end run brought to you by ok soda
  May 27, 2004
Jake Gyllenhaal's So Hot, He Melted the Ice Caps!

From US Weekly's review of The Day After Tomorrow, appearing in the June 7, 2004 issue:

"Global warming has never looked so cool!"

Posted at 3:44 PM in a Shallow fashion.
He should hire that prison's publicist

Lakhdar Brahimi, meet Lizzie Grubman

If you had begun to wonder how well things were (or weren't) going in our efforts to establish full Iraqi sovereignty before the Bush administration's June 30th deadline, consider the subliminal grammatical clues put forth by reporters covering the matter for the New York Times. Specifically, for this one exercise, we'll look at Christine Hauser's "Top Candidate to Lead Iraq's Interim Government Says He Doesn't Want the Job", May 27, 2004:

Dr. Shahristani, a Shiite, had established his credentials by breaking with Saddam Hussein over his plans to develop an atomic bomb and spent several years in Abu Ghraib as a result. He escaped to the West in 1991, during the Persian Gulf war, and led an exile group from London in the intervening years.


A spokesman for Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy who has been leading the effort to build a new government, said Wednesday afternoon that Dr. Shahristani had "clarified that he would prefer to serve his country in other ways."

That's right, one of those newsworthy figures received a qualifying clause while the other did not. In other words, it's assumed that we already know who or what "Abu Ghraib" is, while we need to be reminded who or what this "Lakhdar Brahimi" is or signifies.

Sadly "abuse" will beat "reconstruction efforts" everytime, although in childhood, the opposite always held true: "paper" beats "rock", right? (This was how the game was played, correct? I honestly don't recall there being a comparable schoolyard triptych for "mask/women's underwear/dogs".)

Posted at 3:15 PM in a Grave fashion.
The low culture Subtext Finder, Vol. 2

"Seriously, vote for Bush. I'm fucking serious."

Yesterday, Attorney general John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, held a news briefing/press conference/photo-show-and-tell to alert the American public of the possibilty that al Qaeda, our arch-nemesis in the War on Terror™, may be planning summertime attacks on the U.S.

While perhaps a few jitney riders and resort-goers may experience some inconvenience due to these quasi-anticipated attacks, rest assured, dear nervous Americans, that the motives of our Great Enemy transcend mere discomfiture.

From the transcript of Ashcroft's briefing to the press:

"After the March 11th attack in Madrid, Spain, an Al Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete.

The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida to have advanced their cause. Al Qaida may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences."

Perhaps a translation is in order:

"After al Qaeda attacked hundreds of Spanish commuters shortly before an election, the voting populace in Spain suprised us all by electing an opponent of the U.S.-led war on terror into national office, thereby replacing an official who had stood by President Bush's side during his unpopular invasion of Iraq. Thus, al Qaeda 'won'. Furthermore, this means that they shall 'win' again if you, the American public, were to elect John Kerry this fall, since he, too, has at times spoken out against the way in which Bush has been embarking on this particular war on terror. But then again, if the attacks take place before the election, do we stop them, and hope that, as with the Spanish example, 'no attack' means the re-election of the pro-war candidate? Or do we let the attacks happen and make Spain an example in 'what not to do'? Fuck. Bush/Cheney 2004!"

Of course, that's just one reading of the material presented at the press briefing. And it's not like anyone else has a similar take on yesterday's event.

Posted at 2:35 PM in a Grave fashion.
Former low culture executive editor Matt Haber sent this e-mail to Santa Monica Daily Press gardening columnist Stu Moran with a copy to Poynter

Dear Mr. Moran,

Since the Editors' Note in low culture yesterday cited stories published while I was executive editor, I understand your interest in my thoughts on the subject. First and foremost, I agree with the editors' statement that the stories were published in a reasonable effort to share with our readers the best knowledge that we had at the time. We relied in that period on a group of music and style reporters who worked tirelessly to keep up with developments in the search for Julian Casablancas' fiancˇe. It is inevitable that blog entries of this kind -- usually based on information from interested parties in the Lower East Side and elsewhere -- are incomplete and in some cases reflect the agenda of the sources. Follow-up, as the editors' note correctly observed, is always in order.

Personally, I do not agree with the contention in the editors' note that problems in the Julian Casablancas engagement stories came about because some editors felt pressured to get scoops into the website before the necessary checking had taken place. I cannot read the minds of others in this regard. My feeling is that no editor did this kind of reckless rushing while I was present. Any of the 30 or so people who sat in our site meetings during the run-up to the Casablancas proposal and the first phase of his new relationship can attest to the seriousness with which everyone took this story. As for my part, I can tell you positively that in 25 years at low culture and in 21 months as executive editor, I never put anything into the site before I thought it was ready.

Somewhat to my surprise, I was not contacted by anyone at low culture prior to yesterday's commentary. Had I been I would have repeated my concern that editors' notes do not give readers the facts, analysis and context they need about disputed stories. I found this editors' note as vague and incomplete as some that have preceded it.

I believe low culture remains an indispensable Web site because of the values it stands for. I continue to believe that the site also needs to be sharper competitively. The performance of Gawker and Lindsayism on the Casablancas stories shows that this need continues, and I was heartened to see the comment in a letter to the staff from Mr. Cimbalo and Mr. Tremblay about the continuing need for hard reporting and for setting the record straight.

All best regards,
Matt Haber

P.S. How can I keep squirrels from digging up my bulbs? Do I need to put jars over them, or what? (The squirrels, I mean.)

Posted at 12:19 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 26, 2004
From the Editors: low culture and The Strokes

Over the past several months this website has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led Julian into Juliet. We have examined the failings of gossip and music industry intelligence, especially on the issue of the Strokes' aural charms and possible connections to international women. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so -- reviewing hundreds of posts, or rather, one, written during the prelude to Julian's engagement and into the early stages of the co-occupation of an apartment -- we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from gossip sources that were themselves dependent on sketchy information. And where those posts (or, well, that one post) included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong direction, they were later overtaken by more and stronger information. That is how news coverage normally unfolds.

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge.

Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops onto the website. Accounts of other suitors were not always weighed against our strong desire to have Julian taken off the singles' market. Articles based on dire claims about the Strokes tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.

We consider the story of Julian's engagement, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight.

On an unrelated note, Judith Miller has been fired from her position as low culture's Satire-but-Not-Credited-as-Such reporter.

Posted at 11:07 AM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
In Movie News

Highly anticipated disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow opens the day after tomorrow.

On Friday, the day after tomorrow, when The Day After Tomorrow opens, the day after tomorrow will be Sunday.

Posted at 9:31 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 25, 2004
Pete and Repete were in a boat and Pete jumped out. Who was left?


The third in a series of posts delicately pointing out the mindless repetition inherent to the political 'stump speech'. This week's target, Vice President Dick Cheney. (EARLIER: George W. Bush, John Kerry)

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for 2004 State Victory Committee, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 24, 2004:

And some of you may know that my only job as Vice President is to preside over the United States Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President, but they got down to the end of the convention, and they remembered suddenly they hadn't given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate, the presiding officer.

It's not quite as exciting as it used to be. My predecessor John Adams actually had floor privileges. He could go down in the well and engage in the debate. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They've never been restored.

Remarks by the Vice President at the Diamond Casting and Machine Tool Company, Hollis, New Hampshire, May 10, 2004:

My only real job as Vice President is as President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they got down to the end of the convention, they'd created this post called Vice President, but they hadn't given the guy anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the presiding officer of the United States Senate.

And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He could actually go down into the floor of the Senate and participate in the debate. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been restored.

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Mitch Daniels, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 23, 2004:

My only real job as Vice President is to preside over the United States Senate. When they wrote the Constitution and created the post of Vice President, they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and suddenly realized they hadn't given the Vice President any job. He didn't have anything to do. So they made him the President of the Senate, said, you get to preside over the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes.

And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He was allowed to go down into the well and actually engage in the debate of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They've never been restored.

Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Congressional Candidate Sam Graves, Kansas City, Missouri, April 23, 2004:

My only official duty as Vice President is to preside over the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President, and they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, they figured out they hadn't given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate to allow the Vice President to preside over the Senate, also cast that tie-breaking vote when the Senate is 50-50 on a proposition.

My predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He could go down into the well of the Senate and actually join in the debate and argue the issues of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They've never been restored.

Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Congressional Candidate Kevin Triplett, Roanoke, Virginia, April 19, 2004:

My only official duty is as President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. But they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, they realized they had not given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate, the presiding officer. And you get to preside over the United States Senate, cast tie-breaking votes when the Senate is tied.

And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He could actually go into the well and engage in debate and talk about the issues of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.)

Remarks by the Vice President at An Event for Congressman Jon Porter, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 15, 2004:

Most people don't realize that my only real job is as the President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President, and then they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and realized that they hadn't given anything to do. (Laughter.) So at the least minute they cobbled together this job called the President of the Senate, and made it possible for the Vice President to actually be called the President of the Senate -- I actually get paid by the Senate; that's where my paycheck comes from -- to preside as the presiding officer of the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes when the Senate is deadlocked.

And my predecessor, John Adams, our first Vice President also had floor privileges. He could go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the day, and actually participate in the exciting debate on the major issues of the day in the Senate, itself. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been reinstated.

Sadly, the Vice President hasn't quite perfected his delivery and comic timing when addressing an international audience. Here he is speaking to a crowd of students at China's Fudan University:

Remarks by the Vice President at Fudan University Followed by Student Body Q&A, Shanghai, China, April 15, 2004:

The role of the Vice President has evolved over the years. When our Constitution was written in Philadelphia at our Constitutional Convention, they created the position of Vice President. But when they got to the end of the convention, they decided that they hadn't given him anything to do. He had no work. So they made him the President of the Senate, that is the presiding officer over our upper house of our Congress and gave him the ability to cast tie-breaking votes.
Posted at 4:33 PM in a Grave fashion.
Media scorecard: Old news is new news


Ah, Newsweek. You've got the Ahmed Chalabi story on your cover this week, as might be expected of any arbiter of mainstream journalism. It's quite a tale you've got, there...except, much like last summer's Joseph Wilson/Robert Novak story, the lowest-common-denominator media is playing catchup once again. And, as before, a few-too-many months after the fact.

From "The Rise and Fall of Chalabi: Bush's Mr. Wrong", Newsweek, May 31, 2004:

Much of Chalabi's dubious intelligence was funneled to the DIA through top Pentagon civilians. Under Secretary Feith himself signed a long and detailed summary of the intelligence linking Saddam to terrorists and WMD. The Feith memo, stamped secret, submitted to Congress and leaked to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine last summer, reads like a conspiracy theorist's greatest hits. Interviewed last week by NEWSWEEK, Feith was a little defensive about his relationship with Chalabi. "The press stories would have him as my brother. I met him a few times. He was very smart, very articulate," Feith said. Feith allowed he has always been drawn to the stories of exiles who come back to save their countries. But he rejected the idea that he had been Chalabi's tool or dupe.

From "Blind Into Baghdad", by James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly, January/February 2004:

On a Friday afternoon last November, I met Douglas Feith in his office at the Pentagon to discuss what has happened in Iraq. Feith's title is undersecretary of defense for policy, which places him, along with several other undersecretaries, just below Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in the Pentagon's hierarchy. Informally he is seen in Washington as "Wolfowitz's Wolfowitz"—that is, as a deputy who has a wide range of responsibilities but is clearly identified with one particular policy. That policy is bringing regime change to Iraq—a goal that both Wolfowitz and Feith strongly advocated through the 1990s.


"This is an important point," he said, "because of this issue of What did we believe? ... The common line is, nobody planned for security because Ahmed Chalabi told us that everything was going to be swell." Chalabi, the exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress, has often been blamed for making rosy predictions about the ease of governing postwar Iraq. "So we predicted that everything was going to be swell, and we didn't plan for things not being swell." Here Feith paused for a few seconds, raised his hands with both palms up, and put on a "Can you believe it?" expression. "I mean—one would really have to be a simpleton. And whatever people think of me, how can anybody think that Don Rumsfeld is that dumb? He's so evidently not that dumb, that how can people write things like that?" He sounded amazed rather than angry.

What's cooking for the major weeklies, the national dailies, and the cable news networks in the coming months? Judging by the fleet of alt-weekly trendspotters with whom we consulted, odds are in favor that we'll see a scandalous news cycle or two about President Bush's alliance with the Christian right.

Posted at 3:24 PM in a Grave fashion.
The tongue-in-cheek Times

From "C.I.A. Bid to Keep Some Detainees Off Abu Ghraib Roll Worries Officials", the New York Times, May 25, 2004:

The Central Intelligence Agency's practice of keeping some detainees in Abu Ghraib prison off the official rosters so concerned a top Army officer and a civilian official there that they reached a written agreement early this year to stop.

An undated copy of the memorandum was obtained by The New York Times. It was described as an agreement between the Army intelligence unit assigned to the prison and "external agencies," a euphemism for the C.I.A., to halt practices that bypassed both military rules and international standards.


The memorandum criticizing the practice of keeping prisoners off the roster was signed by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and a James Bond, who is identified as "SOS, Agent in Charge." Military and intelligence officials said that they did not know of a Mr. Bond who had been assigned to Abu Ghraib, and that it was possible that the name was an alias.

Gosh, you think so?

On a tangential note, it's slightly amusing to imagine the sense of identification various male government officials seem to have with Agent 007. Not only international-oriented figures, as with the CIA instance cited above, but domestically, as well, as this pose by the FBI's top cop suggests. Although what Johnny would do with all those mysterious temptresses, we have no idea...though he's got the gun thing down pat.


Posted at 11:54 AM in a Grave fashion.
Hanoi Madge

Madonna ReInvention Tour (left) and Jane Fonda Aerobics (right)

Madonna ReInvention Tour (left) and Jane Fonda Aerobics (right)

Both come complete with anti-war rhetoric and thigh-toning exercise!

Posted at 8:08 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 24, 2004
Food Fight

dietdrive.jpgYour Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, by the unfortunately named Cynthia Sass, hits retailers this week; the book is designed to help couples and families cope with the trauma of having a dieter in their midst. And so it has finally arrived - the meta-self-helper - a title intended to solve the problems that arise when someone else has chosen to solve their own problems. But Your Diet shouldn't come as much surprise - in our endlessly bootstrapping culture, it's more shocking that noone has thought of the meta-self-helper before.

Imagine the endless opportunities to piggyback on the endless procession of self-help literature: (I Don't Want to) Go to South Beach, or, Why Should I Care About the Color of Your Parachute?, or, for the kids, Why Doesn't Daddy Sweat the Small Stuff?. And let's not forget the chance for talk show topics like "Dr. Phil Is Ruining Our Marriage," "How Could You Possibly Watch LoveLine?" or, "If Men Are from Mars and Women from Venus, Then Where Do I Belong?"

Yes, Your Diet has ushered in a brave new era for dubiously-licensed and syntactically-challenged physicians everywhere. It's only a matter of time before societal ills, unhappy marriages, unsightly fatties and the concerns about those concerns, are a thing of the past.

Posted at 3:13 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Dubya: the endorsements keep coming in


(With thanks to Jeff)

Posted at 10:35 AM in a Grave fashion.
Nice cover, but this one is more tweaked


Left to right, "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" by David Sedaris, and "White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference" by Fred Pfeil.

Make of that what you will.

Posted at 10:26 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 21, 2004
Rumsfeld's Rules: Donald's Photoblog, Vol. 2

After having prepared Volume 1 not too long ago, it's rather upsetting that there's even a need for a second round, but, alas, more Abu Ghraib prison torture photos and video clips have been released, courtesy of the Washington Post.

And a handful of these, sadly (though containing less of the jubilant thumbs-up mentality which we've seen in other leaked photos), are even more dehumanizing than the images with which most of us have become familiar by now. One caption which the Post has sensitively given to one of the photos (which you'll see below) reads simply, "A baton-wielding U.S. soldier appears to be ordering a naked detainee covered in a brown substance to walk a straight line with his ankles handcuffed." A brown substance, indeed. Why, that must be mud from the banks of the River Euphrates, right?

Again, as before, all captions come from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's notorious leadership tract of January 29, 2001, "Rumsfeld's Rules: Advice on government, business and life," which appeared in the Wall Street Journal when Rumsfeld initially took office three years ago. Captions continue below...

"Don't accept the post or stay unless you have an understanding with the president that you're free to tell him what you think “with the bark off' and you have the courage to do it."

Continue reading...
Posted at 12:16 PM in a Grave fashion.
Lose 15lbs. by June 30th!


Total duration of President Bush's public address to the media on matters pertaining to the situation in Iraq, Palestinian deaths in Rafah, and domestic energy concerns, after his Cabinet Meeting on May 19, 2004 (from "President Discusses Iraq, Economy, Gas Prices in Cabinet Meeting", whitehouse.gov):

7 minutes, 12:04 - 12:11 PM EDT

From "Physicians report Bush in 'unbelievable' condition", USA TODAY, August 6, 2002:

Bush's good health is no accident. The president, a teetotaler since age 40 and a non-smoker — except for an occasional cigar — jogs 3 miles, mostly on a treadmill, at least four times a week. He works out with free weights for 45 minutes at least twice a week.

And to think some left-wingers consider this guy an out-of-touch fat cat.

Posted at 11:05 AM in a Grave fashion.
  May 20, 2004
Carlos D. is ripped!


Posted at 11:11 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Inappropriate (and very, very decontextualized) "gallows humor"

From "Pentagon Finds More Prison Abuse Photos", Associated Press, May 20, 2004:

Photos of two American soldiers posing with thumbs up near a body packed in ice at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison were shown on ABC-TV.

The photos showed Army Sgt. Charles A. Graner Jr. and Spc. Sabrina Harman, both of whom have already been charged in the prisoner abuse scandal.

The detainee, whose badly bruised corpse was in a body bag packed with ice, died in the prison's showers while being interrogated by the CIA or other civilian agents, ABC reported Wednesday. It said the Justice Department is investigating the death.


[Graner's lawyer, Guy Womack of Houston,] told ABC News the photo of his client represented inappropriate "gallows humor."

Ohhhh, I get it. Let me give it a try, too! (But below the fold, I mean, cos it is "inappropriate.")

Continue reading...
Posted at 10:53 AM in a Grave fashion.
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 20


Posted at 10:21 AM in a Grave, Unintentionally Hilarious fashion.
  May 19, 2004
Baby, it's just you and me against the world


From President Bush's address to AIPAC (President Speaks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 18, 2004:

The Israeli people have always had enemies at their borders and terrorists close at hand. Again and again, Israel has defended itself with skill and heroism. And as a result of the courage of the Israeli people, Israel has earned the respect of the American people. (Applause.)

The very next day, from "Explosion rips through crowd of Palestinian demonstrators, killing at least 10", San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, May 19, 2004:

An Israeli missile and four tank shells ripped through a large crowd of Palestinians demonstrating Wednesday against the Israeli invasion of a neighboring refugee camp, killing at least 10 Palestinians. Hospital officials said all the victims were children and teenagers.

Israel's military acknowledged that soldiers fired four tank shells, a missile and machine guns to stop 3,000 Palestinian demonstrators it said were heading toward a battle zone in the Gaza Strip.

"There were armed men in the midst of the demonstration," Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron, the army spokeswoman, told Israel TV's Channel One.

For what it's worth, there are some additional reports indicating that some of the demonstrators and protesters were throwing rocks, which I guess makes the whole "missiles" and "tank shells" response fair enough.

Posted at 12:14 PM in a Grave fashion.
But, realistically, Michael Moore would, no, could have never made this film


From a sampling of reviews for Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me":

Portland Oregonian, Karen Karbo:

In the tradition of the contemporary muckraking documentary -- of which director Michael Moore is the most recent accomplished practitioner -- "Super Size Me" entertains serious sociological and political questions.

Boston Globe, Ty Burr:

Morgan Spurlock's outrageously amusing "Super Size Me" is the redheaded stepchild of Michael Moore and "Jackass," a low-budget nonfiction stunt with a sharp point of view, a sheaf of alarming statistics, and the willingness to entertain us until we cry uncle. Like "Bowling for Columbine," it's less a documentary than a provocumentary, and, like Moore, Spurlock is a born showman.

Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro:

Spurlock is a lanky thirtysomething Manhattanite taking a Michael Moore-type approach to a subject previously surveyed in Eric Schlosser's non-fiction bestseller "Fast Food Nation."

USA Today, Claudia Puig:

Riveting and darkly comic Super Size Me is a whip-smart documentary in the tradition of Michael Moore's Roger & Me.

Dallas Observer, Robert Wilonsky:

The movie was a big hit at Sundance and beyond; it's turned Spurlock, an aspiring filmmaker and graphic designer, into Michael Moore, an agit-prop star proselytizing about the greed of a company that doesn't care about the content or impact of its unhealthy and potentially deadly product. Like Moore, he tries repeatedly to talk to someone at McDonald's corporate headquarters about the nutritional value of its food, and of the results a monthlong diet has taken on his body. But he's given the brush-off in a game of never-ending phone tag, and it feels like a page lifted from the Moore playbook of how to make a company look decidedly evil.

The Onion (A.V. Club), Nathan Rabin:

An irresistible combination of muckraking activism and populist entertainment, Super Size Me takes a page out of the Michael Moore playbook by using a David-vs.-Goliath-style personal quest as a starting point for an irreverent and impassioned critique of a pressing social issue.

Village Voice, Dennis Lim:

Indeed, Spurlock, whose affable-doofus persona is somewhere between Johnny Knoxville and Michael Moore, was responsible for MTV's cash-for-stunts series I Bet You Will, and is preparing an SSM-modeled show called 30 Days.

Washington Post, Michael O'Sullivan:

A gonzo documentary in the Michael Moore mold -- but without Moore's grating presence -- "Super Size Me" is an anti-junk-food screed that manages to entertain even as it informs and alarms.

New York Times, A.O. Scott:

Mr. Spurlock, originally from West Virginia, works in the good-natured, regular-guy populist style of documentary rabble-rousing pioneered by Michael Moore. He is a bit less confrontational than Mr. Moore (as well as thinner), but he similarly relishes letting polite, well-scrubbed corporate flacks entangle themselves in bureaucratic doublespeak.

Posted at 11:17 AM in a Shallow fashion.
No, write your own column

"Write your own Thomas Friedman column!"
Michael Kubin, The New York Observer, May 19, 2004

Michael Ward, McSweeney's, April 28, 2004

Posted at 10:10 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Pal Joey

joey1.jpgJoey, NBC's answer to the scheduling hole left by "Friends," was screened at the network upfronts on Monday, and low culture was there. We've provided a brief synopsis below, and we're certain you'll agree - "Joey" is a hit.

Cold Open
We find Joey moving into his new apartment complex - think "Melrose Place." While Joey should be directing the movers, he's too busy ogling his hot neighbors. By the time Joey gets into his new place, he discovers that the movers have placed everything upside down - even the TV!

Act One
Joey auditions for various agents but doesn't find any success. When his brainy cousin Michael (Paulo Costanzo) suggests Joey Tribbiani might sound "too Italian," Joey considers changing his name to Joey French.

Joey insists that his sister Gina (Drea de Matteo) not show off her large breasts. When Gina asks why it's OK for her friend (Ashley Scott) to wear the same top, Joey explains that when her friend wears the top "It's sexy," but when Gina wears the top, "it's just, ewwww."

Joey finally lands a big audition with the "big-time director Frank Draco," for a big action movie. But when Gina's son loses the script, all hell breaks loose.

Act Two
It's an hour before the big audition and Joey still can't find his script. And when he goes to enjoy the meatball sub that Gina made, he discovers his cousin Michael has eaten it. "I can't audition on an empty stomach," Joey laments, "that would be like doing… anything on an empty stomach."

Joey, still without his script, tries to ad-lib for "big-time director Frank Draco" - but the audition descends into a monologue about meatball subs. Needless to say, it doesn't go very well. As Joey leaves the audition, "big-time director Frank Draco" asks his assistant to get him a meatball sub.

Joey returns to his sister's apartment in poor spirits, and not even Gina's bosomly friends can cheer him up. When his nephew (who lost the script) returns home from school, Joey begins to violently beat him. Gina, infuriated, throws Joey out.

Act Three
Joey sits in his apartment, dismayed. Turning on the TV to cheer himself up, Joey discovers that it's still upside down. He watches the TV anyway, craning his head around to figure out what's on.

When Gina won't return Joey's calls, he decides to go out on the town to cheer himself up. At a flash Hollywood bar, Joey meets a woman he recognizes from "adult films." Joey is reduced to Jerry Lewis-like inanities, but she takes a liking to him anyway.

Joey returns to the adult actress' Canoga Park track housing, where she turns him onto crystal meth. "Whoa," he opines, "for the first time in my life, I don't want to eat!"

Joey quickly descends into a haze of meth addiction - his sister and cousin want nothing to do with him. It isn't long before Joey begins sucking dick for cash. "Just pretend it's a meatball sub," he tells himself, before descending on the crotch of a particularly unsavory man.

Credit Roll
Joey is hustling on Melrose with the transvestites and rent-boys when a limo pulls to the curb. The rear window rolls down to reveal - "big-time director Frank Draco!" Spotting Joey, Draco yells, "Hey meatball sub, you into the rough trade?" Joey has no idea what Draco's talking about - "Is that like trading baseball cards?" Draco laughs and waves him into the limo.

Posted at 9:09 AM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
  May 18, 2004
"Cannes-Do" Marketing


In preparation for the film's July release date, Paramount has begun to reveal its marketing materials for Jonathan Demme's upcoming "The Manchurian Candidate", which is, of course, an oh-so-necessary remake of the John Frankenheimer-directed Cold War original.

Their campaign includes the release of teaser ads for the film appearing at the currently-in-progress 2004 Cannes Film Festival, as shown here and re-created above.

Advertising for a summer blockbuster at the Cannes Film Festival, alongside what was once ostensibly a gathering for artsy films...something seemed very "off" about this particular marketing ploy, until we stumbled upon the solution, below.


Posted at 4:20 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Idol hands, frenetic fingers


This week's issue of Broadcasting & Cable breaks a scandal that most assuredly affects America's core values of fairness, equality, and democracy. (NB: if that lead sentence had been published in the entertainment section of some mid-level newspaper reaching a metropolitan audience of about 50,000 people, you might have seen a greater effort to unimaginatively give the impression that this "scandal" is in some way connected to recent events in the Abu Ghraib prison, but alas, you've instead been subjected to this awful, self-reflexive introduction. Sorry.)

Deborah Starr Seibel's "American Idol Outrage: Your Vote Doesn't Count" offers a fair share of anecdotal evidence that, contrary to the seemingly democratic voting process promoted by the producers of the beloved show, millions of fans' votes are disappearing into the ether. And speaking of vacuousness, the article, subtitled "An in-depth look at America's most popular show reveals a seriously flawed voting system," might have better read, "An in-depth look at America's most popular show reveals a seriously flawed America."

How else to explain some of the quotes and actions attributed to one Dee Law?

But as the show speeds toward its May 26 conclusion with three songbirds left, the 40-year-old Pennsylvania homemaker couldn't care less about the outcome. A Clay Aiken fan, she lost faith in the process after making a shocking discovery last year: No matter how often she tried, she couldn't place her vote.

Law says she tried to dial "five or six hundred times" on the final night of competition but hasn't tried since. "I'm not gonna get suckered into voting again," she says. "Why should we sit here and waste two hours of our time when our votes aren't going to be counted?"


Anyway, putting aside a range of misanthropic feelings for the moment, we at low culture would like to take this moment to actually assist (yes, help) those poor sad-sack losers who have chosen to devote two nights of their week to feverishly clutching their handset while shrieking inconsolably as Diana Degarmo erupts into so-called "song".

Below, we've coordinated (all in one place, and sorted by manufacturer or service provider) a series of links to speed-dialing instructions at various telephone manufacturers' websites, such that hardcore Jasmine Trias devotees (or fans of Fantasia Barrino, or Diana Degarmo, or Crystal MacAzure, or Jacinta DuPres, or who-the-fuck-ever) can learn to get more votes in during those precious two hours.

Cavalier Telephone
Meridian Digital
SBC Communications

Oh, fuck it. However immoral this may be:

Cool Ways to Kill Yourself

Posted at 1:01 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Hysterically blinded by the Sun

abe-rosenthal.jpgOn some indeterminate date between A.M. Rosenthal's leaving his position at the New York Times in 1999 and subsequently penning his column for the Daily News, Crazy Abe really lost it. I mean, totally, completely, lost it.

How else to explain the tormented editorial screed appearing (via Romenesko) in today's New York Sun? In reading Rosenthal's psychotic litany, we're privy to the Times' former executive editor's musings on the media's coverage of the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and, in particular, the manner in which the media failed to provide proper context for the abuses and the concomitant photos.

What context, you ask? Perhaps some Sy Hersh-esque examination of abuse-related directives having come from the top down? No? Well, maybe some broader examination of a climate of governmental deception, in the tradition of Rosenthal's own 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning Times coverage of Poland's misdeeds? No, you are soooo wrong, young whippersnapper!

That prisoner-abuse context that the media failed to provide over the past few weeks was Saddam Hussein and his since-toppled government's having used "poison gas on civilians they wanted to eliminate, like the Kurds." Thank you for the refresher course, Abe Rumsfeld.

Furthermore, Rosenthal continues, "We are uneasy even at the very idea of bringing up the mass Iraqi torture and murder. That is an insult to all those murdered masses of Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Jews, and Iranians. It is essential that we remember, ourselves, and the young members of the American armed forces know that they are fighting a government that is fascist in organization and in its slavering sadism."

Bear in mind, then, that the next time you see images of prisoners of war chained to bedframes with panties on their heads, the reason these sundry havoc-wreakers, as well as uncharged shopkeepers and wives of Ba'athist officials, are naked and/or have undergarments covering their visages is due to Saddam's having gassed 100,000 Kurds during the Reagan and Bush I administrations fifteen years earlier. And on a factual basis alone, please disregard Rosenthal's assertions that America's armed forces (his tense, not mine) "are fighting a government", contrary to the image of American forces having helped to famously topple Saddam's statue one year ago, and their current occupation of the Republican Palace in Baghdad.

And back to that "litany" idea again, Rosenthal repeats, "Since the latest torture story, many editors have failed to present background stories about the millions killed by Saddam." That's right, "millions", even though the heretofore-most-liberal estimates of deaths under Saddam's regime maxed out at 300,000 or therabouts. But, much like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's being drastically off the mark a few weeks ago in his own detailing of the number of American military casualties in Iraq, numbers are notoriously flexible when you're trying to provide support for an otherwise reprehensible idea.

Finally, there's this indignant gauntlet from Rosenthal: "In the years before World War II, officials of the New York Times shamed the paper by squeezing stories about millions of Europeans suffering and dying in the Nazi concentration camps, into meager and insufficient space. Years later, the paper tried to find out exactly who made those decisions. It could not, but it published an apology from its heart." Except, as far as "context" is concerned, those were current events at the time.

Dear, sweet, Abe: perhaps newspaper editors can feel comfortable about revisiting the events of the late 1980s on their front pages as they pair those particular Kurdish history lessons with coverage of that era's U.S. government support for both Afghanistan's various insurgencies and Saddam Hussein himself in his war with Iranian Shiite fundamentalists.

See, that's the problem with "context" and "history": unlike President Bush's war of Good-vs.-Evil, there are no absolutes.

Posted at 11:50 AM in a Grave fashion.
  May 17, 2004
Unfortunate Irony Alert

From Reuters, "Shrek Finds More Beauty in Being Ugly in 'Shrek 2'":

"Shrek 2" zeros in on a cultural obsession with image, and there's no better place to do that than in Hollywood.

From The Sun, "Diaz Sends for Zit Squad":

Beauty Cameron Diaz sent an SOS after bursting out in zits before the Cannes premiere of Shrek 2.

Posted at 5:01 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Man, what a year


(Click here to see Time's actual cover for this week's issue.)

Posted at 1:17 PM in a Grave, Satirical fashion.
Re-Doubled Trouble

In our typically paranoid and narcissistic state, we couldn't help but notice that a May 14 "Entertainment Weekly" piece detailing New York Minute's various “appropriations' bore a striking resemblance to our own New York Minute piece from a month earlier. Of course our take on the Olsens' film did lack that trademark EW snark, but still, Amy Feitelberg's piece echoes low culture's a bit too close for comfort.

Decide for yourself. From EW:

Why ''New York Minute'' audiences are doing a double take - The Olsen girls' movie pays homage to movies past - a lot.
by Amy Feitelberg

Is this deja vu, or do the Olsen twins have us seeing double? Their new New York Minute is littered with scenes from cinema past. ''I stuffed it full of every fun reference I could imagine,'' says director Dennie Gordon. ''Because when parents take their kids to see a movie, they still want to have as much of a giggle as the kids do.'' Let the laugh riot begin.

There's Something About Mary
In Minute, there's something about a microchip-swallowing mutt going out a window.

The First Wives Club
Middle-aged women plunging down the side of a building? How 'bout minors in towels!

The Matrix
One of the twins (who knows which?) kicks butt Matrix-style. How does she know how to fight in slo-mo?

Legally Blonde
Beauty salons just make you wanna dance. The girls do their own take on the ''bend-and-snap.''

One of the twins (don't ask us which) calms the other with a Cher-like slap and a ''Snap out of it!''

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
A habitual hooky player on the lam? Can anyone say ''Bueller?'' ''Bueller?'' ''Bueller?''

Now read our original piece - it describes the film's allusions to Ferris Bueller, Moonstruck, The First Wives Club and There's Something About Mary. We missed The Matrix (it wasn't in the trailer) and described the Legally Blonde scene as a Beauty Shop ripoff.

Perhaps Ms. Feitelberg was paying homage to our homage to New York Minute's homages. Or maybe she's just a lousy plagiarist (who should really choose to copy better material).

Posted at 9:00 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 13, 2004
Introducing: the low culture Subtext Finder

We live in a world full of sneaky journalists and duplicitous editors who hide the subtexts just below the, um... well, the text. How is a reader supposed to understand what an article is actually about if everything is all coded and coy?

That's where The low culture Subtext Finder comes in! Using our patented formula, we unearth a given article's subtext and bring it to you, the reader. Today's sample: A Mobile Link for 90 Mutual Friends from The New York Times' Circuits section. Using our formula, this article would be renamed Cool New Tool to Get You Laid. Now, read the new article with the subtext in the text (and in bold):

Gone are the nights when Brian Battjer left barhopping in New York to chance.

He took control of his social fate when he signed up for Dodgeball.com, a free social-networking service that is becoming popular with young singles. The site uses cellphone text-messaging to wirelessly connect thousands of friends, and friends of friends, to get laid.

Just hours after he subscribed, Mr. Battjer, 27, received his first Dodgeball message: Alyssa, a friend of his friend Greg, it read, was at Luna Lounge, only two blocks away. Mr. Battjer had never met Alyssa, but inspired by the thumbnail-size picture sent with the message, he decided to find her and get laid.


"Dodgeball has changed the social fabric of everything," he said. "The technology augments [getting laid] in a way that has never been done before."


Based on the mutual-friends model popularized by Web sites like Friendster, Dodgeball helps users meet up with their friends or new acquaintances - but while they're out on the town instead of sitting in front of their computers, where it's harder to get laid.


"It's like a shortcut," said Alexander Clemens, 36, a political consultant and Dodgeball user in San Francisco. "All it takes is one quick note to tell my friends where the party's at so we can all get laid."

Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor of communications at N.Y.U., predicts that with a little time and fine tuning, software that "caters to users' geography rather than their affinities" will [help you get laid] with the same force Friendster did two years ago.

"It has already been successful [getting people laid]," Mr. Shirky said. "But eventually, Dennis and Alex are going to figure out uses and applications they hadn't even thought of before."

Like, um, totally getting your ass laid!

Related: This article is like a Gothamist Interview Reunion: Brian Battjer, Dennis Crowley, Clay Shirky. Someone needs to cut Andrew Krucoff a check.

Posted at 12:18 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 12, 2004
Superstar Inquisitor: Tony Snow

tonysnow_hearts.gifFrom "Telephonic Interview of the Vice President by Tony Snow, Fox News," a.k.a, "Speed Dating with Tony Snow and Dick Cheney," The Vice President's Office, 11:08 A.M. EDT:

SNOW: Thirty seconds. Why is Ted Kennedy so mad at you?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Me personally?

SNOW: Yes.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't know he was.

SNOW: Okay. Vice President Dick Cheney, I want to thank you for joining -- and by the way, is "Red River" really your favorite movie?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) Well, it's right up there at the top of my short list.

Click here for another stellar interview with the Vice President.

Posted at 3:49 PM in a Grave fashion.
We're so sorry we doubted you, Mr. President

Father, and son: Nick Berg and his family

While the media reacts with outrage over the release of videotaped footage of the beheading of 26-year-old civilian contractor Nick Berg in Iraq this week, the bigger story seems to have fallen through the cracks.

Namely, we've finally found that elusive connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda that the American public heard so much about from the President and his advisors for the past two years.

"An Islamist Web site posted a videotape Tuesday showing the decapitation of an American in Iraq, in what the killers called revenge for the American mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

The Web site said the man who carried out the beheading was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant linked to al-Qaeda who the Americans believe was behind some of the deadliest terrorist attacks here."

Admittedly, America-hating lefties may point out that this new connection technically falls under the rubric of a "post-Saddam Iraq", and, furthermore, the occupying American army more or less created the terrorist-supporting circumstances which lead to this connection, but regardless: Well done, guys!

In tribute to this development, and to our baseball-loving commander-in-chief, I'm off to go watch a film about the American pastime, Field of Dreams. You know the movie..."If you build it, they will come."

(NOTE: This entry has been 'corrected' from its originally-posted form. See comments for more info.)

Posted at 12:56 PM in a Grave fashion.
Candy Flipping

Either Dany Levy's minions are easily fascinated or they should think about changing their meds. Daily Candy, Levy's digest of overpriced baubles and prime evidence of why Americans deserve to be hated, has charted endless novelty items over its three years of existence, but few of them seem deserving of the intense interest with which Candy invests them. Indeed, available evidence would suggest that Candy's writers suffer from OCD with a side-order of ADD. A sampling of their various “obsessions':

Failed Half-Hour The Oblongs
Suffice it to say, we're obsessed.
The Oblongs

Golly, you'd think we were obsessed.
Oh, Fudge!

Tee Shirts
We know, we're obsessed.
Sweet Tees

Continue reading...
Posted at 9:03 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 11, 2004
Oral Report

teenager.jpgThe Guardian reports that encouraging teenagers to engage in oral sex could prove the most effective means of curbing teen pregnancy. Not only does low culture applaud such bold initiatives, but we would like to provide a few of our own. Teenagers need never be "troubled" again.

First the problem, then the solution:

Gang Violence - Encourage your teen to become a sulky loner
Bulimia - Encourage your teen to develop other insecurities. Acne, lack of popularity, and athletic inability are all excellent alternatives.
Secret Cutting - While secret cutting affects untold numbers of teens, public cutting never hurt anyone. Even successful, well-adjusted rock stars like Iggy Pop, Britney Spears and Richey Manic are doing it.
Huffing Glue - Move out of the trailer park.
Underage Drinking - Although alcohol is an omnipresent danger for teens, Ecstasy users typically drink water instead of liquor. Try to give your teen a roll before he goes out for the night.
Oral Sex - If your teen is engaging in oral sex to avoid pregnancy, encourage him or her to experiment with anal sex.
Anal Sex - Do you suspect that your teen is having anal sex to avoid having oral sex to avoid getting pregnant? Try turning your teen onto pregnancy-safe alternatives such as foot fetishism, bdsm or homosexuality.
Social Difficulties - Does your teen have trouble fitting in at school? Teach him or her to give a really good hummer. Everyone loves a slut.

Posted at 8:21 AM in a Shallow fashion.
As Lots of Time Goes By

From the Associated Press, May 8, 2004:

In homage to the movie Casablanca, a former U.S. diplomat has opened a Rick's Cafe in this bustling port city…"Because there has never been a Rick's Cafe here, I could be reasonably assured that it would succeed," she said. "It was already an institution, and it never even existed. It's not often you get a chance to turn myth into reality."

Is it possible that no one thought to open a Rick's Cafˇ in Casablanca before? Now if only we could do something with that Lawrence of Arabia movie.

Posted at 12:15 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 10, 2004
"See, I never said Iraqis would govern themselves after June 30th..."

John Negroponte, newly-appointed President of Iraq, erm, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

From today's statement by President Bush at the Pentagon:

"In the next few weeks, important decisions will be made on the make up of the interim government. As of June 30th, Iraq's interim government will assume duties now performed by the coalition, such as providing water and electricity and health care and education."

Maybe he meant to add "...and governing Iraq" at the tail end there, and carelessly left it out?

No, wait, that would contradict Article 26 of the Iraqi Constitution recently implemented by the occupying Coalition:

"(A) Except as otherwise provided in this Law, the laws in force in Iraq on 30 June 2004 shall remain in effect unless and until rescinded or amended by the Iraqi Transitional Government in accordance with this Law.

(C) The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority pursuant to its authority under international law shall remain in force until rescinded or amended by legislation duly enacted and having the force of law.

Posted at 3:49 PM in a Grave fashion.
  May 7, 2004
Rumsfeld's Rules: Donald's Photoblog

All captions come from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's notorious leadership tract of January 29, 2001, "Rumsfeld's Rules: Advice on government, business and life," which appeared in the Wall Street Journal when Rumsfeld initially took office three years ago.

As you're surely well aware by now, some of the Iraqi prison torture images from Abu Ghraib are rather, well, foul, so the captioning continues below...

"Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life."

Continue reading...
Posted at 12:50 PM in a Grave fashion.
OK, we admit it, again: Republicans are right

Fidelacusa.jpgIn preparation for our enthusiastically volunteering at this fall's Republican National Convention in New York City, we've begun heartily agreeing with a number of Republican opinions of late, including obsessive madman Dick Cheney yesterday, and, today, Representative Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has decried the Bush administration's latest efforts to clamp down on Cuba's government as the continuation of an historically ineffective methodology of dealing with our petite Communist neighbor to the south, and little more than primitive election-year antics targeted to Florida's Cuban voters. Specifically, Flake is addressing administration plans to further impede the ability for Americans to visit the island nation, while increasing funding for flying U.S. military C-130 aircraft over Castro's homeland while broadcasting pro-American and pro-democractic messages.

From the May 7, 2004 Washington Post:

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is a leading proponent of congressional efforts to lift ever-tighter restrictions on travel to Cuba, a proposal that won majorities in the House and Senate last year. He said trying to use a C-130 to defeat Cuban jamming of U.S. government broadcasts is laudable but insufficient.

"If we're really serious about letting Cubans hear a voice other than Castro's, why not let Americans travel there?" Flake asked in a written statement. "After all, Castro can't scramble a firsthand conversation."

Posted at 12:13 PM in a Grave fashion.
With Friends like these...


low culture exclusive: must credit low culture (or not):

On Thursday, May 6, 2004, while fifty million Americans tuned in to see the end of Friends on NBC, what were Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld doing? Eating hotdogs and watching the Mets battle Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants from behind the visitors' dugout at Shea Stadium.

Finally, an explanation for that whole sitcom-star subplot of Larry David's "Sour Grapes".

Posted at 11:25 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 6, 2004
OK, we admit it: Cheney is right


From "Remarks by the Vice President to the 16th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner", Hilton Washington, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2004, 7:12 P.M. EDT:

"And I'm told Joe Allbaugh is in the audience tonight. Joe shouldn't be hard to spot. (Laughter.) He -- that's Joe."

Earlier, as part of this rare moment of kinship with Dick Cheney, we, too, had already ragged on this Allbaugh guy, but, again, he deserves it.

Posted at 11:06 AM in a Grave fashion.
We rewrite, you decide, Vol. 3


From "Remarks by the Vice President to the 16th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner", Hilton Washington, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2004, 7:12 P.M. EDT:

"Tonight, we honor firefighters and emergency personnel in communities across America, who are the first line of defense against all hazards...As you meet your responsibilities, the federal government must do its part in providing the resources that our firefighters need. The past year brought many successes on Capitol Hill, thanks to the leadership of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. These successes include robust funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which received nearly $750 million this fiscal year for direct grants to local fire departments and to support to fire safety programs. (Applause.) This funding is on top of the more than $8 billion that the Department of Homeland Security has allocated or awarded to state and local governments under a variety of domestic preparedness grant programs, many that directly bolster the capabilities of first responders including firefighters. In addition, Congress reauthorized the United States Fire Administration, passed the Firefighting Research and Coordination Act, to develop new safety standards, and passed the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act. And all of these measures were proudly signed into law by President George W. Bush. (Applause.)"

Earlier...from "Union delegates denounce government hypocrisy over September 11", 21 August 2002:

Delegates to the convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), representing more than 240,000 professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel in the US and Canada, voted August 14 for the union to boycott an upcoming appearance by President George W. Bush at a memorial honoring firefighters killed in the September 11 attacks. The president has been invited to address the October 6 annual ceremony of the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation in Washington DC, which will pay tribute to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as more than 100 additional firefighters killed responding to other emergencies.


The unanimous vote by the 2,000 union officials at the IAFF's annual convention in Las Vegas came the day after Bush announced his rejection of $5.1 billion of supplemental spending that included some $340 million for fire department funding. Congress had voted for $90 million for long-term monitoring of the health of rescue and recovery personnel at the World Trade Center site, where workers were exposed to intense toxic fumes and dust. It also voted for $100 million to improve emergency communications systems, whose failures were blamed for as many as 200 of the 343 deaths of firefighters on September 11, and $150 million for equipment and training for 18,000 fire departments nationwide.

And more recently...from "No permit for protest at GOP convention", MSNBC.com, April  29, 2004:

Separately, a coalition of unions representing police officers and firefighters has requested permits to demonstrate during the four-day convention, beginning Aug. 30. Union members claim they are underpaid compared to their counterparts in other cities and are underfunded for fighting terrorism — complaints they plan to voice when Republican come to town.
Posted at 10:57 AM in a Grave fashion.
So Cute!


Posted at 10:23 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 5, 2004
Please Kill Me Now: Campaign Quips 2004 (Ohio edition)


Finally, a solution to that most basic of Rove-ian electoral issues: how to make a connection with a completely vapid voting populace? Pick an asinine point and make it. Then, do it again. And again. And again. (God, those poor Secret Service agents. At least we now know those dark sunglasses function largely to shield the public from frequent bouts of eye-rolling.)

Ten points to whomever can correctly identify the recurring theme of the quotes sampled below:

Remarks by the President at Pancake Breakfast, Lucas County, Ohio Recreation Center, Maumee, Ohio, 9:30 A.M. EDT:

I'm sorry Laura is not here. Yes, I know. She was on the bus trip yesterday, but had to go back to Washington because, like me, she is -- she works for the country. She's got something to do. She's got a scheduling conflict. (Laughter.) But I tell you, she sends her love and her best. She is a fabulous First Lady. One of the main reasons -- (applause) -- one of the main reasons to put me back in there -- (laughter) -- is so that Laura has four more years as the First Lady. (Applause.)

Remarks by the President at "ask President Bush" Event, Hara Complex, Dayton, Ohio, 12:32 P.M. EDT:

The good news is, Laura W. Bush wants to serve for four more years, as well. (Applause.) I regret she's not here. I talked to her on the plane earlier this morning. She said to send her very best. She is a -- I'm a lucky guy. She's a great wife, a wonderful mother, and a fabulous First Lady of the United States. (Applause.)

Remarks by the President at the Golden Lamb Inn, Lebanon, Ohio, 2:43 P.M. EDT:

I regret that Laura is not here today. I know it. You drew the short straw. (Laughter.) You know, I really got lucky when she said, "yes." She is a fabulous wife, a great mother, and she's doing a wonderful job as the First Lady of this country. (Applause.) I think she deserves four more years. (Applause.)

Remarks by the President at Ohio Rally, Cincinnati Gardens Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio, 6:48 P.M. EDT:

I wish Laura were here to see this crowd. (Applause.) Listen, a good reason to put me back in there is so she will have four more years as the First Lady. (Applause.) She's a great First Lady. She's a fantastic wife and a great mom and a wonderful First Lady. I'm really proud of her. She sends her best. She sends all her best. She sends her best to all her friends here in Cincinnati.


Remarks by the President at Michigan Rally, Jerome-Duncan Theatre at Freedom Hall, Sterling Heights, Michigan, 8:44 P.M. EDT:

We've had a fabulous day today. It's been somewhat diminished by the fact that Laura had to go home early. No, I know, you drew the short straw. (Laughter.) There's a lot of reasons why I think I need to be reelected. But for certain, one of the most important reasons is to make sure that Laura is the First Lady for four more years. (Audience interruption, inaudible.)

Why is it that after seeing all the "(Laughter)" and "(Applause)" inclusions, I suspect "(Audience interruption, inaudible)" is code for "Get off the stage, you fucking hack?"

Posted at 3:45 PM in a Grave fashion.
Number 2 at the Box Office? "Man on Fire"


From "The Torture Photos," the New York Times, May 5, 2004:

By now, the images of uniformed American men and women gleefully brutalizing prisoners in exactly the manner most horrific to Muslims has been seared into the minds of television viewers around the world.

Posted at 2:50 PM in a Grave fashion.
What does Jack Black's gut have to say for itself?

envy_poster.jpgThough moviegoers were most likely spending last weekend at the multiplex watching writer Tina Fey's monstrously mediocre "Mean Girls", odds are at least a small handful of devoted Ben Stiller and Jack Black loyalists turned out to see director Barry Levinson's latest debacle, "Envy", as $6 million dollars were somehow channeled to the film's producers by way of the box office.

An even smaller handful of internet enthusiasts subsequently posted reviews of the film on the IMDB, including this gem, which was apparently written by Ben Stiller's conscience:

"This is the worst movie I have seen in several years. Very dumb story, dumb humor, painful acting, hard to watch. This is the type of movie that should be destroyed instead of inflicting it upon audiences. Ben Stiller has proved himself to choose very bad movies and I thought perhaps Jack Black would have made it a good movie but he did not. I am making it a policy that I will boycott movies that have Ben Stiller in it. If Ben Stiller is in the movie it is likely a bad movie and this is probably the worst movie he has been in. Movie stars do a diservice to the audience by working on junk like this and perhaps if they don't care about their reputation and put out junk like this the audience should boycott movies they are in. There is absolutely no excuse for a piece of junk like this movie. They should pay me for waisting my time on this."
Posted at 2:44 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Chan On Fire

coochan.jpgHas Steve Coogan's young and promising film career already jumped the shark? After turning in a near-perfect performance in the near-perfect 24 Hour Party People, what is Coogan's next move? Appearing opposite Jackie Chan, of course, in Disney's summer release Around the World in 80 Days.

Coogan will star as the eccentric Phileas Fogg and Chan will play his French manservant Passepartout (at least if the film remains true to Verne). In other words, it's the same surefire comic dyad that has served us so well in Rush Hours 1, 2, and yes, 3; Shanghai Noon and Knights; The Medallion; and The Tuxedo.

Before managing to effectively raze Clare Forlani's and Jennifer Love Hewitt's careers into the ground, Jackie Chan transformed the occasionally funny (and occasionally irritating) Chris Tucker into an unfathomably execrable onscreen presence. But not content to stop there, Chan went on to reveal that the potentially annoying Owen Wilson is, in fact, the intolerable wet blanket we suspected all along.

And so we beg you Mr. Chan, don't take Steve Coogan down with you. What about David Cross or Hank Azaria? You can have them, they're all yours - just not Coogan.

Posted at 9:03 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Twenty Years Ago in low culture

"Although Harrison Ford is ostensibly the film's star, there is little doubt that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom belongs to Ke Huy Quan, aka Short Round. Only thirteen years old, Quan brings a complexity and passion to the role that is sure to stand him well in future years. Ladies and gentleman, meet the next Marlon Brando…"
Short Round, Big Future, May 5, 1984

Posted at 8:56 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  May 4, 2004
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 19


Posted at 5:45 PM in a Grave, Unintentionally Hilarious fashion.
  May 3, 2004
Too Rich or Too Thin?

riis.jpgWhere have all the destitute skinny people gone? There was a time, not long ago, when poverty at least ensured a reasonable Body Mass Index, but as today's USA Today reports, that golden era of weight loss is over.

In an interview with self-proclaimed “grocery guru' Phil Lempert, USA Today breaks down just how expensive all those fad weight loss trends can be.

The Atkins diet's ongoing weight-loss phase (45 grams of carbs a day) averaged $14.27 a day, ranging from $11.04 to $15.97.

South Beach diet's Phase 2 averaged $12.78 a day, ranging from $11.16 to $14.90.

The Thrifty Food Plan from the USDA averaged $6.22 a day, ranging from $6 to $6.61. (The government's calculation is slightly lower.)

The answer is clear - until the government begins to subsidize Atkins and South Beach dieters, we may never see another factory waif again.

Posted at 3:52 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Where Are My Feet?

Alternately: U Bulbous Mass, Gorge Away, Gigantic.

Posted at 2:44 AM in a Shallow 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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