The Electric Commentary

Monday, August 08, 2005


Since the news is slow today I think it's time to delve into the EC mailbag.* It's been too long.

Q. What's the worst movie ever made?

Phoenix AZ

A. That's easy. Nothing But Trouble, pound for pound, is the worst movie ever made. To start with, it's a post-Fletch Chevy Chase movie. That caps it at like 2 stars right there. From that point, add no plot whatsoever, have Dan Akroyd take his face off, make Demi Moore look hideous, take two fat guys and put them in diapers, and have the Digital Underground stop by to perform their hit, Same Song. It's a known fact that Tupac wasn't actually killed; he died from the embarrassment of being in this film.

Number 2? That would be S.W.A.T. This movie is so bad that I left the theatre in the middle of the movie, despite the fact that I was drinking beer the whole time.

Q. I've noticed that you don't really like jam bands. Is there any reason for this?

Seattle WA

A. Funny you should ask that, I was just thinking about that today. It all started when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was over at a friends house watching The Greatful Dead on In Concert Late Night when I made the single stupidest statement of my life:

"I'll hit the bathroom after this song is over."

As I now know, Greatful Dead songs can go on for hours at a time, and this was one of them, but I'd made the statement, and those present were trying their hardest to make me stick to it. The mocking was brutal. Not as severe as the mocking I will receive for writing this, but severe nonetheless.

This may have also contributed to my fondness for ska, as the average ska tune is about a minute and a half.

Q. You seem to dance around the war in Iraq. Come on man, for it or against it.


Newton PA

A. I think that my answer to that is kind of lame, which is why I don't talk about it, but here goes.

I think it was a good idea, but conducted poorly. I am, however, not shocked that it was conducted poorly, which makes me rethink whether or not the initial support was justified. I still think that it probably was, but I'm not happy about the domestic legislation that was rammed through either.

In short, I'm not really sure. It's good to liberate people. It is especially good to liberate people in a region that wants to blow you up. Corrupt governments are the most destructive force on earth, and putting an end to them is the best charity that you can give to a country. But war is a dirty business, so there have been a lot of negative consequences to the war.

In general I agree with most lefty critiques. The war does build anti-American sentiment overseas, it does cost a lot in terms of lives and money, and we do occasionally kill innocent civilians.


Iraq was a good target (North Korea was too dangerous, Iran was not as likely to democratize), so the "focus elsewhere" criticism is bogus (and don't get me started on Afghanistan). As is the blood for oil criticism.

If we wanted oil that badly we would invade Alaska.

So I balance my options and I'm all wishy-washy about it, but I am probably still slightly in favor of it. I hope that that was of no help at all.

Q. What's the most embarrassing TV show that you ever watched regularly?


Wilmington, DE

A. Well Crunky, that would have to be Charles in Charge. Why did I watch this show? I have no idea. Do I regret it? Absolutely. It is taking up way too much space in my brain. For instance, I know that the first hangout was "The Lamplight" which mysteriously morphed into "Sid's Pizza" at about the same time that they switched families from the quirky Pembrook's to the uniformly blond Powell's, featuring future Baywatch babe Nicole Eggert. Sid's may have gone under due to an ill-informed decision to switch to microwave pizza that Rue McLanahan, of Golden Girls fame, hired Charles to sell. It was then purchased by Charle's aunt Vivian, played by Ellen Travolta, and she turned it into the Yesterday Cafe. During the new Grand Opening for the Cafe Charles and Buddy had planned to hire a band called Rock Bottom, but Buddy squandered the cash so they had to hire a bunch of Nicole Eggert's friends to sing (sitcom characters always have these friends).

That Buddy character was kind of funny though. I wonder what ever happened to him...

Q. You seem to drink a lot. Any ideas on how to prevent a hangover?

Mark A.
Milwaukee, WI

A. First of all, thanks.

Second, before you go out eat a banana. When you get home, immediately take an Aleve, a vitamin, eat another banana, and drink a pint of water. Drink the pint all at once, otherwise you'll forget about it. Then take another glass to bed with you and sip as needed. You'll wake up feeling fine.

What you should not do is have your wife read a list of hangover cures to you while hung over. That's a terrible idea. Did you know that burnt toast is suppose to help?

Q. Why are you and your brother so hostile towards religion.


Salem, OH

A. I think the big issue that we have is the complete lack of any evidence or reason involved. Our parents sent us to Catholic Sunday School for awhile (no hard feelings or anything, it was at least interesting), and one day I got kicked out for arguing against transubstantiation. That is the Catholic doctrine which holds that the host actually turns into the body of Christ and the wine turns into the blood of Christ. I think that this arrangement would have made the last supper very interesting. Anyway, I was about 10 or 11 and I had always understood this to be symbolic. When the teacher insisted that it was literal I simply thought that I heard her wrong. I wasn't even trying to be difficult, I just thought she didn't understand the word "literal" or something. Eventually I realized that she was serious and she realized that I was smart, and so she made me read the bible in the hallway so as not to infect the other students with my correctness.

I suppose I should thank that teacher presenting me with such nonsense, as it was a bit of a turning point for me. Until then I had basically spent all of my time in SS playing dots. That event got me paying attention.

Q. You seem to know something of economics. I own a commons and I was wondering about the best way to protect it.

Andrew B.
Ames, IA

A. You own a commons?

Q. I have a food question. I was at a barbecue and someone was using your brat recipe. It was great! Do you have anything else?


Los Angeles, CA

A. Sure. Get some wonton wrappers, string cheese and vegetable or canola oil. Canola is best. Cut the cheese into thirds and wrap the pieces in the wonton wrappers burrito style.

Poor the oil into a skillet. It should be a bout 3/4 of an inch deep. Note that you will probably get a little bit burned, but it's worth it. Also, have the lid ready in case you have a grease fire.

Heat the oil on low/medium heat until it is ready for frying. To test, simply dunk one of the cheese nuggets into the skillet, and if it crackles, it's ready. Place the wrapped cheese, with the folded end down to keep it sealed, into the skillet. Fry until golden brown. Don't worry if a few explode, those are really tasty.

Remove the cheese with tongs and serve immediately with warm marinara sauce. This is an excellent compliment to the brat recipe, but it's good any time.

OK, last one, so make it good.

Q. Have you ever considered going into politics?


Eugene, OR

I have, actually. The problem is that no one would vote for me. In the movies people find it refreshing when politicians are honest, but in real life they hate that. People want to be bribed and I'm just not into that. Plus I'm not as good of a public speaker as I am a writer. I am a bit of a nerd. At the very least a reformed nerd. Besides, politics mainly involves sucking up, and deciding what to do with other people stuff, and I would just insult people and then give them all of their stuff back.

Actually, that could be kinda fun.

That wraps up another mailbag.

*All questions are in fact fake. The answers are real though.


  • I'd just like to say nice way of presenting all kinds of random points in a coherent way.

    As long as I'm writing...
    I'd like to 2nd the SWAT thing, and nominate Ladies Man for runner up. As for SWAT don't forget we had continuously comsumed beer for two hours before the movie as well.

    Also a 2nd to the banana/vitamin/water hangover treatment, but tomato juice or the next morning bloody mary drinks are also quite useful. Gatorade / plain potato chips are a poor man's substitute.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 10:05 PM  

  • Is that Bibleman thing real? And is it really Buddy?

    For the record, the worst movie is "Big Momma's House" starring Martin Lawrence with "Me, Myself and Irene" in close second. I saw both of these movies in the theater (the budget theater) and walked out of both on consecutive nights. Full disclaimer: I havn't attempted to watch "SWAT" but have seen "Nothing But Trouble" more than once.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 9:16 AM  

  • That is really Willy "Buddy Lembeck" Ames behind the Bibleman mask. Here's his IMDB profile.

    I have not seen Big Momma's House, but that seems like a plausible worst movie. How did you possibly watch that more than once?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 9:25 AM  

  • Why do you think Iran was not as likely to democratize? Why do you think the "focus elsewhere" criticism is bogus? And why can't we get you started on Afghanistan?

    By Blogger MDS, at 11:16 AM  

  • 1. Iran:

    It is often said of Iraq, by critics, that we should not have started there because its population is largely secular. This is precisely the reason that it was a good place to start, and why Iran would probably not have worked.

    Iraq did not suffer (at least as much) from the engrained anti-westernism that exists in some schools of Islam (as is the case in Iran). While still generally hostile to the west, Iraqis were much less likely to be reactionary than were Iranians. Iraqi's also possessed a large oppressed majority - perfect for instituting new governance.

    It is likely that an attack on Iran would look much more like an attack on Islam. It may very well have served as a rallying point (not that Iraq didn't do this, but it did so too a much lesser extent.)

    Saddam's regional popularity reflects this point. The Ayatollah's are, to some extent, viewed as spiritual leaders by some in the region. Saddam is merely a tyrant.

    I hope that Iran is freed at some point, whether it is though civil war or through some outside action, but as a starting point they were a more likely ignition point than Iraq.

    2. Focus Elsewhere and 3. Afgahnistan:

    Because we did focus elsewhere, in Afgahnistan. Listening to some people you would think this never happened.

    That's the main reason.

    Those who say we should focus on North Korea or Iran as more "imminent" threats I think miss the point completely. Those are different situation that require different strategies, as explained above about Iran. (As for NK, they appear to be a cornered animal, potentially with nuclear weapons).

    I'm not sure what more we can do in Afgahnistan, because it's very large, very diverse, with no infrastructure. It's a bad spot for peace keeping. There are rumblings that the Taliban is regrouping. That's bad, but eliminating them in total was probably impossible.

    The logical end of the criticism would be to place all of our troops there. To what end? They would likely need to remain in perpetuity, there would be little if any side benefit (the secondary benefits from Iraq have been quite tangible).

    Would we have captured Bin Laden with more troops? Maybe. Would it have been worth it? How many resources should be diverted for one man?

    We get more bang for the buck in Iraq.

    Afghanistan, as it is, serves our purposes.

    I agree a lot with Dan Drezner on foreign policy:

    but he's written so much on the war that it's hard to find one good link.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:08 PM  

  • You make some good points about Iran. On the other hand, Iran has had a student movement that has been rather vocal in its demands for democracy, and I can't help but think those young people would be more welcoming than the young people in Iraq have been.

    But I'm more interested in what you have to say about the "focus elsewhere" idea. No, we can't eliminate the Taliban completely, but with more troops we can do a better job of fighting the Taliban. And anyway, who says the "focus elsewhere" has to be related to deploying troops overseas? Why not keep the national guard at home, prepared to help the sates in the case of natural disasters? Why not use the hundreds of billions we're spending on Iraq on deficit reduction or a tax cut?

    By Blogger MDS, at 3:31 PM  

  • Iran does have a burgeoning student movement, but it is still relatively small. We still resonate poorly with the general populace there.

    I would not be averse to adding some troops to Afgahnistan, but I think we are probably close to the point of diminishing returns. And Afgahnistan is far from a failure. It is mixed, like the outcomes of many wars.

    As for part 2, I actually think that if we can be successful in democratizing Iraq (admittedly looking like a bigger and bigger if with every passing day) it will be a large boon to our security (as well as to the middle east). When an area contains a stable democracy the area tends to stabilize as well. Hopefully a successful Iraq will help out those kids in Iran.

    Is that worth more than natural disaster repair or a tax cut?

    I don't know.

    My sense is that the natural disasters that we have had have been handled just fine while we've been over there. I haven't read any big expose on the increased costs of disaster cleanup. THat doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but it certainly hasn't been a huge deal.

    As for simply saving, I'm actually of the opinion that military operations are one of the few legit uses of federal power, and would much rather see discretionary spending rolled back.

    I suppose if my hypothesis is correct that a successful operation will increase our security, than that is an efficient use of the military (including the guard), because that is the purpose of the military.

    I'm not a huge supporter of the war, but at this point I think the potential benefits are still there, and still worth it, but I would certainly never bust someone's chops over it if they're anti-war, and would agree with them on quite a bit.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 4:00 PM  

  • I think Highlander is the worst movie.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:04 PM  

  • Actually I would love to vote for an honest guy who meant what he said, for a change, even if I did disagree with him on some things.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:33 PM  

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