Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Recycled Bile

Can't face the papers anymore--if I never have to teach Antigone again, it will be too soon; it's really the Romeo and Juliet of Greek Drama--a B- play by an A+ author, used by lazy teachers because it's "easy." And, though nobody will admit it, "dull." Anyway, screw it. I need a break. And things are happening that I really can't deny others my brilliant commentary on. (Or my equally brilliant way with sentence construction.) Much of which follows arose from an e-mail colloquy I maintain with several friends, who are all just as smart and articulate as I am (maybe more so), but who have actual jobs and therefore can't be bothered with something silly like a blog.

Now. As much as I'd like to go on a riff on Bill O'Reilly's recent, um, difficulties, I just can't. It's too soon, and if it all turns out to be a lie, I'll feel just awful--well, not awful, but "disappointed that it wasn't true and shame-faced for allowing my desire for it to be true interfere with my dedication to the enlightened wisdom of empiricism." (By the by, for those of you who live in a world where you only pay attention to relevant news and ignore tawdry distractions from matters that affect you directly--here's what I'm talking about: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1013043mackris1.html - I'll wait here while you read it--it's lengthy, but well worth the time, particularly for the "falafel" gaffe.) Indeed, my hesitation to believe it stems from my desire for it to be true--I've always disliked O'Reilly because, having watched him interview people with whom he disagrees, he clearly is completely uninterested in anything they might have to say. I remember a special he aired on Fox (the "Fox" of "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "Futurama," and "Arrested Development," by the way--if you want to curse Rupert Murdoch, you need to remember that if not for him, our popular culture would be a poorer place...) It was supposed to be Bill taking on the evil forces assaulting our children--which seemed to consist of the marginal-at-best Insane Clown Posse and the already-past-his-15-minute-mark Marilyn Manson--and I actually wanted to watch because, unfamiliar with O'Reilly's work (I only watched CNN back then, with occasional dips into MSNBC for the car-wreck/hilarity factor of their rampant tabloidism ), I thought it might be good for someone to challenge these swill peddling chuckle-heads. But damned if he didn't let me down. He asked Manson and the ICP and others essentially the same question: "How dare you sell this filth to kids?" And they all answered--in remarkably lucid, intelligent language--you'd never know it from their lyrics, but these guys have a pretty wide vocabulary!--"Well, Bill, actually, we don't. Our material is intended for older teens and adults, and kids shouldn't be exposed to our stuff. That's why we really don't have a problem with warning labels and TV ratings and such means of parental control, because we believe that, while we have a perfect right to say and do what we want as artists, we also have a responsibility to make it clear to parents that we're not for the kiddies. And if the kiddies are still getting our stuff, well, Bill, I think we need to consider the possibility that their parents might not be quite as involved in their kids' lives as they should be." I listened--and was, with reservations, convinced. O'Reilly didn't, and wasn't. He simply repeated his accusation that they were filth peddlars and wanted to know how they could live with themselves. And these folks would, again, patiently and calmly explain again that they had no problem with parents refusing to let their stuff in the house, and indeed, encouraged them to do so. And O'Reilly repeated his accusation that they were selling to kids, and should be ashamed. And so on. I left this show thinking not that Manson and ICP and so forth were a**holes, but that O'Reilly was a terrible journalist. Which, of course, just goes to show how naive I was. I actually thought he was a journalist.

Flash forward a few years, and I've come around to the relatively wide-spread conviction that he's a mean-spirited bully who claims to be politically unaffiliated, a title he deserves as much as Bush deserves his title of "a uniter, not a divider." (Think what you will about Bush, pro or con, he has not brought this country together. And you may blame the left for this, but hey, if he couldn't deliver, he shouldn't have made the pledge. If I pledge to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together, and I don't because they're both incalcitrant jerks, that's not my fault, but I am to blame for making a promise I never had any chance of fulfilling.) And now he's been accused of horrible, horrible behavior. (Well, OK, let's keep this all in proportion--'horrible' behavior--Michael Jackson has been accused of 'horrible, horrible' behavior. And for a real dose of reality, the Sudan is witness to genuinely horrible behavior. We're such silly people, Americans. If the allegations are true, though, O'Reilly is a toad.) But we don't know if they're true--admittedly, the detail of those recounted conversations give a strong, strong whiff of "on tape"--and because I want them to be true, I must force myself to be skeptical. Francis Bacon pointed out that science is never so prone to error as when approached with one's mind already made up. So I'm going to wait on this one before I mock. Stay tuned.

Now--the other issue: http://slate.msn.com/id/2108346/ My hero, Jon Stewart visits Crossfire and, in his own words, refused to be Tucker Carlson's "monkey"--refused to turn on the joke-machine when he was clearly furious with these guys and what they've done to political discourse. I'm no blinkered idealist who looks back to a golden past that never was (if I were, I'd be a Reaganite), when people conducted themselves with perfect decorum. But the shouting on TV these days is utterly beyond the pale--watch similar 'panel' shows from the '50s-'70s if you doubt me--and it's really become about volume rather than substance. Nasty partisan hackery there has always been--the Johnson campaign's "Flower Girl" ad is easily the lowest below-the-belt blow of 20th century politics--but it wasn't called "news analysis"--it wasn't considered a necessary addendum to the news--we didn't have to have the news explained to us on a nightly basis. And so I'm behind Stewart all the way on this one.

Besides which, it seems to me that Stewart isn't Kerry's "butt-boy" as Carlson (whom I usually rather like--as conservative pundits go, he's generally calm, dispassionate, and even when he's wrong, his un-O'Reilly-like willingness to listen and respond to the other side is quite disarming, given the overall offensiveness of his venue) put it. (Carlson, by the way, was the victim of a harassment suit similar to O'Reilly's, which was ultimately tossed out when it was proved he quite literally had not been in the same state at times the plaintiff claimed he'd assaulted her. That sort of thing--that blatantly false, insanity-motivated kind of lawsuit is what makes me draw back from tarring O'Reilly just yet.) But Carlson's wrong on this one--yes, Stewart tossed Kerry soft-balls--largely because I'm convinced Stewart still thinks of himself, rightly, as at best a 'talk-show' host, not a 'newsman.' And besides, I've seen Stewart make fun of Kerry on the show quite a few times, and he makes a point of bringing on prominent Republicans and conservatives--hell, he had O'Reilly on last week and treated him quite politely! I do think he mocks Bush quite a bit more, but then, that's because Bush is the friggin' President. That's the job of the so-called jester--to make fun of the King, not the pretender to the throne. Because Bush, as President, is a symbol for the status quo--he's the guy we voted into office, he's "what we want"--and therefore he's the best means we have to make fun of ourselves. And let's face it, Bush is, to paraphrase Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, "a man screaming to be made fun of." Kerry's not perfect, but his flaws aren't quite...I don't know...laughable. Or as laughable. He's stiff, and robotic, and he talks slowly and very carefully. All of which may be legitimately mocked, just as one might mock his policies or past political/personal actions, if one is so inclined. But he just isn't as funny as Bush--not yet, anyway--and to suggest that Stewart--who at the end of the day gets paid to be funny--should ignore the funnier of the two men out of some kind of bulls***, unwritten 'equal-time' rule is just silly. Plus which, Stewart's right about shows like Crossfire--I don't understand why his diatribe shocks anyone who watches the show. For God's sake, the show largely exists to mock the media itself. You watch the segments where Stewart as anchor plays 'straight-man' to the reporters and commentators doing their brilliant impersonations of stupid, lazy, and/or biased talking heads and if you can't figure out that CNN, MSNBC, and FOX are all being royally reamed, you're just not paying attention.

Sigh. I will say that calling Tucker a "d--k" goes over the line, in my view--it moves the ground from Ad Hoc to Ad Hominem--though Tucker initiated the slide with his remarks to Stewart--"I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion, " said Carlson, to which Stewart replied, not without wit: "You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show." But I actually don't see any hypocrisy in Stewart's harsh criticism of the media and political culture with his claim to be "just a comedian"--I think his point is that he shouldn't have to be the one to do this kind of political analysis/criticism--he is, after all, "just a comedian"--that someone else, someone more important--someone, say, of the level of Mencken or Murrow or Cronkite should be out there ripping this whole mess apart. But no else will step up, so Stewart does. And he is funny--I think Dana Stevens's idea that this appearance will "cost him fans" is outright stupidity--the people who are his fans are his fans precisely because this is the sort of thing Stewart does--because this is the attitude Stewart conveys. The Daily Show is, much like Limbaugh, a format and an attitude that struck a deeply responsive chord in an otherwise ignored sector of the population--in this case, those with a nascent sense of just how much bulls*** our media discourse is made of. That the discourse is dominated by conservatives right now is simply a reflection of the current administration, so of course Stewart goes after more conservatives than liberals. If Kerry gets elected, trust me, he'll get the same kind of treatment from Stewart...

Friday, October 15, 2004


...is what I'll be on for roughly a week, whilst I wade through a stack of grading the height of (Insert Name of Your Favorite Basketball Player Here--I don't have one, and Shaq just seems too damn obvious.)

A small piece of semi-bigotry before I go, though: Several readers of the Top Ten entry pointed out that I hadn't included what they consider to be the most loathsome of contemporary cultural phenomena--Cell Phones. To which I responded by smacking my forehead in an "Of Course!" gesture of self-castigation. Cell phones--unless you're using them for emergencies or jobs that actually require them--are indeed a blight on the world, largely because they require people to talk quite loudly, thus eliminating your ability to block out their voices by filing them mentally amidst the background noise of life. No, instead you've got to listen to what they're saying. And oh my, do you ever wish you didn't have to. Because there's no surer way of becoming a misanthrope (and I should know!) than listening to what other people "chat" about. "Hey! What's up? Nothing, how 'bout you? Uh-huh. Nah, I'm just gonna hang out. Did you talk to--what'd she say? Yeah, I thought that skirt was too short, too. Total skank. My sandals? Yeah, they're working out OK. Oh, please, you know he was totally checking you out. Yeah--I gotta go--the teacher's giving me the look. Yeah, I know he is. 'Later." Sad in itself, this one-sided conversation becomes perfectly suicide-inducing when one considers that it is a transcript of every single cell-phone conversation ever had. (By a young woman, of course. Or a gay man. Straight men have relatively similar chats, just replace "skirt was too short" with "I had a shot with her--turns out she's a bitch" and "sandals" with "new V-8.") Hear it once, and you're annoyed. Hear it twenty-seven times, and you start praying for the Apocalypse. It's not simply that this is a conversation that didn't need to happen on a cell-phone. It's a conversation that didn't need to happen ever. And yet it does. All the time. Everywhere. Libraries, movie theatres, funerals--why risk missing this incredibly trivial call from someone you'll see personally within the hour when you can offend dozens with your inanity and rudeness?

So where's the bigotry (apart from the misogyny)? Simple: Camera cell-phones. Now, I know that America is the land of the piece-of-s*** late-night infomercial Ron Popeil product. I get that. Singing basses, and what not. And that we've got a tendency to make products that attempt to 'conveniently' combine two items that really don't need such combination--"But wait! It's also a potato-peeler--now how much would you pay???"--but I've got to say this: Cell-phone cameras absolutely scream "Japanese technology." (Ah-hah! Bigotry! Racism! At last, a reason to hate me!) But I'm not bashing the people, or even their culture, really--well, I am, but only an odd, specific facet of that culture. American 'engineers' combine unrelated products because they think these two things will make the other more convenient--because they think (wrongly) that they go together. Japanese engineers combine products just because they can. I mean, how many times, really, have you said to yourself: "I can't lug around a camera and a cell phone--if only there were some way to combine the two!" That'd be "never," right? And yet there they are, out there by the millions. (Which goes to prove, however arbitrary and loony these Japanese designers may be--they exist because Japanese and especially American consumers will buy this crap. How else to explain the success of the Tamaguchi?) Japanese technology isn't about 'form follows function' or 'find a need and fill it,' it's about "Hey, we could put together this gadget and this gadget and, like, you could use both of them!" "But, one is a diabetes blood tester and the other is an electronic harmonica." "Yeah! Wouldn't that be awesome?" Well, no, it wouldn't. Yet the Japanese will create such things--out of pride in their ability to do so? Out of contempt for their ovine consumers? Out of the utterly ridiculous notion that these things need to exist? Personally, I think it's a child-like wonder at the endless possibilities of technology--remember when you were a kid and designed your 'dream house' and it had an arcade and an indoor swimming pool and a shark tank and a moat and a fireman's pole and a helicopter pad? None of those things really 'belong' together, but it was so cool to imagine a place where you could have all this neat stuff together, just because. I suspect there's something like that at work here, and it's endearing, really. It's just that, well, for God's sake, guys--if you're bright enough to build such a ridiculous thing, how about working on something a little more practical, like an electric car with a drive-radius of more than a block and a half? Come to think of it, I'm not bigoted--these people are doing rather remarkable things--I just wish they weren't doing remarkably silly things...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

An Editorial Response Leads to a Portrait of Pure Evil

I've been asked, nay, commanded to post something--and the fact that I'm submitting to this command should indicate from whence it comes--*cough*naggingspouse*cough*--like it's my fault she has a tedious day-job and needs the distraction of my misanthropic ramblings. Well, fine, then.

A curious, but in some ways predictable response to my last post--first, parents wrote me personally (no posting for them--perhaps worried that I might cruelly savage their offspring on-line yet again?) to deny my assessment of their various spawnings. Fair enough, but I'm presenting the non-parent's view of children. Maybe when someday I get beamed aboard the Mothership (pun semi-intended), I'll come around to the thought that they're the greatest blessing of life, but until then, folks, they're a damned nuisance and that's all there is to it. Put it this way--I'd much rather sit next to a smoker on a plane, in a restaurant, in a movie theater--hell, basically, if I'm sitting, I'm probably either reading, having a conversation, or watching something interesting, and children are just designed to f*** that sort of activity up.

But you go ahead and love them--I'll concede that I'd much rather you treat them with that sickly bias of cloth-eyed adoration than not, since they're then less likely to grow up into the sort of snotty bastards like the jerk who broke into my car last week. Didn't even steal anything! I mean--isn't that the textbook definition of "Adding Insult To Injury"?

Let me see if I can reconstruct this slope-browed jackass's thoughts as he went about his thuggish business: "OK, let's break into a car--so many lined up along the street here, which to choose? Wow, there must be, like, fifty--or so I assume, since I can't count past 12--ten fingers and two flipper-feet--damn Mom for drinking Pine-Sol while she was pregnant. OK, OK, let's not get distracted like that time I spent eight days staring at the light-bulb in the closet--good thing that burned out, I'd have died of thirst! Where was I? Oh, yeah, committing a random act of stupid theft on some poor bastard's vehicle. OK, pick one, pick one--Mercedes? BMW? Nah, too high tone for me--don't want to seem pretentious in my black-hearted larceny. But I'm not going for those Honda Civics or Ford Focus pieces of garbage--I may be an evolutionary throw-back to the era of amphibian troglodytes, but I've got my pride. Hey--the Nissan Maxima!--not too sporty, not too shoddy--perfect! OK, the Maxima it is. Now. Hmm, should I smash the window or try to pry it open? Oh, heck, let's go with pry--sure, it'll be much harder, take much more time, and do more structural damage--but then, it's not like I'm in a hurry here, or want to resell anything I might acquire! Oof! Urf! Hngh! Hurgh! Hmm. Prying doesn't seem to work--oh, hell, I guess I gotta smash the thing...Hey! This damn car has an alarm! Ohhh--so that's what that incredibly obvious flashing red light on the instrument panel meant--jeez, it's not as if it was hard to see in the dark of this unlit street! Boy am I a moron! Sheesh! Welp, better not dawdle, then. Might as well snag that radio and--oh jeez! The damn radio panel just came off in my hand! It's one of those stupid detachable thingies that are supposed to deter theft! Shoot! Drat! Well, what am I supposed to do with this damn thing? Ah hell, it must weigh about 2 ounces--can't be bothered to lug that millstone away. I'll just drop it here on the grass--Omigod! The sprinklers are going off! I'm getting all wet--better hotwire the car and--oh, wait! The water from the sprinklers is going into the car through the window I just smashed! Now it's all damp and soggy in there. Well screw that--I'm not stealing a soggy car! I'd have to wait for it to dry out before I brought it to the chop shop--you know those guys won't take just any old car! Man, would they ever give me the business if I showed up with this! Well. Gosh. I guess I better just walk away from this one. I mean--look at all those bedroom lights going on--man, that alarm is loud, isn't it?--hey, are those sirens? Boy oh boy, is that ever my cue! I should be going to bed anyway--the short school bus will be by to pick me up for 'career training' tomorrow morning!"

People suck. People really, really suck. And once again--another argument for not having kids and making more of them...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Top Ten List

Ian Shoales (the misanthropic public persona of Merle Kessler) said that he hated Top Ten Lists--that they were shorthand for the smart, and guideposts for the stupid. And yet, as viewers/readers of High Fidelity will recall, there's something addictive about them. Letterman has done, as he remarked the other night, over 4000 shows (including, one assumes, his years on "Late Night With"), and the Top Ten List remains a popular fixture still, arguing mightily for the durability of the format. Plus, they're a cheap and easy method of conversational bomb-throwing--say, in a list of "Top Ten Films of All Time," you squeeze One Night at McCool's between Seven Samurai and Citizen Kane--by God, you're gonna hear about it. It's the perfect tool for the loathsome, reptilian blogger.

So who am I to resist?

Let's see: How about...hmm...Top Ten Revoltingly Overrated Cultural Phenomena? In no particular order:

10. The Pennant Race. A lot of attention being paid to that these days, but really folks, if the Cubs or the Red Sox don't win the Pennant and The Series, who really gives a good god-damn?

9. The Oscars. As I've implied before, the median age of the Academy Voter is roughly 687 years. (Sorry, 687 years young. Wouldn't want to appear age-ist.) These are not people who are open to, shall we say, films that contradict decades of preconceptions--the collective view that Playing Gimps and Retards is Hard and Therefore Better Acting, and Long Historical Movies Are Good and Comedies Are Bad. Put it this way: Titanic and Forrest Gump won Best Picture. Citizen Kane and Rear Window did not. I rest my case. So, again, who really gives a good god-damn?

8. The Olympics. I know I've already ragged on them, but let's do it again. Let's stop pretending that it's about "All the Nations of the World Coming Together in Peace to Celebrate the Purity of the Athletic Experience." It's all about international d--k-swinging, and which American will win a gold in a high-profile event in order to get the endorsement deals waiting back in the States. Oh, and about which African will win the Marathon--though I confess an admiration for this accomplishment--the impoverished nations of Sub-Sahara may not be able to afford any kind of training facilities for their athletes, but when all you need to train is a pair of legs and an open road, my GOD do they show their stuff. Still, four months after the fact, who gives a good god-damn? Except those poor 12-year-old gymnasts and figure-skaters, whose lives have peaked prior to menstruation. Good luck on having a happy life, girls. See you in the mug shot after you crash your car in the getaway from the liquor store hold-up.

7. Every Single Popular Musician Ever. Maybe one or two exceptions to this. But even with a group like the Beatles, you can't help but watch those New York girls screaming and screaming and screaming at the airport when the Fab Four get off the plane, and fainting at the Ed Sullivan show, and think "Jesus--it's just the friggin' Beatles, folks!" This goes double for Elvis, the Stones, Zeppelin. Don't even get me started on the Dead. People who were devasted when Cobain shot himself seriously needed to step back and say, "Well, Nevermind was a good album, but it's not like it changed my life or the world." And never mind the groups/performers that really, really suck--I won't waste your time taking cheap shots at Britney, or Christine, or Beyonce--who actually has the revolting nerve to go mono-nominative. I like lots of current musicians--I think Alanis Morrissette is quite witty, I think David Bowie still has interesting things to say and do, I think there's a lot of relatively talented people out there. But so what if I do--it's my own taste, and it doesn't make them any good. I also like Dodger Dogs and Taco Bell nachos--doesn't make them haute cuisine. It's like Gilbert & Sullivan, folks. It may not be easy to do what they did; nobody else could have written The Mikado--but that doesn't make it deep or meaningful. Pop music is just something to make the car-ride more bearable when you're stuck in traffic. Let it go.

6. Bragging About Your Native City. This is especially true of Americans. Frankly, thanks to McDonald's, Starbucks, Target, and the Multiplex, your city is no different from any other. I can have the exact same experience in New York as I can have in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, etc.--we are all the same city, now. So stop pretending, New Yorkers, that yours is the greatest city in America--it isn't. It's crowded, noisy, filthy, and hostile. It has moderately good museums and libraries, a zoo, a big park, and lots of crazy people cadging change and screaming about the electronic elves sending microwaves into their brains through their foil-lined underwear. In short, it is exactly like every other major city in America. Stop deluding yourself into imagining you're unique. You're not. Let it go.

5. Children. Shame on you if you have them, my pity for you if you don't. Yes, we must propogate the species, I suppose, but stop stop stop talking about how wonderful they are. I know, I know, you truly, truly believe that your child is the exception, that your child is the good one. You're wrong, and if you doubt me, look at the face of the person on the plane who has to sit next to your child. Not happy, is he? Wonder why? Because children suck. All of them. Even yours. I recognize that you are genetically hard-wired to love and adore and worship your child, and I suppose it's just as well that you do, because if you didn't, you'd realize what we all know: your child is nothing more than a shaved monkey: loud, obnoxiously curious, uncontrollable in temper and in toilet habits, and amusing only from a distance and behind bars.

4. Celebrations of patriotism. Not only is it the last refuge of a scoundrel, it's like being proud to be subject to gravity--not exactly a major accomplishment, that whole "having mass" thing. Being born in a certain country had nothing to do with you--being an American (something we hear far too much of in this post 9/11 era) is not an achievement. It's basically a product of inertia. You stayed put. Good for you. So does the mold underneath my fridge--yet nobody writes songs of the mold's nobility. Only people who actually make their country a better place get to tout their patriotism. That narrows down the list of appropriate patriots to about 4. And you don't know any of them because, being true patriots, they're humble and don't want to tout their own achievements when they know they owe it all to their country. You're American. Big deal--you're also an a--hole, and that is something you had a lot to do with, and I don't hear you bragging about that.

3. High Fashion. I don't think I need to waste anyone's time on this one. Let's move on, shall we?
2. Getting Sober/Kicking Drugs/Losing A Lot Of Weight. Yay for you. And frankly, so what? If I drop a plate of cookies on the kitchen floor and make a mess, and then I clean it up, I don't expect a round of hugs and a movie of the week and the cover of People. I made the damn mess, so of course I cleaned it up. If you chose to f--k up your life and the lives of those around you and then you decide to stop, that's not an applause-worthy event, that's just par. The minimum. I'm much more impressed by those who were careful enough not to f--k up in the first place. So we're happy you're not an embarassing mess anymore, really. But don't become an equally embarassing self-advertisement for Going Clean--the rest of us were able to eat and drink and ingest sensibly, and we're going to continue, so bite us, loser.

1. The Jihad Against Smoking. Jesus, people, it's smoke, it's not gaseous mercury. Why we've allowed ourselves to turn into a nation of complete and utter cowards and ninnies over this subject baffles and infuriates me. Whatever happened to "Smoking or Non-Smoking"? A choice: simple, clean-cut, not judgmental. Sure, smoking is bad for the smoker, but since the science on second-hand smoke is anecdotal at best, what the hell? I'm not a smoker myself, but I'm embarassed by those who choose to speak for me--I really don't mind if I'm at a bar and someone next to me lights up--I'm at a bar, for Chrissakes, I'm clearly not there for my health. You want a non-smoking gym? Fine. But what's up with "You can't smoke on this plane, but here's all the free booze and wine you can pound, Mr. First-Class Passenger"? You know who I blame for this? Parents. "Not in my baby's lungs, you don't!" You know what? I take it back--this Top Ten List SHOULD be in a particular order--just so I could put Children first. But really, that's not quite fair. It isn't just Children who are the problem. It's the second-hand Children they create, also known as Parents. Now those people really suck...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Followup to Yesterday's "AAARGHH"

So, after my raw-throated shriek of frustration at the mainstream media's indifference to this lie, who comes along and saves my sanity--and once again proves my prior argument that the show is increasingly the only place to turn for true reporting? Yes, The Daily Show, where Stewart marvellously ripped Cheney by cutting from the zinger to the CNN footage of Cheney and Edwards sitting next to each other. Thank you, Jon and your wonderful team of writers and co-stars. Thank you, Comedy Central. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That said--

Feeling better about myself and the way of the world, I made the mistake of going to the New York Times online, and read this headline:

Cheney Says Report Finding No Illicit Arms in Iraq Justifies War

Boy did that one cause me to give a pre-morning-coffee double-take. What? What?! OK, I'll spare you the references to Orwell and Lewis Carroll (though I swear a large rabbit with a pocketwatch hopped by me just now), but really, I mean: damn. At some point, you just have to stand back and marvel. At some point, anger and nausea has to be replaced by awe and even a horrified kind of admiration. I mean, consider the headline, "FDR Says That Report Finding Japan's Failure To Attack Pearl Harbor Justifies War." Or "Lincoln Says That Report Finding South's Refusal To Secede Justifies War." I mean--you just--I--it--we--HELP!!!!

The full article:


Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Sigh. OK, look, I'm going to vote for Kerry unless things change dramatically between now and November--and I mean, I'd have to find out that Kerry was the gunman on the grassy knoll AND was the real mastermind behind the Tate-LaBianca murders--but I pride myself on giving credit where it's due. I watched last night's Veep debate with the assumption that Edwards was going to just walk away with it--that he'd be charming and witty and well-informed and Cheney would look like an evil ogre. Well, that didn't quite happen. Cheney--no Bush he--gave as good as he got, and even though he kept rubbing his hands together in a gesture that just screamed "Uriah Heep," and even though you can actually see the waves of evil rising over him like hot air over an asphalt desert road, he was thoughtful and articulate and kept Edwards on the defensive most of the night, and used his scorn in an effective rather than odious manner, and even had the cojones to let things go, not to use all of his allotted time if he didn't feel he needed it. Brave. He didn't talk much about Bush, of course, because why would you? Bush is a weak product who won't sell; you focus on the war, on your opponent's weaknesses, etc.--that's just smart debating. And--getting to the point here--he had the line of the night. The line that everyone was going to remember. The line that Lloyd Bentsen set the gold standard for when he nailed Quayle with "I knew Jack Kennedy. I worked with Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." Bush Sr. won the election, but Quayle was destroyed from that point on--he was forever tarnished as "the Not Jack Kennedy" candidate, and never even came CLOSE to getting the next nomination for Prez. And I thought Cheney had that line when he just flat out stated, cold and hard, that Edwards's Senate attendance record was so utterly shameful that the two men hadn't met until Edwards walked on the stage that night. OUCH! Vicious. Devastating.


Please for to read: http://news.bostonherald.com/election/view.bg?articleid=47763

WHY AREN'T WE ALL SCREAMING ABOUT THIS??? OK, clearly, I'm screaming about it, but come on: a candidate for Vice-President LIED in order to make a major charge against an opponent in a televised debate, and no-one (save the B.H.) seems even slightly interested! Please, God, help me not to have my head explode like those poor bastards in Scanners...