Friday, June 29, 2007

Memo To Playboy

I need to let Playboy Magazine know that I caught "The Gay" way back in 1998.

Although my subscription lapsed sometime around 1996, I still have a taste for gorgeous blonds, which should be more than apparent to anybody who has had more than a passing glance at Wally.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shouldering A Heavy Load

Back in the 1980s, my friend Elgy wore blouses with shoulder pads that could rival anything that Blair from The Facts of Life could muster up. In fact, the only thing that could rival Elgy's shoulder pads in terms of size would have been her giant hair, which was almost as big as a hot-air balloon.

I only bring all this up because apparently shoulder pads for women are ... making a comeback! You may have read about it in various publications, including the Wall Street Journal.

Hut, HUT, HIKE: Who's ready for a new fashion trend?

Breaking News: Bush Mandate Drops From 51 Percent to 26 Percent


Three newspapers. USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, each dated Nov. 4, 2004, just two days after George Bush won his "mandate" with ... 51 percent of the vote? His mandate (as in approval rating) now stands at ... 26 percent.

One more thought, after reading the Wall Street Journal lead above: I'd have been a little more "convinced" about Bush's "convincing" election win following his "momentous" first term if people in the poorer districts of Ohio had less than a 3 hour wait to vote, courtesy the Republican Secretary of State.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shhhh. U.S. News Has Secrets

The new issue of U.S. News & World Report has the Civil War on its cover. That's the U.S. Civil War, not the Civil War in Iraq or any of the other civil or sectarian conflicts that affect millions of people around the globe as I write, many of which are so ill-covered that you could almost call them secrets.

The big headline reads SECRETS OF THE CIVIL WAR: Lincoln's Lost letter, Lee's dark side, the Confederate submarine ...

If I may, I do have a few notes for editor-in-chief Mortimer Zuckerman and all the historians over at U.S. News & World Report:

1. I had heard about the confederate submarine years ago. I'm not so sure it was a secret then, but I'm pretty sure it's not a secret now.

2. Does finding a lost Lincoln letter mean it's a secret? Doesn't it just make it merely newly discovered? And is this more newsworthy than what's (still) going on in Afghanistan or in New Orleans?

3. Gen. Robert Lee had a dark side? Wow -- it must prove he's a member of the human race.

I hope this issue sells well. I understand why people are more interested in reading about (and reporting on) the past rather than the present, given the dismal state of the world (and journalism) today.

I'm looking forward to their future cover stories on the Spanish-American War, the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the presidency of Franklin Pierce, as well as a feature on that new Lillian Gish summer blockbuster. I hear it's a talkie.

Itchy and Scratchy

Little help? Is the above photo one of poison ivy? It was snapped in my yard just moments after I accidentally grabbed a gobful.

... Speaking of poison ivy, there have been reports that the plant is getting more potent, and you can thank global warming because of it. Rising carbon-dioxide levels have been chemically changing the plant, resulting in a more irritating form of the oil that triggers the itchy rash, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal.

In other words, the plant used to be mildly irritating (Elisabeth Hasslebeck, Dustin Hoffman), but now it's extremely irritating (Carrot Top, Tucker Carlson).

I guess I'll find out for sure in about ... 12 hours? I do hope this case of poison ivy doesn't prove to be as irritating as Tucker Carlson.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Five Ways to Get Ralph Off The Radar

Ralph Nader, the man who helped ensure that Al Gore was not president on 9-11, and the same man who effectively helped to ensure that George Bush (in one of his first acts) would reverse everything Al Gore did as vice president on global warming by pulling out of the Kyoto accord, is considering running for president again.

Ralph seems to have a fun hobby: siphening off votes from Democrats so Republicans who are even further away from his ideals get elected and screw up the world. You know, as George Bush has.

We applaud Nader for his past triumphs and activism during, say, the 1970s; now, we want him to go away.

Here are five suggestions for what Nader can do in place of running for president and helping to elect another Republican:

1. Join the cast of Big Brother 8 this summer as the old guy that everybody likes.

2. Participate in board games with friends, family and loved ones.

3. Write a book detailing how Al Gore would have been a much better president than George Bush.

4. Write a book detailing how John Kerry would have been a much better president than George Bush.

5. Take up gardening.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do the Math: Does Crime Pay?

Let's do some math, together. It'll be fun.

The median household income for an American family in 2004 was about $44,400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. How long would it take for this family to accumulate (before taxes) $750,000?

The answer: It would take almost 17 years for this family to amas this much money.

$750,000, by the way, is reportedly the low end of the figure that Paris Hilton may be getting from NBC for the exclusive rights to her first interview after she gets out of jail. Well, that's IF you believe Barbara Walters at ABC. (NYT article here.)

The Hilton family, as well as NBC, denies that any money is changing hands.

I really don't know who to believe, but I tend to think that the real agreement with NBC included some things that NBC News would not like to be made public. When NBC says that they never pay for interviews, I don't believe them for a second. Good Morning America and The Today Show are constantly competing for guests such as the "hiccup girl" or the "bush baby" contestant from American Idol, and do you really think these folks fly to New York for on-set interviews without any compensation?

If The Hilton clan is getting $750K for her appearance on NBC, then this is a pretty nice haul for Paris' 2o or so days of captivity in which she was not allowed to ... wear makeup or look in a mirror.

Life is tough, no?

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Cup of Joe has been enjoying coffee (and beer) in Montreal all this week, but we'll be back *real soon* -- tonight or tomorrow -- with more action-packed coverage of movies, TV, politics and (of course) kittens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Five Least Favorite TV Show Finales

The Five Worst Finales:

1. M*A*S*H. I beg to differ with people who say that the last two seasons of M*A*S*H were horrible. In fact, there were episodes in the final years that were among the wittiest in this show's history. Catch them on repeats some time. I hope you're pleasantly surprised; they are, at times, truly terrific. But not the finale, which wasn't very funny and was the final turning point where this "comedy that also was a drama" became a "drama that was no longer a comedy." And it only got worse with after M*A*S*H, which I've already discussed as among the worst shows in TV history.

2. Seinfeld. The show always made me laugh; the finale didn't. And long before Kramer annoyed America with his racist rants, his Kramer became less and less funny the more he mugged and turned it up way too many notches. Oh well: How could the finale of one of the great comedies in American TV history (and probably the funniest) not disappoint, since so much was expected?

3. Soap. What I think producers were thinking: "Let's set up a bunch of mysteries that jumped the shark and then screw over fans by never airing the show again." Horrible.

4. Twin Peaks. "Let's set up a bunch of mysteries that jumped the shark and then screw over fans with really unfulfilling resolutions." Even more horrible than No. 3.

5. Again, I'm taking reader comments, but let me throw out there Oz (HBO) as my initial pick, because I think the writers took the easy way out. Although my friend (and blog reader) JR will probably applaud the frequent frontal male nudity. Speaking of blog reader JR, rumor has it that when the show aired, he thought it was actually a real prison and volunteered to go to Oz for an undetermined amount of time as restitution for his long history of jay-walking.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Five Favorite TV Series Finales


In light of The Sopranos finale last night, here are my Five Favorite TV series finales of all time.

I was fortunate enough to see each show live the night of its last first-run episode, except for my tentative pick for Number 5, The Fugitive. The night it aired, Aug. 22, 1967, I was too busy soiling my diapers to worry much about what the one-armed man was up to.

Here's my favorites:

1. Newhart. (1990)

2. Mary Tyler Moore Show. (1977)

3. St. Elsewhere. (1988)

4. The Tonight Show (1992)

5. I'm leaning toward The Fugitive (1967). But I'm taking nominations (and reminders) for No. 5 in the comments. After I rewatch the episode, I may even consider .... The Sopranos.

More on The Sopranos Finale

Having just watched the series finale, I have to say that there is only one way that I'd wind up being upset at how The Sopranos finale turned out, and that would only be if they make a movie version.

Last night's ending -- with no "big finish," no deaths in the Soprano family, no jail time, and an intentionally unclear final few seconds -- works just fine with me. It's not a cop-out -- as long as it's not setting up a movie.

The viewers did not get whacked last night.

The producers do not tell us explicity what's going to happen to these characters. Rather, like a poem or short story, they leave it to our imaginations, giving us just enough information and clues about what is going to happen in the near future, while also setting a chilling mood that terror and ruin are just around the corner. Is somebody in the restaurant about to kill Tony? What happens after Meadow goes through the door? Who is that guy sitting at the counter? What about the person lurking about who just went to the bathroom?

My conclusion from the final scene is that Tony is headed to jail (if he's not about to get shot by the guy at the counter) and that his family will continue to live a life of paranoia, not knowing whether that suspicious looking guy in the next booth is just a random stranger, or someone else ready to inflict a brutal "Leotardo-like" (and "Tony-like") act.

In Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, you never see a knife enter Janet Lee's body during the famous shower scene. But your mind fills in the blanks, and the result is terrifying.

The Sopranos is over, and I hope they never shoot one additional minute of film about this family.

It's time for you to fill in the blanks. That's all, folks.

My Five Favorite Paris Hilton Quote 'Re-Writes'

Ms. Hilton, 26, wearing no makeup and with her hair disheveled, sobbed and screamed, Mom, this isn’t right,” as she was taken from the packed courtroom by deputies.

This is from the New York Times on Saturday, and "this" is what I'm interested in. And by "this" I mean, quite literally, "this."

Just exactly what is Paris referring to when she uses the pronoun "this"? It could refer back to many things.

I'm going to a stab at what Paris Hilton really meant by "this" by replacing the pronoun with what she could have been talking about in this quote.

1. "Mom, being famous for really doing nothing and having no talent isn't right."

2. "Mom, never having to work a day in my life isn't right."

3. "Mom, that cloying look I give the paparozzi when they take my picture isn't right."

4. "Mom, the media pay more attention to me than they do the War in Iraq and it isn't right."

5. "Mom, I'm a household name because I made a porn video and it isn't right."

The Sopranos Finale

Having just watched the series finale, I have to say that there is only one way that I'd wind up being upset at how The Sopranos finale turned out, and that would only be if --


Friday, June 08, 2007

People I Don't Feel Sorry For

1. Paris Hilton.

2. Scooter Libby.

Nobody feels very sorry for Paris, I have to say, except for Paris herself, and whoever it was who decided to free her from Lynwood Century Regional Detention Center.

The same can't be said for Scooter Libby. For example, in today's Wall Street Journal, there's a maudlin piece on Libby called "Fallen Soldier" in which the writer basically pleads President Bush to give this patriot, this hero, this all-star American, this genuine mensch, this "fallen soldier," a pardon. The author writes:
In "The Soldier's Creed," there is a particularly compelling principle: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." This is a cherished belief, and it has been so since soldiers and chroniclers and philosophers thought about wars and great, common endeavors ... Scooter Libbry was there for the beginning of that campaign. [The Iraq War]. He can't be left behind as a casualty of a war our country had once proudly claimed as its own."
I'm offended by this on about 20 different levels. But those who truly should be offended are the families of the 3,504 dead Americans who truly are "fallen soliders" in this war, not to mention the women and children Iraqi civilians who also are dead.

To compare their ultimate sacrifice with Scooter Libby is, to me, nothing short of obscene.

Scooter Libby, the man who helped sell us on a disastrous war that never should have happened, is no "fallen soldier."

Birthday Present Advice Sought

Today, a friend of mine will be celebrating his 40th birthday. Although he's requested that nobody give him any presents, I'm not going to listen.

But I need YOUR help.

I'm proposing that my friend, now that he's going to be in his 40s, step out of his comfort zone and embrace a new, happenin' wardrobe, something decidely different from his current wardrobe of white tennis shoes and beer-related T-shirts.

So, I ask my readers: Which item(s) should I get him from the International Male catalog -- the Officer's Dress Jacket ($139, below) or the Carribean Silk Shirt and Pant Set with the Pirate Drawstrings ($29 and $39, respectively, at right).

Happy Flag Day

I am so blessed to have such thoughtful friends. For example, I just received in the mail recently my first Flag Day greeting card for 2007.

I'm glad I got mine early, because it was a good reminder that I only have six more days to get my own Flag Day cards out to friends, family and loved ones.

Party on 'Merica!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Industries Start to Go Limp

These are sad days for the American newspaper, as it faces declining revenue and new free competition on the internet that's making its advertising model less and less relevant. LINK.

These are sad says for the American porn industry, as it faces declining revenue and new free competition on the internet that's making its advertising model less and less relevant. LINK.

Gay Prostitute Loved Bush

Did you know that Mike Jones, the gay escort who outed preacher Ted Haggard last fall, actually voted for George Bush in the last election?

You did if you read Deborah Solomon's interview with Jones yesterday in the New York Times Sunday magazine.

It still makes my head spin when I think that more of my gay friends (although a decided minority) vote Republican more often than my straight friends do.

How in the world could the gay-baiting Karl Rove Republicans convince so many Friends of Dorothy that it'd actually be a good idea to re-elect a man who was more than happy to make gay-marriage-bashing a central part of his re-election strategy?

I'm shuddering.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Scratching Bush: Conservatives Get The 7-Year Itch

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom -- a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.
The first thing I always read in the Saturday Wall Street Journal is Peggy Noonan's column. Noonan is the conservative and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who writes so beautifully, even at times when I find her thoughts and conclusions (draped in such a lovely use of language) kind of horrifying.

But we have found a point of agreement in her column yesterday, dubbed "Too Bad."

Noonan, the staunch and predictable conservative, uses extraordinary words in "Too Bad" in which she essentially bitch-slaps President George Bush, slamming Bush in even stronger terms than what Jimmy Carter used a few weeks ago in calling Bush the worst president in history. But she doesn't just stop with W, or Bush the Lesser. She also has to throw in how the President's father -- Bush the Greater -- also was, well, a fuck-up who betrayed conservative principles.

In her column she admits she started growing weary of Bush in January 2005, she writes how "this White House thinks its base is stupid" and compares conservative Bush supporters to battered women:
For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad!
And what I also think is "too bad" -- tragic, really -- is that it took some conservatives seven years to figure this out.