Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Christian right overload

I'll make a deal with the fundamentalist crowd -- stop giving me so much material and I'll stop writing about you.

The following vividly demonstrates the cost of dissent within the Christian right:

In his consulting room in a suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, gastrologist Randy Brinson is a worried man. A staunch Republican and devout Baptist, Dr Brinson can claim substantial credit for getting George Bush re-elected in 2004. It was his Redeem the Vote initiative that may have persuaded up to 25 million people to turn out for President Bush. Yet his wife is receiving threats from anonymous conservative activists warning her husband to stay away from politics.

"They've been calling my house, threatening my wife," said Dr Brinson. "The first time was on a day when I was going up to Washington to speak to Republicans in Congress. Only they knew I'd be away from home. The Republicans were advised not to turn up to listen to me, so only three did so."

The reason he has fallen foul of men whose candidate he helped re-elect is that he has dared to question the partisan tactics of the religious right. "Conservatives speak in tones that they have got power and they can do what they want. Only 23% of the population embraces those positions but if someone questions their mandate or wants to articulate a different case, for the moderate right, they are totally ridiculed."

In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

Mr Cizik, an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian church and otherwise impeccably conservative on social issues such as abortion, stem-cell research and homosexuality, believes concern for the environment arises from Biblical injunctions about the stewardship of the Earth. The movement's political leadership, however, sees the issue as a distraction from its main tactical priorities: getting more conservatives on the supreme court, banning gay marriages and overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 abortion ruling.

"It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this. I guess they do not want to part company with the president. This is nothing more than political assassination. I may lose my job. Twenty-five church leaders asked me not to take a political position on this issue but I am a fighter," he said.

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right told the Guardian: "Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

Well if that's the case, why worry about Iran getting nukes? After all, God wouldn't let the Earth burn up, would he?

Cash quote: "I would rather put my .38 pistol in a child's room than put a computer or a television set there. The devil's crowd is working how to get to your children," declared Brother Richard Emmett in his Mothering Sunday sermon, broadcast to audiences in eastern Tennessee.

My penis made me do it

A man serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife is asking a federal judge to order the state to pay for a sex-change operation for him, saying that denying him the surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

A psychiatrist testified Tuesday that he believes Robert Kosilek will kill himself if state correction officials refuse to allow the surgery and Kosilek is unable to complete his transformation into a woman.

Kosilek, 57, was convicted of strangling his wife, Cheryl, in 1990.


I prefer the suicide option. If LBGT activists start lobbying for Kosilek's right to become Roberta, I give up. Sadly, I suspect some will.

Kosilek sued the Department of Correction for the second time last year, saying that numerous psychiatrists who had examined him -- including two of the DOC's own experts -- had determined that a sex- change operation is "medically necessary."

"We ask that gender identity disorder be treated like any other medical condition," said Kosilek's attorney, Frances Cohen.

Kick me out of the club if you like, but gender identity disorder is not like any other medical condition, particularly if you're a convicted murderer.

First grade felon

Zero tolerance strikes again, as stupidity continues to reign within our public education system --

A 6-year-old special education student who kicked a Naples teacher's aide and spent several hous in juvenile jail is facing felony battery charges. ...

Takovia Allen suffers from behavioral problems and attends a special class at Lely Elementary in Naples.

According to an arrest report, on May 2, a teacher was trying to line up students to go to music class. Takovia refused to go and kicked the teacher's aide in the ankle.

After a discussion among school officials and two law enforcement officials called to the school, the girl was arrested.

Takovia was taken to juvenile jail and held there for several hours before being released to her mother.

She is being charged with battery on a public education employee.

It's possible she will enter a program that includes counseling. If she completes the program successfully the charges could be dropped.

I suggest the school officials and cops who made the decision to arrest the six-year-old be required to enter counseling.

Can Jesus throw a curveball?

Fascinating story in the USA TODAY about baseball's Colorado Rockies, who are seeking divine intervention to reverse the franchise's porous history.

On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.

From ownership on down, it's an approach the Rockies are proud of — and something they are wary about publicizing. "We're nervous, to be honest with you," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd says. "It's the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs."

So I guess God has been a Yankees fan all these years. Could he be changing allegiance?

"You look at things that have happened to us this year," O'Dowd says. "You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."

As opposed to player development, smart free agent signings and judicious trades. And here I thought John Schuerholz was responsible for the Braves' success.

You have to wonder how other major leaguers feel about playing in Colorado. What about Jewish players? Think Sandy Koufax would've been comfortable in the Rockies chapel, er, clubhouse?

"They have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a veteran of seven organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies. "You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs."

"Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Let's put it this way: I'd take nine Babe Ruths over nine evangelicals between the lines any day.

Interesting irony: the Rockies play their home games in Coors -- as in beer, as in Lucifer Juice -- Field.

Hide the children

Better sedate Hannity and Limbaugh. Now they're singing the Spanish version of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Ellis Island --

"We chose Ellis Island because of the obvious symbolism it has for the whole American immigrant experience," said New York-based British music producer Adam Kidron.

Kidron, 46, provoked a heated debate last month when his recording label, Urban Box Office (UBO), released "Nuestro Himno" (Our Anthem), a Spanish version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which he hoped would become a rallying song for protest marches against immigration reform.

Shouldn't we be happy someone actually wants to sing the anthem, the most lyrically tortured of all national theme songs (and the most metrosexual ... "spangled?!?")?

Might as well call it "The Star-Bedazzled Banner."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fair weather fans

I'm not sure you could find two more loathsome political operatives than former Republican hatchet man turned left-wing apologist David Brock (author of "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham" and "The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy") and former Democratic hatchet man turned right-wing apologist Dick Morris.

Neither has fully explained their Damascus conversion, yet both mantain an exalted state within their respective (newly chosen) movements. Hey, as long as you're spewing vitriol, it doesn't matter whose water you carry.

You might remember Morris from the infamous toe sucking scandal during the 1996 election. Check out the photos of Condi and Hillary he chose for the cover of his latest tome --

Methinks someone still has some female issues.

The bigotry of double standards

Britain's teacher's union has approved an academic boycott on Israeli higher education institutions that do not condemn that country's "apartheid policy." Meanwhile, the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the largest labor union in Canada, voted in favor of a boycott of Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.

Blogger and columnist Cathy Young dissects the ideological hypocrisy:

Are these boycotts anti-Semitic? Maybe not, but, as I noted the other day, they are hypocritical, sanctimonious, and deeply wrong. No one is demanding a boycott of Russian academics over Russia's occupation of Chechnya and the atrocities committed there (which dwarf, to put it mildly, Israel's human rights abuses in the occupied territories). Or, as Ari Paul points out in an article at Reason.com, a boycott of Chinese academics because of the occupation of Tibet and other assorted abuses by the Chinese regime. Or ... sadly, the list could go on and on.


Partly, this double standard is rooted in the all-too-familiar leftist mentality which strenuously condemns bad behavior by Western or pro-Western governments while turning a blind eye to the far worse misdeeds of communist and/or Third World regimes. (It's not quite clear into which category Putin's Russia falls.)

Looking for freedom

"Half of the time I don't know if people are making fun of me or think I'm cool."

--David Hassehoff

Here's a simple rule: Unless the accent is German, they're making fun.

Thank You for Smoking


While I need to exercise, I don't want to become one of those people. Like the female jogger who passed by as I walked Nurse Hall's dog this morning. I was smoking, natch, which caused the joggerette to cringe noteiceably as she approached. As we met on the sidewalk she gave my that condescending "I'm healthy and you're not" look (I've seen it before). Meanwhile, she acted as if the smoke was Kryptonite.

Hey, I tried to blow it the other way.

Quote of the day


"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

--Dick Cheney, recycled from May 30, 2005

Monday, May 29, 2006

Brangelinabia

Sounds like Namibia has been overtaken by a two-headed monster --

The Republic of Namibia - the impoverished country of 1.8 million known for its wild remoteness - not only welcomed the movie stars, it handed over control of its international land borders and airspace to them.

As the world awaited the birth of the child at a luxury villa complex on the coast, Namibian authorities said they had bowed to pressure from Jolie and Pitt and granted them the right to ban foreign journalists from entering the country - a remarkable move for the Government of any sovereign state.

The stars told ministers they would quit the country unless allegedly intrusive journalists and paparazzi were brought to heel.

No fat babies!

And God forbid they be unattractive, or slightly abnormal, physically or otherwise.

Sadly, an increasing number of parents are choosing beauty before death:

The ethical storm over abortions has been renewed as it emerged that terminations are being carried out for minor, treatable birth defects.

Late terminations have been performed in recent years because the babies had club feet, official figures show.

Babies are being aborted with only minor defects.Other babies were destroyed because they had webbed fingers or extra digits. Such defects can often be corrected with a simple operation or physiotherapy.

The revelation sparked fears that abortion is increasingly being used to satisfy couples' desire for the 'perfect' baby.

A leading doctor said people were right to be 'totally shocked' that abortions were being carried out for such conditions.

I try to stay out of the abortion debate, but this is unconscionable. Here lies the consquences of a culture that magnifies the superficial above all else.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My name is ATL malcontent, and I'm a mentally ill heterosexual

That's what many in the Christian right would conclude:

The ex-gay movement considers same-sex attraction to be a gender-identity disorder, brought on by inadequate parenting, unmet emotional needs and, often, childhood sexual abuse.

Mainstream associations of psychiatrists and psychologists resoundingly reject that model, but the ex-gay movement promotes it through groups such as the National Assn. for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. That group's president, psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, opened a recent conference for men and women seeking to overcome homosexuality with a ringing statement:

"There is no such thing as a homosexual. We are all heterosexual. Our body was designed for the opposite sex."

I'll overlook the obvious slap in the face and note another victim of these rhetorical grenades -- the parents of gay kids. They're being told, with no subtlety, that they failed miserably as mothers and fathers. What else would explain a homosexual scion? Dealing with a queer son or daughter is difficult enough -- hopefully, one day, it won't be -- and parents don't deserve the blame.

No one does. Homosexuality just is. Like being blond, or redheaded, tall or short. Is it that hard to understand?

I had good parents. Most of my emotional needs were met. And I was never inappropriately touched.

So what explains me?

The audience of more than 700 sat rapt in the pews of a Fort Lauderdale church. Some held Bibles. Others took notes. Nicolosi went on to tell them that fathers could help their sons stay straight by bonding through rough-and-tumble games, such as tossing them in the air.

"Even if [the dad] drops the kid and he cracks his head, at least he'll be heterosexual," Nicolosi said, chuckling. "A small price to pay."


Sorry to screw with your theories, Dr. Nick, but I played sports. Liked 'em. Still do. I even recall wrestling with my dad a time or two.

You're running out of rationales.

Better said, you're a bigot, er, hatemonger. Your side doesn't mince words, so why should I? Frankly, I'm tired of dealing with small-minded paranoia.

See you at the next Queer Nation rally.

Overheated quote of the day


"I think of Hillary as a lioness protecting children."

--Linda Fairstein, a former New York City prosecutor, quoted in a new campaign video for Clintoness. Excuse me while I throw up.

Democracy in Russia (cont'd)

It hangs by a thread, especially if you're gay.

Riot police broke up an attempt by gays and lesbians to stage Moscow's first gay pride parade Saturday. Gay activists who attempted to lay flowers near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin wall and then assemble across from city hall were heckled and assaulted by skinheads, Orthodox Christians and radical nationalists.

Police said they had arrested about 120 people, both supporters and opponents of the parade. Gay activists were dragged away by riot police when they began speaking to reporters, but opponents of the parade, including a nationalist member of parliament, were allowed to speak and chant, "Moscow is not Sodom." ...

The city had banned the parade on the grounds that it was anathema to the values of most residents and therefore presented a threat of violence. A city court upheld the ban Friday.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said in a radio interview Friday that a gay parade "may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia."

He added: "As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted."

Have you thanked a veteran today?


If not, then do so. It might seem trite, thanking a stranger, but they'll appreciate it. It's the least we can do.

Coming soon from a demagogue representing you

Those big government Republicans are at it again. Now I'm sure the latest anti-flag-burning amendment has nothing to do with an upcoming election, or sponsor Bill Frist's presidential aspirations. No, it's more about stamping out the national epidemic of flag desecration. Everywhere you turn, someone is lighting a match to Old Glory.

Are voters so easily fooled? Certainly they can see through the cynical motives of Frist and the other Republicans. Of all the issues that need addressing, flag burning tops the list? It's an insult to us all, and that includes our soldiers overseas. Wouldn't the Senate's time be better spent on legislation that would facilitate a pay raise for our fighting men and women, or give them the kind of health benefits afforded members of Congress?

No one wants to see the red, white and blue burned, but I guarantee, if this law is passed, you'll see a rise in flag desecration.

One footnote -- an anti-flag burning amendment was approved by the House last year. The bill's sponsor: Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now serving an eight-year prison sentence for accepting $2.4 million in bribes.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Too late

This is why candidates lose elections. Beyond the manufactured polish, spin doctors and focus groups, most voters still respond to authenticity. Sometimes, we even like seeing our politicians pissed off, particularly if their anger is righteous.

If John Kerry had fought back against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the campaign, he might've won. Because he didn't, voters in the middle decided maybe there was some truth in their accusations. Now Kerry is finally fighting back. My question: what took so long? --

Another photograph provides evidence for Mr. Kerry's version of how he won the Bronze Star. And original reports pulled from the naval archives contradict the charge that he drafted his own accounts of various incidents — which left room, the Swift boat group had argued, to embellish them.

Mr. Kerry's defenders have received help from unlikely sources, including some who were originally aligned with the Swift boat group but later objected to its accusations against Mr. Kerry. One of them, Steve Hayes, was an early member of the group. A former sailor, he was a longtime friend and employee of William Franke, one of the group's founders, and he supported the push to have Mr. Kerry release his military files. But Mr. Hayes came to believe that the group was twisting Mr. Kerry's record.

"The mantra was just 'We want to set the record straight,' " Mr. Hayes said this month. "It became clear to me that it was morphing from an organization to set the record straight into a highly political vendetta. They knew it was not the truth." ...

Mr. Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard.

"They lied and lied and lied about everything," Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. "How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?"

I don't know the truth, but I always suspected the Swift Boaters' motives. But their charges stuck because Kerry reacted to them like just another robotic liberal from Massachusetts (see: "If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered ...").

Playing it safe is a recipe for electoral disappointment. You'd think Kerry would've learned to play rough as a "Skull and Bones" alumnus (one lesson George W. actually absorbed).

Bad sign: this is a likely precursor to another Kerry run in 2008. Kerry, Clinton, Gore ... time to MoveOn.

Geeks go to movies

In droves. Then again, what else are they going to do (he says, home alone on a Saturday night)?

"X Men 3: The Last Stand" took in almost $45 million on Friday and landed in the history books. It is now the second highest opener of all time, right behind "Star Wars: Attack of the Sith."

Insiders are predicting that the Brett Ratner directed third episode in the X Men trilogy could do as much as $150 million over the four day Memorial Day weekend. Word of mouth and "tracking" are so strong that "X Men 3," with no real rivals, should shatter all kinds of records by time the numbers are in officially on Tuesday.


I told you so (pardon the arrogance):

Without warning, a confederacy of geeks has taken over the popular culture.

"The Matrix." "X-Men." The latest chapter in the trolls and elves trilogy. This is cinema for the "Dungeons and Dragons" set. Who put the Society for Creative Anachronism (that group you may recall from college, jousting on the lawn in medieval garb shouting "zounds" at each other as they drank from faux goblets) in charge of programming?

Once we mocked nerds. It was tradition. Now we (filmgoers, the flock mentality media) follow their lead.

And the dance continues. I'm just a little too old to be interested in a flick with characters named Magento, Cyclops, Storm and Mystique. That is, I've completed puberty.

Viagra reconsidered

What hath Bob Dole wrought?

Doctors said sexually transmitted diseases among senior citizens are running rampant at a popular Central Florida retirement community, according to a Local 6 News report.

A gynecologist at The Villages community near Orlando, Fla., said she treats more cases of herpes and the human papilloma virus in the retirement community than she did in the city of Miami.

"Yeah, they are very shocked (to hear the diagnosis)," gynecologist Dr. Colleen McQuade said. "I had a patient in her 80s."

"More and more senior citizens are ending up in the gynecologist office, and their diagnosis is a sexually transmitted disease," Local 6 reporter Vanessa Medina said.

Cash quote: "All I can repeat are the things I have heard which are things like, 'Should I bring the little blue pills over tonight?'" community singles group president Richard Matwyshen said.

He's still here

Whatever happened to Tim Roth? Better asked, why aren't more directors taking advantage of a talent far too underused?

I've always been a fan of Roth (who especially shines in "Vincent and Theo"), and I liked him even more when he proved to be a cool guy, in limited interaction, at my former neighborhood pub (where, ironically, I was once gay bashed).

Time for a Tim Roth revival. There shouldn't have ever been the need.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Stop flipping

You come home from a day of work, with another to follow, and turn on the TV looking for a little diversion, which you know is virtually impossible. Proof presents itself when you turn to one of those awful "best ever" shows narrated by some talentless comic you've never heard of. I click over to "The 100 Funniest Movies" and see "Waiting for Guffman" rank 95th. I assume I'm watching some sort of farce, but then I see "Father of the Bride," "Clueless, "Zoolander," "Sister Act" "Half Baked" and "Ghostbusters" listed ahead of "Guffman" (Catherine O'Hara's hair made me laugh more than the other movies combined). Paraphrasing Dr. Jerry Pearl, those flicks are merely observing the class clown. (Soon after I have to endure the writers of "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" and an editor from Teen People comment on the merits of "Team America: World Police.")

No question our culture has lost its sense of humor. I'm told we once had one, but I'm beginning to have my doubts.

I've stopped watching, but I'll wager "Meet the Parents" makes the Top 20, while "Being There" doesn't even place. I shouldn't care, but I enjoy being pissed off.

What can the Power Team leg press?

Photo of the week here. Gotta say I'm truly impressed that Robertson can lift a ton wearing velour pants.

This photo provided by the Christian Broadcasting Network shows religious broadcaster Pat Robertson leg pressing what is claimed to be 2,000 pounds at the fitness center at the Founders Inn on Regent University campus in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 1, 2003. A CBN spokesman claims the photo is from 2003 even though the date stamp on the photo says 8/1/1994.

I propose a pay-per-view event, the Ali vs. Frazier of Christian muscleheads: Robertson vs. the Power Team.

Interesting how insignificant stories like this reveal much about one's true character.

I hate thinking for myself

Can vitriol be captured in a form letter? Focus on the Family, James Dobson's fundamentalist front, proves it can:

We've made it easy for you to compose a letter advocating for the Marriage Protection Amendment -- by pulling together some talking points you can assemble into a completed whole. Just use the tool below to select one paragraph from each of four sections -- be sure to select the one that reflects your own views.

Your own views that we've selected for you. How 'bout a side of Orwell with them eggs?

Paragraph 1:

Option 1: For centuries now, in every civilized culture, marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been the building block of society. But it may not be true in America for long -- unless Congress approves the Marriage Protection Amendment.

Option 2: The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment, and the stakes couldn't be higher for our country and its future generations.

Option 3: Liberals argue that the Marriage Protection Amendment, which would define marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman, would write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Option 4: Marriage has been under attack ever since no-fault divorce laws made it easier for us to discard our husbands and wives. Now, the attack is coming from those who want to open up marriage to same-sex couples -- and only the Marriage Protection Amendment can stop them.

Option 5: Never mind that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose gay marriage. It's perilously close to becoming the law of the land -- unless citizens like us step up and demand our federal lawmakers pass the Marriage Protection Amendment.

And it goes on like this through four paragraphs (20 options). Lobbyists call this "AstroTurfing," an appropriate name since fake grass was an abominable creation, just like this type of manufactured outrage.

Check out a finished product, a total cut and paste job printed in an Oregon newspaper:

Marriage has been under attack ever since no-fault divorce laws made it easier for us to discard our husbands and wives.

Now, the attack is coming from those who want to open up marriage to same-sex couples, and only the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) can stop them.

Opponents of the MPA have asked, "How does one couple's gay marriage threaten anyone's heterosexual marriage?" This question misses the point. The goal of gay activists isn't the individual relationship of any two people; it is the revision of national policy to say that gender, especially in child-rearing, is inconsequential.

Think of the MPA as a shield between our traditional values and radical judges who are intent on forcing their politically correct agenda on our nation. Without that shield, it's only a matter of time until marriage loses all meaning, and social science data indicate children will suffer the most when that happens.

So don't delay, contact Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith today and urge them to support the Marriage Protection Amendment when they vote the first week in June.

David LaLande

Roseburg

Tinkering with a classic

TCM is like an oasis in the muck of cable, one of the few channels the Malcontent wouldn't want to live without. But classy, elegant fare is out, along with any content tailored for a demographic over 30. Coming soon --

(TCM) has hired Rob Zombie to serve as host of a showcase of cult films, starting in October. And it has ordered pilots for two possible new shows. One, called "Idols" (hmmmm), would send a young working actor to shadow and interview an older screen legend. The other, "Take Two," will feature young stars re-enacting a scene from a classic film. The "star" in the pilot? Wilmer Valderrama, redoing part of "The Lost Weekend."

Yeah, he's so good on "That 70s Show" (talk about bad ethnic stereotypes) he can easily fill Ray Milland's shoes. Must the suits fuck up everything?

Howard Cosell, who moonlights from the grave for my Braves blog, touched on this subject in a recent post (referencing FOX's removal of broadcasting legends Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren from the local cable outlet):

Recently, as a study in sociology and pathos, this reporter began immersing himself in the life of the benighted American South, what former president and New Dealer Franklin Delano Roosevelt described as our nation’s No. 1 economic problem.

But wait! If you consider garish strip malls and bland residential subdivisions and office parks progress, then progress is washing all over that region. Indeed, the same lifeless uniformity has sadly seized control of the broadcasts of the region’s oldest big-league sports franchise, the Atlanta Braves. Fox has taken over the colorful if insane maverick Ted Turner’s once spirited television operation and peopled the broadcast booth with non entities who would make the milquetoast Frank Gifford seem positively scintillating. ...

I read that the head of this particular appendage of Murdoch’s media leviathan, one Jeff Genthner, says that "Our talent is going to have a much greater presence. We're going to keep a completely open mind about who's available, who fits with us and, most important, who fits with the fans."

If the fans are a horde of unthinking, incurious drones happy with whatever their media masters spoonfeed them, then the Fox corporate myrmidon Mr. Genthner is indeed delivering a perfect fit.

And yes, he never played the game.

Missing you


Spent half a year in Big Sky, Montana, home of (a) spiritual awakening, of sorts. I'm ready to return.

You might want to skip brunch

And to think, he accumulated this weight without the aid of all-you-can-eat buffets.

If there is a 'face of child obesity', it is six-year-old, 15-stone Dzhambulat Khatokhov. Sheer size has made this boy from a poor Russian family a hero in his home town and an object of fascination in the west ...

Just sitting down in Dzhambulat Khatokhov's house sucks you straight into his empty world. "There is not a single piece of furniture that he has not broken," his mother, Nelya, laments as I perch on a stool barely held together by a quiver of nails.

That's 210 pounds, by the way. And he hasn't even discovered vodka yet.

Worst movie ever

And you thought I was going to say "Steel Magnolias," or "To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar." Or maybe "Patch Adams" (which I've never seen, but reserve the right to bash)? What about "Very Bad Things?"

On a different day, I might have very well listed any of above. Instead, I'm going with the soon-to-be-released Adam Sandler vehicle, "Click." It has all the elements -- Adam Sandler, an outlandish premise (a workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life), a crappy soundtrack ...

And it'll make more in one hour than "Ghost World" ever will.

Have I mentioned that I hate Adam Sandler? Yes, hate is the word I'm looking for here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goofus and Gallant redux

I always feel sorry for Tony Blair at these joint news conferences. He's so damn eloquent and George W. is ... ah, that horse has been bludgeoned well past recognition. Beyond dealing with the various verbal malaprops, the PM has to withstand that overdone Bush jocularity, quite a task for one's stiff upper lip.

Newest addition to the presidential lexicon: suicider.

As in, Mohammed Atta was a suicider.

What's on your tombstone?

While watching another Bette Davis documentary -- established, I'm a total fag for B.D. -- I'm struck by her epitaph, written by "All About Eve" scribe Joe Mankiewiecz: "She did it the hard way." I like.

Some other gravestones worthy of note:

Truth and History.
21 Men.
The Boy Bandit King --
He Died As He Lived.


--William H. Bonney "Billy the Kid"

My Jesus Mercy

--Alphonse Capone

1880 - 1946

--W.C. Fields

The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its Contents turn out
And Stript of its Lettering & Guilding
Lies here. Food for Worms
For, it will as he believed
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
corrected and improved
By the Author


--Benjamin Franklin

I had A Lover's Quarrel With The World

--Robert Lee Frost

Beloved Father

--Bela Lugosi

As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter
by the lives
of folks like you.


--Bonnie Parker

In loving memory from the Family

--Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.


--Oscar Wilde

Can I get off work for this?

Think celebrity worship is an American epidemic? Yeah, so do I. But we're nowhere as bad as Namibians --

Half of Namibians voting in an informal radio survey believe the day Angelina Jolie gives birth should be declared a national holiday, an honour usually reserved for kings, queens and national heroes.

"We have a tie, it's 50-50," the DJ for popular local radio station Radio Wave announced on Tuesday after listeners were asked whether the "Brangelina" baby should be accorded the honour. She said voting was still going on.

Is Taylor Hicks a Republican or Democrat?

Maybe both parties should try to recruit the (shudder) "Soul Patrol." Does this make anyone else fear for the republic?:

More than 63 million votes were cast, "more than any president in the history of our country has received," Seacrest said.

He probably thinks that's a good thing. Apparently another crappy pop star matters more to Americans than selecting a competent POTUS.

Thank you, ex-gay man, may I have another?

Wonder how to cure homosexuality? One ex-queer, now married with three kids, advocates grown men touching each other in an effort to recreate the father-son bond allegedly missing from a patient's childhood.

So if my dad had hugged me more I wouldn't have turned out gay? How very strange. Watch the video here.

Democracy in Russia?

Vladimir Putin's dictatorial impulses shine through again --

Prosecutors are investigating a journalist for publishing an article mocking President. Vladimir Putin over his call to pay Russian women to have more children, an official said Wednesday.

The article was published by Vladimir Rakhmankov, editor of the online newspaper Kursiv in the central city of Ivanovo, said Andrei Galchenko of the regional prosecutor's office.

The piece poked fun at Putin's recent state of the nation address that called for economic incentives to boost the country's plummeting birth rate. Russian media reported that the publication suggested that animals at a local zoo increased their mating, heeding Putin's call.

Rakhmankov could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His article could not be seen, because the Web site has been shut down.

I miss Boris Yeltsin.

Mommy, can I be a slut when I grow up?

Now what am I supposed to get my niece for her birthday?

Hasbro Inc. shelved plans Wednesday to release a line of dolls based on the Pussycat Dolls, an all-female music group known for risque lyrics and skimpy outfits.

Hasbro, the nation's second biggest toy maker, said it decided the dolls were "inappropriate" for the company to market and that the pop group catered to a more mature audience.

The move comes amid criticism from a national advocacy group, Dads & Daughters, that had campaigned against the doll line.

The company had reached a deal with Interscope Records, the group's label, to release dolls modeled after the popular sextet -- whose songs include the hit single, "Don't Cha." But it released a statement Wednesday saying it had abandoned plans for the doll line.

I've got nothing against whores, but should we really be recruiting the next batch at such a young age? Glad Hasbro won't be a pawn in that soulless crusade.

Media sensation of the week

Ever notice how Washington elites always seem to lose their shit over celebs? Just look how they swooned over Bono -- even Sonny Bono.

Interesting that onetime punchline Al Gore is all the sudden back in vogue again now that he's headlining a documentary about global warming. Everywhere you read there's someone else positing that Gore should run in '08. Who says you can't buy good press?

Gore has a certain aura of nobility about him these days—a mixture of rue, acceptance and lofty goals that makes him almost, well, endearing. As I talked to him at the East Coast premiere of the documentary film about him (“An Inconvenient Truth”), I wondered whether his newfound sense of peace and purpose meant that he had given up the idea of ever running for president again—or whether that is precisely what, in an indirect, Zen-like way, he’s doing. My answer to my question: he’s available if fate decides to befriend him.

Perhaps the pundits are forgetting that -- with a robust economy on his side, and a weak opponnent -- Gore still lost to Bush in 2000. Regardless of how it ended, the real point is that it should have never been that close.

But I hope Gore does run again, if only for the soap operatic elements to be found in a match-up against Hillary. Much has been written about the frosty relationship between the Clintons and Gores, and the latter may be the only one with the (alleged) gravitas to stand up to the senator from New York.

Of course, neither would make the best candidate, but when has that ever mattered before? It might even make for a decent movie.

Jesus is his spotter

Hard to believe, but some people are skeptical about Pat Robertson's claim that he can leg press 2,000 pounds.

That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?

But is deception a sin when you're trying to sell protein shakes? Gray area.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

There go those "Bonnie and Clyde" royalties

If you ask me, Faye Dunaway -- now 64 -- was the last iconic Hollywood actress, equally capable as an ingenue or shrew. Few leading ladies -- past and definitely not present -- can match her resume (namely, "Chinatown" and "Network").

Sad that she's unable to age gracefully. To be honest, I'm frightened.

"I'll just die if I don't get that recipe."

Don't trust Art critics

I had been anxiously anticipating "Art School Confidential" for months, then I read all the bad reviews and feared the worst. But today I decided to show faith in the makers of "Ghost World" and was rewarded. Pacified, at the very least.

Does it rank with Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff's first collaboration? Not even close, but is it fair to compare any movie to "Ghost World?"

Tonally, there's little different. I laughed out loud plenty. But the main character wasn't that compelling, nor was his love interest. And the murder subplot was pretty unnecessary.

It's cheap asking creative minds to repeat themselves, but "Art School" could've used Enid Coleslaw's POV. Still, you'll find more cleverly barbed observations here than in every movie featuring an SNL alum (excluding Bill Murray) put together.

The tepid response to "Art School" proves you don't get points for originality in this culture, even from people who allegedly know better (the local paper actually gave "RV" a better rating).

The Malcontent grade: B

The outsider

I've heard pained explanations of misbegotten youth before, but U.S. Sen. George Allen's attempt to dismiss his tattered love affair with Confederate imagery takes top prize --

"I was a maverick, I was anti-establishment ... I didn't fit in."

--From MSNBC's "Hardball."

Yeah, it ain't easy making friends when you're the frat boy son of a famous NFL football coach. Must've been real lonely for him. Who can blame young George for seeking comfort from the Stars and Bars?

Shoot first, screw the questions

The gun nuts have won.

Is there even any debate over gun laws anymore? A dead issue, unfortunately, as Democrats, convinced its an argument that can't be won, have dropped it faster than they ditched Mike Dukakis.

Too bad, since I think there's a consensus in this country for sensible weapons control. Doesn't look like we'll ever get it --

A campaign by gun rights advocates to make it easier to use deadly force in self-defense is rapidly winning support across the country, as state after state makes it legal for people who feel their lives are in danger to shoot down an attacker -- whether in a car-jacking or just on the street.

Ten states so far this year have passed a version of the law, after Florida was the first last year. It's already being considered in Arizona in the case of a deadly shooting on a hiking trail.

The campaign is simply about self-defense, said Oklahoma state Rep. Kevin Calvey, a Republican and author of the law in his state. "Law-abiding citizens aren't going to take it anymore," he said.

"It's going to give the crooks second thoughts about carjackings and things like that. They're going to get a face full of lead," Calvey said. He introduced the bill at the request of the local National Rifle Association, and it passed with overwhelmingly support: The House agreed 83-4, the Senate 39-5.

Democratic Gov. Brad Henry signed it and said: "This act will allow law-abiding Oklahomans to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property."

Besides Oklahoma, the nine other states to sign on are Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Dakota, according to the NRA.

One upside: maybe NRA support will finally level off. Hard for them to maintain the argument that the government is coming after your guns with news like this.

Death threats: the hot new religious trend

And it's not just for radical Islamists and Pat Roberston anymore --

Some Indian Christians are so incensed with the fictional blockbuster "The Da Vinci Code" they want the government to ban it and one Roman Catholic has offered a bounty of $25 000 on the head of author Dan Brown ...

Fortunately, the the idea of a bounty was roundly criticized within the Catholic community. Robertson, however, said he found the idea "intriguing" (kidding).

"Offering bounty for the head of the author is a Taliban-like response," Kay Benedict, a Catholic journalist, told ENI. With their protests, he said, Catholics have ensured "more than enough publicity" for the movie in India. "The Christian faith is 2000 years old and it is not so fragile as to be destroyed by a single movie."

Now she gets it. No way to prove this, but I'd be willing to bet the worldwide religious condemnation of "Da Vinci" has boosted its profits by a good third.

I like you

An invitation I wished I had received:

Kazakhstan Ministry of Information

Present You Invite to special screening of:

BORAT

CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA

FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION

OF KAZAKHSTAN


Borat, of course, is the creation of Sascha Baron Cohen (of "Da Ali G Show" fame). Will the act wear thin over 90 minutes on the big screen? No chance, based on this preview --

The plot, such as it is, involves Borat and his sidekick Azamat (a surreal performance by little-known character actor Ken Davitian) traveling to New York and then across the United States, filming all their adventures.

The Russian satellite country of Kazakhstan (Romania was used as a stand in), already unhappy with Cohen because of the "Da Ali G Show," is so thoroughly and hilariously trashed in this movie that even shuttle diplomacy may not undo the international damage.

Borat, for example, travels with live chickens in his suitcase, and routinely refers to the "town rapist" while his shrew of a wife threatens to kill him if he doesn’t come home.

But there are also some sequences that will defy censors, including one extended bit in which Borat and Azamat (sounds like HAZMAT), his sidekick — a thick eyebrowed sort of Sancho Panza with breasts larger than Pamela Anderson’s — wrestle nude in their hotel room.

The wildly explicit, freaky mayhem spills out in the hotel elevator and then down onto the stage of a conference of insurance underwriters.

The spectacle of Borat — a tall, lanky man, locked in hairy embrace with Azamat in front of several hundred straight-laced businessmen in blue blazers — may present to the MPAA its most confounding challenge ever about to rate a film for public consumption. The scenes are more disturbing than the end of "Hannibal."

Anderson, by the way, becomes the Holy Grail of "Borat," and it’s hard to say whether she is in on the joke or not. I suspect she is not, as Borat’s journey across America to meet her is a sly and disturbing take on celebrity stalking that should only make personal bodyguards become more popular.

Armed with a picture book about "Baywatch," Borat is determined to meet the object of his fantasies.

When he does, all hell breaks loose as he literally throws a burlap sack over Anderson’s head and carries her away from a book signing.

I can't wait. Now how 'bout giving gay Austrian "Bruno" a movie of his own?

Today's quote

In keeping with the religious theme of recent posts ...

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

-- Voltaire (1694-1778)

Don't ask, he won't tell


As per a FOX/American Idol directive this afternoon, entertainment journalists covering the AI finale are being instructed that any attempt to question or solicit comment from Clay Aiken regarding his recent scandal will result in their being barred from the finale.

This sounds like a job for someone who has no interest in the finale.

Christian rock hard

Does your exercise regimen need a boost? Wish you could leg-press 2,000 pounds?

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman (cozying up to brutal dictators like Charles Taylor while advocating the assassination of others, such as Hugo Chavez)?

One of Pat's secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.

So Robertson claims he can leg-press 1600 pounds more than former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Maybe she should try Pat's protein shake, endorsed by Jesus himself.

1 + 1 = 3

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, has worked aggressively to spread this message. "The kingdom has reviewed all of its education practices and materials, and has removed any element that is inconsistent with the needs of a modern education," he said on a recent speaking tour to several U.S. cities. "Not only have we eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance from old textbooks that were in our system, we have implemented a comprehensive internal revision and modernization plan."

True? Not exactly. Check out some of the admonitions still found in Saudi teaching materials --

FIRST GRADE

"Every religion other than Islam is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."

FOURTH GRADE

"True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."

FIFTH GRADE

"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."

"It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."

"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."

SIXTH GRADE

"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."

EIGHTH GRADE

"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

"God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did."

"They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them]."

"Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God."

NINTH GRADE

"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."

"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him."

TENTH GRADE

The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:

"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."

ELEVENTH GRADE

"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."

"If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims."

"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."

TWELFTH GRADE

"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

So how's that battle for Arab hearts and minds going?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

As long as we got each other

Praise be Olifant -- the vodka of Holland -- for steering me to the made-for-bad-TV movie, "Left Behind," based on the popular series of fundamentalist books chronicling the world's end. And to think, minus tonight's alcohol intake, I would've missed out on the Christian version of "Valley of the Dolls" (a backhanded compliment, but a compliment nonetheless).

While there's no scenes of a young Patty Duke wandering drunk through the streets of New York, bemoaning the influence of "boobies," you do get to witness Kirk Cameron potray a crusading journalist/savior of all mankind. The Malcontent camp scale rates them evenly.

Still, as hard as the son of Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns tries, he's no match for the Antichrist, an effete Russian named Nikolai whose affected accent veers wildly between bad Slavic and even worse French. His chief ally: the United Nations, the Christian right's favorite punching bag. Sure, they can't feed the hungry, or organize against consensus fascists, but somehow, one day, the UN will help facilitate world domination. I guess prophecy doesn't have to make sense.

Cash quote, from one of the film's heroes: "We must not let closed-minded religious fanatics divide us anymore."

Never underestimate the power of metaphor.

America, heck ya!

Considering the cause -- providing college scholarships for the children of soldiers killed in battle -- I hope the "Freedom Concert" is a huge success. But I can't think of anywhere I'd rather not be.

The roster: Hank Williams, Jr, and Lee Greenwood

The hosts: Sean Hannity and Oliver North


Although I wouldn't mind running the concession selling tacky American flag shirts.

America, fuck ya!

I'm not really into modern country, so I can't give you an opinion on the Dixie Chicks' music. As for their politics, I could care less, although I have some admiration for anyone willing to sacrifice profit for principle (grandstanding aside).

As they did back in 2003 -- when Natalie Maines told a London audience she was ashamed to be from the same state as George W. -- country stations are refusing to play the trio's allegedly provocative new album (when did Nashville turn into Riyadh?)

Cash quote: The program director at KUBL/KKAT in Salt Lake City told Billboard he was angered by its "self-indulgent and selfish lyrics."

I'm guessing Toby Keith hasn't been banned from the Salt Lake station. Check out these lyrics from his 2005 song, "As Good As I Once Was."

I ain't as good as I once was

Thats just the cold hard truth

I still throw a few back, talk a little smack

When I'm feelin bullet proof

So don't double dog dare me now

'Cause I'd have to call your bluff

I ain't as good as I once was

But I'm as good once as I ever was

Maybe not be good as I once was

But I'm as good once as I ever was

Is that humble enough for Utah?

Self-important quote of the day

From USA TODAY --

"As a gay man who some people think ought to be cured and made normal again ... this story has an important message for young people who may feel disaggected. If there's one kid somewhere who's been bullied or despised, who feels more at east because the Mutants stick up for themselves, it will have been worthwhile."

That's Sir Ian McKellen discussing his newest film, the second sequel in the "X-Men" series. Just cash the check, Ian, and stop trying to covince people there's meaning in a movie featuring action figures you can purchase at a fast food restaurant.

More cartoon mayhem

The Iranian government has closed one of the country's top three newspapers, detaining its editor and cartoonist, for publishing a caricature that caused members of Iran's Azeri minority to riot in protest.

The cartoon, printed last Friday, provoked large disturbances in Tabriz, the capital of eastern Azerbaijan province, yesterday. Police fired tear-gas as rioters smashed windows of the local governor's office.

According to one Azeri website, "some 200 persons were arrested, over 50 severely injured and at least four persons have lost their lives" during the disturbance.


As you'd expect, the punishment for offending religious sensibilities in Iran is severe:

Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said the paper's cartoonist and editor-in-chief had been detained.

"Those responsible, the cartoonist and the chief editor, were summoned and the charges were read to them. The two were taken to Evin prison," Mortazavi said. Culture minister Saffar Harrandi apologized for the cartoon yesterday and promised to punish the editor and cartoonist.

My assumption: the cartoonist and editor will never be seen alive again.

Jesus for governor

Guess he's not that hot about the U.S. Senate candidacy of Katherine Harris. But, according to one pastor, Jesus has already cast his vote in the state's gubernatorial primary. Big surprise -- he's backing a Republican ...

A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Rev. O'Neal Dozier said that before the dream he did not know Crist, nor had Crist made known his plans to run for governor.

"The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said 'There's something I want you to know,'" said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.'"

Since then, Dozier has spent time with Crist and talked with him at length about policy. He told the group that Crist would be uncompromising in his Christian faith.

"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said.

Crist's first words were, "Well, as they say, the praise doesn't get any higher."

Perhaps Jesus was feeling left out, jealous of Mohammed's vast political influence. More to the point, it seems as if Christians are jealous of the vast political influence of their Muslim counterparts.

It's like Hank Hill said after attending a Christian rock concert: "You aren't making Christianity better, you're just making rock and roll worse." Just substitute "politics" for "rock and roll" and the point stands.

The excitment is numbing

So I hear Tito Jackson say Tuesday night's "American Idol" will feature the "faceoff of the century." Shouldn't I be more excited?

I've overheard enough -- a commercial or two, inane office chatter, etc. -- to know I want the chick to win. Is she talented? No idea. But I'd rather not have another eager-to-please, too earnest by half Southern boy thrust in my face.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The chairman of the bored

If the dead have any influence, then I assume -- maybe pray is a better word -- that Sinatra will be sending one of his old Jersey pals to visit the self-identified "King of Blue-Eyed Soul" (did you hear that, Michael McDonald?):

Bolton Swings Sinatra --

Michael Bolton pays tribute to Frank Sinatra on this 12 song collection. Also features special guest Nicollette Sheridan for a duet on "The Second Time Around."

I'm sure the duet will be a fitting valentine to Francis Albert. Where's Lucky Luciano when you need him?

Malcontented in Frogtown

Good writers eavesdrop. That's why Markie Post, aka Candice Dyer, is one of the best:

I was just exposed to one of the most obnoxious conversations I've ever been forced -- by dint of shrill, nasal voices -- to overhear. I was at a restaurant in Clarkesville. One table consisted of a Florida couple looking for mountain real estate; the other gave elbow room to some hyper-manicured, tanning bed-cured, bejeweled female Gainesville Realtors with homes on Lake Lanier. A toxic cocktail waiting to happen.

(First I want to know: when will the gay hairdresser of these Realtor women get the balls to inform them that the layered, feathered, poufy look -- in a carapace of Final Net hairspray -- has not been in vogue since circa 1982? But I'm being catty.)

Anyway, the Realtor table hooted and talked loudly about Nancy Schaefer, who would gleefully have all gays, people with melanin, and opinionated women (herself excluded, of course) shot on sight. Then they proceeded to advise this Florida couple to buy real estate in Gainesville only. "It's the best place on Earth!" one of them crooned. "There is everything you could ever want there!"

Then the other added, "If you buy in one of the other counties -- White, Lumpkin, or Habersham -- well... there are a lot of (at this, her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, as if she were about to say "negroes" or "cancer") REDNECKS in those places."

"Yeah, like you're a Noel Coward play, lady," I was about to chime in, thinking that money is wasted on the tasteless wealthy.

I thought I'd find an ally in my pock-marked, gay waiter, but he was too focused on his tip to pay me any attention when I told him the Realtor table was being too loud.

I figured it was karma for me. Many is the time that such people have cleared out when I've talked effusively about oral sex from a harelip. Payback is hell.


EDITORS NOTE: Having spent my high school years in Gainesville, I can attest that the "Poultry Capital of the World" is far from being the best place on Earth, unless you're fond of smelling processed chicken.

Cry me a Jersey river

I've never been a fan of "gay American" Jim McGreevey, the disgraced former governor of New Jersey who played the queer card once he got into trouble for hiring a unqualified former beau to head the state's homeland security department.

Now McGreevey -- a father of two -- is coming out of the closet for cash, receiving $500,000 to tell his story, which at first glance appears to be in line with his self-serving reputation.

The newly released book excerpts do not mention the former aide whom sources close to McGreevey have identified as the man with whom he had an extramarital affair.

Nor do the excerpts detail his two marriages, or even the scandal that became public knowledge during an Aug. 12, 2004, televised news conference, in which McGreevey acknowledged a gay affair and said he would resign.

But the book is thick with salacious detail -- such as his anonymous trysts at Garden State rest areas, just the kind of thing a kid wants to be reading about their dad. Of course I'm sure McGreevey will be applauded as courageous for detailing his painful struggle with homosexuality.

Certainly I can empathize, but I've heard -- and lived -- that tale before. I might be more interested if McGreevey didn't use his sexual orientation as an excuse for his misconduct while in office, like choosing cronyism over New Jersey's security. Deal with that, and maybe I'll give him the sympathy he so obviously craves.

Quote of the day

"When people hear Paris Hilton, they don’t think of a hotel or some crummy city in Europe. They think of my daughter."

--Paris' father, Rick Hilton. Obviously the apple fell very near that tree.

I can see your strech marks, m'lady

How does an old Anglophile hag like Madonna keep people paying attention to her increasingly tired act? (Remember, she doesn't have creativity to fall back on):

Later on, she donned a crown of thorns and suspended herself from a giant mirrored cross to deliver the ballad "Live to Tell." Video screens showed images of third-world poverty and reeled off grim statistics.

During one of her half-dozen costume changes, another video montage juxtaposed images of Bush, members of his administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair with footage of Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Midway through the new song "I Love New York," she deviated from the script and made a crude reference to Bush and oral sex.

The audience included Madonna's Kabbalah guru Rabbi Yehuda Berg, noted anorexic Nicole Richie and Rosie O'Donnell, who, according to the Reuters story, upgraded herself to a premium seat on the floor and left her spouse alone in the stands.

And O'Donnell is described as a "gay icon." Again, why wasn't I consulted on this?

No doubt senior -- as in citizen -- MTV correspondent Kurt Loder was somewhere amongst the throng, busy thumping his tired old organ as he basked in the glory that is Madonna: "So brave, so visionary, so better than the rest of us ... "

Give me Petula Clark any day.

Hate the sin, love the sinner

I've heard that cliche many times, only in person, though, never in movies or on TV. Little surprise I finally catch it being used on "The Sopranos." No one's got an ear for the culture -- East Coast, West Coast, North and South -- quite like David Chase.

And didn't that pay off last night? Best "Sopranos" in recent memory, expertly done throughout, from the barbed juxtaposition of Tony in Jersey to Carmela -- looking quite fetching -- in Paris to the final shot of a trimmed down Vito. And the scene where Vito's kids read their father's obit was stunning.