end run brought to you by ok soda
  September 29, 2004
The Manchurian Debate

"...and that's where the snipers will be perched."

Posted at 4:19 PM in a Grave fashion.
Fools / Russian

George W. Bush, left, and Vladimir Lenin, right (and probably the only time these two can ever be said to be approximating these respective positions, mind you).

Posted at 4:15 PM in a Grave fashion.
And, the Sentence of the Day Award Goes to...

Joe Hagan of The New York Observer:

"By the time Mr. O'Brien came to the program, the sensibility had developed from comedy to irony, past self-awareness in a trilling triplicate, approximating the absorptive sophistication of a media-glutted viewership, having steamed past the grizzled Mr. Letterman who has more and more developed the aspect of an aging, crotchety pioneer—old Davy Crockett in the U.S. Congress."

From, Jay Leno Deferred To Culture Quake As Conan Gets It, Sept. 29, 2004

Unfortunately, we've run out of time for Hagan's acceptance speech.

Posted at 3:00 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Who Writes Your Material?


Where on earth does hard-hitting editorial cartoonist Sean Delonas come up with his ideas?

Oh, right.

Posted at 2:20 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 28, 2004
At least they agree it was Central California

"Powerful Quake Strikes Central California"
Associated Press

"Moderate Earthquake Shakes Central California"
Voice of America

Posted at 4:19 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Highlights of John Kerry's recent attempts to grapple with humor, or, the newly-introduced "Laughter Initiative 2004"

Just an ill-informed guess, but Presidential candidate John Kerry appears to be scouring the latest issue of The Onion for ideas pertaining to "what is funny" and "what to do at the Mercury Lounge later this evening"

The Associated Press, in the wake of other reports on the success of the Bush camp's usage of humor at political rallies earlier this week, has now provided equal time to the president's opponent in a rote assessment of John Kerry's skills at invoking laughter.

Literally - the piece is rote and by the numbers.

According to the piece's writer, Nedra Pickler, "even while speaking on the very serious topic of Iraq last week at New York University, Kerry made the audience laugh six times at President Bush's expense." Did you get that? Six laughs, to be precise. Furthermore, the subject matter of Iraq is deemed to be "very serious" for some inexplicable reason, though Sen. Kerry has been able to invoke "laughs" and "chuckles" from audiences who have been treated to his riffs on the President's disavowal of bad news in our latest colonial acquisition. Later, we learn that audience members have also "guffawed" at these events, but it remains unsaid whether or not anyone may have ventured so far as to "chortle", though that's a definite likelihood if they were treated to Kerry's time-tested "Bush is sooooo stupid, that..." routine. Seriously, that bit kills every Tuesday night at the Laugh Factory.

Thankfully, Pickler assists politically-minded stand-up comics everywhere by detailing some of the senator's signature lines:

Kerry said the occupation of Iraq is riddled with problems, "yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way." Kerry paused for affect before asking sarcastically, "How can he possibly be serious?"

Oh, fuck, that snide sumbitch! He pulled the asshole card right there! (Full disclosure: I, too, am an asshole.) Hmmm. This quandary creates some sort of mid-post smug-asshole-dilemma, I suspect, that can only be resolved by a battle of humorous invocations of colloquialisms:

Kerry used an idiom likely to be heard among teenagers in a shopping mall, but not on the Senate floor.

"You're going to hear all this talk, `Oh, we've turned the corner, we're doing better, blah, blah,'" he said, running on the phrase as his Wisconsin audience erupted in laughter. "You know, blah and blah and blah."

Damn, he really has been polishing his material by watching a great deal of MTV2 and Fuse...since my initial instincts, as a recreational reader of Lingua Franca and Congressional Quarterly, were to recommend that Kerry try something more traditional, along the lines of: "You will proceed to hear a series of speeches emanating from the President's operatives, henceforth declaring, 'We have turned the corner, we're doing better, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.'" The senator from Massachusetts, on the other hand, clearly knows his shit.

To demonstrate this, we've got this nugget of merriment:

Kerry was cracking up his partisan crowd by telling Wisconsin voters they shouldn't be wary of changing horses midstream when the horse is drowning. He tied the metaphor to reports that the Bush campaign insisted that podiums in Thursday's debate be set relatively far apart to obscure Kerry's five-inch height advantage.

"May I also suggest that we need a taller horse?" he said. "You can get through deeper waters that way."

From an objective standpoint, even I can admit that qualifying this bit as "funny" is a stretch that even Olympic medalist Carly Patterson wouldn't attempt to make (Ha, ha...see you next week at the clubs, suckas!!!).

Posted at 11:10 AM in a Grave fashion.
  September 27, 2004
"I've got a debate...this week. This week. People will hate me. They already do. I'm boring, they say. Fuck them! And my wife, my wife...she still loves her dead husband. Hey, you, get me another Sam Adams right here. This one'll be gone real


RELATED: "A Beer with John Kerry," GQ, September 2004, by Michael Hainey. An actual excerpt:

GQ: Beer good for you?

JK: Sure.

GQ: [to bartender] Two Buds.

GQ: Cheers, Senator.

JK: I had a tough day. Damn hot.

Posted at 12:56 PM in a Grave fashion.


That's a heart. And it's for you. Well, it's for you if you plan to blog about I ♥ Huckabees this week.

But be careful. It's easy to mess up this special tag and wind up with the wrong title, like:

I ♣ Huckabees (Way too violent.)
I ♠ Huckabees (The ASPCA does advocate the spaying and neutering of Huckabees, but only by a trained veterinarian.)
I ® Huckabees (Only David O. Russell can say that!)
I ‾ Huckabees (Only Jon Brion can say that, and he doesn't tend to over-score the movies he works on. Well, other than Magnolia, that is.)

And, finally, a title that seems unlikely since Huckabees is opening in limited release against Ladder 49 and Shark Tale this Friday:
I $ Huckabees.

I'd ♥ that, but I doubt we'll see it.

Posted at 12:33 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 24, 2004
You mean, they have journalists in Iraq too? Shit, you're kidding right?

A whole lot of back and forth has gone on in the realm of media bias critiques, punditry and the like claiming that FOX News is too conservative and the NY Times too liberal, etc. In particular, analysts have wondered whether media bias has filtered out good news from Iraq or if, like Vietnam-era journalism, war is simply an ugly story to cover. Of course, it is.

Mistake or not, Iraq is supposed to be an emergent democracy now and all of this bias bickering - which is truly nothing new in America - obscures Iraqi journalism and the development of a free press. Of course, how could those childish and crazy Iraqis possibly have any clue how to write anything objective?

Maybe, just maybe... the Iraqi weekly Al Zawra answers the question "Who Kills Hostages in Iraq?" as well as providing "An Inventory of Iraqi Resistance Groups," translated for American consumption here through the Project on Government Secrecy site. While pundits bicker, most resistance stories in the American press focus on beheadings and terror masterminds, searching for Al Qaeda links. Al Zawra gives us the lowdown on the growing organization and scope of the actual resistance movements, where they come from, and how they're structured.

Sorry, it's "grave." Just grave, nothing more.

Posted at 5:28 PM in a Grave fashion.
"Hey, good luck in Iraq, you guys...You've got it easy. My advisers tell me it's getting better over there. Wait, what?"


Via Agence France-Presse: "US President George W. Bush shakes hands with some of the 292 US soldiers aboard a charter jet at Bangor International Airport in Maine. Bush boarded the jet in an impromptu event shaking hands with all the soldiers before they flew to Iraq to serve (AFP/Stephen Jaffe)"

Posted at 10:51 AM in a Grave fashion.
Meet Ivan: not the hurricane, but the weary dog lingering outside your gas station

"Weakened Ivan circles Gulf; expected to die", The Advertiser, Lafayette, Louisiana

Posted at 10:46 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 22, 2004
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, Vol. 36


Posted at 4:10 PM in a Grave, Unintentionally Hilarious fashion.
New & Improved, Tastes Better, 33% More Tabloidy

us_12bonuspages.gifYou see this exciting, bold, vibrant graphic peeled from the cover of the most recent issue of Us Weekly (October 4, 2004), the issue that insouciantly proclaims that Britney Spears' much-hyped marriage last weekend to Kevin What-the-Fuckshisname was "staged" and "faux"?

The circle, which appears alongside the magazine's logo in the topmost corner of the cover, boasts about there being "12 bonus pages" to the issue, which, I guess, is a worthwile, valuable component, except the "bonus" factor is somewhat diluted by the fact that each and every issue of Us has borne this same tagline since, ummmm...bear with me, here...the May 24, 2004 issue. May. Spring. We're talking flowers, not fall foliage.

Or, for a better sense of perspective, the cover feature for the very first appearance of this "New! 12 Bonus Pages" promotional graphic was a large portrait of a beaming Jennifer Lopez and the headline, "New Ring, Big Trouble: Jen's flashing an 8-carat rock from married Marc Anthony. As his wife fumes, is Lopez headed for more heartache?"

Well, we all know how that worked out. She got married. And what's new is old again.

Posted at 3:35 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 21, 2004
Loose lips sink Freudian slips

bush_leaning_counter.jpgFrom "Quick exit from Iraq is likely" by Robert Novak, appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times, September 20, 2004:

"Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal."

From the President's Remarks at Ask President Bush Event in Derry, New Hampshire, September 20, 2004, notably, a mere few hours after Novak's column appeared:

"It's tough as heck in Iraq right now because people are trying to stop democracy. That's what you're seeing. And Iraqis are losing lives, and so are some of our soldiers. And it breaks my heart to see the loss of innocent life and to see brave troops in combat lose their life. It just breaks my heart. But I understand what's going on. These people are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi citizens, and they want us to leave. That's what they want us to do.

And I think the world would be better off if we did leave -- if we didn't -- if we left, the world would be worse. The world is better off with us not leaving. It's a mistake to pull out."

Posted at 1:19 PM in a Grave fashion.
Hipsters vs. G-d

Harper's Magazine has kindly translated from Hebrew a Hasidic Jew petition/prayer distributed during a January protest in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Jewish group was particularly distraught with the rising costs of housing in the neighborhood, a trend that they have affiliated with the trendy young people now populating that area of Brooklyn.

This prayer goes a step beyond playa-hatin', it likens the hipsters to the plague:

Master of the Universe, have mercy upon us and upon the borders of our village and do not allow the persecution to come inside our home; please remove from upon us the plague of the artists, so that we shall not drown in evil waters, and so that they shall not come to our residence to ruin it.
Posted at 1:06 PM in a Shallow fashion.
The New Newspeak

For those who care to remember, HBO's Not Necessarily the News was a kind of embryonic Daily Show with John Stewart, offering its own “skewed' take on Nancy Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Noid. While the show appears horribly dated from here, one segment is apparently timeless - Rich Hall's Sniglets, in which ordinary people (i.e. just like you and me) invented words that don't appear in the dictionary but should. Mostly this amounts to amusing portmanteaus that concern the refrigerator lightbulb or frayed shoelaces.

But leave it to the original cats from McSweeney's to find a whole new application for Sniglets. It's called The Future Dictionary of America (not to be confused with Faith Popcorn's incisive Dictionary of the Future) in which cute, non-threatening writers like Jonathan Safran Foer and Sarah Vowell present new vocabulary words for the dystopic future that awaits us all.

See if you can distinguish between the Sniglets and the works of capital L Literature. (Answers below.)

Dopeler effect: the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Idiolocator: the symbol on a mall or amusement park map representing "You Are Here"

Giraffiti: vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

Fictate: to inform a television or screen character of impending danger under the assumption they can hear you.

Zzzunday: national holiday occurring once every 28 years, when a Leap Year coincides with a Sunday.

Jukejitters: fear that everyone thinks that you picked the awful tune emanating from the jukebox when it was actually the person before you.

Gertatious: having the adolescent fear that hanging one's arm over the bed at night will mean being dragged under.

Answer Key: Except for Zzzunday, they're all Sniglets - I'm not about to shell out 28 bucks for a fake fucking dictionary.

Posted at 9:24 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 20, 2004
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, Vol. 35


Posted at 6:09 PM in a Grave, Unintentionally Hilarious fashion.
An orator crafted from stone

Marcus Tullius Cicero, left, and John F. Kerry, on the right.

According to today's Washington Post, the respective teams for the Bush and Kerry campaigns have agreed to a package of three presidential debates in the upcoming weeks, after months of delays on the part of President Bush's re-election crew. According to the Post:

Matthew Dowd, the Bush-Cheney campaign's chief strategist, said in an interview earlier this month that Kerry "is very formidable, and probably the best debater ever to run for president." "I'm not joking," Dowd added. "I think he's better than Cicero," the ancient Roman orator.

Dowd's comparison to the classic orator of yesteryear initially comes off as quite a stretch, but upon closer examination, he may indeed have a point: both men have a certain notoriety for being, shall we say, excessively verbose. Witness Cicero's thoughts on aging, from "On Old Age":

"For the present I have resolved to dedicate to you an essay on Old Age. For from the burden of impending or at least advancing age, common to us both, I would do something to relieve us both though as to yourself I am fully aware that you support and will support it, as you do everything else, with calmness and philosophy. But directly I resolved to write on old age, you at once occurred to me as deserving a gift of which both of us might take advantage. To myself, indeed, the composition of this book has been so delightful, that it has not only wiped away all the disagreeables of old age, but has even made it luxurious and delightful too."

Good luck making sense of that and translating those words into English from the current Latin incarnation that's been reproduced above.

Now, let's see how Kerry fares, with similar subject matter, in this quest for circumlocutory language (from the text of a speech given September 6 in Racine, West Virginia):

"At that convention in New York last week, George Bush actually promised the American people that after four years of failure, he now had a plan to get health care costs under control. Well, if you weren't suspicious of a plan announced just two months before an election, you got a quick dose of reality the next day. George Bush socked seniors with a 17 percent increase in Medicare. What's right about that? That's the biggest increase in Medicare premiums in the history of the program. Raising Medicare costs -- that's W and that's wrong. Wrong choices, wrong direction.

It's time for a president who will lead America in a new direction.


At that convention in New York last week, George Bush said that he actually had a new idea. And you know what it was? The bad, old idea of privatizing social security -- and cutting your benefits. That's W and that's wrong. Wrong choices, wrong direction. It's time for a president who will lead America in a new direction."

OK, so Kerry seems to repeat himself a bit more than his highly-esteemed counterpart, but we'll give him points for clarity. Relative clarity, and relative to words that have aged a full two-thousand years. When compared with the pithy lines and snappy soundbites of the sitting President, however, Kerry does have a way of coming off a bit, well, wooden, if not stony-faced.

RELATED: John Kerry's "A Plan For Stronger, Healthier Seniors"

Posted at 4:16 PM in a Grave fashion.
Emmy 2004: Adventures in the Skin Trade



Posted at 3:38 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Next issue, "The Apprentice vs. The Benefactor: The Commodification of the Capitalists"


Posted at 1:06 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
Photo Ops Gone Awry, Vol. 2


Posted at 12:13 PM in a Grave fashion.
Pointing out cliches is so...cliche

rich.jpgLet it be known that we adore, nay, cherish the pearls of wisdom put forth by columnist Frank Rich each and every Sunday in the New York Times. Yes, in the past, we may have thrown the gauntlet on occasion and gotten all up in his business, but we're willing to let bygones be bygones. And, like our new hero Frank Rich, we're willing to overuse and abuse a slew of conversational cliches in our writing.

In Rich's latest missive, "This Time Bill O'Reilly Got It Right," (which appeared in the September 19, 2004 edition of the Times) readers are treated to a feast of such verbal banalities. To wit:

"If a stopped clock is right twice a day, why shouldn't Bill O'Reilly be right at least once in a blue moon?"

"This was G.O.P. TV raised to not-ready-for-prime time self-parody, lacking only the studio audience to yuk it up."

"CNN, the inventor of 24/7 news, once prided itself on being a straight shooter."

"Now it and Mr. Carville have argued that the line wasn't blurred here..."

"At some point after 9/11, the news business jumped the shark..."

"Should network news ride into the sunset..."

"The only hope for a successful alternative is not to fight Fox's fire with imitation Fox fire in the form of another partisan network but to reinvent the wheel with a network that prizes news over endless left/right crossfire..."

Posted at 11:02 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 17, 2004
Nothing's Sacred

hipster_vice_hater.jpgHey, world: Stop Playa-Hatin', okay?

First, you piss in our PBR by telling us that the batteries in our iPods have about as much lifespan as a potato clock.

Now, you rain on our dodgeball game by telling us that our bikes would be safer secured with a diary lock! Goddamnit! Why must you hate on our hipster lifestyles*? Are you jealous or something?

What's next? Onion T-shirts cause cancer? Are you gonna tell us that The Killers abuse child labor laws? Oh, is blogging going to be characterized by the DSM V as a mental illness? Then I bet you'll tell us that PBR is already 70 percent piss! Thanks for sharing, you goddamn haters.

* Yes, your middle-aged boss has an iPod and your mom has a bike. Maybe your boss and your mom are hipsters, ever think of that, jackass? (I guarantee your boss has a Member's Only jacket in his closet and your mom wears those flat nurse's shoes.) Next you're gonna tell me that making fun of old people and squares makes you look like an immature, bitter, Urban Outfitters-shopping monkey-boy! Goddamn haters!

Posted at 9:30 AM in a Shallow fashion.
The Associated Press' funniest caption ever


According to the Associated Press: "Three-year-old Sophia Parlock cries while seated on the shoulders of her father, Phil Parlock, after having their Bush-Cheney sign torn up by Kerry-Edwards supporters on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004, at the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards made a brief stop at the airport as he concluded his two-day bus tour to locations in West Virginia and Ohio. (AP Photo/Randy Snyder)"

Posted at 7:43 AM in a Grave fashion.
  September 16, 2004
I Love These Countries!


In response to a string of terrorist acts by Chechen rebel groups, Russian President Vladmir Putin has formally announced plans to concentrate power through direct appointment of regional governors and the elimination of individual district elections for the Duma.

In response to these sudden moves, Colin Powell said "This is pulling back on some of the democratic reforms as seen by the international community that have occurred in the past. So yes, we have concerns about it, and we want to discuss them with the Russians." But the democracies of the world are having trouble urging Russia to see things their way and the Bush administration is concerned that too-severe criticisms might only act to diminish any possibilities for further alliances, especially when it comes to cooperating in the war on terror.

But all of this is good news for Ukrainian-born funnyman Yakov Smirnoff who made a career with his "What A Country!" routine in the mid-80's, appearing in guest spots on TV's Night Court. You might remeber some of Smirnoff's more memorable lines, such as:


In Russia, if a male athelete loses he becomes a female athelete.

or, this biting media critique:
In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One.

and, of course Smirnoff's offbeat takes on Russian comedy:
Many people are surprised to hear that we have comedians in Russia, but they are there. They are dead, but they are there.

After 13 years since the Soviet Union collapsed, the comic has fallen on some hard times. However, Smirnoff is apparently working on some new material to update his act. Here are some ideas found in Smirnoff's trash can more recently:

In America, terrorists come from other side of world. In Russia, they live next door.

In America, you can lose popular vote and still be elected president. In Russia, you can be president and just get rid of popular vote.

In Russia, state controls health care for people. In America, health care controls state. I love this country!

Posted at 5:54 PM in a Grave fashion.
A handy guide to Bush's supporters (as seen from front and back)

Via Reuters, "U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in St. Cloud, Minnesota, September 16, 2004."

From director Victor Salva, the monstrous villain in his monstrous film, Jeepers Creepers.

Posted at 3:43 PM in a Grave fashion.
The new nickel: Thomas Jefferson's greatest makeover since being portrayed by Nick Nolte in 1995


Posted at 2:20 PM in a Grave fashion.
You see that wolf over there? It's from Iran. Seriously. There's a wolf. An Iranian wolf. I'm not kidding, this time.

Satellite images over Iran

Via Reuters, mere hours ago: "U.S. Says New Images Show Iran Plans Nuke Bomb"

A prominent international expert said on Wednesday that new satellite images showed the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons. Iran denies having an atomic bomb program.

Satellite images over Iraq

From U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's egregiously dishonest presentation to the United Nations in early February 2003, on Saddam Hussein and Iraq's purported possession of WMDs and whatnot (via CNN.com):

Powell then showed satellite photos that he said indicated the presence of "active chemical munitions bunkers" disguised from inspectors.

The first photo showed was from a weapons munitions facility, which Powell said was one of 65 such facilities in Iraq. He said the photo contained "sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions," including a decontamination truck and special security.

Posted at 1:56 PM in a Grave fashion.
Bill O'Reilly, still reviled...but Al Franken? Mostly just ignored by subway riders

Most media-minded people are aware of last year's imbroglio at the 2003 BookExpo in Los Angeles between vitriolic Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and his mealy-mouthed liberal arch-nemesis Al Franken. And, of course, there's a fair amount of awareness of last fall's lawsuit-and-taunting exchange between the two media figures over the distribution of author Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

But what of the battle occurring underground? Earlier, we examined the treatment conservative firebrand O'Reilly has received at the hands of those with the inclination and opportunity to deface Fox News posters sporting his fleshy visage in New York's subway system. Now, the gauntlet has been thrown...and another network, the Sundance Channel, is littering the city's subway walls with advertising for Al Franken's new television series.

The scorecard? It's been several weeks, and Al's face is still looking pretty pristine, in contrast to the "Nazi"-themed abuse heaped upon his Republican-leaning counterpart. Witness our representative sampling below:



But there's always an exception, right?


So, wait...what happened with this image? Admittedly, the one sampled above is in the extreme minority, but are there still RNC delegates lurking in Manhattan? And are they sporting razor blades and Sharpies alongside their patriotic hats and neckties? Or maybe they're simply carrying cages filled with crows, who are periodically released to peck out the eyes of liberal ideologues?

Posted at 8:36 AM in a Grave fashion.
This fall, bad ideas just got a little...worse.


While it's long been held that Hollywood's best and brightest go to work in the studio system's various marketing departments, never before has this been more apparent than with the onslaught of this fall's round of catchy advertising taglines for upcoming entertainment productions. Incredibly, the folks in Burbank and Culver City and west Los Angeles are breaking radical new ground here with their ability to reduce the elaborate plotlines of, say, a thriller about a woman calling a cell phone to a simple, high-concept notion that even a third grader can comprehend. And in the wake of far too many two- and three-hour films coming forth from this town, that shows some skillful concision.

What follows is a round-up of some of these slogans and, quite simply, a resulting assessment of the perceived quality of each film or television series...

Cellular: "If the signal dies, so does she."

Seriously? A movie this bad surely deserves a tagline this reductivistly imbecilic.

The Mountain: "Conditions are about to get nasty."

OK, judging solely from the one-sheet and various ads, there seem to be a bunch of twenty-somethings doing something adventurous in, umm, the mountains. But this tagline? Does this imply that, in addition to action and adventure and tumult, the show features its bitches getting it on with the dudes in a skanktastic style? Or maybe the characters have some sort of personality problems akin to the castmembers of "Real World Las Vegas"? Fuck if I know, because I'm never going to watch this show.

Wimbledon: "She's the golden girl. He's the longshot. It's a match made in..."

Oh! Oh! Oh! I know this one! Wimbledon! And - I'm totally guessing here - the tennis superstar played by Kirsten Dunst falls in love with the wizened underdog fleshed out by Paul Bettany. Or vice versa. One certainty: this seems to be a fairly conventional tagline structure for what must be a fairly conventional film. Syd Field would love this shit.

Head in the Clouds: "In a city of glamour at a time of decadence they met. An aristocrat, a soldier of conscience, and an entertainer. Together they shared a deep passion."

Thank you for the summary. Now I don't need to see this film, and neither does anyone else who read this little novella you pieced together here, Mr. Tolstoy.

The Motorcycle Diaries: "Let the world change you... and you can change the world."

The story of a young Che Guevara and his youthful travels throughout South America. See, by virtue of his traveling, the world changed him...and he became a leftist rebel. Because, presumably, he saw all the various turmoil caused by economic injustice and military coups and secretive interventions by the U.S. government. Not to mention, it stars that totally hot guy from Amores Perros who looks a hell of a lot like an even handsomer Tobey Maguire. So there.

Shaun of the Dead: "A romantic comedy. With zombies."

Short and punchy, but sort of...askew, right? Just like this film, I reckon! Well, if Moriarty liked this flick, then that's good enough for me.

Mr. 3000: "He's putting the 'I' back in team."

See, star Bernie Mac is a loudmouthed fellow, and he's arrogant, too. Also, sports are somehow involved in the storyline.

Shark Tale: "The story of what happens when one little fish tells a great white lie..."

So Dreamworks' animation division decides to rip off Finding Nemo. The very first Shrek had all those adult-oriented digs at Disney at Jeffrey Katzenberg's insistence. Jeffrey Katzenberg hates Michael Ovitz. And Michael Eisner, meanwhile, is slated to leave Disney by 2006. The two Michaels have historically argued over who prefers flounder and who likes trout, a schism which purportedly lead to the dissolution of their business relationship in the mid-90s.

The Last Shot: "The true story of the greatest movie never made."

Forgive the Horatio-Sanz-as-Gene-Shalit routine, but...I only wish Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick hadn't made this movie. Ha, ha, ha!

First Daughter: "The girl who always stood out is finally getting the chance to fit in."

Hmmm...the President's daughter finally gets to live a normal life? Because her dimwitted, lying, inept father was voted out of office this November? Or is that just wishful thinking?

The Forgotten: "On September 24th everything you've experienced, everything you've known, never happened."

How very metaphysical! It's like I never saw The Butterfly Effect! (Which I didn't, for what it's worth.)

Posted at 8:34 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 15, 2004
Election 2004: Let's get ready to rummmmble!





OK, scratch the boxing reference. Looking at the embarrassingly camel-toed Dick Cheney in action, so to speak, it seems as though some candidates are best-suited to coaching from the corner instead of "fighting the fight."

Posted at 3:09 PM in a Grave fashion.
It's all relative

From the "It's not breaking news per se, but good old-fashioned press-release analysis" department at the New York Times, we've got Adam Liptak's "Fewer Death Sentences Being Imposed in U.S." in the September 15, 2004 edition of the paper. The article is largely culled from data gleaned from a report put out by the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group that "says it takes no position on capital punishment, though it has been critical of the way the death penalty is applied."

But the report's thesis - that exonerations play a major role - as well as its data on the number of people exonerated are the subject of debate. The report says that 116 innocent people have been released from death row since 1973, after serving an average of nine years each.


Prosecutors said the report overstates the number of innocent people who have been released from death row. They said 20 to 30 is more accurate. "You're talking about an extremely small, microscopic number," said Ward A. Campbell, a supervising deputy state attorney general in Sacramento.

Fair enough. No word, however, on an as-yet-unannounced bill going through the California state legislature right now calling for the indiscriminate and unjust execution of 20-30 members of this Ward Campbell fellow's extended family. Seriously, it's an extremely small, microscopic number, and he probably won't notice.

Posted at 2:37 PM in a Grave fashion.
Poster Boys

A Dirty Shame, feat. Waters (lower right)...Jersey Girl, feat. Smith (upper left)

Designing movie posters isn't easy.

Believe me, we've done enough parody movie posters around here to know. Trying to sum up a two hour film in one image while tapping into various mutually exclusive market forces—Teenage boys! Adult Women! Down-Low Homosexuals!—is hard work. And even though it's essentially a marketing medium, there are enough iconic examples of the form to make designers want to aim for the rafters.

But listen up movie poster designers, there are some things that are beyond lame. Like squeezing the movie's past-his-prime director into the poster like an apparition: These eerie, out-of-context photos are like Banquo's ghost crashing an otherwise fine party.

Take the poster for John Waters' latest, A Dirty Shame. What does Waters' creepy visage (the director himself is fond of pointing out how closely he resembles a child molester) add to the poster that Selma Blair's pneumatic prostheses or Johnny Knoxville's Gene Simmons-esque fake tongue don't? If anything, most young filmgoers have no idea who John Waters is and probably assume he's just another cartoon pervert in a cartoonishly perverted movie.

And then we have Jersey Girl, the DVD and video box for which shows Kevin Smith looking as surprised as we are that he'd be involved in this sub-PAX daddy-daughter cutie-patootie 'comedy.' (The masked bandit over at Defamer already deconstructed this box to great effect in two recent entries.)

It's only natural to make some connection between the quality of these films ("crammed with wince-inducing contrivances, false notes and fizzled jokes," The Times Stephen Holden wrote with noble restraint) and the desperate attempt to remind potential filmgoers of the directors' alleged marks of quality. Does the movie suck?, goes this line of thinking. Then let's slot in the creator and hope that at least the hardcore fans come out to see it. (And hardcore fans don't come much harder core than those of Mr. Smith's: someone somewhere bought this. He—certainly he—may have even watched part of it.)

But what about the early example of Wong Kar Wai's excellent Chungking Express, the box for which is marked by the stubbled face of Quentin Tarantino who served as the film's "executive producer"? (Read: the cool director who convinced Harvey to distribute the film in America.) me2.jpgAdding QT to the design was bad, but hardly a red flag for the film, which ten years after its release is still enjoyable. (Faye Wong dancing around to her own cover of The Cranberries' "Dreams" and Tony Leung talking to his forlorn bar of soap are still great.)

I just hope we've seen the last of this trend. God forbid this chump's carb face starts popping up on the posters for his next couple affronts to cinema.

Posted at 7:34 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 14, 2004
Coming Soon: The Even More Greatester Communicator—To The Extreme!


Posted at 11:39 PM in a Grave, Satirical fashion.
"Only seven weeks left to try to win this election? Oh, dear."


Posted at 10:17 AM in a Grave fashion.
  September 13, 2004
Despite his sagging poll numbers, this is not the sort of pose Sen. Kerry ought to be making at gun control rallies


From the Associated Press: "Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, listens to gun control advocates speak at a campaign stop in Washington Monday, Sept. 13, 2004."

Posted at 3:35 PM in a Grave fashion.
Photo Ops Gone Awry, Vol. 1

"Yeahhhhh! Look at me! Look Rummy, no hands!"

Posted at 3:17 PM in a Grave fashion.
We rewrite, you decide, Vol. 6


From "Bush Stresses Commander-in-Chief Role", the Washington Post, September 13, 2004:

Administration officials disclosed plans yesterday that show the many ways Bush will try to emphasize his role as commander in chief. He will interrupt his swing-state travel in just over a week to go before cameras at the United Nations with the interim president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. Two days later, Bush will welcome Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, to the Rose Garden.


The Bush-Cheney campaign's focus on safety and security pervaded the Republican National Convention, where prime-time speakers repeatedly portrayed Bush as a steady and steely commander in the war on terrorism, with little attention to domestic issues.

From "Key General Criticizes April Attack In Fallujah; Abrupt Withdrawal Called Vacillation", also in today's edition of the Washington Post, September 13, 2004:

The outgoing U.S. Marine Corps general in charge of western Iraq said Sunday he opposed a Marine assault on militants in the volatile city of Fallujah in April and the subsequent decision to withdraw from the city and turn over control to a security force of former Iraqi soldiers.


The comments by Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, made shortly after he relinquished command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force on Sunday, amounted to a stinging broadside against top U.S. military and civilian leaders who ordered the Fallujah invasion and withdrawal. His statements also provided the most detailed explanation -- and justification -- of Marine actions in Fallujah this spring, which have been widely criticized for increasing insurgent activity in the city and turning it into a "no-go" zone for U.S. troops.

Posted at 12:33 PM in a Grave fashion.
Coming soon, unless LAX is DOA


Posting today's gonna be lax. "LAX", in fact! In honor of tonight's premiere episode of NBC's hour-long drama starring the forever-relevant Heather Locklear and the forever-handsome Blair Underwood, we're throwing aside creativity and getting a bit—you guess it!—lax!

According to the press clippings for the show, it "explores the behind-the-scenes dramas and conflicts of both travelers and staff transpiring daily at the bustling Los Angeles International Airport." The show's characters are jockeying "to be named the new director of the airport while working together to solve everything from bomb scares, to VIP arrivals, drunken pilots and roaming pets—all beneath the din of a frantic "hub" with spokes that touch all corners of the world."

We have such high hopes for this show we're already holding our breath for the inevitable Law & Order/C.S.I.-esque spin-offs. To wit:

"SJC": Slated for a mid-season replacement slot. Covers the trials and tribulations of customs agents working at San Jose International Airport, in Northern California's little-known but most-populous city, as shady foreign businessmen try to steal trade secrets from Silicon Valley's bustling computer and technology industry. This series, incidentally, is set in 1996.

"EWR": Another mid-season filler. For those of you not well-versed in our nation's many lesser-known airports, EWR refers to New Jersey's Newark International Airport. This gripping boardroom drama concerns the NY/NJ Port Authority's efforts to bring the consumer-class convenience of budget carriers such as JetBlue to little ol' Newark. "You know how much traffic we're losing to goddamned LaGuardia? We've got fucking Song and that's it," series lead Eric Roberts repeatedly barks to his underlings in the well-received pilot, which is, somewhat notably, the first drama about airports to feature heavily-excised language.

"EYW": Air travel doesn't come easy when you're located amidst miles and miles of waterfront property with docks and piers extending as far as the eye can see...and the staff at Key West International Airport knows this firsthand. For years, a battle has been raging between local boat-rental companies and the cozy airport's ringmasters, but that battle just got a little more even with the arrival of drug baron Raoul Mendoza and his posse of depth-charge-dropping small-bodied Sandpiper aircraft.

"IND": If there's one thing flight mechanics don't like, its a nasty labor dispute. And when the fictitious USAirlineways, which is in no way related to the real-life USAirways, files for bankruptcy and threatens to reduce its nonstop service between the titular Indianapolis International Airport and Boston, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia, these laborers get mad. But what they don't know is that USAirlineways' chief labor negotiator is from Baltimore, and has carried a nasty Eric Dickerson-related grudge since that fateful day in 1984 when the Colts left his city to head to Indiana. (This pilot currently only exists in script format and has yet to be filmed.)

Posted at 10:49 AM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
  September 11, 2004
Summary of the 9/11 Commission Implementation Bill

Responding to the majority of the 9/11 Comission's 41 recommendations for intelligence reform, legislation was introduced into the Senate by a bipartisan group.

A .pdf of this lengthy, complex 280 page bill is available here. But for the sake of our readers who are not yet up-to-date and in-the-know concerning all things intelligence, Low Culture has obtained a document from the CIA which succinctly describes the ramifications of the new bill, putting together a simple and fun reference tool to guide you through your government's new configurations.


Simple, really.

Posted at 9:47 AM in a Grave fashion.
  September 10, 2004
...And we threw this entire post together without using the word "tasteless"

In today's New York Times, writers Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer have assembled one of those contemplative think pieces about the events of September 11, 2001 that will presumably continue to be annual media occurrences for at least the next few years. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but in their "Falling Bodies, a 9/11 Image Etched in Pain", the authors engage in a multi-page examination of the cultural impact (or lack thereof) of those people who specifically perished by leaping to their deaths from the intimidating heights of the two towers of the World Trade Center. And it is a suitably sad and moving tale, though presented rather analytically.

From a syntax standpoint, however, we have to ask: how did the word "defenestrate" not make one single appearance in this article?

Posted at 5:13 PM in a Shallow fashion.
September 10th: On this day in history

1846: Elias Howe received a patent for his sewing machine.

1926: Germany joined the League of Nations.

1940: Buckingham Palace was struck by a German bomb.

1941: Celebrated evolutionary theorist and former Harvard University professor Stephen Jay Gould was born.

1955: Gunsmoke premiered on CBS.

1961: Mickey Mantle tied a major league baseball record for home runs when he hit the 400th of his career.

1990: Iran agreed to resume full diplomatic ties with its former enemy Iraq.

1993: NBC aired its final episode of Late Night with David Letterman.

2001: President George W. Bush twiddled his thumbs while leafing through a stack of unread memos and intelligence reports.

Posted at 1:21 PM in a Grave fashion.
MISSED CONNECTIONS > Angry man at MSG last week - w4m - 26

rnc_missedconnections.jpg(Via Joshuah Bearman)

you: curly haired, right wing zealot. me: cute, defenseless liberal...

i saw you when i whipped out my anti-Bush banners on the floor of the RNC last week and tried an impromptu bit of protesting. you restrained me, and then you started kicking me on the floor...i mean, yeah, it hurt a bit, and my ribcage is sort of fucked up now, and that's why it's taken me so long to post this missed connection, after my being in jail and then the hospital and then recuperating at my parents for a few days, but i think we shared a special moment, all circumstances aside. i keep thinking how clever it was of you to wear that green "monster" shirt while you hovered over me. i like that cleverness, and i liked your loafers. very casual, very firm.

if you're interested...wanna get some coffee some time?

this is in or around Midtown
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Posted at 12:20 PM in a Grave fashion.
  September 9, 2004
Zell Miller Challenges Hurricane Ivan to a Duel

story.zell.miller.jpgLast week, in a heated interview with Chris Matthews on Hardball, Senator Zell Miller told Matthews, "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel."

This week, Miller has challenged Hurricane Ivan to a duel somewhere off the coast of Jamaica to "protect the homeland" from high winds and potentially disastrous flooding.

And in a related note, Miller is expected to introduce legislation to make dueling legal. The ghost of Alexander Hamilton is expected to filibuster. But the ghost of former Republican (now the Democratic party) turned Federalist (the elitist party of the early 19th century) Aaron Burr is expected to pop a cap in Hamilton's ass. Again.

Posted at 2:34 PM in a Grave fashion.
Perfect Set... Bumping Uglies... Volley Girls!

Yes, we're reusing this picture. How could we not?

And now, the easiest spec script sale in the history of man (from Done Deal):

Title: Untitled Addario-Syracuse Pitch
Log line: Two intensely competitive rivals on the women's beach volleyball tour must learn to combine their vastly different playing styles to win back their honor.
Writer: Lisa Addario and Joey Syracuse
Agent: Sandra Lucchesi of The Gersh Agency
Buyer: Paramount Pictures
Price: Mid-six figures
Genre: Sports Drama
Logged: 9/9/04
More: Pitch. Preemptive buy. Vincent Newman Entertainment will produce.

No title, stars, or director? I know I've bought my ticket already!

Posted at 2:08 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Adjust the 'Ph' Balance, please

Butler75.jpgHell just got a little bit more crowded, according to today's New York Times.

Richard G. Butler, founder of Aryan Nations, died at age 86. (Not to be mistaken with Richard Butler, the former UNSCOM chairman who warned us about Saddam's phantom W.M.D.'s.)

According to the Times's Daniel Wakin (Richard G. Butler, 86, Founder of the Aryan Nations, Dies), Butler, who had congestive heart failture, died in his sleep in Hayden, Idaho. No word on how much drawn-out, agonizing pain the old man endured or his karmic fate as a furrier's mink in his next life.

The reason I point towards this piece is to address one of my biggest pet peeves: the misspelling of Adolf Hilter's Hitler's [Thanks, Matt!] name. According to Wakin, Butler, "lived out his final years in a house adorned with crosses, relics and books about Adolph Hitler and Holocaust denial."

Sure, we all make mistakes, but this is one that seems to occur so often in publications it's like a strange, unshakable tick. One possible excuse may be Microsoft Word's spell-check preference for "Adolph" over "Adolf": Can anyone explain that?

When "Adolph Hitler" appears on the web or squeaks through at an alt-weekly, you can almost overlook it, but because of its status as "the paper of record" a mistake like this in the Times makes it almost canonical, especially for copy editors who'll frantically Nexis/Lexis the spelling during hellish, late night closes for their jobs and make the same error. So, hypothetical, overworked copy editors: use The New Yorker, and ignore MS Word, okay?

So, once and for all: It's Adolf Hitler. 'F' 'im—please.

Posted at 10:43 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 8, 2004
You know that scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 where the military uses the promise of a music career to lure new recruits?

colonelabrams.jpgFrom "U.S. Planes Hit Rebel Stronghold in Falluja; 6 Reported Killed", the New York Times, September 8, 2004 (emphasis mine):

"There are no negotiations," said Col. Robert B. Abrams, the commander of the First Brigade of the First Cavalry Division. "Sadr needs to disband and disarm, and then we can talk."

"If they don't disarm," Colonel Abrams said of the Mahdi Army, "we will be back at this every month, forever."

UNRELATED: Colonel Abrams, the MCA recording artist who released a small handful of top-ten singles in the mid-1980s, including "Trapped", whose chorus is reproduced below:

Can't you see I'm so confused? / I can't get out / You see I'm trapped

Like a fool I'm in a cage. / I can't get out / You see I'm trapped

Posted at 2:39 PM in a Grave fashion.
The art of insidious spin (Or is it a science? We never pegged these guys as creative types)


Congratulations are in order to the United States military for finally crossing that all-important milestone the press has apparently been all-too-eagerly awaiting: 1,000 military personnel killed in Iraq! Judging by the likeminded headlines devoted to this phenomenon, it's unclear which milestone was more excitedly anticipated, the one measuring the American military death toll or San Francisco Giants' slugger Barry Bonds' attempt to reach 700 career home runs. (Good luck, Barry, natch! We hear that one PFC Larry Gutierrez from Alameda is pulling for you from his base in Najaf.)

While cynics may charge that the idea of hyping or heavily reporting our nation's having reached a four-figure death toll pertaining to the invasion of Iraq cheapens the equally tragic deaths of, say, numbers 997, 998, and 999, Americans can rest assured that the president is equally supportive of each and every death, or more significantly, what those deaths "represent" or "stand for." In this vein, President Bush, noted disciple of Clement Greenberg that he is, warmly embraces symbolism by way of his henchmen. To wit, from the New York Times:

Mr. Bush never mentioned the figure on a bus tour across Missouri. But at the very moment he was criticizing Mr. Kerry as having flip-flopped on Iraq, his press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters that the 1,000 men and women had died "so that we defeat the ideologies of hatred and tyranny."

For what its worth, we're guessing that the more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians who have died in this same time period as a result of the invasion also gave their lives for such grandiose, abstract notions as "statehood" and "better prisons" and "a capital-punishment-free nation".

Posted at 12:21 PM in a Grave fashion.
Darling, you must tell me where you got that wonderful outfit!

Teresa Heinz Kerry, New York Observer, Sept. 9, 2004... Hillary Rodham Clinton, SPY, Feb. 1993

Posted at 8:52 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 7, 2004
Celebrating the Bush administration's successful domestic policies, vol. 1: Less Traffic

From "Study: Traffic costs billions of hours a year", CNN.com, September 7, 2004, which examines the general trend of increasing traffic congestion in the nation's largest urban areas, but which contains the following caveat:

Traffic in some cities has actually gotten better -- but that's because their economies have done poorly.

"In a lot of the places in the past we've seen success in cities suffering job declines -- Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland," Pisarski said. "Unemployment is a great solution."

(With thanks to Jeff.)

Posted at 10:22 PM in a Grave fashion.
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, Vol. 34


Posted at 8:05 AM in a Grave, Unintentionally Hilarious fashion.
  September 3, 2004
Truly, There's a New World Coming

From, There's A New World Coming [via: Filthy Hippy Speak]

"Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized this moment, and used it to build a future of safety and peace."
— George Bush, Convention Speech, Sept. 2, 2004

"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
1 Thessalonians 5:2,3; KJV)

[A special thanks to Javier]

Posted at 2:47 PM in a Grave fashion.
RNC 2004: Ahh, the memories...(An Infiltrator's Scrapbook)

Um, yeah, I don't think this needs a caption, right?

See, the joke is that this RNC worker looks just like Santa Claus, so Robert Smigel, as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, can crack wise about outsourcing elves to India or somesuch routine.

See, the joke is...nevermind.

Who said conservatives don't have a flair for the creative when it comes to their wardrobe? These delegates from Montana are sporting a beret and a green frilly shawl type thing. That means they're the craftsiest conservatives out there.

Christ almighty, lord Jesus. You can't see from here, but those badges and buttons sport a plethora of pro-life phrases.

Continued below...after the so-called jump.

Continue reading...
Posted at 12:55 PM in a Grave fashion.
Coming Out Soon: The Defense of Prancing Act


Posted at 8:34 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 2, 2004
RNC 2004: Fun with signs, AKA who the fuck are Nick and Stef, and why wasn't I invited?






Posted at 2:52 PM in a Grave fashion.
This is Bushworld*

*This guy just lives in it.

A Bush supporter in Albuquerque, NM... Maureen Dowd's books, Bushworld

Posted at 9:08 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  September 1, 2004
Because the loveliest ladies shop at Brooks Brothers


Posted at 12:36 PM in a Grave fashion.
Retards & Reporters

"Hey, what's goin' on over here?"

Headline from The New York Post, Sept. 1, 2004

NOUN: 1. Grass seed shaken out of hay. 2. Pieces of chaff or straw that fall from hay. 3. Slang A bumpkin; a yokel.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000. Category: Offensive

Posted at 8:50 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Compassionate Hypocrite

Long, May It Wave

"As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship.

"Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long." —Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's GOP Convention speech, Aug. 31, 2004

4 USCS § 8 (2004)
§ 8. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or
drapery.—Title 4 - Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States, Chapter 1, Sec. 8- Respect for Flag

[Thank you, thank you, Dave!]

Posted at 8:03 AM in a Grave fashion.
Make our "team" part of your "team"
jean-paul tremblayJean-Paul Tremblay written-ed, directed and co-produced a bunch of so-called "comedy" and "video" content, is notoriously competitive, and nonetheless settles for bottom-tier tokenism. Repped by John Herndon at Grape Dope Entertainment. Thrill jockey!
matt haberMatt Haber has written for The New York Times, Esquire, and The New York Observer. He is not allergic to pet dander and can do "ethnic" accents if the part calls for it. He is repped by Candy Addams at Entertainment 4-Every-1. Feeling special?
Guy Cimbalo is so cute! Yes, he is. Who's a cute little Guy? You are, you are! Guy's our very own star of stage and screen and is repped by Jeff Kwatinetz at The Firm. Rowr!
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