Wednesday, June 18, 2008

South Park

Oprah's 'Minge' Pulling a Gun
Obviously, Comedy Central's long running animation series chronicling the absurd adventures of petulant and pithy pre-pubescents draws fire from Christian moms hellbent on playing God with the television listings.  My belief is that the show could realistically be found offensive by viewers not too far from the target demographic.  By design, the show goes beyond the established limits with a frequency that mocks the unwritten rules. But it's smart; and thanks to their up to the last second production schedule it is breathtakingly current.  So I am with Trey and Matt and whatever absurd narrative they cook up.  With that said, any TV critic or fan would be remiss not to note the dips in quality as the show is currently in its twelfth season.  Personally, I revel in thankfulness for the show's continued existence and remain a loyal viewer.  Plus, the new episodes air in a manner that makes them a hot commodity - which has a lot to do with the aforementioned timely subject matter.  Although, Comedy Central lacks the ability to actually develop new and sustainable content to replace South Park, so I am confident the show is safe.
Lazily, I will just expound on my point with one example.  The pictured screencap from a 2006 episode, entitled "A Million Little Fibers", shows the climactic scene where Oprah's 'minge' (vagina- for those less clear on what exactly is wielding that handgun) holds a group of torch-bearing Oprah audience members hostage.  I think it's reasonable to conclude that this could be genuinely inappropriate.  After all, Oprah is an inspiring, self-made, rags-to-riches billionaire with no credible vicious rumors or scandals to her name save the James Frey deceit to which this particular episode owes its inspiration.  I am posting to say that it is completely appropriate to so vividly depict Oprah's reproductive parts as characters with voices and personalities.  When someone gets as commercially massive as Oprah has and gains the influence that inevitably goes along with it, it is mandatory for someone (preferably smart someones like the South Park team) to tear them down and critique them from every angle.  In the name of democracy and free speech, the right is reserved for anyone to call them into question and make them human.  If something valid and revealing is suppressed based on going a little too far in the name of comedy and making a point, then the freewheeling spirit of the American brand of self-indulgence-cum-genius is dead and there is no point going any further.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


My new favorite author
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs bashed Amazon's budding eBook thingy - the Kindle - he proclaimed that "people don't read anymore" followed by neat-and-tidy PR-prepared grounding for his claim.  Could this one claim convince and disillusion me?  However good (or evil) a CEO Steve Jobs is, could he be right and unseat my long-held romantic notions of people striding into their late 20s seeking to rekindle (AHA! Amazon has been outpunned!) their love for literacy?

I guess it is appropriate that I introduced this post with the Kindle; a sad, monochromatic, half-loved apparent bestseller; which disappoints all geeks with its features as well as larger concept.  It could be the end of reading altogether, it could save literacy, or it could mysteriously be out of stock forever.  The fact that the future of books and reading could depend on this tan, 60s tech looking paperweight is not underwhelming.  I personally grew up on books and even then in the middle of the 90s, I felt like I was in a slim majority.  By now, electronic media proliferation has all but delivered the deathblow to the book.  Why read when you can Digg, Youtube, Sparknote, Porn, and Stumble your way through the night?  I think some quick estimating will point out that the number of people reading in the US (minus Oprah book club culties and discouraged high school students) is probably small.  But, reading is cool, damnit; and mighty useful too.  It helps your personal voice, spelling, grammar (although clearly not your use of semicolons), cultural awareness, and provides an escapist pastime that won't fry your nerves, optical and otherwise.  Best of all, reading makes you look smart and hopefully not pretentious (although if you go about reading in the name of looking smart you're a lost case anyway).  

On a more metaphysical level, books as a form of communication date back to ancient times and offer the only true window into the past.  We can't go forward into the future only relying on the primary source mediums made more convenient and attractive only as far back as one century.  Where documented film does not go (essentially before 1920), wonderful Hollywood takes us and brings along creative freedom, revisionist liberality, and some downright deceptions.  It may be overblown, but my fear is the children of the next century will hold veritable sentiments about non-truths like the presence of Civil War officers in Japan fighting alongside samurai or The Last King of Scotland or every Mel Gibson film in the last 10 years.  And when Mel Gibson controls the opinions and ideas of the majority- we are truly fucked.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Taco Bell

In the name of full-disclosure: this is a post-Katrina Taco Bell, but I think the principle impression remains.

Until two years ago, I was a lifelong resident of the great Keystone state, one of the oldest and resultantly least cultured commonwealths in the union.  Any kind of Latin American food was in short supply- we would have to take a Spanish class field trip to find an actual Mexican restaurant.

That brings me to Taco Bell- scourge of the fast food chains, peddlers of Grade F meat delivered in trash bags, one third of the Pepsico triumvirate of often conglomerated chow outlets, and veritable shithole- a dining establishment I craved with a cultish devotion.  And I wasn't alone.  My group of friends, while collectively in recognizance of the elementary grossness of the food, shared this sentiment.  Perhaps it was the fact that (after an unsightly cockroach infestation close our local branch) the nearest location was thirty minutes up the least-maintained highway under the jurisdiction of PennDOT that made the food of Taco Bell so tantalizing.  Whatever it was, we were lured by the toasty crunch of the less-than-Mexican "crunchy tacos" and the smushy comfort of a bean burrito and we didn't give a damn.  In comparison to the WASP-induced relative banality of the selection of fast food in Pennsylvania, Southern California is brimming with fast food options Mexican and otherwise.  Even with the added freshness and slight authenticity of the popular Chipotle or the experience-complete satisfaction of buying tacos from an actual Mexican taco stand, I sentimentally stand by the Bell.  

If you aren't lucky enough to live in the Socal/Southwest area thus having a nearby In-N-Out Burger, then all fast food is essentially garbage so you might as well enjoy the places you like.  Just as a general rule in corporate and capitalist America, if something seems too good to be true, then it is.  Cheap food comes with a price, and unless said grub comes from a do-gooding Christian family owned business (as In-N-Out is), then that usually means your short and long-term health. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


(note: not my tenth grade english teacher)

My tenth grade English teacher once told me, on the topic of free response essay questions (read: bull shit), "Aside from talking about dead pets, never ever make a case for the legalization of marijuana." 

I preface the maiden post of this blog with that anecdote because it highlights the main issue: no one talks about marijuana, at least in truthful and practical terms.  Personally, I bought the state-sponsored message delivered via D.A.R.E. and a local municipal doughnut consumer (I mean police officer).  Until my quavering hand brought the ceramic bowl to my mouth and that first hit was ignited one fateful snowy night in a forest by a local synagogue, I was essentially scared shitless about marijuana.  And why was this?  Because of some poorly rendered cartoon about the ills of drug use- in which joints were equated with transcendent magnitude and addictive power of such heavy-hitters as heroin, cocaine, and crack-cocaine.  So, on to the facts. One, marijuana isn't addictive.  Science has proven this to be true and besides, with only positive side effects and no lethal potency at any level- marijuana users continue use for one simple reason- they are alive and functioning.  To keep things simple and internet-attention-span friendly, let's just compare marijuana with legal drugs the government allows the sale of.  

Alcohol: is addictive, impairs judgment/ability to operate machinery, makes you angry, leads to compromise of willpower (i.e. rape), destroys the liver, can cause nausea and vomiting, potently kills brain cells, and makes you smell like a old man's liquor cabinet.  

Tobacco: is addictive (oh, again?), destroys your lungs, costs more per day than marijuana, ruins your teeth, ruins your breath, makes you a pariah in the ever-enlarging smoke-free American metropoli, and lines the pockets of fat white men in smoke-filled rooms of the bible belt.

Marijuana: is not addictive, can be vaporized/baked/brewed for lung concerns, makes you mellow and happy, is cheap (and the government could make a killing selling it), organic, treats pain in cancer and glaucoma patients.

Hopefully, the trend of California's progressive legislation trickling across the country will continue in the case of Proposition 215 aka the Compassionate Use Act.  In the meantime, I will be here readily available to out-debate Reagan groupies and Above the Influence Christian moms so the rest of you can go about your lives peacefully.