Saturday, October 29, 2005

Enough Politics... Here's Kelly Brook

She's a beautiful model, a talented actress, and one of the most charming women in the world. And did I mention she's beautiful? This is much better than thinking about that other stuff.

Her website is

What Helen Thomas Said

Bill Maher has referred to Helen Thomas's famous question for the past two weeks because of its incredible reasonableness, but in case you don't know, here's the transcript.

Remember the background:

On September 30, 2003, in Chicago:, Bush told reporters:

THE PRESIDENT: There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.... I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business...

Q Yesterday we were told that Karl Rove had no role in it --


Q -- have you talked to Karl and do you have confidence in him --

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.

On June 10, 2004, after the G8 summit:

Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?


But... on July 18, 2005, in a press conference with the Prime Minister of India:

THE PRESIDENT: ...If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.

Clearly, the needle on the President's moral compass was spinning wildly.

That same day, the press hammered Scott McClellan at the press briefing. McClellan had been hiding behind a refusal to comment until the investigation was complete, but the reporters correctly pointed out that Scott had been talking a blue streak before, and wondered, as they had for weeks, why the shift.

And then McClellan called on the great Helen Thomas, who said it beautifully:

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because there's an investigation that is continuing at this point, and the appropriate people to handle these issues are the ones who are overseeing that investigation. There is a special prosecutor that has been appointed. And it's important that we let all the facts come out. And then at that point, we'll be glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting into prejudging the outcome. [to another reporter] Go ahead.

How You Run the White House... And How You Don't

On The West Wing, when President Bartlet discovered there was a leaker among his staff, he found out who it was, called him on the carpet and had him physically removed from the White House. It was great television, but it was also great leadership and great government.

What does President Bush do when he finds out there's a leak in the White House? If we take him at his word, he works side-by-side with the man who did the leaking for two years, never once asking him if he did it, never discussing it with him, and continues to do so to this day.

Of course, I don't take him at his word. I think that's ludicrous. At some point in two years Bush turns to Rove and says something like, "Did you do this?"

If Rove said, "No!" then Bush would have fired him when it came out that was a lie, right?

So clearly, Rove said something like "Yes" or "Trust me, you don't want me to answer that question" or "Jesus, George, you were there, don't you remember?"

Which means Bush has been covering for Rove since that day. Which makes Bush guilty of quite a few crimes himself.

Of course, it's possible that Bush didn't ask Rove if he did it, just as he didn't know where Harriet Miers stood on abortion. Consider the following:

October 4, Rose Garden Press Conference

THE PRESIDENT: I have no litmus test. It's also something I've consistently said: There is not [sic] litmus test. What matters to me is her judicial philosophy; what does she believe the role -- the proper role of the judiciary is, relative to the legislative and the executive branch. And she'll be asked all kinds of questions up there, but the most important thing for me is what kind of judge will she be? And so there's no litmus tests.

Q Sir, you've already said there was no litmus test --

THE PRESIDENT: Correct. And I'll say it again: There is no litmus test.

Q But she is not someone you interviewed for the job that you didn't know. You've known her a long time. Have you never discussed abortion with her?

THE PRESIDENT: In my interviews with any judge, I never ask their personal opinion on the subject of abortion.

Q In your friendship with her, you've never discussed abortion?

THE PRESIDENT: Not to my recollection have I ever sat down with her -- what I have done is understand the type of person she is and the type of judge she will be.

October 12, Focus on the Family Chairman James C. Dobson Radio Program

Karl Rove had shared with me her judicial philosophy which was consistent with the promises that President Bush had made when he was campaigning....Karl had told me something that I probably shouldn't know. And you know, it really wasn’t all that tantalizing, but I still couldn't talk about it. And what I was referring to is the fact that on Saturday, the day before the President made his decision, I knew that Harrier [sic] Miers was at the top of the short list of names under consideration. And as you know, that information hadn’t been released yet, and everyone in Washington and many people around the country wanted to know about it and the fact that he had shared with me is not something I wanted to reveal...

What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn’t reveal? Well, it’s what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life. In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision. I could not talk about that on Monday. I couldn’t talk about it on Tuesday. In fact, Brit Hume said, “What church does she go to?” And I said, “I don’t think it’s up to me to reveal that.” Do you remember my saying that?

October 18, Scott McClellan Press Briefing

McCLELLAN: During the vetting process, the President was informed of the views she had expressed as a candidate for public office back in the late ‘80s. He did not discuss with her or anyone else whether or not those were still her views because he believes there should be no litmus test, and that the views of a nominee on such a topic should not play a role in how he or she would decide a case as a judge.

The President does not discuss with a potential nominee his or her views on specific issues that could come before the court. He does make sure they are committed to strictly interpreting our Constitution and laws, not imposing their personal views or legislating from the bench.

So, Rove knew that Miers was anti-abortion, and he told Bush, who had never discussed it with her himself, and Rove called Dobson to reassure him that she still felt that way, but didn't tell Bush because Bush wouldn't want to know how she feels now, and Rove knew he was the leak, but didn't tell Bush, who didn't ask him because he didn't want to know because he wanted to be able to say he didn't know.

And that, believe it or not, is their version of what happened!

Bartlet for President.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Amazon, Advertising and This Blog

Photo from ASPCA website

You may have noticed a little Amazon box on the right-hand side of the page, down below the links. In the interest of disclosure, any merchandise you buy through that box, or from any of the Amazon links on these pages, will result in my getting a small percentage of the sale. Or so I'm told.

As with any other advertising that may pop up here in the future, all the money I get will be divided evenly between the ASPCA and the Humane Society.

If that policy ever changes, I will be sure to let you know right here. But meanwhile, why not click on the links above and make a contribution directly, if you're so inclined? Thanks!

The Reason the Web Was Invented, Part 2

If you don't regularly visit Television Without Pity, you are really missing out on something. TWP features laugh-out-loud funny recaps of TV shows and active fan forums. They also sell kick-ass merchandise, often featuring beloved TWP mascot Tubey.

Speaking of merchandise, you can find hilariously rude T-Shirts -- and I mean hilarious and rude -- at T-Shirt Hell. They sell shirts that are so unapologetically wrong -- even for babies -- you won't be able to buy just one.

It should be noted that I don't make any money at all from either of these sites, so I am above reproach (beyond reproach? beneath reproach?) in sending you to them.

The Reason the Web Was Invented

I have fallen in love with a site called, an addictively irritating waste of time that I can't get enough of. The geniuses behind this site have recorded the "hits of yesterday and today" as sung by the computerized voices of online dictionaries. "Take On Me" and "My Heart Will Go On" are just two of my favorites so far.

If I Owned the Los Angeles Times

I grew up in a small town on Long Island with a local newspaper. You subscribed by mail, and it was about 64 pages or so of news and features and local happenings. It really was a lot of fun to read, even as a kid.

I now live in Burbank, and we have a decent paper, The Burbank Leader, that is 16 pages, mostly ads -- and, for some reason, a column about grammar -- and it is stuck twice a week inside the Los Angeles Times. That's the only way you can get it. It's really the only reason I subscribe to the Times. For those two or three articles about Burbank, twice a week.

That's why I've come up with a radical plan to remake the Times. It couldn't come at a better time for them, if all the media attention they've been getting lately is to be believed. Apparently there's a lot of turmoil and turnover, and they don't get along with their overlords in Chicago, and a lot of other stuff that Ken Auletta wrote in The New Yorker that sent the media world into a tizzy. (But then, nothing excites journalists like covering journalists covering journalists.)

Besides all that, circulation is down. The other day, the Times ran an article questioning the viability of procedural TV shows, including Law & Order, the audience for which has declined 5% from last year. No article has run questioning the viability of the Los Angeles Times, whose circulation has declined 7% since last year. (To put it in perspective, a first-run episode of Law & Order is typically watched by over 14 million people; a brand new issue of the Times is read by fewer than a million.)

So clearly some change would be welcome. I believe I have the answer.

Right now, this is the experience of reading the Times:

Open up the plastic bag, and withstand the foul, musty odor that comes out when you remove the paper. Okay, there's probably nothing I could do about that, but I'd sure like to try.

Then you have to wade through the A section, page after page of national and international news... only it's not news, is it?

Because you saw it on the network news and heard it on NPR last night and CNN and MSNBC yesterday and the Today show yesterday morning and read about it online the day before yesterday. Oh, and there's an analysis piece on one of the stories you're skipping over, quoting all the people you saw on TV yesterday. And another article repeating something that was reported in the New York Times or the Washington Post, that you also saw on TV yesterday.

So you skip to the B Section, where they report on God knows what... Lots of Sacramento stuff from reporters hoping to be promoted to the Washington bureau, writing articles about how this stuff is really important on the national level. Oh, and there's the weather. Because you didn't notice it when you went outside to get the paper.

Then there are the letters, often from idiots. And the editorials, telling you what the people who've shown such questionable news judgment for the last sixty pages or so think about the news from two days ago. And some columnists you already read online.

Then come Business and Calendar, which got all smushed together somehow along the way. Calendar used to be about arts and entertainment, but now all the entertainment stuff is in the Business section, and the Calendar is all museums and symphony and, for some reason, things like the gubernatorial recall election and columns about life in New York City.

Then there's Sports, for more old news, and a special section like Home or Food or Fire Bad or something that no one reads, and then they tuck your local paper deep inside. Then sixty pages of classified ads for stuff that was probably sold already on craigslist.

Okay, there has to be a better way, and I think I've got it.

First of all, shut down the building the Times is in, which I assume is downtown, because they only seem to cover downtown things no one I know cares about (like museums and symphonies).

Then shut down the Washington bureau, the Paris bureau and any other bureaus they've got going. Instead open up... oh, I don't know... a Burbank/Glendale/Toluca Lake/North Hollywood bureau. And bureaus in every other neighborhood.

See, in my version of the paper, every community's A section, the big thick one, would be the really, really local news. The stuff you can't find on TV (unless it's a murder, the local news won't touch it) and radio and online. The news you want to know:

What happened at the City Council meeting? Why is it taking so long to fix that onramp? What happened to that parking garage they were supposed to build on the corner near your office? What does the coach at the high school plan to do to break that losing streak? What was the problem on the street next to yours that had the police blocking off the street all morning?

What's going on in your community, in your rec centers, your parks, your schools? Forget about restaurants in neighborhoods you never go to that you could never get a reservation at anyway... What's good at the restaurant a few blocks away? What's that store they're opening up where the drugstore used to be? Something good, or another dry cleaner? That's the A section in my paper.

The next section? State news, Opinions, Letters. But no weather. Fuck 'em if they can't look outside.

The next section? Sports, Business, Entertainment. (And a column every day from Carina Chocano, of whom I've been a fan since her days writing "Chains of Love" recaps for

The next section? Crosswords, Comics, Coupons.

Anything else we've got goes on the website.

And there you have it, my Los Angeles Times. It's a crazy, impractical dream... but so was penicillin once.

You Won't Like Donald When He's Angry

The end of last night's The Apprentice, and the subsequent cab ride, were among the best TV moments of the year.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Verizon: We Never Stop Creeping You Out

I'm sure to someone at Verizon's ad agency this photo suggests a "Richer, Deeper, Broader" broadband experience. But to me, it just suggests that I will wake up screaming every time I remember this image.

A Holiday Event for the Whole Family

If by "whole family" you mean Mom, your teenage sister, and your gay uncle.

Mark November 3rd on your calendar: The Beverly Center in Los Angeles is having a Hunky Santa Fashion Show.

Yes, that's right, "Hunky Santa Fashion Show"... a collection of words so random and unrelated that to my ears it might as well be "Shoehorn Saturn Dental Floss."

But it does promise to fill a void in the pre-Christmas windup, so do drop in if you're so inclined.

By the way, for those of you not from Los Angeles, the Beverly Center is a large shopping mall so beloved that Tommy Lee Jones blew up a brand new skyscraper in order to save it in Volcano.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Seal, You Magnificent Bastard!

I'm running these pictures of the miraculous Heidi Klum, from the May '05 Arena magazine, because... er... Project Runway 2 is coming back in December. Yes, that's why. Project Runway 2.
Read more about Project Runway 2 at Reality TV World. Or just enjoy another dose of Vitamin K...

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I'm Still Big... It's the Fugs That Got Small!

My friend, Richard, alerted me to this priceless image from the always-hilarious Go Fug Yourself. I don't have any idea who this woman is or why she attends celebrity events, but I believe I have found MY Halloween costume.

Photo by Daily Celeb, via Go Fug Yourself.

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Sometimes Easy is Good

Okay, so I saw this item at my local Staples and I got all ready to post about it and make fun of it. I mean, charging people to put your corporate ad on their desks?! It seemed like the height of wrongheadedness.

But then I looked into it and found out that Staples is donating the proceeds, up to one million dollars, to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. So as frivolous purchases go, this one can leave you feeling pretty good. And batteries are included!

You can pick it up at Staples, or learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

B&C: "Comedy Central Strikes Motherload"

Broadcasting & Cable reports that Comedy Central is launching Motherload, a five-channel broadband service, on November 1st.

Motherload will feature clips from Comedy Central shows and promo material, but will also have original programming. I hope this is a return to the great days of the late, lamented (Speaking of which, it is still possible to enjoy two of Icebox's most politically incorrect and hilarious shows: Queer Duck, webisodes of which are on Showtime's site; and my personal favorite, Mr. Wong, which is available at the ghost of Icebox and on DVD.)

I am psyched for anything that gives more funny people more venues to be funny, so I'm looking forward to Motherload... so much so that I'm willing to overlook Comedy Central's questionable spelling.

Motherload isn't live yet, but when it is, it will be at

Our Halloween Costume Pageant Continues...

[Ding Dong]

"Trick or--"



and... scene!

I'm no theologian, but if you're religious enough to dress your child as Jesus, is Halloween really on your radar?

Anyway, if I'm wrong, and you would like to buy this costume for the little Messiah in your life, then truly this costume is available from the good folks at Halloween Street. (It appears the wig is sold separately.)

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Fly Guy

An unexpectedly diverting little Flash site, that lets you take flight as a Robert Benchley-like character. Not work safe. Fly Guy.

"Sixteen Toys. One Island. Who Will Survive?"

It's Kukapoo Tribe Vs. Ibsy Dibsy at Survivor Toyland. Who will outwit, outlast, outkungfugrip?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Good Advice From One Who Knows

"I'll go see Saw II and probably you will see Saw II too (say it fast, I dare you), but I predict we'll hate ourselves on the morning of All Saints' Day. If you want to see something authentically scary this Halloween, I'd suggest either Flightplan or A History of Violence."

Stephen King on Halloween movies in Entertainment Weekly

The White House: Where Bullshit is Job One

The New York Times reports that on September 28th, Grant M. Dixton, Associate Counsel to the President of the United States, sent a cease & desist letter to The Onion.

That's right, The Onion. Because The Onion used the Presidential Seal on its website. Without permission.

The Times notes that while Mr. Dixton was trying to shield us from confusing The Onion with The White House (one is run by smart people), he was also helping President Bush find a Supreme Court nominee. We all know how that turned out.

Clearly multitasking is not Mr. Dixton's thing.

Another Strange Halloween Costume?

"Billy... are you sure you wouldn't rather be Spiderman or something?"

Buy it for the child with low self esteem in your life at Halloween Mart.

By the way, they also have the Captain Morgan costume below, for gayer children.

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Is This a Strange Halloween Costume?

Or the perfect Halloween costume for a really strange child? I can't decide.

Either way, this kid should be beaten up for most of the month of November. And I'll help.

Buy it at Target.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Next Date Movie

I thought everyone had seen this, but then I spoke to someone who hadn't: the new, more upbeat trailer for The Shining. If you haven't, you're in for a treat.

Jessica Alba

That's all. Just Jessica Alba.

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