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Thursday, March 19, 2009

90%

Yesterday evening after work, I stopped over at my friend Ryan's house to see if he wanted to play Magic. Yes, I play Magic now. Suck it. Ryan was out for a walk with a neighbor of his, so I ended up eating his mother's delicious pork chops and rice and talking to his dad about the economy and the state of our public transit systems.

Jim has worked in the railroad industry for quite a few years and had quite a bit to say about how backwards things are, with companies turning profit off poorly-planned rail projects that exist simply to gain capital. Like a recent purchase of Acela-compliant train cars, designed with a tilt-mechanism and a whole slew of other special features built to run smoothly behind the Acela Express engines used by Amtrak that can clock in at over 150 mph. Only, the buyer had no Acela engines. It was just a regulation that Amtrak imposed on all of their purchases, regardless of the line. While that might be smart for a high-speed line from New York to Philadelphia who is planing on expanding in the near future, the other thousands of American rail lines from Nowheresville to Bumfucktown probably don't need to blow the extra coin on Acela-ready cars. Especially because a lot of the engines that have been turned out in the last few years can't even reach the minimum top speed of 120 mph due to horsepower issues, and those that could were subject to cracking disc breaks. Quite the investment.

But, as expected, the subject at hand expanded from Train Economics to just The Economy and Politics in General. Jim was of the opinion, despite his support of our new administration, that President Obama was not taking the steps he needed to prove to the rest of Washington, D.C. that he wasn't going to get kicked around. I argued that the new President had only been in office for a few months, and was still attempting to right the wrongs of the last eight years, but I couldn't help but agree with Jim on a certain level, especially when he called out the Washington Old-Heads that Obama had chosen for his Cabinet and other high-level positions. Where was, in fact, the Change that the bright, young community organizer from Chicago built his entire campaign on. Jim was scared that if he wasn't able to assert himself within these first few months, he would spend the next four to eight years being puppy-dogged through the legal process like Dick and Rummy did to Georgie-Porgie for the last eight.

Today, however, in an astounding feat of daring, our wonderfully liberal-sided Congress passed a bill at President Obama's back, taxing the shit out of all of the fat fucks who profited off of the stimulus rescue plan that was enacted in February. 90% of bonuses granted to high-level employees of banks and other institutions that received $5 billion or more of the bailout money is headed straight back to the government to be re-allocated for more useful things than new yachts and summer homes in Cabo San Lucas. The other 10% will be picked up by standard local and state taxation. That's right, do that math: one hundred fucking percent of the AIG and other similar bullshit bonuses are being paid the hell back to the government. Despite what 87 Republicans and six apparently heavily-drugged Democrats tried to say otherwise.

It might be a small step, considering the other millions of dollars no doubt lost in the cracks over the past few years. But along with the lifting of the Dover Photo Ban, these steps will begin to add up soon enough. And they're headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Warren Ellis - Black Summer *****

Because I'd only be rehashing exactly what I said in it anyway, instead of writing a new review of Warren Ellis' eight-part miniseries Black Summer, I have decided to reprint the article I wrote about Issue #0 of the series that I wrote for Undress Me Robot in the summer of 2007. As expected, the Ellis delivered on exactly what he set up in that intro issue: hard-hitting political satire spun through a superhero story that D.C. and Marvel can only wish they'd gotten their hands on. And Juan Jose Ryp's artwork is nothing short of stunning, his attention to the tiniest of details absolutely astounding. My only complaint is that the book cost $26 and is only a scant 192 pages long. But as my friend and editor at UMR, Spencer Sugarman said, "You want an indie comic, you pay an indie price."

But I digress. Without further ado, my review:


In a world as evil and corrupt as our own can be, where are superheroes to draw the line? If they are here on earth to protect us, who, really, should they be protecting us from? From crackheads and pimps and drug dealers? From murderers and terrorists and power-hungry psychotic dictators? Since the Golden Age of comics, heroes of all shapes and sizes have existed, fighting off their own distinct definition of “evil.” Batman had his criminals, Captain America his Nazis, Aquaman his... polluters.

But what happens when the supervillians aren’t wearing black ski masks or flowing purple capes? What if they are dressed in suits and ties? What if these murderers and terrorists and power-hungry psychotic dictators are the people we see on CNN every day, telling us about how important freedom is, and how we need to be over there in Iraq to maintain order, and how we’re doing the right thing, just trust us we’re doing the right thing? What would happen if our beloved superheroes got home from a long day of fighting crime and saving the world and turned on the news and saw what those people in Washington, D.C. were doing and saying? Sworn to serve and protect the good of humanity, could they let that go on? Could they let the leaders of the United States of America continue to lie and cheat and steal and murder their way across the globe in a fashion that would make Lex Luthor proud? Or would they need to bring down their hammer of vigilant justice swift and firm upon those villains in their tailored suits just as they would hostile aliens from distant galaxies.

Warren Ellis’ latest book,
Black Summer, aims to answer exactly these questions, and “scathing” does not even begin to describe the political commentary that results.

Ellis, a British writer best known for his Gonzo Journalism-fueled
Transmetropolitan and a lengthy run on D.C.’s Stormwatch, is famous for his bitingly sarcastic work, and with Black Summer, he certainly pulls no punches. And while the Issue #0 is only a brief preview of the seven-part series to come (the storyline itself only covers ten of the book’s nineteen pages), I’m already completely sold. Starting in August, Avatar Press will be releasing one full-length part of the series each month, marking their first foray into the world of superhero comics—and one that Avatar Editor-in-Chief William Christensen is quite proud of: “I've always said I'm not going to publish superhero comics at Avatar until I can do them better than Marvel and DC. I just did.”

And why not be? With Warren Ellis at the helm and Juan Jose Ryp (Alan Moore’s
Another Suburban Romance, Frank Miller’s Robocop) supplying artwork so vivid in its precision and attention to the slightest details of color and shading that it boggles my mind to think he could do finish it in anything less than a lifetime, the series is off to a sure-footed start. How the public will respond to a book so brutally honest as this, however, I’m not sure. I don’t know the political stance of most graphic novel readers, but if you’ve got any love for the current administration in your heart at all, this book is not going to sit well with you. Lucky for me (and most of the people who I figure would be checking out a new Warren Ellis project), I don’t, and I think that this series could be one of the most sharply-tuned comments on the current political climate I’ve seen come out of the comic world. Sure, the Marvel Civil War is touching on issues that have been raised by the creation of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act, but Black Summer grabs those issues by the balls and yanks with all its might.

The only problem I have with this book is its surprising brevity, but it is just a preview, so I can’t fault it for that—it was just a little heartbreaking to come to the back cover so soon in a story that already had me so deeply involved. But the extras included in this issue (some character concept art and a spectacularly insightful author’s note, most notably) are more than enough to make up for the short narrative. If you plan to check out the series when the monthlies kick off in August, you’ll definitely want this first preview issue for your collection. The scene in the Oval Office is worth the $2.99 alone.

While
Black Summer may not be the Next Big Thing out of the world of graphic novels, I hope it will leave an indelible mark on the industry and on the politics of any who read it. There are two kinds of art, no matter what the medium, that are destined to be remembered: that which can be appreciated on such a level that it remains relevant at any time or place, its message never diluted over years and years (George Orwell’s 1984); and that which so acutely captures a specific moment in time and space that it is comes to represent everything involved in that moment (Neil Young’s “Ohio”). Black Summer is one of the latter. In a few years the commentary it makes will probably be meaningless, the United States’ government having moved on into a new administration which will (hopefully) right at least some of the wrongs that the current one has made. However, as an encapsulation of the time it existed, the series looks to be one worth aspiring to, one that will say the things we all have on our minds, and will do so with the brutal honesty that is needed to say them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bill Sienkiewicz - Stray Toasters *****

"Form fits content" is one of those axioms that anyone who has taken an Intro to Creative Writing at Bumfuckville Community College knows by heart, but generally has no idea what it really means. My interpretation of the timeless adage has always been that you should not allow the style of what you're writing constrain your ideas, but rather employ the aspects of form (diction, syntax, etc.) to further cultivate your content's theme and voice.

The most apparent example of "form fits content" is in postmodern and metafictional writing, where the entire structure of what prose traditional is gets broken down and re-assembled. Even more mainstream authors like Douglas Coupland use these nontraditional breaks in their otherwise traditional stories to make commentary on any variety of things. You also see such attention paid to form in poetry--a genre of writing that from its commencement, has been equally about form as it has about content. But a genre that often (amazingly, to me) ignores form fitting content is the graphic novel.

You'd think it would be on the forefront of such a philosophy, as it depends upon images to help tell stories. And granted, each artist and writer team does bring something out of the content to infuse into their specific illustrations. But more often than not, the individuality ends there--boxed away into four or eight or twelve frames per page, restricted as though caught in an iron maiden inside those black-lined panels. Which is why I realized I needed to buy Bill Sienkiewicz's Stray Toasters within seconds of opening the front cover.

Sienkiewicz should be the poster boy for Form Fits Content, with his overflowing visuals, hedging on insanity bled through by a pen. Frames are used, but in no traditional sense through most of the book--they stretch and shrink and overlap, piling information and color and text on top of each other as the action of what is, at its core, a detective drama trucks on. Forget pen-and-ink: Sienkiewicz, who both wrote and illustrated the seminal work, paints every page, and they come out looking nothing less than pure art. The story almost takes the passenger seat in the case of Stray Toasters, because it's the unbelievable artwork that's really taking the reader for the ride. The story may be, as I've said, a detective drama, but it is also an exercise in insanity, and Sienkiewicz has done an amazing job of translating that onto paper.

I honestly can't think of a better foray into the interior of a character than Stray Toasters, except maybe Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, but Sienkiewicz's plate is doubly as full, achieving such a feat in both word and image. Just glancing through the book again as I write my review is almost... exhilirating? Just watching the colors page by, the stunning, surrealist artwork, makes me want to read it all over again, just to dive into the psychotic world of Egon Rustemagik, the burnt-out, ex-con private detective the story centers on. I have never seen a graphic novel quite like this, and I don't know when I'll see another one again. It's one for the ages. And to think I just picked it up completely at random while looking for a trade collection of Lapham's Stray Bullets.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen ****

Since it's initial publication in 1987, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen has become quite possibly the most revered graphic novel of all time. And ever since it hit shelves more than twenty years ago, filmmakers have been courted by major movie studios from Paramount to 20th Century Fox to Warner Bros., to try their best to distill such an epic story down into a feature film. Now, finally, at the hands of Zach Snyder--a director no short of "visionary" with his remarkably faithful adaptation of Frank Miller's 300--the Watchmen movie has arrived.

So what do fans think? Well, as would be expected, the majority seem to hate it. For some it strays too far away from the original material, for others it is far too close. Some argue it should never have even been attempted. Even Alan Moore has said that, claiming that no one would ever be able to capture his book on celluloid. But this blog isn't about all of those fanboys that would have been pissed off no matter how the movie was made--it's my opinions here. And my opinion is that the movie was phenomenal.

If there is anything to fault it for (besides the horrible facial prosthetics the guy playing Richard Nixon was wearing), I would have to agree that it did feel a bit tightly cinched to the book--but only because of the cap Warner Bros. put on the film's duration, at 162 minutes. The movie flew by, not at all feeling its two and a half hours long, and I could have easily spent another hour at the least with the characters, giving them a chance to breathe. But to actually complain about how closely Snyder stuck to Moore's original intentions is complete crazy-talk.

Just like in 300, Snyder reportedly used the book itself as his storyboard, working directly from the images Dave Gibbons produced, with annotations jotted in the empty space between frames. So the faults of the film are only the faults of the book itself. Yes, the pacing is a bit off-kilter at time, rushing through one scene to hover lazily over the next. At times the imminent doom that the characters are being thrown into with the threat of nuclear war doesn't feel all that imminent--but to have re-paced the story completely would have been to destroy entire narrative arcs.

Which brings me to the other most common complaint I've heard: about the film's ending. For the uninitiated reader's sake, I will not say anything much about the climax of either the film or the book, but simply mention that the ending of the movie is arguably even better than the ending of the book. It makes perfect sense, rather than coming out of left field to strike upon a meta-fictional construct that Moore obviously used to make a social comment on the power of comic books. The only people who can possibly be angry about such a sensible change are the orthodox readers of the book who were also probably pissing their pants about how Nite Owl didn't look goofy enough. They certainly were getting their knickers all in a twist about Ozymandias' Batman & Robin-esque superhero get-up (complete with molded muscles and nipples), even after Snyder explicitly explained to the press that it was a purposeful riff on Ozy's personality to make him look like Joel Schumacher's notoriously misguided attempt at Batman.

But as I said, the ending works just fine. If Snyder had attempted to piece together something like the book's ending, he would have needed at least another half hour just to work in the Tales of the Black Freighter side-plot, and then the end would have made no sense anyway because the end of the book is completely insane to begin with. Fucking octopus.

It won't win any Oscars, I've got no doubt about that (though it should win every single casting direction award up for grabs this year, because every single character was spot on--Jackie Earle Haley looked like he was plucked straight off the pages to play Rorschach), but it is another notch on Zach Snyder's already impressive belt. Not everyone might like what he's been doing with his adaptations, but he has to know when he goes to sleep every night that he's doing a damn good job, staying truer to the books than anyone else would even have tried. Certainly more than the Wachowski Brothers could say. I hope Alan Moore can at least respect that.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

52 Fulton Street

Since 1968, my great aunt Alvena and her husband Woody lived in a house in downtown Ephrata across the street from Fulton Elementary school. I remember going there during the Ephrata Fair, parking in their backyard and stopping in to say hello before we'd walk out to Main Street and ride the rides or watch the greased pig chase down at the community ballfield behind our high school. But in all those years of visiting, watching the parade every fall in front of their house, I'd never gone past the small square that made up their living room.


The house was not, as you might say, the most inviting. It was dark and smelled horrible, blackened spiderwebs hanging from the walls and ceiling, shades pulled down tight so no one could see in. The living room itself was piled high with books and magazines stacked on the floor, on the broken television, on the two ratty old couches--on other piles of books and magazines. A staircase led up to a second floor, and an adjoining room led off into the kitchen, but that was all shrouded in shadows. At least it was until a few months ago, when my aunt and uncle were removed from their house by the Ephrata Borough.


They were dangers to themselves, the Borough said, and it was hard to argue with them. They'd actually been trying to move them out of the house for years now, ever since Alvena started making a habit of calling the police. Someone was stealing their oil, she said. Someone was looking in their windows. Someone, once, had broken into her house and left pennies on the floor. The police said just to keep them, knowing she'd simply dropped change and forgotten it it was hers. She didn't want it, and insisted an officer come and take it away.


But this winter they had gotten even worse. Woody had a heart attack and Alvena wasn't in her right mind enough to give him his medicine. A nurse had to come to their house every day to dispense his pills, and had finally reported them to the Office of Aging as unfit to care for themselves when she found them one morning huddled in the living room in their winter jackets. They hadn't paid the oil bill in over a year.


The case was heard at the Lancaster Courthouse, and my mother and her sister were given power of attorney, and put in charge of their estate, moving Alvena and Woody into an assisted living community in Manheim. When the nurses helped her out of her coat upon arrival, they found seven thousand dollars in her purse. In the past few weeks, as my family and their friends have been cleaning out the house, we've found another fifteen grand, stuffed between mattresses, in the sewing machine, in couch cushions and under the refrigerator (along with a completely mummified squirrel). All of that money, including whatever the antiques and house itself can fetch at auction in May, will go to the nursing home which costs $248 per day, per person. Not including cable.


When Jess and I went along to help move furniture out of the house a few weekends ago, I finally got a chance to see what had stretched just beyond the darkness for so many years. Dead roaches, mostly. Hundreds of them. My dad had set off four bug bombs weeks before, and the carcasses and feces littered every surface in the house. And dust, almost a half-inch thick under the carpets we had to pull up. I got sick from inhaling it and now won't go back into the house without a respirator.


Also were piles of more books and magazines, dating back to the 1940s, though few were in any presentable condition. And piles of styrofoam containers, grocery bags, and used nylons. Alvena was born in 1914 and lived through the Great Depression, and along with her growing dementia, she'd become quite a horder, it seemed. The stone-walled basement was stacked floor-to-ceiling with things she could never possibly need again, including a doxen boxes of vegetables canned back when my mom was still living with her parents.


I wish I'd remembered my camera the first few times we were working in the house so that I could have captured it as it was before we cleaned everything up--the way my aunt and uncle actually lived there. It was something out of a horror movie. "The Lisbon House," Jess and I call it, from Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. It's straight from the book. I have no doubt that the grade school kids across the street have all kinds of stories about the place, watching it from a distance as they get on their buses or sit idly in social studies class, staring out the window at the peeling wood siding, the cracked panes of glass of the attic windows.


We've filled seven dumpsters with just their trash, and the house is still brimming with china and glassware, old tools and other antiques like the 1904 Victor victrola and the ancient stereoscope that my dad hopes to buy at the auction. Because there is no will, all of their belongings are just up for grabs to the general public. The only things we have been allowed to remove besides trash are family pictures and money, to be deposited in their bank account. Which will all be eaten up by the nursing home in a matter of months.


And they are not enjoying that at all, either. They don't understand why they had to be removed, that they were both slowly dying in the house from malnutrition and exposure. Alvena's legs have black, pussing sores that refuse to heal because of her disregard to her own person. Woody can barely walk around. He says it's not a free country anymore. She thinks it's her sister-in-law Catherine doing it to them. "I know it's the Bitch," she says to my mother when my parents stop in at the home to visit them almost daily, leaving my mom to remind her that Catherine has been dead for almost two years.


The nurses say they'll eventually get used to the idea of living at the home. That Alvena will stop packing up her clothing every night, into the plastic bags she pilfers from the cafeteria at dinner time. It's not that she doesn't have her good days--sometimes she even admits that she couldn't take care of herself. Other days she believes she's on vacation. During a recent visit, my mom found her lying back in her bed, propped up by pillows, watching TV. "Why is it," she asked, "that it always has to come to an end when you're having such a good time?" My mom told her not to worry, that she could stay as long as she wanted, they'd just slip the bill under the door when they finally needed her to leave. "Well, maybe we'll stay another day," she responded, then continued thoughtfully: "You know, it's a funny thing. We must have stayed at this hotel before--they've got my name written on all my clothing!"


But some days do not go as well. My mom comes home a wreck, eyes red from crying. She isn't sure if she's doing the right thing, locking her aunt and uncle away in a nursing home. Those are the days when Alvena accuses her of doing it all, and really, she isn't wrong. It was my mom that helped the Borough move them into an assisted living environment, but not to go in and ransack their house, stealing all of their belongings like Alvena insists in her raspy, cackling voice. My mom hates even rifling through their things long enough to find old family pictures because she feels like she's intruding. But if she hadn't, I don't know that they would have lived through the winter.


It's crazy to have to think that, as though we'd just left them there to die all these years. But they refused to accept help. My father and uncles had tried a number of times, offering to do work on the sadly dilapidated house. But they insisted they were just fine on their own, hiding behind their shaded windows, with a single bulb in the iron chandelier to light the entire first floor. They'd lived on their pride and their paranoia, foregoing humanity itself. They lived like homeless people in their own home. And that's what my mother has to keep reminding herself of: even if they don't realize it--even if they never realize it--she's doing good by them. They were always her favorite aunt and uncle, and whether they like it or not, she is doing her best to repay them for it.


I hope that they do come around. If not to be able to understand what is going on, then at least to be able to appreciate it. To understand that we're not trying to lock them away, but give them a chance to live out their lives in comfort. With warm beds and good food. With people taking care of them better than they ever took care of themselves. It won't be about them coming to appreciate "all the hard work we did" or anything of the sort. Just that we love them and care about them. That's all I hope they realize.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Warren Ellis - Crooked Little Vein ***

Warren Ellis is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. He is not as critically-lauded as Alan Moore (though he does have a beard to rival him), nor is he as prolific as Stan Lee. But Ellis is, by leaps and bounds, among my favorite comic writers, hanging just below David Lapham (Stray Bullets) and Jeff Smith (Bone).

What makes Ellis so great is his completely unfiltered approach to his subject matter. Marvel Comics best made their mark on the world with the quietly politically-charged X-Men series, about a group of misfits hunted not only by their evil mutant enemies, but by the United States government at large. The X-Men were to the 1970s as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were to the late 1800s: a way to fly under the censorship radar and comment on the political ills that were affecting the world they lived in. The X-Men was not just a superhero book, it was a fight for social equality in an extremely volatile time in history.

But now, already nine years into our brand new millenium, that censorship has receded. Some would like to see it be brought back to Joseph McCarthy levels of paranoia and hatred, but thankfully this demographic is in the minority (though they seem awfully loud when they're yelling on Fox News). And accordingly, our artists and filmmakers, and most of all, writers, have a chance to step up their game. But those who do still seem few and far between. There's more money to be made working for one of the big comic brands than publishing yourself and making your voice heard.

Which is where writers like Warren Ellis step in. Of course, Crooked Little Vein is a novel and not a comic book, but the idea is still the same. I picked up the 2007 release when I was on my way from Los Angeles back to Philadelphia, and had a few hours to kill in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I had no idea that Ellis had published a novel, but as soon as I saw his name on the cover, I reached for my wallet. I was half-way finished with the book by the time we touched down on the East Coast.

But by the time I finished the book, I was saddened. It was, indeed, the same sort of scathing commentary on American life (Ellis is British and is constantly shocked and amazed by what the hell we're doing over here) that I've come to expect from him, but in the end it fell short. Perhaps there was just too much going on for it to be held neatly in novel form. If anything, I think I may have loved the story if it had been delivered through the artwork of Ben Templesmith or Juan Jose Ryp--but in pure prose, it was too much to wrap your mind around.

When reading comics, no matter how wild they become, you are grounded--to a degree--in the "reality" of the frames the action is taking place within. The artwork may be Impressionist or even Cubist in nature, but it still provides a palate of reality that the story can depend upon. There are times when the palate provided does not properly coincide with the unraveling of the story, and more often than not, it pulls you completely out of that constructed reality. I recently saw the movie Midnight Meat Train which chugged along as a brilliant thriller until the last ten minutes when it was revealed that the entire plot was spurred on by supernatural demon-monsters living under the New York City metro system. Then the credits rolled and I saw the name "Clive Barker" and I kicked myself repeatedly for wasting two hours of my life. It just didn't work--the film set itself up for a twist but all it did was broke the contract it had made with the viewer some 110 minutes earlier. Not a satisfying watch.

Crooked Little Vein does not even have a chance to set up a reality to play itself out in. We are presented sheer insanity from the very beginning. And while it is hilarious at times, the nuances quickly wear thin. We get it, people do crazy things. There are fetishists and psychos bagging your groceries and running your country. But without being steeped in a reality we can neither recognize nor appreciate as even negligibly recognizable, these "crazy things" just come off as a laundry list of exactly that. Even the protagonist Ellis provides us with, private detective Mike McGill, cannot tie us to something solid as he moves through the story without much friction (despite his constant bitching and poor decision-making). He is more a vehicle to transport us through the seedy underbelly of America than a main character at all. And still, though by the end of the book I was ready to wring his neck, even someone as weak and idiotic as McGill could have provided a satisfactory window into the story if Ellis had used the comic medium instead. With the visuals of a graphic novel, I am almost certain that Ellis could have produced something far more successful, like his on-going series, Fell--a series that proves the spandex-like nature of the human mind's allowance on reality.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I bought the book. There are hilarious lines, there are brilliant scenes, and there is most assuredly acidic social satire bursting at the seems and threatening to burn right through the cover. But Ellis' strengths lie in creating stories to be told with pictures, lest he lose us all along the way and lose his message along with us.

Tweet, tweet

What the hell is Twitter? I mean, I get it. I think. It's just the Facebook "What Are You Doing Now?" thing blown completely out of proportion, right? I mean, that's arguable I suppose, but the fact that an afterthought application that Facebook developed five years ago now has a website of its own and a billion different celebrity subscribers pretty much defines "blown completely out of proportion" to me.

It's the whole celebrity thing that really has me confused about it. I guess it is pretty cool that They Do Stuff Just Like Us and all that crap. My friends have seen Julianne Moore grocery shopping at Target on the Waterfront and Viggo Mortensen knockin' back drinks at a hipster bar--and in Pittsburgh no less, not Manhattan or L.A.--and I'll admit it is kind of neat to run into people who you've loved in movies in the bread aisle. But everyone has to shop. There's just something weird to me that thousands of celebrities have nothing better to do than text random bullshit about what they're doing at any given point in time. I didn't even think celebrities thought like that. They're always railing about the paparazzi publishing every little thing about their personal lives, and now here they are, on the internet, publishing every little thing about their personal lives.

And yet, I feel the need to get one. Of course, I'm not going to even bother because I don't have texting on my cell phone and can't update unless I'm at my computer, which will just mean all of my "Tweets" will be variations on "My house is so fucking cold" and "How did Freaks & Geeks not last more than one season?" because those are basically the only two thoughts humming through my mind from 1-4am when I'm typically online. But maybe once I get an iPhone (read: when I get a job that pays more than $8 an hour at 25 hours a week), I'll start me up a Twitter account just like Tom Waits, so we can totally check out what each other is doing all day long.

Yes, that Tom Waits. Consider my mind blown. I can see Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher and Elijah Wood having Twitter accounts (actually, Elijah's depressed me quite a bit when I noticed his prevalent use of "LOL"), but Tom Waits? Mr. Swordfishtrombone Man? I just can't imagine him grabbing his cell phone to text about his daily routine. Hell, I can't even imagine him owning a cell phone. Unless it had a rotary dial on it, somehow. Tom Waits totally has a steampunk cell phone.

But the most shocking example of Tweeting I've seen recently has got to be that of everyone in fucking Congress as President Obama (ahh, that still sounds so nice) was delivering his speech last week. I know I'm behind on this, but at the time it didn't strike me as that strange. I'm sure that since the dawn of text messaging, our senators and representatives and political leaders the world over have been hiding their Blackberries under their desks like sorority girls in Intro to Psych, texting away as extremely important things are being discussed by the most powerful men and women on the globe. It was just that news, compounded with all of Everyone Fucking Else on the Planet suddenly doing it that has me so confused as to when the boat left, and where the hell I was when it set sail. I mean, honestly, even David Lynch has a Twitter account and he lives in a different galaxy than the rest of humanity. Of course, his posts make no sense whatsoever, but what did you really expect?

You see, I consider myself pretty up with the times when it comes to the internet. I'm generally "hip to the jive," as they say. I'm hours ahead of internet fads because of the truly disgusting amount of time I spend in front of my computer on the web. I was done with YTMND before you even knew what it stood for. I've seen enough LOL Catz to write my doctoral thesis on them. My brother is always sending me hilarious links and I'm always like, "Whateva, I seen that shit three weeks ago, biatch." Of course, he depends on Fail Blog to keep him abreast of internet faddery, which, in the interest of full disclosure, should be legally required to provide a link to their own fucking horrible blog at the top of every page as an example of just how epic fails can be. Seriously, months late. Actually, make that years. My brother just found out about Engrish last week.

But really, this time it's me that they should be linking to, and it kills me to admit it. I've got nothing to Tweet about and no way to even do it. Even though I still don't quite understand the point of it all, I desperately want to be a part of this cool club. Even if it is just MC Hammer blabbing on about nothing and Lindsey Graham "ROFLing" to his "homies" in the middle of Congressional hearings (the less funny of those things, is in fact, a reality). If I'm not even as cool as those douchebags, then I don't deserve the internet. Someone pull the plug on me, I'm dead to the world.