Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tis Ths Season To Be Phony

While listening to the radio the other day (more specifically, the Dan Patrick Show -- gotta love that hair) I heard an advertisement for something called the American Express Gift Card. Beneath the whimsy, the ad claimed that during the “holiday season” (which I suppose now begins as Halloween), people should give gifts to their friends, family, and co-workers in the form of something they actually want. Therefore, claims the voiceover, one should give American Express Gift Cards, which can be used at any of the thousands of places that take American Express.

My first thought was typically cynical. A person who gives such a gift is blatantly admitting that they haven’t clue one as to what sorts of things their friends and family are interested in. A card with a gift certificate inside practically screams:

“I don’t want to appear inconsiderate, so here’s a bunch of money that you can use to buy any consumer product that you wish – products that I would have bought you myself if I wasn’t so lazy and oblivious as to your personal desires. Merry Holiday Season.”

Later, as I was mulling this idea over in my mind, a second thought struck me: Why not just give cash? If you are going to go through the trouble of NOT shopping for someone, why not just stuff a C-Note into an envelope and be done with it? Why all the pretense of a “Gift Card?”

I realize now that the truth lies directly with the synthesis of these two thoughts: People are lazy and stupid, but cash gifts are too transparent a reminder of how lazy and stupid they are. The Gift Card is the eidolon that fools the recipient into believing that the giver actually put time and energy into their gift, when in fact, they did not. It is as negotiable as cash, but with its metallic gold coloring and fancy script, sidesteps the tackiness of a folded up twenty dollar bill.

Phony gifts for phony people to give their phony friends.

And the wheel keeps turning…

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

From The City Which Brought You Gladitorial Games

Just a quick update today to prove once and for all that I’m not overtly biased towards American frailties and idiocy. Responding directly to the Damocles-like threat of the Avian Flu, the every-growing population of homicidal maniacs who blow up bus stations in the name of their invisible deity, and other such pressing global concerns, Italy stepped up to the plate and nailed a two-run blast of utter stupidity that will resonate with cynics and entropy fans everywhere.

In their first stunning legislative action, the city of Rome banned fishbowls. That’s right, the home of Vestal Virgins, Fiddle-Playing Emperors, and Vomitoriums, has finally put an end to the centuries-old torture of brainless aquatic sea life by making it a crime to keep goldfish in round bowls. It’s not illegal to eat fish, mind you, just to keep them in bowls of water. Animal rights activists certainly know how to split hairs, don’t they? In the words of animal lover and city council member behind the law Monica Cirinna, “It’s good to do whatever we can for our animals who, in exchange for a little love, fill our existence with their attention.” Do you get the feeling that Monica Cirinna needs some attention from someone other than her goldfish?

"Nobody knows the troubles I've seen..."

Earlier in the year, the city of Turin, home of the world’s largest stained bed sheet, had instituted a $600 fine for anyone who didn’t walk his or her dog at least three times a day, also in the name of animal rights. If you thought Meter Maids were the most overbearing law enforcement officials on earth, then consider who exactly would be enforcing the new measure. Not to be outdone by their progressive neighbor, Rome passed a similar law that would also assign jail time to any person caught abandoning a cat or dog. Ironically, abandoning goldfish is not mentioned in the new statute. However, the law would also provide “legal recognition for cat lovers who provide food for the colonies of strays which live everywhere…” I can only assume that such recognition would come in the form of a tasty, tuna-flavored treat followed by a lengthy scratch behind the ears.

While thousands are recovering from devastating natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, while thousands more are being mercilessly killed by brainwashed terrorists clinging to archaic superstitions, while perpetually totalitarian states move towards the annihilation of all that is decent, the world can rely on Italy to put it all into perspective.

Free the goldfish, and the world will follow.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

This Is What Happens When You Don't Have Premium Cable

And you thought having more than a dozen pairs of shoes made you a shallow, selfish person.

Consider Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, happily married since 1983 and living in Arkansas. Jim Bob is a real estate agent, and his wife, well, “homemaker” doesn’t exactly begin to capture the complexity of her career. “Automated Uterus” is more of an apt title, for you see, The Duggars have 16 children, including two sets of twins.

That’s not a family, that’s a litter.

But the Duggars are as happy as a brood that size can be, and are planning on having even more children, which they consider, “a blessing from the Lord.”

Tonight, your ovaries are mine!

The children, whose names pretentiously all start with the letter “J” are awaiting the completion of their 7000 square-foot house, where they will each get their very own 9’ X 9’ cage complete with water bottle and feeding tube. Actually, according to the article, they are to be housed “dormitory style, which I can only imagine means that they will sleep in bunk beds and use stacks of empty pizza boxes as nightstands.

Forget about the fact that your planet is already straining at the seams with the undisciplined progeny of history’s dumbest generation. Sixteen spoiled brats are but a drop in the bucket for the anthill you call home. But did these people contemplate the psychological damage that they are doing to their offspring (besides saddling them with asinine names) and to themselves? No of course not, because the “Lord” told to them to go forth and multiply. Ironic that the teachings that they follow by rote were theoretically penned by a deity who only had one son.

First off, take Mrs. Duggar, the Human Ovary. She was married at seventeen years old; meaning that she most probably has done absolutely nothing with her own life. No teenage girl idles away rainy afternoons doodling in her diary and daydreaming about spending the rest of her life throwing up every morning and receiving epidurals every nine months. Speaking of which, since the human gestation period is nine months, and Michelle Duggar had her first calf at 21, plus taking into account the two sets of twins, that means that she has spent 93% of her adult life pregnant. I’m sure that’s exactly what she envisioned the first time she played “house” as a seven-year-old.

Michelle Duggar, wishing she had gone to Prom with anyone but Jim Bob

Now consider the fact that the average cost of raising a child in America to age eighteen is a whopping $181,481. And that’s for one child. Assuming that the Lord is remiss in his blessings for the rest of their mating seasons, the Duggars will be responsible for $2,903,680 worth of diapers, glow in the dark Nikes, Pokemon cards, pasta meals shaped like cartoon characters, and home pregnancy tests for the girls. That’s not including the cost of braces, Karate lessons, or therapy for little Jinger (or the cost of the enormous quantity of tequila this couple must consume on a daily basis in order to make them decide to name their child “Jinger”). Jim Bob sells real estate in Arkansas, and even if he inks the deal on every single trailer sold in the state, it would still take him 35 years to earn that kind of money. And forget about the neccessities: if Jim Bob wanted to take his entire family to see some schmaltzy Disney movie, and buy them each a small popcorn and drink, it would cost him $230. I suppose they could either wait for the DVD or pray that the “Lord” will bless Mr. Duggar with a lottery jackpot or early heart attack.

Finally, think about the children themselves. A child should, at least in the early stages of life before the crushing, numbing shock of reality kicks in, believe that he or she is a special individual, a physical manifestation of his parent’s love. When you’re one of sixteen, and have a name alliterative to the rest of your siblings, how could you possibly feel like anything other than a serial numbered collectible? Those children are nothing more than the products of their parents’ selfish narcissism, and subsequently, will develop into bitter, hateful, maladjusted creatures with major emotional disorders.

A Freudian Analyst's Wet Dream

Or they’ll buy matching sequined jumpsuits and tour the country as the Jesus’ Jolly Joyful Jerkoffs. Then they’ll host SNL and thank their late father who will have died three years earlier from coronary thrombosis.

Except for Jinger. After a massive six-state manhunt he’ll be arrested in Wichita with fifteen headless bodies decomposing under his back porch. At trial, he’ll refer to the corpses as his “blessings from the Lord.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Next Up On ESPN2, Full Contact Go Fish and Extreme Juggling!

As much as I take pleasure in deconstructing the news articles of the day, it’s important to examine the society that breeds such news in the first place. In order to accomplish this, we need to stick under the microscope those things that have had a momentous impact on the collective unconscious. I’m talking of course of the people and events which humans, and Americans in particular, relish, admire, and worship – in other words, those things that are completely and utterly worthless. I’m not sure exactly why you people insist on idolizing the inane and useless, but idolize you do, to the point of mania. As we are limited by bandwidth, we’ll take a look at only one of these sacred cows at this time, and carve it into delicious, bloody bite-sized pieces.

I’ll be talking today about Non-Competitive Sports.

As far as I am concerned, there are only three true sporting activities that exist on your planet: Baseball, Football, and Basketball. I could extend the parameters and include Hockey and Soccer, but they are essentially the same sport played with completely different equipment, but resulting in the same three hours of non-scoring tedium. Any sport that can conceivably end in a tie is not worth watching in the first place, and thus, not worth discussing. Then there are the peripheral sports like Tennis, Jai Alai, Volleyball, and other activities that share specific characteristics: In order to be properly classified a sport, the activity must contain both offensive and defensive elements, strategy, physical activity and a winner determined by objective scoring.

This is a rather simple definition that eludes spectators of the hundreds of other pastimes engaged in by half the world. Take Golf, for instance. Golf is a challenging and entertaining activity, at least according to rich, boring, white guys, but it’s not a sport. Why? There is no chance for a player to be defensive; there is only offense. Same goes for Bowling, Archery, Darts, Billiards and pretty much anything played at a bar after six pints of Guinness. Furthermore, certain activities exist which contain both an Offensive and Defensive element, but no physical activity – Poker, Chess, Dominoes – and are rightfully classified as “Games.” Rule of thumb, if you can play it over the internet, it’s not a sport.

Quick! Get these guys some Gatorade!

There are some activities that come pretty close to being a sport, in the sense that they are physically demanding, but miss the mark in every other category. Track is an example of this. While running 100 yards is arduous and physically demanding, it is not a sport. For one thing, there is no Defense, (other than running faster than your opponents), no strategy, (other than running faster than your opponents), and scoring is determined by time, rather than goals or points scored. Therefore, Track is not a sport, but an Exercise. Same goes for Swimming, Skiing, Auto Racing (also known as Making Left Turns For Five Hours), and other any other time-scored event.

The worst offenders can be found at the Olympic Games, the most unmistakable realization of irrational nationalism, corruption, substance abuse and flag-waving your planet has to offer. We know that the Olympics have nothing to do with sports because they offer hardly any sports in the first place. Want proof? Take Gymnastics.

Gymnastics is a brilliant display of physical conditioning, poise and concentration, but it is in no way a sport. For one thing, there is no direct competition. One athlete walks onto the mat, does some flips over what appears to be a leather bench, and then walks off. No one attempts to tackle him, tag him out, or cross check him into the parallel bars. There is no real-time strategy, as the gymnast merely goes out and performs the exact same routine that he has been practicing every morning for four years at 5 AM ad infinitum until he pukes on his Romanian trainer’s shoes. Worst of all, the athlete’s final score is determined in a completely arbitrary nature by a panel of judges, many of whom harbor generations-old, seething hatred towards the athlete’s home country. Physically demanding? Sure. But so is hauling garbage or moving pianos, and those aren’t sports either, and no one has to suck up to the French to be successful in those endeavors. Ice Skating, Diving, and Synchronized Swimming are additional examples of activities that have no place in modern sporting arenas.

Vegas had 2-1 odds that this guy couldn't pass a urine test if he studied for it

Then there are activities that used to be everyday procedures, but because of MTV, Mountain Dew, and savvy marketing campaigns, they have been falsely re-classified as “sports:”

Cycling: Cycling isn’t a sport, it’s a way to get from point A to point B. The fact that one guy can do it faster than another isn’t exactly spellbinding. Almost everyone in China rides a bicycle – are they all athletes?

Skateboarding / Rollerblading: That’s what you do when you can’t afford a bicycle.

Cheerleading: Cheerleading is not a sport, it’s young attractive women dancing in short skirts. There is no difference between Cheerleading and Exotic Dancing, other than the two-drink minimum. Cheerleaders exist to boost morales of the real athletes, and give them a place to massage their sweaty hands after the big game.

Add some German techno and a brass pole, and you've got yourself a sport

Hunting: Killing animals with a weapon and then eating them isn’t a sport, it’s what people did to survive before the invention of grocery stores. I'm not even going to start talking about Fishing.

Martial Arts: While Karate and the like are indicative of years of physical training, contain both Offensive and Defensive components, and are scored using a precise, objective scale, they aren’t sports because the original purpose of Martial Arts was to provide warriors a way to kill their opponents in the event they have been disarmed. If someone takes away my .45 during a bar fight, and I beat him to death with a barstool, my actions reflect an intent of self-preservation, not athletic competition. Same goes for Fencing, Javelin, Shotput, and Caber Tossing – they all have roots in military tactics, not athletics.

Outdoor Sports: Chopping down a tree or walking over a log spinning in the water is part of everyday life in West Virginia, hardly a sport. Should we also televise people who deliver mail, change sparkplugs or flip hamburgers?

I realize that there are plenty of people who spend countless hours training, practicing, and competing in events that lead to the acquisition of a trophy, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a complete waste of time. Just because you’re better at something than someone else, doesn’t make you an athlete. I can drink five scotch on the rocks in an hour without passing out, but I don’t expect to be on a box of Wheaties anytime soon.

And to you people who rush home from work to catch every possible competitive event aired on ESPN, do yourself a favor: Go grab a ball and a mitt, and play catch with a friend. You’d be doing the world a favor.

Monday, October 10, 2005

On Whom Is Al Sharpton Going To Blame This One?

Kind of puts everything into perspective. What's more devastating: 20,000 people being crushed to death because a hole opened up in the Earth, or 1,000 drowning because they moved into a city 10 feet below sea level?

I'm just waiting for the inevitable looting. Walmarts in Pakistan carry Heineken and Nike, don't they?

If only John Kerry were president, this would have never have happened!

The fact that so many people are dying due to natural disasters points to one undeniable truth, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Global Warming, Republicans, or Terrorists: There are too many damn people on your planet. As of July 2005, there are 6,446,131,400 of you creatures scurrying around on the third rock, and that number is growing by about 1.14% a year. That means that by the time the shiny ball drops in Times Square, they'll be 73,485,897 more mewling, whining, complaining mouths to feed and minds to brainwash. In ten years, they'll be a billion fresh new souls for your straining planet to take out her wrath out on. Thankfully, we won't need to issue hunting licenses to thin the herd - The ravages of time, nature, and science will do the job nicely.

Tsunamis, AIDS, Hurricanes, Mudslides, Earthquakes, Bird-Flu....

I love the smell of Entropy in the morning....