October 31, 2005
Laugh Yourself Silly With the New York Times Magazine's "Funny Pages"
This week we made funny with:
Chris Ware's eavesdropping, sexist cripples!
Elmore Leonard's alcoholic spinsters and blood-thirsty lawmen!
Carl said: "This friend of Peyton's, Venicia Munson, was an old-maid schoolteacher who drank Peyton's wildcat whiskey and didn't care who knew it. We're sitting in her kitchen waiting for Peyton to show, she told me she was scared to death. I said, 'Well, that'll teach you to get mixed up with a bank robber.' She said: 'You're the one scares me, not Peyton. I can tell you'd rather shoot him than bring him in.' She said it was why I became a marshal, to get to carry a gun and shoot people."
And Firoozeh Dumas' racially-profiled family!
October 28, 2005
Slate's Breakfast Table, but Not (A conversation about the news of the day)
As Slate has been less-than-stellar about maintaining "The Breakfast Table," a once-beloved feature that, regrettably, has since been allowed to languish, we asked the site's editor Jacob Weisberg for permission to license it for our own usage, and he, of course, agreed, recognizing that low culture has always outshone his own tepidly downtrodden site in all the ways that matter, but most notably in the manner in which we've historically been very strong at using the format of two disparate-yet-complementary experts weighing in on the issues of the day. Also, he acknowledged how great we were with excessively long and unnecessarily verbose introductory sentences. He's a good editor.
And with that, we introduce our two "Breakfast Table" panelists for this leisurely Friday afternoon; first, we have one Alex Pareene, a student of dramaturgical matters and working-class struggle, and Jean-Paul Tremblay, a self-employed and self-professed expert in theatrical composition and post-Jamesonian Marxism.
From: Jean-Paul Tremblay
To: Alex Pareene
Subject: Scooting out the door?
Friday, October 28, 2005, at 2:06 AM EST
I probably shouldn't be starting our exchange yet, because it's not yet dawn and I just got back from the loudest, most raucous fucking dress rehearsal ever, but I just got a hunch on the cab ride home from the theater that Libby's going to go down today. I've traced this idea to a realization I had while watching my play's lead actor limp around onstage in crutches, whereupon I saw that if the character had been unable to afford healthcare, we'd have had to reformat the setpieces such that the entire play was comprised of a conversation on a couch. Which'd be far more David Rabe than Luigi Pirandello, and you know how much I go for an early twentieth-century motif with my body of work. Anyways, the dude's in crutches. And so is Libby, and Libby has money, and the crutches are his means of power...the money is the crutch. And the disability is his means of power. And if he's indicted today, and goes down, it'll totally be this unjust transfer of power. Why do I ingest so much ketamine when working with these dress rehearsals? I have to stop. It fucks with my mind and logistical reasoning.
From: Alex Pareene
Pirandello, my friend, was an inspired reference -- seeing Scooter Libby "go down," as you put it, brought to mind nothing so much as Pirandello's Enrico IV. Scooter, of course, is Berthold the valet. I see Cheney as the doctor and Judy Miller as Donna Matilda. The "mad" king is America itself, and today we learned that she is tired of wearing her mask.
"I just got a hunch," you say. I keep coming back to those words. Hunches and crutches, those tired dramatic devices. The hunch, Richard III's power, repugnant but impossibly attractive. The Neo-liberal hegemony fuctions in almost exactly the same fashion. And the crutch -- not money, I think, but the classical liberal ideal of the social contract. It's weakness, it's bathos, the greatest enemy of neo-liberal society. I've been revising my musical revue of historical materialism ("Sing, Sang, Materialistische GeschichtsauffasSung!"), so my thoughts are a bit scattered at the moment, but I think the entire leak investigation can be read as a critique of the Annales school's perversion of Marxist historiography. I'll tell you what I mean by that as soon as I finish skimming the Wikipedia entry about them.
From: Jean-Paul Tremblay
It's really late in the afternoon, and I just woke up. Sorry about that. This is where the deconstructionist punster in me says, "Guess I missed 'breakfast,' huh?" And where you, the audience, groan.
Such audience participation is really what this whole Plame investigation was all about, I feel...with contributions from a range of professions as diverse as journalists and chiefs of staff. My theatrical production, premiering tonight, is derived from this participatory spirit, wherein I hope workers laboring within the coils of both Media and Government can unite to applaud the work of my crippled lead actor. Crippled by a staggering deficit, an astoundingly piss-poor educational system, and exposure to too much reality television.
In that vein, it's good to know that the populace will be focusing on possible jail time for this Libby fellow. Which, perversely, could be a boon for all of academia...just think of what Antonio Gramsci produced while in prison. I've often thought about adapting his "Prison Notebooks" for the stage, but have consistently come up short in this regard. Whom would I cast as "Hegemony," as you so briefly touch upon above? And in terms of undertaking such an adaptation, I never understood "hermeneutics" very much, to be honest.
I feel like such a sham. When people view my play tonight, they're going to know how phony I am, and how much I've borrowed from the Italian master. "Six Characters in Search of an Author"? I feel like my rendition is more akin to "A Nobody in Search of Some Credibility."
I hope you can make it. Coming by my show, I mean. I know you'll "make it" in all the other ways that matter, kid. You've got talent. Me? I feel like I'm about to pull a Benjamin and shoot myself.
The Eyes Have It
From Wednesday's Entertainment Weekly Popwatch!
Hurley grows increasingly crazed when he starts using amphetamines as an appetite suppressant.
Charlie's heroin habit hits an all-time low.
Those damned amputees are finally explained.
And someone's eye figures as a visual cue... But whose?
NB: The Kate-Claire "Ass to Ass" scene is too graphic to be shown here.
October 27, 2005
Stop speaking for my generation, you louts!
by JACOB LINDSTROM
I'll tell ya, if there's one thing a young columnist likes me dislikes more than irresponsible kids doing irresponsible things, it's irresponsible adults doing irresponsible research. How else to explain the occurrence of yet another media frenzy about kids and their newsgathering sources?
Today's Romenesko (a daily news and gossip website for working journalists, both professional ones, like Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, and amateur ones, like myself) features another infuriating posting: a link to a story in the Chicago Tribune entitled "Papers not a must read: A generation of young adults turns to the Internet as its primary news source".
Well, guess what, Mr. Mike Hughlett? (He's the author of the piece.) I'm tired of having lesser-minded twits like one student you quoted, Heather Tody, whose "favorites are CNN.com, Weather.com and Oprah Winfrey's home page" represent my tastes and reading pleasures! Or Josh Darrah, whose information-gathering consists of "sites devoted to comics that are exclusive to the Web."
Mr. Hughlett, why don't you bother digging deeper in your investigative research? For instance, you could have asked me about my reading habits. Though I'm only 16 years old, and not part of the collegiate demographic you cite in your article, I still think I count as part of the generation about which you were trying so hard to make broad, sweeping generalizations. The Generalization Generation? That's you, Mr. Hughlett!
Each and every morning as I make my way to the dining halls here at Exeter, other students may be clutching their copies of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, or Algebra II by Houghton-Mifflin, in preparation for homeroom discussions or pop quizzes...but I always make sure to stop in the school's library and check out the headlines on the print edition of the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Why? Because you know that when something is printed on paper, it has endurance going for it, and more importantly, legacy, unlike the online editions of newspapers' websites, or the blogs kept by some of my classmates. Yes, Google has already cached the unpleasant things that Jeremy Forrester and Alfred Liu and Jesse Quinlan said about my behavior at lunchtime last Tuesday, when I slipped on a wet spot on the floor near where the trays are stored, but that doesn't mean Google was able to cache the cellphone photos they took of this unfortunate incident after I complained to Vice Principal Hartley and they had to take their entries down.
See what I mean? If this news had been reported in the print edition of the New York Times, it would have lived on forever, searing the truth into the public's conscience for all eternity. Much like the paper's reports about Superdome rapes, Wen Ho Lee, and Ahmad Chalabi, people many years from now might have picked up hard copy portrayals of my embarrassing tumble and laughed at my misfortune...and known the truth of that shameful day.
Ultimately, how we read is important. It's a matter of the comfort and security that holding a hard copy of a broadsheet newspaper provides its readers, whether they're scanning the familiar page layout for relevant headlines, or using the massive width of the sheet of unfolded paper to shield their eyes from their classmates' scowls and laughter. I only wish the paper stock were thicker and stronger, to better withstand the writing utensils and pen caps thrown my way.
But I'm still sticking with print, Mr. Hughlett.
(REPRINTED ONLINE WITH KIND PERMISSION OF MR. CLARK TURNER, SCHOOL PAPER ADVISOR)
October 26, 2005
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 59
EXCLUSIVE! The indictments are in, and the wait is over!
After a long day of nervous waiting -- complete with capricious salivating and nail-biting -- by political pundits, the media and bloggers far and wide, "Plamegate" Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, we have just learned, has returned from the federal courthouse with four, count 'em, four indictments in tow. And, suffice it to say, this goes straight to the very top of the U.S. government...
For Shame! Turning your backs on your biggest donors like this...
"Republicans Ask Oil Industry for Help With Fuel Prices", the New York Times, October 26, 2005
"Major Oil Company Profits Expected To Be $96B, Up From $68B Last Year...", the Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2005 (by way of the Huffington Post)
When even President Bush seems to have stopped taking this war seriously...
"Iraq war has taken a toll of 2,000 -- Latest death reflects a trend: Insurgency now flares up in areas U.S. thought safe", the Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2005
"Bush: Iraq war will require more sacrifice", Reuters, October 25, 2005:
As the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000, President George W. Bush said on Tuesday the war will require more time and sacrifice, and rejected calls for a U.S. pullout.
That emotion that broke his voice? Fear...and the realization that four years of hypocrisy and deception regarding Iraq may very well be taking its toll on his beloved legacy.
NOT IN ANY WAY RELATED: Mr. 3000
Hark! The Herald Angels Spin
Yes, it's that most wonderful time of the year, when Christmas yet again comes under siege from the shadowy forces of secular evil. It is fair to say that most American children today don't even know who Christmas is. But who can we blame? Two new books dare to finger the partisan Grinches responsible for stealing Christmas. A tale of the tape.
October 25, 2005
The HuffPo: Good for Politics, Bad for Laughs (or, yet another round of "This is Just Like That")
Situated at the tail end of one of the most recent missives on the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington's new(ish) website with a political bent (and a penchant for really nailing, several times a week, the various inculcations of "Judith Miller Sucks" that fans of responsible journalism and transparent government have come to demand), was this incredibly depressing statement:
“The Secret Presidential IMs” will now be a regular feature on HuffPo. Check here each Tuesday for a new installment.
Tragic, this news...for this post's author, one Danielle Crittenden, is one of the most painfully untalented, uninspired writers currently occupying space online. And “The Secret Presidential IMs”, this "feature" of which she speaks? In computer parlance, we'd call this a "bug"...one which seems to recur on Arianna's site whenever anyone of her stable of writers attempts to post something that one may conceivably interpret as "funny".
"Ahhhh," you're saying to yourself right now, "the so-called humor content available on the site can't be that uninspired, that unfunny, and that insipidly unoriginal...can it?" (Because that's how you speak to yourself, isn't it? You faux-academic wonk.) And then you read these sampled lines below, and you weep with tears of great solemnity, sadly mulling over the Death of Laughter, and her playdate, Originality.
SumNobel4u2: yo prez
"O," indeed. It's not as though Crittenden is cribbing from Arianna's own friend Bill Maher with her oh-so-fresh "Bono/Sonny Bono" take, right? Except, well, she is. And it's not as though the overarching framework, the "mock conversation" device, has already exhausted itself..."O," nevermind.
Time for some "hack"ing, then. Through some intrepid computer geekery, we got ahold of a recent IM conversation that was recently held between Arianna's Guffaw Gang: Danielle Crittenden and her partner in inept, unoriginal joke assembly, Bill Diamond -- or, as he's perhaps better known, the original Funnee Foto Guy. (Greg Gutfeld, the British Maxim editor, and another purported funneeman who sometimes posts on the site, is mostly exempted from this elite list because he's proven semi-capable of working the blogroom for an occasional laugh here and there, at least when he's not himself relying heavily on the Onion's template.)
frumkinsgal: i'm thinking of doing another presidential im post
October 24, 2005
Please, God, carry me through this time of great difficulty
RELATED: Bushies feeling the boss' wrath: Prez's anger growing in hard times - pals, Thomas M. DeFrank, the Daily News, October 24, 2005
Visage Visionaries: South-of-Houston Hipsters, or Houston Astros?
ANSWER, FOR PEOPLE WHO'VE NEVER BEEN TO THE L.E.S.:
Bearded men in ballcaps = National Leaguers feigning their being up to the task of winning the 2005 World Series.
In case you ever wondered what's wrong with privatized healthcare
Buried deep within this morning's completely-not-shocking "revelations" that President Bush's handpicked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) very likely knew what he was doing when he unloaded his soon-to-depreciate healthcare stocks, and may have been involved in some form of so-called insider trading, was this throwaway item:
Questions about his HCA holdings have been a staple of Frist's public life. The Nashville-based company, the country's largest chain of for-profit hospitals, was founded in 1968 by Frist's father, Thomas F. Frist, his brother, Thomas F. Frist Jr., and Jack C. Massey, the former owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Mmmm! That's quite a tasty, fattening little nugget of information for our liberal diets.
Redactio ad Absurdum
In anticipation of this "Fitzmas" nonsense due sometime this week, here's hoping special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's indictment(s) and/or reports are a little more nuanced and fleshed-out than this relevant historical document, the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (July 7, 2004). Page 79, above, is from the section addressing Ambassador Joseph Wilson's Niger reporting.
You can see it's page 79 because, well, that's all you can see. That and some nicely-formatted, indeterminately-numbered bullet points and indentations.
More Hilarity from the New York Times Magazine's "Funny Pages"
You'll laugh as Chris Ware "takes out the trash"!
You'll roar when Elmore Leonard's tough guys hash over the Holocaust!
You'll roll in the aisles when Allison Silverman confronts the ugly face of anti-Semitism!
The Times Magazine Funny Pages -- Does the fun ever start?!?
October 20, 2005
Now Playing: The Ultimate Film About the Downfall of Big Institutions (Fun with Tom DeLay's Mugshot, Vol. 2)
(With the flashiest of thanks to James Reitano.)
Apparently, the Clients Thought "Download More Porn with Intel" Wasn't Catchy Enough
A message much clearer than the aspens, which turn in clusters out West
As anticipated, The Smoking Gun has posted Tom DeLay's mugshot, taken earlier this afternoon. The wire services, however, lack our EXCLUSIVE* Ultrrrra-Zoom technology, and seem to have missed out on the hidden story, the coded message that Rep. DeLay is sending to a particular subset of his would-be base:
SEE ALSO: The blogosphere's semi-ridiculous Libby Writes IN CODE to Miller?, Daily Kos, October 1, 2005
*With all due reverence to Golden Fiddle. You go, boyfriend!
At this rate, they'll become fully literate just in time to escape the calamitous effects of the polar ice caps' melting due to your equally-disastrous environmental policies
From Education Law Gets First Test in U.S. Schools, the New York Times, October 20, 2005:
Fourth-grade math students showed some of the most rapid progress in closing the achievement gap between black and white students, Mr. Kingsbury said. Extrapolating from those results, he said, black and white students would probably be performing at equal proficiency levels by 2034. Other results, like eighth-grade reading, suggest it will take 200 years or more for the gap to close, he said.
From President and Secretary Spellings Discuss Nation's Report Card, hurling forth from the straight-shooting mouth of President Bush (via the White House's Office of the Press Secretary), October 19, 2005:
This is an encouraging report. Thank you for coming, Madam Secretary, because it shows there's an achievement gap in America that is closing; that minority students, particularly in fourth grade math and fourth grade reading are beginning to catch up with their Anglo counterparts.
October 19, 2005
Mr. DeLay!!! Mr. DeLay??!! What are you wearing?
Texas Court Issues Arrest Warrant for DeLay, the Washington Post, October 19, 2005:
A Texas court today issued an arrest warrant for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the powerful former House majority leader, ordering him to appear for booking at a county jail in his home district.
Adventures in the Skin Trade, Vol. 4
October 18, 2005
low culture: What Happened? (A Long, Interminable History)
by Modesty Blaise
Special to The Bizarro-Times Picayune
Then again, they may be walking by because he's merely a B-List blogebrity.
As he walks the streets, occasionally fielding cell phone calls that make him groan theatrically, he stops for a moment to ponder the new issue of TIME Magazine on the newsstand. The cover shows Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld wearing a Yankees cap, eating a banana, and listening to iPod. "In the old days, I'd probably run right home and Photoshop that shit and make a post out of it," Tremblay says wearily.
"But now... I can't even figure out the joke. I couldn't even tell you where I'd begin."
No matter how many bananas public officials consume in photos, Tremblay cannot bring himself to post about it. Call him a "no-blognik": Lately, he feels he can't bring himself to blog, which has resulted in a pitiable lack of posts on his site as well as a declining profile among fellow writers of free, ephemeral web content.
"Blogger fatigue is very real, and it very really affects real bloggers," according to Dr. Owen Spielvogel, chair of the American Psychiatric Association's gossip- and media-focused Loud Family Institute. "Anecdotal research indicates it affects 1 in 10 real bloggers in a real way. Really."
I mention "blogger fatigue" to Tremblay as he glances at the cover of Time Out New York, which features Wayne Coyne of the band Flaming Lips also, inexplicably, eating a banana, wearing a Yankees cap, and listening to an iPod.
An autumnal breeze rustles the trees above us. I can almost see Tremblay's eyes misting up.Continue reading...
The Apple Falls Far, Far From the Tree
From today's New York Daily News:
"As some of you know my father works for Homeland Security, at a very high position and receives security briefings on a daily basis," his son, Nick Seligson-Ross, who runs a dance troupe, wrote in an Oct. 3 E-mail...
The Cover Story
Yesterday, ASME (that's the American Society of Magazine Editors for you great unwashed) announced the 40 greatest magazine covers of the last 40 years. So how does one create a truly great cover? Well, once all the excitement died down, low culture began to search out the subtle threads that link so many of these great, iconic images. Next time, consider the following indicators of greatness before you go to press...
Nudity is Great
Pop Art is Great
Little Kids are Great
Gays are Great
Also consider: Black Backgrounds are Great, Vietnam is Great, Animals Doing Wacky Things are Great, 9/11 (2001 only) is Great
October 17, 2005
Hey, Jack: My Reality Distortion Field is Bigger Than Yours
October 17, 2005 (avail. on newsstands): "How Apple Does It," Time Magazine's cover story from the October 24, 2005 issue
October 13, 2005: "The Apple Polishers: Explaining the press corps' crush on Steve Jobs and company," by Jack Shafer, the "Press Box," Slate
As Seen On The New York Times Magazine's "Funny Pages"
Because nothing says funny like emotional abuse, POW's, and Klosterman's fat mug.
October 13, 2005
At least he's not requesting a bathroom break
In this low culture EXCLUSIVE, we asked this young student at Delisle Elementary School in Pass Christian, Miss., to share with us the note that was passed to President Bush this past Tuesday. In greater detail below:
RELATED: 'You are the best governor ever', Guardian NewsBlog, October 11, 2005
Yes, troops, it looks like that's a target on you guys. And, yes, the president's got you dead in his sights. And, yes, he's ready to wave goodbye. He's been waving this entire time, you see.
RELATED: White House Iraq Group targeted by Fitzgerald probe for engineering attacks against the invasion of Iraq, Talking Points Memo, October 12, 2005
Report Says White House Ignored C.I.A. on Iraq Chaos, the New York Times, October 13, 2005
Because it's all about supporting the troops, gang.
October 12, 2005
Give me grammar, or give me death
Other notable Guardian headlines throughout history:
Nirvana frontman 'commits suicide'
And of course, this has been yet another 'brilliant' low culture post.
October 10, 2005
Steve Jobs' Reading List
Not one, nor two, but three copies of a book about "The White Power Movement"...?
October 7, 2005
Forget her lack of qualifications. Do we really want a Supreme Court Justice that dresses this badly?
And if you're wondering what's going on in the photo directly above, here's the actual, honest-to-god caption, courtesy the Washington Post:
Court nominee Harriet Miers and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) discussed Vermont's foliage. Photo Credit: By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post
Make our "team" part of your "team"