Tuesday, November 30, 2010

See You Next Tuesday (Julian Assange)

See You Next Tuesday is the Boomstick's first regular weekly column. Each Tuesday, I bring you the week's most laughable scumbags, idiots, and jerks for your reading and reviling pleasure. See previous editions here. 

Ju Ass, in a rare moment of shutting his damn mouth. 
On Sunday, a website called "Wikileaks" (no relation to the other "wiki-" prefixed sites run by Wikipedia), by their own admission "began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain." The website is a non-profit devoted to publishing secure or unavailable information from various anonymous sources.  It's  run by an Australian named Julian Assange, or, as I am going to call him, “Ju Ass,” for short.

The information ranges from the security-breaching to the scandalous. Other media outlets, while condemning the leak, are simultaneously reprinting its juiciest gossip. You can google "Wikileaks" for about 7,000 news stories "exposing" the leaks.

The ordeal is basically the equivalent of your 8th grade teacher confiscating a note between you and your friend where you describe all the hot boys in your class, and how you just got your period, and reading it out loud in front of everyone in your class; except instead of hot boys it's world leaders and instead of everyone in your class it's everyone in the entire world.  Sure, when some people hear this story, they're going to think it was your fault for passing notes in the first place. But most people, at least anyone who ever survived 8th grade themselves without being a total suck-up, is just going to think your teacher is a dick.

And that's kind of where we are on Wikileaks, too, because the leaks have spawned a rare kind of bipartisanship.  Republican Congressman Peter King, the incoming Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says Wikileaks should be treated as a terrorist group, because the threat they pose to national security is no less severe than Al Qaeda.  Secretary of State Clinton said that the leaks are nothing short of an attack on the United States.  Bill O'Reilly, always a voice of moderation, says leakers should be executed.  Attorney General Eric Holder has launched a formal criminal investigation of Wikileaks, prompting some speculation that Ju Ass could be charged under The Espionage Act.

This leak raises a lot of questions: what's the line between public access to information and government security?  Are there legitimate legal remedies for this sort of disclosure?  Is Ju Ass a champion of government transparency or an international traitor?  Will mutual hatred for Wikileaks prompt the new Congress to reach across the aisle and, placing partisanship aside, work together to beat Ju Ass?  Let's hope so.

I'm sure there will be much more to report on this story in the coming weeks.  Until then, see you next Tuesday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Can't Believe I Didn't Think of This

I found these awesome drawings of hipster dinosaurs on Fork Party, and it's such a good idea that I really wish I'd come up with it first.  If I can procure a dinosaur coloring book and crayons without spending any time or money doing so, I'm totally going to make some dino-hipsters (hipster-dinos?) of my own.  Until that fated day arrives, you'll just have to enjoy these colorings by Molly Lewis:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving! (Ft. Patrick Bateman)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've spent a good portion of this Thanksgiving afternoon sick as a dog, lying in my aunt and uncle's guest bed in Mississippi watching Godfather II on AMC.  (God, AMC should really pay me for how much I plug their channel.) In my sinus-infection stupor, I found this awesome thing to read.  It's a complete retelling of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, updated for bro's, perfectly titled, On the Bro'd.  And it is balls-to-the-wall clutch, player.  Read it here.

When I'm sick I try to watch some of my favorite feel-good movies, which for me usually starts with my DVD of American Psycho. (It makes me happy.  Look, I never claimed I was normal.)  So, many thanks to my friend Ben Sheehan for sending me this bite-sized homage to Patrick Bateman and David Byrne, wrapped up in a good-looking 80s parody package.  I feel better already:

And finally, for those of you in an out-of-town turkey coma looking for some internet downtime, here's a short list of time-wasting websites that should take you through tomorrow:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More About Zombies (Duh)

I wanted to share a great email with you guys, because I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who received it.
This is all true, and what a great episode it was.  Now, I'm not going to review every episode of "The Walking Dead," like I did the first two, but I will say that the third episode was back to awesome, and I hope tonight's is just as spot on.

I was, however, totally disappointed to learn that there are only going to be six episodes. Apparently, "The Walking Dead," in the tradition of "Eastbound and Down," is going to be a micro-season™ (I'm a lawyer and I totally just trademarked that).  Which is lame because six episodes is an inappropriately paltry number; it's a television tease.

I understand that only producing six episodes allowed "Dead" to put a lot of money and time into each one without risking a mid-season cancellation.  But that's stupid, because what zombie show is going to get canceled?  Unless zombies take over and kill all of the network CEOs and take it off the air because the zombies feels like the show is degrading to them.  Which would require the zombies to be pretty sensitive to their portrayal in the media, and if that were the case, I don't think "Dead" would be the first to go.  And outside of that scenario, I think it's is pretty safe.

(Awkward segue alert.) You know what else is safe? Having this be your beside table:

It's a zombie-defense nightstand.  That's right. And there's a helpful illustration of how you would use it when attacked.  Notably, the image doesn't actually show zombies attacking you, per se, but I think the shady, gray, comic-type character implies it. Though, now that I think about it, that shady, gray, faceless character looks a little sketchy himself. He doesn't exactly look like he's sleeping in the first one...More like...he's dead? And what's with that unsteady stagger in the second frame?

Holy shit I think that guy is a zombie! That means this nightstand is FOR zombies! What kind of zombie-loving manufacturer made this horrible zombie-weapon to arm zombies? Wow, you guys are so lucky I caught this before you bought an item clearly marketed toward zombies. I wish someone were paying me per use of the word "zombie."

My friend (disclosure: she's not my friend) The Bloggess had another criticism of this item. She was worried that you'd step on the little piece of metal on the nightstand once you dismantled it, and then you'd be bleeding everywhere and "distracted because you have a nightstand base stuck in your foot like you’re some sort of terrible shish-kabob."

Yeah, you would, if you were human. But this little design flaw is just more proof this nightstand was made by zombies, for zombies.  They can't tell if a loose nail is stuck in their foot anyway, so it was easy to overlook.  I mean seriously, this is unacceptable.  And don't you try to tell me that the hand holding the shield looks "human," because obviously the zombies just hired a model.  AND THEN ATE HIM.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Indie Band Frontman or Serial Killer?

This weekend Andrew and I watched Saturday Night Live because we were home on a Saturday night at 11:30 pm for, like, the first time in seven years. (We are extraordinarily popular and awesome, if you hadn't noticed.)  The musical guest was Arcade Fire, a Canadian indie rock band that I really like.  But apparently I've never seen the band in person, because when they took the stage on SNL, I was completely shocked at how much their frontman looked like a serial killer.

Like, seriously?

Just try to tell me that guy doesn't have ladies chained up in his basement.  So, out of morbid curiosity, I started looking up some other indie rock bands on Arcade Fire's "Merge Records" label.  Then I started looking up serial killers.  And what I found was so disturbing and hilarious that I decided to make it a game for you guys called....

Indie Rock Band Frontman or Serial Killer?!?!:
(Scroll down for answers)







1) Why that's Stephin Merritt, lead singer for The Magnetic Fields! Shockingly NOT a serial killer!

2) Of course that's Jeff Mangum, lead singer of Neutral Milk Hotel. He's wearing that hat and flannel as an ironic gesture, not because he's going to drag children from a birthday party into the woods and shove them in a wood chipper like they're Steve Buschemi in Fargo

3) Uh oh, this grainy black and white picture is not the product of a sweet new iPhoto filter...it's actually Ted Bundy, notorious serial killer! 

4) Don't worry, that's just Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse! 

5) Rad 80s tees = total back-album-cover material?  Nope, that's Erick and Lyle Menendez, total serial killers!

6) That bearded fellow looks like he's concentrating on the Prosecutor's opening statement, but he's actually Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, who is definitely not a serial killer!

Hope you had fun! 

(And just a note to anyone who was going to be a dick, not all the bands are on the "Merge" label, and I know that because I am smart.  But that's how I got started.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

See You Next Tuesday (Hanging Chad)

See You Next Tuesday is the Boomstick's first regular weekly column. Each Tuesday, I bring you the week's most laughable scumbags, idiots, and jerks for your reading and reviling pleasure. See previous editions here.

This week's See You Next Tuesday is being alternately titled, "The New Hanging Chad."  Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate from Alaska, is back for his second appearance in a See You Next Tuesday.  In June, Miller won the Republican primary over incumbent Lisa Murkowski.  Not one to understand the democratic process give up easily, Murkowski launched a vigorous write-in campaign for the Senate seat.  At first, she was laughed at (by me), but as election day drew to a close, it appeared write-in votes for Ms. Murkowski were significant enough to post a Florida-style vote-counting conundrum.

The problem is that Ms. Murkowski's name is difficult to spell. Miller's campaign is challenging mispelled write-in votes, ones that read "Nurkowski," "Murkoski," "Murkewski," "Mirkowski" and "Merkowski."  Because write-ins represented 40.2% of the votes cast, but Miller only earned 35.3%, this election legitimately may come down to spelling.  And that's why today's See You Next Tuesdays are Polish last names.

If Murkowski had an easy, simple name, this never would've been a problem.  If the roles were reversed, for example, it's unlikely that a number of votes for "Miler" and "Mellir" and "Millere" would be clogging up the system.  But Murkowski?  Vague short vowel sounds spliced by crazy consonants?  Her name is worth a whopping 22 points in Scrabble!  No wonder people are still counting!

So, the latest word on the ballot count is that, like our favorite Florida electorate, this dispute may be resolved by an Alaska court, not a polite resignation by either candidate. Apparently today's most recent vote totals put Murkowski solidly in the lead.  Frankly, I don't know who should be more upset – Joe Miller, the legitimate Republican nominee who would've won in a landslide but for Murkowski's sore-loser campaign; or Murkowski, who earned a majority of votes despite her name not actually being on the ballot, but may be denied a rightful Senate seat because her supporters can't spell her ridiculous name.

One thing's for sure – throughout this whole article I never got to use a great pun I came up with, so here it is: I guess Murkowski is really putting the "poll" in "Polish!" See You Next Tuesday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"The Walking Dead" Needs to Use its Brains

Spoiler-free discussion of "The Walking Dead.

"The Walking Dead" seems to be in a gross-out contest with itself.  Last week I talked about how the pilot pushed the boundaries of violence and gore on cable, but with A-list production values.  The second episode, aptly titled "Guts," continued to shock and disturb like nothing I've seen on television.  But if boundary-pushing and not storytelling is "Dead's" ultimate goal, then the show may fizzle into the worst horror movie genre: B-list that takes itself too seriously.

If "The Walking Dead" can create sympathetic characters and force them to navigate changing survival situations, the overexposed gore might make the show calloused and gritty and wonderful.  But if "Dead" continues to rely on the same trapped-in-a-room-with-zombies-outside scenario, and combat it with isolated action sequences and throwaway tough-guy lines, they risk making carnage its most interesting attribute. 

The Sheriff could ride a dolphin into downtown Atlant(is)
Now, I'm not saying that I want mushy emotional stuff to replace all the zombie-killing.  I watch the show for the main reason that it allows me to vicariously beat up zombies, one of my favorite imaginary hobbies.  What I'm saying is, "The Walking Dead" has the capacity to be something truly revolutionary in the worlds of both horror and television, and in that relatively new world where the two intersect.  If gore is incidental to the plot, part of the overall style and timbre of the show, then I'll embrace as many corpse-guts as you want to smear on yourselves.  But I hope that the show finds a way to make the characters tackle bigger problems than dismembering zombies like rebuilding civilization, or killing survivors who contract the zombie sickness.  Or, you know, dismembering underwater zombies.

If "Dead's" pilot is any indication, the writers are capable of developing great characters, even without words.  The genius of the premiere, and the part that motivated me to preordain "Dead" as A-list, was the wordless composition of its most memorable scenes.  Sheriff Grimes sneaking down the dark hospital stairwell, Morgan agonizing over shooting his zombie wife, the Sheriff's horseback ride through Atlanta...we didn't need words to underscore these perfect moments of storytelling.

Those vivid, perfect scenes from the pilot give me confidence that the rest of "Dead" can be just as poignant.  Here's hoping the second episode was just a short dip into obvious dialogue, stereotyped characters, and bland heroism.  Because if tonight can back with the same stellar, humane performances and brutally beautiful scenes of the pilot, it'll be a sign that "Dead" can have it's brains, and eat them, too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Alison's T.V. Guide

I've been writing a lot lately about television shows because I watch a lot of T.V. and don't really talk to people.  Fortunately, this makes me completely qualified to recommend shows that you should be watching.  And by that I mean compile a list of the shows I watch and when they're on so you can set your D.V.R. and then we can watch the same shows and then you can comment on my blog and then we can be best friends.

Disclaimer: I do not get any "pay" channels. This means I am out of date on the best Showtime shows (most recent seasons of "Weeds" and "True Blood"), and on the new generation of HBO shows ("Boardwalk Empire," "Bored to Death," "Eastbound and Down").  My boyfriend gets HBO, so he rubs it in keeps me informed about how awesome those shows are, but refuses to attach any recording device to his television so I can watch them, too.  Personally, I would rather have DVR than just about any other utility, including running water.  But apparently we have very different priorities, because my boyfriend seems to love "showering" and doesn't even care if his television is recording.
Can't we compromise?

Shows I watch and you should watch, too, y'all:

  • Your DVR of "The Walking Dead" from Sunday, because you didn't really watch it on Sunday like you said you were going to, because you got busy okay?
  • You can also watch "The Event" at 9pm on NBC, but I've never seen it so I cannot personally vouch for it.
"Modern Family."
  • "Modern Family," 9pm ABC
  • "Cougar Town," 9:30pm ABC (it's seriously funny, you guys)
Thursday: This is the biggie.  This is the night you tell your friends "no thank you, I cannot attend your birthday party/rave/bris, I have plans.  Oh yeah?  Well NBC's Thursday night line-up doesn't seem to think your rehearsal dinner is that important, so maybe you should take it up with them."
The cast of "Community."

  • "Community," 8pm, NBC (aka, the savior of Joe Mchale's career. The second season of "Community" has been a little weird the KFC spaceship anyone? but the characters are still hilarious. Especially Troy.)
  • "30 Rock," 8:30pm, NBC
  • "The Office," 9pm, NBC
  • "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," 10pm, FX
  • "The League," 10:30pm, FX
 Friday and Saturday night I try to go talk to people.  But if I fail I watch movies, SNL, or my DVRs of any of the Thursday night shows I shamefully missed.

Please note that this list is only for the current TV season other shows I love (like "Mad Men," "Parks and Recreation," "Royal Pains") are over for the year. Feel free to comment and recommend shows that you watch and think I should, too.  But if any of you were going to say "Two and a Half Men," you should just leave. Now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

See You Next Tuesday (Legalize It)

See You Next Tuesday is the Boomstick's first regular weekly column. Each Tuesday, I bring you the week's most laughable scumbags, idiots, and jerks for your reading and reviling pleasure. See previous editions here.

Old stoners had no problem making it to the polls.
Today's See You Next Tuesdays are the youth voters in California.  Last week's midterm elections generated a lot of buzz about California's "Proposition 19," a ballot initiative that would have decriminalized* marijuana in the Golden State. Despite seemingly everyone in California being stoned all the time, Prop 19 failed at the polls (54% No to 46% Yes).  And it appears California's pot-smoking youth is to blame.  According to the Wall Street Journal,
"A post-election poll out in California has shown that if young voters had turned out as heavily on Tuesday as they do for presidential elections, the result on Proposition 19 — the ballot measure that proposed legalizing marijuana for recreational use — would have been a close call."
What might be worst about young voters' dismal turnout is how it enables cliche jokes about the unproductive consequences of marijuana (this blog is no exception). Obviously, California voters' inaction has spawned a litany of "lazy pothead" remarks.  But supporters of Prop.  19 were not just the sleepy-eyed Jim Breuers of the world.  They were economists and fiscal experts who cited the bill as a budget-saver, both in potential tax revenue and the cessation of wasted (no pun intended) money and police power currently devoted to locking up college kids for bong hits.

Opponents rallied behind the website, "No on Proposition 19.com."  Notwithstanding its comma splice, the website's catchphrase "It's a jumbled, legal nightmare!" may have had a valid point.  Voters were encouraged to examine the legislation themselves, and what they found was indeed an imprecise, inarticulate bill.

But while being incomplete may explain those who voted "No" on Prop 19, it doesn't excuse those voters who didn't show up at the polls.  I'm not buying that the same people who watch the DVD menu screen for two hours refused to vote because they were protesting a poorly-written referendum.  Dudes!  It's like California handed you a bag of Doritos and you refused the eat them because they weren't "Doritos Late Night!"  There are times in life when it's just not prudent to be picky.

Remember what I said about encouraging pathetic, stereotyped pothead jokes? Young stoners, you did this to yourselves.  And that's why, in addition to jeopardizing your criminal records and denying your State much-needed revenue, you have also earned yourselves the label "See You Next Tuesday."  Dude, that burns.

* Saying the bill would have decriminalized marijuana is an oversimplification.  More accurately, according to California's Legislative Analsyst's Office, Prop 19 "(1) legalizes various marijuana-related activities, (2) allows local governments to regulate these activities, (3) permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and (4) authorizes various criminal and civil penalties."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"The Walking Dead" Deserves Cred

“I can’t believe this is on cable.”

That sentence was the refrain of my experience with the pilot of “The Walking Dead,” AMC’s newest original series. “Dead” took over “Mad Men’s” timeslot on Halloween night (10 p.m. Eastern), and was watched by a record number of viewers.  Its 1.5 hour premiere was nothing short of a horror movie – there was plenty of action, and its not exaggeration to say it showed the goriest images I’ve ever seen on television.  “Dead’s” incredibly high production values make it truly cinematic, and will potentially earn it a place in the extremely elusive A-list horror genre (think The Shining).

“The Walking Dead” presupposes some knowledge about zombies.  I watched the premiere with my roommate, and found out that you're at a bit of a loss if you don't know your zombie basics.  Granted, all zombies are not created equal (there are fast zombies and slow zombies, smart zombies and dumb zombies).  Fortunately, the pilot episode cued us into which zombies we’re dealing with in “Dead:”

  1. They’re slow. This is important because it dramatically affects the playing field. Traditionally, all zombies were slow, but then movies like 28 Days Later re-imagined the undead as sprinters. Slow-moving zombies don’t seem as threatening, until you find yourself facing hundreds of them. The lack of control and level of exhaustion, surrender, and panic involved when you're finally overtaken by a slowly staggering corpse makes them scary (it's the Mike Meyers phenomenon - he never ran, he just walked calmly towards you). Spoiler: it should be noted that the “city” zombies in Atlanta seem to move faster than the “small town” zombies.
  2. They’re dumb. This is one of the big distinctions between Vampires and Zombies, and a major reason why Vampires lend themselves to sexualized teen-girl movies where Zombies tend to corner the more awesome B-movie market.  Vampires are intelligent, attractive and persuasive, but zombies are literally just animated corpses.  Zombies can’t think; they can only act on their single driving impulse: to eat you. This is a major reason zombies are so much scarier than vampires – zombies don’t have a conscience, and they don’t have a brain that makes choices. You can’t seduce a zombie out of killing you; you can only try to kill it first.
  3. They're attracted by loud noises. Cars, screams, and unfortunately gunshots will draw a pack of zombies, so make sure you have plenty of bullets before you fire off one. Plus side: this seems to be the only really active zombie sense, so if you creep silently near one you might be safe.
  4. To kill a zombie, you need to target its head.  In some movies, you have to actually decapitate the zombie, but apparently in “Dead,” shooting it or smashing it in the head is sufficient.
For those of us living in Atlanta, there’s an extra bonus to watching “Dead.”  It’s not everyone who gets to see their hometown reduced to post-zombiepocalyptic rubble.  (In Hi-Def, no less.)  At one point the main character rides up I-75/85 North into the city, and we get a gratifying shot of the zombified Atlanta skyline (hilariously, though the cars are all abandoned, there’s still bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-85 South).   The final scenes of the premiere were shot right downtown, where many of my lawyer friends and I work.  As my friend Jerry put it “just think, if you’d been working when they were filming, you could’ve seen a horse disemboweled!”  That I could have, Jerry. That I could.

The point is, “The Walking Dead” is closer to serious, high-concept shows like “Six Feet Under“ and “The Wire” than self-mocking “horror” shows like “True Blood.”  Unlike “True Blood” (which, for the record, I adore), there’s nothing campy or kitschy about “Dead;” its violence is startling and sordid, not sexy.  There are no necks with delicate puncture wounds, but rotting faces and bodies.  And let me tell you, the creatures in “Dead” are not for the faint of heart: they’re so extremely foul and disgusting that I, a self-proclaimed lover of gore, had to watch parts of the pilot through my fingers.

This is the major reason “The Walking Dead” will probably avoid comparison to the other A-list horror guru, Alfred Hitchcock.  Hitchcock made thrillers, not blood baths.  The violence in “Dead” is more akin to The Evil Dead, but higher-brow.  Let me give you a visual: the bathtub scene in The Shining. Yeah, that’s the level of disturbing I was going for.

(If you missed it, AMC is streaming the whole pilot episode for free here.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

See You Next Tuesday (Tea Party)

See You Next Tuesday is the Boomstick's first regular themed column. It features the week's most laughable idiots and scumbags for your reading pleasure. See previous editions here, here, and here

Happy Election Day!  Today's midterm elections are swarming with See You Next Tuesday candidates (pun). But the Rally to Restore Sanity this weekend inspired me to focus on the media and extremist politics. (A word on the rally - Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert descended on Washington Mall this weekend with a cry to "take it down a notch."  They lambasted the fear-mongering media and antagonistic Tea-Partiers for political hyperbole, and suggested that political activists instead carry "moderate" signs like, "I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler.")

So how appropriate was it that Monday morning after the rally, a story came out about a local Alaska media outlet being caught on tape scheming to undermine an Alaska senate candidate. K.T.V.A. reporters left a voicemail for Palin-backed Joe Miller, and apparently forgot to hang up.  In their accidental recording, reporters are heard trying to find a "child molester" among Miller's campaign staff, and saying,
FEMALE VOICE: We know that out of all the people that will show up tonight, at least one of them will be a registered sex offender.
MALE REPORTER: You have to find that one person...
(Read the whole transcript here.) K.T.V.A. confirmed the authenticity of the statement, but says it was taken out of context. No duh! 
Miller, looking a bit like a child molester himself.
Miller's campaign is going all over the place with the garbled, but incriminating, recording.  So who's the See You Next Tuesday here?  The liberal media, for being unsportsmanlike and making all of Fox News' dreams come true?  Miller, for being a goody-goody tattle-teller?  Child molesters for making this whole thing possible?

I say it's Alaska itself, for being so damn boring that finding a sex offender in a candidate's audience is what makes juicy gossip. Where are your Spitzers, your Blagojevichs?  I'd even take another Christine O'Donnell (as long as you don't pull a Gawker and write about Miller's, a-hem, grooming habits).

Unexpected bonus of this story: Sarah Palin lashed out and called Alaska's media "corrupt bastards."  Watch out, K.T.V.A., you made Mama Grizzly angry.