Thursday, October 21, 2004

So Sayeth The Shepherd! So Sayeth The Skid! 

I'm holding here in my paws nothing other than the October 2004 American Family Association Journal, the monthly rag put out by the AFA. If you're not familiar with the AFA, let me just say that I envy you.

So let me tell you a story: Back in 1977 in Tupelo, Mississippi (birthplace of Elvis, and a mere 130 miles north of yours truly), a fellow named Don Wildmon decided he was fed up with the crumbling morality of society, hoping to return to the "traditional values" of yesteryear. 'Cause, you know, there was no pornography or violence in movies in the 1920s. And nobody had sex or defecated, either. Initially founded as a 501(c)(3) - ie, non-profit - organization known as the National Federation For Decency, the organization changed it's name to the American Family Association in 1988, apparently to sound less prudish and more mainstream and goal-oriented. Although they are just a bunch of uptight Jesus-lickers, make no mistake, the AFA is one of the most powerful conservative/fundamentalist Christian lobbying arms in the country. You can see their website here, which contains generous helpings of their general bullshit. Which is what I'm about to explore, myself.

With that out of the way, back to my original story: I obtained this masterpiece of investigative reporting from my mother, whose coworkers are mainly a lot of brainwashed nutjobs for JEEEEEZUS. They normally bring crap like that into the office, and my mother usually takes the opportunity to either throw it away or bring it home for a laugh. And boy, this one is a hoot and a holler.

There is no real cover to the magazine...it starts with front page text with a big color photo, like the front page of a newspaper. The first story: "November elections may determine fate of marriage", with the subscript "HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS HOPE COURTS WILL SETTLE ISSUE". The article goes on to say that "traditional marriage" is at risk, and "'gay' activists" (the word "gay" is always in quotation marks) are looking to "take the issue out of voters hands". The article also quotes Don Wildmon himself: "Homosexuals and those who sympathize with their agenda are trying to take this issue out the hands of the voters, and place marriage in the hands of liberal judges." Ohhhhhh, darn those liberal judges! And what the hell is the "homosexual agenda"? Do these simps seriously think that gays want to make everyone else gay? I'm banking on yes, but if any of you AFA types out there read this and disagree, feel free to correct me on this issue.

So I open up the mag. Inside front cover: The Spencer's Gift Shop in Tupelo was charged for selling sex toys (which is illegal in Mississippi), via efforts initiated by the AFA. Naturally, the AFA is gloating about how much they're protecting the community from things that the AFA deems offensive. "A lot of children, preteens and teenagers wander through the malls. This is garbage these kids don't need to see, let alone purchase," says the very clever Joe Murray of the AFA Center for Law and Policy. Seriously, if they think there are any teenagers out there who don't know what a dildo is, they need a major reality check.

Next page is "NEWS OF INTEREST". First story: "Dating violence linked to sexually active adolescent females". FEMALES? Oh, I get it, so it's the girls' fault they're being raped and beaten. No, sexually active adolescent males have no responsibility here. What are the sexually active females having sex with, Rottweilers? In any case, what the story boils down to is that a study by the Harvard School of Public Health finds that "sexually active adolescent girls are five times more likely to be victimized by dating violence than girls who are not sexually active". Well no shit, Sherlock. That's because girls who aren't sexually active typically DON'T DATE.

The next story is in a similar light: "Teens' sex, substance abuse related". Ooooh...substance abuse! They make it sound like they're smoking crack and shooting juice. But what conclusion does the article end up at? "...teens who say most of their friends are having sex are themselves more likely to have tried marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes". Damn, is that all? So teenagers are smoking weed, cigs, and drinking. Big whoop. I thought this was something new they had come up with.

This brings me to another side rant: I'll never understand these guys and their obsession over keeping teenagers abstinent. Teenagers fuck. Period. It's just what they do. I didn't, you may not have, but not everyone has our kind of willpower. Some - nay, most - of them are going to do it, no matter if you tell them not to or not. And why shouldn't they? It calms their raging hormones, eases the frustrations of adolescence, and gives them practice for sex when they're adults. Since they're going to do it anyway, why not encourage them to wear rubbers?

Another gem in this pile of an awful lot of gems: "Pro-lifers' rights tossed by troopers". The AFA is pissed off because two pro-lifers were pulled over and detained in Connecticut for driving a truck with pictures of aborted fetuses on it, and refusing to remove the pictures. Although the police contend that the graphic pictures were causing a traffic hazard and a distraction to other motorists, the AFA Center for Law and Policy is helping the two douchebags out, contending that the troopers violated their civil rights. Oh, so NOW you care about civil rights, huh? The topping here is that they make a passing mention that one of the officers was charged for harassing a dispatcher last year and making disparaging remarks about her physical condition. Why, that cad!

Oh, and remember the article about Spencer's Gifts? We don't want children to see dildos, but they can see graphic images of aborted fetuses while out on the road. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense, you hypocritical butt nuggets.

Finally we reach the articles, of which there actually aren't that many, at least compared to the news stories. The first really interesting one is "School's Out: Will the Rainbow Bus take our kids to the Land of Diversity?". Oh no! Nothing but diversity! I mean, that could lead to respecting the culture of others! And that could lead to sex, and drugs, and laughing and dancing and merriment, and other ungodly things. This article goes on to say that Parents, Familes, and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG, which should really have two "F"s in it when you think about it, but I digress) and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA, which should have an "N" at the begin...oh, nevermind) are working together to "promote homosexuality". Actually, if you check out PFLAG's website, their work with the PTA over the last four years has been solely to curtail anti-gay bullying, not try to turn anyone gay. Yes, it would appear this article is quite intentionally misleading. Surprise, surprise.

The bullshit pretty much wraps up here: "Movie ratings losing value? Today's PG-13 like yesterday's R." Oh really? Try watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This was the movie that the PG-13 system was invented for in 1984, and it features a rather unpleasant scene of a man getting his heart ripped out. Hell, that would probably be an "R" now. A minor sidebar in this article: "Study Affirms Liberal Bias in Media". The affirmation? That more individual members of the media voted Democrat between 1964 and 1992. And somehow this makes the media itself biased. Hey jackasses: The media is only as liberal as the conservative corporations that run it.

This is actually only the best stuff: Every word in the AFA Journal is complete hateful crap, and I've only sampled a quarter of it here. And remember when I mentioned how big of an organization they are? The American Family Association has about 2 and a half million members. By any standards, that's bleeding huge.

Our society may be moving forward, but the barbarians haven't completely evolved yet. Maybe in a few more decades.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Boob Tube 

Nothing's on television. Nothing is ever on television. What passes as entertainment for most people often leaves me scratching my head and saying "HUH?". I sometimes wonder is the entire world small minded for watching stupid sitcoms with light-hearted family humor, or if I'm small minded for demanding action, car chases, and explosions. I usually determine the former group is dumber, because family humor is stupid - whereas to deny ourselves chaos, mayhem, and the suffering of others is to deny what makes us human. Simple enough conclusion, but the thought still creeps across me once in awhile.

So I have decided to list a few of the TV shows I like to watch, followed by shows I despise. If you do not see your favorite show mentioned here, please do not get angry that I have forgotten it. Truth is, I probably haven't forgotten it, I probably just don't fucking like it but don't hate it enough to mention it. You simple-minded prick.

Shows that are coolness:

Mythbusters - Colorful special effects gurus Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage build things, smash things, beat each other over the heads, and blow shit up in the name of science...all the while acting like Jim Carrey on speed. And unseen narrarator bad mouths their appearance, their work ethic, their mothers, and their libido while they build scale models and full sized recreations to prove or disprove urban legends, such as determining whether dog piss can make baking soda explode.
Engaging hosts, funny as hell, things get destroyed, and above all it's educational.
Most episodes don't hold up well to multiple viewings. Sometimes the tests are obviously flawed.

The X-Files - Who doesn't know this one? Two FBI agents, one male and one female (oooh...sexual tension), attempt to solve paranormal mysteries all over the country for the FBI's secret "X-Files". Will it be a monster of the week, or a mytharc episode exploring the depth of the government's involvement with extraterrestrials? Who IS that smoking man? The show's over now, but I still watch re-runs sometimes. I was a big fan of of TXF when it was still on (actually right from the first episode back in '93), and it never quite rubbed off.
Great dialogue and direction...very atmospheric. The first episodes had a great "clever use of low-budget" feel to them. Inventive. Mark Snow's scoring was the best television has had since Angelo Badalamenti's work on Twin Peaks.
Underacting abound. The show got pretty bad in it's final few seasons...I stopped watching it during the final year.

Ghosthunters - I'm a big paranormal enthusiast (although I'm something of a skeptic), and ghost hunting was a hobby of mine in high school. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the Sci-Fi channel was going start a series that followed a ghost-hunting team (in this case TAPS - The Atlantic Paranomal Society - which is a group I had heard of before) on their normal routine as they attempt to gather evidence in haunted places. What I'm greeted with is a bunch of goofy bastards running around on infrared camera bitching at each other about not being able to find the house when they were driving there three hours earlier. Well, if you want reality, there it is.
The show doesn't appear to be heavily staged like most reality shows. Some episodes end up with no evidence or inconclusive evidence. Actually kind of creepy.
The investigators themselves aren't exactly objective (one of them is a "demonologist"? What the hell?). Way too many scenes of the pussy-whipped group leaders trying to convince their wives to let them go ghost hunting. The team is totally made up of unlikable jackasses that would be best off lying dead at the bottom of a crater somewhere.

World's Scariest Police Chases, World's Wildest Police Videos, Police Videos, et all. - A car thief in a black IROC Camaro is flying down a stretch of Georgia Interstate. The dash camera in the pursuing police cruiser captures the moment as the Camaro hits speeds in excess of 120 mph, starts leaving the cruiser behind, then loses control and flies head first into a big tree. All the while white-haired prune cock-knocker Sherrif John Bunnell gives his overemotive, smart-assed commentary from behind clenched pearly whites: "Another high performance car with a low performance driver. Now this punk with no respect for other peoples' property will end up someone else's property in a state penitentiary." Lots of crazy action, true crime, and douchebag cops caught on camera.
Terribly exciting and violent. Fun to root for the criminals. John Bunnell is funny.
The show has too much social conscience, rarely showing the (more common that you would think) videos where the criminals get away. Brown-noses cops way too much. John Bunnell is still a cock-knocker.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - I could actually spend all day just writing about the Showtime series (serieses?) that I watch, because they probably have overall the best lineup of any network. But I'll only cover one: Smartass extraordinares Penn & Teller take every bullshit thing that some people believe in...from psychic powers to global warming to God...then explain why it isn't real. Great science and logic backs up everything they do. And best of all: Believers in these things get REALLY pissed about this show.
See the pros for Mythbusters, only subtract "things getting destroyed".
Occasional gaps in logic. The show is only half an hour long.

CHiPs - This goes under "guilty pleasure". An infamous series that featured a white and a Hispanic duo of motorcycle cops (both of which juggled their police careers with their active bachelor lifestyles), CHiPs premiered in 1977 as an attempt to create the first realistic drama about a highway patrol department on television. Although it was successful at this to start with, the show eventually got gimmicky ("Now they're fighting a guy with a jetpack! Laser guns on the back of pickup trucks!"), and through it all, Ponch and John were never allowed to use their guns. Not once. They never even drew them. And I should also mention the weird effect the staged car crashes had on my childhood. Scenario: a white 1972 Ford Country Squire wagon rearends a blue 1968 Pontiac GTO, goes airborne, cuts a spiral, then lands on its roof and explodes. All of this in super slow-motion, set to twangy 1970s guitar music with synthesizer backing. This was some hip shit during the time.
Chases, crashes, motorcycles, and cool 1970s haircuts. Cool late '60s and early '70s musclecars were cheap during this time period, so a lot of them were used on the show ("Hey! There's a '70 Dodge Super Bee back there!").
Dopey storylines, especially later in the series. Bad dialogue. Bad "flatbed filming". Cool late '60s and early '70s musclecars were cheap during this time period, so a lot of them were destroyed on the show ("They just blew up a 1971 Trans Am! Bastards!").

Shows that blow:

Joan of Arcadia - Follows the adventures of a high school girl who talks to God. God tells her to do thing. Strange things, which somehow always end up for the better. Pat Robertson would be proud.
At least it encourages people to ponder a subject most don't even want to think about.
Well, for starters, it's a preachy load of horse shit...

American Chopper - Follows a bunch of old flabby mamma's boys who pretend to act all badassed while they're building incredibly stupid-looking motorcycles. The shop is lead by "Paul Sr.", some grey haired asswipe biker who thinks he's hot shit but is overall about as intimidating as a double cheeseburger.
Unless you like modern custom choppers: None.
Just stop bitching at each other already, you bilge-crapping ass-hats.

American Hot Rod - American Chopper, only following the day-to-day trials of Body Coddington's Hot Rod shop.
See the Pros for American Chopper, only replace "choppers" with "hot rods".
See the Con for American Chopper.

Overhaulin' - Yeah, I devoted an entire entry to this one. Some dicksponge gets his car stolen by the show, they laugh as how beat-up it is, then proceed to destroy and rebuild it as something "cool", under the watchful eye of ultra-tacky billet aluminum worshipping hot-rodder Chip Foose. Then they give it back to the owner with an attitude of "Yeah, your car sucked, but now it's cool thanks to us. Bow down."
At least the cars aren't junky anymore.
Some moral questions. Annoying hosts. Chip Foose is almost as overrated as Troy Trepanier and Boyd Coddington. 9 times out of 10 the cars looked better when they were junky.

Tru Calling - Uber-hip CSI wannabe follows some dorky bint with a stupid name as she goes back in time to prevent murders from happening after hearing dead people talk to her. In the meantime she poses in tank tops and tries really hard to look like Jessica Alba. Yeah, that's the size of it.
Good idea.
Bad execution.

Family Guy - This blatant Simpson's rip off was mercifully cancelled from Fox's lineup years ago, yet thanks to the cult following it has maintained since then, it's now scheduled to return. The rundown: A fat ugly dumb guy goes on fat ugly dumb guy adventures in a generic town inhabited with wacky characters, and is supported by his scratchy-voiced wife, his dipshit son, and his self-centered daughter, along with his mysteriously smart baby who never ages. Does this sound familiar yet? How anyone can so much as crack a smile at this show is a complete mystery to me.
Occasionally interesting story ideas. The dog is cool.
Cheesy animation, some of the most annoying voice acting in cartoon history, awful comic timing, almost totally unoriginal.

Seinfeld - Although long since ended, this show is still heralded as a masterpiece of subtle, sophisticated humor by people who wouldn't know subtle, sophisticated humor if they found it in a mailbox in an enveloped marked "Fragile: Subtle, sophisticated humor inside". Follows the adventures of Jerry Seinfeld as he worships Superman and deals with his dumbass neighbors.
I applaud the attempt at subtle, sophisticated humor. The story elements were cleverly linked.
Jerry Seinfeld is not funny. He never has been. The same goes for everyone else on the show. If you're going to make a show of this caliber, it would be beneficial to get funny people to act in it. Timing is crucial to good comedy.

There are probably more shows to add here, but I'm getting bored with this and it's definitely long enough right now, so I'll end it here. And as always, stay tuned for more bitching.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Monday People? Sheesh. 

If you've read the past entries in my blog, you may remember the radio station I listen to: 93.5 "The Buzz". They were the ones running that whole "Fuck Cancer in the Ass" drive. 93.5 is owned by "The Radio People", some pissy little media conglomerate that apparently can't get enough employees. Quite a remarkable achievement in an area with such high unemployment. The Radio People have been playing ads begging for employees for at least two months now...and apparently still can't get them. If you ever heard their ads, you'd know why.

The spots feature nothing other than some redneck-ass sounding old woman talking. There are at least three of these ads. In one of them, she spends practically 2 minutes reading off a list of cliches (this is paraphrased):

It's never too late to change your station in life. There's no power in small goals. Your future starts tomorrow. The decisions you make now effect your life. The early bird gets the worm. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Loose lips sink ships. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Look before you leap. All employees must wash hands before returning to kitchen. You can ring my bell, ring my bell.

Finally she gets around to saying The Radio People are hiring. But just as bad is another ad, and the one I more often hear:

Pay attention: You may not hear this message again.
That's what you said the first time I heard it. And each subsequent time, as well.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Monday People and Sunday People.
I thought the two kinds of people in the world were males and females? Live people and dead people? Or maybe we're both oversimplifying.

Sunday People live completely for the weekend, and can't wait for the day to finish. Monday People can't wait for the week to begin. They love their jobs so much, they'd even do it for free if they didn't have to make a living. If you're a Monday person, we want to hear from you.
So in other words, you're looking for losers who immerse themselves completely in their jobs? People who would be willing to work for free? Bullshit. Can we say "unrealistic goal"?

Both ads end saying "Send us your resume, and a letter convincing us why you're the one for us". Ummm...I'm sorry, isn't determining which candidate is the correct one YOUR job? How the hell should I know if I'm qualified or not? The applicant sends his resume, you determine if he is qualified, and if he is, HIRE HIM. Isn't that the way it's always traditionally worked?

Hey Radio People...work on your bullshit a little, and maybe I'll consider gracing you with my resume. Until then, you can keep wondering why no one is joining your "team".

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