It's finally upon us: the comedy spectacle otherwise known as the 2004 Republican Convention. Now, some of you feel that the GOP has lost touch with younger voters and people of color. This sort of skepticism means you are a terrorist. You are also wrong.

The speaking lineup does not consist exclusively of 40 to 60 year old white men. It consists of dozens of 40 to 60 year old white men with an intermittent D-list celebrity, self-loathing woman, or black person of no political standing.

Sandwiched between such young, fresh voices as Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback (who will entertain the crowd by unhinging his jaw to demonstrate just how much Pentagon cock he chugs to keep his state the contractor- and soldier-infested shithole it is), you'll find ossified war-horses like Libby Dole, Lindsey Graham, Bill Frist, and Mitch "I'd Fuck My Mother in the Ass for $5" McConnell. The party was desperately trying to put a disproportionately moderate face on its lineup, but NRA and Christian right grousing got Brownback and Santorum added at the very last minute.

Sen. Brownback's speech will finally clarify his stance on the issue of our colors running

No blacks, you say? Well the convention does in fact have two black speakers. First is Maryland Lt. Gov. Mike Steele – the highest ranking black Republican in the nation. Also invited is former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann. "Ed, I didn't know he was a politician" you might say. He's not. He's never run for office. Apparently the GOP just sent its operatives out with the instructions to, at any and all cost, find a black guy who was willing to speak and was not named Alan Keyes.

Think Hollywood is all liberal? Think again, pinko. The GOP is trotting out a star-studded celebrity lineup featuring Angie Harmon, Erika Harold (Miss America 2003), Dorthy Hamill, Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug and – the man who represents everything the GOP stands for – former New York Giant defender Jason Sehorn (Harmon's husband….apparently they're a GOP power couple).

I'd love to say I was picking and choosing the celebrity lineup for maximum comedic effect, but that's it. In its entirety. A no-name actress, a former Pageant automaton, three gymnasts (two of which were celebrities about 30 years ago) and the most overpaid piece of shit in the history of professional sports.

In many ways, it's a perfect lineup. Could you possibly think of people who are more removed from reality than Olympic gymnasts (who start training in isolation at about age 3) and Miss America contestants? It's everything the Republican party stands for these days: a pointless, nonspecific yearning for the way things were in 1982.

Sehorn attempts to intimidate the speedy Dennis Hastert

Sehorn, in particular, is a fitting choice. A guy who warmed the bench for a decade while sitting on a 6-year, $36 million contract and getting in the papers every day as "the last white cornerback in football" should replace the elephant as the GOP mascot. He's dumb, he doesn't deserve 90% of what he has, and he had nothing going for him in his career except the privilege of being white.

Apply metaphor as necessary.


Nothing warms's collective, taco-clogged heart quite like bringing first-hand information to our loyal public. Using an extensive array of contacts in the diplomatic and business community, we like to consider ourselves at the forefront of the war on terror.

A close relative of one of the authors is a Circuit Court judge in Will County, just south of Chicago. Being an upstanding person, the Judge was asked about a year ago to sit on the County's draft board. You may recall that the sudden interest in reviving the nation's dormant draft boards at the start of the Iraqi Clusterfuck caused some alarm in the media and was a central issue for Ralph Nader's campaign. Having thoroughly mixed feelings about the conflict, the Judge declined to participate. This week, however, Department of Defense investigators called him to follow up on his interview with a DOD official at a Highland Park hotel in June.

There's only one problem: there was no interview.

Yes, you see, the DOD agent responsible for identifying and interviewing potential draft board candidates had a hard time getting many volunteers. The Judge told them "Thanks, but no thanks." So the plucky civil servant did what any civil servant would be apt to do: he made a bunch of stuff up. Irrespective of the fact that the judge never met with or spoke to this individual, the man turned in a completed interview report including specific answers to numerous questions regarding the war and the draft. When the DOD called for a follow-up interview this week and learned this information, they investigated and determined that the employee in question had falsified the majority of his interviews.

So, to summarize: the Department of Defense couldn't get people to fill out draft boards so they simply made up a bunch of interviews to, in essence, volunteer people without their knowledge. It's a small step up from opening the phone book and picking names at random, but we can safely assume that is the next step.


Lots of talk about inflation in the news. Not just currently, but perpetually. Are we experiencing it? If so, is it too much or just enough? The current administration has had their eternal optimist, Easy Al Greenspan, chanting the mantra of inflation for 9 months now. Why? Inflation would mean the economy is heating up. Accordingly, Easy Al has raised the interest rates twice in the last 3 months, with more expected. Of course, with inflation at a near-all-time-low 1.9%, this is nothing more than an effort to delude people into thinking we're not heading into a recession.

Regardless, did you ever wonder what inflation is and how they figure it out? Believe it or not, it's a combination of interesting and ridiculous.

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates, on a monthly basis, this neat number called the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is, in essence, the monthly cost of a "consumer's standard bundle of goods". The monthly change in this bundle is inflation/deflation. Inflation peaked at 12% in the late Carter years.

At this point, if you're saying "Ed, what is said standard bundle? I bet there are some comically ludicrous differences between the government's idea of what people buy and reality" you'd be right. Let's break it down. The main categories are followed by a percentage weighting in the consumer's budget. So the 40% after "Housing" indicates that they believe the average person spends 40% of his or her budget on housing.

Food (16%) – milk, coffee, fresh chicken, wine and breakfast cereal
Housing (40%) – rent and furniture
Apparel (5%)
Transportation (18%) – new vehicles, airfare, gas, car insurance
Medical care (6%) – prescription drugs, medical and eyeglass care, doctor bills, hospital bills
Recreation (6%) – TV, cable, pets, admissions
Education and Communication (5%) – college tuition, postage, phone service, computers and software
Other (4%) – cigarettes, funeral services

OK. Let's slow down here for a second. The average American, in our economic analysis, spends more on tobacco (we all smoke, of course) than college tuition. Furthermore, prescription drugs are clearly less than 6% of everyone's budget, and we spend more monthly on our new car (which we all have) and airfare than we do on medical care, tuition, communication, and entertainment combined. (Note: Public transit is not counted in transportation. Shove your fare increases up your ass, city folk). Lastly, our diet consists of chicken, wine, and cereal (and no one eats out).

While I try to find a way to decrease my massive monthly tobacco and funeral purchases, I will continue scouring the Earth looking for one single person whose consumer spending profile even remotely approximates this patchwork clusterfuck. And you might want to purchase a large grain of salt to consume with news about "inflation".

Just when you thought that America couldn't get any more odd.

Yes, we all know that super stores in the United States are some of the most surreal places known to man. Nearly everyone I know used to go to Meijer (midwestern superstore) ages ago with no shopping agenda, just to pass some time in awe and wonderment at the fact that they could literally buy anything. However, with the recent growth of super Walmarts and the whatnot, the novelty has sort of worn off.

Well, these stores couldn't let that happen could they? There is no way that they could just let our interest in their mind numbing absurdity wane.

It recently came to my attention that in Boise Idaho…..

a couple was married in a Walmart!

This is one of those moments that you really wish you were kidding. You are desperately hoping that someone is playing a horrible joke on you. However, in the words of the bride:

"It never dawned on me to have it anyplace else."

Yes clearly what they were actually thinking is that all of their friends and relatives are lazy and cheap. They were going to put off buying a wedding gift until the absolute last minute, and they desperately wanted a bargain.

Speaking of bargains, some people choose to start their married life at Walmart while others apparently would like to end theirs at…

Costco's Universal Casket Department?

There is little room left to make fun of this. We stepped into this story a bit late, every news source in the country has already made all the relevant jokes- particularly those in Chicago where the market is being tested. One of my favorite was when WLS radio personality Roe Conn asked the question: "when are they going to go on sale? Perhaps around the holiday season?"

Some sources are skeptical that Costco can actually successfully break into the casket business:

"Third-party suppliers have been around for a while now," said Walkinshaw. "Costco is pricing caskets at $800, but many funeral homes offer caskets for much less than that amount. I don't think this will change the landscape of the market."

Yeah, so anyway, America’s superstores, for all your marriage and death needs.

Two video you need to see immediately

1) A Message From White House West. Everyone may have already seen this, but in case you haven't do yourself the favor. You can right click on the quicktime links to save it to your computer, which is a good idea as you'll end up watching this a hundred times.

I'm trying to find video of Farrell at a recent fundraiser for the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he dressed in the flight suit to do the Bush impression. Look at that picture – is Will Farrell funny at everything? And for the love of god, go see Ron Burgandy again already.

2) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Trailer. I'm so excited for this movie. The setups, framing and costuming (not to mention facial hair) of Wes Anderson's movies grows continuously bizarre. I remember one of my favorite memories of seeing Bottle Rocket was the yellow jumpsuits and bizarre Texas backgrounds – everything was so stylized yet so natural. You used to be able to order those jumpsuits but they they have since been discontinued.

Each subsequent movie has upped the ante in these areas, and this movie is no different. Watch that trailer again. Notice the Zs in the black sweaters. Notice how the acedemic panel ("revenge.") has a 16th century Italian Master type painting for the background and is set in an opera hall – not exactly what I picture when I think academia. When they have the "Bill Murray" title for the credits look at the background of his office setting – there's a whale turning over! Some people criticized Royal Tenenbaums for being too much an excercise in style, but I say bring it on. The actors are top notch and can definitely fill out the amazing scenery. And the facial hair.

side note: It's co-written with Noah Baumbach, whose Kicking and Screaming is easily my favorite of the mid-90s Miramax-funded "people in their mid 20s saying Very Clever Things while Hanging Out" genre. A friend pointed out that because of the 1995 movie's wonderful "I haven't been-to-Prague been-to-Prague" speech (the first clip under K&S here) everyone who has moved to Prague since then – and I know more than a few – should at least admit that they are being a bit of a cliché. And maybe even apologize.

I knew one guy who was reading "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" before moving over to Prague. The movie called doing that a cliché back then, and this guy was doing it in 2002. I told him that the book was a bad guide as the Soviets were no longer occupying the country. I don't think he got it.

I think everything is going to be okay

I have heard rumors of this from various souces over the course of the past year or so, but have never actually been given concrete evidence of it. What the hell, you may ask, is Erik talking about.

That is Local H guitarist and song writer Scott Lucas is a DJ.

This takes place tomorrow night at Schubas in chicago, if I weren't busy and as flat broke as a man could be I would be there.

The Schubas website only indicates that the DJ's will be playing music that influenced them. That said, we can only assume the Mr. Lucas will be playing the hottest mix of Trance and House chicago has ever seen.

two signs that the world is making more sense


Public Schools Have Higher Test Scores Than Private Schools

For some of you this may be a bombshell, but for all of you who went through the Catholic High School System this should be no surprise: Charter Schools have lower test scores than similar Public Schools. The report was put together by the American Federation of Teachers using the government's own numbers, and is reprinted here. Evidently the government delayed released the charter school's scores until the last possible moment.

Everyone I know who went through a public high school, no matter where they stand on the No Child act or school vouchers, will generally accept the argument that private schools are better than public ones. I went to a (Catholic) private school, and never accepted that for a second. Nevermind the idea that you can mandate religion classes instead of, say, writing or reading classes. Whenever you run something for a profit you are bound to cut corners and get creative in improving your bottom line in ways that do nothing to help with education (was anyone else subject to the daily 30 minutes of commerical watching that was the Channel One experience?).


Governor Blagojevich to Pharmaceutical Industry: Fuck You.

Sometimes I'm damn proud to live in Illinois. Yup, our Governor is starting a (perhaps illegal) program to import drugs from Canada and European countries at a cheaper rate. "The federal government has failed to act," Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. "So it's time that we do."

Don't even get me started on the nonsense of this debate. I absolutely hate that the Pharmaceutical Industry wraps itself in the Free Market rhetoric while they remain the most protected industry this side of New Deal agriculture. Bush moves to change tariffs a point to help protect U.S. steel and everyone shits themselves. An army of lobbyists push the President to make it illegal to import a product at a cheaper price from a foreign source (imagine him doing that to semiconductors from China!?!?!?!?) and sign a bill that prevents Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices and nobody blinks. Granted, I'm not a big city economist, but the idea that the government should be working very hard to artificially keep prices high seems a bit off.

And don't give me the "they need the money for research" scare tactic either. If anyone produces the cure for cancer or AIDS I'll post a mea culpa immediately. But the extra funds for research line is such a canard. Nevermind that the NIH, through taxpayer dollars, does a significant amount of the research that is then bought out by the industry. Some estimates say that a third of drugs marketed by the major drug companies are now licensed from universities or small biotech companies. What's more important is that so much of the research goes to changing existing drugs just enough to re-patent them. Quote Dr. Sharon Levine, associate executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group:

If I'm a manufacturer and I can change one molecule and get another twenty years of patent rights, and convince physicians to prescribe and consumers to demand the next form of Prilosec, or weekly Prozac instead of daily Prozac, just as my patent expires, then why would I be spending money on a lot less certain endeavor, which is looking for brand-new drugs?

Which is why millions and millions of dollars is spent R&Ding Clarinex, so that it can get out the same year as Claritin loses it's patent; nevermind that it's virtually the same drug that produces the same effects (the same can be said about Prilosec/Nexium and a million other combos). I'm sure somewhere the AIDS vaccine is in its final test stages.

But perhaps I'm being mean. Years of ripping off Americans with inflated rates for drugs has finally cultimated in one scientific breakthrough: we now have the means to keep Mike Ditka's cock rock hard throughout the night.

And you gotta love that.

Czeslaw Milosz, 1911-2004

Over the weekend, Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz died. He was 93. He was a master poet, full of ambivalence towards a world that could produce the joys and the horrors of the 20th century. His writings on totalitarianism are still salient; His book The Captive Mind is a condemnation of the leftist intellectuals of Western Europe who were rationalizing and philosophizing away Stalin's raping of his homeland. It opens:

"It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abtruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles [Marxism] to which, until then, they had never paid any attention."

Though he is rightly considered a hero to the resistance movements of Eastern Europe, that is by no means the extent of his genius. He was a funny guy, full of life, and I would easily put him in the top five people I would have really liked to enjoy a drink with. To give you a sense of his humor, please check out the following poem. It was written when he was 89 years old, well after he had seen the Russian occupation of Poland collapse and returned from exile to his first country as a hero. It's called:


For those of you in our audience who get hit on by creepy old polish men (those of you who ride the Chicago El know what I'm talking about), well, that poem above is almost certainly that guy's inner monologue.

Last thought: I really like the idea that I may get to grow up to be a dirty old polish man. I can't describe to you how excited I am by the prospect…no wait. When that time comes, I'll definitely be inappropriately telling you how excited I am. On the bus. In some bar on Chicago Avenue. In the waiting area of John Stroger Jr. Memorial Hospital. And so on.

You might be a completely worthless idiot if…

We here at the Ginandtacos Corporation try our hardest to take the high road. We pride ourselves with the degree to which our gentlemanly persona is an example for future generations of gin drinkers and taco consumers. However, unfortunately, there comes a time when something so mind bogglingly idiotic occurs that while in a hopelessly confused stupor we must share it and pray that in doing so we will find some catharsis.

On August the 11th some anonymous, and clearly well educated individual commented these honest criticism of the Champaign Bar Reviews, specifically referencing our reviews of Kam's and C. O. Daniel's:

It's complete bullshit for you to rate bars that you have either never been to or only visited a few times. You make ridiculous judgments about the "type" of people who frequent certain bars. I, as well as all my friends, went to Kams, CO's and Gully's. As far as paying $5 to get in- not if you knew someone…

You bet you can drink "one more than us." That, as well, is probably bullshit. Unless you stand at the bar of CO's and do Jagerbombs all night long, I doubt this is true. Drinking $1.50 pints of High Life for three hours is not the true definition of getting fucked up.

Coincidentally, the only campus bars that don't make you want to shoot yourself are the ones that make me want to shoot myself.

Possibly the only true thing you have said in your entire posting of useless drivel is that you would get your ass kicked at Kams.

Peace, bitch.

Posted by at August 11, 2004 11:07 AM would like to present as a counter argument: You sir are a little bitch of epic and historically significant proportions- a bitch on such a level that your friends neighbors and coworkers will be in constant awe of your unadulterated bitchiness.

We would also like to propose that you look something like this:

That being said, you might ask yourself why it is that believes you so be so utterly without worth? Let me address this on a point-by-point basis.

  • You seem to feel as though I am not able to make an accurate assessment of Kams of CO Daniels because I don’t frequent these establishments. It does not take a long arduous study to conclude that these bars smell of puke (probably yours) and urine. It does not take going to a bar every night to realize that their floor is so covered in shit that you have to throw out your pants and shoes when you get home. At this point, it does not take great leaps of faith or intense mental fortitude to assume that the regular patron of such an establishment has neither intelligence nor self respect- or really is even aware of the existence of either of these things.

    In case there is any doubt, take a look at these photos courtesy of :

    Try and play the fun and exciting how many of these men are of age versus how many of the women game.

  • The only reason I ever mention that I drink more than you…is well… because I can. At this point in my life it is not something that I take great pride in, but well, it is true. The fact that you use as a counter example your seeming epic consumption of Jagerbombs can only serve to confuse the issue. You are no doubt either underage or confused. Jagermeister is not hard liquor. It is about on the level of peach schnapps. If you had paid more attention in your introduction to numeracy class you would be able to figure out that 16 ounces of beer has about twice as much alcohol as a shot of Jager. Of course that never occurred to you did it? No doubt all the Red Bull you consumed had sped up your metabolism to disturbing levels clouding your judgment. I will forgive you this point, as an inexperienced drinker you probably mistook this feeling for drunkenness. However, if you ever get serious, try drinking beer and whiskey; it’s better for you.

As a final note.
1. Knowing someone who can get you into a shitty bar for free is not cool.
2. Neither is implying that you would kick peoples asses because they are different from you.
3. You are a little bitch.


(At the risk of getting anyone in trouble, forgive me for being slightly vague here)

A close relative of mine works in a government job in the Orland Park, IL area. For those of you unfamiliar with Chicagoland, Orland Park is a completely typical suburb, the kind in which bad rite-de-passage movies are set. Malls, strip malls, more strip malls, subdivisions, gated subdivisions, and more strip malls.

The office in which this person works was informed this morning by the FBI that they have information that leads them to believe that "malls and schools" may be targeted by terrorists and that they have "specific information" stating that the Orland Square Mall on LaGrange Road is being targeted for an attack.

I'll let that sink in for a moment. Re-read that paragraph until it strikes you as the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, at which point you may proceed.

OK. Let's start with the "schools and malls are targets" premise. Great. Can I ask what categories of structures aren't on the list of potential targets yet? Ridge and the boys have issued warnings about banks, monuments, financial centers, stadiums, skyscrapers, courthouses, government offices, power plants, factories, train stations, airports, parking garages, tourist facilities, military bases, pup tents, mud huts, Pueblos, unmanned weather stations, geodesic domes, and suspiciously large hats. What purpose could an additional specific warning about schools and malls serve except to rachet up the hysteria a little more?

We get it, dipshits. Everything everywhere is a target 24 hours a day, and only George Bush can protect us. We get it. OK.

As for "specific information" concerning the Orland Square Mall. What can I even say except that anyone who is alarmed by this news can take comfort in the tremendous reliability of "specific information" and "sources" over the past 3 years. If the source turned out to be anything more credible than a 12 year old hanging out in Hot Topic, I'd eat my ass.

This sort of thing is a symptom of the advanced stages of complete hysteria. Anyone in their right mind would step back, take an objective look at this situation, and realize that Al Qaeda is not targeting a nondescript mall in an achingly irconsequential suburb. Logic would dictate that their list of targets is not:

1. World Trade Center
2. Pentagon
3. White House
4. Orland Square Mall
5. Olympics

I can't tell if this speaks to a complete breakdown of the nation's ability to think critically or simply a crass need for irrelevant people with boring lives to feel important enough to be targeted for terrorism. But in either case I can think of little to alleviate my dumbfoundedness at the moment.