Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Felt like the time for Deep Throat

Well, never trust a guy who calls himself "Deep Throat."

Maybe it's too early, but shouldn't this story be a bigger deal?

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, May 31 - Deep Throat, the mystery man who reigned as Washington's best-kept secret source for more than 30 years, was not just any shadowy, cigarette-smoking tipster in a raincoat. He was the No. 2 official of the F.B.I., W. Mark Felt, who helped The Washington Post unravel the Watergate scandal and the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, a feat that he lived to see disclosed on Tuesday, frail but smiling at 91.

In a final plot twist worthy of the saga that Mr. Felt helped to spawn, Vanity Fair magazine released an article from its July issue reporting that Mr. Felt, long a prime suspect to Nixon himself, had in recent years confided to his family and friends, "I'm the guy they used to call 'Deep Throat.' "

Within hours - after Mr. Felt himself, in failing health since suffering a stroke in 2001, appeared in the doorway of his daughter's home in Santa Rosa, Calif., - The Post confirmed his role. He was the official who encouraged its reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to follow the trail from the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington to the highest levels of the Nixon administration.

Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein initially declined to confirm the Vanity Fair article, believing they had promised Mr. Felt unconditional confidentiality till his death. Meanwhile, The Post, which had guarded the secret as closely as the formula for Coca-Cola, suddenly found itself scrambling to deal with a monthly magazine's scoop of the final footnote to the biggest story in its history.

"It's been The Post's story forever," said Tom Wilkinson, an assistant managing editor of the paper, "and you never like to see those things go to somebody else."

Mr. Felt spent more than 30 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a protégé of its legendary director, J. Edgar Hoover, and was bitterly disappointed after Hoover's death in May 1972 - a month before the Watergate break-in - that Nixon went outside the agency for a new chief. In the past, he repeatedly denied being Deep Throat, and his family said he had been torn about whether to reveal his role and about whether his actions were appropriate for a law enforcement officer.

In a time when the Watergate scandal seems to be especially relevant, Watergate seems to have very little actual impact on this generation. Which is maybe the final nail in our cultural coffin.

And man, he really screwed Woodward & Bernstein out of their scoop...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Lest we forget...

While we're all enjoying our barbecues and cookouts, don't forget to take a moment out of the day to reflect on the many sacrifices made by generations of American men and women so that we can enjoy three-day weekends...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Search your peelings..."

I know it's not Thursday...but here's some good, home grown organic geekiness for you from a grocery far, far away:

With quotes like, "He's now more chemical than vegetable," Store Wars is certain to entertain and inform you. Join the organic rebellion. And may the Farm be with you...always.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Things that occur to me when I watch BEST WEEK EVER

  • Because I've been doing stand-up in New York, I know more and more of the comics on Best Week Ever. So, it's either going to be a matter of time before I end up on Best Week Ever, or it's just a matter of time before I start crying myself to sleep because all my friends are on Best Week Ever...

  • Jimmy Kimmel impersonating Jay Leno on the E! True Hollywood Re-Enactment of the Michael Jackson Trial is probably the funniest thing he's ever done and totally awesome.

  • Going on Oprah Winfrey to jump up and down on a couch and attacking Oprah to prove you're in love with Katie Holmes...is totally gay.

  • I know that uptight parents are all upset over the soft core porn Paris Hilton commercial for Carl's Jr. Which is awesome, since more people have seen the commercial now that the numbnuts brigade has drawn such attention to it. The Carl's Jr. website has an entire section devoted to it, now. I know their ad execs are showering themselves in champagne and hookers right now over how smart they were to use Paris. Congrats, fellas. You made it. And I don't have a problem with Paris Hilton hosing herself off and chowing down on some sloppy meat for thirty seconds...the problem I have with the commercial is their choice of song. I know they're giggling to themselves over lines like "I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles..." but come on guys! It's Cole Porter! Have some respect, man! It's Cole Porter! They might as well be dry humping the man's grave. Actually, they pretty much are dry humping the man's grave. Oh, pop culture. Also, I anxiously await the day when we, as a culture, no longer find Paris Hilton "hot." If they weren't so busy jerking off to her, I'm pretty sure the Right-Wingers would be declaring Paris yet another reason to hate the French.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Weird. Just...weird.

So, a few weeks ago, I posted here about that kid in Georgia who was suspended after talking to his mom in Iraq on a cell phone.

I even posted two follow-ups to the story. All pretty normal. Anyway, the story mentions the assistant principal of the school, a guy named Alfred Parham. All right. Nothing unusual. The post generated some more-than-usual traffic for this blog, which was cool. But nothing weird or unusual.


Tonight, I was digging through this blog to find a reference and I discovered that someone was posting comments about the story. So my question is two-fold:

Why is someone claiming to be "Jackie Kane Parham" posting comments to my blog about how crummy her ex-husband, Alfred, is? And why is she posting these comments in a thread about American Idol?


Just some quick thoughts on our beloved two-party system. Our democratic form of government here in the good ol' US of A is founded upon the principle that a competitive two-party system - with opposite political beliefs - can most effectively govern through extensive debate of their views and then, finally, through effective compromise, combining the best elements of the two opposing views.

Yes. That's right. Our political system is founded upon the idea that the best way to govern in a democracy is through a system of COMPROMISE. Partisanship was (is) a necessary tool in drummin' up support and making a strong case, but the ultimate end is not for one party or one side to win out over the other; the ultimate goal is supposed to be to reach an effective compromise that benefits both sides. And, obviously, when one party is in power, that party should make out a little bit better in the deal...nothing wrong with that.

So, why is the GOP so upset about the current "filibuster compromise"...? Don't they like our democracy? Don't they like living in a country where individuals can vehemently disagree but, at the end of the day, hammer out a deal where both sides get something?

The truth is, no. Just read any commentary by any of the right-wing hacks and you'll see what I mean. From Michelle Malkin to Peggy Noonan, the idea of compromise is so distasteful and disgusting, they can hardly stand it. And that's the problem with today's GOP.

To them, compromise is not seen as the triumphant end result of extensive debate between opposing sides; it is seen as weakness. They view their opponents (fellow Americans) as bad guys and will settle for no less than complete victory. Whatever that means. The fact that 14 Senators from both sides of the isle were able to come together and maintain a fragile coalition of bi-partisanship to help keep Congress moving forward in the acrid, contentious arena of today's political landscape should have been hailed as a major victory for AMERICAN DEMOCRACY - the very thing that sets us apart from other nations and reminds us that no matter our differing political views, at the end of the day, we are all Americans.

But the hardliners in the GOP do not see that, nor do they want to admit that.

Compromise. It is the bedrock of American democracy and the foundation of the two-party system. It is an American ideal and the embodiment of cooperation and teamwork.

But to many of the power-mad right-wing hacks, it is just another dirty word.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Why should you care about the current "debate" over Public Broadcasting? Why should spurious charges over liberal bias (despite a lack of real evidence) concern you? Why should you care about the rantings of a few right-wing nutjobs? Because it's not a new fight. It's the same war that was waged many, many years ago.

And Kenneth Tomlinson, the man leading the charge to disgrace and dismantle the last bastion of objective reporting - public broadcasting - is no stranger to smear campaigns. He learned his trade well - during the halcyon days of the McCarthy era.

As Salon reports:

Tomlinson's attempt to push back the so-called liberal media is not surprising given his journalistic past -- which is where Fulton Lewis Jr., the broadcaster with the intriguing, albeit distant, connection to the ongoing debate, comes in. A prominent radio broadcaster in the '40s, '50s and '60s, Lewis was known for his complete lack of objectivity. At his commercial peak he was heard on more than 500 radio stations and boasted a weekly audience of 16 million listeners. An erstwhile Rush Limbaugh, Lewis was the master of the partisan smear who rarely strayed from GOP talking points. In 1948, New York Herald Tribune radio columnist John Crosby suggested that Lewis "ought to be recognized as a campaigner, not as a commentator, and his national air time be paid for and so listed by the Republican National Committee."

In 1949 the New Republic noted that Lewis' "wild charges were part of his campaign over many years to smear in every way possible the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and everybody not in accord with the most reactionary political beliefs."

What's THIS? A political pundit trashing FDR's New Deal? Hmmm....I'm beginning to get the strongest sense of deja vu...all over again. Salon continues:

Hunting communists became a full-time job for Lewis. According to a flattering 1954 biography of the broadcaster, "Praised and Damned: The Story of Fulton Lewis, Jr.," Lewis was "as close to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy as any other man in the national scene." Look magazine agreed, calling Lewis one of McCarthy's "masterminds."

In "Praised and Damned" Lewis describes his loyalty to McCarthy this way: "When you know an individual to be attempting to do a public service, a patriotic service, and you see him maligned by groups which are not thinking in the public interest, you have a tendency to be a little over-generous with the guy."

Even after McCarthy was revealed as a phony who could not document his claims that hundreds of communists had infiltrated the federal government, Lewis remained loyal. Over time, the broadcaster's reputation faded, and today he's a largely forgotten figure (although in 1987 the Washington Post remembered Lewis as "one of the most unprincipled journalists ever to practice the trade

Okay, okay. So this guy Lewis was one of McCarthy's "masterminds" - a fear-monger peddling hate and lies. An "unprincipled journalist." Yadda, yadda. Big deal. That's so 50 years ago. That can't possibly be relevant to today's political partisan climate.

What's interesting about Lewis now is that two men at the forefront of the effort to rid public broadcasting of its presumed liberal bias both learned journalism at his knee. One, CPB chief Tomlinson, worked as an intern for Lewis. The other, William Schulz, whom Tomlinson recently named as one of the CPB's two ombudsmen, was a writer for Lewis.

Ah. Well. Hm.

To some, the idea that these two are in charge of promoting objective journalism in public broadcasting is appalling. "It's shocking and disgraceful," says former New York Times columnist and reporter Anthony Lewis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage during the McCarthy era. "If both men wrote for Fulton Lewis it means they were dedicated to an extreme-right position that should disqualify them from determining somebody's objectivity."

While there is no mention on Tomlinson's official CPB bio of his association with Lewis, an Oct. 16, 2002, NewsMax.com article reported: "Tomlinson's resume also includes an internship with the late Fulton Lewis Jr., a conservative network commentator in the 'pre-Rush' days of AM radio."

Likewise, the bio of Schulz that the CPB posted online after he was named one of its ombudsmen fails to mention his connection with Lewis. But in a 1997 interview, Schulz recalled, "I went to Antioch College in Ohio, and they had a work-study program, and I got a couple of newspaper jobs, and then I worked for Human Events. Then I went to work for Fulton Lewis Jr., who was a radio commentator and columnist."

Both Tomlinson and Schulz declined to comment for this article. Lewis died in 1966.

So, for those keeping score, extreme right-wing idealogues who were trained by one of McCarthy's "masterminds" are now in charge of making PBS "Fair and Balanced." Because, in the neo-America, fair and balanced = hard-line party hack. I'm just guessing here. I don't have Karl Rove's talking points in front of me.

Doesn't it scare people that the very same people who once dragged our nation through a divisive and hateful crusade against truth, justice, and decency are once again attempting to subvert and destroy our country? Using the same tactics of lies and deception, these men are fighting the same war they lost decades ago, all over again.

I guess General MacArthur was right. "Old soldiers never die...."

...I just wish these guys would fade away already!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Job

Just started a new job this week. More work, less blogging.

In the meantime, check out my upcoming show:

I've written a bunch of sketches for it. And I'm performing in it. Oh, and I'm directing it. Check out our evolving website and order your tickets today, while you still can, bub.

More later.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Echo Taps

Just wanted to draw people's attention to something my father is participating in today:

Echo Taps.

Beginning at 11 AM this morning:

A bugler at the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira NY will play Taps. A second bugler will follow by playing a taps echo. This will be followed by a third, forth, fifth… The echo will continue toward a second National Cemetery located at the Bath, NY VA Center, traveling at a rate of 60 miles per hour. The total distance covered will be 41 miles. This will require a minimum of 410 buglers playing Taps between the two national cemeteries.

My father is one of the final buglers in Bath, NY.

Many Veterans pass away without receiving the military honors they are due. With this event, they hope to raise public awareness, to honor the sacrifices of our Nation's many veterans who have answered their country's call, and to "provide a better understanding of the significance of TAPS and the importance of these simple but solemn musical notes to our veterans and their family members."

The first note will be played at 11 AM, culminating in the final echo at 12:30 this afternoon.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Because I know you've been waiting for MY thoughts on the Sith...

As I've said before, reviews are pretty pointless when it comes to Star Wars. In the end, all that really matters is: Did I enjoy it? Would I see it again?

In the case of Revenge of the Sith, the answers are yes and yes.

I enjoyed it. Great action and a pretty satisfying resolution to stuff, all nitpicking aside. With so much jammed into this one, it just further illustrated how superfluous and irrelevant the first two prequals were. This movie had some truly AMAZING moments, some bad dialogue, and one horribly unexpected bad moment which was just terrible.

The volcano duel was amazing, and the sight of Yoda climbing onto Chewbacca made my geek heart skip a beat. A spectacular opening sequence, complete with some great R2-D2 heroics and slapstick comedy that (surprise!) was fun to watch! Also, Sith contained probably the greatest climax of any of the Star Wars movies. Which is pretty cool.

The dialogue provided some good unintentional humor at times and the ONLY scene I truly cursed was the awful Darth Vader-as-Frankenstein scene at the end. Had Lucas simply ended that scene with the mask being affixed and Vader breathing for the first time, 'twould have been near perfect. But the breaking of the chains and the cheesy howling almost ruined it for me. Which is funny, because I thought that the only thing you couldn't screw up in Star Wars was a scene with Darth Vader. But, as Obi Wan once said: "I was wrong." In the future, I'll just simply mentally edit that particular moment out...

But overall, great flick. Speaking as a Star Wars fanatic and as someone who does not own Episodes I or II on DVD or VHS, I say with all sincerity that I would gladly place Episode III alongside the original trilogy (non-remastered, natch!) in my video collection.

Which is it?

Okay, so here's the thing. At the beginning of the week, the White House scolded Newsweek, saying that a blurb they printed incited violence. Today, in the wake of the Saddam photos, the White house says this:

President Bush said Friday he did not believe the photos would incite further anti-American sentiment in Iraq, which is edging toward open sectarian conflict.

"I don't think a photo inspires murderers," Bush said at the White House. "These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric."

He added, "I think the insurgency is inspired by their desire to stop the march of freedom."

Okay. So, I actually agree that photos and news articles don't inspire murderers. Terrorists may use these things as an excuse, but they're motivated by deeper hatreds.

But this sudden defense of the press just underscores how ridiculous it was to berate Newsweek so harshly...

Of course, this little fact may help protect both The Sun and The Post from harsh criticism:

Both The Sun and the Post are controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Sun managing editor Graham Dudman told The Associated Press in London the newspaper paid "a small sum" for the photos.

I wonder. Had the photos been printed in...let's say Newsweek...I wonder if the White House would still adhere to the stance that photos don't inspire murderers, or if we'd be hearing another harsh rebuke of the so-called liberal media's irresponsible reporting...

The US military has condemned the Saddam photos and even worse, they could potentially be illegal and violate the Geneva Conventions (not that the US cares anymore). Isn't that a worse offense than printing an unsubstantiated claim in Newsweek? Again, I'm waiting to hear the Right-Wingers' indignation at "angering the Muslim world" now. Of course, now that the Muslim world is truly angered by an actual breach of security, trust, and international law...well. There ya go.


Why would anyone think it was a good idea to print pics of Saddam Hussein in his underwear?! When I woke up this morning, the last thing I wanted to see was Saddam's package. Ugh.

Outrage us.

So, I'm sure Scott McClellan will be blasting the NY Post for running pictures of Saddam Hussein which have outraged Shiites. Right? I mean, he'll demand an apology from the paper...right? Anything less would be ... dare I say it ... hypocritical. Right? I mean, since people's lives are being lost and all.

Thousands of Shiites, many waving Islam's holy book over their heads, protested the U.S. presence in Iraq on Friday after the detention of several supporters of a radical cleric, while Sunnis shut down places of worship elsewhere in a show of anger over alleged sectarian violence against the minority.

The U.S. military also launched what it said would be an aggressive investigation into how a British newspaper got pictures of an imprisoned Saddam Hussein clad only in his underwear, saying the photos violated military guidelines and possibly the Geneva convention on the humane treatment of prisoners.

The photos, which appeared on the front pages of the British tabloid Sun and the New York Post and were broadcast across the Middle East by some Arab satellite networks, were expected to fuel anti-American sentiment among supporters of the former dictator who are believed to be the driving force behind the country's insurgency.

The Shiite protests in the southern cities of Najaf, Kufa and Nasiriyah, came as Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced that he will visit Syria, which has been accused of harboring insurgents bent on starting a civil war in Iraq.

The protests, which drew an estimated total of 6,000 demonstrators in the three cities, followed radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's call Wednesday to reject the U.S. occupation of Iraq by painting Israeli and American flags on the ground outside mosques to be stepped on in protest raids against holy places.

In violence elsewhere, a suicide bombing targeting the house of Iraqi national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, killed two civilians and wounded three in the Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah, police said.

After the explosion, gunmen in the nearby Azamiyah area opened fire at a U.S. base in Kazimiyah on the western side of the Tigris River, witnesses said. The gunmen later fled, they added. Witnesses reported seeing U.S. Apache attack helicopters firing rockets into the neighborhood.

A U.S. soldier also was killed early Friday in a vehicle accident caused by roadside bomb attack near Taji, 10 miles north of Baghdad, the military said. At least 1,628 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Al-Sadr's call for protests was made a day after U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 13 of his supporters during a raid on a Shiite mosque in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. Iraqi troops confiscated weapons from the mosque.

Al-Sadr, a burly, black-bearded cleric, launched two uprisings against U.S. forces in Baghdad and Najaf in April and August last year, then went into hiding before surfacing on Monday to demand that U.S.-led forces withdraw from the country.

"From this platform, we warn the government not to fight the al-Sadr movement because all the tyrants of the world could not beat it," Hazim al-Araji, the imam of a mosque in Kufa during Friday;s sermon. "We say to the government do not be a tyrant like Saddam or (former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad) Allawi."

In the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kufa, al-Sadr followers painted American and Israeli flags on most streets near mosques before stepping on them.

"Down, down Israel; down, down USA," chanted protesters following midday prayers at a Kufa mosque.

In Nasiriyah, 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, al-Sadr supporters clashed with guards at the headquarters of Dhi Qar provincial governor, Aziz Abed Alwan.

Personally, I think extremists who would protest over an inaccurate Newsweek article or photos in US and British papers are looking for an excuse to protest, so I don't see how any news agency should be held responsible for acts of terrorism or violence against Americans. From where I stand, claiming that a news report is responsible for violence against Americans takes the responsibility away from the terrorists. That type of rhetoric just feeds the terrorists' rationalizations, no? But since Scott McClellan decided to make such a big deal out of the Newsweek article, I would expect him to at least be consistent in his righteous indignation.

I would anxiously await McClellan's statement on this latest development...but I'm not holding my breath here.

Keeping up with the Chappelles

So, as I hypothesized earlier, Comedy Central has embraced the "Dave's crazy and has disappeared!!" hype. Yesterday, I caught an in-house ad where the Comedy Central announcer is leaving numerous messages on Dave's answering machine, wondering where he is. The ad was plugging an upcoming Dave-a-thon that they're running of his show and comedy specials.

Good for them. It's a great marketing tool and the best example of turning crazy into "crazy-ade." And it shows that - as is appropriate for a comedy network - they've maintained a healthy sense of humor about the whole thing. That's pretty cool.

It's still funny how the news continues to push the "crazy Dave angle" by taking his quotes out of context. In other news, Dave says "...I'm...hearing voices ... help ... can't stop ... them ... kill."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Obi-Wan never told you the truth..."

Rationalization #2,987:

Ya just can't trust anything that Obi-Wan Kenobi says. I mean, everything the old geezer said in the original trilogy turned out to be a big ol' fat lie. Turns out, Vader was telling the truth all along. And not just "from a certain point of view."

Judging from the other two prequals, Obi-Wan was probably just too embarassed to tell Luke what REALLY happened. And honestly, if I had lived through Episodes I and II like Obi-Wan, I would've made up a bunch of bullshit to tell Luke, too.

"Oh, your father. Um, he was cool. Hey, look at this neat-o lightsaber!"

In less than five hours, I will be watching Episode III. Aw, yeah.

All these years, Obi-Wan tried to protect us from the awful truth about what really happened. He tried to shield us from the terrible knowledge of how truly lame the Old Republic was...and now we know. He tried to hide it from us. "Now his failure is complete."

Hehehehe. In honor of Episode III, I give you The Last Jedi Supper (via The Beat):

Sporting chance

Dear Red Sox Nation:

Is it all right to hate David Wells NOW?!

I mean, I've always hated David Wells, but now, is it okay to really just HATE him? I don't think he's good for our team, nor do I think he's good for humanity as a whole. I say this not out of malice toward the man, but out of love for the Red Sox.


A Sox Fan

PS: Jason Varitek (see: favorite player) hit another homer today. So far, that brings the Red Sox's number of runs this game to a grand total of: one. The A's currently hold a 10-1 lead over us.

I hate David Wells.

12:01 AM

Yes, I will be watching the midnight viewing of Revenge of the Sith.

Now, really, is there any reason why there have been so many damn reviews of this movie? Seriously. At this point, is it even worth reviewing a Star Wars movie? Somehow, the normal rules of film criticism don't really apply to any movie that has the words "Star Wars" attached to it. Is there anyone out there whose opinion will actually be influenced by a review? Is there anyone out there who will or will not see this movie based upon Slate's opinion?

As far as I can tell, the only reason why anyone even offers up a review of a Star Wars movie at this point, is to brag about how they've seen the movie before the rest of us and to rub it in our faces. "Ooooh, look at me. I've already seen it. And to prove it, I'm going to ruin every conceivable surprise moment for you."


I shall watch it tonight and I shall offer no review. OH! And another thing! I hate when reviews start out: "If you liked 'Empire,' then you'll think this movie is awesome!!!" Don't tell me what I'm going to like. I'll decide what I like, thank you very much.

My own council will I keep on which movies I enjoy.

So, as we prepare for the reverse infinity loop that is the double-helix of the final Star Wars film ever to be made, I have decided to trust in the teachings of the wisest of the Jedi, when he sagely stated: "You must unlearn what you have learned."

And just as Yoda taught Luke to clear his mind of all distractions, so too will I enter Revenge of the Sith with an open mind. I will not try to enjoy this movie tonight; I will enjoy it. For, as Master Yoda says in the greatest of the Star Wars films:

"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Another 'Development'

Yay. Good news for fans of good comedy!

Fox re-ups '24,' 'Arrested' By Nellie Andreeva and Cynthia Littleton
Tue May 17, 8:37 AM ET

After several weeks of negotiations, Fox Broadcasting Co. has sealed a deal to bring back real-time political thriller "24" for two more seasons.

The network has also given a last-minute renewal to reigning best-comedy Emmy winner "Arrested Development," which has been on the bubble since the network cut back the show's second-season order in the spring because of underwhelming ratings.

Both shows are produced by Fox's News Corp. sibling, 20th Century Fox TV, and Imagine TV, the small-screen arm of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment.

While there has been a lot of buzz about "Arrested Development" getting a short order for next season, Fox's decision to pick up a full-season, 22-episode order of the quirky series, comes as somewhat of a surprise.

"'Arrested Development' is one of the best comedies on television," Fox's recently appointed entertainment president Peter Liguori said. "The decision to order another season becomes easy when you consider its amazing cast, creative brilliance, critical acclaim and advertiser appeal."

Bill Moyers: My New Favorite Hero

"Of course you know, this means war." That's pretty much the gist of Bill Moyers' latest speech to the National Conference for Media Reform. Here's a little taste:

First, let me assure you that I take in stride attacks by the radical right-wingers who have not given up demonizing me although I retired over six months ago. I should put my detractors on notice: They might just compel me out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair.

Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control using the government to intimidate; I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class to make sure Ahmad Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq's oil; I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into Karl Rove's slush fund, who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets; I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy. That's who I mean. And if that's editorializing, so be it. A free press is one where it's OK to state the conclusion you're led to by the evidence.

One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at "Now" didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.

Jonathan Mermin writes about this in a recent essay in World Policy Journal. You'll also want to read his book "Debating War and Peace: Media Coverage of U.S. Intervention in the Post-Vietnam Era." Mermin quotes David Ignatius of the Washington Post on why the deep interests of the American public are so poorly served by Beltway journalism. "The rules of the game," says Ignatius, "make it hard for us to tee up on an issue without a news peg." He offers a case in point: the debacle of America's occupation of Iraq. "If Senator So-and-so hasn't criticized postwar planning for Iraq," Ignatius says, "it's hard for a reporter to write a story about that."

Excellent reading over at Salon - Moyers' full speech.

Here's one of his most damning points:

Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin -- invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading.

And here's a point of view that I've expressed on numerous occasions:

In Orwell's "1984" the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society's dictionary, explains to the protagonist, Winston, "Don't you see? Don't you see that the whole aim of newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050 at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we're having right now. The whole climate of thought," he said, "will be different. In fact, there will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

Hear me: An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions, and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, so that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.

Thankfully, some real journalists - like Moyers - are finally taking a strong stand against the erosion of own democracy.

Go Forward

Sometimes it takes just a little to do a lot of good.

I don't want to get all shmaltzy here...so I'll just guide you to the appropriate website. I just ordered my tag:

Christopher Reeve redefined courage and hope. His strength, determination, and compassion inspired the world. He was our hero. Today, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation proudly introduces the CRPF Superman Tag. This special offer is your opportunity to pay personal tribute to Christopher Reeve's incredible legacy. By wearing the CRPF Superman Tag, you believe that Christopher's vision will Go Forward.

The Christopher Reeve Foundation Superman Tags can be worn around the neck on a chain, or clipped onto gear, sports equipment, purses, or book bags. All proceeds from the sale of the Superman Tags go to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Purchase the Superman Tag to show your support of Christopher Reeve's vision and the mission of his Foundation.

Order a tag today and support progress. Support science. Support hope. And help preserve Christopher Reeve's legacy. Help them go forward and do some good.

Monday, May 16, 2005

"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell..."

Thankfully, Dave Chappelle is fine. It looks like, in the long run, he'll be totally ready to jump back into the fray, after recharging in the relative solitude of South Africa.

Yet, all the latest news stories regarding Chappelle have some sort of snarky headline, taking his quotes out of context to make him seem crazy. Like: "Dave's not crazy, but he's hearing 'voices'" or "Dave says: 'I'm not smoking crack!'"

Chappelle: I'm Not Crazy
5/16/05 - 1:52 PM ET
By Adam Gonshor
(andPOP) -

Dave Chappelle says he's not crazy, he's not in a mental institution, he's not addicted to drugs, and he doesn't have a problem with a partying lifestyle.

Chappelle spoke publicly this weekend for the first time since he "disappeared" last week and denied reports that he entered a mental health facility.

Speaking with Time Magazine, Chappelle says he went to South Africa on a "spiritual retreat" as his show, Chappelle's Show, was suspended indefinitely by Comedy Central.

"Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can't at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh," he told the magazine. "I'm an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I've been doing a lot of thinking here."

He says he visited a physiatrist for one 40-minute session, just to make sure he was sane.

"You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice," Chappelle said. "So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes."

He says he hopes to return working on the show when he returns, but didn't say when he plans to leave South Africa.

Fleeing to South Africa to recharge was actually an inspired idea, in my humble opinion. Clearly, the super-stardom and the mega-money deal put pressure on him ... and where else can a celebrity go to clear his head, decompress, and actually think things over without a constant barrage of 'yes men' and executives pushing and pulling you around? Good for him for taking time out to refresh.

And if I were an executive at Comedy Central (and I'm NOT), I would be salivating at Chappelle's eventual return to the spotlight. I mean, this is exactly the kind of beautiful train wreck that the public loves to watch. Sure they had to postpone the third season of the show, but they get so much more in return. Melodrama, rumors, speculation - the deperate human drama that is unfolding before our very eyes. And when Dave finally makes his triumphant return to his show, we will be there to cheer him on ... while maintaining a healthy dose of morbid curiosity, of course. And, Comedy Central stands by their guy in his time of need, saying they'll be there for him when he returns.

You can't put a price on publicity like this. Well, actually, you can put a price on it. $50 million, to be precise.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

You tell 'em, Sir!

I would comment on the Pentagon's base closing plans...but I believe General Wes Clark sums it up best:

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Saturday that the Pentagon's plan to close military bases around the country and reorganize troops will isolate the military from the American people and the rest of the world.

Clark said the plan to pull U.S. forces back home from abroad and centralize bases takes jobs away from smaller towns.

"We're losing influence abroad when we bring those troops home, and we lose the interaction with America when we create these super bases," Clark said in a speech to the Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

ooogh ooogh Fire

Sci-Fi Channel (bless their souls) is, for some strange reason, playing The Clan of the Cave Bear this morning.

A movie starring a young Daryl Hannah, with no spoken dialogue, ridiculous make-up, and the "emotional" character arc communicated through grunts? Who thought this was a good idea?

I mean, someone gave the green light for this movie. Someone read the plot synopsis and when they got to the part about a blonde haired, blue-eyed Cro-Magnon girl who doesn't fit in with her adopted Neanderthal tribe .... they KEPT READING! Even worse, someone "read" the script - made up of narration, scene descriptions, and the occasional "oogh" - and said, "sure it's only ten pages long, but I think we can stretch this into a film."

If you haven't seen the movie, let me describe it for you: Daryl Hannah plays a Neanderthal...who looks EXACTLY like Daryl Hannah. And the other cave people don't trust her. Mainly because they have to wear shitty Neanderthal make-up and she doesn't. There's lots of grunting. Some cave dude tries to bone Daryl and then I think she gets pregnant. I don't really know. She starts hugging all the Cro-Magnon chicks for like 10 scenes in a row. I think this is supposed to signify some sort of acceptance/female bonding/baby shower thing. Again, I'm not sure. I stopped watching by this point and had flipped over to ESPN to watch Cliff Floyd celebrate his two game-winning homers for the Mets last night by getting hit in the face with a pie during a post-game interview! HAHAHAHA! Man, that's so funny...hm? Oh, yeah. Clan of the Cave Bear. Sorry. Just terrible. Even Joel, Mike, and the Bots would be hard-pressed to make this movie watchable. That's pretty bad, dude.

One day, I hope to make movies. I'm under no illusions. I know it's a difficult field; an unforgiving, unfair, and often cruel industry. I know this. But if they made THAT movie, what WON'T they make? I would like to think that one day, when I'm shopping around my unsold screenplays and cursing The Powers That Be for not recognizing my brilliance, talent, and vision...I believe that I will always have my dignity and the peace-of-mind that comes with the wisdom of The Truth. For no matter what happens, I maintain the upperhand. I have a sure-fire, can't lose, guaranteed bargaining chip.

They made The Clan of the Cave Bear. And I did not. And once that's on the table, all bets are off. And anything is possible.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Big Delight in Every Bite

Thursday. Geek talk. In remembrance of the beloved Geek Council, aka The Grand High Council of All Things True.

First off, as May 19th quickly approaches, I realized today that I had been neglecting my geek civic duty and as of yet, had not made definitive plans to watch ...that movie that's coming out next week. I had caught midnight showings of the first two prequals and, since George Lucas first began tinkering with the classics by releasing the re-mastered versions of the Holy Original Trilogy, I had spent every Star Wars movie opening day with either Ross, Tim, and/or Danny. This would be the first year that I wouldn't be geeking out with one of them on opening day. And then I further realized, I wasn't in my familiar surrounding with my usual geek contacts - I was in New York! And I hadn't bought any tickets. So, on my lunch break from my mindless-monkey-job, I strolled around the corner to the Loews theater, walked up to the ticket counter (no lines, no hassles) and asked the kind lady if there were any tickets available for the May 19th showing of SW:EIII:ROTS. She asked me if I wanted the Wednesday night midnight showing? 'Uh, sure,' I replied. And suddenly, I have tickets to the midnight showing. I thought it would somehow be more difficult. I guess the Force is strong here...

On a completely different note, here's another thing wrong with comic books today: no Hostess Fruit Pie ads. Remember the days when crimes could inconceivably be thwarted with the real fruit filling and the delicious flaky crust of Hostess Fruit Pies? Patton Oswalt remembers. Read the never-to-be-published hilarity of "What If...villains could really be swayed by delicious fruit pies?"

Also, be sure to check out EVERY SINGLE HOSTESS FRUIT PIE AD EVER - complete with commentary - over at seanbaby.com.

And check out this one in particular...I could be wrong, but "Ralph G. Fake" looks remarkably similar to Donald Rumsfeld in that final panel. Harmless Hostess advertisement or portentous parable...?

'Nuff said.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Silver lining

Well, it looks like some good came out of the incident. Here's the latest update, via Ross:

Ms. Olivia Rutledge, Spencer High School Principal, along with Mr. Al Parham, Assistant Principal, and two Spencer counselors, met with Kevin Francois and his guardian Monday morning. Kevin is now back in class at Spencer, following a conference in which behavior expectations were discussed and methods of supporting Kevin were outlined. Kevin will not be penalized for his two-day suspension, and his guardian will meet Tuesday with Kevin’s counselor and teachers regarding his overall academic progress this semester.

See. This is a far more appropriate response to the incident, which takes a "big picture" view of the situation and it appears that the school is (now, at least) showing interest in tackling the root of the problem. I'm glad that maybe now, Kevin will get the attention and the help that he really needs, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to an angry kid lashing out at authority. Imagine that - an actual lesson learned in a school.

Suspended sentence

First, a little background on me. Both my parents are teachers. I was deployed for a year in Operation Enduring Freedom and, three months into my deployment, my father was called up and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year. So, I feel like I have a little bit of expertise on the story of Kevin Francois, suspended for cursing at teachers after being told to get off his cell phone while talking to his deployed-in-Iraq mother.

A few quick things:

Kevin is black. Kevin lives in Georgia. Kevin has been known to be a "problem student." Kevin was being raised by his single mom and Kevin's single mom was deployed to Iraq, leaving Kevin with a guardian. I don't need to get too much into the racial subtext here or the wisdom of any policy that sends single parents overseas...but let's just say that this event didn't occur in a vacuum.

Here's the update on the story:

School Reduces Suspension Over Iraq Call Sun May 8, 6:27 AM ET

Following hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails, school officials in this Army base city have reduced a suspension imposed on a student who wouldn't give up his cell phone while talking to his mom — a sergeant on duty in Iraq.

The angry calls about the boy's suspension got so bad at one point that secretaries had to take their phones off the hook, assistant principal Alfred Parham said.

Kevin Francois, a 17-year-old junior at Spencer High School, was suspended for 10 days for disorderly conduct Wednesday after a teacher told him to give up his cell phone outside the school during his lunch break and he refused, the teen said.

The boy said he had not expected the call from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour.

The teacher says the confrontation happened in a hallway, not outside, and that Francois never said the call was with his mother.

The Muscogee County School District Board of Education allows students to have cell phones in school but not to use them during school hours.

The punishment for violating that policy is that the phone is confiscated until the end of the day. But Francois was suspended for cursing and being defiant, said Parham. That was extended to 10 because "he did not want to accept the three-day suspension and to agree that he would not use the cell phone openly or curse."

"We are empathetic to all students whose parents serve in the armed forces ... (but) we do have behavior standards which we uphold," said Superintendent John A. Phillips Jr.

On Friday, the school district reduced the suspension to three days, which will allow Francois to return to school Monday, after officials met with him, the guardian who cares for him while his mother is out of the country, and a representative of her unit.

"People are fussing at us, calling us names," said assistant principal Wendell Turner.

"We are the school that serves Fort Benning," Turner said. "We're well aware of students with parents overseas."

Parham said, however, that Francois' behavior at school has been "a chronic problem."

And Francois added: "I'm not a golden child and I've been wrong, but I was right this time."

And here's the crux of the argument:

"I'm not a golden child and I've been wrong, but I was right this time." He was right this time. It appears that the school officials jumped the gun in this instance. They were looking for a reason to punish this kid and they made a mistake. And, while I agree that students' behavior at school needs to be monitored and regulated, their after-the-fact defense is disingenuous:

The teacher says the confrontation happened in a hallway, not outside, and that Francois never said the call was with his mother.

Oh. The teacher didn't know that it was his mom on the phone. That's funny. Because on Friday, the school officials said that they could have arrested Kevin, but instead suspended him because they were sympathetic to the fact that his mom was serving in Iraq.

So. The school screwed up. They had a problem kid who was on his cell phone during school hours (lunch). And they obviously did not give him the benefit of the doubt...nor did they take into account his circumstances, instead opting to simply punish him. Of course the kid got confrontational and cursed at the teacher. He's a 17-year old kid who's only parent is in Iraq, he only hears from her once a month or so, and he has no control over when she calls (and neither does his mom). And I seriously doubt that the teacher wanted to hear Kevin's side of the story. I'm sure the teacher merely assumed that Kevin was being defiant for the sake of being defiant. That would frustrate even the best of students, never mind a so-called "problem student."

This incident points to the larger problem, which is how over-burdened schools cannot deal properly with disruptive students who come from troubled backgrounds or are undergoing stressful personal circumstances. I'd be interested to see what the student-teacher ratio is in this school, but I have a feeling that this particular school is not equipped to properly handle the stresses of catering to a military community. The default reaction is to simply punish the student for being "out of control," rather than trying to combat the actual problem or to talk with the student and try to solve the problem together.

The real answer to the problem is to provide schools with more funding and better resources, including better pay for teachers who must deal with a diverse student body that may have other things on their minds, other than Earth Science.

And PS: Thanks to Paul, we know that Mike Gallagher is an ass.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Suspension of disbelief

Ya know, if I was a student talking on my cell phone to my mom who was in Iraq, and a teacher tried to force me to hang up on her, I'd probably swear at them, too.

COLUMBUS, Ga. - A high school student was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a mobile phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, school officials said.

The 10-day suspension was issued because Kevin Francois was "defiant and disorderly" and was imposed in lieu of an arrest, Spencer High School assistant principal Alfred Parham said.

The confrontation Wednesday began after the 17-year-old junior got a call at lunchtime from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion.

Mobile phones are allowed on campus but may not be used during school hours. When a teacher told him to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom."

Parham said the teen's suspension was based on his reaction to the teacher's request. He said the teen used profanity when taken to the office.

"Kevin got defiant and disorderly," Parham said. "When a kid becomes out of control like that they can either be arrested or suspended for 10 days. Now being that his mother is in Iraq, we're not trying to cause her any undue hardship; he was suspended for 10 days."

Way to be sensitive. Ass. I also love how that last quote was probably spoken without any trace of irony. "We don't want to upset his mom in Iraq so we just suspended her son." Ass.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You don't know the power of the Dark Side or A (Re)New(ed) Hope

Thursday. Which means another geek out. Man, I miss the Geek Council.

So, obviously, the major news on the Geek front is next week's release of STAR WARS: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And, due to a recent geek outpouring of skepticism and outright animosity surrounding the current state of the Star Wars franchise, I humbly offer an open letter to all geeks everywhere who have given in to their basest, most negative feelings. This was originally posted on The Geek Council message board a few weeks back. This post is rated PG-13 and contains adult language.

My fellow Geeks. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Granted, George Lucas has proven himself inept at both writing and direction.

Granted, the last 6 years have unquestionably been tarnished by the disappointing presence of Episodes I and II.

Granted, George Lucas has raped and pillaged our collective childhoods.

Granted, I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.

Granted, the prequels and the re-masters have done nothing but contradict and undermine the brilliance of the original trilogy.

Granted, we no longer owe George Lucas anything after being repeatedly Jar-Jar'ed* with Episodes I and II and disrespected in countless interviews.

*Jar-Jar shall henceforth be known as the Geek term for being fucked. Example: After watching Episode I, I felt as if Lucas had gouged out my eyeballs and skull Jar Jar'ed me.

Granted, the Phantom Menace line "You were the Chosen One," makes me feel physically ill. And granted, there are several moments in Episodes I and II that continue to make me physically ill.

Granted, we've only seen trailers which, by their very nature, show us only glimpses of what could be good about the movie, with approx. 134 minutes of potential shitty movie left to be seen.

Granted, this is all true.

But. My fellow geeks.

We must hold out hope. In Episode III, we have here what we have really been waiting for, and that's some serious carnage. The destruction of the Old Republic. Wookies. Plural. Yoda with wookies. Plural. Remember when we were promised that Wookie battle in Jedi but then we got Ewoks instead? Wookie battle. Volcano fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan. The Emperor. The Emperor in all his Sith glory. The Emperor kicking a lot of Jedi ass. Vader. Vader kicking a lot of Jedi ass. Yoda. Yoda kicking ass and getting his Jedi ass kicked. Beheadings. Jedi beheadings. Serious, serious Jedi beatdowns.

Forget the last 2 movies. Just. Forget. Them. Forget what was. Focus on what will be.

Geeks. Geeks. Did you see the shot of the Emperor in a lightsaber dual with three fucking Jedi Masters? Did you see the fucking WOOKIES? Did you see Natalie Portman?! Natalie Portman, geeks!

My fellow geeks. We are not geeks because the genre has treated us well. We are not geeks because we have ever been respected. We did not tune in weekly to watch Buck Rogers because it was good sci-fi (it was not). We did not watch every second of "V" because it fully lived up to its potential (it never did). We did not adore Adam West's Batman because it was a respectful portrayal of the Dark Knight (the Batusi?! The Bat-fucking-tusi?!). We have always taken what we have been given, and we have allowed our imaginations to make the best of it. And we have loved it all, despite the disappointment.

Star Wars has survived in spite of itself. From the beginning, it hit the rocky shores of Bea Arthur and the 1978 Holiday Special. And yet, The Empire Strikes Back followed that abomination. We have survived animated Ewoks and Droids cartoons, 2 live-action Ewok adventures, and Boba Fett being accidentally knocked into the Sarlacc Pit. And this was all done when Star Wars was still considered sacred. We can no more judge Revenge of the Sith by Episode I than we could have judged the original Star Wars by THX 1138.

If we have learned nothing else from Star Wars, we know that it is ultimately a story about redemption. Like Darth Vader, Lucas has stumbled down the all-powerful path of the Dark Side. But we must hold out hope that he can still be turned. We must have faith - just as Luke had faith in Vader - that Lucas will ultimately do what is right. Luke never gave up on Vader. Despite how evil Vader had become, Luke believed that there was still good in him. And despite how evil Lucas has become, we must believe that there is still hope. Star Wars is ours. And we must not root for Lucas' failure; we must hope for his redemption.

Star Wars is probably THE most important institution in all of Geekdom, and like the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic, we must do our best to protect it. And that requires not just forgiveness for past sins, but also faith in the future. For isn't that, in its purest form, what Star Wars is truly about? If it means once again being stabbed through the heart after watching Episode III, so be it. That is the risk I am willing to take. And as good and noble Geeks, that is the risk we must all be willing to take.

Justice demands the benefit of the doubt, despite all evidence to the contrary. Luke held out hope, and so must we.

My brothers and sisters, we MUST have faith. Not just for Lucas' sake, and not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of all of Geekdom. It is...our destiny.

Breaking news?

I'm up unusually early this morning to discover that explosions rocked the British Consulate in NYC.

Two small makeshift grenades exploded outside the British Consulate in New York early Thursday, causing slight damage to the building but injuring no one, officials said.

The blasts occurred at 3:50 a.m. and originated from inside a cement flower box outside the consulate in midtown Manhattan, said police department spokesman Noel Waters.

Police said both devices were toy grenades that had been altered to explode with the addition of black gunpowder. Police made the conclusion after piecing together the shrapnel. They estimated that one was the size of a pineapple; the other the size of a lemon.

The blasts shattered a panel of glass in the building's front door and ripped a one-foot chunk from the planter. The department's bomb squad was at the scene and streets were closed in the area.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the blast. But it's just another startling reminder of how underfunded and understaffed NYC's homeland security program actually is...I'll be curious to see if it spurs the gub'mint to throw a few more "anti-terrorism" dollars our way, but I ain't holding my breath.

As Mayor Mike begs for your vote this year, just remember how safe he's keeping the Big Apple. And remember how hard he's fought for a new Jets' Stadium, raising tolls, subway fares, and public transportation fees while blithely ignoring the need for a legitimate increase in security funding.

Meanwhile, in other news:

Comedy Central has postponed the premiere of its hit series "Chappelle's Show" less than a month before it was scheduled to return for a third season.

The network offered no rationale for the decision Wednesday, releasing only a brief statement: "Comedy Central has suspended production on the third season of "Chappelle's Show" until further notice. All parties are optimistic that production will resume in the near future."

Representatives for the show's star, Dave Chappelle, declined comment.

One of Comedy Central's highest-rated series, "Chappelle" was supposed to be back on the air May 31. The network already has postponed the third season once; "Chappelle" originally was scheduled to bow in February.

A Comedy Central spokesman had blamed the first postponement on writing delays. Other published reports noted that Chappelle was battling the 'flu'.

Chappelle made headlines in August when he signed on for two more seasons of his series in a deal worth about $50 million -- an expensive sum for a cable program. The new deal was supposed to give Chappelle a portion of the robust DVD sales generated by its first season, which has sold more than 3 million units.

The DVD release of the second season of "Chappelle" also was postponed this year after Paramount Home Video originally scheduled units to hit stores in February timed to the third-season bow. The release date was pushed back to May 24.

Comedy Central had ordered 13 episodes for the third season. Production on the series yielded material late last year but then closed for the holidays and didn't resume until February.

Bizarre. Even weirder - I've been trying since last November to submit sketches to the show, all to no avail. I had heard rumors of problems with the show's upcoming season - everything from writer's block to creative problems. None of which really made me feel better.

In some ways, I'm a little relieved to hear that it (apparently) was not just a case of writer's block, since my ego screams: "Helllllloooooo! I got your sketch comedy writer right here, bitch!" On Tevye's other hand, however, I hope that Chappelle is okay. Since Mitch Hedberg's abrupt death, I'm a little cynical. I'd hate to see another talented and genuinely funny comic snuffed out too soon. Here's looking forward to a healthy Dave Chappelle and successful third season of the show.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Today's a special day

Twenty two years ago today, my little sister Geordarna was born. Yes, I am proud of her. No, I am not happy that I have a younger sister who is 22. Yes, she is cuter than me.

No, I don't know why she is throwing that child...

In other news, today is also International Respect for Chickens Day.

Yet another reason why I don't eat cereal.

British boy finds snake in cereal box
How non-poisonous serpent got there being probed

Updated: 11:04 a.m. ET May 4, 2005

LONDON - A British boy tucking into his breakfast had a nasty surprise when he discovered a two-foot long snake inside his box of cereal.

Jordan Willett, 5, thought he had found a toy when the serpent -- a harmless corn snake -- slithered out of the packet of "Golden Puffs" his parents had bought from discount store Netto in Telford, central England.

"It was quite long and popped its head up. I've seen snakes on TV before but never in a box of cereal," he told the Daily Mail newspaper.

Netto said on Wednesday it was talking to its suppliers to review procedures and check on its stock.

"This does seem to be a bizarre incident but we are treating it seriously," said Netto trading director Clive Cooper.

Corn snakes, which feed on mice and birds, are commonly kept as pets around the world.

To quote the famous archeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.:

"I hate snakes. I HATE them."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Get Lost

No, seriously. Get lost. Get outta here. Scram. Disappear.

In fact, you can now disappear in America without a trace! Apparently, it's not that hard. At least, it's not hard after you've read the step-by step, easy-to-follow guide on how to vanish without a trace right here in the good ol' US of A.

Learn how to completely destroy your vehicle in a safe and efficient manner, make friends in biker bars, and become comfortable with firearms.

Some excerpts:

Assuming you're a housewife with little to no experience with guns:

Remove the firearm from its drawer, night stand, or under the bed or the closet making sure that you keep your hands and fingers away from the trigger. Nearly all firearms will not discharge if you keep your fingers away from the trigger. All firearms require the weapon to be either cocked before it will discharge else one must use a fairly heavy pull on the trigger to both cock and fire the weapon. If a weapon has been cocked, it could be that even the slightest pressure -- some three pounds or less -- could discharge the weapon. For this reason, keep your fingers away from the trigger!

Always be fully aware of where the barrel of the firearm is pointing. Keep it pointed in a direction which will not result in injury of yourself or anyone else in the event the gun discharges. Ground-floor apartment dwellers should point the firearm down. Other-floor apartment dwellers should point the firearm at the television, book-shelves, radiator, heater, or air conditioner -- anything heavy which would stop the bullet if the firearm discharges. Most apartment complexes' walls and most residential houses' walls are too thin to stop most of the popular projectiles.

If you know what to do, clear the weapon. If you don't know what to do or are uncomfortable clearing the weapon, don't try it.

Leave town. Don't go to any place you've talked about or stated a desire to visit. Don't run to any place predictable. Don't hide in a city or town you've ever been to or contains known family members. Don't do something obviously stupid like running to Las Vegas or Hollywood. If you're taking children out of an abusive family, leave town and go immediately to a shelter in another State -- preferably a State which has laws which help to protect battered men or women from their ex-spouses or live-ins.

Use "toilet seat protectors" -- so-called "Ass Gaskets" -- where they are provided to reduce the possibility of leaving skin, sweat, or other body fluids on the seat. These substances can be swabbed into glass vials and be used to identify you. Paper seat covers will either eliminate this problem else reduce it greatly.

NEVER lick an envelope or a stamp for obvious reasons! If it is known you're in a particular city your general location can be inferred by the physical location of your correspondence in a stack collected by the postal authority. You shouldn't mail anyone anything unless it's done so anonymously (wear gloves when handling paper) yet if you feel the need, remember that if you lick something and it leaves your control, you may as well take out an advertisement in the newspapers broadcasting your general location.

The anti-establishment and socially disassociated populace has always existed and has always been an asset to those on the run. Your job is to find them if you need them. Be honest with such people since they know the score and will shine you on if you're a lying jerk.

Motorcycle Hangouts.
Buy people drinks, talk politics, express your viewpoints, and get to know the people in motorcycle hangouts.

Express an honest interest in learning how to ride safely. Find out what it's like to drop everything and ride to feel free.

Eventually, let a few you think you can trust know that you're looking for a place to hang out "out of the way" for a couple of days. Don't press the issue and don't ask outright for shelter. Ask around about where a good spot to sleep is out in the hills where the cops won't find you. Someone may offer you a tent in his backyard.

Ask where a good place is to find something to eat or get day labor. Someone may offer you a fiver or yard work.

Honestly make friends with some of the people. Your best bet is not to lead people on and take advantage of them but to actually befriend people who can help you hide and then -- hopefully -- start a new life with a new identity.

You know, I never really seriously considered dropping out of society and re-inventing myself as a cool, mysterious loner on the lam, living day-to-day through hard manual labor ... but I have to admit, after reading this little how-to essay, the idea does sound kind of romantic. Except the part about the "ass gaskets." That part was just weird.

Monday, May 02, 2005

That's why he's a PROFESSIONAL

John Rogers once again nails it...and I ain't too proud to link to it.

Here's a little slice o' Rogers' wisdom:

Now who the hell am I to even think I have something to contribute here? Well, let's say the candidate's job is to walk into a room of complete strangers and get them to like him. Connect with him. Wow, the few rare politicians who can do that, they're worth their weight in gold.

I did that for twelve years. So did hundreds of other people you've never heard of. We're stand-ups, and that's the ENTRY-LEVEL for the job.

A good stand-up can walk into a room, a bar with no stage and a shit mic, in the deep goddam South or Montana or Portland or Austin or Boston, and not only tell jokes with differing political opinions than the crowd, can get them to laugh. With all due respect to our brother performers in theater, etc., we can walk into a room of any size from 20 to 2000 complete strangers with no shared background and not just evoke emotion ... we can evoke a specific strong emotion every 15 seconds. For an HOUR. A good stand-up can make fun of your relationship with your wife, make fun of your job, make fun of your politics, all in front of a thousand strangers, and afterward that same person will go up and invite the stand-up to a barbecue.

In short -- every club audience is a swing state

Good natured ribbing

First Lady Laura Bush on her husband:

"He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year, when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse," she said.

From Earthtimes.org:

George (President Bush) is usually in bed by now. I'm married to the president of the United States and here's our typical evening: Nine o'clock and Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep. I'm a desperate housewife ... left watching 'Desperate Housewives' -- with Lynne Cheney (the Vice President's wife)."

She then went on to tell how the vice president's wife went to a Chippendale's (men's strip club), "along with Condoleezza Rice and (top presidential adviser) Karen Hughes."

"But it was OK. (Supreme Court justices) Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there. I won't say what went on, but let's just say that Lynne's Secret Service nickname now is 'Dollar Bill.'"

Hahahahaha! Double standards are hilarious!