Friday, September 28, 2012

Response Time

It's time once again to answer your serious questions with a lot of half-assery. Yes, it's the Daily Banter mailbag.

This week: What changes may be coming in the Obama cabinet if he wins? Is there anything asshole-ish that Todd Akin won't say? And which First Lady would we most like to be stranded on a desert island with?

Also, my updated thoughts on Prometheus.

Open the Mailbag

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 9.28.12

Join the After Party

This week: Working Vacations; The Emmy Awards; Homeland versus Mad Men versus Breaking Bad; The Genius of Louis CK and David Lynch; Why the hell is Big Bang Theory so popular?; Fargo: The TV Series; Movies We Love that Everyone Else Hates; Mr. Wizard is a Dick, Part 2; Arnold’s Awful Voicemail Message; Bob’s Favorite New Alcoholic Beverage; and much more.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 9.27.12

Netanyahu and Super Mario; Obama Adds 5 Million Jobs in 30 Months; Republicans in Denial About Polls; The Liberal Math Conspiracy; Poll Results and the Voter Disenfranchisement Conspiracy; Flashback to 2008 Poll Numbers on this Date; Healthcare and Mitt Romney; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

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Listening Post

Something new and good from a band called Churchill.

This is Change.

Still immersed in project hell. Just a little longer, kids.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Romney is an almost perfect amalgam of all the great out-of-touch douchebags of our national cinema: he's Greg Marmalard from Animal House mixed with Billy Zane's sneering, tux-wearing Cal character in Titanic to pussy-ass Prince Humperdinck to Roy Stalin to Gordon Gekko (he's literally Gordon Gekko). He's everything we've been trained to despise, the guy who had everything handed to him, doesn't fight his own battles and insists there's only room in the lifeboat for himself – and yet the Democrats, for some reason, have had terrible trouble beating him in a popularity contest."

-- Matt Taibbi, in a piece which wonders why Barack Obama, while pulling ahead in almost every poll, isn't completely obliterating Mitt Romney

A Better Off Dead reference.

For that, Taibbi has my eternal love and respect.

Listening Post

I truly love this. It's the bad-ass Angel Haze rapping over Jamie xx's remix of Gil Scott-Heron's New York is Killing Me -- all mashed up by producer 83rd.

Got all that?

Well, just listen.

By the way, yes, I'm still completely underwater on this project I'm doing so I'll continue to be scarce around here for the next couple of days. Podcast later today and Banter mailbag, but that's about it. Speaking of which, as usual, if you have a political, pop cultural or sexual deviancy-related question for Bob, Ben and me to pound out a quick response to -- send me it via e-mail, Facebook, DM or the comments here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Basket Case

Today's piece for the Daily Banter takes a look at Billie Joe Armstrong's angry tirade onstage in Vegas last week.

An excerpt:

"Now if Billie Joe Armstrong really does have a drinking or drug problem — if it’s the kind of thing that’s interfering with his life and causing real damage — then obviously he’s smart to get help. But there’s something mildly disconcerting about the rush by a rock and roll band to both grovel at the feet of a corporate radio giant and blame what may very well have been an entirely justified tantrum on something other than the fact that the guy at the center of it is a former punk."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

I caught Amanda Palmer last night at the House of Blues in San Diego and it was everything I imagined it would be.

Sure, I put this song up not too long ago, but here's a live version of her new single, The Killing Type.

Now your humble narrator, who's a mess of stress from work despite having been able to finally take a couple of days off, is going to once again immerse himself in the pile of stuff on his desk.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Listening Post

I'm going through a serious late-70s/early-80s rock phase right now when it comes to the music I'm listening to. We're talking a lot of Blue Oyster Cult, Nazareth, Dio-era Black Sabbath, etc. Also, plenty of this guy -- Joe Walsh.

Here's Life of Illusion.

By the way, in case you haven't noticed, yes, I'm out of the loop right now. My girlfriend and I basically took a long weekend, although it's one that I still have no choice but to work through because that's just how things are these days. I should be back in action around here, at least on a semi-regular basis, beginning tomorrow. Although I've got a project I'm frantically nearing a deadline on so who the hell knows.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hounding Fox

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at a big and somewhat surprising milestone for MSNBC, one that could signal a shift in cable news viewing habits -- or could just be a hiccup.

Here's the opening shot:

"Several years ago, when I was still working at CNN, there was a morning where I walked into anchor Carol Costello’s office to find her buried in the overnight numbers. I plunked myself down in the comfortable chair in front of her desk and waited for her to finish going through the not-so-rosy details and, sure enough, after a minute or two she dropped the paperwork, rolled her eyes in exasperation and sighed, 'I don’t get it — how does Fox do it?' I chuckled a little, then answered, 'Because Fox News is a brand, not a product.'"

Read the Rest Here

Mail Bonding

Just a reminder that these days I'm curating the Daily Banter mailbag, so if you've got a question you'd like to hear me, Bob and Ben respond to with a lot of not-at-all-serious half-assery, feel free to comment here, send me a Facebook message or drop me an e-mail (the addresses are to the right).

Answers run tomorrow. Remember, if your question is picked you an outgoing message left on your answering machine by NPR's Karl Cassell.

Not really. I guess I could do it for you, though. I do a mean impression of him.

Quote of the Day

"In the future, when we are forced at laser point to point to a minute and fifteen seconds of footage to describe the state of pop culture in 2012, we should choose this. It says so much about who we are and how entertainment works."

-- Rich Juzwiak of Gawker on the unedited footage, aired last night on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, of six-year-old "Honey Boo Boo" sneezing into her hand and playing with the snot

I almost had a Will McAvoy moment during my quick hit on HuffPost Live yesterday.

I had been asked on to talk about the Kate Middleton topless pictures but it turned out that the segment I was featured in was largely devoted to talking to The Insider's Kevin Frazier about the state of celebrity journalism and who he liked at the upcoming Emmys. At two points -- not one but two -- Frazier touted the fact that Kris Jenner had personally given him a direct line to her, saying, "You know, Kev, if you ever have a question about my family, just pick up the phone and call." Again, he mentioned this twice because it was apparently just that important.

The first possible response that popped into my head upon hearing this, which I would've said had I wanted to be a complete dick, was, "Really, Kev? Kris Jenner told a celebrity news reporter that she's available at any time to promote her family? That's totally unusual -- you must have some serious clout." (The second possible response, had I really wanted to be a dick, was, "Kris Jenner gave an attractive black man her phone number. Go figure.")

Either way, this is where we are at the beginning of the 21st century in America: We're a culture ruled by the dumb-shit antics of reality TV stars. We watch them. We care what they do and what say. We have them on speed-dial. Which is why we fucking suck.

Listening Post

Even monsters deserve love.

Here's the new video from Wilco, with artwork based on the Nathaniel Murphy drawings that inspired the song.

This is Sunloathe.

(By the way, my Blogger host finally did away with its old interface -- the one it's been using since I started this little experiment of mine more than six years ago -- and have pushed everything and everyone over to a new and not the least bit improved behind-the-scenes design. I hate it. Hate the hell out of it to the point where despite repeated pleas to transfer to the new system, I stubbornly held onto the doing things the old way in the hope that Google would eventually get the hint and give people the option of sticking with the original interface. Obviously that didn't happen. If I wanted Wordpress I would've gone with freaking Wordpress. Bottom line: Things may occasionally look a little different around here, unless they finally ironed the bugs out of this new system.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Boob Tube

Just a heads-up that I'll be making a guest appearance on HuffPost Live today.

The subject: Kate Middleton's breasts.

Because of course I'm the world's foremost authority on topless princesses.

Anyway, feel free to click on over if you'd like. The segment should hit at around 6:45PM Eastern.

This Means War

Today's column for the Daily Banter expands a little on something I alluded to yesterday: the conservative media's reaction to the secret recordings of Mitt Romney. The reality is that they can barely hide their giddiness at the prospect of finally getting the war of ideas they've always wanted.

Here's an excerpt:

"Rush Limbaugh’s claim is not only that Mitt Romney is right in his assessment that there’s a steadily growing 'taker' class in this country which is content to sit on its ass and leech off the supposed hard work of the 'makers,' but that it’s an argument that should’ve been front-and-center in the presidential race from the very beginning. In the minds of Limbaugh and the rest of the far-right, the only thing stopping the rallying cry of the resentful from being shouted from the rooftops has been a lack of balls on the part of Romney, who obviously and somewhat wisely considered such stridency to be politically toxic. But now, thanks to Romney being forced out into the open and put in a position where he really has no choice but to cop to what he espouses when he thinks the cameras are off, the most important debate to be had in this election is actually possible."

Read the Rest Here

Quote of the Day

"If you're low-income enough to not be paying income tax, you're doing a shitty job that nobody else wants to do in this country. You're cleaning toilets. You're driving buses at the night shift. You're bussing tables. You're doing all these things that Mitt Romney is never going to do."

-- Matt Taibbi, pretty much hitting it on the head

Listening Post

From what's absolutely one of the best albums of the year so far, here's the astonishing Chan Marshall, AKA Cat Power, with Cherokee.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Deep Mitt

Today's column for the Daily Banter is about -- and stop me if you've heard this one before -- the latest colossal Mitt Romney campaign disaster.

Here's an excerpt:

"There’s something especially disconcerting about seeing and hearing Mitt Romney speak in such an uncharacteristically statesmanlike manner, free of all the usual clumsy, spastic tics that hamstring his every attempt to interact with normal people, and knowing that the reason for it is that he’s comfortable around millionaires and billionaires — and they may be the only people in the world in whose presence he truly is relaxed. Figuring he was away from both the judgments of the underclass and the need to perform the regular balancing act required to make him appear empathetic and human, he let the flag of the real Mitt Romney fly high and the result painted a picture of a guy who may truly be borderline sociopathic. The window into the mind and personality of the Mitt Romney we’ve all been trying to figure out for months suddenly brought all those odd personalty quirks of his into sharp focus: they now seem more than ever like glitches in the construct he’s created to be able to appear human, the cracks in the mask of sanity Patrick Bateman was forced to wear when he wasn’t hitting people in the mouth with an axe in the middle of his living room."

Read the Rest Here

Monday, September 17, 2012

Up in the Air

I should've warned everyone about this earlier but I'm out of the loop all day today. I'm in Dallas right now, making my routine pilgrimage to a place I normally wouldn't be caught dead anywhere near to bring Inara to her mother. This time around, my child spent an entire month with me in Los Angeles, just the two of us, and I have to admit that more so than any other time I've had to part with her, I'm particularly devastated.

Anyway, I'll have a piece for Banter tomorrow, but aside from that I've got more work on my desk than I know what to do with right now and I'm going to be going through a bit of a grieving process so I can't vouch for how strong the output around here will be over the next 48-hours or so.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Romney's going to help the upper class. He doesn't know everyday people, except maybe the person who cleans his house."

-- Sheryl Harris, a white, 52-year-old Southern Baptist from Virginia who makes $28,000 a year and believes that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim, on why she refuses to vote for Mitt Romney

Certainly one person's opinion isn't representative of the thinking of an entire group of voters, and I still believe, as I've been saying for some time now, that for the most part Republicans would vote for a dog turd on the end of a stick rather than see the black Marxist in office for another four years. But the fact that it's possible for Romney to lose the support of somebody who should, in theory, be this much of a lock for the GOP -- part of their traditionally unthinking, unwavering base -- is extraordinarily revealing.

This race isn't over -- don't ever lose sight of that -- but I'm really beginning to think that Romney is utterly screwed.

Banner Ad Win of the Day

Friday, September 14, 2012

“You Live in a Tower That Soars To Heaven and Goes Unpunished by God"

I'm not gonna break my arm patting myself on the back here, but when I saw Blade Runner as a kid, I was mesmerized by it almost immediately. When I then went and read the reviews for it I was kind of shocked: I couldn't believe that critics were for the most part shrugging it off as pompous and boring when what I'd seen was something stunning, powerful and visionary. And I was only eleven. Yes, I was that kind of annoying child.

Anyway, I bring this up because when Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis was published back in 2003, I ate it up, reveling in its vicious, obsidian black -- and sharp -- sense of humor, its heartless vision of a desensitized New York City and an American culture on the verge of utter collapse, and its eerie tone which read more like prophecy than fiction. DeLillo has always been able to turn chaos into poetry and in a novel as compact as Cosmopolis -- clocking in at only 224 pages -- his often cryptic way with words never felt unwieldy. The irony was that while the main character of the story, 28-year-old Wall Street savante Eric Packer, spent most of the book's length stuck in an impenetrable traffic jam, the story itself barreled forward with astonishing momentum. It was melancholic, it was nihilistic, it was ferocious -- and it was a fucking great read.

But the critics pretty much savaged it.

Well, kind of like Blade Runner, times have changed -- and maybe they've caught up to Cosmopolis.

Salon: Rethinking "Cosmopolis"/9.14.12


Today's quickie column for the Daily Banter tackles the very important subject of Kate Middleton's breasts.

Here's the opening shot:

"A quick word or two about the topless pictures of Kate Middleton now circulating online and the royal family’s response to them. So what? First of all, the idea that a French magazine — a French magazine — would get all 'mon dieu!' and pretend that it’s a big deal that somebody is half-naked out in the open is practically a comedy bit. We’re the ones who are puritanical idiots; one of the now wealthiest and most famous women in the world sunning herself topless while on vacation in Provence shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all the Europeans. "

Read the Rest Here

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 9.14.12

Join the After Party

This week: Barack Obama is Sick of Your Shit; Chez on Huff Post Live; Freeze-framing Television is Hilarious; Bob Twitter-Debates John Heilemann; The Coolest Email in the World; The Dialogue of David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin; iPhone in the Washing Machine; Things About Bob and Chez that Might Surprise You; and much more.

Response Time

The new Daily Banter mailbag is up.

This week:

Who would be the dream matchup in 2016?

Do loads of flashy graphics enhance a TV news broadcast or just make it obnoxious?

What do you do if you have a sex dream about Mitt Romney?

Read the Answers Here

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 9.13.12

The crisis in North Africa; Mitt Romney and his buffoonish response to Libya and Cairo; Bluster and loudness do not equate to competence; The Vanity Fair article about Obama; The latest edition of Romney Fever; Stop posting photos of dead people; Norah versus Paul Ryan on Defense Cuts; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

Listen and subscribe for free on iTunes

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Listening Post

The mighty Amanda Palmer returned this week with her first record in four years, one that was produced thanks to a bank-breaking Kickstarter campaign. While I give her loads of credit for that very social media-centric effort I'm not sure how I feel about her decision to crowdsource a band for live gigs and basically pay them nothing. That kind of thing seems to be the new paradigm, but as somebody who -- aside from the stuff I write here which I'd do regardless of donations made to the site -- refuses to work without getting paid for it in some way, I think it's a bit of a low blow.

Regardless, as expected this is a damn terrific song from America's foremost punk cabaret queen.

Here's The Killing Type.

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"I ain't no freaking chimp. No more Dr Pepper for my household. God Bless y'all."

-- Comment written in response to the above photo, which was posted on Dr. Pepper's Facebook page

We are sincerely the dumbest country on the planet.

How the hell do people like this even turn on a computer to make a fucking comment?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Worse Comes To Worst

Today's piece for the Daily Banter expands on my comments here yesterday about Mitt Romney's reaction to the embassy attacks in Libya and Egypt and what it unequivocally says about him as a candidate and a person.

Here's an excerpt:

"I get that Romney's been in the race for some time and that he's screwed up almost the entire way, making gaffe upon gaffe and generally being a cringe-inducingly awful presidential hopeful for the Republicans -- but the last month or so has really seen him hit his stride when it comes to wrapping his hands around the figurative award for Worst Presidential Candidate Ever and raising that sucker high over his head while tears of joy stream down his cheeks. It was just three days ago that I wrote, right here, that the Romney campaign was in a state of utter turmoil, that its various lies, miscalculations and amateurish screw-ups had even the GOP faithful screaming for Romney's blue blood -- and that piece was actually written as a response to an earlier column that examined Mitt's shortcomings as he fumbled his way toward election day. But every time I think Romney's achieved a personal best when it comes to his willingness to say or do anything, no matter how ridiculous or divorced from reality, to put himself in the White House, he one-ups both himself and my expectations."

Read the Rest Here

Quote of the Day

"I applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative as I believe he’s one of the few people in power who is taking practical measures to fight obesity. We hear a lot about how we shouldn’t be 'nannying' people with laws about how they live their lives, but with such a massive problem as the obesity epidemic to deal with, we are way past the point where can trust people to make better choices. We have to help them make better choices."

-- Jamie Oliver on New York City's proposed ban of sodas over 16 ounces, which just passed

You know, I really used to like Jamie Oliver -- until he decided he should be my mother. While I understand a crackdown on certain products which can be deemed not simply bad for you but directly harmful to others: cigarettes, drugs, guns, etc. Bloomberg is taking his crusade to make the world a better place a bit too far. Banning a certain quantity of soda, allowing the state to determine how much is too much for your health to take, is ridiculous and draconian. It's one thing to take on crappy food in schools, where at the very least you have a captive audience with terrible impulse control, but even a 32 ounce soda won't balloon the average person, provided he or she isn't drinking one every day. And that's what it's really all about: moderation.

The notion that the government needs to step in and regulate how much of something an adult can have simply because there are those who indulge in too much -- the thought essentially being, "Well, we gave you freedom and some of you fucked it up so now everybody has to pay," -- is mildly offensive. I'm not an elementary school student who deserves to be punished simply because a couple of my classmates goofed off and now I need to be taught a sweeping object lesson for my own good. I don't drink a lot of soda and I honestly can't remember the last time I downed even 16-ounces of anything like it, but it hardly matters: I don't like the idea of the government restricting freedoms based on the lousy choices of the lowest-common-denominator because, as much as I hate the cliché, that's a very slippery slope. You can't legislate away all forms of bad behavior nor should you try.

And please don't make the argument that I don't need more than 16-ounces of soda. Of course I don't. There are a lot of things I don't need. But nine times out of ten it should be my decision and only my decision as to what I want.

Anyway, I've already mentioned this subject a couple of times...

"Food Fighter" (Originally Published, 4.13.11)

I'm always willing to cop to my somewhat retrogressive knee-jerk reactions, so here goes.

Last night I happened to catch a few minutes of the season premiere of chef Jamie Oliver's ABC reality series, Food Revolution. The basic premise of the show is that Jamie travels across America doing essentially the same thing he's become both famous and notorious for in his native Britain: trying to educate people about the dangers of the processed foods they're eating and drag them, kicking and screaming if necessary, toward a more healthy diet, all in the name of combating the dreaded "obesity epidemic." It should surprise no one that Jamie concentrates a substantial portion of his effort on what kids eat -- specifically what schools feed to kids. Obviously at face value this is an inarguably noble cause.

It should be said that I'm actually a big fan of Jamie Oliver's. I used to watch his BBC show The Naked Chef semi-religiously; I bought several of his cookbooks and I always admired not only his technique as a chef but his philosophy of teaching people to cook rather than simply training them to adhere to recipes and mimic styles. In other words, I'm always more than willing to give Jamie the benefit of the doubt. But something about the tone of last night's show, and maybe the show in general, really irked the hell out of me.

You'd be a fool to deny that we have a very serious problem with obesity -- particularly childhood obesity -- in this country. While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that affects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again; the fact is that you and I ultimately pay for the health issues all that weight brings with it, even if we're not the ones packing on the pounds (which statistics say we likely are at this point). We pay via higher health insurance premiums, higher prices from businesses forced to either accommodate the obese or work around the days off from work they're inevitably forced to take, and more strain on Medicare. According to one statistic, if the obesity rate in this country continues to climb, by 2018 it will cost America $344 billion annually. So, yeah, it's our collective best interest as a nation to slim the hell down.

So why did it bug me to watch Jamie Oliver condescendingly castigate the owner of an independent restaurant in Los Angeles for having the temerity to serve milkshakes that contain actual ice cream as opposed to, say, yogurt and fruit? That's exactly what happened at one point, with Jamie seeming exasperated at the notion that someone would want to serve a customer a milkshake if that's what he or she orders. "That's not a milkshake; that's a smoothie," the restaurant owner says. "But why does it have to be? It's a milkshake," Jamie responds. I get that Jamie Oliver is undertaking the herculean task of trying to get us to change the way we think about the food we eat on a level that's DNA-deep, but I couldn't help but think that the hapless guy trying to run the restaurant aimed at, oh I don't know, giving people what they ask for, was right and his inquisitor from across the pond was wrong. People should be encouraged to buy smoothies rather than milkshakes; each of us should know what one can do to our health versus the other. But if somebody wants a milkshake, that person should be able to get a freaking milkshake. Once again, while there's an argument to be made that I'll eventually pay for the ingestion of too many shakes one way or the other, I'm not sure I or anyone else should be denied something that's harmless in moderation just because somebody else can't control him or herself and treats fatty foods like cocaine.

Jamie Oliver's biggest push, though, is something he and his army of acolytes have been following up for the last 14 hours or so via the circulation of a petition on Twitter. Jamie's white whale of the night -- one which keeps jumping out of the water as the series progresses -- was of course school cafeterias, mostly because they've got a captive audience and have a monumental impact on how someone's diet develops throughout his or her life. So what do Jamie & Co. want? No "sugary milk" in school cafeterias. In other words, they want to see chocolate milk, strawberry milk, any milk besides just plain old milk banned. Again, I get the argument that little good comes from giving kids milk that pumps them full of sugar and empty calories, but is an outright ban on it really the way to go? What about the child who just likes chocolate milk and can actually handle drinking a carton of it without ballooning into a mocha-colored Violet Beauregarde? At what point do we draw the line? At what point do we decide to stop protecting some at the expense of the legitimate desires of others?

I'm all for healthier options at America's schools; that and food education are musts at this point in our evolution as a nation. But there's a difference between an option and a mandate. And while it makes sense for Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolutionaries to fire all guns at once with the understanding that it may be what's required to effect even a small amount of necessary change, there's still something decidedly draconian about pushing to reflexively relieve us of our freedom of choice when it comes to what we eat.

Now, who's up for an In-N-Out Double-Double?

Related: DXM: Feast of Burden/11.25.09

Listening Post

Aussie duo the Veronicas scored pretty big with Untouched a few years back -- a pop song that was infinitely better than it should have been.

Now they're back, and while their new single doesn't rise to such surprisingly lofty heights, it's not a bad effort.

Here's Lolita.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tough, Enough

I wanted to take a quick second and add something to the earlier post on yesterday's Libya attack, the column that ran at the Daily Banter.

While I'd love to see the United States and every other civilized nation on the planet not have to concern themselves with tempering their language or art to avoid offending the most strident believers in Islam, I think it's ludicrous for anybody to claim that the U.S. embassy in Cairo should've stood its ground and not attempted to defuse the very dangerous situation developing right outside its front gates yesterday. It's really easy for some America cheerleading, bumper-sticker sloganeering, Chuck Norris worshiping asshole to self-righteously proclaim from the comfort of an air conditioned office that as things were heating up the official statement from our embassy in Egypt should've been, "Fuck you, Muslims! We believe in free speech in America! USA! USA! Suck our truck nuts!" It's easy because it's not that person's rear-end that's a twitchy religious zealot's finger away from being blown to hell by an RPG. When you've got a furious mob breathing down your neck and screaming for your blood, you do everything you can to protect yourself and the lives of those around you. It's called diplomacy -- and it's what the staff inside that embassy was there to engage in. A strict and sanctimonious adherence to ideals is a luxury people on the ground in a foreign country can't always afford.

Those currently criticizing the initial reaction of the U.S. embassy in Cairo as protesters were threatening to breach the compound's walls -- the so-called "apologizing" for the mob's perceived religious offense -- should think about that before they decide to mouth off like a bunch of strutting jackasses.

Pill Popping

You know, back in my day you used to have to wait anxiously for your favorite actress to make the decision to do a nude scene in a movie before you got to see her boobs.

Now, thanks to the internet, you can be handed them on a silver platter.

Kids have it so easy these days.

Gawker: Alison Pill Accidentally Tweets Topless Photo/9.12.12

Attack of the Show

Man, Mitt Romney seriously can't catch a break. And by that I mean that he's a craven idiot who can't make a right decision to save his life. The surprising thing is only that everyone seems mercilessly willing to call him out on it.

By now you probably know that Romney not only jumped the gun and ran his mouth off about the embassy attacks before all the facts were in, getting things horribly wrong in a gutless attempt to use the violence overseas to paint the president as weak on foreign policy and an America apologist, but he's continued to repeat that false information over and over again despite being called out for being wrong. Like a suburban pussy boastfully hamming it up for a gang initiation, he's trying so hard to prove that he's got what it takes to be one of the tough-talking chicken hawks on the right that he'll literally say anything to endear himself to them, and all it really takes is to point at Obama and blame him for everything.

The beauty of this new colossal fuck-up is that it's so perfectly Romney -- it really shows off everything worth disliking about him and his campaign. You've got the flop-sweaty stench of desperation, the inadvertent flaunting of his complete lack of knowledge about anything related to foreign policy which leads to far more harm than good, the comical inverse correlation between how bad-ass he aims to appear and how bad-ass he actually is, and of course the blatant lying followed by the inevitable doubling and tripling-down on that lie.

I kid you not: Romney is the worst presidential candidate either party has nominated in forever.

But his involuntary condemnation of the president in an effort to score partisan political points just proves what I wrote a month ago about where we're at now as a nation.

Gods of War

Today's piece for the Daily Banter takes a look at the protest in Libya that killed an American ambassador and three other U.S. diplomats.

The excuse that angry, violent mobs used to attack our embassies in both Libya and Egypt? Somebody said something bad about Muhammad.

The gloves are off on this one.

Here's an excerpt:

"The Middle East/Northern Africa is one of the most bustling and thriving regions of the world — and it also happens to be one of the most culturally stunted, thanks in large part to a nearly absolute devotion to ancient superstition that’s been allowed to dictate, typically with a governmental mandate, every facet of the lives of those who live there. In many Middle Eastern countries, Islam is a meal that’s force-fed — and it’s a fact that’s held an otherwise vibrant point on the globe stuck in time while putting those outside its purview in the unenviable position of having to walk on eggshells and gush ridiculous platitudes in an effort to make sure the often barbaric beliefs that rule the lives of its people are never shown anything less than the utmost respect. Because if they aren’t, well, you get what we’re witnessing right now in Libya."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Churches are a band out of Glasgow that I get the impression you're going to be hearing quite a bit from in the coming months.

Here's their first single, Lies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Screenshot of the Day

My prayers are answered.

The ad server that determined that I'm the right person to target this kind of banner ad toward is seriously fucked.

Fuck You, NBC

I'm trying to figure out how NBC could possibly become more of a joke. I'm trying, but I can't say anything's coming to me.

In case all of its well-documented failures in the past weren't enough to convince you that the network, particularly its news department, is being run by monkeys, there's this: This morning, rather than go with the 9/11 moment of silence at 8:46AM, the Today show -- seriously the biggest punchline within the larger farce that is NBC -- decided to continue airing an interview with Kris Jenner in which she discussed the new season of the case of cultural Ebola that is Keeping Up with the Kardashians and her breast implants.

And no, I'm not making any of this up.

I wish I could come up with something clever or funny to say about choosing Kris Jenner over the 9/11 moment of silence, but really all I've got is -- fuck you, NBC. Just fuck you.

It's All Downhill from Here

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at the mess Mitt Romney is currently in.

Here's an excerpt:

"Obama certainly doesn’t have the race locked up, but it’s somewhat stunning the way he and his party have managed to grab the national imagination in a way that the Republicans used to but can’t seem to anymore — at least not with Romney as the 'heart and soul' of the GOP. So with public perception and its poll position taking a major hit, how is the Romney camp responding? By claiming that there’s nothing to see here and that, contrary to what you might have heard from the liberal media, everything’s going just fine for Romney. In fact, it’s Obama who’s in a state of panic right now. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Also, Joe Biden is a registered sex offender."

Read the Rest Here

11 Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts

Where were you on the morning of September 11th, 2001?

It's a question you've no doubt heard several times over the last eleven years, regardless of who you are or where you live. It's because the attacks of 9/11 stand as the defining moment of this American generation. I remember where I was all too well, and I remember the days and months that followed because it changed me incalculably, as it did so many people. The events of 9/11 became the focal point of the book I wrote, Dead Star Twilight, and, in a way that even now seems utterly surreal and ironic, may very well have wound up saving me from absolute self-destruction.

Six years ago, I wrote two pieces to mark the anniversary of the single most epochal event in modern American history. Looking back on them now, it's shocking to see how much has changed even since then -- in our country and in my own life. But as is tradition on this day, I'm reposting those pieces -- back to back.

Never forget?

It would be impossible to.

The good news is that more and more, while many of us still spend a part of this day looking back, we spend the rest of our time looking only forward.

Part I: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times.

I miss the days and months immediately following September 11th, 2001.

Although it may seem incomprehensible to make such a statement, it's a fact that I have no choice but to own up to. In spite of my belief in man's unparalleled ability to consistently make bad situations worse, I honestly never thought that I'd look back on the initial aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in history and quietly pine for that time. Years later, however -- as we mark the anniversary of 9/11 -- I realize with more certainty than ever before that the violence which claimed so many lives on that day, unwittingly and for a short time, created a city, country and world of which I could say that I was proud to be a part.

I admit that I had an often overwhelming front-row seat for the constant display of pain and perseverance by being in New York City following the attack. Covering the story from the area which would in short order become universally known as "Ground Zero," and from the Armory at 25th and Lexington -- the area where families of the victims were sent in an often futile and heartbreaking search for answers about their lost loved ones -- gave me a perspective not everyone else may have had. Still, I'm certain that you didn't need to wade knee-deep in the indescribable human suffering to see that an equally indescribable human spirit was also asserting itself -- and proving to be far more powerful than many believed possible.

In those first months after the attack, a wounded America found its heart and its soul.

We put aside the trivial concerns that divided us -- the inane distractions that casually connected us. We were shown in an excruciating way the true meaning and value of words which up until that point had only been used as disposable ad-campaign hyperbole: heroism, compassion, sacrifice, family, strength, unity -- even love. We saw constant displays of these because after all that we witnessed on that day -- after the hideous destruction caused by a few, and the selfless response of so many -- after the bar for human emotion was raised so high, it was almost as if it was our responsibilty to act in kind. To follow the example set by those who were no longer with us.

We were stripped down to our raw nerve, and in spite of the chaos and terror that caused it, what we found there was beautiful.

The world seemed to follow suit. On September 12th, 2001 -- the morning after the attack -- the headline of France's Le Monde newspaper read "We Are All Americans Now." The crew of a German ship manned the rails when it came alongside an American destroyer -- a show of respect and solidarity. Billions across the planet felt our anguish, believed in the dream that was America, and stood with us.

When we struck back with a mighty fury at those who killed our innocents, our indignation was indeed righteous. Our cause truly was just. We stood together as a country -- political affiliations and personal concerns be damned -- and understood with one mind that this was the way it had to be. We shouted with one voice, "You have unleashed this."

We felt lost, but were comforted in holding on to each other. We were both terrified and fearless. We were powerful in our vulnerability.

It's true that all things are relative, and if the current condition of our country and our world is the yardstick by which we measure the past, then maybe my effusion is somewhat prejudiced. Maybe the past has an unfair advantage. Maybe any past would.

I'm not sure that's the case, though.

Years ago on this day, the world changed -- not forever, as was first forecast, but for a short time.

It's that short time that continues to give me faith in us.

It was during that time, when things were at their worst -- that we were at our best.

Part II: The Revelation Will Be Televised

At 8:46:40am, 87 people are killed instantly.

They are the passengers and crew of American Airlines Flight 11, which departed out of Boston's Logan International Airport a little more than an hour ago -- at 7:59am to be exact -- only to be hijacked and turned into a flying bomb.

An unknown number of people in the North Tower of the World Trade Center likely die as well, at that same moment -- 8:46:40 -- as they would be unlucky enough to find themselves at the point of impact of this flying bomb.

At 8:46:40am, almost no one outside of the affected area has any idea that the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history has just come to fruition in New York City, and that it's only the beginning.

At that same moment, in a small two-bedroom condo fifteen-hundred miles away, I'm sitting up in bed, thinking about -- well, nothing really.

I stare quietly at the TV set in the corner of my parents' guest bedroom -- maybe not at it so much as through it -- while the Today show drones on and on. This is in no way an endorsement of that program, as anything on the television would provide the same focal-point of worthless distraction, and in fact has for most of the early morning and previous night. MTV2 has supplied me with enough colors and sounds to hold my attention and replace the sleep I've desperately desired, but which has refused to come.

I watched videos throughout the night, while taking in none of them. I listened to the occasional passing car or two outside my window slowly multiply until becoming the steady din of morning traffic. I saw the curtain over that same tiny window begin to glow as the sun came up.

I did anything but sleep.

Heroin addicts fresh out of rehab don't sleep. They can't sleep.

Where I am at 8:46:40am on the morning of September 11th, 2001, is the culmination of a ten-month-long spiral into oblivion. It began in Los Angeles, where I lived with my wife in an impressive two-story apartment on the edge of Beverly Hills. I worked as a television executive. I made six figures. I drove a fast car. I had a life few could complain about -- which made it all the more sadly ironic that in truth, I was frightened, insecure and more than likely clinically depressed. At some point, I began to feel my wife pulling away from me. I began to feel my life ripping apart, even though no one could see the straining in the fabric or the tearing at the seams.

I felt like I was being abanoned by her -- like I was being left behind. I felt completely alone.

So I found something to help me feel warm, comfortable and safe from harm.

What began as an occasional means of self-medication quickly turned into a constant hallucinatory nightmare of homemade pipes, scorched tin-foil, lies, cover-ups, broken promises and the terrified realization that I couldn't wake up, no matter how hard I tried. It drained me of every penny I had. It crushed my already tenuous relationship with my wife. It ate my soul alive.

Finally, at the beginning of August, 2001 -- realizing that I had almost nowhere left to turn and no one left to turn to -- I asked my wife to drive me to the airport, allowed one last painful kiss between us, and got on a plane and came home to Miami. When I arrived, my heartbroken parents picked up their damaged and dying son and drove him to a public rehab facility.

I spent four days in gut-wrenching detox, having my insides liquify and try to escape my body through any and every possible route -- like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

I spent the next month trying to recover from what I'd spent the past nine months doing to my body, mind and soul.

During that time, my wife moved out of our apartment -- leaving me without so much as a glance over her shoulder. During that time I gave up my job -- leaving it without so much as a glance over my shoulder.

The day after I left rehab, my father and I flew back to a haunted Los Angeles. We packed up what little was left of my life, put it into storage and drove my car back to Miami -- back to my parents' small two-bedroom condo.

We arrived five days ago.

I haven't moved since.

Five days ago marked the first day of the rest of my life -- the rest of my life doing absolutely nothing.

I don't eat. I don't sleep. I don't speak. I exist only within the tiny confines of this guest bedroom. I watch TV. I walk a few steps to the bathroom. I don't even think about what to do next. I don't even know where to begin. It's as if I'm nothing but empty space.

I'm not even aware of what Matt Lauer is talking about at 8:46:40am, because I'm not paying the least bit of attention. It's four minutes later, though, at 8:50am, that something breaks my reverie. I blink -- my brain finally seeming to activate as if cued by some mysterious force. Lauer says something about a very big story; he says something about an accident at the World Trade Center. The Today show goes to commercial. In a daze I pick up the remote and switch over one channel to ABC. That's when I see for the first time what happened at 8:46:40am, fifteen-hundred miles away.

I slowly get out of bed and stand -- my jaw going slack. I'm moving before I know it -- throwing open the bedroom door and storming out into the living room. There my mother is staring at the TV; her face is a mask of awe and horror. We begin talking about what's happened; my voice is dry and scratchy from not having been used in days. There's confusion and fascination -- a sense of amazement at what's surely a tragic accident. This thought is still firmly entrenched in my brain when a jet -- United Flight 175 out of Boston -- screams into the live picture for only the briefest moment before disappearing into the other tower. For a split-second there's nothing -- then a massive fireball erupts which splits the building in half in a blossom of orange and black, and a shower of debris.

My brain can't process the image fast enough, and my first thought is, "How could that kind of mistake happen twice?"

After only one more breath -- one more second to allow it all to sink in -- do I realize what's happened.

The next few hours are spent as one with millions across the nation and around the world. I watch in absolute horror as my country is attacked, as people are killed, and as indescribable chaos reigns. I pace maniacally back and forth in front of the TV. I feel like a caged animal. I want to do something. I feel utterly helpless and I want to do something. I want to work. I want to help. I want to get the hell out of here. I want to live. People are dying, and I'm wasting away here. I want to live. I want to make a difference somehow. My life isn't over.

And that's when it hits me.

I have no job. I have no wife. I have nothing.

I have nothing holding me back.

If I stay here, I'll be worse than dead. I'll watch the world fall apart on television. I'll watch the destruction and the sadness -- the heroism and heartbreak -- and I'll feel sorry for myself for my pathetic little losses while so many others try to fight their way back from losses greater than I can ever imagine. I'll sit quietly and helplessly by while an entire country mourns.

It's at that moment that I walk to the phone and place one call -- to a friend of mine who's now an executive producer for NBC in New York. I let him know that I'm going to be in New York and that I'll be available to work if he needs extra help, which I'm almost certain he will. Then I run back to the guest room and begin packing a suitcase.

I'll work if they'll let me. I'll hand out water and food if not. I'll do something. I have no idea where I'm going to stay or how I'll pay for anything, but I have to go. I have to see this for myself.

The next morning I leave before dawn, driving across the new America -- a land eerily quiet, where the shock of what's happened seems to show on the face of each person I meet. I drive through sun and rain, into the night -- occasionally scanning the empty skies with the realization that at no point in my life have I lived in a country where all public air travel was prohibited.

Years ago, I read a book from Clive Barker called The Great and Secret Show. In it, the forces of good and evil battle for supremacy as they always seem to do in fantasy novels. However, one moment in the story now comes back to me and seems to have an astonishing relevance. When the character of Jaffe finally masters the ability to control time and space -- what Barker calls "The Art" -- he grabs reality and literally tears a hole in it. At the moment this happens, Barker explains that all around the world people stop; they get out of their cars or they wake up or they generally freeze in their tracks. They do this because, no matter where they are, they know that something has changed. They know that something is wrong, even if they can't explain what it is.

This is what it feels like in the days following September 11th, 2001: Something is wrong. Everything is wrong.

A hole has been torn in the fabric of reality.

That hole -- the largest of three anyway -- is in New York City.

At some point, as I speed up the highway to this destination, my cell phone rings. I answer it and am told by the woman on the other end of the line that she's from NBC, and that my friend needs me to report to work as quickly as possible.

She explains where I need to go. She sets me up with a hotel room. She wishes me luck and says goodbye.

I pull over and close my eyes -- taking deep breaths.

I made a leap of faith, and found a place to land.

There isn't a writer or a poet alive who could properly describe or explain the next few months. I lived out of a hotel. I worked inhuman hours at the center of the most agonizing single event in American history. I held a woman in my arms as she realized her husband was dead -- and I cried with her because although my own marriage was over and I missed my wife terribly, I couldn't even begin to imagine her suffering -- and through that I was helped to heal. I was reborn as a person I didn't even recognize -- a stranger in a strange land, in a larger world which seemed alien to everyone. I shook my head at the utterly surreal and tragic series of events that led me to be at the one place I never expected or intended to be -- but through unbelievable circumstances became the one place I was supposed to be. I found strength in those who were stronger than I could ever have hoped to be. In the shadow of death, I learned to live again.

And in time I fell in love again -- with a girl named Jayne.

I met her through a friend of mine. He was supposed to be working at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th, but called in sick at the last minute.

But that's his story.

Listening Post

In the wake of 9/11, I spent about five months in a hotel in New York City while working for MSNBC and covering the aftermath of the attack. Besides media people like myself, the place was populated with a rotating cast of Red Cross workers and assorted construction staff. This song came up quite a bit on the jukebox in the hotel's bar, a place where I spent a decent portion of my time trying to recover from what I dealt with day and and day out. It renewed my sense of fight each time I heard it -- and it still has the same effect on me eleven years later.

Here's U2's New York.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Listening Post

New music from Australia's Tame Impala -- and it's everything I could've hoped for.

Here's Elephant (brilliantly set to images from Dumbo).

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 9.7.12

Join the After Party

This week: Republicans Cry About Lack of Democratic ‘Civility’; Bob Twitter-Debates John Cusack; Staying Home on Election Day is Not an Option; Jonathan Turley’s Underpants Gnome Strategy for Change; Drew Peterson Found Guilty; Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson; Sex Toy Statistics; Surfer Explains the Weather to Good Day LA; and much more.

Speaking Part

Just little heads-up to any interested parties out there. I'll be doing a segment this afternoon over at HuffPost Live -- the subject, partially, is the piece I wrote a few weeks back taking aim at the claim that Paul Ryan has "Gen X sensibilities" and that they may help him reach that particular demographic. My point was that while Ryan may be many things -- and yes, he's my age -- to label him specifically as "Gen X" is a little ridiculous.

Anyway, I'll be on live, debating this topic, no doubt with a couple of other people who will shout at me. Who the hell knows. Never been on HuffPost Live before.

Feel free to watch if the mood strikes you. It airs around 5:45pm ET.

Listening Post

You all know how I feel about Mimi Page. I've raved about her stuff before and, to her credit, she's been releasing new, terrific songs, EPs and full-length records pretty consistently over the past couple of years.

From her latest album, Breathe Me In, which goddammit you should own by now, here's the brand new video for Black Valentine.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 9.6.12

The Democratic Convention; The Democrats Find Their Backbone; Romney’s Forgettable Speech and Eastwood’s Performance Art; Romney’s Tinfoil and Duct Tape Solution; Bill Clinton is a Political Master; Good News on Jobs and the NASDAQ; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

Listen and subscribe for free on iTunes

Download the mp3 (55 minutes, 23mb)

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pinky Swear

Today's piece for the Daily Banter takes a look at the latest cause for outrage among those who freak out every time somebody says something offensive, particularly those among that group looking to score political points.

Here's the opening shot:

"So you’re never going to believe this, but Jason Biggs, the kid who made himself famous by pretending to fuck a pie, apparently has a really crude sense of humor and a filthy mouth to go with it. In case you haven’t yet seen the mushroom cloud off in the distance to your right or felt the shockwave of indignation, let me help you out: The usual suspects among the conservative media are losing their minds over a couple of really crass comments Biggs made about Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and Paul Ryan’s wife, Janna, during last week’s Republican National Convention. The offending cracks were offered via Twitter, as has become tradition in our culture, and were as follows..."

Read the Rest Here

Civility War

Since we're kind of joined at the hip through Banter and the podcast -- I'm the Oscar Madison to his Felix Unger -- I try not to repeat too much from Cesca here at my own little corner of the internet. But his take on the laughable Republican complaints of incivility coming from the Democratic National Convention is pretty terrific.

"You know who shouldn’t be lecturing the Democrats about civility? The people who gave us swift-boating, the Southern Strategy, the outing of Valerie Plame, Birthers, Reverend Wright videos around the clock, “Obama pals around with domestic terrorists,” the exploitation of 9/11, comparing a triple amputee Vietnam veteran to Saddam Hussein, the booing of a gay soldier, and the party that sported Purple Heart band-aids at the 2004 convention to mock another decorated Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, who was wounded in combat. And no one on the floor of the Democratic convention hurled peanuts at an African American camerawomen, shouting, 'This is how we feed the animals.' ...

But I suppose I’m not being civil by pointing out Ryan’s obvious lack of integrity, say nothing of the top of the ticket whose home planet eradicated integrity centuries ago while purging itself of emotions and authenticity during the final epoch of the Alpha Centauri Interstellar Conundrum."

Yeah, that last line -- that's what did it for me.

Listening Post

To her credit, Santigold has managed to live up to the expectations she inadvertently created for herself with her excellent 2008 debut album.

From her latest record, here's The Keepers.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"Does Paul Ryan even know what a mountain looks like? Is Paul Ryan even a congressman? Paul Ryan is now the guy from your high school who said he ran a 4.5 40 but didn't want to go out for the team because he pulled his hammy. Paul Ryan is the guy from your work who told you he played D1 ball but seems suspiciously short and out of shape. Paul Ryan is the guy at the bar who keeps telling you he could "probably" beat Usain Bolt in a race, "if I was in better shape." Paul Ryan's ex-girlfriend looked like a cross between Lindsay Lohan and Katherine Heigel. Paul Ryan was at the very first Train show. Paul Ryan once took on three guys in a fight and won. Paul Ryan's dad has a go-kart track in his attic but he locks it when other kids come over because he doesn't want to get sued."

-- Gawker's Max Read on Paul Ryan's claim that he's made "close to 40 climbs" of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks

Here's a fun little game: Take that now officially done-to-death "Chuck Norris Facts" meme and swap out Norris's name for Paul Ryan's.

For example:

"If you can see Paul Ryan, he can see you. If you can't see Paul Ryan you may be only seconds away from death."

"Once a cobra bit Paul Ryan's leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died."

"Paul Ryan can slam revolving doors."

"Superman owns a pair of Paul Ryan pajamas."

"Paul Ryan has to maintain a concealed weapon license in all 50 states in order to legally wear pants."

"Paul Ryan once visited the Virgin Islands. They are now The Islands."

"Death once had a near-Paul Ryan experience."

"Paul Ryan sleeps with a night light. Not because Paul Ryan is afraid of the dark, but the dark is afraid of Paul Ryan."

Banal Sex

And now, let's play multiple choice smart-ass responses, shall we?

Gawker: Lena Dunham Is Dating a Guy from That Band Fun./9.5.12

1. Look at them. If they get married it'll be declared an official holiday in Williamsburg.

2. Their baby will be like an insufferably dull version of the Antichrist -- with the 666 on his head clearly visible thanks to the shaved side of his asymmetrical haircut.

3. Wait, hasn't he seen what she looks like naked?

4. It's about time there was something funny in Lena Dunham.

Black Marketing

I've said this before but it bears repeating: While the modern GOP enables racist thinking and willfully exploits racism among its ranks to its political advantage, it isn't necessarily racist as an organization. Here's the thing, though: Black Americans have an important role to play in the Republican narrative these days, assuming they're willing. That role is to provide absolution for the sins of a past steeped in racist rhetoric and action and a present in which safe haven is regularly provided for bigots and their repugnant views.

And how does a black man or woman do that, how does he or she adhere to the GOP's strict code of conduct? Simple -- by rarely mentioning that he or she actually is black, never bringing up the subject of racism and under no circumstances blaming white suppression for his or her problems or otherwise making any white person feel uncomfortable. This is what the GOP means when it says it's open to all races and ethnicities. Sure it is, as long as the people representing those races or ethnicities understand and accept who's in charge.

I bring this up because Mitt Romney, the Whitest Man in America, has put together what he's calling a "Black Leadership Council," presumably to help him reach out to a community he's currently polling zero with in contrast to Barack Obama. The leaders of that advisory board: Reps. Tim Scott and -- wait for it -- Allen West. Basically, the only two black guys in government Romney could find who support him -- with one, the latter, being a raving sociopath who manages to regularly disgust and offend as many white people as he does black.

The always-great Charles Pierce over at Esquire published a quick bit on this and it's my favorite thing of the day for three reasons: the fact that he refers to the average Romney supporter as looking like "a lump of mozzarella," his brilliant reference to a classic Bill Cosby album in the title, and his use of Barbara Billingsley in Airplane! to illustrate what Romney's outreach is probably going to look like.

Quote of the Day

"There's more in the message here with the presence of the camera, the obvious come hither posture and the aroused breasts and all the sexual components. The statue is sending a message to children."

-- Phillip Cosby, head of the American Family Association chapter covering Overland Park, Kansas, which is attempting to have that city's top officials indicted over their decision to allow an art exhibit by Chinese sculptors which features a statue of a nude woman to be displayed publicly

The statue in question is pictured at left. And yes, you read that right: The AFA wants to have city officials indicted on criminal charges, saying that by authorizing the exhibit, they're encouraging sexting among kids.

I've gone back and read the above quote several times now and I honestly chuckle a little out loud each time, particularly when I get to the words "aroused breasts." First of all, I get the feeling that this statue is pretty much the only place a guy like Phillip Cosby has seen aroused breasts in years, and second -- how utterly fucking terrified of sex are conservatives?

Hope Springs Eternal

My column at the Daily Banter today takes a look at last night's kick-off of the Democratic National Convention and how it showed America something I'm not sure anyone's seen in recent memory: a Democratic party with fire, ferocity and backbone, and one that for the first time in a very long time is able to make its vision for America look like destiny.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’d like to be insouciant and claim that last night’s kick-off of the Democratic National Convention — which I expected to be another exercise in stiff and scripted political Kabuki and potential Democratic flailing, the kind of thing not likely to penetrate the barbed-wire defenses made of pure hostility and cynicism wrapped tightly around my cold heart — wasn’t really anything all that special. I’d like to — but I can’t. The reality is that the Democrats, love their politics or hate them, hit it pretty well out of the park over and over again, culminating in what honestly had to be the very best speech I’ve heard at either convention so far: Michelle Obama’s stunning, eloquent, passionate and personal keynote address. The evening was so impressive, particularly the First Lady’s part in it, that I admit to being somewhat taken aback at what I was witnessing..."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

I haven't really been into Muse since 2006's Black Holes and Revelations. It was a decent album -- nowhere near as brilliant as Absolution but a hell of a lot less insufferable than pretty much everything that's come after it. I blame the succubine influence of Kate Hudson, who, according to Almost Famous, was supposed to improve a band's music, not make it worse.

Anyway, I have to admit that the new Muse single, if nothing else, breaks their recent trend of releasing thoroughly irritating -- or, in the case of their song for the London Olympics, unimaginably awful -- music.

Here's the brand new video for Madness.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I was openly mocked by the patrons, and my wife was begging to leave as she heard the wait staff and management gasp in horror that they actually had to serve me."

-- Glenn Beck, complaining about the treatment he received from average New Yorkers during a trip to New York City over the holiday weekend

Beck goes on to say that New York has become a "vile and hateful" place, which is supposedly what led him to move out of the city.

I'm beaming like a proud papa right now. As usual, New York City proves itself to be not only a bastion of intellectualism and enlightenment but one with exceptional taste and zero tolerance for stupidity.

By the way, when Beck left New York last year he moved to Dallas.

I'm just gonna leave that right there.

Q & A

Just a heads-up: Beginning this week, I'll be curating the Daily Banter mailbag. What this means is that if you've got a question that involves politics, the media, pop culture, music, or if you're just looking for advice on the best way to stave off an orgasm during sex -- two words: Nancy Grace -- send it my way. Nothing is off limits -- well, almost nothing. My hope as the new editor is to take the mailbag segment of the Banter and make it both informative and, occasionally, somewhat distasteful, with my ultimate goal being to make Cesca really, really uncomfortable. So have at it, folks. Do your worst.

You can e-mail me at, contact me through Facebook or Twitter DM, or just leave a comment here at the site that specifies that it's for the mailbag.

Thanks in advance for playing.

Campaign and Suffering

Today's column for the Daily Banter lends a sympathetic ear to the plight of the nation's political press corps, a group of people who, dog-gonnit, just aren't having any fun these days.

Here's the opening shot:

"Several years ago, Rolling Stone politics-and-finances writer and national treasure Matt Taibbi, who at the time was a columnist for the New York Press, put together a list of the men and women he dubbed the biggest hacks in the world of political journalism. He then bracketed them, tallied up their various sins, and pitted them against each other until only one winner — one talentless creature above all others — remained. He called the competition 'Wimbelhack,' and it’s a tradition that’s been carried on, in a slightly more direct “countdown” fashion, by Salon‘s Alex Pareene. While it’s true that a quality hack’s worthlessness is self-evident and his or her work will be all the proof anybody needs that there’s no reason to give an ounce of credibility to the person’s thoughts or supposed insights, it’s always nice to see an outsider taking on the yeoman’s task of exposing in detail the intellectual bankruptcy of the worst offenders in the national press corps. This morning,, without even meaning to, has kind of done just that..."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Kitten are a band out of L.A. -- for those of you in town, they've got a residency all month at the Bootleg in Echo Park -- and they're pretty damn cool.

From their new record, this is Cut It Out.