Wrong turn.

I hope someone here has noticed that I’ve said not word one about Ted Williams until now. I’ll admit to having passed the link along in the first day of his story, but it was in a private e-mail, to a radio person whom I thought might appreciate the essential weirdness of it back when it was fresh. But after that, I held my tongue, because I saw how many people in my Facebook network were posting the clip from the Columbus Dispatch, and I knew what would happen.

I knew Williams would be an overnight sensation. I knew someone would give him a big break. He would be taken in, cleaned up and hustled off to the Today show to warm hearts. He’d be Cinderfella for a week, a month, a… no, just a week. A week is all we can spare a story these days. A week is the new month, a month is the new year. A year is, well, who cares? These days years run forward and backward and probably into a fourth and fifth dimension.

After a week, he would fade away, but until then, I wasn’t going to say a word. Because? BECAUSE THIS GUY IS HOMELESS. DO YOU THINK HE BECAME HOMELESS BECAUSE HE FORGOT TO PAY THE RENT? Also, because even a sane, well-balanced person would go crazy under such treatment, being the week’s designated heartwarmer. Gabby Giffords’ aide, Daniel Hernandez, is this week’s. He seems like a nice young man. FOR NOW.

Williams imploded right on schedule. He turned himself in to a rehab facility — on television! — for none other than Dr. Phil. I assume it’s the standard 28-day residential program. Whew. Now I don’t have to think about him for a month.

A woman from People magazine interviewed for a journalism fellowship the year after my class, and her idea for the year was outstanding — spend it researching and writing a book about people who become accidental celebrities. Overnight sensations. At the time, the Elizabeth Smart case was in the news, and she mentioned that family as the textbook case for the total weirdness that can overtake a person thrust into the public eye with no active effort on their part. Remember how strange that case was? How many press conferences the parents called, how generously they provided hours of video footage of their home movies, how welcoming they were to any old news crew that wanted to drop in and poke around their two artfully decorated houses? They were the first people I’ve seen in a while who could outlast a crowd of reporters; it seemed they never said, “OK, one more question and we’re going to wrap it up.”

And then when Elizabeth was found, they got right back into the groove — more press conferences, no question left unanswered. It was merely strange until I read that Elizabeth had asked to audition to play herself in the TV movie about the case. At the time, a smart person could speculate pretty accurately what went on during her captivity, and it was confirmed in her recent court testimony about it: She was raped daily for nine months. And she wanted to relive it on a film set, shot by shot. Clearly, this publicity stuff is powerful medicine.

But back to Williams. He admitted to “problems with drugs and alcohol.” And yet some producer thought he’d make for a few minutes of warm hearts.

Who are these producers, and how old are they? Eighteen?

And so another week lurches to a close. I’m hoping next week will be calmer, as I don’t have too many of these in me. How about a little bloggage?

We haven’t had an OID (only in Detroit) story for a while: It’s auto-show week, and during that time all the companies have fleets of cars not just under the exhibit lights of Cobo, but out on the streets as well. One of BMW’s haulers was loading high-end Beemers onto a truck outside the Book Cadillac Hotel when he was distracted for, he estimates, 60 seconds. Oops.

We’ve all seen the best-of lists for 2010, so now it’s time for the worst-of. NYMag considers the movies. Admittedly, No. 1 was easy to predict, but it was nice to see “Black Swan” made the list, too.

Amy Chua, the crazy Chinese mother, finds the “I was drunk” excuse of the media age: It was the editing. Thanks, Moe, for digging this one up.

Whatever you do, don’t do it there: The peculiar slight of adultery conducted in [ominous chords, organ sting] the marital bed.

This weekend looks like heaven to me. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 8:49 am in Current events, Detroit life |

73 responses to “Wrong turn.”

  1. coozledad said on January 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

    A friend of mine used to do a lot of grunt work in divorce cases, and got to take advantage of the retaliatory auctioning or giving away of litigants’ belongings. He was in South Carolina, so he had at least one bass boat, and told me he could have had a “goddamn fleet”.
    I guess before the bedbug scare, one of the perks of being a divorce lawyer meant never having to buy furniture.

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  2. Scout said on January 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

    The 2010 Worst Movie reviews were hilarious. I read all of them, sometimes shrinking with embarrassment when they panned movies I actually liked (Burlesque, Eat Pray Love). Luckily for my wallet, I did not see any of the Top Ten. Next up, a trip to my Netflix queue to remove Here.After.

    The Wang piece about Amy Chua’s controversial Journal article was enlightening. Now I do want to read the book. The best part about Wang’s piece was the dig he took at She-Who at the end!

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  3. Dorothy said on January 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Can’t believe “Love and Other Drugs” wasn’t on the top ten list of worst movies. My son’s girlfriend wanted to see it, so she and I saw that while the guys saw “Tron.” I’m glad I already know and love Megan so I’m not judging her by her taste in movies.

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  4. Bitter Scribe said on January 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I could see the Smart family wanting to stoke the publicity fires while Elizabeth was missing–keep the case in the public eye, and all that. But she wanted to play herself in a TV movie? That’s pretty weird.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

    The producers aren’t 18, silly — they’re all 23 or 24. God bless ’em.

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  6. LAMary said on January 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Amy Smart wanted to play herself? Ugh. I hadn’t heard that detail. I’m going to stifle any comments about Mormons.

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  7. Deborah said on January 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I missed the Ted Williams story somehow. When I first saw the name in your previous post or comment Nancy, I thought you must have been talking about old time baseball. The homeless Williams was not on my radar screen at all.

    Scout, I bailed on the Wang piece before I got to the last paragraph, but I went back and read the whole thing after I read your comment.

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  8. Dorothy said on January 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Are you SURE Elizabeth Smart wanted to play herself in a t.v. movie about it?! That sounds just a little too out-there to be believable.

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  9. ROgirl said on January 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The stolen car has been found!


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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2011 at 11:45 am



    This bar will rack up mostly 9’s and 10’s, I’m sure. Don’t know how they selected their sample — I’m almost hoping for some odd quirk making it skewed.

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  11. Sue said on January 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

    May I add this to the bloggage? Because it really pissed me off:
    The next time an absolutist gun rights type tells me that there must be no restrictions on gun ownership, I will have to agree. Know why? Because most of the same people who have legislated our gun freedoms are working very hard, at the state and national levels, to destroy by bits and pieces the reproductive rights of women in this country, and they are succeeding. Gun rights advocates only have to watch what their legislative protectors are doing to reproductive legislation to see how effective it can be. Of course, NARAL hasn’t purchased nearly as many politicians as the NRA, so gun owners are probably pretty safe still.
    Geez this frosts me.

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  12. basset said on January 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    That marital-bed story reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine, married, two grade-school-aged kids. He’s traveling for work and gets a call from his wife, who wants him to bail her out of jail. Turns out she had been in contact with her ex and brought him to their house… where they got into an argument of sufficient volume that the police showed up and arrested both of them. The kids were safe with relatives, so my friend just told her she was on her own and kept going…

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  13. John G. Wallace said on January 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    It was pretty clear to me that you can’t pluck a homeless guy off the street and wave a magic wand to fix him. This isn’t Trading Places. That kind of overnight flash-in-the-pan fame is toxic to even the best of us. I knew it was coming when TMZ followed him around the airport.
    His voice is good but half the folks I know from Connecticut School of Broadcasting can do smooth voiceovers, even me. I sort of agree with longtime voiceover guy Dan Ingramm, he wishes him success as a union member. A lot of VO pros are hurting these days also; even I used to get work.
    And let’s face it, Dr. Phil is a tool, an absolute asshat who can’t keep his own house in order. Even with a compelling story to tell, it’s not worth the trip on that turds dime. “And who ordered the grey goose?” said fake doc baldie. I dunno Phil but who paid for it? I would have like to be there just to point out Phildo is an enabler, and a bottom feeder.
    It’s akin to Morey Povich’s circus sideshow where the cheating guy always encounters a dirty young tramp in the green room; and cameras are rolling. My big question is always, didn’t they ever see the show?
    I’ve struggled with addictions and mental illness in my life and I know many others who have also. The answer isn’t always found in 12 simple steps, but in a process that takes time and requires a lot of honesty with one’s self and others. I wish him the best on that journey and I’d be thrilled for him to just be an average working guy with better days ahead.
    Have a great weekend everyone, I’m savoring the warm(er) temps and am now working with a local news website. Anyone up for next week’s Frog Leg Festival?

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  14. Bruce Fields said on January 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Hm, from that article:

    “We’ve surveyed more than 30,000 Americans, most of them college students, but also a random sample of adults from all educational and demographic backgrounds.

    Included in the adult sample was a small subset of Americans (165 in all) who, when asked, identified themselves as having been “successfully elected to government office at least once in their life” — which can include federal, state or local offices….”

    They manage to refer to get “federal” in there a few times, while avoiding explicitly stating that they actually surveyed any. Given that there are less than 600 at a time, the chance they got any is pretty small.

    (Who would those people be, mainly? County commissioners?)

    And the organization in question seems to have some serious axes to grind. The whole thing smells of troll to me….

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  15. John G. Wallace said on January 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    The big new internet MEME is “I own a horse.” It’s not funny at first then after you play the game a few times it’s addictive. I’ll let you google for the rest, but it has something to do with the Morman Church website. It’s not funny but I’m laughing now. There’s another one floating around of a similar idiotic tone about magnets.

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  16. Rana said on January 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Jeff (tmmo), I am sceptical of that survey, even though it generated an interesting article. Basically, the differences in percentages for all but the Electoral College question are within what should be the statistical margin of error (+/- 5%). And the sample size for the officials is so small!

    So I shall raise an eyebrow over whether it actually tells us anything beyond the fact that Americans as a whole clearly need more education on the subject.

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  17. alice said on January 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Not sure if I missed a mention of this, but James Ellroy has a new show starting. (I’m terrified this channel will run out of corpses, then what will I watch?).


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  18. brian stouder said on January 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Jeff’s article was interesting, and it reminded me of last night’s Final Jeopardy question, which I would have missed, and for which I didn’t even have a credible guess. The Category was “Law”, and the Answer was something like: This Federal protection was first adopted in 1790, and was originally limited to 14 years.

    dadeedadeedadeeDAH (etc)

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    What is copyright, Alex?

    Rana, it’s not that elected folk are really worse so much as they should be dramatically better. Maybe a version of the citizenship test required when you draw petitions from the board of elections? And even if they’re mostly county commissioners & school board members — those elected offices bump more directly into our lives than most of what the Senate does. Love to know the Congress outcome would be on this test.

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  20. brian stouder said on January 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Others said “What is Patent protection” ; “What is the Writ of Habeus Corpus?” and “What is Witness Protection?(!)” –

    But you are RIGHT! And what was your wager? – you bet it all!! Well done, sir!

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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Can I buy a vowel now?

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  22. JayZ(the original) said on January 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm


    I have no doubt that every one of my former high school civics’ class mates (including the C students) would still be able to answer all ten correctly, thanks to Mrs. Haluska of the Chicago public school system.

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  23. Dexter said on January 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Yeah, the daughter brought a jug of vodka up to see daddy in his suite in the fabulous LA hotel…but Ted had said he was clean and sober over two years.
    I doubt that…well, I know it, because Ted already said he “…had been drinking recently” .
    Drinks led to arguments, cops, a show plan for Dr. Phil, and a rehab stint for Ted.
    I am pulling hard for Ted, because I am certain alcoholics and drug addicts can conquer their demons with the one-day reprieve method. Just for an hour, a day, and then repeat tomorrow. Some can’t grasp the theory; the odds are stacked against them…but then again…a friend in AA not only has 15 years sobriety but he won $500 on a stupid scratch-off lottery game yesterday, so the odds can indeed be beaten.

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  24. Rana said on January 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Jeff, I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. Excellent point.

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  25. Jolene said on January 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    It seems, Dexter, like the key to breaking an addiction is the willingness to be totally honest with oneself–or, at least, susceptibility to shame when the effects of one’s actions are pointed out. I didn’t see him on Dr. Phil, but, in earlier appearances, it seemed like Ted had some way to go on that dimension. Like you, though, I’m pulling for him.

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  26. Bruce Fields said on January 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    This: http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2010/summary_summary.html is the only report I can find on that study. (See tabs on the left for sections with more detail.)

    The original report doesn’t mention the results for elected officials, that I can see; probably somebody just went back to the data, saw that if they picked out people who answered yes to the “have you ever been elected to public office” question, and their answers to the 10 constitution-related questions, then they got an answer they liked, and figured they could get some publicity trying to link it to the reading-the-constitution-in-congress thing even though it clearly has nothing to do with congress.

    They’re attempting to use the data to answer some question the survey wasn’t designed to answer, there’s no margin of error, no regression analysis to account for other correlations, no real meaning I can see to it all; we don’t even know the respondents actually *were* elected officials at any time–all it would take would be for 6% of people to answer that “public office” question wrong to get the numbers they got!

    In short, ignore it, it’s not serious….

    (Edit: and, Jeff, I agree, I care about the education of city council people too, that wasn’t my point: my point is that anyone trying to hook this data to a story about congress should be ignored: they’re trying to rile you up, not to explain anything to you.)

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  27. brian stouder said on January 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    But, bottomline, 10 question pop quizzes on a Friday are always fun!

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    We could call it “troll-picking” the data, Bruce! I’m just worried that Nancy has almost suggested the next major news theme, a sort of back to the future move: “drunk editing.” In practice, it’s never as glamorously done as Cary Grant can manage.

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  29. Sue said on January 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Michael Steele just dropped out of the RNC chairman’s race. I will miss his muppet on the Daily Show.

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  30. coozledad said on January 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Sue:And it’s Prinz Priebus am Rhein von Hedwig Schalatzenpiegelgeflugzug!
    Paper-hanging son of a…

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  31. prospero said on January 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Sister Sarah is a victim? One of my best friends of all times was my daughter’s au Pair. Thank God she was sara with no h. ust from a political a perception standpoint, this woman is so clueless, it would take an idiot that has no business being allowed to vote to actually think she could be President. Not to put too fine a point on things, she is just your garden variety idiot mean girl to whom logic or compassion or living a life in the interest of others is an alien concept. How does that fit with public service? The little girl that believed in the American Way is secondary to Sarah Barracuda. Sarah sure thinks so. She’s not a failed Presidential candidate, she’s a woeful excuse for a human being, ad a poster child for why Republicans do not seem to understand you can’t insist on your own legitimacy because of your Christianity and just make a mockery of everything Jesus ever said and did. We heal the sick.

    Blood Libel? Does she employ advisors with brains? That is so incendiary and so stupid it is hard to fathom. Does she have a clue what that means. Boner should find this radioactive in this situation. The Teabaggers should find it more radioactive. What is wrong with these idiots? Oh, yeah, they ‘re idiots. When you’re next move is screwing with Social Security, this is all moronic. Here’s the deal on Social Security. Every other nation that claims to be civilized, lays people off at 65 and provides a decent life. Boner thinks you should work another five years., when there was an absurd lower level for paying for a national pension. Would rich people have made that kind of built-up cash if they hadn’t put a phony limit on what they paid into the fund. WWhat was the limit at which these robber-barons stopped paying into Social Security? In what universe was that fair? When they continuex to accumulate cash? Please explain. They quit paying in and they took cash. Howw is thi not revolting? They are out-and-out robbing. How can you figure they aren’t? This is bullshit.

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  32. coozledad said on January 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    My wife calls him Monz Pubis.

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  33. prospero said on January 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I wqouldn’t want to embarrass Em in any way. She knows Republicans are flaming assholes. Matt might be a Republican. I don’s know him well yet. But he seems like a halfway good guy. And he’s the dad of my grandchild. Fact is I figured he was OK if Emily thought so. Emily is ridiculously smart. She knows all sorts of muscal things arw important. She knows REM rules. She is just way smarter than just about anybody and better taste in music too You jackasses. I’m supposed to wonder about this? You are so beyond this good try? You people hVE NOO CLUW

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  34. Linda said on January 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Scout, here’s another take on the misunderstood Tiger mother. I see a pattern here along with another trumped-up controversy book that came out in the recent past: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, by Lori Gottlieb, which basically said that American women are too picky and should just find somebody they can tolerate to marry. The publicity caused a huge backlash, followed by the author’s backpeddle.

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  35. LAMary said on January 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I watched that Q and A session with the candidates for Michael Steele’s job and I thought Priebus stood out as a real putz. Man. They want him to lead the party? I wish I felt it was good for the Dems to have the GOP pick such a turd, but somehow I think it’s probably just bad for everyone.

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  36. Kirk said on January 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Anyone have a spare ‘lude?

    EDIT: Great. Now this doesn’t make sense.

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  37. MaryRC said on January 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I can’t help wondering what the Tiger Mom’s book and resulting publicity is doing to the oldest daughter. In every article, the youngest daughter Lulu is portrayed as the one who rebelled and made her mother re-examine her child-rearing ideas. The older daughter isn’t mentioned very much (except as the Carnegie Hall piano player) but the impression is that she was the passive, obedient one who did as her mother said. Will she start wondering why, if everyone is questioning her mom’s parenting, she put up with it so long?

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  38. Tom M said on January 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Jeff (tmmo) I fear for your sanity. AOL News? That’s not brain candy, that’s heroin.
    I really hope the Republicans are maneuvered into making Palin the nominee. That will be the most fun ever because even the major media clowns can take her apart. Albeit in a non-violent way, heaven forfend.

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  39. Sue said on January 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    It seems with Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and now Reince or whatever his name is, Wisconsin is ascendant, and not in a good way.

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  40. Jolene said on January 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Terrible, Sue. And you forgot to mention your new Republican senator. I think of Wisconsin as a nice, welcoming sensibly liberal place. Sad to think there are so many Republicans are in power. But I think Obama is going to be re-elected. That’s not the answer to everything, of course, but it would mean there’s a brake on just how crazy things can get.

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  41. DellaDash said on January 14, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Ted Williams’ mother pretty much said it all by declining to be impressed that she was (undoubtedly) coerced onto the warm-fuzzie staged-reunion Today couch; and by refusing to ‘skin-up her teeth’ for the cameras in order to embrace the concept that her son wasn’t going to disappoint her once again. Sigh. I was wanting be gullible and forget my own hard-won insights into the delusions of addicts who know how to be persuasively charming con men, having been in love with one or two of them. That happy-ending disconnect with reality can be alluring when your own nest isn’t getting fouled in a day-to-day trial-by-squalidness ordeal. Keith Richard’s ‘Life’ (of a junkie) has stirred up similar reflections on the subject recently. Even gracious chateaus in the south of France can become sordid when soft Vermeer light streaming through high, arched windows falls upon hypodermic litter and rotting human flesh, no matter how genius, in a nod.

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  42. Crazycatlady said on January 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Ted Williams was the ‘feel-good’ story in a dismal time. And you know that Dr Phil will use whatever he can to get into the story somehow. I wish Ted luck, but the odds are poor. After all, Dr. Phil has his so-called Dr Phil ‘family’. And they went from screwed up to even worse. If he’s so great, how come some folks just keep screwing up?

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  43. Dexter said on January 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    DellaDash: good post. I wish it was as simple as Andy Dufresne’s “…get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'” advice in “Shawshank…”
    Of course a drunk or a junkie has to hit a bottom so hard it hurts enough to not want to live like “that” anymore.
    Ted is experienced in drinking and drugging, and it seems he figures he can con his way through this celebrity moment; I think Dr. Phil handled it perfectly, leaving the choice to go to rehab up to Ted, and allowing Ted to go back to Columbus with an escort for two days to prepare himself for his rehab month (or two?).
    Maybe Ted will drop out and return to his pauper-no-way-prince lifestyle…maybe he will really go to rehab and come out of his denial. We shall see. I don’t watch Dr. Phil, but he handled this flawlessly so far…but now it’s all up to Ted, and what Ted is feeling right now.

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  44. DellaDash said on January 15, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Hey Dexter…I think Ted is feeling no pain, befuddled, and riding too high on the euphoria of sudden viral attention to get even a glimpse of the rock bottom most of us don’t want to witness him slamming up against. Although Dr Phil infuriates me at times, and I’m skeptical that rehab at this junction can do little more than put brakes on the inevitable crash-and-burn, what a relief that media-savvy celebrity psycho-wrangler is attempting an intervention.

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  45. John G. Wallace said on January 15, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Have to say a part of me is with Tom in hoping $P is the nominee; hoping for the return of Levi Johnston, the gift that keeps on giving..

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  46. prospero said on January 15, 2011 at 7:40 am

    I actually saw Eat, Pray , Love for my Julia-obsessed better half. It wasn’t horrible. You can just go John Lennon, Turn off your mind, relax and go downstream. She is a gorgeous woman, that actually looks like a real woman. This is unusual these days. Are those girls in the vampire movies supposed to be good looking? They are singularly obnoxious, anorexic, and unattractive.

    I like movies to have somebody that looks like somebody I actually knew in High School. Julia Roberts sort of fits that bill, and she is a very good actress. If you don’t like Erin Brockovich, or The Pelican Brief, you probably just don’t like movies with movie stars, or lawyers. They’re seriously good. Lawyer movies where the good guys win: The Verdict, Runaway Jury, excellent movies. I’ve never understood this trial lawyers bullshit. These people take cases for normal people against spectacular odds and armies of lawyers for no cash upfront. What, as opposed to corporate lawyers that march into courtrooms per second per second to protect corporations from facing up to the damage they do? This is astounding, to me. This sort of battle is usually 400 to 1 or 2. People don’t get this? And corporate lawyers just lie their asses off.

    Sarah stepped in it seriously by bringing up blood libel. What a dumbass. Will any Jewish conservative nutcase ever vote for this idiot again? What a freaking moron, Blood libel? Who actually told this twat, I meant twit, to say that. She clearly has no idea what that means. So she’s a ninny? What’s new? She has no idea what most of what she spews means. In this case, she’s crashed any idea that she’s presidential. She’s stupid. This confirms it. She has no idea what comes out of her own mouth, or keyboard. Jesus, what a jerk, as Randy Newman would say. What a maroon. She’s fucked her political career forever. She’s an idiot. Thank God, she’s made herself toast.

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  47. prospero said on January 15, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Dr. Phil has his own bullshit to deal with. He’s a patent idiot that is addicted to telling people how to fix their lives. What a fool. He’s Dr. Laura on steroids. What an asshole. Oprah, you should feel shame for foisting this idiot on your watchers. The guy is inexcusable. He’s just an asshole. The Voice, he was pretty much stone cold sober when they made the video. So who cares about a whore like Dr. Phil? Jackwad. If the guy can spout, give him the job now. Sunday. Sunday. Michigan Raceway. How the hell does anybody talk like that? And who’s in the WKNR Box? That’s a question for old time Detroiters, that remember Morgus. It was Father Lechto.

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  48. brian stouder said on January 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I agree with Prospero about Julia Roberts generally, and Eat Pray Love specifically. It’s a worthwhile movie, and the soundtrack (amongst much else) was interesting. The movie’s ad campaign featured Florence and the Machine (who I love!), and – unless I missed her – Florence is entirely absent from the soundtrack of the movie itself.

    But Neil Young turns up on that soundtrack, as does Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, amongst several other evocative musical artists whom I cannot name.

    And aside from that movie, have the folks who comment here already discussed Ramona and Beezus?

    Pam got the dvd sometime before Christmas, and our girls (12 and 6) have been watching it earlier this week (through days off and snow-delays), and have been cackling. They wanted me to watch it with them, and I was putting them off, a little. Then last night, as the usual ration of “news” brought nothing new at all, when Shelby suggested we watch the show, I agreed.

    I came into it expecting a movie-length cartoon, or else a live-action confection; and right at the start I was disabused of that notion, and hooked into the movie. In a word, it was wonderful, and while the girls and I laughed, the depth of the movie kept impressing me.

    Plus, the dvd extras features a very nice chat with Beverly Cleary. That whole movie experience was pleasant, on several levels (for one thing, I’ll be quicker to listen when one of those young folks says “you’ve gotta see this!”)

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  49. Julie Robinson said on January 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Brian, I haven’t seen either of these movies yet but I’ve read the books. Ramona & Beezus started with much better source material.

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  50. DellaDash said on January 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Just want to ‘big up’ the daughter of my touchstone homies in Davenport, as we’re ramping up to her big night. Who wooda thunk that what passed for a vanguard of the counter-culture on our ultra-conservative patch of the Mississippi River (interracial couple; owners of a thriving, family-run health food store & bakery called ‘Greatest Grains’) would spawn a beauty queen out of their athletic, musically-inclined brood. Especially Pauli, b-ball ace extradonaire. When I returned home for a visit a few years ago, she was Miss Scott County, very girlie and pageant-driven, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at Thanksgiving to find she’d become Miss Iowa. It would be nice to be able to watch her compete tonight as one of the 15 Miss America finalists…wholesome Pauli Mayfield strutting her decent, middle-American, boomer-parented, self-motivated, thoroughly good-kid stuff in Las Vegas, bastion of uber-sleaze.

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  51. prospero said on January 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Who in hell is Robert Pattinson? Am I hopelessly out of date? I don’t even have a recollection of a Kanye song, if you could call any of that shit a song, The worst Movies reviews were predictably asinine. Who are these people?Blue Velvet and Eraserhead showed up on these lists back in the day. It’s all a matter of taste. The great national tragedy is that San Dierdork is still foing football on playoff games. John Madden is bad enough. I played in high school. Two of my brothers were outstanding college players. None of us ever heard any of these blowhards say anything that wasn’t ridiculously obvious. Madden in particular. No duh, John.

    Hines Ward is the best player in the NFL, and he was just victimized by moron officials. His facemask was grabbed while he made a tremendous block. Refs in every sport screw up the sport. Wannabes, without a doubt. Or they just get dazzled, like letting Jordan take three and reach in, push off, all the time.

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  52. brian stouder said on January 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Della – I am now rooting for Miss Iowa, all the way!!

    The young folks – minus the 6 year old, who had a birthday party to go to – and I went to the movie house today, and caught True Grit.

    That movie was simply marvelous; what a great motion picture!

    And – I rise in defense of the Coen brothers*, with regard to the (supposed) continuity error when Mattie emerges from the river. Water was streaming off her hat, and her clothes appeared wet, to me.

    I shall have to reassess those artists; up this point, their movies have turned my head, but then (in my opinion) become unnecessarily bloody and nihilistic. But this movie was superb from the very opening, to the very end. I loved the unambiguously heroic (and good, and true-hearted) Mattie.

    During the courtroom scene, early in the movie, the thought occurred to me that if Spielberg ever really does go forward on his movie about Abraham Lincoln, he should hire the Coen brothers to capture the atmosphere of 19th century America

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  53. Sue said on January 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    brian stouder: She looked dry to me, but that might have been because I was looking for her to be dry after Nancy’s comment. My sister mentioned to me today that the scene where Mattie emerges dry from the river was also in the John Wayne version. Do you think the Coens might have done that on purpose?

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  54. Dexter said on January 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Miss America? What great mind ran this show up against pro football playoffs?
    I remember when it was in September, the Bert Parks extravaganza, from AC.
    I had no idea…never heard a peep, read nothing about the pageant being held tonight. What kind of share did it get?
    Do people gather to watch it with friends, like people do for football?
    I mean, gee, I watch a lot of TV, I listen to satellite radio a lot, a variety of stations, I watch the evening news every night, and somehow I never saw a commercial, nothing. Was it on some obscure cable network like Oxygen? Because in between plays of hockey and football, I surf stations and check the guide…still saw nothing about the pageant.

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  55. brian stouder said on January 15, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Do you think the Coens might have done that on purpose?

    Yes, I think you’re right. The whole movie had a certain feel, that struck me as different from the Coens’ other films, and very much in stride with what we wanted to see.

    The beauty and the magic of the thing was, they struck an exquisite balance between “horse opera” and rough-edged realism.

    Leaving that movie aside, this evening Pam got me to watch Flipped, which I started out not liking (its structure took a little getting-used-to), but which grew upon me. Rebecca De Mornay is somewhat wasted in the movie, but that’s OK; it’s a goodie nonetheless

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  56. Jakash said on January 16, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I really wanted to like “Flipped”. I always root for Rob Reiner. I don’t understand what makes one work (“Stand By Me”, for instance), and another not. But Flipped just seemed pretty lame to me. That was the first I’d seen Rebecca De Mornay in a long, long time.

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  57. DellaDash said on January 16, 2011 at 2:35 am

    If I didn’t have a dog in the hunt, I would’ve known nothing about tonight’s Miss America broadcast. I think I heard something about it just coming back to network TV this year. Who knows where it’s been since Bert bowed out, but I believe it’s become the ugly stepsister to ‘the Donald’s’ Miss USA brand, where nothing is required of the contestants but bimbo beauty.

    Anyway, my girl didn’t make the cut. She’ll live. And maybe I’ve been spared some awkward dissembling if her singing had turned out to be as wince-inducing as the woeful vocal stylings on offer…Nina Simone and Sam Cooke were evoked and eviscerated, among others. (My BFF in Nashville is a songbird. I shudder at the thought of subjecting her to such offal, even for laughs.) The winner, 17-year-old Miss Nebraska, who likes to design and build clothes with colored duct tape, hunched over a baby grand to play, atrociously, a Chopsticks composition. I’d need a poison-tongued trannie to adequately describe the Michael Jackson number performed in pleated mini-skirt and red toe-shoes, or the eerily spasmotic ‘Lord of the Dance’ semblance of an Irish jig.

    There were two talents I actually enjoyed: Miss Oklahoma danced on pointe, ballet recital grade, but she didn’t overreach, keeping her lines pleasingly clean and simple; and Miss Arkansas not only turned out to be a killer ventriloquist, with two freaky dummies on each side of her that she handled with aplomb, but she made them sing and YODEL with the best voices of the night.

    There is an athletic talent all pageant contestants share that never fails to flabbergast me…the ability to parade around endlessly, gracefully, tirelessly…in 5 or 6-inch spike-heeled ‘fuck-me’ shoes that I know for certain are only good for dangling decoratively from feet flung up in the air.

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  58. brian stouder said on January 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Della, our 12 year old found the show for me, and we watched 5 women get picked (out of the 10 finalists?) for The Question. When we didn’t see Ms Indiana or Ms Iowa, interest waned, and we drifted off to something else.

    One more movie we caught recently was Everybody’s Fine, which is an odd movie. Watching Robert DeNiro is pleasant enough to pull you to the end of the movie, but other than that – eh. (although Kate Beckinsale is always fun to watch, too).

    They should have called it “Everybody’s Lyin'”, because essentially, that was the point of the picture

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  59. Dexter said on January 16, 2011 at 11:25 am

    So I was right, eh, DellaDash? It did disappear from network “free tv” , right?
    And now it’s back. The way the GB-ATL football contest was killing me with boredom, I’d have taken a gander at the beauties if I would have realized it was on.
    Then again, I always miss the CMA awards and almost everything else like that except the Oscars because I don’t pay that much attention. How I missed the contest last night is odd, as I was surfing a lot between plays of the game.
    Back to football…the Jets-Pats should be a great one, and Chicago’s “Da Bears” will crush, kill, and mutilate Seattle, who has no business even being in the playoffs with seven lousy wins all year (plus a shootout win over New Orleans last week).

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  60. DellaDash said on January 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    You’re right, Dexter. It was on ABC, and you probably would’ve enjoyed how all the swimsuit entrances where shot from the rear. Sounds like football junkies will be going into withdrawals soon. After next week-end, maybe? Golden Globes tonight, btw.

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  61. brian stouder said on January 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    So, Della, I was scrolling down the Golden Globes’ nominations, and I didn’t see True Grit anywhere! That sent me off to Google-land, where I discovered many articles from mid-December (when the nominations came out) expressing befuddlement about this same thing.

    So, typical Hoosier that I am, I’m hopelessly behind the times.

    Despite being out of date, that genuinely put me off! I think I shall skip that awards show, tonight

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  62. Deborah said on January 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    The 1969 Miss Iowa and Miss Nebraska both attended the same college I went to. Miss Iowa was in my class and Miss Nebraska, who won Miss Congeniality, was a year ahead of me. They both played the organ for their “talent”. And actually they were both pretty good.

    Last night I went to a dinner party and met an elderly gentleman who had been a reporter for the Trib, as well as the Sun Times and before that the paper that Royko worked for which I have forgotten the name of (Daily News?). He told me a couple of snarky stories about Bob Greene. One was about Green’s Prince Valiant styled rug that would often be askew. And the other was about another colleague who worked with them who’d had a kid before Greene’s daughter was born. When Greene’s book came out about the birth of his daughter, “Good Morning Merry Sunshine”, Greene had confiscated some stories about this colleague’s child that were told in passing, as if they had happened to Greene himself. The colleague was pissed about it too. You know what they say, “If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit here by me”, I had a blast. I heard a bunch of stories about Royko, Ebert and Studs Terkel too, not necessarily bad stuff, just very entertaining.

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  63. Deborah said on January 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Oops I was wrong it was 1970 Miss Iowa and Miss Nebraska that I went to college with.

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  64. Julie Robinson said on January 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    We just returned from True Grit and it was indeed a very fine movie, and I am rooting for young Hallie to receive an Academy Award nomination. I watched the river scene closely, and she is wet as she gets out, but dry just a moment later on shore. Someone will just have to watch the original for comparison purposes. It’s not on Netflix instant watch or I’d fast forward to the scene to answer the question.

    Here’s what did disturb me about the movie, from a costuming standpoint: the zipper we see on the back of Mattie’s dress three times. It jarred me right out of that suspension of disbelief that I like to enter in a movie. Suddenly I was right back in January 2011. Hubby strongly disagreed on the way home, saying I am, as always, too picky.

    The music was good too, and I’m listening to it again right now on Napster.

    But I still want to see The King’s Speech!

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  65. DellaDash said on January 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Where did you go to college, Deborah?

    I would no more miss the Golden Globes (or Oscars) than Dex would miss the Jets-Pats game, even though my tastes are more often than not out of step with inebriated Hollywood Foriegn Press or Screen Actor’s Guild politics. ‘True Grit’ got passed over? Oh well. The Co-Bros can take it. I love it more than ‘No Country for Old Men’. Have you seen ‘A Serious Man’, Brian? It’s a slightly singed valentine to Coen roots, and a refreshing departure from their oeuvre.

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  66. Deborah said on January 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    DellaDash, I graduated from a small Lutheran college in Nebraska, called Concordia. There are a number of Concorida Colleges in different cities around the country. I don’t think I got a great education, but there were a couple of awesome art professors there that I had. One of them, Reinhold P. Marxhausen was on the David Letterman show, because Letterman had seen some of his art pieces that were sort of musical instruments made out of coiled metal. Letterman kept one of them on his desk and would jiggle it from time to time making an interesting sound.

    edit: and another thing I forgot to mention Della, I lived in Davenport, IA for a very brief time early in my life before my family moved to Miami, FL where I lived most of my childhood.

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  67. brian stouder said on January 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Della, I have not seen A Serious Man, but on your recommendation, I shall! (and indeed, I suppose I’ll tune into the Globes tonight, if only because the host will surely make it worthwhile.)

    The thing about No Country for Old Men that got my goat* is – the thing IS well-made and all that; we stuck with it to the end. But it was so damned bloody, and you want certain things to happen, and the thing is all ominous and forboding all the while (so you can’t say you weren’t warned), and then at the end – it just rankled!

    But doggone it anyway – those Coen brothers DO make movies with a beginning and a middle and an end, and they’re compellingly good, even if I don’t like all of them. (Recently caught “Blood Simple”, which is early vintage Coen brothers, through and through)

    Julie – I didn’t see the zipper – but I would argue that those surely existed by the 1880’s, in any case. And – regarding the original True Grit – we hit the Red Box and snapped up a copy for a dollar, and we shall watch it very shortly. I don’t thing Netflix would suit our lifestyle nearly as well as Red Box does – and with their “reserve it” feature on the internet, one can locate the nearest location that has it, and reserve it before rolling out. Cool stuff!

    *I know, I know; maybe we should say it’s ‘no movie for old goats’, like me!

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  68. Deborah said on January 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    The zipper was invented by a Chicagoan in 1890 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitcomb_L._Judson

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  69. MaryRC said on January 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Deborah, that story about Bob Greene stealing his colleague’s experiences as a dad for his Merry Sunshine book is too funny. I always thought that must be the laziest effort to write a book, that didn’t actually involve a ghost writer writing it for you. Now I hear that he was even lazier than I had imagined!

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  70. DellaDash said on January 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    …points of intersection, Deborah…I lived on Miami Beach for a dozen years before moving up here to Nashville. You lucked out with art professor Marxhausen (great name).

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  71. DEdelstein said on January 17, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Did the woman from People get that internship? If yes, I want to read the book that comes out of it (especially if she has the suitable perspective on her own magazine’s agenda). If no, why the hell not?

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  72. Dexter said on January 17, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Deborah, Greene’s GMMSunshine was the worst book ever written; I always finish what I start…well, not that time.
    I was thinking today, as I drove past what used to be my “corner bar”, how much I miss Bill Granger (now in an old sailors home with Alzheimer’s) and Bill Stokes, who is living happily on a Wisconsin lake, last I heard.
    Granger loved telling tales of the happenings in his “corner bar”.
    He told of the colorful bar flies. Granger had the coveted Page Three column until Royko quit the Sun Times after Murdoch bought it and bumped Granger onto the Tempo section, or sometimes to Page Six.
    Those columnists really brightened up some dull gray days for me— Royko, Stokes, and Granger.
    I had great times in my corner bar, too, having a few bottles of beer and a shot or two of booze while catching up with local friends and hashing out the problems of little town living. That kind of drinking never hurt anybody…well, hardly.

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  73. Linda said on January 17, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Greene “borrowed” other parent’s stories for his book? Another Seinfeld episode comes to life (the one where Elaine’s boss wants to buy stories from Kramer for his autobiography.)

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