Category Archives: Humor

James Lileks

Internet copyright criminal:

YouTube had detected that I was using a 30-year old performance now owned by Sony, and thus I was VIOLATING EVERYTHING HELD SACRED or words to that effect. One had to marvel at a system that could detect such things, especially since the impression one gets from reading YouTube comments is that the service is aimed at a unique species of chimp that is making the transition from flinging its feces as a means of expressing disagreement to typing words which occasionally add up to an actual sentence.

It’s possible someone would have watched the video, and thought: Interesting piece, this Mahler thing. Even though I have heard but two minutes I believe I have grasped the totality of the work, and will refrain from seeking out the entire movement. Surely more could only add up to less. And thus Sony would be deprived of 23 cents in royalty.

Well, I didn’t own the copyright, and while I could claim Fair Use under the guise of using Mahler’s early use of his own Judaic heritage to score slo-mo goose-stepping spark plugs as means of examining the composer’s nominal acceptance of Christianity to ward off the anti-semitism of fin de siecle Vienna, ahhh, to hell with it.

And yes, before you ask, I am indeed behind on my Lileks.

Turning The Country Around

No, now is not the time:

Now, back in 2008, Barack Obama was elected president with a Democrat-controlled House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Many of us correctly knew this was like having a toddler armed with power tools. Others, though, didn’t see the danger and cooed, “Oh, look at that little guy. He’s so industrious! He’s going to get a lot done,” while the rest of us were freaking out, worried about him getting near anything valuable. And before we could yell, “No, little Barry, no!” he went right after health care with his drill, and it’s basically all ruined now.

So in 2010 we voted to take away his power tools by turning the House over to the Republicans. Obama was still a destructive little tyke who just refused to listen, but at least now it was a bit harder for him to burn the whole house down or something. In 2012, we — well, I don’t know how to stretch the analogy — had the option to exchange little Barry at the kid-trade-in emporium and get a better kid who might not be as dumb and destructive. I guess we had grown fond of the little dummy, though, and thought maybe he was finally learning. We were just being sentimental, of course. We really should have done the smart thing and sold the kid to gypsies.

And that brings us to 2014 and the option we have before us now: mittens. Now, no one is talking about giving the tyke power tools again. There’s just no conceivable scenario in which the Democrats take back the House this year — and I’m including science fiction scenarios involving advanced aliens and Doctor Who-type closed time loops — so the only real question is whether the Republicans can get a majority in the Senate. That would be like forcing little Barry to wear mittens to keep his grubby little fingers out of things. He’ll still be able to knock things over and run into furniture, but the mittens will at least somewhat limit the damage he can cause.

Now, I want to note that I don’t mean this analogy to be disrespectful to President Obama. But I think most historians will back me when I say his presidency is the equivalent of a dumb child running into tables.

Read the rest. You know you want to.

Hope For My Old Age

That’s what I had, until I found out this story wasn’t really true:

Pearson admitted during her arraignment that when she found the 88-year-old Venn trying to turn tricks she and her friends decided it would be funny to sleep ‘with an old guy.’ Word spread and lots of girls paid Venn for sex. Pearson said he only charged five dollars and gave them lollipops afterward.

Nice while it lasted, though.


Lileks, back from his Aegean trip, has started a new B&W series.

Also, summer camp reminiscences. Which makes me happy that the place I went to is still around. I still remember the swimming test. I had just had lessons at the high school, and passed everything to be allowed the run of the lake. One part was treading water for some duration (ten minutes, maybe). Another was diving down deep (maybe fifteen feet) to bring up a handful of muck. Probably with bloodsuckers in it.


Lileks takes a vacation in Greece:

A few switchbacks up we found a nice niche that would have been an excellent spot for a small bar; seems it had served that function once, as it had benches and something like a table. We chatted with some Brits who were also dying but cheerful about it. They’d met some donkeys coming down, and the lass astride one of them leaned over and said “Worst Day of my Life.”

We continued on, up the shite-strewn path. By “567 steps” they mean a step, then a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone, followed by another step, followed by a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone smeared with ordure, and so on. Another herd of donkeys, this one thicker than the last, and not particularly concerned with our presence. Suddenly you realized you had two options: you would be crushed against the wall by donkeys, or pushed over the side by donkeys. Neither seemed appealing, just like the growing belief you would either suffer failure of the heart or the kidneys.

With pictures and video, of course.

The End Of Captain Video

It’s OK, though because now we get reviews of Captain America:

It begins with a reprise of the fist-fight, which is a bit dismaying; does this mean we won’t get a new fist-fight? The elements of any serial are the Suddenly Important Piece of Technology, a fist-fight, a car going off a cliff, gunplay, and certain death faced by the hero or the Gal Friday. The best episodes have all of them; most have two.

Anyway, Gail was saved, as usual, by selective editing; Cap manages to stop the blade before she’s bisected, leaving everyone too shaken to ask why there was a guillotine in a box factory in the first place.

Well, everything that has gone on before is dropped like a hot poker; Maldor says “it’s time for the next phase of the operation,” suggesting that they’re no longer into using high-powered scientific inventions to steal art and precious metals. Rest on their laurels? Not our Maldor! He wants to go after Henley, the Oil Magnate, who’s never been mentioned, but “he also was a member of the Mayan expedition that discredited me.” As if we remember that from six weeks ago. As if the fact that all the members of the expedition are dying off except the one guy who they discredited wouldn’t occur to, oh, MAYBE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY WHO IS ALSO CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Maldor sent Henley an extortion note, confident he will show it to Captain District Attorney, and by bugging Captain District Attorney’s apartment, Maldor will know what he is doing.

Because if there’s one thing you want when committing blackmail, it’s the constant involvement and attention of the District Attorney.

As only Lileks can do it.

P. J. O’Rourke

What I would tell the graduating Rutgers class of 2014.”

Here you are graduating from Rutgers, which is, as I mentioned, the 69th-best university in America. Maybe Rutgers should add more vegan selections to its cafeteria fare. U.S. News & World Report scorekeepers go for that kind of thing. Actually, you’re tied for 69th with Texas A&M, an NFL first-round draft with a small college attached.

Your most famous alumni are Garret A. Hobart, 24th vice president of the United States, Ozzie Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet, Mr. Magoo, and seven former governors of New Jersey. Given the recent history of that office, I promise not to tell anybody. (Gov. Kean went to Princeton.)

And you just wasted $100,308 on tuition, fees, and room and board, assuming you were able to zip through Rutgers in a mere four years. Although you only wasted $53,996 if you were living in your parents’ basement. But you wasted $156,404 if you’re one of those bridge and tunnel people from out of state. Let’s call it a hundred long. Approximately 14,000 of you are graduating this year. That’s $1.4 billion wasted.

Why do I say “wasted”? Those of you who are, know why. Those of you who, for reasons unfathomable, are sober on this occasion may need it explained.

I have done research. I used the same tools for deep and comprehensive understanding that you used for your essays and term papers—Wikipedia and random Internet searches.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (at least as reliable a source as the National Association of Cats and Dogs), the average starting salary for a newly graduated B.A. is $45,633.

Not bad, you say. There’s almost rent and a car payment in that, after taxes. But “average starting salary” assumes you’re salaried. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 75 percent of college graduates are in the labor force. Maybe the rest are on a grad-school full ride getting a Ph.D. in string theory.

There’s reason to doubt it. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows 44 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed. A report in The Atlantic claims half of those recent graduates are working “in jobs that don’t require a degree.” And, in a National Center for Education Statistics survey, 48 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds with student-loan debt say they are unemployed or underemployed. Can you spell KFC?

I wouldn’t bet on it.