A planet called America, part two.

This morning I walked into work and said something to one of my co-workers along the lines of, “So, is your life any better now that Osama is dead?” She looked at me said, “OMG, the President is dead?” And I said, “Huh? What? No. NO. Osama. Bin Laden!” And then she squinted, looked at me curiously, and said, “What the fuck are you talking about?” Just then another co-worker held up the front page of the newspaper which had a huge picture of the deceased terrorist mastermind on it and a massive headline that said “BIN LADEN DEAD.” Or maybe it said “BIN LADEN KILLED.” Honestly, I can’t remember anymore. But the headline was huge.

from here.

A week ago I said to a friend: “Dealing with your enemies is simple and easy. The best way to combat them is to simply make friends with them. Make friends with them so hard that it hurts.”

It’s so weird to me still that one of the time I felt most unified with this crazy, amazing, fucked up country was on 9/11. The wost metaphor I could use here would be: It’s like that girlfriend, the one who’s really fucking amazing, if a little weird, and way too good for you, and you just treat her like shit. She should really quit you and your bullshit. You just don’t appreciate her and for some reason she just won’t leave you. And you don’t realize how important she really is to you until someone else threatens here. Some clarity only comes to us on the precipice of great and terrible disaster. Life is funny like that.

Part of me is glad that Bin Laden wasn’t captured and forced to answer for his crimes to us and to the world in person, though I would have wanted that, of course. Part of me was glad to hear that this was finally over, that everyone who had been wounded by the tragedies that seemed to be dialed up at this man’s fingertips can now crawl just one more inch ever so slowly and painfully into the past. I wouldn’t really call this “justice “though because, well, there is no such thing as justice. Scales aren’t balanced because Bin Laden is dead. His life will never ever begin to be equal in worth to those lost on 9/11 or those who have put on an military uniform and defended a certain set of ideals and beliefs that we all take for granted every single minute. America is a brilliant, beautiful idea, but not a perfect one, and it can be hurt and it can be dented, but it’ll always be stronger than some cheap thug, no matter where he lives, no matter what he looks like, no matter what he worships. It can only be killed by those who give up on the idea, or who sell it out bit by bit in the name of “freedom.”

from here.

The death of what we consider to be an evil man on the other side of the world doesn’t bring back all those special people that we lost but hopefully it helps some people to breathe easier. Hopefully it reminds us why those people were special to us and hopefully we never forget what they meant to us. I’d like to say that hopefully it makes us appreciate each moment we have on this planet all that much more, but we should’ve been doing that long before now, and of course should continue doing that to the moment we draw our last breath. Hopefully someone like Bin Laden will never ever come close to challenging that idea every again.

I’ll admit to being conflicted or just confused about this news and how I should be feeling, but I’m lucky. Lucky to be here, lucky to be typing this in the land of the free, home of the brave. I’m lucky that I didn’t lose anyone ten years ago on that strange September day or in the fights and wars that followed. Who Osama Bin Laden is and what all of this means is something for you to decide. I can tell you that I don’t view this man’s death as closure, but honestly, I won’t look down on anyone who gets it from this news.

Thank you, mom. Thank you, God. Thank you, Barack Obama. Thank you, Donald Trump (with your stupid ass hair and head full of shit). Thank you, Pakistan. Thank you, India! Thank you, everyone who’s ever stood up for what they believed in and put that belief above themselves. Thank you, Bill Murray. Thank you, internet jokesters and “expert thinkers.” Thank you, Doctor Who. Thank you to the moon and to The Onion, both. Thank you, mainstream media. Thank you, “Mission Accomplished.” Thank you, those who agree with me, and thank you to those who would never agree with me in a million years. Thank you, Jack Donaghy, and thank you, Condoleezza Rice and thank you, Margaret Cho (for guest starring on 30 Rock). Thank you, strange new/old world that has such people in it. Thank you, post-Now. Thank you to everyone who thinks this matters and everyone who knows that it really doesn’t. Thank you to all those who never forget and especially thank you to those who are doomed to remember.

I saw this picture posted on the internet a little while ago…

…and I had a might good chuckle.

The terrorists are always winning. And the terrorists are always losing. And the battle will keep raging and hopefully we’ll never forget what we’re fighting for or who we should actually be fighting.

It’s doesn’t even matter that Superman’s no longer an American citizen or that The Rock had the #1 movie at the box office this weekend AND knew that Osama was dead before you did because…

Well, because the story’s not over and the dream is never ending.

And like PKD said, Maybe the Empire never ended?

Like fake MLK said, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

It’s been over 24 hours now and tonight when I go to bed I’ll be thinking the same thing I was thinking last night, “Okay, so Osama’s dead. And what will tomorrow look like?”

Cthulhu Cthursday Miller Time.

The Great Old Ones enjoy some great cold ones.from here.

If Obama can bring people together to talk over beers, then why can’t fictional semi-religious horror icons like Cthulhu and Jesus do the same?

The time is now.


from here.

I woke up this morning and turned on the news. Old white men were screaming “FOR WHAT!?” and it took two minutes before I found out what they were so upset about: Barack Obama won a Nobel prize for Peace. Such an antiquated notion, but he won it for talking, for getting people excited, getting them hopeful, and, yes, because the rest of the world hated GWB that fucking much. On top of it, Jim and Pam got married on The Office, there’s a sequel to Phantom Of The Opera, NASA is bombing the moon (which I believe we talked about before, yes?), You can get strawberried M&Ms, and Marge Simpson is appearing on the cover of Playboy.

You’re wide awake, the time is now, and we’re all living in the future. Up next: Liquid hard drives, jetpacks, giving extraterrestrials reality shows about breaking into the music industry, and death rays!

The Kids Of America.

from here.

The kids of American are really and truly screwed. Their parents are fucking morons, and when they’re not being raised by their parents, the pop culture that babysits them is probably hurting them, lowering their intelligence. The fact that the President of the United States of America, a man elected with a resounding mandate from the people, can’t address students in a classroom in a non-political fashion to simply give them a motiviation speech is terrifying.

Almost enough to make you want to move to Canada, you know?

It’s kind of funny, thinking about some of the things I was saying about Mad Men yesterday, and so few things change. I mean, we’re so much more partisan, but other than that…

But then again, it’s not just Republican parents. Seemingly, everyone in this country is slowly revealing themselves to be idiots.

Oh well. It’s too depressing to talk about. No wonder we don’t have jet packs and flying cars. I’m going to go watch True Blood.

The House of Mice/Ideas.

from here.

Disney bought Marvel comics!

from here.

What that actually means in business terms. It’s interesting stuff. One thing: Payoffs, big time.

The top 70 Marvel comics panels of all time.

Sand castle codes.

Brian Jones’ death to reexamined.

The cinema of romantic revenge.

“I don’t know what color your eyes are, baby, but your hair is long and brown…”

What you need to know about one of the greatest comics ever, Love And Rockets.

Chris Brown blames Larry King for what happened with Rihanna.

Africans “under siege” in Moscow.

The five faces of Two Face and Rob Liefeld.

One of my favorite comics ever, Young Liars by David Lapham, presented to you in 17 panels.

Stray Bullets, also by David Lapham.

The future of contextual advertising.

William Golding, author of The Lord Of The Flies, was an attempted rapist.

How to deal with annoying friends.

Batshit nuts pastor prays for Obama’s death.

A remembrance of Sharon Tate.

India abandons their moon mission.

Jack Kirby and the severed head of Superman.

from here.

Symbolism and the $1 bill.

The sequential art version of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

Where science fiction gets serious.

Grant Morrison and Clive Barker.

New Batgirl. And you know I like Batgirl.

Someone is actually adapting Shhh! by Jason into a film. Nice.

Akiva Goldsman to write a reboot of those shitty Fantastic Four movies.

Science ponders zombie attack. The gist of it: We lose.

“Although George Michael had only got to second base, he’d gone in head first, like Pete Rose.”

I know I’m a few days late to acknowledging this picture but at this point and time in my life, I honestly care as much about this as I do for universal health care. In fact, both would be nice. I’ve seen that Obama-as-Superman grafitti all over the world, and now I want to see new episodes of Arrested Development (or a movie, yeah, sure, okay) playing in the waiting room of the hospital where I’m getting doctors to prescribe me antibiotics for all my many, many, many needs for free. Yes, please, and thank you.

The politics of the here and now.

from here.

I like that Obama can get away with moves that we’d all hate Bush for doing. Yeah, it’s a kind of double standard, but it also goes back to this: Who would you rather get a beer with, Obama or Bush? If you answered “Bush” to that question, then keep it to yourself.

Your movie sucks.

Roger Ebert!

“I lost faith in the Oscars the first year I was a movie critic–the year that Bonnie And Clyde didn’t win.”

-Roger Ebert, 20 questions with Playboy.

He’s not Pauline Kael, but you know what, he doesn’t need to be. Film review is a tricky patch of dangerous woods to get lost in. Nobody is going to share your thoughts and feelings on a film more than you are, with your own voice, so your best best is to find someone close. For me, there’s probably four or five reviewers I always check for a movie, sometimes just because I want to dip into the quality of their words and their opinions, and while the critics on that list shift from time to time, Ebert is always on there. I’d say that he and I agree something like 93% of the time on a movie, and that’s even better than you can get from your friends sometimes.

Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz.

For example, I just got a text from a friend telling me how good Transformers 2 was and have I seen Knowing yet because they thought the trailer looked really, really, really, really, really, really cool.

Unrelated, email me if you want to be my friend. Please be interesting and not sucky. And have good taste in movies?

I grew up on Siskel and Ebert at the Movies and their simple thumbs up/thumbs down. Too simplistic a criterion sometimes, sure, but the there were two things I absolutely loved about their show: It was for the regular people and the reviews were based around having a modicum of intelligence. Were you Joe Average movie goer who wanted to know if a movie was good or not? Great, they could tell you. Were you a snarky pretentious film major who wanted to talk about metaphors and eros being sick and the shapes of regrets in the shadows and the male gaze? That’s cool, but you could slum it nicely with Siskel and Ebert.

Another thing I loved about those guys that I didn’t realize to much, much later was the fact that they probably hated each other:

Sometimes the bigger the asshole you are, the more authoritative you seem. In that regard, Gene was like us and Roger was a prick. Catholic and Jew. Good cop and bad cop. Holmes and Watson? Close, but no. Together, they were Tango and Cash, even though one looked like a car salesman and the other looked like an old school lesbian.

Remember when they guest starred on Jon Lovitz’ horrendously underrated The Critic back in the 90s?

Ha ha, Brilliant!

“Dammit, Gene, I’m not Roger! I’m never gonna be Roger! I wish I were!”

Ah… RIP Siskel.

RIP sleazy porn mustache:

Also, Roeper fucking sucks. Seriously.

Some of my favorite bits of Ebert:

- Dated Oprah way back when. Credited with suggesting to her that perhaps she should go national? And then she became one of the most powerful entities in the universe.

-His favorite actor is Robert Mitchum and his favorite actress is Ingrid Bergman.

-He actually went to the other side of the biz and co-wrote three films!

And they were wonderfully horrible: Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens, and Up!

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert, OG film people, in 1970.

And no, not this Up:

Though that does look like a crotchety old version of Ebert, right?

-By the way, that quote referenced in Austin Powers: “It’s my happening and it freaks me out!” is from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.

-He’s written more than 15 books (some just collections of his reviews) and his column is syndicated to over 200 newspapers. And in 1975, he became the first film critic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

-In 2007 Forbes magazine named him “the most powerful pundit in America,” taking a lovely shit on even bigger windbags like Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly.

-He has his own film festival! And it’s charmingly called Ebertfest.

-I’m so jealous of that last bit (though, to be fair, even no talent hacks like Harry Knowles have their film fests so really, it’s no big deal, I know) that in a few months I’ll be hosting my own film fest: Marco Sparks Beyond Thunderdome! Email me for details.

-In 2005, Rob Schneider criticized a Los Angeles Times reviewer for giving an unfavorable review to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and said that the reviewer was unfit to comment upon the film because he didn’t have a Pulitzer. Ebert then stepped in and said that since he did have a Pulitzer, he was qualified enough to say to Schneider: “Your movie sucks.”

-They later mended fences as human beings when Ebert had some health problems.

-He’s a big public supporter of Werner Herzog, even as Herzog’s popularity has waned. In a move of special thanks, Herzog dedicated his 2008 film Encounters At The End Of The World to Ebert.

-Back in 2004, while guesting on Howard Stern’s show, he predicted that the then-junior senator from Illinois, a guy named Barack Obama, would be very important to the future of this country.

-in 2002 Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has had a slew of health problems relating from that, including having a part of his jaw removed, causing him to lose his ability to speak (but not the ability to write, so suck it, Clive Barker). This is hardly one of my Ebert greatest hits, but I love that he not only has one of those computerized voice systems (think: Stephen Hawking) but that for a long time, he programmed it to speak for him in a British accent and he named it Lawrence.

-Oh, and let’s not forget that he sometimes chills with party animals like the eternally classic Peter O’Toole and the forever skeezy Jason Patric:

And then, of course, there’s always…

The Brown Bunny.

Yes, the Vincent Gallo movie. My personal take on it: This is a really bad movie, almost unwatchable. But if you do watch it, you can kind of – if you squint and are hopeful – see what Gallo was going for, and see that he has a filmmaker’s soul somewhere within (though he may have snorted it off of someone’s asshole). Sadly, you can also see his dick.

But back in 2003, Ebert saw the movie at Cannes and said that it wasn’t just bad, it was the worst film in the entire history of the Cannes film festival. Upset by that, Gallo then cursed Ebert health, and put a hex on him, wishing that he got colon cancer.

Ebert, in response: “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”

Gallo then, in response to that, took the high road and mocked Ebert’s obesity, saying that he has the physique of “a slave-trader,” to which Ebert came back with: “It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of The Brown Bunny.

They’ve since worked out their differences and have probably even hugged a few times.

The best of Ebert’s reviews for films that recieved zero stars:

- “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

from the review of Freddy Got Fingered.

- “Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame…’This movie,’ said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, ‘is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen.'”

from the review of Caligula.

- “Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes. … Does this sound like a movie you want to see? It sounds to me like a movie that Columbia Pictures and the film’s producers … should be discussing in long, sad conversations with their inner child.”

from the review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

- “I like good horror movies. They can exorcise our demons. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t want to exorcise anything. It wants to tramp crap through our imaginations and wipe its feet on our dreams. I think of filmgoers on a date, seeing this movie and then — what? I guess they’ll have to laugh at it, irony being a fashionable response to the experience of being had. … Do yourself a favor. There are a lot of good movies playing right now that can make you feel a little happier, smarter, sexier, funnier, more excited — or more scared, if that’s what you want. This is not one of them. Don’t let it kill 98 minutes of your life.”

from the review of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

- “Dirty Love wasn’t written and directed, it was committed. Here is a film so pitiful, it doesn’t rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent… I am not certain that anyone involved has ever seen a movie, or knows what one is.”

from the review of Dirty Love. And last, but not least…

- “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

from the now infamous review of North.

I’m glad Roger Ebert’s still with us, I really am. And more importantly, I’m glad he hasn’t stopped doing what he does best: going to the movies and reporting back to you what he’s found there. He’s treated the public like a friend and shared wonders and horrors with them. He’s the reviewer for everyone. He can talk to you, he can talk to the people smarter than you, and he’s not too scary for the people who are dumber. And he’s waiting there in the dark for the projector to start.

Blood in Persepolis.

The situation with the protests over the election results in Iran have been fascinating. And captivating. Not necessarily in a good way, but like  car crash, you can’t look way. And you’re hopeful that things will turn out okay.

I work with a Persian woman. A few days ago, re: the situation in her home country, she asked me, “Doesn’t this shock you?”

I said, “No. I’m from California.”

from here.

“It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes – the United States can be a handy political football, or discussions witht he United States [can be]. Having said all that, I am deeply toubled by the violence I have seen on television. I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent, all of those are universal values, and need to be respected. And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, they are rightfully troubled.”

-President Obama, with some real talk. People are criticizing him for not getting more involved, but he’s got a hell of a point.

One of the green party supporters of Mir Hossen Mousavi helping an injured Iranian police officer out of danger during the escalated violence of the riots.

I saw this floating around on tumblr yesterday:

Change your twitter settings t say you are in the Tehran timezone, and chng your location to Tehran.

Iranian censor are filtering by these settings to find dissidents, by doing this you can make things  bit more difficult for them.

Some further reading:

State Dept. to Twitter: keep site up in Iran.

Observing social unrest online at 32,000 feet.

Iran’s day of anguish.

Andrew Sullivan over at The Atlantic.

Revolutionary guards arrested in Iran.

McCain unhinged.

An amazing collection of photos from the riots on flickr and from here.

The candidates in this past election:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (top left), the current president who claimed victory in the recent election, though many people believe that the challenger, former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, is the actual winner with Ahmadinejad actually coming in third. The sad thing is: It probably doesn’t matter since, despite what the people want, the Ayatollah is going to decide everything.

One of the people who feel that Ahmadinejad lost was Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi. And here’s an interesting picture:

How does your vote count go down as the votes being counted?

The saddest part is that our best, our most realisic hope, is that the violence stops soon and that people aren’t hurt too bad by whatever comes from the outcome. A massive regime change in Iran? Not likely.

Reading the latest updates on the protests yesterday, my co-worker held back tears and mentioned that she has a sister living in Iran, and that while she knows that her sister is currently safe and is avoiding this danger at all costs, she’s still understandably terrified for her.

Then she got a phone call from her family: the son of a friend of a friend of the family had been killed in one of the protests in Tehran. She didn’t know him, but the connection had just gotten that much more serious to her, housed even deeper inside her. Her homeland, her family, even people she had only heard of before. Everything was connected in this.

After a while of not saying anything, she finally said, “but maybe some good will come of this.”

I asked her what she meant and she told me that of course she didn’t want anyone to die, or to suffer, like people were doing now, but she didn’t want people to be in this situation again. You never want to have to need a revolution, but maybe some good will come out of it. I don’t want to use a cliche about breaking a few eggs to make an omelette, so I’ll leave it at something even simpler and perhaps more cliched: It’s never wrong to hope for a better tomorrow.

Analog Series Finale.

Friday the 12th! That just sounds funny to say. So non-monumental, you know? Either way, today’s the last day of normal analog TV here in America. Here’s a graphic I stole on how people are not fully quite ready for the switch over:

from here.

Not that people didn’t have all the time they need. The switchover, which we had had plenty of warning about, was originally supposed to happen back in February but was pushed back to today.

Something about inadequate funding and people being stupid about the changing technology. Speaking of Obama up there, I was in a fast food place yesterday (sigh) ordering some lunch (but it was a salad, thankfully) and Obama was on the TV speaking somewhere or other. It was a nice bit attacking people for me thinking that he actually wanted the government to have to be responsible for multiple industries in this country. But then he attacked parents who let their kids eat junk food and drink all the soda they want and then just sit in front of the TV for hours and hours with no real excercise.

But I liked it. One of the many reasons I like Obama. Granted, he’s not the first person to throw down a little real talk about child obesity, but it’s always good to hear because you know WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

Not that I’m knocking watching TV. I fully support watching TV (though I wish what was usually on the TV was better), but whoever you are, no matter how good or how bad of shape you are in (physically)(because if we’re talking mental health, that’s a subject for another blog post, perhaps one by Benjamin Light or Peanut or Lollipop, but not me, because I’m pleasantly crazy, thank you very much), go do a little exercising. Go soak in a little nature. Eat a little healthier. Don’t torture yourself about body image or what others want/look like, but just be healthier. Do something, okay?

The rabbit ears are gone. Time to tune yourself into a better channel.