Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog for a Message from Our Benefactor: Kobayashi, Dragon-Born Time-Traveling Ninja Dog from the Future

Yeah, your usual loser blogger has decided to spend his free time running down polygonal pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto IV -- you know how he loves to stay with the current trends -- so I'm controlling the transmission. And if you're curious as to how I'm typing with paws, then I'll explain: fuck you, that's how. Any other questions?

Anyway. It's come to my attention that sweatshop sneaker giant Nike has renewed their endorsement deal with third-string quarterback/dog murderer Michael Vick.

Yeah, fuck you, too, Nike.

And I know what you're gonna say before you say it, so don't bother telling me about how he's paid his debt to society. So has Squeaky Fromme, no one's asking her to sell Whoppers. What's next, you gonna let O.J. pitch rental cars again?

See people, there's difference between paying your debt to the law and paying your debt to society. Just because you're out of prison doesn't mean you're done. You get convicted of a felony, you can't vote. You can't own guns. And you know what? You shouldn't be able to sell sneakers for millions of dollars.

Because it ain't like he's trading on his football celebrity for these endorsements. In the last three years, you know how many games he's played? One. He's thrown only two more passes than I have this season, okay? He's not famous for being a football player anymore. He's famous for being a dog murderer. A dog torturer. So let's give him money to sell shoes again! Gotta capture that dog killer demo, I guess, right?

This wouldn't be so bad -- I mean, it'd still be bad, but not so ridiculous -- if Nike hadn't acted so damn swiftly and decisively when all this went down three years ago. They severed his contract at the time, you remember, because animal cruelty was "inhumane, abhorrent and unacceptable." He had a signature shoe, the Vick Dogstomper 3000 or something, they pulled it off the shelves. But now -- I guess it's not so bad, is it?

Don't get me wrong: I don't think Nike is in favor of torturing dogs. (Just the kids in their sweatshops.) I think that Nike only cares about their money. They didn't ditch Vick because of all that bullshit about animal cruelty, they did it because everyone hated him. And now that the reaction to his return hasn't been as "toxic" as expected, he's welcomed back. Because nothing matters but the fucking money.

Cruelty is cruelty. It doesn't matter if he did it to a bunch of dogs or a bunch of people. He's a horrible, horrible person. And Nike? I guess you're horrible, too.

So from now on, I won't be wearing your shoes.

Not that I wore them before. I'm a dog. I don't wear any shoes.

But I could wear them if I wanted to, is my point.

And I won't be.

(Kobi's opinions are his, obviously, and don't necessarily represent those of this blog's author. Though in this case, they pretty much do.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spot the Difference!

Yes, it's time to play Spot the Difference, with Glenn Beck!

Watch this clip from early in his career, and compare it to any episode of his current program, Keep Fucking That Chicken! Or, ya know, whatever it's called. And then: Spot the Difference!

Did you see it? It's subtle!

The difference? Glenn Beck's current show doesn't play any music. Also, Bob from Office Space is no longer his co-host.

Other than that: looks exactly the same.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Atlas Smugged

(Or: A Man Chooses, a Slave Obeys, and a Hack Weeps for the Cameras, Hears Communist Propaganda in His Rice Krispies and Calls the President a Racist)

(Or: Would You Kindly Throw Yourself Down an Elevator Shaft?)

Yes, that's Glenn Beck on the cover of Time. Glenn Fucking Beck.

A few years ago, I referred to Beck in passing as the Most Obnoxious Man on Television. It was true then -- the impenetrable smugness, the pathetic attention-grabbing nature of his unwatchable "news" program. And his former masters at CNN Headline News -- not even real CNN, either, where even Lou Dobbs pulls down a paycheck -- at least seemed to recognize what they had in Beck: a delirious, inconsequential showman whose chortling nonsense was a good chaser for the comedy stylings of Nancy Grace.

But after he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb, he found a new home where he always should have been to begin with: Fox News, where the seeds of his insanity could be watered and nurtured until it could fully grow and bloom.

And oh, how it bloomed.

So, he's a nut. And hey, that's fine, there's room for nuts on television. Hell, didn't I mention Nancy Grace a few sentences ago? But the election of Barack Obama unleashed something very special in Beck. Something dangerous.

It turns out that Beck has something of a messiah complex. He started calling America to action, giving them rules for living better lives, insisting that his show and his show alone had the courage to "open the eyes" of America, rewrote Thomas Paine, and anointed himself the intellectual heir of Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand. He organized the 9/12 Project, an online effort which "galvanized" "millions" of "Americans" to his cause, drawn in as they were by his...uh...well, I'm not sure what exactly drew them in. Other than their fears of being taken over by godless Muslim Communists, a fear that Beck not only preyed upon but created out of thin fucking air. (Another commentator might suggest that all Beck did was put a marginally respectable face on the 9/12'ers and Teabaggers flagrant and deep-seeded racism, allowing them to vent their hateful rhetoric without having to expose to the world what rotten, awful apples they truly are. A commentator like President Jimmy Carter, for example. But not me.)

And now, this lunatic rampage has not resulted in Glenn Beck's dismissal from cable news, not resulted in his committal to a mental health facility, not resulted in him returning to where his views would be given the weight and attention they deserve (that is, scrawling them on sandwich boards and wandering down the streets, scaring small children) -- no, he's on the cover on Time goddamn magazine.

Next time anyone -- especially Glenn Beck -- argues about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I want someone to hold up that magazine cover. "Look," you'll say. "The liberal, socialist mainstream media gave credence and credibility to your nonsensical bullshit. They put you on the cover of Time magazine, and wrote the accompanying article not as a scathing attack on you, but a fluff piece about your inexplicable success. Now, shut up and go back to transcribing your fever dreams for use on tonight's show. Look, I think that cloud looks like Karl Marx!"

Hey, there's never been a shortage of wackjobs shouting about evil shadow conspiracies. But we're not putting the 9/11 Truthers on magazine covers, are we? Spike Lee went on television and claimed the government blew up the levees in New Orleans, no one interviewed him for Time. I don't recall anyone holding million-man-marches in support of Kanye West when he accused George W. Bush of being a racist. But there's Beck, with his appropriately smug cover photo.

I don't like Glenn Beck very much. Have you noticed?

But there's something much deeper than that at work here. Beck's insanity is only a distraction, the carnival sideshow bearded lady pulling attention away from the rigged games and pickpocketers. See, because here's the world Beck and his cronies on the right want:

Welcome to Rapture. No government. No regulation. Just free enterprise, as free as possible.

(A mildly spoilerish discussion of the two-year-old game Bioshock follows. Consider yourself warned.)

Bioshock takes its premise from the Ayn Rand screed Atlas Shrugged, which is less a novel and more a treatise on Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. It boils down to this: government exists only to take from the rich (and thus productive) members of society and gift to the poor (and thus unproductive) members of society. The richer you are, the more valuable you must be to the world, and if you don't have any money it must be cause you don't have any value. Rand pondered how the world would suffer if she were to stop writing books, and thus came the plot of Atlas -- the rich get tired of their innovations being "abused" by society, tired of "holding up the world," so they leave it, forming their own secret city in the middle of nowhere.

This is also the backstory of Bioshock, which replaces Atlas's John Galt with Andrew Ryan, a business magnate who gets tired of paying taxes and decides to build a secret society in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He gathers together brilliant scientists and artists and businessmen down there in Rapture, and they live the Utopian life you'd expect without that awful government intervention.

Of course, everything goes to hell, because it turns out that even in a society of "elites," somebody still has to mop the floors and clean the toilets, and nobody thinks it should be them. And Ryan's government-free Utopia collapses into insanity and violence. (Sure, there's a sci-fi element to the whole mess -- tiny eels that give people supernatural powers -- but that doesn't alter the basic metaphor I've got working here. And Rand used sci-fi in Atlas, too.)

Ryan built Rapture on the backs of the very poor he despised -- the "parasites" he longed so desperately to get away from. And Beck, along with most of the conservative right, are doing the exact same thing: they've somehow convinced legions of the poor that it's morally wrong to tax the rich. The right has convinced their supporters that the government is nothing more that a parasitic monster, leeching the hard work from the worthy and giving it to the unworthy and unvaluable. Those 9/12 fools, they think the government is going to take everything they have and give to illegal immigrants or something, cackling their moustaches and singing Russian drinking songs all the while.

This would be funny, if the fooled had something to take.

In typical post-Rove fashion, the Republicans have taken the very people health care reform should be helping and made them its staunchest opponents. They've taken the very people the free enterprise system has hurt the most and brainwashed them into thinking the President is a Communist. And the Democrats in Congress -- because they're Democrats in Congress -- have pretty much just let it happen.

I started this by talking about Glenn Beck, and I should finish it that way. Beck's compared often -- mostly by Beck himself -- to Howard Beale, the doomed news anchor from Network. But Beck can't seem to remember what finally did Beale in: pissing off his corporate bosses. Oh, sure, rile up the masses, get people to scream at their televisions, but step on the congolomerate's toes, and it's game over. But Beale had the courage -- or insanity -- to do it. Beck, on the other hand, is nothing more than a company man, a shill for the suits upstairs. Beale didn't want to tell you write your congressman because he wouldn't know what you should write; Beck knows exactly what you should tell the government, though he'd prefer if you'd just shout epithets and carry dumb signs, and don't forget to buy his book, on sale now!

Beale was a mad prophet; Beck is just a schmuck.

And I guess Beck's forgotten how Network ends, as well.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Triple word score, you little bastards

[First: slight adjustment to the style. Everything working okay? Everything looking good? If not, let me know.]

So, I like Scrabble. I can't imagine that's a real shock to anyone, considering my status as an obsessive lover of words. What's shocking, actually, is how bad I am at it -- I can spell great words, sure, but true Scrabble savants have figured out all the little tricks, stacking two- and three-letter words inside and around each other so they end up getting forty points or some shit every time they drop two tiles down.

Anyway. I'm playing Scrabble on XBox Live the other day -- 'cause I actually bought the XBox Live Arcade version of Scrabble, 'cause I'm a dork, as we've discussed previously, at great length -- and losing quite badly, as per usual. I'm holding my own, keeping a close second, but I know that, any moment, my opponent will spell some obscure word like xi or something and I'll be left in the dust. (I guess I should point out, in the interest of completeness, that there was a third player in this game. But he/she/it played so poorly that their score was a non-issue and never presented a threat.)

Now, I've got the volume turned down, because it's Sunday morning and Christy and the puppy are sleeping, and this version of Scrabble is hosted by Mr. Potato Head (don't ask) who likes to do backflips and make Pillsbury Doughboy noises every time you spell a word. But I see the little speaker next to my opponent's avatar keeps lighting up, indicating that he's talking over XBox Live's chat feature. No one else is talking to him, but that doesn't stop him -- he's downright chatty.

So after about twenty minutes of this, my curiosity gets the best of me. I (quietly) dig through my nightstand and find my XBox headset. After plugging it in and fiddling with the volume controls, I finally hear what Mr. Scrabble is saying:

He's yelling at his kids. The whole time.

That's it. He's not talking to us, he's not talking about the game. He's got his headset plugged in, the mic turned on, and he's shouting at his children. "Behave!" he yells. "I mean it, you kids stop!" And he sounds like some drunken bad-dad cliché -- I can practically see him in my mind, cigarette tucked between his fingers, ratty old flannel shirt, empty beer cans strewn around his feet attracting ants on the green-brown shag carpet. Hasn't showered in two days, hasn't changed clothes since the day before that, and has at least two firearms in the house, plus one more in the truck.

And then I think -- This guy is playing Scrabble? On XBox Live? And beating me?

I would like to say I recovered to glory, but it was not to be. My opponent continued to feud with his children, eventually threatening to stop the game if they didn't shut up. And he made good on his threat, giving us a brief apology before leaving the game, thus ending it. (I consider this a win by default. I don't care if you agree with that or not, I'm taking it.)

I hope to spend a part of every weekend losing Scrabble games to people who probably haven't seen a dictionary since Chumbawumba had a hit. Next up: meth addicts!