Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What the hell blog

I've decided to post some things I've written that haven't really found a publisher. Besides having them suck up space on my computer, which they will continue to do, I thought it might be useful to share these with whatever readers there are who might enjoy this sort of thing. Thank you.

This one was inspired by Bill O'Reilly.

The Author Responds
Merle Kessler

Critics are certainly entitled to their opinions, but they should confine them to books, and not the people who wrote them. I should expect such ad hominem claptrap, I suppose, from a website choosing to call itself Still, one sighs. One shudders. One fears for America, and its new climate of hatchet jobs, meanspirited “blogs,” and cheap shots.

My television talk show, GRIMMIS IN YOUR FACE, is watched by millions on a daily basis. It is not only not “…a sucky new front in the culture wars” as your critic so crudely put it, it is an island of civility in a sea of snide discourse. And John Grimmis is the lone Crusoe gathering like-minded Fridays into the fold.

Yes, I did once punch a hippie on the air, but I was only fulfilling the dreams of millions. I had given her every opportunity to talk turkey, make sense, make her case. She would not stay on message, something snapped, and I clocked her. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of this action. But it certainly was not “totally wack,” as your apparently mindless critic put it.

At any rate, what on earth does this have to do with my book? Though certainly it echoes themes from my show, NOW WHAT, AMERICA? is not only a whole different genre, it reinvents that genre.

I find it interesting that your critic chooses to indulge in character assassination rather than treat my concept of Novelifactualization with the seriousness it deserves. And I spend eighteen pages explaining it! Briefly, Novelifactualizatoin is a process whereby I turn the dross of fiction into hard fact, and vice versa. Nowhere does your critic even mention this.

Instead he accuses me of being a “ravening hack” and of being “scary incoherent.” Where is your evidence? If I am a pioneer in a genre of my own invention, how can there possibly be judgment of how well I handle it? Your ignorance is shameful.

As Nabokov famously said to Thoreau before their final falling out at Finland Station, “If there is a trout in the milk, it is because I put it there.” But no, you lefties always fall back on name-calling when confronted with ideas your feeble brains can’t comprehend. You heard me right, you pussy. I’d like to get you alone in one of those crack-infested alleys you liberals helped to foster, you sonofabitch. But I digress.

As my character/composite, Brick Randall, put it in Chapter Two: “We are the fist, you are just a glove. When the bell rings, somebody’s gonna be toast, and my fingers aren’t gonna be part of the sandwich.” You can try to lay a glove on me, in other words, but your blows are as drifting feathers tickling my face after a childish pillow fight. I remain on the best seller lists, despite your quibbles.

Yes, I am friends with Newt Gingrich, but I am also on a first name basis with many Democratic party operatives. I am independent and blunt. I can be a nice guy, as any of my ex-wives will attest, but if I am disrespected, I can be the howling wind that destroyed Gomorrah, Krakatoa, and other treacherous regions. Yet I am unfailingly polite.

Even as my fists fall upon you like the twin hammers of God, you will note my soft murmurs of apology. That’s the kind of guy I am. Mano a mano, even stupid activists and trial lawyers learn to respect me. And perhaps, someday, I will learn to respect them, if they ever open their goddam ears to the truth.

A careful reading of NOW WHAT, AMERICA? would reveal that it is the one true book, immune to criticism, carping, and sarcasm. The sooner you unrepentant name-calling neo-Marxist scum realize this, the happier John Grimmis will be. After all, what’s the alternative? A socialist state is what. But that would make YOU happy, wouldn’t it?

Words cannot contain my spite. John Grimmis has tried, but his spite is too unwieldy for the basket of language. And whose fault is that? Yours. I have done my best. I can do no more. I’m loosening my necktie, and walking sadly away. Shaking my head slowly from side to side. Gazing down.

And don’t try to coldcock me from behind, you bastard. I have eyes in the back of my head. I give up on you. You are dead to me. Buy my book!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blog on a diet

A reviewer in Slate, for some reason, pondered the recent DVD release of the old Chevy Chase movie, FLETCH. The headline read, “Don't let your memory fool you. Chevy Chase's Fletch is abominably bad.”

Well, I searched my memory, and as I recall, I thought FLETCH was abominably bad back in the day. I suspect its badness has not been altered by the passage of time.

Also in Slate…
On Monica Goodling’s testimony: “Look past Goodling's long, silky blond hair, which may or may not have been a distraction. She's entitled to have pretty hair. Look past her trembling hand as she swore her oath and the tremulous voice as she described her ‘family’ at Justice. What really shot Goodling into the stratosphere of baby-doll girls were her own whispered words: ‘At heart,’ she testified, ‘I am a fairly quiet girl, who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way.’ The idea, of course, was to scrub away her past image as ruthless, power-mad, and zealously Christian. But—as professor Sandy Levinson noted almost immediately over at Balkinization—it was in calling herself a ‘girl’ that the 33-year-old did herself a great favor. It was a signal to the committee that she was no Kyle Sampson. Or Anita Hill.”

“The first thing we noticed on Thursday (didn't everybody?) was Goodling's hair—great highlights! But to even say that is to trivialize her, right? And for us to say it, as women, is to launch a catfight. It's to separate her from the big boys, by calling her a girl.”

The gist of the article was that Goodling succeeded in creating a good impression by acting all girly, when she’s actually more sharky.

Of course, the authors themselves (Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick) spent more time discussing her personal appearance, rather than whether she was dissembling or not.

Meanwhile, speaking of personal appearance….
Here’s Maureen Dowd! “It’s no wonder Al Gore is a little touchy about his weight, what with everyone trying to read his fat cells like tea leaves to see if he’s going to run. He was so determined to make his new book look weighty, in the this-treatise-belongs-on-the-shelf-between-Plato-and-Cato sense, rather than the double-chin-isn’t-quite-gone-yet sense, that he did something practically unheard of for a politician: He didn’t plaster his picture on the front.”

Again, Ms Dowd gets to chastize “everyone” for lingering on Mr. Gore’s fatness, while herself pointing out that he is fat.

And Diane Sawyer asked Gore…
“Donna Brazile, your former campaign manager, has said, ‘If he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he’s running.’ Lost any weight?”

More thinness:
The Daily Mail: “In the race for ever thinner displays for TVs, cell phones and other gadgets, Sony may have developed one to beat them all - a razor-thin display that bends like paper while showing full-colour video.”


"’In the future, it could get wrapped around a lamppost or a person's wrist, even worn as clothing,’ said Sony spokesman Chisato Kitsukawa. ‘Perhaps it can be put up like wallpaper.’”

Why would you want to wear a television screen? So other people can watch C-SPAN on your chest?

For the ladies….
This week the Food and Drug Administration approved Lybrel, the first birth-control pill explicitly designed to abolish monthly bleeding.

This whole Gonzalez thing.
I loved the image of Alberto Gonzalez rushing into Ashcroft’s hospital room, to get the semi-comatose then-Attorney General to sign off on the administration’s domestic surveillance program. Ashcroft was so against it, that he, the head of the FBI, and acting Attorney General James Comey were ready to resign. It’s pretty dramatic stuff, but makes me wonder what the hell was in that program? Ashcroft wasn’t exactly a liberal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tardy Blog

Headline of the week!
Gay Flamingos Adopt Baby

For all of you who await my blog with bated breath, or baited breath, or even abated breath, I apologize. I have been out of town working on an online television series, which may in fact launch in September. I will keep you posted.

As part of a comeback plan, Michael Jackson wants a 50-foot robotic replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert. It would also have lasers.

Is where I was. Boulder, to be specific. Stopping off to buy beer at a liquor store, I noted a guy with a cowboy stomach step up the counter, point to a shelf lined with those little airline bottles of hooch. “Gimme a shooter of Beam,” he growled.

AFP: “The Maldives became the first country to open an embassy in the virtual reality of web-based Second Life, a fantasy world inhabited by computer-generated residents, the Maldives mission to the United Nations in Geneva said.”

So if you’re resident of Maldives, wanted for a crime in Second Life, can you flee to the virtual Maldives embassy, where you’ll be safe? Or will James Bond’s avatar come after you? And where are you, by the way?

Culture of Character
From spam I received: “Thank you for helping to prove that America can do better than raise our kids on television programs that celebrate figures like Eminem, Madonna and Paris Hilton. We live in an era when one entertainment television network actually offers 'biographies' of porn stars! The fact that the television landscape in America is so bereft of healthy role models is the reason that we developed Candid Conversations with Great Americans. Our goal is to explore the character of Americans whose lives are a positive example for ourselves and our children.”

According to the email, “More than 60,000 people have already viewed the pilot episode for the Great Americans series featuring General Norman Schwarzkopf. We are particularly proud of the following responses that researchers received:

“The Program Was Inspiring to Watch: 90%

“The Program Made me Proud to be An American: 93%”

Now, I am second to none in my appalled response to most American culture. On the other hand, as you well know, my motto is: “If there is a zombie in the movie, it is automatically a good movie.” So, the Dread Aspect of Cultural Relativism once again rears its ugly head - depending on your point of view, of course.

And, as it happens, I like Eminem and Madonna. I might like Paris Hilton too, if by chance I might see her, you know, doing something.

And I like Norman Schwarzkopf. I guess. He kicked Iraqi ass so we can, well, I dunno, get our ass kicked by Iraqis today.

But I must confess: I do not watch programs that make me proud to be an American. I have no desire to watch programs that make me proud to be an American, even though I am, in fact, proud to be an American. Do we really need television programs to make us proud to be Americans? If we do, wouldn't that be a mark of shame?

I am deeply disappointed in them. The logic is that of Pontius Pilate: all right, Administration, it’s your war. We wash our hands of it.

Corruption pays!
Vincent A. Cianci Jr., the erstwhile mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, who was convicted of corruption and “racketeering conspiracy,” gets out of prison soon, where he will find employment with Fifteen Beacon, a luxury hotel in Boston, where he will work in sales, marketing and public relations.

I think it’s great that he, like so many other former convicts, is being given a second chance.

Retrofit sarcastic tone, please. Thank you.

Another theory!
From some damn blog or other: “Billy Clinton was actually the one behind the 9/11 attacks. He was in office while the terrorists made all the plans, set up the attack, went to flight training schools, had the entire thing ready to go before Bush ever came to office. The Clinton administration did this out of spite and anger towards the Republicans for them impeaching him. The dems are still very bitter about the impeachment of Clinton, I doubt they will ever get over it.”


Edwards, RIP?
SF Chronicle: “Democrat John Edwards has eloquently established his credentials as an advocate for the poor with a presidential campaign focused on the devastating effects of poverty in America. But the former North Carolina senator's populist drive has hit a series of troubling land mines: a pair of $400 haircuts, a $500,000 paycheck from a hedge fund, and now a $55,000 payday for a speech on poverty to students at UC Davis.”

If he actually looked good after the $400 haircut, maybe, but he looks like a realtor. A good-looking realtor, but still....

An idea whose time has come
NYT: “Sony Television is planning in June to introduce an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, initially offering the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace. … [T]he network will consist of a lineup of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony’s television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.

“As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, ‘So in “Charlie Angels,” they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.’”

COLUMBO: “Just one more thing, sir….” “You got me. Damn you, Columbo.”

24: “That was close.”

LAW AND ORDER: “The perp lawyered up. Let it go. Tomorrow’s another day.”


Et cetera….

Toxic toothpaste? Toxic pet food? Is China trying to kill us?

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hairball Blog

Cat Nomenclature
Our Weird Neighbor, who feeds feral cats without any actual contact with them, has assembled four cats (at our count) which we (Wee Wife and I) have deemed to be Boots, Boots, Non-Boots, and Smaller Non-Boots, now known as Mama Non-Boots.. This week, kittens appeared, around two months old, near as we can tell, which we have dubbed Black Kitten, Black Kitten, Black Kitten, and the Gray One. With big boxy head.

Take that, Linnaeus!

Penis news
Viagra is losing market share to other impotence drugs.

Jim Crace
From the UK Guardian: “I am overjoyed to discover that my latest novel, Useless America (a catchy and fashionable title) was published at the end of September in a hardcover edition by Viking Penguin. It's a snip at £16.99 for 224 pages. … The only hitch is that Useless America is a phantom book - and it’s not even a phantom of my own creation. “

USELESS AMERICA does not exist, and Jim Crace did not write it. Um. It goes without saying.

Headline of week.
“Drunk man fails driving test.”

From WATCH YOUR BACK! A caper novel, by the great Donald E. Westlake
Thieves are talking with a geek:

“What were you on probation for?”…

“Well, downloading,” Raphael said…. “Taking music off the Web…. Some big German record company came after me, me and a bunch of other people… and said we were doing felonies.”

“You were on probation because you were listening to music? This is a crime?”

Dick Cheney, on an aircraft carrier, warned Iran: “We’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.” Actually, he was talking to sailors, but Iran probably got the message.

Neighborhood moment
At the corner store, a six year old girl ran up to her mother and said, “Mom! I found a stick in my pocket!”

Then, beaming broadly, she showed the stick to her mother. It was a more of a twig, really, but I did not point that out to the girl. She’ll have enough disappointments in life.

Neighborhood moment 2
Overheard: “Ever since I got out of the pen, I’m such a lightweight. I smoke a blunt in the morning and have to lie down until night time comes.”

That’ll show ‘em department
NYT: ”Sophisticated Internet users have banded together … to publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.

“An online uproar came in response to a series of cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for a group of companies that use the copy protection system, demanding that the code be removed from several Web sites.

“Rather than wiping out the code — a string of 32 digits and letters in a specialized counting system — the legal notices sparked its proliferation on Web sites, in chat rooms, inside cleverly doctored digital photographs and on user-submitted news sites like

“’You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company,’ wrote Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, in a blog post. ‘We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.’ If Digg loses, he wrote, ‘at least we died trying.’”

The new creepy America
New royalty rates will probably drive most streaming audio of pop music off the Internet. New postal rates will probably drive most small circulation magazines out of business.

Mickey Mouse
A Hamas-run television station has a children’s show, featuring a Mickey Mouse lookalike called Farfur, who calls on viewers to resist Israel and the United States. Various Jewish groups have protested, to no avail. But wait until Disney’s lawyers get wind of this. Hamas doesn’t know what trouble is.

Freeway collapse in Emeryville
A former junkie, speeding in his gasoline truck in the wee hours of April 29, 2007, had an accident, which caused two sections of a freeway, part what we locals call the MacArthur Maze, to collapse, actually melting steel girders. But is that what REALLY happened?

From a blog post: “G-A-Y” is spelled ‘429’on a standard American telephone. The attacks occurred only 8.5 miles from the notorious Castro Street homosexual district. COINCIDENCE?”

And: “The name “Macarthur Maze” has 13 letters. Element 13 is Aluminum, an ingredient in Thermite. Aluminum oxide was discovered all over the scene, indicating a massive thermal event involving large amounts of aluminum. Unlike hydrocarbon fire, aluminothermic reactions can fuse steel or destroy it entirely. The police refuse to question Custom Alloy, a pro-aluminum corporation based within easy artillery range of the overpass.”

So there you have it. Dick Cheney did it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maple Leaf Blog

Take that, Texas!
Canada has just minted the world’s largest coin - 20 inches in diameter, 1 inch thick, weighing 200 pounds, and pure gold. Denomination? One million dollars. But depending on gold’s market value, its actual worth is around $2.7 million.

Collect 'em all!

Not Lorne Greene, surely!
Canada's National History Society, which publishes the Canadian history magazine The Beaver, in order to counter Canada’s image as staid, dull, and nice, has issued a survey, asking readers to come up with “the worst Canadian.” The August 1 issue will publish poll results for “Canada's most foul, useless, maligning and destructive human forces.” Entries so far have included serial killer Paul Bernardo, Harold Ballard, (former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs), Shania Twain, and Celine Dion.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a Canadian who wasn’t nice. There is a cultural tendency, however: when you meet a Canadian in the US, within ten minutes of your conversation, s/he will inform you of famous people who are Canadian: “Neil Young is Canadian. Lorne Michaels? Canadian. Joni Mitchell is Canadian. Dan Aykroyd. Alanis Morissette? That’s right. Canadian.”

Rule of thumb.
The name “Lorne” is a “Canadian” indicator.

Mike Myers?

Worst Canadian cat?
Reuters: “Canada's postal system has stopped delivering mail to a home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a mail carrier was scared away by a ‘very threatening cat,’ the Winnipeg Free Press said on Friday.”

The cat’s owner John Samborski, told the paper that “his eight-year-old, declawed, black cat Shadow is docile.” Shadow, he said, “likes to eat and sleep and cuddle. You could drop a bomb and he'd just open one eye, take a look, then close them and go back to sleep."

Maybe the search for the worst Canadian has made Canadians a little jumpy.

Last time I saw Paris…
In other news: Paris Hilton is headed for the stony lonesome for 45 days, having been convicted of violating her probation in a 2006 reckless driving case, by driving with a suspended license.

Following the sentence, according to the New York Daily News, she “drowned her sorrows …by shopping with her mother, Kathy, at Francis-Orr and Ermenegildo in Beverly Hills and grabbing lunch at Prego.”

The New York Daily News also interviewed women who have been in the hoosegow, as to what advice they could offer the troubled heiress. A sampling:

"If you act like you're all high-class and uppity, you're done."

"This is bad. She's not going to make it."

"I think she should be housed with the general population. I think she should find out what it's like in here."

Ms. Hilton is not Canadian.

Canadian news, sort of. There’s a polar bear!
Headline of week: “Knut Steadily Getting Less Cute As He Matures...”