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January 30, 2010


sepatbirth.jpg I picked a terrible time to focus on songwriting and neglect my duties here at RATYHTL, as the last two weeks have been packed solid with fascinating news: Pat Robertson blamed the Haitian earthquake on voodoo, whereas Danny Glover blamed it on Global Warming; James O'Keefe, the man behind the ACORN videos, was caught tampering with a Senator's phone, and a plane was forced to land at Philly International because the passengers had never seen a Jew before [OK, that's an oversimplification, but it looks good in print]. Oh, and there may or may not have been a cover-up of three murders at Gitmo.

But, for me at least, the most interesting piece of news to surface over the last few weeks was the arrest of one Charles Dyer for child rape and sodomy.

Dyer, a twenty-nine-year-old former Marine Sargent who lives in Oklahoma, had appeared in a number of videos on YouTube using the handle "July4Patriot": often openly referring to himself as a terrorist. Here's one Dyer's more interesting rants:

Dyer was also one of the founding members of a group called Oath keepers (Did they mean "oaf keepers"?) and spoke at several Tea Party events. As mentioned above, Dyer was arrested a couple of weeks ago for raping a seven-year-old girl. Which is twisted enough, but the icing on the obviously vanilla cake is that when the police raided Dyer's no doubt tastefully decorated home they found a 40-millimeter grenade launcher, which was apparently stolen from Fort Irwin, although Dyer claims it was "a gift from a friend" (and all I ever get are ties).

It was with Dyer's arrest that his Teabaggin' buddies shifted into high gear, reportedly threatening the Sheriff who arrested Dyer as well as anyone who reports on the story [Come and get me, you pansies!]

I will say one positive thing about Mr. (soon to be "Ms.", if those stories I've heard about what goes on in prison are true) Dyer; he vicariously managed to reacquaint me with a word I'd long forgotten. I was discussing the Dyer case with a friend who said, "You know what they out to do to that guy?", and - before my friend could offer up the punishment he had in mind - I blurted out a word I hand not used, or even thought about, for that matter, in many years: Rhaphanidosis!

Rhaphanidosis was the punishment in ancient Greece for adultery. Basically, it involved hammering a radish (which used to be ...um... larger and pointier than the ones we're used to seeing) up the accused adulterer's backside. It's where we get the sadly too seldom used verb raphanizein - meaning "to insert a radish into the fundament" - from. Come to think of it, the word fundament doesn't get used often enough either.

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January 29, 2010

Aid or Invade plus Weekend Roundup

Has it really been two weeks since my last post? Damn, time flies when you're an unstable misanthrope. Major apologies. Regular posts will begin immediately; starting with this mini-post:

all_seeing_eye1.jpg The latest Aid or Invade was posted yesterday. Is it just me, or is AoI starting to run out of steam.

If you dare to brave the cold weather this Sunday, Decontrol, the Tough Shits, Hellbent Hookers, and many others will be playing at Fishstock at the El Bar.

Take us out international superstar Erika LaMoore...

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January 15, 2010

Acapulcolypse Gold

Like it or not (and, despite a small amount of of amusement, I'm firmly in the "not" category) we live in an Apocalypse Culture. This guy insists that we have until May 21, 2011 (my 48th birthday!), while this joker (and sad, lonely teabagger who discovered the previously unknown correlation between Gays and earthquakes) is convinced that the Tribulation began on 29 September 2008; and he has written a book that proves it! For the more scientifically oriented, there's Global Climate Change and asteroids. If the "experts" are correct, the odds are pretty damn good that you will be dead long before you finish reading this post. Good luck.

One of the more interesting aspects of End Times Mania has been the Right's new-found obsession with the bad investment opportunity that is GOLD. Now, I had intended to write a piece about why so many Right Wingers are shilling for gold companies, and why putting your hard-earned cash into gold is the worst idea since Charlie Daniels decided to make his deepest thoughts public, but I was beaten to the punch by Politico who recently published this piece

...and by The Colbert Report

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Prescott Financial Sells Gold, Women & Sheep
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

Since I was feeling sort of lazy today, finding out that my work had already been done for me (and done much better than I ever could've) was like striking gold.

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January 13, 2010

Them's Fightin' Words: Car Talk

A few days back, I needed a new drill bit, so I swung by the hardware store around the corner. When the clerk informed me that the drill bit I required was out-of-stock, I quipped, "Well, it looks like little Billy won't be getting his fillings this week." The clerk then gave me that look: the look that says. "What sort of sick individual would even think something like that, let alone actually say it."

It's the same look I get whenever I mention that I have a deep-seated hatred for NPR's Car Talk.

I like to think that I'm a nice guy. I'm kind to animals; I never talk down to kids; my wife says that I'm a good husband; and I enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like a cup of yerba mate and reading my friend Brian's thoughts on that day's episode of Divorce Court. So why is it that I all I have to do is even hint that Cah Tawk is the least funny thing to grace the airwaves since FDR's wheelchair ignited during one of his fireside chats, and suddenly I'm having that "Joe Pesci in Goodfellows" conversation:

Friend: How can you hate Car Talk? I love Car Talk. Everybody loves Car Talk!

Me: Why? Why do you like it?

Friend: I dunno. 'Cuz it's funny?

Me: Funny how?

Friend: I dunno. It's just...funny.

Me: Oh, I see. So it amuses you. It's your clown.

Now, it's usually at this point - right about when I'm ready to pull a gun - that someone feels the need to remind me that humor is subjective and rarely, if ever, do two people see eye-to-eye on what is funny. I couldn't agree more. I'm am not an expert on what is funny. What I am is an expert on what is not funny: Schindler's List, for example is not funny (despite the presence of some very silly German accents). Puppy mills are not funny. Cardinal Bernard Law getting away scot-free was not funny. And Car Talk is not funny.

Unlike the people who enjoy Car Talk but can never seem to provide a coherent reason as to why they find it amusing, I can tell you exactly why it isn't funny: Car Talk labors under the misguided notion that "regular people" laugh at dumb humor in much the same same way that the Yuppies behind A Prairie Home Companion have deluded themselves into thinking that residents of rural communities have a rustic, folksy charm that those of us who have actually encountered them refer to as "Cretanism".

In other words, and I'm sorry if this offends any of my friends, I suspect that the people who laugh at Car Talk are, in a way, saying, "'Dewey, Cheatum, & Howe!' Hahaha! See? I'm not so stuffy and well educated that I'm not above laughing at dumb jokes." It's like when a nuclear physicist laughs at a Three Stooges short. He or she knows damn well that the Three Stooges are slightly less funny than Stevie Wonder performing a colonoscopy, but they laugh anyway in a fruitless attempt to connect with... I dunno...people who laugh at the Three Stooges, I guess.

The truth is that you are above laughing at dumb jokes. That's nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you should take pride in that. It doesn't make you a stick-in-the-mud or a snob if you don't laugh at fart jokes. It just makes you an adult.

And who the Hell takes automotive advice from people who live in Boston anyway? Have you ever been to Boston? If so, did you see how the people there drive? It's like asking a Scotsman for culinary tips.

Normally, I would just ignore Car Talk in much the same manner as I ignore American Routes (AKA "The White offspring of the Privileged Class listen to The Blues), but the problem is that, here in Philly, Car Talk immediately follows On The Media and This American Life (two shows that are roughly six billion times more funny and informative than Car Talk could ever hope to be) - which is like following Monty Python and The Young Ones with Benny Hill. This means that as soon as TAM ends, I have to leap across the room and turn off my radio before either one of the humorously-challenged hosts of Car Talk can utter a single syllable. Silencing them is well worth the effort.


January 11, 2010

Why Things Suck and How to Fix Them Part 462: The History Channel

If you're like me - and, these days, who isn't? - then you can remember a halcyon era, not too long ago, when MTV and VH1 showed music videos, The Learning Channel was bereft of chocolate-making Little People and deranged helmet-haired Talibangelicals, and the History Channel showed actual programs about History. Sadly those days, much like Charlie Daniels' few remaining brain cells, are gone.

Now, in the case of VH1, replacing Poison videos with a cruel social experiment involving Brett Michaels and a group women who were found hanging around the Modesto Free Clinic actually improved the network. Come to think of it, Teen Mom is much more of an "alternative" show than MTV's 120 Minutes ever was. And anyone who was surprised that, in the land of anti-intellectualism, a network called The Learning Channel would eventually morph into a Freak Show would also be shocked to learned that we almost elected a Vice President who didn't know that Africa was a continent.

But The History Channel? The History Channel was something different. It was the lifeboat many of us crawled into once PBS, suffering from a lack of government funding, began ceding airtime to thinly veiled infomercials and WASPs Gone Wild (aka The Antiques Roadshow). And while The History Channel still presents many wonderful programs like Cities of the Underworld, Ancient Discoveries, and Bad Girls Club, The History Channel has also become home to such as moronfests as MonsterQuest, UFO Hunters, and countless "specials" (as in short yellow bus "special") about Nostradamus and the Antichrist (AKA Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope Benedict XVI, Emperor Nero, and/or Barack Obama) .

And that (along with about a million other things) is what really melts my s'mores. Look; you don't have to make up History in order to make History interesting. Mount Vernon is a fascinating place - it's where the Father of Our Country grew hemp and made booze. You don't need to send a couple of cretinous "Ghost Hunters" out there in the dead of night to help the spirit of Thomas Jefferson find his bong. that's not exploring History. That's not popularizing History. That's polluting History.

If the general public thinks History is dull, then that's only because no one has told them that Francois Rabelais used to wipe his butt with a live goose (Let's see that on Animal Planet. The guy made Michael Vick look like Betty White). If you can find a way to make that tidbit more interesting by tossing in two old farts and a Ouija board, I'm all ears.


January 4, 2010

Household Hints for Historians


A few months back Vienna and I noticed that we were washing clean dishes. Often, when one of us was out of the house, the other would look at the dishes in the dishwasher and, not knowing whether or not they were clean or dirty, run them through the wash cycle again, just to be on the safe side.

In order to combat this wasteful tendency, we developed an iconographic method for keeping track of the state of our dishes. What makes this method fun is that it's based entirely on Vienna's great respect for Catherine of Aragon ... and her deep hatred of Anne Boleyn (whom Vienna refers to simply as "The Great Whore"). When dirty dishes are placed in the dishwasher, a small framed portrait of Anne Boleyn with the word "Dirty" inscribed upon it is displayed on the counter top. Once the dishwasher is turned on, the portrait of Anne is replace by one of Catherine marked "Clean".

If it were up to me, by the way, I would've used Emperors Constantine for "Dirty" and Julian for "Clean".

For me, the best thing about this method of keeping track of cutlery cleanliness is explaining it to mystified house-guests who spot the portraits in our kitchen.