“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

VTILII potpourri

A few polite individuals out there told me they miss my political writings. It’s true, I’ve been avoiding these columns. The fact is, this country has gone so far into cuckoo clock land that it’s easier not to think about it or dwell on it too long. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do but it’s what I find myself having to do to avoid having a spontaneous culturally afflicted coronary. You gotta be careful, especially these days. I mean who knows what could happen. Let me just make it very very clear… if I end up brain dead in some hospital somewhere, pull the damn plug. If your toaster don’t work, you don’t leave it plugged in, man.

I mean I understand that that Terry Schiavo business was complicated. The husband wants one thing, the parents want another, that’s a tough one. And I haven’t heard them say this in so many words but I figure with the gays going around unsanctifying marriage left and right, the republicans had no choice but to ignore the husband’s point of view. It wasn’t sanctified enough to stick. In a 100% ungay, sanctitiously married world, the republicans would’ve definitely sided with the sanctity of the marriage, states rights, small government, don’t tread on me, etc. But all this fruitiness they saw on TV once makes them batty, they get confused and start having opinions that appear to us to be diametrically opposed to what they said was their opinion yesterday.

What I’m saying though is, I can imagine exactly one fate worse than rotting away over decades as an electrified cucumber, and that’s becoming an unwilling prop for republican wacko-baiting. They’re all pulling a Weekend at Bernies, pretending she’s aware of what’s going on around her. It wasn’t very convincing, but let’s say they were right. That would be even worse! What if somebody left a TV on and she had seen some of those speeches? Some hypocritical asshole up there pretending to be all choked up, talking about “this beautiful young woman” and calling her by her first name like he knew her personally, like he grew up with her, helped her set up her first lemonade stand. If that ever happens to me, please, FOR GOD’S SAKE, please give me the ol’ Old Yeller.

I mean look, I’m not naive, I understand that those shitheads don’t really believe all that bullshit they’re spewing. “Err on the side of life,” “culture of life,” and all that coming from the monsters responsible for the Fallujah massacre? Good one, guys. But what I don’t get is what the hell kind of political points they thought they were gonna score from that fiasco? I know it looks different on TV, but I don’t buy this notion that euthanasia is an issue that average americans are all that concerned about. When their dog is sick they put him to sleep, and if their loved ones are braindead for 15 years… well, they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it, which they probaly won’t.

The belief that putting someone out of their misery is never an option… I don’t think it’s all that normal. Or if it is, most people aren’t passionate enough about it to talk about it very often. Only guy I remember making a big deal about it in the ten or fifteen years before this mess was Michael Medved when MILLION DOLLAR BABY came out. And if these people are gonna hold up fuckin Michael Medved as an example of the average American, well, then that speaks for itself.

And of course it’s okay to be in the minority or to not be normal. I know how that is. But I don’t remember these assholes ever pandering to me. I just don’t understand the strategy of putting on a circus only for a small sliver of the population. From what I’ve read, polls showed that the majority of Americans would want to be unplugged if they were in Schiavo’s shoes, and a larger majority thought that Congress was completely out of line trying to get involved in the whole thing. And Congress’s approval ratings are now at the lowest they’ve been since right after they impeached Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the wackos swore vengeance on Jeb Bush for not personally rapelling through the skylight with a syringe between his teeth, hooking Schiavo up to a cable and helicoptering her to Dick Cheney’s secret underground medical bunker where they would use alien technology to respark her consciousness.

So whatever they were trying to pull, it looks like they blew it pretty spectacularly. Nice try though, assholes.

Anyway, it’s been a while, so let’s hit a few different topics. This’ll be the VERN TELL’S IT LIKE IT IS potpourri.

1. “THIS LITTLE COUNTRY OF OURS.” I can’t find any articles about this, but maybe someone else heard it or could find somewhere to verify it. Listening to CBS news on the radio a couple mornings ago, I swear on Christ’s Holy balls that I heard Rumsfeld use that phrase to describe Iraq. I think it was on the 12th, he was addressing troops in Iraq and the point of the CBS story was that the troops were hoping to get news about going home soon but instead he condescendingly scolded them. I’d have to paraphrase what he said because I don’t have it written down, but the soundbite was basically many of us would rather not be in this little country of ours, we would rather be home. But too fuckin bad. Shit happens.

Anyway, point is, that’s how he thinks of Iraq: “this little country of ours.” That’s the one redeemable quality he has, he’s so fuckin nuts that he can’t stop himself from saying everything he’s not supposed to say in public.

2. OFFERING AN ALTERNATIVE. Just like the stunt with the braindead gal, this social security scam seems like it’s blown up in Bush’s face. But I still can’t let him get away with some of the propaganda catch phrases he actually gets them to repeat on the news. I heard them say that Bush was tired of democrats criticizing his plan for private accounts “without offering an alternative.” Dumbass – the alternative is not having private accounts. It’s like:

BUSH: I propose that we change RED traffic lights to BLUE!

DEMOCRATS: That’s ridiculous, blue is too close to green, people would get confused. And why do we need to change it anyway? You’re not making any sense at all.

BUSH: There you go again, criticizing my plan without offering an alternative.

DEMOCRATS: The alternative is to NOT change red to blue. Keep it red.

BUSH: That’s not an alternative. That’s what it already is, red.

DEMOCRATS: We don’t want to change it to blue, there is no reason to.

BUSH: No reason? Innocent Americans are killed in traffic accidents every day! They should be changed to blue! Also I propose that we won’t wear any pants!

DEMOCRATS: Not w– you said not wear pants? I don’t–

BUSH: Once again, the democrats are criticizing my not wearing any pants plan without offering an alternative.

DEMOCRATS: But… the alternative is… wearing pants.

BUSH: That’s not an alternative. An alternative is like, we’ll wear shorts, or we’ll wear clownpants or something. I already said no pants.

DEMOCRATS: I don’t… are you– I mean I guess we could pull them down part way or something.

Within two months republicans will stop wearing pants and will always wear Jesus style robes. Only on the third Friday of the month (casual Friday) they’ll be allowed to wear either a Passion of the Christ promo t-shirt or a giant yellow ribbon with a Frank Frazetta style painting of a shirtless Ronald Reagan pinned to the front.

3. That reminds me. THE NEW CUT OF PASSION OF THE CHRIST. I still haven’t seen the old cut but I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if the new one was called THE PASSION RENAILED? I think it would be cool.

4. POPE-MANIA. Look man, I don’t want to be a dick, but now more than ever doesn’t it look like the Pope should’ve accepted my proposal for him to go to Baghdad as a human shield before the bombs dropped? You see now how much everybody liked that guy, there’s no way they could’ve dropped bombs on him. It would’ve been great! Worst case scenario, they do drop bombs on him – so he misses out on 2 frustrating years, but he makes it harder for the 24 hour cable eulogists to leave out the part about him calling the war illegal and immoral. Meanwhile, Catholics woulda raised holy hell and Bush probaly woulda been out of there last November. Fuckin Pope-killer.

5. BOLTON, NEGROPONTE, RICE, GONZALEZ, etc. It’s kind of like an initiation at this point. Once you’ve proven yourself to Bush by being a right wing idealogue maniac, undeniably inept and unqualified, a human rights abuser and preferably an Iran-Contra felon, you are ready for your promotion. The initiation is, you go to a hearing and democrats may or may not point out some of the horrible things you’ve done and how scary it is that you are being rewarded for your failures as a public servant and as a human being. That’s it, now you get confirmed. It’s not even like fraternity hazing, it’s more like when you become a cheerleader, they wake you up early, paint your face and make you go to school in pajamas. But the next day everybody forgets it and you’re a cheerleader. This is the same thing, except thousands of people will die.

6. MEANWHILE, CONGRESS PASSES HORRIFYING NEW BILLS. While everybody’s distracted by the braindead lady in the hospital, congress keeps coming up with horrifying new ways to punish you. For example, this new bankruptcy bill, which has no possible benefit to anyone except credit card companies. Or the drilling in Alaska, did you hear they passed that one? The one that will finally allow Big Oil to literally fuck the earth. These sickos have been drooling for years at the idea of sticking their big drill into the virgin soil of the Arctic Reserve, and now they finally get to do it.

I’m no environmental expert, I don’t spend alot of time thinking about these issues. But it’s just common sense that we, as humans, would like to still have, like, the earth to live on. In my opinion. Preferably with animals and plants and shit. And all concerned seem to agree that we’re throwing away this untouched wildlife refuge for a very small amount of oil that will hold us over maybe six months.

What I’m saying is, this is not a plan you do for the oil money, because it just wouldn’t be worth it for that. This is something you could only possibly want to do just because you know it’s insane. You know what it’s exactly like is killing a homeless dude. You don’t do it for the three dollars and forty-two cents change you find in his pockets afterwards. You do it because you’re a sicko fuck who enjoys killing homeless people. That’s exactly what these republicans are doing.

7. MICHAEL JACKSON. Man, that day the Robert Blake trial and the Scott Peterson trial wrapped up on the same day – I was praying Michael Jackson’s charges would be dropped. Then every employee of Court TV would’ve shriveled up and disappeared like when you kill the queen alien, and the corporate offices would’ve been sucked into the wicked portal it came out of in the first place. And there’d just be a beautiful meadow there, with deer and birds and stuff. (until the republicans started drilling.)

Anyway, not to dwell on this freak show (I try not to even hear about it) but I happened to hear one story last week, some security guy for Michael Jackson testified that he saw Michael giving some kid a blow job. My question is, if Jackson is convicted, are they gonna put these people on trial too? Because if he’s really been molesting kids, wouldn’t it have been nice if the people who knew for sure it was happening would’ve, like, done SOMETHING? (SOMETHING meaning something along the lines of “reporting him,” not something along the lines of “continuing to work for him because it pays well.”)

8. And as long as we’re getting away from politics, I want to gripe about FUCKING iPODS. Okay, I get it, I understand why it’s an invention that people like. It’s a cool idea to be able to store all the songs you want on a chip and basically have your whole record collection in your pocket. And they make them look cool too, Macintosh knows how to make all their gadgets look sleek and desirable. They know what the fuck they’re doing.

But as digital as I try to be I gotta admit, my heart still has a couple analag ventricles in it. And I gotta lament for some of the shit that I think the ipod device is gonna kill. Number one and most important is the classic art of the album. Remember when you could sit down and listen to an album from beginning to end and the whole thing was a solid piece of art? Most people would give Sergeant Pepper as an example. Or Songs in the Key of Life. Or What’s Goin On would be a good one also. Or Black Sabbath Paranoid. Lots of good ones.

There are still people trying to make good solid albums, just outside of the mainstream where it’s all about the single. The one catchy song that makes you buy the album. They make CDs now that feel like mix tapes, every song has a different guy making the music and trying to imitate some different style. Or every other song has some guest star you hate and you gotta skip that track.

And I think the ipod only encourages that approach. Because what the hell kind of sense does it make to have an “album” when you’re dealing with a computer file? The whole point of an album is, this is what fits on a record. Now the medium is a sortable list of computer files, a mix and match. If ipods is the way most people listen to music, it doesn’t make sense to make art based on the limitations of the old format. Except that the old format was superior. In my opinion.

And along with the album goes the album cover. No more album art if it’s just a computer file. Maybe they’ll start working artwork onto the files to appease us oldtimers, but shit, looking at a screen doesn’t hold a candle to holding a solid object in your hand. You know that, that’s why you keep meaning to buy my book.

The other thing I don’t like is dudes walkin around with headphones on 24-7. I know walkmans’ve been around for eons, but since ipods are smaller and less clunky and considered cool in some circles now, you see way more of the headphones. And this really makes me an old timer but I remember the days when people would walk around and like, notice the world around them. Or you could go up and talk to them or something. “hey how’s it goin jack” and they’re like “hey” and they nod or whatever. Not no more if the guy’s wearing an ipod machine.

I don’t know why I’m complaining. It’s no skin off my balls. But it used to be if you’re riding on the bus you’re either 1) talking to somebody else on the bus or 2) (preferably) minding your own god damn business. Now days most people are either plugged into the ipod or (much, much worse) having a loud, inane conversation on their cellular telephone device. You always gotta have the stimuli, and looking out the window or reading a book doesn’t count.

It just makes me sad because I see these people every day and I just wonder why they are so afraid to shut the fuck up for a minute, enjoy the quiet and be alone with their thoughts. What do they think will happen? Or do they get to think long enough to think about what will happen if they have to think for longer than that?

So I’m sad. I shed a tear for you. That is my gift to the bearers of ipods and cell phones. A single tear of sympathy.

Okay, I’m done, you can go back to listening to your computer files now.

thanks,

Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2005 at 8:31 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “VTILII potpourri”

  1. God damn, this was an awesome column. Everyone should revisit this one.

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