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Archives for November, 2009

November 30, 2009

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #219

al in la

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.

ANti cap 219.jpg

Last week's results

Rules and tips


First Place
"Of course not, Mr. Bond, I expect you to dance."--TG Gibbon

Second Place
"We're making remarkable progress on our Pianos for Little Asian Prodigies Program. What basketball did for the ghettos, pianos will do for Shanti towns everywhere"-- RL

Honorable Mentions
"I'm glad there are no white keys here to see this."-- LV

In mother Russia, piano plays you!"-- Harry

"I like my pianos like I like my men: big, black, and hard ... and scattered randomly about my salon, passively waiting for me to play them."--J.D.

"More Cowbell."-- Pandyora

November 24, 2009

And to think people used to complain about CliffsNotes

Jesse Lansner

Some forms of satire get old quickly. The Facebook Haggadah was great. Barack Obama's Facebook Feed on Slate is generally amusing. Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook is a crime against literature, humor, satire and even Facebook itself. What's next? Rewriting classic literature in PowerPoint?

Worse, actually – Twitterature.

November 24, 2009

That's what she said

Jim Donahue

The Daily News ponders the root of the universe:


Given the phrasing of the question, I'd say it's a toss-up between the first two choices.

UPDATE: 24 hours later, and the Daily News' poll "Hardon" remains up. Someone should really call a doctor.

November 24, 2009

Smudge Report

Daniel Radosh
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show: The Rogue Warrior
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis
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November 23, 2009

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #218

Harry Effron

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.

Last week's results. •Rules and tips.


First Place:
"I hate jail." -- andy

Second Place:
"White people find jokes about the American judicial and penal system quite humorous." -- J. D.

Third Place:
"I don't fit in the bed. I haven't slept in years." -- Johnny B

Honorable Mention:
"Just let me know if you need some caulk." -- mypalmike

"Why is there a casket in here?" --David

Sucking up to the judge's ego award:
"The sexual assault and sodomy which can go on for hours here are obscene." --Steve_O

Runner up: "Yes, I, too, also prefer a bath. The showers here are obscene." --Tim H

November 22, 2009

Perhaps going after that ever-elusive Manson Family audience?

Jim Donahue

This banner ad keeps turning up on StatCounter as I obsessively check out how many hits my blog is(n't) getting:

Mansonesque 5.png

I guess my question is ... what the hell?

November 16, 2009

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #217

al in la

Cap contast 217.jpg

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.

Rules ands Tips

Last Week's Winners

"Look on the bright side. With all the tears of our laid-off colleagues, I created a great salt water pool."-- Richard H


"It's your wife's Today sponge. I'm going in to try to find my buddy's car keys."--gary

"I don't know who draws this shit, but my snorkel is gonna fill my lungs up with water, and you're wearing a double-breasted pullover. Totally fucking lame."--MAtt

(New category: Anti-Caps that shamelessly reference judges and/or contest.)

"For my next trick, I will judge last week's anti-caption contest! . . . Ha ha! Just kidding! That would be insane! I'm actually just going to dive into the piranha pool."--Joshua

I guess the jig is up. No, I'm not actually working for the Daily Show. I've been away from the blog working on my form to enter the diving competition at the Christian Olympics.-- The Confidence Man

"I'm sorry, but after I referenced Bob Dylan, my innards AND the Anti-Cap Contest in one sentence, I decided to end it all. Or, take a dip. Either way." --Tim H

"Last one in is an al in la!"--Kathy H

November 16, 2009

Radosh.net: "Waiting for Pitchfork to catch up since 2005"

Daniel Radosh

rubyblue.jpg It's official: Sleigh Bells is over... now that the band has been discovered by The New York Times.

"The band has already found an audience. For weeks now -- weeks! -- Sleigh Bells has generated blog fervor thanks to a handful of shows and demos. The band isn't even a dozen shows into its life span and it's already an Internet nano-phenomenon."

Well, it's true that some of your lesser music blogs have been buzzing about the Bells for weeks, but faithful readers of this site first heard about "dynamo" lead singer Alexis Krauss four years ago when I told you that the former RubyBlue singer was Huckapoo's vocal coach. (To save you the trouble of clicking that link, and since you probably didn't read that far into the post at the time, my comment was indeed, "Yes, Huckapoo has a vocal coach. Fuck you.")

Huckapoo in fact recorded two songs previously recorded by RubyBlue, and had no better luck in turning them into the hits they should have been. (That honor went to No Secrets.)

In other words, the whole time Huckapoo svengali Brian Lukow was trying to manufacture the next big music thing... the real next big music thing was quietly toiling behind the scenes and he never knew it. They should make a movie like that. Huckapoo can do the soundtrack.

November 16, 2009

That's what they get for opening a Blockbuster in a prison colony

dean @ t.a.m.s.y.

Australian author David Thorne finds a long way around DVD late fees.

November 16, 2009

Why not Bil Keane?

Daniel Radosh

November 14, 2009

Do E-books Dream of Rectangular Cover Art?

Jim Hanas

I've been working on preparing an e-book for publication for the last couple of weeks, and so I have e-book matters on the brain. For example: "Why do e-books have little rectangular covers that make them look like tiny paper books?" Almost all e-book sites represent titles this way. The literary world is adorable in its attachment to old forms, which is why (I think) the digital crisis took so long to fully arrive at publishing's door. These little rectangles make a certain amount of sense from a marketing perspective, I suppose, as publishers assure wary customers (and themselves) that it's just like a book, only digital. Still, native digital publishers will want to abandon this convention as soon as possible. The digital switch might have come late to publishing, but it is proceeding very, very quickly. What's on the way is what the advertising business has for years now been calling "platform agnosticism."

Lit snobs will turn their noses up at the mention of the ad racket--even as they bask in the sexy, retro cool of Mad Men--but the advertising business's strengths and weakness are instructive mirror images of publishing's. The good thing about the advertising business? It would jettison grandma in a second if her business model started to flag. The bad part? It thinks grandma (and everything else, for that matter) needs a business model to be worthwhile. Publishing, meanwhile, loves grandma maybe a little too much and is unwilling to let conventions change--thus these rectangular arrangements of pixels. But I could be biased.


I made the cover of my first e-book, Single, in the form of a 7" record because I thought it was funny. The music business was dying, so grafting something analog onto a digital product seemed right. I also liked how it evoked the DIY ethos that bands have always had, but which writers have often lacked. It was about hitting the road to find readers, and Single was the product I was giving away out of the back of the van.

So, for my new e-book--which I'm officially releasing on Monday--I'm continuing the metaphor.


I am a little concerned that this road I've gone down will cause people to think that my stories are more music-related than they actually are--they aren't, really--but I'm willing to take the risk. For me, it still points to the fact that packaging in a platform agnostic world can be completely flexible--freed from physical constraints and conventional expectations. And I'm glad I can provide at least a little relief from those tiny little rectangles.

November 14, 2009

The perfect alibi is now the perfect stocking stuffer!

dean @ t.a.m.s.y.

This holiday season, all the kids are asking Santa the same thing: WHERER MY I HOP?

Yes, it's the game that's thousands of hours of fun for the whole family, available now in bookstores everywhere-ish.

On a related note, has anyone seen my pancakes?

Christ, evidently Rodney Bradford isn't the only black person not at this IHOP. The whole freaking town apparently exists in a dystopian alternate reality where Strom Thurmond won. Or possibly just a New Yorker cartoon.

November 13, 2009

Texas: Still apparently a state

dean @ t.a.m.s.y.

Here I thought Fridays were supposed to be slow news days, and then I wake up to this bombshell:


Before I was like "Socialist America? Cha!" but if Drudge is now saying that a blog is now saying that the Republican governor of Texas who in April threatened secession while addressing a tea-party is now saying it's true, I'm all like "OMG IT'S TRUE!!!!"

More from the Statesman's blog:

The first part of Perry's remarks focused on what's called the Alien Transfer and Exit Program, something that he has been talking about for more than a week. Perry describes it as a plan where illegal immigrants who are captured in Arizona are sent to the small Texas town of Presidio and set free. It's a sign that the Obama administration is trying to punish Texas, Perry said...
At this point I got very excited, because, wow, unleashing hordes of violent sociopaths a.k.a. illegal immigrants on Main Street America, just to mess with the state that has specifically requested we not mess with it? What a hilarious plan! And so I'm thinking FINALLY Rahm Emmanuel is going all Atwater like we hired him for, perhaps driving around rural Texas in a stretch Hummer with a megaphone out the sunroof screaming Screw you, random citizens, Ari Gold's brother is in the house! or what have you.

But then I arrived tragically at the next paragraph, and it turns out Perry forgot to mention the part where, upon arriving in Presidio, the immigrants are loaded onto the buses from Children of Men and shipped back to their internment camp, Mexico. It's not even clear that they're given sufficient time to rape or pillage or steal jobs from Presidioians, i.e., what's the point here again? Anyway, at least we now know why Lou Dobbs felt compelled "to go beyond my role here" and leave CNN. I mean, these buses aren't going to drive themselves.

November 12, 2009

The New York Times became a fan of pointless self-censorship

Daniel Radosh

By now we're all too aware of newspapers hiding supposedly obscene words behind phrases like "barnyard epithet" and "salty language." But what to make of this New York Times story about a teenager who had the burglary charges against him dropped after proving that he'd been updating his Facebook status at the time?

The message on Rodney Bradford's Facebook page, posted at 11:49 a.m. on Oct. 17, asked where his pancakes were... At the time, the sentence, written in street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update -- meaningless to anyone besides Mr. Bradford.

Unprintable street slang for "Where are my pancakes?" The original version of the story, on a Times blog, was even more cryptic.

At the time, the sentence, written in indecipherable street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update -- words that were gobbledygook to anyone besides Mr. Bradford.

Fortunately, the Times web site posted a screengrab, allowing anyone to see that the actual post status update was "ON THE PHONE WITH THIS FAT CHICK......WHERER MY I HOP."

Alternate 1985 has some thoughts.

I'm not saying this is the most crystal-clear, easily understood expression imaginable, but "indecipherable street slang"? IHOP is a major chain with restaurants in all 50 states. Gimme a fuckin' break.

It's also funny--slash, troubling--that the Times translates "WHERER MY I HOP" as "Where's my pancakes" (as opposed to, say, "Where are my pancakes").The most innocent explanation is that the status update really was just completely incomprehensible to these people, and they couldn't even begin to understand that WHERER = WHERE'RE = WHERE ARE, and they either had to turn the R into an S in order to wrap their minds around it.

November 12, 2009

Smudge Report

Daniel Radosh
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Is Blackface Ever OK?
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Health Care: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
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Can't Get Queer From Here
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November 10, 2009

In a face-off between Internet dogs and sock puppets, who wins?

Jim Donahue

Amusing piece in Sunday's Times on the strange case of one Raphael Haim Golb, a story that combines an irresistible mixture of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Internet dogs, and sock puppets.

Golb is an NYU-educated lawyer who also holds a doctorate from Harvard in comparative lit (his dissertation, "The Problems of Privacy and Trust in Modern Literature, and their Relation to the Idea of Freedom" sounds like a laff riot). He's also a Dead Sea Scrolls nutter who went just a wee bit over the edge in defaming some rivals. From the Times:

Mr. Golb is 49 years old and had 50 e-mail aliases. He used pseudonyms to post on blogs. Under the name of a professor he was trying to undermine, prosecutors charged, Mr. Golb wrote a quasi confession to plagiarism and circulated it among students and officials at New York University.

His purpose, the Manhattan district attorney's office said, was "to influence and affect debate on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in order to harass Dead Sea Scrolls scholars who disagree with his viewpoint."

When you have more Internet aliases than years spent on Earth, you've got a problem. I wonder if he's a Method Internet troll. Do all 50 aliases have backstories? Does he keep biographical details about all of them on 3-by-5 index cards? It sounds exhausting. (I keep my fake identities to a more manageable 25 or so. Much easier.)

Jim Dwyer's Times piece goes on--and here we go deeper into Radosh.net territory:

In the classic 1993 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner, two dogs are perched in front of a computer screen. "On the Internet," one says to the other, "nobody knows you're a dog."

A quick search of the Times' Web site leads me to the conclusion that this is the first time that the oft-quoted New Yorker cartoon has been referenced in the Gray Lady's pages, which kind of surprises me.
In court papers filed last week, Mr. Golb's lawyers argued that prosecutors were trying to criminalize the commonplace. Both sides in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate, they said, use "sock puppets"--fake identities--on the Internet to make it seem as if scores of people are arguing a point.

"These bloggers marshaled their legion of sock puppets to engage in intellectual combat with the sock puppets allegedly created by Raphael Golb and others," the lawyers wrote.

OK, now we have Internet dogs and sock puppets! Truly, the only thing that would make this story perfect would be if Dwyer had gone for a trifecta with a reference to the Keyboard Cat.

The focus of Golb's sock puppetry was to defend the work of his father, Norman Golb, who has put forth some controversial theories on the scrolls. Back to Dwyer's Times story:

When he was arrested, Mr. Golb was asked by prosecutors if he wrote under the name "Charles Gadda," one of the most visible Internet advocates for his father. He would not answer directly.

"They would say that my father is doing it or asking me to do it," Mr. Golb said, according to court papers. "My father certainly never asked me to do anything of the kind."

But he allowed that "Charles Gadda" was doing pretty well. "Do you realize that the Charles Gadda articles have been read by thousands of people?" Mr. Golb continued. "I know that, because I look at them, it says on them."

On second thought, forget the Keyboard Cat. Defense by StatCounter is perfect as is.

November 9, 2009

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #216

Harry Effron

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.

Last week's results. •Rules and tips.

Caption jpg

It seems people are taking what I said last time a bit too seriously-- you are probably better off completely ignoring it. The anti-caption contest is almost impossible to explain, but I'll try again in the future. In the mean time, go to the above rules and tips link for some clarity. Good luck!

November 4, 2009

Yessss we can

Daniel Radosh

Laura Vandervoort as Lisa in ABC's V.jpg The first episode of the reimagined V was neither as bad nor as good as it could have been. I'm willing to give it a chance, though I'll keep my expectations low.

Sadly, perhaps the least compelling thing about it was the thinly veiled anti-Obamaism. I despise the birther-teabag nexis as much as anyone, but in the right hands their paranoid delusions could have made for very compelling science fiction.

Battlestar Galactica had a decided neocon bent for the first two seasons (before shifting organically along with the national mood) and that philosophical underpinning, which I obviously never shared, made it a much more interesting show. It spun political debate into human drama with deftness and honesty -- giving serious thought to the positions of all sides regardless of where it was going to end up and never hiding the flaws in its own leanings.

The difference between BSG and V, however, is that V's gloss on Obama isn't a philosophical underpinning at all. It's entirely superficial, with no detectable interest in exploring the ideas at stake. Universal healthcare is bad because.... well, because the aliens are offering it. Young people are driven to join the Obama Youth cult because... the lizard chicks are hot. The one possible exception is the show's exploration of media complicity in perpetuating the cult of personality, which is handled astutely if way too bluntly.

Between that unfulfilled promise and some truly awful dialogue, V eliminates itself from must-geek TV. Any chance we can expect more from The Prisoner?

November 3, 2009

Pinche Self-Censorship

Frank Koughan

The New York Times weird self-censorship - heavily documented over the years by Radosh.net 1.0 - goes international today, with an article about Mexicans' love of salty language.

The twist is that while the NYT's aversion to English-language swearing requires its writers avoid the actual word while describing it explicitly, the Mexico City bureau prints the vulgarities but declines to fully explain them. So while the Times will contort itself like David Blaine to avoid printing the word "fuck," there's chingar leaping out at us from page A8. The Times, being the Times, turns to the Royal Spanish Academy to inform us that chingar "is a derivative of the word 'to fight' but that in Mexico can be very offensive or very innocuous or virtually anything in between." "Anything in between" presumably includes its most common usage: to rape (though maybe 'force-fuck' would be more accurate; as in English, Spanish has a word for rape [violar] that is not itself a vulgarity). Chinga tu madre - "go rape your mother" - is something you would only say to someone you were prepared to fight to the death. Standards are a lot looser in Mexico, but sightings of chingar in respectable newspapers are still pretty rare.

Likewise, pinche:

One banner, a tame one, referred to Mr. Calderón as a "pinche ladrón," which can be translated as a "damn crook." Pinche, though, can also be a word with no negative connotation at all, meaning a cook's assistant.

Pinche can be translated as "damn," but is more commonly translated as "fucking." The Times doesn't even hint at this, but prints the word itself - a sight as jarring to a Mexican as "FUCKIN' YANKEES!" would have been on the front page of today's sports section.

And when Mexicans want to say "shit" - the exclamation, not the bodily excretion - they use a variant of chingar : chin. Nexis won't even calculate how many times the NYT has printed that one.

November 2, 2009

Man eating dog

Daniel Radosh

hot-dog-mustard-small[1].jpg A few days ago in the Wall Street Journal, novelist-turned-vegetarian activist Jonathan Safran Foer offered a modest proposal.

Despite the fact that it's perfectly legal in 44 states, eating "man's best friend" is as taboo as a man eating his best friend.... unlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten. Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually. The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.

It's an intriguing argument, and one that, for this reader at least, completely backfired. Foer's tongue-in-cheek argument against the dog-eating taboo is intentionally well-reasoned, designed to fail simply because the irrational taboo is so strong. His intended, as opposed to stated, goal is to persuade readers to adopt a similar taboo against eating any animals.

Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity. Responding to factory farming calls for a capacity to care that dwells beyond information.... And despite it being entirely reasonable, the case for eating dogs is likely repulsive to just about every reader of this paper. The instinct comes before our reason, and is more important.

The problem is, I am not a teenage girl who fetishizes my own "capacity to care" above all else. Do I put instinct before reason when it comes to not eating dogs. Sure. But just because I can't reason my way out of that, it doesn't follow that I should unreason my way into vegetarianism. (Besides, I can certainly envision trying dog were I traveling in Thailand or something. After all, I hate horse -- raw, no less -- in Japan.) Foer's satiric argument is much stronger than his genuine one.

Interestingly, Foer's satiric argument does include one genuine one that is persuasive.

This need not challenge our civility. We won't make them suffer any more than necessary. While it's widely believed that adrenaline makes dog meat taste better--hence the traditional methods of slaughter: hanging, boiling alive, beating to death--we can all agree that if we're going to eat them, we should kill them quickly and painlessly, right?... There is an overabundance of rational reasons to say no to factory-farmed meat: It is the No. 1 cause of global warming, it systematically forces tens of billions of animals to suffer in ways that would be illegal if they were dogs, it is a decisive factor in the development of swine and avian flus, and so on. And yet even most people who know these things still aren't inspired to order something else on the menu.

I know the point he's supposed to be making: banning cruelty and factory farming wouldn't be enough to get you to eat dog, so we shouldn't accept such half measures when it comes to killing and processing other animals. At least I think that's his point. It also seems possible that he's making a genuine case against factory farming as a stand-alone target, thereby muddying his case for vegetarianism -- in which case I'm totally with him. (I'm less sold on the environmentalism angle.) Just as I would want dogs to be humanely raised and killed, I do want the same for pigs and cows. And while it's true that I frequently fail to live up to my highest asperations here, I do make an effort to account for such things when buying food.

But even if I would eat dog, I'd still be a "selective carnivore" as Foer mockingly puts it. Unfortunately, though, when he tosses out, and dismisses, the supposed criteria selective carnivores use, he misses the one where I think ethics, rather than culture, actually can draw the line: sentience.

Although, confusingly, I mean the word the way it's used in sci-fi, connoting self-awareness, as opposed to the diluted definition preferred by the animal rights community, which has to do simply with ability to suffer.

November 2, 2009

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #215

al in la

anticap 214.jpg

"So we're agreed then, the winner of this sword fight takes home the little referee butt plug." --jf

"The winner, and still champion, is Nair for Men with Lanolin" --Rich Lather

"I've got a ten dollar bid, do I hear twelve dollars, I hear twelve dollars, twelve fifty, do I hear twelve fifty, I want twelve fifty, I have twelve, do I hear fifty, I don't have twelve fifty, how about twenty five for the pair......"--dwilk

"And there will be absolutely no kicking below the ankle."--Satireguy

"OK, gentlemen, despite your secret inclinations, no extended clutching or hugging. America needs it penchant for glorifying homosexuality cloaked in pujilistic aggression. Now, box!"--Jyce Cranston

"I brought a couple of giants - do you mind?"--JohnnyB

"Lllleet's get ready to Trrrriiiiiippppp"
"Let's get ready to trip!"
(disclaimer: I didn't like how the repeating letters appeared. Anyhow, apply a bronzer, coiffe your hair, and take 10 seconds to read this entry. Now, that's funny!) --Sarah

"Fusilli, you crazy bastard! How the hell are you?"
(I'm pretty sure this is the winner under the Harry criteria.)--Joshua

"And for my first trick, i will judge last week's contest!" --harry

(As selected by al in la )

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