Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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About two years ago, I wrote a column that doubled as a missive to the many things that bother me, things that, were I a third-rate 1980s stand-up comedian, may or may not have been preceded by, "Did you ever notice?" or "Don't you hate it when... " That column was very popular with misanthropes, the home-schooled, and shut-ins. So in that tradition, I present my second, uh, bi-annual letter to such things.

Dear Steve Dahl,

I know who you are. And I'm not stepping to you. I've never listened to your radio show, and I think the fact that you wear Hawaiian shirts all the time is awesome and comfortable. But you said this (as quoted from a Richard Roeper column): "Even I like watching 'The View' and I'm a dude. The lively discussions between the super-liberal Rosie vs. the ultra-conservative Elisabeth ... are some of the best social and political discourse on TV. It is interesting and hot to watch a crisp social and political debate between intelligent women."

My man. I want you to think for a moment about that sentence. Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Rosie O'Donnell. Social. Political. Discourse. Crisp. Debate. Intelligent.

The thing is, even if that sentence were empirically true — even if a theoretical mathematician could furiously squeak hours away on a dry erase board to show me the algorithm that proves with Euclidean precision that everything you said in that sentence was, in fact, the case, there's no excuse for saying it. Because even though we know there are a lot of very, very stupid, loud, opinionated, half-informed nit-wit women crawling all over television, along with their equally dim but exponentially more bloviating male counterparts, you just can't say that. You can't say Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Rosie O'Donnell, bareknuckle competitors in a Mortal Kombat-esque multi-dimensional Irritating Talentless Hack Tournament, are the reigning queens of female socio-political discourse. It's not just that you're acknowledging that (a) you watch "The View" (b) you enjoy said watching (c) you're sober enough while watching to retain relevant details of the broadcasts (d) you watch regularly enough to decipher patterns or (e) you become intellectually engaged by "The View." It's that you, a grown man, are taking time out of your day to get "The View"'s back.

Dear CTA,

Whenever talk of the 2016 Olympics crops up, the first thing I think about is waiting for the Chicago bus for 25 minutes before three buses, all full to bursting, pull up. Except I imagine waiting for two hours, and having 18 buses, all full to bursting, pull up.

If a piece of public transportation is never on time, and when it does arrive, it is often prohibitively uncomfortable to use, the entire point of public transportation — an efficient way to move people and relieve traffic congestion — is kind of defeated. You may want to work on that, because if the Olympics are going to be in Washington Park, the north-south buses will take six hours and "straphangers" will be replaced with "exhaust pipe hangers."

Dear That 300 Movie,

Hmm. OK. Pseudo-democratic, partially fascist, fiercely nationalistic nation is faced with a threat from brown people in the Middle East in the form of losing their supposed "freedom"; nationalistic nation is led by tough guys who want to resolve everything using violence for violence's sake, but is being held up by the wussy intellectuals in the nation's legislative body...

Triumph of the Will was more subtle. Geez, we get it, brown people are creepy effeminate weirdos who hate freedom, and we can't let the wussy intellectuals stop us from killing them. You've made your position clear.

But what is infuriating is an early scene, when Spartan king Leonidas refers to the Athenians as a bunch of "philosophers and boy lovers." Now anybody who had done enough research to write a movie like 300 would have to know that the Spartans also had sexual relationships with young boys — and by some accounts were in fact required to. But the author still felt the need to attach "boy lovers" to "philosophers," to mock as weak and effeminate (plus sexually deviant) people who care about knowledge.

And did I seriously hear a Spartan say "We die as free men"? This is the same Sparta were boys are impressed into compulsory military service at the age of 7, are forced to marry at 20, and then forbade to see their wives again for five years or so? And where people owned slaves? And where refusal to die for the state was itself punishable by death? That is the "freedom" they're fighting for?

Yeah. You were a fascist propaganda movie.

Oh, and P.S., the Spartans lost that battle. The boy-loving Athenians saved your assess at Salamis.

Dear Dane Cook,

Remember that episode of "Seinfeld" where Jerry's dentist, Tim Whatley, converted to Judaism "just for the jokes," continuing to make Catholic jokes in a supposed quest for "complete joke telling immunity"?

You're a lot like Tim Whatley. Except not with religions, or popular joke topics, but rather with Kinds Of Guy. You have somehow found a way to be anywhere between three and 12 Kinds of Guy; not sure how you did it, or how people keep letting you get away with it, but it's definitely the case.

Using MySpace and college campuses to spread your initial fame, you knew you'd have to win over the frat guy demographic — and you kind of incorporated Adam Sandler-style "frat" humor into your act, what with the annoying abbreviating and acronym-izing and penis jokes; but knowing the need to lure the female fan, you bedheaded your hair out, put on a leather bracelet and some ironic T-Shirts and got your hipster thing going on too — aww, cute and sensitive. Then, miraculously, you figured out a way to take a wild swing at John Cusack-style romantic lead with your nails-on-eyeball bad movie Employee of the Month. Now you're holding a gun to Kevin Costner's head in commercials?

Take a lesson from Shucky Ducky. Pick a kind of guy and stick with it.

Dear "Lost,"

So, you're all dead, right?

Dear That Group of Kooky Kids at the Bar/Party,

Haven't you realized, at this embarrassingly late stage in your life, that we can all tell that you want us to react to what you're doing? You seriously can't not know that we can see you casting glances around after you do some kooky antic or same some fool thing to see how the rest of us are reacting to it. Go join a third rate improv class for God's sake and leave us alone. We promise when we go to your live performance we'll yell out sexually suggestive cues to make your terrible performance a little easier.

It's as if you believe you're not actually enjoying yourself unless other people see you enjoying yourself; come to think of it, that's probably why you all always have digital cameras with you. For the love of Pete, just be a human for ten seconds.

Dear "Their Old Stuff,"

Man, you are so much better than their new stuff. You are like, just so much less commercial more about the art, and more raw, and more about the knowledge, and more just totally so awesome.

Dear "Their Old Stuff" Guys,

See above. Cf., "We get it."

GB store


redhead mafia / May 9, 2007 4:39 PM

You are awesome.

anon / May 10, 2007 10:38 PM

Did you just say ... for the love of Pete?

C-Note / May 11, 2007 6:44 AM

Not bad.

Mad Jack Deacon / May 12, 2007 11:29 AM

Through clenched teeth.
Must. Fight. Urge. To. Defend. 300...

Ah hell. I'm as guilty of loving this nonsensical, completely historically inaccurate homo-erotic piece of tripe as the next guy.

Frank Miller proves yet again that selling xenophobic, racist, sexist and historically improbable crap will always find a market...

"boy lovers". Heh.

Betty / May 15, 2007 5:22 AM

So this is what you are doing instead of podcasting.


About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon studies and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at

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