Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Battle for the New Pornography

from the DCPost: (free registration required...)

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; Page A21

The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.


"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

A few of the printable samples:

"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."

"I already gave at home."

"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."


This makes me wonder - I've always thought of porn as an easy target. Not since the late comic Bill Hicks has their been an eloquent voice in support of pornography - or, at least another comic stealing his bit. Every few years, some ambitious young member of Congress gets all uppity about porn, promises a big crackdown and make it harder for the merchants of smut to peddle their filth, blah blah blah. Some punk junior A.G. who wants to be a Cabinet member one day will launch a crusade that will end porn and throw Hugh Hefner in jail and make the world safe for the children. Remember, in America, if you want to, I mean, get votes, always do it for the CHILDREN! Because children always need protection from (insert evil thing here).

Truth is, they'll rattle a couple of cages, see if they can find any RICO, forged birth certificates on the performers, make any prostitution connections, bring in a couple of scuzzy dudes who deal in some illegal crap, and make a big deal of it. Then, something else will come up and this will go under the rug. The porn industry is just one of those politically-safe targets a politico can go after when needing a boost in the polls. No politician comes out and says they can't wait to cut school budgets, raise taxes, let the roads go to crap, pour toxic waste into Lake Woebegone and slap a copy of "Juggs" in every backpack.

But, cleaning up pollution is hard, raising taxes never raises popularity, it takes years for roads to be repaired, and school budgets are practically untouchable - unless it's for sports or the arts - yet millions are wasted in school administration. So, porn becomes the easy target. After all, what politician has run a successful campaign on a Pro-Smut agenda outside of Southern California?

Mary Carey, alas, I hardly knew ye.

But, with the internet, all you need are a couple of firm-bodied teenagers with little-to-no-career goals, a digital camera and a PayPal account, and you too can become a master in the online smut world. More people - men, especially - are familiar with the backgrounds used by "Next Door Nikki" and "Young Anne" than Christiane Amanpour's from CNN.

Good luck, FBI. Have fun busting into college dorms across the country as young students try to earn an extra couple of bucks. Have fun storming some 19-year old girl's classroom to confiscate her picture phone and web cam. Sounds a lot easier than breaking up a terrorist cell or Mafia family.

It boggles my mind that the more close-minded think they can ban something so directly regulated to the human condition. Porn is subjective - what I find pornographic is not what others think is pornographic. Full-frontal or tasteful shading? To cleave, or not to cleave; that is the question.

Dog collars? Because my personal hot black bitch on all fours - my border collie mix Bubby - really wants to make sure she's not breaking the law when being publicly displayed in such a manner. I'd hate to see the FBI bust

The arbitrary judge-and-jury bothers me - are nude pictures ok, but nude moving pictures not? What, if any, weight will "artistic merit" play in any of this? Will there be a difference between "Perfect 10" and "Hot MILFs Caught on Tape?"

If what "Playboy" displays each month is "porn," then so are half the frescos in Italy. Will the FBI storm in the Louvre, guns drawn, and yank down a Henri Matisse? Or will they let INTERPOL take that gig?

I actually wouldn't mind if they stormed the offices of these dudes who take pictures of pre-op transsexuals and post them in full nudity, though. If you want to change your sex, that's fine, if not a little odd to me, but when I see a picture of a hot girl, I don't want her to have a penis. Nothings quite as sad as seeing a woman with great hair, nice make up, and testicles.

Then again, I am funny like that.

Also, I'm not a fan of aggressively fake breasts. But I would never restrict somebody's ability to look at aggressively fake breasts on a pre-op transsexual - my biggest fear, but also somebody's right. If that's what floats your boat, go ahead and sail it, but don't expect me to be your first mate.

But you should always be allowed to sail.

As a society, we really need to decide which way we're going. We allow technology to rule our lives - the omnipresent cell phone, a major crisis when the office Internet connection is down, yelling at the cable company if HBO isn't coming in right - and then fight it tooth-and-nail when it comes to anything vaguely questionable - if you want 400 channels of TV, surely three or four can show boob, right? If you want medical science to extend the average lifespan 40 years, then don't gripe about stem cell research.

To this point - if you want to use sex in everything - fashion, advertising, marriage, reproduction, careers - then be prepared to deal with sex honestly. Ancient societies made rudimentary sculptures and drawings of nudity; don't hate on them because Mr. Foto hadn't been invented yet.

There are more women than men in America; more men than women in China. With STDs becoming more dangerous, especially AIDS, we're going to need to have effective, open communication and outlets for basic human needs. 30 years ago, bad sex itched. Now, it can kill.
Unless we want to have a big singles' mixer in the middle of the Pacific for all our single, unwashed masses, and ban any travel to Africa, we need to have *MORE* self-expression, not less.

In my world, Cyberskin would be bigger than Microsoft. Or, at least in a limited partnership making devices for all the people of the world. We need cheap computers AND cheap release!

In any event, according to the tone of this article, it doesn't sound like the FBI field agents are taking it too seriously. And I can't imagine a multi-billion dollar industry rolling over and taking this softly. They'll fight hard until the end, and, I will guarantee you, in porn, somebody always meets a messy end.

---- xxx ----

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The 40 Year-Old Virgin - Reviewed by the Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic

I am dangerously close to declaring any movie starring any member of the Frat Pack as a must-see cinematic event. Steve Carell, while being one of the newer members of the funny fraternity, was a stitch in "Anchorman" and absolutely hilarious in "The 40 Year-Old Virgin." He's funnier than a hairlipped auctioneer.

As with any comedy, a certain degree of suspended disbelief is needed to really enjoy the film, but this one has a certain character to it that makes it seem very plausible. Carell's character, Andy, really appears to be a 40 year-old virgin, not just a parody of one. He's clean, almost childlike, and collects toys, but is not immature and irresponsible. He radiates a nice aura, albeit with a sort of creepy innocence compared to the characters around him.

And those characters are just as funny. Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch, Romany Malco and Elizabeth Banks are fantastic, and made their characters memorable without being too much. In-jokes abound, with strategic placement of Jon Stewart's America book, and a reference to Luke Wilson, a prime member of the Frat Pack.

The movie also features Catherine Keener as the love interest, Trish. She's either the ugliest hot woman in Hollywood, or the hottest ugly woman in Hollywood. I like her, though. She's believable. Not a plastic surgery disaster - just a real person. And she's a commanding presence - the woman can do more with a look or a hand gesture than the biggest special effects budget could make - but she also doesn't steal the show.

Still, the star of the movie is Carell, who literally bled to make this movie through the painful chest waxing scene. You can't help but to leaugh and wince at the same time.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 8 out of 9 Whammies! I'd have given it a 7 because it does drag from time-to-time, and, the girl who plays Catherine's daughter, Kat Dennings, was born in `86 and WAY MUCHO developed, which made me feel kinda creepy in a dirty old man way, but the addition of David Koechner in a small role, the man who invented the Whammy, gives it another one, hence, the 8. --------------

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ounce of prevention...

Darling Roommate and I have lived in our place for exactly one month.

3 weeks ago, I faxed over a list of problems with the place that the property management should have fixed before we moved in - ranging from minor cosmetic stuff like wallpaper gashes and paint scratches to the major, such as the downstairs toilet not working and a kitchen cabinet ready to fall off at any moment. Oh, and the annoying - my neighbor's pipes clank right next to my bed, waking me up every damned morning. I had a nice chat with the lad at the office at the time, who assured me he'd have people on it immediately.

So far, nada. Since I'm having people over this weekend, I am going to go about fixing the cabinet and toilet situations as much as possible.

Now, I know this is awfully mundane for me to write about. And, I wouldn't write about it, if it weren't for Comcast.

See, Comcast sent us the wrong boxes. We're paying for their Digital Gold package or some other kind of rip-off - 400 freakin' channels, about 300 of which are in Spanish, or for kids, or for Spanish kids, so they do me no good. The key to our cable, besides the internet access (which admittedly has rocked so far), is HBO.

One small problem - we can't HEAR HBO. For some reason, the line volume level is basically nil. In order to hear the HBO, I have to crank the TV volume to the maximum, turn my stereo volume to 92% of max volume (at which point the electricity humming through the system makes more noise than the HBO signal!) and sit approximately 18 inches from the screen.

Comcast's solution - take a day off work while we come in and replace the cable boxes we just installed 3 weeks ago. They gave us the wrong boxes.

OK, I'll believe that. Mainly because I'm gullible and just want my H-B-O. They couldn't give us the right boxes the first time? Eh...what are you gonna do?

However, my property management company is going to need me to do the same thing - clean up something they should have taken care of sooner. My unit was empty for nearly a week between the previous folks moving out and Darling Roommate and I moving in. Why couldn't they do the work *which they knew they needed to do beforehand from the previous tenants* before we moved in?

It's now going to be more expensive for both of these companies to fix what could have been easily prevented.

Sounds something like the system failures in New Orleans, doesn't it? Preventable and cheaper to do right, the first time. Maybe I'm stuck on the idea of getting stuff right, correct, stable...all the debacles of the Gulf Coast, all the politicians covering their own asses in enough spit-laced rhetoric to drown another major U.S. port...

The blame game has been disturbing, and distracting. The grandstanding has been deliberate and denegrating. I'm boggled by the stupidity at all levels - Michael Brown, Rick Santorum, Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin - mayors, governors, Senators, oh my!

Estimates for Katrina clean-up are running between 50 and 100 billion dollars. New Orleans is still half underwater. Gas is up to 3 bucks a gallon - and Exxon is about to declare its highest profit quarter ever. But I'd be a fool and a communist to make *any* connection there, huh?

The City of New Orleans would have been spared, lives saved and homes standing with a better levee system - infinitely cheaper than this mess.

Preventative Maintenence. Disaster Prevention. Maybe these should be the buzzwords of 2006.

Just a thought...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

It's time to be truly tasteless

Did you hear the mayor of New Orleans died last night? His finals words were "Glub glub glubbb...."

Many Hollywood celebrities have banded together to rasie money for the victims of Katrina. Kevin Coster has donated all the proceeds from his film "Waterworld." Come on, Kevin, haven't those people suffered enough?

A bunch of lesbians have arrived at New Orleans. They heard there were dykes that needed plugging.

The Louisiana Race Track has recently been modified for Seahorse Racing.

The New Orleans Saints Cheerleaders are now going to be the hottest Syncronized Swimming team ever.

The storm even screwed up the Governor's Mansion. Knocked the thing right off its axles.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Best thing ever

Think of this as the iPod Shuffle of music you don't own. Or, a streaming music TiVo. Or, do what I do, and simply think this is the best. thing. ever.

Simply tell Pandora what song or band you like, and it will play music it thinks you will like based on various traits like the tone, key, vocals and instrumentation. The first 10 hours are free, but I'm already in love. TiVo pretty much kicks ass, but it still thinks that because I like the Family Guy, that I like ALL animation, and that I'd love Kim Possible. However, this is much more intuitive - it figures out things a little more intelligently than TiVo. Also, since you're right there listening to this streaming service, you can instantly judge the tunes for appropriateness. You can even buy the song from iTunes or Amazon as it's playing.

What a BRILLIANT idea!

Consider the $36 payment to them for a year a wise investment.

-- This concludes my shameless commercial plug in which I don't receive a plug nickle. I'm like the world's cheapest sell-out. --