Evil Forces in the World

Reflections on ''Evil Forces in the World,'' as well as occasional remarks concerning ''Good Forces in the World.''

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Upon googling "Evil Forces," I discovered, to my chagrin, that this modest blog did not top the list; instead, I came upon creepy Star Wars fan fiction (as opposed to non-creepy fan fiction, which is a fiction), a web site concerning the indestructibility of something called Dafa ("Clarify the truth thoroughly, eliminate the evil with righteous thoughts, save all beings, and safeguard the Fa with determination," to which I say, "but of course"), an official Chinese announcement that, in keeping with the central aims of this blog, China and Kazakhstan are to "Beef Up Efforts Against Evil Forces," a staunchly pro-Christ PDF file, and, of course, the "Marchingsong of the Evil Forces" by Dave Huygen, which is perhaps a pseudonym.

Hot diggity, we're on the second page of results! Hot damn! Hot tamales!

A number of young people I know have written books, and some have published books. I was uncertain as to the nature of this phenomenon -- specificially, I was wondering whether it was good or evil, all in the hope of providing you, our readers, with sound moral guidance in these troubled times -- and so I decided to consult a a device with powerful psychic properties, which is not unlike a "Magic Eightball," but has nothing to do with Eightball and MJG: "If Eight ain't enough / Don't worry I got eight in the clip / Eight for them hard looks / And eight for that lip." But then I discovered that this device was nothing more than a rusty Snoopy "Joe Cool" lunchpail, which came as something of a disappointment.

Incidentally, the "Joe Cool" theme song is deeply evil, and I'll tell you why. No, in fact, I'll show you. Consider this:

Joe Cool...dressin' up right,
Going out to catch a lady to take out tonight.
Put the shades on...precious pearly white;
Lookin' casual, feelin' dynomite.

This is like selling crack to kids, as opposed to utterly harmless Hershey's Krackel bars. The last portion almost redeems this sinister, sex-addled, licentious song:

He says, "Hey baby...here's a flower for you."
She said, "Come a little closer.
I've got something for you, too."

Keep it light now...playin' by the rules.
Then she slaps him; he feels like a fool.
He says "Hey baby...what did you do that for?"
She says, "You ain't called me
In at least a year or more."

He heads home...but he's no fool.
He may not have a girlfriend but,
At least he's cool...Joe Cool.

This is a good message for the kids: don't get smacked. At the same time, it remains entirely clear that "Joe Cool" is a scoundrel. I rest my case.

Speaking of scoundrels, what on earth was Roger Clinton doing in Pyongyang?

This is characteristically excellent.
This country is beside itself because the 2002 major league baseball all-star game ended in a tie. Both Leagues' managers ran out of fresh pitchers by the end of 11 innings, a consequence of trying to get every selected player into the game for even a short stint, and wisely did not want to endanger the remaining players' health by extending the game needlessly. People are furious. None other than Senators John McCain and John Kerrey have expressed their outrage on the Imus in the Morning radio show. Countless sports journalists (yes, the purest of oxymorons) have yanked the few remaining hairs from their pates in disgust, fans in attendance threw debris (when do fans ever throw anything larger than debris?), and baseball has supposedly suffered yet another black eye. Miraculously, the Earth has followed roughly the same path in the days since the all-star game that it forged prior to the game. There's a simple reason for that: this planet does not stop for evil.

Much as Evil Forces abhors drags on achievement, there is simply nothing wrong with a tie in a @#$%ing all-star game. Compare Game A and Game B. Game A is the 2002 Major League All-Star Game from Milwaukee, WI. Game B is a tense battle between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, from the recesses of the last 5 minutes of my imagination. Game A ended in a 7-7 tie. Game B ... has just ended. Freddy Garcia twirled a masterful shutout, defeating the Evil Empire 6-0 in front of a raucous crowd at Yankee Stadium. That is, Yankee Stadium in my head. The individual statistics and outcome from Game A matter about as much to the 2002 regular season as do the statistics and outcome from Game B. Since a more decisive outcome wouldn't have meant diddly, there's no need to cry or disturb one's hair.

Maybe in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, the outcome would have mattered. Back when the American League was quite distinct from the National League in style of play, fan allegiance, etc., a titanic midseason battle among the Leagues' best would tell us something somewhat important. But in 2002, with a) frenetic player mobility across Leagues by way of free agency, salary arbitration, and freewheeling general managers' creative trades, b) Wide public exposure for both Leagues' players via national television contracts, ESPN, DirecTV, c) interleague play, and d) homogenization/centralization of umpiring, among other factors, there is very little that makes these Leagues much more distinct than the sub-sections of other sports like hockey, basketball, and football. The designated hitter only means something significant to people whose asses fit nicely into appropriately-shaped depressions in their couches.

And those goony fans in Milwaukee got more than they paid for. Grand Slam tennis tournaments justify paying female tennis players less than their male counterparts based on the fact that the males' matches are best-of-five-sets, whereas the females play best-of-three. So, the theory goes, the men deserve more moolah because they have to chase that yellow-green fuzzball for longer. Table whether this is persuasive for tennis, considering that the Anna Kournikovas (would that there were more than one) of the world boost gate receipts far higher than the Juan Carlos Ferreros (my life wouldn't change much if there were fewer than one). But here, those ungrateful goons in attendance in Milwaukee got 11 innings of baseball for their $175 dollar tickets. Maybe the rest of us should boo when we go to a baseball game that ends after 9 innings, or after 8.5 innings when the home team wins.

Equally evil are some of the popular criticisms that have emerged. One fan's sign exclaimed, "Ties are for hockey." Silly, unsupported assertion. Apparently, my friend, ties are also for baseball all-star games. Or my favorite retort, "If the outcome doesn't matter, why keep score?" What's so hard about keeping score? Scoreboards aren't hand-operated anymore. Just as it ain't a bad idea to shower even on days when you don't leave the house, there's little harm in doing things that don't require much effort.

Here's another evil: despite the accepted social convention that subsequent users of communal dryers should clean the prior users' lint from the lint screens, it nevertheless remains taboo for men to leave the toilet seat up.
In a few short days, theaters across America will serve as portals from this world -- our familiar highly-screwed-up world in which Princeton Football T-shirt wearer Kyle, chiseled beyond belief in that distressingly Aryan way (speaking of Aryans, I urge all of you to read Defying Hitler: A Memoir, a contemporaneous account of a young German man who, as you might've guessed, resisted the Nazi regime; it is well worth the hardcover price, I promise), and allegedly Southern Keri, a little plump and yet somehow smolderingly sexy (I must confess, she has the moon-shaped face of this irritable part-Mongolian lady I used to know, and so I quite involuntarily swoon), of The Real World: Chicago are evilly incapable of facing up to the incontrovertible fact of their undying love, even on the very last episode of the season (as I discovered late last night, or rather very early this morning), leaving aside the far more serious matter of soul-deadening poverty -- to a world in which terrible fire-breathing dragons rule the planet. This turn of events was brought about by an ill-mannered British public school boy, which comes as a surprise to no one. Fortunately, both Christian Bale and Matthew "'Say, man, you got a joint?' 'No, not on me man.' 'It'd be a lot cooler if you did.'" McConaughey, as well as Radha Mitchell, who is definitely not even slightly Indian, are on hand to kick dragon ass. I don't know about you, but I'm betting on the humans.

And so the next time you fret about any number of evil forces -- rent control, preventable disease (thousands still die of polio, which makes me sick), and the brutal eastern European sex industry, which has thankfully attracted a good deal of attention in recent months -- just remember that at least we don't have to fend off extremely clever mythological creatures.

Honestly, I think I might choose the dragons. I am seriously vicious with a slingshot. This is a sobering thought.

Be good.

Incidentally, we always welcome feedback, or rather I always welcome feedback; suffice it to say, I've received so much thus far that the feds think I'm running some sort of money laundering operation. And the mailman, bless him, is convinced that I'm John Stamos, based only on the sheer volume of messages I receive from avid readers of Tiger Beat and, of course, Cosmo Girl, though I'm decidedly Bengali and have the mug of a nineteenth-century pugilist, which I attribute to getting a lot of "fresh air" in middle school.

I really love the song "Ghost Town" by The Specials, which I discovered long before that bastard stole it from me for good. (My sisters had the singles collection, which I gleefully "housed," and I collected a few of their albums over the intervening years. I recommend you do the same: a damn good force.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

And now for a good force.

In America, we're generally spoiled by movies -- specifically by the fact that Hollywood blockbusters are typically released here at home months before they're released abroad, a fact that almost proved too difficult to bear when I missed the US release of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. I saw it roughly a month late in Edinburgh. I really love that city, incidentally.

But yes, the British, for example, see British films long before we do, and some never make it to the US. This didn't happen to East is East, which was bloody hilarious. (I saw it in the US, in New York, and in Paris. Oddly enough, I saw The Replacement Killers on three continents, which is absurd and hardly indicative of my extremely sedentary lifestyle. I didn't even like it very much. I do like Chow Yun Fat, who makes for an excellent tough guy, perhaps because he is in fact extremely tough.) I really hope Bend It Like Beckham makes it here, and soon. Not because of director Gurinder Chadha's tiresome multiculti pieties, mind you (in this essay, she kvetches about the failure of her deeply mediocre American debut, attributing it to our unenlightened sensibilities, and praises Britain's cultural climate in a bizarre fit of "more-tolerant-than-thou" post-nationalist nationalist twaddle -- call me crazy, but aren't all of the Asian rioters in your neck of the woods, Ms Chadha?), but because the female stars are tremendously cute.

Keira Knightley in particular is a strong force for good. Of Carly Pope proportions? Wait and see.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Would you like to read something ferociously kick-ass? Read it and weep.

I came upon a now-defunct blog, the saddest kind of blog (and rest assured, we've come pretty damn close): The Date Project, run by a fellow from Portland, Oregon, home of Vera Katz and Reed College, a favorite of hairy left-wingers.

Speaking of that last link, is it screwed-up and deeply perverse -- evil, even -- that leg-shaving and underarm-shaving is a deeply-rooted convention in US society, as a young woman called Nicole argued in the Daily Bruin? (I believe the same can be said of Canadian society and indeed Western society, but I'll stick with what I know best.) Quite possibly. I've always been quite skittish about body piercings and tattoos, though I know at least one extremely nice fellow who had Gandhi on one knee and, if I recall correctly, Albert Schweitzer on the other. The loveliest girl I've ever met (can't say I know her well, and my assessment of her loveliness is based entirely upon her physical attributes) had no piercings at all, which struck me as both odd and really cool, and so I may well be biased. Regardless, doing potentially painful things to one's body always struck me as unwise. That said, hairy legs are truly unattractive; I realize that I'm buying into a potentially toxic social norm, but this is one norm I can't transcend.

Monday, July 08, 2002

I'm not sure whether competitive eating counts as a force of good or an evil force (why does "good force" not sound nearly as graceful as "evil force"? Surely the product of some sort of evil). Perhaps it is just another one of life's merry frivolities that make this country the envied cool kid on the global block. Or perhaps it's just another one of nutrition's no-no's that make this country the laughed-at obese kid in the international neighborhood. Either way, it's debatable.

What is undoubtedly evil, however, is the phenomenon of controversy shrouding competitive eating. Mr. Kobayashi, the diminuitive reigning champion from Japan, flies (in a plane, presumably) to Coney Island to defend his title, then proceeds to devour a smidge over 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Shortly after the smidge goes down and time expires, the champion's innards stage a mini-rebellion vying for some on-camera face time of their own. Beautiful. The second place dude, New York City transit conductor Mr. Booker, who would be far better served (and would serve his country's health care system, his hometown's railway system, and his body's arterial system far better) entering a few competitive dieting competitions, eats a measly 26 hot dogs in the same 12 minutes, then cries foul.

Let's table the evil in the phrase 'cry foul', nevertheless noting that few people who have ever cried foul have ever uttered 'foul'. The more pressing instantiation of evil is the audacity of a man who, despite being bested by 24 hot dogs (enough to feed the family of four that one could house comfortably betwixt the man's cavernous abdominal folds) even before the devoured dogs mounted a manifest uprising, appeals for relief. This from a man who outweighed the champion by 287 pounds. I suspect that no combination of 2 staff members at Evil Forces would add up to 287 pounds. The ultimate irony is that, given the wide margin of victory, there is little doubt that Kobayashi could eat Booker in less time than it would take Booker to eat Kobayashi. That, my friends, may be the only way to resolve decisively this outrageous controversy and put an end to the drag on achievement that the Bookers of this country generate.
I am listening to "People Who Died," one of the many fine Jim Carroll tracks featured in The Basketball Diaries. My favorite sequence: "Brian got busted on a narco rap / He beat the rap by ratting on some bikers / He said, 'Hey, I know it's dangerous, but it sure beats Riker's!' / But the next day he got offed / by the very same bikers."

Don't do drugs.

In case you haven't noticed, this web site is a testament to the indomitable American spirit and the miracle that is the Internet, a miracle that's lost some luster in light of the ongoing unraveling of the much-ballyhooed New Economy. Still, "miracle" gets it just about right: we launched this web site in Washington, D.C., but from the very beginning we've had a strong presence in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, we have tentacles in Providence, Rhode Island and Brooklyn, New York, my hometown. Now, this might not sound too far-flung -- we're all in the northeastern United States and Providence, though a little rough-hewn, is hardly Outer Mongolia -- consider that fifty years ago, it would've taken six years and a thousand horses laden with gold doubloons to make it from the pirate-ruled Republic of Massachusetts Bay to Washington, headquarters of the rag-tag Loyalist Forces led by General Warren G. Mucky-Muck, a treacherous route through twelve feuding fiefdoms, two warring wonderlands, the shark-infested Delaware River. Along the way, you would've encounted numberless hordes of toll-collecting trolls, gypsies, and shameless blond-bearded brigands from Bergen County wearing Birkenstocks. That ain't no joke.

Polish food is exceptionally tasty, certainly when well-prepared; had some very tasty Spanish food earlier today, but remain slavishly devoted to Near Eastern cuisine, "pan-Asian" cuisine (despite the highly questionable moniker), and of course the many cuisines of the Indic world, particularly the always-popular Europeanized interpretation of traditional North Indian fare, which perhaps has its origins in England: a good, good force. I would take a bullet for free trade.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

While visiting an old TASP '96 friend, a fantastically witty and charming fellow called Ezra, I listened to an excellent track on the new Blackalicious album. On the track, this cat "drops science" by dropping science, which is to say discussing and describing a variety of scientific phenomena. Once again, I believe I've been outflanked; fortunately, I will soon be deploying my F-22 Raptors, at which point I'll never be outflanked again due to my omni-directional thrust capabilities.

Of late, you may have noticed that I've dwelled on good forces, choosing to accentuate the positive, much like The Family Channel, yes indeed. You've been duped. Evil is still lurking around every corner, and that's no lie. Rank idiocy might not strike you as evil, but it comes perilously close in my book, in large part because it involves suffering as often as not. Not cool.

For those of you with an interest in wrecking the set, I say: "cool your jets." By now, I gather it is entirely clear that Freddie Prinze Jr. is the devil. Be grateful that he wasn't cast in the shockingly dope Spider-Man movie. I know I am.

Incidentally, how long will it take for Carly Pope to be discovered, which is to say widely worshipped across both the First World and the Free World, which overlap? As Tanya in Jake Kasdan's Orange County, she was approximately three miles beyond awesome, three inches beyond awesome being an almost inhuman feat achieved only by NAVY Seals, troubled rapper/performance artist Flava Flav, and the late Eudora Welty, at least thus far in the brief geological moment men and ladies have walked the earth. (Note: This list doesn't reflect personal prejudices so much as extensive scientific research. And now I too have "dropped science.")