1. Paint By Number Culture

    Walking in any shop by the magazine aisle now feels like a Philip K Dick novel. I see magazines featuring people with mentions of going-ons in their life: a new baby, an argument with a spouse, a disruption of lifestyle. While these events are important to the person experiencing them, they matter little to a stranger. All these people on the magazines are strangers– I have no idea who they are, what they do and why I should care. Sometimes I feel as if I have slipped into an alternate universe where things are a bit different, such as Dewey defeated Truman or Buddy Holly is alive. I feel like a character in a Philip K Dick novel wondering how I ended up here and if I’ll need a canister of Ubik.

    I wonder who these people are and why they are famous or important. No one– even adoring fans– can tell me why.

    Ultimately it seems they are famous for being famous.

    In the BBC documentary Synth Britannia, part covered the rise of Gary Numan and his first breakaway hits. Gary Numan is as pop as they come, albeit a bit odd sometimes but still pop. Other electronic pop musicians were astounded as even in the same scene and location they had never heard of Numan. His music striked a few people, who told a few others, and soon he was on Top of the Pops in the UK performing. This is not the process today. I have no illusions that culture was driven by much more than sales in the past, but things are different. Rather than an artist’s ‘work’ attracting the attention of people, its just the artist. The son or daughter of a pop star, wrestler, or whatever is the commodity, not the work. The ‘work’ is added later– dubbed in, greenscreened, and composited as an afterthought. The usual formula for fame today consists of staring on a reality TV show such as American Idol or The Bachelor. From there it is up to the producers, investors, and executives to mold the person into whatever they think can bring a profit. Perhaps they consider themselves artists, crafting the pale facades dubbed the celebrity.

    I believe the celebrity is not art, its rudimentary mimicry or “Paint by Number.” Paint by Number, a once popular activity but by no means obscure, provided a canvas with predefined areas labeled by number. The owner of the kit could then fill in the shapes by following the directions. Few Paint by Number enthusiasts would call themselves artists as they were simply following a predefined set of metrics. Something similar happens with marketing and ad sales people: there is a set of definitions which are then executed. Like any system of finite input there will be only finite output: much like paint by number or computer programming. Garbage in, garbage out.

    The reduction of creativity seemingly spans across all forms of culture: music, movies, books– everything. As Jason Kottke noted, only one of the top twenty highest grossing movies in the 2000′s was an original screenplay not adapted from elsewhere: Finding Nemo.

    The rest were made by combing attributes geared towards profit. Take the Transformers franchise for example: take a popular toy, add a dash of explosionporn from Michael Bay, toss in a healthy portion of a sexy actress stir and taste the blockbuster. Oh, and a plot, well, that can just be kinda fudged in later. If I made soup like Hollywood makes movies I would simply add some of my favorite foods (say gin martini, salmon, curry, green tea ice cream, spicy brown mustard, and jalapenos) in a large pot and expect it to taste delicious. Somehow I don’t think gin, ice cream, spicy brown mustard and jalapenos go well.

    The result is culture products with carefully chosen content (Vampires, LOLcats, superheros, Twitter, ’80s retro) commodified into a package then distributed by a chosen ‘famous’ person who meets a similar set of trending buzzword statistical attributes. This is how a stock broker works, not an artist. We all know how successful those stock brokers are these days.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to finish something for Simon Cowell where he’s a vampire LOLcat superhero that uses Twitter in the ’80s.


  2. Jimmy Stewart, Tom Slick, and a Yeti Hand

    What do you mean Harry?
    In the late 1950′s Texan oil  tycoon Tom Slick launched an expedition to Nepal. He searched of a rumored hand of yeti hand, now called the Pangbouche Hand, allegedly used as part of a ritual in the Himalayas. That area is home to many legends such as “The Abominable Snowman” with white fur and its redheaded stepchild Almas.

    He located the hand at a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche. Subsequent treks brought photos of the hand and ultimately the hand itself. The monks declined these fast talking city slickers in coats request to have the hand removed for study.

    Slick’s associate Peter Byrne cracked a plan: replace the hand with human remains and smuggle it out of Nepal. Then what?

    That’s where Byrne and Slick’s hunting buddy/flying pal and all around American good-guy actor Jimmy Stewart comes in. Yes, It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey and Rear Window Jimmy Stewart. Stewart rushed to India and smuggled the hand to London. To avoid confiscation Stewart hid the hand in his wife’s unspeakables– her underwear. This was confirmed in a letter Stewart wrote to Loren Coleman as Coleman was writing Slick’s biography.

    Tests so far have been inconclusive if its a genuine article or a hoax. What parts were added by Byrne’s bamboozling or what parts are original also remains unclear.

    The only clear thing is lets hope Stewart discarded his lady’s underwear after being wrapped in rotten yeti flesh.


  3. Demand Celebrity Death Panel Choice, Patriot!

    CYOceleb_death

    Remember when the thick rich soup of internet infotainment was touted as the food of a new race of superintelligent uber-citizens who would zoom from source to source with a keen eye for the facts?

    Yeah.  The future has always been full of shit.

    So instead we get Sarah Palin’s pearls of wisdom drooled out via Facebook, raising the specter of government death panels chomping at the bit to liquidate her Down syndrome baby’.

    As an aside, whenever challenged about anything, from now on, I’m going to reply ‘You want to kill my baby with Down syndrome.’  Bulletproof.

    In this brave new post-facts reality, I think Obama would be foolish to try to refute this charge by say, calmly refuting the death panel rumor as weird gibberish and talking some sense. No way, once an idea gets dipped in the delicious candy coating that is a buzzword like ‘death panel’ there’s no way something wimpy like multi-syllabic facts could combat it.

    No sir.  In the heartland, the small towns, in the Real America, they only want three things: Freedom.  Celebrities.  And meth.  Let’s give them two of the three, shall we?

    Celebrity Death Panels! All Americans should go get their freak on as loud as possible at their local town hall, scaring the beejezus out of their elected representatives by bellowing support for the right to choose a panel of the famous to decide whether one lives or dies once they near that border line of one’s worth to society.

    I’ve already got mine picked out:  Celine Dion (don’t ask me to explain this one), Henry Rollins (after studying his lyrics, I think he’d reliably vote to pull the plug should I be wired to a ventilator and a poop tube), that pneumatic JFK from Sans Soleil, and Kevin Federline (he’s made a career out of looking like he could use the work)

    Fellow TITLEr Mr. Veer puts in his request for Bob Saget, Alan Thicke, Tony Danza, and Dave Couiler, possibly so as to be gently ushered off to death’s door with some learning-a-valuable-lesson music and a lingering sitcom father figure glow.

    Hit the comments and name your dream panel or twitter it with #celebdeathpanel


  4. Unanswered Mail: Joe Biden's Dislosure

    Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist, contributor to Fox News, and Photoshopped images of liberal politician enthusiast. In late May, she wrote on the shocking revelation that– get this– Vice President Dick Cheney had been hiding in the basement of his own house. She did not have the time or care to respond to this email:

    May 19, 2009:

    Dear Michelle Malkin,

    Thanks for bringing to light in your blog post in regards to Mr Biden revealing that the undisclosed location the President lives at is actually underneath the Naval Observatory (http://michellemalkin.com/2009/05/18/bidenrrhea-of-the-mouth/). Obviously, this is a strong breach of national security and as you said “Secure, undisclosed? Not anymore.”

    Now, I have a confession to make. I may have, inadvertently, released this information in 1994. When I say release I mean I think I wrote a report on it in elementary school. I think the report said “Vice Presidant [sic] lives at the Naval Observatory.” I don’t know how wide, or how circulated this report was in intelligence communities. I know it was read by a particular Mrs Clippart.

    Perhaps my elementary school was actually a training ground for terrorists as I recall numerous books called “encyclopedias,” which is kind of like Wikipedia, documenting the same slip Mr Biden made.  I believe we were also forced to take training drills called “pop quizzes” and recall such sensitive information as where the Vice President lives. In addition on a school fieldtrip to Washington DC on the way to the zoo (hippos rule!) we also were shown the Vice President’s now disclosed location and it even had a sign pointing to as such.

    Obviously the agencies and individuals seeking to keep Mr Cheny’s location secret would not say hide him supposedly in a house that since 1974 has been well documented to be where the Vice President lives. Nor would they simply place him below that area so that anyone seeking to take out “Number 2″ would need to just ask someone good at trivia questions “Hey, where does the Vice Preisdent live?” No, that would be way irresponsible to hide the Vice President under the known location at which he lives. Especially if for some reason it is necessary the Vice President go to an undisclosed location. It would not be some sort of lazy cop out with a giant steel door in the comfort of his own home. That would be absurdly irresponsible.

    So in the end shame on Mr Biden for releasing that information, and shame on me for writing a report on that with a picture of a cool dog.

    Regards,
    [Lorem Ipsum]

    PS Your disclosure policy link is bad (http://v2.michellemalkin.com/privacy-policy/) on your contact page. It gives me a 404 error not found. Removing the ‘v2′ at the beginning works.


  5. Origin Story: Lies about Michael Crichton

    crichton_triad

    Way back in the dark ages of 2008–a year sure to be called, henceforth, “The Fuckening”–my original designs for titleofmagazine were largely fermented cubicle thoughts merging pop science blurbs with lies about authors whose names appear in raised type on their books’ dust jackets.  I had fantasies of gently ribbing airport bookstore gods such as Dean “Groping Golden Hand” Koontz and Michael “Gigantor” Crichton into turning my life into a treeless version of The Most Dangerous Game.

    But alas, Crichton’s heart gave out.  The man was 6’20″ and given to flogging the writing muscles until they squeezed out the purest extracts of commuter-ready techno-thriller and such a strain finally took its toll.  He died the undisputed king of jamming the Clif’s Notes version of modern science up a tyrannosaurus’s ass and then rolling in its cash scented excretions.  A wild ride indeed.

    So instead of a running joke, I offer the following as an homage.  No one gave the ol’ literary hip check to his detractors like Michael Crichton.  Wikipedia tells a tale of political columnist, Yale graduate and Crichton critic Michael Crowley:

    In his 2006 novel Next (released November 28 of that year), Crichton introduces a character named “Mick Crowley” who is a Yale graduate and a Washington D.C.-based political columnist. “Crowley” is portrayed by Crichton as a child molester with a small penis. The character is a minor one who does not appear elsewhere in the book.

    Ouch.  At least he didn’t make him a Nazi needle-dicked child molester.

    If I ran Wikipedia…

    In Blaze, Crichton’s unpublished novel about a stripper who has a supernatural ability to predict events in fantasy baseball, Crichton introduces a character named Al Gower, a vice president from Tennessee.  “Gower” is described as a child molester with “penile botulism” who hates science fiction novels and maintains a superstitious fear of “spooks n’ hot weather ha’ints.”

    - – -
    Michael Crichton has a reoccuring dream where he meets Mark Twain.  In it, Twain produces a gold medal from inside his cream-colored suit coat and says “Here, this really belongs to you.”  The raised print on the medal reads, simply: “The Greatest.”

    “After that, we went on to have Adventures,” Crichton said.  He added: “Make sure you capitalize ‘Adventures’ when you type that up.”  He repeated this request at the end of the interview, holding out the handshake with an insistent grip until I verbally agreed.

    - – -

    Michael Crichton doesn’t believe in global warming because of something Michael Jackson once told him at a secret dinner for Famous Michaels.

    He has a tattoo on his ankle that says “FM”

    - – -

    Michael Crichton rewrote that song and that movie as “I Shot the
    Sheriff, the Deputy, the Cook and His Wife (And I Winged Jeff Goldblum Too)”  There are no curse words but graphic descriptions of grave-robbing, cannibalism and organ theft.  There is also a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

    The song is reported to be play over the closing credits on the
    unreleased Definitive Exclusive Ultimate Edition Director’s Cut of The Great Train Robbery, pushing the film to a likely NC-17 rating.

    - – -
    Michael Crichton stays quiet during sex to keep higher ranking females from punishing him for having sex with the best males.