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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


driftglass: "Ubik"




“Jump in the urinal
And stand on your head.
I’m the one that’s alive.
You’re all dead.”
-- Doggerel/quote from “Ubik” by Phillip K. Dick, and also the vibe that came reeking unmistakably off of the Great GOP Reagan Salad Toss last night.

Nope, didn’t see it. Saw the clips, skimmed the transcript, so in case you were all twitchy/curious about the GOP debate, others have already parsed it thoroughly, from various facets and points-of-view.

The penile…(HuffPo)

The British Isle (The BBC)

Absinthial…(via Peggy "The Cetacean Whisperer" Noonan:)
"They stood earnestly in a row, combed, primped and prepped, as Nancy Reagan gazed up at them with courteous interest.

"But behind the hopeful candidates, a dwarfing shadow loomed, a shadow almost palpable in its power to remind Republicans of the days when men were men and the party was united. His power is only increased by his absence. But enough about Fred Thompson."

"Three of the candidates indicated that they did not believe in it.

None is a front-runner but even so there will be American scientists who will feel deeply depressed that serious politicians in 2007 can be disputing the entire thrust of modern knowledge about how the world was formed and how it, well, evolved. "

Ductile… (Adj. “Easily led or influenced: capable of being fashioned into a new form:.)

From the transcript:
(“ Starting with you, Governor, would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for America.

Romney: Absolutely.

Moderator: Senator?

Brownback (?): It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom.

Moderator: Governor?

Gilmore (?): Yes, it was wrongly decided.

Moderator: Governor?

Huckabee (?): Most certainly.

Moderator: Congressman?

Hunter (?): Yes.

Moderator: Governor?

(Unknown): Yes.”

There was excrementitial (every time Tancredo opened his hole) and funebrial (”Dubya Who?”)

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
Former Gov. James Gilmore, R-Va.
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y.C.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R- Ark.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R- Mass.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Col.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, R-Wis. .

Ventriloquial…(From every silken pocket of St. Ronny’s burial jammies came tiny, squeaky voices thrown from the platform yipping ‘No, I’m Reagan!’)

And, of course, puerile…(HuffPo again)

And yet curiously, no one chose the obvious: A science fiction overview.

So here you go.

Once upon a time there was a writer named Phillip K. Dick. Or you might know him as Horselover Fat. Anyway, he wrote lots of fine novels, many thousands of which seem to have been made into movies, which is kind of a pity, since he hacked around at the margins of success his whole life and only got rich after he shuffled off his mortal coil.

There is a lesson in there somewhere probably.

He also wrote a nifty short story called “Faith of Our Fathers” about an alien invader and/or God that passes itself off as a Mao-like dictator by saturating the food and water with hallucinogens and keeping everybody doped to the retinas every minute of every day. It was a memory collision of that story with Ubik that led to the graphic above.

Anyway, “Ubik” is one of his novels which involves a very unusual future (Or is it the present? Or the past?) dominated by some kind of aggressive entropy on steroids...and a consumer product called “Ubik’. Which can be anything. Cigarettes. Peaches. Cars. Dessert topping. Floor wax. Pomade. Liver pills. Anything.

Here may or may not be some of the advertisements for Ubik lifted from various sites:
"Friends, this is clean-up time, and we're discounting all our silent electric Ubiks by this much money. Yes, we're throwing away the bluebook. And remember: every Ubik on our lot has been used only as directed."

"Wake up to a hearty, lip-smacking bowlful of nutritious Ubik toasted flakes, the adult cereal that's more crunchy, more tasty, more ummish. Ubik breakfast cereal, the whole-bowl taste treat! Do not exceed recommended portion at any one meal."

"If money worries have you in the cellar, go visit the lady at Ubik Savings and Loan. She'll take the frets out of your debts. Suppose, for instance, you borrow fifty-nine postcreds on an interest-only loan. Let's see, that adds up to- "

“And remember: every Ubik in our lot has been used only as directed.”

“The best way to ask for beer is to sing out Ubik.”

“Your husband will say, Christ, Sally, I used to think your coffee was only so-so. But now, wow! Safe when taken as directed.”

“Remember: Ubik is only seconds away. Avoid prolonged use.”

“So try Ubik. And be loved. Warning: use only as directed. And with caution.”

“If money worries have you in the cellar, go visit the lady at Ubik Savings and Loan.”

And all the while, our protagonist -- the very confused Joe Chip -- desperately tries to figure out what in the Hell is going on.

Like the GOP, he does not know for sure what is real anymore and what is not...

[[SPOILER ALERT. Advance no further if you want to remain blissful virginal regarding certain Exciting!Plot!Points of the novel. SPOILER ALERT]]

Why are the people and things he knows aging, dying and putrefying around him at phenomenal speed?

Is it some ravaging disease?

Or is everything around him devolving through time? Is something flinging him backwards towards 1939 like a stone skipping across a pond?

Or is he trapped in a cryonic mausoleum in his own time with other half-deads just like him. Sealed into his own mind and hoving between this world and the grave while his life force is gobbled up by something unseen and unstoppable.

The cues he gets via every mass media outlet he sees, reads or hears seem to be directed at him personally, but the messages are deformed and cryptic. All he gets are the ads, and comes to understand that it is only the proper and continuous application of the omniproduct -- “Ubik” (use as directed) -- that is keeping his reality propped up.

Only Ubik keeps terrifying forces beyond his reach and comprehension safely at bay.

Joe never quite truly learns what Ubik is; only that it is the salvation of his reality, and is being offered you today only for the Low!Low! Price of...
“So if looming political annihilation and the end of your theocrat sprint towards Democracy’s end-zone is giving you the collywobbles, remember there is nothing as full of electorally refreshing, memory-wiping, pig-people-pleasing, Elmer Gantrifying, hyperpatriot yumminess as good ol’ fashioned American-made Ubik.

“Remember, Ubik/11/2001 changed everything, and you are either with Ubik or with the terrorists”*
*(Prolonged use may cause gastric distress, uncontrollable anal leakage and fascism.)

- posted by driftglass

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