Monthly Archives: September 2008

A couple months ago, I wrote something topical.

It was about the election. Then I forgot about it for awhile. Then I remembered. Then I considered adding some stuff about Palin and pitbulls and all that Rich Comedic Material. Then I didn’t. Here it is!

Grandad Remembers the 2008 Presidential Election

Now Adam, you’re going to want to start your history report with some context to give your reader a sense of the political climate back then.

The election was a big one, since this was going to be the president that followed Bush II. Now if you recall, he’s the one that got himself elected because the Florida governor, Chad Bush, allowed the use of Opposite Day Ballots. But after folks cast their votes for the opposite of the one they wanted, Chad Bush told them he was just kidding about it being Opposite Day. Everybody agreed it was a funny joke, including the Supreme Court, who thought it was so funny that they said, “Oh tell you what, we’ll just make it easier on everyone and decide who is president.”

The day after inauguration was 9/11, which was an event in which terrorists mailed an American flag to each citizen and told us they’d bomb us if we didn’t wave them from our cars. And then the next day we went to war with Smoking Crater IV, then known as Iraq.

And then in 2004, Bush II stayed president. I forget what he was running against, an inanimate object of some kind. Pretty sure it was a loaf—yes—a loaf of bread. And one thing that happened during that time: a young senator, Tupac Obama, got up at the convention and gave a speech about the loaf that made us Democrats go, “Whoa baby now, maybe we should’ve nominated a person after all.”

The Iraq war was still going on in 2008 in which millions of US troops died and I think a couple dozen Iraqis died too. And at home Bush II was flying around the country, personally bombing abortion clinics and building megachurches in their places, and then, in the summertime, drilling endangered animals for oil.

Now I seem to recall that the 2008 primary began around November of 2004. All of America watched, discussed, analyzed political strategies like they were plays in a football game. It was fun for us. It felt like it mattered. There were all kinds of crazy characters—a famous actor, a porn star, Gary Coleman, even a minister! Billy Graham was the minister’s name and he had the funniest commercial with him and Burt Reynolds trading lines where Billy Graham would say, “Burt Reynolds’ tears cure AIDS” and then Burt Reynolds would say, “Billy Graham is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.” But this guy John McBain won the Republican nomination because he’d spent a couple weeks in an ACLU camp.

And then on the Democrat side, there was Hillary Clinton who ran a campaign platform of, “I should be president because I already was president, sort of.” And then there was Obama who nobody thought would win, but his superpower was hypnosis, and every time he asked a rich person for a campaign donation, they shelled out. And his campaign slogan was, “Remember when I gave that great speech?” and then he switched it to “Hoping for Change in a Hopefully Changing World,” and people liked those words.

That primary lasted over three years and Clinton and Obama got as mean as they could be without hitting each other. Clinton would say, “Mr. Obama is a worthless prick who would make a fine Vice President,” and Obama would counter, “Mrs. Clinton is bitch whom I greatly admire. She’s running a great race.” And then Obama’s minister, Jesse James, said some things about how it was cool to be racist, in a way, and Obama gave a speech about how it’s actually not cool but racism is complicated, and it was such a good speech that he started running with the slogan, “That’s two amazing speeches now.” And then Clinton had her own scandal when her husband got drunk and made a YouTube video challenging Obama to a fistfight. And, uh, she lost in a really slow and anticlimactic way, and she kept saying that she was still running when she wasn’t, exactly. I don’t know. Look it up if you can. Has wikipedia been blocked?

Here’s the part I remember clearly, though. A little while after the primaries, some time around late September of 2008, all of Americas simultaneously stopped caring. Myself included. When election coverage came on the TV, people changed the channel. Many cancelled their newspaper subscriptions. Internet news outlets had to post election coverage next photos of naked people to get any hits at all. So they adapted, gave up covering the campaigns altogether. Obama and McBain continued to give speeches, but the rallies were sparsely attended and only covered on CSPAN.

It was burnout, Adam. The kind of political engagement that Americans showed throughout the years of primary was just not sustainable through the general election. We thought we’d rally come November, but just—I don’t know—didn’t. The number of votes was, I believe, in the hundreds. The Supreme Court said that wasn’t enough to elect either candidate, called off the election, and told Bush II to keep his job another four years or so. He accepted. And I guess he figured he could do what he wanted and declared war on Iran, Syria, North Korea… uh, some others. Nine in total.

You’ll want to conclude this report the usual way, Adam, which is to quickly muse that it’s good that history played itself out the way it did so that the American Empire could be taken under the mighty nurturing wing of Mother China. That way our family won’t disappear in the night. But I don’t need to tell you to do that, do I?

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Operation Hotmother

Michael: Let’s see if we can top that.

Narrator: They didn’t.

Edward Mullany has a great new short short at Johnny America. I get to go see him read this weekend.

Stephanie Nilles is another fine NYC musician. This one’s a jazz singer, with other good stuff mixed in there. I like her song, “Caution Tape,” a lot. She’s got this other song where she riffs so weirdly on the word “douchebag” that it loses all meaning. Kind of like that Regina Spektor song where she holds the word “boo-ooo-ooo-oobs.”

Liz wrote here about her Mormon fever. I am currently on the lookout for wives #2-4. Also, if you, scroll down on Liz’s blog, there are some great pictures of Melissa’s record release party in the magic barn.

I am told I am a forthcoming person. Forthcoming in this magazine. Mmm!

Next variety show to be announced soon. Start freaking out.

Cyanotype

Jason Behrends interviews Hilary Scott. Great interview, great artist, go read.

Found an excellent short story on the FRiGG website the other night: When My Girlfriend Lost the Weight by Matt Getty

David Foster Wallace

This is a blow. I’ve read only his nonfiction and have tremendous respect for it. The TV essay, the yacht essay, and the porn essay especially.

Here are some David Foster Wallace words that have been big for me this year (from “E. Unibus Pluram”):

“And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to tie down.”

The quote and the essay have served as my go-to reminder to avoid messy, directionless irony.

The best thing is to go back and read Wallace’s work, but it did me good to watch this interview (about half-way into the long video).

Your Rebels and Your Saints

May I say obvious things? Things others have said better?

Oops. Forgot the definition of a blog for a second. Well then. I heard a song at the Y a couple of weeks ago and it ruined my summer. No, that’s not enough. I’m gonna pull out the stock web hyperbole for this one: Yaa! Bleedin out ma ears, the song killed my soul, I can’t feel my legs, my lower back aches a little, etc.

The song was an update of “Sweet Home Alabama” that retained the chord progression of the original, glossed it up, added a choir, and added empty nostalgia lyrics about summers past. The only line you need as proof: “Didn’t have no internet.” The song was sung by a dime-a-dozen modern country dude, his voice impossible to place for its indistinctness.

The chorus was as follows: “We were trying different things / We were smoking funny things / Making love out by the lake to our favorite song / Sipping whiskey out the bottle / Not thinking bout tomorrow / Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long.” Then the Sweet Home riff kicked in.

Something about this vapid glossy homage to a piece of already-vapid Americana got me pissed off in a righteous, “Pop culture thinks I’m dumb” kind of way. And make no mistake, that’s because pop culture thinks I’m dumb.

Well I looked it up. The song is called “All Summer Long.” The singer is Kid Rock. 15 bazillion people have already watched the video.

Dear The Man,

I can’t tell the difference between your rebels and your saints, between your rip-offs and your homages. I have a couple of ideas.

1. Male Equation: Rebel = Saint + Boozin + Smokin Funny Things + Surrounded by Babes + The Word “Rebel” Appears on Your Press Releases

2. Female Equation: Rebel = Saint + Time

3. Homage = Rip-Off + Royalties

By the way, look out for my new single “Free Birdin’ All Night Long.” It’s about this time that I listened to Free Bird, poolside, among sexy co-eds. Since it was only a month ago, I’m having a hard time writing nostalgic verses. So far, I’ve got: “Hadn’t heard of Sarah Palin / China was winning golds with children / something, something, something / Thought those days would never end.”

I will be famous, starting very soon. I feel famous now.

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Free Books, PDF-style

Wendy Molyneux is a favorite comedy writer of mine. I first discovered her on McSweeneys Dot Net, emailed her to say “this is funny, you are funny,” and she was nice and directed me to her blog. Now I read that and occasionally dip over to her husband’s blog, who is also a talented comedy writer.

Wendy Molyneux wrote a book called, Everything Is Wrong With You: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding Self-Confidence Through Self-Loathing. I thought about buying it, either for me or for a modern woman, but didn’t for reasons involving poorness.

Now it is online for free in PDF form along with some other very decent-looking comedy books by Sarah Walker, Jason Roeder and John Warner. This just solved all our problems. Let’s support free things with our time and electronic hype.

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Movie Movie Movie Time

The closest thing to Stella these days is Wainy Days, David Wain’s web series. The good news is that he plays the exact same character, only lonlier and sans business suit. The writing is a little looser but there are some great running jokes (“I hear wedding bells!”) and the troubles meeting women formula stays pretty fresh throughout three seasons. Angel is an above-average episode, full of the bravely dumb humor that makes Stella great. Or you could start with the first one and work your way through them.

Ari and Sara introduced me to Carson Mell the other night after we watched Taxi Driver. “Chonto” is probably my favorite, but of the videos on his website, “The Devil in Denim” and “The Writer” are both excellent.

Drew Piston is a San Fran musician who set his rink-a-dink-in-a-good-way electronic tune “I, Human” to an old-timey robot movie. It’s good.

Finally, Drunk History is so funny. This is the best one because of Jen Kirkman’s storytelling/hiccups:

Fake Palindromes

Everybody I know is getting pretty sick of all these Palin “scandals.” I say we just list them all, acknowledge that she’s a human being like everyone else, then move on to actually getting to know McCain’s hastily-picked VP nominee.

Here are the facts, as best as I can remember them from skimming headlines, dreaming dreams and talking with angry New Englanders:

– When Sarah Palin ran for President of her 5th grade class, she quickly turned the issue away from her opponent’s popular “No Homework Day” campaign and towards hot-button issues like gun control and abortion.

– Sarah Palin fired the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner after he refused to TP her ex-brother-in-law’s house.

– When Sarah Palin ran for Miss Alaska, she quickly turned the issue away from beauty and towards hot-button issues like gun control and abortion.

– Sarah Palin’s new baby is having a baby and is planning to marry the father.

– Sarah Palin calls drilling for oil “ice fishing.”

– Sarah Palin’s baby’s fetus is having a baby and is planning to marry the father.

– Sarah Palin ran a polar bear deathmatch ring in her backyard from 2001-2003 until it was shut down by the local neighborhood watch. She was not convicted on account of being too gosh darn pretty.

– When Sarah Palin sighted Mark Twain and the guy who wrote the Golden Compass on an Alaskan hunting expedition, she fell them both in a single shot and thus committed the ultimate censorship. There is a picture of her and her daughter smiling by their husks.

– Sarah Palin accepted funds for an escalator to nowhere, pocketed the fund, bragged about it when introduced as McCain’s runningmate, and didn’t even credit The Simpsons for the idea.

As if any of that matters. Show some respect, naysayers. Sarah Palin is a war hero by association.

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Young Revolutionaries

Young Revolutionaries is a chapbook by Chelsea Martin, Catherine Lacey and Ellen Kennedy.

I like this book. Each person’s section does something completely different from the other two. This way, there’s no room for competition among the stories. Instead, the stories rub up against each other in an exciting way and make the book feel like a variety show. (And everybody loves a variety show.) It’s a good argument for sharing a chapbook with other writers. It makes me want to do it too instead of hogging the spotlight.

From Martin’s good, too-short first section, “Things I Know”: “What do you do with a box of 50,000 condoms? Put the box by your bed and when people come over and look inquisitively into the box, make an exhausted, dreamy expression.”

From Lacey’s “Spending Too Much Time Around People Who Like Me”: “Anytime I read a book about Pompeii, it bothered me when the historians assumed every man and woman pair were husband and wife or at least in love or died in some kind of romantic way… Lava can do that. It can make people appear to be in love.”

Kennedy is good at describing social awkwardness/boredom, TV to comic effect (“They show him screaming in a parking lot while smoking.”), and a girl and her dad ganging up on mom.

Would this chapbook be more electable if it wore a flag pin on its lapel? Maybe (particularly when trying to make a good first impression), but the writing is good enough that anyone who actually reads the chapbook will not question the patriotism of these fine women.