Friday, November 17, 2017

CD Review - 'LIE: The Love and Terror Cult' by Charles Manson (1970)

To commemorate the passing of Charles Manson, we take a look back at his one and only studio album.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

"You wouldn't know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eating Froot Loops on your front porch."

- Suicidal Tendencies, "You Can't Bring Me Down" (1990)

"So how do you communicate to a whole group of people? You stand up and take the worst fear symbol [swastika] and say 'There, now I've got your fear. Now I've got your fear.' And your fear is your power and your power is your control. I'm your king of this whole planet. I'm gonna rule this whole world."

- Charles Manson, Penny Daniels interview (1989)

By the time you're reading this, Charles Manson will either be dead, or almost dead, or in the final throes of death, or maybe still alive but way closer to being dead than he has at any other point in his life. So while this pseudo-epigraph might be a tad premature, we all know the guy's gonna' kick the bucket much sooner than later, so we might as well start printin' out the obituary notices and get a jump on things.

Ol' Chuck is one of them guys that - in an alternate reality - probably would've been a bigger act than Bob Dylan. Alas, he started taking The White Album a bit too literally, and I think we can all agree - getting your goons to butcher a pregnant woman to death during a "creepy crawl" really isn't the best way to get your name in the papers.

Before you fucks start thinkin' I'm going to give this guy post-mortem praise, the fact of the matter is that Charles Manson was a five-star lunatic, which makes his idolization by acts like System of a Down all the more befuddling. This was a guy who literally thought the Book of Revelation was a secret handbook for starting a race war, who is said to have forced his doped up followers to perform sex acts on their own infants. Lord knows how many horrible things he got away with, and needless to say - this cocksucker's demise shoulda' happened a looooong time ago.

Of course, it's a little weird combing through the Twitter-verse commentary on Manson's (near) death. I've seen this GIF comparing Manson's facial gestures to Donald Trump's hundreds of times by now, as the liberal hive-mind (the unthinking brain in a vat it is) keeps making the same joke over and over about assuming Chucky was trending because Trump gave him a cabinet position (an aside, but the fact these people can't interpret ANYTHING without dragging Trump into the equation seems to smack of a very Manson-like manic obsession, doesn't it?) My favorite comment by far, however, has to be the wise mullings of professional racial grievance peddler Tariq Nasheed, who tweeted why the media never brings up the fact Charles Manson is a "white supremacist." Long story, short Tariq: because he wasn't sentenced to life in prison for being "a white supremacist," he was sentenced to life in prison for ordering his stooges to slaughter six innocent people ... a fact which, as evident by its absence from Tariq's tweet, would seem to suggest the tweeter in question doesn't find sextuple murder anywhere near as immoral or ghastly as thinking black people are generally inferior to white people.

Oh, there's plenty of great Manson-related material on the Web. His interview with Geraldo Rivera is pretty much required viewing come Halloween time, and I'll be goddamned if there isn't a HUGE Wikipedia page outlining what Manson thought "Helter Skelter" was really about. Trust me - this shit right here is WELL worth the read

Alas, as we wait impatiently for Chuck to keel over, perhaps it would serve us well to revisit the music he left behind. Yep, Charlie did indeed record an album, which was released after the 1969 Sharon Tate and company murders. The collection of Charles M. originals was ultimately titled LIE: The Love and Terror Cult, a riff on the famous Life magazine cover which featured him in stark black and white looking like - well, what everybody thinks of when they think about Charles Manson.

Granted, it was a pretty rare little oddity back in the day, but thanks to the magic of Internet uploads, you can no listen to the whole album whenever the hell you want. But assuming you just don't have the 32 minutes in your schedule to listen to the album the whole way through (but, for some reason, you do have the 32 minutes to read this article), I've gone on ahead and given you a track-by-track review and summary of every song included on LIE. So, on this, the precipice of Manson's exit from the mortal coil, have you ever wondered what kinda' aural treats you've been missing out on over the years? Well - wonder no damn more, you morbidly curious motherfuckers, you ...

Now who's ready to boogie!

TRACK 01
"Look at Your Game Girl"

We start the CD off with probably Charles' most famous composition. The song is probably best known for being covered by Axl Rose for The Spaghetti Incident? as a hidden track, and I'm not gonna' lie - I think this is a downright beautiful fuckin' song. It's such a soft and sweet little ballad, that sounds like something you'd hear in the background of a Billy Jack movie. In fact, in high school, I even made a "mix tape" of me singing the song while playing the bongos - if I ever find it, I'll be sure to upload it for ya'll to hear and obsess over.

TRACK 02
"Ego"

"No, it's in the back, no it's in the front," Manson repeats over and over again while violins and a mad bongo beat blares in the background. He also drones on and on about Freud and the subconscious being the "computer" of the brain and naturally, none of this shit makes any sense, but then again, everybody was on acid back then so I guess it was never meant to make any sense in the first place. That said, it's still better than ANYTHING the Beatles ever recorded, and that's an objective fact.

TRACK 03
"Mechanical Man"

"I am a mechanical boy, and I am my mother's toy" - shit, if you thought the last track was opaque, just wait 'til you get a load of this shit. I'm pretty sure everybody on the song was high on crystal meth at the time of the recording. You've got this weird, out of rhythm drum beat going on the whole song, with everybody humming and moaning in unison. And just when you think the cacophony of sitar plucks and idle chatter can't get any weirder - then Chuck starts singing about his pet monkey getting hit by a train and the London Bridge. And in case you're wondering - yes, this is where the lyrics from Marilyn Manson's "My Monkey" come from.

TRACK 04
"People Say I'm No Good"

Another sentimental, downbeat acoustic song in which Charles tries valiantly to play the guitar but, by golly, he just can't figure out how those tricky frets work, it appears. Also, this song is probably exhibit A for what I like to call the "Charlie hum" style of singing, in which every stanza of the song ultimately concludes with the last syllable turning into five-second long hummingbird impersonation. "Those diamond rings, they're all the same," Manson laments - which, yeah, I guess is kinda' true, when you really think about it. "You've got more sicknesses than you've got cures for - cancer of the mind," he concludes the song, after going on a rant against "cough medicine" and "wonder drugs," which is pretty dang hypocritical considering this man's bloodstream is STILL about 65 percent LSD to this very day. But then again, if you're looking for sense out of Charles goddamn fuckin' Manson, you lost the game of life a long time ago.

TRACK 05
"Home is Where You're Happy"

"Home is where you can be what you are," Manson declares, "so burn all your bridges and leave your old life behind ... as long as you've got love in your heart, you'll never be alone." Man, what lovely words from a man who told his drugged-up followers to murder half a dozen people because they wouldn't give him a record contract. I mean, it almost brings a tear to your eye.

TRACK 06
"Arkansas"

This song starts off with Manson's acolytes talking about nondescript "struggles." This one actually has a pretty cool acoustic guitar twang to it - it almost sounds like a Dick Dale song at points, if Dick Dale was a fucking psychotic sex criminal. Anyhoo, the song is about living in abject squalor in, you guessed it - Texas. More "Charlie humming" ensues, so if that ain't your bag, go on ahead and hit SKIP right now.

TRACK 07
"I'll Never Say Never to Always"

We get a creepy as fuck all-female chorus opening the song, with babies crying in the background and there's this eerie echo that sounds like they recorded it out of a bucket 20 feet underground. It's only a couple of seconds long, but shit, is it unnerving.

TRACK 08
"Garbage Dump"

Holy shit, this sounds JUST like a G.G. Allin song - no wonder he wound up covering it. Anyhoo, this is a song that, well, is about a "garbage dump," which is a term that apparently confused Manson, since the chorus is "garbage dump, oh garbage dump, why are you called a garbage dump?" Umm - do you think it's because it's usually a place where people dump their garbage, guy?

TRACK 09
"Don't Do Anything Illegal"

Huh - an ironic title, eh? "Beware of the eagle, in the middle of your back, don't be illegal," Manson begins the track. "They've got you in a sack, and they keep you looking back." So I take it this is an early anti-police song? "Every time I go to the store, I've got to have an I.D. with me so they can see what they want to be," Manson wraps up the song, "I'm free." Man - this is the perfect song to steal cars to so you can convert them into dune buggies in anticipation of the upcoming racial holy war!

TRACK 10
"Slick City"

This is probably the best guitar work on the whole album, which is kinda' like having he highest test score in remedial math, but whatever. The weird thing is that Charles actually does have a semi-decent singing voice, when he's trying to be low key. Alas, he just has to hum-mumble his way through this track, thus turning what could've been a legitimately decent song into one that's just sorta' kinda' alright. You know what Manson really needed? A producer to keep him in line. Can you imagine what sort of A-plus material this dude could've cranked out with Phil Spector calling the shots behind the soundboard? Baby, there aren't enough Grammys in the world for stuff like that. 

TRACK 11
"Cease to Exist"

Yep, this is the infamous Manson song that the Beach Boys pretty much stole and released as "Never Learn Not To Love." It's funny how that one little act of recording industry malfeasance eventually resulted in Chuck becoming a psycho cult maniac. Had they given him his props, who knows? Maybe the asshole actually WOULD have had a real career making and writing music, and Sharon Tate would still be alive today and maybe Roman Polanksi never would've raped all those 14 year-olds and there's an alternate reality where the soundtrack to Ice Pirates was done ENTIRELY by Charles Manson himself. Shit - it really makes you think, don't it?

TRACK 12
"Big Iron Door"

If you like onomatopoeias, you'll love this one. This is Chuck "clang-banging" his way through a tune recounting his earlier forays in the clink. It's also barely a minute long and sounds like it cuts off halfway through. You know - not that it's necessarily a loss or anything like that ... 

TRACK 13
"I Once Knew A Man"

This one has a sorta' Western, classical guitar bent to it. I think there's also somebody blowing into a jug while Manson sings, and there might be a dude drumming on a milk crate somewhere in the background. Alas, something seems like its missing. Oh, I know what this track needed - a nice, long kazoo solo.

TRACK 14
"Eyes of a Dreamer"

"All the songs have been sung," Manson begins the album's concluding track. "And all the saints have been hung." So I guess it's kinda' of an anti-war song, or an anti-corporate song, or an anti-government song, or hell, maybe an anti-capitalism song. "A thing is just a thing, that's a thing," he continues, "it's all in the eyes of the dreamer ... and you are the man." Well ... the fuck if I have any idea what this goof's talking about here.

Your life was like a candle in the wind - a candle that forced drugged up 14-year-olds to have sex with animals.

Well, what more can I say about that? For years, LIE has been one of the most coveted "true crime" albums out there, probably second only to Jim Jones horrifying recording of the night he gave 900 people poisoned Flavor Aid. As far as kooky, way off the beaten path albums go, you'd have a hard time finding anything that manages to out do this in the "dude, that is some fucked up shit" department.

Objectively, you can't really call Manson's music, well, good. This is pretty much the definition of a one-track album - "Look At Your Game Girl" is legitimately, unironically outstanding, but everything else on the album is just sorta' meh, with the last four or five songs pretty much melding into an indistinguishable pile of blandness. You can see that Manson had at least a modicum of musical talent, but the fact of the matter is that even here he was too zonked out of his mind on drugs to be coherent. Had he not started drinking peyote 14 times a day, maybe - just maybe - he COULD'VE gone on to become a real recording star. But, as they sometimes say, that just wasn't how the cookie crumbled; amazing how thin a line there is between somebody becoming Neil Young and becoming a psycho cult leader and unborn child skewerer, huh?

Yeah, it's probably in bad taste to pay money for the CD, even if the royalties never went to Manson or his adherents. Moreover, the music itself really isn't worth paying for, so I'd suggest snagging "Look At Your Game Girl" off the Internets and leaving the rest of the album for others to drudge through (your sins, I paid for, you ungrateful pricks.)

So all that to say? Yes, Charles Manson indeed COULD kinda sorta sing and play the guitar, he made at least one truly great song and now - he's dead as shit. Or getting close to being dead as shit, or at the very least taking considerable strides to being dead as shit. 

Which, regardless, I think we can all agree is long overdue.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 NFL Power Rankings (Week Ten!)

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat shit - these are the only pro football rankings anybody needs.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

This Week's Episode:
"You're either in or you're out ... or you're Buffalo."

THE ELITES

#01
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
Season Point Differential: +104

The Philadelphia Eagles, by virtue of a bye, held on to the League's best overall record last weekend. They return this Sunday for a prime-time contest against the Cowboys in Jerry World, in which Ezekiel Elliot (probably) won't be legally eligible to play. In case you were wondering, Philadelphia is currently the NFL's fourth most productive offense, averaging 377 yards a game; and allowing 315.9 yards a game, they qualify as a top ten defense, as well. 

#02
Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
Season Point Differential: +134

The Rams shellacked the Watson-and-Watts-less Texans over the weekend, 33-7. Jared Goff's impressive sophomore season continued, as he went 25 for 37 for 355 yards and three touchdown passes (two of which landed in the arms of receiver Robert Woods, who finished the game with 171 yards on only eight catches.) Alas, the Rams' run game wasn't as dominant as it has been this season - the backfield wrapped up the game with just 104 yards on the ground, with zero end zone visitations.

#03
New Orleans Saints (7-2)
Season Point Differential: +103

I don't know how in the fuck they did it, but the Saints are quickly becoming one of the League's most dominant defenses. In New Orleans' 47-10 mangling of Buffalo, Drew Brees pretty much took the day off and let the backfield run over the Bills' D like Argentinian tourists in New York, with the team's running back corps combining for 298 yards and SIX rushing touchdowns (complete with Mark Ingram chalking up three end zone visits and 131 yards on the day.) But what's even more impressive than that is how little offense N.O. allowed the Bills; at the final horn, Buffalo could only muster 129 yards in the air and a scant 69 on the ground.

#04
New England Patriots (7-2)
Season Point Differential: +62

Even with the League's worst defense, statistically, the Pats continue to roll thanks to their best-in-the-NFL offense. In Monday night's 41-16 stompin' of Denver, Tom Brady went 25 for 34 for 266 yards and three touchdown passes - which went to, of all the players on New England's stacked receivers corps, Rex Burkhead, James White and THE Dwayne Allen. Still, back Dion Lewis probably had the most impressive showing of the contest; not only did he collect one rushing TD and finish the game with 55 yards on 14 carries, he also returned a Denver kick 103 yards for a special teams touchdown

#05
Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
Season Point Differential: +52

It was a (sorta) close one, but the Vikes still managed to outclass the Redskins 38-30 over the weekend. Case Keenum - who, believe it or not, is likely to get benched in favor of Teddy Bridgewater for Minnesota's next game - went 21 for 29 for 304 yards, four touchdown passes and two interceptions, with Adam Thielen finishing the contest with 166 yards and one TD haul on eight catches. Leading all rushers in the game was ex-Raiders Latavius Murray, who concluded the contest with 68 yards and one rushing TD on 17 carries.

#06
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)
Season Point Differential: +39

A 33-yard field goal from Chris Boswell as time expired gave the Steelers a 20-17 win over the Colts, in a game that was way closer than it probably had any right to be. Big Ben went 19 for 31 for 236 yards and a 2-to-1 TD-to-INT split, with JuJu Smith-Schuster collecting one TD pass and 97 yard on five catches. And despite not hitting end zone, Le'Veon Bell still had a pretty good day, finishing the contest with 80 yards on 26 carries.

#07
Carolina Panthers (7-3)
Season Point Differential: +33

At this point, Cam Newton is on track to have an even better statistical year than he did in his 2015 MVP season. In the Panthers' 45-21 win over Miami, Cam went 21 for 35 for 254 yards and FOUR touchdown passes ... and if that wasn't enough, he also rushed for 95 yards on five carries (including a 69-yard scamper that has to be seen to be believed.) By the way, the Panthers' net yardage of 548 last Monday night is the largest sum in franchise history - a history that goes all the way back to the year of our Lord 1995.

#08
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)
Season Point Differential: +92

It may have taken same overtime play to do it, but the Jags nonetheless managed to rally against the Chargers and take home a hard-earned 20-17 W over the weekend. Blake Bortles went 28 for 51 for 273 yards and an one-to-two TD-to-INT ratio, with top back Corey Grant wrapping up the game with 56 yards and one TD on his only carry of the game. Still, questions linger about the Jags' pass defense - letting a way past his prime Phillip Rivers lob the rock for 235 yards and two touchdown passes ain't exactly a recipe for long-term success heading down the stretch.

Kids, just so you know - this isn't really how you're supposed to play football.

THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS

#09
Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
Season Point Differential: +46

The good news for Seattle is that Russell Wilson looked great in the team's 22-16 win over Arizona last Thursday night. He concluded the game 22 for 32 for 238 yards and two touchdown passes, with Doug Baldwin hauling in five receptions for 95 yards. But the bad news, I'm afraid, is very bad: after sustaining a ruptured Achille's tendon early in the contest, Seattle defensive stud Richard Sherman will be out for the remainder of the season.

#10
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Season Point Differential: +45

The Chiefs had a bye last week and return this Sunday for a 1 P.M. local time kickoff against the Giants. Averaging 371.8 yards a contest, Kansas City currently possesses the fifth best offense in pro football heading into Week 11; alas, allowing 390.3 yard per game, their defense ranks 28th out of 32.

#11
Tennessee Titans (6-3)
Season Point Differential: -8

The Titans find themselves sittin' pretty atop the AFC South standings after their 24-20 victory against Cincinnati. Marcus Mariota went 25 for 44 in the affair, finishing the game with 264 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT split. But this team HAS to do something about that offensive line - with their franchise player eating four sacks for negative 28 yards against the Bengals, it's only a matter of time before their star QB winds up getting severely banged up again.

#12
Detroit Lions (5-4)
Season Point Differential: +34

With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Browns led the Lions 24-17. So - of course - Matt Stafford would then throw three unanswered touchdown passes to give Detroit the come-from-behind 38-24 win. Still, the Lions have little reason to celebrate the victory - I mean, these assholes DID let the still-winless Browns outpace them on the ground by more than 100 yards, didn't they?
#13
Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
Season Point Differential: +28

Hoo boy, did Dallas play like utter and complete shit against the Falcons last Sunday. Sans Eazy E in the backfield, the Cowboys could only muster 107 yards on the ground, with roughly half of the yardage collected by Dak Prescott - who finished the game 20 for 30 for 176 yards and no touchdown passes. And hey, what was all of that preseason noise about Dallas having one of the best offensive lines in NFL history? Well, considering Prescott got sacked EIGHT TIMES by the Falcons, something tells me that little accolade needs to be suspended pronto.

#14
Atlanta Falcons (5-4)
Season Point Differential: +18

If you didn't catch Atlanta's 27-7 butt-fuckin' of the Cowboys, you missed one of the single greatest defensive performances in NFL history. Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn didn't just make Dak Prescott his bitch, he made him his common law wife and maybe even got him pregnant, sacking Dallas' QB a whopping SIX TIMES and hitting him after the pass another EIGHT. Rumors abound they're still picking pieces of Dak's eviscerated asshole out of the artificial turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with some reports suggesting bits of his fragmented sphincter managed to fly as far north as the new Atlanta Braves stadium.

#15
Green Bay Packers (5-4)
Season Point Differential: -3

Hey ya'll, Brett Hundley just won a pro football game! In the Packers' 23-16 victory against Chicago, B.H. went 18 for 25 for 212 yards and one TD pass, with top receiver Davante Adams chalking up 90 yards and one end zone visit on five hauls. And, surprisingly, Green Bay's rushing attack positively trampled Chicago, as the Packers outpaced the Bears on the ground by a 160 yard to 55 yard differential.

#16
Buffalo Bills (5-4)
Season Point Differential: -12

With T-Mobile going 9 for 18 for a puny 56 yards and one INT in last Sunday's 47-10 loss to the Saints, the Bills' management has officially decided to start Nathan Peterman for this Sunday's shindig against the Chargers. By the way, Peterman's first NFL game was last Sunday, and he only managed to rack up 79 yards and one TD pass. So for those of you who have impatiently waited for the Bills' annual midseason collapse ... I reckon you won't have to wait much longer.

I don't know what's sweeter - that the refs let him get away with a blatant facemask, or the fact he got away with a blatant karate chop to the ballsack.

THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK

#17
Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
Season Point Differential: +19

The Ravens had a bye last week and will return to the gridiron this Sunday for a road game against the Packers. Heading into week 11, Baltimore - averaging 286.6 yards a game - has the League's 30th ranked (read: third worst) offense. However, they're faring much better on the other side of the ball. Allowing 310.6 yards per game, their defense is ranked sixth overall in the NFL.

#18
Oakland Raiders (4-5)
Season Point Differential: -18

After a breather last week, the Raiders will attempt to hit .500 this Sunday in a home game against the Patriots ... a home game, by the way, that's taking place in Mexico fuckin' City. When it comes to overall offense, the Raiders rank 24th, with an average of 324.6 yards a contest. Allowing 361.1 yards a game, their defense doesn't hold up any better, ranking 25th overall ... and the team has YET to record a single interception over the course of the season's first nine games.

#19
Washington Redskins (4-5)
Season Point Differential: -25

Kirk Cousins put in a good showing, but it wasn't enough to lead the Redskins over Minnesota, whom lost Sunday's tilt against the Vikings 38-30. Cousins finished the game 26 for 45 for 327 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT split - plus two rushing touchdowns, accounting for the entirety of his team's ground-based points production. Alas, the injury bug bite Washington yet again, and top running back Rob Kelley has been placed on the team's I.R. for this Sunday's clash with the Saints.

#20
Arizona Cardinals (4-5)
Season Point Differential: -68

Drew Stanton had a lot of yards in Thursday's 22-16 loss to the Seahawks, but he didn't put a whole lot of points on the board, neither. He went 24 for 47 in the contest, ultimately wrapping up the game with 273 yards and one TD pass - a floater to Jermaine Gresham, whose 64 yards on the day made him second on the squad for most receiving yards in the contest next to Larry Fitzgerald, who had 113 yards on 10 hauls. Again, however, Arizona's rushing attack looked horrid; combined, the backfield could only produce 34 yards all game long, with Adrian Peterson putting up a woefully disappointing 29 yards on 21 carries.

#21
Miami Dolphins (4-5)
Season Point Differential: -87

Considering how wide-open the AFC is at this point in the season, you really can't say the Dolphins are dead in the water yet. Still, their 45-21 loss to the Panthers last Monday night is a real backbreaker, calling into question Jay Cutler's long term viability as the team's QB and the team's painfully blunted rushing attack. Still, Miami can hit .500 with a win over Tampa Bay this weekend - not that such is a guarantee in today's NFL, of course.

#22
New York Jets (4-6)
Season Point Differential: -21

Josh McCown's 262 yard day wasn't enough to lift the Jets over Tampa Bay, as New York fell to the struggling Bucs 15-10 last Sunday. Tampa Bay's backfield managed to outrush the Jets 90 yards to 56, while McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game with one TD and one INT a piece. The difference maker in this one? The Bucs' special teams, which saw kicker Patrick Murray boot three field goals for nine on the scoreboard.

#23
Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -5

Well, they didn't earn the nickname "The Chokers" for nothin', kids. Heading into the third quarter L.A. was up 14-6 against the Jags ... and in true Chargers fashion, a series of horrific offensive miscues allowed the Jaguars to knot it up 17-17 with just three seconds left in regulation. And right on cue, Philip Rivers was there to lob a costly interception in overtime, allowing their opponents to easily march down field and notch a gimme field goal to win the whole she-bang 20-17.

#24
Houston Texans (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -5

Tom Savage had a day to forget in the Texans' 33-7 mugging at the hands of the Rams. He went 18 for 36 for 221 yards, one TD and two interceptions, in addition to getting sacked thrice for negative 27 yards. Oh, and he fumbled the ball away ... twice. Oh well, at least receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a pretty decent showing; he concluded the losing effort with 111 yards (but no touchdowns) on seven catches.

"Fifteen yard penalty ... for unnecessary blackness."

ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT

#25
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -33

If you're looking for clues as to why Cincy dropped Sunday's close 'un against the Titans 24-20, turn your eyes towards the run game. At the final horn the Bengals produced 53 yards on the ground, with Joe Mixon garnering one TD off 37 rushing yards. Now, contrast that with the rushing production for Tennessee: two touchdowns off 180 rushing yards. Hell, Marcus Mariota almost had as many rushing yards as the entire Bengals' backfield - with a run defense that shitty, this team's destined to get drubbed like a motherfucker by Baltimore and Pittsburgh for the remainder of all time.

#26
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -35

Time well tell if Ryan Fitzpatrick is really the answer Tampa Bay's looking for, but all things told he didn't look too bad in the Bucs' 15-10 win over the Jets. The former Jet/Titan/Texan/Bill/Bengal/Ram went 17 for 34 for 187 yards and a dead even one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio. And DeSean Jackson did posted some pretty decent stats, too - 82 yards on six receptions.

#27
Chicago Bears (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -44

I guess the good news about the Bears' 23-16 loss to Green Bay is that Mitch "The Bitch" Trubisky got plenty of aerial yardage. In the defeat, Mitch went 21 for 35 for 297 yards and one TD pass. Of course, he also got sacked five times for 29 lost yards and hit after the pass another seven, but hey ... baby steps, remember?

#28
Denver Broncos (3-6)
Season Point Differential: -73

Last Monday the Broncos got rekt at home by the Patriots, who positively throttled 'em 41-16. Oddly enough, Denver's offensive stats weren't that different from New England - Brock Osweiler finished the game with about 60-or-so fewer passing yards than Tom Brady and the Denver backfield actually outpaced the Pats on the ground, 118-99. But yeah, about that defense giving up damn near 300 yards in the air - and the less said about the piss poor special teams play, the better.

#29
Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
Season Point Differential: -101

The Colts kept it surprisingly close against the Steelers, ultimately succumbing to Pittsburgh via a 20-17 final score. Jacoby "Whisker Biscuit" Brissett went 14 for 24 in the contest, concluding the game with 222 yards and a two-to-one TD-to-INT ratio. And oddly enough, it was Colts receiver Chester Rogers (and not anybody on Pittsburgh's star-studded wide receivers roster) who ended the game with the most reception yards - 104 yards and one TD pass on six receptions, to be exact.

#30
New York Giants (1-8)
Season Point Differential: -88

As shitty as your life may be, you're predicament probably isn't as shitty as the one the New York Giants are in. Following a 31-21 loss to the formerly win-less 49ers, the G-Men find themselves mathematically incapable of posting a winning season, and rumors are flying that Eli Manning might get sent his walking papers before this season is even over. And at this point, you have to figure Ben McAdoo's chances of remaining head coach next year are about 50-50; it's downright amazing to recall the same guy calling the shots for this dumpster fire was the very same man who led the Giants to an 11-5 season just one year ago.

#31
San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
Season Point Differential: -86

The Niners FINALLY tasted victory this season as the knocked off the Giants 31-21 at home over the weekend. C.J. Beathard went 19 for 25 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while Carlos Hyde carried the rock for 98 yards on 17 carries. And if you're looking for a feel-good pro football story, look no further than San Fran wideout Marquise Goodwin, who collected a TD and 83 yards on one reception just hours after his child was stillborn. I mean, the touchdown didn't bring his dead kid back to life or anything, but I guess having a dead kid and an 83-yard touchdown catch is still preferable to having a dead kid and no fantasy football points, ain't it?

#32
Cleveland Browns (0-9)
Season Point Differential: -97

The Browns came close to upsetting the Lions over the weekend, but the Browns still being the Browns, they quickly managed to squander a late 24-17 lead and allow Matt Stafford to quickly shove three touchdowns down their esophagi en route to a two-touchdown loss. Still, there were some glimmers of hope in the defeat; for one, Cleveland's rushing attack did look surprisingly potent, outpacing the Lions 201 yards to 104 yards on the ground. And the defense did manage to sack Stafford four times - could such be the beginning of the Brown's reinvention as an early-2000s-style Baltimore Ravens smashmouth team? All I can say is stay tuned, folks (and remember, I called it first.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Eight Recent-Ish Kids Movies With Shockingly Adult Subtext

Believe it or not, there's a war being waged for your children's hearts and minds ... and the battlefield is at the local multiplex.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

In his 1994 book Media Virus, author Douglas Rushkoff dedicated an entire chapter to the politicization of children’s entertainment. Kids’ television shows, he said, were the perfect place to insert hardened liberal propaganda, since a.) adults never watched them, and even if they did they wouldn’t suspect the programs of pushing an agenda and b.) children, by nature, are highly impressionable and especially vulnerable to candy-coated cultural indoctrination. Rushkoff matter-of-factly describes how popular children’s programming like Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Ren & Stimpy actively attuned children to accepting nihilistic consumerism and hedonistic homosexuality as legitimate lifestyles. "By freeing its viewers to enjoy all the grotesqueness they can tolerate, [it] is a statement against this sort of repression," the author states in one of the more telling passages in the book. "It is an invitation to reawaken the child's world-view and, more than that, to overthrow societal restrictions and possibly arbitrary barriers to self-expression."

What child of the 1990s can forget the constant bombardment of eco-friendly propaganda gussied up as pastel-colored ‘toons like Ferngully and Captain Planet, nor the diversity-uber-alles message of Power Rangers and X-Men? The same way children’s entertainment was manipulated as vessels of cultural engineering back then, today’s kids-targeted cinema likewise seeks to massage the unmolded minds of our gilded youth. But what’s interesting is how the greater culture war of contemporary society is manifest in today’s youth-centric entertainment. On one hand children are being bombarded by the usual entertainment “blue pills,” with singing and dancing CGI critters warming them up to the idea of urban supremacy, socialism and “gender fluidity,” but there also appears to be an ideological counter-push of “red pilled” children’s flicks cropping up as of late - youth-oriented films that thematically criticize multiculturalism, feminism and cultural Marxism.

Think I'm joshing you? Not after you take a look at the following eight kids-targeted flicks from the last few years, which send contradictory lesson to our children on the pros (and cons) of such mature themes as diversity, socioeconomics, gender identity and the rift between individualism and collectivism in modern society ...

Multiculturalism

The Blue Pill
Zootopia (2016)

Disney’s surprise 2016 hit has one of the bluntest “urban supremacist” messages in the annals of movie history. Every rural denizen in the film is depicted as backwards, prejudiced and irrationally hostile, while the grimy, dirty cityscape is depicted as a festive panoply of vibrant, good-natured characters (among them, an overweight cheetah with brazen homosexaul mannerisms.) A celebration of intrusive government (our heroine, naturally, is a traffic cop whom the audience is supposed to adore for writing parking tickets and generating beaucoup bucks for the city bureaucracy), Zootopia implores kids to refrain from making even the most general observations about differences in people’s behaviors, asking them to chalk up all violent and antisocial acts as an after-effect of bad childhoods and even worse reactions to psychotropic medications (yes, that actually is a prominent plot point.) The blunt-as-a-sledgehammer racial harmony message might have good intentions, but the unrealistically cheery depiction of multicultural society (and one so deeply entrenched in government control, at that) just shamelessly smacks of the post-Obama liberal orthodoxy.

The Red Pill
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)


The iPhone app-spawned CGI flick is the exact, 180-degree opposite of Zootopia. Whereas Disney’s movie encouraged kids to blindly welcome diversity as a social necessity, the heroes of The Angry Birds Movie quite literally wage war against enforced multiculturalism, in the process creating a movie with so many parallels to the ongoing European migrant crisis that it seems almost impossible to write the movie’s plot off as a coincidence. While nominally based on the omnipresent smartphone game, the film revolves around a take-no-bullshit everyman (err, everybird, I guess) whose reluctance to accept his environs' mandatory diversity Tao has him written off as, you guessed it, an angry bird who must be taught how to be more tolerant (i.e., less critical) of his surroundings ... and who he's surrounded by. This all comes to a head when a fairly swarthy gaggle of bearded pigs show up out of the blue one day and mesmerize the easily beguiled townfolk with their delightfully atypical ways. Only our hero recognizes their "Trojan horse" strategy, as the hoggish invaders seek to inundate Bird-Land with their "kind" in an attempt to rob the natives of their most precious commodity - their eggs (i.e., their children's future?) Call it a video game spinoff if you wish - deep down, we all know this is about as close to a film adaptation of The Camp of the Saints we'll ever witness.

Capitalism

The Blue Pill
Sing (2016)

Essentially the musical version of Zootopia, this 2016 animated film paints the modern job market - and with it, the prospects of financial independence - as a wholly unattainable pipe dream. Under the guise of an American Idol like competition, a gaggle of miscellaneous furries - all of them down on their luck and facing at least one form of economic insolvency or  severe personal inadequacy - all try to get rich quick via, what else, the instant, monetized affirmation of their peers. Rather than teach kids to work hard, diligently and honestly, Sing promises them fame, fortune and popularity through the glitz and glamor of show business - which, as evident by the hundreds of thousands of underemployed baristas in the country, isn’t exactly the best occupational game plan to espouse to the children of the Great Recession. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the film’s “follow your dreams” message, it’s guarantee that doing so will make you wealthy without ever having to break a sweat is a recipe for broken hearts - and lifelong resentment of the economic system that promised them everything but gave them nothing but credit card debt.

The Red Pill
Monsters University (2013)

Pixar’s 2013 sequel is - in many respects - the most realistic depiction of college life in movie history. Although the characters may have eight eyes and three heads, the movie absolutely nails the intricacies and quirks of U.S. higher education, from the overzealous “adult learners” to the hippy-dippy art school students with no intents to ever graduate. But perhaps the most resounding aspect of Monsters University is the message it delays until the very end of the movie - that, for all intents and purposes, college isn’t necessary to live a happy life and be economically successful. Rather, the film concludes with two recent dropouts beginning life as entry-level employees, who - through hard work, grit and determination - slowly but surely find themselves climbing up the corporate ladder. Rather than posit economic success as a birth rite, Monsters University is one of the few children’s films this decade to equate fiscal well-being with work ethic - a message downright heretical to the ideological orphans of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Masculine Roles

The Blue Pill
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Imagine a scene in a children’s film in which a man repeatedly punches a female, to the point her face grotesquely swells and her shattered teeth fly across the scenery. While such is literally unthinkable in today’s cultural climate, the inverse is apparently A-OK with the suits at Disney, as Wreck-It Ralph features multiple instances of women characters mercilessly pummeling pitiful caricatures of men strictly for laughs. Not that the film’s primary plot - in which a hulking, clueless video game character becomes the protector of a snotty, unappreciative daughter-figure voiced by Sarah Silverman - isn’t without its own misandrist elements. This is yet another children's targeted film that depicts its female characters as strong, independent and intelligent while all of the male characters are depicted as brutish, ignorant and inconsiderate - in the process, painting a vivid double standard for young viewers as to which character traits are positive and which ones are negative depending solely on the gender of said character.

The Red Pill
Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Pop cultural promotion of the traditional family construct are getting rarer and rarer in Hollywood, which is why this 2013 kids flick seems to strike such a strangely countercultural tone. In Despicable Me 2, the adopted daughters of our anti-hero Gru goad him into finding them a mother, stating they are very much unfulfilled living life in a single-parent home. The Anglo-centric heteronormativity of the flick is off the charts, with a subplot revolving around a somewhat effete villain seeking to turn Gru's delightful banana-shaped Minions into a horde of slobbering, uncontrollable purple freaks, with yet another subplot positing a preteen Mexican Lothario as a shallow, conceited and unsympathetic asshole. And if that's not enough, there's even a lengthy physical comedy sequence in which Gru's date is accidentally drugged and her unconscious husk of a body is whipped to and fro on the ride home - aye, I couldn't imagine such passing muster in this, the post-SJW age of Hollywood.

Societal Integration

The Blue Pill
The Lego Movie (2014)

Some have likened the 2014 film to, of all things, John Carpenter’s rabidly anti-Reaganomics yarn They Live. Alas, while that movie was about rejecting the cattle call of mass consumerism, this film celebrates economic and cultural conformity like a Super Bowl victory parade. "Everything is awesome," the homogenized, yellow in-group sing while going through their mindless, inconsequential daily doings, spending $30 for cups of coffee and watching television programs that revolve entirely around people splitting their pants. It's not until a suspiciously Mitt Romney-looking villain dubbed "Lord Business" shows up that their trifling, meandering ways of life are challenged, which in turn, teaches children but one thing: never forget, little one, but your spiritually vacant life of mass consumerism and pop cultural absorption is indeed worth dying for.

The Red Pill
The Spongebob Movie - Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Who’d thunk the exploits of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Starfish would be among the most caustic cinematic criticisms of U.S. society this decade? Whereas The Lego Movie gave children a homogenized wonderland where excess consumerism gave everyone a de facto causa sui, the plot of Sponge Out of Water presents the very antithetical portrait of society in decline. In the film, Bikini Bottom is a fairly diverse environs where fish and crustaceans and porifera and the aberrant astronaut squirrel live in relative harmony. That is, until the sinister Plankton steals the formula for Krabby Patties - the denizens of Bikini Bottom's foremost foodstuff - and misplaces it, ultimately producing a city-wide Krabby Patties shortage that quickly thrusts the locale into tribalistic mayhem. Some might consider it a stretch, but it's probably not a coincidence that this film was released in the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri madness. As both that lamentable affair and Sponge Out of Water demonstrate, when a heterogeneous culture loses that one unifying social bond - be it a shared religion, language, respect for the law or yes, even a mutual fondness for Krabby Patties - it's pretty much a given that mass devastation will ensue.

"A coincidence?" Yeah ... whatever you say, normie.

Of course, this is all mere conjecture on my part. Maybe I'm just being overly autistic and seeing patterns where no such patterns truly exist, and that the makers of these children's films honestly, genuinely had no sociopolitical agenda in mind when they were making their films. But considering the long history of movie studios injecting their kids' flicks with obvious cultural messages - not to mention Hollywood's long string of G and PG-rated offerings porting about unmistakable progressive "values" - it really wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if these movies were indeed meant to politicize viewers young enough to be in Pampers.

The interesting thing, though, is that for every obvious blue pilled movie the mainstream entertainment/media industrial complex spits out, there's usually at least one more that seeks to refute it. I couldn't imagine Pixar or Warner Bros. releasing a movie that paints European natives as victims and Muslim refugees as conniving invaders, but holy shit, we have precisely that in a movie allegedly based on a smartphone game. In a weird way, seemingly the only pro-conservative movies getting pumped out by Hollywood these days are kids movies with subversive Republican-subtext about supply-side economics, the power of individualism and, yes, the moral goods of patriotism - all of which the major studio elites are glibly unaware of, no doubt too concerned about turning every character in Spider-Man black to realize their animation departments are hitting the wee ones with junior F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand with both fists.

Regardless, it's an interesting time to be a media analyst such as myself. With Hollywood more or less embracing SJW-dom as its one true god, the odds of seeing even moderately conservative/traditionalist fare like Hacksaw Ridge or Kingsman are sure to decrease, and since animated features and kids-targeted films are usually thought of as afterthoughts, who knows? Maybe the next great chain of New Republican Cinema will come disguised as lower-budget CGI flicks and feel-good children's Aesops. Which means hold onto your britches, James Woods - you might just have yourself plenty of voice work to look forward to over the next couple of years.