Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Off to America's wang!

Finally, I get to make my long-awaited first visit to Celebration, Fla. Ever since I heard about Disney's planned community, I knew I had to go there.

Actually, I'm spending the rest of the week in Destin, right in the heart of what used to be known as the "Redneck Riviera." It's more like Alpharetta on the beach now, but you go where the free condos are.

Hopefully I'll be filing some dispatches from the dunes, but not too many. That would be sad.

The Puritans are coming! The Puritans aren't cumming!

Better lock up your dildoes if you reside in the Palmetto state, as the state legislature has moved to ban sex toys.

Lucy’s Love Shop employee Wanda Gillespie said she was flabbergasted that South Carolina’s Legislature is considering outlawing sex toys.

The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses.

People convicted under obscenity laws face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

South Carolina law borrows from a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to define obscene as something "contemporary community standards" determine as "patently offensive" sexual conduct, which "lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

Certainly South Carolina faces no other problems bigger than this. But the Christian right must be appeased.

What torture sounds like

Chilling recording from the front lines of the drug war. Scroll down and listen here (warning: it's gruesome).

Because of this surreptitious audio recorded by the suspect's wife -- which includes threats to electrocute an illiterate, small-time dealer, drown him and break his fingers, beatings and gunplay --- five cops are likely going to jail.

For two hours, authorities say, that message would be pounded into Lester Eugene Siler’s head and body, reinforced with the barrel of a gun and echoed in threats of electrocution.

Handcuffed and surrounded, Siler was now a prisoner of the war on drugs in Campbell County (Tenn.).

Seven months later, five former Campbell County Sheriff’s Department lawmen are poised to plead guilty to federal charges they conspired to violate Siler’s civil rights by beating, threatening and torturing him.

Named in informations drafted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr. and filed last week in U.S. District Court are David Webber, 40; Samuel R. Franklin, 42; Joshua Monday, 24; Shayne Green, 35; and William Carroll, 26.

In those documents, Atchley details a plot by the former lawmen to force Siler to put his signature on a form they could use in court as proof the convicted drug dealer agreed to let them search his home in the White Oak community in search of drugs and money.

I'm in no way inferring that this kind of practice is commonplace, as some would like to claim. Yet others on the right would say this type of stuff never happens. The answer, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle.

Billionaires have lots of enemies

I guess it's tough to admit that you've fleeced your shareholders out of their pensions. So how do you explain it away? Blame the media, of course.

Even if the media is friendly. You won't find many publications more sympathetic to big business than the Wall Street Journal, but Ken Lay testified yesterday at his criminal trial that Enron's collapse was orchestrated in part by the newspaper.

Enron Corp. was a victim of a "witch hunt" that unfairly criticized the giant energy company's business and drove it toward bankruptcy, former Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lay testified at his criminal trial on Tuesday.

Lay has blamed Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, the Wall Street Journal and a group of predatory investors for creating a "classic run on the bank" that led to the company's downfall.

After this trial, Lay still faces a separate trial facing four charges of bank fraud for his use of loans to buy stock on margin. Perhaps he'll pin that one on Sean Hannity.

'Cause I'm 16, beyond a shadow of a doubt

If you know what that title references, keep it to yourself (the exact line is "cause I'm 15," but that's all I'm going to say). Otherwise, time for a new addition to the countdown of the nineties' crappiest alt-rock hits:

Would you believe it's from Ween, a well-established favorite of the Malcontent? Still, "Voodoo Lady," one of the few songs of theirs to get radio airplay, is just abominable. Even the greats have their missteps, and this is a big one --

You drive me crazy with that

Boogie oogie oogie oogie oogie

You drive me crazy with that

Boogie boogie boogie

The cat whisperer

Cat person or dog person? In my family, it's always been the former. My dad taught me to never trust anyone who doesn't like felines. Pretty tough standard, but I'm inclined to agree.

After keeping a friend's dog recently, I casually mentioned to my father how much I enjoyed the canine's company. He paused, as if disappointed: "You still like cats better, don't you?" No doubt. You don't have to clean up after them, they're not in your face as much, they're smarter ...

Sure, there's plenty of debate about animal intelligence, and no firm answers. But for me, independece trumps dependence. Cats hear you call for them, they know their name, they just choose when to come ... like humans.

And cats are picky. Dogs, meanwhile, are desperate. Cats seem to sense respect, as well. They know who likes them and who doesn't. If you don't, they'll avoid you. If you do, they'll give you a few minutes. A dog will do just about anything to win you over.

Cats are Peter Sellers. Dogs are Adam Sandler. (Of course, there are exceptions, like my friend Nurse Hall's canine or Al Kosa's pooch. And the German Shepherd I had as a child).

Otherwise, seems conclusive enough to me who wins this argument.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I wonder if Pat O'Brien was there

Seems the "Access Hollywood" smarm machine has competition as TV's sleaziest host.

A producer of 'The Maury Povich Show' has sued the talk show host, claiming that the workplace was "permeated with the use of alcohol, pornographic videos and parties inviting open and notorious sexual activity."

In the complaint, filed Monday in the Supreme Court of New York, Bianca Nardi claims that Povich had "a long time, intimate and sexual relationship" with a member of the staff. She claims the alleged relationship "created a hostile workplace that was sexually abusive to woman (sic)."

Nardi claims she was forced to expose her breasts and have them photographed on the show. She also claims she was directed to "tape the chests of female guests... in order to photograph them with large 'boobs'."

This reminds me of a story I heard from a former Los Angeles TV anchor who worked alongside Povich's wife, Connie Chung. When she told the native Tennessean he should lose his accent, the anchor retorted: "And you should get something done about those eyes!"

Portrait of an ass clown

Apologies to Michael Bolton from "Office Space," but his description of his musical namesake fits Major League Baseball dictator Bud Selig -- number one with a bullet on the Malcontent's enemies list -- so well that I had to steal it. Is anyone better at projecting haplessness?

Giving it to the man

Malcontent correspondent Al Kosa checks in with more venom for the corporate pigs who are ruining our little corner of the world --

On this apparently bleak day for Braves fans, I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to delve deeper into the darkness that is MLB ownership. This kind of stuff makes me want to learn voodoo. Writes mlb.com reporter Robert Falkoff:

The patience of Royals owner David Glass has been severely tested during Kansas City's early-season slide. But Glass made it clear Saturday that he's still willing to stay the course at this juncture and not have a knee-jerk reaction to three weeks of poor baseball.

Amid speculation that general manager Allard Baird's job security may be in jeopardy, Glass said his immediate focus is on helping his baseball operations team led by Baird do whatever it takes to turn things around.

Maybe spending a little more than $53 million on payroll would help. Maybe signing a free agent besides Reggie Sanders would help Allard. Glass used to be the CEO of Wal Mart. He still owns more than $100 million worth of the company’s stock. As he blabs about doing whatever it takes to help his GM, here’s what Forbes recently wrote about the Royals:

In April 2006, Jackson County voters barely approved a three-eights cent sales tax increase for the next 25 years to modernize Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will kick in another $25 million and pay for any cost overruns. The team plans on using the renovation to widen the concourses, add concession stands and luxury suites, which could add over $10 million a year to revenue. Fans can only hope that the team, one of the most subsidized in baseball, will use the proceeds to improve its dreadful roster rather than line the pockets of its owner, David Glass.

Meanwhile, the Royals in the past year also turned an operating profit of $20.8 million while the value of the team increased 28 percent, according to Forbes. Did you get a 28 percent raise this year? Glass bought the club in 2000 for $96 million, and it’s now worth $239 million, Forbes says.

Glass is hardly alone in pocketing the revenue sharing money he’s supposed to use to improve his team. Here’s Forbes’ take on the Pirates:

The team has cut player costs by $10 million over the past four years. Meanwhile, the team's take from the revenue sharing pool has increased by $20 million during the same time period. This business "strategy" has helped the Pirates turn a total profit of $34 million during the past two years.

Of course MLB and the owners hem and haw and crap all over the Forbes report every year. After all, you know, the Forbes family is famous for class warfare. The guy who started the magazine referred to it and himself as a “capitalist tool.”

I’m certainly no socialist, not even a knee-jerk liberal. Yet things like this and the Liberty deal make me, in the dark places in my mind, conclude that rich people and giant corporations rule the world and there’s nothing we can do about it. Except keep buying tickets and watching games to help them get even richer. They control the game we love. It ain’t fair!!!


People should at least think about this the next time they bitch about player salaries. Yeah, based on contributions to society, they are insanely overpaid. So are actors and rock stars and corporate chieftains. Based on what owners get for their financial engineering and milking the public, the players deserve anything they can get out of these plutocrats.

Ain't no mountain that high

For whatever reason I tuned in to a little bit of the NBA playoffs yesterday, but I couldn't get past the pre-game show. Not to pick on basketball -- all sports do it -- but sitting through those introductory montages (setting the scene, if you will) is beyond nauseating.

Of course they imported James Earl Jones to narrate, lending gravitas (to a first round playoff game, ya right). It's not even Game 7, yet these events are treated as if nothing is more important.

Baseball is especially culpable here. Whether it's ESPN or FOX, their telecast intros are typically so maudlin you'd think they were discussing the Holocaust. Let's lose the hero treatment, stat.

To quote my old sports editor, SKA: "Just play the fucking game."

And another thing ...

What's with this trend among basketball players to scream in anguish every time they score a basket? You'd think they just dug out of prison. Kevin Garnett -- by most accounts, a good guy and a helluva player -- is most culpable. Cancel the drama.

Screw the robber barons

Yet another example of why an increasing number of Americans (even ones who aren't reflexively liberal, like yours truly) are growing to despise big business:

Time Warner is closing in on a deal that would make Colorado-based Liberty Media Corp. the new owner of the Atlanta Braves, two people familiar with the negotiations said Sunday.

Fantastic. My favorite team, neglected by its ownership ever since Ted Turner sold out to AOL-TW, will again be treated as a "non-core asset." Just another blip on the bottom line. Screw the fans, we have profits to make.

Most grating of all is that Liberty doesn't even want the Bravos.

Liberty's motivation for a Braves deal has little to do with baseball and a lot to do with taxes.

Liberty CEO Gregory Maffei told investors on a conference call last month that his company wanted to redeem much of its $3 billion worth of Time Warner stock in a tax-free transaction.

Liberty spokesman John Orr told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month that, under tax laws, such a transaction could be accomplished by returning the stock to Time Warner in a deal that would bring Liberty a Time Warner-owned asset, such as the Braves, as well as cash.


The people close to the talks said that, under the proposed deal, Time Warner would receive a large block of its stock that currently is owned by Liberty Media as well as Liberty's 50 percent stake in Court TV, the other half of which already is owned by Time Warner. In return, Liberty would get the Braves, a large amount of cash — and significant tax benefits.

Well as long as some faceless Colorado conglomerate makes a bunch of money ... Whatever happened to corporate responsibility, not just to shareholders but to the public at large? Once again big business is on the verge of ruining something precious to a lot of people, and there's nothing we can do about it.

The biggest culprit in all this is MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, perhaps the most feckless chief executive in all of American industry. Baseball must approve any new ownership group, and you would think they'd favor local buyers.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but it's smart, as well. Odds are Liberty will slash payroll and try to squeeze as much profit out of the team as possible. What do they care about baseball in Atlanta? It hurts the game if one of the sport's premier franchises is netuered, but Selig can't see beyond tomorrow.

While the trend in pro sports is against publicly traded corporations owning teams, MLB — unlike the NFL — does not have a rule against such ownership.

No doubt history will recognize Selig -- who made his fortune selling cars -- as baseball's greatest scourge, more so than steroids, Pete Rose or the Black Sox.

It's a dark day in the ATL.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cliche monitor

Shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic

Two-out-of-every-three pundits agree: there's no other way to describe Bush's recent Cabinet shuffle. There is, of course, but you wouldn't know it listening to the political talking heads.

Minding your manners

When you're a self-appointed civility cop, there are no set hours, no office to go to, no boss ... No pay, either, but I'm happy to equalize for free.

Like today when this most entitled of bitches (sorry ladies, but the term applies here) was giving a slightly befuddled Middle Eastern convenience store clerk a hard time because he couldn't immediately locate her brand of cigarettes. Then she really let loose with the pained sighs and rolled eyes when he couldn't give her directions.

I quickly sprung into action. I knew where she wanted to go, but a lesson needed to be taught. Hopefully she's still lost, especially considering she didn't even say thank you.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pretend that you're dead

The Malcontent always strives for consensus, so I dare anyone to disagree with my selection for the 15th worst alt-rock song of the nineties, "Zombie," by the Cranberries:

In your head, in your head,

Zombie, zombie, zombie,

Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,

In your head,

Zombie, zombie, zombie?

Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou ...

From the country that brought you Benny Hill ...

Actually, I'd rather watch a Benny Hill marathon, then watch it again, than pay to see yet another of those dreadfully, too cute by whole inspirational flicks about a group of down-on-their-luck Brits. "(M)aybe there's a factory up in the Lake Country that cranks them out like bangers and mash for export to US art houses, where they can displace tougher, worthier fare," writes Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr.

More from his review of "On a Clear Day" ...

... about a plucky little fellow with a dream, and if you've seen "The Full Monty," "Billy Elliot," "Saving Grace," "Brassed Off," "Waking Ned Devine," or "Calendar Girls," you may be wondering if the British film industry has officially begun to make these movies in its sleep.

I wonder if our pal Sheldon (see below) will be checking this one out.

Ice, ice babe!

Purely speculation on my part, but I'd recognize those vacant eyes anywhere (and the pock marks don't help).

Danish supermodel May Andersen has been arrested for hitting a flight attendant on a flight from Amsterdam to Miami, police said.

The 23-year-old bombshell was aboard Martinair Flight 643 on Thursday. She was ''loud and disruptive all throughout the flight,'' according to a Miami-Dade police spokeswoman.

There's no real signifigance to this post save to run the pic. Otherwise, beautiful, pampered people throwing public tantrums is about as newsworthy as dog bites man, but it's interesting to note how they always seem to hit the help. They'd be a helluva lot more alluring if they threw a cell phone at, say, Henry Rollins, or Robin Williams. Do that, and I'd join my queer brethren in worshipping your every move. I'd even call you diva (although simply being a bitch doesn't qualify one for said designation):

di·va (dē'və)
n., pl. -vas or -ve (-vā).

1. An operatic prima donna.
2. A very successful singer of nonoperatic music: a jazz diva.

Nor does being an old, washed-up actress. Example: Judith Light is not a diva. Disagree? Your quibble is with the dictionary.

Louse of the week

There's two sides to every story, blah, blah, blah, but Denise Richards, the estranged wife of Charlie Sheen -- paints an eerily detailed portrait of a marriage gone bad. If she's to be believed, Emilio's lil' bro is a violent perv who likes 'em bald.

In a searing court attack on Charlie Sheen, actress Denise Richards alleges that her estranged husband is unstable, violent, addicted to gambling and prostitutes, and visits pornographic web sites featuring young men and girls who appear underage. In a remarkable sworn declaration (a copy of which you'll find below) filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Richards also charges that Sheen, 40, assaulted her and threatened her life during a December 30 incident at the actress's Los Angeles home.

What prompted the murderous threats?

Sheen was angry because she had told her divorce attorney about discovering details of Sheen's porn-surfing practices. Richards's declaration, filed in support of her request for a restraining order against Sheen, contends that Sheen "belonged" to "disturbing" sites "which promoted very young girls, who looked underage to me with pigtails, braces, and no pubic hair performing oral sex with each other." Other sites visited by Sheen, Richards alleges, involved "gay pornography also involving very young men who also did not look like adults."

I wonder if this will cause papa Martin Sheen to undertake yet another hunger strike.

Bottom of the rack

Starting a new feature here, directing readers to movies you probably missed, but shouldn't have. I'm trying to stay as under-the-radar as possible, attempting to navigate that fine line between the purposely obscure and the accidentally overlooked.

"A Shock to the System" (1990)

Starring: Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert and Swoosie Kurtz

This is one of Caine's best roles, coming during a period when he was the white Samuel Jackson (some of his credits shortly before, and after -- "Jaws 4: The Revenge," "Noises Off" and "Mr. Destiny"). But his work as Graham Marshall is inspired, and this story of yuppie encroachment and office politics remains terriffically relevant. Very black comedy (the hero is a murderer), but Caine makes him eminently likable.

Money scene: Caine's reaction upon hearing of his wife's demise. Brilliant.

Great supporting work, too, from McGovern (whatever happened to her?) Riegert and Kurtz (one of the Malcontent's favorite character actresses).

"Shock" came out on DVD two years ago, although in most video stores it's available only on VHS. Dust off the VCR, it's worth it.

Keep it copacetic

Some words just grate on the nerves. I associate "copacetic" with late 90s hipster doofus types who thought it was a cool thing to say because they heard it used in one of those Tarantino knock-off movies ("Things to Do in Denver" (When You've Run Out Of Original Ideas), etc. ...

Because of that, Local H takes #14 on the crappy alt-rock countdown. Or have you forgotten "Bound for the Floor," released 10 years ago?:

And you just don’t get it

You keep it copacetic

And you learn to accept it

You know it’s so pathetic

Can JLo speak through her teeth?

I doubt it. Regardless, she's been officially cast as Sue Ellen Ewing in the sure-to-be-godforsaken big screen remake of "Dallas." Can she fill Linda Gray's formidable heels? No way.

Then there's John Travolta, who'll be donning J.R.'s Stetson for the movie version. Not buying that, either.

British director Gurinder Chadha is the unlikely choice to helm the film; her credits include the cutesy "Bend it Like Beckham," and she's also working on a remake of "I Dream of Jeannie." Obviously her standards aren't that high.

Or maybe she has a thing for Larry Hagman ("Jeannie's" Major Nelson). Whatever Chadha's motivation, I smell celluloid disaster.

Filming on "Dallas" is due to start in October, with the movie slated for a late 2007 release.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Paint by numbers?

The early reviews for "Art School Confidential" (the Malcontent's most anticipated film of the year) are decidedly mixed. I remain committed, however; "Ghost World" was so good, this movie (re-teaming director Terry Zwigoff with writer Daniel Clowes) can't be bad.

The Hollywood Reporter disagrees --

With broad strokes and the most garish colors, "Art School Confidential" lampoons the poseurs, artistes, druggies, burnouts and assorted other ass-pirants who make up an arts institute. With an "Animal House"-ish deportment, "Art School" likely will entertain a sophomoric audience and etch some winning college-kid figures, but art house audiences will be disappointed by its paint-by-numbers storytelling.

Did "Bad Santa's" success taint Zwigoff? I'm not buying it.

Daily Variety is a bit more forgiving, barely --

If the names of director Terry Zwigoff and screenwriter Daniel Clowes weren't prominently credited on "Art School Confidential," this melancholy comedy might be mistaken for an inferior imitation of their "Ghost World." The thematic and tonal overlap between the two films is considerable, and this second collaboration is entirely true to the idiosyncratic spirit of that earlier work. But despite a soulful leading performance from Max Minghella, pic feels insubstantial, echoing without equaling both the coolly ironic edge and heart of "Ghost World""Ghost World" and the incisive art-world outsider portrait of the director's docudocu feature, "Crumb." Breakout beyond specialized niches appears doubtful.

But I'll opt for convenient optimism here, citing The Village Voice's
favorable review (although they note wide displeasure with the film) --

Terry Zwigoff's Art School Confidential, from a Daniel Clowes screenplay, is a satisfyingly bilious satire with two not entirely unserious points to make: (a) most art sucks and (b) this is the case because the controlling institutions are eminently corruptible. The film was disliked across the board. A pity, since the career advice Jim Broadbent's washed-up painter gives to Max Minghella's ambitious student—"Are you a 'great artist' when it comes to fellatio?"—would have easily topped last year's accidental catchphrase: "It's hard out here for a pimp," from Hustle & Flow, which Art School improves on as a meditation on art and fame.

"Confidential" opens in limited release May 5th, meaning those outside New York and L.A. will probably have to wait another three weeks to see it. I'll be there, damn the reviews.

One in three

Bush's approval rating continues continues to plummet, down to a record-low 33 percent, according to a new poll from FOX News (which indicates his real approval mark probably hovers somewhere around 25 percent).

Even Republicans are jumping ship:

Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush’s presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush’s job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved.

True believer

I've mentioned my childhood fear of Bigfoot before. I'm totally prepared to embrace his reality, if for no other reason than to rationalize my youthful phobia about a big hairy half-man. It persists to this day ... sorry, "bears."

Malaysian wildlife officials denied capturing a baby "Bigfoot," amid fevered speculation over the existence of the mythical creature in the nation's southern jungles.

The Berita Harian newspaper reported that a young Bigfoot was caught by a group of men thought to be from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) near the southern town of Kota Tinggi two weeks ago.

The paper quoted local residents as saying they had spoken to men who described shooting the creature with tranquiliser darts. The locals then peeked into the back of the their truck to see a large, hairy creature.

True or not, remake-happy Hollywood should take note: Bring back those cheesy Sasquatch movies of the 1970s.

Sheldon the emoticon

Anonymous has a name. I guess I should respect anyone with Sheldon's passion ... although I do admire his brazen use of the :) smiley face emoticon.

And I welcome Sheldon's review of "R.V.." ... sounds like he'll be in line for tomorrow's opening matinee. Here's what he says about me (and Patch Williams):

Have you smiled today? Do you ever sing for no reason? Do you notice the hues of the sky, the rustle of leaves? I doubt it. Those are lovely sentiments that Robin, as that irrepressible patch, speaks. He doesn't need me to defend him. You, all hip and ironic and cool and tough, are the one with the problem here. And I will stand up and identify myself. Plus, I can't wait to see RV. The preview is hilarious. :)

I've yet to meet a Robin Williams fan in person. Sure, I know they're out there, but, thank God, never in my circle. It's a small circle, purposely well-insulated.

And Sheldon -- whomever you are -- please, don't take this personally. Anyone who thinks I'm "hip," "cool" and "tough" is welcome in the Malcontent's forum.

A non-witty rejoinder

So "Anonymous" thinks I should stop ripping Robin Williams. I'd conceal my identity, too, if I were defending Mork:

I'll bet Robin Williams could've defused the situation .... with laughter. Why don't you lay off Robin? He has taught the world to laugh. I was very sick once, and watching "Patch Adams" lifted my spirits and accelerated my recovery. What have you ever done for sick people? Leave Robin alone. He's a wonderful human being.

I'll let Robin, er, Patch speak for himself --

You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person I'll guarantee you'll win.

Home. The dictionary defines it as both a place of origin and a goal or destination. And the storm? The storm was all in my mind. Or as the poet Dante put it: In the middle of the journey of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, for I had lost the right path. Eventually I would find the right path, but in the most unlikely place.

We need to start treating the patient as well as the disease.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly without complexities or pride. I love you because I know no other way then this. So close that your hand, on my chest, is my hand. So close, that when you close your eyes, I fall asleep.

Death. To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish. To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies. To become extinct. Curtains, deceased, Demised, departed And defunct. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a herring. Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits. The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep. God's way of saying, "Slow down."

(imitating a skeleton) I have a boner. Wait, I am a boner.

Let her speak ... I mean, arrest the bitch!

A heckler disrupted Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech at the White House this morning before being detained by the Secret Service. I guess Bush was trying to make Hu feel at home:

"President Bush, stop him from killing" ... "Stop persecuting the Falun Gong," she yelled. She also shouted in Chinese, "President Hu, your days are numbered" ...

The woman was then taken away by uniformed officers, right after Bush urged Hu to allow the Chinese people to "speak freely."

Wisdom from Nancy Pelosi

Unfamiliar territory here, but a Democratic Congressional leader is making sense on foreign policy:

Today, President Bush will roll out the red carpet for Chinese President Hu Jintao, a leader whose government brutally crushes freedom, democracy and the religious expression of the Chinese and Tibetan people. Hu will receive the best welcome U.S. taxpayer money can buy, including full military honors and a 21-gun salute.

This is the same regime that provides military technologies to countries that threaten international security, including Iran and North Korea. The same regime that threatens Taiwan with a military attack, detains and tortures Chinese people for expressing their political and religious beliefs and arrests Tibetans for carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama.

Unfortunately, Pelosi seems to be a voice in the wilderness on this issue. But she couldn't be more right --

U.S. policy toward China is ineffective in upholding the pillars of our foreign policy — promoting democratic freedom, stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and growing our economy by promoting exports abroad. Instead, we have pursued trickle-down liberty — promoting economic freedom first, assuming that political freedom will follow. Reality exposes this policy as the illusion it is.

Bush administration officials say they hope that China will become a "responsible stakeholder." We should avoid wishful thinking. Beijing's priority is regime security. Economic development, along with the harsh repression of its own citizens, are the means to maintain political power. Access to the U.S. market is central to Beijing's strategy.

Democrats, follow your leader. For once, she knows where she's going.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bobby Cox explains it all

Nothing riles me more than the uninformed idiots who criticize the best manager in baseball (and for my money the premier coach in all of sports): Bobby Cox.

He's criminally underappreciated in his adopted hometown, by fans and the local media alike. (I'm looking your way, Boob, er, Beau Bock, the Atlanta radio dinosaur who regularly praises former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville -- who lost more than he won -- while belittling Cox's Hall of Fame record).

Not only is he a genius in the dugout, but Bobby's as unassuming as they come -- old school without the pretense, as illustrated in the quote below:

"Guys are in too good a shape," he said when asked why more players seem to suffering from nagging muscle strains. "They have too many muscles. They need to just drink beer after the games."

America's creepiest dad (sorry, Joe Jackson)


Behind the red curtain

It's clear America has chosen to turn a blind eye towards the atrocities that have become routine in China. You know, profits vs. principles ...

I can't verify the veracity of these protesters, but I'm inclined to believe them, based on China's horrid human rights record. Some might even call them "evildoers," but I'll leave that to our "decider" in chief.

But the protesters' message on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Seattle today and Wednesday was grisly. The Chinese government, they alleged, is killing Falun Gong followers in a Nazi-style concentration camp in Liaoning province and harvesting their organs.

The protesters, who came from as far as San Diego, based their claims on reports by Falun Gong supporters in China and articles in The Epoch Times, a newspaper and Web site affiliated with the group.

"Our main message is to let China's president know that the world knows about the death camp," said Allison Pan, a Seattle software engineer who helped organize the demonstration. "We demand a full investigation."

What is Falun Gong?

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, consists of meditation and slow-motion physical exercises. Its teachings emphasize three principles: truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.

Nothing threatens Communist dictatorships more. The Chinese government deals with the Falun Gong the same as it does other persecuted groups, said David Zhang, a computer engineer from San Jose, Calif.

"They don't treat Christians any better than they do Falun Gong," he said.

Big Brother's best friend

If this is the price of doing business with China, then American companies shouldn't be there. Or maybe those of us who have a choice should boycott Yahoo!:

Yahoo Inc. may have helped Chinese police to identify an Internet writer who was subsequently jailed for four years for subversion in the third such case, an advocacy group for journalists said on Wednesday.

News implicating Yahoo in the imprisonment of Jiang Lijun in 2003 surfaced on the eve of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Bush in Washington.

It was the third such case involving the U.S. Internet giant.

Yahoo was accused of providing electronic records to Chinese authorities that led to an eight-year prison term for Li Zhi for subversion in 2003 and of helping to identify Shi Tao, who was accused of leaking state secrets abroad and jailed last year for 10 years.

It's time for Congress to act. Harsh penalties should be imposed on any company that assists the Chinese government in suppressing free speech. After all, I thought we were supposed to be exporting democracy, not stifling it.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the verdict showing that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) helped Chinese police to identify Jiang by confirming that the e-mail account ZYMZd2002 had been used jointly by Jiang and another pro-democracy activist Li Yibing.

"Little by little we are piecing together the evidence for what we have long suspected, that Yahoo! is implicated in the arrest of most of the people that we have been defending," the group said.

"We hope this Internet giant will not, as it has each time it has been challenged previously, hide behind its local partner, Alibaba, to justify its behavior. Whatever contract it has with this partner, the e-mail service is marketed as Yahoo!," it said.


The case is the latest in a string of examples that highlight the friction between profits and principles for Internet companies doing business in China, the world's number-two Internet market.

Web search giant Google Inc. has come under fire for saying it would block politically sensitive terms on its new China site, bowing to conditions set by Beijing.

In December, Microsoft Corp. shut down a blog at MSN Spaces belonging to outspoken blogger Michael Anti under Chinese government orders.

Sad that when profits and principles collide, the former always wins.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Yah Mo B Mute

Is there any sound more grating than Michael McDonald singing Motown? God help him if ever dares cover a Sly and the Family Stone tune.

Still, nothing sucks more than Phil Collins

"Tonight, Tonight" checks in at number 14 as the crappiest alt-rock song of the 1990s, but take heart, Smashing Pumpkins -- "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" by Genesis remains the all-time worst ditty about the dark.

Am I the first to say it?

Doubtfully, and certainly not the last. But today was truly historic -- Tom Cruise ate out a woman, sorta. Or does female placenta count?

Ironically, Suri was born the same day as Brooke Shields' newborn daughter, Grier Hammond Henchy.

Shields and Cruise had a public spat last year after he criticized the actress for taking antidepressants following the birth of her first child.

Either you believe in equality or you don't

If you do, then you must agree -- based on the preliminary evidence -- that criminal charges should be brought against Georgia congresswoman Star Jones McKinney. According to tomorrow's AJC, the official police report on McKinney's clash with a Capitol Hill police officer says the legislator struck the officer "in his chest with (a) closed fist."

I'm not sure what the punishment is for such a crime, but I know if I had done it I wouldn't have gotten away with just a lame pseudo-apology in front of a bunch of empathetic colleagues. This isn't about black and white, or male and female -- it's about the powerful abusing their privilege.

Certainly McKinney's ideological supporters don't believe a congresswoman should get preferential treatment.

The decision as to whether McKinney will be charged remains in the hands of a grand jury in Washington.

U.S. Attorney Ken Wainstein turned the matter over to the grand jury two weeks ago. Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he met last week with McKenna and asked him to consider filing a lawsuit against McKinney. Canterbury also called on McKinney to apologize directly to McKenna.

Which she hasn't. Maybe she'll discover true recalcitrance before a judge.

Excuse me, Pepe Le pew, which way to the Awful Tower?

I see the British aren't above lazy stereotype. Here's how a reporter for the London Telegraph describes us in a recent article:

Loud and brash, in gawdy garb and baseball caps, more than three million of them flock to our shores every year. Shuffling between tourist sites or preparing to negotiate a business deal, they bemoan the failings of the world outside the United States.

The reputation of the "Ugly American" abroad is not, however, just some cruel stereotype, but - according to the American government itself - worryingly accurate.

Time to focus group it!

Now, the State Department in Washington has joined forces with American industry to plan an image make-over by issuing guides for Americans travelling overseas on how to behave.

Under a program starting next month, several leading U.S. companies will give employees heading abroad a "World Citizens Guide" featuring 16 etiquette tips on how they can help improve America's battered international image.

Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), a non-profit group funded by big American companies, has also met Karen Hughes, the head of public diplomacy at the State Department, to discuss issuing the guide with every new U.S. passport. The goal is to create an army of civilian ambassadors.

Nice try, but first off few are likely to read those pamphlets. And if Karen Huges has anything to do with, Americans abroad will be recast as pleasant zombies, quick with a smile and unfailingly bland.

The guide offers a series of "simple suggestions" under the slogan, "Help your country while you travel for your company". The advice targets a series of common American traits and includes:

• Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. (In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status - corporate or personal - can create resentment.)

• Listen at least as much as you talk. (By all means, talk about America and your life in our country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life.)

• Save the lectures for your kids. (Whatever your subject of discussion, let it be a discussion not a lecture. Justified or not, the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.)

• Think a little locally. (Try to find a few topics that are important in the local popular culture. Remember, most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl. What we call "soccer" is football everywhere else. And it's the most popular sport on the planet.)

• Slow down. (We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.)

• Speak lower and slower. (A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.)

• Your religion is your religion and not necessarily theirs. (Religion is usually considered deeply personal, not a subject for public discussions.)

• If you talk politics, talk - don't argue. (Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies. Agree to disagree.)

I'm sort of torn on this one. It'd be nice if people followed this guide here in the states. However, as an opinionated, occassionally brash American, I don't like being told how to act.

Does the Japanese government advise its citizenry not to take picutres of everything when they're abroad?

And I suspect the stereotype is a broad generalization conveniently embraced by the rest of the world at odds with our foreign policy. A spokesman for the National Tourism Agency for Britain concurs:

"Americans have a certain reputation which, for the majority, is undeserved. These guidelines sound like good common sense but they're not something the majority of our American visitors need."

No wonder our government is spending money on it.

A minor concession

This is for those Matthew Sweet fans out there who complained about my ranking of "Girlfriend" as the 12th worst alt-rock song of the 1990s. I was wrong. "Round Here" by Counting Crows deserves that distinction. "Girlfriend" slips to 13th.

Imagine the line for that magic carpet ride

When I was kid I loved those cheesy "Ali Baba" movies. By extension, I figured Baghdad must be the coolest place on earth. Genies, magic carpets, those nifty swords ... seemed a helluva lot more fun than anything Disneyland had to offer.

Or so I thought. Iraqis seem to be learning one lesson from the Americans: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Babylon, the mud-brick city with the million-dollar name, has paid the price of war. It has been ransacked, looted, torn up, paved over, neglected and roughly occupied. Archaeologists said American soldiers even used soil thick with priceless artifacts to stuff sandbags.

But Iraqi leaders and United Nations officials are not giving up on it. They are working assiduously to restore Babylon, home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and turn it into a cultural center and possibly even an Iraqi theme park.

You had me then you lost me. A theme park? "Come experience the mass confusion at the Towers of Babel!"

Emad Lafta al-Bayati, Hilla's mayor, has big plans for Babylon. "I want restaurants, gift shops, long parking lots," he said.

God willing, he added, maybe even a Holiday Inn.

Tom Cruise is strange, Part 403

"I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there."

Seems Mr. Mapother is reveling in his weirdness. Career move, or public breakdown?

I suggest some fava beans as a side dish, along with a nice Chianti.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lose the rainbow

I detest group symbols. Might as well carry around a megaphone, announcing "I am not an individual" to everyone you meet.

So I wish the gay parents who "crashed" the White House Easter egg hunt had chosen not to wear rainbows to the event. When two men are taking turns pushing a well-appointed stroller, you really don't need the flowered leis to determine their sexual orientation.

That being said, I applaud these parents for otherwise keeping the activism out of a youthful rite of passage. Kids don't need to be confronted with politics, particularly when they're stuffing their face with Cadbury chocolates.

Family Pride spokeswoman Cathy Renna said the families who signed up to attend committed not to use slogans or even wear t-shirts that could get them barred from the White House.

Good to hear. Quiet protests always work best.

I hate the 90s (cont'd)

I probably should've found a place for The Offspring before now. Anyone who recorded a song as heinous as "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" deserves worse. But 11th place will have to do:

Gonna play the field, keep it real
For you know a way, for you know a way
So if you don't break, just over compensate
At least you know you can always go on Ricki Lake

How's that for name-dropping!

Matthew Sweet was also overdue for mention. "Girlfriend" follows in 12th.

Surrender to the knife

Amid the outrageous news that Exxon's retiring chairman will be receiving a $400 million pension (including stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes), Ms. Ellie chimes in with a most trenchant observation:

"If you're going to fleece people for that much money, at least get one of those chins removed!"

And try not to be so transparently hypocritical. Last November, when he was still chairman of Exxon, Raymond told Congress that gas prices were high because of global supply and demand.

"We're all in this together, everywhere in the world," he testified.

Yeah, I heard he went so far as to trim the hours of the guy he pays to hold his umbrella.

That was before new corporate documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that revealed Raymond's retirement deal and his $51.1 million paycheck in 2005. That's equivalent to $141,000 a day, nearly $6,000 an hour. It's almost more than five times what the CEO of Chevron made.

More anti-child propaganda

Keeping with the theme, why is there something called the Kids Choice Awards? Kids have too many choices. Not only are they seen, but they're heard -- loudly. And now they're dictating the culture.

Want to know who's to blame for "Scary Movie 4" grossing $41 million over the weekend? According to soulless Mirmax co-honcho Bob Weinstein, 40 to 50 percent of the audience was in the 12-to-17 year-old range. What does that get us?

"We've got four or five new franchises in development," Weinstein boasts.

Remember when the Weinsteins used to make provocative flicks? Now they're simply peddling product, and damn proud of it.

Weinstein expects to have another "Scary Movie" sequel in theaters next Easter.

And we have kids to thank for that.

As for that Nickelodeon abomination, why the hell are we introducing children to the awards show circuit at such an early age? We should be weaning them off celebrity worship, not encouraging it. This is why we have an E! Network.

When will people learn?

Children, children, future, future ...

Great column in my employer's rag about society's most entitled class: those cute 'lil kids and their overbearing parents (no longer just a broad generalization, unfortunately).

From local freelancer Brendan Casey:

What is this pestilence, we hear you ask, that has spread throughout the metro area and indeed threatens to engulf an increasingly affluent north metro area? The answer is: Children!

More specifically those children from the more "privileged" parts of greater Atlanta where guilt-ridden parents in fractious households with six-figure incomes have created a short attention span stew of frenetic drop-off for baseball, pick-up soccer, and other hyper activities as a substitute for any truly meaningful one-on-one interaction.

Of course, spoiled-child syndrome is nothing new. Every generation blames the one before. What makes this group particularly egregious is the sense of entitlement displayed by those mothers who can be seen carrying, pushing and toting this living accessory around as if bearing a child has somehow become an achievement in itself comparable to climbing Everest.

Children, children,

Children are the future!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

No Smashing Pumpkins?

I'm surprised myself. But you can't have a Top 10 list of musical disrepute without a nod to the dreadful swing revival of the late 90s.

So ninth place belongs to "Zoot Suit Riot" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

Zoot suit riot

Throw back a bottle of beer

Zoot suit riot

Pull a comb through your coal black hair

Cue Sideshow Bob shudder.

Tenth place is too easy: "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms.

Getting tired ... so very tired.

Figure 8

So many candidates for the worst songs of the 90s ... I fear the list may never end. Now it's Marcy Playground's turn, with "Sex and Candy."

I smell sex and candy here

Who's that lounging in my chair

Who's that casting devious stares

In my direction

Mama this surely is a dream

A very, very bad dream.

Haven't got time for the pain

A British broadcaster who travelled to the Philippines to be crucified on Good Friday for a television program pulled out of the stunt in tears yesterday — and blamed God for his decision.

Dominik Diamond broke down and wept after watching nine Filipinos take their turn to be whipped and nailed on crosses and realizing that his turn was next. "God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross," he sobbed, sinking to his knees and praying as local people and tourists started to boo.

We want blood! We want blood!

Negotiations had taken place to bestow on Diamond the privilege of becoming only the second Westerner to take part in the event, known as Karabrio. The ceremony is held in the village of Cutud, 50 miles north of Manila. Men dress in white robes and flagellate themselves with glass-tipped paddles and bamboo whips, in penitence for their sins.

Diamond, who said that he had had a crisis in his faith, decided to go on a pilgrimage taking in the Vatican and a Jesuit retreat in Italy, and culminating in the crucifixion to restore his faith in God. Despite his failure to go through with the exploit, producers insist that the documentary would still be aired.

After pulling out of the challenge, Diamond said: "At no point was it ever conveyed that I would definitely be crucified. At all times in this journey I have been guided by my God in ways I could never have predicted. Having experienced the humility of bearing my own cross through the streets, I felt my God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross."

I smell a reality show.

Am I schizophrenic?

No, just a time-wasting perfectionist. Hence the many changing faces of the Malcontent. I'd like to get out of this Blogger prison, but I'm criminally inept at such things. Any Good Samaritans out there willing to walk me through a complete design overhaul?

Ripping up phone books for Jesus

Meet Jeremy Baker, otherwise known as the "Human Cannonball" for his ability to dive into a wall of ice nine inches thick. His hands are so strong he can bend a crescent wrench into the shape of a U. Jeremy was a youth pastor for six years before fulfilling his dream to become a member of The Power Team.

Said team used to be required late night viewing at the Malcontent's crib. (They were on the same religious channel as those campy Jim and Tammy Faye knock-offs, Paul and Jan, otherwise known as the human corpse and his drag queen wife). There's something irresistible about a mulleted behemouth head-butting a mound of bricks, then following it up with an invitation to accept Christ. I never quite figured out the connection.

Damn me to hell if you like, but I think the evidence speaks for itself:


During each nightly meeting, three to six evangelists (Power Team members) present a program of feats of strength set to upbeat Christian music. These feats of strength are utilized carefully throughout the service to illustrate Biblical truths. Power Team members share relevant, heart-stirring testimonies along with a 20-minute Bible-based evangelistic message and a clear-cut altar call to accept Jesus Christ. The testimonials not only stir the hearts of the lost, but also inspire the hearts of Christians to move into a deeper walk of faith. Each night of the crusade is unique with varying themes, messages, feats of strength, and a variety of speakers.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Future VH-1 commentators

Like we need more of those. Stanley Roper said it best in a recent post about the showbiz bottom feeders who make a living commenting on their more successful contemporaries:

Who are these television commentators who discuss "101 Celebrity Oops" and, say, the year 1996? How are they able to judge anything a celebrity does, while they are apparently in the same game, but not doing so well. The world appears too full of comedians. Is comedy becoming like dentistry, a flooded market?

Atlanta is currently playing host to the annual convention of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association, a collection of about 2,000 "academics" studying the truly insignificant.
"In the culture, there's such a swarm of information running over us every day, and you have to pick and choose what to pay attention to. And you have to do that at this conference," said Rhonda Wilcox of Gordon College, who's presenting a paper on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

You think the Chinese are wasting their time dissecting cult television shows?

As you'd expect, sci-fi geeks dominate the conference.

One of the suddenly popular topics this year is the TV series "Battlestar Galactica," which Georgia State University's Daniel Vollaro called a "richly plotted, socially conscious science-fiction TV series with textured narratives and interesting characters." It is that, but it's also, as Shawn Krause-Loner from Syracuse University acknowledged, "a soap opera about people being chased through space by bloodthirsty robots."

Among the curriculum topics:

*"Guts and Glory on the Felt: Poker's Popularity and the Crisis of Masculinity"

*"Achtung Bono: New Celebrity Activist or Same Old Song and Dance?"

"Dames, Babes, Battle-axes and Tomatoes: Women and the Three Stooges"

*"Here be Ronsters: Gender Trouble in the 'Scooby-Doo' Movies"

I wonder: is the "Scooby-Doo" scholar proud of his/her work?

Look in the mirror, France

Is this Paris or Birmingham, circa 1962:

Warming up on the touchline, a black player jogs toward fans at the Parc des Princes soccer stadium. As he gets closer, a barrage of monkey chants explodes -- "OOOH! OOOH! OOOH!" -- and racist insults fill the air.

Such scenes are increasingly common at the home stadium of Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG, one of France's top soccer teams, and are finding expression in elite soccer leagues across Europe, raising fears that a global sport that calls itself "the Beautiful Game" is getting uglier.

Remember this the next time the Europeans lecture us about social justice.

On the bleachers of Parc des Princes, PSG supporters divide along racial lines in two opposing sections of stands -- the Kop of Boulogne behind one goal and the Tribune d'Auteuil behind the other. Boulogne is nearly entirely Caucasian; Auteuil is multiracial and includes whites.

Instructive also for those in this country who scream racism whenever someone boos Barry Bonds. Imagine if he played in Paris.

Incompetence alert

This week's most underreported story comes out of Afghanistan, where "classified" information is available for sale on the streets of Bagram, just outside the main gate of a U.S. military base.

This week, an NBC News producer, using a hidden camera, visited the bazaar and bought a half dozen of the memory drives the size of a thumb known as flash drives. On them, NBC News found highly sensitive military information, some which NBC will not reveal." Earlier, the Los Angeles Times had published what indeed appeared to be sensitive material.

"This isn't just a loss of sensitive information," Lt. Col. Rick Francona (ret.), an NBC News military analyst, said. "This is putting U.S. troops at risk. This is a violation of operational security."

Some of the data would be valuable to the enemy, NBC related, including names and personal information for dozens of interrogatorsm and interrogation methods; and IDs and photos of U.S. troops. With information like this, "You could cripple our U.S. intelligence collection capability in Afghanistan," said Francona.

Wonder which entry-level plebe will get court martialed for this?

Is this in your employee handbook?

In a federal lawsuit, Jarman Gray, a former assistant manager of an Alabama Hooters, charges that he was fired last year after complaining about comments made to employees by a female "visiting training manager." In his April 7 U.S. District Court complaint, the 31-year-old Gray claims that a trainer named Cat told waitresses that they were "the ones with the pussys and you are in control because of that." Then she reportedly added, "If you need the extra money, go ahead and suck a dick or fuck a customer if the money is right."

If this is true, then the Hooters girls deserve a substantial raise. Ever checked out their clientele? Of course, if you're working at Hooters, you're probably not that picky.

Ask for the Wolfman

When discussing local commercial icons, the list begins and ends with the Wolfman (and Donna), whose low-budget ads are sorely missed.

It didn't matter that Doyle Rodgers and his daughter were selling some of the crappiest looking furniture this side of IKEA. We watched for the doggedly wooden repartee, the kind usually reserved for the likes of John Davidson and Cathy Lee Crosby (from "That's Incredible.") But it wasn't sexual tension that fueled them ... Donna was Wolfman's daughter.

While the Wolfman left us a few years back, Donna remains as manager of the Gallery Furniture store in Gainesville. She still stars in the chain's commercials, but it's just not the same without daddy.

Little surprise that Ted Turner -- a renowned curator of eccentrics -- gave Rodgers his start:

In an unlikely twist of events, the former Atlanta media mogul played a hand in the Wolfman finding a spot in television commercial history. When Rodgers started looking into television advertising, he turned to the Superstation, Turner's then struggling cable channel. As Turner's channel started growing on a national level, so did the local Wolfman's reputation, so much so that Wolfman Jack (or his lawyers) felt threatened enough to claim copyright infringement. Turner quickly took care of the situation, and so the furniture salesman Wolfman continued on, almost seeming timeless.

When you're ready to sell, we're ready to buy

Every city has their own local commercials to treasure. Crudely done, poorly acted, but endearing nonetheless. In Atlanta, the hands-down winner is Two Brothers Investment Group, Inc. I'm not saying I'd do business with the Brothers Hull, but anyone who incorporates "Sanford and Son" into their sales pitch deserves a doff of the Malcontent's cap.

Although I wonder: are potential customers swayed by the use of classic TV stars? "Well, honey, if if they're good enough for Redd Foxx, then that's good enough for me."