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Page 1

Tsunamis, the Sopranos, and the Good, Old Days

by Jason Roth

The Lighter Side of Tsunamis

Since there's enough people in the world pointing out that the death and destruction caused by the tsunami were bad things, let me address an issue that I have to admit I found very amusing. I had the Fox News channel on the other day, and they had a talk show on (called "Dayside", I believe). After discussing the effects of the tsunami, the host then made the following transition (to the best of my memory):

"Ever see a road hog and wish you could report him?"

The next topic, following a discussion of 100,000+ dead people, was a new police website that allows people in one state to make their own road hog complaints. In one sentence, the host made it perfectly clear that the network believes the tsunami is just another bullshit story before and after which they can place commercials for religious vocalist CDs and laundry detergents. Later the same day (I had the TV on while cleaning, so don't blame me for sitting and watching this), the network made a transition from the tsunami to some story about "celebrities". Something like this:

"Let's go from that terrible story of the man who was found lying face-down in the sand to this next story about Paris Hilton showing up six hours late for the opening of her new bar."

I absolutely love it when media people have to show, so clearly, how superficial and full of shit they are.

These ridiculous transitions reminded me of Casey Kasem's tirade. If you haven't heard it yet, I highly recommend you listen to this clip.

The Sopranos, the Internet, and the Good, Old Days

I'm happy to say that I completed my 2004 New Years's resolution: to identify Tony Blundetto's ring tone. (Tony B. is the Steve Buscemi character on The Sopranos.)

I actually turned off the volume of a Sopranos episode the other day and sat there for ten or fifteen minutes humming it until I got it. For some reason, I was thinking Elton John. And Rainbow Connection kept coming to mind, but I knew that wasn't it either. Then, finally: Aha! I now have my own, self-discovered, Sopranos trivia question and answer. We Are the Champions by Queen, thank you very much.

Just for the sake of satisfying a perverse masochistic urge, I decided to do a Google search just to see how long it would take me to figure this out had I decided to cheat. The answer: it was the second link down on the Google search results page. (I actually accidentally searched on "Tony Soprano ring tone" and still got the answer.) Jesus Christ, the Internet sure takes all the fun out of excruciating research. I remember back in the good, old days, when you had to walk around ignorant. Now all you do is take twenty seconds to type it in on Google.

I wonder if the Internet has put the MIT help line out of business. Back when I went to B.U., we knew about a service (i.e., club for geeks) that MIT offered called the "help line". It was a bunch of students who manned a phone, I think for 24-hours a day, to give you help with basically anything. The purpose was twofold: to let students get help with their homework, and to give the ubergeeks something to do with their spare time.

In my case, I occasionally called to find out where the parties were. And let me immediately clarify any potential misunderstandings. Yes, this was only done as an absolute last resort. B.U. usually had more than enough parties going on, from the frats' Thursday night "keg nights" all the way through the weekend. But believe it or not, I have actually been to a decent MIT party.

Since college was a time when I happened to be very much interested in the crank call, I also found occasion to make a few doozies to the MIT help line. There's one I wish I had recorded. I called them, and told them I was interested in entering, and winning, a local church raffle. This "raffle" consisted of guessing how many jellybeans were inside a big, glass jug. Of course, if I'm going to enter a church raffle, I want to win, for Christ's sake. Hence, my call to my friendly, neighborhood MIT Supergeek. So, I asked, could they help me figure out how many jellybeans were in that jug, so I could win the damn raffle?

The question in your mind right now should be: so did these MIT students have any scruples or what? Well, when it comes to adhering to ethics versus wiping one's ass with an easy but nevertheless arousing math problem, guess which side wins? The crank call would go on. The guy on the phone asked me to estimate both the jug size and the jellybean size. A few seconds and a few calculations later, he gave me my answer. I thanked him, and was on my way. Those old church ladies were going down.

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