I’d be more apathetic if I wasn’t so et cetera

I registered a complaint to The New Yorker a few weeks ago regarding their unwillingess to tamper with the Caption Contest votes. For a while there I was correctly guessing all the winners based on how obvious they were and how high they ranked on the I’ll-vote-for-this-because-I-want-laugh-with-a-staff-member scale. The winners were often not the most witty, and not the most, um, longevous in their hilarity. They were just the easiest and most immediately relatable. I proposed that staff members’ votes should count for “like 500” votes.

For lack of better things to post, that letter is now an “open” one.

Dear The New Yorker,

Can’t you occasionally lift the democratic process from its mistaken state and, say, multiply the strength of your own votes by like 500? I, for one, value your ability to discern the greater humor over that same ability within your readership (me included, except not in this specific case). Us readers are fickle. Some times what we register as the greater humor is really a reaction toward an injurious illusion, a mere spectacle of access; we jump too quickly at an opportunity to tumble around with you — editors and office boys alike — in laughter. Democracry fails when we make such mistakes.

Not since the X-Files movie, with its exposure of FEMA as a government abbreviation that might harbor the potential for complaint, have we cared so much about referencing it as an agent of our disgust. And then a caption choice comes along which, by the simple virtue of it containing capitalized letters parallel to those in the headlines, appears to elect itself as the right decision. “FEMA, ha! That’s brilliant.” And thus the votes were submitted.

Unfortunately the rest of the words in the caption were not at all funny. But we forgave that detail, and in doing so the pure, uncut democracy that I love was sliced down into ill-informed, and ill-intentioned, cutlets. I feared this would happen, and I hoped that as the impending results became apparent you would have added some weight to your own votes and tilted the declaration of Greater Humor to the deserving caption (and I would only hope for such intervention during such times of clear mistake). If I had a million votes (or if I worked for the magazine) I would have possibly aimed my nod at the caption in which the man expressed a need for the larger paper weights. While not being as blandly poignant as the “winner”, it was, and in my mind always will be, an absurd and quite hilarious remark. With it as the winner there would indeed have been a momentary sense of loss — hey, what happened to FEMA? — but it would prove transitory as we re-read the winner and our bellies filled, and then rolled, with laughter.
Are staff and the families of even allowed to vote? I hope so.

I haven’t heard back. But there’s a chance they took my advice, as I haven’t been able to correctly guess the winner for two weeks now. Please, leave my logic alone.
(Note, this post was prompted by The MF, The ML pumping out two magnificent captions in a row. Read and laugh).

So I’m going to start my own contest (not really).

Here’s a caption-less cartoon I drew. I drew this a while ago, but I was never able to settle on the best wording for a caption. It’s a little bland – I should perhaps make him standing on top of a beaten and bloody person.

pay phone

Submit any submissions to the comment section, or to email (found at the bottom of the page (and I’m only pointing to email in the great chance that no one posts a comment – so that we can all just assume the submissions are flooding to a hidden place)).

The only way a loser like you will ever win at anything

I just saw a commercial for the new The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe video game. The announcer talked all about the plot — a quest to save a kingdom, etc. And then he says, “And the only way to win is by finding the ultimate weapon… the Cheat Codes!” At that point a loud and sustained ringing pierced my ears, and so I wasn’t so clear on the rest. But I think we’re supposed to log onto a website and get the cheat codes.

It was an official commercial for the game, and not a commercial for an affiliated website. I find it completely odd that they’re touting cheat codes as the best means of winning the game. But hopefully one of the cheats is Paintball Mode, because that one’s always fun.
The commercial repeated a little while later, but the narration had removed all mention of the ultimate weapon being a cheat code. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a hallucination.

Also, I’m currently listening to a track from The Beatles. It’s a bootleg from the Let It Be session, and it’s called White Power. It’s a fun little blues rif, and features Paul saying “White Power” over and over – and occasionally “Malcolm X”, “James Brown”, “Cassious Clay”, and the names of other African American celebrities. At one point John yells out “Judy Garland”.
I should post mp3’s of the music I mention. Unfortunately I’m stuck on a barely-26k connection right now, so it’ll have to wait a bit.

Bin Laden’s Driver A More Courteous Driver Than Expected, But No Less A Terrorist

It isn’t unheard of for a person to be arrested while driving a car. They can get caught driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence (those are actually two different violations in many states, synonymous though they might seem), or forget to turn on their lights at night when they drive fifteen feet to a new parking space (fuck you quota-cop), and they’ll surely feel the blow of the gavel of justice.

But one driver near the border of Yemen and Afghanistan isn’t being tried for any specific traffic violation. He’s being tried as the one at the helm of the car that carried the leader of the not-free world, Osama bin Laden. For Salim Ahmed Hamdan, 39, what began as a simple valet job at a posh Afghan restaurant, until he caught the eye of a wily terrorist and was soon swept deep into the heart of intrique and evil, ended with what, in the world of the War on Terrorism, is described as a big international no-no.

Some say he had his foot on the pedal of the Vehicle of Terrorism. And he used his other foot – the left one – for the brakes. That’s right: he proceeded contrary to what you might have learned in driver’s ed.: he used a different foot for gas and brakes. But this adversity fell in line with his M.O. He wasn’t, after all, driving a Buick down the paved streets of America’s Philadelphia. He was driving the Vehicle of Terrorism (in this case a GMC Denali) through the Shelob-sized spider holes of Tora Bora.

Initial reports show that our driver (I mean, their driver) was an otherwise considerate driver. He never talked on a cell phone while manning the wheel of the VoT. He generally used his turn signal. Sure he exceeded the speed limit on occasion, but it was only when he was sure there weren’t any other cars on the road. Or when they were being chased by an Apache Warcopter.
One source close to the automobile pilot said that he remembered him frequently using a low gear when descending steep hills. This witness, identified by AP only as “Osama B.L.”, also noted that Hamdan would frequently get a kick out of the chirp-chirp sound of the remote lock. “He would laugh like a little boy,” said Osama. “But he eventually ended up with a habit of locking the doors two or three times after we’d park. So he was told to ‘refrain or be sacrificed’ – a short-lived, but popular phrase – because all the chirping was putting passengers on edge.”
Hamdan, known for his multi-pocketed vest stolen from the corpse of a photo-journalist, and for his Tom-Cruise-in-Risky-Business style Wayfarer sunglasses, is especially notorious for having once driven all the way from Sharan to Kabul with the parking break on. The journey lasted the entire night, with everyone onboard being pretty strung out from the events of the day. It wasn’t until they neared Kabul that a passenger, “Ibrahim C.”, became alarmed by an odd smell. So he pointed a gun at Hamdan’s head and demanded an explanation. Hamdan himself had become aware of the smell, and also its source – his mistake – about an hour earlier. But he had been too embarrassed and frightened to do anything about it. He just continued onward, hoping no one else would notice.

With a gun to his head, he feared reaching down to release the lever. Later, he was heard to say that at this moment he was getting close to passing out from terror. It was bin Laden himself who came to the rescue. Bin Laden speared Ibrahim with his cane, told him to “chill out”, and then note groggily that it was probably just the e-brake. Hamdan had to agree, and he released the level and exhaled a rapid string of ten apologies. From there the laughter spread throughout the car.

It should be noted that Ibrahim later defected from the cell, and is rumored to be a key player in Hamdan’s arrest.

Free the driver?! (“Free Hamdan” icon will soon follow. and then become wildly popular… seriously, does anyone else think it’s funny how newcasters have so simplified this man’s position?)