Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shit That I Dig (November 19)

Nah, I'm not going to sit here and sing the praises of Kennedy today, but rather I'm going to sit here and sing the praises of Stephen King's latest book. I was more than a little skeptical about the premise of King's latest novel 11/22/63. It is a time travel book, which sounded pretty stupid to me when I initially read about the book. King's last book, Under the Dome was a crapfest of the highest order, so I was hesitant. I shouldn't have been. 11/22/63 is King's best book since Bag of Bones and quite frankly deserves to be held up with his better works. He is not dealing in horror here, although there are some nods to the genre, but rather the book seems to be a blend of his other period pieces (Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, The Body, and The Green Mile come to mind) and his less grotesque Dark Tower books (think the underrated Hearts in Atlantis). King gets a bad rap. As a writer he is often ridiculed as the literary equivalent of junk food. Is he a literary artist that weaves his tales in prose that scrapes the sky with its abition? No, but his mantra has always been to serve the story. If he tortured over each word like Joyce, he'd only have put out about a third of his current output and probably not be appreciably better as a writer. Nah, I'll take King as he is because King's best works are Americana for the late 20th-early 21st centuries. 11/22/63 is an homage to a simpler time, a world that has gone by, but King doesn't whitewash the past. He shoves the reader's nose in the shortcomings and problems of the past while still longing for a simpler, purer life. And he does it all while trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, among others, from making the world a darker place. It's a great read. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Makin' it Rain!

So apparently some dude in North Dakota was having some personal problems. To help nurse him through the tough times, he decided to visit the local gentleman's club for some stripper therapy. Since he was having problems, he was forgetful and just wrote a check, which the club took. Before we get any further in the story, who still writes checks? I can never find my checkbook, because I only use it for occasional bills. Talk about a dying concept. Anyway, this guy wrote just over $8,000 in checks that of course bounced. He's now being prosecuted for theft and planning to vigorously defend his name and honor. Is it just me, or did he lose the opportunity to defend his honor and name when he wrote checks for lap dances? I mean c'mon dude, throw a few twenties around and go home. Eight grand at a strip club? Who did he think he was, an NBA player? This world is filled with morons...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Shit That I Dig (November 5)

All hail the 'foot! It goes without saying that I would dig Chickenfoot. I mean it contains the most fully functioning half of Van Halen: Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar and guitarist Joe Satriani. Somehow they convinced Will Farrell to play drums for them... The first Chickenfoot album was a bit of a glorious mess. It exists primarily as a really polished demo, the songs were rough, but they reflected the influences of these musicians. It sounded like a group of guys from the mid-70's just trying to rock out.

What I'm digging today is their newest album titled III. It is full of fully developed rock songs, and it seems to exist just for the pure enjoyment that these guys have for playing together. As far as some sort of cultural impact goes? These guys are too old and their reputations are such that it will be considered some sort of throwaway, but this is an ambitious recording, dealing with some pretty mature thematic ideas (well, except for the song Bigfoot, but somehow it works in the context of the album). My favorite song on the album is difficult to identify as this album is fairly diverse. Hagar is singing a little differently, something that Satriani wanted and Hagar pushed Satriani into playing differently as well. Which is kinda the point of this album, these guys who could just crap out 10 jam sessions and release them, pushed each other to do something different. It is pretty cool. One last thing, you'll listen to this album and realize that Eddie Van Halen must have been out of his mind to let Michael Anthony get away.

Not what I expected and more than I was hoping for, Chickenfoot III is the goods. Check it out if you are in the mood for some solid rock.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Whew, that was tough. I just had to get that out of my system. The idea that Kim Kardashian was being somehow critical of her 'husband' for chasing fame just doesn't get any funnier. I still think Kim is pretty hot, but just because she got famous because she let Ray-J pee on (in) her doesn't mean that she should get all judgy.... you know? Besides, just think about how much money there is in televising divorce procedings.... And you know there's another video coming out right?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It Seemed Like a Fairy Tale

There was a time once, it feels so long ago now, when Lindsay Lohan was slowly devolving from a bright-eyed young actress into a major multimedia meltdown. She had just released her sonic assault on the American auditory nerve and rather than focus on the acting that made her famous in the first place, Lindsay decided that she needed to hang out with some hotel heiress and her bitchy group of friends. It was also about this time that the potential for gossipy snark on the internet was just being discovered. It was a match made in heaven.

Now, I may have some of the specifics wrong, but it was about the time that Lindsay started acting like a sweaty coke-whore that her parents' special brand of crazy started to come out, introducing us to Dina and Michael's scary Day of the Dead/Zombie apocalypse visages; their love of attention only narrowly outpacing their love for drugs and booze. It begged the question, what kind of chance at any sort of normalcy did young Lindsay and her siblings have?

Fast forward a couple of years. Lindsay is on the verge of the double whammy known as bankruptcy and jail and as a last ditch attempt to cash in on her rapidly vanishing looks and name, agrees to get naked for Playboy for a shit-pot full of money. The same week this is announced, her father is arrested not once, but twice. The first time for allegedly getting pissed that his 'girlfriend' (a piece of shit in her own right) won't suck his dick, the second time for getting out of jail, getting high and trying to make nice with the same lady. Now, I know that I cannot make this claim with any sort of scientific certainty, but do you think that these two news items might be related?

All I know is that it is even money in Vegas that Lindsay is going to be in some sort of gonzo-porn with Taylor Armstrong and Michael Sorrentino right before their 2013 triple suicide overdose.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ben Affleck? Really?

No, this isn't a case of the curious hairline of a hack actor, which I guess could be a running theme had I the time and inclination to write about such trivialities. This is my protest post against Ben Affleck the auteur who 'stretched' into a director, adapting Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone and Chuck Hogan's The Town into movies.

Affleck has done yeoman's work evoking credible acting performances from himself and his brother, in small stories set in the wicked mean streets of Boston. His ability to take on larger projects is still to be determined, but that hasn't stopped anyone from telling Ben that he should take on a modern classic like Stephen King's The Stand. The Stand is a huge book, a daunting narrative that has thus far defied decent adaptation. I just hope that Ben's ready for the heat as I would hate to see another Gigli moment...

Shit That I Dig (October 22)

Now, you are asking yourself if I really needed to emphasize that I think Salma Hayek has a great rack? The answer is no, I think my thoughts on that are well known. No, the subject of today's post is actually the writing of a gentleman named Don Winslow. If you've ever seen pictures of Don Winslow, you will understand why I didn't lead with a picture of him. The picture of Salma will become clear later...

I have read two books written by Winslow in the past month. They are two of the most visceral books I've read in several years. Winslow's writing focuses on crime and criminals, but unlike many authors, Winslow is not afraid to provide an unflinching look into the world where these criminals exist. It is often horrifying to read, but the storylines are compelling, if a bit familiar.

The biggest problem with reading genre literature is that after a while the conventions of the particular genre become stale and annoying. I know that with few exceptions, my ability to read fantasy has been gone for years. I sometimes fear that the same thing his happening with crime/mystery/thriller novels. Winslow's books have acted like a kind of buffer for that process. His writing in the novel Savages, which is being adapted into a movie (with Salma Hayek playing a drug kingpin), borders on the brink of ridiculousness, but he manages to maintain the tone of an almost fever-dream, as if the writer, along with most of the main characters, was viewing the events of the novel in some sort of marijuana haze.

I usually love to go out and get more of an author's work as soon as I finish something that I've liked and I did that with Winslow, reading the novel The Power of the Dog. It was more conventional than Savages, but it was still a great read. I'm holding off on buying more Winslow, at least until I clear out the reading queue, but I'm already plotting out which of his books is next. The very definition of shit that I dig.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is It Time?

For an intervention? Or at least someone to tell this young lady to get her shit together? It may come as a surprise to many that I am a Christina fan. She's got great pipes and she was the one genuinely talented girl to come out of that Britney/Christina/Jessica/etc... school. She is great, but she has lost her way. I feel bad for all of these young pop stars who have to grow up in the public eye because their parents have shitty lives and want to live through their kids, but as sad and predictible as Britney's meltdown was, I find this somehow more sad. When the pictures from Michael Jackson's tribute show came out, my first reaction was that they had hired Roseanne Barr to put a wig on. I was stunned when I read the name on the caption. It is too bad. Here's to hoping she recognizes the opportunity she has before she loses it all.

Shit That I Dig (October 11)

So apparently, I am a person that hops on trends and kickass television shows four or five years late. I heard the buzz on Lost, checked out an episode and dismissed it. Four years later, I'm in...and a huge Lost nerd.

Similarly, I heard the buzz on Mad Men when it debuted. I checked out an episode. Didn't work for me. Fast forward four years, I'm browsing my Netflix queue, and what do you know, AMC has streamed Mad Men for the masses. I check out episode one and the next thing I know I'm spending my weekend just killing episodes like a gamer goes through Mountain Dew. I cannot explain it, but damn if this isn't one of the most amazing television series I've ever seen. The writing, acting, hell everthing about this show is just quality and compelling. Just watching it made me want to drink scotch and cheat on my wife (I have abstained from both, but, you know...). So that's why Don Draper is on my blog and heaven help us, I just ordered up HBO again, specifically to utilize HBO Go, to get The Wire and Game of Thrones. So watch out...

Why I Still Hate Al Davis

I recently made a comment on Facebook about how I have never forgiven Al Davis and that I hope he rots in some sort of state of eternal punishment. I just wanted to take some space to explain myself. I grew up in northern California as an Oakland Raider fan. I LOVED the Raiders. My parents raised me right: I was taught to love the Raiders, like the 49ers, and to hate the Steelers, Cowboys, and all things Los Angeles. It was a simpler time. The Raiders in the 70's were colorful, goofy, and more than slightly dangerous. They wore the silver and black and were proud of their outlaw image. To a child growing up during this time there was the Raiders and there was Darth Vader... both were badass (and don't get me started about how Darth Vader was going to be redemptive or save the force or whatever... Darth Vader was a badass who snapped necks and could choke your ass out just by wanting it to happen. That was some cool shit). My parents like to tell the story about how I used to cry when the Raiders lost. Like that shit was funny... Losing sucks.

In 1981 Al Davis decided to tell the Bay Area to fuck itself and moved to Los Angeles. This was in spite of the fact that the Raiders had (and still have) a rabid following that had an unprecedented sell-out streak and the love of the entire area. All of those 49ers fans in the 80's? Most of them were fans by default, because Al Davis was an asshole. L.A. of all places? By the time of the Raiders move I was old enough to understand what was going on (and before you ask, no I didn't cry), so I decided at that moment that the Raiders and Al Davis were dead to me.

He never made a pretense of anything other than what his move to L.A. was, a cash grab. And since he was so unapologetic about his being a jerk, I have been and will continue to be unapologetic about my hatred of Al Davis and his stupid pompadour and sweat suit. So I'll say it one more time: I hate you Al, I hope you rot away in some special level of hell.

I feel better now...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Post-Season Baseball

Is there anything more exciting? I'd argue that there isn't. I know that baseball gets a bad rap for being boring and slow, but you know what? There were three game five elimination games this week, all of them decided by 1 run. I'm still pissed about the stupid Brewers beating my Diamondbacks yesterday, but I'll get over it eventually.

I'm torn about who to root for out of the four teams remaining. Normally I'd root for the Brewers due to the fact that they've never won a World Series and they have Craig Counsell on their team, but their behavior in the NLDS was too much. Screw them, but I also cannot root for the Cardinals either because I want Tony LaRussa to go the hell away. So I guess I'll be rooting for the AL this year, which is painful. But at least the Tigers and Rangers are good stories... and the NFL is just killing it right now.


I cannot believe how we've missed on so many... Al Davis was a visionary, back in the late sixties and early seventies he was the perfect owner: he knew the game inside and out and was willing to take chances on people who didn't fit in elsewhere. His Raiders were a band of thugs before it became colorful. They were dangerous, but that was 40 plus years ago, the Raiders haven't been relevant in years (although they are finally making strides) and Al had become a national joke. Too bad he was such an asshole, or you'd see some kind of Steinbrenner-esque outpouring of fake love and respect this week. As it is, people will express surprise, because deals with the devil usually pay off better than looking like the Cryptkeeper.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I can only guess at what hi-tech gadgets Steve created to keep him entertained during the long dirt nap. He was a visionary, a legendary asshole, and one of the most influential people of the last 40 years. It was a hell of a run, I hope he finds peace. I cannot believe that no one took him in the pool...

Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I never knew...

that sitting around doing smack made you look like this.... Maybe Axl should mix in a little Skinny Bitch margarita in with the Night Train. Drop some lbs...

Celebrity Shut Up Fool!

Two in one day? How 'bout three?

Amanda Seyfried or whatever the hell her name is apparently told some Euro rag that she is in therapy to calm her panic attacks brought on by the pressures of fame. Shut the hell up you alien-eyed freak. Here is the simple solution to your problem: quit making movies and television. If acting is your calling, go do Broadway or some other stage work, you can make your living in any number of ways. Once your fame is gone, you'll be fine. Trust me, with as fickle as our culture is, it won't be more than a month or two before you're a footnote in Lindsay Lohan's obituary. I did like your work on Mean Girls though, I'm intrigued by the idea of your weather prognosticating breasts....

Finally, Johnny Depp is on record as equating photo shoots with rape. Really Mr. Sparrow? All reports are that you are a great guy and I'm sure getting your picture taken while a team of assistants caters to your every whim is tiring, but rape? How 'bout you take that civic conciousness that you're famous for and go work with rape victims for a couple of days, it might give you just a bit of perspective. Dick.

I Don't Get It

I generally don't feel sorry for celebrities. They are afforded a lifestyle that anyone on the planet merely dreams of having. As far as I am concerned, they can take the slings and arrows in exchange for their opulent lifestyle. That said, I don't understand the viciousness of the internet when it comes to Jennifer Love Hewitt. I look around and they are on her shit any time she goes out in public.

So what is her sin this week (and damn near anytime her name comes up)? She's not anorexic, she's not 19, and she's not married? I think this is her problem, anyway, I can't see it. Is this the most flattering outfit she could wear? Of course not, but I'd guess that most women would have some issues trying to pull that dress off. Oh well, I'm sure she's drying her tears with towels made of old hundred dollar bills that she didn't feel like spending...

Shut Up Fool! (October 4)

See, I told you I had one coming, I just wasn't sure who I'd be writing about. Today I was going to grouse about Hank Williams and his fuzzy Obama = Hitler analogy, but I found something that irritated me even more than that scar-faced hack. No, today I am going to use former Chicago Bear Dan Hampton as a launching pad for my political diatribe.

Before we get started, let's talk about how fortunate Hampton is to have played for a team that has somehow hoodwinked a generally lazy media into believing that they were one of the greatest teams in NFL history. That shit is just not true in any way shape or form. They had a great running back, great defense, average quarterbacking (I'm being kind here...) and wide receivers that they picked up off of the local community college. Actually, they are exactly like the current day New York Jets, but these guys managed to actually win. Anyway, Hampton's legacy is one of gravy training Buddy Ryan's system, saying stupid shit in the press, and generally acting like a little bitch when people start to question the 85 Bears' greatness. He was a solid d-lineman, but he was never in the class of the greats like Reggie White or even Charles Haley. Honestly, he is Mike Golic if Golic played for the Bears instead of the Eagles.

Anyway, apparently the 85 Bears never actually got to go the the White House due to the fact that the week they were scheduled to go was the same week the space shuttle exploded in 1986. Rather than reschedule, the appearance just kinda faded away. Which is what Dan Hampton should have done. Instead, President Obama has extended an invitation to the 1985 Chicago Bears team to come visit the white house and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their Super Bowl victory. It should be a pretty cool event. The president is from Chicago and is a big sports fan and the Bears can bask one more time in their collective greatness (the Super Bowl Shuffle notwithstanding). But this isn't going to work for Hampton. According to ESPN, Hampton is gonna pass. Wanna know why?

"It's my own personal choice," Hampton said. "I don't choose to go. No family, no kids. Honey's going to the White House, and you tell your kids and your wife, 'Oh, I'm sorry. You're not invited.'

"Secondly, I'm not a fan of the guy in the White House. And third, it was 25 years ago. Let it go."

Look, I get it if you are bummed that it is a players only invitation, but then we get to the crux of the situation. He's just not a fan of the president. Ahhhh, too bad. I'm glad he's such a principled clear-thinking fellow, this "Danimal." The man is damn lucky to be alive and out of prison with multiple DWI convictions, but he is taking a moral stand against the invite.

I get that it must be a bummer that you cannot take your wife to the White House, it would be an amazing experience, but what really gets me going when dealing with idiots like Hampton or Bocephus is the lack of intelligent conversation regarding the politics of our country. We all just jump on our convenient labels and call each other names instead of actually looking at what the hell is going on. It is just mental laziness. It might actually be enlightening to study up on the issues and when the president goes to shake your hand, try to engage him for a moment, who knows you might even learn something. At the least you go, meet the president, take in the historic sights and sounds, experience what 375,000,000 people could only dream about, and try and be gracious.

I could go on and on (I already have I know...) but Hampton's teammate Steve McMichael gets it right:

"They said, 'Are you going?' Because there are a couple of my teammates that aren't going to make the trip," McMichael told's Jeff Dickerson. "But let me tell you something, I don't care who the president is. I don't care what's going on in the government, if I'm against a war or what. If you are somebody that the White House wants to honor, and you're a citizen of this country, it behooves you to show up and look at it like an honor and a privilege.

"I told them I'm going to have bells on."

In other words, shut up fool!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sad Props to Sheri Beri....

It's better late than never.... I suppose, but due to our morbid, horrible game Sheri picks up 61 points. She easily vaults into the lead, but K-Rock has some old geezers still holding on, so it could get crazy down the stretch...

Shit That I Dig (October 1)

I know that this place is a malestrom of whining, cynicism, and breasts, but I feel like mixing it up a bit. Starting today will be a regular feature I'm calling Shit That I Dig. It's classy and elegant, just like Snookie and you may never see it again, but I promise I have another Shut Up Fool! post coming soon...

So what do I dig today? Ron Fucking Swanson, that's what. I despised the first several episodes of Parks and Recreation when they aired. It was like the creators took all of the shitty parts of the American version of The Office and made their own show of these disparate parts. I did not like, but then a funny thing happened. The showrunners discovered that they had other people in the cast other than Amy Pohler... And once the focus came off of Leslie and her pit, the show became amazing.

My favorite part of the show has to be Ron Swanson, the woodworking Libertarian who actually runs the Parks Department of Pawnee. There is nothing about Ron that isn't awesome, from his mustache to his desk full of ground chuck. The best part is that each little discover about Ron gets parceled out in a fantastic ensemble cast of characters allows the writers the freedom to keep Swanson as a powerful presence without overwhelming the show, there's never the feel that he's going to become Kramer, if you know what I mean.

I love what this show has become and the idea that a man can deliver lines like "you had me at meat tornado." I just hope their ratings improve so that those crazy kids at Entertainment 720 can figure out their business plan... Speaking of which check out their website at

Where Is My Stake...

No, I'm not asking because I'm hungry. I really just want to know what needs to be done to finish off the production of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Or should I have phrased that as a question... I'm not sure and I cannot think because of my rage at what has become of this once mighty comedy juggernaut. Actually, what I am enraged at is not the show, which has devolved into a pale, humorless facsimile of itself, but rather with the fact that this show now bores the hell out of me.

It is almost exactly what has happened to The Simpsons now that they have run out of ideas (actually the Simpsons have been out of ideas longer than they had them at this point, but I digress). The show was founded on the idea that these four idiots lead horrible delusional lives and do depraved and selfish things. The best episodes came out of the abyss that was their lives. Episodes about finding a dumpster baby, using their shitty bar to relive their high school experiences, or just clinging to the belief that their dreams of fame or success were still possible for them despite all of the mounting evidence against it ever happening. These were what made the show great, not the current crop of 'hey, let's put the gang in some whacky situation, like the Jersey shore!'

I know I'm flailing against the machine, that they have two more years of production left in them, but I'd rather see the gang go out with a dignity and grace that they have never allowed Dennis, Dee, Charlie, or Mac to ever have.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Jumps into the lead.... I know this place is a wasteland, tumbleweeds are threatening to take over, but while I sort that all out, K-Rock needs some props. She went with the old and infirm in this years pool, and things are breaking her way with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor. Liz was pretty hot back in the day, but her perfume has always reminded me of two skunks raping each other.... Thanks Liz, hopefully someone doused in white diamonds follows you around for the eternities.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

It's Awards Time!

So it is again time for the annual Hollywood circle jerk known as the awards season. Notice I didn’t capitalize that crap.....

The big winner in Hollywood seems to be Hollywood itself, because few, if any, people outside of that little cavalcade of freaks seems to care about who one that award for being the most shallow and duplicitous human being in a pool of shallow and duplicitous people. I do like the idea of gathering all of the Hollywood glitterati into an auditorium at one time, if only we could get the Russian special forces in there to work on the air-conditioning system...

And then there is the whole controversy about Jay Cutler’s tampon falling out on national television. Gee, a guy whose entire career has encompassed a self-centered, it’s not my fault attitude failed to exhibit toughness when his team was down and only one game from the Super Bowl? Color me shocked. Two years ago, Phillip Rivers played the AFC championship game with a torn ACL. Maybe Cutler’s girlfriend should go out and buy that strap-on since she’s got the only pair in that couple...

So Jack LeLane has died.... No one picked him because I don’t know that anyone knew he was still alive, but regardless, there is still no leader of the 2011 Dead Pool, which has been compiled below. Apparently the defending champion has not deigned to compile a list for this year, ensuring that there will be a new winner, or at least a different name at the top of this years pool.

Finally, the Egyptians are trying to reassert their long denied legacy of political craziness.... Just remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Anwar Sadat was gunned down. Between all of this political unrest and the shootings in Tucson, I am coming to believe that political violence is caused by the heat. Or by the thought that America is celebrating Sofia Vergara and they aren't....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Plastic Surgery is a Bitch

What the hell did she do to her face? How old is this girl? Why is her face lumpy like Meg Ryan's? It shouldn't look like this until at least 2020....I knew she was nuts and all, but damn. It may be time for the 2011 version of Homer's Hot 10, just to get her the hell off of the list.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bring Out Your Dead

I'm still waiting on some people who are allegedly putting their pools together, but in the meantime I just wanted to write a bit about two people who I never met, but nonetheless deserve some recognition as they have passed in the short time 2011 has been here.

The first is bass player/songwriter Phil Kennemore from Y&T. I've written in the past of my love for this band. Growing up in the Bay Area in the 80's and listening to hard rock/heavy metal, you could not escape Y&T. The band never got the recognition they deserved back in the day, but have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of years. The band was on tour in the midwest last year when Phil's back started to hurt. It turned out to be cancer and six months later he's gone. Music is an intensely personal thing, so I just thought I'd pay homage to a man whose music I've enjoyed since I was a freshman in high school (which was a long damn time ago).

The other is a man who needs no tribute from me, but will get it anyway, is Major Richard Winters whose military career was documented in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. The man was simply what all men aspire to be, but know somehow that we'd fall short. Without the sacrifices of men like Major Winters, the world would be a much worse place.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Warning.... Offensive Language Inside

Huckleberry Finn – The NewSouth Edition

I was at lunch the other day when the topic of the NewSouth Edition of Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn came up. Being surrounded by people who share my love of books and literature, we all shared the same bit of outrage over the idea of an editor and publisher coming along and sanitizing a work of art that has stood as the quintessential American novel for over a century. Huckleberry Finn is part of the fabric of our culture, for better or worse.

The heart of the controversy is, of course, the use of the word nigger in the text as it refers to the character of Jim. The NewSouth edition removes this word and replaces it with a word that the editor, Dr. Alan Gribben, feels conveys the same meaning, without the negative connotations. It also cleans up the word Injun so that "both novels can be enjoyed deeply and authentically without those continual encounters with the hundreds of now-indefensible racial slurs."

My immediate reaction was disgust. Then I took a step back and reflected on what this all means, which to be honest isn’t that much.... No one reads Huck in classes anymore, and the language has changed so much over time that it has become a difficult read for younger kids, so the only thing this really affects is a college student. So upon reflection, how do I feel about the whole thing?

I have two words for Dr. Gribben and his ilk: fuck you. I know that Dr. Gribben will never read these words and that using a profanity is likely to have my opinion discounted, but the sentiment is real. Words matter, that the intent of an author, especially one like Twain, is reflected in the words they choose to use. Twain used nigger (critics like to cite the fact that it is used 219 times in the novel, when you count the table of contents) for a reason. If you don’t like it, then don’t read it. It is very simple. If the book is assigned as part of a college curriculum, then guess what buttercup? You need to man up and read the book. What you will learn is that you should be offended by what you learn in college; you should be challenged to question your beliefs, whether they are religious, social, or historical.

The general perception of this new edition is mixed, but two writers from the Washington Post seemed to sum it up best for me. Alexandra Petri wrote:

The word is terrible. But it's a linchpin of this book. What makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn so radical is the fact that in a time when the horror of slavery was still fresh and the specter of inequality hung over the whole country, Mark Twain was still able to use satire to show how wrong it was.

Huckleberry Finn is uniquely marvelous because it is of its time yet manages to transcend it. In spite of the limitations of vocabulary, cultural expectations, and racial stereotypes, it lays bare the inhumanity of slavery through the power of satire. To remove it from this context is to strip it of its power -- and to needlessly whitewash a period that deserves no whitewashing.

There is nothing quite parallel to this sort of change. It's not about avoiding an awkward classroom moment, or they would have removed the word "ejaculate" from Victorian novels, where everybody is always ejaculating about everything.

Jonathon Capeheart picks up from there with this:

It's that awkward classroom moment that I want to zero in on. As the only black kid in class, I know all about those awkward moments. Reading aloud and hearing passages in history books about slavery or in literature about the disparaging views and treatment of blacks the awkwardness for me would range from embarrassing to painful. Each utterance of the N-word or some other derogatory term (say, coon or darkie or Sambo), even in context, was like a kick to the groin that hurt worse than that time in the fifth grade when I got a little too cute on the balance beam after school.

But I wouldn't trade that pain for a cleaned-up version of history in order to make me or anyone else feel better. Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I prefer the unvarnished truth to one sanitized for my protection.

Great art does not exist to make us feel better.... it exists to teach us something about ourselves, so when we go around putting fig leaves on statues or editing out words we don’t like out of books, we aren’t hurting the works so much as we are hurting our chances of learning from our past, both positively and negatively, and for that I sincerely hope Dr. Gibben and company apologize.

The Walk of Shame 2011 Edition

1. Jamie Pressly was arrested for DUI this morning.... I couldn’t bring myself to put the mug shot up as I have a weak constitution this evening. Suffice it to say that she looks like she mistook her character from My Name is Earl for a template for life.... Funny enough, People magazine is saying that she looks ‘dismayed’ but otherwise well put together in her mug shot. I suppose, if you are into the Meth-Chic movement. Now if we could just get Catalina to jump around for a little while...
2. Khloe and Lamarr are going to get their own reality show, allegedly. What the hell did we do to deserve this? Oh yeah, her smaller sisters are hot. How does that reflect onto this monster though?
3. Apparently John Mellencamp and Meg Ryan are getting their farmer freak on. Good for them, although it would have been a lot more interesting and relevant twenty years ago.... Too bad he’s obviously gone blind, Meg is more than a little frightening anymore. Since I’ve never seen the movie, can someone confirm or deny that Meg starred in that new Piranha movie? Although Meg Ryan in 3-D sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Dead Pool 2011 – The Abraham J. Simpson Division

I know, you would think this would be the C. Montgomery Burns Division, but I’m convinced that between Smithers’ sycophancy and medical science, Mr. Burns will end up immortal.... Not a lot of points available with these guys, but they are a surer bet than the Coleman division. Anyway, these are the old bastards that have hung on against all odds, but are going to take the dirt nap this year (finally!):

Abe Vigoda - Really? This guy is still alive and processing oxygen? He was old as hell on Barney Miller and that was a loooonnnnnggggg time ago. He still does voice work, which is good because it allows him to continue making payments to the Devil (who has facilitated his longeivty), but it is past time for Abe to shuffle off this mortal coil....

Clint Eastwood – has been making movies for, what seems like, an eternity. His turn on Birth of a Nation signaled a new era in art, and he was a badass mutha in the Dirty Harry movies. When you see him now though, you see a man who has traded places with the Crypt Keeper.... He has a Hollywood-esque “surprised” look about him, one that isn’t a result of surgery, but rather the look of a man who is mildly surprised he was able to get out of bed in the morning.

Betty White – It’s been a nice story. Really it has, but you can only cheat death with human sacrifice (Rue Mcclanahan) for so long. In other words, it’s going to get mighty cold in Cleveland real soon.

BB King – The last of the men laying claim to the title “King of the Blues” is also the least talented of the three (Freddy and Albert were so much better.... but BB is good on television). Too bad he’ll be meeting with the real Lucille before 2011 ends.

Wayne Newton – How old is this miracle of modern medicine? Only 68? The man’s face has looked like a futuristic robot mask since the mid-70’s.... I’m voting him only because he’s far enough removed from his ill-fated attempt at purchasing the Aladdin that he’s finally going to get his gangland-style execution.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2011 Dead Pool Part 1: The Gary Coleman Division

I was inspired by Bill Simmons today as I was pondering my Dead Pool. He usually breaks up his NFL picks into divisions, usually named after notorious players or coaches.... So I am going to break my picks into two parts, the first is what I am calling the Gary Coleman (Under 50) Division. Here are my five under 50 year-old selections to expire sometime during 2011:

Todd Bridges: The last man standing as it were. He's been sober for a few years now and living the good life. Well, as good a life as one can live with a crippling crack addiction in ones past.... couple that with his memoir and his lovingly told tales of drugs and depravity (he really liked telling about the time him and his drug dealer buddies found crack-whores that they could violate with the handle of a Louisville Slugger.... He's a prince), that it just feels like the ghosts of Conrad Bain and Charlotte Rae will just haunt him into the grave this year.

What? Conrad and Charlotte are still alive? Who knew?

New Jersey Shore girl(Deena Nicole Cortese): Calling my shot here. If they are bringing this woman in to ramp up the crazy, then the only thing I can assume is that after her and the situation bang, is that Snookie and Angelina are going to butcher her like a hog while J-Wow and Ronnie line up some fat rails on her corpse.

Kevin Smith: What is a dead pool without a big fat guy? I'm not saying that Kevin has let himself go, but I heard that when they were thinking about planning the Star Wars sequels (movies 7-9) they asked Kevin if he wanted to play Jumbo the Hutt, you know Jabba's brother who is out for revenge. Kevin would have taken the part but Lucas didn't know how to work the Jumbo and a donkey footage into the green screen.

Megan Hauserman: I know, another reality whore, but c'mon. She was only saved from a brutal murder last year because of some dude's animation fetish, I figure between her spiral to strip-club irrelevance and the fact that she's looking for one last ride on the fame express that we'll read about her deep love of Bret Michaels in her suicide letter.

Vince Young: He's rich, entitled, and enabled.... and he just got fired. It is only going to be a matter of time before Vince gets in another strip-club confrontation ends in an OK Corral-style shoot out.