Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guess What, What, What?

Aren't you getting sick of me bitching about NPR? Well, I am!

As for myself, the perniciousness of NPR has once again fried my (critical) tolerance of that outfit.

Again I have to jettison its wearisome infiltration of my relative well-being.

The Neocon (to use a generic term) agenda continues unabated at NPR, but it is particularly the increasing vapidness, banality, and downright insulting hodge-podge of sick-making ingredients that's causing me to eject their noise this time. What with the little 2-3 second sound bytes of, say, a snowblower in action (stock library sounds, or actual on-the-scene recordings in snow-struck NYC??), or some frikkin' 'report' about a part of the brain that makes it possible to talk with Awful Uncle Ed at Xmas, I've once again HAD IT with Nauseating Public Reaction. (The 'Awful Uncle Ed' epithet is an actual term employed by a particular second-string NPR smartass. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. And the problem remains: what if you love your old Uncle Ed? People with beloved Uncle Eds should bombast NPR with mockery.)

NPR tries to be breezy, blithe and savvy, with a touch of the swagger, so as to appeal to the hipster quality that less discerning listeners respond to as they might the latest Mall trend.

And then there's the quality of the 'ho-ho' in the ho-ho news. I'm not the only one who thinks it's abysmal.

NPR's just trying to be funny, ya know. What are they trying to be FUNNY for? Audiences love comedy, but why the hell would you ever go to NPR's news people for comedy? Oh, I know, it softens all the otherwise depressing news. But for anyone who's depressed by the news, try to DO something about it, even in your own tiny way, or don't complain. One of the best tiny ways is shutting off NPR. With the Net, there are many, many other more reliable sources to get one's (depressing) news than depressingly-bad NPR.

(The most obscure Groucho Marx joke is infinitely more hilarious and memorable than ANY attempt our NPR lifers have made to make me crack a smile.)

Anyway, this is all nothing new of course. But the new, dumber-ed down NPR is not-so-mute evidence that Viv & Co. are wasting no time in new audience capturement, so they're radically ramping up the 'ho-ho news' as they used to call it in the post-Spiro Agnew Speech era.

This is of course a blatant misuse of the public trust, as any amount of vapid, shallow and silly radio can be found elsewhere just by twisting the dial. In fact, commercial radio, which found its place long ago, is basically less sickening than NPR, because at least it’s not subverting our expectations.

NPR's continued decline into audience pandering is blatant evidence enough of NPR's commercial/corporate mandate: increase ratings for corporate sponsorship, otherwise, what corporation in their right mind would want to waste the money? I suppose there are enough austerely Neocon organizations who would continue to hone NPR's propaganda potential, but if listeners decline, you can't propagandize them as widely.

Anyway, I'll continue to peruse here, but NPRadiation Exposure is restricted to the occasional newsreading - at my peril.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's A Brilliant Season

(Image courtesy of Mytwords @ NPR Check)

On DN!, Chris Hedges unreservedly declared Obama 'a disaster'. Wow.

It's still difficult for me to accept our fate, our Great American Curse: Ye Shall Be Ruled By The Skilled In Corruption.

Merry Christmas all, IN JAIL!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Winter. Cold Duck Time - I Mean, Cold War Time

Yes indeed, eNdtimes Public Radiation seems to be getting more whacked out than ever lately. Even Frank Browning (in Paris) sounds like he's been commanded to drink NPR's Happy Kool-Aid, so as to get more 'expression' into his delivery, so as to keep the young people from texting distractions. I really think they're getting that desperate.

Some of the druggy reactions don't seem to be going that well, though. Auntie Liane sounds depressed, Beardsley sounds like it's a real hassle just to say 'in Paaaris', and Jack Speer recites his last name as if it's the most boring thing on earth (he may have a point).

I know, these are tinkertoy details, but to my mind, very telling as far as what's going on behind the scenes. I would imagine that there's a certain terror about losing corporate funding, and the looming doom from Juangate that awaits in the next Congress.


Q: When you have a hole in a regular old axis of evil, how do you fill it? (One word answer, please.)

A: Belarus!

OK, I'll try to keep it brief, but it's been pretty hilarious (pathetic, is more like it) to hear NPR's limp attempts to paint Belarus as a citadel of neo-Soviet satanism. Never mind that the US is in tight with Uzbek and Turkmen 'leaders', there's a Stalin wannabe in Minsk, and he's bound to go viral before too long.

David Greene, perhaps the greatest master of smug-smile talking at NPR, wasn't smiling so much during his 'coverage' of the election there though. Seems somebody on his crew had a Prince Charles moment amongst some protesters, and I'll bet that really pissed him off.

Anyway, Greene's been doing yeoman work in the former USSR, what with the hubbub in Kyrgyzstan, which he just happened to turn up in time for, and who knows what else. He probably can't get access to Putin, so he's working on 'containment' from the fringes. Sort of takes me back to the good old Brezhnev days.

Auntie Liane, her quirky voice sounding more world-weary than ever, tried to rev up a little Cold War zing, but Greene didn't have much to give, though Linda Wiesenheimer got a bit of action out of him today.

Here's a possible future scoop from NPR: David Greene discovers that all the dictators/tyrants of the world (you know, Chavez, the Kims of N. Korea, Morales, Castro, and that guy in Minsk) all share Facebook pages. That'll knock that smartypants Assange guy out of the headlines all right.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NPR Thoughts That You Don't Even Have To Have Heard On NPR To Know What I'm Talking About

In a recent report, some NPR reporter explained how you can add phosphates to your dishwasher in case they've been banned by the state in which you reside.

Unbelievable. Typically unbelievable. More proof that NPR will stop at nothing to establish itself as Definitive Explainer for the alleged Thinking Masses.

Ever since it was determined that there was money in that there Journalism (remember all the Ron Baillie schools?), becoming an American Storyteller was doomed to corporate capturement. It's obvious that nearly every NPR-oid is an ambitious egotist, whether in the faux-intellectual showoff department or the blatant moneygrubbing department (lots of overlap there).

And speaking of Alicia's Shepherding of we the listeners, did anyone happen to catch her on On Point a few weeks ago? It was at the height of Juangate (remember that?), and it was the first time I'd actually heard her voice. She was just another snot-nosed narcissist that fit perfectly into the haughty halls of Beltway broadcasting. More than 'nuff said on that miserable subject.

Just a thought on NPR's witty commentary and supremacist humor (I get kind of tired of using quotation marks for what is already over-obvious). That is, whenever Inskreep & Co. crack a little levity before daintily diving into Ivory Coast or choleric Haiti, the implication is that the humor usually describes some stupid act by stupid people, and that everybody stupid is OUT THERE someplace. You know, that such stupidity could never apply to the lofty hosts & literate readers of NPR. And you the listener can join in and parrot these stories of stupidity to your co-workers, so as to prove that you yourself aren't stupid at all, and you never will be because you're smart and listen to smart people. And then you can crown your moment by saying, 'I HEARD IT ON NPR'. 'Nuff said again.

Of course, this is part of the success story of NPR creating its own elitist flock. Like the GOP: you're welcome to support us, but you will never really become one of us.

Egads! I'm guilty of 'doing an NPR': WORDINESS!!! AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!! Help me!!! Somebody help meeeeee!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

National Public Responsibility: To Be Perfect So As To Be Trustworthy

Despite all mine criticism, doesn't NPR seem like it would be just the gee-whiz-iest FUNNEST place to work in the universe??

Why, everyone's so polite, civil and merry with one another, I'll bet they don't have a single soap opera amongst themselves to gossip about, especially now that Adenoid Andie C-brook's married up.

They're all so damn supportive of one another! How possible is that? Perhaps it's all due to the free allowances of Ambien, Xanex, Angadrene, certain selected anti-psychotic medications, and other prescription nightmares, generously (and quietly) supplied by Big Pharma. That’s gotta be it.

Steve, Happy 'Kreep that he is, just plain gets along with EVERYBODY. Donny Gonny, the 8th Dwarf, seems to be having a ball, what with all the 'witty commentary' and taking the opportunity to grandstand his illustrious service to the nation as Certified Dubya Sycophant, and all.

Because, when you're part of the In Crowd of Smugly-Smile-When-You're-Talking-At-The-Great-Unwashed NPR All Stars, you have ARRIVED, baby!

Hell, I'd rather witness Sen. Mitch McConman hawking up his collective viscosity than having to suffer one minute of NPR cuteness as one of the gang.

Mitch, who of course should be ditched, always reminds me of some fussbudget nobody who's playing an elderly maiden aunt in drag in a high school play. Prim, priggish, and pole-up-the-ass. And sitting in the audience, I have plenty of rotten tomatoes at hand.

PS: In order to con us and keep conning us, NPR must come off as strong, united, resolute, and most importantly, NON-DYSFUNCTIONAL. And don't forget DOWNRIGHT HAPPY as a requirement.

Only then can the powers of propaganda, persuasion, and snake oil dispensation be properly applied, and in perpetuity.

Rove-ism in action. The Neocons knew the Bush Administration might not last. But a propagandistic news organization - now THERE's a plan!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Neocon Wetdream Named Julian

Tom Gjelten just LOVES Julian Assange. To him, Assange is heaven-sent. There, in the form of one person, is proof positive that a New, Colder War ™ is not only necessary, it’s already started, and Gjelten has been there from the start, warning us and warning us again, his patience wearing thin. And now, there’s triumph in his warning us yet again – this time with conclusive proof. He’s going into turbo Bruce Willis mode now. And today, he doesn’t even sound all that constipated either. Julian’s given him a whole new lease on life. Cyberwar is what he pants for, and now that he’s got it, he’s going to be there more than ever for us, leading the charge. Like Wolfowitz, Gjelten’s a True Believer, just what the shadowy Neocons want for their publicity campaign.

Conversely, Philip Reeves’ report on Assange’s current legal situation was well measured and indeed, cautious. But that’s typical of Reeves, who has never fallen for NPR’s ‘Creative Writing’ BS. Strategically, NPR editors placed Reeves’ story BEFORE Gjelten’s so that the awesome horror of looming cyberwar, in which the evil menace of Assangism will be utterly annihilated, can be dangled before the good honest folks that tuned into NPR this morning.

NPR seems to be ‘trying out’ Reeves on the London beat, perhaps because they can keep a closer eye on him. He and Quist-Arcton are about the only international ones I trust at NPR. Times are tough. Reporters need gigs. I don’t look down my nose at them for that.

I mean, when you’ve got Juan Forerro, who always sounds like he’s been sampling the choicest Columbian, or maybe even the best crystal meth from the back alleys of Sao Paulo, or the Condescension Story Time from Gwen Thompkins, or the anger-management mutterings of Michael Sullivan (wow, haven’t heard from the last two for some time; still on NPR payroll?), what’s the point of trusting America’s Storytellers to deliver the goods?
Speaking of bizarro spew from our American Storytellers, wonder-boy Guy Raz took time out from his cooking class on ATC yesterday to ask a guest about a particular vet who had his legs blown off in Afghanistan. Seems the vet is kind of mad at the Fred Phelps church psychos who plague the funerals of slain soldiers. (Kind of understandable, huh?)

So Raz gets to the point in the interview when he gingerly asks if the vet MIGHT BE SUFFERING FROM PTSD or something. Not even an inkling of insight that maybe it's the Fred Phelps zombies who are the ones who are utterly and horribly insane.

It was a brilliant thematic link to Auntie Liane's 'gotcha' psychoanalysis of Julian Assange. You see, it’s really these lone Oswaldian weirdos that we must fear. And you WILL fear them, because that’s what the media commands you to feel. Because they’re entirely reasonable and objective about their duty to warn you of the imminent threats we face. (Never mind their falling down in light of all the pre-9/11 warnings that were so freely available…)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

NPR's Inevitable Progression Towards Irrelevant Entropy

One of the reasons I carp about NPR on this blog is because of what NPR SHOULD be: a truly open forum to examine current events and their effects with as much care as possible, and with the best minds available.

But because it isn't anything close to that, it's important to be aware of what 'thinking' people are being led into.

More and more I resent NPR News for their assertive role in dominating the notion of what listeners think is the only 'sane' option out there. That is, by coming across as the ONLY alternative to so-called commercial news organizations. They have the luxury of utilizing an already-existing network of stations that they have co-opted (why not say hijacked?) for their own purposes. In my book, that's a case of gross misuse of public opportunity under the guise of a Murrow-like integrity.

(No, that's not parroting Gingrich or Palin or O'Reilly-speak. Their NPR critiques were nothing more than bozo blather of the moment, a limp display of ersatz rage that was about as effective as Jesse Helms' tantrum about public broadcasting. We've seen just how sincere Tea Bagger whining turns out to be...)

Meanwhile, the true alternatives, like Democracy Now!, GritTV, LinkTV, the News Dissector, and other excellent sources are on the upswing. They haven't achieved NPR's accessibility yet, but if they can sustain their independence (with further success, they risk hostile corporate coercion), they will increasingly make NPR News irrelevant.

That's not only my hope, it's my expectation.


Boy, it's becoming increasingly apparent that NPR's really going for the laughs these days. It could be in order to foster a bit of seasonal cheer, but I detect that it's part of Viv Schill's circling of the wagons.

This morn Inskreep was about as chucklesome as he could get. Oh, he was careful to sidestep any Assange humor, but at just about every break, he was there with what Blob Siegel calls 'witty commentary' for us to brighten our existential day with.

After NPR's notre dame de Paris, Eleanor (d'Aquitaine) Beardsley gave a little postcard sketch of Paris's bookstalls along the Seine (perfectly accurate, but fitting as filler for Fresh Air or whatever), Inskreep made a barrel of monkeys quip about 'books, a famous river, and dogmeat', and that NPR was the only place where you might hear such a combination.

Aye, the Schill-er Era is a desperate one, tis true.

You know, some listeners may find Mme. Eleanor's spoiled (ugly) duckling quacking to be sort of charming, but... but... I've said it before, and sorry to be tiresome, but it's so STUPID sounding! So utterly distracting!

I mean, they've got the very nondescript Frank Browning covering the Paris beat, but obviously someone in DC has the hots for cutesy deBeardsley. How can NPR afford to have all this overlap coverage? I know they're both contractors, but where's the moneysworth in such a rinkydink setup?

I'm not a Paris snob, but I do harbor lots of pleasant Parisian memories, and I can't stand how this Beardsley person portrays things Parisian or French via her show-offy teenage snot tones, as if French stuff is essentially really stupid or something. She's a Freedom Fries relic, a perfect example of Narcissist Personality Radio in action: SO distracting, SO worthless.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Priceless and Pithy 'Get Your War On'


Does Anyone Else Find Julie McCarthy's Pronunciation of 'Pakistan' Sort Of, Well, You Know, DISTRACTING???

This morning on Morning Edition, Renaay Mundane played a dainty game of softball with 20-star Field Marshal Richard Mills, our Viceroy of Particularly Troubled River Valleys in Afghanistan. Their helpful dialogue was one of the most preposterous field reports yet heaved onto the rubbish heap of Af-Pak propaganda yet. Giving Mills some benefit of the doubt, I can imagine that he exploded in laughter after hanging up on Renaay. 'Well, that's another bucket 'o BS I just dumped on NPR...' he might have said... 'They always buy it and sell it without us even trying.' Or whatever.

And it's as if every NPR-oid in the region is nervous. They've even brought heaviest of weights Corey Phlintoff to fabled Kabul to help out! His singular methods of expressive news-reading should be most helpful in keeping Talibanians and other assorted Insurgentioids at bay.

Our Miss Julie McCarthyism even seems to rush through her unique trademark pronunciation of the nation she's a guest in - say 'POKK-ee-STAWN' as fast as you can!

Sorry for the ongoing ditzy name-twisting. Now that I am a more 'serene' occasional monitor of NPR, such trivialities help get me through the torture sessions.

(Suggestion to Cheney & Associates: for a dandy NEW torture technique at Gitmo, just play a medley of the best sermons from the Simonizer to all the terrorists in residence. At top volume, especially during tears and guffaws. Repeat as needed. Satisfaction guaranteed!)

PS: That reporter who suffered through kidnapping at the hands of insurgents in Af-Pak is making the marketing rounds. He's on Diane Rehm today, but that's one torture that others will have to endure without me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Follow-up To Blob Siegel’s Prize-Getting

Didn’t Siegel get some prize or whatever, a while back? Or am I thinking of somebody else?

Yesterday he was ‘considering’ a new film that deals with the speech problems of King George VI, and Colin Firth, the lead actor in the picture, was there to explain. He did so quite well, despite the fact that Siegel was more interested in the king being some sort of out-of-date figure, or whatever.

Faced with yet another Brit accent on his hands (Firth, an excellent actor, full of integrity and depth), the always too-cool Siegel elects to come across as a street-smart American. He is more comfortable dumbing down the subject – not because of any (possible) mandate from Viv Schill-er, but because that’s what he’s capable of. That’s what he DOES. So much for coming off as an intellectual, so as to create trust and maintaining the ‘quiet elitism’ that is so vital to NPR’s reputation!

I’ve lived for some time in the UK and believe me, the media and pop culture there put upper-class-ism/elitism in its place MUCH more than in the US.

In his discourse, Firth was simply displaying the sort of standard intelligence that a grown-up in public life needs in order to be credible, while Siegel, with his limited pursed-lipped tools, is used to lording-it over his interviewees, whether it be thinly-disguised condescension when dealing with a ‘commoner’, or a ‘you don’t intimidate me one bit’ ego-confidence when dealing with some head of state.

The term ‘middlebrow' used to be widely employed to pigeonhole poseurs like Siegel, where mere iron-assed longevity can pass as implied quality and trustworthiness. Well, I’d say he and his kind (i.e. Gjelten and other ‘heavyweights’ at NPR News), are, shall we say, ‘lower middlebrow’. And there’s the all-important shill-factor. As Voltaire and company proved that the Enlightenment needed publicists, so Siegel & Corp. are vital to publicizing whatever it is that NPR ‘stands’ for... (Fill in the blank, mostly under ‘Propaganda’.)

If H.L. Mencken were around, he’d hound such phenomena as ‘Siegelism’ for the disgraceful thing that it is, until they fired Siegel’s inflated ass – and not because of any bozo issues like those involved in Juangate, either. Mencken hung out at the foundation of things, not at some fashionable sushi bar.

When delivering his prize-win speech, I would guess that, like Paul Wolfowitz, Siegel probably punched it up with genial anecdotes and crackerbarrel wisdom, so as to display his ‘real’ talents as a multi-purpose media guy of the people (besides being a ‘really neat guy’, and all that), but also like Paul, any smugness passing as humor always betrays a gloat factor.

Radio being the instantly-disposable medium that it is, despite archiving on the net, Siegel’s type of ersatz intellectualism thankfully becomes disposable and quickly forgotten (I shall continue to TRY and forget, anyway…). Thus, he fits in perfectly with NPR’s increasing flakiness and irrelevance.

(I noticed that just this morning, NPR got up the courage to finally tell America about Bradley Manning and the ‘Lady Gaga CD’…)

I keep coming back to Mike Wallace’s famous putdown of NPR, in which he had no intention of getting lost in the wilderness of National Public Radio. (Also a veiled putdown of former colleague Dan Schorr, I should think. Dan who…?) In spite of NPR News’ new standing (for nothing), the wilderness is more intact and denser than ever.

PS: I heard that, when sending cash to WBUR Boston, you can specify that no funds will go to ‘NPR’. I assume that means NPR News (?). Thanks Sarah the P, Newt ‘n Bill-O!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Just In: There's Quite A Bit of Bullshit To Be Found In Political Advertising. Source: NPR

Part One: Helpful Insights

Well, I’m relieved to know that NPR has just discovered the extent of the BS factor in political advertising. If Overby & Seabrook hadn’t pointed this out in their recent ‘series’, in which they exposed all the legal hankypanky going on in the poli-advertising industry, I would have continued to believe everything I heard and saw in paid political advertising.

I think DN! knew that Crossroads GPS & Co. were Karl Rove creations about an hour after they were indeed created. NPR follows up at a ‘dignified’ distance, when the coast is clear, of course, and when the facts are so glaringly obvious. Even the MSM, guided by Murdoch-ian boilerplate of declaring facts at the last possible moment (e.g. when they are irrefutable) is usually way ahead of NPR’s slug-slime-slow outreach. NPR’s excuse is probably that they’re doing a story more ‘carefully’ or something, no doubt with an ‘intellectual’ approach.

Plus, since turbo-wonk Peter Overby and Gen-X-Appeal 'Adenoid' Andie Seabrook are on the case (with smarts to rival that oh-so-clever Adumb Davidson and crew), we can take anything they say as gospel. It’s all so clear to me now. What a brilliant decision to partner Overby (bald & slinky, possibly gay, and with a lisp that assures his validity, because if they put someone with lousy delivery on the air, they MUST be good), and Seabrook (with built in tools such as a Monsterfat Cowbelly body and a voice of a smarty-pants 'Star Wars' fan, designed to simultaneously soothe and intimidate interviewees, thus 'fleshing out' a dandy story) on this pregnant and timely subject, surely bound for a crypt in the Peabody Awards columbarium.

Part Two: Unquestioned Majesty

And yes, one more comment on He Whom I Cannot Think Of Without Fuming: Tom Gjelten. Like Cheney, Gjelten gets – nay, COMMANDS the entitlement to be the lord of gravitas at NPR. That is, any pronouncement he makes must and shall be taken as an ultimate. We can’t get any higher than Gjelten, can we? I doubt Gjelten knows who Eric Sevareid was, but even if he does, and even if he tries to emulate him, he ain’t no Sevareid. While Eric could have a twinkle in his eye when the BS meter red-lined, Gjelten’s stony voice soldiers on in the service of propaganda, his opportunism taken over by his own self-delusion. Head puffed up by Pentagon fawning and favoring, his pontifications indicate a combo of egotism and monomania, which he is by right entitled to inflict on the public. He may even be more worthless than that other mighty Tom: the Friedman variety.

I find it interesting that Juan Williams was fired over voicing his opinions (on another network), but Gjelten, doing the same thing regarding Wikileaks, and on NPR itself, wasn’t. How now, Viv Schiller? Well, that’s an easy one: Juan’s a mere cabin boy on the good ship Fox, while Gjelten, Lord of Gravitas, shall not be questioned.

Part Three: Postscript

Regarding that other, hipper Juan at NPR, Forero, I think NPR retains him not only because he speaks their kind of propaganda lingo, but because they think he's good at sexing up a given story. No doubt the white breads at NPR think his schmaltzy delivery brings a bit of 'Latin rhythm' to their pathetic lineup. Much better than Julie McCarthy's blue-blooded drawl used to.

AS for the late Nestor Kirchner of the Argentine, may he RIP. Murdoch-ian media can never forgive him for telling Oliver Stone about Dubya's 'war is good for an economy' statement, told to him by Dubya himself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now That The Really Not Very Interesting Case of Juan Williams Has Wigged Everyone Who Matters Out...

Bill-o finally got to steal a ratings boost away from his rival Frankenmonster, the Beck-oid. The rest is nothing but the MSM Silly Circus in action.

Nonfiction entertainment ratings will continue to tank. Tweeters 'n Texters and other Future Demographic Participants don't give a rat's sphincter about yawns like Juan (who?).

I thought Alec Baldwin's mission to destroy NPR, supposedly a bit of satire for Pledge Week, says much more about eNdingPR than any other professional reactor voice.

In the meantime, choleric discharge is clogging the sewers in Haiti, and I imagine they've lost count of how many empty coffin funerals there are in Af-Pak, due to bodily atomization from the droning that goes on and on...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Ever-Surprising Evolution of N.othin' P.ublic R.elations

Pentagon-Approved Soriyasahaddinelson gave an 'Entertainment Tonight' style chitchat coverage of Ahmadinejad's visit to Beirut this morn. Always suave Linda Wertenheimermuller asked her, with just the right touch of annoyance in her voice, 'What's he 'doing' there?' The report was a classic hangover from the old Cold War days, when it was Khrushchev who was the all-purpose bad boy.

Condi Roundup: in today's Publish or Perish mania, big news: CONDI HAS A BOOK COMING OUT. Like MeeShill, who beat her to it, Condi's cashing in on the Birmingham ferment, revealing that she did indeed have a bad-ass dad of her own. Problem is, at least MeeShill has a faux-sexy voice, while Condi is nothing but shallow dreariness. She still uses the very same condi-scension she used in a 60 Minutes interview years ago when she referred to the 'little girls' who were blown up in the church bombing, a detachment that served her well in being in on pulling off two indescribably horrible wars. Betcha though, that Condi's bad-ass book outperforms pipsqueak MeeShill's.

A blatant sign that NPR is severely anxious about declining ratings: the local stations are being FLOODED with promos from even the more obscure NPR superstars. Even superstar Jean Cochrane is stepping up (Jean who?) by doing the tedious work of customized promos. We salute her!

Also a bad sign for NPR. The other day NPR tied into an 'enemy' resource: an AL JAZEERA reporter!! Horrors! Weren't they working for Bin Laden and in on 9/11, or what? When Murdoch seizes control of a dying NPR, such practices will STOP, ya hear?

In spite of all this worthless rubbish, Philip Reeves gave what I thought was a wonderful profile of Billingsgate fish market in London. It's not hard to distinguish the rare gems in the NPR gutter. I think NPR maintains Reeves as an 'exotic'. You know, a sort of old fashioned guy like Andy Rooney who appeals to the geezers, So the management can say that yes, indeed, we are diverse, and we allow Reeves to do his thing unimpeded. Or whatever. Talk about condi-scension.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

There’s Something About Sarah: Her Voice, Her Name

Fig. 1: They've both got 'presence' . . .

Sarah the P. may not be related to Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, but the very cartoonyish-goonyish-loonyish quality of her VOICE and her ENUNCIATION make her a terrific candidate for a 4th-string comedy pageant, like a back-row support voice on the Tennessee Tuxedo Show, for crying out loud. The proof is in the pudding in any of the Al Jazeera clips covering Glenn Beck’s holy hallucination tent show on the Mall recently. Incidentally, Glenn looked fabulous in the new specs, and that sleek belly suit to keep his gut from scattering was hot. Bill Kristol should be so lucky!

I always thought that after his ‘guilty’-plea of resignation, Dick Nixon should’ve headed straight to Vegas to get going on his true destiny: stand-up comedian on the Strip. Surely Rip Taylor and Shecky Greene were just waiting for him to show up, so as to advise. Rip’s proven gimmicks of glamé robes and handbells should have at least been tried by the ex-Pres, and Shecky certainly could’ve road-tested some goy schtick on the Quaker mama’s boy to rustle up some laughs from the blue-haired ladies. But dammit, he didn’t show, preferring to grandstand for Frostie so as to provide future acting ‘meat’ for Frank Langella instead of Anthony Hopkins. But there’s always ‘Milhous: A White Comedy’ to sigh over.

And soon-to-be-ex-Senator and GOP turncoat Arlen Specter? You know, he’s pretty damn good in front of a brick wall with the hand-held and the spotlight. In fact he’s downright hilarious in his dry ‘n dried-up shaky-old-geezer routine. Much better than Bob Dole’s Viagra act. By a longshot, baby. So Arlen? When it’s time to hang up the Beltway borscht routine, head on out to probable-soon-to-be-ex-Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Mormon-founded valley. Hang out with Jerry’s Kids this Labor Day weekend. Lasso some gags. Next thing you know, you’ll be opening at the Copacaboo Room. Vegas audiences, burnt out on the over-produced turbo-shows that have ruled the Strip ever since Roy’s neck got torn open (or was it Siegfried?), will flock to your Great Tradition gigs. Marty Allen LIVES!

And Tony Blair, now that he has an imaginatively titled ‘auto’-bio coming out (I’m sure he scrawled every word of it, just like Churchill actually did), can next join the panto circuit (the UK’s version of rubber chicken fun shows - most of which are expertly produced, BTW), to finally allow his plummy elocution to swish over appalled audiences, which is what it was always meant to do. Sorry Tony, no Old Vic (or Young Vic) or West End for you. Nor even ‘No Sex Please, We’re British’ farces. Nope, thou shalt tour the seaside resorts as thy 20-year apprenticeship, before you can even think about Archie Rice status in, say, Redcar or Cleethorpes.

But Sarah, Sarah the P. . .

Wait a minute. Problem with the name. (An ‘Esther Blodgett’ moment, to be sure!) ‘Sarah’ is too lefty-sounding. Reminds me of Ava Gardner’s Sarah versus George C. Scott’s Abraham in ‘The Bible’; still lookin’ good, but left of center. Man, some kind of left of center, with the beads and the tents and gettin’ knocked up . . . And for chrissakes, ‘Palin’ sounds, well, pallid, dainty, British . . . (Sorry Michael, this has no bearing on you, I’m a true fan.)

Gotta come up with something else for the show. How about: just S.P.? You know, initials? S. and P. Should go over big with sympathetic Big Oil word-associators: S.P. . . . B.P., get it? But instead of British Petroleum, it’s Sarah’s Petroleum. Huh? Kids’ll love the wordplay.

But the show, the show’s the big deal. Let’s tack on something like Billo’s ‘factor’, but not so faggy-sounding. How about IMPACT? ‘THE S.P.-IMPACT!’ All in caps, all the time. Yeah! I’ll even throw in the exclamation point for free. And on the show, she doesn’t even have to have a proper name: it’ll just be ‘S.P.’ Cue announcer: “And now, the hostess of the ages, with ageless advise for all, the one and only S! P!” Killer. OK, we got that outa the way.

Prob is, when Sarah tries to be funny, she just isn’t. Remember her SNL gig with the REAL Sarah P., Tina F.? So, any premise for her in showbiz will have to be resolutely serious – as, admittedly, has already been the case – so that her comedy can shine. But Fox is going about it all wrong. Her management (get Mike Ovitz on the phone, NOW) should try the ‘indirect’ approach. Get some decent gag writers who know how to shift the blame from the performer to the audience. We gotta turn this thing around so the joke’s back on the audience, where it belongs, and not on Sarah – I mean S.P.

We all know her Miss Lenscrafter looks are soon headed for the Maybelline/Breck dumpster, so we gotta act fast. There’s still some decent damage control outlets to be found in Vegas, and they’d better be tapped, but pronto.

Tricky Dick may have missed his chance, but S.P.’s on the verge of skippin’ up the steps of the showbiz pantheon. Somebody, please, help her. Before someone better comes along. Because it’ll happen. Just you wait ‘n see.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Harry Shearer Presents: 'NPR - The Initials Stand For Nothing'

Check this out:


HORDES of comments are in full agreement, including a kick-off comment linking to the NPR Check blog! How refreshing.

New NPR lows:

- Blob Siegel's ad, in which he educates us on the fact that NPR's reporting 'costs money', is STILL being played relentlessly.

- Paul Brown and Craig Windham do first name-basis chit chat during the news updates. Crappy idea!

- A whole host of new, younger (and cheaper) names are getting into the NPR 'reporting' act. Who the hell ARE these people?

- Julie McCarthy did some innocuous humanitarian reporting on the Pakistani flooding, but she's said absolutely nothing about the man-made failures that contributed to the disaster, like Deforestation, (capital D) for one. As in Harry Shearer's expose, the media is insisting that the flooding is totally a 'natural disaster'. Oh, and she's still doing the most annoying pronunciation of 'Pakistan' to be found in the mainstream media: 'pawwk-ees-stawn'. If she’s after authenticity she’s after, I'm waiting for her to give the proper guttural pronunciation of the 'gh' in 'Afghanistan'.

- And as most everybody knows by now, Saturday's ageless superstar, the sermonizing Simonizer is bawling his way through all the NPRadiation belt, exploiting his 'beautiful' wife and his consumer-item kids, but with utmost 'propriety' and supreme mawkishness. At least Glenn Beck admits he's got a 'big fat mouth'. As for Scottie, he gets every green light to show off his inherent talents as an egomaniac.

- Juan Forero's taking a break from picking on Hugo Chavez and doing a few 'cultural' features, and with a voice that's a constant orgiastic climax wave, so schmaltzy and insipid that even a high school drama teacher would dismiss it as too hammy. But that's classic NPR: where sickening personalities get to inflict themselves on the audience in the name of being 'the nation's storyteller'.

- Finally, I have to admit that I'm 'sample-listening' to NPR these days, but it's UNDER CONTROL. There's one thing that I've noticed is really increasing at a frightening pace: practically EVERYONE on the air now is marketing a book. Yes a BOOK. More than ever. It's a total racket. Not only is NPR a corporate shill, they're now fully engaged with all conglomerate publishers to aggressively market books, because NPR listeners are, uh, book readers, ya know. This strategy is nothing new, but I swear the pitch of it is now feverish. Thing is, who's actually buying and reading all this crap?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Motioned Pictorials

I now invite, as FDR said at the '39 World's Fair in NYC, for 'all humanity' to comment on any and all cinematic-type films that mean anything at all to you and yours, in hopes of rattling the persistence-of-vision apertures, so that we who love cinema might comment on any life-changing experiences encountered thus far in the filmic mists. Now's your chance. Line up: single file, one at a time, please! Let’s talk picture shows!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Power Of The Leak

Fig. 1: No illustration necessary

Now there comes a time when heavy oils, salt water, and cyber non-molecules shall come together, and in the resulting admixture, certain unpleasant truths may be examined and accepted.

It hasn't even been 36 hours yet, but the WikiLeaking of the US reports on the 5001st Afghan War has been of the very highest significance.

Yeah, those in the loop are minimizing the impact, but those of us who were signally opposed to the war BEFORE IT EVEN BEGAN can take some sense of grim vindication in welcoming this all-too-obvious evidence of consistent failure in the Afghan venture. There's nothing like low-level evidence to indict high-level secrets.

It is indeed a wearisome enterprise, pounding out the tiresome fact that a long and high-priced war is an abject failure, but even the most arch of hawks (who might be less insane than others) know that sooner or later, the truth will out. Especially via cyber techniques. This stuff isn't hard to figure out at all. The trick is making the lie last as long as possible. And it is a credit to the warmakers for making it last as long as they have - even in this cyber age. That fact alone shows how they're keeping up, intending to outwit even the most skilled of hackers. Cheney was right: to beat 'em at their own game, ya gotta be more devious than even the worst of them are.

It is indeed a deep disappointment to have the Obama Administration embrace this blatantly Neocon war with so much dedication. It should never be forgotten though, that once planned and implemented by said Neocon interests, contingency factors were deeply integrated. Such as, should the opposing party (e.g. Obama) win, a fully activated war in Afghanistan would be virtually impossible to end on Inauguration Day. In short, ANY administration would automatically be pre-addicted to an Afghan war as surely as a high-potency dose of heroin jabbed into an 8th-grader's arm (to wit: instant addiction). That's part of the genius of the Neocons. So, Obama's stuck, and the Neocons knew it would happen this way. Talk about vindication! And the fact is, Obama is neither heroic enough or larger than life enough to make the epic gesture and enact a will to power that would end the conflict with dispatch. It would instantly be regarded as radical, but perspective would prove it to be the right thing to do. Such a gesture would of course be made late, very late, in the game, and its sentiment irresponsibly conservative, regardless of being monumental dawdling under corporate and Neocon intimidation, but there's nothing else for it now. Banal, but oh-so-true.

That's where leaked documents come in. Daniel Ellsberg, on DemocracyNow! sagely commented that this WikiLeak is of the same caliber as his Pentagon Papers leak. To which I might add: expect change, some sort of change, in the whole Afghan War's course of action. It is inevitable, but we should not expect revelatory decisions to be made in its immediate cessation, naturally. Nevertheless, something's got to give in this doomed war's immediate future.

So now we have a bunch of info that even the Masses will be able to grasp. But if they choose not to grasp it and to seize this better-late-than-never opportunity to shut down a failed mechanism, then they're more worthless than would have been thought. I'm talking about Congress too, who damn well better dip their bread of protest into this elephant-in-the-room gravy while it's still hot.

Gross abuse of power is one of the easiest things to pull off in this, our very own era. Preventing it is one of the hardest. It will be most interesting to see what real political effect this current leak (hopefully the first of many) will bring about.

PS: I salute WikiLeaks for their act of high conscience and high consequence, and may those who wield the power to make sanity possible agree.

Tony! Tony!

Plate 1: There he is again, really crying this time

Yes, the future Lord Hayward of Greaseshire will be fading into the safety of a complimentary flight on Emirates to join the stalwart expats on the shores of another, grander Gulf, where the infinitely more attractive titbits of Khayyamic breadfruits and winejugs shall replace putrid Cajanic hog-chitlins and batpiss-lager.

But touch your pleasures lightly, tip top Tone, for your legacy shall be a lasting one. Of course, you could do what that other tip topper with the same casual diminution of Anthony, Tony Blare did: turn your knees toward Rome and swear fealty to Pope Ratz, and he will exonerate you from this point on.

No longer satrap of BeaPee, your name will join Gen. Dyer's and others in the Hall of Dubious Fame, and, unlike the victims of the Gulf Disaster, at least you know what your destiny is to be.


At least the Mainstream Media seem to be treating Tony with deserved contempt, though they do so now when it's safe. He's a Bernie Madoff, to be sure, but let's hope that when his Russian Exile gets to be oppressive, he'll rat on all the slimekicks below his throne who were the actual players in BP's Titus-Andronicusian trail of carnage.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Developing A Taste For Sacrificial Lamb

Fig. 1: Oh no, he's gonna cry! Too many visits to the Gulf might cause distraughtness

(NOTICE: Funny, but JUST AS I WAS WRITING THE FOLLOWING, word has come over the Internets that Tone ISN'T SO TOP ANYMORE, but, for historical purposes, I am leaving the original text intact.)

How dreary it would be to be BP CEO Tony Hayward! And not necessarily because of the justified broasting he just received from some very responsibly-performing Congresspeople yesterday. What is obviously a boring personality, with a tedious faux-aristo accent (e.g. bland, no character, etc.), just a haughty, toffee-nosed prig, with pre-moulded hair, capillary-shattered cheeks, and rheumy eyes, yet with a standard ‘fit’ physique that enables him to buy Saville suits right off the rack . . . Well, he just happens to be the perfect whipping doll to prop up in front of such a hearing, so that he can make sedative-assisted replies to pissed off 2-year termers properly held in contempt by such superior persons as the newly distraught ‘n devastated Tip Top Tone Hayward.

(One wonders if they perchance called him Wayward Hayward at school. Oh, probably not. He’s a bore, I tell you. A BORE.)

Oh yes, but I’m sure he’d be a barrel of ‘tony’ laughs once he got a few Pimm’s cups in him, but thank heavens we don’t have to undergo any such vulgarity. It’s a bit of fun poking the barbs at him, but he’s essentially such a crashing bore that the dalliance wears thin in mere minutes rather than half-hours.

Will he become a Lord after he’s sacked? No doubt. With precedents like his predecessor, the scandalous Lord Browne, no doubt, indeed. Loyal readers of this blog know that I am a selective Anglophile, so I feel eminently qualified to proclaim Tony Hayward (even if he had nothing to do with BP and was merely a numbers chap at your neighbourhood Ladbrokes) as The Worst of British.

Of course, why would the puppet-ized ‘leader’ of any creep-corp be a likable, even fun person? BP might just as well have hired Creep Emeritus Paul Dundas Wolfowitz for the job. Nope, part of the New Strategies for corporate mask-wearing is to make the personalities as invisible as possible. It’s all part of Neoconning going underground: dump the attention-getting ego-based personalities and go with the covert stuff, which is where they flourished anyway, before the vanity trip that so effectively sidetracked them.

But to the issue of sacrificing a lamb. I’m not at all referring to Tony, who could be regarded as a sacrificial lamb by the shadows above him, and of course he is easily dismissable as a mere bit player in this whole tawdry drama. Dispensable, certainly. No, I’m talking about the Gulf of Mexico: the lamb sacrificed to enable the collective dumbo-ism in the US to clear, if only by small increments, in order to show the wages of fear and death now being realized by our erroneous ways. You all know what I’m talking about.

If Tony gets his comeuppance, fine. And ‘the others’, too. But remember who and what’s really paying the price here. And no one’s even talking about the effects the mess will/are having on Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Belize, and divers other Caribbean lands. Perhaps there are those who hope the whole slop will be channeled unto the shores of Cuba, so as to unseat the Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyite/Maoist/Mensheviks there. But I don't think that's what will happen.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Shears In The Throat REVISED

Fig. 1: He's safe in Dubai...

Fig. 2: Copycat

Fig. 3: Too Late The Emigrant

For some bizarre reason, today's silly 'semi-demi-victory' of BP's sloppy severance of the mucked-up exhaust pipe down there on the Gulf floor reminds me of a line in the classic Don Knotts comedy, 'The Ghost And Mr. Chicken' (1966), in which the Knotts character, underdog Luther Heggs, is giving a tour of a supposedly haunted house. Pausing before a portrait of the former lady of the manor, who was the victim in a gothic murder-suicide case, Heggs strikes metaphysical certitude in telling the terrified old ladies he's guiding that the lady died from 'SHEARS IN THE THROAT'.

To be clear, this is no indictment of Luther Heggs, who ultimately becomes an admirable hero, despite the fact that he has a menial job in a typesetting room and drives an Edsel. Indeed, 'Chicken' is a sophisticated satire of small town mores and mistrust aimed in wrong directions. Indeed, it carries an anti-corporate, anti-conventionality statement, in which success should be allowed to come from unexpected quarters and from alternative characters.

It is of course a bit of a stretch to align a Don Knotts film with the ongoing disaster in the Gulf, but I have to admit to a distant association of 'SHEARS IN THE THROAT' with BP's ongoing bozo-ness in dealing with their little problem. While Heggs' declaration was simple and conclusive (and, in that little drama, perfectly true), we are being strung along by this oil company, which is barely under control right now, despite the cool, over-produced web videos (none of which actually show the black discharge in any of their pristine animations!), and the blithe statements from CEO on down, all of them positively writhing with deception, as if we couldn't guess. Can we imagine the tension and plotting behind the scenes? I think I can. Right now BP's still riding on the reverence over those who died in the initial blowout, but there will be other victims in there somewhere, when those who were truly responsible will naturally assign guilt to others, hopefully who are conveniently dead.

For media coverage, all I need is Democracy Now! (Link always over there on the left.) I did catch a few snatches from worthless NPR, where the dainty/ditzy morning people, obviously 'weary' of this un-suave story, continue to almost chuckle their way through it, (this being radio, we can't see their smug smiles and feigned seriousness). And then there's disgusting old Blob Siegel on 'All Thinktanks Considered' (coined by b!p!f!b!), whose pursed-lip blabberings have riled this child for what, centuries now. The other day he sounded really disappointed when some scientist told him that the current Gulf disaster IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE MUCH WORSE than the shallow-water mega-leak near Mex-Tex back in '79, the factoid of which The Blob juicily revealed to us with a definite 'relax, the one today isn't so bad' tone, as if he were some petulant teen letting us view - and view only - a secret condom he was jealously guarding, in order to amaze us.

Anyway, I guess I'll have to drop any attempts to link a movie line with the too-awful oil-spill stuff now unfolding. Those mega-shears a mile beneath the waves did indeed make a cruddy cut of a supposedly key pipe, but the rinkydink parade of techno 'solutions' staged by the company ring hollower and hollower. Even if they achieve some sort of 'success', the trashing process is more than complete. Now the avenues lie open for 'investigations' and maybe even show trials.

The US government is of course complicit, but I can't get around the notion that it is Big Oil that tells the government what to do behind the scenes, and not the reverse. With such a permanent mafia-like apparatus in place, it doesn't really matter who the US president is. Whether they cooperate or not, presidents are replaceable - Big Oil interests aren't. George W. Bush was a mere messenger boy for Big Oil, who also happened to be preoccupied with his own vanity - the distraction of which was very convenient for corporate/neocon interests. Can anyone imagine Dubya, even as Pres, standing up to the Big Boys if a little friction developed between them? Of course not. Good little presidents do what they're told, and under a faux 'Democracy' snake-oil act. Indeed, Obama, whether he is a collaborator or not, is vulnerable to become a sacrificial chicken in this affair, a possibility which no doubt pleases many. He made a thoroughly unwise statement of bravado by declaring that HE was responsible for the mess, or at least its management. Yeah, right. I'm sure he's in on all the high-level BP privileges, and is getting his way all the time. And the reality of collaborators in the US Congress and other gov't agencies with Big Oil is so mundane, it need not be referred to again.

Like it or not, Ike's 1960 Military-Industrial Complex speech still resonates, more than ever. Who in power would make such a speech today? And remember, the term 'Congressional' was once publicly included with the 'Military-Industrial' label.

Also remember: as I yak, there's a coupla wars going on too, in two theatres NOT near you. Always good for biz. Disasters of all kinds are always welcome distractions from the misfortunes of war. And it's turning out that Israel's militants are doing their part in keeping the toxic cauldron properly swirling. (But oh the calumny - that is another . . . another story . . .)

As we all know, Big Oil is Big Power. Why would anyone even consider, especially in this desperate age, that Big Power would EVER want to downsize or acquiesce to any intruding influence, especially one of populist proportions?

Finally, a proverbial notion of hope, however obtuse. Back in 1984, most people who were alive at the time had some inkling of what happened in a chemical factory in Bhopal, India. In a catastrophic malfunction, deadly chemicals were dispersed from the factory, killing and injuring hundreds and hundreds (ultimately thousands) of people, mostly the poor and disadvantaged. A perfect entry in the Life Is Cheap Dept. Well, to be brief, Union Carbide, the American corporation responsible, was duly and justly (though not justly enough) eviscerated as a result. While it did not consummately 'go out of business', it was never the same again. Truly, a once mighty corporation was brought low, and for all the right reasons, as those reasons were blatant in the first degree.

A personal addendum: I have in fact passed by that sinister and tragic site in Bhopal twice. In brief discussions with locals, who were nothing but civil, there was nevertheless an accompanying tone of collective guilt which was applied to me, as a native of the land by which Union Carbide was allied. I could not argue with this, nor would I want to. Collective guilt is not a cliche or a convenient assignation. We as consumers of risky corporate products must all review how we want to proceed in living with what we elect to do.

The tragedy of these horrendous events becomes consummately Greek though, for the victims who gave (or give) their vitality or their lives within their effects. Whether ducklings in a coastal marsh, cleanup crews mislead, squatters in a slum near a factory, or life-giving plankton just going about their daily business, MANY SHALL DIE. And I almost forgot to mention the environment itself. Silly me.

BP and their associates stand warned.

PS: We have yet to hear much about Halliburton's involvement in the current oil-change party, but from his extradition-free pet-house in fabled Dubai, H-burton CEO and Cheney-slave Dave 'Davy' Lesar (whose proud portrait so effectively introduces our latest yak), represents what a real winner looks like. But I imagine his pockmarked cheeks are getting pretty darn tired of smiling due to his mockery of the BP biggies for not having had the sense to 'do-the-Dubai' before the cops arrive. Cuz they in a heap 'o trouble.

PPS: I guess it’s rather insipid to add Erik Prince’s ‘gone yellow’ portrait just below the mighty Lesarian face of the sun (both which now grace our yak), but as everybody now knows, Erik The Christian is most likely making a bid to head on over to the candy-ass Elysium of the faux-Muslim UAE (he may choose second-string Sharjah, or even a boot camp in the dunes, instead of now-out-of-fashion Dubai, with its faggy skyscrapers that appeal more to the Dainty Davy-types), so as to rat on out of that stovetop he finds himself on. Go ahead, my Prince, better git a goin’, the brackish water is rising.

PPPS: Tony! Tony! Our poor bland fellow seems to have missed the boat to that further Gulf, as his Styx-like craft is sure to go down in Tex-Mex waters. But he must be considered in a yak all his own, rather than a mere footnote (which is in actuality what he is) at the bottom of this yak’s Davy Jones lock-up.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

When Power Tools Jam

As anyone who's ever used a circular saw knows, when cutting a pipe, you risk binding the blade when the bit that hasn't been cut yet shifts in order to compensate for the bits that have been removed by said blade.

I saw BP's miracle-making diamond circular cutter in its stalled position, after the feeble attempt to cut the top pipe of the Horizon oil-cum-gas hemorrhage, supposedly to prep it for capping. We know that they knew it was going to fail, because experienced circular saw users know that you have to approach cutting such a pipe from more than one angle. Is this bozo carpentry, or what?

Whatever Dark Purpose this mega-blunder is part of, we can easily conclude that it is fully integrated with what Naomi Klein has correctly identified as The Shock Doctrine, and thus is uniform with the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as every other bonafide Neocon strategy now in play in the world.

After their public disgraces, the Neocon players have gone into the deep shade, so as to reorganize, become smarter, and less dependent on their egotistical publicists. Their acts are now played out on oceanic floors, behind cooperative media outlets, well away from the formerly-sexy limelight, fully utilizing the deceptions of 'Beyond Petroleum' and soft-sell words like 'sustainability' and the particularly effective posture of painting their facades ersatz green.

Let the pinwheels like Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Co. (remembah them, kids?) float in the Viagra-dependent prestige of think-tanks. In the meantime, a newer, smarter, leaner neo-Neocon management has assumed control of the edifice. And they mean to win this time - and stay won.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Bit of Wisdom From Jerry Lewis: An Open Letter to Catholics of All Nations

OK Catholics, it's time to talk about Joe Ratz. You know, Pope Fascist the Forty-Second.

How long, oh Lord, will you people tolerate the blatantly corrupt, fascist and self-interested corporate entity that is the Catholic Church Ltd.?

Here's a MUST-READ article that you will no doubt not like, but you have to appreciate the message therein:


It's about time you supposedly powerful Citizens of the Church stopped being such weenies and told the Vaticanos where to stuff it.

I forget which artist did it, but there's a great cartoon that shows a pope wearing a see-through robe, and underneath it is a devil's forked tail. That goes for most of those other doily-wearing, lace-draped hypocrites, too. I think it's safe to say that homoerotic horndogs are absolutely rife within the protective fabric of the Church. And there's plenty of straights gettin' some action, too. They are protected because they are at all levels, and they look after their own. Nobody can deny this. You know it's true. It's just unthinkable to admit it.

It's fire hose time. Target: any padre who has drool letting from their wrinkled lips when oogling a choirboy, deaf or non-deaf. Oh, and a whole bunch of others, too. The Vatican has files on them all. The evidence could be easily accessed.

This is not a homophobic issue. It's all about where supposedly chaste wangs are being exercised under the opportunistic world of an institution that can exploit people as much as it can help them.

If you want to save your church, you damn well better get women ordained while there's still time.

There are few things more disgusting than hearing Catholics (or other Westerners for that matter) say how misogynistic, say, Muslims are. That's just one example. They can't see the forest for the trees.

(For the record, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India have all had women prime ministers as well as women in countless key positions. Muhammad's daughter (and only offspring) is revered almost like the Virgin. We all know there is misogyny in most cultures, but the Catholics are at the bottom: you got Pope Joan - a mere legend.)

As Woody Allen once said, if Jesus knew of all the things that were done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.

And Jerry Lewis once got condemned for saying 'God goofed' when he was referring to the fact that muscular dystrophy occurred in this world. Well, if Joe Ratz is God's Vicar, we might be tempted to use the same utterance that such a thing could come to pass. Same goes for the whole Catholic edifice that is corrupt. I'm not referring to the goodnesses that are there, but they are rendered invisible by all this other crap that is so disturbing. And you Catholics are the ones who should be taking swift action about it, otherwise you are complicit.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Plain 'Jains' At CPAC

Somebody (and it really doesn't matter who) at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference convention said that 'all forms of life should be respected' or something like that. What a freakin' ripoff!

The Jains of India (some of whom I know personally, and many of them wear the proud name of 'Jain') have been saying that since P.B/ (Pre-Buddhist) times.

In contrast to the Jains, in both their sects (Digambara - 'sky-clad' - they wear no clothes; or Svetambara - clothes-wearing, but just as pious though less austere), I'd challenge anyone who speaks at CPAC to truly respect all forms of life in ways nearly so profound.

The Jains are among the most civilized persons on Earth. Many of them wear masks so as not to accidentally inhale an insect. Some gently sweep the path before them so as not to unintentionally step on anything living - ANYTHING - that might happen to be under their feet. They also run animal hospitals, support charities of all kinds, and are conspicuously successful in their lifetime endeavors. Most Jains are well off financially. Some are extremely rich. In Jainism, wealth is OK, as long as it is managed and shared judiciously.

I have my doubts about many of CPAC people, though. I doubt we can take it very seriously when they say 'respect for all forms of life' or some similar wording, just to grandstand the abortion issue (as if abortion were some kind of pastime or blood sport entertainment drooled over by Pro-Choicers!). Personally I feel that most CPAC-oriented people are extremely conditional about the forms of life they respect. I have serious doubts if many or any of them could approach an ancient concept such as Jainism and truly understand its tenets. Even if any of them could, they would surely reject what they discovered because of conditions that would instantly pop up.

Today talk is cheaper than ever. Freedom of speech is misused more than ever. Not everything that is spoken freely is worth taking seriously though, and in the face of that fact, critical thinking, the skills of personal analysis, and the discipline of editing-out certifiable rubbish are needed more than ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In A Better World, We EarthThings Get Our Comeuppance

When an Indic term is employed for the title of a major Hollywood motion picture, it is not a trite assumption that its projected audience will be a tad, if not adequately, educated. What is Avatar anyway, the name of some planet? Sounds like it could be. Tolkien relied on a dull epithet (Middle Earth) for the world he created, but fanciful names have more ‘pull’, don’t they? Well, in this case it’s not at all a planet’s name (more on that later) that makes the title. In this case, the Indic meaning of the word is indeed employed. So we sort of have to know what it means. Plus, when such a film ascends to first place - at least for a time - as far as box office receipts are concerned (mainly due to ticket prices of $10.00 and above; ‘Gone With The Wind’ remains far ahead in cumulative viewings and popularity), then, well, it is due a view and review so as to at least find out why.

Such a film is of course James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ (20th-Fox), and I saw it over a week ago.

Does anyone remember when Jim got the Best Director Oscar ™ back in ’97? He stood there at the lectern, brandishing his new Cedric Gibbons-designed statuette, and, through that ragged stubble, with a posture that showed he might be in his early 80s instead of half that age, he crowed, ‘KING ‘A THA WORRRLD!!!’, just like Jack, his lead character, as played by Leonardo diCaprio. Since he scripted that very Best Picture, I think he had a right to use his own line, but good God, it was a horrible, horrible thing to do, and it made him look wretched and icky. (People, beware of films that have blithe romantic leads named Jack. Sclerotic cloying readings will red-line as a result…) Needless to say, that little Academy act did not endear him to me or many others. By it, he was just showing that egomania is probably harmful to a director’s future projects, because they’ve probably peaked at such a moment. Otherwise, why would they be acting so godawful stupid? But it was not to be. In spite of having squawked to the world that his dick was as big as the Titanic, Jim has clearly moved on to more mature and thoughtful film creation, as ‘Avatar’ shows. Thanks for growing up at last, Jim. No, it is hardly a perfect film, but taken as a whole, it is deserving of worthwhile examination, albeit with a wisp of tongue-in-cheekiness, as this is a big action picture with more than a few cartoonish aspects. It is also a serious message picture, and I find that the seriousness is not strained. Instead, it is actually pretty soft-pedaled.

Another thing I like about Jim Cameron is that he provides an alternative to the predictable Spielberg/Lucas solar system of schlock. Now don’t get me wrong, Jim was well and truly caught in that very yoke-like gravitational pull with his floating junkyard, ‘Titanic’, the outrageous success of which I imagine generated more than a tad bit of jealousy from others used to being ‘kings of the world’. However, with ‘Avatar’, Jim’s a founding father of his own planetary neighborhood. (One of ‘Avatar’s cornball aspects is the moon/planet’s name – Pandora. Sticking with Greek-based planet names is a great tradition – even though most of ours are Romanized – but for storytelling’s sake, I assume the name was given by the cynical grubbers of the Earthen mining corporation that does the mineral pillaging, a name more apt than they could have known; Pandora’s Box was not a cool discovery. I imagine that to locals, the planet’s name should sound something like Cczxc’cqu, but that’s not very sexy to American audience’s ears; ‘Pandora’ is sexy. Mysterious and edgy, too!) But if a director is going to be stratospherically successful, and have a dozen franchises hanging around his neck along with his viewfinder, then at least he or she should be damned interesting – if only for a while. As a director, Jim is officially interesting, I’d say, and while those old Indy/Yoda dudes try to reinvent themselves in order to acquit themselves of any schlock that came before (sorry guys, it’s a little late), and while Scorsese continues to willfully bury himself under increasingly crappy films, Cameron’s at least coming up with some interesting stuff, and I hope he continues to do so. So-called ‘foreigners’, from Otto Preminger to Anatole Litvak to Mike Curtiz to David Lynch (yes, he’s the Man in the Planet, you know) have always had some great successes in Hollywood, and Jim, who probably speaks Canjin better than he can Pandorean, because he’s from Ontario, is the latest in an illustrious line. Peter Jackson’s been in there too, if only via studio relationships, though from what I’ve seen of clips from ‘Lovely Bones’ – clips that look like commercials for Mercedes or any number of beverage alcohol products (I’ll take a classic Magritte painting any old day!) - he seems set up for his first major failure as a director. No matter, both these guys have used New Zealand for locations in their big films. Certainly Jim studied Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ for jungle tips. Which reminds me, ‘Avatar’ has touches of both ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘King Kong’ in it, and not just via the scenery. But Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ was indeed a remake, and ‘LOTR’ had mandates from fans to fulfill. ‘Avatar’ seeks and succeeds to open a new door in story ideas, and that’s almost an impossibility in mainstream filmmaking today. Jim’s one lucky Canook.

It is a no-brainer to compliment the visual texture of ‘Avatar’. It is high-level computer art, used wisely and with superb dramatic purpose. It is also credible to the point of not interfering with the story. Out in Pandora’s marches, we accept the horrors that gradually give way to wonders, whatever their risks, so that we can get on with absorbing the story. For it is the story that takes and keeps pride of place here. What a refreshment from a picture like ‘Titanic’, where most everyone just wanted to see how the ship sank, and could give a rip about the very sub-plot-ish love story. So, the visual appointments achieved for ‘Avatar’ are, as everyone has said, unimpeachable and sublime.

Some spoilers ensue.

To just dive in…

There’s no doubt that some of the dialogue, fortunately confined to the humanoid side of things, is very silly. It is also grounded in the 2000s, and will not age well. But I realize that Jim had to compromise to his audience just a bit. Besides, it makes the noble savages all the more elevated and epic, because that’s what this picture finally agrees to let itself proclaim: that it is a full-blown epic, and that it's really okay to BE epic!

One question: why, in the latter part of the picture, is Neytiri (Nefertiri? 'The Ten Commandments’? What the – Sorry, too many epic digressions right now…), in the native Na’vi people lead role, suddenly wearing a chaste tank top-ish thing, when before that teen boys in the audience were slurpingly thanking Jim for presenting her ‘National Geographic’ style, with just a trace of discrete tribal hair providing modesty panels for her pertnesses? Is this post-mating wear, or battle armor? Curious!

The blue cat people have very, very slim torsos, perfect for modeling Pandoran fashions and to instill anorexic dreams in young teens. But teens take note: the blue ones are what, ten feet tall? Think how thick they are in comparison with your scrawny teen asses, okay? Keep all of this in proportion. (Blue body paint is bound to emerge somewhere along the line, and not only at fan conventions. Goggle-sized amber contacts, too.)

Susan ‘Sigourney’ Weaver has, I’ll admit, been in some decent pictures. She has even put in some decent performances. I’m one of hordes though, that find it hard to get past the inherent snotty face and demeanor that she can’t help but bring with her. But in ‘Avatar’, not to worry. It’s official: Sigourney is under control. Director Jim, who knows her panties well, tells her how to do it, and she obeys. Pretty soon, we forget who she really is and happily get submerged in the story. Who cares who the actors are or aren’t. Well, in her case anyway.

For us Earthlings still incapable of aesthetically ascending without question to the Na’vi peoples’ lifestyle, there is one yummy babe to marvel at: Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy the (Traitorous) chopper pilot. A built-in heroine, Trudy is as feisty as she is sexy, and she don’t take no shit. That’s why she does what she knows is the best thing in life she ever did: to go over to the other side. When I saw her suddenly wearing her blue-cat-people war makeup, it was so wonderful, so glorious, I almost started bawling. Of course though, the beauty could not last. She must be sacrificed, along with others. Ms Rodriguez effortlessly succeeds in a role that might have been a mere caricature. I wish Jim had given forth a bit more of her for us though. Can you insert a sub-plot with her in the six-hour Director’s Cut, oh Jim?

Giovanni Ribisi, as the cocky corporate asshole who commands the planetary conquest, steals every scene he’s in. A splendid performance, and though brief, quite three-dimensional. He ponders momentarily on the ethics of his actions, but unlike transcendent Trudy, he remains a corporate slave to the end, when he really IS a slave.

Stephen Lang is another bit of perfect casting. Whether in 600BC or far into the future, hardasses will always be hardass, and Lang’s capture of the type will go down into cinema lore. We do not hate him so much as we want to carve more Mau Mau trenches onto his skull until he gets his muhfuh-ing troops out of Afghanistan (yes, there’s a corollary there). His final rage-parade is almost as drawn out as Frodo and Gollum’s at scenic Mount Doom. Gung-ho, fat boy!

I can only yak about the Earthling actors with specificity but those who played blue catlike Na’vi peoples were all damn good in their rather challenging roles. If Jim sought inspiration from the Watusi tribe in crafting his race, well and good. He obviously took many elements from many sources and combined them, wisely pushing the limits of representation just far enough to be ground-breakingly different, yet keeping a leash on we overly grounded groundlings in the seats of the picture show. So, features of Zoe Saldana, CCH Pounder, and Laz Alonso clearly mold their appearance, but the CGI takes over from there.

I’d better wrap this up before it joins the ranks of wannabe dissertations now being offered for 400-level college courses in the growing field (and subject heading) of Jim Cameronology and Avatarology. But first, notes on the score.

There is another James involved at a high level in this production, another Jim. James (The Second) Horner, reprising his ‘Titanic’ collaboration with the director, composed the score. Like Cameron, Horner has come a long ways in providing a score to reckon with in a film to reckon with. It does all the right things, and it has many merits, but in these ears’ opinion, it doesn’t go far enough. While I give credit for Horner being fairly free of the once respectable but now agonizing John Williams Effect, and somewhat avoiding the soul-less sound walls of the Hans Zimmer Music Machine, his ‘Avatar’ score stops a number of steps short of being really great. I think what was needed was just a little bit of blatant Russian-style passion and some Mittel European-type zing in pushing, pushing, pushing the score past its conventional borders. Now that gets into Cameron territory, because Cameron doesn’t want his lovingly-created sound effects compromised. But listen, Jim (the First), when Jim (the Second) has gone to all the trouble to compose a vast symphonic foundation to your stunning visuals, don’t shortchange its power for yet another doomship’s explosion. If the producer side of Cameron happened to have, say, more early 20th century immigrant Jewish qualities, he might have let Horner’s inherent Alfred Newman or Miklos Rozsa potentials play themselves out at key moments, but I fully understand that this is the metallic 21st century, and such a thing would be too ‘over the top’, so alas, less emotion, more THX eruptions, I guess.

That said, there’s no doubt that Horner achieves some very fine and genuine heartfelt emotion and genuine epic effulgence in some sequences. Especially during the end title crawl, the score is unleashed, and it sounds damn hot. Another thing to credit Horner: his score was also possibly diminished by not only Cameron’s preferences but by certain sound engineers who are more attuned to car chase blow-outs than they are symphonic power. After all, Rozsa’s score for ‘Quo Vadis’ (1951) was virtually hijacked because of the incompetence of MGM’s sound engineers.

One more thing, James the Second - just a friendly suggestion. Not EVERY gigantic third act mass movement in cinema has to be scored with a baleful wordless Orff-like chorus in order to justify itself. I don’t care if that’s what the director wanted, next time, TALK HIM OUT OF IT, or walk.

And Jim (the First), why does the credit for the composer come way down the line, like, after the Assistant Associate Executive Producer, or whatever? What kind of respect is that??

In closing, another of ‘Avatar’s virtues. There’s virtually no cussing. I’m no prig, but the tacked-on shit-talk in pictures today can get awfully gratuitous after awhile. I’m only so glad that there was nowhere to be found in ‘Avatar’ anyone like that awful sewage-mouthed (and Cameron-like?) ‘scientist’ who finds the Titanic in the modern prologue in ‘Titanic’. You’ve come a long way up from the depths, Jim Cameron. Keep going.

‘Avatar’ takes its place as a truly impressive and original tour de force in cinema.

Q: Where's The One Place That You Can Always Hear A Pin Drop?

Fig.1 Google Images says this guy with the hearing aid - is David Brooks. I'm not kidding!

Fig.2 OK, let's try again. Google Images says THIS IS DAVID BROOKS. End of argument. (Both images courtesy of Google Images)

Q: Where's The One Place That You Can Always Hear A Pin Drop?
A: A bowling alley.

Oh, and in the House of Representatives last night, while Obama was winding up his State-'a-th'-Union speech. Once his politicalizations were out of the way, he got lecture-ish with his elected audience, and that was fine by me. Remember that bit? He was calling the bullshit of the games people play. The games of Congress, Wall Street, 'n the Media. In the reaction shots showing various Congress people, the whisperings and titterings ceased. Expressions froze. Yes, you could hear a pin drop in the pauses. What could some of their thoughts be? 'This uppity Negro can't lecture ME!' 'WHO'S playing games??' 'I made you; and I can destroy you!' 'Why that miserable -!', etc. I won't speculate too much. If I can think sadistic 4th grade thoughts about a French teacher who slammed a yardstick down on his desk to make a point of honest discipline, you can well imagine the quiet rage going on in the minds of these superior governing people. Whatever you think of Obama, he can do this sort of lecture very well, though the media will never give him proper credit for it, let alone take up the value of what he's saying. They'd just ape what Former President of the United States of America George W. Bush said to Tim Russert that time (and I just howled with Vegas-quality guffaws when he said it): 'The political season has begun.'

[INTERVAL I: I hope that it's not for the last time that I now give my stark opinion of Obama: I think that he is at heart a conceptual reformer and reviser of vast potential, but the simple reality is that he faces mafia-style forces - yes, ORGANIZED CRIME-style forces - every minute of his being president. Such forces are merely tolerating him, and his whole presidential dance is to compromise with these forces, as he hasn't a prayer in transforming or disempowering them. End of somber interval.]

One thing about viewing such Stately extravaganzas in HD, all the tawdry details that used to be shaken out in low-res transmission are here in pore-close detail. In these crowd sequences, we can clearly see what 'everyday folks' these players are, what with the goofs in simply moving around, the meanness of the expressions, the shortness of statures, the things plainly unsaid, the body language of touchy-feelies, Harry Reid's ancient yawn, the breathy ear-talk, the bad make-up, the full-figured gals still dressing like Nancy Reagan, and on and on... (One cinematic gem of a vignette: Michelle Obama's Cecil Beaton pose, tacitly acknowledging applause from under peek-a-boo bangs.) In general, this variety hour ain't no carefully staged DeMille mob scene. It's more like a Waterpik sales convention at a freeway-side Holiday Inn. Or even a Howard Johnson's. Plus, the physical makeup of the House itself is all too painfully present. Why, this august chamber appears no more than a basement Rec Room in a split-level suburban palazzo, c. 1975, pitifully kitted out in cheap dark paneling accents, with plaster reproduction fasces mounted on either side of the dais to provide a bit of Better Homes and Gardens class to the Formica marble behind. (Mussolini would cry 'copyright infringement!' if he knew...) Quite frankly, I found the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to have more charm, if not raw might. Both chambers of Parliament in London are much more cozy and bookish (e.g. learned). No wonder our Congresspeople are increasingly dreary: their nest sets the tone. Looks like their design team is a combo of experts specializing in small town clinic waiting rooms and holy roller church interiors. Hasn't anyone there seen any of those gay 'make-over' shows? (Perhaps Mark Foley could have been good for something on-site, besides cruising...)

[INTERVAL II: Stay tuned for some DAVID BROOKS items, coming later. End of an interval full of promise.]

Speaking of dreariness, Obama is totally correct on another thing. His well-placed slam on media pundits is, as we all know, all too true. The institution of said pundits has never been so powerful or prosperous. With few exceptions, their candy-assed smugness betrays their egomaniacal self-reflection as the smartest minds in the whole wide room. Some, of course, are worse than others. Currently, NBC is probably the least offensive. Brian Williams is actually quite dignified and restrained, don't you think? And this David Gregory fellow is such a distracting oddball. CBS is hardly worth mentioning, except that Katie's stagers seem to have ceased (IDEA!!) bathing her in that bizarre footlighted presentation that made her look like a plastic puppet in a cheap exploitation flick, and Bobs Schieffer, folksy old Tex that he is, is, for all practical purposes, about as irrelevant as the Sage of Nationalistic Pentagonical Radiation, Dan Schorr. ABC? Well, Kid George and the withered beldame known as Diane (Diane always seems like such a youthful name!) have become unspeakable. (Elizabeth Vargas, I would've gone the full route of devotion to you!) Diane's methods of expressive speaking and facial reactions are hallmarks of very bad and insipid theatre. I imagine her big excuse is that she's 'relating' to audiences or something. You're getting it ALL WRONG, DIANE. (Bawdy Diane story from an old 'Penthouse' of my youth: At a party, a male associate of Diane's becomes drunk enough to say to her, 'Diane, you've got a flat ass!' Her reply: 'What do you mean? I've got a GREAT ass!' See what I mean about smartest asses in the whole wide room??)

Anyway, that brings us to PBS. (I haven't had cable since 1991. Sorry Fox, CNN, C-Span...) Aging Jim Lehrer is fine by me, I guess. He's so damn neutral, but that's what he's sticking to, and I can't fault him for that. Besides, my wife thinks he's cute. Mark Shields, staunch old Marine that he is, is a bit wobbly now. His triumphs are past him, so it seems that he's just saying stuff to please others, rather than vent his belly acid that surely seethes below that anchorperson desk. I honor Mark, but when he says stuff like 'Ronald Reagan was a MASTER at (fill in the blank)', I get, well, sad for him.

What's left? Or, who, rather. David Brooks, of course. Snaggletoothed, chucklesome, beaming with fake modesty so as to showcase his punditty capital, touches of distinguished grey at temples framing a still babyish face, sensibly balding, turgidly winning a fat-race with Bill Kristol but keeping his lower arms in tone by his Valley Guy hand gestures, David is in high gear, a man at the summit of his influence and achievement, with more summits to come, no doubt. But I'm not sure about proceeding with critiquing him, as his success in the pundit industry indicates some serious evidence of the decline of American civilization. Types like Glenn Beck need no explanation or indeed, interpretation. But taking Brooks and his mediocrity seriously is a very bad sign indeed. And another dead giveaway about Brooks is that it is obvious that he doesn't believe in what he supposedly propounds. There just isn't any conviction there. Sort of like Sarah Palin. He duly rattles out his required pronouncements to fill the time, then grinningly hands the floor back to Mark with oily grace. Such a nice guy, too. How could you really get mad at him, especially when he spouts stuff like 'people should pray for President Bush'? (Will he invoke his Lord on President Barack Hussein Obama, as well? Oh, David will you? It might help!) Like most of his kind, Brooks is a very bad actor, and after the show, you can be sure that the money is counted, followed by the Big Dinner and then a sound sleep. Any deep thinker worth his or her salt spends most of their time suffering, either from conscience or from idealism. David Brooks is the apotheosis of the self-absorbed consumer posing as Vox Populi for the yuppie (still a term worth circulating) lifestyle. He is corporate narcissism achieved.

Added feature:

I like Matt Taibbi. He's one of the most worthwhile reporters today. But forget further praise. None needed. Here are his own thoughts on Brooks, regarding Haiti:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Michael Moore On Democracy Now!: Clarity Without Question

An excellent interview, to say the least.
(Approx. half an hour.)

We all know why people can't stand Michael and say he's 'over the top'. They're jealous because he tells simple truths, and they wish they could.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Teachings of the UK

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(photo: YakkiDoodlings)

I recently approached the UK in person with the absurdly naive notion that, by this stage in the first (and pretty much worthless, as seen from 2010) decade of the 21st C., the old Kingdom might be pretty much Americanized to the point of no return.

It is true that, after quite a few decades of exchanging bodily fluids, as it were, with those forces, both seductive and capitalistic, across the pond, the UK did in fact become more Americanized than it would ever care to admit.

Yet, after so much whoring to US temptations, the UK has weathered the onslaught with its cultural garments intact. It's almost as if the poodle-ization of Toni Blare became a focal point by which to awake to common sense. That is, to steer a more 'French' route in maintaining British identity. By French I mean, a concerted effort to remain confident that a given society, culture and identity are all worth preserving, upgrading and projecting, especially in the face of a superpower's global effects. France, in seeing its cultural and linguistic influence fade on the world scene, has nevertheless seized the pragmatic opportunity and strengthened its own culture and identity within France itself. To put it simply (for this is a subject worthy of numerous theses and think-tank grant studies), based on my wholly unscientific findings, the UK has wisely followed the same course, whether consciously or as a natural progression.

Aside from Starbucks sightings on practically every other corner in London (as well as directly across from Windsor Castle!) I can amateurly but officially announce that Britain as we know it to be, still exists. Why, Morris Minors can often be spotted trundling through the CCTV-canvassed streets!

In this, my own Restoration of sorts, I learned many things whilst in the UK. One of the most significant involves media coverage of current events. But that's a subject that will trickle out in a future bit of yakkery.

Best wishes for a super 2000000000000000000010! GTR (Geologic Time Reckoning)