|THE BLACK LIST: NO REST FOR THE WICKED.|
|By The Black Table|
Two weeks until Election Day, and we're all freaking exhausted. Too many late-night baseball games, too much screwing around with electoral college simulations, too many old friends getting married and making us feel worthless and alone, too much, well, too much hardcore pornography. It's all just too much. The Black Table is so tired. We need rest and sustenance.
Unfortunately, we're in the wrong country, and the wrong month, for any of that. We are now officially Clockwork Orange-d up, with the eyedrops and the chair with the straps on it and everything. We need input, we need information, we need morphine. We need it all. Just pump it into our veins!
We can't wait for the holidays. We all need some air, some shuteye, some Alone Time; all this rigmarole is whittling our souls to a collective nub.
Fortunately, we take solace, as always, in the Black List, which has 11 pretty (so pretty) reviews this week. We want more, using the form on the right. We are hungry. Our spirits are strong. Give us all you've got. We can take it. For now.
JON STEWART: What the heck has gotten into Jon Stewart lately? The Daily Show is probably the hottest show on television right now, the new book (which is hilarious, by the way; buy it now) is selling like mad and just about everyone I know will be watching Comedy Central rather than CNN on Election Night. Up until a couple of weeks ago, Stewart has been the smiling, sarcastic comedian, making great jokes but taking no real stand, like, well, like every other comedian. Not anymore. First he made fun of Robert Novak's rib surgery (he claimed the rib was "trying to escape"). And then, in a move that was almost activist in its daring, he went on CNN's "Crossfire" and proceeded to absolutely eviscerate hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala (watch the video) for "hurting America" with "partisan hackery." There are two sides to this. First, one of the great things about "The Daily Show" (and the book) is that is gleefully hurls dung at everybody; by staying more loyal to comedy than to politics, the show, strangely, has earned more credibility with its audience. We don't feel like the show is lecturing us; it's just pointing out the absurdity of it all. In this way, Stewart might have crossed the line; there is a temptation to tell Stewart to stick to the jokes already. But on the other hand, dammit, Stewart's right. Shows like "Crossfire" are exactly the type of black-or-white junk that makes it impossible to trust
anyone, impossible for any true "moral outrage," as Stewart called it, to rise above the clutter. The entire political process is so me-vs.-you right now that it's no wonder people have become cynical. Stewart's rant was one of the few times where you felt the average American voter actually had a voice. Stewart is a comedian, yes, but he's also a citizen; his righteous indignation was justified and, yeah, now that you mention it, damned funny. It's a sad statement, but honestly: Name me a newscaster you trust more than Stewart. So yeah: You go, Jon. A- -- Will Leitch
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: OK, who didn't get this memo: Sometimes women who live in supposedly idyllic, suburban homes want more out of their lives then being subservient mothers and housewives. They even like to get a good pounding every once in a while. Everybody got that memo, right? So why is this show being hailed as the "edgy" breakaway hit of the fall season? This is trite, bubble-headed Women's Studies 101 blather that, at best, would have been an amusing movie of the week in 1986. Yet, with a culture reeling from "Sex and the City"'s long overdue farewell, this is apparently the best television could come up with to fill the twatzilla void in America. And is it just me, or does it seem like Teri Hatcher's jaw is about one grind away from unattaching itself from her face running off and killing somebody? F -- A.J. Daulerio
BATTERED FAN SYNDROME: You've been loyal and loving to the Red Sox for at least two decades, but the game is always the same. Over the years you've amassed lacerations to your self-esteem; ugly mental contusions you feebly attempt to explain with stock excuses like "I fell down the stairs" or "it's not our fault; the Yankees are evil." Each summer the Sox take the field, and though you promise yourself you won't make the same mistake again they beckon you with an "I'm sorry, baby. I've changed. You'll see; this season will be different." Wanting desperately to believe, you give in -- and that is when the hurting starts. Consider this your intervention. Take a good long look at what this relationship has done to you. You've grown to hate your team more than Yankees fans ever could. Your steady diet of disappointment has warped your very soul. Yankees fans aren't even interested in jeering you anymore. It's too cruel, and the expression on your face as your dreams are crushed (again) is too pathetic. Face it, Sox fans. There is only one way to break this vicious cycle. Leave the abusive bastards, and start rooting for a team that will treat you right. Might I suggest the one in pinstripes? F -- kmp
CHRONICLES, VOLUME 1, BY BOB DYLAN: It's no surprise that Dylan is a great writer, but his skill at assembling a narrative is what stands out most in this first volume of his long-awaited autobiography. He deftly avoids pretty much everything you'd like to see him to expand upon -- his motorcycle accident, going electric at the Newport Folk Festival, recording Blood on the Tracks and finding God -- but it's inconsequential to what Dylan does reveal. Volume 1 seems to be about his inspiration and the things that shaped his early writing. Don't be fooled by the excerpt in Newsweek; it's from the shortest section in the whole book and the angriest. It's best to start at the beginning and work from there. While it's also helpful to have read a biography or two about Dylan to assemble the details that he's left vague, it's really not essential. If you're uncertain whether or not Chronicles is worth it, check out the first chapter and go from there, where the best bits are: his remembrances of life in Greenwich Village passing a basket, singing songs and meeting strange characters. The last third of the book is where the money is; Dylan recounts his first meeting with some people who would help shape his persona in years to come. Basically, he gives you a cookie for sticking through a long section about the recording of 1989's Oh Mercy, but like a master storyteller, Dylan knows exactly where to end so you'll want more. A -- Frank Smith
SUBWAY ROBBERY WITHOUT A GUN: Every few years, the deservedly loathed Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City goes through a scary dance with the commuting public: "Allow us to raise fares," they say, "or we'll have to cut back a lot of service." Commuters usually bite their nails at the prospect of service being worse than it already is and relent to a fare hike. This year, though, the MTA is sparing us this charade and promising to raise fares and cut service. The MTA says it must close a multi-billion dollar deficit. Regular riders of the Big Apple's subways and buses know from experience that service gets seemingly worse every day; this year the subways were delayed hours by rain when leaks flooded subway tracks. Rain, for Christ's sake! This all comes after the MTA's latest professed deficit turned out to be a multi-billion dollar surplus with the powers that be cooking the books. Maybe our soon-to-be discontinued discount Metrocards should come with some KY, because the MTA is fucking us harder than ever before. F -- Matthew Sheahan
MEXICAN SEX MARKET: Modern economies rely on the division of labor, such that one needn't bake bread, smith tools and cobble shoes in a day's work. Rather, we individually specialize in a field and bargain for those goods others produce better and cheaper. In one less progressive economy, however, I have found that some laborers are performing outside their area of expertise: In Quintana Roo, Mexico, the strippers are hooking between pole dances. You should be concerned. The separation of hook and pole, like church and state, is fundamental to our peace of mind. I like to know a couple of things about the woman giving me a lap dance: She's at least 18 (ok, 16) and has a future beyond the pole. My unholy erection is redeemed because I'm contributing to a scholarship fund of sorts. But if she's a hooker too, man, that leaves me no moral outs. My 1,500 pesos is going into the same pocket as the 3,000 pesos some hombre just paid to get brained in a clapboard lean-to out back, and I can't get with that. Sex market inefficiencies: C- -- GH
CELEBRATING YOUR SINGLEHOOD ON A WEDNESDAY: The night starts off with just a plan to go out, grab a few drinks with friends and discuss the current state of your life. You grab a drink and then, after another three, you declare the need for a good shot. You harass the bartender for a good mid week-shot; he obliges. Then another second round of shots. It's Wednesday, and you are newly single. You drunkenly slur how damn happy you are to be free and plan how you are going to spend every weekend from here until next summer. You start to see double, then triple. At one point you loudly declare that you are now a lesbian because, well, why not? You goof that you need a new period in life to get over your old one. Your friends rally behind you. It's still Wednesday. Finally you get in a cab, try not to suppress the nausea and get home. You stumble in the door and your phone rings. It's your ex. You drunkenly declare your newfound lesbianism and hang up to vomit. Of course you don't make it to work the next day, but it's totally worth it. A -- Haley Papageorge
LACK OF SALSA SELECTIONS: I'm at the supermarket, looking for something to spice up my rather boring selection of veggie burgers and yogurt. Salsa! I think. Spicy, low-calorie and goes with almost everything. So I head over to that aisle, and find various offerings, but they're all either "medium" or "mild." Now tell me, is there really any difference between medium and mild? Where is hot? Chili? Blow-the-roof-off-your-mouth-spicy? Isn't that the whole point of salsa, to liven up boring things like chips? To me, eating mild salsa (or medium, as the case may be) is like eating ketchup, or tomato sauce. Maybe I'm going to the wrong supermarket. At least they have salsa at my store, but until they take a lesson from Taco Bell and add something akin to FIRE, their selection gets a C- -- Rachel Kramer Bussel
THAT RECURRING DREAM: Your dream, in repeat: Being utterly convinced that your secret, unrequited high-school crush has returned from law school, halfway across the country, specifically to find you. It sucks when the alarm goes off, and you realize yes, it was that dream again. You'd be happy to forget about her completely, seeing as you've found love otherwise and live a happy life in all other regards, but your subconscious knows you better than you ever will. And it will never let you forget, even for a short month, the girl whose phone number through five years of high school you were too chicken to ask for. The worst part is: You've now grown up enough that you could deal with a similar crush with grace. You should have just asked for her number, for Christ's sake. Would it have been that hard? You would have at least saved yourself six years of recurring dreams, shit for brains! F -- t
EAGER SALESPEOPLE AT BIG-BOX RETAIL OUTFITS: Training new entrants to the workforce has become something of a boot camp at a lot of stores now. The person who attends to you lets you know that he/she "will be taking care of you today," and then asks you your name, refers to you when speaking to other salespeople as "my client" or "my account," despite the fact that she's simply showing you a few shelves or some other particularly mundane task that will mean your "relationship" will last no longer than, oh, 12 minutes. Still, even though we're jaded, unless it's obnoxiously pretentious and transparent, the faux-happiness isn't so off-putting. Particularly compared to the growling bears that work at most hardware stores, pharmacies, grocery stores and steakhouses (although at the latter, nobody cares). B -- David Gaffen
APOLOGY EMAILS WITH THE HEADLINE "PLEASE DON'T BLOG ABOUT THIS:" You were a dick, and you're admitting to it, so good for you. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too little, too late, especially when you apologize over email three weeks after you drunkenly slept through a date. The final straw: Titling the damn thing "Please Don't Blog About This." First of all: We're always on the record here. If you don't like that, go find some lovely accountant to shag. Second of all: My blog has 12 readers, including my Mom. And my Mom already hates you. So what are you worried about? For relying on technology to shield you from feminine wrath: D. For pleading with femme not to use same technology to expose your idiocy: F -- Jen Hubley
Each and every week, Black Table readers like you write the Black List and get absolutely nothing in return. Ain't that some shit.