Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Muchos Huevos Grandes"

By Cassandra D












Stephen Colbert earned his own award when he demonstrated almost appallingly large cajones in his send-up of the President and the press at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Bush's Bubble was in shreds after that one.

Do you think Colbert actually expected to get laughs? Could it be that he saw an opportunity to personally skewer everyone who irritates him all within one compact presentation?

Crooks and Liars has a clip. CSPAN carried the whole awkward and ballsy thing.

It was enough to almost make me feel sorry for ol' G Dub. But then I read stories like this one from the Boston Globe, and I remember that George could use a reminder that he isn't our king. Congress doesn't seem to be telling him, so maybe it falls to the likes of Stephen Colbert to do the job.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Random 10

My goodness. This week's iPod shuffle makes me look so ... so ... uncool.

1. Fiona Apple, "Waltz (Better Than Fine)"
2. Alex Chilton, "With a Girl Like You"
3. Fatboy Slim, "Punk to Funk"
4. Rhett Miller, "The El"
5. Suzanne Vega, "Stockings"
6. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, "Night and Day"
7. My Morning Jacket, "It Beats 4 U"
8. Arthur Alexander, "Anna (Go to Him)"
9. Elvis Presley, "I Can't Help Falling in Love"
10. Michael Jackson, "She's Out of My Life"

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sex Tape Derby, Round 50

Some things are universal the world over -- like, for instance, Thursday being Sex Tape Derby day.

Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it: Choose which of the following celebs you would rather be forced to watch making sweet, sweet love in a homemade video (read here if you still don't follow). Otherwise, post your selections in the comments section below.

"Law & Order: Criminal Intent's" Annabella Sciorra ...














or "Criminal Intent 's" Kathryn Erbe?














Grown-up kid actor Fred Savage ...











or grown-up kid actor Neil Patrick Harris?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Shut That Kid Up

Once upon a time, I was one of those irascible restaurant patrons who would cringe at the first hint of a crying baby. I was one of those airline passengers who would roll his eyes and gnash his teeth once a baby started to bawl. I was such a distempered ass, in fact, that I was even known to shoot a few glares at the poor, frazzled parent.

Karma, baby. Now I am one of those people being given nasty looks.

Case in point: This past weekend, Mrs. Chase and I were out with the baby (Apple Rosebud McInerney, for those of you joining us for the first time) having lunch with some friends and their young spawn. Despite the place being packed with the Sunday brunch crowd, the occasional yowls from our baby and our friends' toddler were enough to spur scowls from some nearby tables.

The message was clear: We were scum because either A.) We were not successfully silencing our children with duct tape and chloroform, or B.) We had the audacity to take such ill-behaved varmints into a public place.

While I guess I can understand such peevishness from people who have not been parents, it seems unfathomable to me how anyone who has been a parent from begrudging other parents out with their rugrats. How does anyone forget the sheer tension of maneuvering a screaming child through a public place?

OK, just needed to get that off my chest.

Americans: Not Political Zombies After All?

By Cassandra D

After watching our population react to one scandal or threat to our system of government after another with either the blind approval of the brain-washed or the glassy-eyed submission of the hopeless, I find it particularly heartening that Glenn Greenwald's book, How Would a Patriot Act?, is now #1 at Amazon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ditto

By Cassandra D

Much as I hate any semblance of similarity between myself and Rush's Dittoheads, I must give a hearty ditto to Jane at Firedoglake for her post on torture as being the dividing issue between Republicans and Democrats.

"...there is nothing that reveals the utter moral bankruptcy, the complete dehumanizing vacuousness of the right more than when it steps forward to defend torture and those who petulantly assert their right to engage in it as somehow "patriotic," and call for the elimination of all those who oppose it.."

It makes absolutely no sense to me that this should be a left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican issue. To me it is a moral vs. immoral issue, but there you go.

Makes me want to go out and buy about a hundred of these.

"Let My Jello Go!"

Mrs. Chase and I have a good friend who deserves special props for an ongoing tradition that she and a group of her pals began a number of years ago.

OK, quick word association survey: What food immediately comes to mind when you think of Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments? If you said Jello (and, really, how could you not have?), then feast your eyes on the mighty hand of ... Jellovah!













A burning bush that Bill Cosby would find delicious. Surrounding the bush are marshmellow Peeps bearing the image of all the major characters from the movie. The artist tells us that, as the Peeps have hardened over the years, the illustrations have retained their vibrancy.

During the annual televised broadcast of The Ten Commandments, Julianna and company have commemorated the blessed event with Jello sculptures depicting specific scenes or concepts from the movie. Thankfully, Jello does not constitute false idols. Below, for instance, we have a pretty eerie representation of what Yul Brynner would look like if he happened to be a delicious dessert.












Personally, we are a bit disappointed that neither Julianna nor her chums have yet attempted (as far as we know) a lime-flavored golden calf, but there is still time. We suspect the Ten Commandments will be shown many, many more times on TV -- at least until people start taking those commandments to heart and we put God back in the classroom and the world becomes a better place.














Above is the Obelisk of Sethi's Jubilee. Umm... of course, it is.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Part of Our Free Iraq

By Cassandra D

You don't have to tell me. I know I'm the Debbie Downer ("wah-wah...") on this blog, but, even after years of one bad story after another, sometimes the news is so disheartening I have to share my misery. I don't just love the company, I need it. So here goes:

Young orphaned girls are being kidnapped in Iraq and sold as sex slaves, and even if they escape they are tossed in jail. So says Time.

Not only are we not doing anything about this, but we have little moral standing on this issue. Our country has been subcontracting, via Halliburton, to companies that have been using human trafficking to supply workers in Iraq.

Yea! Great! Iraq is free! Woo hoo!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Random 10

What's on your iPod? Oh, and what's in your wallet, while we're on the subject?

1. Me First & the Gimme Gimmies, "Different Drum"
2. Juliana Hatfield, "I See Red"
3. The Stooges, "Search & Destroy"
4. Badly Drawn Boy, "Everybody's Stalking"
5. John Lee Hooker, "Boom Boom"
6. The Mountain Goats, "Cotton"
7. Sly & the Family Stone, "Que, Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"
8. Dean Martin, "Everybody Loves Somebody"
9. blink-182, "All the Small Things"
10. son, ambulance, "Brown Park"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

See Headline Below



Fuck Hu!

Sex Tape Derby, Round 49

By Daniel Gale-Grogen

You have to know how this works by now, right? A shadowy figure places two padded envelopes on your doorstep. You open both envelopes -- because you're stupid and unaware of the dangers of opening strange packages -- and you find that each contains a videotape. The label on each tape says, "So-And-So Blah-Blah Sex Tape: Hot and Saucy!" But your VCR is about to die on you, and you can only play one of the tapes. Which do you choose?

Chloe Sevigny of "Big Love" or...








Ginnifer Goodwin of "Big Love"?

















Hugh Grant of "American Dreamz" or...














Dennis Quaid of "American Dreamz"?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Obscene

By Cassandra D

No, this isn't the kind of obscene post that will get you into trouble at work. It's not pictures of people screwing, but rather another reminder of how most of us "little people" get screwed to keep CEOs rolling in more money than they could possibly use.

$150 million?

I can imagine many things I could do with a boatload of money, but I begin to run out of any but the most silly and ostentatious ideas at about $10 million. [Unless I did a Bill Gates, that is.] Why isn't former Exxon executive Lee Raymond embarrassed about his pay-off? Do you think CEOs today actually believe that they in some way deserve gargantuan paychecks?

With the escalating prices of gas and US government subsidies of oil companies, I find it hard to stomach the Lee Raymonds of the world and the corporate boards who fund them.

Scottie Doesn't Know

Bye-bye, Scotty, we'll miss yah.












Scott McClellan is stepping down after three years as spokesman for the White House, a job roughly equivalent to being Rob Schneider's drama coach.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Goin' South

The movie version of the 1970s' night-time soap opera, "Dallas," is set to star John Travolta as Texas oil mogul J.R. Ewing. Now, for those of us who live in the southern United States (or southwest, if you're talking Oklahoma, a state harboring some longtime identity problems) and saw Travolta's performance as the Bill Clinton stand-in in Primary Colors -- and not to mention Love Song for Bobby Long -- you know what this means:

Another God-awful, unconvincing southern accent.

Which reminds me of some other truly horrible ersatz southern accents from recent cinema. My worst five, in no particular order:

1. Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate
2. John Turturro in The Secret Window
3. Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides
4. Ewan McGregor in Big Fish
5. Michael Caine in Secondhand Lions

Any additions? (For what it's worth, No Rest has its worst 10 here).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

By Surly

So it’s Easter.

Now before you get your Shroud of Turin in a wad, let me state for the record that I’m in no way a theologian, or even a run-of-the-mill “believer.” I grew up in a “non-denominational church” (which I’m pretty sure means “we’re not really sure what we believe, but we don’t want to burn in hell so we’re trying to cover our arses”), but it has probably been 20 years since I’ve been to services. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have no idea what I’m talking about. Please keep that in mind before you send angry letters to the management.

Anyhoo … Easter is the one holiday when I truly consider the possibility of God. Christmas may be a celebration of Christ’s birth, but to me it’s just a scheduled family reunion (and don’t even get me started on Arbor Day). But when push comes to shove, I must admit I truly believe in God, even though logic would say otherwise. Faith – go figure.

And this is where the conflict comes into play – how does one raised in Christianity marry a belief in God with a roll-your-eyes approach to the Bible (particularly the Old Testament)? While I have no trouble believing a chick was responsible for the loss of paradise, it seems absurd to think God just dropped a guy down into a sweet-ass country club. Intelligent Design might be getting a bad rap, but it sure seems to be the best way to accept both God and Darwin.

We could go on and on about the literal accuracy of the Old Testament (are we really supposed to believe Noah rounded up a pair of monkeys from the Amazon? Or penguins?!), but in the spirit of the season, let’s focus on the Resurrection. Back at my cover-your-butt church, I was baptized after “accepting that Jesus Christ died so I might live eternal.” But if God exists, do I really need to believe that Christ is His son? Is it not enough that I agree with the teachings in the Gospels?

In the end, my first instinct is to believe that obeying the Ten Commandments would be enough to get my hand stamped for the Pearly Gates, but a quick personal inventory reveals that I haven’t exactly done a stellar job in that arena. Maybe I’ll just eat a chocolate bunny. Surely He is aware that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so perhaps the sacrifice of consuming a pound of sugary filth will make up for all the adultery.

I can only pray.

Friday Random 10

The ghost of FM radio seems to have hijacked my iPod this morning.

1. Sheryl Crow, "Chances Are"
2. The Dead Milkmen, "Methodist Coloring Book"
3. Stereolab, "La Boob Oscillator"
4. Solomon Burke, "Take Me (Just As I Am)"
5. Van Morrison, "Cypress Avenue"
6. Tom Petty, "Here Comes My Girl"
7. The Kinks, "Victoria"
8. The Toadies, "Goolie Get-Together"
9. S.F. Seals, "S.F. Sorrow (Is Born)"
10. Led Zeppelin, "When the Levee Breaks"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Take Out Some Insurance on Me, Baby

Massachusetts' new health insurance program is certain to be examined closely by other states -- at least that's my ardent hope.

While the landmark healthcare plan is likely to play into Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's expected 2008 presidential bid, the initiative has more important implications for a nation seemingly unable to lift itself from the quagmire of skyrocketing health insurance costs.

The New York Times reports:

"The law is projected to provide coverage for about 515,000 of the state's 550,000 uninsured people and leave less than 1 percent of the population uncovered. It goes further than those of any other state.

"It requires residents to obtain health insurance by July 1, 2007. People who can afford insurance and do not buy it will be penalized on their state income taxes.

"The law takes the $1 billion in the state's free-care pool, which paid for medical care for patients without insurance, and uses it to subsidize insurance for people who cannot afford it. The legislation also makes it possible for more individuals and businesses to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars, saving them money. And it includes a system to encourage insurance companies to provide more affordable plans with fewer benefits or higher deductibles."

One provision we here at CTTC particularly dig is that it penalizes businesses (with more than 11 workers) that can afford to provide health insurance for their employees but fail to do so. Although Romney vetoed the specific section, the Democratic-controlled state legislature has indicated it will soon override the veto. The governor is correct that the penalty -- $295 per employee annually -- is too meager to be much of an incentive for businesses to comply -- but it makes an important statement about the responsibility of employers and would help finance a healthcare law that is certain to get more expensive as time goes on.

Is the plan perfect? Nope. Even proponents of the Massachusetts law fret that adequate funding is only assured for a few years, particularly since no one knows how ever-climbing medical inflation will impact things in the future.

The Boston Globe notes such concerns:

"A legislative staff analysis estimates that the groundbreaking healthcare plan would start losing money in two to three years, which could put pressure on lawmakers to spend more tax money, increase the fee on businesses or scale back the coverage of the sweeping bill. The analysis projects that the plan will be about $160 million short of its estimated cost of $1.56 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2008."

Nevertheless, this ambitious plan should jump-start serious moves by other states to do something, something dramatic and meaningful After all, most states require car insurance if you get behind the steering wheel. Why not health insurance? What is the rationale of forcing those of us who pay our health insurance premiums to shoulder the costs of medical care for those who can afford health insurance but, for whatever reason, don't have it?

Sex Tape Derby, Round 48

Welcome to another edition of Sex Tape Derby, the other white meat. At any rate, here's the quandary: Let's say you must view the sex mischief of a celebrity, and not just some soft-core Skinemax version, either; we mean the whole sweaty enchilada.

That being the case, who would you rather watch? Post your selections in the comments section below. And then knock three times on the ceiling -- just for the hell of it.

For a further explanation, click here if you're just plain dense.

"My Name Is Earl"'s Jamie Pressly or ...














Supermodel Molly Sims?











Swing dat bat: Derek Jeter or ...













Alex Rodriguez?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'm Biting My Tongue

By Cassandra D

I have a couple of friends (seven, to be exact) who honestly thought that GWB was a great president and deserved reelection. I, on the other hand, was one of the few people who actually really liked Kerry, and not just as the lesser of two evils. My Bush-supporting friends and I couldn't talk about the election at all.

Remember how high feelings were running in 2004? There was an intense feeling of urgency on both sides. I had never before volunteered in a political campaign, had never before donated directly to a presidential candidate, and had never before felt that the future of our country so desperately depended on the outcome of an election. When Dumbya (as Chase likes to call him) won I was in despair. His victory prompted my turn to blogging for solace.

Now I just wanna say:

I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!

I haven't and won't, though, because I still value those friendships. And if I were to find out that my friends still think GWB is a great president I would lose so much respect for them that I'm not sure I could trust their judgment on anything. Best to leave it alone.

So I'm biting my tongue.

But I do wonder: How many people out there who voted for Bush would vote for Kerry if they could do it over? Do Bush's abysmal poll numbers mean that Kerry would win in a redo, or do those who are newly aware of GDub's shortcomings still think he's better than Kerry would have been? Do they still believe that the smear campaign against Kerry was based solely on fact, or does the dawning awareness of Dubya's lying and unethical behavior begin to cast doubt on some assertions made during the campaign?

It seems that every day there is a new revelation about the incompetence, zealotry, or criminality of Bush and company. And every day I want to ask: Is this what you people really wanted?

But I'm biting my tongue.

Still,

59 MILLION AMERICANS AND MOST OF THE REST OF THE PLANET TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!

Stupid Girl

Voltaire once opined that the richness and complexities of love warranted a new language that could sufficiently convey love's meaning.

I think the dumbness and sluttiness of Paris Hilton warrants a new language that could sufficiently convey the meaning of dumb rich slut.






As our gal Paris demonstrated again recently, she's no Marilyn Monroe. Hell, she's barely Carmen Electra.

(Hat tip to The Superficial)

What Brings You Here? Take 2

I'm always a bit bemused by the Google searches that bring folks to this here Web site:

"black men who chase blonde women"

"castrate me"

"flaming lips mcveigh bombing"

"lois lane cartoon nude"

"michael fortier booger"

"sexy pitchers"

"exhibitionist masturbation"

"barbara billingsley nude"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Joy of Bob

An idea whose time has finally come: An upcoming video game about the late, great PBS painter, Bob Ross.


MTV.com explains that AGFRAG Entertainment, a videogame development company, is seeking ideas from fans of "The Joy of Painting" star, who died of cancer 11 years ago:

"'I grew up watching Bob Ross on PBS and was always in awe of how quickly and smoothly he made these beautiful paintings, which helped inspire my creativity,' said AGFRAG founder Joseph Hatcher in a statement on the official Bob Ross Web site. 'There are generations that know Bob Ross and his painting techniques, and I want to share his talent with future generations in a new medium.'"

Judas' Extreme Makeover

OK, first let me say right up that I'm no theologian, but I've been more than a little interested in the tempest of reactions to National Geographic's recent publication of the so-called Gospel of Judas. The ancient text, of course, has captured headlines worldwide for its suggestion that Jesus actually asked Judas to betray him, a directive that allegedly pained Judas greatly.













Let me say first that I agree with many of the religious experts who contend this certainly ain't gonna do much to rehabilitate Judas' image. If Marty Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ couldn't make Judas hip by casting the always-cool Harvey Keitel in the role, then -- as Keitel himself might say --Fuhgeddaboutit. Can't be done.

Besides, a bunch of Biblical scholars are dismissing the Judas text as the mischievous work of 2nd or 3rd century Gnostics. Not being an authority on the subject, I will politely abstain from weighing in on the text's ultimate historical importance.

What I can comment on, however, is the teeth-gnashing, kneejerk conspiracy mongering of some Christian leaders who see the suggestion of a new perspective as part of a full-frontal attack on Christianity. The Oklahoman's Carla Hinton spoke with several Oklahoma City metro ministers whose opinions on the subject were a bit heated:

"The Rev. George Miley, rector at the Anglican Church of the Holy Cross ... questioned the timing of the text's unveiling.

"'Why is it coming to a head now? Because it's time for Easter and they can get some press. It was designed to damage Christianity,' Miley said.

"'It's a means to an end. Look for the book or the speaking tour.'

"Mark Henderson, senior minister of Quail Springs Church of Christ, said he is not surprised that yet another such document surfaced. He said he is shocked to see how much credibility it has received in the media.

"'It's kind of interesting that any document that would tend to cast doubt on the origins of Christianity or cast doubt on Jesus as He's presented in the canonical Gospels is given credence,' Henderson said.

"'The canonical Gospels are treated as fiction, and this new source that takes another view is treated as authentic. Somebody who's looking for a reason not to believe will latch onto this.'

[...]

"'There have been plenty of challenges of Christianity from the first century on. Christians, even today, have been persecuted for their faith and what they believe in. I doubt very seriously that they're going to be thrown off stride by this.'"


OK, just to play devil's advocate for a minute (perhaps not the smartest phrase, considering the topic, but what the heck), why would this alternate view, if it were true, necessarily challenge the basic tenets of Christian faith? How would the teachings of Jesus be any less meaningful? Is the crucifixion reduced to rainbows and unicorns if the betrayal had been orchestrated?

Oh, yeah, I remember now: The Bible is literal. Every word of it.

Anyway, as David Gibson writes in The New York Times, Jew-haters need not fret too much. Even though anti-Semitism was undoubtedly fueled by history's caricature of Judas as a beak-nosed malcontent who would do anything for money, the Christian Bible still has plenty to fan the flames of anti-Semitism.

Gibson writes:

" ... Scholars say it can be dangerous to overplay the role of Judas in the history of anti-Semitism because it might obscure the underlying causes of tensions between Christians and Jews. Even if Judas is erased from the Passion narratives, there are many more passages in the New Testament that foes of Judaism can seize on.

"Erasing Judas 'would change the iconography but it would not change the problem of anti-Judaism in a general sense,' said Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and an adviser to National Geographic for its television account of the research it sponsored on the Judas papyrus. 'Even if you turn Judas into a hero he is still just one character,' Ms. Levine said. 'The Passion narratives are much more complex.'

"Levine and others say that gospel passages like the famous 'blood cry' of Matthew 27:25 were initially far more responsible for Christian animus against Jews than was the figure of Judas.


[...]

"In the end, whoever wound up shouldering the role of the Passion's villain, experts say that it would have had little effect on the course of history between these sibling religions (Christianity and Judaism). But those same experts also believe that the current debates provoked by the Judas gospel, while not undoing a painful history, could help Christian-Jewish relations now and in the future."

That's providing there actually is current debate. Judging by the suspicious reaction of at least some Christian leaders, I'm not betting on it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigration: Having It Both Ways

By Cassandra D

What to do about the 11 million illegal aliens already in the US? That is the question that is dividing Congress, and our country, these days.

Some argue that granting amnesty and citizenship to illegal immigrants will just increase the flow of people across our borders, and they argue that we must crack down to stem that tide.

Here's a proposal: Why not grant amnesty, protection, and a path towards US citizenship to any illegal immigrant who supplies the government with information leading to the arrest of border smugglers -- of people, of drugs, whatever -- or to the arrest of anyone in the US who uses sweatshop/slave labor?

Only a small portion of the immigration issue would be addressed by such a policy, but it would give the exploited a voice and would help nab some really evil people out there.

Naughty and Nice

Be still, my grease-smeared heart -- and all other unruly appendages.

The Bettie Page flick is nearly upon us. Amid Hollywood's rash of overhyped biopics of the past few years, I find it particularly gratifying that moviedom finally got around to The Notorious Bettie Page, which is slated for a theatrical release this week before moving on to HBO. (Flesh Gordon has a sneak peek over at Ain't It Cool News).












The lovely Gretchen Mol (above) will play the Banged One. Equally promising is its director, Mary Harron, who brought us American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol. Check out the trailer for the Bettie Page movie here.

Some 50 years after her heyday as a pin-up queen, Bettie Page -- now 82 years old and living in seclusion -- finds herself more popular than ever. And that's saying a lot, considering how her image has graced everything from posters to photo books to movies to comics. She is a bona fide phenomenon.

As a devotee of Bettie, I am at a loss to really get a handle on her enduring appeal. What is it? Her bright, expansive smile? Her bewitching eyes? Her black bangs? Legs from here to eternity? Nah. Truth be told, there are sexier retro icons, but none that have such seemingly immortal allure.

In an excellent piece for The Los Angeles Times, reporter Louis Sahagun reviewed what might account for Bettie's enduring popularity:

"During her brief career, she became the obsession of thousands of men -- a fact that mystifies her to this day: 'I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work.'

"Writer Harlan Ellison suggested an answer: 'There are certain women, even certain men, in whose look there is a certain aesthetic that hits a golden mean. Bettie is that. Marilyn is that.' Richard Foster, one of her two biographers, called her 'the trendsetter in American sexuality.' Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner put it another way.'Exactly what captures the imagination of people in terms of pop culture is something hard to define,' Hefner said. 'But in Bettie's case, I'd say it's a combination of wholesome innocence and fetish-oriented poses that is at once retro and very modern.'"





















As for me, I'm inclined to ascribe much of Bettie's appeal to the duality (how's that for highfalutin?) of her persona. She excelled equally in Eisenhower-era cheesecake (leopard-skin outfits, skimpy bikinis) and the darker recesses of sexuality (her bondage pictures for porn king Irving Klaw). Indeed, her personal life mirrored such extremes. Molested by her father, Bettie knocked around in loveless marriages and dead-end jobs before hooking up with amateur New York shutterbugs who responded to her sunny good looks. After her career fizzled -- the result of a sanctimonious U.S. senator from Tennessee, Estes Kefauver -- Bettie became a born-again Christian, albeit one who also suffered occasionally violent spells, one of which led to her commitment to a mental hospital.

If the Madonna/Whore dichotomy hadn't existed before the advent of Bettie Page, it would have been invented to explain her (a fascinating, if sensationalistic, telling of her life story is covered in Richard Foster's book, The Real Bettie Page.

In the L.A. Times story, Bettie herself reflects on her role in pop culture:

"In the autumn of her life, Page is learning to accept what her modeling meant for her and for American popular culture. 'Young women say I helped them come out of their shells,' she said. 'And 13 rock groups have written songs about me. One song has these lyrics all the way through, "I love Bettie Page. I love Bettie Page. I love Bettie Page."'

"'I want to be remembered,' she said, 'as I was when I was young and in my golden times…. I want to be remembered as a woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form.'"


We'll just remember her for all she did in the cause of being naughty. As well as in the cause of being nice. Bettie was both, simultaneously. And the world is a better place because of it.

Anyway, I can't wait to see that movie ...

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Used Maverick

By Larry Mondello

Call it his deal with the devil up for payment, James Garner has hit the skids.


A respected actor with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, Garner is now appearing in a local car commercial in Oklahoma.

Granted, the dealer group he’s working with is from his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, and it’s probably a favor for a friend, but there is something sad about seeing him hawk cars on local TV.

The least he could do is have Mariette Hartley on with him. Get Jim Rockford on the case!

Friday Random 10

With Chase allegedly going retro Amish on us, he asked me to do the "what's on my iPod shuffle" thing this week:

1. Allan Sherman, "A Waste of Money"
2. James Taylor, "Up on the Roof"
3. Bob Dylan "Sally Gal (Outtake 1)"
4. Ray Charles, "What Would I Do Without You?"
5. Dave Weckl Band, "Vuelo"
6. Mike Doughty, "Skittish"
7. Louis Prima, "Banana Split for My Baby"
8. Raul Midon, "Everybody"
9. Cross Canadian Ragweed, "After All"
10.Stevie Wonder, "Saturn"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Do As I Say, Not ...

I know I'm not supposed to be posting this week, but there's no way I can't weigh in on the revelation from Scooter Libby that Dumbya authorized leaking classified intelligence on Iraq.

"If someone leaked classified information, the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates, that's not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business."
-- Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan, Oct. 7, 2003















"That paper was classified?!?"

Selling Polident with a Smile


By Daniel Gale-Grogen

It became official yesterday morning: Katie Couric, the longest-running co-host of NBC's "Today," would be moving to CBS to whip into shape the network's somewhat-beleaguered "The CBS Evening News with the Gasbag from Face the Nation." The news was surprising to five people living in separate fallout shelters, lean-tos, World War II foxholes, white separatist compounds and the White House.

On "Today," Couric discussed the internal organ-directed decision process while co-host Matt Lauer looked on -- calm on the outside, throwing a huge drunken party on the inside:

"After listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I have decided I'll be leaving 'Today' at the end of May. I can't tell you how grateful I am for all the support you all have given me. I could not have asked for a more talented partner or a better friend ... I think I'm going to miss him most of all. Sometimes I think change is good thing. Although it can be terrifying to get out of your comfort zone, it's also very exciting to start a new chapter in your life."

So, it's goodbye to the annual televised colonoscopies, the uncomfortable flirting with rising Hollywood stars, the carping about excessive sex in pop culture and that strange anti-chemistry between Couric and Lauer, who sometimes act as though they would like to set the other on fire. Now, the armchair quarterbacking begins.

It seems as though it is in the can for Meredith Viera, the former "60 Minutes" anchor and current henhouse referee on "The View." Personally, I thought Viera was dunzo -- after leaving the stopwatch crew to do the family thing, she would never again manage to climb the ladder. Something must have worked, and it was probably a superhuman desire to get as far away from Star Jones as possible.

How must it feel to be an also-ran? Ann Curry never seemed like she was being tracked to the co-anchor desk, and besides, she is one of the most annoying interviewers on the show -- she never lets anyone talk, and she tends to be so shrill when the clock is ticking on a time-compressed segment, most of her subjects look a little cowed and ready to bolt.

Campbell Brown and Natalie Morales were names that came up, but Brown is the host of "Weekend Today," and as Soledad O'Brien found out before jumping to CNN, that is not a fast-track to weekdays, either. Morales, while photogenic beyond reason, simply doesn't have the personality to make it in the co-chair.

As Ken Tucker noted on EW.com, millions of people still watch the evening news on the networks, even if it is millions less than did 20 years ago. Granted, they tend to need a lot of maintenance pharmaceuticals and don't drink a lot of Red Bull, but they are dependable viewers with mortared-in habits. They'll love that young whippersnapper Katie -- "She just seems like such a nice girl!"

As for the rest of us, particularly those of us who do not watch a single show on the Tiffany Network, it will be as if Katie Couric had spun off the globe and taken up residence on Alpha Centauri.

Sex Tape Derby, Round 47

By Daniel Gale-Grogen

So, you know the drill, right? Heh-heh, drill. But seriously, you just got back from Blockbuster Video, and instead of VHS copies of Getting Even with Dad and Bio Dome, you've found that there are clearly marked sex tapes in your rental boxes. Whee! The problem is, you can only watch one before your old-ass VCR finally gives up the ghost and starts emitting blue smoke and that bad electrical-fire smell. Which will it be?

Katies-in-waiting:

Campbell Brown ...













or Natalie Morales?
















Premium cable drama patriarchs:

Bill Paxton of Big Love ...














...or Hank Azaria of Huff?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Perception Is Reality (and Vice Versa)

By Conrad Spencer

The myth of the liberal bias in mainstream media (that's "MSM", to those who rail against it) has always troubled me greatly. How, if the media is so liberally biased, does Dubya slide from 9/11 to Katrina with an ease that makes Slick Willy seem chafed by comparison?

The media is biased, but rather than a conservative or liberal political bias, the bias is to profitability. Slate's Jack Shafer highlights a new study by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro, both of the University of Chicago, that moves a step beyond that kernel of common sense to explore how the profit bias influences the reporting of the news.

Rather than walking the line between the conservative and the liberal, news organizations must present accurate coverage without upsetting audience expectations too much. That the news should be accurate seems simple enough, but what this study seems to indicate is that the perception of accuracy trumps the real thing. Up-end consumer's schema of the world and you're seen as unreliable. Get contradicted by a different news source and the same fate awaits.

As millions of dittoheads have known for years, it feels good to have your views endorsed and reinforced in print and over the airwaves. Add that maxim to the truth that violence, mayhem, and death are pretty cool to watch from the comfort of your sofa, and you have a recipe for profitable journalism.

For the Fourth Estate to really fulfill its role in our democracy, it should be shaking people loose from their preconceptions, not parroting them back. When the news seeks to bolster our perceptions of the world, and we in turn base our perceptions on what we see in the news, we can quickly find ourselves in a hall of mirrors in which our "reality" bears only the slightest resemblance to our neighbor's. Not only does this destroy "community" in any meaningful sense, it makes political discourse nearly impossible.

This Joke is Getting Old

By Cassandra D

"You've got to be kidding me!"

I don't know about you, but I've just about worn that line out when it comes to the current political and social climate in our country, thanks in large part to President George "Compassionate Conservative" Bush.

Here's another doozey, brought to us by The New Yorker, in Michael Specter's March 13th article (sorry; no link to be had):

"Religious conservatives are unapologetic; not only do they believe that mass use of an HPV vaccine [to prevent cervical cancer] or the availability of emergency contraception will encourage adolescents to engage in unacceptable sexual behavior; some have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine, if one became available. 'We would have to look at that closely,' Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and a former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. 'With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition'--a medical term for the absence of fear-- 'would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care.'

And now for the punchline:

"Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations."

Of course he does.

The next time I will ask if I'm being taken for a ride, it'll be when someone tells me that Bush has appointed someone who is both sane and qualified to do a job.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Give Us Your Prosperous and Pale

By Conrad Spencer

Overheated rhetoric has come to dominate the immigration debate, and that's a shame because if ever there were an issue deserving of thorough research and deliberate thought, this is it.

Americans' own poll responses are a testament to the complexity of the issue. We don't like those who break the law, but as proprietors of the Land of Opportunity many of us like the idea of people empowered to improve their lives.

It's good that we're having the current debate, but it worries me to see some pull immigration into the culture wars by peddling a paranoid xenophobia. It's hard sometimes to recognize this as the country that beckoned for the world's poor and tired.

Valid arguments can be made about the economic effects of illegal aliens, but to say that illegal immigrants threaten the values and culture of America would be silly were the sentiments not so ugly. One glance at today's headlines show that American culture is already diverse and our values vary considerably from person to person. You can even argue that immigration (legal and otherwise) is central to American culture. This same crowd wishes for a fence along our southern border to turn America into the world's largest gated community.

Fear is bolstered by the myth that immigrants are streaming illegally into the country to take advantage of generous social services, when in actuality illegal aliens are not eligible for most services, such as food stamps or other welfare benefits, and few would risk discovery and deportation to fraudulently apply. Their kids can go to school and illegal immigrants can receive emergency medical care, but illegals are hardly draining the treasury. In fact, the opposite may be happening, as they contribute as much as $7 billion to Social Security, a benefit to which they are not entitled.

There is debate to be had, but it needs to be free of fear or misinformation. When someone must break a law to carve out a better life, that law needs to be changed. We need to find a way to offer America's opportunities without depressing wages, help immigrants find work without fostering exploitation, and learn to celebrate, rather than fear, our country's changing complexion.

Monday, April 03, 2006

This is Only a Test

By Larry Mondello

Time to see if Chase is really incommunicado...

Elvis Costello is a no talent, Brit wanker with bad teeth.

Comments?

‘Cause I’m a 21st Century Digital Boy

Editor’s note: Chase McInerney has opted to take a weeklong sabbatical from the ‘Net. During his absence, the staff writers will be playing Rivers to Chase’s Carson. While the quality of entertainment may wane, please stay tuned – George Segal will be here to annoy us with his banjo, and Joan Embry has promised to bring an adorable yet feisty lemur.

By Surly

Two weeks ago, Chase told me of his plan for self-imposed exile at Walden Pond, and I scoffed at what I assumed was a pointless exercise for Lent. Precisely one week later, my hard drive crashed. Stupid irony.

So while we all have a love/hate relationship with the Digital Age, I’m currently skewing towards hate. Still, there are a variety of recent advances that simply must be appreciated, even while conceding that not every change is an improvement. With that in mind, here’s an anything but comprehensive catalog* of the good/bad of modern day life:

*The following excludes anything like stem cell research that will -- hopefully, I pray -- eventually provide me with fresh lungs and a mint-condition liver. This is strictly limited to everyday items that impact me, Al Franken.


DVR. You have to go back to microwaves to find another technology that prompts such a “Holy shit, how did I ever live without this” reaction. About the only things I still watch live are sporting events, with the exception of MNF, which doesn’t start here in Mayberry until around 3 a.m. Now I can zip through the 2nd half while eating my Tuesday morning Frankenberries. Speaking of football …

Cable. Nothing epitomizes the love/hate relationship better than the current state of cable TV. On the plus side, ESPN’s Gameday and the FOX Sports packages have allowed me to see every OU Sooner game in the past three years (it doesn’t hurt that Bob Stoops has provided a product worth televising). On the negative side, screw you, NFL, for restricting the Sunday Ticket to DirectTV subscribers. And, oh, by the way, I can’t get the NFL Network, so your new Thursday schedule doesn’t mean squat to me. Bastards.

Online Banking. What’s that, U.S. Postal Service, you’re raising the price of stamps again? Knock yerselves, suckers.

File sharing/iPod/CD-R. The control we now have over what/when/how/where we listen to music is nothing short of revolutionary. Even if you’re staunchly anti-piracy, you must admit that without the Napsters of the world, we wouldn’t have iTunes. Yet.

And whoever came up with that technology that allows me to recharge my iPod by plugging it into my computer should be knighted. Go to hell, Duracell.

IM. Holy crap, how I hate instant messaging (this excludes the goofy text messaging that all the kids do, where “O7rg8Jv” means “Amber and Brady are going to the mall after soccer practice and Brady told Amber what you said to Jeremy about Raven and Amber said that if you come to the mall then Raven will go too ‘cuz she like likes you and we can hang out but I have to be home by 8 because I’m still grounded and did you finish your history homework because Jason says we’re having a pop quiz tomorrow.”). Of course, my hatred for IM can be directly attributed to my crappy little job that requires the use of IM. All IM has done for my career is ensure that I’ll never be able to concentrate on anything for more than three minutes at a time.

So Chase, I can understand your desire to unplug for a while. Just don’t stay away too long … remember, there’s a vast world of girl-on-girl video just begging to be downloaded.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tiffany Twisted

By Larry Mondello

Some indications this weekend that Katie Couric is jumping to CBS for a zillion dollars and the 6:30p (ET) slot.

The old me would have pulled out the "Murrow spinning in his grave" cliche. But I have decided that I don't care what Rather or Rooney or Wallace or even Cronkite think. At some point, grandpa dies and you have to move on.

The network evening newscast is a whole new animal. With cable news and the Internet, there are very few surprises that can wait until 6:30 (5:30 Central).

I see nothing wrong with CBS trying something new. Personally, I would have gone the Jon Stewart route, but that's OK.

I am not a Couric fan. I probably won't watch more than the first night, out of curiosity. Face it, Scott Pelley or John Roberts just weren't the guys to do the job. Let Katie have a try.

I mean, good God; if George Bush can be president (TWICE!), we can at least put up with Katie Couric in the anchor chair.