THROBERT'S THEATRE of THINKOLOGIZING!
09 October 2002
Okay, it's time to test out that six degrees of separation jive. There's a bare spot on the wall in my bedroom, and I'd like to fill it with a framed and matted 8x10 glossy of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, signed in black indelible ink by the man himself:
''To Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.) with love, XOXOXO, Jon."
Now, I could probably obtain such a photo by writing to Comedy Central and requesting one, but I'd much rather that Jon got the request directly by reading my Blog. Not that I think he'd be so impressed by my comic style that he'd help me get a job there or anything -- though I think I could be an asset to them, for what it's worth. It's just that he's tickled my funnybone something fierce over the years, and I want to give something back to him. It would mean a lot if the adventures of Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.) provoked a spontaneous chuckle from a professional funnyman like Stewart.
So -- if you know someone who knows someone who works for Comedy Central or Viacom, or if you know someone who knows someone who plays raquetball with Jon Stewart's personal assistant, be a pal and pass along the permalink URL for this post (click the time stamp below to get it). Meanwhile, I'll be brainstorming other ways to trick the man into reading my material; we'll just see what happens.posted by Throbert | 10/09/2002 03:48:00 PM | (0) responses
Again, I'm being lazy and just reposting some material I'd put up in the comments section of another blog.
In response to someone who signed off as a "Liberal Pro-War Feminist," I posted:
I'm a gay libertarian secular humanist with Muslims (by conversion) in my extended family, and I'm pro-war and utterly disgusted by theocratic Islamists, so all I can add to your comments is "Ditto!"
Well, okay, I'll add one other thing. I think that Jerry Falwell is a cretin with the moral-reasoning abilities of a toddler. I have zero interest in his infantile fantasies of Christian triumphalism on the battlefield of Armageddon. (Likewise for the fantasies of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, by the way.) Yet I think that his criticism of Muhammad was essentially correct, and I can tolerate him as an ally because I know that his religious bigotry is substantially tempered by an American live-and-let-live mindset. There are the Reconstructionist Christians who dream about imposing theocracy in the U.S., but they are an anomalous fringe even within the fundamentalist subset of U.S. Christendom. So I can make an uneasy ad hoc alliance with people like Falwell on the issue of opposing theofacism in the Islamic world, where it is decidedly not on the fringes.
Okay, yet one more thing. I would refer everyone to this comment by a Western convert to liberal Sufi Islam:
For "Islam" one could of course substitute in "fundamentalist Christianity," "knee-jerk leftism," "screechy gay advocacy," and what have you. The world would be a more civil place if everyone would embrace the initial assumption that one's ideological opponents are intelligent people of good character who've made honest errors in their thinking.posted by Throbert | 10/09/2002 02:57:00 PM | (0) responses
Another blast from the past: If you're reading this, William Donahue of the CATHOLIC LEAGUE for Religious and Civil Rights, you won't want to miss the raging torrents of virulent anti-Catholic bigotry on display here, in an open letter I wrote to homosexual journalist Mike Signorile, who'd had all sorts of mean and Godwin's Law-infracting things to say about Pope J.P. 2. It's foul-mouthed and blasphemous in the extreme -- I used to work blue when I were a young'un -- but there's a half-ass defense of Catholicism in there somewhere. (My devoutly Catholic lezbo buddy Anne will vouch for it.) posted by Throbert | 10/09/2002 01:58:00 AM | (0) responses
08 October 2002
Hey, readers... I've got, uh, a favor to ask. This is me being serious for once. I've been freelancing since I lost my job as a website editor in February 2001. Now, the freelancing is dull, but it pays the rent and keeps me in fresh clothes. But a few months ago I developed a localized infection in my right hand that ended up requiring a three-night hospital stay. (The doctors were never able to narrow down the infection to a specific pathogen, but the immobility and swelling in my right forearm did respond to antibiotics, so an unspecified infection remains the diagnosis.) I'm all better now -- it took almost a month of stretching exercises to restore the tendons in that hand to normal flexibility, though.
Sigh. Anyway, as I did not have medical insurance, I am now faced with a bill for $7,800 for those three enchanting nights in Brooklyn's Kings County Hospital. (It's a very nice facility, incidentally, and the experience took me to a part of Brooklyn I'd never seen before. Just on the other side of Prospect Park, there's a huge concentration of folks from the West Indies -- from Trinidad and Jamaica and such, and dey be talkin', mon, in all the wonderful different strains of Caribbean English. I think I may have been the only white person in the hospital who wasn't a doctor of some sort. Speaking of, Kings County Hospital turned out to be a goldmine of really hot young male doctors in any shade, ethnicity, or religious persuasion you could ask for, ladies. But especially if you go for swarthy gentlemen.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah. So I've got a $7800 bill to settle. The freelance work I get brings in $2000 a month, maybe. I live in New York in a modest, somewhat cramped fourth-floor walkup, but... this is New York. So $7800 pinches, a bit. They're willing to let me pay it off in installments, and my roommate's nice Jewish boyfriend, who works as an ER doc at that very hospital, says that nothing bad would happen to me if I didn't pay -- county hospitals are used to deadbeat patients. Still, I would much rather settle my debt ASAP, and not allow myself to be a burden on the system.
So, if you could spare a little to help me defray the total sum, I would be immensely, immensely grateful.
Shucks, I'm embarrassed now.posted by Throbert | 10/08/2002 11:31:00 PM | (0) responses
Hey, Bio 101 students! Need an easy mnemonic device to help you remember the seven major divisions of the taxonomic hierarchy? Try this:
[This meme courtesy of Comedy Central's deranged (and now, I think, defunct) TV Funhouse.]posted by Throbert | 10/08/2002 02:14:00 PM | (0) responses
Hey, hey! Got two glowing reviews over on The Weblog Review today, which I hope will bring in some new audience members. If you're just joining us here at the Blinkin' Blog and want a quick overview of the site's content before deciding whether to stick around, I strongly recommend starting with this post, which provides summaries of five earlier pieces that are pretty representative of the range of material you'll find here. You might also wish to check out the FAQ section linked in the sidebar to the right. Or just scroll down this page and start reading. (By the way, don't be afraid to leave some comments if you like or dislike a particular piece -- I appreciate the feedback, and you don't have to leave your real name or email address in the comments form.) posted by Throbert | 10/08/2002 12:59:00 PM | (0) responses
07 October 2002
Because I'm feeling so goldarn lazy today, I'll just link to my comments in a c*rc*mc*s**n thread over on LGF earlier this morning. Oh, and while I was hanging out over there, some joker posts this in reaction to the Rev. Jerry ''Gasball'' Falwell, who'd had some mean things to say about poor Muhammad:
He said that Muhammad was a man of violence (and G-Dub is ... ? Except when he's AWOL from National Guard duty, of course) and Jesus and Moses were men of peace.
The spirit moved in me and I replied; my comments are expanded as follows:
Dude, I don't have to contrast Muhammad with Jesus or Moses or anyone else to assess his moral character. If you would bother to read the bloody Quran, as I have, you'd come independently to the conclusion that Muhammad was a shit of a man -- a xenophobic opportunist and not much of a philosophical thinker, either. Possibly he was a brilliant poet, though since I don't know Arabic I can't judge whether the Quran truly sounds surpassingly beautiful in the original or not. I'll take the sensuous love poetry of a Persian poet like Omar Khayyam over Quranic words-of-wisdom posturing any day, however.
Before any Christian and Jewish readers start cheerleading, let me say that I also find the New Testament and the Tanakh to be extremely mixed bags, in terms of literary merit and moral persuasiveness. Also, I'm skeptical about the very historicity of Jesus -- I think the Gospel character by that name might be a patchwork stitched together from two components: the first being a (sometimes very admirable, sometimes kooky) historic Jewish teacher who originated various portions of the "Jesus said" quotes in the Gospels; and the second part being a pre-existing mythical archetype.
As to Moses and Abraham and David, I'm agnostic as to whether they actually existed as real individuals, or if they were mythical heroic figures intended to stand for entire generations of Jews, much like Virgil created Aeneas for the Romans. (It's likely in some cases that both sides are true -- i.e., that Moses and Abraham et al. were gifted individual thinkers who were subsequently credited with all manner of unlikely feats.)
To me, it doesn't really matter whether the founders of religions were or were not persons of good character, or whether they existed at all. And it also doesn't matter what the Holy Books say. What does matter, a lot, is how modern believers interpret the books -- do they see the nasty oppressive xenophobic stuff as non-inspired prejudices of the ancient cultures that produced them, or is ''slay the infidels and ye verily, stone the disobedient child'' considered to be binding even unto this generation?
All that said, I'd rather break bread with someone who admires the possibly non-existent but nonetheless kindhearted Jesus than with someone who gets off on the (definitely historic) tales of Muhammad slaughtering kaffir. Likewise for Moses and the gentle, ahistorical Muhammad of liberal Muslims.
Update: The guy responded to me as follows:
Moreover, Falwell's assessment is an explicit comparison with the supposedly peaceful tactics of Moses and the preaching of Jesus. So do you really agree with him?
I saw his ante and raised him as follows:
Dude, read my post again. The historic Muhammad could've been a pacifist who walked around in a robe letting the birdies alight on his fingers, and the historic Jesus and Moses could've been, respectively, a child molester and a serial killer. Or they could all be imaginary, like the Invisible Pink Unicorn (PBUH) who created the Universe.
What does matter are the character traits that today's believers attribute to their heroes.
Some Christians see Jesus as a sort of benevolent dad to the entire world, regardless of professed faith; I like such Christians a lot.
Other Christians who've seen too many action movies imagine Jesus -- the co-creator of the fuckin' Universe, mind -- as a crazed, self-obsessed monarch who callously allows Hindu children to burn in Hell because when they said ''I love God and His creation,'' they mispronounced ''God'' as VISH-noo; who has a particular fetish for seeing that only certain among his helpless creations get to occupy certain patches of land on one little planet; who vomits at the thought of one man giving another a BJ. I do not get along well with Christians in this category, because it's difficult to respect anyone who shows me such a peculiarly drawn picture of the most perfect being imaginable.
You can substitute in Jews and Muslims and the same applies, except that among Jews and Christians, the ones who truly believe in a gentle, loving God now make up a significant portion of the faithful -- while in Islam as it exists today, the really depraved assholes who approvingly quiver at the stories of Muhammad slaughtering infidels on the battlefield and slaying apostates seem to be disproportionately represented. Insha'allah, the ratio will change someday.posted by Throbert | 10/07/2002 04:57:00 PM | (0) responses
06 October 2002
Let's! Go to! The movies!
Let's go see the stars...
[falsetto Ann Reinking voice] Give the maid the night off!
[gruff Albert Finney voice] Turn the kitchen light off!
Let's go to the movies, Annie, wait and s--
Oh. Hi, everybody, I was just sitting here with Poochy and Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.), eating Rice Krispies treats made with Lucky Charms instead of Rice Krispies, all snuggled up on the couch and singing along to the 1982 screen adaptation of Annie, directed by John Huston and starring... um, I dunno her name. Megan something? I want to say it was someone like Soleil Moon-Fry in an orange Jewfro wig, but that doesn't seem quite right.
Anyway, speaking of screen adaptations, Urbania started out as a stageplay before being turned into the most awesomest movie ever. This movie is so good that you could grind a VHS cassette of it into a fine powder using a kitchen blender, dissolve the residue in benzene, and precipitate out purified crystals of cinematic goodness -- to be heartily snorted in the bathroom right before the kids drag you to see some flick where a trio of preteens (one seemingly nerdy white boy, one street-smart black kid, and a perky Asian girl with pigtails) do karate on former Saturday Night Live performers who are trying to take over the world though bumbling at it in the worst way.
Urbania stars Dan Futterman (the son in The Birdcage and the title character's brother in Judging Amy) as an ordinary guy who -- driven by the loss of someone who meant a lot to him -- goes on a quest for some kind of satisfaction to ease his hurt. Woven through the story are entertaining depictions of (and references to) countless urban legends, such as the microwaved dog and the stolen kidney.
It also contains the most startling and brilliantly depicted moments of male homoeroticism that I have ever seen. I just watched it with a friend two nights ago and plan to buy it on DVD soon -- both to marvel again at the genius of its screenplay and editing, and to watch certain excerpts... in privacy. Let's just say that both Futterman and sympathetic bartender Josh Hamilton put the stud in ''a studied performance" and the cameraman gets in so close to Matt Keeslar's hairy chest that you can inspect it for ticks or color-changing moles -- ooof, the circus must be coming to town in my pants because I'm pitching a big te...
Anyway, it would spoil the impact of Urbania if I revealed more, and I caution you against looking up reviews before renting it -- probably 80% of reviewers, including some professional critics, totally misunderstood the director's technique and as a result end up giving away what are meant to be surprises. (For instance, many online synopses of Urbania explicitly reveal one or two quite significant facts about the central character's motivations that the director intended for his viewers to realize, gradually, by themselves.)
I'll give you a hint, though -- don't try to assemble the film's fragmentary action into a coherent linear narrative; instead understand that in the space of a few seconds, the movie often cuts rapidly back and forth between two unrelated events that may have taken place at different times and locations. Also, the director relies heavily on the ambiguity of words and actions, and how they can be interpreted differently when you don't know the full context. It's like a movie version of that optical illusion that goes from young girl to old hag to young girl again. Is a sexual remark a come-on, a joke, or a clinical observation? If one man roughly shoves another, is it a fight or horseplay? Just sit back, let the confusing action flow past you, and by the end you'll put all the pieces together and be dazzled by the moviemaker's genius.
P.S. Attention, heterosexual men! Do not watch this movie by yourself or your Kinsey Number will be ratcheted upwards by at least two points, and then who know what kind of bad things might happen?!? It's probably safest if you watch it with a lady friend so that you can squeeze her boobies during the scenes of skull-popping homoeroticism to prevent yourself from turning. Or watch it with other straight guys; you'll be so squirmingly self-conscious that the film's dangerous gay-dioactive beams won't affect you. Unless you all end up yielding to years of sublimated curiosity and having a circle-jerk. Meanwhile, ex-lesbian ministries should stop wasting everybody's time with prayer sessions and just screen this movie at their weekly meetings. Within six months the most severe, buzzcut, Harley-riding, "Hand me the pruning shears, sisters, it's castration time" bulldykes will be transformed into Charlotte from Sex and the City. (The nutjobs at Exodus For Men will just have to wait for a gender-switched version of Urbania.)posted by Throbert | 10/06/2002 07:04:00 PM | (0) responses