Archive for March, 2011

31
Mar
11

PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD ARE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME

I haven’t had cable in almost six years now. Outside of what I pay for Netflix and my internet connection each month I have not paid a single penny for any movie or episode of television that I have watched. And although my DVD collection continues to grow at an exponential rate I have not actually purchased one since 2008.

Do I download things I shouldn’t? Do I copy things that specifically warn me not to? Yeah. My motto with regard to entertainment (and porn for that matter) is that if I can’t get it for free then I’m not interested in watching it. I almost never see movies in theaters because I’m not a farm animal and being penned up next to fat, smelly and chatty idiots for two hours just doesn’t do anything for me. I’ll wait for it to find its way to my TV. I’m in no hurry. Truth be told, most people aren’t. That’s why a service like Netflix is so popular.

Netflix suffered a couple setbacks this week at the hands of Showtime and Starz. According to the Los Angeles Times, Showtime will no longer provide old seasons of “Dexter” and “Californication” for streaming, and Starz will delay streaming episodes of its new series “Camelot” by 90 days. Starz may also withhold movies from Netflix streaming in the future, the LA Times reports.

We’ve been hearing for a while that Hollywood is afraid of Netflix. For $8 per month, the service provides a huge library of on-demand movies and TV shows, and has the potential to pull people away from existing revenue streams, such as DVD, video on demand and, in the case of Showtime and Starz, premium subscription television.

But as far as I know, that fear hasn’t produced any tangible effect on Netflix’s streaming service until now. With Showtime and Starz retracting content, we’re seeing the first signs of a Netflix streaming backlash.” – PC WORLD

This would be terrible news… if I watched CALIFORNICATION or had any idea what the fuck CAMELOT even was. Hollywood often places an unrealistic level of value on its content. For example, it amused me that the delay of MADMEN until 2012 was a top story on all the major news outlets. Only people in Hollywood watch it. Since I left LA I have yet to meet one person in the real world who even watches that fucking show.

And yes, I spent the better part of the last decade living and working in Hollywood. I’m not just some guy in middle America bitching and moaning about the gay liberal Jew thing. I like to think I have a fairly informed point-of-view when it comes to this topic. Of course you might think that would mean that I understand the dangerous economic flaw inherent in my “get it for free” ideology. Well, how’s this for free market ideology: make something worth buying and I’ll pay for it.

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30
Mar
11

DRILL, BABY! DRILL!

I have a real love/hate thing with regard to science. On the one hand I feel science is the light in an otherwise dark world. A beacon of hope and progress. A symbol of our great untapped potential as a species in this vast and wonderful universe.

But, then I read stuff like this.

“In what can only be described as a mammoth undertaking, scientists, led by British co-chiefs, Dr Damon Teagle of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England and Dr Benoit Ildefonse from Montpellier University in France, have announced jointly in an article in Nature that they intend to drill a hole through the Earth’s crust and into the mantle; a feat never before accomplished, much less seriously attempted.” – PHYSORG.COM

Normally this would just more scientific techno-babble that doesn’t really mean anything. And, admittedly, I kind of shrugged when I saw that part. Then I read this part:

“The Earth’s mantle is the part of the planet that lies between the crust and the iron ball at its center, and to reach it, would require drilling down from a position in the ocean, because the crust is much thinner there. Even still, it would mean drilling through five miles of solid rock. And if that doesn’t sound hard enough, temperatures increase the farther down you go, and could reach as high as 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit; high enough to render useless most modern drill bits. Last but not least is the problem of atmospheric pressure, which increases the deeper you go, to somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million pounds per square foot near the mantle.”

Sure. Okay. Let’s just bore a hole through the planet we live on. See how deep we can go. Just for the hell of it. Scientists tell us that there is super-compressed magma at the center of the Earth. Movies and fantasy, on the other hand, tell us that the center of the Earth is a hideous primeval underworld. Penetrating the crust that deep risks unleashing hoards of semi-intelligent dinosaurs and murderous ape people who, for some reason, have some serious moobs. And considering how distorted my view of reality is thanks to a lifetime of almost constant media saturation, well, let’s just say I’m arming myself to the teeth right now. I’m also going to rob people at gunpoint and kidnap young college girls as they walk to class.

One day a court-appointed psychiatrist will ask me why I did these things and ask if I understand how wrong they were. I’ll respond by shrugging and saying “Hey, at least I didn’t spend billions of dollars digging a fucking hole through the Earth’s crust for no apparent scientific or commercial reason other than my own intellectual boredom and complete disregard for the consequences.” Yeah. I’m totally gonna’ walk.

29
Mar
11

WORKING FOR A LIVING IS UN-AMERICAN

Forgive me for being blunt (or don’t, I really don’t care) but I’m starting to think that we need to begin dissecting the brains of certain conservative types. I really feel that, until we understand how they actually work, we’re never going to be able to help them. Or ourselves.

I know what you’re thinking: (And yeah, I do. I’ve had “the sight” since I was a kid) Magnus, are you about to go on a hopelessly skewed leftist rant about the injustices of the American workplace? The short answer is “yes”. The longer, and admittedly more entertaining answer, is “goddamn right I am you fucking right-wing stooge”.

“Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage followed through with his decision to remove a mural depicting the history of the workers’ movement from the state’s labor department lobby, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The controversy over the 36-foot-long, 11-panel mural erupted last week when a LePage administration official announced that the artwork would be removed and that conference rooms dedicated to American labor movement icons would be renamed.

Administration officials said the change was needed to reflect a new image for the department, one not tilted toward organized labor. They said visitors to the lobby had complained that the mural is anti-business.” – CNN

That’s the mural up there. Real Communist propaganda, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus, it’s one step away from constructing a guillotine in the lobby and dragging bankers and mortgage lenders screaming to their deaths.

Basically, members of the pro-business community, i.e. your boss, aren’t happy that you, the average worker, is represented by your own fucking government. More accurately that the goddamn Department of Labor in Maine should actually have pictures of laborers in it.

By this logic we should be able to go into the local Chamber of Commerce and take down all the pictures of rich assholes on the wall and replace them with “something more appropriate”. Pictures of Trotsky and Lenin, perhaps. Maybe a still photo from BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN.

Firstly, and most importantly, fuck your boss. Your boss is the boss and the price of that cushy job and title is being unpopular. Of course the Department of Labor is anti-business. The Department of Labor is supposed to be where the rest of us go for justice when we’ve had enough of their crap.

Secondly, the members of the “business community” need to keep their half-assed entrepreneurial fantasies to themselves. Most of you are not Rockefellers or Hearsts and never will be. The vast majority of your business ventures will ultimately fail. In fact, the majority of you will one day need a Department of Labor that looks after laborers. Why? Because after the pizza joint or the landscaping business you sunk your life savings into goes belly up you’re going to be just like us: another sap working for a living.

28
Mar
11

LET’S TALK

Dear Mr. President,

Far be it from me, just some guy with a blog, to assume that I have the knowledge, skill or the right to tell you what you should say in a major policy address. But, I am a citizen and a taxpayer and, most importantly, someone who has gone to bat for you in countless debates and arguments over the last three years.

In all likelihood you will never even read this. Nor should you. You have far more important things to do with your time than listen to my insane rambling. However, knowing that you won’t listen to my words or heed my advice I feel a certain freedom in writing this. In other words it’s a good excuse not to censor myself.

Tonight you will give an address to the nation regarding our military involvement in Libya. Being a schooled and pragmatic politician you will no doubt choose every single word carefully. Every sentence will have been constructed with the utmost attention to political detail. Every nuance, every emphasis and every inflection will be rehearsed in preparation for the inevitable devouring by the media noise machine.

I know I will probably support what you have to say. But, that won’t stop me from fantasizing about what I wish you would say. So, in that spirit, please enjoy a glimpse inside my warped imagination.

“My fellow Americans,

One week ago I made the difficult decision to involve our military in the current civil war being fought in the nation of Libya. As expected this decision was met with criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. As President I accept that my decisions will almost never be met with unanimous approval and I embrace that. The last time a nation did anything lockstep in unison it invaded Poland. I say bring it on. Do your worst. Let’s start with those of you on the right.

I suppose were I a rootin’ tootin’ white man from Texas you’d all be patting me on the back. You know, killin’ us another brown guy “over there” and gettin’ us some oil. Yippee. But I’m not. I’m an educated black man who speaks in coherent sentences and, more importantly, can actually find the country I’m bombing on a map. I understand that continues to be a problem for some of you.

The conservative voices condemning me for this action have, for the better part of four decades, been screaming and whining for us to get rid of Mumar Khaddaffy. Or Momar Ghaddaffi. Or whatever the fuck he chooses to call himself. He has been a thorn in the side of America, NATO and the world for far too long. He is arguably the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in history. We know him to be personally involved in the financing, planning and execution of terror attacks which have killed American citizens and military personnel going back to the 1970’s.

Ronald Reagan, that right-wing masturbatory icon, even bombed the living hell out of him in 1986. I didn’t hear any of you complaining then. So, in short, eat my butt. Go complain about taxes or Hollywood or something and leave the big decisions to people who spend the majority of their day on the planet Earth. Go on now. Read the TURNER DIARIES or clean your assault weapon or something.

Now, I’d like to address the objections of you on the political left. I know you have deep concerns and reservations about the use of military force. You saw the utter insanity and senselessness of the Iraq war and that energy helped sweep me and many other anti-war Democrats into office in 2006 and 2008. We ran on a pledge that we would not repeat the same mistakes of the past administration, nor engage in the same kind of idiotic aggression. So with that in mind I choose my words to you very carefully.

Grow the fuck up. This isn’t the student union at Berkeley, hippie, this is the real world. There are people with guns out there. Mean people. People who are angry and violent for no particular reason. People who blow up our airliners and bomb nightclubs where they know our soldiers hang out. Just because. People who use their own military to slaughter unarmed men, women and children to suppress opposition and instill fear and terror. People who do nothing all day but find ways to attack and harm us and our allies.

You might say we should engage with these people diplomatically. Yeah, sure. Have you ever met a psychopath? A raving, heavily armed religious lunatic? A sick and twisted asshole who would slaughter his people wholesale if it meant clinging to power? What exactly should I say to this type of person? “Please don’t do that anymore. Talk to me, help me understand you. I see the good in you.” HA HA HA HA HA HA! Tell you what, try that approach on the next punk who attacks you in a dark alley.

This isn’t Iraq. This isn’t even Afghanistan. So sit down, sip a decaf latte and fucking relax. The 60’s are long gone and most of you are too young to remember them anyway. You have a good life here in America and it’s not because we play nice with bullies and thugs.

In closing, we’re going to see this thing through to its natural conclusion in Libya. I know, the international body gets its panties in a twist whenever there is talk of removing Khaddaphi as opposed to stopping him. Let’s get real here. This thing ends when he goes face-first into the moat at his palace like goddamn Tony Montana at the end of SCARFACE. And if America doesn’t do it, nobody will. Why? Because we fucking rock.

Thank you and goodnight.”

25
Mar
11

GOD IS TRYING TO KILL YOU

My religious friends are always asking me if I’m ever worried that I’m going to end up in hell for being an atheist. The answer is always no because I don’t believe in hell. See how easy that was? Gets them every time.

At that point I usually turn the conversation around and ask them if they’re ever worried that being religious is going to turn them into morbidly obese slobs, the very sight of whom would make the rest of society point and stare in utter disgust. They usually laugh and say no. That’s when I laugh back and say “Yeah, actually, it will.”

“…researchers at Northwestern University sought to find out how attending religious events affects weight gain over time. They analyzed data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, which followed more than 2,400 people aged 20 to 32 for 18 years. Over that time, the scientists reported at an American Heart Association conference, people who went to church or church activities at least once a week were more than twice as likely as people with no religious involvement to become obese.” – TIME

I’m not sure that having spiritual beliefs is what makes you morbidly obese. I’m guessing it has more to do with spending your life perched on a throne of arrogance and self-deception. That thing is hard to get down from and man is it comfy. And while it’s probably healthier to get down and seek more logical, rational solutions to life’s problems it’s much easier to reach for the Doritos and the remote. Maybe crack a cold one.

Not that I’m a model of healthy living. And I’m not completely unreligious. As it happens there are a few tribes in South America which worship me as a deity. It pretty much stems from an incident one spring break, years ago, when I got drunk and brought a VCR to their village and showed them hours and hours of pornography. Then I let off some fireworks and told them I was the god of thunder and lightning. Hey, there’s a reason I don’t drink Everclear anymore.

I go down there several times a year with the honest intention of bringing them science and education. Then they give me their women and all the food I can eat. And they make war on their neighbors in my name. And then they give me all of their women and all of their food. Long story short, I am never going to get rid of this gut. Or this erection.

23
Mar
11

ELIZABETH TAYLOR IS DEAD… FOR NOW

I woke up this morning ready to do a piece on the first major bombing in Jerusalem in over three years. Or, how the Israeli military and Palestinian militants are once again hurling explosives at each other in the Gaza Strip. Then, after I had a cup of coffee and some bacon I came to the sudden and incontrovertible conclusion that I don’t give a rat’s ass.

I’m an American. I don’t care about Stone Age blood feuds half-a-world away. I care about celebrities. Even dead ones. Especially dead ones. It’s a proven sociological fact that you become more relevant at the moment you die.

“Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed film goddess whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame and glamour made her one of the last of the old-fashioned movie stars and a template for the modern celebrity, died Wednesday at age 79.

She was surrounded by her four children when she died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks, said publicist Sally Morrison.” – MSNBC

As of this afternoon it was also reported that Taylor’s extended family is returning to her Beverly Hills home where they are boarding up the windows, nailing shut the air vents and welding plate steel over the doors. From what I understand they have enough rations to last a week and have begun sleeping in shifts. Each of them has been issued a 12 gauge shotgun and 9mm handgun and plenty of ammunition. Finally, each of them will be carrying a capsule filled with enough cyanide to kill them in 20 seconds flat. Should it come to that.

They say that firearms are a bad idea when confronted by the undead. A zombie is capable of withstanding horrific injuries. And of course an axe or a machete doesn’t run out of ammo. But, frankly, I would want 20 rounds of hollow points in my hand when this thing comes back because you know it’s going to be fucking hungry.

22
Mar
11

EVERYBODY LOVES JERRY BROWN

WordPress has been on the blink most of today so I had to wait until now to put this up. Sorry about that. I was prepared but someone else failed. Story of my life.

And there’s an old story about California Governor Jerry Brown that I like. At the dawn of the fifth epoch, during the reign of the evil Lord Hemnoch and seven generations before the culling of Gerzenomere, Jerry Brown stood in judgment before the tribunal of wizards at Zegendorf. They asked him about the riddle of steel. He rebuked them in the ancient tongue of the Yemelztudt and swore he would rather live in eternal agony than give away the secrets of his people.

So they gave him eternal life. And he’s been eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their descendants ever since. Gotta’ love that poetic justice. And guess what: people love Jerry.

“California voters approve of Governor Jerry Brown’s job performance by a more than 2-1 margin, which is sharply at odds with how they view lawmakers, according to survey findings released on Tuesday.

The findings come as the Democrat-led legislature takes up bills making up Brown’s plan to close a state budget gap of close to $27 billion. The Democratic governor is battling to get Republicans to agree to a statewide budget referendum.

The survey by The Field Poll found 48 percent approve of the job the 72-year-old Democrat has been doing since taking the oath of office in January for a third term — he served as governor of California in the 1970s and 1980s — compared to 21 percent who disapprove and 31 percent who have no opinion.” – REUTERS

The same poll also showed that most Californians don’t speak English and therefore had no idea what the person on the other end of the phone was asking them. Those who did speak English overwhelmingly believed that travel to the stars angers the gods and that you can get rid of AIDS by having sex with an underage virgin.

I’ve always maintained that polling is a terrible social measuring tool. The kind of person who would answer the phone and respond to questions from a complete stranger is probably just desperate for someone to talk to. Then again I also believe that anyone who spends all day calling strangers and asking them questions about politicians and public policy needs to get out more often.

What’s more, the guy has been in office for like two months. Of course they like him. Everybody likes me after they’ve only known me for two months. It’s at least a year before I get drunk and grab a breast or borrow money I have no intention of repaying. Then again, this is Jerry Brown we’re talking about. As long as he sleeps in the soil of his ancestral homeland every night he could potentially live forever. So, you know, perhaps he’s just biding his time before he takes away school lunches or implements a toilet flushing tax.