Fact: At 4:07, 4:19 and 5:55 (close-up) of the following video, Dwight Schrute from "The Office" is standing next to Harry Belafonte during Quincy Jones' iconic "We Are the World" Super Group benefit video.
Don't worry. I've confirmed this. I emailed Dwight myself. And he related the following information, quoted directly ...
Fact: Harry Belefonte smells funny after a night of partying.
Fact: That's not Cyndi Lauper's real hair color.
Fact: I was not the only one wondering why Huey Lewis was there. Willie Nelson gave me a knowing glance.
Fact: Dionne Warwick tried to give me a Psychic Friends reading.
Fact: Huey Lewis didn't know who James Ingram was, either. Huey's off the hook.
Fact: Bruce Springsteen was just a little too into his singing part. (Editor's Note: Dwight Shrute says he is convinced that Bruce was the most-sober performer — and since Dwight Schrute was fully sober, Dwight Shrute could definitely have taken him that night in a battle of martial arts.)
Fact: Kim Carnes paid money to be included. Money wasted.
Dwight Schrute started to ramble after that. Something about how he thinks Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder are faking their "blindness" to bump up record sales. "Everyone knows people open their wallets for the 'handicapped'," he said. Anyway, I present the evidence:
(HT: Mrs. Zaius, who was hipped to this amazing story from a Facebook friend.)
My former employer, The Washington Times, has announced a 40 percent staff reduction — and just in time for Christmas! The paper, which will be distributed for free, will reportedly only concentrate on national coverage now — meaning, it seems, the end of the Metro, Sports, and Business sections ... for starters.
Makes me glad I'm a former employee. But this is a sad day. I still have many friends at that paper, which even The Washington Post's Howie Kurtz admitted often "punched above its weight class." Indeed. We were out-staffed and out-resourced by at least a factor of 5 (if not 10) by our rivals, but rattled The Post and The New York Times — often making them follow our coverage.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity TWT gave me to practice newspapering at the highest levels and beats — Congress and The White House. I don't want this post to be the beginning of a eulogy ... but it sure feels like it.
A friend there emails his lack of immense worry: "The cuts will all be people we never heard of, upstairs."
Another (very veteran reporter) is more nervous, emailing: "I'm not sure what the future holds and whether I'm in or out. Problem is, I don't think the managers know yet either who to keep and who to send packing. I can't imagine the product they envision, but there are few places to go if I don't like it."
No, not football. The immortal WKRP turkey drop episode, of course...
That bit of creative animation is a bit gruesome, meant to represent the 400 kg of greenhouse gasses for each passenger in a commercial flight — the weight of an adult polar bear. (By that count, private-jet-fan Al Gore has quite the pile of polar bears on his conscience, eh?). But the video below is even better.
From Portugal comes a video portraying a chimp, a polar bear and a kangaroo who commit suicide rather than try to eke out a life on a world despoiled by humans. Call me cold, but I found it hilarious.
The worst part about this video? It presumes chimps — chimps! — are stupid enough to not only buy into the global warming scam, but take their lives over it. Maybe so. But we orangutans come from smarter stock.
I believe that Joel, for one, said he was looking forward to watching AMC's mini-series "The Prisoner." My colleague, Sam Karnick, over at The American Culture was not impressed. And a smart observer — a veritable scholar of the original series — notes in the comments just how awful this reboot was, and is well worth reading.
I also left a comment there, which contains spoilers so I won't repeat it here. But I'm curious about the reactions of other Monkeys and Monkey Readers.
Here is Edward Skidelsky writing about "words that think for us" in Prospect:
As a society, we strive to eradicate moral language, hoping to eliminate the intolerance that often accompanies it. But intolerance has not been eliminated, merely thrust underground. "Inappropriate" and "unacceptable" are the catchwords of a moralism that dare not speak its name. They hide all measure of righteous fury behind the mask of bureaucratic neutrality. For the sake of our own humanity, we should strike them from our vocabulary.
There's more. It's brief, and well worth reading.
(Hat tip: Arts & Letters Daily)
Cool mash-up featuring the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" set to scenes from "The Empire Strikes Back." (Via Ace of Spades.)
The suggestion that the Dog Whisperer is also a Child Whisperer of sorts has popped up — sometimes couched as a joke, but, well, not really — in parents’ forums like blogs, online discussion boards, magazines, Twitter feeds and podcasts. Some parents are starting to take notice.
“When we started watching his shows, we had intended to apply his advice toward our dogs,” said Amy Twomey, a blogger on parenthood for The Dallas Morning News who is raising three children under 10 with her husband, Matt. “But we realized a lot of ideas can be used on our kids.”
And: South Park in 2006
Here's Saturday Night Live's take on the Obama trip to China this week.
(Hat tip: Exurban Jon.)
"Our customers are thinking people," said Nathan Embretson, a bookseller at Pendragon Books in Oakland. "They're not into reading drivel."
"Anything like that we wouldn't carry," said clerk Emily Stackhouse at Cover to Cover Books in San Francisco. "We're a small store and it would probably gross us all out. Some things you carry because of freedom of speech, but a book like that is just gross."
So, at the doors of some Bay Area stores, a book by a woman who was a vice presidential candidate for a couple of months is just too icky to put on the shelves. I'm sure this is not an isolated incident in liberal "thinking people" enclaves.
Granted, there is probably not much of a market for Palin's book in those insular (read: not diverse) neighborhoods, and I'm all for the free market. Emily Stackhouse — a great name for a bookstore owner — is free to run her business as she pleases. Though it's hard not to think that the fella who owns Geno's Steaks in Philly, who caught hell for his "Order in English Only" sign a while back, might note the irony of our society's selection of freedoms a businessman may exercise.
But it's the moral preening of the Emily Stackhouses of America that grate on me. She makes certain to fly the "freedom of speech" flag in her comments, but doesn't really mean it. She has, in fact, banned Palin's book from her shelves. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. She has the right to sell what she wants. But please, don't ban Palin's book from your shelves and at the same time celebrate your supposed adherence to free speech. Don't brag that you are willing to bravely carry controversial works, but not Palin's work, which would genuinely challenge your customers.
It reminds me of Hollywood producing movies like "Good Night, and Good Luck," or "Redacted" — movies that reinforce the group-think of the industry, challenging no one — and patting itself on the back for its "courage" during the Bush "horror."
Ban Palin's book, if you must. But spare me the sanctimony, please.
It was inevitable, wasn't it?
From The Daily Mail of London:
Makers Mattel are backing the exhibition which is the work of Italian designer Eliana Lorena.
The auction is part of Barbie celebrations for her 50th anniversary this year. The UK's biggest Barbie fan Angela Ellis, 35, has a collection of more than 250 dolls.
So far, it appears this new version of the iconic American doll is for "collectors" only. But, c'mon! What girl wouldn't be excited by the prospect of spending hours with friends on a rainy day playing with these fetching numbers. Oh, the fun you can have!
Burkha Barbie has been a bad girl. She's been seen with
Ken Khaled at the goat market without a family escort. So let's bury her up to her waist in the sandbox and call in the neighborhood kids for a stoning.
What's that? Burkha Barbie wants to go to school? Grab the acid out of Rahman's
terrorist training chemistry set and throw it in her face.
Burkha Barbie has moved with her family to Arizona and wants to date an American boy? Blasphemy! Let's put
Ken Khaled in the Malibu and run her down for shaming the clan.
This isn't abuse, exactly, but it's probably not good parenting:
With the birth of his son 15 years ago, dedicated linguist d’Armond Speers embarked on the ultimate experiment: He spoke to him only in Klingon — the language of the alien race of “Star Trek” fame — for the first three years of his life.
“I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language,” Speers said. “He was definitely starting to learn it.”
I've been a dad all of, oh, nearly 15 months now. I'm still a novice, it feels like, and still exhausted because the precious lil' woogums has started waking up in the middle of the night, every night, all over again. So sometimes my parenting judgment is clouded.
But I think I can safely make this call:
Parents, your child is not a science experiment.
Parents, your child is not a freak flag to be flown at the fanboy conventions.*
Parents, your job is to raise your child to deal with the world as best as he/she can with the resources he/she has. If you start their lives by equipping them only with tools useful in a fantasy world, you are not doing your job.
That is all.
*UPDATE: Jason Snell writes: "The guy is a linguist, not a fanboy. I think calling him a fanboy clouds the issue and makes the shot too easy." Duly noted.
Via Pam Meister at Big Hollywood comes word that the fetching Megan Fox is not all that happy that her first legitimate starring role in Jennifer's Body bombed at the box office. Who's to blame? The rubes in Middle America the girl raised in Tennessee has an enduring hate for. Fox bleats:
The actress tells The New York Times that her movie “Jennifer’s Body” tanked because “the movie is about a man-eating, cannibalistic lesbian cheerleader, and that pretty much eliminates middle America.”
Keep voluntarily eliminating "Middle America" from your audience, sweetie, and you'll find your audience will continue to dwindle. Them looks, as spectacular as they are, won't last forever. Meister is more to the point:
Oh my stars! [Jennifer's Body] has Oscar and Golden Globe written all over it, and Middle American schlubs who shop at Walmart and enjoy a night out at Applebee’s couldn’t appreciate the delicate nuances of a man-eating, cannibalistic lesbian cheerleader? Well, that’s the hoi polloi for you.
Yup. Someone please inform the bitter Ms. Fox that her box office appeal has everything to do with her looks (and quite a bit of luck) and nothing to do with what she might let spill from her pouty lips.
I like these dumb bits -- I guess they're called "wedgies" -- that Cartoon Network runs between shows. Oink! Oink! Oink!
In response to some provocation by the Phlegms, The Telegraph of London offers "10 reasons to dislike the Belgians." But, really, all they had to do was post this...
Today, FOX News host Gregg Jarrett was talking about Republican Sarah Palin's book tour and the crowd she is drawing at the start of it -- no small turnout, with some 1,500 people lining up early this morning for a chance to get into this evening's premier book-signing for Going Rogue in Grand Rapids.
"Sarah Palin continuing to draw huge crowds while she's promoting her brand new book,'' FOX's Jarrett told his viewers. "Take a look at -- these are some of the pictures just coming into us... The lines earlier had formed this morning.''
But it turns out that Happening Now had pulled some video of something that happened last year: Displaying video today from Palin's campaign for the vice presidency, on the ticket with the GOP's Sen. John McCain -- which also drew considerable crowds, as shown today in video of a smiling Palin before an adoring campaign crowd.
Recall that last week, as Joel noted here, The Daily Show pointed out how Sean Hannity's program used old B-roll to apparently distort the crowd size of the Nov. 5 "Kill the Bill" tea party event on the Washington Mall. Hannity apologized (more or less). I didn't quite believe Fox's excuses, but I didn't quite see malice aforethought, either.
This, however, is embarrassing and beyond sloppy, even if sloppiness turns out to be the root cause. Shenanigans of this sort lend credence to Fox News' conspiracy-minded critics, of course. It also further validates the Bradbury Rule.
Update: Fox News explains the different footage was a control room gaffe. As much as it pains me to link to Think Progress, you can watch the video of the on-air apology there.
Ben and Joel are joined in this episode by National Review columnist and contributing editor John Derbyshire, author most recently of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism (Crown Forum). Derbyshire is nothing if not candid and doesn't skirt controversy in this wide-ranging interview about his book.
Among the questions we discuss:
• Are we doomed?
• Can politics save us?
• Should women have the right to vote?
• Is the culture irredeemable?
• Should people conceal their biases?
• What's this business about Ice People and Sun People?
• Can religion save us?
• Should conservatives be anti-war?
• But seriously... are we absolutely, positively doomed?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Bad Times Are Just Around the Corner" - Noël Coward
• "I'm Against It" - Groucho Marx
• "Nineteen fifty-three: Ha ha ha ha... (paper chase)" from the opera "Powder Her Face" - Almeida Ensemble/Thomas Ades
• "Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999" (J.S. Bach) - Andres Segovia
• "Symphony No. 6 in A minor: First movement" (Mahler) - San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas
• "Beautiful World" - Devo
Jeffrey Jena at Big Hollywood explains what the 'V' controversy is -- and isn't -- all about:
As it happens, I’m acquainted with Scott Peters who developed and wrote the remake of “V” for ABC...
When I started reading some of the rumors and theories about Mr. Peters’ latest show and the behind-the-scenes politics, I laughed out loud. Let me try to shed some light on the “V” controversy.
The script was not written as a roman a clef or allegory for the Obama administration. The script was written by Mr. Peters during the Bush administration and started before Mr. Obama clinched the nomination. The author, Mr. Peters, is not some evil sleeper right-winger/Obama hater. Mr. Peters, besides being a talented writer and director is a gay man, legally married in California, and a liberal supporter of the President who worked for and donated money to the his campaign. If he’s a mole for some right-wing conspiracy he may be the most committed spy ever. Mr. Peters, who was born in Canada, recently became an American citizen; a process he tried to expedite so he could vote for Mr. Obama, a deadline he missed by two days.
This video isn't exactly new, but Mrs. Zaius hipped me to it tonight, and I thought I'd share it for the sake of our five readers who would like a diversion from the usual flotsam and jetsam around here. The California Lakelys saw The New Pornographers open for Death Cab for Cutie a few months ago at the Hollywood Bowl (though we were hip to the band before the show). They're worth exploring.
Anyway, this video was reportedly made by high school kids at Millburn High School in Essex County, New Jersey. (There's a gratuitous hit at George W. Bush in the credits ... but they are high school kids ... sigh ....) And The New Pornographers liked it so much, they approved it as an "official" video for "The Bleeding Heart Show" off the Twin Cinema album from 2005.
Great song from the Canadian Band, and an inspired video (made me think of They Might Be Giants in the early years.)
Although I know who Lady Gaga is, I can honestly say I've never heard her song, "Poker Face." And I'm not sure I could hear it now that I've experienced Eric Cartman's cover and Christopher Walken's dramatic reading.
Videos embedded below (click on "Read more" to view).
It's a question every parent confronts sooner or later: When do I introduce the children to the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft? Isn't there a way to ease the kids into the chaotic world of Cthulu and the Ancient Ones? Is 18-months-old too early... or too late?
Happily, now there is an answer...
I've made no secret of my love for classical music and my ever-present regret over failing to grow a beard like that of Johannes Brahms. Turns out, I've been eating the wrong breakfast cereal. (At least, I think that's what this commercial is about...)
SNL was a rerun tonight -- it was the one with the Obama sketch that major cable news networks thought worthy of "fact-checking." Anyway, I thought this Andy Samberg short was funny... perhaps because I'm not part of your system, maaaaaaaan! Or perhaps because I've had too much to drink.
Update: Bob Dylan's playlist, which XM Radio aired as an episode of his late, great Theme Time Radio Hour three years ago, is pretty good, too.
Halloween falls on a Saturday and Sunday is the official return of Standard Time ("fall back"), so what could be a better time for a horror film marathon? A couple of weeks ago, Joel and I talked scary movies with Christian Toto, Matt Prigge and Jason Snell. (If you didn't hear the podcast, go listen to it now. It's just under an hour, but it really flies by. Go ahead. Don't worry, we'll still be here when you get back.)
Anyway, among the five of us, we came up with 15 horror movies, plus a handful of bonus films, that are guaranteed to thrill and chill this Halloween. All told, they add up to just under 40 hours of filmmaking. So if you get started around dusk on Friday, the final credits should roll near dawn on All Saints Day.
To see the Halloween List, click "read more" below.
My musical tastes tend to be quite varied -- you might say ecumenical -- but Christian rock is not a favorite. For some reason, Kathryn Jean Lopez has been posting a great deal about Christian rock at the Corner over the past day. I found myself nodding in agreement with one of her correspondents, who wrote "I prefer my decadence pure."
In what Lopez promises will be the last word on the subject, she quotes an e-mailer who makes an excellent observation:
(T)here is a great body of Christian Rock out there by bands who don’t try to market themselves as “Christian Rock” .... Heck, even Ozzy Osbourne, once you get past the flamboyant stage act, actually has a message that is quite consistent with Judeo-Christian values -- take a serious listen (to) “Iron Man,” “The Ultimate Sin,” or “Crazy Train.”
Quite right. I'll go one better. I contend that the greatest "Christian Rock" album of the past 35 years is Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality." Apart from "Sweet Leaf," the album features some of the most explicitly religious -- and, indeed, Christian -- music you'll find from a hard rock band.
And if you don't believe me, you can go to straight to the Devil.