A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar! (2012)

The Oscars are over for another year, and much like the Christmas season, the actual event is over in a matter of hours after months of preparation, practice, rehearsals, haggling, and campaigning. The awards have been unwrapped and a lucky few went home smiling as they grasped their statuary honors, while many others went home probably in tears. Oh well, that’s the way the votes tallied. Or, as now three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep said, “Whatever...”

A lot of catty hash has been made in the blogosphere about the ceremony overall. Yes, the results were predictable, and the evening held very few surprises. So, yes, in that respect the 84th Academy Awards was fairly dull, but let’s be fair: it was a comfortable dull. Billy Crystal hosted for the ninth time and didn’t disappoint the in-house crowd with his usual musical montage incorporating the titles from all of the best picture nominees, or his quips about bankrupt photography companies. As for the at-home crowd...well, judging from the remarks in the blog universe, you can’t win them all, Billy!

As usual, the most notable highlights of the celebration had nothing to do with the awards. JLo ensured that she would be the talk around water coolers all over the world the next morning with her plunging neckline (or should that be plunging belly button) gown that left little to the imagination. Her left peeking areole nearly made her the next poster child for a crackdown on broadcast indecency by the FCC. Please don’t misunderstand my comments: I’m not complaining.

Later, Angelina Jolie came out as a presenter, and stood at the podium so that all could admire her long, long leg as it stuck out from a gown slit that was so long that it could have met JLo’s nipple. The message was clear: Angelina would not be upstaged by anyone's breast! You go girl! Show JLo who's boss! Again, I’m not complaining.

Another part of the comfortable dullness was Woody Allen’s continuing boycott of the awards ceremonies, even though the Academy clearly shows their affection for him by occasionally giving him a statue. This year was for best original screenplay for Midnight in Paris. I have to wonder: since Allen doesn’t show up, then does his allotted acceptance speech time get parceled out and divided amongst everyone else? Anyway, who’s the poor schmuck who gets stuck with the nerve-wracking job of counting every second of every speech? Oh right, the stage manager or some assistant to the stage manager.

The only abusers of the speech time limit were the winners for the documentary awards. These dudes droned on and on, even after one of them allegedly dropped the f-bomb, which is the only way anyone could upstage JLo’s nipple tease. Seriously, guys, you need to observe Oscar protocol. Take the hint to close your remarks when the assistant director waves his finger in a circular fashion to “wrap it up”. You should be on your last sentence of your speech when the orchestra starts playing your exit music. You should shut up and turn to walk off stage when they cut your microphone off (as they did to you guys). If you’re still babbling when Billy Crystal walks over with steam coming from his ears, then you’ve had fair warning. At that point, may God have mercy on your souls.

Christopher Plummer had the classiest speech of the evening when he accepted his Best Actor award. He acknowledged his fellow nominees, including “dear Max” (von Sydow), which I believe is a line he hasn’t used since he played Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music (not mucus). In case you’ve forgotten, I’m referring to Richard Haydn’s role of Max Detweiler from that 1965 musical. Now do you get it? Okay, never mind!

Octavia Spencer’s tearful acceptance for her best supporting actress award is an Oscar moment that will be long remembered. The Academy loves spontaneous outbursts of emotion. Now that Octavia has had her moment, we’ll probably never hear from her again. Honestly, there have been a number of African American Oscar winners in more recent years than ever, but they fade away quickly and seldom get the starring roles that everyone believes they should get. So for every Halle Berry and Angela Bassett, there may be hundreds of actors and actresses still waiting for their big break. Yet hasn’t that always been the case?

Another highlight was the appropriately dry humor of Christopher Guest’s stock company of Second City alumni recreating a focus group circa 1939, critiquing The Wizard of Oz. Only Fred Willard was immediately recognizable as a film-goer obsessed with monkeys. The other members of the cast were hidden under heavy makeup, but managed to convey the random fickleness of the general population when it comes to determining what does and doesn’t work in the film industry.

This year’s Oscars posed a problem: only two songs competing for best song. In past Oscar shows, each Best Song nominee was performed with a full production number; this year, the nominated tunes didn’t even get that privilege. Answer: bring on the acrobats! The Cirque du Soleil interpretive tumbling as a tribute to filmgoers was interesting, but at a film awards ceremony it stuck out like a sore thumb. Yes, it was a special one-time performance, but its presence perplexed viewers everywhere.

The biggest non-surprise was The Artist capturing most of the major awards: Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Most of the predictions for this award were moot given the number of other awards the film garnered before the Oscar ceremony, but also due to their falling into the Francophile theme of the film industry this year. Please note: The Artist, French financed with French actors in the major roles; Scorsese’s Hugo, set in Paris, took most of the technical awards; and Woody Allen’s connection to France is self explanatory. Do you see a trend? I sure do!

As much as I loved The Artist, I certainly hope that the rest of the industry doesn’t try to cash in on this trend. I do not want to see any more silent films being made. The Artist was a one-shot novelty, not so much as in what was told, but how it was told. Much like Hugo - which was released with 3-D cinematography - these best picture nominees showed more interest in displaying how the story unfolded than in the story itself.

Another trend I have noticed, and one which I want to discourage (unless huge amounts of money are offered), is using moi as a barometer of what next year’s best picture will be. I saw one film last year: The King’s Speech. It won Best Picture. This year I’ve seen one film: The Artist. Coincidence? Do you see a trend? I sure do!

(Thank you for reading! Watch next year’s Oscars when JLo and Angelina Jolie perform a bout of interpretive mud wrestling in a tribute to film projectionists. Fred Willard will referee.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Washington Nationals Follies

Spring training has barely begun and many tickets for the season are already sold out. We know, because once again we tried to get tickets to see the Fightin’ Phils play at home, but the picking was already sparse. I’m not referring to good seats, I’m talking about finding any two seats, together, side-by-side, in the same row, within the same section at Citizens Bank Park. It can’t be done!

I know that this is a pitfall to the Phillies recent run of successful seasons. I’ve lost count of how many consecutive sold out games the Bank has seen since it opened, but no matter. I’ll most likely be reminded of it by the radio commentators when we tune in to the first home game of the season. Yes, these are the golden days for the Phillies franchise – for players, fans and management.

On the other hand, there is one club that hasn’t been quite as successful in recent years. Indeed, one report states that they only sell 60% of their tickets. Despite this monetary un-success, this team feels confident enough to discourage baseball fans from coming to their home games. The management of the Washington Nationals franchise has instituted a ticket selling plan which seeks to keep certain visiting team fans from inundating their beloved Nationals Park. Nationals management has actually displayed the cojones to name the baseball fans they want to keep out, namely, Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Seriously, guys, there are quicker ways of driving your business into the ground...

Apparently, the Nationals owners have determined that Philadelphia sports fans are undesirable and they are tired of seeing so many Phillies fans in their stadium. They must also be tired of selling enough tickets to meet their payroll or turn a profit. Their Take Back the Park movement will only allow tickets for visiting Phillies games to people who reside in zip codes surrounding the metropolitan Washington area.

There are several problems with this action — aside from the obvious and odious stench of discrimination rising from it. The action is flawed and may not prevent Phillies fans from purchasing tickets to the Nationals games. Who’s to say that there are absolutely no Phillies fans living in Maryland or Northern Virginia? Anne Marie and I lived in Springfield (VA) for years, and we were always Phillies fans.

Unfortunately, at the time we lived there, professional baseball was non-existent in the District. The closest professional baseball game was a substantial train ride away in Baltimore.

As far as Philadelphia sports fans being undesirable, I would admit that we do have a reputation for being overly rowdy. We have had one tragic incident in which a group of fans tanked up on beer beat another fan to death in the parking lot, and a second incident where another obnoxious drunk puked on a young girl. The owners of the Philadelphia sports teams have gone to great lengths to ensure that these ASSHOLES (caps mine) never sully a Philadelphia sports venue with their presence ever again. So yes, we do have problems, but those bad apples are very, very few among the many fans that root for the Phillies.

I would not mind attending a game at Nationals Park sometime in the future — when I have more money to spend on such things. I’ve heard some very nice things about this venue, being one of the latest of a string of newer stadiums built for major league baseball during the last 20 years or so. For the time being, however, I am content to travel as far as...Baltimore to see a Phillies game. The Orioles’ Camden Yards is another place I’ve been wanting to see, and this year my wish will be fulfilled.

Besides, going to a game at Nationals Park raises the probability that I’ll have to sit next to some snobbed up, ultra-right wing pundit like Charles Krauthammer! Ewwww! This thought scares the major league overpriced beer out of me!

So, Washington Nationals, go ahead and ban us, ban our money, forgo the chance to make your team profitable, and thereby build up a team which will win games. Winning games will bring more fans to your stadium, and with it more profits for your team and the league. I repeat, seriously there are quicker ways of running your business into the ground.

(Thank you for reading! Hey Phillies, we’ll see you in Charm City!)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Snort Notes – February 2012


I just love it when these blog entries write themselves. Honestly, I don’t even have to knock my head against a wall thinking of a punch line. (Fear not, blog readers! I will admit now that I have never committed acts of physical violence on myself just to think of a funny ending. Or maybe you already realized that?) It’s already there in the text of the story. “Ah, sweet irony of life, at last I’ve found you...”


The backlash from a variety of religious leaders (coincidentally, many of them Roman Catholic) and Republican congressional leaders forced Obama to modify his requirement as part of a comprehensive health care policy. To be fair, Obama’s critics had a point, but only up to a certain point. They argued that this requirement was another example of government over-reaching, yet they don’t view an amendment outlawing abortion as over-reaching into the private lives of women. Boys and girls, ladies and gentleman, welcome to blatant hypocrisy theater!

Obama’s critics could have struck an ironic tone (see HEART ATTACK above) in their objections and claimed that his rule violated the separation of church and state. This would have been ironic because these same critics spend much of their time battling against this constitutional interpretation of sacred and secular separation with repeated attempts to inject their sense of morality into legislation. Curses, conservative movement! You may have won this round, but the liberal left will not slink quietly into the night.


Santorum has voiced so many loopy, narrow-minded pronouncements on the campaign trail that I hardly know where to begin. It’s like whenever I go to a Chinese buffet — do I start with the cold salad area, or go right for the hot dishes. Do I delve into the sweet and sour ethnocentric mud of his condemnation of Obama’s religious beliefs? Today’s controversy du jour quotes Santorum as calling out the President for following a “phony theology”.

Or do I bite into his earlier very hot General Tso’s chicken observation that a major Democratic Party voting bloc comprises single mothers? Whatever will you do to solve this crisis, Rick? Marry all the single mothers off and require them to register Republican?

Or do I take a chance on the indigestible dim sum chicken feet ear marks criticism leveled at him by Mitt Romney (remember him?)? At this point, I feel like I should issue a fair warning to the ladies: if Santorum gets into the White House, there is a very good chance that American women will spend their time kissing...kissing all their rights goodbye! Oh, I have no factual basis for this claim, but when it comes to making outrageously, negative comments on political candidates then why should Fox News and conservative Republicans have all the fun?

Speaking of Republicans having fun...


I believe I can say, on behalf of a grateful nation, and to paraphrase the words of Jim Nabors’ most famous character (Gomer Pyle), “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

The debate was in trouble as soon as Romney and Santorum declined to participate, and apparently nobody bothered to ask Ron Paul what his plans were because his name didn’t even come up in the press stories. That left Newt Gingrich to debate himself! Can you imagine what a circus that would have been? A full hour of Newt Gingrich taking on...Newt Gingrich?

Could it be that the Republican nominees have concluded they have run out of things to say? They have thrown barbs back and forth about offshore taxes, earmarks, health care reform, what they would to get Americans working again, what they would do about taxes...and the convention isn’t even until August!

Perhaps they should just make up items to debate and argue about just for the sake of debate. After all, at least one of them will eventually have to take on President Obama in the fall before the actual election. They might as well keep their chops up and hone their skills as it were for the big show.

So about what can they debate? Perhaps they can totally go off the charts and argue various facets about, oh, let’s see, I know! The Three Stooges! For example, “Mr. Gingrich, who do you think was funnier, Curly or Shemp?” Or “Mr. Romney, with your business background, do you believe you could have managed the team’s business affairs any better than Moe did in real life?” Or "Mr. Santorum, would you have approved an earmark for Larry to start tutoring inner city children on playing the violin?” And, of course, the big question for all of them, “Gentlemen, where do you stand on the spelling of Curly’s name: with an 'e' or without?"

As a matter of fact, it was the monthly open house at the Stoogeum this weekend. Thank you for asking! Not that any of the Republican candidates bothered to show up...

(Thank you for reading. Payroll tax raise countdown amended. Payroll taxes may rise in ten months and ten days.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Artist

The art of motion pictures seems to undergo a revolution every 30 years or so. In the 1920s, movies learned to talk; the 1950s saw a brief fling with projection effects (Vistavision and 3-D) before conceding some of its influence to its upstart little brother, television. The success of one science fiction franchise enabled the entire industry to develop new cinematographic and sound effects in the 1980s with the parallel development of computers. Now another revolution is reviving 3-D for a more permanent place in the film industry.

Throughout all of these revolutions, the main component of filmmaking — the soul of the artist — endured. In 1927 Hollywood, the eve of the first revolution, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a swashbuckling hero in the mold of Douglas Fairbanks. With his faithful Jack Russell terrier by his side, he is at the top of his game as he subdues villains, rescues damsels, and rides off into the sunset via sports car and biplane. He is adored by millions, and he becomes smitten when one of those millions, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), accidently bumps into him just as the newspaper cameras record the premiere festivities of his latest cinematic triumph. The accident becomes a media sensation which aspiring Hollywood extra Peppy parlays into a film career. Unbeknownst to George, this triumph will be his last for a while.

It is a story as old as Hollywood itself. It is a story of the parallel lives of two human beings as they further their respective careers: one going down, the other going up during the traumatic time when the industry had to - like it or not - stand up on its primitive legs and begin to talk. Valentin does not like it. In fact, he sneers at the coming technology. Unfortunately for him, the march of progress will not be denied, and he gets left behind in his silent world. In the process, he alienates his fans and everyone around him; in a clever sight gag, even his shadow walks out on him!

The Artist can be cliché ridden, but fortunately it is about a time period in Hollywood history that has attained a romanticism of mythic proportions. At the time, cliché’s were still conventions and not perceived as moldy. For instance, there is a scene depicting the two leads meeting on the stairs inside the movie studio. Valentin has just walked out of the studio boss’s office and his prediction that sound films are here to stay. Valentin (and his career) descends the staircase, while the studio’s newly signed starlet, Peppy (and her career), ascends the stairs. His gait is pathos ridden, while she strides with the youthful exuberance of a promising future. Indeed, she takes the time to blow a farewell kiss his way.

Valentin’s personal life suffers as well. His spouse (Penelope Ann Miller), contemptuous of him from the get-go, gradually loses all respect and affection for him as his career declines into ruin. The deterioration of their marriage is denoted in a montage of breakfast scenes, giving a nod to a similar scene in Citizen Kane. (Another apparent in-joke is John Goodman’s portrayal of the studio boss, recalling the haughty demeanor of 1930s character actor Eugene Pallette, with mannerisms resembling Chaplin’s early on-screen nemesis Eric Campbell.)

As the story unspools Valentin’s fall, the cinematic conventions abound. His marriage and career gone, he walks the harsh streets of Hollywood (real Hollywood), while a theater marquee nearby telegraphs his dilemma as it advertises a film called “Lonely Star”. Meanwhile, Peppy watches him from her car, just after she has (unknowingly to him) bought (by proxy) all of his possessions. Her current screen triumph at this point of the story is splashed on another marquee: “Guardian Angel”.

Conventions, clichés, whatever! The Artist succeeds because it has chosen to tell the industry's trauma of technological change by actually taking the audience through the change. It is not a totally silent film; more accurately, it is 95% talky free. It celebrates the wonderfulness of silent films in our very noisy 21st century.

It is a valentine from those who love movies to those of us who have loved movies since, well, since before many of us learned how to talk ourselves. And, of course, it has the tried and true sentimental Hollywood ending. Rest assured, Valentin is rescued from his self loathing and descent into destruction by fire — never underestimate the resourcefulness of a Jack Russell terrier — only to be redeemed as a song and dance man in the newly tweaked film industry.

The Artist has garnered world-wide accolades from critics and is poised to do well in the current awards season. Over the weekend, the British equivalent of the Oscars gave The Artist its highest honors, even as America mourned the untimely loss of pop diva Whitney Houston. This is not to say that the British are insensitive to rapidly changing events. My comparison may seem off-base, but hear me out (no pun intended). Both the fictional Valentin and the very real Houston both understood the age old show business maxim. No matter what their personal trials and tragedies may be, they realized that the show always must go on.

And their souls — silent or otherwise — endure...

(Thank you for reading! And no, children, you cannot have a Jack Russell terrier for Easter!)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In Memory of Aunt Mary

It’s only seven weeks or so into the new year and already I want out! I am so tired of 2012; I wish we could fast forward to 2013 now. My reasons are varied.

First, there is the ongoing Romney Gingrich Barnum and Bailey Flying Circus, which only has six months or so to go. Six months! That’s an eternity in political pundit years! Sad, but true, GOP, you will have to make up your mind who you want to run against Obama by the time you hold your convention in late August. Are you feeling the pressure yet?

I am also emotionally worn down by the number of people I have known who have passed away so far this year. It started with a member of Anne Marie’s knitting group in late December. The following week my cousin lost his wife suddenly. The next weekend our neighbor, Earl Wagner, died in a hospice. Anne Marie and I were on our way to his viewing when we got word that my Aunt Mary had passed on. Since then, there has been a fellow cardiac patient in my cardio rehab session die, and last week, my Uncle Hugh’s roommate at the Towne Manor rehab facility passed away.

For those of you keeping score at home, and I don’t know why you would, that makes six people that I have known die in the space of six weeks. I’ve never had these naturally occurring events happen so quickly so close together before in my life. Unfortunately, I guess it is inevitable as I and all of those around me grow older.

Now this rumination on exhaustion with the year and life in general will make a sharp Coen Brothers-style left turn and become a memorial for my aunt, Marybelle Welsh. The weather is keeping us from attending her memorial service today. So, while my cousins celebrate her life and catch up with their own (one of them is traveling in from Indiana), I can at least write a few of my many memories of Aunt Mary.

My oldest recollection of Aunt Mary happened in 1965. Her children, Richie and Paula, had taken me to a matinee at the Ellis Theater on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. Feature film lengths were shorter back then, which enabled them to show two films for the price of one admission. For those of you who were born after 1970, such a program was called a “double feature”. Of course this is different now with multiplexes, where you can pay for one film and sneak in and out of the other theaters at will, or until you get caught. Of course, you didn’t get that idea from me...but I digress.

The first film of the double feature started and it was set in a circus, a nice happy setting which should satisfy the entertainment quota for any five year old. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a chance to appreciate the film's story. In one of the early scenes, a hideous-looking creature appeared on the screen shrieking at the audience. The sight scared the hell out of me, and I made sure that the theater full of children and their parents knew that I was frightened out of my wits. I screamed and started bawling. My cousins couldn’t quiet me down. I don’t know how long I sat there crying, because the next thing I knew I was standing in the lobby with the theater manager and Aunt Mary. (Side note to today’s parents: this is how they dealt with noisy children in public places in the past. The children were removed from the public place, until said child quieted down or cried itself to death, whichever came first.)

In my case, Aunt Mary - who I don’t know to this day if she had been in the theater the whole time, or was called from home to come get me — asked me if I was okay. Yes, I said, calm again and having shed every tear in my system. She then asked, “Do you want to stay to see the movie?” Yes, I said, now looking forward to the second film on the bill: The Outlaws Is Coming, starring my favorite actors at the time, The Three Stooges. This is how I can accurately place this incident as happening in 1965.

Anyway the story ends happily. I got to see The Three Stooges, the horrible creature I saw had left the screen (I later figured out the “creature” was actually a woman wearing a mud pack on her face. What the hell did I know? I was five years old at the time.), and I guess my cousins got to enjoy the rest of their day. As for the theater management, they went to great lengths to stop small children from ever again crying during their shows when, years later, they converted the theater to an adult only venue. Okay, I can’t really say for sure that they started showing x-rated films because of weak-hearted children like me, but some events are too much for the realm of coincidence.

As for Aunt Mary, she went home, where she raised three of the finest human beings I have ever known. I will always remember the hospitality she showed everyone who came to her home. We had many fun times together, including when I stayed with her for three weeks in the summer of 1975. Part of her hospitality was the great food she introduced to me and my brother. Because of her, we have to have her version of macaroni salad (with tuna) in the summer and New Years Eve is not complete without French onion soup chip dip on the table.

This is how I will remember Aunt Mary: always there when you needed her, and always ready to share the joys of life.

Rest in Peace, Aunt Mary.

(Thank you for reading. Only 17 days until payroll taxes go up...AND only 8 days until Phillies pitchers & catchers report for spring training!)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Is Fox News Brainwashing People to Be Stupid?

I realize that the Republican primary season is going full steam ahead to its acrimonious conclusion, and another American football season has been put to bed, but today there is a more serious topic that deserves our attention. It has come to our attention that the cowardly, right-wing media has reared its very ugly head and spit its venom at America’s most beloved and consistently successful entertainers. The attack from Fox News was so shocking and profound, that the entertainers themselves called a news conference to refute the horrific allegations.

No, I am not speaking about Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Please note, I said “entertainers”. I’m speaking about America’s most lovable Muppets, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

It was obviously a slow news week at Fox — unemployment rates were sliding downward, so how could they complain that Obama was mishandling the economy? One Fox commentator — his remarks were so foul, that I do not feel it is worth my time to research his name — questioned the fact that the villain in the latest Muppet movie was an oil tycoon. Surely, this alleged journalist reasoned, the portrayal of this energy company executive was a thinly veiled attack on our capitalist system. He also wondered if perhaps the Muppets were brainwashing America’s movie-going children that capitalism is bad.

Incensed and insulted, the frog and the pig pounced! In a taped news release which went viral on the Internet, our beloved Muppets rose to the challenge and deftly responded to their critic’s accusations. Their responses were fabulous, but really, do we expect anything less from them than fabulousness?

Although the Muppet stars may believe they have handled the controversy, the whole episode still begs the question about Fox News’ motives. Surely they could not truly believe that their angle on this story would warrant a Congressional investigation into what is in reality — and I should issue a spoiler alert here, but I won’t — a pair of creatures made out of terrycloth and button eyes which were perhaps made by the tiny hands of Chinese children exploited by their faux communist masters. Why then did they raise this silly issue at all? This begs the question I pose at the top. Does Fox think so little of its viewer’s intelligence that they would stoop to such depths of reportage when there are so many other issues which need to be raised?

Aside from the free publicity the initial report, the Muppet press conference, the outrage expressed in the media including blogs like this one might have generated, Fox could not have gained anything else from this episode. Were they seeking a rise in their status as a serious news gathering organization? Please don’t make me laugh!

Granted there may be some unexplained lapses of events in the Muppets collective past. Certainly we’ve all heard the rumors (which I just now made up) recounting how Kermit took a course in Russian history while a freshman at the University of Maryland, or how Miss Piggy once did a one-pig show about Emma Goldman called Red Emma Tonight! Still these rumors, true or not, do not necessarily make them communist sympathizers, “fellow travelers” in McCarthy Era parlance, or even anti-capitalists.

The fact is, dear Fox, is that the portrayal of a captain of industry as a bad guy who seems indifferent to the sufferings of the workers is a literary tradition that goes back centuries. Witness: the character of the banker Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Or what about the villain pursuing conquest of the heroine’s honor if she doesn’t pay the mortgage in any number of melodramas performed on this country’s stages during the 19th century? Could this usually caped antagonist with top hat and very long, twirlable, handle-bar mustache have been a shoe cobbler? No, I say no! He was a money changer; a commodities lender not necessarily corrupted by the economic system itself, but rather by an old-fashioned aspect of human nature called greed.

Then there is The Simpsons.

This series is perhaps the most successful show on the Fox News sister network. For the better part of 20 years, millions have laughed at the antics of its villain — the uber rich J. Montgomery Burns. His character’s ambivalent attitude towards his workers hopes and dreams is borne out by his clichéd stinginess that he believes will preserve his financial self worth and well being. This is an attitude that is worthy of belittling for satirical purposes. This is a character that has been portrayed many times in the Christian-Judeo tradition. Granted the basic motivation for such portrayals may be envy on the part of the have-nots, but this still shouldn’t dissuade us from ridiculing one of the most pathetic facets of human nature.

The oil executives, the bankers, or even the entertainment moguls who use sock puppets to express their point of view are not the enemies. Greed is the villain that can affect all these business types. It is the great spoiler of many economic theories created and experimented with throughout the world.

In this regard, the two largest competing economic theories — capitalism and communism — share one trait. Both are capable of bringing out the worst in human nature. Capitalists can pursue their wealth so passionately that they can be insensitive to the sufferings of those who are not as well off. Communist leaders, likewise, succumb to greed and its companion corruption, resulting in their ascension to becoming tyrants and dictators over the people they profess to be benevolent towards. In both economic theories, the possibility that a master/slave relationship can be created is very real.

And you thought this was going to be about sock puppets! Now don’t you feel silly?

(Thank you for reading. Please note: my use of the word “fabulousness” does not automatically make me gay. So piss off, Santorum!)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

An Open Letter from Punxsutawney Phil

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this blog was inaugurated in 2006, we’ve featured the adventures of Punxsutawney Phil — of Groundhog Day fame — in several entries. Well, featured or abused his good name and reputation, whatever, it’s all the same to us. This year, the management of arteejee has graciously allowed Phil himself to write a rebuttal.

Good morning, exploiters and other humans!

By the time you read this, I will have already been summoned by powers beyond my comprehension to give my annual forecast about the end of winter. Will it be six more weeks of ice and cold, or an early thaw? Actually, that’s a trick question this year because it’s been a very mild winter in my part of the country. In fact, the temperatures have been more like late summer/early fall than the dead of winter. As I see it, winter hasn’t even begun! So we can probably rule out the idea that I will predict an early thaw.

Actually, I never know what I’m going to predict. They lay down two scrolls in front of me, and they pick up whichever one towards which my nose gravitates. I don’t get it, but it’s a system that works for them. Also, I never know what the scrolls say. Spoiler alert: I don’t get final script approval! Imagine that, and I’m supposed to be the prognosticator!

Of course I’m overwhelmed by the adoring fans that come out early on February 2 to see me. I love them all, really I do, but (as this blog noted earlier) I’m rudely awakened in the middle of my mid-winter nap. I’m groggy as hell, I’m not dressed, there’s dirt in my fur, my claws are long, and I’m badly in need of a pedicure! I’m just not at my best at 7:00a, on February 2! Yet my fans understand and love me just for being me. Thank you, fans!

As for the rest of you blog writers who take aim at my yearly ritual — either with words or bullets — I can only say that you have blown it all out of proportion. My life isn’t quite the cushy Life of Reilly that you make it out to be. Spoiler alert: my life is nothing like the Bill Murray comedy where he gets Andie McDowell in the end and I end up in the fiery wreckage of a pick-up truck at the bottom of a quarry. Thank Hog it’s nothing like that! Actually, my life isn’t even close to a Bill Murray comedy set in Pennsylvania that, incidentally, wasn’t even filmed in Pennsylvania! Let me tell you, the local Chamber of Commerce was sore about that for a long time.

Full disclosure: my life is comfortable. Fact is, I’m not yanked out of my burrow early in the morning. Rather, I am spirited away under heavy escort the night before from my South Beach condo. That’s where I live the rest of the year, fans! Now you know!

My life is okay. I lead an active hedonistic lifestyle in Florida. For instance, last winter John Bolaris and I went cruising the Miami strip for a couple of Russian chicks...


As the attorney representing Mr. Phil, I must advise this blog to cease and desist publication of this faux letter immediately. My client has assured me that he has not agreed to write or otherwise disseminate any information about his work, his career, or his personal life. I maintain that my client may suffer irreparable harm to his reputation if this blog continues to publish its scurrilous and cowardly lies about Mr. Phil.


Wilkes-Barre Willie the Weasel
Woodchuck, Weasel, Ferret, Whistlepig and Santorum

EDITOR’S NOTE – So much for graciousness!

(Thank you for reading! On an unrelated note, only 26 days until everyone’s payroll taxes go up! Party now while the partying is good!)