Friday, May 12, 2006

iPod Roulette

Here's a game I've seen played online, most recently at T-Bogg. Let's see how it shakes out for the Hellions (and anyone else who wants to try it on their own blog).

Put your iPod (or Creative Zen or other MP3 player; you can even use the player on your computer if you have one) on shuffle.
Post the first ten songs that come up.
You can advance through the list with the forward button if you're short on time.
Be honest. We all have some guilty pleasures.

Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again-Bob Dylan
You've Got a Friend-Carole King
Till the Coast Is Clear-Hal Ketchum
Lost in Space-Fountains of Wayne
Broken Train-Beck
That Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home-The Austin Lounge Lizards
Come Talk to Me-Peter Gabriel
Tears-Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler
Whatshername-Green Day
Don't Come the Cowboy With Me, Sunny Jim-Kirsty MacColl

What's in your earbuds?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You Damn Kids Today!

Just when you think you've heard everything....

This article at quotes a Washington Post article discussing the rise of impotence (so to speak) among young men on America's college campuses. Seems that the easy availability of sex on campus is creating "performance anxiety" in the delicate minds and other tender parts of America's yoots.
I swannee, you kids my day, if a young lady of easy virtue wanted to make the beast with two backs, we didn't go through all this "oh, I feel threatened by female sexuality" foo-de-doo! By golly, we buckled down! We got to it! We got the job done! Because we didn't know any better, but dagnabbit, we LIKED it!

Another Word Rendered Meaningless

This time, the word is "jihadists." It used to mean Muslims engaged in so-called "holy war." But thanks to people like right wing pundit Charles Krauthammer, the word has been "expanded" to mean "people who oppose Bush policy." Particularly within the CIA.

In an interview with (who else?) Fox News, Krauthammer described "jihadists" as: the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress, but who oppose administration policy, had been leaking, and had been trying to undermine and obstruct administration initiatives. One of the roles he had adopted, Goss, was to go after these people.

Not, it should be noted, actual terrorists, but the new definition of "jihadist": the disloyal.

Whatever the other crimes of the Right in this country, can we at least prosecute them for murdering language?

Bill Maher's Got Nothin' On This Dude

Catalyst, over at Oddball Observations, brings us his own version of New Rules, called Thoughts For A New Tomorrow.

My personal favorite:

New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

Right on.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Poor Baby, Part II: Digital Lynch Mob?

Actual T-shirt for sale on Right Wing "Pundit" Michelle Malkin's Site

All Richard Cohen's whining over what he calls the Digital Lynch Mob (see below) is just another iteration of a current RNC talking point: that the Left (defined as anyone who doesn't adore George Dubbya Bush) is "angry."

But it wasn't a left wing website that's selling the T-shirt pictured above. It wasn't a left-wing commentator who said that the only thing Timothy McVeigh did wrong is that he didn't murder the staff of the New York Times. There's your lynch mob, Mister Cohen.

Let me ask Mr. Cohen this: if you continuously spout the Republican line about the "Angry Left," without ever mentioning the literally murderous rage on the Right. then why should anyone regard you as anything BUT a Republican shill?

Poor Baby

Richard Cohen is sad today.

After the Washington Post columnist wrote a column saying that Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondent's Dinner wasn't funny, people wrote to his e-mail address. And some were mean to him. Some of them even used bad words. So he wrote this extended whine about it, the basic thrust of which was "you big liberal meanies! I hope you lose your stupid election!" (His pique, as per usual, was directed at mean ol' liberals, as if no right winger ever used bad language in writing someone with whom they disagreed).

Jesus. Grow up, man. You're a columnist for a major newspaper. You're going to get some nasty letters. If you can't be a man about it, maybe you should go write cat mysteries or something.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

How Can I Get Me Some of This? (With CONTEST)!

Latest Newspaper Column:

(note that the contest as set out on the blog is slightly different from the one in the entry per reader, mm'kay?)

Well, hush my mouth and call me Ishmael. Another scandal has rocked the publishing world, just as the story of mega-selling author James Frey was beginning to wind down.

You don't know about 19-year-old Harvard Freshman Kaavya Viswanathan without you have read a book by the name of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, but that ain't no matter. That book was published by a big New York publishing house called Little, Brown and Company, and they gave Ms. Viswanathan (hereinafter referred to as Ms. V.) a half-million dollar two-book contract, despite the fact that she had never written a book before.

For Ms. V., it was the best of times. It was the worst of times, however, when the book was published and some sharp-eyed reader noticed that certain passages in the book were nearly identical to passages from two books by author Megan McCafferty.

OK, Ms. V admitted, maybe there were some similarities. (Apparently, there was no way to deny it with a straight face; the similarities were as conspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.) But they were entirely unconscious, she insisted. She had read and enjoyed McCafferty's work, Ms. V explained, and had probably "internalized" some of the elements in McCaffertyís book, Sloppy Firsts.

McCafferty and her publisher, Crown, however, weren't buying Ms. V's explanation, and by the end of the week, Little, Brown had agreed to pull the book from the shelves.

Before they could do it, however, the scandal (and possibly the book's upcoming scarcity) had made it a best seller.

The publisher, a little bloody but unbowed, was talking about reissuing Opal Mehta with the offending passages scrubbed. But then-The horror! The horror! -another alert reader noticed that certain passages in Opal Mehta were practically identical to passages in the book Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella.

The critics came down like a wolf on the fold, and soon Ms. V's book contract was gone like a cool breeze.

Behind the plagiarism scandal, however, there's another story that indicates something rotten in the state of publishing. As noted above, Ms. V. got a half-million-dollar book deal before she'd even written a book. How'd she do it?

Enter "Alloy Entertainment," a so-called "book packager" in the young adult market, which "cranks out approximately 40 titles a year, often hiring writers to execute story lines," according to a story in The Boston Globe. Alloy, in an unusual step, is listed as co-owner of the copyright for Opal Mehta, along with Ms. V. So who are these guys?

Alloy (again, according to the Globe) is part of a company that owns, among other things, a chain of clothing stores for teens. Alloy had had hits in the youth chick-lit market before, most notably last year's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

It looks like the people at Alloy found themselves a concept they thought they could sell, much as a company would come up with a new line of clothing, cosmetics or jewelry for teens. They found a young, attractive, and extremely bright young author who'd look good on the book jacket and on the talk-show circuit.

It was the perfect "package." So who cared about the actual content? Who cared if the young author could handle the pressure of a half-million-dollar advance without cribbing from stuff she'd read and "internalized"? Certainly not Little, Brown and Co.

Lord, what fools these publishers be! And more important, where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become a rich and famous author? And more important, how can I get in on it?

You know me, friends. I'm not one to sit around sulking in my tent. Where some men might see a scandal, I see a bandwagon that needs jumping on. Some may feel the need to beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past, but not your Humble Narrator. I may not be able to handle the pressure of a half-million-dollar advance, but by gum, I'm willing to take a shot at it.

And, as some alert readers may have already noticed, I can "internalize" my sources, too. I may have copied quite a few phrases and such in this column, but I can assure you that it was all unconscious. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

But if this be plagiarism, let us make the most of it. I'll send an autographed copy of my latest novel, Good Day in Hell, to the first reader of this blog who can e-mail me at and identify all the references by author and title (if applicable). First come, first served. All entries become the property of this columnist, and his decision is final. Void where prohibited by law, etc.