Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Take on the Nefarious Menace of the Marijuana!

I have only just this week gotten around to reading the beautiful book The Best of Simon and Kirby, which features some absolutely amazing comic book artwork by two masters of the form, originally published in comics dated from 1940 to 1966. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

For the artwork.

The stories are a little -- dated, in places. Simplistic. Sometimes embarrassingly propagandistic. Such as one of the "Crime Drama" pieces, titled "Trapping New England's Chain Murderer!" This story of a serial killer of women published in May 1947 has some truly riveting and visceral artwork. However, it's in the service of a laughable message about the dangers of falling victim to the marijuana. Check out the last page:


"I killed 'em all!! When I don't get a reefer, I go crazy.... crazy!"

That was the government's line. Reefer makes you into a crazed, well, chain murderer.

It's interesting that the comics toed this line about the dangers of the marijuana (and Simon and Kirby's story was not exactly the only comic warning about the dangers of reefer), yet that wasn't enough to prevent the government going after them. As Mark Evanier notes in the introduction to the "Crime Drama" section,

The Kefauver Commission -- helmed by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, who hoped to ride it all the way to the White House -- saw the gunplay and saw the blood, and that was enough for them, especially since the entire industry was suspect.

From out of that senate committee investigating comic books (!) came the comics code, which did a pretty effective job of neutering comics content up into the early 80s.

Of course, comics today are propaganda-free, as artists exercise their expanded freedom of expression to write stories that challenge authority and the status-quo.

New Posting at When Falls the Coliseum

I was inspired by the fact that Dr Phil came out against the game FarmVille, and shared a little insight into my own life here.

It's funny I think!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure that Lady GaGa is Living the Life I was Supposed to Live

She's rich, she's famous, and she creates dumb but impossibly catchy songs that even hipster doofuses like.

And now, as if that wasn't enough... She had an affair with Angelina Jolie?
According to Ian Halperin, author of the recent bestseller Brangelina: The Untold Story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the Tomb Raider star might have cheated on partner Brad Pitt with Love Game singer Lady GaGa.

Jolie — who is openly bisexual — and GaGa — a rumored hermaphrodite — had a secret rendez vous at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel that lasted all night, Halperin alleges.

“Angie is obsessed with Lady Gaga,” a source said.
And what is sex with Ms. Jolie like? Well, in an interview with something called InTouch, a housekeeper offers the following insights:
Anna Kowalski, a housekeeper who worked extensively with the family on their numerous visits to the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, says she walked into Jolie’s room and saw Jolie’s bed strewn with sex toys.

“The room was a disaster,” Anna revealed. “There was water all over the bathroom and empty vodka bottles everywhere. Every towel had been used. And over five dozen cattleya orchids were scattered around the room, and there were the tops of the flowers in the tub, with candles.

“The bed was covered with black rubber sheets, and there were sex toys on it.”
Water all over the bathroom (where was all the water? in the bathtub? in the toilet bowl? where else would it be?), vodka bottles, flowers in the tub (how romantic!) and rubber sheets. That sounds pretty exciting.

There is no doubt in my mind -- Lady GaGa is living the life I was supposed to live.

This woman is living my life.

Lady GaGa pic source.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My First Post at When Falls the Coliseum -- Promiscuity Only Sex Education

I'll be posting occasionally at a website called "When Falls the Coliseum," which is well worth your time even if you don't go there to check out my stuff, although you'd be foolish not to mosey on over and check out my heartfelt piece on promiscuity-only sex education.

There is also a particularly goony-looking photo of me. When did I get so, um, interesting looking?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Vacation from Whipping Yourself

If you think the former Pope John Paul II took a vacation from whipping himself with a belt, the Associated Press will disabuse you of that particular misapprehension with a single paragraph:
Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading his sainthood case.
That's right. Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt -- even on vacation! He didn't let a trip to the beach, or Disneyland, or what have you, get in the way of his particular brand of self-abuse.

"Hey, Pope, slow down! Put the belt away! You're on vacation!"

"That doesn't mean I can't -- ouch! -- bring myself closer to Christian perfection -- ouch!"

The Polish prelate's book has the charmingly unambiguous title "Why He's a Saint," and the whipping himself and sleeping on the floor (hey! I do that too, sometimes!) are only two of the reasons why John Paul II should be sainted.
The book also reported for the first time that John Paul forgave his would-be assassin in the ambulance on the way to the hospital moments after he was shot on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. And it reported that he initially thought his attacker was a member of the Italian terrorist organization the Red Brigades.
This raises the question: Once he found out that it wasn't a member of the Italian terrorist organization, did the Pope retract his forgiveness?

But that's beside the point. We get a few more paragraphs down the AP story, and we're hit with this:
In the book, [Monsignor Slawomir] Oder wrote that John Paul frequently denied himself food — especially during the holy season of Lent — and "frequently spent the night on the bare floor," messing up his bed in the morning so he wouldn't draw attention to his act of penitence.
First of all, we're not told exactly how much food the Pope denied himself (I guess we have to buy the book to find out). If it was a lot of food, like a buffet, maybe I'd be impressed. Then again, I get grumpy when I don't get my nightly serving of foie gras. But check out the last bit of that quote. It turns out, there are no witnesses to the Pope's floor-sleeping! He messed up his sheets so as to not draw attention to the fact (?) that he'd slept on the floor all night.

And if he wasn't trying to draw attention to it -- how did anyone find out about it?

Maid: "Pope, your bed is so messy!"

Pope: "Uh, yeah... because I slept in it... I didn't sleep on the floor as an act of self-denial. I slept on the bed, and really messed it up."

If he really wanted to throw them off, he should have peed on the bed.

Come to think of it, why did anyone know about the Pope's self-whipping? Did he do that out in public? The sleeping on the floor is too much, I don't want to overwhelm everyone with my amazing self-sacrifice, I'll just pretend like I actually spent the night in my warn and downy-soft bed. But the whipping myself with a belt... that I can do at the beach.

By all means, saintify this man.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jay Leno and the White House Correspondents Dinner Conspiracy Theory-- How Far Does it Go?

Things are looking down for Barack Obama right now. In Massachusetts, voters elected their first republican senator since 1972, at least partly as a rebuke of Obama's agenda.
Just what squeamish Democrats signaling they are ready to punt on health care reform didn’t need to hear: A brand new post-election poll of Massachusetts voters shows two-thirds of the respondents say their vote was in part to send the message that they oppose the Democratic agenda.

(Also, it didn't help that the democrat who ran for that seat was a total scumbag).

Obama's approval numbers are way down.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19.
Another poll shows that "health care reform" is also unpopular.
[P]olling released earlier today shows that 61% of voters nationwide want Congress to drop the health care plan and focus on the economy and jobs.
The final tracking numbers indicate that public expectations for the legislation fell sharply following Tuesday’s Senate vote in Massachusetts. Prior to Republican Scott Brown’s stunning victory in that overwhelmingly Democratic state, 70% of voters nationwide said it was at least somewhat likely the legislation would pass. Polling on Wednesday and Thursday nights found that number had fallen to 42% while 50% said it was unlikely to pass.
Can things get any worse for the president? Yes, they can! Because he has chosen Jay Leno, so widely-reviled by the media and the twitterverse, to perform at a ridiculous event called "The White House Correspondents Dinner."
Timing is everything. Unfortunately, the White House's stinks.

How else to explain why President Obama's crew thought it would be a good idea to enlist Jay Leno—the reigning Most Hated Man in Prime Time Late Night—as the emcee of this year's White House Correspondents Association dinner?

Granted, the organization made the decision to hire the comic several weeks ago, when CoCo fever hadn't even started, let alone reached fever pitch. And the group no doubt felt it was making a moderately safe and relatively under-the-radar choice with Leno, a comic who, up until a couple weeks ago, didn't have a controversial bone in his body.
Everyone knows the cool kids are on "Team Coco"!


Neither the president nor Oprah Winfrey is on "Team Coco."

All the cool kids except Oprah Winfrey, that is:
Jay Leno is set to appear on'The Oprah Winfrey Show' next Thursday in a one-on-one interview, according to a report in Entertainment Weekly.
...
Leno and Winfrey are friends so he can expect few, if any, pressing questions -- just air time to polish his image.
I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I have a conspiracy theory about this. As the E! online article (which is pretty poorly written, actually... do they have editors over there?) states, the decision to use Mr. Leno was probably made awhile ago. They can't back out of it now, even though the cool kids are on "Team Coco," as I've already said. So, Mr. Obama goes to his good friend and campaigner Ms. Winfrey and asks her to help this Leno guy rehabilitate himself in time for the correspondents dinner thing.


Jay Leno has friends in high places-- like the presidency.

Also, Mr. Leno has been a "good soldier" for NBC, which is (for now at least) owned by GE. The CEO of GE is Jeff Immelt. Jeff Immelt is a member of Mr. Obama's economic advisory board:
President Barack Obama has named Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of NBC Universal parent GE, to his new economic advisory board.

The new board is modeled on the foreign intelligence advisory board created under President Dwight Eisenhower, according to the White House, and will "provide an independent voice on economic issues and will be charged with offering independent advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery."
This is clearly a massive conspiracy involving the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the most popular woman on television, the head of a huge megaconglomerate, and the host of a prime time and soon to be late night talk show.

It's also telling that, in an age where the president has criticized "shameful" bonuses doled out on Wall Street, Mr. Obama has remained silent on Mr. O'Brien's huge payday. The implication of this is clear: Let's just shut Mr. O'Brien up, get him out of the way, and let Mr. Leno take over the show again.

Can it be a coincidence that the supreme court just announced that they are striking down some "campaign finance laws"?

This is clearly an abuse of power meant to rehabilitate the image of Jay Leno. "Team Coco" hasn't got a chance! From now on, the only job Mr. O'Brien will be able to get will be doing dinner theater performances of my own play, "The Swedish Catamite," at Shakey's pizza.

Casting now, by the way!

Team Coco pic source.
Jay Leno pic source.

Friday, January 22, 2010

John Edwards is the Ultimate Politician

John Edwards, motherf*cker, is in Haiti. Because, you know, he really cares about poverty and misery and all that and he just wants to help people. His selfless trip has nothing to do with trying to divert attention away from the fact that he is now admitting that he fathered a child with the woman he denied having an affair with.
Former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards arrived in Haiti Thursday to distribute aid to earthquake victims. But his good intentions will not be enough to overshadow the latest twist in the scandal that ruined his political career.
The quote is the first paragraph from the cbsnews.com story linked above. Did you catch the enabling, sleazy line the author of the story dropped in there? If not, I highlighted it for you. Because it's just so subtle.

John Edwards's "good intentions." After everything this motherf*cker has done, how oh how can anyone accuse him of having "good intentions"?

That "latest twist in the scandal that ruined his political career" is the admission that he is the father of Reille Hunter's child. The article chops up Edwards's statement:
"I am Quinn's father," the former senator declared in his statement, as the second birthday of Frances Quinn Hunter approaches.
...
In the statement Edwards released Thursday, he said, "I will do everything in my power to provide her (Frances) with the love and support she deserves. I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace."

Edwards also said, "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."

"I have been providing financial support for Quinn and have reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future," the statement said. "To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."
Lest we forget, it's not merely that Edwards denied he was the father of this girl. He also cheated on his wife when she was sick with cancer, and apparently told Ms. Hunter that they'd have a great wedding, with the Dave Matthews Band, when his wife finally kicked off.

He also convinced a campaign aide to claim that he was actually the father of Ms. Hunter's child:
A former Edwards aide, Andrew Young, initially claimed paternity of the child shortly before the 2008 presidential primary contests began. Young is scheduled to release a book on Feb. 2 that details the scandal.
...
In an excerpt of an ABC News interview released Thursday, Young says that Edwards asked him to arrange a fake paternity test.

"Get a doctor to fake the DNA results," Young said Edwards told him. "And he asked me ... to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this (was) indeed his child."
(How does the "will-you-get-a-doctor-to-fake-a-paternity-test-for-me" conversation start?

Edwards: Hey, Andy, you heard the new Dave Matthews CD? It really grooves.
Young: Yeah, it's good.
Edwards: By the way, uh, could you find a doctor who can fake a paternity test for me?)

There's also the fact that he is under investigation for using campaign funds (you know, money that people donated to his campaign for president, for crying out loud) to pay for Ms. Hunter to keep her damn mouth shut while he tried to win the democrat nomination.

John Edwards is a motherf*cker. But how unpopular is he? The Huffington Post has a story up about that very topic, headlined "John Edwards Now Most Unpopular Figure Anywhere, Anytime: Pollster."
How unpopular is John Edwards? Though it seems obvious, the findings of a new poll on the former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards are still startling if only for the reflection of how far he has fallen in the world of public opinion.

The North Carolina Democrat is viewed positively by only 15 percent of voters in his home state, according to the firm Public Policy Polling. That total makes Edwards the "most unpopular person we've polled anywhere at any time," conclude the survey's authors.

He's still seen positively by 25% of Democrats but only 9% of independents and 3% of Republicans. Interestingly despite his new image as a philanderer men have a more unfavorable opinion of him (75%) than women (68%).
Wait-- what?

After everything John Edwards has done, he's still seen positively by 25% of democrats, 9% of independents, and 3% of republicans? 15% of voters in North Carolina have a positive view of him? His "unfavorables" among men are 75% and among women 68%?

Whaaaaaaaatttttttt?????? How could anyone have a "favorable" view of this motherf*cker? What do you have to do to skeeve out those 32% of women who don't have an unfavorable view of this guy?


John Edwards is the ultimate politician.

(Then again, Scott Peterson was surprisingly popular with the ladies, even after being convicted of murdering his wife.)

Anyway, what John Edwards did was not much different from what all politicians do. He just did it bigger.

All politicians use their families for political gain. Remember when Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace prize, and he said,
"This is not how I expected to wake up this morning," Obama quipped later. "After I received the news, [daughter] Malia walked in and said, 'Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is [family dog] Bo's birthday.' "
Ha, ha. See how he subtly used his daughter to show that even though he's the president and winner of this big prestigious prize, he's still got a child who isn't all that impressed with his accomplishments-- just like normal folks!

Politicians take their kids with them on the road for campaign stops all the time. The kids are props used to trick people into believing politicians are "human." Edwards used his kids for political gain, as well. But he did it bigger:
Edwards had told [John] Kerry [2004 democrat presidential candidate] he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else—that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before—and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn't pick Edwards unless he met with him again.
Edwards used his dead son for political gain.

Politicians use their wives, too. You know, to show that even though they're politicians, somebody actually loves them, and, of their own free will, actually spends time with them. Even the last president, GW Bush, had a wife, who for whatever reason thought enough of him to go out and campaign for him in 2004:
Mrs. Bush is hitting the road these days, already putting in long hours on the campaign trail.

The Bush campaign sees the first lady as a major asset, and officials say they plan to use her to woo independent voters in key swing states — like Arkansas, the first stop on her latest trip.

Laura Bush's style is low key, and, as a former schoolteacher, she usually emphasizes noncontroversial education issues.
John Edwards also used his wife. But again, he did it bigger.


Edwards used his wife's cancer for political gain.

Politicians use diversionary tactics to distract from their own loathsome behavior. When Bill Clinton was being grand-juried over the whole "Monica Lewinsky scandal," it suddenly became very important for him to appear, you know, presidential. So he bombed a pharmaceutical factory:
Sources in U.S. Intelligence apparently claimed that there was only one "window" through which to strike at bin Laden, and that the only time they could hope to hit his Afghan fastness by this remote means was on the night of Monica Lewinsky's return to the grand jury.
Edwards doesn't have the benefit of the power to bomb people. (Can you imagine if Edwards had actually won the presidency? Think about that-- John Edwards might be president right now-- or at least vice president!) But what he does have is a massive earthquake that has caused a humanitarian crisis in Haiti. So he released a statement saying that he is the father of that baby for whom he denied responsibility for so long, on the day he flew to Haiti to hand out some water bottles and display his "good intentions."

Edwards used an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, and left hundreds of thousands without homes, for political gain.

John Edwards is the ultimate politician. He does it all bigger.


What The Ultimate Warrior was to professional wrestling is what John Edwards is to politics. He used all of the skills and cunning of his chosen profession to rise to the top, but burned too brightly, too quickly, and flamed out spectacularly.

Edwards pic source.
Ultimate Warrior pic source.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No, "Avatar" Did Not "Kill a Guy"

Supposedly, a Taiwanese man died while watching the movie "Avatar." Here's one report from Yahoo!7 Movies:
TAIPEI (AFP) - 42-year-old Taiwanese man with a history of high blood pressure has died of a stroke likely triggered by over-excitement from watching the blockbuster Avatar in 3D, a doctor says.

The man, identified only by his surname Kuo, started to feel unwell during the screening earlier this month in the northern city of Hsinchu and was taken to hospital.

Kuo, who suffered from hypertension, was unconscious when he arrived at the Nan Men General Hospital and a scan showed that his brain was haemorrhaging, emergency room doctor Peng Chin-chih said on Tuesday.

"It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms," he told AFP.

Kuo died 11 days later from the brain haemorrhage, and the China Times newspaper said it was the first death linked to watching James Cameron's science-fiction epic Avatar.

Film blogging sites have reported complaints of headaches, dizziness, nausea and blurry eyesight from viewers of Avatar and other movies rich in 3D imagery.
Hmmm. "Identified only by his surname Kuo," huh? Here is another report of the alleged incident, from News.com.au. I won't bother copying and pasting it in my blog because it is word-for-word exactly the same as the report I copied and pasted above. Ditto the story as it appears on foxnews.com. And perthnow.com.

The story was originated by "AFP," or Agence France Presse. You can see that in the dateline in the story copied and pasted above.

Here is how CBSNews.com lays it out:
Here's one tagline the blockbuster film "Avatar" probably doesn't want: It's so good it might kill you.

A 42-year-old Taiwanese man with a history of high blood pressure apparently died from a stroke while watching the film, Agence France Presse reported.

The reportedly felt ill while watching the film earlier this month, then headed to the hospital. When he arrived at the emergency room, he was unconscious, a doctors told AFP.

The man died 11 days later.

"It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms," Dr. Peng Chin-chih told AFP.
We don't even get the "Kuo" in this report. But we do get that quote from Dr. Peng Chin-chih. And AFP is listed as the source of the story. The original AFP story is pasted into this blog posting, above.

How confident are you in the veracity of that story? Apparently a lot of news organizations are very confident in it, because it is all over the internet right now-- with no one bothering to do any actual checking-- just reprinting the AFP report, usually verbatim. Of course I don't believe it because, as I've written before, internet news sources love to publish unchecked stories about strange things happening in Asian countries. Remember how playing video games killed a man in South Korea?
The 28-year-old man collapsed after playing the game Starcraft at an internet cafe in the city of Taegu, according to South Korean authorities.
...
The man, identified by his family name, Lee, started playing Starcraft on 3 August. He only paused playing to go to the toilet and for short periods of sleep, said the police.
It's striking how the man is "identified by his family name, Lee," in the video-games-killed-a-man story from 2005, and "identified only by his surname Kuo" in the Avatar-killed-a-man story from 2010.

If it's new, exotic, different, or makes some people a little uneasy (like video games, the internet, or 3-D movies), you can bet there's an editor ready to jump on anything that can serve as a "warning" to all the kids out there that they shouldn't oughta be doing it-- it's bad for you. And as proof, here's this story from an exotic, different, faraway land on the other side of the world, suspiciously sourced but just too good not to run as the absolute truth.

No, "Avatar" did not "kill a guy."

UPDATE 1/20/10 @12:38 PM:

This is interesting. Apparently, Chinese theaters have pulled the movie "Avatar" for political reasons.
The communist nation's state-run movie distributor, China Film Group, unexpectedly began pulling the blockbuster science-fiction picture from 1,628 2-D screens this week in favor of a biography of the ancient philosopher Confucius.

Paul Hanneman, co-president of international distribution for 20th Century Fox, the movie's distributor, confirmed the move, which the studio learned about Monday evening.

According to the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, the switch was made at the urging of propaganda officials who are concerned that "Avatar" is taking too much market share from Chinese films and drawing unwanted attention to the sensitive issue of forced evictions.

Millions of Chinese have been uprooted to make way for high-rise buildings and government infrastructure projects in the fast-growing country. In "Avatar," human colonists try to demolish the village of an alien race to obtain a precious energy source buried under it.
Are Chinese "propaganda officials" responsible for advancing the story that "Avatar" killed a man in Taiwan? Was the western media duped as part of China's master plan to remove "Avatar" and its anti-infrastructure message?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rally on Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. A time perhaps to reflect on this great hero of liberty, who refused to just accept laws that were unjust, who inspired millions with his speeches, and who composed one of the great paeans to freedom of the 20th century.

How are you celebrating the life of this great man who fought so hard against injustice?

Well, if you're in Universal City today, you can go down and protest the way NBC is treating Conan O'Brien.
We're live at Universal Studios in Hollywood, where Conan O'Brien supporters are gathering -- in the rain -- to protest NBC's mistreatment of their giant, red-headed late night hero.
Following the link in the previous paragraph will take you to TMZ's live coverage of the, um, protest. But even if you're not in the LA area, you can still make your stand against injustice; there are also rallies in Chicago, New York, and Seattle.

Really. This is going on today. Martin Luther King Day.

Also, as you might have heard, there is a terrible humanitarian crisis going on in Haiti.

But these people are really riled up over the treatment of Conan O'Brien.
A settlement in the protracted negotiations between NBC and Conan O’Brien to end the talk show host’s seven-month stint at “The Tonight Show” was said to be imminent on Sunday night, with all of the basic elements of the deal hammered out and both sides eager to be finished with it.
...
The financial terms include a payment of about $40 million by NBC, though Mr. O’Brien would not personally receive all of that. A portion would go to staff members who have contracts of their own, one representative said.

The agreement is also expected to allow Mr. O’Brien to work again in television by September, if not sooner. Though no talks have been held with any potential suitors, executives at the Fox network have publicly expressed interest in talking to Mr. O’Brien once he is legally free to do so.
Wow. I'm glad there are people willing and brave enough to take to the streets on his behalf.

Really-- brave:
The 'I Am With COCO' rally in Los Angeles, despite the sheets of rain and whipping wind, is going strong. Over 100 fans have showed up in support of the late night talk show host with signs, umbrellas and an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm.

Conan O'Brien and the Tonight Show have got to be watching out their windows.

A simple supportive honk from a passing car gets the fans screaming from the sidewalks. The audience wants COCO to stay on the late night talk show and being wet won't detour them from voicing an opinion. People are chanting. People are screaming. And people are demanding that Conan stay in the Tonight Show late night seat.

Dressed in rain slickers with signs wrapped in plastic wrap, it appears the 12pm rally of the COCO didn't do anything but make it all the more obvious that people really like the late night talk show. Seriously can Leno say the same?
Yes, take that, Leno-- do you have fans who won't let being wet "detour" them from taking a stand on your behalf?

This is really happening today.


If Martin Luther King were alive today... How would he feel about the treatment of Conan O'Brien by NBC?

MLK pic source.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Domino's: Fire Whoever is Doing Your Commercials, and Hire Me

Domino's has a new commercial out in which they show people complaining about how bad their pizza used to be, and how they've listened, changed their pizza, and everything is great again.

For a pizza joint, it’s a bold move to tell customers your crust tasted like cardboard and your sauce was like ketchup.

But that’s just what Domino’s Pizza Inc. has been saying since last month in untraditional ads about the recipes it abandoned when it launched its reformulated pizza.

As industry observers scratch their heads, the company’s incoming CEO said the chain had no choice but to be honest about its old recipe pizza if it had any hope of winning back customers.

The long version of that ad can be found here:



Fine, points for honesty, I guess. But come on-- this is Domino's Pizza. These are the guys whose advertising brought us one of the great, creepy commercial characters of all time...

The Noid.

I expect more from them in their commercials. Especially when they're trying to "reboot" themselves. Here is what they should have done. Create a sequel to this commercial from circa 1987:



In this new commercial, the Noid would actually break through that "dome of quality," and pee all over the pizza, thus causing the crust to taste of cardboard and the sauce to taste of ketchup. I have photoshopped up a proof of concept:



This goes on for maybe twenty years, or for however long Domino's is supposed to have been terrible, with the Noid peeing on Domino's pizzas just as they leave the store. This would be a way of acknowledging that their pizza was terrible, while at the same time relieving them of some of the responsibility. But at the same time, at least subconsciously, the viewer would know that Domino's actually created the Noid, so they do in fact bear some responsibility.

It would be very PoMo.

Maybe the camera could pan across this sort of dystopian nightmare world with burned out buildings and stripped cars. Domino's delivery driver's fear to make deliveries. Then finally the new Domino's CEO comes in and stomps all over the Noid, crushing him. And he says something like, "The Noid is gone forever! Our pizza is once again delicious!"

And then a rainbow appears in the sky. See that could have been their commercial. I bet they're really kicking themselves right now.

Original Noid pic source.
Original pizza slice pic source.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Does Conan O'Brien Read My Blog?

Conan O'Brien, the current host of "The Tonight Show," released a statement today in which he made it clear that he will not accept NBC's offer to push that program's start time back to 12:05 am to accommodate moving Jay Leno's show to 11:35.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.

Mr. O'Brien's statement is well worth reading in its entirety. All things considered (that is, his shabby treatment by NBC), it is a model of restraint and generosity.

But then, he takes a shot at me directly:

Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

This is a clear reference to me and my blog. As regular readers know, I wrote in a posting on January 10:

But really, how much longer is the entire idea of "time slots" going to exist anyway? By 2014 DVRs are expected to be in over 50 million homes. Most cable systems have on demand services. At the Consumer Electronics Show this past week, Samsung introduced "apps on your TV"...
...
Time slots are going to seem so quaint, one day. We'll all be able to tell our kids that way back when, we had these things called "networks" that would "broadcast" shows that we would have to "record" on devices called "DVRs," so we could watch them anytime we wanted thereafter.

Mr. O'Brien is a talented writer and performer. He is responsible for some very funny television bits, on Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Late Night, and The Tonight Show. Also, that show he made with Adam West, "Lookwell!," which might be the funniest half-hour of television of the last twenty years. And while I'm gratified that Mr. O'Brien reads my blog (probably every day, and probably while wearing a robe and smoking a fine cigar and drinking cognac, having just stepped out of a refreshing bath), it is disconcerting and I admit a little confusing that he would use such a public venue to take a shot at me.


Mr. O'Brien, please stop taking shots at me.

BONUS: "Lookwell!"



Conan O'Brien pic source.

Rebooting Spider-Man


Hey Hollywood-- if you're looking for a superhero movie to reboot, why not make something about Daisy California battling Nuketard?

Sam Raimi, who directed the first three "Spider-Man" films to varying degrees of success, has left the fourth film, along with all the actors. The studio, Sony, is now "rebooting" the franchise:

Mike Fleming and Nikki Finke have just confirmed that Sony Pictures decided today to reboot the Spider-Man franchise after franchise director Sam Raimi pulled out of Spider-Man 4 because he felt he couldn't make its summer release date and keep the film's creative integrity. This means that Raimi and the cast including star Tobey Maguire are out. There will be no Spider-Man 4. Instead, Mike Fleming is told, the studio will focus on a Summer 2012 reboot from a script by Jamie Vanderbilt with a new director and a new cast. All this took place today at meeting on the lot today

The first Spider-Man film was released in 2002, which means that it's reboot will appear 10 years after the original. The studio is to be commended for showing so much patience in waiting to remake the film. They could have released the reboot in 2007 to coincide with "Spider-Man 3," which is generally considered the least effective of the first three films.


Way back in 1977 there was a series of TV movies featuring Spider-Man. (It was awesome, as you can see from this representative photo-- Spidey would walk on ledges that were SEVERAL INCHES OFF THE GROUND, and thrust his hand out toward the camera.) So I suppose that technically you could say that Raimi's 2002 film was a reboot of those. That's a 24 year gap!

Then again, Warner Bros waited 16 years between their first Batman movie and the Batman Begins reboot. There were 28 years between the first Superman film and Superman Returns.

That much time is an eternity in comic book time, but it's not much in film. I suppose it's significant that both Superman and Batman are DC properties, while Spider-Man is Marvel. Marvel is the younger, "hipper" company. They're the ones who came up with whole "illusion of change" concept. Their sales dominate all other companies'. Why on earth would a studio wait more than ten years to reboot one of their franchises? In comics they reboot their series at least once a year.

Oh, and the new Spider-Man will of course be "grittier":

The next Spider-Man film will be a reboot of the franchise, not a continuation of series Sam Raimi created back in 2002 ...
This time around, the series will place Peter Parker in a more contemporary setting, as a teenager battling today’s issues.

More contemporary than... 2007, when they last "Spider-Man" film was released?

Anyway, is there any doubt that Ryan Reynolds will be cast as the new Spider-Man?


Hey Hollywood-- if you're looking for a superhero movie to reboot, why not make something about The Exaggerator?

Spider-Man TV movie pic source.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

$0.00 Payday

NBC made a big deal about moving Jay Leno to 10 pm and installing Conan O'Brien as host of "The Tonight Show" at 11:35. Now, apparently, Leno's and O'Brien's ratings have gotten so bad that they're removing Leno from 10 and putting him on at 11:35, and pushing O'Brien back to 12:05, or something. The New York Times says:

Jeff Gaspin, the chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, told reporters at a press event that conversations were continuing with Conan O’Brien, the host of “The Tonight Show,” about a proposal to push his program back half an hour to 12:05 a.m. The move would make room for a truncated version of “The Jay Leno Show” at 11:35 p.m.

Way back when his new show started, I was curious and watched several episodes of the new Leno show. Thirty minutes is about how much time Leno spent on his monologue. You know, telling jokes about enemas in Australia. So NBC is telling O'Brien, "Let Leno do your monologue, and you can concentrate on bits where you have William Shatner come on and read tweets and things."


If O'Brien leaves the Tonight Show, what will happen to William Shatner?

Such confidence.

This seems pretty bad for NBC. And if TMZ is to be believed (and why not? I believe the New York Times story), it could be even worse:

We're told NBC is in breach of it's agreement with Conan by moving the start time of his show. As a result, Conan now has three options.
...
Option 2: Go to either FOX or ABC. This is where it gets complicated. If Conan were to strike a deal with either network to do a competing show, any salary Conan pulls in would offset the obligation owed by NBC. So, for example, if Conan made $20 million a year at NBC and ABC were to pay him $15 million a year, NBC would only owe Conan $5 mil a year for the four years remaining in his contract.

So, if Conan O'Brien goes to Fox, which has already at least pretended to have some interest, he could work out a deal where Fox pays him a salary of exactly $0.00 per year (or maybe where they pay him minimum wage or something-- wouldn't want to violate the law), thereby forcing NBC to pay him the full $20M a year. For working for another network.

That doesn't seem possible; the networks have lawyers who are paid to prevent that sort of thing, but it's still kind of a nice idea. NBC deserves to be stiffed at least a little for what they've done. As The Wrap points out, it appears at least on the surface that O'Brien is getting shafted pretty hard:

The network stood by Leno during his first two years on "Tonight," when he lost a chunk of Johnny Carson's audience and fell behind David Letterman.

O'Brien has suffered similar growing pains, losing scads of older viewers.

Yet, interestingly, while O'Brien's demo numbers are down from Leno's reign, "Tonight" and "Late Show with David Letterman" remain in a close race among the only metric NBC claims to care about: adults 18-49. This, despite the fact that NBC's woeful 10 p.m. performance has caused numerous NBC affiliates (and owned stations) to experience dramatic ratings declines.

O'Brien's ratings are down because his local news lead-ins' ratings are down, and the local news lead-ins' ratings are down because NBC's 10PM ratings are down. Leno is on at 10PM.

But really, how much longer is the entire idea of "time slots" going to exist anyway? By 2014 DVRs are expected to be in over 50 million homes. Most cable systems have on demand services. At the Consumer Electronics Show this past week, Samsung introduced "apps on your TV":

Samsung has announced that it is allowing software developers to invent apps – or applications – for its latest televisions, giving viewers the chance to use their TVs to watch news, go shopping, catch up on old programmes, play games and even Tweet.

Time slots are going to seem so quaint, one day. We'll all be able to tell our kids that way back when, we had these things called "networks" that would "broadcast" shows that we would have to "record" on devices called "DVRs," so we could watch them anytime we wanted thereafter.

"But daddy," (or "mommy") these kids will say, "why didn't you just watch the shows when the app appeared?"

"Those were dark ages."

And you'll get a blank stare.


NBC is making excellent business decisions... FOR ME TO POOP ON!

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog pic source.

A Basement Affair Episode 2: The Fighting Snitch

Ugh.

The episode opens with a potentially quite touching moment with the women vying for Frank's affections sitting around the table while Frank's mother, the obnoxious Susan, tells them about her daughter's cat. It's hairless, and Susan once thought it was ugly. Oh, but it's beautiful now.

Thanks to the editing, this revelation appears to elicit the following from contestant Renee: "Now that I've gotten to know Frank and his family, it definitely makes me want to fight all the more."

Let's consider this for a moment. Even though I am certain that Renee's desire to "fight" (presumably to win Frank's heart) has little to do with Susan's opinion of her daughter's ugly hairless cat (even the obnoxious old bat can see the beauty in something so seemingly unattractive!), it is still an astonishing sentiment, given what she saw in the previous episode. Frank lives in his parents' basement. His mother is a castrating jerk, and his father is a passive aggressive doormat. What on earth has Renee seen that would strengthen her resolve to "fight," instead of heading for the nearest exit?

Oh, wait-- she means "fight" to stay on the show long enough to become an interesting character and angle for her own VH1 show. Okay now it all makes sense.


This is the man they're fighting for.

We get a brief shot of a tattoo on Mandy's lower stomach, just above her naughty bits: INGODWETRUST.

What? She has INGODWETRUST tattooed above her naughties? I can't think of anything that would kill the mood faster than to pull off a woman's pants and see that staring back at me. Maybe she expects men to pray to her?

Mandy then interviews that Frank's mom "completely humiliated me." Mandy, that ship sailed when you signed the release to appear on this show. For that matter, it sailed when you got INGODWETRUST tattooed over your naughties.

But she does have a point. Susan was obnoxious in the last episode. She will be obnoxious this episode. In fact, I'll probably stop mentioning her in this blog. Just assume that at various points the show is cut in such a way to show Susan being Susan, so I won't have to bring her up anymore.

Frank tells the women they will all get to spend some "one-on-one time" with him, down in the basement. Entertaining him. "You have a couple minutes to show me whether it's a gift, a special talent you have, there's supplies if you want to make something... Basically, anything that makes me learn a little more about you."

So it's just exactly the same as when they did it on Megan's show, Real and Chance's show, Bret's show, Flavor Flav's show... every single one of these shows do this bit.

And there's always a few who do really well, a few who don't try at all, a few who try too hard, a few who fall flat on their faces. It is always the same. I'm starting to realize that now.

Annie, the video artist, goes straight for the trash. You know, because she's the quirky one. She likes trash because "it's just like materials that people don't normally use." So she's making something from trash.

What is the opposite of "irony?"


Annie the quirky video artist looks an awful lot like...

mel flight of the conchords Pictures, Images and Photos
...Mel, the quirky stalker from "Flight of the Conchords," doesn't she?

Renee writes a story that is, according to Cathy, "pretty much hatin' on all of us girls." Renee's story suggests that some of the women are there to "jump start their modeling careers" or "to party."

Cathy, you will remember, was last seen on another reality show, "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." She also has her own modeling webpage.

Anyway, in the basement, the women have two minutes exactly to impress Frank. You can tell he's serious because he uses the timer on the microwave oven that he apparently keeps by his bed (?) to keep the time. When the microwave timer dings, the women are finished.

Kerry makes him cupcakes. I would enjoy that myself.

Then there was the one who made him a tattoo of his mother. Another shows him how to hula hoop. Tammy, the one who likes "Asian Chinese food," gives him a manicure. Really, an Asian woman giving a manicure. And she asks him if he likes to use his "big hands" to "grab as many women as [he] can." He assures her that he does not.

Dana, the law student, rambles on about something. Cathy, from "Japanese Game Show," is late gargling mouthwash. But she was going to make him balloon animals, so she had little chance anyway. Why didn't she just take her top off?

Moron.


Cathy Nardone is not appearing on Frank the Entertainer's show to advance her modeling career. That's why she wanted to make balloon animals for him. This woman wanted to make balloon animals for her serious potential romantic partner.

Annie arrives in the basement wearing a beret, so you can automatically tell she is an artist. And probably a Francophile. But then, who isn't a Francophile? If she starts reciting Rimbaud, I will probably hurt myself trying to climb into the television set.

But, no poetry. Instead, she is feeling nervous because "I don't know if he's going to appreciate trash in the same way I appreciate trash."

Annie. Frank the Entertainer is a regular on VH1 reality shows. Trust me; he appreciates trash.

Her art is meditative and fun, she says. But the time runs out before Annie is able to finish. Or maybe she was finished. Who knows? As Jackson Pollock is supposed to have said when someone asked him how he knew he was finished with a painting, "How do you know when you're finished having sex? When the timer on the microwave dings."

Renee reads her story, which includes some cartoon drawings. Her parents always told her she was very good at drawing, she interviews. Her parents were just being polite, but I give her points for doing cartoons, and if it were me they were trying to impress, she would have to now be in the lead. A woman who draws cartoons, no matter how poorly, is automatically hot.

Jenny, who had seemed like such a catch last week and really put Frank on the spot with her question about dating black women, does some bulls hit about his star chart or zodiac sign, or something.

I would kick her off the show automatically. I actually did stop dating a woman once because she tried to explain to me that astrology was a "science." Astrology, not astronomy. She was pretty hot, too. I wonder if she ever gave up on that astrology stuff?

Anyway, Mandy the bartender tries to make Frank some mixed chocolate drinks when you-know-who starts acting all obnoxious again. Another bartender Melissa crushed a beer can with her breasts. I admit I liked that one-- it's an impractical talent, but an impressive one. Or two. Then Jessica did an interpretive dance routine or something.

Felicia relates the story of her breast cancer scare, and how she had half of her left breast removed. She then relates that to her new adventure, appearing on a cheesy competitive dating show with Frank the Entertainer at the center. Frank refrained from making fun of her.

Then there's some !drama! when Cathy starts talking smack about Renee's smacktalk book. That drama lasts about twenty seconds before Frank chooses his three favorites to take with him on his special date.

Of course Felicia is chosen first. Renee is second. Cupcake Kerry is third. Can't argue with any of these choices, really. Their reward is to eat pizza at the Brooklyn Bridge. That landmark is of course a famous symbol of grifting and charlatanism-- how many times has that bridge been "sold" to unsuspecting rube tourists? And now, conman Frank is presenting himself as sincerely looking for love to three conwomen who are presenting themselves as sincerely looking for love.

Renee annoys the other women, who feel she is trying too hard. She does lay it on thick with her "I've been dead so long" talk, but she is just so much cuter than any of the other women, you just know she has got to be sincere. Will she end up being this season's "good girl"?

Frank asks her to name one woman on the show who might not be there "for him." Renee makes the obvious choice-- Cathy. She doesn't mention the "Japanese Game Show" angle (maybe no one else knew about that?), but does mention the smacktalk Cathy had been doing earlier.

And, as Frank knows, she tried to make him balloon animals.

Frank tells her to keep her ears open, to "find a little scoop out" about her. That isn't a good sign. No man wants to date a snitch. You keep a snitch around to snitch for you, to "find a little scoop" until you're down to maybe four possibles, and then you cut your snitch loose with a "thank you and good luck."

So Renee's the snitch.


Snitch!

Back at the house, the women are apparently cleaning, doing dishes and running the vacuum. Earning their keep. This is not typical reality show behavior, a situation that is rectified when they all jump in the jacuzzi later that night. The women are drinking copious amounts of alcohol, Cathy is getting intoxicated, and all is right with the reality show world.

(By the way, twice it's been mentioned that "Frank does not drink." Nor do we see him drinking. Is there some backstory I don't know about? Why oh why wouldn't Frank drink? Did he drink on the I Love Moneys? Or is he just naturally obnoxious?)

Frank attempts to help Cathy sober up, which causes her to become angry and then sad. She leans over the toilet crying. This turns out to be a blessing because you-know-who the obnoxious mother comes down and berates the women she invited into her house-- you know, the VH1 competitive dating show contestants-- for getting drunk and loud and generally behaving like VH1 competitive dating show contestants. She's also offended that someone put vodka in a half-full water bottle. She was "just about to drink it," she says, which is stupid-- why on earth would you drink from a random half-full water bottle that you find in a kitchen when there are a bunch of VH1 competitive dating show contestants around? "Vodka" is probably the most innocuous substance in that bottle; in fact, the vodka might actually kill all the bad stuff she would otherwise catch.

But this is a reality show, and so there is a certain level of fiction to be maintained. When the skanks act like skanks, the obnoxious mother has to act surprised.

This goes on for what seems like an hour. "Who put vodker in my water bottle?" she keeps screaming. She confronts Mandy. Did you put vodker in my water bottle? Do you know who did?

Next day, Frank's parents call him up to their bedroom to talk smack about Mandy. Mandy is a bad influence and Susan wants him to eliminate her. Susan can't stay in the house with her anymore, which I think is a point in Mandy's favor. Susan also can't see Mandy as her daughter-in-law (don't worry, Frank ain't marrying any of these women unless he can get a show out of it) or the mother of her grandchildren (well, accidents do happen).

Susan is going to kick everyone out if Frank doesn't eliminate Mandy. So Frank invites Mandy to his basement to spare her the humiliation of going through an elimination. What?

But there's still an elimination. Frank calls Jessica down to the basement for a heart-to-heart that makes no sense. She rambles on about things I don't understand.

Kerry gives Cathy some tough love, telling her to not be so obnoxious-- apparently forgetting that Frank's favorite person is his obnoxious mother. Kerry also tells Cathy to let Frank talk, not talk over him, and not be confrontational.

Again, Frank likes that kind of stuff. He still lives with his mother.

Thankfully for her sake, Cathy ignores Kerry's advice and finds Frank outside near the pool, smoking a cigarette (does his mother, so scandalized over finding vodka in a half-full water bottle, allow him to smoke?), and proceeds to confront Frank. This conversation makes about as much sense as the conversation with Jessica.

Elimination:

First key to Renee, of course. Last two are Jessica and Cathy. Spacy vs. obnoxious. Frank of course chooses obnoxious. Cathy lives to drink another day. Jessica is too happy and not serious enough.

Annie pic source.
Mel pic source.
Renee pic source.
Cathy Nardone pic source.
Frank pic source.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Defending "Avatards", Furries, LARPers, and Fanboys-- They're A Lot Better than Sports Fans

Most people are at least casual fans of science fiction. Of the top 100 movies according to Box Office Mojo I counted 49 that could be labeled science fiction. On television, shows like CSI and NCIS and their spin-offs, The Big Bang Theory, House, Chuck, Burn Notice, etc etc show that people will watch the stuff at home, too.

And yet, people seem to find it so easy to make fun of "extreme" fans, or fanboys. Remember when William Shatner famously told "Star Trek" fans to "get a life" on "Saturday Night Live"?


Now that the film "Avatar" has been released, and become a big hit, there is a backlash growing against the more extreme fans, who are being called "Avatards":

I’m pretty sure I predicted Avatar would be the next big trend among furries, LARPers, and assorted obsessed weirdos. Now that the Avatar forums have heated up, it appears we may have as much fun with Avatards as we did with Twihards. More, even. Avatards are like Twihards’ older, computer programming cousins.

("Twihards" are fans of "Twilight." "Furries" are humans who like to dress as humanoid animals. "LARPers" are those into "live action role playing," particularly of fantasy and medieval games.)

Some comments from Avatar message boards that are the object of the article's fun:

“I cant stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers i got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if i do it i will be re birthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in Avatar..”

“I’ve had the exact same feeling after I first saw Avatar- the sick realization that Pandora isn’t real- and trying anything to just escape this reality and live there instead, even trying to put myself into a coma so my dream world would be Pandora.”

“My urge to be a Na’vi is probably the strongest thing I have ever felt, and also the reality that it will likely never happen. Of course being able to link up with nature, or fly on your own personal dragon-bird is cool, but I want to be a Na’vi for more than that. I’ve pretty much given up all hope in the human race…”

First of all, I have a hard time believing that the postings above are completely serious. At the very least they are hyperbolic, and might even be spoofs. But let's assume for a minute these people are totally sincere in their depression over the fact that the world depicted in the film "Avatar" does not exist.

These people are admitting that the film is not real. That is very good, isn't it? It shows that, no matter how extreme some fans might be, they understand the difference between reality and the movies.

Also, how many fanboys, LARPers, Avatards, Trekkers, or Furries commit murder after being taunted for their hobbies? Well, sports fans kill each other in arguments over their favorite teams.

A second degree murder trial has started for a New Hampshire woman charged with killing a man with her car after allegedly being taunted for having a New York Yankees decal on her vehicle.

Two men have been charged in the beating death of a man near Citizens Bank Park over the weekend, a third suspect has surrendered, and parts of the fight were caught on surveillance tape, police said Monday.

European football is in shock after a French fan died after being beaten up before a game in Serbia ten days ago. 28-year-old Brice Taton died in hospital in Belgrade. He had gone to Serbia to support his home team, Toulouse in a European match.

COLOMBIAN police said today they had arrested five football fans on suspicion of beating to death a rival supporter, who got on their bus by mistake after a match in Bogota.

They riot and loot when their teams have success. How many Avatards were out rioting when their new favorite film became the number two all time money making film in record time?

A high-spirited overtime basketball game between two rival high schools spilled in the streets and sparked a small riot between fans in Cliffside Park last night, police said.

Hundreds of revellers caused havoc on the streets of Los Angeles last night after the Lakers won the NBA championship.

The March 27-28 riot occurred shortly after MSU's Final Four loss to Duke University. More than 5,000 people rampaged through the city and campus, causing more than $150,000 in damages.

There are football riots that stop a game, and then there are football riots that stop a whole season. The riot that followed Danubio’a 1-0 over Nacional in Uruguay’s Primera División was one of the latter.

In the latest outbreak of sports violence in the United States, riot police in Oakland used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of angry fans rampaging through parts of the Californian city after their team lost Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego on Sunday night.


Furries don't riot.

You get the idea. Sports fans are obnoxious. They kill people in arguments over which team is better. They riot if their favorite team loses. They riot if their favorite team wins. And, as I've already written many times, they directly cost taxpayers a lot of money in subsidies and bailouts for stadiums.

Do the Avatards demand taxpayer money to finance their favorite hobby? Do the LARPers get tax breaks to build stadiums in which to-- um, LARP?

They do not. So if any extreme fans (and no, not all sports fans are extreme sports fans) must be made fun of, why not save it for the jerks who turn their aggressions outward, and cost the rest of us, and spare those who aren't trying to force their "love" of their hobby on the rest of us?


These people got excited about seeing the movie "Avatar," and so they got dressed up in makeup that can be removed once the moviegoing experience is over.


This person is stuck with this body art forever (barring expensive and painful surgery). So who is the real doofus?

Furries pic source.
James Cameron and Avatar fans pic source.
Sports fan tattoo pic source.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kathy Griffin on CNN New Year's Eve, 2009: No Way to Treat a Guest

Kathy Griffin again co-hosted this year's new year's eve program with Anderson Cooper on the fourth or fifth ranked cable news outlet CNN. And, again, she said something "inappropriate." Here she is dropping "the f-bomb":



This of course makes her my free speech hero for January 2010. Or, December 2009-- I'm not sure when exactly she said it. We should all be dropping f-bombs on television all the time. The Constitution says we can.

She also asked Mr. Cooper if she could get a pap smear from Dr. Sanjay Gupta:



She is a comedian, and that is her shtick. She co-hosted with Mr. Cooper last year, and that's basically what she did then, too. CNN should have expected it. Remember when she said this:



But then, Mr. Cooper got passive aggressive with her:



Mr. Cooper-- if you want your guest, the person you invited, to shut up, then tell her yourself. Don't read it from someone's "twitter." You knew what she was like when you invited her to COME BACK again this year.

And now, the sanctimonious jerks at CNN have banned Ms. Griffin from CNN:

Following her very controversial F-bomb-dropping New Year's Eve hosting gig, CNN executives have decided Kathy Griffin will NOT be getting a 2011 invite. "She was a total embarrassment to the network that calls themselves 'The Most Trusted Name in News.' Even Anderson (Cooper, her co-host) thinks it's time to say goodbye to Kathy," a CNN insider tells me.

CNN was embarrassed by Ms. Griffin? They should be embarrassed by their newsactor's passive aggression. They should be embarrassed by his callous treatment of his guest. They should be embarrassed by the fact that their ratings are so pathetically low.

They should fire Cooper, and hire Griffin to replace him.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Bachelor Scandal: There Goes One of the Perks of Being a Reality Show Producer

What do reality show producers do, anyway? Don't they help with the "script" or something? Tell contestants where to stand? Make sure there's plenty of craft services?

Well, on "The Bachelor," apparently, they sleep with contestants.

According to clips airing on ABC to promote the new season, one of Jake’s female suitors may not be single.

“She’s been having this sexual affair with somebody else in ‘The Bachelor’ house,” a female contestant is heard saying in the promo clips.

According to Chris Harrison, the host of “The Bachelor,” one of the ladies became involved with a producer on the show.


THIS guy is Jake Pavelka, "The Bachelor". No wonder one of his suitors chose to sleep with a producer.

I am not the least bit surprised that this happened. Waaaaay back in the early aughts, when I'd first moved to LA, I met a surprising number of aspiring actors and actresses who had appeared on the late, lamented television classic "Blind Date" who told me that it was not the daters who ended up with the most action-- it was the cameramen and other crew who followed the daters. Not necessarily nookie, but action nonetheless.

What is surprising is that the contestant was removed from the show, and the producer fired.

“It was incredibly unfortunate. Horrible decisions were made,” Chris told 104.3 Myfm morning show host Sean Valentine, People reported. “It was embarrassing for us and in fairness to Jake and for the other women, [we said], ‘Let’s nip this in the bud and take care of it.’ And that’s what we did.”

Chris said the show will address the issue this season on “The Bachelor,” but according to Us Weekly, he also revealed on the morning show that the woman was kicked off “The Bachelor” and the producer was fired.

Then again, you might remember that "The Bachelor" was one of the reality shows specifically named in a class action lawsuit brought against several reality show producers regarding unlawful working conditions, that settled almost one year ago exactly:

The dual class-action lawsuits were filed in 2005 by several hundred employees who worked in various capacities, including story editors, editors and segment producers, on such shows as "The Bachelor," "Trading Spouses," "Are You Hot?" and "The Real Gilligan's Island." They alleged that Fox, ABC, CBS and various production entities told them to forge time cards and work 18-hour days with few meal breaks.

So now the producers are being fired for sleeping with the talent, but-- are they getting their meal breaks? Because that's what they brought the lawsuit for.

I hope they're happy.

Jake Pavelka pic source.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Frank the Entertainer... In A Basement Affair: Scraping the Bottom

This time last year, 51Minds and VH1 seemed to have a winning formula for taking people anxious to be seen on television, putting them in an enclosed space, plying them with drink, putting them in situations guaranteed to ensure varying degrees of humiliation (often for the ostensible purpose of finding "love"), and filming the entire thing. Some entertaining shows of the "guilty pleasure" variety resulted: Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, Daisy of Love, Charm School, Real Chance of Love and most especially I Love Money.

Then, some one or maybe more than just some one cast Ryan Jenkins on Megan Wants a Millionaire. He apparently did well enough on that show that he was immediately cast in the third installment of I Love Money. He might have actually won that season.

We might never know, because VH1 has said they won't air. The contestants have signed confidentiality agreements and not even they can be made drunk enough (apparently) to blab the results.

Not long after the third episode of Megan Wants a Millionaire aired, Mr. Jenkins's wife Jasmine Fiore disappeared. She was found dead in a dumpster. Mr. Jenkins went on the run and eventually committed suicide. The story is sordid and unpleasant, and I covered it extensively at the time. You can read all of that here if you like.

At the time, VH1 released a statement which read:

Ryan Jenkins was a contestant on Megan Wants A Millionaire, an outside production, produced and owned by 51 Minds, that is licensed to VH1. The show completed production at the end of March. Given the unfortunate circumstances, VH1 has postponed any future airings. This is a tragic situation and our thoughts go out to the victim’s family.

VH1 was sleazily pushing off any responsibility onto 51Minds. For their part, 51Minds sleazily pushed off responsibility to an "outside company":

51Minds was not aware of Ryan Jenkins' record when it cast him on "Megan Wants a Millionaire." Obviously, if the company had been given a full picture of his background, he would never have been allowed on the show.

The company did have in place what it thought was a thorough vetting process that involved complete background checks by an outside company for all contestants on its shows. Clearly, the process did not work properly in this case.

To be honest, these statements bothered me a great deal at the time, but while I thought they bordered on insensitive, I at least understood the motivation behind them. Both VH1 and 51Minds felt they needed to say something. They also wanted to try to give themselves some coverage in the wake of all the anger that was being directed at them for allowing a dangerous psychopath to be cast on one of their shows.

If VH1 and 51Minds had left it at that, they might have been okay. After all, Mr. Jenkins did not apparently commit any heinous acts while participating in the programs themselves. VH1 and 51Minds had no direct responsibility for what he did after appearing on their shows. And given the fact that so many of their shows' contestants are shall we say colorful, it's not surprising that their vetting process might allow one particularly bad person-- a charming liar-- to make it through.

Both VH1 and 51Minds could have been given the benefit of the doubt. Neither bears any responsibility for what Mr. Jenkins did.

But they didn't leave it alone. I should say, 51Minds in particular did not leave it alone. They felt a need to go on a "charm offensive" (which could be the title of one of their shows, actually). They had a representative appear on an episode of "Larry King Live."

Perhaps not a bad idea. Get someone with tact, poise, and sympathy to calmly explain exactly the process by which 51Minds went about casting their shows. Unfortunately, 51Minds did not do this. Presumably they could have had their pick from at least a dozen PR professionals who would put a human face on the production company that was taking so much heat in the press. The person they chose, however, came across venal, sleazy, accusatory, morally retarded, egomaniacal and downright psychopathic herself. Ashley from Rock of Love Bus and Charm School could not have appeared any less sensitive than Stuart Brazell, one of the casting directors (or something, it was never really made clear) for Megan Wants a Millionaire.

She made the entire story about her. Her shock. Her disbelief. Of course it didn't help that Larry's questions were pathetic and superficial, and he obviously had no idea of how VH1 reality shows work. But still, Ms. Brazell was a special kind of awful.

She even went so far as to spread some of the blame to the viewers:

BRAZELL: You know, I was completely shocked that he would have been capable of doing this. Obviously these type of people that everyone enjoys watching -- he was charismatic. He was a lady's man. People were drawn to him. He ran around talking in tons of voices.

I could see that he could be a loose cannon. No, did I think that he was capable of murdering his wife? Absolutely not.

"These types of people that everyone enjoys watching." See, if you didn't watch, Ms. Brazell wouldn't have to cast "loose cannons."

How anyone could think that Ms. Brazell's appearance was anything but a complete nightmarish disaster is beyond me. But 51Minds sent her out yet again as their representative, on a show called "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell."

She repeated the "I-wouldn't-cast-psychopaths-if-people-didn't-watch" line:

STUART, BRAZELL, CASTING DIRECTOR: You know, I will say that the fans of these VH1 shows, when it`s kind of been coming out that VH1 is going to stray away from this programming, go for, you know, more celebrity-based shows, they love these shows. There`s a reason why VH1 has had success with these shows. There`s a fan base, that`s what they crave. They love this kind of outrageous behavior these shows offer.

They crave the outrageous behavior. They want the loose cannons. I just give them what they want!

Keep in mind, this is how 51Minds' chosen representative. They thought she would do a good job representing them and their position. Apparently, that position is that their fans are depraved, so depraved that in order to keep up with their "cravings," it's bound to happen that a killer is going to fall through the cracks and make it onto the air.

Knowing that, is there anyone out there who wants to keep watching their programming? What about being cast? Ms. Brazell has a fairly low opinion of those people, too. Take a look at what she had to say about the cast of "Real Chance of Love 2":

“Girls are looking for the guy they want to f*ck or the guy they want to marry,” Braznell [sic] says bluntly. “Chance is crazy, a total assh*le. He’s feisty. I love him. Real is down-to-earth, looking for true love and the mother of his children.”


Stuart Brazell has a low opinion of you.

Ms. Brazell might not work for 51 Minds anymore. Her linkedin profile suggests her association with 51 Minds is "past." But then under "experience" she suggests that she still freelances for VH1. Who knows? I guess the more important question is, "Does 51Minds still have contempt for their viewers?" Which raises another question, come to think of it: "If so, do their viewers deserve it?" After all, these shows are all basically the same-- the same obnoxious types put in the same situations doing the same "outrageous" things. And people still (often) watch.

And blog about them.

Which brings me finally (sorry it took so long) to VH1's and 51 Minds' latest collaboration: "Frank the Entertainer... In A Basement Affair" (apparently the ellipses are part of the official title of the show-- why must there be a pause after Frank the Entertainer?). As viewers of these shows know, Frank the Entertainer is the rather sad, frantic, loud, buffoonish participant (and loser) from one of the "I Love New York" seasons, and the first two seasons of "I Love Money" (I'm not sure if he appeared on the third season). The joke is that he's a big, beefy guy in his late 20s or early 30s who still lives in his parents' basement. He's been trying to win enough money on VH1 shows to get his own place.

Oh, and to find love. First, he tried it with New York. Then, on the first "I Love Money," he tried it with Destiney from "Rock of Love." On the second "I Love Money," he tried it with Becky Buckwild.

None of those worked out for him.

When the show was announced, I thought it could be cheesy fun and made a mental note to watch out for it. After all, what kind of woman would want to actually compete for the affections of this man? He is, as I've already stated, rather sad, frantic, loud, and buffoonish. Supposedly, he still lives in his parents' basement. Then, the whole "Stuart Brazell Affair" occurred and I decided screw 51 Minds, if that's what they think of me.

TiVo got the first episode for me. I watched it. I need help; I watched it. I wanted to know if VH1 and 51Minds had learned anything.


Frank sitting in the basement, strumming his guitar, contemplating the implications of appearing on a 51Minds VH1 reality show.

It opens with some isn't-this-ironic-because-usually-New-Yorkers-are-so-damned-independent voice over introducing us to Frank and his parents. The charmingly overbearing mother loudly complains about finding Frank's underwear in the kitchen (what?) and asking if he's "got a girl down there". We then see the mother and father sitting on the couch, interviewing about how of their five children, Frank is the only one who would be classified a "loser." One is an attorney, so he might be a scumbag-- we don't really know what kind of attorney he is. Another is "an associate director in corporate America," whatever that means, but we're not told if she worked for a corporation that took bailout money, so she might be a scumbag, too. Another is a special ed teacher. It's kind of difficult to accuse her of possibly being a scumbag. The words "special ed" and "teacher" together is like a magical talisman against criticism. Another is working on "his master's in marketing," which is vague enough that he, too, could be a scumbag.

But the only one of her children that has a TV gig is Frank. Frank's the one that got you on TV, too, mother. Mr. Attorney didn't. Neither did Ms. Associate director in corporate America."

Frank interviews that it's great he gets free food and his parents do his laundry. He's got a point. And the layout of his basement is pretty sweet. Bar, dartboard, TV set, recliner. And his own TV show.

Apparently, Frank sits in this basement all day and waits for his mother to yell at him. And for VH1 to call him to do shows for them. In this case, VH1 wants him to do his show not from a mansion, but from his parents' basement.

So what kind of woman, having seen Frank on his three previous VH1 series, and knowing that they have to do the show from Frank's parents' basement, would want to participate? All of the women seem attractive enough that I firmly believe-- and you can call me cynical I don't care-- none of them are actually interested in Frank.

They want to be on television.

This despite Kerry S's assertion that she had a crush on Frank when she saw him on "I Love New York." "I just want a chance to meet him because I know if I do... I can get him, you know what I mean?"

Kerry, I suspect anyone can "get him," for a night at least.

Annie, the girl next door with the almost-too-cute-voice lies and says she thinks Frank is "sexy... I love, like, his shaved head, and his body is like... amazing." Then she tells the truth and says, "And I'm also really hot," then lies again by adding the word, "too."

When Frank appears from behind the basement door, the women react in much the same way the audience of "The Ed Sullivan Show" reacted when the Beatles played. Again, call me cynical, but I don't buy it.

Frank is so stupid he says, "You're all so beautiful, this is already tough." He should have said, "This is already hard," because that is a double entendre. How can these women even pretend to like him?

Kari M, who is even more girl-next-door than Annie, lies and says "Frank seems like an awesome guy," then insults herself by saying, "and I just think we'd be a great match for one another."

Oh, Kari, you could do so much better, what are you doing???

The women ascend to the second floor to find beds. If this truly is the house where Frank's parents live, then they must be very well-off. The house is enormous. If my parents had such a house, I might not have left, either.

Oh, and if they hadn't gotten a bitter divorce and spent years hating each other. Maybe that is the root cause of the cynicism I'm feeling about this show? Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with The Stuart Brazell Incident at all.

Melissa automatically endears herself to me by saying that she doesn't want to sleep in the room with all the Jesus Christ iconography. It makes her feel like a sinner, she says. Another room, even more distressingly, is adorned with photos of Frank as a chubby little kid.


Melissa is worried about being a sinner. Or, she's worried about the pictures of Jesus Christ making her feel like a sinner. She should check out John 8:7: "Let he who has not appeared on a reality show cast the first stone." I think that's what it says.

First "challenge" is similar to "Rock of Love's" opening photo shoots, except there won't be any nudity. The contestants will take photos with Frank and his parents to see what they will look like as part of the family. "One of those pictures," Frank's father lies, "will be part of our family album forever." His delivery is so deadpan he should be a standup comedian. He seems so natural playing the father of a VH1 reality show contestant.

Melody, at 35, might be too old for Frank. He wants kids. "Women can't have kids forever," Frank points out. Mandy had to move into her parents' attic last year. Frank is a little jealous of that; he's still living underground. Frank's mother doesn't like her because she jokes that she will be joining Frank's family "if they're lucky." The batty old bird interviews that SHE is the one who will be lucky to join OUR family.

Felicia claims to be getting an MBA, so "I have a brain to this beauty." This of course is a direct contradiction of the fact that she is a CONTESTANT ON A SHOW IN WHICH THE "PRIZE" IS FRANK THE ENTERTAINER. Felicia, you are either stupid, or you are a cynical opportunist.

Melissa tells Frank he looks "so buff right now."

Jennifer works for a "government contracting firm" that her "daddy" owns. So she probably cannot be trusted.

Annie says she's on the show because she "saw Frank on 'I Love New York'... and he just seemed like a really honest and loyal person." So she's either a liar or a space case.

Frank calls her "sweet," which probably means she won't last long.

Kerry S is there because she hates being single. She's been single for two years. She loves spooning. She's just looking for a warm body-- at least she's honest.

Tammy points out that "I'm Asian... and, I'm pretty sure you don't have any problems with Asian Chinese food do you?"

This is confusing. Frank wonders if Asian Chinese food is different from Chinese food. I admit I wondered the same thing.

Renee tells them she's been engaged twice, and is a "relationship-oriented girl." One man, after eight years, left home on her birthday and never returned. The other one cheated on her, with... wait for it...

...lesbians. (giggle)

Dana would motivate Frank with a little kick in the ass.

Stephanie is a lingerie and swimsuit model-- everything but nude, which is surprisingly narrow-minded for a VH1 reality contestant. She's wearing a t-shirt on which is written the word "Entertainer," and Frank absurdly worries that she might be there for "The Entertainer," as opposed to "Frank." "Because, we're too of the same people." I don't understand what he means by that-- maybe, "We're two different people"?

Oh, who the hell cares?

Kari from Chicago seems flustered. She doesn't want to answer their obtrusive questions about her professional and personal life. I'm with her-- until they all get to know each other better, it's none of their damn business.

Christi from Chicago thinks she has "family values."

Jessica thinks Frank is outgoing and crazy in a good way. Frank wonders if she might be on something.

Cathy says she's very attracted to Frank. And then she talks and talks. And she likes to shave her legs. This is offered as an apparent non-sequitur.

She looks very familiar to me. Has she been on another reality show?


Yes, Cathy Nardone has been on another reality show-- she was a contestant on "I Survived a Japanese Game Show", first season. Is she really there for Frank, or is this just another reality show to her?

After the pictures, Frank and the parents mingle with the women. Mandy says something about having two dads who think she might be a lesbian, because she's been single so long. Frank's mother says she doesn't care about Mandy's sexual orientation, which makes no sense. What kind of mother doesn't care about her son's potential suitors' sexual orientation?

Frank takes Jennifer and Christi down to the basement. In a moment of candor-- or is that cynical lying?-- Frank tells them he's looking for a woman who's understanding and caring. Someone who can get along with his family. "Especially my mother, 'cause she's the toughest for me."

I really hope Frank's mother isn't the obnoxious jackass she's playing on the show. I hope that for both her sake and his. And Frank's father's. She would be intolerable.

Jennifer says she's never had a boyfriend before, which Frank (and I) finds difficult to believe. She then asks him, "I know you were on New York's show, but, are you attracted to black women?"

Frank answers incoherently, "Honestly, I have never been with a black woman except Tiffani, so... to have a gorgeous, beautiful black woman sitting in front of me... you're gorgeous, absolutely, really beautiful..."

This in front of Christi, who is feeling like chopped liver. She is not a gorgeous, beautiful black woman. She is white. Also, Frank forgot her name.


Jenny IS a gorgeous, beautiful black woman. So why is she trying to get Frank the Entertainer?

Annie tells Frank she does "video art." And, she's caring and loyal. And "a little kooky." She interviews "If he wanted to he could suck on my toes. I mean, I don't want to force anyone into anything, but if he wanted to... that would be cool."

She must not be eliminated.


Annie wouldn't want to force anyone into anything, but she would like to have her toes sucked.

Stephanie didn't know how Frank was eliminated on "I Love New York." So Frank wonders if she's really there for him. Apparently he's got a delicate ego.

"You ever date a white guy?" he asks her.

"No," she says.

"You ever kiss a white guy?"

She mumbles something about not remembering.

Well, she's never kissed me, because she would definitely remember that.

When are these shows going to drop the whole "is-she-really-here-for-me" bulls hit? Frank: NONE OF THEM ARE THERE FOR YOU. THEY ARE THERE FOR THE SAME REASON YOU WERE ON I LOVE NEW YORK. THEY WANT TO BE ON TELEVISION.

Accept it, and enjoy the fact that you are a loser surrounded by attractive women who are willing to feign interest in you, get yourself some sweet kisses and maybe some nookie, and move on.

Frank's parents help him with his decision in a scene that looks so real that it had to be completely scripted. His mother likes Annie, and hates Mandy. Then, during the elimination ceremony they sit on a couch and glare at him while he breaks two womens' hearts by removing them from his television show.

13 recieve "keys to his basement." Jenny gets the first. "She is gorgeous, she's got a body to match it, and she smells great," he inarticulates. The rest of the ceremony is uneventful until the last three women remain, vying for the final key. Frank's mother browbeats him-- it's clear she wants him to choose Kari, and she dislikes Mandy. She doesn't seem to have much of an opinion one way or the other about Stephanie. Anyway, Frank chooses Mandy, and Frank's mother says, "Sorry Kari. I think he made a mistake."


Frank stood up to his obnoxious mother, and kept the obnoxious Mandy. Frank isn't looking for a romantic partner-- he's looking for a mother figure.

Kari and Stephanie should of course count their blessings. Mandy was kept for the conflict. Won't it be so much fun to see Mandy and Frank's mother butt heads?

Given the current state of the economy, with unemployment at or above 10%, with a recession creating uncertainty, a reality dating in show in which the center lives with his parents and is (apparently) unemployed has a great deal of potential. Unfortunately, VH1 and 51Minds have rather deftly avoided that potential, and have given us yet another competitive dating show with typical characters, in a slightly unconventional setting. It might be a little lower-key than previous versions, but it still shows that 51Minds has a fairly low opinion of viewers.

Mandy pic source.
Frank strumming pic source.
Jennifer and Annie pic source.
Cathy Nardone I Survived a Japanese Game Show pic source.
Melissa pic source.