Monday, May 25, 2009

Wednesday Night’s TV Lineup: Two Conspiracy Theorist Guys, Me, Then The No-Talent Musician

If you’ll be in central Connecticut this Wednesday night with basic cable, join the tens of people who check out public access channel “Nutmeg TV,” which has a brand-new weekly show produced by the newspapers where I work. The idea is that each week, my editor/boss will spend half an hour chatting with a reporter or photographer from the paper.

The show debuted last week with the police reporter discussing crime and punishment. Episode two, slated to air this Wednesday, features the arts and entertainment editor – by which I mean me – talking about art and the creative process. (Which completely caught me by surprise, since I’d expected my boss would ask me questions about the local art scene in particular. I don't recall saying anything particularly brilliant at the taping.)

Last week’s episode, with the crime reporter, aired right after a show featuring two middle-aged marijuana-leaf-wearing hippie conspiracy theorist Christian fundamentalist Young Earth creationists, who talked about the dangers of fluoridated water, and how the New World Order has to happen before Jesus can return, and computers are mentioned in Revelation, and Hitler had alien anti-grav technology back in the day. Also, the Committee of 300 has something to do with why pharmaceutical companies sell placebos or even toxins, because there’s no money to be made in cures.

If last Wednesday’s lineup is repeated this week, my show comes on right after these guys.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blatant Attempt To Land A Job In Journalism’s Big Leagues

I suffered a difficult and traumatic adolescence, plagued at one point by poverty so bad I came close to starvation and was reduced to eating raw vegetables I’d clawed by hand from the dirt in a neighbor’s seedy abandoned garden. But my belly couldn’t handle the harsh unwashed food so I became violently ill, there in the shattered ruins of all I once held dear, and sobbed quietly for a bit, utterly defeated.

Or so it seemed. But then I squared my thin, bedraggled shoulders and slowly arose, my plucky undernourished frame silhouetted against the dramatic blood-red sky, and raised my fist to said sky and defiantly cried out “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”

This really happened. Or maybe I’m just remembering something a friend told me a few days ago. Either way it’s totally my own original work or at least an honest mistake on my part, and since I’ve demonstrated an ability to tell dramatic, self-pitying stories and borrow ideas as needed I see no reason why I shouldn’t be considered for the job of Token Redhead Columnist at the New York Times.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The FBI Must Be Getting Bored

The other night I met with a meatspace friend of mine while he sat at his computer visiting the sort of websites where people download crisp, clear, copyright-violating copies of movies and DVDs. [Insert standard disclaimer here about how you shouldn’t commit acts of copyright violation because they are Wrong.]

I don’t actually download things myself, but I know from watching others do it that a single large file is broken down into smaller numbered files with the same name. There’s also something called a “par” file, which you’ll use to put the smaller files back together into a single coherent whole.

So when you look at the listings of movies and TV shows available, you’ll generally see each title repeated multiple times, like this:

Stupid Teen Movie 1
Stupid Teen Movie 2
Stupid Teen Movie 3
Stupid Teen Movie 4
Stupid Teen Movie 5
Stupid Teen Movie 6
Stupid Teen Movie 7
Stupid Teen Movie 8
Stupid Teen Movie PAR
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 1
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 2
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 3
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 4
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 5
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 6
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 7
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 8
Cheesy Sitcom Season One 9
Cheesy Sitcom Season One PAR
Chick Flick Romance 1
Chick Flick Romance 2
Chick Flick Romance 3
Chick Flick Romance 4
Chick Flick Romance 5
Chick Flick Romance PAR

And so forth. This is further broken down into categories, so you get one page with repeated names of science-fiction movies, one pageful of action TV dramas and a third with nothing but history-channel Hitler documentaries.

But the other night, there was something strange. No matter what category my friend visited, each list had at its beginning a single small file whose name was never repeated.

So the science fiction page looked something like this:

16 Year Old Rape
Generic Space Opera 1
Generic Space Opera 2
Generic Space Opera 3
Generic Space Opera 4
Generic Space Opera 5
Generic Space Opera PAR
The Star Wars Holiday Special 1
The Star Wars Holiday Special 2
The Star Wars Holiday Special 3
The Star Wars Holiday Special 4
The Star Wars Holiday Special 5
The Star Wars Holiday Special PAR

And the horror-movie page started as follows:

Oral Sex Lolita 14 Years Old
Zombie Brain Eaters 1
Zombie Brain Eaters 2
Zombie Brain Eaters 3
Zombie Brain Eaters 4
Zombie Brain Eaters 5
Zombie Brain Eaters PAR
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead 1
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead 2
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead 3
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead 4
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead 5
You Think You Killed The Bad Guy But He’s Not Really Dead PAR

Even the cartoon page:

Two 13-Year-Olds Having Sex
Old Looney Tunes Shorts 1
Old Looney Tunes Shorts 2
Old Looney Tunes Shorts 3
Old Looney Tunes Shorts 4
Old Looney Tunes Shorts 5
Old Looney Tunes Shorts PAR
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead 1
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead 2
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead 3
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead 4
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead 5
Go Smurf Yourself, Smurfhead PAR

“Why is there a kiddie porn file at the top of every page?” I asked my friend.

“Those files have been appearing for a couple weeks now,” he told me. “Always just one file.”

“Is it the Russian hacker mafia or the FBI?” I asked but of course there's no way of knowing, since we’re neither of us fool enough to click the mouse anywhere near a file with such a name.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring Reaming

Winter has finally left my little corner of New England, which means when I walk through downtown on various job-related tasks I am no longer hidden beneath a bulky coat. This is problematic because -- I am not exaggerating here -- every single day when I walk downtown I have to listen to guys honk their horns at me and then either make kissing noises or shout "Hey, bayBEE!" in Spanish accents.

I am always tempted to shout back "Do you jackholes really think that's the way to get a woman interested in you? Pray to the Virgin you're not still one when you die." But of course I never say anything, because I'm technically at work plus I don't feel like getting attacked by horny losers with nothing better to do that harass women in the middle of the day.

Maybe I can make a sandwich board to wear when I must walk the downtown streets: "Wanna get AIDS? Ask me how." Except that would only deter people who a) know how to read and b) aren't HIV-positive already. I'm not convinced that my onroad admirers meet both qualifications.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fun Fact About China

Via this article in the BBC we learn that Chinese parents with dead children can’t publicly mourn them without government permission, which isn’t easy to get:
Parents who lost their children in China's earthquake fear they will not be allowed to properly commemorate the disaster's first anniversary.

Many parents want to return to the site of the schools in Sichuan that killed their children when they collapsed.

But the authorities have previously stopped them going to the schools on sensitive occasions, and are said to be monitoring the parents ahead of 12 May.

China has not said how many children were among the 90,000 dead and missing.
The government has admitted that nearly 14,000 schools - some of them poorly or hastily built - were damaged in the magnitude-8 earthquake.
The parents have valid concerns:
[One mother] is not hopeful that she will be allowed to get to the collapsed school site, in the city of Dujiangyan in northern Sichuan Province.

"On every occasion parents have wanted to pay their respects to their children, the whole school and nearby area have been sealed off," she said.

Other parents told the BBC a similar story.

Zhou Siqiang, whose daughter died at the Juyuan school, said parents have been prevented from visiting the site on a number of occasions.

He said they were stopped from going to the site on last month's Tomb Sweeping Day, when Chinese people traditionally visit family graves.
The local government and police didn’t comment on any of these claims. This demonstrates yet again why China’s government is much worse than America’s: our authority figures are smart enough to cite public safety concerns when prohibiting mass gatherings.
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