Seth Madej

Category Archives: Writing

Oct 31 6 comments

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Turn Your Children Into Werewolves: A Halloween Book Hunt

NOTE: I originally wrote this post for Halloween 2011, but turning your children into werewolves is a useful lifehack every year.

Meet The Werewolf by Georgess McHargueSomething I watched recently reminded me of a book that I loved when I was in grade school. Possibly it was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. (I mean possibly that movie was the thing I watched, not that I loved the Booker-Prize-winning novelization. Though obviously I did.) The book was about werewolves. Nonfiction. A sort of guide, as if werewolves were an actual rare species worthy of study, like secretary birds or Kardashians. This was a book for children. In particular I remembered a section with detailed instructions about turning oneself into a werewolf. Oneself being a child. And I'd found this book in my elementary school's library.

Remembering that, it struck me as beyond belief that a school library in the early Eighties would've happily loaned a fourth-grader a step-by-step guide to the black arts. Nowadays such a scandal would likely result in the firing of all the teachers and administrators, the closing of the building, filling it with burning sage, and then reopening it as a charter school based on the educational power of complimentary pamphlets. But I was certain I'd read the book, and I even had a vague recollection of the ceremony it contained. Had it been snuck onto the library shelves by some miscreant, Helloween-listening teens? If so, why'd it have a circulation card? It seemed like the book had to have been an honest-to-goodness, corporately published library holding. So I set out to figure out what it was and track down a copy, preferably one bound in human flesh.

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Oct 23 0 comments

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Those of Us Who Think Uber is Wrong Continue to be Proven Right

Have I still not convinced you to stop using the customer-gouging, driver-screwing, society-disintegrating ride-sharing outlaw taxi service Uber? If the fact that the company comprises an unethical skeleton skinned with a business model that's an affront to progressives everywhere and wrapped in a demonic cloak of pure greed isn't enough to make you delete its app, keep in mind that if you criticize your Uber driver's route he will cave your skull in with a hammer.

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Oct 19 0 comments

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Dictator Doings

It's time for Dictator Doings, where we see what's doing with the world's dreamiest dictators!

Sep 22 0 comments

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Slice Open Your Stomach for Carnie Wilson

Carnie WilsonSunday night in my house is reserved for viewing of cooking competition, cute animal, or kooky-vet shows. Last night's feature was the "celebrity" portion of Chopped's Ultimate Champions Tournament, which included Carnie Wilson trying to win money for her chosen "charity," the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. Thing is that by promoting the WLSFA, she's shilling for a twisted corporate scheme designed to take money from the ill and desperate.

Carnie Wilson, for those lucky enough not to know, is the daughter of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and former member of the hell-shat vocal band Wilson Phillips, whose video for their 1990 emetic hit single "Hold On" I was subjected to endlessly by my niece during babysitting sessions. After Wilson Phillips broke up in '93 under threat of invasion from extra-terrestrials who'd intercepted radio broadcasts of "Impulsive," Carnie went on to pioneer the field of modern trash celebrity.

She began avoiding real work with her extremely short-lived mid-90s tabloid talk show Carnie!, the exclamation point of which plead guilty to 26 misdemeanor counts of creating a public nuisance and was last seen sleeping outside the Santa Monica Blvd. impound lot. Carnie then spent a decade appearing on select TV show, her selection criteria being that no mentally functioning human had any interest in watching them. She hostined a revived version of The Newlywed Game, judged Karaoke Battle USA, and appeared on oodles of reality shows from Celebrity Wife Swap to the no-I-swear-it's-real Celebracadabra, on which she lost the title of Greatest Celebrity Magician to blackface performer C. Thomas Howell.

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Sep 08 1 comments

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I Don't Believe In God, But I Don't Need to Because I Believe In These Guys

Aug 15 1 comments

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Listen to Barack Obama's Thank-You Call to George W. Bush

My favorite of the Puppet Nation sketches I've written. Every president occasionally needs to leave therapeutic voicemails.

Aug 12 0 comments

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OCD is the Same Everywhere, And You're Never Alone

spiral_path_by_cernig-d45xrgnMy hometown newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is running a series of articles this week about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Today's installment, about Pittsburgher and OCD sufferer Amy Iannuzzi-Tingley, will seem familiar to anyone who's fought the disease. And that's a great thing.

When people newly dealing with OCD contact me for support, they're anxious,1 filled with worried questions, and afraid that their particular situation is viciously unique. But it never is. It's always typical, so much so that I tell them I could cut and paste a response from dozens of emails I've written to other OCDers. In fact, I sometimes do.

That might sound dismissive and upsetting, but only if you don't have OCD. If you do, you know how deeply comforting and important it is to learn that someone else has experienced the same thing  you're experiencing and made it out the other side. Which is why I'm happy that there's one particular sentiment that I most often cut and paste a response to. It goes like this, from actual emails I've received:

  • "You described so many symptoms that I've been experiencing for years and silently suffered through. It helped me so much to know that you've managed to control your OCD and live your life."
  • "I suffer from similar symptoms. It is really comforting to know others have fought through this battle successfully."
  • "Some of your descriptions match identically with feelings and thoughts I have. I was so glad to hear I am not the only person who suffers from this. "
  • "I'm in the same boat. It's nice to know I'm not the only one."
  • "It was cathartic to reach out to someone and 'hug them' over the internet."

I could cut-and-paste part Ms. Iannuzzi-Tingley's story with parts of my own, or vice versa, and nobody would notice the changes. All of us with OCD start out feeling confused, afraid, and alone. But as soon as we realize we're not alone, we stop being confused. Then it's only a matter of time until we're no longer afraid.

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Read about my own experiences with debilitating OCD in my essay "My OCD."

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  1. Duh. []
Jul 21 0 comments

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Think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are War Criminals? Bruce Springsteen Has a Song for You

Bruce Springsteen has releases a special vinyl EP every year for Record Store Day. Despite my massive Springsteen fandom and bruceosexualism, I usually ignore them, because I don't own a record player and can only rub discs of black plastic all over my oiled body so many times. I aggressively ignored this year's EP American Beauty because it's largely composed of songs that didn't make Springsteen's latest album High Hopes, which itself is largely composed of songs that shouldn't have made the album. But American Beauty eventually hit Spotify, and last week I gave it a cursory listen.

The fourth and final track "Hey Blue Eyes," as I half paid attention sounded like a sleepy summer love song with a dreamy come-on of a chorus, "Hey blue eyes, what'cha doin' tonight?" It seemed like it could've been pulled from Bruce's mostly forgotten Devils & Dust or Working on a Dream, and I was about to forget it too, when the last line caught my attention: "Don’t worry, they’ll have their bags packed and be long gone / Before the real fucking begins."

That made me hit repeat and go find the lyrics. It turns out that "Hey Blue Eyes" is only masquerading as a love song. The seducer whispering that chorus to us the American government, luring us to lay back and close our eyes as it sells us out for greed and power. Written as a furious indictment of the Bush administration while Dick and W were still in power, it now plays as much as an indictment of us for letting them get away with what they did.

In this house the guilty go unpunished, blood and silence prevail
Here the dead remain nameless, the nameless remain jailed

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Jul 18 0 comments

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Who Owns Your TV?

This week, media gastropod 21st Century Fox made an offer of $80 billion to buy  fellow media gastropod Time Warner. The bid was rejected, but it's by no means dead. Rupert Murdoch's scaly talons don't release prey easily, so he's likely to find a way to chew up Time Warner.

To demonstrate what that massive consolidation would mean to the already way too consolidated media industry, I put together the chart below showing control of my world: the TV industry. To keep it simple, the unit used in this graph is ownership of TV networks/stations available to Los Angeles cable customers.1

Corporate Ownership of Television Networks

That big blue wedge belonging to Fox/Time Warner represents close to 25% of all channels, which by the way are pumped into my 42" LCD LG by Time Warner Cable.

Which goes to show that this graph doesn't come close to showing just how much control over these five corporations wield over your TV.2 For example, while you probably figured that the Big Five produce many of the shows on their own networks, did you know that they produce shows for each other's networks? ABC's hit sitcom Modern Family is actually owned and produced by Fox. Modern Family is much more successful than any sitcom on any Fox network, but you can see posters for it hanging in the executive offices on the Fox studio lot. That kind of thing isn't by any means unusual.

(For those who care -- the eight unlabeled segments making up the roughly 43% of TV networks or stations not owned by the Big Five are, from largest to smallest: corporations owning 1% or less of total networks, independent/public, CBS, Starz, Discovery, Scripps, AMC, and Univision.)

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  1. Not counting on-demand or pay-per-view channels and, to help keep the data representative of the rest of the country, the very large block of secondary Spanish-language networks. []
  2. And it completely ignores their holdings in film, music, print, and online media. []
Jul 15 1 comments

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Three More Reasons Why You Shouldn't Use Uber

UPDATE, July 16, 2014 - A late-breaking fourth reason: In my hometown of Pittsburgh, Uber decided not to await the results of its application to operate and just go ahead and start illegally doing business. Hit with a cease-and-desist order from a judge, Uber whipped out cosmically massive balls and claimed that its inability to operate in the city constituted a public emergency. Yesterday the Public Utilities Commission publicly suggested that Uber fuck off.

ORIGINAL POST, July 15, 2014:

Uber BADDo you still use "ride-sharing" service Uber despite its business model of dodging every law protecting workers and consumers? Despite its attempt to replace the very system of employment that our economy is built on with one in which corporations don't actually pay, support, or give half a shit about the people that do their work? And despite my very incisive anti-Uber meme that I worked really hard on? Then consider these three new reasons to immediately delete the Uber app from your phone:

1) Price-gouging during public emergencies is part of Uber's profit plan.

When passengers complained that the company jacked up prices during snowstorms that hit the Northeast this past winter, resulting in per-mile rates as high as $35 and/or one gonad, Uber Grand Douchebag CEO Travis Kalanick responded by telling customers to either pay up or start training a team of huskies.

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