Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


"Lido Shuffle" / Joel Siegel: Still Dead

“Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs. You’re welcome.

Joel Siegel, legendarily awful movie critic for the equally awful Good Morning America, has died, at 63. This just goes to prove that, once in a while, genius is left to bless us while the mediocre die in their stead (this contrary to the old Bill Hicks axiom, about geniuses leaving us too soon while hacks are allowed to thrive and prosper).

Around these parts, Siegel is best known for pulling one of the all-time great punk moves by standing up forty minutes into (2006 TGO Movie of the Year winner) Clerks II, screaming “Time to go! First movie I’ve walked out of in thirty fucking years!” and storming out of the screening. In the aftermath, writer / director Kevin Smith took Siegel to the mat (along with comedians Rich Vos and future living legend Jim Norton) in a series of brilliant exchanges on the Opie and Anthony radio show (which you can listen to by clicking here – running time: 15:03; file size: 27.5 megs; better, please, to download the clip). If you’re going to have a legacy (other than being a truly terrible critic with overtly feminine tastes), it may as well be getting punked out by Kevin Smith.


Columns / Die, Paris, Die / Paul Newman / “Icky Thump” / “Live Free or Die Hard”

1) Unless some fetching, redheaded piece of ass drives me to distraction between now and then, new “In Dissent” opinion columns will begin invading your eye sockets on Wednesday, 18 July. Hilariously enough, the re-launch will coincide with a general “get your fat ass into better shape” program, so you should expect the first several columns to be about joint pain and muscle stiffness.

2) We should all thank Christ that Fox News Channel had the intellectual wherewithal to break through a serious news show, like the 3am EST rebroadcast of Special Report, to cover the release from jail of Paris Hilton. I stared at the screen in vain, desperately hoping that as she traipsed to her parent’s SUV, a modern day Jack Ruby would lurch from the crowd and finish the job her mother didn’t have the foresight to let an abortionist handle in the first place.

It wasn’t just Fox, of course – MSNBC and CNN also cut into what passes for their regular programming to broadcast the Awful Event – but no one ran their coverage longer than did FNC. By flipping back and forth, I observed that Hilton owned Fox’s air throughout the entire three o’clock hour and well into the four o’clock hour. Whoever made the decision to stretch this non-story into an ordeal ought to be relegated to homelessness and a decade of forced sodomy.

Didn’t bother with the Larry King interview, but I hear it was unintentionally hilarious, so now I may have to seek it out somewhere.

3) A timely note for Paul Newman: Your son died of a drug overdose. There ARE things worse than George W. Bush.

4) Though The White Stripes’ new album Icky Thump is slightly less innovative and enticing than its last two albums (2005’s Get Behind Me Satan and 2003’s Elephant), it’s still twelve times more interesting than anything any other notable modern act manages to record. Two thumbs up.

5) Live Free or Die Hard is perfectly fun, pointless, loud, and custom made for 20-year-old boys who like to watch shit explode. My son and I took in a 4.10pm show Wednesday, ate too much popcorn, drank too much Cherry Coke and Raspberry icy things, and had an absolute blast. As long as you know have a fair idea what you’re getting before you sit down, you’ll have a fine time.


What the Hell is An Aluminum Falcon?!


Hillary Clinton Chooses Campaign Song (Not Soviet National Anthem, As I'd Hoped)

When even Hillary Clinton can see the writing on the wall, it's a sad day for David Chase....



Immigration Bill / Columns / “Era Vulgaris” / “The Sopranos” / “John From Cincinnati”

1) At the grassroots level, the Republican party (and more specifically, the conservative movement) hasn’t changed much since Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. was backhand slapping Yale into a frenzy of feminine overreaction way back there in the early 1950s. But at the federal level, the party has gone horribly astray, drifting hither and yon between watered down versions of Democratic ideals and outright socialism (that it’s trendy socialism doesn’t make it a socialism of any lesser degree).

If your political beliefs ebb and flow with whoever is president, or whichever party controls the House or Senate, then what you have aren’t political beliefs, they’re conversation starters. Consequently, when your core beliefs are exactly those, drastic measures may sometimes have to be taken when your party of choice strays too far from its first principles. So I say here that passage of the immigration bill currently being resurrected on the Senate floor will be the last sin I can stand, meaning that if it reaches President Bush’s desk, I will leave the Republican party and register as an Independent.

2) A pronounced lack of purpose has weighed upon my conscience since the Lincoln book fell apart in March, and with my new lover living so far away, I decided some other action was in order, even if it’s wrong.

Three affiliates were publishing the “In Dissent” opinion column when I drifted away from its regular production early last year; all three have agreed to carry whatever new columns leave this desk, so expect to see new columns every Wednesday beginning some time this summer. No exact date has been chosen. Further updates as they warrant. Expect only that I will flop back into the scene with my blade sharpened; and know that that sort of conditioning takes some time.

3) Queens of The Stone Age is too often accused of being a stoner band; for one example, see the July 2007 issue of Blender magazine: “… each [Queens album] relies on easy-tempo, robot-stoner rock,” and so forth. Actually, John Homme and company (whoever “company” should be from one album to the next) have, beginning with Restricted is 2000, produced albums far too musically intricate and interesting to be fairly considered stoner music (especially the band’s masterpiece 2002 album Songs for the Deaf).

But with Era Vulgaris (released 12 June), a stripped down Queens has produced … something pretty close to stoner rock, as it would be defined by most thoughtful observers. It’s a decent little record; not brilliant, not terrible – not likely to attract a ton of new fans, but also not likely to force longtime fans to swear off the band in disgust. No matter what, QOTSA is one of the better live rock bands touring today, and you’d do well to see them if they come close.

4) For the record, David Chase is overrated. He slipped in a puddle of good fortune and managed despite himself to pound out a winner with The Sopranos’ first season, but once people started paying attention, Chase found himself suffering from performance anxiety and the show floundered.

That having been said, I haven’t quite decided whether the Sopranos series finale represented the last, desperate gasp of a writer who has never been much of an A to Z plotter, or a masterstroke of creative genius. However I can tell you that if I’d been allowed to read the final nine scripts before shooting began, I’d have beaten someone about the head and face until AJ Soprano was either made butch, or forced to die a brutal, unceremonious death.

Clearly Chase had no idea what to do with him, so he turned AJ into a maudlin, whining, near child molesting, gang supporting, terrorist-leaning cunt of a boy, with the bottom line being that his downfall as a relevant character bogs down what could have otherwise been an exceptional last run for a show that desperately needed an exceptional last run.

As for the sudden, cut-to-black ending – which caused everyone in the world who saw it, myself included, to fall face first into stunned, cackling disbelief – it accomplished exactly what was intended: Everyone was talking about The Sopranos the next morning. Press attention does nothing for completists (i.e., those who become obsessed over shows like The Sopranos or Deadwood and who want nothing more for their lives than for their shows to come to clear, logical conclusions), but it helps to further present HBO and Chase as a network and an artist willing to take a chance. But to what end? Exactly what chance is honestly being taken as you’re walking out the door?

Then again, it could have been one last “fuck you” to those who have spent years complaining that David Chase isn’t much for concluding his stories in a commonsense manner. So, you know, well done, Chase – no matter what else, those critics were right.

5) Speaking of HBO, the first episode of John From Cincinnati (forevermore known as the show that killed my beloved Deadwood) was actually very, very good; David Milch and company have definitely earned my attention. My sincere hope is that my fellow Deadwood zealots will give John a fair shot.


Today’s date: Monday, 04 June 2007.
Your next chance to elect a president: Tuesday, 04 November 2008.
That president-elect’s inauguration day: Tuesday, 20 January 2009.
Distance between now and Election Day: 1 year, 5 months.
Distance between now and inauguration day: 1 year, 7 months, 15 days.

Just wanted to get that out there, in the event anyone has the mistaken impression the presidential debates we’re seeing now are relevant, or even that the candidates are answering questions that will still be lingering at the fore of the American consciousness 17 months from now.

The largest of these being the Iraqi War, which as we sit today has a three-month plus length of fuse left to burn through, during which time the Iraqis are expected to prove, without reasonable doubt, that they are as interested in their own long term safety and well being as we are. (Well, as some of us are.) Should the Iraqis not show greater enthusiasm in rooting out and eliminating the Dirt Worshipers before some magical date in September, the face of the conflict will (and should) change greatly. Resistance to funding and troop withdrawal will largely evaporate, and then the fistfights will be about how and when to bring large numbers of soldiers home, and where bases should be established, but not over whether we should continue to stand and allow our good intentions to be shoveled to the wayside.

On the happier (but less likely) side of the ledger, the Iraqis could find it within themselves to come to their senses, begin to take themselves seriously, start working through the more contentious matters standing between their various adorable little fanaticisms and an earnestly functioning government – and it’s not even that I would need to see it humming along flawlessly by September; I’d settle for Steps In The Right Direction (as, I’m sure, would President Bush). Supposing there arise further Steps In The Right Direction, the president could make an argument for continuing to assist the Iraqis in their path to autonomy, meaning the Iraqi debate on these shores could turn to, I don’t know, equitable distribution of funds for pivotal ….. zzzzzzzzzz

In any case, the odds are exceptional The War as construed and criticized today (at occasions like last night’s Democrats debate on CNN) will have changed greatly between now and Election Day 2008. For Senator Clinton to say she has a three point plan to bring soldiers home is fine, I guess, but no matter how industriously constructed, her plan cannot possibly account for whatever variables might arise in Iraq between now and the Democratic convention.

Of course, yes, a debate at this remove serves only to demonstrate which candidate is most willing to push aside their pride and convictions to kiss the ring collectively worn by the loosely confederated band of nitwits and filthy heathens that make up the MoveOn contingency; the provocative footrace to demonstrate who can run the furthest Left the fastest, all to win the affections of a group of people genetically predisposed to resent nuance in thought and action. Nice going, whoever won.

But has anyone bothered to tell the Democrats they’re not running against President Bush next November?

2) Sometime Tuesday I’ll get around to isolating the audio and / or video for all my blog peeps (both of you), but noted political ignoramus / otherwise hot piece of ass Sarah Silverman torched Paris Hilton in her monologue at the MTV Movie Awards Sunday night. (Was I alone in not knowing until the last minute the thing had even been scheduled?) Naturally I made no effort to watch the thing, but after reading an article this afternoon sought out the clips in question, linked for you here. (Granted I’d seen Silverman on commercials while flipping past MTV, but so distracted was I by the fantasy where I blow wave after wave of DNA across her face, I’d neglected to notice why she was there.)

By chance this morning, I stumbled upon video of Hilton going to jail and knew I was living the greatest day ever. Here’s to hoping she’ll emerge with her breath smelling oddly of the ocean – hoping against hope that the women she’s forced to service in jail will have much less regard for hygiene and grooming than the girls Hilton is used to servicing.