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Louisiana Lockdown – What is Angola Prison doing on Animal Planet TV?

Good ol' boys probably think it's mighty funny parading Angola's black prisoners across the teevee, at the whim of an all-white Reality TV corrections officer caste. Inmates are portrayed like the channel's animal kingdom predators, dangerous and unpredictable, but what misconduct is feared, the program doesn't dare tell. For being menacing recidivists, Angola's felons lead the life of choirboys apparently, no mention of the sexual slavery reported in a notorious memoir. What's the HIV transmission rate in Angola? No one's talking about racism. Was "Angola" named for its African population? We've already learned "The Farm" is an immense rural labor camp with a famous gladiatorial rodeo. Hopefully "Louisiana Lockdown" will disclose the reality side of its genre. Until then, the watchdog group most familiar with the mistreatment of Angola's inmates is the humane society.

Local TV station KOAA lies for Lamborn fakes support rally for Tar-Baby slur

Too harsh? OK, "Lies" suited an alliteration. "Fabrication" better describes the photo used by KOAA for their Aug 12 story Supporters of Lamborn rally at local office even though timestamp was hours before scheduled event. Lest KOAA decide it needs to doctor the aftermath as well, we've secured a screenshot of their original story. When activists organize a protest rally, they send out press releases in hope the local media will cover the event. When an officeholder schedules an event, the media announce it beforehand, which of course helps attendance become self-fulfilling, then the story can air live, and then after the fact. An initial headline using the present-progressive tense instead of the future tense also leaves viewers to infer what will or did or was intended to happen, even if it doesn't. Fair enough, at least that's as fair as it gets for citizens fighting against entrenched corporate interests which own the news outlets. But that's insufficient advantage apparently for the home team. Colorado Springs local TV station KOAA figured it needed to conjugate the present-progressive tense with a visual. The purported rally in support of Congressman Doug Lamborn --facing criticism for having called President Obama a "Tar-Baby"-- was announced by local and national news outlets beforehand. No less than the AP and Fox News declared nationally that Colorado locals were rallying to their representative's side. In advance. The media had only Lamborn's word on it. KOAA opted to extend the present-progressive conjugation to its visuals, using a blurry image of a gathering. One can't even read the placards to know if they are Lamborn supporters or critics. Though the image was posted at 11AM, the text declares the Lamborn supporters "are rallying outside of his office this afternoon." To judge by the shadows this photograph was taken in the morning. To my mind, using an image as a placeholder might be alright if you place a note underneath identifying it as such. Without a followup, in effect you've pretended that the event occurred as depicted, even if it didn't. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that makes how many lies?

Oslo bomber was less Christian Jihadist than Dexter, Arrested Development

Another excerpt from Breivik's dairy, covering the preliminary phases, backdated to 2002: Personal reflections and experiences during several preparation phases April/May 2002 I am the Norwegian delegate to the founding meeting in London, England and ordinated as the 8th Justiciar Knight for the PCCTS, Knights Templar Europe. I joined the session after visiting one of the initial facilitators, a Serbian Crusader Commander and war hero, in Monrovia, Liberia. Certain long term tasks are delegated and I am one of two who are asked to create a compendium based on the information I have acquired from the other founders during our sessions. Our primary objective is to develop PCCTS, Knights Templar into becoming the foremost conservative revolutionary movement in Western Europe the next few decades. This in relation to developing a new type of European nationalism referred to as Crusader Nationalism. This new political denomination of nationalism will become the foremost counterweight to National Socialism and other cultural conservative political denominations, on the cultural right wing. Everyone is using code names; mine is Sigurd (the Crusader) while my assigned mentor is referred to as Richard (the Lionhearted). I believe I'm the youngest one here. I am going to discontinue my involvement in the Norwegian Progress Party as I have lost faith in the democratic struggle to save Europe from Islamification. After 65 years of harsh political oppression, demonization and ridicule from the communist-globalist cultural establishment, directed at any and all who opposes multiculturalism, there are still no indications that this communist-globalist hegemony will ever allow PP to take control. My party is systematically vilified and sabotaged by a united media before every single election. And even if they ever did manage to form a majority government with Høyre (the Conservative Party) their principles and party program would not be conservative enough to halt the ongoing Islamic demographic warfare OR increase the ethnic Norwegian fertility rate from 1.4 to 2.1. The only thing PP has achieved so far is to give false hope to Norwegians. They say that democratic struggle is the only solution, when it is clearly already lost. How can we democratically compete with a regime that is mass-importing hundreds of thousands of new voters? The PP is pacifying Norwegians by giving them false hope and I refuse to continue to have any involvement in this. Armed struggle appears futile at this point but it is the only way forward. 2002-2006 I am required to build a capital base in order to fund the creation of the compendium. I don’t know if I will ever proceed with a martyrdom operation at this point as it simply seems too radical. My plan A is to attempt to acquire 3 million Euro, in which case I plan to establish a pan- European organizational platform that will attempt to grow organically as a support organization which will distribute a “legal version” of the compendium. If I fail to generate the specified amount I will move forward with the operation, in order to market the compendium that way. As of 2005 I

Scam auction site Swipebids poses French celebrity Melissa Theuriau as generic newsperson all over the web

Penny auction scammers know their audience. Stupid Americans aren't going to recognize one phony news reporter over another, even if it's French anchorwoman Melissa Theuriau. Imagine if Lisa Hartman's misnamed image popped up in embedded advertorials.   Not only are fake "penny auction" news pages posing the A-list celebrity as a generic TV spokesperson, but ads have been placed across the internet, on authentic media like MSNBC. Certainly the banner ad managers of MSM websites know that Theuriau is not shilling for penny auction scammers.

Professional drunkard “Snooki” busted

From the "reality" show "Jersey Shore" where 20-somethings are filmed showing what they would do if they were paid to do a constant beach party. Ok so that's not the OFFICIAL premise of the show, like, when you were 21 did you have a major studio pay your rent, your clothing tab and... YOUR BAR TAB? Sure, everybody did! That's why it's called a REALITY Show! Like, DUH! I wouldn't have mentioned it at all but in "our" national obsession with 24-7 Televised Idolatry somehow this became a Major Story. And one headline compared it, albeit satirically, "Our Long National Nightmare is over- Snooki released" and took the names Martin L King and Nelson Mandela in vain. The charge, surprise: Disorderly Conduct. C'mon, guys, cut the poor girl some slack, huh? She gets PAID to be Drunk and Disorderly. The starting stages of the really tragic disease of Alcoholism is FUNNY! (oh, and the show also pays for her car and her gas. Neat!) It's a sad day for our civilization.

Alfred Lownstein and Carrion Fowl Capital

We got our satellite TV today, and on History International there's "History's Mysteries". War Profiteer/Wall Street Weasel (ok, so the European version thereof) financier Lownstein is flying across the English Channel. End of life history is he's reported to go to the bathroom in his private plane and disappeared Found dead later. My thought, the crew took out the trash and jettisoned it over the Channel. Good riddance to bad rubbish. So why is an 80 year old murder important? The commercials. Borrow money from this start-up upstart bank that I've not heard of before. Buy gold. Sell your "unwanted" gold at a smaller price of course. Infomercials lately, and the regular 30 second spots, "Mortgages being defaulted and foreclosed, buy properties for as little as a thousand dollars" ... In other words, buy back into not Predatory Capitalism... but Carrion Fowl Capitalism. There's a big service industry boost in cleaning, appraising and repairing Foreclosed Properties. And Bill Collectors, one called me about a medical bill that wasn't even mine. I simply had said ummm... Yeah? and he launched into this spiel where in ten seconds he had called me "buddy" 4 separate times. But the Vulture Capitalists are touting this as a way to get rich... off the blood and similar misfortunes of Other Human Beings. Kind of like, oh, je-ne sais quoi, like the Same Kind Of Investment Strategies that got America, and the rest of the world, into this financial mess in the first damn place. People who would willingly and with full knowledge before the fact scavenge their own society, their neighbors and probably even FAMILY aren't exactly the type of people who should be trusted with the economy of the world. Although our Friends who come regularly to defend The Noble Free Market Profiteers will sharply disagree. I'll probably get called a Bolshevik again. By the way, that's a Russian word meaning "of the PEOPLE" so I guess that sets our critics apart from The People. Talk about your basic narcissistic thought patterns. Kind of like their use of the word "do-gooder" as what they perceive to be an insult. Not knowing or caring that the exact opposite of "do-gooder" is "Evildoer". That's truly amusing when used by people who consider themselves to be Jews or Christians. As Isaiah and Jesus put it "hypocrites who devour the houses of Widows and for a pretense make long prayers". Fitting that Monsieur Alfred is memorialized by such commercials.

Betty White’s muffin on the boob tube

Which came first: the Snickers ad, the Facebook group, or SNL's crowdsourced mandate to fete American sitcom icon Betty White? To me this blonde's netroots smack of a publicist's hand, and White's performance Saturday night all but validated SNL's reluctance until now to spotlight the octogenarian's one note routine. The SNL tribute could laud only her age, raising the specter that a proverbial domestic bread might have been named for her. Betty White was a broadcast fixture, not a luminary. On the plus side, she hasn't stooped to pitching life insurance on infomercials, although I suspect her screen persona lacked the gravitas. It does look like the Snickers "Divas" campaign wants to boost White's brand recognition up to the visibility of its other stage and screen legends. Of course Betty's first name predates namesake archetypes of American comedy, but it's no indication of her contribution. When a McGruber sketch had the title comic break character to wend an impassioned I Love You to grandmother White, I was horrified to predict that the actress's persona had no stretch to stray from her signature negativity. White may have begun her career in the age of the Honeymooners, but her caricatures belong squarely to the American sitcom as it devolved into cynicism. The high notes of Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls were achieved in spite of muddy cutouts like Betty White. The social relevance of every sitcom that followed was twilighted in my opinion by Oliver Stone's brilliant parody of American television in Natural Born Killers. Seeing Betty White on SNL reminded me of attending a celebration of another show business icon Shirley Jones. Both larger than life, both admirably spry, and both masters of well-honed chops, but we're talking pork chops, with no more hue than the rosy cheeks of Paula Dean. Luminescent as they come, Jones could emote with a twinkle, but that didn't make her Lena Horne. I know, apple pie is not an art medium. Betty White can play the ditz or calculating shrew. Where else was SNL going to go with her but convalescent home vamp? I'm not sure the jokes made at the expense of her muffin weren't clammier than Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls. Hohoho, the ultimate promise of the boob tube. Like surviving veterans of the wars quickly receding in our memories, White deserves honors rekindled with every new generation. Like the soldiers' contributions, I'd say her deeds in particular were forgettable. We don't ask our aging vets to reenact their killings. Bad jokes are worse than reenacted, they're swung around afresh. Leave Betty White to shill for candy bars, she's part of America's cultural pantheon and deservedly so. Laugh track optional.

GE tv spot brings death panels to life

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING- I like the new General Electric spot meant to warm Americans to digitizing medical records, GE's "health innovation" to more easily share information among health care professionals. A regular checkup becomes slightly obtrusive as the patient recognizes that his entire history is chiming in. Though his discomfort is played for laughs, TV viewers who've been victim to US health care may recognize that the majority of the spectators to this checkup-in-the-round would be actuarial not medical professionals, administrators whose task it is to use medical records to deny coverage or adequate care.

Obesity is office equilibrium state

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING- Jimmy Dean urges its office Solar System to Fight the Morning Fade with fatty pork product. No sign of Pluto, only rotund planetary bodies floating high on chemical flatulence. The spheres are not size-proportional, but their shapes correspond exactly to bodies stuffed with an everyday Breakfast Sandwich. Truth in Advertising? Jimmy Dean isn't targeting breakfast, their Morning Fade is the Snickers pitch, marketing a non-nutritional fix for the predictable post crap-breakfast crash.

Life, Love, Liberty and Lunch

I thought the advent of Youtube would finally lead me to the script for a TV special of the late 70s called Life, Love, Liberty and Lunch. I can find only scant trace of it online. And so I will post sans link. L4 was a TV special which incorporated four scenes by leading playwrights Neil Simon, Tom Stoppard, Eric von Italie and one more. It might have been Peter Ustinov, and his is the only one I remember. The rest of the program played like Love American Style I think, or Short Cuts. I'm thinking the Liberty segment had to do with the 1976 bicentennial. But the last segment was like I'm Not Rappaport with a big smile. In the last scene, two elderly gentlemen meet in Central Park, as they do every day, to play not chess, but a game of verbal oneupmanship. Today their contest is to paint the perfect lunch, and they describe every successive course with the zeal of famished itinerants actually pouncing on it. As dessert nears, each is determined to add the last touch. Peter Ustinov played one of the gentlemen and he asked his rival if after reaching cheese, dessert, sherry, and coffee, he could think of nothing else. No, said his opponent, already confident of triumph. Nothing else, baited Ustinov? You forgot, said the great actor to his old friend.... A CIGAR! No truly great meal could go without, the other concedes, and the two walk of together, to part until the next time. So many years later, mere mention of cigars still conjures that scene for me. It's still hard for me to imagine that it could even be true, that cigars improve a post-meal glow, but I'll take a distinguished elder's word for it. LUNCH was about anticipating that others, especially others with seniority, can always have something up their sleeve to teach you.

Suddenly colored television

Immediately after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the term "Nine Eleven" was already tripping off the tongues of TV talking heads as if it was more natural than saying "last Monday," or "last week Monday," before even we knew the attack was not going to last several days. The day after the election of Barack Obama, a suddenly large proportion of the TV talking heads were black, overnight, like it had become some sort of costume party theme. Television has become colorized, and much more vigorously than Ted Turner might have ever intended. Have you noticed? On post-Bush television, Black is the new focus of equal-time. When pundits are summoned, now there's a black person among them. Nothing wrong with this development. Whatever years of seasoning these new African-American faces may lack, they make up for by being visibly brighter than the vacuous white-breads they replaced. There must be an entire class of Anglo-Saxon communication majors who are lamenting the great lost entitlement of 2009. It's a fine development, though certainly limited in its generosity. The proportion of African Americans to the total population, is vastly smaller than the new TV ratio. Conversely, over half the US public is progressive. But still almost zero percent of the corporate media personalities reflect that. Where did all these colored faces come from? Had they been training in the wings, for just this contingency? It's a wise move on the part of the networks. President Obama and his family would be looking pretty dark against the sea of white Washington DC. Someone could confuse him for security or kitchen staff, but for the media framing of black commentators to remind White America that there is no cause to panic, the new American lens is colorblind. It should be, but is it? White man still looks upon dark-skinned people as requiring domination. American urban blacks are to incarcerate, African blacks are to rescue, and insurgent/Muslim/pirate blacks are to lynch. I'm not sure we don't really long to lynch the bunch of them, if AIDS isn't thinning their number fast enough for our taste. Obama meanwhile is the black man we invite to dinner. And these colored teevee folk too. They're not poor blacks after all. They're the Thomas Sowells, Uncle Toms, educated reformed black people. Rich black people are the new lawn jockeys. Okay, so the corporate media wants to project an urbane sophistication about integrating racial harmony into its facade. We hope, I suppose, that by portraying it so, they can make it so. I think we have to wonder if that's the real manipulation. The day after September 11, the term "Nine Eleven" was coined before most of us knew what even happened. Flights were grounded anticipating more attacks. How curious that the experts were calling it "9/11" when it might still have turned out to be 9/11 - 17 or other. They'd gotten the memo about how to frame the "world-changing" development, complete with its catchy catchphrase. Obama is just such another media campaign,

Judging a book by an unflattering cover

Britain's Got Talent, Simon Cowell's UK precursor to American Idol, is pulling another Paul Potts out of its hat, flying in the face of its own conventional wisdom that only attractive people could possibly have talent. This time, straight out of a George Booth cartoon, she's "never been kissed" (never had a boyfriend, job, etc), climbed out from under a rock we're supposed to believe, Susan Boyle.   You might well ask, how otherwise would un-pop-culturish faces get a hearing? I share in Mr. Potts and Ms. Boyle's triumph, but the feigned incredulity of the celebrity judges mocks us all. Do you remember Paul Potts, the jagged-toothed mobile phone salesman who wound up singing like Mario Lanza? You can see it replayed on Youtube still, the smiling junior Fudd, patiently bearing the judges' smirky condescension until he had the chance to give them pause. This year it was Susan Boyle's turn, already 20 million views online. To her credit, or her handlers, Ms. Boyle doesn't wait on the stage with the air of a sanitarium orderly for her turn to turn the tables. She antes up a feisty personality, impossibly self-confident by the audience's pre-judgment. Until... Are we supposed to believe that neither Simon Cowell nor the other judges anticipated how a face that could have scuttled a thousand ships, would have made it past the preliminary call-backs without something up its sleeve? Or that Ms. Boyle's notoriety might not have preceded her. A voice like that is not untrained. She was already a star in her local church. It's hard to imagine that her village neighbors hadn't arrived by the lorry load for their 47-year-old protege's television debut. Likewise, Paul Potts was already a traveled tenor before his performance on Britain's Got Talent. Noted control freak Simon Cowell is probably the Idol/Talent antagonist delivering the real virtuoso acting on those shows. Pretend or not, his reality TV magic does leave viewers with a sense of enrichment. So are we chastened by coming face to face with our predisposition to low expectations for our common looking peers? The Potts and Boyle moments purport to provide transformational climaxes, but I'm unconvinced. I believe rather we are still laughing at the fool, and reinforcing our media's quite artificial prejudice against ordinary people. Social classes used to be distinguishable in a person's face. America's melting pot, and to a degree, democracy's march across the world, may have blended the clues we are accustomed to finding in bone structure, eye color and posture. It looks to me like Western media is determined to bring eugenics back, the dividing line being the red carpet. American Idol I remember reading not long ago a culture magazine blogger expressing surprise that an unknown contestant had advanced past the Idol favorites. I wondered: there are such things as known Idol participants? There's already a distinction between reality TV and celebrity reality TV, now there are pre-Idol idols?

Obama presidential address to Congress addressed to dueling teleprompters

Have you noticed that Obama rarely looks forward when he speaks, not even by a fraction of 45 degrees? I think this censored camera shot which gives viewers President Obama’s point of view, the perspective exposes his complete reliance on the teleprompters. That’s why Obama turns his head completely from side to side, never facing forward, never appearing to address the majority of the audience who must obviously be in front of him. Anyway, it’s just an observation, but the mannerism has spoiled me for watching Obama make speeches, and I particularly question his use of the teleprompters for his press conference appearance.

Progressive Insurance clown makeup

My favorite TV commercial has to be the Dr Pepper candy aisle parade, but next best is Progressive Insurance's painted lady Flo. The unselfconscious checkout geek is simply a brilliant solution to a daunting PR challenge. Who does not despise their insurance company? We hate their greed and eagerness to invade our privacy, in the person of the operator trying to glean more information than you want to tell, to the adjuster intent on paying out as little as possible. How then does an ad campaign portray an insurance spokesperson who is likeable and still believable? Make her an object of ridicule, although oblivious to judgment. Flo's not prettier than anyone, nor smarter, nor certainly fashionable, and as a result she is completely non-threatening. Throw in an indefatigable enthusiasm and she becomes endearing beyond words. She's an insurance rep you can't hate because why bother? Nothing new to the stereotype, Flo is Madge of Palmolive meets Drew Carey's nemesis Mimi Bobeck. But they obviously threw in sex appeal, which I lack for insight to deconstruct.

Life as a ten year old boy at the podium

COLORADO SPRINGS- The voice of Bart Simpson spoke at Colorado College last night. What began as a the memoir My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy, and debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival four years ago as a "one woman play" reached CC's Armstrong Hall looking like 52 card pickup with that too many index cards. There might once have been a day when Simpsons fans raved like Trekkies, but the show's longevity has lapped this generation. It didn't help that Nancy Cartwright dissed South Park and Family Guy as uninteresting. I don't think The Simpsons has lost any of its vitality, but its audience has certainly evolved an appetite for alternately focused irreverence. I'd think too, a tip celebrities shouldn't ignore from their publicists is to refrain from telling their fans that the stars themselves don't watch television. We know you are too busy, all of us ought to have better things to do. Would Fox pay you $80,000/hour if more viewers wised up to whose resources and energy are really being consumed by the half-hour financial exchange? My best question for "Bart" Cartwright might have been how Fox, network of illest repute, manages Matt Groening's subversive message. Cartwright's only questions came from middle school children because the college students had begun pulling out, pretty embarrassed for voice-of-Bart's unselfconscious star tripping. The lecturer was prepared to detail the minutia of Simpsons lore, and to say she enjoyed the plots which carried a social message, but was unprepared to explain any, and even lacked for a favorite episode. No one was unsurprised or unimpressed with the breadth of Cartwright's animation voice experience. She'd worked from My Little Pony to Pound Puppies to Kim Possible, and had been the uncredited gurgle of Maggie Simpson, among others. But those in the audience who left early, whom I came so close to envying, missed the absolute highlight of the evening, when practically as an afterthought, Cartwright revealed that her most challenging character was Chuckie Finster of the Rugrats. A hushed swoon enveloped the crowd at the mere mention. There was Cartwright's real impact in the waning Simpsons era. Today's Simpsons viewers only recognize Ralph Wiggum's voice as they bump him off in the Simpsons video game.

Oompah Loompahs meet Jackass

By all accounts, Seinfeld was a ground-breaking comedy. Purporting to be a show about nothing, it was in reality a pretty big something. Unlike typical formulaic sitcoms, Seinfeld's main characters had no roots, vague identities and a conscious indifference to morals. They also lacked any semblance of couth, which was key to the show's success. Seinfeld was funny not because it was about nothing, but because nothing was off the table. Racial stereotyping, anti-Semitism, masturbation, impotence, faked orgasms, personal hygiene issues, birth control -- everything was comedic fodder. Jerry and the gang bulldozed political correctness into the dust and made us laugh, if uncomfortably, in the process. I shouldn't have been surprised when last week's decade-old episode featured 6-foot-3-inch Kramer and his new midget friend, Mickey. I'm sure the relationship was funny at the time, but in today's Hollywood diminutive actors are commonplace. I don't know if the dwarf population has increased, or if "little people" are simply willing to be exploited by reality show dimwits. In any case, the bloom is off the mini rosebush. All that said, I'll bet Jerry Seinfeld would find something funny about ubiquitous midgets.

Electing the lesser of real evil

While it might appear to make no difference if a candidate is Republican or Democrat, I'd say a freshly galvanized non-voter would be hard pressed to suggest that any of the Y2K presidential hopefuls could have performed with more mischievous malevolence than George W. Bush. Disengaged citizens used to be ambivalent about their lack of options. Now we have precedent for thinking very hard about the lesser of evils. We don't want just the better of the worst, we have to be sure to pick the lesser EVIL.   Will 2008 be a veritable toss-up between shills? We need to know for Decision 2008 if there lurks another Alfred E. Neuman Nero in the bunch. Remember this little boy? His occult powers and prepubescent morality made him the demonic despot of a little American farming town in an early Twilight Zone episode. He could read people's minds and had the power to punish them at will. Though he might easily have been deposed by a collective effort, no one dared lay a finger. Frustrated individual insurgents were summarily disappeared to the corn fields. With FISA surveillance and the Patriot Act, could this be George W.? But even if we could discern the truly evil, the amorality which comes with profound lack of profundity, do we really have the power to make our choice heard? We're told the primaries determine the presidential winner. I heard an NPR reporter covering the circus interject with "here's a fact:" and proceed to declare that no one below the second place in such and such caucus has ever gone on to win the nomination etc, etc. As if a statistical likelihood could yield an absolute. Then there's the Iowa Caucus Curse or some such, to throw witchcraft into the pot for those blasphemers who think statistics can lie. I hear what they media pundits are really saying, when they "predict" with the caucus results, and it is true. The media have always determined who is going to win. Whether it's in the primaries or in the final election. Whoever they choose wins. The distance between is a horse race.

The Spears sisters genetic tree stump

Dumbshell Britney Spears' little sister is having a baby. The clan are mega millionaires, why shouldn't they decide what they please? Clearly they've already decided a premature preteen nose job is fine, even if your face is going to outgrow it. Time for another!   Baby at sixteen. Please. A young mother in Bangladesh is on her third by sixteen. Young Indonesian tsunami survivors were starting second families by sixteen. What does the Spears pregnancy say about American teens in general, ill-served by abstinence-only sex-ed, who are finding themselves pregnant? Most of those young mothers do not have media fortunes to fall back on and can expect basically lives of uneducated hardship. Historically, before public education, before the middle class, girls were pregnant as early as nature provided to yield the next generation of workers. Their witless beaus as well were shackled to prospect-less futures. Appropriately enough the Spears celebrity news critics treat this development like it was a stumbled performance on American Idol. What does this mean for the profile-challenged Spears' career? What advice can they offer to improve viewer poll reception in the next round? Will Nickelodeon dump pregnant Jamie Lynn from Zoey 101 because her figure may no longer be believed as a sixteen year old passing as a middle schooler. Oh my God. Forget about dumping the errant Bratz Doll because she presents too skewed a role model to America's preteens. Why are our culture deciders glamorizing White Trash? In other Trailer Park news, a worker at a Lowes store discovers that a coworker is his biological mom who had given him up for adoption. What does that say about genetic self-determination? Even with new parents he couldn't roll further than a mega store aisle from that tree.

We have met the neighbor and he is us

I love Spongebob Squarepants. The show and the person. I revere his inimitable optimism. Patrick I find likewise adorable for his straightforward ineptitude. Squidward would be the foil obviously, a sort of puritan Malevolio ill-joy, a neighbor like Mr. Wilson to Dennis the Menace, but I am determined that Squidward No-pants is something more.   Probably we're talking the usual protagonist, deuteragonist and tritagonist, as comedic trios go. But I chiefly mean to assert that as foil Squidward is no antagonist. Our main character may learn valuable lessons through his misadventures, we may see Squidward suffer over the course of his, but in the end it's the butt of the joke who sees the light. Spongebob's stumblings result from no more than a child's curiosity and enthusiasm. His tragic flaws are his strengths actually. Squidward on the other hand fails because of deep irredeemable character failings. What is the literary term for the audience's mirror? I don't feel too self-consciously a curmudgeon or bald self-aggrandized buffoon to say I see Squidward. And I refuse to believe it's because I may be an above average age viewer. With which Bikini Bottom dweller do you most identify? I know someone who'll say Spongebob, but we'd all like to say Spongebob. He is, after all, the heroic figure. But in terms of a plot proponent with thoughts in his head, with idiosyncratic prejudices and with human frailty, I'm certain we really know ourselves in Squidward. We know what it feels like to be persecuted, lampooned, belittled and ostracized, even deservedly so. I've seen poor Squidward horribly, near-irrevocably marginalized. But there are just enough sweet episodes, salvation in my sentimental opinion, to reveal that the Square Pants creative team favors Squidward as hero. When Squidward puts the lie to Krab's motto "we will not deny our guests even the most ridiculous request," when he ventures the impossible to pull together an orchestra to salvage his ego, when he conceals a newfound addiction to krabby patties, or when he decides, most unlike himself, to stir up a squid-only residential berg, we madly love ourselves. Am I wrong? How very Squidward of me.

Is Otis misshapen by BGH or steroids?

I'm not sure that's an udder fastened like a diaphragm over the groin of computer animation's favorite self-effacing alpha bull. While some may speculate that Back to the Barnyard is trying to normalize hermaphrodites in macho garb, a rugged outdoor transvestite perhaps like Eddie Izzard's mannish executive transvestite. I rather think those are fat man boobs channeled from the King of Queens which come of human absorption of BGH, Bovine Growth Hormone, used for dairy cows, and I guess, our man cow Otis. Not really. I think the rubber contraption is actually capping what would otherwise be prominent on a barnyard bull. And thus it is front and center, pink, thrust forward, often conspicuous by being just outside the frame, and what is it? A nubbly flesh colored bit of nothing. Otis, despite his gruff voice, is a eunuch, front and center, like Family Guy, Homer, Fred Flintstone and all of the South Park parents. Emasculated fathers, fatherhood figures without authority, least of all ownership, and with nothing on the fake masculine stereotypes of Hollywood and armed services commercials.

A. Whitney Brown and The Big Picture

Every year or so I search online to see what cartoonist Bill Watterson might have decided to do since putting Calvin and Hobbes to bed in 1995. I showed less diligence with another favorite social satirist whom I'm thrilled to discover has returned to the spotlight. He appeared reclusive, it turns out he's been mouthing off to great effect on Daily Kos! I can't describe my giddy thrill to see A. Whitney Brown and his insightful Big Picture again. In the 1980s, A. Whitney Brown was the brilliant SNL Weekend Update contributor, the archetype for David Spade, waspish and unapproachably sharp. But Brown's deadpan sarcasm and contrarian wit elevated the public discourse above the comedy, akin to Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, and spoke to the TV audience as if the truth mattered behind the current event. Brown published a book based on his SNL segment, THE BIG PICTURE, which remains one of my favorite recommendations. As a used-bookstore owner, I know it sold well because there are a lot of copies still floating around. But like Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts, or Allen Smith's Life in a Putty Knife Factory, or Fran Lebowitz's Metropolitan Life for that matter, the popularity of comedy books does not usually survive into succeeding decades. Whenever I see that a copy might have reached our 50¢ table, I snag it to take home. Today I'm going to revisit that stash and make sure to redistribute it with the good news. You can catch Brown on YouTube, explaining why he still supports the troops. He's been involved with Air America Radio, the Daily Show -of course, and his own projects at and more. THE BIG PICTURE still has to my mind the most lucid explanation of the economic crime that is the National Deficit. Unless Brown can get his title back in print, I hope he releases it to the Gutenberg Project, to reach everyone again. Here's a start: We live in a nation of 25 million illiterates. I read that in USA Today. That's a scary thought, one out of ten adult Americans can't even read USA Today. What are they all going to do in life? They can't all write for it. Maybe they can dictate the editorials. ----A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture

Goyim in TV land

Why are we promoting dorks like Texas Ranger and Conan O'Brian as centers of attention on television? Is this Hollywood's idea of the accessible every-man? Somebody's got to be laughing their head off behind the scene.   Clearly the standard for leading men is otherwise high. Consider that the Oceans 11 frat pack have no peers to cast in competing blockbusters. There have always been Ralph Kramdens and Ed Nortons, re King of Queens et al, or flat out queens and eunuchs, but where does medialand come off casting Chuck Norris as any kind of Tommy Lee Jones ranger? Norris looks as absurd as the stereotype he pioneered, the white man in Eastern man's pajamas, where they don't tuck 45-Magnums under their judo belts. And where does Conan O'Brian embody anything more than the wiseacre comedy writer's idiot kid brother (Eddie Haskell minus Dennis the Menace), who was visiting the set but had to step into frame because everyone even remotely qualified was throwing up. We all know how competitive comedy is, comics don't grow on trees but they crowd the stand-up circuit. Acts like Chuck and Conan are onscreen to insult us. Like miserable quiz-show contestants, they give every-man a sense he's not the dumbest, dumbest-looking loser in TV-viewer-land. The beer ads don't have to be so clever by comparison.

’24’ and the high cost of idiocy

Now I think we can begin to put a precise figure on the high cost of idiocy. Here is what it took the Australian government in OZ dollars to get Hicks back out of direct US hands. A mere 1/2 million dollars for one single one way flight! I'm sure boondoggles like this one in the name of the so-called 'War Against Terrorism' are bound to continue to just really please the folk down under. Aw Hell! The tax payers don't really need the money spent on reality anyway, do they? It's just paper.... Who ever knew that torture would cost so much? Wonder if Fox's hit show '24' ever mentions this sort of stuff on their 'reality' program?

Channel 11’s take on Dick Cheney’s bet

Last night, watching Channel 11 News, I was taken back about how even local channels in conservative cities like The Springs are beginning to come unglued in their long term backing and pushing for the Iraqi War. Dick Cheney was calling the Democratic Party a bunch of wimps and stating he wasn't worried in the least by their false and phoney opposition to Adminstration plans. He bets that they will fold their cards soon. So what did Channel 11 do? They went out and interviewed the Fort Carson based troops and put those opinions side by side with Cheney's. The GIs made it clear that they mainly opposed continued US military intervention in Iraq! That's right, the Channel 11 news spotlighted what peace activists have been seeing in recent days, that many of the soldiers have become the most fervent supports of the Peace Movement. Just like with the Vietnam War, the US government has once again succeeded in losing the hearts and minds of its own troops. Why? Because unlike the government, the troops do have a conscience and they use it as their guide.