Tacky, tacky.

Well this was a Monday morning fit for the weekend it followed. I was in a bad mood for about 48 hours, entirely media-induced. I wish there was a way to check one’s hormone levels from day to day — gauges installed in the forehead, perhaps — so I’d know when to stay away from the papers.

It started Saturday with “This American Life” on Saturday, a particularly pungent episode called “The Audacity of Government.” (From the promo: “We’ve decided to spend an hour admitting and talking about the fact that everyone knows is true: America’s become a jerk.”) Part I was about the Bush administration’s attempt to buffalo an independent treaty commissioner, in order to enforce the “property rights” of a couple who built an illegal wall in their back yard, which backs up to the Canadian border. Part II was about the government’s relentless efforts to deport the immigrant widows of American citizens who died before their spouses’ permanent residency could be established — a group that numbers barely over 100.

It continued when I got home and read the story about this poor schmo, a former kindergarten teacher in his second trial for sexually assaulting two boys. It’s his second trial because his first conviction was overturned. The boys claim he grabbed them out of a lunch line and into an empty classroom and raped them both. Unfortunately, the classroom was never empty in the course of the day, and the kids showed all the signs of having been coached, and their stories changed with the wind. What happened? No one knows, but it’s highly likely the teacher on trial, practically the definition of a pencil-neck geek, didn’t do what he’s accused of. The jury has been deadlocked for a week, 11-1 for acquittal, but the holdout seems determined to hold out forever.

The funk lifted when he had our long-delayed dinner with friends Saturday. Main course: lamb chops. Mmm, lamb chops in the spring. Yum. But the next day, more outrages in the daily papers:

Remember when “vulgar” was a word everyone understood, and a description no one wanted to attract? Ah, those were the days:

Like so many of the over-the-top birthday parties that typically appear on “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV, Ariel’s celebration took the fairy-tale-princess theme to new heights.

Horse-drawn carriages delivered teenage guests to a faux-castle tent where they were met with dancing jesters and disco lights. The birthday girl, wearing a white dress and tiara, flew in via helicopter. And the evening ended with fireworks and the arrival of Ariel’s gift from her father: a brand new BMW 325i.

As viewers learned, Ariel’s dad was a successful oilman. “I love oil. Oil means shoes and cars and purses,” Ariel exclaimed to the camera as she and her father stomped around oil drilling sites in the muddy hills near her home in Campbellsville, Ky. When her father pointed to one of the sites and told viewers that it produced 120 barrels a day, Ariel asked, “How many Louis Vuittons is that?” Her father’s answer was “a bunch.”

Now there’s a lede that’ll keep you reading, even though you know what comes next: Ariel’s daddy is a swindler and thief, not to mention a man whose sense of restraint and decorum makes Tony Montana look like Prince Charles. Say what you want about WASPs, with their buttoned-down nerdiness and toothpaste tube squeezers and 25-cent tips for the yard man, but at least they don’t go around hiring choppers for their kid’s birthday party.

When the Obama administration sweeps into office, I look foward to seeing Ariel’s father face a firing squad. Ariel herself will be sent to a forced-labor camp for youthful offenders. ¡Viva la revolucion!.

Grumble, grumble. On to the Free Press and there was Mitch Albom, ever the edgy opinionator, going waaaay out on a limb to stake his claim that religious fanatics who shun doctors and sit idly by praying while their kids die of treatable diseases are — hold on to your hats — bad parents. But where is the qualifier? Ah yes, here it is:

Now I know there are many of us who believe “God has a plan.” And I hope and pray that’s true.

But I’m betting His plan doesn’t include us sitting around doing nothing.

Well-said, brave boy! My brother thinks picking on Mitch Albom is a waste of time. I heartily agree. And yet, I cannot stop.

Finally, in despair, I thought a little celebrity gossip might do me some good. Uh, no:

Madonna wants to remake “Casablanca,” set it in Iraq, and play the Ingrid Bergman role. Dr. Kevorkian on speed-dial for that one, baby.

So how was your weekend?

Oh, I shouldn’t complain. It wasn’t that bad. We got our drain cleared, the dog got his annual shots and an “excellent” from the vet, and as they say, who has anything to complain about, really? Not me. But I do still have some work to do, so that’s it for now.

Posted at 11:19 am in Current events, Media |

29 responses to “Tacky, tacky.”

  1. sue said on March 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    So glad your dog is doing well. We went for an extended weekend to Southern IL to see my nephew’s new baby and escape from the snow. It was still here when we got back. Not much to do where we were; Noah is parking the ark as we speak. Golf courses were closed down, although the wineries were all open and they have some nice wines down there. Finished the weekend by watching Jane Austen on PBS. And drinking some wine. And not reading any stupid columnists or listening to any stupid commentators.
    So who gets to be Humphrey Bogart in Madonna’s remake? Ooh, and Claude Rains? And how can we work a bullet bra and a crucifix into it?

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Kevorkian for Lazlo? And then you’d have Jack Black for Col. Renaud.

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  3. MaryC said on March 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Who gets to be Paul Henreid? And am I the the only one who thinks that Victor was sexier than Rick?

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  4. Sue said on March 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Captain Renault was sexier than both of them.

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  5. brian stouder said on March 31, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t know what movie you all were watching; Ingrid Bergman is the sexy one!

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  6. Cosmo Panzini said on March 31, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Hey Madonna, pick me, pick me! I want to play Captain Renault, so I can be shocked, shocked, by the gambling at Rick’s.

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  7. brian stouder said on March 31, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Oh – and not to sound too much like Michaelj, but I (for one) don’t think media-induced bad moods can be blamed on hormones; early on, this past weekend, I hit my limit of “Hillary oughta quit and go away”, and shut the damned thing off, and the kids and I went off to Science Central. The rest of the weekend, I was either watching racey cars or racey movies, period.

    Usually, my lovely wife ROLLS her eyes when I tune over to MSNBC, or C-SPAN, or CNN, or Fox (Greta’s show is usually good stuff); and she always has. Her way of dealing with their (the MSM’s) endless spin is simply to ignore them. Over time, I have come to see the wisdom of her approach.

    If a plane crashes or a (suitably attractive) girl goes missing, they’re on it; but in these election cycles, their endless kibitzing and second-guessing and impatient prognostications finally hit a point where the only thing to do is – switch it off.

    Hillary Clinton REMAINS in the arena, and the hopes and aspirations of millions of people are invested in her. The contest hasn’t ended yet, and (truth be told) she has an almost sacred reponsibility NOT to fold up and quit now, despite what anyone says. She still has a reasonable hope of winning (and if she does win, it will be as honorable a victory as anyone else has ever achieved in US political history – and more honorable than most!) – and she is sure-as-hell a LOT closer to winning the nomination of one of the two major parties in the United States than mostly ALL of her detractors have ever been… and those folks maybe oughta shut the hell up!!

    I think, as I become an old guy, political discussions are sort of like nudity; much more interesting when spontaneous, unplanned, or even accidental; and deadly boring when it is expected, scripted, and totally predictable

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  8. Julie Robinson said on March 31, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Amen brother to shutting the damn thing off! We tried cable for a while, but 100 channels of crap is still crap, just different crap. If we ever had the a la carte option we’d get one news channel, one sports channel, and the weather.

    Most of it comes out on DVD anyway and we can get it on Netflix.

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  9. nancy said on March 31, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve often wondered, watching the endless yap yap yapping on, say, a primary night, if the people doing the yapping think they’re adding something to the discussion. As you point out, so much of it boils down to little more than more gas in the atmosphere for the plants to turn to oxygen, but damned if many of those people don’t seem to think they’re national treasures.

    Chris Matthews, I’m talking about you. Yeah, you. Also, Tim Russert.

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  10. Jolene said on March 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    You turn-off-the-box advocates might enjoy Gene Weingarten’s most recent Washington Post Magazine story. In it, he describes his reaction to 24 hours spent watching talking heads on cable TV (w/ six sets on so that he could always see what was popping), mixed w/ a little talk radio and more or less constant blog-scanning.

    An excerpt:
    The clock hits 6, everything blinks to life, and, instantly, all manners of hell are in the process of breaking loose.

    MSNBC says James Carville told Larry King that Hillary Clinton has to win Texas and Ohio to remain in the race! On the Moderate Voice, a poster named Damozel says John McCain has capitulated on torture and is now dead to right-leaning Dems! A caller to Joe Madison’s radio show complains that Tavis Smiley was an arrogant snob when he snubbed Michelle Obama by not letting her speak somewhere! A body language expert on “Fox & Friends” believes Clemens was lying because he clenched his jaw and licked his lips! On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” someone named Chuck is venturing the bold opinion, and I’m quoting this directly, that to get the nomination, Hillary’s best strategy has to be “to start winning, not losing.” Because a beagle has won the Westminster dog show, FoxNews is predicting a wave of beaglemania. Instapundit links to another blog that links to another blog, where a blogger says he “still can’t decide whether Obama is an empty suit, or worse, a truly excellent dissembler.” On something called Israellycool.com, a blogger wonders with suspicion why the mainstream media have ignored the insidious fact that, for his birthday, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il got a floral basket from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Page reports that Hillary Clinton campaign chief Terry McAuliffe says he is “more confident than I have ever been” that Hillary will get the nomination. Immediately, at least four blogs furiously link to a quote by David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, saying that an Obama victory is nearly inevitable.

    People are awake. People are opining, furiously. Only a little more than an hour has passed.

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  11. brian stouder said on March 31, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Chris Matthews, I’m talking about you

    and don’t forget those above-it-all (literally, on msnbc’s set) numbers crunchers and exit-poll analysts. Those folks, with their jumbo-tron I-phone touch screens and graphics and stocatto ‘just-the-facts’ presentations just (with apologies to Motown) make me want to SHOUT!!

    There’s bullshit, and then there’s BULLshit – and THEN there are the folks who ANALYZE the bullshit that the harried voters foisted off onto their damned pollsters, as if it was Rosetta Stone stuff!!

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  12. whitebeard said on March 31, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    After countless references to picking on Mitch Albom and your inability to stop, I decided to make my own judgment and read his latest column AND YOU ARE RIGHT.
    Albom is a perfect example of the treacle-down theory in all its meanings from the Merriam Webster online dictionary.
    1) a medicinal compound formerly in wide use as a remedy against poison
    2) chiefly British a: molasses b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup —called also golden syrup
    3) something (as a tone of voice) heavily sweet and cloying

    Suffice to say that I will never, ever doubt you again, unless you tell me that you landed in Bosnia under sniper fire with your daughter and a comedian in tow

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  13. del said on March 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    The Super Sweet 16 story reminds me that oilmen and mining investors, ever searching for the mother lode, are among the most common business swindlers. Several cases about em in the corporate law textbooks. Another reason to have been skeptical of Bush “family values.” Along with brother Neal’s involvement with the failed Silverado Savings and Loan (during his dad’s presidency, I think. Yeah, his fellow Silverado board members were surprised that the S & L’s biggest debtor turned out to be a company that he partly owned. And now, to complete my rant, must mention that FOX News labeled a recent piece about Mess-o-patamia “The Pace of Progress.”
    Madonna’s remake of the Italian movie “Swept Away” was a bust but the original was great.

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  14. joodyb said on March 31, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    when can we collectively be over madonna? who is that story for? seriously. i’d like to know the demo. this nearly cancels out that great last issue, which i read cover to cover. moms, don’t let your babies be weirdos!

    would love to hear what anyone else thought re “A Case of the Blues” in Sunday NYT mag. i hope it ruined my sister’s oatmeal, if she read it.
    {they misspelled rahm emanuel’s last name. i just noticed the cx on the website.}

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  15. Harl Delos said on March 31, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    There’s bullshit, and then there’s BULLshit – and THEN there are the folks who ANALYZE the bullshit that the harried voters foisted off onto their damned pollsters, as if it was Rosetta Stone stuff!!

    Bill said she had to win Texas and Ohio to have a shot. She lost Texas. How much analysis of that is necessary?

    Her campaign double-bills the credit cards of donors, and refuses to correct their “mistakes”, even for members of their campaign finance committee, until they file a criminal complaint. How much analysis of that is necessary?

    She’s $3 million in the red, and small businessmen trying to get paid can’t get anyone on the phone, and can’t get a response to registered letters, but she continues to spend money like a drunken sailor. How much credibility does she have, for being able to pull the economy out of the toilet? Is she, like, maybe going to teach us all how to trade commodity futures?

    Right now, she doesn’t looks like she’s ready to lead the country on Day One. She can’t even manage a little presidential campaign. Maybe she needs to learn management skills at *Halliburton* first.

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  16. nancy said on March 31, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I read “A Case of the Blues” and liked it very much, Judy, but you know what’s far more important? Barack Obama has a very mean minister.

    To answer your other question: Who is that story for? It’s for Madonna. I have no doubt they gave her photo approval, writer approval, quote approval and text approval. Maybe she wrote it herself. Who else could have written “she is breathtakingly beautiful” with a straight face?

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  17. Julie Robinson said on March 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Jolene, one of the reasons I pulled the cable plug is that I felt absorbing all the negative emotions from the people shouting at each other was unhealthy.

    If I can say that without sounding like Madonna.

    Who, BTW, never had any talent for anything but self-exploitation. Her voice is weak, nasal and unpleasant. I never understood her popularity.

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  18. Danny said on March 31, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Barack Obama has a very mean minister.

    No, he has a racist minister. And he went there for 20 years. And he “disagrees” with these “views,” but there it is. And there he was in the pews. And you are having a bad day, so we won’t go there today, ‘cuz I like you anyway.

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  19. Danny said on March 31, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Who, BTW, never had any talent for anything but self-exploitation. Her voice is weak, nasal and unpleasant. I never understood her popularity.

    And and and… SHE is responsible, in very large part, for MTV. And there is a lot of truth to “video killed the radio star.”

    To get a recording contract nowadays, you have to be good looking and that’s about it. No other talent required. And usually, there isn’t any.

    A lot of groups that we cherish from the old days could not even make it now. Sad.

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  20. sue said on March 31, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Danny’s “I like you anyway” comment made me think. Long ago, way back in the 70’s, I had several friends who were “Jesus Freaks”. They loved to tell you about their Guy and if that wasn’t your thing, that was ok, ’cause Jesus loved you anyway. Where have these folks gone? You couldn’t get a “Jesus Christ Superstar” made today without the nuts on either side pitching a fit. Remember, Danny, for every Rev. Wright talking about chickens coming home to roost there’s a Falwell (or whoever, they seem to be interchangeable) blaming 9/11 on the lesbians. And they all seem to be advising presidents or presidential hopefuls; there is plenty of religious nonsense to go around on both sides. So can we just leave it alone and go back to trashing Madonna? Please? Cause I love you anyway, and so does Jesus.

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  21. Stephanie said on March 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    On the topic of the Perry trial: An eight year old is being quoted in the Freep as having said “tea-bagging”? This story just reinforces the theory of parenting I have always imagined I will use when I have kids: I will tell them to go out in the yard and find some sticks and dig some holes and have some fun. Ugh. This case makes me shudder.

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  22. nancy said on March 31, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Yeah, “tea-bagging.” But he wasn’t coached.

    Here’s the thing about Obama’s minister, Danny — it’s a “static” issue. Those are the ones that, when you look back on a campaign a few years later, you slap your forehead and say, “I can’t believe anyone thought that was important.” The Pledge of Allegiance, Willie Horton, whether or not John Kerry spent Christmas in Cambodia. You can discuss the ins and outs of black racism forever, but bottom line, I don’t think Obama is a secret racist. I think he put up with Wright for as long as he did because a) Wright’s racist outbursts were fairly rare; and b) they were counterbalanced by the man’s good points; and c) the biggie — it was just easier and more conducive to family peace not to do anything.

    But ultimately, I just don’t think it fucking MATTERS. What matters is health care, Iraq, the economy, stopping the slide and how we can somewhat restore the U.S.’ standing in the world community. All the rest is static.

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  23. brian stouder said on March 31, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Well, I learned a new term today….and in googling the term ‘tea-bagging’, I found that this is something one might do in a First Person Shooter video game like Halo, where you kill a guy and then repeatedly ‘crouch’ over his remains – thereby conducting a ‘virtual teabag’ (now there’s an oxymoron!)

    As for Obama’s pastor, the worst a person can say about it is that it reflects a cold political calculation on the part of Senator Obama – not unlike President Bush (et al) appearing at Bob Jones University.

    “But Obama sat in the pews for 20 years!” – true enough; and he built a political base that got him into the statehouse, and then into the US Senate.

    Really, this reminds me a bit of Lincoln’s political rise – wherein he was dogged by the persistent rumor that he was a ‘scoffer’ – that he didn’t really believe in anything beyond the material world. And as a young man, that was true. (in fact, he wrote a scathing denunciation of Christianity as young fellow, which his friends got hold of and BURNED!) Still, he read and re-read the bible, and was as quick and sure with biblical references as any preacher. As his life progressed, his complex faith in something beyond the material world developed (but while he often referred to God in his public and private writing, I’m hard-pressed to recall reading any references by Lincoln to Jesus Christ)… but why did he – as a young man – work to become so familiar with the bible? Certainly, it gave him an understanding of (and a common reference point with) the people around him, who were involved in the Second Great Awakening at the time.

    By way of saying, if you are an ambitious black man in south Chicago, and you want to get into politics and earn your fellow citizens’ votes, you better start out with a genuine understanding of what they feel, and what they believe, and why.

    It’s an imperfect world, and a politician has to start somewhere. Show me where Obama said terrible things about this or that, and I’ll listen.

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  24. Jolene said on March 31, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Amen to your comments re Rev. Wright, Brian and Nancy. Following up on Brian’s comment re Obama’s political motives, it’s worth noting that Wright’s comments were not so much racist as highly critical–in some cases, irrationally critical–of the United States. The church thus offered not only a place to meet and come to know potential constituents, but a community of potential supporters who were accustomed to being challenged to mobilize for change.

    That such messages would be articulated in a black church is totally unsurprising: People have focused on the idea that Rev. Wright appears to hate America, but black people have had to wonder for a very long time whether America hates them.

    It’s also worth noting that it’s been a couple of weeks now and, despite lots of reviewing of DVDs, no shocking new tapes have been revealed. The “30 seconds out of 30 years” charge appears, so far, to have been valid.

    But, again, as Nancy says, it’s static.

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  25. joodyb said on March 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    the whole wright thing is stupid. anyone who had to take a Black Studies or African American culture class in the 70s (as in ‘required to graduate’) knows better.
    i take my comforts where i can. “Blues” hit all my buttons. the character of Tom Cole is the stuff of great novels. i thought the story amazingly crafted and i rued anew that you can count on one hand the number of newspapers that produce such stories anymore. i kept wondering how long it had been in the soup, and how long the editor had! plus the whole ‘map’ mythology is like something out of Middle Earth.
    so what do i do today? rewatch both installments of Bush’s War. color me a little strung out on the decades-in-the-making GOP monolith. it’s CRAZY-MAKING that people don’t know or care that they’ve been led around by the nose. or that my mom wonders if obama’s ‘muslim past’ will hurt his chances. or that certain radio talkers haven’t spontaneously combusted.
    OK, done.

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  26. joodyb said on March 31, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    oops: meant to say kudos to sprig. having just come from shot day at the vet with ken, i look forward to his adult years (can you say ‘muzzle’?). not pretty.

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  27. Harl Delos said on March 31, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    black people have had to wonder for a very long time whether America hates them.

    You really think so? I suspect most were pretty convinced. Google the names of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith.

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  28. Danny said on March 31, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Sue, I may have misunderstood your comment or vice versa, but I really sincerely meant that I like Nancy. And I know she is agitated today.

    As for the “Jesus People,” more than a few became pastors. A lot of Calvary Chapel (non-denom) pastors came from that movement/era.

    Brian, minor quibble. I did not use any exclamation points in my original post. I assume you did so accidentally when you (mis)quoted me. The only reason I bring it up is because people can get excited enough around here about my posts without embellishment.

    Nance, good points Hope your feeling better. I’ve had a trying few days myself.

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  29. whitebeard said on March 31, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Oh, my, I have it all wrong. I thought people went to church to meet their friends, see who has a new hat, see which politician was in attendance for the first time in months (that usually signalled in Canada that the Prime Minister was going to dissolve Parliament and call an election, but had not made it public yet)
    But I didn’t know you were suppose to really listen to the sermons as if there were going to be a test after to see if you heard and understood all the words.
    If there was an exit poll outside many churches, there would be so many versions of the sermon just given that the pollster would throw up . . . . his hands.

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