Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We don't need no stinkin' details!

Thematically, it was hard to disagree with much of Bush's State of the Union speech, particularly in the opening moments. Isolationism has never been the answer, particularly now. Argue with his administration's execution, but don't dispute the goal.

His call for sacrifice would have been much better served with a flat-out demand for a hearty increase in veterans' (past and present) benefits. That involves better troop pay, along with improved medical coverage for those who've fought overseas. At minimum. He could easily make it happen.

Overall, Bush offered lots of cloudy idealism stuck in shifting realities. Specifics, per usual with this president, were lacking. He said the domestic spying program has thwarted terrorist attacks. Why not illustrate? I might be more disposed to support the "terrorism surveillance initiative" if I knew the results.

There were lots of initiatives bandied about. Got any idea what the American Competitive Initiative proposes, or what the Helping America's Youth Initative has achieved? But initiative is a positive word; indeed, much of Bush's speech seemed cribbed from a Tony Robbins seminar. Meanwhile, his talk of "activist judges redefining marriage" seemed cribbed from Republican Party campaign literature.

I like the call for alternative energies, but his goal was shortsighted and will likely prove underfunded. Naively, I hoped for some sort of "Nixon goes to China" moment, but Bush refuses to surprise. His acknowledgement of Beltway corruption was lacking, as well.

Surprisingly, I'll give him points on delivery. For a president with approval ratings hovering around 40 percent, he displayed plenty of conviction. Misguided, perhaps, but it's equally misguided to dismiss him as a caricature, regardless of how you rate his job performance.

As for the opposition ... would you buy a car from the Virginia governor who delivered the Democratic response? They should've given Tennessee senatorial candidate Harold Ford Jr. a well-deserved moment in the spotlight, but that would've been politically savvy. "There's a better way," and yours ain't it!

Lonesome Rhodes strikes again!

If the name in the title is unfamiliar, you should rent Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd," starring a young Andy Griffith as a slick, ruthless radio personality from Arkansas. There's been no better portrait of Bill Clinton, despite the fact it was made when our former president was still a fat little boy.

Now the great equivacator has come out against satire, blasting a Danish cartoon that targets radical Islamists: "None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions ... there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark ... these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam."

Hey, Lonesome, it ain't stereotype when it's true. You know, like that old stereotype about racist and illiterate Southerners? Plenty of satire about that, and with good reason. Such attitudes deserved, at the very least, lampooning.

If Clinton were being consistent (which would be a first), he'd have to join the chorus that called for the head of Salman Rushdie. Or is he just offended by satire in cartoon form? Certainly he doesn't agree with this Jordanian newspaper, which wrote:

"Nobody has the right to ask us to respect "freedom of expression" when the
matter concerns our Prophet and the Prophet of all humanity, and the essence of
our religious belief. They cannot cry "democracy and human rights" when the
matters concerns us, us alone, while they ignore democracy and human rights when someone talks about the Jews, their religion and beliefs, or what is called the Holocaust."

I'll let ideological soulmate Andrew Sullivan handle this one: "Er, yes, we do have a right to ask Muslims in the West to respect freedom of expression, especially about religion. It's called Western civilization. Maybe not in Jordan. But in the free world, blasphemy is not a crime. In the free world, you are also free to be an anti-Semite."

Hell, he's on a roll. As for our 42nd president: "How many times has Clinton decried Islamist intolerance of Jews, gays, women and freedom of speech? Has he raised his voice to condemn the hanging of gay teenagers in Iran? Not that I've noticed."

Looking for comedy in an American theater

I had hopes that Albert Brooks' latest might fulfill my quest, but, despite what the guy two rows in front of me thought (no film deserves 50 guffaws), I remain desperate. Almost willing myself to enjoy it, I ended up falling asleep, awakened only by the lone guffawer.

If you've seen "Real Life," "Lost in America" and, to a lesser extent, "Defending Your Life," you know that Brooks owns one of comedy's more fertile and original comic minds. If you saw "The Muse," and none of his early work, you probably assume he's a humorless hack. And the casting of Andie McDowell and Sharon Stone was a particularly cruel joke.

But I was intrigued by the concept of "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," and, just a few days after seeing "Match Point," I allowed myself to believe again in second acts. That Brooks' movie was dropped by its original distributor, Sony Pictures --- scared off by the title --- made me even more curious.

Unfortunately, "Looking for Comedy" is about as edgy as your typical "Saturday Night Live" skit (although there are some laughs in Brooks' flick). To make a movie about laughter in the Muslim world requires a willingness to offend. Here, there's not even one mention of "jihad." And that's a funny word.

(No Bush jokes, either. Talk about missed opportunities).

Not that the movie is even about Muslims. Much of it takes place in India; Brooks reasons it would've been too dangerous to film in, say, Saudi Arabia. Might as well have been looking for comedy in the Amazon.

All that aside, it's sad to view the greats past their prime. Pardon the sports analogy, but it's like watching Dale Murphy wrapping up his career in a Colorado Rockies uniform. I wished I had looked the other way.

***Despite my contention that Brooks was afraid to offend, some Muslims are, indeed, offended. Have they earned the right to be so touchy? Make all the jokes you want about the Confederacy ... doesn't bother me a bit.

Smashing melons

I've been recruited to speak to a bunch of high schoolers at career day. What to talk about? The low pay and long hours??

A co-worker has advised I share some anecdotes about my encounters with celebrities. Paul Newman probably wouldn't impress them (isn't he the guy who makes the popcorn?) Emilio Estevez ... doubt it. Duran Duran? A generation too late. Kathy Bates? Now I'm reaching.

I guess I could relay tales from my memorable interview with Gallagher and his brother, Gallagher II, who at the time were fighting in court over which one came up with the bright idea to smash watermelons. Gallagher claimed it was he who first introduced mallet to fruit. His brother, who would appear in secondary venues (think Toldeo) beneath Gallagher, said it was his idea; their father agreed with Gallagher II.

I saved the tape, by the way.

Maybe the young people will enjoy hearing about my sit-down with one of the two actors who played the drummer on "The Partridge Family." He brought along a few souvenirs, including a P-Fam lunch box and some old copies of "Tiger Beat." Not surprisingly, he hadn't heard from Susan Dey in years.

Or I suppose it might be appropriate, with the Super Bowl coming up, to talk about my interview with the late Walter Payton, a.k.a. "Sweetness." It began ominously and only got worse. Yeah, I stepped on his $200 sunglasses, but did he need to leave them laying on the floor? He paid me back by passing gas, loudly, throughout our time together.

Might I suggest med school?

Monday, January 30, 2006

"I feel the words building inside me, I can't stop them, or tell you why I say them ... "

Who would've thought I could get so much mileage from a "Prince of Tides" quote? Time to once again examine the all-consuming crush presidential biographer Fred Barnes has developed on George W.

The Fox News correspondent now claims this his cherie amour "volunteered for Vietnam and was turned down."

"No, George, the Alabama coast line needs you more."

Bush's defenders, and haters, do have one thing in common: a fanatical zeal rarely overcome by facts.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Semper thigh

Brace yourself. Seems there are indeed gays in the military.

From the AP: Army officials are investigating allegations that members of the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division appear on a gay pornography Web site, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The military-themed Web site does not appear to make any direct reference to the 82nd Airborne or Fort Bragg.

Of course, if these allegations prove founded, the soliders face expulsion from the military. No big deal, since we have so many civilians angling to take their place.

Martha Rudd, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said soldiers accused of homosexual activity might be removed from their units, although she did not have specific information about the investigation of the 82nd. When asked if the soldiers involved had been moved out of barracks, Hannah declined to comment.

"We are concerned about the privacy and rights of each trooper involved and that they are treated with dignity and respect," Hannah said.

Maj. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman in Washington, said the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy states that "homosexual orientation alone is not a bar to service, but homosexual conduct is incompatible with military service."

"We define homosexual conduct as homosexual acts or verbal or nonverbal communication that a member is homosexual," Vician said.

Remember, this whole "don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented, via executive order, by Bill Clinton, the master of appeasement. He could've eliminated the ban on gays altogether, but the polls told him that would be too risky.

Triangulation, you know.

Stretching those 15 minutes

Before commenting on Cindy Sheehan (the shrill reincarnation of "Georgette" from the old Mary Tyler Moore show), am I still required to express my sympathy over the death of her son?

I'm not going to be so cold as to say she should move on, but I wish she would move out of the spotlight. It's time to for the country to give Sheehan the collective cold shoulder, particularly now that she's decided to become the latest political dillettante cozying up to Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez.

"He said, why don't I run for president? ... I just laughed," she said.

Instead, she's pondering a run for the U.S. Senate, against that noted warmonger Diane Feinstein.

"She voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops," Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela along with thousands of other anti-war and anti-globalization activists.

Her opposition to the Iraqi conflict notwithstanding, anyone trying to curry favor with a fascist dictator merits only condescension.

Un Di Felice, Eterea

Tonight I was reintroduced to Woody Allen. The first time came in middle school, when my Baptist youth leader took me to see "Zelig." I was hooked, and, fortunately, the Baptist youth leader didn't have the intentions you might assume.

Woody's given us plenty of reasons to loathe him of late. Most of his recent films were forced, at best; two of my most painful cinematic memories were a.) watching Kenneth Branagh mug his way through "Celebrity" and b.) enduring Woody's Dixieland band in the "Wild Man Blues" documentary (in which he came off as a preening asshole).

And then there's that whole stepdaughter affair.

That being said, "Match Point" is a helluva flick. At the very least, it's reminiscent of one Allen's best, "Crimes and Misdemeanors," except Martin Landau is now much younger, and prettier. Anyway, it's a truly impressive second act for someone who needed one.

I won't rate it among my favorites, yet. But it seems to belong among my estimation of his best, which include:

*Hannah and Her Sisters: The spiritual quest is priceless;

*Zelig: Years ahead of "Forrest Gump," and Allen's personal favorite;

*Annie Hall: Never let Diane Keaton get away;

*Radio Days: Poignant;

*Manhattan: Not a part of the all-overrated club;

*Sweet and Lowdown: Love Django ... and Samantha Morton was amazing;

*Crimes and Misdemeanors: If it bends, it's funny;

*Bullets over Broadway: Something very appealing about Diane Wiest


*Bananas: Great Howard Cosell cameo.

*Broadway Danny Rose and The Purple Rose of Cairo barely miss because of a low Mia Farrow tolerance. Still recommended though, as is:

*Play it Again, Sam: Never let Diane Keaton get away.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


So I'm thinking of the 90s and, out of the blue, I see a commercial for "The Best of Lisa Loeb." It's a single. A very bad single.

Friday, January 27, 2006

You Caught Me Smilin'

I'm a huge Sly and the Family Stone fan. They're a suitable alternative to therapy, and a much hipper substitute for movational literature. They take the simple and declarative and make it work.

The reclusive Sly, on the lam from the public for 18 years, has chosen a strange stage to reunite with the Family Stone. The coolest band ever, on the Grammy Awards?

Of course, the second-lamest awards show (behind the People's Choice) has to screw up Sly's return by organizing an all-star tribute to the original ambassadors of funk, featuring mall rockers Maroon 5 and Aerosmith has-been Steven Tyler, among others. They better put Sly on first, because if he witnesses that spectacle he may disappear for good.

God hates fags (and Indians, too)

Apparently that crap smug frat boy-turned-political operative Ralph Reed puts in his hair is made of Teflon. Despite having deep ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Reed, who's seeking the lieutenant governorship of Georgia, remains a favorite of the Christian right, according to AJC columnist Jim Wooten:
Those who think the candidacy of Ralph Reed was mortally wounded by news reports of his business relationship with wheeler-dealer Jack Abramoff weren't attending last Saturday's Christian Coalition state gathering. The faithful still love him.

This despite a recent report in the AJC detailing Reed's rapid descent in the polls:
Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, may have just suffered through the roughest week of his success-studded political career. His longtime associate and friend, Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty to bribing public officials. A fresh poll showed Reed trailing a Democrat -- any Democrat.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a fellow Republican, accused Reed and Abramoff of "bilking their Indian clients for millions of dollars."

On Monday, campaign finance reports showed Reed had been out-raised over the past six months by state Sen. Casey Cagle, his virtually unknown Republican rival in the race.

Half of Reed's $404,000 came from out of state. In Georgia, many elected officials Reed helped to power while he was state GOP chairman are apparently giving him the cold shoulder...

Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, said the past week was enough to strip Reed of his front-runner status. "You've got to wonder, does he stay in it?" Bullock said. He said a recent Zogby International poll that showed Reed trailing an unnamed Democrat 36 percent to 33 percent was telling. "It looks to me that he's going into eclipse."

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
-Matthew 6:24

Once again, the Christian Coalition seems to believe they know better than Jesus. "Hey, as long as Ralphie boy will stop gay marriage, I don't care what he does to those gambling injuns."

The latest on (insert euphemism here)

Don't consider this an endorsement, but merely a statement of facts uncovered in a recent study on marijuana by the "Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society."

The INS found that even among regular users, there is no proof that pot causes irreversibile cognitive damage. And while memory and learning are hindered by regular usage, those effects fade as use decreases. However, pot may diminish libido and fertility.

Meanwhile, a recent study by UCLA found weed smokers face no increase in the risk of pulmonary disease and cancers of the mouth, throat and lungs.

Of course, none of this explains what in the hell is wrong with Woody Harrelson.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Iran's new best friend

It's never a good sign when the election of a new government is celebrated in the streets by black hooded thugs blasting machine guns into the air. Perhaps Hamas should employ an image consultant.

It's time to face the truth: much of the Muslim populace seems to prefer isolation over civilization. At least that's the message sent by this week's parliamentary elections in Palestine. Middle Eastern democracy is not off to a promising start.

More rehab for Frey

So what's the over and under on when the first magazine article --- or television interview --- rehabilitating James Frey will appear? Will it be "Vanity Fair" or Katie Couric?

I say six months ... a year, tops before the story behind this story becomes a story yet again, with Frey re-introduced as a sympathetic character. Unfortunately, we haven't heard the last from the disgraced author.

Suck my joystick

I've warned before about the infiltration of geek culture. From "Star Wars" to "Lord of the Rings," the Dungeons and Dragons set seems to be dictating the course of popular entertainment.

Now there's something called the Cyberathlete Professional League, dedicated to gamers. That group was once reduced to pubescent boys, but many haven't outgrown the habit. I sat next to a middle-aged guy on a recent flight whose eyes didn't leave his GameBoy screen, except for a quick trip to the bathroom. I was surprised he didn't take the console with him.

To be fair, I was always subpar at video games (passable at "Pitfall," but that's about it), so I'm a bit biased. I have no interest, thus no one else should. Seems reasonable enough.

But if gamers insist on re-living their youth, don't do so under false pretenses. You are not athletes (of course, neither are golfers. Or NASCAR drivers). Video football isn't the real thing. It's not a sport. It's a hobby. You are a hobbyist. You are a geek.

And that's fine. But, in the spirit of Oprah --- see post below --- let's not minimize the facts. No sports are played in your parents' basement, unless perhaps you're playing with yourself.

Or are chronic masturbators considered athletes? Hey, at least you build up a sweat doing that.

This week in ELLEgirl

Obviously there's an endless number of sources as I turn my attention to the lives and loves of teens and tweens. Why do I do it? I'm beginning to wonder. My new Thursday feature may not last a month. Until then, I present ELLEgirl's guide to playing hard-to-get:

1. DON'T get all clingy on the first date because you want to show the other girls he's off-limits. DO realize that PDAs are only verboten because they're fun!
2. DON'T wear goopy lip gloss if you're looking to make out. A sheer veil of rosy lip color is all you need. DO intensify your gaze with hypnotizing cat eyes.
3. DON'T blurt out "I love you" after the first week, or, come to think of it, first month. DO wear a message t-shirt in another language to confuse him.
4. DON'T kiss him until you're sure you like him. DO plant one on him when he least expects it.
5. DON'T spy on him when he's out with his friends. DO put on your cutest smile if you get caught.
6. DON'T pout when he makes you watch "Scarface" for the zillionth time. DO remind him of your patience during the next "Gilmore Girls" marathon.

For those with humiliating jobs, I point out that the above was most likely written by someone in their 30s. So take heart.

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And you will atone"

I can't help but think of that great scene in the prophetic 70s flick "Network" --- when suicidal anchor Howard Beale is reminded by his boss who signs his check --- as I watch embattled liar James Frey stutter and squirm through a cross examination from his former champion, Oprah.

First, I'll credit an obviously embarrassed Winfrey for apologizing about her defense of Frey, the discredited author of two current best-sellers. "I left the impression that the truth is not important," she said.

But this is more about credibility of the "Oprah" brand. She's as trusted as any figure in the U.S., and there's no way some fly-by-night fraud is going to derail her empire. Hell hate no fury like an Oprah scorned.

Still, I'll take her for her word. Sad that's it become refreshing to see someone admit she (or he) is wrong ... which is more than Frey was willing to do. Lots of equivocation in his deer-in-headlights mea culpa.

"He's like a cross between the Karate Kid and Elvis Costello"

If you're between the ages of 25-and-40, odds are you know from which movie the above line is taken.

I got a call today from loyal Malcontent reader Ms. Ellie, informing me she had just watched, for the 46th time, "Just One of the Guys." She could've easily said 4,600 times, since no movie has been on free TV more (every hour of every day, in some time zones) than this otherwise forgettable 80s teen comedy about a popular cheerleader who goes undercover as a male to win the respect of her sexist journalism instructor.

In the process, "Terry" falls for outsider "Rick," who, for some reason, is obssessed with James Brown ... but why am I rehashing the plot? You know it. How in the name of Billy Zabka could you not?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Defending myself

My recent post about teaching the Bible in schools was misinterpreted by at least one reader, and, after reviewing it, I can see how he reached his conclusion.

For the record: I do not equte Islamic fundamentalism with its Christian cousin. While the family values crowd does creep me out, I don't hold them in the same hemisphere of fear as I do the Bin Ladens and Ahmadinejads. The latter wants me dead ... the former just wants me to live in a Victorian Age.

While unclear to some, I do get the distinction.

"A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies"

I think of Oscar Wilde's quote as I take time to heap additional scorn upon fiction writer James Frey. After reading that he compared his tome to the great Jerzy Kosinksi's "The Painted Bird," I was left with no choice but to place Frey on my enemies list. Don't compare yourself to the author of "Being There," lest you incur the Malcontent's wrath.

Of course, there's always room for more on my list. For now, Frey joins:

*Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson --- Most of you probably enjoyed "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia." I found each excruciatingly pointless ... self-indulgence gone mad. "Magnolia" holds a particularly sour place in my memory. First off, why make a dying Jason Robards suffer so much in what turned out to be his last role? First he had to listen to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character serenade him with some dumb Aimee Mann song. Then he has to endure a visit from his "son" Tom Cruise, who proceeds to weep and over-act while Robards just lies there, no doubt thinking: what did I do to deserve such enmity? Halfway through "Magnolia," I slammed my hand down in frustration on the seat next to me, causing my grandfather's ring to hurtle several aisles forward. I was trapped, unable to locate the ring in the dark. I had to sit through 20 minutes of credits before I was finally free. I learned a lesson, though: never give a hack a second chance.

*"Simpsons" writer/producer Ian Maxtone-Graham --- It's probably unfair to blame one person for the decline of what was once TV's best show, but IMG is behind most of the really bad episodes, the ones that emphasize sight gags and slapstick over clever humor and satire. I met his girlfriend a few times back in the late 90s, and she was as humorless as Graham's writing.

*My high school journalism teacher --- Not only did she advise me not to pursue a writing career, but she was also known to gossip about which students might have AIDS. She's still teaching, by the way. All hail our great public education system.

*"Media Matters" founder David Brock --- He started as a hatchet man for the right, authoring such "exposes" as "The Real Anita Hill." Now he's changed teams, but not tactics. The man who once butchered Hillary Clinton in print now sings her praises. Pardon me if I don't buy the conversion (which he's never really explained). Guess there's a lot of money to be made in character assassination.

*The Clintons --- Don't blame me, I voted for Bob Kerrey (back in '92). Having been raised a Southern Baptist, I was familiar with Clinton's kind. Politics aside, how could anyone stomach a man who famously said: "I feel your pain." Maybe he mistook pain for a woman's breast. Plus, he's a crook ... and so is his missus. Watch Elia Kazan's masterful "A Face in the Crowd" sometime and tell me if the Lonesome Rhodes character doesn't remind you of our former Commander in Chief.

*Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen --- I get it. You're a working mom. You're sensitive. You care. You feel. You have kids, and a job. We're so proud.

*Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins --- Because she once wrote a book titled "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?" Unfortunately, she did.

*Sean Hannity --- No one preaches to the choir more blandly than the popular radio chat host. "You're an American hero, Sean!" "No, it's you listeners that are the real heroes." The reason I sometimes lower myself to listen to sports talk.

*The guy who plays the Indian caricature on "That 70s Show" --- It's not easy being more annoying than Ashton Kutcher, but Wilmer Valderrama pulls it off. Why haven't Indian (the country, not the people) groups ever protested this guy's "Amos and Andy" like portrayal? Nothing but fingernails on the chalkboard to this observer.

*Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey --- Nothing but fingernails on the chalkboard to this observer. When did behaving like a bratty 12-year-old boy become so funny?

*Evander Holyfield --- In a former life I worked as a valet parker. One night, Holyfield drives up with two women (neither being his wife) and, seeking a big tip, I gave him the red carpet treament. "I'll put you right up front, champ." I felt so dirty. And my thanks? Nothing. Not a g'damned dime.

*Barry Bonds --- Out of respect for one of my heroes, Hank Aaron. The idea of this wife-beating, steroid-abusing boor breaking Aaron's HR record makes me cringe. Bad karma aside, I pray for a career-ending injury before he approaches Aaron's magical number 755.

*Joe Simpson --- Shouldn't ministers who ogle their daughters be on everyone's enemies list?

*Tom DeLay --- You could fry bacon on that hair of his.

*Karl Rove --- For orchestrating the slanderous attack on John McCain during the 2000 Republican Primary, among other things.

*George W. Bush --- For playing along, among other things.

*Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson --- Duh!

*The Church of Scientology --- As gay baiting as any Baptist, but not beneath using well-known gays to proffer their warped message. And there's about 187 more reasons that I won't go into now.

*Ethan Hawke --- Because he continues to write books: I was staring at myself through the window into the driver's-side mirror; I do that all the time. I'll stare into anything that reflects. That's not a flattering quality, and I wish I didn't do it, but I do. I'm vain as hell.

*Closed political primaries --- Geeky, I know, but it's a major reason why we're always stuck with such lousy nominees for political office. If voters could cast their ballots for whomever they wanted in the primaries, John McCain would probably be president right now. In California, for instance, my vote for McCain didn't count because I'm a registered independent. This is why we're always forced to choose the lesser of two evils ... or Ross Perot!

Why do I get the feeling I'm leaving someone (many ones) out?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Antiquing with Mother Snyder

Although I'm a little too young to remember Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow" show, my pal D. Scott and I were avid viewers of Snyder's already-forgotten late 1990s chatfest.

Granted, it helped to be stoned, but there was something hypnotic about the host's on-air awkwardness. Typically, he knew nothing about his guests. Often, he seemed to care less, taking every opportunity to inject his own meandering anecdotes.

Most revolved around one character (and yes, I'm aware I'm doing only a mild variation on the Dan Aykroyd SNL caricature, circa the late 1970s):

"You know Mother Snyder and I love the Kentucky Fried Chicken. She likes the extra crispy, you know, and me, well, I'm an original kind of guy. Ha ha ha ha ha! A-ny-ways Mother Snyder just can't understand how someone would choose the original skin, which I find plenty cripsy, over the extra crispy.

So we're at the drive-thru and Mother Snyder is correcting my order to the guy in the box. Ha ha ha ha ... I know, right! I told her, I said, Mother Snyder, I'm a grown man and if I don't want my chicken layered in fried batter then that's my choice. Well she goes on and on about how I don't know what I want and that's why my first wife left me and ..."

Consider this a free endorsement for "The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder: Punk and New Wave" DVD. There's sure to be loads of laughs from Snyder's interview with Johnny Rotten.

Might I suggest a follow-up DVD: "The Best of Mother Snyder Stories?"

Capitalism or democracy?

Those two ideologies aren't usually at loggerheads, but the zeal for the almighty dollar is causing American companies to choose the former over the latter.

Google is the latest webco to agree to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.

Microsoft has already buckled to the Chinese government ("Man of the Year," indeed). If there's a choice to be made between free expression and free markets, it shouldn't be a contest. Now, thanks to these Internet behemouths, pro-democracy groups will have a much tougher time spreading their message within China's borders.

God bless the U.S.A.!

Those fags and dykes at GLAAD are at it again

This is killing me. Now GLAAD is forcing me to defend "American Idol." Isn't having Ryan Seacrest on the show enough for them?

Bosses at America's leading gay rights group are demanding a summit meeting with the producers of TV talent show "American Idol" after claiming the program is "increasingly homophobic".

Officials at the Gay And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) were appalled by homophobic remarks made by judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson on the first show of the new season, which aired in America on Tuesday.

On the program, Brit Cowell told one effeminate wannabe to "shave off your beard and wear a dress," while Jackson asked another audition hopeful, "Are you a girl?" Both contestants were rejected.

A spokesman tells entertainment news website TMZ.com, "GLAAD is reaching out to the show's producers to discuss our concerns and the concerns of community members and allies, who have contacted us about this matter."

You really need a life if you're contacting GLAAD about something Simon says.

Ahead of the curve

Pardon the indulgence, but I can't resist patting myself on the back. I refer to the post dated 12/28/05 (Amazingly fantastic and terrifically fabulous) ...

God knows the entertainment media is rife with false advertising: Apparently, Kanye West is, in fact, Jesus Christ.

It seems Kanye, and Rolling Stone, agree with my assessment. I forget: did Jesus ever rap about bitches and Escalades?

Mad at GLAAD

The free speech Nazis are at it again. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has decreed that we queers better watch what we say.

They've put me in the uncomfortable position of defending Isaac Mizrahi, who caused quite a stir with his "frank" questioning of celebrities on the red carpet at the recent Golden Globe Awards. The fashion designer's comment to Charlize Theron about her Oscar-winning role as a "scary dyke with bad teeth" in 2004's "Monster" elicited a formal complaint from GLAAD. As usual, they got what they wanted.

GLAAD spokesman Damon Romine said E! agreed to edit the word out of future airings of Mizrahi's encounter with Theron.

I'm waiting for them to push for a filter device that would eliminate all usage of the words "fag," "butt pirate," "carpet muncher," et al on the 'net. It's a shame, but not a surprise, that GLAAD can't tell the difference between defamation and colloquialism, particularly when used by one of their own.

Sacre bleu!

Hearing the French version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" as I trekked through the Canadian Rockies was a highlight of my working vacation to Calgary. It sort of made up for the $10 pack of cigarettes I was forced to purchase; no doubt I would quit if I lived in Alberta.

One other complaint: put some alcohol in those mixed drinks!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Start me up!

One more Ray Davies quote; I wonder who he's talking about:

"I do not want to do a golden-oldies tour, just there for nostalgia. We were never nostalgic, and I don't want us to do it in a sad way. If we can't be relevant to the time, or at least our times, it's not worth doing."

Guess we won't be seeing the Kinks perform at halftime of, say, the NFL Pro Bowl.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Classy rock

I should have better things to do than sit in front of a computer screen, but it's a little early to go prowling here in Calgary.

Besides, I gathered plenty of material from the bad magazines I read on the plane (more on those when I return). However, I did get lucky with the latest GQ, which has a nice piece on Ray Davies of the Kinks, the least overexposed --- and appreciated --- of the great British Invasion triumvirate.

It's not often I identify with the famous, but I feel a real kinship with Davies, based on these two quotes:

"As soon as I know it's a hype, there's something inside me that turns it off."

"There's part of me that would rather be living in an attic somewhere, having meetings with fellow attic dwellers to overthrow the world."

Sounds good to me.

***My top 3 Kinks songs: "Sitting by the Riverside", "Dead End Street" and "Do You Remember Walter?"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Who you calling a hoser?

I'm off to Calgary for the weekend, so no posts for the next couple of days ... at least from me. If all goes well, loyal Malcontent reader Stanley Roper (a.k.a. Gary) and fellow blogger Charles Davidson will be subbing for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Watch out, Alabama ...

Georgia's coming for you! We may trail our immediate neighbor to the West --- and their Western neighbor, Mississippi --- in SAT scores, but a new plan, introduced by a group of state Senate Democrats, is sure to push us past, dare I say, Louisiana.

Their idea (no doubt inspired by the upcoming mid-term elections): create an elective high school class for Bible instruction. If approved, according to today's AJC, "the legislation would authorize the state Board of Education to adopt a state-funded academic course covering the good book's influence on literature, art, music, culture and politics."

On second thought ... it's really not a bad idea. We're living in fundamentalist times, and it's wise to know what fuels that thinking, whether it be the Islamic or Christian strain.

As Andrew Sullivan pointed out yesterday in his blog, "One thing I learned from studying the Third Reich in college: If a genocidal maniac attains power, it's always worth noting what he has said and taking him at his word. There's a tendency in the West not to believe the worst about our enemies. Hitler wasn't really going to kill all the Jews. Mao couldn't be massacring and starving millions, could he? Stalin meant well, no? Democracies, because we create cultures of reason and toleration, find it hard to get our heads around people who really do believe some crackpot theory."

Following Sullivan's lead, check out this essay, detailing what Muslim extremists really believe.

Whether it's the Koran or the Bible, it makes sense to understand how and why they fuel such dominant ideologies. You know, history.

Still, I hesitate to endorse this transparently opportunistic legislation by the state Democrats (thinking they can lure religious conservative voters), partly because of its origin, the 'Bama-based "Redeem the Vote," founded by a group of Christian evangelicals whose motives are questionable. The AJC says the group is lobbying to pass similar bills in Florida, Missouri and, of course, Alabama.

Angel dusted

Whatever happened to PCP? Angel dust, as it's more widely known, was the heroin of my youth, the boogeyman of all drugs.

You don't even hear about it anymore, which is a good thing. Still, I'm reminded of the dramatic movie-of-the-week from 1981, "Angel Dusted," in which a future Oscar winner jumped through a sliding glass door while tripping on "ozone" (another nom de guerre).

Not that I ever had the chance to sample PCP, but if I had I would've likely been dissuaded by the memory of a bloodied Helen Hunt.

Perhaps I should pose my original question to an HH contemporary, Leif Garrett.

This week in Cosmo Girl!

Time for my weekly foray into the lives of teenage girls, seen, in this edition, through the lens of Cosmo Girl! magazine. That there is such a publication is pretty alarming, but I guess I should be thankful for the Malcontent fodder.

Far right wingers often talk about homosexual "indoctrination" of their kids, and they may actually have a point. Apparently trimming body hair isn't just for swimmers and club queens anymore. I always thought it dangerous to have sharp instruments anywhere near my testicles, but the next generation is seemingly okay with the threat of sterility.

At least according to Cosmo Girl!, which asked its readers: Do you think it’s hot when a guy is into grooming, or would you rather be with a hairball???

*"Jess" replies --- "Okay, I know this sounds gross, but I think body hair on guys is…hot! I have guy friends who trim their armpit hair and I know a few guys who SHAVE THEIR LEGS (they CLAIM it’s for sports, but WHATEVER!), and I have to say: I think it’s much more of a turn-off when guys are high-maintenance than when they’re au natural. (On the other hand, I know one guy who uses cover-up when he has a zit, and I have to say--it’s a good idea, and I feel kind of bad that guys aren’t encouraged to use cover-up when it would probably make a lot of them feel a lot less self-conscious, you know?)"

*But "Kaela" disagrees --- "I think hairy guys are nasty ... wax it, shave it, do whatever the hell it is that you gotta do, just get rid of it. It's more sanitary, in my opinion then having body hair, because the sweat and crap like that doesn't get stuck in the hair. Some girls think its 'manly' or 'rugged' and stuff like that, I just think its gross."

*"Raidergirl4890" offers this compromise --- "Hair on guys legs is fine and I only like hair on a guys face if it's kinda scruffy but anywhere else ... no thank you. I dont like hair on guys chest and I dont like arm pit hair. It kinda grosses me out."

This makes me feel sorry for European women. To quote Homer Simpson, yet again: "Has the whole world gone gay?"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This is it!

I actually learned something once watching E! I was party to a great hypocrisy in my youth, revealed to me while watching the Mackenzie Phillips "True Hollywood Story," referenced earlier as a classic of infodocudrama. Seems when Miss Phillips addressed my middle school assembly about the evils of drugs (as part of her probation, I discovered) she was, in fact, shooting up. No wonder I strayed.

For those unfamiliar with Phillips' story ...

The daughter of New York socialite Suzy January and Mamas and the Papas member John Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips was one of the biggest young stars in the 1970s. By the age of 15, she had appeared in American Graffiti and landed a starring role on the sitcom One Day at a Time. But her personal life was difficult. Her parents went through a bitter divorce when she was a child, and Phillips was frequently left alone, where she found solace in drugs. After being raped at age 14, her addictions intensified and got worse following her disastrous early marriage and her two firings from One Day at a Time. Not even her pregnancy could stop her drug abuse. Finally, however, Mackenzie Phillips successfully made it through rehab at age 32.

Pucker up

I'm no knee-jerk Bush hater, though, admittedly, I will always remain bitter over his defeat of John McCain back in 2000. Isn't that akin to preferring the film adaptation of "Bonfire of the Vanities" to the book version?

Regardless, I'm not always close-minded to those who praise W., but Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes pushes the effusive envelope with his lapdog love letter, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush."

Some excerpts:

Bush is a president who leads. "If we do not lead, people will suffer," the president told me in an interview I conducted specifically for this book. He controls the national agenda, uses his presidential powers to the fullest and then some, proposes far-reaching policies likely to change the way Americans live, reverses other long-standing policies, and is the foremost leader in world affairs. All the while, he courts controversy, provokes the press, and polarizes the country. The president doesn't worry about running the day-to-day activity of his own government; all he has to manage is the White House staff and individual cabinet secretaries.

His job, he told me, is to "stay out of minutiae, keep the big picture in mind, but also make sure that I know enough about what's going on to get the best information possible." To stress the point, during our interview in the Oval Office Bush called my attention to the rug; he had been surprised, he said, to learn that the first decision a president is expected to make is what color the rug should be. "I wasn't aware that presidents were rug designers," he told me. So he delegated the task--to Laura. Typical of his governing style, though, he gave a clear principle as guidance: he wanted the rug to express the view that an "optimistic person comes here."

"I feel the words building inside me, I can't stop them, or tell you why I say them, but as I reach the top of the bridge these words come to me in a whisper. I say these words as a prayer, as regret, as praise, I say: W., W., W. ..."
---from "Prince of Tides," only slightly paraphrased

Todd Bridges has an alibi

Although he was once a centerfold fixture in magazines like "Tiger Beat," Leif Garrett is perhaps best known to modern audiences for his bravura turn on VH-1's "Behind the Music," the standard-bearer of that series (much like Mackenzie Phillips' "E! True Hollywood Story..." beyond compare). Who can forget that emotional reunion between Leif and the balding, Albino guy that lost the use of his legs when a drunk and stoned Garrett rear-ended his Porsche into another car back in 1979?

Garrett, looking scarily like Danny Bonaduce these days, was busted again this morning in a Los Angeles subway station, charged with heroin possession.

According to the LA Times, Garrett, 44, was being held without bail because he was also detained on a bench warrant for allegedly violating the terms of his probation for a previous offense, Los Angeles County sheriff's and district attorney's officials said.

The musician-actor, who has a history of drug issues dating from the 1970s, pleaded guilty in March to attempted possession of cocaine-based narcotics and was placed on probation, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles district attorney's office, on Tuesday.

To think, I really believed he was made for dancing.

"Why did the chicken cross the road? Al Sharpton."

"We need a new black leader we can all agree upon. Who we got for leadership? Al Sharpton. Just the mention of his name brings laughter. He looks like Bookman from 'Good Times.' He's a punchline."
---Chris Rock

Not that white boy's opinion should count much here, but I've got a visionary to nominate: Wynton Marsalis. His speech Monday at Tulane University in New Orleans reaches rhetorical heights worthy of it subject: MLK Jr., whose holiday is usually tainted by political hacks delivering political speeches seemingly drafted by the same central diversity coordinator.

Marsalis reminds us why King should be remembered. Some highlights:

"I also feel a special honor in speaking on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday because it was Dr. King’s tireless activism that encouraged our modern way of relating to one another. Yes, we are here tonight empowered with the feeling that we can speak truthfully to one another. We can work together. We can rely on one another because Dr. King’s actions made his dream our reality, and this rebuilding of New Orleans gives us the perfect opportunity to see what we’re prepared to do with the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement ...

"We have a roadmap to success --- the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because he didn’t settle for 'that’s just the way things are,' we don’t have to. Because he led an intelligent assault on all sorts of sanctioned corruption, we too can use our intelligence to project integrity. Because he understood that all human beings are of one race long before the discovery of the DNA strain, we can now live that reality. Because Dr. King was always about the business of making real the human grandeur outlined in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, we can still believe that our government can be of the people, by the people, and for the people ...

"I want you all to understand that there are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. They are afraid of change ... some of these forces are even within you. But I’m here to tell you, when young folks are motivated to action, when they act with insight, soul and fire, they can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation. It’s time somebody woke us up."

The plot against Narnia

I knew the old hens at Concerned Women for America would have something to say about last night's Golden Globe winners. Beyond the usual moral condemnation, they offer a fairly revealing argument about who should get awards.

From the organization's website:

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, CWA’s Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, "Once again, the media elites are proving that their pet projects are more important than profit."

Crouse added that "none of the three movies, Capote, Transamerica or Brokeback Mountain, is a box office hit. Brokeback Mountain has barely topped $25 million in ticket sales. While it has recouped all the production costs, it is doubtful that receipts have covered the massive PR costs."

The Christian thing to do, apparently, is to reward the popular. CWA might want to check out this week's box office champion, "Hostel," in which "three backpackers head to a Slovakian city in search of hedonism, with no idea of the hell that awaits them."

"Blessed are the profitable, for they shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The search for authentic life in an artificial universe

Finally got around to seeing "Walk the Line" today. Not a great movie, but solid, and Joaquin Phoenix was appreciably better than anticipated. More than anything, it reminded me how much John Cash is missed.

Why do we value the uncompromising and original only in passing? JC remained popular throughout his career for those very reasons, but such attributes are considered dated nowadays.

Or should I even mention Tuesday's premiere of "American Idol," where the truly desperate grovel at the feet of Paula Abdul in hopes of being crowned the next Phil Collins, or Gloria Estefan? One thing's for certain: you won't find the next Johnny Cash among this assortment of wannabes.

Remember when familiarity bred contempt, not comfort?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Wallowing in the mire

Fascinating watching those ongoing mid-life crisis' of Dennis Quaid and Harrison Ford, isn't it? Anyway, I was glad to see "Brokeback Mountain" win that prestigious Hollywood Foreign Press Association award (chosen by a bunch of paid-off hacks, mainly, but sometimes they get it right).

So as not to waste any more time on awards given out by a bunch of paid-off hacks, I direct you to a dissenting view ... of the film, not the Golden Globes.

In a recent piece published on the "Independent Gay Forum," conservative law professor Dale Carpenter writes:

"It's almost never mentioned that their affair is juxtaposed to the consequences of neglecting life's obligations. The first time Ennis and Jack have sex they shirk their responsibility to watch the flock. That night, a sheep is killed by a wolf; the aftermath is graphically depicted. A large portion of the flock is ultimately lost while they frolic.

"More importantly, in their occasional fishing retreats, Ennis and Jack leave behind families. They are adulterers. This doesn't seem so terrible in the case of Jack, whose cartoonish wife is obsessed with her career and her press-on nails. But in the case of Ennis the result is poignant. Rushing out of the house to meet Jack, Ennis bodily passes off his two daughters to his wife (Michelle Williams), who stoically bears the burden left by a homosexual fleeing his entrapment. Eventually they divorce."

Now, I'm a big fan of "Brokeback," which surprised me since I'm naturally suspicious about anything so widely regarded. As for Carpenter's first point, who wouldn't choose sex over sheep, save for a peverted shepherd or two?

The rest of his thesis merits consideration, however, though I think his argument lacks some context.

Note that the characters were living in a time (and place) where a gay lifestyle was an invitation to isolation, personally and professionally. Marriage was a consolation to that choice, though Carpenter is correct in asserting that you can't discount the toll paid by children produced from unions that probably should have never been. Nor should the women scored be overlooked.

While I agree that you can't let the "Brokeback" characters off the hook, I remain largely empathetic. I had no such sympathy for gay villain Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who used a wife and child to advance politically, then sold out his office by appointing an unqualified boy toy director of the state's homeland security department ... after 9/11.

Once that hire was made public, McGreevey resigned from office, obscuring the corruption charge with a sensational declaration that was "a gay American," which apparently made it impossible for him to continue governing.

Not surprisingly, some in the queer media rushed to McGreevey's side, cheering his "bravery." Cowardice is more like it.

It's one thing to live a lie in 1970 Wyoming. Quite another in a urban center, circa 2003. Sure, McGreevey may have never been elected governor as an openly gay man, but that's a problem whose solution should require neither deception nor betrayal.

Cracker ass cracka

Tell the truth: this is how those of you above and beyond the Mason-Dixon line really view us Southerners ...

Bemusement park

I'll make a deal with Pat Robertson: stop saying (and doing) stupid things, and I'll stop giving you so much space on the Malcontent.

This is one of those good news/bad news posts. Starting positively, we can take pleasure that Robertson's big mouth --- specifically his comments about God stroking down Ariel Sharon --- has cost him a major investment opportunity: a Christian theme park in Jerusalem.

The bad news: there's still going to be a Christian theme park in Jerusalem.

A lot of people throw out the Rodney Dangerfield card these days, but I think Jesus has dibs. Isn't there something patently disrespectful about placing a roller coaster in Christ's hometown?

Not to the backers of the Holy Land Christian Heritage Center, a project formerly fronted by Robertson. However, Rami Levy, director-general of the Israel's Tourism Ministry, told the AJC the Virginia-based prophet of doom would be excluded from participating in the planned $50 million project because of his "unwise" comments.

Quoting the newspaper: "The theme park is considered the latest building block in the growing and controversial alliance between the Israeli government and America's evangelical community, a loose affiliation of an estimated 30 conservative and fundamentalist Christians."

The park will be located on a 45-acre parcel of land near the Sea of Galilee, where it is believed Jesus lived and preached. The plan would transform the current grassy hillside into a multimedia visitors center that would include a broadcast center from where leaders could preach, an open-air chapel and an auditorium for re-enacting Jesus' ministries in the area, according to a Tourism Ministry brochure.

No word on where the bumper cars will be placed. I am curious about those crucifixion re-enactments, however.

Seen, not heard

Seems the biggest anti-smoking zealots these days are little kids. I know, that's a good thing, but it's still annoying.

So I'm outside of my office, reading the paper during a midday break, Parliament in hand. I fashion myself as a polite smoker, so whenever kids (or adults, for that matter) approach, I make an extra effort not to to blow any carcinogens their way. But that didn't stop these two young girls from summoning a pretend, prolonged hack as they passed me by, with their mother. That'll teach that big bad smoker; at least that's the intent taken from their collective giggles as they entered the tanning salon next door. (Hey, I'll get cancer my way, you get it yours!)

Perhaps I should just accept the fact I'm now, officially, a pariah. Still, does anything grate on the nerves more than a self-righteous child?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Diving into the abyss

Shirley Schrift, a.k.a. Shelley Winters, died today. As a kid, I knew her only from guest appearances on shows like "Fantasy Island" and, of course, her memorable turn in "The Poseidon Adventure."

She may have evolved into a punchline, but in her prime she was a helluva actress (and a pretty hot dame, as well). Check her out in "Lolita" (the original) and "The Night of the Hunter," two of my all-time faves.

Showing my age

Me: "So are you wearing that ascot in honor of Charles Nelson Reilly's birthday?"

Younger, prettier boy: "Who's Charles Nelson Reilly?"

Me: "You know, Match Game, Match Game P.M., Match Game '77 ..."

YPB: "You grew up in the seventies?"

Me: "So ... need another drink?"

Friday, January 13, 2006

But cha AAH, Blanche, ya AAH!

So as I prepared for a night on the prowl, I decided not to use that emergency cover-up lifted from my mother's make-up cabinet to cover that wayward blemish on my chin. Zits are youthful, I rationalize; better leave it exposed.

"Aging ain't for wimps" --- Bette Davis

Why American kids are stupid

Few special interests are ruining this country more than teacher's unions, which have conspired to keep the U.S. behind most of the developed world in educating its children.

It's funny how some issues are branded conservative or liberal simply because of which political party a particular special interest is aligned with. Since teacher's unions are overwhelmingly Democratic, the idea of merit pay is considered a conservative idea. (In fact, Georgia's Republican governor just proposed an across-the-board, four percent pay hike for all the state's teachers. Coincidentially, he's up for re-election this year).

Actually, there's nothing political about it. Why should teachers be treated differently than any other professional sector? If you're good at your job, odds are you'll make more money. If you're bad, you'll probably end up losing it. But the teacher's unions have made a strange, Faustian arrangement that protects their weakest while punishing their best.

I had a teacher in high school who A.) advised me I shouldn't be a writer and B.) gosspied about which students might have AIDS. No joke. She had been around forever, and probably made more than the few skilled teachers I had.

So what do the teacher's unions have against merit pay? Check out this feeble offensive mounted by the president of the Georgia Association of Educators in Friday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She claims that teacher morale would be lowered in such a system due to "increased competition and divisiveness." And she argues teachers would be upset "because they (wouldn't) get the awards they deserved."

There is one solution: follow the trend within American education to reward everyone. Give trophies to all teachers, for everything from hygiene to best dressed. Everyone's a winner! There's no failure in public schools, unlike real life.

Considering the pitiful training most American students receive, everything should be on the table when it comes to education. I don't buy W.'s solution of more testing; I passed many exams during my educational career without learning anything. Apprenticeships would be a good start for high schoolers who show an aptitude or interest in a particular field.

But that might hurt a teacher's feelings. Can't have that.

I'd guess most Americans agree that teachers, good ones, should be paid more ... much more. The bad ones, meanwhile, should be bagging groceries, not earning tenure points.

Strange day, indeed

And it has nothing to do with Friday the 13th. January 13 is the gay version of President's Day, except, unlike Washington and Lincoln, Charles Nelson Reilly, 75, and Rip Taylor, 72, were actually born within the same 24 hours.

Without "Match Game" mainstay Reilly and Taylor (formerly host of the "$1.98 Beauty Pageant"), JM J. Bullock would've likely never had a career. These trailblazers --- with a sizable assist from Paul Lynde --- told America it was okay for the center square to be gay. Where's their GLADD award?

Besides their contributions to the game show genre, CNR and Rip were part of the legendary acting troupe formed by the maestros of mushroom-induced fantasy, Sid and Marty Krofft. Who can forget Reilly as the mayor of "Lidsville," or Taylor as, well, whatever character it was he played on "Sigmund the Sea Monster?"

Has there ever been a more pronounced calendar quirk than this one?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This week in "Teen People"

The Malcontent premieres a new feature, aimed at all my young readers. I owe it to them to turn my jaundiced eye to the 'tween media, compliments of the source, as I call it, "Teen People."

So Mr. Britney Spears' new single, "Popozao," is out. TP asks their readers: Could Kevin Federline be a great rapper? No way, for sure or maybe? You'll have to wait until next week. (He is a great punchline, however; as for the song, it sounds like something recycled from Cameo's toilet).

For you lovelorn out there, Hilary Duff and Good Charlotte (or, as Chris Rock calls them, Mediocre Green Day) frotnman Joel Madden offer this glimpse into their storybook romance:

"He’s my best friend," Hilary says. "When I’m upset, I can shut out the fact that he’s my cute boyfriend who I love so much. I can talk to him, and he’ll tell me what’s up."

Don’t expect them to hit the club scene every night, according to TP. Joel has been drug- and alcohol-free for two years, which makes him Hilary-tested, mom-approved. "Joel and my mom hang out even when I’m not in town!" Hilary says with a laugh.

Faithfulness is key to every relationship, including this one. "To me, cheating is lame. And I think flirting is cheating’s ugly cousin," Joel says.

Although they're in love, HilJo, as I've coined them (trademark pending), aren't going to rush things.

"We think about the future, but not marriage," Joel says. "I just hope we’re always happy." Holding Joel’s hand, Hilary seconds his emotion: "I don’t ever think about being apart from Joel. We just feel so comfortable with each other, and we know that we’re not going anywhere."

You know what's really sad about this? Someone, probably older than me, conducted that interview.