Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Miss Wingnut 2011!

[Quick aside:  As mentioned in my previous post, this week I contributed a scholarly monograph to the Cahiers du Cinéma-like site She Blogged By Night.  The subject of my critique is the 1983 film, Yor, the Hunter From the Future, a bleak but visionary study of a post-apocalyptic society, in which the survivors of a global disaster struggle to maintain the remnants of civilization, while a mostly-nude beefy guy prances around smacking paper mache puppets with an axe.  Please click here to give it your thoughtful and considered opinion.]
The ballots are in.  The contestants have donned their evening gowns and their most purse-lipped smiles and passed in review, and you the judges have made your decision.  Tonight we are here to crown the winner of this years Beauty Is In The Beer Goggles of The Beholder Pageant.

Just to recap, the contestants are the Official Headshots of the NRO Fund-Raising Cruise Speakers.  The photos themselves are a diverse bunch -- some boast that professional sheen typical of those Glamour Shot establishments in the shabbier end of the mall, usually wedged between the Orange Julius and the Dress Barn.  Others have an oddly candid feel, as though they fell out of one of those photocopied letters people mail their relatives around Christmas, along with photos of the dog, that trip to the Chain of Lakes, and a fuzzy one of the kids playing Guitar Hero in the bonus room.  While still others make Awkward Family Photos look like a Helmut Newton portfolio.

In short, the Speakers offered up photos of themselves that demonstrated either a complete lack of vanity, or a complete lack of self-awareness, but in neither case did they seem like the sort of thing  calculated to make even a diehard Corner fan reach for his debit card.  Or as D.Sidhe marveled in comments:
There are people who would voluntarily get on a boat with people who chose these pictures to represent themselves? I'm so bothered by that. I know the point's been made before, but the buffet would only have to run out of shrimp cocktail for ten minutes before these guys were deciding which of the paying customers to eat first.
Still, maybe these photos had a subtle charm not evident upon first exposure, for as the competition ground on, from semi-finals to finals, she seemed to find herself warming to the Contestants:
I will concede that they are probably not the worst people to end up on a boat. Some of them may in fact be capable of actual kindnesses towards their fellow human beings, John Yoo might, for example, offer a choice of waterboarding *or* stress position on an indefinite detainee's birthday, and Ralph Reed may not actually use a hammer to beat to death swans born out of wedlock. Lileks, you might even imagine, could allow a runaway chained in the basement to keep her real name, even after several years.

And, okay, maybe I was hasty about demanding they each be fitted into a suitcase and left there so I could pick a winner, and despite my earlier comment it seems unfair to assume they'd start ranking the other passengers by likely degree of marbling before the buffet was out of shrimp cocktails (I think they'd probably wait until the Swedish meatballs were gone as well). 
I fully expect some of the above encomiums to wind up as pull quotes in the next issue of National Review.

Now, on to the winning Losers.

Second Runner-Up is a tie between Mark Steyn and Roman Genn:
Above, we see Steyn delivering what R. Porrofatto called "his smoldering 'I want to fuck me, too' look," while Tina was moved to declare it: "Hands down the most 'Shouldn't I be on the cover of GQ?' pose I've ever seen from someone not on the cover of GQ."

Genn sizzled in the semi-finals, handily winning the "Last Known Photograph" Division.  As Stacia said, "[I]s there anyone amongst us strong enough to not vote for Roman Genn? I think not. Roman looks like he OWNS the Monte Carlo his own body will eventually be found in."

Nigel Tufnel said, "That's not Roman Genn. That's funnyman Bobby Bitman (real name: Herschel Slansky) about to appear on the Sammy Maudlin Show."  Which, while somewhat ambiguous, I still counted as a vote.  FrJohn complimented Genn, noting that his "oddly asymmetrical eyes go well with his Jacqueline Susann hairdo," while Doghouse Riley wondered, "is that Genn's Assistant Maître-D photo? Somebody posed him in front of the men's room dividing wall?"

melior looked beneath the unflatteringly reflective surface of the image, and saw the Man Within: "I suspect his true calling to excellence would be in Most Extraordinary Nose-Hair Moustache if he put in the extensive prep time required."  Finally, R. Porrofatto pinpointed the source of the Contestant's appeal, which he eloquently summed up as "Roman Genn's Transylvanian waiter affect."

Between the Hobbity Steyn, and the Darth Vadery hair helmet of Roman Genn, this may indeed, as AnnPW predicted, "turn out to be The Year Of The Hair."

First Runner-Up was also a tie, between James Lileks and John Yoo, a mano a mano battle between Banality and Evil.
77south felt that Yoo's resume made him a cinch for the crown:  "All of the other of this creepy horror show have made their living glorifying evil, but John Yoo lived it!...Choosing anyone else would be live nominating a Rolling Stone reporter for a Grammy instead of the rock star that earned it." But Brian Schlosser felt Yoo's impressive record of real world achievement is actually his Achille's Heel:  "Yoo is the only one to be an actual architect of malice. But I think that actually puts him out of the running for this contest, on the grounds that he's too big a fish. I'd gladly vote for him in the 'Miss International Tribunal at the Hague' though."

Bidziliba ticked off Yoo's many virtues ("the cultural sensitivity of Michelle Malkin coupled with the discreet humanitarianism of Reinhard Heydrich"), but most voters seemed to agree with Korda when he said "the fact that he actually enabled Evil, as opposed to merely advocating it, puts him out of the running in a contest as good-natured as this one," since Yoo faded badly in the Finals.
As you'll recall, the task before the Judges was a simple one:  imagine that the NRO cruise ship is the RMS Titanic, and decide which Speaker (based on his or her headshot) you would most like to see re-enact Leonardo DiCaprio's final scene.  In most cases, readers had no difficulty making a snap judgment, but Lileks aroused an unusual degree of ambiguity -- or at least a bit of nostalgia for his particular brand of nostalgia.

Brian allowed that Lileks "shares my fascination and love of the defunct and ephemeral, although I think he likes them for different reasons," while Chris Vosburg opined:
Sadly, Lileks, who was up till then a normal enough fella, was one of the sad souls who went a little crazy in the aftermath of the WTC bombing. When he's not writing of politics, I still enjoy his columns. When he writes of politics, I avert my eyes, just like I do when I come across a man urinating on himself in the alley behind my apartment buiding, or when my nutty Aunt explains the efficacy of shark cartilage as a cancer cure."
There were also practical reasons to favor the diminutive matchbook hoarder.  "If we're heading into ice berg territory," remarked heydave, "I'd only feel safe with Lileks strapped to the prow, his forehead of dumbitude crashing our way through to safety.

But I think Stacia best summed up Lileks' qualifications, and why he -- a relative latecomer to the ranks of wingnut pundits -- annoys me more than contestants who have spent a lifetime being insufferable little bullshit flumes:
Yoo's crimes against humanity notwithstanding, I think the worst conservatives are the sneaky conservatives, which is why my vote goes to James Lileks. He's one of those semi-closeted celebrity conservatives like Michael J. Nelson, Scott Adams or Alton Brown, on one hand aware enough to know they would be loathed by most fellow humans if their political beliefs were to get significant press, yet egotistical enough to believe their popularity is in part due to their backwards worldview. Lileks sits on his webpage, poised like a Venus Flytrap baited with hipster humor and memories of the good old days, sure he will eventually convert lost liberals in dire need of his guidance.

But mainly it's because he looks like the creepy window-peeper gas station attendant character in every film noir from 1942 through 1949 inclusive.
Certainly can't argue with that last point!  So, in the event the Winner is unable to perform his duties, James Lileks will go to the Sears Family Portrait Studio and pose for some more passport photos that make him look like a sandblasted clown.

Now, the moment I'm sure we've all been waiting for...The coronation of Miss Wingnut, 2011!  And the clear favorite, by a landslide margin of 3 votes is...
The Pox from Fox.  The Mug who brings the Smug.  The man whom Erica Jong probably would have called "the Lipless Fuck" -- Cal Thomas.

In addition to the many other laurels Cal has earned during a seemingly never-ending career, he is also known throughout the Netherlands as...Well, let's let legacy Dutchman Chris Vosburg explain it:
You may recall that Cal Thomas went off on Dutch euthanasia laws in a column back in 2004, and didn't stop there: prostitution, drugs, immigration, you name it, everything about the Netherlands was wrong, wrong, wrong. As final insult, he finished his column with the observation "All of this in a country where the Nazis murdered Ann Frank just because she was Jewish and therefore less than human."

Denizens of the fierce little undersea kingdom promptly responded with a google bomb linking Cal Thomas inextricably to the search phrase ignorant asshole.
This was news to me (I am clearly not aware of all internet traditions), so thanks for bringing a bit of international flavor to the Pageant, Chris.

Brian also honored the spirit of the competition, while looking deep within his own soul for the answer:
So that leaves me to vote based on the most important criterion: "Who's picture makes me want to punch them in the mouth the hardest?"
Scripto introduced a personal angle into the deliberations ("He reminds me of my long hair grabbing prison guard dickhead great uncle. Only more wordy.") while Suezboo asked an important question which I don't believe Cal has ever adequately addressed before:  "Is that short for Callous Bastard?"

Well, it is now, Suezboo, and I'll be heading off to Cal's Wikipedia page immediately after the Pageant to share this little known fact with the rest of the world ("Thomas was named after his father, Callous Thomas II, and his mother, Amelia Bastard, of the Boston Bastards...").

Ultimately, though, when you get past all the glitz and the glamour, the kleig lights and ballyhoo, this contest is about one thing:  America.  And no one summed up what America means today better than Doghouse Riley:
I guess I just wasn't meant for a time when wingnuts like Lileks and Genn would come up through a sort of farm system, like Texas' Miss America Corporation, and employ high-priced hair stylists and fashion consultants. It's like watching a bike race where everybody's coked to the gills on human growth hormone, except in this case it doesn't make anyone faster, or stronger, or, god knows, better looking, just tone deaf enough to continue.

So, Cal Thomas, the last surviving artifact of an optimistic time when we could say, "If we can just hold out until Cal Thomas dies of ugliness and impacted mucus this shit'll be over.
Personally, I'm still holding out for that iceberg.  Oh, I know the NRO Coin Cadging Cruise is scheduled to ply the pellucid waters of the Caribbean, but a fella can dream, can't he?  Besides, that didn't stop Christopher Lee in The Castle of Fu Manchu.

Thanks to our fine panel of judges, and congratulations to all the contestants.  Keep reachin' for the stars, and keep staring into the camera with the soulless, glassy gaze of an taxidermied beaver.


James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Can I just express my gratitude and eternal admiration for the lovely s.z., who gave birth to this idea back in the days when it seemed mocking laughter might be enough to drive these fucks back under ground?

And to Scott, of course, for the remarkable accomplishment of keeping it vital. And a collection of correspondents so good I laughed myself silly re-reading those comments.

Dear me, there must be something in my eye. Maybe it's just that this is the first time I can remember having voted for the winner.

heydave said...

Wait!... So that leaves me to vote based on the most important criterion: "Who's picture makes me want to punch them in the mouth the hardest?"
Aw, fuck, nobody told me!

Yeah, I just assumed that urge to punch Smug McFuck was an innate bodily reflex we all shared; didn't realize that's what we were voting on. Oh well.

As for laurels of heaping praise, may I just add that people around me now know that I wish to die in one of two ways: on a golf course (why the fuck not?) or being shot a the jealous husband of a supermodel astronaut scientist. For that second version of an exit door, I have s.z. to thank; never forget you girl!

Scott's cool too!

Brian Schlosser said...

Congratulations to the lovely winner, and let's all pray that those rumored sexting photos never come to light!

Chris Vosburg said...

Can't believe that I missed it earlier, especially after Stacia's comment that Lileks "looks like the creepy window-peeper gas station attendant character in every film noir from 1942 through 1949 inclusive," but the picture Scott just put up for him in this post finally did it:

Lileks does bear a strong resemblance to Elisha Cook Jr.

Anyway, hurray for Cal Thomas, and I hope he pukes on all the courtesans on the cruise ship before falling over the side.

Marion in Savannah said...

There may not be icebergs in the Caribbean, but we can pray for a huge, powerful, and extremely localized waterspout, can't we? Of course, there's the problem that the poor thing would vomit after swallowing the Ship of Fools...

(as a spectacular bonus my "are you human" word was uroweast. Can't make that shit up...

Brian Schlosser said...

We can always hope something like this happens:

Blue Water, Savage Death!

Though I feel bad for that foreground shark...

Scott said...

That foreground shark looks like it's being buggered by Gorgo. (So I guess how bad we should feel bad for it hangs on the issue of consent.)

Brian Schlosser said...

Scott, you've sullied my childhood memories of innocent, violently bloody, dinosaur themed trading cards.

Scott said...

Brian: Excellent! Then my work here is done.

Marion: Second the waterspout idea. I'd also be satisfied with a gigantic, Poseidon Adventure-style rogue wave.

D. Sidhe said...

Is wagering allowed? Can I put my money on them inadvertently sharing tainted booze and melding into a slimy, decaying, multi-headed globster a la Leviathan? Then we can make them fight it out with the creature from DeepStar Six (composed, Sphere-style, of the folks from Red State). May the best murderous blob win!

Or, you know, Deep Rising. As Doghouse observes, pointing and laughing isn't actually working, which is admittedly no reason to stop.

Also, Stacia, I think I love you. I just wanted to put that out there.

Anonymous said...

Caribbean, NRO cruise, Krakken.

Who needs icebergs?


Kathy said...

Perhaps some Greenpeace "terrorists" will go after them. You know they're killing the Sea.

Anonymous said...

D. Sidhe, re: "waterboarding or stress position" I think that's what is known as (or at any rate one definition for) "pulling a Hittite". Per Richard Armour, author of the exhaustive history of warfare, It All Started with Stones and Clubs, the Hittites were pioneers, introducing the concept of choice into the fates of vanquished enemies, "would you rather be impaled or flayed, they would ask considerately".

Chris, but Lileks would never want to be associated with labor rights, even fictionally. Remember Cook, Jr. in Hammett?

Hammett: "Kit, this is Eli, the last of the IWW organizers."
Kit: "Are you really a Wobbly?"
Eli: "Ah, no, that's just Hammett talkin', what I am now is more of an anarchist, with syndicalist tendencies".


Stacia said...

So, let's say Cal dodges the iceberg and instead is, oh I don't know, hit over the head with an errant ice bucket instead. And then Lileks is found accidentally frozen under an ice rink? Would Yoo be third in line for the iceberg?

This is all purely hypothetical, you understand. This isn't an ice bucket in my hand, it's a new kind of fez. No, really. And this is 100% NOT a vial of genetically-enhanced Legionnaire's disease virii in my other hand.

I love you too, D, so much so that in the spirit of love and peace and whatnot, I will now forget that I ever learned that Lileks looks like my beloved Elisha Cook, Jr.

Kathy said...

A giant game of Clue At Sea! Was it the Loadpants in the Cafe with a brochette? Or the AG in the pool with a life-saver? Or the prissy-smug-religio in the Chapel with a plastic cross?

Kordo said...

Clearly, it falls to me to give the minority report.
Cal Thomas slithered into that tiara purely by virtue of the 30 Rock-Effect (the sentimental urge to honor past glories in the inaugural year of a given contest).
There, I said it.
Yes, Cal is malicious stupidity made flesh; I don't deny this. His fecal ruminations have been spattering the editorial pages & Sunday news shows of America for longer than I've been alive; longevity deserves recognition, and even a certain respect. It's undeniably true that Cal has forgotten more about servicing Powerful Scum than most of the supine, amoral lizards competing here will ever learn.
This worthy contest, however, is not about Talent, or Endurance, or even Gag-Reflex Suppression (though I cannot deny that particular skill is vital, if one looks to compete at this level).
It is about Headshots. As scott put it "...the task before the Judges was a simple one: imagine that the NRO cruise ship is the RMS Titanic, and decide which Speaker (based on his or her headshot) you would most like to see re-enact Leonardo DiCaprio's final scene.".
I must disagree with the majority of excellent and admirable Judges here when I say, by that standard alone, Mark Steyn has been robbed of his crown. Mr. Thomas's entry gives the impression that immediateley prior to the photo session he had taken a three-days-of-corn-tacos dump on FDR's grave. I don't deny it's a strong entry. In defense of my position, however, I must point out that Cal Thomas always looks that way.
Mark Steyn, in contrast, had to dig deep. He reached down inside himself, and pulled up from the sewer of his psyche a gem of pure and unadulterated narcissism. A Zoolanderian Look beyond Evil or Silliness. Riley, susan, or scott might perhaps find the words with which to parody it, if anyone could; it is beyond my abilities.
Thus, this gauche public dissent from the will of the majority. I don't expect to change any minds, and I hope no one takes this as an indication of bad feelings on the part of the author. From here on out, I will hold my peace.
As proof of my good sportsmanship, I would like congratulate Miss Wingnut on the victory, and offer my fond hopes that Hurricane Irene proves as accurate and effective as the iceberg was.

ps- "Transylvanian waiter affect". I peed myself a little laughing at that.

Liz212 said...

Wait, Michael J Nelson is a secret conservative?? Are you going to totally ruin my life and tell me Gypsy is part of Concerned Women for America?

Scott said...

I doubt it, Liz. After all, Gypsy wrote and performed in her own One Woman Show, Gypsy Rose Me!, which would make her a part of the Hollywood elite. And you know what they're like.

Anonymous said...

according to Dorothea Tanning's memoir, Gypsy was the first collector of her work, as well as that of her good friend Joseph Cornell. Hard to imagine her as a CWA type.


Kathy said...

Back in my "Silicon Valley Days" (much nicer weather than "Death Valley Days"), I used to visit the coffeeshop-bookstore Printer's Ink in Mountain View and read all the discarded papers I could collect up, especially the Editorials & letters pages (it was pre-internet). And dammed if Cal Thomas sneering/repressed molester's face wasn't "represented" on nearly every Editorial page, from the NYT (I think) to the Chicago papers, to the SJ Mercury.

I used to set my coffee cup & saucer right over his ugly phiz.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The Columbus Dispatch regularly runs Cal Thomas (and Doughy Pantload) 'editorials'.

Anonymous said...

"Who's picture makes me want to punch them in the mouth the hardest?"
As a Great Thinker once said,
"Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years."

commie atheist said...

Roman Genn is Bobby Bittman with the sense of humor (such as it is) surgically removed.