Hot Talk

By FatTissimo

Folks, as you may or may not be aware, I’m not much of a gamer.

Oh, I play when I can.  Free time being what it is nowadays, with work, school, gym time, and the occasional phone call from the Pope… long story.

Anyway, with the daily mishegas of daily life, I thought I’d give a review of one of the games out there right now that’s captured my attention, Hitman 2.

Upon first viewing, I admit, I wasn’t bowled over.  I mean, isn’t it like a million other shoot ‘em ups out there?  Please.

Then I started seeing the layout.  Noticing the characters.  Sensing that there was a strategy to this madness.  Okay, it’s not madness; it’s SKILL. 

As the main character, it’s your job to fulfill “contracts” on the various assignments you’ve chosen – drug dealers, mob bosses, etc.  And it’s not all strength and muscle – you have to use the most important muscle you have at your disposal.

Excuse me, I’m being interrupted by a nosy co-worker.  What’s that?  What are you…?!?!?!?  PUT  THAT AWAY, YOU PERVE!  I didn’t mean THAT muscle, SICKIE!!!

Your BRAIN.  You have to use your mind.

Example:  you have to infiltrate the penthouse of a high-rise building, where your latest target – a Colombian drug lord – is visiting while in town.  Surrounded by his crew and several bodyguards on all floors, it’s your job to find a way to get to him, “neutralize” him, avoid and/or kill his henchman, and escape undetected.

Easy?  You’ve been watching too many bad movies on cable.  First question:  how do you infiltrate the building?  Pose as a guest?  One possibility:  Impersonate a member of the staff?  Another one.  Sneak in through one of the apartments, pose as a waiter, poison his food?  Yet one more.

The beauty of it is, all of these can work, or there might be more options you may not have thought of yet.  Other scenarios could have you posing as a mailman, or simply shooting it out. 

But then you have other problems.  What to do with bodies once you’ve killed them?  Have to stash them, but where?  And what if someone hears you as you infiltrate the target?  What then?  When do you use your guns, and when do you hold back? 

This is the sort of strategy that’s not only appealing, but potentially addictive.  It might even awaken some dormant parts of yourself that you may not thought you have… eh, best not go there. 

Anyway, I recommend this game.  Good strategy, great graphics, interesting byplay and always thinking, thinking, thinking.

In short, good hunting.


6/6/02 FatBango’s Top-5 Lamest Things at E3

By FatBango

Last year it was sucky things at the show.  This year, it was lame things.  Yeah, we can all point to the games and say, “Hey man, they were cooler than last year!”  One has to remember that technology has advanced another 365 days.  That means of course the games are going to be cooler, otherwise those flakey and egocentric artists wouldn’t be pulling their weight now, would they?  On to my top-5 suckage of 2002 E3 list.

#5 Warcraft III – this looked exactly like the build of the game Blizzard was showing last year… and the year before… I’m not sure what those team members are doing down there in southern California all year round, but it sure ain’t working on the game.  They gotta stop hittin’ the nudie joints and gay bars and finish up the damn game already.  People are tired of seeing it at E3.

#4 All those unemployed industry people looking, no begging, for a job.  It’s enough to make me want to build a shanty out in the middle of nowhere out of sight of any form of technology and drink booze until my liver gives out.  What sad, sorry cases and excuses for ex-industry people.  There’s a reason you were laid off, losers!  It’s because you suck!  That, or you worked for 3DO.

#3 Duke Nuke’m Forever – Again with this lame shit?  And again it wasn’t shown on the show floor.  Is it possible 3D Realms is never going to bring this game out?  Oh, I’d have to give the big thumbs up on that one.  I can’t say this game is challenging Daikatana’s or Diablo 2’s record for the most E3 show appearances, because I just don’t think looping videos count.  Or do they?  This is the biggest piece of vaporware ever, and I’m no longer going to follow this game.  I’ve given up!  Do you hear me, Scott Miller?  I’ve given up on this game.

#2 The Eidos Booth – Talk about a company past its prime.  These guys are in the long slide into oblivion.  And bankruptcy.  They had nothing good to show and what’s left of their brands are dying out.  No, Laura Croft has ceased to be an exploitable brand after the movie.  The lamest part was those dorky Eidos PR guys trying to get the crowd rallied up for an appearance of Lara Croft.  Hey, Eidos, unless the bitch comes out naked, nobody cares anymore!  Her big boobs and tight body can only sustain a company for so long. 

#1 Sony Online/Verant – These guys had arguably 2 of the biggest games at the show: Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest 2.  Yet they still chose to create this pathetic closed booth, which was only open to people who showed up with an admittance pass taken from an E3 Show Daily news mag.  They even staffed the reception desk with a huge bouncer to toss people out on their flabby asses should the need arise.  The problem with their admittance policy:  it caused those rabid fans to steal stacks of E3 Show mags to pull out the passes.  I saw one poor loser bring a stack of 50 or more passes up to the huge bouncer, who scanned each and every one of them.  Not a single pass was good, so the bouncer turned the poor nerd away.  Talk about kicking sand in a guy’s face!  Bad booth idea, Verant.  Hope the advertising fee for the Show Dailies was worth it.  You earn the Lamest Thing of E3 2002 Award.


11/14/01 Parting Shots:  The End of an Era

By FatSlicky

At the end of this week I’m going to be departing Fatbabies as a regular contributing member and the “Head Fatbaby.”  It’s been a great ride these 2.5 years and we’ve exposed a ton of dirt on just about every loser there is in this industry, yet more and more continue to surface.  Amazing, isn’t it?  First the Hollywood nut-jobs, then the DOT-bombers, and through it all those of us dedicated to the development of quality games have persevered.

Fatbabies, for me, has been a bastion of seeming calm in an industry of chaos.  Funny how that reads, isn’t it?  The industry is all fucked up, yet this website is somehow reassuring.  I know many, many of you feel the same way–we have received countless emails of praise and thanks for what we are doing here.  But…

I’m tired though and need a rest from it all.  At the end of this week I shall be departing my job in the gaming biz and moving on to, believe it or not, the resort entertainment industry!  You know Vegas, Monte Carlo, Atlantic City?  That’s the resort entertainment industry.  Casinos, the smell of money, flashing lights, scantily clad babes, watered down booze, plastic chips, high hopes, prayers of luck, and the land of broken dreams.  That’s where I’m headed, and it should be a welcome relief from all the game industry crap I’ve faced these past many years.

I wanted to thank each of you, my Fat Fans, for all your contributions and support!  I also want to thank my fellow partners in crime, Fatties Bango, Insider, Mamacita, and Tissimo for their assistance in running this den of deviants, because without them it would not have been possible.  We have made a difference.  Thanks also to the Portal of Evil Network, who really gave us major exposure.  While I will still be a gamer and may, from time to time, contribute articles or stories, I go from being “the guy who reveals the dirt” to now simply just “a guy.”

FatSlicky is retired!  It feels good to type that… honestly it does.  It saddens me somewhat, but for the most part I know that I’m leaving with Fatbabies at the pinnacle of greatness–the website is receiving the highest number of hits in its history, we are the buzz of the ENTIRE industry, we brought down the entire UGO gaming alliance network (woohooo!  I hated those bastards), we made powerful executives like Larry Probst, Greg Fischbach, Bruno Bonnell, and Neil Nicastro QUAKE IN THEIR ARMANI SUITS!  We were/are the bane of the corporate suits.  Hot damn that’s a good feeling!

FatBango will be taking over the reigns from now on.  Please give him your support.

My email address will remain, but mostly to prevent anyone snatching my identity.  Any mail to me will forward to FatBango as well.  It shouldn’t take too long before the porn lists you people signed me up for fills up and overflows my email capacity.  What joy!

All my best,


10/10 I’m a Believer

A Short Ode to the Understated Genius of Neil Diamond
By FatTissimo

Fattissimo here, reflecting on an artist who, outside of his loyal circle of fans, has been the subject of ridicule and punchlines, his music the foundation of the phenomena known as “Elevator Music”.   A musician whose songs have been in, out and back again, out of fashion, then back again, regardless of climate, pop culture, or mass taste.  A man immortalized in not one, but TWO movies:  The Jazz Singer (1980), and the more recent
Saving Silverman (2000). 

The artist in question? 

Mr. Neil Diamond.  The man, the myth, the LEGEND.

I hear some of you out there snickering.  “Fattisimo,” you’re saying, “how can you, the arbiter of all that’s cool and hip, consider NEIL DIAMOND a musical icon?”

My answer is:  quite easily.  You want proof?  Okay, but remember, you asked for it.

Fact one:  A student of New York University in the 1960’s, Mr. Diamond felt the artistic desires and creative fires burning within him to write music and songs for all the world to hear.  Keep in mind that the Neil we know of today was most definitely NOT the Neil back then.  Caught in the conflict of finishing his degree or satisfying his creative muse, he chose the former and left to pursue his destiny.

The catch (isn’t there always at least one?) is that, yes, he did leave his degree unfinished, but it’s the timeframe that’s worth noting.

He didn’t leave in his freshman year, some 18 year old snot nosed naïve bastard whose ego outweighs his talent.  He didn’t leave in his sophomore year, 19 years old, young dumb and full of…well, you can finish the thought.  Junior year?  Nope, at twenty and twenty one years old he hung out with his friends, a full citizen of the university nation. 

He left in his senior year.  At the beginning?  Ah, there’s the rub.  Not at the beginning.

Our boy Neil left SIX MONTHS before graduation.  He had one more semester to complete, then he would have been complete with a BA degree, youth, and talent on his side.

F*ck the Sex Pistols, what Neil did, THAT’S PUNK ROCK!!!!

Fact two:  Mr. Diamond, upon leaving school, went out west.  After some struggling, he finally began to earn a living as a songwriter.  Check that.  He began to make a rather good living as a songwriter.

The Monkees’s pop classic “I’m a Believer”?  Written by Neil Diamond. 

Didn’t know that, DID YA?!?!?!?!?!

The Urge Overkill gem “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”, from the “Pulp Fiction” movie and soundtrack?  Written and first performed by none other than…

You guessed it.  Neil Diamond.

And that’s just a sampling of the hits this man’s created.  Consider the following, and don’t kid yourself, at some point in your life you’ve hummed and sung along to one of these gems:

Forever in Blue Jeans
Sweet Caroline
Crackling Rosie
Coming to America
Song Sung Blue
Cherry Cherry

C’mon, everyone has these songs in their heads.  You may be able to avoid the radio, but in the elevator? 

Neil’s there.


Look, it’s Neil!!

And lest you think, like the fluff that N’Sync, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys peddle, Neil’s songs have no substance, consider the following lyrics:Money talksBut it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t talk As long as I can have you here with me I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans

Honest.  Straightforward.  Heartfelt.  REAL. 

And for all my verbal brilliance 8-), I know that I could never write lyrics as simple or as brilliant as Neil’s. 

It’s a fact that writing a song is not the easiest thing in the world.  Conveying an idea, creating a story, characters, within a song is not a matter of writing words to paper and BOOM!  You have a moneymaker.  If it was, EVERYONE would have a hit song. 

Only a few have the gift. 

Even fewer use it consistently, and can sustain a career doing so.

It can be heard in songs like the soul stirring melody of “Heartlight,” the playful, flirtatious “Sweet Caroline”, and the strange, inviting sounds of “Kentucky Woman”. 

Fine, you say.  He can write a song.  How is he live?

Oh, you want to know how the man does LIVE?

Check out the thousands, even HUNDREDS of thousands, of fans that flock to his concerts.  From Seattle to Miami, San Francisco to New York, Neil has, most definitely, a FOLLOWING.  Some have been fans for years, dating back to his beginnings in the 60’s, while others are young enough to be Neil’s grandkids.  His shows have been described as “mesmerizing,” “enticing,” “hypnotic,” and “enthralling.”  This, most clearly, is the measure by which all musicians can and should be judged. 

Neil BRINGS IT.  Every performance, every note, every gesture, it is fully and completely NEIL.  He leaves his body, heart and soul on the stage at the end of each performance.  Because of that, is it any wonder that he has the cult-like following (they follow him, like a CULT!) and the types of fans that he has? 

So I ask you once again:  who has the gift, the magic, the musical je ne sais quoi?

The Beatles?

James Taylor?

Joy Division?

Carol King?

New Order?

Joni Mitchell?

Count Neil among them.  He has more than earned his way into this elite circle.


9/27 Squarepants!!!!!

By FatTissimo

An Ode to the Yellow One

Oh Spongebob Squarepants
So yellow, quite mellow, yeah!
Love crabby patties!!!!!

(Listen to the theme song as you read the article.  It’s a 2 meg file.)

There is a phenomenon in animation that is sweeping the nation.  It involves a walking, talking, yellow sponge, who lives under the sea, wears shorts (some would say culottes), a tie, works as a fry cook, and whose best friends are a starfish, squirrel, squid, and crab.

This cartoon, arguably the most popular in the nation, is gaining more and more converts each day.

The name?

Spongebob Squarepants.

Dear reader, you know that I criticize and demean with the best of them.  My verbal poison, lethal in one drop, is administered only to the deserving.  My prose is a bullet, able to cover distances like a sniper.  You know this of me, SUCH IS FATTISSIMO!!!

That being said, my likes, my admirations, are equally praised.  My passions are varied, sometimes subtle, sometimes glaring, but always enjoyed to their fullest.  When I love, my energies are expended completely, left on the battlefield with my weapons of choice.

I can say, fully, that I LOVE Spongebob Squarepants.  It is a cartoon ostensibly for children (airing on Nickelodeon), but there’s an adult sensibility to it that makes me feel no shame for viewing.  It has that balance, much like the Simpsons, of appealing to the children and, at the same time, bringing out the child in the most hardened, cynical grown-up (which I am, at least according to state and federal law).

It is a theatre of the absurd, played out on an undersea stage.  The main characters are:


A yellow, square sponge, Spongebob is employed as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, the main restaurant in Bikini Bottom, the town where our story takes place.  He can detach and reassemble himself at will (being a sponge and all), and is always one the alert for Sandi, in case he has to use his recreational karate skills.  Spongebob lives in a giant pineapple, loves his job, is forever trying to pass his boating exam (think of the DMV test), and likes crabby patties.  Despite trying his best, there are times when his earnestness and enthusiasm works against him, and those in close proximity.  Nevertheless, he never sees life in a less than glowing light.


Next door neighbor of Spongebob.  He lives in a smaller version of the Easter Island Head, and is, though he wishes to God it wasn’t so, Spongebob’s hero.  He is boring, unimaginative, and completely devoid of any charm, charisma, or personality.  His idea of fun?  Playing the clarinet (badly) and reading Scientific Journal on a Friday night.  He has an annoying, nasal laugh, believes interpretive dance is the only one worth doing, and is forever being annoyed at Spongebob’s attempts towards being neighborly or friendly.  Yet, deep down, though he would be LOATHE to admit it, he really does care about his little yellow neighbor.


Spongebob’s sparring partner, land dweller, and all around buddy.  Hailing from the great state of Texas (of which nary a bad word is said in her presence – trust me, it wouldn’t be wise to badmouth Texas to her face), she’s the only land dweller currently living in Bikini Bottom.  Being a squirrel, and thus having no ability to breathe underwater naturally, she lives in an underwater dome filled with grass, trees, flowers, her treehouse, and the driest, cleanest air under the sea.  Consistently thought of by Spongebob as the smartest, most practical of his friends.


Probably Spongebob’s best friend in the world.  A starfish who’s fond of wearing Hawaiian print shorts, he’s not the smartest, nor the brightest… oh hell, he doesn’t know how to spell IQ most of the time.  What he lacks in brains, however, Patrick makes up for in heart and loyalty.


Owner of the Krusty Krab, and boss of both Spongebob and Squidward.  A money-
hungry, greedy sort of crustacean, he’s always on the lookout for new ways to make money, or barring that, any spare change on the floor or in the street.  Believes generosity involves giving free water to his customers.  Despite his avarice, he believes in looking out for his employees, and offers advice to them whenever he can.

As you can imagine, there are numerous adventures that this crew gets into.  Examples?  There was the time that Spongebob tried to cheat on his boating exam using Patrick and a walkie talkie.  Or the time Squidward used a time machine to escape from the Spongebob and Patrick, only to learn that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

There was the muscle and strength competion Sandi and Spongebob competed in… oh!  The time that Mr. Krabs, Sponge and Patrick went looking for buried treasure and encountered the ghost of Long John Silver, the unforgettable Halloween costume Patrick made for Spongebob…

The list is endless. 

The animation?  Well done.

The characters?  Believable and humourous.

The stories?  Moves at a goodly pace, and the viewer laughs at the right moments.

The philosophy?  Again, first rate.  Wait, you may be saying, what philosophy could possibly be in a cartoon? 

Trust me, it’s a beautiful thing.  Honestly, how many of us are bound by the mortgage, tuition, rent, phone bills, car payments?  How many of us go after the bigger, better, faster, MORE of the world?  Be honest with yourselves.  I’ve fallen into this mindset, I’m afraid to say.

The philosophy is this:  Spongebob is that rarest of creatures, one who’s HAPPY with his lot in life.  He is happy being a fry cook, churning out the crabby patties for the customers of the Krusty Crab.  Is he using his position to get more schooling, or undermine Mr. Krabs, or use it as a stepping stone to something bigger and better?

No, no and no.  He’s a fry cook because he LIKES being a fry cook.  Simple as that.

So what sets this show apart from, say, Rugrats, or Hey Arnold!, or even Keenan and Kel?

Two things come to mind:

 1) The humour.  Of course, you may say, but it’s more that just fart jokes.  This cartoon has some of the slyest, wittiest cultural references this side of the Simpsons.  One episode in particular, dealing with 60’s era Batman-like superheroes who were well past their prime, made smart us of the style and jokes used in that camp TV classic.  The fact that the characters are so well developed, so true in terms of emotions and situational feelings, makes this show top notch.  You can have all the fart and pee pee jokes you want, but unless you, the viewer, become invested in the show, you won’t stick around.  Which leads to my second point…

 2) The characters.  It’s rare that a show grabs hold of you and takes you on a half hour journey into the life of its character, and even rarer if the viewer comes back week after week.  Why?  Because we CARE about who we’re watching.  We, as an audience, become invested in the plights and stories of the players on the stage before us.  We want to know what happens to them, how they handle their dilemmas, and what comes next.  We CARE, plain and simple.  And like any investment, we like to see it pay off not only in laughs, but in the release that is afforded by it. 

The Simpsons had an episode that looked into the future, centered around Lisa’s wedding.  We found out what happened to the Simpson clan as Bart, Lisa, and Maggie became adults, how Homer and Marge dealt with their advancing years, and what became of the rest of the citizens of Springfield.  It was funny, sly, intelligent, and strangest of all, quite moving. 

Because I wanted to know what happened to them, to all of them.

I believe that this show has the same intelligence, wit, and charisma that the Simpsons has, and continues to have.  Speaking only for myself, I find I’m hypnotized by the life that Spongebob leads, free of the constraints of the material world. 

He has his home, a converted pineapple.  He has his job, which he loves.  He has Gary, his pet snail.  And he has his friends.

In the world of Spongebob, that’s all he needs.

Maybe there’s a lesson for all of us in there, somewhere.


9/20 Live From the Machineworks

Henry Rollins and the Rollins Band
The Fillmore
By FatTissimo

Fattisimo here, once more into the breach.  Your humble arbiter of political and social culture had the honor of seeing one of the hardest men in entertainment take the stage two weeks ago.  The man in question? 

Henry Rollins.

First off, let me say that I am not a journalist in the traditional sense.  I’m biased, I freely admit it.  I am a fan of, and planned to enjoy the vocal and song stylings of, the man and the band onstage.  That’s why I put down my hard-earned cash down for the ticket. 

Having said that, I can also say, honestly, that a lot of the music I see out there now is just…bullcrap.  Let me pick on the easy targets:  N’Sync and Titney – I mean Britney – Spears.  Giving this some thought, tell me if my reasoning makes sense.

The teenybop crap acts mentioned above have the lights, lasers, choreography, dancing, props, and all the other related minutiae inherent to their shows.  But… where’s the good songs?  Where’s the songwriting, the lyrics that speak to the audience?  Where, in short, is the SUBSTANCE?

There is none.  N’Sync, The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, and the rest of them –  in five years, will people still be humming their songs, and putting them up on the pedestal of pop culture?  I doubt it. 

They make music to which you can wipe your ass.  Nothing wrong with it, if you like that crap.  Just not my musical cuppa tea, comprende?

I think of myself as a normal, everyday kinda guy, and that extends to my music, too.  The type of music that I love, it’s…elemental.  It just gets me, and in turn I get IT.  Groups and musicians like Joy Division, New Order, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, Depeche Mode, James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Chrissy Hynde, Debbie Harry, and Talking Heads, to name a few,  I still know them and their music, all these years later.  What does that say?  Maybe it’s more indicative of me, but this is a sampling of the music I like.

It’s hard to explain.  Perhaps the best way is like this:  some people like chocolate ice cream, while some like vanilla.  Me?  I like strawberry.  You get my drift?

Maybe this’ll be a better illustration.  When Rollins rolled out with the Rollins Band (which is also a group in itself, known as “Mother Superior”), he had IT.  Stage presence, charisma, call it whatever you want, one look at the audience, and BOOM!  He had all of us in the palm of his heavily muscled hand.

The added effect is that the Fillmore is simply a large, converted dancehall, a ballroom that Bill Graham purchased in the late 60’s to put on shows by some of the best acts around – Aretha Franklin, the Who, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King, the Pretenders, the Cure, Jane’s Addiction, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, etc.  It has a rich, storied history.

Rollins did everything he could to add to that legacy.  And I’m happy to say that he didn’t disappoint.  To say that he’s full of energy is insulting.  To think that he sang at full volume is an injustice.

He gave new meaning to what “energy” and “volume” mean.  Check that:  he REDEFINED what these terms mean.  Clad only in black gym shorts, showing off the impressive tattoos he’s accumulated over his years on earth, he sang, screamed, and preached to the masses, exhorting the virtues of spiritual strength, self-reliance, and plowing through the annoyances and roadblocks that humans encounter in everyday life. 

He’s a warrior-monk, a sinew and muscle bulldozer that destroyed all preconceived notions that the novice may have had and broadened the depth of meaning of the hard core followers among us.

He had, unlike most groups in music today, SOMETHING TO SAY.  No trite love songs by teenyboppers who sing in idealized tones, or imagined angst sung by pseudo-rock millionaires, he instead perched on the front of the stage, surveyed all that he could in the hazy, shimmering light/dark of the room, and communicated, with each and every one of us.

And there was a mixed crowd – old and young, gay and straight, white, black, hispanic, asian, tall, short, hairy, bald, drop dead gorgeous and the merely beautiful all mingled in one tribal group, interacting, slam dancing, and just generally enjoying the white light and screaming heat of the man and the band on-stage.  He didn’t discriminate or judge; instead, he spoke to all of us equally, instead of speaking DOWN to us.

N’Sync and the other teen crap acts of today have the sizzle, I guess.  Rollins, on this night, provided the steak.



9/12 The Needle Hits “E”

By FatTissimo

September 11, 2001

We get so caught up in the rigors of daily life and personal living, that we can become numb to the world around us.  Jobs, kids, school, bills, it’s normal to forget that there is world outside of our scope that is moving around us.

At least, until today.

Like so many others this morning, I woke up today to the news of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Southern Pennsylvania.  In my groggy, pre-morning consciousness, listening to my radio alarm go off with the latest update, my first thought was, “This is a joke… right?”  I reached for the remote, and turned on Fox News, then CNN.

It was no joke.

Watching the footage of the World Trade Center towers burning, seeing the planes slamming into the sides of the buildings, then watching as first one, then both, towers collapsing from the Manhattan skyline, is something that no one thought they would ever see in their lifetimes. 

It reminded me of a boxing match:  the first plane was the set-up punch, the jab that made us off balance, and 20 minutes later, the second plane – along with the Pentagon attack – delivered the knockout blow. 

The plane that crashed into the cornfields of southern Pennsylvania was rumored to be heading towards Camp David.  The target?  We’ll probably never know for sure. 

People scrambling on the streets of New York, crying, screaming, confused, angry, scared, numb – just minutes before the WTC fell to earth.  The brave men and women of the NYPD, NYFD, the EMS, and countless volunteers who helped and aided the people on the ground, some of whom, it’s now reported, sacrificed their lives for this cause (at last count, 300 New York firemen and women and 78 NYPD officers are feared dead.)  Approximately 250 people on the two American and two United Airlines planes that were hijacked also lost their lives. 

Until the final totals are known, it’s safe to say that thousands of families are affected by this tragedy directly, as well as millions – possibly billions – around the world, affected indirectly. 

In the aftermath of today, the inevitable questions are being asked, such as:  how did this happen?  Where was airport security in Boston?  Where was the CIA and State department, why didn’t they know about this?  What happens to air travel now?  Who’s responsible?

Yes, who’s responsible?  Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, is the most likely suspect.  He is rich, powerful, beloved by his supporters and followers, and – this may be the most important point – highly motivated against the U.S. and it’s interests. 

Will war be declared?  Wars are usually declared by one country against another, and this was a terrorist attack.  There are ways and methods to get to these killers in their own countries, and it could be a method that President Bush may employ.

This is the President’s first real test, less than a year into his presidency.  How he handles this crisis, how he composes himself, and most importantly, how he presents his solutions and options to a shaken, badly scarred American public, will in many ways determine his place in history. 

In military terms, the U.S. has some of the best trained soldiers in the world, specially trained in anti-terrorist and counter-terrorist operations, that can retaliate.  They may be unleashed to go hunting for those responsible.  The Army has its Green Berets and Delta Force.  The Navy has its SEAL teams, with the counter-terror specialists of SEAL Team Six at the ready.  The Marines have their Force Reconnaisance teams. 

In short, these are the soldiers who have trained day in and day out, for years, for this moment, and they are ready.  After today, I don’t think that there’s one American who wouldn’t support them if they were given the green light to go after the ones responsible for the lives lost today.  If the President is serious about striking back at the terrorists – and after hearing his address, I have no reason to doubt him – then he will use every resource available to show how hard the U.S. can be when it’s hit.

The terrorists did attack like a boxer, with a combination that staggered us and knocked us down.  It is now up to the U.S. to get back up off the mat, and get back in the fight.

We have to, if just so that the men, women, and children who lost their lives today aren’t marginalized.  If anything, we should do it for them.

Even if you’re not religious, please send a prayer to those who need it tonight.

We will not forget. 

Good luck, and God bless.


9/7 Oh the Places You’ll Go!!!!

Part 1
By FatTissimo

FatTissimo here, after a recent globe trotting jaunt to the Philippines.  Sudden?  Unexpected?  Absolutely.  Why?  Continue on, dear reader, for my 7 days of pacific island life, like no other…

July 20 – 22, 2001: San Francisco, USA – Manila, Philippines

Flew into the Philippines today.  Packed like sardines into the plane, but not too bad, no harsh Seinfeldian B.O.  Fell asleep before takeoff, woke up when the flight crew served the first meal.  Beef or chicken?   Chose beef, how wrong I was.  Beef or chicken?  Next time, the choice is clear:  starvation.

Slept most of the flight.  Woke up one time, saw that Keanu Reeves film set in San Francisco.  Think that San Francisco’s the only good  part of the movie.  Charlize Theron’s in it too.  Pretty, I guess, but doesn’t stir the loins.  Oh well, back to sleep.

Woke up again, there’s this Filipino movie on the screen.  About some guy in the last century, horse drawn carriages and all.  It flips forward about 100 years (must’ve fallen asleep again), the guy’s in Brooklyn, it’s the 70’s (had to be, bad haircut, huge collars on shirts, and really questionable facial hair).  Ugh.  God, how hard is it to make a movie these days?

Straight flight, 12 hours in one place.  I now know what zoo animals feel like, promise to feed them really well next time I’m at the zoo.

Arrived in Manila International at 4 AM local time Sunday, the 22nd.  Three hundred people on the flight, THREE HUNDRED!!!  Popular country!  Who knew the Philippines would be the magnet drawing our metal selves to its inviting shores?

Customs was a drag, but no real problems.  Well, there was one.  As my bags were checked and cleared, I didn’t get the traditional Filipino greeting of “Mabuhay.”  Nothing.  DAMMIT, I WANT MY GREETING!!!!!  It’s like going to Hawaii and not hearing “Aloha.”  Honestly!

Took over an hour to get the luggage (300 people, remember?)

Picked up by my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen in, well, forever.  They’re cool, kind, and decent.  I don’t think I’ve met some of them before, but hey (giving the double thumbs up sign) let’s get to know one another!!! 

Went to breakfast at this place, the Aristocrat.  Fancy title, in business since 1936.  Huh.  My folks were born in 1936.  Strange, the connections your mind makes in a different hemisphere. 

Even though 90% of me really doesn’t want to be here, I listen to the 10% that says I’m here to see my grandmother, who I haven’t seen in years.  She’s in a bad way healthwise, and she’s asked to see me and my sister, along with my mom. 

Today I also meet most of my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen in years, some I don’t remember meeting at all. 

Johnny lives with my grandmother, and he’s a riot.  He’s funny, always cracking jokes, and he’s watching out for my grandmother, so that’s cool.  He’s also the closest in age to me, so there’s that as well. 

My cousin Cecil, she’s the oldest of my uncle’s kids.  She’s a chemist for one of the pharmaceutical companies here, doing alright for herself.  My cousin Corrah’s an accountant, expecting her first child in the fall.  Both of them live in Passig, about 30 minutes away. 

My cousin known affectionately as “Junior” lives in an apartment just behind my grandmother’s, with his family.  He has three kids, and they’re all adorable.  Geneva is the oldest at eight, Adrian is two, and the youngest, Rachel, is 10 months.  Even though they’re kids, their personalities are already formed…Geneva’s real quiet and shy, but  smart.  Adrian’s the typical two year old boy, running around, full of energy and life.  And Rachel, 

So here we are.  Laissez les bon temps roulez.

July 23:  Angono, Rizal, Philippines

Slept at 5 PM on Sunday.  BEAT DOWN physically and mentally.  From the time I touched down, been operating on adrenaline, pure chemical kinetic energy.  When it leaves, IT LEAVES, and I dropped.  Up at 3:30 in the morning, looked out the window of my grandmother’s place.  Eerily silent, save for a chirping cricket here, there, and here again.  The silence’s nice.  Real nice.  Could almost touch it.  Nodded off again…

Until 4:30 AM.  It seems that the next door neighbors have roosters, four of them, and make sure that EVERYONE is up with the sun. 

It’s going to be a LONG day.

A few hours later, went running at the Holy Gardens, this national park/cemetery on the outskirts of Angono.  It’s where my mom’s family lives.  Ran a few miles, that was needed.  Been sitting on my ass too much.  Can’t be inert, must be kinetic. 

Saw two burial plots that wrecked me.  Kid coffins.  One lived just under two weeks, the other lasted just a day.  The two week old was born on July 11th.  My birthday is July 11th.  I had to physically stop.

A child dying is probably the worst thing that could happen to anyone.  Everyone deserves a shot, regardless.  I thought, one choice here, a bad gene, the wrong medicine, and I could have been the one in the coffin, two weeks old and expired.  Life’s funny, cruel, and sad, but there are moments of worthwhileness, I guess.  There’s some deep meaning to all this, but it’s beyond me to figure it out right now.

When I got back, my grandmother’s friends were in the kitchen with her.  They began speaking to me in Tagalog, the native language.  I don’t speak it, but I understand it pretty well, so naturally I answered in English.  Turns out they understand English, but maybe not well enough to answer.  So I’m in this strange conversation of English/Tagalog, but we were communicating. 

It was WAY cool.  Even my mom got a kick out of it.

Just spent most of today watching, learning and immersing myself – in the culture, the language, the food, everything.  It’s strange but okay.  Not as bad as I thought it would be, but there’s still a week ahead.  Lots could happen.


July 24: Angono, Rizal – Tagaytay

On the way back from the Gardens run, I saw two dogs in the street, having sex.  Well, I guess it was sex.  Let me explain.

One dog was white, the other brown, were in the technical sense fornicating.  The white dog (I’ll call him WC for White Chocolate), WC’s schvantz was buried in brown dog’s (SC for Sexual Chocolate) pleasure nexus.  However, there was no typical “doggy-style” happening, i.e., one dog mounting the other from behind, yada yada yada.  Uh uh, these two were facing opposite directions.  Trust me, it looked painful.  Don’t get my gist?  Think of it in human terms.  Imagine you’re with your partner, post coital bliss, when your partner decides that nature’s calling, gets up, but in her haste forgets that you’re connected, she tightens her vaginal muscles, goes toward the bathroom, you go towards the kitchen… she’s kinetic, you’re the other way, get the picture?

Chalk it up under “true love.”  At least someone’s getting some lovin’.  Even if it is a dog.

After showering and breakfast, went up to a province called Tagaytay, some hours away.  Went with an aunt named Rosie, a V8 engine of a woman.  Small in stature (she’s five feet in heels and tip toes), she has this great big belly full out loud laugh that fills up the space around her, sings when she feels like it, and is just a PERSONALITY.  I liked her immediately.  Saw some land she has up there, had lunch, and just hung out.  Actually, way cool. 

It’s nice, in the madcap, quick stillness of our world, to just hang out every once in a while.

July 25:  Angono – Manila

Wednesday, and it’s time to see the sights again, do some shopping, and immerse myself once again. 

Picked up by my aunt, and off we went to Manila.  There’s a lot to see on the way to Manila, some things I didn’t notice until today.  Example?  Okay, there are irrigated ditches and crops that are grown commercially.  These are linked to the rivers and waterways, so fish tend to come in amongst the crops.  There are farmers that harvest, and fishermen that fish.  But forget the traditional rods, reels, and baiting hooks.  No, these fishermen shoot the fish. 


Yes, shoot. These athletes of the angling arena possess air rifles, and once their tender prey is spotted, the dance begins.  At just the right moment, spear-tipped lines arch downward into the water, and either Charlie Tuna’s on the grill or lives to swim another day.  Thus, the dance continues, day in, day out, for these quiet, noble warriors and their gill and fin antagonists.

In short, I just thought it was a COOL way to fish.

Barring the shoot-fishing, it’s the shopping that I’m looking forward to the most.  The exchange rate is 53 pesos to 1 dollar.  If you don’t know what that means, well, let’s just say that the U.S. dollar goes a long, LONG way.  An illustration:  how much does two donuts go for in the U.S.?  Two bucks?  Three?  More? 

I bought two donuts for 20 pesos.  Remember the 53 to 1 exchange rate?  Twenty pesos comes to about forty cents. 

This is not a typo. 


I bought two extra large, chocolicious donuts for forty cents.

Let me say that forty cent Philippine donuts are the smoothest, lightest, and most delicious out there. 

And yes, I’m saying that with a straight face J.

And it’s not just donuts.  Souvenirs, t-shirts, you name it, and it can be gotten cheaper in the Philippines.  Food?  No worries.  Material goods?  Even better. 

There’s this one place called Shoe Mart, or SM for short.  This is a combination Nordstrom’s, Office Depot, and Target all rolled into one.  Candies, CD’s, clothing, electronics, home appliances, kitchenware, it’s all here.  On a Wednesday afternoon, it was shoulder to shoulder crowded.  Honestly, don’t these people WORK?  You woulda thought it was Ikea or something. 

Saw houses today.  A relative is thinking about buying a home here, maybe a vacation home, maybe retirement.  Saw some nice places, went between a million to five million pesos.  In dollars, that translates to $20,000 (1 million pesos) to about $100,000 (five million pesos).  That’s for a BRAND NEW HOME.  In a gated community. 

Fifty three to one.

Can’t beat that, can you?

PART 2, the 26th – 29th, coming soon.


8/24 I’m Baaaaaaack!!!!!!!

By FatMamacita

Holy shit – I go away for a few months and the forums go to complete crap!  OK they were pretty much like that before too but now they are really sucking some major d*ck.  What’s up with that folks?  I have just started to sift through all the shit – and can see that every company still sucks to work for.  According to the forums all companies suck and every manager is a worthless moron.

So I went away for a while – I went to one of those fat farms and lost some weight.  I should be called slim-mama now.  Woohoo!  Actually I was hiding out with Chandra and exchanging beauty secrets.  Mariah stopped by but she was being a bitch – kinda started to wig out so we ditched her.  I think that’s why she had her nervous break down.

I’m loving my email box folks.  Some funny guy signed me up to all the porn sites.  Cool!  I love the pics and with my new physic I can try some new positions at home with my new boyfriend – it’s a blowup doll but who’s watching right?

And just how many more articles are going to be out there on the web about “how to get a job” or “how to cope with losing your job” and “how to save money while out of work.”  Every news site has them – and they all say the same shit.  I guess people that ARE employed know all about it right?  And I’m loving all those articles floating around about “how to spend that tax return check.”  What the fuck are they thinking?  It’s frickin $300 measly dollars – not three grand!  Idiots…

That’s all for now – I need to read the forums before I can bash any more…

Always a pleasure,

P.S.  It’s nice to see that Eiger and SillyFuck are still taking it up the ass…

8/20 Where in the World is Chandra Levy?

By FatSlicky & FatBango

In a complicated world of politics, disappearances and power struggles, you race against the clock to find a missing intern. 

Everyone's favorite missing intern

You’ve heard her name.  You’ve read the stories.  You’ve formulated your own conclusions.  But now, in a vain attempt to capitalize on everyone’s favorite missing 24-year old intern, Chandra Levy, Broderbust Games has given us Fatbabies a sneak peak at their upcoming surefire hit, Where in the World is Chandra Levy?

(Click images to enlarge screenshots.)

Chandra at a B*Witched concert?  WTF?

It’s a detective game where the player is given clues as to the intern’s last known where-abouts.  The player follows the clues, using historically accurate information (say, at Democrat Congressman Gary Condit’s office), then pieces those clues together to arrive at a location where the missing girl might be.  Travelling the world is a must, so having intimate knowledge of the far reaches of the globe is a big plus.

Chandra at the Running of the Bulls

Obstacles the player will have to deal with include an overly obsessive media, whose constant questioning could possibly send you off on a wild goose chase.  Or the inept D.C. police, who might stop you briefly to chat but who would never consider you a suspect.  Perhaps even another congressman or senator, who would only help you in your search if the clues would boost their own constituent’s support.

Chandra shopping at the Mall of America

“Our development team went to great lengths to accurately portray this game as both an educational tool and an entertaining fun time to be had by all,” said Broderbust spokesman Billy Ray.  “In Where in the World is Chandra Levy? we even use actual audio clips of Gary Condit denying any involvement with the Levy girl.  It’s worthy of true evidence!”

Chandra selling products on late night TV!

The graphics are photorealistic, and best of all the game runs well even on lower end machines.  There’s nothing quite like it out there, with a fine blend of realism and humor to keep the player engrossed and coming back for more.  We do have to note that for people who become riled and upset easily, this game is not for you.  We also do not recommend it for small children, as some parts contain potential sexual content.

box shot

Look for Where in the World is Chandra Levy? at your favorite software retailer this October.

Warning:  Spoiler ahead!

-FatSlicky & FatBango 

7/27 Animal Machine

The case of Henry Rollins vs. Dr. Phil McGraw
By FatTissimo

We’ve become a nation of helplessness.

Sorry for my bluntness, but that’s how I see it.  We’ve become the society of the quick fix, the culture of the right here, right now!  Our eyes look towards the horizon for the next job, the next wife, the next job, the next monetary level, the next drug, the next high…

The next, the next, the next.

Someone once said that a society can be judged by the quality of it’s prisoners.  I’d like to tweak that, just a little.

I believe that a society can be judged by the quality of it’s icons.

And the one who’s in the crosshairs today is Dr. Phil McGraw.

Don’t recognize the name?  No worries, I didn’t know about the guy up until about a month ago.  He’s been called “America’s Therapist,” and is always on Oprah’s show, giving advice to the insecure, lovelorn, and personally confused.

Got a problem with your spouse?  Dr. Phil can help!

Too fat, and you’re depressed?  Dr. Phil to the rescue!

Can’t reveal your deepest, darkest fear?  Let Dr. Phil take your hand, he’ll know what to do.

Yes, it’s quite a gig he’s got going.  In fact, here are a few of the pearls, the bon mots, if you will, of Dr. Phil.  These are actual cases taken from Oprah’s show:Juan and Mike:  Juan wouldn’t let his son Mike leave the house in his extreme “gothic” makeup and clothing.  Juan worked to look past Mike’s look and focus on their relationship. Now that Mike has given up goth, they’re fighting about the music Mike’s band plays.

Dr. Phil’s Advice:
  – You’ve got to pick your battles. 
  – Listen to each other. 
  – Just because someone’s not doing what you want him to do, don’t be judgmental. 
  – Measure what you’re doing based on results
 Jami and Tony: Tony had an alcohol problem and wouldn’t admit it. After appearing on the show, he quit drinking for good. Jami thought all of their problems would disappear, but life’s not as perfect as she thought it would be — she can’t blame their problems on his drinking anymore. 

Dr. Phil’s Advice
  – People drink for a reason. Problems covered up by alcohol can resurface; get to the root of the problem. 
  – Get out of the role of being an alcoholic’s spouse. Realize that your partner is actively back in the marriage. 
  – Start talking — give your feelings a voice again. Be specific about what you want. 
  – Participate as partners in a life plan that excites both of you. 

Now is it just me, or is the “advice” Dr. Phil dispenses PRETTY DAMN OBVIOUS?  People drink for a reason?!?!?!?!  OF COURSE, YOU BALD FUCK!  People drink to celebrate, cover up something or lose themselves in something, or for a million other reasons!!! 

Listen to each other?!?!?!?!  Um, I may not have gone to Bovine University like Dr. Phil, but DER!!!! 

Seriously, do you want to listen to a guy who looks like Hank from “The Larry Sanders Show”?

What bothers me the most, the MOST, is that this guy is being hailed as some sort of guru, the be-all and end-all of therapeutic bliss.  Oprah’s audience (who I’ll come to in a second) eats up his words like vicodin, looking forward to his tone and attitude; indeed, Oprah always looks forward to him “telling it like it is.”

Thank God this guy is a psychologist and not a psychiatrist.  If he were able to prescribe drugs…well, I’ll leave it at that.

It’s quite a nice little scam this guy’s got going, and he’s the ultimate proof of the idiom “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  Anyone out there have the knowledge of how Dr. Phil and Oprah met?  Well, it turns out that Dr. Phil doesn’t have a practice anymore.  He gave that up a few years ago and started a psychological consulting firm in Dallas, specializing in courtroom cases.  In 1996, Oprah had to go to court after having it out with some Texas ranchers and the beef industry, her lawyer needed some help prepping her for court, and someone knew this of this psychologist…to make a long story short, they’ve been compadres ever since.

What does it say about us where a man is praised for pointing out the obvious?  He’s making MILLIONS off this, folks.  I can say the same stuff he does, but will my words hold any weight?  No, because I’m Fattissimo and Dr. Phil’s Dr. Phil.  How am I supposed to have any respect for a character who’s preying on the needs and insecurities of millions, spouts a few clichés and aphorisms, and is rewarded with wealth and fame?

This Dr. Phil, he’s not what the Brits call a hard man.  His mind, like his body, is soft and doughy, pliant at the delicate spots.  He tells the truth, sure, but you know what?  The truths he hands out have been around for years, bucking trends and fashion.  That’s why it’s endured, and you’re telling me that this guy has some new insight into human behavior, a new angle of seeing how the machine of our society should function? 

Bullshit.  Don’t buy it folks. 

Having said that, I do believe that there are people out there who can be admired and respected for their viewpoints, their truths.  You may be asking, how does this make them different from the anemic Dr. Phil?

Simple.  Meet Henry Rollins.

Henry was the lead singer for the legendary punk band Black Flag and leader of the incendiary Rollins band.  A publisher (, writer, singer, actor, and solo performer, he is, in every sense, a renaissance man.  Funny, witty, intelligent, hardcore, and immensely blunt, he simply speaks to the audience, he doesn’t speak down.

An excerpt:
“Know that humans are inherently weak and not good for much. That’s why you don’t want to have too many around you for too long. If they see that you are strong they will be attracted to you. Beware, for this is also always true about humans without exception: they will eventually attack what is strong and see it as their enemy. In their fear they display their need to bring what is seemingly above and beyond them down to their level.”
 – from Solipsist by Henry Rollins 

Read what’s there, and read between the lines as well. 

Here’s some more from Henry:

“Want a good body?  Work at it.  Want to be a success?  Work at it.  Want to be truly exceptional?  Be a touch insane… You need a little bit of insanity to do great things.” 
“I take what I do seriously.  I love it and I want to do well at it and work hard.  But I’m not serious about everything I do.”

There is a simplicity in his words, but he doesn’t preach, or nag.  He’s simply telling you his viewpoint.  He’s telling you what he’s been through, and the truth, harsh and uncompromising as it seems, he speaking honestly, and simply.

Do you see the difference here?  And trust me, there is a difference.

It is this.  Dr. Phil, with his well-placed colloquilisms, has conned the cultural collective.  Sure, he does help people to a point, but how much has he lived through?  He’s made an industry of pointing out the obvious to us, but what has he been shaped by?  His career is dependent on the suffering of others, but what is his suffering? 

Rollins, on the other hand, has LIVED it. This is a man who has been through the shit.  Who in his twenty plus years across the world has seen the best and worst of humankind.  This is a man who’s shaped his life and his self through fire and sweat and toil and sacrifice, and emerged stronger, BETTER. 
The biggest difference is in the lifestyle.  Dr. Phil has the talk show fame, the millions of books in print, and the friendship of one of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry.  In his position, can he really relate to the people in America?  He says he can, but how can he truly?  Does he have a shitty job he hates?  A marriage that he’s beginning to doubt?  A life that he’s questioning, loving and hating and loving again?

At his current position in life?

I doubt it.

Contrast with Rollins.  Yes, he is an entertainment renaissance man, but he is self-made.  After extensive research, I can tell you this about the Rollins lifestyle.  He has a modest home.  He admits that he is in no way rich, but can make his house payments and buy groceries.  His dress code consists of jeans, t-shirts and black shoes.  He works out vigorously, believing that the mind and body are one and the same, and that both must be developed to bring about a healthy spirit. 

In short, he lives his life simply, by a code and a standard.  His measure is himself.

Yes, I feel that this nation is one of helplessness.  We’re always looking for the newest fad, the latest thing.  We CAN be judged by our icons.  It reflects on us.

In closing, here are two final quotes:

“You are a dynamic organism. With every experience, you are changing and, if you use the experience properly, improving.” 

“Go without a coat when it’s cold; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it’s all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without. In times of hardship, you find out what you’re made of and what you’re capable of. If you’re never tested, you’ll never define you character.”

The question is, which one do you choose to believe to snap you out of the malaise?
Choose your weapon.



7/19 115 Million Dollar Turd

By FatSlicky

FF movie poster

The previews looked good.  The computer graphics certainly looked good.  As a fan of the games, we thought the story would be good.

Holy shit, were we wrong.  Final Fantasy the movie sucked bigtime.  Is it possible we missed something?

Aki -- pretty realistic looking.  Too bad she's emotionless.

The opening scene was filled with sweeping camera pans and obscene character close-ups.  Why?  Probably because they could, and because they wanted to show off the pores on the skin, the flowing hair, and each individual eyelash.  Basically, they wanted people to spooge over the technology.  After the sixth time, this tactic became tiring and pointless. 

Speaking of tiring and pointless, anyone remember a story in there somewhere?  How brainless was that?  Gaia shit?  Give us a break.  As if on cue, the whole movie, completely unrelated to any of the games in either character or story, seemed belched out of some glory-hound’s demon hole.  It was idiotic.  Moronic.  Absurd.  Even insulting.  The plotline seemed to be lifted directly from “Sci-Fi Movies 101” class with the typical “scientists vs. military” theme and the bumbling general who unwittingly fucks things up due to his own ego and arrogance.  As Homer Simpson says, “Booorrrring.”  Been there, done that guys, k?

Of course, how many people went for the story?  Probably not many.  It was the CG, right?  Fans of the games?  Sure, they suckered us in hook, line & sinker.  Certainly people didn’t go for the dialogue!  Which, by the way, was straight out of a 60’s Godzilla flick.  Meaning, it was awful.  Wretched.  Despicable.


And how about those characters?  Was the Deep Eyes squad lifted directly out of the movie Aliens?  If you can’t see the similarities, you shouldn’t be here.  Or breathing, for that matter.

To sum it up, shit covered with fancy graphics and effects is still shit:  big and stinky.

And Square suckered us gamers right into their huge ball of shit.  Thanks guys.

At least the Tomb Raider movie was entertaining.  Final Fantasy, sadly, was not.


7/10 Our Best?

By FatTissimo

Eyeballing the latest periodicals, I came across the latest issue of Time magazine.

The cover story?  “America’s Best.”

Yeah, you heard me.


In… well, you name it.  Art.  Entertainment.  Fashion.  Most of the areas and categories littering our cultural cul-de-sac, Time’s got it covered in this issue.

Time is my barometer for what’s happening in the arts and entertainment industries?  THANK HEAVENS!  You see, I haven’t been able to think for myself in some time, and I’ve been needing a periodical to give me direction and purpose!!

So, let’s do some analysis, shall we?

I grabbed a copy, started flipping through it, alternately amused and bemused.  Five minutes later, I left, thinking to myself that, “there’s five minutes of my life I’ll never have back.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some deserving people who made the list.  And to those who’ve made it that’ll have their cache ratcheted up a notch, cool.

But… well, I have two problems with Time:
1) Who determined the best?
2) How was it determined?

Do you see what I’m getting at?  How can you determine the “best” of something?  Or someone? 

There are artists, musicians, actors, athletes, and other folks whom I admire, and in my own biased worldview, I deem the folks on my list “the best.”  Other friends of mine have completely different people on their lists, and that’s cool.  We compare and contrast, there’s some overlap in some cases sure, but in our differences I see what makes these people cool and distinct. 

You see, everybody has a different view of what their ultimate is.  What my top band is will differ from what your top band is, and that’s fine.  Who I consider the best president in history will differ from yours.  Same goes with art, fashion, whatever.

And that’s how it should be, in my opinion.  Everybody’s different, everybody’s individual, and that’s how a culture moves forward.  Differing ideas, in an open forum, makes for a lively, moveable feast.

I guess that’s what bugs me about the magazine.  As I said, some of the folks on the list I agree with, because I know of the work and effort of the people.  What I like are the rather esoteric choices that were made.  Chris Rock as America’s best comedian?  Cool.  I’ve seen him and heard him, and think that he’s damn ugly but still drop-dead funny, and his subject range is broad and totally involving.  Do I think that there’s no other funny comedians out there?  Of course not.  But he is quite good.

The Roots as America’s best rappers?  Absolutely.  That rarity in the world of hip-hop, a rap band that’s actually a BAND.  Meaning that they write their own songs, play their own instruments, and give the audience their money’s worth.  None of this extraneous dancing, posing or smoke-and-mirrors BS you see in many live performances these days.

What can I say?  When I see these two make it (and I have been following the careers of these two for quite some time now), it’s cool that they’ve achieved this recognition.  They busted their asses, and made it.

But, there is the flip side.  Choices that, while I don’t hate, boggle my mind.  Let me start with the obvious.

Julia Roberts as America’s best movie star? 




This one’s too easy, and not even worth the effort, people.

Jon Stewart as America’s best talk show host?  Mr. Stewart’s a funny guy, but until he has a fucking heart attack and comes back harder than ever, for my money David Letterman will hold the title.

The list goes on?  Sean Penn’s the best actor?  Ira Glass the best radio host?  Steven Holl, Susan Stroman, Martin Puryear?

I’m the first to admit, I haven’t heard of many of these men and women.  Sue me.  Work, trying to stay in shape, seeing friends, writing these words – it’s hard to keep up with the culture at times. 

That’s one of the reasons why this issue bugs me.  A small group of men and women decided to anoint themselves “America’s cultural elite” and bestowed the titles of the ultimate, the best, the numero unos, to this group?  Who are they?  What qualifies them?  Who are they to tell us who is the greatest?

Another thing:  once you’re appointed the best, where do you go?  What more can you do?  You reach a peak, and then…what?  Where can this group go?  Either they maintain their status, or lose their tenuous title to someone younger, faster, more creative, intellectually sharper, or just more… well, MORE.

And would that be a bad thing?  For one thing, the pressure’s off.  These folks, out of the spotlight, can go back to doing what made so special and worthy of Time’s attention.  Let someone else have that albatross hanging around their neck.

Besides, I like to think that the artistic and cultural best of the nation are men and women we haven’t even heard of yet.  They’re doing their thing quietly, with a small but devoted fan base, happily changing people’s views and entertaining and just banging away.  They don’t need the validation from a magazine or mass acceptance. 

Remember, in the early part of the century America believed that baseball players such as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb were the best baseball players in the nation and world, conveniently ignoring Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and other stars of the Negro Leagues. 

You see, the best is not what a periodical says is true, or what a talking head on CNN believes is so.  It’s what YOU, the individual, believes in your heart and mind to be so. 

Earlier, I said that my list of “the best” is different from Time’s, and most likely from yours.  That’s cool.  Your list, like your thoughts, emotions, and reactions, are uniquely YOURS.

If you agree with Time and think their choices are correct, that’s cool.

If you disagree completely, even better.

For me, the best what you make it, really.  Whatever or whoever you think is the top, that’s it.

And as I walked away from the magazine stand, I couldn’t help but think that someone, somewhere, was reading the same issue, and laughing and smiling along with me.