Monday, April 30, 2007
The bad-boy of radio on Letterman in 1984. Here's Howard before he adopted his stylist and grew his hair into an absurd mane to obscure his giant schnoz. It's hard to take him seriously with a minor Jew-fro, ill-fitting leather pants and brown boots. But then I'm convinced the reason I've always liked his show had something to do with an inability to take him seriously.
Stern has always been a nice Jewish boy playing it tough. Unlike Imus, who was a cokehead shit-tard playing mean. It can all be summed up in the Vonnegut quote I posted a couple of weeks back: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
My only corollary: It helps if people know you're pretending.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Is it just me, or is there something a little squicky about the NFL draft? Just read this NFL Prospect Profile on Darrelle Revis, the Jets top pick.
I can't say I feel horrible for multimillionaire superstar athletes [that means you, Lance Briggs], but considering the way these guys get picked and traded with no choice in the matter (unless you're a Manning), and considering how much money the NFL makes in the process of crippling them for life (with minimal pensions afterward), there's something kinda creepy about the draft.
Read on about Revis:
Positives: Has a muscular physique with a defined upper body, good trapezoid and pectoral development, tight waist and hips, good bubble, strong thighs, knotted calves and minimal body fat … Has exceptional body control and adequate open field quickness … Has exceptional body control on his leaps, getting good elevation … His hands appear soft and natural, as he can pluck the ball outside of his frame …
Negatives: Can turn and run well, but will get a little sloppy and erect in his backpedal … Lacks the blazing speed to stay tight on the receiver in deep routes, but has a good burst to close and recover (likes to play tight, as he realizes he doesn't have the second gear needed when giving up a big cushion) … Has soft hands, but will sometimes try to run with the ball on punt returns before securing it, resulting in costly fumbles ...
On the other hand, Revis sounds like a pretty good guy. My favorite tidbit:
Tannebaum also said he and Mangini both believe how people treat waiters or waitresses or, in this case, car service drivers, gives the real measure of the person. And, as it so happens, the driver who took Revis on his visit next picked up Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum asked the driver what he thought of Revis and the driver raved about what a nice guy Revis was.
So now we know: well-developed pecs, soft hands, AND nice to limo drivers. Go Jets!
Seems I've missed out on a lot, living north of the Mason-Dixon line all these years. Because apparently this is a true story, dated April 23, 2007:
ASHBURN, Georgia (CNN) -- Students of Turner County High School started what they hope will become a new tradition: Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday.
In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.
Until this year, Turner County High School also apparently had two homecoming queens (black and white). (What did Asian kids do? Not live in Turner County?)
Of course, the white prom was still held this year.
I don't really really have anything intelligent to say about this. Just that yes, it's also 2007 in Turner County, Georgia. And in the wake of Don Imus and company, I'd say there's a lot more work to do in this country.
(On a side note, I love that CNN.com now provides us with helpful bullet points to explain the "highlights" of a story. Just in case you can't be bothered to, I don't know, read the whole thing...)
• Students of Turner County High School voted to have school-sponsored prom
• In the past, parents have organized private, segregated dances
• Principal Chad Stone says the official prom will become a yearly event
• Senior Class President James Hall led the movement for the integrated prom
And on another side note, please explain to me those stretch Hummers. Have high school kids today no shame? How do those things make a right turn without taking out the sidewalk?
Update: Link Fixed
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Saw this in today's NY Post:
April 26, 2007 -- The marijuana being sold across the country is more potent than ever, government drug experts said yesterday.
Average levels of THC, the active ingredient in pot, rose from 7 percent in 2003 to 8.5 percent in 2006, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
THC levels have risen steadily from 3.5 percent in 1988, which could explain a growing number of medical emergencies involving the drug, the feds said.
Now that's what I call progress!
And what exactly are the "growing number of medical emergencies involving the drug"? I never heard of anyone going to the hospital for eating an entire chocolate cake at 2AM.
By the way, the Post's headline for this blurb was "It's Not Your Father's Pot" - pathetic, if you ask me.
If only I could get a job writing headlines at the Post!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
But if you're one of those folks allergic to long, though well-written articles, check out the documentary version of it tomorrow on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. Set your DVR. I'm no tree-hugging liberal pantywaist. But neither is anyone who truly listens to and adopts Friedman's philosophy.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
The more I learn about the world, the more I'm convinced religion is the cause of much of our problems. Not only does it divide us, but it forces us to behave in irrational ways.
I've been reading a lot of noted atheist Sam Harris' work recently, and thought I'd share a good bit from his Letter to a Christian Nation. It's the kind of book no Christian could ever take to heart or even take seriously. Harris' conclusions can't help but sound condescending, and though it's ostensibly written for a Christian audience, it reads more like ammunition for atheists. But like everything Harris writes, it is a serious piece of thinking.
If you haven't had the patience to read through his brilliant and wonderfully civil discussion with Andrew Sullivan, check out this mismatched debate with Pastor Rick Warren that ran in Newsweek earlier this month. Or his simple debunking of the logic behind Pascal's wager. (Even better, check out www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com, which explores God's peculiar spurning of amputees who pray for Him to regenerate their lost limbs.)
In this excerpt from Letter to a Christian Nation, Harris deals with the age-old problem of theodicy (how can God be both omniscient and omnipotent and not be responsible for human suffering) to arrive at the sensible notion the biblical God is fictional:
If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. You may now be tempted to execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by human standards of morality. But we have seen that human standards of morality are precisely what you use to establish God's goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern Himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which He is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that.
There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical God is a fiction, like Zeus and the thousands of other dead gods whom most sane human beings now ignore. Can you prove that Zeus does not exist? Of course not. And yet, just imagine if we lived in a society where people spent tens of billions of dollars of their personal income each year propitiating the gods of Mount Olympus, where the government spent billions more in tax dollars to support institutions devoted to these gods, where untold billions more in tax subsidies were given to pagan temples, where elected officials did their best to impede medical research out of deference to The Illiad and The Odyssey, and where every debate about public policy was subverted to the whims of ancient authors who wrote well, but who didn't know enough about the nature of reality to keep their excrement out of their food. This would be a horrific misappropriation of our material, moral, and intellectual resources. And yet that is exactly the society we are living in.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I know high-minded, spiritual human beings should not hate other human beings. But when I look at this psychopathic killer and listen to his mumbly, paranoid ramblings, I hate him. I hate his obvious mental illness. I hate whatever evil drove him to lash out at phantom persecutors. I hate his blank expression. I hate his guts.
I also hate the incessant moralizing of media pundits. I hate those who blame the victims for not attacking their armed attacker. And those who advocate arming students in their classrooms. I hate those who defend some absurd right for anyone to obtain a handgun with only a cursory background check or none at all.
Mostly, I hate that we feel this need to blame someone, because the person most responsible didn't first put himself out of all of our misery.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Imus in the Morning was a comedy show. Often, it was racist comedy -- not intented to offend because they are just being politically incorrect and ironic and ha-ha nappy-headed ho-ho. But wrinkled old white men in cowboy hats shouldn’t be instructing minorities on how to make distinctions.
I really don't like Imus, probably because as a long-time Howard Stern listener, I was conditioned to hate him. In his defense, I suppose there is at least a shade of difference between him and Mel Gibson, who is a certified anti-Semite. Or Michael Richards, who used racial slurs as last-resort daggers to defend his shitty stand-up act against a heckler.
Imus trades in the tradition of childish shock comedy -- he might even have invented it for radio. It can be funny to say something outrageous when everyone knows you're just making a joke. This litany of racial insults -- including the crack at Gwen Iffil -- are all taken out of context, even if the context doesn’t excuse him. He’s the one who told Mike Wallace he hired Bernard McGuirk to “tell ni**er jokes.” He obviously encourages or at least endorses the bigotry that infiltrates much of the insult humor the show is known for.
I suppose there’s a good chance Imus harbors racist notions, though at least he's not speaking with clear malice or intent to influence people. Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilly are far more barbaric and sly in their overt intentions to subvert dignified, rational discourse in this country.
And just about all morning drive-time radio is populated by waterhead shit-tards like JV and Elvis on 92.3 FM who not only make the world dumber with every word extruded from their empty skulls, but probably make other, yet-discovered worlds dumber as well.
Howard Stern behaves in insulting and demeaning ways all the time. But more often than not, he is the butt of his own jokes, playing up his insecurities and neuroses. He's given the ethnicity-card-carrier's dispensation to make fun of Jews because he is Jewish. And Robin Quivers provides him with some leeway to poke fun at blacks and women. Sure, the comedy is coarse and silly. But nobody mistakes Howard for some high-minded journalist.
Imus’ comedic persona clashes with his role as a serious interviewer of politicians and celebrity journalists. There’s something to be said about freedom of speech and the freedom to be insulting and the freedom to be an asshole. But there’s also something to be said of the value CBS Radio and NBC place on their air time. Nobody said you have a right to be an asshole in front of millions of people and supported by giant corporations.
As always, it’s money that decided his fate. Not the hurt of the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team. Not the ravings of slick hate-mongers like Al Sharpton and corporate extortionists like Jesse Jackson.
But maybe all this hysteria (itself a money-maker) worked in the end. The free market spoke.
Kurt Vonnegut, from whom I stole this blog's epitaph, died yesterday at 84 years old. So it goes.
It was Kurt Vonnegut, tempered with George Carlin, who helped me forge my personal humanist philosophy of cynical idealism: Basically, I expect the worst in people, but secretly hope for the best. He's the primary reason I'm a writer today and also the reason I will never be a good one.
His words say far more than mine ever could.
- We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
- Anyone who cannot understand how useful a religion based on lies can be will not understand this book either.
- I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
- Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
- Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.
- The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.
- I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
- Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!
- Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
- Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
- There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
- Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
- A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
- History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.
- If God were alive today, he would have to be an atheist, because the excrement has hit the air-conditioning big time, big time.
- All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.
- It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.
- The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.
- There are plenty of good reasons for fighting," I said, "but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side.
- If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have nerve enough to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.
- All male writers, incidentally, no matter how broke or otherwise objectionable, have pretty wives. Somebody should look into this.
- Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
- If there is a God, he sure hates people. That’s all I can say.
- We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.
- You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit.
- And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.
- Goodbye, cruel world! Auf wiedersehen?
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Since it's premiere in 1999, "The Sopranos" has earned deserved acclaim for its unique perspective on suburban mob life, fleshed out with painstaking character development, iconoclastic plotting against trite television norms, stellar acting from its leads and a subversive, sick humor. It set a new standard for what TV could do.
The show has shone an often uncomfortable light on New Jersey — where the fiction illuminates truths about crime, corruption and culture many people would rather ignore.
But it's not about New Jersey. Or the mafia, even. David Chase has created a show about the deep dysfunction of some American families, in which people talk to each other but seldom communicate.
Whether it's Tony and Carmela's unspoken pacts or the machinations of Tony's other, more violent family, "The Sopranos" reveals the hollow dreaminess of so many American dreams.
But after all the years and all the corpses, the world of Tony Soprano has little more insight to offer. Plots have spun in place while themes have been revisited so often the producers might as well write them on planks of wood and smack us all over the heads. I'm curious what will happen to these characters in the end, but it's almost irrelevant.
All good things must end, and "The Sopranos" time has come. I'm convinced even the best-written series should bow out before a whiff of staleness enters the writers room. But worse than a prolonged demise is a premature one. With any luck, NBC's "Friday Night Lights" will survive to see next fall.
Depicting a season in the life of a Texas high school town that worships football above all else, "Friday Night Lights" shuns most television cliches. It's heartbreaking, honest and inspiring. There are characters to puzzle over, to hate and to root for. It's all that's great and horrible about sports, family and high school in America. And it's all that television should aspire to be, though not forever.
Thanks to DVDs, some of the best television — much of it on HBO — has found a degree of immortality. I've recently caught up with the first three seasons of "The Wire," and I've never seen a more intricate depiction of a city — up close, pock-marked, smelly with the institutional diseases that infect the games played by politicians, police, drug dealers, unions and everyone else. Series creator David Simon says the coming fifth season will be the last one — just enough time to explore every aspect of his novelistic, operatic, but reality- grounded world.
David Milch's "Deadwood" left HBO with only slim hope for a promised finale, but first provided the world's most dingy and delightful trek through the Old West, with profanity festooning the purple dialogue like some wicked rhapsody for rapscallions.
And Alan Ball's "Six Feet Under," which just completed its first syndicated run on Bravo, found such wonderful life exploring death, carving honest pathos out of soapy storylines. Like "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under" lagged some during it's five-year HBO run which ended last year. But the finale left me with caskets of pain and joy and hope and sadness. I can only hope David Chase concludes his opus with a fraction of the brilliance and dignity Ball accomplished. But it is time.
Rest in peace, "Sopranos." Sometimes even the great ones need to get whacked.
Friday, April 06, 2007
The best part is where he endorses Ryan Seacrest as his successor:
“He’s the classic generalist,” Mr. King said, his eyes peering through rectangular lenses that evoke flat-panel televisions. “The only thing I don’t know, and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, is how versed he is in politics, world affairs. Does he read the paper? Is he interested in Iraq? Because if he is, he’s going to be very good.”
Uh-huh. Notice he's "gotten to know him pretty well'' but these subjects have never come up. I guess Carson Daly is too much of an intellectual for the gig.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I know it serves little purpose to you, the choir of mostly intelligent, logical humans with a conscience. Why pay any attention to the Bill O'Reillys of the world? Their game is weak, their opinions irrelevant, their facts distortions or outright lies. But The Falafel King still has a huge audience. And until demagogues like O'Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh implode under their own flaccid bombast, it's important to note their transgressions.
Here we have Mr. Bill "interviewing" a retired U.S. Army colonel with 29 years' service to her country. Notice how he speaks over her points and tries to pin her into answering a falsely constructed yes-no question. And the best part -- be sure to wait for it -- is when he goes on to attack her patriotism, eventually cutting her mic when she dares to throw it back in his face.
If you're impatient, you can read a recap by News Hound here. Or if you just want to see Snoop Dogg implore Mr. O'Reilly to perform felatio on him, then check out this clip from Dutch TV.
Apparently O'Reilly never got the memo -- or the series of memos -- describing how Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and George Bush discarded the Geneva Conventions and authorized torture of detainees. In O'Reilly's blinkered world, pointing out when our government behaves in ways antithetical to American ideals is...anti-American.
Ah, the no-spin zone. Makes me dizzy.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Why do I have to look at him when I sign on to my Yahoo email account (his image pops up about once every 12 visits to the sign-in page)? Does this person think he is cool? Does he think he is Sawyer from "Lost"? Is that a cobra on his shirt? Does that mean he plays with GI Joes? Is this type of pose typical of what the greasy-haired 30-year-old hipster male models from Santa Monica are striking these days? And is he flashing a tough-guy grimmace, or is he making a kissy-face?
I just have so many questions about this guy. But I suppose my most pressing concern revolves around what I should call him. Hmmm....
Donnie? Corkie? Buddy? It's gotta end with an "ee" sound, right? Or how about Maurice? Travis? Blaine? Anyone got something better? This has become a very important mission for me today.
First check out some of her fine work in the Toronto Sun. And then please take the time to read this lovely little bio of the newest Fox "News" mouth-breather (honestly, it might be one of the most fascinating and deserved hatchet jobs I've ever read). I don't want to pick on the young lady too much, though. Only something truly evil in her childhood could account for the clinically demented adult she has become.