Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some Dude Does a Thing

The Reader’s editors have a deep and abiding passion for unending stories about uninteresting people doing unimportant things. It’s not hard to see why. However unrewarding these stories are from a reader’s point of view, they do effectively fill the vast spaces between ads in section one. Most are so unremarkable that we here at The Reader Sucks do not remark upon them. Also, that way we don’t have to read them.

But once in a while a Reader story is so gloriously pointless and dull I have to sit down for a few minutes to savor its sublime superfluousness. Such is the case with an Our Town story this week about … some dude named Danny Postel, who’s bought a lot of books from a lefty book store and who’s convinced some writers with vaguely lefty sympathies to stop by said bookstore. That’s basically THE ENTIRE STORY, though writer Megan Marz drags it out to 900 words or so.

Though the story was already almost perfect as it was, the Reader’s editors decided to put a little dingleberry on top of the crap sundae in the form of one of their award-winning PULL QUOTES OF INTENSE SLEEPINESS:

"When poet Andre Codrescu visited Postel recently, POSTEL BROUGHT HIM TO LEFT OF CENTER after lunch."

Terribly sorry; I dozed off for a moment on the keyboard.

POP QUIZ: The quote below is taken from this week's Reader. Anyone able to tell me where exactly it can be found will win a BIG PRIZE. Post your answers in the "comments" section below.

"I’ll sit at home and watch it on TV."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sherlock Spacecog and the Case of the Poo-Poo Poopiehead

One of our readers offers this critique of the, shall we say, Rabelaisian tenor of much of my writing:

"I don't know why I am even bothering to write this comment, considering your writing is grade school level at best. Anyone who uses the word Poopiehead & expects readers to take them seriously oughta think twice about quitting their day job (if you have one)."

The "grade school level" comment does not trouble me greatly; indeed, it is actually something of a compliment, as I am still in Kindergarten.

As for the rest, well, I can only suggest that the writer wipe his or her ass with a goose.

But what is most interesting about this anonymous comment is WHEN it was posted to our little blog. A quick glance at the traffic log for the blog shows there’s a 50 percent chance it was left by … some poopiehead at Could it have been "Scoops" Miner himself?

I sniffed my computer screen to see if the comment gave off that tell-tale Miner aroma, but, alas, in cyberspace no one can smell you fart.

Keywords: Poopiehead, Rabelaisian, Michael Miner, Fart, Fart, Fart, Fart, Fart

Friday, July 22, 2005

His Fart Will Go On

Miner again.

Look, I don’t mean to write about Miner every week. But what can I do? He’s like some giant journalistic piñata. A piñata who’s constantly spouting inane drivel and pompous "profundities" and who won’t ever, ever shut up. You can’t help but hit him. (Alas, what comes out of him when you do is not candy.)

So what has "Scoops" Miner farted out this week?

Part One: The ABCs of Miner’s ASS

Miner launches into a discussion of radio talk-show ideologues with a truly bizarre and incoherent lead:

"We have red states and blue states."

So far so good.

"We have the ABCs of abortion, the Bible and the so-called-Constitution-in-exile riding on a Supreme Court nomination."

Huh? I had to sit down and have a good think before I was able to figure out what he was trying to do here. See, it’s Abortion (A), Bible (B) and Constitution" (C). Ta da! ABC. To be fair, though, since Miner doesn’t refer to the constitution, per se, but the "so-called-Constitution-in-exile," shouldn’t it really be ABSCCIE?

"What’s next -- drums and bugles and another fratricidal donnybrook?"

No, because then that would be ABSCCIEDBAFD.

After this, Miner attempts to prove that America is divided today by quoting a USA Today article saying as much … from March 2004.

Later on in the article, Miner refers to CNN’s Lou Dobbs as a "Gallup competitor."

Uh, no. Dobbs is a pompous TV anchor and Gallup is, er, a polling organization.

Part Two: His Fart Will Go On

Miner wraps up his column with some Deep Thoughts on terrorism, inspired by the recent British bombings. The media’s constant references to the Brit’s allegedly stiff upper lips gets him thinking about his own fair city – and, in a narcissistic aside, his own mortality:

"If and when terror strikes Chicago, the corpses – yours and mine perhaps – will be carted away. But as the BBC will undoubtedly assure its audiences, Chicago – the city that burned to the ground in 1871 and sprang back up more pugnacious than ever – will go on."

Chicago will go on. Even if Miner himself is blown to tiny little bits, Chicago WILL GO ON!

Cue Celine Dion. And, for God’s sake, plug your ears.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Subpoena envy

A quick quiz:

Who does "Scoops" Miner consider the biggest hero in the world of journalism today?

A) New York Times reporter Judith Miller, now sitting in jail because she believes reporters shouldn’t be forced to rat out their sources to whoever stops by with a subpoena

B) The guy who stopped by with a subpoena

Oh, I won’t keep you in suspense. It’s B, also known as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy who’s been leaning on Miller, a somewhat, er, less-than-perfect journalist who's nevertheless taking a principled stand here. (Fitzgerald had also been leaning on Time reporter Matt Cooper, until Cooper’s bosses handed over his notes.) Not good news for investigative journalists, for the simple reason that, if they can’t guarantee that they won’t reveal the names of anonymous tipsters, the tipsters WON’T FUCKING TELL THEM ANYTHING. No more Deep Throats; no more Watergates.

None of this bugs Miner, whose own reporterly skills, we may recall, are so undeveloped he doesn’t seem to know how to get Sun Times sports writers on the phone, much less possible Deep Throats. In yet another weasly and obtuse column that shows he has about as much understanding of the workings of journalism as does a bag of farts, "Scoops" Miner hoists aloft brave Fitzgerald as journalism’s true champion. Or something like that. Here’s Miner in all his curdled subjunctive glory:

"If Fitzgerald were the best friend journalism ever had, he might have decided to do exactly what he’s done," Miner postulates. "He’s angered it, shamed it, and awakened it."

Then what? Showered it, shaved it, given it breakfast and put it on the bus to work?

Huh. I wonder who does all that for Miner.

Keywords: Michael Miner, Fart, Fart, Fart, Fart, Fart.

Beat on the cat

Most of the excitement in The Reader this week, such as it is, can be found on the letters page. D. Sparks of Rogers Park fucks with the Jesus; the suspiciously-named "Ellie Maybe" of Wicker Park calls Liz Armstrong a "dumb bitch." Meanwhile, one Kurt Wettstein (West Side!) gives mad props to anti-usury laws and offers his translation of a crucial passage in Thessalonians. Booyakasha!

But the real controversy is all about the kitties. Specifically, the cartoon kitty bludgeoned to death in last week’s Reader by scribbly cartoonist P.S. Mueller, which provokes cries of "what the fuck" from two readers. Mueller, feeling a bit defensive, offers up a long and convoluted defense of what he says is a "pro-cat" and "pro-kid" cartoon. His cartoon, which depicted a kitty clubbed to death by a TV-watching brat, was apparently all about the "not-so-subtle savaging of children’s minds by bottom-line consumer media. I felt the kid’s angrily distracted response to the creature’s bid for attention should be at least as twisted as the market-driven sensibility that had deprived the kid of any ability to react naturally to tangible reality."

Yipes! Haven’t any of you people ever heard of Tom and Jerry?

Keywords: Liz Armstrong, Dumb Bitch, Bludgeon, Kitties, Tom and Jerry, Tangible Reality, Jesus, Man Boobs, Penis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Look inside the can to win

A funny thing happened this weekend at the Old Town School's Folk and Roots Festival in Lincoln Square. Wending through a maze of batik windcatchers and stained-glass toe rings in search of the beer tent**, I came upon a booth hung with pictures of a backwards-facing "R." Yes, it was the Reader. A handful of low-level staffers sat in the sun, reminding people just who provides the doorstops in this town.

They'd dreamed up a delightful gimmick to let passersby know the paper still exists. All you had to do was take a fun quiz, and if you answered most of the questions right and/or acted like a good sport, you walked away with a logo-emblazoned gold bandanna. (Kind of a funny choice for a paper that's trying to gin up downtown cred, but old habits die hard.)

Anyway, I'm wearing mine right now. I've got it folded into a headband with the "R" centered on my forehead like a kamikaze meatball. Thanks, Reader!

**The beer tent which did not actually sell beer, but offered beer in exchange for tickets purchased after waiting in line at an adjacent booth. For an analysis of this arrangement, see David Cross's indispensable LP "Shut Up You Fucking Baby."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

There once was a man at The Reader

Pity the poor PR schlub whose task it is to carve out peppy, positive blurbs from reviews of Sally Potter’s new film "Yes." It’s a bit of a hard sell: all the dialogue in the film is written in, well, rhyming iambic pentameter. The two main characters of the film, an Irish-American gal and a studly Lebanese cook having an affair, are named He and She. The whole thing is supposed to be some sort of personal-is-political take on the mess in the Middle East.

Reviewers haven’t been terribly enthusiastic. A.O. Scott at The New York Times described the flick as "doggerel, not art," noting that Potter’s fancy film style is "yoked to ideas of almost staggering banality." Not that A.O. wasn’t moved a little bit by the film – well, not by the film itself, but by "the valiant actors, who do their best to give subtle, vivid, human performances, only to find themselves banging against the bars of the allegorical cage Ms. Potter has built for them."

Well, no usable blurbs to be found there. So, once again, Jonathan Rosenbaum steps into the breach with words of praise for this evidently underappreciated gem. Muddled, confusing words of praise, but words of praise nonetheless. PR schlub, here’s your ROSENBLURB:

Yes "seems to invite ridicule, though it’s more lighthearted in its provocations than heavy-handed or bleak. … her rhyming lines are clarifying, not vilifying." –Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Who's on First (Amendment)?

Posted by: spacecog on Buzznet

I'm still recovering from the 4th of July, when Americans of all stripes celebrate their right to set off illegal explosives just outside my window all the damn night. Hey, they’re just expressing themselves, much the way my cat expresses her desire to be fed, again and again in the course of the day, by biting me on the foot. Or the way we at The Reader Sucks express ourselves by saying things like:

Michael Miner is a poopiehead!

Alas, not everyone in the world loves unfettered freedom of expression. This week "Poopiehead" Miner reports, if that’s the word for it, on a first amendment case involving a student newspaper at Governors State University that got shut down by a school administrator who’d demanded to read each issue of the paper before it was printed to make sure it was all okey-dokey with her.

Miner, of course, does a terrible job explaining the messy case, and I ain’t gonna do it myself, so take a look herefor all the gory details. In the meantime, here are the top three stupid things about Miner’s column:

1) Miner thinks – or thinks that we think – that superannuated grad students deserve more free speech than sophomores. "I guess a First Amendment squabble started by student journalists is easy to shrug off," he grouses, before even getting into the details of the case. "Yet Jeni Porche was 28 and Margaret Hosty 33 back in May 2000, when the two graduate students became editors of the Innovator."

2) Free Speech martyrs Porche and Hosty are total passive-aggressive drama queens. The photo that graces Miner’s turd of a column shows the two of them looking forlorn and hapless and put-upon. Hosty – poor thing! -- is wearing carpal tunnel wrist splints, and poses carefully so that both of them are visible. Behind them there’s an AMERICAN FLAG pinned to the wall.

3) Miner is convinced that the young people of today don’t read grown-up newspapers because … their high school newspapers were "trivial [and] vacuous." Yeah, that’s right. It’s not because, say, most grown-up newspapers these days are themselves trivial and vacuous and just plain terrible. Nope. That’s not it. Miner is so convinced of his absurd opinion that he graciously attributes it to unnamed and unquoted "champions of the student press. … Talk to these critics today and they’ll [say] that the failure of high schools to expose students to serious newspapers is one reason they don’t read them."

Of course Miner’s prose is so clotted here that it’s possible he’s complaining only that high school students don’t read high school papers (there’s a shock), but, ah, who the fuck cares. He’s a poopiehead.

Keywords: Michael Miner, Poopiehead, Wrist Splint, Drama Queen, Man Boobs, Penis.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Normally I try not to criticize Liz Armstrong too much. Targeting the newest Reader regular suggests the paper was OK pre-redesign, and I certainly wouldn't want to give that impression. But this week Liz proves to have her head nestled so deeply in her butt, her sphincter muscles must be seriously impeding airflow. (Actually, reduced oxygen to the brain could explain a lot.)

Liz reports from Wired magazine's NextFest expo at Navy Pier. Why would the Reader send their "society" columnist to cover an event showcasing next-generation technology? Are they that eager to give me something to write about?

Among Liz's insights into the future of technology:
-Liz is no fan of Navy Pier.
-It's easy to slip into big Navy Pier events without paying.
-GM is trying to present itself as ecologically correct -- even though, in actuality, it not only pollutes a lot but manufactures gas-guzzling Hummers! The nerve!!!
-To indicate your distaste for SUVs, you can refer to them as "FUVs." (The "F" stands for "fucking," get it? Very clever.)
-Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" is "still one of the best pieces of literature about the dangers of artificial intelligence."
Actually, I'm inclined to accept her judgment on that last point. When it comes to artificial intelligence, Liz is clearly an expert.