Saturday, January 31, 2009
David Brinkley knew from funny.
Those of you born after, say, 1970, are either thinking of moving on here or are getting ready to take a Google break and find out who David Brinkley was.
If you’re the former, thanks for stopping by.
If you’re the latter, the blog will still be here when you get back.
The rest of us, I think, share an enjoyed appreciation for the wit and wisdom of the guy who was a part of the television news scene for almost a half century.
An acclaimed reporter, anchor, journalist, author.
And a guy who was cutting through the bull with no bias long before Campbell was born.
Well, maybe not so much the no bias thing.
I recall that Brinkley had a pretty obvious bias.
He was blissfully biased against bullshit.
And he had a knack for recognizing it miles and miles before the corral was on the horizon.
In his later years, as the moderator of the Sunday morning roundtable on “This Week With David Brinkley”, Chet Huntley’s former running buddy not only gave the concept of “panel discussion” a marvelously twisted tweak, but also managed to make smirking credible, something that Dubya never came close to pulling off.
Sitting back and letting Sam and Cokie and George smack the Beltway birdie around, Brinkley flawlessly executed the job of goalie (to mix the metaphor), bemused but ever aware of the moment that inevitably arrived…the moment when analysis crossed the line to absurdity and, in that moment, with an economy of words not equaled to this day, kicked the conversation away from the ridiculous and back into the sublime.
David Brinkley…equal parts McLaughlin and Letterman.
And that was the beauty of it.
His bullshit barometer was tuned like a Stradivarius, but he never came off as condescending.
Because the expression on his face mirrored the expressions on our own.
That smile/smirk that naturally springs to life when profound is revealed to be preposterous.
And we all exchange the knowing look that confirms our mutual suspicions.
That trial balloon of conversation being raised is nothing more than an amusement filled with hot air.
My first reaction, when watching the above video, was the knee jerk flinching at the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped.
But, in a microflash, right behind that, came the smile/smirk pioneered by David Brinkley.
The acclaimed reporter, anchor, journalist and author.
Who knew from funny.
First of all, I have no problem, per se, with Campbell Brown doing “hard hitting political commentary”.
I’m not one of those people who longs for the days when she and Lester talked to the lady who made fun but inexpensive holiday gifts on the Weekend Today show.
Then again, I’m not naïve enough to think that if Campbell looked like, say, Jane Hathaway, she would be getting the big up front push that CNN is giving her.
Fair being fair, I did a little checking.
And, as Mr. Bush would say, I checked her out on The Google.
When it comes to news cred, she has some game.
But, I’ve been reading/watching her commentaries lately and I think somebody in her circle needs to offer her this advice.
Hey, Campbell, stop trying to hit home runs every time you step up.
If for no other reason, I think the stats will bear out that the guy who leads the league in home runs often leads the leagues in striking out as well.
The big swing might provide a little drama in the ball park.
On the air it just looks like swinging too hard.
Last week, Campbell wrote a piece berating Obama for being a “hypocrite” for “going back on his word” to not hire lobbyists or former lobbyists for his administration.
I did a little checking on The Google about that one, too.
First, from everything I’m able to gather, Obama is, in fact, holding to the literal tenets of his self imposed guidelines.
And second, just for the record, the only “word” I think Obama has so far offered is that oath he took at the Capitol on January 20.
And then again on January 21.
Hey, Justice Roberts, everybody mistakes makes.
Now, Campbell has come out swinging at that paragon of the brilliantly framed and articulated argument, Rush Limbaugh.
Yes, that was meant to be a little sarcastic.
Take a listen/look at the video.
I’ll just wait here until you’re done.
Oh and sorry about the commercial. As you probably know, those things are attached to every video piece like grim death.
Here’s the thing.
I really don’t think you have to be member of Mensa to know that Rush Limbaugh isn’t interested in debating the issues.
Rush Limbaugh is interested in being Rush Limbaugh.
And God bless him.
Because that’s the coolest of the cool things about this country.
Any idiot can express their idiocy without fear of repression or reprisal.
Present blogger included.
And being Rush Limbaugh isn’t about finding the common ground between two diverse, even polarized points of view.
It’s about playing to a particular audience.
Rush would no more see both sides of an argument than Howard Stern would find something to talk about besides breasts.
People who listen to Howard aren’t expecting tasteful presentation.
People who listen to Rush aren’t expecting balanced discussion.
So be it.
And God bless…yada, yada, yada.
Which will bring us back to do..re..mi..fa…Campbell.
Campbell Brown seems to be the latest advancement in the world of “commentary”, that insidious little art form that mutated into being some years ago when the X cell of news reporting and the Y cell of editorializing morphed together.
I think scholars will eventually trace it back to the invention of the all news cable channel, requiring twenty four hours a day of material to fill the twenty four hours a day.
Think Ted Turner having been the director of “The Fly”.
And while our God, and founding fathers, given right to express our opinions is, thank God and our founding fathers, alive and well here in the U. S. of A, I haven’t yet had anybody totally convince me that stirring shit up just to start something is really doing anybody any good.
But, come on campers, we all know that, don’t we?
And Campbell, you scamp, you know that, too, don’t you?
Here’s my “commentary” on the commentary.
Campbell, if you really are the voice of reason that CNN is trying to make you out to be, then let Rush Limbaugh be Rush Limbaugh.
Let Barack Obama be Barack Obama.
Let Howard Stern be Howard Stern.
And let that voice of reason be your own voice and not one that seems to trying to play both ends against the middle just to stir shit up.
In other words, be Campbell Brown.
Not Barry Bonds.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Shakespeare pretty much nailed it.
Nothing new under the sun.
Add to that the old “the more things change” chestnut and you’ve got a fairly simplistic life description suitable for all occasions.
The Parents Television Council has their knickers in a twist over the newest Britney Spears single.
It’s called “If U Seek Amy”.
They are lobbying for the video to be banned from airplay because of the “obviously inappropriate” content of the song.
“You don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar”, one protector of our virtue said, more or less, “to realize that this song has nothing to do with Amy.”
I hadn’t heard about the song until I read the article about the protest.
And as soon as I heard about the protest, I immediately went looking for the song.
I found it. I listened.
Nothing new under the sun.
Credit where it’s due, the song really doesn’t have anything to do with Amy.
It’s a word game.
Or lyric game as the case may be.
And I found myself with my own knickers in a twist.
Oh, not because the lyric offended me.
Because it took me a few minutes and a few listens to “get it”.
Damn, I really thought I was pretty hip for an old guy.
See if you can figure it out.
From the chorus:
“All the boys and all the girls/ are beggin to if u seek amy”
It’s like that old campfire game where we were told to summon up the spirit of ancestors past by chanting the words “ohwah” “tagoo” and “siam” over and over…and over.
“Beggin to if u seek Amy”
There it is.
What a hoot.
And lest I be branded as a morally bankrupt, gray haired perv, let me just offer that pushing the envelope of “naughty” is as much a rite of passage as the chaste first kiss.
Anybody else remember when the Rolling Stones brought about the end of civilization when they dared to sing “Let’s Spend The Night Together”?
For you youngers, how about Van Halen’s destruction of mankind with the release of their album, “OU812” ?
It’s another word game.
Think about it.
While the case can be made that a downward spiral of anything has to eventually take us to the bottom, I think it also fair to say that the empire hasn’t been severely dented, let alone damaged, by kids singing lyrics that secretly mean…well, what they secretly mean.
They’ll grow up.
That’s the thing about that wacky old envelope.
It always seems to bounce back from the push.
In the meantime, thank God for vigilant groups like the Parents Television Council who shine a spotlight on these cracks in the foundation of our republic.
And triple the sales of the song that a lot of people wouldn’t even have given a second thought.
Until they heard it was naughty.
The record industry thanks you, PTC.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
And I’m not just talking about Caroline’s fast flaming, quick burn out pass at taking Hillary’s seat in the Senate.
Actually, those folks who cant seem to live without labeling things have been coming on pretty strong with the “parallels”, as it were, between two couples whom history has placed at the same place at different times.
Jack and Jackie Kennedy.
Barack and Michelle Obama.
Ponder that for a second while I share something else with you.
I saw a very well written article this past week, underscoring the fact that suddenly, on our TV’s, we are seeing a black family that apparently has no use for the stereotypes of black families that we have all “enjoyed” in recent times.
The fat daddy, or momma, as the case may be, lamenting the children who are either lazy or lippy, or both.
The fat grandma, or grandpa, as the case may be, who lament the fact that the fat daddy and/or momma cant get the lazy, lippy children under control.
And nowhere are the words “yo”, “whazzup” or “ho” to be heard.
And when and if the phrase “junk in the trunk” is uttered, it refers only to the need to clean out the back storage area of the family automobile.
Okay, first things first.
I don’t know what your political opinion of Barack Obama is.
I don’t care.
You’re entitled to it, whatever it may be.
Those pesky folks I mentioned earlier, who have hours and hours of cable news TV time to fill and feel the need to put tags and labels on people and things so they can fill those hours and hours of cable news TV time talking about the tags and labels they’ve put on things have been drawing reasonably obvious similarities between the Obama family of 2009 and the Kennedy family of 1961.
Young, energetic, attractive husband and wife.
Young, camera ready kids.
A sense of new optimism and, dare I express the audacity, hope.
Okay. I think we can all see the parallels.
But enough already, already.
Because I think the similarities pretty much end right there.
Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy’s lives have almost nothing in common, with the exception of where they ended up working for a living in their early forties.
Likewise Michelle and Jackie.
So, to paraphrase the classic line from the Bentsen/Quayle debate…
“They’re no Kennedys.”
Nor do they need to be.
They will succeed or fail in their own way, in their own time and on their own merits.
But, I think I’ve figured out what it is about these two that has so many people walking around with glazed eyes and goofball grins.
They are a screenwriter's dream.
A real, flesh and blood couple that Hollywood couldn’t, on their best day, create in fictional form any more effectively.
One part Jack and Jackie Kennedy.
One part Rob and Laura Petrie.
And one part the couple who deserve the credit for being the first, and so far best, couple on television to refuse to pander to the stereotypical portrayal of black America.
Cliff and Clair Huxtable.
Predict what you will about how successful a presidency this man will have.
But, bet the farm, if either Sasha or Malia turns out to be half as adorable as Rudy, a second term is already in the bag.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Joe Piscopo ruined Frank Sinatra for me.
That’s how spot on his impression of the guy was back in the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo period of SNL.
And therein lies the hidden down side to great satire.
Once an icon is brilliantly lampooned, it’s difficult to ever see them again without being distracted by the harpoon.
For example, no matter what credibility she tries to build in the next few years, will you ever be able to see Sarah Palin standing behind a podium without anticipating that, at any moment, she’s going to start moving back and forth across the stage doing, as Tina Fey so remarkably parodied, “some fancy pageant walking”?
Say what you want about the “power of persuasion” that political pundits and/or commentators possess.
But I’m a thinkin that they don’t hold a candle to the gang at Saturday Night Live when it comes to influencing the minds and/or hearts of Joe and Jane Everyman/woman.
Write Fey and company off as insignificant examples of arrested development if it suits ya…but, trust me, you’re underestimating them if you do.
Perception is, after all, reality.
And while her involvement in the campaign didn’t last long enough for me to form an honest opinion of Palin and her dogma, my perception of her, thanks to (or blamed on, depending…) the impersonations done of her was that she was a ditz disguised as a rising political star.
The moral of the story, kids, is don’t discount the impact of the impressionist.
Just think for a second about the celebrities/politicians, et al who have been, at best, dented by the on target shots taken at them by those who have impersonated them.
The other Olsen twin (not necessarily in that order).
And the list, like the beat, goes on.
Nixon was a prime target in the day.
As was LBJ.
In fact, come to think of it, the only “star”, show biz, political or otherwise, who managed to minimize the damage done to his cred and rep by the impersonators was, I believe, the one who was probably impersonated more than any single other celebrity in the history of mankind.
What the hell, you say?
Elvis was the ultimate parody?
But E wasn’t discredited by the thousands who impersonated him “for real” through the years and then, in the fading days, lampooned him as a bloated, drug addled caricature of his iconic persona.
It’s hard to do any damage to a guy by harpooning him when he’s already hoisted himself on his own petard.
In other words…
You can’t parody a parody.
You can’t knock somebody down when they’re already laying there looking up at you.
You can’t take the legs out from underneath somebody who’s already crippled themselves.
Okay, you get the idea.
Elvis would have been 74 this year. And I think those of us who grew up with him always kind of knew, it that place where you just know things, that he wasn’t going to grow old along with us.
The brighter the star, the faster it burns out.
In the end, as you will hear when you listen to the video above, he was obviously living in a state of denial.
But, credit where due, he had managed to accomplish something, I offer you, not accomplished before or since.
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the greatest Elvis impersonator who ever lived.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I had made a gentle, but firm promise to myself that I was going to try and go two whole weeks of the new year without ranting political.
But then came Rod Blogojevich.
Not be confused with “then came Maude…” which is a different matter, entirely.
If only because Maude’s ridiculous hair doesn’t hold a candle to the governor’s coif.
Like many of you, I’ve watched the story with a moderate amount of interest. I say moderate because I don’t live in Illinois, don’t really care about Illinois politics and the morality, or lack of same, of the governor of Illinois isn’t directly affecting my life or the lives of the people I love.
But, regardless of the premise, good old-fashioned scandal is a hard elephant in the room to ignore, no matter where the room is.
Here’s the thing, though.
I don’t see this as old-fashioned scandal under any definition.
This scandal, mi amigos, is the realization of a dream that sociopaths have dared to dream since the mid 90’s.
The dream that began with O.J.
An America where being caught red handed not only didn’t immediately result in regret, remorse and rehabilitation in the form of an all expense paid stay at one of the country’s finer penal institutions…
…but, rather, an America where you not only didn’t necessarily do the time, you didn’t even necessarily have to admit to doing the crime.
Even if your guilt was more obvious than the deterioration of Michael Jackson’s face.
Tape recordings? Video verification? Blood on your hands?
I didn’t do it.
Well, okay, maybe I did it, but I’m going to move right along here and get on with the people’s business, comprende’?
Denial is no longer just a river in Egypt.
Hell, man, it’s not even just a lame attempt to avoid the inevitable.
It’s evolved into an exquisitely executed art form.
Pablo Picasso, move over, dude.
Meet Rod Blogojevich.
And while I hold fast to the belief that most of us see this guy for the world-class narcissist that he is, I have to admit (and, come on, you admit it, too) that this whole episode is fascinating.
If only because there’s something mesmerizing about watching a guy standing on the tracks with a train barreling down on him at a hundred miles an hour who not only doesn’t see the train coming…
…he’s telling us there ain’t no train.
Don’t get me wrong.
Mesmerizing doesn’t mean worthy of admiration.
In fact, this new “trend” of “well, yeah, I’m guilty as Cain but what the hell…” is, to any reasonably moral person, pretty disturbing.
Because, when you get down to it, we’re not talking about people who sin and eventually have to face that bothersome organ we all deal with from time to time.
We’re talking about people who simply don’t have one.
It’s one thing to be concerned for the safety and well being of our loved ones in a culture that endures the sociopathic and/or psychopathic personalities of serial killers.
It’s another thing when those personalities win the Heismann Trophy.
Or end up in the Governor’s mansion.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Through the years, I have to admit, I’ve had some pretty cool jobs.
I’ve gotten to write lyrics, compose music and write songs (not necessarily one and the same), I’ve played and sung in front of thousands of people and acted and done radio.
I’ve written essays, blogs, short stories, novels, screenplays, teleplays and the occasional letter to family and/or friends.
As I said, pretty cool jobs.
One job I always kind of aspired to, but didn’t feel qualified to give a go, is psychic.
Oh, it has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t have any sense of being able to see the future or foretell what destiny has in store for me or anyone else.
I mean, come on, if I could tell the future would I still be working for a living, for God’s sake?
Think Michael J. Fox getting the race results from his little trip back to 1955 and do the math from there.
No, my not having given being a “predictor” a career shot is primarily a matter of feeling like my time is much better spent doing almost anything else.
Because, regardless of the sincere desire I have to not feel superior to people, I confess that I have always enjoyed feeling special.
And there simply is nothing special about predicting the future.
Anyone can do it.
Which might make it something.
But certainly nothing special.
For example, with the arrival of the new year, obviously the “predictions for the new year” come out of the woodwork like absentee ballots in Minnesota.
I spent literally ten seconds Googling before I came upon this list, in this case, from “Nikki”, who bills herself as a “psychic to the stars..”
(Just once, I’d like to see one of these crystal ball players bill themselves as plain folks….you know…Joe The Psychic..)
Take a quick scroll down (dear God, please don’t waste a lot of your life actually thinking about any of this stuff) and then rejoin me at the end for a thought or two
Nikki…Psychic to the Stars…Predictions for 2009
Death of Charles Manson.
Danger around the Dahlia Lama.
Trouble with Tibet and China.
An explosion at the Great Wall of China.
Passing of Fidel Castro.
A cruise ship will be hijacked.
A tsunami off the coast of Alaska.
Uprising in Venezuela.
Giant earthquake in California including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
Buckingham Palace on fire.
A war with China and Tibet.
An explosion at the Great Wall of China.
Loch Ness monster will be captured.
Earthquake in British Columbia.
Earthquake in Alaska.
President Sarkozy of France in danger.
Explosion at the Eiffel Tower.
A daredevil will scale the Eiffel Tower.
Royal Jewels will be stolen.
Sarah Palin will write a “tell all book”.
President Bush and Laura Bush will have marriage problems.
Hillary Clinton has to watch her health.
Danger around Barack Obama.
Assassination attempt around Barack Obama.
Assassination Barack Obama – New Martin Luther King.
Race riots break out in US.
A sex scandal around Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin on television making a lot of guest appearances.
Mohammed Ali has to watch his health.
Mount St. Helens will erupt again.
Explosion in Colombo Sri Lanka.
Trouble in Bangkok Thailand – lots of explosions.
Breakthrough in the cure for cancer, Alzheimer, and heart disease.
Breakthrough in stem cell research.
Another planet with life will be found in the universe.
A commercial jet liner and a meteorite will collide.
A cold war between Cuba and the USA and a possible invasion into Cuba.
Problems with North Korea.
A worldwide computer virus.
A hijacking of a train and explosion at Grand Central Station in New York.
Explosion at the New York Stock Exchange.
Explosion in Ottawa, Canada.
Explosion at the Wall Street Journal.
A new National Hockey League in Canada.
A large fire in Chicago.
An airport hanger fire.
A Belgium chocolate factory will burn to the ground.
A rare Green Flamingo will be found.
A green bear will be found in China.
Earthquakes in China, Alaska, California, Niagara Falls, Greece Rome Italy.
A new board game called Recession.
A meteor will land in Russia.
Seven children being born to a woman in China.
Laura and George Bush have to watch their marriage.
A kidnapping at the White House.
A riot in Budapest Hungary.
Tragedy Gulf of St. Laurence.
More sightings of great white sharks in all kinds of water including water they do not normally swim in.
Collapse of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Flood in the Ukraine.
A subway tragedy in New York.
Arrest in the Madeline McCann case.
A terrorist attack in Karachi Pakistan.
Arrest in the Jon Benet Ramsey Case.
Terrorist attack in Calcutta.
Terrorist attack in Oslo Norway.
A terrorist attack in Copenhagen.
Invasion of Iran by the USA.
Terrorist attack in Turkey.
Terrorist attack in Toronto, Canada.
Animals coming into city’s because of global warming.
An explosion at the Ottawa Canal.
Stock Market up and down.
Prime Minister Brown of England has to be careful of an attack.
Queen Elizabeth has to be careful of an attack.
More shark attacks.
O.J. Simpson has to be careful of his well being. May escape jail.
Another crane tragedy.
First, I think it not unfair to say that a really big chunk of this stuff comes from the “duhhh” folder.
More shark attacks?
Only a psychic could be sufficiently tuned in to anticipate something like that.
And I especially love the “Belgium chocolate factory burning to the ground” thing.
Almost gives her list an air of authenticity, don’t you think?
Provided you don’t think about it too long.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to be a Mensa member to realize that none of this should be taken with any more seriousness than you would give an episode of “The Simpsons”.
Fun way to kill a few minutes.
No more. No less.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking it over and I realize there’s another cool job I’ve never tried that might be fun.
And as it turns out, it’s a lot like being a psychic because you basically tell people what’s going to happen and, when it doesn’t happen, nobody calls you on it.
They just check with you the next day to see what you think.
They’re called meteorologists.