Too Big to Fail FAIL

23 03 2009


This commercial—originally aired during the 2004 Athens Olympics—would be tragic enough on its own. But I think the worst part about this entire AIG mess is that I just don’t feel like I can trust Abbey Bartlet anymore.



More fun AIG commercials after the jump for you to watch while you drink/cry/cut yourself. (All the videos are from YouTube; the page on AIG’s site where they were featured seems to have mysteriously disappeared.)

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Chuck Grassley is off his meds

17 03 2009

Well it looks like SOMEBODY is campaigning pretty hard for the Jim Bunning Outspoken Lunatic Award. Not 24 hours after calling on AIG execs to resign or commit suicide, Grampa Chuck has something to say about “sucking on the tit of the taxpayer.” As a taxpayer myself, let me be the first to say DO. NOT. WANT.

(Pro tip: If you’re looking for more on this story, DO NOT Google “Grassley tit.” Srsly.)

The Recession Garden: Seeds of Discontent

16 03 2009

A Google News search for the phrase “victory garden” turns up 145 stories over the past month alone. Evidently, America’s intrepid Trend Journalists allege, the economic crisis has hit many families so hard that they are now cultivating their own fruits and veggies, as a way to “cut costs.” How compelling! How heart-warmingly American! I practically just Norman Rockwelled all over myself thinking about it.


Except, of course, that the entire concept of a “recession garden” is totally bogus. In purely economic terms, you could hardly make a worse investment than growing your own food. Even if you are blessed with a reasonably large yard full of rich, fertile soil, the cost of irrigation and basic gardening tools alone vastly outweighs the cost of buying a rutabaga at the supermarket, and that’s to say nothing of the often several-month delay between planting and harvest. Yes, it’s great that you’re expecting a fantastic crop of kale in June, but what are we having for dinner tonight?

Then, of course, there’s the cost of labor. Large-scale farming exists for a reason: It’s more efficient for a few people to devote 100 percent of their time to farming than for everybody to spend a little bit of time on it. That’s why we also don’t make our own soap, sew our own clothes or even change our own oil. It pays to specialize.

And spare me the bourgeois drivel about reconnecting with the earth and the spiritual value of growing your own food. You live on a cul-de-sac, for chrissake, you’re not Alexis de Tocqueville.

Thanks to advances in biotech and economies of scale, food—even fresh food—is cheaper than ever before. If you want to get your hands dirty cultivating your own beets, go right ahead, but save the piety. Any consumer really interested in cutting costs would trade the weekly trip to Whole Foods for one to Wal-Mart, or even 99 Cents Only.

Now THAT would be revolutionary.

Not Without my Daughter’s Hymen

24 02 2009

I’m not big on movies. Really, really not big on movies. Saying that I’m not a movie buff is sort of like saying Stalin wasn’t really a people person. An understatement. On anybody’s list of Great Cinema, I’ve probably seen one out of maybe 10 or 15, and even then I was simultaneously playing very competitive game of Scrabble, Twittering, and trying to assemble a bookshelf from Ikea, in the dark.

But, Internet, this economy is not just going to reach around and stimulate itself, so this weekend I ponied up and bought a ticket to Taken, the Jack Baueresque action flick featuring everybody’s secret boyfriend Liam Neeson.

The plot is pretty straightforward: Retired superspy (Neeson) is trying to build a relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, much to the chagrin of her ice queen mother and mom’s wealthy new husband. Daughter goes to Paris, daughter is abducted by sex traffickers, Dad flies to Paris and uses his mad spy skills to save the day. Daughter is saved, mom is grateful, scores of bad guys die in grisly and intensely satisfying ways (and if you think any of that constitutes a spoiler, well, you see even fewer movies than I do).

Fine. Good. It’s an action movie. BUT, oddly, Taken left me with a lingering sense of discomfort, and I think I know why. The producers of the film went to near-exhaustive lengths to first inform and then remind us again and again that Kimmy, the daughter, was a virgin. From her wardrobe of jumpers, jean jackets and sneakers more suited to a 7-year-old than a high school senior to Kimmy’s squealing glee at receiving, yes, a pony for her birthday to the repeated references to her ‘first time’ in future tense, the message is agonizingly clear: Virgin. Virgin, virgin, virgin.

What Taken implies is that this young woman’s assault, kidnapping, trafficking and ultimately systematic sexual abuse would have somehow been less awful, and her plight less sympathetic, had she been sexually active in the first place. Case in point, about halfway through the movie, Neeson is in a grimy makeshift brothel, searching for his daughter. Instead, he finds Amanda, Kimmy’s much more overtly sexual friend who brought her to Paris in the first place. Amanda is handcuffed to a bedpost, beaten and dead. Without pausing even a beat, Neeson and the film move on. Amanda was a slut; she got hers. Point taken.

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Adventures in Real Estate

14 01 2009

Tim: Finishing a condo bust feature, getting ready for Gitmo.

me: Maybe you should do a piece on the impending Gitmo real estate bust?

Tim: Actually, I’ve got this GREAT condo in Gitmo if you’re interested …

me: Does it have a pool? I’m thinking of taking up waterboarding.

Tim: Oh yeah. And a temperature-control chamber. I mean, a sauna.

me: Sounds lovely. Are the neighbors nice?

Tim: Very quiet. You’ll never hear from them. In fact, you can’t legally have a conversation with them.

me: Perfect. I’ve always wanted to live in a gated community. I hope my illegal Peruvian houseboy won’t raise any eyebrows, though.

Tim: Just make sure he’s never seen with a Koran and he’s probably OK.

me: He’s not allowed to read.

45 Easy Ways to Economize at Home

24 10 2008

or: A Children’s Treasury of Really Terrible Ideas

In these times of economic uncertainty (or, more accurately, the certainty that things will certainly be very, very bad for a very, very long time), so-called “lifestyle” publications are scrambling to supply us with a variety of “tips” and “tricks” to help us save our hard-earned (or irresponsibly borrowed) pennies.

Leaving aside for a moment the fact that these lists generally appear in publications that charge upwards of $5 a pop for a glossy volume of two-thirds advertising and one-third “editorial” content devoted to the purchase of this season’s pile of shit you don’t need, said lists typically involve the same sort of tripe, recycled over and over again, ad nauseum: Stop buying $4 lattes! Consolidate your shopping trips to save gas! Quit heating your house by burning piles of $100 bills!

Sometimes, though, you get some real gems.  Below is Apartment Living‘s 45 Easy Ways to Economize at Home

1. Wash and reuse foil wrap.
       At 99 cents a roll, you could save almost $3 a year

2. Save ‘junk mail’ reply envelopes for filing recipes, receipts, etc.
       A fun alternative to paying your bills

3. Trade things you don’t want with friends, neighbors, relatives.
       Like your wife.

4. Restrict family between-meal snacks to inexpensive and healthful in-season fruit and vegetables, home-popped corn, raisins, etc.

5. Become a ‘brown bagger’. Take your lunch to work.
       It’s not like anyone goes out with you anyway

6. Save and reuse plastic sandwich bags and paper lunch bags.
       It’s like eating yesterday’s lunch today!

7. Tie soap remnants in a piece of nylon net and use as a body sponge.
       This tip cannot be improved upon

8. Crumpled up used aluminum foil is ideal for scouring pots and pans.
       Great for stubborn,  stuck-on hobo beans

9. Paper towels are expensive. Use washable cloth dish towels instead.
       Toilet paper is expensive, too.

10. Wash and reuse transparent plastic wrap.
       And condoms.

11. Save empty plastic food containers for storing leftovers & freezer use.

12. Don’t throw away anything. Save everything for a future garage sale.
       Because people are dying to pay for  your used up shit

12. Attend movies early when prices are generally lower.
       Catch a matinee. It’s not like you have a job.

13. Don’t buy expensive gifts. Give exotic home grown plants or bake a cake.
        Added benefit: Soon you won’t have any friends left to worry about

15. Give yourself a home permanent instead of paying top prices at a salon. 
         Head-pubes are hot this season

16. Consider cutting your family’s hair yourself.
        Because they don’t hate you enough already.

17. Use plastic bread wrappers and produce bags for freezer use.

18. Use washable cloth handkerchiefs instead of expensive facial tissues.
     Nothing says ‘thrifty’ like carrying around dry wads of phlegm in your pocket.

19. Organize a baby-sitting club with friends & neighbors. Take turns.
        For extra savings, refuse to take your kids back.

20. Think in terms of doing it yourself rather than hiring someone to do it, such as home repairs, painting, garden work, hookers, cutting the lawn, etc.

21. Swap services with friends and neighbors who can do things you can’t.
         Some of your neighbors are surprisingly flexible.

22. Take advantage of free recreation, such as picnic areas, libraries,  public tennis courts, swimming areas, parks, zoos, etc.
         This tip courtesy of

23. If you’re not going out to shop, leave your credit cards at home.
         You’re over your limit anyway.

24. Learn about the many bargains at ‘no frills’ discount stores.
         Like the guy who sells Prada out of his van in Riverside.

25. Avoid spending on ‘throwaway’ items such as disposable razors, flashlights, pens, toothbrushes, paper cups & plates, diapers, cigarette lighters, kids, etc.

26. For parties, use reusable plates, cups, glasses, utensils, crack pipes, napkins-instead of expensive paper and plastic disposables.

27. Pay credit card charges when they become due so interest isn’t added.
         Like you could get a credit card!

28. When buying big-ticket items, learn all about them from consumer magazines and guides before you buy. You will be less apt to make a bad choice.

29. Garage sales and flea markets are excellent for both selling and buying.
         your body.

30. Start your children earning money at an early age.
         Seriously, this is getting too easy.

31. When buying insurance, pay the premium annually. It’s less expensive in the long run than paying monthly, quarterly or even semi-annually.
         if you have anything left to insure.

32. Check all monthly bills closely, including your bank balance. Big companies can and do make mistakes.
         And think of all the time you can waste trying to get that $1.36  credited to your account!

33. Examine your check at restaurants to make sure no error has been made.
         Also, don’t tip.

34. Buy things out of season for big savings, like after Christmas.

35. Grow your own herbs, spices and weed  in window-sill flower pots.

36. Coffee is expensive. Brew only as much as your family will drink.
        Which is a lot, since you’re all working three jobs to pay that fucking adjustable rate mortgage

37. Save and sell recyclable materials such as aluminum, paper, etc.
        Dumpsters are a great place to start!

38. Bread becomes stale more quickly in the refrigerator. Store it at room temperature or in the freezer.
        Frozen bread is delicious.

39. Learn about auto upkeep and how to do minor repairs yourself.

40. Instead of buying gorgeous house plants, get cuttings from friends.
         Have your spouse create a distraction while you subtly maul your neighbors’ ficus

41. If you need a lawyer, carefully investigate his fees in advance.
         If you didn’t have anything to hide, you probably wouldn’t need a lawyer

42. Be wary of banking gimmicks.
          Like “savings accounts”

43. Shop at discount and variety stores for biggest savings on cosmetics.
          You look like a clown-whore anyway

44. Dilute your shampoo with small amount of water – for easier rinsing.
           And be sure shower once a week, whether you need it or not.

45. Before buying anything new, ask yourself if you really need it.
           Because you are a Real American, the answer will always be Yes.

Working Girl, Interrupted

22 10 2008

Katy:  I just made the mistake of checking my retirement accounts. I’m a financial cutter.