Diary of a Mad County

Courtesy Movieland Wax MuseumWednesday, Oct. 19
A ragtag group of 400 federal agents, local and state officers, military personnel, and crack park rangers repel an assault by a misfit band of play-acting terrorists in a well-rehearsed mock attack on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in what officials dub Operation Power Play. While many in the audience are awed by the efficiency by which the good guys -- who've been preparing for this Terro-drama for three years -- turn back the evildoers ("Anyone who tries to get onboard San Onofre is not going to live to tell about it_ -- Jan Caldwell, FBI) others are less impressed with the production's staginess, weak back story, and what many see as a contrived and unconvincing conclusion ("As if giving three years notice for a terrorist attack weren't ludicrous enough, the appearance of the Ewoks in the climactic scene -- dressed as crack park rangers -- diffused any real tension. The less said about the closing dance number the better. Terrorible" -- Sith Master Randy, Phastmagoric Institute on Intergalactic Security). Either way, officials stressed they are now prepared to protect the generating plant's breast-like reactors as long as the terrorists have the common decency to give them a three-years heads up so everyone has time to adjust their calendars. A smashing name for the attack -- say, Operation Boob Job -- would also be appreciated.

Thursday, Oct. 20
Reports come today that the Orange County Jail is the most crowded in the state and the third most crowded prison in the country, ranking just behind public schools and the dungeon TheNew York Times keeps for its reporters. Prison observers say that three and four inmates are being held in cells meant for two or three occupants. Sheriff Mike Carona acknowledges the overcrowding and blames it on a lack of funds to properly staff the jails with deputies able to perform the time-consuming task of processing -- i.e., indiscriminately beating -- inmates. Carona, whose office has contributed to the crowded situation -- a portion of the prison population is made up of present and former assistant sheriffs and relatives of present and former assistant sheriffs -- says one way he's dealt with overcrowding is to authorize early release of prisoners, or "family leave," as it's known around his office.

Friday, Oct. 21
Blake Anderson, head of the Orange County Sanitation District, resigned today after coming under scrutiny for his hiring of a spiritual-based consulting firm. Anderson reportedly paid around $400,000 to Dharma Consulting of Leucadia; Dharma Consulting being one of those outfits that comes to your office and effectively forces you to stop doing your job so they can talk to you about what's stopping you from doing your job effectively, using a bunch of half-baked slogans and ridiculous "team-building" exercises that everyone ridicules at lunch while updating their resumes. Dharma's gimmick is that it claims it uses Eastern spiritual philosophy to show you how to crush the competition, and it's headed by a guy named Eric Klein who wrote a book called Awakening the Corporate Soul, which contains this piece of Native American wisdom (Native Americans having nothing actually to do with Eastern spiritualism, but okay): "As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump! It is not as wide as you think." Yes, when one is thinking about success in the vicious and amoral world of corporate America, who better to consult than Native Americans, whose success in dealing with American institutional power is well-chronicled and perhaps best expressed with this other inspirational gem: "As you continue on the way of life, you'll come upon a blanket. Hug it! It doesn't contain all that much smallpox."

Saturday, Oct. 22
Citing her predilection toward finding Star Wars-obsessed, vintage-computer-collecting geek boys unfathomably attractive, Ellen Griley phones in a report from IGN Live, a Best Buy-sponsored "video game thing" at the Anaheim Convention Center: "So I force my buddy Tim H. -- LA Weekly computer programmer/snarky sci-fi fan -- to take me with him to this video game thing, thinking I'll spend my day playing Altered Beast and winking at cute, desperate 28-year-old virgins. Turns out that's not so much the case: while IGN has loads of old school video games -- Centipede! Asteroids! Galaga! -- it unfortunately passed on the Altered Beast, and those 28-year-old virgins? Oh, right . . . they don't even notice I'm alive. What with the three tricked-out Humvees, the climbing wall, the beefcake military men, the seemingly endless rows of shoot-'em-up games and the close-to-scale effing tank‚€"battle-ready dummy jarheads included! -- it appears the geek boys of today would rather be duped into being recruited by the Army than listen to some chick tell self-deprecating jokes in BASIC. 'This is disgusting,' I say, not really sure which offends me more: the full-scale warmongering going on at a video game thing, or the fact that the boys I'm attracted to are both Star Wars fans and skilled snipers. 'Yeah, but it's an inevitability that someone would guess guys who like to play FPS games would also like to shoot things for a living,' notes Tim H., which isn't very comforting. But at least I walked away from the day with one tiny morsel of geek-speak: FPS? Stands for First Person Shooter, as in 'Like, wow, you totally rule at FPS . . . no, really . . . I mean it . . . wanna go out sometime? Please don't shoot me.' I'll have to remember that for next year."

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