If you're like me at all, you find it very difficult to eat these days. I worry extensively that the food choices I make are not sufficiently answering the question "Do our colors run?" in the negative. The mere thought that someone could look at my meal and walk away wondering "I wonder how Ed feels about our troops?" is enough to make me avoid eating altogether.

That is about to change. Snacktime is becoming more patriotic.

The good folks at Cookie Club of America (I'm sure they meant for America) are selling delicious snacks emblazoned with the logos of the various branches of the Armed Forces of these United States. If cookies seem like a decadent superfluity in these times of war, surely you can justify eating one bearing the Coast Guard logo.

1 in every 10,000 cookies bears the logo of our Nation's final line of defense: The League of Women Voters

These cookies, as patriotic and collectible as they are, will take a proud place on my mantle beside my deck of Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards and my autographed photo of George Wallace.


Sexy pics. Self-actualizing beatings. Electronics we do not own. Candlelight party sets. Yes, the men of thought they were really pushing the eBay envelope. And they thought that eBay had already laid all its cards on the table, what with the fully functioning particle accelerator, iconic grilled cheese, and decomissioned Chilean Navy aircraft carriers.

"We are unimpressed" said eBay. "We are now selling an operational Soviet Zil-35 FROG Mid-Range Ballistic Missile Launcher."


The men of paused, contemplated, and then retreated. It would take far, far sexier pictures to top this.

My Favorite 2004 Moments: Best Liberal Meltdown

Side story for a second. My favorite movie moment from last year was the dinner between Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg and a family headed by a strangely bearded Richard Jenkins (the dad from Six Feet Under) in I Heart Huckabee's. I won't give too much of it away, but Schwartzman plays an activist, and Jenkins an electrical engineer, and within minutes of first meeting they are at each others throats. Both are coming at issues from such completely different starting points that it is impossible to imagine them being able to talk about anything – sprawl means waste to Schwartzman; fighting it means communism and no jobs to Jenkins.

A few minutes later they are thrown out of the house, and that little side-mini drama captures the high level of discourse this past year over everything. A vote for or against Bush wasn't a vote for or against supple-side economics or interventionist foriegn policy; it was a vote for or against a complete way of seeing the world through faith-based lens.

As such, everybody on both sides spent a good part of 2004 yelling at each other. This award could go to any single one of them, but your Rush Limbaughs were convincing us that liberal are destroying everything for a decade now. So instead I'm naming it the best liberal breakdown and giving it to the person whose change for this year stands out the most: Lawrence O'Donnell.

I'm a "The McLaughlin Group" junkie since high school, and he's been my favorite guy on it for the past few years. He's a nice, polite, smart and clever democrat. His resume has all the things you'd expect in the defender of the democratic party: Senior Advisor to Senator Moynihan, Democratic Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance in the early-to-mid 90s, prodcuer of the West Wing (where he won a few awards for co-writing an episode about the death penalty).

Being on a show with Pat Buchanan, you'd expect him to match his level, but instead he would contain himself. Until this past year. Here are two instances of his year-long meltdown. First off, the first Mclaughlin Group after the Kerry loss (airdate nov. 5th):

MR. O'DONNELL: But the big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don't pay for the federal government.
MR. BLANKLEY: Did you say secession?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, yes.
MR. BLANKLEY: Are you calling for civil war?
MR. O'DONNELL: Ninety — not war; you can secede without firing a shot.
MR. BLANKLEY: Not if you have a Lincoln in the White House.
MR. O'DONNELL: Ninety percent of the red states are welfare client states of the federal government. They collect more from the federal government than they send in. New York and California, Connecticut, the states that are blue are all the states that are paying for the bulk of everything this government does, from the ward of Social Security to everything else, and the people in those states don't like what this government is doing.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Off mike.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish!
MR. O'DONNELL: That cannot hold.

Going to one of my favorite commentators days after the Kerry loss (remember how sad of a day that was?) and having him call for a civil war did not cheer me up one bit. The rest of the commentators were a bit stunned. But I should have known that he was going to be intense that day, because I had seen over the internet him tear apart the head of the Swift Boat Vets on Scarborough Country (with guest host Pat Buchanan). Trust me – watch this video. Keep in mind that this man writes and produces The West Wing – 99% of the time he is smiling politely while discussing poltics. Not this time (follow the image link through to the media file):

Although Buchanan issued an apology, I cheered after seeing that clip, but that was before the election. After the secession talk, I was a little worried about Mr. O'Donnell, and he wasn't on the Mclaughlin Group for about two months – thankfully he was there for the Year End special, in which his resolution for 2005 was to not call people liars, unless they deserve it. Good to have the man back.

rss feeds, la plays itself, something new.

Hey guys. A few quick things. One is that has redone it's xml and rdf feeds, so if you are into doing that thing you can get notified to changes quicker and preview them. I use sharp reader for pc and various mac apps; these feeds haven't really been tested with the firefox live bookmarks/sage that everyone is using; so if there are problems drop a line and we'll clean it up.

Two is that I wrote about my favorite documentary of last year, LA Plays Itself, but there wasn't anyway that I could write about it without just going nuts for 2-3 pages, and since about 200 people saw it last year I've quarantined it off to the movie page and started it with commentary about the 77th annual Oscars nominees to give you something to go with.

The staff is also preparing something big, possibly for next week or the week after. Stay tuned.


One of my fondest wishes, being a devotee of history with an entrepreneurial spirit, is to have lived in a time of expansion and discovery. Sadly, the majority of the world (and the entirety of the United States) has been settled and industrialized. To have lived in a time during which Westward Expansion was a blank canvas for money-making schemes legitimate and otherwise would be a ticket to personal fulfillment for me.

Lacking that, I turn to eBay.

eBay is the wild west of capitalism for the modern era. eBay is the place where pretty much anything goes, and that which does not go (e.g., selling organs) has been explicitly forbidden because someone tried it. eBay was the place where Amadou Diallo's landlord auctioned off the bloody apartment door in front of which the NYPD shot him 41 times. eBay allows the insane and infirm to sell ghosts in jars and beatific sandwiches. eBay is the place where a young man sold ecstacy for 8 months under the listing "fun stuff for raves."

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have always been captivated by this lawless African banana republic of e-commerce. Accordingly, I have had multiple productive periods of profitable ideas that involved the resale of things I may or may not have had the legal right to resell. The specifics are unimportant; I leave the resolution of moral ambiguity to the Lord and copyright attorneys.

Photo courtesy of has decided to use its greatest assets – drunken violence and raw sexuality – to enter a new phase of profitability. Tapping into the thriving "masturbating pervert" market, Erik Martin has taken to selling a set of sexy pictures of an anonymous individual we'll call "Mike." For the uninitiated, there is a booming market on eBay of creepy, busted-out girls selling pictures (as well as used panties, fake love letters, etc) to creepy, busted-out fat guys who want to pretend that they have a girlfriend. Yes, believe it or not, people do this. And people spend a lot of money in the process. This offers them a useful alternative.

In addition, is proud to expand the categories of personal services available via eBay by offering (for a reasonable opening bid) a thorough, professional ass-beating to willing bidders. For those who seek self-improvement through merciless pummeling, will be the website that leads them to enlightenment.


James Dobson officially needs a hobby. Failing that, he needs to get it over with and come out of the damn closet already. By now you've all seen his protest that SpongeBob SquarePants – a cartoon about a sponge who lives in a pineapple – is pushing a gay agenda. Under the code name of "tolerance" (sub-irony: "christians" opposed to tolerance. Discuss.)

James, you are a flaming fucking homo. There is no other possible explanation for you and your existence. It is utterly impossible for someone who is not gay to be so completely obsessed with men having anal sex. You think and talk about it 24 hours a day. You accuse the media of pushing a gay agenda yet you are the one who is trying to get on TV every 30 seconds to bring up the subject of homosexuality.

Did it ever occur to you that attempting to indoctrinate people with the idea that everything is secretly pushing homosexuality is FAR MORE LIKELY to fuck kids up that just LETTING THEM WATCH THE FUCKING CARTOON and SHUTTING YOUR GREEDY FUCKING MOUTH?

No? I didn't think so.

Dobson: Father, Preacher, Cum Dumpster

What a cocksucker this man is. "GAYS ARE BRAINWASHING YOUR KIDS! SEND MORE CHECKS!" Fuck you, James. Fuck you and your stash of panties and the reams of gay porn in your attic. Fuck the little drama that goes on in your head every night as the angel on your shoulder tells you to say another rosary but EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING desperately wants to be in an abandoned warehouse somewhere with a death-grip on your ankles while a whole lacrosse team plays target practice with your large intestine until your asshole looks like a pound of ground beef.

Everyone can see what you are, and I know it's mighty dark in that closet. Come on out. It's OK. Better to come out now than end up in the 9th ring of hell – Hypocritical Cocksucker Hell. Not only is it extremely hot, but Hoover and Thurmond both snore.

So then there were "NO RULES"

**Warning, this is going to be another post potentially irrelevant to people outside of Champaign or Urbana Illinois**

-Sub-warning, I don't care.-

That said, down here in central Illinois we have a radio station 107.1 with the call WPGU. Having lived in this town for nearly 8 years now, I can say with near certainty that it spent the majority of its life sucking. I am not talking about your typical run of the mill sucking, I am referring to that rare and special, Dennis Miller trying to get the conservative viewers sucking.

We are talking about a radio station that would play whatever flaming pile of shit billboard had recently placed onto its top 40 list. Showing little regard for theme or continuity, the radio station resembled the musical equivilent of a portal to hell being cracked open on the Earth's surface spewing whatever minion of satan happened to be first in line.

So anyway…

You can imagine my surprise when sometime late last summer I tuned in to the station to find that they were playing music that I actually enjoyed. I thought that I had entered into some odd parallel universe. They were playing Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Dead Kennedys, and all sorts of other fantastic artists never before heard on 107.1 in its "The Planet" incarnation. I felt like the "Friends" on the episode with the free porn. I honestly believed that if I turned off the radio this magical dream would end and I would once again have to listen to Creed, or Hoobastank or whoever the hell it was that made 107.1 sound like a constipated old man after having eaten a Grande Meal from Taco Bell. However, I was thrilled to find out that this was not in fact a wonderful dream (the good music, not the constipated man) 107.1 had changed their format. The station actually had DJ's choosing music and talking about it instead of mindless computer generated shit.

Considering this, I was amazed to see that in the school newspaper today an opinion columnist was complaining about the new format and calling for a reversion to the "good old days" (yes, this time I am referring to the constipated man).

You can read the column here

This blew my mind. It is one of those revelations that force you to rethink the entire framework of how you view the world. While I have always known of the existence of bands like Incubus, I have never truly been able to figure out how someone can listen to them. Much like attempting to reconcile how light can simultaneously be a wave and a particle, I had to make some assumptions.

Postulate 1:
Whereas Incubus et al. suck the ass of various domesticated and wild animals.
and Such musical groups have fans.
Said fans must have such ambivalence toward their music that it is impossible for them to have any deeply felt opinions.

Now, much as Einstein's photoelectric theory paved the way in quantum mechanics for a substance to be both a wave and a particle, Chris Kozak ( has come along, revolutionized the field, and forced us to think about the possibility of people simultaneously enjoying shitty music, and having an opinion about it.

It would seem useless for me to, at this point, attempt to refute Mr. Kozak's theories music and the like. If you agree with him, I would wonder how you ended up on this site in the first place. If you don't, the reasons why his article is exceptionally ridiculous should be abundantly apparent.

However, it seems like I would be shirking my responsibility if I did not at least point out some highlights.

The winners of 1992 who are apparently all that college students should be listening to.

"How many students regularly listen to or have even heard of bands like Ambulance Ltd., Rilo Kiley and Of Montreal? I certainly have not."

A lot. It is mysterious that he knows their names yet has not heard of them. Perhaps this fellow should realize that it is actually A GOOD THING that the student radio station is introducing people to new music that they have not heard before.

"Another common theme in Indie music is band names beginning with the word "The." Gracing the WPGU play list are songs from bands named The Delays, The Faint, The Good Life, The Music, The Postal Service, The Stills – and don't get confused now – The Thrills. Do you know these juggernauts? Me neither."

Well played sir, making fun of the typical them of "The" and a plural noun. Really, no one had noticed that before. I hear that effects how their music sounds. (oh yes, Incubus- the evil spirit that has sex with women as they sleep- is a fantastic band name) Let me take this moment to point out that it was here in the article that it became abundantly obvious that Mr. Kozak had simply looked at the WPGU current music list from their website and made whatever joke immediately came to mind.

What really got me, was the fact that this fellow seemed offended that the local radio station played local music he hadn't heard of.

This honestly made me sick. We have a fantastic music scene in this town. How are these local musicians to be expected to get any sort of following if the college station in their town won't play their music because a few assholes don't think it is a good party mix to drink Busch Light to?

For Christ's fucking sake, here is a list of local bands who have release fantastic albums recently (mostly in the last year)

  • The Blackouts (now The Living Blue)
  • The Beauty Shop
  • Emotional Rec Club
  • Rob Mccolley
  • The Headlights
  • Terminus Victor
  • Poster Children

Yes, I know I probably forgot some, but I made the list quickly. Still a decent list. We have great live venues like The Highdive, and for fucks sake, lets be thrilled that we now have a radio station that actually promotes the bands playing there.

As a final note: Jesus Christ, Chris Kozak could you have any worse taste? Oh wait yes, you could, in your previous column you were lamenting the loss of R&R's and the Shark Bowl. Please just graduate quickly and leave this town as fast as you possibly can.

Letters in the Daily Illini today in response:
Erik Kraft– "Where's Hootie"
Jim Finnerty, program director at WPGU -"Letter: to WPGU listeners"


By now everyone has read – and expressed the requisite amount of educated, cosmopolitan scorn toward – the Georgia "Evolution stickers" that a court has recently ruled cannot be included in textbooks.

This replaces the controversial but popular "We ain't had no lynchin's 'cept for them negro boys that had it comin'" sticker

Don't get me wrong, posting any such notice that material in a textbook is inaccurate is prima facie ridiculous. If something in the book is wrong, don't give it to your children. If you have no evidence other than an opinion to "disprove" parts of the book, shut the fuck up. "God created everything" is a cop-out, not a theory. When I was 5 and I asked my dad how electricity is made, he told me it was magic. It was amusing, but more importantly it was a cover-up for "I don't know." When learning about the true origins of electricity later in life, I hardly expected the "It's magic" theory to get equal time.

But aside from the surface aspects of the issue, the amazing part about this story is that there is so much hoopla over the contents of science textbooks in Georgia. Georgia has some of the worst schools in the nation, was the last state to have unprosecuted lynchings, and has one of America's highest illiteracy rates. And don't forget its top-10 teen pregnancy and spousal abuse rates. Honestly, what the fuck are these idiots' children even absorbing from their textbooks?

Those who bother to graduate high school before getting a job at Jiffy Lube or Farm & Fleet are probably oblivious of 99% of the material presented to them in their academic lives. You could issue textbooks that state man originated on Saturn and flew here on winged intergalactic unicorns and it wouldn't matter. The entire "southern culture" is so anti-education, so willfully ignorant, and so stuck in the past (the Scopes trial was eighty fucking years ago and they're still debating evolution) that it literally makes absolutely no difference what these people are "taught." So long as the society in which these people live reinforces the idea that beliefs supersede facts or empirical evidence, they're going to remain the backward, mongoloid retards of America and there's nothing any textbook can do to halt (or propogate) that.


I mean, for Christ's sake, people. We're talking about a place called Cobb County in rural Georgia. If that doesn't make banjos fire up in your mind over images of the General Lee racing down dirt roads with Sheriff Coltrane in hot pursuit, you're giving them too much credit. Fuck'em all. Let them teach phrenology for all I care. They couldn't possibly come out any dumber.

My Favorite 2004 Moments: DVR, Boston Legal

2004 Sucked. That's ok because (a) 2005 is already much better and (b) there were some good things that happened last year, of which I'll put to (electronic) paper over the next week so I can remember those and forget the rest.

First off, the DVR. Although I've been around cable television for as long as I remember, after college I never signed up for it (I would make my parents tape the HBO shows I watched). Part of me would like to think this is a result of some sort of "there is nothing ever good on why aren't you reading more Proust?" cultural snobbery, but I really know it was more out of behavior avoidance to prevent myself from ending up awake at 3am, 50 pounds heavier, watching Carson Daly count down the top 70 moments of 1993.

In walks the DVR, a TIVO-like device offered through our comcast service. It tapes up to 80 hours, up to two channels at time. Whatever interface issues people complained about in the past have more or less disappeared, and anybody who can navigate a computer can handle this. It makes it so that you can enjoy TV on your own time/on your own terms. Everyone who has one of these things raves about it, so I'll limit myself to a few things about specific shows that have changed since I started DVRing them.

First off, you can become a master at watching shows in fast-forward. I can watch 8 hours of Gilmore Girl in 30 minutes, stopping only to stare and blush at the scenes with Lane Kim in them. Thanks to the internet, I can use episode guides to find which episodes of Beavis and Butthead have the videos that cracked me up 10 years ago and see if they still do (they still do – "these guys are called smashing pumpkins, but they aren't smashing anything" – brilliant!).

One of the biggest impact is reserved for those shows where the parts that are good are completely seperated, like oil and water, from that parts that are awful. Which brings me to Boston Legal. I never watched The Practice until it's last year, where James Spader was brought on to try and breath new life into the failing show. Legend has it that David E. Kelley offered Spader a job playing a lawyer immediately after seeing "Secretary" for the first time; this makes sense as the vaguely sinister, sexually deviant, somewhat likeable but morally challenged character Alan Shore seems straight out of that movie. Later brought, of all people, William Shatner as the powerful, though possibly senile, named law partner Denny Crane. The show got cancelled anyway.

Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, ABC decided to take these two new characters and build a show around them. With no history of Awards and Strong Moral Dramatic Situations that The Practice evidently had going for it, Spader and Shatner are free to chew the scenery as much as they'd like (while poor Odo tries to keep them in check). Shatner (who just got a Golden Globe for this role) tells a jury that he hates old people, and that the jury can go ahead and find the drug company civilly-liable as they'll just increase the price of medication to cover the judgement. James Spader waxes reflectively on his love affair with a midget ("best two years of my life") and his "frequent flyer miles" he gets with the local escort agency with a reptilian charm you can't quite stop watching.

The rest of the show is a photocopy of a photocopy of any of those crappy David E. Kelley lawyer shows for which the fast-forward button was designed. There's some idealistic young lawyer with big boobs, there's some hard-headed "my-way-or-the-highway" lawyer that has a short skirt, and so on. Evidently not everyone watches Boston Legal via DVR, as ABC is now gutting the show a bit to keep the women making "Desperate Housewives" (the lead-in show) a huge-hit around for a second hour of TV. The last weeks have seen the firing of one of the super-model women lawyers, Candice Bergen entering as a regular playing another named partner to rival Mr. Shatner, and one episode in which a women playing Spader's secretary (whose likeness to Maggie Gyllenhaal is notable) complaining that Spader is sexually harassing her (the in-joke is quite funny). It may be enough to keep the show interesting in the long run.

The ability to fast-forward through crap is one of the big selling points of the DVR, but I find it equally useful in re-visiting scenes that need a second (or third) viewing. So far, every episode of Boston Legal has ended with Spader and Shatner at night, seated in bubble chairs on the roof, cigars and brandy in hand, contemplating the events of the show against the void of the Boston skyline. The snark and defenses of the characters are dropped for that moment, and it's usually quite touching. It's certainly interesting enough for a mutiple viewing via the rewind-button.

(that went long – sorry, later in the week is best documentary, and best liberal breakdown, among others. stay tuned)