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Showing posts from 2009

2009: A Bad Year to be a Celebrity, Closing the Door on an Ugly Decade in American History

Is it just me or was 2009 a particularly bad year to be a celebrity?

It seems like more than a few of them met an untimely end. Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, Natasha Richardson, Steve McNair, Billy Mays, and now Brittany Murphy. Were any of them over the age of 60? And that's not to mention the ones who, let's face it, were getting on a bit in years: John Updike, Bea Arthur, Ted Kennedy, Ed McMahon, Dom DeLuise, Jack Kemp. I know I've left somebody out.

Then of course you got your Bombshell Sex Scandals, like what Tiger Woods and Dave Letterman found themselves involved in this year. I don't even OWN A T.V. and still these things popped up on my radar screen.

I'm sure a lot of people are going to be glad to see 2009 go. The financial crisis didn't improve so much as it just failed to get worse after a certain point. You or at least someone you know lost a job this year. Obama seemed to have stemmed the blood flow early on with the stimulus, but …

Balloon Boy

Anyone else out there not give a crap about this whole "Balloon Boy" saga? This is yet another example of the Mass Media trying to shove something down my throat.

I do not give a rat's ass about this kid or his parents anymore. The MOMENT they said was not found on the balloon, but was in fact hiding in the garage, I, and probably the rest of the nation, lost all interest.

And yet...and yet...because I am forced to look at these news stories every time I open my E-mail, I cannot completely force this issue out of my head. This is brainwashing. And I don't like it.

Colonel Qaddafi is coming!!!

Colonel Qaddafi is coming to the U.S.!!! Run for your lives!

When I was a kid in the 80s, Qaddafi was the boogie man! He was like the bin-Laden or the Saddam Hussien of my early childhood. I've got his name and his leering face so indelibly stamped in my mind as an omnipresent threat to my life, that I simply cannot wrap my mind around the fact we're accepting him into this country.

I mean, when I was a kid I prayed to got at night to keep me safe from the Libyans. I dreamed up ways that we could send Rambo and Arnold Schwartzenegger (circa Commando) over there to destroy the whole country and assasinate Qaddafi. I drew comic strips of a Qaddafi vs. Reagan steel cage match! When we played "guns" outside in the yard, we fought against Qaddafi and the Libyans! For god's sake, I'm not the only one...it was in Back to the Future!

It's as if they dug this guy up from some 80s Bad Guy Time Capsule. I mean, what's next? Bi-Lateral talks with Skeletor at Castl…

Why I Hate Our Media-Saturated Culture

You want to know why I hate Modern Mass-Media and our generally Media Saturated Culture? Because it coerces you, forces you, to care about totally meaningless things through sheer Volume and Persistence.

For example: take the woman in the picture. Some of you might know her as Kate Gosselin of "Jon and Kate Plus Eight," a T.V. show about a couple who is raising octuplets.


Until today, I had no idea who this person was, and I was perfectly happy not knowing, either. But finally, the constant, inescapable pressure of the Mass Media forced me find out who she was. And though I still don't care, I feel defeated. I've caved in.


For month upon month I've seen her face on magazines at the check-out line in the grocery store. The magazines were at eye-level, and since she's a fairly attractive woman, I usually glanced at the magazine covers with a bengign sort of curiousity. "Who is she?" "Have I heard of her?" "Should I have heard of her?"…

Movie Review: Public Enemies

In Brief:

This movie is worth the trip; great action scenes, very realisticly shot and acted, and at times will have you gripping your arm-rests in suspense. Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard turn in great performances without hamming it up one bit. This film has all the elements of a great action movie: the Villian-Hero, the Pursuer, the Love-Interest, the Bad Guys Cronies Who Die-Off One-by-One. Plus, some of the shoot-em-scenes are so will shot you will be ducking from the machine gun fire...okay that's hyperbole. But if you like action movies, this one is worth it.

But take note, this is not a Biopic. You won't get much background or historical information about Dillinger or any of the characters. In fact, the only one that you get any information about is Dillinger. In a way, that's part of this movie's charm, however, I was expecting at least some clues to this man's past and/or his motivation for starting a life of crime. I was expecting to be educated to at le…

Indianapolis...Where you can actually get a seat in a Starbucks

I've made it out here to Indianapolis, a city that---until 36 hours ago---I knew next to nothing about. Well, I still know next to nothing about it, except whatever my keen reporter's instincts have helped me to glean from a few locals and a brief drive downtown.

The nice thing about living in a midwestern city is having SPACE. I cut my teeth in New York City. Other than brief stints in Montreal and Buenos Aires, NYC is the only major city I've lived in. So I'm used to living in a chicken coop, riding to work in a moving metal chicken coop, and working in a chicken coop hundreds of feet above the ground. I'm used to moving fast, knocking people around, getting knocked around, always running behind the clock...that's what city life means for me.

Not any more. This is a city (granted it's 1/10 the size of NYC) and you can still keep your personal space. What's more you can actually get a seat...a whole TABLE...in Starbucks!! I lived in NYC for five years an…

Goodbye, dearest Jacko....we lost you too soon!

A legend has passed, and that deserves some acknowledgement and respect from this humble and infrequent blog.

Whether or not you considered yourself a big Michael Jackson fan (and I didn't necessarily) his music was so influential that it simply could not be ignored. He was a force, a brand-name unto himself, and he was our generation's Elvis Presley.
Like a lot of people, some of my earliest memories (I'm turning 30 this Fall) deal with M.J. I used to watch him on MTV with my big sister, and I remember when she bought an outrageous red leather jacket a la "Bad" with tassles all over it. I literally thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I remember watching adults try to do the Moonwalk, and laughing hysterically. I remember Ronald Reagan giving a speech with a white rhinestone glove on...or maybe I've just seen it so many times that I think I remember. M.J. was not merely a star, he was not a merely a phenomenon. If you lived or grew up during the 80…

Preakness Stakes: Rachel Alexandra Proves Her Machismo, But the Real Story is Mine That Bird

It has been suggested in some quarters (by Luke) that I've been remiss in my blogging duty by not covering the Kentucky Derby, which I attended this year. So as a long-time horse racing fan, I figured I should get on the horse and share some of my opinions on the Preakness, which was run yesterday.

Just in case you didn't see it, or hear about it, the lead-up to the race carried some interesting plotlines. You had the Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, being ridden by a different jockey, because that jockey, Calvin Borel, decided to ride the filly Rachel Alexandra. The Preakness would be RA's first run against male horses -- something which does or does not really matter, depending on who you ask. With wins in seven of her past nine races (the other two were 2nd place finishes) RA was undoubtedly the horse to beat in this race. In fact, the attention had shifted almost completely away from MTB onto RA.

Well, as you know, RA won the race. Breaking from the 13th post posi…

A Sign of the Times...

You know things are bad when headlines such as "U.S. Companies Reduce Payrolls by 491,000 in April" are considered positive. A few weeks ago, the news that "Ford Lost $1.4 billion in the First Quarter" was met with applause.

In both cases the numbers were considered good because they were "lower" than expected. So now, we're actually at the point where we're excited because companies are hemmoraging jobs and capital at slower rates than at the very worst point of this downturn -- assuming we've even actually hit that point.

Naturally, after months of bleakness, it makes sense to start looking for brightsides amidst all the negative news. Newscasters can't just say NOTHING, can they? And frankly, I don't know, we could be at the bottom of this mess and climbing our way out.

But, I think it's very telling about the state of the economy when the above headlines are considered positive news.

Twitter: The Latest Gimmick For a Culture of Attention Junkies...or What Are You Doing RIGHT NOW???

Twitter. I just heard about it. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm behind the times. Save it. As with everything, once you become aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. Now, I've noticed newscasters on MSNBC signing off with, "I'll be Twittering about this during the break..."

Pretty soon, I will be forced to try this. If for no other reason than I'm just fed-up of hearing about it and need to investigate for myself. Then, I'll probably become addicted to it for a few months, and then drop it altogether and claim that I always thought it was stupid. But, before all that, I'd just like to register my contempt for what I think is just anyother ridiculous indulgence of our media-crazed, attention-addicted culture.

For those who don't know, apparently its some kind of internet service whereby you can write instant-messages and send them out to a bunch of people all at once. Kind of like mass-emails but a lot quicker. I guess that's how it works. Twitter c…

Bobby Jindal? Is this a joke?

Anybody who stuck around last night after President Obama's address to Congress got a real surprise...a somewhat unpleasant surprise.

I was sitting in my living room reading the newspaper and I had the T.V. on. I heard the newscasters on MSNBC say, "And now for the GOP response to Obama's speech, we turn to Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana..."
The next thing I was a gaunt figure walking out of a shadowy foyer, and approaching the microphone as if he were accepting an award. This, apparently, was Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, about whom I've heard almost nothing up until this point. Before Jindal was even finished with his first sentence, my stomach was queasy.
My first thought was that someone was playing a collosal joke on the network, and had switched the videotapes, or hijacked the live-feed. I expected someone to yell "Cut to commercial!!!" any second, and pull the plug on the eerily comical figure speaking into the camera. But, no one did. …

Pipe Smoking Making a Comeback???

..................................Actually, this IS a pipe...

As a pipe smoker, I feel I should point out to all two of you who still read this august blog that the Wall Street Journal today ran a story about pipe smoking. The story says, basically, that pipe smoking, once the province of old men, is now catching-on amongst people in their 20s. It said that the downturn in the economy may have something to do with it, because pipe smoking is a cheaper than cigarette smoking.

I don't believe people are making a conscious choice to switch to the pipe because cigarettes are more expensive. No one thinks to themselves, "Gee, cigarettes went up 50 cents. Time to buy a corncob pipe and a sack of 'baccy!" For one thing, the sensations aren't equivalent. Pipe smoking is much less immediate, much less jolting, packing nowhere near the "fix" you get from cigarettes. Still, some people try to wean themselves off cancer sticks by smoking a pipe, which does sometimes …

Investment Bankers Get Public Flogging...the Death of Investment Banking as we Know It???

Yesterday the CEOs of a bunch of investment banks (you can look up the specifics on your own) lined up in front of a special session of Congress to discuss what they had done with the Federal Bailout money their banks were given late last year. Well, at least that was the ostensible purpose of the gathering. The real reason the bankers were called before Congress was for a good, old-fashioned public flogging.

If this were the Middle Ages, or Revolutionary France, they may have been hung or guillotined. As it is, they were basically paraded in front of Congress like a bunch of misbehaving schoolboys and questioned, upbraided, even sort of taunted, by various members of Congress including Mike Capuano (D-Mass) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif).

I must confess, the whole thing was kind of fun to watch: these one-time Masters of the Universe squirming before the irate questions of grandstanding Congressmen. It was funny to hear the Congressmen apply normal, real-world reasoning as they questioned…

Phrase of the Day: "Bully Pulpit"

From the Hackneyed Phrase Dept.

The hackneyed phrase of the day is "Bully Pulpit." It was coined by Theodore Roosevelt and means, roughly, a political office or other position that is high enough to be used as a platform to push an agenda. The Presidency, for example, is the epitome of such an office.

The term has been tossed around by political talk show hosts and reporters over the past few days to describe President Obama's position and how he's using it to advocate the Stimulus Bill. Only they're kind of criticizing him for not using the Bully Pulpit enough in the early going.

"When you've got the Bully Pulpit, you might as well use it," said one MSNBC reporter.

I'm not particularly fond of the phrase, myself. Just doesn't feel right coming off the tongue. It just sounds too antiquated, and too evocative of a long, long-gone era when life and politics were a bit rougher around the edges. I imagine a union boss with his shirt sleeves rolled u…

Senate Debate Rages...and Boxer Hits Hard

In case you missed it -- and you probably did, because you probably have a life -- there was a great debate today on the Senate floor about the latest iteration of the stimulus bill. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) were among the speakers from the Democratic Party.

They both made excellent points, but I think Boxer made the most effective speech. I've heard of her off and on throughout the years, but after today I'm going to pay closer attention. Something about her comments just grabbed me.

She said, basically, that for the past eight years the Republicans have been willing to approve trillions of dollars in spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, but now they are balking at spending $800 or so odd billion to help stimulate the economy. Now that it's time to spend money domestically, they are preaching fiscal responsibility.

It's a great point, perhaps the best point I've heard anyone make regarding this bill. Still, it doesn't change anything i…

Get the Stimulus Bill Done Right, Not Just Done Fast...

I admire President Obama for stepping up into the fray to defend and even beat the drum for the Economic Stimulus Bill. But maybe just ramming the Bill through Congress isn't the right way to go at this point... Isn't it more important to get the Bill done right?

Just some things to consider...

1.) The first part of the last stimulus package, some $250-$300 billion dollars, seems to have gone directly to banks, and also seems to have disappeared. It did not free-up bank lending, it did not staunch the blood-letting in the stock market, it did not have much of an effect on the market at all. This is not good.

If I were the Obama administration, I'd be willing to take a bit more time, maybe even just another week, to make sure this Bill has some things in it that will uplift the market and the economy IMMEDIATELY. What's another week? We're already at the point where we expect to hear about layoffs every day, and we expect the stock market to either stay flat or drop, e…

Obama is a Steelers Fan??

Okay, so I heard on the news President Obama is rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow in the Super Bowl. As a Steelers fan, I think that's just great. Whoopee. But frankly I don't think the President should be taking sides in something like the Super Bowl unless a.) one of the teams is from his hometown, or b.) one of the teams is the Washington Redskins. That's the only excuse for a President to show any kind of partisanship toward a sports team in something as big as the Super Bowl.

It sounds to me like he's just trying to keep his bread buttered in Pennsylvania, where he won a somewhat unlikely victory in the election a few months ago. Add to that the fact that he did not manage to carry the state of Arizona, and probably will not ever carry it, and you see why he might have an interest in rooting for Steel City.

BUT...most of the PA counties the Obama won were in the Eastern part of the state, and therefore more likely to be Philadelphia Eagles fans. The Weste…

I'm Back...Again...With More Rotten Tomatos to Throw at Modern Culture...

Here's something that was said today by my personal favorite Money Honey, Erin Burnett (sorry Maria, I'm over you...):
[paraphrased]"The government was going to subsidize the production of alternative fuel vehicles, but now we'll have to see...people have short memories, and gas prices are down now..."
Ack...yes. People do have short memories. Very short. This has been proven by the markets over and over again, especially as we walked from one bubble into the next one in less than 10 years. Now, people's memories are so short that they can't remember how much they bitched and moaned when gas was creeping over $4.00 per barrell six months ago?
"Gee, gas is expensive, we should build alternative fuel cars... Oh wait, it's not expensive any more, forget about the alternative fuel cars...." Because of course there's no chance, whatsoever, that the price of gas will EVER go up again.
What are we? Just a bunch of monkeys in some sick expiriment?…