Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons

This 1952 cartoon was mentioned in the comment section last week and I just had to post it because it's a) all kinds of politically incorrect, and b) really freakin' funny.

Here's Magical Maestro.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chip Shot

Ladies and gentlemen, a preview of Tim Tebow and Focus on the Family's controversial Super Bowl ad.

Bonus Quote of the Day*

"It's kind of funny, you know, celebrities usually go on Oprah with these intense, serious interviews to get support from the public after they had sex with their father or married Bobby Brown or something. Jay Leno went on because they gave him The Tonight Show back. So please, keep him in your prayers."

-- Jimmy Kimmel

The Huffington Post: Leno on Oprah: Is Jay Leno Permanently Damaged by Tonight Show Battle?/1.28.10

Update, 11:38am: This is great. My favorite thing about it, oddly? The flagrant, gleaming American flag pin.

*Because it's Friday and I'm all about hassle-free content.

Quote of the Day

"Twitter is all noise, but to be able to harness it and group it and actually intelligently cluster it and derive moods and opinions from it is very interesting."

-- David Bohrman, CNN Senior Vice President and D.C. Bureau Chief

What he's talking about is CNN's very impressive use, following the State of the Union address, of a program that gathers Twitter responses from across the country and categorizes them. John King essentially surfed through the Twitter feed on CNN's "magic wall" to determine what the reaction was to President Obama's speech, breaking it down state by state. It was cutting edge technology actually put to good use, meaning that it served a clearly defined purpose in advancing the network's coverage -- as opposed to, say, the instantly groan-inducing phony hologram that CNN trotted out with great fanfare the night of the 2008 presidential election.

What's amusing about Bohrman's quote, though, is that it's classic Bohrman: Sure, he's touting what would seem to be a leap forward in the technology of information dissemination, but the level of pompous condescension to the new media platform that allows CNN to even make this advancement speaks volumes. Twitter is "all noise" put forth by the great unwashed, that is until the pros at CNN "harness it." What you're doing by tweeting isn't really "intelligent"; it only becomes so once a mega-media cable network puts it all together and makes sense of the cacophony.

Dave Borhman's a really, really bright guy, but nobody exploits new media technology while not understanding it in the least nor showing it even the slightest bit of respect like he does.

I hate to keep recycling pieces this week, but this is actually one of my favorites from DXM, and it gives you a really good idea of just how Bohrman and those like him at the top of the Corporate Media Behemoth food chain think. It's from June of 2008.

"The Outsider" (Originally Published, 6.9.08)

The look on Bryan Bell's face alone would've made the whole thing worth the effort.

A current senior producer on CNN's American Morning and, ironically, the man who moved me up to New York from the network's Atlanta hub -- unwittingly setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to me being fired -- Bell was one of the first people I ran into upon faux-casually strolling into the lobby of the Time Warner Center last Wednesday morning.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked, sharply breaking his stride in my direction and contorting his face into a wide-eyed mask of appropriate surprise. He was, after all, suddenly standing face to face with a ghost -- someone who four months previously had been shown the door to the building and wasn't supposed to be allowed back in under any circumstances. Yet, there he was. There I was.

I shot Bell a smirk tinged with as much subversive attitude as I could muster -- which, given the situation and the level of insurgent impertinence required of me to bring it about, was quite a bit. "Going to the internet conference up on 10," I said as I glided past him, spinning and pushing a quick fist into his shoulder. "Good to see you, man."

He was still staring in some form of disbelief as I turned and squeezed between the closing doors of the elevator, locating the familiar button for the 10th floor almost involuntarily and punching it.

We're just about at the end of "Internet Week '08" here in New York City, the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event aimed, from what I can gather, at bringing together the powerful movers and shakers of the digital and media worlds in a concentrated effort to better understand and more fully utilize the internet to jack the American consumer. All week long, various seminars, panel discussions, cocktail parties, meet-and-greets and opportunities for hipster hook-ups have been going on throughout the city. And while Internet Week probably isn't the sort of boon to New York's prostitution industry that, say, last month's annual Fleet Week celebration was, it's admittedly allowing for an unusual confluence of ideas and cultures, as at least a few of the gaunt and scruffy Red Bull addicts of the internet underclass -- still basking in the post-orgasmic afterglow of Comic-Con -- are granted entrance to the Emerald City and afforded a rare audience with the mighty media wizards who usually prefer to remain safely behind the curtain of their office doors. For the people at the top, it means a chance to get a better handle on that whole "internet thing," while for the young upstarts on the bottom, it presents a host of opportunities to kiss a little Illuminati ass in the hope of landing the kind of job that will allow them to pay their hefty student loan tabs and fulfill their dreams of transforming themselves into that Ferrari-driving techno-smart-ass kid from the National Treasure movies.

As someone who violated the accepted protocol and did everything backwards -- slipping from the warm embrace of corporate media favor to tumble down and land in journalism's not-so-soft underbelly -- I haven't been sure of my personal place in the Internet Week festivities. Almost everyone in attendance has either already "arrived" or is looking to devour his or her way up to the top of the food chain; I've recently taken up residence near the bottom. A lot of them are nursing big aspirations of getting in; I still have a fresh shoe print on my ass from being kicked out.

In other words, I knew going into it that I'd probably spend a lot of time asking myself just what I was doing there -- regardless of where there happened to be at any given moment.

But the Time Warner Center wasn't like any other stop on my Internet Week itinerary: It's the building that houses CNN's New York studios, which means that it's where I worked for three years before being fired a few months ago for, of all things, blogging. Bryan Bell, my friend and former co-worker, was right in echoing and putting a finer point on my own sentiments: What the hell was I doing there?

I only had a few seconds to ponder whatever combination of brass balls and rank stupidity led me to venture back into the belly of the beast before the elevator doors separated, depositing me on the TWC's 10th floor for last Wednesday's "Conversations on the Circle" breakfast panel discussion, sponsored by Time Warner and moderated by CNN's porcine D.C. bureau chief, David Bohrman. As I stepped out of the recessed and muted lighting of the elevator, the first thing that struck me was the contrast. I'd never considered the Time Warner Center public office area from the perspective of a civilian and therefore hadn't noticed that everything a visitor sees -- from the moment he or she walks through the revolving door entrance and navigates security to the ride up in the high-speed elevator -- is covered in light-absorbing black slate and brushed steel. The whole place looks like the Death Star, only slightly more imposing. Walking in, you get the impression that somewhere in the building, there's a control room for a laser cannon mounted on the roof with enough firepower to destroy 30 Rock. But that sense of foreboding lifts the second you arrive on 10 -- the top visitor-accessible floor and the main conference area. It's almost as if the building's interior designers purposely aimed for a William Blake-style "heaven and hell" motif, with the dark and spare street-level lobby representing the heretical netherworld and the lofty heights of the 10th floor symbolizing the kind of elysian hereafter that awaits only the most noble servants of the mega-media ethos.

Put simply, everything on the 10th floor is so damn bright. The floors gleam with the polished reflection of overhead lighting, the halls are coated with an eggshell matte; there's even a surreal Vegas-like array of white pinpoint lights that flashes uselessly along one wall leading to the conference area, which is itself an awe-inspiring separate section of the floor complete with 20-foot high ceilings and massive picture windows providing spectacular views of the city beyond. At no point during time spent in the TWC's conference area will anyone cease to be impressed by its grandeur and reminded that he or she is being given a chance to converse with the enlightened beings atop Olympus.

I edged past the seemingly life-like welcome drones, the thin attractive women dressed in smart black Nehru suits waiting outside the elevators. Their job was to direct attendees to the Hudson conference room where the morning's seminar was being held, but I figured I knew where I was going and didn't need to ask directions -- plus, the further I kept my head down, the better. I'd already signed in downstairs, in hell, so when I arrived at my destination -- a spacious room dotted with several high, circular tables and featuring a spartan coffee and juice buffet station against one wall -- I dropped my shoulder bag and immediately made a bee-line for the food, my thinking being that if I was going to listen to Dave Bohrman for an hour-and-a-half, at least I could do it on a stomach full of high-quality freebies.

I had staked out a table and was engaged in a conversation with one of the morning's other attendees -- each of us about half-way through a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin -- when the announcement was made that it was time to begin. Slowly, everyone around me picked up their things and began filing into a separate room, some grabbing a road bagel or final bottle of water off the food table as they passed it. I didn't say anything out loud, but the revelation that we weren't going to be forced to stand throughout the seminar drew a small sigh of relief out of me; up until that point, it had been impossible not to notice the giant screen on the wall opposite the breakfast table, upon which was the projected image of four empty chairs -- one would assume, the places where our esteemed panelists would soon be sitting. At one point, I wondered if they'd just keep us happily noshing while, somewhere far removed from the riff-raff, Bohrman and company addressed us via teleconference. Either way, the sight of those four empty chairs looming over me and my fellow guests as we snacked was more than a little unnerving. I kept waiting for the faces of the Kryptonian High Council to suddenly appear, bellow that we were all "GUILTY" and banish us to the Media Phantom Zone.

Especially me.

I was the guiltiest man in the room, after all.

But as I joined the herd pushing into the next room -- as I readied myself to come face to face with one of CNN's most powerful news managers -- I wondered if I was the only one who knew it.

I followed the crowd of a couple hundred into the conference room proper, and the first thing I noticed was the view.

In what seemed to be a deliberate effort to further impress upon the attendees of the "Time Warner Conversations on the Circle: Internet and News" seminar just who the hell they were dealing with, the guest seating for the event faced toward the giant floor-to-ceiling windows which made up one entire wall. Opposite the glass was a panorama of the West Side of Manhattan that was even more breathtaking than anything we'd seen previously. I made my way over to the far side of the room and took a comfortable seat in the third row, the raised platform and four empty panelist chairs now no longer a projected image on a screen but a three-dimensional reality just a few feet in front of me. I reached into my bag, pulled out a reporter's notebook and waited for the discussion to begin -- or at least for security to realize the mistake that had been made and forcibly escort me out of the building.

Thankfully, the former happened before the latter.

David Bohrman was introduced as an award-winning producer and the "inventor" of the CNN/YouTube debates by a grinning representative from Time Warner who then flitted away to grab a seat directly in front of the dais. Even for a company flack, the rep seemed a little too eager to be there -- particularly so early in the morning; as I watched him adjust his front-row seat, I found myself waiting to see if he'd suddenly produce a clear, watermelon-proof tarp with which to cover himself. My split-second reverie was broken by the sound of Bohrman's voice in front of me and booming from the speakers overhead, drawing my attention back to the stage.

Besides maybe salesman-of-the-month at a Hummer dealership, David Bohrman looks like he could only be one of a few things: the unhealthily stressed-out head of a newsroom, a noticeably overindulgent corporate shill, or the manager of a political campaign. The fact that he is, in reality, all three should come as no surprise to anyone. Bohrman's a large man, with a hairline that's receded to just about the very top of his head and a well-groomed salt-and-pepper beard. He wears thin-framed eyeglasses that all but vanish against his prodigiously round face, as well as the kind of suspenders and J.C. Penney tie combo that make it seem as if he's purposely attempting to be a walking promotion for Larry King Live. Bohrman would be intimidating if he weren't such a damn news cliché in the Jerry Nachman vein, only infinitely more acquiescent to the hatchet men in the adminisphere. His claim to fame when it comes to supposedly bringing CNN into the 21st century is twofold: He was the chief architect of The Situation Room -- that daily sonic onslaught and tribute to the short-attention span -- and of course, he was, as was previously touted and would be throughout the length of the event, the "inventor" of the CNN/YouTube debates. (For the record, to hear CNN refer to these debates and their place in history, you'd have thought the things had cured cancer and aligned the planets.)

Bohrman quickly took a seat, leaning back to allow everyone an inescapable glimpse at the desperate effort the buttons down the belly of his shirt were undertaking to avoid popping off one-by-one into the crowd. I started to wonder if I should've brought my own tarp. He introduced the rest of the panel, the members of which were all conspicuously younger than him: There was Nadira Hira of Fortune magazine, and, as we'd find out, the group's designated "Gen-Y" expert; Steve Grove, head of news and politics for YouTube (also, "the cute one"); and Michael Scherer, a Washington bureau correspondent for Time magazine who appeared, at least from where I was sitting, to be wearing a clip-on tie.

Bohrman started in almost immediately, posing the burning question "what is the internet?" to no one in particular. His own answer was hilariously ironic in its anachronism, given the subject matter.

"It reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live skit that asks, 'Is it a dessert topping or a floor wax? It's both!' Well that's kind of like the internet."

In my notes, I jotted down:


What I didn't bother writing down -- because I knew I'd remember it -- was that Bohrman started things off by referencing a gag that had been on TV at least three years before anyone on the panel was even born. It was readily apparent that this kind of just-not-getting-it would be standard operating procedure throughout the discussion -- at least as far as the CNN end of things was concerned.

For the next 20 minutes or so, the panel pontificated on the role of the internet not simply in politics in general, but in this particular presidential race. Hira, once again possessing a virtuosic grasp of "kids these days," brought up Obama's popularity on Facebook and compared the Obama campaign's use of the web and the McCain camp's to the Yankees taking on a little league team. Upon realizing that someone had broached the Facebook phenomenon, Bohrman interjected and reacted with surprise that people could actually forge any sort of meaningful bond with someone who's nothing more than a flat presence on a computer screen, then drew the only analogy he could, saying that a lot of people feel the same kind of connection to Wolf Blitzer.

"He's like a Facebook friend," he said.

I found myself wondering how Wolf would respond if I Superpoked him.

Bohrman then once again brought up the CNN/YouTube debates, just in case anyone had forgotten about them within the last two minutes.

What seemed to outright shock David Bohrman the most, however, was the notion that the panelists -- this new breed of journalists -- actually interacted with their audience, and did so free of many of the constraints that had previously been carefully put in place to shield both the members of the media and the organizations for which they worked. Bohrman may be a trailblazer when it comes to updating the philosophical mindset of the mainstream media, but both the technology and its true impact on what journalists do and what's expected of them is still well beyond his grasp. As I sat listening to him, I realized that likely without meaning to be, he was almost comically arrogant in his apparent belief that the multifarious corporate media giants could embrace the technology needed to thrive in the new world, yet still preserve the single most important necessity to their bottom line: control. Over and over again, the young panelists hammered home the fact that the internet has brought with it an unprecedented level of transparency in our society and culture, particularly when it comes to media organizations, and that the upcoming generation can smell marketed bullshit a thousand miles away, even through a broadband line. Bohrman, meanwhile, seemed to cling to the idea that the heavily-controlled CNN "brand" could translate perfectly to all forms of new media -- that those who are relying more than ever on the internet for their information will trust a big-profit-driven news organization without question the same way they did when they, quite frankly, had no other choice.

As the discussion went on, Bohrman seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand of an outdated way of thinking. He dismissed The Daily Show and defended the top-down model of information dissemination, which basically dictates that the organizations at the supposed pinnacle of the media carry the most authority. By the same token, he belittled -- probably inadvertently -- the news gatherers and aggregators at the forefront of the new media revolution, saying that the stories they break can be judged by whether or not they "percolate up" to the major networks -- whether the king-makers on TV and in print deem them worthy of a place within their hallowed ranks.

At one point, Bohrman even mentioned his excitement at reading a column on The Huffington Post which linked back to, of course, -- ostensibly proving his point.

It was right about then that my hand shot up.

For the next 45 minutes, I sat quietly as Bohrman looked directly at me -- meeting my gaze several times -- but never called on me. This, despite the fact that there were rarely more than a half-dozen hands raised at any given moment as the forum morphed into a question and answer session.

I continued to take notes and continued to keep my hand up, but was strangely by-passed over and over again. Whether Bohrman was aware of just who I was personally and/or my status as an ex-CNN employee and current troublemaking blogger I couldn't tell (although I'd bet that if he reads HuffPost, he's familiar with me in name if nothing else). One thing's for sure though: The conference wrapped up without me being able to ask my question.

Which is why, as the event ended and invited guests began making their way toward the doors, I stood up and headed in the direction of David Bohrman.

"Hi Dave, my name's Chez Pazienza," I said, smiling and extending my hand. "I don't know if you know who I am -- I used to be a producer here at CNN."

He returned my smile and handshake, but seemed distracted. Later, while leaving the building, I'd call my friend and fellow ex-CNNer Jacki Schechner, who used to work closely with Bohrman, and ask her if he was always so nervous and twitchy; she'd say no.

"I'm just curious," I asked, my eyes glued to the face atop his towering frame, "you mentioned reading The Huffington Post and said you were thrilled to see links there leading back to CNN's website. Do you ever read the comments from HuffPost readers whenever someone writes about CNN or, I hate to use this term, corporate media in general?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, they're not usually very complimentary. A lot of people who get their news from the internet are doing it because they don't trust you guys anymore."

He shifted on his feet, his eyes darting well above my head before finding their way back to me. "I don't know -- I mean, I don't think that's true."

"My question I guess is, do you feel at all like CNN as a television organization -- your 'brand' -- is in competition with new media? How do you fight the perception that there's something very wrong with the mainstream media in this country?"

He paused for a moment, then gave me a relaxed smile. "I think organizations like CNN complement new media. There's a symbiotic relationship between the two. We don't see new media as some kind threat."

And with that final word, he took a step back, giving me the international symbol for polite dismissal.

"Alright, thanks for talking to me, Dave -- I appreciate it," I said, then, just for the hell of it, threw him a curveball: "By the way," I smiled, "Jacki Schechner says hi."

See, Bohrman was Jacki's immediate supervisor during her time as a CNN internet reporter, and despite having hired her, he was either unwilling or unable to take a stand in the face of network president Jon Klein's decision to fire her last August -- which might prove better than anything I witnessed at the "Conversations on the Circle" forum that both he and CNN have no idea what matters to those who subscribe to the internet ethos, as Jacki Schechner knows the blogosphere inside and out and was an incalculable asset to an organization attempting to assert its new media dominance.

Either way, I knew she'd be a sore subject, and watching Bohrman suddenly falter and fidget restlessly at the mention of her was even more satisfying than the look on Bryan Bell's face when I first walked in the door.

"Oh, well," he sputtered. "Yeah, I really miss her." He adjusted his shirt and ran his palms down the front of his pants.

"I'll tell her you said that," I said with a smile, turning and walking away.

Less than 60 seconds later, I was back where I'd been for the four months since being fired: outside the Time Warner Center and beyond the purview of CNN and mainstream media in general.

As I silently wandered the massive shopping area directly under the Time Warner Center's glacial blackened glass towers, I did my best to figuratively pat myself on the back for being willing to go back into the belly of the beast and face whatever I found there -- to stick to the ideals that might've gotten me fired in the first place.

I'd made it inside and back out again. I was safe.

So, to celebrate, I took the escalator up to the Bouchon Bakery and rewarded myself with a sandwich and a bowl of soup -- which I paid for with the unemployment debit card issued to me by the state of New York.

Listening Post

Later this afternoon, I have to drive Inara to the airport where Jayne will be waiting to pick her up. I likely won't see her again for two months.

I've described in detail before what it's like to suddenly wake up and have my little girl not be there anymore -- how it feels like the light's gone out of the world -- so I'll spare everyone the details about the ways in which it gets more and more excruciating each time.

Here's Pearl Jam's Just Breathe.

Goodnight Moon

"Moon" is Inara's new favorite word. She points up at it, whether it appears in the afternoon sky or at night, and says with a big smile, "Moooon!"

So maybe it's fitting, for me at least, that this has been the view across much of the United States over the last couple of nights: a halo around the moon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Matter of Opinion

Interesting little item coming out of MSNBC right now -- and by that I don't mean the network is reporting it, but rather that what MS is doing is the item.

Just a few minutes ago, David Shuster and right-wing web-douche Andrew Breitbart practically got into a fist fight over the whole James O'Keefe arrest during an on-air segment. What's interesting about this is that Shuster was reprimanded about 24-hours ago by MSNBC management for tweeting the following directly to O'Keefe on Tuesday night:

"@JamesOKeefeIII a) you are not a journalist b) the truth is you intended to tap her phones c) it's a felony d) you will go to prison."

Obviously, considering that Shuster is ostensibly a general assignment reporter for MS and not a prime time host-commentator, this goes quite a few steps over the line when it comes to both offering a very public opinion on a politically charged story and confronting (at least "virtually") the person at the center of that story. What's strange, though, is that MSNBC would rightly come down on Shuster for the comments, then turn around and let him interview another of the main players in the O'Keefe controversy. It's a clear conflict of interest, and one that most news organizations would try to avoid -- even MSNBC.

Unless of course MS wanted to see the inevitable on-air fireworks that a Shuster-Breitbart confrontation would surely provide, but if that's true then why bother disciplining him in the first place?

I swear, sometimes I really have no idea what the hell they're thinking over there.

Worth mentioning, though, is that this isn't the first time David Shuster's gotten in trouble with the suits at MSNBC. Remember the "pimping out Chelsea Clinton" comment? Believe it or not, that time around, I defended Shuster. What follows is the piece I wrote for the Huffington Post during that whole row.

By the way, there are quite a few people who believe that this was the column that alerted CNN to the fact that I was writing on the outside -- the one that essentially got me fired.

"Pimp My Riot: In Defense of David Shuster" (Originally Published in the Huffington Post, 2.10.08)

Go ahead and pick up those rocks and get into pitching stance, because I'm about to suggest something unthinkable.

As you must know by now, MSNBC's David Shuster has revealed himself to be the Anti-Christ by suggesting on-air that Chelsea Clinton's role in her mother's campaign smacks of opportunism on the part of Camp Clinton; his exact words were that the once-and-possibly-future First Daughter was being "pimped out" by Mom and Dad. Since most folks assumed Shuster wasn't alluding to the MTV brand of pimping out, which I imagine would've involved jacking Chelsea up on 24" rims, the wave of thoroughly bullshit outrage in response to his admittedly ill-advised comment began pushing across the land almost immediately. Over the past few days, Shuster's been excoriated in the press and the blogging media, suspended by NBC, and targeted for as public a shaming as possible by Hillary Clinton herself.

Most of those now engaging in the obligatory and all-too-gratifying pile-on claim Shuster's offense to be two-fold: He insulted the child of a particular presidential contender for behavior most politicians' kids engage in -- the cynical would say that all candidates pimp their children in one manner or another -- while cavalierly flaunting the depth of anti-Clinton group-think that supposedly permeates MSNBC.

Hillary, though, has taken the argument one step further.

Her campaign is insinuating that Shuster's comment is a slight against all women, more proof that MSNBC -- the special-needs child of the NBC News family -- is essentially one big frat house. They cite a 12-month period that's seen the dismissal of Don Imus for making a crude but, let's face it, somewhat innocuous joke about the Rutgers womens' basketball team, an on-air mea culpa from Chris Matthews -- not to mention his inability to talk to Erin Burnett without little hearts dancing over his head -- and now Shuster's indiscretion.

In other words, the Clinton camp seems to be recasting this in exactly the kind of terms that are likely to motivate women voters; the fact that the Clintons are so adept at this sort of misdirection is precisely the reason their critics consider them little more than political profiteers who will say or do anything to make points at the polls.

This is why it's become second nature to question their motives, no matter how genuine or innocent those motives might seem at first glance. While there's no doubt that Chelsea Clinton simply wants to see her mother elected president, the campaign's own "handling" of her makes Chelsea look like just another weapon in the Clinton arsenal, and Hillary's indignation reek of calculated insincerity.

Understand something, I'm certainly not claiming that what David Shuster said wasn't incredibly stupid and somewhat unfair, nor am I saying that Hillary Clinton wouldn't make a decent president. However, it's not as if a journalist's decision to question the motivations of the Clintons is happening in a vacuum; the press has seen the Hillary and Bill PR machine in action for quite some time now, and maybe for that reason is apt to regard the Clintons' actions with slightly more suspicion than it otherwise might. I'll be the first one to say that this is unfortunate.

Did David Shuster deserve to be disciplined?

Yes, but not for the reason his detractors might think and not by the one charged with doling out the punishment.

Shuster raised a relevant point in an unquestionably crass and injudicious manner, and there's no doubt that he wouldn't challenge, say, Michelle Obama, in the same way -- lest he risk having Al Sharpton amass a torch-wielding mob at NBC's front door before the opening credits of the 5 O'clock news even hit the air. Now, though, a different group is demanding satisfaction for what it feels is a personal slight, and, for starters, it wants that one ineffectual gesture aggrieved parties invariably want in times like this: a public apology. I'll never understand why an obviously insincere show of genuflection acts as some kind of panacea to the perpetually pissed-off, but a good rule of thumb is this: If someone's apology has to be demanded, he or she probably doesn't really mean it. When you look at it like this, suspending Shuster is probably justified since he knows exactly what he said and meant every word of it -- making any apology an act of ass-kissing theater. Still, factor in the comical twist that Shuster's official reprimand is being self-righteously administered by NBC News President Steve Capus -- the same man who tied himself in an ethical slipknot on national television last year to justify his network's shameful decision to air the video manifesto of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho -- and you have to wonder what's really wrong over there at 30 Rock.

Maybe Shuster got off easy.

He gets to spend some time away from the Clintons and the peacock for awhile.

Last Writes

"I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

-- J.D. Salinger, 1919-2010

Genius is forever.

Quote About the iPad That Automatically Becomes My New Favorite Pick-Up Line

"When you feel all this power in your hands, you'll never want to go back."

-- Steve Jobs

Union Specific

I'll try to make this quick.

President Obama's State of the Union address last night was impressive overall: stirring yet completely conversational; overwhelmingly optimistic in its reaffirmation of the American ideal, yet acknowledging of the difficulties facing this country and its people; conciliatory to both Democrats and Republicans while still taking each party firmly to task. On this last subject, I've honestly never seen a president in my lifetime try so hard to create partisan amity -- with the understanding that we'll never overcome our current hardships without at least some measure of it -- only to have it spit back in his face at every turn.

As it stands now, the Republicans, who've turned obstinate group-think into a kind of art form, are never going to concede even an inch to Barack Obama. It's just that simple. Meanwhile, some on the progressive side continue to, ironically, take the same tack -- slamming the president over and over again because they feel he's somehow betrayed their Utopian ideals by not being liberal enough. When it comes to the latter group, I'll refer you to the latest piece in the Huffington Post by Cesca, who nailed it so flawlessly that I wish I'd been able to say what he said in exactly the same way. He perfectly addresses -- and blows big, gaping holes in -- the notion, espoused by people like Paul Krugman, that Obama has somehow "sold out" the progressive movement entirely. The reality is that Barack Obama remains one of the most progressive presidents this country has seen in the last century, and that should never be discounted or even diminished.

And that leads me to back to the Republicans -- the people the president is taking extraordinary pains to compromise with and offer concessions to, even at his own peril, because he once again understands that it's necessary for this country to work together as one to overcome the daunting challenges facing us right now. The response of conservatives to the State of the Union address was so laughably predictable you could've written it in your head even before Bob McDonnell took to a podium flanked by a black woman and an Asian-American guy to deliver the official GOP rebuttal. As usual, Republicans usurped credit for what they say were the most potent ideas pitched by Obama, claiming that they were, in fact, conservative ideas -- the implication being that even Obama realizes the Republicans are right so, really, why bother having him as president at all when Americans could have the real deal. But that's the point, and it's something that, again, progressives need to heed (and conservatives need to really get through their thick heads): Obama isn't a Republican. He's not a conservative, even though he may accept that certain conservative ideals can be good for the country.

One of the things I respect most about Barack Obama is what perpetually infuriates the extreme elements within both parties: They call him a centrist who in trying to please everyone can't please anyone. While I fully understand the dangers of taking the middle road, especially when your political enemies in the opposition party will always attack you because that's what they're programmed to do, deep-down most Americans want a president willing to represent all Americans. Granted, those who hate Barack Obama, the true lunatic fringe given a resonant voice by Fox News and talk radio, will likely never change their minds about him; the guy could reanimate the dessicated corpse of Ronald Reagan and together they could save a busload of unborn Christian fetuses from going over a cliff while singing I Love This Bar in two-part harmony and the Palin Nation still wouldn't stop calling him a socialist, Marxist, foreign, terrorist-loving whatever-the-hell. But the fact is that -- and how many times can I say this -- pipe dream or not, this country cannot rebound from its current crisis without some form of bipartisanship. It just can't be done.

Obama realizes this, and hopefully he convinced at least a few of his critics, and even more of the average Americans who don't already have a preconceived partisan opinion, to do the same. And if he didn't get through the people in the former group, let's hope the ones in the latter finally speak the hell up and put them in their place. Because our country can't afford to be hamstrung by stubborn ideologues for even one more day.

The train has to leave, with our without you on it.

Fear and Self-Loathing

The funniest thing you'll read all day:

The Onion: Rush Limbaugh: "I Don't Even Want To Be Alive Anymore"/1.25.10

Listening Post

This song is used exceptionally well in the trailer for the movie Daybreakers, which isn't surprising when you consider how inherently evocative and cinematic a piece of music it is.

Here's what I honestly think is one of the best covers I've ever heard -- Placebo doing the Kate Bush classic, Running Up That Hill.

Quote of the Day

"I tell ya, this is why people are disenchanted and becoming more and more disengaged really from what their government is doing because when we see an issue like this, words spoken that may not be true, coming from our president, and embarrassing our Supreme Court and not respecting the separation of powers... Since August more Americans have paid more attention to the (health care) bill and more Americans are becoming more concerned. It hadn’t been a matter of he not being able to explain his policy with government take over and mandation of health care, but Americans understanding what is in there not liking it."

-- Sarah Palin, responding to President Obama's State of the Union address on Fox News


Even now, after all we've seen, it still boggles the mind that Barack Obama can stand before the country and give a pretty fiery, well-articulated call to arms -- one that actually embraced his opponents far more than they deserved to be and called out the kind of petty, grudge-fueled partisan pissing match politics that are holding this country hostage -- then 20 minutes later this blithering idiot can prove that it fell largely on deaf ears out there in RushBeckistan.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Mad TV saw this coming.


What do you get when you combine a groveling, cultlike devotion to every little thing Steve Jobs leaves in the toilet in the morning with the instantaneous worldwide communication network provided by Twitter?

An outpouring of mass, real-time techno-worship like nothing you've ever seen.

Honestly, it's kind of terrifying.

Go here to experience it.

By the way, if you get in line and wait out in the cold to buy this thing, you're a fucking idiot. You'd be an idiot regardless, but you're definitely one for buying a first generation Apple product -- because what have we learned about every one of those over the past several years?

Tuesday Wednesday is Recycling Day

Sorry, kids, but I'm a little busy today. I realize that it's State of the Union night and of course the day when Steve Jobs will once again unleash his special brand of techno-witchcraft on America's slavish hipster population vis-a-vis the Apple Tablet (true item: the Apple Tablet will "jerk you off, collect the product, and use it as a power source"), but there's not much I can do about any of that right now. Instead, at least for the moment, I'm bringing back a piece from December of 2008 that focused on Proposition 8, mostly because the Prop 8 trial in California looks like it's going to end the way it started -- really nastily. I should be back in action later today.

"Let No One Put Asunder" (Originally Published, 12.21.08)

It's rare that something angers me so profoundly that I spend a good portion of the quality weekend time I have with my family letting it get under my skin.

This is one of those times, unfortunately.

I never believed the passage of California's Prop 8 -- which overturned the legalization of gay marriage in that state -- to be a product of hate. Ignorance, yes. Fear, definitely. Stupidity, absolutely -- but not, for most of its supporters, an out-and-out hatred of gay people. There's no doubt that, in the classic "hate the sin, love the sinner" vein, many opponents of gay marriage hold what they perceive to be the homosexual lifestyle (and the nagging fear that it will somehow encroach upon their clean, bucolic suburban existences) in greater contempt than any one gay person. This distinction, I'd imagine, provides little comfort for the 900-thousand or so gay and lesbian men and women living in California who've just been told by their neighbors that they're second class citizens -- but it still doesn't make the passing of Prop 8 proof that millions of people despise homosexuals.

Which doesn't mean that there isn't a small and very vocal contingent among Prop 8's supporters -- including the sponsors of the initial bill -- that does openly despise gay culture and what it believes gay people represent.

They consider homosexuality to be evil in every sense and will fight tooth and nail to eradicate it (which only proves the ridiculous folly of their belief system, since you can't "fix" gay and you damn sure can't make it go away).

These are the people who are now one-upping the ban that's already been imposed on any future gay weddings in California.

They want to not only ensure that no more same-sex couples marry -- they want to retroactively nullify the unions of an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who were married during the few months that it was legal to do so in the state of California. The imaginatively-monikered "Yes on 8" campaign has now filed a brief arguing that because the new law states that only a marriage between a man and a woman can be recognized in California, any gay marriage is automatically invalid. The wording of Prop 8 never expressly outlined what would happen to the unions of those couples who'd already tied the knot, but if you couldn't see this draconian push to thoroughly extinguish the concept of gay marriage coming from a mile away, you're so naive that stepping outside your front door for any reason would likely be hazardous to your health.

These fanatics -- and that's exactly what they are -- don't simply disagree with the idea of same-sex couples marrying, they consider it a sinful blight on humanity and something that would put our society one step closer to being smitten, wholesale, by a vengeful God.

And who's heading up the court battle for the intolerant extremists looking to abolish gay marriage in its entirety?

Ken Starr.

Yes, that Ken Starr. The ultra-conservative and ethically-challenged legal attack dog who dubiously spent several years and millions of taxpayer dollars trying to bring down Bill Clinton back in the 90s -- the far-right butt-boy who issued the infamous "Starr Report" which purposely, pruriently read more like soft-core porn than a legal document. Starr's now the dean of the law department at Pepperdine University in Malibu (side note: don't go to law school at Pepperdine) and obviously is the perfect choice to pick up the long, hard spear, wrap both hands around its shaft and lead the charge to wipe gay marriage off the map in California. With Starr at the helm of the operation, you know exactly what you're getting, why you're getting it and the kinds of people behind the whole thing.

Opponents of the move, meanwhile -- who argue that it's unconstitutional and outright wrong to attempt to apply Prop 8 retroactively -- are scheduled to file their own brief tomorrow. It would be wonderful to believe that the opponents of this reprehensible effort will be successful, but they have yet to even slow the offensive that's been steamrolling over them the past few months.

There's no denying, however, that their cause is just. Their cause is, ironically, righteous. It always should've turned the stomachs of decent, freedom-loving Americans that there were those in our ranks who stood violently against the idea of an entire swath of the population being granted the right to marry the person of his or her choosing. It really should've provoked outrage that a group of our citizens had been granted a civil right only to have it put to a vote and subsequently revoked. The fact that the above has been allowed to occur, and now, to add the worst kind of insult to injury, those for whom the concept of such a right is nothing less than sacrilege seek to pull an end-run on the law and abrogate the contract of those who availed themselves of that right when it was legal -- well, that's just fucking despicable.

When federal Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the bootleggers and speakeasy proprietors arrested during the 13 years that alcohol was illegal in America weren't automatically freed from prisons, en masse. This is because if you engage in an illegal act, the eventual legalization of that act doesn't instantly absolve you in the eyes of the law. You did it while it was illegal, you broke the law.

That's the way it works.

Unless, apparently, you're talking about same-sex marriages.

Then, in a slap-in-the-face double-standard, you're expected to accept that the legal, ostensibly binding commitment you made in good faith can be subject to any future changes the state feels like implementing. Basically, your marriage -- the most important contract you enter into -- can be "grandfathered" to death.

To call it unfair would be a laughable understatement.

It's wrong. Period.

Just fucking wrong.

What follows is a related piece published here last month. It was written in response to the initial passage of Prop 8.

There's a guy I know named Omar who's been one of my best friends since we were both around 16.

He's been beside me through some of the worst times in my life, providing a kind of unwavering moral support and unconditional love that really can't be done justice with something as mundane as a well-placed word or two. He's more like a brother to me than a friend and I, quite honestly, would go to the ends of the earth for him if he required it. We've always championed each other and I have no doubt that we always will. Our friendship is one of the most important, and certainly the most enduring, things in each of our lives.

If Omar called me tomorrow morning and told me that he'd found somebody he wanted to share the rest of his life with and was planning to get married, I'd congratulate him, send a big hug his way, and ask him where he wanted me to be and when he wanted me to be there. There's no way in hell I'd miss his wedding.

The thing is, I don't have to worry about that.

That's because Omar can't get married -- at least not officially -- because he's gay.

Last week, while America was celebrating what feels, even now, like a rebirth and a restatement of purpose in the wake of the election that will put Barack Obama in the White House, millions in California were reeling from an election day shock -- a decision at the polls that inexplicably aims to undo a very real "march of freedom" within this country and cement the status of gay Americans as second-class citizens.

California's Proposition 8 was unlike anything I'd seen in my lifetime: a clever end-run around the law which attempted to actually take away the rights of a specific segment of the population -- rights that had previously been granted by the California Supreme Court. It was anathema to everything America purports to stand for -- justice and equality for all, without exception -- and yet it passed handily and did so in one of the most progressive states in the country.

It was, it is, a national embarrassment -- and one that never should've been allowed to happen in the first place.

It's true we live in a democracy and that each of us has a say in determining our leaders and the manner in which they govern, but there are some decisions that should be beyond the whim of the electorate -- out of reach of the most ignorant, timid or demagogic within our ranks. There's a reason our court system is charged with interpreting the Constitution and enforcing its tenets: We pay those entrusted with this awesome responsibility to be a little wiser than the rest of us -- to literally lay down the law when no one else can, or will.

Some things aren't up for debate in this country.

Our fundamental freedoms cannot be put to a vote.

Not here -- not in America.

There should be no doubt that eventually we'll look back on this disgraceful moment in our history the way we now regard segregation, pre-suffrage, or the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II: with shame, sadness, and a host of unanswerable questions as to what we might possibly have been thinking. We know this because, as much as those who stand against it will hate to hear this, legal gay marriage in the United States is an inevitability. We know this because of the basic nature of freedom: it expands.

Freedom expands.

It will not be contained -- and it most certainly will not be restricted once it's already been allowed to flourish. Isn't this the very principle that's guided our foreign policy for years? Are we so blind or so unforgivably hypocritical that we can't recognize when the truth of that ideal is staring us right in the face?

The genie is out of the bottle.

There's no putting it back in, and it was inexcusable that we sought to restrain it in the first place. That's not what this country is about.

My friend Omar, like all Americans, should have the right to marry anyone he wants -- to live his life however he chooses.

And not you, nor I, nor anyone else has the right to take those rights away from him.

Prairie Dog Day Afternoon

This video manages to combine the Dramatic Chipmunk, the complete insanity of the Japanese and, yes, the Wilhelm Scream -- and that's why it's just plain wonderful.

Quote of the Day/Listening Post

"I am a journalist. The truth shall set me free."

-- James O'Keefe III, via Twitter last night

Behold the surreal Escher painting of a practical joke that is this kid's entire existence. He's a white upper-middle-class brat from New Jersey who identifies himself, in Thurston Howell-esque fashion, as being "the third"; a guy who dressed like an exaggerated version of what he figured a pimp looked like from watching TV and tried to bring down an organization that ostensibly is in place to help the underprivileged people he felt completely comfortable mocking; and somebody who co-opts Bible verses like an oppressed commoner when one of his scams blows up in his face due apparently to his own amusing incompetence.

Seriously, Andy Kaufman couldn't have come up with something like this.

Here's Dynamite Hack's Boyz in the Hood.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Friends in Low Places

A little while ago, I kind of wondered aloud what sort of response conservative web-turd Andrew Breitbart would have now that his young Padawan is under FBI arrest, accused in what seems to be an amusingly Keystone Cops-ish plot to bug Mary Landrieu's office.

Well, so much for honor among ideologues.

"No, I have nothing to do with what James O’Keefe does. James O’Keefe is an independent filmmaker."

-- Andrew Breitbart in an interview this evening

Enjoy the underside of that bus, James.

(The picture above, by the way, shows Breitbart sitting beside O'Keefe and his "prostitute" in the ACORN sting operation, Hannah Giles, during a press conference to tout O'Keefe's undercover video last October.)

Tap Out

Oh, James, you little douche. They're gonna love you in prison.

Make sure to wear your white-guy pimp costume. That'll go over huge.

TPM: Conservative Filmmaker Behind ACORN Video Arrested Along with Three Others for Attempted Bugging of Mary Landrieu's Office/1.26.10

The big question now is whether O'Keefe's still on the payroll of right-wing web-turd Andrew Breitbart. Regardless, this is gonna be damn entertaining over the next few days.

By the way, the best comment on all of this comes from Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, via Twitter: "'I never made it all the way through All the President's Men. What happens?' -- James O'Keefe."


The Village Voice: Sting Trick 2: The Wrath of ACORN/9.24.09

(One last thing: Where have I seen O'Keefe before? Hmmm...)

Turnabout is Fair Prey

I don't even know where the hell to begin with this one.

Anybody who's visited this site more than a couple of times is probably well aware of my unrelenting abhorrence of Nancy Grace. In the past, I've called her "the most loathsome, feckless troll to currently, inexplicably, have a forum on national television," a "vile, unscrupulous monster who peddles morbid prurience like a five-dollar whore and whose brand of rank solipsism is matched only by her near-sociopathic disregard for the lives she's ruined and exploited and by her apparent contempt for the tenets of responsible journalism (to say nothing of basic human decency)."

And that was exercising restraint.

Well, in a display of almost incomprehensibly naked hypocrisy, lawyers for both Nancy Grace and CNN filed an emergency motion in an Ocala, Florida courtroom yesterday demanding that cameras be barred from recording Grace's scheduled deposition this Thursday in the wrongful death suit brought against her and her employer. The suit, as you probably know, stems from an interview Grace did in 2006 with the mother of a missing toddler -- an interview that was more like a police interrogation and one which may have led to the woman committing suicide less than 24-hours later. The family of Melinda Duckett claims that not only did Grace coax the troubled 21-year-old mother onto her show then bully her when she couldn't or wouldn't satisfactorily answer questions about her missing son -- leading Grace to of course imply that Duckett herself was behind the disappearance -- but that Grace then added insult to injury by airing the pre-taped interview after Duckett had already shot herself.

Grace's lawyers say the presence of cameras in the courtroom would cause unnecessary embarrassment to their client.

Sorry -- what?

The irony is so bald-faced as to be almost laughable: Nancy Grace was allowed to put a 21-year-old girl from Ocala -- a woman who, regardless of what she may or may not have done, was an unsophisticated neophyte when it came to the way a modern media feeding frenzy works and was clueless to the fact that she was the blood in the shark-infested waters -- in front of a television camera and publicly eviscerated her to the point where it may have led to her killing herself. But now Grace, who's made an entire career out of pulling this kind of repugnant horseshit over and over again in the name of ratings, should be afforded a measure of respect and spared the embarrassment of being grilled on national television? She somehow deserves more consideration than she gives the guests on her show, many of whom she seems to delight in playing the venerable inquisitor of? She deserves to be spared just a small taste of what she put Melinda Duckett through?

Not a chance.

In the spirit of what Matt Taibbi once said about Bob Novak: Live by the sword, die by it, you fucking dog.

(Update, 9:30pm: Smile pretty, Nancy. TMZ: Nancy Grace Must Appear on Camera, Judge Rules/1.26.10)

Project Office Mayhem

Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 20,498,099 (since this will immediately cause your server to become self-aware)

On August 29th, 1997...

Here It Is, Your Moment of Gems

Quote(s) of the Day

"You know what's good for tarnish, a mixture of vinegar and ammonia. That'll bring it right back."

-- Jay Leno, when asked whether he felt his image had been tarnished by the late night battle that saw the exit of Conan O'Brien from The Tonight Show, and proving that, truly, the funniest man came out on top in this whole thing

"Spectacular failure has been the wind beneath his wings."

-- Nancy Franklin of the New Yorker on NBC Universal CEO and Boy Wonder Jeff Zucker

Space Odyssey

I can already picture it:

Travolta: So, have you read Dianetics? I really think it could help you right now -- I mean, once you get on the bridge, get control of the reactive mind and purge all your engrams and body thetans, it could be total KSW for you. We're talking clear exteriorization here. If you'll just let me put my ethics in you -- here, hold on, I brought an e-meter with me, I'll give you a quick audit -- man, this is gonna be great. You know, I think we can implement LRH study-tech all throughout this village and put you guys on a purification rundown. Let me get a few of the OTs from the orgs over here -- they'll give you a massage and some niacin and warn you about the evils of psychiatry.

Haitian Man (in Creole): What the fuck are you talking about? I'M TRAPPED UNDER A BUILDING! My family's dead! I haven't eaten or drunk more than a couple of drops of water in days! Hey, those two tin cans you're holding with the wires attached to them -- any food in those, you lunatic asshole? Yeah, thanks for the book -- maybe I'll eat that.

Travolta: Oh, shit. SP! SP! We got an SP here!

Haitian Man: Prick. The least you could do is dress my gaping leg wound with one of those Jets AFC Champions t-shirts over there. And by the way, I thought you sucked in Valkyrie.

USA Today: Travolta Flies Supplies, Scientologists to Haiti/1.26.10

Listening Post

One of the great mysteries of the universe is how Nic Harcourt Jason Bentley*, host of Morning Becomes Eclectic on L.A.'s KCRW, manages to instinctively book bands for his show who can sound incredible completely stripped down in-studio.

Here's a great example: Metric doing Gold Guns Girls.

*Obviously, it's been awhile since I've lived in L.A. or listened to Morning Becomes Eclectic as a complete radio show. My bad.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thinking Outside the Inbox

The latest in our ongoing series which brings just some of the PR-firm junk e-mail I regularly get to you, the readers.

Hi Chez,

Curious if Justin Bieber is serious about working with Taylor Swift? Want to find out the inside scoop on what he and Miley Cyrus will present at the 2010 Grammys? I thought you and your readers would be interested in this VIP meet&greet with teen sensation Justin Bieber, which is up for auction at to raise funds for Let Em Play – a charity which helps youth participate in sports, entertainment, and educational programs who otherwise would not be able to afford to.

Meet Justin Bieber & Attend His Concert at the Rosemont Theatre in Chicago on March 24th or 25th: The winner and a guest will receive 2 tickets to the sold-out Justin Bieber concert in Chicago at the Rosemont Theatre on either March 24th or 25th. Both the winner and their guest will meet Justin Bieber before the concert, take pictures with him, and receive one autograph each.

Additional packages can be found at letemplay and include:

Pink Stratocaster Guitar Signed by Miley Cyrus!: No name is more recognized in the pop music and television shows of the teen crowd then Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana. She has dominated both genres for the past several years and is one of the most sought after people of her generation. This guitar signed by Miley Cyrus comes with our certificate of authenticity, an independent certificate of authenticity from one of the most respected authenticators in the industry, PLUS, a video of Miley actually signing the guitar!

For more information or images, please contact me at



And now, my response:

Dear Matt,

Sounds good. I'm planning to kill myself next Thursday, so really anytime before that will work. Just e-mail all the necessary info to and I'll get right on it. Oh, and it's than not then; as in "no name is more recognized in the pop music and television shows of the teen crowd than Miley Cyrus," or maybe "I'd rather be colonoscoped with the front of a Los Angeles class nuclear submarine than have to listen to Mylie Cyrus or Justin Bieber."

Glad I could help.


Chez : )

Bonus Quote of the Day

"(Seasonal Affective Disorder) sufferers are tourists in the misery world. They show up around November, despair, and depart in April. Those of us that are year-round sufferers aren’t given a reprieve when open-toed sandals return."

-- Ariel Leve, showing the entirely made-up "disease" known as SAD the respect it deserves in today's Daily Beast

There's another word for people who feel down during the winter months and claim that it's because they suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder: pussies.

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Why post this bunny?

Because I had to put up something to knock the picture of Evil Gary Coleman down off the top of the page. That thing was gonna give me nightmares.

Picture of the Week (And It's Only Monday)

Over the weekend, child star turned adult object lesson Gary Coleman was arrested in Utah on a domestic violence charge. Admittedly, when I first heard about it I chuckled, wondering just how much imminent danger a punch to the thighs can put someone in.

But now that I see this mugshot and understand Coleman's true nature, I think it's important that we not only keep him locked up -- we also need to immediately douse him in holy water and stab him through the heart with the seven Daggers of Megiddo. Mister Drummond obviously should've done this a long time ago.

Damn, don't mess with this motherfucker in prison. G-Col will cut you good.

Taking It On the Chin

I promise I'll leave the whole NBC-Conan-Leno thing alone soon, but a couple of amusing developments this morning:

First, here's something you could've seen coming a light year away: The requisite Jay Leno Image Rehab Tour begins in earnest this Thursday on -- wait for it -- Oprah. How they're gonna fit Jay's chin, Oprah's ass and both of their egos into the studio will be one for the books.

Meanwhile, NBC Uni's profits plunged 30% in the last quarter under the, ahem, "leadership" of Boy Wonder Jeff Zucker. The victory party will be held tomorrow from 11:00am to 11:15am at the Hale & Hearty Soup in the basement of 30 Rock. Get in line early.

Quote of the Day

"Corporations aren't born; they are legal inventions with state-sanctioned paperwork for DNA. How do these non-biological entities, existing through an obeisant contrivance of government, merit equal protection of the constitution? More importantly, why don't actual people enjoy the kind of legal protections America provides to corporations? ... Corporate personhood exists for the purpose of divorcing men like Lloyd Blankfein from the consequences of their actions. Well, I say enough: the man's metaphorical head must roll and the crime for which he bears executive responsibility must be punished. I don't even care if Goldman-Sachs experiences a corporate makeover in the process, but America cannot afford to reward this kind of behavior with taxpayer dollars."

-- Matt Osborne in a piece entitled "Citizen Goldman Sachs, Psychopath"

I always imagine Matt being a cross between Tyler Durden and Horatius at the Bridge -- simultaneously tearing stuff down that doesn't matter and defending to the death what does -- and that's what makes him so great to read.

Listening Post

This is one of those cool little bands more people should know about.

From their 2008 album Secrets are Sinister, here's Longwave, with The Devil and the Liar.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

"There’s a reason why the otherwise antithetical Leno and Conan camps are united in their derision of NBC’s titans. A TV network has become a handy proxy for every mismanaged, greedy, disloyal and unaccountable corporation in our dysfunctional economy."

-- Frank Rich (the New York Times's most potent voice of reason), basically making the same argument I made here and at the Huffington Post last week, in a really good piece in today's Times on the fallout from the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts

Sunday Sacrilege

That'll do, Christian. That'll do.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Morning Afternoon Cartoons

From 1949, it's Droopy in Out-Foxed.

Overemotional Rescue

Alright, sure I'm probably gonna catch hell, but I can't be the only one who feels this way: How painful was that "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon last night?

Jesus -- the pretentious melodrama, the obvious celebrity self-satisfaction, the ironically bombastic solemnity; the whole thing played out like a South Park parody. Kid Rock? He gives a crap about Haiti? I'm not sure he could find the place on a map. Madonna? Really? Can't she just adopt all those kids Anderson Cooper is apparently single-handedly saving? Justin Timberlake doing Hallelujah? And of course, Wyclef Jean's insufferable preening. The only thing missing was Kanye interrupting everything so he could break down crying.

By the time the thing was over I wanted to know if there was a number I could text to get my donation back.

Look, I'm obviously not going to slam the cause and the end certainly justifies the means -- if it raised money for the people of Haiti, then it was inarguably a good thing -- but why did the whole show feel like it was mostly an excuse for a lot of the celebrities taking part in it to prove they had souls?

Go ahead. You can start bitching me out now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I don't want to live in a world where Scott Brown's daughters are available but affordable healthcare isn't."

-- Andy Borowitz, via Twitter

Listening Post

Exhilarating. Hilarious. Heartbreaking. Visionary. Ferocious. Moving. Just plain fucking genius. There really aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe how great Hedwig and the Angry Inch is. No, I never got a chance to see the stage show, but the movie is one of my all-time favorites -- one of the best rock-and-roll films ever made.

As wonderfully fiery as the upbeat material is that John Cameron Mitchell wrote for Hedwig, it's always been the ballads that just leave me awestruck. Here now, two of them -- basically the end of the movie.

First up, what I think is honest-to-God a near-perfect song. It's the gorgeous Wicked Little Town.

And of course, the film's crescendo -- Midnight Radio.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best Government Money Can Buy

This is so damn depressing I'm not even gonna put myself through the irritation of writing about it.

I'm outsourcing it to Cesca -- since he sums the situation up nicely.

Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog! Go!: Who's With the Corporations?: The SCOTUS Citizens United Decision/1.21.10

Just keep telling yourselves they're on your side, you Tea Bagging morons.

(Update, 8:30pm: Jason Linkins over at HuffPo may have the best possible headline for this. It's both succinct and correct: The Huffington Post: The Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision is Terrifying/1.21.10)

Suck My Kiss

Although not quite as spasm-inducingly hysterical as Creed Shreds, this clip of KISS doing something that sounds like Hava Nagila as interpreted by Dr. Frankenfurter is pretty damn brilliant. Mostly because I really can't stand KISS.

Breaking the Banks

This is a start. Now if we can just get a measure passed that will allow Americans to punch Lloyd "God's Work" Blankfein in the mouth with impunity, we'll be on to something.

The Huffington Post: Obama Seeks New Banking Restrictions/1.21.10

Speaking of which, who knew doing God's work was so lucrative?

The Huffington Post: Goldman Sachs Profits Hit $4.8-Billion, Pay Up 47%/1.21.10

Just warms your fucking heart, doesn't it?

It's All About the Heir

And now, in news that's not really news because it should've been news back in 2008 but instead turned into something everybody knew but nobody really bothered to give a crap about:

The Huffington Post: John Edwards Admits Love Child is His/1.21.10

"The Boring Ultimatum" (Originally Published, 5.11.09)

When it comes to back-room political intrigue, it takes quite a bit to raise the collective eyebrow of the public; we're just about desensitized at this point to even the most underhanded of manipulations.

That said, a story that broke yesterday concerning John Edwards's mercifully ill-fated presidential campaign is really a bit of a shocker. Apparently, while many of the rank and file within the Edwards camp knew nothing about the illicit affair their candidate was carrying on with one of his videographers, the upper echelon of the campaign did know. What's more, they were so concerned about the potentially devastating impact that the scandal would have on both the country and the Democratic Party that they created a "Doomsday Plan," plotting in secret to actually scuttle their own campaign, should it have started to look as if Edwards might win the nomination. The question of course is: how? How would they have sabotaged their candidate's political ambitions?

Here now, twelve of the ideas tossed around by the shadowy Fifth Columnists within the Edwards camp to bring down their leader.

1. Try out a new campaign slogan: "John Edwards: No One Will Better Service Your Family."

2. Go retro: Plant explosives in his cigars (after first getting him to start smoking cigars).

3. According to an analysis of the plans they'd acquired, the only way to destroy Edwards would be to maneuver down a trench and locate a small thermal exhaust port right below the main port. The shaft below leads directly to his reactor system. It's only two meters wide, so they'd have to use proton torpedoes.

4. "I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who's in the 'pest removal' business."

5. Six words: Senior Edwards Campaign Manager Mark Penn.

6. They weren't sure, but they knew it would be called "Operation Vidal-kyrie" and would involve putting his hair somewhere near an open flame.

7. Gather the Seven Daggers of Megiddo. Kill John Edwards before he can rise to power and defeat the Nazarene.

8. You know that Ann Coulter-faggot thing? Totally true.

9. Set up an intervention with Bill Clinton.

10. Quietly book him and Elizabeth for one of those Maury show paternity tests. Tell him it's a campaign stop aimed at nailing down the "unemployed wigger" constituency.

11. Arrange a little hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

12. Fuck it, just tell the nearest reporter that Edwards has been doing some skank.