Sunday, February 28, 2016


As some of you may already know, in my capacity as editor-in-chief and sole content provider for The Daily Dirt circa 1999-2006, yer old pal Jerky had what can only be described as an incredibly impressive track record when it came to predicting who would win at the Academy Awards, particularly in the Big Four categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture).

This year, unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the fire in the belly passion required to write up my traditionally hilarious full accounting of the reasoning behind my ever prescient choices. But when I woke up this afternoon, rolled over, flicked my mouse to wake up the computer monitor and was reminded that tonight was Oscar night, I decided I had to write SOMETHING. After all, I owe it to you... the fans.

And so, without further ado, here are my sure-to-be accurate, no-miss Oscar night winning picks! You can bet the kids' college fund on these locks, folks... winners all, or double your money back!

WHO SHOULD WIN: Mark Ruffalo, for Spotlight.
WHO WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone, for Creed.
WHY: Duh! Because #OscarSoWhite, of course.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Who cares?
WHO WILL WIN: Son of Saul, straight outa Hungary
WHY: *cough* HOLOCAUST *cough*

WHO SHOULD WIN: Rachel McAdams, in Spotlight.
WHO WILL WIN: Jennifer Jason Leigh, in The Hateful Eight.
WHY: The wanton, misogynistic sadism of the Old White Men who make up the Academy, who really got off on seeing JJL getting the shit kicked out of her for three hours straight... or was it four? Kinda felt like five, to me.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road.
WHO WILL WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
WHY: The Hollywood Establishment needs to throw that stink burger at least a couple Oscar bones, and this seems like one of the best places for them to do so.

WHO WILL WIN: Anomalisa.
WHY: For proving once and for all that feature-length animated films can be just as ponderous, pointless, and dishwater dull as real movies can. Way to go, guys!

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Revenant.
WHO WILL WIN: The Hateful Eight.
WHY: Because the Academy knows they'll never hear the end of Tarantino's whining about it if they don't at least give him this one. "70mm Roadshow Presentation" my fat white ass.

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Big Short.
WHO WILL WIN: The Big Short.
WHY: Because this film is incredibly well paced, which is a result of excellent editing, so it actually deserves to win.

WHO SHOULD WIN: The Look of Silence.
WHY: Because, depressing as it may be to admit this, most people care more about an alcoholic celebrity crackhead doing herself in than they do about one of the most horrific episodes of recent history, wherein roving gangs of anti-communist street thugs swept the Suharto regime into power in Indonesia circa 1966, killing between 1 and 3 million of their fellow citizens in the process, without any of them ever having to face justice for their actions. The Look of Silence is a sequel of sorts to 2012's The Act of Killing, and both are more terrifying than any horror film ever made.

WHO WILL WIN: Straight Outta Compton.
WHY: Because, incredible as it may seem, this is the one and only nomination - in the single, solitary category - that has any relationship whatsoever to "the Blacks", as Donald Trump calls them. So they pretty much don't have a choice. They have to give Straight Outta Compton the Oscar. Which is going to be doubly hilarious when this guy takes the stage to accept his statuette...

WHO WILL WIN: The Martian.
WHY: Because the journey from tech geek's self-published hobby-novel to world-beating, feel-good, box-office-domination is just the kind of Cinderella story the Academy likes to kid itself into thinking is emblematic of the Hollywood "brand".  

WHO SHOULD WIN: George Miller, for Mad Max: Fury Road.
WHO WILL WIN: Tom McCarthy, for Spotlight.
WHY: Because they forgot to nominate Ridley Scott for some reason.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Matt Damon, for The Martian.
WHO WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, for The Revenant.
WHY: Dude wants it so bad, he allowed himself to get raped by a bear. Let the baby have his bottle, already. 

WHO SHOULD WIN: Brie Larson, for Room.
WHO WILL WIN: Jennifer Lawrence, for Joy.
WHY: Because Cate Blanchett already has two Oscars, nobody knows how to pronounce "Saoirse", and everybody in the world wants to get with J-Law. I mean, have you seen those "Fappening" snaps?!

WHO SHOULD WIN: Spotlight.
WHO WILL WIN: The Martian.
WHY: Because the collective IQ of the global "Anglosphere" seems to have experienced a significant and distressing drop over the past several months (see the recent Republican debates for evidence of such).

Thursday, February 18, 2016


1. Matthew Yglesias thinks America's constitutional democracy is going to collapse. On this topic, he writes:
Some day — not tomorrow, not next year, but probably sometime before runaway climate change forces us to seek a new life in outer-space colonies — there is going to be a collapse of the legal and political order and its replacement by something else. If we're lucky, it won't be violent. If we're very lucky, it will lead us to tackle the underlying problems and result in a better, more robust, political system. If we're less lucky, well, then, something worse will happen. 
Very few people agree with me about this, of course. When I say it, people generally think that I'm kidding. America is the richest, most successful country on earth. The basic structure of its government has survived contested elections and Great Depressions and civil rights movements and world wars and terrorist attacks and global pandemics. People figure that whatever political problems it might have will prove transient — just as happened before. 
Rather than everyone being wrong about the state of American politics, maybe everyone is right.
But voiced in another register, my outlandish thesis is actually the conventional wisdom in the United States. Back when George W. Bush was president and I was working at a liberal magazine, there was a very serious discussion in an editorial meeting about the fact that the United States was now exhibiting 11 of the 13 telltale signs of a fascist dictatorship. The idea that Bush was shredding the Constitution and trampling on congressional prerogatives was commonplace. When Obama took office, the partisan valence of the complaints shifted, but their basic tenor didn't. Conservative pundits — not the craziest, zaniest ones on talk radio, but the most serious and well-regarded —compare Obama's immigration moves to the actions of a Latin-American military dictator. 
In the center, of course, it's an article of faith that when right and left talk like this they're simply both wrong. These are nothing but the overheated squeals of partisans and ideologues. 
At the same time, when the center isn't complaining about the excessively vociferous complaints of the out-party of the day, it tends to be in full-blown panic about the state of American politics. And yet despite the popularity of alarmist rhetoric, few people act like they're actually alarmed. Accusations that Barack Obama or John Boehner or any other individual politician is failing as a leader are flung, and then abandoned when the next issue arises. In practice, the feeling seems to be that salvation is just one election away. Hillary Clinton even told Kara Swisher recently that her agenda if she runs for president is to end partisan gridlock. 
It's not going to work.
Click on the link above to find out exactly why Matthew Yglesias believes what he believes, and try not to panic too much. Twas ever thus.

2. Personally, I have only seen just under half of the films on this list of The Fifty Weirdest Movies Ever Made. Thanks to my friend Spidey for sending me this, because the next few months of my movie watching life just got an incredible boost of weird-ass mind-bombs injected into it. I mean, who can resist such out-there fare as the recently deceased Andrzej Zulawski’s Jerzy Żuławski's On the Silver Globe, described here as: 
A three-hour spaceman journey straight into the center of Zulawski’s poetic heart, On The Silver Globe is the director’s most phantasmagorical film. In 1976, Zulawski embarked on the largest-scale film production in Polish history, and over the course of two intense years, executed an eye-popping, grandiloquent sci-fi epic concerning astronauts who crash-land on the moon and kickstart their own bizarre, primitive society. Sadly, the Polish government deemed the film subversive, shut the production down just before shooting was completed, and destroyed its film print materials, sets and impossibly lush costumes. Ten years later, using secreted footage, Zulawski was able to piece together a version of the film that came as close as possible to his original vision—and the results will defy your mind, as even in its reconstituted form, On The Silver Globe is a true brainquake that effortlessly takes you to dizzying heights, and just keeps on elevating.
And that's one of the LEAST bizarre films on this list. Watch at your own peril! Viewer discretion is advised.

3. I found the experience of reading Tony Schwartz' New York Times essay "Addicted to Distraction" to be a profoundly disturbing experience. It begins:
ONE evening early this summer, I opened a book and found myself reading the same paragraph over and over, a half dozen times before concluding that it was hopeless to continue. I simply couldn’t marshal the necessary focus.  
I was horrified. All my life, reading books has been a deep and consistent source of pleasure, learning and solace. Now the books I regularly purchased were piling up ever higher on my bedside table, staring at me in silent rebuke. Instead of reading them, I was spending too many hours online, checking the traffic numbers for my company’s website, shopping for more colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, even though I had more than I needed, and even guiltily clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines such as “Awkward Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Attractive.” ... 
“The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention,” Nicholas Carr explains in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.” 
Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life. By that definition, nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet. It has arguably replaced work itself as our most socially sanctioned addiction. 
According to one recent survey, the average white-collar worker spends about six hours a day on email. That doesn’t count time online spent shopping, searching or keeping up with social media. The brain’s craving for novelty, constant stimulation and immediate gratification creates something called a “compulsion loop.” Like lab rats and drug addicts, we need more and more to get the same effect. 
Endless access to new information also easily overloads our working memory. When we reach cognitive overload, our ability to transfer learning to long-term memory significantly deteriorates. It’s as if our brain has become a full cup of water and anything more poured into it starts to spill out. 
I’ve known all of this for a long time. I started writing about it 20 years ago. I teach it to clients every day. I just never really believed it could become so true of me.
I urge everyone to read this essay in full. It's a sobering rumination on what's happening to all of us, at all times, in this Brave New World of ours. The ramifications are, potentially, devastating on a civilizational level.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


"He broke out all over in assholes and shit himself to death."
- Nixon aid Dean Burch describes George Herbert "Poppy" Walker Bush's reaction upon learning of the existence of a document in the possession of by Bay of Pigs, JFK assassination and Watergate co-conspirator E.Howard Hunt, which he was threatening to make public if certain strings weren't pulled to help him out of a jam. Not to worry, however... Hunt's wife was soon murdered in a suspicious plane crash (which also destroyed the aforementioned document), and Hunt got a million dollars' hush money, so everything turned up roses for all involved! Google it if you don't believe me.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


"Please clap" supplants Hemingway's six-word story as the shortest, saddest story ever told.
- Nate Goldman makes Coca-Cola come spraying out of yer old pal Jerky's nose with this "bon mot" tweet about a recent trauma experienced by Republican also-ran (and Bush Crime Family member) Jeb Bush in New Hampshire.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


1. Set aside a couple hours to check out this century-plus overview of American comedy as assembled and curated by a team of comedy "experts" at It purports to identify the 100 jokes, sketches or comedy moments that shaped a century of funny. While there are some entries here that I wouldn't have chosen, especially some of the new millennium selections, it's still very much worth checking out. Maybe I'll try my hand at assembling an alternate group of self-declared experts in order to put together a list of our own. Selections and volunteers appreciated.

2. Once you're done wasting half your day with the above overview of American comedy, why not spend the OTHER half wasting it with this encyclopedic overview of the greatest electronic music albums of the 1950's and 60's? Article author Joseph Morpurgo sets the ground rules:
The great electronic albums of the 1970s get plenty of kudos – but what of their predecessors? Casual accounts of the history of electronic music tend to point back to familiar sources: Suicide’s babble’n’hum; Cluster, Klaus Schulze and the rest of the Krautrock squad; the stygian mulch-music of early Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle; and of course Kraftwerk’s meticulous robot pop. Further back? Well, that’s when things tend to get a little foggy. Experiments with recorded electronic music actually date back to the 1940s (hell, depending on how you define “electronic music”, they date back to the 1880s). As early as the mid-1950s, predominantly electronic LPs were already being pressed, marketed and sold to the a willing (if slightly confused) public. Half a century down the line, many of these records still sound fantastic. Some are fascinating relics with plenty to say to the contemporary listener; others sound impossibly ahead of their time. ... Ground rules set – and inevitably occasionally broken – here they are: 15 essentials from electronic music’s Big Bang.
Check it out. No matter your tastes, you're all but guaranteed to find something that appeals to your particular, personal brain circuitry.

3. If you haven't seen The Answers yet, you're missing out on a pretty great, inventive, emotionally potent short film. Everything about this production, from the writing, to the acting, to the production values, is top notch. As a short film maker myself, I'm always encouraged when I see real, honest, worthwhile effort put into one. Kudos to everyone involved. You can watch it here and now:

Monday, February 1, 2016


NAMELESS (Image Comics) ~ In this miniseries' six immensely satisfying issues, Grant Morrison serves up a heaping helping of Lovecraftian science-fiction, generously fortified with his trademark juxtaposition of heady, historically-accurate occultism with genre conventions and pop culture tropes. Handling the visual side of things, Chris Burnham makes an astonishingly successful go at aping frequent Morrison collaborator Frank Quitely's style, minus the latter's glacial, deadline-mocking turnaround rate.

Experiencing this gorgeously-rendered, mind-bending-yet-familiar narrative was a tremendous pleasure, so I'll do my best to make this a spoiler-free review. In fact, I won't be engaging in much analysis at all. This is really more of a preview for Nameless, or an enthusiastic recommendation, than anything else.

The basic elements of the story are as follows: A freelance occultist referred to only as "Nameless" is drawn into billionaire space mogul Paul Darius' clandestine efforts to deflect a massive asteroid that is hurtling towards the Earth, while simultaneously investigating some peculiar markings and structures that have been spotted on its surface.

If the above sounds a bit like Constantine does Armageddon, that isn't too far off the mark. But don't be fooled... Nameless is NOT some hastily thrown together pastiche. It features an intricate, non-linear assembly of nesting narratives that demands and rewards close attention.

From the first pages, in which Nameless sneaks, Inception-style, into someone's dreams in order to steal a powerful psychic artifact, we're never quite sure where we, or the characters, stand. Forever poised at the brink of revelation, the occasional glimpses of the hideous, alien reality behind the thin camouflage of sensory perception are sufficient to send even the strongest fleeing for the comfort of blind, blessed ignorance.

Nameless includes several genuinely disturbing moments, as well as a few vividly rendered scenes of graphic physical violence. It's also packed with goodies for lovers of esoterica, amateur occultists, and others interested in such paracultural oddities.

So how "paracultural" do things get, exactly? Well, as Nameless begins to realize that our Solar System has been the battlefield for an aeons-spanning interplanetary war between the deities, demigods and monstrous abominations who populate the mythological pantheons of the Sumerians, the Mayans, and various unknown "others", he decides to protect himself and his spaceship crew using the symbolic Enochian pseudo-language devised by Elizabethan court magician John Dee... an insight that comes to him while under the influence of one of Brion Gysin's hallucination-inducing Dream Machines. There are also some majorly twisted Tarot cards on display. But I've revealed too much already.

If the above sounds as good to you as it would to me, then you're in luck! A collected edition of Nameless is coming soon, which means you won't have to keep going back and forth to your local comic shop, waiting for up to eight freaking weeks before being able to gobble up the next incredible chapter, which usually takes no more than 20 minutes' reading time. Fortunately, thanks in no small part to Burnham, Nameless improves with each reading, so it will probably have a long, happy publishing life.

I'm not being paid to say this: Buy your copy of Nameless the minute it hits store shelves. Or heck, buy it now using this link, and Amazon will toss a couple pennies in my general direction! Go on... you know you want to!