The trial of Irving Libby... and let's face it, that's his name... will start in January, 2007. That's two months after the midterm elections. One of Libby's attorneys had a "scheduling conflict." (Apparently "bad headlines for Republicans" conflicted with a "midterm election.")
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Bob Garfield of Ad Age slammed the choice of the Rolling Stones as the Super Bowl halftime act, calling them "114-year-olds" who've "been around since the Jurassic period."
Adrants slammed Garfield back, praising the choice, saying he was out of touch with just how authentic the Stones were compared to recent Super Bowl performers.
Obviously the Stones are much cooler and more authentic than Garfield gives them credit for, and I'm sure it will be a great, big, vulgar, rockin' show. In other words, perfect for the Super Bowl.
(Of course I guarantee they won't play my favorite Stones song -- and here's where Stones purists will throw up their hands in dismay: "Dance, Part 1"... If anyone ever remixes that song to be, like, twenty minutes long, please let me know.)
But what Adrants doesn't slam Garfield for, I will:
The relentless, wearying Rolling-Stones-are-dinosaurs jokes.
Yes. They're old men. We get it.
Ha ha. Come up with a new bit.
There's a comedy writer's term called a "clam." It means "a really tired joke." I think the word "clam" itself is a clam -- plus I don't have very fond memories of some of the people who use the word -- so I prefer to call them "really tired jokes."
"The Rolling Stones are old" is a clam.
Like "Bill Clinton likes fast food." Or "Donald Trump's hair is strange."
It's the last resort of a lazy intellect.
But there's something else at work here, I think: racism.
When the Stones go out on the road, it's "Oh, here come the dinosaurs, get the Ensure, where are the Depends, blah blah blah."
But when B.B. King or Tina Turner or Smokey Robinson perform, it's "Here's a great chance to see a legend."
The great John Lee Hooker and the legendary Eubie Blake both practically died on stage at the age of a thousand, and not one critic or journalist ever wrote a single Jurassic joke about either.
I've got news for you: When Mick Jagger or B.B. King are performing, it's a chance to see a legend perform. Regardless of race.
Russell Arch of the invaluable Irritable Vowel Syndrome marvels at the idea that there once was a product to help you lose weight called Ayds.
If Russ only knew... This has been an obsession of mine for years. The Ayds Diet plan ads used to be on TV, like, every five minutes. Then, of course, one day... gone.
Similarly, I've heard there used to be a very popular baby furniture store here in L.A. named Sid's Cribs. Now, not so much.
You've got to wonder what it must be like to wake up in the morning, kiss your wife, pet your dog and think, "Yeah, life is pretty good right now. The AYDS Diet Plan is really taking off, sales are good, the company is growing. I'm in a really good place." Then you walk out to your porch and pick up your newspaper and your life is never the same.
Or you and your father and your father's father have always been in one business, a business that has always been the same and will never let you down. In fact, you gave up going to college to follow your Dad into the family business. After all, people will always need carbon paper, right?
Next thing you know, you're waiting to jump off a tall building... standing in line behind the guy who makes typewriter ribbons and the guy who makes adding machines and the guy who mortgaged his house to market a toy called the "Libby Scooter."
Thursday, February 02, 2006
I learned about this from the always-fascinating Lifehacker: It's an article from Psychology Today on "How to Get Great Sleep." One method I used to use (this is, of course, pre-Ambien) was to slowly and methodically tense, hold, and relax each individual muscle of my body, starting at my toes. I'd usually fall asleep long before I reached my head. Probably out of boredom.
Anyway, the Psychology Today article is interesting, and the Lifehacker commenters share their own sleep tips. It's possible half the world's problems could be solved if we all got better sleep, and the other half could be solved if we treated animals better.
Speaking of which, by now you might have seen the footage of the bull charging up into the stands at a bullfight. All the anchors I've seen report it the same way: Fortunately, no one was hurt. Oh, and the bull was killed.
Gee, you hate to think of the kind of people who'd gather for a bloodsport being injured.
It seems to me by sitting in an arena where an angry bull was going to be set free, they assumed a certain risk. I can't bring a sweater to my dry cleaner without being warned that, whoa, hey, whatever happens after that is my fault... but I'm supposed to feel bad for people who voluntarily sit near a raging bull while guys taunt and stab it? Forget cruel... that's stupid!
Meanwhile the bull was guilty only of being a bull, and of doing what frightened, provoked bulls do. That should not be a capital offense.
And for people who profit off of a "sport" that involves cruelty like this, how do they possibly sleep?
I don't know how many times I've crimped a perfectly good hand into submission trying to find just the right position for holding a book open while I read. Usually I just give up and watch TV.
But now along comes Thumb Thing. Why didn't I think of this? Why didn't I come up with a way to make a bundle off of candlelighting gadgets, instead of spending all my time cursing the darkness?
Small sizes are available to order now. For those of us with digits as big as our dreams, there will be larger Thumb Things next week. And teachers get a 26% discount. Not 25%...not 30%...
After 145 years, it's the end of an era, and -- it is to be hoped -- the end of the very old joke used above.
Done in by pages, text messages, emails and faxes, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams forever as of January 27th. They'll still be in the money-wiring business -- revenues are now $3 billion a year -- but those flimsy slips of paper will join their carbon brethren.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Of course I'm talking about Charles in Charge
Season One is due out on DVD on February 14th, but there's no reason not preorder now and beat the rush of Jennifer Runyon fans (including yours truly). Though the extras look a little skimpy... Is it possible to "preview" Season Two of a twenty-year-old sitcom?
But I couldn't do it. Right from the start, when Bush started talking about how much he hates partisanship, and how even though the parties disagree, there's never any excuse for hatred or disrespect...
...and sitting right behind him is Dick Cheney, the man who told Senator Leahy "Go fuck yourself" on the Senate floor -- but said it was okay because the Senate wasn't in session at the time -- and...
...then it took him about two minutes to say "9/11"...
I couldn't take it anymore. I turned on The Bachelor. Ahhhhhh... Much better...
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
From this morning's Today Show:
Matt Lauer: On a scale of 1 to 10, right now, how dangerous is Iran to the U.S.?
Sen. Bill Frist: With 1 being very dangerous, I'd put it--
Lauer: Let's say 10 is very dangerous.
Frist: Oh. I'd put it an 8.
What country did this guy grow up in? He thinks a scale of 1 to 10 means 1 is very dangerous?? Does he also think that scissors beats rock??
But let's not forget that Frist is the "doctor" who diagnosed Terry Schiavo as definitely not in a vegetative state based on watching a videotape. It's old news, but it's important that you never ever forget:
Freshly-released autopsy results reveal that Terri Schiavo was blind:
Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin concluded that…her brain was about half of normal size when she died. …
Thogmartin says her brain was “profoundly atrophied” — and that the damage was “irreversible.” He also says, “The vision centers of her brain were dead” — meaning she was blind.
Which makes Dr. Frist’s expert “diagnosis” all the more outrageous:
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”
“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”
(Think Progress, June 15, 2005)
I've posted before about Zazzle.com, which lets you turn your own photos into postage. My own letters, for example, go out adorned with pictures of my beautiful newborn goddaughter.
But she may get some competition now. Zazzle is selling postage stamps with celebrity kisses on them. (Clicking on the link makes the loud sound of a smooch, so it is NSFW) The proceeds go to one of my favorite charities, The Humane Society.
It's as close as I'll probably ever come to a kiss from Charlotte Ross, Rachel Bilson, Amy Smart, or Wendie Malick. (I'm choosing to ignore Gene Simmons, Loretta Swit, and Margaret Cho)
By the way, in case you can't quite place the name Charlotte Ross with the beautiful and talented actress, below is another picture to jog your memory. And to remind you what a better class of people you meet when you're nice to animals as opposed to when you kill them.
No, not to cuddle up with Jennifer Love Hewitt... to look eye-to-eye with my iSight camera. But the folks at MacMice have ridden to my emotional rescue with the SightFlex gooseneck stand for the iSight.
It has a sturdy base, and firewire at both ends. Why juggle the complicated attachments that come with the camera? Just stand this thing up and bend it like you like it!
Also, MacMice makes a really cool aluminum bluetooth mouse and I use it all the time. It has two buttons. Don't tell Steve Jobs.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Not just because it's the funniest show on television.
Last week, Jon's guest was perhaps France's most celebrated philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Tonight he has Randy Jackson.
Tomorrow, Charles Barkley.
Then Wednesday, historian Michael Beschloss.
I love this show.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are my four-times-a-week coping mechanism.
I don't know about you, but all this Oprah talk leaves me desperately in need of a palate cleansing. To the rescue comes Diora Baird.
Not too long ago I had the chance to meet her and work all too briefly with her. Truly the best part of my job is meeting extremely beautiful women like Diora... but very few of them are as bright and funny and talented as she is. You'll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.
Newsweek is just one of the kajillions of media outlets writing about Oprah's genius, her virtue, her goodness and wonder. All of this in the wake of her hour-long Benihana-ing of James Frey.
"It was a master class in bravery," her close friend Diane Sawyer told Newsweek. "She reminded everyone of the ... power of telling the truth."
Put aside for the moment that if not for Oprah, I would never have heard the words "James Frey" in my life, and I wish I'd still never heard them.
Here's another quote from the article:
In its 20 years on the air, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" has operated with a simple credo: to thine own self be true. The formula has made Oprah her billions. ("I think the show's been successful," she told Newsweek last fall, "because I'm always aiming for the truth.")
But let's even put aside for the moment that her entire career is actually built on lies: she's the one who invented toxic trash TV, yet she positions herself as the one who "cleaned it up." (She's also the one who invented touchy-feely TV, but then she was the one who invented "straight talk" TV.)
She's like the huckster who comes to town selling a snake oil that causes smallpox, then comes around the following week with a snake oil to cure it.
But Oprah pulls the same scam over and over, and has been doing so for twenty years.
But let's put all that aside and focus only on the hour itself. The "Master Class."
Any other talk show host would have apologized at the top of the show and then moved on. That's not bravery. That's not integrity. That's what you're SUPPOSED to do when you make a mistake. You admit it, you apologize, you move on.
But what Oprah did for the next 57 minutes was to turn and point at Frey and Talese and the publishing industry and scream in a loud, shrill voice, "It wasn't my fault! They lied to me! They lied to all of us!!! They're nothing but dirty birds!! Don't blame me! Blame THEM!!"
No matter what you think of Frey, that was the most cowardly act I've seen on television in a very long time.
Tomorrow night's State of the Union ramble doesn't have to be the agonizing ordeal you know it will be. You can watch it while listening to the folks at Air America Radio doing MST3K-style commentary. And, if you're an Air America Radio Premium member (as I proudly am), you can watch it live over the "Internets."
(Air America Premium membership has other privileges, by the way, including being able to subscribe to any Air America show as a podcast.)
Inspired by a flight where he found himself happily seated next to Miss Texas, Peter Shankman set up AirTroductions to give travelers a chance to choose their seatmates.
"It is for anyone who travels who does not want to have to deal with the psychological hell of sitting 2 inches from someone you don't know for eight hours," he said.
To use AirTroductions, travelers register online, listing personal details in a profile. When they post their traveling itineraries, the registry provides information on other people taking the same flights. The registry is free until a user opts to contact a fellow traveler for a $5 fee. Typically, they meet in an airport, where they can arrange to sit together, Shankman said.
Nearly 4,500 people have enrolled, although only about 60 have made matches since the registry kicked off last fall, he said.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Gizmodo reports on the preparations ABC is making for broadcasting the Super Bowl in HD, including using wireless HD cameras and Advanced Optical Stabilization.
Which makes me think one thing: If the Super Bowl can be covered in HD, and SNL and The Tonight Show and Conan can, why can't, say, The Today Show?
Sofa, anchor desk, plaza.
Not the biggest technical challenge on Earth, I would think.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, as it plays out on Ford Field, the best line goes to The Daily Show's Rob Corddry: Commenting on the 30,000 layoffs last week at Ford, he said that the forty million dollars they spent on the naming rights could not have been better spent.