September 2003 Archives

Damn It, Damn It, Damn It All


Bonus Cartoon Monday

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Here's something I drew for Boalt Briefs, one of two competing humor rags here on the law school campus. The guy with the stick is supposed to be Jesus, and that's a lamb he's holding. I'm afraid I've never been very good at drawing sheep.

Infringement Theater

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My Sony Vaio has crapped out on me for the third time, once again crippling my ability to scan, color, and post shiny new strips. Fortunately I had this old thing lying around from back when I was worred about potential employers frowning upon photographic copyright infringement. I don't think I ever posted this thing, but if I did I apologize for the redundancy.

But wait! You ask. Um, say. You say. Wait! Didn't you uproot yourself and jackass all the way up the coast to start at a new school and live in a new city so you could be with your wonderful fiancee? And doesn't she have a laptop of her very own? Surely you can use her computer for such things!

That certainly was the plan, until about noon today when our cable modem stopped working. Sony and Comcast are conspiring against the furtherment of I Fought the Law, and this cowboy isn't going down without a fight.

And also, the network drive here on campus is down so I can't get to my resume. That's no good. No good at all. If I were about 3,000 miles to my right I might blame all this on some kind of weather pattern but out here all we have is the 90 degree heat and the technically incompetent consumer-level electronics providers. I wonder how things are going in Minnesota.

Fossil Webguy, I Hate You So

Dear Fossil Webguy,

Thank you very much for repeatedly ignoring my pleas to stop sending me e-mail about special offers. I'm using a fake e-mail address to send you this message in order to avoid any increase in Fossil Webguy missives.

Your stubborn refusal to acknowledge the wishes of your customers is truly inspiring. Fossil Webguy, you must be one sexy man. I've never seen what you look like, but you're clearly a rebel to the core. You've somehow usurped the position of Internet liaison to an uptight corporate establishment-style timepiece manufacturer, and are using your title to undermine the consumer relations of one of America's most powerful companies. Your insistence on polluting inboxes with explicitly unwanted e-mails will no doubt drive customers running away from Fossil and toward smaller mom-and-pop watch manufacturers. And for that you should be commended. Way to stick it to those corporate fat-cats.

Fossil Webguy, you've shown me the error of my ways. I was foolish enough to succumb to Fossil's stylish advertising and buy myself a Fossil watch (from a Fossil STORE, no less!). But never again. Your symbolic act of mercilessly hurling the virulent garbage of the Fossil corporation at me via the Internet has cured me of any affinity toward Fossil once and for all.

Keep up the good fight, Fossil Webguy. You've turned this once ad-loving American around, but there remains much to be done.

Warmest regards,

Robert H. Bork

Down At Our Rendezvous


As a somewhat irreverent tribute to the late Mr. Ritter I've decided to re-create my all-time favorite Three's Company scene. For those of you who aren't Allen, I'll provide a brief synopsis of the episode wherein the scene plays out.

Terry, nervous about working the night shift at the hospital, takes a self-defense class. She shows Jack and Janet a move that purportedly can subdue any manner of assailant, demonstrating, naturally, on Mr. Tripper himself. At some point later in the episode Mr. Furley comes frantically running into the apartment screaming "Big guy little guy! Bam bam bam!" After some attempts at calming him down the roommates figure out that there's a fight happening downstairs, and rush down to see what's the matter. Finding a large man engaged in a struggle with a smaller man, Jack flawlessly executes Terry's self-defense move on the larger man, incapacitating him long enough for the smaller man to scamper off. Unfortunately for Jack, the smaller man was a thief and the larger man is a police officer, an Jack is promptly arrested.

Placed in a holding cell full of hardened criminals, Jack calls for help after being threatened by the leader, "Big Eddie." In response the guard admonishes Jack for beating up the arresting officer, at which point the thugs in the cell start moving away from Jack toward the opposite side of the cell. The gag is that the thugs think Jack is strong/crazy enough to beat up a big burly cop, and thus are scared to death of him. Jack figures out what's going on and latches onto it, exploiting his new reputation to intimidate and make spurious demands from his cellmates. And it's fucking funny.

Just to wrap things up, Jack ultimately escapes prosecution after one of the processing officers cracks wise about Jack's diminutive size, enabling the roommates to shame the arresting officer into letting Jack go to avoid admitting that he was beaten up by little, little man. Not to be confused with an earlier episode where Jack unknowingly knocks out an undercover cop (played by James Cromwell) who mistakes Chrissy for a hooker, and avoids arrest after Mr. Roper makes a comment about Jack being a gay.

God Forgot to Wind It



Television lost one of its great comedic talents today. Actor John Ritter died unexpectedly at age 54 of a heart defect. Ritter's contributions to mainstream television are immeasureable. As the star of one of the medium's most influental programs, John helped define the direction that television would take, has taken, and will take.

But in addition to playing the title role in the bittersweet 1987-89 detective series Hooperman, John also appeared in a little-known 1970s sitcom called Three's Company. This show, followed by a small yet loyal cult of viewers, aired weeknights for a number of years at 6:30 and 7:00 on the Los Angeles affiliate KTLA 5.

In all seriousness, I realize that John Ritter has done a bunch of different things, but let's face it. His contribution to the entertainment world pretty much begins and ends with Three's Company. I don't say that to downplay his significance. Indeed, Three's Company was an important show, for a number of reasons. It premiered toward the tail end of the 1970s, a decade in which shows like All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show pretty much shattered the reigning genre of American Sitcoms. Both shows unabashedly tackled controversial social issues and portrayed what at the time were considered "alternative lifestyles" (such as a single woman living alone, or interracial couples) in a positive light.

In addition to breaking down the antiseptic, White-bread nature of the 50s and 60s sitcoms, however, the early 70s also saw an abandonment of the sight gags and physical comedy that were so important in shows like I Love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke. The humor in the news shows was mainly verbal: people sitting around and arguing or lobbing insults at each other. It worked well, but American audiences were left wanting a little more slapstick from thei socially aware, intellectual sitcoms.

Enter John Ritter. Playing the obviously named "Jack Tripper," John secured the role of slapstick physical comedy in the new sitcom era. Whether he was falling over a couch, getting hit by a door, accidentally grabbing a hot iron, or climbing a trellis with predictable yet hilarious results, John was executing well-crafted and highly effective comedy without uttering a single word. And yet what's remarkable at Three's Company is that it managed to maintain the social awareness of earlier sitcoms while maintaining slapstick as its comedic core. It's taken for granted that the characters are openly dating and having casual sex without any intention of settling down and getting married (indeed, it took one of the characters getting married to end the show's seven-year run). In fact, once the Ropers were gone they didn't even bother supplying a foil to this swinging lifestyle. The Ropers' replacement, Mr. Furley, was an aging bachelor whose own feeble attempts at getting laid were a fertile source of comedy for the show.

More significantly, the show presented a moral regime in which open homosexuality was more respectable than single men and women living together. While the latent homophobia of the downstairs neighbors provided a lot of social commentary, the fact that the landlords were willing to tolerate homosexuality (not to mention casual sex with strangers) but not sex between roommates was a statement in itself.

So, it's safe to emphasize Three's Company without running the risk of downlplay John Ritter's talents. While much of his post-Three's Company work in the 80s and 90s (Problem Child and Stay Tuned come to mind) were less than remarkable, his performance in Slingblade did a few things to revitalize in his career. His new sitcom, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, was taping its second season when John Ritter collapsed on the set.

In closing, in addition to being too young to die by any standards, John Ritter was arguably standing on the verge of a second run at enterainment notability. Nothing could ever top the influence of Three's Company, but John definitely had a decent amount of gags left in him. He will certainly be missed.

Overture... Curtains Lights

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I wasn't quite sure what to make of this story about the theatrical leanings of certain members of Our Judiciary, so I figured I'd see how their brethren would look on stage. In any case it seems that opening night opera performances are more attractive to Supreme Court Justices than pie-eating contests.

I think these kinds of stories are tickling because of the reclusiveness of the Supreme Court Justices. Unlike politicians who seek every possible photo-op, the Supremes don't even allow cameras during proceedings. My theory is that the Justices don't want visual representations of themselves because they're all profoundly unattractive people (except Kennedy). But I propose that since the Judiciary is, in a philosophical sense, the most directly accessible government branch (to the extent that private citizens, rather than politicians, are the focus in the courtroom), it wouldn't hurt for the Justices, as the helmspersons of the Judiciary, to make themselves available apart from the occasional Ivy League commencement speech.

And that's my story.

Poll Vault


Well, shoot. It appears as though Chuck Palahniuk will be appearing at Cody's tonight at 7:30. I have class until 4:35, and I have to finish the final edit of my law review application and write a personal statement about how I'll contribute to the diversity of Law Review (I assume that "I have two half-Mexican half-siblings" won't be an effective thesis). Both are due tomorrow.

So the question now is do I (a) forget about Chuck and stay and finish my crap, (b) go and visit Chuck without getting an autograph, (c) go and buy a copy of Choke, which I haven't read, and have him autograph it, or (d) drive to Alameda, pick up my copy of Survivor, (my favorite Chuck book and one of my favorite books in general) and return to have Chuck sign it?

Any suggestions? (Either on the personal statement or the Chuck dilemma.)

Two (Balls) Is a Crowd

This just in regarding a possible broadcast of John Ritter's nutsack. Up until now my favorite part of that episode has been where they sneak into the ventriloquist's apartment, open the trunk, pull out Pamela's (the dummy) hand, and run screaming back to their own apartment. Jack, of course, runs the whole way on his knees. Because he's Jack Tripper, that's why.

But more importantly:

The series isn't available on DVD yet; the first season is [sic] scheduled to be released until early 2004

AAAAAAA! Three's Company DVDs! I want them! I want them NOW. Maybe I can borrow Jewel's time machine and travel into the future and buy them. Failing that, you'll all know what to get me for my 26th birthday.

This Time, Jewel, You've Gone Too Far


I've been trying to write this entry all week, but I could never seem to get it right. I realize now that I just wasn't angry enough. Only after seeing a commercial last night for a women's razor underscored by the accordions of Jewel's "Intuition" am I finally able to give form to my ire.

I've suffered the music of Jewel since high school. Not necessarily by choice. I tend to listen to radio stations that tend to play Jewel. And, frankly, I've never found her music to be offensive enough to change the station. Also, one of my good friends in high school was a Jewel fan from way back, even before "Who Will Save Your Soul?", so I had to pretend to like her, at least for her sake. But I can keep my silence no longer. There are just too many bad things about "Intuition." Someone must take a stand, and I nominate me.

First, some background. Jewel broke into mainstream radio amid just as the post-grunge chaos of the mid-90s music scene was settling down, and people were ready to start feeling good about themselves again. As peppy, mindless ska and "modern swing" tunes started pouring out of speakers across the country, a soft-voiced blonde temptress challenged people to take charge of their personal destinies in a world full of things trying to capitalize on their faith. The song was thoughtful, and the singer was charming in her own meek way. She had a nice rack, a pretty (if slightly pumpkin-like) face, and yet her gnarled snaggle-tooth gave her a more attainable everyday-person look. She didn't fit the mold of the female artists of the time. She was attractive, didn't seem particularly angry about anything, and had better things to talk about than the last failed relationship. In short, the Tracy Bonhams and Patti Rothbergs are shaking in their aggressive woman boots.

Emboldened by her success, Jewel followed up with "You Were Meant for Me." At the time I had suspicions that we had been fooled. While "Who Will Save Your Soul" actually had a thing or two to say about a thing or two, "You Were Meant for Me" appeared to deal entirely with, as I said, the last failed relationship. That, coupled with the fact that the first verse is about breakfast (reminiscent of Squeeze's "Tempted," which introduces itself with several lines about toiletries), was enough to lower Jewel irreparably in my estimation.

Then came "Foolish Games," our first introduction to the the god-awful "poetic" stylings that Jewel would eventually insist on turning into a book. Subscribing to the "the lyrics may not rhyme, but at least they don't follow a rhythm, either" school of songwriting, Jewel mumbled and fake-cried her way to chart-topping success once again. Now there was no stopping her.

Over the next few years Jewel's singles followed a familiar pattern of mixing uninspired platitudes ("If I could tell the world just one thing it would be that we're all okay") with incomprensible high-school poetry ("My hands are small I know but they're not yours they are my own"). And I listened, teeth clenched, but I listened. Even when she had the audacity to use "Do you want me like I want you" in a song released during the twenty-first fucking century, I brooded inwardly without making too much of a fuss.

But "Intuition," oh, that's just too much. Jewel appears to be trying to reconnect with her original success, telling people to be themselves in a world that wants them to be someone else. In short, don't buy into fads. That's great. It's too bad Jewel has completely abandoned the style of music that shaped her career by jumping on the bandwagon of ghettoing-up her music, you know, to appeal to the young people. Congratulations, Jewel, on finding a drum machine and a soundboard that makes you sound like you're on the phone. Were they in the dumpster outside the studio where No Doubt recorded Rocksteady? Or maybe you borrowed them from Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Madonna, Tori Amos, or any of the other dozens of female artists who've made the exact same move over the past five years. Tori Amos at least had the sense to bring back the piano after her intolerable dance album. Here's hoping Jewel sees the same light.

But perhaps I'm being too hard on Jewel. Maybe her belated buy-in to the fake hip-hop genre is really a brilliant post-modern statement on the very thing the song is talking about. Even granting (quite generously) that conclusion, there's still the matter of the super-relativistic speed with which she hocked that song off to the women's razor industry. It was positively unphysical. She must have recorded the song, and then taken the song back in time and given it to the razor people before it was even recorded. That's the only way. The only way.

On top of that, the lyrical content is terrible even by Jewel's standards. "Sell your skin, just cash in"? Is that your way of telling us that radio stations don't play Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song" enough? "If you want me let me know I promise I won't say no"? What the hell does that have to do with anything else you say in the song? Is it in your contract that you have to get laid in every song you write now? And let us not forget "It's not hard to understand just follow this simple plan." I swear to God I can almost hear Homer saying "Something something then you'll see, you'll avoid catastrophe."

This is truly a new low, not only for Jewel, but for music in general. My intuition is telling me to sell my goddamned radio.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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