Friday, April 28, 2006

How to reach me

As the Angry Professor at A Gentleman's C did recently, I'm including here a list of recent search terms that led people to my blog:

my wife fuck soldier fantasy
is it illegal to masturbate in a restroom
how would i cite a quote from the declaration of independence
atheist banana clip
fatter people
intellectual fun

The sad thing is that, except for the first one, I understand how each would get a reader here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Raggedy Ann

I don't want this blog to become an "Ann Coulter Watch," but I've got some masochistic vein that keeps me coming back for more. To the columns, anyway. I can only do short bursts of bizarre illogic and silly attempts to shock.

But before I puzzle over her latest column, a small note of praise: the title is "It's Hard Out Here for a Pump." I'll admit, I'm all a-twitter.

But Ann's all a-twit. To wit:

Discussing the 1993 energy budget, in which Democrats wanted to add a high tax to gasoline: "Al Gore defended the gas tax, vowing that it was 'absolutely not coming out' of the energy bill regardless of 'how much trouble it causes the entire package.'

And mind you, this was before we knew Gore was clinically insane. Back then we thought he was just a double-talking stuffed shirt who seemed kind of gay. The important thing was to force Americans to stop their infernal car-driving, no matter how much it cost."

Nothing says to the reader "take me seriously" like calling Al Gore clincally insane. More to the point, can we slow down for a second and debate how we might consider cost relative to, say, the future of the fucking planet? You know, how waste of natural resources might lead to widespread environmental catastrophe? I know we're not supposed to take science seriously, but still.

However, here's the kicker:

"Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley endorsed the proposal on "Charlie Rose," saying: 'I'd have a five-cent increase every year for five years. ... But that's not going to happen ... because we've got people who fret and worry that one- or two-tenths of a cent of a gasoline tax is going to cause some revolution at home.' So in Tom Foley's universe, two-tenths of a cent is the same as a quarter -- another testimonial to the American public educational system."

Oh Ann, you try so hard. But Foley's point was that adding a twenty-five cent tax was unthinkable when people viewed a two-tenths of a cent increase as too much. Again: he wasn't saying twenty-five cents equals two-tenths of a cent. Are we clear? No?

You know, she got her law degree at the University of Michigan. But I'm not going to bring up that whole "another testimonial to the American public educational system" comment.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

All about the tongue

Possible captions for this photo:

  • "Oh no, the ball is a magnet that controls my tongue!"
  • "I'll never be able to touch my nose with my tongue!"
  • "Shit, Manute Bol wants his ball back!"
Actually, the most interesting thing about this post is that Manute Bol has his own Wikipedia page, and his biography reads like a mash of two different people.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Behold the banana!

You must go watch this video, which will change your belief system. Just skip ahead to the 3:30 mark and watch until roughly the 4:36 mark. No longer will you bow before the false god Darwin; now you will worship, as does Curious George, at the altar of the almighty fruit!

In other words: man explains God's existence with banana. This clip is ripe for satire, and not only because Kirk Cameron is in it. Apparently, we all misunderstood why Gwen Stefani spelled out bananas in "Hollaback Girl": she wrote the first hymn to our new God. Cause there ain't no Hollaback God...

Friday, April 21, 2006

God bless the internet

Forget research, the internet exists for this. (Note--requires high speed, video and audio capability.)

I feel so timely

So a few days ago I entered the wonderful religious world of Ann Coulter, and now she's evoking Christ a little more, likely as a promotional move since she has a book coming out where she, apparently without sin, will cast stones against "liberals" for being godless. The good people at Media Matters have more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Crazy Little Thing Called Dog

At the advice of the lovely and talented Chickywang (yes, lovely and talented is a stock phrase, but still true), I've posted above a photo of Crazy Little Thing Called Blog's Crazy Little Thing Called Dog. (Actually called Olive.) That's her a few months ago, prior to her cute pink collar and some growing.

News Flash: Tax Time

In an effort to help citizens get their tax information in on time, the IRS has changed the due date from April 15 to Ken Griffey's first stint on the Disabled List. "Knowing that he could go down at any time will likely help citizens act quicker to get their W-2s together," spokesperson Dorf Fogelstein said. "Besides, his going on the DL is like Easter--you know it happens sometime in the spring, so you just go ahead and get your decorations up before everybody else in the neighborhood."

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Gospel According to Ann

You may have heard that notorious hack Ann Coulter has a book coming out this summer titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism. It's due to come out on June 6, 2006, apparently as her "tribute to liberals": the date is 6-6-6. (Really, it's 6-6-06, but why quibble?)

I'm an atheist, but one who admires the central ethical tenets of Christ. I also respect people of faith who act morally and ethically; any guiding force that leads to good is honourable, no matter what leap of faith you've taken--and atheism is just as big a leap as faith.

But I was curious, being a little more than passingly familiar with Coulter's work, how she is actually a Christian in anything more than name. And then I was struck with the image of her teaching a text like the Sermon on the Mount. So here we have:

Ann Coulter's Sunday School (or ACSS--the C is silent)

Matthew 5:3--Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Ann Coulter--
Instead of poor people with hope and possibility, we now have a permanent underclass of aspiring criminals knifing one another between having illegitimate children and collecting welfare checks.

Matthew 5:4--Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Ann Coulter--To expiate the pain of losing her firstborn son in the Iraq war, Cindy Sheehan decided to cheer herself up by engaging in Stalinist agitprop outside President Bush's Crawford ranch. It's the strangest method of grieving I've seen since Paul Wellstone's funeral. Someone needs to teach these liberals how to mourn.

Matthew 5:27-28--Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Ann Coulter--Like the Democrats, Playboy just wants to liberate women to behave like pigs, have sex without consequences, prance about naked, and abort children.

Coulter, elsewhere--Let's say I go out every night, I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I'm not married.

Matthew 5:44-45--But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Crazy Little Thing: Frankly, I just don't know where to start on this one. Maybe the quote about blowing up the New York Times, or invading countries and killing their leaders, or how liberals hate America and want to give aid to the terrorists, or killing liberals to scare them, or threatening to poison a Supreme Court judge.

Matthew 6:2-6--Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Ann Coulter--Actually, I think it's time to come clean with my readers and admit that I belong to a small religious cult that celebrates the birth of Jesus this week.

Ah, sweet, deliberate understatement.

Also, there's the whole bit about converting Muslims to Christianity and killing their leaders; on a related note, she ridicules anyone who would call Islam a religion of peace.

Oh, she's also publishing a book called Godless, putting herself in the position of some sort of Christian who deserves to be in the position to judge.

Matthew 7:1--Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Crazy Little Thing: Um...

If you want to add some of Coulter's scriptural commentary, post it in the comments. I feel unequipped to summarize, so I'll end by quoting Thomas Jefferson.

"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong." (Notes on Virginia, 1782)

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Notes on Virginia, 1782)

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear." (Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787)

"I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians." (Letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789. Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State." (Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802)

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." (To Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813)

"The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills." (Letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814)

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." (Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Or, An Open Letter to the Student Masturbating at the Urinal of the Third Floor Men's Room of Aged Philanthropist Hall

Dear Masturbator:

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm a grad student here at the Funkytown Institute for Increasing One's Future Monetary Value. I'm also the guy who came into the restroom while you were coming in the restroom, or just before. I'd like to touch on (no pun intended) a few basic notes of decorum and decency in our society.

First, though public masturbation of any sort is illegal (and disgusting), most public men's room masturbators choose to do so in the stall. I'd like to recommend that to you. I've had the unfortunate experience of overhearing guys masturbate in stalls, but it's not nearly as disgusting and day-ruining as seeing a man standing at the end of a row of urinals jerking off.

Second, you may recall you chose to pleasure yourself at the urinal next to the far wall. You were, apparently, already angled away from the entrance, but--and this is just so you know--turning your back to me doesn't shield what you're doing. One, you're now facing a wall, not a urinal, so it's unlikely I'll assume you're peeing. Two, your arm is still moving. Because the only sound I hear is your breathing, I can only assume you're not, say, shellacking the wall or, say, caulking it.

And speaking of your breathing, third, just because you realized that I was in the room and silencing your heavy, quick breathing might help me miss out on the fact that you're shaking hands with the unemployed, clearing your throat to stop breathing that way only draws more of my attention to you. I'm already trying to ignore you; clearing your throat while facing the wall only makes the sound resonate.

Fourth, and this applies whether you're masturbating in public or in the confines of what I can only assume is a gray-brick-interiored single dorm room with a poster of Jenna Jameson rubbed thin by your affectionate kisses, when you wash your hands, you must actually wash your hands. Maybe civilization didn't reach you. Squirting liquid soap from the dispenser, then flicking it into the sink, well, that skips a major step. Briskly rub your hands together. As you already know how to briskly rub, this should be an easy new task for you to learn.

And, finally, fifth, after I left the bathroom, with you in my wake (and if you're curious, yes, I did hunch my shoulders forward in fear you'd clap my back in some misguided spooge-infused idea of cameraderie), I looked back to see you walking down the hall where you shook the hand of your professor. As someone who teaches undergraduates, please let me impress upon you the utterly crucial point that, should you choose to exert zero control over the bobbing urges pressing against your Spiderman underoos, at least have the courtesy not to spread your waste to those of us who try to travel trustingly and unmolested through our days.

In the above very unfortunate incident, I was simply too shocked to report what happened or tell you to stop. Please be aware that, the next time, I will not be so inclined, now that I'm prepared to see another self-lover the next time I need to relieve myself.

Respectfully yours,

Crazy L. Thing

Friday, April 07, 2006

Where I come from

I was born in and, until the age of four, lived in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but I wouldn't be able to express exactly what that meant until now.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Coming Unbound

Reviewing a novel before you've finished reading seems to jump the gun a bit, but in the case of Walter Kirn's serial novel, The Unbinding, currently up on Slate, it's necessary. Today they posted the tenth of an apparent thirty-two installments, and I have to admit it's a gripping thriller. For those who don't enjoy reading on screen, the installments are short--"found" objects, including emails, letters, recorded phone conversations, journal entries. The idea behind the "fiction" (calling it a novel seems naive), as Sven Birkets points out, is that it taps into our "paranoid consciousness" and our worries over the thin boundary between our public and private lives.

Birkets also claims, "where the bound artifact--the novel--can only posit the narrative possibility, the Internet version makes it actual. The reader knows and feels, even if only at a semiconscious level, the implications of the online medium; he registers the suggestive power of the idea of surveillance, of being seen, investigated, and known." I actually have to disagree with Birkets. So far, Kirn's online fiction strikes me as conservative. According to Slate's own announcement of the serialization, The Unbinding "will make use of the Internet's unique capacity to respond to events as they happen, linking to documents and other Web sites. In other words, The Unbinding is conceived for the Web, rather than adapted to it." But so far, Kirn's fiction has done very little to justify its existence as a web fiction. (Though I certainly enjoy it as a fiction.)

First, the "found" documents reach back into a long narrative tradition--the epistolary form, the journal. The documents themselves could easily be presented as bound; the fact that they're online doesn't have the effect on me Birkets claims (let's not get started on how he posits "the reader" and has the reader act as Birkets likely did). Moreover, the ironies the chapters establish--the pretenses the characters enact to attract each other--reflect the kinds of ironies a reader could find in any number of fictions with omniscient point of view or found documents.

That's not necessarily a major criticism, that he relies on long-standing narrative traditions and practices. I'd be surprised if they weren't there, in fact. (One of the main characters' last names is Selkirk, which is the name of the sailor Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is based on.) However, the abundance of those traditions seems to outweigh the novelty of publishing such a text on the internet. Which leads me to my second point: through ten installments, he's included only three hyperlinks. What an internet fiction can do that a book in one's hands cannot is link to pages elsewhere on the internet. (Even including intertextuality, theory-heads.) And since the "found" documents are personal reflections in several cases, hyperlinks might lead to interesting point-0f-view questions--are the characters always aware of what the links lead out to? Can websites serve as a kind of unconsciousness? If the word "dare" leads to someone's personal page, how might that implicate the character (and the reader) in the telling?

One good sign for Kirn--one of his three links is to Birkets' piece. (It's a long story--read it.) So if you read it and post your thoughts, you might impact the telling, which would lead to other questions about readership and the construction of meaning. (Are you listening, theory-heads?) And whether or not it's all that innovative, it's still a good read.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The War on Easter

Remember the War on Christmas, the fake culture war John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly tried to pawn off on the people last holiday season? I thought it would be funny to write a satiric post about the upcoming War on Easter, including the following:
  • Random mob peltings with Cadbury Eggs, the sugary insides smeared on people's clothes, faces, and Bibles.
  • Eyeliner-smeared Goth kids running around yelling, "Vernal Equinox, Vernal Equinox!"
  • Sam Walton's kids shushing greeters who said "Easter" and directing them to say "Happy Spring season! Please look for our copious Alban Eilir decorations!"
  • The pièce de résistance (yes, the use of a French phrase makes me an America-hating faggot commie who wants to live under the Islamic law, Sharia--can you cut off my hands now for stealing that pack of baseball cards when I was nine?) was to be the crucifixion of the Easter Bunny, in which he wears a crown of thorns on his head and around his bushy tail. He was going to be punished by a toga-adorned Bill Clinton, who would yell "Ecce Bunny!" The Easter Bunny was going to hop down the street, pelted by plastic eggs filled with rocks, easter egg dye bleeding from his skin. Then, on Easter, the Easter Bunny was going to arise from his grave, one ear half torn. He'd meet Ted Kennedy on the road, who would stick his finger into a side wound as Thomas does to Christ in the Caravaggio painting.
So there I was, giggling at myself, when I learned that the goddamn wingnuts beat me to it. What you'll read on WorldNetDaily, perhaps the creepiest non-porn site on the Internet, is that some are trying to "hijack" Easter; there's a "PC Police"; and there was a "national uproar" over Christmas. What world are these people living in? Did they read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" as a primer on how to fuck with people's heads? The "national uproar" over Christmas existed in the echo chamber of the right wing. Fox News, WorldNetDaily.

I'll say it, and I don't even believe in God: Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! Enjoy those times you recognize things that mean a great deal to you. Share them with your family. But you know what? Bill O'Reilly isn't a Christian. Neither is John Gibson. They may claim to be Christians, but their behavior on television demonstrates an understanding of Christ's teachings that couldn't even be called rudimentary. Perhaps it would help them to read the Jefferson Bible, Thomas Jefferson's revision of the Gospels. Jefferson admired Christ's ethical teachings (it's pretty hard not to, I think), and remarkably, the people who claim most rabidly that Christianity is under attack are those who act in accordance the least with that ethical system.

As I read somewhere recently (I can't remember where; sorry not to give credit), a defensive church is a strong church. Convince the congregation your faith is under attack, using the language of physical violence to represent perceived (though in this case, very unreal) non-physical violence, and they will bond together to defend against those attacks. That's what the right-wing echo chamber does: a defensive political party is a strong political party. If you're looking for a culture war, though I loathe that phrase, that's it: the "values" of the right wing are under attack, apparently, so they must defend by attacking these perceived slights. Thus we have Michelle Malkin's paranoid fantasy about Aztlan, the claims and conferences about wars on Christianity (sidebar: thanks to Priceline, my wife and I stayed at the Omni Shoreham, a four-star hotel, the week prior to the conference about the "War on Christianity"; it's a swank, expensive place--the moneychangers in the temple seem to be doing well enough despite the "War"), the fear that teaching evolution will destroy Christianity and moral behavior.

If you think this is all a joke, easy to laugh off and ignore, remember that the party that panders to these people--even that "maverick," John McCain--is the one that controls the government right now. So fill up your supersoakers with holy water and your brain with actual quotes from the Bible, because the "Christians" who think they're under attack are trying to burst out of their echo chamber: an election is coming up.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

MLB Preview--be well versed

I wanted to write a poetry parody that would preview the upcoming baseball season and make a prediction for every team, but since I'm a grad student, I had grading to do, reading to do, emails to return, a dog to walk, a nap to take, etc., so you're getting a limited but potent dose. So below is Percy Bysshe Shelley's prediction for the 2006 MLB season.


I met a traveler from Chicagoland
Who said: Two vast and trunkless teams of stone
Play in the AL East. Near them in the standings,
Half mad, a Guillen visage smirks, whose frown,
And crazy smile, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its wearer well those passions knows
Which yet survive, stamped on those Series rings,
The hand that wears them, and the team that blows:
And on his undershirt these words appear:
"My name is Ozziemandias, manager:
Look on my team, ye Yankees, and despair!"
White Sox will lose this year. Round the decay
Of all free agency, hopeful all year
The even teams love Opening Day.

And if that weren't enough, Elizabeth Bishop emailed me her predictions as well.

Cubs Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many pitchers, one disabled list,
how can they win? Their team is a disaster.

Lose one game every day. Send down your roster
of lost money, bad players getting pissed.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

The Devil Rays, they'll lose farther, lose faster:
morale, and games, and where it was they wished
to travel. Season's here, time for disaster.

The Cincinnati Reds, they'll come in last or
next-to-last, Ken Griffey's hamstring turns to mist,
Dunn K's, Harang's their ace--no master.

All losing teams. Seattle's one, with vaster
talent--Felix, Ichiro. And the Pirates,
at least their ballpark's no disaster.

--I love the losing teams; thus the mocking gesture
of love. They try so hard, I know, but grist
they are for parody. Yes, they will master
cellar-dwelling, all or most. Disaster.