Saturday, July 30, 2011

A New Feature

You in my vast reading audience are familiar by now with the fun I like to have with headlines. "Headlines That Should Have Been Rephrased;" "Great Headlines in Journalism," and the like.

I'm proud now to introduce a new series, which I intend to call: Headlines That Could've been a Lot Funnier, with a Little Rewriting.

Case in point:

Rick Santorum Unleashes on Rick Perry for Gay Marriage Stance

Now, if they'd just gone for the word "Unloads"...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm beginning to think John Boehner may not be the wisest of men

Hello. If you follow the doings in our government, you may remember this incident a few months ago:
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Thursday that he would not agree to another temporary extension of federal government funding at current levels, upping the stakes in the debate over federal spending.

Read my lips: We’re going to cut spending...

Shortly thereafter he was overheard saying he couldn't believe he'd said that.

Why? Because--
The phrase “Read my lips” is rarely heard in politics since George H. W. Bush used it during the Republican National Convention in 1988 to emphasize that he wouldn’t raise taxes — something he did as president to shrink the deficit.

And breaking that promise was one of the things--not the only thing, but one of the things--that killed Bush's chances for a second term. So you can understand Boehner's disbelief.

You might think, however, that he'd have learned a lesson from that gaffe. However, back in 1984...

Bush had gotten in some trouble because he had refused categorically to rule out a tax increase in terms as adamantine as Reagan's. Bush tried to wiggle out of press conferences where this came up: "No more nit-picking. Zippity doo-dah. Now it's off to the races," was his parting shot as he sought to exit one press conference where he was being grilled.

And today...
Boehner: 'It's A Zippity-Do-Da Day!'

That's what Speaker Boehner told one of our reporters as he was walking into a meeting of his caucus a short time ago.

Now, to invite comparison with George Bush I (esp. where taxes are concerned) once might be cast as unwise. To do so twice smacks of irresponsibility. The question is: Will he go for the hat trick?

And if so, how? Will he pick a fight with a short, Greek man as Bush One did? Will he be defeated by Bill Clinton, as Bush One was? Nah. If I had to place a bet, I'd look for something in the area of describing Medicare as "socialized medicine," as Bush did all the way back in 1964.

C'mon, John. I know you can do it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

That's the funniest thing I've heard in years

"As hours pass and the uncertainty builds, I think the market is starting to price in the potential that we might not have a solution by August 2," the deadline for raising the U.S. debt limit, said Channing Smith, managing director of Capital Advisors Inc. "Confidence in our political system is beginning to fade."

Beginning to fade? Beginning?

The war in Iraq...

Bush v. Gore...


The war in Vietnam...


The assassination of JFK...

And he thinks confidence in our political system is just beginning to fade?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I've been dissed by the star of one of my favorite shows!

Holy shit.

Okay, quick backstory. About a month ago, MoveOn.Org ran a clip from the Roseanne show under the headline,
What If Everyone Understood Today What Roseanne Understood Then?

Good clip, right? I agree. However--I freely admit--I get a little twitchy when I think writers aren't being given proper credit. So I did some quick searching and then made this comment on the Facebook version of the MoveOn post--
I think you mean what if everyone understood today what Jeff Abugov, Joel Madison and Ron Nelson knew then. They're the ones who actually wrote the episode.

--and then I don't think I've thought about it since.

Apparently, however, a fan of Roseanne * went to her blog and asked about it, saying,
Roseanne, do you know who the fuck Ben A. Varkentine is?

And lo and behold, she replied.
if you read the comments--one guy says that the three writers whose names are on the script wrote the lines, but that isn't how tv works at all--people get their names on a script according to a ledger--when it's their turn to get their names on a script--the roseanne show was written by at least fifteen people each script--and then I added jokes and thoughts and scenes to it and it was sent back and "gang punched up"...

Now. I'm actually aware that most TV is "gang written" and Roseanne was no exception. Thing is, not having been on the set myself, the only guide I have as to who wrote what is the credits. So did the three guys who were credited actually not write that scene? Maybe.

Did Roseanne? Funny, she doesn't say so. But after all, she delivered the lines (and did a good job) and the show was named after her. It appears that she would like us to infer that we might as well assume she wrote them all.

Certainly she doesn't name any other writer or writers who might be responsible, either. It's also worth noting that her relationship with most if not all of the Roseanne writers was famously abusive and belittling.

Speaking of which. Back on her blog, she then said this...

--so this guy ben k.v. who thinks he knows something --quite simply knows nothing.

Well. The easy shot is that I do at least know that my latter two initials are A & V, not K and V. But let's overlook that--she was probably in a hurry, and the name "Varkentine" has confused people better than me, you, or she. But I'm less inclined to overlook her parting shot "at" me:
Nice try though, boy--always trying to separate the woman from her work.

Well thank you, little lady, for always assuming sexism if someone doesn't like your work (or in this case, does like your work (much of it, anyway--see below), but questions whether you deserve all 100% of the credit for it).

The thing is--Roseanne is one of my favorite shows. To name just one example of why, I think the two-part story in which Roseanne's sister Jackie is beaten by her boyfriend should be a model of how to do a "very special" episode.

I think it really tried to examine, within its restrictions, the different and varying thoughts and feelings women and men have about violence. And it did so while remaining really funny, but without resorting to a compulsive need to "lighten" a very dark subject.

I think the Conners showed better than 97% of other sitcoms what a real American family was like in the '90s. ...up to a certain point.

(I mark the disintegration as beginning with the arrival of the not-Becky. Nothing against Sarah Chalke--as she would go on to show on Scrubs, she's a talented actress--but that's where the show's fictional reality began to thin, until it was finally torn up completely. By the time of the ending, oh god was it waiting to die.)

I have no problem acknowledging that Roseanne probably deserves the queen's share of the credit for why the show was so good, when it was so good. Characters like Roseanne, Dan and Darlene Conner had rarely if ever been shown before on television.

However, I think she deserves the queen's share of the credit. Not all of it. And I also think she deserves at least as much blame for why when the show got bad, it got so bad. In that regard, I suppose I should just be grateful that Roseanne didn't see these thoughts of mine on the series, written a few years ago:

It's ironic, but I really think you can trace the decline of this show by how much power Roseanne had over her character.

In the first years, Roseanne Conner is a strong, funny, loving woman. At the end, she's controlling, grim, and hateful.

Or that I said that the "real" her irritated me (and that was before all this!).

Then she might really have gotten angry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And if that doesn't just say it all.

With pressure mounting on Congress and the White House to ensure the government doesn't default on its debt, the latest Democratic offering shows just how much party leaders have compromised during the negotiations as Republicans have held their ground. For weeks, Democrats demanded that any substantial package include revenues to offset spending cuts, namely by closing corporate tax loopholes and ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry. But their demands have now been whittled away to a proposal coming from their own party with major cuts and no revenue at all.

Republicans, meanwhile, have largely gotten what they wanted in their push for significant spending cuts without new revenue.