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September 26, 2008

Crude

Rob @ 2:01 PM

It's not difficult to see how we got here. The worst part is, it was all legal.
--- CRUDE: How Wall Street Is Screwing America, Long Island Press, 9-24-08

I find this article a really interesting read. It's worth plowing through to the end, even if you don't normally read stuff like this.

Stewart and Colbert interview

Rob @ 11:07 AM

I don't think I've ever read Entertainment Weekly outside a doctor's waiting room, and even then only when all the Highlights for Children issues had the puzzles already filled in, but I really dig this interview with the funny fake news people.

STEWART: We've got three financial networks on all day. The bottom falls out of the credit market, and they were all running around. On CNBC I saw a guy talking to eight people in [eight different onscreen] boxes, and they were all like, ''I don't know!'' It'd be like if Hurricane Ike hit, and you put on the Weather Channel, and they were yelling, ''I don't know what the f--- is going on! I'm getting wet and it's windy and I don't know why and it's making me sad! Maybe the president could come down and put up some sort of windscreen?''

STEWART: We were in this huge credit crisis, out of money. Then the Fed goes, We'll give you a trillion dollars, and all of a sudden Wall Street is like, ''I can't believe we got away with it!'' Can you imagine if someone said, ''I shouldn't have bought that sports car because it means I can't have my house,'' and the bank just said, ''All right, you can have your house. And you know what? Keep the car.'' [He throws up his arms joyfully and shouts] ''Yeaaaaah, I get to keep the car! Wait, do I have to give the money back?'' ''No, it doesn't matter.'' ''Yeah, I'm gonna get another car! I'm gonna do the same thing the same way, except twice as f---ed up!''

COLBERT: The idea that Lehman Brothers doesn't get any money and AIG does reminds me very much of ''Iran is a mortal enemy because they have not achieved a nuclear weapon. But North Korea is a country we can work with, because they have a nuclear weapon.'' The idea is, Get big or go home. How big can you f--- up? Can you f--- up so bad that you would ruin the world economy? If it's just 15,000 who are out of jobs, no. You have to actually be a global f---up to get any help.

September 25, 2008

Watch the whole thing.

Rob @ 10:55 PM

This is so sweet.

grumble

Rob @ 12:16 PM

I'm home with a migraine which is going into its second day. It ebbed enough yesterday evening for me to do Off the Hook despite feeling a bit off my game. It came back in full force about five minutes after I went off the air. I had to ditch the crew before dinner, and head back home wearing my sunglasses in the dark (migraines kick my light-sensitivity up like whoah; I'm only online now with my window blocked and my monitor's brightness turned way down.)

While I'm often accused of being everyone's obligatory overly positive friend, it's times like this when I feel better about venting some negativity. So, here's a few things that are getting right up my nose at this particular moment.

  • The Wall Street bailout. Gee, I sure wish I could get handed a metric pantload of taxpayer money I didn't earn, just for being so horribly inept at my job that I put the entire national economy in even worse shape than it already was.

    I'm only one man, though, and I don't really need $700 billion, so perhaps I could scale things back a bit. If I get a job at McDonalds and burn the fries, can I just have a million?

  • Heath Ledger as the Joker. I love Batman, and the Joker has always been one of my favorite villains of all time. In my opinion, though, the much-hyped Dark Knight film gave us the worst possible take on the character.

    Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger took a character that was delightfully chaotic and evil, and turned him into a grumbly emo kid who delivered his lines with all the personality of a glass of stale water. Like Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker; it turns out that a legendary badass is really just a clone of any of several tetchy kids I went to high school with.

    The Joker, when done right, is menacing and darkly hilarious and truly chaotic. My favorite interpretation is probably Mark Hamill's performances in animated Batman; just the right amounts of silly and psychotic. It seems that the writers of the film sort of had a handle on a good Joker, as some of the lines would be scary and/or funny as hell coming from a more suitable actor. Heath, however, reads them like a drama-school dropout with mild indigestion, or a bitter old lady in the throes of refusing to buy cookies from a girl scout at her door. This Joker just doesn't cut it.

    The Dark Knight was a neat film otherwise, but Heath was definitely the low point.

  • McCain and Palin. Their ineptness is almost entertaining in a Three Stooges sort of way, but the chance that they may end up in positions of real power bothers me.

    I'm not among Obama's dazzled fans who put up that Shepard Fairey poster and believe he's a magical man who will make everything better, but out of the current choices he's the only one I would trust in the slightest not to screw things up even worse than the current regime.

  • Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising. Usually I like Michael Moore's work. Even when I don't agree with what he's saying or how he's saying it, I can respect his crusade andthe way he tells his story. His latest film, which he is giving away for free online as a "gift" to his fans, chronicles his efforts to get out the "slacker" vote in hopes of ousting Bush in the 2004 election. Of course, the election still went the other way.

    Had Moore succeeded in his mission this film might have succeeded as a bit of self-congratulatory fluff, which I probably wouldn't have dug much either, but as is this film doesn't even have that going for it. It basically ends up showing a movement patting itself on the back right up until it fails spectacularly.
    This whole thing seems to me like something that would make an interesting second disc on a special edition Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD, but on its own it's just a chronicle of an epic fail.

    Moore's other work has a reason behind it outside himself. This film doesn't seem to have any more of a point than "look at Mike being snarky and brilliant, look at all these lefites looking spunky and all these righties looking stupid, Mike is so great... oh, damn." It's like someone publishing the edited highlights of their most awkward home movies, and declaring it a gift to the world.

  • Twilight. For those unfamiliar, it's a popular young adult book series that's blowing up all over the place, with a feature film on the way. It seems to be the Next Big Thing for those who finished Harry Potter and wish to read other things now.

    My best friend Grey is really into the Twilight series. I've been listening to her talk about the books, gone shopping with her for supplies to make jewelry and stuff based on them, helped her track down new movie trailers, and so on. I get a huge kick out of her fangirl enthusiasm, and support her digging what she digs. So, when she decided to loan me the first book in the series, I dove in. Her tastes and mine often coincide at least slightly, and I was willing to give the book a shot for her.

    Five pages in, I knew I was in trouble. Thirty pages in, I was feeling physical pain. About ninety pages in, I had to close the book and email Grey asking how soon I could get it out of my house.

    I love reading, and usually I can read anything once. Even if I hate a book entirely, I can take something away from the read, or at least play Mystery Science Theater 3000 in my head. This novel, however, has taken all my least favorite things about trashy young-adult romance novels, trendy Buffy-knockoff vampire drama, and standard directionless vapid teen angst, and wrapped them up in one little package.

    The prose was a chore and a half; it's written like some middle-schooler's Myspace blog. The story just brought cliche after cliche. I couldn't develop the slightest bit of empathy for any of the characters, and every page made me wish that the next page would include a scene of rocks falling and everyone dying.

    After I gave up on the book, I did take the time to skim ahead, and then pull up the plot details on the rest of the series. Every bit I learned about the continuation of the story made me glad I gave up so early; if any of that had happened to characters I gave a tin shit about, I'd be sorely disappointed. The whole thing is like the bad Mary-Sue fanfic version of itself.

    I don't begrudge anyone else their choice of entertainment or fandom; it's just so totally not for me at all. I do really like this parody, though.

That's all I've got for now. I'm going to go put my head down for a bit.

September 18, 2008

OTH: 9-17-08

Rob @ 11:10 AM

On behalf of the show and myself, I'd like to thank the Off the Hook listeners among you.

For one thing, so many of you are coming through with an awesome show of support during the current WBAI fundraiser, allowing us to thunder past our pledge goals like a crazed herd of sweaty community-radio-supporting buffalo. Some of us had to leave the studio partway through last night's broadcast and help out the volunteers taking pledges in the phone bank, it was that busy. :-)

Even if you aren't among those able to pledge, thank you for listening. Were it not for you, we would all just be a bunch of strange people closed up in a soundproof room talking to ourselves, which wouldn't be nearly as fun.

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