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Greenlee Gazette is away at a family event. Some blogging may happen, but not much! See you next week!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Illinois Legalizes Civil Unions for Same-sex Couples

Image from source,
Raw Story
It's not marriage. And even if it's "the next best thing," it's still not good enough in my opinion. But, it's a step in the right direction. And gay Americans can be happy that most of the little steps lately have too. Of course, any time progress is made in the area of gay rights, the opposition pitches a bitch, and vows to undo it. And they keep trying, and sometimes they log a victory. But they're on the wrong side of history. Mark my words.

[Excerpt]

Illinois legalizes civil unions for same-sex couples



Illinois became the 12th US state to extend legal recognition to same-sex couples Monday after its governor signed a law allowing for civil unions. . .
 
Read more at: Raw Story

Health Care Act Ruled Unconstitutional. . .But. . .

FRC's Tony Perkins (No! Mother! Blood!)
Image from source, Think Progress
Oh, this couldn't look much hinkier, could it? A judge in Florida ruled that the "mandate" to buy insurance is un-Constitutional, and therefore the whole act is. That sounds like a heckuva reach, doesn't it? Then, it sounds like the judge is a Tea Party supporter, which isn't in and of itself a disqualifier, but who is he using as source material? The Family Reasearch Council? Are you shitting me? That group--aside from recently being put on the SPLC Hate Group list--is renowned for skewed statistics. Good grief.

[Excerpt]

Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson ‘Borrows Heavily’ From Family Research Council To Invalidate Health Law



. . .But a closer read of his analysis reveals something peculiar. In fact, as Vinson himself admits in Footnote 27 (on pg. 65), he arrived at this conclusion by “borrow[ing] heavily from one of the amicus briefs filed in the case for it quite cogently and effectively sets forth the applicable standard and governing analysis of severability (doc. 123).” That brief was filed by the Family Research Council. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Bryant Gumbel & Katie Couric Ask: What is the Internet Anyway? (1994)

Yeah, in 1994 the internet wasn't as common as it is now. But did this seems a little late to me.


Frivolity Break: Madonna's Rejection Letter

Click to embiggen
It turns out everybody gets rejected, even Madonna.  No, not now, back before she was a one-named superstar. It's got to hurt to be one of the people who declined to sign her to a contract. Who knows though, if she hadn't gotten exactly the breaks she got at exactly the time she did, she may never have broken through in the same way. Still, Mr. Ienner had to be kicking himself long about 1984. . .

SNL's Best Bits: Michele Bachmann and "Creep"

In this belated Saturday Night Live post, I bring you SNL's take on Michele Bachmann's hilariously botched State of the Union response.


John Waters introduced this fantastically creepy (just like him!) SNL Digital Short, The Creep.

Investigative Report: The Incredible Shrinking Groceries, Part 1 (Coffee)

I don't know if you've been paying attention, but our groceries are shrinking. You could be forgiven for missing it, though. Because the manufacturers are tricking us. Well, duh, they've been tricking us for years with advertising. But now what they're doing is selling us smaller and smaller amounts of product, but making it look like we're buying the same thing. This is just part one of (I hope) a multi-part series, should I be able to gather more evidence (and keep interest!). This is the only example that I'm aware of that I have in my house, and since this is the first thing I've noticed myself, I thought I'd start with it.

I've seen newspaper articles about--in particular--Tropicana orange juice. They make a slightly smaller than half-gallon of juice in a container that looks pretty much the same. So they can sell you 59 ounces or so for the price of 64 ounces (or shoot, the price might even have gone up!). A half gallon of ice cream became 1.75 quarts, and is now usually 1.5 quarts (but the packages got more creatively shaped). They do it with bars of soap, by molding them into a more hour-glassy shape. They do it with lotions and makeup with fancy, curvy bottles. But what do you do when the package is really common?

With coffee, the manufacturers long ago discovered we could be unobservant about what we're buying. The three pound can of coffee is long gone, having dropped in ounces drastically over the years. But the can size--roughly--is still with us.  I just had no idea how far down that 48 ounces has dropped. I decided to take out the last three cans of coffee I've bought: a half-caf one, the one that I just emptied, and the new one I bought this week. The Maxwell House half-caf one could--as a specialty blend--be forgiven for being a little less than usual. It was 34.5 ounces. That's quite a bit less than three pounds. But maybe it is the standard, since the can I just finished, a Kroger brand was just the same.

But, ho! Look here! The new "Great Value" (Walmart) can I bought just a couple of days ago turns out to not be a great value at all. 27.8 ounces. Twenty-seven point eight friggin' ounces! Can you believe that? It's dropped below two pounds (32 ounces), and it's still in a three-pound can! That takes chutzpah! I can tell you this: I've been letting it slide before, but I'm going to be watching my coffee purchases from now on. If there's an ounce-to-dollars comparison available, I'm definitely going to make it. I hate being ripped off, and I hate being swindled. That's what this is. By packaging these things like they're the same, but dropping the content, they're deliberately tricking all of us. And that sucks.

I'm going to try to continue this as a series. And I'm going to have to think up examples to check out. The one thing I've thought of that would be extremely difficult to change without people noticing is liquid beverages. Sodas, sure. We're used to their sizes, but they're so cheap to make, it isn't probably necessary to rip us off there. But what about alcohol?  There's no way you're going to change the size of a bottle of hooch, and not have us boozers crying foul! But guess what I noticed? My new bottle of Smirnoff has a different aerator in it, one that lets the vodka slosh out faster than it used to. I'm positive it isn't my (hic) imagination. . .


Blast from the Past: Fast Food of the 70s & 80s

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, which is for some reason a hotbed of chain restaurants. I don't mean they just have a lot of them, but that many originated there. Oh, they don't all still exist. But Wendy's is the best known of the bunch, and it's still going strong.  This weekend, on one of my many Wikipedia/YouTube/Internet time wasting labyrinths, I started looking at a bunch of the old restaurants I remembered that aren't around any more. There are a ton of them. But how many commercials are available? I thought I'd find out. . .

And then I gave up. I tried to find Big Bite, BBF, Borden Burger, GD Ritzy's, Daddy-O's, Rax,  and others, but no dice. So, I decided to just find some of the better ads from what is there. Hey, at least I found Burger Chef!




1. Burger Chef - Incrediburgible! Burger Chef & Jeff were the characters, and the "Fun Meal" predated the "Happy Meal." Burger Chef was at least as popular with us kids as McDonald's.
2. Wendy's - "Parts is Parts." A classic commercial from a time period when Wendy's had the funniest commercials on the air.
3. Jack in the Box - Before Jack became one of the best (and funniest) pitchmen on TV, he was a tired, silly old clown that the chain wanted to dispose of. And they did.
4. Arby's - This tragically 80s commercial shows why Arby's has always sort of been an also-ran.
5. McDonald's - Is there any reason that I should still know that a Big Mac is composed of "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?"
6. Wendy's- Yes, Wendy's again, because they really did have the funniest commercials in the 80s, which this "Soviet fashion show" proves.

That's it for this week. And while I was a failure in my quest for defunct fast-food joints, there was a ton to choose from for ones that are still around. I may have  do a sequel tomorrow. Happy Monday!

UPDATE!:  I found a commercial for one of my favorite defunct fast-food joints, Sisters Chicken & Biscuits. It was a chain of fried chicken places owned by Wendy's, and started--of course--in Columbus. They had awesome green beans with bacon and a delicious rice dish. Their biscuits were fantastic, and so was their chicken fried steak. I don't know if the joint failed because of profits or what, but their food was several notches higher in quality than any other fast food place.

Age: What a Concept

Katherine Helmond gets a lift in
Terry Gilliam's Brazil
This morning, while getting ready for my day, it occurred to me that January is ending, and that February is sort of a big month for the family. My Mom's, Step-dad's and brother-in-law's birthday are in the first three weeks, and the parents are having their fortieth anniversary. They got married when I was four, so that means it has also been forty years since I entered the public school system. Kindergarten in 1971.

My mind--which works like one of Jessica Tate's soliloquies*--hopped from the arrival of February, to important dates, to forty years ago, to omigod in forty more years, I'm going to be really old! If I'm even alive at all!  Then, my mind got a little sad. A little verklempt. I mean, geez, 1971 was a long time ago and everything, but I remember it. Some of it I remember pretty well. And while it's conceivable that I do have forty (or even more) years left--particularly since I quit smoking**--I can't say that for very much longer, can I?

I'm sure that everybody comes to these realizations, and that everyone has their own way of dealing with it. When the future calendar pages can only be realistically read as 20 more years, 10. . .will I really freak out? Or will it just be one of those things you eventually absorb? I suppose I should listen to the more reasonable side of my brain that knows I could die tomorrow (I can't use the "hit by a bus" metaphor. It actually happened to someone I know. Really).  And I'd imagine that at certain ages. . .at least if the body or brain is giving out. . .you might not want to go on for 10 or 20 more years.

One of the more interesting things about aging today, is watching the generation ahead of mine (I'm early Generation X), the Baby Boomers, fight aging tooth and nail. When they hit their 40s and 50s, they didn't automatically get the old lady dress, the grandpa pants, the Brylcreem, the granny hairdo and shawl, like many of their parents did. It didn't hurt that the Boomers were the generation of rock & roll and counter culture. Knocking trends was what they did. Well, that, and plastic surgery became a little more acceptable.

My own parents are still going pretty much full blast all the time. My bosses--two ladies--are Boomers, and they're still going strong. Almost everyone I know born in the forties and fifties defy the image I had of "old people" when I was a kid. Ask most of them, and they probably wouldn't consider themselves old, and might get indignant at the suggestion. Turn on the news, and check out the commercials: Viagra. Boniva. Knee Replacements. Heart medicine. But look closely at all the actors pitching that stuff. Perky Sally Field, butch guys climbing mountains, the studly silver fox and his cougar in side-by-side bathtubs on the beach. Yeah, I don't get that last one either, but you see what I'm getting at. Basically, I'm feeling the same age as the Boomers, and I'm a generation behind them!

What they're probably going to do is, they're going to wear us out. We're going to see a whole generation ahead of us clinging to youth, eventually losing the battle anyway, as we all will. And we Gen-Xers are gonna throw up our hands and say, "why bother!" We'll hitch up our branches to our armpits, get our horn-rimmed glasses with the chain, black socks and sandals. . . It ain't gonna be pretty!

Notes:

* The Katherine Helmond character on Soap always talked in a verbial hopscotch: "I know what I know, but I don't know what I don't know, but I do know that I don't know. You know?" What's more, there's a Benson character in my head too, and he understands.

** Wrapping up 28 days! Woohoo!  Pass the cold turkey, who says it can't be done.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It Isn't Just Conservatives Who Don't Believe in Evolution

There are certain things that are either known to be real, or so nearly so that dismissing them, disbelief in them, or disagreement with them seems ridiculous. I think this whenever I hear someone say they "disagree" with homosexuality. Gay people exist whether you "agree" with them or not. Ridiculous. It is much the same with evolution. Evolution--if Darwin hadn't spelled it out--would likely have been "discovered" by someone else shortly after. It's logical. It makes a ton of sense. And lots of other science hinges upon it.

On Friday Night's Real Time with Bill Maher, Georgia Republican Jack Kingston (who is good looking, but kind of douchey, creating conflict for me) flatly stated that he doesn't believe in evolution. That didn't surprise me. D.L. Hughley, the liberal actor/comedian stated the same. That surprised me. Basically, it looks to me like it is a strong belief in religion--something with far less evidence than evolution--that creates this disbelief. It's curious. They can accept the whoppers in the bible, but can't swallow The Origin of Species.

[Excerpt]


Jack Kingston wants to see man-fish-newt





On Real Time with Bill Maher, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) apparently wants to see some kind of manfishnewt before he will accept evolution (For Southpark fans, that would be half-man, half-fish, and half-newt). Which, if ever found, would utterly destroy our understanding of human evolution along with a giant chunk of vertebrate biology. . .


Read more at: DailyKOS

And if you want a site that refutes Kinston's and Hughley's opinion, check this out for some quick debunking: Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Overtime with Bill Maher, January 28, 2011

NBC Universal Unveils New Logo. FAIL.

The New (ugly) "logo." --from source, Huffington Post
There is a lot I don't like about the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal. I mean, NBC Universal was already the merger of two big media companies. Every network was already owned by a huge conglomerate (Viacom owns two of them, CBS and the CW). As with seemingly everything else in this country, one of these days, there will probably be only a couple of giant owners, splitting the whole media pie. You can go to any hardware store you want, as long as it's Home Depot or Lowes. Any book store, as long as it's Borders or Barnes & Noble. Any media source, as long as it's DisneyViacomWarnerFox or ComcastNBCUniversal.

Previous (better) logo --from source, Huffington Post
I'm a graphic artist though, so another problem is their hideous new logo. NBC has done great things with logos over the years, with the great brand recognition of their peacock. The previous corporate logo neatly blended the two identities of NBC and Universal. It was cool; simple but classy. The new one? It isn't a logo at all. It's a typeface. And it isn't even an attractive typeface. Somebody gets paid for this stuff? How do you get a gig like that?

[Excerpt]

NBC Universal's New Logo Ditches Peacock


NBC Universal is now NBCUniversal - without the space, the peacock or the globe silhouette.



That was part of the message delivered to the company's 25,000 employees at a town hall gathering on Thursday that featured top executives from prospective new owner Comcast Corp. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

So, It Looks Like Keith Olbermann Was Fired After All

Image from SodaHead.com
I get that former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann had a reputation for being difficult to work with. I get that his liberal viewpoint probably gave the conservative higher-ups at GE (and now Comcast) acid indigestion. But I still can't see the wisdom of firing their biggest ratings grabber, apparently for company politics.  But I wonder if they did a little studying on how this was all going to pan out. Their calculus may be playing out for them, since their ratings--at least in their first Keith-less week--don't seem to have gone down all that much.

As for Olbermann, I'm sure he'll land on his feet. Eight years was a long time to be on the same channel at the same time. It's a longer stretch than many if not most cable news programs. I mean, remember Rita Cosby Live & Direct? The Verdict with Dan Abrams? Scarborough Country? Those are just three of the shows that followed Countdown with Keith Olbermann in recent years, before the debut of The Rachel Maddow Show.

[Excerpt]


Burke on Olbermann: ‘This Was a Decision Made By NBC News Management, Steve Capus and Phil Griffin’


At noon today, NBC Universal (now called, apparently NBCUniversal) held a town hall meeting in the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” studio, where new CEO Steve Burke was interviewed by “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams. . .
 
Read more at: TV Newser

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Cat is Half in the Bag

Or rather, she's all the way in, but has trashed it so thoroughly, the's busting out. Sorry I haven't been posting much, gang. But I seem to have burnt out a little bit. The news and politics aren't doing much for me this week, plus I had a party to go to yesterday. So, I've been slacking. I'll get going again soon, but for now, you're going to have to settle for a picture of Jinx being silly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Frivolity Break (Vulgar Edition): Better Off Ted Outtakes

Apropos of absolutely nothing (except for a complete disinterest in politics and news today, and a free Netflix trial), here is an extremely funny--but utterly not safe for work (NSFW)--clip from the sadly under appreciated, cancelled ABC comedy, Better Off Ted. It's a huge favorite of mine, from one of the funnier episodes. A bit of explanation: the aired version contained insults and epithets that were aired on broadcast television, and thus not truly vulgar. This clip allowed the actors to run wild with the most off-color profanities they could think of. The results are hilarious. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Meanwhile, I'll try to get more into the swing of blogging again on Thursday night. Probably.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When is a Tea Party not THE Tea Party? Rachel Maddow Explains. . .

And she also keeps heaping the shame upon CNN for their odd partnership with The Tea Party Express. This is the clip I thought I was posting earlier, which explains the double dose of Maddow. If you are not a fan of hers, and you think this clip is just to mock or smear the tea party movement, I urge you to watch the clip. That's not what it's about.


Rachel Maddow Shames CNN for Promoting Tea Party Express & Bachmann

This must be a record for an MSNBC clip to hit the web. I just finished watching Rachel Maddow shame CNN, and here it is already. The producers must've known this was a pretty great clip.*  On Tuesday night, CNN featured Michele Bachmann (R-Batshit) and her "official response" to the State of the Union Address. The problem? It wasn't official. It was from a PAC called "The Tea Party Express," an organization funded by a Republican operative, one that CNN has inexplicably aligned itself with.  Take it away, Rachel. . .




*UPDATE: The date on the clip threw me. The Rachel Maddow Show aired at midnight in the eastern time zone on Tuesday, so the date was the same as Wednesday. I'll post Wednesday's clip when it goes up.

Blast from the Past: Rush Limbaugh's I'm a Nazi!

This came up in a comments section discussion (thanks, Dan). Years ago, a radio station put together an absolute genius edit of Rush Limbaugh quotes edited to music, called "I'm a Nazi" or "He's a Nazi" alternatively. It's a masterful job of editing, and a great tune to boot. Now, ordinarily, I'd say that using Nazis as an analogy is best avoided. Nobody is like a Nazi, right? Maybe not.

And maybe you're a person who finds little to no humor in anything Nazi-related. I can understand that, I really can. But don't forget, Mel Brooks--a Jewish person himself--came up with Springtime for Hitler in the movie (later Broadway musical) The Producers, in the late 60s.  That was a mere 20-odd years after the actual events of World War II. So there is clearly some grey area here.  Anyway, this particular video is a variant I've been looking for ever since I started this blog in 2007. Enjoy.

If I Went on America's Got Talent: Photic Sneeze!

Are you a photic sneezer? I am. Ever since I was a very small kid, perhaps days out of the womb, the sun has made me sneeze. At the ripe old age of 44, it still happens, and in the Las Vegas desert, it's an everyday thing. Ever have that "feel like you're going to sneeze" feeling? If I do, I just venture near an open window, or even a brightish light, and ahhhh-chooooo!

Scientists are baffled by it, but I'll hazard a guess. I've always thought that the abrupt change from dark to intense light causes the optic nerve, or its buddies, to vibrate. This causes tingles somewhere in my head that radiate to whatever nerve cluster causes a sneeze. At least I think that might be it. But it's only good for two or three good hearty (and I mean honking) sneezes. Maybe four on a good day. But after that, I'm all done. And I can stifle them with sunglasses, or a very conscious effort. But when you've got a talent like this? I let 'em fly. But it's funny. Most times, rather than "achoo," my sneezes almost always come out, "ah-duh-duh-duh-duh-chaaahhhhhhh!"  Loud, and stuttery, and really hard to squelch. My step dad's are always like, "Huh-DAH-chuh!" Maybe we all have our own special sneezes?

I'm still dubious about the "up to 35%" of people being affected by photic sneezing though. It always seems to be just me. The best part is that it's called "ACHOO." That's Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst (yeah, they kinda cheated).

Read more about Photic Sneezing at: Wikipedia

Jon Stewart Calls FOX "News" Out on Nazi Hypocrisy

I meant to post this earlier, and forgot about it. It's from Monday night's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It opens with a funny mention of Keith Olbermann's departure from MSNBC (odd how the reaction to that has been less hysterical than his suspension in November, eh?), and goes into FOX "News" and their hypocritical reaction to a politician using Nazi imagery. It's very well done. Enjoy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
24 Hour Nazi Party People
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann's State of the Union Response

Why are there two responses to the President's State of the Union Address? And why is one from the rattling brain pan of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann? Hell if I know. This is the Tea Party's--or rather, the Tea Party Express'--response, rather than the GOP response. As though there's a difference. Let's see what sort of plan Miss Cuckoo Bananas has for us, shall we? I haven't watched yet, so I'll comment after. . .



Urrrpppp. . .That was a little hard to take. Why is she looking over my left shoulder? Distracting. Anyway, I don't trust any facts or figures from this woman without a fact-checking organization. Her history bears me out on that one. Also, Ewa Jamma? Honestly. Anyway, thanks to Joe.My.God. for finding the video so that I didn't have to look anymore, and also for the "Crazy Eyes" nickname. Perfect.

Congressman Paul Ryan's GOP Response to the State of the Union Address

A bit vague. Not my cup of tea. But a damned sight better than Bobby Jindal.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

President Obama's Second State of the Union Address

Without commentary, as there is plenty of that to go around. . .

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Michele Bachmann Rewrites History: Founding Fathers Fought Slavery?

Crazy Eyes, making shit up (Raw Story)
Recently, I wrote a post trying to puzzle out why Sarah Palin continues to be treated as relevant even though she has nothing of substance to say. I found a decent answer for that, even though I didn't write it myself.  But Palin isn't alone as a politician saying and doing crazy and/or stupid stuff, and getting press for it anyway. She's just one of the few who is out of office (I guess you could throw Newt Gingrich in with her).

Michele Bachmann is a sitting Congresswoman, who inexplicably keeps getting reelected. She looks nuts, she sounds nuts, and she just keeps coming up with them. Like Palin--but on a much smaller scale--Bachmann can say something utterly outrageous, crazy, stupid or untrue, and it doesn't seem to hurt her. She probably just solidifies the opposition and the support of those who already were in that camp. But I don't understand this. Check out what she had to say below. It's nuts. She's bananas. Or she's outrageously dishonest. If it's the former, what is she doing in Congress? If it's the latter, exactly how much respect can she have for the intelligence of her supporters?

[Excerpt]


Bachmann: Founding fathers ‘worked tirelessly’ to end slavery

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said the United States was founded on racial and ethnic diversity and that the founding fathers were responsible for abolishing slavery.
Read more at: Raw Story

Fun Fact: If "Nobody" Watched Olbermann, "Nobody" Watches Beck Either

Image derived from TVNewser. Click to embiggen.
In the last day that such things can be measured, the difference in the ratings between Glenn Beck on FOX "News" and Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC was scanty indeed.  Beck bested Olbermann, I'm not gonna lie. But the margins are thin, and do not merit all of this ridiculous "nobody watched" Olbermann. I'd also like to point out that in the key demographic (25-54), Olbermann did beat Beck, 388K to 270K. I'll concede that when you're counting your viewers in hundreds of thousands, calling that audience "nobody" might have a little validity. But if you're going to apply that to Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, or MSNBC in general, if you have any honesty, you must apply it to Glenn Beck as well.

Source: TVNewser

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rachel Maddow on Keith Olbermann's Departure from MSNBC

Everyone who was a fan of Countdown with Keith Olbermann was likely curious what The Rachel Maddow Show would have to say about Olbermann's abrupt departure from MSNBC. After all, TRMS was pretty much a spin-off of Countdown.  TRMS also probably shares the bulk of its audience, or at least did before Olbermann was dismissed/quit/whatever. Here's what Rachel had to say.


FOX "News" Gave $55 Million in Free Airtime to GOP Prez Hopefuls

That $55 mil. is for the calendar year of 2010. That's quite a freebie, wouldn't you say? Shouldn't people like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin be refusing handouts, and pulling their campaigns up by their bootstraps? Heh. Yeah, I know. It really isn't funny. A channel that is supposedly news, seems to be becoming a farm team for GOP presidential candidates. Five--count them, five--potential Republican candidates are or have been employed by FOX "News." And hey, they've even got a governor in John Kasich of Ohio.

[Excerpt]

Report: Fox News gave GOP presidential candidates $55 million in free advertising



Being on the Fox News payroll has its advantages.


Not only did five potential Republican candidates get regular paychecks from the network last year, but they also got something even more valuable: airtime. . .

Read more at: RawStory

Will MSNBC Regret Dumping Olbermann?

Images from source, Business Insider (and who
picked the unflattering Maddow shot?)
My prediction: yes. I did watch with curiosity, what Lawrence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz would have to say about it. And Rachel will always have a place in my television viewing. But without the "tent pole" of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which my DVR was set for nightly, followed by Rachel (I'd start at about 5:30, and zip through the commercials), will I still watch from 5-7? Probably not.

In fact, I've decided to put step 3 of my New Year's resolutions into effect in the next week or so: going to the gym after work (step 1 was quitting smoking, step 2 dieting. . .both underway). I should be able to get to the gym before 5, get home a little after 6, and be able to catch Rachel on the DVR. Or not. We'll see.

O'Donnell may be able to build a following, having shown some tenacity recently. But his reputation as a moderate may temper that. Big Ed is not for all tastes either. Rachel remains what she's always been, but her show has a weaker lead-in, and a weaker lead-out as well. MSNBC could do well to hope for a gigantic news story, hopefully one that does not come directly out of their own studios.

[Excerpt]

How Long Until MSNBC Regrets Dumping Keith Olbermann?



Now that the news of Keith Olbermann's stunning departure from MSNBC has sunk in, and the speculation as to why the departure occurred -- Keith's relationship with MSNBC had been deteriorating for a long while (true), Keith made Comcast nervous (also, true) -- is dying down, one wonders how significant the damage MSNBC has inflicted on itself is. . .


Read more at: Business Insider

Lawrence O'Donnell's Last Word on Keith Olbermann's Departure

Having inherited Countdown with Keith Olbermann's time slot after eight years, Lawrence O'Donnell, host of (the now awkwardly named) The Last Word was obligated to say something. I'd be shocked if there weren't restrictions on exactly how much he could say, but what he said was pretty great. I liked The West Wing analogy.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So, Why Do I Keep Talking About Sarah Palin?

Image from Lynnrockets
This is a great question I come around to a lot. A lot of left wing bloggers (and likely pundits and hosts) probably do too. Sarah Palin is a political celebrity, a FOX "News" employee with a vague job description, a former elected official from a small town, and then small state. The latter job, she quit half-way through, with a vague explanation. She has no real policy ideas or depth of political knowledge, other than what she may have crammed into her head in the last two years. She's hyper-defensive, knee-jerkingly responding to any slight or negative story about her. She is certainly the oddest, strangest specimen of a potential presidential candidate ever, and that is really saying something.

So, why is Palin's every tweet and bleat handled as though it was said by a politician on par with a president or major congressional or party leader? What in the world has she done to deserve such attention? And why do people like me keep talking about her, when we don't think she merits such a focus? It's a difficult thing to articulate. "Vague" may again be a word to describe how I feel about the answer. I think Mrs. Palin is an intellect of almost no consequence. I think she has very little chance--barring just the perfect set of circumstances--of becoming president. But not talking about her isn't going to make her go away.

Palin is an almost unique "perfect storm" of the cult of personality. Almost any time she says anything, her popularity falls. At the same time, her core supporters love her even more. Ann Coulter used to have a little of that, but has long since lost it. But Ann Coulter was never given this kind of faux gravitas. And grasp as I may for an answer, I'm still not getting my hands around it. But the article excerpted below does. It's great, take a look.

[Excerpt]

Why we can't say goodbye to Sarah Palin




In a perfect world, we would not know her name. Her political ambitions would take her no further than the City Hall of her state's meth capital. Her hyperpartisanship would be limited to smearing the mayor for being insufficiently Christian and asking "rhetorical" questions of the local librarian about banning books she doesn't like. . .

Read more at: Daily Kos

Blast from the Past: Soap Operas, Sitcom Style!

As I said before, a huge chunk of this weekend was spent watching Soap--the 70s sitcom spoof of soap operas--on my free Netflix trial. I mean a lot. Anyway, when it came time for me to write my weekly Blast from the Past feature, I couldn't quite shake off the Soapy residue. So, I thought, how about some clips from soap opera spoofs? Then, I thought "how many were there?" Let's see. . .




1. Soap - The one that got me started, and you can read that post here.
2. Grand - This was a very funny show that didn't last very long, unfortunately. It starred Pamela Reed, Bonnie Hunt and Michael McKean.
3. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - My mom loved this one, but it was just a little over my head. . .or something.
4. Fresno - This one was a miniseries starring Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and Gregory Harrison, at the height of the Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Dallas phase.
5. The Powers That Be - Tragically short-lived, but hilarious. Starred Holland Taylor, John Forsythe, and David Hyde-Pierce.
6. As the Stomach Turns - All right, this one is a bit of a cheat. It was a recurring skit on The Carol Burnett Show, but is one of the classic soap opera spoofs.

That's it for this week. Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Album Challenge

Have you seen the album challenge? It's an internet thingy, sometimes on blogs, sometimes on Facebook, sometimes on Twitter, sometimes in email. Basically, it's a challenge to create an album cover for yourself, presuming you had your own band. It sounds silly, I know. But I'm a graphic artist, so I thought it might be fun. But given the fact that I am a graphic artist, I was also worried that my results might look like crap and embarrass me. So I held them for a couple of weeks. And then, one of my favorite (and sometimes NSFW, so be careful) blogger posted his results, so I thought I would too. First, I created one for me, then for the other half. Here they are.


My first try, for me

And if you want to do your own, here are the rules (wisely updated by Alex at VoenixRising.com, which as I said, may be NSFW).

THE RULES

1. Generate The Artist / Band Name by using the title of whatever page loads here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random

2. Generate Album Title (use last few words of last quote like 1 to 5 words… whetever…) here: http://quotationspage.com/random.php3

3. Generate the album photo/artwork here:http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/

(The rule originally was choose only the 3rd image on this page, but I changed the rules to be ANY image on that page.)

My try for The Other Half
(Didn't get the rule about shortening the quote)
 
Use Photoshop or similar image editing software to create a square proportioned graphic using the above method to generate the content. I also think people should be allowed to do manipulations to the photo, in so far that the original image is for the most part, recognizable.

The Best Keith Olbermann Comment Ever

Keith Olbermann--recently fired/retired from MSNBC--was a polarizing host. His fans loved him, his detractors hated him. But there was an area where he was 100% on the ball, completely right, absolutely without question. It had to do with Sarah Palin, and with his succinct assessment of her capabilities as a politician. . .

Steven Weber: The End of the Age of Olbermann and the Big Gloat

I've excerpted many of actor/writer Steven Weber's pieces over the years, and nearly every time have commented about how well his words express my feelings, as though he sifted through my brain, and applied better words. He did it again. (Bold face mine for emphasis)

[Excerpt]

The Big Gloat



. . .And, as always, it becomes abundantly clear that their drivel is merely the raving of a cornered and terrified animal on the verge of extinction, railing against all who would snuff out its lethal messages of racism, sexism, classism, corporatism. They accuse, they lie, they do everything they have been bred to do to survive. And in doing so, they drag down the system, they drag down humanity, forcing all to live by their antiquated rules and eye-rolling superstitions. The gun fetishes and the god fetishes amount to one big ignorance fetish, a sad commentary on the failure of the intellect to overcome instinct. . .
 
Read more at: Huffington Post

Netflix, the Cast of Soap and Old Age

This weekend, I cashed in an offer from the mail. Usually, I throw out junk mail, but I paused when I came across a free month of Netflix. After all, we just got a new wireless internet capable Blu-ray player for Christmas, and Netflix is one of the features it came ready with. Even if I forget to cancel, it's only $7.95 a month, which is pretty darned reasonable right there.

It's pretty nifty. You set up Netflix on your computer, load up movies on their web page, and poof! they appear in your Blue-ray player like magic! I'm sure in five or ten years, the process will be even slicker, and probably taken for granted. But for now, it's very cool. But right away, I discovered a built-in limitation. After just a few searches, I realized that much of Netflix's library is "DVD Only," which means you have to sign up for the $2-per-month extra service where they mail the DVD to you. $2 isn't much, but it's not nearly as convenient, and I can't imagine it is very cost effective. I predict that eventually, Netflix (or its successor) will be 100% online.

Anyway, the service is really pretty awesome, but has the potential to become just one more time waster. I got my feet wet watching episodes of the brilliant but cancelled Better Off Ted. And then somehow, I got trapped in an all-day marathon of the 70s sitcom, Soap. In two days, I think I'm up to episode 15. Of course, that's at 22 minutes a pop, so it's not all that bad. The show holds up remarkably well, retaining every bit of the humor it always had. It is of course not as risque as we remember (the Moral Majority would pass out from today's HBO and FX shows). And the 70s fashions and decor dates the show. Just think of it as That REAL 70s Show, and get past it. There's comedy gold here.

The show of course featured Billy Crystal as TVs first regular out gay character, though they weren't 100% accurate in dealing with it. Baby steps, right? It was still groundbreaking. The cast was absolutely stellar, particularly the older people in the cast (as opposed to the unevenly talented younger ones). Katherine Helmond as daffy Jessica Tate, Cathryn Damon as sensible Mary Campbell, Robert Mandan as philandering Chester Tate, Richard Mulligan as loopy Burt Campbell, and Robert Guillaume as sardonic butler Benson was a cast any show would envy. The other standouts for me were Ted Wass as sexy but dumb Danny and Jay Johnson as Chuck (and Bob the dummy) Campbell.

But the most stunning thing for me (besides the amount of time I spent watching it) was the age of the principal cast. This show originally aired when I was eleven years old. While I didn't completely get it then, I absolutely loved the show in its original run. And to me, Jessica, Mary, Benson, Burt and especially Chester weren't just older. They were old. Of course, my mother was 29 at the time, more in line with Jennifer Salt or Diana Canova (the Tate daughters). So the others were practically the age of my grandparents. 

Today, I am 44 years old, and The Other Half is 49. We both have birthdays within the next 5 months, so both of us will reach milestones of a sort. And both of us will bracket each Soap cast member in the photo above! Now, neither of us is anywhere near as youthful looking as we were when we met in 1998. But neither of us looks old enough to be any of those people! I'm going to be the same age as Chester Tate??? Sorry, Mr. Mandan. I know you're still out there, and got to have a career where you basically looked the same age for thirty years, so I'm really not knocking you. But wow. This life thing is really starting to speed up!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wonder Woman Coming Back to TV!

Image from source, IGN
One of the recurring subjects on this blog is the quandary: why is it so difficult for superhero movies and tv shows to get made?  There is in some cases over seventy years worth of source material to draw upon, yet projects languish for years in development hell. Marvel Comics has had an easier time of it of late, though they can't seem to get The Punisher right. But DC Comics, my publisher of choice growing up? Pretty dismal.

Other than Batman, the DC heroes have had a dismal record of getting to the screen. Superman made it a few years ago, but went through such a torturous (and expensive) path, the final result was deemed a failure, even though it was pretty good. Green Lantern is coming soon at least, but there are several of my favorites that have been teasingly, frustratingly promised, and yet they never get going. Shazam!, The Flash, Justice League of America, Firestorm, Metal Men, and Plastic Man are just a few that have been dangled, but gone nowhere. Wonder Woman, arguably the best known female superhero, and third-best known period (after Superman and Batman) may finally make it out of that heap.

Wonder Woman has of course already made it to television before, with probably the best casting ever pulled off in a comic book adaptation. Well, maybe it's a tie with Christopher Reeve. But Lynda Carter's WW will always be in people's minds when they picture the heroine. Casting will be the hardest part, beyond Hollywood's basic problem with getting these things to screen in the first place. WW has made its way through enough cancelled scripts, producers and directors to rival Superman Returns. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Joss Whedon was attached at one point (and that would have been so kick ass). So Wondy is headed for TV instead of the big screen. And they're changing her locale and her job. And it's just a pilot episode that might not get picked up. Wait, maybe I'm not so excited after all.

[Excerpt]

NBC Orders Wonder Woman Pilot



Looks like Wonder Woman may be back on TV soon after all. It's been a turbulent month for the DC heroine, as Warner Bros brought their new David E. Kelley scripted version of the character to the networks, only to see them all pass. Now though, Deadline reports NBC has made a surprise move and ordered Wonder Woman as a pilot. . .
 
Read more at: IGN

And just for kicks. . .

Overtime with Bill Maher, January 21, 2011

Rachel Maddow was a panelist. In the HBO show, she didn't have much to say about Keith Olbermann's departure, but the news was clearly very fresh, making me wonder how long even Olbermann knew. Anyway, the clip is good, and so was the episode of Real Time. Check it out if you have HBO.

Captain Obvious: The Liberal Media is a Myth

With the firing/retiring/whatevering of Keith Olbermann at MSNBC, there are fans who are feeling sad, and FOX fans who are dancing a Snoopy dance. He had the channel's highest rated show--in fact the highest rated news commentary show not on FOX "News." The most recently known ratings for these shows has Glenn Beck (frequently but wrongly called Olbermann's flip side) at 1.780 million viewers to Olbermann's 1.106 million. Hardly a chasm of difference there, yet "nobody watched" Olbermann's show or his channel, according to detractors.

There's a lot of talk from both sides about Comcast's role in this, if any. There are people worried (or hoping) that this will lead to similar departures by Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell. Most people couldn't name all of those people. But that right there is pretty much the list of the top liberals in the media.  On talk radio, where the percentage of conservative-to-liberal shows is in the high 90s in the conservatives favor, there are a few other names: Randi Rhodes, Tom Malloy, Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller.  None of them has the name recognition of a second or maybe even third tier conservative host.

Nobody watches Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Nobody's heard of Randi Rhodes. Air America Radio is dead, and almost nobody can tune in to liberal talk radio on their car radio, even if they want to. Newspaper sales are down. Newsweek practically went out of business. CNN gets anemic ratings, only rarely stepping up into MSNBC's "nobody" zone. FOX "News" is the king of cable "news"--and yes those quotes are required. Comcast's takeover of NBC (and thus MSNBC) puts ownership of media in the United States into even fewer hands. All of those owners are enormous corporate entities with conservative leanings.

So somebody tell me please. Where is this "lamestream media" Sarah Palin keeps whining about? Or the "drive-bys" that Rush Limbaugh sputters about? Let's just face it. The right-wing talkers who used to be the far right fringe are now squarely mainstream. The most moderate, most middle-of-the-road, objective reporter now looks like a leftist by comparison. And the actual left are now called "far left." So they can stop complaining about the liberal media. They can stop squinting their eyes and finger wagging about the mainstream media. The conservatives have it. They are the mainstream media. But they're still not news.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Keith's Final Countdown... Stupid European Monkey Style...

Just couldn't help myself...



Apologies to Dear Editor...

Keith Olbermann's Announcement of the Final Countdown

A few things are dribbling out, like the fact that The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell will take over the 8pm (5pm PST) slot, The Rachel Maddow Show stays where it is, and The Ed Show gets the 10pm slot. If you didn't get a chance to see Keith Olbermann's parting words, here they are.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Keith Olbermann Quits MSNBC

Wow, that was kind of out of the blue. Toward the end of a seemingly ordinary Friday show, the host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann announced that today was his final show. Giving no clue by his demeanor, Olbermann broke the news late in the hour between his last two segments, and concluded with his now standard reading from James Thurber. I'm a little stunned.

I've watched the program regularly since before Olbermann's political leanings were overt. I just liked the format, and the focus that he put on some stories that you didn't see elsewhere. All the way back when he had segments like "keeping tabs," a sarcastic lampooning of the tabloidy stories of the day. On one hand, this is going to disrupt my routine in a big way! On the other hand, it is going to free me up from a routine that had perhaps taken too deeply to root.

Where this leaves MSNBC, and why the heck it happened is anybody's guess. I'm thinking that this decision came fairly abruptly. Olbermann has recently discontinued his popular "Worst Persons in the World" segment, and had said that it may return in a changed form. . .which doesn't sound like a person who is preparing to leave. And MSNBC has only recently added The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, rounding out their full schedule for the first time.  The Rachel Maddow Show--which was basically spun off from Countdown, and championed by Olbermann--is now without a lead-in. Countdown was the linch pin, and the highest rated program on the channel.

So, however much the mucky-mucks at MSNBC might have personally disliked Olbermann, it would be a crappy business decision to fire him. I know that Comcast's all but assured purchase of NBC could be a factor, and surely will feature in a conspiracy theory or two. But I'm guessing this was Olbermann's decision, and I'm anxious to hear the full story. Provided we ever get it, of course. In the tv and radio business, these sorts of things can be shrouded in mystery, and several alternate "realities" later dribble out from all parties concerned. In any event, I'll miss the program, and I hope that Rachel Maddow gets to keep her job.

Is Rush Limbaugh's Chinese Rant Racist?

Wow. Whattaya do when a person you find reprehensible does something that doesn't seem all that bad, but other people seem to think is awful?  I mean, Rush Limbaugh is a xenophobic, homophobic, quasi-racist, semi-sentient pig. But you know what? When a dialect rings foreign to most of us, we hear gibberish. And when a dialect rings so foreign that it hits you like white noise, your reaction could be a wide-eyed bewilderment. But, if you're a media personality for like--what--25 years or more? Maybe you ought to know that this shouldn't be your reaction. . .

The Ballad of Sarah Palin by Lady Bunny

Is this funny? Yes. Is it silly? Yes. Is it stupid? Mmm, okay. Inappropriate? Yeah, maybe. But here it is anyway. . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Top 10 Conservative Idiots, January 20, 2011

It's Thursday instead of Monday, but I'll take an installment of Democratic Underground's "Top 10 Conservative Idiots" any time! Yeah, yeah, it's just a special edition, not the regular column, but I'll take it anyway. Enjoy! 

[Excerpt]

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 387

January 20, 2011
Hate Mailbag Special

Now don't get too excited -- the Top 10 Conservative Idiots is still on hiatus. But a brand new Hate Mailbag is long past due, so here we go!

The following are real emails sent to Democratic Underground over the past year, and they have not been edited in any way, although names and email addresses have been removed. . .

And they are doozies. Read them at: Democratic Underground

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Greenlee Gazette does not contend that all conservatives are idiots. Merely that many prominent conservatives are idiots, as this column regularly confirms. So, please, no offense is intended to those of my friends and family who are themselves conservative. In other words, present company excluded!

Glenn Beck: "You're Going to Have to Shoot Them in the Head"


Posted with no editorial comment from me. Make of it what you will.



Longer video with more context here: Toon the News

Maybe Health Care Repeal Threat IS Serious?

The many expressions of Mitch McConnell
from IndieDesign
The last post I filed here on the blog made fun of John Boner Boehner.  And who can blame me? But the reason this time was the futility of the House's repeal of health care reform (known derisively or not as Obamacare). But after reading the post excerpted below, I'm wondering if I was premature.  Actually, before I read that post, I saw Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Terrarium in Kentucky) with a shit-eating grin on his lipless mouth, declaring that there would be a vote in the Senate.  My grandmother (the mean one, not the nice one) had that same expression when she thought she'd gotten one over on us kids.

If John Aravosis' analysis is correct--and it often is--this may be a torturous, nasty ride after all. As though we didn't get enough of that for the last couple of years. Ugh. Will Republicans actually threaten to shut down government when unemployment is so high? When the economy is so fragile? When we're in two wars? Oh come on, what do you think? Being a nation at war is only usable as a political argument when Republicans are in power. When they're not, politics trumps everything. Even "our troops" and the world economy.

[Excerpt]

Increasing concerns GOP will shut down entire fed govt to stop health care reform



The President better have some big cojones, because that's exactly what the Republicans will do. They'll take hostages. And as we know, the President's track record on negotiating with hostage-takers is not good. First Sam Stein at HuffPost, then I'll explain what Sam is talking about. . .
 
Read more at: AmericaBlog
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