The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

He’s Not the Jack of Spades

Posted on | April 14, 2012 | 35 Comments

Ace of Spades gets uncomfortable when I praise him too enthusiastically, or maybe he’s just doing that aw-shucks-’tweren’t-nuthin’ humble thing.

Being a natural-born extrovert myself, I have no problem with praise, of which I think I get far too little, mainly because people don’t enjoy praising such an obvious egomaniacal showoff. A deficit of praise, however, creates a problem in the psychological feedback loop: If I’m kicking ass and taking names, and yet see no evidence to confirm this — if traffic does not increase, et cetera — I might begin to doubt my awesomeness. Such doubts can undermine morale, and nothing is more important to this kind of work than morale.

Years ago, while singing and playing in rock bands, I had to learn how to respond to fans who rushed up, eager to tell me how awesome I was.

Understand that “front man in a rock band” is not a line of work that attracts small egos. The mere fact that you are getting up on the stage ought to be sufficient evidence that you think you’re pretty doggone awesome.

I knew that if I had my chance,
That I could make those people dance,
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
. . .

This is a modest expression of a large ambition. When that rock-and-roll dream grabs hold of your soul — I was about 15 or 16, a late-bloomer as such things go — you spend a lot of time dreaming about what it’s going to be like when the dream comes true. The very first taste of success, when you finally get your band out of the garage and onto a stage and actually do a good enough job that people applaud, is bound to be a memorable experience.

So when my band, Strange Talk, played a 1986 gig at a street festival in Austell, Georgia, and did not completely suck, I wasn’t quite mentally prepared to have girls come up to me after the set with that clinging starry-eyed “you-were-so-awesome” reaction.

This was welcome confirmation, of course. I’d always thought of myself as pretty doggone awesome, but after years of kicking around in haphazard collections of musicians with different tastes and abilities — usually led by an egomaniac metalhead lead guitarist who despised anything “commercial” — I’d finally put together a band with an eye toward doing things my way. Strange Talk was conceived as a dance-oriented pop-rock outfit, and if this vision wasn’t shared enthuiastically by all the members, the positive reaction to that street festival performance was confirmation that my concept had merit.

And we did not completely suck.

The set finishes, the crowd applauds, we exit the outdoor stage. I’m soaked in sweat, exhilirated with the success but with a million worries on my mind. We’re trying to pack our gear off the stage and figure out what time to meet up for the after-party, and people keep approaching me to tell me how awesome I am. This is welcomed as positive feedback, but I’ve got to make sure all my equipment — guitar, stand, cables, microphones, speakers, power amp — gets safely loaded into the right vehicle, and so forth.

How to accept the praise — sincerely, humbly, courteously — without getting bogged down in a conversation I don’t have time for, yet without seeming like an arrogant jerk giving kids the star-trip brush-off?

“Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

Not much, but it honestly conveys two basic points:

  1. Gratitude for the praise; and
  2. An understanding that the enjoyment of the audience is ultimately the purpose of the performance.

Well, the band broke up a few weeks later — “creative differences,” yadda yadda — and I was never subsequently able to put together anything remotely approaching my vision. Meanwhile, my day job as a newspaper writer became something that I began to take half-seriously, with the result that my youthful rock-and-roll dream was eventually laid aside. OK, so back to Ace of Spades . . .

My angle of entry into the blogosphere was unusual. As a writer/editor at The Washington Times, I was always seeking material wherever it could be found, and began reading blogs that way. In 2006, when Donkey Cons was published, Lynn Vincent and I started a blog to promote the book, and trying to figure out how to attract traffic to the blog became sort of an obsession with me.

If memory serves, it was at CPAC 2006 that I first met Ace of Spades in the smoking area in front of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. At that time, my understanding of who was who in the blogosphere was extremely limited. Ace’s status as a cult hero didn’t quite register. Subsequently, however, I became a devoted Moron.

Now dear reader, picture me as an Assistant National Editor in the rather uptight world of Official Conservative Movement Journalism, and looking over at the green grass of fun-loving mischief on the other side of that fence: Ace of Spades HQ, where no hobo is safe, Valu-Rite vodka is the beverage of choice, Latina tranny hookers are the romantic ideal, and Paul Anka is a universally recognized icon of Integrity.

Beats the hell out of chopping down Associated Press bulletins into items for the “National Briefs” column, you see.

Many bloggers influenced my own efforts and, because any idea worth imitating is worth stealing outright, many have been the victims of my larcenies great and small, but the one blogger whose example most inspired me was Ace of Spades: That guy brings the funny.

In a just world, Ace would be like Sinatra at the Paramount, the Beatles at Shea Stadium, Tom Jones in Vegas: Mobbed by adoring fans, women throwing their panties at him and stuff. Yet Ace is awkwardly uncomfortable with fame, which is the only reason he’s not on the cover of Tiger Beat with fold-out full-color centerfold posters inside for lovestruck teenage girls to pin up on their bedroom walls.

Go figure.

Despite his oft-stated discomfort with being the New Media idol of millions, however, Ace doesn’t get praised enough. None of us do, but the other day, I found myself confronted with a dilemma: In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I saw an item about Ashley Judd complaining that she was being objectified by the effin’ patriarchy.

This cried out for the AOSHQ treatment, but folks on Twitter urged me to blog about it, and I obliged with the stipulation that “this really deserves the Ace of Spades touch.”

Later that Tuesday, while I was being traumatized by Rick Santorum’s suspension of his campaign, Ace finally weighed in on Ashley’s victimhood. Because I was busy writing up The End of Conservatism as We Know It, however, it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I learned Ace had uncorked an immortal masterpiece of scornful sarcasm:

When I consider great philosophical movements, I do not conceive them as primarily concerned with “getting people to stop talking smack about me.”
Nietzsche is not remembered for the aphorism:  “I’m big and I’m beautiful, maybe you just can’t handle a full-figured woman!!!” . . .
This is my problem with feminism, as currently conceived by most women:  Whereas other philosophies demand something hard — tough introspection, a change of life in accordance with the product of that introspection, etc. — feminism (as currently conceived) seems to be little more than “You’re the Best, Girl!” blanket excuse/blame-shifting.

Read the whole thing, which is made out of awesome. It’s important occasionally to mention Ace’s awesomeness, and also hit his tip jar.



35 Responses to “He’s Not the Jack of Spades”

  1. smitty
    April 14th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    @rsmccain mainly because people don’t enjoy praising such an obvious egomaniacal showoff

    I just deliver it in the form of abuse about TweetDeck.

  2. Ford Prefect
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    I would recommend you to my friends via Facebook except for one little thing.  I don’t want my friends knowing I read a site with semi-naked women in the margin.  The old, “I just read it for the articles” explanation just won’t wash with some people.

    Not that you’ll lose the Rule 5 stuff on my account (although that would suit me fine) but it does prevent me from loudly proclaiming TOM to the extent that I would like.

  3. BruceC
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    In its own way, that picture of you with the band is even more studly than the Speedo picture, in a Flock of Seagulls sort of way.  NTTAWWT

  4. ThePaganTemple
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    Do you ever see any of these guys, just to catch up? You know what would be cool is if you were all to get together and put something on YouTube. 

  5. ThePaganTemple
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

     That’s very commendable of you Ford Fairlane, you never can tell, if you lure someone on to a sexually perverse site such as this one, they might start touching themselves and put themselves in danger of eternal hellfire and damnation.  Then you’d have to stand and give an accounting before the Lord. Why just look at that shameless hussy kneeling down in the sand in the top right hand corner, dressed in nothing but one of those damn shameful bikinis. Is that nipples I see there making me get all hard and aroused?

  6. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

    I’m so pleased you enjoyed the Ashley Judd piece – I laughed out loud and quite discombobulated my assistant. The poor kid still thinks I’m a sober, sensible adult, and cannot quite understand my devotion to the Moron Horde and the Ewok in Chief. 

  7. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

     It was the fashion, and the times.

  8. Peaches
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

    Shweet, Stacy.  We’ll try and get the rest of the moron horde over here to have a look.  🙂

  9. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

     Traffic! Let’s get some traffic!

    The ONT is up – let’s inform the Horde!

  10. McGehee
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    If I’m kicking ass and taking names, and yet see no evidence to confirm this – if traffic does not increase, et cetera – I might begin to doubt my awesomeness.

    That’s why the lucid, complete-sentence-speaking voices in my head are so helpful to me. When no one else will tell me I’m awesome, they do.

  11. Oregon
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    Ace of Spades HQ, where no hobo is safe, Valu-Rite vodka is the beverage of choice, Latina tranny hookers are the romantic ideal, and Paul Anka is a universally recognized icon of Integrity.

    Uh, that’s Thai tranny hookers, sir. We have standards.

  12. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

     However, they’re highly negotiable standards.

  13. smitty
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

    Having been there (but not there there), the correct label is [NSFW] Benny Boy.

  14. robertstacymccain
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

    What was interesting was that I thought I’d done a more-or-less complete takedown — millionaire Hollywood victim of the effin’ patriarchy — and yet Ace managed to mine so much more out of it.

  15. Adjoran
    April 14th, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

     I prefer to see it as succumbing to the weaknesses of the flesh to serve as a warning to others. 

    I may be going to hell in a bucket,
    But at least I’m enjoying the ride.

  16. Adjoran
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

     There is so much wrong with it I don’t even want to get started.

  17. Adjoran
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

     There was no excuse for either.

  18. Adjoran
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

     Yeah, right – “standards.”  Like a Filipino tranny hooker missing two front teeth and three fingers hasn’t always worked in a pinch.

  19. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

     Ace will circle ’round to the left of the target, then launch a perfectly devastating attack from the right.

    It’s the skew that makes it funny and effective.

    I thought the “Skankathon” was going to fail. It didn’t. The Almost Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick? It should have stopped being funny – it hasn’t, though it’s not as well known, now, as it was. It may just be that he knows the same alt-rock stuff I do, but he’s funny.

  20. Peaches
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, Adjoran.  And, apropos of absolutely nothing, you just made my prayer list.  

  21. Dianna Deeley
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm


    The sparkly-ness is unusual, at least. But I work in San Francisco – I’ve seen more scandalous on Market Street on a Friday afternoon. Not that I haven’t wished I didn’t, but still.

  22. Tennwriter
    April 14th, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

    If you don’t like these standards, I have others.

  23. andycanuck
    April 14th, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

    And you’re praising Ace by writing a homage piece that’s as long as his movie reviews. Bravo, sir, well done. [Gives polite applause.] 

  24. Adobe_Walls
    April 14th, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

    You too?

  25. andycanuck
    April 14th, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

     Easy, Ford. If anyone mentions the ads that Stacy can’t control, just reply, “What nearly naked ladies? They don’t show up on my screen. What site were you visiting before you went to the site?”

  26. robertstacymccain
    April 15th, 2012 @ 3:32 am

    Yes, that would be nice. Maybe if there were a national conference of bloggers, or something.

  27. Earnest Prole
    April 15th, 2012 @ 5:29 am

    Point of reference 1: a grown man named Stacy.

    Point of reference 2: your 1986 picture.

    Recommendation: ixnay on the ootiness fray.

  28. SDN
    April 15th, 2012 @ 9:28 am

     More like “strong suggestions”. As long as the Latina tranny hooker isn’t too hot and or willing….

  29. ThePaganTemple
    April 15th, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

    You have Democrat leftist idiots who will defend Obama over anything, even shit like this that might even be putting his safety and life at risk. In-Fucking-Credible!

  30. Bob Belvedere
    April 15th, 2012 @ 5:48 pm


  31. Bob Belvedere
    April 15th, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

    You bring back memories, Stacy.

    My first band, The Bureaucrats, was voted the #3 band in the big city we worked in and we had just played a gig in the city’s biggest club and our single was getting airplau – we had arrived.  Two weeks later, we broke up.  I never achieved that kind of poularity ever again – although I lived off it for about eight years [front of the line at certain clubs and all that].

  32. Wombat_socho
    April 15th, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

     To quote Al Collins, studly bass player and wife of the incredibly awesome Stacie Collins, “You need new friends.”

  33. Bill in Falls Church
    April 15th, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

    We’ll get you down here to jam some time and see.

  34. K-Bob
    April 16th, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    Man, maybe I’m jaded, or maybe I’m too cranky over the implosion of the conservatives this season…  I didn’t LOL.

    I liked Stacy’s article, and I appreciated Ace’s take and all.

    But still.

     Actually, I think I’m tired of the issue of feminism.  Too many folks on the right refuse to acknowledge that a sizable number of right-side women were involved in early aspects of feminism before it got taken over by the gay mafia.

    It just gets dismissed out-of-hand.  It happened, though.

    Then there’s the fact that too many leftists think feminism is an excuse any male Democrat can use while treating women like crap.  All while giving cover to the totalitarian march that will end any gains ever sought out by women in politics.   Why? Because as long as abortion is “legal” (which is already a misunderstanding), too many feminists are happy to be subservient, second-class citizens.

    The fact is, the word “feminism” has been distorted to the point where it’s about as useful as the word “hispanic.”

  35. Ima Wurdibitsch
    April 16th, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    Love the review of the Head Ewok!