Thursday, January 02, 2003

Pejman points to this review of “Gangs of New York” by Allen Bara, who has this to say of the details of the film:

During the real riots, mobs, largely composed of Irish immigrants, swarmed out of the Bowery and surrounding areas and attacked and lynched blacks who, they were told by pro-Confederate agents, would be taking their jobs if they were forced into uniform. Mr. Scorsese's fudging on this matter is disgraceful. Only a few blacks are depicted, a couple of them friends of the sympathetic Irish gangsters. The lynchings and the attack on a black orphanage by the mobs are passed over so quickly that it's impossible to tell who's attacking whom. The Confederate agents are conspicuously absent. Mr. Scorsese further pollutes the historical record by equating the mob--whose rage was fueled by valid grievances--with the street gangs' organized thugs.

Yes, there were a number of historical inaccuracies, which happen to be dangerous only for the fact that there are some people out there who watch films thinking that they’re getting a trustworthy history lesson. “Braveheart”, “Elizabeth”, “Michael Collins”, etc. etc. All of these films, at one point or another, made flimsy use of the truth. There’s a difference that should be noted about “Gangs”, however. It’s based on a novel. Sure, canons were not fired by the Navy on New York during the Draft Riots. Yeah, Irish immigrants didn’t exactly make best friends with blacks. And right on, Union soldiers were hardly “instruments of oppression”. In that regard, let’s also take a moment to note that records indicate no such orphan named “Oliver Twist” living in London at any point during the 1800’s, travel by “great glass elevator” is impossible, and nobody named “Edmond Dantes” from Marseille is known to have impersonated an Italian priest or taken the title of the Count of Monte Cristo. It’s fiction. People take liberties.

Because it's a slow day around here....

Which David Lynch movie are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

(Thanks, Sasha)

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, today put the official disbanding of the IRA on to the negotiating table as condition for the resumption of the Northern Ireland assembly.

All nice and good, except they won't disband, certainly not on the order of David Trimble. Atta way to hand the assembly over to Doctor Paisley and his bigotted minions in the DUP.

It would seem that today is Let's Conjure Up Painfully Grotesque Images of Idiotarian Commentators Doing Weird Things With Their Asses Day.

Evidence here and here.

The last time I made a new year's resolution, I resolved to never make another resolution. I broke that resolution this year by resolving to quit smoking. I broke that resolution in just over 24 hours. Ah vice, my Dark Captor.


The first Class-A moron of the year:

A Montana man who legally changed his name to "Jack Ass" in 1997 has sued media giant Viacom Inc., claiming its stunt-heavy, gross-out TV show and movie "Jackass" had defamed his character.

Wait. It gets funnier.

In a suit filed in November in Montana and posted this week on a legal Web site, Jack Ass, who said he changed his name to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.

And the cherry on top:

The suit asks for damages of $10 million or more. Jack Ass is representing himself.

The best predictions for the new year I've seen.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Morning After Round-up:

-Ouch. Why did I drink so much?
-After this morning's inevitable toilet-side "cough", I have to ask: what in the hell did I eat last night?
-How did I end up with a copy of The Super Saver Series presents REO Speedwagon Live! in my car? So far, no one will confess ownership, so if anyone would like it, email me your name and address and I'll be happy to send it along, since until the unlikely day that someone steals all of my drink coasters, I have no use for it.
-I can vaguely remember deciding near 3 AM that I was finally going to get around to organizing my books. Apparently I lost interest about the the time that the last book was taken off of the shelves and thrown in an enormous pile on the floor. Why did I do that?
-Who wrote "I hate New Jersey" in soap on my bathroom mirror?
-Do you know how long it takes to wash soap off of a mirror?

That's about as much as I can muster with the Earth spinning around so quick and all. Happy New Year everybody. I hope y'all had fun. I think I did.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Given that, much like a number of other blogs, GWAC will be celebrating its one year anniversary in a few weeks, I’d like to take a moment to offer special Happy New Year wishes to the following folks, many of whom helped me first get this thing off the ground:

Juan Gato – The first guy ever to link me. Self-deprecation suits you. Please don’t ever stop.

Peter Briffa – Dude, next time close your mouth. May 2003 be mice-free.

Pejman – may 2003 see you grow an inch or four. Thanks for being a pal during the tough times.

“O’McSomething” – my funnest of political adversaries, get busy already before I reveal the URL address of your new yet pathetically neglected blog.

BC Monkey – it’s about time you got back to work. Slack off again, and I’ll force you to drink American beer. The worst kind.

Tyler – here’s to a 2003 of great surf.

Patrick Martin – My favorite Fenian bastard, and I mean that in the most endearing way.

Scott and Brooke – a most disgustingly cute couple. Here’s to the brightest future!

The Axis of Weevil – special greetings to all current and ex Bama dwellers!

Damian Penny – the smartest and sexiest Newfie ever and one of GWAC’s first supporters.

David Janes – slightly less sexier ex-Newfie but only by virtue of existence wife and kid.

Dr. Frank – Another one of the first big timers to support me when I was getting started. Thanks! Everybody go buy a Mr. T Experience album right now or I will have you killed. If you don’t like it, it’s because you’re stupid.

Mike - Belmont. Playboys. L.A. 2003. That’s an order.

Sasha and Andrew – all my best wishes. I hope you like London, Sasha.

Jim Treacher – I want to have your babies.

The Portadown News – making mercilessly “taking the piss” out of people, as yousuns would say, seem adorably funny.

Kathy Kinsley – the coolest bellicose woman ever.

Stephen Green, a.k.a. Vodkapundit – Congrats on the nups, the new house, and all the success. But remember, good man, ‘twas I who was pelting you with toast in the Arcata Theater back when you were nobody.

There are hundreds more blogs and bloggers that I love and read often. Best wishes to every last one of you, even if I’m too lazy to name you all here.

And thanks to regular comments contributors and correspondents Neil D., Mark from Monroe, Kevin Morrison, NeilVanEerde of Sunny Florida, Carrie (may I continue to make you homesick!) and dozens of others that I can’t think of at the moment but are no less important. You guys are what makes this fun enough to keep it up.

That’s it for me until 2003. I’m going to work my buns off to leave the office early and get to more important things, like drinking, debauchery, and adhering to my personal motto: “it’s only illegal if a cop saw you do it”. Happy New Year, everybody. Have fun. Go party. Be safe.

I’ll expect you all back next year in one piece.

And to further demonstrate their commitment to the peace process....

A report in a Sunday newspaper claimed that, despite two decommissioning moves by the Provos, the IRA is reckoned to still have enough weapons to equip the equivalent of three infantry battalions of around 1,500 men.

The report also quoted security sources as saying the IRA is actively involved in training and spying in addition to punishment beatings and protection rackets.

The claims follow the recent disclosure of a confidential Government document which said the IRA was still recruiting, training and gathering intelligence information for "defensive purposes".

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin says there's no justification for violence.

(Both links found via Newshound)

Monday, December 30, 2002

"Punk was being the only one with short hair in your high school, being beaten up by Boston fans calling you 'Devo.'" - Dr. Frank

Of course, by the time my day came around, punk meant you were one of the only white kids in your high school, being taunted by people who argued that Paula Abdul was the next Madonna calling you guerra. All of this in spite of the fact that my high school was the birthplace of punk legends like Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and Redd Kross. If anybody had told me back then that it would be a marketable commodity...that this guy called Carson Daly would be interviewing punk bands on some MTV show called "TRL" (the best we got was "120 Minutes", on Sunday nights from midnight until 2 am) while thirteen year old girls screeched in the background, flapping signs around that said "BILLIE JOE! I LOVE YOU!" I would have laughed my ass off and told them they were more full of shit than a New York City sewer.

Then again, you could argue that none of the stuff you see today could really, truly be called "punk".

Anyway, it's no surprise that the dude responsbile for that quote above has written the best post-Strummer, post I've read so far.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

One hit a pregnant teacher, another exposed himself and another stabbed a classmate with a pencil.

Gang-bangers at the toughest school in the Bronx or South Central L.A.? Nope! Kindergarteners in Philadelphia! Snot-faced teeter-totter mongers! How do we deal with these weenie brats? Suspend them! But not everybody thinks that's the right thing to do. Guess who doesn't? Child psychologists!

Walter Gilliam, a child psychologist at Yale University's Child Study Center, said he doubts young children make the connection between an action in school and the ensuing suspension, which can last 10 days.

I probably wouldn't have "made the connection" either at that age. At least not right away. I imagine the "connection" would have been made about the time that my father's belt hit my backside.

"I think it's a bad move, because it absolves the school from feeling that it's necessary to deal with that problem within the school building. You push it out to the community, you push it out to the family home, and that's where it started to begin with," Gilliam said.

So what if it's "pushed to the community" or the family? At least it's not pushed to the school. Schools are supposed to teach children. Parents are supposed to civilize them. Part of the reason American kids are getting dumber is because schools are entertaining this kind of idea. A small amount of discipline is to be expected from teachers and administrators, but kids that wave their hoo-hoos in people's faces deserved to get their butts tossed out on the sidewalk. Stop listening to these hack-job shrink-dinks who have to invent disorders for their paychecks while writing books called Why is Johnny Such a Horrendous Little Bastard: A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Self-Esteem.

Kids are ignorant and uncivilized, but they're not entirely stupid. They know how much they can get away with. If it is made clear that bad behavior will not be tolerated, they'll be less likely to act on it. Maybe then teachers can get back to the business of teaching kids how to spell. Maybe if we got rid of half of these moronic psychologists who peddle self-esteem (i.e. self-absorbtion) as healthy development, we'd make fewer excuses about why our public school system is failing our kids. And maybe if Johnny was taught more about esteem for others, he wouldn't be as inclined to stab them with his writing utensils.

A certain fellow wondered a while back why "right-wing American bloggers" have so eagerly turned poor Matthew Engel into such a celebrated whipping boy. Well, Harry, since you asked, as a special pre-New Year's treat, I've rounded up some of Mr. Engel's gems from the last year:

Sure, there is a hardcore who share the widespread European view that the president is a dangerous chump incapable of simultaneously chewing a pretzel and watching TV.
January 23, 2002

Bush is dumb!

Of course, Birmingham has an elite who travel all over Europe. But only one-sixth of all Americans possess a passport, and in Alabama the proportion is much lower. One suspects the European geography of many people here goes no further than the playground rhyme:
"I see London, I see France
I see ------- in her underpants."

February 26, 2002

What's "France"?

There are virtually no pro-Palestinian voices in the US media and there are no votes worth counting in being pro-Palestinian.
April 23, 2002

That's a lie.

The most famous of the 27 amendments to the US constitution is probably the fifth, which gives people the right to avoid self-incrimination. Americans plead it regularly, thus effectively incriminating themselves.
May 14, 2002

Not it's not, no we don't (since most of us will never be arrested or charged with a crime), and no it doesn't.

All this fruit is huge: no small child can finish one at a sitting. (Oh, OK, a cherry, maybe.) The apples all shimmer like celebs at a premiere, because they are given a shiny coating with carnauba wax (also used in shoe polish) or shellac (a resin secreted by an Asian beetle). The strawberries are cheap, even though they have travelled across the continent, because the pickers are paid diddly-squat. The tomatoes? Most Americans - maybe most Britons too - no longer know how a tomato is meant to taste.
June 4, 2002

America: land of oversized bananas. Where the hell is this guy shopping?

It is mildly gratifying for a small nation, otherwise pathetic enough to regard football matches as the major benchmark of national self-esteem, to be a world leader at anything at all, especially in an American-invented sport like spin-doctoring (the term is believed to date back to the Reagan-Mondale debates of 1984).
June 18, 2002

America didn't invent spin-doctoring. It's as old as politics itself.

The president does set an example by shoving off for ages, which also has the advantage of cutting down the chances of him doing something entirely absurd and dangerous…It is all part of the unfolding psycho-tragicomedy that is unfolding round this presidency. It may also be part of his commitment to global warming.
August 13, 2002

Bush is dumb and he wants to destroy the planet!

As we saw when the president's jet zigzagged across the country in the hours after the attacks, members of the ruling elite are concerned about the safety of all Americans, but somewhat more concerned about their own.
August 20, 2002

I know. What a stupid idea to have national leaders safe and in place at a time of crisis. What a bunch of selfish bastards.

Not many foreign news stories break through the Americans' carapace into the mainstream mass media. By that, I mean the papers and TV stations seen by most people, not just CNN and the New York Times. And by foreign stories, I mean stories solely about foreigners that do not involve the United States' interaction (if that is the word) with the rest of the planet.
August 27, 2002

That's cuz wes ignant, Mr. Engel. Oh yeah, and here's the world section from my little local. And the L.A. Times. And the Atlanta Constitution. And the Seattle Times. You get the picture.

UPDATE: Don't click on the link to my little local. I've recently been told it won't take you to the site I intended, but rather the U.S. map that intros the AP wire. Who says Americans have no sense of irony?

In this same column, Engel also asks “Whatever happened to childhood?” Answer: childhood devoid of worry, hard work, and even the grave likelihood of early death is a 20th century invention. If anything, childhood has only gotten easier.

Vaguely under cover, the writer Barbara Ehrenreich went out into low-wage America a couple of years back, and did a series of menial jobs - waitressing, scrubbing, selling - for wages above starvation levels for anyone who didn't care what they ate or whether they had a home or not. As a waitress in Key West, Florida, she was paid $2.15 an hour
September 10, 2002

And she made how much in tips?

It is not an unfamiliar view in a country of biblical fundamentalists; it is slightly surprising to find the judicial mindset that allowed the US to have first slavery, and then segregation, still at the very heart of government.
October 1, 2002

The Bush regime still thinks slavery is groovy. Uh-huh.

There might be an instance in which an armed pilot might successfully kill a hijacker and save the lives of his passengers. I suspect there would be many more cases in which cock-up theory will apply, and a pilot will panic and execute someone who asks over-abruptly for a second bag of pretzels on a transcontinental flight with no other victuals.
October 22, 2002

Why on Earth would anyone storm a cockpit to ask for pretzels?

Fifteen months ago, the US was brutally attacked by terrorists. With international support, it went after the perpetrators, initially with brilliant success that confounded anyone who believed Afghanistan would break even the US army. With the job half done, somewhere around the caves of Tora Bora, it got - what? - bored or distracted or simply confused. Should you ever be charged by a rhino, which has overwhelming force but a tiny brain, your life may be spared in similar circumstances: halfway through, it forgets what it was angry about.
December 17,2002

The US army is as dumb as a fat, pissed rhino.

None of this should be surprising coming from a drooping, self-loathing liberal writing for The Guardian. Remember that this all is the work of a man who once wrote “newspapers distort the facts, that TV news distorts the facts utterly, and that 24-hour-non-stop-up-to-the-minute-news distorts the facts utterly, totally and completely. We don't mean to do it, guv. We don't lie. But the parameters under which we operate just ensure that we mislead” In that context, every last word of it is truth.