Author Archives: Bill Haurton

Tweets of the Week

We’re keeping it going with the debate. Absent from this list are the obvious “Obama and/or Christie are big winners of the debate” jokes. No, you weren’t the only one to tweet that (though Dave Weigel’s Buddy Roemer crack was obscure enough to distract us from his acne scars for a moment). Below are the best quips to come out of a mediocre debate, using the worst mode of communication ever. They are not ranked (or are they?):

@notjessewalker: “When do they ask about heroin? I like the part where they ask about heroin”

(Okay, they’re not)

@DaBeard: Cain: Sunni or Shiite?

Thad McCotter via @RickKlein: candidates “failed” the “litmus test” at #cnndebate by answering this/that questions

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Censor My S***? Slave, Please.

60 Minutes just dedicated one-third of its namesake to the Huck Finn controversy. The segment featured pre-pubescent students saying Mark Twain “overused” the the word nigger, meaning the word should be redacted. The interviewer failed to ask the logical follow up, “Who the fuck are you to tell Mark Twain how to write?” We thought the incident deserved a blast from the past from contributor Edmund Morganfield, on censoring Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was many things in life and a genius at most of them, but surely his most accomplished trade, next to his prose, was troublemaking. So, it should come as no surprise that over a century after his death, the Clemens boy is once again in trouble with schoolteachers.

Twain enlisted in the Confederate Army when he was a young man–a hanging crime in the North–and deserted his command, along with his entire company, two weeks later–a hanging crime in the South. Having effectively made himself a fugitive in the entire country within a fortnight, he went West, where he began work as a newspaper correspondent. He later accused one of the most prominent women’s groups in Silver City, Nevada, of supporting miscegenation. He came into work the next day and found a pile of invitations, all of them from the ladys’ husbands, all of them to duels.

To whom it may concern...

After practicing his sharpshooting with a friends in a nearby barn–and failing to hit even the broadside of it–he decided to leave town, and was hiding in the mining camps above Silver City when he heard the story that eventually became “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calevaris County,” and launched his career. Mark Twain lived a life on the social margins, told stories about violence and attacked the values of middle-class America with impunity, and got paid obscene amounts of money for doing it. He also dropped the n-word like a bad job. Surely, this man was the original gansta rapper.

And he wouldn't pull some sell-out ish and join Law and Order

A new edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is replacing the word “nigger,” mentioned 219 times in the book, with the word “slave.” The reason is obvious; the word is immensely offensive in almost every context, reminds us of the deep painful history of racism that is woven into the history of this country, and keeps the books out of libraries and schools where it could actually do some good. It’s an impulse that teachers have been fighting for a long time, but in the interest of being able to teach good literature without worrying about a political firestorm, it kinda seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?

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An Honest Republican Debate

Screw Water for Elephants. It’s Robots for Republicans. Get ready for CC’s Live-Tweeting GOP Debate: Follow us at:

@CrookedCopy

@BillHaurton

@Ddrfeelgoodd

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The Cure for the Oscar Hangover: not “More Cowbell”

A Langley Delano Roosevelt Joint

Oscar fever; oh, the wondrous sensations that it brings.  The dresses, the glamour, the speeches, the burning urination (no, just me?), wondering whether Kirk Douglas is crazy or just old… it certainly is an amazing time of year.  You underwent weeks of research for your Oscar pool, only to lose because Nine Inch Nails icon Trent Reznor won Best Original Score over A.R. Rahman’s 127 Hours.  I bet you even watched Winter’s Bone, shocked when you saw Jennifer Lawrence sporting a hot red dress instead of an ugly plaid flannel shirt.  Personally, I watched 13 of the 24 “real” movies nominated for awards and 8 of the 10 best picture nods.  Did it do me any good?  A rhetorical question.  The answer: no; my sleeper, Hailee Steinfeld, failed to oust a much older Melissa Leo.  So, where are we left?  Prepare to embark on, historically, the worst two months of cinema.  I like to call this time of year, The Oscar Hangover.

If you accept that we have a problem, at least until Thor releases May 6th (please don’t judge), then we can work together and find a solution.  You can try to dust off your Playstation, crack the spine of that book that you’ve been meaning to read for eight months, or even delve into the reruns of Saturday Night Live on the E! Channel.  Together, though, we can do something far more substantial – find a good movie, a needle in the haystack that is first quarter Hollywood.  Lucky for you I’m not a team player and I’ve already done the work.  To be honest, this is been my hobby since I was a wee child.  I reveled in the ability to find the underground “Progressive Metal” bands that my friends envied.  I went as far as making the trek to Allentown, Pennsylvania to watch a former Medieval Times knight sing on the grand stage of The Crocodile Rock (if any reader knows the band, I applaud).  I thought my taste had matured when I discovered Bradley Cooper’s Midnight Meat Train.  Yes, that is the dude from The Hangover, and no, the movie is not a pornographic feature.  How naïve I was…

Finally, my patient readers, I have become a seasoned veteran of navigating the deadly March/April waters also known as the AMC Theater.  As such, in my grizzled old age, I bring you news of the cure: a 72 minute feature known as Rubber.  I understand the name is equally as perverse as How to Train Your Dragon, addressed by the astute James Franco, but it will do the trick to renew your faith in the ingenuity of Hollywood’s lesser known constituents.  A self-proclaimed “homage to the no reason,” this French film, originally released in said country but shot it English, is perversely entertaining.  On half a million dollars, Quentin Dupieux manages to bring us a dark comedy whose messages are socially relevant and oddly poignant.  He even managed to find actors with names eerily similar to the huge stars that we have grown to love: Ethan Coh[e]n and David Bow[i]e.  Rubber falls somewhere between noir and nouveau, following a homicidal tire that serves as a metaphor for something far larger than its 16 inch diameter.  If you are of the class that outsmarted Inception (I do have to give Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas credit for at least trying), I challenge you to watch this movie with the attention that it deserves.  On the other hand, if you found Inception to be overly confusing and incredibly smart, I suggest hitting the bowl before Rubber and laughing for the next 72 minutes.  Either way, you deserve better than mainstream Hollywood can provide.

 

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The “Times” They Are A-Strangin’

By Edmund Morganfield

The New York Times

is often considered to be the greatest news company in the world, and leftly so. Take a quick perusal through its cavernous website for proof, thick and rife with hyperlinks and pictures and ubiquitous articles about single mothers in the fashionable neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Near the bottom of the page, you will find a field of articles about all happenings in the world, divided into every category of interest, all denoted by mysterious headlines that reveal absolutely nothing about the topic except the odd noun or two that accidentally slips out. It feels more like a collection of riddles than any explanation about current events. Kind of the opposite of journalism, I guess, but let’s not be petty. Where else can you find out about the virtues of organic grapefruits growing from reclaimed dumpsters in wartorn Uruguay?

Their heart is in the right place, and their coverage truly is excellent, but they must adjust to the realities of the marketplace, the same as everyone else. Journalism is no longer region-centric, it is audience-centric, and the Times has found its place as the go-to source for hipster culture, liberal commentary and the anxieties of the American upper-crust. How else to explain its recurring coverage of non-events that are so self-explanatory they hardly count as news at all? Such as how hard it is to get into Ivy League colleges these days, how organic coffee farms are rebuilding a third world country, or elaborate explanations of the continuing decay of reading in American life. Hence why your kid isn’t going to Harvard, why you should feel good about yourself because you paid a dollar more when you can’t taste the difference, and why no wants to read your 19th century gothic romance novel set in an alternative universe if Emily Dickinson was the empress of a new Amazonian Army. They have found their niche, Secular-Humanist bless them, and they are going hog-wild.

My favorite part, though, has to be whenever their reporters venture outside the sanctity of the tri-state area, leaving behind their carefully-marked map of lower Manhattan with the espresso stands, vegan delis and oxygen bars that the liberal intelligentsia uses for sustenance, and goes in search of “real America.” It’s a self-conscious exercise to be sure, the very people who are accused of not understanding the country are the ones who now must reveal it in all its humble, undereducated, overfed, “I may be just a simple man in a complex world, but the way I figure it…” native eloquence. The Times is proving to us that, despite that they consider one city to be center of the universe, they have that mainline connection to the “average American,” and therefore are going to lecture us about what’s good for the “average American.”

These exercises are hysterical, precisely because they’re so predictable. There’s nothing better than dropping an anxious, highly-educated, Jewish intellectual (my favorite New York stereotype, for the record) into the middle of Halcomb, Kansas, and watching the result. Scroll through the videos and watch the befuddled, confused truck driver be suddenly asked what he thinks of the bank bailout or reforming social security. He takes a second to think about it, a little confused as to what the hell is going on, and then basically says it’s a load of crap and goes back to his ham and eggs. Bravo, New York Times, for finding this rare gem of folk wisdom buried beneath a mesh baseball cap and wiggling jowls. Truly what investigative journalism is supposed to be, a $3,000 roundtrip expense report well spent. And it all plays out to panoramic vistas of farmland and the poor excuse for finger-picking guitars that the Times got from an art-school dropout jamming away his trustfund in the subways.

The point isn’t that truck drivers and farmers and waitresses from Kansas don’t have opinions on these topics, or that these opinions aren’t valuable, or that they shouldn’t be seen in The New York Times. They do, they are, and they should. But it is conducted with such massive deference that the subjects are portrayed more as laboratory experiments in “engaged journalism” than informed citizens. You could have asked him something about his life, something recognizable to him, but you decided that a random stranger should be the definitive word for a hugely complex subject. After all, why interview these people in the first place? There is absolutely no reason to think that they have an insight into these events more than, say, cabbies, or postmodern novelists, or anyone you find stumbling around a Brooklyn laundromat at 2 a.m. (As someone who has been in a Brooklyn landromat at 2 a.m., I can tell you that you can find an incredible breadth of advice and commentary on a wide variety of subjects…none of which could ever be printed, under any circumstances, in any language).

They go there because they are not in search of a story, they are in search of validation. It always feels like the self-consciously intellectual Easterner must first appease the Heartlander, the individual that is supposed to be the beneficiary of his ideals and hard work, that they come in search of validation for themselves more than to find out what the guy actually thinks. The logic goes that if this guy says it’s true, it must really be true, because I’m smart and I think so, and he’s a person-of-action and he thinks so too! Everyone agrees! If they asked them what they really thought, that reporter might find out, 1) We don’t get The New York Times out here, 2) I’m glad we don’t get The New York Times out here, and 3) Exactly what in the hell are you doing out here, anyway? Their barely-disguised condescension would be enough to infuriate anyone, let alone someone who is destined to have his story squeezed between a new ergonomically designed breast pump for unusually sensitive nipples and whether albino theater students with a B+ average have been impacted by the recession.

This is an old practice of the Left, reaching back to the Labor Movement when city-slickers tried to organize unions on behalf of workers, many of whom were only interested in temporary labor and deeply distrustful of the advice they were getting. First you gain their trust, the idea went, to show we’re just like them, and we do that with a confused impersonation, as if we had been born with this ear of corn casually sticking out from behind our ear (that should be your first clue right there). Just recall how white people begin to act when a black person enters the group, all of them secretly craving his approval for street cred. Why yes, good sir, I do enjoy the musical works of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, why do you ask? I say, do you know where I can find a good soul food establishment here? These KFC franchises are simply subpar. And indisputably, that shit is indeed wack, sir. Yo indeed.

Their heart is in the right place, and it says something about a news company that recognizes the inherit arrogance of its city, and go out in search of a counter-effect. Many other news companies do far less, and reaching out to those we don’t always understand is a sign of their maturity and journalistic integrity. But it can be done better by talking to regional experts, maybe the associate professor in a community college or lawyer, rather than pandering to construction workers and big-rig roughnecks. Everyplace, even Nebraska or Oklahoma, has experts on hand for nearly any conceivable situation at the local level, and their perspective could be valuable input too. That’s the kind of diversity we need, from people who have dedicated their professional lives to these issues but do not share the same environment that gave shape to the opinionmakers in New York or Washington. A national journalist might be astounded at the kind of insights he can find. It’s that, or we go another round with Billy Ray, he’s charmed by your civility and interest in him, you get invited back to his farm…with his lonesome daughter waiting, and you got to high-tail it out of town before he fetches the shotgun a-hangin’ on the wall. Hey, it’s another stereotype-fantasy of Middle America, but at least this one doesn’t involve another confused discussion of Medicare annuities.

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Take the F****** Stairs

I’m just like you.  But you’re named after a government landmark and a former President.  Yes my friend, but I’m still like you.  I am part of a monotheistic religious establishment.  I escaped persecution and/or enslavement in Egypt, Britain, Germany, Russia, and Palestine – not in that particular order, of course.  One of my ancestors was a slave girl named Sally Hemings.  Why am I sharing this information with you?  The answer is simple: to prove that I am a red blooded American who enjoys Freedom Fries, escalators, and the invisible hand (I am aware that Adam Smith was Scottish).

There is one thing I do not like, but allow me to set the stage.  I live on the tenth floor of an elevator building in Manhattan.  I work on the ninth floor of an elevator building in Manhattan.  Why should you care?  Perhaps you ride elevators, perhaps you have seen elevators, perhaps you have a dumbwaiter in your mansion; I really can’t pinpoint your specific interest because I don’t actually know you.

I will now introduce the concept of Lent.  This is a Christian holiday where an individual gives up a certain item for forty days and forty nights.  For further reference, I recommend the film starring heart-throb Josh Hartnett.  Some religious sects allow cheating on Sundays; others require that an individual not eat meat on Fridays.  It doesn’t really matter.  In fact, all monotheistic religions have some “holiday” where you have to give up something.  You should all relate; except for atheists and agnostics, but you hell-mongrels can just humor me.

I have proved my American heritage, described the existence of elevators, and explained the religious holiday known as Lent.  You may be asking yourself, “What do they all have in common, Langley Delano Roosevelt.”  I’m a nice guy, so I’ll tell you: obesity.  In fact, if you are American, you’ll know that over fifty percent of our brethren are overweight [citation needed].  There are many different reasons for obesity; the reasons alone could fill a doctoral thesis.  To understand one particular reason, close your eyes and revisit the stage that I have set (elevators in Manhattan).  Open your eyes so that you can continue reading.

I can’t tell you how many times I have taken the elevator down from floor ten only to stop on the second floor so that an overweight, middle aged, gender neutral, culturally ambiguous person can ride twelve feet down.  I’m not a physicist so I don’t have the ability to calculate the calorie burning potential of walking, but I bet it’s high.  For this reason, I implore you, nay, I beg you: take the fucking stairs.

To set an example, I, LDR, will personally give up elevators for Lent.  For those of you who do not observe or share my enthusiasm, I will provide three cardinal rules for elevator use.

1)      Only take the elevator if you are going up or down three or more flights of stairs. Is it that hard to walk?  Maybe you’ll even burn off that donut around your waist.  Every time you ride less than three stories, I want to stab you with the hour hand of the clock.

2) Allow people to exit the elevator before you enter. You’re not going anywhere until I get off.  Cool your jets and be polite.  You never know when someone will be holding a lance, waiting for you to walk into it.  That someone will be me.  Gotcha’ bitch.

3)      At least pretend to hold the door. If someone is running down the hall to catch the elevator, at least pretend to press the “door open” button.  I’m not looking for an Oscar worthy performance but if you really want to get fancy, you can press the “door close” button instead and give a confused look as the cold steel shuts in their face.

 

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Janet Jackson: Battle Hymn of the…Oh Brother

In perhaps the greatest PR drop in history, Janet Jackson debuted her memoir just two days after the Super Bowl. Call us a little nostalgic for halftime shows past, but we at Crooked Copy welcomed our preview, which we used to smash our television set after Fergie started singing without autotune.

Jackson’s 272 page tome, titled–we’re not making this up–“True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself,” is a revealing, in-your-face look into her life in the spotlight, digging beneath the surface, only to get stuck in a putty-like mess of medical waste and self-pity. The only solid conclusion the reader leaves with is that Jackson’s mental health has probably not improved by book’s end.

For one, she used to bang her head against the wall because she was unhappy with her looks. Janet mentions this in every interview on her book tour.

“I still have issues with it. I don’t bang my head up against the wall, but I still have those moments.  And I think it’ll probably continue but at least I know how to deal with it now. And I’m in a much better space,” she told the Today Show when they asked why baby bumpers were placed on every piece of furniture in the Betty Ford Clinic.

Available in leather

We find that brother Michael used to call her names like pig and cow. A pity, sure; except didn’t you come from frigging Gary, Indiana, the world capital of racial unrest during the 1960’s? You were only made fun of for your weight–by a gentlemen who spent his adult life trying to look like you? Countee Cullen, she is not.

Come see me in Baltimore...bitch

Every celebrity memoir is about two things: butchering the English language and lamenting your lot in life, even if that lot is 200 acres of beachfront property. Jackson, if the title “True You: You Don’t Have a Clue, But Wouldn’t You be Blue if I Were Anything Like You, Too,” accomplishes both these tasks with surprising ease.

Jackson spent most of her life just outside Hollywood, a town with high school diplomas, doctorates in psychology and little in between, save high thetan levels.

Don't forget my Masters in Transgendered Philosophy

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