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 27, 2013

Oscar Night: Celebrating Our Shallow Culture Since 1927

Thank God the Oscars happened at the beginning of the week. Otherwise, the Internet would having nothing more to talk about this week than oncoming sequester and all of its economic doomsday scenarios. Fortunately, we the American people are so bored with the topic. Even George Will thinks so, and if George Will thinks so, then it must be true.

New Oscar host Seth McFarlane did not disappoint his critics, the same critics who began demonizing his performance weeks before he even set foot on the stage. But before we get to his controversial performance, which many agree was ugly, let’s celebrate the good things that happened this year.

Oscar did not show favorites this year; several multi-nominated films garnered only one or two statuettes, as opposed to a clean sweep. This gave the evening several of its many surprises during the show. Another high: Shirley Bassey’s triumphant full length version of Goldfinger capped off an otherwise lackluster musical tribute to the James Bond franchise. I could recognize the James Bond Theme and Live and Let Die in the medley, yet such beautiful tunes as You Only Live Twice, We Have All the Time in the World (from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Nobody Does It Better (from The Spy Who Loved Me) were notably absent. Another highlight: Barbra Streisand’s moving tribute to Marvin Hamlisch. First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcing the Best Picture Award.


The last surprise of the evening: First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcing the Best Picture Award. No doubt AM radio talk show hatemeisters harped on this latest evidence of collusion between “liberal” Hollywood and the Obama Administration on the morning after, but what else would they talk about? The sequester? Oh, right, we’re bored with that. So much for the high; let’s move onto the ugly.

McFarlane was not the first choice to host the Oscars this year. As creator and producer of television's irreverent animated show Family Guy, he is not considered an ideal host for such honorary duties. I believe he decided to play up to these expectations with his one-liners and a nearly half-hour opening that involved Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk coaching him to improve his performance from a future time.

The captain showed that McFarlane would prove his critics correct with a performance of a song called “We Saw Your Boobs”, with its lyrics mentioning the more memorable nude breast shots made by Hollywood’s best and brightest actresses in the last ten years or so. The performance was disingenuous: McFarlane had to have known that his audience would expect something this irreverent from him. Its performance within a framing device of Captain Kirk waving a fatherly, “No, no” finger at him was meant (I can only assume) to make it more palatable for the masses. In the end, it didn’t work:  the song has been condemned for its sexist nature by just about everyone who can tap out their opinions on a computer keyboard.

The “Boobs” song was interspersed with footage of the actresses named in the song reacting to the lyrics from their seats. The reactions ranged from a mixture of boredom and disgust (Charlize Theron) to jaw-dropped amazement (Naomi Watts). I believe the reactions were pre-recorded. Within a moment of the song’s end, McFarlane called on Theron and Channing Tatum to dance onstage while he sang a song to redeem himself in front of millions of viewers. In her seat, Theron was wearing a dress with a black strap; onstage she was in a long flowing white number with moves that momentarily challenged Ginger Rogers' legacy. Hardly a performance from an actress who only a moment before had daggers shooting from her eyes; unless, of course, both were performances.

Many in the theater audience did laugh at the song, but many more watching at home did not. I was more bemused than amused, partly because I did not get all the references McFarlane made, partly because I was shocked that he had the cojones to perform the song on prime time television (as opposed to later at night on a cable outlet), but mainly because my mouth was full of kettle cooked (reduced fat) potato chips and onion dip. Believe me, if the song had activated my gag reflex and prompted me to do a spit take, the resulting design on our tiled basement floor would have been a colorful mélange of gray, yellow, and brown.

There, I’ve now out-grossed anything Seth McFarlane did at the Oscars.

The song may have been inappropriate for the hour, addressed certain hypocrisies about our society, struck many as just not funny and in questionable taste, but it was probably preferable to McFarlane standing on stage and shouting to the entire world: “Welcome to the annual celebration of our shallow culture.” You may not want to believe our culture is this bad, but think about this: how many blogs, newspaper articles, television, and radio news stories the next day devoted time and space to Anne Hathaway’s nipples peaking (or peeking) through her dress as she sashayed down the red carpet…and compare it to the number of stories analyzing Daniel Day-Lewis’ acceptance speech.

Enough said!

(Thank you for reading! Acceptance speech? What acceptance speech?)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snort Bites – February 2013


Pope Benedict started everyone’s Monday morning off on a strange foot recently when the Vatican announced that he was stepping down at the end of February. Understandably, this was a shock for the world’s Roman Catholics, who have not known their leader to step down in their lifetime. In fact, it is the first time a Pontiff has stepped down without a corresponding cessation of breathing in over 600 years. It’s not like it’s never happened before, but it is beyond the mental grasp of many people and their faith.

So what will the outgoing Pontiff do in his remaining years? Watch The View? More importantly, where will he spend his remaining years? It’s not like the Church was ready for this event with a Versailles-like-palace old Pope’s home for him to stay. Obviously it would be in poor taste if they did move him into a palace, particularly with American diocese closing churches like there’s no tomorrow. 
Actually, the Vatican has already announced that he will live and pray in an apartment within the Vatican. Live, pray, and watch The View. Now that’s a retirement!


The sequester, with its promise of widespread deep budget cuts to government spending, looms and threatens to plunge the United States back into a recession. With all the hand-wringing from political pundits, we have seen a rise in doomsday-type scenarios from various government agencies. One report has all meat production stopping in the country if USDA inspectors are furloughed for two weeks. Maybe it’s time we start thinking about switching to a vegetarian diet.

Another report raises the possibility that all air traffic in the country will cease since air traffic controllers will also be furloughed. The Defense Department has issued warnings to 800,000 civilian employees that they may have to be furloughed one day a week for 22 weeks. Now at least this a sensible approach; the other reports appear to suggest that government inspectors and air traffic controllers will have to take their unpaid leave in a single two week block.

The bigger threat from the furloughs will be the effect on people’s paychecks in certain parts of the country. This will naturally have a ripple effect on all businesses in those areas that are dependent on the salaries of government workers. In other words, MD DC and NOVA are screwed!

Let’s hope - and knowing that we’re dealing with Congressional leaders that are taking stubbornness to new levels it’s a long hope - that cooler heads will prevail and a deal is worked out by the end of next week.


We are shocked at this development! Absolutely and profoundly shocked! Here in America, we buy their cheap products which keeps their workers gainfully employed at pennies per hour, we eat God only knows how many Chinese buffet dinners on this side of the Pacific Rim every week, and we graciously allow them to acquire God only knows how much of our debt…and this is how they pay us back!

As I said, I am shocked to hear that the culture who gave us Confucius, really wrinkly dog breeds, and ping pong would stoop so low as to invade our cyber privacy! As I said, I was so shocked when I heard this report that I nearly choked on my shrimp mei fun!

(Thank you for reading! Cooler heads in Washington DC? Yeah, right, what the hell was I thinking! Let’s hear it for economic ruin! Wooooooo-hooooooo!!!)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Yoko!

My rather curt review of This Is Forty (Recent Movies 12/26/2012), a comedy released just before Christmas, glossed over one aspect that delighted me to no end. The film begins with a scene of the father (Paul Rudd) waking up his children so they can give their mother a special birthday greeting when she comes down to the kitchen. The song Yes, I’m Your Angel plays over the scene, sung by an artist that many people love to hate, Yoko Ono. I was delighted because I appreciate and respect her work, and I also enjoy whenever someone plays one of Yoko’s songs, unleashing it onto an unsuspecting public.

This is another reason why I get a kick about all the stations that play the seasonal favorite Happy Xmas (War Is Over), since this is the only time many people will hear Yoko’s voice, backing John Lennon in the course of their radio listening day. Granted, this is probably the most accessible of her performances that she has recorded. Nevertheless, I feel a fiendish pleasure when I realize that many people who believe they can’t stand her vocal improvisations might actually enjoy her performance here. We must also allow that many of these same people may base their opinion of her avant garde singing on the basis of others thoughts, without ever having heard these performances.

Now, really, is this fair?

Today, Yoko turned 80, and from all reports is more popular and active than ever. A newspaper article alerted me to the fact that she has had nine number one hits on the Billboard Dance charts, is having several books released or re-released this year, and all of her albums are being reissued on CD. My God, the woman even had time this past year to make a protest tour of fracking sites in Pennsylvania with her son, Sean, and such other celebrities as Susan Sarandon. 

Ono has long been well respected within the music community, with many artists in punk and new wave circles citing her work as influencing their own. Outside the music community, Yoko has, well, to put it kindly, gotten less respect then Rodney Dangerfield. She has long been the fall girl for doing something that was going to happen anyway — breaking up the most influential and successful musical act of the 20th century: the Beatles.

BTW: there is no truth to the rumor that she would celebrate her 80th by breaking up a boy band. Let’s nip that rumor in the bud right away….

Anyway, it’s so nice that the United States government is trying to make up for all the cattiness directed at Yoko over the years by giving everyone off on her birthday. Oh sure, some will smirk that it’s just a coincidence that her birthday this year falls on the observance of President’s Day, but smirk away, fools! Yoko deserves this day.

I tried to convince Anne Marie that she should post a Yoko performance for her Saturday Night Dance Party. My poor lady, suffering from “morning laryngitis” this past weekend, was not by all rights in any physical position to verbally refuse my request. Yet she found the energy and regained her voice long enough to croak, “No, my boyfriends will never go for it!” Then I believe she started to mutter something to the effect of “prying her cold dead fingers from her keyboard,” but I had already walked away.

Oh well! Her loss!

How can anyone totally hate an artist who is perpetually optimistic about the state of the world, even in the face of personal tragedy (Goodbye Sadness)? How many artists are gutsy enough to release what sounds like a litany of teenage angst under a mouth filling title, I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Clear Glass Window? Now I can see why punk rockers adore her!

Yes, I could post my own video, but her music career is just a small facet of her life. Her activism for peace (go ahead, make fun of that) and other environmental causes have kept her active and vibrant. Her philanthropic work — funded by a number of investments from John’s earnings as a rock artist through the years — has benefited many.

Besides, I can’t make up my mind which of her songs to post. Goodbye Sadness would seem to be appropriate for a Monday, but many today did not suffer the normal Monday blues because they had the day off. The point is moot. I See Rainbows is an uplifting anthem, but its perky rhythm would just annoy Anne Marie all the more. One thing I’ve learned through the years is that you don’t annoy my wife, especially on a Monday.

I will just wish Yoko well on her milestone with the hope that she keeps up her activities as long as she can. While her singing voice has been a point of derision over time, her voice lifted in the name of peace has been an inspiration to many. Somewhere, John Lennon must be smiling.

(Thank you for reading! Hope everyone had a nice President’s Day!)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Drink, Drink, Drink

President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address may have seem lackluster at first glance; much of it was the same old routine of reviving liberal ideas, like raising the minimum wage and investing money in education. The reaction from the opposition was also the same old, same old. Stand and applaud the President when he extols general platitudes about patriotism and democracy, then sit on your hands when he offers details about how we can advance the world’s greatest democracy.

Fortunately this time around, the President was able to speak his mind without interruptions. During one previous address, a Republican Congressman shouted out You Lie! while the President spoke; another time, Chief Justice Roberts could be seen shaking his head and muttering a barely audible objection. This time, I expected Congressional guest and gun advocate Ted Nugent to open up his right wing yap and begin shouting obscenities from the visitor’s gallery. The speech would have had to cease until Capital Police escorted/dragged Nugent kicking and screaming from the premises.

Now that would have made this a more memorable State of the Union. Instead, the opposition upstaged the President with nothing more than a stage prop: a bottle of water.

Prior to the event, commentators on MSNBC’s Morning Joe decried the idea that the Republican Party would have not one, but two rebuttals to Obama’s speech. The arrangement emphasizes the schism/chasm/crevasse within the Republican Party these days. Rand Paul was scheduled to give a rebuttal from the extreme Tea Party wing of the GOP; I have not heard one word about his response. On the other hand, there have been plenty of analyses about the mainstream Republican response from Senator Marco Rubio. His speech itself was in many ways a same old/same old rehash attacking the President’s policies, but it became noteworthy because he did something no other politician has ever done in a public forum: he took a break.

Rubio has demonstrated that he is an intelligent and charismatic force within the Republican Party. He should not need props (like, say, an empty chair, Mr. Eastwood) to make his point. Thus it was noteworthy when he stopped suddenly to take a swig of water from a Poland Springs ® water bottle. Really, Mr. Rubio, product placement in a nationally televised speech? Did you have to go there?

Here you are, the eyes of the world are upon you, you’re making what you believe are good points against government regulation of global warming - which many  people argue brought on such phenomena as more intense hurricanes, hotter average temperatures, and more droughts — and you have to drink a glass of water because you are parched. This sort of defeats your global warning argument. Don’t you hate when that happens?

So, what else did Rubio have to say? Um…don’t know, don’t care, and don’t care enough to replay the YouTube video to find out. In any event, whatever he said could not have been so important that he needed to take a moment to swallow some H2O. His drink distracted from his message. Rubio managed to upstage himself, if such a thing is even possible.

Taking five during a major address has not happened in recorded history. It’s not like someone never did it before; it’s something that just isn’t done, PERIOD. We can imagine how history would have been different if Lincoln had paused in the middle of the Gettysburg Address and announced to the crowd, “Please excuse me for a moment. I’m over 50 now and I have an urge to use the Necessary.” Or what if, after FDR intoned those immortal words “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” proclaimed, “Smoke if you got ‘em!” Or in our immediate future the President himself might pause in the middle of another polemic against gun violence and say, “You know, I’ve got this incredible craving to do some skeet shooting now. If you’ll excuse me…” Water/coffee/cigarette breaks ruin the rhythm of the verbal communication moment. Written communication is another matter entirely. I can take a break from writing this entry and you, the reader, would never know it. 

So, I’ll confess here: I did take a break a few paragraphs back. I saved what I had written up to the end of paragraph six, took a shower, went to work for eight hours, came home, ate dinner, wrote a little more, went to bed for a few hours and started writing again…and I’ll bet you didn’t even miss me! Ah, the beauty of blog writing!

Rubio, on the other hand, has contributed another memorable moment to American political history. It would not surprise me in the weeks ahead if some enterprising political wonk turns this into a drinking game. See Marco Rubio on television, take a drink! Hear the words global warming, take another drink! Hear the word sequester anywhere on television, radio, or even live in polite conversation…and chug the whole damn bottle!

There may be some very dry economic times ahead for all of us if the sequester cuts are allowed to happen. We might as well hydrate ourselves while we can…

(Thank you for reading. “Drink, drink, let the toast start/May young hearts never part…” – Sigmund Romberg, The Student Prince.)