Saturday, March 3, 2007


Champing at the bit, faithful readers have been awaiting with baited breath my viewpoint on the first of several Netflix rentals that will come to my mailbox. The first, aptly titled F**k arrived earlier this week. Since my free time is consumed with blogging and exercise, allotting 90 minutes to watch a film is considered a bonus, and in this case, the bonus time was mostly wasted, and not as enlightening as I had hoped.

The film is an interview style documentary centered around the use and interpretation of the "F-word". Several of my favorite people are in it: Drew Carey, Lenny Bruce, Janeane Garofolo, Hunter S. Thompson, Ice-T, Ron Jeremy, Tara Patrick and Billy Connelly. Their viewpoint is supposedly balanced by others on the right side, including Pat Boone, who claims to use his own surname as an expletive. Go figure.

The film explores several of the word's uses, from music, film and comedy; and highlights the arrests and conviction of Lenny Bruce, while anointing him as the groundbreaking comic of his time. Suffice it to say that the world was a much different place then.

The biggest revelation came about half-way through. In 2000, the FCC received 111 indecency complaints. By 2004, that number had grown to 1,068,802. 99% of those were by a watchdog group called the Parents Television Council, resulting in almost $8 million in fines. So goes the legacy of the George W. Bush administration and its ilk. We may be moving backward rather than forward.

It is at its best when it examines the history behind the word and its subsequent use in the general public. These times, however, are short-lived, and the film doesn't break much new ground into the understanding of a word that most of us use and already understand.

The film has a decidedly left-leaning slant, but in my view it is warranted. After all, does anyone have a horror story about a child who was irreparably harmed from hearing fuck used in conversation or out of the mouths of their parents? In the realm of words as weapons, none is so destructive as fuck. It has hundreds of uses, some erotic and others nonsensical. Whatever the case, it is merely a word. The Christian-conservative point of view is represented here, but merely as a balance to the common-sense approach taken by the majority of the film's interviewees.

I cannot recommend the film as a rental, since it really doesn't break much new ground, but it might make for a good ice-breaker in such cases where a relationship has grown to the point where the couple cannot either broach the subject or find the passionate excuse to execute the action. In either case, one could bring the film home and find an appropriate reason to watch it, and afterward, the topic of conversation may lead to the act itself.

Art for art's sake.
NEXT UP: Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

What's Better Than Golf? More Golf!

The Masters Golf Tournament will have one hour of coverage on its Web site before the network telecast begins, an example of how new Augusta National chairman Billy Payne wants to see how new media can expand the tournament's audience. It starts April 5, so get your rest. It's called Amen Corner Live, after the famous part of the golf course.

Woo hoo! Oh baby. I got a little 7-iron in my pants over that news.

Unfortunately for Internet viewers, the extra hour involves lining up putts, bending over and bending back, taking practice swings, talking to the caddy, leaning on the club, marking the ball, cleaning the greens, asking for quiet, lining up the putt again, taking more practice swings, asking the caddy to repeat what he said before you started cleaning the green, asking for quiet and looking askance at the overall lay of the land.
After that, it's a solid twelve minutes of heart-stopping PGA Golf-type action. Although, watching the ball in flight takes up some of that time, too.

OK - eight minutes of actual people moving and doing something significant. Don't miss it.

Three words:

Windows Media Creator.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Truth Hits Everybody

I know you. You thought, "Oh, there goes Anthony, off on another one of his 'twisted society' rants." That's OK. I understand. Sometimes I get a little ... aaaarrrrgggh ... about it all and it seems that maybe I go overboard in my pursuit of an angle for one of these posts.
I understand.

Every once in a while, though, I'm not all that far off on the old Twisted Society bit.
Take those Police tickets I was ranting about before. Pretty expensive, huh? And that's just the regular price. I think I used the term "three times value" when I talked about buying them from ticket sellers.

One of those ticket brokers stopped by the blog on Friday. Ticket Solutions, which seems to be another sort of oxymoron, or at the very least a contradiction in terms. The Solution for getting floor seats at Giants Stadium is to cough up $2,875 each for them.
Uh Huh.

You can click on that image to enlarge it, but make sure you have a full stomach and are seated in an upright position.
And, in case you were worried, they sell their tickets with a 200% guarantee. So, if you get there and the ticket is a copy, you can get double your money back, which doesn't match the 1200% mark-up on the tickets, but it's a nice gesture.

Over at good old Citizen's Bank Ballpark, where tickets aren't even on sale yet, the duckets will set you back $950 for the good spots, and $120 for Section 420 (a.k.a. Mount Everest). I guess they clogged up the pre-sale to get those.
At Fenway Park in Boston, they are charging Giants Stadium prices, with field-level seats at $2,875.
The Canadians aren't quite so ga-ga over the Police. A show at the Air Canada Center in Toronto will set you back from $850 to $115. Probably an exchange-rate deal.
Anyway, there are plenty more, but I think you get the point. If you want to see what's going on in or near your home town, click here and check the mortgage payment prices for one ticket to see 60-year old rock stars.

It's all perfectly legal, gang. At least they claim it is. The reality of the situation is that concert and big event tickets are Big Business. A racket in its purest form. Fans can see their favorite bands, but at a price. And while it might seem that I am picking on Ticket Solutions, they really aren't any different than any other ticket broker in the country. Find one, search their web site and you'll see the same thing.

Citizen's Bank Ballpark probably holds about 55,ooo for a concert. They set up a stage in center field, shit up the grass and rake it in - the money. The grass they leave. For the rest of the season, the Phillies play on an outfield with little square brown spots where the stage was.
Much like the fans, who sit with little brown spots in their pants when it comes time to pay for the privilege of seeing a band that you may have some personal connection with, and would like to re-unite yourself with over the summer. Go ahead, but the nostalgia will cost you dearly.
You have a fat rats ass of a chance to score tickets the regular way. Out of those 55,000 maybe 10,000 will get to real people who will pay face value. The rest go to Ticket Solutions and their ilk.

I scratch my head and wonder how or why it can be legal. I hate to say it, but I think it is way past time for our government to get involved in this ticket scalping practice. At the field is one thing. The real police can and do arrest scalpers. Why, then, is it legal to sell them off-site? I can understand a little profit for the effort, but Jesus!

I'm sure the Ticket Solutions web stalker will return to read this.
He's probably up all night. I would be. If I was in the business of legally raping people for money, I couldn't sleep either.

Someone Call a Cop

The Police are set to embark on their first tour in 23 years! To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland will trek through arenas and stadiums across North America this summer.

I checked my thesaurus to see what words were synonyms for "trek", since it's an odd descriptive for anyone not traveling by foot. I found hike, tramp, slog, trail and trudge. That sounds like a lot of work. I sure hope they're being amply compensated.

So, there I go, over to the Ticketmaster site (Circle 4 of The Nine Circles of Hell) to check out the ticket prices, to let me know how much celebrating I can do. Plus, I figure if the boys are going to trudge all over the United States, they had better be making enough money to afford gorp.

At the aptly named Palace at Auburn Hills, the geezers are accepting $227, $92 and $82. That should be enough to keep them waist-deep in gorp, even at New York prices. At the Madison Square, the tickets start at $254. The seats in New York must be closer.

There's even a Gold Hot Seat Package for $405. I can only imagine. First of all, a gold hot seat sounds like something that happens to people with urinary difficulties. I'm not sure I want to sit in a gold seat - especially if it's warm.

Who would chunk down $405 to see this?
The joint will be filled with power-buyers. Big corporate jerks who never really dug the band, but "grew to love" them once they found out that their CEO was giving them tickets. The CEO bought them from a ticket broker who got in on the pre-sale and jammed up the Internet with hundreds of workers buying thousands of tickets. It'll be harder to get a ticket for this than it was for George W. Bush to learn to say Barack Obama without giggling.

By the time the real "since Fall Out and Roxanne" fan gets a shot, the choices will be (a) A "cheap" seat in the Mount Everest section or (b) Pay a broker three times value. Include me out.

I think The Police are betting that their audience has now become nouveau riche middle-management types and can fork up the money and barely miss a mortgage payment. I think they figured right.

Whatever, it's big-time production Music-as-Business and I consider it to be at the basement of everything that myself and my family hold dear. It isn't the function of entertainers (especially artists and musicians) to build a stage that could contain a cruise ship and run ticket prices through the roof. The art should be above that, but I'm not naive enough to think that they aren't in it for the cash. It's a money grab, plain and simple.
In 1978, you could have paid 5 bucks to see the young, energetic Police, not this current bunch of Stung, Jerry Springer and Harpo Marx.
Could they charge half of what they do and sell the place out? You bet. But, they can also charge what they are and still sell it out.

What Would Jesus Do?

It should be illegal, but it is subsidized and encouraged.

Go figure.

Thirty-Fifth Time is the Charm

An image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft February 4, 2007 and released on March 1, 2007 shows never-before-seen views of Saturn. (NASA/Handout/Reuters)

Here we go, folks. Strap in and wait up for another little dose of crap coming straight from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Home of the Shitty Little Shrub known as George W. Bush ...

WASHINGTON - The government has missed all 34 deadlines set by Congress for requiring energy efficiency standards on everything from home appliances to power transformers, government auditors said Thursday. Two-thirds of the deadlines have yet to be met, although many of them are more than a decade old.

Because of the failures, consumers and corporations stand to pay tens of billions of dollars more for energy than they would have if the deadlines had been met, the Government Accounting Office said. It's "a blistering indictment of a culture of incompetence and delay," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said.

Blistering indictment ... I like that. It sounds like a sports metaphor - or a burn cream.

The GAO said that if the deadlines had been met on the four categories of consumer products that use the most energy — refrigerators and freezers, central air conditioners and heat pumps, water heaters and clothes washers — consumers would have saved $28 billion in accumulated energy costs over the next 23 years because the more efficient products would have been available sooner.

There ya go. We'll be paying for this administration's incompetence for the next 23 years - almost 6 Presidential terms, or 3 if Democrats get elected.

Many of the appliance and other equipment standards have been in limbo since 2001 after a rush of regulations in the closing weeks of the Clinton administration, energy efficiency advocates said.

Damned Clinton administration. Looking out for our environment and producing a healthy economy - in Peace-time. The lousy bastards. You suck.
Don't you know, there are priorities. Fighting wars, giving out tax breaks and mis-managing FEMA. It's hard to work in as much as a nap between all that junk. How in Hell did Billy manage to work in a BJ? Damn - that's efficiency for ya.

But really, what's the rush to implement some silly environmental regs? All that red tape just clogs up the process. The process that involves alienating 64% of voters, while the other 36% are looking around to see if you've got your finger up their ass.
You remember the process, right? Scare the crap out of you. Make you afraid of something. Make you ignorant of something and keep you distracted so you won't know what in Hell happened 23 years ago that you're still paying for. The Process. It's that thing that holds your nuts in place - right above George's chin.

Nowadays, The Process is playing the distraction game. The Washington Redskins used to run a play they called the "Misdirection Play", also known as a Counter Gap...

Looks and starts like a sweep, with offensive linemen pulling from the weakside of the formation. The intention is to get the defense to overpursue the play, while the halfback cuts back inside. The pulling linemen also turn inside to trap any defensive players who are at the point of the cutback. The play can only work when the defense buys the threat to the outside, or the offensive blocking is powerful enough to move the defense at will.

Read that last sentence again (in case you glazed-over at the sight of a sports metaphor) and tell me it doesn't apply to the way the media controls the flow of information. The government (offensive blocking) is almost always powerful enough to move us (the defense) at will, because we buy into the deception. We're suckers for it. Every time.
Stop following the blocking, folks, and you can stop the runner before he gets to the line of scrimmage.
The Process is filling 24-Hour news stations with Britney, Anna Nicole and miscellaneous runaway astronauts, missing adults and The Oscars. As of last night, Larry King was still on the Anna Nicole story, and Nancy Grace continued her marathon of muddle with another finely crafted hour of crap.

But The Process wasn't done. Last week they trotted out some junk about Oscar-winner Al Gore, saying that he used an inordinate amount of electricity at his home, flew in private jets and drove a big car. Some right-wing think-tank (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) known as "The Tennessee Center for Policy Research" made the claims.
By the way, calling a conservative organization the "Center for Policy Research" is another subtle bit of misdirection. If they give something a gender-neutral name, they can say what they want and the public will think that it's either: (a) a branch of the government or (b) an independent non-biased organization. Neither are true in most cases.
So, there they go ... that's the offensive line moving to the right. Meanwhile, Kalee Kreider, speaking for Mr. Gore said...

"The power coming into their residence is green, renewable power," she said, explaining that the Gores participate in a program called Green Power Switch, which is run through the public Tennessee Valley Authority. Green Power Switch supplies energy from renewable sources to its members.

Kreider added that a renovation of the Gores' house is underway to make it more energy efficient, an update that will include the addition of solar panels.

The quarterback is going to hand the ball off, and we're going to keep following the interference...
Paris Hilton was ticketed the other day for driving with a suspended license.....The body of Anna Nicole Smith is removed it to its final resting place in the Bahamas......“Extra” has all new video of Britney wearing a brown wig out and about in Santa Monica, California last night.


The President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Drew Johnson was unimpressed. "The energy he receives into his house is no different than what I receive into my house," he said. "He doesn't have a green power line hooked to his house."

A green power line? Are they looking for colored wires now? There goes the running back, off to the left. Are you still following the blockers? You're going to get mowed over.

Until it gets so hot that the TV doesn't work anymore.
Or you are so broke that you can't afford to have one.

Either way.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I'm starting to look forward to my Netflix e-mail's. They're quite fun. The latest one was titled:

Has F**K arrived?

They were looking for my help to see if the DVD had arrived when they said it would - Tuesday - the day I thought I was getting f**ked, only I got f**k. As usual. Their query centered around having me tell them that I got it when they said I would. The question was simple:

Please tell us when you received F**k, which was shipped to you on Monday, Feb 26, 2007.

I got F**k.
And now ... Here's why those precocious 5th Graders are smarter than some of us...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Q: Can you use isthmus in a sentence?
A: Isthmus be my lucky day.

Oh Luck, where is thy sting? Just like Brophy in High Anxiety, I run around all day yelling, "I got it! I got it! I got it! ... I ain't got it."

Chrysler workers got the lucky sting today...

DETROIT - Chrysler Group will offer all 49,600 hourly workers in the U.S. up to $100,000 to leave the company as part of a recovery plan announced earlier this month. The company, which lost $1.475 billion in 2006 and said it expects losses to continue through 2007, said on Feb. 14 it intends to shed 13,000 jobs, including 11,000 hourly positions and 2,000 salaried, as it tries to further shrink itself to match reduced demand for its products.

That's interesting. Every worker gets up to $100,000. Great. Meanwhile, the CEO and his corner-office pals who were chiefly responsible for the bad product decisions and shabby marketing will probably get severances that are two hundred times that much.

When times are good, the CEO Club pats themselves on the back and congratulates themselves for a job well done by awarding themselves generous bonuses, stock options and miscellaneous perks.

When times are bad, however, nor do they suffer or strife. They get even bigger bonuses to leave the company than they did when they were doing well. It's a pooch that can't be screwed. Imagine having a job where you are rewarded for both failure and success. Some luck, eh boys?


I opened my e-mail yesterday, and immediately thought I had won some sort of contest. But, alas it was just another false alarm. There it was, under the subject line:

For Tuesday: F**K

F**king cool, I thought. Was this some sort of Internet Fortune Cookie? If so, call me Hop Sing and lead me to the door. I'm not doing anything on Tuesday, and I could use a good F**K. It was only after looking at the From part, that I saw that it was from Netflix Shipping, telling me that my documentary movie was on its way, and would arrive on Tuesday. Perhaps, title-wise it was not the best choice for my initial exposure to the system.

That's right ... Mister Movie joined a video rental service. Not leaving my house represented a huge part of the equation.
Anyway, the box says, it's "Profound and Joyously Silly." Whatever. At this point, I'd settle for $100,000 and a B*****B.

Time Well Spent

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Got Change for a Million?

NEW YORK - Financial guru and best-selling author Suze Orman says she wishes she could marry her partner Kathy Travis, partly because it would save them both a lot of money.

"Both of us have millions of dollars in our name," she told The New York Times Magazine in its Feb. 25 edition. "It's killing me that upon death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa."

In a wide-ranging interview, the host of CNBC's "The Suze Orman Show" talked about her seven-year relationship with Travis and her personal finances. With a liquid net worth of about $25 million and real estate holdings of $7 million, Orman said she enjoys spending money and playing the stock market. She said she has about a million dollars in the market, "because if I lose a million dollars, I don't personally care."

Cool. Allow us to harken back to Sunday's post for a little perspective.

Meanwhile, here's a woman who gives out financial advice on the TV and in book form. Can you really trust your finances to someone who is so out of touch that she doesn't care about a million dollars? Her attitude kind of goofs with the whole "fiscally responsible" deal, doesn't it? Do I really want someone with such a cavalier attitude about her own money in charge of mine?

And, while we're at it ... where does love fall in the balance sheet of Suze's issues? People all over the country have been fighting for the right to marry the person they love in some form of civil union or another, and this one wants to get married so she won't lose half of what she has in estate taxes. How lucky for them that they found someone to love - who also happens to be in their tax bracket. Oooh ... the goose pimples. Well, as long as you have your priorities straight ... so to speak.

Besides, if you're dead, you'll lose half your fortune to estate taxes and you won't personally care. Because you'll be dead.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I'll Apologize for This Later

The pink shading represents areas where slaves made up more than 30% of the population in 1860.

RICHMOND, Va. - Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery.

That's great. A 150-year old apology. I guess that means that in the year 2157, the Texas legislature will gather and pass a resolution apologizing to the United States for George W. Bush.

Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery.

Umm ... there's a reason for that.

The measure also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans."

OK - well now, we're talking! But, you have to wonder if we have done enough for them since we took their land and killed most of them in the process. I guess all that coinage with their images on it, the sports teams gleefully named after them or the cool tracts of land we gave them in the desert southwest aren't enough. No, maybe not.

An apology to either of these groups may be well intentioned, but it strikes me as a waste of time and effort. Any progressively-thinking person regrets the way our country treated both of those peoples, but apologizing now isn't going to do either of them any good. People are generally locked into one thought or another about the races, and an apology may not be enough to sway them to start thinking right.

Haters will always hate.

The United Nations was asked to apologize, the University of Alabama has apologized. The Pope, Southern Baptists and Methodists have apologized, too. But those people are so guilt-ridden that they would probably apologize for an earthquake.

I kept asking myself, "Why are these apologies necessary?" It is unlike government to go out of their way to address a topic that is not pressing for an immediate resolution. Nobody ever willingly pasted a DO NOT SPIT IN THE WATER FOUNTAIN sign without first seeing someone spit in the water fountain. Governmental agencies are not creatures prone to proactive motions.

And now, the Sparkling Conclusion:

Generally, my answer to any question is either money or television. Upon finding an article about the apology for slavery by the U.N., I may have to add a third alternative, which is becoming increasingly prevalent in society.

Lawsuits. They are apologizing because they do not want to be sued.
Well ... as long as their motives are genuine.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Faster We Go, The Behinder We Get

An unidentified homeless man rests against the wall inside the Washington, DC, subway system. The gulf between rich and poor in the United States is yawning wider than ever, and the number of extremely impoverished is at a three-decade high, a report out Saturday found.
(AFP/File/Paul J. Richards)

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The gulf between rich and poor in the United States is yawning wider than ever, and the number of extremely impoverished is at a three-decade high, a report out Saturday found. Based on the latest available US census data from 2005, the McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty" defined as a family of four with two children earning less than 9,903 dollars -- one half the federal poverty line figure.
For individuals the "deep poverty" threshold was an income under 5,080 dollars a year.
"The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005," the US newspaper chain reported.
Let me tell ya something, folks. It isn't just the "severly poor" that are suffering. It's you and me and the rest of us who are not part of the Noveau riche, most of whom you and I work for. While I am concerned that the growth of poverty is out of control, I am also concerned that the so-called middle class is growing faster toward the bottom than the top. We are losing ground.

If the minimum wage doesn't move, then you know that the big money will outpace the little money. It only figures. The gang in charge in Washington and big business (kind of the same thing) have made sure that their million-dollar salaries haven't lost ground to people buying lottery tickets in their only hope to make any money.

Although, don't the bullies always pick on the weakest?

It quoted an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study as having found that since 2000, the number of severely poor -- far below basic poverty terms -- in the United States has grown "more than any other segment of the population."
"That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began," said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, a study co-author.
"We're not seeing as much moderate poverty as a proportion of the population. What we're seeing is a dramatic growth of severe poverty."
US social programs are minimal compared to those of western Europe and Canada. The United States has a population of 301 million, but more than 45 million U.S. citizens have no health insurance.