Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 10 Best TV Shows EVER!

My last communication got me in some trouble. (Who knew there were so many Bristol Palin fans out there.) So, I decided to undertake a safer topic this time around. Television. Most of it sucks more ass than Sasha Gray, but occasionally—just occasionally—a show trickles out on the airwaves that deserves a place in history.

So, in no special order, here are the 10 best television programs of all time. Read em and weep.

The West Wing (1999-2006)
Featuring what is arguably the best writing ever on television, especially the dialogue, West Wing also demonstrated a laudable civic-mindedness that has never appeared on TV. Viewers were treated to a lesson in democratic governance in almost every episode. Add in the fact that it had a sublime sense of humor, and the entire combination made for TV nirvana. It was sometimes corny, sure, and more than a bit idealized, but given the current state of our political discourse, it’s nice to reflect from time to time on what might be.

I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
A groundbreaking TV comedy, Lucy solidified the three-camera production format, and was the most-watched show in America for four years running. It’s best comedic bits fare just fine today. Among the finest are: “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” where she gets loaded on Vitameatavegamin (“Are you unpoopular? Do you pop out at parties?”), “Job Switching” where Lucy and Ethel can’t keep up on the chocolate candy assembly line and start stuffing the excess candies in their mouths; Lucy’s classic “mirror” routine with Harpo Marx; and “Lucy Does the Tango” which was responsible for the longest recorded live laugh in TV history. Netflix the first four seasons ASAP.

South Park (1997-present)
Rude, crude and socially unacceptable, the show was once referred to as a “threat to American democracy.” It’s also sly, clever, irreverent, socially relevant and, entering its fifteenth season, still freakin hysterical. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, bless you boys. Red rocket! Red rocket!

The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Quality writing and some of the finest acting in the history of the medium (though I worry that Gandolfini will be able to escape Tony’s shadow). It managed the amazing feat of getting viewers to turn in week after week to watch the actions of a group of sociopathic morons—and to care about them. It also had a demented sense of humor (“Pine Barrens,” the episode where Paulie and Christopher get lost in the woods, is sublime). Mafia pop-culture on a par with The Godfather movies and Goodfellas.

Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)
For five seasons this was the smartest show on TV. It went places few shows have gone, asking important questions about religion and the nature of life, without becoming pedantic, losing its fast pace, or scrimping on the action. Gaius Baltar was, I believe, a dream role for an actor, and one of the most intricate characters on TV. Plus, Katee Sackhoff is a full-on scorch-cake. Smarts and hotties. What more could anyone want?

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
The first major offering from Steven Bochco, HSB completely revolutionized the cop drama by presenting cops and their jobs in a much more realistic light. It plays a tad dated today (“Drop the gun, you turkey!”) but its grittiness was considered downright offensive by some pundits when it debuted. The acting was superior, and several characters—DA Joyce Davenport, Captain Frank Furillo, Detective Mick Belker and Officer Andy Renko—are now icons of ‘80s TV. Sadly, due to legal wrangling, only seasons 1 & 2 are currently available on DVD. I wish FOX would get off its ass and get the remaining seasons ready to go. “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978)
I personally think Bob Newhart is one of the funniest humans ever. His dead-pan delivery can render even a silly line a thing of comedic beauty. Many of the show’s best moments came in the office scenes (Newhart, you’ll recall, played a psychologist) and his endless stream of goofy patients, notably the sarcastic Mr. Carlin, as well as Newhart’s office-mate, Jerry the dentist, and the secretary Carol Kestrel, played by the wonderful Marcia Wallace of later Simpsons fame. Watching Newhart do his classic bits on the telephone makes the world a little bit sunnier.

The Ernie Kovacs Show (1952-1956)
Only after his death did the world wake up to the genius that was Ernie Kovacs. His show broke all kinds of new ground and his surreal, visual style influenced, among others, Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, the members of Monty Python and Saturday Night Live (especially Chevy Chase), and, in a big way, Sesame Street. Lots of Kovacs’ work was ad-libbed, born of his creative philosophy: “I do my best work when it’s three o’clock and I have a production meeting at three-thirty.” Words to live by.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
What is there to say? When you mention “British Comedy,” it’s the Pythons who first spring to mind. They are responsible for more giggles than most other TV comedies combined. It’s hard to trace their influence, though you can hear their echoes in the work of Douglas Adams, Rowan Atkinson, The Kids in the Hall, and, albeit in a much more ham-fisted and less witty vein, Will Ferrell. But they were, and remain, pretty much beyond anything but direct imitation. The years of the Pythons formed a perfect storm of comedy perfection.

The Daily Show (1996-present)
Some might argue that the show’s success is a troubling development in our country, seeing as how it’s one of the only sources of edgy political commentary on the air. During the bleak Bush years, the Daily Show did the work that should have been done by our national news media. And that is sad. But the show is also damn smart and damn funny. Here’s to another fifteen years.

And the Most Overrated:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
     Ruined vampires for the whole world.

     The six most annoying people in the whole world.

Twin Peaks
     Good twitchy fun for over-caffeinated semiotics majors.

     It’s physically impossible for me to suspend my disbelief to the degree required to watch this.

American Idol
     Scales aren’t singing. Anti-art trash. (Except for Jennifer Hudson.)

Jersey Shore
     The next six most annoying people in the world. I just keep whispering shark attack to myself. And smiling.

Six Feet Under
     Characters with lives even more morose than death. It’s enough to make Baal suck on a shotgun.

Desperate Housewives
     Why are they desperate? Cuz that’s the only emotion their programmers loaded in them.

Sex and the City
     They never find true love because they are self-centered, shallow, vapid idiots.

The X-Files
     Treating logic and reason like Booth treated Lincoln.

Til next time, friends: treat yourself to some good TV.

Oh, and by the way, Bristol Palin is still a cum-belching gutter slut.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Did Stupidity Become a Virtue?

I try to be a reasonable guy. You know, think carefully, weigh my words, see varying sides to an issue, attempt to debate in rational way by skipping the hyperbole, etc.

Well, not anymore. I’ve had a few cocktails, and I feel like screaming about a few things.

There’s shit going on in this country that boggles my fucking mind. When did stupidity become a virtue? FUCK!

Mike Huckabee & Michael Medved

This pair of fuckwits spent March 4th bashing Natalie Portman for being pregnant out of wedlock, and for having to audacity to appear at the Oscars in her inflated state. Seems Ms. Portman (who is engaged, if that matters), is setting a bad example. “It's unfortunate” Huckabitch said, “that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children,” before going on to call such women no only unwed, but uneducated and unemployable.

Where were these two elephant dicks when Bristol Palin was dragging her fat, pregnant, out-of-wedlock ass all over the country? Contrary to Natalie Portman, Bristol is uneducated and unemployable. Portman has something real and wonderful to offer the world. Bristol Palin is a waste of mass and density that could surely be put to better use at a hog farm. Fuck that skanky cunt.

And fuck the elephant dick twins, too.

Scott Walker

When he’s not busy getting a reach-around from the Koch brothers, he’s busy lying his fucking eyes out. Hey, Governor Douchebag: Public sector workers make far less money than those in the private sector. Look at the studies. Look at your own state’s payroll and do a comparison. Or, hell, ask a twelve-year-old. You could even ask the guy who punked you on the phone and let us see your true, despicable colors.

I mean, talk about abuse of power! This weasely little twat sicced the Wisconsin State Patrol on the 14 democratic patriots who are holding up his foul, anti-worker legislation, and when that didn’t work, he tried to issue arrest warrants for them! And now he has threatened to lay off 1,500 state employees if the senators do not return to Madison. What a colossal prick.

But here’s the thing: If you like a 40-hour work week and an eight-hour day, thank a union. If you are one of those rare Americans who make a living wage, thank a union. If you get overtime pay, thank a union. If your company picks up some or all of your health insurance, thank a union. If you enjoy the occasional paid holiday, thank a union. If you got decent job training, thank a union. If your company offers a pension plan, thank a union.

If you do not like these things, thank people like Scott Walker and his un-American, atavistic, Tea Bagger, leash-holders.

Scott Walker: You are a ridiculous buffoon. You are a joke. You are undeserving of what America has to offer. No matter how wide the Koch Brothers stretch your anus.

Rev. Grant Storms

Another of the “God hates fags” kind of Christian, the good reverend from Louisiana loves to arm his flock with bullhorns so they can disrupt gay-pride events and funerals. I wonder what his “God” has to say about fucking pedophiles? He’d better be wondering, too, seeing as he got busted this week for masturbating in his van while watching children playing on a merry-go-round. In true Christian fashion, his supporters were quick to come to Storms’ defense. It seems that he merely had to have a pee and chose to urinate in a bottle rather than walk to a restroom. Yeah, well, guess what? Two different people witnessed, up close and oh-so-horribly personal, Storms choking his wrinkly chicken. He's guilty. He's a scumbag.

Fuck him and fuck his scraggly-ass, cracker God.

John Boehner

What can you say? The man in an emotionally unstable train wreck. He cries all the time. I’m all for a good old-fashioned vent, but come on. There’s venting, and then there’s the fucking abyss. My 84-year-old Uncle, a combat helicopter pilot and rancher, refers to Boehner as that "Yellow Man.” Truer words have never been spoken. And just once, wouldn’t you like to see the Weeper of the House get all wet-eyed over something worth-while? For poor people he has nothing but loathing, but a picture of an apple pie superimposed over a waving American flag sends him into paroxysms of soggy emotion.

If he’s faking, he’s a loathsome toad. If it’s all on the up-and-up, he’s a fucking basket case.

And either way, America deserves better.

Congressman Paul Broun

Last week, this Georgia ‘Bagger held a town hall meeting, during which one of his inbred constituents asked “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” Instead of jumping down the guy’s throat for threatening to assassinate the President, he simply oozed on by and continued taking questions. Oh, he was upset, though. He claims. So upset, in fact, it took him three fucking days to come out and say so. Three days. What was he doing during that time? He was paralyzed with shock, I guess. Or, and this is mere speculation, of course, could it have been the three days of public outcry that finally got him off his worthless ass? Hmmmm. Guess we’ll never know.

Is Paul Broun the sort of man we want leading our nation? Of course not.

Paul Broun isn’t the sort of man I want washing my car.

The Tea Party vs. The Founding Fathers

The Tea Baggers have pick-pocketed the name of their “movement” from a seminal event in American History, and they giggle like little girls when comparing themselves to the Founding Fathers.

Here’s a news flash for ya, dickheads: the Founding Fathers would’ve hated you. Our Founders were the very definition of the “elites” that ‘Baggers hold in such black esteem. They were some of the best minds in the Western world—statesmen, orators, inventors, philosophers, scientists—and they would’ve seen you for exactly what you are: rubes—disinterested, sloppy-minded, uncurious, arrogant rubes. Hillbillies in BMWs; klanners gone Wall Street.

Some poll results came out over the weekend indicating that the ‘Baggers now see themselves as an oppressed minority. I’m sorry that was my bad ear. White middle-class men an oppressed minority? Guys: you aren’t oppressed, you are the oppressors.

If you “Baggers love America as much as you claim (and as much as Boehner snivels), stop dividing it. Stop applauding the stupid and reviling the intelligent. Grow some better expectations. Join the democracy.

Or, you know, you can always go fuck your mother.


(That’s Foreign-Talk for goodbye…)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Adventures with Nature, Part II

Once again, I find my thoughts turning to our furry chums in the animal world. This time, though, I’m not interested in how the redneck doofwads around here treat them, but more in the critters themselves. How they behave, to be exact. Puzzling out what motivates their often mysterious and weird behaviors is a constant source of happiness for me. Yeah, I’m a geek. So what.

The Great Polecat Massacree

I had reason to leave my little town this week for a drive down to the throbbing, visceral metropolis of Oklahoma City. Couple of hours there, couple of hours back. No biggie. It’s an easy drive along friendly roads. Easy for me, at least. I’d wager that the local skunk population, if polled, would offer a different and much darker view of the thing. See, over the course of my drive I counted no fewer than twenty-one dead skunks on the road.

Roadkill is far from unusual here in Oklahoma (it is, I believe, the State Animal), but the only dead beasts I saw were skunks. There wasn’t a single porcupine, raccoon, armadillo, or deer to be seen. I saw three in one 150-yard stretch of highway. What exactly is happening with les skunks de pew?

Driving along, I formed, and rejected, numerous hypotheses. Just for fun. An outbreak of suicidal stupidity in the polecat community? Nah. Daredevil teenaged skunks playing chicken with the iron horses? Nah. A mass migration—a sort of new Okie Land Rush—waddling forth to establish a new Skunk Frontier? Nah, and nah again.

The answer, I think, is fairly simple. We had a cold spell a few weeks ago where temperatures quite unreasonably refused to climb above single digits. When that pattern broke, the highs abruptly soared into the seventies. Trees started to bud and the wheat fields sprouted a carpet of green fuzz. Spring is awake and stretching the kinks from her muscles, even if, according to the calendar, she’s just a hair premature.

Ma Nature’s precipitate arrival has roused the local skunk population from its long winter doze, and the first thing on the minds of newly-awakened mammals is finding some nosh, followed immediately by getting busy making more mammals.

Skunk populations rise and fall naturally, due to all sorts of factors, and they occasionally spike, which is what seems to be happening now, leaving us with a surplus of the randy little stinkpots, all of them rampaging around looking for groceries and a bit of the ol’ slap-n-tickle. Their pursuits lead them far and wide, which means encountering the random motorway or two, and, well, the rest is street-pizza.

And there it is—the Great Polecat Massacree, explained.

I guess.

Leapin’ Largemouths

I’ve mentioned in past missives that my favorite Aunt and Uncle own a farm near my little town, and on that farm is a marvelous spring-fed pond, where, since I was six years old, I’ve spent as much time as humanly possibly, extracting largemouth bass.

Over the years I’ve noticed a growing predilection among the piscine masses. After you hook them, they jump. Just like they do on those goofy Saturday afternoon programs ESPN 27 shows in between the slam-dunk challenge for the infirm and extreme curling from Zimbabwe. They used to jump every so often, but rarely with much gusto. Nowadays, them come clean out of the water, shaking and thrashing like Fred Phelps at a drag club.

What we have here is an example of, not adaptation, but evolution in action. Non-jumping fish are more easily captured than their jumping brethren. When a fish jumps it lessens the tension on the line, making it easier to shake free of the hook. Getting off the hook means staying out of the fry-pan. So, the instinct to jump is a valuable one to have for a fish who wishes to hang around a while longer, engaging in his fishy business. One of the more vital items on a fish’s agenda is getting together with a fetching lady fish and cranking out a school of fingerlings. Jumping fish are more likely to stay waterbound long enough to accomplish the task, at which time they genetically pass the jumping behavior along to their young ‘uns. And so it goes, until you get a pond full of harder-to-land jumping bass, and thus a healthier local ecosystem all the way around.

I am willing to admit, however, that they might just be acting smart-alecky. You know how fish can be…

The Sociopathic Turtle

The ponds and rivers of Oklahoma are rife with turtles. We have ordinary (read: non-alligator) snapping turtles, unbelievably ugly smooth softshells (they look like slimy brown cake platters with clawed feet), and, the most common of the bunch, red-eared sliders.

Every healthy waterhole needs a few turtles (not to mention frogs, mosquitos, fish and predatory mammals and birds). But let me stress the word few. Too many turtles and they throw the whole balance of the place out of whack. They eat carrion, which is all to the good, but they also feast on fish eggs; can’t get enough of ‘em. Their dining habits can all but depopulate a fishing hole in no time. So I’m a bit ambivalent on the testudines. Though I remain openly hostile toward one particular member of the order.

One bright afternoon I was standing in my favorite spot on the shore of my Uncle’s pond, casting and reeling, casting and reeling. I was using a rubber lure, designed to look like an immature bass-trout-perch, and its action in the water imitated a wounded fish. Silly as they sound, they are pretty effective—and at $6 each, they’d better be. Some few minutes had elapsed between strikes, and I let the lure come to rest in a couple of inches of water at my feet while I lit a smoke. In the time it took me to tug a cigarette from the pack and put fire to it, a red-eared slider glided up from the muck, homed in on the lure, and, with one snap of its scaly beak, bit it in half.

“Hey!” I hollered. “You little bastard.” And I swatted him with the tip of my pole, which sent him flailing back into the deeps—like most living things, turtles look completely ridiculous when they hurry—the tail end of the rubber fish flapping in its jaws.

I examined my exenterated lure, chalked it in the loss column, and fitted another like it onto the swivel. Aiming for a new patch of shoreline, I maneuvered along the bank about fifty yards, and started casting again. No more than two minutes expired before I happened to glance down at the water beneath me, and there he was. That same damn turtle; looking up at me with his oil-bead eyes. How’d I know it was the same turtle? Don’t they all look alike? In their gross anatomy, yes, they do, but since they spend most of their time frolicking in the bottom-ooze, they often develop individualized patterns of moss on their shells. The Lure Biter had a distinct scalloped-shaped design in the back half of his carapace. Oh, it was him, alright.

And he seemed to be waiting for another snack.

“Piss off,” I said. He did not. “Go on. I got nothin’ for ya.”

I moved another few feet along. He followed, never lowering his head below the surface. I moved again. So did he. I threw a stick at him. He pinwheeled away. I relocated. He returned. I cursed at him. He remained unfazed. This went on for—I kid you not—nearly 45 minutes, as I fished my way around the pond. If my lure came near him, he attacked. If it slowed in the shallows, he went for it like a homing reptile. Once I got him to crawl all the way onto the bank by twitching the rubber fish along in front of him through the mud, at which point I pinged a rock off his shell and he left me alone…for nearly three minutes.

By this time he’d twisted my entire angling outlook sideways. I was being stalked by a turtle. I couldn’t concentrate on accuracy or control because I kept watching for his inevitable return. And though I am not proud of what happened next, it is what happened. Back at my tacklebox, I rummaged my .22 revolver from its leather holster and waited, turtlecide on my mind.
He appeared only moments later, totally unaware of his impending journey to Turtle Heaven. I raised the pistol…

…and my phone rang.

It was my good friend Cal. We chatted for a few minutes (the turtle maintained his ceaseless vigilance) before she asked why I sounded distracted. I explained about my harasser, and she burst out laughing (which is what I should’ve been doing), and said “Oh, that’s so cute! You have a friend!”

“I don’t want a friend,” I said. “I have all of those I require.”

We went on for some few minutes debating the pro and cons of turtle camaraderie, until I came to my senses. That turtle should thank Cal for saving his reptilian biscuits.

I’ve fished that pond two dozen times since first meeting the sociopathic young Yertle, and I’ve seen him almost every time. Seen him, yes, but not been stalked by him. These days he ignores me totally. Once, when the fish weren’t biting I tried to entice him with a rubber fish, but he was having none of it. Disdain, about sums it up.

If there’s an explanation for his behavior on that singularly bizarre afternoon, I’m damned if I know what it is. I’m guessing he was just really hungry. If that’s the case, I’m glad they don’t hunt in packs. It has ‘70s B-movie written all over it. And I'm not sure I'm in good enough shape to outrun a turtle...