Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Like Their Falling Prices...

John Walton died yesterday after crashing his experimental, ultralight aircraft, otherwise known as billionaire-guy diversion toy. He's the middle son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Wal-Mart's PR guys are already in full gear talking about what a great guy he was and all he did for charity and his awards from Vietnam blah blah blah. And while the mainstream media buys into it and praises the life of a guy they didn't even know about before today, just remember a few things when wading through the bullshit on CNN and FOX.

The big thing they talk about is his work "to help to educate poor children" by pushing for school vouchers. Translation: He wanted to get rid of public schools.

Walton was the 11th richest person in the world, tied with his youngest brother behind his older brother and ahead of his mom and sister. And how did this Republican-loved family get to be this rich? Hard work? No. They inherited it, every single one of them. These are the people the conservatives want to save from the estate tax. And the capital gains tax.

While he had a net worth of $18.2 billion for doing nothing more than being born into the right family, most Wal-Mart employees cannot afford the company health insurance and many are poor enough to be eligible for food stamp assistance even though they work full time for the richest company on the planet.

A lot will be made in the press about what he has done for kids through the charity he runs for the Walton Family. What they won't mention is the fact that he sits on the board of a company that makes billions off of products made with child labor. If he really cared about kids he could have started with them.

They will talk about what a nice guy he was and march out some "regular employees" to talk about how nice and ordinary he was. They probably won't mention his company's efforts over the years to suppress workers' rights and wages, or all of the union busting so they won't have to pay people an extra 50 cents an hour. If this guy was so nice, why didn't he use his influence as a board member and one of the biggest stock-holders to help those regular employees? He could have stood up in front of the board and said "Hey, $8 billion net profit a year is good and everything, but what if we made $4 billion instead and used all that extra money to give our employees full benefits and a couple of more dollars an hour and made sure all of our suppliers paid fair wages and didn't use child labor? And we'd all still be rich as piss anyway."

He could've, but he didn't.

So while Wal-Mart employees around the world were plugging away for their measly paychecks and making him more billions, John-boy was goofing off with his dangerous rich-boy hobby on a Monday afternoon. The rest of us should be so lucky.

Fuck him.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Common Ground

With all the heated feelings these days between people of different political beliefs I'm always looking for common thoughts and ideas with people that I normally have major disagreements. While reading the paper yesterday I had one of those "common ground" moments. There was an article about Billy Graham's upcoming crusade in New York City and I came across this:

''I look forward to death," Graham said at a press conference ahead of his three-day New York crusade, set to begin Friday. ''I look forward to seeing God face to face."

I thought to myself, "What a coincidence. I'm looking forward to Billy Graham dying too."

See? We can all agree on something.

Burn Baby Burn

So the U.S. House of Representatives once again has passed an "anti-flag burning" amendment to the Constitution. It will now go to the Senate, where it will probably die once again but it will be close. What the fuck is wrong with these people? I'm trying to figure out what goes on in the mind of these twits that this is important to them, or how it is they don't see that it is the most un-American thing you could do to the Constitution since Prohibition.

This follows an incident that happened in Gloucester or Salem or some city north of Boston that I stay away from. I guess they have some exhibit of American flags at some waterfront park every year after Memorial Day until the 4th of July. One night earlier this week someone burned or ripped or in some way destroyed one of them. Just one. Talk about a lazy vandal. Anyway, I saw this story on the local news and they were interviewing, I honestly don't know who this guy was, I assume someone who has something to do with putting the display up or something. And this guy seems just anguished over the whole thing and goes on to say that flag burning is "the lowest thing someone can do".

Really, that's what he said. In about five seconds I was able to rattle off in my head several things that I think most people would agree are "lower" than flag burning.

Killing 6 million people based on their religion.
Killing anyone for any reason other than self defense.
Child molesting.
Lynching someone.

Seriously, it took no thought to think of those things right away. I'm sure if I thought about it for an hour or so I could fill a book with things that every sane person would agree is worse than burning a piece of cloth with some red and white stripes painted on it. Of all the things to get worked up over. There are innocent people being brutalized in places like Sudan and Zimbabwe, and our elected officials put this stupid shit at the top of their agenda?

Look, I know some people are offended by it. You know what I say to these people? GET THE FUCK OVER IT! The First Amendment is supposed to protect offensive speech. Popular speech doesn't need protecting. I think the Nazis marching through Skoki Illinois is amazingly offensive, but that doesn't mean they don't have a right to do it. I find Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and his ass-hole son, Jerry Falwell, and the Southern Baptist Convention offensive. But you don't see me out there trying to get them declared unconstitutional. Not that I wouldn't love that. But just like the Constitution protects me from those dicks, it also protects them from me. And they should thank their lucky stars too, because if it wasn't for that protection I'd be pulling out the can o' wup-ass on them.

And I have read some stupid rhetoric coming from these idiots over the last few days. They try to make it sound like people could come grab Old Glory off of your flag pole, have a bon fire and that it would be perfectly legal. Well, as you all know, that's just fucking ridiculous. Charges of theft and destruction of private property apply to flags just like they apply to anything else you own. It's against the law to steal someone else's flag just like it's against the law to steal their car. This stupid law would make it illegal for me to buy, or make my own, American flag and then destroy it.

So here's hoping that just enough Senators are sane enough to protect us from the jingoists once again. My two Senators are voting against it. Find out where yours stands and urge them to do the right thing.

Now where did I put my matchbook?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Not So Happy Birthday

This last Sunday was the 60th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of Burma. I have written about her in the past. Her party won a landslide election in Burma in 1990, and she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. The ruling military junta refused to allow her and her party to take office after the election. She was arrested, along with many others, and has been under house arrest for about ten of the last 16 years. During times she is not under house arrest, her movements are closely monitored and she is not allowed to speak in public. She has at times been denied the right to travel outside the country, and at other times she has chosen not to leave (like when her husband was on his deathbed in Europe) because it was known that she would not be allowed back into Burma, or Myanmar, as the ruling junta calls the country. She is currently under house arrest again (the ruling junta actually claim it is for her safety) and was alone on her birthday, as no visitors were allowed. She is not even allowed access to a piano, which is reportedly one of her great pleasures in life. I know that's not as cruel as the killings of thousands that they've done over the years, but still. So, 16 years after she should have taken office as the prime minister of Burma she spends her 60th birthday alone and locked up.

And what have the great western democracies done about it? Well, nothing really. Sure, our president is great at lip service, and we supposedly have economic sanctions against "Myanmar". But for some reason the U.S. company UNOCAL is able to keep pumping oil and natural gas out of Burma and put millions of dollars in the hands of the oppressors of the Burmese people. So those sanctions aren't working so well. And Europe has done no better. And countries such as India, Bangladesh, Thailand and China(no surprise there) have done even worse and actively supported the evil regime outright.

I'm sorry the leaders of the world have abandoned you Ms. Suu Kyi. And I'm sorry you spent you birthday alone, and without music.

But I wish you a happy birthday regardless, Madame Prime Minister. I hope the next one is very different. You are a hero and an inspiration. You, and your people, deserve better.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Pop Culture Clash

Sorry I haven't written anything lately for your reading pleasure my millions of fans. It's been a shitty week. Don't ask. No, really don't.

So I'm watching CNN this morning. I'm sure it's because I have some sort of self-hatred problem that I force myself to sit through pretty-boy Bill Hemmer and that stupid, stupid beauty pageant winner Soledad O'Brien. Seriously, years after Helen Thomas paved the way for serious women journalist, we've still got mostly dunderheads like Soledad and that fucking Deborah Norville, who I'm convinced sucked some serious network dicks to get where she is today because there is no other explanation for her success. None. Same goes for that Hemmer guy. I'm willing to bet that his nickname among the stagehands and production assistants at CNN is "Hummer".

But the real point of this rant today is this segment they have on CNN's American Morning called 90-Second Pop. If you've never seen this little bit you've really been missing out. Now some days, they talk about a new movie coming out and if it's any good, or maybe about the new TV season, or about good shows that got canceled or saved despite poor ratings (Yay Arrested Development). But there is also the very dark side. And you can guess what I'm talking about, all of the relationship crap like Jen & Ben, or Jen & whoeverthisweeksguyis, Brad and whoever, blah blah blah. So today had the b-team panel on (whenever you see the guy from US Weekly or dangly earring girl from Teen People you know it's the b-team) and they started talking about Tom Cruise and whoever this chick is that he went all weird on Oprah over. So I learn from them that he announced yesterday in Paris that they are now engaged. OK, so what, I think. I still don't care.

But what struck me as funny, was how the woman (girl) from Teen People went on and on suggesting this is a big publicity stunt and acting like she thinks Tom and this chick are really shallow people. HELLLOOOOOOOOOO! YOU WORK FOR TEEN PEOPLE, YOU STUPID EX-CHEERLEADER. And I just love how someone who makes their living writing about celebrities' private lives (for teens no less) has the audacity to even try to bash someone else's character or motives.

I really have to stop watching CNN in the morning.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Oh Brother

So I've ordered tickets from TicketMaster.com a total of once I think. Usually I'll go to one of the outlets and buy them with cash. A lot of bands I like also give you the chance to buy tickets through alternative ticket sellers before they go on sale through TicketMaster. I also like a lot of groups that play smaller clubs, so I can just get them at the door. But, as usual, I digress.

So ever since I made my one order through TicketMaster for a couple of Wilco tickets last year I get emails, about once a week I think, announcing shows that I might be interested in. Now, in this era of Big Brother commerce, a lot of us are getting used to this. And a lot of these companies are really good at it. If you've ever ordered anything from Amazon you've probably noticed that they like to make suggestions for you when you visit them again. I've bought three things for myself on Amazon, two Robyn Hitchcock CDs and his live concert on DVD. I like to go to record stores, but some artists just don't get stocked in the local shops. So Amazon came in really handy. But I never knew about the whole "recommended for..." thing until I actually made a purchase a few months ago. And I was really shocked by how decent the recommendations were. Along with suggesting several Robyn Hitchcock albums that I already own, they recommended CDs and DVDs from They Might Be Giants, Frank Zappa, Richard Thompson, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and NRBQ, among others. A pretty good job I thought. A typical Robyn fan would probably like most of the people on that list. That Big Brother shit still creeps me out, but they sure are good at it. I imagine this has been one of the keys to Amazon taking over the world one person at a time. Thank fucking Christ they don't include gifts you had sent to other people to calculate your recommendation list. I shudder to think what shit they would be trying to get me to buy based on my Mothers Day gift of the I Love Lucy - The Complete 2nd Season for my Lucy-obsessed mom. Just another example of how good they are at this

So what's the deal with TicketMaster? They have been at this world domination thing a lot longer than Amazon and were once owned by the evil Paul Allen, who is a master at it. But after buying Wilco Tickets through them I couldn't get worse emails from them about upcoming shows. Here are the subject lines of the last two notices I got from them:

Don't miss Pop-Tarts Presents American Idols Live!

Don't miss Hilary Duff!

If you don't get with it TicketMaster, the other members of the Information/Capitalist Complex are going to boot you out. If you don't read my mind and tell me what I want to see, somebody else will.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I'd Like To Buy A Barf Bag, Pat

Browsing around the internet today at my temp gig while they interviewed people for my job, and I came across something that you have to see. I think I came across this by a link from my friend Joe's blog to another blog, which had a link to this. Yes, Pat Sajak has a website/blog/ego stroke. Go ahead, read some of his "Sajak Says..." shit. What a jack-off. Now, I learned a while ago that he was a conservative twit while reading an editorial in some paper (one of those "liberal" ones) by him. It was an ironic article, given that he was going off on the mainstream "liberal media" for their bias against conservative views even though they were publishing an article by him, a conservative celebrity. This is typical of most conservatives these days. Claim over and over that there is a "liberal bias" and maybe it will actually be true. Or at least the stupid people will believe it to be true. And they do. But coming across this idiot's web site and seeing some of the stupid shit he writes was just hilarious. For the most part it is a lot like the rest of the GOP talking points you see everyday on the news. But the smugness with which he writes puts him right up there with the king of twits Robert Novak. And like FOX News, Pat likes to play fast and loose with the facts. Like the claim he makes about Air America Radio not gaining any ground, despite the fact that their ratings and number of markets keep growing, and they are beating Rush and O'Reilly in several cities.

And like the rest of the conservatives in this country, Sajak-off loves to make the claim that we liberals are happy every time a bomb goes off in Iraq and innocent people are killed because it makes Dubya look bad. Well fuck you Pat! The reason we were against this war to begin with was because we didn't want a bunch of innocent people to get killed you stupid ass. Pointing out that these things are the result of Georgie Boy's failed policies is not celebrating it. Thousands of innocent people dead and people like wheel-boy continue to paint us as the evil ones. Guess what, prick? Blaming us won't get rid of your guilt.

And like all good conservatives, much of his writing has the obligatory sucking of The Gipper's dick. OK, we get it, you cons loved that jackass who sold weapons to Iran and destroyed democracy in Nicaragua. But, much to my delight, he's dead now. So get over it. And the last time I checked totalitarianism is alive and well in Russia, so even the big thing they like to give him credit for (ending Communism blah blah blah) didn't actually happen. It just renamed itself.

Some more things from game show pretty-boy: He has an entry where he calls himself a member of an exclusive club, along with the likes of Johnny Carson. That being the club of people who had late-night talk shows. You gotta love it. He has a show that tanked horribly and he considers it some great thing he did. All 15 months of it.

He goes off on celebrities for their preaching of their political beliefs, then makes excuses for the way he does it. He also suggests revisiting the 1st Amendment. There are, of course, the obligatory attacks on Bill and Hillary. And taking jabs at Gore's unpopularity with the American people, forgetting, like all conservatives do, that he actually got about a half a million more votes than the Texas Ranger man. There is also the portrayal of Christians as somehow oppressed in this country. Oh, and we on the left hate them too. Even though the majority of the people on the left in this country, just like the right, are Christians. People on the right love to scream about religious hatred at us, usually right after it's been found out they did something like piss on somebody else's holy book.

My two favorites are these: He does go off about taxes. Typical conservative nonsense. He falls right in line with the rich lazy-white-guy who doesn't think he should have to pay taxes. I always find it funny that guys like William Buffet and George Soros, who have worked really hard to become kajillionaires, are all for paying their fair share of taxes, including the Estate Tax, while guys like Pat, who works about three hours one day a week (that's how a whole week of game shows are done) cries like a little pussy about how he's being ripped off. Seriously, this guy doesn't know anything about a 40-hour week or hard work, his riches have come about with the greatest of ease because he was born with TV looks and a good voice. Personally, I would have a TV host tax, and the rate would go up with the stupidity of the show and the ease of the host's job. That would put Patty-boy at about a 90% tax rate. Vanna would have to hand her whole check over. Donald Trump would have to give up his salary and pay extra on top of that. But I digress. Back to the dumb-ass. In a couple of entries he goes off on liberals for name-calling (labeling someone a Hitler and other things like that) and makes a point about how he doesn't do things like that. But look over his postings and you'll see him call John Kerry a jerk, he'll refer to both Michael Moore and Ted Kennedy as fat, allude to Barbara Boxer as a cry-baby and Hollywood celebrities being stupid and Democrats being drunks. The best he could come up with for Al Franken was to call him unfunny a couple of times. There is something really hilarious about guys like Sajakoff or O'Reilly accusing Franken of not being funny. Does anyone really think either of them would know a good joke if it came up and fucked them in the ear? See, like that. Not a good joke. But still better than any of dickface's little stabs at humor during the "get to know the stupid Iowa housewife" portion of his game show.

Ok, enough of going off on the twit. He might call me an Internet Goon. That's someone who pisses Pat off by saying mean things and hiding behind a screen name. He goes on and on about it in that post. Talks about how he doesn't read letters he gets at the game show if it is unsigned. Well, I'm more than happy to sign my name to this you waste of oxygen. But one thing, Pat doesn't have a comment page or a "contact me" section on his ego stroke site. So if anyone knows how I can forward this to him please let me know. And just for the record douche-bag, I am:

Sincerely yours,

Out Of Tune
Boston, MA
White male
Married no kids
Age - 34
Sign - Leo

Friday, June 03, 2005

Good Times, Good Times

I'm back! A much needed vacation on the west coast did the body good. And for the most part I didn't see much in the way of news, which was also good for my body/mind/soul. I was extremely happy to find out that, after almost two weeks away, they still haven't confirmed that ass-hole to the U.N. And wow, Deep Throat revealed. I'm a little disappointed it wasn't Pat Buchanan, because that was the only chance in hell I would have ever had any respect for him.

Anyway, since don't have any news to rant about I'll just share some thoughts from my trip, just in case you're not bored enough.

So my trip was to L.A. and Phoenix. L.A. was to see friends and Phoenix was for family, so make whatever assumptions about how I felt about each portion of the trip and you are probably just about right. More about the family at a later entry (maybe), for now I'll talk about my trip to LALALand.

Now I went to L.A. to see friends. I don't have any particular love of the place as a city, and I've been there before so I had no desire to do the tourist things. I just wanted to get out of Boston for a little while and see some people I absolutely adore and haven't seen in a while. In some cases a real long time. Most are old college friends. I was a little afraid of this trip making me feel old, or becoming one of those pathetic trips down memory lane that drives everyone crazy. But you know what? It didn't make me feel either way. Sure, there was the usual "remember the time...", or the "One time when we were so fucked up...", and the bagging on people we hated and shit. But for the most part it was just hanging out with people that I really love hanging out with. And boy was it a good time. A little run-down of the attendees that I so loved seeing again:

My buddy Armando is one of my favorite people. I'd seen him more recently than everybody else, and he put me up for the time I was there. Gotta love friends who have an open invitation to crash at their pad. Armando is also the best cook of all the people I know and has the most infectious laugh.

Matt, who I hadn't seen in probably ten years, is one of the coolest cats I've ever known. Just about everyone I know has a story that starts "So one time I was getting fucked up with Matt...". Always a good time when Matt's around. A master of wit and the best cocktail mixer I've ever known, Matt is also always the perfect host, even when it is someone else's place. On a night of card playing and drinking cosmopolitans, my glass never reached empty as Matt kept mixing 'em up all night long. One of my favorite actors of all the one's I've worked with.

Tony, probably even longer since I'd seen him, one of the nicest and funniest guys around. And I mean really really funny. By the end of the night of cards at Armando's my side hurt from laughter and several times barely averted having cosmos come through my nose. A killer improviser with the greatest talent for non-sequitur humor. And he can hold a cigarette in his chin. Hours of fun.

M. Scott. Well, we're still trying to figure out what it is we like about this fucker. The spunkiest shit you'd ever meet. Talks shit more than anybody I know. That probably is why we like him so much. That, and he's cute as a button.

Big D. Fuck that guy. No no. I kid cause I love. That big funny teddy-bear tries to act all tough and shit, but we're on to him. Big softie. And I guess he got to tackle people a lot in the new Longest Yard movie.

Chuck. Really don't like Chuck all that much. I'm just nice to him with the hope that he'll someday introduce me to the AFLAC duck from the commercial he was in. Then I can kick Chuck to the curb and run with the cool Hollywood crowd. That'll be sweet.

Mike will laugh at everything. Really, it's like taking a friendly audience with you wherever you go. When Mike's around even I seem funny. He's also a really successful car salesman. So that whole laughing at your jokes thing is probably just a ploy to weaken your defenses so he can go for the throat. I'm on to you buddy!

Brian, who since the last time I saw him figured out he was gay, so I'm really happy for him. Biggest music lover of anybody I've ever known and I've always been in awe of his music collection. And now that he's out of the closet he gets a lot great DJ gigs. Brian is also a fine stage actor, so of course I wish he would get the fuck out of L.A. and go back to a real theatre town.

And I shouldn't leave out the ladies. First there is Megan. Smart, funny, laid-back, and exudes sophistication. So we're still trying to figure out why she married Matt. Just kidding there buddy.

Heather. If I'm in a bad mood I can talk to Heather and it will go away. She's so bouncy (but not in the bad annoying way) that when she's in a shitty mood she still looks happier than most people's good mood.

Stacie. An angel. Great actor, beautiful soul, compassion and empathy you can't believe. She can also talk like a sailor. Love that.

Giannine. Besides me, the most opinionated person I know. So that kind of makes us kindred spirits. And unlike most of my friends who moved out there, she hates L.A. Place isn't real enough for her. Not really a surprise if you know Giannine.

There's also my friend Thor from my Seattle days living in L.A. But describing him would take a long time and several footnotes, mostly from Freud. Just think of him like we all do as the God Of Thunder and leave it at that. He is an international man of mystery.

I'm sure I forgot somebody. A great trip. Lots of friends and lots of fun. Later I'll write about what I actually did while I was there.