Sunday, February 28, 2010

Solitary 4.0 -- The Only Thing to Miss About Fox Reality Channel

When Fox Reality Channel ceases to exist at the end of this month* I will not exactly shed any tears. The idea of a cable network devoted entirely to reality television shows is good in theory, but spending more than five minutes perusing the cable listings will show you how downright superfluous it is.

Seriously, EVERY cable network is devoted entirely to reality television shows. Sort of. It seems like it. There are a LOT of reality shows on cable, is what I’m trying to say.

And while almost all of Fox Reality’s original programming was to put it kindly terrible (remember Sex Decoys?), there was one very bright spot in an otherwise barren broadcasting schedule: Solitary.

The concept of this show is as sadistic as it is simple. Nine people are locked away in small octagonal isolation pods. There is a bathroom and a changing area outside of this pod, but they are left with no contact with the outside world. Their only companion is the computer called “VAL,” who is the sister perhaps to “HAL” from 2001: A Space Odyssey, who has locked these volunteers away in order to experiment on them, to test the limits of their endurance. She refers to the participants not by name, but by the number of their pod. Calling them by their numbers dehumanizes the contestants in such a way as to make their torment even more delightful – I mean of course, bearable – for the human audience.

The last to remain in his/her pod receives $50,000. They will have earned that money by the end.

This season, the fourth (and hopefully not last – come on, some cable net needs to pick this show up) has been particularly entertaining. For the participants’ first challenge, they had to collect their own sweat. They were given plastic jump suits to help increase their body temperature, and also provided with various implements (a squeegee, a sponge) with which to soak up the sweat, to collect in vials. The winner of that particular challenge, Eriq (or Erik, I've seen it spelled both ways) the rapper from pod 8 (here is his twitter feed -- I couldn't really find a good pic), sweats even more than I do, and won going away, filling something like 30 vials. The loser, whose name and number I’ve forgotten, filled maybe two.

Another challenge (actually, VAL calls them “treatments”) involved forcing the contestants to spank themselves. Again, I am serious, and this is a real show and it is delightful. The numbers had to use a wooden board to hit themselves with enough force to create a sound that would register on an old-thyme applause meter. There is nothing like seeing a group of people smacking themselves raw, especially when, let’s face it, three of the women are quite physically appealing.

The contestants continue with the treatments for as long as they’re able – until they quit and push the red button located within their pods – or their bodies quit and they pass out or throw up. In the case of the spanking challenge, I was disappointed to see the very attractive dancer (even the dispassionate VAL commented upon her appearance), a voluptuous blond in pod 4, press that red button after spanking her butt red.

The dancer and the rapper were definitely two of my favorite contestants and I was sorry to see them go, but I confess I’ve been rooting for the occupant of pod 9, the “children’s entertainer,” Liberty, who claims to have once been in a polyamorous relationship (this was revealed during a previous challenge – VAL told all the contestants one significant fact about each of them, and then everyone voted on whether to reward or penalize the contestant on the basis of these facts). She’s tough, smart, good-looking, and as I’ve already mentioned, she’s been in a polyamorous relationship. In other words, she’s four-for-four.

The only pic of "Liberty Freeman" I could find online, from her myspace page.

This week, the contestants finished off last week’s challenge, in which they were forced to dress in ape suits and perform a series of tiring and humiliating tasks, including banging cymbals, running around their pods, and eating bananas. Gosh I do love this show.

Professional game show contestant pod number 5 occupant gave up and hit the red button. VAL of course doesn’t tell the other contestants, who keep going, afraid of being the first to quit and therefore forced to leave the competition. This is another of the show’s delightful aspects. Someone quits, but VAL keeps pushing everyone else. The occupant of pod 3, a girl who played HS football, has a hard time keeping her bananas down. In a previous challenge she threw up, but she wasn’t the first to throw up, which is why she remains.

Yep, two contestants threw up during the “make-them-eat-disgusting-crap” challenge.

Finally, 3 throws up in the next “penalty” round, and is forced to hit the red button. She just couldn’t eat another banana. Now two contestants have quit, but there are still three contestants in the game, and so VAL forces them to continue. My favorite, Liberty in pod 9, finally throws up at 17 bananas. She does it with as much dignity as she can muster, “It’s coming dude, I can tell,” she says, lifting her trash can.

Two remain, number 7 the Missionary, and number 2 the martial artist. VAL messes with their heads, telling them they’ll have to consume two bananas in 60 seconds. From their reactions, you’d think they’d just been told they have to consume a live aardvark.

Then she lets them off the hook, and they’re given their next “treatment.” Half their pods are closed off by jail cell bars. So it’s like they’re in a jail cell inside their jail cell. VAL lets them stew for awhile, and they mostly sulk on the floor. Then VAL gives them their first meal, which consists of yet another banana, and one of the energy bars.

The occupant of pod 6, who was spared having to go through the previous treatment, doesn’t mind so much. But no one else wants to eat another banana.

VAL then instructs the contestants to write “letters home.” The contestants read these rambling, incoherent and tear-stained notes in whiny, shaky voices. The Missionary says “I don’t want anyone I know to ever watch this. It’s just me, all alone, in a pod, being a little whiny bitch.” The martial artist in pod 2 says “My body’s beat up; I really think I’m going crazy. I know that I am on the brink of insanity.”

From there, the letters start to get sad.

The Missionary confides that she has always wanted to be on TV. She’s always felt invisible, she says. She might be the first honest reality show contestant ever. Either that or she’s just gone nuts.

(By the way, if you start to feel sorry for the contestants please remember that they are appearing on this show of their own free will, and apparently many of them have profiles at Reality Wanted, where reality show producers look for talent. I'm not saying they "deserve what they get," but they do deserve what they get.)

Finally, the contestants have to “break out” of their cells. Over 20 keys are strewn throughout their pods, and they have to find the six keys that open the six locks that hold them. The keys on the floor are decoys; the keys they want are hanging on the walls, and inside the “sheriff’s pants, on a hanger just out of reach. The contestants have to use ropes to snag the keys and the pants.

This is a wonderful ordeal, as the contestants meet with various degrees of lack of success. Until, finally, number 6 (a former Solitary contestant), locates the final key in the sheriff’s pants, and “escapes” in 56 minutes. Number 3 is second, getting out in 57 minutes. (They spent nearly an hour at this!) Number 7 takes 1 hour 36 minutes. Number 9 makes it out in 1 hour 55 minutes (and calls the producers “peckers” for hiding a key in the sheriff’s pants). Number 2 requires 2 hours 14 minutes to escape, and celebrates deliriously.

Number 6 is once again spared having to participate in the next “treatment.”

But first, just to be mean, VAL makes the contestants create paper airplanes, and throw them into a small target on the other side of the pod. This futile effort drives each of the contestants to frustrated aggravation. Finally, number 6, who is on a roll, gets one. Then another. And another. He wins a reward of peanuts and beer.

Number 3 throws a temper tantrum.

Number 6, enjoying his peanuts, says that he wishes he could share his reward with his “fellow Solitarians.” VAL informs the other contestants, and asks them if they’d like to make a plea to number 6. Number 2 begs him, “Number 6, you are awesome…I bow to you…please share your peanuts with me.”

Because the contestants have no direct contact with one another, VAL relays the message to Number 6: “Number 6, you are awesome…I bow to you…please share your penis with me.”

“Correct that, VAL!”

VAL corrects: “Number 2 does not want your penis. He wants your nuts.”

Oh, VAL, you are delightful.

Next, VAL instructs the contestants to use material provided them to create garments for themselves. Because they’ve been driven insane, the garments they create are demented. Number 6 actually creates a dress, and an elaborate backstory for himself, This dress practices functionality, yet it screams desirability, he says.

What he is wearing looks like a paper muu-muu.

“I’m a modern day, traveling businesswoman,” he continues. “So I go to the meeting during the day. However, I just happen to be single, and I’m looking for the nightlife in the new city I’ve never been. So, I simply…” Here, he tears off the top of his dress, to reveal an even uglier, if smaller paper dress beneath. “I’m ready to go out and hit the town.”

The others prance around their pods like they’ve got DT’s, so proud of their sad creations. VAL “rewards” the contestants with what appears to be a ham sandwich. The contestants excitedly dig in, as if they haven’t been paying attention during the time they’ve been in Solitary.

VAL doesn’t give you a nice big reward like that unless she’s going to do something to try to make you throw it up later.

Yep, the elimination treatment involves forcing the contestants to play a game of putt-putt. For every round they go over par, they have to spin on a chair. Basically, they have to go from one end of their pod to the other in an ever decreasing number of strokes. First penalty is ten spins in 30 seconds.

Number 7 gets penalties on the first two rounds. She’s starting to look a little green.

Number 9 gets a penalty, and she does not look healthy.

Next rounds consist solely of spins. VAL is so mean! Contestants are left stumbling around their pods. Next round, contestants are forced to spin, then hit their balls.

It doesn’t’ take long before the contestants are fighting nausea. Finally, number 9 spits up. “I held out as long as I could,” she says. “I even swallowed puke three times.”

Yuck. But VAL is unsympathetic. “You should have swallowed a fourth time,” she says.

Sadly, my favorite, Liberty the “children’s entertainer” who was once in a polyamorous relationship, has been eliminated. Goodbye, number 9.

But the other contestants aren’t off the hook yet. They’ve still got some spinning, that will continue into next week.

Please, some other cable network needs to pick up this show.

Watch the episode here:



Or go to the Fox Reality Channel website before it, like the channel itself, disappears. You can also watch episodes of past seasons here.

*By the way -- it was pretty much impossible to locate photos of the contestants on this show. Fox Reality is really serious about ceasing operations. They're doing next to nothing to promote this thing. A few contestant photos can be found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Old News: Some Television Shows Actually PAY People to Sit in the Audience!

Radar Online is reporting that Craig Ferguson, the guy who hosts "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," pays some people to sit in his audience:
“The Craig Ferguson Show is currently using a service for their audience procurement,” an insider tells RadarOnline.com. “They have 100 seats, of which 10 are reserved for house guests, and 30-40 members are through requests for tickets. The rest of the seats, about 50-60, are each paid for by the show. At around $20 per person, that’s almost $1,000 per hour-long taping, which is one expensive laugh machine.”
What is so shocking about this story is that the usually quite sophisticated Radar online is pretending to be surprised by it. As anyone who's ever spent any time in Hollywood can tell you--

Most television shows with an audience pay people to sit there and laugh.

It's true. Many years ago, I did it myself. Three times, actually. Once for Bill Maher's annoying "Politically Incorrect," once for the Kirsty Alley nightmare "Veronica's Closet," and once for something called "The Mike O'Malley Show." I was temping at the time, and the same agency that would send me to offices around Hollywood and Burbank also helped with audience procurement. I didn't take them up on their offers very often, but there were three Tuesdays when I was bored, and curious about the process, so I went.

Let me tell you, I earned every motherf*cking penny.

Have you ever sat through a taping of a television show? It is tedious. The same scenes are shot over and over again, and the audience is instructed to laugh each time. A warm-up person who can't be too entertaining (lest he distract from the show itself -- I heard more than a couple of stories about warm-up guys being fired for being too entertaining) tries to keep the audience primed between scenes, when cameras are re-set, and writers do rewrites. A good show, like "Frasier" (a show that did not have to pay people to sit in the audience; they always had too many who wanted to see it) would be done in two hours. I know because that show filmed on the lot where I worked many years ago. A bad show, like "Veronica's Closet," took more than four hours.

I don't know how long "Veronica's Closet" took, because the temp agency only paid me for four hours and so I left before they were done.

Audience shows don't charge admission. They can't, by law. So they give away tickets, at places like Universal Citywalk and Hollywood Blvd. People get free tickets, but they often don't show up. If it's free anyway, and it's either a show you haven't heard of or a show you just don't care about, you're not terribly motivated to attend. For this reason, the shows contract out with an audience service. The audience service will then go through a temp agency, or use some other means, to ensure warm bodies in the seats.

Now, it so happens that I also worked for awhile for a couple of different audience services. And I can tell you that sometimes we didn't want to pay those premium temp agency prices. Sometimes we'd get groups of high school or college students looking to do a little fundraising, and we'd pay them a small fee to recruit as many (enthusiastic) people as possible.

Sometimes we didn't want to pay those premium HS fundraising prices, so we'd contract with rehab centers to bring people who were struggling with sobriety and needed a little extra scratch. We had to pay particular attention to them, because there's little that is more tempting to someone who's trying to stay clean than the opportunity to sneak away onto a studio back lot and get loaded.

We always tried to seat the people who were there for free, with tickets, first. Then we'd start with the paid audience members. Because seating was limited, there were times when not everyone got in, so they would earn something like an hour's pay. Very little. And boy were they angry. They'd been waiting in line for who knows how long, and then they're turned away with only a fraction of what they'd expected to make, which was probably just enough for one small rock.

Oh, the stories I could tell.

Anyway, it's not just that Craig Ferguson is paying people to sit in his audience -- a lot of the people he's paying are probably from rehab centers. (I don't know which audience service does his show, so I really have no way of knowing if they actually use rehabbers; hence the "probably." But it wouldn't surprise me.)

What does surprise me is this, also from Radar's story:
“No one else in late night pays for any portion of their audience. There’s beyond enough of a demand for tickets to Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon,” said our source. “They regularly have too many people who want to attend,” adding that their studios are much larger, averaging around 200 seats or more.
Leno used to have people lined up at his Burbank studio beginning very early in the afternoon, so I'm not surprised by that. And I've heard that there is a long waiting list to get in for a taping of Letterman's show over in NY. But Jimmy Kimmel doesn't have to pay people? Jimmy Fallon?

With his Scottish accent, his charm, his urbane wit, and his immaculately disheveled appearance, why must he pay people to watch him?

Ferguson pic source.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nicole Eggert on "Celebrity Fit Club" Has Put Me in a Melancholic Mood. More Melancholic than Usual, I Mean.

I am of a certain age, just slightly younger than the actress Nicole Eggert, that I can remember having a very serious crush on her when I was a young, hopeful child. She might have been the first actress I thought about in that way; you know the way I mean.

And why not? Look at her:





I actually watched a handful of episodes of the monstrosity that was "Charles in Charge" because of her. And I watched maybe three episodes of "Baywatch". Even I had my limits.

But that woman was hot.

My crush developed at a time when I was so full of hopeful possibility. I could have done anything, or at least I thought I could. I was going to have it all -- the fame, the money, the clear skies and the easy living. I probably even thought that I had a chance with Ms. Eggert, even though I was just a gork living in the hinterlands.

Now look at me. Where is the fame? Where is the money? What the hell happened to me? If the kid I was back then, the one who had a crush on Nicole Eggert, could see me now, he'd be disgusted with me.

This weekend, I happened to catch a couple of episodes of the new season of "Celebrity Fit Club" that had been sitting on the DVR. And who did I see? (As if you couldn't guess from the title of this post):


That's right. My old crush, Nicole Eggert.

Did she think she'd end up on a VH1 reality show featuring out of shape celebrities burning their pants and being chased by dogs (not at the same time)? Does she look back at her own life and career and wonder, just as I do?

Where is my Oscar? she might be thinking. Where is my trend-setting cable network drama?

Nicole, it's possible that neither of us are where we thought we'd be, but can we make a pact right this minute not to dwell on our past mistakes, and move forward with focus and a positive attitude?

You meant so much to me in my youth. At a time when I was so hopeful, you were a part of that. A totally unattainable fantasy, but a part nonetheless. I want us to both be happy. Maybe you drink slightly too many empty calories, and maybe I spend too much time watching bad reality television and reading gossip blogs.

But we're better than this, Nicole. Let's pull ourselves out of this, together.


First Nicole Eggert pic source.
Second Nicole Eggert pic source.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Philip K Dick's "Climategate" novel

That is the title of my latest "When Falls the Coliseum" piece- it can be found here.

A bit from my intro:

For me, one of his best works is the novel The Penultimate Inconvenient Truth, which is the story of a conspiracy among scientists and various world governments to convince people that the planet’s temperature (”planetemp”) is rising. In fact, there is little evidence of this — the scientists and governments are just using it as an excuse to consolidate power. The first chapter, reprinted below, is so prescient that it almost feels like it could have been written today, just now, by me, as a satire. Except for all those classic Phildickian terms, of course[.]

It's satirical! It's parody! It's a parody of Philip K Dick, and a satire of climategate!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Really? THIS is What Got Scotty Lago Kicked out of the Olympics?


I care about the Olympics not at all, and the winter olympics even less, so I have been paying little attention to what is going on in them. But wesmirch has had this story about some punk kid snowboarder or something named Scotty Lago who was kicked out of the olympics for posing for some "racy" pictures.

The pictures can be seen above. Seriously - those are the pictures that got this kid kicked out of the Olympic village:
If Scotty Lago didn't volunteer to leave the Olympics, he'd have been told to leave by the U.S. Olympic Committee ... this according to sources close to Lago.

Lago offered up an apology after a mildly suggestive photo of him -- using his bronze medal for snowboarding to score chicks -- popped up on the Internet. He agreed to leave the Olympic Village on his own accord, but sources close to Lago tell TMZ he received an ultimatum from the U.S. Olympic Committee: either say you're sorry and go ... or get ejected from the Olympic Village.
TMZ at least concedes that the pictures are "mildly" suggestive. I suppose that one of them, in which the woman is biting the medal as it hovers ever near the snowboarder's crotch, might be considered suggestive by extremely prudish people, but come on. It's so thoroughly bizarre as to be more surreal than sexy.

Will "bite my medal" become the new slang for fellatio?

Or am I missing the real point - that it's a BRONZE medal that is being bitten. Would it have been less offensive were it a silver, or a gold?

But as it turns out, being kicked out of the olympic village might be a real punishment. The total cost of the village could approach $1 billion:
The city [Vancouver] admits that, including financing, the budget could skyrocket from an original $750 million projected in 2007 to $996 million by 2013.

The report cited a litany of problems in the earliest planning stages of the project. It said the city didn't fully investigate the ability of developers to build the village at the price promised. Regular reports weren't made updating financing or construction progress. And a variety of costs weren't included in original budget estimates.

"Obviously the city will have to manage this project very carefully in the years to come to gain back what was invested by taxpayers," said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Robertson said the city would wait until next spring to sell the majority of the project's 750 housing units.

"The strategy now is to hold until next May, to let the project get the massive exposure of the 2010 Games," Robertson said.

The city was forced to finance the project last fall after the original lender stopped payment on its loan to the developers.
For that kind of scratch, that must be a hell of a place. Vancouver taxpayers are to be congratulated for spending so much money for it.

Pic source.

Politics Invading Comic Strips: Captain America was Just the Beginning! Garfield, Drabble, Fox Trot, Dilbert, Marmaduke, and Family Circus not Immune!

You have probably heard that the comic book superhero called Captain America recently had an adventure in which he took on a Tea Party-esque group that was determined to bring down the government that Captain America holds so dear. It was all over the news. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

But the so-called "Captain America Tea-Bagging Incident" (which is what I'm now calling it) was just one part of a larger story. In these hyper-partisan times, politics have invaded all of our comics, including those beloved daily strips that appear in our nation's newspapers. Below are just a few examples of "actual" comic strips I collected from my local paper, totally at random. As you can see, even Garfield the cat is taking a political position:











Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hatchet Piece: The Tiger Woods Apology

Have you ever heard of the famous golfer Tiger Woods? He had a bunch of affairs, got caught, and went to sex rehab.

Yesterday, he offered a heartfelt and sincere apology. The text of that apology can be found here. Reading the statement in its entirety will cause the more sensitive among you to become overwhelmed with emotion, as you are made privy to the words of a man who has figuratively ripped open his own chest and exposed the gooey and tender feelings that reside within him. It really is just like that.

But I am a bit of a cynic, I suppose; I had a hard time feeling bad for him.
“Good morning and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends, many in this room know me, may have cheered for me, worked with me or supported me, now everyone of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you simply and directly i am deeply sorry for my selfish and irresponsible behavior I have been engaged in. People want to know how i could have been so stupid and selfish.
No, people don't want to know that, Mr. Woods. People know why you were so "stupid and selfish." It's because you are a horny man who had the opportunity to sleep with literally dozens of women and you took advantage of that.

They have good reason to be critical of you because you are married and you have children who are looking to you as an exemplar of human behavior. And you showed them that men can get married and have children and still sleep around with women. As long as they're fabulously wealthy and go to sex rehab and apologize for it. Way to go, dad.
While I have always tried to be private, I have a few things to say. Elin and i have started to work though this. As she has told me, my real apology to her will not be in words but in action, however what we say to each other will be private. I am also aware of the pain I have caused everyone in this room I have let you down and let down my fans, for many my behavior has been a major disappointment, my behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners ,and everyone involved in my business, but most importantly to the young people we influence, I apologize.
Mr. Woods, a man who always tries to be private does not go around sleeping with every semi-attractive waitress he encounters. A man who always tries to be private does not leave fumbling attempts at erotic voicemails on the phones of said semi-attractive waitresses. (Although I suppose the voice mail in which he suggested that one of his partners change her outgoing VM message so that if his wife called he would not hear her name probably counts as trying to be private.)

He subtly notes that his wife is "taking him back," by revealing that she's told him that his real apology will be through his actions. I suppose she means his actions from this point forward, since he has already shown by his past actions that he has no regard whatsoever for their marriage vows. His wife is, like Mr. Woods himself, showing her children that it's okay for a fabulously wealthy man to cheat on his wife with multiple women -- the woman unlucky enough to be chained to him by marriage will forgive him, as long as he proves through his actions that he's sorry.

That's for the young people he influences. The ones he apologizing to in this paragraph.
Millions of kids have changed their lives, due to the programs I am involved in, and I am still dedicated to that, but I still know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done these things. I am embarrassed that I have put you all in this position, for all I have done I am so sorry, I have a lot to atone for, but one issue I want to discuss. It has been said that Elin hurt me (on the night of the wreck) That angers me there had never been domestic abuse in our marriage, Elin had shown tremendous grace in this ordeal, she deserves praise not judgment.(Looking directly into the camera) I alone am responsible for this situation.
Did you know that Tiger Woods has a charity? If you forgot, he helpfully reminds you of that here. It helps children in some way. They change their lives because of programs he's involved with. Don't you people understand that??? He helps children change their lives.

Also, stop trying to humiliate my wife -- that's my job, and mine alone.
The issue here is that I cheated, I am the only person to blame. I stopped living according to my core values. I knew what i was doing was wrong but thought only about myself and thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to, I felt I was entitled. I had worked hard. Money and fame made me believe I was entitled. I was wrong and foolish. I don’t get to live by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I hurt my mother, my wife, kids, friends my foundation. This has made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to again. It is time to make amends and that starts by never repeating this behavior again. Its not what you achieve in life that matters, it is what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are not what matters, decency and honestly are what matter. Families used to look up to me as a role model to their kids, to those families I am so sorry. I have been in inpatient therapy, receiving guidance.
Mr. Woods, you stopped living according to your "core values" when you got married. Your "core values" are to have sex with many and varied waitresses and pornographic film actresses. And you know what? Good for you -- if that's what you want, you should go for it. You are in a rare and privileged position. You can literally have any woman you want. And you apparently want lots of them. If you hadn't gotten caught, you would still be doing it. You had an elaborate system in place to prevent your being caught. You knew what you were doing, Mr. Woods. Only someone who is living by his "core values" would be so thorough in his preparations to sleep with dozens of other women.

And, Mr. Woods, you felt entitled because you were entitled. That's the way our world works. It might not be fair, and those of us who don't have money and fame might think it's "unfair," but you know what? You have got to live your life the way you see fit. Just don't hurt anyone else (a wife, or children, for instance -- if you have those, then straighten the hell up) in the process.

By the way, what do you mean by "it's not what you achieve...it's what you overcome"? Mr. Woods, you are speaking as if this wasn't completely and entirely your fault. Like someone else slept with all those women, left those voicemails, and then framed you. For crying out loud, there would be nothing to "overcome" if you hadn't voluntarily gotten married and had children that would be hurt by your behavior.

This was entirely your fault.
I have a long way to go but have taken the right first steps. I understand the press wants details,(such as whether he and Elin will stay together, etc) but please know that as far as I am concerned all of these questions and answers are between Elin and me. Some have made up things that never happened they said that I took performance enhancing drugs that has never happened. I still believe it is right to shield my family. They did not do these things, I did, I have always tried to keep my wife and kids separate from my career, however my behavior does not make it right to follow my mom, wife, and follow my 2 yr old daughter to school and report the location. Please leave my wife and kids alone. I have brought this on myself. I have a lot of work to so and i intend to dedicate myself to doing it.
Mr. Woods's concern for his family is wonderful, but it is slightly disingenuous that it didn't occur to him until just now, you know, after he got caught cheating over and over and over. This wasn't just one woman, remember. This was dozens. This was behavior over a period of years. With safeguards in place to prevent his wife finding out so that he could continue said behavior for as long as possible. And now he wants to shield his family? Big of him.

He's mad at the paparazzi now. Because he made himself into a story. Also, uh, he didn't take "performance enhancing drugs"? Did someone accuse him of taking viagra or something?
Part of this for me is Buddhism. It teaches that craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security, it teaches me to stop following every impulse and practice restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught. Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and therapy. In therapy I have learned the importance of keeping spiritual life and professional life balanced. I need to regain my balance. I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out this year. When I do return I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game. I have received thousands of letters and emails to encourage me. To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you. (He added that their encouragement was very helpful and appreciated) Thank PGA tour, it’s commissioners and players (for your support) and I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course. Finally to the many people in this room and homes who believed in me, I ask for your help, I ask you to find room in your heart t one day believe in me again, thank you.”
Buddhism? Really? Is he Richard Gere all of a sudden? I don't know much about Buddhism, but if it teaches you that "craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security," then it sounds ridiculous. What about food? That's "outside ourselves"? And is there a religion that doesn't try to enforce some kind of pointless restraint? Most religion is about teaching denial to followers anyway (I don't want to get too political here), and denial is especially difficult when you're a wealthy superstar who can have everything he wants.

Your problem, Mr. Woods, was caused by the religious fetishism of self-denial. I'm not going to try to get inside your head, but you bought the whole "marriage" thing. Clearly, you didn't want to be married. You wanted to sleep around with dozens of women. But you gave in to marriage. And now look at you -- you're apologizing for behavior that should not be any of anyone's business.

By the way, I'd like to see some of these letters and emails of encouragement. Are there people out there who are worried about Mr. Woods enough to put pen to paper? "Stay the course, Tiger! We're pulling for you!" Or, more likely, "Hello, my name is Brandi and I work at Hooters in Atlanta. Next time you're down why not look me up? I won't tell anyone."

At least Mr. Woods has people encouraging him. He really needs that. Self-esteem issues are probably what drove him to sleep around in the first place.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Many Men Out There Hate Jessica Alba's Grandmother?

The actress Jessica Alba, who is physically attractive, says she will never do a nude scene in a film.

And her grandmother is to blame:
"No, I'll never do a nude scene. I can act sexy and wear sexy clothes but I can't go naked. I think I was always very uncomfortable about the way my body developed, and I remember my grandmother would freak out and throw a towel over me if she saw me wearing just a bra and panties.

"I come from a very Catholic family so it wasn't seen as a good thing to flaunt yourself like that. I can handle being sexy with clothes on but not with them off."

Thanks, Jessica Alba's grandmother!*

*sarcasm

She won't do nude scenes.

Pic source.

Another When Falls the Coliseum posting -- Supreme Court Citizens United Decision

This one about the Supreme Court's decision in the "Citizens United" case. It can be read here. A small sample:
WHEREAS, an informed citizenry is necessary to the perpetuation of our government as it currently exists,

WHEREAS it is in the vital interest of everyone that our government perpetuate itself as it currently exists,

WHEREAS it is self-evident that money is inherently bad,

WHEREAS it is also self-evident that when two or more people get together to spend money to influence elections that is inherently bad,

WHEREAS there is nothing in the First Amendment about the right of people to assemble, except the part about the right of people to peaceably assemble,
It, uh, goes on from there. A few more Whereases, and then some Therefores, and it all wraps up nicely.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day for My Lady

I am not one of those men who believe, rightly, that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a phony holiday created for the sole purpose of selling greeting cards, flowers, and candy. Rather, I am a romantic, in the mold of a better-looking Dennis DeYoung, who once famously sang, “You’re my lady.” I love Valentine’s Day, because it gives me an opportunity to show the ladies my romantic side. One thing I’ve found is, where the ladies are concerned, a little romantic side is greatly appreciated. That’s why I break out a bottle of bubbly romance every February 14th. If you don’t believe me, check this out:


First off, expect me to mention you on a blog.* That is how much you mean to me – enough that I will tell the entire world wide web exactly how much you mean to me. I’m not trying to hide you.


Next, I will drive. There will be no riding the city bus for my lady, when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Deranged, masturbating homeless men shouting obscenities while sitting on soiled seats with gang tags are for the other 364 days of the year. For our romantic evening, nothing less than a subcompact from Hertz will do.


Thirdly, I will pick up the full dinner tab. Forget about going “Dutch treat.” Ruby Tuesday has a two-dinners-for-$20-each deal that includes appetizers and dessert (although I hasten to point out that there is a half-full package of Oreo cookies waiting for us back at my place).


Fourthly, the night is all about you, the special lady I am sharing it with. As far as I’m concerned, there are no other women in the world. And I will refrain from checking out the other strange until you’ve gone to “powder your nose” in the restroom. A lady with me feels special on this special night.


Fifth: A single red rose. A sensual flower for a sensual lady, with petals that are like the flaps of your wondrous mounds, which I expect to have access to later.


Sixth – a little poetry for my lady. Did you catch that simile above, about the rose petals being like your mound flaps? That’s only a small sample of the romantic poetry to which my lady is treated on Valentine’s Day.


Six-and-a-halfth, I hope you’re ready for at least 15 minutes of foreplay, because that’s what you’re getting, my sweet lady. After springing for a full dinner for two and half the car rental (I’ll send you the bill, don’t worry), a lady is generally ready for some sweet romantic action.


Seventh, you come first. I mean that in a sexual way. I can explain it in less obscure terms if you like, but I’m guessing you get my meaning. It’s a double entendre. The part about “coming first.” It refers to the sexual climax. It goes without saying, my lady.


Eighth but not least, 12:01 am is the next day; Valentine’s Day is over. As Dennis DeYoung also once sang, “Babe I’m leaving,” and that’s just what I’ll be doing. Extending the romance into the next day would diminish the specialness of the holiday. Besides that, if I get the car back to Hertz before one am, I think I get a discount.


*This counts as your mention. Enjoy it, my lady.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Captain America Takes on the Tea Partiers, and a New Collector's Item is Created

Captain America was created in 1941 by two comics legends, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, specifically to punch Nazis in the face.
Writer Joe Simon conceived the idea for Captain America, which was refined by his partner, artist Jack Kirby, in 1941. Captain America was a consciously political creation. Simon and Kirby were morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the United States' involvement in World War II and felt war was inevitable. Simon later said, "The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too."
Captain America really did punch Adolf Hitler in the face on the cover of the first issue of his comic book, in 1941.

During the Bronze Age, Captain America fought one of the three worst presidents of the 1970s, Richard Nixon:
But the most famous Nixon story of all time, and one of the most infamous storylines in Marvel history, has to be the Secret Empire story that ran from Captain America #169-176. In events specifically designed to parallel Watergate, Captain America uncovers a vast conspiracy by a shadowy organization called the Secret Empire. Following the paper trail, he discovers that this plot to covertly control America leads right into the White House itself and in the #175 he is shocked to find that the leader of the Secret Empire is none other than President Richard Nixon.
In the mid-aughts, Captain America fought against the US government's efforts to force super heroes to register with the government, and was assassinated for his trouble:
The registration act polarized the superhero community. Captain America (whose true identity was Steve Rogers) considered the legislation an erosion of civil liberties; Iron Man, on the other side, believed that training heroes as the military, firefighters or the police are trained would only benefit society. When the factions came to blows and caused more destruction, Captain America chose to fight his battle in court.

But in the current issue of his title, Captain America takes bullets in the shoulder and stomach while on the courthouse steps.
(The important information above was taken from the New York Times, by the way.)

Except, um, it turns out that Captain America wasn't really assassinated. The bullet froze him in time, or something like that. This of course is an oblique reference to the fact that Captain America was frozen in a block of ice in the ocean between WWII and his revival in the fourth issue of the Avengers in 1964. And of course it makes just as much sense now as it did then.

The point is, it's not unprecedented for Captain America to tackle political issues in comic books. There are dozens of other examples I am too lazy and too disinterested to list here. I need to get to the Tea Partiers.

Apparently, in the current issue of Captain America (#602!), that super hero and his partner, The Falcon, go after a group that seems modeled after Tea Party protesters.
Issue 602 of the comic features Captain America investigating a right-wing anti-government militia group called "the Watchdogs". Hoping to infiltrate the group, Captain America and his African-American sidekick The Falcon observe an anti-tax protest from a rooftop. The protestors depicted are all white and carry signs adorned with slogans almost identical to those seen today in Tea Party rallies like "tea bag libs before they tea bag you" and "stop the socialists."
This has upset some people.
The clear implicit attack on the Tea Party Movement was first noticed by Publius' Forum's Warner Todd Huston. When a minor uproar ensued, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada spoke to Comic Book Resources and defended the issue while apologizing for the panel that seemed to tie real-life Tea Party protesters to the fictional group depicted in the book.

Saying that he could "absolutely see how some people are upset about this," Quesada said that there was "zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration," adding, "There was no thought that it represented a particular group."
Creative people -- and, yes, the people who make comic books are creative people -- get inspiration from everywhere. Why not use the tea party movement as a jumping-off point for a piece of fiction? But the idea that there was "zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration" is completely disingenuous. This is Captain America, one of the most famous super heroes in comics. Soon to be the star of his own movie franchise. Do you think Marvel comics isn't keeping a tight rein on everything related to this guy?

I've had only a bit of experience in the comic book world, and I can tell you that this just does not ring true at all:
Quesada then went on to say that Marvel would "apologize for and own up to" a series of "stupid mistakes" that led to them "accidentally identifying" one of the members of the protest group "as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group." He explained that they were on deadline to get the issue to the printer for publication, and in the course of sending it off it was noticed that the signs in the scene contained no words or phrases. He said the editor then asked the letterer to "fudge in some quick signs" and that in the "rush to get the book out of the door," the letterer "looked on the net and started pulling slogans" from signs captured in photographs at Tea Party protests in order to make them appear "believable."
No way does this happen -- not with Captain America, anyway. They knew exactly what they were doing. They sent the book to the printer and published what they wanted to publish. It's not only the writer, artist, letterer, and editor who check on this stuff. There are marketing people in there, too. Marvel makes comic books and movies. They were just sold to Disney. They knew what they were doing.

And don't forget that Marvel is the company that produced a comic book in which Spider-Man met Barack Obama:
The tea party protesters tend not to like president Obama's economic policies. Some of them think Obama might not have been born in America. So, Marvel likes Obama and doesn't like the tea partiers. That's fine -- what does anyone care? If they don't like it, they don't have to buy their comics.

But come on, own up to it. Don't come up with some obvious lie about how no one was paying attention to what was going on in the monthly comic of one of your most valuable properties and it somehow sneaked out the door without anyone knowing. It makes you look bad.

At least hide behind the First Amendment, for crying out loud.

There was something else at work here. Marvel was going for publicity, which they got, and a new collector's item:
Ed Brubaker, the writer of the controversial Captain America story, told Fox News that any and all references to "tea bag" will be removed from all future editions of Marvel Comics.
Which means you need to run out and get your copy of Captain America #602, first print, original "tea bag" edition right now, before it's all sold out and the comic book shops are charging outlandish prices for this ultra rare issue.

Anyway, I think the really amazing part of this story is that there are actually people out there who are still reading comic books. I thought we'd all moved on to video games.

Captain America punches Hitler in the face pic source.
Captain America tea party protest pages pic source.
Spider-Man and Obama fist bump pic source.

New When Falls the Coliseum Post -- Michelle Obama Takes on Fat Kids

Here is a sample:
Nancy Reagan used her powers of persuasion in her capacity as First Lady to get us all to “just say ‘no‘” to drugs. Now everyone knows that crack is whack, and only losers are users. Drug use is now the exclusive province of entertainers who take drugs purely for their value as entertainment to us. Barbara Bush focused like a laser beam on literacy, and taught a nation to read. The fact that you’re able to read this now is proof of her success in that endeavor. Hillary Clinton delivered on her promise of providing affordable and effective healthcare to every citizen, regardless of income level or pre-existing condition. Laura Bush focused like a laser beam on literacy, and taught a nation to read. The fact that you’re able to read this now is proof of her success in that endeavor.

We’ve been waiting for over a year to discover what weighty issue our current First Lady, Michelle Obama, would eliminate. And now we know, she is bringing her considerable persuasive heft to convince us all that we need to stop being so fat.
All of it can be read here, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New When Falls the Coliseum Posting -- Defending "Dear John" Against a Vicious Attack by Roger Ebert

In my latest When Falls the Coliseum posting, I bravely take Roger Ebert to task over his two star review of the new hit film "Dear John." It's devastating.

A snippet:

The great tragedy of first love is that it is inevitably lost love. The youth that gives the body its vitality has a wonderfully sad side effect: emotional exuberance. Yet, that youth is fleeting. As you mature you become a different person, and that first love gradually becomes someone who’s living with a leper on the other side of the world. It’s part of growing up, and we’re as powerless to stop it as we are to stop the ongoing decay of the bitter cynic who has forgotten what it is like to feel that first love — whose heart has shriveled into a ball of cold detritus, rendered malodorous by decay and disappointment.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saints Win Super Bowl at Cost of New Orleans Hurricane Recovery

The Saints won the sporting event known as the "super" bowl. I know, I couldn't give less of shit about that myself. As I have written repeatedly on this blog, one of my crackpot obsessions is the use of taxpayer money to finance sports corporations.

The Saints might be the worst. As the president, Barack Obama casually mentioned in passing when making his (inaccurate?) "super" bowl prediction earlier this week:
President Barack Obama says the Indianapolis Colts "have to be favored" in the Super Bowl, even though he has a "soft spot" for the New Orleans Saints.
You will note that Mr. Obama equivocated with a "have to be favored" rather than a "I think they're going to win." He is a politician, after all.

As for that "soft spot" for the Saints sports corporation:
Still, Obama says he has a soft spot for New Orleans, "mainly because of what the city has gone through over these last several years" since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Gosh knows the Saints suffered during hurricane Katrina. How did the Saints ever recover from that hurricane that so devastated them?

Actually, the Saints did all right.
After more than a year of negotiating, the Saints say they have reached a tentative agreement with the state that will keep the NFL franchise in New Orleans through 2025, remove the need for a new stadium by upgrading the Superdome and resurrect an abandoned section of the Central Business District with a refurbished office tower and a new sports entertainment district.
...
As part of the deal, which officials said could save the state $281 million when compared with the current agreement that pays the Saints $23 million in subsidies, the state would make $85 million in improvements to the Dome, and Saints owner Tom Benson and his family would buy the vacant Dominion Tower and New Orleans Centre and lease office space back to the state.
That's big of the Saints, who were threatening to leave Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, to forego that "$281 million," in favor of a mere $85 million. That is real sacrifice. And then leasing land back from the owner of the team on top of that. How much does that cost?

Don't know. But don't worry about that -- the Saints' owner says it's a good deal:
"Our community is coming back slowly, and I think this is going to be the shot in the arm that's going to keep it going in that direction, " Benson said Wednesday. "I really believe that this is going to be something that is going to be very sound for our community."
Says the guy who just got $85 million in renovation money, and who knows how much for buying land around the stadium, to be leased back to the state. You can see how selfless this man is, and how concerned he is about the community's recovery.
"There was a lot of excitement about the savings to the state, " Superdome Chairman Ron Forman said. "There were still concerns because this is a tough fiscal year. But we also believe that if we are going to have professional sports in New Orleans, this is so much better than what we had before. And when we show the savings to the legislators, we think we will get whatever we need."
It's good of them to be "concerned." It's that "concern" that led to the Saints' selflessly foregoing $281 million for $85 million. Hell's bells, they saved the state almost $200 on the deal. They really are "Saints"!

Speaking of that $85 million -- where's it coming from?
State officials and lawmakers say the money will likely come from the state's surplus.
Wait, what?

Louisiana has a "surplus"? The Louisiana that was hit by hurricane Katrina? That state has a "surplus"?

"Surplus" means "extra money," doesn't it? As in, they've spent everything they need to, and still have money left over for frivolous shit like a football stadium? So I guess the recovery from hurricane Katrina is complete, then?

Maybe not.
But the path to that higher ground is steep. Blocks upon blocks in the city are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses. Violent crime, while down significantly in recent months, still plagues much of the city, and the low-wage, stagnant economy that has burdened so many of the city’s poor black residents has not been retooled.
...
“The recovery has not moved that far along,” said Renette Dejoie-Hall, the executive editor of The Louisiana Weekly, a black-interest publication that endorsed Mr. [Mitch] Landrieu over other [mayoral] candidates who it said would have needed “on-the-job training on how to maneuver through labyrinthine governmental bureaucracies.”
Now I'm confused. There is a "surplus," but there are still "blocks upon blocks in the city [that] are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses." Why do they have a "surplus" to spend on a freaking football stadium for a sports corporation, when New Orleans is still so bad off?

So, anyway, congratulations to the Saints on their big "super" bowl win. I look forward to seeing their victory parade as it winds its way down those blocks upon blocks of the city that are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses.
On Sunday morning, Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu announced that he would yield the limelight over his landslide election last night to three days of local delirium over the Saints, the Super Bowl, the team's return from Miami on Monday and - win or lose - Carnival parade for the hometown heroes on Tuesday.
Drew Brees was named the MVP of the "super" bowl. His team's win has done so much to help the city of New Orleans feel better about itself. More, apparently, than the state is doing.

Drew Brees pic source.

Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan: One Lip-Syncs, the Other is Probably Not a Hoarder

Does the famous celebrity singer and dancer Britney Spears sound like a mediocre karaoke singer with asthma?

The video embedded below (found via this website) contains what is supposedly the actual audio feed from Britney Spears's microphone. It is hypnotically awful.



Also, at the end -- at around the 3:46 mark -- does Ms. Spears say "That was retarded"? What if Sarah Palin sees this video? Will she demand that Ms. Spears be fired?

Here's something else: When you go to a Britney Spears concert (I am not a fan and I don't know anyone who is, so I really can't ask anyone this question), do you get super excited to hear the new, slowed-down version of "Hit Me Baby One More Time"?

At this point, everyone has pretty much moved on from Ms. Spears. Lady GaGa is a much more entertaining performer with catchier songs. So perhaps Ms. Spears should just stop lip-syncing altogether, and use the actual audio feed from her microphone. That could be her new angle, sort of a freak show kind of thing: Step right up and listen to the painful sounds of the kitschy performer, as she desperately struggles to hang on to what she had at 16!

And as long as I'm on the topic (and this does seem on-topic) -- it turns out that Lindsay Lohan might be a hoarder.



Or probably not.

Niecy Nash, the host of "Clean House" and former star of the late, lamented "Reno 911!," does her best to add drama ("I always say that clutter is an outward expression of an inward thing"), but I'm not really seeing the "secret celebrity hoarder" angle. Maybe I'm just callous, but all I'm seeing a privileged rich kid who gets a lot of free stuff that she keeps.

And who is also a casual liar, telling Ms. Nash something like, "The craziest thing is, I know every single thing I have in here. I have, like, a photographic memory," to which Ms. Nash asks, "Okay, what's in this box?," in reference to a box they happen to be standing beside at that particular moment. Ms. Lohan's reply: "Oh, I haven't looked in that one yet."

I take nothing this shoe-obsessed woman says seriously. Watch one episode of the A&E show "Hoarders," and then tell me if you can feel any sympathy for Ms. Lohan.

The most interesting thing about this clip for me was, I didn't know that Niecy Nash was on the television show "The Insider." Apparently she's a regular correspondent. I admit I'm an occasional viewer of "Clean House," and I have to say I'm disappointed to see her here. One of the best things about "Clean House" is Ms. Nash's "I-don't-buy-that" attitude when people give her excuses about why they can't or won't clean up. She should have been harder on Ms. Lohan.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Taylor Lautner is not MY Stretch Armstrong

Have you ever heard anything stupider than the news that "Twilight" pretty boy Taylor Lautner has just been signed to play the toughest action figure of the 1970s, Stretch Armstrong?
Taylor Lautner has signed on to star in “Stretch Armstrong,” Universal’s movie based on the Hasbro toy.
That's not a misprint. They're making Taylor Lautner into Stretch Armstrong.

Taylor Lautner!

This guy...


Is going to play this guy...

Seriously, can you imagine Taylor Lautner taking on the menace of Stretch Monster?


No way. No way can that "Twilight" pretty boy wrap himself around the strange plastic and corn syrup (or whatever it was that comprised Stretch Monster's innards) that made up the nefarious Stretch Monster, which was easily Hasbro's most terrifying action figure nemesis.

In order for Taylor Lautner to have a chance against him, they're going to have to cast someone like Clay Aiken in the role. I mean it -- I just don't see it.

Universal is really playing with fire here. Stretch Armstrong is an important part of our childhoods, and basically Universal is saying, "We're just going to take a big steaming crap all over your memories in order to make a few bucks by casting a bankable star that a bunch of little girls or something want to watch in this movie." And that sucks, man.

How many hours did I spend... pulling that guy's arms and legs? How many hours did I spend wondering what in the holy hell is the liquidy goo stuff that is inside his body? How many hours did I spend wondering what the hell that stuff tastes like?

And Universal, with callous disregard for the literally millions of Stretch Armstrong fans, who have been dreaming about a film version of their favorite action figure for decades, has decided to cast that kid from "Twilight"? That's it. I am already calling for a boycott of this.

Seriously, who is with me? I already hate this movie, it's a huge mistake, and I don't we should reward a cynical movie company that only cares about making a profit instead of making a movie that will appeal to those of us who have loved this wonderful character that meant so much to our childhoods.

They ruined Transformers. They ruined G.I. Joe. They ruined our childhood. At long last -- they have gone too far. This stops now! Down with the cynical exploitation of our favorite action figures for movie profit!

Leave Stretch Armstrong alone!


Stretch Armstrong and Stretch Monster pic source.
Taylor Lautner pic source.

The Obamas Seem Not to Care So Much Anymore About their Daughters' Privacy

Back in August last year, president Obama wanted the press to keep away from his daughters.
Unlike recent presidents, Obama has two young children, and the first couple is adamant that the girls be left alone. That means no approaching, cameras in tow, when Sasha and Malia are trying to get ice cream, or perhaps ride on the island’s famed carousel.

Aside from wishing a good time for all, in fact, the president had one clear message yesterday for reporters, said Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary: “The first family would very much appreciate if you respect the privacy of the girls while they’re out here on vacation.’’
That sounds reasonable. After all, it's not the kids' fault that their parents are politicians; why should they be punished for it?

Now, however, it seems that the "first family" (do they really refer to themselves that way?) is somewhat less concerned about the daughters' privacy. In fact, Michelle Obama, the wife of the president, blabbed to the world about -- well, it appears as though Ms. Obama blabbed about her daughters' weight.
"We went to our pediatrician all the time," Obama said. "I thought my kids were perfect -- they are and always will be -- but he [the doctor] warned that he was concerned that something was getting off balance."

"I didn't see the changes. And that's also part of the problem, or part of the challenge. It's often hard to see changes in your own kids when you're living with them day in and day out," she added. "But we often simply don't realize that those kids are our kids, and our kids could be in danger of becoming obese. We always think that only happens to someone else's kid -- and I was in that position."
All "first ladies" (what an irritating term!) champion some sort of "issue" (what an irritating tradition!). With the previous "first lady" it was literacy. The one before that was into more general childhood/adoption issues (she also tried to pass universal health care). The one before that was literacy. The one before that was "just say no." Etc.

Ms. Obama's issue is apparently childhood obesity.
On the one-year anniversary of Michelle's move to the White House, she has finally chosen her pet issue: childhood obesity. This news comes at the same time as a CDC report that says childhood obesity has plateaued. 17 percent of children are obese—that's about the same as it has been for the past five years. However, the number of extremely obese children is on the rise, and Michelle seeks to reduce these rates through changes to the school lunch program and continuing to maintain the White House vegetable garden.
(My emphasis in the above because, really, how is a White House vegetable garden supposed to do anything about childhood obesity? Is the author of that post really so clueless, or are Ms. Obama's initiatives regarding her "pet issue" really so sparse?)

There is plenty to debate about the "obesity epidemic," but there are also a lot of kids who do not eat "healthy." I don't see anything particularly wrong with trying to educate people about what they can do to maintain better health. But it doesn't exactly have a "cutting edge" feel to it, does it?

First Lady taking on childhood obesity.

Okay, fine, I guess. But I wonder if any of Ms. Obama's childhood obesity initiatives will include any programs aimed at improving parenting skills? Because I have to say that if I had been the son of a "first lady" who went on television when I was a little kid (I have no idea how old the Obamas' daughters are) and implied to the world that I was almost, just by the narrowest of margins a little fatty boy, it would be enough to drive me to eat. A lot. Heck, it might even get me started on drugs, and make me stop reading, and caring about kids.

Which would be a slap in the face to all the "first ladies."

Did Michelle Obama forget that the White House has said her daughters are off limits?

Michelle Obama pic source.