Friday, December 21, 2007

Fuck Hugh

Someone has angered Don Paco.

As you may recall, I supplement my vast financial holdings with occasional translation work. It keeps the mind limber and the spirit of industry alive. Lately, I have been using a website where people post translation projects, people bid on them, and translations are then exchanged for money.

A guy named Hugh seems to have conveniently forgotten the last part of that equation. I translated a portion of an interview for him. It didn’t take long because the language was conversational, and I finished the project in just under two hours. Applying the rate we had agreed upon, the total came to $278.

Hugh has been ducking me ever since. He has not paid, and will not return my emails, nor those that I am having Paypal send him. At some point, after various attempts at contacting him, I realized that this guy was simply going to screw me out of this money. It made me realize that when dealing with an individual through this website, greater precautions—payment demanded at least partially up-front, translations sent encoded with passwords to be disclosed only upon payment—will need to be employed. I realize that this Hugh may not even really be called Hugh, and I have no other vitals for him.

But I have his email address, time, and vast reserves of pettiness and vengefulness.

On Wednesday, Hugh signed up to receive daily newsletters from several e-marketing firms. He also expressed interest in getting weekly, daily, and monthly emails from Borders.com on just about every genre of literature that they sell, as well as updates on the latest from the kid who wrote Eragon, and anything Harry Potter related.

Yesterday, Hugh developed a curiosity about important social issues, and signed himself up to receive emails from MoveOn.org, specifying that he would like to plan Meet-ups in his area, and take action by calling his Congressional representatives about important issues. Hugh also signed up to receive emails from Bono’s One Campaign, Amnesty International, and UNICEF. He also signed up to get the 15 emails a day that you get from even having heard about the Puerto Rico chapter of the Sierra Club.

And today, Hugh made a ton of friends. Friends named Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Joe Biden, John Edwards, and Mitt Romney, the types of friends who pepper you with updates about what they’re up to, what they care about, and what YOU can do to help THEM help YOU to help AMERICA. These are also the types of people that are not shy to email you asking for money. Hugh will also soon be getting up close and personal with Ron Paul, Alan Keyes (apparently he is running?), Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Mike Gravel, Mike Huckabee, the Republican National Committee, and several groups that are very, very concerned about the relative lack of security of America’s southern borders. Hugh, wherever possible, elected to get updates from these people on every issue from gun control, activist judges, tax and tort reform, abortion, and the gold standard. And, perhaps confused by all the partisan rancor he saw at all of these people’s websites, he seems to have made a stop at a little website named www.spamyourenemy.com.

Now, is it possible that even the email he gave me was fake, and set to be abandoned soon thereafter? Sure. Probably, even. But you know what? Fuck Hugh, and fuck his fake email address.

Now I am off to buy a lotto ticket, because with nine million dollars, Hugh could get dealt with in the way he so richly deserves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Internet Just Had An Orgasm


There were many ideas for what to post today, ladies and gentlemen. Those things may still get posted, because many of them are important. Big things are happening, and Don Paco thinks that you would want to know about them. The Bush administration is trying to set up a Puerto Rican to take the fall for destroying those tapes of other people torturing the shit out of terrorists. Astronomers have come up with some amazing composite pictures of one galaxy beating the hell out of another one. Roger Clemens expects us to believe that he is not a steroid user, convincingly waiting almost a week to issue a vehement denial through his lawyer. Because that is the way that you deny things that are patently untrue and are circulated about you by the entire spectrum of media for days and days: by waiting a week to issue a denial through your lawyer. These things may get written about soon, news of vastly greater import require our attention at this moment in our troubled times.

None of these things ultimately matter because New Line has stopped trying to screw Peter Jackson out of a well-deserved $40 million and now things are moving forward with the production of a movie version of The Hobbit.

(Please wait three minutes while the Internet smokes a post-coital cigarette. Like in the movies.)

Now, this news is not as great as it could have been for a few reasons. First, keep in mind that it seems like Jackson will not be directing the movie.

(The Internet has just jumped out of bed at the news of this unexpected revelation. The Internet is gathering up its belongings and looks to be planning to make as quick an exit as possible.)

Indeed, because New Line has spent the last few years trying to screw Jackson out of a ton of money connected with the profits of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (at the mention of The Lord of the Rings, the Internet hesitates and reconsiders what it is doing), Jackson (a man the people of New Zealand need to be reprimanded for not already having declared President-for-life of their austral island nation. Seriously what are you people waiting for.) is now apparently committed to making movie versions of The Lovely Bones (about a dead, raped ghost; sounds like a blast) and Tintin (about a cartoon dog. What? Seriously? When people talk about this they always mention that Steven Spielberg is involved. Uh, who cares? Does this dog even talk. Peter Jackson can't possibly need the money this badly.). Because of these commitments, Jackson will neither direct nor write the new movie (his wife and their other writing partner will also not be working on the screenplay). However, they apparently have final approval over all elements of the film.

(The Internet is still on its way out the door, and wondering where the closest free clinic is, and when they open.)

But there is a consolation prize that makes up for absence of The Jackson: this Hobbit project will be not one, but TWO movies.

(The Internet has dropped all of its belongings back onto the floor and has not so much climbed as leaped back into the bed.)

The first film will apparently be an adaptation of The Hobbit, while the second film will tackle the 60-year period between the end of the events in that book and the stuff in The Lord of the Rings. Immediate concerns come to mind. Do we want Peter Jackson-sanctioned flunkies just outright making up stuff left and right about this time period? Hell no! But as anybody who has ever read the Appendices (and who among us hasn't?) at the end of The Return of the King knows, there's a ton of material ready for use in there.

(By the way, it's about to get real geeky up in here, let me warn you.)

You have a young Aragorn (remember, he is in his 80's at the time of The Lord of the Rings--you have to keep in mind that he is the scion of the longer-lived Men of Nümenor) kicking ass and taking names as a Ranger of Eriador, or, as Thorongil, earning the envy of a young Denethor by catching the eye of Ecthelion II, leading in a sense to Denethor's own later tragically skewed view of his own sons Boromir and Faramir; you have Gandalf riding all hither and yonder as he tries to keep the Necromancer (and you know who that is) in check and figure out what's going on with that ring that Bilbo "found" somewhere in the roots of the Misty Mountains (keep in mind that some of this material will probably be incorporated into the first film, as The Hobbit is full of spots where Gandalf just up and abandons Thorin's company and goes off on his own independent frolics, which could include things like the meeting of the White Council--who's going to play Radagast the Brown?--the assault by said body on Dol Goldur, the corruption of Saruman, etc); the reawakening of the Nazgûl, assault on Minas Ithil and the emptying of Ithilien; and Gandalf and Aragorn's hunt for Gollum. (And if they're going to make anything up out of whole cloth, I demand to know why the hell Aragorn was ever in Rhûn, and what the fuck happened to the two Blue Wizards, the latter having bugged me since I was 12.)

(And if you think I even had to glance at any source materials to come up with any of that stuff, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. The only thing I had to look up was how to do umlauts and how the hell to get that thing over the u in Rhûn, which I don't even know the name of, and just wound up copy-pasting.)

(The Internet is now sleeping very deeply, and will wake up many hours later, very hungry, a little sore, but very happy.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Apparently, I Have Aged Tremendously Overnight

(Dear Readers: Sorry for not posting anything all of last week. It was not a very funny week, and also I scored some new translations from the people that sent me the Argentine tax document translations, for which I initially thanked them, but now I am cursing their name. They now have me translating treaties on avoidance of double taxation. It is as fun as it sounds. In any case, I promise several postings this week. I hope I haven't inconvenienced either of you in any way.)

It is now mid-December, and that means Year's Best lists.

I have yet to see many of these, aside from a few book lists I have taken a look at. And then the other day I was looking at Slate.com and saw that they have a little roundtable going on the year's best music. I checked it out.

It was horrifying. I hadn't even heard of 80% of the artists listed. Here's the list of the author's top singles:

1. M.I.A., "Bird Flu"
2. Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying"
3. Sophie-Ellis Bextor, "Catch You"
4. Usher featuring Ludacris, "Dat Girl Right There"
5. Eve, "Tambourine"
6. Ciara, "Like a Boy"
7. Jennifer Lopez, "Qué Hiciste"
8. Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, "Umbrella"
9. Aventura, "Mi Corazoncito"
10. Miranda Lambert, "Famous in a Small Town"
11. Hector El Father, "Pa' La Tumba"
12. Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black"
13. Robin Thicke, "Lost Without U"
14. Eric Church, "Guys Like Me"
15. The Pierces, "Boring"
16. Sugababes, "About You Now"
17. Gwen Stefani featuring Akon, "The Sweet Escape"
18. Kanye West, "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
19. Mika, "Grace Kelly"
20. The Fratellis, "Flathead"
21. Natasha Bedingfield, "I Wanna Have Your Babies"
22. The-Dream, "Falsetto"
23. Mickey Avalon, "Jane Fonda"
24. The Cribs, "Our Bovine Public"
25. Katherine McPhee, "Over It"

Out of those 25 songs, the only ones I have heard are "Umbrella" and "Flathead" (that Fratellis album is worth checking out). Those aren't even the two songs by the Puerto Ricans! I don't even want to get into how many of these artists I've never heard of.

I was less horrified by the list of the top 10 albums:

1. M.I.A., Kala
2. Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
3. Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
4. Lil Wayne, The Carter 3 Mixtape
5. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
6. Kanye West, Graduation
7. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
8. Feist, The Reminder
9. R. Kelly, Double Up
10. The Pierces, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge


Left: Amy Winehouse: You can expand the picture by clicking on it (if you want your Christmas ruined).


Here I have at least heard of half the artists. M.I.A. is some sort of Indonesian hip-hop Manu Chao, LCD Soundsystem is a band my brother likes because they have robot singers, Kanye West is an indie artist who I think may make it big someday, Amy Winehouse is some sort of drunken British witch, and R. Kelly likes to micturate on the underaged. As for Melissa Lambert? I guess it would be cool if she turned out to be Christopher Lambert's daughter. Maybe the whole album is songs like "MacLeod's Lament" and "There Can Be Only One." But somehow I doubt it. Lil Wayne I presume is some sort of child rapper. Or an obese rapper. I will probably never hear that album, whatever the case may be. Feist means "a small mongrel dog," mainly in the American South. Perhaps the Pierces have something to do with Niles Crane. And I have to say that Brad Paisley's "5th Gear" sounds like some sort of Sammy Hagar album. No thanks.

The reason why all this is so horrifying is that at one point in the not too distant past I recall at least being aware of what was going on in popular music. At some point in the early 90's, Prepubescent Paco suddenly decided that he was going to know all about every band that showed up on MTV. A video would come on and I could immediately name the artist, song, and album title (these were the days before they started showing the name of the video director, which, by the way, was almost immediately followed by the current "we don't actually play videos anymore" era of Beach Houses and TRL; perhaps showing the directors' names somehow killed videos--somebody should investigate this. Maybe Michael Mukasey, as it is now clear that he won't be investigating anything relevant for the next 13 months), all before these were displayed on the screen.

All of a sudden it's 2007 and I'm finding out from fucking Slate of all things that Alan Thicke, the dad from "Growing Pains," had a kid (the are-you-kiddingly-named Robin Thicke) who is now a famous recording artist who gets to grope hot ladies all day even though his last name is synonymous with stupidity, and he shares his first name with a) a pretty little bird and b) Batman's boyfriend, while I have somehow turned into Andy Rooney.


Left: Robin Thicke: Wrong for America.



I may have to kill myself soon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Aftermath

It was a grim weekend.

After the indicent with my car window, I understandably withdrew into a cocoon of shock and grief, drowning my sorrows in glass after glass of Lactaid with Ovaltine—it dissolves so much better than Nesquik, and instead of being the color of chocolate it’s more like the purple of A-Rod’s lips, and who wouldn’t want a little $300+ million in their mouth? (I don’t know what my price is, but let’s be honest, it would fit cozily into that budget)—all while my special ladyfriend traipsed around New York city, torrential downpours swamped the island, and my fantasy basketball team continued to have an atrocious free throw percentage; the days were long, and the resultant sentences apparently even longer.

(That last sentence brought to you by Commas, Dashes, Parentheses, and Semi-Colons: making long sentences interminable since English was called ‘Engliscgereorde’! Oh snap, did I just bust out the Old English on your ass? You bet your assa, modorforliger! )

But the car’s broken window was eventually fixed—by my ruthlessly efficient grandfather, Don Cheo, who can somehow arrange for a car window to be fixed, pick up the car to go take it to be fixed, have it fixed, and then call you seventeen times to tell you that it’s fixed… all before the sun comes up… on a Saturday—and with it, my will to live, or at least to look elsewhere for a copy of John Carpenter’s The Thing, that holiest of grails in my lamest of quests. So I drove the newly-repaired car over to my local Blockbuster video, where I hadn’t been in years, and which, after falling on such hard times that I forsook it completely (what finally made me so mad as hell that I refused to take it anymore was, ironically, the fact that they did not have a copy of Network in stock, which, believe it or not, is completely true), has made a truly miraculous recovery. Indeed, the Hato Rey Blockbuster was so well-stocked and rejuvenated that I will tentatively put forward the opinion that this particular Blockbuster is at its own personal (as it were) apogee, offering an even greater selection than it did in the halcyon days of its grand opening in the early 90’s, when it replaced the previous occupant of its locale, the inadvertently hilariously-named S & M supermarket (seriously).

After parking my car in the brightest parking spot on the lot—parking inside the store itself being unreasonably frowned upon, in my opinion—I took a lap around the interior of the store, finding not one but TWO copies of The Thing, a very good selection of older films overall, and a Transformers edition of Monopoly on sale (just sitting there, basking in the celestial glow of God’s love and favor).

Feeling the hot, tearing bite of a good thing on my ass, I secured a membership immediately, rented The Thing, and immediately hauled ass to my now ex-video place, where I essentially flung my last rental (the first disc of Season 1 of Prison Break, which I got for my grandfather, whose enthusiasm for window replacement vastly outstripped his interest in Prison Break) out of my car window so that I could continue to have a car window at the end of the transaction. And so, to follow is a brief list of things that I will not miss about my old video store, the Video Avenue on Muñoz Rivera Ave.:

1. Persons unknown breaking my car window.

2. The big “Video Drop” box outside the store, which for years has been locked and not open for eponymous video drops therein, which I shudder to think what prompted that inexplicable decision, and I’m thinking bodily fluids of some sort.

3. Speaking of bodily fluids, the fact that the parking lot, in addition to being a place where people break your car windows and yet don’t have the decency to rid you of Il Divo and Andrea Bocelli, always smelled like a sewer line somewhere had been busted, most likely because of the sewer line that was busted in said parking lot, which as far as I can tell has been busted for a good two years.

4. The taunting presence of four separate cash registers, no more than one of which was ever in use at any given moment, even though the line was often so long that people were simply lined up right through the middle of the Action section and thus had to pass by the entire Jean Claude Van Damme ouvre, from Bloodsport to Universal Soldier: The Return (the original Universal Soldier being inexplicably absent from the collection, although several copies of Legionnaire always seem to be on hand).

Although I am excited to be back to frequenting the Blockbuster, today’s visit was not without ominous portents. For example, as I left the Blockbuster, I was asked for money by a guy named Michael, who just needs a little cash because he lost his construction job the other day. Thing is, Michael has been losing this same construction job for about 15 years now, and though he seems mostly to split his time between that Blockbuster and the Pueblo down the street, it is not outside the realm of possibility that he was the one that busted my window at the other place, given that it’s only a few blocks away. Perhaps I should have asked him for my mother’s IPod, which was taken, as so many other young IPods of its generation, before its time, at the Hato Rey Video Avenue.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Crime Wave!

I have been the victim of a heinous crime.

Tonight, after stopping at a 7-11 to buy the Hacienda’s supply of Lactaid and bread (because no hacienda should be without Lactaid and bread), I stopped at my local video rental outlet to see if anything piqued my interest. I was driving in the family Jeep, which I parked in the video store’s parking lot, directly in front of the store. The lot is decently lit, and was by no means empty when I arrived.

I went inside and did a circuit. The movie I was hoping to rent was John Carpenter’s The Thing. Yes, it is sort of random, but I randomly read something about it online recently and remembered liking it when I saw it some 15 years ago, and since Don Paco is a man that is all about goals, I set out to find the film.

Unfortunately this video store, in its first transgression of the night, turned out not to stock the film. However, it does have some 75 copies of the Roselyn Sánchez film Yellow, a hit so massive that I don’t know a single person that has seen it. I did not rent Yellow.

I looked around some more. I saw the box for Casshern, which I had recently rented from Netflix and was easily the most inexplicable film I’d ever seen. It’s set in some sort of future Japan, and there’s some Japanese people in it, and then one of them dies in some sort of future World War II. His father (I think) is working for the government on some project using so-called Neocells, which apparently are stem cells from some remote tribe that has pure, unsullied human DNA. Then lightning or something hits the facility and the body parts that they are growing in the lab turn into full-grown humans, which the authorities instantly order shot. Four of them, however, escape, and, in a curious sequence, appear to be on the run from the authorities for a long period of time and tremendous distances, although at the end of the sequence they still have the same goop in their hair that they climbed out of the Neocell pit with, and it seems to be only a few minutes later. These four dudes declare themselves Neo-Sapiens and somehow, by themselves, offscreen and with no explanation, take over some robot army that has been rotting in Europe for who knows how long. Then somehow the guy that died in future World War II gets resurrected (I'm pretty sure he is Casshern), and he has crazy superpowers, and then he beats the shit out of the robot army all by himself. Then he fights the leader of the Neohumans, and that’s when I turned it off and mailed it back in to Netflix. Needless to say I did not rent Casshern. Also, you shouldn’t rent Casshern, mostly because it is really, really horrible. (Its plot is so incomprehensible that its Wikipedia page doesn't even try to provide a summary, opting instead for providing priceless nuggets such as "Hisashi and Takuro from the band GLAY appear in a cameo," which, when I read it, I immediately thought, "Man, I KNEW those were the dudes from GLAY!"

Then I saw something that intrigued me. Skinwalkers. It’s about werewolves. But it turns out it’s one of those Underworld-type movies where there’s a ton of werewolves, but they spend most of the time as leather-clad bikers and shoot at each other with guns. Why would you make a werewolf movie and have all the fighting be non-werewolf gunfights? It’s like making a Holocaust movie and it turning out to be just a bunch of scenes of old British women having tea all the time: it doesn’t make sense. So I lingered over Skinwalkers for a while, did another circuit with it in my hand, and then I decided that I am stupid enough already, thank you very much, and just left without renting anything. I am not even going to link to Skinwalkers, because it would be socially reprehensible.

Although it sounds like I spent a long time in the store, I can’t have been in there much more than five minutes. I walk back out to the car, and once I get there I notice that there’s window glass on the ground. I think to myself, “Ouch, some poor jackass had his car broken into.”

Alas, I am that poor jackass.

First Maximiliano del Chubasco , and now this. Clearly a tsunami of crime is washing over our beautiful island. Nothing of value was stolen, fortunately. The bandit (or bandits? I am not ruling out a gang or major criminal conspiracy) only made off with a mostly empty purse in the backseat. The bread and Lactaid were not taken, nor was my cd binder (sweet!), nor my mother’s cd binder (meaning that I will continue to have Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo inflicted upon me until I leave the car unattended in a neighborhood full of gay Eurothieves). It occurs to me that I just got Beasted. Fuck.

I am blaming the whole sordid ordeal on Skinwalkers. Don’t watch that movie, I’m sure it blows. It can only lead to further suffering. Tell your loved ones.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Puerto Rico: What's Going On

Don Paco brings you the latest (and, unfortunately, bad) news from the beautiful sunny island of Puerto Rico.


Left: Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, soon to be wearing a different set of stripes.

In Politics: Governor Aníbal Acevedo, the first P.R. head of state to qualify for disability benefits stemming from a crippling lack of charisma, is going down. The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating him for over two years regarding potential campaign finance violations. Turns out there was all sorts of sketchy fundraising for his gubernatorial race, in Philadelphia of all places. There seem to have been some dentists with no connections to Puerto Rico that were very, very eager to give his campaign money. It also looks like the Popular Democratic Party (the commonwealth-supporting local party) sprang for $40,000 worth of suits for the governor, as well as possibly hair plugs and eye surgery. Sad part is, he still kind of looks like the bastard son of Jon Lovitz and a gargoyle. Acevedo has spent the year paying Washington lobbyists to kill the nomination of Rosa Emilia Rodríguez as U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico, under whose interim appointment the investigation has come to fruition. Moreover, Acevedo, not known as an overtly religious politician, has recently begun referencing the Bible at rallies, wearing a ring given to him by the Archbishop of Puerto Rico, writing angry letters to Condi Rice about colonialism, and, though he has yet to be charged with anything, delivering hours-long addresses on local tv about how he isn’t guilty of anything. Which I get, because I am always giving hours-long tv speeches about how I’m not guilty of stuff. That’s how I maintain my innocence, because that sort of thing screams innocence. Bottom line: Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá is going down, and soon. It will not be pretty.
For a good overview of what Aníbal has been up to, check this out.

In Beauty Pageants: We in Puerto Rico take our beauty pageants pretty seriously, because our ladies are the hottest, objectively. If you even look a Puerto Rican woman you will instantly get pregnant, they're so hot. I know that doesn't make sense, but it is absolutely true. Face it, your females look like drooling Neanderthals compared to ours. But that is okay. Neanderthals were a hardy folk, with stocky barrel chests and pronounced brows. In any case, we just had our local Miss Universe pageant to determine who the eventual winner of the world-wide Miss Universe will be, and it got ugly. The eventual winner, Ingrid Marie Rivera, made it through the pageant despite her outfits and makeup brushes being sprayed with pepper spray, causing her to break out in hives during the contest . The accessories in question are currently in police custody and are being examined by a forensic team. The suspects: other pageant contestants supposedly jealous of Rivera’s “extensive pageant experience,” whatever that means. The unsubstantiated rumor here is that Rivera is pals with pageant organizers and that the whole thing was fixed. Here’s a video of Ingrid being interviewed by Bill O'Reilly!

Don’t like your Miss Universe news so depressing? Well, for the other side of the coin, our last Miss Universe winner, Zuleyka Rivera, who has been surgerized into looking a lot like Janet Jackson, gave El Nuevo Día an extensive interview today, which I think is as extensive as it is primarily because it is accompanied by a bunch of naked pictures of her. Interested? (It’s going to be fun explaining to my special lady when she gets back from NYC that I’ve started linking to nudie pics in her absence. It’s important news content!)

In Brief:
- The ex-chief of P.R.’s Consumer Affairs Bureau (DACO), had his horse stolen this morning by unknown horse thieves. The horse’s name? Maximiliano del Chubasco (“Maximilian of the Violent Tropical Squall”). Easily the weirdest story of the day.

- A local federal magistrate judge set bail today for seven individuals of Chinese descent for trafficking humans into the island. Back when I was growing up, you rarely saw Asian people here in Puerto Rico (hence every person who was Asian or Asian-looking invariably being nicknamed “Chino” by their friends here). Now we’re trafficking them in, and my special lady even saw an Asian person panhandling the other day. Once you’ve cracked P.R.’s lucrative panhandling industry, you know you’ve really made it here.

- A 7.4 earthquake hit Martinique today, and was felt here in Puerto Rico. But not by me, leading me to conclude that in a fight against a 7.4 earthquake, I would undoubtedly prevail. It was also felt in Venezuela and Suriname (by the way, odds are that this is the last time you will read the word Suriname for many, many months, or at least until you sit down to start writing Battlestar Galactica fan poetry, and think to yourself, "What rhymes with Geminon? Suriname! I'm a genius!").

- CESCO, the local DMV, had its entire computer system go down for three whole weeks. The level of inconvenience remained unchanged.

- Quote of the Day: From a local newspaper article on how abstinence efforts are failing:
“I don’t believe in abstinence. I’m sexually active, and, if it works out with one of my lady friends, I’m going all-out. Of course, I always use protection. You can’t just be going willy-nilly out there.” ‘Juan’ (not real name), local ninth grader.

The Beasting Continues

Joe Klein and Time keep getting bludgeoned over this FISA story. Time published an online correction , which says that
In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. The bill does not explicitly say that. Republicans believe it can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.
In marked contrast to Time's tack, the Chicago Tribune, which recently published an editorial making reference to Klein's story, printed its own correction on the matter:
CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS

A Time magazine essay by Joe Klein that was excerpted on the editorial page Wednesday incorrectly stated that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. It does not.
Also, it turns out that Klein's source for the interpretation of the bill was Congressman Peter Hoekstra, the Republican who until early this year had chaired the Intelligence Committee.

Glenn Greenwald is reporting that Time will be including a correction using the same "he said, she said" rationale in their print edition tomorrow. There is as of yet no word on why Time is so vastly perplexed as to what the bill says.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inaugural Beasting of the Day: Time's Joe Klein




This is Joe Klein.

You may remember that Mr. Klein is the guy that wrote “Primary Colors” under the name Anonymous (perhaps sensing that at some point along the way, John Travolta would become involved). He now (openly) writes for Time magazine, where he has a weekly column on politics. Recently, Mr. Klein has been writing about the progress in Congress of the efforts to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) bill, which controls wiretapping of terrorist suspects abroad. Here’s what Mr. Klein wrote about the proceedings in a November 21 Time magazine article titled “The Tone-Deaf Democrats:”

Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that – [Rush] Limbaugh is salivating -- would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only. In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid.
This did not go over well with Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer who blogs for Salon.com, mainly because it was factually incorrect. It seems like calling something stupid when you yourself are engaged in what could be termed stupidity is a bad idea when a guy like Mr. Greenwald is around; or, as he so succinctly put it, ‘ "Well beyond stupid" is a good description for what Klein wrote here. "Factually false" is even better.’ Apparently Mr. Greenwald gets cranky when he has to fact-check you. Mr. Greenwald wrote a takedown on Mr. Klein’s work on Wednesday November 21, where he enumerated how Mr. Klein’s article was factually erroneous: namely, the FISA law clearly does not require that the FISA court approve surveillance of foreign terrorists—that protection applies only to “U.S. persons,” meaning citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Mr. Klein, caught with his hand in the lazy jar, responded to the posting online, but did not address the inaccuracies pointed out by Mr. Greenwald, focusing instead on reiterating how bad he thinks all this looks for Democrats, whom he again insists are “giv[ing] foreign terrorists the same procedures as American citizens, if not the same rights.” Apparently, Mr. Klein started getting heat on this from other quarters, and on Saturday, November 24, he posted a correction to his article on Time’s website, which he kicked off thusly:

I may have made a mistake in my column this week about the FISA legislation passed by the House, although it’s difficult to tell for sure given the technical nature of the bill’s language and fierce disagreements between even moderate Republicans and Democrats on the Committee about what the bill actually does contain.
This repetition of the core falsehood that triggered Mr. Greenwald to write on this issue seems to have made Mr. Greenwald go “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Blogging, I presume, with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blasting in the background, Mr. Greenwald went to town, on Mr. Klein’s difficulties with the technical nature of the bill:
There is no confusion possible about whether the House bill -- as Klein originally wrote -- "would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court." Anyone who told that to Klein was lying. All you have to do is read the House bill in order to know that. Here is Section 2 of the RESTORE Act -- the very first section after the "Definitions" section:

'CLARIFICATION OF ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE OF NON-UNITED STATES PERSONS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES'

Sec. 105A. (a) Foreign to Foreign Communications-

(1) IN GENERAL - Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of the contents of any communication between persons that are not known to be United States persons and are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the United States or the surveillance device is located within the United States.
I don’t know about you, but that seems fairly clear to me. So what happened here? How could Mr. Klein have been so far off-base? Apparently, it seems that Mr. Klein is guilty of two things:

1. He did not read the bill he was writing about.

2. He relied on information from sources, and then did not verify the accuracy of said information. (see point 1).

(Consider also that no editor or fact-checker over at Time seems to have caught this.)

Mr. Greenwald goes on to excoriate Mr. Klein thoroughly, and the media in general for lazy reportage of this type, which seems to have been in vogue for the last few years. Mr. Kline gets called " an easily manipulated and dishonest "reporter," and his work is referred to as "weaselly", "inaccurate," and "slothful"; a prominent blogger picks up on the story and refers to Mr. Klein as "Joke Line" (unless this is a long-standing nickname; it's not like Mr. Klein was beloved before this episode). The whole fiasco has led to this, as reported by Mr. Greenwald:

The Center for Citizen Media -- jointly affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Law School -- has picked up on the Klein/Time story, labeling Klein's behavior "Shameful 'Journalism'," and contending that the "flagrantly inaccurate and misguided Time magazine column by Joe Klein" is "[o]ne of the most amazing episodes in modern American journalism." They concluded: Klein's "work in this case may become Exhibit A for what's wrong with the craft today."
So Mr. Klein did not do his homework, and consequently he probably had a very bad Thanksgiving weekend. And what happens when you let that happen? You get BEASTED. Kids, don’t let this happen to you. Don't wind up being the fact pattern for the essay question in every journalism school's Journalism 101 final exam this year. If you’re going to write about FISA, you’d better check yourself before Glenn Greenwald rickety-wrecks yo ass.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meet the Beast


Above: Meet Le Tigre, the Mark of the Beasting.


Don Paco here, introducing you to our newest feature here at the Hacienda: the Beasting of the Day.

What is a beasting? You have been beasted if someone (including you) has done something so adverse to your reputation, physical or mental well-being, or overall prospects that it is inevitable that you emerge from the episode unarguably worse off.

Here is a one-act play illustrating the use of the term:

Don Paco: Even though Mitt Romney has spent millions of his own dollars to lock down the Iowa caucuses and Mike Huckabee has run a barebones, grassroots campaign, the two are now at a dead statistical heat in the polls. That’s got to be frustrating for Romney.

You: That Mike Huckabee sure is BEASTING Mitt Romney!

Don Paco: And oil is almost at $100 a barrel!

You: Damn, Americans are getting BEASTED at the pump!

Don Paco: And finally, did you know that last year Bush and the losers in Congress suspended the 1000 year old right of habeas corpus?

You: Yo that Constitution be getting BEASTED, son!

Don Paco: It sure is, You, it sure is. By the way, you appear to have soiled yourself.

You: Shit!

Don Paco: Indeed.

Exeunt Don Paco, You.
Fin


The inaugural beasting will be unleashed upon the world tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pardoned Turkeys Go On Rampage



Above: In a lighthearted ceremony, the President pardoned a savage killer.


Orlando, Florida – Two turkeys pardoned earlier in the week by President George W. Bush went on a savage killing spree today at Disney World, killing several other animals belonging to the park’s permanent wildlife collection.

The turkeys, raised in Indiana by Ted Seger, the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, were pardoned in a White House ceremony on Tuesday.

"May they live the rest of their lives in blissful gobbling. And may all Americans enjoy a holiday full of love and peace. God bless you all," said Bush at the Rose Garden ceremony that will now go down as a Rose Garden ceremony which will live in infamy.

The turkeys, named May and Flower following an online poll, were flown first class to Orlando. After serving as the grand marshals of Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, they were taken to the menagerie they had been set to become a part of, where they pulled out semi-automatic weapons from their trench coats and opened fire. After killing several deer, they jumped into a set of ovens and cooked themselves to death.

Persons close to the turkeys noted that they had begun behaving strangely after a meeting with Dick Cheney, whom recommended that they be named ‘Lunch’ and ‘Dinner.’ Cheney also had the turkeys waterboarded in order to ascertain whether they had any information regarding upcoming terrorist events. Rather surprisingly, they didn’t, though they did make up various terrorist plots in an attempt to get the brutal, unrelenting torture to cease.

"Their watery gobble gobbles will haunt my dreams," said a government interrogator.

Analysts later determined that the plots the turkeys reported, which consisted mainly of gobbling and defecating on the ground, did not appear credible. Cheney’s office defended the Vice President’s actions.

“Turkeys don’t have Constitutional rights,” said Cheney’s spokesman.


Left: Flower overlooks the carnage she hath wrought.


According to the White House, the turkeys were raised using normal feeding and other production techniques.” They were, however, provided with extra interaction with humans so that they would be prepared for their role at the White House Ceremony. Experts question whether it was a mistake that the human interaction mostly consisted of the turkeys being strapped to chairs with their eyelids forced open and screened Fox News programming at high volumes for 12 hours a day.

Democratic operatives are currently working on ways to use the killings against the Republicans in the next election cycle.

“The President’s abuse of the pardon power has gone on long enough,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “First Scooter Libby and now this. After 19 years, finally we can open up a can of Willie Horton on their ass.”

The turkeys left no suicide notes because they are turkeys and are thus illiterate. Experts have ascribed the cause of the turkeys’ actions to their love for violent video games and the music of Marilyn Manson.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shewee's Big Adventure


Above: The Shewee.


Don Paco is not sure what he has been writing emails about that would prompt this, but today, after gorging on turkey, I opened up my gmail account and the ad displayed at the top was for something called the Shewee.

Obviously I was intrigued.

What is the Shewee? It turns out it is a “portable urination device for women.”


Left: Now you ladies can whip it out, too! (Presumably the gray areas surrounding that crotch are meant as shading and not, you know, an accident.)


It is basically a pee funnel for ladies. Tired of having to sit down to pee? Shewee takes care of that. Plus theoretically I guess you can, you know, write your name in the snow and all that good stuff.

Of course, there are still valid concerns to consider. Hygiene, for example. On the website (www.shewee.com, surprisingly enough), Shewee's creators proclaim that "Thanks to Shewee you can enjoy many more events without having to worry about unhygienic public toilets!" While I guess that part is true, there's still the matter of you carrying your toilet around in your purse. The Shewee bigwigs also remind you that urine is sterile upon leaving the body.


Left: Not where you want a Shewee lady to be. This guy's about to get an unpleasant surprise, R.Kelly style.


The website provides an easy how-to guide on how to Shewee. (Step two is my favorite: "Aim urine to a suitable place – away from feet, into a toilet or a container." Container? Like what? The Drinkwee Peepee thermos? Yikes.) I guess maybe the Shewee is a bit tricky, because the instructions also give you the following: "Tip! Practise* with Shewee in the shower to find the best position for you!" (*: Shewee is for British peeing.)

It is a brave new world.

One Reason to Support Ron Paul



How cool would it be to have Gandalf be president? I wouldn't worry about anything. Take some jewelry to an evil volcano? Hell yeah! Gandalf is never wrong.

Also he wields Narya, the Ring of Fire. That's very powerful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Day for Giving Thanks

This week marks the start of what you Americans call “the holidays.” From my studies of American film, this term refers to a roughly month-long period of time centered around meals and gift-giving, and during which people leave their normal lives to go visit the parents they hate and the siblings they can’t stand so that they can yell at each other across a large table (or, as an Argentinian man I met once asked me as we watched “National Treasure” on a bus crossing Patagonia, “Do all Americans hate their fathers?”).

So I take it that as you sit in your office in a cold Eastern seaboard metropolis today, your mind is probably preoccupied with just how to tell your 30-year Army veteran dad that you’ve found the woman of your dreams, and that nothing will keep the two of you apart, even the fact that her vagina does not end in a uterus, her clitoris is actually a refurbished penis, and her outer labia used to be a scrotum. But while that is certainly something to ponder, the Thanksgiving holiday is about giving thanks, so to take your mind off your she-male fiancée, your decision to pursue that Ph.D. in Navajo pottery, or the fact that you left your high-paying job to go join the Dennis Kucinich campaign, I, Don Paco, will relate to you a list of things to be very thankful for this year. So take out that hose leading from your car’s tailpipe and into your closed car window, turn the engine off, air out the garage, and give thanks for your many blessings, as enumerated below.

1. You are not a helpless infant, and Britney Spears is not your mother.

2. You do not hold a subprime mortgage.

3. You are not a monk in Burma.

4. You are not a subprime mortgage lender.

5. The writers’ strike has saved you from having to endure another full season of "Ghost Whisperer.”

6. What with the price of gasoline being so high, that car you designed that runs on platinum and baby souls is looking more and more like a solid idea.

7. You never paid for that Times Select bullshit.

8. Osama bin Laden? Don’t worry, Bush is on that like white on rice.

9. Theoretically, that contract you have with Sprint will end someday.

10. Somehow you passed that urine test.

11. Rudy Giuliani keeps talking about World War IV, so I guess you can hold out hope that World War III will at least be relatively quick.

12. Dick Cheney doesn’t go around undermining everything you do at work like he does to Condi.

13. Hugh Grant never cheated on you with a prostitute.

14. You do not live at Michael Vick's house and go "woof."

15. Your teeth aren’t British.

16. You don’t get paid in pesos.

17. You are not Pakistani democracy.

18. One-a-day Valtrex.

19. Chuck Norris hasn’t put you on his shit list. Yet.

20. It’s not your job to explain how perjury is not a crime when Scooter Libby does it, but it is when Barry Bonds does.

21. Sen. Chris Dodd isn’t emailing you six times a day because you foolishly sent him some money recently.

22. You made the choice months ago to resign from your position within the Bush Administration to spend more time with your family.

23. So far, you’ve given the King of Spain no reason to tell you to shut the hell up.

24. You're not fat. You're just chock full of omega 3 fatty acids.

25. A-Rod re-signed with the Yankees, so now his children will not have to go hungry.

26. You’re the jackass in the picture below (read all about him here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_page_id=1965&in_article_id=487039).


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at La Hacienda.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You Are a Part of an Unparalled Phenomenon

We here at the Hacienda have just received word that this website is a bona fide internet phenomenon. Our award-winning journalism is being cited in that most venerable repository of scholarly knowledge, Wikipedia.

It appears that our award-winning, hard-hitting investigavite reporting into the superhero steroid scandal features prominently in Wikipedia's entry on Captain America. As that website writes, "Some have drawn parallels between the Super-Soldier Serum and the steroid scandals of today.[4]" That [4]? A footnote leading directly to this site (specifically, this article).

Now, if I were you, I would leave a comment right now, so as to record for posterity that you were here at beginning. That way, 15 years from now, when your 13 year-old daughter is berating you for being so damn uncool all the time, you can print out a copy of the comments page and show your spoiled ingrate spawn how, way back in 2007, you were all sorts of tight with THE Don Paco, at which point I predict that your pimply offspring will simply silently head back up to her room and change out of her "3 Input Woman" baby-tee without you even telling her to, out a pure, unadulterated, but in all likelihood short-lived respect for you, which you will thereafter immediately squander when you give her that Nickleback greatest hits album for her birthday and tell her "Now here's what I call real music."

By mere virtue of your reading this, you are now a part of this pop culture phenomenon. Years from now, when they interview you for the documentary, you can reminisce about how you remember exactly where you were that time that Santiago gave Bush that caculo, or about how the video of that Argentinian bat inspired you to follow your dreams and become a contortionist.

So thank you, my dear readers. You are both super duper awesome.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Translating Argentina

Hello, my friend. How are you? Did you enjoy last night’s Democratic presidential debate? You did not watch it? No, I understand. I too am repulsed by Joe Biden’s hair plugs. No president should have a head like a Barbie doll. It makes me think that if you were to take off Biden’s pants, all you would find in his crotch region would be a smooth, flesh-colored piece of plastic. No, I agree, it is better not to think about it. Plus he is from Delaware, a state which I have seen with my own eyes and yet still do not believe actually exists. But enough about Joe Biden’s non-existent hair, genitalia, and home state.

As you know, I support my lavish lifestyle here at the Hacienda by doing translations. I recently found this website where people post translation projects, and translators can view them and bid on them. After a few weeks of bidding on projects, I finally got one. Some Indian company needed a translation of some tax documents from Spanish to English. I put in my bid, they asked me to translate a sample paragraph, I translated the holy shit out of it, they loved my work, much laudatory praise was exchanged, and I got the gig.

Too bad the gig was a nightmare. It turns out that what needed translating was a user guide to a software version of the form Argentinians need to fill out in order to calculate the value added tax they owe. A week from now, when you sit around your Thanksgiving table looking at your turkey and mashed potatoes and whatever cranberry-based side dish your family prefers and you give thanks for all the great things in your life this year—how awesomely expensive your health care is, all the Kevin Federline knowledge you’ve managed to accumulate, and the fact that Scooter Libby runs free amongst the Colorado aspens—take a moment and give thanks that you are not an Argentinian taxpayer subject to the value-added tax.

A week ago I didn’t know what a value added tax was. And, after translating 43 pages regarding how to fill out the forms required in order to declare and pay it, I still don’t know what it is. I do know this:

- both book editors and annually-salaried agricultural workers are expressly stated to be subject to it

- there is a special provision for when you have had your septic tank or cesspool cleaned by a specific type of taxpayer

- the Spanish-language instructions for using the value added tax software are completely incomprehensible, and now in English they are even worse. It is like that time on “Newsradio” where the boss wrote a book on management titled “Capitalist Lion Tamer” and the Japanese translated it as “Super Macho Donkey Wrestler.” Only much, much worse.

- the software in question has a special tab when dealing with transactions involving “ordinary natural water, common bread… and fuels not sold at service stations.” What kind of fuel is not sold at service stations? Buffalo chips? Plutonium? Who lumps alternative fuels in with “common bread”? Perhaps in Argentina common bread is leavened with Strontium-90.

- Argentinians have made up one of the best words ever: “monotributo” (and its derivative, “monotributista”). You have no idea how hard it was for me not to go with “Tribute Monkey” as the translation for this.

The lesson I want you to take away from this is this: Argentina is a wonderful country, but you do not want to live there. Yes, they may have glaciers, roaring waterfalls, and bats with dark, glistening, enormous batcocks, but their tax code is not something you want any part of.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gingerly Clipped From the Headlines



Can you tell by the cover story picture and headline who we Puerto Ricans were rooting for this weekend? Hint: the answer is ¡COTTO!


Unfortunately, stories like this are all too common here in Puerto Rico. However, it seems like some parents a few years ago thought to themselves, "You know what, if we're going to have a kid that is going to get brutally murdered at some point, we might as well give him an awesome name. Then maybe some asshole will make fun of him on the Internet. Which doesn't exist yet."

Check out the highlighted portion to find out the victim's name.


The Force, unfortunately, was not strong in young Oby Wan Rodríguez. Police are still searching for the Imperial Stormtroopers rumored to be involved in the slaying.

Monday, November 12, 2007

In Which Don Paco Introduces You To The Pleasures of Reagan-Era Board Games


Above: The box illustration for "Public Assistance."


So Don Paco has a special lady friend, Doña Estrella, and she was recently overseeing some annual cleaning efforts at her own Hacienda. Sometimes at large estates such as our own, things can get misplaced for long periods of time. Artifacts can disappear, and not reappear until decades later. Doña Estrella found many things during her latest excavation, some characterized by a high degree of awesomeosity (an original Millennium Falcon replica, from the original Star Wars toy run, in good condition, and huge), and some not (a League of Nations-era vacuum cleaner).

The real prize of this haul, however, was not the ship that Han Solo won from fellow rogue Lando Calrissian during the Cloud City Sabbac Tournament, but rather a game inspired by events transpiring not so long ago, and in a galaxy not so far, far away. Verily, Doña Estrella pulled forth from her brimming armoire a box containing quite possibly the greatest board game ever, 1980’s “Public Assistance” (tagline: “Why bother working for a living when you can play this great welfare game?”)

Why is this possibly the greatest board game ever? Well, let me answer that question with another question: when was the last time that you were reading the instructions for a board game and saw something like this: “Is there a limit to the number of illegitimate children an able-bodied welfare recipient may have?” If you answered ‘never,’ then boy are you in for a treat.

(By the way, here is the answer the instructions provide: “No. It is possible, though improbable, to land on 16 “Have Illegitimate Child” blocks in two trips around the Able-Bodied Welfare Recipient Promenade. 16 illegitimate children may be uncommon, but not unheard of. A welfare recipient in Baltimore, for example, is on record as having 22 illegitimate children, all by the age of thirty-two! And in turn, some of her illegitimate children now have illegitimate children of their own.”)

I can not stress this enough: I am talking about a real game, and in this game, you can have illegitimate children. In fact, having illegitimate children, from my reading of the rules, seems to be about the absolute best way to win at this game.

The game itself is not so different from Monopoly. You don’t start at “Go;” you start instead at “The First of the Month.” Instead of a banker, however, someone is designated as the Custodian of the taxpayers’ heard-earned dollars. Plus, when you pass the First of the Month, you don’t just get $200. That’s chump change. Here, you get your “basic monthly grant of $500, plus $200 for [your] first illegitimate child, and $100 for each additional illegitimate child.” As I said, the whole illegitimate child thing really seems to pay off in this game. As opposed to Trivial Pursuit, where fathering a bastard doesn’t get you shit. Stupid liberal Trivial Pursuit.

Gameplay is simple. You start out the game as an able-bodied welfare recipient on the 1st of the month. You then roll the dice, which determine how many blocks down “Able-Bodied Welfare Recipient’s Promenade” (seriously, that is the name of the street; let’s shorten that to “Welfare Drive”) you get to travel. Welfare Dr. seems like a pretty hip place. Say you roll a 1. You’re going to land on “You are on the welfare rolls in two states—collect double all benefits.” Score! Being on welfare is the shit! Say you roll again and get a 3. You get to “Buy a case of wine. PAY $10.” Who knew being on welfare made you privy to such tremendous bargains? Wine in hand, say you roll another 1. Oops! Now you “HAVE ILLEGITIMATE CHILD.” Can’t wait for that 1st of the month!

So let’s take stock. Three moves into the game, and you have a) defrauded two state governments, b) purchased alcohol in bulk quantities, and c) fathered a bastard. It’s just like Candyland. Except with very, very different candy.

But not everything in “Public Assistance” is fun and games. If you’re not careful, you’ll land on GET A JOB, which means you have to move from Welfare Dr. down to Working Person’s Rut, which, let me tell you, is not where you want to be. All the spots there are things like “School Tax. PAY $50” and “Gas Fill-Up. PAY $20” (ahh, 1980). You do not want to stay on Working Person’s Rut for very long, or you’ll go broke.


Because that's how food stamps work, after all.




Working Person’s Rut, barring a few squares like “Forget troubles, drink beer and watch ball game on TV,” is a real downer, especially when compared to all the great stuff you can do if you’re back on welfare, such as “Steal Hubcaps,” “Sleep all day,” “Read girlie magazines all day,” “Smuggle in Iranian hash,” and, of course, “Act belligerent at job interview.” Also, you can have an illegitimate child about every 5 spaces. And let’s not forget the special, subtle pleasures of landing on squares that say vague things like “Sales convention in town: COLLECT $2000” and “Girls got busted: PAY BAIL $500.” I wonder how someone on welfare can make money off a sales convention. And who are these girls?

Oh, never mind, I just figured that out. (Step back here a moment: this game is full of hookers, drug dealers, pimps, and petty criminals of every sort, and the object of it is for you to navigate this morass while making as much money as possible, a goal you accomplish by committing as much fraud and crime as you can squeeze in. So does this mean that we can now blame Republicans for the “Grand Theft Auto” games they’re always bitching about? I vote yes. Oh wait, I can’t vote.)

It is tempting to just list all of what is on the little squares, but to do so in this space would probably get you fired, and also undermine American productivity in general to a dangerous degree. I mean, this is a game where you can get sent on a “Jail Jaunt,” where, if you’re not careful, this is what could happen: “You are sexually assaulted. LOSE ONE TURN.”

Take a moment and think about this. You can get RAPED in this board game. It truly is an embarrassment of riches, so I will have to limit myself and only point out one more thing about this saucy conservative pastime: its blatant hatred for something it calls “ethnics.”

Now, let me make very clear the fact that the game goes out of its way to avoid blatant, outright racism. The box it comes in features a street scene peopled by various types of vagrants, loiterers, n’er do wells, and even a pimp (my personal favorite detail is a guy sitting casually on a stoop while blood pours out from under the door and down the steps), but all of these people are white. But the covert racism is there in the details (remember where the broodqueen with the 22 kids was from? BALTIMORE!), and nowhere is this more apparent than in the “Welfare Benefit” cards, which are this game’s “Community Chest” equivalents. If you land on a spot marked “Benefit,” you get whatever Benefit is on the card you pick. Some of these cards are fairly run of the mill stuff for this game, stuff like “You are on the welfare rolls in two states, and the District of Columbia. Collect triple benefits.” Par for the course. Then there are the more creative ones, like “Your great-aunt Sophie dies. You don’t report her death, and bury her in the basement. Collect her $500 welfare check every 1st of the month” and “National Endowment for the Arts accepts your proposal for experimental film-making. Your theme: ‘The Limits of Pornography.’ Receive $900 grant.”


Right: Don't worry, kid. Chief Justice John Roberts will keep those ethnic bullies off you.


See, the stuff you do on your own carries no racial tinge per se. But once someone else becomes involved, once you’re getting help doing something dodgy, it’s always a certain type of person who’s helping you do it. Let’s see if you can guess who from the following cards:

“Your ethnic congressman gets your live-in or spouse a job with the Social Security Adminsitration.”

“Ethnic politician hires you under the table to get out the welfare vote. COLLECT $2000.”

“Your cousin hits is big on daily lottery. You hire ethnic lawyer through free ‘Judicare’ program and sue him on trumped-up defamation charges. COLLECT $2000.”

“A welfare comrade agrees to strike your car from rear on way to welfare office. You hire ethnic lawyer through free ‘Judicare’ program and obtain cash settlement.”

Apparently, this Judicare program only employs ethnic lawyers. By the way, these ethnic lawyers appear to be quite effective, as they always seem to secure you a hefty judgment. So I guess the game is not really racist after all.


Left: A liberal.


Does your soul hurt yet? Because mine does, so it is probably time to wrap this party up. I end this piece with good news, however. I know what you are probably yelling right now: “Wait, Don Paco, don’t leave yet, tell me, how can I get a copy of this tremendous game? Are all Puerto Rican closets filled with such bounty? I must have this game!” Well, my friends, never fear, as the game is still available for sale online, at www.welfaregame.com, where this classic is marketed as “Guaranteed to Help Rehabilitate Lingering Liberals.” So, if you or a loved one has fallen under the seductive sway of demon liberalism, please do yourself and hire an ethnic lawyer to sue your town for some specious tort, and then use the money to buy yourself a copy of this unfairly forgotten classic from back when it was still morning in America.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

After the Flood

Dear readers, first and foremost, let me apologize for the long delay between postings here on the site. Things have been hectic here at the Hacienda. The Hacienda’s computer was down for a while, and may yet go down again. Every once in a while old Don Desktop just freezes up, and then when I restart him he says he has to check the D drive, and then all of a sudden Don Desktop rather cryptically declares that said drive is “dirty.” It then takes about 24 hours to scan itself for my protection. So far no word on what the dirty culprit is, nor what is taking so long. Though I can certainly think of some dirty things that lurk within my dirty hard drive. Wow, that does sound dirty.

Furthermore, because the Lord has forsaken this fair Hacienda (and, given the Satanic rituals which we regularly hold here, I do not hold this decision against Him), yesterday as I arrived at the manse following an inspection of my many lands and holdings, I found that the Hacienda had been flooded by the torrential rains let loose from the heavens. The rest of the afternoon was spent experimenting with water-removal efforts, some of which were disappointingly disappointing (wet-dry vac, you broke my heart), some of which were effective but time-consuming (collecting water in Tupperware containers and dustbins, then dumping it into garbage cans, which, when filled with tens of gallons of water, were then rendered immovable), and some which simply did not work (use of The Force).

In any case, the Hacienda is now once again dry, for now at least, and some new stuff is going online here over the next few days that you will not want to miss. I won’t tell you what it is, but let me just say this: Reagan-era board games, folks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Musharraf Also Declares Martial Law in U.S.A.


Above: President Bush asked Gen. Pervez Musharraf to run things for him for a while.


Washington, DC – In an unprecedented move, the President of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, citing civic unrest and stating that he was acting as the head of the nation’s military, this weekend declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law in Pakistan. Today, President George W. Bush, impressed with Musharraf’s success in the endeavor, and, frankly, just getting tired of this whole being President thing, instructed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to telephonically persuade Musharraf to replicate his success stateside.

Bush directed Rice to deliver this message: "We too are afraid of the threat of takeover by Islamic extremists. We see that you are successfully tamping down on treasonous dissent and would like you to attempt to duplicate your positive results here in the U.S." Rice, whose sense of cognitive dissonance disemboweled itself with a figurative samurai sword sometime in 2003, made the call.

Musharraf, one of the U.S.’s staunchest allies in the War on Terror, and now an experienced veteran of many types of coups d’etat, putsches, and plain old power grabs, took swift action to secure his own hold on power. He suspended the Constitution, stifled independent media, and deployed troops to crush dissent. He called the measures “necessary to prevent a takeover by Islamic extremists.”

"Damn it, we were so close!" exclaimed several Islamic extremists. "We'll get you, Musharraf! Your mother makes love to donkeys!"

In Pakistan, the country’s lawyers are leading the opposition to Musharraf’s actions. In the U.S., no such resistance has yet been mustered.

“Yeah, like the Constitution was all vibrant and shit yesterday,” said Harvard Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe. “Seriously, dude.”

Faced with a vacancy in Pakistan’s Supreme Court after ousting the country’s Chief Justice over the weekend, Musharraf appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, to head the Pakistani court.

“Roberts is a respected, common-sense, conservative jurist,” said Musharraf. “He is like an umpire, there to call balls and strikes. That’s the kind of man we want in such a delicate office. Though we prefer cricket. Interminable, indecipherable cricket.”

“But I don’t speak Pakistani,” protested a visibly upset Roberts.

“It’s Urdu,” said Musharraf.

“Yes it is absurd, that’s what I’m saying,” said Roberts, as a sack was placed over his head and his hands were shackled for the 20-hour flight to Islamabad.

Musharraf also made other small personnel moves, such as honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s trade request by appointing her Chief Magistrate for Combatant Tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, and re-hiring ex-FEMA chief Mike Brown to lead the search for Al Qaeda in Waziristan.


Left: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg relaxes at her new chambers in Guantanamo Bay.



“I’m sure he’ll do a heck of a job,” said Musharraf, who accepts billions in US aid annually to fund the hunt for Al Qaeda. “You take your time and do a good job with it, Brownie.”

President Bush reassured the country that its government is in good hands. "President Musharraf has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals," Bush said at the end of an Oval Office meeting, "He’s a leader that can help us through these dangerous times."

President Bush said that he hopes the emergency measures will be temporary, and that elections be held next November, as scheduled. He plans to spend the intervening months at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. “Don’t want to be in Pervy’s way, you know? Let him have the run of the place.”

“By the way, Pervy, watch out for Dick,” added Bush. “He wanted to be the one to suspend the Constitution, I'd promised, so he’s pretty pissed.”

Monday, November 5, 2007

Justice Ginsburg Demands Trade


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg



Washington, DC – Dissatisfied with the conservative direction in which the United States Supreme Court is headed, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg informed President Bush that she is demanding to be traded, preferably to a more liberal court, or, at least, a “warm-weather” city like Miami or LA.

Justice Ginsburg, who has played for the Supreme Court since 1993, the year that then-Supreme Court G.M. President Bill Clinton called her up from the Court’s Triple A affiliate, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, revealed in a weekend radio interview that she is unhappy with her recent lack of playing time.

“Ever since Sandy left and Bill died, I’ve been stuck on the bench,” complained Justice Ginsburg. “What with Sandy being replaced by that troll Alito, all our rulings are conservative now, and I’m in the minority, so I never get to write opinions anymore. I’ve got three law clerks and they ain’t got shit to do. I’ve been reduced to reading dissents from the bench. It’s such a Scalia thing to do, God, I can’t stand it.”

“All I do all day is sit and listen to oral arguments, then I spend the rest of the day browsing through the Frederick’s of Hollywood website,” added Ginsburg. “So basically now I’m Clarence Thomas, but without all the barely-contained bitterness about affirmative action.”

“I even put a pube on Breyer’s Coke can the other day,” she added. “It wasn’t as fun as I thought it’d be. He just started crying. It was awful.”

Chief Justice John Roberts explained that Justice Ginsburg just hasn’t become acclimated to the new offense he is running. “We’ve got a new system these days,” said Roberts, who is essentially Greg Kinnear with a law degree and sporadic, inexplicable brain seizures, “and Ruth just doesn’t feel comfortable in it yet. I can’t keep trotting her out there if she can’t produce. I mean, how hard is it to remember that the President and his subordinates can do and order whatever they want? Even that blowhard Stevens gets it.”

Roberts recognized that Ginsburg still has a valid role to play on the Court. “I mean, if some girl sues to get into the Citadel or something, Ruth’s my go-to Justice. She can write the shit out of something like that. But she’s gotta understand that this is the Roberts Court, and we got us about 75 years of jurisprudence to tear down bit by bit, and we only have about 30 years to do it in, and if the liberals want to play, they have to learn the delicate art of fake strict constructionism. Also it would be good if she would learn how to read the minds of the Founders in such a way as to justify restrictions on civil liberties that fly in the face of the Bill of Rights. That'd be a huge plus. She starts showing me some of that, shows me some of that old explosiveness, and I'll get her into the game. Until then, well, there's lots of tax law opinions to write, and there aren't exactly any Justices breaking down my door to sign up to write them.”

Roberts is diplomatic when addressing the subject of Ginsburg, but behind the veneer of collegiality, it is plain to see that he is uncomfortable with her. When pressed, Roberts admits that Ginsburg makes him deeply uneasy.

“Honestly, she scares the hell out of me,” explained Roberts. “She looks like a giant anorexic owl at a high school graduation. I feel like someday I’m going to be discussing a case with my clerks and all of a sudden, 'CAW! CAW!', she’ll swoop down from the sky and eat one of them."

"Alito won't even go near her,” he added. "Says she shows up in his dreams, dressed in a suit made of aborted fetuses, and reads Bush v. Gore to him in a different language every night. He wasn't even on the Court for that one. Last night the language was Orc. Wakes up crying every night. Calls her the Succubus. Horrible."

Bush hasn’t yet said how he plans to handle the trade demand, given that the Constitution makes no provision for such a move. But he remains optimistic that he can get something done, in part because he wants to right perceived past wrongs.

"I gotta find a way to get Harriet Miers on that there Supreme Court. Been buggin' me for years," said Bush. "Or maybe Judge Judy. She don't take no sass. No terrorist gonna fool her into settin' 'im free, that's for sure."

Friday, November 2, 2007

In Which Don Paco Explains to His Friends in Academia the Meaning of Various Pop Songs, In the Language In Which They Are Most Comfortable



Using a simple form of data regression, the data conveyed in a Sir Mix A Lot composition can readily be presented in quantitative graphic form.


As you well know, I, Don Paco, move in rarefied circles. Many of my friends people the upper stories of the proverbial Ivory Tower; they are university presidents, Nobel Laureates, philosophers, and abstract mathematicians. They all enjoy my company because I can communicate on their level, unlike the bulk of the unwashed masses, who basically scare the living hell out of them, mainly because they do not understand them (since the unwashed masses do not, unlike myself, speak in anapestic tetrameter, nor do they do cutting-edge research on the application of string theory to the study of the gravitational effects of dark matter).

Fortunately for my friends, I understand all these lofty matters, and yet I am also a friend of the common man, for I understand what drives him and his female companion.

And so, in order to help these poor pop-culturally-challenged friends of mine, I have decided to help them understand popular culture by translating portions of several hit songs into language which they can understand.


Sir Mix-a-Lot, Baby Got Back

I like big butts and I can not lie/ You other brothers can't deny/
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist And a round thing in your face
You get sprung, wanna pull out your tough/'Cause you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she's wearing/I'm hooked and I can't stop staring
Oh baby, I wanna get wit'cha/And take your picture
My homeboys tried to warn me/ But with that butt you got [me me me] so horny

Translation: I am of the opinion—which I believe to be widespread among my fellow members of the socio-ethnic agglomeration denominated as “African-Americans”—that a pronounced and pleasantly round, symmetrical posterior is a desirable attribute in a member of the opposite sex, and am drawn to the aforementioned sexual dimorphism. The manifest sum total of your physical attributes, evolved over the generations to produce an optimum female specimen such as yourself, as evidenced by the shapely contours of your hindquarters--which instinctively communicate to me that you would be suitable for childbearing--plus that our offspring would be strong and physically appealing to potential mates, has occasioned in me visible arousal. I desire to couple with you and spread my seed. I would also like to create a photographic image of you so that I can refer to it later for purposes of autoerotic genital manipulation with the goal of attaining sexual release. All of this remains true despite the unspecified warnings of my confreres, ostensibly due to the fact that your derriere inspires in me such intense concupiscence such as to override any and all rational misgivings. Also, in relating the level of my arousal I employ a subtle sonic allusion to the Kubrickian ouvre.

Guns ‘n Roses, Mr. Brownstone

We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone
He's been knockin'
He won't leave me alone
No, no ,no, he won't leave me alone
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do it
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before


Translation: I have developed a crippling physical dependency on heroin, a powdered opiate derived from the sap of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum, so named because the plant was once commonly referred to as “the sleep-bringing poppy,” somnus, of course, being Latin for ‘sleep’). Currently I am ingesting the opiate in order to stave off the physiological symptoms of withdrawal, which has been occasioned by the upward trend of my dependence on the substance, which, due to incessant and regular use, has superseded and overridden my congenital neurological pleasure circuitry, replacing my glandular production of glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin, thereby making it impossible for me to experience neurological “pleasure” without the intravenous administration of the opiate. As my organism developed a tolerance to the substance, the initial dosage grew to be insufficient, and greater quantities of the substance were required in order to achieve the same baseline level of “pleasure.”

Meredith Brooks, Bitch

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your health, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

Translation: As a modern, fully-empowered woman, I am tasked with filling a variety of societal niches, the epistemological implications of which include the fact that my individuality is often subjected to reductionist, synecdochic labels by other individuals, who fail to appreciate the various multifaceted aspects of the sum total of my womanhood. When I assert myself forcefully I am labeled a bitch. Society’s normative constructs ultimately hold that my overarching archetypal purpose in life is to serve a maternal, procreative role, but that ipso facto does not negate the fact that I have my own sexual and sensual identity. I am not your oversimplified version of my role; I am imperfect and flawed, but my deviations from societal expectations also allow me to experience and provide my mate with sexual gratification. I embrace these varied dichotomies, and I believe that I could quantitatively prove that my sexual/romantic partners, though perhaps not consciously so, embrace them as well.

TLC, No Scrubs

I don't want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend's ride
Trying to holler at me

Translation: I seek a suitable mate, one whom I judge to have sufficient resources to support me and our offspring in the lavish manner to which I aspire. In selecting a mate with which to pair in order to maximize the evolutionary and reproductive potential of our future offspring, selectionist pressures dictate that I will instinctively reject outright the advances of any suitor whom I perceive does not meet my baseline desired level of evolutionary fitness. Falling immediately into the category of sub-par and thus unsuitable mates are any suitors engaging in courtship behaviors dependent on misleading displays of resources achieved by co-opting the material resources of a companion male. Such courtship advances will be flatly rejected in my search for genetic advancement for my offspring.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hulk No Longer Want to Smash


Above: The Incredible Hulk tends to his rolling fields of organically-raised soybeans.



Treasure Valley, Idaho—In a recent interview, raging monster the Incredible Hulk declared that he would no longer be partaking in a life of savage, rage-fueled, gamma radiation-induced violence.

“Hulk no longer want to smash,” said the 9-ft tall green behemoth.

Tired after decades of being chased by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and the combined might of the US armed forces, fighting green-hued villains like the Abomination and the Leader, and on again, off again membership in superhero organizations such as the Defenders and the Avengers, the Hulk has opted to pursue a quiet retirement in rural Idaho, where he is attempting to make a living as a soybean farmer.

“Hulk like soybean. Soybean green like Hulk,” said the creature who once saved the lives of all of the Marvel superheroes by holding up a mountain range so that it would not crush them.

The Hulk, intensely private after decades in the spotlight, would only reveal a little about his new life, limiting himself to certain closely-circumscribed topics, such as how he acquired his farm (“Hulk buy farm at foreclosure sale.”), how he plows his fields (“Hulk clap his hands at dirt and dirt flies.”), and whether he plans to use industrial or organic cultivation methods (“Hulk soybeans '100% Organic' certified.”)

By all measures, the Hulk is adapting well to his new way of life. He is even getting along with other members of the community, something that he had been notoriously bad at in the past.

“Hulk like puny humans,” said the green one. “Puny human at puny extend credit line to Hulk for farm expenses. Hulk use farm as collateral.”

Like anyone else in this small rural community, the Hulk has his complaints about life as a farmer. In fact, in an entire afternoon with the notoriously mercurial juggernaut, the only flash of the old rageaholic Hulk came when the subject of taxes came up. “Hulk smash IRS form 1040 Schedule J! Hulk not know how to calculate elected farm income! Hulk smash Congress if Congress not simplify tax code!”

“Hulk support flat tax,” added the green libertarian.

Asked whether he had any predictions for next year’s elections, the Hulk stated that “Hulk like Ron Paul, but Hulk worried Ron Paul lack electability. Hulk also like Huckabee, but Hulk note flaccid support from religious community.”

Asked if he had any final words for our readers, the Hulk elected to make clear that he supports the troops, something on which his record has always been spotty. “Hulk sorry Hulk smash all those tanks,” said the man with the greenest thumb in 12 counties. “They shoot at Hulk and make Hulk mad. Hulk say God bless our boys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops smash religious extremism!”

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Bat's Out of the Bag




So I shot this at a zoo in Argentina a year ago. I had been waiting for the right time to unleash this on the world.

That time has come.

Whoever comes up with the best caption for this will be featured in a future posting, with superpowers if so desired.

Have a Happy Halloween, don't forget to give candy corn the respect it deserves.

Here is a video of this little (or really not so little) guy in action.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Even More Gerald Ford Secret Revelations



This week will see the release of Thomas DeFrank's new book, "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford,” which consists of information the former President related to author DeFrank under the understanding that it would not be divulged until after Ford’s passing.

Among the somewhat tame revelations that have already made the news were the fact that Ford believed President Bill Clinton to be a sex addict in need of therapy, and that he considered Hillary to be the one that “wears the pants” in the relationship.

Below are some of Ford’s more salacious observations, confided to his Puerto Rican friend Don Paco throughout the course of a 151-proof rum-drenched night in 2005.

The former President told Don Paco that he believed:

-that Dick Cheney’s pacemaker is “sadly, the most human part of him.”

-that the best thing about the Reagan Administration was “that Genesis video. You know, the one with the puppets.”

-that George Bush [Senior] should be given credit for managing to accomplish so much in life in spite of having “spawned so many retards.”

-that Jimmy Carter is “two-thirds tooth.”

-that there is “nothing in the Constitution that requires that the President wear underwear.”

-that Henry Kissinger would make “a great President. President of MY ASS.”

-that the Betty Ford clinic is "total bullshit. My Betty sure knows how to rip off junkies.”

-that global warming is caused by “the Cylons.”

-that the greatest threats facing the United States during the 1980’s were “nuclear war, terrorism, and Frankensteins.”

-that popcorn is “the gayest of the foods.”

-that Watergate was just another instance of “Manny being Manny.”

-that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “may well be a werewolf.”

-that he has been "high as fuck" every single time he's played golf. "In fact, I was pretty much trippin' balls my whole presidency. That's why I was so clumsy. Kissinger used to score for me, he'd get me primo shit, that's why he was always doing all that 'shuttle diplomacy.' Think about it, where was he going? Acapulco? Lebanon? He was just out scoring hash, man. I had to smoke that stuff pretty much 24/7. I mean, what sober person would pardon Nixon? It's fucking NIXON, man!

Ford was also quoted as saying the following:

-“The worst country in the world? Moldova. Fuck Moldova.”

-“I don’t know who Deep Throat was, but I know who I WISH it was: Nancy Reagan. Meow!”

-"Bill Rehnquist only wore button-down shirts because his head was too big to fit through the neck-holes in t-shirts. God I hope he was born by c-section."

-“You know who never got a fair shake? Right Said Fred. Those guys were AWESOME live.”

-"Chevy Chase? Who? Oh yeah. I'll never understand why people think he's so funny. Oh, that's right: they don't."

-“If Don Rumsfeld had been a hobbit, Middle Earth would’ve been fucked.”

-“There’s a lot of partisan rancor in Washington, but in all my years there, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody hate anything more than Elizabeth Dole hates Viagra.”

-“What do you mean Colin Powell’s black? Like, a Negro? Really? Fuck me.”

-“Nixon? Don’t even talk to me about Nixon. You don’t even know how many of his dried boogers I found on the underside of the desk in the Oval Office. You know who did the best Nixon? Antony Hopkins. But not in Nixon. In Legends of the Fall. 'Screw the government! Screw 'em!' Nixon used to say that all the time.”

Ford also revealed that he thought AIDS was caused by “the Japs,” that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman “has got to be kidding with that fucking moustache,” and that the most tragically underused tool in the US diplomatic arsenal is “some good ol’ fashioned Jean-Claude van Dammage.”