Saturday, March 31, 2007
Even though I was working this morning, I had the most relaxing time. I was listening to Live365's TV Show Radio. Today it was just songs that have played on Alias. Love it. Now I've moved into the Buffy/Angel catalog.
I receive no compensation for this, but if you don't know about Live365 check it out. It's free, but if you sign up as a VIP member, you'll be amazed at the sheer variety and specificity of stations you get. Plus you can listen on your TiVo (get a 30-day free trial by clicking here). Set the sleep timer on your TV and you'll drift off to dreamland happy.
Friday, March 30, 2007
TukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukka TukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukka TukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukka TukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukkaTukka
Is there anyone besides me who wants grab a golf club or baseball bat and head over to Vaseline corporate HQ?
Thursday, March 29, 2007
What's a guy to do? The bottom two on Idol last night were two of the only three I'm halfway interested in. The third is Gina, whom I just plain like. And her "I'll Stand By You" was the highlight for me. Haley is sweet, too.
They're both doomed.
As for Gwen Stefani... I love ya, Gwen, I really do, I'm a fan. But it's time to lose the Harajuku girls. You know how we all hate women who carry dogs around in their purses? You are actually using human beings as accessories. Plus it's a really offensive racial stereotype. AND it's annoying to have them capering around, distracting us from you.
And, finally, the whole bit is just plain played. Don't be that person. You're better than that. Seriously. It would be as if Elton John still showed up for every concert in the Donald Duck suit.
Now on to song choices.
The Police are an obvious influence on Gwen Stefani. Ditto Cyndi Lauper and The Pretenders. But Donna Summer? Influenced Gwen Stefani?? Whaaa? And both Lakisha and Melinda sang Donna Summer songs??
Shades of the "Vehicle" controversy.
In light of this, I make a prediction: When it's Country Week, Lakisha and Melinda will warble the down-home stylings of Aretha Franklin.
And if it's Beatles Week, they will sing some fab Natalie Cole. On Tony Bennett Week, they'll sing Ma Rainey.
On Carole Bayer Sager Week they'll both sing "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News."
And on Bono Week, they will sing, er, Aretha Franklin again.
The week before the finale will be, for some reason, a Weathergirls Night.
All so that Fauxretha and Miss Potato Head can skate away on the thin ice of a fixed show.
In a comment, Norm brought up the line between what's personal and what's fair game. I've been jotting these down for a long time, so I've seen for myself that it is a clearly-defined line. Some examples:
Katie's decision to keep working while her husband and sister were dying? Newt Gingrich cheating on his stricken wife and serving her divorce papers in the hospital? Personal.
John and Elizabeth Edwards? Fair game.
Bush's top domestic advisor arrested for shoplifting from Target? Laura Bush killing a guy? Dick Cheney shooting an old man in the face? Could happen to anyone.
Hillary Clinton's friend Vincent Foster killing himself? Clearly she murdered him, and even if she probably didn't let's investigate anyway.
Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole and Rudy Giuliani and GHW Bush and Helen Chenoweth and Henry Hyde and Bob Barr and Strom Thurmond and Bob Dornan and Ronald Reagan and Dan Burton cheating on their spouses? Personal.
Everything Bill Clinton does, real or imaginary? Fair game.
Fox News making up stories about Barack Obama? A simple mistake.
CBS News failing to properly authenticate a document about George W. Bush's failure to report for service? A document that, while inauthentic, was nonetheless accurate in every fact? Everyone involved must be fired!
Speaking of which, George W. Bush failing to report for service? Lies and, even if true, ancient history.
War heroes John Kerry's and Dan Murtha's "cowardice"? War hero Max Cleland's "ties to terrorists"? Fair game.
George W. Bush's utter failure to even pretend to have a domestic agenda -- except for a cruel bankruptcy law -- and the crashing-and-burning of his much-publicized, ludicrous Social Security and immigration "reforms"? His nonexistent alternative energy program? Where's the cars that run on wheatgrass? And aren't we supposed to be going to Mars? Hey, c'mon, you can't expect the man to bat a thousand!
Hillary Clinton's health care reform? A black mark to this day.
Strom Thurmond's record on race? Leave the old guy alone.
Bob Byrd's? Calls his integrity and character into question.
Bill O' Reilly's sleazy harassment? Nancy Reagan's being pregnant at her wedding? Personal.
The Arkansas state troopers' smears on Bill Clinton? Ann Coulter's claims that Bill Clinton is gay, and masturbated into White House sinks? So what if they all proved untrue, it's not the facts that count.
Mentioning Ronald Reagan's obviously-declining mental faculties in the debates? Wondering aloud about the extent of George W. Bush's obvious learning impairment? How dare you?!
John Kerry and Al Gore speak slowly? They must be stupid.
Bill O'Reilly calling everyone who disagrees with him a "pinhead" or a "Kool-Aid drinker"? Hey, he calls 'em like he sees 'em, for the good of the folks.
Bill Maher calling Bush a rube and a dolt? Why sink to name-calling?
McCain says the war is a waste of our troops' lives? Eh, you know what he meant.
Obama says the war is a waste of our troops' lives? HOW DARE HE?!
The Bush Twins' public drunkenness and arrest record? Personal.
The fact that Chelsea Clinton was once photographed at a fashion show with a drink and a cigarette? Fair game.
Newt Gingrich's weight? Personal.
Al Gore's weight? "Hilarious."
Questioning the President's integrity, motives and war plan when our troops are in harm's way in Bosnia? "Patriotism and healthy debate."
Questioning the president's integrity, motives and war plan when our troops are in harm's way in Iraq? "Aid and comfort to the enemy."
Lying to Congress? To reporters? To the American people? Faking evidence to justify an illegal invasion? "Losing" nine billion dollars in Iraq? Halliburton knowingly giving infected drinking water to our troops? The Defense Department deliberately passing up vehicles that would save our soldiers' lives in favor of inferior vehicles made by cronies? Bush and Cheney refusing to testify under oath to the 9/11 Commission? Rove and Meiers refusing to testify under oath to Congress? Firing U.S. Attorneys for political reasons, then covering it up? "I don't see a crime here." "Where's the harm? Where's the crime?"
Whitewater, a petty Arkansas land deal? "We need TWO Special Prosecutors!"
The Bush Twins being "asked to leave" Argentina? Colin Powell knowingly lying to the UN? Bush on tape groping the German Chancellor? Cheney telling Sen. Leahy to "go fuck yourself" in the Senate chambers? Bush, his mouth full, calling out "Yo, Blair" and using the word "shit"? Don't make a big deal out of it.
Natalie Maines stating her opinion in England? An embarrassment on the world stage!
George W. Bush stopping our troops from catching Osama Bin Laden. Eh, Osama's not really important in the scheme of things, he's seldom on the president's mind.
Bill Clinton's failure to kill Osama? A grotesque failure. Besides the whole attempt was clearly a "wag the dog" and should be criticized. While our troops were in harm's way.
Outing a covert CIA agent tasked to Korean WMD's for political reasons? Is it really technically "illegal"?
Sandy Berger absentmindedly taking documents from the National Archive, that were so non-sensitive he already had copies of them? Treason!
Karl Rove: "Senator, would you define 'know' for me?" John McCain: "Depends on what the definition of 'negligent' is'" Nothing wrong with that.
Clinton: "Depends on what the meaning of the word" is" is." SLEAZEBAG PERJURY!
Liars Caspar Weinberger, Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter, all pardoned? Oliver North, a convicted liar and felon, pardoned so he could become a celebrity and lecture all of us on morality and integrity? What's the problem?
Susan McDougal sent to federal prison for contempt because she refused to give testimony that she knew to be untrue? Listen, you gotta break a few eggs...
Firing eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons? The president has every right to do that.
Firing seven White House Travel Office employees for political reasons? We need a Special Prosecutor!
An irrational hysteria is whipped up over the avian flu and the millions it will kill? And Tamiflu, a treatment of questionable value, is nonetheless stockpiled by the government and the international community and demand far exceeds production? And the Chairman of the Board of the company that developed Tamiflu was, until 2001, Donald Rumsfeld?
Er... Did we mention that Barack Obama smokes?
Bush and Cheney repeatedly claiming and/or implying a link between Sadaam and 9/11, every now and then denying they ever said any such thing? Cheney publicly claiming we'd found Iraqi chemical weapons labs for over a year after he received proof it wasn't true? Cheney and Bush lie about the yellowcake though the CIA told them it wasn't true, then Cheney blames the CIA for giving him bad intel? Then they give a Medal of Freedom to the Director of the CIA? You're making a lot of connections here, you must be mistaken.
Al Gore saying he "invented the Internet"? The man's a liar! (And, of course, he never really said that. He said he "took the initiative in creating the Internet"... which is undeniably true. The fake quote was a lie by -- wait for it -- George W. Bush. )
Wait, are you saying Bush lied? You're making lot of connections here, you must be mistaken. And Obama's name sounds like "Osama." And he smokes.
You get the pattern, right?
Let's look once more at the media-manufactured "controversy" over John and Elizabeth Edwards' decision to continue with the campaign.
Immediately following the announcement, there was much goodwill and sympathy. As there should have been. In the middle of their personal nightmare, Senator and Mrs. Edwards gave us a gift. They showed us that even in the toxic media landscape, it was possible to offer love, dignity, strength and sacrifice to us, like some beautiful rose
... and Rush Limbaugh and Katie Couric ground the rose up and used it to fertilize a hideous, stinking titan arum. (If you don't know what a titan arum is, imagine Rush Limbaugh and Katie Couric having sex. Now imagine a plant that smells like that mattress.)
Now a lot of people are throwing around words like heartless and stupid and callous and selfish and ambitious and doormat and grasping and subservient and many even worse. To hear some pundits, you would think it was time to call Child Protective Services and have the children taken out of the home. How could they keep on campaigning?? What kind of people are these Edwardses... if that is their name? Continuing a presidential campaign instead of giving it up?
I was baffled, I have to admit. I wasn't sure what people thought they should do.
Should he quit everything, she quits everything, they pull the kids out of school, and they all sit in the living room facing each other until she dies?
Maybe people think they could do stuff together, family stuff. They could, for instance, all take up speed-dialing for Sanjaya. (Hey, unlike us, a dying person doesn't have to live with the consequences.)
Or maybe the right wing wanted Edwards to start sleeping around, and then one day walk into his wife's hospital room with divorce papers. The Gingrich Gambit. They seem to like that.
Nah... I don't think it's in Edwards' wheelhouse. Besides, I didn't understand why there was a discussion at all. I tried, I really did.
Whenever I'm wrestling with an issue or a decision, there's a method I always use to sort it out in my mind. I've hinted at it a few times in past posts without explaining it, so here it is, for what it's worth: I call it the Mad Libs Method.
All I do is replace a word or phrase in the topic with another word or phrase, and see how that changes my perspective. And I keep doing that until I zero in on a logical conclusion. Hey, it's not exactly Socrates, but it works for me.
It's fun and educational, trust me, and it always works... but I'll write more about it at some future date. Meanwhile, back to Senator Edwards. Here's a passage from the Couric interview:
KC: Some people watching this would say, "I would put my family first always, and my job second." And you're doing the exact opposite. You're putting your work first, and your family second.
JE: But this is not work. Work is what I did as a lawyer. This is service. This is... this is a country that I love – both of us love, as much as we love our lives.
KC: I guess some people would say that there's some middle ground. You don't have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, and do nothing. But, if given a finite – a possibly finite period of time on the planet – being on the campaign trail, away from my children, a lot of time, and sort of pursuing this goal, is not, necessarily, what I'd do.
Let's replace the words "being on the campaign trail" with "following the Police on tour."
Makes the Senator a bit of a prick, it's true... but that's no good, because then what he said before wouldn't make sense. We need a phrase that would still work with the others. Hmmm...
Service... country... I got it!
What about, "enlisting to fight in Iraq"?
Now we're getting somewhere.
If Couric were interviewing a man who was going to serve in Iraq... who was leaving his children and his stricken wife behind because they had all decided he could serve his country better in uniform, would anyone be okay with her "grilling" him about selfishness and priorities?
We lionize people who join the military, and we glorify the spouses who wait at home with infants and toddlers. They're "extraordinary" and "brave" and "sacrifice" for "honor"... (and I agree, they are!)
No one speaks of our military's"selfish ambition" or refers to Gold Star families as"doormats." I saw a glowing profile of a couple on Today a month or so ago. These people were married, had little babies... and both of them were going to Iraq. BOTH!
Without diminishing my gratitude for their service, can I at least get you to agree that's an example of "putting work first and family second"?
But people think of the military as "service" and not "work."
But they also serve who stay and run.
If Senator Edwards feels our nation is in crisis, and he and his wife deeply believe that he can make this country a profoundly better place, then isn't his decision a generous act of public service? As much as joining the Army is?
Besides, shouldn't country always come before family? Isn't that exactly why some are willing to leave their loved ones behind and go fight in some godforsaken desert?
Maybe that's an old-fashioned idea: Contrast the hero of Casablanca with the hero of The English Patient, and you'll see just how far we've fallen. It seems to be a movie trend. Used to be the heroes of movies went to war and gave up everything they loved for their country. Now they join the army, but desert if they get word their girlfriend is in trouble. (Or are like the movie suburban Dad, who at the end decides to blow off the big presentation at work, jeopardizing the jobs of a hundred fellow employees, because he owes it to his son to go to some soccer game.)
In the first Spiderman movie, when the weighty duties of being Spidey outweighed true love, audiences were disgruntled. Giving up a girl to save the world? Seems unAmerican.
Our military is extraordinary... but non-soldiers make choices out of a sense of responsibility and patriotism, too. Every day. Some of them put their lives on the line just as surely as soldiers do.
Cops and firefighters get car magnets, it's true. But when's the last time you saw a ribbon honoring the Bomb Squad?
Or the FBI? Treasury or ATF agents? Or people who work in biosafety labs, handling Ebola? Or teachers or sanitation workers or city exterminators or gas company or nuclear power plant employees or all the other people who use their expertise in dangerous situations because it's the right thing to do and we need them?
What about someone who makes himself the target of death threats, opposition research, Swift Boat smear campaigns, character assassination and of being called a "faggot"... all because he and his wife see injustice and poverty in our country and wanto do something. All because they think he can make a difference.
Because they see government service as a remedy for the people, not a way to funnel cash to your cronies so they'll put you on their Boards of Directors after you leave office.
People like Katie and Rush can belittle people like Senator Edwards (and Michael J. Fox) because they have no respect for selflessness. They don't even recognize it when they see it. They think the whole world begins and ends at their lawns or their car doors or their medication bottles.
Thank God there are people who are better than that. Like our troops... and like Senator and Mrs. Edwards.
Monday, March 26, 2007
You can't see Maria Grazia Cucinotta without thinking "grazie."
Ti ringrazio molto.
Perfectly put, from Joseph Hughes' Blog:
Some people just saw you interview John and Elizabeth Edwards on "60 Minutes". Others did not. Even those who did see you interview the Edwardses are of two minds about it. Some people who did see the interview thought it was a moving profile of two courageous individuals. Others who saw it thought that, while the last statement is true, you, on the other hand, did a terrible job and did journalism a disservice. Some people will surely come away thinking you legitimized the shameful opinions of the far-right fringe by couching them in relative anonymity. Other people will come away thinking you did that because you agree with them. So, some people will think you're simply a hack, while others will think you're a partisan joke. A third group will think both. What would you say to those people?
Annoying, isn't it, Katie?
I'm not sure exactly how many people still, for some unknown reason, consider you a journalist. I suppose you can't really blame them if they do, seeing as you are indeed the host of a nightly news broadcast. The same one, in fact, Walter Cronkite once hosted. You, Katie, are no Walter Cronkite. And on the same network, in fact, for whom Edward R. Murrow once worked. You, Katie, are no Edward R. Murrow. But those who saw your interview of the Edwardses Sunday night witnessed firsthand not only how much the field of journalism has suffered of late, but also how poorly amateurs like you have treated it. In other words, calling you a journalist is like calling President Bush a sophisticate.
You see, in your attempt to conduct an even-handed conversation with the Edwardses, you committed, on myriad occasions, lazy journalism. Your repeated use of the "some say" construction - a FOX News staple - was both especially annoying and professionally irresponsible. Some people didn't say John Edwards's decision to stay in the race despite last week's news was political opportunism. Rush Limbaugh did. Twice. So, too, did the always offensive fringe elements at the Free Republic. But by shielding the Limbaughs of the world from responsibility for their ridiculous statements, you made it appear as though they are shared by many others.
Of course, by this morning, Katie's and Rush's imaginary "some people" had somehow magically grown in number and importance. They were now "critics" and "many." Here's how Today opened this morning:
You gotta love the echo chamber.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
So pardon my bad mood.
I was moved by the dignity and grace Senator and Mrs. Edwards showed in that extraordinary press conference. I was particularly struck by how these two very religious people kept that part of their lives to themselves, rather than diluting their faith by exploiting it.
It's especially remarkable given that most politicians wouldn't dare pass up the chance to cloak themselves in religion. George W. Bush, in particular, mawkishly name-checks The Almighty more than all the NFL quarterbacks and American Music Award winners combined.
I always find it fascinating that "super-Christian-better-than-us" George W. Bush almost never attends church. He only goes to ceremonial services, preferring to do his regular worship "in private." (Presumably untranscribed and not under oath.) Ronald Reagan also slept in most Sundays. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, went to church as often as possible. I'm just saying.
(I also find it fascinating to point out, lest anyone forget, that Nancy Reagan was pregnant when she married Ronnie, and Laura Bush killed a guy. Let's never ever forget those things.)
But I digress. Back to why Couric is pissing me off.
She has just finished asking the Edwards her fifth consecutive version of the same question. Each time, their answers were dignified, inspiring, moving, and still didn't satisfy Katie.
Those who've followed her career know that when Katie starts a question with "Some would say..." or "What do you say to those..." she's really talking about herself. There is no "some" or "those"... It's just her. And Couric's pretend people apparently wanted her to ask the same question over and over. And Katie must obey her imaginary friends.
In a nutshell this was the question: How can they justify continuing to work when they have so little time left together? Doesn't the Senator belong with his wife? How can he work and take care of her? And shouldn't they both be devoting all this precious time to their children?
Excuse me, but when Jay Monahan was battling cancer, did Katie Couric leave her job? Did she say to NBC, "Listen, we have little girls, Jay is sick, I gotta take the next 8 or 9 months off"?
I don't believe so, but I could be wrong. If Katie Couric was absent from Today for nine months that awful year and I simply didn't notice, I stand corrected.
If, however, she and her family decided that she should work during that time, then there's a reason it hasn't come up: No one has any right to question or criticize that decision.
How a family chooses to deal with a crisis was nobody's business then, and it's nobody's business now.