Saturday, January 30, 2010

"The View From Behind Behind The Wheel..."

George Will once wrote that the reason baseball is one of the most popular and admired of pastimes is that the most successful players in the game fail more than 7 times out of 10.

Think about it.

If a ball player is hitting .300, he is considered a superstar.

And hitting .300 means he is failing to hit the ball seven out of ten times.

Human nature draws us to appreciate anyone who can keep trying, even "succeed" with that kind of failure potential pretty much a sure thing.

Which brings us to Barack Obama and his efforts to breathe life in what is arguably the most oxymoronic of all the oxymorons.


Most people, when asked, would say, I think, they dont like the political process or politicians.

But if pressed, and an honest answer were given, I think a lot of those same people would say that they secretly admire those who give the political life a shot.

Because, let's face it, somebody has to drive the truck.

Or nobody gets anywhere.

And while it's easy to piss and moan about "those lying sons of bitches", all of that pissing and moaning is done from the back seat.

Anyone who's ever been so much as a community club president will tell you that being a "leader" is largely a matter of listening to people's whining about current conditions and why their idea of how to fix it is far superior to both the status quo and anybody else's opinion.

That's the thing with back seat drivers.

They want the authority.

But not the responsibility.

So while I'm not about to start heaping lavish piles of praise on politicians as a group, I will freely confess that I have a lot of admiration for anybody who is willing to step up and spend precious minutes of their lives in a job that is, by its nature, an exercise in frustration and futility.

On the off chance that maybe their work will help get the truck a little farther down the right road.

That's right as in correct.

Not as in Rush Limbaugh.

The clincial definition of bipartisanship is pretty basic.

Of, consisting of, or supported by members of two parties, especially two major political parties: a bipartisan resolution.

It's the translation that points out the problem.

Two people, or groups of people, agreeing on anything.

Now, how hard can that be?

Well, first thing Monday, gather four people in your office or workplace and give yourself a five minute deadline to come to a unanimous decision about what to eat for lunch.

Shuh..yeah. Right.

And that's just "Pizza?.....or Thai?...."

Not "health care for millions of Americans?....or....?"

Time will tell what good will come from Obama's walking, literally, figuratively and historically, into a room full of Republicans and saying "look, gang, we need to cut the bullshit, stop pointing fingers, and drive this thing down good road."

It is entirely possible that the man is simply pissing in the wind.

Can't help but think, though, that it beats pissing and moaning...

...from the back seat.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"...Even From The Shadows...They Can Make Out Red, White..and...."

The following piece was emailed to me.
I did not compose it.
And I have nothing to add.
Let the fact that I am sharing it with you speak for itself.

Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it?
Did you know his trial is over?
Did you know he was sentenced?
Did you see/hear any of the judge's comments on TV or Radio?

Everyone should hear what the judge had to say.

Ruling by Judge William Young, US District Court

Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his 'allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah,' defiantly stating, 'I think I will not apologize for my actions,' and told the court 'I am at war with your country.'

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:

"January 30, 2003, United States vs. Reid.

Judge Young: 'Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That's 80 years.)

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 that's an aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you.. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: 'You're no big deal.'

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say.. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America , the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America . That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down'."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"...They Call It A One Way Street For A Reason..."

First, the obvious disclaimer.

Tens of thousands of people are dead, dying and/or suffering in Haiti as the world rallies to try and help them recover from the devastation.

And, in that light, the problems of Jay Leno and the Benny Hill bunch disguised as a television network calling themselves NBC are about as unimportant as the definition of the word allows.

That said...

I said on the air yesterday morning that, for me, after a couple of weeks of hearing the hype and processing the propaganda, the issue of who should be on where and at what time boils down to a simple matter of principle.

Jay Leno left The Tonight Show for another job.

The Jay Leno Show.

Conan O'Brien was "promoted" to Jay's job hosting The Tonight Show.

The Jay Leno Show failed.

That, right there, should be the end of the story.

Because if you take all the show biz glitz, glamour, drama and bullshit out of the equation, the aforementioned simple matter of principle is all that remains.

And for those who can't seem to find how to take all the show biz glitz, glamour, drama and bullshit out of the equation, allow me to assist with the following scenario.

You are offered another job.

You accept the offer.

You resign your present job.

You move on to your new job.

Someone is hired to take your place at your old job.

For whatever reason, the new job doesn't work out.

Would it cross your mind, for even a second, to expect your previous employer to fire the person who replaced you and welcome you back to your old job as if none of it had ever happened?

Of course not.

The exception, of course, being you were classless, self centered and unprofessional.

Jay Leno's "fans" are blathering that "Jay is funnier, so he should come back" or "Conan just isn't as good as Jay"..yada, yada.

The respective abilities of the employees are irrelevant.

Whether their job is to shuffle papers...

Or entertain millions of people every night.

In a world of professional courtesy, leaving for greener pastures is a time honored and mutually respected path that we are all free to travel.

One way.

NBC needs to wish Jay well in his future endeavors.

Jay needs to man up and move on to the next challenge.

And we all need to hit "off" on the remote and get back to packing clothes and canned goods to send to Port Au Prince.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Uptown Girl, She's Been Headed in A Downward Swirl..."

Hello, I'm Scott Edward Phelps.

Many of you know me from my radio shows, various and sundry websites, including, of course, several different blogsites where I offer my satirical, saucy and sassy assessement of life, love and pursuit of calorie free, heavily sugared dessert toppings,

Today,though, I'm just Scott Edward Phelps, everyman.

And I'd like to talk to you about something that touches all of our lives, each and every day.

Yes, I'm talking about Syndrome Syndrome.

No, not the impulsive behavior that manifests itself in the repeating of words.

That's Redundant Reduncancy.

Syndrome Syndrome...the creation of new syndromes from within the parameters of existing syndromes, thereby creating another syndrome which will, inevitably, spawn even more syndromes.

Please take just a moment and read the touching and brave story of one syndrome sufferer, celebrity by birth, Alexa Ray Joel.

(CNN) -- The end of 2009 was a "whirlwind" for Alexa Ray Joel, but she's stepping into 2010 with a new focus: Raising awareness about heartbreak-related depression.

"I have many exciting new developments for the New Year," Joel wrote on her Facebook page December 31. "Most importantly, [helping] young girls with something I feel I know a GREAT deal about: Heartbreak-Related Depression."

The EMS responded to a 911 call about Joel on December 5, and the 24-year-old songstress was rushed to the hospital after swallowing a handful of homeopathic pain pills, her publicist confirmed to CNN. The pills are not considered to be life threatening. The New York City, New York-based singer had been upset over her break-up with 38-year-old musician and former bandmate Jimmy Riot, according to the publicist.

Joel has decided to speak up about this cause and also return to school.

"Although it does not get much attention in our society, it is a very serious and painful condition that often gets 'swept under the carpet,' " she wrote on Facebook. "I hope to bring this topic more to light... I'm even going back to school for Psychology in hopes to learn more about this and many other afflictions that many of us have had to face."

For those who are struggling, Joel has offered suggestions such as finding a therapist, trying out intensive outpatient programs and, she wrote, "if you're still feeling blue," taking a hot bath with herbal salts to perk up.

"Thank you ALL for sharing your thoughts with me on heartbreak-related depression. It's a comfort to know that we're all in this together," Joel wrote on Sunday. "Let's all help to shed the light on [this]; it is a REAL & SERIOUS condition that affects millions, and it SHOULD get TREATED!!!"

As you can see from Alexa's heartfelt and brave sharing, Syndrome Syndrome can strike at any time, most often, and most tragically, without the sufferer even knowing that they have been afflicted.

In Alexa's case, though, the diagnosis is, thankfully, apparent.

What was, obviously and understandably, a very difficult time for her resulted in the onset of depression, a clincially recognized, and thankfully treatable, condition.

But, like so many victims of SS before her, Alexa didn't realize that the exposure to modern pop/medical culture and it's obsessive need to find a label for everything and everything with a label would cause that condition to mutate and depression became...

"Heart-break" depression.

Or HBD, as it will come to be known.

As opposed to, to mention a few...

DGTRD..."Didn't Get The Raise Depression"

GFOTHD..."Got Fat Over The Holidays Depression"

GUFOTHD..."Got UberFat Over The Holidays Depression"

CFTSTMTPD..."Can't Find the Shoes To Match The Purse Depression"

CCUWANFTDD..."Can't Come Up With Another Name For This Depression Depression"

and, probably the most painful and frightening of all...

OMGIJMCSD..."Oh My God, I Just Married Charlie Sheen Depression."

Luckily, there is hope and each day research is bringing us closer to finding the cure for Syndrome Syndrome, or as some experts privately call it, "the spin off syndrome".

As in, if depression were the Mary Tyler Moore Show, what Alexa Ray Joel has could rightly be called Rhoda.

Until that day, though, your support will help us find that cure and while I can't, legally, ask you to send me money, there are things you can do to help us put an end to this virtual virus in our culture.

Stop reading People Magazine.

Stop giving a shit about who Jon Gosselin is dating.

Stop getting your "breaking news" from TMZ.

Start worrying less about how Ellen will fit in on American Idol and more about getting your kid's teacher a ginormous salary increase.

Encourage your kids to play the violin while encouraging them to pay less attention to spoiled rich people whose stories of human tragedy and triumph always require a violin playing in the background.

Together, I know we can put an end to Syndrome Syndrome.

And, who knows, maybe someday, we'll be able to move on and work on a cure for the malady that affects us all at holiday time.

Kathy Griffin's mouth.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"...Shameless Self Promotion...."

Now available at a fine online book emporium near you...

"Reflections From A Phone Booth"

A collection of my thoughts, words and deeds in collaboration with the artful, and watchful, photographic eye of my friend Lin Barrett.

At just under twenty bucks, it's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through....

look for it at

..."a splendid time is guaranteed for all...."

"Simple as A..."

Dan Brown symbolizes wealth and success.

Largely as a result of his writing about symbols.

The Da Vinci Code.

The Lost Symbol.

He's found his pot of gold by putting a high gloss on a pretty basic premise.

People love puzzles.

And symbols.

And by offering up puzzles about symbols?


Dan's books aren't the only place in town to get our symbol puzzle fix, either.

The "National Treasure" movies with Nicolas Cage are big.

M. Night Shyamalan's move "Signs" was a big success.

And let us not leave out the granddaddy of all symbol puzzles.


All of this symbol buzz has gotten me to thinking in recent times about the power of symbols.

Logos, for example.

If I say the word "Nazi", for example, I bet you a box of Pavlov doggie biscuits that a swastika flashed across your synaptic gaps.


Just try not to think of the lizard.


The list of powerful symbols in our lives and the impact they have on us is practically endless.

From the pride of seeing the American flag flying high to the perceptible twinge of sorrow at the first sighting of a flag flying at half mast.

From the comfort of a single cross to the revulsion of a cross burning.

Symbols need not be complex or dramatic to have enormous power, though.

Consider the letter A.

Now, there's a symbol with some game.

Childhoods and, accordingly, lives can be altered at the sight, or lack, of that symbol on a report card.

Livlihoods can be enhanced or destroyed by the awarding, or denying, of that symbol on the ratings Health Depts use for restaurants, cafes, et al.

The operaion of machinery, the assembly of products, the system of successfully acommplishing almost anything can be fatally flawed and/or wounded if the user inadvertantly skips over that symbol and starts with Step B.

And romance?

Affairs of the heart and their blossoming or dying depend entirely, at a critical moment, on that symbol.

The letter A.


What budding romance has not been brought to full flower by the utterance or writing of the simple phrase....

Love you.

And what hopes have been dashed by the excruciatingly simple substitution of a single letter.

The very powerful letter A.

Love ya.

Dan Brown makes a pretty good living taking three years to write complex novels about symbols.

I could do a thousand pages, before breakfast, about how a single letter begins the process of "just want to be friends.."

Chances are, if you're a romantic, you could, too.

Fuckin' A.

Friday, January 1, 2010

"...'Pay Per View' Seems Redundant..."


Give or take 364.

I'll de-code that for you shortly.


(CNN) Every few years or so, GSN (formerly known as Game Show Network) tries to stray away from its original model of being the home for classic and new game shows. Occasionally, those moves into uncharted territory have worked, such as the Sunday night staple "High Stakes Poker."

But, more often than not, GSN's efforts to tackle "reality" shows and the like have failed. Any0ne remember the horse racing-themed "American Dream Derby" or the Chuck Woolery-centric "Naturally Stoned"? Neither lasted long.

Now, GSN is stepping out of its traditional realm once again. Next month, the channel will premiere a "reality" show chronicling the life of "Newlywed Game" host Carnie Wilson, as well as a "hidden camera" comedy game called "Hidden Agenda." The game show Web site BuzzerBlog is also reporting that GSN is also considering a "reality" show about women who play the dice game Bunco, as well as weight loss show.

What makes GSN unique is that, despite its flaws, it is generally a cable channel targeting a specific market - fans of game shows and games in general. And it's one of the last of the true "niche" cable networks.

Years ago,
many cable channels were like that. Bravo and A&E used to be tailored to fans of fine arts, while TLC was home to educational fare. MTV, VH1 and CMT were your homes for all things music, primarily videos.

Now, they all seem to be going after the same audience, broadcasting
the same obnoxious "reality" shows and other "in your face" pop culture fare.

I admit that I'm a creature of habit. And while I'm not totally averse to trying new things (after all, every thing is new until its done the first time, right?), I tend to "dance with the one that brung me".

Ergo, I don't order roast beef at McDonald's.

If I want roast beef, I go to Arby's.

And if I'm standing at the counter or sitting at the drive thru menu of the local KFC, you can pretty much bet a sure thing by assuming that I'm going to be asking for bird and not bass.

Last time I checked KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, not Kennebunkport Fish Cakes.

So in that spirit, and it will come as no big surprise to you at this point I'm sure, I'm not going to be watching any "reality" shows on Game Show Network.

Even if I felt like wasting more than sixty seconds of my life watching reality shows.

Which I don't.

And won't.

What I'm tempted to do is begin a grass roots campaign to shut cable television, as we know it, down.

Because it's a scam.

Or more accurately, a pretty sweet idea gone terribly sour.

Commercial television, it its original incarnation, was a trade off.

Hours of entertainment, news, information, et al, free of fee.

In return, we agreed to hours of commercial announcements and whatever programming was shoved at us at any given moment on any given channel.

But even that was okay because the industry provided us two circuit breakers, lest we prefer not to view said commericals and/or programming.

Remote control for changing channels.

On/off switch.

Everybody was happy.

Cable TV came along with a smooth talking line of bullshit that likely puts even Tiger Woods' pickup lines to shame.

"Commercial free" programming.

"Niche" programming.

"Uncut, uncensored and unabridged" programming.

But for a price, Ugarte, for a price....

Well, fair is fair, though.

You get what you pay for.

And after all, cable was really VIP TV, wouldn't you say?

Let the riff raff who can't fork over the bucks watch the chopped up movies and mindless sitcoms and the thirteen minutes of commercials in every hour.

Put in snobspeak...

TV was coach.

Cable was first class, baby.

Somewhere along the way, though, our luxurious, members only, small screen society started to experience some downgrading.

Little things, at first, like "promotional spots" for upcoming cable programs.

...American Movie Classics, one of the pioneer "uncut, commercial free" cable movie channels started cutting and commerical-ing.

...the pop ups (INSERT SCREAM HERE)...not only a tacky way to promote what's coming on later, but done in such a way as to block the view of what's on NOW.

..."made for TV movies" which might have been justifiable on, oh say, the Made For TV Movie Channel, but clearly an insult to our intelligence on The History Channel.

...reality shows...on the Game Show Network.

and what has to undeniably be the last straw.

"Coming up next, Kathy Bates and James Caan in the classic "Misery"...right here on The Weather Channel..."

Commercial free programming.


Niche programming.


Uncut, uncensored and unabridged programming.

Gone, baby, gone.

The carriage has turned back into a pumpkin.

And the little curtain/door separating us from coach is a distant memory.

But the stiff monthly fee for flying first class?


The old bait and switch.


Same shit, different day.

Some years ago, I had an idea for cable.

The Scam Channel.

Too late, though.

Cable already has The Scam Channel.

All of them.