Current World Events That Threaten Our Safety and Sanity Ranked From Best to Worst (an ode to Buzzfeed)

  1. Dystopian Young Adult Literature
  2. Bruce Jenner’s Current Gender Status
  3. Ebola Now a Thing Because It’s In North America
  4. Teresa Giudice
  5. The slick production values of ISIL recruiting videos
  6. The poor production values of Stephen Harper’s Attempt to Stick Canada in a Middle Eastern Quagmire to Fight ISIL
  7. Homeland without Brody
  8. The search for that missing Malaysian air liner that has turned into a de facto sequel to The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper
  9. The swarm of October mosquitoes I saw on the bus the other day
  10. The degradation of privacy in an increasingly on-line world please click this link to allow us access to all of your personal banking information.
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How I’m Feeling Much Older Than My Years (Brought To You By “These Kids Today”)

Murtaugh: he was too old to take a shit. (Based on my flagging memory of the film. Interesting to note that Danny Glover was ten years younger than the ageing LAPD cop he portrayed in "Lethal Weapon". Well, it was interesting to me.

1. Yesterday, a kid on the subway offered me his seat. Fuck him and his manners! (That response did little to erase the look of youthful concern from his eyes, but it did make him sit back down.)

2. Grocery store incident #1: check-out girl hears me say that I don’t need help with a carry out. She still flags down a flute-voiced pituitary teen and he provides a carry out all the same. (First me, then the groceries.)

3. It took me a full day to understand why a Bob Marley documentary was released on 4/20.

4. It took me a full two years to understand what 4/20 signified.

5. I have spent the last day considering how to start an opposing 4/21 event for squares like me, but can’t find a suitable sponsor in the world of “straight laces”.

6. Grocery store incident #2: check out guy asks, with great delicacy, how I feel about “your eggs lying on top of your milk”. Do I look that fusty and button-downed? “Eggs and milk lying together? Sounds sinful. I’d better check with my spiritual advisor before you ask me about the hot dogs and bagels.”

7. In one conversation with a youthful co-worker, I had to explain both The Friendly Giant and Knight Rider. Kids today have no handle on the classics.

8. Steadfast in my belief that Justin Bieber is nothing more than Paul Anka with a bad haircut. Or Simon LeBon with a better one.

9. Equally steadfast in the belief that HBO’s new hit show Girls is nothing more than Entourage with vaginas, talent and genuine laughs.

10. Saw ads for Fifty Shades of Grey and thought not of sex but Grecian Formula.

11. I had to research most of the preceding pop culture references on the Google.

12. Still call it “The” Google.


What Everyone Can Learn From ‘This American Life’s Retraction of Mike Daisey’s Apple Monologue

Wherein the horrors of human rights abuses overseas that are employed to benefit the lives of those in the West are neutralized by a playwright's fudging of the details.

For those who may not know of the recent egg that Ira Glass looked to wipe off the face of This American Life’s face, all you need to know is that the American public radio capo di tuti capo was displeased that a play he saw one time about the nightmarish working conditions and culture of human rights abuses at Foxconn, an American-owned factory in one of China’s Free Economic Zones in Shenzen, contained factual inaccuracies. (For those unaware, China decided that Communism applied to almost every inch of the Motherland, with the exception of a few areas that see little or no taxation or government interference in the hopes of stimulating economic growth–so, for any upstart nations out there, the key to becoming the pre-eminent global economic power is to mash-up the worst aspects of far-left and far-right ideology. See you in 2040 Sierra Leone!)

That Mr. Glass thought a play would adhere to a level of journalistic accuracy is bad enough (or as he states on the Oprah-approved episode-length guilt trip TAL laid on monologist Mike Daisey, “…if someone stands on a stage and says something is true, I believe it”–note to Mr. Glass’ friends, keep him away from Spamalot), another is the stand Daisey took in defence of his outright balderdashery in the face of kid-glove fact-checking (“…I knew this was one of the best works I had ever done”), which sends the mercury skyward on the James Frey-thermometer of outrageous self-promotion cloaked in ‘art’.

With this in mind, a handy list of lessons learned from this whole debacle. (Sidebar: the preceding paragraphs contain hearsay recollections of the “Retraction” episode of This American Life and at least one glaring factual inaccuracy, an out-right lie actually, but one that does not undercut the general truth of the piece–I mean, if you go to blogs for “facts” instead of “truth”, that’s really your problem, isn’t it? Anyway, those are some of the best words I’ve ever written.)

Don’t believe a riveting story just because of where on the edge of your seat it puts you: If this were not a truism for all to abide by, the greatest literary argument would be over which is the finer chronicle of American history, Salem’s Lot or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

If you write a crackerjack story, don’t pretend it’s all true and not expect a might comeuppance. Didn’t anyone see Street Smart? Probably not…1987 movie from Cannon Films starring Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman in an Oscar-nominated role playing a pimp who thinks that a journalist’s recent (and wholly fabricated) story is based on him and might provide a key to his defence in his trial for murder. It was a shame what happened to that nice Christopher Reeve, isn’t it? In the movie I mean, not in life. Well, that too.

If you’re planning on airing a crackerjack story on your journalistic program, maybe don’t take “I don’t have her cell phone number” as an excuse to back off your fact-checking. Ira Glass did take full responsibility for less than due diligence on the factual end. But it only came in and amongst the ritualistic flaying he laid down on the hapless Daisey for daring to enter into his corduroy-lined inner-sanctum at WBEZ. Which leads to…

Outsourcing is bad. There is a delicious irony with a creamy nougat center in this situation. Surrounding a story about the treacherous work conditions that a “civilized” First World has exported overseas in an effort to have cost-effective playthings, is a cautionary tale about a journalistic enterprise that outsourced their reporting to an unreliable source and felt betrayed when the workmanship broke down not long after purchase.

Perhaps interesting only to me: I did not verify my assertion that Foxconn is an American-owned corporation but I did check to see if Morgan Freeman won the Oscar for his role as the pimp Fast Black. Note to This American Life producers: do not set me loose on any aspect of the upcoming Presidential election or you’ll wind up saying “Dewey Beats Obama” and how do you retract that?


How to Best Use Your iPad 2 (A Note of Condolence Upon the Release of iPad 3)

"Now I can finally throw my Zune in the trash."

  1. Cutting board
  2. Complement to Compaq LTE 386 laptop bookend
  3. Line bottom of budgie cage with New York Times e-subscription
  4. Donate to underprivileged children and open up world of endless possibilities get distracted on way to “Inner City” and use as a seat warmer on taxi ride home
  5. Create virtual effigy of Steve Jobs to burn: realize that without Retina display it’s an admission of defeat that is cold comfort to Jobs as he toils in eternal hellfire
  6. Sharpen edges and try to integrate as “jumbo ninja star” in the show you’ve been pitching for the last two years, Ultimate Sumo Wrestling Challenge
  7. Crack open to sell for parts: once inside, befriend slender bird chiseling on a stone tablet who shrugs and somehow masters vocal capacity enough to croak “It’s a living”
  8. Download Android app
  9. Research terms related to obsolescence: predict that it will take the balance of your life time to recover from related pictures of horses and glue factories
  10. Sell it on eBay: use the proceeds to buy yourself a delicious Kit Kat bar

Crossword Clues That Suggest Your Favourite Puzzle Maker is Phoning it In (Or Having a Nervous Breakdown)

"Honey? What's a seven letter word for 'simpleton'?"

  1. “Actress Thurman (3)”
  2. “Health club for relaxation, massages, mud therapy (3)”
  3. “Worst occupation for a frustrated novelist and one that his mother promised he would fall into if he didn’t get a law degree (9)”
  4. “Actress Uma (7)”
  5. “Follows ‘A’ but precedes ‘E’ (3)”
  6. “_____ Knock? Who’s There? (5)”
  7. “___ Vegas (3)”
  8. “‘I don’t get no _______’: Dangerfield’s lament, suitable for occupations other than stand up comedy (7)”
  9. “‘There’s Something About ____”; 1998 comedy and coincidentally the name of soul-crushing whore who cheated on me with  my best friend and took all the good  bath towels when she left (4)”
  10. “‘_____ Crowne’; 2011 alleged ‘comedy’; name of ex-best friend
  11. “Jean-Paul Sartre novel; apt description of my feeling when I look over high school yearbooks (6)”
  12. “The thing that a wristwatch helps you figure out (4)”
  13. “I don’t know–what’s the opposite of content? (10)”

How to Write a Michael Crichton Novel

"A team of genetically enhanced monkeys band together to write a thrilling novel about sentient voting booths..."

Well, now that he’s been dead for awhile…

 

How to Write a Michael Crichton Novel

 

  1. Scour newspapers for hot button topics with a technical slant, like cloning or on-line predators or the race to create the largest flat screen television
  2. Alternately, try to create a situation or innovation that would cause great concern if it existed, like robot monkeys who learn to pick pockets or a deadly virus that only targets good mechanics and air traffic controllers
  3. Create a cast of rich, compelling characters and place them in a dire situation so the reader will care about the final outcome, thereby creating suspense; scrap those plans and sketch cardboard, ersatz humans who belch paragraphs of technospeak and then lay a monotonous line of hurdles before them
  4. Remove multi-syllabic words from your  vocabulary, and only use verbs when absolutely necessary; if it doesn’t read like an insurance claim, then you’re aiming too high
  5. Plan your novel first by writing a quick outline; upon completion, shrug and submit outline as finished product
  6. If your outline is a little thin, consider fattening with a couple of subplots, one a romance and the other, I don’t know, a car chase?
  7. Lobby Webster’s to accept Crichtonesque as an entry for the new edition, thereby validating your career and protecting you from future lawsuits from the Chrichton estate
  8. Consider the dullest aspect of your novel’s setting/premise and let that dictate the title; e.g., if your novel is about the creation of a teleportation device in post-Stalinist Russia, it should be titled Quantum State Preservation or Borscht
  9. Find an empty box and fill it with all literary ambitions; tape that sucker tight and put it in the garage because, brother, you won’t be needing it

New Year’s Promises to Myself: A Timecapsule

Nuff said.

I dug around a box of old photographs today and found a list that I must have written when I was twelve. What a world I must have expected to find myself in come my forties. Was 1981 really that long ago? I must have been having a string of woe-is-me-can’t-wait-to-be-an-adult-and-not-have-people-tell-me-how-much-salt-on-my-hard-boiled-egg-is-enough moments that culminated into this early Bucket List draft, before the whole idea of such a thing was ruined by aged Boomers (who either were or weren’t Rob Reiner).

Transcribed typographically, although it does bear mentioning that the following was written on Seeing Things stationary and embroidered with Simon &  Simon decals. I always had a taste for crime solvers, whether of the twin or extra sensory perception type:

NEW YEAR’S PROMISES TO ME WHEN I BECOME A GROWN-UP

  1. Eat entire Pepperidge Farm Vanilla Cake by myself (accomplished, although not until my mid-twenties and as a salve for a broken heart that lead to my first coronary stent)
  2. Avoid open heart surgery until really old, like mid-twenties (check)
  3. Play every day (only if Solitaire counts)
  4. Never, ever, ever stay overnight at a hospital. Period. (ruined this only once when I had a hernia operation in my nineteenth year, but only after I exhausted every other opportunity including out-patient service and George Foreman’s At Home Abdominal Wall Suturing Kit)
  5. Play goal for the Stanley Cup winning Toronto Maple Leafs (even at that tender age, I exhibited an almost paranormal ability to hedge my bets)
  6. Read every Hardy Boys book (accomplished, although they always got a little preachy around the one hundred page mark)
  7. Make sure I solve micropill energy pill dilemma so I can use that belt-loop rocket system I invented and become superhero Cut Off Jeans Rocket Boy (I’m still working on that one, although I saved my shorts)
  8. Never go to a Rolling Stones farewell concert (Done!)
  9. Hold onto this full head of luxurious, golden hair (…um, well..)
  10. Never use this new-fangled ‘camcorder’ technology to ‘tape’ myself doing anything embarrassing that might show up to haunt me in some futuristic computerized archive system available to mostly everybody in the world and stopping me from becoming President of the Universe (at least half of that is true)
  11. Gain almost three times my current weight, publish just one book, and then ride into the sunset of my life counting myself lucky to be thought of as a curious footnote in the annals of pop culture history, if that (it’s like I had a crystal ball–I love the kid version of me!)
  12. If I can’t be with the one I love, love the one I’m with (I listened to a lot of radio)
  13. Do a little dance, make a little love, get down most nights–except Thursdays ’cause that’s when Hill Street Blues is on and will always be on
  14. Never forget that thing the wizard told me in my dream that he promised would guarantee a lifetime of happiness…you know what I mean, don’t you future Jesse? (Nope. I hate that kid.)
  15. Don’t worry about fulfilling your dream of going to New York and standing on top of one of the World Trade Towers–you’ve got all the time in the world! (See? What a dick.)