Oh, grow up.

I gotta admit: I was encouraged by the centurions.

When Madonna made her Super Bowl halftime entrance on a stage being towed by an army of Roman soldiers, I thought perhaps a miracle had happened, and she had developed a sense of humor about herself. It was a witty comment on the field as the arena of gladiatorial battle; of herself, as a man-eater who could only be satisfied by an army of ‘em; of, I dunno, the episode of “Rome” where Cleopatra travels about in a giant house being toted by a few dozen Nubians, while their princess lolls inside, smoking opium.

And then the show started, and oh well.

The sound was bad, but that happens in fast-changing live shows. The dancing was robotic, but that happens when everyone is hired for their robotic nature, so as not to distract from the star. And the music! Madonna’s greatest hits. Sure, of course. Because what she’s really promoting is her new movie, which no one wants to see. Madonna has been looking for her post-pop career for longer than she was fully present as a pop star, but she always ends up having to add the pop-star thing, contribute a song to the soundtrack so at least it’ll be eligible for one little award. And now, to get people to see “W.E.,” she’ll do the Super Bowl halftime show and give some interviews.

I read one the other day. She was asked about Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII’s Nazi sympathies. She denied they had any. Oh? How did she figure that? “Research,” she flatly stated. There’s not one substantive piece of evidence to prove they were Hitler-lovers, so that’s that.

Well, there’s that famous photo, and her friends’ and contemporaries’ accounts of her belief that Herr Hitler would put things right, and make her queen, once he got Europe under his boot. But of course Madge would be a Wallis fan, because they’re both such rebels! They don’t care what society thinks! They’re headstrong, too tempestuous to tame! And so on. Which is why I don’t have much hope for whatever she does next. Because she takes herself so, so seriously, with the Grande Ladye faux-British accent and always referring to herself as an “ah-tist.”

What she needs is a sitdown with Bette Midler. They’ll get along, and Bette will set her straight. Bette puts her background singers in mermaid tails and does a wheelchair dance routine. Bruce Vilanch writes her material. I’ve loved Bette since…well, since I first laid eyes on her, but especially since she came to sing at a Rolling Stone anniversary thing, maybe the 10-year party, and did what she does best: Walk into a place taking itself far too seriously and get them to stop. I remember she sang a song and then looked down at Sonny and Cher, sitting ringside. “What’s the matter, Sonny?” she asked. “Never seen a woman with bazooms before?”

Bette is about 66 now, still killing it (when she wants to), and is perfectly positioned to be Madonna’s life coach, and last best hope to find a career doing anything other than another lip-synched medley of greatest hits. If the first piece of advice she offers is “hire Bruce Vilanch,” we can at least thank her for that.

Other than that, it was a good Super Bowl, I guess. Liked the Chevy Silverado commercial best, but thought the rest were mostly meh. Clint Eastwood did his little Chrysler sermonette; I think that campaign is now officially played. You have the bookends now; let’s let it go. By next year, we’ll either have a new president (who thinks Chrysler would be better off lying dead on the ground, some private-equity vultures picking over its parts) or four more years of Obama. The case for the bailout has been made. Stop making it.

What did you think? Of all of it?

Posted at 10:56 pm in Detroit life, Popculch |
 

102 responses to “Oh, grow up.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Text as well as the video – http://media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do;jsessionid=4E969FF2DF0A49978A298E9E870E0908?&id=11963&mid=2 – I’d say that was a highlight along with the fourth quarter, and those incredible catches by Giants’ receivers, and Eli winning in Peyton’s house.

    But Chrysler & Chevy taking shots at Ford, who didn’t call on federal assistance . . . I thought that was unfortunate, and part of why the election isn’t over, even if we get to 7.5% by Nov. 1st. We have fewer actual total people employed today than in 2001, and I don’t think that will improve until we come up with some kind of coherent national health care coverage policy. Fix the benefits handcuffs, and you will see hiring shoot up like a rocket.

  2. basset said on February 5, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Didn’t see any of it, had some writing to do (just finished!) and I don’t watch football anyway. Madonna is one of those ah-tists who make me turn the channel whenever I run across them. Might watch a couple of the more clever commercials if someone posts a YouTube link, that’s about it.

  3. baldheadeddork said on February 6, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I liked the Eminem commercial last year much better. The first ad had less preaching and more middle finger, and Clint’s connection to Detroit isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the auto industry. (Dan Neil of the WSJ had a terrific take on Gran Torino and why that car was such a perfect choice of metaphor for Detroit and Eastwood’s character in the film. Worth digging up if you have a sub.)

    If you want to talk about played out, take VW’s Darth Vader ad – please. The Ferris Bueller Honda spot was just sad. It was like seeing a kinda-edgy musician from your youth hawking Time-Life compilations on late night basic cable. The Kia man dream ad was clever, but I didn’t like how it wimped out at the end. Audi definitely had the best car ad. The vampire spot was clever and just ahead of the trend curve, and its the first Audi spot in recent memory that wasn’t appealing to the uber-douche demographic.

    The halftime show was pathetic, but I’ll admit I’ve never understood filling the intermission of a football game with a way-off-the-strip Vegas show built around a pop star two or three decades past their prime. Every year there is some current band that I think would blow the roof off the place if they only let them rip for twenty minutes. This year it was The Black Keys. I have a feeling the NFL exec in charge of these things will eventually choose an act closer to 20 than 70 and people will react like he discovered the formula for cold beer. (Also, it wouldn’t effing kill the NFL to feature a rap or hip hop artists once a decade or so, and no, Justin Timberlake did not count. Start with Usher if you must, but get to Jay Z before he’s pitching T-L sets on WGN at 3am.)

    Those of us who live in the Indy market have to just be elated that the damn thing is over. Imagine the Hoosier inferiority complex paired with the brain trust that is small market local TV news production and turn that loose on covering the Super Bowl. The last few weeks have been like an unending, poorly-acted loop of Sally Field’s Oscar speech. At least there wasn’t anything else going to compete with the boosterism. Except for the conviction of the Secretary of State on voter fraud charges and the lege rushing through a right-to-get-paid-less law that Governor Reasonable Moderate signed before the ink was dry. Add up the combined minutes and column inches those stories have received and I bet you’d get change from a dollar.

  4. Dexter said on February 6, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I liked Chevy Truck / Armageddon OK until it started raining frogs ker-PLOP! on the hood of the 1984 truck there. I even smiled at the punch line about Dave not making it because he drove a Ford. Ford always made better pickups , period.
    I sat in my chair and watched the entire game and only dashed off at halftime for chips and a soda so I missed Clint but just saw it here. It was gloomy and Clint sounded and looked like the crazy guy on a soapbox in Hart Plaza. They should have brought eminem back to finish it. He sold a lot of those not-so-great 200s last year.
    I enjoyed Madonna’s show. The centurions and their costumes were rockin’ cool, and yeah the dancing was robotic but that’s how they dooz it now. I admit I had never heard of Nicki Menaj until Friday…she’s the human Barbie Doll.
    The game was just perfect. Loved it, loved the outcome, loved the last play.

  5. Deborah said on February 6, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Missed it all as I was at an airport and then on a flight. The pilot made an announcement about who was ahead at halftime (since the flight originated in NY). I was right in the middle of answering the flight attendant about what I wanted to drink (sparkling water) so I missed what the pilot said and when I turned to my husband to find out he was sound asleep. The plane erupted into cheers so I assumed the Giants were ahead. It was funny at Laguardia to watch the people who worked there sneaking off to watch a tv when it started. But We never watch the super bowl anyway so I don’t feel like I missed anything.

  6. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

    When the Super Bowl started, the NFL’s idea of halftime entertainment was Up With People and Lee Greenwood at least knowing he is free. Everybody might as well face the fact that nobody is going to top Prince’s big shadow phallus. My favorite scene from the game was watching Peyton in the Mara’s box jump up and down when the Jints went to 21. But who the hell called a running play on the conversion? Way lame.

    Bette Middler’s most famous backup singer is now Jax Teller’s mom.

  7. Sherri said on February 6, 2012 at 1:43 am

    The ads were forgettable, none as good as last year’s Enimen ad or the Darth Vader kid ad. I thought Madonna’s halftime show fit right in with most of the recent halftime shows: sad and old. Prince is the only one of the post-nipple acts who has put on a decent show. Madonna wasn’t as bad as Paul McCartney, but that’s not saying much.

    The game, on the other hand, was interesting, and NBC actually covered the game pretty well. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are much better than their counterparts on CBS and Fox.

  8. moe99 said on February 6, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Missed the whole thing and don’t regret it one bit.

  9. JWfromNJ said on February 6, 2012 at 6:24 am

    As a no cable-dish household we watched online at NBC Sports which was a mixed bag. NP watching the actual game coverage plus a few camera angle choices and replay features. We were able to view the Super Bowl ads moments after they aired on tv. The big downsides – very repetitive internet ads – saw Rainn Wilson hawking Chevy dozens of times, dozens of ads for a Samsung Galaxy phone, a movie about Navy Seals, and a series of GE ads that culminated with a GE-Budweiser hybrid that postulates that since GE workers build turbines for powerplants they in fact make it possible to make said beer. Biggest online letdown – no Madonna halftime show although it was on YouTube within 15 minutes.

  10. Connie said on February 6, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Never turned a TV on all weekend.

  11. coozledad said on February 6, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Well, what television mercifully didn’t show was where Rush’s finger had been before he got caught doing this “research”.
    http://deadspin.com/5882485/somebody-in-robert-krafts-box-is-knuckle+deep-nose+spelunking
    If he’s reduced to giving himself a stinky Hitler, it must be time for a new beard.

  12. brian stouder said on February 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

    The Superbowl was the one and only pro football game that Pam and the young folks and I watched to the end. Pam saw the flip-the-bird moment, which I missed (along with the NBC editor, apparently); but through the magic of the dvr, I then saw it.

    The Clint Eastwood commercial was marvelous, I thought. It was all but an overt ad for President Obama (“Halftime in America”, indeed!), and that’s fine with me.

    The car companies have repaid their loans, and are making profits again. GM on track to rack $8 billion? Sounds like that was a good move on the part of government, to me; certainly better than telling Detroit to go to hell, while subsidizing Nissans – or whatever the hell they build in those southern Republican senators’ states

  13. Julie Robinson said on February 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    All I saw was halftime and I’m not a Madonna fan so I hope someone here can explain the relationship between Roman gladiators and Egyptian dance moves. Of course it was lip-synched, but couldn’t they have fixed a bit more in the studio? Overall she moved like her arthritis was flaring up and her heels were too high to stay balanced. The Divine Miss M–yes, I’d love to see her take this on.

    I did really enjoy Downton Abbey.

  14. peter said on February 6, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Just before halftime my brother in law wondered if Madonna was going to play up the homoerotic angle, and about five seconds into the halftime show my lovely wife said “Well, that didn’t take long to find out.” Seriously, though, I thought the halftime show was pretty decent – although I give it high marks because they didn’t have the hundreds of squeaky clean teens run up and jump up and down like it was a sock hop that they seem to do every year.

    OTOH, that Cee Lo or whoever looked like Sargent Schulz in drag at the Stalag 13 annual masked ball. Achtung baby!

    I’m also one of the few who liked the Clint ad. And the Audi ad. And even the Seinfeld ads.

  15. brian stouder said on February 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Another dvr moment: Pam – who is apparently more observant than I am! – said “Whoa – she almost fell!”.

    And we backed up the show, and sure enough, Madge almost went down during one of her interactions with that (altogether odd) set.

    My opinion was that she earned her paycheck, if only for keeping straight where the hell she was supposed to go, and exactly when; and for not pitching entirely off that stage!

    Between the black stage and the bright lights, plus the other dancers (and gymnasts!) constantly careening from one spot to another – it was impressive to me that there were no collisions, and the star didn’t pitch off the stage and into the deep shadows. (she must have had a hell of a time seeing where she was supposed to be, as the show unfolded)

  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Hank Stuever makes a good point in his WaPo review that it really messes with the vibe of #BrandBowl when all the ads have been seen, parsed, and shrugged at on the internet days before the Big Broadcast. Can’t pull up WaPo on this computer now, not sure why, gotta go work.

  17. nancy said on February 6, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Here is Hank’s review, for those who are interested. (And the ad on that story featured Bodie from “The Wire” as a FedEx guy. Small world.)

  18. Kirk said on February 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Good game. Madonna was pretty much a sideshow, but then that describes her entire career.

  19. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

    The game was terrific. I thought it was especially fitting that Eli should triumph in the house his brother built.

    I share the general opinion that the ads were mostly meh. I liked the Chevy apocalypse one best, and I liked the Honda-Ferris Bueller thing more than I expected to. (I knew I was middle-aged when I started thinking of the Ferris Bueller kids as a bunch of brats who should be shipped off to military school.)

  20. Dorothy said on February 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I was feverishly finishing a baby quilt so my eyes were not on the screen – we only wanted to see the advertisements anyway, so we were recording it. At 8 PM we switched over to PBS for two hours anyway, and this morning after I got dressed for work, I zoomed through the first half to see the Madonna show. I thought it was expertly rehearsed and an improvement over past shows.

    Julie have you ever seen the 1963 movie “Cleopatra” with Liz Taylor? Madonna was re-creating the scene when the Egyptian Princess entered Rome on an uber-splashy scale.

  21. Scout said on February 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Like moe99 and Connie, I never even went near my TV this whole weekend. I did remember it was Super Bowl Sunday when I heard all the lawn mowers going at 7 am in the morning. All the neighborhood mens had to get their chores done early that day, I’m assuming.

    Madonna has always been only OK as a performer in my opinion, but where she really bombs is in interviews. She’s one of those people that you suspect might be pretty douchey, and as soon as she speaks all doubt is removed.

    on edit: Just found the Half Time show on YouTube. I thought the production values were pretty cool and Madonna performed fine. She does look a bit creaky and aged, but I thought the ridiculous footwear made that more obvious than it needed to be. The four dancer/gymnast guys in white were awesome.

  22. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

    The car companies and the loans? GOPers have no leg to stand on. Jobs, in the face of mindless, soulless opposition and obstructionism. Million and a half of them that GOPers would have disappeared, you aholes. Friend of mind says OBM is dead and GM lives, of course he comes back for two.

    And Madonna did look wobbly on her gams a couple of times. My problem with Ms. Boopsie Kabala is that she’s a dilettante poseur that writes crappy, derivative, indistinguishable-from-one-another songs that bore the daylights out of me. Now who in the world do they get for XLVII. I’m backing the Replacements, but what I’d really like to see is an NWA reunion, with Eazy E represented by Flava Flav. Rush Limbo in the Pats’ owner’s box. All the better watching them lose, and the no-interview shit postgame was the inerrantly classless, churlish behavior that Belicheater embodies.

    Collinsworth is a superb football analyst. Every time I hear him do a game, I think back to all those years of hearing how great Madden was, and I still can’t remember anything he said I didn’t already know. Biff! Pow! Bam! I just wish Collinsworth sounded a little less like Huckleberry Hound, or like he has a mouthful of Kaolin to satisfy his pica.

    Missed every ad. Why God created the remote.

  23. DellaDash said on February 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

    The game was the best…nail-biting to the second-shaving end!

    As for the creaky, gilded Madgefest…ugh! If you’re gonna lip-sync, do ya really have to strap on a headset mic? The rah rah prancing was beyond ludicrous. The stiletto-booted strutting often verged on teetering. And I swear her dance troupe had to haul her up off the floor a few times while dismay flickered momentarily through the plasticene that was formerly her face. Liked the guy-on-the-wire act. Unfortunately, flanking herself with Nicki Minaj and MIA served up a glaring contrast on how old moves look on young bodies.

  24. Joe K said on February 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Super bowl game was better than most. Liked the Doritos dog burying the cat and the Bud dog wego.The best ad was never seen in the U.S. but was a Bud ad shown in Canada. Two amateur hockey teams playing in a small rink at 6 in the morning are flash mobbed by fans and mascots and nhl announcers, go to you tube and put in flash fans 2012,there is also a short documentary on how they made it. Maddona, never got here back in the day don’t get her now. Always wondered how she explains her life style to her kids.(in fake British accent)”mummy has to show her vaJayJay so you can go to private school”
    Pilot Joe

  25. adrianne said on February 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

    The game was actually interesting, right up until the final 57 seconds. Brady almost pulled it off. Here in the Empire State, it was Eli love all the way!

    Madge definitely gave a shoutout to her huge gay audience, with those sweating Roman soldiers hauling her onto the field. And I enjoyed “Like a Prayer,” but her gospel choir seemed curiously all white. Strange…

  26. Dorothy said on February 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

    M-woman keeps herself in pretty good shape, but she is in her 50’s. Imagine the moves she could have busted if she’d worn shoes that allowed her to dance full-force? Expertly put, DellaDash, about the contrast between the singers!

  27. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I didn’t like Clint’s over-the-top Clint voice. It might have worked if he was doing a Clint caricature, but the commercial was not intended to be humorous, so it just seemed ponderous and silly at the same time.
    I turned on Masterpiece at 8, and sorry Julie, but I’ve just about had it with the series. For the past couple of episodes I’ve been muttering “like I didn’t see that coming” but last night was the first time I yelled “Oh come ON!” at the TV a couple of times.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching it.

  28. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Oh, by the way, what happened to those graphic anti-abortion ads that were supposed to run as political ads in a few markets during Superbowl? Did that happen?

  29. Deborah said on February 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

    “dismay flickered momentarily through the plasticene that was formerly her face”

    Great line Della. See this is why I read every comment as well as the original nn.c post.

  30. LAMary said on February 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Bruce Vilanch grew up in Paterson, NJ and is on the list of famous Patersonians with Chuck Connors and Bucky Pizzarelli. I’m on the list of brush with fame Patersonians.

    And Sue, I’m with you on Downton Abbey. I’ll keep watching, but it’s getting lamer each week. I’m hanging in for Maggie Smith and the great hats.

  31. jcburns said on February 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Um, JWfromNJ, have you tried getting free HDTV off of the airwaves? I can’t imagine there’s a corner of NJ that doesn’t get at least an OK digital signal from an NBC affiliate in NYC, Philly, or, hey even Atlantic City. (Well, maybe up at the northernmost tip of the state…)

  32. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

    FAvorite play of the game: Brady standing alone in the endzone and just grounding the ball way down the middle of the field, spotting the Jints 2. What in the world was he doing? That is about as strange as anything I’ve ever seen in a football game. And how did that not draw an immediate flag? No two ways about it. Throw the ball away in the endzone, that’s a safety. Automatic. Officials looked like they were trying to figure out some way to use the “tuck rule” to expunge the play.

    What the Greedy Oleaginous Plutocrats woud have done about the automobile companies. Fit their plan for single term perfectly. There would be 1.5 million more Americans unemployed. Their behavior is treasonous.

    On Downton, the Patrick subplot seems like a little too much horrible luck for Lady Mary and the Crawley family, but Vera dead on the floor was a welcome moment.

    For the life of me, I can’t remember another ad with Clint Eastwood, ever.

  33. Julie Robinson said on February 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Of course DA is predictable, but it’s well-done-predictable. The costumes, the accents, the house itself, it’s all so beautiful, and I’m a sucker for British costume dramas. Methinks that Elizabeth McGovern has gone the same route as Madge with the face, though.

    Dorothy, I bet I saw Cleopatra as a kid but not since–thanks. Della, you made me laugh.

    One more nit to pick: the marching band was on the correct foot but Madonna and the dancers were not. The first rule of marching, be it band or army, is that you lead off with your left foot. You can always tell if a choreographer has marched and all too many have not.

    The Straight No Chaser acapella version of Like a Prayer, superior in all ways: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSX4CTdprnI

  34. brian stouder said on February 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Caliban – forget the intentional grounding (and btw, I didn’t like the late flag, either – because I didn’t like the call, but we digress!); when was the last time during a Super Bowl that both teams managed to get penalized for having 12 players on the field?

    That was strange.

  35. susan said on February 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I never watch concussionball, and, well, don’t even have a teevee; however, being at a stoopid bowl gathering, I did peek in to the teevee room near the end of the game. I thought that almost-last football play, when the large person with the football tried NOT to get a touchdown, but fell backwards into the goal area anyway, was funny. I’d never heard of not wanting to score a touchdown, but found the reasoning pretty interesting. See? One can find something in most anything fascinating, even concussionball.

  36. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Sue @28: I think those were supposed to run regionally.

  37. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Brian,

    The illegal participation penalties have probably never happened before. But seriously, there was not a Pats receiver within 40 yards of that pass that wasn’t on the sideline. That is automatic, a serious brain cloud for The QB diva, but I’m sure he could be informative about whose fault it really was, since it could not possibly have been his own.

  38. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Here you go, LAMary:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVMtffzbAwk

  39. MarkH said on February 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Scout @21 — Absolutely true about Madonna when she’s interviewed and trying to be an “authority” on something. Some years back she decided it was time for her to bless everyone with her childrens books. Part of her tour to plug these was, of course, to go on Letterman “knowing” he’d be friendly to her. Wrong.

    “So, what made you decide to go into childrens books? Why decide to write these?”
    “Well, I’ve read a lot of these over the years by the great childrens authors, and…”
    “Really? Like who? Who’s books have you read?”
    “Um, well, you know, all the great ones, and um, well…”

    Letterman let her hang like this for a good 10 – 15 excruciating seconds before he changed the subject.

    Not impressed with anything else but the game last night.

    EDIT – Caliban, I agree on that endzone play. It seemed the time lag on the flag was the refs couldn’t believe it was Brady who brain-farted like that. Also agree on Belichick’s need to end his classlessness, disappearing like that. Although he did not avoid Coughlin at the end like I expected. If I were a reporter at one of his post game interviews, I’d ask, “is there anything that gives you, or has ever given you, a real belly laugh?”

  40. Sherri said on February 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    The Pacific time zone is the best place to watch football. The game started at 3:30 in the afternoon for us, and was over long before time to watch Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, we’re in the worst place to watch the Olympics, because NBC won’t show us anything live, not even when the Olympics are happening in our time zone (Vancouver).

  41. DellaDash said on February 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    To my ‘Fellowes’ Downton addicts…

    Recorded last night’s episode so haven’t seen it yet. Now I’m looking forward to identifying the “Oh, come ON” moment.

    Sue, how about a DA drinking game to get you through these plot-troubled times? You’re bound to come up with something boozily droll.

    Julie, like you, I need my anglophile-impeccable-production-values-Maggie Smith fix.

  42. Jeff Borden said on February 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I thought the half-time show was a lovely example of wretched excess. I “get” that putting on a show in an enormous cavern of a building before 70,000-plus requires some big visuals, but the whole frigging thing was laughable. I’m fairly agnostic about Madonna –I own a few pf her CDs– but find it jarring that one of the shrewdest pop marketing mavens in musical history insists on calling what she does “art.”

    My favorite commercial was one I’d already seen many times for the Fiat 500 Abarth. I know it’s sexist –the leggy Italian model morphing into a black Abarth– but it worked for me. It probably underscores my overall shallowness. The big disappointments for me were Coke and Budweiser. Bland and predictable across the board. Usually, those companies bust out some cool stuff.

  43. Judybusy said on February 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Re: Downton Abbey: some of the plot lines are getting a little over-the-top. We joked that they must have hired some American writers. However, we definitely will be watching it going forward. The acting, costumes, etc are just too good. We start off the evening watching Nature; last night was about the annual flooding of the Amazon basin. The coolest bit there was seeing a living raft of fire ants getting to dry ground. Oh, and the swimming tarantula-like spider!

  44. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I heard that Shirley MacLaine is going to play Cora’s mother on Season 3. I hope Julian bases her on Alva Vanderbilt. Any of you DA fans who haven’t read anything on Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt, get cracking – you’re missing good background information on the whole American title-buying thing. Alva Vanderbilt would give the Dowager Countess Violet a run for her money.

  45. JWfromNJ said on February 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @ J.C. – I no longer live in NJ but when I did it was in the extreme NW corner of the state about 65 miles from NYC. Analog was spotty and friends still in the area say DTV never worked.
    When I lived in Bluffton Ind. I was a big DTV enthusiast and had a Winegard Square Shooter mounted below the eaves. We were around 30 miles from the Ft. Wayne towers and everything came in fine. Here in Florida I live about 90 miles from Orlando and about the same from West Palm so I haven’t tried. I live in a one story home in a very flat area.
    I miss local news and events like this or the Oscars but otherwise its been tolerable. Roku’s offerings increase all the time and now include most NBC news offerings, plus its easy to plug my laptop into an HDMI port on the big TV. I also rebuilt an older desktop with a good PCI video card, more memory, and a 500 gig drive as a networked media server. Not ready to shell out the extra $$$ for TV but do have the fastest Uverse fiber optic package for all the pc’s and devices in the house.

  46. Julie Robinson said on February 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Here’s a fun comparison of the DA actors in costume and real life. Most of the men don’t look that different, but the women are quite another story: http://www.papermag.com/2012/02/downton_abbey_stars_out_of_cos.php. You gentlemen will especially enjoy the transformation of lowly maid Ethel. Safe for work, but just barely.

  47. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    “I Been Thru A LOT…But There Are Ppl In This World w/ More Serious Problems So I Cant Hang The Head….Thank You Lord #Blessed”

    –@TiUnderwood, New England wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, after being cut late Saturday by the Patriots, a move that left longtime Super Bowl attendees (like me) wondering if a player had ever been released on the day before a Super Bowl for a reason other than disciplinary.
    (from Peter King’s SI column)

    Pats and Belicheat cut this guy day before Super Bowl, replaced him with a DL that never entered the game. WTF? Guy is a relative of Sauron. Maybe Underwood might have held on to the one that got away from Welker. Hubris meets comeuppance? Perfect.

  48. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Della Dash – how about a predictions drinking game? Get out your teacups, people. Shout out the obvious prediction when it happens, such as when William and Matthew were paired going to war together – “William is going to die but Matthew won’t!” Everyone who agrees hits their teacup. Then, when the prediction comes true – “There goes William, Matt’s still here!” – another hit.
    My heavens, if I did this I’d need help getting off the couch by the middle of every episode.

  49. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Julie,

    That is very entertaining. Carson in spandex bike shorts. And the picture of Ethel out of costume gives some insight into how she ended up in her current predicament.

  50. moe99 said on February 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Shouldn’t we be focusing on this?

    http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/five-ads-featuring-smiling-asians-celebrating-americas-demise.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

  51. Jeff Borden said on February 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I feel so culturally bereft. All this talk of classy television fare like “Downton Abbey” and I sit here anxiously awaiting the return next Sunday of “The Walking Dead.”

  52. Jakash said on February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Saturday Night Live actually had a funny Downton Abbey spoof commercial this week. (I know, it’s hard to imagine something being funny on SNL.) It was a promo for the show, as if it were being shown on Spike TV. The video is on this post, currently. In their infinite wisdom, the folks at NBC have had it taken down from YouTube, while not having it available on Hulu.
    http://social.entertainment.msn.com/tv/blogs/tv-buzz-blog.aspx?blog=2080&feat=c3a7f528-4251-421b-8630-975cf14c70ad

  53. Dorothy said on February 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” was on Turner Classic Movies this Saturday morning and it was a treat to see Maggie Smith circa 1969! I had not seen that movie in years so naturally I had to watch it all over again. I could listen to those actors using Scottish accents all day and night, particularly the word “girls”. It sounds nothing like the way we say it.

  54. coozledad said on February 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    moe99: This ought to put Asian-Americans on notice about the inherent racism of the Republican party. Wasn’t he chair of the house intelligence committee under Emperor Shortbus?
    Maybe they can find a suitable charity for Hoekstra to shitcan once he’s through losing his ass to Debbie Stabenow.

  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Just wait ’til we get to the reveal in another season or two, approaching the late 1930’s, of Cora being a Jew and clever Freddie trotted out as a natural offspring of the Earl, full-grown and ready to inherit. Predictable, yes, but fun to watch in how they play out the details.

  56. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Those ads are the worst I’ve seen since the one that featured a smiling Fidel Castro lookalike saying “Muchas gracias” about this or that imaginary Democratic outrage.

  57. beb said on February 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve been away for most of the day. When I got back and say there there56 comments on today’s thread I wondered what could be so exciting and stimulating… Did Newt say something stuppid? Did Romney say something stupid. Did Michelle O. wear something snazzy? Sadly, no. It was football. Which I didn’t watch, and never watch and if I were forced to watch it would be four hours of my life that I won’t get back.

    Our born in Michigan Republican politicians have really found a new low with these fake Chinese ads bashing America. You’d think Republicans want America to fail!

  58. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Friends of Scott Walker on Facebook. Not misanthropic at all. And, I imagine, illegal, if the shitheel’s not just making it up.

    Newtria rewrites history. What a pitiful Piece O’ Crap.

    Oh, dem social media.

  59. coozledad said on February 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    We the Chinese. An Ad for the Democratic Party.
    Camera pans into an office. An executive from a Chinese manufacturing firm sits typing into his PC.
    Oh, Hello. My name is Lao Fung. I’m the CFO of a company that manufactures solar panels. We’ve had hella business lately because one of your political parties is trying to shut down the production of solar panels. It’s mystifying that you’ve basically ceded the market to us, even though you have a ten to twenty year head start on research and development. We were deeply concerned about hostilities breaking out over dwindling oil reserves in the Middle East, but now it looks as though we’ll be taking the lead building the world’s escape hatch from fossil fuels. And you’ll be buying our solar panels. And batteries, cause you don’t even try making those, either.

    It’s what the Vietnamese call a Nguyen Nguyen situation.

    That’s a joke.

    I want to personally thank the Republican party for helping send my kids to Brandeis.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an assload of money to count.

  60. Dexter said on February 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Does anyone absolutely know for certain that Madonna was lip-syncing, as has been unchallenged here today?
    I am wavering…I think she was live-singing.

    http://earsucker.com/2012/did-madonna-lip-sync-during-super-bowl-half-time-show/

    Well, maybe not….

  61. MaryRC said on February 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Judybusy, I agree with you about the OTT plotlines in DA but the little details never cease to delight me. Like the Earl getting so excited about daringly wearing a tux with black tie for dinner with the family instead of white tie and tails. A new era dawns indeed! Not to mention the snide cracks about Sir Richard being the sort of man who has to buy his own furniture. And putting in bathrooms — how vulgar!

  62. Julie said on February 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I cringe every time I hear Lucas Oil called the house that Peyton built…I believe it is the house built mostly with Indiana taxpayer money.

  63. Sue said on February 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Della, don’t read this, spoilers ahead:
    MaryRC, I laughed out loud at his Lordship’s consternation at being forced by his thoughtless wife to dine alone. Really, if she’s going to be so unsupportive he will have no choice but to take up with the housemaid. Cora had better come around and quick.
    And on a different note, Matthew’s expression at the end of the episode was priceless. I remember an episode of Friends where a character describes how soap opera actors were supposed to assume that thoughtful expression you always see on daytime dramas (by thinking to themselves “I wonder if I left the stove on?”) Apparently the English period drama equivalent is to ask yourself “Did I just feel a tingle in my nether regions?”

  64. moe99 said on February 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Here’s another fraud circulating among the right wing mouth breathers on the internet:

    The Plot Thickens

    An intensive investigation has revealed the identity of the man whose Social Security number (SSN) is being used by President Obama: Jean Paul Ludwig, who was born in France in 1890, immigrated to the United States in 1924, and was assigned SSN 042-68-4425 (Obama’s current SSN) on or about March 1977.

    Ludwig lived most of his adult life in Connecticut .. Because of that, his SSN begins with the digits 042, which are among only a select few reserved for Connecticut residents.

    Obama never lived or worked in that state! Therefore, there is no reason on earth for his SSN to start with the digits 042. None whatsoever!

    Now comes the best part! Ludwigspent the final months of his life in Hawaii, where he died.

    Conveniently, Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, worked part-time in the Probate Office in the Honolulu Hawaii Courthouse, and therefore had access to the SSNs of deceased individuals.

    The Social Security Administration was never informed of Ludwig’s death, and because he never received Social Security benefits there were no benefits to stop and therefore, no questions were ever raised.

    The suspicion, of course, is that Dunham, knowing her grandson was not a U.S. Citizen, either because he was bornin Kenya or became a citizen of Indonesia upon his adoption by Lolo Soetoro simply scoured the probate records until she found someone who died who was not receiving Social Security benefits, and selected Mr LudwigsConnecticut SSN for Obama.

    Just wait until Trump gets past the birth certificate and onto the issue of Barry O’s use of a stolen SSN. You will see leftist heads exploding, because they will have no way of defending Obama.Although many Americans do not understand the meaning of the term “natural born” there are few who do not understand that if you are using someone else’s SSN it is a clear indication of fraud.

    Let’s all get this information out to everybody on our mailing lists.

    If the voters of this great nation can succeed in bringing this lying, deceitful, cheating, corrupt, impostor to justice it will be the biggest and best news in decades for our country and the world.

    Here it is debunked in snopes:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/ssn.asp

  65. caliban said on February 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Too damned funny:
    Willard won Nevada because Trump endorsed him. Trump says so.

  66. coozledad said on February 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    moe: We’re on the listserve for the county Republican party, and every other day they’re circulating some fresh “outrage”. Last week it was video of Obama kicking a door open (a comedy clip from Leno). Next week, this will be printed as fact:
    http://wonkette.com/462489/rep-john-fleming-shocked-by-abortionplex-scoop-in-the-onion
    They’re not bright folks to begin with, and hate is warping them into an ever dimmer, more repellent life form. Shoot me, but I’m going to go against party doctrine and say I don’t think the proposed labor camps will work. At the next meeting of our cell, I’m going to suggest we look into intracranial stem cell replacement therapies for running dog bandits and their lackeys. After prayers to that week’s lord of darkness, of course.

  67. DellaDash said on February 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    What a brazen tease you are, Sue@63…if I was only allowed to read one comment, which one do you think I’d choose? No worries though…someone else’s spoiler is added relish to my anticipation.

  68. maryinIN said on February 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    On Downton Abbey — I can’t believe how in control of her emotions Lady Mary is — especially as she is the daughter with no interests or skills that would be “useful” in the coming age of social change. Doesn’t she have some trepidation as she sees it approach? Or is she in complete denial?

    On the Obama fake SSN — thanks for the heads-up — it will appear in my in box shortly, I’m sure. This is why I can’t attend my college friends’ reunion this year: it will definitely be brought up and I will be the only one who won’t’ believe it. I’m so tired of speaking up, and it now occurs to me that I would have made a terrible martyr if called to the test.

  69. Suzanne said on February 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I left the Super B for Downton Abbey. Yeah, it was a little over the top, but I will watch nonetheless because I think it speaks to the upheaval of our day. I know I’m watching my chosen profession (library) go down the tubes, but don’t know what direction to go, and probably Mary doesn’t either. And will she end up with Matthew?

    I’m glad to know about the fake Obama SSN, too. I regularly send Snopes links to counteract those kinds of things, but I have had people ask how I know they are reliable. Conspiracy theorists never stop, do they? Must be an awful way to view life…

  70. Bitter Scribe said on February 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    This Fleming guy actually votes? On laws? That I have to obey?

  71. moe99 said on February 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/poll-1-in-5-americans-believe-obama-is-a-cactus,18127/

    the next onion article the Republicans will fall for.

  72. Suzanne said on February 7, 2012 at 7:15 am

    This is rich:
    http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120207/NEWS07/302079977

  73. Maggie Jochild said on February 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I love the Betty White photo going around FB which is captioned “I hear that was some football thingy happening around Madonna’s latest concert.” Basically how I felt.

    The one and only time I went to Dollywood, I wore a button all day which said “More Madonna, less Jesus.” And survived.

    I found out this morning that one of the writers of the Clint Eastwood ad was poet Matthew Dickman.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2012/02/clint-eastwood-chrysler-super-bowl.html

    More poetry, less football.

  74. maryinIN said on February 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Suzanne,
    Re the story you linked to: This gets weirder and weirder, doesn’t it? I hope and think I’m immune to conspiracy theories, and yet there must be a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff in this. BTW, because of the spell check, I just realized that “weird” is an exception to the “i before e, except after c or when sounded like a” rule. I wonder how I missed that all these years.

  75. jcburns said on February 7, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Karen Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate who’s been blamed for pushing the Susan G. Komen Foundation to stop awarding grants to Planned Parenthood, has resigned.

  76. caliban said on February 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Would somebody please make Boehner explain this arrant idiocy. That is specifically anti-jobs on Oompa-Loompa’s part, but he’s going to try to blame Obama for obstructing jobs creation for vetoing a bizarrely unacceptable bill. Sleazy bastard.

    Canadian tarsands development has displaced caribou herds, and led to declining numbers of the beasts. The Canadian government’s solution? Poison wolves, the natural predator of caribou. Canada’s chief executive is the Great White North version of W Shrub.

    How did anybody at SGKF ever decide it was a good idea to hire a woman that couldn’t get elected in Georgia with unassailable Teabanger positions on every issue?

  77. Connie said on February 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Handel’s resignation statement is odd, sort of a not my fault thing. Love the headline on Jezebel: Noted Liar Karen Handel Defensively Resigns From Komen

  78. Sue said on February 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Handel’s resignation does not explain why she was hired in the first place. Until I hear otherwise, I will assume that removing her did not remove the corporate culture that welcomed her then gave her free rein to move her agenda forward.

  79. Sue said on February 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Think Progress is reporting that Handel has refused a severance package, taking away any confidentiality requirements she might have to honor.
    Geez, pass the popcorn and turn on Fox, which should be her first stop.

  80. caliban said on February 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Happy Charles Dickens’ birthday.

    There either is or is not, that’s the way things are. The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it’s red. But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day. I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.

    ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  81. Jolene said on February 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Google has a doodle in honor of Dickens. Check it ou on their homepage.

  82. Jakash said on February 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    When I saw that Chrysler ad, the subliminal resonance to me was the Reagan “Morning in America” campaign. My thinking was that Eastwood is a Republican, right? And if he’s talking about turning things around, I took it as an indication that maybe we’re not doing well enough with the President we have. So, though I didn’t think it was obnoxious, or anything, I assumed it was slanted toward the right. Imagine my surprise to hear from Rove that it was essentially an Obama campaign commercial. Hmmm… guess it depends where you’re coming from. Eastwood maintains there was no political intent at all and Oh’Really? manages to come off seeming reasonable in the clip from his show at the end of this article:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/la-pn-clint-eastwood-defends-super-bowl-ad-denies-obama-ties-20120207,0,4216753.story

  83. Judybusy said on February 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Now that someone on nnc has introduced Letters of Note to me, I check it every day. Here is their offering for Dickens today.

    Also, the send up of Downton Abbey for SpikeTV was great–thanks, Jakash.

  84. Sherri said on February 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t care that Handel resigned. The defunding of PP was the final straw, not the only one. Get your pink out of my face.

  85. Little Bird said on February 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Handel reveresed th PP defunding as her last act before resigning, I think. I need to go back and re-read the article.

    Edit: either way the desiscion was reversed.

  86. caliban said on February 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    The Dickens correspondence is delightful. The letter that was yesterday’s entry, from Nick Cave (a personal hero of mine) to MTV is also a hoot.

  87. JWfromNJ said on February 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Has anyone else checked out Lilyhammer, the new series on Netflix?

    There are some decent laughs and it’s an interesting look at Norway, but the language differences and subtitles (as it’s a joint production) make it a little repetitive in terms of dialog. Steven Van Zandt’s character is not much different from his character on the Soprano’s but it’s a decent fish-out-of-water tale, and he’s quite the wheeler-dealer managing to bump up his lot in life without much financial output. Bribes didn’t work for him so he jumped right into blackmail and extortion. I watched the first three of the eight episodes.
    It is interesting to see internet based television evolve though, especially since Netflix is a big component of our family’s viewable content.

  88. Deborah said on February 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    How did I miss Letters of Note previously? No matter, I’m glad I found it here today, thanks for the link Judybusy. I now have it bookmarked.

  89. alex said on February 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    JWfromNJ–

    I noticed upthread you mentioned having been stationed in Bluffton for a time. Did you work for Boobieri?

    I interviewed with him during my senior year of college. First thing out of his mouth was “How’s cum yer not married?” It was all I could do to resist saying “Because I’m not white trash,” although the real reason would have been more than he could have handled, no doubt. Though I found him affable, I chafed at his politics and knew I’d be unhappy there.

  90. MaryRC said on February 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I followed the link on the Letters of Note site to Dickens’ letter to his wife when their baby daughter died suddenly (his wife was away from home at the time). He writes that the baby is very sick and that she shouldn’t be surprised to find the baby dead by the time she gets home. I found it very disturbing. I know it was considered the kind thing in those days to break bad news gently by degrees, but it seemed terribly cruel to give the mother hope and make her rush home thinking that she might be at least in time to say goodbye.

    MaryinIN, re Lady Mary: I think this is where Sir Richard comes in. If you can’t beat them, join them.

    Sue: Another useful acting tip from Joey Tribbiani.

  91. Bitter Scribe said on February 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Joan Walsh at Salon had a good take on Rove’s pouting over that Eastwood Chrysler commercial. She basically said that the Republicans are now the party of doom, gloom and negativity, to the extent that anyone who says things are looking up is automatically suspected of being an Obama/Democrat partisan.

    This is quite a contrast from the morning-in-America, shining-city-on-a-hill, sunny optimism of Reagan. Now the GOP is literally selling America short, in the stock-market sense: their fortunes go up if America’s go down. Puts a whole new light on their incessant bleating about the deficits that never seemed to bother them under Bush. It’s almost as if they don’t want the economy to recover.

  92. Tim said on February 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Karl Rove’s disliking the “halftime in America” commercial makes me think better of it. (And I liked it to begin with, though I agree it’s time to put that particular campaign to rest.) It seems the Republicans have become so crazed with anger at Obama that they’ll lash out at anything positive that’s happened on his watch.

  93. Judybusy said on February 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    MaryRC, that acting tip was good!

    Bitter Scribe, I think the Rs don’t want the economy to improve in the short run, because it would make the presidential election that much harder to win. In the long run, as has often been observed here, I believe they want the economy to largely benefit the top classes. I heard this self-serving (paraphrased) quote from Romney on NPR after he took Nevada: “The economy hasn’t improved under Obama!” The newscaster cuts in to share that the jobs numbers have recently improved. Romney in literally the next breath: “Obama can’t take credit for that. That was entrepreuneurial Americans creating jobs.” So, clearly, no matter the situation, if it’s bad, they blame the President. If it’s good, he can’t get the credit.

  94. caliban said on February 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Mary RC. Baby’s deaths in those days were almost commonplace, and Dickens was kind to be forthright. Can anybody imagine telling a spouse your child had died? Nope. I doubt it. Dickens was felicitous as he always was with the English language. Did people speak so well because of Dickens, or vice versa?

    Something I find dissociative in odern literary criticism is that critics pit the oletimers from the 19th against the 20th Century masters. Somebody want to tell me De Lillo in Underworld did not write a Dickens novel. Or that Winters’ Tale was not straight outta Dickens. You can tell me that but GOPers can piss on my pants and tell me wealth is trickling down.

    JW you’re from New Jersey. You know Silvio is a mook. Amazing guitar player (Nils Lofgrens’ separated from birth twin) and campaigner:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY3w9gLjEV4 James Brown did his own take.

    Only character on the Sopranos Paulie was scared of. Still heartbreaking. Reminiscent of Samuel Clemens talking about his beloved wife and daughters. And what was on God’s planner the day She was supposed to give Mark Twain a son. From my impressions from reading everything at a very young age, I really think, as much as my brothers and I loved Tom Swift and Sax Rohmer (particularly) )If you have a male relative in the 10-13 range that needs a boost on reading enjoyment, the Fu Manchu books are awesome. We also lost my brother Matt when he was a little kid.And I understand the correct usage, I’m doing the kid usage. Awesome. The 60s Hammer films with C. Lee as Fu were pretty good. Any of you think that the Pine Devils was the best thing that bunch ever produced? Cristophur and Paulie waking to think they were in danger? Truly excellent.

    Whatever I think doan mean dick, so We kidding?

    One of my favorite books is a very hefty paperback I found left in the rain at the library dropoff on time. Flannery O’Connor’s letters.

  95. caliban said on February 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Anybody care one way or another?

  96. Jolene said on February 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    So what’s everyone thinking re the requirement to include coverage for contraception in health insurance plans? The best reaction I’ve heard was from Joan Walsh of Salon, who said on MSNBC that she was going to start an organization called The 98%’ which refers to the percentage of American Catholic women who, at some time in their lives, use contraception. She went on to say that it wasn’t clear why President Obama should listen to the bishops when “we” (She is Catholic.) don’t. Pretty funny, I thought.

  97. JWfromNJ said on February 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    @Alex –
    I had the unique distinction of being the reporter that “replaced” Jim B after his death, at least in terms of the beats. It was a unique experience for lack of a better word. The entire culture at the N-B was deeply shaped by his influence and the staff for the most part were used to walking on eggshells – this may offend anyone from that newspaper who reads this but it was like a dysfunctional family that spent decades on tip-toes trying not to draw the gaze of an abusive patriarch. No initiative or ability to change. NN’s post afer his death was very perceptive.
    Jim would not have liked me and without me knowing him in life I am comfortable saying I would not have liked him or worked there. Things have changed since I left the newspaper -like the use of proper AP Style and not injecting overt opinion into each story. People in Wells County seemed surprised that I was not willing to be a defacto member of local government processes. Anytime I read minutes from meetings under his tenure it was clear he participated in most meetings and not with a light hand.
    I lost count of the number of times I was told, “that’s not what Jim would have done.” My first and one of my biggest dust-ups came a few weeks into my employment when one of the county the school board’s discussed a change in transportation that would likely concern many parents – a combined bus route and consolidated opening times. The morning after the story ran the president of that board appeared to take the publisher to task. I must say the publisher had my back and the gist of the concern was that Jim would have kept that out and tried to make them look good. The president admitted I had the story correct and did not misquote anyone – it just wasn’t what JB would have done.
    Many decisions at the newspaper were made by the WWJD factor and 90% of times we weren’t talking about Jesus. I pushed for many changes and wanted to see a lot less of the public shaming factor JB specialized in and more modern news decisions – like stop covering field fires. My opinion (and people there will disagree) was that there were no newsroom leaders and other staff that came up under JB had no leadership inclinations as that wouldn’t have been tolerated. And my guess is that three of those people were gay and made decisions from deep in the closet to appease their master and the community where they reside – which I always felt was a sad loss for those staffers.
    It was a very trying experience in many ways and I’m glad I was the one to take that plunge because the folks who came after me didn’t have to endure a rasher of shit everyday and brougt outside talent to the team – they even have a naturalized Kiwi on staff who bears a striking outside resemblance to JB but couldn’t be more unlike him in every other way and he feels he was hired on his look and that seems very likely.
    Aren’t you glad you asked?

  98. alex said on February 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    The bishops didn’t have any problem when insurance carriers covered Viagra but not birth control, and we all know how many men use Viagra with procreation in mind.

    When they banish meat from the menu on Fridays in hospital and university cafeterias, then I might be inclined to take them more seriously. If they would bother to look, I’m sure they could find all sorts of third-party vendors running afoul of Catholic dogma and “infringing” on their “religious liberty,” as they put it.

    This must be the season for political crocodile tears. La Boehner is so caught up in the fervor that he actually sheds some real ones.

    On edit: JWfromNJ, I sure am. Will respond at greater length in a new post.

  99. brian stouder said on February 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    So what’s everyone thinking re the requirement to include coverage for contraception in health insurance plans?

    Jolene, in addition to the points Alex made, another question I’d have is – can they deny coverage to the families of people who weren’t married in the Catholic Church? Afterall, they shouldn’t have to cover concubines and bastards, right?

    Or, when a person falls away from the church, or (worse) becomes a Baptist, can they cut off the infidel altogether?

    Their schools take taxpayer money, and their insurance pools benefit from being larger than just exclusively Catholic groups; it seems to me they should be able to accept societal norms, and trust their faithful to make their own informed choices.

    Really – and I invoke His name not entirely in vain – what in God’s name is gained by this relentless, direct, and bluntly misogynistic assault on women’s health and women’s independence?

    I am heartily sick and tired of hearing one after the next – proposed law/policy/amendment/referendum/initiative that places women squarely under the thumb of small-minded men (and not a few pea-brained women, like the now-deposed Ms Handel [she has a Dickensonian name, come to think of it] of Komeny-infamy)

  100. alex said on February 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    JW—

    That pretty much sums up that rag and some others around here. When news releases from James Dobson are in section 1, you’re dealing with quite a special animal: A lapdog.

    When I met the man back in 1985, he was quite something to behold, grotesquely thin and hunched over and looking about as frail as someone twice his age. I can’t imagine what he must have looked like by the aughts because he looked like death warmed over back then. He spent a fair amount of time showing me old pictures of himself with politicians and demagogues whom he happened to meet over his many years in the business.

    As for the interview, he pretty much cut to the chase when he demanded to know why I was unmarried at 23. Perhaps in his world any postpubescent male who isn’t married is either gay or banging whores or up to something no good.

    He foisted me off onto his wife, who took me out to eat somewhere. A pleasant though not particularly memorable woman. As for him, simply unforgettable.

    I recall that he interviewed my dad about something one time and my dad was quite pleased with him, saying that Jim Barbieri was the only reporter to have gotten things exactly right. Well, of course. Jim Barbieri editorialized.

  101. JWfromNJ said on February 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    The stories about JB were pretty consistent though – he would fall asleep kneeling on the floor with his head on his desk chair and in the end days they would find him there in the morning, with drool all over the chair.
    My favorite story involved him and his wife taking a day trip to see Mt. Rushmore (which if I recall they got for free). Jim calculated the miles flown by the commercial airliners and submitted them for mileage reimbursement and after initially being denied he got his way, ’cause no one was going to deny him and technically he had traveled that far and written a few stories about the trip.
    When I wrote my food column one week I wrote about Shapiro’s Deli in Indy and I submitted miles from the Bluffton to Indy leg of a trip to pick up my daughter and attend a band competition that I also wrote about in Indy – didn’t even submit the cost of my meal – and got reamed for the audacity. Lesson – Jim had his own rules that didn’t apply to mere mortals.

  102. Linda said on February 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Bitter Scribe @91:

    See, we are in a bizzaro-universe version of the 1980s, as I’ve long contended. Another sign is that it’s the Republicans who whine and carp and take every slight with a giant hissy fit. It marked the Dems as wusses in the 1980s, and now the wuss crown has been passed on.