Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

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Profiles in Uselessness: The Bible Thumper

July 23, 2009
Call this number now for prime real estate in heaven!

Call this number now for prime real estate in heaven!

The nemesis of normal people everywhere: the Bible Thumper. Well-versed (no pun intended, I think; or if you think it’s clever enough, then why the hell not…) in the parts they like of the Holy Bible, these do-gooders scour the world clean of any offensiveness, intended or not.

“Do-gooders” is actually a misnomer. These people tend to be more self-interested than many of the people they despise. They have somehow turned their knowledge of good and evil into a holier-than-thou weapon, to be wielded at the slightest provocation.

Someone said, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” (I think it was Malcolm X.) In the case of these freaks, their eyes are the window to your soul, every deep black sinful inch of it. You may come across one in their native habitat (church entryway, Bible bookstore, abortion protest) and even find them personable and cheery.

But step across that line inadvertently (and unless you’re a complete asshole, it will happen and it will be inadvertent) and the gates of holy judgement will slam shut, sealing you out and packing you neatly away into the overcrowded “Sinner” compartment. Once you’re in there, there is no coming back out, no matter how persuasive your arguments. YOU. ARE. WRONG.

Fortunately, these “Godlike” people tend to be human beings, and as such are hypocritical, deceitful, misguided and petty as any of us. Perhaps more so, since they suffer the delusion of being “chosen by God,” something that doesn’t hamstring the rest of us.

They also make lousy employees.

Good girls go to heaven. Amy Grant gets a Hollywood star. See you in hell, baby.

Good girls go to heaven. Amy Grant gets a Hollywood star. See you in hell, baby.

Former employers:

  • Hyvee Grocery Stores – Customer asked for location of Boca Burgers. X replied with, “Did you check the ‘fag’ section?”
  • Super 8 Motels – Demanded valid ID from any registering couples to ensure they were properly married, etc. “in God’s eyes.” Repeatedly disabling in-room movie service.
  • 7-11 Convenience Stores – Verbally assaulted Rainbo Breads delivery driver, raising questions about his sexual preference and insinuating that his truck was filled with young boys rather than delicious breads and pastries.
  • OfficeMax – Seemed to work fine, but we were all sick of her constant stories about whatever had offended her on TV the night before, told repeatedly and in clinical detail.
  • Omaha Zoo – Happened across two tapirs in mid-intercourse and stormed out, throwing Jack Chick tracts everywhere.
  • ACLU – Have we just stopped screening applicants altogether? What the fucking fuck?!?
  • The Good Bookery Christian Bookstore – Refused to stock or promoted “whore of Babylon” Amy Grant’s latest album; constant referral to “plain English” NIV translation as the “work of Satan.”
  • The Gap – Constant referral to our intricate shirt-folding instructions as “unnatural” and the “work of Satan;” also frequently commented on the “ungodly music” issued by our Gap radio network.
  • Gamestop – Kept taking all copies of Grand Theft Auto to the lockup behind the counter or out to the dumpster to burn, despite constant reminders that a.) she did not work here and b.) the police were on their way. Her response was, “Oh. Now you think law enforcement is ‘cool.’ We’ll discuss your open-world scenarios and prostitute beating with them.”
  • Make a Wish Foundation – Told child, “What horrible sin did you commit to earn your terminal illness? Stop crying, tears won’t cure brain cancer any more than wishing. What you need is prayer, God’s placebo.”

One of the way these Bible Thumpers display their “good works” is by joining various causes, forwarding chain letters and signing various petitions. Too secure in their own righteousness to be bothered by human compassion, facts or even spelling, the Thumpers take the road heavily travelled, paved with smug ignorance.

In their own way much like their polar opposite, the Wiccan liberal nature-worshipper, in that they both have better ideas on how everyone else should live their lives, where they should shop and go to school and what time they should all be in bed. These bi-polar twins also have something against sex, protected or otherwise. On one hand: it’s a sin. On the other: it’s breeding more earth-killing humans.

One Disney employee down, several thousand to go...

One Disney employee down, several thousand to go...

Here’s a brief look at what’s troubling the inboxes of bleeding-stigmata holy rollers these days:

Outrages/Protests/Petitions/Concerns/Chain Letters:

  • Harry Potter – Portrayal of magic, facial scars as acceptable to children.
  • Herbal Essence ads – Depiction of female orgasm as normal, enjoyable and even possible without outside assistance.
  • Dancing with the Stars – Female contestants dresses are too short – in both places. Some male stars sporting noticeable “bulges.”
  • WordPress.com – Host of several “questionable” blogs that traffic in, among other things:
    Wanton elevator-related lust
    Questioning of Ms. California’s purity
    Positive portrayal of convicted felons
    Depiction of roosters as capable of asexual reproduction
    Besmirching Rachel Ray’s purity; hosting weeklong slideshows
    Attempting to “talk” away the wages of sin through the pseudoscience of psychoanalysis
    Recommending alcohol usage; frequently taking the Lord’s name in vain
    Positive portrayal of non-Christian published writers
    Mocking suicide victims, which, although it is an affront to God, is still kind of awful and tasteless.
  • Obama’s Stimulus Plan – In my opinion, no one needs to be “stimulated.” It leads to diabetes, blindness and state-ordained genocide.
  • Hybrid vehicles – If God didn’t want us to use fossil fuels, He wouldn’t have killed off all the dinosaurs hundred of years ago.
  • Sick of dealing with arguments about the Bible’s many inconsistencies and contradictions? God made us in His image. Let’s return the favor by rewriting His book in ours.
  • RSS Feed for food-related miracles – Up for auction now:
    – Virgin Mary (tortilla)
    – Jesus (grilled cheese on wheat)
    – Billy Graham (Reuben on rye)
    – Mother Theresa (Gogurt spill)
    – Calvin pissing on Bhudda (Spicy Nacho Dorito)
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes – No longer the great anti-masturbatorial aid it once was.
  • World of Warcraft – More like World of Witchcraft, am I right, parents?
  • The Weather Channel – 10-day forecast: harmless projection or dangerous divination?
  • Petition to remove World Book Encyclopedias from the elementary school library – reasons listed:
    – References to the occult (O-Or) and satanism (S-Sl)
    – Information on other religions
    – Graphic depictions of the human reproductive system
    – Evolution portrayed as science
    – No references to the coming apocalypse
    – Everyone’s using Wikipedia anyway; we could stock the empty shelf space with all 28 volumes of Strong’s Concordance to the Bible
  • Letter to president of Believers In God’s Own Truth
  • Bring back the Hays Code!
  • Christmas – A time of family togetherness or a bacchanal of pagan rituals? December 25th wasn’t even Jesus’ birthday as the Jewish calendar wasn’t fully formed until the law firm of Lowestein, Schobel and Witz put one out towards the end of 1781.
  • Chain mail recipient and forwarder of any diatribe on these subjects:
    – Homosexuality
    – The ACLU doing anything about anything
    – Any “evidence” of a “one-world government”
    – Bring back 7th Heaven
    – Things not being the way they used to be
    – Prayer chain of healing for Martha Swinson, who just discovered a possible tumor
    – Prayer chain of thanks for Martha Swinson’s tumor, which just turned out to be part of a malformed underwire bra
    – Prayer chain of guidance for Martha Swinson’s search for another, more competent doctor
    – Good Lord, look what Disney’s done now
    – Chain letter informing recipients that, due to recent economic slowdown, all chain letter generation and forwarding is now being outsourced

Now here’s what troubles me the most. The hypocrisy.

I can hate on anyone I want, if for no other reason, than I am not fronting for God or claiming to be more enlightened (I’m looking at you, White Male Protester). However, generally speaking, I am not a hateful person.

There’s a lot out there that will earn my disdain, but not a lot that will make me forget the human that lurks under every hated category. This is what seems to be missing from both sides of this. The contempt shown for their fellow human beings is unforgivable. And to act on this contempt, while propping yourself up on the Bible or white guilt, is despicable.

Let people live their lives. If they are not actively harming you or other around you, who gives a goddamn what the hell they do. If they want to watch someone turn the story of Christ into a metaphor for AIDS, who fucking cares? If they want to eat hybrid corn with their caged-up steak because it’s cheap and plentiful, shut the fuck up and get out of their kitchen.

It’s the point when your beliefs encroach on mine, usually through some groundswell movement that smacks the butterfly, whose flapping wings excite the air around the nearest Congressman facing a tough re-election battle, that I start getting pissed.

My life: here. Your life: there. You want to spend every Sunday in church praying for my soul, so be it. You want to take my favorite show off the air because you can’t find the fucking off switch on your own television, fuck you.

The Golden Rule: mind your own business.

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 1 – ASCAP

July 21, 2009

Roberto_jpg

Time to unpack the stabbing knife. Kids: don’t read any further than this unless a.) you really want to, or b.) no one’s stopping you.

Pity the poor music industry. Or don’t. Any group that claims to speak out for “poor artists” at press conferences while sending packs of lawyers out the back door doesn’t deserve your pity. Contempt, perhaps. But not pity.

Having long ago run out of sane ideas on how to maintain their wealth, ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Performers) has decided that everyone, everywhere should be forced to pay in perpetuity for listening to music. It’s just not enough to buy the album these days.

First, a little rundown on their targets. A rogue’s gallery of copyright violators and pirates of every shade. Here’s who ASCAP is billing now:

Anyone who embeds video on their website.
So pretty much everyone at every blog site and everyone everywhere else. Specifically, this goes after YouTube, which is a bit of a stretch, especially considering YouTube has already agreed to pay them $1.6 million for hosting the videos. Now ASCAP would like to collect again. And again. And again.

The town of New Milford, CT.
ASCAP would like $280 because the town center “sometimes has music playing.” The city council voted to ignore the billing, tabling it indefinitely. BMI and SESAC responded by increasing the amount of their claims to $3,000 and $1,500.

Everyone who owns a cellphone.
Well, maybe not everybody. Not if you’ve never purchased a ringtone featuring a popular artist. ASCAP is claiming that your cellphone, while doing its job of alerting you to an incoming call, is performing publicly and thus subject to royalty charges. Better put that phone on vibrate. Those easily excited can just set it to mute.

Hosts of open mic nights.
ASCAP and BMI have hit owners of small coffeeshops and bars with bills ranging from $350 to $6000 to cover “performance royalties.” Some have had to shut the open mic nights down, thus cutting off several fledgling artists from finding a venue in which to perform. Others have tried to get their acts to sign waivers stating that they will only perform original material. ASCAP has ignored these.

Here’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant quote on the subject:

Vince Candilora, ASCAP’s vice president for licensing, says the fees are set at a “very good rate,” adding, “What gives anyone the right to use someone else’s property, even though they’re not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company’s going to charge you whether you’re making money or not.”

So… a band playing a cover song is like the phone service? Always on? Multiple lines? Phone companies bill for services provided. You’re charging the bar owner for what exactly? The music played? The instruments provided? The soundsystem? What exactly are you providing in exchange for this money?

Related: a nightclub owner in Vail, CO paid $40,000 to ASCAP because a band played 10 cover songs during its appearance. A real bargain, considering ASCAP originally wanted $30,000 per song.

Anybody who sings Happy Birthday.
Over 1% of the total money collected by ASCAP comes from this one song, arguably the most popular song ever. And that copyright claim they collect on may be completely bogus. But who needs facts and research when threats and intimidation will accomplish more in less time?

Bitches better have my money...

Bitches better have my money...

The Girl Scouts of America.
We can debate the propriety and taste of teaching the little cookie-pushers the Macarena, but really… threatening the Girl Scouts? A bunch of 8-year old girls who are now afraid to dance and sing… I hope you’re happy. Perhaps the lawyers will stop by and kill their pets while they’re away at camp.

In all fairness, ASCAP dropped the campaign to wring money out of a beloved American institution. But only after the public shaming. And what the fuck? Who greenlighted this action? If anything highlights the antagonistic entitlement these jackasses feel, this does.

And that just covers some recent stupidity from America. Here’s a very brief rundown on what’s going on in the rest of the world:

These actions mark performance rights groups as true bullies, never willing to go head-to-head with a comparable foe, but rather beat up on charities, small businesses and little girls.

You’d think that an industry so strained for cash would want to have as many people as possible exposed to their product. Apparently it would be easier for them if one person paid royalties over and over again via this business model:

  • Buy CD. ($10-15)
  • Play CD at work. (Pay public performance royalties.)
  • Play CD on car ride home with windows down and stereo up. (Performance royalties.)
  • Throw a little house party. Get new CD pumpin’. (More performance royalties.)
  • Sing a little of the CD in the shower the next morning. Whoops. Left the door open. (Performance royalties.)
  • Etc.

ASCAP continues its push, getting into bed with Congress (although, let’s face it, our representatives have all the self-restraint and self-respect as any “Girl Gone Wild”) in an effort to collect additional performance fees anytime a song gets played on the radio. This hypocritical gouging is covered in a delightful ironic sauce, as ASCAP and the RIAA have both been in hot water for paying the radio stations to play their music.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump. Awww... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump! Adorable... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Now the shoe is on the other litigious foot, and their favorite promotional vehicle has now become a sacrificial cash cow.

All that ASCAP will do is ensure that they and their lawyers get paid. Some of the top 5% of their stable of artists will get some trickledown (think U2, Rolling Stones, etc.) Those slightly below this threshold may see some tiny residuals. And everyone else gets jackshit. Nothing but fewer places to play and promote their music.

I haven’t sent one out for awhile but I think the time has come:

Fuck you, ASCAP. Fuck your ignorance, your false sense of entitlement and your abusive tactics. Fuck you just like you’re fucking 95% of the artists on your roster.

Stick it to the man. Play your music loud. Invite your friends over and play all the music you can. Promote your favorite bands. Embed their videos everywhere. Support your local cover band. Donate to your favorite charities. Buy Girl Scout cookies.

-CLT

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Profiles in Uselessness: Nostalgia

July 20, 2009
Not only do they not take or comprehend credit cards, but it is apparently, "Whites Only."

Not only do they not take or comprehend credit cards, but the store is apparently "Whites Only."

Ah, nostalgia. Like selective amnesia and repressed memories, a yearning for a simpler time is often the result of something annoying in the present triggered a rose-tinted mental Super 8 film, often accompanied by With a Little Help from My Friends, by a twitchy Joe Cocker.

Whether the trigger is an “Insufficient Funds” notice, being lost in the “wrong side of town,” kids cutting across the lawn late at night, multi-racial new neighbors or the latest chart-topping single, “Remember When” dementia can strike at any time.

No one ever remembers a terrible time from their past during these stroke-like fits of retrograde amnesia. It’s always a “simpler time” when you can prune life’s variables down to just the ones you can handle, like when men were men, children were respectful, and women shut the fuck up.

To a simpler time!

I remember…

  • When women burned bras rather than wearing them.
  • When Christians were fed to the lions, rather than elected to positions of power.
  • When candy cost a nickel and came in two flavors: licorice and horehound.
  • When this was all orange groves. Tended by illegals.
  • When Coke used to contain actual cocaine and could treat polio, male pattern baldness and the gout.
  • When arranged marriages were the norm, rather than this “speed dating” that everyone seems so fond of.
  • When your news came once a day, delivered by a child laborer on a Schwinn.
#1 in its time slot for six years in a row (1947-1952). Rerun briefly by TV Land.

#1 in its time slot for six years in a row (1947-1952). Rerun briefly by TV Land.

  • When there was good television, broadcast two hours a day, on one channel. And the rest of the day, the schedule was filled with great wholesome test patterns and technical difficulties.
  • When Russia was our only enemy, rather than a loose confederation of religious fanatics, both domestic and foreign.
  • When After School Specials dealt with harmless subjects like hookworm, comic book theft and smoking Dad’s pipe without permission.
  • When cars were made in the U.S. of A. Great, hulking beasts that were more aerodynamic when driven in reverse and contained such safety features as 30 feet of hood and plate glass windshields.
  • When women and minorities couldn’t vote, leading to the great presidencies of Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland (twice).
  • When buying a pack of gum wasn’t like an interminable trip to Baskin-Robbins, which in those days only carried vanilla, licorice and horehound.
  • When people didn’t undermine nostalgia by using inflation-adjusted dollars, thus turning our wonderful five-cent candy into a 95-cent gouging. Things were cheaper back then, dammit!
  • When children received only the education needed to secure an entry-level position in the fields of textile manufacturing, railroad construction or chimney sweeping.
  • When everyone at the bank knew your name. And your kids’ names. And your sexual indiscretions.
Zach Wild's later work introduced a new layer of subtext, with the larger deer indicating an object in the foreground and thus closer to the eye.

Zach Wild's later work introduced a new layer of subtext, with the larger deer representative of an object in the foreground and thus closer to the eye.

  • When art was actual pictures of stuff, before affordable photography made it redundant.
  • When singers actually sang about things, rather than vague emotions. Wonderful and powerful songs like Mellow Yellow, Yummy Yummy Yummy and Twist and Shout.
  • When someone ran Old Glory up the flagpole, people saluted, goddammit! And wouldn’t ask impertinent questions like, “Did you mean to hang it upside down?” or “Man, do those Chinese make an awesome flag, or what?”
  • When our favorite actors and actresses had the good sense to stay “closeted” until they died, giving their body of work a sudden injection of subtext.
  • When “Duck and Cover” could protect you from a 30-megaton blast, flying debris, deadly levels of radiation and intelligent discourse.
  • When you could smoke everywhere: on an airplane, at the movies, on the operating table, while working the medicine ball at the gym, at AA meetings…
  • When America used to head home from a war with the spoils of victory, rather than a red “Participant” ribbon.
  • When Indians were real Indians and stayed on reservations when not entertaining us during Wild West shows or parades. Back before we got all these fake Indians who don’t speak a lick of English and field customer service phone calls or assemble electronics.
  • When there were only three religions in this country: Christian, Catholic and Jewish. And we were free to hate on the third one.
What is not readily apparent, due to the angle of the photo, is that every man is sitting in a pool of his own urine.

What is not readily apparent, due to the angle of the photo, is that every man is sitting in a pool of his own urine.

  • When men were men and beat the fuck out of scab workers, pausing occasionally to be photographed taking their lunch break 500 feet in the air, atop some unfinished skyscraper.
  • When men were men and would join forces with the all-Irish police department to beat the fuck out of union members.
  • When firing up a cigar at the bar meant you were a rich and well-respected individual rather than a rich and insufferable prick.
  • When the worse thing local teens did was suck down a few too many jerked sodas and occasionally kick the diner jukebox.
  • When accusations of witchcraft were taken seriously, rather than just dismissed with, “They’re just goths, for christsakes. And they’re as scared of you as you are of them.”

God bless the good old days. Let’s hope they never return, bringing with them racism, sexism and a general xenophobia. We’ve put that all behind us now, in our present utopia.

So the next time the bank turns down your loan application, a local merchant asks for your photo ID, or you have an embarrassing and disturbing conversation with a sullen and profane teen, don’t wish yourself back to your childhood days. Instead, seize the moment, enjoy your life, live in the present and try to remember all the shit you put up with when you were younger.

-CLT

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Profiles in Uselessness-the White Male Protester

July 14, 2009
Troubled youth misunderstands point of last week's Nike protest

Nike's unexpected sponsorship allowed the rioters to upgrade their "rock-hurling" capabilities.

In a temporary lull… enjoy something you may have seen before (originally posted March 30, 2009).

Background
White, suburban upper-middle class.
Upbringing voted “Most Oppressive” by self, other suburban whites.
Takes Earth Day off from work (also Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday).
Use variations of “green” like the rest of us use “fuck.”

Under-employment history:
Part-time barrista, 2Girls1Cup Coffee Shop
Fired for: Failure to meet minimum “awareness” level.

Part-time server, Murphy’s Raw & Uncut Vegan Restaurant
Fired for: Not transsexual enough.

Part-time cashier, Weighty Pretensions Alternative Bookstore
Fired for: Failure to meet minimum facial piercing requirement.

Part-time clerk, Rolling Stoned “Record” Store
Fired for: “Failure to imply that tobacco pipes and accessories could be used for more recreational (and illegal) drugs.”

Intern, Aging Hipster Records
Fired for: “Failure to attend either of two US festivals from 1982/83; constant use of ‘I wasn’t even born yet!’ excuse.

Part-time Assistant Shirt Folder, the Gap
Fired for: “Failure to meet harsh requirements of a 15-hour workweek.”

asshat

Jeff regretted two things; the bowling balls in his backpack and the flag he had eaten at the last protest.

Petitions Signed:
– Vegan Co-op Bill of Rights
– Initiative for Continued Use of Inflated/Imaginary Statistics
– Animal Testing Ban at Purina, Iams
– Di-hydrogen Monoxide Ban
– Tax the Rich (More)
– The Berkeley Womandate
– Free Market Expansion
– Save the Seagoing Mammals
– Increase Our Double-Standard of Living Now!
– Free Leonard Peltier
– Free Everything for Jobless Slackers
– Repeal the Death Penalty
– Death Penalty for Corporate Polluters
– Mandatory 15-Hour Workweek

Unusually tall leprechauns protest lack of adequate charm protection.

Unusually tall leprechauns protest lack of adequate charm protection.

Quotes from roommates, employers, family:
– “And now you’re homeless. Hope that’s ‘oppressive’ enough for you. Gather up your shit and your empathy and get the fuck out.”
– “I’ve seen more mental and physical activities in coma victims.”
– “Unlike you, the housework isn’t going to spend all evening ‘doing itself.'”
– “A ‘free market’ refers to unfettered capitalism, you retard. It has nothing to adjusting goods and services prices down to $0.”
– “Just a pointer for your next interview: try to wear something that isn’t tie-dyed or covered in marijuana leaves.”
– “You’re lucky most of the reflexes and motions needed to keep you alive are involuntary.”
– “Maybe you should start your own business in the fragrance industry. You could start with ‘Lazy Ass,’ a heady blend of patchouli, bongwater, sweaty dreadlocks and failure.”
– “Ah… spending the day ‘fighting the power’ from the couch again, I see.”
– “Your political views and sexual inadequacies are swiftly turning me into that rarest of creatures, the lesbian Republican.”
– “You are aware, ‘sir,’ that we do have a pre-employment urine screening policy.”
– “I just really, really want to punch you in the face right now.”
– “Ah, ‘sticking it to the man’ by failing to show up for work again. Right on, bro.”
– “In all my years running this commune, I am proud that I have been able to bring out the best in every member. I guess every streak has to end…”

Best case scenario: another Ralph Nader.

Unfortunately, this will be another bus/bike-riding busybody who’s going to save the world through their bold plan of making hemp bracelets and growing some vegetables in a window box.

Truly useless, these disenfranchised youths will spend several (if not all) of their years living off other people’s money: mom and dad, roommates, taxpayers. By solely choosing to spend a majority of their time breathing, they have already taken more from the world than they can ever hope to give back.

With their bold stances and corporate logos, they unite to push the developed world back into third world conditions and the third world back into the Stone Age through a ridiculous set of standards and complete disregard for the welfare of their fellow man. Somehow making the world more difficult to live in makes it “better.”

They rail against the fundamental right for its imposition of a belief system while loudly proclaiming the inferiority of nearly every person around them for failing to lockstep into an “Earth First, Humans Last” ideology.

All hail the white male protester, the odd man out in the Benetton tapestry that is the world. Consumed by liberal guilt, one can only hope that he continues to toss his vote in the Green Party trashcan every four years and gets run over by the very bus he’s waiting for before he can do any lasting damage.

So, go ahead, you fucking jackass. Break that window. Maybe you can be part of that perfect, random act of kindness: the beating given to you by an overworked and underpaid cop may give him a reason to smile today.

-CLT

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Profiles in Randomness: Roberto

July 4, 2009
Roberto, pictured here with beloved friend and longtime companion, his Stabbing Knife

Roberto, pictured here with beloved friend and longtime companion, his Stabbing Knife

One of the all-time great minor characters from anywhere at any time, Futurama’s Roberto is a stabbing robot. This is not a malfunction or distressing sign of sentience, but rather his whole purpose. Evidence exists in this clip, in which Roberto (and Bender) are both in line for a compliance upgrade, to better mesh with Mom’s (a worldwide monopoly) new 1-X Robot.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/69647/futurama-going-for-an-upgrade

Another appearance has him sharing a room with Fry at the local insane robot facility and terrorizing him all night long by practicing his stabbing.

How insane is he? Bender and Fry run into him while in line at the bank, which Roberto decides to rob (again).
Bender: I like your style. Robbing the same bank twice. Classy.
Roberto: The first time was to just case the joint and rob it a little.

And, of course, this interjection: You’re not made of Tuesday!

As is my style, I have completely and shamelessly co-opted Roberto’s love of stabbing to serve as shorthand for the irritants in life which make me feel a tad homicidal. Without further ado, an incomplete and disorganized list of the things in life that make me reach for my “stabbing knife:”

  • Centerfield by John Fogerty
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band
  • Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders
  • Barbie Girl by Aqua
  • Nearly every piece of mainstream country that has been released in the last 10 years
  • Nickelback
  • Any time Bono opines about anything
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Child actors
  • Menthol cigarettes
  • Patrons who order complicated drinks in establishments that serve their drinks in plastic cups
  • Birthday songs in chain restaurants
  • The RIAA and ASCAP
  • People who have decided their pot usage is a “lifestyle choice” and are now sticking it to the man by being underemployed for life
  • Overuse of current slang, ironic or not
  • The ethanol lobby, in charge of lightening your wallet, breaking your car and shoving your food supply into your gas tank
  • Militant anti-smokers
  • Moral panics
  • People who get “outraged” at pretty much everything
  • Fox News – just because you’re louder doesn’t mean you’re correct
  • Jay Leno
  • The TSA (“They took my stabbing clippers!”) and anything other elements of our blossoming police state, all done under the guise of the “War on Terror”
  • Nearly every motherfucker in Washington, DC (except this guy, who has never taken an earmark)
  • Wacky morning DJs
  • The “comedians” of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour
  • The frat boy mentality
  • The New York Yankees
  • Warning labels
  • Paul Ehrlich

Feel free to add your own particular triggers in the comments. I’d love to see what you hate…

-CLT

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Man vs. Nature v.2

June 3, 2009
Signs that you are suffering from a black widow bite: 1. You have been asked to make significant changes to your will...

Signs that you are suffering from a black widow bite: 1. You have been asked to make significant changes to your will...

In the previous installment, we discussed nature vs. me in my current life. (This discussion, you’ll note, was much like any discussion with management. Mainly me talking and you listening or thinking of something else.)

Nature is a different kind of problem where I grew up.

El Paso, Texas.

It climate mirrors most of Arizona. Wrath of God heat. It never rains. When it does rain, it clogs the drain systems which were built on the assumption that “it never rains,” and, consequently have the capacity to hold between 0-1″ of rainwater.

Unlike Arizona, however, El Paso has yet to put together a quality online university or a 9-7 Super Bowl quality football team. We’ve also certainly never had a Hall of Fame bag boy for a franchise quarterback. And it goes without saying that we’ve never had a 38-year old quarterback who managed to throw his way out of Mike Martz’s “defense is for pussies” scheme and into Arizonian folklore.

Perhaps the turning point was Warner’s divorce of Susan Powter

brendawarner

Honey??!! Some of your fingernails are in my brain.

and subsequent marriage to a woman with fewer testicles than him.

NFL/

Honey??!! Your testicle is making it hard for me to breathe.

He’s become a legendary figure like Paul Bunyan or Andre the Giant. Cue NFL Film’s narration:

Kurt Warner. Raised in the northern Iowa wilderness by panthers, Warner would continue on to try out for the Green Bay Packers. Unable to read Brett Favre’s career intentions, Warner would settle on a much safer position, that of bag boy at the local Hyvee.

Even the 2nd shift manager knew they had something special, as Kurt would routinely hurl customers’ groceries 50+ yards into their open trunks. Still coasting on the cries of, “What an arm!” and “My eggs!” Kurt took his skills to the claustrophobic climes of football’s top arena: arena football.

Kurt’s success at the arena level was unparalleled. He led his Iowa Subisidies to victory after victory, with final scores that frequently rivalled NBA games. It was during this time that he married Susan Powter, an on-the-fence lesbian. He swept her off her experimenting feet, promising that, “Once you go bag, you never go back.”

Powter became known as the architect of Warner’s future and was frequently referred to, out loud, as “tough as nails,” due to her arm wrestling matches with Lenny Dykstra. During this time, Warner signed with the non-L.A. Rams and proceeded to tear every page out of their record books. These were subsequently replaced with new pages and the amount of the replacement docked from his suddenly hefty paycheck…

Anyway, nature.

El Paso fucking Texas. Scorpions, spiders, centipedes and snakes. You’d hear the horror stories. Jars over bed legs to keep the scorpions and centipedes from joining you in bed like a drunken frat boy with the clap. Aggressive black widow spiders who would bite you just for reaching into an area you couldn’t see clearly and settle back to collect the sizable inheritance. Snakes that would winter in your heating vents, complaining about how their hundred of kids wouldn’t visit.

We are legion. And we are rad-resistant.

We are legion. And we are rad-resistant.

But of all the horrors, nothing compares to the fucking roaches. Omnipresent. Fast. And so fucking many of them.

Did you know roaches will climb walls when they know they’re dying? Who knows why? Some leftover instinct from their early days as sun worshippers? Or perhaps their small brains figure everything trying to kill them is a flood?

We did not realize this until we bug-bombed our house. You could hear them falling off the ceiling. Hitting the lineoleum like the world’s smallest self-contained hailstorm.

And they’re immune to everything. Those that survived our bombing run would live on to sneer at the next gas attack.

They still haven’t figured out how to defeat their old nemesis, the shoe, however. But that day’s coming. Then they’ll be back, going all inner city youth on us, a couple hundred thousand strong, stealing our shoes. And coming back for our wallets and jewelry.

Just remember, if that crazy guy is right, and not simply raving to himself, beware of the apocalypse. It will be the survivors versus the roaches and they already have us outnumbered.

-CLT

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Man vs. Nature

June 1, 2009
The age old story: Nature-loving biker vs. whatever the fuck that thing is.

The age old story: Nature-loving biker vs. whatever the fuck that thing is.

During my drive to work, I am given the opportunity to hit any number of God’s creatures. Humble little daredevils, who, despite me piloting the only vehicle in miles, wait until the last possible second to hurl themselves under my wheels.

Some might view this as a natural result of man’s imposition on nature. After all, they were here first. (Unless you’re a creationist, in which case they had around 3-5 days to stake a claim.)

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they were here for millions of years previous to my drive to work. What have they done with the place? It’s overgrown with weeds and 6-foot high grass. There’s no indoor plumbing. Their roads are little more than 1-foot wide sections of beaten down grass. They’re way behind in arts, literature and major sciences. They routinely blow punchlines and they can’t hold their alcohol.

And it’s not as if I’m leaving the road to hit them, chasing them down and pinning them up against trees and rocks. Say I do take a sudden 70 mph 90-degree left-hand turn to avoid Mr. Raccoon, whose several million years of development have coalesced into this split-second decision to run for it.

My vehicle ends up in the ditch. I go to the hospital. Is the raccoon going to hold a benefit to make sure I can continue living the way I had been? Will there be a candlelight vigil in case the medical attention isn’t enough? Will they post flowers at my “X” on the side of the road, to be admired by other drivers who will whisper “Jackass,” under their breath as they drive by?

Fuck no. It’s just going to continue across the highway to terrorize someone’s chickens or raid their trashcan.

I honestly don’t think we’re hunting enough. The deer are out there, too. 600 pound animals who have shown the startling ability to appear out of nowhere and attempt to blankly stare down approaching vehicles. What kind of survival instinct is that? Is this the thought process?

“Something’s coming. Sounds like 120 horses. Running on all four cylinders. Might be dangerous. 120 horses can be very heavy. Perhaps I should flag down this oncoming vehicle for more information.”

I’ll swerve to avoid a deer. That’s a 50/50 bet. Same thing for a stray cow.

We do this. A lot. Life is good.

We do this. A lot. Life is good.

Nature.

Cows. Cows just stand around doing their cow thing of standing around. Good thing they have that whole “beef” thing going for them.

Pigs. Like cows, only stinkier. Again with the food angle. Apparently very intelligent but they hide it very well. You may be the next Einstein, but if you smell like that and spend most of your time wallowing in your own filth, no one will ever know. Ask Will Hunting.

Deer. Best friend of auto body shops everywhere. I swear to God I’ve seen some with 800 numbers and logos branded in to them. They probably even pass out business cards before expiring.

Goats. The fuck is up with them? If you hate everything you own, get a goat. Perfect bitter divorce partner. They’ll eat everything that isn’t nailed down. Then they’ll eat the nails. At that point, nothing is nailed down. See Step 1. “You wanted 1/2 of what exactly, honey?”

Raccoons. Nature’s dumpster diver. Smart and tenacious. Feed them once and they’ll pry off your screen looking for more. Best bet: feed ’em sugar cubes. They wash their food before eating it. The comedy writes itself.

Bears. Whoops. Didn’t see that cub there, did you? That’s because nature is very good at hiding. Now you’re missing a couple of limbs and most of your face. Good thing you have your unicycle.

Horses. Useful for measuring vehicle power and wowing 8-year-old girls. The same thing could be said for Hannah Montana or shiny play jewelry. (Yep. This Hemi cranks out 185 Montana’s which is the equivalent of the compressed lung power of 25,000 screaming tweens.)

Dogs. Supposedly man’s best friend, but it only seems to be that way when 1.) I’m cooking something or 2.) it wishes to express its pleasure in my return from work by peeing all over my shoe.

Cats. If I want that sort of disdain from another living creature, I just have to wait until my kids hit their teenage years.

Keep your distance, nature. That’s all I’m asking. Don’t make us drop the “p” from “preservation” unless you all want to be bundled up and shipped to the ass-end of the United States, where your new lives will consist of alcoholism, legalized gambling and multi-colored government housing. It’s not like we haven’t done it to a native species before.

-CLT

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Architecture: An Interpretive Dance in Eight Parts

May 6, 2009
Lord help me, I hate this band.

Lord help me, I hate this band.

As a former DJ and constant music fan, I just thought I’d waste your time with some things I find depressing, annoying or just confusing.

Classic Rock
I know a lot of people who are classic rock fans but seem to only be interested in the outer surface. Their CD collections will contain Bread, Meatloaf, lots of Lynyrd Skynrd, Molly Hatchet, Billy Squier, Journey, etc., but nothing from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. Not to make the automatic assumption that the listed bands are worse (although they are) but that ignoring some of the greatest classic rock bands seems almost criminal.

The Beatles
Yeah, they were awesome. I just really don’t care for 90% of their output and that do-gooding sonofabitch Paul McCartney’s insistence on staying alive and producing weak music certainly isn’t helping.

mp3 Collections
Nothing wrong with them. I have a huge one. But with all the music out there, how come some peoples’ collections look like the playlist for the last 20 years of radio? There are millions of gigabytes of music out there but their players make me believe that they’ll never enjoy life as much as they did in high school.

Van Halen
See also Classic Rock, mp3. Who are you people who insist that Van Halen improved once they ditched the only member with a personality? I can’t see it, unless Haggar just tapped into the zeitgeist that was clamoring for more power ballads. See also: Aerosmith – the Armageddon years. (Note to Aerosmith: If your name isn’t Lynyrd Skynrd then country “artists” shouldn’t feel comfortable covering you.)

DJs/Electronica Artists’ Full-Length Albums
Why do godawesome DJs insist on delivering shitty full-length albums with radio-friendly four-minute tracks and flavor-of-the-week guest vocalists? The mainstream isn’t what brought you your success, so stop pissing off your actual fans while polishing turd (featuring T-I!) after turd (featuring Rhianna!) in an attempt to impress the easily-impressed.

It’s a little like heading to the club and watching your favorite DJ turn on the radio.

Case(s) in point: Timo Maas, any album past their first three for both the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, Paul Oakenfold, the Crystal Method.

Possible exception: the Brighton Port Authority, Fatboy Slim’s new supergroup. His/their debut album features some standout tracks featuring David Byrne (Toe Jam), Iggy Pop (He’s Frank) and Ashley Beedle (Should I Stay or Should I Blow?)

People Who “Don’t Get” Rap
Don’t worry about it, no one’s trying to sell it to you. There are plenty of others willing to pick up your slack. I’m not a huge fan myself, but I don’t wear everyone out with my insistence that it’s not a viable art form. Especially when the entire argument is wholly encompassed in this dandy of a line: “I just don’t get that rap crap.”

For instance, I don’t really care for classical music. Millions of people love it. Millions more pretend they do so they don’t get labeled Philistines. But I would never sum it up with something pithy like, “Whatever. But I don’t see them putting out anything new.”

I Don’t Get Jazz
I just don’t. People have tried to turn me on to it with basically the same persuasive arguments they use to try to get me to drink beer. “You haven’t tried the right beer/band.” “You’d like it if you drank/listened to more of it.” “Drink/listen to it for awhile and you’ll get used to it.”

I’m sure all these beer/jazz arguments also work for anything unpleasant like roadkill removal or terminal diseases.

Music Genres I Think I Like More Than I Actually Do

Prog Rock
Reading reviews and hearing a few select tunes has made me think this would be right up my alley. After all, I like a lot of space rock and that’s pretty much right in the ballpark. I really like the individual members of King Crimson but collectively most of their output sounds like several instruments in search of a tune.

This leads me to believe that proficiency does not equal listenablilty. (It’s a word. It’s my word.) It’s like several gifted musicians all doing their own thing.

I’d much rather listen to bands whose musical fundamentals are severely limited. Like the Jesus and Mary Chain, who shoved one guitar through an amp and made as much noise as they could with the others. Or Suicide, who set their synths and drum machines to stun and wandered around picking fights with their audience. Or, to bring things up to date, A Place to Bury Strangers (JAMC followers) and We Are Wolves (somewhere between Suicide and Death From Above 1979).

And as for the space rock, Hawkwind may be great and all, but they too often (especially in the live recordings) sound like a less-focused Grateful Dead. With more flute.

Electro
There are a million bedroom producers creating a million electro tracks. Some are fucking awesome (i-f’s Space Invaders are Smoking Grass, Westbam’s Agharta, Solvent’s My Radio, Zombie Zombie’s entire album A Land for Renegades) but most are a cliche casserole of clicks, bleeps and deadpan vocals. But I’ll still read some blog somewhere that will say nothing more than “Awesome electro track!!!” and away I go.

the Fall
Not really a genre, but prolific enough they could be one. I love Mark E. Smith’s delivery and his lyrics can be amazing, but I think the danger lies in the fact that they’ve released 1,392 albums over the last 30 years. There’s got to be something that could have been scrapped or left in the vault. But as a blogger, I totally get the mentality that “if I created it, it should be released.” See also: Guided by Voices, Prince.

Krautrock
As a theoretical fan of prog rock and an actual fan of repetitive beats, you’d think this would be right up my alley. But with the exception of a handful of tracks by Neu!, I honestly can’t say I’m impressed.

Some of the more contemporary artists, carrying on the proud German tradition of making sterile, emotionless music, have caught my ear. Fujiya and Miyagi’s Ankle Injuries, Stereolab & Nurse with Wound’s Simple Headphone Mind and a few tracks from Death in Vegas’ Satan’s Circus.

It just doesn’t click with me often enough. I can handle 13 minutes of 303-noodling in Laurent Garnier’s Acid Eiffel, but not 13 minutes of drum lessons from Can.

Go figure.

-CLT

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RIAA, Jack Ely Team Up to Deprive Themselves of Last Remaining Promotional Tool

May 5, 2009
Jack Ely shows off guitar, false sense of entitlement

Jack Ely shows off guitar, false sense of entitlement

It must be another day ending in “y” if the RIAA is on the attack again. Once again, they’re headed after the radio stations. The same radio stations that the labels got in trouble for paying to get their records played. Apparently, their only remaining means of promotion isn’t good enough.

Things used to be great for the recording industry. They donned their sandpaper dildo and proceeded to fuck each and every artist and fan out there. Then things changed. Used CD stores opened. P2P took off. Artists defected.

Now the sandpaper is in the other anus and the RIAA is feeling the “love” that they have worked so hard to create. So they have responded the only way they know how. By pressing the “Release the Lawyers” button. Now this will all come to a head as two lobbying groups and their lawyers meet in Washington D.C., the ultimate Pyrrhic battlefield.

And who have the RIAA trotted out to tug at the heartstrings of the uninformed? None other than Jack Ely, whose claim to 15 minutes was being the frontmouth of the Kingsmen’s 1963 hit, Louie Louie. Jack’s complaining that he’s not receiving any money from repeated airplay of the hit single.

First things fucking last: He didn’t write the song. Richard Berry did and he owns the rights. By Ely’s logic, the guitarist, drummer, bassist, sound engineer, producer, internist and studio janitor should all be getting a piece of the action. After all, they all were present during the recording.

2. Jack was paid $5000 for his work on this song. I get paid hourly wages at my job, working on a patented tarp system. Just because I am an integral part of the whole assembly team doesn’t mean that I should be picking up residuals from every sale, especially 44 years after working there.

Jack, if you didn’t like what you were being paid, the time to bitch about it would have been 40+ years ago, at the time of payment. Get your fucking head out of the “I’m retired, give me free money,” mindset.

3. Jack’s bitching because he and his wife have to live on $30,000 a year and they “have a mortgage to pay off.” A mobile home mortgage, to be exact.

Fuck you, buddy. I have a family of five to support and will gross a little over $40,000 this year. I have a mortgage to pay off. On a house with no wheels. Keep in mind that I’m still working and providing you with free social security money.

Yeah, your life sucks, former Kingsmen vocalist.

4. You didn’t write the song. You. Did. Not. Write. The. Song. It’s not “your” song. You were simply a tool used to assemble a novelty hit. If you hadn’t done it, someone else would have. It couldn’t have been that tough, seeing as it is one of the most covered songs in rock history. And most cover bands aren’t looking for songs with steep learning curves.

Jack Ely (center), former Kingsmen vocalist, know for his adequate singing talent and incessant "life isn't fair" whining

Jack Ely (center), former Kingsmen vocalist, know for his adequate singing and "life isn't fair" attitude

If you’re not happy with the hired gun money you made, go fuck yourself. You had your chance. I fail to see how it’s the radio station’s fault that you have the negotiating skills of a Ritalin-addled six year old.

Sure, the RIAA is primed for a “multi-year battle,” no doubt urged on by the hourly-billing lawyers. Maybe once they’re done crippling the radio stations and further destroying their already limited future, they’ll head after any marching band who’s done a blaring, atonal rendition of “Louie, Louie.” (For those keeping score at home, that would be every single marching band ever.)

The RIAA has already proved they’re not above dragging 10-year old kids and octogenarians into court, so I’m sure they’ll have no qualms about beating up schoolkids for their lunch money. And once they’re done fucking everyone else out of their money, they’ll resume fucking every artist they represent out of their share.

Postscript: while searching for more info, I came across this interesting post from Jack Ely at mog.com. And by interesting, I mean hypocritical.

And I quote:

The solution is to give the world all the free music it wants, but to give the recording entity, whether it be a record company or a producer, or whomever, a cut of every live performance.

He’s dead on about live performances picking up the revenue slack of file-sharing, but when did he decide that a 44-year-old recording was supposed to finance his golden years?

-CLT

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The Government: Too Big to Succeed

May 3, 2009

googleharm_whitehouse

The more I hear, read or otherwise absorb about our government, the sicker I get. Over the course of my lifetime, our representatives have been quickly shedding the pretense of being their constituents’ voice in Washington.

At this point, the entire process has gone off the rails. Here are some suggestions for fixing it:

Term Limits
They’ve slapped one on the highest power in the U.S. ever since FDR refused to die until his fourth term. But for some reason, senators and congressmen are allowed to hold the same damn position for 20, 30, 40+ years.

I’m not sure what this says about their constituents (other than they’d rather not have to change their “angry citizen tirade” letterhead), but let’s just get a new set of ripoff artists into the seats every 6-8 years.

This should motivate any worldbeaters to do more than piss their time away with motions recognizing local heroes (“James Klum, for setting a new meet record at the district II-AA regional quarterfinals…”) and spend more time actually improving their nation. This will also limit the damage done by special interest whores with a career-politician mentality.

Eliminate Automatic Pay Raises
Currently, to be eligible for a bump in pay, all a Congressman or Senator needs to do is sit home and wait for the automatic pay raise to sail through uncontested. Understandably, this day is chosen by the D.C. janitorial system to do a deep cleaning of the usually congested area.

Pay raises should be instituted only upon reelection. Better yet, let your constituents vote on your yearly pay raise. I guarantee most government employees would select the former rather than leave it in the hands of the same people they’re pissing off.

End the War on Drugs
I’m not going to spend much time rehashing everything that’s wrong with this dismal failure. So far, the only purposes it serves is to ensure a healthy income for foreign drug lords and a steady incarceration of stoners.

Revamp the Legislative System
Open any major bill to a public vote. Better yet, allow each state to vote separately. This one-size-fucks-all form of legislating is making a mockery of the word “representative.” Certainly, this will keep a lot of pork from being shoved into the bills’ ILBs. Plus, the government really needs to learn to trust its citizens, rather than following the normal “Uncle Sam’s Day Care for Adults” line of thinking.

Campaign Contribution Transparency
Yeah, this is in place already but who is really going to spend the time researching all of these names and trying to connect the dots. My suggestion is that each candidate be given a NASCAR type jumpsuit on which to sew the logos of each major corporation/special interest group that has donated above a certain dollar amount to them. These logos should also be applied to their campaign vehicles. Once another higher dollar amount has been met, any televised speech/debate should have a mandatory introduction a la this: “Republican Congressional Candidate A, brought to you by Enron, Mobil and a special grant from Philip Morris.”

It’s time to let the people know who you really represent. If elected, the jumpsuit stays on.

Government Employees
Effective immediately, via a speech from Alec Baldwin, all employees have one week left to work. Make them earn their jobs back. Nothing is more crippled than the multi-billion dollar collection of lazy, underqualified, bureaucratic hacks we call public service. And while we’re at it, tear the budgeting system a new asshole. No more of this “use the rest of the budget or we won’t get it next year” bullshit. More wasteful and useless programs have been created and abandoned just to make sure the hole receives the same amount of discarded money from year to year.

To sum up: you’re all fired and have one week to prove you’re worth something. Your new budget is $0. Try to keep it as close to that as possible.

-CLT