Thursday, December 28, 2006

Translation of Auld Lang Syne

If I don't know lyrics, I sing the notes of the song especially if it has been written by a squealing shamrock. Here's a belated story about the translation of Auld Lang Syne.

Missed connection: Empty tavern m4w 23 (Sadville)

The Squirrel Hill Cafe is a bar in Pittsburgh. It's affectionately called "the Cage" because it keeps the self-loathing hipster and nihilist junk poet safely behind bars where they belong. If you think Post Secret is a pit of irony and postmodern romanticism then you'll love Missed Connections!

wallowing interrupted by girl with red hair. - m4w - 23

Reply to:
Date: 2006-12-27, 3:52PM EST

I was at the bar, you came in looking only recently 21. Maybe you were wearing a vest, maybe not. I wish I could say the glance you offered saved me from committing suicide last night, but I wasn't intending on committing suicide. However, you must have sensed some type of aberrant personality trait because you spent the rest of your short stay sitting in a booth with your friends (one male, one female) chatting, no doubt, about how wonderful and worry free life is.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Jimmy Carter- Peacenik, Activist, and Jew Hating Pig! Newsletter from the AIPAC? A column by Michael Kinsey at the WashPost? Close... Correct answer is: An inconspicuous link on our esteemed blog posted by the Capitol Man!

I can't help but to comment on what was surely intended as secondary and humorous... as with all public discourse in America, simpletons like myself focus on the margins when core issues prove too complicated. And since Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw is beyond my grasp, I'll flaunt my half-cooked assessment of the latest, most analyzed, least read book.

Jimmy Carter outraged America last month when he publicly criticized *gasp* Israel. No longer burdened by the need to seek public office, Carter took umbrage with the Israeli pastime of caging and beating an entire population of Palestinians. Carter's book apparently highlights the excesses of Israeli occupation of Palestine, from the summary demolition of Palestinian homes and the economically ruinious West Bank fence, to Benjamin Netanyahu's pesky habit of taking his wine in the skull of a Muslim baby. Pro-Israeli pundits pointed out that Carter has been pro-Islam since 1979, and this is just another chapter of his sordid dance with Islamo-Fascism!

Of course the punditocracy quickly lept to the defence of the Status Quo, because anything beyond that might require them to think about what they're saying. I mean, really, didn't like 8 Palestinians blow up the World Trade Center and shit... or was it them pesky pinko Russians up to their KGB hijinks? In the meantime, we can sleep soundly knowing that even if Israel recreated Apartheid in Palestine, we can count on the French to to be indignant on our behalf.

Gerald Ford Eaten By Wolves

Gerald Ford tragically died yesterday at the ripe age of 129. The lost generation will forever remember Ford as a former president killed off in the hilarious Dana Carvey sendup of Tom Brokaw's Summer Vacation (check out the video here).
In addition to being appointed president, Gerald Ford was a candidate, too! No one really liked him, however, because he was adopted and his wife drank too much at parties.
Despite these deplorable character flaws, little-known Broadway star Pearl Bailey believed in Jerry. Bailey was a Broadway actress made from porcelain. This reporter claims she was the prototype for Aunt Jemima.
During the 1976 election, Bailey made a personal appeal to the American public on Ford's behalf. Watch it here (bottom icon in the Rep column). With such a heart-felt endorsement from a movie star like Miss Jemima, one is left to wonder how Ford could ever lose to a anti-semite from Georgia. Oh, wait. There was that whole pardoning of Nixon thing.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gosh, this is embarassing...

Check out the visage on this guy's pal.

From today's PG Photo Journal:
Despite temperatures in the teens, James Montgomery, of Washington, Pa., celebrates his return from active duty in Iraq, his 30th birthday and a double-digit Pittsburgh lead last night during the fourth quarter of the Steelers 27-7 victory over the Browns at Heinz Field.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mayor Opie promises bestest prom ever!

Elect Luke Ravenstahl your class president because he's young and handsome. What more could you ask for yunzers? Check out his bitchin' campaign site here.

Steelers football rules!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gifts meant to ruin your holiday

Happy generic/pagan celebratory season! is putting together a very special guide to giving. We'll show you how to piss in your honey's cup of holiday cheer by presenting them a thoughtless gift of impotent value!

Tomorrow, Darnnews correspondent Bonno will share with you his ideas for ruining the office Christmas party.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From your world-weary traveler: Saturday Paranoia

It's been too long, dear reader. Since its the weekend and email is no longer instantly at our fingertips, I find it better to post today.

According to this web site I never heard of, the Muslim passengers who claimed their rights were violated by US Airways were behaving more suspiciously than initially reported. This story is culled from police reports and an email written to US Airways by a passenger named Pauline:

I'll save you the precious reading time and present the skinny.
Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.

Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm.

A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane.

All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.

One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice. (Could someone verify this?)

he reaction of the remaining passengers has also gone unreported. “We applauded and cheered for the crew,” she said.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Equitable Gas sucks

This morning, the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission called me. I had recently filed a complaint against the monopolistic savages at Equitable Gas.

Equitable Gas will not turn on residential gas meters on Saturday. Monday through Friday only, bub.

What effrontery! Mail comes on Saturday. Liquor can be purchased on Sunday. But this "public utility" can't flip a switch on Saturday. Well, actually they can says the PUC but only in the most extenuating of circumstances...for something called "compliance."

"Compliance" is the polite name given to the PUC's threat of a fine. The gas company is given three days to turn your gas on. I believe this equates to three "chances." If the company fails, the PUC can compel them to turn it on during a Saturday. If Equitable does not follow through, the PUC can cite them.

On a related note, Equitable Gas wants to purchase Dominion Peoples. Company officials say if the merger is not approved, they may be forced to relocate their Pittsburgh operations to Kentucky. Shove it up your face, Equitable.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanks for playing the Election Game, Senator...

We have some lovely parting gifts for you, Mr. Kerry.
Former U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry (background L) watches on as incoming U.S. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (C)(D-NV) walks alongside his party colleagues on Capitol Hill November 14, 2006. Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat, was elected by colleagues on Tuesday as U.S. Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. The other top positions are (2ndL-R) Vice Chair of the Conference Charles Schumer (D-NY), Secretary of the Conference Patty Murray (D-WA) and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL). REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
We have some lovely parting gifts for you, Mr. Kerry.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Capitolman to Daingerous: That's politics, bitch!

PITTSBURGH - When Republican George Allen conceded his Virginia senate seat yesterday to Jim Webb, Darnnews' correspondent Capitolman - he of the soberest pen - could gleefully celebrate his own victory.

It was six months ago that Capitolman bet Daingerous a princely $50 that Jim Webb, a former Republican, Charlie-killin' misogynist from Jerkwater Junction would defeat Allen.

Daingerous to Capitolman: November is for closers!
Capitolman to Daingerous: That's politics, bitch!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bologna Degrees

An interesting article from a recent issue of brings to light the move towards curtailing the length of time needed to obtain a bachelor's degree in Europe. Dubbed the "Bologna Process" after the venerable Italian city, home to the purported Harvard of Italy, where EU member nations agreed to begin harmonizing academic standards. Apparently it's becoming all the rage in Europe to pair down the average BA course of study to three years. The basic question presented is whether American graduate programs should admit students who apply after completing a three year degree.

Stanley O. Ikenberry, former president of the American Council on Education and the University of Illinois, moderated the sessions, and introduced the discussion by asking his American colleagues to imagine the world with “an academic Euro,” in which European diplomas matched the clout that has increasingly come to the common European currency.

Ikenberry stressed that American educators couldn’t assume that the issue wouldn’t hit them. The Bologna Process goes far beyond just ensuring comparable degrees to encouraging European students to move about. “Mobility in and of itself is being valued,” he said.

And the message from most European academics at the conference was that American graduate schools have no business thinking that a three-year degree represents any less preparation than a four-year degree awarded in the United States.

Having some experience with European higher ed, conveniently obtained while studying in Bologna, the matter seems a no-brainer. After many nights spent observing the locals in their natural habitat, namely bars and clubs, it struck me that European undergrads are a complacent bunch. More than a few manage to squeeze a four year course of study into five or six before finally obtaining their laurels. If European universities can trim the time it takes to get to a degree, without seriously impairing the quality of instruction, why not admit the resulting graduates. It seems students able to complete such an intensive course of study, in an environment fraught with distraction and devil-may-care attitude, are a particularly motivated bunch. Just the sort we want to encourage to emigrate. It takes brain power, motivation, and discipline to and keep our city on a hill racket running smoothly. Assuming the graduates of three year programs are as motivated as they appear, the least we can do is put out the welcome mat and register them with tax and revenue.

Monday, October 30, 2006

This Week In State Budget Surpluses: Ever Upward

Way to go New York! You've just achieved your first budget surplus since the late 1990s, thanks in part to your consistent record of unbelievably high taxes and fraudulent accounting practices.

That one billion big ones you just raked in will go a long way towards fixing road infrastructure, paying off the interest on New York City's debt, cutting rebate checks for upstate taxpayers, and... . And it's gone. Sorry about that false alarm, Rochester. See you again in the year 3021.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Light at the End of the Tunnel

No one uses the Wabash Tunnel. Super-sleuth reporters from the Post Gazette unveiled the obvious today, outlining how the $10.9 Million Wabash Tunnel (not to be confused with the $435 Million Allegheny River Tunnel from Downtown to the "North Shore") costs nearly $12/user on a daily basis, burrowing a substantial hole in PAT's operating budget.

I remain baffled as to why Paul Skoutelas, primary architect of all of these bullshit projects, wasn't unceremoniously dumped on his face. $500 million might have provided a solution for us poor Downtown to Oakland commuters forced to share our 1.5 sqft of alloted space on the 71C with the trench-coat flasher and "Showtime," the walking meth lab. Never has anyone raised so much public coin for public transit in Pittsburgh... Nor has anyone ever spent it so poorly.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You Know You're Rich ... Right?

Hey, yesterday Forbes released their annual list of top earners among our dearly departed celebrities. Congrats to Kurt Cobain, this year's winner. The former Nirvana frontman and current moldering corpse grabbed a whopping $50 million in 2006. Wow! Now if only you hadn't gone and killed yourself and destroyed the future of all music that figure could actually still mean something. Whoops.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Russia Attempting To Set Record For Most Suspicious, Politically-Motivated Killings In a Month

When are the neo-authoritarian rulers of this gas-and-oil mafia state simply going to realize that violence only begets more violence.

I mean, sure, your secret police can keep disappearing, shooting, and stabbing to death every person who has a twinge of disagreement with the statist policies of your media consolidation and natural-resource monopolizing, not to mention your oh-so-friendly relations with eternally corrupt leaders around the globe -- but really, doesn't that just send the wrong message to the children? Do you, Mother Russia, really want your loved ones growing up in a country that butchers free-speech activists and routinely guns down other political dissenters in cold blood? Of course not. You want the Chechens to have that.

Hey! Ho! Let's Go! No, Seriously, Get Out.

Happy now, squares? You killed punk rock.

New York's own CBGB's, the legendary music venue and destination of choice for suburban hipsters and recreational drug users, has officially played its last power chord. Sunday marked the final concert held at the East Village club which helped to launch the careers of the Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, and The Ramones while ushering in new musical genres such as punk and new wave. Patti Smith, Deborah Harry, and other 1970's luminaries showed up to give the historic spot a proper send-off. Even newer, shittier bands offered their two cents.

As someone who took in a few shows during his time safely ensconced in a Westchester, New York, prep school, CB's was a great way for this humble blogger to learn about the immediacy of music, the value of anger, and how to falsify your age in order to buy cheap beer prior to a thrash-metal matinee. Rock on, losers.

Vote for Congressman Sherwood

Dear Congressman Curmudgeon,

The Internet, while invented by socialist Al "Algore" Gore, is a powerful weapon that can be used to promote or destroy you. Just ask your colleague Don Sherwood. He's the physically abusive philander and secret love-child of Dick Cheney and Bob Schieffer. Check out his reelection site at

Wait a minute, darnnews. That doesn't look like Don's site at all!

A clever curveball, huh Mr. Curmudgeon? Next time you are running for reelection Mr. Curmudgeon, ensure that you've maximized your web presence. If you don't know who to turn to for help, ask your slacker son and/or skanky daughter.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Traffic citation issued to: YOU

The following parties are banished from the passing lane:
1. Minivans and other automobiles that offend refined taste and geometry.
2. Motor carriages that display stuffed animals in the rear windshield. Thanks, Daingerous.
3. Ohioans.

Human ambien causes senator's head to explode during debate

Best. debate. ever.

Ohh, Baa-ma. My love will turn you on.

They held a boxing match last night and a debate broke out. Bobby Casey, the human equivalent of Ambien managed to avoid a bare-knuckle fist-fight with Rick Santorum.

I listened to this debate on the radio. Santorum came across as angry and desperate. Later, I watched it on television. Santorum was genuine, mildly insane, but clearly the victor.
Santorum's early smile quickly became a scowl, but he used this agitation to his advantage. If he was aggressive, he reminded viewers, it was only because he was passionate for Pennsylvania. During his closing statement, I thought Santorum might shed a tear, not because he fears losing, but because he believes in his heart of hearts that only he can fight for Pennsylvania.

This was vintage Santorum. The firebrand conservative reinspired that fealty from his followers, which has been missing since his endorsement of Arlen Specter over soulmate Pat Toomey in 2004 GOP primary. Santorum flashed a quick wit, and reputed with aplomb Casey's assaults.
Santorum routinely punctuated his answers with jabbing questions of Casey's meandering replies and at several points, openly mocked his opponent. When Santorum criticized Casey for merely repeating Democratic talking points, he went so far as to mimic Casey's droning speech pattern. "Moving forward...a new direction." It elicited a hearty chuckle from this analyst and I imagined, many independent voters.
Give credit to Casey, who appeared more bemused by Santorum's antics than offended. And while missed his opportunities to remind voters that Santorum is an ideological zealot out of step with most Pennsylvanians, he didn't look desperate.

Santorum's strength is in his aggressiveness. He reminded western Pennsylvanians of his local work. One of the benefits of incumbency is knowing intricate details of legislation. And he contrasted this with the dearth of factoids from Casey's treasurer tenure. This was, Santorum said, evidence that Casey was lazy and opportunistic. Finally, Santorum's camp has found something they could latch onto. Saying Casey is a liberal won't work. Bitching that Casey hasn't been forthright about his positions has failed. Painting Casey as lazy and disinterested?

That might make it a race.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bus Fare

DATELINE PITTSBURGH: Eggheads Suggest New Tax, Citizens Pissed.

A Philly think tank has suggested an additional regional tax to support transit in Pennsylvania's larger cities. The PA Economy League likes a good proactive government to take charge of these problems. And if that means taxation, then so be it.

The Economy League is right in that these are regional problems, but really wrong in how they suggest solving them. This Egghead humbly suggests the following:
  • PennDOT should focus on arterials. If they weren't paving low-volume cowpaths on behalf of poor municipalities, they wouldn't be broke.
  • Small governments should be merged so they can pick up the tab for smaller roads. These shitbox Mill-burgs and Buckwheat Townships can't keep the lights on at city hall let alone fix a pothole... time to give up your dumpy feifdom, Pops.
  • Growth Boundaries restricting sprawl. More infrastructure for less people is a surefire way to go bankrupt. If we don't restrict sprawl, then we'll have add more traffic lanes and bus-lines up I-279. More to pay for, and less people to pay it.
Lets try to avoid the last issue, namely less people, by dumping this latest proposal for more taxes.

Sharp-dressed man

Economic sanctions have been extremely hard on North Korea. The country is short on food, building materials, and clothing. The only retailers allowed to sell product in the communist country are the Army/Navy Surplus store and Goodwill.

Sorry, Lil' Kim. Mahmoud was voted 'Best-dressed Dictator' by the readers of Commentary.

Sienna wants grown-up drink with dinner

Jude Law fuck-buddy and semi-famous actress Sienna Miller shat on Pittsburgh...again.

Last Saturday night, Ms. Miller's parents allowed their angst-ridden pre-teen daughter to accompany them to dinner at Folino's Young Tavern on Carson Street. When the doorman refused entry to Sienna because she lacked proper identification, the harlot snuck in the restaurant only to be escorted out by the owner.

According to the Post-Gazette, Sienna ripped off her hat and said, 'I am Sienna Miller. I am a famous actress!'" Ms. Folino said. "That's what she did. She was basically throwing a temper tantrum."

Here's the best part of the story:

[The doorman] suspected Ms. Miller had sneaked in through a side entrance.

So he walked to her table and asked again for ID. She didn't have it. Then, after he escorted her to the exit, one of Ms. Miller's parents produced a copy of that morning's paper.

"Don't you know who this is?" Ms. Miller's mother asked the bouncer, according to Mr. Kovacs [the doorman].

"Yeah," he responded. "It's the mayor."

I'll drink to that! Here's to a a good old-fashioned Pittsburgh snub!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Comparisons by Beth

The effervescent, loqacious and gorgeous Beth VanWinkle offers our dear readers two comparisons. We report. You decide.

"I'd like to smother his head in broccoli and cheese."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ban County Council and other nebby forms of government

That august body, the Allegheny County Council, would like to ban smoking in all public areas, including taverns and restaurants. I hope our council representatives not succumb to such effrontery of American freedom.

Not only would they ban smoking inside, but also within 15 feet of entrances. Given that the South Side is one giant bar with 100+ entrances, it could be impossible to smoke. Walking down the sidewalk with a bog between your lips could earn you a $250 fine.

As a young man-about-town, I do enjoy partaking in the region's nightlife. And while not a smoker myself, I respect the innkeeper's right to decide whether to permit such a vile habit in his/her establishment. The smoke-encrusted clothes and hair is a small price to pay after an evening out, especially when weighed against the hours of enjoyment one has when sharing a few brewski's with his pals.

The people agree with me. Smoking is neither wise nor glamourous in today's society, but it's a personal choice that everyone from the patron to the barmaid makes when visiting/working in a smoking venue.

It will be a sad day in Pittsburgh, Penna, the city with the well-deserved reputation as the 'Smoky City' when such freedom is restricted.

Write your councilman, Americans. Crush this communism now!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nerds for Charlie Batch

Bench Big Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh's a blue-collar town that doesn't take too kindly to some hot-shot quarterback who becomes too big for his britches. Big Ben mistook ego for invincibility.

No helmet, says Ben.

No rest with a 104-degree temperature, says Ben.

No open receiver, says Ben.


I say that Big Ben can take his showmanship and shove it. We don't need no stinkin' South Side Dandy quarterbackin' this hard-nosed football club. Get lost, Ben.

There's only one quarterback on the defending Super Bowl champs who is undefeated this year. And he just happens to be from Pittsburgh. Here we go, Charlie, here we go.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Band Much More Talented Than Yours Drops Yet Another Album

Hardcore prog rockers The Mars Volta released their latest wall of sound and fury, "Amputechture," last Tuesday. It's great. Forget the haters on Amazon -- go buy it and make that cute record-store clerk in the Drive Like Jehu T-shirt notice you, finally.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oriana Fallaci Dies

A good writer and a great polemicist is dead. Who's gonnna ridicule organized religion now that Fallaci's no more? Oh, right.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Morning rant: Does American Eagle suck?

The clothier who turned damaged jeans into high fashion for high school has a new idea sure to make you vomit. American Eagle Outfitters (AeCo) is launching a new hip and trendy "experience" that will provide the young adult who eschews knee-length polo shirts and rugbywear in favor of clothes that are actually comfortable and form-fitting.

Say hello to Martin + Osa.

In giving the store its appellation, AeCo followed the retail industry's annoying penchant for naming stores after people you've never heard of. According to AeCo, Martin and Osa Johnson were husband and wife team from Kansas that liked to travel in a rugged, explorer kind of way. Whatever.

Thankfully, Martin + Osa can be converted into an acronym that reminds the 25-40 crowd of other stores they like to visit, such as H&M. Score one for the clever marketing hacks at AECo.

A NYT reporter recently sat with the husband-wife team that designed MO.

My theorem: personal taste changes with age. The 25+ crowd is looking for designer duds they can wear to the club of the office. If it's going to be expensive, it's going to sharp-looking. Fashionistas Michele and Charles Martin at AeCo, however, believes my generation wants cashmere tee shirts and $120 hoodies.

A brief recap of the major flaws of M+O based on my reading of this story and hatred for all things mall-related:

1. Michele and Charles assumed that their target market once shopped at those style-less stores like Abercrombie and American Eagle.

The message to consumers ages 25 to 40 could not be clearer: It'’s time to grow up.

"“We don't want them to throw out those old clothes," said Mr. artin, dressed in a crisp blue blazer, a brown tie and pair of jeans, "“but we want to upgrade them."

"Upgrade them?" Shut up.

2. These morons assume that the 25+ something crowd still shops there.
Those stores [American Eagle, Abercrombie, Pacific Sunwear?] have become a default shopping destination because style-conscious consumers in their late 20’s and 30s tend to avoid department stores (like Macy's), do not identify with baby boomer retail brands (like Chico's) and, until now, have had no store to call their own.

I've mever met someone in the 20+ crowd who has a penny of disposable income or a pound of fashion-sense that would even walk into one of these awful dungeons of haberdashery. Granted, my friends are all aging hipsters, ne'er do-wells, and angry young urbanites, but my point still stands. These stores never sold anything but sex and conformity.

3. And the proof that this husband-wife team is mentally disturbed:
"“We are going after a customer whose closet is overflowing," said Ms. Martin, who shortly after entering a room for an interview asks if she can turn on mood-setting music. "“She does not need a T-shirt. She needs an experience."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Darkness beware: Heaven's army is on the march

Children everywhere (so long as they are lilly-white, baptised, and Episcopalian apparently) can sleep easy knowing the Almighty is defending them from such evil-doers as the Boggeyman, serpents, and activist judges.

Go ahead and visit the dorkiest creation by a matronly zealot by clicking on the photo.

By the way, what's with the hand-holding? I hope our couple lives in Kansas

Let's pray that the church these children worship at does not hold sleep-overs. Else, we could be looking at WWIII.

Remember, next time you talk to your mother, thank her for simply comforting you as a child when you had that preternatural fear of the dark. She could have done this!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Porn: Traumatize Your Pets in Style

Wheeeeeee!! Doesn't that look like fun? No? Well, then I guess you're not a dog-lover, because the Puppy Purse is man's best friend's new best friend. Or something like that. Anyway, now, with just a simple nylon strap and oh-so-comfortable interlocking pelvic basket, canines can enjoy the freedom of being tethered to a clumsy, unpredictable biped as it lurches its way through traffic-choked streets in search of the most expensive tin of gourmet cat snacks. At least that's what will happen in Los Angeles. Not sure if this thing would sell well on Earth, though.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bob Schieffer to America: You're Welcome

Genuinely hilarious clip featuring Bob Schieffer of CBS News, an adorable British astronomer, and one new and improved solar system. He just made your weekend.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Porn: Kinda Like "Anaconda II," Minus the Character Development and Slick Writing

Oh my God, it's here. The day we've all been waiting for. American cinema's signal achievement following one hundred years of hopelessly mediocre film making and viewer disappointment. A moment so fraught with importance that the very act of writing about it bestows upon the critic Edmund Wilson-ish respectability. I'm talking about "Snakes on a Plane," the new viral-marketed cheese-fest courtesy of the joyless shit factory known as Hollywood, California. Joel Siegel loves it, so you know it must be "sssensational."

So go see it. Otherwise, this nerd may kill himself.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Going for the Kim Jong-Il look, Mr. President? We approve. You are internationally rebellious. And the stilted-arm wave is brilliant. It appears that your freakishly long hand is beckoning us to cheer louder. ALL HAIL THE ALMIGHTY REBEL-IN-CHIEF!

Yo, Bolten! WTF? Seriously, dude. Your boy's got an image problem. Propping him up on a motorcycle while wearing safety goggles is almost as gay as this. Almost...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Next Stephen King Novel Found Dead in Maine

It's a dog. C'mon, just stop it -- it's a dog.

Flip That Country

Good morning! May I have a moment of your time? I'd like to talk to you about the Middle East. Wait! Please don't walk away. I want to tell you about a unique investment opportunity available to you in Iraq. Bear with me -- I'm talking about that "other Iraq." You look like a man of taste and sophistication who likes to make money. You are? Tremendous. There's a place called Kurdistan where an investor, nay, a partner in freedom like yourself, can make all the money that the new and improved Iraq has to offer, which is a lot, by the way.

You see, while those Sunnis and Shiites were systematically dismantling any hope of democratic goverance brick by blood-slicked brick, the Kurdish people were building a whole country! A better country! With oil! And no reprisal killings. I should mention the other Iraq has very few of those, sir. Kurdistan instead offers safe streets, religious tolerance, and sweet, sweet autonomy. But no freedom of speech -- our bad. Journalists create dissension by questioning those in power, which undermines a government's legitimacy and is bad for business. So you see? No biggie.

The other Iraq wants you. We're calling you: Ring, ring. You gonna answer that or shall I? Because it's opportunity. Forget about "Iraq." You fought for the other Iraq. You shed blood and wasted billions of dollars for the privilege of occupying a Balkanized set piece. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy the spoils. These are, after all, the best years of your life, America. You've earned it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Go Get'em Girls

I love the NYT's conviction that women's consistent success in academia is an indication of future success.

Perhaps it's a bit anecdotal, but my D+ in "Rapist Basket-Weaving, Masturbation, and the Afro-Feminine Mind ENG 245" didn't screw me for life. Further, I've had more success in both professional and personal life talking about my favorite drinks and cigars (click on the link for Christmas ideas, Mom... I don't want another fuckin sweater) than discussing the intakes of Metternich's suppression of liberal ideology in the Revolutions of 1814. If anything, the intractability of Israeli-Palestinian problem or Saudi Wahabbianism tends to be a downer... people either leave the room or ask me to shut up.

From my prospective, I've found my Dickinson liberal arts education to be the most absurd, most expensive exercise in frivolity in my entire life. The only time being a nerd really seems to pay off is in the tech field... which is, consequently, dominated by men.

Maybe the glass ceiling has more to do with collegiate men focusing more on binge drinking and date rape (ie: conversation and interaction) than on Percy Shelly's dubious sexuality. Maybe women would do well to stop studying so hard, and start reading. Afterall, what really matters more?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ken Lay Dies

Kenneth Lay, convict and founder of Enron, has died today of a heart attack.

I for one, sucker that I am, pretty much believed he wasn't a thief, just a miser.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Don't ask, don't tell

Looks like the commander-in-chief has been spending quality "manhours" with our esteemed contributor, Dain Pascocello, the creator of the dubious manhug.
Why the grimace, Mr. President? Did you smell something rancid in the midshipman's armpit, or did his embrace just threaten the sanctity of your marriage?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Saint Paul

Paul Skoutelas, "visionary" director of the Port Authority who left Pittsburgh for greener pastures, had pretty damned good timing. Since his exit, two projects he headed up have been tanking.

The first of which is the T link to nowhere, connecting the vacant North Shore to Downtown. Over budget, underfunded, and of dubious merit, this thing aint goin nowhere.

The second is upgrades to the Overbrook line, including a massive pay-to-park garage at South Hills Village. The 2,000+ 7 story garage sits mostly vacant inspite of its $2/day fee. PAT is bragging about 200 lots to be leased to Giant Eagle, boosting daily occupancy to 25%. In real estate, we call that a Vacancy Rate of 75%, but who's splitting hairs?

At this rate, the garage can probably service only $5 million of its $21 Million price tag. Like I said, who's splitting hairs?

Inspite of evidence to the contrary, Skoutelas may have been simply implementing the plans of brain-dead elected officials who were ignoring the region's truest needs. But soaked riders waiting for the 71D along 5th Avenue in a driving rain probably won't be too sympathetic to that argument.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Call the Cops

In a dramatic stand on behalf of the voters of Allegheny County, Rich Fitzgerald and Jumpin John DeFazio stood athwart a plan to eliminate the elected sheriff's office in a larger consolidation of politically and functionally anemic county row offices. Spewing half-baked logic from his shit-eatin mouth, Jumpin John saved his brother Pete DeFazio's job saying the not-so-connected row offices need to go in the name of progress, but our 18th century Sheriff gotta stay. Why Pete DeFazio, you ask? Who else but a man dressed up like Marshall Tito can save us from the next Injun scalping party!

Since then, three top dogs at the Sheriff's Office went to jail for corruption, the office has shown an inability to carry out its core functions, and Sheriff Pete DeFazio stands guilty of gross negligence, or incompetance, or worse. DeFazio's praying for an Injun Raid or better before the next election... otherwise, he's cooked. Hopefully, he takes Rich Fitzgerald and his flunky brother with him.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Last Refuge...

The stock market is in its 3rd straight day of steep decline. Efforts in Afganistan and Iraq are worsening, and Samolia is promising to replace Afganistan as the next state sponsor of Terrorism. What to do amidst such a seemingly insurmountable crisis? When the road gets tough, the tough torch gays.

If Patriotism is "...the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel," morality at least provides good cover along the way. Bush protoges in the PA House are following in kind, voting yesterday to ban gay marriage. Can't pass tax reform? Just got caught with your hand in the taxpayer's wallet? Lets string us up some gays!

Saddest part of this whole affair is that so many legislators will err on the side of expediency; fearing the zealot's wrath more than their own tenuous grip on responsible governance. Republicans are salivating over the political expediency of it all. Rendell will veto this bill, because that's what a gun grabbin, gay lovin baby killer from Philadelphia does. At last! An issue Daryl Metcalfe and God-Lovin Butler County can use to rally around Lynn Swann. Hell, this might even be enough for them to look past the fact Swann is black.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Take a Look, Its in a Book...

What is a Carnegie Library worth? How about Ohiopyle State Park or a tidy business district? France, perennial economic loser but global champion of chic cultured life, believes quite a bit. The cities of France are heralded as the most beautiful in the world; their gilt facades and baroque design polished to a high gloss by 300 years of public subsidy. From the Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia to the lavishly appointed buildings in Oakland, Pennsylvanians have tried their hand at instilling a Parisian touch on cities otherwise developed a la lazziez faire. But in the great Anglo tradition, we did it on the cheap. The beauty of our grand boulevards is marred by filthy streets, sickly trees, and empty flower beds. I need not invoke Paris as a clean counterpart; Radnor, Ardmore, Mt. Lebanon and Sewickley will do just fine. The clean streets and manicured public spaces so meticulously guarded by healthy communities are all that stands between Oakland and... well, somewhere you'd want to live.

In the wake of the Congressional pork-binge, every oversized check photo-op looks like a vote-buying stunt. But is this too cynical an approach? A fitting question following an article entitled "Riding the White Elephant": have we become so phobic of government spending that we can’t recognize the difference between a sorely needed investment and a bridge to an uninhabited island in Alaska? As our cultural and physical infrastructure crumbles around us, we end up cash rich but civically bankrupt.

This week Ed Rendell stood in the drab interior of the Carnegie Library in East Liberty holding a check for $7.5 million. Rendell challenged the community to match the grant dollar for dollar to build our neighborhood a new library, while promising less subsidy for the development of Fifth & Forbes downtown. Both projects speak to imporant issues- both are deserving of some public support. But Rendell's approach, of challenging investors and neighbors to ante up, will help even those most squeamish of public spending to sleep at night.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Riding the White Elephant

Anytime the Post Gazette heads off a story with the words "Developer Has Big Plans For...," expect a pile of shit like the one we're being offered here. Cordish, Co., famed developer of rustbelt entertainment centers, now wants to "Live" up Pittsburgh. A proposed North Shore concert venue will feature a Glass Topped concert venue, "...surrounded by restaurants, clubs and shops, with entrances facing in so that patrons would have access to them from the event space." Plans show a space dominated by office space and retail... a veritable "24 hour" downtown just like the one we already have.

Cordish's plan seems like a good fit in this town, where insular developments like Station Square and the Boardwalk alternatively lure lust-blind suburban brats with bad music and busty barmaids, and myopic politicians with the next silver-bullet catalyst for the city's revival. Though the revival never materialized, such realities aren't viewed as failure by Station Square, the Boardwalk, or Cordish for that matter. A few extra million in public subsidy, perhaps a slots license or a parking garage. Bobby O is looking for a "Wow?" Cordish sez: "Though all of our storefronts face onto an inner courtyard, the ass ends of our buildings (ie: dumpsters and brick walls) are gonna light a fire under the North Shore!"

Cordish's development in Baltimore, the Inner Harbor, successfully draws in thousands of revellers from Central Pennsylvania, who prefer Cordish's brand of faux city to a real neighborhood.
Those who prefer a genuine urban experience neatly cut Cordish's plastic downtown out of Saturday's plans, choosing not to drink, to shop or to live nearby. York County hicks "come dahn, drank, and scoot." The net effect is an abandoned downtown. Sadly for the City of Baltimore, the Lombard Street redlight district two blocks away is a veritable melange of sexual horrors: abandoned by polite society to gothic hoardes of she-men riding naked astride wild animals.

For Pittsburgh, the tragedy is much more poignant. Booming East Liberty and bustling Lawrenceville bristle in competition for thousands from a shrinking pool of funds; while their respective projects will generate millions in real tax revenue for the city's coffers; while their efforts will eventually create high-value, stable neighborhood like the South Side or Squirrel Hill; the city will offer millions to make Cordish's glass-topped White Elephant a reality.

If the definition of insanity is the blind repitition of an act with the expectation of different results...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Where's the outrage?

The students of the bedraggled Duquesne School District will not be taking art or music classes next year. The 2006-07 preliminary budget passed last night by the state's board of controllers also eliminates the positions of elementary math teacher, elementary English teacher, high school Spanish teacher (forget about foreign languages in grade school), kindergarten assistant, psychologist, social worker, and speech therapist.

This means students will learn from the school superintendent, principal, custodian, and football coach.

There's plenty of blame to be assigned for the plight of the small, decaying urban district, but what's been most disappointing has been the absence of leadership on the part of the governor and one of America's great newspapers, the Post-Gazette.

When a fundamentalist cabal seized control of the school board at the uber-wealthy and ever-so-modest Upper St. Clair School District, and proposed the elimination of the frighteningly secular International baccalaureate program, the PG leaped into action, chronicling every development. A google search of the PG web site shows the paper printed more than 40 stories and editorials on the subject.

After several weeks of debate on the program's fate and vociferous community activism, Governor Ed Rendell opened his taxpayer-issued checkbook and offered $85,000 to the region's wealthiest school district if they would keep the IB program.

The USC community was indubitably critical to the program's restoration. Whether the PG was instrumental is debatable, but it certainly did not hurt. Why the PG has been less than intrepid while covering the demise of Duquesne or the indifference of politicians and the community, has yet to be explained.

And so I ask, where's the outrage?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Legislator Crashes Car After Attaching Supplemental Whiskey Sours To Bar Bill

Congressman Patrick Kennedy, (D-W.I.) -- er, (D-R.I.), I mean -- smashed up his car early this morning and then got a lift home from Capitol Police, according to reports. Kennedy maintains he was sober as an activist judge when his car hit a barrier near the US Capitol at First and C Streets.

Honestly, I’d expect shady behavior of this type from a Taft or one of those dirt bag Van Burens. But a Kennedy?? Wait, there is this… .

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Darn News attempts to weigh in on a topic of great import ...

... in which we rate Stephen Colbert’s performance at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where the Comedy Central funnyman ridiculed the president, skewered a doomed war, and held an establishment media accountable for its unforgivable complicity and shocking cowardice:

Not funny.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New York and Los Angeles

Jane Jacobs, planning guru, died today. In her book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," Jacobs challenged the logic of 1950's planning, wherein entire cities were demolished, compartmentalized, and warehoused in "architectural masterpieces" (read: towers ringed with moats of grass and asphalt). With her adopted New York neighborhood threatened with annihaliation, Jacobs set out to prove its worth. With the daily life of her Greenwich Village neighborhood as her laboratory, and the utilitarian functions of its streets her proof, we now recognize that cities grow organically and in response to its residents. Though built by people, cities symbiotically respond to and reflect the functional lives of individuals. The mean existence of the student, the garbage man and the shop keeper were elevated above Le Corbusier's Brave New World architecture. Huge swaths of urban America owe their survival to Jacobs.

Ironically, Frank Gehry's proposed Magnum Opus shares today's New York Times with Jacobs. His proposed "downtown L.A." of homogeneous Gehry designed buildings will drop a 14 acre architectural freak-show in the epicenter of America's most un-urban city. Joel Kotkin, planning guru, noted the space is not in response to resident need (there are no residents), not in response to market pressure (there is no market), and not in response to the city's auto-intensive lifestyle.

Really, what the hell is this mess?

Cities are organic, and yet they are inanimate. Gehry's architectural renderings, like those of every other pompous architect, shows people as well as buildings. As Jane Jacobs pointed out, cities grow in response to residents' needs, not the other way around. Unfortunately for Gehry, you can't just draw residents into your architectural fairy land and have it be so.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Bush Tapes

In 2003, the IAEA, the United Nations's nuclear watchdog, publicly announced that Iran was developing a clandestine nuclear program, thanks in part to information obtained from dissident groups exiled in Europe. Iran has denied the claim that it is working on an offensive nuclear weapon, and maintains that its research is for peaceful purposes only. Recent aggressive pronouncements by the Tehran regime would suggest otherwise, however, and the US has found itself scrambling to develop a containment policy. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has stated publicly that the US would use every available resource in order to defuse a possible nuclear stand-off with the Middle Eastern country located between Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has spoken repeatedly of a military "option" if Iran does not renounce all nuclear ambitions and submit to Security Council review. Yet, diplomacy continues and tensions remain high. Recently, The Darn News obtained a transcript of a telephone conversation between the two countries' leaders. The following is a record of that conversation, conducted on Thursday, April 20, 2006.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Hello?

George W. Bush, president of the United States: Hello, Mahmoud. George Bush here, of the United States of America.

MA: George, my main man! It’s been too long! What’s cracking, home slice?

GWB: Well, to be honest with you, Mahmoud, I’m calling ‘cause I’m a little concerned and …

MA: (sounds of loud music and laughter in the background) What? I didn’t catch that. Sorry, George, the music’s pretty loud here. Let me just close the door, OK my friend?

GWB: You go ahead, Mahmoud.

MA: (Pauses) There, that’s better. Sorry, broheim, but me and the guys were just having a party here at the palace and it can get a little bit crazy, let me tell you. (Laughs)

GWB: Ya’ll are havin’ a party down there? What’s the occasion?

MA: Oh, nothing special. It’s, um, Ahmed’s birthday. He’s 40. Yeah, big day for Ahmed, for sure. Anyway, what can I do for you, George?

GWB: Well, as I was saying, we’re all a little concerned about the recent developments in the news.

MA: Oh, totally. The Knicks want to re-sign Larry Brown as head coach? It’s like, Hello, do you even care about making the playoffs any more?

GWB: You know what I mean! I’m talking ‘bout your new-cu-ler ambitions. My country’s scared you’re gonna develop the bomb soon. Gettin’ pretty worried m’self, Mahmoud, I’m gonna admit. Heh, heh, heh.

MA: Oh, come on, man. Iran does not want a bomb; we just want nuclear power for peaceful energy purposes. Hey, even if I was really after a bomb, my country is still like five years away from building one, as far as you know.

(sound of door opening from outside and man’s voice shouting above party noise)

Man from party: Hey, Mahmoud! You’ve got to see this, my friend! Jafaari’s totally wasted and trying to ride the warhead!

MA: (yelling at partygoer) Shut the door, my friend! I’m on long distance here. (sound of door shutting) Oy, those guys have the worst timing.

GWB: What?

MA: Never mind. … So you see, George, you have nothing to worry about, dude. Take a chill pill with all this nuclear weapon stuff, OK?

GWB: Well, what about all those crazy things you’ve been saying recently about cuttin’ off the aggressor’s hand and wiping Israel off the map?

MA: What? You mean at Army Day? Come on, George, you know us. That’s just how we party, man. Army Day is harmless, just a bunch of marching and speeches about spreading the Islamic revolution to the rest of the world on the gleaming sword point of Mohammed. You would have liked it. Fall Out Boy played.

GWB: Yeah, well, what I don’t like is all this anti-Israel stuff, denying the Holocaust. You’re really scaring people, Mahmoud. They think you’re gonna launch a new-cu-ler strike against their country.

MA: Who, me? Launch a nuke against Israel? George, this is Big Mac you’re talking to here, my main man. First off, again, I don’t even know what you mean by this weapon bull jive. And second, I don’t hate Jews. I have no problem with Jews, man. I’m cool with everybody. My accountant’s Jewish, for Allah’s sake.

GWB: You’re telling me you have a Jewish accountant?

MA: Sure. You’ve met Gary: short guy, kinda bald, screwed up my refund on last year’s tax return. Remember? By the way, remind me to have his house burned to the ground.

GWB: There’s people here saying I should take you out, Mahmoud. They say you got a young population over there just waitin’ to overthrow an oppressive regime. See, I believe freedom is God’s gift to mankind. And these youngsters wanna see freedom on the march in the Middle East.

MA: We both know that’s not the case, home snack. Dude, my people don’t care about all that theoretical stuff. Just give them enough money so they can continue to buy the cool crap you Americans have, plus throw them a jihad every ten years and they’re happy with the status quo. My son watches beheadings on his IPod, for crying out loud. And besides, like I said, there’s no evidence we’re building a weapon.

(sound of door opening and loud music again filling the room)

Man’s voice: Broheim, what’s taking you so long? Hezbollah’s here and they brought Jell-O shots. Is it cool if they take a picture with the missile?

MA: (yelling at man) My friend, you are on my last nerve! I’ll be out in a minute, I already told you. (sound of door closing) And tell that fat ass Moqtada to stay off my trampoline unless he wants to buy me a new one!

MA: Look, George, I have to let you go, home snake. I have this party to get back to … for Ahmed, you know?

GWB: I understand, Mahmoud. I just wanted to call you and make sure we’re both on the same page. Because, you know, if it comes down to it, and I have to decide to use force I will. Because I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.

MA: Um, sure thing, George. …You know how dumb that sounds, right?

GWB: Just promise me, as a member of my Axis of Evil, you’ll limit your evil to strictly non-new-cu-ler activities, OK?

MA: My friend, I swear to you on the sanctity of the IAEA that Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon has ended.

GWB: I knew you’d see it my way, Mahmoud. I can’t wait to tell Dick about this. He’ll be so proud of me.

MA: Word to your mother. Hey – still on for golf this Sunday?

GWB: Heh, heh, heh. You got it, Big Mac.

MA: It was a pleasure as always, George. I’ll say hi to Qaddafi for you. Give my love to that infidel wife and those whoring prostitute daughters of yours. Peace in the Middle East, bro.
(Laughs) Just kidding!

GWB: (Laughs)

[End of phone transcript.]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rumor-Based Creation Entrances Rumor-Mongering, Third-World Society

Somewhere deep within the jungles of Malaysia a horde of hairy giants lurk unseen, stealthily eluding capture and keeping wildlife officials of the tropical southeastern Asian country on constant alert. But enough about the Armenian national basketball team's spring tour, let's talk Bigfoot.

A couple months back the government in Kuala Lumpur announced it was interested in apprehending one of the mythical monsters amid a spike in Bigfoot sightings; not for eating, as I erroneously first reported, but rather for scientific research ... and then probably eating. Naturally, biologists and other "experts" who rely on "facts" and "evidence" scoffed at the notion of an as-yet-undiscovered species of large ape inhabiting Malaysia, noting that a creature of Bigfoot's size could not possibly stay hidden for centuries. Well, guess what nerds: we got one!! Sure, the government's own Wildlife and National Parks Department denies capturing the beast; and, sure, there's no photographic record or actual proof to bolster the claim by locals that a baby Bigfoot was shot; and, sure, there would be no way for a third-party expert to actually examine the body if indeed they catch a specimen, but that's not important right now -- we finally killed a Yeti.

So, let's review. Bigfoot? Check. Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie super baby? Real. Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Umm.... Quick, somebody send the Malaysian forest patrol and a guy in a monkey suit over to Baghdad!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dirtbag, Party of One

Man. I was gonna let this one float through the transom untouched, honestly I was, but it's generated such heavy response over at the Times's Web site that I'd be remiss not to make fun of it.

Frank Bruni, the royal taster for the Old Gray Lady and author of books he'd rather you forget, takes up the pressing issue of unpressed shirts and baseball caps on his restaurant blog. The comments are a hoot! In a sociological twist, it appears the self-righteous jerks aren't the foodie snobs sneering at patrons not properly attired but rather those customers who refuse to yield to any dress recommendation/"code," no matter the restaurant or occasion.

This calls for a bit o' the old Canute-like wisdom from your humble blogger. Here's the deal: you can dress however you please at whatever eatery you choose, but show up to Per Se in a wife-beater and Hammer pants and I get to fart in your dinner. Sound fair? There's no rub like reciprocity, I'll tell ya.

Hooray For Boobies

It was reported that Hugh Hefner turned 80-years old on Sunday, so I guess now the American lexicon can more fully appreciate the expression “dirty old man.” Mr. Hefner was no doubt showered with gifts and tributes, followed by speeches and speechifying, for his entrĂ©e into octogenarian-hood and for all the good (but oh, so bad) work he has done on behalf of human sexuality. Consider: it was only 1953, a mere half century ago, when Playboy, the magazine Hefner dreamed of and founded, burst onto the publishing scene and stood athwart a Puritan society yelling Stop. He’s called the godfather of the sexual revolution. He’s called other things, too – visionary, businessman, and “boyfriend” to a revolving group of thoughtless young women paid to have sex with him. And he has had impact. It’s fair to say that every man reading this blog post, and many women as well, saw their first piece of pornography in the navel-stapled image of a Playboy bunny. Those of us who grew up under older brothers, and even some of us with equally messy dads, had Miss March and all her calendar girlfriends, it seemed, just an overturned mattress away. Hefner has slowed down considerably since then, placing operational control of his empire into the hands of Christie, his oldest daughter by his first wife, walking his mansion, viewing his film library, listening to music, and in general keeping up appearances on the set of his girlfriends’ fake reality series on the E! Channel, an eyes-wide-open look into the lives of three beautiful but irresponsible women and their quest to sleep till 11 o’clock in the morning. If he wasn’t obscenely well off, not to mention oversexed into his eighth decade, one could almost feel sympathy for a guy who genuinely appreciates the finer things in life trying to play Miles Davis for a group of girls more interested in J.Lo than jazz. But, having said all this, “Hef” has made a mark on the culture: the sexual revolution, if not started, then was influenced by, Playboy magazine; pornography is part of the American vocabulary, inter alia; and it’s time for Minerva’s owl to take wing and for the rest of us to look at where we are -- plus what, if anything, this all means.

Today, objections to pornography abound. Some decry the relaxing of community standards. Others call the business chauvinistic and exploitative. Many quote crime and violence statistics to support their claim that responsible censorship is in order. Women blame men; men blame women, after blaming themselves. The call to ban pornographic material is nothing new, as one can guess – why, even in Hef’s heyday the same concerns were raised and the usual figures trotted out. But now the surprise: after the free-wheeling and free-spending 1990s, the triumph of global capitalism, and the victory of limited government over the welfare state, the issue of pornography still hinges on that pesky and hidebound thing called culture. Computers and Internet access notwithstanding, the debate about pornography today has very little to do with privacy issues, instead focusing heavily on the relationship effects between men and women caused by a “pornified” world. The war of the “me” versus “we” it is now she against he.

The relationship issue is good strategy for liberal and conservative bedfellows because so many of the major indexes are against them. The 90’s brought about in the US a steady decline in the number of rapes, teen pregnancies, and sexual-related crimes that continues to this day. Abstinence is on the rise. Fewer teenagers report having unprotected sex than ever before. Thus, many commentators, stuck with the inconvenient truth, search for problems. The spanking new disease called pornography addiction is one of these. Feminists like Naomi Wolf and social conservatives such as Pat Buchanan have spoken out against online pornography for being too accessible, and therefore too tempting, for young men’s own good. These desiccated sex-zombies, we are told, view online porn up to ten hours a day in order to satisfy their cravings, forsaking the real world in favor of a virtual one where all their carnal desires are met. Ms. Wolf wrote such an article not long ago in which she spoke with a college-aged man about his daily porn habit. The man had been a good student, he explained, but his addiction to Internet porn was affecting his grades and straining relations with his girlfriend, a smart, pretty freshman he had been dating for several months. In short, this young man found the idea of jerking off in front of a computer more attractive than the soft embrace of a woman who actually cared about him. Unfortunately for Ms. Wolf and Patrick Buchanan, we have not discovered a new pathology so much as we have lowered our threshold for sickness: in the golden days of Playboy and other pornography accessible to most young men only through the occasional dirty magazine, a closet full of smut never revealed an addict suffering in silence -- it defined a loser in need of a date. We also have (though mostly from the conservative side, I’ll grant) an injunction against pornography for the harm it can cause women due to second-hand exposure. In 2006, even the dimmest among us can fully appreciate that this kind of neo-Victorian thinking is hopelessly retrograde and slightly offensive to the “fairer” sex. When the likes of writers like Matt Scully and the morally unimpeachable, never-did-a-bad-thing-in-his-life Chuck Colson posture as if women view porn as kryptonite, I wonder if they’ve ever actually talked to one. If the sexual revolution taught men anything, it merely illuminated, and did not discover, the female libido. Women enjoy pornography, yes, and denying this fact makes writers Scully and Colson look like half-baked prudes.

Any honest discussion of porn ought to properly concern us, not with simplistic psychobabble about addiction or chivalric pretense, but instead in what it means to be an adult, and more specifically a man in 2006. Say what you will about Hugh Hefner and his male-defined vision of sexual freedom; in his “Playboy Motto,” Hef spoke for the life of action, extolling men to better themselves in the hopes of one day living their boyhood fantasies. His was not a passive ideology: self-improvement, manners, the cultivation of a well-rounded personality, all were musts before that girl next door could be yours. The instant gratification that comes with so much explicit material today never asks this of you. Instead, men (and boys too) have been given all the benefits of a sexualized culture without any of the necessary trade-offs. Recently, VH1 aired the pilot episode of a show focusing on down-on-their-luck romantics called “Can’t Get a Date.” The television program involved a heavy dosage of self-improvement, character building, and honest, brutal reflection for the show’s male participant, a nice-looking young man who acted like a jerk every chance he got. At one point, the narrator, seeking to understand this 35-year-old’s prolonged solitude, asked him pointedly if he even liked women any more. His answer: “Of course I like women. I mean, I love women…. Isn’t that the point of this whole thing? Aren’t they the point in doing anything?” Indeed.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Porn: Fishing For Jokes Edition

The month of April announces its arrival with two of my favorite diversions: trout fishing and rude, childish pranks. April 1 is the start of fishing season in many states, New York included, even though several of these (New York, again) open some waterways year-round to anglers. The first of the month is also April Fools' Day, an important date for anyone who enjoys stuffing a friend's mailbox full of dog crap without actually appearing insane. Some classic April Fools' lines include: "I have a plan for the Democrats to win back the Congress"; "I'm late, and it's yours"; "Mr. Bonds, we all believe you"; "Freedom is on the march in the Middle East"; and "I love you." To sum up, this, plus this, plus this equals FUN!

Ah screw it. Here's a picture of some model's ass.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Straight Outta Congress

... Crazy motherf---er named Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, from the district called Georgia's 4th! (Sorry.) It seems McKinney -- who received a perfect "100" rating from Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Preservation of Batshit Conspiracy Theories, in 2002 -- has punched a Capitol Police officer in the chest or something. She was entering the Longworth Building, a House office building on Capitol Hill, when an officer stopped her and asked to see identification. At least that's the official story. The Hotline's blog remembers it just a lil' bit different.

The best summary of the incident can be found at The Hill, complete with a list of McKinney's greatest "hits." (Sorry.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Damn Aint it Good to be a Gangster

From post-war New York Harbor, Lady Liberty's torch welcomed hoardes of peasant Sicilians and Eastern Bloc refugees to the promise of America's great immigrant slums. The world's greatest meritocracy quickly enriched the most ambitious- as evidenced by the phonetically challenging names dotting mailboxes in the 'burbs (Scalia, Czolgosz, Pascocello). 50 years and 3 generations saw these families from poor immigrants to middle class; the uniquely American system of hard work and merit paying dividends for millions.

Fred Seigel is a believer in this system, and the cities historic primacy in making this system work. His book, "The Future Once Happened Here," documents how the hard-knock slums that raised so many to prosperity were abandoned by the political establishment. The potent mixture of liberal idealism and bankrupt urban leadership imposed high taxes, encouraged welfare, and blackmailed with the threat of riots and crime. The resultant, widespread urban disinvestment destroyed entire cities for a generation. Those left in the charred remains of the urban core adopted a new American system; a debilitating cycle of entitlement.

In the "Most E-mailed" column of the NYT is a column by Harvard professor Orlando Patterson. "A Poverty of the Mind" argues that today's black males don't succeed in school because academic success doesn't have the glitz and allure of gangster/baller life. An alternative path towards success seems to have taken hold, and Patterson argues that black male youth prefer it.

In the slums of Calcutta, students obsessively struggle with calculus by candle light, seeing math as the surest route out of misery and destitution. In America, a support structure based on entitlement has enabled a cost-benefit analysis of the most perverse nature. As we abandon our faith in our sysem as cruel, funny how others readily pick up the torch.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Return of Friday Porn, or "Ugh. Not Him Again."

St. Patrick's Day -- a minor holiday celebrating traditional Irish good cheer like funneling artificially-colored lager and abandoning your group of friends to vomit on a police horse -- has, sadly, come and gone (and left cab fare on the dresser). So what's an uncontrollable belligerent drunk to do for fun now? Drop acid and break into a Go-Kart track? Attend an Arquette family reunion? Get a twentysomething MTV producer to cast you on next season's "Real World"? I say go to spring break. College spring break is after all the only week-long event that can boast of some of this nation's dumbest students and Central America's most immoral street vendors. Plus there's nickel beers and those triple kisses with Sarah Lawrence co-eds, so that's pretty rad. Oh, and skip St. Tropez if you have visible bacne and nipples the size of laser discs. Trust me, they will not let you hear the end of it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Beards: Not Just For Sullen Loners Anymore

Ladies, have you noticed your boyfriend/personal cash machine sporting a little extra facial hair recently? His lack of personal hygiene might indicate a deepening sense of withdrawal from the outside world brought on by the twin stresses of work and relationships, manifesting itself in a diminishing interest in his physical appearance, and foreshadowing your future with him as one devoid of true emotional attachment, shared professional ambition, and hope. Then again, maybe he's just caught on to the latest trendy New York export: beards!

Yes, beards -- that strange, hair-like substance which clings to a guy's face on the weekends, when there's an excuse not to shave, a look beloved by both the homeless and street-walking mentally ill alike -- is now cool. The Times explains the new face fur explosion as a reaction to the metrosexual wave of a couple years ago. It seems straight men grew cold to the idea of resembling gay men almost identically. Strange. Now young professionals everywhere can don a look which screams, "Do not date me. I sleep at the bus station and probably carry a homemade knife."

From my own personal experience, I can tell you that wearing a beard, whether expertly trimmed, poorly groomed, or completely neglected, will get you laid only if: a) you are a model, b) you're rich, c) your last name is "Blitzer," or d) some combination of the above. And that's the news. Now go shave, hippie; you look terrible.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Venezuela Is For Lovers!

Hey, are you a left-wing Hollywood activist with a skewed sense of reality and a romantic attachment to the 1960s? How about a rich white kid with a notional affection for social justice and a readiness to be fooled? Or maybe you're just a prol defector who wishes to make amends with a Latin American dictatorship before his family is systematically disappeared?

Then beautiful Venezuela is the destination for you! Take the Times's word for it -- Hugo Chavez and his merry band of Bolivarian revolutionaries are waiting for your arrival, so act now.

(Note: Offer does not apply to capitalists, neo-liberals, imperialists, homosexuals, Pat Robertson, or anyone who reads the news.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Shoes

I said to Celanie the other night, as she trolled eBay looking for ivory earrings, "What could I even buy on eBay?" A brief discussion ensued, and I ended up buying new dress shoes at a completely different site, Because I really did need another pair of dress shoes.

I know that these shoes are sort of cheap, but I couldn't bring myself to buy something advertised as for "my collection." These replace one of my two pairs of work shoes, my old black ones, and now go with the remaining pair of Nunn Bush oxblood loafers, which I fondly thing of as my purple clogs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rock the Vote!

Rockstar Councilman Bill Peduto gotta read the writing on the wall this time: though it's easy to get a Senior poli-sci major to polish your knob in the bathroom at Doc's, it ain't easy to get her to vote. Bill Kraus, a successful Southside Flats businessman backed by Peduto, was edged out by City Councilman Elect Jeff Koch, a public works employee from Arlington. Koch, the party endorsed candidate, argued his experience painting curbs would add gravitas to future budget debates. Peduto rightly believed his candidate was more qualified; and staked his strategy on a good turnout of college students living in the district. Unfortunately for Peduto, a post-spring break Binger at Doug and Smitty's house supressed the student vote... and the Rockstar Councilman wasnt even invited!

The 8th and 14th districts, encompassing the towers and the South Oakland slums, turned out a total of 139 votes, or 4% of those cast. Those who fought for the right of Pitt's students to vote have egg all over their face on this one. The whole damned council race was postponed so that Pitt Students on spring break wouldnt miss the election. In an effort worthy of Rock the Vote's costly quadrennial voter-outreach boondoggles, music and food was provided to lure more students to the polls. At 139 votes total, the whole effort is embarrassing as hell.

Look at the bright side, Billy. You might never win Mayor on a tide of student discontent... but that sweet little blonde at the end of the bar is willing to take your mind off of that.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Friday Porn, Monday Edition

Last week's Friday Porn apparently drowned in Thursday night's slurry of cheap vodka and Carlo Rossi... I hope that my modest suggestion for this Monday's Hangover Porn will be a (blurry) sight for Dain's bloodshot eyes.


Friday, March 10, 2006

"...they want to send me back to the WOMB"

Roe v. Wade is a critical freedom for Americans, granting our citizens the right to drunken fornication without the eventual responsibility of parenthood. Collegiates no longer drop out of school, secretaries need not destroy their boss' marriages, young women no longer relegated to poverty- this is truly a critical right.

But what of those women who "choose life?" What of those situations where she does so against the will or desire of her mate? The courts say a man has no choice, in effect taking the Victorian concept of a man's financial responsibility for his family and turning it on it's head. In exchange for support of a household, the Victorian man ruled his stead as a potentate. Feminism rightly negated male soverignty, but conveniently left male financial responsibility in place. Such is the plight of a man today that his child can be born regardless of his opinion, that the mother can require he support that child, and she can impose such restrictions on him that his only contact with the child is his checkbook.

In the same way that the death penalty is an ineffective deterrant against murder, I doubt this looming threat is much of a deterrant from unbridled drunken sex in a dormitory stairwell (just take all the spunk out of my favorite webcam!). However, its a damned fair question to have answered. Not only is it a fair question for the man's checkbook, but as well for the child. Afterall, who wants to be born into a world with only a 50% approval rating?