK’s bit on parental meltdowns. “What did that shitty kid do to that poor woman?!”

Americans Celebrate 40 Years of the Great Moon Conspiracy

moon.jpgAP–For many Americans, it was the defining moment of their generation. All who witnessed can tell you exactly where they were when it happened. And though for some of us it may seem as if it happened just yesterday, today marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called “moon-landing.”

Across the nation, millions will pause and take time to remember that moment when America tried to pull the wool over the world’s eyes and pretend it put men on the moon. Some will watch old footage of this total mockery of science. Others will pull out old newspapers and marvel at the primitive techniques of photographic trickery that tried to sell this deception to a sheep-like public. Still others will send threatening notes to NASA, begging them to reveal the secrets behind this cheap facade that laughs in the face of truth itself.

“I remember watching it on TV, and seeing Neil Armstrong plant that flag on the moon,” said Jerry Derwood, a part-time web designer from Skokie, Illinois. “And seeing the Stars and Stripes wave in the lunar sky, I thought to myself ‘Hey, there’s no atmosphere on the moon! That flag shouldn’t be waving! Something’s fishy here!'”

In his spare time, Derwood runs the web site NeilArmstrongSuperfraud.com, one of roughly 675 million moon-conspiracy-related sites that have received a huge amount of hits in the last month, thanks to the hoopla surrounding the anniversary of The Great Moon Sham of ’69.

“A lot of kids can’t imagine what it was like back then to witness something like this,” Derwood said. “These days, ridiculous frauds are foisted on the American public all time. But children of my generation hadn’t yet seen such a blatant, cynical attempt to play on our emotions.”

Derwood plans to celebrate the event by standing at the foot of Buzz Aldrin’s driveway, demanding that he submit himself to a polygraph test.

Others will celebrate more peacefully, such as Mark Harlin, a freelance copyeditor who runs the web site TheMoonandOtherLies.com. “There’s no point in harassing the quote-unquote spacemen,” Harlin said. “They were merely pawns in the vast games of The Cold War and the machinations of the military industrial complex. Besides, there’s nothing I could do that would make these guys’ live any worse than they already are. How would you feel if you were party to such a snarled tapestry of lies, one that threatens to unravel at any moment? I wouldn’t wish that kind of living hell on my worst enemy.”

Harlin then launched on a 27-minute monologue about how no human being could withstand the radiation of the Van Allen belt.

This morning, President Obama marked the occasion with a speech punctuated by numerous ironic air-quotes.

“Today we celebrate the ‘achievements’ of the Apollo 11 ‘astronauts’,” Obama said, rolling his eyes at several key junctures.”At a time when America was reeling from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and embroiled in a bloody struggle in Southeast Asia, you ‘bravery’ made America ‘believe in itself’ again.

“I only regret that the great Walter Cronkite passed away before we could mark this ‘anniversary’,” the President continued. “The sincerity and solemnity with which he marked the ‘event’ were almost enough to convince America that men had actually walked on the moon.”

Military Intelligence: Still an Oxymoron

Yesterday I saw two different military-related items on the Interwebs that made me shake me head. And no, neither of them was the moronic Army major who refuses to go to Afghanistan because he thinks Obama isn’t a natural born citizen. Both of these stories could be blurbs in some Bizzarro World version of Reader Digest‘s “Humor in Uniform.”

Item #1! This AP headline:

warsmoking.png
Are you mad, Pentagon?! We can’t have soldiers in war zones smoking! It’s dangerous! People could be killed!

Item #2! The tweeting of irabrooker alerted me to this insane headline at NPR’s news blog:

corpseeater.pngThe thrust of the article is that the Pentagon is trying to develop a self-sufficient “clean-up” robot that could fuel itself by consuming various forms of waste, including dead bodies. I’m just surprised that this technology is being pursued now. Corpse-eating robots sounds more like an idea from the fertile, maniacal brain of Dick Cheney. Or maybe he wanted robots that would feast on hope and kittens.