Thursday, November 30, 2006

Extra, Extra

Trivia: What actor or actress is the youngest person in history to reach four Oscar nominations?

Answer: The delightful and supremely talented Kate Winslet, who was on The Late Show With David Letterman earlier this week. (The second youngest, by the way, is Marlon Brando.)

Although Kate doesn't yet have an Oscar, she is deserving of an Emmy for this guest spot earlier this year on the Ricky Gervais show Extras on HBO.

The below clip makes me regret canceling HBO a few months ago. Don't watch if you're allergic to phone sex and/or perfect timing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Be Wary Of People Whose Middle Name is Not Tom, Pete, Joe, Dick, Ed or George

Should someone alert Homeland Security?

We Really Liked Abe

We here at The Cup of Joe are thankful, very thankful, that U.S. News & World Report editors, in confidently declaring The Gettysburg Address to be "America's Greatest Speech" on its most recent cover, opted for this most eloquent and brilliant expression instead of, say, the Sally Field "you really like me" Oscar acceptance speech.

However, we also believe that many historians (and as a construction worker I can't count myself to be a historian) would argue that the Gettysburg Address can't possibly be "America's greatest speech" because it probably wasn't even Lincoln's greatest speech.

These historians would probably point to the extraordinary words (and historical context) of his Second Inaugural, and they might say that his famous "Address at Cooper Union" (Feb. 27, 1860) was so masterful that it propelled a failed politician and a relatively unknown country lawyer right into the White House, and that maybe these speeches are even more extraordinary than The Gettysburg Address, and that maybe declaring something as the "best ever" might sell magazines but is really a little silly and a little self-important.

When 1,500 New Yorkers listened to Lincoln for 45 minutes at Cooper Union, they really, really liked him, just as America would later embrace Sally Field.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You Can't Beat War Coverage Like This

With the situation in Iraq and the Middle East deadlier than ever, now is a good time to give pause and reflect on which major U.S. newsweekly does the best job of covering the American Civil War.

This would be U.S. News & World Report, of course. The magazine's latest issue, now on newstands and pictured at right, lends some insight into Lincoln at Gettysburg and promises on the cover to take a "new look at America's greatest speech."

Here's a suggestion for editor-in-chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman for what his cover should be next week: Do another Lincoln cover, and celebrate the 13th anniversary of Garry Wills winning the Pulitzer prize for Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (1992), a superb and influential work that took a new look at America's greatest speech way back in the early 90s.

We wish U.S. News well, as well, in their future reporting on that other Civil War, the one going on in Iraq, and on reporting on the eloquent speeches (from 2006) that will shine a shimmering and welcome light on this happening-right-now blood bath.


Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cup of Joe Fall Movie Round-Up

Best movie we've seen lately: The Queen.

Most overrated: Borat.

Movie with an actor who has the best abs: Casino Royale.

Best men's swimsuit in a motion picture: Your guess is as good as mine.

Worst abs: Sorry Borat's manager, your movie loses again. But thanks for playing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Seventh Child

Bobby is a new film directed by Emilio Estevez. The most compelling scenes in the movie, however, had no director. And they were filmed more than three decades ago.

I'm referring to the extraordinary archival footage of Robert F. Kennedy himself.

And when this historical footage is paired so effectively with fictionalized scenes, especially the last 15 minutes of this film, the result is hard to forget.

The cast of this movie is a Hollywood who's who: Anthony Hopkins, Christian Slater, Martin Sheen, Sharon Stone, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, others. But the star is a man who has been dead for 38 years.

When he speaks, Kennedy has a seriousness and an undertone of sadness that somehow remains hopeful, not sullen. His words seem to spring from deep within himself, from his soul, and not from a speechwriter. It's the politics of conviction, and not the political rhetoric one arrives at based on polling. And it's so odd to hear.

Is there an American politician alive today who speaks with this same authenticity? It took me awhile, but I can only think of one.

The movie, like the man, has its flaws. I don't know if it was intentional, but I see the character in the movie played by William H. Macy an an appropriate parallel. He is, like Kennedy, a good man, a strong man, a flawed man and a philanderer.

It reminds me of the famous quote from Ted Kennedy at RFK's funeral: "My brother need not be idolized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mark the Date: Nov. 29

Next Wednesday, Richard Simmons will be on Late Night With David Letterman for the first time in six years.

Yesterday, in fact, was the six-year anniversary of his last appearance, when Richard dressed up in what looked like a chicken costume and was hosed with a fire extinguisher by Dave. We here at The Cup of Joe were watching this one live, and apparently there were some hurt feelings involved.

Must-see TV.

And tonight on Letterman, I'm predicting that Dave's mom, in her annual Thanksgiving day appearance, will have the stoves fired up with Pumpkin Walnut and Peach Pie, with a 40 percent chance of Apple Cranberry. This year's long shot: Rhubarb.

And Now It's a T-Shirt

A friend of mine just emailed me this. Middling minds think alike, no?

Madonna, Jesus Christ and Tucker Carlson

A couple months ago, Tucker Carlson, one of the great idiots of the world, went on a rant about the Madonna crucifixion imagery that was part of a song during her recent world tour.

It was clear that Tucker hadn't seen the concert in person, nor did he understand or seem aware of the context in which this powerful symbol was used. But it didn't stop him from wagging a heavy finger of shame at the pop singer.

Last night, even though the image of Madonna on the cross was censored out by NBC, Americans got to see what all the fuss was about when the "Confessions On a Dance Floor" concert video got its first TV airing.

So if you were able to watch this terrific concert, a concert we here at The Cup of Joe (along with Wally, Miles O'Mally and other friends) saw live this summer, you'd understand some things that the critics never saw, or bothered to understand.

It would be hard, I think, for any Christian to possibly object to the context in which this symbol was used. It wasn't mocking, nor was it merely trying to be shocking.

It was, however, a statement about how AIDS has ravaged the least of our brothers on the African continent, and how it has affected 12 million children who are now orphans because of AIDS.

It was an artistic statement to enlighten the public on an issue that should be of high interest and concern to all people who profess to be Christians.

If Jesus walked the earth today, he'd probably be a heck of a lot more concerned about the children of Africa and how a terrible disease has ravished a continent than he would be about gay marriage or, for that matter, what a pop singer does on stage.

Of course NBC censored out the image of Madonna being crucified, because they're pussies. This wasn't the only censorship. Watch closely, and you'll notice they also edited out a political statement she made about George Bush. You can easily read her lips, though. (She doesn't, er, like George Bush, but she put it a little stronger on stage.)

The truth is that the most powerful images from this "number" -- the photos of the children forgotten by America and the developed world -- were not edited out.

Twelve million children in Africa are without parents, and this number will grow to 20 million by 2010. Many of these children will not survive without our help.

Tucker Carlson, where is your outrage over this?

For I was hungry and you gave me food.
I was naked and you gave me clothing.
I was sick and you took care of me.
And God replied,
Whatever you did for one
of the least of my brothers,
you did it to me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Prediction: Best Christmas Ever!

I'm delighted to report that we here at The Cup of Joe have concluded our Christmas shopping, and it's not yet Thanksgiving!

This is thanks, in large part, to the arrival in the mail yesterday of the latest International Male catalog. I don't really know why I'm on their mailing list, but I can admit (my legal advisors tell me) that I did buy a shirt from them back in 1998. Yes, I still wear it. No, people don't make fun of me (to my face) when I wear it. No, it doesn't have ruffles. No, it's not silky. Yes, Wally would look like one of the models in the catalog wearing it, if I ever loaned it to him. No, I'm not loaning the shirt to Wally.

But anyway, I'm happy to report that *all* my male friends will be getting the commander leather waistcoat along with the ultimate poet's shirt. And for those who have been good, I may even throw in a "london opera vest" or a "madison banded collar shirt." I'm hoping this will be just the impetus for all my friends to join forces and produce a local community theater production of The Pirates of Penzance sometime real soon.

The only exception to this, however, is Frenchy. Because he already owns a closet full of poet's shirts, he will instead be getting a leather lace-front-pant with low-rise waistband, genuine napa suede, brass grommets and (of course) an 11" flared hem.

In fact, I prefer to think of this pant as unisex, so think I may get all the ladies in my life the exact same thing.

I just hope my mom likes it.

Monday, November 20, 2006


If I were Seinfeld, I'd start locking my apartment door.

Who would want this guy to show up unannounced?


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Straight Questions For A Man of God

Is it a sin to watch Will and Grace?

Just because you repeatedly have sex with a hunky Brazilian guy, does it really mean you're gay?

"If Freddy Prinze Jr. crawled in here now on all fours, are you telling me that you wouldn't want to undress him?"

Is eating brunch morally acceptable?

These are puzzling questions from Bruno, aka Sasha Baron Cohen/Borat. What Would God Say? A minister has the answers..

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Nominees for Time Magazine's
Person of the Year

1. Rejected Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers.

2. Our little "just been fertilized" buddy The Blastocyst.

3. Howie Mandell.

4. Howie Mandell's soul patch.

5. The delightful young woman who so charmingly, gracefully and endearingly opens case number 23 on Deal or No Deal.

6. Gay prostitute Mike Jones.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

But What Wine Would Ditka
Serve With Pork Rinds?

Great news for wine lovers and Bears fans: Mike Ditka has a line of wines now.

The fruity overtones of the Merlot, we hear, will make this wine highly recommended for foods high in transfats as well as cheese-stuffed pretzels.

Ditka's Pinot Grigio reportedly goes great with deep-dish Chicago pizza and knackwurst.

And we hear that his most expensive wine -- "Da Coach Kick Ass Red," a mix of zinfandel, syrah and petite sirah grapes -- will make a charming complement to turkey pot pies.

Behavior of Ex-Cons Seems Crooked

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It Was the Jiggles That Worried Me

Years ago, before Bush the Lesser was appointed president the first time by five members on the Supreme Court, I attended a campaign rally of his to hear what he had to say. I had seen his father speak before, too, and ditto for President Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

When I heard Bush the Greater speak in person back in the 1980s, he seemed so much taller and more charismatic in person that he had ever appeared on TV. Ditto for Al Gore. And when I shook President Clinton's hand at a rally one time, his hand sweaty from a long day of summer campaigning, you couldn't help but feel that this guy seemed to absolutely love what he was doing.

So back to 2000, and I'm at the Bush rally, and I see the future President (not yet on stage) during the rally introductions, and he seems fidgetty. He is standing, and I notice that his right leg is jiggly in an "I want this damn thing to be over" way.

People with jiggly legs aren't suited for the office, I say to myself, so there's no way this guy can win.

I had not thought of this moment for years until last Sunday, when I read a review of Bob Woodward's State of Denial in the New York Times Review of Books.
According to Woodward, the president's legs anxiously jiggle under the table in meetings. He also suggests, as others have, that our adventure in Iraq had less to do with the promotion of democracy and more to do with the president's relationship with his father. Bush wanted to outdo his dad by taking down the tyrant his old man had left standing.
This scares me. Jiggle is a verb best reserved for the hijinx of buxom blondes going wild on spring break, and definitely not for the leader of the free world.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Straight Guy Thinks Eye Cream Is Amazing

"The items that I can't go without on the race are probably my shavers and moisturizer and eye cream."

The man who said this is doing the Asian version of The Amazing Race with his, er, well, his girlfriend of one year. He also appears shirtless in the below video, and he seems to really like showing off his abs. We here at The Cup of Joe are absolutely delighted that Straight Guy enjoys his abs (and his eye cream) so much.

Straight Guy's shirt of choice at the beginning of the race? A tank top.

Mmm, hmmm.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Freaking, Farking, Fugging, Fucking

Janet Jackson exposed a portion of her breast for a millisecond during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, and 200,000 angry titty-haters called the FCC to complain. Result: the U.S. Congress passed a law that made such "violations" punishable by up to $375,000 per incident, just to ensure that the titty-haters wouldn't have to see another breast ever again.

But what happens when Joe Scarborough says "fucking" on the air on MSNBC? He did freaking say fucking, right?

No farking way!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Welcome To Congress

John Hall, the founder of the 1970s rock group Orleans, pulled out a close victory on Tuesday. You can watch his latest Colbert Report appearance here.

If you don't know, he's a Democrat, and he won in a heavily Republican district.

Although some people are crediting a dislike of George Bush for his victory in a heavily Republican district, I'm more inclined to credit a deep and abiding respect for "Dance With Me" and "Still The One."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prediction: CBS Makeup Artist
Will Get Fired Tomorrow

8:01 p.m. If you've seen the election break-ins on CBS, you may have noticed Katie Couric's eye makeup.

High definition TV is no friend to people who wear too much eyeliner. I even switched to an analog CBS channel. It didn't help.

What would an appropriate "Ratherism" be to describe Couric, and Couric's makeup? "She's as crafty as a Kentucky raccoon, and with the eyes to prove it."

And you thought the CBS Eye Logo was creepy?

Nixon: Now More Than Ever

Richard Nixon ended the Vietnam War, supported affirmative action, created the EPA and was sympathetic to environmental issues, eased relations with the former Soviet Union, oversaw a prosperous economy and took a middle-of-the-road approach when it came to domestic issues.

Tonight, when Democrats retake the U.S. House of Representatives with some candidates far more conservative than the "he now looks liberal" Tricky Dick, please remember that we still need Nixon, now more than ever.

Somewhere, either looking down from heaven or up from the fiery depths, I can only imagine that Richard Nixon is swilling a double scotch, prepared for him lovingly by Pat, and shaking his head.

Covering Up A Mission Accomplished

Gay Old Party

We here at The Cup of Joe never watch American Dad. But for some reason, we didn't switch the channel after Family Guy Sunday night. Good decision.

But My Vote Still Counts

Just got off the phone, and I can report that the person who brought me into the world is, right now, canceling out every vote that I made this morning.

But I respect the choices, because they are decisions that are thoughtfully based on a core set of values, and not on TV commercials.

The people who WILL decide the election today are the "last-minute deciders" who have no core ideology and who probably decide based on TV commercials. It's this 4 or 5 percent of the voters that decide the direction of the country. And isn't this a little scary?

In a reply to an earlier post, a reader of The Cup of Joe put it best:
I must say that as a liberal, I have a bit of respect for the tried and true conservatives. I'm not talking about the neo-cons that toe the party line no matter what, but thoughtful people that consider issues and fall to the right. They don't let much sway them from their thinking. I don't either. On that level we are much alike. They have their perceptions of morality and decency and I have my perceptions of the same. We just don't see the world in the same way. That's cool.

Now having said that, it's these mamby-pamby schmucks that can't decide that drive me batty.

Gas prices go up...out with the bums. Gas prices go down...we need to stay the course.

If they're scared a week or so before the election [i.e. terror alerts or RNC Osama Bin Laden commercials] - they vote one way. If they're not - they vote another. And as a result, these are the people that politicians try to appease. And it appears that they are the people that put the least amount of effort or thought into this truly sacred and, as far as the rest of the World is concerned, unique responsibility. They are the nuts that decide the direction of our country.

In rare cases, I'll concede that the choices are really not that clear. But, come on. How hard is it to devise a thoughtful view of the world that you live in? That's why more and more, I respect people with true conviction. I almost respect those that don't even bother to vote more. At least they're not flipping a metaphoric coin at the last minute because they did not bother to investigate and formulate an opinion of their own.
This is really the best thing I've read all month. Now go vote.

Two Wartime Quotes For Your Consideration

"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time."

-- E.B. White, 1944

"I am the Decider."

-- G.W. Bush, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Friendly Reminder

Tomorrow is election day. Please vote.

And because tomorrow is election day, I'd recommend that you buy a tank of gas soon. Six months ago, well before the election, gas prices were more than $3 a gallon. They're now closer to $2 a gallon.

I wonder if they'll increase after the election?

Someone Needs to Go Back to Jesus Camp

Operation Enduring Occupation

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Oy. Is Everybody Gay?

Haggard finally admits "sexual immorality."

And Wonkette has the "speculation" about a right wing media figure.

Treehouse of Horrors: Iraq Edition

Back in the 1970s, TV shows such as M*A*S*H and All in the Family were not so subtle in making serious political statements, whether it involved Vietnam or the Nixon resignation.

Primetime network TV today doesn't have anything like these two shows now on the air. When it comes to this type of television, network executives say "No Deal."

Think about it: Even in the non-prime time, and just a few days before an important national election, the creators of Saturday Night Live decide to air a "best of" show last night, effectively a repeat. (Darrell Hammond doing a Jesse Jackson impersonation is incredibly funny, but not incredibly relevant.)

Tonight, the annual "Treehouse of Horrors" Halloween episode of The Simpsons gets political with a segment about the invasion of Springfield by aliens. The aliens call it "Operation Enduring Occupation."

The neoconservatives are going to have a cow when they see it. And I don't think Mayor Quimby is going to like it either.

Glengarry Glen Ross 2006

From Friday's show: Bill Maher has a "New Rule" for Democrats: "Controlling congress is for closers ... ALWAYS BE CLOSING."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Question of the Day

From Today's New York Times, on Ted Haggard:
When Mr. Haggard was elected three years ago as the National Association of Evangelicals’ president, the magazine Christianity Today hailed him as a new kind of evangelical who could revive a flagging organization.

He was younger, less formal and more moderate than many of the bigger names in conservative Christianity. He was soon pushing to add issues like global warming, poverty and genocide in Darfur to the movement’s traditional agenda of opposition to homosexuality and abortion.

My question: Since when does being against mass murder and being against the destruction of the planet qualify a person as being a "moderate"? Shouldn't global warming, genocide and poverty be some of those "we all agree on" issues that trascend labels?

The fact that it is not, and would take a "moderate" to push it on the conservative evangelical agenda, is shameful.

The Ted and Larry Show

When should media report on rumors surrounding the sexuality of a U.S. Senator?

As the world focuses on the Ted Haggard affair, the Poynter Institute just posted online an interesting article about the recent rumors surrounding U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, and the decisions that mainstream journalists faced in reporting (or not reporting) the rumors. Although there have been rumors about the "votes like he hates the gays" Senator from Idaho for years, no solid proof has surfaced so far. But if it were true, you can bet that conservative Mormon voters in Idaho probably wouldn't like it.

Here's the story from Poynter Online.

How Can You Tell If People Are Lying?

A couple months ago I read Blink. It's about our subconscious and how we make decisions -- sometimes in just the blink of an eye, such as when a police officer has to decide whether to pull the trigger or a poker player has to decide whether to fold a hand. It also includes stories about how people can take a very "thin slice" of someone's behavior and determine if a person is lying.

I thought of this book when I watched the video of Ted "I did not sleep with that man" Haggard, which is linked to below. Watch his face when he says he didn't use drugs, and when he says he didn't have sex with the gay prostitute. Watch closely.

At first he shakes his head no, and then he switches and shakes his head yes. Interesting non-verbals.

Does any person in America believe this guy?

You can watch the video I'm referring to through this link on

Can you not feel really sorry for Haggard's family? Can you believe he answered these questions from his car with his kids in the back seat? (The reporter asked if he could step out of the car to do the interview, and he declined.)

Who in the world just wakes up one morning and decides he wants to buy Meth? These types of behaviors are built over a period of years.

Last week, if you had shown me video of Haggard, just 30 seconds worth -- before I knew that he was one of America's most influential evangelicals, and who had a hotline straight to Karl Rove and the Bush White House -- I would have asked: Who's the 'Mo?

And I would have asked that question in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Letter Perfect

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

-- The Scarlet Letter

Please note that Hawthorne is writing about the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, a fictional character, and any similarity with living congressmen and evangelical preachers is purely coincidental.

Guess who just resigned?

Exiting Closet Far Right

He's the President of the National Association of Evangelicals. He has direct access to President Bush. And he really, really hates gay people in public.

But what about in private?

Oh my.

Watch the good pastor in action here.

Read a detailed feature story on him here.

Changing the Subject

A Movie Clip Not to Be Missed

Former Congressman Mark Foley did a Hollywood cameo in a low-budget action film release from a few years ago called "Strike Force." Grab some soda, popcorn and a friend, and watch his Cecille B. DeMille moment here courtesy the good folks at

You Can't Beat This

In 1856, the anti-slavery U.S. Senator Charles Sumner was caned to a bloody pulp on the floor of the U.S. Congress by Preston Brooks, a pro-slavery member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I only bring this up because those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

If I were Sen. John Kerry, and I were threatened by a modern-day Preston Brooks, I'd head to the Potomac River and get myself and my family on the next swift boat out of dodge before this gets ugly.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things

OK, OK: the above ad for the Wisconsin "gotta stop the gays" amendment speaks for itself, so I will offer no comment on it.

I'm more concerned with the woman who does the voiceover for this commercial, and the parents who allowed their kids to be filmed and politicized for this commercial.

Do you think they have souls?

Who Will Win?

This site was remarkably accurate back during the elections of 2004. Will it again be correct?

Cloning Scares Me

And so does this:
MR. RUSSERT: Knowing what you know today, knowing what you know today, that Saddam did not have the weapons of destruction that our intelligence agencies thought he had, if you knew that today, would you still vote for the war?

JIMMY T: Well, yeah, I mean, I think...

MR. RUSSERT: You still would?

JIMMY T: was the—I think it was the only possible strategic choice. Look, Saddam had been an organic threat in the region for a long time. He represented a threat to us. That threat is now gone. Tim, look at what’s not happening.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, isn’t it an important question: if, if, if the CIA said to you, “Saddam does not have weapons of biological, chemical, or a nuclear program,” you would still vote for the war?

JIMMY T: Well, he wanted them. He was trying to get rid of economic sanctions. He would’ve had $70-a-barrel oil. He’d have been competing with—I mean, if action had not been taken to remove Saddam, the same people who are being critical of what’s going on in Iraq now would be screaming that we’d left him in power. We’d have another Iran there. That threat’s been removed.

(Meet the Press, NBC, Oct. 8, 2006. Full transcript here.)