Category: Fun

65

Mad Max: Actually, It's About Ethics In Truck Driving

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(note: nearly zero spoilers. perhaps actually zero.)

The three genres of the Mad Max trilogy

The interesting thing about the original Mad Max trilogy is that each movie belongs to an entirely separate genre. Mad Max is a 1970s biker film, Road Warrior is a western, and Thunderdome is NFL half-time show. In world-building, yes, they're all post-apocalyptic films (except for the first, which is perhaps during the very early stages of a grinding apocalypse), but genre conventions and associations matter a heck of a lot: they give us a structure to fit the pieces in to and a set of expectations about what comes next.

The original Road Warrior is, it's almost universally agreed, the best of the three, and I think the reason is not just the incredible visceral car chases and wrecks and stunts, but the western format. Echoing perhaps not only Star Wars and a bunch of Sergio Leone spaghetti, but the best western ever (Kurosawa's Seven Samurai) , the plot plays out like this: the drifter encounters a populace in need, insists that he's no hero, reluctantly is converted to serving the cause, and then – ronin-like – drifts away when the moment of need is over.

As a side note, the original Road Warrior also delivers on the important but unspoken requirement of a good western: good cinematography that displays a vast panoramic landscape. The shots where Max is looking down at the refinery camp and the desert looks so huge and empty under the infinite sky is breath taking. Later there's a second shot that always makes me catch my breath: the leaders of the refinery camp are deliberating under a single electric light against a wide purple sky. The juxtaposition of the small bright spark of technology (the first electric light we see in the entire movie, and, I think, the only one) against vast world gone dark is stunning.

Thunderdome sucked (although, after a re-watch recently, not as much as I'd once thought – it's actually the second best movie in the trilogy, and if only a few things were changed could be a lot better) for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that it departed from the Western genre for a Hollywood-ized, big-budget, campy halftime show.

Anyway, I take us down memory lane not merely for the sake of nostalgia, but as a jumping off point to explain Fury Road. Because until you understand what genre the movie is, you can't understand the movie.

A Western Super-Hero Movie

Fury Road has many of Road Warrior's strengths: it is at least half a western, and it is jam-packed with dangerous automotive mayhem.

Crucially, it did not make the same mistake as Thunderdome: taking its huge budget and using it for camp. Or, rather there are a few bits that could be campy in other contexts, but because they're so overwhelmed by gasoline, metal, and anger, they don't register as camp: one moment they're a distant dot on the horizon, and the next they're gone, behind, never to be seen again.

So, how well does Fury Road do as a Western? It does decently, but not great. The drifter arrives in town, he accidentally hooks up with the people in need, and he reluctantly agrees to help them. And then, at the end, like a tumbleweed, he drifts on. It checks all the Western boxes, but it does so perfunctorily, without passion …and, on one occasion, without a lot of sense.

Oh, and about the unspoken rule of good westerns? Yes, the amazing shots of the desert are there – boy are they there. But you knew that already, from the trailers.

If I had to put my finger on the one thing that disappointed me about Fury Road it was that it had a bit of superhero genre mixed in. In watching Road Warrior one feels concern for the protagonists and fear over their prospects. The villains are just real enough – one thinks that, yes, two years after the nukes fell and the gas ran out, the most brutal of the biker gangs and the renegade cops could have come to exactly this. In the first third of Road Warrior we see Humongous and his gang murder, rape, and loot outriders from the refinery camp, so we know exactly what they're capable of. Later, when our hero and his charges venture out into the wasteland and into conflict with the villains we know how it might very well end: the vehicles caught, destroyed, captives pulled out, brutally raped, and then crossbow-bolted when they're of no more use.

In contrast to this level of realism, Fury Road turns the dial one more, to eleven, for that push over the cliff. It was an inspired choice, in a way: I'm glad I saw these insane war rigs, I'm glad I saw the gouts of flame, the grenades, the spiked cars, the white skinned lunatics leaping off of moving vehicles to their certain deaths, and more. I've never seen anything like it before, and it was glorious.

…but necessarily, if you're serving up an apple, you're not serving up an orange.

The scale, the craziness, the everything – all at once, in every direction – is shocking, and aweing, and wonderful. …but because it's so much, and so hyper-real, the movie slips away from being a Western and into being a superhero movie. These villains are not what real biker gangs and real cops could have evolved into in the wasteland: these are comic book crazies. In the real world, no one would actually build these vehicles. No one would actually do these things. No one would actually set up this tribe or this economy.

…and thus, because it's so much larger than life, it is not life. In Blade Runner, when Deckard misses his jump at the very end of the movie and is hanging twenty stories above hard pavement I gulp, because the idea of falling twenty stories is a real one. I can picture it. My heart hammers. My palms sweat.

In Fury Road, when Max is standing on top of a war rig hurtling through the desert I'm mostly curious as to what will explode next. There is not a moment of fear about the shear insanity of standing on top of a moving vehicle doing sixty over rough terrain. Think about that: if you're anything like me, just standing on top of the tanker would scare you to the point of needing new underwear. Yet in Fury Road none of it seems real. The violence was glorious and picturesque and insane…but not once was it scary. …because not once was it real.

Fury Road is a superhero movie.

Who is the superhero?

Fury Road is odd. Unlike the previous films in the franchise, there's not one hero, there are two. And, in fact, Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa is at the center of the plot, and at the center of the heart of the film. She drives the action, she drives the truck, she drives the plot. This is a bit odd, given that the movie is called "Mad Max: Fury Road" and not "Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road", but what are you going to do?

That said, Max gets a lot of the action, and even if it's not 51%, there's more than enough to go around.

MRA boycott because Fury Road is feminist propaganda

Someone, I think Roosh V, has announced that Fury Road is feminist propaganda and should be boycotted. There are three reasons that I can think to call a boycott.

First, to put economic pressure on someone. Given the size of the movie industry and the size of the MRA world, I can't imagine that anyone thinks that this might work.

Second, to keep out badthink (the SJW tactic of blockbots, etc.). Say what you will about the MRAs, but I don't think that this is their style.

Third, to create a conspicuous cost to being a member of community, thus serving as an initiation ritual of sorts, and binding the members of the community together.

It's gotta be number three, right?

< shrug >

Moving on:

So, is Fury Road a feminist movie?

I can see why the MRAs say so. It does seem to go out of its way to hit a few feminist tropes – I felt like I was reading bad lesbian science fiction from the 70s once or twice.

Clan of wizened "wise women"? check.

…who live a simpler, more peaceful life? check.

…and have peaceful flower-power hippie names ("Initiating Mother", "Vuvalini of the Many Mothers", "Clan Swaddle Dog", etc.)

…and carry a bag of seeds with them, a symbol of the nurturing protective womb? check.

Pro-forma enunciation that women are not property? check.

Kick-ass heroine, because girls can be just as tough as guys? check.

So, yes, there is a bit of feminism shoe-horned awkwardly into the movie. But it's more silly than objectionable. And, in fact, conservatives will find a lot to chuckle over: the maguffin on the entire chase is the group of young breedable women…and yet not once does anyone suggest that they do anything other than breed. No, a just society, it seems, will still have these women cranking out babies…just under (heh) the good guys, and not the Ugly Old Coot.

Yes, but is Fury Road a feminist movie?

No. Not unless "blowing immense quantities of shit up in a vast barren desert" is a new form of feminism I'm unfamiliar with (and if it is, I promise to give feminism another look-see – that'd be a promising development).

To the degree it's got any ideology, it's about ethics in truck driving: "people should not be slaves, nor should they live under corrupt all-powerful kleptocratic dictatorships".

That strikes me as pretty damned libertarian.

Should you see it?

Yes.

In the theater.

Now.

It's not the perfect movie. It's not even the perfect Mad Max movie. But it is a spectacle of the best kind, and there's no substitute for seeing it the way every western is meant to be seen: spread across a screen as huge as the desert itself.

32

PONIES FOR THE PONY GOD

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From: gemma@arialblack
Re: Fresh content for Popehat

Hi Ken

My name is Gemma and I work primarily as a freelance writer, I'm writing to you because I thought you might be interested in a contributed article for popehat.com?

Previous to starting my career as a freelancer I worked for many years in business and finance. When I became a mother, I decided to turn to writing to make a living and now pen articles on as many different topics as I can – from news and current affairs through to pieces on money matters.

I'd love to know if you'd be interested in a piece from me. This would come to you free of charge, and all I'd ask in return is that I'd be allowed to mention a partner as a resource within the text. If you're interested in this I'd love to hear back from you with ideas for topics I could write on. Otherwise I leave you with my best wishes

Kind regards
Gemma

Dear Gemma:

Thank you for your correspondence?

We at Popehat might well be interested in an article. Specifically we'd be interested in an article about certain security issues. If you think that your background qualifies you to write about security issues — about certain threats to our children, that you and I as parents must consider to do our jobs — I can elaborate.

Of course it's fine to mention your partner. We at Popehat unreservedly support marriage equality and are in favor of normalizing all relationships by mentioning them in writing.

Thanks,

Ken at Popehat

Hi Ken

I would certainly be interested in hearing your ideas and would be more than willing to put something together on what you suggest. Please do let me know what you had in mind

Kind regards
Gemma

Dear Gemma:

What I have in mind is nothing less than a comprehensive treatment of the greatest menace facing our race: ponies.

By race I mean the human race, of course. I'm not a racialist. Ponies are a threat to all ethnicities. Of course, some ethnicities are better able, because of circumstance, to repel the pony threat. Which ones is a matter of considerable debate. On the one hand white Americans enjoy superior wealth, agreeable climate, and the ability to be elected to our various legislatures without any apparent qualifications whatsoever. Arguably this makes us more equipped to deal with ponies through expensive security systems and various punitive zoning measures. Many whites would deny this truth; this phenomenon is known as Pony Privilege. But on the other hand, white Americans have become flabby, easily distracted, and generally unreliable with the sort of light antitank weapons that are most effective against closely-grouped clusters of ponies. I made my oldest child fire a LAW at a group of burros the other day — you know, for practice — and it knocked him right on his ass. What are they teaching our children in their physical education classes? The ponies aren't here to play dodgeball with us, Gemma.

I may have strayed somewhat from the point.

Yes. Back to your article. Listicles are very popular these days so to clickbait this motherfucker I'd like to see something along the lines of "The Ten Most Horrible Things That The Ponies Will Do To Your Children When That Day Comes. Number Seven Will Make You Soil Yourself And Curl Into A Stinking Ball." Then I'd like a series of ten cautionary tales, calculated to stir the complacent guts of America: Pilates classes disrupted. Facial hoofprints on children just before picture day. Great heaps of the dead making our electric vehicle charging stations almost inaccessible. HBO producers forced against their will to replace Peter Dinklage with a swaggering, abusive Shetland. Mere anarchy loosed upon the world. Blood-dimmed tides irretrievably staining my sustainable bamboo parquet meditation deck. And so on and so forth.

We need visuals that pop, Gemma, so if you and your partner could dress up as ponies, or people being hunted mercilessly by ponies past all hope and reason, that would be ideal.

I eagerly await your draft.

Very truly yours,

Ken at Popehat

72

Tumult At Oberlin In Wake Of Emotional Support Animal Companion Initiative

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Oberlin, Ohio (AP): A new initiative calculated to promote healing and inclusiveness has instead led to controversy, legal threats, violence, and reported feelings of unsafeness on the campus of Oberlin College.

Oberlin administrators announced the Emotional Support Companion Animals Program for Everyone, affectionately known as "ESCAPE," last week to an eager student body. "This is a safe space," said Walter Green, the college's Executive Vice-President for Redress of Grievances. "And we choose to make it safer with the help of the nonhuman companions with whom we share Mother Earth."

"The nonhuman companions' choices will also be part of our community dialogue," he added.

With that, Oberlin launched an ambitious plan to supply each student and faculty member with an animal companion to support their emotional, spiritual, and socioeconomic needs, drawing from a large population PETA recently liberated from various forms of servitude across the midwest. Excited undergraduates lined up outside the Nifong Student Empowerment Cooperative, waiting their turn to choose and bond with a companion. "We needed this. We needed this to get through this year from hell," remarked Sophomore False Consciousness Studies major Lauren Haller, as her friends jazzhanded in an affirming manner.

Haller referred to a series of crises that have intruded upon the lifespaces of Oberlin students. In February a senior delayed three days before accepting public responsibility for using the term "girls." College administrators, citing federal privacy rules, declined to specify his punishment. In March, the campus roiled when a computer error resulted in several issues of GQ being stocked at the student convenience store, and the administration failed timely to respond to a Campus Justice Petition demanding changes to certain culturally normative elements of the engineering curriculum. More recently, a speech by extremist Christina Hoff Sommers caused widespread distress. Plans to pelt Ms. Sommers with rotten fruit was derailed when organizers learned that their organic produce supplier had once spoken in opposition to a $25 minimum wage, news that led to widespread tearful recriminations.

Unfortunately, ESCAPE has not provided the solace for which it was designed. Problems began the first day when Little Mister Derrida, a wolf hybrid companioned with popular Classism Professor Forrest Moore, savagely attacked senior Pietro Salvador's emotional support rabbit Che. "It's unreasonable, and in fact very offensive, to expect Little Mister Derrida to deny his nature in order to confirm to social expectations that make the majority comfortable," protested Professor Moore, who declines to classify his companion as either wolf or not-wolf. Salvador, who could not be reached for comment, reportedly informed his RA that he had not found the experience emotionally supportive.

There were other violent confrontations between companions of different backgrounds and life experiences throughout the week. Moreover, many students reported that their classmates had not offered the welcoming and accepting community that is the hallmark of Oberlin. Sophomore Henry Trask's attempt to bring his emotional support pig to a Comparative Religion class led to a largely unproductive and mostly screamed debate about the inherent tension between Trask's right to emotional support and his classmates' protected right against offense. Freshperson Darlene Oswalt filed a federal civil rights complaint when a professor asked her to take her raptor outside, saying that the college had attempted to "silence [the eagle's] own story." Moreover, students with sensory differences have reported hygiene anxieties. "The residence halls reek from feces and urine," said one student who asked to remain anonymous. "And this time not just that one graduate dorm."

Administrators rushed to address student concerns, but unsuccessfully. Room-to-room trigger warnings listing the types of companions therein proved impractical with an active and mobile student body and were condemned as "othering and stigmatizing" by some students. The school hired emergency crisis counselors, but discovered that the students' anxieties and conflicts merely relocated to the waiting areas of the counselors' offices. "I can't reach serenity without Dostoyevsky," said one student, referring to her emotional support chinchilla. "And Dostoyevsky can't be serene if there are, like, four coral snakes waiting there with those pretentious assholes from the theater department."

At press time, administrators were privately expressing grave concern. "I don't know what to do," said Green. "There's going to be a surge in calls for emotional support next week when those free speech fanatics from FIRE show up to talk. And this is Peak Triggering season in the economics and history departments. These students need to have someone unquestioning and uncritical reaffirm their feelings, and we thought animals fit that bill."

"They are being exposed to upsetting ideas every day," said Green. "What are we supposed to do, just tell them to deal?"

24

The Road To Popehat: Wait, Wut Edition

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It's time for the Road to Popehat, where we check out the traffic logs, see what searches brought you here, and lose 1d6 SAN.

This time: I don't mean to be judgmental but you people are freakish.

Pony porn defenestration: You like porn of ponies being thrown out windows? Your mom was coming into your room so you threw your pony porn out the window? Actually I don't want to know.

resignation letter pirate: "Arrrr, this secretarial position be the worst job on t' whole ship."

what happened to popehat: It's a long story and it begins with Underoos and the Ford Administration. You see . . . wait. You might be asking about the server outage.

can your ex-fiance sue you for defarmation for rude messaging each other: American humanity: the Lawyer Full Employment Act.

can you go to jail for slandering: Nine out of ten Twitter law experts say yes.

will security allow me to carry tagged walrus tusk through security checkpoints: There's something endearing about this person's faith in Google.

why we should not use rodeo clowns. Because they are PEOPLE.

What kind of charges would be filed for mailing someone a dildo: Logan Act. It's always the Logan Act.

fucked up quotes about life lessons: Patrick! We have our new site slogan!

A Brand New Exchange About Ponies

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David Charles

Jan 15

to me
Hi,

I hope you are well.

Would you be interested in collaborating with me on a free high-end article for publication on your site popehat.com?

All of my articles are of high-end editorial quality and will be 100% unique to you. I will provide a genuine piece that your readers will enjoy reading and will include one link in the body of the article.

Is there any particular area you'd like to see covered on the site? I have a number of topic ideas that I'd be happy to discuss with you further.

Please do get in touch if this is of interest to you.

Kind Regards,
David Charles
Editorial Manager
www.specialistauthors.com

Ken At Popehat

Jan 15

to David
Dear Mr. Charles,

I am well! Thank you for so hoping.

I am intrigued by the offer of a high-end article, particularly one that comes for free. It has been difficult to produce content for the website of late owing to a variety of factors that are best not transmitted by wire over state lines.

There is a particular area I'd like to see covered. Let me begin by asking — are any of your writers capable of addressing health and safety hazards? If so I will elaborate.

Respectfully yours,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

Ken At Popehat

Jan 27 (8 days ago)

to David
Mr. Charles? Are you there?

[email protected]

Jan 29 (6 days ago)

to me
Images are not displayed. Display images below – Always display images from [email protected]
Hi Ken,

Thanks for your email, appreciate you getting back to us.

My name is Aimee, I work with David here.

We are interested in working with you, and wondered if you would be interested in an article focusing on maintaining your brand status internationally online?

The article will be of the highest editorial quality and include one do follow link.

Would you be interested in proceeding?

Kind Regards,

Aimee

Editorial Quality Manager
www.Specialistauthors.com

Ken At Popehat

Feb 3 (1 day ago)

to aimee.w
Dear Aimee,

Thank you for responding! I sure hope David is all right. I was getting worried.

I appreciate your offer of an article focusing on maintaining my brand status internationally online.

Would this article be unique to our site? It would be hard to maintain our brand status even in this county, let alone internationally, if we have the same article everyone else has.

I'm very happy to hear that the article will be of the highest editorial quality. I don't mind sharing with you, Aimee, that we have some editorial issues at Popehat.com. There are fewer after certain legal proceedings involving Clark, but they have weighed heavily on my heart.

Is it possible to seek any customization of the article? I have nothing but respect for your high editors' grasp of multinational brand status issues, but there are certain pressing issues that I think are especially important. I'm wondering, specifically, if the article could address certain fell but little-known risks to brand status (and even to health and security).

Thanks,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

[email protected]

Attachments2:21 AM (14 hours ago)

to me
Hi Ken,

Thanks for getting back to me, much appreciated.

David is fine, he is just a bit snowed under at work now. Thanks for your kind concern :)

The article will be unique to your site, and I will not offer or share the content elsewhere.

You can of course have customization of the article, could you please let me know what you would like included or omitted in particular, and I can work this in.

I would need to request that the article is not tagged as either a guest post, posted by admin or mention Specialist Authors (at my managers request).

Would these conditions be OK for you?

Thank you again for your reply.

Ken At Popehat

4:28 PM (4 minutes ago)

to aimee.w
Dear Aimee:

I am glad to hear that David is all right, and that he has not been, say, trampled. NOT TRAMPLED! I just mean, uh, inconvenienced.

I am thrilled that you will customize my article! I feel that now brand status will be maintained not just internationally, but uniquely. You have no idea how worried bloggers are about their brand getting mixed up with other brands, like that time all those people from InfoWars got here by mistake and started screaming that I was the Whore of Babylon and that their anti-chemtrail-wristbands would protect them from my discussions of defamation jurisprudence. That was brand HUMILIATION, Aimee, and I'd like to avoid it if I can do so legally and consistent with my medical regimen.

So! Let's maintain the Popehat brand, internationally, even in countries that sound like hipsters, like Chad.

Here's what I would like included in the article: the grave physical and psycho-sexual hazards posed to brands by the Grave Pony Menace in the form of the Pony State of America and Canada (PSAC, pronounced "sack," as in ball- or gunny-). We can pretend to ignore it, Aimee, if we live in a Green Zone, like Chicago or Duluth or the Vice President's residence (the Vice President finds ponies distracting). But other places can't ignore it. The ponies — they come. They come. How can something so moderate-sized and fluffy be so inexorable? They come, and they stomp, and trample, and bite, and rear up in a showy and disconcerting way, and they stare into our eyes. When you stare into the pony, Aimee, the pony stares into you, particularly if it has ripped your midsection open with it's snake-quick sharp teeth.

How can we brand, given the threat of ponies? We can work to develop a brand — legal commentary, apocalyptic fantasy, trolling MRAs, art — what what good is the brand when the ponies show up? Lickety-split our customers go from saying "Popehat is where I go for trenchant free speech commentary" to "Popehat is where I went and saw a pony rip out a man's femoral artery and he seemed to do jazzhands as he bled out but that was probably just frightened flailing and they made Clark clean up but the place still smells ominously coppery." That's no brand. How do you pitch that? Hipster or not that will not test well in Chad.

So: in summation, please have your high editors create a piece that explains how Popehat can remain about legally sophisticated and informative snark, INTERNATIONALLY, and not about glistering piles of viscera left carelessly behind by things with names like Shasta and Clip-Clop and Prettypretty. HELP US DEFEND OUR BRAND.

I would be happy, per your request, to mention Specialist Authors. I hope that your Specialist Author who specializes in pony-violence has a name evoking probity, wisdom, and defiance.

I remain, very truly yours,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

P.S. The backlink is fine, but it can only contain a p and an n, not a p and an n AND an o or y.

Marian is on the move

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PDX-to-PDX-banner-2

If you have followed our previous coverage of Marian Call, you know that she's our favorite wandering geek-minstrel and catalyst of casual fun. Well, Marian's on the move in her Portland to Portland (and back!) tour, which has already taken her from the Pacific Northwest to New England. At this very moment, she's on her way down the coast toward DC. She'll meander across Penn and Ohio on the way to Minestrone, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, and finally end up (of course) in Portland again (on the way back to Alaska).

Braving the same trip is flightless wingman Scott Barkan.

Marian and Scott will be playing in a variety of small venues and at house concerts, and she'll be vending worthy goods. If you enjoy folksy singer/songerwriters with a novel, quirky edge, you should go see her. That's what I plan to do. It's Elementary!

Waiting Patiently For The SEOer To Reply

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Joel Marami

6:46 AM (5 hours ago)

to me

Dear Business owner,

This letter regards to the website www.popehat.com

My name is Joel Marami. I am the director of digital marketing at NGRWebTeam. We have some very good news. We have discovered why your website has not been effective as it could be.

OUR ANALYSIS IS AS FOLLOW;

No.1 – The organic traffic to your website has been extremely low. We have measured it at less than 40 percent. It really should be at 80-90%. Since it is not, you are missing out on at least twice as much exposure that you could and should be getting.

No.2 – People who are searching for your type of Business on search engine like GOOGLE, YAHOO and BING are not being driven to your website due to an insufficient number of in-bound links instead; they are being driven to one of your competitor’s websites. This is business that your company is losing to the competition. This is totally unnecessary. Certainly, anything worth doing is worth doing well. With some adjusting this can mean an increase in business of many thousands of dollars per year.

No.3 – The social presence of your website is minimal to be most effective; your website should be actively found on over 10+ high social media websites. This increased social presence will expose your business and your website to people who live, work and frequent your local market and geographical area…If people are not aware of your existence, they will do business with one of your competitors instead. As the saying goes.. OUT OF SIGHT …OUT OF MIND..

Overall, based on our research, we can certainly improve the results you have been getting by increasing your Company’s online presence and resolving any critical online reputation management issues that you are having. We would also like to discuss your website’s conversion rate optimization with you. We can convert more of your visitors into becoming actual customer.

Invite for consultation…CALL NOW! Or Email Back. We can proceed from our corporate e-mail ID…this is just a once-off measure to avoid spam.

Best Regard,

The NGRWebTeam

843-606-1147

Ken At Popehat

8:56 AM (3 hours ago)

to Joel

Dear Joel:

Thank you for writing! I was staring out at the vast expanse that is today, feeling the slight tremor in my hand, hearing the faint red song, and wondering, wondering, if today will be the day that . . .

. . . and then your letter came.

"We have some very good news. We have discovered why your website has not been effective as it could be."

Wow. That is good news. I've been thinking about that a lot, Joel, and it's been a complete mystery. The market for foul-mouthed easily-distracted clinical-depression-prone footnoted free speech over-analysis is HUGE. HUGE, Joel. I have built the better mousetrap, where "mouse" is "your free time and peace of mind." The world should be beating a path to my door. Other that incident with the Thai food delivery guy nothing of that nature has happened.

"OUR ANALYSIS IS AS FOLLOW;"

We're fallow? That's kind of harsh, Joel, but fair. We have plowed deep lands in the blogsoil but recently have not left our seed. That seed would grow into strong things — mighty things, Joel — things like police abuse rants and Downfall videos and apocalyptic fantasies and innovative communications paradigms like "snort my taint." But we have not left it, and so nothing grows.

Can you help us?

"The organic traffic to your website has been extremely low. We have measured it at less than 40 percent. It really should be at 80-90%. Since it is not, you are missing out on at least twice as much exposure that you could and should be getting."

This is outrageous. All Popehat content is organic, localvore, fair trade, and non-exploitatively cultivated, except the Clark stuff, but that's cultural. Why are we not getting organic traffic? Are the big blogs stealing it with their fake "natural" content? That chaps my ass. Should we market more heavily in Portland? I'm not going to have to wear skinny jeans again, am I? Because last time a rivet popped and the shopgirl lost an eye. She has to wear a patch. They will only let her work in pirate-themed stores and she's terribly allergic to parrots and morally I just don't think I can go down that road again.

"People who are searching for your type of Business on search engine like GOOGLE, YAHOO and BING are not being driven to your website due to an insufficient number of in-bound links instead; they are being driven to one of your competitor’s websites"

Unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. IF ANYONE IS GETTING DRIVEN AWAY FROM POPEHAT IT IS GOING TO BE BY DESIGN. Ideally as early in the process as possible. Is there a way to force a popup before people surf to Popehat? It could use algorithms. As many as 3 if they are reasonably priced. The popup could say things like "our analysis of your web browsing history suggests that you're a huge whiny fuckstick. Are you sure you want to expose yourself to the sort of blog written by someone whose parting words to his seven-year-old today were 'don't make me teach you Daddy's leisurely crawlspace game'?" That way we get only pre-selected QUALITY hits, like a record of the month club.

"The social presence of your website is minimal to be most effective; your website should be actively found on over 10+ high social media websites."

Got it. Question of clarification: does it have to be our website OPENLY hanging out on other websites, or can it be subtle? Because I troll 10 major websites every day, easy. Yesterday I left an Eid al-Fitr prayer on Townhall that made three guys so scared they got their camouflage sweatpants out of the hamper. Then I left a meditation on truck nutz colors on Salon that triggered an editor, twelve interns, and half the readers and apparently made Alex Pareene lose focus and get his foot caught in an escalator. But those don't say "Popehat." Do those still work building our social presence?

"resolving any critical online reputation management issues that you are having."

That would be great. I have a list of words. I want our site to be unassociated with those words and those words to have nothing to do with our reputation. The words include "taint" and "pony" and "twatwaffle," all of which we regret for various legal and philosophical reasons. What can you do for us? Can you manage us to be more cool-popular? Is it anything like managing a boy band? Can I be the cute one? I always have to be the sullen one. I've been the sullen one for forty-five years and it fucking SUCKS. I am THROUGH with it.

So see what you can do for me, Joel.

Very truly yours,

Ken

www.popehat.com

Sorry, Melissa

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I have a latecoming apology.

25 years ago this summer, when I interned at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office during college, I was assigned to a project with Melissa, another intern. We helped research and design "caught" posters. Imagine a wanted poster with a person's photo, only instead of saying the person is wanted, it says they have been convicted of a crime and states their sentence. The DA's Office printed the posters and put them up in the gang-controlled neighborhoods from which the defendants sprang. The DA's office thought that public shaming of gang members through four-color posters in their neighborhoods would be a effective deterrent against armed robberies and drug murders. That was the extent of the DA's Office's grasp of sociology. My excuse is that I was 19.

Anyway, one Friday when Melissa left early, I left her a panicked message saying that the poster we had just crafted and released and had posted was wrong, because the defendant — let's call him John Smith — had not been convicted of homicide in violation of California Penal Code section 187, but of unlawful operation of an unlicensed riding mower in violation of City Code section 187, and that there was talk of a lawsuit and a press conference, and the DA wanted to talk to us. This was hard to confirm or deny on a weekend because there was no internet at the time on which Melissa could look up either Mr. Smith or the LA City Code.

That was mean. Sorry Melissa.

An Election is Simply a Festival for the Majority!

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I speak now to the minority:

I apologize for not posting more. I've had many interesting ideas swirling around my head, each of them the potential kernel of a good blog post.

…but I've strangely lost the urge, energy, or whatever to turn ideas into bytes-on-the-page.

I still hope to sit my ass down and generate some content at some point, but until then, feel free to watch this video of me before I was expelled from Japan and emigrated to America. My opinions have changed not a whit.

Crimea

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The most beautiful land I've ever stormed
Crimea, Crimea, Crimea, Crimea….

All the beaches and dachas and woods where my army swarmed
Crimea, Crimea, Crimea, Crimea….

Putin-SingingCrimea!
I've just annexed all of Crimea,
And suddenly Ukraine
Will never be the same
To me.

Crimea!
I've just held a vote in Crimea,
And suddenly I've shown
How vain a threat or drone
Can be!

Crimea!
Take by force, and we're there in person.
By decree, and we're edging toward Kherson….

Crimea,
I'll keep occupying Crimea!

The most beautiful land I've ever stormed:
Cri-meeeeeeeee-aaaaaaaa.

Also, The Pony Will Need Three References

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Hi Ken,

I’m Rebecca Gray from Backgroundchecks.org. I love writing guest posts for blogs that interest me. It's a great way to expand one's portfolio, network with other bloggers, and learn new things.

That being said, I was wondering if I could write a guest post for you. The article will be unique and specifically tailored as per the theme of your blog. I’ll just include a reference to my site in the author byline at the end of the article.

Please let me know if you are interested.

Thanks,
Rebecca

Dear Rebecca,

Happy New Year! I'm pleased that we can provide an opportunity to expand someone's portfolio.

We're excited to hear that you can offer specifically tailored guest posts per the theme of our blog. Most people don't get the theme of our blog quite frankly.

So: I see you are from Backgroundchecks.org. Can you provide a specifically tailored guest post about background checks? If so I have a few specifications and questions for such a post.

Ken
www.popehat.com

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the response. Well, I would love to write an article related to background checks. Please let me know if you have any specific topic in mind.

Best,
Rebecca

Rebecca:

Well, here's the thing. Most available articles about background checks involve people.

Now I grant you that in many ways this is sensible. Man, we are told, is the most dangerous game. Also not an island, and the bastard, and to the extent he is good, hard to find. Man is also a battlefield, if I recall correctly.

But what about other threats?

Is it possible to run a background check on a pony?

Now, wait. I recognize you will see this as immediately preposterous. "What kind of idiot has to run a background check on a pony," you might be thinking. "A pony is overtly hazardous, a patent threat by definition. You might as well run a background check on a puddle of acid or a board with a rusty nail or R. Kelly."

But there are gradations of risk, Rebecca. We deal with them every day. Do I speed up to make that yellow light, or slow down? Do I try skydiving, or not? Do I eat another Double-Double animal style from In-N-Out Burger even though my entire abdomen is so taut and bloated that my vision is blurred and I can feel my pulse in my scrotum?

All ponies are wicked and hazardous, but surely some ponies are more deadly than others. For instance, though all ponies would bite our precious children given a suitable opportunity, some have actually done so and developed a taste for man-flesh that torments their dreams and makes them shudder when darling little hands run over their manes. Any pony MIGHT kill a man, but some ponies HAVE killed a man, and have begun to develop . . . . skills. It's like the difference between a job applicant who has a proven record of being repeatedly fired for incompetence, and one who merely has visible barbed wire or tribal tattoos.

So: I guess what I'm looking for is an article on the extent to which modern technology and investigative methods has made it practicable to run background checks on ponies before one retains their services for one purpose or another.

Also: our readers have grown extremely wary to the point of unmedicated phobia about ponies. So the article should be ABOUT ponies but under no circumstances should the article SAY "pony" or directly mention anything clearly pony-related like "hoof" or "snort" or "rend." Kindly employ a euphemism instead, viz. "In this article I will discuss whether it is possible to run a background check on William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States of America, in order to protect your children."

Trusting that these terms will be agreeable, I remain very sincerely yours,

Ken
www.popehat.com

Mickens, A Systems Carol

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If you've been hangin' around here lately, and you're lookin' to cleanse the computer fakery, mistakery, and opaquery from your palate, look no further than the brilliant and hilarious essay The Night Watch, by the hilarious and brilliant James Mickens of Microsoft. Bonus: he's a good writer. Here's his self-blurb from the MS research site:

Excellence. Quality. Science. These are just a few of the words that have been applied to the illustrious research career of James Mickens. In the span of a few years, James Mickens has made deep, fundamental, and amazing contributions to various areas of computer science and life. Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest scholars of his generation, James Mickens ran out of storage space for his awards in 1992, and he subsequently purchased a large cave to act as a warehouse/fortress from which he can defend himself during the inevitable robot war that was prophesied by the documentary movie “The Matrix.” In his spare time, James Mickens enjoys life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, often (but not always) in that order, and usually (almost always) while listening to Black Sabbath.