Friday, October 20, 2006

John McCain shows why he is in no way a joke who has sacrificed any and all respect he was due as a war hero on the altar of his petty, petty ambition

The "good" republican still has a plan for how we might achive victory in Iraq, if anyone is interested in listening. It comes down to basically two words: More troops! But, to re-state my question of just a few weeks shy of a year ago: Where you gonna get 'em, John?

We don't have any more troops. And there doesn't exactly seem to be a flood of would-be future dead soldiers showing up at the recruitment office. Proving the truth of the old saying you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Of course, there is a way countries can forcibly swell the ranks of their armies if need be. I mean, if they really and truly believe victory is possible and necessary. But, as McCain and his ilk well know, the only thing that could possibly make the combat in Iraq less popular would be if they re-instated a draft.

So we're left with this serious and not-at-all politically motivated plan from the "good" republican, which Unclaimed Territory has summed up like this:
....John McCain's bold, straight-talking Plan for Victory in Iraq is to wait for Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, Peter Beinert and Glenn Reynolds to realize how Western Civilization Hangs in the Balance in Iraq and that only more troops can save us. And once they realize that, they are going to stand up bravely and risk their lives in combat in Iraq -- waves and waves and waves of them -- and that will fortify our military presence there and we will win. Waiting for a big thunderbolt from the sky to strike down the Insurgents seems like a more probable and rational plan.

Oh god, it's his Fisher King moment

The Mahablog has an entry about how Bush seems to be taking a surprisingly timid response to North Korea. It suddenly hit me: Of course he is, because the last time he got into his cowboy suit, he started an ass kicking that hasn't stopped yet, and it's got to have had some effect on him.

It's his Fisher King moment. The story of the Fisher King is about a man who sees the Holy Grail in a fire, but when he reaches out for it, it's gone. Psychologically, it's been interpreted as being about a psychic wound that all men suffer the first time our reach exceeds our grasp.

George W. Bush has shown he's good for exactly one thing, and that is getting dressed up in manly uniforms and talking tough. And now he can't even do that right. Never mind the fact that actually, a bit of "cowboy diplomacy" might be called for in the case of North Korea.

They're a country that actually could be a threat to us-something Iraq never was and never could have been. But on some level Bush must know how badly he's screwed up Iraq (whether or not he'll ever be able to admit it publicly) and now he's once bitten, twice shy.

Sometimes I'm amazed I even have the fortitude to keep trying...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I could die from all this irony

TV ratings:

-Yesterday’s Losers:
30 Rock (NBC), 20 Good Years (NBC), The Nine (ABC)

...week two of NBC sitcoms 30 Rock and 20 Good Years bled by double-digit percentages from last week’s already disappointing debuts.

Good. 30 Rock I want to die mostly because I don't understand the overhyping of Tina Fey, but also because if there's going to be a series about life behind the scenes at a sketch comedy show, know which one I want it to be.

And as indicated by yesterday's terse post, the second episode of 20 Good Years was a big let-down after a pilot I genuinely enjoyed, so now I feel even less attached to it.

At 10 p.m...Third (behind baseball on Fox as well) was ABC’s failing The Nine (Overnights: 6.8/11; Viewers: 8.59 million; A18-49: 3.2/ 9), with erosion from lead-in Lost of a considerable 60 percent in the overnights, 53 percent in total viewers and 49 percent among adults 18-49.

Here, though, we got trouble, because The Nine is still really good, sometimes phenomenally good. Last night's script, written by K.J. Steinberg who co-created the series with her brother Hank, was especially strong.

I can think of very little in last night's episode that I would categorize as "filler." No matter what's going on onscreen it's important and worth paying attention to.

As I've mentioned the director Alex Graves came up on West Wing-so it's no surprise to me how much I like that aspect of the show. And some of the actors must be doing the best work of their careers-I admit I didn't watch Party Of Five much but I can't believe Scott Wolf was better there than he is here.

It's the kind of show that if it fails, I don't want to know what wins.

Meanwhile, as I've been tracking, NBC has their own troubles with a couple of critically-praised, struggling in the ratings series; that I like too. So here's what they're doing about it: They're replacing one with the other.

-NBC To Test Friday Night Lights on Monday:
In an effort to boost viewing levels and test the waters for a potential new time period, NBC will air struggling Tuesday drama Friday Night Lights in the Monday 10 p.m. hour in place of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on Oct. 30. No word on when, or if, Studio 60 will air that week.

I could die from all this irony.

The animals are pissed

An 81-year-old boater was in critical condition Thursday after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stabbed him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest, authorities said.

"It was a freak accident," said Lighthouse Point acting fire Chief David Donzella. "It's very odd that the thing jumped out of the water and stung him. We still can't believe it."

Ellen Pikitch, a professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, who has been studying stingrays for decades, said they are generally docile.

"Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare," she said. "Even when they are under duress, they don't usually attack."

Dear god, Steve Irwin was only a warning.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Seven more words about "Twenty Good Years."

I don't know what I was thinking.

This can't be right.

According to Media News:
-Yesterday’s Losers:
Friday Night Lights (NBC)

Over at NBC, the news remains bleak at 8 p.m., with week three of Friday Night Lights sinking further, with a mere 4.0/ 6 in the overnights (#4), 6.61 million viewers (#4) and a 2.7/ 7 among adults 18-49 (#4).

Yet according to Media Life...
Brighter night for
'Friday Night Lights'

Last week NBC gave “Friday Night Lights,” its struggling new drama, a symbolic vote of confidence, ordering several more scripts for the series. While short of a full season order, the gesture indicated that NBC will stand behind the series for a bit in hopes that its audience will build.

However, unless “Lights” continues to build and pushes over a 3.0, it seems likely the show will be relocated in the not-so-distant future. Friday night is a good possibility for the show, perhaps swapping with strong new game show “1 vs 100” or being replaced by midseason returner “Crossing Jordan,” whose timeslot still hasn’t been determined.

NBC has remained aggressive in promoting the show, which got very good reviews, on new shows like “Sunday Night Football” and its Monday dramas.

Meanwhile, back at Media News,
Over at the CW, Gilmore Girls remains down but not out at a 3.8/ 6 in the overnights (#5), 4.77 million viewers (#5) and a 2.0/ 5 among adults 18-49 (#5) at 8 p.m.

-Keep a Positive Eye On:
Veronica Mars (UPN)

Veronica Mars followed with a more distant 2.1/ 3 in the overnights, 3.22 million viewers and a 1.4/ 4 among adults 18-49 at 9 p.m. But before anyone starts panicking, former UPN time period occupant Sex, Love & Secrets was considerably worse on the year-ago evening at a 1.2/ 2 in the overnights, 1.57 million viewers and a 0.7/ 2 among adults 18-49. The year-ago performance for Veronica Mars (on UPN, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005) was a 2.7/ 4 in the overnights, 3.03 million viewers and a 1.3/ 3 among adults 18-49. Do the math, and that’s an increase of 190,000 viewers and 8 percent among adults 18-49. Veronica Mars also posted a season high among adults 18-34 (1.8/ 5), with its second best performance in adults 18-34, adults 18-49 and women 18-49. And week-to-week, Veronica was up by as much as 20 percent demographically. Yes, Veronica Mars fans -- you heard me right!

So, to review.

One show I like-Friday Night Lights-is either a loser, or the lights have just gotten a little bit brighter, depending on who you trust. Though ironically, I hated the way the last episode ended-it was one of those "oh please tell me they're not going there...oh fuck! They are!" moments.

One show I'd be perfectly happy to see cancelled before the end of its season-Gilmore Girls-is down.

And Veronica Mars gets some positive news after an episode that was, while more uneven than the one last week that restored my faith, still better than it's been in a while.

It isn't supposed to work like this. The shows I like are supposed to lose, and the shows I've turned against are supposed to go up. On Tuesday nights, only the always-watchable Boston Legal is supposed to be solid.

Either I'm going to get an acceptance letter from a publisher today or I should run right out and play the lottery.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Shorter Greenwald: I got your "San Francisco left-wing values" right here, Newt

If you'd care to see the longer version...

Oh Wesley, Wesley, Wesley, Wesley, Wesley...

Wesley Snipes. Somewhat underrated actor-I think better sometimes in character roles than leads. Allegedly, the onetime abusive boyfriend of Halle Berry. Now, a literal fugitive from justice.

Call out the U.S. Marshalls.

I'm not normally much one for collectable figures

But by God, if I were...

Ah, Cordelia. Sweet, sweet Cordelia and her too-tragic end (or do I mean too-tragic Cordelia and her sweet, sweet...ahem!).

Brought to life by the underrated acting of Charisma Carpenter and killed because Joss Whedon apparently can't think of anything better to do with strong women characters.

I just hope they haven't followed in his footsteps on Veronica Mars-I stubbornly insist on the "We did not see a body" rule.

But anyway, Cordy's character was actually not so sweet-that's why I loved her.

Cool story for any and all of you who watch The Colbert Report

It's the story of the woman who won the "Stephen Colbert Green Screen Challenge!” If you watched the episode on which she won, you know they pulled a very funny joke. It was announced that it was down to two finalists, Bonnie R, who was on the phone and, there in the studio, one "George L." From Marin, California.

Until he walked out it didn't occur to me that it would be, as it was, George Lucas. Sometimes I'm slow. Lucas' people had put together their own entry using the, shall we say, many resources they had at hand.

One or two of you may know that I've had certain, shall we say, "issues" with Lucas in the past-for what I see as his cyncism, sexism and general insults to the intelligence. But I was giving him lots of credit for showing up and going along in the spirit of the joke. He had more of my goodwill than he's had for literally years.

Then they played his video. Even on a 30 second satire, the man can't write dialogue. Which is only one of the reasons I was smiling inside and out when Bonnie won (what was, after all, not a contest!).

Here's a couple clearly headed for several happy, fun-filled years

I really can't overstress what a resource avore de pensamentos (whatever that means) has turned out to be.

To cut a long story short I lost my MIND

Media Life Magazine:

NBC's 'Studio 60' tumbles to new low

Troubled drama falls 18 percent, to a 3.1 in 18-49s

After recording its first week-to-week uptick in ratings last week, NBC’s highly touted drama “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” dipped to a series-low for last night’s episode, erasing all of the previous week’s gains and then some.

The 10 p.m. show averaged a 3.1 in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights, down 18 percent from last week’s 3.8.

Meanwhile, I find myself continuing to really like it. Not only because of Sorkin's dialogue, or because the show is original and smart, or even fannish loyalty (though all those things are factors).

I'm starting to really care about the characters, especially Matt & Harriet. Which is one of the reasons the next paragraph of the article makes me madder the more I think about it.

After an excellent pilot, the show has slumped into inertia of sorts, with a love story that doesn’t go anywhere and no overall plotline giving the show urgency.

I'd argue that just because the characters aren't jumping into bed with each other with the rapidity they do on "Grey's Anatomy" -I'm led to understand-it doesn't mean the love story isn't going anywhere.

I think it's clear they are going somewhere, but it's going to take a little time (if only they have it). Especially since with Matt & Harriet, Sorkin has set up a love story that has more obstacles than the umpteen variations on Sam & Diane or David & Maddy we've been seeing for the past 20-25 years.

What do you do when you love and admire someone who loves and admires you but who believes, at her core, something almost diametrically opposed from what you believe at yours? It's a bigger question than most shows even think to ask, and I almost want to say shame on the reporter above for not recognizing that.

And "no overall plotline giving the show urgency"? What the hell? When did that become a requirement of weekly, episodic, network television? Shows like "Lost" are the exception, not the rule. The closest most shows come is a certain soap opera element, other than that it's mostly "this week's case."

Even on "West Wing" there wasn't an "overall plotline" outside the place and the job. Same for "Sports Night." And in both of them, and now "Studio 60," for me the overall plotline is really about getting to know these people and seeing how they handle the big questions in their lives.

I don't need to see them trapped on a mysterious island for that to be "urgent."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fun with polls

According to a poll in the current issue of Time Magazine, when asked the question:
Did the disclosure about Foley's sexually explicit instant messages to teenage pages and the handling of this sistuation by the house Republican leadership make you less likely to vote for the Republican candidate in your district, more likely, or did it really have no effect on how you will vote?

25% said it made them less likely
4% said it made them more likely
68% said it had no effect

I'd like to repeat that. 4% of registered voters said Foley being exposed as a pedophile, and the GOP congress having covered it up...made them more likely to vote for a Republican. Not only that, Time Magazine knew that was a possibility, and allowed for it on the questions in their poll.

Even allowing for the margin of error, I find that signifigant. Heck, in Republican mathamatical terms, one percent is enough to turn a dead heat into a mandate-giving landslide.

Proof positive that talk of Hollywood values being out of touch is completely exaggerated

According to this post, Robin Williams was paid "only" one million dollars to star in his new movie, Man of the Year. "Only" one million dollars. And they're reporting it like he was digging at the bottom of a trash can for cheese or something.

"Only" one million dollars. Would anyone out there like to pay me "only" one million dollars to make a film with some great characters and dialogue?

"Only" one million dollars.

It's times like this I think I'm playing for the wrong team in the culture wars.

"Only" one million dollars.


Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_5854


Ever notice how some dicks can just completely fuck up an otherwise perfectly good landscape?

And now, the completely unsubtle political version of that joke: In the background, we have the beautiful landscape of Capetown, South Africa. In the foreground, we have a stupid white man. And now, while the analogy sinks in, let's move on...

It was sometimes said that Samantha was just a tad too defensive around men.


I know with absolute cold-iron certainly that the same dick who fucked up the landscape above also owns this car, that he apparently thought was more important than the pleasant mountains green behind it.


Bob Dylan fans, take a look. That's right. Take a good long look. This is what you really look like, and anyone who tells you otherwise must love you very much.


When his head lolled to one side, betraying the lack of any spinal column to keep it upright, Susanne realized to her horror the awful truth: She had been speaking to a Democrat. Our cameras caught her in a frozen grin, even as she tensed her leg muscles, preparing to leap away.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

To any of the rest of you who may have been watching Comedy Central's autism fundraiser

Yes, I saw that the generous young woman who won the in-theater auction to appear onstage in the finale...was named Keitha. Freaky.

Anger and passion are always the fashion

In Unclaimed Territory this morning:

...the fear-driven advice to avoid strong positions because those positions are unpopular becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy over and over and over. When Democrats are continuously told to avoid taking a stand for their positions, their positions will inevitably be unpopular because they have failed to advocate them forcefully. Viewpoints become popular when persuasive leaders make a passionate and persuasive case for those viewpoints. If the public sees one party viciously attacking Position X, while the other party defensively and half-heartedly says that Position X is not as awful as it seems and, besides, they only half-believe in Position X, the public will inevitably conclude that Position X is wrong and even toxic. What other conclusion can one draw if nobody is willing to advocate that position?

If Democrats win in three weeks, it will be for one simple reason -- because the country has been so awakened and stirred by anger and intense dissatisfaction with our system of one-party Republican rule that they will be motivated to turn out incumbents in large numbers and even change their normal voting patterns. Nobody disputes that this passion is one that is oppositional in nature. It is driven by a disgust for the views and behavior of Republicans, not by an embrace of Democrats.

Read the whole thing, to which I'll just add by asking the question: What does it say about what spineless fucking jellyfish they are that after six years of this shit, three weeks before an election we still have to phrase it:

If the Democrats win.

What does it say? It says, the Democrats are still the party of John Kerry. They're going to lose. They deserve to.

The problem is, we don't.

If only it were funny.

Columnist and Python Terry Jones welcomes George W. Bush to an entirely different kind of flying circus.
I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.

It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks.

I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!

Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.

If you need to get the bad taste out of your mouth-not from Jones' writing but from the implications of his biting satire-here's a little Peter Cook. From back in the days when they still used to laugh at it:
It's a wonderful league, the World Domination League. The aims, as published in the manifesto, are total domination of the world by 1958. That's what we're planning to do. We've had to revise it - we're hoping to bring a new manifesto out with a more realistic target. How we aim to go about it is as follows: we shall move about into people's rooms and say, "Excuse me, we are the World Domination League - may we dominate you?" Then, if they say "Get out", of course we give up.