I recently made a grave mistake and turned on my television. Normally I'd avoid such grave errors, but I occasionally have to justify paying $25 a month for the privilege of viewing such cable classics as "WCW Monday Nitro" and the many, many news broadcasts which feature helicopters following cars fleeing Police by driving down the 405 at 30 miles and hour. According to regional news stations, the only thing Californians are interested in watching are low-speed car chases and various courtroom drama shows like "Judge Judy" and that one guy who used to be a criminal until he realized that he'd make more money by being a belligerent judge who yells at stupid women and awards judgment of (up to) 38 dollars to white trash.

Anyway, I had the raw luck of switching on the television during HBO's block of original programming tonight. I had the sheer pleasure of watching two shows witch apparently are "cutting edge" and "have critics raving." I can't imagine what the critics are raving about, but I can only assume the PR guy meant to say the critics are "ranting and raving." In case you're not fortunate enough to get cable or you've fallen into a deep pit that only has Internet access, let me explain to you the joys of viewing "Sex and the City" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

"Sex and the City" - Sarah Jessica Parker stars as "Carrie Bradshaw", a woman who acts a whole lot like Sarah Jessica Parker. This is another one of those wacky "relationship" shows, a cutting and biting look at modern day romance and the pursuit of love at all costs. At least that was the line the PR guy was repeatedly mumbling into my ear while dropping liquid into my taped-open eyes and checking my head restraints. After watching three episodes of this series, I can safely state the following facts with the utmost of confidence:

99% of the men in New York have a hilariously pathetic quirk that manifests itself on the third date.

The other 1% are complete jerks.

Nothing in New York is really expensive, because four women who hardly ever work can somehow afford majestic apartments made out of pure platinum.

There are many trendy restaurants in New York, all of which prohibit smoking but encourage gossiping about the size of men's penises and their various sexual dysfunctions (which range from shouting the wrong woman's name in bed to ejaculating some mysterious substance which can eat the plaster off walls).

Sarah Jessica Parker is perfect. Her friends are slightly less perfect.

All women are interested in sex. If you don't have sex with a woman on the first date, you must have some kind of mental problem (or not live in New York).

Available women searching for sex are all over the place. They're in bars, trendy restaurants, your workplace, street corner, gyms, the elevator, the subway, the sewer system, on the tops of high rise buildings, your bathroom... everywhere. There's no good reason for you to not be having sex with somebody right now, even if you're at work. ESPECIALLY if you're at work.

The only risk of engaging in casual sex with somebody you met at a coffeehouse 15 minutes ago is the chance that you may end up in a wacky scenario for which the only solution is running around their apartment complex in a bedsheet.

I really don't understand why people are so crazy over this show. It seems like the run-of-the-mill relationship sitcom, except now the main characters can say cutting edge things like "cock" and "shithead." This artistic freedom lends splendidly to the hilarious conversations that ensue when the four main characters get together at their local upscale and trendy New York restaurant to bitch about their latest failed relationships:

Sarah Jessica Parker: "I just started dating this guy named Brad. He's so handsome."
Annoying Friend #1: "I have a problem with men named Brad. The name... it's so bland. BRAAAAD. BRAAAAAAAD." (makes frowny face)
Annoying Friend #2: "I hope he's nothing like the last guy I dated named Brad. He did this thing with his tongue that freaked me out."
Annoying Friend #3: "Oh, where he rammed it up your butt and then tried to deep kiss you with it?"
Annoying Friend #2: "No, that was Chad. Brad rammed his tongue up his own butt and then tried to kiss me."
Annoying Friend #1: "I wish somebody would kiss me. I haven't had sex in... 49 minutes."
Sarah Jessica Parker: "Why must all men be so weird? Why can't we just find Mr. Perfect?"
HANDSOME WAITER: "Here's your check, ladies. I hope one of you will come back again and ask for my phone number so we'll be able to have sex and you can discover some interesting personality quirk I have, such as my tendency to shout my mother's name while achieving orgasm. Also, I enjoy fucking cats."
Annoying Friend #2: (introspectively) "Cock!!!"

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" - Larry David stars as "Larry David." Playing a character who has your same name and is essentially the same person as you must be every Hollywood star's dream. I mean, you take one look at the script and you instantly know what your character is supposed to be saying because, hey, that's YOUR NAME on that there piece of paper!

Speaking of scripts, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" prides itself on lacking any. Larry David and his goon squad decided that improvising the entire show would somehow make it "funnier" or possibly "easier to produce." This would all be fine and dandy if it was a good show, but "Curb Your Enthusiasm" simply isn't. I've had unscripted bowel movements that had more content and humor.

In this show, Larry David is grouchy. Really grouchy. Really really grouchy. I don't blame the guy, because everybody around him, including his wife, is a real jerk. Just like in "Sex and the City", every single person occupying the surrounding 100-mile radius has the attitude of a pit bull who spends all day licking his inflamed private parts. Each episode appears to concentrate on why everybody is a jerk and how that helps advance the central theme of being a jerk and its hilarious consequences.

Maybe it's just me, but "Curb Your Enthusiasm" seems to be "Seinfeld" minus all the comedy and... well... everything that made it great. The reason "Seinfeld" was such a hit was due to the two critical elements that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" lacks: writing and interesting characters. Jerry Seinfeld was able to carry a show based on essentially nothing by having a somewhat likable and amusing character. All the supporting cast chipped in as well, because they were people who were fun and interesting to watch. Larry David is just a jackass. He's not funny. He's not amusing. He's not a decent guy. He's not somebody you would want to watch fix your plumbing, much less follow their life for 30 straight minutes. On one hand, I wanted to see horrible things happen to his character because I really despised him and his show. On the other hand, I knew that the more horrible things that happened to him, the more time he would spend onscreen, bitching about the aforementioned horrible things. Unfortunately, it's not just that easy. If nothing catastrophic happens to Larry, he finds minuscule things to bend out of proportion and distort into horrible events which begin to shape his horrible life. This can be anything from having wrinkles in his pants to not taking his shoes off at a guest's house.

I think that "Seinfeld" was just an exception to the rule. Every single "nuance / idiosyncrasy"-based show since has paled in comparison because the exceptionally clever writing just isn't there. A show that has no point, no plot, and no writing, ends up with no humor. And it's certainly no "Seinfeld."

Speaking of grumpy old guys, I recently received a letter from the king of all grumpy old guys. Yes, I got an email from Cliff Yablonski.

From: cliff yablonski
Subject: no subject, stupid email program

hey freakshow

Ive got 6 new pages of mutant pissant bastards in Appleton City that I despise. tell people to visit the site or Ill kick your ass. again.

cliff

You know what that means, ladies and gents! Six new pages of hot and spicy Yablonski action! Ooh la la!

Since I have sold my soul to the eFront Network, I've been working on a new site design / layout for days. The new Something Awful will look more or less like the current one, only be more functional, easy to use, and cleaned up. It will be closely integrated to Real Awful News, which should be launching (along with the new SA design) by the end of the month. If you want to check out a sneak peek at the new design, point your "webbrowsers" (I heard that term on ZD TV once) to http://www.somethingawful.com/newsa/. This will be the new layout, with a few exceptions:

The top title graphic will be professionally done. The one up there currently is just a placeholder.

The eFront "parade of advertising" bar on the right will have a color scheme that matches the site. The content windows below it will match the site color as well.

All the links and the webmail will actually work. We'll have a Something Awful / Real Awful News webmail service built into the site.

Other than that, there shouldn't be too many major changes in the design. I've tested it on both IE / Netscape for Windows and Mac, and it appears fine down to 800 x 600 resolution. If you're using Lunix / Linux, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know if it looks horrible in whatever elite browser you people use. Netscape 6 seems to ship with the tendency to at least display tables correctly, so it appears to be a major improvement over all versions from 4 and higher. Regardless, drop me a line and give me your thoughts. This is the page you're going to be viewing (hopefully), so speak now or forever hold your pieces.

Taco the Wonder Dog has updated with a very special Flash movie, "Crunchy Savior: Episode 0". Or something. With Taco, I can't always tell what he's trying to say. Anyway, this movie takes a special look at some of the more nefarious enemies behind everybody's favorite series about a floating Jesus head lodged in a peanut butter can, "Crunchy Savior." Like almost all of Taco's films, it's quite funny and I recommend giving it a watch.

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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