The Monday Morning Black Cloud: 12.15.03

Welcome back to your new Monday morning fix. I got my Gloomchen and my Randle all pumped up to help me lift the black cloud from your Monday and replace it with mine. Oh, and in case you wanted to do me a small favor for writing this, tell your friends and family about it. Maybe send them a link. I’d like to hear what people who have never read me before think of this column.

For our top story, well, let’s see. There’re the remnants of a war going on in Iraq. The Dow pushed past 10,000 on Friday. There’s a race to be the Democratic candidate for the Presidency. What to choose, what to choose AHA!

THE THIRD LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE OPENS ON WENDESDAY!

YAY! I mean, hurray, right? Right? I mean, you have all of the great characters completing their journey. Characters like Froto and his best friend Rudy! Characters like Grandalf and Aragal! Characters like elf guy and dwarf head! And of course, who can ever forget the pivotal journeys of the most overlooked muppet, Merry Pippin (I think he’s related to Scotty).

Sure, some of us only saw the movies while we were drunk and stoned and spent far more time talking with our friends and pissing off others in the theater than watching the amazing technical work that produced that character Gollim. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t all forget the horrible troubles in the world and celebrate the fact that we’ll finally find out what that ring is. And I’m speaking for myself here, but no troll, Mork OR Mindy is going to stop me from being first on line! Because that’s how I’m buying my ticket. Online.

I managed to secure an interview with the star of the film, Froto himself, Toby McGuire. The interview will be displayed in full once Toby drops the lawsuit, but until then here’s an excerpt to whet your whistle.

Josh: So, Toby, first let me say that I loved you in Lord of the Rings. I hope you get a nomination

Toby: Oh! Oh no, that’s Elijah Wood. Haha.

Josh: Wait, you were the guy in The Cider House RULES, right?

Toby: Yeah. Umm, I don’t think you’re supposed to emphasize the word rules there.

Josh: I know! Look, I recognized you from that movie as Froto. Same guy.

Toby: Trust me, it’s

Josh: TRUST YOU? TRUST YOU?! TRUST THIS BITCH!

The rest of the interview, well, I can’t comment on it as the lawsuit is pending. Anyway, on behalf of 411mania, we’d like to thank country singer/film maker Alan Jackson for giving us these amazing 4 movies, and more importantly, the gigantic media blitz for this and the past Decembers. It has dominated magazine covers in place of missing people and dead soldiers and taught us that we can influence the news by give 300 million dollars of our hard earned money to Hollywood. Remember, there can be only one! Enjoy the film.

And now, some life advice from my favorite writer on the web, Gloomchen with

Nihilism and Cupcakes

Quit deluding yourself.

Take a look at someone like Vanilla Ice. Of course you remember him, right? He was on top of the world once. His music was catchy and all the white folk loved him to bits. Girls had posters of him on their walls. Money was rolling into his bank account faster than lava down a volcano. He was impervious! But then, he made a song for Ninja Turtles, he starred in a terrible movie based on himself, and the magical spell he held over the public vanished. Reinventing himself as neither a ganja-smoking gangsta-rapper nor a rap-metal hardass could bring him back. The damage was long since done.

It all crumbles that quickly.

Are you watching yourself from afar? Maybe you should double-check your travel receipts. It gets pretty expensive buying hotel rooms for both you and for your ego.

Oh, sure, you were great — once. And you probably still have the potential to be great today or again someday. Somewhere in the middle, however, your head has gotten muddled. Instead of being yourself and letting your creative ideas flourish, you’ve begun fishing for that lowest common denominator, anything that will suddenly kick-start your life back on track and the world will once again kiss your feet.

But you’re getting to the point where you’ve almost tried everything, yet there is still no fanfare. In fact, you’re seeing more fanfare for your friends and those you feel you’ve taught and raised in your shadow. They have no right growing above and beyond you, right? It’s time to knock their pretty little castles back to the ground. They were nothing before you, and they’ll be nothing when you’re through with them.

If anyone’s paying attention, that is. If anyone gives a shit about what you think anymore.

It’s pretty rough falling down the mountain, isn’t it? And I’ll bet you thought it was bad climbing up the damn thing.

I’m only going to offer this advice once, because if you don’t take it, you’re not worthy of getting to hear it twice. Treasure your friends. Love what you have. Whether or not you are king of the mountain should not be an issue. Tell the tales of your past and move on, or take a moment to cleanse your mind of all the bullshit and start building a new cult from the ground up. Stop living in the past. Stop blaming others for your inadequacies. Don’t hate others for doing “your” things better than you do them. Take pride in the legacy you’ve created.

Stop hoping for media coverage of you blowing out your 80th birthday candles. Try focusing on having someone there to light them for you.

Gloomchen

Thank you Gloomhead. Let’s see, anything else happen in the world? Any big news to report? Oh, yeah!

Too few flu shots. Say it five times fast.

America, we have a brand new catchphrase: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! IT’S THE FLU!

A few scant months after yanking our crank with the SARS scare, scientists have decided that everything old is new again and are touting the flu as the next plague. According to the AP Media, experts warn that a pandemic, a worldwide outbreak of the flu, is coming in the near future.

“It’s going to happen,” said Dr. Greg Poland of the Mayo Clinic. “For the American public in particular, I think it will be horrific.”

He then concluded, “DUM DUM DUMMMMMMMMMMMM!”

Flu shots cannot help us! The virus will have mutated into a new strain unbeknownst to our piddling scientists! There is nowhere to run because it will be everywhere! You thought your fever and cough was bad this year, people? NEXT YEAR YOU WILL BE DEAD! YOU’RE NOT SAFE WITH YOUR FRIENDS! YOU’RE NOT SAFE WITH YOUR FAMILY! BUILD AND STOCK YOUR FLU SHELTERS 20 MILES BELOW THE EARTH AND PREPARE FOR KINGDOM COME!

I’m sorry. I’m not even going to get a flue shot or that new nasal flu thing. It’s the flu. It’s not Ebola, America. It’s the damn flu. You know what’s worse than the flu? Chicken Pox. I’ll get me a box of tissues, some Dayquil, chicken soup and a bottle of Advil and I’ll be fine.

Don’t we have enough to be scared of? I mean, I know the media needs to scare us with foreign sounding terrorists and what not so they can sell newspapers, and occasionally a rare disease comes around that has the potential to make everyone panic and buy more newspapers, but come on! It’s the flu! It’s not the black death! We’re going to get to a point where someone sneezes and we all run away screaming if we keep this up.

I have to admit, I am a little scared. It was going to snow on Sunday, but the flu push was so big that I didn’t even hear one time about how this would be the snow fall to cripple the economy once and for all. When our news people are so afraid of something that they forget to be afraid of snow, well, that scares me.

But good news may be on the horizon as a movie star has died from pneumonia, meaning that may be the new disease of the month. Whether it is or not, we’ll miss Keiko the whale.

What else happened this weekend? Oh! Hey!

Saddam Hussein Found In Hole.

Early word is it was the hole he’d been digging himself into for years.

Apparently trying out the hot psycho “Unabomber” look, a bearded and disheveled Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces in a dirt pit across a river from one of his former palaces in Tikrit. Not a single shot was fired, and the whole thing went pretty smoothly. Especially amusing to the US Forces were the homely hand painted signs that said, “Home Is Where The Dirt Pit Is,” and, “God Bless This Mess.” Good to see the brutal murdering dictator hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

In Baghdad, Iraqis celebrated by firing their guns in air and shouting, “They got Saddam! They got Saddam!” Then in the middle of the street, a woman gave birth to twins. Iraqis celebrated by firing their guns in the air and shouting, “She gave birth to twins! She gave birth to twins!” Then a car passed by. Iraqis celebrated by firing their guns in the air and shouting, “The car! Look at the car! Hey, anybody got some extra bullets? Celebrating is great and all, but now that Saddam is gone it’s time to really focus on killing infidel Satan America.”

Upon his capture Saddam Hussein was examined by a military doctor. The doctor said that Saddam seemed to be dirty, a condition that one may incur while living in a dirt pit. The doctor then stated that Saddam seems to be in good health and would remain that way until the brutal execution.

While Washington hopes that capturing the madman/dirt devotee will help break the organized Iraqi resistance, General Major Ray Odierno said that Saddam did not appear to be commanding the resistance. No communication devices were found in his hiding place (dirt pit). The General Major hypothesized, “I believe he was there more for moral support.” Yes, when I want to provide moral support to a troubled friend or family member, I go off and live in a dirt pit.

Saddam was said to be “very disoriented” when soldiers brought him out of the hole. “Ummm, where am I? Who are you people? What day is it? I seem to have remembered having a hat! Where’s my hat? Who took my hat?” The soldier who took Saddam’s hat returned it with apologies.

After getting his wits about him, Saddam remained defiant as he was told that if he were to see the streets of Baghdad now, people would be celebrating. “Those are mobs,” said the dictator. When asked about the mass graves, Saddam said, “Those are thieves.” When asked if he wanted a shower, Saddam said, “Please. I’ve been living in a dirt pit.”

President Bush announced to the world that Saddam Hussein will get the fair trial he deprived so many of. All of the low level Al Qaida members and accused terrorist conspirators being held by the United States in Cuba were said to find this, “Somewhat ironic. Not funny ironic because we did so much less than Saddam and he gets a fair trial while we’re stuck here without the right to so much as speak to a lawyer, but ironic nonetheless.”

Meanwhile, Afghani officials believe that the capture of Saddam Hussein will make it easier to catch Osama Bin Laden. The leader of the search team released this statement:
I swear to God in Heaven, if I have to go into one more (expletive deleted) cave I’m going to kill myself.

There was one very interesting quote at the end of the Afghani news story from the AP. “I don’t want any Muslim to be captured by infidels,” said Zulfiqar Jalali, a 27-year-old officer standing outside a police station on a traffic-congested Kabul street. “Saddam is an Iraqi and has the right to live freely in his country.” A van marked “Universal Sales Associates” then stopped in front of Zulfiqar and 3 armed men threw him in the back of the van. I’m sure he’s off to a better place.

So Saddam is caught and the Dow is past 10,000 and climbing. It sure looks like Bush is going to be reelected, and you know what? That’s almost okay. While George W. Bush shouldn’t be President of the United States, Howard Dean shouldn’t be President of a Clam Bake. The Democrats need a candidate who’s for real, maybe a couple of them. Otherwise, the Republicans can keep running idiots and jerks against us and continue winning. My brother told me he was so glad that Gore wasn’t President when 9/11 took place, and while I disagreed with him I saw his point. But imagine if McCain had been President. We would not be in Iraq right now, and no matter how many brutal dictators we capture it is not worth one US body bag being sent home to attack a country which had no means of attacking us. Our army is meant to defend us, not force our way of life on the rest of the world. When we ask our young men and women to go off to a foreign country and put themselves in the way of bullets, it better be for a damn good reason. I don’t know if McCain, a man who was held prisoner in Vietnam and a man without the strong ties to oil companies that Bush and Cheney have, would have seen the reason to send our troops over there. I’m just saying.

78 Year Old Mixed-Race Woman Claims Strom Thurmond Is Her Father.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, a half African American half Caucasian school teacher from Los Angeles, is claiming that deceased Senator Thurmond is her father. She said Thurmond, who ran for President on the Dixiecrat platform of segregation, was always very nice to her when they saw each other, calling her “a lovely daughter.”

I hate pointing my finger at liberals, but shame on you. Shame on you for convicting Trent Lott as racist before you found out this news! See, when he said we’d be better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected president, he wasn’t saying the US would be better with segregation. He was saying that we’d be better off if we all had a President who got jungle fever!

I’m not going to lie, I love it when stuff like this happens. Even if the claim is false, which it might very well be, it’s nice to see what incredible hypocrites these men who claim to know the right way to live are. It’s like hearing President Clinton say that gays must not be allowed to be married for the sanctity of marriage or to hear President Bush talk about education. It’s when morals expert Bill Bennett has a gambling problem or when right wing blow hard Bill O’Reilly who talks about telling the truth so much gets caught in one of his many, many, many lies. It’s hearing media whore movie stars denounce the media while religious leaders are stumbling over themselves over molestation charges. It is the theater of the hypocrite and I love it as much as anyone does.

No good can come from reporting on this accusation. Either it’s true or it’s not, doesn’t matter, the guy is dead. But I say bring it on and bring it on big time, because President Bush promising to look into accusations that his good friends at Halliburton are screwing the American government on oil as the American government joins Halliburton in screwing the Iraqi people on oil isn’t quite hypocritical enough for me. Give me more! Give me one of the most prominent racists in American history having a black daughter. Give me experts speaking on both sides of the “issue”. Give me some idiot Republican running to Thurmond’s defense because NOTHING that idiot can say can be construed as anything but racism. Give me up to date information and blood tests and a news ticker solely devoted to Strom Thurmond’s affairs with black ladies. Let’s hear denouncements of the Senator from white pride groups who once loved him. Let’s hear Rush Limbaugh speak his pill popping mind on this. Let’s hear Al Franken’s scathing jabs, followed by a lecture about how all the Republicans spread are lies and hate. Let me bathe in the sea of hypocrisy until I feel clean. Thank you, America. Thank you, theater of the hypocrite.

SISTER ACT III: F*#K YOU, VATICAN!

Grammy winner Lauryn Hill shocked Catholic officials when she told them to “repent:” and made references to the molestation of young boys by priests at a concert held in Vatican City.

As five Cardinals sat and watched, Lauryn stated that she did not believe in “representatives of God on Earth” and said that “God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses … by the clergy.”

Worst of all were the altered lyrics to her song, “Doo Wop.”

Boys, you know you better watch out!
Some Priests, some Priests are only about!
That thing, that thing, that thing.

The Pope was very upset over Lauryn’s outburst and released the following statement:
Lauryn Hill thinks she is so hot, but she’s not! Like, when she was part of The Fugees she was awesome, but only because she had Clef and Pras carrying her. Look at the three of them since the group broke up! I mean, Clef has gone on to be an awesome producer/collaborator, Pras released one of the greatest rap songs of all time with Ghetto Superstar, and what has Lauryn done? Oh, she won a Grammy! Big deal! That album, while not containing one bad track per say, was just a bunch of slightly better than average songs! I personally think that if Brandy focused for a year instead of popping out baby after baby, she could have the same success that Lauryn did. Still, I have to give my girl Hill props. Did you see the video she did where New York was a giant record? That was SO cool.

The Pope then skipped away humming the chorus to Ghetto Superstar, never to be seen again.

And now here with sports is my own little me, Stephen Randle.

The Short Sports Report

Hey, howyadoing, good ta see you. You all know me, so introductions aren’t necessary, and since you know me, you know that this here’s all about the sports. Well, all about the things I notice in sports, anyway. Ramblings aside, let’s get to it.

– Over in the baseball arms race, Boston and New York continue to stock up on anyone who’s remotely overpriced and overrated, while the real winners may end up being teams like Baltimore, Toronto, and, obviously, Houston, who have been or plan to be the busiest teams during the winter. Toronto’s complemented their already impressive offense by picking up some pitching to fill the gaps behind Roy Halladay, Baltimore has offers out on Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, and several other notables, and has the cash available to sign most of them. And then there’s Houston, which picked up Andy Pettite last week, and is now using him to convince Roger Clemens to stick around for another year or two. Meanwhile, the Yankees signed Kevin Brown, the first $100 million man, whose years in Los Angeles accomplished well, very little, really. And Boston continued to chase Alex Rodriguez, managing to piss off their existing shortstop in the process. You heard it here first, neither the Yankees nor the Sox will win the Series this year, though Boston will go farther, if only to make Steinbrenner’s head explode.

– In the NFL, the coach of the Oakland Raiders is still the subject of much debate after calling his team “the dumbest team in the NFL in terms of playing the game”. He’s right, you know. If you make as many mental mistakes as the Raiders do on a weekly basis, turn over the ball that much, give up that many penalties, and fail to execute that badly, you certainly aren’t the brightest guys on the football field, now are you? Other teams may have similar records, but neither of them were in the Super Bowl last year.

– Also, Dan Reeves of Atlanta was told he’d be let go at the end of the season, so he quit. Good move, I say. Why stick around where you’re not appreciated? He’s had a long and productive coaching career already, either he’ll catch on elsewhere following the season-ending coaching purge, or he’ll enjoy a happy retirement. And classy move there, Atlanta, essentially firing a coach right before the end of the season, then expecting him to stick around and see if he can help you win the last three games.

– I never understood the NCAA football Bowl system anyway, so I’ll be brief. Actually, that’s my entire point. The entire thing makes no friggin’ sense! Why are the standings determined by three different polls? Why are there so many different divisions? Why do teams in the top 25 not get to play in Bowl games, while teams that aren’t even within spitting distance get to go? Why should we care about Bowl games aside from whichever one (or two, I guess) decides the National champion? Sports should NOT be this complicated.

– On to hockey, and for those who wrote me claiming that Cujo was not sent down to the minors for sucking, yes, he was on his way there anyway, but when Hasek was injured, Cujo sat on the bench while Legace played, due to shaky work between the pipes. And you’re forgetting the first rule of a Leafs fan: if you’re not on our team, you suck. The only guy who got past that stigma was Gretzky, and that’s only because dude, he’s Wayne Freakin’ Gretzky. Anyway, Cujo’s back, because both goalies ahead of him went down within hours of each other, so there’s really no story here.

– Except he’ll get traded to Boston the minute someone down there realizes that Potvin is still as inconsistent as ever. Thus making it two teams in his career that Potvin’s been shuffled out of the way for Cujo.

– Finally, I just wanted to remind you that the Leafs are still winning. Eleven straight without a regulation loss, baby! Choke on that!

That’s it for me today, send me feedback at the usual place, then wait for my next Sunday wrestling column, as usual. Now back to much more depressing news, with your correspondent, Grut.

On The Lighter Side

Thank you, Stephen. Your existence disgusts me less every day.

Now for some funny news bits provided by the great guys at Reuters! They really know how to report stuff that isn’t really news but can’t be ignored either.

Shoppers in central Berlin were treated to a window display featuring young men in their underwear. Unless I’m mistaken, the store was selling meat.

519 Christmas Carolers in New York City broke into the Guinness Book of World records on Saturday. Tragically, one of them had the flu and now all of them are dead.

Again in Germany, a repentant thief sent back over 600 euros worth of stolen goods to the police with a letter of apology. This marks the first time in 60 years that a German has admitted he was wrong and sent back stolen goods.

Tired of exporting drab old coffee beans, Colombian officials have decided that from now on the will also produce colas and energy drinks. While of course the colas will be made using coffee beans, the energy drinks will be 65% cocaine.

In Manila, a jealous wife Bobbited (cut off his penis for the young ones) after finding a text message from another woman on his cell phone. Great. First every idiot friend wants to show you how he can text message when you’re hanging out at a bar, then every business man has to go because he has an important text message, and now text messaging has produced another dickhead.

Light Peaks Through The Cloud

Again, I’d appreciate if you told friends and family about the column. I’d like to get a good amount of feedback from first time readers. And to first time readers, please, send me some feedback.

And that’s the news. On behalf of Gloomchen and Stephen Randle, this is Joshua Grutman wishing you a good week.

My friend Daniels has brought to us a fiction story set in the world of music. It is truly a touching story, one I think you’ll enjoy. Read it here.