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March 2, 2007

at the risk of giving glenn beck even more attention

Ordinarily, the awkward pause makes my skin crawl.  In real life, in movies -- my empathy factor is somewhere up around 11, and the result of me witnessing the awkward pause is to walk away, leave building, enter vehicle, drive quickly but urgently, etc.

However, I am more than willing to make an exception if the awkward pause is the result of general Glenn Beck assholery.

Remember, before CNN plopped him in his little TV talk show, Glenn Beck was a radio guy none of us had heard of.  Please alter your television news viewing habits accordingly.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:07 AM

March 1, 2007

hello, redacted, if that is in fact your name

This is now a very special day for me.  I got my first hate mail electronically-delivered scolding!  I'll reprint it here, so we can all read it!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: [REDACTED]
Date: Mar 1, 2007 12:08 PM
Subject: Are you serious?
To: titivil@titivil.com

Words can't express how annoyingly ignorant your blogs are.  I can feel the brain cells dieing one by one as I reach another line of your senseless ramblings.  This is my favorite...

"* North Korea pledges to denuclearize, intensify diplomacy
Wait, for how long has North Korea had nuclearized diplomacy exactly?"

Did you miss the comma between "denuclearize" and "intensify diplomacy"?  That means they are going to denuclearize and intensify their efforts in diplomacy, not "nuclearized diplomacy" you fucking moron.

Do you really fancy yourself as that witty?  God, I hope not, because if so, your blog is the longest running joke on yourself and you're to stupid to realize it.

Keep up the "great" commentary!

Perhaps the best response to this is one suggested by one of the proprietors of those blogs linked to the right.  Namely, "Oh man, I'm dieing over here!  That's to much."  Of course, responding with this might well inspire REDACTED to again wonder if I'm being serious.  So then, let's respond to the points.

First of all, REDACTED, my seriousness depends on circumstance, to tell the truth.  Sometimes, I'm serious.  For example, when I call an individual a "fucking moron", that's pretty much a clue that I'm being serious.  However, when I intentionally misread a bit of imprecisely worded language, I'm neither being serious nor unserious -- I'm being ironic, and not in an Alanis Morissette kind of way.  I'm purposely faking a viewpoint that is alien to my own for the purpose of making a point.  J.K. Fowler's "Modern English Usage" describes irony as this:

Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders’ incomprehension.

So, basically, you, REDACTED, are the first party, and it is your incomprehension that really fuels the rhetorical engine for making my point.  And what is my point?

Well, to answer another of your questions, I did not miss the comma between "denuclearize" and "intensify diplomacy".  In fact, it is the comma that's causing all the trouble.  From my recollection, the function of a comma is to items in a series.  Sometimes, the items are independent thoughts.  This is the intended use of the comma in the headline.  It separates the two actions that North Korea is planning -- denuclearizing, and intensifying diplomacy.  However, commas can also separate coordinate verbs.  For example, "I am terrified, petrified and frightened at the prospect of criticism."  If you read the headline under the assumption that the comma is functioning to separate coordinate verbs, then "diplomacy" becomes the object of "denuclearize", which is of course contrary to the intended meaning of the headline.

So basically the point of the irony was, or, the conclusion that the reader is supposed to come to after they realize that I am deliberately asserting an incorrect interpretation is, "Whoever fashioned this headline should perhaps work harder next time, for the sake of clarity."

In other words, yeah, it was just a joke, REDACTED.

And to answer your last question, I don't really "fancy myself that witty".  I mean, the one of the goals of this is to entertain people, and I do consider comedy as a pretty vital component of entertainment, but I would never pretend to be any good at it.  You know, I'm trying to get better at it every day, but I'm certainly aware of my limitations.  Like these:

* I switch rhetorical gears too quickly, sometimes befuddling the reader.
* I too often forego explanation of the news story I'm discussing, assuming (wrongfully) that everyone already knows about it.
* I'm an impulse buyer.  I have enough batteries already.
* I don't like wearing shoes.
* I weep uncontrollably when called "a fucking moron".
* I sometimes get my sarcasm in my irony, which is how I met my wife (she got her irony in her sarcasm -- hey!)
* I am one lazy, slack-ass motherfucker, though I blame the indie rock.

And there's plenty more where that came from.  So, no, I don't really fancy myself that witty, though I aspire to it.  So, your hopes have been answered, and if God hasn't got back to you yet, please tell him I said "Hi!" when he does.

But mostly, I just want to thank you for your correspondence, REDACTED.  It's always great to hear from a fan.  It really is the Best Letter Ever.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:44 PM

who can withstand n korea's path of diplomacy?

An eye-opener from the nice copy-editors who wrangle those Yahoo! headlines:
• North Korea pledges to denuclearize, intensify diplomacy

Wait, for how long has North Korea had nuclearized diplomacy exactly?  Suckas all afraid of Iran, and the best they can manage is normal old diplomatic diplomacy.  I hope they denuclearize their diplomacy soon, so I can sleep at night!

Further, if Yahoo! copy-editors are now allowed to make words up, I'd like to be one, please.

[Please consider this post my "in-yer-face" w/r/t the administration rediscovering (for the first time) engagement as a foreign affairs tactic.  I coulda devoted a couple hundred words to the topic (hey, a life preserver that's not an anvil!), but then I'd be competing with Henry Kissinger, and I don't wanna do that.  Dude met Mao.  Or something.]

Posted by mrbrent at 10:38 AM

February 28, 2007

obama throwback

This is a bit of random that may be a propos of nothing.  This morning I caught about forty-five seconds of an interview with Sen. Barack Obama on some NPR-ish radio show.  I think he was asked about his blackness (believe or not) or something.  But this is what I realized about Sen. Obama: this dude is retro.

He really does strike me as a throwback to a more thoughtful and stylish time, though I can't put my finger on the era -- Fifties?  Sixties?  First, you have the timbre of his voice, which, conversationally, somehow has the quality of a recording being played.  Second, you have his sentence structure and phrasing.  He not only speaks in the forbidden complete sentence, he also has a deliberation about him that implies, well, deliberation.  He not only comes off as smart, he comes off as conversational, in a University of Chicago way.  He is not reciting memorized phrases that have been drummed into him by advisors.  If anything, he's trying to remember phrases drummed into him and then rephrase them for context and clarity.  And finally, it's his look -- his haircut, the way his suit hangs on him.  He could just as easily be a guest on Murrow's "Person To Person", or on "The Dick Cavett Show".  (This last point could be unduly influenced by the photo of Sen. Obama smoking that Wonkette uses, as smoking was the universal sign of a good conversationalist, back in the day.)

I'm not trying to pick Sen. Obama for President or anything -- it's way too early for that.  I guess I'm just trying to quantify this electric charm that is much noted -- for me, he harkens back to a day when leaders (even the dickheads) were generally forthright and well-spoken.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:24 PM

February 27, 2007

hello roger ailes, you fat piece of destroying-america

I am currently in a location where a relation-by-marriage is watching Fox News in the other room.  LOUD.

You'da thunk that I might have watched some Fox News before, just to know of what everyone speaks, but I've always found the TV changer works exceptionally well once that shit is on.

It is unfathomably bad.  Not even just the story selection (you think a certain percentage of viewers don't have a 200 pound eight year old of their own?), the entire production value of the enterprise is engineered to strike a filling.  Everyone shouts, even when they are not shouting.

Nope, I'm not blogging right now -- I'm trying to look busy and keep the Fox News from laying its eggs in my brain.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:24 PM

iran stole my lunch money

Hey, I found out what Iran is planning to do next!  According to Newsweek, they are going to blow up New York.

I'm not sure where to begin to express my cynicism.  I guess this item of "news" is about the dumbest fucking thing I ever did hear.  And the fact that it comes from Newsweek, because, last I saw, Judith Miller doesn't draw a paycheck from them.

Bottom line: we're New Yorkers.  We're the big glaring target standing in for all you rocket scientists that are afeared the Arabs are gonna target your Wal-Mart.  Anyone looking to make a violent point (and we're talking about the bad guys still at large, not Iran, who has about zero incentive to do something like this, unless the Iranian Embassy has a lot of unpaid parking tickets I don't know about) does not care about your low low prices.  So if someone wants to whip up an anti-Iranian frenzy, I do wish that they would leave New York out of it.  We've heard it before.

If you really want your average American checking under their bed for Iranians, you'd have more luck forging a story about how Iran wants to start a NASCAR racing team, and then cheat.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:11 PM

our journalists can beat up your journalists

I awoke this morning to what surely must be the scoop of the year, courtesy of the tireless copy editors of Yahoo!:
• Senate, White House may clash over homeland security bill

It's hard-nosed, shoe-leather journalism like this that makes America great.  And, yes, if the Senate and the White House do indeed clash over the homeland security bill (WTF!?!), a Pulitzer, or, I guess, an e-Pulitzer, well may be in order.

Well done, Yahoo! copy editors.  Now please tell me what Iran did this time.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:21 AM

February 26, 2007

please run giuliani

You may have noticed a couple weeks ago the public conversation over whether Barack Obama was black enough.  This conversation was initiated, of course, by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  While Limbaugh and Beck may dubious choices as the Caretakers of Blackness, at least you can say that Limbaugh and Beck are the doughiest and most racist Caretakers of Blackness in all the world.

Before the conversation ramps up again with accusations that Obama can't rap and that Obama refuses to speak in grammatically incorrect sentences, I'd like to raise an issue of my own -- I wonder if Rudolph Giuliani is Italian enough?  In fact, I'd say that Giuliani acts so white that he may as well not be Italian.  Does he attend meetings wearing a track suit?  Is he comfortable with profanity?  Has anyone ever tasted his meatballs (or those of his legion of wives)?  In fact, which of his many wives have even tasted his meatballs, literally and figuratively?

And, as long as we're going there, I'm also concerned that Rudy may well be too nice-acting for assholes all over the country to vote for him.  In fact, will he alienate his natural asshole constituency if he keeps acting all nice guy for the cameras?

Posted by mrbrent at 3:22 PM

and what happened to philip seymour hoffman's hair?

Yes, I did half-watch the Oscars.  I went to take a nap after the opening monologue and then when I woke up, they were only getting to Best Supporting Actress.  Next year, in the interest of brevity, they should just screen each Best Picture nominee in its entirety.

This is the acceptance speech I would most like to hear:

Hey, thanks!

And this is the acceptance speech I would like to hear almost as much:

All you people out there in TV-land, please remember this: being an actor is not unlike being a plumber, except in the sense that sometimes, when the sink backs up, you call in 800 plumbers to compete for the job, and then make two or three of the best plumbers fix a different sink to see who is the best for the job.  And then there's the long green, of course.  But otherwise, both actors and plumbers provide a service, and, in the long run, would you rather see a movie or have your toilet unclogged?

Having said that, it's always an honor to be honored, so instead of boring you with a gushy explanation of my life's hopes and dreams, I just want to thank the Academy.  I did it for all the plumbers.

I will keep waiting.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:48 PM