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10:22AM: It has begun. This is the nerdiest/awesomest thing I have ever done. I will liveblog the LOTR trilogy in its entirety. I own the extended editions of each movie, so that means like 12 hours of swords, orcs, hobbit-on-hobbit love, and Liv Tyler. Will I survive? I would like to tell you that I am doing this without the aid of substances. I would like to tell you that. But it would be a lie. I will do whatever it takes to enhance my endurance and, correspondingly, enhance your blog-reading pleasure. Now, it has been brought to my attention that recently executed murderer Ronnie Gardner watched the entire trilogy before his death. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to get shot by firing squad when this is all over. Though maybe I will want that.
Continued after the jump…
Filed under: Rants | Tags: discovery channel store memories, environmental ethics, political satire, recycling old shit
Editor’s Note: Considering that I am completely lacking in inspiration, I thought I’d post another oldie from back in the day. This one I wrote the night that I learned of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter’s untimely and tragic death. Please understand that this is satire, and that I was actually deeply affected by Crocodile Hunter’s death — enough to dress like him for Halloween that year.
CNN trotted out its red “breaking news” banner. The New York Times reported in stark black and white under the “News from AP” heading. Steve Irwin had died, struck down by the cruel unthinking malice of a stingray barb through the chest. The preliminary reports note the irony: Steve was filming a documentary to demonstrate his bravery around stingrays. They do not note that the barb, slicing through his heart, is pregnant with metaphor, wielded as it was by one of nature’s murderous miscreants.
I spent a summer, several years ago, employed in a Discovery Channel Store at the Briarwood Mall. I would spend each shift sitting on the counter behind the registers, chatting with an aspiring Marxist Prog-rocker (“my band’s major influence is Rush — now compare the time signatures on these songs by Tool and King Crimson”) and a failed Central Michigan University quarterback (“I’m waiting to hit it big in hearing aid sales, but you can’t do that until you are old.”) As the boredom slowly smoothed over the folds in my cortex, Steve’s voice would rise above the din. It spiraled out of the seven television sets spread throughout the store. His giant face hovered above me on the tremendous flat-screen, beckoning me to begin the two-minutes hate against man’s greatest enemy, the crocodile. I know Steve well. He taught me to seek power and mastery over all of Noah’s dumb beasts. He taught that this was God’s divine will.
See Steve struggle with the crocodile who unthinkingly stumbled into some Australian suburb. Certainly, he could have just shot the fucker with a tranquilizer dart, later dumping its flaccid body into some gully in the interior. However, Steve, like an Ahab in uncomfortably tight shorts, had a greater ambition. He wrestled the crocodile to demonstrate his power. He subdued it with his own hands and then set it free in the wilderness, as if to say, “here thou art home, malignant archfiend, but soon we shall overrun you with bulldozers and houses and then you and I shall again engage in combat. And the next time we meet, demon, I shall eat your heart.”
So it is fitting that, as the Mighty Thor dies from the poison of the great serpent Jörmungandr at Ragnarok, Steve died locked in mortal combat with nature, his greatest nemesis. And like Ragnarok, Steve’s run-in with a flat blob with a sharp tail that sits on the floor of the sea represents his on-going struggle to destroy nature for our future. Bindi Sue will some day see a glorious future where steel stretches high into the coal-black sky and robots feast upon the flesh of kittens. This future will be his legacy. Let us all kill an animal today to avenge our fallen hero.
– September, 2006
An excerpt from Sir J. Thurgood Snorpington-Pittwickett’s classic “Sexual Tyrannosaurus: ‘Predator’ and the masculine struggle with homosexual self-identity,” first published in the 1988 Journal of Psychosexuality and Cinematical Hermeneutics 6, p. 122-254.*
“Using post-freudian dialectical analysis, it becomes clear that the 1987 action film ‘Predator’ is an allegory for the gay male struggle to accept a differing sexual identity than is appropriate in a dominant hetero-normative cultural system. As we see the character Dutch, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger struggle to understand and accept the existence of the Predator, we are actually witnessing the struggle for dominance in the psyche of a gay man who has not yet understood or accepted his own identity. The jungle of Dutch’s mind is the setting for the fight between his Super-Ego, manifested in the team of hyper-masculine marines, and the Id of the Predator, who represents a pure homosexual archetype.
Dutch is the leader of his team, but just as society determines what conduct is normatively appropriate and thereby holds a strong control over our actions, Dutch’s team correspondingly operates to influence his choices. For example, Jesse “The Body” Ventura expresses disapproval with homosexuality when, on the chopper, he excoriates his teammates as “Slack-jawed faggots.” This works to maintain the hegemony of dominant heterosexual ideology within Dutch’s mind. In spite of this, the film introduces the internal conflict raging inside of Dutch early on. When he first meets his old friend, Dillon, played by Carl Weathers, we see hints of his inner turmoil. Dillon is the model of a masculine authority figure, dressed in a too-broad tie and incredibly tight work shirt. When he claps hands with Dutch, we see Dutch’s eyes light up at the touch of another man. The film adoringly focuses on the masculine form, as we see the two gigantic biceps, veins bulging, arm-wrestle for dominance. This mimics Dutch’s own internal struggle. Will he embrace his own way, or will he accept society’s dominant conception of appropriate sexual identity?
By contrast, the Predator, dressed in obvious S&M gear, is a representative for the pure gay self. The Predator is a literal “alien.” It is cloaked in rejecting terms of the Other. It “hunts” man, and the hint of seduction is a terrifying notion to the heterosexual men in the Marine unit. The Predator is a perfect mimic, recording and repeating the vocalizations of the Marines. The fact that a homosexual, like the Predator, can seamlessly blend in with what the Marine’s believe is their own private space, is threatening to their hetero-normative hegemony. The Predator “skins” Dutch’s heterosexual companions, thereby depriving them of their power and revealing, literally, the irrelevance of their self-identity to Dutch’s experience. The Predator slowly kills off Dutch’s team members, who become weaker and weaker, as Dutch comes to express his own homosexuality more vigorously†. The Predator is invisible to Dutch’s companions and even to Dutch himself, just as Dutch’s homosexual feelings are suppressed by his Superego – neither he, nor his friends, are completely aware of his homosexuality. Once the Predator, as a representative of Dutch’s long-simmering sexual desires, has completely eliminated all hetero-normative influence from Dutch’s mind, does Dutch begin to understand himself. Dutch’s transformation takes a pivotal step when he is free from society’s stultifying influence. He is free to indulge in his long-denied desires, EX: wearing makeup (albeit made of mud).
However, it is only when he physically fights the Predator, that Dutch can accept his identity. Although he admires the strength, and well-built frame, of the Predator, he cannot look at it in the face. The Predator still wears a mask, a symbolic reflection of Dutch’s own mask of heterosexuality covering a homosexual identity. In a scene reminiscent of a striptease, the Predator removes his mask, showing his true face. Dutch cannot look away, but still refuses to fully acknowledge the significance of what he is seeing. He calls the Predator “ugly,” because it is difficult, after years of indoctrination into the dominant ideology, for him to embrace the beauty of his own individual self-worth as a gay man. However, Dutch’s self-realization cannot be undone. The Predator can die, by suicide, because Dutch’s Ego has internalized the homosexual feelings the Superego had long neglected. The unconscious correcting force of the Predator is no longer needed. The Predator’s knowing laugh communicates to Dutch that he can now attain happiness as his own self-actualized person. This revelation is symbolized by the orgiastic giant nuclear explosion in the “jungle” of Dutch’s mind. Reminiscent of an orgasm, the explosion obliterates the allegorical trees disrupting Dutch’s view of himself. As he flies away in the helicopter, his solemn face affirms that he now understands and accepts his homosexuality.
†Some scholars, see S. Boolsbury-Lickworth (1987) If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: Romantic Tragedy in Predator, Harvard Press, have pointed to the indigenous woman Anna’s presence in the film to discount this psychosexual interpretation of ‘Predator.’ According to my close analysis, it is clear that Anna represents an attempt by Dutch’s Superego to manifest a hetero-normative relational dynamic. However, Dutch rejects this, since women in his regard are weak, helpless, and unworthy. It is demonstrative that Dutch never consummates this relationship or even expresses anything but remote disdain.”
Filed under: Rants | Tags: bogans and westies, felling lumber, greatest flannel ever, hipster clothing, pearl jam, world domination through clothing
Today I purchased the baddest-ass flannel shirt ever.
Allow me to set the scene. It was a beautiful sunny day in the city. I was invigorated by my daily run, consisting of an uncoordinated trudge through the Castro. The disproportionately male denizens of the Castro meet my flabby body with a look of reproach and horror. This gives me an incentive to elevate my effort. Once my workouts have resulted in a fit, attractive figure, sufficient to warrant a lustful gnashing of teeth, I will have met my benchmark.
That was a digression. The day was sunny, and I was feeling good, so I went to the Charity Thrift Store on Valencia to go clothes shopping. I was in need of some cheap shirts. What I found there quite possibly changed my life: The Most Powerful Flannel Ever.
It is red and black check, manufactured by “Field and Stream,” giving itself an air of absolute legitimacy in terms of outdoor musky masculinity. “Field and Stream” clothing has a motto commanding us to “wear our passion every day.” My passion is ultimate power, and in this flannel I have gained the instrument for ultimate domination of the universe.
On the “F&S” website, my flannel is pictured prominently on the front page. It is named the “Jackson Jackalope” after the mythical beast, legendary for terrorizing the hills of random yokel towns, and also remembered in reference to the regrettable Dave Coulier, who Alanis apparently slept with which is basically an archetypal “lowering yourself” moment no matter what you think about Alanis. But that is another blog entry entirely.
The weight of the fabric is heavy. It armors you against the elements. Your enemies may not harm you. The Mongol hordes wore silk armor because the silk could not be pierced with arrows. Generally, when you are shot with an arrow a piece of clothing remains in the wound after the arrow is removed. This causes an infection that leads to your death. With silk armor, the Mongols might be wounded by an arrow, but they could easily remove the missile and sew up the hole. This is how the flannel works against bad vibes and dark magick of every variety. But, what if instead of magick, my adversary uses arrows? I knew you would ask that. This flannel is so aggressive that no one would dare shoot arrows at it.
The Most Powerful Flannel Ever is so powerful that it immediately destroys all other flannels in its immediate vicinity. This is not an exaggeration. As I held it on the way to the checkout counter, I passed another flannel shirt. This flannel was obviously weaker than mine, because all flannel shirts are weak in comparison. The weaker flannel exploded in a violent eruption of fire and brimstone. A high pitched scream issued from its expiring ashes. In fact, by the very virtue of its existence, my flannel has drained the power of other flannels worldwide by a factor of 10. The state of Washington will never be the same.
Here is haiku I composed in tribute to the flannel:
Bow before red and black cloth!
You are my servant.
I generally keep this as a non-political space, except when it comes to Burritos. However, I have been encouraged by several people to blog my views about the results of the Senate race in Massachusetts, so they might receive (a little) broader exposure.
I generally don’t bother complaining about media coverage of political events. As we become more polarized, the mainstream media echoes, which is a type of laziness. Laziness manifests itself in superficiality. We see events covered in terms of 2012-type apocalyptic cycles, reoccurring every week. Routine events that transpire in accordance with long-set rules are treated like world-changing, mind-blowing, shocking new phenomena. Who won or lost this cataclysmic shift in the political world today? This becomes more important than actually engaging with the issues in a substantive way. For these reasons, I do not often complain or worry about the way media characterizes a political issue.
But sometimes it is important to examine who lost and why. Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley last week in a generally liberal state, Massachusetts, winning Teddy Kennedy’s seat. This is not as shocking as it appears*. Scott Brown did not change the world. The Democrats are not over as a party, just as the Republicans were not finished after the 2008 election or after they elected infamous fool Michael Steele to run the RNC. Also, I don’t believe this has anything to do with Barack Obama.
First Ancient Electoral Rule: If you are a douche with rock-solid hair and you are a Republican, you can really make a run! This has been a truth since Presidents started having hair instead of wigs.
You see, Massachusetts has been electing douchebag Republicans for quite some time. Remember Mitt Romney? They elected him! I doubt many in my generation would remember William Weld. TOTES DOUCHE. We can go back in history and look. Henry Cabot Lodge! Love that guy. In fact, until Deval Patrick won in 2008, every Governor of that state since Dukakis left in 1991 has been a Republican. A Republican is not shut out of a state-wide race in Mass.
Second Ancient Electoral Rule: If you run an interesting, exciting candidate that changes it up, you will (or are more likely to) win. If you run a party hack, you will fucking lose.
How often do we see the chosen candidate who views their run as their “turn” get trampled by some out of nowhere new face? How often do we have to see it until we stop running people who are an anathema to the idea of a meritocracy? A party hack did not rise through the ranks necessarily by merit. Rather, they rose from patronage or special interest adoration. We see Coakley, who ran a lazy and uninspired campaign, gets trounced by an exciting, albeit vapid, new candidate. A friend told me Coakley ran like 19 events last month, while Brown ran 66. Apparently, she was excited to lose because she got to hang out with her dogs (WTF?)! I had a friend, a fellow field organizer in the Obama army, who lives in Boston and offered to lead a canvassing team. He was shrugged off. They told him that they were focusing on calling. [SUB-RULE TO RULE #2: Obama campaign team training. First day. We were taught that canvassing improves turnout significantly and phone calls increase turnout not at all. If you want to know more, read this CLASSIC STUDY.]
You win elections not by mobilizing the base, but by mobilizing the independents. Independents don’t get psyched up enough to vote for just anyone. In fact, going to the polls isn’t even guaranteed for them. So how do you maintain the attention of someone who doesn’t want to pay attention? You excite them. You might be good looking, you might have an impassioned speaking voice, you might run a smartly designed and eye-catching campaign system, most importantly you might represent different ideas and policies (though this is happening less and less these days). You might get your base so excited that they share the enthusiasm with the independents. In my perfect world, a fresh candidate would actually be elected on greater merit than the party hack (though this is a questionable view). Either way, party hacks don’t win over independents easily. Given Rule #1, the Democrats should have known they couldn’t just offer up some dead fish and expect it to win, violating Rule #2. I don’t buy the argument put forward that there was no one else willing to run. I find it very difficult to believe that in Massachusetts of all places there weren’t any exciting alternative candidates available. I find it more likely that they were shut out by an incompetent state party.**
So, moral of the story: Keep your chin up. These things happen all the time. It’s not the end of the world.
*I understand it dooms health care, I am sad about that, but this post is not about health care.
** Be advised that I actually know next to nothing about state politics in MA.
The fact of my continued unemployment is certainly perplexing. We could point to a number of reasonable causes for how, in spite of a sparkling resume and billion dollar education, I remain bereft of a job for over a year: the economy is terrible; the unfairness of the in-state bar monopoly; directionless job searching on my part, etc. I would prefer to ignore these reasonable explanations and point to what I feel is the real cause of my distress: The Secret International Anti-Erik Conspiracy.
No doubt you are unaware of The Secret International Anti-Erik Conspiracy. That is because it is secret. It slithers beneath the deepest catacombs of Power. It sulks darkly in the shadowy alleyways of human resources offices. “They” sabotage me at every turn. The scope of this conspiracy is massive, representing an alliance of unprecedented proportions (even for Dan Brown) between all of the most important Conspiratorial Organizations. Enemies turn to friends in the the terrible plot to stage my undoing. Across the globe they whisper and intrigue. Let us describe the players and motives behind this evil conspiracy.
Trilateral Commission – A secret organization of aliens with trapezoidal-shaped heads. They meet in a secure bunker under Area 51 bi-weekly to plot my demise. As a commission, they follow Roberts Rules of Order. This causes their meetings to last several hours, with the result that very little in the way of Anti-Erik strategizing gets accomplished. In spite of their unusual appearance, their opinions, when they get around to having them, are not taken seriously by the other members of The Secret International Anti-Erik Conspiracy.
Motivation of the Trilateral Commission – The Trilateral Commission’s antipathy for me derives from my childhood love of the Spielberg classic E.T. E.T. and his race are the ancient nemesis of the trapezoidal-headed aliens. They view my early advocacy on E.T.’s behalf as a formal alliance against them. It is not personal, rather it is the result of a byzantine series of alliances. Like World War I.
Illuminati – The Illuminati are an organization of men and women who wear elbow patches on their tweed sport jackets. This ancient evil has survived over centuries, ever since the first elbow patch was sewed to a tweed jacket by Adam Weishaupt, an immortal shape-shifting demon who you might know under the names Winston Churchill and Ashton Kutcher. Whenever you see someone with elbow patches and a tweedy jacket, rest assured you are in the presence of an Illuminatus. Modern examples include Oxford dons, your grandfather, and various hipsters in the Mission District.
Motivation of the Illuminati – As a world-renowned canon lawyer (a lawyer well-versed in religious law), I was a member of the Illuminati for many years, earning my first pair of elbow patches sometime in 1998. I had a falling out with the organization over the membership application of Lady Gaga, who I felt had insufficient credentials on the transubstantiation question.
The Freemasons – Ever since George Washington sacrificed his first virgin to the goat-headed god Bathomet on that chilly night next to the Potomac, the Freemasons have led all others in the realm of esoteric villainy. Entombed in their granite monuments, built in every city in the most fashionable facist style, the Masons conduct dark rituals of eldritch sorcery in order to resurrect the Elder Gods: Yog-Sothoth, the Beyond One; Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos; the Blind Idiot God Azathoth; and Lord Cthulhu who waits, dreaming. Legends say that paramount among these foul deities is Washington himself, who sits atop a throne of beaver pelts, trapped in the Netherzone, chewing on the eternally damned souls of British people.
Motivation of the Freemasons – As many of you know, I am a great supporter of the cause of the beaver and have worked assiduously for their conservation and protection. In the course of this work, I have come into conflict many times with the Freemasons. Beaver pelts are essential to their blasphemous rites in worship of General Washington, and they have driven the poor beasts to near extinction. My organizational skills have caused them quite a number of defeats in legislation at the state and federal level. Thanks to me, the beaver is safe. But, as a result, the Freemasons have turned their witchery toward me in vengeance.
Skull and Bones – From the hallowed halls of Yale, Skull and Bones members work to complete the plan their forefathers laid out almost a century ago: the complete brain-washing and mind control of the entire United States. Their goal is no less than the absolute bro-ification of the populace. They will spread their bro-tastic message from sea to shining sea. No campus will be free of the frat. No keg without a bro rocking a keg stand. No beer will go un-shotgunned. They have already completed the transformation of our elite. No doubt you have seen the results on a leisurely stroll of Washington, D.C. White hats abound. Bros in pink polo shirts. See how their collars are flipped up? These all bear the mark of the Skull and Bones. Chemtrails from jets flying overhead dust our cities and towns with special mind control powder. Flouridation of our water creates the unnaturally white teeth necessary for true bro-ness. Alternative energy development is suppressed to keep us suckling upon the teet of the Hummer.
Motivation of Skull and Bones – Like all frat boys and bros, the members of Skull and Bones hate a poindexter. If you’ve read this far, you can tell that I am just the type of nerdy four-eyed freak that the dudes just love to pound.
International Socialism, a.k.a. The New York Times – Using their bully pulpit in the press, the socialists want to take away all of the productive and good things that really really rich people have given to us. All of us who work for a living, which unfortunately does not include me, will suffer under the weight of their statist tyranny. But did you know they are actually Lizard People in human disguise? Along with their friends, the bros in Skull and Bones, the Lizard People have pushed for international socialism for decades from the highest levels of power. They once had an entire country called Russia under their power. Now they own France. Our own government is in peril! Only a Lizard Person could think of such things as the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, NPR, PBS, the Peace Corps, Americorps, Food Stamps, and Health Care reform.
Motivation of the Lizard People/International Socialists/The New York Times – I learned about the tyranny of the Lizard People while working for the Obama campaign. One day, our office was visited by Forest Whitaker, star of such films as Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Crying Game, The Last King of Scotland, and Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. That day he was a star of a local campaign event. As I shook his hand, gazing into his beautiful smile, I detected a certain scaliness to him. I cast doubt aside, and continued to work. Later, after his event was over, I stumbled upon Mr. Whitaker feasting on a horde of vermin in the back storage room next to the yard signs. Mr. Whitaker hissed and tossed a half-eaten vole at my feet. I vowed there and then to expose the Lizard People who threaten our Freedom.
Catholic Church, alternatively The Jews – Actually, the Catholic Church has nothing against me, since I grew up Catholic. The Jews do not have a grudge either, since they let me date their ladies. Neither of these groups are truly aligned against me. I just added them here because no true list of conspiratorial organizations would be complete without them.