Saturday, January 01, 2011

Causing Trouble With Odienator: Odie-Tune the News 2010

 By Odienator

Tired of the 2010 roundups yet? How about one more to start your year on the right note? It's time for yet another episode of Causing Trouble With Odienator, where I remind you that, without the ability to laugh at life, you may as well kill yourselves because the world really sucks.

I turned 40 in 2010, and if life truly begins at 40, my first year of life was filled with items that made me even more cynical, jaded and distrustful of humankind. Considering I am a programmer by trade, and all programmers and information technology professionals are cynics to the nth degree, I must congratulate the players of 2010 for accomplishing this feat. Everytime I tried to get out of my cynical funk, they kept pulling me back in. Politics, movies, news, and just plain human idiocy all played their parts, so let's look at some of the things that threw gas-soaked coal into my cynicism's furnace.

Repetition Doesn't Make It So

In 1976, Rankin/Bass brought Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer back to TV in a sequel to his eponymous 1964 classic cartoon. In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, Rudolph is tasked with saving New Year's Day, which is depicted here as a really cute baby with big-ass ears. The baby has gone missing, and without him, the year won't increase by one. Antagonizing Rudolph is a vulture named Eon, whose way of life (and his very existence) depends on keeping Rudolph from finding Baby New Year before midnight on New Year's Eve. If Rudy succeeds, it will usher in a new "eon," and the old Eon will freeze to death like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. While Eon does everything in his power to prevent Rudy from his mission, Baby New Year's ears cause mass laughter and scorn whenever he appears, giving him a serious complex about ruling the New Year.

Sound familiar?

2010 was just the dress rehearsal for 2012's political shenanigans and madness. The Mayans didn't say 2012 was the end of the world, but they probably implied that you'll wish it were after all the commercials and vitriol. All that Tea Party screaming about "wanting our country back" and "taking the country back to its roots" made me think of Eon and his unwillingness to let go of the past, almost as much as Baby New Year's ears made me think of you-know-who.
Save me, Rudolph!
There's a creepy--and incorrect--nostalgia permeating political discourse. While Tea Partiers claim they are talking about going back to Reagan and Bush, they really pine for that old American chestnut of "the good ol' days," the 1950's. I've talked to people old enough to remember the 50's, and every one of them told me shit was fucked up back then. And these are White people I'm asking! Asking a Black person if the 50's were messed up is like asking my ass if it's aware there's a crack in it.

I went to a Tea Party rally in Ohio earlier this year and, when approached by a guy screaming at me to get mad and "help us bring back the good old days," I looked at him cross-eyed. He looked like a 12 year old Justin Bieber. When he told me he was 17, I almost hit him with my fist. "Muthafucka, you were born in 1993!" I said incredulously. "Clinton was President! A DEMOCRAT!" I stressed the political party for emphasis. Then I asked "What do you want brought back from 1993? Parachute pants?" He couldn't tell me one thing he wanted "brought back," nor could anybody else I spoke to at this rally. Most people looked at me like "oh my God, a NEGRO!!!" when I approached them. There was genuine surprise I was there, and as far as I could tell, I was the only minority in a group of at least 200 people. The only feeling I got was that people were pissed that there was an HNIC in a place where there's always been a HCIC. Truthfully, I was as "skeered" as Willie Best in The Ghost Breakers. But this was in Ohio, so perhaps the reaction to me was an isolated incident. Maybe my appearance would be less shocking at a Tea Party rally in, I dunno, Utah or something.

Probably Not.

What makes me most cynical, even more than the Democrats being a bunch of pussies (more on that later) is the recent political attempt to rewrite history. From the Texas schoolbooks eliminating crucial historical facts to Haley Barbour's comments on segregation not being so bad in Mississippi, people seem willing to be deluded on what really happened or is happening. We have an ungodly amount of information at our fingertips, and we're dumber than ever. Hell, when I needed to look something up, people my age had to get off their asses and go to the library. All you have to do now is click to do your research. So there's no excuse.

It's as if politicians on both sides of the aisle and right-wing pundits think that, if we keep saying erroneous things over and over, they will come true. When not shooting Santa's reindeer on her show, You Betcha Lady told us that Michelle Obama was "against dessert." This isn't true, but right-wing radio ran with it. (In the GOP's defense, folks like Mike Huckabee defended the First Lady.) Mrs. Obama was just stating the obvious: America is fat as fuck. So perhaps somebody should be telling you to eat healthier and less.

The Gov'ment Should NOT Tell You What You Should Eat! Telling you whom you can marry and what God you can worship is perfectly fine, tho'!
According to my doctor, I am 15 pounds overweight. I am not blaming my Mama or America or the White Man (except those White men who brought me food)

Y'all Know Who Y'all Are.
All kidding aside, I blame myself. Nobody held me down and forced me to eat, though I admit that might be hot in a 9-1/2 Weeks sort of way. Mrs. Obama isn't against dessert, but perhaps my fat ass should be a little less tolerant of it. So should yours.

Ghetto Superstar: That Is What You Are

President Obama is not gettng re-elected. Sorry to bust your bubble folks, and I will most CERTAINLY eat my words if he is. (I ate them after I said he wouldn't win--for once I liked being wrong.) But I don't think so. With that said, I wish he would turn into Warren Beatty's Senator Bulworth. I don't think he can, though, because something tells me Obama believes all those hope and change woof tickets he's always selling. He genuinely has faith in the American people (I can hear my mother yelling out "YOU JACKASS!!!", something she yelled at me way too often). It's admirable--sweet even--but it'll be his undoing.

I'd be less cynical if Obama just started telling you the unfiltered truth, as if he were possessed by WikiLeaks. You're not getting re-elected, so why not show your ass? I would! I'd light a Newport and come on TV warning the FCC that they will be fining me before I'm done. The President won't do it because he's too much of a politician, always thinking of the repercussions, and neutering himself in the process. The other side isn't censoring itself, and though the past few weeks have presented a commendable sense of compromise between both parties, it'll be business as usual come January. I was always told not to stoop to someone else's level, but goddammit, sometimes you have to. But before he can even address the other side, Obama should have a meeting with his own party and remind them that unless they put up as strong a united front as the GOP usually does, he's going to break his foot off in their whiny punk asses.

If he gave this look more often, shit would get done.

He won't do it. My heart gets blacker.

Tweet The News

Abe Vigoda is not dead, but everybody else apparently is. This past week, we've had death notices reported for Owen Wilson, Aretha Franklin, and Mr. Fuck You Man, Eddie Murphy. This is due to people believing what they read on Twitter. Even the news media has been suckered by this, which makes me most cynical of all. Would Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow have run a story they got from Benita Butrell, The Neighborhood Gossip without substantiating it?  I once wrote that the creation of CNN kickstarted "the destruction of intelligent America." I stand by that because before there was 24 hour news coverage, outlets took a little longer to get things reported. Now with the constant "me first" mentality of the news channels, they'd rather run with bullshit than be first with facts. And just like those old newspaper retractions they'd run in an obscure corner of page 58, retracting something that was on the front page for 3 days, the media outlets pay mere whispered lip service to their boo-boos. This may partially explain what I said earlier: We've got all this info within reach of our couches and we're dumber than ever.

And last but not least:

Fuck You, David Fincher

Until Christmas Eve, I refused to see The Social Network. Sure, the critics were falling all over it, but if you think I do things based on somebody else's opinion, it's obvious you haven't been reading this blog. My rationale was "why should I pay $12 to see an asshole programmer? I see them every day." (I even see one in my mirror.)

I am not a witch. I'm you, Odie!
On Christmas Eve, I discovered that the praise was justified: The Social Network is an excellent, though slightly flawed work. Where my expletive above stems from is that Fincher and company have exposed to the masses the dirty little secret about programmers:  

We hate you.

Watching Jesse Eisenberg's performance, and listening to him expertly deliver Aaron Sorkin's dialogue, I thought "shit, this guy sounds like ME." Those of you who know me may find this hard to believe, as I am generally even-tempered and social and sweet, but that's the robot I send out to meet my public. Spend a day with me at work, and you'll learn I have my own Zuckerberg split personality. All programmers do, and it has less to do with some girl that dumped us (that entire subplot of The Social Network is bullshit, and beneath the talents of all involved) and everything to do with the fact that, growing up, you guys were all mean to us. Zuckerberg didn't invent Facebook because he got dumped--he invented Facebook to get you addicted to his brand of crack so he could exact revenge on your ass later. Mark my words.

The greatest scene of the year is when Eisenberg reacts after the Facebook has launched. I've tried to explain to people the rush I get when a program of mine compiles and does what I wrote it to do. Fincher and company nails this feeling, as well as the general attitude of all us I.T. people out there in the dark. I suppose this shouldn't make me any more cynical--after all, Fincher told you the truth--but I felt kinda naked and exposed after watching this movie. So fuck you, David Fincher! (And by fuck, I actually mean "thank.")

Here's to a great 2011 folks! Happy New Year and I wish you all the best life has to offer.

See you in February. Y'all be cool.


Unknown said...

Very good list! I also hate it when people say things over and over again, thinking that will make them true. I found this especially annoying in The Great Health care Debate of 2010, when buzzwords like "death panels" and "socialized medicine" overshadowed the real issue.

I found your blog through Twitter. Did you know that Roger Ebert tweeted this post?

odienator said...

TB, I'm just the blog hijacker, the drunk uncle who shows up with a lampshade on his head every so often. BMV belongs to Mr. Steven Boone.

Thanks for the comment! Until about 20 minutes ago, I had no idea Ebert tweeted me. It's an honor. Please don't be a stranger here, especially in February when we do our big BHM special. We like causing trouble here.

I should try something. I'm going to keep saying that I'm rich and drop dead sexy. Let's see if it comes true.

Unknown said...

Ha! I like that. It's like The Secret! I added this blog to my subscriptions, so I won't be a stranger. Glad I found y'all!

Anonymous said...

I hear you, sir... but I'm still avoiding "The Social Network".

As an IT geek for 35 years I certainly qualify as a cynic, but I'm also an incurable optimist. The cynicism came easily (and may be genetic); the optimism seeped in gradually after I quit programming, which I did after 9yrs, 50wks and one day.

(Not that I was counting or anything.)

Yeah, I loved the kick I got when code I sweated over burst into life and worked just as I had scripted it. But then came the aftermath: Users were granted free reign to destroy every creation I labored so hard to give birth to.

I found that no matter how tight the code, no matter how thorough the error trapping, no matter how clear and unambiguous the user interface, those damned users would find a way to rape, pillage and burn my pride and joy in spite of all my efforts to safeguard the poor thing from abuse.

The lesson I and some of my programming brethren ("The Creators") eventually learned was simple yet powerful: It is impossible to overestimate the ingenuity of fools.

In the quarter century since I've spent my days (and nights) as a support analyst, identifying the idiocies of, and finding ways to repair the havoc created by, "The Destroyers" (what many folks in the biz refer to as "end users").

Sure I am still faced with the results of foolish ingenuity, but it isn't nearly as personal because IT AIN'T MY CODE! And since far too many programmers these days seem to ignore many of the basic rules I learned so many years ago, I not only get to lecture "The Destroyers" on their foolishness -- I get the opportunity to do the same for "The Creators".

As for Sarah, Barack, Tea Partiers, Dem(dum)s, and politics in general?

Let's just say the cynicism came naturally; I'm still working on the optimism part.

Anonymous said...

Chock-a-block wiht quotable quotes!

Juan Foca said...

Interesting that you name-checked Abe Vigoda. When I saw the headline 'Barney Miller star dies' last month, I instantly assumed it referred to good ol' Abe. But no, it was some other guy I didn't remember at all...and I ALWAYS watched Barney Miller back in the day.

For the record, Abe Vigoda turns 90 on February 24. Even though he already looked 90 when Barney Miller originally aired...

odienator said...

Anon: the optimism seeped in gradually after I quit programming, which I did after 9yrs, 50wks and one day.

Today marks my 23-1/2 year anniversary as a programmer! I should go get drunk. Just 1-1/2 years more to go...I'm counting.

Juan: For the record, Abe Vigoda turns 90 on February 24. Even though he already looked 90 when Barney Miller originally aired...

He always looked decrepit old, that's why all the death rumors keep coming up. I bet he'll be the last Barney Miller person to keel over.