Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Am Sam Brownback

Last month, during a Republican presidential debate, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they didn't believe in evolution. Sam Brownback of Kansas was one of three candidates to do so.

Today, he tries to explain why he did so in the New York Times. Here's the column.

Read the column closely. There is much to agree with in this piece -- of course faith and reason can co-exist, and of course they are not mutually exclusive -- but this is not the point.

Look carefully at the way the Senator splits hairs in narrowly defining "evolution" as a way of explaining why he raised his hand in that split second.

The essay provides a window into his soul for how he can twist a simple question and turn it into different questions that miss the big picture. And because we are not a theocracy -- yet -- I think his emphasis on "faith" is a little scary for people who may practice a different faith than he does.

Anybody out there think Sen. Brownback would prefer a theocracy? Please raise your hand if you do.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

That's The Ticket!

Is Lou Dobbs pulling a Tommy Flanagan? You tell me.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Play It Again, Sam

Networks sometimes run war movie marathons on Memorial Day as a way to remember the sacrifices of the past, and the present. Turner Classic Movies is doing it today, with such genre greats as Stalag 17, Bridge on the River Kwai, Soldier's Story and Where Eagles Dare airing later today. Every one of these movies is one that I'd recommend, particularly the first two.

But I have an idea for how other networks, the news networks, can remember and memorialize the men and women who have lost their lives or their limbs in the armed services, particularly those who have been killed and wounded in the last four years.

I think CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC should re-air the first 24 hours of their initial coverage of the War in Iraq from 2003.

What would we see?

Would we see the network shouting heads so busy waving the flag that they forget to do critical reporting?

Would we see these journalists parroting administration talking points as they sought to fill up the news hour?

Would these journalists, particularly the "celebrity" journalists who are on the D.C. cocktail party circuit and are on a first-name basis with the wives and husbands of Senators, be a little embarrassed by their cheer leading?

Hollow Words On Hallowed Ground

"In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war." That's what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation's history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseeming eagerness.

These words, fine words by economist and columnist Paul Krugman, are the first two paragraphs of his column today in the New York Times. On Memorial Day, they are good words to think about, reflect on, stew over, get mad about, get sad about.

You can read the full column here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Things I Find In My Basement


Kiss "Destroyer" album, 1976, PolyGram Records.

The back cover directs "Kiss Fan Mail" to this address: PO Box 5272, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y.

I wonder if this box still receives letters? Could there be a package in this box right now that may contain a certain fan's favorite lingerie?

And I wonder if this box also welcomes fan mail for Minikiss?

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Daughter's Birthday

A special little lady in my life turns 12 years old today.

I want to tell her lots of things. How proud I am of her. How special she is. How she has blossomed into a beautiful and elegant young woman.

I want to explain to her that it's tough being 12. That the others in the neighborhood can sometimes be cruel, that she needs to keep her head up and walk proud and respect herself, and have enough confidence and wisdom to respect the choices she makes.

I want to tell her that it's OK to make mistakes. That we learn from mistakes. That mistakes can make us better people. And if we live life afraid of being wrong, or making a mistake, that we never grow.

I want to tell her about how hard it's been being a working single father, but because it's been worth every single second, I won't.

I want to tell her all about how in life, there are always choices, and that it is these choices that define us, that build our character, that make us who we are.

I want to tell her how much she means to me, and how I love her.

And, as a very special birthday present today, I'm also going to change her litter box.

Things I Find In My Basement


Pilot episode, St. Elsewhere, VHS copy, copyright 1992. The episode is from 1982.

In my last post I said Lost has potential to be one of the great dramatic series of all time if it doesn't fall on its face during its remaining episodes.

St. Elsewhere, I'd say, already has this distinction.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It Floated My Boat

It usually happens on Thursday morning, when a friend sends out a "day-after" review and analysis of Lost that always has proven to be an insightful read.

His email this morning was short. He summed up the episode in one word: "heartbreaking."

Last night's episode was TV at its best, and Lost at its best.

If Lost can finish strong in its remaining episodes, it has a shot to be ranked right up there with the all-time best dramas in television history.


In Doc Jensen's review of the season finale for Entertainment Weekly, he uses two words: "wow" and "sensational." You won't get an argument from me. Read it here.

RIDDLE ME THIS: Here's a question for Lost fans. In the flash-forward scene, a drunken/drugged out Jack tells the chief of surgery to go upstairs and see if his dad is even worse off than he is. Is Jack's dad still alive, or was "drunk guy" Jack just confused and being non-sensical?

DVR + American Idol = Missed Ending

With two hours of Lost to watch last night, and the excruciating (in parts) two-hour finale of American idol, Wally and I decided to watch both shows on DVR, fast-forwarding through as many commercials as possible.

Getting through four hours of both shows only took about 3 hours of commercial-free time, if you don't count the Ford commercial/music video that was built into American Idol. (I'm really not sure those music videos are going to translate into more car sales for Ford, but who knows?)

One problem: I never saw the moment when Jordin won American Idol; the show must have went long (intentionally?) and my DVR cut off the show during what I think was the last commercial break.

So what did I miss?

Mark The Time

It was about quarter after the hour, May 23, 2007. This is when American Idol officially jumped the shark with a Golden Idol Award bit with contestant Margaret Fowler that was painfully unfunny, not at all entertaining and inappropriate for a show that wants the audience to take the competition (at this stage) very seriously.

This was so embarrassingly phony (fake cell phone call, staged kiss) and just God-awful, that I started blushing.

I'll never wear banana-yellow again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Coffee Pot is Fixed

The Cup of Joe will be back online tomorrow with a review of the big Lost finale. And, if I can catch up on my Tivo after three days of watching no TV and reading no newspapers, I might have something to say about the next American Idol, whose name I'm guessing won't be Blake.

See you then!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'll Be Right Back

Due to technical difficulties involving my 10-cup Mr. Coffee deluxe coffee maker, hand signed by Joe Dimaggio at a baseball card show 10 years ago, The Cup of Joe has been offline for the last couple days as I work with a team of engineers to fix the problem.

I'll be back soon, real soon -- and I hope by then that pot of coffee is half full, not half empty.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Things I Find In My Basement


At various times, including 1994 and 1997, I've received a subscription to Playboy magazine for my birthday.

This was before, as my friend Missy says, I "caught the gay."

For some reason I didn't throw away all the magazines, keeping the ones (in a "kinda gay way") with potential camp value. For example, I have several with Anna Nicole on the cover and the one with Farah on the cover.

I can't wait to re-read the Pete Townshend interview:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Birds of a Feather: English Majors and 'Lost'

A large percentage of my friends in college were English majors; I was not. They liked reading novels and fiction because they found it fun ferreting out hidden meanings and symbolism in literary works; I just liked a good story.

For me, it was "just the facts, mam." This was enough. Besides, I wasn't smart enough for (or didn't want to bother with) all that "fancy figurin'" over allegory, symbolism and foreshadowing.

In other words, I majored in business.

Years later, I find this sort of fancy figurin' to be a little more fun.
What makes me think of this, and why I bring it up, is because this reminds me about what I like so much about the ABC show Lost. The show can appeal strongly to both sets off people -- those who like a surface story and those who want to be challenged with hidden meanings and what's boiling just beneath the surface, the MBA types and the MFA's.

People can enjoy Lost on multiple levels -- on the "just the facts" level and on a much deeper level, whether it involves biblical allusions to various Old and New Testament characters, literary references to Charles Dickens and many other writers, or movie references to the Wizard of Oz. I could go on and on.

If you're an old English major looking for some strong writing about Lost from a thinking man's perspective, nobody does a better anaylysis than Doc Jensen at Entertainment Weekly. Here's is Doc's latest take on this week's episode of Lost.


Of all my English major friends from college, not a single one watches Lost. This, I think, is a shame, because I think they'd like it, particularly my friends Frenchie and Elgy.

So here is my challenge for them:

* Tonight, watch or Tivo the Lost recap show on ABC.
Producers are promising "a look at some of the questions - and answers - about the mysteries of Lost, in preparation for the two-hour season finale!"
* Next Wednesday, watch the finale.

For people new to Lost: If you're not entertained or intrigued after watching these three hours, stop watching. But I bet this won't happen.

I think new viewers could get into the story fairly quickly, and that Doc Jensen's next-day wrap-ups would soon become a must-read.

Even for non-English majors -- like me.


As if we needed more proof about just how fake reality TV really is.

Are Sitcoms Dead?

This is a question posed by an op-ed columnist in the New York Times a couple days ago. You can read the column here.

With this in mind, I'm inviting in the comments section your opinion for the worst sit-coms of all time.

I can start this out by throwing out Gilligan/Bob Denver's pilot for SCAMPS (also starring a very young and "not bald" Joey Lawrence and written by Sherwood Schwartz) as a serious contender for one of the worst sitcoms of all time. I believe it only aired once, in the early 1980s. I think I was one of about 11 people watching it live. You can watch more below.

And a serious contender for the all-time worst sit-com to air more than once could possibly be After M*A*S*H, the dreadful follow-up to M*A*S*H that was set in a midwest veteran's hospital following the end of the Korean War. Watching After M*A*S*H was more painful than meatball surgery.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

American Idol Question

Were Wally and I the only people to notice that the talented Melinda Doolittle messed up the lyrics at the beginning of her last song last night?

Replay it on your Tivo, and watch her eyes after she messes up.

It's a true "what the F did I just do" moment. None of the judges seemed to notice it, and they didn't mention it.


I have a feeling Melinda may be going home tonight.

But it really doesn't matter: She doesn't need to win the show to be successful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

... And The Tony Award Goes To

One of the interesting things about The Sopranos, during its eight-year, six-season run on HBO, was that even though Tony Soprano was a thief and a murderer, and not above killing family and friends, he somehow remained likable.

The fact that he saw a psychiatrist and relied on Prozac and anti-depressants to get through life made him more human, more accessible, more like the rest of us.

Following last Sunday's episode, however, and with three more episodes to go, I don't think we've ever seen this character so completely amoral, so completely empty of human goodness, so self-absorbed and immature and so completely, completely unlikeable.

I only have one message for the character of Tony Soprano, and it involves me doing that "Italian thing" by flicking my hand to the chin.


Where should James Gandolfini pick up his Emmy?

I mean, really, why even both with the nominations? This is one of the best leading male performances I've ever seen on TV. I completely buy every single moment of his performance.

Coming Up Next: The Terrible Two's?

I'm pleased to announce that today is a birthday, a first birthday for The Cup of Joe.

This blog entered the world on May 15, 2006, with this post, a carefully thought out "mission statement" that took all of 20 seconds to write. Now, 623 posts later, the blog still lives.

What will the future hold? Will this blog survive to see a second birthday next year? Will regular readers and responders like Ralph Nader-voter JERCWE continue to hurt my feelings and drive me to drink? Will Ralph Nader run again in 2008 and ensure another Republican wins the White House?

Will even more of my eerily on-the-mark preditions for 2007 come true?

Will Lou Dobbs fall in love with an illegal alien and run away with her to Guadalajara along with her sons and cousins y tios? Will The Cup of Joe continue its exclusive Lou Dobbs "America At The Crossroads" Coverage well into 2007?

Could Mitt "Flip" Romney cause a major oil slick after swimming off the coast of Cape Cod?

I don't have answers to these questions. Yet.

But stay tuned!


Thanks to all who have linked to this blog in the last year; many of these cool blogs are listed at right in my relatively short blogroll.

I'm happy to link to other blogs, too, if you return the favor, as long as the blog is "safe for work" and not advocating anything offensive or hurtful. It doesn't matter where you land on the political spectrum, either: I like learning from all viewpoints, whether you're supporting Ralph Nader for president ... or Ralph Wiggums.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This Gives Me Joy

How many spider men can you fit inside a Jamba Juice? David Letterman "crunched the data" on this important question last week.

You can watch below -- until, of course, CBS pulls the video from YouTube:

(My favorite part is at the 8:29 mark.)

A Writer Who Makes Me Say 'Yikes!'

Fred Barnes, the guy who wrote the hagiographic biography of George Bush ("Rebel in Chief") that Carm Soprano is a big fan of, recently wrote an essay called "Can Bush Recover?" for the Wall Street Journal, where he offered some advice for Republican presidential candidates: "The best tactic is to build up the president, not tear him down."

Barnes' argument is based on what Republicans need to do to ensure they win the 2008 election, not necessarily about doing the right thing or following one's convictions.

Karl Rove must be proud. Carm, too.

In other words, don't mention that the emperor has no clothes if it'll hurt your chances to win an election.


Monday Quick Reads

* Were the two pals on the old show Bosom Buddies, the first season of which is now out on DVD, cross-dressing for more than just the obvious reason? At least one writer questions whether the two bosom buddies were "hiding something from themselves as well as their neighbors," calling Henry Desmond (Peter Scolari) a "caricature of a gay man in the 80s: tight Izod shirt, gold chains, modified Dorothy Hamill hairdo." LINK.

* Lord of the Rings: The Musical lost a ton of money when it ran for six months in Toronto last year, with Ben Brantley at the New York Times calling it a "murky, labyrinthine wood from which no one emerges with head unmuddled." Now, with the show being retooled and shortened and with an infusion of another $25 million from investors, the show is opening in London. Let's hope that this ring proves to be a better fit this time around -- with critics and with audiences. LINK.

* According to an AP article, Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson "cited a dead hearing aid and an urgent need to use the restroom in explaining on Saturday why he said at a GOP presidential debate that an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker." This is what you'd call "digging the hole deeper." Maybe he shouldn't have slammed that Big Gulp before the debate started? LINK.

* Leonard Nimoy, known for his artistic endeavors outside of acting, including writing poetry, is also a photographer. His latest mission: Photographing nude women who are fat. OK, I acknowledge that this could lend itself to a lot of jokes, but in our age of disgustingly or morbidly thin women (Nicole Ritchie, Paris Hilton, etc.) serving as role models to young girls at a time when eating disorders are out of control, I think what he's doing in a fine thing. May this photographer's work live long and prosper. LINK.

Blogging's Sworn Enemy: Nice Weather

Good weather is no friend to blogging, which is why the posts were so light last week. This should change this week.

And it couldn't come sooner: This week I promise to announce two very, very special birthday announcements that could change this blog FOREVER!**

** It's highly unlikely these announcements will change
anything, much less this blog FOREVER

Friday, May 11, 2007

Great News for Jamie Summers

The Bionic Woman is a go for the NBC fall Schedule! LINK.

Here's my earlier post from March, when the pilot was ordered.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lost Has Found Some Answers

This morning, about five seconds after I finished watching Lost on Tivo, I received this email from a reader: "LOST was excellent last night and finally answered some questions."

What do you think?


Fun Fact: Father's Day is coming up next month. Dads and sons all over the country will enjoy a beer together to celebrate.

Just make sure it does not involve drinking a "Dharma initiative beer."

After last night, we now know what happens to a father when he tried to enjoy a Dharma initiative beer with his son.

This barley-inspired beer sure didn't have a "refreshing finish" for at least one da-da.

After last night's episode, I'm getting a sense, now, that the show itself will have a finish, like the best of beers, that very well could be ... clean, crisp, refreshing and, most important of all, satisfying.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When The Camera Lies

What's the best way to solve America's growing obesity problem? Joining a gym? Stuffling less food in your mouth?

The makers of digital cameras have a better idea! It's new "slimming technology" that makes people look less fat.

Here's the photo from today's Wall Street Journal demonstrating the technology.

I wonder if this new technology also reduces the risk of heart attacks?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Carm and The Rebel

Two shows to watch closely: The Simpsons and ... The Sopranos.

Both shows throw in nuggets and details, and very funny ones, that you may miss if you don't watch closely.

For example, on Sunday night's episode of The Sopranos, Tony's wife Carm was reading in bed a book, Rebel in Chief: How George W. Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America, by Fred Barnes.

This was a laugh-out-loud moment.

Written when Bush was still popular, Rebel in Chief should go down as a complete embarassment to Barnes for its hagiographic, uncritical views of Bush.

It also makes me laugh, as Carm has pointed out before, that the Soprano family is ... Republican.

Here is an excerpt from the book in which Barnes compares George Bush to ... Franklin D. Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt:
Bush is actually a mixture of FDR and TR, with FDR's cool optimism and TR's pugnacity and determination. This combination strikes some, especially critics, as arrogance. A more charitable view is that Bush has the temperament of a self-assured Texas male. To those who insist he swaggers, Bush responds, "In Texas, we call it walking." Bush has a penchant for embracing big projects. He dismisses many issues as "small-ball" or "mini-ball" -- not worth a president's time and attention. One of his favorite sayings is "We didn't come here to do school uniforms." It's a dig at Clinton, the master of the mini-proposal.
I'm happy that the Sopranos writers don't ignore "mini-balls," or should I say "the details," when they write.

Details are important, don't you know, in writing and in running a country.

If Bill Clinton had the exact same record as George Bush, Fred Barnes would have absolutely blasted Clinton. So why does he love Bush so uncritically, just because he has the label "Republican"?


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Things I Find In My Basement


Vintage record album, Zingers From the Hollywood Squares, 1974. Birthday gift, 1995.

Starring Peter Marshall and featuring Charo, Ed Asner, Sally "Fields" (they spelled her name wrong on the album cover), Redd Foxx, Buddy Hackett, Don Knotts, Michael Landon, Rich Little, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, McLean Stevenson, Rose Marie, Fredie Prinze, Leslie Uggams, Karen Valentine, Sandy Duncan, Dom Deluise ... AND MORE!

At the time this record was released, Hollywood Squares was "the only television program for which unprecedented viewer demand required not only five daytime telecasts perweek, but also two evening shows."


This is also "Something I'll Never Place on Ebay."


If I can figure out how to transfer this album to a digital format, I'll post "Joe's Favorite Zingers." I have my money on Charro.

Speakers of zingers, I wish the word zinger would come up more in daily conversation, sort of like my five favorite seldom used nouns of insult, my five favorite seldom used expressions, or my five favorite words seldom heard in every conversation.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Father of the Year?

Here's an entry in the "things I didn't need to see" department.

This 28-second video of a drunken former Baywatch star eating what looks like some kind of fast-food sandwich while being filmed by his daughter was added to YouTube yesterday and, as of right now, had almost 600,000 views.

At least he didn't call his daughter a little piggy.