Enemy Combatants

If the Justice Department gets its way, all they’ll have to do is declare you an “enemy combatant” in the War Against Terrorism and you will be stripped of all your rights: denied council, held indefinitely, and the courts will not be allowed to second-guess the decision to give you the “enemy combatant” label.

Next up: people suspected of being drug users are labeled “enemy combatants” in the War Against Drugs, and the homeless become “enemy combatants” in the War Against Poverty!

(I’m joking, of course. See, it’s funny because, unlike the War Against Terrorism, The War Against Drugs and the War Against Poverty are just catchy names given to ill-defined, undeclared “wars”. Plus, the idea that the US Government could just strip some of its citizens of their rights whenever they want is a laughably far-fetched idea. Laughably!)

My Abdomen Always Rings Twice

I bought one of those new cell phones that fit in your tooth last week and have been using it on and off since then. But this morning, while eating my Cap’n Crunch, it came loose and I swallowed it. I called the cell phone company but they said there was nothing they could do — I’d just have to wait a few days before I could, you know, get it back.

In the meantime, if you get a phone call and the caller ID says it’s from me DO NOT ANSWER!!

Watchin’ Tv At the Gym

  • All the tvs are muted, but the programs have close captioning. The problem is that they lag: when a segment starts the captions reflect what the person on screen is actually saying, but by the time the next commercial rolls around the video is usually several minutes ahead of the text. This results in the captioning for the show continuing on into the first minutes of the commercial break.

    Yesterday the first ad after a “CNN Headline News” segment showed Jamie Lee Curtis holding a cell phone in one hand and a big, metal bucket in the other. She spit into the bucket and then, according to the close captioning, said “That’s a major breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease!”

  • Does Oprah even host her own show any more? Every time I see it on, that guy, that Dr. Phil guy, is basically running things. He’s always sitting up there in the midst of one his convoluted and life-affirming metaphors, while the crowd nods and mutters “that’s true … that’s so true.” “Life is a grapefruit,” he says, “and a positive attitude is a grapefruit spoon — you know, those spoons with the point at the end that help you dig on into the grapefruit of life? And sure, sometimes life squirts you in the eye with juice, and sometimes life tastes a little sour, but if you eat the whole grapefruit you’ll get 80% of the daily recommended allowance of that Vitamin C we call ’empowerment’.
  • During a “news” story about the upcoming Webby Awards, CNN cut to a shot of a computer screen that was slowly downloading the front page of The Onion. In the lower right-hand corner of the shot they had the word “Live!” in bright red letters. It was uncanny how similar it was to actually watching the Onion page download over a 27.7k modem!
  • “You know, I think the American people would be a lot more enthusiastic about this “War Against Terror” if they added the “Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell!” guy and the “Can you hear me now? Good.” guy to the Axis of Evil.

Don’t Spend All My Love

I finally got so sick of that “Don’t Spend All My Love (In One Place)” song that I took action. You know the song I mean, the one by Friday Father that you hear on every radio station and at baseball games and on tv commercials, the one with the tune so awful yet catchy that you can’t get it our of your head for fortnights? Oh — hah hah, of course you don’t know the song, now. Well, trust me: this was the most obnoxious song of all time. Worse than “Who Let the Dogs Out,” even worse than the “Macarana” — it was terrible. So yesterday I went back in time and told Malcom Cander (grandfather to Stephen Cander, lead singer / songwriter for Friday Father) that I was his finacee’s lover, which caused him to call off his engagement to Katherine Sinceso. Since those two neither married nor had children, the existence of Stephen Cander was negated. And sure enough: when I returned the band was gone and the song never existed! Yay!

Of course some other stuff got screwed up too, as always happens when you change time like that: there’s a polio vaccine now (which is obviously a great side-effect) but apparently the Dominican Republic is no longer the 51st state. Despite all the changes, I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth it — that song was terrible! Well, I guess you wouldn’t agree, since you’ve never heard the song, now. To you everything must seem the same as it’s always been.

You know, it didn’t really occur to me until this moment that I’m not going to get any credit for doing this.

Cinerama Story

I was at in a bar yesterday evening and one of my companions told a great story that I am hereby stealing. I will endeavor to retell it as best I can.

First a bit of background. “SIFF” is the “Seattle International Film Festival”, an annual event during which many of the larger theaters suspend their usual schedules for a week or two and instead show foreign and “art house” films from around the world. Among the cinemas participating in SIFF this year is the Cinerama, Seattle’s largest, one-screen theater, which typically devotes itself to nothing but the biggest of big-screen pictures: Gladiator, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and, currently, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

The story:

So I’m working as a volunteer at the Cinerama for SIFF this year, and I was there just the other night when they were showing this real obscure documentary about the native people of the Himalayas who guide climbers up Mount Everest. Now SIFF volunteers usually get a few free passes for the films they work at, but they often have more than they need, and so they usually just give them away to someone outside the theater. Apparently that’s what happened here: someone had an extra ticket and just stopped a guy walking past the theater. He asked this guy if he wanted a free pass to the movie playing at the Cinerama, and the guy took it and was totally psyched.

So this guy, the guy who got the free pass, comes into the lobby and then charges in to the theater to get a seat. He’s totally excited about this free ticket. But not a whole lot of people were at this particular movie, and almost none of them were in the theater — they were all out in the lobby, talking and mingling. So after a while the guy comes back out and looks over the crowd in the lobby with this look of total bemusement on his face. Eventually he comes over to me and says “Hey, what’s the deal here? Why is everyone standing around in the lobby instead of going in to the theater?” You can tell this guy can’t wait for the movie to start.

So I say, “Well, there’s going to be, like, a pre-movie discussion out here.”

And the guy says “Really? That’s cool!” But I can tell that he’s thinking it’s kind of weird, and he doesn’t really know what to do. So he asks me, “Do we just, you know, walk around and talk to other people, or what?”

“Yeah, sure,” I reply, “But the discussion really starts when the director shows up. The guy who directed the movie is coming and will be talking to everyone.”

At this point the guy with the free ticket goes into paroxysms of excitement. “The director?!” He’s just going berserk. “The director is going to be here?! Oh my God! I’ve always wanted to meet George Lucas!!”

And at first I’m thinking “What is this dude talking about?” And then I’m like “Ohhhhhhh noooooooo …” So I say “Uh, yeah. Uh, you know that Star Wars isn’t playing tonight, right?” And the guy’s face just freezes, like he’s been shot. And I say “Yeah, tonight they’re showing SIFF movies.” And the guy is, like, “SIFF, what the hell is a SIFF?” And I point to his ticket, and he looks at it for what must be the first time. And there, in huge letters, it says Sherpa: Unsung Heroes. And he just deflates, like someone opened his air valve or something.

The funniest thing about this guy was that he flat-out refused to believe that he hadn’t scored a free ticket to see Star Wars. Even after I pointed out the movie title he was still like “So, wait: when is George Lucas showing up?” And he points to the stairs on the other end of the lobby and says “Where do those go? Are they showing Star Wars in that theater?” And I say “No, those go to the same theater you just came out of.” And he points to some other stairs says “What if I go up there?” And eventually I’m like “I’m totally sorry, dude, but you’re seein’ Sherpa.”

Write Your Own Political Thriller

Oh, so you want to write a political thriller? Okay, here’s your plot. Set it in the present — same time, same world, same middle-eastern crisis — except have both Pakistan and India in the World Cup. Then send an international team of espionage agents over to Japan to work behind the scenes, doing everything in their power to ensure that Pakistan and India do not, under any circumstances, meet in a soccer match. And then, of course — in spite of all the bribery and assassinations and underhanded machinations — the two teams do meet, in the championship I assume. Meanwhile, tensions between the two nations continue to spiral out of control, with troop build-up on both sides of the disputed region and leaders boasting about their willingness to use nuclear arms first. And the whole world tenses as the final match approaches, knowing that, regardless of who wins and who loses, this is going to be like a match to a fuse.

How does it end? I dunno. That’s why you are writing it and not me.

How Does Soap Work

Dear Answer Guy,

How does soap work?

Heather Kern,
Panda Springs, OH

Soap molecules are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. These three elements work in conjunction to lower the self-esteem of dirt and grime, eventually driving it off all together.

Your body is covered with a protective layer of oil, secreted by your skin. This layer forms a barrier that prevents dirt and particles from entering your body’s pores, but you will begin to look “dirty” as soil becomes trapped in this protective layer. When soap is first applied, it mingles with the dust and other foreign matter coating you body, insincerely promising friendship and intimacy. After the soap has become accepted into the so-called “filth clique,” it then turns on its new “buddies” — first by undermining their self-confidence with subtle digs and “accidental” misstatements, then later assaulting the grime’s esteem by “dogging” on it with blatant, witty, mean-spirited insults called “snaps”. Betrayed by its newly found “friends,” the dirt and grime slink from the scene and leave the skin cleansed.

Answer Guy