Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why conservative jokes suck

The Irony of Irony (Ironic!)

Literally unbelievable!

For some of you who see me comment on MetaFilter, you'll know that I'm generally annoyed at the lazy reductionism of people of faith as credulous rubes (seen in its most patronizing in the "Santa Claus" construction).

But that's because the vast majority of the people I know who are people of faith don't take the faith too literally. They understand that conceiving of the world as a battle between God and Satan is both simplistic and, well, magical in a bad way. If I believe that it is literally the antithesis of all that is good and holy that motivates your actions, then sure, $8 billion Abortionplex.

Likewise, the feeling of "Fuck you, nah just kidding," that pervades conservative humor (including a "Tiger Woods vs. Obama: Who's more diverse?" gag) comes from the sense that everyone is using the pretense of humor as a way to cover up the ostensibly unpopular or impolitic opinions they really hold (hence believing that Colbert is really a conservative, and that his jokiness is only a play on Bill O'Reilly), and an antipathy toward critical examinations of those opinions — which is when humor is invoked as a defense.

He's a scrappy coffee-fuelled gangster with a robot buddy named Sparky. She's a cold-hearted motormouth museum curator operating on the wrong side of

They Fight Crime! via @carsonb

Why yes, that is tasty

1.5 oz rum
3 oz pineapple juice
1.5 oz Gerolsteiner (buck a liter at Jon's)
.75 oz Cointreau
Dash Angostura bitters

All measurements approximate.

Stir. Drink.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Culinary intersectionality of suck

As a vegetarian, Mexican food is pretty easy to make at home — tacos, burritos, enchiladas, these are all things that have a pretty simple format, but can support huge variation. But when Food Network show Mexican Made Easy wants to do a vegetarian episode, what do they choose? A trifle, lasagna and a salad.

Any cooking show's ethnic food is a dodgy proposition — I think what makes these cheese sticks Mexican is just the cilantro — but it highlights a tremendous failure of imagination with vegetarian food.

This is especially depressing since the vast majority of what I eat is "vegetarian ethnic" food — "American" food is pretty meat-centric, shaped by generations of agricultural policy to heighten cheap meat and cheap starches. And because I'm lucky to live in a place where "Mexican" breaks down into endless regional differences (from Oaxacan to Korean), I know that "Mexican" is both spices and format, and is pretty damn easy.

So, mainstream+vegetarian+ethnic hits this culinary intersection of suck, where this food that could have been tasty and simple ends up a bland, uninspired hassle. It's no wonder that most folks think they couldn't be vegetarian — I couldn't either if I had to live on "Mexican mac and cheese."

Luckily, there are some (still easy) ways to make your Mexican food exponentially better.

The first is to grind your spices fresh. Put cumin in pretty much everything, usually when you're cooking sauteeing the onions (pretty much every vegetarian Mexican dish involves building from some onion sautee or another). You can use dried oregano, but fresh cilantro is much better. Adding a pinch cinnamon can add depth, especially with beans. Black beans have more flavor than pinto beans (which is why pinto beans make better refried). The spicing goes from dark to light — add things like cumin, dried peppers or bay leaves earlier, add things like cilantro, fresh peppers or avacado later. Salt cautiously throughout.

Most of all, just season a little more than you think you should and cook the vegetables a little less.

You got gore in my Satanism!

Three brief guides to metal subgenres (or "What's the difference between black metal and death metal, anyhow?")

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Underground fat action

A brief defense of terrible things

There are two things any article about Odd Future needs to feature: That they're pretty rapey, and that white critics like them.

This is especially important to mention this if you are a white critic.

Since the album came out nearly two weeks ago, most critics have had it for months and are clearly bored of it — you can see this by the "let's cover the coverage" meta-stage we're in now, where Cord Jefferson makes a whole article out of telling listeners why they really like it (or at least why white critics like it — fetishizing black man's rage again.

(He ends with a doozy: "Ike Turner, Mike Tyson, Chris Brown -- all lack men whose anger went from latent to gruesome, and whose reputations were shattered irrevocably in the process. Because the fetishization of black aggression has its limits. And while white people love to hear you say you're going to beat and rape some women, God help you if you ever actually do it."

Poor Dominique Strauss-Kahn learned that the hard way.)

So, briefly:

OF has beats I like and flows I like, and the cartoonish rape is part of a cartoonishly violent world they create. But I like metal and I like skatepunk and I don't mind stuff that's intentionally gross or gruesome, so long as there's something else there. It's not for everyone, but while race is part of the context of OF, it's not nearly as important to me as the aesthetic norms of the rest of the stuff I listen to. Putting a lot of emotional charge into the cartoony rage and violence would distract me from both the other stuff going on in the music that I like, and the sense of humor I think OF comes across with.

Which means that I find the defenses of OF on the "Freaking out the squares" tip to be pretty bullshit too — it's constant talk about the least interesting part of the music, like focusing on just how Satanic metal bands are.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Like hulahoops and pet rocks

A new Catholic investigation finds that widespread child molestation by Catholic priests was society's fault, blaming individualism and shifting norms..

But it certainly wasn't celibacy or gays in the clergy.

Hey, c'mon, it was the '50s through the '80s, who didn't toke a little hash and molest some kids?

Like the beers in Cheers

Elzhi ft. Royce da 5'9", Motown 25.

Angel, Bounce, Constrobuz, 1, 2, 3

Angel Haze's Altered Ego mixtape. Spitting like a sprinkler, Haze is who you can listen to if Odd Future makes you feel liberal guilt.

Mad Decent's Bounce It! is three years old, but if you're just getting to Big Freedia, this mix is homework.

Constrobuz makes hazy oozy woozy beats.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mein Gott in Himmel!

I've been trending more and more atheist lately, until yesterday, when my back went out. Amy's at a conference, and I'm in so much pain that I can only assume that God exists and he's punishing me for being very, very bad. If only my playacted pagan Thor worship could save me!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Does Farming Monthly have a review section?

When farmer John Rollins buys a farm in Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, it comes with a tractor, a ropes course, a barn full of hay (but no animals) and a corn field he can't get to grow corn in twenty minutes of trying.

He paid a lot for it, probably too much since he obviously doesn't know anything about farming, like that you have to water plants and that you can't eat ornamental corn that's been wired to the stalk's armpits. Oh, also you're never going to grow enough corn to live on if you're doing it in a field the size of a basketball court.

His terrible farm failing, he blames the crows (who also have no interest in eating the corn), and brings out the scarecrow from the secret compartment in his barn. Do not pause to say "What?"

Things go pretty well for Rollins once he gets the scarecrow up — the crows all die, his new neighbor (the "Jump to Conclusions" guy from "Office Space") brings him a beer, the bank agent gets hit by a semi that somehow means Rollins doesn't have to pay his mortgage, he sees his neighbor's wife inexplicably topless and rubbing herself in soft focus with her nipples blurred out.

In exchange for all this good fortune, Rollins pretty much destroys any sympathy you might have for him. Played by the perpetually squinty Norman Reedus, Rollins rapes his wife, fantasizes about killing his kids, and thinks that sowing a crop means whipping kernels into dying cornfields and wearing designer shirts. The movie rewards him with full, harvestable ears the next day, making sure that worse than an inept loser, he's an undeserving winner. At least everyone else realizes that his desire to wear the accessories of murdered men is troubling, and that his explanation that the scarecrow did it is pretty psychotic.

But, suddenly afraid of the inevitable conclusion that people bad at farming kill their families, the film suddenly veers into rubber monster territory. The twist is that there's no twist. The scarecrow's somehow related to the top hand's grandfather's exposition exposition black magic and what could have been a credible, if half-assed, anti-boozer morality play suddenly wants to be taken seriously as scary business. The rubber guy chases one of the kids around, fights an already K.O.ed deputy, then gives the mandatory minimum suspense time threatening the other kid before getting walloped with a thresher.

Even by the logic of horror movies, the ultimate resolution is a failure — the family just pulls the stuffing out of the scarecrow and stores him back in the secret room in the barn, instead of burning it. Perhaps because the family just moved to the farm that afternoon, they don't realize that one of the best parts of farm life is bonfires. Have we come so far from our witch-burning past?

Happily, we can assume that killing the deputy and the man from the bank did nothing to assuage Rollins' financial or legal troubles, and that the film focuses on perfunctory sequel bait because neither his boring family nor the bad farmer will be in it.

@neighborgevork's National Anthem

Oh say can you see
that the twighlight all day
our flag was still there
through the twighlight
what so proudly we
oh the shadowous night
oh so proudly we saw
that our flag was still there

I thought about telling him that "Purple mountain's majesty" was in there somewhere, but figured that anthropology requires distance.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Dinner with a show

Amy and I finally went out to Di Carlo tonight, the wood-fired pizza place next to the weird cash-for-cars joint.

When we got there, we realized they didn't serve booze, and for a couple of our sophistication, sobriety was not an option. So while Amy rode back to the house to pick up a bottle of Trader Joe's Barbera d'Alba, I was supposed to order a pizza and a salad and wait.

That was thwarted by the drama from the table before us.

I started eavesdropping shamelessly (as is my wont) when I hear the waitress say, "You should have told me!" to the table, then the guy in the corner starts saying, "I don't usually tell everyone I'm diabetic when I order."

He comes up to the counter, and starts telling some man (I assume the owner or manager) that he loves, loves, lurves this restaurant, but that he ordered 25 minutes ago, and got told it was only going to be five more minutes 12 minutes ago. And that the waitress didn't seem to care at all, and he'd already taken his medicine after the last time she told him five more minutes. He said, "I'm diabetic, this is serious."

Now, granted, he had a whiny, entitled voice. And the waitress usually has around zero control over when things come out of the oven, especially a wood-fired one. The manager jumped to and got the parties their pizzas, which were pretty much right there anyway.

But on the way out, the dude came up again. He reached across the counter and took the man's (owner? manager?)) hand in his and started talking about how he loved the place, but was so incredibly angry that something, something something whispered, because he suddenly realized that everyone in the restaurant could hear him.

The waitress had come over to the counter and started arguing with him, sotto voce. As the customer left, she flipped off a "Fuck you, bitch" with a delightful Latin accent (her dyed blonde hair and fake tan made her ethnicity unplaceable) and went out after the customer to continue swearing at him, at the same time her boss was still trying to glad hand him.

It was weird — the waitress was totally cool to Amy and me, but totally over the line to this other guy who seemed to kind of be in the right. I was stuck trying to explain it with stereotypes, like, that whole party (including the diabetic) were trim, well-dressed guys with the Valley Girl accent, and the waitress had an indeterminate accent that just marked her as "not American" (it might have been easier to guess if she wasn't a bottled golden blonde). So my guess was homophobia, which might be racist, but who knows?

Anyway, it was a lot more interesting than the goofy conversation the guys next to us were having about the relative loot factors of a bunch of games. "Borderline, I love it, I'm a total loot master. I love a level nine sniper rifle with a six shot clip." That guy was talking about the temple he worked at and how cool it was that his boss had an open mind and "liked all that new age shit."

Luckily, the pizza was really pretty damn tasty.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Issue 2 of the MeFi Mag!

Issue 2, May 2011

MeFi Mag Issue 2: Issue 2, May 2011

Second issue of the MeFi Mag, featuring stories by Cortex, Msalt, It's Raining Florence Henderson and more. New media the old media way!

Find out more on MagCloud

I edited it again. Woo!