Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In my quest to determine my favorite horror films, it’s become increasingly clear that I have no idea what constitutes horror. Don’t Look Now? Hour of the Wolf? The Shout? Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic Rosemary’s Baby seemed like a no-brainer to me, but rewatching, it’s slightly scarier than Bride of Frankenstein, and it’s not as suspenseful as it is atmospherically creepy. But Halloween iconography abounds, and as last girls go, Rosemary ranks with the best, only her villain isn’t some lunatic slasher or bloodthirsty monster. It’s the patriarchy.
Polanski, of course, is the natural choice to direct this story of a woman’s infantilization at the hands of a monolithic, male-dominated society, since you could describe nearly any of his films as a feminist exploration of gender and power dynamics. Here we see women consigned to cooking, cleaning, gardening, knitting, and jewelry; men dismissive, intimidating, and complicit in the maintenance of the patriarchal authority establishment; Rosemary (Mia Farrow as a bubblegum-voiced doll) slowly deprived of control over everything up to and including her own body; and Rosemary herself an internalized agent of her own submission, rationalizing her gaunt demeanor and siding with the patriarchal party line on abortion in the face of unbearable (and indeed demonic) pain: “It’s like a wire inside me getting tighter and tighter,” she tells her friends after an excruciating spell, to which her male doctor advises her to pop an aspirin and stop filling her silly little head with ideas from books. The tightening in her belly keeps her from noticing the tightening all around her.
She’s not a typical last girl, although her friends are dropping like flies, but she’s certainly a heroine we can root for, rebelling in her own subtle ways and eventually physically escaping the Yellow Wallpaper confinement of her apartment and social circle. Polanski isn’t as big on the scares here as in Repulsion or The Tenant, but he’s a master of creeping dread—note the camera’s paranoid darting, the grotesque closeups, the soundtrack brimming with odd background occurrences, and, of course, the spectacular dream sequences that build a bridge from Bunuel and Bergman to Roeg and Skolimowski. In fact, Rosemary’s Baby is as full of the trappings of horror as it could plausibly be, with an archetypal villain, cannibal legends, suspicious deaths, butcher’s knives, black cats, creepy lullabies, “Für Elise,” a historical high society group with a secret, and Ruth Gordon ghoulishly floating around the apartment with claws outstretched. It's a pumpkin away from being your one-stop Halloween shop.
The key to the film’s meaning (and creepiness) is the way politeness, etiquette, and nonconfrontation force Rosemary into submission right through to that 1984-style ending. She becomes, in a way, the principal agent of her own subjugation because she’s so good at that feminine stereotype of making things run smoothly by appeasing everyone. It’s an insidious instrument of evil, Polanski argues, failing to stand up for yourself. Not that it will save you, necessarily, but liberation has to start somewhere.
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Friday, October 22, 2010
To say Red is a movie for the elderly is an insult to the elderly. Despite a few chuckles—finally, a movie for John Malkovich’s deliberate flamboyance—Red is mostly embarrassing. We root for Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman simply to survive each scene with some dignity; neither makes it out alive. It’s your typical ex-mercenary flick (which is to say, events transpire that pull them back into the biz) crossed with patronizing appeals to the power of the Old (think late Eastwood with less subtlety). If you’ve never seen a movie before, it’ll be really fun and exciting.
It’s equally sad that it kind of sort of half-heartedly wants to say something, like—you guessed it!—age has its own advantages, which is all very undercooked, and there’s a moment when we’re supposed to be in awe of Bruce Willis’ government-toppling history when all my bleeding heart wanted was an independent tribunal. Red really has it in for war criminal Dick Cheney, and it’s only two years too late to score topicality points; to be fair, it’s not comfortable driving more than ten miles under the speed limit. For the turn-your-brain-off set, Karl Urban rocks a nice suit (and I suppose Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren do it for rest of you). There’s plenty of action and lots of failed jokes, none of it very athletic since our heroes are AARP members, but director Robert Schwentke finds a few fun ways to spice up the standing-still-shooting-guns fight sequences. Which is the most I can say for this prosaic waste of talent. Red: Are you sure you wouldn’t rather watch Salt again?
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Thursday, October 21, 2010
[Spoilers for Mad Men through episode 4.13, "Tomorrowland."]
The "Draper" marriage has been Mad Men's primary indicator of America's stability and happiness. By the 1960s, it was all happy memories built on unacknowledged lies, you know, like equality and opportunity. In 1963, it got assassinated live on television. And now, two years later, the coffin is sealed shut and lying in a burial plot, the Drapers and their country seeking better alternatives to the way things have been, though their respective solutions (Henry Francis and Megan TheSecretary) are far from perfect. They stand there in the kitchen one last time before selling the site of their memories. "Things aren't perfect," Betty says. "It's okay, Betty," replies Don.
November 1960: Don has a lovely fantasy that he arrives home just in time to accompany his disappointed wife and doting kids to her father's for Thanksgiving. But it's a fantasy of a happy home, because when he actually walks in the door, they've already left, and he sits on the stairs, alone with his secrets.
October 1962: Betty tentatively brings Don back into her life after a spell apart on account of Don's magnetic penis. After sitting together awkwardly on the couch while the kids watch their show, Betty invites Don to a Serious Conversation wherein she reveals she's pregnant. His silence is reaction enough. This baby will not save this marriage. It's only a matter of time.
December 1963: Don calls Betty on the first official day of business for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to tell her where he'll be working and that he won't make trouble for her in the divorce proceedings. She melts, her steely pissed-offedness at her husband's tremendous neglect and abuse (a few nights prior, he physically dragged her out of bed, shook her, and called the chaste-to-a-fault mother of his children a whore) evaporating in an instant. It's enough that she can summon a word of thanks and a consolation: "You'll always be their father." They hang up, but both seem relieved. Their long nuptial nightmare is over.
September 1965: Betty's finally moving out of the Ossining home she shared with Don. She's also finally realizing her marriage to Henry Francis was a lateral move, and it did nothing to heal her wounds. So she adjusts her makeup for her "accidental" run-in with her ex-husband, and the two share a cup of wine, even smiling at each other, conversing like old friends. Until Don drops the ring bomb. Betty, mastress of keeping it all hidden beneath a practiced smile, can't even look him in the eyes as she engages in the required pleasantries. She knows she has to say the words, but she can't perform like she usually does, and Don lets her off the hook, abandoning all pretense and acknowledging what they'd otherwise keep unsaid. "It's okay, Betty." It's enough to let her recover. She hands him her house key, and they walk out opposite doors, leaving an empty house with only his wine bottle and her cup.
Since Don telecommutes for Season 3, every season's final Don-Betty scene (in a way, the final scenes period, though Season 3 tops it off with a montage and Season 4 a quick glimpse at Don and Megan's new life) takes place in that Ossining kitchen, a place of ostensible nourishment that has seen as much fighting as eating. But Don getting married and selling the house finally puts that marriage, that is, the old regime, to bed. The late '60s are just around the corner.
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Monday, October 18, 2010
When I'm not carving topical jack-o-lanterns and funding my dentist's third home, I treat Halloween as an opportunity to catch up with the horror greats I spent my adolescence cowering from (thanks to vividly traumatic childhood experiences with The Shining and The Exorcist that may or may not have involved pants-peeing). No longer new to these parts, my map says scaremeisters Bava and Fulci are in the fog up ahead as I run screaming and unarmed from the well acquainted monsters of Argento and Romero. But my most recent detour brought me to the doorstep of the mindless butcher Leatherface in one of the scariest horror films I've ever seen. Somehow I survived the breathtaking nihilism of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 slasher template The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Like Night of the Living Dead (but perhaps more schlockily evocative of Russ Meyer or Monte Hellman), the first thing you notice about TCSM is the lo-fi creative beauty: camera flashes illuminate the black as we hear shoveling and the knock of wood, sumptuous colors and oblique angles invite us to Leatherface’s house for dinner, and quick cuts and zooms augment the terror of the attacks. In the opening, the radio blares reports of widespread grave-robbing and dismembering as we see two corpses artfully tied to a monument. This does not bode well for the vacuous children of Vietnam that pick up a creepy hitchhiker in their Mystery Machine just outside the cemetery. Sure enough, they’re soon marching single-file right into Leatherface’s lumbering arms, no students of history, these heroic happy dead.
But it’s wrong to say The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is nihilistic, because it ferociously reveals its amoral monster for what he is; he can't be wrong if there is no right. Leatherface, not the film, is nihilistic. Industrialization, institutional power, the draft—that’s nihilistic. In 1974, Nixon resigned from the highest office in America in order to escape brutal impeachment—peace with honor, eh?—and America continued funding a war it had just signed peace accords to end. To Leatherface, we the people are mere bodies for sustenance, the micro version of a global politics fueled by violence. You’re darn right the third act is disgustingly exploitative (and I found it literally nauseating). How else do you describe a violent superpower?
That’s why I found the final, sudden cut-to-black somewhat puzzling—on the one hand, I question the ending’s thematic plausibility, but on the other, the future is very much uncertain. Whatever happens to anyone else, Leatherface rages on, dancing with his chainsaw while the sheriff lies incapacitated and the citizens offer the head cheese. No wonder the remake came in 2003.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010
Hidden in a scooplet on The Hunger Games’ commercial success and film adaptations, Entertainment Weekly mentions that the books disguise “an antiwar message” inside all the dystopian bloodshed and absorbing romantic dilemmas. Which, if banal, is at least theme-adjacent, so good for them!, but the series to this point is disappointingly NOT antiwar, despite a red herring of nonviolent resistance throughout Suzanne Collins’ middle novel Catching Fire. What it is is a lot more complex and subversive than that.
If you’re like me, you might be disturbed by this statistic that shows the only two institutions in which Americans report rising trust over the past forty years are the military and the police. Catching Fire deploys military police to occupy a country, expands the surveillance state of the first book, and further diminishes the concept of free speech. It’s not a complete representation of America—lacking a corporate infrastructure, discriminated minority groups, and sexting—but it’s enough to tackle our most pressing and basic “issue”: the violent expression of a superpower’s will.
Catching Fire builds on The Hunger Games’ state of nature into a quasi-mercantilist economy between colonies and an empire, i.e. the evolution of government. The government of Panem, in response to a failed revolution 75 years ago, is now totalitarian, with an intricately planned economy and an illiberal approach to human rights. It’s hyperbolic as an expression of 2010 America, but Catching Fire remains fiercely devoted to the concept of an overpowerful state as a nominal protection racket.
Yes, Catching Fire is also an adolescent coming-of-age (although the concept is somewhat irrelevant given this particular dehumanizing dystopia), so our heroine Katniss further confuses her feelings for her gentleman callers, which, again, is the most involving teen romance I’ve read given the social, political, and ontological dimensions of the various romances. Plenty of blood is spilled, but Collins never interrogates the rectitude of defensive violence. The more damning problem, though, is that Katniss is infuriatingly slow on the uptake, so you’ll be way ahead of her waiting hundreds of pages for a eureka that doesn’t come until the requisite Dumbledore-explains-it-all sequence. So much brims behind the scenes that there’s surely something to surprise you, but by then you've already lost your voice screaming at our heroine.
That said, triply depriving our protagonist of agency is the natural expression of the novel’s ideas, and it’s not like she’s a completely passive hero; she still acts of her own free will to her own ends, just within the parameters of the geopolitical games at play, and while she had no major moral dilemmas in The Hunger Games, this time out she’s inexorably resigned to violent intentions from the get-go. Collins is a straightforward writer who could up the humor and scale back the attempts at dramatic irony, but as a gamemaster, she knows exactly what she’s doing.
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Friday, October 15, 2010
Elephant in the peacock: 30 Rock is my favorite comedy on the air and one of the best in production, an element of my character you (and China, newborns, and the aliens of Gliese 581-g) have likely discerned. It sounds like faint praise considering all the greats on hiatus (The Thick of It, Parks and Recreation, Archer, Louie), but 30 Rock is the best show the “critical” protection racket tends to shred. Fine—all those Emmys force it into a higher tax bracket unlike that absurdity of a once-great kitchen-sink comedy The Office and the pointless but funny and comforting distraction Community. Unsurprisingly, 30 Rock also mounted the most ambitious gimmick tonight, the live episode, while Community went with another genre “parody” and The Office went with a parade of past guests. Must-see TV?
I was rooting for the Russians on tonight’s Community, a space movie riff that lacked in satirical precision what it more than made up for in unearned characterization. And what was the point? At least in “Modern Warfare” you could argue that Community had (for some reason) assumed the mantle of exposing action film clichés; “Basic Rocket Science” just sorta cannibalized The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, Alien, and more because it, you know, could, and only the opening was especially expert. But was it funny, the lazy ask. Not really, but that’s just because this group has a high batting average; there were still a handful of good ones like the Dean’s map and, I assume, other jokes that I can’t recall.
Let’s skip ahead to The Office, because the middle of the trilogy is always darkest. What is there even to say? Steve Carell’s checked out, nobody’s believable, and the plots have nothing to do with 1) office life, 2) the office as a family, 3) the economic climate of the here and now, 4) funny people waiting out the clock, or 5) anything recognizable as real life. Setting up the return of Holly? I can't wait to drag that fond memory through the dreck that The Office is now content to be, a quasi-“romantic” “comedy” riding the crest of capitalist inertia.
Live from New York, however, came a magnetic pair of 30 Rocks, likely the weirdest, roughest episode of a show that depends on being quick, slick, and scattershot, yet nevertheless a funny, postmodern, and intrinsically 30 Rock show. The translation of this single-camera cartoon to a multicamera live format committed the grave crime of not being perfect—the live poster mishap pales next to the continuity gag from last season, and the audience was clearly hopped up on the goofballs—but director Beth McCarthy Miller made us feel at home with swinging cameras for the cutaways, bolstered by the surprise of Julia-Louis Dreyfus as a damn good Liz Lemon and Garrett Neff as a damn fine Jack Donaghy. Other highlights: the sung credit sequence; consummate performer Jane Krakowski, who had some of the best cracks (the topical stuff, the Irene Ryan joke, “Welcome back to Fox News. I’m blonde”); the commercials, esp. Drew’s west coast ad; the return of Rachel Dratch’s monopoly on hysterical working class immigrants.
Best of all, the live show is another trope under 30 Rock’s belt, not a gimmick for gimmick’s sake (though there’s that, and judging by the media coverage, it worked) but a simultaneously hypermeta and sincere stab at a television staple. Season 5 has been addressing the
My vision for the future of 30 Rock: when it’s a season or two out, actors ready to jump ship, we change course dramatically. TGS is canceled, but Jack guides Liz in the development of her own sitcom, not a live sketch show but a fictionalized half-hour version of working at a sketch show. She’s to play herself (remember, she was once an actress represented by Suzanne’s B+ Talent), and Jenna and Tracy get cast in supporting roles. 30 Rock then follows its Tina Fey’s version of 30 Rock. Hopefully we follow this for at least a season, but I guess it could work for a finale. Royalties, please!
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Sunday, October 10, 2010
You practically need Asperger’s to cut through the irrelevant pop-ups loudly obscuring David Fincher’s The Social Network, the erstwhile Facebook film turned sight-restoring cinemessiah. It’s misogynistic, racist, and homophobic, sing the delirious quota choir. It’s deeper than Kane, better than Network, bigger than Jesus, shout the blurb-whores. That’s not what happened, spit the eternal point-missers. Should we tell them it’s a movie?
The Social Network may not be Citizen Kane, but it ever-so-demurely calls attention to what a formal marvel it is, biting its lip and looking down just in time to play bashful at your compliments. The code: start with a deep, compelling performance of a puzzling antihero (a wildly successful Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook's creator Mark Zuckerberg). Keep it simple, archetypal. For the coding scene, cue the math rock. For the regatta, the tight focus of tilt-shift. For the club, swoop over yet another party Mark benches and hit the seductive lighting, the better, Justin Timberlake smiles, to hear you with, my dear. Up the degree of difficulty with a seamless digital face transplant. Don’t hold back on the montages; this is about networking, after all. Masterpieces require centuries of interpretation, so dispute your own presentation (preferably invoking Rashomon), and voila: a delicately crafted monument, a colossus apart from the city, an objet d’art so blindingly beautiful you genuflect before the docent even takes your camera.
But what does it all mean, you shout at the silent silhouettes cavorting across the wall of the cave.
Haven’t you heard? It’s a portrait of loneliness, isolation in an age of ostensible global connection. It’s a titanic character study of a figure who, like it or not, is surprising enough not to fit in any boxes. It’s an age-old mythic rise to power and a postmodern treatise on truthlessness and a coming-of-age in the Internet age. Indeed, my good gaggle, The Social Network is a veritable chimera.
The more telling question is how interesting its cognitions and creative its translations. The essential premise—the loneliness bit—is corroborated by this micro majesty in the character of Mark Zuckerberg, our god-filter through which everyone else fades to mere type (the saint, the grifter, privilege personified), not that these husks are intractable. Fincher never misses an opportunity to juxtapose Mark the individual and the social gatherings that are his ostensible raison d’etre. But this interpretation is as obvious as it is easily rebutted: consider the reasons everyone goes home alone—Facebook has nothing to do with it. In fact, Zuck's Harvard hotornot Facemash brings people together; its problem is unfeeling obliviousness (“That’s my roommate”). Which brings us full circle. Mark’s not an asshole (nor is he trying so hard to be, whatever that means). He’s a kid. His hamartia is immaturity, the unchallenged narcissism of not realizing other people exist (which is to say, being an adult). He’s a man alone, yes, but through no consequence of social networking. Play 'er off, Larry Summers.
The stronger case resting on Mark’s youthful (which is not to say immutably millennial, no matter what "generation" "scientists" say) narcissism is the film’s conception of a world increasingly dominated by juvenilia. There is Summers framing the Winklevi as little kids telling on their peer to an adult, yes, and entitlement pervades every alienated pore of this particular American dream where everyone's looking for a status update, but there’s also the deposition’s running gag of babysitters waiting out a tantrum, taking a breath, and returning to grownup talk. By the end, we have a powerful corporation, one that not for nothing yields the world’s youngest billionaire (though I’ve got 17 months and a college degree, so watch out, mothazucka), run entirely by youngins. The office is a cross between a rave and a LAN party, the business cards are a puerile joke, the interns never knew a world without Internet. Hence the antics at the film’s staggering emotional climax. If this were your typical corporate battle film, say, Wall Street 2, you can be damn sure the heart-wrenching showdown would not be intercut with Dick-in-a-Box mugging and lines like “Seriously, what’s with the chicken?” Even our beloved angel Eduardo admits that his escalation was childish. It's all, as Mark Zuckerblogs, kids’ stuff.
This strikes me as not only relevant but urgent in these antihumanist times. The Social Network is a god-damn chapel ceiling, there’s no question, and maybe it’s a bit too tidy despite protesting its own record, and its obvious readings remain unmoving, but it’s got some honest to goodness trenchancy in its estimation of the imperial Internet pedocracy; join or die. So what if Fincher can’t resist framing the finale as an ironic inversion of It’s a Wonderful Life? Mark’s growing up; there’s hope for all of us, no matter how old.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Since misogyny training is pretty low on my list of expectations from a fantasy series (somewhere between sparkles and abstinence), Stephenie Meyer was not the best blurb-whore for The Hunger Games, which it turns out is neatly feminist until it trips over itself denying the heroine romantic feelings of any kind, not that there’s anything wrong with that. His Dark Materials is the only young adult series I’ve read with a female protagonist, so Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen was kind of a trailblazer for me, a rich lead who not only isn’t a simple love interest but has no interest in boiz, period, gross! In fact, the novel ends with her adamantly buying into the lie of her asexuality despite two fine, young gentleman callers, but I get ahead of myself, and apparently so does Collins, because why tell a story in one book when you can triple your money with a series?
This love triangle is Katniss’ only moral dilemma in the book (and by the end it’s really no contest for us readers), since all her other problems are solved by accident, instinct, or other actors, and this is a story that's less Pride and Prejudice and more Battle Royale. As stylistic choices to reflect a character’s social captivity go, this one smells like teen fanfiction. Predictability doesn’t help either, and while Joseph Campbell spoiled every young adult series to infinity and beyond, The Hunger Games is especially trussed down. But everything in The Hunger Games is basic. It has to be. We have two more books to fill.
Which would be infuriating if not for two facts. The first is that I couldn’t put it down. Part of that is because I was hoping The Hunger Games would address more of its intoxicating political philosophy in this book, which at least scintillates in its introduction here, but part is the fleet plot, which contains some genuinely moving moments, enough intrigue to keep you hooked, and, unlike Harry Potter, an absorbing romance angle that makes for an exciting cliffhanger, despite said cliffhanger outing the novel as less a work with artistic unity and integrity than a commercial vehicle to teach kids about capitalist exploitation.
The second is that The Hunger Games is Political Philosophy For Kidz. This is a world all about people with guns consolidating power, forcing people without guns to extract their resources and deliver them with a smile. The Hunger Games literalizes the state of nature twice, the second time comprising most of the book. Add some surveillance state paranoia and you’ve got what could be a hard look at America today, although their method of maintaining proletariat subservience (annually televising the murders of 23 children) is somewhat less subtle than ours (the myth of social mobility).
The subversion excites me most. It’s all couched in this really old hat critique of reality television—still meaningful in these vehemently antihumanist times, but not especially novel in concept or execution—but it looks like a ruse to dive deeper into this exploration of government and power and liberty that’s really quite evocative. But again, I can't be sure, because Book One is rather upfront about its series-starting-ness. It probably wouldn't bother me so much if The Hunger Games weren't asking me to meet it in the corner to talk about how the man is exploiting us all; if the story in the book weren't precisely about The System, it wouldn't grate so much that the book itself feeds The System and then makes me complicit. Tomorrow I buy Book Two. What's worse, I can't wait.
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Monday, October 4, 2010
[Originally published by the New York Times, no big.]
Ten year-olds, am I right? Who do they think they are? Generation Z, so-named not for the obvious reasons of their subsequence to Generations X and Y but for their coming-of-age at the end of the world amid what the Mayas predicted would be a “colossal fuckin zombie apocalypse,” a prediction later corroborated by Dr. No Stradamus under the alias Shel Silverstein, are increasingly self-involved little twerps, studies show.
The generational regression has been a fact of life ever since The Greatest Generation ™ forged eternal peace from violence and singlehandedly cured blindness and blackness wherever they were deployed to fight the swishy menace. But recent generations are failing every barometer for success. Generation Z self-report an average age that is a whole 18 years lower than that of Generation Y, a drop that could prove precarious for anyone looking to these intellectual toddlers to lead the world into the future.
Professor Dr. Sr. Lecturer and Bieber Fellow Pastor Alvin Toombs says, “These kids today with their iDoodles and e-Wangs are fundamentally different from their progenitals. Where millennials are at least looking for employment, Generation Z are overwhelmingly sucking off the teat of the system. Is it hot in here?”
Generation studies is a rising field of social science that requires less education than the ability to count years, though that can be worked around, and the twin passions for romanticizing the past and judging the conformist heirs you and your god-damn society cultivated. Cognitive dissonance helps, too.
Generation scholars who excel in arithmetic understand the 18-year windows that somewhat arbitrarily divide cohorts, you know, like skin color and race, while the other generation scientists come up with fun names to describe them. So the Greatest Generation were born from 1928 to 1946, so named because they fought to make the world safe for the western way of life but then ironically had a hell of a lot of babies that would eventually bring the western way of life crashing down, the Baby Boomers from ’46 to ’64, Generation X from ’64 to ’82, Generation Y or the Millennials or the Ironic Generation (the irony is that they don’t really understand irony) from ’82 to ’00, and Generation Z from then on, but you can’t end a sentence with a preposition so welcome to Miami.
But Generation Z aren’t pulling their weight, scientists say, spending the majority of their time sleeping. More than half of them don’t even attend school, and the half that do barely have a fifth-grade reading comprehension. The rest are bullying their gay or virgin peers despite not knowing what sex, homosexuality, or bukkake are.
Just this past weekend, I visited more than* zero schools in my district and found no evidence that school was even in session. Obviously, this is more than enough proof for my argument that Generation Z is circumstantially and vaguely abominable in ways that are fundamentally different from previous generations and in no way a rationally self-interested response to the world or a direct result of my own active participation in and support for the society that produced them and rewarded their current behaviors because, again, Generation Z is an absurd abstraction that does nothing so well as it sexts.
I think it’s pretty clear and backed up by Science that we’re Rome before the fall, and Generation Z is the many-headed Caligula raping our puppies. Vote no on Referendum 23.
*Correction: Sentence should read “more than or equal to.” Apologies to any readers misled by the line as is.
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Friday, October 1, 2010
It’s time for me to join Sally Draper and Rolling Stone in 2010 Beatlemania. Rolling Stone, betwixt interviews with our rocker-in-chief and Tea Party welfare queens, released a special issue devoted to their top 100 Beatles songs. And Sally Draper, well, she went all Hard Day’s Night when her dad got her tickets to one eventful concert at some venue called Shea Stadium.
Rolling Stone’s 10:
10. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - The Beatles, 1968
9. "Come Together" - Abbey Road, 1969
8. "Let it Be" - Let it Be, 1970
7. "Hey Jude" - single, 1968
6. "Something" - Abbey Road, 1969
5. "In My Life" - Rubber Soul, 1965
4. "Yesterday" - Help!, 1965
3. " Strawberry Fields Forever" - Magical Mystery Tour, 1967
2. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" - single, 1963
1. "A Day in the Life" - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967
Well, okay, but for a more idiosyncratic selection, if still hopelessly confined to the major hits, here are my top 10. I’m sure I’ll regret this by tomorrow. I begin with honorable mentions, because, for freedom of information, my top tier is actually 14 slots deep and it’s one big tie and I only ranked them so people can get their Internet rocks off arguing with me.
“I’ve Just Seen a Face” – Help!, 1965
“The Word” – Rubber Soul, 1965
“Strawberry Fields Forever” - Magical Mystery Tour, 1967
“Dear Prudence” – The Beatles, 1968
“Helter Skelter” – The Beatles, 1968
“Get Back” – Let it Be, 1970
10. “Eleanor Rigby” – Revolver, 1966
9. “I’ve Got a Feeling” – Let it Be, 1970
8. “I am the Walrus” – Magical Mystery Tour, 1967
7. “Across the Universe” – Let it Be, 1970
6. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – The Beatles, 1968
5. “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” – Rubber Soul, 1965
4. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – The Beatles, 1968
3. “Something” – Abbey Road, 1969
2. “The Long and Winding Road” – Let it Be, 1970
1. “A Day in the Life” – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967
So I’m a cliché where it counts—I can live with that. I guess Let it Be is my favorite album, and I'm a big fan of surreal and/or nonsense lyrics. It's all that Joyce. Besides, who's to say "elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna" does not, in fact, make perfect sense? You take that back!
Which brings us to you. I already know I'm wrong, and I've barely scratched the surface. So what are your personal favorites?
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