Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wait a Second

Don't be so quick to celebrate the new year Saturday night. Scientists at the U.S. Naval Observatory will be adding a second to 2005 at midnight New Year's Eve to help re-align the earth's 24-hour rotation with the atomic clock.

All of which should make complete sense to anyone out there with a doctorate in physics and cosmology.

But what does this mean for you? Well, it's an extra second. Need I spell everything out for you? As commanded by the Hollywood bumper-sticker mentality that reduced Omar Khhayyam's "The Rubaiyat" to the Robin Williams catchphrase "seize the day" I think it is incumbent upon y'all to seize this second. Embrace it. Make it your own.

Some suggestions:

1. Take an extra second to loath your place in the world
2. Pause for a second before that 8th shot of Jagermeister to allow neighboring party-goers time to move their dress shoes from your vomit splash zone
3. Think for a second before sticking your tongue in that girl. Ask yourself: was she this cute when I got here four hours ago?
4. Take the time to thank God that you weren't born a judgmental, intolerant, evangelical Christian. If you were born as such, please feel free to squander this second as you have your entire life
5. Compose a film more satisfying than all three Star Wars prequels
6. Set a personal record for the number of times you can stop and start a stopwatch
7. Blink
8. Let auld acquaintance be forgot
9. Google "auld"
10. Post the extra second to next year's calendar, making sure to amortize it over the useful years of your life in perpetuity or until you really, really need an extra second. Perhaps to use the next time you're running for the toilet after one too many Taco Bell chilitos...

Attention AP Photo Editor: Those gloved fingers behind the sign are pointing at you

Are You Ready For Some Deja Vu?

Score of the first Monday Night Football game on ABC in 1970: Browns 31, Jets 21. Jets lose.

Score the last Monday Night Football game on ABC in 2005: Pats 31, Jets 21. Jets lose.

Go figure.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Year in Unfunny: Punchlines, Powerlines, Flatlines and Federlines

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Top Five Least Funny Americans of 2005

I love lists. In December I love year-end lists. The more, the merrier and ho, ho, ho. As you may recall, 2005 wasn't the funniest year on record. And to mark the occasion, I will briefly recap with a list of 2005's Top Five Least Funny Americans:

5. Michael Brown - Did a heckuva job managing Katrina, but really couldn't have been less funny about it. Never took the lead from crackups like Cheney (telling a senator to go fuck himself on the senate floor might never be topped in that building) or his boss Georgie (too numerous to mention). C'mon, Brownie. All those emails where people are pleading for assistance inside a SuperDome piled high with human waste? Couldn't he have made at least one doody joke? Your name is Brown, for fuck sake.

4. David Spade/Rob Schneider - These two must be part of the same scam. Certainly nobody pays to see them or laughs at anything they do or say. Spade seems to have filled a whiny slacker comedy niche which might have been an alternate career for the fey Ethan Hawke character in "Reality Bites." And Schneider would be more fun to watch if somebody would shave his head, lube him up and shove him inside that Git 'R Done Guy's fat ass.

3. Kevin Federline - Here's another guy who has yet to live up to his potential hilarity. His UPN reality show with his cheez doodle machine, Britney, only underscored the banality of celebrity. Give me Jessica Simpson-like brain meltdowns or druggy Bobby Brown constipation talk with Whitney. I realize every pairing can't match the potency for humor as Brigitte and Flavor Flav, but I think we can safely coin a term for the barrier on which you are pathetic enough to be hilarious but boring enough to be easily ignored: the federline.

2. The Chicago Cubs - In a year after the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, the Cubs watched their cross-town rivals win their first World Series in 88 years and couldn't even muster as much as a snit fit about their North American sports league leading 97-year drought. You'd think at least someone affiliated with the team -- or maybe just Jim Belushi -- might have vomited in public or something.

1. Terri Schiavo - One of the most photographed, televised and talked about people of 2005, Schiavo inspired an unprecidented special session of Congress and sparked a national debate about the end of life. Her reaction to all of this? Nothing but slack-jawed drooling and random eye movements. Jesus Christ, Terri. Sit there like a potato, why don'tcha. You think you could have risen to the occasion just a little?

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Big Flip-Off, The Big Chill, and The Big Con

Sketchy Sayreville politics, run/walkers freezing for charity, and an angry anti-war mother preaching against recruiters. Nope. Can't think of any funny quip here.

Siskel And Ebert...And The Asshole

Check out Siskel and Ebert share the love while fiming a promo. Until next time, the balcony is full of simmering rage.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Top Five Songs About Inappropriate Sexual Pairings

5. I Saw Her Standing There, The Beatles
4. Sweet Sixteen, B.B. King
3. Cousin Dupree, Steely Dan
2. Sweet Little Sixteen, Chuck Berry
1. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Sonny Boy Williamson

Monday, December 05, 2005

Death Row: 1,000 Served Since 1976

“It has been said that all of Oklahoma was a victim of the bombing. Can all Oklahoma watch?”

So wrote Timothy McVeigh in March 2001 in a published statement while on death row for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma. Should his request have been honored? Or did Attorney General John Ashcroft make the proper decision to only provide closed circuit viewing for victims’ families?

When discussing the vagaries of convicted mass-murderers, it’s usually beneficial to defer to the judgment of those who have been deprived of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers as opposed to granting wishes to a man who with a single detonation destroyed 168 lives (including 19 children), sending shockwaves into hundreds of others and the psyche of an entire nation. It seems hard to believe that anyone who was victimized by the Oklahoma City bombing would agree to endorse even a nominal wish of the man who perpetrated the horror. And this position is at least obliquely supported by the fact that only 15% of eligible victims opted to watch the limited broadcast.

However, such an event would certainly be newsworthy through shear novelty. By current standards, a man incasing himself in a block of ice in Times Square musters national coverage, while there has never been a televised execution in this country and the days of public hangings ended in the 1930’s. Today, public access to witness a man put to death by the state for the nation’s most egregious example of domestic terrorism would likely garner huge ratings. And yet, regardless of whether or not networks would participate in a live broadcast, air an edited tape or stills for news coverage, concoct some avaricious pay-per-view, or allow live web-streaming, the news value would be superceded by what would be for the great majority of Americans nothing more (or less) than a ghoulish, sensationalistic spectacle.

In the late 19th century, the celebratory nature of public hangings prompted the coining of the word “gala,” derived from “gallows.” Today, it is not difficult to imagine large-screen televisions in bars packed with beer-swilling yahoos cheering on a man’s electrocution and chomping on pretzels while “Born To Be Wild” plays on the jukebox. Is this dignified behavior in a civilized nation on the solemn occasion of putting one of its citizens to death? The certainty of internet outlets digitizing and storing the moment for incalculable future audiences, only further devalues to gawking what should be simply shared witness to the gravest consequence of the most heinous crimes.

This is hardly a matter of journalistic ethics. The question is not the responsibility of news organizations that would capitalize on the ratings of public capital punishment or legitimately stand behind its newsworthiness, but the government that would permit it. Charged with formulating and enforcing the law, the government has the more fundamental covenant to keep with the common good.

As an example of such justification, proponents submit a televised execution would provide visceral advertising of the ultimate deterrent. However, if the discussion is limited to premeditated mass murderers like McVeigh, who can argue that other fanatics willing to die for a cause would be deterred in the slightest? Even before the harsh lessons learned by the evil mélange of hatred, militant extremism and large explosions on September 11, 2001, it was clear that a determined individual unafraid to die would not be impeded by anything. Certainly not by an execution sponsored by a state he has sworn to destroy, or by that state’s decision to turn his demise into a media show. For such deluded extremists looking to send a message, who is to say it would not be the ultimate prize to commit a comparably outrageous crime with the promise of similar globally televised or webcast infamy? One need only look at the rash of teenage school shooting copycats of recent years to see this pernicious fallout in action.

The only true justification for the execution—not the broadcast, but simply the actual execution—is retribution and the rights of those he has hurt to know that he paid the definitive price for his malevolence. Under the current system, victims and survivors deserve the option to witness the Hammurabic justice and closure they seek. To extend the audience (even to include citizens of the country whose laws were transgressed and whose government is administering the punishment) cheapens the sensibilities of the victims and the condemned—invites the circus to attend a private ceremony.

Already, an overwhelming majority of the rest of the planet looks at the United States as a barbaric and heavy-handed state that all–to-easily executes it’s own citizens as well as foreign nationals. While more than half of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, Amnesty International has compiled statistics revealing that out of the 1,813 known people executed in 1999, 85% could be accounted for by China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Is this the type of company most Americans want to keep? Countries sometimes refuse to cooperate in American investigations or extradite criminals for cases with the potential of capital punishment. How would the nation’s standing in the international community be enhanced with public executions airing between “Temptation Island” and “Bachelorettes in Alaska?” Not to mention what might happen if a live execution is horribly botched.

Regardless of the semblance of solemnity granted such a broadcast, the worst instincts of this nation’s desensitized and cynical culture would certainly be evident. A man’s death and his victim’s sense of retribution do not belong to advertisers, late-night comics, rubbernecking couch potatoes, scornful Europeans and self-aggrandizing pundits—whatever the motives. Whether or not one agrees with the death penalty, it is not hard to understand that as long as it exists, paramount concern need be provided to the memories of the victims, those they have left behind and the very last thing a guilty man might possess in the eyes of the world he will exit: his dignity.

Even if the fucker don't deserve it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Father Bob doing his water-waving thing for the new science room

Weird Science

St. Mary's Mt. Virgin School in New Brunswick blesses their new science class. Now, time to begin the hands-on, scientific indoctrination.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Movin' Out (Louise's Song)

Your intrepid reporter stands in the crossfire of a bitter landlord-tenant dispute yesterday that ended in a hug and a two-Advil, two-Excedrin headache for me.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

52 Reasons ESPN/ABC/Disney Sucks

No arguments from me on all 52 points. I'm trying to figure out when ESPN sharked jumped its way into MTV irrelevance for my generation. Stuart Scott? Stephen A. Smith? Chris Berman? But wasn't Berman always there? When did he become such a jackass? Whoop!