Your annoying uncle who insists on telling you the same joke over and over again

Despite reports that jocularity was in the air during yesterday’s 48-minute White House press conference, some quip-weary reporters seem to have tired of President Bush’s notorious wit and affectionate name-calling:
“When the president called on Mark Smith, the Associated Press radio reporter thanked him for ‘including radio folks’ in the give-and-take.
‘A face for radio,’ Bush rejoined, invoking a line he has applied to other radio reporters.
To that, a slightly chagrined Smith replied: ‘I wish I could say that was the first time you told me that, sir.’ Amid the short bursts of laughter, the smiling president retorted: ‘The first time I did it to a national audience, though.'”

This single moment in the press conference ought to inspire genuine pity for the poor “filtering” members of the press. I’d imagine that touring with Bush day in and day out would be comparable to being married to an exasperatingly bad stand-up comic who practices his or her routine on you each night, and then having to furthermore sit in and watch his or her stage shows every three months.
And I guess this explains why we haven’t seen many outtakes from “Journeys with George”.


Make me look on the outside like I feel on the inside


Saw the trailer for The Last Samurai last night. What’s the deal with Tom Cruise always wanting to be uglied up in his movies? In the Samurai trailer we get two shots of a badly bruised and swollen Cruise, his coverboy looks destroyed.
Reminded me of Vanilla Sky, in which he spent the majority of that film looking like Quasimodo.
Any shrinks out there wanna take a crack at this?


The Times’ biting wit

Christine Hauser of the New York Times must have had to refrain from smiling to herself as she penned her account of Palestinian officials agreeing to form a new, permanent government in the wake of the impending November 4 dissolution of the current, temporary cabinet.
“The Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat asked the prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, to form the cabinet, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said today, according to news agency reports from Ramallah in the West Bank.
‘President Arafat and the Fatah Central Committee have unanimously asked Abu Ala to form a new Cabinet based on the current one,’ Mr. Shaath said, using Mr. Qurei’s nom de guerre.”

Hauser’s right, of course. Though she’s ostensibly discussing the creation of a Palestinian government, using the more conventional notions of “pseudonym” or “fictitious name” lacks the ever-so-clever double entendre of the French nom de guerre, which is also used in a pseudonymous capacity, but literally means “a war name, or a name used in the course of fighting.”
So, when does this government-creating end and the fighting resume? I was so busy quibbling over semantics that I forgot, whose turn is it?


FOX gets Meta

Not sure how I feel about this: it appears the FOX Network (or at least their marketing people) has discovered this weird thing called ‘meta’. How else to explain the ad for the soon-to-be cancelled new show Arrested Development with this phrase:

All This Praise is Embarrassing. But We’re Fox… We Don’t Get Embarrassed.

It’s called heading off criticism at the pass, people. And when your show stars Jason Bateman, it’s an absolute necessity.
Earlier FOX antics from low culture


Born Rich: An Obligatory Review

strokesroomonfire.jpgThough we’re still listening to EMF and several assorted skronk mixtapes, we knew that it would be a great disservice to the youthful upper-middle-class post-hipster community to blithely ignore the arrival of The Strokes’ second album, so we had guest reviewer Guy Cimbalo review the reviews:
The Strokes release “Room On Fire” today, affording the dubious field of rock journalism an opportunity to plow through more self-same cliches than typical coverage of how difficult Thom Yorke can be. But why slog through countless articles headlined “Different Strokes?” when low culture lets you read them all in one sitting?


With no sanity grip!

Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure
Anyone know when George Gurley‘s birthday is?
[Thanks, Madame J!]


Is it art… or a cry for help?

Lock up your hermaphroditic daughters: The Chapman Brothers are back! Like a nasty case of herpes that pops up every few years to make the skin of the body politic crawl, Jake and Dinos Chapman have returned with their unique take on shock art, just in time for awards season.
Who can forget their adorable take on smushed-together pre-adolescent girls with penis noses? Or their enlightening take on the Holocaust involving miniature concentration camps. (The figurines would be right at home in a Bürger Führer Unhappy Meal™.)
chapmans3.jpgHere’s part of their latest bid for a little attention—and a lot of scratch—in the 20th annual Turner Prize in December. On the left, we see Death, (note the oblique, deep title) “a life-size bronze cast of two inflatable sex dolls engaged in fellatio.” Oh, so that’s what those two dolls were doing!
The weird thing about Jake and Dinos’ shocking, shocking art is that it’s really, really boring. I mean, what angry 10 year-old boys hasn’t doodled the same things in his notebook during a boring math class? It reminds me of the name (and the cover art) of an old album. And I didn’t have to go to a museum to see it.


“If you can’t smoke underwater, no one will swim again!”

smokefree.gifPresumably, those of you living in New York have by now been bombarded with these public-service ads from the American Legacy Foundation, founded in the wake of the tobacco industry’s settlement with 46 states in 1999 and “dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit.”
That’s a fine and noble mission, and certainly warrants some form of applause. But they’re making it so hard for me to get behind their message. First, they unveiled the truth® campaign, which utilized an uber-didactic narrative and “cutting-edge” filmmaking methodology to try to persuade the MTV generation that smoking is bad for you (natch) and the tobacco industry is run by a bunch of greedy, calloused motherfuckers who never saw a Michael Mann film they could really embrace.
Within the past year or so, the relatively austere tone of the original truth® campaign morphed into the “Crazyworld” campaign, which seemed to channel HBO’s absurdist “Carnivale” television series, but populating the cast with hipsters rather than circus freaks (those terms are in fact mutually exclusive).
Now comes our very own New York-tailored campaign, “A Smoke-Free New York Works”, which was ostensibly created in the wake of a vocal protest campaign by those who decried Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki’s recent ban on smoking in bars and nightclubs. Again, a fine and noble mission. Anyone living in Los Angeles or California in general knows this can work just fine, despite many TimeOut New York cover stories whining to the contrary.
The problem, however, is that this new American Legacy campaign seems to throw out (alongside the didacticism, thankfully) the avant-garde pretense of its predecessors in lieu of pure and simpleminded idiocy. Here’s the gist: whether sitting on a subway car, or waiting at a bus stop, or leafing through the Village Voice, a bold white ad with hand-scrawled red text leaps out at you, often bearing the most hilariously asinine phrases imaginable. Here are some real, actual samples, unlike our “absurd” headline:
“If they ban smoking in college classrooms, it will destroy higher education!”
“If they ban smoking in office buildings, no one will ever work again!”
“If they ban smoking in churches, it will wipe out all religion!”
“If they ban smoking at JFK, nobody will ever fly again!”
“If they ban smoking in stores, everyone will quit buying stuff!”
Bear in mind these are all actual ads you may have encountered. But I have to ask, who the hell would ever utter such stupid, contemptibly moronic assertions? And if these people really exist, are they really worth listening to, much less quoting?
So, once again, the lofty goals of the anti-smoking industry — despite my being otherwise inclined to endorse any and all of their efforts — have left me to consider supporting efforts and initiatives that would remove their funding. Well, not really, but…something needs to be done, because if I ever step into a bathroom and see this hanging on the doorway or near the stalls, I’ll snap and ask someone for a light. Again, this is a real and actual ad:
“If they ban smoking in bathrooms, it will kill the urinal cake industry!”
Do I even care about the urinal cake industry? It’s the tobacco industry that needs to be reined in, chumps, and ads like this are completely counter-effective.


Prog Blog?

Simon Reynolds goes prog crazy on his blissblog. Sort of reminds me of how the Smurfs talked only, um, more prog.


Editor-in-Chief, edit thyself

I saw this headline on The New Republic Web site and assumed it would be yet another piece on Gregg Easterbrook: When it comes to anti-Semitism, old habits die hard.
Instead, I found an essay on the Middle East by TNR‘s Cambridge Diarist and editor-in-chief Martin Peretz.