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The stupidest idea I’ve had this week
I came up with the germ of a classic teen sex comedy over dinner with friends. They laughed at me. And all of America will laugh at –

All Up In That!
This Summer, it’s everybody to the limit!

Julius LaFontaine (Kenan Thompson) is the surly son of wealthy lawyers (Samuel Jackson and Faye Dunaway) who just wants to survive senior year at the prestigious York prep school, play Star Wars on his XBox, and hang out with his best friend, scholarship student and MIT early-admit DeAndre “Dre” Wilson (Kel Mitchell). Sex? Julius doesn’t want to think about it. But when he accidentally wins a date with Natalie Portman (playing herself) and the actress jokes about “getting all up in that” on TRL, his virginity becomes a problem – a big problem.

Julius and Dre scramble to learn the ways of love, getting help from history teacher Mr. Turtle (Jaleel White, TV’s “Urkel”!) and some of the LaFontaines’ shady clients (including Chris Rock, Alan Cumming, and Philip Seymour Hoffman!). They get nowhere until the beautiful-but-skanky Eastern European duchess/co-ed Theodora (Hilary Duff!) comes clean – her boyfriend, snotty diamond heir JULIAN LaFontaine (Seann William Scott), had rigged the contest for himself! Theodora wants revenge, so she forms an alliance and teaches Julius EVERYTHING he needs to know about gettin’ all up in that. Meanwhile, Dre falls for Theodora, and hilarity ensues!

Will Julius hit it off with his dream girl? Will Dre win over Theodora? Will Julian’s international ring of ninjas kill them before they get a chance?

… I am such an idiot.

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What to think
Watching chunks of the Video Music Awards put me in mind of how weird my musical tastes are. I hate most popular bands, yeah, but I love some idiotic pop. Off the top of my head (with the help of the Billboard Top 40):

GOOD:
– Justin Timberlake. He started his solo career right, getting smart producers (Timbaland, The Neptunes) to froth up his decidedly average tunes. The singles from Justified are the “Don’t Stop til You Get Enough” and “Billie Jean” of our times.
– Shakira. Has produced at least two great singles in English (“Underneath Your Clothes” and “Whenever, Wherever”) and her Spanish stuff is unstoppable, catchy dance-pop.
– Kelly Clarkson. I like “Miss Independent.” I like that there’s no pretension about her being some kind of “artist.”
– Christina Aguilera. A voice that could – and still might – make the sun implode. And I dig that she’s insane.
– Shania Twain. Mutt Lange writes her songs! He can hardly do wrong.

BAD:
– Coldplay. Chris Martin is the Eric Roberts of British rockstars. His band is the Showtime Made for TV Movie to Radiohead’s box office smash. Offensively unoriginal, plodding, and meaningless.
– Britney Spears. I prefer it when you can’t see the PR department propping up the star.
– The White Stripes. What if the Pixies couldn’t write tunes? They’d bleat bullshit lyrics and play dead-end guitar leads like Jack White. Seriously – their latest single is called “The Air Beneath My Fingers.” That’s inexcusable.
– Madonna. Useless since 1991.
– Norah Jones. I liked that song better when it was called “Yesterday” by the Beatles. But she is very cute.

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Publicity whore, redefined
I’d just finished watching the finale of Buffy season 4 with my friend CJ, remembering what beautiful acting and writing was put into the relationship between Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson). Andrew Sullivan blogged once about the way Buffy directors handled their two lesbians. It was respectful and realistic – it changed the way lots of people looked at that sort of thing.

And now we have Britney Spears making out with Madonna.

Stupid. Just stupid. It would be forgiveable if Madonna had released a decent single since “Cherish.” (Yes, I hated the singles off Ray of Light.)

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Fair and balanced, pt. II
The mysterious typist behind TAPPED (The American Prospect’s weblog) does a poor job trying to … is “debunk” the right word? Trying to dismiss the story I blogged last night. They note the same “14 research assistants” passage as me.

Perhaps this is just a fault of unlovely prose, but does Kurtz really believe that the availability of research assistants inspired Franken’s voluminous use of footnotes and statistics? Perhaps Franken used a lot of footnotes because, um, he wanted people to be able to judge his evidence for themselves? You know, because he’s intellectually honest and stuff? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Oooh! This is news! The American Prospect is calling Ann Coulter “intellectually honest”!

What do I mean? Last year, the Prospect fact-checked much of Coulter’s book Slander. They were able to so because the book includes several hundred footnotes. Another website credited this part of her book with making their job easier:

In her book she has included, and heavily publicized, 780 or so footnotes, in the hope that their very heft will buy Slander a credibility not shared by the books of, say, Bernard Goldberg, Sean Hannity, or (on the Left) Mike Moore. This symbol of accuracy and scholarship is meant to reduce skepticism, tricking people into thinking that her rants are factually-based rants.

(snip)

My conclusion is that the book has 780 footnotes for the main purpose of having 780 footnotes.

But it had 780 footnotes.

I don’t side with Coulter on this one. I side with the old TAPPED and the critics of Slander – Franken is not so intellectually honest as much as he wanted to look like a real pundit. And the fact that he had 14 assistants cannot be written off by any serious person (or any serious anonymous weblogger).

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Fair and balanced
Amusing tidbit from the Washington Post on ex-Harvard fellow Al Franken:

“Lies” contains lots of citations and statistics because Franken, during a fellowship this year at Harvard’s Shorenstein press center, was given 14 research assistants to help him scour the media archives. Critics will undoubtedly find it as selective as the conservative books (by Ann Coulter and Bernard Goldberg, among others) that he skewers.

Say what you will about Coulter – I say plenty – but she doesn’t have funding from America’s most respected university, and she doesn’t have 14 assistants.

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Idol worship
I guess everyone who wants to has already read the New York Times account of the Alabama Ten Commandments … controversy … but it threw me for a loop.

Protesters screamed “God haters!” and “Let their wheels crumble!” as the removal got under way.

Even after the monument had disappeared the crowds continued to grow, many wearing their beliefs on their back, with T-shirts bearing slogans like `’Jesus is the standard” and “I’m here for God.”

The pictures are a doozy – go here for more. I’m fond of the guy blowing the shofar.

This amuses me, of course, because it so blindingly idiotic. It looks a lot like iconodulism, fundamentalists using a slab of rock as the focal point for their faith. That is and has always been abominable, and if you don’t want to go back to the golden calf story, just refresh your memory of the Byzantine Empire’s iconoclasm and the hundreds of thousands of people murdered for worshipping the wrong toys. It’s a little worrying to see huge throngs taking over a courthouse so that they may defend a rock.

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Curiouser and curiouser
C-Span 2 is rebroadcasting a 6/27/03 forum from Oakland where lefty journalists (Norman Solomon, Dennis Bernstein) and artists (Ishmael Reed) held forth on the goofiest topics you can imagine – the anti-homeless crusade of San Franciscans (Reed called “Care Not Cash” a “political Bumfight”), the evils of the American media, “chickenhawks,” (complete with the joke about Rush Limbaugh’s anal cyst. And when did leftists become so pro-Vietnam war?) etc. But Yuri Kochiyama really caught my attention. She referenced a report by “San Francisco writer Ron Paul” that apparently proved the Bush administration’s complicity – nay, their direct role – in the attacks of 9/11. An interview with Paul is here. It’s gleefully insane.

In my view, a secret team within the U.S. government primarily carried out the 9/11 attacks. The attacks could not have happened without the participation of such a team. In particular this team was responsible for the unprecedented failure to intercept hijacked airliners on the 9/11 morning—one hour and 28 minutes elapsed between 8:15 EDT, the time of the first off-course deviation by American Airlines Flight 11, the airliner that hit World Trade Center Building 1, the North Tower, at 8:48—and the crash into the Pentagon at 9:43 … But I find such a conspiracy from the inside of the U.S. government far more likely than the absurd cartoon which is the official story—made up of physical impossibilities, incapable pilots, hard-drinking Muslims, indestructible passports, et cetera—a cartoon that both Corporate and supposedly “Left” media continue to parrot and thereby promote.

Hard-drinking Muslims? “Indestructible” passports? Huh? Paul must have his finger on the facts, right?

Well, no.

In May of 2002 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued its “World Trade Center Building Performance Study.” FEMA’s group of professorial experts had a budget of only $600,000 to investigate the collapses that killed almost 3000—compared with the $40 million that was spent for investigation of Bill Clinton’s activities with Monica Lewinsky in 1998–99.

That’s expressly untrue. Kenneth Starr spent $40 million during his entire tenure as independent counsel, from 1994 to 1999. What other “facts” does he have?

The FBI is on record that an Egyptian, Emid Ali Salem, was its informant within this admitted conspiracy. According to a New York Times piece of October 28, 1993, Emid Ali Salem secretly recorded talks between himself and his FBI supervisor, John Anticev. Salem’s tapes reveal that the FBI’s Anticev stopped a plan to substitute harmless powder for the nitrate that eventually exploded the huge bomb under the Twin Towers.

Remember that 6 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured by this bomb. Salem’s statement is that he built the bomb and received $1,000,000 from the FBI for his work. We also know that the rental agreement for the truck that carried the 1993 WTC bomb gives the phone number and address of a Mossad agent, Josie Hadas.

Here’s the actual article.

Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said … The transcripts do not make clear the extent to which Federal authorities knew that there was a plan to bomb the World Trade Center, merely that they knew that a bombing of some sort was being discussed.

Paul’s interview is interesting – more proof that, yes, there really are Americans who think like this. They’re allowed to, of course. But don’t forget that they’re out there, and they’re doing a lot of the organizing behind “anti-war” rallies.

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Farewell to a friend

I am a nice guy in Jesus’ name
I have a mean schizophrenia demon in my head
My demon racks me with profanity
My demon tells me lies and says I’m a jerk, a bum and an asshole
My demon keeps me from joy bus riding by torturing me

Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis

Kinkos, it’s the copy center
– Wesley Willis, “Wesley Willis”

I found out about the death of Wesley Willis minutes after it was official, when I called Alternative Tentacles records to see if it was true. It was, and it wrecked me. My roommate had turned me on to Wesley in 2000, so I’d had barely three years to appreciate him.

You know Pink Floyd, how they suck more and more with every passing year, and how you wish they would have broken the fuck up when they could still write songs? That wasn’t an issue with Wesley. He could NEVER write songs. Willis “wrote” new tunes by playing one of three melodies on his keyboard and singing three verses about whatever was on his mind. And I wrote “singing,” which is sort of a slander. Willis attacked these subjects like the 6’5”, 350 pounds schizophrenic street artist that he was.

Willis’s lyrics came out in a yelp, thick with mucus and thin on sense. He sang a song about whupping Batman’s ass because “He was running me amok/ He ridiculed me calling me a bum.”

This was fun music. It offered vicarious insanity, sneak peeks into the mind of a guy who truly thought he was possessed by demons who engaged him in constant combat. And the limited melodies made them easy to replicate – my roommate and I would always write bullshit “tributes” to stuff in the Wesley style, because it was so damn brainless.

When I sat and thought about it, like I’m doing now, I liked Wesley because he could only exist in an enlightened liberal democracy. Seriously! Only a free society would allow a mentally ill man to function on his own. And only the free market could have provided a guy like this with a way to make money, release records, and get booked on national radio shows to plug his terrible art.

We didn’t laugh at Wesley. We loved him. And I’ll always wonder what kind of songs he’d be writing if he lived another 30 years. “Howard Dean”? “Nuclear Holocaust”? “Martian Invasion”? We’ll miss out on that. And that’s too bad.